When I was young teenager I read a lot of military science fiction, including Jerry Pournelle’s popular There Will Be War anthologies. Good times, those. Saving up money from my (largely unprofitable) paper route, then the long, slow bike rides to the used book store.
The anthologies included essays, often by Mr. Pournelle himself. I can’t remember why but in one essay he mentioned the most violent of the verses of the Star-Spangled Banner, the one that talks about blood wiping out foul footsteps’ pollution, and pointed out that it was largely unknown, being found only in the military academies and in the Mormon hymnbook (this is no longer the case). Aside, he observed that the Mormons were one of the few groups to have defeated the U.S. Army, in the Utah War. He then moved on, leaving me in a mood of chest-thumping exaltation that lasted for a few days. I was pretty high, yep.
But I’d known about the Utah War before then–I’d even been high about it before then–so I was surprised when I discovered one of my cobloggers hadn’t heard in Church about “the Mormon raiders who torched grazing land, scattered their cattle, blocked routes, burned baggage trains, and otherwise impeded the progress of the federal army as they marched toward Utah territory.” In my gut I always assume that what I’ve known for awhile everybody knows.
I commented that “may be because of the sociology of the wards youâ€™ve been in. In the rural fringes of Deseret where Iâ€™ve spent most of my life, folks are proud that we made Uncle Sam blink without killing folks.” A fun little private discussion among us cobloggers ensued. We’re trying to be good about commenting on the blog instead of talking privately, though, so my cobloggers told me to put up a post.
Here are the different directions the conversation was going:
(1) whether this episode shows the Church and its history can seem different depending on where you grow up (or where you join the church), and whether this is lamentable or not
(2) whether this episode shows that correlation can have the effect of suppressing information that isn’t highly speculative or faith-threatening
(3) whether the Utah War was, in fact, something to be proud of.
Feel free to comment on any of these points or to make your own observation.