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President Oaks has a distinct general conference talk style. Here’s who may have influenced that

by | Mar. 09, 2021

In President Dallin H. Oaks’s new biography, readers explore 377 pages of the upbringing, the life, and the ministry of the First Counselor in the First Presidency.

Deseret News reporter Tad Walch recently published a Q&A with the author of In the Hands of the Lord, Richard E. Turley Jr., where the two discussed what Turley hopes people will learn from the biography, how much input President Oaks had in its creation, and some of the biography's contents, including how President Oaks developed his writing style for conference talks.

One of the questions Walch asks Turley is, “One of the themes of the book is the choices President Oaks has made in his talks at the Church’s semiannual general conferences. You describe why he rarely uses personal stories, why his talks focus on doctrine, how he structures them, and how those talks create certain perceptions about him. How did his style develop?”

► You may also like: Richard E. Turley Jr.: How I came to write ‘In the Hands of the Lord: The Life of Dallin H. Oaks’

Turley responds, “Early on in his period as a general authority, he associated with Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve, someone he had admired for a very long time. Because of the roles that he had—serving in a stake presidency in Chicago, being president of BYU—he had interacted with Elder McConkie previously and respected him, I think in part because both were lawyers, both were serious about doctrine, both had a strong sense of humor, though it rarely showed from the pulpit. And I think that, Elder McConkie, being afflicted with cancer at the time that Elder Oaks became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, became someone he looked to, and when he passed away, someone whose position he was encouraged to fill by Elder [Boyd K.] Packer, because Elder McConkie was seen as a doctrinal expert and when he passed away, there was a big hole in the forest canopy, if you will. Elder Oaks as a new member of the Quorum of the Twelve was tasked with filling that hole in the canopy along with other members of the Twelve at the time.”

Read the full Q&A at Deseret News.

Lead image: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Image titleThis engaging biography by noted historian Richard E. Turley Jr. takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the life of an extraordinary leader. It is filled with stories and photographs detailing his boyhood, his family life, his education and military experiences, and his distinguished academic and law career. In the Hands of the Lord is available now at DeseretBook.com

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