Last week Rick B wrote about the church not liking popular speakers because they were more charismatic than our leaders. That got me to thinking about past leaders, and how charismatic they may have been.
Most people that wrote about Joseph Smith told of him being very charismatic. The PBS website says “Joseph Smith stands as one of the most charismatic and influential religious figures in American history”. The church’s own Joseph Smith Papers project calls him a “charismatic and forceful man” The faithful answer to this is that the Lord needed this type of prophet to start and lead the church.
Next came Brigham Young. The same types of quotes can be found about him. “no less charismatic than Smith and a brilliant organizer”, “As charismatic as he was autocratic”.
There is not as much written about the personalities of later prophets. I googled the name of each prophet with the word “charismatic”. Wilford Woodruff got several hits, and Heber Grant a few. During my lifetime, the word charismatic was again used with David O McKay. It showed up with McKay over and over, but not with any of the later prophets except for a few hits with Gordon Hinckley. It also showed up a few times with Thomas Monson, but the reference was always to his “charismatic councilor Uchtdorf “!
Speaking of Uchtdorf, he is probably the most charming and charismatic of the current Q15. Is that the reason he was not re-called into the FP? I wonder what the current FP would be like if Nelson had kept Uchtdorf instead replacing him with Oaks. I don’t think Nelson would be as popular as he is, because he really shines compared to Oaks!
In my opinion, our first few prophets became such because of their charisma. With no clear succession authority, the most charismatic speaker was select as Joseph’s successor. Once succession was codified, the most senior apostle could be made prophet without any care to his personality or charisma.
So what do you think? Who are the charismatic general authorities from your youth, or currently? Paul Dunn jumps out as somebody from my youth, but that didn’t end well.