Journal 40:2 | BYU Studies

Journal 40:2

Volume 40:2 (2001)
Brigham Young, second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is one of the most misunderstood men in American history. This issue attempts to uncover truths about this prophet through several articles devoted to him. Jed Woodworth asserts that "Brigham Young and the Mission of Mormonism," is one of "peace and goodwill." John K. Carmack's "Father Brigham in His Western...Read more

Guest Editor's Introduction

"Let us now praise famous men," a line from Ecclesiasticus, a second-century B.C. Jewish text, directs attention to renowned leaders of ancient Israel. James Agee and Walker Evans's 1939 publication, taking this same phrase for its title, alludes to common men and women whose silent deeds of heroism have been overlooked. In Brigham Young, second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-... Read more

Brigham Young and the Mission of Mormonism

For the most part, Brigham Young chose to ignore his critics, but on occasion he personally responded to them. The letter printed below contains Brigham Young's 1869 answer to a newspaper editor's question, "What is the mission of the Mormons?" Mormonism's fruits, Brigham attested, substantiated its faith claims. Read more

Father Brigham in His Western Canaan

If you were to paint a word picture of Brigham Young by comparing him to an earlier spiritual leader, to whom would you compare him? Maybe the most dramatic comparison comes from that pivotal moment when he spoke to nearly five thousands Saints gathered in Nauvoo to select those who would take the reins of leadership in the restored Church. To many, including my own forebears, as he delivered his... Read more

A Man of God and a Good Kind Father: Brigham Young at Home

*This article is cited as a reference in an expanded Gospel Topic at On January 31, 1857, Brigham Young walked into the Church Historian's Office in Salt Lake City and gave instructions that he wanted very little about his family included in the history of the Church. His reticence no doubt stemmed from people's curiosity about the Mormon leader's polygamous lifestyle, which subjected... Read more

The Lion and the Lioness: Brigham Young and Eliza R. Snow

He was born in 1801, she in 1804. He was a man known for his humor and gruffness, she a woman known for her sobriety and refinement. He preached unforgettable sermons, though he never learned to spell. She wrote reams of poetry and songs. He provided her a home as one of his wives for thirty years, but she never took his name. Both he and she were passionately devoted to the Prophet Joseph Smith... Read more

"Cows to Milk Instead of Novels to Read": Brigham Young, Novel Reading, and Kingdom Building

It is instructive to observe how literally sophisticated Latter-day Saints scramble to defend the contemporary, universal embrace of imaginative fiction in general and the novel in particular against the single-minded, single-eyed, and vigorous attacks of President Brigham Young. During his thirty-year tenure as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brother Brigham, as he... Read more


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Leopold Bierwirth's Impressions of Brigham Young and the Mormons, 1872

Tourists frequently passed through Salt Lake City after the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869. Many visitors recorded their impressions of the city and its inhabitants. One visitor, Leopold Bierwirth, a New York City merchant, kept a diary during his 1872 railroad journey from New York to San Francisco. The diary is similar to other travel narratives but contains much more detail... Read more

Of Men and Mantles: Kierkegaard on the Difference between a Genius and an Apostle

I was asked to introduce Elder Neal A. Maxwell to a group of BYU English majors. This assignment caused me some concern. I feared that my audience might be inclined to revere Elder Maxwell for the wrong reasons, or at least for secondary reasons—namely, for his considerable gifts as a writer rather than for his apostolic authority. So rather than rehearse Elder Maxwell's resume, I decided to... Read more

"A Man That You Could Not Help Likeing": Joseph Smith and Nauvoo, Illinois, Portrayed in a Letter by Susannah and George W. Taggart

The Prophet Joseph Smith's call for members of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints to gather to Nauvoo, Illinois, had a wide effect once the settlement acquired the trappings of civilization. What had been the obscure riverside village of Commerce soon evidenced expansion and progress: new inhabitants and bustling construction. Among those who gathered to Nauvoo were Washington and... Read more

Santa Anas

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Vernal Equinox

Here I sit, practicing a solo version of "You Are My Sunshine" on my harmonica—the same instrument that my grandfather taught me to play. His was a unique style, a combination of single notes offset by a lower beat that traced the music but didn't define it. A back beat, somewhat like a bass guitar. I haven't picked my harmonica up for over a year. Though I'd love to be able to play it better, it... Read more

The Environmental Ethics of Mormon Belief

The time has come to find common ground between environmentalism and Mormon believe. The perceived divide between the two has all but shut down the possibility of dialogue. Some Mormons dismiss the political causes of environmentalists as being the fears of faithless hedonists, just as otherwise responsible environmental scholars and activists sometimes perpetuate myths and inaccuracies about... Read more

The Garden

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Irony and Grace

My wife's and my son, Alex, passed away almost four years ago. He was away at college in North Carolina. One morning, just after accepting a mission call and only a few weeks before he was to return to Utah for Christmas, he woke up with a rare bacterial infection. He died later that same day, less than twelve hours after he went to the health center. I was lecturing in Italy when he died; Nicea... Read more

In the Loge

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Late Gardens

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Popol Vuh: The Mystic Sections-Tales of First Beginnings from the Ancient K'iche'-Maya

This book is the second of the FARMS series Ancient Texts and Mormon Studies. The complete title, Popol Vuh: The Mythic Sections—Tales of First Beginnings from the Ancient K'iche'-Maya , reveals that Allen Christenson chose to publish the part of the Popol Vuh (an ancient Mayan story) that explains the Mayan view of the creation of humankind. The unpublished part deals with the protohistory of K'... Read more

Mormon Healer and Folk Poet: Mary Susannah Fowler's Life of "Unselfish Usefulness"

During the course of her life, Mary Susannah Fowler filled many roles: a much loved mother who underwent twelve pregnancies, a midwife and nurse, a leader in Church and civic organizations, a poet, and a wife. Margaret K. Brady's Mormon Healer and Folk Poet looks at the different aspects of these roles and their significance both to Mary and to those around her. Born October 23, 1862, in Woods... Read more

The Dissent of the Governed; The Americanization of Religious Minorities; The Lustre of Our Country; God versus Caesar

STEPHEN L. CARTER. The Dissent of the Governed: A Meditation on Law, Religion, and Loyalty. Harvard University Press, 1998. ERIC MICHAEL MAZUR. The Americanization of Religious Minorities: Confronting the Constitutional Order. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. JOHN T. NOONAN JR. The Lustre of Our Country: The American Experience of Religious Freedom. University of California Press, 1998... Read more