On May 22, a juvenile delinquent by the name of Lars Glenson somehow got the keys to BCC and went for a joy ride. He published a childish rant wherein he claimed to be fed up and bored with Mormon history, and described it as historical garbage. These statements were shocking to me at first, until I realized that Lars probably has not yet reached the age of accountability, at least mentally, and can therefore be excused. After all, some children are very slow, and need to be kept after school in the third grade in order to figure out the answer to 2 + 2.
I have now been reliably informed that this Glenson fellow is an adult. It is a serious matter when our society allows people with such aberrations to roam loose among the rest of us. I was tempted to give him a wide berth, as one does when encountering someone on the street who mutters to himself, but my Christian duty does not allow me to pass by on the other side. It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance, especially a man as ignorant as Lars. Wish me luck as I put my shoulder to the wheel and attempt to reason with a crazy person, and rescue his lost and benighted soul.
I hope you this letter finds you in good spirits. I assume that you are well-cared for, living as you do in the basement of your parent’s home. I’ve heard that you are now at level 62 in World of Warcraft. Congratulations! That is quite an achievement, and I know it reflects hundreds, even thousands of hours of effort on your part. If you apply yourself for twelve hours a day, you will probably reach level 70 by July 15th, and then you can catch up on Grand Theft Auto 4. No rest for the wicked, as they say.
Is it impolite of me to ask where you get your attitude towards Mormon history? I hope not. Because I think the person responsible for it needs to be arrested and tried, with corporal punishment on the table as a possible sentence. Our history is so much more than covered wagons, 1847, Missouri persecutions, and endless discussions about MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. To say that there is nothing interesting about it is like going to a banquet and refusing to eat. Or, to put it in terms more understandable to you, going to McDonald’s and then walking out without ordering two Double Quarter Pounders with bacon and cheese.
Where do I even start? Our history helps us understand ourselves. There is a story behind the things we eat and drink, and the things we wear. There is a story about how we have come to believe the things we believe. Each individual Mormon has a history, and there are events and movements all around us that beg for context and understanding.
Do you like Clint Eastwood movies? You would love the story of the woman in rural Louisiana who served as a midwife in her town, and at whose home the missionaries boarded. A gang of roughnecks came calling, intent on lynching the elders. She took her shotgun, stepped outside onto the porch, and stared them down. Her gun would have been either a lever- or pump-action fowling piece, and I can imagine her working the lever or racking the slide for effect. She said “I brought a good many of you into the world and I can take you out again just as easily.” I think that is an even better line than “Go ahead punk, make my day.” The malefactors decided not to push their luck, and left.
Do you want to hear about some more female heroes? Too bad, listen up. In 1841, LDS immigrants from Europe were sailing to the port of New Orleans, then up the Mississippi to Nauvoo. Sometimes they had to lay over in New Orleans in order to work and earn money to pay for the rest of their trip. Joseph Smith sent Harrison Sagers (who is a progenitor of my co-blogger, Norbert) to organize a branch and work as a missionary. A group of local soreheads decided to put a stop to Mormonism in their town and came gunning for elder Sagers. Some LDS women heard what was happening, and they went as a group and stood between Sagers and the mob, thereby very likely saving his life and making it possible for us to know and love Norbert.
This story raises all kinds of interesting questions. Why don’t we know the names of those incredibly courageous women? Which one of them had the idea to use their bodies as a buffer and convinced the others to do so? What was that branch like? It probably contained British, Danish, and Swedish converts. How did they get along, and how did the branch function?
I hope you are getting the Big Picture. There’s something here for everybody, and Mormon historians are not just a bunch of people who like to sit around cultivating hemorrhoids while reading their footnotes to each other. They are people who can tell us about the King of Beaver Island, or about Br. Cannon, the first Mormon in Alaska. He went there in the gold rush of 1898 at the age of 79, and he took with him a portable tabernacle. Look me in the eye and tell me you wouldn’t like to hear more about him.
Best wishes, Lars. I hope to see you at MHA next year in Springfield, Illinois. (It’s one of the ones in the middle, between Missouri and Indiana.)
Sincerely, your brother in the gospel, etc.
P.S. It occurred to me that perhaps your reading skills could use a little brushing up. I have enclosed several copies of People magazine from last year which the barber was just going to throw away. Perhaps you will find them interesting. I am told that there is celebrity gossip on the last page which is written in very simple language, but some of the words have more than one syllable, so don’t be embarassed if you need to move your lips when you sound them out.