Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 154 - Book of Mormon, Embrace the Mystery

Click here to go to the Book of Mormon Website
I told you I would blog more about the Mormon faith later after our trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, but I chose to wait until after the Tony Awards.  I was waiting to see the outcome of new musical Book of Mormon's fourteen nominations. Which was second only to the musical The Producers.  I'm not sure where I place this musical or this religion in my brain. Part of the reason is that the writers are the same writers of South Park, a show which I loathe. My kids watched it all the time but I didn't like the foul language and the lewd innuendos. Writing this blog will help me process both of these issues about the musical itself and the religion.

I first went to The Church of Latter Day Saints when I was in high school. The parking lot to the Mormon church was at the end of our back yard on South Washington Street.  I would walk to school and pass through their parking lot.  One time I was invited to their church and I was surprised to see a female give the sermon.  I came from a Catholic family who baptized me Catholic as a baby. Women were only "good enough" to be nuns.  They surely weren't in position to give a congregation a message from God. I was presently surprised and this experience opened my eyes.  The questions about my Catholic faith began to surface.  Why do we need to talk to men only about our sins?  Why was Mary good enough to birth our savior but not good enough to teach us about him?

Mormonism is the only religion that is relatively new.  They have done an excellent job of keeping all our genealogy records and making them accessible to anyone who wants to find out about their own heritage.  When my kids around five and seven, I was helping my African-American husband try to locate his father's great grandfather Abum Carr.  My kids were sitting quietly as I sat looking through tons of micro-fish film.  A lady came in and asked us to leave as kids were not allowed in that area of the research facility. I knew what was happening as there was a "white" family with a young two-year old who was making a lot of noise and they were not asked to leave. I'm sure this lady has read Brigham Youngs quote..."Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 110).

Angel Moroni on top of the Temple in gold
So I have had a bad taste in my mouth for quite some time about this faith.  For a less thorough but quick study here is what I do know.  Joseph Smith had a vision from the Angel Moroni.  He was told to go to a specific spot and start to dig.  He did and found engraved golden plates which were carved with the words that have become the book of Mormon.  It is an American new religion. Mormonism was founded in upstate New York and is now the fourth-largest religious denomination in America. The Book of Mormon told the story of an ancient Israelite civilization in the Americas, including a post-resurrection visit from jesus Christ.  Many other revelations followed, including the most notorious of all: the one advocating "plural marriage," or polygamy.  Because of this, they were chased from Ohio, and Missouri and then Illinois.  In 1844, a mob murdered Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith due to their religious views on slavery and polygamy.

Brigham Young carrying his family 1300 miles to the West

The religion would all but have been dead if it weren't for Brigham Young who lead members in a 1300 mile exodus walking with children on man-made wooden wagons to the barren desert of Utah.  In 1890, the church officially abandoned the plural marriage belief and this opened the door for Utah's statehood.  The whole foundation of the Mormons who often feel misunderstood as they are good citizens and good people. My own observation is that every family that had five or seven or more children was better behaved than the families that I see in the south and the east with one or two children.  Patience and mutual respect is evident in their families.

They flew religious persecution and have a history of a diligence, hard work and a will to overcome adversity. They avoid asking for assistance and help each other.  There are 6 million Mormons in the USA and 8 million outside of the United States.  I am impressed with Brigham Young.  He has built the church to be worth an estimated $30 billion.  It runs and finances one of the largest private universities in the country (BYU).  Many members serve two-year missions abroad for the church, acquiring fluency in foreign languages (and foreign cultures) along the way.  (Mitt Romney, 2012 Presidential Candidate learned French on his mission to France, while John Huntsman picked up Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan. Huntsman is the Ambassador to China appointed by President Obama.) Mormons blend in internationally and here in the US.  David Neeleman, the founder and former CEO of JetBlue Airways, brought lessons from his church to his company, donating most of his salary to a fund for needy employees and regularly shedding his suit and tie for a flight attendant's uniform.  Management guru Stephen Covey has sold millions of books and daily planners teaching and giving the core elements of the upstanding, striving Mormon outlook into a method for becoming a "highly effective" person. Fox News Glenn Beck is Mormon. We all know about the Osmonds but what about the other singer Gladys Knight, she also is Mormon.

Brigham Young
So the irony for me is that people accept the fact that the Roman Catholic church is OK to have its billions of dollars and hide its perverted priests who are accused of sexual abuse.  But it seems it is not OK for a newer religion to have this money which it built from within and didn't kill children in the Children Crusades.  The Mormons are more inclusive than exclusive and also give baptisms to the dead.  Its never too late I guess.

As for the musical on Broadway, I can't help having a connection with it and its signature song, I Believe. I have had this same saying for years. It is on and in my car, on and in my home & on and in my heart.  It is my personal daily thought...I Believe.  The title song I Believe gets to me.  Without the context of the entire musical, it speaks to me because I do believe without proof, it is the core of my own spiritual religion.  Faith.  To not do so would be to live a useless life.  Doom. Gloom. Purposeless.  It provides a religion that is inclusive and easy to adopt into one's life.  It is perplexing how the Book of Mormon Broadway show is so good that it actually is the opposite, exclusive, so exclusive one can't get tickets.  It will be years before I can ever see it.

Beehive House Garden full of tulips
In the mean time I have asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon from our new friends we met in SLC, Ethan and Sarah. I want to read it for myself as the right thing to do is to make my own decision after reading it.  One thing I know for sure that it doesn't take a play, or a musical, or a book, to know what is in your heart.  I Believe I'm put here on this earth for a reason and after that reason has been fulfilled, I will no longer be here whether I'm Catholic, Mormon, Buddhist, Bahai or Hindu.  I also believe that Mormons are just as diverse as any other group of people.  And overall they are genuinely good people.  I know that Brigham Young was a human, a man and all men make mistakes and say incorrect things.  This does not change however the view I have of Mormons or any practicing religious person who lives what they believe particulary when it comes to the Golden Rule of All religions...Treat others as you would have them treat you. I know it as well as believe it.  How?  After touring Brigham Youngs Beehive House Ethan took us to the Lion House which is famous for its rolls.  The Salmon Chowder was divine. I was so in the moment of this lunch and the Mormon environment that I left my credit card on my tray after eating. When I got home, I called the credit card company.  Nobody had used it ten hours later.  They had done the right thing. Would this have happened in New York City? I Believe it would not.

You can order a free Book of Mormon for yourself by clicking on this link...Free Book

You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation. ~ Brigham Young

Footnote: Information was used from Newsweek 2011 about today's Mormons in Congress and our Federal Government.

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