Monday, September 23, 2013

What B.S. Really Means According to One Apostle

While writing my father's biography I revisited a story that Dad used to tell. Many years ago Dad was attending a priesthood leadership meeting where the presiding authority was Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

I wasn't present, so I can only share the story as Dad told it to me. Elder Smith struck Dad as a very serious and austere man. He wondered if the man had any sense of humor at all.

Back in those days the scope of non-official publications aimed at the Latter-Day Saint population was fairly limited. Almost anything published in this genre was quickly gobbled up by interested Latter-Day Saints. Among the publications offered during that period of time were several works by W. Cleon Skousen. I recall seeing these books in our home as well as in many other homes.

As was (and still is) customary at priesthood leadership meetings presided over by a general authority, Elder Smith eventually opened the meeting for a question and answer period. This was a rare opportunity to have gospel and church related questions answered. Joseph Fielding Smith was considered not only a religious authority figure, but also a religious scholar.

During this session, one brother in the congregation asked Elder Smith a question about Cleon Skousen's books. Elder Smith responded, "I know Brother Skousen and I read his books. As is my practice, I make notes in the margins as I read. When I come across something in one of Brother Skousen's books that I believe to be his private interpretation, I write 'B.S.' in the margin..."

Elder Smith appeared to be completely serious as he delivered this line. After a handful of nervous chuckles from the congregation subsided, Elder Smith continued in total deadpan, "...which, of course, stands for 'Brother Skousen.'"

The congregation roared with laughter, but Elder Smith stood at the pulpit stony faced and seemingly unperturbed. Dad then realized that he had misjudged Elder Smith's sense of humor.

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