To borrow a line from a fine old Protestant hymn, it was a "happy day" when I learned that evangelist Ravi Zacharias would be preaching from the pulpit of the Salt Lake Tabernacle later this year.

It was also quite a surprise.

But then learning that Brigham Young made the same invitation to evangelist Dwight L. Moody some 135 years ago surprised me as well. But it shouldn't have.

After all, Brigham Young was the one who said, "Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or with the Universalists, or the Church of Rome or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any of the various and numerous different sects and parties . . . it is the business of the Elders of this Church to gather all the truths in the world pertaining to life and salvation, to the Gospel we preach — to the sciences and to philosophy, wherever it may be found in every kindred, tongue and people and bring it to Zion." (Discourses of Brigham Young, Page 248).

Brigham Young, I think, would have enjoyed the visit of Ravi Zacharias. It promises to be an amazing moment.

But then the Tabernacle revival meeting of D. L. Moody must have been pretty amazing itself.

Moody was a former Chicago shoe salesman who was "slain" by the spirit and felt the Lord "lay on his heart" a call to preach. He was the Billy Graham of his day.

Rotund and bearded with vocal pipes like the Tabernacle organ, Moody was the kind of Bible thumper that Utah poet Dave Lee says "loves to work every vowel sound into the word 'God.' "

In the early 1870s, Moody traveled with a young music director named Philip Paul Bliss. Bliss would later die tragically, at age 38, trying to rescue his wife from a burning train. In his short life, however, he wrote some of Christendom's most beloved hymns, including "More Holiness Give Me" and "Almost Persuaded." Many hymns he spun from the sermons Moody delivered. Bliss wrote "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy," for instance, after hearing Moody thunder, "God will tend the lighthouse. We must keep the lower lights burning!"

Imagining the moods of Moody and the bliss of Bliss in the Salt Lake Tabernacle is enough to bend the mind a little.

My own "Moody moment" came in Chicago a few years ago. My wife and I were visiting family there when we decided to go by the famous Moody Church and bookstore.

The Moody Church is something of a tabernacle itself. The man could draw a crowd.

And as we wandered around the bookstore, I was brought up short by a series of art prints on one of the walls. There, in the heart of Moody's world, were several lovely paintings of the Savior by LDS artist Greg Olson.

Moody had made his way into Temple Square.

The LDS faithful were now making their way into the Moody church.

Call me sentimental, but when good people open their hearts — and buildings — to other good people, it tends to make my day.

And now Ravi Zacharias is coming to Temple Square to link arms with the local believers of every stripe.

As the gruff old District Attorney Adam Shiff used to say on "Law & Order," don't you just love it when everybody's happy?


E-mail: jerjohn@desnews.com