Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Glenn Beck, "Restoring Honor," Christianity and Mormonism

Excerpts of FAIR's Front Page for Tues 31 Aug 2010, FAIR

Beck's marriage of politics and religion raising questions
Washington Post - 6 hours ago
...Conservative Christian talk radio was crackling with debate about Beck's Mormonism. Religious progressives were assailing his attacks on President Obama's Christianity. Scholars of religion and politics were analyzing Beck's evangelical-like talk of being saved from drug and alcohol addiction. Some pastor-bloggers were bemoaning what they consider the conflation of celebrity, politics and spirituality.

"Politically, everyone is with it, but theologically, when he says the country should turn back to God, the question is: Which God?" said Tom Tradup, vice president for news and talk at Salem Radio Network,which serves more than 2,000 stations, most of them Christian. "How much of this is turning to God? How much is religious revival and how much is a snake oil medicine show?"...


Glenn Beck's ecumenical moment

Los Angeles Times - 5 hours ago
...But the partisan implications of the rally really aren't that interesting. One striking feature was how deeply religious, and ecumenical, it was. It seems like just yesterday that everyone was talking about how Christian evangelicals were too bigoted to vote for the upright and uptight Mormon, Mitt Romney. Yet Christians saw no problem cheering for -- and praying with -- the equally Mormon, but far less uptight, Beck, who asked citizens to go to "your churches, synagogues and mosques!"...


Elmer Smith: Let's go back ... way Beck
Philadelphia Daily News - 5 hours ago

THOUSANDS of pilgrims who once wandered in darkness were led to the light Saturday by God's man of the airwaves. At least, that's what happened at the "Restoring Honor" rally, to hear Glenn Beck tell it.
"For too long, this country has wandered in darkness," Beck told a crowd estimated at between 87,000 and a half million.

Not to worry, though. The anointed one has set us on a right path. "America today turns back to God," he declared. That was a load off my mind, until the next day when Beck turned back to his original calling, beating up on President Obama.

On "Fox News Sunday," he preached that the president "understands the world through liberation theology, which is oppressor and victim. . . . It's a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ as most Christians know it."

Now that's the Glenn Beck we have come to know and, ahh . . . . Well, anyway, we know him.

His real messianic mission is to lead his people back to an America that all of them seem to remember wistfully, if inaccurately. Whenever I hear one of these sign-waving, anti-Obama zealots say that they want to take their country back, my question is: How far?

What is it that they want to go back to: a simpler time when "real" Americans all worshipped the same way on the same day, or to those longed-for days of yore when men who looked like Barack Obama knew their place, which was not in the Oval Office...


PRUDEN: Nursing a hangover from a 'tea party'
Washington Times - 15 hours ago
...But not everything was benign. Mr. Beck, a recent Mormon convert, couldn't resist taking a poke at what he imagines are the president's religious beliefs, accusing him of advocating liberation theology. "You see," he told the hundreds of thousands, "it's all about victims and victimhood, oppressors and the oppressed; reparations, not repentance; collectivism, not individual salvation. I don't know what that is, other than it's not Muslim, it's not Christian. It's a perversion of Jesus Christ as most Christians know it."

These were curious remarks, pointedly excluding Jews and others dissenting from the Gospel. Mr. Beck's own faith is not accepted as Christian by many of the evangelicals who make up a large part of his constituency. A Pew Poll taken during the 2008 presidential campaign found that nearly half of evangelical Christians do not believe that Mormons are Christians. Mitt Romney found that his Mormon faith was a decided handicap in 2008, when there was wide speculation among politicians of both parties that as the Republican nominee he would find tough going in most of the Southern states that have become the Republican stronghold...


Beck: Most Americans Don't Recognize Obama's Christianity
Gospel Herald - 12 hours ago

...Ironically, Beck's theology has also been a point of debate - especially as the broadcaster's popularity among conservatives continues to rise.

When Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., tapped Beck to address its graduating class a few months back, officials at the evangelical school were strongly criticized for the move as Beck had "settled on Mormonism" - formally the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - in 1999 after marrying his second wife.

While Mormon conservatives, socially, are comparable to their evangelical counterparts, theologically, they are worlds apart.

Aside from rejecting the Trinity and their belief in many gods, Mormons believe their prophet, Joseph Smith, was "the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam," according to the Mormons' History of the Church...


Christians Welcome
By Joe Klein

TIME - 15 hour ago‎

By the way, Glenn Beck--whose unfamiliarity with the teachings of Jesus, especially the beatitudes, seems profound--has the gall to proclaim (inaccurately) and question Barack Obama's religious beliefs? I mean, as a member of a sect that has been and still is subject to deep prejudice, doesn't Beck get how obnoxious that is? (See Michael Scherer's post above for an example of anti-Mormon prejudice.)

If Jesus were around today, he might say that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a telecharlatan to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.


What we know about Beck's Black Robe Regiment
Media Matters for America - 15 hours ago
This weekend, Glenn Beck announced the re-creation of a revolutionary force called the Black Robe Regiment. At his Restoring Honor rally on Saturday, Beck claimed that "our churches have fallen asleep" and that the "thousands of clergy" in the Regiment who subscribe to his particular views on the role of religion in American life, will "start the heart of this nation again and put it where it belongs: our heart with God."

On his radio show this morning, Beck delved into a little more detail about how the group was formed and who, exactly, some of these members of the Regiment are...


Mormons, Evangelicals and Glenn Beck
New York Times - 15 hours ago

...Latter Day Saints and evangelical Christians arguably share enough affinities to belong in the same "cultural family," as Weigel puts it. But you're more likely to find them in competition, from the streets of American suburbia to the mission fields of the developing world to the 2008 election's great Mike Huckabee-Mitt Romney throwdown. It's a case of theological differences trumping cultural commonalities: The two faiths occupy opposite sides of a theological chasm that makes the gulf between Catholics and Protestants look narrow by comparison, and many evangelicals bristle with hostility for what they regard as Mormonism's cultish pseudo-Christianity...

Beck is No 'Christian' Leader
By Rev. Alan Rudnick
Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa

Albany Times Union - 16 hours ago‎
"God's light is not showing us this path. It's showing us where we're headed. It's a lighthouse, guiding the ship. And the lighthouse is on solid rock." - Glenn Beck, Divine Destiny speech, August 2010

Having watched the "Restoring Honor" rally on the Mall in Washington D.C., I say with confidence I'm very vexed and even confused by Glenn Beck's notions of "God" and "faith."   If millions of people want to follow a man who claims to know "the path" to restoring American through through Mormonism's god, then count me out...


Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin Are Restoring Dishonor to America
By Judge H. Lee Sarokin
Retired in 1966 after 17 years on the federal bench

Huffington Post - 16 hours ago

Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are constantly talking about restoring our Constitution. They want to get our Constitution back. I did not know that it had gone away. They have created this aura that since Barack Obama was inaugurated somehow our Forefathers have been affronted. Aside from the crazies who claim that President Obama was born in Kenya and is not a citizen, and therefore sits in the presidency in violation of the Constitution, I am at a loss to know what it is they are talking about. Other than the health care legislation, which faces a legitimate challenge on the basis that it requires all citizens to buy insurance and does not come within the power of Congress to tax, I know of no other claim, no less a legitimate one, that the current administration has violated the Constitution...


Glenn Beck And Obama's Christianity
NPR - 17 hours ago

SIEGEL: Glenn Beck is a Mormon. Is that brand of Christianity as distant or more so from yours than the National Council of Churches mainline Protestantism ...

Glenn Beck, the Faithful, and the Second Coming
By D. Michael Lindsay Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of sociology, Rice University
Huffington Post - 17 hours ago
...This relativizing/sacralizing of actions is precisely why evangelicals are so successful in American politics. Ever since Pat Robertson mobilized millions of them for his failed presidential bid, evangelicals have been faithful foot soldiers in the Republican army. As I found when researching my book, Faith in the Halls of Power, they feel a sense of calling to political involvement, but when they lose political races, they bounce back incredibly fast. In fact, they shake loose of political defeatism much faster than their liberal counterparts do. Why? Because their sense of moral obligation does not include final responsibility for the outcome. They leave that part to God. This was precisely Max Weber's point in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. European Calvinists worked hard and reinvested their capital to build more ventures, but ultimately, they trusted the profits to God. This surrender, in turn, granted them
a good bit of freedom from existential angst, which allowed them to become highly effective capitalists.

America today begins to turn back to God. In his second declaration, Beck's confidence is expressed by the use of the active, present tense. This is not a jeremiad against an America that "ought to turn back to God" or that "will turn back or else pay the price." Instead, Beck simply reports with the swagger of an evangelist that already we are witnessing a societal transformation. A number of evangelical leaders--especially those of the old guard (such as James Dobson)--opine about the kinds of cultural changes currently afoot. More Americans are becoming religiously unaffiliated (the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life pegs the latest figure at 16 percent, which is up ten percentage points over the last decade), and a growing number of people are accepting the validity of homosexual unions, including, scholars say, younger evangelicals...


Heads I Win, Tails You Lose
Wall Street Journal - 17 hours ago‎
Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally seems to have been quite the success, drawing a crowd in the hundreds of thousands by most reckonings. "In other Washington rally news," observes humorist Jim Treacher of The Daily Caller, "Al Sharpton has gone from the Million Man March to the Dozen Dude Dud."

It was billed as an apolitical event, yet it was a political event, a puzzle for the New York Times's Ross Douthat:

The most striking thing about "Restoring Honor" was the way the pageant effortlessly tapped into the same rich vein of identity politics that has given us figures as diverse as Palin and Howard Dean, George W. Bush and Barack Obama--but did so, somehow, without advancing any explicitly political agenda. . . .
In a sense, Beck's "Restoring Honor" was like an Obama rally through the looking glass. It was a long festival of affirmation for middle-class white Christians--square, earnest, patriotic and religious. If a speaker had suddenly burst out with an Obama-esque "we are the ones we've been waiting for," the message would have fit right in.
But whereas Obama wouldn't have been Obama if he weren't running for president, Beck's packed, three-hour jamboree was floated entirely on patriotism and piety, with no "get thee to a voting booth" message...


The Gospel According To St. Beck, Chapters 10-?
The Moderate Voice - 18 hours ago

...He is a carnival barker, Elmer Gantry and a voice of his vision of God all rolled up for the price of one. Oh, he is also rewriting U.S. history that smacks heavily of a socialist plot by Progressives who want to rule America if not the world...


Glenn Beck and white self-pity
Atlanta Journal Constitution - 28 hours ago
For many of my readers, the most salient trait I have is one I had nothing to do with: the color of my skin. Whether I mention race in a post is unimportant. Many of my commenters will mention it for me.

Given that, I call attention to the fact that the words I recommend to your attention in this post were written by a white man, Christopher Hitchens, who is moderately conservative. He has some interesting things to say about the weekend's Beck rally, which he calls the "Waterworld of white self-pity":

One crucial element of the American subconscious is about to become salient and explicit and highly volatile. It is the realization that white America is within thinkable distance of a moment when it will no longer be the majority. . .
Until recently, the tendency has been to think of this rather than to speak of it--or to speak of it very delicately, lest the hard-won ideal of diversity be imperiled. But nobody with any feeling for the zeitgeist can avoid noticing the symptoms of white unease and the additionally uneasy forms that its expression is beginning to take...


Glenn Beck launches conservative news site TheBlaze.com

Washington Post - 1 hour ago

Conservative Fox News host Glenn Beck, a frequent critic of the mainstream news media, has launched his own news site, The Blaze. The site appears to be modeled after The Huffington Post and not surprisingly, features stories with a conservative bent about some of Beck's favorite issues, such as faith, terrorism, the imam behind the planned Islamic community center in New York City and Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday...


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mormons give Obama lowest rating

Mormons give Obama lowest ratingBy Thomas Burr, The Salt Lake Tribune

Washington • Mormons give President Barack Obama the lowest approval ratings of any religious group, according to a new poll underscoring the faith's conservative bent.

A Gallup survey released Friday shows only 24 percent of LDS faithful approve of the president's job performance, down from 43 percent a year ago. Mormons have consistently given Obama his lowest ratings among religious groups, according to Gallup polls dating to the beginning of his presidency.

The slide of support among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is more pronounced than with Catholics, Protestants, Jews and other religious believers in America, the poll shows.

Read the entire article here

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Zaitchik, "Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance" (reviewed by Vickie Cleverley Speek)


Title: Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance
Author: Alexander Zaitchik
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Genre: Biography
Year Published: 2010
Number of Pages: 282, includes index
Binding: Cloth
ISBN: 978-0-470-55739-6
Price: $25.95

Reviewed by Vickie Cleverley Speek for the Association for Mormon Letters

It's August 28. As I write, tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people have gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC to participate in a rally for America, titled "Restoring Honor." Organizers say the rally isn't about politics —that its goal is to pay tribute to America's military personnel and others who embody our nation's founding principles of integrity, truth and honor.

Glenn Beck, the man behind the rally, has become a soundtrack for conservative activists and members of the Tea Party movement who are angry and frustrated with President Barack Obama and other politicians in a volatile election year. Beck suggests Obama is a socialist moving the country away from the Constitution. His critics contend that Beck exploits fear with conspiracy theories and overheated rhetoric. Everything about Beck is controversial, including the date and place of today's rally — it's being held on the forty-seventh anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, which King, himself, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Monument.

I have a confession to make. Before I read this book, I didn't know much about Glenn Beck. I've never listened to his radio broadcast, and I turned off my TV three minutes into his show when the poor guy started to cry. What I've heard of Beck's politics hasn't impressed me. Yet, I share his religious background (although he is active LDS and I am not), and I have a friend who boarded a bus and made the long trip from Chicago to Washington to participate in the rally. I was raised in conservative Idaho where most people in the 1960s identified with the John Birch Society in the fight against Communism.

Still, I don't know what to think about Alexander Zaitchik's book. I am perplexed. Why are so many people entranced by the guy? Why are they so attracted to his message? Zaitchik's book shows the kind of person I would not like to be affiliated with. Do people know Beck's background? Don't they care? An accomplished freelance writer with leftist leanings, Zaitchik has written for many liberal newspapers and magazines, including Salon, the New Republic, Reason, the International Herald Tribune, Wired, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Believer. He served with the New York Press as an investigative reporting fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center and he founded the liberal online magazine Freezerbox. As an author, Zaitchik is clearly biased against Beck and obviously wrote to expose him as a charlatan.

Bias is evident from the title of the book, Common Nonsense, which parodies Beck's own book, Common Sense. In the introduction of the book Zaitchik compares Beck to circus mogul P. T. Barnum, writing: "Beck above all is an entertainer and a huckster. To put it more charitably, he is a businessman out to make a nickel…. In recent years, Beck has increasingly become a narcissistic demagogue huffing delusions of grandeur, but his ego and his narcissism feed, and have always fed, directly into a larger business plan. They are one and the same…. Beck's political grandstanding is, at bottom, little more than a circus entertainer's love of an audience, matched with a fine appreciation for the uses of notoriety, spectacle, and shamelessness. Like Barnum's great museums, and traveling freak shows, Beck's twice-daily performances, one on radio and one on television, trade in light amusement, canny deceit, and titillating monstrosity." (10–11).

Zaitchik then proceeds to examine Beck's life, from his childhood in Washington state, through his drug-crazed teens and early adulthood, to his success as a radio shock jock and his metamorphosis into a national leader of the conservative movement. Little of what Zaitchik writes presents a positive image of Beck, from his bullying of radio rivals and staff members, to his outrageous publicity stunts, his on air breakdowns, and his comparison of Al Gore to Adolf Hitler and the work of UN climate scientists to Nazi eugenicists (119).

To me, the most interesting chapters of the book examine Glenn Beck's forays into conservative Mormonism, the church he joined in 1998 after a painful divorce and a difficult struggle to overcome substance abuse.

Chapter 11, "Brother Beck Presents: Mormon Masterpiece Theater," discusses the role of Beck as a Crying Conservative.  Zaitchik states, "When it comes to public crying as vaudeville, Beck owes less to universal womanhood than to a very special brotherhood. He's not stereotypically premenstrual as much as classically Mormon. Like so much else that baffles people about Beck, his approach to public tears has been shaped in the crucible of his adopted faith. It was the lachrymose Latter-Day Saints who turned an amateur crybaby pro."(p 202).

Zaitchik blames Beck's famous tears on the Mormon social ritual of bearing testimony once a month: "Those who study Mormon rituals and rhetoric say that the fingerprints of bearing testimony can be found all over Beck's public tearfulness" (203). Quoting David Knowlton, a Mormon cultural anthropologist at Utah Valley University, the author writes: "Beck's emotional performances are very like Mormon testimonies… Beck has married two rhetorical styles: the quiet Mormon sense of emotion present during key moments in testimony, and the bombast of more mainstream evangelical performances. Mormons and evangelicals simply do not trust reason to the same degree they trust feeling." (204). Zaitchik then adds: "When viewed in the context of Mormon practice, Beck's public crying begins to make more sense…  This helps to explain the yawning comprehension gap between his religious fans and his secular critics. Secular liberals watch Beck's cheap theatrics and see unmanly, dishonest, and possibly insane behavior. Mormons and like-minded evangelicals, especially Pentecostals, see familiar signposts associated with masculinity, sincerity, and even authority" (204).

 "The way Beck has built his movement and his audience is a microcosm of the method by which the Mormon Church grew into a worldwide religion," Zaitchik explains. "Like an earnest young missionary spreading the good word through emotional speeches to confused Latin American villagers, Beck has brought his gut of self-revelations to national television and radio, employing emotional intensity overflowing into tears to conquer doubt of his sincerity and prove his access to powerful truths…. Bear testimony; recruit. Bear testimony; recruit" (205).

After listening to hours and hours of Glenn Beck tapes while writing the book, Zaitchik notes he found the moment when Beck first became aware of extreme Mormon conservatism. It probably came on the morning of October 31, 2008, when "Beck played for his radio audience, a scratchy recording from the 1960s made by Dwight Eisenhower's secretary of agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson. While serving in that position, Beck explained, Benson had met with Nikita Khrushchev during one of the Soviet premier's visits to the United States. In that meeting, Benson claimed to have gained valuable insight into the global communist conspiracy" (p. 125).

In chapter 12, The Ghost of Cleon Skousen, Zaitchik recalls the evening of Sept. 2, 2009 when Beck presented one of his famous Fox News lecture seminars. Using a series of slides and art objects, Beck "connected the dots of progressive influence to reveal the contours and loci of leftist political power, its secret strategies and unspoken agendas" (211). The actual originator of Beck's progressive-communist-fascist ideas was none other than Willard Cleon Skousen, a deceased ultraconservative Mormon and John Birch Society believer who authored the books the Naked Communist (1958) and the Naked Capitalist (1970). In Common Nonsense, Zaitchik gives a very good overview of Skousen's life and ideas, and the reasons they appeal to Beck. Skousen's tome the 5,000 Year Leap: A Miracle That Changed the World (1981), a little known book that Beck dragged out of twenty-first century obscurity, has since become one of the must-reads of modern conservatism and is the central history text for hundreds of thousands of Tea Party activists (215).

Common Nonsense is an interesting book, but it is obviously biased against Beck. I recommend it to those who would like a behind-the-scenes look at Glenn Beck's career, the broadcasting industry, and the past conservative politics of the Mormon Church. But if you are a Glenn Beck supporter — you aren't going to like what you read. Four days ago, Zaitchik wrote an online article for the Huffington Post, The Farce of Glenn Beck's Rally for America, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alexander-zaitchik/the-farce-of-glenn-becks-_b_692704.html?view=screen . In it, he noted, "Most recently, Beck has worked to resuscitate the names of famously anti-civil rights figures from the history of his adopted Mormon faith. He has respectfully played tapes of Ezra Taft Benson, who thought Martin Luther King was a communist agent out to destroy the Mormon Church (and who once wrote the foreword to a book of race hate whose cover illustration featured the severed, bloody head of an African American). Beck has also implored his viewers to read the divinely inspired books of W. Cleon Skousen, another John Birch Society fantasist who believed that the civil rights movement was part of a worldwide Communist (and, later, New World Order) conspiracy."

Last week, in an interview with the Boston Phoenix, Alexander Zaitchik deconstructs Glenn Beck, August 23, 2010, http://thephoenix.com/boston/arts/106918-interview-alexander-zaitchik/?page=1#TOPCONTENT, interviewer Chris Faraone asked Zaitchik how much hate mail he has received since his book on Glenn Beck came out. "The venom has trickled in, but it's nothing like when I published the first piece on Salon in September," Zaitchik answered. "I was getting a lot of attacks where people try to shut down your e-mail by putting you on a million lists, and then I was just getting all that 'You godless socialist go back to Russia' kind of stuff, and thinly veiled threats that made me realize that I didn't want to do any readings in Utah."

Judging by the size of the crowds today at the Restoring Honor rally, I'd say that's a pretty good idea.

Friday, August 27, 2010

French missionary apostacy of 1958

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Excerpts of "Elder Tucker's Drift: The Trial of the French Mission," by Kahlile Mehr, patheos.com.  This is a condensed version of "The Trial of the French Mission" published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Sep 1, 1988.
...Early in 1958, Tucker became the second counselor in the French Mission presidency, and, in the absence of a first counselor, the only assistant to Mission President Milton Christensen.

...Tucker harbored many unresolved questions about the Church. A convert to Mormonism in California at age 15, he had immersed himself in a study of its history and doctrine. Intrigued by the former practice of polygamy and the many "mysteries" mentioned but not clearly defined in the statements of early Church authorities, he began to develop his own divergent conclusions

...In France he shared his conclusions with others. Conducting a mission within a mission, he sifted through the elders and sisters looking for his own harvest of receptive minds. Many began to credit his teachings above those of Church authorities, and to the many young missionaries who were attracted to him as a paragon of proselytizing, he opened a Pandora's box of doubt.

... The matter culminated in September 1958, when all French missionaries crossed the channel to attend the dedication of the London Temple. Alerted Church authorities interviewed the entire contingent to determine their allegiance. Many repented, but nine were excommunicated after a trial that was without precedent in the history of LDS missionary work.

... while en route to France, Tucker had obtained an interview with Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith, known as a doctrinal authority. Tucker had not been satisfied with the interview.

... he was transferred to Marseille on the southern coast of France with David Shore as a companion. In Shore he found a kindred spirit. These two like-minded elders intensively prayed, fasted, studied, and in other ways actively sought spiritual growth. Their devotion and energy was unusual in the French mission in 1957 and attracted attention mission-wide.

... [Mission] Morale was low. ... When word spread that missionaries in Marseille were fasting, praying, prophesying, and baptizing, the aspirations of others began to revive.

... Attendance at Church meetings rose dramatically, and more baptisms were registered in Marseille than elsewhere in the mission.

... he had concluded that the Church had erred in abolishing polygamy. At some point he developed aberrant views regarding priesthood authority, the guidance of the spirit, the temple garment, and the Word of Wisdom.

... Others spoke of him as "setting the French mission on fire,"

... Mission President Milton Christensen called him to serve as his second counselor. The president commented in the mission journal, 6 February 1958, "The Lord truly blessed me in the selection of This Elder, who is very strong in the Gospel ."

... all four continuously traveled the mission publicly proclaiming the gospel but privately propounding their own special doctrine. They would team up with individual missionaries during the day and in the evening conduct study and testimony sessions. Usually, they would test a missionary's receptiveness by stating an apostate principle. What came next would depend upon how the elder reacted.

... While Tucker taught the primacy of seeking the Spirit for guidance in conducting missionary work, he privately went out of bounds, encouraging the elders to discount the current Church leaders' teachings in favor of doctrines culled from sources such as the Journal of Discourses. ... He decried the unquestioning acceptance of tradition

.. Elder Tucker held great sway over the entire Paris corps of elders as well as many others throughout the mission. One estimate is that a third of the 130 missionaries in the French Mission eventually came to be in sympathy with Tucker. According to another source about thirty of the missionaries could have been considered firm believers. Under his influence, missionaries began to study rather than proselytize, and some began to wear only the "old style" temple garments.

... Johnson, an ardent admirer of Joseph Fielding Smith, wrote to him concerning the incident. Word eventually got back to President Christensen that something was amiss in Marseille. In April 1958, he sent Tucker to investigate. Tucker made several visits in April and May, each time assuring the president that the situation was in hand

... The serious-minded new Paris recruit, Ron Jarvis, requested more information directly from Ervil LeBaron in Mexico

.... on 14 August, they divulged their feelings to President Christensen [who] tried to talk the problem through with them. ...Tucker's cover began to unravel, and President Christensen soon realized this was something bigger than he could handle alone. On 19 August, a Tuesday, he telephoned the First Presidency in Salt Lake. The following Saturday, Apostle Hugh B. Brown arrived in Paris.

--Apostle Brown concluded the meeting at 8:00 P.M. with a discourse on the powers of the adversary and the future of the French Mission. He described what had happened as the worst missionary apostasy in the history of the Church and further confided that they had discussed the possibility of closing the mission but decided the temple dedication would provide the opportunity to cleanse the mission.

... Left by the Church to their own devices to get home, they pooled their money to obtain ship's passage.

... The bishop in his [Harvey's] ward, mortified by the excommunication, had announced to the congregation that Harvey would never be rebaptized as long as he was bishop. ...  Harvey's father had suffered a heart attack.

... a little over a year after the trial, President Moyle visited the mission. Anticipating the new year, he asked the mission leaders what baptismal goal they ought to set for themselves. They consulted and agreed on 400, four times the average baptismal rate of the ten years previous. ...  By 4 July 1960, 404 new converts had been baptized, and by the end of 1960 the baptismal total stood at 942. It was an exceptional year in which the mission broke from the statistical mire of its past and was regenerated with an influx of new members.

... Of the seven, four elders and three sisters, who never rejoined the Church, all lived in Mexico for some time and supported the LeBaron movement.

... The trial for unnumbered others also drawn into the circle of Tucker's beliefs was conducted less publicly. The verdicts rendered remain the private legacies of each individual who followed Tucker to the edge of their ken and to whatever lay beyond.

The complete patheos article can be read here.

John Whitmer Historical Association annual meeting, 2010

This year is the 150th anniversary of the meeting in Amboy, Illinois, where Joseph Smith III and his mother Emma affiliated with the "new organization" of Midwestern Latter Day Saints that ultimately became the Community of Christ. To mark the occasion, John Whitmer Historical Association (JWHA) is going to Amboy and nearby Rockford, Illinois, where our theme will be "Emma, Her Sons, Their Church, and the Latter Day Saints."

Papers and Panels:
  • Emma's Legacy: Life after Joseph: Linda King Newell
  • Community of Christ History for Beginners: What You May Have Missed in the Past 150 Years: John C. Hamer
  • The History of Zarahemla (Blanchardville): Church Headquarters, 1852-60: Daniel M. Kelty
  • The Other Briggs:  Edmund C. Briggs and the Defining of the Early Reorganization: Clare D. Vlahos
  • The Temple Lot: A Contest for Sacred Space: R. Jean Addams
  • The Elijah Message Tradition and the Return of John the Baptist: Paul D. Savage
  • The Big Fan: Joseph Smith and the Danites in Missouri: Todd Compton
  • How Brigham Young Failed to Reunite "Joseph's Church" with "Emma's Church.": George D. Smith
  • Correcting a Traditional Interpretation of D&C 76:7 Based on New Data from the Joseph Smith Papers Project: Blair B. Bryant
  • The Lost Book of Lehi: Reconstructing the Contents of the 116 Pages: Don Bradley
  • The Writings of Maria Braby: Frontier Poetry and Prose from the Early Days in Lamoni: Richard Braby
  • An LDS Outpost in the Mission Field: The Old Aurora Branch, 1932-65: Ginger Hamer
  • Differing Perspectives on Joseph Smith and Plural Marriage: Newell G. Bringhurst, Linda King Newell, Todd Compton, Brian C. Hales, Craig L. Foster
  • Women's Roles, Identities, and Experiences in the Community of Christ and Utah Mormonism: Mary Ellen Robertson and others TBA
  • Preliminary Thoughts on Putting the History of JWHA into Context: Biloine Whiting Young
  • From Davis to Edwards to Howard to Scherer: Official History in the Reorganization: William D. Russell
  • The Latter Day Saint Churches of William Smith, 1845-1860: Connell O'Donovan
  • William Smith's Organization at Palestine Grove, Illinois: Laying the Foundations for the Reorganized Church: Kyle R. Walker
  • The Adam-God Doctrine and Persistence of Polygamy: Robert D. Anderson
  • Sidney Rigdon as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator: An Introduction to the Revelation Books of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Children of Zion: Jay Alan Burton
  • The Missouri Mormon Experience: Thomas Spencer, Alexander L. Baugh, others TBA
  • Joseph Smith's Angelic Visitations and Descriptive Rhetoric: Christine Elyse Blythe
  • "Joseph [Smith] Being Dead Yet Speaketh": Apparitions of the Prophet-Martyr: Christopher James Blythe
  • Our Story of Faith and Life: A Family Saga of Many Generations in the Church: Richard Lancaster and James E. Lancaster Jr.
  • Beyond Nauvoo: Discovering the Reorganized Church Story Again for the First Time: Mark A. Scherer
  • Know Your Religions: A Comparative Look at Mormonism and the Community of Christ, by Richard G. Moore : William D. Russell, Steven L. Shields, & Richard G. Moore
  • The Wives of William Smith: Erin B. Jennings and Connell O'Donovan
  • Thomas Jefferson Sheppard (1856-1933), RLDS Seventy Missionary to Native Americans, Texans and Settlers in the Midwest and New Mexico: Carol Freeman Braby
  • The Journals of James Kelley: The Tragic Story of a Twentieth-Century Apostle Following in His Father's Footsteps: Barbara B. Walden
  • Mormon Attitudes toward the Cross:A Brighamite, Josephite, & Strangite Comparison: Michael G. Reed
  • Joseph Smith's Red Brick Store: Fragile Power on the Upper Mississippi River: Jill Brim
  • Mormons and the I&M Canal: A Visual History: Vickie Cleverly Speek
  • The 1869 Clash over Polygamy between RLDS Missionaries Alexander and David Hyrum Smith and their Cousin, Utah Apostle Joseph F. Smith: Brian C. Hales
  • Another Prophet in Utah: Joseph Smith III's 1876 Visit to Salt Lake City: Alexander L. Baugh
  • Staging the Temple: RLDS and LDS Dramas at Kirtland, Ohio, 1977-2008: David Howlett
  • The History of the ReLaDaSa Tour business through the 1940s-1990s: Kevin W. Bryant
  • Psychiatric Studies of Joseph Smith: William D. Morain and Robert D. Anderson
  • From Emma to the First Presidency: Women in Community of Christ History Jeanne Murphey

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Beck hints at Lamanites?

Excerpts of Beck, Native Americans, and the Book of Mormon  by Joanna Brooks, at Religious Dispatches

Glenn Beck and Mormon attitudes towards Native Americans are in the spotlight these days, after Beck launched into a meandering, half-baked discourse on the Bat Creek stones on his show last week.

Since then, lots of folks who know a little about Mormonism—from liberals at Gawker to conservative evangelical Christians—have seized on the foray as another evidence of the way his Mormonism shapes Beck's messaging, pointing to traditional Mormon beliefs that Native peoples of the Americas are related to ancient peoples of the Middle East.

Today, RightWingWatch is pushing the envelope a little further, suggesting that in his ongoing discussion of Native origins and archeology as related to the "Divine Destiny" of the United States, Beck is smuggling a "foundational premise upon which the Book of Mormon is based" into his programming, in the service of a Mormon agenda.


Beck's new take on American Indians is like his old infatuation with Cleon Skousen: when Beck is desperate for material, he reaches into rich archives of Mormon thought and writing unfamiliar to most outsiders and (forgive the pun) strikes gold. In so doing, he enthralls his base of hardcore LDS conservatives and confuses or even embarrasses the rest of us.

Read the entire article here

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Announcment - Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia

Excerpts of Reeve and Parshall, Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia: Announcement By: Ardis E. Parshall


W. Paul Reeve and Ardis E. Parshall, eds., Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio, 2010.

Announcing the publication of W. Paul Reeve and Ardis E. Parshall, eds., Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio, 2010. 426 p. ISBN: 978-1-59884-107-7.

ABC-Clio publishes reference books. Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia is the first volume (the only volume Paul and I will work on) in a new series on the histories of world religions. That's a bit of good news, I think, that they think we're interesting and significant and hot enough to want to start their series with us.

Because this is part of a series, and because the publisher has such a well-developed sense of what they want in a manuscript, this book is not entirely of our own design. That is, the publisher specified that it wanted so many biographies averaging such-and-such a length, and so many entries of this other length exploring the major issues of historical and contemporary Mormonism, and so on. Within that template, though, we were entirely free to choose the topics covered, and the voice, and the scholars who contributed.

And this book really is geared toward the general reader, not the scholar and not necessarily Mormons, although I think a lot of Mormons not deeply familiar with Church history could find helpful articles that organize and put into perspective the odd bits of history they have picked up over the years. The entries are meant to explain our history in an easy to understand format – the era essays pull things into chronological order; the issues essays explore interconnected ideas; the other entries, short and to the point, could define for readers with fuzzy memories who Smoot was and why his hearings were important, why there was a group called the Nauvoo Legion in Utah, and briefly who and what and when the Mormon Battalion was.

(read the entire article here)


Mormonism in Historical Context: An Introduction – James B. Allen

Foundation: 1820-1830 – James B. Allen
Development: 1831-1844 – Stephen C. Taysom
Exodus and Settlement: 1845-1869 – Ardis E. Parshall
Conflict: 1869-1890 – W. Paul Reeve
Transition: 1890-1941 – Thomas G. Alexander
Expansion: 1941-Present – Jessie L. Embry


Black Hawk War – W. Paul Reeve
Book of Mormon – Stanley J. Thayne and David J. Howlett
Colonization – W. Paul Reeve
Correlation – Blair Dee Hodges
Exodus from Nauvoo – W. Paul Reeve
First Vision – W. Paul Reeve
Handcart Migration – W. Paul Reeve
Haun's Mill Massacre – W. Paul Reeve
Immigration – Edward H. Jeter
Kirtland Pentecost – Jonathan A. Stapley
Manifesto – W. Paul Reeve
martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith – Debra J. Marsh
Missouri War – David W. Grua
Mormon Battalion – Bruce A. Crow
Mountain Meadows Massacre – Richard E. Turley Jr.
Nauvoo Legion – Ardis E. Parshall
Organization of the Church – W. Paul Reeve
Pioneering – Bruce A. Crow
Priesthood Revelation of 1978 – Jared Tamez
Reformation – Ardis E. Parshall
Relief Society – Amy Tanner Thiriot
Seagulls and Crickets – Edward H. Jeter
Smoot Hearings – Jonathan H. Moyer
Temple Work by Proxy – W. Paul Reeve
Temples – W. Paul Reeve
Ungathered – Christopher C. Jones
United States v. ReynoldsNathan B. Oman
Utah War – William P. MacKinnon
Word of Wisdom – W. Paul Reeve
Youth Programs – Brett D. Dowdle
Zion's Camp – Ardis E. Parshall


Arrington, Leonard James – Gary James Bergera
Bennion, Lowell L. – Mary Lythgoe Bradford
Benson, Ezra Taft – J.B. Haws
Brooks, Juanita – Levi S. Peterson
Cannon, George Q. – Gary James Bergera
Cannon, Martha Hughes – W. Paul Reeve
Clark, J. Reuben Jr. – Gary James Bergera
Grant, Heber J. – W. Paul Reeve
Hinckley, Gordon B. – Gary James Bergera
Hunter, Howard W. – W. Paul Reeve
Kimball, Spencer W. – Jacob W. Olmstead
Lee, Harold B. – J.B. Haws
Lyman, Amy Brown – David R. Hall
McConkie, Bruce R. – Ardis E. Parshall
McKay, David O. – Gregory A. Prince
Monson, Thomas S. – Gary James Bergera
Nibley, Hugh – Boyd Jay Petersen
Parmley, LaVern Watts – Ardis E. Parshall
Pratt, Orson and Parley P. – Matthew J. Grow
Rigdon, Sidney – Ardis E. Parshall
Roberts, B.H. – Gary James Bergera
Rogers, Aurelia Spencer – Ardis E. Parshall
Sessions, Patty Bartlett – Jonathan A. Stapley
Smith, Barbara Bradshaw – Gary James Bergera
Smith, Emma Hale – Janiece Lyn Johnson
Smith, George Albert – Gary James Bergera
Smith, Hyrum – Gary James Bergera
Smith, Joseph F. – Christopher C. Jones
Smith, Joseph Fielding – Matthew Bowman
Smith, Joseph Jr. – Jed Woodworth
Smith Family – Lavina Fielding Anderson
Snow, Eliza R. – Jennifer Reeder
Snow, Lorenzo – Alan L. Morrell
Spafford, Belle Smith – Michele A. Welch
Talmage, James E. – Matthew Bowman
Taylor, Elmina Shepherd – Gary James Bergera
Taylor, John – Ardis E. Parshall
Wells, Emmeline B. – Michele A. Welch
Witnesses to the Book of Mormon – Benjamin E. Park
Woodruff, Wilford – Thomas G. Alexande
Young, Brigham – John G. Turner


Church Organization and Government – Gary James Bergera
Divergent Churches – Jason Smith
Genealogy and Family History – Ardis E. Parshall
Local Worship – Bradley H. Kramer
Mormon Missiology – Jonathan A. Stapley
Mormon Scripture – Julie Marie Smith
Mormonism and Blacks – Margaret Blair Young and Darius Aidan Gray
Mormonism and Economics – Alan L. Morrell
Mormonism and Education – Jed Woodworth
Mormonism and Men – Jeffery O. Johnson and W. Paul Reeve
Mormonism and Native Americans – Sondra Jones
Mormonism and Other Faiths – J.B. Haws
Mormonism and Race – Armand L. Mauss
Mormonism and Science – Ardis E. Parshall
Mormonism and Secular Government – Nathan B. Oman
Mormonism and the Family – W. Paul Reeve
Mormonism and Violence – Robert H. Briggs
Mormonism and Women – Andrea G. Radke-Moss
Mormonism as a World Religion – David Clark Knowlton
Mormonism as Restoration – Samuel Brown
Mormonism's Contested Identity – J.B. Haws
Non-Mormon Views of Mormonism – Jan Shipps
Polygamy – Kathryn M. Daynes and Lowell C. "Ben" Bennion


Articles of Faith; Beehive; Brigham Young University; Church Publications; City of Zion; "Come, Come Ye Saints"; Deseret Alphabet; Emigration Agents; Extermination Order; Richard L. Evans; Family History Library; Gathering; Granite Mountain Records Vault; Thomas L. Kane – Matthew J. Grow; Mormon Money; Mormon Tabernacle Choir; "O, My Father"; Perpetual Emigrating Fund; Orrin Porter Rockwell; Sam Brannan and the Brooklyn; Silk Culture; Reed Smoot; State of Deseret; Temple Square; Whistling and Whittling Brigade; White Salamander Letter – Blair Dee Hodges; ZCMI. (Unless otherwise credited, sidebars written by Ardis E. Parshall.)


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mormon Stories: Carol Lynn Pearson

Five-part Podcast / Videocast Carol Lynn Pearson – Mormon Author, Poet, Playwright, Feminist, and Philosopher  by John Dehlin

Carol Lynn Pearson is one of the most beloved and successul Mormon authors, poets, and playwrights of all time.  A comprehensive listing of her creative works can be found here.  Her book "Goodbye, I Love You," about the death of her gay husband from AIDS, took the world by storm in 1986, landing her on Oprah, Phil Donahue, and many other T.V. programs.  Her musical "My Turn on Earth" is one of the most beloved and successful Mormon musicals of all time. Carol Lynn has spent virtually all of her years since "Goodbye, I Love You" as an advocate for both women and gays within Mormonism.  Her most recent Mormon-themed book, "No More Goodbyes", deals with enlightening and inspirational stories of gay Mormons (and those of other faiths) coping with issues of family, religion, church, and occasionally suicide.  Many of Carol Lynn's wonderful creative works can still be purchased here.  Please support her if you can.
In this 5 part interview (captured both in audio and in full High Definition video below), we discuss the following:
  • Part 1: My Early Years in the Church, and the Decision to Marry Gerald
  • Part 2: My Early Career, and Gerald's Final Coming Out
  • Part 3: Goodbye, I Love You: Loving Gerald Until the End
  • Part 4: No More Goodbyes: Supporting Gays in the LDS Church
  • Part 5: Celebrating the Divine Feminine, and Final Thoughts on Faith
Media can be accessed here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pathos: The Future of Mormonism

This month, Pathos featured "The Future of Mormonism" as part of its Future of Religion series.

One of the world's fastest growing religious traditions, Mormonism faces the new century with the confidence born of success and the reservations that come from the difficulties of expansion. How will the Mormon Church continue to grow while maintaining its central authority and its emphasis on strong communities? These questions and more will be addressed in Patheos' Future of Religion series.

Philip Barlow
Mormons and the Bible in the 21st Century

by Philip Barlow (Utah State University)
The role of the Bible, and its translations, along with the study of the Mormon canon are shifting the Mormon community in new ways.

Elder Quentin L. Cook
Partnering with Our Friends from Other Faiths

by Elder Quentin L. Cook (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
The future of Mormonism in the public sphere will, in part, be a shared one as we work with other like-minded faiths to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ in reaching out to our fellow citizens.

Tresa Edmunds
The Next Generation of Mormon Feminism

by Tresa Edmunds (Blogger, Feminist Mormon Housewives)
Despite a lingering environment of fear, many Mormon feminists feel that we are at the brink of a Mormon feminist renaissance.

Steve Evans
The Future of Mormons on the Internet

by Steve Evans (Social media consultant, blogger)
Both the Church and its members are moving toward a time of bonding with each other and sharing experiences in ways never thought possible.

Kristine Haglund
Mormon Publishing, the Internet, and the Democratization of Information

by Kristine Haglund (Blogger, editor of Dialogue)
What is needed is to teach both insiders and outsiders a new vocabulary and new means of evaluating the authenticity and sincerity of sources of information about Mormonism.

Brian Hales
The Future of "Mormon Fundamentalism"

by Brian Hales (Author and anesthesiologist)
Mormon fundamentalists will face new pressures and, perhaps, new opportunities. With the general liberalization of American values, some observers believe that polygamy could become legal within the next decade.

Grant Hardy
The Book of Mormon in Religious Studies

by Grant Hardy (University of North Carolina at Asheville)
The Book of Mormon has already attained the status of world scripture. Whether it becomes accessible to non-Mormons hinges on pursuing new approaches to this challenging text.

Bridget Jack Jeffries
Mormon-Evangelical Dialogue: Changing for the Better

by Bridget Jack Jeffries (Blogger on Mormon-Evangelical Dialogue)
I feel pretty confident that mutual dialogue trends are bound to continue. However, there are three things I would like to see change in the conversation.

Richard T. Livingston
Mormon Studies: Catching the New Wave

by Richard T. Livingston (PhD Student, Claremont Graduate University)
Mormon studies will become more adept at situating their topics within some larger horizon, and will thus paint more subtle, nuanced, complex portraits.

Armand L. Mauss
Mormonism in the New Century

by Armand L. Mauss (Professor Emeritus, Washington State University)
The success of the Church between now and the middle of this new century will depend in large part on whether and how adaptation takes place, as well as upon the ability of the Church to enhance its public image.

Neylan McBaine
The Future of Mormon Motherhood

by Neylan McBaine (Author, founder of The Mormon Women Project)
Each prayerful and self-possessed Mormon mother will come to the conclusion that there might not be a right answer for our people overall, but there is a right answer for her.

Blake T. Ostler
The Challenges of (Non-existent?) Mormon Theology

by Blake T. Ostler (Author, lawyer)
Among the central problems of Mormon thought that need greater attention are the nature and tasks of Mormon theology and the challenge of developing Mormon perspectives on scientific naturalism and human consciousness.

Michael Otterson
The Church's Reputation: Progress, Challenges, and Opportunity

by Michael Otterson (Managing director of Public Affairs, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
Those of us who interact daily with the news media and other opinion leaders sense a fundamental and long-term shift in public fascination with Mormons.

Seth Perry
A World Religion (Eventually)

by Seth Perry (PhD Candidate, University of Chicago)
At their deepest levels, Mormonism's texts and messages are ripe for the adaptations and permutations constitutive of a true world religion.

Boyd Petersen
Mormon Democrats at a Crossroads

by Boyd Petersen (Utah Valley University)
I see more and more Mormons recognizing the progressive agenda of the Democratic party as more engaged in negotiation and working toward solutions of global issues.

Aaron Reeves
Europe and Mormon Growth

by Aaron Reeves (Blogger, lecturer)
The future of Mormonism in Europe seems neither exciting nor hopeful. Though religious tolerance may increase while social stigma decreases, I suspect that growth will be slow, if at all.

Jana Riess
Mormon Publishing: Four Trends to Watch

by Jana Riess (Author, acquisitions editor for Westminster John Knox Press)
There's good news and bad news. The word on the street these days in publishing is that information wants to be free. One thing is certain: there will be an upsurge of the number of overall titles about the Mormon experience.

David G. Stewart, Jr.
The Future of Mormon Missionary Work

by David G. Stewart, Jr. (Author, orthopedic surgeon)
The missionary work of the LDS Church faces serious challenges. Achieving strong continued growth will require multiple paradigm shifts. Some of these shifts are already underway.

Stephen C. Taysom
Mormonism in the Academy

by Stephen C. Taysom (Cleveland State University)
It is abundantly clear that Mormonism is an area of expanding research and teaching interest for serious scholars.

Margaret Blair Young and Darius Aidan Gray
The Colorful LDS Future: The Future of those of African Descent in the Mormon Church

by Margaret Blair Young and Darius Aidan Gray (Authors, speakers, filmmakers)
We have seen the strength of so many Saints of color and know that their future, and ours, is being made better than our mutual past.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mormon.Org FAQ on polygamy

Excerpts of Mormon.org FAQ: Polygamy by Hawkgrrrl at MormonMatters.org.  (Note that this is quite a step for the church to ask its members to openly address the topic of polygamy -- and provides an interesting glimpse at church member rationale for the practice).

The church has initiated a new online profile campaign on mormon.org in which those interested in the church can "meet" actual members who've posted pictures of themselves, personal experiences with the church, and their own answers to a variety of questions about Mormonism. 

Some of the answers to the difficult questions are problematic for various reasons):

  • some answers contain factual errors, including some doctrinal mistakes (see below)
  • this exposes some of the most common speculations and assumptions that are comfort food to lay members on these tough issues; there's an upside to this, too.  Perhaps this is an opportunity for the church to clarify or deal with some incorrect assumptions.
  • some of the answers are not going to be very appealing to those outside the church.

 Why did your church previously practice plural marriage (polygamy)?

Reading through the posted responses, ...

  • ... I've heard many theories about why God commanded it but, as far as I can tell, none of the theories can be proven....
  • My great, great, great grandmother was a polygamist. ...The legacy she left continues to inspire me to be stronger and better. I believe she was a polygamist wife for the benefit of her posterity.
  • The Prophets have said "to raise up a righteous generation unto the Lord." The righteous women in the Church outnumber the righteous men. ...

The old romantic paternalist argument that women are more righteous than men.  It is demonstrably false that there was a shortage of marriageable men in the early days of the church. 

  • See the Book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon where the then current Prophet banned the practice because of the unrighteousness of the people. Will the practice ever come back officially? ...
  • Let's look at some facts: in the 19th century, about three quarters of the world's population lived in countries or societies where polygamy was sanctioned or even encouraged. In non-polygamous societies, like Europe, having a "mistress" was common and acceptable by society. I think it's much more honorable to be legally and lawfully wedded to two wives, than to have one wife and a "mistress".
  • It's my understanding that scarecely 3 percent of Church members practiced polygamy.

The 3% estimate is disproven.  More accurate estimates indicate 20-30%.  And the other issue is that it contradicts the notion that only the righteous practiced it (so between 70 and 97% of all church members were unrighteous?)

  • However, when the representative who speaks for God a prophet says that God wants you to do something, you do it. That is what happened back in the day. God told Joseph Smith that He wanted them to practice plural marriage and so they did.
  • God has commanded humans to practice polygamy in many different instances throughout history.

It was the infertile wives (Sariah, Rachel and Leah) and conniving fathers-in-law (Laban) who were behind polygamy in the OT.  There is no scriptural account in the OT of God commanding polygamy....

  • It was from God's order out of necessity to take care of many women who were widowed with children and those who were alone.

 There are MTC volunteers who are reviewing for content and accuracy, so I suppose it is consistent with whatever average missionaries believe is accurate. 

The entire article (plus comments) can be read here.

New Mormon History Books

Excerpts of "Here are some of the latest additions to the Benchmark Books inventory," Aug 2010 -- which provides a nice overview of some new books related to Mormon studies.
My Fellow Servant: Essays on the History of the Priesthood by William Hartley. Published by BYU Studies, 2010. 492 pp. $24.95. Paper.  This excellent collection of essays (published in BYU Studies, Journal of Mormon History, Dialogue and others) by respected author/historian William Hartley covers various topics relating to the priesthood. Highlights include his award-winning articles on Aaronic Priesthood offices from 1829 to 1996 and the sweeping priesthood reorganization and redefinition undertaken by Brigham Young in 1877 as his last major achievement.

 A Tentative Inquiry into the Office of Seventy, 1835-1845 by Lyndon Cook. 132 pp. Published by Grandin Book, 2010. Cloth (400 copies) - $50.00, 3/4 leather (74 copies) - approx. $125.00, full leather (26 lettered copies) - approx. $300.00 (leather editions forthcoming). This book, written by well-known author and historian Lyndon Cook, explores a topic that has had little examination and includes dozens of photographs of early Seventies in the Church, many of whom are little-known.  Cook details the first ten years of the somewhat fluid office of seventy, highlighting (among other topics) their often tense relationship with other priesthood authorities.  He does an admirable job of analyzing the contentious debate in Kirtland regarding the primacy of seventies versus high priests.  In addition, Cook shows the rise and fall of the seventy during Joseph Smith's lifetime and their subsequent rise in prominence under Brigham Young.

From the Muddy River to the Ivory Tower: The Journey of George H. Brimhall by Mary Jane Woodger and Joseph Groberg.  Published by BYU Studies, 2010. 245 pp. $18.95. Written by a BYU professor and a descendant of Brimhall, this biography looks at the progress of an ordinary pioneer-era boy as he became the president of a major university during a very tempestuous time.  During his time as president of BYU, Brimhall was responsible for guiding the school through the chaotic 1911 in which three professors either resigned or were dismissed after a tense standoff over the teaching of evolution and other "progressive" subjects. Following his 19 years at the helm of BYU, Brimhall served the auxiliary organizations in a variety of capacities, including writing curriculum.

150 Years of Song: Hymnody in the Reorganization, 1860-2010 by Richard Clothier.  Published by Herald House, 2010.  111 pp. $15.95. Paper.  Clothier, professor emeritus of music at Graceland University, documents the history of the Community of Christ (formerly Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) through the story of its hymns and hymnals.  Clothier looks at the growth and evolution of the CoC and how that is reflected in the hymnals--all of this with their tenth hymnal in preparation.

Alexander: Joseph and Emma Smith's Far West Son by Ronald Romig.  Published by John Whitmer Books, 2010. 138 pp. $9.95. Paper.  The latest in Romig's series of books highlighting the lives and times of early church members, Alexander takes a look at the life of Alexander Hale Smith.  Featuring contemporary photos of Alexander, his family and colleagues, this book also uses writings from Smith and others to paint a vivid picture of his life.

Community of Christ: An Illustrated History by David Howlett, Barbara Walden and John Hamer.   Published by Herald House, 2010. 72 pp.  $19.95. Paper. A richly illustrated history of the Community of Christ featuring numerous photographs and aesthetically pleasing John Hamer maps.  Topics discussed include the role of women in the CoC, successful missionary labors in Haiti, relationship of CoC publications to the "New Mormon History" and name change from RLDS to Community of Christ.

Missouri Mormon Burials by Janet Lisonbee and Annette Curtis. Published by Missouri Mormon Frontier Foundation, 2008. 225 pp + errata.  $24.95. Whether for history or genealogical purposes, this is a valuable resource.  Each known burial features a biographical sketch and vital dates.  Details on the individuals are taken from diverse sources: LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, DUP publications, Church newspapers, Saints' Herald, redress petitions, etc.  In addition to many "rank and file" members, this volume includes details on well-known figures such as the Whitmer brothers and Hiram Page.

School of the Prophet: Joseph Smith Learns the First Principles, 1820-1830 by Richard Bennett.  Published by Deseret Book, 2010. 163 pp.  $21.99. Bennett, author of Mormons at the Missouri and We'll Find the Place, looks at the learning process of Joseph Smith in the decade following the First Vision.  He shows how Joseph, the first convert and student, was taught by heavenly beings, refined in the fires of adversity, and firmly grounded in the saving principles and ordinances of the gospel.  

Benchmark Books
3269 S. Main St., Ste. 250
Salt Lake City, UT  84115
801-486-3452 (fax)
800-486-3112 (orders)
Hours: Mon. - Fri., 10-6; Sat., 10-5

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Prop 8 overturn might not be appealed

Excerpts of Judge doubts gay marriage ban's backers can appeal, Mormon Times
The federal judge who overturned California's same-sex marriage ban has more bad news for the measure's sponsors: he not only is unwilling to keep gay couples from marrying beyond next Wednesday, he doubts the ban's backers have the right to challenge his ruling.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker on Thursday rejected a request to delay his decision striking down Proposition 8 from taking effect until high courts can take up an appeal lodged by its supporters. One of the reasons, the judge said, is he's not sure the proponents have the authority to appeal since they would not be affected by or responsible for implementing his ruling.

By contrast, same-sex couples are being denied their constitutional rights every day they are prohibited from marrying, Walker said.

The ban's backers "point to harm resulting from a 'cloud of uncertainty' surrounding the validity of marriages performed after judgment is entered but before proponents' appeal is resolved," he said. "Proponents have not, however, argued that any of them seek to wed a same-sex spouse."

Walker gave opponents of same-sex marriage until Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. to get a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether gay marriages should start before the court considers their broader appeal. Their lawyers filed an request asking the 9th Circuit to intervene and block the weddings on an emergency basis late Thursday.

Based on his interpretation of those rules, it appears the ban's sponsors can only appeal his decision with the backing of either Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger or Attorney General Jerry Brown, Walker said. But that seems unlikely as both officials refused to defend Proposition 8 in Walker's court and said last week they see no reason why gay couples should not be able to tie the knot now.

Walker also turned aside arguments that marriages performed now could be thrown into legal chaos if Proposition 8 is later upheld by an appeals court. He pointed to the 18,000 same-sex couples who married legally in the five months that gay marriage was legal in California as proof.

Other legal analysts think the appeals court will allow the group that raised $40 million to pass Proposition 8 to formally challenge Walker's ruling.

"What Judge Walker's ruling means is you can sponsor a proposition, direct it, research it, work for it, raise $40 million for it, get it on a ballot, successfully campaign for it and then have no ability to defend it independently in court," said Dale Carpenter, a University of Minnesota constitutional law professor who supports same-sex marriage. "And then a judge maybe let you be the sole defender in a full-blown trial and then says, 'by the way, you never can defend this.' It just seems very unlikely to me the higher courts will buy that."

"We just want equal rights. We're tired of being second-class citizens," said Amber Fox, 35.

Trouble for the Deseret News

Excerpts of Bad news for DNews, Salt Lake Crawler: Glen Warchol, Salt Lake Tribune

Utah's journalism and political communities have been buzzing the last couple weeks with rumors of an impending implosion of the Deseret News. Let me concisely repeat the rumors:

• In the next few weeks, a significant part of the DNews staff will be laid off.

• What remains will leave the Deseret News building in the heart of downtown to be resettled with KSL in the Triad Center.

• The DNews will no longer publish daily, but three days or so a week (it would, of course, continue to exist online with Mormon Times).

Salt Lake City Weekly's Josh Loftin, a former DNews editor and reporter, tries to make sense of the weak signal coming from inside the monolith of Mormon Media under new strongman Mark Willes.

Despite the recent de-evolution of the 150-year-old DNews under Editor Joe Cannon and Willes from the "Christian Science Monitor of the West" to a LDS faith-promoting publication with a purged political staff, it still remained a player in Utah's media, particularly in state government coverage.

Newspapers, including The Tribune, have struggled the last few years with declining revenues following the online information revolution, but the DNews also has been buffeted by pressures to publish news with a positive slant and to advance the LDS religion. Such goals are, of course, an anathema to good journalism.

Polygamy reality show

Excerpts of New TLC Show to Feature Polygamist Family, by GossipGirl, Cleveland Leader 

TLC, the network that brought us the Gosselins and the Duggars with "Jon & Kate Plus 8" and "19 Kids and Counting", are adding another interesting family show to their line-up this fall. This fall, the network will air the show "Sister Wives" which features a fundamentalist Mormon family that includes one husband and four "sister wives."

HBO's fictional "Big Love" gave many American television viewers their first glimpse into the lives of polygamists, but left many wondering if that's how their lives really are. "Sister Wives" will give us the reality TV version of polygamy.

Starring in "Sister Wives" is Kody Brown, who is married to Meri. He also has two other "sister wives", Janelle and Christine, and is bringing a fourth wife, Robyn, into the family. Altogether, they have 13 children. The family lives, of course, in Utah.

Sister Wives premieres on TLC on at 10pm on September 26.

Two Missionaries receive combined 17 year jail sentence

Excerpts of Two Mormon missionaries jailed 17 years for defilement, Ghana News Agency

A Circuit Court in Accra on Friday sentenced two missionaries of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) to various jail terms after finding them guilty on charges of conspiracy and defilement.

The convicts were evangelising on behalf of the church popularly called Mormons in Ghana.

They pleaded not guilty to defiling a 14-year-old house help of a next door neighbour, who runs errands for them.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Versions of the Rod of Nature Revelation (D&C 8)

Below is the handout I included in my Sunstone Presentation, "Oliver Cowdery's Rod of Nature," Aug 2010, Clair Barrus

Versions of the Rod of Nature revelation

The four versions of the Rod of Nature revelation are designated below as follows:
A - Original text of what the Joseph Smith Papers editors titled "April 1829-B" from A Book of Commandments & Revelations as recorded by John Whitmer.  A Book of Commandments & Revelations (also called "Revelations Book 1" by the editors) is the first of two books published in the Manuscript Revelation Books, the first volume of the Revelations and Translations series, edited by Robin Scott Jensen, Robert J. Woodford, and Steven C. Harper (Salt Lake City: The Church Historian's Press, 2009) and is part of the Joseph Smith Papers project published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a handwritten copy of revelations copied beginning in 1831 by John Whitmer.  
B - Modifications of "April 1829-B".  This includes handwritten modifications to the text of 1829-B by John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon and an unidentified scribe.  Most of the changes were by Sidney Rigdon.
C - The Book of Commandments, Section 7, 1833.  The Book of Commandments was an effort to publish Joseph Smith's revelations in 1833, but was thwarted during publication by a mob, and only a few copies survived.
D - Doctrine and Covenants, Section 8, first published in 1835. The Doctrine and Covenants was an updated version of Joseph Smith's revelations published in 1835.

A, B, C and D reference each of the four versions of the revelation below, and use the versing established in D. Italics indicate an insubstantial edit was not noted.  Bold highlights changes between versions.  Inconsequential changes such as "&" becoming "and," spelling or punctuation changes are not identified as changes.


A: A Revelation to Oliver he being desirous to know whether the Lord would grant him the gift of Revelation & Translation# given in Harmony Sus Pennsylvania

B: A Revelation to Oliver he being desirous to know whether the Lord would grant him the gift of Translation given in Harmony Susquehannah Pennsylvania April 1829

C: A Revelation given to Oliver, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, April, 1829

D: Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to Oliver Cowdery, at Harmony, Pennsylvania, April 1829. HC 1: 36–37. In the course of the translation of the Book of Mormon, Oliver, who continued to serve as scribe, writing at the Prophet's dictation, desired to be endowed with the gift of translation. The Lord responded to his supplication by granting this revelation

Verse 1

A:Oliver Verily Verily I say unto you that as Shuredly as the Lord liveth which is your God & your Redeemer even so shure shall ye receive a knowledge of whatsoever things ye shall ask with an honest heart believing that ye shall receive a knowledge concerning the engravings of old Records which are ancient which contain those parts of my Scriptures of which hath been spoken by the manifestation of my Spirit

B:Oliver Verily Verily I say unto you that as aSuredly as the Lord liveth which is your God & your Redeemer even so shure you shall receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask with an honest heart believing that you shall receive a knowledge concerning the engravings of old Records which are ancient which contain those parts of my Scriptures which has been spoken by the manifestation of my Spirit

C: Oliver, verily, verily I say unto you, that assuredly as the Lord liveth, which is your God and your Redeemer, even so sure shall ye receive a knowledge of whatsoever things ye shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive a knowledge concerning the engravings of old records, which are ancient, which contain those parts of my scripture of which have been spoken, by the manifestation of my Spirit;

D: Oliver Cowdery, verily, verily, I say unto you, that assuredly as the Lord liveth, who is your God and your Redeemer, even so surely shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive a knowledge concerning the engravings of old records, which are ancient, which contain those parts of my scripture of which has been spoken by the manifestation of my Spirit.

Verse 2

A: yea Behold I will tell you in your mind & in your heart by the Holy Ghost which Shall come upon you & which shall dwell in your heart

<no changes of consequence in subsequent versions>

Verse 3

A: now Behold this is the spirit of Revelation Behold this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the red Sea on dry ground

<no changes of consequence in subsequent versions>

Verse 4

A: therefore this is thy gift apply unto it & blessed art thou for shall deliver you out of the hands of your enemies when if it were not so they would slay thee & bring thy soul to distruction

B: therefore this is thy gift apply unto it & blessed art thou for it shall deliver you out of the hands of your enemies when if it were not so they would slay you & bring your soul to distruction

<no changes of consequence in subsequent versions>

Verse 5

A: O remember these words & keep my commandments remember this is thy gift

B: O remember these words & keep my commandments remember this is your gift

<no changes of consequence in subsequent versions>

Verse 6

A: now this is not all for thou hast another gift which is the gift of working with the sprout Behold it hath told you things

B: now this is not all for you have another gift which is the gift of working with the rod Behold it has told you things

C: Now this is not all, for you have another gift, which is the gift of working with the rod:  behold it has told you things:

D: Now this is not all thy gift; for you have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron; behold, it has told you many things;

Verse 7

A: Behold there is no other power save God that can cause this thing of Nature to work in your hands for it is the work of God

B: Behold there is no other power save God that can cause Rod to work in your hands for it is the work of God

C: behold there is no other power save God, that can cause this rod of nature to work in your hands, for it is the work of God.

D: Behold, there is no other power, save the power of God, that can cause this gift of Aaron to be with you.

Verse 8

<text is unique to D>

D: Therefore, doubt not, for it is the gift of God; and you shall hold it in your hands, and do marvelous works; and no power shall be able to take it away out of your hands, for it is the work of God.

Verse 9

A:& therefore whatsoever ye shall ask to tell you by that means that will he grant unto you that ye shall know

B:& therefore whatsoever you shall ask me to tell you by that means that will I grant unto you that you shall know

C: and therefore whatsoever you shall ask me to tell you by that means, that will I grant unto you, that you shall know.

D: And, therefore, whatsoever you shall ask me to tell you by that means, that will I grant unto you, and you shall have knowledge concerning it.

Verse 10

A: remember that without faith ye can do nothing trifle not with these things do not ask for that which ye had not ought

B: remember that without faith you can do nothing trifle not with these things do not ask for that which you ought not

C: Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith. Trifle not with these things. Do not ask for that which you ought not.

<no changes of consequence in D>

Verse 11

A: ask that ye may know the mysteries of God & that ye may Translate all those ancient Records which have been hid up which are Sacred & according to your faith shall it be done unto you

B:  ask that you may know the mysteries of God & that you may Translate all those ancient Records which have been hid up which are Sacred & according to your faith it shall be done unto you

<no changes of consequence in C>
D: Ask that you may know the mysteries of God, and that you may translate and receive knowledge from all those ancient records which have been hid up, that are sacred; and according to your faith shall it be done unto you.

Verse 12

A: Behold it is I that have spoken it & I am the same which spake unto you from the beginning amen

<no changes of consequence in C>
D:   Behold, it is I that have spoken it; and I am the same that spake unto you from the beginning. Amen.