The passing of President Hinckley out in Utah was a major event, one that caused many people to mourn and remember his life. And at first I thought the mourning and eulogies and retrospectives in the media were done appropriately to show respect for that great religious leader. But my opinion changed last week, when the good people of Wisconsin showed me how to really mourn and honor a departed religious leader.
When the news broke a week ago about the loss of the leader of Wisconsin’s dominant religion, the response was overwhelming. All over the state, believers dressed in black, grown men were weeping, favorable TV stories were endless, and newspapers have featured non-stop inspirational coverage about that beloved leader. Now, a week later, it’s still the number one topic in my local paper. Radio stations from Minnesota to Illinois had talk show segments focused on the weeping of devotees, reminding people that it’s OK for men to mourn the loss of such an influential man. Our week-long funeral and memorial services out here have shown a new level of respect for those who have passed, one that should give Utahans pause.
The Wisconsin example is especially notable when you realize that the honored leader isn’t even dead. In fact, he’s very healthy, except perhaps for a knee. While the beloved, departed leader has passed – many times, in fact – the mourning came merely from the announcement of his retirement. Brett Favre will no longer be passing with the Green Bay Packers, our leading religion, a noble one, in spite of questionable tolerance for other faiths (grrr to the Bears).
Wisconsin: We’ll show you the way. It’s such an amazing state. Come join us!