Brother Lars Glenson is a good, though misguided and simple-minded soul who shows up hereabouts from time to time. He holds the study of Mormon history in special disdain and refers to it as Mormon Minutiae. Our Christian duty requires us to bear with Lars in his difficulties and to shed as much light as possible on his darkened path. It is in this spirit that BCC announces it will provide from time to time a new feature as a public service called Especially For Glenson. This service will be carried out in the form of short, inspirational posts, much like the format of Especially For Mormons. However, the BCC iteration will be better because the stories will actually be true. Please enjoy our first feature, which we will call Covered Wagon Feminism.
On June 6, 1846, the group of saints which Brigham Young called the camp of Israel had abandoned Nauvoo and were about one hundred miles west of the Mississippi. The journal of Louisa Barnes Pratt records that the following incident took place:
Last evening the ladies met to organize. Mrs. Isaac Chase was called to the chair. She was also appointed President by unanimous vote. Mrs. L. B. Pratt counsellor and scribe. Several resolutions were adopted:….If the men wish to hold control over the women, let them be on the alert. We believe in equal rights. Meeting adjourned.
I am very curious to know what incident or series of incidents caused the women of the camp to meet and adopt this resolution. On the other hand, we don’t need to read between the lines very much to be able to imagine a presider who enjoyed presiding a little too much and who is about to have his head handed to him.
The lesson for us is to realize that the uneasy tension between male priesthood and female empowerment has been with us since the very beginning. We speak of feminism as though it were invented by the scary ERA ladies in the 1970s, but we can see that as early as 1846 Louisa Pratt, faithful saint and wife of Addison Pratt, was ready to go apostate, abandon her family, stop shaving her legs and wearing a bra, join the paid workforce, and get a tattoo on her right gluteus maximus that said To Hell With Housework.
Perspective, Lars. That’s what we need. Those who do not understand Mormon Minutiae are condemned to repeat it. Some of the issues we see before us have already been dealt with, albeit in a slightly different form. An awareness of that fact allows us to approach our current challenges without hyperventilating.