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“Father Says …”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - February 05, 2010

This lesson from the 1933 manual for priesthood meeting discussions for Aaronic Priesthood Teachers throughout the Church appears to be a talk given by a young boy, but the speaker and occasion are not identified. I’m reproducing every word of that lesson here – there is no explanation or direction that you are not seeing.

Reactions?

November – First Week
Lesson 45
GOVERNMENTS

(a) Activity Period: (About 15 minutes.) Prayer. – Roll call. – Consider ways of getting attendance of absent members. – Report of assignments performed. – Assignments for ensuing week. – Social and fraternal activities. – Instructions by members of bishopric.

(b) Lesson Period: (15 to 30 minutes.) Report of number who have read lesson.

What is Government? What is called a government is a set of rules and laws fixed up by leading men to regulate public matters, and to protect good people from those who would rob and destroy them to get money or revenge if such rascals were allowed to do as they pleased. That is only half the answer, however. Laws and rules would be useless without strong and honest men to administer the laws and see that the rules were obeyed.

Monarchies. Father says there are two kinds of government – one where a king or an emperor rules, and the other where the people choose out one man or a dozen men to govern the country. He says that kings get on their thrones because they are sons or relatives of other kings, not because they are any smarter or better than the men over whom they rule. that is called monarchy, and most of the countries of Europe, Asia and Africa are governed that way. But even over there the people are getting tired of that form of government.

Republics. The other form of government is called a republic and our country has that form of government. It is where the men all get together and talk over what kind of laws they had better make and what men they had better elect to be presidents, mayors, commissioners, senators and all that. The more people there are the more officers are needed. But the more people learn to govern themselves the fewer officers are needed. Of course if the United States was a little bit of a country like Switzerland, we wouldn’t need many officers. But we’ve got many states in our Union, most of them bigger than Switzerland.

Police. We need policemen to keep things safe and orderly on the streets and to protect our homes. They are like soldiers who go out to protect all the women and children, the old men and the property of the country, which is or may be threatened by some other nation. Then we need commissions and legislators to look after the city waterworks, the parks and resorts, the roads and bridges, and all the asylums and county hospitals and voting places and all the business of the city and the state.

Government Authority. Father says a lot of times these legislators, or commissioners, can’t agree on some certain law or policy and then it needs a mayor or a governor or a president of the whole nation to decide the point. He says that’s the way it was when the Southern States wanted to keep on buying and owning slaves, and they wanted to have each state decide that question of slavery, as well as to what tariff should be charged when goods were brought into the country or sent out from our country to other nations, and all such like matters. They claimed each state should be independent of all other states around it, only joining together in case of war being threatened from some European nation. They called their plan a Confederation of States. While the Northern States claimed that such questions as slavery, tariff, coining money, etc., etc., were national questions, and that all the states must agree about such important issues. The congressmen quarreled about it for years. Then it was that Abraham Lincoln rose up and told the fighting congressmen that war was declared, and it was so. I guess we needed a president right there and then. he had the decision in his hands.

The Constitution. Father says that the Constitution of our country was inspired by God. It seems as if it must be so, for it’s founded on the relations of the family. We boys can quarrel among ourselves a great deal, as brothers sometimes do, but when father comes out and decides the question, that settles it, and father is a wise man. Mother says that is why she likes the Republican form of government, for the good of the whole family is of more importance than that of any one of its parts or persons. Individual desires must be sacrificed when the interest of the whole family is at stake. She says presidents and mayors are, or should be, the wisest and best men in the city and the nation. She says she married father because he was the best and wisest man she knew; and he needs to be so, because he always decides the most important questions in the family and she likes to know that he is wiser than she is or any one of her sons and daughters. Boys must protect their mothers and sisters. That’s their first duty.

Political Parties. Father says there must be two parties in any Republican form of government or else it would soon become a monarchy. He says mother and the children should have opinions as to what is best to be done in the home, and they have the right to express those opinions. But when mother elected him, of her own free will and choice as president or mayor, or the head, of the household, it is his right and duty to make decisions when there may be a difference of opinion.

I love my family and I love my country, because both are given of God. And it is a pleasure to obey the rules and laws of my Church, my family and my country. I do this of my own free will.

Review Questions

1. Why do people need a government?
2. What is a government?
3. What is a law?
4. What happens to us when we break physical or natural laws?
5. Is a good king better to live under than a confused, quarreling republic?
6. What are some of the dangers of a monarchy?
7. What are some of the benefits of a republic?
8. How is heaven regulated?
9. To what extent is there order there?
10. Try to figure out how many governing officers there are in your state, county and city.
11. If people generally observed the laws, how would that affect the number of officers needed? Also, how would it affect our taxes?
12. What is Congress?
13. Why does the President of the United States decide matters and enforce the laws?
14. What is the Constitution?
15. Who prepared it?
16. Do other governments have constitutions?
17. Do women vote in all countries?
18. On what important principle should all good government be based?

Assign lesson for following meeting.



17 Comments »

  1. A bit simplistic. There are other forms of government after all. And Lincoln’s role in instigating the Civil War is not only simplistic, it is twisted.

    Comment by Eric Boysen — February 5, 2010 @ 8:42 am

  2. But if father said it, it must be true. Mother did elect him, after all.

    Comment by Diana — February 5, 2010 @ 9:15 am

  3. I have a little bit of yikes going on here.

    This is my most yikes section.

    “She says she married father because he was the best and wisest man she knew; and he needs to be so, because he always decides the most important questions in the family and she likes to know that he is wiser than she is or any one of her sons and daughters.”

    This is my most yikes line.

    “she likes to know that he is wiser than she is”

    Yikes.

    Comment by Dovie — February 5, 2010 @ 9:51 am

  4. Ardis, it’s fascinating to see the difference between this kind of interpretation of priesthood leadership in the family and what we have now. We’d NEVER say it quite like this today:

    She [mother] says she married father because he was the best and wisest man she knew; and he needs to be so, because he always decides the most important questions in the family and she likes to know that he is wiser than she is or any one of her sons and daughters.
    But most of us recognize that in a family “the good of the whole family is of more importance than that of any one of its parts or persons, and that “individual desires must be sacrificed when the interest of the whole family is at stake.

    So, have things really changed, or are we just more careful to be politically correct in the way we state them?

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — February 5, 2010 @ 10:00 am

  5. “he is wiser than she is” hehe silly “unwise” me.

    Comment by Dovie — February 5, 2010 @ 10:17 am

  6. Remember that this is an uncorrelated, private statement.

    I think that talks like this reflect what people really believed and practiced, and the fact that the priesthood body that compiled the teachers’ course that year apparently didn’t find anything extraordinary enough to edit probably means it was a widespread, mainstream interpretation.

    A more formal or official expression from this era would be one in the 1930 priesthood handbook that reads: “All male members of the Church of Christ, living in conformity with the gospel laws, excepting only the descendants of Cain, have a claim upon the Priesthood. The man, the leader of the family, holds the Priesthood, but its benefits extend to and are shared by his wife without whom he is not complete before the Lord.”

    How church members got from “sharing” and “incomplete without her” to “wife, exactly like children, may express opinion but husband decides” is the question, no?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 5, 2010 @ 10:23 am

  7. Aside from the presiderer language, I’d like to suggest that this talk appears to me to have been composed by a boy himself, not written for him by a parent although obviously he interviewed both his parents. The content may be questioned by today’s understanding, and his coverage of government types is, as Eric says, simplistic and not entirely correct.

    Still, I think the talk is well organized and the fluency and confidence with which he speaks is admirable. I wish I knew who he was. More, I wish current ward speakers of any age would routinely do as well (only, you know, with content conforming to gospel truth).

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 5, 2010 @ 10:28 am

  8. Well, especially with how many times “Father” is cited, and given the fact that it has been selected for publication in an AP manual, I think you are right that it loosely represents a mainstream view–and for that reason it’s interesting historically. Especially notice how vigorously a republic is defended and strong governmental authority is described!

    Interesting post, Ardis.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — February 5, 2010 @ 11:35 am

  9. As Diana pointed out, “Father says” is pretty much the gist of the whole thing!

    It’s an interesting document in several ways. It strikes me as probably a very good summary of mainstream political views of the time, religious content aside. And the religious content is pretty scant, no? If I were reading this cold, I don’t know that I’d immediately identify it as an LDS document. The question “How is Heaven regulated” and the idea that the Constitution is “founded on the relations of the family,” are the only tip offs for me, but neither seem to “scream Mormon,” really.

    And simplistic and naive content aside, as Ardis said, it IS a cogent and well organized work and better than what many high school graduates could muster today. I’m afraid that shocks me more than its Father-Knows-Best flavor.

    Comment by Mina — February 5, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

  10. If Father was so wise, he still somehow stumbled in teaching that Pres. Lincoln was the one who started the civil war. As to the father presiding in the home, the recent discussion about “fall-lite” over at BCC this week shows that for some, we haven’t come so far at all. Very much a product of the times, though. I’m trying to decide if it really is a talk given by a boy, or someone trying to sound like a 12 year old boy, and I’m not sure. Still, viewed from our current perspective, which may not totally be fair, I find it yikesworthy nonetheless.

    Comment by kevinf — February 5, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

  11. I hereby declare “yikes” (per Dovie) and “yikesworthy” (per kevinf), both used as adjectives, to be Official Keepa Terms of Non-Endearment.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 5, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

  12. Wow, official recognition of a totally made up word! Thanks, Ardis, I’ll have to use this one more often!

    Comment by kevinf — February 5, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

  13. Do we have a Keepa lexicon?

    Comment by Eric Boysen — February 6, 2010 @ 11:28 am

  14. Heh, heh, we should really start to compile it. We have the Keepa’ninny (or just “ninny”) name for ourselves, and now terms of non-endearment, and even a preferred vulgarity (comments 97-99), to go along with our mascots and slogan and whatever else I’m not thinking of at the moment.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 6, 2010 @ 11:53 am

  15. The first time through I couldn’t find the vulgarity (because I didn’t bother to read the note that told me where to look), but in my search I found reference to a potential snack (non-) food, “Cobalt-blue inside-out glass peanuts.” and don’t forget the Keepa chemical of choice — Utah Sugar.

    Comment by Eric Boysen — February 7, 2010 @ 9:00 am

  16. I can’t find the specific statement of the slogan unless it is the “We’re adequate!” in the title. Is that what you had in mind?

    Comment by Eric Boysen — February 7, 2010 @ 9:05 am

  17. Yes, how could I fail to mention SUGAR!! “We’re adequate!” is the slogan I had in mind, because so many comments played off how average we were feeling that day.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 7, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

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