- PART SECOND.
- CHAPTER LIII. A CHAPTER OF OPINIONS.
|<< chapter 52||< chapter 1||chapter 54 >||chapter conclusion >>|
A CHAPTER OF OPINIONS.
ONE evening soon after Elsie found herself an heiress, a few friends (apostates) assembled to congratulate the young lady upon her good fortune. Naturally the conversation turned upon Mormonism and its problems; and as the conversers were those who understood the question practically, their opinions are worth noting.
"So, Miss Elsie, behold! you are a lady of fortune. I suppose you contemplate an immediate departure from Zion?"
"No, Mr. C--," I intend to remain. My lot has been cast among these people, and I consider it my | | 378 duty to labor among them. Perhaps I may be able to do some good. Would that I had the power to blot out from memory this anomalous creed!"
"Anomalous! that is an appropriate term. I declare, Mormonism is a mixture of everything good and bad--a regular jumble."
"Yes, it is cosmopolitan, like its mother country. A distinguished writer asserts that sects are the products of climatic influences. They can be geographically classed as the flora and fauna. As a demonstration of this, take this creed. We find that America, the land of the pine and the palm,--the land of pathless forests, whose giant trees embrace the stars, and of arid deserts where blade of grass never grew,--land of boundless prairie and cloud-wreathed mountain--land of hyperbole and utilitarianism--produces an anomalous sect, now borne on ideal wings over heavenly heights, now groveling in the lowest depths--reverencing truth and worshiping lies--chanting hymns to liberty whilst it throws itself under the wheels of the Juggernaut of despotism. A creed embodying the eccentricity, the intensity, the vitality, the rapid growth, the eye to the main chance that characterizes the youngest, yet the most powerful of the nations of the earth. As all races are represented in the great republic of the West, so are all sects in the creed born of her soil. Our friend just now remarked that Mormonism is a jumble; and certainly a glance at its various tenets gives the idea that its founders took from each one of the many great religious systems some salient feature, then, shaking them together, turned out the heterogeneous mass as a wonderful plan of salvation."| | 379
"Indeed it is so. One could laugh at it, were it not for polygamy. That is the foul blot."
"Polygamy is certainly a foul blot; but it is not the worst."
"Then what is?"
"The slavery of the human mind by the infallible potentate who pretends to be specially directed by God. Its blasphemy, forging God's name to its deeds of blood."
"True! polygamy, unsustained by these lies, would soon fall to the ground. As it is, society is righting itself."
"Yes; many former enthusiasts consider it now as a social experiment, which has failed: Women are recovering from the temporary aberration of mind, the exaggerated self-sacrifice, which induced them to uncrown themselves, and yield to man the spiritual prerogatives they won at Bethlehem and at Calvary. And man begins to see that in thus depriving woman of her influence he sacrifices his moral growth. It is woman that elevates man. The pagans, the barbarians of the Dark Ages felt this. They had their Isis, their Minerva, their Diana, the savages of the North their Friga,--while brighter than all shines that most beautiful Ideal, that sweet queen of civilization, the Virgin Madonna, at whose shrine the mailed barbarian learned the first lessons of love, purity, and meekness. Mother, wife and home--devotion, love and peace. Polygamy blights all this."
"Good! But there is a reason deeper than these why polygamy must die. Progress, whose course is irresistible, must uproot it, because the system is, | | 380 directly antagonistic to the idea of the century, which is the equality of the sexes."
"True; and to illustrate how irresistible is progress, how it is helped along, even by its greatest obstacles, I say that polygamy is doing a work towards the equalization of the sexes; because it destroys the dependence of woman upon man. A plural wife has really no protector; she is obliged to look out for herself, seek her own amusements, fight her own battles, and often obliged to support herself and children. Thus it makes woman independent in spite of herself. It teaches them their own power, it kills their veneration for man. Again: the Church, for selfish motives, has given to women the ballot. For some years yet this concession will make no difference save to increase the Church power; but slowly women will begin to think (as they now are forced to act) for themselves; gradually they will throw off their yoke--the number of rebellious will increase. Mormonism will become a sect differing but little from many others. Its horrible features will die out, and, when Utah becomes a State, society will gain a body of good, active, self-reliant women, whose influence will be of immense value to reform."
"Yes, and polygamy has also prevented many from joining this Church, which, under a lamb's fleece, hides a wolf's heart; Look at its record! It has scarcely existed fifty years, yet its victims number many hundred."
"Right, Sister; it is a barbarous organization. How could we ever have joined it?"
"We did not join this Church. The one we joined preached only Reform, and the re-establishment of the Covenant. It wanted to renew the golden age of the | | 381 past. We were educated in adoration of the past. The heroes we worshiped, the miracles we believed, the teachings we revered, belonged to the far past. Was it any wonder, then, that we were dazzled by the picture of a New Jerusalem; that our ears listened enraptured to the charmed words: Apostles, Prophets, Covenants, Patriarchal society? The next thing we knew, we were fast relapsing into barbarism. Patriarchal systems did well for patriarchal ages but not for the nineteenth century. Thank God, our eyes are opened."
"And now let us fight it to the bitter end."
"Take care, my friends," said Brother Menly. "Enthusiasm is a rash guide. Remember that although like cures like, yet crime will not remedy crime. Invective will do no good. Loud talking even, is hurtful. The way to combat this barbaric delusion, is to educate the people above it. You must elevate their moral tone, inspire them with a love for the beautiful. Flowers, music, books, tasteful dress, these are the weapons that will destroy the Mormonism taught in the Tabernacle. The usurper has overreached himself for once. In his desire for wealth, he has hastened on the railroad. Every time I hear the shrill whistle of the locomotive, I exclaim, 'Harken to the 'death-knell of Mormonism!' Civilization and progress have found us out. Already there is in our midst a quiet little school, modestly doing a great work. It is the herald of many others. And these teachers are the veritable apostles of Utah."
"Then I will become one of those teachers," cried Elsie. "To-morrow I will enter the school. Once before I thought of it, but now I am determined."| | 382
"And what about a certain Stanly Delville? He may object to such an apostolate."
"Then he would be unworthy of woman's love. But he will not object. I can answer for him; and when the time comes for us to marry, we will strive to be an example of the true monogamic celestial marriage, in which husband and wife lovingly help and support each other--one in strength, one in purpose; and that purpose to do good."
"When all women act upon that principle, the world will be reformed," replied Brother Menly.
|<< chapter 52||< chapter 1||chapter 54 >||chapter conclusion >>|