In this article, Peggy Noonan discusses a conversation Clare Booth Luce says she had with JFK in 1962.
She told him, she said, that “a great man is one sentence.” His leadership can be so well summed up in a single sentence that you don’t have to hear his name to know who’s being talked about. “He preserved the union and freed the slaves,” or, “He lifted us out of a great depression and helped to win a World War.” You didn’t have to be told “Lincoln” or “FDR.”
This got me thinking about one-sentence descriptions of Church presidents (for those interested in politics, a future post may consider U.S. presidents — this post will discuss only Church presidents).
Here is a stab at one-sentence descriptions of Church Presidents:
Joseph Smith: “He received the Book of Mormon, founded the modern-day Church of Jesus Christ — the leader of the last dispensation of time.”
Brigham Young: “He was the great pioneer leader of the Church.”
John Taylor: “He was with Joseph when he died and was loyal to the end.”
Wilford Woodruff: “He ushered in reconciliation with the United States government, issued the Manifesto ending polygamy and dedicated the Salt Lake temple.”
Lorenzo Snow: “He saw the Savior in the Salt Lake temple, instituted tithing laws to overcome the Church’s financial difficulties and solidified the succession issue among prophets and apostles.”
Joseph F. Smith: “He was the first Church president who, as an adult, didn’t know Joseph Smith, the great missionary to Hawaii and the prophet who had the great vision of the redemption of the dead.”
Heber J. Grant: “He was the businessman prophet who led the Church through the Great Depression and World War II.”
George Albert Smith: “He concentrated on love, reconciliation and rebuilding Europe in the aftermath of World War II.”
David O McKay: “He was the man who looked and dressed like a modern-day prophet and who became the first leader of a truly worldwide Church.”
Joseph Fielding Smith: “He reemphasized the importance of the Restoration and urged members to return to the teachings of Joseph Smith, in part through his book ‘Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.’ ”
Harold B. Lee: “He emphasized Family Home Evening, home teaching and and priesthood correlation during his short presidency.”
Spencer W. Kimball: “He was the prophet who overcame great health problems, including some that made it difficult for him to speak, and was known as one of the kindest men of his generation, especially for his book ‘The Miracle of Forgiveness.’ ”
Ezra Taft Benson: “He was the prophet who, though active in right-wing politics earlier in his life, avoided politics entirely after becoming leader of a growing Church and was also known as the great promoter of re-reading the Book of Mormon.”
Howard W. Hunter: “He emphasized temple attendance during his short time as president of the Church.”
Gordon B. Hinckley: “He was the great builder of temples worldwide and the promoter of the Church using modern-day public relations tactics.”
Thomas S. Monson: “He is the great story-telling prophet who is known for loving widows and the less fortunate.”
What do you think of these one-sentence descriptions? Please feel free to suggest better ones, keeping in mind that a reader should, by reading the description, know which prophet is being mentioned.