Sunday, August 24, 2008

Suggestions for "Ensign" Improvement

Readers of the LDS Church magazine Ensign are asked to take a survey for some feedback. Over the years I have enjoyed the magazine, but can see places where it could improve. After taking the time to respond in a short essay section I decided to expand my ideas. Not that I believe anyone from the magazine will listen to what I have to say among the many others who read and took the survey. Still, there is always that hope and a need to express my thoughts.

In the early 20th Century B. H. Roberts wrote a series of articles for a newspaper detailing the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even today the collected Comprehensive Church History remains the best of its kind. More recently BYU has published regional studies about such places as New York State, Missouri, Illinois, the Western United States, and England. Taking both of these as templates, it would be great for the Ensign to do a 24-month series dedicated to an outline of important Church history events. Other articles about people and places could supplement the main narrative. Like the recent Mountain Meadows Massacre and some articles in the magazine's past, they can be written by professional writers and historians. It could go a long way toward educating the Saints about their own faith in a non-threatening venue; something some have said has been lack.

One of the most exciting developments has been classic writings and sermons reprinted. These have included Joseph Smith's Wentworth Letter and Wilford Woodruff's talk on the priesthood. It seems to have been dropped, but this should continue and expand beyond expected inclusions. Many sermons in the Journal of Discourses, devalued more than it needed, should be reintroduced to a new generation. There has also been important writings in old Utah newspapers and other places. These sources are rich in teachings and doctrines that remain valuable. There can be a focus on the prophets whose words still contain power and conviction.

It would be nice to hear from the more famous LDS Church members. The younger generation needs better role models and those who have achieved success and recognition are good starting points. Of course, those included would also be recognized as faithful members in good standing. Stephanie Meyer of "Twilight" fame wrote a touching article about helping strangers that got positive notice. Certainly there could be just as good stories from former Gov. Romney and Nevada Senator Reid. Gladys Knight, among other talented Mormon singers and songwriters, could talk about how music can touch the spirit. I have been impressed the few times I have heard former 49ers QB talk at a fireside, impressed with his testimony and hidden intelligence. Those of note don't even need to be recognized by anyone in the continental United States, although popular or well known in other places.

In theory the LDS Church is international, although still far short of getting called a World Religion. Short studies about different areas of the world with Saints living there have been highlighted. This needs to expand into including articles written by those same people living in diverse places. How wonderful it would be to hear from a mother in Kenya, A Relief Society president in Egypt, a Bishop in Tonga, or Sunday School teacher in England. An international focus must become an integral part of the magazine if it is to fully support the mission of the LDS Church and be more relevant to all its members. Mormonism has grown all over the globe, and the magazine should reflect that fact.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the Ensign magazine but there are some articles, poems, etc. in the Ensign that are very difficult to read because of the font color and the background color they are printed on. For instance, in the December 2016 Ensign I gave up on reading the poem on page 63 and the insert from a talk by Elder Anderson on page 65. I am sure that I am not the only older person who has this problem.