Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More than a stonecutter

The story of John R. Moyle is amazing. It’s incredible. It’s inspiring. It’s mind-blowing, in all the positive senses of that word.

And yet as it develops into a mainstream bit of Mormon folklore it runs the risk, i fear, of becoming as bleached of nuance and detail in favor of sappiness and simplicity as the story of the Willie and Martin handcart companies became before it.

Sometimes we do our stories a grave injustice as we tell them.


Sanford said...

I think I agree with you. Last Sunday my Elders' Quorum instructor had me read the story to the class. I wondered as I read if there was more to it. I agree it lacks nuance and detail but what would that nuance and detail be? Is your issue with content or interpretation? Or both? How would you tell the story?

David B said...

It’s just so simplistic: Dude does stuff, dude gets into trouble, dude overcomes trouble.

I’m sure there’s more information about him out there, even stuff he wrote himself. (Perhaps surprisingly, i find nothing about him on Keepapitchinin, the one place where you’d expect to find backstories for stuff like this.)

I want to know how much he actually did sacrifice—it wasn’t the leg, that was a farming accident that might have happened anyway. I’m guessing his loss was in treasure more than blood.

I want to know how and why he was chosen—in fact, even knowing how exactly he was called would be helpful in fleshing things out.

John R. Moyle’s grandson (well, one of them, anyway) was Henry D. Moyle, a mid-twentieth-century member of the first presidency. Did this bit of family history influence Henry D.’s views on things, or was it just a bit of amazing family folklore but really nothing hugely formative for him?

And, of course, did John R. Moyle himself think it was all worth it? I suspect the answer is yes, but i’d like to know with more certainty.

p.s. Henry D. Moyle died in Florida, which is probably not where you’d’ve expected.

Eastcoastdweller said...

I saw that film last night. I couldn't help wondering -- couldn't SOMEBODY in Salt Lake give that poor man a horse?