At the risk of being ridiculed or scoffed at for being too open, let me briefly pull back the author/researcher curtain to let you see the inner mulling and musing of the mind behind all these “peculiar” notions.
To put it simply, I’m at the end of my rope. And I have been for some time.
Kermit the Frog sings a woeful little tune that best characterizes my predicament. “It’s not easy being green,” he chants, plaintively. I know how that feels when your fellow church members perceive you as the purveyor of odd knowledge, someone saying something different than what they’re accustomed to hearing.
Like the Whos in Whoville, I cry out, “I am here. I am here! I am here!!” But, no one hears. No one sees.
You see, to the majority of church members, I’m invisible … and so is my research. I believe I have stumbled across a most valuable truth, one that was once fairly common knowledge among early church members, one that was taught by Joseph Smith and preserved in our temples. That’s what I work to share with my fellow Saints. But, therein lies the rub. Very few care to hear it.
Actually, I feel more like Horton than the Whos. I know what I know to be true. But most Mormons don’t believe me because of their preconceptions. They prefer to reject me and my “strange notions,” dismissing me as a kook or a fraud rather than examining the issues more closely. Strangely, others see me as a threat, worthy only of their disdain and reprehension. They seek to suppress my ideas.
Just so you know, here’s my song. It’s a little longer than Kermit’s, but it rhymes just about as well. It sounds like this …
About 30 years ago, I came across a book that changed my whole view of the Restored Gospel. The concepts presented in that book set me on a path that led me first to the comprehension of past planetary catastrophes, then to prophecy, to the language of the prophets, to obscure statements by Joseph Smith, to a completely revised understanding of ancient planetary history, to an interpretation of religious symbolism worldwide and finally to a thoroughgoing grasp of latter-day temple symbolism and ritual (not necessarily in that order).
If that sounds to you like a lot of ground to cover, it is. It took me into heady intellectual country — Hugh Nibley kind of stuff — a place I never dreamed I might venture. But true to my quest, I soldiered on, invigorated by the soul-expanding concepts that periodically washed over my mind and heart like emotional and intellectual tidal waves.
It took years of study, research and a willingness to follow the clues—no matter how unlikely or unpopular they seemed to be. But, it was worth every moment because this study, which began with a burning desire to understand the scriptures, has opened doors to knowledge and understanding that I never expected find, least of all to open. Just when I think this line of inquiry has yielded all there is to learn, it inevitably shows me more.
As a result, my testimony of Joseph Smith and the Restored Gospel has expanded beyond anything I thought humanly possible. My understanding of gospel principles is more profound, by many orders of magnitude, than I had ever imagined. And perhaps most importantly, I can ‘read’ the temple experience as though it were a book or a familiar and treasured story.
What about you? When you read prophecy, is the imagery and message crystal clear? Or is it confusing and bewildering? When you contrast present scientific views with the scriptural record, do you start scratching your head? When you attend the temple, is the intent and the meaning of each ritual and all its symbolism as plain as a child’s primer? When you try to make sense of these things, does your head start to hurt and your brain begin to reel? As I did at first, do you simply avoid contemplating all these things because it all seems too much like an exercise in futility?
Given those nagging misgivings and because most of these things are a mystery to most Saints, you’d think that they’d be anxious to get a few pointers. But, just the opposite is true. In my experience, any effort to draw attention to these gospel blind spots is met with suspicion and disbelief. Rather than ask questions, they begin to avoid me, ignore me, criticize me or pretend I’m not even in the same church.
So, it’s not easy being seen. In fact, it’s a lot of hard work. I’ve labored for over 30 years in an effort to gain a foothold on the LDS imagination. I’ve written books, prepared and given daylong lectures with a slideshow, produced a documentary, several video clips with 3D animation, created a web page advertising my ideas and a blog that contains the results of years of research and study. None of that was easy. It cost me precious personal time and considerable resources. Yet after all that, I don’t seem to be getting significant traction among my fellow Saints.
So, here’s the question at the heart of the matter: How does an average Latter-day Saint like myself with a vital message make his voice heard in the church? Since I’m not a General Authority, how do I make an impression on others? What can I do to make enough of an impression that most Mormons will inquire further? After trying every initiative I can think of to put this information in front of church members, what more can I do that I’ve not already tried? I’m flat out of initiatives.
So, that’s my sad song. Like Kermit, it’s not easy being green.
So, what do you think? How can I put this message before the membership? What approach can I take that I have not taken already? Which among you cares to lend a supportive hand? Who can point me down the path to access? Any ideas?
© Anthony E. Larson, 2009