Friday, May 6, 2011

New Directions...?

I related a story when I started this blog 4 years ago about hearing a rumor when I was about 16 that the SL temple being closed for 5 years to prepare it for the second coming.  When I asked my very sweet grandma who worked at the temple about it she laughed at both the thought and my gullibility.  It burned me to my core!  I vowed to never accept anything slightly sensationalized related to the church without sound documentation.  Thus started my journey down a road that lead me away from traditional TBM-ism.  I had various ups and downs on that path that lead me to feel strongly that the church needs to do a better job of sharing its history with less white washing that it currently does, something that has increased significantly over the past 60 years or so.

Fast forward to this week where the Deseret News had an article stating, "Active Latter-day Saints want their church to provide a 'frank and honest' presentation of church history, unvarnished by attempts to sugar-coat the past in order to make it more palatable."  This survey was not done by DN, but rather "done by the family and church history department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."  Furthermore, it wasn't given to people like me who frequent the bloggernacle, it  "targeted members who use the church's resources to do family history."  That is pretty cool.

This is pretty sad:
...the survey also showed that respondents [g]et much of their information about the church's past from historical fiction. When asked to respond to the statement, "I learned much of what I know about church history from 'The Work and the Glory,"' (a fictional series of books and films about an early Latter-day Saint family and their trials) Olpin said almost half of the respondents answered "yes."




1 comment:

Cody said...

I don't know if it's so sad that many of the church members get their church history from some of the fictional books. I personally don't think it is essential for everybody to know an extensive, detailed history of the church. I'm not saying that it's ok to be ignorant of our past, but for many people it's alright to have a superficial knowledge of historical events. And some of those books, while fiction, do provide details of church history that can be quite informative to the average member. I recently read "The Undaunted" and loved how Lund was able to weave so many factual historical events and people into that book. There was stuff I had never heard of that he had documented sources for.
I think the church should provide the good, the bad, and the ugly for those members who wouldn't otherwise do the research to get the real story. And when I say provide I mean make it available, not necessarily shout it from the rooftops. That way some members won't be shocked and fall away when they hear some of the stuff that tends to get white washed. The difficult balance in this though is that you need to provide milk before meat. You can't just start telling an investigator or new convert about mountain meadows massacre or Joseph Smith's multiple wives, or that he used a diving rod and seer stone.
That leads me back to my first topic about how it's not so vital for the average member to have an indepth, detailed knowledge of church history. Just like converts on our mission. They didn't have to obtain a tremendous knowledge of church doctrine to qualify for baptism. Step by step, little by little.
Also, I think by and large the general population of the church is much more educated than the general population of the nation. Have you seen when Jay Leno goes to the streets to ask basic questions from people like who our vice president is and other simple questions? They fail miserably.
Having said all that, I do get extremely irritated with false doctrine or people rehashing incorrect historical things with the church. For that reason, I think it important that the church make the information more accessible to be able to dispel some of the false things that are said.