President Packer Looks to Eternity
20 July 2007 (updated 15 August 2007)
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Helen Whitney recently interviewed several leaders of the LDS Church for the PBS documentary on the Mormons. PBS posted transcripts of some of the interviews to their site. Recently, the LDS Church posted transcripts of a couple more interviews to their site, including the interview of Boyd Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I was intrigued by some thoughts President Packer shared at the end of his interview, presented below – “HW” standing for Helen Whitney and “BKP” standing for Boyd Packer.
HW: There’s a hymn that you mentioned that you love when talking about the plan of salvation to somebody. Something about “hie to” — I’d like to hear that from you.
BKP: “If I could hie to Kolob in the twinkling of an eye, and then continue onward with that same speed to fly, do you think that I could ever, through all eternity, find out the generations where Gods began to be?”
Then the other verse goes on, and you can read it: “There is no end to matter, there is no end to space; there is no end to wisdom; there is no end to race.” You’re testing an old man. That is a very profound song that you should read when you’re studying about what’s going on in the world today.
When you read that and talk and look into the eternities, you see the endlessness of it all — that’s caught up in the words of that song. President David O. McKay read that to one of the astronauts that came. There’s so many things that we don’t know, but it’s a wonderful world that we live in. There’s no end to what we can learn, but we only use about 15 percent of the room there. It’s a great, great revelation that came from William W. Phelps.
“If I could hie to Kolob” — now you have to know what Kolob is; the scriptures say it is the center place — “and then continue onward with that same speed to fly.”
I know a lot of hymns, and I know that one.
HW: But it does say something essential about Mormons.
BKP: It does; it shows a depth and a breadth and a power that is consistent with all that we know. All of the orbits of all the heavenly bodies follow that same thing — it’s an amazing world we live in. When you see color and life and all that life has to offer, we shouldn’t be bored.
HW: More than that. One last question. There’s a moment that comes — instead of inheriting the faith, they inhabit it. Was there such a moment for you?
BKP: I can’t look back and say, “Well that’s the day, that’s the moment I knew.” There were a number of them — I think I grew into it and tried to teach our family in such a way they’d grow into it. Finding that “pearl of great price” is just the beginning, not the end.
Someone said to Brigham Young, “The more I know, the more I learn, the less I know.” He said, “I wouldn’t say that. I would say the more I learn, the more I discern an eternity of knowledge.” Now that’s Brigham Young.
I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised to learn that President Packer loves the hymn “If You Could Hie to Kolob”. It is, in my estimation, among the most uniquely Mormon hymns, celebrating eternal progress of a plurality of gods in worlds without end. I also enjoyed President Packer’s reference to Brigham Young’s comment on knowledge – why should we expect an end to learning? It’s good to see evidence that these ideas continue to be cherished by the leaders of the LDS Church.