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

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Book of Mormon: "Our Story"

Recently I was in a discussion with the missionaries and a couple of friends, one a member of the Church and one not. One of the missionaries, in talking about the Book of Mormon, talked about the ancient journey of Lehi and his family out of their homeland to the Americas. "Their story is really our story," the missionary said. I was puzzled at first. "Why is this about 'our story'--what does he mean?" As I looked around, it hit me. In this room of five people, I was the only one born in the US. One woman came here from China and another emigrated from Taiwan. The missionary who had been speaking was born in the Marshall Islands and emigrated to California with his family, and the other missionary was raised in Mexico City and his family has now emigrated to the US. Everyone but me had he story of being born elsewhere but emigrating to the United States in search of something better. This is related to a theme in the Book of Mormon in which physical migrations to a "promised land" are treated as a symbol of our journey the Kingdom of God. These journeys include those of Nephi and Lehi to the America, the Mulekites to the Americas, the Jaredites to the Americas, the Nephites from the south to the land of Zarahemla, and Alma and his group oout of captivity back to Zarahemla. The story of deliverance from captivity or other problems by emigration to a promised land, with all the dangers and hardships that come along the way, is "our story" after all.

14 comments:

Tom said...

I have heard from several sources that the Church has Joseph Smith's seer stone. That they have it in SLC. I wonder why they don't show it or have it on display. After all, it is not secret or sacred, it was his own personal stone that he had with him always.
I would love to see it, and think others would as well.
Anyone have any idea on why they would not display it?

Sean said...

That's interesting Tom. Where did you hear that from? It sounds kind of like a myth though.

Bookslinger said...

Jeff,

I believe the parallel could also be extended to the migrations of the early days of this dispensation: of the saints from NY/PA to Ohio, Ohio to Missouri, Missouri to Nauvoo, Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Basin.

One reason for so many modern immigrants to the US is that we don't have enough missionaries to cover the world, so the Lord is brining representatives of the world to the US to get the gospel (plus, obviously, a lot of their friends who don't end up joinging the church.)

But for those who do join the church, they write or phone home (we hope) and tell their friends and relatives what they found, and encourage them to look for it back in their home country. "Hey cousin, call this number in Bangalore, and ask them where the nearest branch is to you."

Tom said...

Let me try to find it. But here is a link to one of the 3 stones Joseph had during his life. http://www.rickgrunder.com/HistoricalArchive/belchersmithdibble.htm

I actually heard about the stone that was used to translate the Gold Plates at BYU, from a Church History Professor. I remember her saying that the Church still had the stone. I was just curious about it as someone mentioned it recently.

Paul said...

An interesting perspective.

It's not always a migration to the US, either. Our bishop in Taiwan said he felt strongly that no one came to our ward in Taiwan "by accident" (virtually all were expats who were working in Taiwan). His personal obervation over the years (he's been in Asia for 17) was that people either came to serve in a particular way, to gain a testimony, to repent, or something. But there was a unique opportunity in our ward there -- where most members were there a few years and then moved on -- for people to fulfill a certain purpose for their coming.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul, not sure who your Bishop was but back in1991 my Bishop in Tien Mu told all the English Teachers to go home back to the states. That we were all teaching illegally and should not be in the country.

Which seems to contradict what your Tien Mu Bishop had to say. Kinda funny how one Bishop of the ward says one thing and the next says something completely opposite. Wish I could tell you his name, but I stopped going to that ward the next week.

Paul said...

From '91 -- certainly not the same bishop! Our English teachers were all there legally (that we knew of) -- we encouraged that, though we knew of some of our domestic helpers who were sometimes not "legal".

BTW, the English ward (7th Ward) no longer meets in Tien Mu, but in the new stake center next to the temple -- a more central location, particularly for those who are spread around Taipei County.

Tom said...

Weird no one knows anything about the seer stone the Church has. It belonged to Joseph Smith, so I think it is worth checking out. Certainly a big piece of our history, so would be nice to see the Church bring it out of the vault.
This same stone was called the translator I think. I can't believe no one else has heard of this or would think it is important to see the actual stone that was used every day by Joseph and was the main instrument used to translate the Book of Mormon.

NathanS said...

Someone would say the main instrument for translating the Book of Mormon was a clear conscience and receptive spirit. After having a disagreement with his wife, Joseph couldn't get a thing from the seer stone until he apologized to Emma.
I'm thinking the stone would sort of take on an idol-worship following almost -- sort of the way the Ark of the Covenant did in ancient Isreal, which they took into battle as a "magic talisman" to trust in rather that taking to battle a trust in and obedience to God.
With the stone displayed, someone would ask, "But did the prophet get his revelation throught the stone? Was he holding it right? Was he looking at it at the right angle?"
You can imagine!
Display it to satisfy our curiousity and we'll be just a bit more distracted and we'll need to pay a little more than a tenth for tithing to pay the additional costs for its security.
I'd just as soon save that money and be without visuals.
Besides, the stone has been far more than history. It's also been an embarrassment. As biblical and authentic as it is, it is also strange and sounding like the occult.
I'm glad we have the account of the stone's use fairly public so anti's can't accuse us of "hiding" anything. But I haven't always been glad and I see little likelihood of any good coming from displaying the stone.
My vote would be for keeping it hidden.

Tom said...

Yes, I think it is more curiosity than anything. But, think of it. We do not have the plates to show, but we have the instrument that was used to translate them. That has to be somewhat exciting to some people. It sure tweaks my curiosity.
I think we could afford the security, it is not the hope diamond after all. By all accounts it was found in a well and looks like most any other stone.
Well, just thinking out loud I guess.

Bookslinger said...

If the stone is in church possession, if it were made public, it would just be mocked. Critics would then taunt the prophet to use it and prove something.

Faith cometh not by signs.

NathanS said...

Tom, you're right on security costs.
Bookslinger, you have a good point, too.
I think it's only the speculative accounts that say it was found in a well. I'm thinking that the historical account is of it coming from the angel Moroni and/or the stone box - or did I just assume that the stone is part of the "Urim and Thummim" (sp)?
Anyone care to give me an LDS historical reference?
Update: I decided to look it up rather than show my laziness and here is what I found: 1)the above spelling is right, and 2)in J.S. History 1:35 the stone is part of the Urim and Thummim that was hidden with the gold plates.
A stone like it may have been found in a well and perhaps Joseph looked at it at some time but the one used for translating was actually used by The Brother of Jared and passed down from Jaredites to Nephites to the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith.

Tom said...

Nathan, I think you have the U&T confused with the seer stone. They are separate in that one came with the plates and one was already with Joseph and he had been using it for years. I found this article that talks about how the translation was done with the seer stone, which seems by most accounts was used for almost the entire translation process.
FAIRLDS
Interesting to see how Joseph used what he knew and what he was given to get the translation done.

Anonymous said...

If the stone is in church possession, if it were made public, it would just be mocked. Critics would then taunt the prophet to use it and prove something.

Straw man much there Slinger?
Let's say that the Prophet did bring out the rock, and then used it for translation and prophecy, would you then have same argument? Me thinks not.
Or is it because you know it is just a rock with no mystical powers that you create this straw man argument? Thereby allowing yourself to feel good about the church not showing it and then you would not have to defend how a rock is just a rock.