"Bobby, what gratitude and joy do you have for Joseph Smith?"
"Um... sorry, what did you say?
"Concerning the first vision, what gratitude and joy do you have towards the Prophet Joseph Smith"
The whole conversation that I had drowned out was a lot of giving thanks and praises to Joseph Smith. There was a lot of talk about all the miraculous things Joseph Smith did. The two shared several stories of things that we learn throughout our youth, that in truth, tell really awesome campfire stories.
"Joseph Smith carried the heavy plates and ran and this and that..."
"Joseph Smith came from a humble home this and that..."
"Joseph Smith had the first vision and then this and that..."
They had each shared really awesome stories of Joseph Smith and explained their praise to him and how grateful they are to all the work he did. And then they turned to me to say something...
"Praise to his memory..."
"Honored and blest..."
"Great is his glory..."
The song entitled "Praise to the Man" used to be one of my favorites. With it's powerful words and the tune derived from "Scotland the Brave" it would get me everytime. I would back then proudly give my "praise to the man".
But as I grow older, it starlted me how much "praise" and "glory" we give to Joseph Smith. It seemed to me that we gave so much "praise" and "glory" that ended up creating mere mortals into something greater that have many stellar "God-like" qualities. It reminded me of one of my favorite movies, Braveheart (which i might add, during the movie (not in the clip) you can hear Scotland the Brave being played).
William Wallace: Sons of Scotland! I am William Wallace.Having grown up in Utah, i was surrounded by all the history and great stories of the Prophet Joseph Smith. We spoke constantly of Joseph Smith. We bore constant testimonies of Joseph Smith. We had statues erected to Joseph Smith for all the work he did. And as i pointed out, we sang songs about Joseph Smith. Pretty much Joseph Smith was the ICON of every young latter day saint. I wouldn't doubt that at one time when i was younger, I probably believed that Joseph Smith could shoot fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his... fingertips.
Young Soldier: William Wallace is seven feet tall!
William Wallace: Yes, I've heard. Kills men by the hundreds. And if HE were here, he'd consume the English with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse.
But who was Joseph Smith to receive all this praise and worship? (Now i know several of you might have a fit and say we do not worship Joseph Smith, but sorry... If you look at it from a perspective of someone from the "outside", we are pretty much worshiping him.)
This was something that really bothered me. I thought long and hard about this. Was this something that we did? Were we command to give so much praise to him? Did he ask for this?
The usual answer i have gotten is, "We are so grateful that we show that gratitude by giving praise." Ok, i agree. To an extent we should be grateful. But come on people, aren't we a little over doing it? Songs? Statues? Joseph Smith Birthday Celebration?
"Next year for Joseph Smith Birthday Day, I want a pony!"
Ok so then i look at it with the perspective of having gratitude and giving praise. Have we over done it so badly that we take away many of his human like qualities so that it fulfills what we believe the mantle of such a man should be? Does that help us grasp the concept of what Joseph Smith did better? Does seeing Joseph Smith less of the folk magic practioner and more of the fun loving stick wrestling buddy buddy ease our minds and help us accept his work and calling? Can a man that uses seeing stones (for other purposes than translating) be worthy of a song entitled "Praise to the Man"? I feel (and this is just my belief) that we have put Joseph Smith on such a high mantle that anything that "we" may feel is "wrong", he obviously didn't participate in and is deemed incorrect or all to commonly deemed "anti propaganda".
Sorry, i think i went off on a tangent there, but all i am trying to say is, where are we directing our praise? Is there a little too much directed in the wrong places? Should emphasis but put more on the phrase "Come follow me..." and not "Come praise me..."? Jesus Christ (as himself- meaning during mortal ministry) never asked for our praise and glory. He asked us to come follow him. Do as He is doing. Wouldn't the best way to worship God is to live a life worthy of Their praise? So how do we do that?
Little less praisin, little more raisin...
Now don't get me wrong here... again. I am very serious and sincere in what i said about my gratitude for Joseph Smith. I do believe there is an importance to the "first vision". I believe he taught us by example that we should RAISE ourselves up and follow what we believe. What do i believe? Well I'll leave that for another time.