I have asked myself, “hey, why not just hide my name” during Joseph’s visit to Utah. “No one needs to know my identity,” right? Wrong. My name is Jonathan Clark Felt, and I am grateful and proud to assist my new friend Joseph Fredrick Smith to share his testimony with as many people as will listen who are within my reach. [Utah]
My native church (speaking only of you personally and not my leadership generally), by practice and not by words, is NOT friendly to outsiders if, and especially if, the outsider claims to have something we value as a community. The sealed portion of the Book of Mormon will be beyond valuable to us if what Joseph is telling us is true. Historically our attitude about our Reorganite brethren seems similar to the way Jews treated Samaritans when Jesus told the great parable. Why? Because Samaria was once part of the Kingdom of Israel which made Samaria’s religious practices both familiar and detestable at the same time. But times are changing. Now there are regular exchanges between RLDS and LDS scholars, but there are still many more factions and fractions of Mormonism to be reconciled. It was a surprise to me to learn Joseph F Smith is a “Hedrickite” of all things and what the heck is a Hedrickite anyway? Let’s not forget the Bickertonites and the Cutlerites and the Brighamites (that’s us). Brother Joseph F Smith has a message about all these ites and it isn’t dissimilar to what God has already told us. Consider the following:
“And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people. And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God. There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God. And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.” ( 4 Nephi LDS 15–18, RLDS 1:17–21)
In my heart, I believe firmly all the Mormon-ite factions and fractions can be one again if we want it. My mother said it would be so as that was our general belief 3 generations ago. We knew we must reunite with our brethren at Independence, Missouri some day and for that purpose she kept my most recent pair of worn out shoes in a special place in the basement near the storage of wheat for the Disaster (and you know well the Disaster I am talking about). Her gesture was to show me we would walk to Zion rejoicing. Gradually, though, the thought of a restored Zion was shuffled off to our collective memory and eventually even forgotten in our present hopes. In this generation it is regularly regarded as a quaint old manner of thinking.
Frankly, I love the idea of a great grandson of Joseph Smith Jr coming to visit us, and it’s about time! In our home, my wife has a giant meme in foam letters over our piano spelling “REMEMBER.” The idea of Zion is such we cannot forget or we will be damned to somewhere else when the time comes.
“And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” (Hebrews 8:11–13)
I have no problem waiting until the translation by Mauricio comes forth to judge it because we already have been given a pattern to do so after we “receive these things.”
“Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Moroni LDS 10:3–4, RLDS 10:3–5)
It would be very silly and foolish of me to judge either Joseph or Mauricio before I get a chance to “read these things” and thus it has always been so in Mormonism from the beginning. — Jonathan Clark Felt 05.19.2018 (Utah)