Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » I Have a Question, 1905

I Have a Question, 1905

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 18, 2009

Two of these answers to questions are explicitly signed Joseph F. Smith; the others are presumably the work of George Q. Cannon. They appeared in the Juvenile Instructor of 1905.

Should the little children of the kindergarten [in Sunday School] be taught the events leading up to and culminating in the death of our Savior?

It is a principle widely accepted that it is not desirable to teach these little ones those things that are horrifying to childish nature. And what may be said of children is equally true in all stages of student life. But death is not an unmixed horror. with it are associated some of the profoundest and most important truths of human life. Although painful in the extreme to those who must suffer the departure of dear ones, death is one of the grandest blessings in divine economy; and we think children should be taught something of its true meaning as early in life as possible. …

Children are sure to be brought into some acquaintanceship with the incident of death, even during the kindergarten period; and it would be a great relief to the puzzled and perplexed conditions of their minds if some intelligent statements of the reason for death were made to them. No explanation of death to a child’s mind can anywhere be found that is more simple and convincing than is the death of our Master, connected as it is and ever must be with His glorious resurrection.

In giving the story of His crucifixion to little children, it should be divided into three lessons. The first should treat in a general way of death and the resurrection … The second lesson may then take up in detail the circumstances leading to the Savior’s death; while the third may explain those attending His resurrection. It is, of course, not advisable to make the master’s death horrifying by any dramatic representation that would be distressing to the feelings of childhood.

It is really less cruel to teach children the circumstances and events of Christ’s death and resurrection with an explanation of their meaning, than it is to permit little children to go on year after year witnessing death about them without knowing anything of God’s purposes and our blessings in death. The teacher should, of course, aim to control the feelings of the children in presenting the subject, and bring out the blessed conditions and results of death tothe righteous rather than to portray the wickedness of those who brought about Christ’s suffering and crucifixion. – Joseph F. Smith

We have received from time to time numerous inquiries concerning the meaning of the following passage of scripture, but especially as to what the Lord Jesus meant when He said, “And upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:13-18) …

There seems to have been a question in the minds of some as to what is the rock on which His church should be built?

Now we understand that the Roman Catholics hold the opinion that the Lord referred to Peter himself, and in proof of this view point to the change made in His name from Simon Bar-j0ona to peter.

But the view generally entertained and set forth by the elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in all their arguments is that the Lord referred to His remarks to the rock of revelation. He was speaking of revelation from the Father, by means of which Peter had learned that He [Jesus] was the Christ, the son of the living god. it was not from flesh and blood that Peter had learned this grand and all important truth; but he had learned it by divine revelation from the father …

It is the Lord Jesus Himself from whom revelation comes. In this light, then, He, Himself, is the Rock. In section 50, paragraph 44 of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, he says:

Wherefore I am in your midst, and I am the Good Shepherd and the Stone of Israel. He that buildeth upon this Rock shall never fall.

It is proposed by some of the [non-LDS] churches that the rites and ceremonies be made gorgeous and of such a character as to appeal to the interest of the youth.

While our own Sunday Schools are largely attended by the children, in them there is a lack of attendance by young people from sixteen to twenty-one years of age. there may be explanations for such negligence on the part of the young in attending Sunday School, but it is quite probable that if those of such an age could be induced to attend public meetings [Sacrament Meetings], they would also lend encouragement to Sunday School work by their presence. Our little children are not expected in the sacrament meetings. The Sunday School is considered quite sufficient for them …

How then shall we induce our boys and girls to attend worship on the Sabbath day? The question invites the earnest consideration of parents and Bishops and especially of the latter. We do not mean that the character of our worship should be changed, though it may be made to appeal to the needs of youth more than it does in many instances.

In the first place spirited meetings are desirable. Special efforts should be made to provide the people with good, strong testimonies and wholesome instructions. Young men may sometimes be invited to take part. Too much scolding and too little admonition do not have a good effect with the young …

Again, the influence of music may be brought into service in interesting the youth of Zion in our Sabbath meetings. If the Bishops and choir leaders would persuade young men and women to join the choir and thereby take part in the religious services, it would give them something to do, and the pleasure of the meeting would be greatly added to by their own efforts, which would make their attendance at the church more regular and more satisfactory.

The slovenly practice in many places of making no preparation for the Sunday meetings should give way to an earnest and prayerful consideration of what may be done to improve the character of the worship and to increase the attendance, especially of the young people. Good Sabbath meetings should be the pride and ambition of every Bishop in the Church. The places of worship should be made attractive and the spirit of the meetings should be characterized by love and brotherly devotion. there is often too much formality, too little cordial greeting and hand shaking. …

A Bishop whose meetings are dry and unattractive to the young as well as the old, needs the attention and encouragement of his Stake Presidency. Let our meetings not be wholly childless. Bishops and parents make a great mistake when they are indifferent to the presence of the youth of Zion in the places of worship on the Sabbath day. – Joseph F. Smith

Has the public, upon whose purchasing power wealth is so extensively acquired, any right to expect liberal consideration at the hands of those who have been the beneficiaries of public patronage?

Legally men may be compelled to contribute something to the public good through the medium of taxation. In addition, however, to the meager claim that the law lays upon wealth, there is a moral obligation of the rich to be above all men public spirited and generous in the distribution of their wealth, especially to the Church and those educational and charitable institutions that are dependent upon the free-will offerings of those competent to render substantial assistance. If those well-to-do observed conscientiously the law of God in the payment of their tithes and offerings, they would perform more truly the public obligations that devolve upon them than they now observe by holding their wealth for speculation and family aggrandisement. …

Men might more confidently expect divine favor upon their families and the generation which will follow them by fulfilling what is plainly an obligation to do that which God has given them the ability to do.



  1. These are always interesting to read. The question about making meetings more interesting to youth had this statement:

    The spirit of the meetings should be characterized by love and brotherly devotion. There is often too much formality, too little cordial greeting and hand shaking. …

    We certainly are different than most other churches these days in that we still wear “Sunday Best”, which generally means a suit and tie for men, and dresses for the women. And there seems from time to time to be an effort on the part of a few general authorities to increase formality in our meetings. I don’t want to hire rock bands to play in our meetings, or as one evangelical megachurch here locally does, encourage twitter comments that get posted to a blog that is displayed on a large screen for the whole congregation to see (I get enough of that here in the bloggernacle). But I think we still worry about making Sunday attendance relevant to our younger members. Only this time, it has to do with our young singles, who stay away in droves. If anyone has an answer, some 2000 stake presidents want to know.

    Comment by kevinf — March 18, 2009 @ 12:20 pm

  2. Wow, I was taken aback at the response to the question about making the worship service more appealing to the youth! I had expected a tired response about how we don’t need such outward things, and instead good, hard doctrine is all we need, yatata, yatata, yatata. Instead . . . wow!

    Above all, though, I move that we re-institute this little gem: “Our little children are not expected in the sacrament meetings.” All in favor? [wink]

    Comment by Hunter — March 18, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

  3. Kevinf: Your comments are right on. As the counselor over the Youth and YSA and as the faculty advisor the the local LDSSA at the university I am greatly concerned about this age group and trying to keep them active. I think JFS’s comment, “Special efforts should be made to provide the people with good, strong testimonies and wholesome instructions” is very appropriate. If anyone has any suggestions on how to keep this age group engaged, I’d be happy to hear them.

    I also found interesting his comment, “Our little children are not expected in the sacrament meetings.” (How I wished when I was young that was Church policy!) It’s interesting now how we pride ourselves in having our children in Sacrament Meetings.

    Kevinf: Hiring rock bands to play in our meetings…? We watched the old Disney movie, North Ave. Irregulars about an unorthodox pastor of a small Protestant church. To draw in the youth he hires a rock band to play. My 6 and 10 year old boys liked that idea. :-)

    Comment by Steve C. — March 18, 2009 @ 1:36 pm

  4. Then there was this line:

    Young men may sometimes be invited to take part.

    Well, one good thing is that our young women are also invited to take part, now, as well. Our ward has had exceptionally good youth speakers of late, and most have been YW. And our bishop’s wife recently gave one of the Best. Sacrament Meeting Talks. Ever. Truly.

    Comment by kevinf — March 18, 2009 @ 1:51 pm

  5. Great post. I liked the one about teaching children about the Atonement.

    In response to Kevinf and Steve C.’s questions about what to do with YSAs, I’ve written a post on my personal blog. (My response was kind of long, and I didn’t want to threadjack Ardis’s lovely post.)

    Comment by Keri Brooks — March 18, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

  6. I am finally convinced that we have moved beyond the election, since nobody bit on the last question about the duty of the wealthy toward the public!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 18, 2009 @ 7:24 pm

  7. My favorite was the specific statement that children can learn and understand hard things.

    Comment by Ray — March 19, 2009 @ 10:58 am

  8. “Has the public, upon whose purchasing power wealth is so extensively acquired, any right to expect liberal consideration at the hands of those who have been the beneficiaries of public patronage?”

    Who in the church in 1905 wrote like that? This had to have been written either by Joseph F. Smith or James Talmage. I can’t fathom any regular member using such locution.

    Comment by Rameumptom — March 20, 2009 @ 9:53 am

  9. I dunno about that. JFS and JET weren’t freaks — they wrote like many well-read men and women of that generation, and I can easily see this coming from any of those others.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 20, 2009 @ 10:10 am

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