The founding of Brigham Young University was a long process. Although the official date is considered 1875, it wasn’t a full university and accredited until after the turn of the century. It started out as an LDS high school before receiving the designation as a higher education academy. A few years in and a fire destroyed the original main building. Presidents of the school came and went as some wanted to improve their professional opportunities. Benjamin Cluff Jr. was the president possibly most responsible for BYU becoming the university it is today, splitting the high school from the college students and implementing updated college curriculum. During his time the LDS Church formally took over the institution and it became a full university in name and purpose. Later presidents of the university would build on these changes and continue expanding its place in higher education.
Not only was the process for BYU long, but it had early controversies. When university President Benjamin Cluff Jr. introduced athletics to the school, they were rejected by those who made final decisions and cancelled. Some who were concerned about making it a university instead of remain an academy, including Elder Anthon H. Lund, didn’t think it would be successful. A huge argument about allowing the teaching of evolution ended with, at least for a time, a rejection of the subject in the school. Concerns were expressed that land bought from Provo for the school would be used for other purposes. It wasn’t until the 1920s that any accreditation organizations recognized it as an acceptable university. From almost the start the academic and spiritual mission of the school seemed to be at odds, or seriously questioned.
At a founding day event on October 16, 1891, the presiding BYU President Karl G. Maeser said about the reason the school existed and its mission:
A glance over the conditions of mankind in this our day with its misery, discontent, and corruption, and disintegration of the social, religious, and philosophic fabrics, shows that this generation has been put into the balance and has been found wanting. A following, therefore, in the old grooves, would simply lead to the same results, and that is what the Lord has designed shall be avoided in Zion. President Brigham Young felt it in his heart that an educational system ought to be inaugurated in Zion in which, as he put it in his terse way of saying things, neither the alphabet nor the multiplication table should be taught without the Spirit of God.
More than ever the dual purpose of education and spiritual development at BYU has become challenged. Those who should be the stewards have largely become offenders. It would be preferable if the spiritual side of an LDS owned university overshadowed the academic, but that isn’t the case. Too much of the world has overtaken to the point that the spiritual is often ignored and even mocked. The secular false gospel of “woke” has displaced the saving truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unless changes are quickly made, BYU will become fully nothing more than just another secular educational institution hostile to its original religious purpose.
“Gone are the days when a student asked an honest question and the teacher responded, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ Gone are the days when a student raised a sincere concern and a teacher bore his or her testimony as a response intended to avoid the issue.”
What I hope to do in this post is list a few resources that a seminary/institute (or even a really dedicated Sunday School teacher) could read to help them get the knowledge to either give good answers to these questions or to know where to look and find the answers. Continue reading →
I was really disappointed by a recent article on Mormon Mentality entitled “The Missionary Work I Didn’t Do.” The author details speaking to a neighbor who expressly told her that she was dissatisfied with her Church. Because she feels that the Church is sexist, she concluded that it would have nothing to offer her neighbor and failed to invite the missionaries or pass along a Book of Mormon.
The think this, unfortunately, completely misses the point of missionary work. We do not simply offer a social club, moving services, or opportunities for fellowship. There are lots of great places one can go to get all of those things. Instead, we offer individuals something that they can get nowhere else. We offer ordinances necessary for salvation and exaltation performed with proper priesthood authority. There is no greater blessing that we can offer our friends and neighbors.
Having finished partaking of bread and water in memory of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, a young man walks up to the podium. He pulls out notes copied by printer from information found on the LDS Church website. Nervously he clears his throat and prepares to face a group of people familiar to him, but often no more than acquaintances. He puts on a smile to cover true feelings of discomfort.
“Hello.” he starts. “The Bishop wants me to talk about happiness. I first learned of the assignment Saturday morning soon after getting out of bed. The phone rang and woke me up. I climbed out of bed and started dressing when my mom called out that I had a call. ‘who is it?’ I begged. It seemed too early for it to be my girlfriend who was probably just getting up. ‘You’ll find out. Just pick up the phone.’ I wish I hadn’t,” the young man says, turning to the far older man sitting between two other men. “You caught me at the only time to reach me.” He turns back to the audience, “The minute I said hello and the Bishop said hello back, I knew what this meant. I’ll get back at the Bishop,” he chuckles in good nature. No one takes him seriously. That is part of the problem.
He clears his throat to start the rest of the talk. For a moment he looks out among the bored adults, screaming babies, inattentive busy children, and self-absorbed teenagers. It seems the only ones paying attention are his parents; siblings not caring. “I am going to base my talk on Elder _________ of the Seventy who gave this excellent talk about what Christ did for us.” The young man proceeds to read paragraph after paragraph, interjecting a few short comments of his own. By the time he ends most in the meeting are taking a cat nap or reading the latest Church magazine or scriptures on mobile devices. He sits down and the next speaker gets up to more or less repeat the process.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Although the example was from a young man, adults often follow this same pattern. Part of it is a general nervous reaction to getting up in front of a group to communicate. The American culture is extremely individualistic with only the most extroverted getting noticed. Exhibitionism is the norm for public presentations and lectures set aside for teachers. No matter. There are some suggestions anyone can follow to give a better Sacrament meeting talk that is engaging and less uncomfortable. Most who read this probably already know these tips, but hopefully it can be shared. Do in our own talks what 1 Timothy 4: 12 says, “but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Continue reading →
. . . of a Mormon Mission. Many pundits wonder what Romney can do next. They say his political fortunes are over, as he isn’t a powerful force in the Senate like Kerry or McCain. He doesn’t have a faithful ideological following like Huckabee. For a weakened GOP, unless you count the continued success of the other House, they hardly want to be reminded of the lost opportunity for expanded power by giving him a political position. To be honest, he was always a political outsider even when accused of belonging to the ruling party elite. Those who have studiously followed his rise know he built what he did out of whole cloth. Conservatives never completely supported him and the only office he held was Governor in a Democratic state (Chris Christie is similar, but he lost all chances of going anywhere with his support of Obama during Sandy). He never had any solid backings in the Party other than his own will and inertia. Unless there is a surprise in the wings, he has nowhere in politics to go.
The other possibility floating around is he will go back into business. Sounds logical at first, but his current history says otherwise. He hasn’t seen the inside of a corporate boardroom outside of a friendly visit since taking over the Salt Lake Olympics. He has enough money and to spare to last the lifetime of his whole family put together. Since he isn’t the greedy Gordon Gekko that the media and others have painted him, he is old enough to retire from making more money. On the other hand, if he does do anything of his own volition this will most likely be the course taken. He is known to have saved big risky businesses. Perhaps he could take on advocating small upstarts. Just because he lost the U.S. Presidency doesn’t mean he can’t do some good as a private citizen.
Yet, he could have greater things in store for him than Earthly positions and jobs. Even Mormon commentators in the traditional media didn’t talk about religious opportunities. With the expected increase in missionaries there is going to be the need for leaders. He and his wife seem very qualified for the position of Mormon Mission President. Where? Only the Lord and his servants know, if they decide this at all. Utah, however, should be on the top of the list. Continue reading →