Notice: Undefined variable: xwq2ay in /services17/webpages/util/r/c/rclifton.site.aplus.net/nine-moons.com/public/index.php(3) : regexp code(1) : eval()'d code on line 1

Notice: Undefined variable: xq9mar in /services17/webpages/util/r/c/rclifton.site.aplus.net/nine-moons.com/public/index.php(3) : regexp code(1) : eval()'d code on line 2

Notice: Undefined variable: xb4jym in /services17/webpages/util/r/c/rclifton.site.aplus.net/nine-moons.com/public/index.php(3) : regexp code(1) : eval()'d code on line 3

Notice: Undefined variable: xm0hy3 in /services17/webpages/util/r/c/rclifton.site.aplus.net/nine-moons.com/public/index.php(3) : regexp code(1) : eval()'d code on line 4

Notice: Undefined variable: x6ow0w in /services17/webpages/util/r/c/rclifton.site.aplus.net/nine-moons.com/public/index.php(6) : regexp code(1) : eval()'d code on line 1

Notice: Undefined variable: xee5jr in /services17/webpages/util/r/c/rclifton.site.aplus.net/nine-moons.com/public/index.php(6) : regexp code(1) : eval()'d code on line 2

Notice: Undefined variable: xa3p7h in /services17/webpages/util/r/c/rclifton.site.aplus.net/nine-moons.com/public/index.php(6) : regexp code(1) : eval()'d code on line 3

Notice: Undefined variable: xinn34 in /services17/webpages/util/r/c/rclifton.site.aplus.net/nine-moons.com/public/index.php(6) : regexp code(1) : eval()'d code on line 4

Notice: Undefined variable: xbdf3c in /services17/webpages/util/r/c/rclifton.site.aplus.net/nine-moons.com/public/index.php(9) : regexp code(1) : eval()'d code on line 1

Notice: Undefined variable: x8y1da in /services17/webpages/util/r/c/rclifton.site.aplus.net/nine-moons.com/public/index.php(9) : regexp code(1) : eval()'d code on line 2

Notice: Undefined variable: xn37zs in /services17/webpages/util/r/c/rclifton.site.aplus.net/nine-moons.com/public/index.php(9) : regexp code(1) : eval()'d code on line 3

Notice: Undefined variable: xquipf in /services17/webpages/util/r/c/rclifton.site.aplus.net/nine-moons.com/public/index.php(9) : regexp code(1) : eval()'d code on line 4
Nine Moons » Blog Archive : How Much History Should the “Average Mormon” Know? » How Much History Should the “Average Mormon” Know?

How Much History Should the “Average Mormon” Know?

Rusty - August 27, 2007

In the discussion following Eric Snider’s review of the movie September Dawn, a guy named Craig suggests that the “average Mormon” is far removed from his history.

My impression is that our history is vitally important to our religion, perhaps moreso than any other (except maybe Catholicism) precisely because our doctrine of priesthood authority demands it. Other Christians only need the Bible to be true; we need Joseph Smith to be a prophet and for the Apostasy to have happened and the priesthood to have been restored and for the Book of Mormon to come about and on and on and on. Our Church’s history is important to us and that is reflected in how much we talk about it in our testimonies, in our lessons and in our discussions. Methodist history doesn’t determine it’s veracity, only their interpretation of the Bible does.

(It may be true that much of the history the “average Mormon” knows is of the correlated variety, but in terms of overall knowledge of history my impression is that Mormons know and care about theirs FAR more than any other average religionist.)

How many average Catholics can name all of the Popes of the last 150 years? How many average Protestants can tell us precisely the exact developments that lead to the separation of the Methodists from the Baptists? How many average Jehovah’s Witnesses can tell us the exact date that their religion was legally established?

I’m just not sure that not knowing the differences between the endowment ceremony 150 years ago and now disqualify me from knowing my religion’s history. Besides, isn’t it more important to know enough history to enable the religion to be your focus and not its history?

39 Comments »

  1. I suspect most Catholics know about the Spanish Inquisition though. How many Mormons know about the Mountain Meadows Masscare?

    Comment by Clark — August 27, 2007 @ 10:39 am

  2. Great point. I feel that some have the attitude that unless you are able to argue every historical minutiae you are unqualified to have an opinion of the Church and its gospel today.

    True, the Church’s history is relevant and important but I believe that the Church does a reasonably good job emphasizing that your average mormon know the doctrine, history, AND be a lay volunteer of some sort. More than most churches I imagine.

    Comment by David H. Sundwall — August 27, 2007 @ 10:59 am

  3. We should be able to learn it all. How much should depend on the individual.

    I really don’t get what all they hype is about the MMM.

    Even if BY or others were involved somehow, that doesn’t change everything else they did.

    Just because David slept with Bathsheba, doesn’t erase the fact that he slew Goliath and was the Lord’s anointed to be king of Israel.

    Did Peter not walk on water because he denied Christ?

    We learn from history, both the good and the bad.

    Historical coverups just don’t make any sense to me.

    I’m wondering if Joseph Smith beheaded Governer Boggs if our church would have been as truthful as Nephi was about what happened with Laban?

    If the gospel is true, then it’s true even with all the dark moments in it’s history as well.

    Comment by JM — August 27, 2007 @ 11:17 am

  4. [...] Rusty asks: “How Much History Should the “Average Mormon” Know?. [...]

    Pingback by A Soft Answer · Church history and the “average mormon” — August 27, 2007 @ 11:50 am

  5. I would not argue that most Catholics know about the Inquisition and probably a greater percentage than Mormons knowing about MMM. But, history can be employed for selfish and dishonest reasons – and a misrepresentation of “facts” will lead to inaccurate conclusions about history.

    For example, the number of people killed during the 400 years of the Inquisition is sometimes overinflated and used to support the claim that more people have been killed in the name of religion than anything else. But, an average of one death per day from the Inquisition is minscule to what occurred in Hitler’s Germany, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Mao’s China, Stalin’s USSR, etc.

    “Sept. Dung” mixes fact with fiction, and gets the “facts” wrong. I’m of the opinion that whatever amount of history the average Mormons knows is only important if the history is as accurate as possible.

    Comment by Mondo Cool — August 27, 2007 @ 11:50 am

  6. As a Catholic, I can say I learned everything I knew about the Spanish Inquisition from Monty Python. On the other hand, it was also frankly mentioned in my catholic history class when I was a freshman in high school. Judging from my former sentence, you can see that as a freshman in high school, I didn’t get much out of it. (I actually remember arguing with my teacher because I didn’t understand that the protestant witch hunters weren’t Catholics.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 27, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

  7. It doesn’t matter if most Mormons didn’t/don’t know about MMM –it’s in the Ensign, now, so I would say most people are going to know about it.

    I’m of the opinion that whatever amount of history the average Mormons knows is only important if the history is as accurate as possible.

    No kidding!

    Besides, isn’t it more important to know enough history to enable the religion to be your focus and not its history?

    I have to agree, Rusty.
    Yes, bad things happen. Nobody’s perfect. I think JM’s examples from scripture are right on. There will always be mistakes, because humans make mistakes. But judging an entire religion based on one or two mistakes (and yes, MMM was a HUGE mistake. I would never justify it!) is fairly ludicrous and unforgiving. Golly, even Paul (Saul) and Alma the Younger made quite a few mistakes. What would have happened if nobody forgave them? Yeah, that would have sucked.

    Comment by Cheryl — August 27, 2007 @ 12:09 pm

  8. Clark,

    Seriously, the Spanish Inquisition and the Mountain Meadows Massacre couldn’t be more different. That is a ridiculous comparison.

    Comment by Jacob J — August 27, 2007 @ 1:27 pm

  9. I have been thinking about this topic a lot the past months. I finally got my ideas down in a blog post here.

    Comment by m&m — August 27, 2007 @ 2:25 pm

  10. Totally off subject, but #2, any relation to Peter V. Sundwall, MD?

    Comment by John — August 27, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

  11. When I was 14 I attended a youth conference in which we traveled to St. George Utah and on the way we stopped by the site of MMM and we read the names on the wall that was constructed there to honor those who were killed. A member of my bishopric had read a book about the event and had it with him. I remember him reading quotes from it. I don’t know if I wasn’t listening very well, was distracted, or if it has just been too long (13 years), but I do not remember the details that were given about it.

    I remember getting from it that it was a horrible tragedy, but never felt any ill feelings toward anyone in the church. I wish that I remembered what was said or what the book was. That way I would know how it was portrayed and what was said about it. Oh well.

    Just thought I’d point out that it isn’t something that was “hidden” from me as a youth. It was something I had some knowledge of when all of this came up recently and that knowledge came from my authorities in the church.

    Comment by MinUtah — August 27, 2007 @ 5:06 pm

  12. This is something I also have thought a lot about lately. It’s true that we probably know our history better than most other religions and I think that shows in our character. We know who we are and know where we came from and have strong ties to it all. I think that’s one of the main reasons the youth of our church are retained better than any other church. It’s one of the reasons history needs to be emphasized more in school. If people have a better sense of who they are and where they came from, they’ll have a greater understanding of how things work and what to do with their lives.

    Sorry. Just a usual rant from a history teacher.

    Comment by Bret — August 27, 2007 @ 5:46 pm

  13. My impression is that our history is vitally important to our religion…we need Joseph Smith to be a prophet and for the Apostasy to have happened and the priesthood to have been restored and for the Book of Mormon to come about and on and on and on.

    Elder Scott agrees:

    If I were a parent today with children in my home, I’d make sure they understood the pattern that started with Adam, where a prophet is called of the Lord, teaching the fulness of the gospel with authority. I’d teach them about the cycle of apostasy and of restoration of truth that has continued until the final dispensation.

    Comment by Peter LLC — August 28, 2007 @ 4:01 am

  14. Understanding the teachings of Christ is more important than knowing the details of history. The responsibility of the LDS Church is to get people to accept Christ’s teachings and actually live them. Anything else is frosting on the cake. If a person wants to dig into history on their own, great, knock yourself out. If the Church History dept wants to make stuff available, great. But, the history I have know, and mostly forgotten I have ever known it, is only details and minutiae, and it has done pretty much zero when it comes to getting me to repent. Of the history I have learned, that which is of greatest value is that which sets the context of the scriptural texts and also that which illustrates what life was actually like in certain critical time periods. Polemics about MMM, or anything else like it, register a zero as far as I go.

    Comment by Kurt — August 28, 2007 @ 7:19 am

  15. I don’t think it’s so much about what an “average Mormon” should know. After all, I don’t think average Catholics know very much about their church’s history – and especially its less glorious details – either.

    Rather, the point lies in what kind of an attitude there is towards openness and acknowledging the vast imperfections of the organization, its leaders past and present, and its members. In other words, towards closing the gap between the talk and the walk. As long as this openness is lacking in Mormonism and there is a limit to what you can discuss, the core of the problem will remain.

    Comment by Northerner — August 28, 2007 @ 8:33 am

  16. Kurt,
    I completely agree. But of course it gets tricky because we claim priesthood authority which means it had to come from somewhere and it also means other Christian religions don’t have it (though still have Christ’s teachings).

    Northerner,
    So what’s the problem that you’re referring to in your last sentence?

    Comment by Rusty — August 28, 2007 @ 8:52 am

  17. Well it’s a multitude of issues really. The church can be accused of whitewashing and even lying about its past, witholding information, members become disillusioned when they have to go outside the church for the whole truth on some historical topics, etc.

    In other words, I think the church has created unnecessary problems by taking the track it does. If imperfections were openly discussed and acknowledged as normal, even being part of the curriculum, without the need to explain away or sugarcoat, none of this problem would exist.

    Comment by Northerner — August 28, 2007 @ 8:58 am

  18. Rusty,

    At what point does the additional details in a historical record become irrelevant? If we had magical time-traveling video of the MP restoration, would that make it any more “real”? No, it would only silence the critics. It wouldnt make Jesus any more real either, or the Church, or anything else. Critics make hay wherever there is a vacuum. Fill the vacuum, and they find something else to criticize. At some point you have to just throw up your hands and realize it is nothing but polemics and get on with other things that are more substantive. Unfortunately for Historians, Smith wasnt big on documenting things ad nauseum, he was a busy guy, I understand that. So, he didnt write down everything that we, today, wish he had written down.

    The reality of the MP, and the necessity of its restoration through Smith is evident to me when I exercise it properly. That is my experience, independent of any historical record, or the lack thereof.

    Comment by Kurt — August 28, 2007 @ 11:20 am

  19. I do kind of blame the church’s attitude on the explotations that take place when it comes to the darker moments in church history. I really don’t think the church is as open as it should be or could be.

    If you look over the years the church is getting more open but still is very protective of itself.

    It seems to me that we open up when confronted with a situation or someone’s research.

    Within the church I think we have tended to hold back on telling all as well. A couple of quick examples that come to mind: Joseph was a money digger, Joseph used a peep stone to translate and look for buried treasure, Joseph had a curtain between him and oliver when translating, Joseph looked at the plates thru the U&T and then read it to Oliver. When I was young the church history books said Joseph used the U&T, nothing about the rest…a money digger…no way! Peep stone…are you kidding Joseph was a prophet not a weirdo…etc. etc.

    Why are we so afraid of our own dirty laundry? Are testimonies so fragile that a head in a hat is going to make me believe the Baptist’s have it right?

    I don’t get it.

    Comment by Don Clifton — August 28, 2007 @ 11:51 am

  20. Don,
    Then why didn’t I learn about the peepstone until long after childhood? Were you trying to keep it from me? Or did you just recently learn about it?

    Comment by Rusty — August 28, 2007 @ 2:14 pm

  21. Mountain Meadows is an very important chapter in the history of America’s westward expansion–and in the development of Utah Mormonism.

    In 2000 I was served as production manager and research writer for a documentary film company that was producing a film on the Oklahoma City Bombing. In doing research, I discovered that the Federal Government classified Mountain Meadows as “the worst act of terrorism in U.S. history prior to the Oklahoma City Bombing.”

    Now this was before 9/11, when the word “terrorism” was not on everyone’s tongue.

    Most of us working at this Colorado based film comoany were active LDS. Being a Mormon history nerd, I knew all about Mountain Meadows. I was shocked that NOT A SINGLE LDS employee (there were 8 in all) had ever heard of it.

    When discussing Mounatin Meadows, many LDS apologists bring up Hauns Mill. But the two events were not all that much alike. At Haun’s Mill, the Mormons fought back against an unprovoked attack and defended themselves until the end, when about 15 males (including a small boy) were murdered.

    But at Mountain Meadows, 120 men, women and children age 8 and older, were asked by the Mormon to surrender and promised they would be escorted to safety. The victims were lied to, and were completely helpless when they were murdered.

    I do not think that Brigham Young sanctioned or ordered the murders.

    However that they murders were still an OFFICIAL act of the LDS Church. The attack on the immigrants and the murderes were planned by the Cedar City High Council; the entire tragic affair was a Prietshood authorized event, and was seen by the Council as a religious duty on the part of the murderers. (The signal to kill the immigrants was the cry “Do your duty!”)

    The LDS Church teaches obedience to Priesthood authority, and it is LDS doctrine that one’s local Bishop and Stake President and High Council consitutte the local chapter of the very same authority held by the LDS First Presidency and Apostles. After all, it is the LOCAL Priesthood authorities which over-sees conversions, baptism, temple recommends, Church courts and excommunication. In short, a faithful Mormon’s most important dealings with Priesthood authority is at the local level; one’s exaltation relative to ordinances, callings and church service is in the hands of local Priesthood authorities.

    It was these very authorities in the Cedar City area in 1857 who orchestrated, blessed and carried out these murders. So regardless of Brigham Young’s involvment, the LDS Church WAS OFFICIALLY responsible for the murders. The murderers were not simply a band of renegade Church members; they were the Priesthood High Council ACTING AS the Priesthood High Council.

    Does this reflect on all Mormons at that time. NO.
    Does this reflect on the truthfulness of Mormon doctrines generally. NO.

    But these are the facts which modern LDS Mormons needs to come to grips with.

    MAny apologists rightfully say that Mountain Meadows must be understood in context of the Utah War and the Federal Government’s move to put down an imagined Mormon uprising in the Utah Terrotory in 1857.

    By the fears of that imagined uprising and the Utah War itself can only be understood in context of the “Reformation” that had been going on within the LDS Church in Utah for several years previous.

    Sociologists have noted a trend among people that seems nearly universal: when the majority of a human population adopts the same political views and religious beliefs, instead of feeling more secure, they tend to feel less secure. Having won the majority, the community tends to turn in on itself, becoming less tolerant of its own members, and imposing stricter rules.

    This is what began happening in Utah after 1852. The Mormons were finally in a place where they were in the majority and held all the power. But rather than feeling secure, Brigham Young began complaining toat the Mormons had become lax in their religion. He and Heber Kimball and others began a “reformation” of the Mormon people. People were urged to be re-baptized. Polygamy was preached and polygamous marriages sky-rocketed (and several years later, the divorce rate sky-rocketed as many of these same people filed for Church divorces.) Worst of all, Brigham Young and Church leaders began preaching Blood Atonement: it was taught that manylax Mormons who had broken their covenants, could only be redeemed by “having their blood spilt” by the Priesthood.
    Even though the Mormons were in complete control of Utah and in a state of relative peace with the outside world, the leaders began to demonize the outside world. The apocolypse was seen as being near. Brigam Young at this period gave his own interpretation of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount teaching to pray for one’s enemies; he stated that he did pray for his enemies–prayed that they would go to Hell.

    In short, for a few brief years, Mormon Utah decended into a state of fanaticism. Non-Mormons passing through the territory and Federal officers who worked there, were so startled by the fanaticism, that they believed an up-rising was about to take place.

    And the Mormons–isolated from the outside world for almost a decade by 1857–saw an criticism of their Church or Brigham Young as an attack on God.

    This is the context in which the Utah War took place. Fanaticism on the part of the Utah Mormons was the roots of it all.

    I think that the reality of Mountain MEadows shocked Brigham Young and the LDS Church back to reality. After the event, Brigham and the Church seemed to soften–as if realizing that things had gone to far.

    Comment by Rob. Lauer — August 28, 2007 @ 2:21 pm

  22. The Church may often be unnecessarily hesitant when it comes to airing dirty laundry (for one, I can’t think of any organization that isn’t) but their are exceptions. The Mark Hoffman case with the White Salamander letters were at the time so convincing, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley publicly stated that we had to accept them as authentic at this time. Thankfully all that hoo hah was exposed but all things considered, that was a bold yet humble move to make.

    Also, we have to remember that the gospel is an elephant that can’t be swallowed whole. One of the first scoops is Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. Later on down the road may be Joseph Smith used a peepstone to translate the Book of Mormon through the gift and power of God. There’s a difference between airing dirty laundry and hanging it on your front porch.

    Comment by Bret — August 28, 2007 @ 3:37 pm

  23. Bret, the peepstone as an example certainly wasn’t aired or hung anyplace. It wasn’t taught, talked about or in any of the authorized church publications when I was growing up. (That answers Rusty’s question…I didn’t know until much later).

    I agree we teach line upon line etc. and the peepstone, or the MMM isn’t something that new members need to know much about. But these things, the actual history, the details should be available from within. We shouldn’t have to hear about them from outside the church and then wait for the church to respond…if it does.

    The church has in fact made efforts to keep hidden and or to sugar coat historical facts in relation to events and teachings.

    Comment by Don Clifton — August 28, 2007 @ 5:14 pm

  24. Rob, if I could just add a thought to your comment. To me there is a clear and simple lesson to learn from MMM, which is – how much do we trust what we are told? I see an extreme example of probable blind obedience, but sometimes the extremes help us learn. In my view the participants relied a little too heavily on the words of their leaders. We’ll never know how many actually prayed for a confirmation of what they were being told to do, but we can apply this lesson to our own lives in following the spirit. We should be confident in doing what we honestly feel good about, yes most of the time it will be what our leaders recommend. My personal feeling is if we have Godly potential then we are required to learn how to make wise decisions for ourself. An organization with the purpose of growing its body to the ultimate eternal leadership roll will also groom decision makers over blind followers. I’m a little puzzled when I see both.

    Comment by Eric — August 28, 2007 @ 9:57 pm

  25. Understanding the teachings of Christ is more important than knowing the details of history.

    Kurt, one of the teachings of Christ is that we should know our history:

    Which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL God, manifesting himself unto all nations

    Comment by Peter LLC — August 29, 2007 @ 1:09 am

  26. Peter LLC, I think if you consider that scripture, it’s pretty clear that the kind of history the Lord wants us to know about is pretty focused. He cares most about the history that will bring us to Him, that can convince us of His goodness and power of deliverance.

    I also think it’s interesting that the history the Lord talks about is the history He guided prophets to write, even commanded them to write.

    Comment by m&m — August 29, 2007 @ 10:58 am

  27. (Long winded post, apologies offered in advance)

    This discussion reminds me of an essay I read in my English 102 last fall about storytelling in some American Indian tribes. Not only do they value the oral tradition more than written but they build upon it as time goes on. They described it as a web that spirals outward. It was an unfamiliar method to the way I was taught to anylyze history so I had difficulty understanding. Histories have always to me seemed to be “linear” and objective, for lack of a better description.

    As I thought about it, it kind of reminds me of Boyd K. Packer’s view on church history in general, using Jacob 1:2 as a scriptural pretext. A biography reveals he keeps no official journal; the closest thing to it are his discourses and talks of which he allegedly has a shelf full. He values the personalized oral history of speaking with someone who was there rather than reading it from a biographer. He often cites LeGrand Richards as such an individual, who was alive during the time of President Woodruff.

    What my take was (and it could be in error) is that according to Packer and the tradition of some Native American tribes, the oral tradition is more real and “living” than ink scratches on dead tree entrails. From an academic standpoint perhaps it is laughable, but the concept had merit enough to warrant discussion in a university English class.

    In other words, when did a Church that values a written records superimpose a “white-washed” version of events? Was it gradual and evolving, like the story web spiraling outward (ie. the early Saints knew about the translation procedure of the Prophet and glorified it over time into an overtly divine skill) or was this a closed door policy of the early brethren to keep things hidden from a skeptical audience?

    Comment by fregramis — August 29, 2007 @ 5:58 pm

  28. I was a faithful Latter-Day Saint until I began to notice that what I was being taught and the differences in the historical record. If the bretheren were not truthful about history (hiding, whitewashing, explaining etc), what else might be lurking behind the curtain. I spent my time in the BYU library studying LDS sources on the early church and the teachings of Joseph Smith while attending the Y.

    It comes down to this. A boy known for story telling, gold digging and other swindles claims to have been given golden plates from an angel. The book proves to have no credibility over the next 150 years (describing Jaredite submarines, horses, great battles etc). It makes sense to 19th century farmers seeking religious truth but I have grown wiser and no longer fear the man in the closet.

    So does all of this meet the credibility test in the light of our understanding of reality and the universe today? I am sad to break it to many of you but 19th century 14 year-old boys may see God and angels but reality tells me much different. You can “feel” all you want but the entire story has no credibility.

    Comment by Ray — August 30, 2007 @ 10:32 am

  29. You can “feel” all you want but the entire story has no credibility.

    The same thing could be said about parts of the Bible and about Christ Himself. God, too –the Creation, our existence, everything. Honestly, when you dig deep enough, nothing has credibility. At least to the mind of man. Go figure.

    Comment by Cheryl — August 30, 2007 @ 3:07 pm

  30. Thanks Ray. I can see it in your eyes how sad you are to break that profound information to us.

    Comment by Rusty — August 30, 2007 @ 7:40 pm

  31. Is this the same Ray who has been commenting all over the place for a while? ??? Or do we have two Rays floating around?

    Comment by m&m — September 1, 2007 @ 1:52 am

  32. I’m just the opposite in regard to what Ray wrote. I’ll assume the worst: Joseph Smith was a liar, gold digger, and swindler. He made everything up and it’s all a big lie that has been perpetrated for 150+ years.

    Even if that were the case, it means that Joseph Smith was a man of extraordinary intelligence, cunning and leadership abilities to create a church – with an extremely complex mythology to boot, a city and a way of life for thousands of people. Or it’s all true. Either way, he is a man worthy of being a leader and worth following. Especially considering his background and the opposition he faced in bringing his ‘grand scheme’ to fruition.

    I’m inactive, but I believe Joseph Smith and what he says. I’m not particularly concerned with black spots on our history. With the Mountain Meadows Massacre – based on the information they had and the zeitgeist of that era, I probably would have done the same thing.

    Comment by Chad — September 2, 2007 @ 1:11 pm

  33. Since I’m the person whose comments are invoked in this post, permit me to correct your reasoning:

    In the discussion following Eric Snider’s review of the movie September Dawn, a guy named Craig suggests that the “average Mormon” is far removed from his history. This determination was made because Eric commented that the endowment ceremony depicted in the movie has only a passing resemblance to our current endowment ceremony. Therefore…the average Mormon is far removed from his history. Ta Da!

    Actually, you misstate my position.

    Had I derived my conclusions about the state of knowledge of the average member of the LDS Church about his/her Church’s history in the fashion you describe, I would indeed deserve to be mocked for my lack of reason.

    However, I did not reach this conclusion from my observations regarding Eric Snider’s review, rather I based it upon 25 years of membership in the faith and upon interactions with a sufficiently large sample of the membership in diverse geographic locations both in person and online.

    The fact that Mr. Snider’s review fit within this pattern was irrelevant to the conclusion I had drawn long before, and you are disingenuous to misrepresent my reasoning.

    Comment by Craig — September 3, 2007 @ 11:59 am

  34. About the peepstone: it’s just not that important. Elder Nelson made reference to it in one of his recent General Conference talks, so it obviously exists in a church sanctioned format. Frankly, I knew about the peepstone at age 10 (15 years ago) when I was a new convert. I didn’t think a magic stone that helped Joseph translate by the power of God was any stranger than magic glasses that attached to a breastplate that translated by the power of God.

    Here’s what I think about it all: We are under obligation to teach ourselves the nitty gritty details. I did it on my own at the age of 10. I wasn’t passive and sat back and waited for people to spoon-feed me inessentials. We have such limited time at Church on Sunday, and people at such different levels of understanding the essentials of the gospel. I’ve met people who have been members for years who don’t understand the nature of God or basic tenets of the Gospel, and who haven’t even read the scriptures. That’s why the Church handbooks for Sunday school and the like don’t teach these things. So many people don’t even have the basics down, teaching them the minutia that won’t lead to salvation is not the job of the Church. We are told to be anxiously engaged in a good cause. We are to educate ourselves and our children. If I, as a mere boy of 10 living in New Jersey, a child of inactive parents, could teach myself church history through my own diligence then so can everyone else.

    The job of the Church is to preach repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t demand the Church hand you something you can learn on your own. It’s like when people ask why the YM/YW presidency why their children don’t know the gospel: the answer is their parents aren’t teaching them, and they aren’t teaching themselves. It’s not the responsibility of the Church to teach what you can learn on your own that isn’t essential for salvation.

    Comment by John Doe — September 3, 2007 @ 2:50 pm

  35. Craig,
    You are right. While I don’t share your view on the importance of knowing every detail of our history, you are right that you didn’t form that opinion based on Eric’s remark. I’m sorry to have framed you in that context. (And I’ve removed the offending sentences so that my post focuses on my overall point and away from a sarcastic, unnecessary attack on you.)

    Comment by Rusty — September 3, 2007 @ 5:17 pm

  36. I used to hear about people taking dates down to Utah Lake at night to watch the submarine races. I guess they were some of those old Jaredite submarines–nobody ever saw them in Utah Lake, and nobody can find them in the Book of Mormon either. It’s time to require the Rays of the world to read a little more carefully before they open their mouths and expose their ignorance.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 4, 2007 @ 11:38 am

  37. I don’t think it’s important to know dates and details, but I think it’s important to know the truth. Meaning, if something happened one way, don’t pretend it happened another. If Joseph was a polygamist, don’t pretend he wasn’t. If he looked in a hat, don’t pretend he didn’t. If the story involved red, orange, and black, don’t pretend it was pink, blue and yellow just because it makes the picture prettier and doesn’t seem that important.

    It’s the appearance of falsehood, the appearance of hiding something that shakes people. We accept Moses, Jesus, Noah (well, sort of), Job, Alma – we can handle accepting Joseph and Brigham. Just stop hiding it all. That’s what throws people. Don’t make someone say, “I was never told that. That didn’t happen, did it? It did? Really?” And you can say, I learned A, B & C in seminary, but we all know what issues are new information to most people. Those are the things we should just stop trying to paint a prettier color.

    Comment by Sue — September 5, 2007 @ 9:55 pm

  38. Also, I have no idea how long it’s been up, but LOVE THE BANNER! Made me laugh, thanks.

    Comment by Sue — September 5, 2007 @ 9:55 pm

  39. [...] strives to maintain institutional viability. So while many members might want more open Mormon history, the question is whether this would strengthen the organization or [...]

    Pingback by Corporate Culture and the Mormon Church « Irresistible (Dis)Grace — March 7, 2009 @ 8:35 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI