Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » I Have a Question, 1895

I Have a Question, 1895

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 04, 2011

More questions believed to have been answered by George Q. Cannon as editor of the Juvenile Instructor:

Is it necessary in blessing an infant for the Elder to speak the entire name, as, John James Smith? Or would the child be properly named if the Elder gave it the name of John James, when the father’s name is Smith, and in reality the child’s name is John James Smith?

The mention of the given name or names is all that is essential to the correct blessing of a child, as its name at birth is the same as that of its parents, and therefore it is not necessary to again confer upon it this name. Sometimes in blessing children, however, the original as well as the Christian name is mentioned, which is, of course, not in the least improper.

We are asked if the natives of New Zealand and of the Samoan, Society and Sandwich Islands are descendants of the Nephites or of the Lamanites. If of the former, how can their dark color be accounted for?

There has nothing been written as coming from the Lord to warrant us in saying whether these Polynesians are descended from the Nephites or form the Lamanites. If they are descendants of Lehi, they doubtless have both Nephite and Lamanite blood in their veins. While there is nothing written as the word of the Lord upon this point, there exists scarcely a doubt in the minds of the Elders who have paid attention to this subject concerning their origin. We believe we state the general opinion when we say they are descendants of Lehi.

The question remains, If they are descendants of Nephi, how came they to be dark as the Lamanites?

It is plain from the history which the Lord has given us in the Book of Mormon that this dark skin has been brought upon them by transgression. Whether this transgression occurred before they left this continent or afterwards, is not clear. It can scarcely be doubted that men of these races whose skins are red have had for ancestors men who held the Priesthood. The traditions of the islanders, especially on the Sandwich Islands, are that they came from the east; and to one familiar with the history contained in the Book of Mormon there is a striking similarity between their traditions and statements that are contained in the sixty-third chapter of the Book of Alma.

The question is asked whether a member of the Church should partake of the water, while the sacrament is being passed, if he should enter the Sunday School or meeting too late to receive the bread, or should he refuse the water with the remark that he had not partaken of the bread?

There ought to be no question on a matter of this kind. If a person should be detained in coming to meeting and be too late to partake of the bread, upon the water being presented to him, he can easily inform the person administering that he has not partaken of the bread, and there need be no trouble about his being handed the bread, so that he may partake properly of this ordinance.

But this question shows the importance of every one being punctual in attending meetings, and especially meetings where the sacrament is administered. No one should be late at such meetings, if it is possible to avoid it; and should one be detained unavoidably, then the officer administering the sacrament will undoubtedly see that the late-comer has the bread first, and then the water.

There is a practice which is altogether too prevalent, we think, among the Latter-day Saints of abbreviating words and using initials instead of the full words.

Our city was formerly known as Great Salt Lake City. We frequently come across correspondence written and published where the initials have been substituted for the full word. For instance, instead of saying “Great Salt Lake City,” “G.S.L. City” is written. Now in a generation or two hence the fact that this city was ever called Great Salt Lake City may not be known, and the reader at that time, in seeing these initials, may be at an entire loss to know what place is meant by G.S.L. City. At the present time many are so indolent or careless as to write S.L. City. This is not plain, and would not be plain to people at a distance, and will be equally mystifying to those who will live hereafter.

In the same manner, and for probably the same reason, we find the Brigham Young Academy of Provo, which bears an honored name and which should always have its full name, called “B.Y. Academy,” conveying to a stranger no clear idea of what is meant and giving it a title which is anything but respectful to its great founder.

The same remark applies to the Brigham Young College at Logan, which is also frequently called the “B.Y. College.” We must utter our protest against this lazy and disrespectful method of treating names so honored as that of President Young.

But it goes even farther than this. We have see the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ abbreviated by some persons in this way – the Church of J.C. of L.D.S. It is most irreverent and, we think, sinful to thus treat the name of our Great Redeemer. But when people get into the fashion of doing such things, they do not stop to think of reverence or of anything else, except what they call brevity.

The question has arisen in one of the theological classes in the Box Elder Stake whether a literal descendant of Aaron, after having been duly appointed a Bishop, as indicated in Section 68 of the doctrine and Covenants, can act as our present Bishops now act, namely, in presiding over wards, officiating in all the ordinances of the Gospel, etc., without having the Melchisedek Priesthood conferred upon him.

A descendant of Aaron who receives his ordination as a Bishop by right of descent can only act in the ordinances of the Lesser Priesthood. He would have no more right to act in the offices of the Melchisedek Priesthood than did John the Baptist, who was a literal descendant of Aaron. John could baptize with water, but he distinctly stated that one should come after him who would baptize them with the Holy Ghost, he himself not having the right to officiate in the ordinance of laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. Our Bishops who now officiate in that office, do so by virtue of their having been ordained High Priests, and not because of their ordination as Bishops.

When a father or other person holding the Melchisedek Priesthood blesses and names a baby when eight days old, is it then necessary for the parents to take the child to Fast meeting and have it blessed and named again?

While it is the right of every father in this Church to bless his child when it is eight days old, if he so desires, there is, however, an order in the Church that children should be blessed in the ward, under the direction of the Bishop. One reason for this is that there may be a proper record kept of the birth of the child, its parentage, the name that is given to it, etc., so that its name may be numbered among the names of the Saints of God. And this should be observed by all parents in the blessing of their children.



  1. Sorry for all the canned posts this week — I’m too swamped to be creative. Will do better next week.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 4, 2011 @ 7:42 am

  2. Somebody tell the folks at BYU! Err… Brigham Young University.

    Comment by chris — August 4, 2011 @ 8:05 am

  3. Love the stuff on baby blessings, especially the note about eighth day blessings. While very common, I only had one transcript of such a blessing and I found a second only a week ago! Very cool stuff.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 4, 2011 @ 9:12 am

  4. I was fascinated by my sin of calling Brigham Young University “The Y”.

    But also by the discussion of literal descendants of Aaron as bishops. Good stuff this time (canned or not).

    Comment by Paul — August 4, 2011 @ 9:45 am

  5. The afternoon after my first child had been born, and my wife was asleep, and I sat down and felt all the hours that had passed since we rose from our beds a little after midnight, I looked at the form to fill out for the state vital statistics registering the birth. There was a blank for last name. Every thing was open. We could name the child anything, even any last name. Such power that could be so easily and so horribly abused required a night’s sleep to assure that no harm was inflicted.

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 4, 2011 @ 11:57 am

  6. John, I’m trying to imagine what you might have called him… :-)

    Comment by Paul — August 4, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

  7. I can think of a few parents whose children’s freakish names and oryijinalle spellings prove that they were not as wise as John.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 4, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

  8. If those who administer the affairs of the Church don’t like seeing “the Church of J.C. of L.D.S.” I guess I’ll be getting a few tithing checks back!

    Comment by The Other Clark — August 4, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

  9. My parent’s children all have very unique names (which is part of the reason I use a pseudonym on public blogs,) and I gave my daughters unique names. But I chose names that were historical and reflected their ancestral culture, not ones I just made up.

    The initial thing just goes to show that we are a hopelessly irreverent culture.

    Comment by SilverRain — August 5, 2011 @ 4:59 am

  10. I don’t know nothin’ ’bout unique names, SilverRain!

    And I hope I didn’t offend many Rusellettes or Gregabeths out there when I referred to freakishly original names …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 5, 2011 @ 6:20 am

  11. Ardis, my frazzled mind that day ran in a different direction than Gregabeth. It started with the idea that the last name assigned my child didn’t necessarily have to be my last name, as President Cannon, his questioner, and any right-thinking person would assume. It could be any last name I picked. It could be any word, like Chair or Stratocumulus. There didn’t have to be a last name at all. The names could sequences of random syllables, or unpronounceable strings of letters. Again what struck me most was that not even the last name was necessarily safe from atrocities inflicted my demented parents, hence the connection to the Juvenile Instructor entry above.

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 5, 2011 @ 6:59 am

  12. “Gregabeth Stratocumulus” — between the two of us, John, I think we’re on to something. Whoa!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 5, 2011 @ 7:47 am

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