Monday, March 7, 2011

Leo Tolstoy on Mormonism

I found this post from and thought it was interesting and wanted to share it.

"I heard of this comment by the Russian Count Leo Tolstoy many years ago, when I was still a new member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I lived in Italy. Mormons are not well known in Italy and it was particularly important for me at that time to have something good about Mormons to share with relatives and friends (who were not Mormons). Not that there are not enough good things to share about the Mormon religion, or what some call the “American religion“, but many have the tendency to look for the endorsement of some famous person to approve of something, before even being willing to look into it.

Obviously a quote or story is not enough for those who decided not to investigate seriously Mormonism, but this is the story about Count Leo Tolstoy and I love it, and I think it is becoming every day more true.

Count Leo Tolstoy, Russian author and statesman, in conversation with Andrew D. White, United States foreign minister to Russia, in 1892 said, “I wish you would tell me about your American religion.”

“We have no state church in America,” replied Dr. White.

“I know that, but what about your American religion?”

Dr. White explained to Tolstoy that in America each person is free to belong to the particular church in which he is interested.

Tolstoy impatiently replied: “I know all of this, but I want to know about the American religion. … The church to which I refer originated in America and is commonly known as the Mormon Church. What can you tell me of the teachings of the Mormons?”

Doctor White said, “I know very little concerning them.”

Then Count Leo Tolstoy rebuked the ambassador. “Dr. White, I am greatly surprised and disappointed that a man of your great learning and position should be so ignorant on this important subject. Their principles teach the people not only of heaven and its attendant glories, but how to live so that their social and economic relations with each other are placed on a sound basis. If the people follow the teachings of this church, nothing can stop their progress—it will be limitless.”

Tolstoy continued, “There have been great movements started in the past but they have died or been modified before they reached maturity. If Mormonism is able to endure, unmodified, until it reaches the third and fourth generation, it is destined to become the greatest power the world has ever known.”  –Shared by Elder David B. Haight in the May 1980 Ensign, emphasis added."