Saturday, October 01, 2011

Myself, a Mormonite

Tomorrow we'll be watching General Conference, where we'll listen to the prophet, President Monson, speak. Both Andrew and I come from a long tradition of Mormonism. In fact, his great-great-great-grandfather, Joseph Stacy Murdock, wrote the words to Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice

Well, my great-great-great-great-grandfather, Solomon Hancock, also wrote a song.

With apologies to Methodists everywhere, it goes like this:

Once I was a Methodist. Glory, hallelujah!
Then I thought that they were best. Glory, hallelujah!
But when I read the bible right, glory, hallelujah,
I found myself a Mormonite! Glory, hallelujah!*

Needless to say, this little ditty of his did not make it into the LDS hymnbook. I like to think that I may have inherited my sense of humour from him, though, because I have a feeling that this verse was penned entirely tongue-in-cheek. (Other songs and poems of his are much less silly.)

In church on Sunday we were talking with our primary class about Peter and John and how, in Acts, they were cast into prison for sharing their beliefs and living their religion. Christians actually endured quite a bit of persecution. Let's review: Peter was crucified upside-down. Andrew was crucified somewhat regularly, as were Phillip, Jude and Simon. James (son of Zebedee) was beheaded. Bartholomew was skinned alive and then beheaded. Matthew was "killed by an axe," Thomas by a spear. James was stoned...and then some. Matthais, who replaced Judas Iscariot (who hanged himself), was stoned and then had his head cut off.

Basically, people didn't like Christians very much. The apostles, and likely ordinary Christians as well, were regularly being thrown into prison and/or killed.

One man, however, stuck up for Peter and John. This man was Gamaliel. Andrew (my husband, not the apostle) specifically hit on Acts 5, verses 38 and 39: Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it: lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

We asked the kids how it would feel to be thrown into prison or beaten or even just teased for their beliefs. They didn't think they'd like it very much but said that the question was irrelevant because that would never happen to them.

And it likely won't. I mean, they are Mormons. Living in Utah. We're like 60% Mormon here!

But then we brought up the eleventh Article of Faith, which says: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

We talked about how letting others worship the way they choose is a core belief of our religion—and how even if they aren't being persecuted they need to adopt Gamaliel's attitude instead of that of the other Pharisees (eg. persecuting, jailing, beating, and/or executing people for their beliefs) and make sure they aren't making life hard for people who aren't members of the church.

While we were discussing this, Shoshana Hebshi, popped into mind—a woman who was pulled off a plane and detained for hours because she looked like she might be Muslim. What a shame! What an embarrassment! Not to Shoshana, of course, but for our nation. How is it that we got so scared of Islam "taking over the world?" And why do we care, anyway?

I'm not a Muslim but I deeply respect Muslims who live their religion.

I love what I believe but I am not afraid of what they believe, either.

If it's of men, it will come to nought. If it's of God, it cannot be overthrown. Truthfully, I think all of the religions I know anything about have truth and are good. Ultimately, if people are striving to get close to God that's a good thing. I don't think anyone should ever be belittled because of what they believe.

Not even Methodists.

That said, I still think Solomon Hancock's song is kind of funny.

And I'm excited for General Conference tomorrow! Sometimes I'm glad that I'm a grown up because General Conference used to feel like torture but now I'm looking forward to it...except for the part where I torture my children by encouraging them to watch boring old people drone on and on for eight hours.

Excuse me while I scour the internet for entertaining activities for my children to do.

Am I worried about keeping my children attentive during General Conference?

Yes, About.com, I am. But I am more worried about keeping them from bouncing off the walls...

*http://www.scribd.com/doc/32227869/Testimony-of-the-Hancocks (pg. 154-155)

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