We visited Temple Square to learn, listen and question. There are things that have always perplexed me about the religion and today was the day to learn more.
First of all, the story itself and the principles of the religion have always left me questioning. After listening and learning the ins and outs of the religion, I was still pretty caught up on lots of things. Two large doctrines that I really got caught up on were the concept of the Prophets and Apostles and the story of the Golden Plates.
The Mormon concept of Prophets and Apostles is quite different from other religions. Apparently, they’re chosen by God (as in other religions), but everything is too convenient. For example, there is only ever one Prophet at a time and never a gap in Prophets. The succeeding Prophet always comes from the current group of Apostles. When determining a new Prophet, the current Apostles meet to ‘pray’ to determine the new Prophet, however, it’s usually the most senior Apostle. Does this sound like the work of God to you? Sounds more like a Board of Directors to me.
Then, there are the Golden Plates. The angel Moroni came to Joseph Smith and told him where to find these gold plates. So, he dug them up. They had the words of past Prophets telling the word of God on them. Even though they were written in Reformed Egyptian, Joseph Smith (an 1823 New Yorker without an education) translated the plates to English to create the Book of Mormon.
Moroni then took the plates back, so Joseph Smith could not retain them. So, he must have translated them pretty quickly. There are lots of holes in this story, but the most curious one is that the missionaries informed us that Joseph Smith’s translation was confirmed by an Egyptian language scholar. Hold on…? How could it be confirmed if he didn’t retain the plates? And the story goes on…
We were polite. We listened to the history of their faith and asked questions to fill in the gaps of the parts we didn’t understand. We visited the Tabernacle, the Assembly Hall and looked at the Temple from afar.
The sisters pressed us on a few questions of faith and tried to connect things in life to God and faith, but it wasn’t enough for us. Kenny did his best to not be too overbearing, but I think the girls let out a sigh of relief when they finally walked away from our one hour long conversation. They were young, innocent and naive, and were in no position to debate the intricacies of the religion.
The LDS Church seems the most foreign because it’s the newest ‘popular’ religion. I feel like the Mormons get a bad rap for that. But, they are also the most active in pursuing new converts than any other ‘large’ religion. But, at the end of the day, all religions have holes in their stories. They have those ‘Huh?’ moments when you get their story in its entirety. So, I guess that’s where faith comes in.
The inexplicable disappears when you have ‘faith’. I guess Ken and I don’t have it, but we’re still out there, exploring, trying to understand the faith of others. And, as always, we are living our lives on this earth to leave it better than when we arrived and to be kind and helpful to our fellow man. What more can you ask for?