March, 11, 2013

George H. Brimhall: A Storyteller

Courtesy of HBLL Special Collections

Embedded in both LDS Church history and BYU history, you’ll find various leaders who utilized storytelling–following the examples set by scriptural leaders. Among these modern-day leaders is George H. Brimhall, the third principal of Brigham Young Academy. Brimhall would often give what were called sermonettes where he would tell allegories for the benefit of the students’ learning. He called the following story “The Camel Test.” In it, Brimhall explains how Arabian merchants determined the value of a camel.

“If he rubs his nose in the water, splashes around a little, and then turns and looks this way and that and sniffs the air, he is turned down as a fourth rate camel. If he drinks a little, he is a third rate camel. If he drinks moderately, he is graded as a second rate camel and his value is in proportion. But if he drinks copiously–drains the trough–he is the highest priced camel, granted that he is sound and able to travel. And why! Because that snuffler that simply splashed the water with his nose, that gazer from side to side, that looker into the distance as though he could travel the whole desert when he is loaded and started would perish in the desert. Students are not camels, but they are like them. . . . You will see some information coming from the teacher. You will see [the students] looking, gazing into the future, dreaming about something, I know not what, as though they had the wings of an airship. Then you will see others who will be moderately attentive; and you will see others whose minds are concentrated; they are reaching out, they drain the trough of information . . . the students who succeed, they have been filled with what is to support them, and they will make their journey–they will make their journey.”[1]

[1] Wilkinson, Ernest L. Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years. 1 (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1975), 594–95.