March, 22, 2013

Creating a Zion-like people

As the Saints settled in the Western valley, Brigham Young established many opportunities in the frontier to create a well-rounded, educated people. He believed “’Mormonism embraces all truth[,] revealed and unrevealed, whether religious, political, scientific, or philosophical.”[1] In order to fulfill this belief, Brigham Young sent many individuals to New England and abroad for vocational and academic trainings. Through formal educations, men and women alike were better prepared to be the leaders of the Church, educators and artisans. All of their skills were essential in the building of God’s kingdom.

Vocational training was perhaps the most important training during that time. Several women were sent to the east to study in prestigious schools. They joined professional health care associations and brought back many valuable skills when they returned West.[2] Artisans such as Truman Angell were sent to study European architecture before he designed the Salt Lake Temple.[3] Painters who contributed to the murals inside the temple were also especially apprenticed in Europe.

The Saints also organized lyceums (similar to today’s devotionals), lectures, forums and classes to discuss philosophical topics. For example, President Lorenzo Snow established the Polysophical Society. His sister Eliza described the society as, “magnificent moral, intellectual, and spiritual picnic.”[4] Another formal education system is the Deseret Theological Institute, organized in 1855. This lecture program was dedicated to promote doctrinal understandings and invite all who are “desirous of receiving and imparting light, wisdom, and principles” to join. [5]

[1] Brigham Young, January 12, 1862, Journal of Discourses  (1854-86; lithographic reprint, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1973), 9:149

[2] Eliza R. Snow, “An Address,” Woman’s Exponent 2, no. 8 (September 15, 1873): 63; “Home Affairs,” Woman’s Exponent 9, no. 9 (October 1, 1880): 69; advertisements, Woman’s Exponent no. 17 (February 1, 1881): 136; Hannah T. King, “Dr. Ellis R. Shipp,” Woman’s Exponent 12, no. (July 15, 1883): 31; “Commencement Exercises,” Woman’s Exponent 13, no. 23 (May 1, 1885):181-82

[3] Truman O. Angell, “His Journal,” in Our Pioneer Heritage, ed. Kate B. Carter (Salt Lake City: Daughter of Utah Pioneers, 1967), 10:195-213

[4] Eliza R. Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow (Salt Lake City: Deseret 1884), 252.

[5] Preamble and Constitution of the Deseret Theological Institute, Millennial Star 17, no. 33 (August 18, 1855): 515