Saturday, January 11, 2014

He May Have Copied His Mother

Joseph Smith
It appears that Joseph Smith Jr. may have copied his mother when he did what?

a.      Had a leg operation

b.      Prayed in a grove of trees

c.       Was visited by an angel

d.      Joined the Presbyterian Church

Yesterday’s answer:

a.      A 50 cent piece

Karl Maeser had always demanded excellence in everything. In the mid-1850s, he had attained the rank of vice-director of the Budich Institute, Neustadt, Dresden. Yet the young German educator, despite all his learning in selected subjects, had felt a woeful lack of learning about God and man’s purpose in life.

On occasion Karl had brooded over the lack of promise to his life. He once wrote during that era. “In that dark period of my life, when I was searching for a foothold among the political, social, philosophical and religious opinions of the world, my attention was called to a pamphlet on the Mormons. . .” He inquired by letter to mission presidents in Europe and in a short time converted to Mormonism, doing so in spite of the ignorance of the nearly illiterate Scottish missionary who had taught him.

Referring to the elders who had brought the gospel, N.L. Nelson observed: “Moreover, measured by the standards to which he was accustomed, they were sadly lacking in the principles of etiquette and good breeding—young men, in fact, whom it would be natural for such a type of man to have a contempt for. Surely, then, if Paul’s conversion was miraculous, Dr. Maeser’s must be called remarkable.”

By the time Dr. Maeser and his wife Anna, daughter of the Budich Institute director, had immigrated to America and settled in the Salt Lake Valley in the 1860s, the professor had accomplished tasks he had never seriously considered possible. He had served missions in Europe as well as the eastern United States, then had made the tedious trek west with Anna and their children to the valley, behind oxen pulling a friend’s wagon, inside of which were loaded a few of the Maeser’s belongings.    

In the primitive valley, Karl had lacked training in the usual skills of frontier life: “The spade, the shovel, and the axe were tools unknown to his birth and breeding.”

So naturally, Dr. Maeser had done the one thing he understood best. He had created a private school, which even a few of President Brigham Young’s children attended.

But things had not been going well for the Maesers. Students generally had paid their tuition in “kind,” meaning that they would give him eggs, milk, wheat and other commodities in trade for his teaching skills. After struggling along this way for a few years, Dr. Maeser had happened to be attending General Conference in 1867 when he had heard his name called to fill a mission back to his homeland. That had come as a surprise, but he accomplished the call.

When he had left Anna and the children, he had given his wife a fifty-cent piece. He then had departed without “purse or scrip.” On his return, frugal Anna gave back to him the fifty-cent piece with pride. She had actually prospered during his absence.

Keith Terry, Great Moments in Mormonism, (Maasai Publishing, 1996), 74-75.

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