Assumed Audience: Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are curious about history, civilizations, and/or Zion.

Epistemic Status: Extremely confident in the priciples. The more general or high level things are, the more confident I am. I become less confident as things become more detailed.

Chapter 7: “The City of Zion” 1

Josiah watched silently as the posse pushed the two outside the massive gates before they somberly swung shut with thunder.

“Well, back we go,” said Eli. “Thank you, everyone; your job is done.”

He turned to Samuel. “I’m sure these people would like to talk to you, if you’re willing.”

Samuel nodded, and Josiah had a sinking feeling that they were going back all the way to the fusion research plat.

But as they got on the train again, Eli said, “Don’t worry; I’ll answer a lot of your questions on the way.”

* * *

Josiah sneered at what he saw: 8 men gathered around his father, asking questions. “What a waste of their time.”

“Only they can judge that,” said Eli. “But you’re wasting my time by dwelling on that. Are you jealous much?”

Josiah started. “What? No!”

“Well then, let’s talk. I believe you want answers about why Zion is built the way it is, right?”

Josiah nodded.

“I’m sure you have noticed that I had us sit in the observation car, right?”


“I want you to watch what we pass as we travel and talk.

“First thing, you will see that there are plenty of plats. We pass them pretty fast, about one every 20 seconds. That’s at 350 miles per hour, by the way; each plat is a hexagon with sides of length about 18,300 feet or about 3.5 miles. That translates to about 20,000 acres per plat.

“Why that much? Because 20,000 acres is about how much space it takes to comfortably provide for 2600 families of an average of 6 people each.

“And that is important because most of that is farmland. In the center of the plat is the township, which looks like this.”

Eli pulled up a picture on his phone.

“This was the design of Zion by Joseph Smith around August 1833.”

“Oh, this is bound to be terrible!” Josiah exclaimed. “Joseph Smith barely knew how to read and write; how could he know anything about city design?”

“He didn’t have to,” Eli said. “God revealed it, and while the Saints in his day did not understand the why, maybe including the Prophet himself, research done by us and by old American city planners bears out what he did.”

Eli turned back to the image. “Anyway, the township has 132 blocks, 130 of which are used for residences. Each residence block has 20 plots. This means that there are 2600 families per township. At an average of 6 per family, that’s 15,600 people.

“And all of those people are surrounded by about 20,000 acres, giving them space away from other plats.”

“What a stupid system,” Josiah said. “Why not let townships grow into towns, then cities?”

“Because as urban areas grow, people know their neighbors less. It may sound stupid to you, but community is crucial to Zion. Community is what allows the social contract to work because if people don’t know their neighbors, they are disconnected from them.

“I’ll talk more about that later when we talk about the Law of Consecration.”

Josiah rolled his eyes. “Looking forward to it.”

Eli stood. “Anyway, we use hexagons because they tile really well; I’ll assume your math teacher taught you why.

“Since you’ve watched old American movies, have you ever wondered why we don’t have cars?”

“Absolutely! So brainless.”

“Would you like the constant noise?”

“I doubt it’s that bad.”

“Oh, it is,” Eli said. “The silence is nice and noticeable.”

He sat down. “Instead, cars are allowed between townships, but why would anyone use them when the trains are faster? I mean, they go 350 miles per hour, and a lot of them go between major hubs that are hundreds of miles apart in less than an hour.”

“Transfers are annoying.”

“Perhaps, but it’s still faster to go to a major hub, then out again.

“And the trains are built to take bicycles and other small vehicles, including self-propelled cargo carts. This means that people can go clear across Zion in an hour, shop, and bring back more than they can carry, about as much as a car could carry, faster than a car could.

“You’d think we would give something up, and if you think transfers are too annoying, I guess that’s the price. But to get a quiet town in exchange? That seems like a great trade-off!

Josiah pouted. “But it’s boring.”

“Spare me,” Eli said. “You haven’t lived where cars are, and it is noisy.

“It’s also dangerous; cars make streets killing fields. It’s also dirty; the pollution makes the air unsafe and unpleasant to breathe.

“Oh, and another thing? The towns are not as bright! Cities could be extremely lit at night in the United States, but here in Zion, you can still see the stars!”

Josiah gawked. “What a stupid reason!”

“You haven’t looked at the stars, have you?”

“Once, when I was five. I told the old man that I hated it, and never did it again.”

“Why am I not surprised?” Eli asked.

“Anyway,” he continued, “that’s why we don’t have cars. Or trucks. They have to remain outside of the townships.

“This is why the Fusion Research Center is on the edge of the township: it’s shipping and receiving is outside of the township, meaning that any trucks going to the FRC never enter the township!

“This is also why Gamaliel Nomast’s general store is on the edge of the township,” he adds. “I’m sure he gets a lot of big deliveries.”

Josiah perked up. “Oh yeah, that reminds me: why do you all let industrial and commercial stuff mix with residential stuff? Haven’t you heard of zoning?”

“Haven’t you heard how bad zoning was in American cities?” Eli countered. “They ended up making cities that required cars, with bad public transportation and terrible sprawl. They locked the poor into poor conditions and separated people into classes.

“We certainly keep pollution out of our townships by keeping true industrial things out in the 20,000 acre area, but other than that, there are so many benefits to allowing commercial use of residential areas.

“For example, people don’t have to commute to work; imagine spending two hours a day just traveling to and from work. If you can run a business from home or work from home, why wouldn’t you?”

“Besides the distraction of the devils called children?” Josiah grunted.

Eli replied, “People are adults; they figure out what works. Anyway, it also allows people to do most of their errands without a car, just by walking. They can go to Gamaliel’s general store by walking. They can go to the local grocer by walking. Or bike. Whatever they wish.

“The idyllic European village life that you may have seen in some American media? We have it in spades.”

“It’s still boring.”

“I’ll take boring peace over exciting cacophony.”