Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mormon Myths and Testimony

I get so angry when I get a "faith-promoting" email that is clearly a fabrication. What kind of person lies about events to build faith in the truth? Doesn't that cause their head to explode? Apparently not, since it happens all the time.

The folks over at Legacy, a show on the Mormon Channel, had a great time talking about some of the popular tales that go around the church. They are passed off as true, but they either are clearly false or they can't be verified. You can listen to it here.

They include information about the spire on the St. George temple. (Brigham didn't insist that they rebuild it; the people didn't refuse his direct order.) They talk about the John Taylor's watch. (He thought it was hit by a bullet and it saved his life. Turns out to be very unlikely. It was broken as he fell.) There are at least four meeting houses where the story is told that the people didn't know how to build a roof, but they did know how to build a ship. So they just built the ship and used that as the roof. (We even got a version of that in general conference recently. I wonder if they are disputing the accuracy of that story, too. In any event, it is easier to build a roof than a ship.)

Was the Mormon Battalion the longest infantry march in history? No. Did all the persecutors of Joseph Smith die horrible deaths? (There was even a book about it!) No. Did Brigham Young receive inspiration for the Salt Lake temple to include unexplained shafts that were eventually turned into elevators? No, the temple was originally built with elevators from the Otis company.

Who started the Gold Rush of '49? Listen to the podcast to learn more.

There was one statement at the very end of the podcast that I disagreed with. One of the speakers was irritated by the common misconception that "almost all the pioneers came across in handcarts." Furthermore, when youth do handcart reenactments, sometimes they will have a time when recruiters come to take away men from the company for the Mormon Battalion. The boys leave the reenactment and must watch the girls push the carts alone, frequently on one of the most difficult stretches of the journey.

This is a very emotional part of the experience for the youth. The commentator in the podcast then stated emphatically that the Spirit won't testify to a lie and that even though this may be emotionally powerful, we shouldn't leave the youth with the mistaken impression that the Mormon Battalion happened at the same time as the handcarts. (They were actually separated by about 10 years.)

I just can't get behind this objection. I think true principles can be taught in parables. I suspect that some of the stories in the scriptures didn't happen exactly the way they've been passed down. And yet they can still teach us true principles and the Spirit can still testify to us. I don't think I'm contradicting my sentiment in the first paragraph of the post, but perhaps there is a bit of wiggle room there.

All in all, it was a great podcast. I enjoy many of the podcasts at http://radio.lds.org and I'd recommend them if you're looking for something great for your iPod on a Sunday afternoon.

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