Joseph Smith’s Influence on Mormon Culture

By: hawkgrrrl
December 27, 2011

I recently read an excellent OP on By Common Consent by Brad titled Notes Toward a New Vision of the Prophet.  I’ve always had some contradictory thoughts about JS, and I’m not sure this changes them.

JS does seem to be a megalomaniac and opportunist to me, someone who became increasingly blind to the consequences of his actions, although it seems that those traits developed over time; the OP points out the contradictory aspects of JS as part of a progressive story arc; he starts out humble, then gains power & success within the narrow vein of the church he founds, and he essentially redefines what success entails within that framework.

I have often wondered about Joseph’s young death.  Was it because he was off the rails (God whacked him before it could get worse) or did he “graduate” from mortality as Brad suggests (only the good die young) having accomplished all he needed to, or if it was just the consequences of his own human failings?  Clearly #3 was the case (IMO) given the manner of his death, but the question is whether that was also related to #1 or #2, both of which require belief in divine intervention regarding the role of prophet, a notion I’m not 100% sold on since God doesn’t seem to whack the same ones I would at the same times I would (just sayin’).  I have always leaned toward explanation #1 – that God whacked him because he was out of control, gobbling up power, taking wives right and left.  But the OP seems to be offering up #2 (perhaps in combination with #3).

The OP makes 4 main points about Joseph Smith, and my reaction was that this also describes Mormon culture and mindset:

  1. Social Power.  Within the church, we tend to associate social power with worthiness; we revere leaders, and to an extent, leaders come to revere themselves.  As our own scriptures state, leadership goes to people’s heads.  Furthermore, since the beginning of the church, people have wanted to know that their sacrifices were enough.  There was a huge focus on making your calling & election sure, including the performance of second anointings by invitation. This is a manifestation of the desire for social power.  Members are impatient to know our standing, both with church leaders and with God.  We want to cross the finish line in this life.  We don’t want to wait for the judgment day. The commitments we are making are tough, and we want validation!
  2. Prophecy. Brad’s OP points out the familiar story arc of Joseph Smith graduating from the use of props in using his prophetic gift, but he then builds on this with the idea that JS himself eventually became the “source” of revelation, not just its conduit.  This suggestion is a little further out there, yet it merits consideration. Is that not similar to leaders in GC expressing opinions that then become binding. When is the mouthpiece speaking vs. God?  This is a question all thoughtful Mormons must consider, which is why we are encouraged to seek our own revelation in response to instruction from leaders.
  3. Salvation. The OP pointed out that Joseph shifted from a Protestant-tinged salvation (which is frankly the salvation described in the Book of Mormon) to a much more unique and innovative version that is both communal (sealings together, consecration) and yet ultimately individualistic (eternal progression, godhood as exaltation). Even here, though, we see Joseph’s megalomania; it’s not just communal sealing, but being sealed specifically to Joseph that saved, and then other leaders who were considered to have “believing blood” were considered worthy of dynastic legacies through polygamy.
  4. Apotheosis. This encompasses our big break away from Protestant understandings of God toward a God that has a body (as you can see in the shifting accounts of the First Vision). It could be said that this concept of God shifted as the nature of God became better understood and revealed to Joseph Smith (I for one prefer our Human Mormon God to the Protestant gooshy 3-in-1 version that is so contradictory and airy fairy). I accept this progressive arc as part of a growing clarity on JS’s part.

I thought the OP was very fresh. I didn’t fully agree, and I doubtless didn’t fully comprehend, but in my not comprehending, I still gained insight. 

Which of these Mormon concepts do you think is the most impressive?  Do we downplay our unique culture too much?  What do you think of these “arcs” as relates to Mormon culture?  Consider:

  • Are Mormons obsessed with our social status within the church and in the eyes of God to validate our sacrifices?
  • Do we consider prophets both the source and conduit of revelation (whether by my voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same)?
  • Do we still get tripped up in our Protestant roots (overcoming man’s fallen nature) vs. focusing on the exaltation that comes with progression from human to divine?
  • Does our belief in God as a literal father with a body like ours significantly differentiate us from other faiths?

Discuss.

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183 Responses to Joseph Smith’s Influence on Mormon Culture

  1. Howard on December 27, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    Joseph was the equivalent of an enlightened shaman D&C 85:6 Yea, thus saith the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things, and often times it maketh my bones to quake while it maketh manifest, This is a description of a kundalini experience and his visions were shamanic. GC leaders do not exhibit or refer to these kinds of personal experiences.

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  2. Paul on December 27, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    Interesting, Hawk. I’ve noted this sense in earlier comments &posts of yours. There is still for me considerable mystery around Joseph. I was much closer to your view in my 20′s and early 30′s, but am now much more accepting of his prophetic role.

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  3. dpc on December 27, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    Hawk:

    “or if it was just the consequences of his own human failings? Clearly #3 was the case (IMO) given the manner of his death”

    Ouch. That’s a bit harsh. Just because someone is unpopular doesn’t mean that they are courting death by angry mob.

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  4. GBSmith on December 27, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    I think megalomania sums it up pretty well. Those last years in Nauvoo distort and change everything else he did. I’m glad the church is the way it is today. It’s lead by good decent people at all levels just trying to do their best for everyone. I know there are exceptions but nothing like we saw with JS.

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  5. Stephen M (Ethesis) on December 27, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    I think the issue is confounded by the narratives we read into the story and the history. I think it is much too easy to be unfair to Joseph Smith by projecting into him stories of our own.

    Discovering a different narrative is not necessarily uncovering the truth.

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  6. Glenn Thigpen on December 27, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Are you people really LDS?

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  7. prometheus on December 27, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    Are Mormons obsessed with our social status within the church and in the eyes of God to validate our sacrifices?

    Yes, I think so. There is much emphasis on earrings, shirts, tithing, attendance, “modest” dress, probably in part because those things are easy to see, and can be used as indicators of social status. There is also, unfortunately, a strong Calvinistic streak in many members I have spoken too (less valiant folklore and all that).

    Do we consider prophets both the source and conduit of revelation (whether by my voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same)?

    Not so sure on this one – it hasn’t come up in conversation. The best I can say is that for me, conduit serves better than source.

    Do we still get tripped up in our Protestant roots (overcoming man’s fallen nature) vs. focusing on the exaltation that comes with progression from human to divine?

    Not so sure on this one. There isn’t a lot of crying unto repentance these days. It is more all is well these days. ;) Honestly, though, the rhetoric seems to have moved to a more develop the positive than prune the negative in recent years on most subjects.

    Does our belief in God as a literal father with a body like ours significantly differentiate us from other faiths?

    Yes, absolutely. Placing God in space and time is a massive theological difference. Collapsing the distance between God and man is really a revolutionary idea, that naturally leads to a far more radical theosis than had ever been preached before.

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  8. jmb275 on December 27, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    Re Hawk-
    I think the arcs are nice ways of seeing it. Though I note it’s nothing new (even if his article has original ideas). I know I’ve written before about my idea that Joseph started out innocently enough but eventually became a philosopher king a la Plato. Personally, I think that is the best description I’ve seen, and ties in nicely to the megalomania you’re mentioning. It also ties in nicely to the idea that Joseph became the source of revelation (which I think is true).

    As to whether or not God whacked him I have no idea. Not even gonna speculate. As a teenager I believed it was the injustice of our country and work of Satan conspiring in the hearts of evil men that killed Joseph. I expect the narrative most Mormons accept is something like that infused with the idea of having completed his mission on earth. And certainly there is some truth to that (at least in the injustice of society at the time).

    Joseph is an enigma no matter how you slice it. I’m okay with that. Important for me was the realization (after reading a biography of Mohammed) that he wasn’t much different than Mohammed in many ways (Dan Peterson’s views to the contrary). To answer the questions:

    1. Are Mormons obsessed with our social status within the church and in the eyes of God to validate our sacrifices?

    Perhaps in the past. Not so much anymore. We’ve done a lot of work convincing ourselves that the Pres. of the church is the same as the nursery leader. I like it better this way anyway.

    2. Do we consider prophets both the source and conduit of revelation (whether by my voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same)?

    Yes, I definitely think we grant prophets way way too much status (which I think Glenn Thigpen points out in his comment). Seriously, why on earth can’t we frankly discuss JS in this way and still be considered LDS? If I recall, Lorenzo Snow largely despised JS.

    3. Do we still get tripped up in our Protestant roots (overcoming man’s fallen nature) vs. focusing on the exaltation that comes with progression from human to divine?

    Actually, I think we have some very nice paradoxical doctrines in this vein. I wish we focused a little more on progression, but hey, we do a pretty decent job.

    Does our belief in God as a literal father with a body like ours significantly differentiate us from other faiths?

    Well it seems to. I think it’s silly to be honest. Seriously, who the hell knows? I think the anthropomorphic God is a nice touch though. Reinforces this idea that we are progressing to be like Him because he was once like us. Whether that’s LDS doctrine or not I like it as a concept.

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  9. brjones on December 27, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    #3 – This is a joke, right?

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  10. dpc on December 27, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    @brjones

    Regardless of how you feel about Joseph Smith, I don’t think his personal failings were an ineluctable path to his death. Saying “Joseph died young because of his failings” is nothing more than blaming the victim. Plus it says nothing about which ‘failings’ are relevant. And “pissing off the wrong people” doesn’t seem like a valid ‘failing’ to which a young death would be an appropriate link (unless the wrong people are gangsters or something.)

    Joseph Smith died young because an angry mob shot and killed him. Blame megalomania if you like. I blame the murderous hearts of the mob. Ain’t no more meanin’ to it than that.

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  11. hawkgrrrl on December 27, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    Regarding the consequences of his own actions, destroying the press may not have been technically illegal, but it was inflammatory. Saying that he was murdered as a consequence of his actions isn’t the same as saying it was justified. It’s undeniable that his actions provoked his enemies repeatedly in an escalating manner.

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  12. Cowboy on December 27, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    All the effort to try and understand Joseph Smith, I think, revolves around our struggle to deal with the conflict of uncertainty. Joseph Smith as a person, is only of interest as it pertains to satisfying the question of whether he was a Prophet. Arguing about the ethics of Nauvoo era polygamy, with it’s secrecy and coercive use, is meaningless if God really commanded it. If Joseph literally just followed God’s orders to the “T”, then who are we to challenge or defend his character?

    This is just the issue. Nauvoo polygamy matters because it is a list of data-points that we use to try and justify our position in accepting his claims or rejecting them. Not that it logically follows, but we subjectively try to find what alignments exist between Joseph Smith’s documented behavior, and what we think is God’s nature. God is pure, and so we refuse to believe that he would command impure actions. So, we either have to find a way to render Joseph’s actions “pure” (subjectively albeit), or disqualify the action in isolation (Brad’s “footnotes in the history”) or disqualify the man.

    True to form, Brad arguing from a faithful only perspective, attempts to dismantle the analysis by creating a “new” way for interpreting Joseph Smith that presupposes him a Prophet?? No, A GOD!! He fails to explain how this new interpretations actually improves our analysis of Joseph’s behavior, only by providing those who have already decided on a “divine” view, with a new way to manage the difficult issues. In reading his post, I didn’t see how he articulates how this works, and by reading Brad’s comments gather that he somehow wants to transform the “warts” into a necessary component of Joseph’s development. This is not a new way to interpret the history. Some, like Bushman, have argued that the Treasure seeking somehow prepared Joseph to be open to the notion of revelation, though Bushman never tries to advance that scrying with seer stones actually works. Brad however insists on Theosis, this idea that Joseph Smith was becoming a God step by step, which makes me wonder whether he actually see’s something of the divine in treasure seeking? Regardless, because he makes no effort to show that Joseph was divine, but rather simply encourages the readers of history to bias their perspectives with that assumption beforehand, I don’t see how his solution really works. The implication from my understanding is then to chalk it all up to
    God is a mystery, God is good.
    Joseph Smith was a God,
    therefore
    Joseph Smith is a mystery, Joseph Smith is good.

    While I would agree that the way history is perceived is often polemical, particularly regarding Joseph Smith the thrust is the different group’s attempts to flesh out the uncertainty of a largely unverifiable claim. While Brad’s new approach may be a helpful way for believers to choke down the uncomfortable details of Joseph Smith’s life, it offers very little to improve the analytical methods of those trying to answer the question – Was Joseph Smith a Prophet. Furthermore, it offers very little to help in the ongoing debate between both sides, but instead further isolates each group from each other by removing the conversation from any place of rational common ground.

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  13. brjones on December 27, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    I guess my question would be, is blaming the victim wrong in every instance? Just because JS was murdered by vigilantes means we aren’t allowed to analyze the behaviors that led to his death and even consider whether there was some justification for the emotions that fueled his demise? It seems a little naive to chalk up his death to “the murderous hearts of those dastardly mobsters.” That sounds like something straight out of a primary manual, which is your first clue it’s seriously lacking in objectivity.

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  14. brjones on December 27, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    #12 – Cowboy, it’s great to see you, as always. In this instance, I’m going to disagree with you on one point. I don’t find the “I was just following orders” defense any more palatable from someone who took his marching orders from god than I did from those at Nuremburg. I realize I’ll be in the vast minority on this, but I believe human beings have the capacity to determine for themselves what behaviors are right and wrong, and a behavior that is wrong, or immoral, is such whether its commission originates with a human being or deity. If god commands an immoral act, god is immoral, and the person who commits it in his name should not be given a pass for its commission.

    I don’t really have any desire to start a debate on the point, because, as I said, I don’t think there are many who would agree with me. However, this position makes it much easier to assess and judge the behavior of those seeking one’s allegiance and obedience, including those claiming to speak for god.

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  15. Howard on December 27, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    A shamanic initiation is a very strange thing but they seem to exist in most cultures. Within a shamanic initiation treasure hunting might be used to teach obedience and to practice following commands even in the face of increasing failure and public ridicule. Seer stones and scrying are common tools of the trade think of them as the equivalent of a focal point for meditation. The changing description of the first vision also fits because visions and revelations are received as concept dense thought the receiver is left to interpret them by wrapping words around these concepts but the words are often inadequate so more becomes understood with the passing of time.

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  16. Cowboy on December 27, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    brjones:

    Likewise, good to see that you are still in the business. I actually do agree with you on a moral basis. If we determined that God was decidedly immoral and cruel, then the practical question is “what can we do about it”. If the answer is “nothing” then, I don’t think it matters. If the answer is “something”, then what that something is would determine the best course of action. Too many hypotheticals come to mind when I envision a world of this kind.

    In my comment I was only entertaining a thought excercise, whereas I would never accept this defense in the world without some major evidence.

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  17. Syphax on December 27, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    I agree with you about the megalomania. Though I would disagree that the Christian version of the Trinity is airy fairy and 3-in-1. I used to feel that way, but after a lot of study I realized that while our version of the Godhead makes more “sense” in a concrete way it also causes a host of philosophical problems to crop up in other ways. As a result I’m not sure one is more problematic than the other. That having been said, a lot of what Joseph did was to turn airy Christian concepts into very concrete forms (despite the resulting other problems).

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  18. Syphax on December 27, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    I worded that wrong. It is airy fairy and 3-in-one, but my point was that it is not necessarily more or less philosophically defensible IMO.

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  19. dpcoates on December 27, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    @brjones

    You mean in the same way that a rape victim wouldn’t have been attacked if she had dressed differently or hadn’t been such a shameless flirt? Or lynch victims shouldn’t have been looking at a white woman that way? Murder is never justified in our society. And none of these mobsters were in the heat of passion or had any pretense to justification. Almost a full week had passed between the destruction of the press and Joseph’s murder. This was a cold and calculated move to deprive another person of their life. You have to pass a pretty high threshold to even start to say that Joseph’s actions were of a nature that he was flirting with death and he got what came to those with such personal failings.

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  20. Will on December 27, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    Regarding Joseph Smith’s death, he was murdered. A judge and jury, who had a negative opinion of Joseph Smith and the Mormons, found the following men guilty of Murder: William Grover, William Voras, John Wills, Mark Aldrich, Jacob Davis, Thomas Sharp, Levi Williams, Allen & Gallaher. All of these men, clergy by the way, were found guilty by a jury of their peers. It is interesting to note they were all celebrated as heros. With all this considered, the attack was more out of fear and hatred; than revenge or annoyance. It is clear to say, Joseph and Hyrum were murdered in cold blood.

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  21. Cowboy on December 27, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    I don’t think there is any problem in accepting that Joseph Smith and Hyrum were murdered, or that their murders were ultimately unjustified. I think the problem is that many try and argue that they were simply murdered BECAUSE of the message of the restored gospel. The political and scandalous climate that Joseph Smith helped create led to conditions of social tension. Not that he deserved execution by mob, but that he did deserve some type of non-capital punishment.

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  22. brjones on December 27, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    @dpc

    As a lawyer, you should know better, and I suspect you probably do. Looking at the issue in a broader sense, the taking of human life is absolutely justified in our society, in numerous contexts, while forcible sexual assault never is. So please, spare us the inapplicable, inflammatory analogies.

    I’m not saying JS’s killing was justified, or that it wasn’t murder. I’m saying that he knowingly did many things that invited and provoked the hatred of the people who eventually took his life. Some of those things were things that would get a person killed today. Whether he “deserved” what he got or not, I don’t think there’s a problem analyzing his behavior in order to determine what possible responsibility he may have had in the events that transpired. At the very least, I’m confident in saying that characterizing the reason he was killed as “because he was unpopular” is at best spectacularly ignorant and at worst intellectually dishonest.

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  23. Hawkgrrrl on December 27, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    Let’s see. You live on the edge of civilization, surrounded by vigilantes who believe you want to sieze power and curttail their freedoms. Your appeals to the law have fallen on mostly deaf ears. You then act exactly like what they most fear, weilding unquestioned power in the largest city on your state and destroying a printing press that has criticized your (scandalous polygamous) actions. I dont think it’s victim blaming to admit those were inflammatory actions by JS. And we still react badly to unsavory truths as a church. The more conservative and authoritarian a culture is, the more it demands total message control (to the point of propaganda in some cultures).

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  24. Bradley on December 27, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    God had Joseph “Whacked”? You make God the Father sound like The Godfather. “I understand. You found paradise in Carthage. You had a good harem and a nice church, and you didn’t need a friend like me”. I suppose when the mob left they took their cannolis with them.

    It could have easily been a political assassination, with the antagonist using hired guns to stir up a mob and do the job in the ensuing chaos.

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  25. dpc on December 28, 2011 at 1:03 AM

    @brjones

    There were plenty of other strange sects in the 19th century that flouted then-current morals. Why did few of their leaders meet violent deaths at the hands of vigilantes? What was it about Joseph Smith’s polygamy that drove people to murder and not do the same to the communal free-love societies that existed at the same time? And exactly which of his actions would cause people to kill him, even today? Are you seriously trying to argue that religious bigotry played no part in Joseph Smith’s death? And after Joseph’s death, why were the Saints forced out of Nauvoo, if not because of bigotry? I think the idea that cutting off the head of the snake to kill the beast makes more sense than saying that Joseph Smith was an oafish megalomaniac who went too far and stepped on the wrong toes. Based on your logic, Jesus wouldn’t have died if he just hadn’t upset the ruling classes’ economic and religious interests by driving the money-changers from the temple, an act that was certainly illegal.

    @Hawk – Let me get this straight. Joseph Smith was a megalomaniac and an opportunist who was blind to the impact of his actions on others and these were the primary factors that led to his early death? How is that not blaming the victim? The mob members were not automans who were set to kill if you pressed the wrong button. There was lots of vigilante justice on the frontier. Are we to assume that the primary cause was the moral failings of its victims?

    And as for his supposed opportunism, what about Joseph Smith’s surrender to the Illinois authorities? If he was so self-focused and out-of-touch with his impact on others, why didn’t he flee to the West when he had the chance?

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  26. Will on December 28, 2011 at 7:28 AM

    All Joseph would have had to do to stop the persecutions is to deny his visitations and his claims for a restoration. Clearly these claims created a stir and angered members of other faiths. Especially the ministers who depended on donations from their members and were worried about sheep stealing.

    This is why Joseph is a Martyr, he did not back down from his claims in spite of the persecution or by the fact he knew he was going to die.

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  27. GBSmith on December 28, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    “All Joseph would have had to do to stop the persecutions is to deny his visitations and his claims for a restoration.”

    I think it has more to do with power, mainly political, and less to do with professed religious belief. He could have kept preaching the restoration and revoked the Nauvoo charter and disbanded the Nauvoo Legion and likely gotten by for awhile.

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  28. Cowboy on December 28, 2011 at 8:42 AM

    Will:

    Huh?????

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  29. dpc on December 28, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    @gbsmith

    A lot of religious bigotry is couched in political and economic terms. Why would they fear JS’s growing political and economic power if not for his religious ideas? I’m sure a lot of towns on the frontier that had citizens who because of their wealth ruled the town by fiat and who never subsequently died at the hands of an angry mob.

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  30. Glenn Thigpen on December 28, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    “I think it has more to do with power, mainly political, and less to do with professed religious belief. He could have kept preaching the restoration and revoked the Nauvoo charter and disbanded the Nauvoo Legion and likely gotten by for awhile.”

    By that time it did not matter. Even before the Expositor incident, many from Missouri, there were people determined to see Joseph dead, even though he was no longer a threat to Missourians politically.
    I do not discount the influence of Satan in that mix.

    I do discount the efforts of some to brand Joseph as a megalomaniac.

    Glenn

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  31. GBSmith on December 28, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    RE: dpc

    I think it comes down to how much of a threat, political or otherwise, your neighbors see you as being. If you’re seen as capable of depriving others of their rights (Nauvoo Expositor) and livelihood (supporting LDS business and opposing gentile, you’re a threat. It’s the tension between assimilation vs staying apart that’s marked the church’s history.

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  32. GBSmith on December 28, 2011 at 9:54 AM

    “I do discount the efforts of some to brand Joseph as a megalomaniac.

    Glenn”

    You wouldn’t happen to be on the Strengthening the Members committee would you?

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  33. Cowboy on December 28, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    Will (#20):

    It’s hard to argue that the trial against the five defendants wasn’t a sham. I’m no attorney, but I would agree that while the evidence may be somewhat circumstantial that the five men accused were largely responsible, these men were most likely guilty. I am again no expert on this subject, but I have found that there seems to be more “mystery” surrounding this event than there ought to be. Everything I have read seems to compell the idea that the principle antagonist in the execution was Thomas C. Sharp, sometime owner of the Warsaw Signal. He was a prominent political figure, and retired attorney. He is also among the five members originally tried in the death’s of Joseph and Hyrum. I have found no information however that he had any involvement in religious clergy. Where have you come about this information? According to Wikipedia he was the son of a Methodist preacher, but frankly, who wasn’t back in those days. Even today if go to Illinois everybody is either the son/daughter/niece/nephew/etc. of some kind of minister. There seems to be no indication by my research to indicate that Sharp personaly had any strong ties to a Church. He probably attended, but his interests seemed to be clearly more political than religious. Even outside of his life in context with Mormonism.

    http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/carthage/defendantsbios.html

    The above link contains a brief biography of each of the five defendants tried in Joseph and Hyrums murders. It appears that they were all either land developers, political figures, or legal figures. I find it hard to believe that religious theology was the catalyst for these mens hatred. I would think that what ever objection they held to the religious implications of Mormonism were tied to how Mormon theology overlapped into political power. In other words, they objected to Joseph Smiths increasing and unrestrained political power, albeit that he attained this power on religious grounds.

    As I have said, I am no expert on this subject, so I welcome any information you have that provides greater insight into the motivation of these men.

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  34. Paul on December 28, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    Will (and others), I agree that Joseph’s early persecution (eg, in Palmyra) was likely driven by his religious claims. But clearly as early as Kirtland — and certainly in Missouri — there was more than just religious intolerance going on. Even the LDS institute manual makes clear there were contributing political factors in Nauvoo.

    That said, I don’t know that we necessarily expect the prophet to be politically expedient all the time.

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  35. Nick Literski on December 28, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    #20:
    A judge and jury, who had a negative opinion of Joseph Smith and the Mormons, found the following men guilty of Murder: William Grover, William Voras, John Wills, Mark Aldrich, Jacob Davis, Thomas Sharp, Levi Williams, Allen & Gallaher.

    That is a false statement, Will. All of these men were acquitted on the charge of murder.

    All of these men, clergy by the way,

    That is a false statement, Will.

    were found guilty by a jury of their peers.

    Again, that is a false statement, Will. Whatever happened to “thou shalt not bear false witness?” Why are you resorting to outright falsehoods in order to support your faith?

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  36. Nick Literski on December 28, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    #21:
    The political and scandalous climate that Joseph Smith helped create led to conditions of social tension. Not that he deserved execution by mob, but that he did deserve some type of non-capital punishment.

    Correct. Most are unaware, of course, that before the fateful incarceration at Carthage, Joseph Smith was already awaiting trial on a charge of adultery. While the sexual conduct in question was with one of his plural wives, that wasn’t going to be a valid defense under Illinois law, given that his plural marriages would not be recognized in a state that already forbade bigamy. Joseph would have almost certainly been convicted and incarcerated on the adultery charge, had he survived to stand trial.

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  37. Stephen M (Ethesis) on December 28, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/carthage/defendantsbios.html sets out that they were all acquitted.

    Much of this looks like typical third world politics, which fits the American West rather well.

    Much of the stress was political, as Nick noted, people disliked the thought of Mormons voting at all, especially on the slave issue, but more generally as well.

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  38. Nick Literski on December 28, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    True enough, Stephen. Frankly, one of the “tipping points” against the Mormons in Hancock County was the election of Joseph’s close confidant, James Adams, as probate judge. Adams didn’t live in Hancock County, and in fact was serving as a judge in Springfield (100 miles away). The fact that the Mormons were gaining enough electoral clout to put a “complete outsider” into office was infuriating (and let’s face it, probably terrifying) to long-established locals. It didn’t help that Adams had a questionable past. In an election a few years earlier, none other than Abraham Lincoln publicly exposed the “dirt” on Adams, advising the Springfield newspapers that Adams had come to town only after fleeing from New York, where he had been indicted for fraud during his service as a county recorder (and yes, the records in that New York county back up Lincoln’s accusations).

    On an interesting note, Adams never took office. He took a short trip to Nauvoo in order to purchase a home preparatory to his move, and suddenly became fatally ill. The official report was cholera. Keep in mind, however, that the symptoms of acute arsenic poisoning closely resembled those of cholera, and it’s not as if they had the sort of medical testing necessary to determine the presence of poison in his system. Given the political agitation surrounding Adams’ election, and the peculiar timing of his death, I personally think it’s highly likely that he was poisoned either en route or in Nauvoo itself. Joseph Smith may have alluded to such a possibility during Adams’ funeral speech, when he said that “such a man ought not to have had any enemies.”

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  39. Glenn Thigpen on December 28, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    “I do discount the efforts of some to brand Joseph as a megalomaniac.

    Glenn”

    “You wouldn’t happen to be on the Strengthening the Members committee would you?”

    No. Right now I/m sort of in limbo. Not even assigned as a home teacher. But the last committee I served on was “Perfecting the Saints”. I sort of fell short there, it seems.

    As to the topic, I do not think the evidence supports a finding of megalomania. However, I am not qualified to make a finding either way.

    Nick, as to the charge of adultery, do you have a link? I understand that he was accused by some of adultery, but I did not know that he actually had had charges leveled against him.

    Even on that charge, I do not know that he would have been found guilty unless one of his plural wives would have turned on him.

    Glenn

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  40. Nick Literski on December 28, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    No, Glenn, I don’t have a “link.” I personally examined the court records in the Hancock County Courthouse in Carthage, Illinois, in 2005. That said, a cursory Google search will provide you with at least some information, though most LDS sources wave it off as apostate persecution. The matter arose just weeks before Joseph’s death, and while he moved for an immediate trial, the prosecutors successfully postponed the matter until the next session of court (i.e., in a few months). In all likelihood, this was at least in part a matter of needing to gain the cooperation of witnesses.

    I find it curious that you’re more concerned about whether they could get witnesses to testify against Joseph, than you are with whether he actually engaged in conduct which violated the criminal statutes to which he was accountable.

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  41. Bob on December 28, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    #39:Glenn,
    How do you define a megalomaniac?
    JS declared himself: Prophet, King, Mayor, General, Only Correct Thinker, and wanted to run for U.S. President, and the first person God would speak to in thousands of years.

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  42. Cowboy on December 28, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    I was unaware of the particular adultrey charge hanging over his head, but I’m completely unconcerned over it. Does anybody doubt that Joseph Smith was having sex with at least some of his other wives? It would seem that the documented history would suggest that he did, though you could argue that it was hearsay I suppose. Still, the point being that even though there was a law against it bigamy, this is not the kind of thing that particularly bothers me about Joseph Smith’s conduct from a legal/political standpoint. I do have issues with it from the standpoint of personal integrity, as his wives were generally religiously manipulated into bed.

    I think the destruction of the Expositor can not be defended on any kind of political grounds. I am no attorney, but Joseph Smith was a Presidential candidate, and a local political figure and militia leader. As far as we know, the Expositor published true objections to Joseph Smith’s behavior, and that the portion of society that stood to lose the most from the so-called “nuissance” was Joseph and his appointed leaders. He had no right to destroy the press, but did so to protect his secret society. That was the greater crime, and he did deserve to be punished severely for it. Just not the death sentence…unless of course it could be proved that he did order the assassination attempt on Boggs, in which case I think a death sentence passed by the courts would have been entirely appropriate.

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  43. Will on December 28, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    Cowboy/Nick:

    I was wrong about the conviction; nine were charged, but never convicted. I heard the story second hand from what I thought was a reliable source.

    Thanks for the correction.

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  44. Will on December 28, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    It doesn’t change the fact that he was still murdered.

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  45. Glenn Thigpen on December 28, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    Nick, on #40,
    I had already engaged in a Google search on the matter. I read variously that William Law had brought suit against Joseph for adultery, but was curious what standing that he would have had to initiate such a suit.
    I also had read that he was “indicted”, but seemingly more in the court of public opinion than in a legal setting. You are the first person I know of who has actually done the research and can state that he was actually indicted in a court of law.

    As to the adultery statement, I was merely responding to this statement of yours from #36 “Joseph would have almost certainly been convicted and incarcerated on the adultery charge, had he survived to stand trial.”

    For Joseph to have been found guilty, someone would have had to provide some type of proof that Joseph Smith had engaged in sexual relations with someone other than his one legally wedded wife in order for him to have been found guilty. That would have been difficult to establish unless the prosecution would have been able to produce a witness to such a transaction, either through a peephole, or if the prosecution were able to get one of his plural wives to declare that Joseph had engaged in sexual relations with her.
    That statement is neutral. It neither advocates Joseph being found guilty or innocent, but rather advocates the tenet that a person is innocent until being proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

    In your searches did you find evidence of such a witness?

    Thanks,
    Glenn

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  46. Nick Literski on December 28, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    #44:
    It doesn’t change the fact that he was still murdered.

    I completely agree that Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered, Will. I just needed to keep you honest on your “convincted” and “clergy” claims.

    #45:
    I read variously that William Law had brought suit against Joseph for adultery, but was curious what standing that he would have had to initiate such a suit.

    Glenn, recall that this was during a time when a man’s wife was legally considered his property. While there are conflicting stories, it seems evident that there was an encounter between Joseph Smith and Jane Law, William Law’s wife. She claimed that Joseph proposed sex and/or marriage. Hyrum Smith claimed that Jane was aware that William was being denied the temple ordinances (for alleged earlier adultery) at the time, and she was trying to get Joseph to take her as a wife in order to assure her salvation in spite of her husband. According to Hyrum, William Law learned of this and blamed Joseph entirely.

    Regardless of the genuine course of events, Jane and William reconciled, and she was solidly on William’s side (which suggests that she would have readily testified against Joseph Smith). Personally, I’m not inclined to take either Joseph OR Jane’s versions completely at face value. Who knows what really happened there, even if we set aside the possibility that there was a serious communication gap between Joseph and Jane that caused the whole mess?

    That said, the court allegations were about more than one woman. It’s been a while since I read the records, but I *believe* it involved the Lawrence sisters, Maria and Sarah. That in itself was an awkward situation, since (a) they inherited considerable funds which Joseph had control over as their court-appointed legal guardian, (b) those funds basically evaporated in short order, and (c) Joseph took them as wives.

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  47. Will on December 28, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    Nick,

    “Keep me Honest”

    I appreciate your desire to help out, but your statement implies willful and wanton deception on my part. Accepting a statement, without investigating for myself, from someone I generally consider reliable. Guilty as charged. As for your implication I was being dishonest on this matter, that is an unrighteous judgment on your part.

    With that in mind, and with your admission they were murdered, it further fuels my argument the attack against Joseph and Hyrum was fueled by hatred – religious hatred.

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  48. Cowboy on December 28, 2011 at 9:44 PM

    “With that in mind, and with your admission they were murdered, it further fuels my argument the attack against Joseph and Hyrum was fueled by hatred – religious hatred.”

    Not quite Will. Were the murders fueled by “hatred”? Well, that’s probably a “no duh”, considering most murders would entail some level of hatred, probably. Was it religious hatred? I think Nick has pretty much made clear that your allegations that the murderers were clergy is false. I have also indicated that I find no evidence that these men were particularly religious. What have you to offer that suggests otherwise? More “reliable” hearsay?

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  49. Mike S on December 28, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    1) I do think we are obsessed with leadership positions in the LDS Church. Leaders sit in a specific order on the stand. In my SLC ward, it is not uncommon for a whole line of men to sit on the stand – 3 members of the bishopric, 3 members of the stake presidency, and a GA who happens to be in our ward that Sunday. There aren’t enough chairs on the side of the podium, so they set up folding chairs. With only 2-3 speakers on the other side (who are actually participating on the program) it appears somewhat strange.

    2) Regarding Joseph Smith, understand him less and less the more and more I know about him. I do think that he was murdered by the mob. However, I also do think that he was getting somewhat “out-of-control” near the end. It is one thing to reinstitute polygamy for the sake of “raising up seed” unto God. It is another thing to start taking other men’s wives. It is another thing to start asking men to give you their daughters to “test their faith”. It is another thing to be publicly denying it and teaching against it, while secretly doing it. It is another thing to destroy a printing press for revealing the secret.

    Was all of this truly “God’s will”? Was the mob therefore defeating God’s purpose? Was God removing someone who had run too far? Did Joseph’s actions incite the mob past the breaking point? I don’t know which.

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  50. Douglas on December 28, 2011 at 10:36 PM

    (1) SOCIAL POWER AND “WORTHINESS” – We LDS are no different than other denominations in that we informally buy into what some “born agains” term the “Health and Wealth” doctrine that is, God wants to “bless” you with a sugary-sweet ride thru life with enjoyment of good health and material enrichment, or its corollary, if you suffer from illnesses and/or suffer financial and/or professional setbacks, it’s because somehow “Gawd” is punishing you…how many Stake Presidents have never earned more than $40K US in their life?
    (2) Did JS somehow “game” the outcome of his life? Frankly, he didn’t seem to be that cunning. I don’t think he’d have planned to get blown away at age 38 and leave a widow with kids ages 12 and under.
    (3) The Salvation part evolving from a Protestant-like model into something more esoteric, I’m not getting that. It’s true that JS introduced the temple ceremony to the Church hierarchy in 1842 and started the endowments shortly thereafter (would make sense to know WHY they were building that big ol’ Temple overlooking Ole’ Man River, right?), but this had little effect on the Gospel essentials.
    (4) Apotheosis wasn’t a new concept to the LDS by Nauvoo, but D&C 131 clarified things. It was actually the King Follet Sermon (“God was once a Man, and sits in yonder heavens…”), more than the corporeal nature of Heavenly Father, where JS starkly laid out the significant theological differences between traditional Christianity and the LDS faith (hence WHY either a restoration was needed OR it’s a wacked-out cult, not much room for middle ground there).
    I don’t understand the characterization of JS as a megalomaniac. It seems to be conveniently forgotten that Smith could have slipped out of Nauvoo and waited until things cooled off. He knew that when he surrendered and went to jail in Carthage that there was a strong chance that he’d get his ticket punched. Yet he submitted to the law and (mistakenly) trusted in jurisprudence to run its course. Not even being a Lt. Gen (making him at the time equal in rank to the late George Washington) could save him, nor his Masonic connections. This is NOT the way a megalomaniac would do things.
    Let some be troubled about JS being comparable in military stature to George Washington (he was eulogized as being second to Christ only in providing for the salvation of mankind), On July 4, 1976, the US Congress and President Gerald Ford corrected the glaring oversight of GW being equalled in rank to Joseph Smith and many others, let alone being surpassed in rank by no less than thirty-four generals and admirals, created the rank of General of the Armies of the United States (six stars), and posthumously promoted GW to that rank, declaring that he and only he would hold that rank…therefore, GW outranks all in the US military, including JS, Junior.

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  51. hawkgrrrl on December 28, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    Megalomaniacs often believe they are beyond the reach of mortal men, that their greatness is a protection to them. We are also taught that no unhallowed hand can stop this work. If JS truly believed he was doing God’s will (and was a conduit of that will), his actions are consistent with that belief.

    Mike S put what I’m saying another way that I find useful. What is the difference between wondering if JS was out of control and God allowed his martyrdom to happen or members wondering which of the Q12 will live long enough to become Church President? There was rampant speculation when BRM died that it was because he was too far afield for God to accept him as Church President. That’s certainly a prominent cultural belief in Mormonism, that God directs leadership appointments in this manner.

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  52. Howard on December 28, 2011 at 11:09 PM

    re #49 It is another thing to start taking other men’s wives. It is another thing to start asking men to give you their daughters to “test their faith”. What if polygyny is just a first step? What if we are intended to eventually be sealed both polygyny and polyandry into a giant network thus becoming one? Then is this out of control?

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  53. dpc on December 29, 2011 at 12:08 AM

    @Nick

    Perhaps you are the one who should be kept honest. William Law had alleged that Joseph was in open adultery with Maria Lawrence. The charge said nothing about Law’s wife. They would have needed witnesses to the adultery or the testimony of Maria. And I think the charges were filed by William Law as a way to bring attention to polygamy. And if the prosecutor wanted to delay trial, that shows he had a pretty weak case. Furthermore,unless you have can provide us with the proffered evidence and data to back up the likely effects of a conviction, your counterfactual narrative of conviction and incarceration sounds foolish.

    @all those who apparently reject religious bigotry as the main cause of Joseph’s death

    You sound an awful like a few of the Southerners I meet who swear the War of Northern Agression was caused by the dispute over state rights and that the issue of slavery was just a ploy by Lincoln to shore up support for an unpopular war

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  54. dpc on December 29, 2011 at 12:13 AM

    @Hawk – How do you square your idea of Megalomania with Joseph’s statement that he was going as a lamb to the slaughter after surrendering rather than fleeing? Was he feeling invulnerable then?

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  55. Bob on December 29, 2011 at 12:41 AM

    The points I cannot put together:
    JS was an unlearned farm boy. JS becomes a highly learned man in a few years because of God wanted him to be__it was God’s plan. JS failed because he stopped following of God plan.
    IMO. JS was ALWAYS a smart guy. He knew the folklore was wrong. That why he said “No Man knows my history”.

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  56. Cowboy on December 29, 2011 at 12:59 AM

    DPC-

    I’ll leave you to interpret law, and to speculate on the quality of the case. However, rather than just asserting that the martyrdom was fueled by religious bigotry, you could show that you’ve been following the conversation so far by explaining specifically where the religious objections were directly manifest. I’m not seeing it, your lame analogy notwithstanding.

    Secondly, in answer to your question posed to hawkgrrrl, why don’t you finish that quote where he proclaims his righteousness before man and God. That seems a bit heady for lying polygamist, in my book.

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  57. hawkgrrrl on December 29, 2011 at 3:40 AM

    dpc – megalomaniacs are certainly not immune to the allure of martyrdom nor to taking the risky actions that result in them becoming martyrs. Your quotation, as I always read it, is in the context of laying a guilt trip on his followers and family: “If my life is of no worth to my friends, then it is of none to me.” It’s the person’s belief in their power and importance that leads them to take ill-advised actions. He does seem to exhibit more of a desire to be loved than feared, though, which is perhaps more akin to narcissism than megalomania.

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  58. Nick Literski on December 29, 2011 at 7:59 AM

    #47:
    Will, I understand that you were unintentionally passing on false information which you obtained from a source you trusted. When I said “keep you honest,” I meant it as a figure of speech, but clearly it was a very badly chosen figure of speech under the circumstances. Please accept my apologies.

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  59. Nick Literski on December 29, 2011 at 8:09 AM

    #53:
    William Law had alleged that Joseph was in open adultery with Maria Lawrence. The charge said nothing about Law’s wife.

    Thank you, dpc, for the refresher. As I noted, it’s been 6 years since I reviewed the court records. I obviously conflated the Lawrence information with the contemporaneous private controversy over Jane Law’s relations with Joseph Smith. The latter, while significant to the defection of William Law and others, was not a subject of the indictment against Joseph Smith for adultery.

    I think the charges were filed by William Law as a way to bring attention to polygamy.

    That may be true. Law’s motivation, however, would have no bearing on whether Joseph Smith was guilty under the law of the land (as opposed to religious justification) for the crime of adultery.

    And if the prosecutor wanted to delay trial, that shows he had a pretty weak case.

    I believe I made that clear, dpc, when I stated that the delay was likely due to the need to gain cooperation from witnesses. Keep in mind that prosecutors have the ability to move for dismissal when they don’t have the evidence to back their case, and lawyers typically don’t like to lose trials.

    Furthermore,unless you have can provide us with the proffered evidence and data to back up the likely effects of a conviction, your counterfactual narrative of conviction and incarceration sounds foolish.

    I gave no “narrative of conviction and incarceration,” dpc. I made it quite clear that Joseph Smith didn’t surive to stand trial on the charge, ergo, he could not have been convicted or incarcerated on the charge. As for the specific term of incarceration to which Joseph Smith might have been sentenced upon conviction, I’m no longer living in Illinois, and I don’t have ready access anymore to 1840s volumes of the Revised Statutes of Illinois. Then again, I didn’t speculate on how long he would have been incarcerated, did I?

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  60. Bob on December 29, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    Joseph Smith died trying to escape from jail by jumping out it’s window, after he ran out of ammo shooting other people.
    See, it’s easy to spin the story as you like. Or, he could have turned himself over to the mob for his martyrdom. Thereby saving his follow cellmates from being killed or injured.

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  61. Nick Literski on December 29, 2011 at 8:14 AM

    #54:
    How do you square your idea of Megalomania with Joseph’s statement that he was going as a lamb to the slaughter after surrendering rather than fleeing? Was he feeling invulnerable then?

    In a very real sense, both you and Hawkgrrrl are correct. When officers came to arrest Joseph following the destruction of the press, he fled to one of the islands in the Mississippi River, near the Iowa side, with the intent of travelling to an unidentified location in “the West.” Many of the Saints felt he was abandoning them, and Emma sent messengers to convey this sentiment. Upon hearing this, Joseph became quite despondent, saying “If my life is of no value to my friends, it is of no value to me.” Only then, did he return to Nauvoo and arrange a set time to go with officers to Carthage. Megalomaniac or not, he reached a point at that time when he saw the handwriting on the wall and lost any sense of invulnerability.

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  62. dpc on December 29, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    @hawk

    So depending on your interpretation of his actions, the dichotomy you come up with is that Joseph Smith is either a megalomaniac or a narcissist? That’s kind of a “heads, you win, tails, I lose” kind of proposition. The clinical name for megalomania is narcissistic personality disorder, so megalomania and narcissism are basically the same thing. I believe that there is more nuance to Joseph Smith’s character.

    Megalomania is defined as “delusional fantasies of power, revelance, or omnipotence.” Are you arguing that Joseph Smith had those kinds of delusions? The right question to ask, in my mind, was if Joseph Smith had an inflated view of himself and his actions and whether it was unjustified. I don’t really know enough to make that determination myself.

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  63. Howard on December 29, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    I think the question is were they delusional fantasies? If so did Christ suffer from delusional fantasies as well? Another important question regarding this issue was Joseph humble or egotistical?

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  64. Nick Literski on December 29, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    Another important question regarding this issue was Joseph humble or egotistical?

    Yes. Like the rest of us humans, he was both, depending on the circumstances.

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  65. Cowboy on December 29, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    “Megalomania is defined as “delusional fantasies of power, revelance, or omnipotence.” Are you arguing that Joseph Smith had those kinds of delusions? The right question to ask, in my mind, was if Joseph Smith had an inflated view of himself and his actions and whether it was unjustified. I don’t really know enough to make that determination myself.”

    DPC:

    If we can say that about anybody, we can say it about Joseph Smith. Read section 132, and tell me if your definitions don’t apply.

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  66. Howard on December 29, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    So megalomania is probably extreme can you name some megalomaniacs who were also humble?

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  67. Ray on December 29, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    With what I am about to say, I probably should start with an explicit statement that I accept Joseph Smith as a prophet and am amazed at what he was able to accomplish. I love him largely because he wasn’t the caricature everyone (his defenders AND his critics) tends to paint.

    With that said, I find D&C 121 to be absolutely fascinating as it relates to this discussion. It starts, in my opinion, with Joseph finally losing it and demanding that God come down and wipe out the enemies of the Church. I think he “broke” finally and fully gave in to his natural tendencies, if you will.

    When you read the first part of D&C 121, in essence, he was begging God to be the Old Testament protector / destroyer God – not the long-suffering God of the NT. (That also fits with how I see Joseph’s prophetic role – MUCH more as a classic OT prophet than as a classic NT apostle – and I’m fine with that, since he obviously believed in a restoration of ALL things that was founded in OT theology in many ways.)

    D&C 121 then follows his plea with a reassurance from God that basically tells Joseph to chill out and continue to endure – in a very real way, although couched in gentle, loving terms, telling him he had crossed the line and asked for that which couldn’t be granted. For what had he asked? A demonstration of divine power that would prove Joseph’s claims once and for all.

    The middle part of the section then outlines the nature of the Priesthood and the responsibilities of those who hold it – and the section ends with what I see as a deeply reflective, humbling admission and/or divine admonition. It says (with the emphasis mine):

    v. 37 – “when WE undertake to cover OUR sins, or to gratify OUR pride, OUR vain ambition, or to exercise control or ddominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in ANY degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens ewithdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”

    v. 39 – “WE have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of ALMOST ALL men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

    Personally, I think one of the reasons Joseph received this revelation was to teach him (and we who read it) that even prophets (as part of almost all men) not only could cross but actually had crossed the line into unrighteous dominion – and, in doing so, could lose the protection of God they had enjoyed previously.

    In a very real way, I see Joseph, not Brigham, as the modern Moses (and Brigham as the modern Joshua) – a very complex man who did great and marvelous things but who, in the end, was kept from leading his people into the promised land because his ego got the best of him and he started to let his power go to his head. I absolutely love the man, from what I have read and felt about him – but he was a man, not a God, and his death, while not justified in any way, absolutely was influenced greatly by his actions toward the end of his life, imo.

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  68. dpc on December 29, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    @cowboy

    In the interest of full transparency, the full quote says, “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward all men. I SHALL DIE INNOCENT, AND IT SHALL YET BE SAID OF ME — HE WAS MURDERED IN COLD BLOOD.” I’ll leave it up to everyone else to determine whether he was making a statement regarding his righteousness or just his state of mind.

    As far as the religious bigotry is concerned, and its apparent lack of a motivation in the actions of mobs in Missouri and Illinois, I see this as a recurring meme among former (and cultural) Mormons that (1) I don’t understand because it apparently seems to be saying that the Mormons got what they had coming to them; and that (2) I believe has little basis in fact based on the response of mobocrats to the perceived wrong-doing of Mormons. Maybe the Danites were a risk to the Missourians, but to the extent that all the Mormons needed to be expelled from Missouri? Maybe Joseph Smith presented a threat to vested economic and political interests in western Illinois, but to the extent that his enemies thought he was beyond the law and that death was the only way to neutralize him? Why was he a threat? Because he was megalomaniac and polygamist? Or was it because he was the megalomaniac leader of a religious movement with polygamist teachings that outsiders found abhorant? You simple can’t divorce religion from any of this.

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  69. Douglas on December 29, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    (to all) – are we somehow jaded at Joseph Smith’s apparent shortcomings and/or personality defects? Those that “hurl rocks” at the Prophet and how he lived his life would do well to ask themselves if they, under similar circumstances, could do anything near what he did.
    I don’t necessarily buy into all the “faith-promoting” spin that the Church puts forth about Joseph Smith, but being aware of my own faults, and those of the leaders that I’ve known, I consider it arrogant to presume that I can personally judge one Joseph Smith, Jr. “Warts and all”, AFAIC, he was a prophet of the Lord, as well as his successors.

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  70. Cowboy on December 29, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    “Those that “hurl rocks” at the Prophet and how he lived his life would do well to ask themselves if they, under similar circumstances, could do anything near what he did.”

    Douglas – What does that have to with anything? Part of the disagreement, I would venture, is that we are all at some level of disagreement as to what the actual circumstances likely were. I think Joseph Smith was a fake, compared to your perspective. Admittedly that challenges me to see your argument in a helpful way.

    DPC:

    I wonder if we’re even trying to understand one another. I am not going to fall into the trap of trying to justify the murder, though I think we could easily argue that the fears of the Missouri and Illinois neighbors may have been similar (not identical) to those of the Mountain Meadows Mormons who acted far more aggressively. In other words, they saw a growing body of Mormons who bloc voted and had the potential social influence and accumulating critical mass to funnel democratic powers to a religious dictator. Now, whether these fears were rational or not is besides the point, so long as this was major component of those fears. If the Mormon settlers forfeited their individual civic conscience’s, to the dictates of a religious Prophet, and those Mormons were in enough number to have significant influence on political outcomes, then you have effectively wrested a dictatorship through democracy. I believe this was the fear of many of the locals. I’m willing to concede that it may have been somewhat irrational, but not on account of Joseph Smith. Evidenced by those such as William Law, who were not willing to stand silently by as Joseph did as he pleased.

    So, to this end I agree, and have already stated that yes religion is interwined in the conflict. But, that does not justify the generalized assertion that it was because of the doctrinal peculiarities on Christ, the Atonement, the restoration, etc. It was because the tangible byproduct of the religion was a growing and seemingly undemocratic dictatorship. Things such as a secret societies, temples, and polygamy only then served to fuel the flames that something wasn’t right among the “Saints”.

    No one is saying that they deserved exactly what they got. What is being said is that they deserved some of what they got. And by “they”, I mean specifically Joseph Smith and his inner circle. Most of the Saints were more or less innocent victims in the whole affair.

    In short, religion had a role – but not the role of a type of Christ, that was litterally persecuted on account of his righteousness.

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  71. brjones on December 29, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    dpc – “delusional fantasies of power, revelance, or omnipotence?”

    How do you feel about Joseph having himself ordained King of the Earth by the Council of Fifty?

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  72. Nick Literski on December 29, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    #68:
    As far as the religious bigotry is concerned, and its apparent lack of a motivation in the actions of mobs in Missouri and Illinois, I see this as a recurring meme among former (and cultural) Mormons…

    I don’t know of anyone who claims that religious bigotry was not part of the reason that the early Mormons were attacked, or that Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered. Rather, many (including many very faithful LDS scholars) point out that the old theme of “innocent Mormons persecuted for their righteousness by wicked religious bigots” is overly-simplistic at best.

    The early Mormons, as a group, sometimes engaged in behavior that contributed to their problems with neighboring settlers. In some cases, this was the result of pride on their part. In other cases, they simply failed to take into account how their actions might be perceived by those around them (i.e. block voting patterns). In a few cases (i.e. Mountain Meadows), certain early Mormons did reprehensible things that the public took as a reflection on the entire LDS church. Nobody is saying that the early Mormons “deserved” the horrible things that were done to them. Rather, it’s just an acknowledgement that conflict is never entirely one-sided.

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  73. Will on December 29, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    Ray @67,

    That is an excellent analysis. Very good.

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  74. Troth Everyman on December 29, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    “Most of the Saints were more or less innocent victims in the whole affair.”

    While I can’t comment on whether Joseph was a true prophet or a fake one. I can say that (in a recent visit to Nauvoo) the impression I had was that the “Average Joe” Mormon had faith in what was taught (irrespective of whether what was taught was the product of a true prophet or a false one).

    Collectively the faith of those average members created something special and unique that still influences our LDS culture today. To me the believing natures of many of those saints still resonates (no matter which side of the prophet coin you fall).

    In short, while I don’t discount JS influence on our culture, the willingness of his followers to believe and create something of their own also had a great impact.

    (Which IMO would be a great follow-up post. “What are the cultural resonances today of the Average Joe member? “Joe” SMITH not being the Average Joe I am referring to.)

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  75. Glenn Thigpen on December 29, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    The more I read about the William Law relationship with Joseph Smith, the more bemused I am with Law’s own actions. There is an article at http://www.josephsmithspolygamy.com/26Accusers/WilliamLaw.html

    which has some interesting information. It seems that William Law was one of those who were given the inside information on the commandment. His first reaction was that of most who heard the commandment, one of revulsion, then came a time when he almost accepted it, but was unable to bring himself to do so and finally rejected it entirely.

    However, it seems that he was convinced that Joseph really believed that the he had received the commandment directly from God and had to follow through.

    Another thing that puzzles me is that William Law was the one who instigated the suit against Joseph for living in open state of adultery with Maria Lawrence.

    It is unclear to me why he decided to add fuel to the fire by printing the inflammatory piece in the Expositor rather than following through on the legal side.

    As to the innuendo that Joseph had tried to seduce William Law’s wife, one of Law’s sons, Tommy denied that such had ever happened.

    Interesting.

    Glenn

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  76. Douglas on December 29, 2011 at 5:18 PM

    #70 (Cowboy) – my “hurl rocks” comment is more suited to those that profess, at least to some degree, belief in the Restoration of the Gospel, and at least believe that at one time JS was a prophet (was he by the time of his death a “fallen” one as some say?). For those like yourself that think him a “fake” or a false prophet, it is irrelevant as to his actions and/or personality quirks. Someone who is “ramrod straight” and cold sober, if a false prophet, is still false.
    Certainly JS was larger than life in his day and would likely have difficulty connecting with the corporate hierarchy running the Church today, being too much a loose cannon in bringing forth the canon (LoL).

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  77. Bob on December 29, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    I don’t think Joseph Smith changed much through his life. He just got bigger and stronger. That he was an unlearned farm boy,is folklore. He knew his Bible. He knew history. He was well read. People agreed to his actions from his teens. He was a great storyteller even as a boy. I don’t seeing him ‘falling’ in his last day__just becoming more of what he always was.

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  78. hawkgrrrl on December 29, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    I tend to agree with Ray. DC 121 reveals JS’s tendencies and weaknesses. Like everyone he has both good and bad within him, and his power or lack thereof reveals his character.

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  79. hawkgrrrl on December 29, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    To the question of religious bigotry, what creates that? I don’t think anyone has said there was no religious bigotry involved, but even though you could say the Holocaust was motivated by hatred of the Jews, there is so much more to the story: Hitler’s insecurity and self-loathing (he was likely part Jewish), the economic collapse of Germany, the fact that Jews dominated some specific and wealthy industries, the fact that the rest of the world was persuaded to sit on the sidelines, etc, etc. I’m not sure “religious bigotry” is very informative.

    As for narssicism not being very nuanced, it’s just one aspect of JS in the OP (which came originally from Brad’s OP). There are many more traits mentioned herein. I really don’t see how it can be disputed. Beyond that, the question is whether that trait has transferred to the church. I think most of our leaders avoid that, but never since has another individual leader of the church held so much power. We are essentially an oligarchy now. Yet we’ve also heard stories of new apostles being told not to let it go to their heads. Reminders to stay humble are good counsel for all people in positions of power.

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  80. Douglas on December 29, 2011 at 10:48 PM

    #79 – (She-type Hawk)
    “Religious” bigotry is no different than other bigotry…it’s “we”, and “they”, and “we” KNOW that “WE” are in the RIGHT, and “they” suck, and so on…
    Hitler (aka Schicklegruber) part Jewish? That’s largely been dismissed by serious historians. Herr Hitler’s grandmother, one Anna-Maria Schicklegruber, became pregnant out of wedlock at age 42 (Adolf’s Dad Alois Hitler). There was a theory that she had worked as a cook in the household of a Jewish family known as the Frankenbergers. However, Jews were expelled from the Austrian province of Stryia in the 15th century and not allowed to return until the 1860′s (following the Seven Weeks’ War), so the likelihood of Hitler’s Dad having been sired by a Jew seems quite unlikely. Hitler hardly invented anti-Semitism in Germany and/or Austria anyway, he cleverly and unfortunately exploited it (though I severely dispute the actual body count in the so-called “Holohoax”).
    The Church an “Oligarchy”? I find that quite disputable as well. If there was a cabal of influential, wealthy families that in effect were the real power behind Pres. Monson’s chair, then, yes, I’d say so. It seems that there is a great deal of upward mobility as many General Authorities seem to hail from rather humble circumstances. I’m sure that most of them have gotten well beyond the adulation part once they’re Stake Presidents or so and realize that it mostly involves a lot of work and for all I know some probably find some of it a bit boring, but nevertheless, they’re glad to do their part and wouldn’t trade it for anything.
    Now, if only we have a more effective way to reap the talents of our dear sisters. Methinks we could do so much more, even if I don’t think it’s necessary to extend the Priesthood to Women.

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  81. Glenn Thigpen on December 30, 2011 at 4:44 AM

    We are discussing a man that was persecuted from his youth onward because he professed to have seen God and had been visited by angels.

    He was a man who had had been dragged into court over thirty-six times from his youth in his early twenties on one pretext after another. The only conviction that I am aware of was a civil one concerning the failed Kirkland banking venture.

    He was also a man who had been dragged from his home in the middle of the night and tarred and feathered. He was a man whose child died from exposure caused by the mob that tarred and feathered him.

    He also was a man that had received commandments from God and was trying to walk a fine line between doing what the Lord required of him and dealing with the laws of the land on one hand, his wife, on the other, and various factions in the church on the other.

    While acknowledging that Joseph Smith was a man with faults, like the rest of us, there is not one of you who have enough of the actual facts to pronounce an informed judgement on his mental state of mind, nor on his morality. None of us were there and the stories that we hear come through various filters that offer their own distortions and contradictions.

    In the end, for the believers, God will judge Joseph righteously, which we cannot do whether we believe in God or not.

    If there is no God, for those who do not believe in God, then it does not matter. There is no morality, no standards, except as defined by the shifting sands of man’s desires.

    Glenn

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  82. Bob on December 30, 2011 at 4:48 AM

    #79: hawkgrrrl,
    If there is one characteristic that JS passed on to Mormonism, it was arrogance. You see it today in the way the Church looks at itself and talks about itself.
    The label “Mormon” means everything to some members.

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  83. hawkgrrrl on December 30, 2011 at 5:06 AM

    Glenn – yes, everyone agrees that JS endured some terrible things and that he also contributed to Christianity in unsurpassed and amazing ways.

    That’s not to say he wasn’t a rough stone nor that God approved all his actions (and as evidenced, the mob certainly didn’t). The rebuke in DC 121 isn’t the only one he received from God. Would God remove him if he had truly and significantly gone astray? Did he or was he about to? Did God remove him from power? What would the church have looked like if he had survived to his 80s and 90s like our current leaders do?

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  84. Howard on December 30, 2011 at 5:51 AM

    Removed by God? Yes martyred by God! What would the church have looked like if he had survived to his 80s and 90s like our current leaders do? Indeed.

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  85. Bob on December 30, 2011 at 8:08 AM

    #83: hawkgrrrl,
    Well__If there was a move West__ I guess at some point__ JS&BY would have been at odds(?)

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  86. Nick Literski on December 30, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    #75:
    It seems that William Law was one of those who were given the inside information on the commandment. His first reaction was that of most who heard the commandment, one of revulsion, then came a time when he almost accepted it, but was unable to bring himself to do so and finally rejected it entirely.

    Hyrum Smith attributed William Law’s rebellion to the episode between Joseph Smith and Jane Law, the various accounts of which I described above. I think it’s important to note that according to Hyrum, William Law was refused the higher temple ordinances, because he had previously committed adultery. Putting two and two together, it’s not hard to believe that William Law was interested in practicing plural marriage, but was denied the opportunity by Joseph Smith, so he lashed out against both the doctrine and the man who propounded it.

    It is unclear to me why he decided to add fuel to the fire by printing the inflammatory piece in the Expositor rather than following through on the legal side.

    William Law had followed through to the extent that he could. The judge in the case granted the prosecution’s motion to delay trial until the next court session (a few months away). There was nothing William Law could do to change that.

    As to the innuendo that Joseph had tried to seduce William Law’s wife, one of Law’s sons, Tommy denied that such had ever happened.

    Again, there are at least two reasonable stories about the encounter between Joseph Smith and Jane Law—that of Jane (“Joseph seduced me!”) and that of Hyrum Smith (“Jane threw herself at Joseph, because she wanted an exaltation she couldn’t get with William.”). Personally, I tend toward Hyrum’s story, though we can’t know for certain.

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  87. Nick Literski on December 30, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    Oh—and as a side note, Hyrum’s version of events wouldn’t be such a strange story. Think back to the biblical account of ancient Joseph, and Potiphar’s wife. She wanted him bad, and he wasn’t willing to take her, so she accused him of attempting to rape her! Both cases involve a would-be seductress who, upon failing to get what she wanted, covered her tracks with her husband (and got her revenge) by accusing the object of their affections.

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  88. Nick Literski on December 30, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    #81:
    He was a man who had had been dragged into court over thirty-six times from his youth in his early twenties on one pretext after another.

    Yes, the standard folklore among many LDS is that Joseph Smith was never once brought to court on a legitimate charge. Whether this is true or not can never be known for certain, as not all court records have survived for the times and places he resided. Some cases do seem purely pretextual. Others, not so much.

    While acknowledging that Joseph Smith was a man with faults, like the rest of us, there is not one of you who have enough of the actual facts to pronounce an informed judgement on his mental state of mind, nor on his morality…In the end, for the believers, God will judge Joseph righteously, which we cannot do whether we believe in God or not.

    Please remember this wise counsel when your opportunity comes to judge others—such as when a modern “prophet” urges you to “do all that you can with your time and means” to see that existing civil rights are eliminated for a minority group who he judges as unworthy of equal treatment under the civil laws.

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  89. Glenn Thigpen on December 30, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    “Please remember this wise counsel when your opportunity comes to judge others—such as when a modern “prophet” urges you to “do all that you can with your time and means” to see that existing civil rights are eliminated for a minority group who he judges as unworthy of equal treatment under the civil laws.”

    Nick, you are arguing apples and oranges here.

    However, I will give you an example of my personal journey out of judgement.

    I am from the South and was raised up in an environment of prejudice. I won’t go into all of the details, but suffice it to say that I was prejudiced myself. I was against integration, etc.
    However, as I grew older, and even before I left the area for an eyeopening Naval experience, I had began to examine my beliefs in light of what the Gospel has teaches about God’s love for His children and that all of us mortals on this earth are His children.
    I was not a fan of Martin Luther king, not because of his civil rights stances, which I recognized as being on the right track, but because I felt that he went about preaching peace publicly, but fomenting rebellion privately.
    Articles were printed in various magazines etc. which plainly spoke of King as being a womanizer, and adulterer. I can remember one such question proposed to Walter Scott in his Personality Parade in the Parade Magazine which asked about this particular item and why King’s wife put up with it if it were true.
    Scott replied that King’s sexual excursions were well known but that King’s wife put up with it because of the greater good that MLK was doing in the civil rights arena.
    I accepted Scott’s pronouncement, and I am ashamed to admit that I was glad to hear it.
    I became ashamed of it as I again reflected upon how my feelings were at odds with the Gospel principles that I was supposed to be living.
    I actually sat down with myself and the civil rights movement and came to a few conclusions.
    The very first one is that I knew of no actual evidence that MLK was an adulterer. I did not have enough facts to make any kind of informed judgement on that matter, no matter how much gossip and innuendo I have heard and read.
    As to fomenting disorder, it was a natural result of him and others standing up for the rights denied to them. There were reports circulating that MLK had attended Communist training camps to learn how to create disorder and discord among the proletariat. But I do not believe that he was subversive. In fact I actually believe that he lived and preached the same message publicly and privately, and urged those that followed him to keep their demonstrations peaceful as they pursued the rights they believed to be theirs.
    Whatever one may think they know about his morals etc., his legacy is a great one. I am content to let God judge MLK on all issues and I actually owe him a debt of gratitude for helping me out of my own bigotry.

    That is an apples to apples comparison.

    Glenn

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  90. Ray on December 30, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    #82 – Bob, fwiw, I think that comment not only is incorrect about the VAST majority of members of the LDS Church, but it also can be said just as accurately about people who are strong believers in just about any religion or specific denomination. It’s really sad when it happens, and, ironically, our temple theology ought to blunt such arrogance among us, but I just don’t agree that it is one of the lasting contributions of Joseph Smith. In fact, I think it’s a gross mis-characterization, my previous comment about D&C 121 notwithstanding.

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  91. Nick Literski on December 30, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    So, Glenn, what you’re saying is that nobody can judge Joseph Smith, and nobody can judge Rev. Martin Luther King, but it’s totally different to judge gay people and declare them unworthy of equality under the civil laws?

    Thanks for clarifying just how far you take this whole “we’re not qualified to judge” argument!

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  92. Henry on December 30, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    Nick:
    I may be wrong but I think Glenn means that there is no constitutional right to same sex marriage. Rogue legislators have made up this imagined civil right of gay marriage.

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  93. Glenn Thigpen on December 30, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    “So, Glenn, what you’re saying is that nobody can judge Joseph Smith, and nobody can judge Rev. Martin Luther King, but it’s totally different to judge gay people and declare them unworthy of equality under the civil laws?

    Thanks for clarifying just how far you take this whole “we’re not qualified to judge” argument!”

    Nick, you are talking about two different things here. I am not going off down that lane right now. It is way off the topic.

    Glenn

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  94. Nick Literski on December 30, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Glenn, you were speaking of how we have no right, as imperfect humans, to judge Joseph Smith. You then noted that you carried the same attitude toward Martin Luther King. At the same time, you indicated that you don’t feel the same attitude toward gays. You evidently feel that despite your human imperfections, it’s entirely appropriate for you to judge them. That’s the only “different thing” you seem to be addressing.

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  95. Brad on December 30, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    #81
    Glenn, in a supposedly unchanging gospel/church, why can’t we judge Joseph Smith’s actions? How would we judge a prophet today who did similar actions? If TSM reinstituted polygamy and then intentionally deceived the body of the church about it, I doubt many members would be slow to judge.

    I for one am tired hearing about how different times were back then, and we can’t judge based on our understanding of morality. We continually base our lives on teachings from the early church leaders, which assumes we are OK with their morality. It that’s the case, then our versions of morality are quite similar, no? I then have every right to call ‘immoral’ to some of Joseph’s actions.

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  96. Will on December 30, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Nick,

    We should judge others, the Savior has asked us to “make righteous judgment” towards one another. (JST Matthew 7:1).What we are discouraged from doing is making unrighteous judgments of one another. Unrighteous judgments would be things like judging someone’s intent or jumping to a conclusion without all of the salient information. For example, stopping my kids from hanging out with other kids simply because they are not LDS is a good example of unrighteous judgment. A righteous judgment would be preventing my kids from hanging out with kids that are a bad influence LDS or not.
    With this in mind and in relation to Joseph Smith, I don’t know his history and neither does anyone else. I can say it is wrong to commit adultery, but I can’t say that Joseph Smith committed adultery as I never witnessed him doing such a thing. I can say it is wrong for a fully grown man to have sex with a 13 year old girl regardless of marriage vows, but I can’t say that Joseph had sex with a 13 year old girl as I never saw him doing such a thing. I can say Joseph Smith was justified in shooting three members of the mob in self defense (unfortunately none of them died), after all they had just killed his brother. I can further say it is wrong for the mob to kill Joseph and his brother Hyrum simply because of what they believed.

    I know you and Cowboy say it wasn’t for this reason, or at least not solely for this reason, but the reality is Joseph Smith was a religious leader. He was doing his duties as a religious leader. Perhaps he should have separated his civic from these religious duties, but he didn’t. The fact is they killed a religious leader for being a religious leader.

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  97. Howard on December 30, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    after all they had just killed his brother How do you know that?

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  98. Justifier on December 30, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    Hey if you don’t want to believe Joseph Smith is the true prophet that is fine, but you would have been excomunicated in the early days. The prophet specifically stated that people entered heaven through the Prophet Smith Jr.. Now a simple reading of the bible would point to that being nonsense, but then again so was marrying (2) 14 year olds a 17 year old and a 19 year old virgin in the month of May one year and all this without Emma knowing about it. Just imagine your Dad marrying 4 teenage virgins. He would look kind of worn out wouldn’t he?

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  99. Bob on December 30, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    #98: Will,
    The history of Joseph Smith is as well know as any person of the past can be.
    I think the evidence shows he was in jail for a crime, and died because of his civic actions and not because of the religious leadership.
    (Unfortunately none of them died). Not knowing who these people were, is an unrighteous judgment.

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  100. Justifier on December 30, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    J.S was more than a religious leader. They used to call him General Smith. He had a 5000 person militia and there was something called the Mormon wars and it was not religious persecution. It was about breaking the law of Polygamy. in 1833 the state of Illinois had a law on the books specifically stating it was a jailable offense to have more than one wife. The State of Illinois was in the right to jail the lawbreakers. The mob was likely the fathers and brothers of the young women the Mormon’s were abusing. Outside of the lawbreaking polygamy, the Mormons would still be in Navoo at the location of the supposed final temple “well that didn’t work out too good either”. Ooops!

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  101. Ray on December 30, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    “The State of Illinois was in the right to jail the lawbreakers. The mob was likely the fathers and brothers of the young women the Mormon’s were abusing.”

    That statement simply is too silly to even try to answer.

    Sometimes trolls don’t even try to be subtle.

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  102. Glenn Thigpen on December 30, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    “Glenn, you were speaking of how we have no right, as imperfect humans, to judge Joseph Smith. You then noted that you carried the same attitude toward Martin Luther King. At the same time, you indicated that you don’t feel the same attitude toward gays. You evidently feel that despite your human imperfections, it’s entirely appropriate for you to judge them. That’s the only “different thing” you seem to be addressing.”

    Nick, I did not say we have no right to make a judgement. We have the right to make any type of judgement that we wish, to come to any conclusion that we wish. I [b][i]was[/i][/b] saying that we do not know all of the facts in the case of Joseph Smith or Martin Luther King Jr. to make an informed judgement.
    I did not bring up anything about the gays and have not voiced an opinion on the subject here. You were the one that interjected that into the discussion, and as I noted, it is not really the same issue, i.e. trying to judge the motives and morals of a person in history without enough of the salient facts.
    You, of course, are free to disagree with my assessment if you wish.
    (I see that I am losing the popularity contest of likes and dislikes, so I guess I must be wrong.)

    Glenn

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  103. Nick Literski on December 30, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    Glenn, the fact remains that you pulled out the old “we can’t judge…we don’t know their whole story…etc.” game when it came to anyone criticizing Joseph Smith. I challenged you on it, because if you’re going to play that card, you should be prepared to extend the same non-judgment to everyone—not just your religious hero de jour. I gave an example of a group which you could extend that non-judgment to, which would be a more “saintly” and “christian” approach than that taken by your church’s current president. You dodged that opportunity, and instead tried to show us how open-minded and non-racist you were by invoking your decision not to condemn Rev. Martin Luther King on the basis of heresay from his socio-political enemies.

    That pretty much demonstrates that your advice on not judging others when you don’t know their whole story (which, btw, includes everyone who’s ever lived on this planet, since you never can know anyone’s full story) was simply a rhetorical game in defense of Joseph Smith, as opposed to a genuine gesture of charity toward your fellow beings.

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  104. Nick Literski on December 30, 2011 at 7:04 PM

    #96:
    What we are discouraged from doing is making unrighteous judgments of one another. Unrighteous judgments would be things like judging someone’s intent or jumping to a conclusion without all of the salient information.

    Will, I’d suggest that no matter how wise and righteous you believe you are, you will never have “all of the salient information” about anyone or anything. Ergo, your idea of what constitutes “unrighteous judgement” extends to judging anyone for any reason. That being the case, maybe your definition of “unrighteous judgment” still needs some further examination.

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  105. Glenn Thigpen on December 30, 2011 at 7:20 PM

    “That pretty much demonstrates that your advice on not judging others when you don’t know their whole story (which, btw, includes everyone who’s ever lived on this planet, since you never can know anyone’s full story) was simply a rhetorical game in defense of Joseph Smith, as opposed to a genuine gesture of charity toward your fellow beings.”

    Nick, thanks for the judgement call. I did not realize that you are also able to read the intent of one’s heart so well.
    Of course we will never have, in this life, all of the salient facts. Some may think that they have enough of the salient facts to make an informed/righteous judgement Joseph Smith based upon the extant historical data. I do not think so.

    I do support the General Authorities on the “The Family: A proclamation to the World”. I do accept that homosexual activity is a sin in the eyes of God as set down in the Old Testament, reiterated in the New Testament, and by latter day prophets.
    But that is not the issue on which I was speaking. The issue of gay civil rights is not the topic.
    If you wish to do a blog on the subject somewhere, I would be glad to engage you on that subject, but I am trying not to derail this one.

    Thanks,
    Glenn

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  106. Bob on December 30, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    Some context about this area of the country at this time:
    “By the end of the Civil War Missouri had supplied nearly 110,000 troops to the Union and about 40,000 troops for the Confederate Army. There were battles and skirmishes in all areas of the state, from the Iowa and Illinois border in the northeast to the edge of the state in the southeast and southwest on the Arkansas border. Counting minor engagements, actions and skirmishes, Missouri saw over 1,200 distinct fights. this area at this time “.
    For 20 or 30 years, Missouri was a place to keep out of__Mormon or not.

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  107. Glenn Thigpen on December 30, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    “Some context about this area of the country at this time:
    “By the end of the Civil War Missouri had supplied nearly 110,000 troops to the Union and about 40,000 troops for the Confederate Army. There were battles and skirmishes in all areas of the state, from the Iowa and Illinois border in the northeast to the edge of the state in the southeast and southwest on the Arkansas border. Counting minor engagements, actions and skirmishes, Missouri saw over 1,200 distinct fights. this area at this time “.
    For 20 or 30 years, Missouri was a place to keep out of__Mormon or not.”

    However, this was a bit before the Civil War. What was the history of Illinois from 1838 to 1844 which is the time period most under scrutiny?

    Glenn

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  108. Will on December 30, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    Bob, Justifier, Howard & Nick,

    Nick, you actually use the right terminology, but come to the wrong conclusion. In response to 104, I would interject the words of the Savior as it ties perfectly to this entire discussion. He understands there are false prophets and he further understands his true Prophets will undergo, just as he did, a great deal of scrutiny for what he claimed. He understands they will be known for good and evil. He understands they will be hated and revered.

    Shortly after the verse I quoted above in Matthew 7, the Savior compares prophets to trees and provides a way we can truly discern who is a true Prophet when he said “by their fruits shall ye know them”. He did not say by allegations shall ye know them, he said ‘by their fruits shall ye know them’ and further stated a good tree (true Prophet) cannot bring forth bad fruit; and, a bad tree (false Prophet) cannot bring forth good fruit.

    The main fruit brought forth by Joseph is the Book of Mormon. A book with a story and a promise – a promise I have confirmed for myself. The spirit has borne witness to me that it is true – a clear, crisp, definitive answer – an ultimate and eternal object lesson. An experience I will never forget. I would encourage you to follow the same path and promise. It enlarged by soul and enlightened my mind. I would add you cannot solve a spiritual equation by secular means, or you will be as the Apostle Paul said ‘ever learning but never able to come to knowledge of the truth’. Per the Savior, if the fruit is good, then the tree than bore that fruit is good also. With this in mind, I side with the witness of Joseph. I make my judgement based on this information.

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  109. Glenn Thigpen on December 30, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    I want to get my comments back onto the track of the article by hawkgrrrl. Dale Broadhurst has a lot of newspaper articles from news publications in the pertinent areas and it has helped me gain a bit of perspective on the events as viewed from the perspective of those not of the LDS persuasion of the times.

    Religious bigotry seemed to be the original fuel for the fire against the LDS. There was an account in 1836 of one LDS preacher being beaten just because he was an LDS preacher.

    However, the overriding reaction that I noticed is one of fear. Fear of the political clout that the growing body of LDS could wield in elections in Missouri. There was apprehension that they would elect LDS leaders to positions of power and thus put non LDS Missourians under the ultimate rule of Joseph Smith.
    This also seemed to be the case in Illinois. There was some envy, it seems, because of the astonishing speed in which the LDS had built up the town of Commerce, renamed Nauvoo, but the fear of the political clout also seemed to be the stronger. There were articles about the Democrats in the legislature curry favor with the LDS, which resulted in granting the city of Nauvoo powers not normally granted to other cities, as one example. Of course the Whigs were infuriated, and possibly scared of being overrun politically. At its population height, Nauvoo ranked second in the state to Chicago in population, but with a much more unified voting block.
    The papers of the era are awash with stories and innuendo that would raise the suspicions and ire of people that such political clout could have affected negatively.

    Glenn

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  110. Bob on December 30, 2011 at 9:21 PM

    #107 Glenn,
    Joseph Was killed 1844, The Missouri Compromise was 1850. The Civil War had stated in ‘Bleeding Kansas’ in the 1850s.
    But for years before this__ territorial war was the name of the game in this area. For Mormons to think they could come from New York or Ohio, into any of these states and take land unto themselves, was a bad plan.

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  111. Howard on December 30, 2011 at 10:23 PM

    Will,
    I enjoy your comments even when I disagree which is much of the time. Thank you for your eloquent testimony. I have inquired of the Spirit regarding Joseph and the BoM and I have my own substantial testimony which includes Joseph being an enlightened shaman Prophet some may find this description distasteful but that is probably born of ignorance as it closely fits the JS story. However I would like to point out that you ignored my question.

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  112. Glenn Thigpen on December 31, 2011 at 5:01 AM

    #110 Bob, The Missouri Compromise was 1820, allowing Missouri to be admitted to the Union as a slave state in 1821 while Maine was admitted as a non-slave state. The population in 1830 was about 140,000. In 1840 it was about 240,000. It was growing by leaps and bounds during the period of which we speak. Moving to Missouri did not seem to be such a bad idea at the time, if one were a Southerner, or at least a pro-slavery person.
    The people from the church were mostly of a northern heritage or from England and had mostly negative views of slavery. That was probably a “bad thing”.

    Glenn

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  113. Bob on December 31, 2011 at 8:24 AM

    #112: Glenn,
    You are right on 1820 Missouri Compromise. I was thinking of the Compromise of 1850:
    The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five bills, passed in September 1850, which defused a four-year confrontation between the slave states of the South and the free states of the North regarding the status of territories acquired during the Mexican-American War (1846–1848).

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  114. Will on December 31, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    “after all they had just killed his brother How do you know that?”

    Based on eyewitness testimony by a soon to be Prophet of God — John Taylor.

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  115. Howard on December 31, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    Will,
    What did John Taylor mean? That the three Joseph shot personally killed Hyrum or the three Joseph shot happened to be a part of a group and someone in that group killed Hyrum?

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  116. MH on December 31, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    Dallin Oaks put together the eyewitness testimony in his book Carthage Conspiracy (click for more details). Here’s how it was described.

    Upon hearing the guns firing below, Joseph and Hyrum seized their pistols and ran to the door to hold it shut against the attackers. Some of the mob fired shots through the wooden door, hitting Hyrum in the face. He fell upon his back, dead, his head toward an open window on the east. Joseph, seeing his fallen brother at his feet, stepped up beside the door and began firing his pistol at the men in the hallway. After attempting to fire all six barrels (three misfired) he ran to the window. Outside were more of the mob, who fired at him from below as bullets struck him from behind. [This account is based on the recollections of eyewitnesses Willard Richard, John Taylor, and John H. Sherman. Joseph Smith's Journal kept by Willard Richards, June 27, 1844; Times and Seasons 5 (August 1, 1844), 598; Smith, History of the Church, VII, 102-4; VI, 617,19; Scofield, History of Hancock County, 846-47.]

    Wills, Voras, and Gallaher were probably named in the indictment because their wounds, which testimony showed were received at the jail, were irrefutable evidence that they had participated in the mob. They undoubtedly recognized their vulnerability and fled the county. A contemporary witness reported these three as saying that they were the first men at the jail, that one of them shot through the door killing Hyrum, that Joseph wounded all three with his pistol, and that Gallaher shot Joseph as he ran to the window.[Hay, "The Mormon Prophet's Tragedy," 675] According to Hay, Wills, whom the Mormon prophet had shot in the arm, was an Irishman who had joined the mob from “his congenital love of a brawl.”[Statement of Jeremiah Willey, August 13, 1844, Brigham Young correspondence, Church Archives.] Gallaher was a young man from Mississippi who was shot in the face.[Hay, "The Mormon Prophet's Tragedy," 669, 675. Another source says Wills was a former Mormon elder who had left the Church. Davis, An Authentic Account, 24.] Hay described Voras (Voorhees) as a “half-grown hobbledehoy from Bear Creek” whom Joseph shot in the shoulder. The citizens of Green Plains were said to have given Gallaher and Voras new suits of clothes for their parts in the killing.[Statement of Jeremiah Willey, August 13, 1844]

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  117. Cowboy on December 31, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    Will:

    I agree with everything you said in #96 except for the conclusion that Joseph Smith was simply killed for being a religious leader. Please defend that with more than just assertion. I have already conceded that there were religious implication, however I have clearly qualified those implications for what I think they were. If you wish to discuss this, then try and address my comments by stating WHY you think they are in error, rather than just insiting THAT they are in error.

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  118. Cowboy on December 31, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    Will #108:

    Sorry in advance if it seems like I am picking on you – I do like your comments, even though I disagree often.

    I don’t think you get to pick and choose which products of Joseph Smith are fruits, and which are not. While I agree that the Book of Mormon is a fruit of Joseph Smith, you must also include his doctrines otherwise. Polygamy is and always will be a fruit of Joseph Smith if and until it can be proved that he was not actually a polygamist. As far as the historical record is concerned, he was. Admittedly, the recent genetic studies to find an ancestor of his through a polygamous marriage is a bit interesting. So far he had no children outside of his marriage to Emma. Different topic I suppose.

    On to the Book of Mormon. While one fruit of the Book of Mormon is a nice Christian narrative, one debatable aspect of it that is not so nice is that it is a likely historical fiction.

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  119. Stephen Marsh on December 31, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    Admittedly, the recent genetic studies to find an ancestor of his through a polygamous marriage is a bit interesting. So far he had no children outside of his marriage to Emma. Different topic I suppose.

    Yes, that is a significant issue, vis a vis the slanders published about him (and the truths).

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  120. Will on December 31, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    Cowboy,

    Polygamy is a doctrine of the Old Testament. In fact, the Old Testament is technically God’s dealings with a polygamist family, or the children of Israel. I admit, I don’t understand that doctrine and to me most people that have a problem with polygamy look at it from a sexual perspective, which is totally stupid. If your objective is to have sex with a lot of women, I’m guessing “hey, baby wanna to be one of my many wives” is not a good pickup line.

    Along these lines, typically those with sexual prowess go after the hotties. If you have ever seen pictures of some of the women Joseph was allegedly married to, I don’t think sex was his objective if in fact he were married to these women. Contrast this to the Old Testament; Issac had to hide his wife in public as she was so attractive. Likewise, from my reading it appears Joseph of old didn’t really want to be married to Leah, Bilhah or Lilpah, he really only wanted to be with Rachael, who was super attractive.

    In other words, it appears some of the Old Testament prophets married these women out of obligation. The sole exceptions were David and Solomon whom the Lord chastised pretty heavily in the Book of Mormon. I’m sure as the translator, Joseph was aware of this scripture. In my opinion, they were chastised because they did it to satisfy their lusts – Solomon didn’t even call them wives, just concubines or sex objects. All told, there is more to polygamy than meets the eye. With this said, did Joseph and Brigham live polygamy because of sexual conquest or because they were commanded to just as Joseph of old. I would suggest it was the latter.

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  121. Douglas on December 31, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    #120 – And likewise with SOME of the polygamous wives of 19th century LDS leaders. IMHO, if they “got it up” for those gals (except purely for procreation, of course), then those ol’ boys had some interesting tastes in women.
    Boils down to whether you believe that JS, BY, and their successors on down were Prophets, and whether Tommy Monson is the Lord’s mouthpiece today. If you do, then the Lord has a reason and perhaps doesn’t feel a need to explain Himself (D&C 1:38).

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  122. Bob on December 31, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    #120: Will,
    What you think about Polygamy, is fashioned in your own head. It is limited to Jews and Mormons. There have been hundreds of polygamous Cultures, doing it in a hundred different ways.

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  123. Cowboy on December 31, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    Will:

    I won’t pretend to know exactly what was going through Joseph Smith’s mind. I’m fine accepting that his motivations may not have been entirely sexual. Either way, I would argue that it was still manipulative, given that many of the women would have never done it had they not believed it was their ticket to exhaltation.

    As much as I enjoyed your comments about the relative attractiveness of early Mormon women, I should point out that you are judging them by modern standards.

    As for polygamy being a biblical “principle”, that will be much harder to argue than “practice”. Nowhere in the Bible do you get any indication that polygamy was ordained of God, or requisite for his ordinances or salvation. The bible just takes it as a given that the societies it mentions practiced this form of marriage.

    Lastly, your position on marriage and unattractive women undermines the worth of souls, in my book. While you allow that your so-called unattractive women can be saved, it would seem that this is only possible through the be grudging munificense of the dissimilarly qualified polygamist priesthood. You seem to allude to the prevalent notion that unattractive women do not deserve to be loved, even by their husbands. Implicitly you are then saying that evem within Celestial marriages, the rank ordering of wives is based on a womans looks.

    A final thought – your whole case in your most recent comment rests on a blind appeal to authority on the bible. Anyone who is willing to read of the Genesis patriarch’s marriages with an objective view, should not come away with a positive view of them based on a value system where each person has intrinsic worth. Abraham’s treatment of Hagar is deplorable. It would literally be the modern equivalent of throwing half of your family out in the night without offering them as much as bus fare. From Jacob and Issac we learn that women can be traded like cattle, and that again, not all of them deserved to be loved.

    In short, if this was Joseph Smith’s model of marriage, then he was a sick despot indeed, as he appears to have emulated an ancient class of likewise despotic husbands.

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  124. Glenn Thigpen on January 1, 2012 at 6:54 AM

    Cowboy on #123

    The Bible is silent or sparse with information on many subjects, including polygamy. But it is evident that it was sanctioned by God. God certainly did not condemn Abraham because he took other wives, including Hagar.

    Although you say that Abraham’s treatment of Hagar was deplorable, he did it on the advice if not commandment of God, if you accept that Biblical account.

    “12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in aIsaac shall thy bseed be called.

    13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a a nation, because he is thy seed. (Genesis, chapter 21)

    David was actually given the wives of Saul after Saul’s death by the Lord.
    It was in the taking of Bathsheba where David fell into disfavor with the Lord. And in the case of Solomon, it was the “multiplying of wives” unto himself that were not authorized by God that the Lord abhorred.

    The Mosaic law also laid out some pretty specific rules for the treatment of plural wives.
    So, while there is not record in the Bible of God instituting polygamy among the Hebrews, He did sanction it in several verified cases.

    I think you are reading way too much into Will’s statement on the the lack of physical attractiveness of some of the women married by some of prophets. I think that Will was pointing out that it was not physical attraction that was the motivating factor. Indeed, one can come away with just the opposite viewpoint that you espoused. One could take from Will’s comments that physical attractiveness has nothing to do with a person’s worthiness for celestial marriage and by extension, exaltation.

    Glenn

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  125. Douglas on January 1, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    #124 (Glenn, any relation to a White Sox Closer from the 90′s?)…good point. And so I believe that it was with the 19th century LDS that practiced Polygamy that most weren’t doing it to get more “action”. In the rough-and-tumble environment of the West, merely visiting a brothel (more openly tolerated EXCEPT in UT, but not entirely stamped out even there!) would have been cheaper and more discrete. Indeed, such behavior was typically winked at in genteel society. In viewing old photos of the Saint’s (plural) wives, it’s my own judgment, based on what I believe to be mainstream tastes, that the wives weren’t attractive enough to justify the trouble, were not the practice “commanded”. Of course, I can’t get into the minds of the respective parties. If they had happy families as a result, then there’s no reason they could not have been blessed in the eyes of the Lord. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I’m justifying behavior on superficial criteria. Not at all. Nor would, I suspect, either the ancient prophets like Abraham or the more recent prophets like JS and BY. Seems that they had much more to occupy their minds that merely getting their rocks off.

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  126. Brian on January 1, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Will, you are right about polygamy being a weak pick up line. Smith’s were much better. “It will ensure your exaltation and that of your family” was a good one as was “an angel with a sword was sent to kill me if I don’t do this”. Especially effective when used on 14 year old believers.

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  127. Cowboy on January 1, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    “The Bible is silent or sparse with information on many subjects, including polygamy. But it is evident that it was sanctioned by God. God certainly did not condemn Abraham because he took other wives, including Hagar.”

    You will notice that I already acknowledged that the bible seems to take it as matter of fact, that the polygamy was the common form of marriage. I made no debate about this. What the Bible does not do is reinforce the Mormon idea that polygamy was a “principle” that was taught. When Will refers to this, I take it that he is implying that Mormon doctrines of salvation based on Celestial (polygamy) marriage covenants, are supported by biblical teachings. This is incorrect. The Bible merely references polygamy making no qualification as to it’s role in salvation.

    “Although you say that Abraham’s treatment of Hagar was deplorable, he did it on the advice if not commandment of God, if you accept that Biblical account.”

    To be fair, I don’t put a lot of stock into biblical accounts of God’s dealings with man. Entertaining for a moment that I did however, does your explanation satisfy the morality of Abraham’s actions, or does it rather extend the immorality to even God? Justify it how you want, no person today would be justified in treating a wife this way. So much for Eternal covenants it would seem, to commitment to a spouse. Try as you might this is a very hard issue to reconcile without defaulting to “God is a mystery”.

    (quote from Will #120)
    “In other words, it appears some of the Old Testament prophets married these women out of obligation.”

    If I am reading too much into this comment, then I suppose I am at a loss. It seems to me that you and Will are arguing that Polygamy was God’s way of pushing for the shotgun-wedding. Either way, it acknowledges the notion that marriage is not about love, but rather some sort of unexplained obligation to women who Joseph Smith had not impregnated? That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Following this line of reason seems to naturally lead toward the conclusions that Joseph Smith came to, and that you and Will apparently endorse. This idea of rank among the wives. Why did Hagar have to leave? Was it because “God had a plan”? Well, that is debatable, but we can’t debate that the origin provided in the Genesis narrative was that of an irrational disagreement between wife superior (Sarah) and wife inferior (Hagar). Ishmael danced and “mocked” Isaac, so Sarah told Abraham to give her the boot. According to this narrative, along with your quoted verses, God supported this hierarchy and told Abraham to go ahead with it. I believe it was from these scriptures that the so-called “law of Sarah” was derived. That and Sarah’s role in choosing Hagar the to be Abrahams wife – though interestingly, no mention is made of Hagars opinion.

    So if this is your view on Women and marriage, that is your prerogative…but in my mind it puts sort of a different spin on Mormon Family Values. Even so, just defaulting to “God commanded it” begs the question for me, of what it means to call God “moral”, or to even speak of things such as “morals” or “values”.

    This seem

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  128. hawkgrrrl on January 1, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    Not condemning and sanctioning are two different things, IMO. It was a cultural practice, among nomadic people whose culture and society and way of life could not be more different from our own. It wasn’t even written about until nearly a thousand years after the fact. Did God sanction everything that he didn’t explicitly condemn? He certainly didn’t explicitly sanction it either.

    The wives gave their handmaids to their husbands when they couldn’t have children. First of all, they had handmaids, who were essentially female slaves or servants to them and had to do what they were told. This was so that they could have children vicariously through those women, not to put those women on equal footing with them. And the story of Rachel & Leah is just Laban deceiving future son-in-law Jacob to foist the unwanted and unloved older sister on him. These are extremely dysfunctional arrangements as evident throughout the OT. They don’t try to hide how impossible it was for the women to be happy or get along. They were constantly scheming and manipulating. Is that really how God wants marriages to work?

    The only beneficiary of this type of arrangement is the “patriarch” of the family, who instead of having one barren wife now gets a whole brood of offspring to work for the family’s interests. Jacob especially gets a huge payoff as he nets 12 sons (of varying quality), all of whom carry on his name and religion. So I can totally see the allure to a man, at least one living in an agrarian society where children were a financial boon rather than a financial burden. To a woman, there is no tangible benefit, especially if the additional wives aren’t even their slaves whose progeny become their own.

    I don’t see the parallel between OT polygamy and that of the early church except as it might benefit the male leaders who were allowed to practice it and glory in their dynastic offspring. There is no rationale that makes it beneficial to women of the early church, other than making their salvation contingent on it to encourage their compliance.

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  129. Glenn Thigpen on January 2, 2012 at 6:36 AM

    hawkgrrrl on 128

    It is true that sanctioning and not condemning are two different things, but I think I can show where God not only allowed but actually sanctioned the polygamy of the Old Testament, and in some cases commanded it.

    2 Samuel 12:8 Is a case where God gave David the wives of Saul after Saul’s death.

    8 And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.

    Doctrine and Covenants 132:39 just cooberates the narrative of 2 Samuel 12:8

    39 David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord.

    When the Law of Moses was given, a man whose brother had died without issue was commanded to take his brother’s wife as his own wife and the firstborn from that marriage was to counted as the dead man’s offspring.

    Deuteronomy 25:
    5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her chusband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.

    6 And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.

    “I don’t see the parallel between OT polygamy and that of the early church except as it might benefit the male leaders who were allowed to practice it and glory in their dynastic offspring. There is no rationale that makes it beneficial to women of the early church, other than making their salvation contingent on it to encourage their compliance.”

    Brigham Young recorded that William Law had made this statement in a council meeting where Joseph was supposedly talking about polygamy, “If an angel from heaven was to reveal to me that a man should have more than one wife, and if it were in my power I would kill him.” Might it be that William Law is in your family tree?

    But there is much more to the polygamy story than “dynastic offspring”. Look up the case of Ellen Purcell Unthank. This is not typical, but does show another aspect of polygamy.
    Also, we do have the writings of many of those women who were first approached by Joseph to become a plural wife. In each case they were told they would have their own witness. M. E. Lightner said she actually saw and received her witness from an angel.

    Glenn

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  130. hawkgrrrl on January 2, 2012 at 7:02 AM

    “Might it be that William Law is in your family tree?” No, my parents are converts.

    Yes, I agree I am not inclined to dismiss the witnesses that the women claimed they received. I can’t accept that polygamy is a divine institution either, but I accept that some women had sufficient spiritual evidence to participate. That gives me pause, yet I’m not in a position to receive such a spiritual witness myself (thank God, really!). The things I need a witness for, I have. The things I don’t, I don’t have.

    As for the OT, so much of it is suspect. God didn’t write it. And for the DC – we are taught that JS wrote what God told him to write. Given the content, some of it certainly seems very directly inspired, but a little bit of it seems to serve JS’s interests (while other parts take him to task). On the whole, I’m still not convinced polygamy isn’t just a human invention by men who believed it to be God’s will or their reward for rightenousness.

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  131. Ray on January 2, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    When it comes to the OT, “as far as it is translated correctly” is a key for me – and it gives me a LOT of latitude in how I read much of that part of our scriptures.

    If you’re interested:

    “Translated Technically Includes Transmitted”
    (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2011/05/translated-technically-includes.html)

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  132. Brad on January 2, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    Concerning polygamy as a divine instition, it all began to fall apart for me when I actually read section 132, and tried to reconcile that with how polygamy actually ocurred. Just to review:

    v61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

    Is there ANY evidence that Joseph asked for Emma’s permission to take on other wives? Actually, no worries, since God gave Joseph an ‘out’:

    v.65 Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife.

    I haven’t even touched on the repulsive nature of how women are treated as property in this section. I mean, come on, who still talks about virgins, and giving and trading them to men?

    We really don’t read this section much anymore. When we do, it’s just to highlight the supposed focus on eternal marriage. But reading the section all the way through, including the summary heading, makes me realize that eternal (monogamous) marriage is just a footnote. It’s sole purpose was to justify polygamy.

    So yeah, I’m a little sore that I’m supposed to have 100% faith that polygamy was God’s will, and whatever was done by Joseph Smith was sanctioned by Him. All this despite the majority of evidence that points to less virtuous reasons.

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  133. Will on January 2, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    Cowboy,

    I said ” I don’t understand that doctrine and to me most people that have a problem with polygamy look at it from a sexual perspective, which is totally stupid.”

    I would include myself in the group of people that have a problem with the practice as I can’t help but look at it from a sexual prospective. Also, I am judging them by current standards and could not imagine myself being married to any of them, especially when compared to my wife.

    As for the standards of the day, apparently Mark Twain shared a similar view of the situation as mine, referring to Brigham Young as a saint for taking on the wives he did. I was looking for his quote in my notes, if I find it I will post it.

    All told, I think I am in agreement with you on this issue. They have a right to be loved and cared for just like anyone else, I just dont think I could do it. More importantly, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for polygamy. With that said, when my GG Grand Father was asked by Brigham Young to take on my GG Grand Mother, hiscurrent wife wanted to kill her. She hated her for years. I just don’t think it should be thus way, IMO.

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  134. Will on January 2, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    Cowboy,

    Oh, as for your comment about Abraham, God (knowing his relationship with Hagar) referred to him as “perfect in his generation”

    This goes to my overall commentary, we forget these people are men. Prophets yes, but still men. They make mistakes just like you and I. I do think some in the LDS faith elevate Joseph Smith to something more than he is. IMO, he was given the mission of the restoration, which he did under Gods direction. I can’t deny the spirit I feel (and felt) regarding the books (fruits) he brought forth as evidence of his mission.

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  135. Howard on January 2, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    I don’t think polygamy can be understood as long as we are selfish possessive beings. I lived most of my adult life outside of the church and on two occasions lasting years each I enjoyed multiple partners. The first was largely lust driven and immature and like the early church’s experience it didn’t go very well. The second occasion was later in life we were older more mature and it was largely jealously free close and connected relationships without secrets it was much more about loving relationships than sexual variety and while it is not for everyone it worked very well for all who stayed. I think polygamy was commanded in part to teach selflessness.

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  136. Cowboy on January 2, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    Fair enough Will – I’m familiar with the Twain quote, so no need to find it. As I said, I can’t pretend to know exactly what was going through Joseph’s mind, but I am still not compelled into believing that he was just following orders. As you are aware, I don’t reall adhere to the authority of the Bible, so God’s pronouncements about Abraham don’t carry a lot of weight with me. As a religious narrative I think the OT, and even some of the NT, teaches an outdated form of ethics. I think we have progressed quite nicely since then.

    Howard:

    Your comments on “selfishness” seem to be on par with how many polygamists frame their defenses as well. Let’s be honest, if you follow that line of reason to conclusion you will ultimately be implying that the Celestial Kingdom is nothing more than a hippie free-love commune. You even seem to go their literally by appealing to your experience. If this is what you believe, then fine. Still, you have to acknowledge that nothing could be further from the views of the contemporary Church “values”. How do you reconcile?

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  137. Howard on January 2, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    Cowboy,
    Let’s be honest, if you follow that line of reason to conclusion you will ultimately be implying that the Celestial Kingdom is nothing more than a hippie free-love commune. This is false and shows that you have little understanding of mature selfless love or my line of reason. What are the views of the contemporary Church in this regard?

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  138. hawkgrrrl on January 2, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    No doubt, complying with polygamy, especially if you are a woman with very little to gain from it and everything to lose, will require a lot of selflessness. So will submitting to domestic abuse long-term without retaliating and with a heart full of forgiveness, but I still don’t think it’s a good idea. It’s certainly not doing any favors to the abuser or helping people achieve their ultimate potential except in terms of being long-suffering.

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  139. Howard on January 2, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    Hawk,
    Domestic abuse has nothing to do with mature selfless love or my comments.

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  140. Cowboy on January 2, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    Howard:

    You can use whatever words you want to describe an unselfish “mature” love based on multiple partners, but it’s just semantics. At the end of the day your just extrapolating in the same way the hippies did. In your case however, rather than play it down in a casual kind of friends that f…well…do it, you are suggesting your concept is based on commnunity love. After all, besides laying down your life for a friendn, what could be more selfless than sharing in an intimate sex culture of free-love where everyone eschews selfishly discrete pairs? Right? Isn’t that sort of how the logic goes? I am being selfish by not wishing to share my wife with anyone else? I see her as a portion of property, and could never be fully consecrated to the society with separating from my character that unholy selfishness.

    Paint it with all flattering language you can think of my friend, but your one step shy of expanding your mind by “tripping on acid”, following that logic.

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  141. hawkgrrrl on January 2, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    Howard, you are justifying polygamy on the “it builds character” argument because it makes people less selfish. I am merely pointing out that lots of things require selflessness that are not actually good for us, and that selflessness isn’t the only virtue. If you set aside the selflessnes argument, what are the other fruits of polygamy? Let’s assume everyone is selfless in polygamy and communitarian in their thinking avoiding jealousy, manipulation, bickering, and favoritism (a tall order given the inherent dysfunction of the arrangement).

    There was an excellent Dialogue article several years back (I believe Eugene England wrote it) talking about the problem with a belief in eventual eternal polygamy being superficiality in our relationships; people invest less in their marriages and have less emotional intimacy, and they also are less choosy in selecting a marriage partner because theoretically anyone worthy could be arbitrarily assigned as a marriage partner. Why focus on deepening a relationship with someone when you would be sharing their affections for eternity rather than growing together? This is a byproduct of this line of thinking, whether it is intended or not.

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  142. GBSmith on January 2, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    Most of what we believe about polygamy and it’s affects comes from stories and anecdotes. Mine comes from reading Annie Clark Tanner’s autobiography, “A Mormon Mother”. Eleanor Roosevelt said once that she could never read it without weeping. Some people managed what they felt was a positive outcome for themselves but as far as I’m concerned it was a tragic mistake that did did damage that is still ongoing. It changed the society of those who participated into a matriarchy with the minimal presence of a father and made for limited to absent financial and emotional support. I am embarrassed to recall the things I told people about first wife’s permission and providing support when I was a missionary and that it only amounted to just a few percent.

    The only way I can get past all this is to just tell myself that this isn’t the same church as then and literally, thank God for that.

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  143. Howard on January 2, 2012 at 10:56 PM

    Cowboy calling it semantics and relating it to hippies suggests you have no knowledge to relate to the life experience I shared in 135. I implied nothing about commnunity love. No that isn’t how the logic goes and “tripping on acid” is pretty condescending.

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  144. Cowboy on January 2, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    Howard:

    You are purposely evasive about the subject. You have already layed down your cards when you bragged about your multiple partner relationships, and then made a correlation to the selflessness learned in polygamy.

    You can color your description with any flattering adjectives you would like, but so far I think it is clear that in the market place of ideas, this one just fails.

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  145. Howard on January 2, 2012 at 11:22 PM

    hawkgrrrl,
    Accepting domestic abuse clearly isn’t about selfless love it’s about psychologically dysfunctional behavior.

    I’m not defending polygamy I related to it via. sharing my personal experience. Please support your claim of “inherent” dysfunction. I would argue that it is not when practiced among enlightened consenting adults capable of informed consent and that the problems encountered with it relate to the current immaturity of humankind rather than something inherently eternally wrong with the concept. Further in my view the concept as we know it is likely an interim step toward something more as I touched on in 52 else why cases of adoption and polyandry?

    Humankind is capable of greater enlightenment than it’s current low level was Christ selfish jealous or possessive? I think it’s important to look ahead toward greater enlightenment when attempting to judge eternal principals.

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  146. Howard on January 2, 2012 at 11:26 PM

    Cowboy please support your claim of bragging.

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  147. hawkgrrrl on January 2, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    Howard: “Please support your claim of “inherent” dysfunction.” I did already by citing the examples from the OT and from the early church as well as the Eugene England article in Dialogue.

    “I would argue that it is not when practiced among enlightened consenting adults capable of informed consent and that the problems encountered with it relate to the current immaturity of humankind rather than something inherently eternally wrong with the concept.” I disagree.

    “Further in my view the concept as we know it is likely an interim step toward something more as I touched on in 52 else why cases of adoption and polyandry?” My own view is that sealing the whole human family together in love is a non-sexual, charitable, communal relationship. Sexual relationships that are not monogamous are always damaging in the long term to one of the parties. Even many monogamous relationships are dysfunctional and immature, so multiplying that times more people and more connections only makes it harder to succeed.

    “Humankind is capable of greater enlightenment than it’s current low level” No doubt.

    “was Christ selfish jealous or possessive?” Was Christ a polygamist?

    “I think it’s important to look ahead toward greater enlightenment when attempting to judge eternal principals.” So, in your view, polygamy is an eternal principle. In my view, it is not. We can disagree on this, and when we are dead, we’ll see who’s right. Calling something an eternal principle is an inherent judgment – exempting it from critical review. That’s not a good practice, IMO. The truth can withstand scrutiny.

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  148. Cowboy on January 2, 2012 at 11:46 PM

    Howard:

    Your words are documented. We can let it stand at that.

    You’re on your own with this one.

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  149. Howard on January 2, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    hawkgrrrl,
    Sexual relationships that are not monogamous are always damaging in the long term to one of the parties. You’ve stated this as an absolute. Please explain why you think this is absolutely true and support your claim.

    It was offered as an eternal principal was it not? If we wish to test that perhaps we should include the possibility of humankind becoming more enlightened before we call it inherently flawed.

    Cowboy,
    Whatever.

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  150. Cowboy on January 3, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    Howard:

    Indeed!

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  151. hawkgrrrl on January 3, 2012 at 12:38 AM

    Relationships are about trust. Marital relationships are also intimate. How can you be fully trusting and intimate with more than one person? Even with one it is nearly impossible. How does the pillow talk work? How do people confide in each other and be open emotionally to each other? How do you invest fully in the relationship when you know it is not equal?

    I also am not clear what type of polygamous relationship you mean. Are you asking about polygyny (as practiced in the early church) or about multi-partner polyamory? Either way, the more connections, the more difficult trust and intimacy will be to establish and maintain: inherent dysfunction.

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  152. Douglas on January 3, 2012 at 1:02 AM

    Hawk – pointing out the sexual and emotional dynamics of a polygamous marriage with all the potential pitfalls, though a good study in and of itself, is irrelevant to the main question: WAS IT ORDAINED OF THE LORD, or NOT? The failures of the respective parties to live up to their covenants doesn’t invalidate the commandment or its Giver. If Polygamy was NOT of the Lord, then however well it might have been managed is also irrelevant, it’d still be aberrant behavior.
    I’ll stick to practicing serial monogamy. The worst pitfall is alimony and child support payments.

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  153. hawkgrrrl on January 3, 2012 at 1:10 AM

    Douglas, I’ve answered that. I do not believe it was ordained of the Lord nor that it is an eternal principle, but I don’t have to believe it. Those that practiced it did believe it; if they didn’t believe it (or receive a spiritual witness), they didn’t practice it. I won’t be asked to practice it, so I don’t need to believe it.

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  154. Howard on January 3, 2012 at 4:27 AM

    How can you be fully trusting and intimate with more than one person? If each of your relationships are truly intimate meaning mentally emotionally sexually and perhaps even spiritually trust comes far more from connection which is real time feedback each time the couple interacts rather than from commitment which is a promise to be trustworthy into the future. With connection you always know where you stand and they with you. Trustworthy regarding what? That your partner won’t “cheat”? Why? Because you are insecure in their love and probably in yourself and possessive you believe that if they are with someone else they don’t love you! The truth is you are not safe from these problems with commitment it is an illusion even a ritualized slight of hand. It is possible to truly love more than one person at a time although generally this appears to be much easier for men than women. The pillow talk far exceeds monogamous pillow talk because of the intimate level of connection required to make this arrangement work. It is this on-going high level intimate connection that both women and men benefit from in the arrangement and it requires selflessness from both as well.

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  155. hawkgrrrl on January 3, 2012 at 6:47 AM

    Trust is not just about trusting that your partner won’t cheat. It’s about being willing to share your thoughts, hopes and dreams with that person, to open up and believe you will be accepted. When you introduce multiple partners into that, you create a competitive dynamic that doesn’t need to exist. When there is but one partner, that person is first, the one to whom you are most loyal, whose best interests you always have at heart. When there are multiple individuals in that role, there is always jockeying for position and vying for love, favoritism and acceptance that is the norm in monogamy. Does it have to be that way? I can’t say. But that’s normal group dynamics. That’s why alliances on Survivor are two people; more than that can’t form successful alliances.

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  156. Cowboy on January 3, 2012 at 6:59 AM

    Playing second fiddle to Hawkgrrrl’s recent comment, Jesus said that no man can serve two masters….

    So, why would it be any different in marriage? Arguing that this free-love, or “network” for Howards benefit, is a higher order of enlightenment, leaves much to be desired. Who say’s people can really interact this way? Secondly, if it is not about the sex, then why not leave sex out of it? This seems like a logical way of handling things, theredore I would argue that this “network” really is about the the sex. Else, how much difference is there from any tight knit community?

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  157. GBSmith on January 3, 2012 at 8:31 AM

    The fact is that intimacy, trust and a relationship in the sense we think of it had nothing to do with polygamy as it was practiced then. I think it was Emmaline B. Wells that roundly condemned the idea of romance and love in marriage. People joined themselves together because they were commanded to with the idea of raising posterity to insure exaltation. The outcome in mortality, unfortunately, was something far different. We seem to think that the FLDS situation is removed from us but the fact is that JS, BY, and JT especially with his vision of Christ and JS saying that the principle was never to be rescinded are responsible for what’s happened to them. For me I don’t believe any of it was ordained of God.

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  158. Bob on January 3, 2012 at 8:46 AM

    #157: GBSmith,
    Do you believe Marriage is “Ordained of God”?

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  159. Howard on January 3, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    It’s about being willing to share your thoughts, hopes and dreams with that person, to open up and believe you will be accepted. Absolutely and that is what takes place. you create a competitive dynamic…there is…jockeying for position and vying for love This may or may not exist In my experience it often did somewhat in the beginning but as each partner feels loved and cherished it quickly fades. This is another example of an immature trait that you assume must exist in people.

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  160. Howard on January 3, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    Sex plays a role if we didn’t like sex why would we procreate? Sex is the incentive and may be God’s incentive to entice immature people to learn how to love one another at the higher level of selflessness rather than out of selfish need. It may be a way of evolving people toward enlightenment and oneness.

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  161. Cowboy on January 3, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    “Sex is the incentive and may be God’s incentive to entice immature people to learn how to love one another at the higher level of selflessness rather than out of selfish need.”

    If we are going to play the “maybe game” then maybe sex is the incentive to theologically contrive a “networking” of sexual partners where a person can shack up with as many partners as they choose without taking personal responsibility for any one partner. Maybe? I think this is particularly true for women. I am not going to make the mistake in suggesting that women don’t have a tendency to want to be promiscuous like men, but perhaps on account of the stakes being higher for them with sexual non-committment, women tend to be more sexually apprehensive than men. In order for a seemingly rational woman to participate in such shenanigans it takes a powerful motivator, ie, the promises and guarantees of Eternal happiness from an alleged Prophet.

    Of course, we are now just back to arguing whether Joseph Smith was pursuing polygamy for his own purposes, or whether he was truly commanded by God. We all have our opinions, and of course none of them can be proven. Still, I find it noteworthy that God was supposedly unrestrained in coercing polygamy through manifestations of either heralding or sword drawn angels, offering the highest rewards and guarantees, only to become so casual about the matter after political forces became unbearable. If nothing else, this observation casts the whole matter under a cloud of suspicion.

    I asked earlier how one could reconcile “network marriages” with the Church’s current teachings. I suppose you are going to play a safety and suggest that the Church has never specifically spoken against the Celestial notion of network marriage. Of course you would be right, and yet only technically so. Still, you are then implicitly arguing (assuming this is your view) that they are intentionally disingenuous to the convert, and community by fronting a victorian model of marriage without disclosing for doctrines sake, the Celstial model.

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  162. Howard on January 3, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    In order for a seemingly rational woman to participate in such shenanigans it takes a powerful motivator, ie, the promises and guarantees of Eternal happiness from an alleged Prophet. This conclusion ignores the personal experience I shared about the only powerful motivator I offered was a close connected loving relationship. Not everyone accepted but many did.

    The church got itself into a whole lot of trouble over attempting to live plural marriage even after the state attempted to stop it and were less than candid about leading to the corporation being dissolved assets seized and more about to be seized they retreated using a Victorian model of marriage for cover. A better question is if it was not commanded of God why did they risk all of this before finally changing course?

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  163. Cowboy on January 3, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    “This conclusion ignores the personal experience I shared about the only powerful motivator I offered was a close connected loving relationship.”

    Yes it does, I am doubtful about your experience and how representative it would be as a comprehensive model. What more can we say than that?

    “A better question is if it was not commanded of God why did they risk all of this before finally changing course?”

    It’s not a better question because they didn’t risk any of those things. Rather, they changed the policy so as not to risk those things. That relegates your question then to “why did they practice polygamy” at all? We can only guess, though I am with you in that I have a hard time seeing as how you can separate it as a doctrine while not also separating those who taught it, from their supposed authority. I just choose to throw out both polygamy and those who taught it.

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  164. GBSmith on January 3, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    “Bob on January 3, 2012 at 8:46 AM
    #157: GBSmith,
    Do you believe Marriage is “Ordained of God”?”

    Marriage yes, the Principle, no.

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  165. Nick Literski on January 3, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    #105:
    I do support the General Authorities on the “The Family: A proclamation to the World”. I do accept that homosexual activity is a sin in the eyes of God as set down in the Old Testament, reiterated in the New Testament, and by latter day prophets.

    You’re quite welcome to whatever doctines you wish to embrace, Glenn. What other non-criminal acts do you consider so “sinful” that you feel “righteous” in judging the actor unworthy of the legal rights you enjoy?

    (As for the rest of your comment, you’re missing the point—it’s about the judgment</b you're rendering to rationalize a denial of civil rights. It's not about the rights themselves.)

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  166. Nick Literski on January 3, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    #109:
    Religious bigotry seemed to be the original fuel for the fire against the LDS. There was an account in 1836 of one LDS preacher being beaten just because he was an LDS preacher.

    Whose account, Glenn? I’ve heard a man claim he didn’t get a job or promotion “just because he was a man.” Such a claim generally comes from either a persecution complex or the sort of self-deception that simply insists on finding some outside source to blame for one’s mistakes. The hiring manager may have quite a different story.

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  167. Henry on January 3, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    Nick:
    A power bigger than you or me has set up the concept of what sin is and the penalties set for for indulging in it. Humans have no power to re-define what sin is.

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  168. Nick Literski on January 3, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    #108:
    I would encourage you to follow the same path and promise. It enlarged by soul and enlightened my mind. I would add you cannot solve a spiritual equation by secular means, or you will be as the Apostle Paul said ‘ever learning but never able to come to knowledge of the truth’.

    I did exactly what you describe, Will! It took several years for that prayer to be fully answered, but the answer certainly did come—I was provided with ample evidence from a variety of historical, archaelogical, scientific, and spiritual sources to establish that The Book of Mormon is entirely fictional. I’d hate to limit deity’s ability to answer prayers to a simple “warm fuzzy or no warm fuzzy.”

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  169. Glenn Thigpen on January 3, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Nick in 165 said: “You’re quite welcome to whatever doctines you wish to embrace, Glenn. What other non-criminal acts do you consider so “sinful” that you feel “righteous” in judging the actor unworthy of the legal rights you enjoy?”

    I did not realize that we are free to select which doctrines that we adhere to and which we disregard.

    But I am not missing the point at all. Your interjection of gay rights is irrelevant to this discussion.

    As I noted in a previous post, provide us with a proper forum and I will be glad to engage you in a discussion. I am not going to derail this one.

    Glenn

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  170. Nick Literski on January 3, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    I did not realize that we are free to select which doctrines that we adhere to and which we disregard.

    That’s not what I asked you, Glenn. I asked which other non-criminal acts you believe to be so “sinful,” that you (or Mr. Monson, for that matter) are “righteous” in judging the alleged “sinners” unworthy of enjoying the same legal rights that you enjoy.

    So which is it, Glenn? Heterosexual adultery? Hmmm…that would take out a lot of LDS, even if they’ve “repented” like Newt Gingrich. Oppressing the hireling in his wages? Failing to pay a “full” tithing to the LDS church? Speak up, Glenn! Clearly you have strong feelings about what is “righteous” judgment—we just want to understand them better!

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  171. Glenn Thigpen on January 3, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Nick, I’m not biting. Have fun.

    Glenn

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  172. Nick Literski on January 3, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    That’s fine, Glenn. The open hypocricy of your “thou shalt not judge (but only because it’s about Joseph Smith, or maybe Martin Luther King)” stance certainly speaks for itself.

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  173. Howard on January 3, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Nick,
    As you know I support gay rights. I love your on topic participation in this thread I think you’ve added much to the discussion but gay rights is clearly off topic here and Glenn has declined to banter with you more than once.

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  174. Nick Literski on January 3, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Thanks, Howard. While I used that as an example, it’s not central to what I was asking him. It’s really just this game of apologists crying “You can’t judge” when it gets awkward for them to defend Joseph Smith’s actions. Unless you’re willing to extend the same non-judgement toward all, it rings hollow to use it in defense of your religious hero de jour. That said, Glenn has made it clear he’s not going to extend his non-judgement beyond Joseph Smith or Martin Luther King (I guess the latter is to appear non-racist, though nobody accused him of racism?), so there’s no point in trying further to give him opportunity to do so.

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  175. FireTag on January 3, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    A three person marriage with sex is perfectly stable, as long as two of the same gender are bi-sexual, or all three are of, and attracted to, the same sex. :D

    Give it up, Howard. You lost.

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  176. Howard on January 3, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    Sorry Fire Tag I don’t see how your comment relates to the heterosexual relationships I used as an example please illuminate me.

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  177. Howard on January 3, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    Unless you’re willing to extend the same non-judgement toward all, it rings hollow to use it in defense of your religious hero de jour. This argument makes sense but I think it got lost in your zeal.

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  178. Glenn Thigpen on January 3, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    Nick Literski on January 3, 2012 at 5:00 PM
    “Thanks, Howard. While I used that as an example, it’s not central to what I was asking him. It’s really just this game of apologists crying “You can’t judge” when it gets awkward for them to defend Joseph Smith’s actions. Unless you’re willing to extend the same non-judgement toward all, it rings hollow to use it in defense of your religious hero de jour. That said, Glenn has made it clear he’s not going to extend his non-judgement beyond Joseph Smith or Martin Luther King (I guess the latter is to appear non-racist, though nobody accused him of racism?), so there’s no point in trying further to give him opportunity to do so.”

    Nick, You are making an argument comparing apples and oranges.
    In the case of Joseph Smith and Martin Luther King both, I am just saying that we do not have enough facts to really make an informed judgement on whether either of them committed sin or crime X.

    This same type of reasoning I try to apply to other similar situations. I am a bit amused by your take on my Martin Luther King example. “I guess the latter is to appear non-racist”. I guess that I just can’t win, because no matter what example I can dredge up, you will always be able to ascribe another motive to it than the one I put forth. I actually chose MLK as an example of the things that I have learned about judging without the facts to see just what your reaction would be.
    I am sad to say that you did disappoint me.

    I will end my engagement with you by expressing the sentiment that disagreement about a certain subject does not make either party a hypocrite. If you feel that I am being hypocritical etc. that is your right. But fortunately, you will not be my eternal judge, nor will I you.
    I will read whatever comment you wish to make beyond this, but I will not respond further.

    I sincerely hope that you have a good life.

    Glenn

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  179. Winifred on January 5, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    Nick:
    Why are you promoting homosexuality on an LDS blog? Society should not promote or condone this. Those nations and people doing so will see that everything bears fruit according to it’s own kind and the consequences will be tragic. Have you considered Evergreen International? Their philosophy is that no one is born gay.

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  180. Cowboy on January 5, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    Winifred:

    How would homosexuals Bear fruit?

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  181. Ray on January 5, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    Evergreen International is WRONG – and the LDS Church doesn’t even make that claim anymore.

    Everyone, PLEASE, let’s not feed that particular threadjack. Let’s let it drop as the uninformed statement it is.

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  182. Henry on January 6, 2012 at 4:55 AM

    Ray:
    And many people are just as convinced that they are correct. So who wins?

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  183. hawkgrrrl on January 6, 2012 at 5:27 AM

    Truth wins. It just gives error the open mic first.

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