Also, Stephen and Rachel didn't realize that IT RAINS OUT HERE. A LOT! Oh well. Now they know.
Susan and I will go up to visit sometime. We're working on the details. But now that we have Nathan and his family and Stephen and his out here, that gives us 3/7 Cranney children on the east coast within 300 miles of each other. Excellent! We almost have a quorum!
And now, on to the really important part of the blog post. I know Mormons have some "weird" beliefs. I was talking to a fellow student at CUA about the basics of Mormonism and when he asked me where the gold plates were and I told him the angel Moroni had taken them back to heaven (seriously, take this sentence out of context-doesn't it just sound bizzare?!) he kind of smirked. I could tell that he was genuinely trying not to be rude, and I appreciated that, but I told him that at some level we both believe that 2000 years ago some guy walked on water, died, and rose from the dead, so . . . yeah. We're all a little weird. And that's okay.
But in talking last night with Stephen and Rachel, Stephen provided me with yet another mind-blowing experience. He's actually quite sharp. So, it's been years since I've read the Doctrine and Covenants straight through. I've just been busy enough that I have just been reading the Book of Mormon and the Bible, but usually doubling it as language study. I guess I could have used the Doctrine and Covenants for German and French, but I do very much appreciate the Book of Mormon as the LDS' primary scripture for reading, so I've been focusing on it, and of course you can read the Bible in ancient Greek and Latin. Anyway, during the course of our conversation, Stephen mentioned that the D&C doesn't actually say that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri.
I did a double take.
After all, as the Bible dictionary says "Latter-day revelation confirms the biblical account of the Garden of Eden, and adds the important information that it was located on what is now the North American continent." Now, I must be honest, as one who thinks the evidence for human evolution is pretty overwhelming, the Garden of Eden mythos is one I've been trying to wrap my head around for years, as evidenced by this blog post. I would be much more sympathetic to a Garden of Eden set in Africa, for instance, where the evidence indicates human race originated and began to spread across the planet. I'm not the only Mormon with ideas in this vein, including current LDS Republican Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. Hugh Nibley said "Do not begrudge existence to creatures that looked like men long, long ago, nor deny them a place in God's affection or even a right to exaltation—for our scriptures allow them such. Nor am I overly concerned as to just when they might have lived, for their world is not our world" (Before Adam, which is a great talk covering many of these issues). So I was just going to place the Garden of Eden being in Missouri to the shelf, one of those things we see through a glass darkly and that would be made clear in the hereafter. That, after all, is my official answer on issues of evolution anyway, from D&C 101:32-34.
So there I am, furiously looking through the D&C, trying to find the reference. It's in there. I've believed this for years. Where is it?
It's not there.
It's not there at all.
The Guide to the Scriptures says the exact same thing as the Bible Dictionary, that modern day revelation teaches the Garden of Eden was on the North American continent, and gives as references D&C 116 and 117:8.
D&C 116 is only one verse long. "Spring Hill is named by the Lord Adam-ondi-Ahman, because, said he, it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel the prophet." That's ALL future tense. There is no talk of its relation to the Adam-ondi-Ahman spoken of from section 107, which was given three years earlier. This wouldn't be the first time that confusion has reigned about the location of an ancient site is in relation to a modernly-named counterpart (see: Hill Cumorah).
Section 117:8 is making a rhetorical point, and verse 11 is also similarly irrelevant to the issue, because whether it is the same spot Adam called his posterity together, the Lord has named Spring Hill Adam-Ondi-Ahman, so it works to call Newel Whitney there to be a bishop. The Guide to the Scriptures should have used verse 11, because it would actually help make the point that Adam-ondi-Ahman is Spring Hill.
In short, I know we Mormons have some "weird" beliefs. Sometimes we even deserve to get made fun of, a little, like this song from the Book of Mormon musical.
But I'm suddenly very comfortable saying that the Garden of Eden's precise location is not necessarily Jackson County, MO. It might be. But the textual evidence from the actual scriptures does not necessitate it.
But I still hope this part of Mormon "doctrine" is true.
Because someday I would love to live here: