The Fort Smith, Arkansas Times Record has an interesting article: the descendants of Parley P. Pratt have obtained a judge’s order to exhume the Apostle’s remains and move them to a designated grave in Utah. The article — which is quite thorough, actually — goes on to describe Pratt’s death and the struggle to return him to Utah. We don’t talk about Parley too much, except to describe his missionary prowess or historical role. Perhaps it’s worth revisiting PPP’s accomplishments?
I think of PPP primarily as one of the great Mormon editors and writers of his day, in particular with respect to his work with The Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star (no, not that one), and The Prophet (please let me know if it’s online somewhere for free). Much of the apologia and argument (and invective!) supporting the Restoration were established under his editorial reign. Parley was not shy, and his writing is not shy. He believe the Church to be the stone in Daniel’s vision, and believed the Millennium — and attendant ascendancy of the Church as world government — was imminent.
PPP’s contributions to the missionary effort cannot be underestimated. From that first mission to the Lamanites to subsequent missions in the UK, Europe, the Pacific islands and to South America, few Mormons have spent more of their lives or had more success in missionary labors.
I also recommend the reading of his autobiography. I am not sure as to the accuracy of his writings, but I can attest as to their interest — PPP was a great writer and his book does indeed capture the reader’s attention. I first read his autobiography on my mission and was absolutely riveted.
We speak far less of PPP’s doctrinal additions or social experiments. This may be for good reason — the Deseret Alphabet is an odd thing, and we turn relatively rarely to matters of spiritual communications, the eternity of matter, or of the plurality of Gods. Perhaps the return of Parley’s body to Salt Lake will spark a return to his writing and a re-analysis of the ideas that were coursing through him.