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March, 17, 2016

Humble Enough to Know: A Pattern of Revelation

Joseph Smith statue

By Brady Misustin

Since the start of my time working at the gallery, this statue has been one of my favorite pieces that we have on display. It is a small, simple statue that normally wouldn’t demand too much attention from most visitors, but to me it has spoken wonders. This statue to me demonstrates the humility of one who was called to be a prophet of God. His facial expression is solemn and reverent. His body position indicates a recognition of the insignificance of mankind compared to Deity. Even the color of the statue is deep and earthy, rather than shiny or metallic, which humbly sets an example rather than demonstrating status or demanding praise. This description embodies the essence of Joseph Smith. He was a prophet of God. He was God’s student during this dispensation. What does that mean for us?

We all are learning while on this earth, reaching to attain things that we currently cannot. Striving to obtain knowledge and live our lives to the best of our ability. Many of us already recognize that to do such a thing requires divine guidance. Joseph was an example through his life of how to receive the inspiration necessary to become the person that our Father wants us to become. Through his own study, experience, and revelation he was guided to do that which was best for himself and best for the Church.

This example has meant a lot for me personally. I am striving to become all that I can. I want to reach my own potential. This requires the humility that is demonstrated in this statue. It requires searching for answers on my own, drawing on my past experiences, and relying on the inspiration that God has promised to give us. While contemplating these things in my own life, I have felt a desire and calm sense of assurance that I can make it, that I can reach my full potential, and that He is always there to help me along the way.

 

 

 

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March, 17, 2016

The Ancient Wisdom of Aristotle

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By Chandler Kendall

            As you walk through the Education in Zion Gallery there are many inspiring and profound lessons to be learned from great leaders of the latter days. Familiar names such as Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Karl G. Maeser, and James E. Talmage fill the many displays with their perspectives on the importance and value of education. All are incredible and dedicated members of the Church and disciples of Jesus Christ. However, toward the end of the exhibit there is a board of quotes from famous people that apply to the four aims of a BYU education (spiritually strengthening, character building, intellectually enlarging, and lifelong learning and service). Under the category of lifelong learning and service there is a quote by a man who is not a member of the church, and whose life predates that of the Jesus. Aristotle gives us a great statement of truth that helps us understand the importance of education in every aspect of our lives by stating, “Education is an ornament in prosperity, a refuge in adversity, and a provision in old age.” To better understand this quote we need to understand who Aristotle was.

Many of us have heard his name before, but we don’t always grasp how important Aristotle’s life continues to impact us today. In addition to being an incredible philosopher he also studied physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theater, music, rhetoric, linguistics, politics and government. He was a student of Plato, one of the greatest minds in philosophical history. He also was the teacher of Alexander the Great, a man who had conquered half of the known world by the age of thirty-three. Aristotle had more experience and intelligence than almost everyone in his day, and so when he makes a statement regarding education we can trust that he knows what he is talking about.

Aristotle makes the point that no matter what stage of life we are in, gaining education and seeking after learning is worthy of our time and effort. If things are going well for us, education can enable life to be even more enjoyable, rather than squandering our days of ease in idleness. In times of adversity and trial, education helps us deal with the challenges we face and gives us perspectives that allow us to tackle these problems with wisdom. In old age when many of the abilities we have obtained start to fade away, education continues to provide purpose for our life in seeking the never-ending quest for greater knowledge and application of that knowledge. Aristotle’s logic is sound, and when tempted to avoid the efforts of education or complain about the exertions of learning we should remember that learning is a principle that will greatly enhance any situation or walk of life that we may be in.

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March, 10, 2016

Don’t Be a Quitter

brimhall

by Anna Hawkes

As BYU President (1904–21), George H. Brimhall was famous for his soul-searing dissertations. Ezra Taft Benson said of them, “’No man has so inspired me with so few words as has President Brimhall in his famous four-minute assembly talks.’” Brimhall was so intense and dramatic in his performance that he could move the students to the most tender of feelings, or to the most horrific guilt. In one talk, Brimhall told of a stolen watch that made him so upset he delivered an especially scathing address. He said that if the thief had even the tiniest bit of a conscience, every tick of the clock would be a reminder of his deed: “’Thief, thief; thief, thief; thief, thief.’” He suggested that the thief may want to return the watch. According to J. Edward Johnson’s telling of the story, the next morning when he arrived at his office, he found not just one, but a number of watches on his desk.

One such “sermonette” carries the title, “Don’t Be a Quitter.” I have never read a more compact, intense, no-nonsense address. From this speech, I would like to focus on two points Brimhall makes. The first is his definition of a quitter. I always thought of a quitter as someone who simply stops doing something they had done before, but Brimhall asserts that a quitter is someone “who leaves a good thing (because it is hard) for a position in which he can get along with less effort and is content with less results.” Brimhall is saying that a quitter is someone who is lazy; who isn’t willing to put in effort for a good thing. I feel like this tendency is something that is in all of us. I have felt its pull over and over again. It can be discouraging and difficult to overcome—sometimes so much so that it seems impossible. I am grateful that Brimhall addresses this problem. To overcome the temptation to be a quitter, Brimhall says, one must acknowledge where he is lacking and then decide that “with the help of heaven, he will strengthen that part of his nature.” It is with God’s help that we can be fully successful sons and daughters. He has provided us with all the resources we need to overcome difficulties. Take the high road and stick with good, though hard, things. As Brimhall said, “Don’t be a quitter!”

 

 

http://president.byu.edu/p/brimhall

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March, 10, 2016

Faith in the Lord’s Promises

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By Annilyn Spjut

In honor of Black History Month, which took place during the month of February, the gallery has a temporary exhibit in the 2nd floor study alcove highlighting a few inspiring stories of black members from across the globe. One of my favorites is the story of the Martins family.

Stuck in traffic in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Helvécio Martins prayed asking for spiritual guidance for his family. His prayer was answered several nights later when the missionaries knocked on his door. Helvécio and his wife, Ruda, were baptized in July 1972 despite the priesthood ban.

A year later they received their patriarchal blessings. They were promised that they would receive the blessings of the temple and their son was told he would serve a full-time mission. Neither they nor the patriarch knew how either of these blessing could be possible then, but the patriarch assured him that he had been prompted to say those words. The Martins family decided to go forward with faith and opened a mission savings account for their son.

Soon after, a temple was announced in São Paulo. Helvécio Martins was asked to help coordinate public relations for the new temple despite the fact he would not be able to enter the building once it was dedicated. He accepted the calling and worked tirelessly to promote the temple. Then, just a few months before the temple’s dedication, the landmark announcement came that “All worthy men could receive the priesthood.” President Kimball recorded seeing Helvécio and Ruda at the dedication, “I don’t know when I have ever been as touched as I was to see that man and his wife in the congregation when we were dedicating the São Paulo Temple, and to see them wipe their eyes all through the session. They were so thrilled to be permitted to have the blessings.”[1]

The lifting of the ban was life-changing for the Martins’s son Marcus as well. When the announcement came, he was engaged to be married. All the wedding invitations had already been sent, but he and his fiancée decided to postpone the wedding, so he could serve a mission. He was the first black missionary to be called, and he served in the Porto Alegre Mission. In 1990, Helvécio Martins was called as the first Black General Authority.[2]

The faith of the Martins family is both humbling and moving. May we all aspire to that level of faith and humility in our own lives.

[1] Milton V. Backman and Richard O. Cowan, “Revelation Continues,” Joseph Smith and the Doctrine and Covenants (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1992) 148–50.

[2] “Elder Helvécio Martins Of the Seventy,” Ensign May 1990: Lds.org. Web. 4 Jan. 2016.; Edward L. Kimball, “Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood.” BYU Studies vol. 47 No. 2 (2008): 4–78. BYU Studies.

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March, 4, 2016

Worthy Offerings Unto the Lord

slc temple

By Victoria Crockett

     Victor Hugo once said, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” Singing has played exactly this role in my life. When I sing, it’s like I’m pouring out my soul through song. Performing has always been an important part of my life. However, once I came to college, I decided to set aside my silly dreams and pursue something more “worth-while” and “realistic.” After a few months I recognized a hole that hadn’t been there before. I knew it was because I missed the music that made my life so colorful and animated.

In the Education in Zion Gallery there is an intense focus on the education of the whole soul. One part of the gallery centers on the early Saints once they reached the Great Basin. Although they began with nothing, they soon expanded their system of education for the children. Brigham Young even encouraged the adults to continue improving upon their intellect and talents. Young recognized the value of gifted musicians, actors, artists, and authors. When these people devoted their talents to the kingdom, the cultural life of the community blossomed. During the construction of the Salt Lake City temple, Young realized that they would need studied artists so the temple murals would be worthy offerings to the Lord. The Churchdecided to send several promising painters to study in Paris. Once they returned, they applied their knowledge to beautify the Lord’s house. Little did they know that their talents would become an unforgettable and lovely blessing to millions of Saints.

This story touched my heart. I reflected upon the simple, eternal truth of talents. The Lord has bestowed upon each of us certain gifts, not only to bring us joy, but to bless and build up His kingdom. I felt silly thinking that pursuing my love of music was set aside so quickly. I decided to warm up my vocal chords and start participating more in ward choir, volunteering to lead music, and joining simple choruses on campus. I’ve seen more color come back into my life. I have found myself drawing closer to my Heavenly Father as I take the time to use what He has blessed me with to bless His children. I hope we can all appreciate the value of our talents and bless those around us with the gifts the Lord has given us.

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February, 26, 2016

To Cherish the Unseen

school children in front of early building

By Reggie Voyce

The spirit of Education in Zion is one of eternal reflection. The stories of saints long gone and yet ever-present by their works of dedication are a source of reflection. Their faces— whether solemn, smiling, or firmly determined— tell their stories.

What did it matter that there was no paper, pens, pencils, maps or other necessities of teaching? Their ingenuity provided the basics to learn. Quill pens were created from chicken feathers, ink from crushed bearberries, pencils were the charcoal ends of blackened sticks pulled from the fire to cool before being used to write. And what did they write on? They wrote on their hands and arms and old rags until President Brigham Young brought the first paper mill to Salt Lake Valley in 1857. They had not wasted those first precious 10 years in the valley. They had built farms and businesses and were laboring on temples to the Most High and they built schools.

Their mission statement, “Man cannot be saved in ignorance” (D&C 131:6), rang in and through their very beings. They labored to learn the gospel through diligent scripture study and the building of temples to learn all the doctrines and ordinances of the gospel- the education of the soul. They labored on schools to learn and, “bec[ame] acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people” (D&C 90:15), the education of the secular mind.

To stroll through the gallery is to feel their unseen and yet ever zealous energies to be an educated people. This spirit implores us to waste no time on worldly pursuits of no eternal value, but to cherish that which is unseen, our accomplishments yet to be realized in our pursuit to be, “taught from on high” (D&C 43:16).

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February, 26, 2016

Father Maeser

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By Sebastian Romero

Karl G. Maeser was the first president of Brigham Young University. Many people today remember him for his strong commitment to honor and integrity. He once said,

“I have been asked what I mean by ‘word of honor.’ I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls–walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground–there is a possibility that in some way or another I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I’d die first!”

Brother Maeser did not develop a strong character all by himself. He was merely mirroring the people around him. One of those people was his father, Johann Gottfried Maeser. Johann, a porcelain painter-artisan who worked at a nearby plant, was known by his family as a hardworking man and a talented painter. Many loved ones even speculated that he could have had a promising future had he not “painted for bread so soon.” This being said, with a family of six, Johann worked hard to give his kids the best schooling possible. But with the low-paying job of a painter, resources were limited. With nothing but a bible and an almanac, Karl and his brothers learned to read and write, and at the young age of eleven Karl left home to attend school in the Saxon capital of Dresden. To send a son away to such a school was financially burdensome for the Maeser family, yet Johann and his family would endure. (Even though his family never joined the LDS Church, Brother Maeser always referred to his father with love and respect.) Without Johann Gottfried’s sacrifice Karl G. Maeser might not have had the platform to help establish Brigham Young Academy.

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February, 18, 2016

Black Church History Saints: Exemplars of Sacrifice and Faith

Early Church Saints Black
By Jessica Reschke

One of my favorite parts about being a Gallery Educator is being able to help run and organize the Family Home Evening programs. This month I have especially enjoyed participating with our Black Church History FHE programs. I have been able to learn more about the stories of early African- American Saints and pioneers, the sacrifices that they made, the trials that they faced, and the important impacts they had in the work of the Lord. From hearing the stories of some of these Saints, including Jane Manning James, Samuel Chambers, and Green Flake, I was deeply touched by their faith in the Savior, and their dedication to the gospel, despite some of the burdens that they faced, such as slavery. Although they might not have been considered equals in the sight of all men at the time, they knew that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ loved them equally. Fortunately in today’s society we have progressed in treating others with equality, but there is always more room for loving others. The messages of these stories made me want to strive to be more loving to all of my brothers and sisters and to help them to recognize that they are each all children of God.

Furthermore, the examples of these Saints made me realize more how important it is to truly be converted to the Lord. These African- American Saints encountered several trials that could have prevented them from joining or being active in the Church. Instead, they loved the Lord so much and had a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel that they were willing to make great sacrifices. For example, after Samuel Chambers was baptized he was not able to travel to Nauvoo from the South to join other members because he was a slave and still considered property. Even though at this time Samuel was not surrounded by other members of the Church to help him grow in the gospel, he was individually able to build his own testimony. Once he was freed as a slave, he worked for several more years to save up money, and was eventually able to make a trek with his family to Utah to join the Saints [1]. I have been fortunate to grow up in a family with the gospel and to be surrounded by strong Church leaders, so Samuel Chambers is a great example to me of having great individual faith relying on personal testimony.

As February is Black History Month, I am grateful that in the gallery we are able to recognize several of the exemplary Black members from Church history, and learn from their examples of love, sacrifice, faith, and testimony.

[1] “Saints without the Priesthood: The Collected Testimonies of Ex-Slave Samuel D. Chambers.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 12. 1979. Print.
[2] Samuel and Amanda Chambers. n.d. blacklds.org, Web. 03 Feb. 2016.

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February, 18, 2016

I Would Not Be Forgotten

Eliza R. Snow painting

By Miranda Dennett

Eliza R. Snow was a feminine woman with an eye for fashion—someone that no one would expect to become one of the greatest female leaders in the Church. Eliza valued education, and wrote in poetic verse, as was common for women of her era. She ran in illustrious circles, brushing shoulders with Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, Abraham Lincoln, and even the Queen of England. Eliza was also an advocate of women’s rights. In front of a crowd of 6,000 on January 13, 1870, she delivered an empowering speech, arguing that “[women] not only speak because we have the right, but justice and humanity demands that we should!” [1] Less than a month later, the Utah territorial legislature passed a bill granting suffrage to women. Her words rung with her intelligence and spirit, and affected countless people within and outside the Church.

In a letter to a friend, Eliza eloquently stated, “Change is the key word to this dispensation. The righteous, like gold, must be seven times purified.” [1] Eliza Snow was definitely purified time and time again in order to become the brilliant leader the Lord intended her to be. Soon after Joseph Smith was martyred, Eliza was one of the first people to leave Nauvoo, making it her third treacherous trip from home for the sake of her religion. She saw much death and affliction; but gave aid to all she met along the way, and even wrote poems to console the Saints. Her labors took a toll on her, and Eliza faced many health problems while living in poor conditions. Still, the light and humor Eliza was known for lived on, and her extraordinary strength helped her serve as the second Relief Society President for 21 years.

It seems impossible that a woman who had to go through as much as Eliza Snow did would have had such a profound influence on the world. She was an exemplary example of maintaining strength and nourishing one’s education and talents in the face of adversity. She served through words and deeds, which have influenced many. The final lines she wrote in her own epitaph echo the strength and spirit that she had and remind us that we too can leave a lasting legacy on this earth through the education we cultivate and share with others.

“I feel the low responses roll,
Like the far echo of the night,
And whisper, softly through my soul,
‘I would not be forgotten quite.’”
-Eliza R. Snow, Epitaph (1887) [1]
[1] https://www.lds.org/ensign/1973/09/eliza-r-snow-first-lady-of-the-pioneers?lang=eng

Picture: https://www.lds.org/relief-society/daughters-in-my-kingdom/manual/a-wide-and-extensive-sphere-of-action?lang=eng

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February, 3, 2016

Seek Study Through Repentance

By Chandler Kendall

Enos

As a student I often feel at the mercy of the teacher to receive the knowledge and intelligence that I’m seeking to find when I go to class.  Whether this is sitting in on a lecture or even listening to a talk in church, I have the attitude that it is the role of the presenter to entertain and engage me enough to make the content interesting.  However,, as I was watching a video while giving a tour,, it dawned on me that this is not how it has to be.  In one of the gallery’s video stations, there’s a clip of Professor, Gaye Strathearn, talking about the role of a teacher and a student in the learning process.  She describes how a teacher has to go through the process of creating lesson plans with the Spirit, considering deeply how they are going to present the information.  Simply put, if you don’t have the Spirit you cannot teach—basic LDS doctrine .

But then she talks about the student coming to learn, having put in as much effort to have the Spirit as the teacher, being prepared to engage their minds, and coming with a repentant attitude.  It struck me that she would suggest that it was the student’s responsibility to be prepared to get what the Spirit has for them to get out of class. It is the student’s responsibility to come feeling repentant.  It made me consider what repentance has to do with my education and how it would help me gain more out of the experience I have in my classes.  Lucky for me, as part of my major I study Greek, so I looked at the Greek word for repentance, which is metanoia, and learned that it means “a change after thought.”  In other words, after thinking and pondering, our thoughts and minds should change in accordance with God’s: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)  So I figured that, no matter what class I’m in, I can actively seek things that will help me better understand the mind of God and use that to change how I view the world as a natural man.  Or in other words, as I come to class with a repentant attitude I will be able to obtain intelligence that will draw me closer to Jesus Christ regardless of the skill and charisma of the teacher.  I think for all of us it would be wise to take time after our classes to ponder upon the things we have learned and use the Spirit to discern those things that will better enable us to obtain the mind of Christ.  As we do so we will see Jesus more in the world around us and we will better keep our covenant to always remember Him and to take His name upon us.

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