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?