Mormon Literature: A Lion and A Lamb
A Lion and A Lamb
For many decades, northwestern New York was a hostile place for a Mormon. In 1915, Willard and Rebecca Bean were called to return to Palmyra.
As a former prizefighter, Willard had the temperament to withstand the unkind words and harsh treatment they received from their neighbors, while Rebecca s kind demeanor served to create friends out of former enemies.
This is their story.
A Lion and A Lamb by Rand H. Packer
“This is a love story. It is a true and it really happened.”
Not a love story between two people, or husband and wife, or man and his dog. This is a love story about a husband and wife and their love for the people of Palmarya, spawned by their love for their God.
“People of God are no strangers to hatred. Over the centuries hatred has found easy prey amongst good people in every land. They have tasted persecution and martyrdom and have been lured to hate those who hated them first. Hate plus hate equals more hate, which multiplies exponentially into peoples, nations, and cultures hating each other simply because parents hated before them. This evil cycle continues through millennia unless someone, somewhere, stands courageously and refuses to hate back …” Preface
A Lion and A Lamb is well written. Author Rand H. Packer truly makes writing and art form; A true work of writing excellence. It is fast moving and entertaining with bits and pieces of wisdom woven into this historical novel. It proves that man can live together peaceably amid diversity.
Religious persecution is hard to overcome. It is like a feud that never ends. One example of that is the persecutions the Jews have faced nearly sense their very beginning. Another example is that between Christians and non-Christians.
The Christian world purports that God is the God of all. We are all His children. If that is what they believe, why, then, do the different Christian religions fight so violently against one another?
Willard and Rebecca Bean refused to hate back.
Through their example of that love, walls of hatred and misunderstandings were torn down and replaced with mutual respect and friendship. The God Willard and Rebecca Bean worshiped was a God who loves all people.
A Lion and A Lamb is a book written to all religions, races and people, showing how we can live together in harmony and mutual respect.
Now... more about the book:
Now, More About The Book:
In 1915, Willard and Rebecca Bean were called to Palmyra, New York on a mission for their church. Some 85 years earlier, their church was driven out of the state because of religious persecution. As the birth place of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Palmyra has a special meaning to this newly formed religion of the 1830’s. Religious persecution arose out of misunderstandings and falsehood. Through a mission call from their leaders, it fell upon Willard and Rebecca to repair the breach and stop the feud.
A shining example to any religion, Willard and Rebecca accomplished their mission in only 24 years.
5'9" and Solid As A Rock
Willard stood only 5’9” high, but, was a former prizefighter and had won the middleweight championship of the United States by defeating Bob Douglas. Author Rand H. Packer prints “…he was an absolute physical specimen and could throw a punch clear into the next country.” Beyond that, Willard was an inapt gymnast that was still doing back flips until nearly the age of 60.
Willard was a good choice for this job of peacemaker because,
“As a former prizefighter, Willard had the temperament to withstand the unkind words and harsh treatment they received from their neighbors, while Rebecca’s kind demeanor served to create friends out of former enemies.
Illistration Of Packard's The Writing Style
Beyond the amazing story of reconciliation between religious predigest, Author Rand Packer is a talented penman. To illustrate both points, I quote from the book:
It was not unusual to have visitors call after sundown, but it was certainly not the norm. Most people in the area were farmers who rose early to jumpstart the day---and went to bed early to jump the jumpstart.
Willard opened the door and saw three men standing there. “Gentlemen, welcome. Would you please come in?”
“No, we don’t want to come in,” the lead visitor said. “We think it best if you come outside. We’ll do our talkin’ out here.”
Willard gave Rebecca a cautious glance to comfort her, then he fearlessly stepped outside. Rebecca watched from behind the screen door and listened.
“Gentleman, my name is Willard Bean and I am happy to make your acquaintance.” He said, extending his hand to greet them. Willard’s hand caught only air, along with cold, demeaning glares from the visitors.
“We know who you are,” growled the self-imposed leader of the group. “We’ll say our piece, Mr. Bean, and be gone.”
Willard slowly retracted his outstretched hand and waited.
“We’ve held a meeting this evening of citizens of this community, and it is the unanimous feeling of everyone who lives here that you are to leave Palmyra,” the man said. “We drove you out of here years ago and you’re not coming back. So you best get on your way.”
Willard’s eyes were fixed calmly upon the three visitors, then he looked at the ground as he pondered an appropriate response to their command. The venom of their remarks meant nothing to a man who had never been afraid of anybody. He had experienced this kind of hatred many times before and knew whose bidding they were doing. A soft smile came across his face as he looked back up at them and caught their focused glare.
“Now, I am sorry to hear that,” Willard said. “We had hoped to come out here and fit in with you people and be an asset to this community. We hold no ill feelings toward you for what your people did to us eighty years ago. It was wrong, and always will be. Now you listen to me. We are here to stay, even if we have to fight our way. I’ll take you on one at a time or three at a time. It’s up to you!”
About The Story
In face of opposition, Rebecca and Willard sent their children to the public school.
There was a chair assigned away from the other children for them to sit in. Slowly, through meek acceptance of the station given them, their children won their way as one of the class, although friends remained scarce.
From the pen of the author he writes:
Little by little the temperature of western New York began to rise a degree or two. The residents of Palmyra began to resign themselves to the fact this little family from Utah had glue in their boots, and that they were stuck with them no matter what.
Willard was not always willing to put up with what was dished out to him. Afraid of no one, he took on the town ruffians one on one in the boxing ring, winning the respect of everyone he fought as well as the spectators. Willing to stand up for what he believed, but never taking offense, Willard won respect with his good will and quite conviction that the town would like them when they learn to know them.
Upon being counseled at one time to not be so quick to fight, but to turn the other cheek, Willard remarked:
“I’ll be happy to turn the other cheek,” Willard said, “if they can hit the first one.”
Willard and Rebecca attended other churches in their area, always being careful not to give offense. Some forbid them from coming back, some did not.
Wanting to share the message of their church, but not wanting be offensive, Willard set to preaching on the street corner. “Willard loved to sing, but a bull-moose voice singing the hymns of Israel often sent people scurrying in the opposite direction. He needed sweet music to attract bystanders and soon Rebecca’s high soprano tones could be heard at the main intersection in Palmyra. Traffic jams ensued at the intersection and complaints were registered.”
This resulted in the banker, one of the most prominent citizens of Plamaria, granting them access to a pavilion he owned at the town square.
Home Only Once
Willard never went back to Utah during their 24 year mission. Rebecca and the kids went only once.
“Rebecca had no time for vacation or diversion from duty. If she was gone, who would take care of the visitors and the missionaries? Just once during her twenty-four year mission, did she travel with her children back to Utah to visit relatives. Her absence caused much indigestion and discomfort for the visitors who came while she was gone. For the bread Willard made always rose and fell like the setting sun.”
This is an amazing story of dedication, determination, acceptance and love. It is exceptionally well written with a message of tolerance and civility that all religions and cultures need in our diverse world society today. No matter that this is written about a Mormon man and his wife, it is truly a story all cultures can learn from. It proves that man can live together peaceably amid diversity, with mutual respect for different viewpoints.
We could all benefit from the advice Rebecca gave her little daughter, Palmyra, when she was sorely rebuked from petting a townmember’s puppy:
“Now don’t you cry, my little sweetheart,” Rebecca said. “She’s not a very happy person, is she? And besides, we have a lot more animals to pet than she does. We’ll let her pet our animals if she ever comes to our place and maybe that will make her happy.”
Author Rand H. Packer; A Lion and A Lamb
Rand H. Packer is the grandson of Rebecca and Willard Bean. His mother was Palmrya, their first child born to them while they lived in Palmrya. He said about the writing of this book:
The input of Palmyra Been Packer, now in her 91th year, has been an inspiration. Almost daily I have visited her personally or talked with her on the phone seeking her recollections and remembrances of her life on the Joseph Smith farm. She, for the moment, is a living testimony of the events written in this book.
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