Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Nauvoo: My First Tours

Today, I became a (legitimate? official? genuine?) tour guide. No more training. This time, I was out on my own giving tours to actual Nauvoo tourists. They went easy on me for my first tour: four tourists, at 9:30 AM when the weather was still on the cool side. The tour went quite well. There are always questions I’m unable to answer, but that’s largely unavoidable. What’s noteworthy to me are some of the attitudes that come across. At one part of the tour, I mention Joseph Smith’s reworking of the Bible. In the LDS tradition, it is referred to as the Joseph Smith Version of the Bible. In Community of Christ, it is referred to as the Inspired Version. I used both names, acknowledging that different traditions refer to it in different ways. A woman in my tour group, somewhat defensively, told me that the original church calls it the Joseph Smith Translation. It’s an interesting mentality, one I feel I understand because I grew up LDS. The idea is that all of the other churches that trace themselves back to Joseph Smith broke off of what is now the LDS Church. There is also the attitude that the LDS Church is the only one that gets things right, and I think many LDS presume that if one were sufficiently educated, one would know that the LDS Church is the more legitimate institution. I assume that they assume (a double ass risk, I know) that, because Community of Christ is not the “true” church, members of Community of Christ are going to be more confused and incorrect about the history of the church. I believe this is what I would’ve thought many years ago. When the woman told me that the original church called it the Joseph Smith Translation, I simply said that I wasn’t entirely sure what they would’ve called it back in the 1840s. When I got back to the visitor’s center, I researched it. Turns out Joseph Smith and those in his day would’ve called it the New Translation. The name “Joseph Smith Translation” wasn’t used by the LDS Church until the 1970s. That didn’t prevent this woman from being entirely confident that her tradition was the correct one and the one that must never have changed. Kind of funny.

My second tour was not bad, but the people seemed less engaged overall. Maybe because they were more quiet, and maybe they were more quiet because there were more of them. There were 12 total tourists on this tour. That’s less than half of the maximum number of tourists we would normally take on tour, and yet while inside one of our properties, I found it difficult to address all of them in a way that didn’t feel some were getting left out. It was so crowded. It makes me wonder how in the world I’m supposed to do it when I’ve got nearly 30 tourists. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

To give you a quick update on everyone else, Melanie somehow manages to keep herself and the boys busy during the day. They’ve explored some of the LDS sites, and Melanie has some interesting tales of her own regarding the mentalities she’s encountered there. This week, she has spent the morning hours at Reunion, which I explained in my previous blog entry. At Reunion, the boys take classes and Melanie also participates in classes for adults. I think they’re really enjoying it, and I’m thrilled. Today, Melanie also took the boys to participate in the archaeological digs that are going on in Nauvoo right now. They will let anyone help, although it amounts more to sifting through dirt than it does to actual digging. Still, I think the kids found it pretty neat.

This Saturday is the 171st anniversary of Joseph Smith’s being killed at Carthage, Illinois. They will be holding a kind of memorial service at that time. As one of the Nauvoo tour guides, I’ll be reading something at that service. Rumor has it, one of the readings will be from Community of Christ’s version of the Doctrine and Covenants, which is kind of cool. Undoubtedly, the overwhelming majority of guests at the service will be LDS, so they won’t be familiar with whatever we read from the Community of Christ D&C. But there are some beautiful things in that book, and I’m glad we can share them with others, even if many of them are prepared to dismiss them out of hand. It should be an interesting experience.

That’s all for now. Until next time…

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