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About mapman

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  1. mapman

    Review of Dehlin's "Truth Claims" Essays

    I was thinking of the people that buy into the escaping and recovering from Mormonism idea that congregate at places like the exmormon subreddit who join a community instead of just stop going to church like most people. But you're right that's a more accurate comparison. There are communities of Latter-day Saints that are very knowledgeable about the history as well.
  2. mapman

    Review of Dehlin's "Truth Claims" Essays

    I've only read the treasure seeking article, but at least in that case the author definitely seems to depend heavily on a couple of authors that wrote on the topic back in the 80s and 90s (Mike Quinn and Dan Vogel). There's nothing wrong with those authors, both have done very useful research, but it seems to indicate a lack of depth in understanding and comes off as unprofessional as there have been numerous books and articles written on the topic since then. I got a degree in history, so maybe I expect too much of people, but I feel like if you are going to pretend like you are promoting more accurate history than what the church has made, then you need to get an actual historian to write the articles. In my opinion the Gospel Topics essays aren't the most amazing things ever either, but they are much better than what Dehlin's come up with. It disturbs me that people are so easily convinced that one particular book or article has the "true" history of what happened. It's always a good idea to read multiple takes on a topic. I think this is especially true in the realm of religious history. While your average ex-Mormon might be aware of more historical facts than your average church member, I don't think there's any reason to think that they are any better at doing history. It's seems like a lot of people just switch from wholehearted belief in one narrative to wholehearted belief in another. To be fair, not everyone has the time or resources to do lots of historical research. But I'm convinced that a lot of our historical narratives are going to be revised by historians in the future, and it probably won't look like neither the church's current narratives or the anti-Mormon narratives.
  3. mapman

    Left Hand

    What I don't get is how Elder Oaks seems to think these kids should've known better. How could they have known better if it's not in the handbook and not ever taught in general conference or in church publications? He's got to be aware that it's not actually an official policy, right? I want to be charitable, but lately Elder Oaks just seems to be in an entirely different universe from my reality sometimes.
  4. Masonic histories that were available in the early 1800s often included these stories. Like this book, for example. It makes me wonder how much of the Masonic myths Joseph Smith was aware of. From what I understand all of the medieval Masonic manuscripts trace their origins back to Egypt. The Egyptian mysteries were traced back to the antediluvian stone pillars that were supposed to have been rediscovered by the Egyptians and were written by Enoch in some versions of the story. That's a really old story and shows up in Josephus and lots of other places. Alchemy and hermeticism also traditionally traced their origins to this same story. Whether there is any truth to it, it's hard to say. I'm doubtful whether any of the specific rituals can be traced back that far, but some aspects of the general esoteric worldview and cosmology can be plausibly traced back to antiquity.
  5. I wrote my previous comment off the top of my head, so it turns out that I didn't remember exactly what the sources said about Walter's journey to Europe. A while ago I collected what I believe is a more or less complete collection of sources that mention Luman Walter. Since the question of what Joseph Smith might have come into contact with from Walter seems relevant, I thought I'd copy all the sources that talk about Walter's travels and education (there are more than I remembered): Brigham Young sermon, 19 July 1857: Elizabeth Kane journal, 15 January 1873: Clark Braden speech, 1884: "Doctor of Olden Days Used Herb Remedies," Geneva Daily Times, 26 July 1929: It seems like the sources agree that he went to Europe, though what he studied differs. Brigham Young said he was studying to be a priest, Artemisia Snow said he received a "scientific education", Clark Braden says he studied mesmerism/animal magnetism, and his grandson apparently believed he studied at a medical college. The earliest sources on what types of things he practiced or believed in: "Escape from Justice," Concord [New Hampshire] Gazette, 1 September 1818: "Book of Pukei" Chapter 1 [parody of the Book of Mormon], Palmyra Reflector, 12 June 1830: The way he's portrayed in the earliest sources seems to be a mixture of folk beliefs (treasure seeking, conjuration, etc.) and ceremonial magic (magic circles, using an old book, etc.). It's possible that he learned animal magnetism, but it isn't evident in the earliest sources, and the only source that claims that is a late hearsay account (1880s) that uses it to explain the alleged mesmeric power Joseph Smith held over his followers. He's also portrayed as being deceptive and trying to appear more mysterious or knowledgeable than he really was in the Palmyra newspapers in the 1830s. If that's true, then it's possible that he didn't go to Europe at all, but made up the story to boost his reputation.
  6. Luman Walter's early life is not well documented. There is one source that says that he studied in Europe and another that said he went to Paris. That's all we know about that. The story goes that he ran away from home when he was a little kid and went to Europe by himself. I don't think there is good enough documentation to know that he really went, it could have just been a story. Even if he did, there's no way to know who he came into contact with. He was a "doctor" later in life, but it was more like herbs and potions than normal medicine. His father and a couple if his brothers were also "doctors", so I don't think it was necessarily new for him. He also continued to do treasure seeking after he moved south of Palmyra later in his life. His obituary described him as "eccentric", so he didn't rebrand himself really.
  7. You're right that he phrased that strangely. It could just have his name mentioned in the document. I'm having a hard time imagining what could be 120 pages, maybe someone's journal?
  8. His appearance and sexuality are completely irrelevant, so let's just stick to talking about the manuscript and his public activities.
  9. Do we have any numbers on percentage of candidates that are Latter-day Saints vs. those that get elected?
  10. Thanks Calm! Sounds like an interesting guy.
  11. I'm pretty skeptical too, but he apparently has experience dealing in real artifacts, so I think it is possible he found some significant document. I think it is possible he is portraying it in a way to make it sound more exciting than it really is, as I suspect his descriptions of Oliver Cowdery's Book of Mormon are.
  12. Just noticed this exchange in the comments on the Facebook post: Commenter: "will a copy of the manuscript you mentioned make it into the Joseph Smith papers project? If not I highly suggest you make copies available. I want to read it!" John Hajicek: "they don't have a reciprocal policy." C. "and therefore you don't intend to give access to the document? Will you make this document available for research?" JH. "I intend to obtain a reciprocal agreement." So it sounds like he is considering making it available to the Joseph Smith Papers Project if they can make a deal if I understand correctly. I'm not sure what a reciprocal policy means.
  13. A man named John Hajicek is claiming to own a 120-page manuscript from Joseph Smith from when he lived in Palmyra. In a Facebook post about a painting of Joseph and Hyrum he acquired, he put at the bottom: I've never heard about him before, but his website is here. He was involved in a lawsuit with the church about an agreement to sell a historical painting to the church a few years ago. Does anyone know anything about this guy or this manuscript he says he acquired?
  14. There was a conspiracy theory that Freemasons were as an entire organization out to murder people, take over the government, etc. It's pretty similar to how cunning folk back in the early modern period were accused by the church of being witches and of conspiring with Satan to murder people and generally destroy society. Other esoteric groups and societies like Rosicrucians or more recently Satanists and Wicca have had similar accusations made against them. Our own temples have been accused of some pretty lurid stuff as well. It seems that secretive and socially marginal religious groups are often the victims of conspiracy theories.
  15. Yes, I agree with what you are saying here. I have found it best to think of the New Age movement as a new religious movement that is a mixture of Western esotericism and Eastern mysticism. I think your point that it is not possible to divide magic from religion is what I was trying to get across. People have tried to come up with objective definitions for magic, like that it is the belief in manipulating spirits or the physical world through symbols and rituals, but even when you can identify magical practices that way, it is misleading because the practitioners have usually not distinguished these practices from their religious beliefs in their own worldview. Some groups have used the word magic to describe their own practices (especially people like Cornelius Agrippa or Aleister Crowley or neopagans), so I think it is proper to use the word in the cases where the practitioners use it themselves. I don't think anyone has actually demonstrated whether the treasure seekers in upstate New York themselves considered what they were doing was magic. Obviously other people in the community did, but do we really have a good understanding of their own worldview? Based on the way that the Book of Mormon consistently associates magic with witchcraft and wickedness, I'm doubtful that Joseph would have viewed it that way, though he could have changed how he thought about it by that point. I agree that it is interesting that there has always been so much pseudoscience and anti-science beliefs. One thing that I was surprised by was a study (I think it was done by Pew) that showed that the majority of religious "nones" believed in God and considered themselves spiritual. It made me change the way I think about our society. I think a lot of us assume that we are getting more atheistic or agnostic, but it seems like we are mostly just rejecting organized religion in greater numbers and becoming more willing to be eclectic in our beliefs.