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November, 13, 2013

Go Forth to Serve

As I walk through the rooms of the Education in Zion Gallery, one simple phrase seems to echo through them all: “Enter to learn, go forth to serve.” The gallery walls are full of Saints that were willing to sacrifice everything for the seemingly small privilege of being in a classroom. They were seeking Christ not only through faith but also though academics. The early Saints were pioneers geographically and intellectually.

BYA Graduates

As I ponder over the early Saints’ great examples, I wonder how I can do a similar work in my time. Why must I give seemingly needless things more attention than my own education? If I truly want to be an agent of change in the world, must I not first prepare myself with such useful tools?

Just like the efforts of the early Saints have transcended their eras to bless our lives today, I hope that my own actions will do the same for others. The student I am today will determine my capacity to serve in the future. Therefore, I must not succumb to the indifferent attitude that is often seen in society, but instead be actively involved in my education. I must learn today what I want to teach tomorrow. Then—and only then—will I be able to “go forth to serve.”

November, 7, 2013

Imperfect Leaders in a Perfect Society

The Education in Zion gallery is filled with quotes from church leaders and other historical characters that help us recognize the kind of attributes the Lord wants His disciples to possess.  One of my favorite quotes in the gallery is from President Gordon B. Hinckley:

hinckleyhat

“My plea is that … we look for strength and goodness rather than weakness and foibles in those who did so great a work in their time. We recognize that our forebears were human. They doubtless made mistakes … But the mistakes were minor when compared with the marvelous work they accomplished … The Lord has used imperfect people in the process of building his perfect society. If some of them have occasionally stumbled, or if their characters may have been slightly flawed in one way or another, the wonder is the greater that they have accomplished so much.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, First Presidency, 1986)

This can help us understand many things about life.  Not only does it help us understand that our leaders—despite their imperfections—were great, but it also teaches us how to view our peers and ourselves.

What if we were to only focus on our strengths and goodness rather than our weaknesses and foibles?  What if we were to focus on the talents and good of those surrounding us instead of their shortcomings? President Hinckley taught us not only a way to approach the study of church history, but also a way for us to live our day-to-day lives.

November, 4, 2013

Brother Delbert Brigham Brown

Delbert Brown

Brother Brown was promised in his patriarchal blessing, “Thou wilt be blessed with wisdom and many will seek thee for counsel.” Throughout his career at BYU, which involved close associations with many student employees under his supervision, this blessing was realized.

A student custodian once brought Delbert a lost billfold that contained a risqué picture torn from a magazine. When the owner, a fifteen-year-old boy, came to the office to claim it, Delbert took out his own wallet and showed him photographs of his own family, saying, “They are pictures any man or boy would be glad to show to anybody.” Reminding the boy of how it would hurt his mother to learn what he had been carrying, Delbert counseled, “I want you to do away with those pictures and get your mother’s and sister’s pictures and put them in your billfold.” The boy promptly tore up the page and said tearfully, “Thanks, Mr. Brown. Nobody has ever talked to me like that before. I don’t think I’ll get into trouble now.”

Brother Brown’s love for the students of BYU was legendary. Perhaps the faculty and staff today are as motivated as he was by the Spirit of the Lord. Brother Brown said, “The sacrifice some of the students make to come to BYU sometimes makes me wonder if the spirit of those who founded doesn’t still remain with it.”

November, 4, 2013

Karl G. Maeser: A Character Technician

 

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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