Mormon is Global, 2nd Edition

My copies finally arrived in the mail today!

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What’s new?

  • Refined nearly every page.
  • An East to West discussion.
  • Immigration/Converts
  • Clarification of some chapters/ideas.

“The problem with associating Mormonism and Americanism is that people expect Mormons to behave like Americans.” p.8

“The spark lit in the first edition began burning for a second. Thanks to colleagues, friends and family for feedback that nuances and enlivens this new edition. I still do not consider this a definitive volume but an evolving process to disguss an intricate global network of Mormons while acknowledging challenges and obstacles….” p.6

“Karthik Thandavamurthy wouldn’t mind signing an autograph, especially for a couple of twinkle under lovely loppy lashes. Karthik is Mormon. He’s Indian from Bangalaru. He’s Deaf. He also loves working with Mormon missionaries to translate for other deaf Indians interested in learning more about the Mormons.

This is what it looks like….” p.31

“My roommate in Jerusalem was a convert. Four of us roomed together in Brigham Young University’s Jerusalem campus set on a lovely hill overlooking the Old City on the West Bank. She was the first convert with whom I had close interaction. I was eighteen and impressionable. She took it as her mission to open my eyes to the outside world. Mormons, she felt, were too sheltered.” p.44

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Boots in the Temple: A Collection

Boots in the Temple: A Collection

Boots in the Temple

Mormon missionary Levi Savage did not succeed in Burma, and that was better in 1853. In late September in the outer recesses of the pointed gold-laced Shwedagon pagoda on a hilltop in Yangon, wide forehead, warm-eyed Savage jotted a few lines about his struggles. Cicadas vibrated their pitchy songs in the trees. Soft fluting and caws came from colorful flapping feathers beyond its walls. Cockroaches peaked out from within the floor’s crevices. Moist heavy air and drip from rains moistened his pen and journal. He bumbled through the language he tried to learn. His traveling companion since Utah, Elam Luddington, soured towards him. Even in dreams he saw falling trees blocking his way. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Lost Guides: Burmese Jungle 1853

It is possible in the dark of night when a soldier marching can’t discern the crackling in the forest under his own feet from the crackling of his neighbor’s, when the leading lantern glows several paces beyond him, when body odor and another’s breathing is his only assurance he’s among comrades; their guide got lost. Commanding sergeant Matthew McCune of this British East India Company contingent of Sepoys, elephants, bullocks and the arsenal, supposed his guide got lost. Half an hour of searching later they returned to course. The next day, though, the guide’s innocent detraction was harder to believe.

About a year earlier, back in London the debate had been fierce before the war started. Burma, a distant foreign jungle to most British subjects; they didn’t want to spend treasure and lives trampling its fields and for nefarious purposes. But Lord Palmerston in the halls of power smelled a trade advantage and a faster route to the riches of China…


Levi Savage Before His Mission

We should all be grateful Levi Savage bombed his proselyting mission. Our Levi as you may know, stood with the folk in the pioneering tragedy of the Willie Handcart Company back in the mid-nineteenth century. He became our hero rescuing
immigrants as they braved terrain and weather to the point of starvation and near destruction on their way to Utah. Most recently Jasen Wade played him in the movie 17 Miracles. That peppery beard and those pearly whites never made hat hair look so fine.

Anyway, he struggled on his mission before that movie heroism ever arraigned him in the halls of our memories. Before his famous Willie Handcart gig he was preaching. In a war zone. In Burma. Well,…trying to.

Remind you where Burma is again? Sure. If you poke your finger through Kansas and it is long enough,…

Called, But Not to China

“I am inclined to think that Elder Elam Ludington was not the first to proclaim the Gospel in China, from the fact that from the October conference, 1852, held in Salt Lake City, Elders Chauncey W. West, Benjamin Franklin Dewey, Elam Ludington and myself, Levi Savage, were called on a mission to Siam;” wrote Levi Savage to the Deseret Weekly.

Levi Savage corrected the claim that Elder Elam Luddington was the first Mormon missionary to China.  He hadn’t seen Elam since they were together in Rangoon, Burma which is where they parted.  Savage did not even find out until he read the September issue of the Deseret Weekly almost 40 years later that his friend Elam had eventually made it to Siam to earn fame as the first Mormon missionary to Thailand.

Apparently that wasn’t big news amongst his companions or Mormons in general.  Maybe because it wasn’t something they felt they could be particularly proud of and some may have even seen it as an epic failure.  But Savage and Luddington were the last two missionaries to ride on their carriage out of Salt Lake to begin their missions together.  Both were called to Siam.  Savage never made it.

Read the backstory: Levi Savage Spots an Error

[Update 8/29/2013: From further research I can now set a couple of things straight.  Savage did see Luddington after their missions.  How often they met or conversed I still don’t know.  Also, I discovered a possible reason why the Deseret Weekly might have thought Luddington was the first missionary to China.  The Church Archives has a letter of introduction for Elam Luddington as the first missionary to China and signed by Brigham Young on October 1st I believe a few days before the October conference.]

Levi Savage Spots an Error

Seventy-three year old Levi Savage was catching up on the Salt Lake papers when he comes across the obituary of Elam Luddington.  And he didn’t do anything about it,…right away. 

This is the same Levi Savage most famous now for his trek across the American Plains with the Mormon Willie Handcart company.  Against Savage’s warnings the company started west too late in the season suffering hardship and the deaths of loved ones before arriving in Salt Lake on November 7, 1865.  Savage is now played by Jasen Wade in a 2011 T.C. Christensen film, 17 Miracles portraying the Willie Handcart company’s harrowing journey and is getting attention in Mormon circles.

So what does Levi Savage and the handcarts have to do with our subject, Elam Luddington?

Levi reads the Deseret Weekly of March 7, 1893 and Elam Luddington’s accomplishments.  Then a curious thing happens.  He sets the paper down and does nothing.  Deep in southern Utah amidst the grand red rock mountains of what would eventually be called Zion National Park he was quite a distance from Salt Lake.  Whenever he first read the paper we know that although he set it down, the obituary must have stuck with him.  He did nothing until five months later, on August 8, 1893 when he wrote a letter to Elder Franklin D. Richards, Church Historian. It began,

“Some time since I noticed in the SEMI-WEEKLY NEWS of March 7, 1893, an account of Elam Luddington’s death in Sugar House Ward, Salt Lake county….”

On Saturday, September 16, the Deseret Weekly printed a retraction.  What might not have seemed so significant when he first read the obituary, must have somehow become significant enough to set the record straight.  Was it because he wasn’t feeling well that week as his journal reveals, and had some time on his hands prior to writing the letter?  Or might he have been interested in preserving his own legacy and those of his earlier comrades while facing land disputes in court and denied requests from Washington DC to increase his pension.

On August 8, there is no mention of a letter written to the Church historian although he did mention letters he wrote from time to time in his journal.  There was no mention of concern about reviving his youthful legacy.  He didn’t even mention feeling sick or tired as he had in previous journal entries.  On the day he wrote to Franklin D. Richards to correct Elam Luddington’s Obituary notice he writes one line,

“Aug 8, 1893  Tuesday.  [William] and Riley got a load of driftwood from the river.”

William and Riley were his sons.

For the rest of the story read Called, But Not to China.