New Respect for Brigham Young Leading the Mormon Exodus

Yesterday in Shanghai was day one of a two-day conference for the Shanghai International District of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. With members coming into Shanghai from Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Zhenjiang, Changzhou, and other nearby cities, we had a great opportunity to get our Young Single Adults (YSAs) together before and after the 3 pm adult session on Saturday. As co-chairs of the District Single Adults Committee, my wife and I organized a tour of Shanghai for the approximately 70 single adults we expected to be coming into town. Whew! Exhausting.

For the 50-plus group that went with us on the tour, just getting from one side of Shanghai to the other with clear directions, convenient public transportation, comfortable weather and abundant resources resulted in numerous challenges such as some people nearly expiring from hunger (time between eating was too long), some people being lost in the urban wilderness, and many unexpected delays. Still not sure what percentage of the group actually made it to the various member homes they were staying at last night.

This short trek across town was also done with food all around us, air conditioned subway trains, and electric lighting. We were spared the challenges of childbirths along the way. We face no threat of attacks from marauding warriors or soccer fans, no fierce storms to endure (light sprinkle at the end), no mountains to cross, and nothing that genuinely threatened any lives. While we feel the event went well and really enjoyed working with these terrific young people, the little trek was surprisingly difficult and stressful. There are many things we might do differently next time (“leave the stragglers to the wolves” was at the top of the list, but on second thought…). It leaves me with new-found respect for the Mormon Exodus and the leadership of Brigham Young in organizing the outcast Latter-day Saints and leading them across the country in the most dire of circumstances to build Zion in the Rockies. Truly he was an American Moses.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

3 thoughts on “New Respect for Brigham Young Leading the Mormon Exodus

  1. Truly he was an American Moses.

    Well, OK, though Moses never got to set foot in his Promised Land. And fortunately, unlike Joshua's Israelites, Young's LDS pioneers were never commanded by God to slaughter tens of thousands of innocent women and children….

    Personally, I think of Abraham Lincoln as the American Moses. Lincoln is as central to the American national myth as Moses is to the Jewish national myth. And, if we think of the American "promised land" as an America whose racial equality redeems its original sin of slavery, then we can see Lincoln, like Moses, as a hero who did not live to see the fruition of his work.

    I think of Brigham Young more narrowly as the Mormon Moses. And while he's not the American Moses I would agree that he's an American Moses. But there are others as well: just as impressive as Young (if not more so) is the Cheyenne chief Little Wolf, whose now largely forgotten story is recounted beautifully in Mari Sandoz's Cheyenne Autumn.

    — Eveningsun

  2. According to members during Joseph Smith's time Jos. Smith made various comments about his son taking the helm of the church one day. I am sure everyone knows the story after Jos. Smith was martyred. A young boy could not lead the Saints west; and some of the men who tried to take over would not have been strong enough leaders; Brigham Young was the one. There was a great lady in my church branch where I grew up, and she showed me the journal writings of one of her ancestors who was present when Brigham Young took on the appearance of Joseph Smith (when the members were fighting over who should lead the church) To read about it from someone who was actually there and in their handwriting was amazing.

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