Our Readers Write
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“Our Readers Write,” Ensign, Apr. 1971, 72

Our Readers Write

Your reaction to the Ensign generally or to specific articles will be welcome. Space will not permit the publication of every letter nor of the entire contents of many letters, but every effort will be made to fairly represent those views expressed.

Positive Response


Congratulations on the Ensign magazine. The contents are inspirational, uplifting, and steadying; the artwork is superb. I thoroughly enjoyed this first issue and am sure the ensuing issues will be equally satisfying to the reader.

Helen Pearson
Williams, Arizona


I have carefully gone through the new magazines, and I think they are magnificent. I would just like to congratulate you sincerely on the outstanding job you all have done, and best wishes for the future.

Elder Mark E. Petersen
Salt Lake City, Utah


We have greatly enjoyed reading the first two issues of the Ensign. If it is possible, it surpasses the Era as we have known it through the years.

Ward C. Holbrook
Bountiful, Utah


I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those hard-working people who are responsible for our lovely new magazine, the Ensign. I was sorry to see the old magazines go, but I knew you would have something better in store for me. Your magazine helps to keep me on the right road and gives me direction and answers to questions and prayers.

Joan Drummond
Lone Pine, California


Beautiful and awe-inspiring are the words I feel toward the Ensign and Friend, to which I am a subscriber. They are put on display in our home proudly because of the graceful refinement they portray to us.

Venla K. Nielsen
Mesa, Arizona


The second Ensign came today. I wasn’t expecting it, but it was—is—welcome indeed. The January issue thrilled us. With this issue the thrill—a super tingling satisfaction—grows deeper. All printed matter and illustrations appeal to the head and heart. There is nothing now with the dollar sign ($).

J. Sedley Stanford
Logan, Utah


I can’t tell you how thrilled we are over the new magazine. Living in the mission field makes you more aware of the wonders of the Church, and the inspiration sent to us through the magazines is a major part of it. Thank you so much!

Gaye D. Horsley
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

A Missionary Tool


In spite of my constant good intentions, I have never before written a letter of praise (or criticism) to any organization or publication. But I am greatly moved to do so now, having just received our family’s first copy of the new Ensign. I couldn’t help wondering over the past several months, as the new Church magazine program was discussed, how the old faithful publications that we’ve enjoyed so much could possibly be improved upon. And now I can see how and why, and I am so deeply thrilled with the result. The new magazine is so beautiful and so excellent—I’m filled with too many superlatives to mention! We are so proud of this magazine, to have it to share with several friends who are investigating the gospel, and I did want you to know how I—and those I have talked to—feel. We are a young family, with two preschool boys, and we are isolated in many ways from much of the fellowship and inspirational programs of the Church, so the message of the Ensign is even more to be treasured. Again, our sincere thanks, our solid support, and our prayers for continued excellence in this work.

Sydne R. Miles
Lahaina, Hawaii


I have so enjoyed a gift subscription this past year to your wonderful magazine, the Improvement Era, that I would now like to subscribe to all three of your new publications. “The Spoken Word” by Richard L. Evans, the timely articles by Dr. G. Homer Durham, articles by Lowell L. Bennion, the poetry, even the recipes for good cooking, and so many other wonderful features have made the Era a welcome guest in my home each month. May I make a suggestion? I know you are taking subscriptions through your ward and branch representatives, but would it be possible for your publications to include a card or advertisement on occasion to allow for individual subscriptions for your friends and neighbors who have no connection with your local representatives? You might be surprised at the number of people who over the years “stumble” onto magazines like the Era and might wish to subscribe. Thank you for good reading.

The Reverend Paul E. Bourne
Queens Village, New York

We appreciate the Reverend Bourne’s response to the Church magazines and invite Church members to read the editorial on page 81 concerning this topic.

On Advertising


Please accept my congratulations on your excellent magazine, the Ensign. Not only do the articles inform and inspire me, but the format is so beautiful it is a real pleasure to see. Best of all, you no longer follow the example of the commercial magazines that publish such offending advertisements.

Leah Jorgensen


Your first editorial invited constructive response. On the whole I could find little wrong with the magazine, but I did lament the total lack of advertisements. Perhaps this is a strange complaint to make, but living in the mission field, I had come to appreciate many of the advertisements found in the Era. Not living in an area of dense Latter-day Saint population, I can see no way in which I can continue to make myself aware of the Church-oriented products of your former advertisers (books, genealogical supplies, fund-raising projects). I would like to see at least a small portion of the Ensign devoted to fulfilling this need.

Gary D. Palmer
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Matter of Style


I would like to first say that I enjoy reading the Ensign. In fact, during my recent tour of military service, I would often drop all I was doing in order to read the Church magazine. It is because I respect this magazine as representative of high quality, good taste, and good caliber that I write to possibly correct an oversight in the spelling of certain words. For some time now I have noticed that the pronouns he, his, and him, when referring to God the Father, are not capitalized. I believe that as a rule of spelling such words should be so.

Paul F. Rondina
Provo, Utah

The First Presidency has directed that we use the style of the scriptures in determining capitalization style. Since the pronouns referring to Deity are lowercase in the scriptures, we follow this style. One of the most widely used style guides in publishing today, A Manual of Style published by the University of Chicago, also advocates lowercasing pronouns referring to Deity unless the antecedent is ambiguous.

“Parents …”


Your article in the February issue, “Parents—Are You Listening?” may just as well have been stated, “God, Are You Listening?” Are we as children going to tell God what we want to do and how we want to act? It seems to me that God gave the commandments, and if we expect the blessings we have to keep the same. The generation gap is not between the parents and the children. It is between the children and God.

Herman Heinecke
Midvale, Utah


I find the Ensign to be enjoyable reading, but “Parents—Are You Listening?” is a parade of the imperfections of parents from unsigned letters.

Rhoda Thurston
Hyde Park, Utah

Government’s Role


I am very enthused about the new Church magazines, especially the Ensign. As branch magazine representative, I find it very easy to sell subscriptions to this magazine. I would like to comment about an article in the January issue. “In the Hearts of Conspiring Men” discusses two principles: (1) each individual is responsible for his own welfare, and (2) the government is responsible for the individual’s welfare. As Mormons we recognize the first principle to be God’s way. The second principle is Satan’s way. In this case the government is forcing the tobacco companies to stop advertising on radio and television. Students of the divinely inspired Constitution of the United States will recognize such a law as unconstitutional. Tobacco is not good for man; neither is destruction of the Constitution.

Charles Wassum III
Ft. Stewart, Georgia


G. Homer Durham, in his article “Human Resources Development” in the January issue, puts forth the socialist view of the financing of education: “Federal aid to higher education in the United States will be necessary if projected needs for high talent manpower are to be met.” The conclusion of Harbison and Myers, quoted by Dr. Durham, is incorrect; we already have federal aid to higher education in the United States, as Dr. Durham undoubtedly knows. Equal space should be provided, especially in a magazine of a church that holds as one of its tenets the belief that the Constitution is God-given, for the constitutional view. We know that what the federal government funds it controls. As a result, our so-called public schools are no longer agencies of parents, established to help parents fulfill their responsibility of properly educating their children.

Mrs. Robert James
Bakersfield, California


In reference to G. Homer Durham’s article in the January issue, “Human Resources Development,” he cites a study by Harbison and Myers in which they place the United States at the top of a list of nations arranged in order of their “development of people and the organization of human activity.” Then he tries to draw the conclusion that the U.S. government will have to take on a much larger share of the financing of education in this country, and says that we are the only major country to finance education largely through private resources and state and local governments. Now it seems to me that if the U.S. is at the top of the list, that should give some indication that the methods presently being used are exemplary. Why should a switch be made to a system of federalized education that has put other nations in a less advantageous position?

Mrs. Arlene Oldham
Sacramento, California

Arab-Israeli Conflict


The general quality of the new Ensign is outstanding, with the exception of the article “Arab-Israeli Conflict” in the January issue. This article showed an anti-Israeli bias in such statements as that appearing on page 24 where the author, in discussing the event that led up to the 1967 war, states that the massive troop build-up of the Egyptians was merely motivated by a desire to prevent the Israelis from attacking. The request by the Egyptians for the removal of the United Nations peace-keeping forces from this area hardly supports such an argument. I realize that the author was trying merely to give the reader a secular background of the current problem, but not only did his pro-Arab, anti-Israeli bias show through in several spots, but he failed in his attempt to give the reader a proper background in understanding the events that are now occurring in the Middle East precisely because in his account he ignored the scriptures.

Larry R. Stucki
San Bernardino, California


As a non-Jew and non-Arab but born in Palestine and raised there, I have for over twenty years been looking for a balanced article about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Your article in the January 1971 Ensign is the first one I have found in all these years that discusses the subject fairly. Thank you for a difficult job well done in a few concentrated pages. Such work gives authority to a superb magazine.

Paul H. Kraiss
Hempstead, New York

Reaction to Articles


I realize your job is a mammoth one—trying to please all the adults of the Church with one magazine when they have been used to three. No doubt you would like to know what people like. You have a wealth of articles so there should be enough room for everyone. Will you please devote more space to articles with practical help for younger people, for those who are still raising their families, and for women. I miss the homemaking section from the Relief Society Magazine and the articles on teaching from the Instructor. I felt the first issue was a little preachy—on a high, lofty, intellectual plain.

Marjorie Sorensen
La Mirada, California


I want first to express my appreciation for the new magazine, the Ensign. It is truly wonderful. I don’t know when I’ve been more moved than by the article in the February 1971 issue, “My Walk With God,” by Sister Carla Sansom.

Louise Jones
Salt Lake City, Utah


I wish to point out an error that may seem trivial to you but is important to the thousands of Latter-day Saints who are either living in the state of Hawaii or who have close affectional ties to the Aloha state. On page 76 in the “Programs and Policies Newsletter” of the February Ensign it was stated that a Japanese Regional Representative who lives in Hawaii was one of the four representatives living outside of the United States. Hawaii is part of the United States. It has been a state for twelve years. I want to assure you, however, that I enjoy the Ensign and that it is a wholesome, upbuilding, and highly informative magazine. It has met my expectations, and I congratulate you and your staff for a job well done.

Max E. Stanton
Memphis, Tenn.


I would like to comment on the article “Nutrition: A to Z” in the February Ensign. Since I had just finished reading Elder John A. Widtsoe’s book on the Word of Wisdom, I was looking forward to more information in the article in the Ensign. I was very disappointed. I suggest that we should be teaching the people more along Brother Widtsoe’s interpretation of nutrition. For example, meat should be eaten but sparingly, and yet nutritionists in the world encourage its use daily. Whole grains should be used over white, enriched grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables are far better than canned, prepared foods. I do not claim to be an expert in this field, but I do wish your publication would be instrumental in guiding members of the Church in correct eating habits based on revelation.

Sharon Maynard
Fairview, Utah

More Reactions

Dear President Smith:

My son, Timothy, is after me again this morning to write you a letter of thanks for speaking to him over the record you have placed for all of us to hear in the first issue of the Ensign.

From the first time we played your voice over our stereo set, my son has to hear you at least four times a day. It seems that all he can say is, “Mommy, I want to hear the man’s voice again.”

As a father writing this letter, I thank you for touching my family’s hearts and minds with this new magazine.

(By the way, my son, Timothy, is not quite three years old.)

The Thorsens
Phelps, New York


Your January magazine is fabulous. If subsequent issues can keep pace with this one, the four-dollar subscription price is a bargain. Every article is instructive and inspirational.

I have one question: When are cousins “near” cousins, and when are they “distant”? On page 37 (lefthand column) Dr. Arrington refers to George A. Smith as a “distant” cousin of the Prophet Joseph. Their fathers were brothers—how much more cousinly can you get?

The account of the Prophet’s human qualities was tops. That one statement startled me.

M. W. Smith
Provo, Utah


I thoroughly enjoyed the recent article on the organization of the Church which appeared in the January issue of the Ensign. The content, both written and pictorial, was excellent.

If I may, I would like to point out one minor historical discrepancy. On pages 52–53 you identify a baptismal sequence with the caption, “Several people who attended the meeting ‘came forward shortly after and were received into the Church.’ These paintings portray the wife and mother of the Prophet preparing to be baptized.”

The inference is that both the wife and mother experienced baptism at the time the Church was organized. It’s interesting to note that Emma Smith was baptized at Colesville, Broome County, New York, in the month of June, 1830, rather than in April. (See DHC 1:87–88.) The Journal History in the Church Historian’s Office indicates a date of June 14, 1830, while the Utah Genealogical Magazine, 26:101, specifies her baptism as occurring on June 29, 1830.

Perhaps your only inference was a general time period and that the two baptisms were not necessarily simultaneous. In that case, discount everything stated above.

Larry C. Porter
Provo, Utah


I have just perused, with great interest, my copy of your first issue. I have nothing but praise for you and for it.

I am particularly interested in a comment you make on page 44 about the “incorporators of the church.” I have had a casual interest in Church history for years and spent some time looking through early records of the state of New York. I have never been able to find any evidence that the organization of the Church complied with the “laws of our country,” save that there were six present. So far as I can tell no papers were filed, which is ordinarily the next step.

William L. Knecht
Berkeley, California

The use of the word “incorporators” in the article was probably an inappropriate choice of language.


Just received my new Ensign and would like to compliment you and your staff on a very fine magazine.

The story on Joseph Smith and the paintings and drawings are so beautiful, I can’t express my true feelings in words.

I hope we subscribers will see a lot more of William Whitaker’s work. It is outstanding. His work is what I would call real art, not this phony modern junk I see in so many other places.

Betty S. Andrasko
El Cajon, California


I had a very pleasing and gratifying experience today. I received the first copy of the new Church publication, the Ensign. In the first place the title is most appropriate and satisfying. Then to find no advertisements was most gratifying. I had an immediate overpowering feeling that a most welcome change had come. I read President Smith’s article, which confirmed my sense of feeling. This was greatly augmented when I discovered the record, played it, and got the superb messages.

Some time ago, when I received notice of the increase in the subscription price to four dollars and that the three dollars I had sent was insufficient to cover my subscription until the end of the year, I decided to discontinue our subscription. Now after hearing the recording and reading some of the Ensign, I am sending herewith one dollar to complete this year’s subscription and an additional four dollars to extend it another year. I have in my possession nearly every copy of the Improvement Era since 1913.

Heber S. Nelson
Wilmington, Delaware


Thank you! The January issue of the Ensign is more than great. We are eagerly anticipating the February issue.

Our family is particularly fond of the article “Six + One = Six.” We are able to identify with David, even though our foster child is a girl. We would like to congratulate the author and thank him for expressing those moments that all foster parents of the Indian program share.

Duane and Sharon Bingham
Tucson, Arizona


We wish to express our appreciation to you and the staff for the beautiful first copy of the Ensign. We especially appreciated the article by Margaret Rampton Munk, “Parenthood: The Other Way.”

Sister Munk’s article is one we have looked for in a Church periodical every time a new one comes off the press. Thank you for the inspiration expressed through articles like Mrs. Munk’s in the Ensign.

Gene and Ann Jones
Forest Grove, Oregon


Like many others my first reaction to the news of the change in the Church magazines was one of mixed feelings, especially with the thought of no longer receiving the beloved Relief Society Magazine. My doubts were promptly dispelled upon receiving the first issue of the Ensign. I sat down to look it over and found myself reading it almost from cover to cover in one sitting.

It seems as if almost every article was written just with me in mind. Truly your new magazine answers the needs of Church members everywhere. It is “relevant,” to use a word often spoken today. But that word has significant meaning to Church members for it signifies something has been revealed, and surely it has. God bless you in your continued efforts.

Mrs. R. M. Tweedie
San Jose, California


I just wanted to tell you the Ensign is everything I hoped for and more. The variety of articles pertaining to total experience in life provided many answers and raised many thoughts regarding world issues.

As a counselor, I particularly appreciated in the January issue the articles “The Church Focuses on Social and Emotional Problems,” by Elder Marvin J. Ashton, and “Principles in Conflict,” by Quinn G. McKay. It was good to see such friends as Wendell J. Ashton and Richard L. Evans remain.

Lena M. Taylor
Sea Level, North Carolina


Much has been heard in the past weeks about the new Church magazines, and in receipt of the January Ensign we see some hope for more helpful and instructive information. At the same time we plead for great care in guarding against untruths and errors. In many places outside the scriptures the Savior is made to appear as forgiving the woman taken in sin. The Inspired Version of the Bible and the King James translation convey the message: “Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.” As for forgiveness, the texts are silent. The record does not tell of forgiveness being asked or given. And yet the Quinn G. McKay article in the January issue, “Principles in Conflict,” tells of the Savior “when he forgave the adultress.” Clearly that sectarian line is out of place.

Joseph M. Flake
San Carlos, Arizona


I am enjoying the Ensign very much. The article on Hinduism by A. Burt Horsley is most interesting to me. I hope this series of articles will continue. It would be helpful if there were a short summary of the highlights of the teaching of each religion reviewed and its comparisons with the teachings of the Mormon Church.

Ralph Martin McGrath
Mesa, Arizona


Yesterday my February issue of the Ensign arrived. I have been enjoying it greatly, and I do want to congratulate you on this splendid new magazine of the Church—magnificent in every way.

I like the make-up, the fine style of type used, and the projection that it reflects on each page of reading matter. The splendid artwork and the photographs are so clear and unusual. I especially enjoyed the article “Freedom and/or Security” by Arvo Van Alstyne. Also, the fine editorial “Selfishness” has a forcible impact upon one who reads it—concise, well said, and attractive to the eye.

Ralph R. Mahlum
South Pasadena, California