LDS Church President Gordon Hinckley died today. Here's the Deseret News announcement, which contains some biographical information:
In some ways, for me, Hinckley has always been the leader of the LDS Church. Formally, of course, members of the Church recognize Christ as their leader, and I've been alive long enough to remember well three other LDS Church Presidents. But, as it turns out, Christ's leadership is more abstract, and the prior three LDS Church Presidents either did not impress my childhood mind so much, were in poorer health, or served a much shorter period of time than Hinckley.
I hope always to remember his expressions of optimism, in contrast to the doom and gloom that we too often hear from ecclesiastical leaders. Here is one of many examples:
"But in a larger sense this has been the best of all centuries. In the long history of the earth there has been nothing like it. The life expectancy of man has been extended by more than 25 years. Think of it. It is a miracle. The fruits of science have been manifest everywhere. By and large, we live longer, we live better. This is an age of greater understanding and knowledge. We live in a world of great diversity. As we learn more of one another, our appreciation grows. This has been an age of enlightenment. The miracles of modern medicine, of travel, of communication are almost beyond belief. All of this has opened new opportunities for us which we must grasp and use for the advancement of the Lord's work." (President Gordon Hinckley, General Conference, April 1999)
I'll miss Gordon Hinckley. Death has claimed another good one, at least temporarily, but there is reason to expect we'll come out conquerors. We work to that end.