It’s easy for me to be catty about the Friend (and the New Era more so). Mostly it’s all those happy shiny Utah kids and stories about baseball mitts that stick in my craw. Next to my son’s bed is an Anglo-American cultural dictionary to aid with the translation. (Yes, I am grumpy. Please ignore me.)
Still, credit where credit’s due. This month’s Friend has some interesting stuff in it. First up is a story about a Mormon lad from Scotland. There are a few bugs (note that young John apparently pays his tithing in US dollars), but the story rises above the token non-American fare for a couple of reasons. It’s not made explicit, but it appears that John does not live with his father (or at the very least, his father is not a Mormon). Also, we learn that John’s mum suffers from depression. John’s is a happy family, but it’s not an airbrushed one.
I also thought that the magazine’s opening Joseph Smith cartoon went beyond what I’m used to from the Friend (disclosure: I don’t read it that often). We learn about Lucy Mack and Joseph Sr’s religiosity and Joseph Sr’s tree of life dream. Given that the father’s dream is believed by some to have been copied into the Book of Mormon,* this is a rather confident move. Naturally, the Friend uses the vision positively: “Joseph’s father was also religious. Several years before his son’s vision, he had visions preparing him to receive the truth. He saw a vision like Lehi and Nephi saw.”
Overall, an interesting issue. Good work, IRI.
*Brodie p. 58: “In his first chapters Joseph borrowed from his own family traditions…Lehi, father of the hero Nephi, was made to have a vision that paralleled the dream of Joseph’s father in minute detail.”
Counter argument: Griggs.
I personally wonder how far Lucy mixed her recollections of her husband’s dreams with later Mormon themes. She was, after all, writing many years later.