Monday, June 29, 2015

Why much of the world is still opposed to Mormonism

We're still in June and look at the height of the corn growing in Nauvoo.
 We've seen a about a dozen red Cardinals the past year. This is not one of them of course, but it was a good reminder for me to mention it to you.

This is the location of where the Nauvoo Expositor was located in 1844 which I referred to in our last post.

The Whys Behind Opposition to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
My head is spinning with information that I've been collecting the past year and specifically the past few weeks. I'm not sure how to put it all into words in a condensed form that still makes sense. So please, bear with me, and I'll try to make sense of why America in mob form would take the law into their own hands and murder. I will also relate it to the Presidential elections of 2012 and my opinion on why conservative Americans were so opposed to voting for a Mormon President that they stayed home rather than voting out an incumbent that they were passionately opposed to.

Last week we had the mayor of Nauvoo, John McCarty, come to our missionary training meeting. We've always had a member of our church give the training so this was definitely unique. 

Here is what we learned:

Of the 1,100 residents in Nauvoo, I'm guessing that only about 10% of them are Mormon. We were all hoping that Mayor McCarty could give us insight into how to better blend our culture with theirs. It was rather discouraging to hear him report that out of the non-Mormons living in Nauvoo; probably about 60% don't like us very much. Why you ask? Well, despite the fact that crime is incredibly low here, and we buy their stuff giving quite a boost to their economy, we also "block their view of the Mississippi River when the tourists come to town". In other words because we're here, we draw tourists who crowd their streets with pedestrians during the month of July when the pageant is here. In Nauvoo, the medium age is 51.6 with 20% under the age of 18 and 30% over the age of 65. The residents don't want to move, and they just want their small town life back. They don't care about the boost to the economy because they are largely retired or on welfare. My discouragement came because we can't fix anything. We are simply at an impasse.

Another issue is that when the Nauvoo Temple was rebuilt in 2002, it was constructed after the historic temple completed in 1846 just a couple of months before the LDS people were run out. The deal is...the temple is huge! This 54 thousand square foot white lime stone building with round windows and magnificently carved sun, moon, and stars, is a sight to see. Highway 96 runs through the tiny town of Nauvoo. There is one main turn in the road and that turn is where the temple sits. The problem is not the temple itself because it is well manicured and gorgeous, but it drove the property taxes up for surrounding properties. Then in 2007-8 when property prices fell all over the country, they fell here too. Now home values are down, but taxes stayed high. This is certainly problematic for the citizens here with the vast majority of them on a fixed income. Again, we are at an impasse. Only good government could fix the tax problem and that doesn't seem to be a commodity that we have these days.

Interesting phenomena: I learned this week that typically the surrounding communities don't like Mormons, but they do like the LDS people. Hmmmm... If we tell them that Mormons and LDS are the same, will they decide they don't like the LDS either or will they decide that they like the Mormons after all? 

Actually, did you know that the term "Mormon" was a slanderous nickname given to a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints starting as early as the 1830's? Did you also know that the term "Christian" was a slanderous nickname used for a follower of Christ after Christ's death? Obviously, it's all what you make of it.

So here is what I think the problem is. In general, people get an idea or view of something in their heads, and they stick to it regardless of facts that contradict their thinking. Here are a few examples.

While at the Kibbe Museum last week, I asked one of the workers why there is still so much negative publicity about Joseph Smith. She said, that it was largely because Joseph was trying to use his large legion of soldiers to take over the country. (Even though 175 years have passed with no concrete evidence whatsoever this rumor continues to circulate.)

She also claimed it was the "polygamy thing". (Maybe it's me, but after last week's ruling by the Supreme Court, I don't think what members of the LDS faith did in response to the death and carnage left by opposing mobs is outrageous. How else do you have posterity faster than you're being killed off by your enemies? What do you think?) 

I asked an 11 year old at the Kibbe Museum if she had ever visited the Carthage Jail. She said, "Yes, once, and it was creepy". Then she described a pile of bones that was kept in the corner of the jail. (Hmmm... what could she possibly be talking about? Remember we lived there for three months last summer.) 

Some of our friends have refused to read the Book of Mormon because their church leaders have told them that it is evil and devilish and that even reading it can mess up their minds. (Hmmmm)

At a political caucus in 2012, we learned astonishing things from our neighbors about the LDS faith. Basically, they feared that a Mormon President would follow Mormon leader's direction rather than make decisions best for the country. Did you know that we're all a bunch of sheep? We also learned that they still think Mormon women are ill treated even abused with impunity. (I think they have us mixed up with some other church.) We heard rhetoric that the Mormons are way out in left field with talk of seeing angels and having gold bibles. (I suppose the parting of the Red Sea sounds pretty far fetched to a Buddhist or a virgin birth sounds ludicrous to a Jew.) 

In 2012, three million Republicans got it in their head that no way under any circumstances would they ever vote for a Mormon President, so they stayed home on election day or they voted for a white horse candidate who could never win the election. But they wanted to make a point---no Mormon President. Well, they made their point and now the whole country suffers for it.

Human nature is fascinating to me. Perhaps, conservative America will save themselves next election and get behind the most likely candidate who can win the whole election. But it doesn't look like collaboration is in their future.  I can't think about it....makes me crazy.

 We went to another little museum here in Nauvoo near Peter's Place. The museum also had copies of Joseph and Hyrum's death masks. People have asked about the death masks and I referred them back to Salt Lake City. Sorry for the misdirection. They are right here in Nauvoo.

Commemorating the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum.
Every year we honor Joseph and Hyrum on June 27th. Last year I wrote quite extensively about it so I won't say too much this time.

Finding Truth:
I will say that it was a very nice program. The most memorable part to me was when President Gibbons spoke. He talked about Christ first. Approximately 30% of the world claim to be Christian but not all of them believe that Christ is the Son of God. President Gibbons pointed out that either He is the son of God or He isn't. 

A much smaller percent of the world has a testimony that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Again, either Joseph Smith was a prophet of God who talked with God and translated the Book of Mormon, or he wasn't and he is one of the greatest charlatan's ever.

Christ asked Peter, "Whom say ye that I am?" Matthew 16:13-17 Peter answered "Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God." Christ replied, "Blessed art thou Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not reveal it into thee, but my Father which is in Heaven."

How can you know truth as Peter knew? 
Acts 2:37-43  (They were pricked in their heart)
1 Corinthians 12:3 (no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.)
3 Nephi 11:46 (And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.)
Moroni 10:5 (By the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things.)

You too can receive personal revelation through the Holy Ghost and know whether or not Christ is the Son of God, or if the atonement can truly save us from our sins.

You can know for yourself if Joseph Smith was a man of God or one of the worst men to ever walk the earth.

How can you know you ask?
Doctrine and Covenants 9:8  (But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.)

I invite you to ask sincerely in prayer for Heavenly Father to make the truth known to you. I invite you to read the Book of Mormon and take note on how it makes you feel. I'm still reading it in English alongside a Spanish version. Whenever I read I feel peace; I feel happy; I know that it is the work of God. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

More Family, Kibbe Museum and why all the hatred toward Mormons

My niece, Arick Connor and  nephew, Andrew Brown came to Nauvoo with their families.

 Another Nauvoo miracle: Andrew decided to bring his family to Nauvoo over a year ago. While planning his trip, he threw the idea out to his half siblings who are spread all over America to meet him in Nauvoo. The invitation was accepted, and all six siblings met in Nauvoo gathering together for the first time in fifteen years. The cousins blended and the brotherly and sisterly love was so thick I think I could have cut it with a knife. So sweet....Thank you Nauvoo!
 Niece, Arick, at the visitor's center.
 My sister, Rachel Gardner, husband, and her youngest two sons also came to Nauvoo this week.
 Elder Johnson had them mesmerized while giving them a demonstration in the brick yard as shown in the picture below. The family reported that they loved the tours we gave even though they don't actually look that impressed. What do you think?

This week on our Preparation Day as we call it, we took four of the full- time young sister missionaries first to lunch and then to the Kibbe Museum in Carthage.

 The sisters have these cool and stylish bicycles to get themselves around in Nauvoo so a car trip to Carthage and lunch made us the heroes for the day.
The Kibbe Museum is a neighbor to  our Carthage Jail Visitor's Center in Carthage. Numerous times last summer we tried to visit but whenever we were off work, the museum was closed and vice versa. Our visit this week was delayed again as the main tour guide was on vacation and it didn't open until noon. However, after getting groceries in Keokuk, we perservered and were able to tour the museum.

It's much bigger than it looks, and we were amazed at what we found. Alice Kibbe is the woman that the museum was named after. As a professor of the Carthage College in the late 1800's, she had quite a collection of random but interesting items from rare ocean shells, to newspaper articles from the 1840's when the Mormon's were here. We also saw models of the Abraham Lincoln Arch erected in Chicago in 1865 as well as the train and casket that President Lincoln's body was taken in around the country. Did you know the practice of embalming humans came into practice in America during the Civil War when deceased soldiers were taken back to their homes for burial? Abe Lincoln was embalmed several times during the 20 day trip around the country after his murder.

Okay, you're right, I was most interested in fact even fascinated with the newspaper articles printed during the 1840's describing the conflict with the Mormons. I was so fascinated that I purchased copies of everything they had available. 

 John Taylor was editor of the Nauvoo Neighbor and in the paper mentioned above, he defended the church and it's leaders against the writings of Thomas Sharpe as well as clarified church doctrine.
One paper I still hope to get soon was distributed by the Warsaw Signal on June 28, 1844-the day after the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. However, the editor didn't get the story right. Four men were not shot and killed in Carthage--only two-- leaving two witnesses to declare the rest of the truth... Neither had the Mormon's come to Carthage to help Joseph and Hyrum escape like Sharpe claimed, but the prisoners had been shot in cold blood while incarcerated illegally and with a promise from Governor Ford of Illinois that Joseph would be provided safety and a fair trial. Hmmmm, since in those days it took at least half a week to set the type and print a one page newspaper, how did the paper appear merely 14 hours after the shooting? Is it coincidence that there were all sorts of falsehoods? Sounds more like self incrimination to me!

 The Nauvoo Expositor below printed the paper that put Joseph in Carthage Jail. Printed right here in Nauvoo, (the old printshop is currently a furniture store) it was full of horrific lies. I purchased this paper but could not stomach much due to the offensive topic and language. Elder Johnson read more of it. Here are a few of the debaucheries:

1. Basically, the Mormon men were made out to be guilty of seducing young orphan girls. Spiritual wives is the term used. The broken girls were said to be left lifeless and in ruins.

What is the truth? Only about 5% of the Mormon men (between about 1843 and 1890) were ordained to practice plural marriage. No one could practice it without prior approval. The fact was, during that time period there were many more women than men in the church and many women would have been left without a husband and children had plural marriage not been instituted. Husbands were required to love, cherish, provide, and care for all wives and all their children. Not all marriages were consummated, but rather were in name only to provide support for the women and children. 

In other words, the practice of plural wives practiced by the Mormons was nothing what-so-ever like what the Nauvoo Expositor described. (I'm curious what percent of the current 15.3 million members in the church today have ancestry connected with plural wives. I bet it's really high because we talk about it from time to time amongst ourselves and many if not most of the members claim to have ancestors that practiced it. I've never heard even one story like the one in the Nauvoo Expositor.)

If you still have questions see

2. The Nauvoo Expositor claimed that much of Joseph's activities were done in secret--specifically excommunicating individuals without their knowledge or receiving a fair church trial, or marrying women secretly and leaving them alone and broken.

None of this was true. In Doctrine and Covenants 28:13 ( Mormon scriptures) it says: "For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith." There are many church records to show that the actions taken by church counsels were performed with love, prudence, and transparency. Marriages were the same.

3. Sylvester Emmons who is mentioned above claimed that the Mormons believed and taught that there are many gods who fight amongst themselves. Emmons denounced this teaching as blasphemous and therefore worthy of being eliminated from off the face of the earth.

Hmmmm, I've been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints my whole life. I've been to hundreds of meetings, taught hundreds of lessons to all ages, read all the standard works as well as any history I can get my hands on, and never once heard this doctrine. I can safely say that it's simply not true. We believe in God the Father, his son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost. The three are so much in agreement that we refer to them as "one in purpose". Does that sound like fighting?

Anyway, what if it were true that we believe in many gods who fight amongst each other...what of it? Sounds more like Greek mythology to me. Please, help me understand. If a particular doctrine is politically correct in one eara in a certain part of the world, why is it worthy of death and extermination in another? Is it dangerous to society? It is certainly incorrect but that is a matter of opinion I think.

4. Joseph was accused of usurping political power over the people in the surrounding communities. 

A little background: Though the Mormons had escaped the Missouri mobs after the Extermination Order in October, 1838, enemies were still trying to extradite Joseph and bring him back to Missouri where they could kill him. This was common knowledge even to Joseph. One time, while visiting Emma's brother in an outlying town in Illinois, Joseph was taken by Missourians and while on their way to Missouri, soldiers from the Nauvoo Legion escorted Joseph to Monmouth, Illinois instead where he appeared before a judge and was freed. This action was used to paint a picture that Joseph used the Nauvoo Legion for his own selfish interests and seemly proof that Joseph was thus capable of abusing the authority given him as Lieutenant General of the legion. It's kind of a twisted way of saying, "You're not allowed to use the Nauvoo Legion to save your own life even when law is broken in the attempt to kill you." 

Bottom line was that the Mormon's were a problem in the political world. They voted against issues that supported slavery; they voted for candidates who were kind to them (Hmmm, is that a bad thing?) while enemies voted for candidates who promised that they would do all they could to destroy Mormonism. Remember there were three political parties in 1844--The Whigs, Democrats, and Anti-Mormon Party. (Looks like discrimination and persecution was legal in those day.)

More: Nauvoo was growing faster than any other city in Illinois and rivaling Chicago in population. New converts were coming in by the boat loads from Europe and other countries regularly. Converts were also coming in droves from across America. This was all frightening to the citizens who were depending on control over their new settlements. This new and melting pot of people was confusing and threatening. The Mormons learned to do business between themselves or with people who were fair and kind to them. (Heaven forbid!) Land speculators were angry and upset financially, when the Mormons refused to buy land if it were outlandishly over priced. (Imagine that!) 

Still more: Selling newspapers was good business. Thomas Sharpe in Warsaw was a good story teller and had money to make. Related to financial concerns settlers in surrounding communities wanted the Mormon's out of the way if they couldn't be controlled. Spreading derogatory falsehoods through the printed word was an easy way to do that. With anti-Mormons working with Thomas Sharpe, mean and slanderous rumors did fly. Also, preachers all over the world were loosing good members in their congregations to this new rival church. There was plenty of financial motive for initiating hatred toward this strange religion.

Okay, so there you have a mouthfull. Next posting I'll relate these old beliefs to why people around the world today are still leery of a growing church that promotes concepts like living a good life, following Jesus Christ in all he taught, obeying the laws of the land, and being accountable for your own behavior- to name just a few. I think I can shed just a little more light on why America would reject a Mormon President even at the risk of re-electing a President that they are diabolically opposed to. Stay tuned.

In the mean time, I invite you to read and look up some of your most pressing questions about the church. Remember, you wouldn't interview Judas Iscariot to determine Christ's teachings so go to a site that will give you truth about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There certainly are a great deal of twisted and convoluted teachings about it so get the facts straight from the source.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Family in Nauvoo, The Young Performing Missionaries, Smith Family burial grounds

School is out, and the world is coming to Nauvoo including family.
 My brother, John Broderick, and his family spent a few days with us.
 The Nauvoo Pageant hasn't started yet, so Elder Johnson and I were still able to give family members tours of most of the historic sites.

 We are still primarily in charge of Pioneer Pastimes and got some great shots of my niece and nephew when they came with my sister the day my brother left.

 When two year old Landin got to Nauvoo he kept asking where Joseph Smith was. The next day he reported to me that Joseph Smith didn't die....He woke up! What do children know that we adults miss?

Young Performing Missionaries (or YPM's for short or "Yipp'im's" as Elder Johnson calls them)
are so amazingly talented. These missionaries have to try out and out amongst over 300 candidates, 24 of them are chosen.  They arrived in Nauvoo in the middle of May and currently perform several times each day in different productions.

 There is another group of 24 that make up the Nauvoo Brass Band. They too were tried and proven before arriving in Nauvoo.

 The Nauvoo Brass Band come to Pioneer Pastimes twice each day inviting the kids to join them in a parade around the park.

We love it...makes for an added dimension to all of Nauvoo to have them serenade us.

When our daughter, Tiffanie, and her family came to Nauvoo, we arranged to take a handcart trip. A one, two, or three mile trip is offered which includes wading through water, steep hills to take the cart up and down while pushing through beautiful Nauvoo.

 We had a terrific time!
 We also took the kids on a carriage ride pulled by horses.
Of course we took the family to Carthage Jail and gave them a stellar tour. Some things we'll never forget even though it's been awhile since we served in Carthage.

 We watched a play put on by the Yipp'ims called Just Plain Anna Amanda.

 Our grandson, Keagan, was selected to join the actors on stage at the end.

 We had a little talent show of our own with our voice teacher, Chenille Saunders and both families--Huntley and Saunders.

 Elder Johnson accompanied Chenille as she sang Memory from Cats. He also played the Rendezvous overture.
 Most of the kids performed as well.

 We ended with Chenille singing Fourteen G. We somehow missed getting a picture of Chenille. I suppose we were all so mesmerized that we forgot. Chenille is amazing. One of our grand-kids said, "She made opera sound good....I didn't know I liked opera."

I'm kind of thinking I'm probably not going to be singing like her any time soon. Oh well, we can't help but improve with her guidance.
 Huntley Family in front of the Nauvoo Temple.

Where is Joseph and Hyrum buried you ask? Well they were initially moved around in an attempt to hide them from the mobs that killed them. Their original caskets were buried in the town cemetery with sand in them while their bodies were buried in the basement of the half finished Nauvoo House near the Smith home in Nauvoo. Apparently, the mobs were threatening to dig up the bodies and desecrate them. How mean can you be?
 The bodies were later buried on Emma Smiths property somewhere when the Nauvoo House was completed. After the Keokuk damn was built, the bodies were dug up and relocated under these cement head stones. Actually, I think the bodies are all three encased in cement so there won't be any grave robbing without a great deal of noise.

 Joseph Smith's parents, Joseph Smith Senior and Lucy Mack Smith are also buried near the Smith Homestead.

Here are some facts to make your head spin. The month of May this year we had over 5,000 guests not counting Carthage.

We currently have 775 people scheduled to come to Nauvoo in June. They are primarily youth groups and large family reunions. That doesn't include any groups less than about 100. The numbers for June will probably at a minimum triple.

Large groups scheduled in July total 1,475 people. Looks like we need to steady ourselves for another tidal wave of tourists coming that month.

August will slow down dramatically. Only 321 in large groups are scheduled that month.

By September, we will be packing up to come home. Looks like summer is about over don't you think?

My invitation to you is....come to Nauvoo sometime in your life. If you haven't already come, will you make it a goal? Set a time and make it happen. Everything is free, we don't take donations either and it can change your life forever.