There’s a lot of rumbling among the saints today. Buzzing about the role of women. Concern about polygamy. Fretting about various historical issues. Disquiet about the boundary between inclusion and exclusion. These are unsettled times.
Yet there is nothing quite like a little historical excursion to put today’s challenges in perspective. Sylvester Smith battled Joseph all along the journey of Zion’s Camp. And the whole enterprise of marching out to claim Zion appeared ill-conceived when nothing came of it. Many Kirtland saints turned against Joseph when the bank failed and savings were lost. Many scratched their heads and searched their souls—and some quit their places—when Zion was not established. (Being driven from one Missouri county to another did not seem to fulfill the prophecies!)
There are several ways of making sense of this recurring confusion. Maybe the wheels keep falling off because the whole thing is a badly designed human contraption. Or maybe the Good Ship Zion is part inspired and part human and humans don’t always get their part right. While we could argue the potential for humans to mess things up, I favor another possibility.