Monday, July 16, 2007

Thomas Parkin's Challenge to the Bloggernacle

A general challenge to the bloggernacle:
Write posts centered on Brigham Young quotes that you like as least as often as around those that offend your sensibilities.

I loved Thomas Parkin's comment (#17) in the recent BCC thread "Can Women Sin?" And I've decided to take up his challenge. I agree with Parkin that "Brigham Young speaks in a language that we no longer understand. We are probably not capable of getting past our own prejudices to read him well. His language is not only of his time but is idiosyncratic to himself." However, there are many things that Brigham said which are fabulous. He is so sure of himself, so forthright. Here are a few quotes I really like from Brigham:

Now I say the women have great influence. Look at the nations of the earth. Any nation you like, no matter which, and you enlist the sympathies of the female portion of it and what is there you cannot perform?

...The mothers are the moving instruments in the hands of Providence to guide the destinies of nations. Let the mothers of any nation teach their children not to make war, the children would grow up and never enter into it. Let the mothers teach their children "War, war upon your enemies, yes, war to the hilt!" and they will be filled with this spirit. Consequently, you see at once what I wish to impress upon your minds is, that the mothers are the machinery that gives zest to the whole man, and guide the destinies and lives of men upon the earth.

We see in this quote Brigham's tendency to hyperbole. But women really do have great influence, and his turn of phrase tends to inspire and call to action. After reading this, I am ready to go forth and add zest to my family, to fill our home with the spirit of accomplishment and great aspirations.

Another quote which inspires me is this:

It is your right, wives, to ask your husbands to set out beautiful shade and fruit trees, and to get you some vines and flowers with which to adorn the outside of your dwellings; and if your husbands have not time, get them yourselves and plant them out.

Since my husband is one who "has not time" (nor, I might add, the inclination) to set out beautiful plantings or mow the yard, I've done just as Brigham suggests, do it myself. Early in my marriage I was always waiting upon the husband to come home and fix the disposal or caulk the bathtub. As Brigham says, it is my right to ask my husband to help with these things to beautify the home and make it functional. But if he has not time, I now do it myself!

Brigham's no-nonsense, get-it-done attitude is oftentimes useful and motivational. It recalls the Mormon pioneer spirit of sturdiness and self-reliance. It is fairly obvious that he exaggerated to make his point. He had his own brand of humor. To wit: "To mind your own business incorporates the whole duty of man." This Prophet was a know-it-all and could be overbearing, but had a firm sense of what was right and a determination to live according to the dictates of his Father in Heaven. "It is the business of a Latter-day Saint, in passing through the street, if he sees a fence pole down, to put it up; if he sees an animal in the mud to stop and help get it out."

I hope Thomas Parkin has enjoyed this post. I now have a free ticket for a BY post centered on quotes that offend my sensibilities!


Jo said...

My handy man hubby and I make our living off women whose husbands do not have the ability and/or the inclination to fix stuff around the house. The wives say "enough!" and give my husband a call. GO ladies, I need a new car!

Téa said...

BiV's got a ticket to blog
She's got a ticket to blo-o-og...

We don't have a general projects list posted anymore. It's been replaced by a small white board on the fridge titled "Projects That Need More Than Me" for those occasions where more than one person is required.

sarah k. said...

I really liked this post, and the premise for it. I just got finished reading Nelson-Seawrights post, "Can women sin?" and musing over the idiocy of BY's quotes on the inferiority of women. I'm in a place where it's a huge struggle to keep the happy faith I grew up with, when I keep realizing how weird the church and it's leaders are/were.

But you've reminded me that Brigham Young did have some good things to say, too. He was weird, yes, but he was a product of his time. And if he was really a Prophet, then some of the things he said were true, right?