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David O. McKay Diaries – “Revelation”

Below you will find diary entries on the topic of “Revelation.” You can view other subjects here.

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Thur., 30 Jan., 1936:

“[Hawaii]  Arose at 4:00 a.m. and joined President Murphy and other missionaries on a trip to Haleakela to witness the rising of the sun.  President Murphy began to show sights of his malady and before we arrived at the top, his lips and right cheek were badly swollen.

At 9:00 a.m. we had breakfast.  However, on our returning from the summit we drove about three miles out of our way to visit Pulehu, where stands a monument to George Q. Cannon.  On this spot also fifteen years ago, Presidents Hugh J. Cannon, E. Wesley Smith, Hurst, Keola, and I had a remarkable spiritual manifestation.  We gathered on the spot and offered a special prayer for President Murphy.”

Sun., 31 Aug., 1947:

“[Manti] At 9 a.m. attended the Priesthood meeting at which I was one of the speakers.  The these was–Testimony.  I spoke on Prayer, showing how sometimes the answer comes as a negative rather than an affirmative one.  Personal incidents:  (1) Prayer on the hillside as a boy; (2) Incident in Glasgow at a conference of the missionaries and local Priesthood, where James W. McMurrin prophesied that I would one day sit in the leading councils of the Church.”

Sun., 26 Sep., 1948:

“According to call at 2:30 p.m. met in the Ogden Fourth Ward, Ogden, Utah.  There were present besides the people of the Ward, President Laurence S. Burton; Lawrence H. Evans, 1st counselor; Arias G. Belnap, 2nd counselor; Bishop Eddis W. Watkins of the 4th Ward–and counselors; Bisohp Volney B. Belnap of the 31st Ward–and counselors.  Through a misunderstanding, only the men were present, so we gave them 15 minutes to go home to get their wives. At 3 o’clock the meeting was opened by singing and prayer under the direction of President Burton of the Ogden Stake.

I made a few introductory remarks, stating that this meeting was really in answer to letters I had received from members of the block, and stated that illness had prevented my taking the matter up before.

We then distributed a slip of paper with the following written on it:

Expression of Preference Pertaining to Ward Membership

Fourth Ward ____

31st Ward ______ (Signed _________________)

The result of the voting was:

Total 50 Fourth Ward: 37 Thirty-first Ward: 13

Total families: 65 Families reporting: 31

The members of the block were then dismissed.  At my invitation the two Bishoprics and Stake Presidencies remained and we considered all phases of the matter, remaining in session for an hour and a half after the other meeting.  I told them that the matter would be thoroughly considered, and that they would be notified of the decision.”

Sat., 19 Feb., 1949:

“At 2 p.m. in the Ogden 3rd Ward, I met all the Stake Presidencies of the 8 stakes in Weber County . . .

Another question that came up was the seeming determination of the Catholics to convert as many Mormons here in the West as they possibly can.  There is no doubt but that there is an organized campaign on in this respect.

Following that meeting, I held a meeting with the Presidency of the Ogden Stake regarding the transfer of that block from the 31st Ward to the 4th Ward.  They wish that that action would not be taken at once, but to let those who wish to return to the 4th Ward do so without formal action.  I told them that they may take their time and watch developments before taking formal action, but that the recommendation still stands that the block be turned back to the Fourth Ward.

Fri., 13 Jan., 1950:

“[Telephone call]  Adele Howells of the Primary.  She said that after the meeting with the Young Men’s Superintendency regarding the 11-year-old Boy Scout work in the Primary, the Primary Presidency decided to go home and discuss it among themselves, after which they decided to have a meeting, and that after fasting and praying, they met with their Trail and Home Builder committee, and still they were not able to come to a unity in their decision, that 6 out of the girls favored one plan, and two favored another plan; that they are very much divided.  Said that Brother Curtis is waiting for their decision.  Sister Howells then said that they do not like to make a decision on such an important matter before getting an opinion from the First Presidency on the matter.  I said that they should come to a unity, and then make their recommendation to the First Presidency; that I thought I should not be an arbitrator in the matter.  I also said that if they are divided and have two recommendations, then they may submit to the First Presidency both recommendations.”

Fri., 3 Feb., 1950:

“At 8:30 a.m. met at his request Superintendent Elbert Curtis. . . .

The second question discussed was the Scouting and the M.I.A. and Primary.  He said that the Y.M.M.I.A. Superintendency and the Primary Superintendency have not been able to see eye to eye. However Supt. Curtis and his assistants submit the following recommendation:

That the Y.M.M.I.A. be permitted to offer the Scouting program to the eleven year old boy of the Church, at such time as the local mutual people and the Bishop may agree upon: Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, after Primary on a week day afternoon, or, if necessary, early in an evening of Mutual night.

The Primary sisters indicated to us that they would have no objection if the eleven year old boys came to Mutual.  Our present feeling is that this should be discouraged as much as possible. There may, however, be situations where a Bishop will think it wise to permit the eleven year old boys to come and associate with other boys for the Scouting program.

This is our recommendation to you, and, as the Young Men’s organization, we are united in it–not as the best plan, but as the best arrangement we can get approved by the Primary organization. Signed Elbert R. Curtis, A. Walter Stevenson, David S. King.”

Mon., 12 Mar., 1951:

“7:30 a.m.–Sister McKay and I left by auto for Los Angeles.

We drove to St. George and enjoyed the trip very much.  We took rooms at the Hales’ Auto Camp.  Spent a very restless night, and awoke with the distinct impression that it would be unwise to continue our journey to Los Angeles.  When I mentioned the impression to Sister McKay, she agreed that we should return, and so without further hesitancy, instead of continuing our journey westward, we drove back home, and after another six-hour drive we were in Salt Lake City to spend our vacation and rest at 1037 East South Temple Street.  We concluded that we would answer no telephone calls, but just to act as though we were as far away from the office as though we were in Los Angeles.  Subsequent events proved the wisdom of our decision.”

Thur., 15 Mar., 1951:

“Today, and the balance of the week I spent at home under doctor’s orders.”

Wed., 21 Mar., 1951:

“At 1:30 p.m. received a telephone call from President Clark who reported that Dr. LeRoy Kimball had just telephoned to say that he was called up to President Smith’s home at midnight last evening. He was accompanied by a neurologist.  They found that Pres. Smith had suffered a thrombosis, which apparently affected his whole right side, and his speech was ‘pretty thick.’  His temperature, however, was not much above normal–99.6 degrees.

Dr. Kimball said that this is the most serious thing that has happened so far, and that he and the neurologist know that there is not much that can be done about it; that they will just have to wait and see.”

Fri., 23 Mar., 1951:

“Sister McKay and I called on President Smith this afternoon.  He seemed to brighten up during our visit with him–conversed with Sister McKay and recalled school teachers of 40 or 50 years ago. His mind seemed as clear as a bell.”

Thur., 29 Mar., 1951:

“After answering a long distance call from my sister, Anne, (Mrs. Thomas B. Farr, Smithfield, Utah) who called regarding the case of Floyd Meyers, missionary who was called to the West Central States, and who was very desirous of joining his twin brother who is now serving a mission in the Swiss-Austrian Mission, and after dictating a few notes to my secretary, Miss Middlemiss, I left for home.

Had my secretary Clare contact the missionary office and have Elder Meyers’ missionary call changed from the West Central States to the Swiss-Austrian Mission.”

Tues., 10 Apr., 1951:

“[Clare] William Cook, who attended the meeting in Scotland when it was predicted that you would one day sit in the ‘highest councils of the Church’ telephoned to pay his respects.”

Wed., 9 Jan., 1952:

“At 8 o’clock this morning, I met by appointment at his request, Bishop J. Leonard Love who has been called to preside over the British Mission.  He was emotionally quite upset.  Said he had been praying about the Call all night, and expressed the wish that he be not sent so far away because of the condition of his business. He preferred to remain in the United States where he could be in touch by telephone with his two sons and son-in-law who will be left to manage the business.

I was impressed that it would be better to release him entirely for the present and let him remain with his business.  I so reported later to my counselors in the First Presidency’s meeting today.”

Fri., 11 Jan., 1952:

“Elder [Delbert] Stapley called regarding the reorganization of the Moapa Stake.  Said that he had talked to President Bunker last evening by telephone and had asked for his suggestions regarding his successor.  He had named several persons.

I told Brother Stapley to see President [Stephen L.] Richards; that he is well enough to see him, and has some very definite ideas regarding the brethren in that Stake whom he knows very well.  I inquired of Brother Stapley if President Bunker had named Brother Empey, and he answered that he had not.  I remarked that Brother Empey is a very fine man.

It was agreed that Brother J. Harold Brinley, the first counselor, would not be strong enough to head the Stake.  Brother Bunker has recommended him as good Patriarch material; and stated that the present Patriarch wants to be relieved to do Temple work.  I said I thought it would have a good effect to appoint Brother Brinley as Patriarch at the time of the reorganization, but that he (Elder Stapley) should talk it over with President Richards.

Later, Elder Stapley called again and wanted to know my decision regarding Brother Brinley–I told him that that would be left to him; that he should study and discern whether Brother Brinley has Patriarch material in him, and then follow his impressions.”

June 14, 1956


(As Given at meeting in the Salt Lake Temple, June 14, 1956)

In a meeting of the General Authorities June 14, 1956, following the singing of the hymn ‘O My Father,’ Elder Marion G. Romney mentioned an occasion when he was in the Australian Mission when he was impressed to sing that hymn before a group of people, which impression he failed to follow, and for which he felt sorry, as he was sure that much good might have been accomplished thereby.

Commenting upon this experience, President McKay said it is a great thing to be responsive to the whisperings of the spirit, and we know that when these whisperings come, it is a gift and our privilege to have them.  They come when we are relaxed and not under pressure of appointments.

President McKay then took occasion to relate an experience in the life of Bishop John Wells, formerly a member of the Presiding Bishopric.  A son of Bishop Wells was killed in Emigration Canyon on a railroad track.  Brother John Wells was a great detail man, and prepared many of the reports that we are following up this day.  His boy was run over by a freight train.  Sister Wells was inconsolable.  She mourned during the three days prior to the funeral, recieved no comfort at the funeral, and was in a rather serious state of mind.

One day, soon after the funeral service, while she was lying on her bed relaxed, still mourning, she claims that her son appeared to her and said, ‘Mother, do not mourn.  Do not cry.  I am all right.’  He told her that she did not understand how the accident happened, and explained that he had given the signal to the engineer to move on, and then made the usual effort to catch the railing on the freight train, but as he attempted to do so, his foot caught in a root and he failed to catch the hand rail, and his body fell under the train.  It was clearly an accident.  He said that as soon as he realized that he was in another environment, he tried to see his father, but he could not reach him; that his father was so busy with his duties in the office he could not respond to his call; that, therefore, he had come to his mother.  And he said to her, ‘You tell father that all is well with me, and I want you not to mourn any more.’

The President said that the point he had in mind was that when we are relaxed in a private room we are more susceptible to those things; that so far as he was concerned his best thoughts come after he gets up in the morning and is relaxed and thinking about the duties of the day; that impressions come as clearly as if he were to hear a voice, and those impressions are right; that if we are worried about something, and upset in our feelings, the inspiration does not come.  If we so live that our minds are free from worry, our consciences are clear, and our feelings are right towards one another, the operation of the Spirit of the Lord upon our spirit is as real as when we pick up the telephone; but when they come we must be brave enough to take the suggested action.  The Lord will approve it and the Brethren will approve it, and we know it is right.

The President said it is a great consolation in this upset world today to know that our Savior is directing His work.  He then said:  ‘I value that testimony!’

President McKay then mentioned a letter that he had received from a man who is a member of the Youth Committee of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the headquarters of the branch over which he presides being in Denver.  He said that they are preparing a program that will interest the Youth, and he had been impressed with the attitude of our church in regard to the young people.  The writer said:  ‘We are ready to draw up our plans, but we are in the dark,’ and then he asked several questions, and asked for help to draw up their plans.  He said that if we had any books or any study courses he would appreciate it if we would send them to him.

The man further said he had been impressed with our people because he had stayed in some of the motels which he was sure were conducted by our people because he found copies of the Book of Mormon there.  He further said that a Church that could produce such results in young people as our Church does would be a good guide for them.**

The President commented that these people are in the dark, but if we continue to do our duty we will not be in the dark.  The Light of the world is guiding us.  He reiterated to the Brethren that when the Inspiration comes they should follow it, and that they would be sustained in it.

**The writer of this letter is Mr. Nathan Straub, member of the Faithful Youth Challengers, Department of the Young People of the Church of God (Seventh Day), with headquarters at Denver, Colorado.  Post Office Box 2370.”

Wed., 20 Feb., 1957:

“Bank Merger and Rumor re:  End of World

I reported at the meeting of the First Presidency this morning my telephone conversation with President Richards, who expressed himself as being agreeable to the release of letters to the heads of our Church Banks regarding the merger of the banks.

President Richards also reported having attended meetings in one of the small wards near Las Vegas where assignment had been made to a family to live for two weeks on stored food.**  The suggestion was considered that the Welfare Committee send out restraining suggestions in view of the uneasiness prevailing because of the rumor of a purported revelation.  I explained that individual letters are being answered informing the writers that there is no foundation in fact for the rumor, and that whenever a revelation comes pertaining to the Church, it will be given to the Priesthood through the proper channels and not by way of rumor (**See telephone conversation with Pres. Stephen L.Richards Feb. 19)

Fri., 22 Feb., 1957:

“At Council Meeting, February 28, 1957 Pres. McKay made the following report:

Food Storage and Welfare Program

Sister McKay and I attended homecoming exercises in the Twenty-seventh Ward, where a banquet was given.  The ward uses this program and banquet as a means of raising their ward expense and their welfare quota.  One unpleasant feature followed the banquet when a representative of the Zion Permapak Food Storage Plant told those present, while they were eating their dessert, that all they had eaten that night was made from dehydrated foods; and then he explained how dehydrated food was the best for storage for the two-year plan that had been given.

In answer to a question asked by a sister as to how much it would cost per year to provide for one person, he answered, ‘One hundred dollars.’  The sister said that there were six members in her family.  It would therefore cost them $600 a year, or $1200 for two years.

I was called on to speak later, between the dinner and picture show that followed, and I told them not to go to extremes in this matter; not to borrow money nor mortgage their property to store food; that this plan had been in existence ever since I was a boy, at least.  I also referred to the story that is going around (which is absolutely false) about a vision that it is reported that I had in which I was told that it was now too late to store food, etc.  The people had all heard about it.

I suggested that we do what we can to ‘soft-pedal’ some of this advertising.  I also said that it was learned today in the First Presidency’s meeting, when the matter was discussed, that the Civil Defense Program under the auspices of the Government is urging the storage of food and other things, and that has emphasized the situation.

In this connection, President Richards reported that while in Las Vegas he visited in Logandale in Moapa Valley, and learned that they had instituted a plan whereby the people were going without buying anything from the stores for a period of two weeks, not even permitting their children to buy ice cream cones, in order to show what they could do in case of emergency, and in Las Vegas they were just beginning a similar movement whereby everyone was pledged to buy nothing from the store for two weeks.

Elder Marion G. Romney, in behalf of the Welfare Program, reported that he had checked on the situation and had written letters to Pres. John L. Clarke, formerly of the Rexburg Stake, it being his understanding that this experiment was commenced there in Rexburg;

that the bishop had asked two families in his ward to live for a certain period on their storage.  He said that following this experiment the Church Section of the Deseret News got hold of the story and published it, and then all over the Church wards began to introduce this plan.  President Clark said there had been absolutely no suggestion by the stake authorities there, and Bro. Romney had asked him specifically if any member of the General Authorities or the Church Welfare Committee had made the suggestion, and he said no; that the bishop had tried the experiment and then these people came to Fast Meeting and bore their testimonies telling how well they had done.”

Fri., 17 May, 1957:

2 to 4:10 p.m.  Dictation and conversation with Clare regarding pre-Vision and experiences I have had.  She related experiences of a spiritual nature which her Mother had.

Sun., 19 May, 1957:

“Spent several hours in the Temple this morning in meditation, study, and planning for the Church.

Following this, I went home for dinner.

Later, I returned to the office and spent the balance of the day going over thirty or more petitions for cancellation of Temple sealings.  The cases considered were some of the worst yet, and it was a very gloomy experience.

6:30 p.m.  Went home.  The problems and decisions of the day were very tiring, and caused a very restless night.”

Thursday, June 13, 1957.

Telephone conversation with Elder Marion G. Romney, Thursday, June 13, 1957, Chico, California.  (1)

President McKay:  How did you get along at the funeral of those brethren who were killed in the airplane accident returning from the Solemn Assembly?

Brother Romney:  We had a wonderful funeral.  The people here were grateful for your consideration.  They read your telegram, and I conveyed to them your feelings of love and blessing.  We had a very large funeral and a fine spirit.

President McKay:  I am sure your presence added a great deal.

Brother Romney:  They were very grateful.

President McKay:  Can you get to the other funeral to be held in Downey tomorrow?

Brother Romney:  I don’t know.  I just called the airport and they said that when the reservation request came through yesterday, they did not have space and don’t have it yet, but I am going to run out to the airport to see.  I’ll get through some way.  You were asking yesterday about premonitions.  The wife of one of  these brethren said she had a dream the night before this accident which was exactly as it occurred.

President McKay:  Did she tell that to her husband?

Brother Romney:  No, her husband was gone, was already down there, and she had some feelings that she should have done.

President McKay:  My thought was about the men themselves having premonitions, but evidently this one wife did have a premonition about her husband.

Brother Romney:  Thank you, President.

Thursday, June 20, 1957

The following is a report given by President McKay at the regular meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve held in the Salt Lake Temple, June 20, 1957.  In this report President McKay refers to the tragic airplane accident in which four of our brethren from California were killed and then gives a discussion concerning his views regarding pre-vision:

President McKay said he was very much worried and deeply concerned to learn while he was still in Los Angeles Monday, June 10, of the terrible accident to four of the brethren who attended the Solemn Assembly in the Los Angeles Temple.  He mentioned that they were in the line of their duty, and it gave him some concern to think that that should happen to them.  These four brethren went through the temple on Saturday, June 8–in fact, they went through two sessions.  One element that he wondered about was that they decided to visit a friend on their way home, instead of going directly home.  (The plane crashed on June 9.)

President McKay said that he is a great believer in the privilege and blessing of a man who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood to receive warnings.  He knew it was a fact that they do have such warnings, and he made inquiry to ascertain if these brethren had received such a warning, probably before they hired the airplane.  He thought it was a risky thing to do anyway.  Of course, he said, we shall never know whether or not they received a warning.

He referred to his own experience in 1916 when he agreed to take his brother, Thomas, up the canyon during a flood of the Ogden River so that Thomas could get home to Huntsville.  He had trouble with the furnace in the morning; he looked at the clock and it was nearly 7:00 o’clock.  He had to take the train to come to Salt Lake to attend the Council Meeting.  Then there came a warning to him, he said, just as distinct as though a voice had said it:  ‘Go up to the bridge and back.’  He said he had taken his children up to see the flood the day before, and there was a threat that the bridge might be washed out, so they were warning people not to go over the bridge.  He said that the impression that came to him was a distinct as anything that could come to the mind of man.

When they were splashing through the flood and rain up 21st Street, his brother, Thomas, said, ‘I think you had better not attempt to cross the bridge,’ but they were there in what seemed a very short time.  The bridge was still intact, and rather jocularly President McKay said, ‘Can you swim?’  and using his own judgment he decided he would take his brother, Thomas, as far as he took the children the day before, ignoring the warning, and letting his own judgment guide him.  The result was that he nearly met his death.

President McKay said:  ‘I think that warning comes to a man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood.’   He wondered whether such a warning had come to these brethren while they were in the air above that cloud before they decided to come down and visit a friend before going home.  If they did receive such a warning and had taken advantage of it they would have saved their lives.

President McKay referred to the warning that had come to the wife of one of the Brethren, as mentioned by Elder Marion G. Romney in giving his report of attendance at the funeral of these people, she, Sister Robert F. Peterson, having had a dream the night before in which she saw the accident in much the same way that it occurred, she being in Chico at the time and her husband in Los Angeles.  She felt to condemn herself somewhat because she had not gotten in touch with her husband and told him of her experience.

President McKay further commented:  ‘My point is, we should develop, especially as members of the Twelve, that contact with the Lord through the Holy Ghost.  Peter uses the phrase, ‘that we be partakers of the divine nature.’  That is a wonderful phrase.  He certainly did not have that contact when he was a hard-headed fisherman, but in the association of three short years–a little more, because he was President after the death of the Savior–he developed that as perhaps no other member of the Council, not even John, developed it, and I believe that if we can subject our natural man to the overcoming of every selfish interest we can be responsive to that guidance.’

Said President McKay:  ‘I know it, and it usually comes when we are relaxed and free from any worry, and when we are facing a problem, that spirit speaks.’  He said he liked to think that those men were warned, but they did not heed the warning.  He said:  ‘I know that the Lord will protect us if we will just watch and heed that spirit that comes to us in various ways.’

The President was grateful that Brother Romney attended the services for these people and gave them comfort in their bereavement.  He felt sure that the Lord would overrule these things for the good of those families.”

Sun., 4 Aug., 1957:

“Spent most of the day in the Salt Lake Temple — studied and meditated on Church problems.”

Sun., 20 Oct., 1957:

“Spent the morning in the Temple studying the endowment ceremony, and many other problems that are confronting me at this time.*  (see note below)

Sun., 1 Feb., 1959:

“Spent about two hours at the Salt Lake Temple, studying the Temple ordinances, and meditating on Church problems.  Sister McKay was at Fast Meeting.  Later, when we broke our fast, we went to the Temple Square Hotel for dinner.”

Sun., 3 May, 1959:

“Spent the morning alone in the Salt Lake Temple in study and contemplation.”

Tues., 14 May 1963:

“1:30 a.m.

Was awake.  It was 3:30 a.m. before I fell asleep, during which I had a disturbing dream about buying a pint of gas, and after the attendant had put the gas in the car, I turned around and the car disintegrated, excepting for a few pieces of metal lying on the ground where the car stood.”

Fri., 7 Feb. 1964:

“Temple work for Presidents of the United States

President Tanner brought to my attention a question that had been raised regarding temple work for Presidents Martin Van Buren, James Buchanan and Ulysses S. Grant.  In this connection reference was made to President Wilford Woodruff’s statement that he had done the work for all the presidents of the United States excepting these three.  President Tanner referred to information that had been given to him by Henry Christiansen of the Genealogical Society to the effect that in the case of James Buchanan the records indicate that baptism was performed for him and he has been sealed to his parents, this work having been done by relatives.  In the case of Martin Van Buren, baptismal work was done for him August 9, 1876 in the Endowment House, which apparently was not known to President Wilford Woodruff at the time he had the work done for the other presidents.  Subsequently, the baptism was done again for Martin Van Buren in 1948 and was followed by endowments, but he is not sealed to his parents, nor has there been a sealing between him and his wife.  In the case of Ulysses S. Grant, his baptism and endowment work were done in 1926 at the insistence of President Heber J. Grant.  President Tanner raised the question as to whether, in view of President Woodruff’s attitude, these ordinances should be cancelled or if the necessary additional work should be done in each case.  I ruled that we should leave these cases as they are until the Lord gives us further direction in the matter.

Fri., 2 Apr. 1965:

April Conference – Remarks of the President

I said that I am not gaining in strength as much as I had anticipated.  I said that I want to take up with the Lord the matter of my responsibility at this Conference, and the question of the speakers and the order in which they are to speak.  In regard to my own Conference message, I said that I had in mind the possible wisdom of preparing my talk and having it taped because of the weakness of my voice.  The Brethren suggested that it could be  recorded on tape and see how it sounds.  I said I was not going to say much other than the message that I propose to give in the opening session but that I would have a message.  I also suggested that the Counselors should take turns in conducting the meetings after the Sunday morning session, and that they should not deliver their addresses during the sessions that they conducted.  In other words, President Tanner would conduct the session in which President Brown would give his address, and President Brown would conduct the service in which President Tanner would speak.”