Monday, March 28, 2005
Years ago, my father's professional duties as an Army Officer took my family to Salt Lake City. Back in these days there were specific seats reserved for military families, so on a few occasions my Dad would put his uniform on and we'd get fairly decent seats for General Conference in the Tabernacle.
The seats were hard. The benches were narrow. Every now and then I'd get a great view...of the support pillar. In the spring it was pleasant. In the fall it was hotter than hell. Evidently Brother Brigham didn't foresee a way to air condition the Tabernacle. He probably foresaw the Conference Center and figured we could suffer for a century or so.
That said, I did get to witness some pretty dramatic events, some of which are well known, and others of which are not. Some of the better ones:
Bruce R. McConkie's final address. Yes I was in the congregation to hear him say "I shall know no better than than I know now that Jesus is the Christ." (forgive me if I get the quote wrong).
Howard W. Hunter's Fall. The entire assembled congregation audibly gasped when then Elder Hunter disappeared behind the podium. What was not shown was Elder Packer's quick move to break Elder Hunter's fall. The microphones were turned off, but those in the Tabernacle could hear the "discussion" between Elders Hunter and Packer. Elder Packer wanted Elder Hunter to return to his seat. Elder Hunter disagreed - quite vigorously actually. He gave his address and was subsequently evacuated to LDS Hospital. The rest of the story you know.
In that same light, I was also present at the Marriott Center when Cody Judy, self proclaimed prophet and documented nutbag, stormed the podium and held Elder Hunter hostage in front of a shocked audience. What you may not know is the entire event could have been prevented had the "usher" on the floor been schooled in the art of an open field tackle.
Elder Hunter's body guard was schooled in the art of a cross body block, which he inflicted upon the aforementioned nutbag with unforgiving force. This was received with raucous cheers from the congregation, after which several people descended upon the person of Cody Judy. Let's just say he required "assistance" to leave the building.
And the most memorable Conference Moment -
President Benson on the October Heat. It was a priesthood session, and my father, my brothers and I were seated in the balcony. President Benson took to the stand where upon every man in the room got to his feet. President Benson waved, put his binder on his chair, and surprisingly went to the podium. He looked out at the assembled brethren and said:
I don't know about you boys...but I'm hot!
And he removed his suit jacket. The entire tabernacle went from dark jackets to white shirts almost instantaneously.
This brings me to my final point. In the transcription of conference, I believe a very important part of the proceedings is left out. If all you ever see of Conference is the Ensign, which is how most of the world outside the United States receives it, you never get to see the light hearted, humanizing moments that make the Prophet and other speakers more real.
So, forgive me if I murmur just a bit, but I think those are moments worth sharing.