On the “Mormons” thread, reader Kevinf notes his own surprise and chagrin at the fact that his 29-year-old daughter didn’t know about Mountain Meadows. I’m less shocked; when I was 29, I really didn’t know much about the topic, either.
Here’s a question for our readers: At what age, and through what avenue, did you learn about Mountain Meadows?
I’ll elaborate slightly on my own experience. I don’t recall hearing the term at all while I was growing up. I was raised in the church; attended seminary; served a mission. During this time, I literally had no idea that anything like Mountain Meadows existed.
A few conversations at Institute, after my mission, left me with the vague idea that there was something called the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and that it was mostly a topic used by anti-Mormons to smear the church. I had no idea really what the event involved, except that it was something that people blamed on the church; I also came away with the impression (though perhaps this was just my own interpretation) that the church was being wrongly blamed.
All this was pre-Internet, of course — I’m not sure how this would change for people today.
Then I went to law school, then to a demanding law firm; I had no free time to ponder religion for a while. Eventually, I got some free time and started blogging on religion with some of the folks here.
I came to T&S pretty naive. I still remember seeing Aaron Brown discuss changes in Word of Wisdom interpretation, and thinking, “hmm, that’s different.” I was hit with a wave of new ideas as I entered the bloggernacle — WoW development; Joseph Smith polygamy; limited geography hypothesis. Along the way, I picked up facts about Mountain Meadows from a few blog posts — as I recall, largely from Dave’s, though I could be misrecollecting. Eventually, I ordered a copy each of Brooks and Bagley.
At this point, I’m still no expert. I continue to learn about the event and its significance from some excellent ongoing blog discussions with, among others, Ardis Parshall and Bill MacKinnon. I’m happy to learn about it now.
The history of my own (lack of) knowledge leaves me unsurprised at the gap in Kevinf’s daughter’s understanding, because it’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve had any real understanding of Mountain Meadows. And my own (limited) observation makes me believe that many members follow a similar trajectory.
How about you, reader? When, and how, did you hear about Mountain Meadows?