Thursday, May 17, 2012
Latter Day Saints
But once, caught in Salt Lake due to an airport mishap, I visited Temple Square. I wandered around the grounds and looked at the buildings. Some were shoeboxy, but the Temple (left) was beautiful. I had just graduated from TAC and was feeling homesick for the Chapel of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. I was surprised by the peace of the place, which (by the This Rock accounts) I thought would be crawling with evil. It was crawling with missionaries; I was slowly chased (I do not exaggerate) by a pair of women until my luggage became so heavy that I finally stopped to talk with them. They surprised me with one particular phrase: they spoke about promises they make to reach certain statuses within the Church and they said "promises we get to make," implying some love of holiness and devotion that I took me by surprise.
The more I learn, the more I think the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints is a remarkable phenomenon. Were it not for its cultural momentum, I am not sure it would still exist, since some of its canonical texts (which express some of its doctrines which differ from Catholicism and Protestantism) have been called into question repeatedly.
What is "cultural momentum?" (LDS is an entire culture!) Mormons enshrine the family, catechize seriously, and respect beauty. Am I shaking a finger at the Catholic Church for not doing these things? No. The Church has done these things on an unprecedented scale for two millenia (behold, as the tiny fraction that I have experienced, the CMA and TAC; for more, I again recommend Thomas Woods). The fact that Mormonism is so successful is actually a plug for the truth of the Church's teaching.
Since my This Rock days I have had a Mormon classmate, read about the Golden Plates, and watched a documentary about the Book of Abraham (which you can find here, on the blog of Fr. Dwight Longenecker, who has a good post about Mormonism here). This post isn't meant to be apologetics; it's an observation--"gee, the Mormons are special and it's because they have some really important and beautiful things right."