For today’s post I’d planned to talk about the origins of the Mormon religion and a bit about Joseph Smith’s life. I wanted to have a better understanding of where the religion came from while I read Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. In case you’ve just joined us (Hello!), I’ve just made it to Utah and Krakauer’s book is my current read. However, I stumbled upon a very curious video which got me thinking. It showcased different people telling the story of how Joseph Smith came to be a prophet of God, as he is considered by those who follow the Mormon religion.
What struck me the most is how deeply connected these people felt to the founder of their religion, Joseph Smith. He wasn’t this far off concept of a person, but rather a flesh and bone human being who remained tangible, unlike the prophets from other religions. One after the other, the people in this video spoke about how they identified with his search for the truth, the need to know what was real and what wasn’t.
It’s interesting to me that the reason they connect with him is everything that makes him human, when that is also one of the biggest reasons that people criticize the religion and it’s founder. The Mormon religion is based on a man who spoke to God and was given access to religious scriptures, along with the ability to translate them into English. There was no way to corroborate whether anything he said was the truth, I think there’s something very human in that, but human in a flawed way. Those who are skeptical criticize that very human tendency to lie and cheat in order to achieve what we want, but those who believe in Joseph Smith and his religion exalt that human quality of the every day man, the average guy.
Prophets from other religions are virtually unrelatable because they’ve ceased to be people to become tropes in a story. There is a fairly clear history of who Joseph Smith was, which gives people the opportunity to relate in terms of ideology, but also on simpler things like having lived in the same area, for example.In a way, I think the figure of Joseph Smith is appealing for so many people because it implies that everyone can have a direct connection to God if they are humble and honest enough. It seems like a much easier lifestyle to strive for, but, then again, I don’t know much. Yet.
Join me as I keep learning! Until next time, readers.