Notes on Gordon B. Hinckley’s Standing For Something

In a little over a week, it will be a year since the passing of Gordon B. Hinkcley, 15th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  At that time, considering the growth of Church membership, he had been the only prophet that about a fourth of all living Mormons had ever known.  As I joined the Church in 1993 but wasn’t very active until 1996, that includes me. 

When he died, I finally pulled my copy of Standing For Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts And Homes off the shelf.  After I’d read the first twenty pages or so, I found myself wanting to keep track of all his many offhand references.  Even as I just kept a brief mental tally of his sources, I was impressed that he had such a broad store of resources available.  It’s not like he was writing a scholarly tract, but if he had been, this wouldn’t have been a bad start.  The book reads very comfortably, and is very friendly to the reader, some of it coming across as spontaneous, and some parts clearly taken from his own library of sermons.  I don’t think he must have done much research, then, but actually had most of this material in his mind (including, this English teacher hastens to add, references to four of Shakespeare’s plays).  Putting all of this in such a simple little book might make it harder to detect his achievement. 

By the time I’d finished the book, my notes were twleve pages long.  At the end, I summarized what I thought I could surmise about President Hinckley’s life just based on those notes, sort of as a guide for emulating him.  The best part is that I’m pretty sure I missed some things: some of his references must have escaped me.  Feel free to point out any I missed:


Standing for Something—Quotes, references, statistics, etc.


1.Henry Van Dyke, “America For Me”—introduction xii

2.Edwin Markham on love, “Outwitted”–ch 1, pg. 9

3.Longfellow on honesty, “The Ladder of St. Augustine”–ch 2, pg. 26

4.James Russell Lowell, “The Vision of Sir Launfal”–ch 4, pg 58

5.Robert Browning, “Rabbi Ben Ezra”–ch 8, pg 94

6.Joaquin Miller, “Columbus”–ch 10, pg 111

7.Elizabeth Barrett Browning—Marriage, pg. 142

8.Emerson, “Voluntaries III”–Epilogue, pg 177


Historical References

9.Mayflower Compact (quote)—introduction xiv

10.Declaration of Independence (quote)—introduction xv

11.Preamble to the Constitution (quote)—introduction xvi

12.War hero statue in Trafalgar Square–ch. 1, pg. 8

13.Athenian oath of citizenship—ch 2, pg. 19

14.Anecdote about Lincoln’s honesty—ch 2, pg 26

15.“Heroes” list: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Lindbergh, Byrd, Hopkins—ch 3, pg 38-39

16.George Washington’s 110 “rules for civility”–ch 4, pg 53

17.1979 centennial of electric light—ch 5, pg 67

18.Lee’s surrender at Appomattox—ch 6, pg 76

19.Vikings—ch 7, pg 81

20.American West—ch 7, pg 81

21.Israel—ch 7, pg 81

22.American WWI cemetery in France—ch 8, pg 92

23.Korean War—ch 8, pg 92

24.Vietnam War—ch 8, pg 92

25.United Kingdom in WWII—ch 9, pg 102

26.Mikhail Gorbachev’s speeches—ch 9, pg 103

27.Letter of an 1872 Colonel who visited Utah—ch 10, pg 118

28.Story of the Roman Gracchi—Family, pg 152


Quotes and Allusions

29.William Gladstone on U.S. Constitution—introduction xvi

30.Margaret Thatcher on declining religiosity—introduction xvii

31.George Washington on public religiosity—introduction xix

32.Shakespeare on honesty (Othello)–ch 2, pg. 17

33.Tom Peters, business leader, on honesty—ch. 2, pg. 19

34.Winston Churchill on lies—ch 2, pg. 21

35.Alexander Pope on honesty—ch 2, pg 25

36.Karl G. Maeser of BYU on honesty—ch. 2, pg. 27

37.Michael Medved on sex and violence in movies—ch 3, pg 35

38.W.C. Fields film International Hotel (analogy)—ch 3, pg 35

39.Touched by an Angel—ch 3, pg 36

40.Pope John Paul II’s warnings are “wise”–ch 3, pg 41

41.Channing Pollock on chastity—ch 3, pg 44

42.Article of Faith about tolerance—ch 4, pg 49

43.Royal Bank of Canada newsletter on civility—ch 4, pg 51

44.Shakespeare on civility (Romeo & Juliet)—ch 4, pg 55

45.Wendell Phillips—ch 4, pg 58

46.C.S. Lewis on education—ch 5, pg 64

47.Hegel on repeating history—ch 5, pg 64

48.Dr. Joseph Liebman on education—ch 5, pg 64

49.A “celebrated chemist” on intellectual humility—ch 5, pg 66

50.Brigham Young on education—ch 5, pg 66

51.Summarizes de Maupassant’s “A Piece of String”–ch 6, pg 70

52.General Omar Bradley on wisdom and morality—ch 6, pg 71

53.Abraham Lincoln on forgiveness—ch 6, pg 73

54.Shakespeare on forgiveness (The Merchant of Venice)—ch 6, pg 75

55.Charles Dickens, from The Life of our Lord—ch 6, pg 77-78

56.Brigham Young on work—ch 7, pg 81-82

57.Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography on work—ch 7, pg 82

58.J. Reuben Clark Jr. on interest—ch 7, pg 85-86

59.“Fit it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”–ch 7, pg 86

60.Beethoven’s concerto for violin—ch 8, pg 91

61.Valley Forge, by Maxwell Anderson—ch 8, pg 93

62.First Amendment—ch 8, pg 96

63.Quotes his father re: criticism—ch 9, pg 101

64.Winston Churchill on perseverance—ch 9, pg 102

65.Winston Churchill on perseverance—ch 9, pg 102 (another one!)

66.Columnist Sydney Harris on many historical “failures”–ch 9, pg 105

67.Commander William Robert Anderson on faith—ch 10, pg 111

68.Lord Nelson on duty—ch 10, pg 111-112

69.Airplane magazine “personals” section—Marriage, pg 127

70.Jenkins Lloyd Jones on marriage—Marriage, pg 103-131

71.“No success in life…”–Marriage, pg 134

72.C.S. Lewis on marriage—Marriage, pg. 134

73.“Love is not blind…”–Marriage, pg. 135

74.Barbara Bush on family—Family, pg 146

75.John Lukacs on potential of fathers—Family, pg 149

76.Marie Hafen on mothers—Family, pg 151

77.Jenkins Loyd Jones on kids’ need for affection—Family, pg 153

78.Task force quote on children—Family, pg 153

79.Proverb: “as the twig…”–Family, pg 154

80.WSJ article on values of Asians—Family, pg 159

81.“An idle mind…”–Family, pg. 160

82.Inspiring book called And There Was Light—Family, pg 162-163

83.Emerson on favorite books—Family, pg 163

84.Sam Levenson on poverty—Family, pg 165

85.General Mark W. Clark on leadership—Epilogue, pg. 167

86.Lincoln on faith—Epilogue, pg 168

87.William Manchester on loyalty—Epilogue, pg 171

88.Peter Drucker on leadership—Epilogue, pg 172

89.Shakespeare on potential (Hamlet)–Epilogue, pg 173

90.Strachey’s Life of Florence Nightingale—Epilogue, pg. 174-175


News and Current Events

91.New Jersey bans God in courtrooms—introduction xvii

92.A judge bans Bibles—introduction xvii

93.Boy Scout persecution—introduction xvii

94.Newspaper essay about love and marriage–ch. 1, pg 4

95.News story about someone repaying state for stolen items—ch 2, pg. 16

96.Radio host denies honesty—ch 2, pg. 17

97.Newspaper story about honesty affecting insurance company—ch 2, pg. 18

98.News story about woman wrongly jailed by false testimony—ch 2, pg. 21

99.Athlete who denies being role model—ch 3, pg 38

100.“Tragedies occurring in Liberia; Israel and its neighbors; in Bosnia, Albania, and Serbia; in Ireland; in Iraq…”–ch 4, pg 50

101.Doctors who volunteer around the world—ch 4, pg 55-56

102.NYT article on adult illiteracy—ch 5, pg 63

103.Chicago Tribune article on literacy—ch 5, pg 63

104.Televised trial of a foreign dictator—ch 6, pg 74

105.Conflict in Northern Ireland—ch 6, pg 76

106.Dr. James Clayson on current debt situation—ch 7, pg 85

107.“Recent events in China and Europe”–ch 8, pg 95

108.Newspaper editorial on faith—ch 10, pg 113

109.WSJ editorial on faith—ch 10, pg 113

110.Editorial in LAT about Russia’s desire for faith—ch 10, pg 114

111.Task force report on needs of children—Family, pg 144

112.US News article on family—Family, pg. 146

113.WSJ article on family research—Family, pg 146

114.Old Reader’s Digest article on importance of fathers—Family, pg 148

115.WSJ article on boy inspired by father—Family, pg 149

116.Yugoslavia—Family, pg 158


Statistics and Facts

117.27 million abortions—introduction xx

118.482 billion dollars on gambling—introduction xxi

119.Divorce 32% more likely among those who live together first—ch 3, pg 34

120.Cost of ad on Super Bowl—ch 3, pg 36

121.Crime costs 450 billion dollars per year—ch 4, pg 51

122.Children watch 8000 hrs of TV before starting school—ch 5, pg 61

123.1.2 trillion dollar consumer debt in 1997—ch 7, pg 85

124.7,874,000 fatherless children in 1996—Family, pg 147

125.Nearly a million children left home unsupervised—Family, pg 153

126.Children see 8000 murders on TV by age 12—Family, pg 162



127.2 Corinthians 3:17—introduction xxii

128.Psalm 33:11-12—introduction xxii

129.Philippians 4:8-9—introduction xxii

130.Matthew 25:34-40–ch. 1, pg. 6

131.1 Corinthians 13:1-2, 8–ch. 1, pg. 6

132.Luke 9:24–ch 1, pg. 7

133.1 John 4:16–ch 1, pg. 7

134.John 3:16-17–ch. 1, pg. 9

135.John 13:34–ch. 1, pg. 9

136.Acts 10:38–ch 1, pg. 10

137.Isaiah 35:3-4–ch 1, pg. 10

138.Genesis 4:9—ch 2, pg. 15

139.Exodus 20:13-17 (Ten Commandments)–ch 2, pg. 20-21

140.1 Timothy 6:10—ch. 2, pg. 23

141.Proverbs 6:16-19—ch 2, pg 26

142.Matthew 5:8—ch 3, pg 38

143.[“Potiphar’s wife to Joseph in Egypt”]–ch 3, pg 40

144.Isaiah 1:16-18—ch 3, pg 43

145.1 Timothy 5:22—ch 3, pg 44

146.2 Peter 1:4—ch 3, pg 44

147.Matthew 22:37-39—ch 4, pg 48

148.Romans 15:1—ch 4, pg 50

149.Exodus 20:7—ch 4, pg 51

150.Matthew 5:13—ch 4, pg 52

151.Matthew 7:12—ch 4, pg 53

152.Proverbs 4:7—ch 5, pg 61

153.Proverbs 9:10—ch 5, pg 67

154.Matthew 5:14-16—ch 5, pg 67

155.Galatians 4:9—ch 6, pg 71

156.Matthew 6:14-15—ch 6, pg 72

157.Matthew 5:43-44—ch 6, pg 72

158.Matthew 5:38-41—ch 6, pg 72

159.Luke 15:17, 20—ch 6, pg 72-73

160.Luke 16:19-26—ch 6, pg 75

161.Luke 23:34—ch 6, pg 75

162.Matthew 5:7—ch 6, pg 77

163.Genesis 41—ch 7, pg 83-84

164.Matthew 5:5—ch 8, pg 90

165.Genesis 1:2—ch 8, pg 93

166.Genesis 1:3—ch 8, pg 93

167.Genesis 1:31—ch 8, pg 93

168.Genesis 2:9—ch 8, pg 93

169.Matthew 7:12—ch 8, pg 95

170.James 1:5—ch 8, pg 96

171.[Woman touches Savior’s garment]–ch 9, pg 104

172.Hebrews 11:3—ch 10, pg 109

173.John 14:27—ch 10, pg 112

174.Mark 8:36-37—ch 10, pg 114

175.Matthew 11:28—ch 10, pg 115

176.Ephesians 6:10-13—ch 10, pg 115

177.Revelation 3:20—ch 10, pg 116

178.Isaiah 1:18—ch 10, pg 116

179.Matthew 7:7–ch 10, pg 117

180.Isaiah 55:6—ch 10, pg 118

181.Hebrews 11:6—ch 10, pg 119

182.John 20:25—ch 10, pg 121

183.John 20:26-27—ch 10, pg 121

184.[“Be not faithless, but believing”]–ch 10, pg 122

185.Psalm 19:1-2—ch 10, pg 122

186.Exodus 20:3—ch 10, pg 122

187.Genesis 2:23-24—Marriage, pg 128

188.1 Corinthians 11:11–Marriage, pg 128

189.[Cain and Abel]–Marriage, pg. 131

190.Matthew 19:6—Marriage, pg. 134

191.Matthew 19:4-6—Marriage, pg. 136

192.Exodus 20:14,17—Marriage, pg 137

193.Proverbs 15:1—Marriage, pg. 138

194.Proverbs 27:4—Marriage, pg. 139

195.1 Kings 19:11-12—Marriage, pg. 140

196.Proverbs 16:32—Marriage, pg. 140

197.Malachi 3:10—Marriage, pg. 141

198.1 Timothy 5:8—Family, pg 145

199.Proverbs 22:6—Family, pg 156

200.Ezekiel 18:20—Family, pg 156

201.Acts 26:16, 18—Epilogue, pg 168

202.Mark 5:36—Epilogue, pg 168

203.Matthew 8:20—Epilogue, pg 169

204.2 Corinthians 4:9—Epilogue, pg 169

205.Philippians 4:7—Epilogue, pg 169

206.Revelation 3:15-16—Epilogue, pg 172

207.Psalm 8:3-5—Epilogue, pg 174

208.Ecclesiastes 9:11—Epilogue, pg 177

209.2 Timothy 1:7-8—Epilogue, pg 177


Personal anecdotes


1.Conversation about America with guide on visit to Jerusalem—xiii

Chapter 1

2.Giving valentine’s hearts as a boy–3

3.Two friends who made marriage work–4-5

4.Meeting American doctors in Vietnam giving service–8

5.Sleeping outdoors as a boy, seeing North Star…musings on constancy—9-10


Chapter 2

6.Skipping school as a boy and disappointing mother—13-14

7.Anonymous thief returns his money—16

8.Lost purse returned from Tokyo—18

9.Friend whose lust for wealth ruined him—24

10.Impressive advice from a colleague to his daughter—27

11.Repeats story of random kindness told him by his father—28


Chapter 3

12.Conversation in an airport about morality—31

13.Counseling couple in office about morality—32-33

14.Seeing orphans in Korea and Vietnam—34

15.Disgusted by ads in a newspaper—35

16.Railroad switch creates huge problem later—37

17.Edelweiss seeds (analogy)–41

18.Spring cleaning (analogy)–42–43


Chapter 4

19.Mother’s example of respect for others—47

20.Mother correcting his foul language—52

21.Grad student renter about his advisor’s decency—54

22.Friends who travel and serve to improve the world—56-57


Chapter 5

23.Owns a set of the Harvard Classics, describes family library as a boy—60


Chapter 6

24.Counseling a couple who wanted a divorce—71


Chapter 7

25.Chores as a boy—79-80

26.Living through the Great Depression—84-85

27.Friend (Pres. Faust) who paid off mortgage—87


Chapter 8

28.Awareness of our blessings from travels—89


Chapter 9

29.Attended 50th anniversary reunion—103

30.Counseled couple critical of each other—106


Chapter 10

31.Flying in a small plane and worrying—110

32.Observed a public moment of silence in Switzerland—116

33.Knew young man in military who kept standards—117

34.Friend’s letter to grandchildren re: prayer—120

35.Friends who escaped native land, gratefully—120



36.Performs sealings for granddaughters—127-128

37.Care and concern in his parents’ marriage—128-129

38.Praise for wife—129-130

39.Needs of a specific single mother—132-133

40.Receiving letter from troubled woman—136



41.His family home evenings growing up—143

42.Pruning trees—154

43.Neglected tree as analogy for parenting—154-155

44.A friend’s prodigal son—Family, pg 156-157

45.Neighbor with bad temper—Family, pg 157

46.Being told to pick up trash in school—Family, pg 161



47.Putting Peter Drucker’s advice to work—173

48.Enjoyed concert by King’s Singers—176



Conclusion: How to be more like President Gordon B. Hinckley

1.Read and memorize classic poetry

2.Study and become familiar with the history of the Western world

3.Keep a collection of quotes and stories that you like

4.Set up great historical leaders as your role models

5.Study great works of literature, including Shakespeare

6.Enrich yourself with inspiring, wholesome things

7.Avoid exposing yourself to things that will discourage you

8.Pay attention to and record the teachings and examples of your parents

9.Survey various news sources to keep informed of current events

10.Study, mark, and apply scripture to your life frequently


12.Learn from your experiences

13.Meet and talk to new people often

14.Assist others anytime and in any way possible

15.Magnify your callings in the Church

16.Look for ways to make your observations about the world into inspiring analogies for righteous living

17.Do physical work that contributes to the good of others

18. When you find good examples or ideas, practice imitating them

19.As you interact with the world around you, deal with everything by keeping your life centered on the gospel

20.Take living a good life seriously and work at it



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