Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Monday, March 24, 2014

Elder Murray and Count Leo Tolstoy

It was SO nice to have a lot to do today.  When we arrived there were things to accomplish before the office meeting--calendar, missionary arrivals and departures (a list for Pres. Wall so he can see on one page how many sisters & elders and Spanish sisters & elders will be coming and going in the next 3 months), birthday cards, any questions I have for Pres. Wall and a few other items.

After the meeting there are always things to do and assignments and tasks to be completed.  And the mail arrived while we were meeting--lots of mail!  Mail that needed to be forwarded, sorted, organized, catalogued, or whatever you can do with mail.  Elder Lauper and Elder Fontenot made their 3rd trip to Natchez in a week and were able to sign a lease so the elders could get out of a very unhealthy location.  There have been some events in their apartment complex that justify getting them out before the end of the month.  It's interesting that, even though apartments are difficult to find in that location, you can see the Lord's hand in little miracles that have occurred make a change in their environment.  The Lord looks out for His obedient servants!  On the first trip Elders L & F went to see a house that looked very good on the internet but, in reality, was trashed. They went to 4 other apartments without success, then went to lunch with the elders who suggested one other location close to the church and in a nice area.  It would have been perfect except there nothing was available. Through a series of events over the next week something surprisingly opened up and the very accommodating landlady offered the apartment to Elder F over others on a waiting list, pulled workers off other jobs to paint and clean, and they signed the lease which allowed the elders to move today!

I had the opportunity to visit with Elder Murray, on the left. He's one of the 21 missionaries who'll be leaving in August. His plan is to return home, then move to Provo to live with his brother and wife until he can get a job, an apartment and begin school.  He worked the year in between high school and his mission so he'll be starting fresh in the fall without a clue what he'll be studying.  I'm not exactly sure how we got on the subject of Crime and Punishment and Dostoevsky, but Elder M was sharing some quotes that leads me to want to read the book.  I asked him if he was familiar with the quote in A Marvelous Work and a Wonder about Leo Tolstoy.  He wasn't so I printed off a copy for him as he ran out the office door. When War and Peace was required reading in my last semester of college I decided that if Tolstoy see the church for what it was, I could certainly give him and his 1600 pages a chance.  I loved the peace parts much better than the war but can still say I've read it!  Here's the quote:

Count Leo Tolstoy, the great Russian author, statesman, and philosopher, held [this] opinion as to the possible future destiny of the "American religion" founded under the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Thomas J. Yates related an experience he had while a student at Cornell University in 1900. He had the privilege of meeting Dr. Andrew D. White, former president of Cornell and, at the time, U.S. Ambassador to Germany. Upon learning that Mr. Yates was a Mormon, Dr. White made an appointment to spend an evening with him, at which time he related an experience he had had with Count Tolstoy while serving as U.S. Foreign Minister to Russia in 1892. Dr. White visited often with Count Tolstoy, and upon one occasion they discussed religion. We quote from Elder Yates' account of this discussion, as related to him by Dr. White:

“Dr. White," said Count Tolstoy, "I wish you would tell me about your American religion."

"We have no state church in America," replied Dr. White.

"I know that, but what about your American religion?"

Patiently then Dr. White explained to the Count that in America there are many religions, and that each person is free to belong to the particular church in which he is interested. 

To this Tolstoy impatiently replied: "I know all of this, but I want to know about the American religion. Catholicism originated in Rome; the Episcopal Church originated in England; the Lutheran Church in Germany, but the Church to which I refer originated in America, and is commonly known as the Mormon Church. What can you tell me of the teachings of the Mormons?" 

"Well," said Dr. White, "I know very little concerning them. They have an unsavory reputation, they practice polygamy, and are very superstitious."

Then Count Leo Tolstoy, in his honest and stern, but lovable, manner, rebuked the ambassador. "Dr. White, I am greatly surprised and disappointed that a man of your great learning and position should be so ignorant on this important subject. The Mormon people teach the American religion; their principles teach the people not only of Heaven and its attendant glories, but how to live so that their social and economic relations with each other are placed on a sound basis. If the people follow the teachings of this Church, nothing can stop their progress -- it will be limitless. There have been great movements started in the past but they have died or been modified before they reached maturity. If Mormonism is able to endure, unmodified, until it reaches the third and fourth generation, it is destined to become the greatest power the world has ever known." 

Because of his discussion with Count Tolstoy, upon his return to the United States Dr. White secured a set of the Church works and placed them in the Cornell University Library.

No comments:

Post a Comment