Blah, blah, blah Pioneers blah, blah, blah

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Kumahito
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Blah, blah, blah Pioneers blah, blah, blah

Post by Kumahito » 23 Jul 2013, 22:49

Happy Pioneer Day, everyone. It's the 24th of July Down Under. I've got a very simple question: is anyone else as tired and worn-out hearing about the pioneers as I am? Okay, I get it - the pioneers sacrificed in a way I'll never understand, suffered depredations, and carved a lovely paradise out of a barren desert. But how many Mormons today actually trace their heritage to those who came across the plains?

I'm a decendant of pioneers on one side of my family. My wife is a convert from outside of the US, and obviously has no pioneer heritage. She gets awfully tired of hearing the same stories over and over, every year. Frankly, I do to. I think the whole pioneer thing would get much more traction if the Church would give it a rest once in a while.

*End of rant*
"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all."
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cwald
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Re: Blah, blah, blah Pioneers blah, blah, blah

Post by cwald » 24 Jul 2013, 00:03

I can see how the whole pioneer obsession could be offensive and insensitive to converts and members outside of the United States.
Last edited by Anonymous on 24 Jul 2013, 10:14, edited 2 times in total.
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Blah, blah, blah Pioneers blah, blah, blah

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Jul 2013, 00:36

The speakers in our ward on Sunday talked about pioneer heritage, but they also talked about the root meaning of the word and how it applies to each of us, no matter our ancestry. One of them is the son of one of our Stake Presidency Counselors, and he read the classic quote about the Martin and Willey handcart companies that included the statement that it was wrong to leave as late as they did.

I don't mind that kind of focus at all around July 24th, and if it was limited to one Sunday a year . . . I could celebrate that. :P
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Ann
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Re: Blah, blah, blah Pioneers blah, blah, blah

Post by Ann » 24 Jul 2013, 00:58

Kumahito wrote: But how many Mormons today actually trace their heritage to those who came across the plains?
I don't, but where I live (U.S., not Utah), a lot. I don't bristle at Pioneer Day because I do think the church encourages everyone to know and love - or at least value - their ancestors, Utah pioneers or not. I like that about us.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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wayfarer
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Blah, blah, blah Pioneers blah, blah, blah

Post by wayfarer » 24 Jul 2013, 07:59

Sitting right now on the Days of 47 parade route, about 357 S 200 E, my DW loves parades....

Yeah, we went to the concert at the conference center, and the rodeo.... Pioneer Day is a big event here. My LDS ancestors came over in the later scandanavian immigration. There was really an amount of vision, courage and fierce determination that empowered our crazy ancestors to come to a god-forsaken desert and make a life.

I can't resist having the profoundest respect.

And then, today, there are Pioneers willing to stand against the bigotry and narrowness of institutional thinking and declare with one voice, we CAN accept diversity and unity with all...

Blessed, honored Pioneer, indeed!
"Those who speak don't know, those who know don't speak." Lao Tzu.
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On Own Now
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Re: Blah, blah, blah Pioneers blah, blah, blah

Post by On Own Now » 24 Jul 2013, 14:53

For me, the pioneer heritage, and I mean that in the broad sense, not the literal descendant sense, is one of the things I love about the Church. They did what we so often advocate: they voted with their feet.

I have long held that the Church isn't perfect, but that the people in the Church (for the most part) are amazing, caring, wonderful, dedicated, and hard-working people. The pioneers are the prototype.

I understand your frustration, because I often hear their story poorly presented. We can too often dwell on the melodramatic. We too often ascribe super-human-ness to the pioneers. But let me share a couple quotes from two of them. These were real people. They were poorly treated. Much was demanded of them. They overcame their trials in a major way. I'm glad to be part of their tribe:

Emily Partridge on leaving Missouri to find refuge in Illinois:
Mother put what she could of her effects into a wagon and, with her family, started for—well, anywhere out of the state of Missouri.

We were set down on the banks of the Mississippi River, opposite Quincy, and were again houseless and homeless, wandering in the cold and bleak winter weather, with scanty food and clothing. We pitched our tents and waited for an opportunity to cross the river. There were several families of Saints there when we arrived, and they were continually coming, so the bank of the river was dotted with tents, now the only home of the again exiled Saints. The wagons bringing families were unloaded and taken back for more of the Saints. When we crossed the river it was partly on the ice and partly in the ferry boat. The shore on the Quincy side of the river was lined with the inhabitants of that place, to witness the crossing over of the Mormon outcasts even the exiled Saints in midwinter. Perhaps many thought they were a strange people, or some kind of animals; not human beings like themselves, subject to sorrow and pain, cold and hunger and distress.

In all our wanderings and being driven, we have had to go out in the cold winter months, and the suffering of the people must have been very great. Children could not sense the awful reality of the situation as older ones did, on whose shoulders the burden rested. I sometimes look back upon those scenes with horror, and wonder how the Saints did continue to endure, time after time, such heartless cruelties. But many could not endure, and so found an early grave.

And now, in 1885, nearly all of the Saints that were living then have passed away, and the few that are living now are those that were children then, and they are becoming advanced in years, and it will not be very long and there will be none left living upon the earth to bear witness against the horrid deeds of the Missouri mob.
Her sister, Eliza, 8 and a half years later, in Wyoming:
August 20th Platte De Alton Lyman born, at about 6 o’clock on Sunday morning. This is the second son that I have had born in a wagon and I still think it is a most uncomfortable place to be sick in. He was born on the east bank of the Platte river opposite Fort John or Laramie. The journey thus far has not been very pleasant to me, as I have been very nearly helpless all the way, but it is all right, we are going from the land of our oppressors [to] where we hope to raise our children in the fear of the Lord and where they will never suffer by the hands of our enemies as we have done.

21st Crossed the Platte river. The rocks in the bottom are so large that it seemed sometimes as if they would tip the wagon over. I held fast the baby and sister Caroline held fast to me so that I was not thrown quite out of bed.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Blah, blah, blah Pioneers blah, blah, blah

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Jul 2013, 15:52

My wife's fourth-great-grandfather was one of the first two native Italian converts to the Church. (The journals simply record the day and not the order.) His ancestors had been the Waldensians - "The Poor" - who had been persecuted and killed by Catholic armies for 500 years for refusing to accept Catholicism. Those people were driven out of their Italian homeland time and time again, at one point almost becoming extinct, but they vowed never to leave for good - so they kept filtering back to their valley until the killing finally stopped. It was a sacred bond they had with that land, passed on for hundreds of years through intense hardship, suffering and death. If you want to read an amazing story of dedication, faith and dogged determination, their history is stunning. (Whenever I feel like being sorry for myself because I'm not understood, I think of them and immediately realize how self-centered and blown out of proportion that self-misery is.)

John Daniel Malan walked away from that sacred homeland and his kindred dead when the saints were asked to gather to Utah, largely because he chose to believe in a modern prophet, the Book of Mormon, the principle of vicarious ordinances and the eternal vision the missionaries preached. He did it largely as a sign of his devotion to his heritage and his belief that his new religion honored them in the fullest way imaginable.

I don't want obsession and fanaticism, but, as wayfarer said:
I can't resist having the profoundest respect (for him - and others like him).

Blessed, honored Pioneer, indeed!
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Roy
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Re: Blah, blah, blah Pioneers blah, blah, blah

Post by Roy » 24 Jul 2013, 16:53

I very much agree with what Ray and Way have said. I also believe that part of this is about our brand. Pioneers are part of our brand just like the angel Moroni.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

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mom3
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Re: Blah, blah, blah Pioneers blah, blah, blah

Post by mom3 » 24 Jul 2013, 22:40

We aren't the only religion who holds our "pioneers" in reverence.

The Amish are a much older faith, their pioneers, martyrs, etc. suffered hundreds of years earlier than ours, yet today in every Amish household the book cherished as much as the bible and hymnal is a book about the early persecuted martyrs. Their stories are retold and it's a book they teach from.

Learning that was really helpful for me. The part that does make it hard, is that as a world wide church the story isn't a personal. When it's not personal it can get very boring at the least. Because the Amish live in communities with each other, the story line remains vital.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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Kumahito
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Re: Blah, blah, blah Pioneers blah, blah, blah

Post by Kumahito » 25 Jul 2013, 17:11

Thanks, all, for your thoughts. Like i said, I grew up in the Church and am descended from pioneers. I heard story after story growing up. I've visited the sites in Utah, Wyoming, Council Bluffs, etc. I totally loved Pioneer Trek (see my comments on the other thread re: Pioneer Trek). I've just grown weary in hearing the same types of stories over and over and over. And now that I don't live within the shadow of the CoB - or even in the US, for that matter - the connection I feel to the pioneers is tenuous. I can only imagine how the Aussies, Polynesians, Kiwis and others in my ward relate to American settlers from the 1840s and 50s. I do understand, though, how and why others feel compelled by the pioneer stories of the ancestors.
"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all."
- Oscar Wilde

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