Glasnost

June 20, 2007 | 44 comments
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The September Ensign has an article about the Mountain Meadows Massacre (HT: M*).

If you want to know how remarkable this is, simply compare the tone and content of the article with the treatment of the same subject by the current Institute manual, which you can read here. (It begins on p371.) What stood out to me in the CES account is that it leads with the sins of the Fancher Party (they “pilfered from local farmers”) whereas the Ensign article points out that “nothing that any of the emigrants purportedly did or said, even if all of it were true, came close to justifying their deaths.” I think the most suspect move in the Institute manual is to refer to the perpetrators as “whites” or “the men of the Iron County militia” and thereby distance them from the Church. (Contrast the Ensign article: “The plan to attack the emigrant company originated with local Church leaders in Cedar City.” It also mentions that Haight was a stake president.) Given that context, this sentence strikes me as a little deceptive: “John D. Lee, a key participant, but certainly not the only officer responsible for the deed, was the only Latter-day Saint indicted.” (Because it makes it sound as if he were the only LDS involved.)

By contrast, the Ensign article lays it all on the table. It doesn’t shy away even from the meta-issues: “For a century and a half the Mountain Meadows Massacre has shocked and distressed those who have learned of it. The tragedy has deeply grieved the victims’ relatives, burdened the perpetrators’ descendants and Church members generally with sorrow and feelings of collective guilt, unleashed criticism on the Church, and raised painful, difficult questions. How could this have happened? How could members of the Church have participated in such a crime?” It also mentions (which the manual does not) Brigham Young and other leaders’ “fiery rhetoric” as a cause of “exacerbated tensions.” The telling of the tale never flinches, even to the very end, where the surviving little children are adopted into LDS homes until government agents “retrieved them.” (By contrast, the Institute manual kinda sorta implies that the LDS decided to send the children back East.)

Now, I’m certainly no expert on MMM and I welcome correction of what I have written from anyone who can provide it. (Paging Ardis . . .) But what is most noteworthy here to me isn’t the content per se but the tone of these two texts. I think it is fair the conclude that the Institute manual tries to say as little as possible that might be damaging to the reader’s impression of the Church–to the point where they create a false impression of events. But the Ensign article didn’t try to hide anything (“The Mountain Meadows Massacre has continued to cause pain and controversy for 150 years.”)

The June Ensign had two articles (here and here) that touched on how we might respond to challenges to our faith (the first even specifically mentioned questions about DNA and evolution). I suspect that the media scrutiny of the Church launched by Romney’s campaign is the cause of this new openness.

Hey: I just found the only thing to like about Romney.

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44 Responses to Glasnost

  1. Russell Arben Fox on June 20, 2007 at 10:24 am

    I wouldn’t attribute it all to the Romney candidacy; there have been several factors at work in few years, especially in regards to MMM, that have been changing minds in regards to the question of “openness.” (In fact, I rather hopefully suspect that the sort of mildly defensive sermons we heard in the 80s and early 90s in response to the various intellectual challenges of the day–Packer’s “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect,” Nelson’s “The Truth–and More,” Oaks’s “Alternative Voices”–either wouldn’t be given today, or at least would have a decidedly different tone if they were.) Still, you’re no doubt correct that Romney’s high profile is a contributing factor here.

    Thanks for the alert, Julie; I look forward to reading the article in full.

  2. Julie M. Smith on June 20, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Russell, I wouldn’t attribute it all to Romney either. The Ensign article may have happened either way, given the new book on MMM. But I think the placement of the article (online now, even though it is in the Sept. issue) and the notice front-and-center at lds.org about it is the result of the current mediafest.

  3. Matt W. on June 20, 2007 at 10:32 am

    My biggest worry with this article is how it will be graphically displayed in the visually intense Ensign. I think it is a wonderful article, but the typical ensign layout possibilities make me nervous.

    And I would say Romney has less to do with it than our current Church Historian, Marlin K. Jensen. And I wouldn’t say he has so much to do with it as the decision by the presiding authorities to once again have a Church Historian (which as far as I know was vacant from Arrington until Jensen…)

  4. Matt W. on June 20, 2007 at 10:36 am

    Julie (2) I think the article has more to do with September Dawn than Mitt Romney, unless you believe September Dawn is part of a hollywood conspiracy against Romney…

  5. Justin on June 20, 2007 at 11:08 am

    The Millennial Star post on this article is available here.

  6. Julie M. Smith on June 20, 2007 at 11:10 am

    Matt W., with my point about Romney, I was thinking about the constellation of the two June articles and the Sept. article. But you are absolutely right: the MMM article is probably primarily related to the movie.

    I, too, am a little concerned about Ensign graphics. (I posted on that here: http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=2318) We’ll just have to see.

    And good for you for mentioning Elder Jensen. He’s a class act.

  7. Ardis Parshall on June 20, 2007 at 11:33 am

    Thanks for this alert, Julie, and for a nice analysis of the differences between the old CES apology and the newer, franker look at MMM. I think this candid discussion would have come out about now regardless of Romney’s candidacy (although you may be right about its prominent lds.org placement), because for many months, ever since Elder Jensen was called as church historian, the Department of Church and Family History has been discussing ways to better serve the public (or publics). That, and the fact that the three authors have finished their study and are ready to announce their conclusions, would probably have resulted in an article like this regardless of Romney.

    “And good for you for mentioning Elder Jensen. He’s a class act.” Yeah!

  8. Jared on June 20, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Julie – Glad you posted the link to the other posting concerning Ensign graphics.
    I am amazed at how critical and nitpicky some can be about one of the most beautiful features of this magazine. Now I see where you fair on that subject.

  9. bbell on June 20, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    So what is next in the Ensign?

    A clear picture of the drawn out end of polygamy? Including what happened to all the families that kept living the principle into the 50′s AKA SWK in laws?

    Repudiation of Adam God theory?

    Holy cow. Jensen is changing things. Its like we are going thru a reformation right now. Or maybe maturation is a better description.

  10. Mike Parker on June 20, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    bbell #9: So what is next in the Ensign? Repudiation of Adam God theory?

    bbell, that happened 30 years ago:

    “We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the Scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine.”
    –Spencer W. Kimball, “Our Own Liahona,” Ensign (November 1976): 77 (link)

  11. Mike Parker on June 20, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    bbell #9: So what is next in the Ensign? Repudiation of Adam God theory?

    bbell, that happened 30 years ago:

    “We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the Scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine.”
    –Spencer W. Kimball, “Our Own Liahona,” Ensign (November 1976): 77

  12. Julie M. Smith on June 20, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    bbell,

    Can you clarify re Pres. Kimball’s in-laws? I was under the impression that the other wife died much, much earlier than the 1950s, meaning that he wasn’t living polygamously anymore. But I may have my dates wrong.

  13. Mathew on June 20, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    I was struck by the forthright way Oaks addressed questions about MMM in the PBS documentary and now we have this in the Ensign. I suspect there are a lot of reasons for the change in tone but one thing is certain–the church is getting out in front of MMM for the first time in my lifetime and probably ever. It wants to control the narrative and it can’t do that without acknowledging the established facts.

  14. Dave on June 20, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Very nice post, Julie, and plainly there’s been a change of direction, for whatever reason. Of course, glasnost didn’t work out so well for Gorbachev (who lost control of the the whole glasnost/perestroika process) and the Soviet Union (which no longer exists), so I’m not sure if that’s the label we want to hang on this shift. Let’s hope it works out better for Elder Jensen and the Church.

  15. Mathew on June 20, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    Julie,

    Edward Romney’s two wives both died in the 1950′s: Caroline Cottan Romney in 1954 and Emma Romney in 1957. Edward also died in 1957. Caroline was Camilla’s mother.

  16. Mathew on June 20, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Oops, I mean Edward Eyring’s two wives. . .

  17. bbell on June 20, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    http://hometown.aol.com/jazzspurs/pafg71.htm#1595

    Henry Christian Eyring was married to two sisters and he died in 1957

    Caroline Cottam Romney Eyring Died 1954
    Emma Romney Eyring Died 1957

    The polygamous marriage was performed by Ivins in 1903 in the colonies and was one of the last sanctioned post manifesto marriages

    You can read about this situation in the biography of SWK’s wife

    I have a relative who lasted into the 1950′s like this

  18. Julie M. Smith on June 20, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    All,

    Thanks for the clarification. I’ve read Pres. Kimball’s bio, but for some reason I had it my head that one of the wives had died in maybe the 20s.

  19. Rusch on June 20, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    I think that the institute manual represents the view of most in CES. In general they do not like to talk about difficult things and will brush off books and articles as not being faith promoting in order to end a discussion. But I think that things are changing, and that we are discovering that the Arrington approach is winning out. It will be interesting to see what comes out in the future.

  20. Adam Greenwood on June 20, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    Glasnost worked so well for the Soviets. Not the most felicitous metaphor.

  21. Visorstuff on June 20, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    You know, I think the ensign is the best kept secret of the church. Past ensigns also dealt with tough issues such as changes in the book of mormon, adam-god theory, first vision account discrepancies, book of mormon translation discrepancies and even blacks and the priesthood issues. Manuals are meant to be faith-promoting, yet I find the ensign to be much more frank than most give it credit for – and yet not enough people read it to get the deeper dive into what really happened. Too bad it isn’t more widely read.

  22. Bill MacKinnon on June 20, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    Ardis (in #7) has put her finger on it: The “Ensign” article reflects the conclusions of the nearly-completed five-year study by Rick Turley, Glen Leonard, and Ron Walker to be published at some as-yet-undisclosed date by Oxford U. Press. The “Ensign” article could not have been written without what went on — research, argument, debate, polishing — during that long period. Although the juxtaposition of events makes it tempting to think so, This is NOT an article rushed into print because of the appearance of a movie or the advent of a political campaign. In it you are seeing a glimpse of the book-to-come. A key question that historians and other readers will be asking when the book appears (if the book does not itself make the answer clear): For whom do the three authors speak? Themselves alone or the LDS Church? Is this the work of three historians working collaboratively but independently, who just happen to be employees of the church, or is it church-sponsored-endorsed? I have hopes that when the book emerges that this question will have been addressed explicitly.

  23. Lupita on June 20, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Julie, sorry this is off topic but….are future Ensign articles always posted like that? Please excuse my ignorance!

  24. Julie M. Smith on June 20, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    Lupita, maybe someone else knows more than I do, but I can’t say that I’ve ever seen an Ensign article put on the Internet far in advance of its publication. (Maybe a day or two before people out in the sticks receive their Ensigns, but not two months like this.)

  25. Nate W. on June 20, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    Re: 20–
    On the contrary, I think it’s a great comparison. Glasnost topples regimes based on lies, but can only strengthen institutions based on the truth.

  26. Neal Kramer on June 20, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    I haven’t read every message here, so please forgive me if I simply repeat what’s been said before.

    The reason for the posting of the article now is the release of the feature film about MMM on Friday, July 22. The film will be the most profound attack on Mormons in the public media for a long time. If the film is successful, more people will gain their first serious impressions of Mormons from this movie than from any other source. Members will need to be fortified with the facts.

    My students have been e-mailing, trying to find out what MMM was. It is a relief to know the Ensign will be carrying such an important article. The Church History Department has done amazing work on this. Serious research, appropriate understanding of the culpability of the Saints, focusing on Isaac Haight, as Juanita Brooks did so many years ago. The Church is confident about its past and straightforward in dealing with it. One could only wish that the scholars, myself included, were as good.

    It saddens me just a bit when we become so smug about the Church trying to hide its past or playing games with us about the facts. Sometimes it seems to me that some of us believe the first discussion should consist of the second hour of day one in the PBS documentary. Let’s get the polygamy and the murders on the table. Once the shock subsides, then we’ll talk about the First Vision.

    Neal Kramer

  27. Eric Russell on June 20, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    Yes, it does appear too coincidental that this article would come out right when September Dawn was scheduled to come out this Friday. Fortunately, I think we have little to fear from the film. The studio, realizing how bad this movie is (see this Slant review), has postponed the film to late August – the summer movie trash can. I’m betting few see the film and even fewer take it seriously.

  28. Paul Reeve on June 21, 2007 at 12:51 am

    Great post Julie. This is exciting news and I think change over time is a key factor in the discussion. It seems that we’ve come along way in how we tell our story and how we treat those who attempt to tell our story. Brooks was shunned locally and Prince’s bio of McKay says that some members of the hierarchy wanted her exed, but McKay said to “leave her alone.” That was the 1950′s. 57 years later three church employees write about it for a major university press and with church $ funding at least some of the research. Now the Ensign prints an article about it, and a forthright one at that. I see that as significant change over time.

    To be fair to the CES manual, Julie, I think it would be important to note the date of publication and locate it on the telling-the-MMM-story-timeline somewhere. The CES manual would be an important gauge of how we told our story at that time. I suspect that a new edition of the CES manual would include the updated frankness, especially if published after the new MMM book comes out.

    In other words, it seems important to situate the Ensign article and CES manual in time rather than make a direct comparison across time.

    My other thought is, I wonder how MMM plays out to a first generation convert in Africa or the Philipinnes? What risk does the Church take in telling them about something that might have never been on their radar screens in the first place? (I assume the article will appear in the international version of the Ensign?)

  29. Adam Greenwood on June 21, 2007 at 1:05 am

    Glasnost topples regimes based on lies, but can only strengthen institutions based on the truth.

    When was ‘glasnost’ used to strengthen an institution based on the truth? I missed that era in Russian history.

  30. Nate W. on June 21, 2007 at 1:35 am

    Wow… I thought my comment was self-explanatory. My point is that openness is a two-edged sword: it exposes truths and lies. Openness will destroy a system based on bad ideas and perpetuated by covering up the truth, like the Soviet Union. A system based on truth and good ideas, like the Church, can only be strengthened by openness.

  31. Alison Moore Smith on June 21, 2007 at 2:56 am

    Julie, such a great comparison. I’m thrilled to see this kind of thing. I hope it is NOT true, however, that this openness with the past will only be pursued when someone else is about to expose the truth first. I hope we clear up as many past issues as possible.

  32. Not Ophelia on June 21, 2007 at 10:01 am

    When was ‘glasnost’ used to strengthen an institution based on the truth? I missed that era in Russian history.

    Perhaps the example of the Truth and Reconciliation Comission would be a better [and more hopeful] metaphor in this discussion.

  33. MikeInWeHo on June 21, 2007 at 11:05 am

    re: 27 I agree, Eric. That film is gonna bomb big time. No doubt it will fire up the Bloggernacle though. If the producers were smart they’d pull it altogether and do a quick re-edit. Maybe if it turned out Brigham Young were in fact an alien robot…..

    Transformers 2: September Dawn

    Much better. Might make a great video game, too.

  34. Bill MacKinnon on June 21, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    Just a comment to support those observations above about the value of Elder Marlin K. Jensen as Church Historian and Recorder. I do not know any of his predecessors, but I have seen Elder Jensen in action in front of the Mormon History Association, on the recent PBS program, and with selected portions of the Yale faculty and library hierarchy. I have also spent one-on-one time with him.. The LDS Church has chosen wisely in calling him to this assignment. He’s a sterling person of good judgment; if he weren’t in this role he’d have to be invented as the old saying goes. Ditto for Rick Turley and his co-authors, Glen Leonard and Ron Walker, both of whom have just retired. All three authors are people whom I’ve known for decades and for whom I have the highest regard. The book on which they’re finishing their labors will be an important one undertaken voluntarily at some risk to their reputations and with great cost to their personal/professional schedules over a five-year period. . (If you liked Turley’s article for “The Ensign” you’ll love the book.) When it emerges from Oxford U. Press, their book will not be without challenge and controversy within the LDS Church and outside of it, but — having read every word of the manuscript — I can assure you that it (along with several others already published and soon to come) will provide as close to a rounded picture of MMM as we are apt to have pending yet additional discovery of primary source materials. When the book comes out, read it. Also read Juanita Brooks’ “Mountain Meadows Massacre,” Will Bagley’s “Blood of the Prophets,” and the forthcoming Bagley/Dave Bigler documentary history bearing the working title “Innocent Blood,” which I have also read in ms. form. From all of these studies, you should have what you need to understand the history of MMM — not a pretty picture but an essential one, the telling/contemplation of which has redemptive value, among other things.

  35. Giasen on June 21, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    I’m still waiting for the ‘September Dawn’ prequel, ‘October Extermination’.

  36. k l h on June 21, 2007 at 5:45 pm
  37. Bill MacKinnon on June 21, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    k l h,
    Re your #36, I have not read Shannon A. Novak’s “House of Mourning,” but based on the link in your message and the University of Utah Press’ promotional material, she has apparently tried to move beyond the issue of who did what to whom and why in MMM and to focus instead on the victims using a combination of forensic anthropology and historical context. How well she does this with what conclusions I don’t know.
    I don’t know Novak well at all, having just had dinner with her once in a small group setting about six years ago. She took her Ph.D. from U. of U. in 1999 and is now an assistant professor of anthropology at the Maxwell School of Syracuse U. She first received substantial public attention in 1999 in connection with the accidental dislodgement of victims’ bones at MM during the preparatory construction and grading work being done around the refurbished cairn which was to have been dedicated by President Hinckley on September 11, 1999, the anniversary of the tragedy. As you may recall there was a bit of a tussle between the law enforcement, anthro., and historical communities in Utah over the appropriate examination of these remains and over what time period with what impact on the re-dedication timetable. As I recall, Novak was deeply involved in the rapid examination of the bones until the governor decreed almost on the eve of the re-dedication that the forensic work was to cease and the remains promptly re-buried with an appropriate commital service. Novak then wrote an article with Derinna Kopp titled “To Feed a Tree in Zion”: Osteological Analysis of the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre,” published in “Historical Archaeology” 37, no. 2 (2003): 85-108. In the fall of 2004 at its annual meeting, the Utah State Historical Society awarded this piece its Best Utah History Article Award for the best article on Utah history not published in “UHQ.” This whole issue of what the remains showed and what might have happened if a longer, more thorough examination had been permitted was very controversial because a forensic anthropologist could determine what weapons were used on the victims (shedding direct light on the role of Paiutes versus Nauvoo Legionnaires), whether victims were shot at point-blank range or otherwise, the age of victims, and even the extent of damage done by carnivors after the hasty burials. Arkansas descendants of victims also raised the matter of whether or not identification of individual victims would have been possible using DNA technology.
    Notwithstanding a lot of work on MMM, this is not Shannon Novak’s life’s work. She’s done a lot of field work in Central America and is part of a group that is going to “reopen” the fate of the Donner Party. She’s a competent, highly experienced professional, and I’d be surprised if “House of Mourning” were something other than an interesting, credible piece of wotk. Her c.v. is on the internet, and it includes a very interesting explanation of what she does and how. It can be accessed by Googling “To feed a Tree in Zion” and then clicking on the third link (“Shannon A”).
    If you read the book, I’d be interested in your reaction and recommendation. Any T&Ser read it already?

  38. WillF on June 21, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    Maybe someone else has pointed this out (I didn’t see it when skimming the comments), but the article is features on the front page of lds.org. (Ok, so there isn’t a front page of a website, but in this case the newspaper metaphor seems apropo):

    http://lds.org

    “The Mountain Meadows Massacre
    September 11 marks the anniversary of the 1857 massacre of some 120 California-bound emigrants in southern Utah. An article by Richard E. Turley Jr., the managing director for the Family and Church History Department, will be printed in the September 2007 Ensign magazine, but you can read it online now. “

  39. jjohnsen on June 22, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    “Yes, it does appear too coincidental that this article would come out right when September Dawn was scheduled to come out this Friday. Fortunately, I think we have little to fear from the film. The studio, realizing how bad this movie is (see this Slant review), has postponed the film to late August – the summer movie trash can. I’m betting few see the film and even fewer take it seriously.”

    And this is after being moved from the original date in May. Based on the movement, a very poor trailer, no apparent marketing budget and negative early reviews, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the studio cut it’s losses and send it direct-to-DVD.

    Slant calls it “the year’s first honest-to-goodness exploitation flick”.

  40. CRAIG CLAYTON on June 22, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Re the reason for the new openness: I suspect Michael Ottersen. A PR professional with enough prestige or assertiveness to pursuade the Brethren to do what would naturally seem counter-productive to them. The UK background means he views issues and the authorities differently than the typical church employee.

  41. Bill MacKinnon on June 22, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Craig Clayton,
    I wouldn’t pretend to know the inner workings of the LDS Church and so have no basis to challenge your thought about the impact of Michael Ottersen. However, if by “the new openness,” you mean the Rick Turley “Ensign” article on MMM I’d suggest that while PR counsel may have played a role in helping to decide when and how to release it unearthing of the substantive “stuff” of the article and its writing are the result of a collaborative effort over a more than five-year period involving historians and archivists –dozens of them — who have vacuumed perhaps fifty or more manuscript collections for the three co-authors. (Librarians in Connecticut, North Carolina, and Iowa have commented to me about “my colleagues from Salt Lake City” when I’ve asked about certain manuscript collections.) Speculation by outsiders as to the financial resources required to sustain this effort run well into the six-figure ballpark. How would such an effort have been sanctioned and taken place? Brigham Young used to describe himself as “a Yankee guesser” before speculating on some subject. If I had to guess, I’d say that whatever the approach to MMM turns out to be with the unfolding of events over the next year, that a combination of President Hinckley, Elder Jensen, and Managing Director Turley will be among the prime movers vis a vis the substance involved — hopefully with sage advice from the PR professional(s). My impression is that President Hinckley is pretty adept in this arena on his own.

  42. Jacqueline de Gaston on July 2, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    I really appreciate the increased openness and hope it carries over into other topics also.

  43. Kathryn on July 4, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    Bill – You beat me to the punch-line on this one, in that I agree with most of what you have to say as far as the A-Team goes and who the major players are in making decisions in regards to how and when to diseminate details in relation to the more controversial topics of the History of The Church.

    Craig also has my vote with Otterson, as I have spent the last 6 months over at On Faith. If anyone wants to know what the battlefield is really like out there, just stick around that blog for a while and see how are able to withstand the constant barage. Full armor required at all times, but a great opportunity to learn a lot from others as well to be challenged in your own spiritual thinking skills.

    I have spent the last couple of years teaching Seminary and this last year also adult Institute. Our curriculum last year was Doctrine and Covenants/Church History. Of course this caused me to be quite perked up to all that has been going on inside and outside of the church over that past year, as it has been most unusual, beyond the normal negative attention the church is accustomed to receiving.

    One of the great blessings of being involved with the CES program of the church is that it causes one to immerse themselves into the doctrines and history of the scriptures, hence I was consumed with the history of the Church. What caught my attention was the FACT that over that past decade (approx) Gordon B. Hinckley has systematically made certain that each and every one of the sites, memorials, monuments, buildings, etc… He has built temples, refurbished the old and made anew AND built NEW structures to go forward. All of these things have RAISED attention, commemorated and brought forth ANEW the HISTORY OF THIS CHURCH and now… the TIME HAS COME to move this kingdom forward, BUT WE AS MEMBERS MUST STAND UP and be COUNTED.

    We stand on the \”shoulders of giants\” who have gone before us. Has anyone read the wonderful feature article over at ldsliving.com? I would submit it to all! Whether Mitt Romney wins this election or not, all those who are called on the Stake level or who work at the Church Headquarters have been preparing for what is now happening and what will come in exposing us as a people to the world.

    I see this as a great opportunity to prepare us as a people to ALL STAND and be COUNTED. But I credit the watchman on the Tower, the Prophet, Seer and Revelator, who has known his mission and moved confidently forward with the same faith of those before him. I love Gordon B. Hinckley, and it has been a privilege to see the hand of the Almighty move through His living prophet.
    Kathryn

  44. Dee H. on July 13, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    The article is likely appearing because:
    1) This year is the anniversary of the MMM. Note that the past few years have coincided with an extremely important time in the Church—handcarts, Utah War, MMM, etc. This has garnered attention from media, historians, TV, and so forth.
    2) “Pre-sponse” to the ridiculous movie.
    3) The groundbreaking work mentioned in comment #22.

    But I feel most impressed to say that I AGREE with #21! The Ensign is one of the great blessings we have as Latter-day Saints. I have read comments in this and other blogs that disparage it or that are surprised at what the writers consider amazing “departures”.

    Those who don’t read the Ensign (or read it haphazardly) miss out on much. Who has read Elder Oaks talk on “Timing” (Ensign, October 2003) and the personal as well as general implications on eternal marriage therein? Who has read President Hinckley’s astounding article on the “Quorum of the First Presidency” (Ensign, December, 2005) where President Hinckley contemplates the power of the Seventy in the event that the First Presidency and Twelve were “destroyed”. The former article is a reaffirmation of longstanding doctrine and the latter article is a truly important contribution on Church government and yet it has been rarely noticed or discussed.

    Lastly, I admire Elder Jensen much (and for a variety of reasons). But have we forgotten that he was called by a Prophet of God? Perhaps half of our surprise is born of ignorance of the amazing things said all of the time in the Ensign and elsewhere and the other half is that we are trying to see divine changes through a culture/personal/political context when in fact, they are simply divine.