May, 7, 2010

“A Certain Fire That Must Be Kept Burning”

Two sweeping murals grace the walls of Education in Zion. On the south wall rises a mural entitled, The Temple, a Holy School, and directly facing it on the north end is a mural entitled, The School, a Temple of Learning. The south one depicts the first LDS temple in Kirtland, Ohio, while the other highlights the Brigham Young Academy Building and the Karl G. Maeser Building (the first structure on BYU’s present-day campus).

When seen together, these two murals of the temple and the school encapsulate the purpose of learning for Church members. For Latter-day Saints, learning is a holy and eternal endeavor. The Prophet Joseph Smith claimed that “the first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is that we believe that we have a right to embrace all and every item of truth, without limitation.” An eternal education follows a spirit of learning which defines truth as one whole and seeks to harmonize faith and study.

From the early days of the Church, the Prophet Joseph Smith directed the building of both temples and schools. In Kirtland, the Saints labored to construct a temple while at the same time opened several schools, most notably the School of the Prophets. Again in Nauvoo, the Prophet directed the building of the Nauvoo Temple as well as establishing the University of the City of Nauvoo. The words of early Church leader Sidney Rigdon help explain, in part, the tenacity that the early Saints had in creating a community in which education thrived. He said, “Intelligence is the great object of our holy religion. To obtain all the knowledge which the circumstances man will admit of, is one of the princip[al] objects the [S]aints have in gathering together.” This is our educational inheritance.

In the final room of the exhibition hangs a panel with the following words from BYU’s fifth president, Franklin Harris: “There has grown out of the history of th[is] institution a certain fire that must be kept burning…the first task of the future is to preserve it…this spirit that come to us from the past.” Since opening in August of 2008, Education in Zion has shared stories of many past church members’ pursuits in learning the importance of and attaining an education for the whole soul. This story of education in the Church continues today. In the spirit of keeping the fire burning, we would like to hear your stories and tell some of ours as well.

The purpose of this blog is to create a forum in which thoughts on educational inheritance, faith and scholarship, and the eternal nature of learning may be reflected upon, shared, and discussed. The blog will be updated regularly with entries from those of us at Education in Zion, the BYU community, Church members worldwide, and any who share an interest in these topics.

We invite you to consider sharing the story of your own educational inheritance or your reflections on an eternal education. To contribute, please email your entry to

-Ann Lambson, Education in Zion Curator