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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

If Elvis Were King

by Sharon

There's a new movie being produced in Orem, Utah expected to bolster the faith of members of the Mormon Church.
Rob Diamond has written and is directing "Tears of a King" which explores that [spiritual] part of Elvis' life. The movie looks at the period when Presley studied the teachings of the LDS Church. He was given a Book of Mormon and visited with missionaries a number of times.

Reportedly, Elvis received several Books of Mormon throughout his life, but one has made its way to the LDS Church and now sits in the Church's archives. The book has writing in the margins, purportedly put there by Elvis, which expresses a favorable disposition toward the LDS Church.

So far two people who gave Elvis Books of Mormon have come forward, but an interesting article entitled Elder Elvis? The King and the Mormon Faith by Peggy Fletcher Stack interviews a woman who says this Book of Mormon was her gift to Elvis.
Picture this: Elvis' gyrating hips planted primly on a Mormon pew -- or the King of Rock 'n' Roll working as an LDS missionary in heaven, serenading the unsaved.

This vision is not too difficult for Cricket Coulter, an LDS convert who began her lifelong adoration of Elvis in the fifth grade. The fiftyish Coulter, who lives in Orem, claims that in the months before he died, Elvis was close to converting to Mormonism. She gave the "King" a copy of The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants.

Months after his death on Aug. 16, 1977, The Book of Mormon in which Elvis reportedly scribbled notes was returned to Coulter. Real or not, the writing in the blue paperback book has become yet another faith-promoting rumor circulated among Mormons with the same enthusiasm as speculation that actor Jimmy Stewart and filmmaker Walt Disney at one time looked into joining the church.

Cricket says she sent LDS missionaries to teach Elvis at his home in Memphis in 1977.
"After the first discussion, Elvis knew more than the missionaries," Coulter says.

As part of the usual conversion process, the missionaries immediately challenged Elvis to be baptized.

"I'd like to but I'll be on tour," she says he told them. "If you wait until September, I'll do it."

A baptism date was set for the first Saturday in September, Coulter claims, but Elvis was dead by August.

None of this, of course, can be confirmed. Current LDS missionaries in Memphis have no record of pervious missionaries ever visiting Elvis.

Also lacking substantiation is the assertion that the handwriting in the Book of Mormon is the handwriting of Elvis:
The LDS Church archives has received many inquiries about the book, nearly one a week, [Bill] Slaughter [archivist for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] says. But neither the LDS Church nor the Graceland museum have tried to authenticate the handwriting.

Nevertheless, the wishful-thinking rumors will continue to circulate and likely grow.

This reminds me a bit of a book that came out in 1998, The Restored Gospel According to C.S. Lewis. In this book, LDS author Nathan Jensen's wishful thinking and creative quoting turned Christian author and philosopher C.S. Lewis into a man who really was a Mormon but just didn't know it.

At any rate, I'm sure the rumors about Elvis and the "Tears of a King" film will accomplish good things from the viewpoint of the LDS Church. According to the Elder Elvis article, Elvis' Book of Mormon has already contributed to the conversion of at least one person. LaVonne Gaw is an archivist/researcher at the Graceland Museum in Memphis.
Indeed, Elvis was "my missionary," says Gaw, an LDS convert who became interested in Mormonism after hearing that Elvis read The Book of Mormon.

Apparently Mormon records show that Elvis has been baptized by proxy into the LDS Church "numerous times." Cricket Coulter trusts in those proxy baptisms and in her understanding of Elvis' desire to join the Church.
"I wish he had lived longer and joined the church -- it just didn't happen," she says. "I know he's up there doing his work like he's supposed to."

I guess we won't know this side of Heaven where Elvis stood with God. Did he in fact abandon the Christian faith of his youth in favor of the LDS god? Did he like the idea of becoming a God and spending eternity ruling over his own creation and his own people? Or, until the end of his days, did he wait in hopeful expectation to spend eternity in the glorious presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords?

At one of Elvis' concerts in the late 1970s fans held up a banner that read, "Elvis is the King." The rock and roll giant told the fans that there is only one King. He said, "I am not the King. Jesus Christ is the King."

Seems that Elvis might have shunned the idea of becoming a King in the LDS Celestial kingdom; looks like he preferred to leave Almighty God on His rightful throne.

4 Comments:

  • At September 20, 2006 4:40 PM, Anonymous Eric said…

    If Elvis were a closet Mormon, and if he were to become a spirit missionary, then I wonder if he will have to shave the burns. I wonder if he would begin his missionary lessons with "Thannnk you! Thank you very much." And I wonder if swiveling hips will become the rage in the celestial kingdom. Jes thinkin.

     
  • At September 21, 2006 11:24 AM, Anonymous Craig said…

    Well, "wise men say, only fools rush in", so maybe that explains why Elvis was slow to join the LDS Church. Sounds like he might have had a "Suspicious Mind" concerning LDS theology. I think it's safe to say that "Elvis has left the temple".

    What's next? Will they claim that "Jailhouse Rock" is about Joseph Smith?

     
  • At October 10, 2006 1:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Along with all that wishful thinking, one could see the possibility of a number of women who would love to be sealed for time and eternity with the King of Rock and Roll.

     
  • At October 16, 2006 1:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i doubt christ would want you spreading your message by bashing other religions and mocking their beliefs. maybe mormon culture is odd. i think this elvis thing is odd, and i am a mormon. but your celebrating the wierdness of some mormons brings images of nashing teeth and celebrating a fellow human beings weakness. shame shame on you. God bless you for the good that you do. But quit bashing.

     

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