Friday, January 04, 2008

Prophets Have Warts!

I have recently run across many poisonous accusations against the Church in comment sections of online news sites. I marvel to see Joseph Smith, a man I revere, portrayed as the basest scoundrel ever to walk the earth. As a member of the Church, I am guilty by association. Apparently I am a racist, a simpleton, an idiot, anti-modern, anti-science, intolerant (OK, that one may hold some water sometimes), and people like me are the source of all the problems in the world. I am apparently no different than Mahmood Ahmadinejad.

I am reminded of a story about Joseph Smith from late in his life. Joseph was the mayor of a beautiful and thriving Nauvoo. The city rivaled Chicago at the time as the largest city in Illinois.

Many converts were coming from Britain. They would arrive on the Maid of Iowa, the paddle boat that served Nauvoo on the Mississippi River. One time, Joseph showed up at the dock to greet the new converts in rough clothing. Joseph asked the first convert off the boat why he was there. "I have joined the Mormon Church." Joseph asked, "What do you know about Joseph Smith?" "He is a prophet of God." Joseph then asked, "What if I told you I was Joseph Smith?" "Then you are a prophet of God." Joseph must have smiled, shaken the man's hand, then said, "I am the prophet, but I have worn these rough clothes to let you know that if you expect me to be anything other than a man, that you should get back on that boat and go back to England."

Joseph might have taught a lesson like that because people seemed to have the idea that a calling to be a prophet should make him perfect. Too many had left the Church because even a prophet called by God still has warts. I forget if it was Lorenzo Snow or Wilford Woodruff, but one of them said that they were thankful to see Joseph's imperfections. I echo their sentiment: If God could use Joseph for His work, maybe there is hope for me.

1 comment:

WhiteEyebrows said...

Yipee! Tony has a blog! I'm subscribed. So... in all the coverage an "intellectual" debate has sprung up with absolutely leaves me in a conundrum...

Should the church more fully embrace and pronounce some of the more quirky aspects of its doctrine and history, or continue the 20th century work of sanitizing and emphasizing the our common bonds with the rest of Christianity? Do we push the "peculiar people" line or "christian" line?

Certain academics who really study our faith make the case that the loss of our idiosyncratic tidbits actually weakens our faith's appeal... interesting.

There's at least one nut out there who loves the church of the 19th century, but hates the church of the 20th century... To each his own, I suppose.