cover of book

Confidence amid Change: The Presidential Diaries of David O. McKay, 1951-1970
by Harvard S. Heath
Signature Books, 2019
Cloth: 978-1-56085-269-8 | eISBN: 978-1-56085-352-7
Library of Congress Classification BX8695.M27
Dewey Decimal Classification 289.3092

Charismatic and a polished public speaker, LDS President David O. McKay instilled devotion in church members around the globe. An avowed optimist, he maintained a lifelong “faith in mankind; they are God’s children.” His desire to share the Mormon gospel coincided with a deep need to protect the church from outside social pressures, leading him to adopt a nuanced yet politically conservative public image. Though his genial personality aided him in unifying church leadership, McKay’s dislike of interpersonal conflict allowed strong-willed colleagues to sometimes overshadow him. He personally disagreed with apostle Ezra Taft Benson’s advocacy for the right-wing John Birch Society, while allowing Benson and others to promote an extremely conservative political agenda in religious settings.

Similar hesitancy existed in McKay’s failure to lift the priesthood and temple ban against black Mormons. Governing during the height of the Civil Rights movement, he never fully reconciled his belief in human spiritual equality with the racial tensions of his era. The voice of his dedicated secretary Clare Middlemiss often guides the diary’s narratives, revealing not only the personal musings of the church prophet but tracking the birth and development of the modern LDS Church as a social, political, and economic entity.
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