Sunday, April 05, 2009

Maria Von Trapp Visited BYU

I have been reading an autobiography of Maria Von Trapp. Years ago I read a book she wrote about what happened to their family after they moved here to the U.S. When I was at the library the other day, I looked for that book but was unable to find it. It showed in the card catalog, but I couldn't find it on the shelf. I have even looked at Barnes and Noble for it, but it is out of print. But while I was at the library, I did find this autobiography titled, "Maria".

She starts out with an interesting story that she uses as a preface to her autobiography. She said that she flew to Salt Lake City because she was going to give a talk at a Mormon university. A Bishop from BYU came to pick her up at the airport. As they drove to Provo, he explained to her that it was a vacation time for the students, so many students would have gone home for the break. He told her that they had planned to hold the speech at the Field house, which houses 14,000 people. She immediately understood his concern, and told him that she would be happier if they could relocate the speech to a smaller building so that she could really connect with her audience.

As they drove up to the campus, they noticed a huge group of students that seemed to be upset about something. Maria had recently given a speech at UCLA, and had encountered a student protest. I don't know what the students had been protesting, but she assumed that the students at BYU were also protesting. The Bishop asked her to stay in the car, and he went to see what was happening. It turned out that the fieldhouse was already packed to capacity, and the remaining students were upset that they couldn't get in to hear the speech by Mrs. Von Trapp. The Bishop then gave permission for them to stand in the aisles so that they would all be able to attend.

Maria was very surprised to see how interested the students were in what she had to say. At UCLA she had received less than supportive comments. But at BYU, the students were appreciative of her message. After her speech, she gave them an opportunity to ask questions. One student said, "You obviously came from a large happy family, and had a happy childhood." She said, "No, actually, I had a very unhappy childhood, and I was alone, an orphan." The student said, "I study psychology, and according to the books, you should be a juvenile delinquent." She and the audience both laughed. She goes on to talk about how she might have turned out a juvenile delinquent if she hadn't found God.

This is a very interesting book, and I am finding that the real story differs much from the Hollywood version. But still, it is inspiring, and she led a great life, worthy of admiration.


Looney said...

Amazon shows a few books by her. My wife fell in love with The Sound Of Music, so something like this would probably make a good gift.

My son attends UCLA now, so I can appreciate the kind of reception Maria would likely get: "Does the talk provide free Austrian beer?" The drug heads would be less interested.

On the other hand, there are several hundred kids that head for Grace Community Church every Sunday and a number of other good Christian groups there, so I suspect there would be an audience.

Ramana Rajgopaul said...

This is a classic story to illustrate a very valid point. Contrary to popular belief, people with difficult childhoods and backgrounds can lead a highly rewarding and morally sound life, given the opportunity through some intervention. In this case, it has been divine, but other human ones too have produced similar results, though it is a moot point that the human intervention was also through divine intervention.