Top 10 Church History Sites

10. Brigham Young University, Provo UT. This may be a surprise but it was the first time in my life that I found myself surrounded by liberal Mormons who were not family members. These friends were students and professors and I learned a lot about thinking and feeling. And God. And, you know, other important things. It becomes a key Mormon history site because of its diversity. I was also told after being sustained as the RS 1st counselor that I would not have been chosen if the RS president knew I was a Democrat. “I’m not sure I trust your inspiration,” she said.

9. Mormon Island, Grand Island NE. In the words of the Motel 6 clerk from across the street, “there ain’t nothing going on over there.” He was right except that there was a picnic table in commemoration of the pioneer picnicking done there.

8. Temple Square, SLC, UT. When I was a little girl, I liked hitting each station–glass boxes housing scenes from Mormonism. I’d pick up the telephone, push the buttons and stare at these tiny dolls depicting martyrdom or death on the plains. The only other place I’ve seen like it was in Bombay India where they used the exact same ‘doll/action figures in glass cases’ idea to depict Ghandi’s life and mission. Temple Square is ranked 8 because now there are no glass boxes and I get ticked at the movies that manipulate me into crying. Jerks.

7. Palmyra, Palmyra NY. I did not actually go. I drove by the sign for Palmyra on I-90, but as I passed the sign I felt tenderness for this place where the Smith’s made a place for Joseph and this new religion. The religion that converted my people.

6. Carthage Jail, Carthage IL. The jail was a little too solemn for the wild west shoot out I knew occurred there, but there’s nothing like being in a place where people you cared about (and deified a bit) died. I went to the jail after having hung out in the Groves in Nauvoo, just below the newly built temple. I thought about the sermons preached there and was sure they were my kind of Mormons. Except for that whole polygamy thing. Ick. But since that was secret, I have decided it wasn’t preached among those progressive trees.

5. Liberty Jail, Liberty MO. I was 19 years old, with a new fire for Mormonism that had gone out in my teen years. I sat in front of the little two-story jail and sang Praise to the Man with my Institute class. Electrifying. I felt so deeply and so purely that Joseph Smith was a prophet and persecuted for Christ’s sake. Unfortunately, the song creeps me out now but the memory remains sweet.

4. St. George Temple, St. George UT. I spent two weeks with my grandparents in St. George shortly before I was to leave on my mission. I went to the temple everyday for those two weeks, sometimes to avoid my grandparents, but mostly to commune in this new and sacred way. I wish I had a picture to show you how ugly I was at the time. I am 5’5” and at the time weighed 160 lbs and with a weird hormonal problem I have I had severe, cystic nodular acne (the doctor’s diagnosis). My mom lovingly said I had a face like hamburger meat. I was fat and ugly and I knew it, but mostly I felt defiant of others’ judgment. The doctor prescribed steroids and accutane, which meant that I looked even fatter and I was also red, dried out and peeling all over. I did an endowment and some other ordinance every day and the more ordinances I did, the more I felt like a goddess. I thought the temple clothing made me gorgeous. I wondered if the worn out pioneer women felt like goddesses there too.

3. Independence MO. I went to a ward there after hitting all the LDS and RLDS (Community of Christ) sites, and smack dab in the middle of the Midwest was a congregation of Pacific Islanders. With only smatterings of white people. We asked how come and an old Tongan woman said, “a couple of decades ago our stake president said we needed to come and build Zion. So we came to Independence.” Huh, I thought, they were building Zion. The 10 whities surely couldn’t have made much of the ward.

2. Spring City UT. I had a boyfriend from there, though that is not what makes it historic. It is now a bonafide ghost town but back in the Mormon day it was bustling. Full of artists and farmers, my favorites among Mormons. The chapel is built out of the oolite stone of the nearby mountains and the benches and stairways are magnificently planned and carved. Faith rarely goes into my art but I was certain that faith went into theirs, and it moved me. Orson Hyde is buried there and there is the only wood-burning pottery kiln in the West there, owned by a Bennion.

1. Adam-ondi-Ahman, Daviess County MO. There’s nothing around but farms and open space. No church missionaries or tour guides. Most of the land is leased to farmers for soy. I have never been in a space that felt more sacred to me. I went when I was 19 and then the summer after I turned 20 I went 4 or 5 times. I had a vision in my imagination of Adam calling his loved ones there and his heart aching with love and hope for his children. Then I saw Jesus there. And his followers. And we were taking the people we loved to Him, to be healed. In my vision, I took my dad and my brother, both broken by mental illness more devasting than leprosy, and He laid His hands on them and healed them. And then, they turned and healed me and we worshipped together. I am certain the land is waiting for something to happen.

My faith hit major changes around my 24th or 25th birthday but the intense, visceral connections I have with these physical spaces make me suspect that I will never leave Mormonism. I love Mormonism for our beautiful buildings that we didn’t even have the education to build (the Kirtland Temple), for the wide open spaces that we know Jesus will visit and for a mythology tied to very specific, physical places.

Comments

  1. Mark Butler says:

    I would hasten to add:

    1. The Garden of Gethsemane
    2. The Garden tomb and environs
    3. The western wall of the temple in Jerusalem
    4. The Jordan River (in Israel)
    5. Mount Sinai
    6. The Mount of Transfiguration (Tabor)
    7. The isle of Patmos
    8. Antioch/Alexandria/Rome/Constantinople
    9. Canterbury / Oxford / Avignon
    10. Wittenburg / Geneva / Dordrecht (Dort)
    11. Plymouth, Massachusetts
    12. Philadelphia (Constitution)
    13. Sharon, Vermont
    14. Kirtland, Ohio
    15. Nauvoo, Illinois
    16. The Mormon Trail
    17. Ensign Peak
    18. Gadfield Elm Chapel
    18. St. George / Manti / Logan Temples
    19. Farmington Rock Chapel (Primary)
    20. University of Deseret / BYU

  2. I have to put Manti on the list. Beautiful.

    Mark, 1-10 aren’t “mormon,” you stinker.

  3. I have to echo Mark’s call of #14. Kirtland (in addition to being near my hometown) is really interesting, and partly *because* of the RLD-, er, Communities of Christ folk operating the Temple.

    The family and I were just there, went through the temple (again) and this time went through the Historic Kirtland site (which I hadn’t been to).

  4. Seth R. says:

    For me, it’s any small town in southern Utah. A cottonwood tree-lined main street, a few small stores, an ancient ward meeting house or stake center, deep irrigation ditches, surrounding alfalfa fields (and sage brush), and nearby mountains and hills covered in cedars and aspens.

    Times are changing quickly, but I still consider this the beating heart of my religion.

  5. …11-12 aren’t mormon either, but it’s the right continent at least.

  6. Spring City is right near Manti. That chapel was built by those who built the temple. I like em both but 10 is such a small number.

    I haven’t been inside the Kirtland Temple but I loved it too. I’m so impressed that the only buildings they’d built before were their cabins or homes and then the built a structure that housed Jesus, Moses, Elijah, the whole gang. Their Pentecost happened there. All in something that was built pretty poorly.
    Gives me hope for myself.

  7. Josh Kim says:

    Mark,

    The University of Deseret is not BYU. It’s present day University of Utah. You named an apostate institution. Gasp. How dare you.

    BYU started out as Brigham Young Academy. Get it right. Sheesh

  8. Mark Butler says:

    The title of the post said “Church History”, Steve. Even if we do not take the the watershed events at some of the places I have listed as authoritative, their consequences still echo through our Church and throughout the whole Christian world and I have a very hard time conceiving of most of the actors as other than sincere (if sometimes misguided) followers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    And in general, I do not think it is possible to understand the history of the Church in the Fulness of Times, unless one understands the doctrines of Methodism, Arminianism, Calvinism, and Catholicism, our immediate theological predecessors by heritage, for both good and for evil – and the debate over which is which.

    And many of the places I have mentioned are holy ground where those struggles took place – sincere believers willing to risk all in the pursuit of the truth about the character and majesty of God our Eternal Father and his relation to us.

  9. Mark Butler says:

    Josh, Do you think I am that clueless? St. George is not Manti is not Logan either. The University of Deseret, the ancestor of the University of Utah was founded by Brigham Young in 1850, several years before Brigham Young Academy (1874), which was originally a *branch* of the University of Deseret.

    The name was not changed to the University of Utah until 1894, in anticipation of statehood (admittedly now thoroughly secular, if not apostate, although not too much more than BYU if Nielsen is any indication).

  10. Mark Butler says:

    By the way, if one were to fairly consider who was a greater influence on contemporary LDS belief, John Wesley or Orson Pratt, the answer would unequivocally be John Wesley.

    We honor the Pratt brothers, Heber J. Grant, and Brigham Young, but these days we teach the doctrine of John Wesley more than anything those LDS leaders contributed. They are just names in the Pantheon whose theological understanding is honored more in ignorance than acquaintance. Not to knock the honorable Mr. Wesley, of course.

  11. Steve Evans says:

    “their consequences still echo through our Church ….”

    yeah yeah yeah. of course you’re right. But those sites aren’t distinctively ours, now, are they? You’ve given a pretty obvious objection to Amri’s post, I guess, but your ideas don’t really work as a list of the quintessentially mormon historical places.

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    A cool place to go is Cove Fort in Central Utah. BY used to stop there on his trips to St. George. I think maybe President Hinckley’s father was involved in its restoration somehow. I’ve only been there once. My teenage, vegetarian, purple-haired daugher was with us. The senior missionaries were absolutely wonderful. They learned that Emily was a vegetarian, and they took us out to their vegetable garden, and filled a whole sack full of fresh vegetables for her. That was probably her best experience ever at a Church history site.

    (Personally, I’m a Nauvoo man.)

  13. Mark Butler says:

    No doubt. However, my conception of “Church History” does not start in 1820, nor did it end with the death of the apostles. Did the Peter, James, and John leave behind a notice that said, “last one here, turn out the lights?” How is it that the Christian churches in numerous ancient cities can trace a continuous line of episcopacy back to original apostles? Which Bishop told his successor – sorry I have the priesthood, but I can’t ordain anyone else – you are on your own from now on?

    Perhaps the Priesthood was never withdrawn at all, but gradually faded away, as the honor of heaven for the practice of certain theological innovations decreased? The same applies to apostasy in all ages and times. Sure we would like to think that Alma the Elder was ordained by a righteous man, but he certainly belonged to a rather corrupt quorum. So did he have the Priesthood or didn’t he? Did all his baptisms have to be redone? Or was it merely a matter of getting Mosiah’s stamp of approval when they all returned?

    I say wherever someone teaches the truth according to inspiration – there is the Church, and the Priesthood is a system for its more proper organization. The Church of all believers is much broader concept than having the i’s dotted and t’s crossed – essential though the latter will be. Remember how the Lamanites received the Holy Ghost prior to baptism?

  14. In addition to Kirtland I would add Hiram, Ohio as well, but I’m partial–being from there and all. It is not too far a drive, if you find yourself out in Kirtland.

    In addition to the John & Elsa Johnson home, there’s some ‘fun’ things of note–Simons Ryder’s grave (I never know how to spell his name, but I do know that it is misspelled on the obelisk ;) ). I was baptized in the river out there where Joseph used to baptize. The foundation stones of the old mill are still there at the riverbank for a landmark. teh couple who own the land are not member, but are happy to show folks around.

  15. Cody Clark says:

    Did anyone meantion Mountain Meadow as a pivitol church history site? I think that it should at least be on our top 20 historical sites. I’ve never been there but I think it’s importance is connected to the great paradox of obedience and selfhood that we all face expecailly as members of this church. Also, don’t forget the tragedy.

  16. Thomas Parkin says:

    I loved this post.

    2. My family owns property in Spring City. In fact, my mother and father, who are both currently missionarying in SLC, are going to an Allred family something in Spring City this weekend. I like it there – though the air is a little dry and thin. It isn’t _quite_ a ghost town, yet. ;) (There is a Allred, Hatch, Barney family confluence to which the PArkins are a minor tributary.)

    1. Yes. I remember quite clearly the feelings I had at Adam-Ondi-Ahman over 20 years ago,- I’d have been in my mid-teens,- matching your expression very closely. And old woman and friend in my last ward told me the details of the “vision” she had there, which was much like yours.

    “Perhaps the Priesthood was never withdrawn at all, but gradually faded away, as the honor of heaven for the practice of certain theological innovations decreased?”

    Good question – I think this is a good way of wrapping yer head about the concept of apostacy. Things dissipate or are enhanced, both individually and collectively – the latter a product of the first. We seldom cross over a line and go from night to day. Long after the Apostles are all dead, and even with the ordinances changed, you still find plenty of sound leadership coming from early church fathers. From the reverse view, if the rights of the Priesthood are inseperably connected with the powers of heaven one imagines that a large percentage of the Priesthood is at any time in a state of relative, even,. functionally, total apostacy … in spite of the presence of Apostles on the earth.

    ~

  17. Mark B. says:

    Can’t anybody spell Gandhi?

    I mean, even if you never read a book, didn’t you see the movie?

  18. There should be a law about spelling snarks; something comparable to Godwin’s Law.

    Maybe Monkey Steals the Peach on the second offense?

  19. Mark B. I’ve read the book, seen the movie, been to India. I have no excuse.

    Thomas, my boyfriend is an Allred. You must be related. Anyway, Spring City is my favorite small town in Utah, maybe in America. I love it.

    And Mark Butler, I made the list associated with the spiritual feelings I have had at these physical spaces. I completely agree that all your places contribute to our history but I haven’t been to most of them. I think it’s remarkable that despite my waning faith the real-live places make me never want to leave.

  20. Amri,
    You post was beautiful. Thank you.

  21. Mark,
    Sigh.

  22. Growing up in MO, I have a fondness for its sites: Liberty Jail, Far West, Adam-ondi-ahman and Independence (amon others). Nauvoo is cool, though it is getting theme-parkish. Also splendid: Manti, the rock church that was built during the depression in Cedar City and though I’ve never been there (I hope to soon), the Mexican and Canadian colonies.

  23. Thomas Parkin says:

    Amri,

    It seems to me that you may leave the church – although, after having returned myself from a 13 year alienation, one that began in my mid-20s, I’d wish against that – but I doubt it will ever be permanent.

    I had a dream at the time I “left” the church. It goes like this:

    I am sitting in a chapel. It is clearly a Mormon chapel, with typical pews and woody, not-quite-rich colors. The congregation is litening attentivelly to a man speak, but I can’t make out what he is saying. I turn and see a big hole in the wall of the church. No one else is either able or willing to see it. Outside, there is an amazingly beautiful storm. It is grey and blue, in motion, the air is charged and alive. I notice that bits of flotsam are blowing through the air: trees, bits even of buildings, houses. I know that I’m going alone out into it, and am excited and enlivened by the prospect. Then my grandfather – a man who I relate to deeply, and who I take as a symbol of myself – comes walking through the hole back into the chapel. He is naked, emaciated, both bruised and frostbit. No one notices him. I have an impulse to cover him up, as I feel embarrased for him. But his glance tells me that I must not, he is to be in the chapel naked and not be covered up; the marks of his journey are his knowledge of good and evil.

    Anyway, very best to you in whatever circumstance you find yourself.

    ~

  24. Thomas,
    What a dream. Faith is funny. I want it and despise it. I’ve just been through a year of therapy just to maintain my faith. My therapist (not a Mormon) laughed when I said in our first session, I am a Mormon, I want to figure out how to stay Mormon but I kinda hate em and they really hate me. For now, I’m at Church every Sunday and I’m happy about it.

    Kevin,
    I forgot to mention that when I was in high school I also had purple hair (10 years ago) and we stopped by Cove Fort on one of our trips to St. George and the senior missionaries got a big kick out of me. It was the first time I ever thought, well, if I ever start going to church again maybe i’ll do one of these things. The sister in the couple asked if I had dye tips for her. I said to go blue. I wasn’t moral enough to try vegetarianism.

    J. — Mexican colonies are my next travel goal.

  25. great post. #4 particularly wonderful.
    I would add the Uinta(h) mountains. I think that’s where I came to believe in God, and they remain the bedrock of my faith in several important ways.
    i seem to remember comments limiting the amount of dancing in the Nauvoo Temple in an effort to prevent breaking the floor joists, thinking of your Kirtland reference.
    ps, the mormons do hate you, amri. but we love you.
    and vegeterianism is simply the low-hanging fruit of the moral high ground to mix metaphors, mutilate and cite the opinion of my wife’s dissertation advisor.

  26. Matt Bowman says:

    I just have to throw Gilgal Gardens in there; it’s a little piece of esoteric Nauvoo theology in the form of a sculpture garden, sitting in the middle of Salt Lake City. Not particularly relevant, I guess, in the grand narrative sweep of church history, but a fantastic artistic exploration of what Mormonism meant to a generation older, I think, than mine.

    And it has a Joseph Smith sphinx. Screensavers available.

  27. I would add the Charles Ora Card museum in Cardston and the Black Creek Monument in Ontario.

  28. With those who have mentioned small towns all over Utah, Idaho, and Arizona (and the colonies), I also enjoy being there and passing through, when occasion permits. These days, I get a lonely feeling when there, as if our unique heritage is slowly drying up. Last year my family and I made the pilgrimage to Paris, Idaho to bury my wife’s grandmother near her kindred dead. Practically in the shadow of Charles C. Rich’s gravestone, and a couple of rows over from his wives’ gravestones, we froze in the bitter wind and looked down on a quintessentially “Mormon” town with an exquisite tabernacle but fewer and fewer Mormons.

    Also, you get the same feeling when visiting any number of wonderful old nineteenth century Mormon tabernacles. We do not now know the sense of community that motivated them then.

  29. john scherer says:

    The only one I think of which hasn’t been mentioned is Oakland, formerly Harmony, PA. There is a monument to the restoration of the priesthood there and not much else. I grew up 50 miles from this great place, yet had no idea it was there until after I met the missionaries. There is a feeling of peace and purpose looking out into the Susquehanna river that is immense. This is coupled with memories of pageants and camping trips with my kids from when we lived nearby. A Very special place.

  30. Peoa Ut, Cemetary

    There’s a rock (gravestone) in the cemetary where one of the supposed (his own claim) martyrs of Joseph Smith was buried. A couple of weeks ago I sat on that rock (its a large rock) and thought of how the people of this small town in Utah, in the shadow of Salt Lake, allowed this man to be buried in this cemetary.

  31. you mean murderers of Joseph Smith?

  32. I need to get myself to Peoa, UT (i have no idea where that is) and those Gilgal gardens. Who on earth thought of the name Peoa?

    john sherer, every time I drive over/around the Susquehanna I feel the same sense of wonder or peace with that river. It’s funny about the priesthood since it’s so ambiguous as to when and where it was actually received. I’m still glad we have a marker for it though. The world is better with markers.

    smb, i’m glad you love me. you’re mormon, right?

    and thomas parkin, it wasn’t a Mormon place that brought you back to the Church was it?

    and a note from my mom, who I can’t quite convince to comment: I always think it remarkable that our eschatology is so wrapped in places and my protestant friends don’t connect to any place at all when they talk of the end.

  33. oh yeah, and john f. are martyring mobbers really murderers?
    come now.

  34. Mark Butler says:

    In my opinion, absolutely. What else did they have in mind?

  35. a barn dance with mosh pit potential?

  36. a random John says:

    other places not yet mentioned:
    Mormon Row in Teton National Park
    Martin’s Cove
    This Is the Place Monument (Though I would say that making the drive up to Big Mountain would give you more appreciation for the final bit of the pioneer’s trek)
    Pioneer Cabin behind Centerville 1st Ward

  37. re 33, I just didn’t understand the commenter’s phrase “martyrs of Joseph Smith.”

  38. oh. I thought you were being funny. It was funny, so good work.

  39. The Gadfield Elm chapel, of course. And the River Ribble.

  40. Amri: Why do Mormons hate you?

  41. #40, I think it is because she speaks her mind with views that are non-traditional. She also doesn’t roll over when the needle of her BS meter gets buried. Maybe it’s that she’s a democrat and every Right Minded Invididual knows that Republican is Right and Democrat is Demonic.

    Just guessing though.

  42. AC–you’re pretty darn close. They mostly just hate me in Boston. It’s a long story but I taught a lesson I had earnestly, prayerfully prepared about gays still having spiritual gifts and how could we use them. A couple people got offended and I got in trouble.
    In that whole debacle I got told I was practicing priestcrafts and that I was convincing people to turn gay.
    It was a spectacle for sure, but people still hate me for it.

  43. martryrs…that’s a funny mistake. It doesn’t say murderer…I believe it says mobbers…but doesn’t say assasin. If I remember right, its an “m” word, which is why I typed “martyr.”

    i did a quick search, and it might say “member of the mob that killed Joseph Smith.” Next time I’m in Peoa, I’ll check it out.

    Here’s a little more info about Brooks (he’s just called brooks on his make-shift headstone)

    http://www.mc.maricopa.edu/dept/d10/asb/anthro2003/godkings/clarise/bct/gif_file3/jsb.html#fate

    (Peoa Ut is between Rockport Reservoir and Kamas, UT in Kamas Valley–About 20 miles North and a little East from Heber and about 15-20 miles east of Park City)

  44. Thomas Parkin says:

    Amri,

    What brought me back was the memory of specific doctirines that I’d never lost my feeling for: that we progress as individuals towards Godhood, that we are God’s children, of the same species, so to speak, etc., and a genuine appreciation for Joseph Smith as an individual, and, I’d say, an aesthetic attraction to Mormon metaphysics which would include my attraction to the idea of Zion and Mormon places. Combined with a protracted, very very difficult period of asseesment concerning what bothered me about Mormons as compared with what bothered me about the people I’d become close to. (I spent most of my time away active in the Gothic-Industrial-Fetish sub-culture). And then an invitation from a Bishop when the moment was right. What really kept me back was the overwhelming outpouring of the Holy Spirit and personal revelation.

    I’m sorry you’ve had difficulties with Mormons. I’ve had my share. There is some difficulty for me still, but I’m happy to say much less than what I expected. I compare myself to Christ and find myself wanting, and allow other Mormons to think and do as they will. I do not become entangled in their internal affairs – this is the thing that has changed – and I’ve simply become much more patient, I don’t need eveything to be perfec – other than that, my sensibilities haven’t changed much from when I was younger. By and large, I count them my fellow Mormons as good people muddling through intermixed with truly exceptional and deeply spiritual people who are also muddling through.

    I might suggest moving. Seattle First Ward was great for my incubation. And Aaron Brown is the Sunday School president there, and you’d at least find an ally with him, I’m sure. :)

    ~

  45. Steve Evans says:

    Thomas P., the Seattle 1st Ward just lost its luster. yours truly moved in.

  46. Thomas,
    I’m glad you’re back. I like having Mormon community made up of all types, not just the kind that hate me. I kinda wonder if I should leave though, so I can get myself an inspiring return story. I usually like those stories.

    I just drove with my bro, smb, across the country and we must have been ridiculously close to Peoa, Sherpa. I’m disappointed we didn’t know.

  47. Temple Square, SLC, UT. When I was a little girl, I liked hitting each station–glass boxes housing scenes from Mormonism. I’d pick up the telephone, push the buttons and stare at these tiny dolls depicting martyrdom or death on the plains. The only other place I’ve seen like it was in Bombay India where they used the exact same ‘doll/action figures in glass cases’ idea to depict Ghandi’s life and mission. Temple Square is ranked 8 because now there are no glass boxes and I get ticked at the movies that manipulate me into crying. Jerks.

    The glass boxes with telephones at Temple Square were/are my all time favorite. I too lament their passing. In 2002 my wife and I made the drive down to SLC from Alberta for the Olympics. I had told my wife, who is not a member, all about Temple Square and the glass box diaramas that presented canned Church history through a 1960’s telephone. I was crushed when we got to the South visitors center and they were no longer there.

    On a side note, since we’re talking about favorite Church History sites, I got into a fight with a sister missionary at the BOM printing press building in Palmyra. She was an older sister, and viewed us with suspicion when we declined the guided tour. Her husband took the tour group, and we wandered from display to display as I explained some of the finer points of Church history to my wife. The sister missionary followed us around, sometimes peeking around corners at us, like we were going to take the antique printing press and make a run for it. Finally she made some comment like “I’m watching you!” from across the room, and I lost my patience. A verbal altercation ensued. My wife sarcastically refers to it as one of my finest moments.

    The view of the Carston Temple with the mountains in the background always makes a major impression on me. But I also get a warm fuzzy feeling everytime I see “The Store” in Magrath, so I’m not sure what that means. LOL!

    Someone mentioned the small towns of southern Utah. The drive down highway 89 is one of the most picturesque a person can take. Panguitch, Orderville, Kanab, etc., beautiful.

  48. That was me! For our honeymoon (sort-of), my wife and I drove up that same highway after making a complete circuit from Capitol Reef to Escalante to Zion’s to Bryce Canyon and back to Provo.

    My heart, and my relationship with God will always remain grounded among the aspens of the Aquarius Plateau (although a bit of it seems to have been planted in rice paddies of Southern Japan as well …).

  49. Talon,
    The Brown Family reunion in Nauvoo was similar because none of us know how to be nice to the elderly missionaries at Church Historic Sites. SMB kept telling us Mormon dirt in front of these missionaries who surely thought he was lying. Even though you can’t really make up the weird stuff of early Mormonism.

    Seth R. that is drive/area is gorgeous.

    I served in Japan too. In Tokyo so my faith space there involves smoggy mornings and avoiding traffic but boy was I faithful then.

  50. I never was a “city missionary.” Too fast paced, too transient, too numbers-driven (though I’m sure it didn’t have to be). I spent my entire mission in small Japanese towns (island of Kyushu). Plenty of farmland and forested mountains amid the subruban sprawl. Never saw any of Tokyo except Narita airport.

  51. Wait, Naiah, you grew up in Hiram? Frequented the Johnson farm? We may have crossed paths on a dark road once or twice…

  52. Carol F. says:

    I loved this post. Thank you, Amri. I, too, have been sustained by thoughts of these old places and what they meant.

    Have you ever seen Scottsbluff, Nebraska? There is a monument there but it is the drive going west toward Scottsbluff that is so poignant. It is quite the landmark and the pioneers could probably see it for days. I read an account that said each wagon train usually had a dance when they reached Scottsbluff. We travel the distance in a car in probably less than an hour.

    Another of my favorite sites is a “Fort Utah” monument at the church in which I grew up in Lehi, Arizona. The saints who were asked to come settle here (Phoenix, Arizona) crossed the Salt River and built a small shelter on July 4th, 18xx. Every 4th of July the nearby Lehi wards gather in the morning and ring a big brass bell that is part of the monument. No mention is made of the pioneers, however. I found that out on my own. Probably most people think the bellringing has to do with Independence Day and the pancake dinner. That’s what I thought growing up. Maybe I will go back this year and make a speech.

  53. Andy Ashcroft says:

    One of my best “Mormon place” moments was at the site of the Nauvoo temple before it was rebuilt. At the time, it was just a grassy depression in the ground, surrounded my a walkway and flowers, very understated in comparison to some of my other experiences with church sites (this could be my faulty memory, but I could swear that someone was piping the Mormon Tabernacle Choir from speakers in the woods when I went to the Joseph Smith birth site in VT). There’s a lot to be said for unscripted spiritual experiences. Perhaps because it wasn’t much to look at there weren’t many people there, so much the better for me.

  54. Andy,
    I think that’s why I felt so intimately connected to Adam-ondi-Ahman. It’s nothing really. Just fields and farms but I felt very Mormon there, and I was happy about that.

    If only we could script more unscripted spiritual moments….

  55. Amri:

    I’m sorry to “jack” this post to respond to your WOW post (which apparently closed before I even saw it), but I want you to know that I admire you very much for your desire to stay in the faith. The only reason, really, not to drink coffee or tea is to be able to have a temple recommend. I suspect you may have some challenges with certain aspects of the temple right now, but I hope you will regain your desire to attend, and make the required WOW adjustments to obtain a recommend. The temple has been a real source of joy for my wife and I, especially now as our children prepare for marriages and missions and we begin to share what has become highly spiritual times together with our children in the House of the Lord.

    I will be praying for you.

    Respectfully and admiringly,
    Skip

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