I have recently had a very forceful Epiphany, a major paradigm shift, yea even a transient change of heart! See Disclaimer.
New and edited version 12-94
More editing August 27, 1995
Even more editing April 17, 1997
The highlight of my trip was when I slipped in a door and went into the inner most sanctum of the temple without showing my recommend wearing a tie or any white close, more on that later.
A little public / semiprivate journal entry of historical sights in and around Jackson County Missouri. This may contains inane details of Church History, Family and my thoughts about the same, but by the end there will be what I perceive as thought provoking questions. Sometimes it takes me a while to get warmed up.
I am on the plane returning from a 5 day work trip to Kansas City Missouri to recover lost data, due in part to my own making (i.e. I transposed 3084 into 3048 for 2 of 9 Schools causing some 3600 overlapping bar codes.) I have spent as much as 14 hours, and skipping lunch, fixing the problem that the transposition of these 2 numbers caused. After all it was my mistake so I was responsible to fix it (RIGHT! Pay a programmer to fly out and stay in a motel, rather than hire a local temp). The last half of the trip was frustrating trying to search and attach bar-codes in order to get the job done and catch my flight. David Combe, Keith Russell, Lee Worthen, Curt Conklin, Chuck Hamaker, Paul Jordan, Sue Krupa and Paul Gentry, they are all librarian friends of mine, (gee I didn't realize that I knew so may librarians). These librarians can relate to what a mess it is to find 1100 books out of 14000 books, that have a barcode on a book but none on the system. For many books I had to find the book and match it to it's proper Bib record. To say the least this week was very stressful. I was able to do some cleaver programming to clear up 3100 of the records else I would still be in KC. For the company, this was a wasted trip for I could have done most of it over the modem. Who would have ever thought a standard Dynix program would write out a Holdings record and the next line call a subroutine that would reread that same record it had just written, and use thea record rather tahn the one I just modified.
Anyway the week ended successfully, but didn't start that good for me. I arranged an early Sunday flight to catch as many Church History sights as possible. Unfortunately I was accompanied by a much less enthusiastic co-worker, when it come to History.
Right off the plane we headed for Liberty Mo. Since it was near the airport and away from downtown traffic. We figured we could get directions to the temple from there. As we drove from Platt county into Clay County I reflected on the number of times I had heard the name of that county spoken for good and for evil, mostly evil. I thought of my many relatives, most of who's names I have neglected to commit to memory. Though I am fond of mentioning that 8 of 8 of my lines of progenitors crossed the plains as converts. Two lines joined the church as one of the fist 1000 members, during the 1st six months in New York. I remember how Sanford Porter was one of a hand full of Mormons that was not driven from the county or state, and yet remained a faithful Mormon, having his son married Nancy Rich in the Nauvoo Temple a sister of an apostle Charles Rich . I thought also of whom we had recently named our little 9 month old Mary Elizabeth after. The Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, (Smith) family lived with Sidney Gilbert, whom had a store in Kirtland, Far West and Nauvoo, and her brother was a store clerk at both, and it would seem to me would have almost daily contact with Joseph and Emma during those years.
Our first encounter with natives of Missouri while driving through Liberty in search of the Jail, was to pull up to a young buxom jogger and ask her for directions. That is a hobby of mine, while driving. :) Oh ummmm errrrr I mean habit to watch out for all joggers in case they stumble and fall into the road of course ;)
Interesting enough my co-workers asked for directions to main street rather than the jail. "Every Member a Missionary", well I guess they are, after a sort, just some are more pushy than others. (more on that later) We followed her directions and found it. It was Sunday and the place looked closed, we found an open door. We went in, 6 or 7 people were already starting a tour. The young short, fluffy haired sister missionary from Moab sized us up through her glasses and determine we were worth a rewind. She asked if we were there on business and if we were LDS. We confirmed such. Damn, now if I had thought of it, why didn't I act like my true nature and play the Devil's advocate. I could have really taken that (out for only 2 months / greeney) missionary through the paces. I could have been a great grandson of the Fancher party family, with my great grandfather, being adapted and raised Mormon and died a bitter anti-Mormon, when he found out the truth, of the circumstances of his forced adoption.
By the eternal smile was showing threw the white stirpes of my blue and white shirt. hummm.
She rewound and started again by pointing to two pictures of Christ, how our church is centered on him and that we are truly a Christian church, and that Christ directs OUR church today. This was the first of many awkward spiritual feedings that I would experience that day, even though I was in great anticipation of spiritual experiences being on hollow ground.
I now have time to insert other examples of spiritual time travel in my usual hodgepodge, fragmented writing style I will. Oh I do have time, sorry, just what you didn't want to hear. J
Smell is the greatest sense to remind one of past experiences. The slightest whiff of diesel fumes from a bus and I am standing at a bus stop in Rome, it is June I have been out three months and we are up and on our way to tracking very early, while the rest of the Italians are still in bed, and don't want religion, before their morning cappuccino, well even less often that, come to think of it. Behind me is a store that sells some American food and I am lusting over a box of Corn Smacks, I would have given up mega bucks to just have the sweet crunchy, yet soft inside, taste of home and familiarity, but alas I'm the junior companion and today is not P-day, I can not shop, and my companion has way out grown pining for home. I am not sure why he pointed out the peculiar American item of this store, since as junior companion I didn't get to even decide we went on P-day.
There is also the smell of holy incense. It was 6:30 in the afternoon, circa, when we rounded the corner of an older section of town. My companion noticed a larger than normal number of people in the square that day. It was my second week and I was still following my companion, like a lost puppy. No was my eager reply to the question, of "had I ever seen a mass before." I at that point in my mission, was ready to get baptized into the Catholic church if they would allow me to keep even a shred of my dignity that my companion had not torn from me. In those two weeks my companion had managed to drum into me exactly what he had accomplished, beyond what I would ever achieve in my mission. Yes I was humbled, door after door after door. I had no memorized approaches, nor a desire to come across that way. My words came out choppy, mispronounced and with a thick American accent. Humiliated rather than humble would be more appropriate. Even humiliation was not able to prepare me for the time travel into which my smug companion knew he was leading me calf eyed. Right off I noticed that almost everyone was wearing black as we entered the large Cathedral, in the old backwards town of Foggia, a town familiar to many W.W.II GI's. Next I noticed that most of the attendees were old widow like women, with black shoals covering their black and gray streaked hair. It was the patron saint of Foggia mass, my companion explained referring to this obscure saint by name. Which I immediately forgot. Knowing the name of the most obscure Saints, I was later to learn was a status or an odd talent that only the smuggest the smug could pull off. Apparently scriptures of love unfeigned, waxed tiresome, after 20 months with the gentiles.
A very large pipe organ played as I tried to think how I could approach my companion as to if we could return to the apartment, so that I might preserve this Kodak moment, no such chance, the procession into the cathedral had begun and we needed to get a good unobtrusive spot in the back. As if somehow, two obvious Americans in White shirts could blend into this dank sea of black.
Some priests came by waving incense followed by other priest with holly water, or in the reverse order, hell it has been over 20 years. I watched not to get any water on me, as I was starting to feel I was no-longer in Kansas. Some Lay members with purple sashes and a semi military/religious uniforms came through the large double doors to our right and up the isle to the right, followed by a Arch Bishop. Wow an Arch Bishop. Not every city has one my companion pointed out as I gleaned the finer points of distinguishing hierarchy in the Catholic church. I notice a heightened tension in the air as most all eyes turned to the back to view stout men hoisting a large statue of the patron saint of Foggia on a special gurney like mobile platform, or you know the things Cleopatra was carried on. Latin Litanies were repeated against the back ground of grand pipe organ music and the tears flowed from the old women's faces at the sight of the patron saint. I felt faint and light headed, for it was not a physical likeness but a symbolic golden tablet. It was wooden, carved. With flowers and leafs and curvy designs. It had a circular shaped mirror in the upper center. They were worshipping a golden idle, yes a golden idol, I didn't need my scriptural supremacist most senior companion to point this out to me, though he relished in doing so. The reaction and adoration of the people to this gold leaf object sent chills up my back far worse than Ouija board stories by a baby sitter in a dark room with one's parents hundreds of miles away.
This gold leaf embossed as kissed by the Arch Bishop. The outstretched hands strained to touch it's lower supports, and then were drown back limply into a weeping and wailing, submissive shadow. The object proceed up the isle and disappeared through a curtain to the right, that was carried upon the shoulders of lay men in Quasi military regalia, robes etc., ala Christian soldiers as to a holly war.
The Arch Bishop took up his Chair to the Left and recited Latin scripture, which sounded as clear to me as Italian at that point. The music seemed to be building as a choirs joined in. Then my heart stopped as, out of the corner of my eye, there was movement some 20 feet in the air near the curtains that were draped behind the alter, and formed a diamond opening, the music reached it's climax as did the collective emotions of the congregation as this gold idol rose before us perfectly framed in the diamond opening in the tapestries. Gasps, sighs and hushed cries were heard in all directions. I felt totally disembodied from the 20th century. I was struck by the image that this spectacle had been enacted over and over in various forms of grandeur, for what appeared to me to be 100's and 100's of years, and I spiritually felt like a fish out of holy water. The many dreams of showing up to basketball games without my shoes and having to sit out, could not compare with the dizzying nightmare that was overcoming me.
My companion pointed out that the spirit of God was not in the building, but only that of the devil. Though I was not judgmental to that extent, I did not feel conformable in the lest. But what I really felt was a sense that I was no longer in the 20th century. That mediaeval sensation can over power me with the slightest whiff of holly incense.
A spiritual out of body experience, yes, an uplifting one, no, not really.
15 years latter I had another time travel experience, I was working at a beta sight for our general merchandise software at the Stanford Bookstore, we had a Sunday off and 4 of us were headed for fisherman's wharf. As we descended the hill to the piers we went by a large Catholic cathedral, I wanted to go in and no one else did. Mass was getting out, and some older women were just leaving, as I snuck in ever watchful of splashing holly water, the smell of incense overcame me and no "vergona", (personal embarrassment) was going to hold me back. I wound my way through doors and enter the main hall, again not dressed for the occasion. Suddenly I was transported to Italy, not to Foggia of 1400, but to any Catholic cathedral on a given day. It was all there the sights the sounds, of organ music, and the smell of incense mingled with the smell of suet from burning candles. The twelve stations of the cross were largely depicted, unlike the modernist American obscure symbols found in any of typical American Catholic church. And in each Chapel. (alcove) was a full size statue, unabashedly displayed for worship, candles and a new twist, a rather overt sign to PAY for the candles, something needed only in America, where culture is enforced not inbreed. I scurried down one isle craving Italian pastries, gelato, Sister Colu's home made pasta and chicken. I was there, I was time traveling, I was in Italy, but no, something was wrong, some outer sense was giving me a different signal. But it was all there, nothing out of place other than an occasional person dressed in non black close. Then it hit me, my body and Mind and spirit were in Italy, but my feet were still in America. And why, the floor was carpeted, and soft, not the hard polished and beautiful marble of every cathedral I had ever seen.
This reminded me of other missionary experience where mind and body were traveling and my feet were giving different signals, I will relate it for those still reading. I could take credit for inventing this out of body experience if I could only remember the exact circumstances of how it stared. So for lack of better information, I'll pretend I did invent it.
Elder Furgoson was there and we were in the first bedroom near the kitchen, Elder Hawk's room in Calgliari, Island of Sardinia, country of Italy, Northern hemisphere, and worlds apart in time and space from Delta Utah. We were goofing around with our electronic camera flashes, and I was showing Fergy how my camera flash was smart and would flash only a short burst if enough light got to the electric eye to expose a correct picture, thus saving the batteries and recharge time. We shut off all the lights. We lived in districts there for cost proposes and 6 elders lived in the same apartment, (recipe for disaster). After a few flashes, I pointed my hefty Vivitar flash towards him and held my finger in front of the electric eye and fired it, very bright, every one was blinded with the intensity of the flash and we heisted until our eyes could readjust to the dark before moving around. Then it happened, Retina overdose, Image Persistence, Phenomenon, or RIPP for short. The closest thing a missionary get to being ripped. J
The image of the room came back to our minds. We laughed and yelled and whooped and hollered, others wonder what was so funny, I kept saying, I can see the image still, and others said so can I. Then it faded. After some experimentation we discovered that if you shot a bright light and then didn't move ones eyes even a titch, a 3D black and white image burned into one's rods in the eye appeared.
But what is weird, is that, is that images is black and white. It is also frozen in time. And that everything is in focus, near and far and you can see it, but you must resist the temptation to move one's eyes to view what is up, down, left or right, because as soon as you move your eyes the image goes away.
The other weird thing is that you must shoot away from you or only a white spot appears. We soon noticed that we could study the expressions of others faces and move around to where they WERE standing. and we could even see our own feet and walk to the side and know that we are now a foot to the right of where our minds image of our body is.
That feels weird let me tell you. It was strange to see one's feet in one place and feel one's feet in another. We took it one step further and started jumping. We gathered in a circle and jumped in the air and set off the flash. We freaked. we all stared yelling and screaming with delight, for we could see the black and white image of our legs suspended in the air but our feet, surely were toughing the ground. We tossed pillows in the air and flashed them and then groped at the suspended images.
And people think missions are a bunch of stuffed white shirts.
When the climate was right, at other cities, and all those in the district could be trusted to not tell on us for actually having fun on our mission, I would teach the technique of Retina -overdose Image Persistence Phenomenon to other missionaries how to get legally RIPPed. J
(sorry about the sophomoric reference to drugs or alcohol, I do not think this is a funny subject, but I enjoyed making up the ironic acronym.)
I am not a mystic, by any means but I do enjoy an occasional out of body experience.
Are we in Kansas yet, oh I mean Missouri. I am back on the plain writing about the tour of Liberty jail, are we all back on that page now? As I look at this page I would dare say that my hand writing is as hard to read as the original hand writings of Joseph Smith. I saw in the RLDS temple history museum. So Which is it? the humble farm boy who could hardly read, write or spell or the nearly President of the United States and all around genius? Can't have it both ways.
As we entered the Pre-exhibit lecture room a full size statue of Joseph Smith was pointed out by the short constantly smiling sister missionary from Moab. I was struck by it's accurate similarity to Joseph Smith, at least the head.
The statue reassembled the death mask, minus the closed eyes and the bullet hole in the right side of the nose. (OOPS that was Hyrum, sorry for the imperfect memory). But it was the large Roman nose that really made this statue stand out from other idealized likeness. The nose did seem more pointed and less large and protruding from the bridge than I remembered. But it was still a far cry more realistic than all the other idealized painting of Joseph Smith that were in the room or published by the church, for that matter.
As she, the sister missionary gave her rote, but flowing spiel, she mentioned where the saints had moved and where they were forced to move to, again and again. Included were local town names with which I was vaguely familiar and the sequence was just as vague to me. I have a harder time remembering Missouri History compared to Utah History. She did however fail to mention the death of apostle David W. Patton, the 1st martyr of the restored church. She characterized the reasons for the saints expulsion from Missouri as being a North/South, Slave/Fee Eastern city dwellers/western frontiersmen. as the issue. Though the saints, as to my understanding, did publish a political platform of one of their candidate as being antislavery, but that didn't make them all abolitionist, nor totally united on that issue either. We can pretty much excuse a North / South related bad behavior, after all the good guys work & that's all that matters.
There was no mention of Zion being the gathering place and that the Mormons had bragged that they would possess the entire land of Zion. It was not mentioned the friction of newcomers immigrating in droves and voting in a block, by dictation of one man as perceived by the missionaries. No mention of the failed quasi military invasion / rescue attempt, call affectionately by the Mormons as Zion's Camp. You start up a vigilante militia and it gets recorded in history as a camping trip. Oh I realize that there was some very difficult struggles on that expedition, and it may have forged future leadership of the church, but call it a Camp, really! Let's call a mob a mob, organized or not. Why is it that only the anti-Mormons had mobs, and we had councils of 50, and Daughters of Zion. I propose we from now on call it more accurately Desperate Storm. If I remember right, it rained the hole trip and it was seen as God's cold shower for their anger. Zion's army makes a more fitting title than Zion's Camp out.
She spoke of Mormons having their property, cattle, horses and food stolen, no mention of the retaliatory, Daughter of Zion / Danites.
I held my tongue, after all I was trying to be receptive to a spiritual experience. I had never (yet) to that moment stepped foot an a spot of soil where Joseph Smith may have once walked.
As a child living 6 miles from Ft. Bridger, on our yearly field trips six whole miles away, I would look at the tracks the where the original Oregon, Mormon and 49er trail and imagine if I had actually stepped on the same rock as Brigham and my forbears. I had to have, Ft. Bridger is not that big. That reminds me of the 100 anniversary of Brigham Young's death. I asked around BYU of the religion professors and administration building people if there was anything planned for that day, like flying the flag at half mast. I got odd looks in return.
I remember going up to Salt Lake City that day and going to the Church History offices and asking the same thing and being pointed to a display case in the hall showing some personal effects of Brigham Young, but that display had been up for months, and nothing was planned that day. I wonder up the hill a few blocks from the Church Office building and examined the grave and read the markers of the dead Eliza R. Snow. I made mental note of the 100th anniversary forgotten. I didn't pray that day to Brigham Young, but I attempted to commune with his spirit.
I remember that I had nothing to offer but a small flower I had picked up along the way that 29th of Aug. 1977. Some 13 years later as the anniversary of the beginning of the end of plural marriage approached I was working in SLC and I went to a floral shop and bought a dozen yellow roses, my favorite, so why wouldn't it be his as well. I took them to Brigham's grave and places them there on the anniversary of his death.
Who else to honor at the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the end of plural marriage than the man that keep the church together in spite of that most difficult of doctrines. I know that this sounds odd, and I have never told another living soul this, I don't even think I told Renee why we had a visa for a Flower shop in SLC. I am sure that Renee would have thought it a foolish waste of money. I gave an offering of devotion so that maybe on the other side It may curry me a few precious moments to ask the intense and personal and spiritual questions, I have for Brigham Young. I hope to be worthy of more than just the time of day. After all a friend in court is worth a 100 in the court yard, as we learned just this last conference. J
Back to reality now. The visitors center is a small building about the size of a normal ward house, only that all the walls are as tall as the cultural hall. In the center is a rebuilt cutaway replica of the Liberty Jail. The stone floor had all the original rocks, back in their original place, the walls have some original rocks.
According to the tour guide, Joseph Smith should have gone to a jail in the jurisdiction of those bringing the charges, but that county didn't have a good jail so he was sent to a jail for hardened criminals, from where there was no escape. Joseph on more than one occasion escaped from law officials, you know, with the lords help of course, like we need God to help us break the law.
I learned that the "Majesty in Chains", actually occurred at a jail in Richmond, not in Liberty, as I had the mistaken impression.
There were 3 short vocal presentations, depicting the lonely state of affairs of those that were incarcerated there. I was struck by the shear security of the jail. 4 foot thick stone walls not 4 inch, but feet. There was a cavity between the stone wall and the 1 foot timber wall that was filled with stone rubble, so if you were to tunnel through the wood, more rocks would fill your hole in and then you would reach the stone wall. The lower level of the jail, where the prisoners were kept, was 3/4 under ground to add more security. The ceiling also had many large rocks in the attic, so if you tried to burrow out, rocks would fall on you, or at least discourage you.
After hearing the 1st short presentation, we were taken to the front of the jail where two doors in sequence were installed with a 6 to 8 foot hall so that both doors would not need to be opened a the same time for people to enter and leave. One door could remain locked at all times, even when people were entering and exiting the Jail.
As we descended to the bottom level I made a point of being last so that as we walked around the Jail I could reach in and touch the bars that were 6 inch tall and 2 feet wide. They were reported to be the original bars that were found in the ruble of the dilapidated jail, which was at one time converted into the basement of a house. I inwardly hopped that this would at least spark some affinity between Joseph and I. But alias. My remaining hope of time travel was to place my feet on the original stone floor. But it was somewhat roped off and I would have had a hard time explaining what I was doing in there with the mannequins, if I were to get caught. I fantasized of catching a glimpse of power and glory that bequeathed that most significant section to me of the Doctrine and Covenants. (sections 121) But that was not in my cards that day. Rather quite the opposite was the case. The most unusual or awkward moment so far was yet to come.
Oh the plane has landed and I just realized I have no cash to get out of the parking lot. Crap.
OK let me recap, I'm feeling a little awkward about the slightly pushy approach that our tour guide was taking, I was slightly upset with the inaccurate portrayal of church history events in which many of my ancestor had participated. I was anticipating a new and deeper sense of connection to the prophet Joseph, for I was at the very sight of his longest and most significant imprisonment.
After a rather mediocre recording of a rather bland and righteously stuffy portrayal of Joseph Smith, the lights were brought up and the young Sister missionary stepped confidently forward. Repeated in a sterile and rote fashion what she felt was her feeling for the events that had many years ago transpired on this very spot. Though my interest of church history is above average, I was still not immersed in the significance of what had happened some 140 some odd years before. And I didn't feel like anyone else was either.
Oddly to me, at least, she then address the small group and asked if anyone wished to share their feeling as to what kind of spirit they were now feeling about this place.
I know I was much taken back by such a probing and personal question. My first thoughts were not spiritual at all. I was still impressed with what a solid and fortified and small jail it was from the box/barn like structure that I had previously thought of it as being from photo's I had examined. I did not feel like sharing my "testimony" of what a fine and sturdy jail Clay County had built on the edge of the frontier.
I apparently was not the only one not having a spiritual experience at that moment, for the room was awkwardly very silent, and the short pause of silence seemed to reverberate from the domed ceiling that protected the cut-away jail replica and some what hollow site, from the ravages of weather. But modern architecture was unable to do the same for the ravages of the spirit. Our social context of a quiet pause during a lull in a sacrament meeting has conditioned us to accept occasional reluctance to step forth and share. But those meetings are timed and controlled, and most all people there know each other. But this small group was together by happenstance and had never shared personal experiences together. The most prominent aspect we had in common was that we happen to have all showed up at approximately the same time.
No one spoke up as she slowly and persistently scanned the face of each one in the group, looking for someone that might be willing to say something, or anything. I totally averted eye contact, I hold my feeling for Joseph in a precious part of my heart. I do, nor did I in a rote manner, mouth the common phrases that people call their testimony. My testimony is complex and dear, it has been self examined through the refiners fire many times, and has sections of harden steel and parts of soft clay, which if not tempered? can crystallize and become hardened and brittle. But I am true to that which I feel is true, and I do not cheapen it by pretending to feel a spirit when I do not. That is not to say that at other times I did not feel the spirit, it was just there and then, when I wanted to, it was not.
Then to drive any warm spirit I was feeling totally away and to a total feeling of embarrassment and awkwardness of spirit, the tour guide asked one of the old men to bear his testimony of what he was his feelings of this spot. I was shocked dismayed, and felt bad for him. I had ease dropped an a few conversations that day with his fellow judge friend. I had definitely got the impression that neither of them had been involved much in their Mormon church and that they had followed each other's legal careers much more than each other's spiritual journey.
I no longer remember what his muffled ramblings were, but I do remember that it scarcely resembled even a weak testimony of a new member. She shifted her eyes searching for a new speaker, in the midst of his response as he spoke of the physical structure and of, being uncomfortable about discussing other sentiments. After he finished a longer pause ensued. With my eyes averted I tried to study the group as well, to predict if anyone was going to volunteer.
Then she did it again, she called on the other judge, who I thought was even more of jack Mormon than his friend. He agreered with what his friend had said and added nothing more.
This was followed by an even more awkward pause, as all sat still and motionless, as to not draw attention, and be called on. I eyed my coo-worker out of the corner of my eye. He would definitely be the most active church participant of the whole group. He was slouched over looking down, and a little pail, or should I say as pail as a Japanese / American, raised in Hawaii can look pail.
I tried to exude shyness in my body posture, as I search my soul for a glimmer of spirituality that I could find in my heart. But I only felt shame and embarrassment for being a member of a church that was so out of touch with honest, sincere spirituality, that common sense isn't telling this person the obvious. None there were having a spiritual experience at that moment, and were not even in the mood to invent one.
I was shocked and dismayed as our tour guide called on another person to share feeling that obviously were not present. Well at least for myself, and I knew 10 no 20 no possibly 100 times more about Joseph Smith than anyone in that room, and though my inner soul had ached to touch a fiber of his being, it was now being callously and in a rote manner, blocked by a stupor of spirit.
I had noticed, what I felt was an overt or practiced attempt, to try to accommodate a 50ish year old wheel chair person, accord her too many times the opportunity to move the wheel chair as close as any of the rest of us, to the exhibit. Fortunately the lady was on the ball enough to decline all the tour guides inappropriate offers, as, no elevator was available and there were only stairs down to the very floor level, which would have caused no end of commotion and embarrassment to every one is such a folly were attempted.
Well in an ironic way, justice was served, because this older lady, either had not paid attention or had not spoken up much, when everyone was surveyed as to their membership, as the tour started, it became so humiliating clear that she was a member of had been inactive since childhood baptism from her brief remarks.
It was tragic to the point of "almost" causing uncontrollable laughter. You know those times when someone is being very sincere, but they inadvertently use the wrong word and it congers up negative images in your mind which causes you to snicker, even though it gives the other person the total wrong impression.
Luckily no noises were made that even remotely resembled snickering. I was stunned as I tried to recall if I had really heard the old women say what I thought she had said.
Later in the car I confirmed with my fellow coworker, "Did I hear her say, 'Oh this was a beautiful story, and if the world is to ever have another prophet come to earth again, I just hope we treat them better than they did this man'"! He shook his head and gave an awkward giggle, being aware as I was, of what classic missionary blooper we had witnessed. We spoke briefly about how awkwardness the whole thing. My Coworker expressed how glad he was that he was not called on and put on the spot, spiritually as it were.
We next drove to Independence. We had a hard time finding the RLDS temple, there were many churches and many spires. But of course when we were with in a few blocks, the white sea shell like spire really stood out physically and architecturally from the other church .
My spiritual juices were once again flowing, or should I say church History fetish was frothing. We were in the center of ZION! Hosanna to God and the Lamb, Hallelujah! This was the gathering place to which my ancestors had gathered! I was there, finally there! Hallelujah! Well I didn't say it but I glowed it. There it was the Auditorium of the RLDS church, where they have held an alternate General conference for some 80 years. The Temple seemed small, It was raining and we got out and walked towards the Temple, I saw some old log buildings through the rain out on the well groomed large grass lawn behind the Smaller than pictures make it look, LDS visitors center.
Later I was disappointed to learn that they were not restorations but one sided props for some pageant that I had never heard of. After all there is only one true pageant, the Hill Camorah pageant, and then one want-a-be Manti pageant etc. etc... I spied a historical marker and raced for it, as the rain had let up some. My co-worker lagged behind like a reluctant child at the art museum. I carefully read the sign, which confirmed what I already knew, this was the temple sight, where 12 temples for the Higher priesthood would be built and 12 for the lesser, if my faulty memory serves me. and in front of us was the site of the corner stone of the first and main temple.
Obviously the small white, wood shingled church was the Church of the Temple lot. I didn't have to read the sign on the door to know that at that moment a faint memory. Flashed back into my mind of when I was a child living in Lyman, Wyo. of seeing a copy of a book of Mormon, not from the LDS or RLDS church, but from some church called "THE CHURCH OF CHRIST". The verses were separated differently as were the chapter headings. I explained this quickly and eagerly to my reluctant, captive audience of one, who's countenance was one of suspicion and at the same time astonishment, at my carryings on. I remember how at the time it was frightening to see a Book of Mormon, with Joseph Smith's name on it, but not belonging to the Mormon Church.
I went directly to the door, I cared not if I were about to make a fool of my self or not. I wanted to enter the church of the Hedrekites and calmly and compassionately engage anyone of their dwindling congregation, in a supportive and non combative conversation to discover their insights into this sacred plot of land and brother Joseph. I wanted to seek out the kindly old ladies that my favorite BYU religion Professor had spoke of and asked them if they remembered the frequent visits of the this short wavy gray hair smiley, twinkley, eyed Russell Rich. We were there at the wrong moment, their Sunday meeting had ended some two hours before and they were home sneaking peaks at the Snowy Joe and the Chiefs. I had missed possibly my only life time chance to use my charm and sincerity to coax them to lift the case aside and allow me to touch the corner stone to the temple where Christ would return and rule and reign from the center of ZION.
It is easy now to assume that I would have had the gall and charisma to convince them what it would mean to me to remove the case so I could touch the stone. Gee I am at this moment struck with the paradox that I feel that I can communicate to members of a splinter group of my feelings for Joseph Smith, but I could not just an hour before feel any spirit other than that of manipulation when in the Liberty visitor's center. All I can say that is that I was not drawn by those at the Liberty Jail to become in touch with the past for it's own sake, but was sucked into a contrived experience of faith promoting history.
Anyway, we crossed the street to the plaza to the RLDS temple. My co-worker was really dragging his feet. Literally. He didn't want to go in. I was on my tip toes, ready to pee my pants with anticipation. The RLDS people are generally congenial and warm and not pushy about their religion. And even if I had run in to the odd combative type, my many years of attention to any thing related to the RLDS church, had prepared me to better informed than disturbing accounts I had heard of Utah Mormons who had to resort to emotional testimony when their limited knowledge quickly ran dry.
How many Mormons remember how the RLDS church were hoodwinked out of a signed by Joseph Smith, first edition copy of the Book of Mormon, for a forged Mark Hoffman letter, that only hinted Joseph's intention to pass on the presidency to his seed. And how many Mormons have the Gall to use Kirtland, not just Nauvoo plural marriage to indicate their own departure from Joseph's plural wives. And for those hard liners that still insist that it was anti-Mormon lies, I could draw on my own relatives as a plural wife of Joseph Smith.
I have read their extra sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, so I wouldn't turn red faced when presented with the incontrovertible facts that they have more published revelations than we do.
It was looking as though, I wasn't even going to get inside the temple!
Well it is late. so I will send part two, as per how Janet would prefer it, uncorrected or edited.
(Well maybe a quick spell check, I've got Basketball in 6 and 1/2 hours, and my last installment only garnered two meager comments.)
Well the modem was busy, so I had time to correct what spelling I could, but no content check yet. ;(
Well I was inching my way down the long and low steps that lead to a small landing in front of the striking, yet much smaller than post card images create. Then again the LDS visitors center was much smaller than it appears out of scale in pictures. Both edifices were dwarfed by the imposing sports complex arena-ish structure where hundreds of General conferences had been held.
I remember classes from Russell Rich at BYU where he described how RLDS conferences resembled a political convention, but much more sedate. I contemplated the how it would be to actually live the law of common consent, and actually vote by majority to accept a proposed revelation as being binding or requiring further prayer. The idea that as a group we could reject a revelation from God, did not sit well.
Though we don't do that with our arms in the Mormon church, in reality, we do it with our feet. The concept of following our own light and knowledge and contributing that to a motion to add a section to the doctrine and covenants, an a regular basis, did have an exalting and empowering flavor.
My work mate came along slowly and obviously reluctantly as he explained and way to vaguely for e to understand, that he had an Aunt who converted to RLDS, and was feeling uncomfortable about entering the RLDS temple. I found it strange even though he had relatives that were RLDS, that I knew much more about the RLDS religion than he did. I joked that we didn't need an temple recommend to enter, and even if we did, I had mine. He didn't chuckle as I would advance three steps, and then retreat, trying to coax him towards the entrance. I tried to suppress the giddiness that filled me from head to toe.
Oh yes this was not my church, but it was a long lost first cousin, one which held many common roots. I remembered how Brother Rich in a some what respectful manner told us how the RLDS church had started the temple many years previous but progress had been halted due to infighting as to what would be done IN the temple when it was completed. I related this story to my co-worker trying to be accurate, yet interesting, while not doing a Duner.
I imagined the large whole dug for the temple foundation, and it sitting idle for years, over growing with weeds, filling with water on stormy days and finally collecting trash and finally becoming a short cut to the dump. I tried to be truthful as I described how the city of Independence required the RLDS to finish the building or fill in the whole, as it had become an eye sore. I told of repeated continuances as the issue of what would be done in the temple if it were build.
Obviously temple ceremonies like Mormons do in their temple had been rejected as false stories by those Mormons or temporary lapses by Brother Joseph. Eventually the hole was filled in. The impressive structure before me was a testimony to dialog and persistence. But a house of the Lord, I did not get that feeling, it was more like a modern catholic (small) cathedral. I finally declared that I was going in, so he could either come in out of the slight rain or go back to the car. He tried to talk me into returning to the car, I would have nothing of it. I marched up to a line of double doors and started trying them, until I noticed a couple come out the set on the far right. My coo-worker reluctantly followed.
We entered to be greeted by an empty circular desk with stacks of pamphlets on one end. I quickly gathered up the most interesting ones, trying to watch to see that I was not taking booklet size ones that may actually have a price tag. There were multi-page full color glossy booklets, explaining their church and the purpose of their temple. They had come to a conscientious that it was to be a house of prayer. Though all the architecture was circular or conical, or at least spiral shaped, I felt certain that prayer circles were not the order of the day. We had arrived late and as we approached another desk more at the entrance to the inner chapel, there were tour guides that informed us that we were too late in the day for the last tour.
My coo-worker seemed relived. I'm sure I appeared, hyper, persistent and overbearing. I enthusiastically coaxed one of the older gentleman to just give us a quick walk through. He suggested that we stroll through their small church History museum. I took him up on that offer in a flash. It was a small room about 2000 sq. feet, half of the room was a book store from Herald House.
I was rushed with schedules and timing and trying to keep my coo-worker content that I totally forgot to pick up an hymn book and verify with my own eyes in their own temple, that they did in deed sing "We Thank Thee Oh Good for a Prophet" as I had suspected and not as Gorden B. Hinkley had used as a point to bolster his argument that we are the only church with an (infallible) prophet. The Catholics have an infallible Pope. And since RLDS member and vote down a proposed revelation, they have a prophet, but he is only infallible when the let him be. ;)
A week ago at a lecture on portraits and possible photo's of Joseph Smith an RLDS historian, after the meeting confirmed that they indeed have that song in their hymn, book. Then he added the most interesting aside. The used to have the hymn "Come Come Ye Saints" in their hymn book, but it was dropped due to disuse in the last edition. I queried if it was not used because of the strong association to the Mormon Church and the Tabernacle choir, but he was reluctant to put his religion at unfair disadvantage. Good for him. To fairness I would add, come on Gordon, the second I read your statement at lest 3 churches popped into my mind that would sing that hymn. Carve a few hours a week from your corporate Franklin planner, errrrr ummm I mean Hyrum ???. Smith Day-Timer, and take a class at the Lords University on splinter groups of Mormonism. But that would not only be humbling but hard, one because that wonderful Professor Russell Rich is dead, and that class was offered during the Camelot years of church history in the mid 70's and would not be offered with the same objectivity as it was in those golden years.
As I entered the small museum I finally began to feel that oneness with the past, that spirit, of Mormonism, as I walked up to the actual wooden and crumbling door that was salvaged from the rubble of the liberty jail. I look around, did not see a sign or railing to prohibit my reaching out and touching the past. I still felt a little inhibited, but touched it anyway. I felt rushed by the circumstances, but soaked up every nuance, scratch, and smudge on documents and objects that were under glass cases, but obviously not connected to security equipment. It was refreshing to be in such a trusting environment. There were pages of the manuscript or printers copy of the book of Mormon. By the front entrance was a leather case owned by David Whitmer which Joseph used to transport the translation of the Book of Mormon.
In another case was the epaulette I believe they are called, the Military decorations that are places on the shoulders of high ranking officers. There in that case was a sword of Joseph Smith and the epaulette and a cane all of which were part of his uniform as General of the Nauvoo legion. Remember Joseph was charismatic in spite of what would have made another man below average. Joseph had a very large nose, a large chip in his front took where a mobster had chipped it, trying to force acid down his blasphemous throat. Joseph spoke with a whistle on his "S"es for the rest of his life. Joseph also walked occasionally with a limp, and sometimes used a cane. It should be remembered that if it was not for the insistence of Joseph him self his leg would have been amputated as a small boy.
I have often looked on the drawing of Joseph Smith addressing a large gathering, after the legion had put on a Military parade. He stood in full generals uniform, Gold or Brass tassels dangling down his shoulder, like the one's before me. On that platform, cane in view to his side, raising his sward in the air, in defiance to any anti-Mormons lurking from a distance, stood before his people as Prophet, Priest and King. This was his moment of glory, his triumph over affliction, adversity, and doubt. This was a Prophet's Prophet, not to be even closely approximated, by any church leader in our dispensation. Though he command the largest army in the state, in the largest city in the state, the most successful city state ever created in this the United States. Still Joseph was fallible. It was not his crippled leg, or whistling speech impediment, or Roman noes, that was his Achilles heal.
It was choosing friend, discerning people with evil intent, the wolf among the sheep. It was also his indiscretion and impetuousness with the ladies, that left him vulnerable. The glory of that moment in the glimmering Sun, only contrasts the darkness of despair, as only a few months later, whom he thought were fellow leaders and confidantes, were willing, for their own gain, betray Joseph Smith spiritual wifery, in the Nauvoo expositor. Though Joseph would have said that he went calm as a lamb to the slaughter, his peace would have only been in his assurance of his final exaltation, not calm as to the physical and emotional turmoil he would have to endure, not just in this life, but in the next, due to his lack of proper judgment.
These were the feeling that reside in my heart, not as blind objectification of a man who's flawless stature I may never acquire, but as a realistic role model, driven by passions and influences for good and less good by friend and family. As I gazed into the life sized portrait of Joseph that is so commonly portrayed in our church, to paraphrase Brigham Young, I felt like shouting Hallelujah, that I had ever know (the portrait) of this man. The portraits of Joseph and Emma, life size, or bust size, done when they were both alive, though, idealized, as the RLDS historian pointed out, Artist do above all want to get paid. Next to Joseph's sward was a petty coat worn by Emma Smith under which she had hidden the Manuscript of the Inspired Version of the Bible. This object more than any other that day drove home the human frailty and suffering and reality of the struggles, not just the triumphs of those times.
I wanted to study every inch every detail, every loose thread, but I had not the time. Many documents, only received a cursory glance. I was running on endorphins and though it was 6:30 or so and we had not eaten since a snack on the plain, my coo-worker needed to eat something and had to sit down. He was ready to leave and go eat. I had not yet peered into the inter sanctum. I left him eating a few meager Starbursts. I race walked around a log circular corridor to some double door, I quietly opened them and follow another hall to a large flat fountain with some inscription. It will make a nice baptismal fount when they convert, during the millennium. :)
I turned left at the fountain, and the inner chapel opened up. Very light colored pew, fanned in a opera house style facing a large podium which had a large shiny pipe organ as a back drop of which even the shyest speaker would surely be the focal point. It appeared small, maybe hold 1400. With a definite modern style, the spiral nature of the ceiling drew one heaven ward, temporally, only to drop back to visual point of the podium.
The large Cross worked into the general design, in a much more unobtrusive fashion than photo's make it stand out. It had much more of an Protestant feel, all most progressive Catholic, than any Latter Day Saint feel. It was not like the unique Mormon temple like the Kirtland or anything mystic like the Nauvoo temple. It had a Protestant / Mormon corporate feel to it. Though I don't know for certain, I got the impression that on the outer levels there were rooms and sections, not dedicated to prayer, but corporate office space, like our own Joseph Smith Building or Church Office building or SLC temple annex building.
I longed to spend return to the museum and ask to see other object that were not on display at that moment. But we were off for a short jaunt to our own visitors center, and then to dinner.
Frankly our visitors center was a disappointment. Many films aimed at conversion, I was not interested in that, and was happily SURPRISED that my co-worker was not either. What it had to offer was Photo copies of church documents, and reprints by the RLDS church of the book of commandments. A short description of how my GG Grand Aunt Mary Elizabeth and Caroline Amelia had saved copies of pages of the book of commandments from a mob that had thrown the press out the 2nd story window and burned papers in the streets.
I was aware of this story, but I did not realize that her brother James Henry Rollins, was a witness to the fight at Galveston, where the Mormons and Non-Mormons, got in a fist fight at the voting booth. He was also a witness to the mob actions at either far west (where the Rollins family was living) or Hans Mill. The church History 3 projector slide show quoted his diary of the mob actions. I will have to confirm whether it was Hans Mill or Far West that he was witness to.
Weeks later when reading more on my family history, I realized that I drive right past the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas river where my GG Grand Aunt had taken steerage, on the way to St. Joseph Mo. to Cross the plains, in 1863. Her non-member husband had moved the family away from the center of Mormonism for some 18 years, and drove past the post where she any thousand of other saints took the bend the river to the jumping off point to the great western frontier.
A few weeks later, after returning from Missouri, I had occasion to Attend Legacy with my parents, and a brother and a sister. I had heard that Legacy was loosely based on the story of my GG Grand Aunt Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, but until I saw the movie and read more of Mary's life history, did it realize that it WAS her life story, with literary license, applied to paint a more orthodox community, and an what some may consider an engaging love story.
I found it odd that "Eliza" would choose to leave a faithful Mormon fiancee who promised to not marry her until they could be married in the temple, for some hunk of a new convert, how stole her away and got her pregnant before the temple was even completed.
So romance is more important than celestial marriage in the temple.
Mary's true life story was more poignant than that watered down screen version. She choose to marry a non-Mormon, rather than become the first plural wife of Joseph Smith. I was amazed to read and learn the intimacy with which my relatives who had lived right there in Missouri, Adam Lightner was a resident of Liberty, before marring Mary. I was also surprised with the familiarity my relatives had with the prophet Joseph.
".... on the 4th of July there was a general parade of the Legion; about Noon Emma to me to borrow my dining table, [Mary lived on the same block as the Nauvoo Mansion, and taught Emma's daughter painting there] as the officers were to dine with her and the Prophet Joseph."
Then she tells of Joseph getting a group to gather to get re-baptized in hopes of getting Adam Lightner to take the plunge.
Mary writes "Mr. Lightner found a job cutting cord wood 15 miles up river, at a place called Pontusuc. ... The Prophet Joseph, on learning that we were going to leave there, felt very sad, and while tears ran down his cheeks, he prophesied that if we attempted to leave the Church we would have plenty of sorrow; for we would have property on the right hand and loose it on the left, we would have sickness on sickness, and lose our children, and I would have to work harder than I ever dreamed of; and, 'At last when you are worn out, and almost ready to die, you will get back to the Church.' I thought these were hard sayings and felt to doubt them. But the sequel proved them true." Then in her life story she goes one to tell stories like on the 12th day of September at 12: o'clock noon, a Man purporting to be a physician from Quincy, Ill. came to their house to sell them medicine, that could cure anything. The doctor pretended to take some of this special root, Mary's Aunt took some for her liver condition and two of her sons that just came in the house took some as well as Mary and Adam. In a few moments all became deathly ill. The two boys ages 3 and 10 died. The Aunt was thought to be dead and a sheet laid over her, both Mary and Adam were not expected to live. At 9:00 that night Mary's Aunt came to life, but had convolutions for two weeks, ten men had pronounced her dead 5 hours before. The whole town turned out to see justice to the man that had given them poison. The places a rope around his neck, and raised the window in front of Mary's bed for her to see them hang him. She pleaded them to desist and try him by due course. It was only her own failing health, that they were persuaded to stop the lynching. The man had a friend in town that helped him escape that night.
Tell me what in Legacy is more gut wrenching and faith promoting than that. With all the laws she had seen broken by non-Mormons and her death bead she could have turned the other way, in seeking vengeance of her children. Yet again true life is more poignant than white washed fiction.
Mary lived as husband and wife for 50 years, suffering at times from what she determined as not following Joseph Smith's prophecy, that if they the Lightners moved away from the saints they would not prosper. She recants many gut wrenching accounts of times of plenty, followed by times of extreme disaster and poverty.
She tells of their house being hit by lightning, and the next day 7 splits in the walls could be traces from the roof through to the ground. All the house were knocked unconscious. Mary awoke after a half an hour, she was able to revive her husband 5 hours later. Hours later, when neighbors saw movement in the house came to tend to the family, as they supposed that all were dead. Her husband did not get out of bed for 2 weeks. Mary claimed that for two years when a storm came in she would be ill until it passed.
"People came from a distance to see it, and wondered that we ere not all killed. A few days after this I went out to milk my cow; when about half done, she stepped over the bucket and fell down dead. This was a great trial to us, for my long sickness had used up our means. We were obliged to leave the house and move into one close by. All of us came down with the chills and fever; in a bad from. I was again given up to die. We got a little girl to stay a day, when Mr. Lighner took the baby on a pillow and rode horseback to Nauvoo for mother to take care of it. I never expected to see it again, the thoughts of leaving my little children in the condition we were in seemed more than I could bear. I thought of all that the Prophet Joseph had told me, and felt in my heart that it was all true. I prayed for help to get well, but the Doctor coming in, said there was no hope for me. But I dreamed that an angel came to me and said if I would go to Nauvoo and call for Brother Cutler, that worked on the temple, to administer to me, [I] (sic) should be healed. But we could get no team to go. I was in despair; however my brother was impressed to send for me, he felt that something was wrong, so he sent a boy with an ox team after me. I was so glad, that for a few moments I felt new life. but the people said I would not get a mile out of town when he would have to bring back my dead body. But I said I wanted to be buried in Nauvoo, and pleased them to take me there dead or alive. So after fixing a bed in the wagon they placed me on it; the neighbors bid me good-bye as they supposed for the last time. (They were not of our faith.) We went a mile and stopped the team; they thought me dying; all the children were crying. I had my senses and motioned for them to go on. We went a few miles further, stopped at a house and asked to stay all night. The women was willing until she saw me. She said I would die before morning, and she did not want me to die in her house. Mr. Lightner told her that I would certainly die if I was left in the open wagon all night. She finally let us in. She made us as comfortable as she could and fixed me some light food; after drinking some tea, I felt better and had a good night's rest; but she was glad when we left, for she thought I would never see Nauvoo. After traveling a few miles further, we finally reached Nauvoo. They still thought me dying. Mr. Lightner told him my dream; soon they brought him in, he administered to me and I got up and walked to the fire alone. In two weeks I was able to take care of my children."
This was only one of many poignant stories of Mary's life. Since her husband was non-Mormon their family was being allowed safe passage while a mob was going to drive the remaining Mormons out of that village. She was a seamstress and used to make formal shirts for the Governor Boggs. A mob was gotten up to march on Carthage, Mary was forced to make a flag for that company or suffer the consequences, she could not understand her feeling of sorrow that day but would only under stand her lowliness of spirit after Joseph and Hyrum was murdered. Her apparent life long feeling for Joseph, are demonstrated by the fact in her life story, she refers to her husband of 50 years as Mr. Lightner, rather than Adam. She saw it as a marriage of necessity rather than the screen version of a marriage of passion.
The are stirring scenes of courage and integrity in Mary's life story, that could not be told because it did not "correlate" due in part that she married a non-member. After all we wouldn't want to portray a Legacy of part-member families, now would we. I have not yet found any indication that Mary wrote in her diary of "Blessing" an Ox that was near death, but once when Mary was on her death bed, her mother came to help her. Mrs. Keziah Keturah Van Benthuysen Rollins anointed Mary with oil and gave her a blessing. Mary dramatically recovered. Some how in our culture we have become more correlated to accept Mary praying over an ox, rather than Keziah anointing her daughter and laying her hands and her and healing Mary.
Mary was not simply a down trodden lowly women. She was a women of courage and integrity as the following snippet from her life story illustrates.
"About this time occurred the Haun's Mill massacre where the mob killed 17 men and hurled their bodies down a well. Oh, what a time that was! One man was shot several times. He crawled into the brush. The men follow him. One said, 'Shoot him.' Another said, 'No, let him suffer. He's dying anyway.' But he did not die; he lived to go to Utah and lived to a good old age. He lived in the same town [Minersville Utah] as I did and I've heard him tell many times that story as well as other incidents connected with that terrible massacre. His name was Charles Jameson. He told of a boy whose mother dragged him away from the mob when he was very week from loss of blood. In desire she prayed to know what to do. A voice told her to take slippery elm bark and bind on the wound. She did so, the bleeding stopped; he got well. This boy was Warren Smith."
"In the midst of all this sorrow word was received that the militia and hundreds of men were marching to our city to destroy its inhabitants. A part of the bloodthirsty mob camped near the outskirts; placed a cannon in the road intending to blow up the place. they sent in a flag of truce demanding an interview with John Clemensen and wife and Adam Lightner and wife (John Clemensen's wife was my husband's sister). The four of us went out to meet them. A number of Brethren were there well armed. General Clark, who was with the mob, shook hands with Mr. Clemensen as he knew him, and said that Governor Boggs had given him and order for safe removal before they destroyed the place. I asked General Clarke if he would let all the Mormon women go out. He said 'No.' I asked if my mother's family could go out. He said that the Governor's orders were that only the two families were to go out; all others to be destroyed. I said, 'If that is the case, I refuse to go; for where they die, I will die. I am a full-blooded Mormon and not ashamed to own it.' He said, 'Oh, you are infatuated. Your Prophet will be killed with the rest.' I said, 'If you kill him today, God will raise up another tomorrow.' He answered, 'Think of your husband and child.' I said my husband cold go if he chose and take the child with him, but I would suffer with the rest."
"Just then a man who was kneeling near some brush jumped up. I saw it was Heber C. Kimball. He stepped between the General and myself and said, 'Sister Lightner, God Almighty bless you! I that my God for a soul that is ready to die for her religion. Not a hair of your head will be harmed for I will wade to my knees in blood in your behalf.' 'So will I,' came from Hyrum and others. The General pleaded with my husband with out avail. The next morning, the Prophet and his brother Hyrum were given into the hands of the mob militia. A few days later my husband's brother came from Lexington for us to go to his home 40 miles away. As we found our people were not to be massacred, we concluded to go for a time. Clemenson's family and ourselves took a change of clothing and were ready to start when we heard a posse was hunting for my brother Henry, who had not been married long, ..."
As her diary indicates, Mary was aquatinted with a man that witnessed Haun's Mill massacre, rather than being at that sight as the movie indicated. Rather than playing the roll of always hiding from the mob, Mary confronted it, while men with guns hid in the bushes. But this truthful Legacy of courage, was edited, because the only reason that Mary was treated differently by the mob, was because her husband was a non-Mormon, who had relatives in near by Liberty.
If I had seen Legacy a read my GG Grand aunt's life story before going on my trip to Missouri, I may have had a much more closer kinship to the places that day.
We talked briefly with a short dark completed Sister missionary, very youthful, with braces, she remarked how the story of Mary Elizabeth as a small child, gathering pages of the unbound book of commandments, was her favorite story. I wondered how she would feel if she saw had read this account as well. I felt a totally different spirit from the second sister missionary. She was joking, smiling and did not at all seemed to be concerned about her contact to conversion ratio. If I were a non-member visitor I would be much more interested in cultivating a sister missionary that was living life and the gospel rather than one that was only concerned that I start living the gospel as she saw it.
I queried the bright young girl as to her awareness of the historical museum across the street. She was enthusiastic about things she had seen an learned there as she was about the objects in our visitors center, and lamented that most of ours were reproductions, and it didn't have the same feel as the documents across the street.
I baited her with a question as to how soon the church would be building a temple on the land owned by the church that was part of the original temple acreage. And I postulated as to the possibility of the Hedrikites selling out to the rich Mormon church as I would need to know how soon to pack. In a guileless fashion she took my quires as innocent and sincere question, not knowing the answer there to, she took it up the latter to an older Married Sister missionary sitting behind the desk.
Apparently the older women had been annoyed with the bubbly personality of is very young sister missionary, and in all most a scolding voice, replied that non of that was likely, after all a temple was being built in St. Luis, a relatively short distance and there was the Chicago temple also near.
If this story of my trip to Independence, seems somber and cynical, it is because I am still influence by the realization that struck me like a thunder bolt. My heart did sink as candle of hope flicker out. I see my testimony as hundreds of small candles, or truths. There are a few large ones as well. This long term large flame had burned in me, that this was the church of the restoration, and that Jackson county was the center place of Zion and that some day we would once again cross the plains as our forebears, to settle and build the temple on the corner stone, and it would be that temple, where Christ would return to rule and rain.
I still ponder, why are we building a temple, in St. Luis, why not on the site of at least one temple lot that was dedicated by Joseph Smith? Have we lost the vision of Zion? Were the stories not true? What is stopping us. Surely a church with a net worth of 22 Billion, I've heard, can purchase whatever land they want, and if not, So what's a few 100 feet one way or the other. I have a hard time seeing certain people leaving their leather Chairs, and their Cheery wood desks in their plush corporate offices and building a hand cart and crossing the plans to sit in a wooden chair, at a pine table, drawing up a 40 year plan to build a self-sufficient community to raise up a temple unto God, without a general contractor involved. Which General authority is going to hew stones with their own hands, to haul lumber on their backs, to till the soil by the sweat of their brow, to keep food on the table for the community, to keep it from starving. These same leaders whom don't have the faith in us to tell the true story of Mary Elizabeth Rolling Lightner, and of her Legacy, how can they leave their 22 Billion corporation behind to start a new community in the center of Zion?
Maybe I'll learn something some day that will kindle a spark and ignite that smoldering candle, and then maybe not.
I have recently had a very forceful Epiphany, a major paradigm shift, yea even a transient change of heart! See Disclaimer.
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