Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Two recommended reads

I came across two articles in the past couple of days that I really enjoyed. The first is by Robert Kirby, who is a great tongue-in-cheek writer for the SLTrib. For anyone not aware of the Trek phenomena that seem so popular among Mormon youth groups, be grateful.

Kirby: Crossing the plains was a pain
Robert Kirby
Tribune columnist
Article Launched: 06/21/2008 12:00:00 AM MDT

My great-great-grandfather Korihor Kirby trekked to Zion in 1855. He brought along my three grandmas, a regiment of children, two oxen, a dog, a sack of mustard seed and a banjo with a set of teeth marks in it.
The fact that they crossed the plains at all is the only resemblance my ancestors' experience has with the correlated version of what transpired. That we came at all is either a miracle or a misunderstanding.
The popular history of the great Mormon migration is one of vast hardship endured through faith and prayer. There were miracles aplenty along the way - food falling out of the sky, unseen Nephite spirits helping pull the wagons, and babies born in bison stampedes.
I concede that such things probably happened, but not that they were the rule. All sorts of Mormon personalities crossed the plains, including my family.
According to Grandpa Korihor's daily ledger titled Brethren That Owe Me Money, he wasn't exactly wild about coming to Utah. He liked Nauvoo. From his own pencil stub:
"Sun. May 20 (1855) - Church. Another discourse about gathering unto Zion. Am NOT going."
"Tues., June 5 - Dance. Pres. Pratt unduly attentive to Sister Grimm. Ministered unto him with banjo and fist."
"Wed., June 6 - Sold tavern. Leave for Deseret in morning. Anyone not in wagon gets left."
My grandmothers'journals contain mostly domestic observations about the overland trail, how hard it was to wash clothes, feed children, and keep the wagon clean during Family Wagon Evenings.
Grandma Meany occasionally took the time to pen her spiritual convictions, all of them heartfelt essays about how much God hated her husband.
"July ? - Delivered another child in the rain. It's what I get for marrying a Telestial spirit."
This isn't to say that my ancestors didn't receive divine help getting to Utah, just not the kind you'll read about in Ensign magazine. From Korihor's ledger:
"Aug. 1, Platte River - Mustard mush gone. Children clamorous about remaining distance. Went river pray for deliverance or drown self. Pelican hit by lightning. Dined on same. Beak and feet to bishop for tithing. Lord good but not overly generous."
My ancestors arrived in Salt Lake City Sept. 22, 1855, having taken nearly twice as long to cross the plains as the average Mormon.
Today, Mormon youth re-enact the pioneer trek as a way of understanding what it took to build Zion. Four grueling days of pushing a handcart across Wyoming teaches them something, I guess. Reading about it is enough for me.
It's not enough for my editor, though. She called me into her office today and told me to go buy a hat and a bucket of sunscreen because, "We're sending you to cover one of the LDS treks next month."

The second is by a blogger over at madhousewife.wordpress.com, and while the whole article was fine, it was two paragraphs that I really liked. Most of you know there are types of Mormons that drive me nuts. This woman hits the nail on the head with one of those types.

This is not a Mormon blog. It’s a blog written by a Mormon lady who occasionally goes all Mormony on you. I enjoy mocking my own culture sometimes–not to be all subversive and in your face, but because that’s just how I roll. I mock because I love. I love being a Mormon, and I love Mormondom in general. That doesn’t mean I’m blind to the church’s flaws and weaknesses, in its leadership and/or its membership. Some people wonder why, considering all my doubts and alleged square-peggishness, a sarcastic suckhead like me sticks with an institution that is designed for cookie-cutter sheep-type people with great teeth and awesome hair. Well, the fact is I am not that special, I don’t like my boat rocked, and my teeth and hair are pretty great, if not outstanding. But it comes down to this: the church is my home. Mormons are my family. We’ve got our skeletons and our crazy Aunt Myrtles. I can take good-natured jokes about this stuff because I’m willing to own the kooks and the skeletons. And in turn I can joke about it because I have such deep affection for the community–an affection I think is obvious to anyone who reads me without prejudice.

It is not obvious to a certain subset of Mormons, people who think being Mormon means never having to be ironic. I’m sorry that you people are irony-deficient. I wish there were a supplement you could take, because then you wouldn’t leave random comments on my site telling me that I’m bigoted and have no manners. This happens from time to time, and I usually shrug it off because, whatever, they don’t know me and they don’t care, why waste the emotion. When somebody leaves a comment like, “Your a little retard, Mormons are great,” I don’t even feel compelled to correct their spelling, or to point out that “retard” is not a euphemism that charming people use. I definitely don’t see the point in explaining that I myself think that Mormons are great, because if they didn’t want to understand the first time, they’re usually not motivated to get it the second time either.


merilee said...

love the poem. I'm good with reading about it too.

Anonymous said...

That Kirby article is hilarious. I love it.


Barb @ getupandplay said...

Oh, Senator Buttars is too much for me to handle. I would run into him in the halls at the Capitol and I seriously had a Voldemort reaction to him. He's so notorious that he'd startle me! Yucky.