A varied and sometimes erratic record of what I'm learning inside and outside of the classroom

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mormonism and Tools for Seeking Truth

Boise Idaho Temple

I'm going to go off on a little bit of a rant here, but it will be made relevant, I promise.

So I'm sitting in my New Testament class this morning listening to my professor go off on one of his tangents--this particular one is about his being from Idaho. He talks about the way some of his colleagues in other places have told him that he can't possibly have learned what he knows now if he is truly from Idaho, which some people apparently think is a podunk rural place where people live in sod huts on potato farms and ride horses to the country school to "get them some learnin.'"

I took a little bit of issue with this--I happen to be from Idaho, actually. No, I do not live on a farm. But even if I did, farming is a respectable profession (goodness knows we need farmers--they happen to be vitally important to our survival on this planet, after all) and it doesn't mean that I would be forever doomed to remain a hopeless country bumpkin. I couldn't help but think that if people would take a few minutes and Google my hometown, Boise, a lot of their misconceptions would be cleared up in a hurry. Yes, we even have a university! Which is affordable enough that a lot of people from Idaho can go there and enter the realm of higher education! Amazing, isn't it??

Actual picture of part of Boise State University. Please note the cars, rather than horses, in the foreground.

So, after blowing off a little steam, I started thinking with a cooler head. There really isn't a good reason to be offended because of misconceptions people have about us; learning about them gives us the opportunity to clear things up, and they, in turn, can enlighten other people. The same principle applies to us as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I guess the point here is that with the nearly limitless amount of information and means of sharing that information that we have available, there is no reason for people to be unable to find the truth about us if they take the time to look. The Church has taken advantage of diverse forms of media in order to spread the gospel message, and we can help through our own efforts. Making a profile on Mormon.org is a fairly simple way to share the gospel, and sharing things of a spiritual nature seems to be less intimidating sometimes writing on Facebook or a blog rather than face-to-face.

I have a very dear friend who is devoutly Catholic, and due to my interaction with her I have come to realize the value of going to the source to find the truth of what people believe. Want to know what Catholics believe? Ask a Catholic. Want to know what Mormons believe? Ask a Mormon. If they don't know the answer to a question, they can find someone who does. If we as Mormons wish to be understood and want people to come to us to learn about our beliefs, in accordance with the ethic of civility we must extend to others that same courtesy and have the courage to go to them, rather than to other sources, to find the truth.

3 comments:

  1. I like this thought -- that there is no excuse to be ignorant about something, given that we can use the Internet or ask a friend if we want to know more.

    For what it's worth, I love Boise. I have fond memories of the times we stayed there on our stop over between Oregon and Utah. I wish I could see more of the beautiful northern part of Idaho, which I have only driven through once.

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  2. The area around my high school had a fair number of Protestant congregations. Many of my close friends were strong Christians. Several of my friends' dads were pastors.
    Due to this strong church influence, sometimes I would come to school and hear people express their shock about what Mormons believe. At Bible study, the pastor would have explained his interpretation of what Mormons believed - and yeah. I thought those teachings were strange too. And they didn't reflect what we actually teach.
    The most interesting thing from this, however, is that even when I would explain our belief system to people, they wouldn't believe me! They would choose to believe their pastor instead.

    This has perplexed me for several years now. If someone could explain how a rational person could follow that, it would be great. In the meantime, especially since I've experienced some of it myself, I'm on your side - you go to the actual people themselves and find out what they say they believe. Almost always, that's the best source!!

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  3. Great rant, and great point about information. I feel like too many people depend only on what they've heard or what they've pictured something to be like. With elections coming up this also becomes relevant to voters. How many people actually put the time into looking at what they're voting on? It really doesn't take much effort anymore. Unfortunately, I think even I am guilty of this too often.

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