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November, 4, 2013

Karl G. Maeser: A Character Technician

 

Maeser_3

Brigham Young Academy was presided over by a German educator named Karl G. Maeser, who was called to serve as the academy’s first principal by President Brigham Young in 1875. Brother Maeser was very disciplined, and many of his students called him “a harsh teacher” (2), which made other students reluctant to enroll in the academy.

However, these students immediately learned to love Brother Maeser. This was because of his faith and his work at providing “a complete education” (2) for his students. He went to great lengths to educate his pupils “morally, religiously, and intellectually.” (1) Brother Maeser also focused on the building of character. According to Bryant S. Hinckley, Maeser “was a character technician.” Brother Maeser believed by educating men and woman, they could “lift the world out of its socially, politically, and religiously degraded condition” (3). Brother Maeser was much more than just the first president of Brigham Young Academy or a teacher; he worked to build foundations of character and knowledge. He worked to build Zion.

  1. Karl G. Maeser, “The Principal of the Brigham Young Academy,” Utah Enquirer, December 1890, 3.
  2. Karl G. Maeser, “The Principal of the Brigham Young Academy,” Utah Enquirer, December 1890, 3.
  3. Karl G. Maeser, quoted in Alma P. Burton, Karl G. Maeser: Mormon Educator (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1953), 54-55.
October, 21, 2013

Questions

Questions are an essential part of our lives. In the academic sphere, the scientific method starts with a question. In history class, my research paper must not be based on a topic but on a question.  This principle is true in our lives in many other ways: even when I babysit my nieces and nephews, I notice that they constantly identify problems, ask questions, and seek answers.QuestionMark

Have you ever felt that your questions have gone unanswered? I love the counsel given by President Howard W. Hunter. He taught that true principles are part of one great whole, and that when we encounter apparent conflict in our studies it is because we see only a part of this great whole. He said that this apparent conflict is only a prelude to a new understanding and will yield, in God’s own time, to those who seek wisdom by study and by faith.

Faith is the key to our learning. When we apply faith to our academic, spiritual, and intellectual learning, we ultimately have the fullest understanding.

That is just one of the many reasons I love the Education in Zion Gallery. There are many examples of the founders of BYU and that talk about how faith and questions are an integral part of our pursuit of an education for the whole soul. Ask questions, have faith that the Lord knows all things, and believe and trust in Him.

September, 30, 2013

The Chartered Course in Education

clip_image002Joseph Smith taught, “We are all responsible to God for the manner we improve the light and wisdom given by our Lord to enable us to save ourselves.To fulfill this solemn obligation, we must continue throughout our lives to learn truths of every kind: truths grounded in evidence and reason, truths gained from experience, and truths revealed from heaven.

President Brigham Young told Karl G. Maeser, “I want you to remember that you ought not to teach even the alphabet or the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God. That is all. God bless you. Good-bye.”1 In this admonition by President Young, we have the overview of what “education for the whole soul” andtrue freedom of the mind” looks like. Generations of professors had followed this guidance as they taught thousands of students.

In the 1938 summer school training for teachers in Aspen Grove, J. Reuben Clark, First Counselor in the First Presidency, reminded professors about the founding principles of the school and restated the charted course for Church education with clarity: its inalterable component was teaching the divine mission of Jesus Christ and the prophetic work of Joseph Smith. He simply declared that, “to teach religion in the Church system, one must have a testimony of these truths and the courage to declare and live by them.”3

  1. Reinhard Maeser, Karl G. Maeser: A Biography by His Son (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1928), 79.
  2. Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2nd ed. Rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978), 4:606
  3. J. Reuben Clark Jr. Address given to Church seminary and institute leaders on August 8, 1938, at the BYU Summer School in Aspen Grove.
April, 18, 2013

The world is now our campus

melinda blog photoWith graduation quickly approaching, I find myself reflecting on my undergraduate experience at Brigham Young University.  In just over two weeks, the BYU class of 2013 will begin a new phase of life, one that will be largely shaped by the lessons we have learned in college.

Brigham Young Academy began its first semester in 1876 with just under 30 students, and —although the student body from 2012-2013 is now more than 30,000 students—the purpose of the university remains the same.  The academy was designed to combine spiritual and secular education in a way that would strengthen students’ character. Today, the four aims state that a “BYU education should be: spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging, character building and leading to lifelong learning and service.” [1]

During my time at this university, each of the four aims of a BYU education has played an integral role. First, my testimony of Jesus Christ and God the Father has been strengthened as I have learned to lean on and trust in their miraculous power. Further, I hold deep respect for the highly qualified professors who teach secular principles with a spiritually inspired mindset. Additionally, I have created amazing memories with wonderful friends while also maintaining my standards through the honor code. Lastly, the university’s emphasis on service encouraged me to serve at both a local nursing home and a school for children with autism.

Ultimately, I know that my life has been influenced for the better because of my opportunity to attend Brigham Young University. I will be forever grateful for the sacrifices of those throughout the university’s history who held onto the vision of this divinely inspired institution. Best wishes to the Brigham Young University Class of 2013 as they prepare for life outside of BYU, as truly the world is now our campus.

Melinda Clark, gallery educator


[1] “The Mission of Brigham Young University.” Mission and Aims of BYU. http://aims.byu.edu/.

April, 18, 2013

Behind the Scenes of Pizzaro

The goal of the Saints before, during and after Nauvoo was to find a sense of Zion.  Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young saw broadening the cultural base of Nauvoo as a path to Zion.

The play Pizarro was directed by Thomas A. Lyne (Lynn), a skilled and popular actor from Philadelphia.Lyne came to Nauvoo after becoming curious about Joseph Smith. Lyne, who had encountered Mormonism previously, had outgrown religious beliefs and was skeptical about the Church when he arrived in Nauvoo.

Lyne’s brother-in-law George J. Adams was also an actor and he had recently converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lyne was so impressed by Adams’s stories about Joseph Smith, that he moved to Nauvoo to see for himself. After a warm welcome from the Prophet, Lyne quickly became involved in the community.

Joseph Smith believed theater could be a powerful medium of instruction, so he asked Lyne to form a drama company. In what may have been the beginning of theater for the Church, Pizzaro opened on April 24, 1844, with Adams playing the role of Pizarro. Other members of the cast included Erastus Snow, “Mr. Kimball,” “Master Woolley,” “Mr. A. Lyman,” and “Mrs. Young.” Helen, a daughter of Heber C. Kimball, also played one of the virgins in the cast. Brigham Young was cast as a high priest. Although he only appeared twice leading marches, processions and hymns, he was said to have had one of the most important roles. Tickets sold for 50 cents, which went toward paying Joseph Smith’s legal fees in Missouri.

In an interview with John S. Lindsay, Lyne humorously reflected, “I’ve always regretted having cast Brigham Young for that part of the high priest. . . . He’s been playing the character with great success ever since.”[1]

“Brother Lynn,” over the next few years, also produced The Orphan of Geneve, Douglas, The Idiot’s Witness, Damon and Pythias, The Iron Chest, and William Tell.

[1] Stanley B. Kimball, “Also Starring Brigham Young.” Ensign (Oct 1975). For more information on the topic of plays in Nauvoo, see Nola Diane Smith, “Reading across the Lines: Mormon Theatrical Formations in Nineteenth Century Nauvoo, Illinois” (PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 2001).

 

April, 10, 2013

Appreciation for the military

Growing up on the banks of the Hudson River at West Point Military Academy, I was immersed in the army culture of the historic campus where “Duty, Honor, Country” was the enduring motto of the “Corps of Cadets.” My father, Colonel Amos A. Jordan, was a “permanent professor” at West Point, meaning we spent many uninterrupted years there as he led the Department of Social Sciences.

In the tumultuous years of the 1960s, as the Vietnam War continued to rage, we saw many cadet graduates lead troops in combat far from home. With tears and sadness, we received the news of the heroic sacrifices and deaths of these young men who served their country. Our home had been a haven for the LDS cadets, who regularly joined us for Sunday dinners and holiday celebrations, and we knew many of them well.

My parents spent twenty years at West Point, my father retiring as a Brigadier General. He is now 90 years old and most of his classmates of “the greatest generation,” having served in World War II and the Korean War, are now gone. When I think of my father and mother’s dedication to “Duty, Honor, Country” and the military men, women and families across the world, I am filled with gratitude.

What an astonishing thing it is to embody the scripture found in John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” I remember the faces of the young cadets at the dinner table; the lives lived and lost for our great nation. I am humbled by their love of country and dedication to their fellow citizens.

May we truly respect and appreciate every man and woman who wears the uniform of the United States of America and every family who endures the separations that deployment brings. As nurses, may we give an extra measure of devoted care to those who have given us the greatest gift of all, freedom.

Linda Mabey, BYU College of Nursing  Faculty

April, 10, 2013

Receiving liberating gifts of knowledge

From its founding days forward, the Church has worked to liberate God’s children from the thrall of ignorance.  Church leaders have sponsored the translation, printing and distribution of the scriptures and the teachings of the Latter-day prophets. With these resources, all who are willing and diligent, even those without formal education, can become free from ignorance and prepare to teach others.[1]

Brigham Young stated, “Remember, too, the great principle of improvement. Learn! Learn! Learn! Continue to learn, to study by observation and from good books! Listen to the instruction of your brethren who hold the holy priesthood, and they will lead you in the ways of happiness and of life eternal.”[2]

Many educators scoffed at Brigham Young’s plan to have his academy teach revealed doctrine alongside academic subjects.  The Church educational pioneers, however, did not reject science or scholarship, because they had faith in the ultimate harmony of all truth, whether discovered by science or revealed through prophets. As part of our eternal growth and progression we must each work out the synthesis of faith, virtue, and intellect within our own character.


[1] Gallery Text

[2] Brigham Young, July 24, 1877, Journal of Discourses (1854-86; lithographic reprint, Salt City: Deseret Book, 1974), 19:64

 

April, 5, 2013

General Conference

Something that sets The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints apart from other religions is its emphasis on living prophets. Throughout my time working at the Education in Zion Gallery, I have loved learning more from early prophets and leaders, including Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Karl G. Maeser, George H. Brimhall, Jeffrey R. Holland, Gordon B. Hinckley. What a blessing it is that the Lord communicates to his children lovingly through prayer, but also through our leaders!

I have been pondering the significance of living prophets as I get ready to listen to general conference this weekend. It is a wonderful opportunity to hear from our leaders, either in person or through technological means. In preparation for conference, the Church has come out with an infographic that explains the meeting and its significance. It goes through how people watch or listen live, what is taught and what happens afterward.

I was particularly interested in what happens after the conference. It is amazing to me how much technology has increased the ability to spread knowledge, including spiritual knowledge. The video and audio of the conference are available in 70 languages and on mobile applications including iTunes, Roku and Comcast. In fact, there were over 50,000 tweets about the October 2012 general conference , making it one of the top ten trends in the United States.

General conference is an exciting time to be spiritually educated from our leaders. We are so blessed to be able to hear from them directly in such an intimate setting. Make sure to tune in to lds.org!

April, 5, 2013

Buildings in Nauvoo

Nauvoo was a culturally exciting time for the Church. The town was built fairly quickly after the Saints arrived and it soon thrived. Several of the buildings constructed there were of great importance to the Church.

The Red Brick Store had many different roles. It was not only a general store, but it was also the unofficial headquarters of the Church because Joseph Smith owned it and often conducted Church business there. Joseph Smith even had an office on the second floor.[1]  On March 17, 1842, the Relief Society was organized formally by the Prophet in this upper room on the second floor. In addition, the store housed the Young Gentlemen’s and the Young Ladies’ Relief Societies as well as the University of the City of Nauvoo. The Red Brick Store was the center of many social events, lyceums and concerts. It was also where the a few very early endowments and sealings took place before the temple was finished.[2]

The Mansion House was another important building in Nauvoo. It was the home of Joseph and Emma Smith. They moved there in August 1843, and after the 1844 construction of a 22-room-wing, the house was turned into a hotel. The Smiths continued to live there and were the hosts to many fellow Saints and important dignitaries.[3]

Perhaps the most important building in Nauvoo was the temple. The drawings from which the temple was built were based on a vision received by Joseph Smith.[4] In 1841 the Saints began construction of the temple.  Although it was not finished until after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith,  this temple was the first one where ordinances—including eternal marriage and baptisms for the dead—were performed. It was finally dedicated in 1846 just before the Saints moved west, and nearly 6,000 people received their endowments in it.[5]

These buildings, along with many others, became important spaces where the Saints could mingle, be taught, and receive ordinances. All these activities helped to unify the them and helped them progress in their educational pursuits.


[2] Education in Zion gallery text

[4] Education in Zion gallery text

March, 27, 2013

Joseph Smith: Teaching in the Savior’s Way

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkOkK1JZJgU[/youtube]

The Education in Zion Gallery sits at the heart of Brigham Young University’s campus to serve as a reminder of the eternal nature of education. The Prophet Joseph Smith epitomized the role of an eternally minded student and teacher. As such, the first part of the Education in Zion Gallery is dedicated to him.

In the Sacred Grove, Joseph sought guidance that would change his life and impact all future generations. Through his heartfelt inquiry, he ushered in the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He began a divine education wherein “he was taught for years by visions and revelations, and by holy angels sent from God out of heaven to teach and instruct him and prepare him to lay the foundation of this Church.”[1]

Joseph’s experiences as a student of God prepared him to serve as a teacher in Zion to new converts who were eager to learn of the restored gospel. Joseph “proclaimed the gospel with testimony, clarity, and boldness, and in an unpretentious manner that quickly became a pattern for the Church.”[2]

The video clip below is featured in the gallery and provides a glimpse into Joseph’s life as a student and a teacher in Zion.

Members of the LDS Church continue to cherish the words of Joseph Smith because the words provide a beautiful understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Ultimately, Joseph Smith’s desire to learn as a young boy allowed him the opportunity to serve as God’s mouthpiece during the restoration of the Church in a way that remains a pattern for education in Zion into the twenty-first century.

Sources:

[1] Wilford Woodruff, October 8, 1873, Journal of Discourses (1854–86; lithographic reprint, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974), 16:265.

[2] Education in Zion gallery text, “Joseph the Educator: Teaching in the Savior’s Way,” http://educationinzion.byu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Education-in-Zion-Text.pdf.