Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Sacred Gift of Religious Freedom - and Remembering Tibet

As I just reported at Sanity Defense, tonight my family watched the video, Seven Years in Tibet with Brad Pitt, based on the true story Heinrich Harrer, the Austrian man who escaped from a British POW camp during World War II and found refuge in Tibet, where he eventually became friends with the young Dalai Lama. I was amazed to see that a Hollywood production would actually expose audiences to some of the truth about Tibet, showing that Tibet was a peaceful independent state that was brutally invaded and seized by Communist China. At the end, we even are allowed to learn that over a million Tibetans have died as a result of China's illegal, immoral, and brutal occupation of Tibet, and that over 6,000 monasteries (nearly all of them!) have been destroyed.

My heart yearns for Tibet and for their loss of religious freedom. The Tibetans are a brave and freedom loving people who suffer under ongoing oppression. Many have died in their quest for freedom - a quest largely ignored by the West. Do Latter-day Saints truly recognize how marvelous the gift of religious liberty is? Do we remember our own roots and our forefathers' escape from religious persecution, even in this free land? Do we stand up for the religious freedom of others?

May we stand for religious freedom in all lands. Tibet would be a good place to start.

I also look forward to the day when the many sacred records of the Tibetan people are more available for our perusal. We have much to learn from the religious writings of many peoples, and perhaps we might find some pearls of great price that are far more than just the philosophies and teachings of men, as wise and beautiful as those may be.

When I was in China briefly in 1987, while visiting the family of a friend in Beijing, I was introduced to an old man - I believe it was the grandfather - who had lived in Tibet and could read their scriptures. He showed me a volume and told me that the study of Tibetan writings had been his passion through his life. Our meeting was brief, but he left me with the impression that these writings were precious and worth his life's effort to study them.

May religious freedom some come to Tibet! Oh, and China, too. That is something we can at least pray for. The Lord has His ways - may it happen soon in those wonderful lands, if only for a season....

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