Saturday night’s fireside in Tampere went well, I think. The audience – not as large as the one in Helsinki on Friday night but still quite respectable – was once again bigger than I had expected. After all, roughly half of those in attendance had already spent multiple hours at an LDS women’s conference just a few blocks away at the University, and many of those women faced lengthy trips home following the conclusion of that conference.
To my pleasure and surprise, Sister Sharon Eubank was also with us on the fireside program. (I knew that she would be speaking with us in the Sunday Helsinki fireside.) In fact, after Wayne Crosby, Scott Gordon, and I had spoken, she was the concluding speaker. (Some of her remarks were in Finnish.) She spoke very interestingly about (among other things) the vast extensions of women’s rights and civil liberties that ensued upon the establishment of the Relief Society in 1842. And the facts are indeed striking. Most, of course, will credit them to coincidence, but they are genuinely intriguing and worthy of reflection.
In the longer version of the remarks that I gave on Friday in Helsinki and on Saturday in Tampere, I actually discuss the slow granting to women, beginning in the nineteenth century and continuing into the twentieth, of the rights to vote and to serve as jurors. That would have provided a nice prelude to Sharon’s comments, had I known which way she was going to go with hers. What she said also correlates rather neatly with an article that I have long wanted to write but haven’t yet settled down to doing, about the striking changes that occurred in science, technology, and other areas after the First Vision in 1820 and the establishment of the Restored Church in 1830. Other authors – authors who aren’t Latter-day Saints – have sometimes picked precisely those years out as marking the birth of the modern age. Again, this is possibly coincidental. But it’s noteworthy to me, and it’s even something that, if its significance is what I’m tempted to think it is, I would have expected as an accompaniment to the Restoration.
We had a fairly long and late drive home after the fireside last night, from Tampere to Helsinki, but it was made enjoyable by good and wide-ranging conversation. My friend Jussi Kemppainen drove, and we brought his wife Pini home, too. The two of them are back in Finland fairly recently after six years in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where she was an administrator and professor at a Saudi university. She’s a very thoughtful, sophisticated, and interesting person to talk with, and the time flew. (Which is good, because jet lag was a continuing threat to me.)
Posted from Helsinki, Finland