The first edition of Moramona, a book written by R. Lanier Britsch, tells a detailed history of the LDS Church in Hawaii. Lanny Britsch held a book signing at BYU-Hawaii on June 29 and 30 at the Aloha Center. While there, he described how excited he was to present a new second edition that is updated, enlarged, and revised with 30 more years of history.
Shirley Britsch, wife of R. Lanier Britsch, said, “Moramona is about the church in Hawaii. It begins with the early saints in Hawaii, the history of the people who came here as initial missionaries and new converts to the church, and it goes all the way to the present day. Lanny spent years rewriting his original version, which is called Moramona, same title, but this book is about twice as big and has just about as much more information as it brings the church to the present day.”
Editor-in-Chief at Pacific Studies and Jonathan Napela Center Publications, Philip McArthur, has known Lanny professionally over the years and has worked closely with Lanny as he put together the second edition.
McArthur commented, this is Moramona’s second edition but it is so significantly re-done, even if you have the first edition, you’re going to want this one. “It’s almost like a new book, so I think people are going to enjoy this and be excited. It will also contribute to those who want to do further scholarships in the Pacific and the Church Pacific. This is a standard that has been set and people will be using it as a source for a long time.”
The book has been able to gain more meaning, according to Shirley. She said, “It is filled with inspirational stories, and it would make anyone interested in Hawaii or the LDS Church. People will feel warm and more complete, knowing of his love for the Hawaiian people. It will help them understand their own heritage, if they are from the islands, and I think it’s an inspirational and inspired book.
“He put much thought and prayer as well as research into the book. He has checked and double-checked facts and had it read over by numerous people for accuracy. He is a perfectionist when it comes to history,” Shirley added.
Not only a self-driven perfectionist, R. Lanier Britsch is a retired professor from BYU-Provo, and he has spent four years at BYU-Hawaii from 1986 to 1991 as the academic vice president. Before and after that, he served two missions in Hawaii, from 1959 to 1968 and 2002 to 2003.
“I’ve worked on this version of the book for two and a half years,” said R. Lanier Britsch, author of Moramona. “You have to persist. You have to be willing to take advice, particularly if you’re going to be a publishing scholar. You should never do it on your own. I’ve done my best to go through everything that is new and available to recreate the book. A good percentage of the book is really a new book despite the fact we call it a second edition.”
Why the second edition?
R. Lanier Britsch shared during a private interview, how the first edition was “frankly dated” and “no longer telling the full story.” He wrote the first manuscript in the 1970s, and the first edition of Moramona was published in 1989 and ran until 2014, which according to Lanny Britsch, “isn’t a bad run for a book.”
McArthur said, “We determined a few years ago that it had been 30 some years since the first edition of Moramona was published … Mormons have been an important minority in the history of these islands. They have played a role economically, politically, in terms of religion and culture.”
Asking rhetorically, with a smile, Lanny Britsch said, “So what do you do? Well, you go through all the information that has been published, written, or spoken since the first edition was written. Then the next thing is to do your best, which I did. To go through as many sources, books, journals, and things that have appeared since I did this job the first time.”
The history of the church in Hawaii is as old as the history in Utah, according to McArthur. “A lot of people don’t know that. For the people of this community and Hawaii, this is a document to get clarity and a sense of the things that have gone on in this state and the church… all these years.
“For the people who live here, this is huge. The placement of church in Hawaii is significant. I don’t think people realize that sometimes. There’s nothing like this in all the church. BYU-Hawaii, the small little school on the north-east coast of an island, with the Polynesian Cultural Center, and the temple. These three-key institutions in this small obscure place, but it looms large in the history of the church.”
This whole process has been an “exciting thing” for Shirley Britsch, she shared how “[Lanny] would read every page to me. As he would finish a chapter, he would call me to come listen to the chapter. If I had thoughts or suggestions, he wanted my input. The little bit I was able to do, I was happy to help.
“The most important thing for readers to know is this truly is a labor of love from him. And I hope they will think of it as a gift from a wonderful historian, to the people of Hawaii, whom he loves very much,” Shirley continued.