Thursday, August 13, 2015


Mankind is inclined toward idolatry. People turn from following Christ to following men whenever attention is drawn to a man.  We build monuments to immortalize men who have acquired power on this earth. Statues in bronze and marble enshrine images of men who are considered supreme leaders in their country.. Larger than life statues are placed in public city squares for all to see. While many will say these statues help us to remember and pay tribute to these men, it actually  is a form of idolatry. Often great men are made into idols. That is not what is to happen. It is even more of a perversion for men to set themselves up as idols, to be followed as if they were God.

Left: The statue of Lenin in the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine.  Right: The statue of Kim Il-Sung in the capital Pyongyang.
The socialist and communist countries are not the only countries who build large statues of prominent men and place them in the middle of their city squares. It is not uncommon to see statues of men here in the USA. Below is one in my own city of Salt Lake.
Photo taken on August 14, 2015

I recently told my friend of a historic photograph that I saw hanging on a wall in downtown Salt Lake. It is a photo of a triumphant archway that was built in the early 1900's that frame this large statue of Brigham Young. It was called the No Ni Shee Arch. Here is a photo I took of it.

When I mentioned this photograph,  my friend told me about a book called Pioneer Prophet written by John G Turner. My friend shared with me the following:

The author Turner concludes that there were two sides to Brigham Young.  

The first Brigham was a great missionary and a loyal friend and ally to Joseph Smith. When church members and even church leaders were apostatizing in great numbers in the later Kirtland years, Brigham fiercely defended Joseph and his status as a prophet.
The death of Joseph Smith ushered in the era of what Turner characterizes as "The second Brigham". This Brigham wrested control over the church as the senior most member of the Quorum of the Twelve and became quite comfortable, even consumed, with the power that he had claimed for himself. As charismatic as he was autocratic, he was viewed by his followers as an indispensable protector and by his opponents as a theocratic, treasonous heretic. During the reformation of 1850's George D. Watt, a church clerk from Provo, said the following, "Brigham Young is an absolute monarch and it is his right to be so...if Brother Brigham tells us to do anything we should not question his right to dictate to us in every thing." (This represents a stark contradiction to and departure from the doctrine that Joseph Smith taught - which is to teach the people correct principles and let them govern themselves.)

 Additionally, the manner of Joseph’s death had made this second Brigham paranoid about what could happen to him, and so he used his power and influence to inspire a culture that accepted his word as law, no questions asked. For instance, in December 1846, he said to the members of their camp: "You must stop your backbitings, speaking evil of the twelve, speaking evil of me...Or you will be damned." He reminded the Saints numerous times that dissent has caused their first prophet his life and he would not tolerate it in any form whatsoever. On one occasion he said, "Brother Joseph, being a very merciful man bore with these things until it took his life, but I will not do it." This culture of absolute obeisance created by Young had dire consequences for those who dissented or disagreed, and had fatal consequences for the victims of the Mountain Meadows massacre, an event that was the product of the vengeful iterations of Young and other church leaders and possibly by the doctrine of blood atonement as taught by Brigham Young (although Brigham Young did not authorize the massacre, he is in part responsible because of the culture that he created). 


Brigham Young died on August 29, 1877. Sixteen years later a twenty five foot monument was build and placed on the Southeast corner of  the Salt Lake Temple. Without a doubt, Brigham Young did some amazing things for the LDS Church. He has been called the Modern Day Moses.

However, I don't think the Israelites would have erected a larger than life statue of Moses and placed it on the South East corner of their temple in Jerusalem. If they did, we would think of them as idolaters. Not sure what the Lord would have done since He wasn't very happy with them building a small golden calf.

In the Book of Mormon, Nephi's brother Jacob said, "Yea, who unto those that worship idols, for the devil of all devils delighteth in them." (2 Ne. 9: 38.) That is why we are never to allow any man or group of men to get between us and God. God alone is worthy of worship. If you put another man or institution between you and God, you are the delight of the devil of all devils, for he has made you his.


Anonymous said...

I want to first begin by stating that I love and respect Brigham Young for his many strengths. I don't assume I'd do better than him given the same situation.

It was interesting to me to read many discourses from the first volume of the Complete Discourses of Brigham Young last week. It was shocking to me that there was indeed a different tone in his words before the death of Joseph and afterward.

He even turned Sidney Rigdon over to the buffetings of Satan in Nauvoo and before they left Nauvoo, in another discourse, asked nothing more than for the people to obey him and do what he tells them. I was reading them at the library and therefore don't have the citations.

All this before he was even elected President of the Church, not that there's an allowance for that, but it was more surprising to me.

We are all error filled and know so much less than we think. It's the Lord we solely depend on, not Joseph, Brigham, or anyone else for that matter.

Simon said...

Nothing like scripture for promoting imaginary boogeymen.

Speaking of statues, the Joseph and Emma statue over at Temple square is not misleading at all! I hope the LDS Church will get an artist to make at least 33 more statues to represent the wives that the LDS Church will admit that Joseph Smith had. Having a physical representation of each woman would very educational. I would hope that the statues would be representative of the actual age of women especially the teenagers.

Taylor said...

Barerecord, I take it your photo of the Brigham statue intentionally had the statue of angel Moroni in the background?

Anonymous said...

I guess you should remove any picture and/or paintings you have of anyone because it may be deemed as idol worship. moroni on the Kirkland temple was clearly a mistake on joseph's part. how arrogant of moroni to write his understanding of the gospel. after all, who is he when compared to others of his time. your many comments in regards to the want-to-be restorationalist could be construed as idol worship.

showing respect for what one has done for others is not idol worship. it wasn't brigham who asked that the statue be erected. do you think it was tithing money that was used for the work.

have you noticed the lack of thought that comes from the very few people that comment to your post. it seems like you are attracting people that spend most of their time wondering which way is up. maybe you should direct your comments at a level that attracts a more sophisticated crowd.


Thank you for being one of the few who makes comments on this blog.. and to answer your question, YES, I have noticed the lack of thought that comes from SOME of the very few people that comment. :)

Just to be clear, I don't write blog posts to gain an audience or for online readers to post comments. So whether I get 0 comments or 100 comments it really is irrelevant to me.

Jim O'Rullian said...

Sorry. Just had to throw in a late comment here in response to an absurd and rather unsophisticated previous comment on this post. As far as I know, the best way to show respect for what one has done is to emulate what came from them. By so doing, you bring honor to the person and in a very real sense, their work lives on. If their works were great, then yours will be too and likewise if their works were not so great, it becomes apparent very quickly through you as well. Statues and monuments erected to ourselves are unnecessary and distracting and will all be thrown down in due time.

I can't think of any scriptural precedence for statue and monument building and I'm pretty sure Moroni didn't ask for his likeness to adorn the tops of our Latter-day temples either. And yes, whether it's an actual tithing dollar or derivative thereof, these church owned building projects all divert money away from much more worthy places.

We will all stand before the Lord very soon in accountability for what we have done, how we have spent our time and who we have followed and endorsed. We should be realistic with ourselves in what we think we can and cannot defend.


Thanks for comment. Better late than no comment at all. :)