The LDS Church has announced the closing of another school, this one the 49-year-old Benemerito of the Americas in Mexico City. (link) This is said to be done as the only feasible option for providing training facilities for a surge of new missionaries, but it had probably been desired for some time to close the school. A drastic, permanent loss like that isn’t allowed merely to smooth over some facilities crowding issue elsewhere.
Earlier in the week my attention was drawn to a small maternity hospital opened in Nevada’s Moapa Valley in 1941. Two hundred babies were born there over a twenty-five year span, which averages to fewer than one a month. This hospital was created and run by the LDS Church. The church built seventeen other hospitals after World War II, but got rid of them in 1974. (link)
Running schools or hospitals has been a frequent service rendered by religious bodies. One of my children was born in a Catholic hospital, and two in an Adventist hospital. It was once a service rendered by the LDS Church, but that is all in the past except in very limited cases.
I wonder how the welfare system is doing and suspect that it too is a shadow of its former self. My current stake once operated two farms, one in Virginia and one in Maryland. They were sold decades ago, as was the dairy farm in Las Vegas where I served as a teen. When I lived near Detroit, one of my ward’s cannery assignments was canning beef stew. Later the decision was made to only can fruits because there are fewer health issues and a simpler inspection process. Not even fruit is canned now, and Detroit no longer produces goods to be used by the LDS welfare program. Remember that story that President Eyring tells of his father weeding onions while suffering the pains of cancer? That’s one to put in the binder with tales of migrations across the plains.
We seem to be distilling Latter-day Saint culture as that of a people who 1) attend services on Sunday, 2) also worship occasionally in a temple somewhere within a couple hour’s drive, 3) dedicate a couple years when young to full-time church missions, and 4) otherwise keep apart from one another and engage lives in the broader world, mostly on that broader world’s terms though incorporating their personal religious values into the engagement, without any culture or sociality among the Saints that amounts to anything. Our grandchildren will be amazed that anyone felt attached to it enough to even write stuff on the internet about it.