“FYI: For Your Information,” New Era, Sept. 1977, 35–37
by Terri Jensen
When selected chapels in your stake are only ten minutes from the Bull Run battlefield of Civil War fame, 20 minutes from George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and 30 minutes from Washington, D.C., it’s only natural that your stake roadshows would bear the theme, “What’s More American?”
And for the newly formed Fairfax Virginia Stake, they did.
On March 16 and 17, 176 youths paraded up aisles to open their first annual roadshows with just that question. They carried with them 176 possible answers in the form of corn flake boxes, toothpaste tubes, footballs, baseball gloves, Christmas tree decorations, American flags, rock albums, peanut butter jars, and an array of other paraphernalia.
“What’s More American?” was asked in song. It was answered at the song’s conclusion with a unanimous shout, “I am!”
Once it was established that there’s nothing more American than Americans, each decade of our 20th century was introduced with narration and slides made from authentic pictures of the period. Among the 76 slides shown were the Wright Brothers’ first flight, Henry Ford’s Model T, and Scarlett O’Hara’s Tara.
Each ward roadshow was developed around a decade and immediately followed its slide introduction. Wakefield Ward opened the century with Teddy Roosevelt frantically searching for his missing daughter, Alice. Even the Pinkertons were called in to assist. But it all ended happily with Alice’s lavish wedding to Mr. Longworth. Manassas Ward brought 1910–1920 alive with the suffragette movement.
The 1920s gave Fairfax Ward a story line that included everything from crashing airplanes to flappers and gangsters. Charlie McCarthy, Edgar Bergen, and Shirley Temple were among those who helped Americans through the “Hard-Time 30s.” Prince William Ward brought them all to life with lavish imagination and costumes.
Warrenton Branch introduced the ’40s with a wartime laboratory that was trying to split the atom but ended up inventing the milk shake. Stuffing phone booths, doodling, and viewing 3-D movies didn’t make much sense to “square” Freddie of the 1950s. Woodbridge Ward showed Freddie finally finding someplace where he could excel so he was no longer considered a square. Fancy Foot Freddie and Boogie Woogie Betty ended the decade with a swinging rendition of the jitterbug.
The curtain closed. The combo began playing. Once again the Fairfax Stake young people marched up the aisles and began singing, “What’s More American?”
To accompany their singing, slides of the most American thing around were flashed on two large walls: The young people themselves were featured. They were hiking, laughing, running, playing, working, singing, picnicking, camping, painting, practicing, listening, serving, learning, wondering, stretching, yelling, swimming, eating, dancing, and praying.
After it was all over, church members may have driven past Bull Run, Mount Vernon, and Washington, D.C., on their journeys home. But the most American things in this area were still at the Fairfax chapel removing make-up and costumes.
At last—in published form you can buy a collection of New Era articles from the Q and A section of the magazine. They are some of the most popular of the series, and they are now all under one cover.
Young people have asked questions such as:
How can I know if I have a testimony?
Does God hear everyone’s prayers?
Should girls go on missions?
Why can’t I date when I am 15? I have nonmember friends who are permitted to date at this same age.
What kinds of activities are acceptable on the Sabbath?
Is it against Church standards to drink cola beverages or any other beverage containing caffeine?
And more—58 questions in all—answered by such people as Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder Marion D. Hanks, Elder Robert L. Simpson, Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, Bishop Victor L. Brown, and others.
This is a book that is ideal for young, investigating minds—inside and outside the Church.
Choose your size and your price. Choose whether you want to give it away to an investigator, stick it in your purse or pocket, put it on the shelf right next to all your other well-used books, or wrap up a dozen and send them to the missionaries for distribution to nonmembers. Then go and choose which new edition of the Book of Mormon you would like to buy. There’s a small, 3-by-5-inch version that fits in a back pocket with hardly a bulge. That costs $3.95. Then there’s the larger 4-by-7 inch copy ($1.00) that would be ideal for gift-giving. For people who like easy-to-read print, enjoy full-color illustrations, want lots of margin room for note-taking, and prefer the economy of a paperback, there’s the 7-by-10-inch version ($5.95). So decide on your purpose and how much you would like to spend, and then make your choice from among the three latest editions of the Book of Mormon.
Being a wife and mother (a good Latter-day Saint, creative, interesting, efficient, multi-talented) is really not an easy thing. Even if there does seem to be a myth going around that “it just happens,” “you just fall into it,” “some women have it, some don’t,” that’s not the way it really is. It’s work; it’s concentration; it’s a challenge. It involves skills of efficiency, of talent development, of personal refinement, of spiritual growth, and of creating successful family relationships. And Sister Day in her book, How to Be a Perfect Wife and Other Myths, has been realistic enough to admit that some—no, probably all—women have some hard trials ahead when they venture into marriage and child-rearing. But on the other hand, “at times we achieve, we soar, we transcend the mundane.” It’s exciting, enlivening, and even fun to be a homemaker. “Hold fast to those you love; not through control, but through warmth, acceptance, and understanding,” she admonishes, and then proceeds through the lightly humorous pages of her book to illustrate specifics and practical suggestions on how to be an ever-striving-for-perfection wife and mother.
The book is an ideal gift for mothers and possibly for young adults contemplating marriage. It could also give young people special insight into the lives their mothers lead.
In Yugoslavia, Ivan gets a visit from the Wisdom Man; in Norway, Marlin lives where the sun never rises for several weeks and then never sets; in Africa, Auboo gets a shirt made from very special material. These are just a sampling of the 23 children’s stories told in Children’s Stories from Around the World. And from around the world they are—from Austria, Samoa, Greece, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Cambodia, and other places with a great variety of customs and habits. Children will learn about different cultures while having fun and enjoying good literature. The book is a compilation of stories originally printed in the Friend magazine. It would be appropriate for gift-giving or for storytelling while tending younger brothers and sisters.
Some of the most thought-provoking passages in the scriptures are the encounters between believers and nonbelievers. For example, in Alma 11 Zeezrom disputes with Amulek, in Alma 30 the anti-Christ Korihor debates with Alma, and there are other examples. Such instances are usually attacks by the nonbelievers—they mean to confound, confuse, and disprove the doctrine of Christ. These same situations sometimes happen to today’s missionaries as they meet and teach people throughout the world.
In Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s book, Deposition of a Disciple, such a discussion is presented. There is one difference, however. The questioners in Elder Maxwell’s presentation are not after gain or power, nor do they delight in debate for debate’s sake—they are sincerely seeking truth. Elder Maxwell’s format is a dialogue between two deep-thinking questioners and a disciple of Christ. Through the questions asked and the answers given, one can see and begin to feel the intent and direction of a person who can truly be called a Christian. The two questioners represent two different types of people who might be considered honest seekers: first, a man already converted but seeking further knowledge; and second, a nonbeliever seeking truth yet cautious not to be “taken in.”
Perhaps all who read the book with a desire to learn could find themselves in one of these two categories. Perhaps the questions asked may be questions you would ask if given the chance. And perhaps there are answers given that could help a future missionary prepare for the questioner waiting in the mission field. The answers are enlightening and instructive and well worth the time it takes to read this concise book.
Although much has been said and written about the Prophet Joseph Smith, still another book is worth reading. It is by Francis M. Gibbons, and it covers the life of the Prophet from early childhood in the New England States to his martyrdom in Carthage Jail.
A great deal of the history of the Church is expanded through the pages of Joseph Smith: Martyr, Prophet of God. It is a thorough and interesting look at the life and labors of the Prophet as the Lord unfolded through him the fullness of the gospel. Brother Gibbons has used many accurate sources to complete this work on Joseph and has told the story of Joseph’s life in an easy-to-read, narrative style. Seminary students could use the book to supplement their studies when studying both Church history and the Book of Mormon.
Brother Gibbons is realistic in his treatment of the man and the prophet—expecting that even a man so devoted to the Lord had minor human deficiencies. He nevertheless shows Joseph in his unique position as the first Prophet of the last dispensation—and as such how he was molded by the Lord to fulfill his destiny.
Brother Gibbons gives a clear picture of the influences in Joseph’s life. For example, he discusses how Joseph’s family taught him reliance on prayer and how their support gave him courage through the persecution that faced him from the very beginning. A man of great character, Joseph Smith provides an example for our lives. We gain fresh hope and renewed dedication for living better as we see Joseph in all situations.
The book could be easily read by investigators of the Church, students of the gospel will find it engrossing, and people interested in that critical period in the history of the latter-day Church will want to read it also.