The Mormons: An Illustrated History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. by Roy A. Prete. London/New York: Merrell, 2013. 160 p. index. ISBN 978-1-8589-4620-7. Hardcover. Cover price: $34.95 (US); £24.95 (UK); $38.95 (Can.), but currently $18.90 on Amazon.
The subtitle “An Illustrated History” may conjure up expectations of familiar paintings of the First Vision and Joseph Smith at the Hill Cumorah, and old sepia-tone photos of the Kirtland Temple and a wagon company in the canyons of Utah. There is some of that in this attractive book of photographs with running commentary and interesting sidebar articles. However, that traditional (or stereotyped?) presentation of our history fades into the background here: This is overwhelmingly a look at contemporary Mormon life with historical context, rather than the far more common study of early Mormon history with a brief nod to modern developments.
I like it.
From the Relief Society Magazine, December 1936 –
“Evergreen and Folly”
By Maryhale Woolsey
Snow was falling; a biting wind hurled the flakes viciously against faces and inside coat-collars. But the high spirits of the Christmas Eve shopping crowd defied the discomforts of the storm. Cheeks glowed; eyes peered narrowly but merrily above close-drawn furs and tightly clutched packages; voices rose with increased good cheer. Even the colored lights of the street decorations seemed to sparkle and glow more festively.
Edward Thane, warm and comfortable inside his big black limousine, viewed the scene in his usual detached manner. Distinctly alien, more than a little intolerant, he felt himself to be – apart from all the world at this season when goodwill was the expressed order. Christmas had long since ceased to mean anything to Ed Thayne personally. An able secretary discharged the few duties he felt obligatory – sending a few cards, giving to a half-dozen preferred charities, preparing “bonuses” for presentation to a few employees of long standing. That would be about all. And even that mattered but little.
From the Relief Society Magazine, December 1952 –
The Christmas Tree
By Lillian S. Feltman
“Silent Night – Holy Night.” The soft strains carolled thinly on the crisp December night air. Ellie, walking homeward in the snowy dusk, paused a moment to listen. “Silent Night – Holy Night.” It was almost like old times, just hearing it.
Old times – when the children had all been home and their stockings had hung limply, waiting for Santa to fill them. Tom and Ollie and Marge had married, and had gone, one by one, away from the old home. There was no one left, now, but herself and Paul. Just as there had been only Paul and herself in the beginning.
Lesson 44: Being Good Citizens
Doctrine & Covenants 134
Purpose: To encourage Church members to be good citizens by participating in government, obeying the law, and strengthening the community.
Lesson Discussion and Application
[1. Participating in government
2. Obeying the laws of the land
3. Strengthening the community]
Write on board before class, in a place where it can remain throughout the lesson even if the board is used for other purposes during discussion: “In the Church … there is neither Scandinavian nor Swiss nor German nor Russian nor British, nor any other nationality.” – Joseph F. Smith, 1917
Fri. July 6, 1917
Wrote letters. Were expecting the steamer so walked down to the wharf at night, but no sight of it. Received news that Mr Gardello the mayor of Papeete had passed away. Aged 79 yrs.
Sat. July , 1917
Attended Mr Gardellos funeral & called to see the American Consul in the evening.
Sun. July , 1917
S.S. & Sacrament meeting. Sister Compton gave her farewell speech in the afternoon & did very well. Paloana arrived at daybreak & was to leave early next morning. So Sister went aboard to sleep & I went down to keep her company. I hid a beautiful embroidered Chinese red shawl in her cabin for her to find after she had set sail.
Keepapitchinin features a fair amount of historical Mormon poetry, stories, music, and jokes since, of course, a culture’s literature offers valuable insights into its past and present identity.
For obvious reasons Ardis has rarely featured offerings from other languages, but our recent German history and culture week allowed a brief exploration of a hymn text from a German-American Latter-day Saint, Louis F. Mönch.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Keepapitchinin is my personal blog.
I “represent” the Church only in the same general way that all of us who are members “represent” the Church – others look at me, at us, read my posts and your comments, and form some idea of what it means to be a Mormon. But I do not – have never claimed to – represent the Church in any official role. What I write here represents my own personal understanding of Church history, of doctrine, of our way of life. I do not presume to speak for the Church as a whole, or any branch or department or ward or auxiliary or any other subdivision of the Church. What you get here is me, not the Church.
I know that all of you who are regular readers understand this. You would never be so foolish, or so naive, or so reckless, or so timid, or so hateful, or so disingenuous, as to mistake me for the Church.
I do, however, also work for the Church, hired last year as a relatively short-term employee for a single project. I love the project and am putting my best efforts into it. I think it is the one chance I will have in this life to make any sort of lasting contribution, and I am doing my very best to do what this project requires.
Although I can distinguish between my employment and my private life (including Keepapitchinin, a completely private enterprise), and while I trust that all regular readers can distinguish between me and the Church, it seems that not everyone is capable of making that distinction. I do not understand how anyone who is intellectually capable of turning on a computer and navigating to this website can not recognize the difference between Ardis E. Parshall and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but such people do exist.
So I repeat:
I am an individual; Keepapitchinin is my personal blog; I am not the Church, and do not represent it in any official capacity; all posts and comments by me which appear here are my personal views, my personal understanding, my personal opinions, and should not be mistaken as official views, teachings, opinions, or statements of the Church itself.
And I promise to try not to think of you as an idiot if you confuse the two. I may not succeed, but I’ll try.
The General Board of the Deseret Sunday School Union (David O. McKay, superintendent) answered questions in 1919 on “How to Conduct the Sunday School.” These answers are a leeeetle bit longer than most of those we’ve featured before; they’re worth skimming through, though, to get a feel for Sunday School practices a century ago. Back then, for instance, Sunday School lasted two hours; the minutes of the previous week were read in opening exercises (how exciting that must have been!), and classes reassembled in the Sunday School room at the end of those two hours for “closing exercises.”
Question: when should the Sunday School prayer meeting be held, and what should be the order of exercises? What should be done with the prayer meeting when the Teacher-Training class is held Sunday morning?
Answer: the object of the Teachers’ prayer meeting Sunday morning is to unite the minds and hearts of the teachers, and center their interests, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, upon the teaching of the children entrusted to their care. This exercise should begin promptly at 10:10 Sunday morning, the order of business being:
From the Relief Society Magazine, July 1960 –
In Memory of Miss Ollie
by Pauline L. Jensen
No one ever knew the reasons why Miss Ollie and her parents chose to settle in our small Midwestern town. It was, indeed, a far cry from the Massachusetts coastal village where Miss Ollie’s father had plied his trade as a sea captain. The town seethed with curiosity, and the most popular belief, and one that endured through the years, was that Miss Ollie had been disappointed in love, and that her parents had taken her as far from the scene of sorrow as was possible. Born and bred in the tradition of New England, Miss Ollie kept her counsel, and if she cherished any grief, it stayed within the confines of her heart.
There certainly was nothing to indicate a grieving maiden about Miss Ollie. With her small, erect figure, and dark, sparkling eyes framed in heavy lashes, she was the embodiment of beauty as portrayed by the artists in the years just preceding the twentieth century. Her blue-black hair was pulled severely back from the oval face and fashioned in a bun at the nape of her neck. This only served to accent her patrician features and emphasize the luminous quality in her eyes.
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Seventy years ago yesterday on Totensonntag, November 24, 1943, a Mormon hero of the same caliber as our very finest historical figures in the Church was visiting his family for what would be the last time in his life on a hard-earned furlough from the Wehrmacht, where he served as an Unteroffizier (a “junior officer,” or “corporal”) in Hitler’s war machine.
East German Mission Leadership, 1940, in front of the Mission Home at Händelallee 6 in Berlin Tiergarten near the Victory Column. Front row from left: missionaries Erika Fassmann, Johanna Berger, and Ilse Reimer. Back row from left: first counselor Richard Ranglack, “mission supervisor” Herbert Klopfer, and second counselor Paul Langheinrich. Source: Roger P. Minert, In Harm’s Way: East German Latter-day Saints in World War II (Brigham Young University: Religious Studies Center, 2009), p. 26.
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