Saturday, July 19, 2008

Come, Come Ye Saints and Walk Back to Missouri

Editor's Comment: There is an official Church comment on all of this, called Missouri Myths in the 1979 April Ensign. I had no idea it was this large of an idea; very fascinating. Everyone should read it (well, if you've ever thought about walking to Missouri.)

Today our ward held its 24th of July (Pioneer Day) celebration. To celebrate, we watched Brigham Young (a movie made in 1940) about the trip west. There's a lot I could say about the historical/not historical parts of the movie, but in a sentence, it wasn't very historical (the main antagonist, who tried to take over the church on multiple occasions in the movie was named Angus Duncan. Who's Angus Duncan you might ask? Yeah, that was my reaction as well.), but it was a good movie, that portrayed the church well. It even portrayed polygamy well.

Over all I enjoyed watching it; they had real shots of the Salt Lake mountains in the back ground, and I could see Twin Peaks, and it made me all homesick and everything. When the Saints entered the Valley I wanted to stand up and sing, "Utah, people working together, Utah, what a great place to be...this is the place!" Yeah, so I have a strong cheesy side. Besides, I love the Mormon heritage.

After all, I've always wanted to be a Pioneer. Although I hate little buggies, both in my food, outdoors, hypothetically in my hair, basically anywhere. I think the Celestialized world will have no cockroaches, ticks, mosquitoes, anything that stings besides bumblebees, fleas, or lice. Or anything else I don't like. But I do like to wear dresses, especially old fashioned ones (of course, most of my experience is in Medieval Clothing), and I like to cook, and live in brick houses in Nauvoo (at least, I think I would like this one, given the chance). But my real qualification is that I've always wanted to walk back to Missouri.

Okay, I want a comment count; for all the Mormon readers (which may be basically everyone, but if you're not Mormon, please stay and comment anyway), who has ever heard that someday we'll walk back to Missouri. Is this a Utah/"pioneer heritage" phenomenon? As Avram points out, is there a reason that we think we will have to walk all the way to Missouri, as apposed to drive? He also points out that the entire church can't all congregate in Missouri, so for the most point we're not going to go back there at all as members of the church. He's not either Utahn or of Pioneer Heritage, so doesn't have this Missouri mindset as a background, hence the scepticism.

My mom tells a story of when she was a child (think late fifties, early sixties), and a neighbor girl was over at her house visiting. Now, my Mom grew up in the Utah heartland; first in the town of Emery, of 300 people, most of whom I'm related too, and then in the comparatively booming metropolis of a couple of thousand people in Manti. My mom's family had just purchased an old upright piano for like $25 or something, and this neighbor girl really wanted a piano too. When her Mom came to take her home, she asked her Mom if they could get a piano too, and her Mom said no, because when they walked back to Missouri, they wouldn't be able to take it with them.

I know you're all laughing to yourselves, thinking what a silly idea; to walk all the way to Missouri. I agree with you. And yet, as a child I really believed that someday I would walk back to Missouri. Parts of me still want to. Why? Because then I would get to be a Pioneer. Maybe this idea originated from the early Pioneers in Utah, who believed that maybe they would get to leave their desert exile and return to Zion hopefully in their lifetime. And then maybe they passed down this longing for home through their descendants and now we carry it as a racial longing to return, via the same method our ancestors arrived in Utah; by foot. Or maybe believers in this are delusional.

Not that I think there are many believers in this; more like assumers. If we actually think about it, we all laugh and deny any connection with this idea, but at the side of our mind it lurks, waiting to come out in subtle changes in perception, like believing we'll all be in Missouri at the Second Coming. Or maybe I'm just describing myself here.

And come on, if you take a car, it's only good until the gas runs out. And of course there won't be gas in desperate times like these, and a car is only as good as its fuel (as we're all learning to our sad, expensive detriment lately). And that must be why there are so many youth treks; for secret practice for walking to Missouri. I've already planned that if/when I do walk back I'm going to take my medieval dresses I used to wear for Medieval re-enactment in college, because they're comfortable and wear well, and can be used as blankets too. Hey, I'm not crazy, I'm prepared.

Anyone interested in joining my wagon train?


  1. Well, my family's joke was that, since we live less than two hours away, we'd get there early and help set up chairs. heehee!

  2. We (the entire church) will walk to Missouri and we will need to bring a yellow dog. More on this here:

    When we all walk back, I'll come in your wagon train. Will we be eating weevils with are hard tack?

  3. oh thats funny. i remember our parents freakimg out about y2k and how we would have to go back to the canyon abd live like pioneers,and somthing about all the cars and computers would stop working. i made fun of them for it, saying that the would would not end because of y2k and your mom compared me to lamen and lemual.
    having said that, i think the whole walking to missouri is much the same. people had a piece of informaion from revelation, that they did not understand, they drew thier own conclusions to fill in the blanks, then told their own version to others, and then they told it to more people, perpetuating false doctrine. I mean what do you think we would all be looking for if we took the old testiment literally? thats just my takeon it.

  4. I'm not quite sure where we got the walking to Missouri idea but it does come from church sources. My patriarchal blessing does talk about me working in the temple in Jackson County so you can come and see me. A move to Ohio is a move in the right direction. I believe it is Jerimiah who talks about when the chariots of men will go no more. Our chariots are not horse drawn and it doesn't take great imagination to think of them not going any more.

  5. I love "Brigham Young: Frontiersman." Your husband's family loaned it to me, and I used to watch it on a little TV while I did dishes. Sure, it's campy, and loaded with historical inaccuracies, but I still like it. As you say, it's uncharacteristically open-minded about the LDS faith for the 1940s. And where else can you see Vincent Price splitting wood?

    Since I'm not a member, the whole "walking to Missouri" thing is a new one on me. But I were to be hoofing it to Missouri, and me and mine were allowed along, of course we'd be with you guys. I'll bring the Apples to Apples...

  6. Another joke my family had was that we'd never get a temple in our area (closest one is 4 hours away, next closest three are 6 or more hours away, and we are right in the center of those four temples) because if they built one close by everyone would freak out about it being the temple in Independence, and Zion is back, and the 2nd coming and everything. So the church is never going to build a temple near us; not until the end of the world. Sigh.
    Until then my family will have to take entire day trips to visit the temple in Omaha, but at least it's not a 2-day trip like it used to be, when we went to Denver. Or when my dad was a teenager and the temple for all of Kansas was Manti. Yikes!

  7. I've heard a lot about walking back to Missouri, but not from any church authorities. However, I have heard from church sources about a meeting in missouri at the second coming (Adam-Ondi-Ahman), and probably like for general conference, a lot of people are going to want to be at the actual place, not just watching it televised. I wonder if they will give out tickets like for the conference center? Maybe it will be broadcast to the conference center...
    OK, end to inconsequential prophetical musings.

  8. frau - I'd love to walk with you; hopefully we'll only have to eat the occasional weevil.

    Aleatha - Avram and I have talked about why the church hasn't built a temple on their property in Independence; I'm sure that this is why; that then the church population would think that it was the end of times.

    Tali - ah, how well I remember Y2K. Good times.

    Mom - I tried looking up that scripture to include it in my post, but I couldn't find it; can you find it for me?

    Carol - I think you're very right. Actually, I think that's the best doctrinal, official reason people would be going, in whatever form, to Missouri. I've had a fascinating conversation with Avram and friends at the Homely Cottage about what the sisters of the church will do during the Priesthood session (ie, when Christ comes with the ancient of days, and something like 100,000 priesthood holders will attend). You know, like the sisters only parties. Like maybe Eve can give us tips on gardening. Or Sariah can tell us about scrapbooking a family journey, "Smile for the sketchbook, Jacob!" Jacob, being melancholy, since his life passed as a dream, "I am smiling, Mother."

    Good times.

  9. Funny how myths arise. My families particular version involved a yellow dog coming to lead us to the promised land. I think I remember being about seven when my mom told me the story about what my great grandpa had said. My great grandpa was a child of the first pioneers and I believe there was a return mentality among them. This idea that we will be but a short season in the wilderness and then we will return to Zion.

    Okay on the other weird comment on my mission some Elder was convinced that the Salt Lake Temple could be dismantled and taken to Missouri when we went back. First of all if I have to walk and carry the temple I don't think I'll make it. Secondly I think he was misunderstanding the temple being taken apart to hide it.

    Okay so does it really matter if we walk to Missouri? No it's not an important part of our salvation. As to Thora I am sure that during the millennium you can experience all the pioneer trains back and forth that you want.

    Well then over and out

  10. well personally i had heard or always thought that the church headquarters would gather to missouri in the end of times. I never thought we would all walk there though... where did you get that idea? I assumeded we could drive if we wanted to... but hey maybe a trek would be fun! and obviously all the saints wouldnt fit in that one state.. and we are all worldwide now so thats not probable. Soren thinks that the government will fall apart and the us saints will form our own government basically and gather is the missouri area but maybe be in a few states actually in our own new country or something. you should call him and talk to him about it, he has many interesting theorys!

  11. just had to add that i had an institute teacher that told us the slc temple was built on a type of foundation so that they can move the temple. according to him the temple would be moved to missouri in the end of times. he had all this information and pictures and such to prove he was right.. not sure still if he should have been teaching this at institute! BUT i dont think the church plans to go anywhere soon.. since they are spending millions of dollars right now building a whole new block of things down town slc. i would assume the prophet would know not to embark on such projects if we were leaving anytime soon.

    oh and according to my mother in law the end of times is in 2031. so mark your calanders!! lol. she is insistant about this! makes me laugh.

  12. No one knows when the end of times will be. I think some of you misunderstood about Y2K. We never claimed it was going to be the end of the world, just that it could be one of the events of the end times. Nothing happened, because THOUSANDS of people worked VERY HARD for a couple of years to make sure there would be no problems.

    In these days of $4+/gal gas, MY chariot is going less and less.