Wednesday, July 20, 2011

07: FOR THOSE WHO FOLLOW: Tribute to the Military instead of the Pioneers?

photo of a full page ad in the Deseret News
This weekend we celebrate Pioneer Day or what we refer to in Utah as the 24th of July. This day is to commemorate the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon Pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley after being forced from Nauvoo. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir have chosen an interesting theme this year for its performance in the sold out 21,000 seat Conference Center. The advertisement in the Deseret News appears that instead of honoring the pioneers… we will be paying tribute to those who serve in the U.S. military. It is ironic because it was largely due to the U.S. Government and military threat that our pioneer ancestors had to move out west.  Don’t get me wrong, it is important to pay tribute to the military and those who have sacrificed their lives in the fight for freedom. However …on another holiday. That is what the 4th of July is for me. Not sure why we are paying a militiary tribute on the 24th of July instead of the real reason we celebrate the 24th of July. It is kind of like going Trick or Treating on Thanksgiving. Two separate holidays for me.

I also think that paying tribute to “FOR THOSE THAT FOLLOW” is quite interesting. It is almost like a subliminal message for me. We as members of the church are exceptionally good at following. We are taught, sing and testify of the importance of following the prophet. It gives us security to know that we will never be led astray. We should be honored for following. I mean… we are the chosen people, right? Since the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, most of the LDS members who live in the greater Salt Lake Valley have now become Uber Americans,  Uber Republicans, Uber War on Terrorists supporters, and Uber Mainstream Christians. We have become  generally respected and admired. Two potential candidates for 2012 election for President of the USA are LDS leaders and successful businessman. Even more interesting is the new Award winning Broadway play about a Mormon missionary and tickets are sold out almost for an entire year in advance.

We have finally arrived.. we have become accepted.

Here are some an interesting quotes given by Brigham Young, the man largely responsible for why we celebrate the 24th of July:

“There is nothing that would so soon weaken my hope and discourage me as to see this people in full fellowship with the world, and receive no more persecution from them because they are one with them. In such an event, we might bid farewell to the Holy Priesthood with all its blessings, privileges, and aids to exaltations, principalities, and powers in the eternities of the Gods.” (Brigham Young, April 8, 1862, JD 10:32)

“And when the spirit of persecution, the spirit of hatred, of wrath, and malice ceases in the world against this people, it will be the time that this people have apostatized and joined hands with the wicked, and never until then; which I pray may never come.”(Brigham Young, May 31, 1857, JD 4:326-327)

I will end  with this quote by Spencer W. Kimball in his conference talk, "The False Gods We Worship".

“We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel -- ships, planes, missiles, fortifications -- and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become anti-enemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan's counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior's teaching.”

Please don’t get me wrong. I love those men and women who have died for our country. They deserve our respect and our love for preserving our freedom. So do the pioneers.  They both deserve their own holiday and concert tribute. Let’s keep the holidays separate.