(Presented by Dennis B. Horne)
(Presented by Dennis B. Horne)
[Editorial Note: These personal experiences in the life of President Marion G. Romney, a former counselor in the First Presidency, are found in his chapter of my book, I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses Came to Know Jesus Christ.]
It was while on his mission that Elder Romney enjoyed one of the great anchoring spiritual experiences of his life; one which left him forever changed. Serving at a time when there was less emphasis on companionships, he spent part of a preparation day alone at the library of the University of Sidney. On this occasion, among all the shelves and stacks of worldly books, he found himself turning to his own copy of the Doctrine and Covenants, soon becoming deeply absorbed in section 76 in particular; the vision of the degrees of glory given to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. Having lost track of time, his study of that section took him into the evening.
Young Elder Romney finished reading, left the library, and was overcome with the impressiveness of what he had been reading. His later described what happened next:
[Editorial Note: With the 2020 election over and political tensions in the U.S. still high, I thought this story from President Heber J. Grant might bring some humor and fun to the situation. The setting is his last talk at his first general conference as President of the Church. I first encountered this story almost two decades ago as I was editing a selection of diary entries and related materials about Elder Abraham H. Cannon, a son of President George Q. Cannon who only served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve for some 6 years and died young. He and Elder Grant, along with Orson F. Whitney, were something of friendly rivals in their early years and had strong political views. They even dated some of the same women.]
I have received a lot of anonymous letters, since I became President of the Church, telling me a great many things that people would like me to announce here, positions they would like me to take, etc., to all of which I shall pay no attention. Any person who wishes to write me a letter and give me pointers should not be afraid to sign his name. . . .
Some years ago I preached a sermon in this Tabernacle. At the close of the service, on my way home, between here and the Eagle Gate, six or seven men complimented me for "spanking in public" Brother Abraham H. Cannon who had spoken just before I did. Two or three days later some seven or eight men were in the President's office, and I was summoned before them and taken to task for "spanking" Brother Cannon. They were very angry. They were all Republicans, and all those who had complimented me were Democrats. Brother Abraham and I were there at this meeting, and I asked him if he knew that he was spanked. He said, no, he did not; and I remarked, "If I spanked you in public, I must have done it in my sleep. I quite frequently sleep when other people are talking; but, up to date, I have not learned to sleep while I am talking. I am not aware of saying one single, solitary word that reflected on what you said."
I requested that those two sermons be published in the Deseret News, one following the other; that neither Abraham nor I be permitted to read them before publication. When they were published I was to appear at the President's office and I would make any apology that was necessary for spanking Brother Abraham in public. Brother Cannon and I read them to ourselves and then read them aloud, and we could not find one single, solitary word, wherein I had found any fault with what he had said, neither could the Presidency. So I did not have to apologize. Do you know, it is a very easy matter for us to misconstrue what people say, and make such an application that it may appear partisan or as if it were intended for personal advantage, in some way, shape or manner. CONFERENCE REPORT, JUNE 1919, 139, 142-43.