The LDS Conspiracy Fails Again!

Of course you all know which conspiracy I mean, right? The conspiracy of “the Brethren” to promulgate to the world and to the membership of the LDS Church “obfuscation, evasion, and half-truths,” (as my friend Equality would put it), regarding certain historical events in the lives of Joseph Smith and others. Well, this week it failed, again!

Apparently, someone in the “Strengthening the Members” committee, a supposedly shadowy group hidden somewhere in the bowels of the labyrinth, cubicled realm of the Church Office Building, whose name continually reverberates ominously in the ears of all DAMU-ites everywhere; apparently someone in that committee forgot to send the obfuscation memo to my Elders’ Quorum Instructor this last Sunday.

The lesson, taught by one whom I assume (based on the conspiracy theories so often whispered by anxious “NOMs” everywhere) will soon face a disciplinary council for his blatant disregard of correlated lesson materials, was Lesson 1 from the new Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith manual, entitled “The First Vision: The Father and the Son Appear to Joseph Smith.” He prefaced his lesson by teaching some details about the economic situation of Joseph Smith’s family, such as how they moved to Palmyra, NY because Joseph Smith, Sr. had lost the family farm after his business idea (growing ginseng and selling it to China) failed.

In conjunction with discussing the religious fervor rampant in the area at the time, the instructor mentioned that during that time there were several accounts from various nearby and faraway places of glorious visions where people claimed to have seen the Father and the Son. Then, prior to recounting the “official” version of Joseph Smith’s “First Vision” penned in 1838 (some 18 years after it occurred) and subsequently canonized into LDS scripture, the instructor proceeded to remind us that the version in the lesson manual was not the first version that had been written. Amazingly, given the LDS Church’s supposed efforts over the years to suppress this information, nobody seemed surprised or shocked in the least by this information, solid evidence that this obviously is not the first time the LDS conspiracy to keep its members oppressed through “lies and half-truths” has failed. Indeed, there were no sudden sighs of dismay, no offended reprimands, no rolling eyes- not even a raised eyebrow that I could see as I looked into the faces of my brothers in the Quorum.

The really amazing thing actually happened at the end of the lesson hour. After we discussed for a moment the ramifications of the various vision accounts, related by Joseph Smith at various times, for various reasons, to various people, the instructor then had us close the meeting by reading the canonized version of the “first vision” account, which is this, in Joseph Smith’s own words:

I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

As we read those words recounting what Joseph Smith witnessed that day, a sacred stillness enveloped the room as each Elder who paid attention once again received a special witness in his own heart that Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. I know I left that meeting with a renewed commitment to Jesus Christ and His Church, as restored by Him through Joseph Smith, whose prophetic words still rang in my ears all the way home, and brought a quiet, assured smile to my face.

But you know what’s really odd about this whole thing? I know it’s only Tuesday today, but I have not even heard one whisper of a rumor that this good brother will be reprimanded for teaching truth on Sunday.

Where is the “white shirt brigade?” Where is the “court of love”? I’m just disappointed that the conspiracy I have worked so hard all these years to protect has apparently failed, again. What’s a good mormon boy to do?

(You can read about another huge conspiracy failure here. This time, they failed to “obfuscate” where it matters most- with the teaching of our children!!)

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58 Responses to The LDS Conspiracy Fails Again!

  1. Tammy says:

    Jordan and John,
    I’ve been having a fun time reading your blogs. I have never heard of this “conspiracy group”, but they sound interesting, and so I’m going to check out more of your blogs! :)

    I’m writing to tell you about a little project I’m working on with Chris Heimerdinger. He’s the author of the “Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites” books. He also has a new movie out you may be interested in blogging about…

    After a solid run throughout the state of Utah, Chris Heimerdinger’s first feature film, Passage to Zarahemla, opens in the Twin Falls area this Friday. January 18th, at the Twin Cinema 12. In response to fan request and with 50,000-plus LDS members residing in the Twin Falls community (many of these being huge fans of Chris’s books), Chris is very excited to bring this first-ever LDS action/adventure film (one that contains the most special effects of any film ever for one million dollars) to the Twin Falls area.

    Chris is available for interview and would love to discuss with you his incredible journey from best-selling novelist to award-winning filmmaker. Many people do not realize Chris was a filmmaker first and received the Sundance Film Institute’s Most Promising Filmmaker award, and others awards as well.

    Feel free to contact me at 801-604-1109 or at tams8275@yahoo.com to set up an interview with Chris. You can also contact his PR manager Bettyanne Bruin at 801-759-2498 or at bruinpr@yahoo.com.

    I appreciate your consideration of this e-mail and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

    Tammy Price

  2. Jordan F. says:

    Tammy:

    I actually suggested to Chris once, on his website, the idea that he was a filmmaker who tells stories, rather than the other way around. He agreed with the characterization…

  3. Nick Literski says:

    It amazes me to see young people and “recent” converts publicly deny the existence of the Strengthening the Membership Committee. I’ve seen bloggers claim that this is a mere invention of critics of the LDS church. Evidently you folks weren’t listening when the LDS church confirmed the existence of this committee in a public press release, which was covered in newspapers and Utah news programs. In fact, the press release was the only reason anyone knew the name of the committee.

  4. Jordan F. says:

    “Evidently you folks weren’t listening when the LDS church confirmed the existence of this committee in a public press release, which was covered in newspapers and Utah news programs. In fact, the press release was the only reason anyone knew the name of the committee”

    What are you talking about , Nick? I never “denied” its existence! In fact, the Wikipedia entry I link to confirms it, linking to several newspaper articles and even an official LDS Church press release! Where in the world did you get the idea that I, and other LDS Church members, believe this committee does not exist. I know it exists, but I just have my doubts regarding the “sinister” nature that so many people tend to read into its existence.

  5. Nick Literski says:

    My apologies then, Jordan. I read your “supposedly shadowy group…” description and thought you were disclaiming its existence, not just it’s nature.

  6. Eric Nielson says:

    Thank you for sharing your testimony and experience. I am excited about going back to Elders Quorum. I was just released from a calling in Young Men’s and will now get to attend EQ for a while. (I am not sure we have as good of a teacher however).

  7. Jordan F. says:

    Well, Nick, at least I didn’t say “so-called,” right? :)

  8. Jordan F. says:

    Thanks, Eric. I am also looking forward to growing my testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God this year as we study his teachings appropriate to our time nearly two hundred years later.

    Note that while I am not sure that the more detailed instruction regarding Joseph Smith’s background and his several re-tellings of the “first vision” account were necessary to teaching that lesson (most of the elders were apparently very familiar with these things already), I don’t feel they were out of place or inappropriate, and in this case it worked really well.

    My particular teaching style may have made offhand mention of them without focusing so much on them, but focus on the vision as described by Joseph Smith in the canonized account and the quorum members’ experiences with it. For example, I love to find out how people came to gain a testimony of that account.

  9. Nitsav says:

    Excellent stuff :)

  10. ed42 says:

    So, did Joseph Smith take a 14 year old girl as an addition wife or not?

  11. Jordan F. says:

    Sunday’s lesson was not about marriage. It was about the events leading up to Joseph Smith’s first vision, and then centered on the “first vision” after that. I guess we’ll see when that issue arises if the “LDS conspiracy” succeeds…

  12. kfitz says:

    As someone who attended that Elders Quorum lesson, I will admit that as the instructor held up his copy of Rough Stone Rolling, I thought both “this should be good” and “this could get ugly” at the same time. But I can confirm the complete absence of controversy, and that the disappointment of missing out on that sort of entertainment was replaced by a strong spirit throughout the meeting!

    Lest anyone think this is the only one of the 28,000 or so church units that has been liberated, I recall the time I spent as a member of the Manhattan 2nd Ward. One of the things I remember most (aside from the irony of sitting next to Richard Bushman in Sunday school while the instructor quoted him) is that any text, from any author, was fair game in gospel doctrine both as a reference for instruction and as a means of responding to questions posed. Despite the fact that each week the class was made up of about 50% visitors, there has been no Salt Lake outrage. According to my contacts, the Mormon Gestapo has yet to make an appearance.

  13. Jordan F. says:

    Oh that’s right, Bro. kfitz. I did forget to mention the presence of RSR as well…

  14. Anon says:

    Jordan F:

    I taught EQ this past Sunday and mostly used _A History of Joseph Smith, by his Mother_ , the Bookcraft edition, to flesh out the early family events, since subsequent lessons will address most of what the first lesson touches on. I still have my Temple Recommend.

    Nick,

    Pretty much every EQ I have been in has been organized into three subgroups that correlate EQ activities according to the three Missions of the Church: Preach the Gospel, Redeem the Dead, and Strengthening the Membership. While this is at the local level, it is one of the most obvious ways the main mission of the institutional LDS Church is organized, so how is it anything but obvious the Church would organize in this fashion? You are entirely too over-eager to find fault.

    ed42,

    No, Fanny Alger was not an “addition wife” since she failed math.

  15. john f. says:

    Jordan,

    I know you are joking around as I was with my Seer Stone Memo post and I am glad that you had such a substantively enriching EQ lesson. Unfortunately, we as a Church body need to improve a lot so that more wards can experience the kind of EQ lesson that you had. As we all know, there are far too many wards with completely shameful EQ lessons, where no one prepared a lesson so they either read from the manual or they watch a video.

    Also unfortunately, as you know, there are far too many members who don’t know about the earlier accounts of the First Vision. The Church must accept some of the responsibility for this situation since it does not refer to the fact that they exist in its correlated materials (of course this is not the same as claiming that the Church is lying). Because the 1838 account is canonized and attested to by Joseph Smith as a description of his Vision, it doesn’t really matter as a doctrinal matter that Joseph Smith emphasized different dimensions of his experience in earlier accounts of the First Vision. But it would be nice if people didn’t feel blind-sided when detractors of our religion try to convince them that the Church is wrong or bad by confronting them with this, among other aspects from the history of the Church and of the people instrumental in the early days of the Church. That could be improved, I think, by precisely such discussions as your EQ appears to have had, so that is very enviable.

    Of course, I agree with you entirely that the Strengthening the Members Committee is not a shadowy organization and that there is no effort to suppress truth in the Church or discipline people who have differing opinions about the meaning of historical facts or what seem to be historical facts surrounding the Restoration of the Gospel and the establishment of the Church. But it is also important to note that some people do feel like the Church’s teachings materials are lacking because certain things such as the earlier accounts of the First Vision aren’t mentioned in them, and that is a legitimate concern, I think.

    Also, some people have been disciplined by the Strengthening the Members Committee and I would guess that most of them do not feel they deserved discipline and therefore they feel that the Committee is a bad thing. I can’t argue with how they feel about their experiences.

    Of course, I know you understand all this and that this post conveys irony and is meant as a joke.

  16. mondo cool says:

    I commented over at the Equality site you linked. It was pretty apparent that any answer the Mormons give is obfuscation, evasion, and half-truths. All we have to do to avoid that charge is to say what they want us to say. Simple, no?

  17. Nick Literski says:

    Anon, did you misdirect your comment to me? I didn’t say anything about EQ committees, and having served in three EQ presidencies, I’m well aware of that structure. I certainly didn’t say anything at all to find fault with it. How could I, when I never mentioned it???

  18. Nick Literski says:

    john f.,
    Unless something has changed in the last two years, the Strengthening the Membership Committee has never disciplined anyone, and has no power to do so. At most, they have maintained files on certain members of the church, and provided bishops and stake presidents with published articles and other documents involving those members, with areas of particular concern highlighted. The local leaders have then chosen whatever action (or lack of action) they feel is appropriate.

  19. john f. says:

    Nick, point taken. I was just referring to Church discipline more generally.

  20. Clark says:

    Ditto to Nick. I’ve no idea what the StMC has been doing the past years but during the peak of the controversy it appeared to me to be nothing more than a ‘clipping service’ run presumably primarily by old retired people on service missions. I had a hard time seeing it as sinister since Stake PR representatives were called to do the same thing in most Stakes anyway. (My Mom had that calling back home in the 80’s and early 90’s and would collect news stories about the Church or important members and forward them up the chain)

    I never quite saw why some saw it as sinister or compared it to political officers back under the USSR. All these guys did was collect public information and keep a record. Pretty innocuous except that some people had public stuff that presumably was embarrassing to them on a doctrinal level.

    As I said, I’ve no idea what the group has done since 2000 since it seemed so boring and innocuous that I long ago stop caring.

  21. john f. says:

    Clark, I think that’s the point of Jordan’s irony in the original post.

    Jordan, I think you were a little too mean in the original post! They are certainly mean to us but it doesn’t help to make fun.

  22. Jordan F. says:

    Well, I wasn’t trying to be “mean” or make fun “too much.” I was just trying to tie a little humor in with a post on a good Elders’ Quorum lesson.

    I guess a sort of underlying theme here is that a lesson including mention of multiple versions of the “first vision” experience was noteworthy enough to blog about…

  23. Equality says:

    Jordan,

    Thanks for driving some traffic to my blog (including mondo cool-hi mondo!)

    It sounds like you have a great ward. Perhaps your Elders Quorum was inoculated by a past teacher who talked about the 1832 First Vision account in some detail.

    I’ve been thinking about crashing Elders Quorum the weeks the Joseph Smith book is covered. It could be fun, especially if the teacher is as good as you say.

  24. Equality says:

    John f.,

    When you say “they” are mean to you, to whom are you referring? The Weakening the Members Committee?

  25. DV says:

    Jordan,

    You are a nice guy so I’ll take it easy on you. The obfuscation Equality refers to is clearly demonstrated in the lesson materials. Two of the versions of vision are presented in the lesson manual itself. Two paragraphs of the 1832 version appear on page 28, and the remainder of the lesson is the 1838 official version. Curiously, the 1832 version is abbreviated in the lesson manual, omitting Joseph’s primary purpose of praying for a remission of sexual sin, and also his recounting of only seeing one personage. These are typical tactics to keep the believers in line. In fact, Willard Richards originally removed the reference to Joseph’s sexual sins way back in the 1840’s, so as not to embarrass the church. See how it works? Obfuscation, evasion, and half-truths are alive and well in the Church today. All one has to do is look at the evidence from an objective standpoint. Any objective person would clearly see that the omission of a portion of the 1832 version from the materials in Chapter 1, is a clear attempt at hiding the two most important differences in the two accounts. Most historians, including Richard Bushman, credit the 1832 account with being the more accurate account. I wonder why the Church wouldn’t put that entire account in the lesson manual? Hmmm. Could it possibly be that they are trying to hide something from the rank and file members?

  26. Lincoln says:

    That DV guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I am so sick and tired of these reprobates, cigar smokers, beer guzzlers, Harley riders & apostates coming here and obscuring the truth. Like President Hinckley said “Whether it was one personage or two, the important thing was he saw it.” Why don’t these people get it?

  27. Jordan F. says:

    LoL. Love the split personality there.

    Well, there’s the problem, DV. I am not an objective person. I have made a conscious decision to draw positive (towards the LDS Church and its leaders, past and present) inferences from historical events that could yield all sorts of theories. I have affirmatively declared as Joshua in the Old Testament that “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” And I believe that serving the Lord entails holding fast to the beliefs and ordinances of the LDS Church. I believe that based on a series of spiritual witnesses I have received since I was around 17 years old. We have discussed elsewhere the merits of such an epistomology, but that is the epistomology I have decided to apply regarding issues surrounding the LDS Church.

    That said, I don’t think that choosing which details of various things to emphasize in an LDS Church manual equate to “obfuscation, evasion, and half-truths.” Obfuscation would be to say that the other versions never even happened. As far as I know, the manual never makes such an outlandish claim. A lie would be to say that Joseph Smith was sinless as a young man- again something that the manual probably does not do.

    I have committed all kinds of sins in my life, but I generally do not characterize the nature of those sins to others, and I also have chosen not to write about the details of such things in my journal. Does that make me a liar? A teller of half-truths? Does honesty really require full disclosure of everything, always?

    I also agree with my brother that a better job could be done in teaching people about their own cultural history, but that it ought to be done in a way that helps students learn how they can draw faithful inferences from the glorious mess of history.

    At any rate, I suppose that we shall see in the weeks to come if the LDS Church holds to its conspiracy by “disciplining” the instructor who taught about Joseph Smith’s various vision versions. Somehow, I doubt that it will.

    Again I say, the conspiracy has failed! ;)

  28. Sophocles says:

    It doesn’t surprise me at all that a bunch of Elders would feel the Spirit while reading the official version of the first vision aloud, given that they probably recited it weekly if not daily on their missions. It’s perfectly Pavlovian.

  29. Sophocles says:

    Any good student of the vast SMC conspiracy knows that it’s not what you say, but how you say it. You can talk about JS’ polyandry or the MMM in Sunday School if you want, so long as you do it in a faith promoting way. Obviously, that’s hard to pull off when certain subjects are involved, so they are usually just avoided. But sometimes an intrepid (or naive) instructor will tackle them head-on.

  30. -Domokun- says:

    I never thought I’d see the day when John Fowles has a more reasonable comment and opinion than Jordan does on the same topic. I may have to go to lunch with John some time soon to give him the opportunity to dispel all of those horror stories that Jordan told me when we went to lunch in Dallas two months ago.

  31. -Domokun- says:

    To back-pedal a bit, you must realize that when I say “more reasonable” that it is only in a relative, comparative sense. I don’t want to lose all of my nasty apostate street cred by saying some unqualified nice thing about John.

  32. Jordan F. says:

    Sophocles, that it’s “perfectly pavlovian” is definitely a perfectly sound and logical conclusion, based almost one hundred years of research on conditional reflexes (and pleasantly alliterative to boot!). I completely understand where you are coming from here.

    But I respectfully disagree, because I think that conditional reflex is only one conclusion of several that could be drawn from the feelings experienced in that room on Sunday. I conclude that the feelings I experienced were influenced, at least in part, by the Holy Ghost, or the “Spirit” as some LDS members call him.

    Whatever people conclude was behind those feelings (I choose the “Spirit”), it was a very sweet experience.

  33. Jordan F. says:

    Come on Domo, what’s a little good-natured ribbing between friends who disagree? If it came across as bitter or angry, that is certainly not how it was meant.

  34. -Domokun- says:

    Jordan, don’t you know that I refuse to use emoticons? Just because there’s not a cutesy smiley in my comment doesn’t mean that I’m not being a little jovial. I’m kidding every bit as much as you claim to be.

  35. Jordan F. says:

    Equality:

    Of course you are always welcome in our Elders’ Quorum. Start coming every week, and it might become a habit, though! And you might even start feeling it again, if you know what I mean…

  36. Justin says:

    “Curiously, the 1832 version is abbreviated in the lesson manual, omitting Joseph’s primary purpose of praying for a remission of sexual sin….In fact, Willard Richards originally removed the reference to Joseph’s sexual sins way back in the 1840s, so as not to embarrass the church.”

    For the record, one can find the embarrassing reference to Joseph’s primary purpose of praying for a remission of sexual sin in the 1832 manuscript history here and the embarrassing reference to Joseph Smith’s sexual sins in the 1838 manuscript history here.

  37. Jordan F. says:

    Why is it “emabarrassing”?

  38. Randy B. says:

    Ummm . . . . what exactly are the “embarrasing” passages in question? Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t see anything to be embarrased about.

  39. Equality says:

    Jordan,

    Thanks for the invite to EQ. We’ll see.

    “At any rate, I suppose that we shall see in the weeks to come if the LDS Church holds to its conspiracy by “disciplining” the instructor who taught about Joseph Smith’s various vision versions. Somehow, I doubt that it will.”

    Jordan, I know you are just kind of kidding around here with the “conspiracy” stuff and employing the rhetorical device of hyperbole to make your point but I fear there may be some of your readers who do not also read my blog. Since you link to my blog post on the Fox News questionnaire in the OP, I just want to clarify that I do not subscribe to any “conspiracy” theories vis-a-vis the LDS church. I don’t think I have ever espoused any on my blog or anywhere else. And, for the record, I doubt your EQ instructor will be disciplined for bringing RSR to class or mentioning the 1832 account. I don’t think I have ever said anything that would lead someone to think that I believed he would be.

    I do think that the current culture in the mainstream LDS church is defined by conformity to a narrow set of behaviors; that this culture has been nurtured and shaped by the leaders of the church at the highest levels (through correlation, mainly); that the perpetuation of this culture is not in the best long-term interest of the church or a sizeable portion of the church membership today; and that it would be prudent for the church to adopt certain reforms. But I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories, and I don’t even doubt that the Brethren are well-intentioned and think they are doing the right thing most, if not all, of the time. I have fundamental disagreements with the Brethren about what the “right” things are in certain instances, but I generally don’t question their motives and intentions.

    We’ll have to do lunch again soon. I would have gone yesterday but as an Obama supporter did not want to sit around listening to a bunch of Willard Romney supporters. Ugh. Peace.

  40. Jordan F. says:

    You would not have been alone, Equality. There was at least one other Obama supporter- the one who started the whole firestorm and precipitated the lunch. It would have made for interesting conversation to have you there…

    I mostly just sat back and enjoyed the entertainment!

  41. Justin says:

    The embarrassing passages:

    “but after many days I fell into transgression and sinned in many things which brought a wound upon my soul and there were many things which transpired that cannot be writen” (1832).

    “I was left to all kinds of temptations, and mingling all kinds of society I frequently into many foolish errors and displayed the weakness of youth and the corruption of human nature which I am sorry to say led me into divers temptations to the gratification of many appetites offensive in the sight of God. In consequence of these things I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections” (1838).

  42. john f. says:

    Where does the inference of sexual sin come from?

  43. Equality says:

    john f.,

    Some historians I have read say that the terms “corruption of human nature” and “gratification of many appetites” were euphemisms widely understood at the time to refer to sexual sin. I don’t have a reference for it handy, though.

  44. Randy B. says:

    I might be wrong, but I think Quinn makes that conclusion in one of his books. But again, if this is the smoking gun the church is supposedly trying to hide, I’m underwhelmed.

  45. john f. says:

    Even if he had outright said sexual sin, I think the point of the experience is that he regretted his actions, had faith that he could be forgiven through the Atonement, and repented of them, ultimately obtaining a witness that he had been forgiven. It doesn’t seem controversial or even that embarassing.

  46. Equality says:

    I actually agree with you, john. For me it’s a non-issue (except to the extent that some in the church try to lionize Joseph Smith and he is elevated to some sort of demi-god status). I like a human “warts and all” Joseph Smith.

  47. john f. says:

    Yeah, there’s actually a lot of learning potential built in to that aspect of the story. Everyone makes mistakes and that’s what the Atonement is there for. I have too often witnessed people who expect Joseph Smith to be a perfect human being. To have been foreordained in the preexistence and placed in the right place at the right time does not mean that he wasn’t subject to the same temptations as the rest of humanity and made wrong choices like them as well. A strong contingent in the Church recognizes this and takes the “lionizing” of Joseph Smith, as you put it, in stride with a perspective that it is akin to (harmless) poetic or artistic license. Others seem to misunderstand and take away from such depictions the idea that Joseph Smith was a perfect human being, which is unfortunate and only results in disappointment for those who take this view.

  48. Clark says:

    Note that by “sexual sin” I think people are being more than a little obfuscating themselves. The phrase “sexual sin” to most Mormons means adultery or fornication. Most reading these early accounts suspect it is a reference to masturbation. Hardly a surprising thing for a kid just hitting puberty to be worried about.

    I’m not sure how it is obfuscating to leave out a discussion of a 14 year old boy’s worries about puberty during a discussion of the appearance of God the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith thereby ushering in the restoration of the gospel. It is rather irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    Of course those who think it ought be the topic clearly are themselves obfuscating in that by picking out mites they hope to distract people from the main topic.

  49. Clark says:

    Just to clarify the above – my point is just that talking about the first vision being prompted by worries about sexual sin is very misleading.

  50. Jordan F. says:

    Thanks for that clarification, Clark. Even if they are right about Joseph Smith’s worries regarding “sexual sin” being one of the motivating factors for him to get on his knees that day, I do not see why Justin or others would characterize that as “embarrassing.”

    I also fail to see how including in the “official” “first vision” recounting the passages that might give rise to that inference is somehow obfuscatory or deceitful. I believe the emphasis is where it should be for the purpose of that particular telling, on Joseph Smith’s desire to know which religion he should join himself with.

  51. john f. says:

    I don’t think Justin was referring to them as embarrassing but was just using the word as had been used by others in describing the material.

  52. Clark says:

    I should note that the claim it was worries about masturbation are based upon some similar language. Not knowing the language of the early 19th century on such matters it’s really hard for me to evaluate the claims. Personally it seems plausible given the age of Joseph Smith and the typical worries of newly pubescent boys in a religious environment. However it does appear at best circumstantial and hardly hard evidence (IMO)

    In any case it clearly wasn’t the only issue going on. Joseph, even in the main official text, clearly says it wasn’t serious. Further even the first version mentions the religious conflicts he was worried about. (Which, theologically, is the most significant for Mormon study)

  53. Shark24 says:

    Equality: I like a human “warts and all” Joseph Smith

    Nowadays that can all be cleared up in a couple of days with a topical cream.

  54. Equality says:

    I don’t think leaving out a discussion of whether Joseph Smith had engaged in sexual sin (whether it be masturbation or fornication or simply “impure thoughts”) in a lesson on the First Vision is obfuscatory. I think there are plenty of other example of obfuscation and evasion on the part of the church in a variety of venues to criticize. It’s a non-issue for me. Whatever sexual sin he might have committed as a teen would pale by comparison to his later sexual adventures. And even these are way down on my list of things that make me question whether Joseph Smith had God’s imprimatur on his teachings and practices.

  55. Jordan F. says:

    Equality- it seems to me that you are already done “questioning whether Joseph Smith had God’s imprimatur on his teachings” etc., and have already drawn your conclusions to the contrary. But that is beside the point. Thanks for your comments. Hope to see you in Elder’s Quorum some time.

  56. Justin says:

    I agree with John’s message dated January 18, 2008 at 12:19. Yes, Quinn claims that J.S. admitted his struggle with sexual sin in the 1838 history (Early Mormonism and the Magic World View). It’s a bit of an interpretive leap, in my opinion. My opinion is the same regarding seeing a reference to sexual sin in the 1832 history.

  57. Tyson says:

    I just had to say something about the conspiracy……every since returning from a mission I have had this aversion to wearing white shirts and most especially ties. I have been told by well meaning members that I must wear a white shirt, tie and suit to church if I am going to be able to serve in any capacity. Well in the past 10 years since my return I have served in just about every area a man can serve in a ward and I have only in the past 6 months started wearing a white shirt again.

    I guess my dissention did not make it back to Salt Lake….I should have held out longer to see if the suits would show up at my place and redo the brainwashing. I read all sorts of different accounts that people write and see presented material as if the author was an authority on the subject but the solid fact remains that all the written word is only someone’s biased conclusion. If one does not seek divine direction how can they ever know what is true or false.

    The most humorous blog I read about the many consipracies of the church is in relation to how we were thwarted in getting a mormon into the white house. Funny that we would only send one guy and think we could win….if this really was a conspiracy wouldn’t we have sent in someone who did not openly talk about their mormon background and we really should have sent at least 100 guys or girls just to ensure that one made in there. I am sure the campaign financing will show the church donated too much money to Romney’s bid!

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