I would comment about the Mountain Meadows Massacre and its sad legacy. The recent publication by the Assistant Church Historian as co-author of yet another new treatment of the unfortunate moment when Brigham Young’s clamor for “defending” the Saints got out of hand. The book is called Massacre at Mountain Meadows. The book reiterated how mistaken and regrettable that moment was in LDS history. It is the great example pointed to by anti-Mormon sources as proof that Mormons are capable of all the depredations of Historic Christianity, Roman Catholicism and Puritanical excesses that killed those who offended them. The church has issued an official apology, and President Hinckley visited the site and dedicated a monument as an act of Latter-day Saint contrition and regret.
If we had suffered then, as we had in Missouri and Illinois we would have been better. If given the opportunity to suffer again for our faith, we would be better remembered by history if we learn the lesson of Mountain Meadows. We are ennobled by our sacrifices. We are detested for our revenge and violence. In General Conference a few sessions back, President Faust gave a talk titled The Healing Power of Forgiveness. Unfortunately, his great example came from the Amish, whose young daughters were killed by a murderer, whom they forgave. It was not taken from our own conduct. I would commend that talk as a more recent and more reasoned statement on violence and the violent than the comments of Brigham Young who Latter-day Saint historians now admit had some role in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Not because he approved it, he did not. Indeed, he sent a message to let the entrapped party go. But his message arrived too late. The violent attack had already taken place. The violence having been rationalized, at least in part, by Brigham Young’s own militant comments in the preceding years.
I am not trying to persuade anyone. Go ahead and resolve this issue for yourself. I am only setting out my own view. Take it for what you think it is worth. If you think it is “of the Devil” or “Satanic” then of course you ought to reject my view. But I have considered the quotes of Brigham Young before reaching my view, and find them in a context which even I believe he grew to regret.
Whether we like it or not, we have an interest in knowing more about ancient Egypt than any other Christian faith.
I think if you study those six books, you will understand the Gospel.
There, confessing my sin does make me feel better. Maybe I’ll cover some others in the future.
I got asked about loss of teachings or practices within the LDS community. My response is as follows.
Jesus never challenged Roman authority. He submitted to it. When the time comes for the establishment of Zion, it will not be necessary for us to deviate from Christ’s example. Those who are in the promised latter-day Zion will be protected by the “the terror of the Lord.” The residents will be those who “will not take up arms against their neighbor.” (D&C 45: 66-71.) There is no need to overthrow the world. It will overthrow itself. The Lord will not permit the wicked to destroy the righteous. (1 Ne. 22: 16.) It is the wicked who destroy the wicked. (Mormon 4: 5.)
Mark Twain had a greater influence on my childhood development than any other writer. Here are a few of his quotes:
There’s that old saying that when God wants to change the world, He sends a baby. Whether that baby is Buddha, or Gandhi, or Abraham Lincoln, or Henry Ford, or Thomas Beckett, or Jesus, the world changes when babies enter mortality. All lives matter. No one matters more than another in my view. The accumulation of lives well lived is the stuff of history. How many unnamed artisans were required to build the Parthenon?
You matter. All of us do. Good ideas can now spread on eagle’s wings, so to speak. A spark kindled today can light the whole world.
Second, the primacy of good.
Identification of the “remnant” was critical to Joseph Smith. Although we’ve discarded the issue, it was of central concern to the early Brethren. So much so that the “remnant” was what drove the movement westward near the “borders of the Lamanites” The first missionaries were sent to the “Lamanites” as part of the Restoration’s concern with the promised “remnant” of the Book of Mormon people. (See D&C 32: 2.) The Saints were required to move west to be near these people as part of locating Zion. (D&C 54: 8.)