Saturday, January 06, 2018

Remembering Truman Madsen

In the late 1980's, Truman Madsen gave a series of lectures about the Prophet Joseph Smith. They were published on cassette tapes and later in a book. I got a hold of a set of those cassette tapes a decade later while I was serving as a missionary in Oklahoma.

Brother Truman was very popular among the missionaries. Through his lectures, we could feel his obvious and deep love for Brother Joseph. Through his testimony, our love for the Prophet deepened. Madsen was aware of every claim both for and against the character of the prophet. His love for Joseph was not naive, but knowing. Because of that, it was all the more meaningful to me.

A few years later, I was browsing through available religion classes at BYU and noted a class on Isaiah taught by Ann Madsen whom I knew to be the wife of Truman Madsen. I signed up. While she wasn't a clone of Truman and didn't share his uniquely captivating speaking mannerisms, she was sweet and warm. She required us to use a non-KJV translation of Isaiah, which surprised me. But I was grateful she did! She gave me greater appreciation for another prophet of the Lord.

As our final exam in the class, as was apparently her tradition, she invited us over to her home where we sat around together to share our favorite scriptures from our semester of study in Isaiah. As that session concluded and the students were standing around chatting, Truman came strolling out of his study.

Several of the Truman-worshipers, including me, tried to appear casual as we geeked out about the opportunity to meet him in real life--in his own home! Somehow, we drifted back into his study. I remember that he had copies of the death masks of Joseph and Hyrum Smith on his bookshelf. These were like family members for him. His love was again so obvious. I was reminded how we speculated as missionaries about the warm embrace that Truman and Joseph would someday share.

Today, I was listening again to those lectures by Brother Madsen. Even though he's been gone from this earth for more than 8 years, it is a blessing that his works and words can still be with us to inspire and uplift us. I hope he and Joseph are having some great conversations together!

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