We are staying with good friends this week in Herriman, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City. Utah is one of my favorite places on the planet because of its climate and natural beauty. This is my family’s second visit to the state. In the summer of 2019, we stayed for a week in the southern Utah city of St. George and explored the national parks of Zion, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon while we were there.
Herriman is a southwest suburb of SLC of just over 55,000 people. It was a small town with modest homes and small ranches/horse stables and fields. Developers came in the late 90s and early 2000s and started building suburbia. The construction continues today as homes are getting bigger and bigger as they make their way up Juniper Canyon. The population of Herriman in the 2000 census was just over 1,500 people. I visited SLC in the early 90s several times and I do not recognize the place. The views of the Wasatch Mountain Range are spectacular! The Wasatch Range is both the eastern edge of the Great Basin and Range of Nevada and the western edge of the Rocky Mountains. Although it lacks the character of older cities, it fits with the desert and mountain topography, and the homes, malls, and streets are pristine. It feels like an uncrowded and richer Japan and much cleaner and an upgrade from the infrastructure in other parts of the USA.
Modern Utah was founded by Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) pioneers seeking religious freedom. SLC has become much more diverse since I visited in the early 1990s, but “the Mormans” still are a central part of life in Utah. Overlooking the valley, you can see the lit LDS temples dotting the city, much like the towers and domes of mosques in Islamic cities. The industriousness and family values of the LDS church in my opinion have made SLC and the state of Utah one of the best places to live in the USA. There is a civic spirit of giving to the greater community here that you don’t feel in other American cities. The result is a low crime rate, less income inequality, and less of the modern societal ills plaguing America right now.
Our friends are a practicing LDS family and I was reading the Book of Morman to learn some more about the background of the faith. Although I am not a believer, I admire that it is a truly American religion. I also need to hand it to the founder of the religion, Joseph Smith to start one of the fastest-growing religions (over 16 million members from over 30,000 congregations) on earth in upstate New York in the early 1800s. He was martyred in Illinois while leading his congregation to find a safe place to practice their faith. They were persecuted because the early LDS church believed in polygamy and the fact that Joseph Smith was divinely inspired to translate/write a new book of the Bible. Here is my summary of the dogma of the LDS faith.
The angel Moroni appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1820 at his farm in Palmyra, New York. Moroni received the story of the ancient tribes of Israel from his father, the Prophet/Angel Morman. The prophecy was inscribed on tablets of gold in an ancient language and tells the story of the lost tribes of Israel (the People of Nephi) that left Jerusalem around 500 BC and settled in the Americas. It is an epic tale of four tribes making their way into the New World. By the time European settlers arrived in the Americas, all that was left were the indigenous Americans, ancestors of one of the groups, the Lamanites. Moroni buried the tablets in 421 AD and waited for over 1000 years to reveal them to Joseph Smith in upstate New York. Smith translated the tablets into English. At the start of the scripture, 11 witnesses testify that they handled and saw the tablets. LDS members believe that the Book of Morman belongs in the Canon of the Christian Bible.