Christopher Columbus, Worthy Servant

October 12, 2015

Today is the second Monday in October, the day we celebrate Columbus Day.  Or we used to.  Somewhere in my files I have a copy of an elementary school assignment which taught that Columbus was a wicked man.  This was from a Utah public school, and it was at least two decades ago!  This year Columbus seems to be mostly ignored.

The Lord sees things differently.  Before the Restoration of the Gospel, He sent the Founding Fathers to establish liberty in the land and enshrine it in the Constitution.  And before the Founding Fathers, He sent Columbus.  “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”

As Later-day Saints, we have much to celebrate.  Brother Columbus is a High Priest in our Church.  He and Washington and Jefferson are all friends.  And John Wesley.

  • The temple work for the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence and other Founding Fathers has been done. All these appeared to Wilford Woodruff when he was President of the St. George Temple. President George Washington was ordained a high priest at that time. You will also be interested to know that according to Wilford Woodruff’s journal, John Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, and Christopher Columbus were also ordained high priests at that time. When one casts doubts about the character of these noble sons of God, I believe he or she will have to answer to the God of heaven for it. –The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.604 (see p.598-604).

That is a heavy indictment.  There must be more to Columbus than most people know.

Last year Deseret Book published, and I bought, a wonderful book, Christopher Columbus, A Man Among the Gentiles, which was written by President Hinckley’s son, Clark, who served as Mission President over the Spain Barcelona Mission.

  • Through research into original Spanish texts and accounts written in Columbus’s own hand, the author retraces the journeys of this dedicated explorer to uncover what may be the most remarkable aspect of Columbus’s life: the degree to which he understood his prophetic mission and his place in history.

A book written from original source material!  This year I actually read the book, or at least parts of it.  Now I understand why Columbus belongs with those other three great men.

  • Not only did Columbus unlock the gates of the Ocean Sea but his accomplishments were a decisive factor in unlocking the intellectual and spiritual darkness that had encompassed Europe for centuries and was just beginning to fade.  An awakening of the human spirit would be felt across Europe and manifest in many ways. – p.207

I love Clark Hinckley’s book!

In 1992, BYU published Arnold Garr’s book, “Christopher Columbus, a Latter-day Saint Perspective.” I bought that book some years ago, and it can still be found, but the entire text is now freely available online through BYU.  I spoke with Brother Garr once and I think he is happy to have it available.

In 1992 the Church celebrated the 500 year anniversary of the 1492 voyage of Columbus.  A BYU article said:

  • It has been a difficult year for Columbus in most respects but not within the LDS Church.  Special firesides, sacrament meeting talks, a fifty-foot, four-panel mural in the Los Angeles Temple Visitors Center, and even a laudatory statement in President Gordon B. Hinckley’s discourse in the October 1992 general priesthood meeting have been part of the commemoration of the discovery of the Americas.  Columbus would have appreciated the affirmation that he was inspired by religious motives and experiences to make the voyage.  The way Mormons, in general, view Columbus is probably similar to the way he would have wanted.

How interesting that President Hinckley’s son Richard would be sent to Barcelona.  Gives me “goose bumps.”

You can also find articles about Columbus on the church website.  Children could do that and share their findings at Family Night.

And then you might finish up with an amazing BYUI devotional speech by Elder Glen Rudd entitled “The Angel Moroni.” The date was March 11, 2003, and Brother Rudd said Moroni visited Columbus.  It’s a great talk; your children will enjoy it. Search for the audio on the BYU-I Devotional page and find the text here.

Happy Columbus Day!
Joyce

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