"I suspect if the Lord needed to restore some important truths today He'd go to an unknown 14-year old farm girl on a Navajo Reservation without any credentials, training or authority." Afterward Clark Burt posted a comment, "Reminded me of Joan of Arc being burned at the stake because the church did not want a 14 year old girl receiving revelations instead of the church leaders. Right on."
Well, I found his mention of Joan of Arc an interesting coincidence because unbeknownst to Clark I had written several pages about Joan of Arc to illustrate my point, but because that post had grown so long I decided to save it for another day.
How would Joan of Arc fare in modern-day Relief Society?
Modern Joans of Arc
If Joan were alive today, I wonder what her Bishop would do with her (the poor fellow!) ― stick her in Nursery? Make her direct the music to the slow tempo of the organist?
Would that be a waste of her gifts?
Joan of Arc was a young woman of great faith and turned the tides of war; she altered the course of history. But would anyone listen to her today?
Prior to her capture, Joan of Arc was instrumental in securing the throne for Charles VII of France. She was known as "the Maid" because she was the Maid of Orleans who defeated the English forces in battle.
And for all of her bravery, what was her reward? The Church, through its agent, the Bishop Pierre Cauchon, burned her at the stake in Rouen.
She was only 19 years old when she died.
The Catholic Church burned Joan alive at the stake because she threatened their authority.
Her activism was bad for business.
Joan declared publicly that she had been sent by God. (And she wore men's clothing!)
Do you think the Church liked hearing about her visions of St. Michael and St. Catherine, and their messages to her?
I mean, it's okay to have personal revelation and for a peasant girl to have dreams and visions (perhaps about who to marry or something), but what happens when a person dares to actually speak in the name of God? And the message is "defeat the English"?!
Off with her head!
Especially, and dangerously, when Joan started to attract a following. Nothing draws the ire of leaders like people punching someone else's ticket.
Remember when Jesus entered Jerusalem with fanfare at the Triumphal Entry? That really upset the leaders. In Mark 11:18 we read:
The chief priests and the teachers of the law . . .
These were the respected leaders and teachers who were in charge of interpreting the scriptures and telling the people how to live their religion. They had set themselves up as "lights." So why were they threatened by Christ's light?
heard this and began looking for a way to kill him,
That seems awfully drastic, doesn't it? Why would these men of God think it was okay to kill Jesus? Had they deluded themselves into believing they were doing God's will?
"Surely this law breaker, Jesus, was ruining people's faith. After all, he didn't fast! He didn't observe the Sabbath! He mingled with lepers!"
In their minds, they must have viewed themselves as the righteous Defenders of the Faith.
for they feared him
Here's the part that always confuses me. Jesus never hurt anyone; he had refused to be king when the people wanted to crown him; he showed no interest in politics; he made no claim to the chief seats; so why were the leaders scared of Him?
because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
Ah, here we see the reason, at last. If there's one thing leadership cannot tolerate, it is a challenge to their authority.
Jesus had to go.
Because the crowds were listening to Him instead of them.
Joan of Arc was a Type of Christ?
In many ways Joan was a type of Christ. She threatened the Church's cozy situation with the nobles and political officers of her day like Jesus had done in His.
If you're wondering how we know so much about a young woman who lived 600 years ago in medieval Europe when most people were illiterate (less than 20% of the population could read and write), it's thanks to the Church, actually.
During her trial the priests kept good notes, so we have the minutes, which are epic (you can actually read the transcript of her "court of love" if you want).
In 1431 the Church accused Joan of heresy and apostasy ("refusing to submit her words and deeds to the Church").
To place her in historical context, Martin Luther would nail his Ninety-Five Theses 86 years later in 1517.
Joan's trial lasted several months as the Church interrogated her, suffering in her version of Liberty Jail, a prisoner of the clergy exercising unrighteous dominion over her.
Joan told the court: "You say that you are my judge; I do not know if you are: but take good heed not to judge me ill, because you would put yourself in great peril. And I warn you so that if God punish you for it, I shall have done my duty in telling you."
Trumped Up Charges
Well, you won't believe what the Church finally convicted Joan of.
She was convicted of ― wait for it ― wearing men's clothes.
That's right! I guess the Church needed to send a strong message against cross-dressing (well, in Joan's defense, how else was she going to lead an army on horseback?).
But everyone and their milkman knew the real reason Joan was killed:
She was uncontrollable by the religious establishment.
The men requiried her to renounce wearing men's clothing.
As a sign of submission, they placed Joan in a dress and she shaved her head.
On May 30, 1431, they paraded her through the marketplace in Rouen in Normandy like a cow and then burned her at the stake.
Her last request was to be given a cross; an English soldier made one from a stick and gave it to her. She clutched this makeshift wooden cross in her hands as she died.
Afterward they threw her corpse into the Seine.
We Need to Stop Burning People
I've stood in the place where Joan died. Now the Church has made a Saint of the girl they martyred and they have built a memorial for her in Rouen.
As a missionary serving in France, I visited many of the places Joan fought and served. My first "area" was a suburb of Paris called Melun where Joan advanced with her forces towards Compiegne. I visited the Cathedral of Reims where she helped to crown the Dauphin.
As a father now, remembering her courage and faith and sacrifice, I wonder if the Church today understands what God can accomplish through His daughters any better than it did 600 years ago.
I've heard people say we need modern-day Captain Moroni's. I would like to add:
Watch for modern Joans of Arc, too. They are among us.