Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog
 


John A. Widtsoe, “In Search of Truth”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 11, 2014

Aladdin had a magic lamp. The genie who was summoned by Aladdin’s rubbing of the lamp brought Aladdin incredible wealth, and arranged matters so that Aladdin married the daughter of a king. He owed everything to that lamp.

Aladdin’s wife had no idea of the significance of that old copper lamp and its powerful genie. A wicked magician did know, however, and he was determined to obtain the lamp. To do that, he disguised himself as a peddler offering to exchange new lamps for old. Foolish bride! When the magician offered her a brand new beautiful lamp in place of the battered old one, she made the exchange. The evil magician lost no time in reducing Aladdin to a beggar and enriching himself.

John A. Widtsoe used this story to begin his 1930 book In Search of Truth. This short book – only 111 pages – is written for high school or college-age students challenged by science, philosophy, and other ideas that confronted them in school. Widtsoe was proud of the youth of the Church who were willing to get an education. “The youth of our day,” he wrote, “are thinking for themselves. For that let us be grateful.”

But he saw Aladdin’s story as a cautionary tale for students. “Almost every day someone, usually honest enough, offers a new belief or thought, burnished and bright with newness, to replace convictions that we have long held and which have well maintained us. This always raises the question whether the old beliefs should be surrendered.” Don’t do it, he says, “unless we are certain that the new offerings can serve us better. A careless exchange may result in loss or fearful consequences.”

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Little Teamstress

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 08, 2014

From the Relief Society Magazine, May 1962 –

Little Teamstress

By Frances C. Yost

We all missed Mama, but Papa missed her more than any of us. It was painful when we gathered round the table and her place was empty. I believe that is why Papa told me to sit at the foot of the table from then on. Papa always complimented me on my cooking, but I knew that, try as I could, it didn’t measure up to Mama’s. And, although I tried to, I just couldn’t glorify leftovers as Mama had.

We missed Mama, too, on Sunday. I tried to keep things washed and ironed, and buttons sewed on as Mama had, but most every Sunday something showed up needing mending, or something had been hung up instead of put in the clothes hamper, and missed the wash entirely. But we managed, and we were thankful that tiny Susan hadn’t had to go off to the city and live with Aunt Erma. We all especially enjoyed little Susan around. She had been two years old when Mama died. She was such a ray of sunshine to all of us, because she didn’t remember Mama enough to get homesick for her as the rest of us did.

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“A Little Child Shall Lead”: 2

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 08, 2014

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Whole Year Through: Home Fire Insurance, 1904

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 08, 2014

Home Fire Insurance was that company with a Board of Directors filled with General Authorities, and an advertising campaign filled with mini-dramas. Here are the ads of Home Fire Insurance in 1904, published in the Juvenile Instructor. (Repetitions have been omitted.)

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1 January 1904

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Mollie Higginson: Criticising the Bible (1920)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 07, 2014

Criticising the Bible.

In the world to-day there is a growing tendency to criticise the Holy Scriptures. Higher criticism has declared that the Bible is not authentic, that it contains so many discrepancies and errors that it is not to be relied upon, and, of course, with the Bible must go our faith in God. These would-be savants would thus ruthlessly take the very bread of life from the hands of hungering humanity and in its place they give – what? Just nothing; they have no substitute to offer; they take away the word of God, which has proved to be an unfailing source of comfort to so many generations and give us nothing in its place.

Let us consider a few facts. Excavations recently made in Mesopotamia have thrown light on many of the Bible customs. Excavations in the Sinaitic Peninsula and in Palestine have proved that kings mentioned in the Bible really lived and moved and had their being as stated in the scriptural records. In 1872 George Smith discovered the Babylonian account of the deluge contained in a poem.

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Home on Leave

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 07, 2014

Home on Leave

By Ruth Bassett

We sat together there, within the Church,
You in navy blue, with stripes of gold.
You in navy blue! My heart turned cold
With apprehension, and I turned to search
Your bronzed, uplifted face, afraid to find
A grim resentment that would silence prayer;
But only trust and reverence were there,
And trust that he to whom you prayed is kind.
I thought, in death’s stark nearness he has come
Nearer to God than I, who feel secure.
Whatever he is called on to endure,
The vanguard of that faith will bring him home.
So comfort came, as we were sitting there,
As if in answer to a sailor’s prayer.

(1951)

Down the Lanes of August

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 07, 2014

From the Children’s Friend, August, 1960 –

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“A Little Child Shall Lead”: 1

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 07, 2014

I have about a dozen poems in a series dating from 1931 which I will post over the next two weeks, without editorial comment. The first:

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For the sake of search engines:

“Who Are You Redman?”
By Bertha A. Kleinman

Years upon years ago, so they tell,
When white men came to this land to dwell,
They found you, Redman, but no one knew
Who brought you here and not even you
Could tell the legend that made it plain,
So they took from you your land and gain
And pressed you into the wilderness.

From North to South and from East to West
They scattered your tribesmen far and wide,
And legions out on the trail have died.
They called you savage and Indian,
You who are truest American,
Men know you as Pima and Papago,
Sioux and Apache and Navajo;
The past has hidden your primal name,
And nobody tells from whence you came.

Cora Had a Question, 1903

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 07, 2014

Well, Cora herself may not have had this question, but somebody at the general Church level was certainly responding to Cora’s case when this appeared in the Juvenile Instructor in the summer of 1903, six weeks after Cora’s excommunication.

Church Courts and Land Disputes

Question: Has a Bishop’s court authority to try cases involving land disputes?

Answer: Before our lands were surveyed by the government, settlements had been formed and boundaries clearly established. After the survey was made it was found that, as a general thing, the lines of a quarter section would run through the lands of more than one settler; and in order that every man might have title to that which belonged to him, one of the interested parties would comply with the provisions of the law and obtain the title, and after doing this he would deed to the others such portions of the homestead entry as belonged to them; and it was not an uncommon thing for our Church courts to settle disputes arising under those circumstances. But since the government survey it has not been customary for church courts to entertain complaints involving the title to lands, and the same may be said with respect to water. All disputes involving legal titles must be adjudicated by courts of competent jurisdiction. The point is this, Church courts must not undertake to interfere with the legal rights of any member.

President Young held that when any person secures title to land from the government, part of which has been occupied and cultivated by others, he or she should respect the rights of such persons by being willing to deed to them the land they have improved, provided that they pay their share of the expenses incurred in securing the government title, and also a fair remuneration to the pre-emptor or homesteader, for the loss of his or her pre-emption or homestead right in proportion to the amount of land which the various parties received.

In addition to the timing of this Q&A, one more tiny detail points squarely to its being in response to Cora’s case: Church magazines do not normally use “he or she” in writing like this, especially when it involves the traditionally male sphere. They add “or she,” because it’s a “she” whose case they have in mind!

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Steak for Thursday

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 06, 2014

From the Relief Society Magazine, April 1955 –

Steak for Thursday

By Rosa Lee Lloyd

Cristeen McCarthy put Tommy in his high chair and tied a bib around his neck.

“Mulk!” he crooned as his little hands went around the cup she handed to him. He gulped rapturously.

“Just like your daddy,” she observed, glancing at Tom as he sat contentedly eating his bacon and eggs. “Give your daddy enough to eat and a place to sleep, and he crows with delight. He likes to live in a rut. Even when he has a chance, he won’t get out of it!”

Tom put his fork down with a little sigh. The smile went away from his thin, Lincolnesque face.

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