Any essay of mine published last year in an anthology, A Book of Mormons: Latter-day Saints on a Modern-Day Zion.
Here’s a review of the book that also includes a short review of the essay.
Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together.— Eugène Ionesco
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. — Psalm 137:1
Could there be any ideal farther out of reach than Zion? For thousands of years various peoples have tried to build city-versions of it, only to have them captured or destroyed. Jewish and Christian communities have longed for it with such prolonged intensity that numerous locations— both past and future— have borne its designation: Zion was a ruined, once glorious city left behind in ages past; or it was a mountain, or a temple. Zion is simultaneously a future utopia, where the righteous will dwell in peace forever.
In the midst of seemingly eternal remembering and waiting, Mormons have found a place for Zion in the present: within the pure in heart, those who dwell together with one heart and mind. But who are the pure in heart? Where are those communities of people who willingly live side by side, who think and feel as one? Would any of us dare to number ourselves amongst these godlike beings, who dwell in the company of angels?
Seemingly the one place in scripture where Zion is a success—Enoch’s legendary city—was taken by God to heaven without a trace. Yet we learn from Enoch that even (perhaps especially) such a paradisiacal association is not without its cost. Before God removes Zion from the world, he shows Enoch the immense suffering and evil among the peoples of the earth, and Enoch is filled with sorrow and bitterness. He would eventually receive a fullness of joy, but not before he was burdened with the sorrow and despair of the world.