While it is easy to find early 20th century series of lessons and articles aimed at women and girls, teaching them what it meant to be a Mormon woman and how to dress, behave, talk, eat, walk, socialize, dance and travel, it is far more difficult to find similar lessons instructing men in their personal responsibilities and individual duties outside of the formal duties of the priesthood.
Instead of personal instruction, formal lessons for men, young and old, tended to be intellectual: they discussed political, social, and religious topics far more than personal or family subjects. One example of such a series of lessons was published in 1917-1918, of which this post is the preface.
The published articles were intended for discussion, not instruction. There is no claim that the positions presented reflect Mormon doctrine or belief in any way. The author had to occasionally remind men who objected to his political views that they were free to disagree, but to disagree with evidence and reasons. Disagreement was to be used to encourage reasoning and logical thinking.
I will no doubt end up posting all of the discussions, but rather than post them in the order in which they were presented to the YMMIA, I’d like to first post those dealing with topics that you are curious about. If any of these topics catch your interest, please say so in the comments. I’ll add links to this list as each discussion is posted.
I. An Interpretation of the War
II. The Ashes of the World’s Conflagration
III. The World’s Leveling Processes
IV. The Spirit of Destruction
V. Religion and the War
VI. Conservation of Life
VII. A Real Danger to the Middle Class
VIII. Value of Child Life
XI. Inequalities a Besetting Sin of Present Day Life
XII. The Future of the Holy Land
XIII. The Reaction of War Weapons on Civil Life
XV. A Pleasure Loving Age
XVI. Financial Respectability
XVII. Survival of the Fittest
XVIII. The New Education
XIX. The Home
XX. Woman’s World
XXI. Dependent Mothers
XXII. Sexual Life
XXIV. Race Suicide
XXV. Race Suicide (continued)
XXVIII. The Theater
XXXI. Back to the Land
XXXII. Back to the Land (continued)
XXXIII. Fast Offerings
XXXIV. Business Life
XXXV. The Negro Question
PROBLEMS OF THE AGE
Dealing with Religious, Social and Economic Questions and Their Solution.
A Study for the Quorums and Classes of the Melchizedek Priesthood. 1917-1918.
By Dr. Joseph M. Tanner
I am asked to write on some of the vital problems of the age. At the outset I anticipate a criticism that many of the chapters of this book will be considered pessimistic. Problems are problems because they have two sides, and because they presuppose, in our social and economic systems, a need of reformation; they are problems also because they carry certain dangers with them. If this were an age of optimism we should have few or no problems for discussion.
About the only real optimism which we can safely entertain is the optimism of hope that things somehow and sometime will come out all right. It is our chief duty at present, however, to pursue remedies to thwart evils which every thoughtful person must realize are threatening the social and economic systems of the world.
War has its evils but war is also a revelation of a multitude of existing evils that have brought it about. We are, therefore, on the threshold of a period of reconstruction. As a people we believe sincerely that the wisdom of this world is insufficient to met the great demands of the future. Hereafter the world must take God into their confidence and consider seriously the revelations which he has given for our guidance. Only a very few of these revelations are referred to in this book because of the limitations put upon it.
The contents of these chapters are not exhaustive. They are rather intended as a basis for the discussion of present conditions of life which constitute a problem for all thinking men. The classes for whom these chapters are intended will have, therefore, from their own experience and reading, abundant illustrations to supplement that which the author has written. The problems contained in these discussions are the living issues; they are very serious issues that confront us.
Furthermore, we live in an age when the most serious troubles confront us, and as a people we may well begin the work of reconstruction that has been prepared for us by revelation. It is time to set our houses in order and prepare fore the colossal work which peace will bring to us as a people and to the world at large.
If I have drawn a dark picture of many aspects of the world today, I rest in the consolation that nothing has been said in this book which, in my thoughts, is not justified by the revelations which God has given through the Prophet Joseph Smith tot he world. The revelations in the book of Doctrine and Covenants truly give us the most serious warnings of God’s judgments which are to come, and “come quickly,” he has told us. If there are those who think I have been excessively pessimistic, let them read the words of God contained in the revelations printed in the Doctrine and Covenants. They are my best defense. – J. M. Tanner