|Let my people come to Deseret!|
"Christus", copy of statue sculpted by Bertel Thorvaldsen
|Mormon girl admiring Pioneer Monument on Temple Square, Salt Lake City|
|Mustangs in the sagebrush plains near San Juan|
|Joseph Smith receiving the golden plates from Angel Moroni|
Painting "The Hill Cumorah", by C.C.A. Christensen
|Plan for the City of Zion, sent in a letter to the Mormons in Independence, Missouri|
Source: Cornell University Library
|Pioneer wagon and cabin near Moab|
|The Dividing-Up of Utah Territory Source: Wikipedia|
|Painting "Mormon bids farewell to a once great nation", by Arnold Friberg|
|Balancing Rock in Arches National Monument|
|Mormon girls at Sabbath|
These specific characteristics stem from over 150 years back, when Brigham Young (mostly personally) initiated, planned and organized the settling of Deserete. Starting out from First Prophet's Plan for Zion, each new settlement was laid out according to that plan's essential characteristics: a quadratic lay-out, large streets and large plots. Furthermore, all the settlers were supposed to live within that quadratic compound, with the fields – individually owned, but collectively irrigated – lying outside. In such a way the Southwestern barren region was civilized in a manner that strongly resembles the rural village life practised in Feudal Europe – from its beginning and until the mid-fifties of last century. Of course, this doesn't mean anything to the Swedes among the readers, who already in the beginning of the 1700s had been driven out of their villages and been condemned, each of them, to live in splendid isolation in the middle of their fields, foregoing for evermore the pleasures of village life.
|Mormon farm outbuildings near Capitol Reef – Note Lombardy Poplars to the left|
But, biological advantages aside, life in those settlements provided for a rich social Community togetherness, even if planned and supervised by an authoritarian religious hierarchy. For the few hours of leisure from never-ending hard labors, there was no suppression of healthy entertainment, quite the opposite! Each settlement contained a Community Hall for singing, dancing, concerts and – of course – praying. Furthermore, life in the small did not mean a lack of perspective of the large. Each village had at least some members that had been overseas proselytizing and had come back with rich experiences from abroad to tell the backbenchers.
|Lombardy Poplars fencing in a field – sign of former Mormon settlement in Eastern Nevada|
I have to confess that it brings tears to my eyes, writing this; for am I not at heart a small boy raised in a small rural village just like this? The more so since this child paradise of mine is long gone and lost forever, swallowed by progress of time and progress itself? In the same way, the Mormon settlement of yore is gone and lost, having disappeared in the great American Equalizer of freeways, business districts and Hamburger bars. Yet, there is a difference between the two. My own village is still looking like it used to, give or take a house or two. It is the people who have changed (and been exchanged) and appear to have lost their sense of Communality. Whereas, granted that the Mormon village has been dissolved in the great but shallow sea of Mammon; the descendants of those villagers still appear to entertain a virtual village mentality. Or maybe this is wishful thinking from my part, having had scant contact with the Mormons of present day, and having learned about the village Mormons of yore solely through literature, above all from reading the historian Wallace Stegner.
|Lonely Church on Sagebrush Plain|
I am dedicating this post to my beloved former wife Alice Elviira Katariina Ems (b. Kuismin). She was a Saint when I first met her. May she rest in peace and be resurrected to the Heaven of her choosing!