Everyone reading this blog probably has an opinion about Gerald Lund’s The Work and the Glory series. I know I do. But that is perhaps saved for another post. I actually have some very specific questions in mind. I have heard from multiple sources, always at least second-hand, the following story:
Place: Church History Site (I have heard variants from Kirtland, Nauvoo, and Palmyra)
Setting: Summer tourist rush
Dramatis Personae: Church history guide (usually a senior missionary), idiotic tourist and or a family of same.
CHG: This is where (Joseph hid the plates under the hearth, the meetings to plan the exodus west were held, etc). Followed by some historical minutae.
IT: Where did the Steed family live?
That is where the story ends. We are left to imagine the awkard conversation that follows in which the gentle missionary guide explains that the only place to find the Steed’s farm is in Gerald Lund’s imagination.
I want to know three things: 1) has anyone else heard this, 2) is anyone out there an eyewitness to it and, assuming the answer to 2 is no, 3)what message(s) are we supposed to take from this story?
I suspect that the answer to 1 is yes and the answer to 2 is no. This thing obviously smacks of urban legend. In graduate school one of my professors, an expert in Zen Buddhism, would often say of the Zen lineage stories, “they are not true, therefore they are more useful.” In other words, invented stories tell you a great deal about the people who tell them. I have my own ideas about what this story is supposed to tell us, but I’m interested in what you all think.