We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet…

I never thought that within a few days of starting this blog, my only two posts would coincide.

Today I learned that members of the Westboro Baptist church are planning on protesting at the funeral services of President Gordon B. Hinckley. They plan on holding up signs declaring President Hinckley a false prophet and one that says “Hinckley is in Hell.”

They say they are protesting because President Hinckley was too ambigous on his position about homosexuals and should have taken a stronger stand against the homosexual lifestyle (http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695248839,00.html).

At first I was angry when I heard about their protests. And I wouldn’t have felt badly if someone driving by accidently hit their gas instead of their brakes and mowed them all down. Then I decided that an angry reaction is exactly what these people want and exactly what President Hinckley would have preached against. I can just imagine President Hinckley welcoming them into the Conference Center and extending to them the friendship and love he was known for.

My advice to anyone going to President Hinckley’s funeral on Saturday is to ignore these people and not let their messages and signs of hate distract from the Spirit and love you feel toward President Hinckley. They will only be a few among several hundred thousand. Several hundred thousand people standing together and singing “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet” will always be louder than any sign spewing hate.

Today I read what Thomas S. Monson wrote about President Hinckley. Monson will most likely be the next prophet of the church and I already sustain him. I’d like to quote from Monson and what he said about President Hinckley:

“President Hinckley was prodigious in his work ethic and was totally dedicated to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was a friend to one and all and a leader who inspired spirituality. His outreach on an international scale was unprecedented. He was truly a prophet for our time. Like the Master, he devoted his life to doing good, and God was surely with him. His life was a gift to the world.”

When I think of these words, I can’t help but think that no one will say them about “Reverend” Fred Phelps and his band of hatemonger followers. The path to true happiness is never and was never through hate. Love, friendship, acceptance, this is what life is about. President Hinckley never met a person who wasn’t his friend. God Bless President Hinckley, his family, his friends, and all those who have dedicated their lives to promoting peace, love, and friendship, just like the Savior did.


Praise to the Man…

On Sunday, January 27, 2008, at 7:00 pm, Gordon B. Hinckley, prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by his loving family. He was 97 years old.
As a member of the church, President Hinckley’s passing is bittersweet for me. I was 16 and a junior in high school when he was called to be the next prophet. In the four years I took Seminary, there were 3 prophets of the church. I was born when Spencer W. Kimball was the prophet, but for most of my life, Ezra Taft Benson was the prophet, and yet I never felt the same connection with Pres. Benson that I did with Pres. Hinckley. When President Hinckley was called to be the 15th President of the Church, you could just feel a new life being breathed into the church. He was 84 years old then and had an enthusiasm that a man 1/2 his age would envy.

President Hinckley left a great legacy. He was the most traveled President in church history. He traveled endlessly making it his mission to visit wherever there were church members, even if the congregation was as small as 30 people. He loved the people and it was easy to see that they loved him back. When he spoke, you felt like he was talking directly to you.

Of the 124 temples in the world, 76 were built while he was President. He felt that those who lived far away from a temple shouldn’t have to sacrfice their life savings for one visit. I remember watching his trip to Africa and announcing that a temple would be built in Ghana. The audience erupted in applause, joyful cheers and shouts. Tears streamed down my face as I thought of the sacrifices those members made in order to have a temple built near them, when I live within driving distance of 10 temples.

What I liked most about President Hinckley was his great sense of humor. There wasn’t a Conference talk given where he didn’t have a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. Knowing that you can be devout but still have fun and laugh is a great testament to the man he was.

He had the innate ability to connect with people. I think one of his greatest messages over the last 12 years as he served was to love and serve your neighbor no matter what religion, race, color, or creed. He taught church members to reach out to those around them, not only through his words, but through his actions, and through his work with religious leaders around the world. After Pope John Paul II died, he spoke immediately in General Conference about what a great man he was and the respect he had for him. Many of the religious leaders throughout Utah came out and spoke about what a friend President Hinckley had been to their congregation. He was very insistent that people have the right to worship how, where, and what they may.

He was always preaching about peace. He had a great testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You never doubted that President Hinckley new with assurity that Jesus was the Christ, and he didn’t care what other religions said, because he KNEW he was a Christian. I think that’s what will be missed about President Hinckley the most.

I wasn’t sad when I found out last night about President Hinckley’s passing. He lived an incredible life and he’s been warning us in the past few General Conferences that his time on earth is short. It truly feels like the end of an era. One of my favorite memories happened just two years after President Hinckley was called to be the prophet. He came and spoke at the Institute of Religion at Weber State University in 1997 when I was a freshman. I had to get up very early in the morning and wait in a very long line for a very long time in order to get tickets. The minute he entered the room, I felt the spirit of the Holy Ghost testifying to me that this man was a true Prophet of God. I’ve never sung “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet” with such enthusiasm before. He spoke about education, and how important it is for women to go as far in their education as possible. This message has always stuck with me. How I loved President Hinckley.

President Hinckley’s beloved wife, Marjorie, died in 2004 and it was obvious how much he missed her. It makes me happy to think of the reunion in heaven between the two of them. You could always tell how in love they were.

I imagine right now Jesus’ arms wrapped around President Hinckley saying “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Westboro Baptist Church

I’m always disgusted when people use God’s name or Jesus Christ’s name in order to perpetuate their message of hate. Westboro Baptist Church, headed by “Reverend” Fred Phelps, has perfected hate to a new art form. I heard about them about 8 years ago when I was watching a documentary about how this group likes to protest at funerals of homosexuals or those who have died of AIDS. As someone who has recently lost their mother, I am particularly disgusted at the thought of taunting someone in mourning with a hate spewed message.

This group has been in the news for the past couple of years because of their protesting at the funerals of soldiers who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Apparently 9/11 was a punishment from God on the United States for our acceptance of homosexuality. Again I found their behavior disgusting. Having read the New Testament I don’t remember Jesus ever protesting at someone’s funeral or mocking the parents, spouses, or children of the person lying in the casket on the worst day of their lives. After disagreeing with his politics, Phelps and his group protested at Al Gore’s father’s funeral in 1998 by shouting obscenities and yelling “your father’s in hell” at Gore and his family.

Usually I ignore Phelps and his brain-washed followers because I find their behavior dispicable, laughable, and inconsequential. If they want to be hate mongers, let them. Because really, hate is like a cancer and they’re only really killing themselves with the cancer they promote. In fact I rarely think of these people until this week when I found out that this “church” is planning on flying to Australia to protest at Heath Ledger’s funeral. Why? Because he played a homosexual in one of the best acted movies I’ve ever seen, “Brokeback Mountain.” According to them, you don’t have to be a homosexual, you just have to play one in order for them to come to your funeral in the midst of your parent’s, sister’s, brother’s, friend’s, and baby daughter’s grief so they can warn you of God’s wrath. It seems to me that after this life the only ones who will be burning in hell are members of the Westboro Baptist Church. You can check them out at http://www.godhatesfags.com/. You can also check them out at god hates (fill in the bank) dot com, because they hate everything and everybody.

My hope is that this group doesn’t go down to Australia to protest, but if they do I hope that his family is shielded from them. His 2 year old daughter is too young to understand why photographers have basically been stalking her and her mother and the last thing this poor innocent little girl needs is hateful, misguided, lunatics shouting obscenities at her and telling her that her father is in hell. God Bless Heath Ledger’s family and anyone whoever was touched by one of his performances, like I was by “Brokeback Mountain.”