Wednesday, October 30, 2013

History of the Jack o'Lantern

Jack Pumpkinhead
Stingy Jack was not a nice man, but he was a clever fellow.  Twice he tricked the devil, and won a concession from the devil that he would not take his soul when he died.  God would not allow such an unsavory character into heaven, and the devil could not have him, so Jack's soul was left to wonder on earth.  The devil sent him off with one coal to light his way, and Jack put this into a carved out turnip.  He was called Jack of the Lantern, and then Jack o' Lantern.  In Ireland and Scotland people began making their own lanterns, hallowing out turnips and potatoes and carving faces.  These the put in their windows to keep Jack and other evil spirits away.  When people immigrated to the United States, they found the pumpkin, and American fruit, perfectly suited for their Jack o' Lanterns.  In America we have our own Jack characters.  The Disney version of Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" has the headless horseman throw his Jack o'lantern head at Ichabod Crane.  In the Oz series we have Jack Pumpkinhead who replaces his head with a fresh pumpkin whenever his seeds start to spoil.  He maintains a pumpkin field for this task.  More recently we have Jack Skellington of Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas." 
most taken from history website

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The History Of Halloween

Halloween started as a Celtic Festival of Samhain.  It is a period shrowded in mystery as days start to get shorter.  It was the end of the harvest season.  People would wear masks and costumes, and light big bonfires to ward off ghosts.  In the 8th century, the pope declared Nov. 1 to be all saints or martyrs day.  Eventually this day became know as All-hallowmas, and the night before as All-hallows eve or Halloween.  It was felt the Church supported these holidays to supplant the Celtic Holidays. 
In the United States, Halloween was not generally celebrated.  However in the 19th century, with immigration from Ireland and other areas, this holiday was carried to the United States.  In the early 1900s the holiday was changed to become more a family oriented celebration.  Vandalism and tricking which was a part of the holiday began to disappear. 
One other interesting aspect of old Halloween was the idea that this night you were closer to the spirits, and consequently they could help guide you.  Many women used this night to try and determine who their future husband might be.
This few notes are taken from

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Movie Review: Mission of the Shark: The Saga of the USS Indianapolis (1991)

This movie makes the story of the USS Indianapolis more real.  It also shows the pressures put upon the captain.  Stacy Keach portrays Captain McVay, Richard Thomas portrays the ship's doctor, David Caruso portrays Captain Wilkes, in charge of the Marines who are guarding the special cargo that the Indianapolis is carrying.  This cargo was the atomic bomb.  The ship arrived safely, and completed their mission.  However in returning they were torpedoed and sunk.  Of the 1200 crew, only about 350 survived.  Many more would have been saved, had there been a quicker response from the Navy in terms of rescue.  Their failure to report was not reported.  They were only discovered randomly by a plane.  Even so there was not much that could be done until help arrived.
One of the most drastic episodes takes place when the Captain talks to the Chaplain as a boat is arriving.  He was taking a turn in the water, as there were not enough life boats for everyone.  The Captain touches him and discovers he is dead, his lower half having been eaten by a shark.
One of the other things that this movie shows is some of the gangish behavior of the crew.  Some had a few supplies of food they hid rather than sharing.  There was also a conflict over who should be in the life boats.  There were a couple of murders shown.  Wilkes was drowned as he tried to maintain some order.  This included trying to keep people from drinking the sea water.
This movie concludes with showing the trial and court-martial of Captain McVay.  Carrie Snodgrass portrays his wife.  The Captain visits the men in the infirmary after they are rescued.  It portrays graphic sunburns and other skin conditions as a result of being in the sun, and their privations over the five days they were in the water.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Book Review: In Harms Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors

This book was written in 2001 and published by Henry and Holt.  This book tells the story of the ship which transported the atomic bomb Mariana Island where the Enola Gay was waiting for the atomic attack on Horoshima.  The bomb was delivered successfully, but it was the secrecy around their mission that lead to tragedy on their return trip.  The USS Indianapolis was hit by torpedo fire from a Japanese submarine and sunk.  It would take five days for them to be rescued.  1200 men were on the ship, 300 died with the initial attack, 900 men would enter the water.  Of these 900, a few more than 300  would be rescued.  These men would be subject to lack of water, shark attack, hypothermia and any number of methods of dying.
This book is made more interesting by the results after the rescue.  Never before had a Captain been court-martialed as a result of his ship being sunk.  Captain Charles McVay III was court-martialed for failing to zig-zag which may have protected the ship.  However the Japanese captain, as well as a submarine expert indicated this would not have med any difference.  There was a bit of embarassment because of the amount of time between sinking and rescue.  McVay was blamed, but distress message was sent.  There late arrival was not reported, and several reprimands were issued, which were later with drawn.  McVay would eventually end his life by suicide.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Biography of L Frank Baum

The story of L Frank Baum is very fascinating.  He had tried many different trades, including chicken breeder, actor, play producer and author, store owner, newspaper man and traveling salesman.  However he also liked to tell stories.  His heart was bad, and when he was told he couldn't travel anymore because of his heart condition, he turned to story writing.  He had previously written a couple of books, about raising Hamburg Chickens and on store displays, in which he advocated for using mannequins.  He also published a stamp collector's journal and published a pamphlet on stamps collecting.  However his love was children's stories.  He met an editor, who suggested he write Mother Goose stories in prose, and this was his first children's book.  A Father Goose story followed, and then he self published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Every once in a while you find something very good and so unexpected, you want to let everyone know about it.  If you follow this blog, you know I am a fan of l. Frank Baum, and the Oz series, and his other books.  I found this made for TV movie very enjoyable.  This is the history of L. Frank Baum, and the history of his writing the stories of OZ, starting with “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”  Baum was a delightful teller of tales, however they were not well received in the publishing community at first.  John Ritter stars as Baum and Annette O'Toole as his wife, Maude.  Baum was a regular character, with business ups and downs, and a heart condition, until age 40. His first break was "Mother Goose: in Prose" followed by "Father Goose: in Prose."  However the Oz book was his first love.  No one
wanted to produce it.  He went from publisher to publisher and still know luck.  He was at his wits end.  He finally proposed self publishing the book, and that was the turning point.
This is a motivational movie about a relationship, but also about a very gifted and creative man.  This is a great family movie.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mormon Historical Movie:This is the Spirit of Revelation
This short movie tells the story of Oliver Cowdery, but uses this story to teach a message.  Oliver lodged with Joseph's parents, and hear the story of the Book of Mormon and Joseph's vision.  He wondered if maybe he could help with the work.  He prayed about what he could do, asking the Lord if he should offer to be Joseph's scribe.  He received an answer in the affirmative, and traveled to meet the Prophet, and shortly was serving as scribe.  Joseph Smith received a revelation for Oliver Cowdery.  Doctrine and Covenants 6: 22 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
 23 Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness  can you have than from God?
Revelation is not easy, testimony is not easy.  It takes a sincere desire.  It takes a willingness to follow what the Lord would have you do.  Oliver wanted to translate, and was given this opportunity.  He did well for short time, then discovered he could not translate.  D&C 9: But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.
Oliver Cowdery was a very interesting man.  He did a tremendous work as scribe for Joseph Smith.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mormon History Movie: A Man Without Eloquence
Brigham Young tells the story of his conversion, saying a testimony born by the spirit, though not eloquent touched him heart, and illuminated him with light.  Eleazer Miller was the individual who baptized him.  Very well done, and talks of the important of testifying by the spirit, and the unimportance of using big words.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Haun's Mill Massacre

Haun's Mill was a tragedy.  It is called a massacre, because it took place in a time of truce.  "Because the attack was unprovoked in a time of truce, had no specific authorization, and was made by a vastly superior force with unusual brutality, it has come to be known as 'The Haun's Mill Massacre.'  (Blair, Alma R., Encyclopedia of Mormonism)  Haun's Mill was a small isolated Mormon community.  That the attack was possible was a result of the people not heading the prophet's instruction of the isolated communities gathering to Far West.  This request was not passed on to the Saints at Haun's Mill as presented in this discourse of Henry B. Eyring.

Blair explains the events of the day:
Thirty to forty LDS families were at Haun's Mill when some 200 to 250 militia from Livingston, Daviess, and Carroll counties, acting under Colonel Thomas Jennings, (also sheriff of Livingston county) marched against the village. Assuming that an earlier truce still held, the residents were surprised by the late afternoon attack. Church leader David Evans' call for "quarter" was ignored, and the villagers were forced to flee for safety. The Mormon women and children fled south across a stream into the woods, while the men gathered in the blackSmith shop, but found it a poor place for defense because the Missourians were able to fire through the widely spaced logs directly into the group huddled inside.
Seventeen Latter-day Saints and one friendly non-Mormon were killed. Another thirteen were wounded, including one woman and a seven-year-old boy. (ibid.)
This is event was even more heinous because of some of the murders, including that of children:  "After the initial attack, several of those who had been wounded or had surrendered were shot dead. Members of the militia entered the shop and found ten-year-old Sardius Smith, eight-year old Alma Smith, and nine-year-old Charles Merrick hiding under the blacksmith's bellows. Alma and Charles were shot (Charles later died), and William Reynolds put his musket against Sardius's skull and blew off the top of his head, killing him.  Reynolds later explained, "Nits will make lice, and if he had lived he would have become a Mormon."  Seventy-eight year old Thomas McBride surrendered his musket to militiaman Jacob Rogers, who then shot McBride and hacked his body apart with a corn knife. Several other bodies were mutilated or clothing stolen, while many women were assaulted. Houses were robbed, wagons, tents and clothing were stolen, and horses and livestock were driven off, leaving the surviving women and children destitute.  (Wikipedia)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mormon History Movie: How Rare a Possession: The Book of Mormon movie depicts the scenes of Parley P. Pratt finding the Book of Mormon which were also presented as a separate movie.  This version adds another story; that of Vincenzo di Fancesca, and Italian pastor of the 20th Century.  He toured the United States, and became a preacher, with a gift for preaching.  He found a book, which was old and the Title of the book and title page had both been lost.  This was the Book Of Mormon, unbeknown to him.  He read the book, and became convinced of its veracity through prayer and the Holy Ghost.  He began preaching from the book.  He shared stories of special meaning--Nephis's vision of the Virgin Mary, King Benjamin's discourse on service, an other significant stories.  He actually became quite successful preaching.  However the brotherhood of the faith censored him, telling him to burn the book or be expelled.  He couldn't burn the book, as he was convinced of its truth.  He served in WWI.  Even during the war he was disciplined for preaching from the book.  It wasn't until after the war, he discovered the book's origin as the Book of Mormon.  Made efforts to be baptized, but politics prevented him from meeting with anyone who could baptize him.  This story documents his struggle.  WWII got in his way.  It wasn't until after the war that he was finally able to fulfill this goal.  He was by then an old man. 
In his study of the book, the movie also portrays important scenes form the Book of Mormon.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mormon Historical Movie: Parley P. Pratt Finds the Book of Mormon

This movie tells the story of a spiritual man in the year 1830.  Parley Pratt had a sense that he needed to be a teacher of the gospel, and leave his home.  In his journey, on his way to Albany, New York, he felt impressed to stop to teach.  As a result of this stop, he found the Book of Mormon, which he could not put down.  Eating and sleep seemed a burden to him.  He then traveled to Palmyra, to meet the translator.  He found Hyrum Smith at the home.  Again the spent the night talking about the restoration.  He had found something with more worth to him than his property or many properties would have been

Monday, October 7, 2013

Lead-up to WWII, Rhineland, Czechoslovakia and Neville Chamberlain

There were two events leading up to WWII, if there had more a show of force, maybe war could have been avoided.  After WWI, with the treaty of Versailles, Germany had been hemmed in, as being blames as the primary cause of the war.  Several areas were ceded from Germany, and The Rhineland, though not ceded was suppose to not be militarized.  It was sort of a neutral buffer zone between Germany and France.  The first aggressive act by Germany or the Nazis was moving in with military force into this area.  Many of the military people did not think it could be done, that England and France would not allow it.  At this time France and the British had greater military strength than Germany.  The instructions from Hitler were to try the waters, but to turn back if there was armed resistance.  However there was no resistance, and with this the German morale increased and they gained confidence to make other demands.
German also began to rearm, using conscription, and expanding beyond 100,000 soldiers allowed by the Versailles Treaty.
Another thing leading up to armed conflict was the political annexation of Austria by Germany.  Germany threatened the Chancellor of Austria to resign, or be invaded.  He resigned and a Nazi Chancellor was installed, and Austria and Germany combined. 
The next threat was that Germany started making demands to expand into Czechoslovakia where over 2 million Germans resided.  This was a sore point of negotiation.  Czechoslovakia was prepared to defend her freedom and territory.  However in the Munich Treaty, England and France capitulated, and gave the territory to Germany for as Chamberlain said "Peace in out time."  Czechoslovakia did not participate in the conference, but capitulated, and much of the country was controlled by Germany.  Poland claimed other chunks, and Slovakia declared her independence. 
So again, in the name of peace, Nazi Germany was able to expand, gain more power, and prepare for war.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mormon Historical Movie: Endowed with Power
This movie tells the story of the Nauvoo Temple, and the people who showed up at the temple just before the Saints had to abandon it because they were being forced out of Nauvoo in February of 1846.  Brigham Young advices the people to leave the temple, to go home, and prepare to cross the Mississippi River.  However, many had not had the opportunity to complete their temple work.  Brigham Young left the temple, thinking the people would follow his example and leave.  However they lingered.  He was then moved with compassion upon them.  The temple was open all night, as additional Saints were able to participate in the blessings of the temple.  The temple was open all night, and 295 persons received ordinances. 
The movie jumps forward forward to the laying of the corner stone for the Salt Lake Temple in 1853.  At this meeting, Brigham Young instructs the people of the need for temple work.
Excerpts from Howard W Hunter's talk on temple work is then presented.  "It does matter where you marry, and by what authority you are pronounced man and wife.  All of our efforts...lead to the holy temple..."  Then are presented several testimonies of members of the Church, and the blessing the have received from the temple. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

History of the Logan Tabernacle

In 1864 Heber C. Kimball told the Saints in Cache Valley to build a tabernacle.  In 1873 Brigham Young told them to build it larger.
A Look Back: The Logan Tabernacle

They began building in 1864 and completed the work in 1891 when it was dedicated by Wilford Woodruff.  Its final dimensions are 65 feet by 130.
However the building was used before this dedication date.  I wrote a blog post about the debate held in the basement of the tabernacle in 1889 between Joseph Smith III of the Josephite Church and Apostle Thatcher of the Utah Church.
This building is a monument to pioneer character.  Even more remarkable is that the Logan Temple was built at the same time, with even greater sacrifice.  However the buildings had different purposes. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mormon Historical Video: Organization of the Church

This is a short video  shows a historical depiction of the events around the reestablishment of the Church in the Peter Whitmer home April 6, 1830.  It includes the events leading up to the restoration, including the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the First Vision.  The original movie was produced by the Church in 1982.  The original is here:

 It truly was a marvelous day.  It included voting to accept Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery as their spiritual leaders, baptisms of all now that they were baptized into the church, the sacrament for the first time in this dispensation, confirmations and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and priesthood ordinations.  President Kimball's message from the 150 year anniversary is provided at the end of the video.  He was addressing the church from the Peter Whitmer home.  The Church which started with six members, as per the law of the state of New York, then numbered millions. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mormon Historical Movie: Restoration of the Priesthood (1982)

This is part of a series of Church History movies I am viewing.  This movie tells the stories of the restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods.  In 1839, as Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery translated the Book of Mormon, they came across scripture talking of the need for baptism.  However, at that time they did not have the authority to baptize, so they took to nearby woods to pray.  They were close to the Susquehanna River.  John the Baptist appeared to them, and confirmed the priesthood on them. They then baptized each other in the river.  This movie also presented Peter James and John and the restoration of the higher priesthood.  It concludes with Boyd K. Packer talking about the importance of having the proper authority.
The first ten minutes of this movie show the same video minus the Boyd K. Packer addition.