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New 4 volume history "transparent, honest, faithful"

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What do you expect to see in the new four volume histories?  A couple quotes from this article from Elder Snow make me wonder what exactly the church will include in these narratives.  

https://www.ldschurchnews.com/latest/2018-05-14/new-four-volume-history-of-the-church-will-be-transparent-honest-and-faithful-47140

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he said the volumes will be “transparent, honest and faithful,” with controversial aspects of Church history covered in the context of the entire story.

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“It is a narrative history written in an engaging style that will be accessible to both youth and adults,” he remarked.

“Saints, however, is not historical fiction. It is a true story based on the records of people from the past. Every detail and every line of dialogue is supported by historical sources.”

 

What does "every detail and every line of dialogue is supported by historical sources" really mean?  Does this mean third hand late accounts qualify as "supported by historical sources?"  

What do others think about these new books?  Are you excited?  If you've read the already published material, what is your impression?  

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It's written at a low level, and in narrative form. I prefer Roberts's Comprehensive History of the Church.

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4 minutes ago, rongo said:

It's written at a low level, and in narrative form. I prefer Roberts's Comprehensive History of the Church.

I think its intentionally written at a lower reading level because its being translated into multiple languages and its for general consumption.  

There has been a wealth of scholarship since Robert's history was written.  Why would you preference the old text?  

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4 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

What do you expect to see in the new four volume histories?  A couple quotes from this article from Elder Snow make me wonder what exactly the church will include in these narratives.  

https://www.ldschurchnews.com/latest/2018-05-14/new-four-volume-history-of-the-church-will-be-transparent-honest-and-faithful-47140

What does "every detail and every line of dialogue is supported by historical sources" really mean?  Does this mean third hand late accounts qualify as "supported by historical sources?"  

Could be. It just means that its "facts" are from historical sources, diaries, periodicals, etc. I don't think that necessarily means they are the most reliable. There are first hand accounts of what Joseph supposedly said, which I do not necessarily believe. People have a way of remembering things a little differently than what actually happened, or what was actually said. We are stuck with that in most historical accounts, unless they are taped, videoed, etc, which obviously didn't happen back then. I don't believe any amount of prayer will change that.

Whether the new history will be better than the current History of the Church is unsure in my mind. I will reserve my judgement until I read it... which may not happen. I have lots of other stuff to do. I find the history of the Church to be somewhat frustrating. I believe the saints embellish it, and the detractors exaggerate.... often to extremes. The truth is somewhere in the middle, and depends on quality of the sources, and obviously other things. However, I do believe the Joseph Smith project and other previously unexplored records can add interesting and important things to Church history. 

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Just now, RevTestament said:

Could be. It just means that its "facts" are from historical sources, diaries, periodicals, etc. I don't think that necessarily means they are the most reliable. There are first hand accounts of what Joseph supposedly said, which I do not necessarily believe. People have a way of remembering things a little differently than what actually happened, or what was actually said. We are stuck with that in most historical accounts, unless they are taped, videoed, etc, which obviously didn't happen back then. I don't believe any amount of prayer will change that.

Whether the new history will be better than the current History of the Church is unsure in my mind. I will reserve my judgement until I read it... which may not happen. I have lots of other stuff to do. I find the history of the Church to be somewhat frustrating. I believe the saints embellish it, and the detractors exaggerate.... often to extremes. The truth is somewhere in the middle, and depends on quality of the sources, and obviously other things. However, I do believe the Joseph Smith project and other previously unexplored records can add interesting and important things to Church history. 

I guess its the wording used that makes me suspicious.  When they use terms like "transparent" and "honest" and then say that "every detail" is supported by historical sources, that implies that the resulting narrative is reliable.  My worry is that once these new narratives are published that any alternative interpretations of the data won't be tolerated.  History is messy and there are often many different plausible interpretations and as new information is presented new interpretations emerge. 

I don't like the idea that these histories will be the final word or even an authoritative word on these subjects. 

Those are my concerns...

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I don't think Roberts's analysis has been superseded by the new scholarship. I think his is still superior. 

Example: the Toronto copyright incident. 

I also don't believe anything modern will come close to his history of the political intrigues (e.g., Colfax-Taylor debate, Ulysses S. Grant "I have been most foully gulled," etc.). 

Roberts's history was serialized and ran for a very long time in the American Historical Magazine (renamed Americana, and increased to a monthly to accommodate his history. It was commissioned because of his disembowelment of the Spaulding Theory). 

I wish people would read his and compare it to the new one. I'm confident that most would agree that his is better. But, we're not readers anymore, and LDS read hardly any of the "classics." 

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6 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I guess its the wording used that makes me suspicious.  When they use terms like "transparent" and "honest" and then say that "every detail" is supported by historical sources, that implies that the resulting narrative is reliable.  My worry is that once these new narratives are published that any alternative interpretations of the data won't be tolerated.  History is messy and there are often many different plausible interpretations and as new information is presented new interpretations emerge. 

I don't like the idea that these histories will be the final word or even an authoritative word on these subjects. 

Those are my concerns...

Using words like "transparent" and "honest in every detail" comes across as protesting too much. Like someone who goes on and on about how honest they are. Usually, that's a good time to check your wallet. :) 

Seriously. Just write it and publish it and it will rise on its own merits. It looks really defensive and rabbit-eared to proclaim in advance how honest and transparent it is. 

Sidenote: Roberts's history, when it was published, was groundbreaking for a number of reasons, but one of them was because of its courage in addressing difficult issues (the joint stock company in England, where the entire mission presidency disappeared and only one faced discipline --- including Reuben Hedlock, the man who did the woodcuts for the BoA facsimiles. Or the Gibson apostasy in Hawaii). The secretary to the First Presidency remarked when it came out (in a strong Scottish brogue), "Oh, the frankness o' it, the frankness o' it. How dare ye do it, man?" 

I really can't see interesting and important things like this even appearing in this new re-write. 

Edited by rongo
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Attached is the index I made for myself for the six volume Comprehensive History of the Church. Much of it won't mean much, because it's in my own pidgin shorthand, but it's a good supplement for me to the published index. Roberts's footnote material is outstanding. 

CHC.doc

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35 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

What do you expect to see in the new four volume histories?  A couple quotes from this article from Elder Snow make me wonder what exactly the church will include in these narratives.  

https://www.ldschurchnews.com/latest/2018-05-14/new-four-volume-history-of-the-church-will-be-transparent-honest-and-faithful-47140

What does "every detail and every line of dialogue is supported by historical sources" really mean?  Does this mean third hand late accounts qualify as "supported by historical sources?"  

What do others think about these new books?  Are you excited?  If you've read the already published material, what is your impression?  

There have been sample chapters in the past couple of Ensign magazines, and I'm surprised they have not been discussed on MDDB!

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1 hour ago, rongo said:

Attached is the index I made for myself for the six volume Comprehensive History of the Church. Much of it won't mean much, because it's in my own pidgin shorthand, but it's a good supplement for me to the published index. Roberts's footnote material is outstanding. 

CHC.doc

Ausgezeichnet!

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You can read the first few chapters here to see what it will be like: https://history.lds.org/saints?lang=eng&cid=rdb_v_saints_eng. It's written in simple language, but I think it's pretty good. These first chapters talk about seer stones and treasure digging, for example, which will probably be new information for a lot of members.

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I just don't care for this narrative style:

He had stayed awake and alert the whole time, his face pale and dripping with sweat. His mother, who was usually so strong, had nearly fallen apart when she heard his screams. After that, she probably felt that she could bear anything.

As Joseph limped along beside the wagon, he could see his mother was certainly bearing with Mr. Howard. They had already traveled two hundred miles, and so far she had been more than patient with the driver’s bad behavior.

Are we completely throwing in the towel on encouraging people to read our history? Why not encourage people to read DHC/CHC? Even as a starting point?

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1 hour ago, rongo said:

I just don't care for this narrative style:

 

 

It's not my preference. Too much like The Work and the Glory.

But my impression is they feel they have to present it in this form to make it palatable for the millennial-and-later generations with their short attention spans and all.

That, by the way, is the reason for the emphasis on transparency and readily accessible historical sources -- lest it seem to much like a novelization, which it isn't. For example, if the narrative says it was a bright and sunny day, that can be documented.

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1 hour ago, Okrahomer said:

Ausgezeichnet!

Gesundheit!

 

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2 hours ago, rongo said:

I don't think Roberts's analysis has been superseded by the new scholarship. I think his is still superior. 

Example: the Toronto copyright incident. 

I also don't believe anything modern will come close to his history of the political intrigues (e.g., Colfax-Taylor debate, Ulysses S. Grant "I have been most foully gulled," etc.). 

Roberts's history was serialized and ran for a very long time in the American Historical Magazine (renamed Americana, and increased to a monthly to accommodate his history. It was commissioned because of his disembowelment of the Spaulding Theory). 

I wish people would read his and compare it to the new one. I'm confident that most would agree that his is better. But, we're not readers anymore, and LDS read hardly any of the "classics." 

Honestly I have only read portions of the Robert's history, and I probably should read it all sometime.  I know he's well respected as one of the best thinkers in Mormonism.  However, I have a hard time believing his historical analysis with the tools he had in his day and his lack of formal training in historiography, is even on the same level with modern historians.  

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2 hours ago, CV75 said:

There have been sample chapters in the past couple of Ensign magazines, and I'm surprised they have not been discussed on MDDB!

There have been a couple threads here that I've commented on in the past, I found this one, but I recall another thread when the Ensign published the sample chapters, yet I couldn't find that one in my search.  

http://www.mormondialogue.org/topic/69088-new-four-volume-comprehensive-history-of-the-church-to-emerge-next-year/

 

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15 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

It's not my preference. Too much like The Work and the Glory.

But my impression is they feel they have to present it in this form to make it palatable for the millennial-and-later generations with their short attention spans and all.

That, by the way, is the reason for the emphasis on transparency and readily accessible historical sources -- lest it seem to much like a novelization, which it isn't. For example, if the narrative says it was a bright and sunny day, that can be documented.

The other thing about all this, is if they just publish these new narrative histories and don't update the Sunday School curriculum then I give up.  The church needs to start teaching the complex history over the pulpit, in Sunday School, at conference, etc.  There is no excuse.  If these narrative histories are just published to throw another bone to those who are struggling with questions about church history, then this will be a big waste of time and resources.  

These books aren't providing new scholarship, like the JSP is, so if these books aren't mainstreamed and utilized by orthodox members, then they are a big waste.  

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Okrahomer said:

Ausgezeichnet!

Sie sprechen Deutsch?  Ja, das ist ausgezeichnet! ;):D 

Edited by Kenngo1969
Ich kann nicht schreibe richtig.

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5 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Honestly I have only read portions of the Robert's history, and I probably should read it all sometime.  I know he's well respected as one of the best thinkers in Mormonism.  However, I have a hard time believing his historical analysis with the tools he had in his day and his lack of formal training in historiography, is even on the same level with modern historians.  

There are things he didn't know or didn't have access to, for sure. But even accounting for that, he compares very favorably with the best of modern Mormon historians. And to think that he couldn't read when he left England for Zion! His first experience with the Holy Ghost was when a newspaper blew across his feet, and he wondered at the magic of writing and yearned to know what it said. What he calls the "soul voice" many times in his autobiography told him he would learn to read the writing, "Aye, and write them, too!" 

It's a neat story how he worked up to valedictorian while in Bountiful with his mother, and humiliated by his poverty and uncoutheness, he stumbled through his valedictory speech. With a twinkle in his eye, Joseph F. Smith came up to him after, shook his hand, and said, "Them's my sentiments, too!" 

It is really staggering what some people (Thomas Jefferson, B. H. Roberts, etc.) did (amount of self-motivated learning, writing production, knowledge, etc.) with what they had, compared to what any one of us has nominal access to. Or the George Reynolds Concordance of the Book of Mormon, written while in prison for polygamy under the Edwards Act. 

Do you think that the new narrative history will contain a detailed description of the evolution of the anti-polygamy legislation?

----

Morrill Act (1862) First federal anti-bigamy law

Wade Act (1866) Militia abolished, juries selected by U.S. Marshall, probate judges appointed by appointed governor, Mormon leaders prohibited from performing marriages, tax-exempt status revoked, church authority to regulate fellowship status of members revoked, trustee-in-trust required to make a full annual report to appointed governor of church finances.

Cragin/Cullom Act (1867)  abolition of trial by jury in polygamy cases, prosecution on information by the prosecuting attorney, instead of by indictment of a grand jury.

Ashley Bill (1869)  Most of Utah Territory to be absorbed by Nevada, Colorado, and Wyoming; small, two degree-wide swath up the middle would remain as Utah Territory. Rejected when it was pointed out in floor debate that this would give Mormons the balance of power in four territories instead of just one! Springfield (Mass.) Republican editorial: “Under this bill, the Mormons, instead of being divided and conquered, would divide and conquer . . .”

Logan/Poland/Frelinghuysen bills (1872-1879) Stripped county (local) courts of all criminal, civil, and chancery jurisdiction and transferred jurisdiction for local matters to federal appointees. Offices of territorial marshal and attorney general abolished; authority and duties transferred to U.S. Marshal and U.S. district attorney. Juries to be determined by U.S. Marshal’s office. Unlimited deputizing authority given to the U.S. Marshal, with costs to be borne by “the treasury of the territory.” Frelinghuysen overturned by U.S. Supreme Court

Young Bill (1879)  Introduced “co-habitation” as an offense (“living in the marriage relation”). A “continuous offense” (theoretically unlimited sentencing).

Willits Bill (1879)  Anyone practicing or believing in polygamy being commanded by God prohibited from jury duty. No proof of marriage required for conviction; “co-habitation” only. Voting rights and right to hold elective office prohibited for anyone practicing or believing in polygamy being commanded by God. Polygamy test oath. 

Burrows Bill (1879) Amendment to U.S. Constitution outlawing polygamy.

Edmunds Act (1883)  Incorporated many of the above; set federal penalties (up to $500 and 5 years for polygamy; up to $300 and six months for “unlawful cohabitation”). Allowed convictions for both polygamy and “unlawful cohabitation.”

Edmunds-Tucker Act (1887) Polygamy and unlawful cohabitation “continuous offenses.” Women’s suffrage abolished in Utah. Perpetual Immigration Fund abolished by law. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dissolved as a corporation. Church property seized.

-----

I got that all from Roberts's CHC! :) How much of that do you think will appear in the narrative history? Not because "we can't handle it," but because it isn't the sort of stuff the writers and editors are going to want to write about, based on what has appeared so far.  Yet, people (most of whom have never heard of any of this) find this to be intensely interesting, when they are told about it, and it helps them put Wilford Woodruff's dilemma into perspective. Plus, it stands as a reminder that "it can happen here, and it can happen again" with respect to the government. 

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14 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

If they just publish these new narrative histories and don't update the Sunday School curriculum then I give up.

Promise???

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13 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

The other thing about all this, is if they just publish these new narrative histories and don't update the Sunday School curriculum then I give up.  The church needs to start teaching the complex history over the pulpit, in Sunday School, at conference, etc.  There is no excuse.  If these narrative histories are just published to throw another bone to those who are struggling with questions about church history, then this will be a big waste of time and resources.  

These books aren't providing new scholarship, like the JSP is, so if these books aren't mainstreamed and utilized by orthodox members, then they are a big waste.  

I guess I'm not seeing what, if anything, precludes teachers and speakers in the Church today from drawing upon the new history or the Gospel Topics essays or the Joseph Smith Papers project or the older works by B. H. Roberts or any other authoritative and properly vetted source for inclusion in their lessons and sermons

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Just now, Scott Lloyd said:

I guess I'm not seeing what, if anything, precludes teachers and speakers in the Church today from drawing upon the new history or the Gospel Topics essays or the Joseph Smith Papers project or the older works by B. H. Roberts or any other authoritative and properly vetted source for inclusion in their lessons and sermons

Are DHC (the official church history edited by Roberts) and CHC (Roberts's history up to 1933) even available in the Gospel Library? I would guess that they aren't (I don't have a smart phone). While people can buy DHC at Deseret Book, nobody does anymore. CHC is a rare item that you'd have to buy as you find it (I have my great-grandmother's set, myself). 

I would prefer that the Church promote and reprint and emphasize those. There would need to be new things printed on important new developments and post-1933 history, but it would do people and the Church a lot of good if they simply were encouraged to read the Church histories that already exist. 

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12 minutes ago, Kenngo1969 said:

Sie sprechen Deutsch?  Ja, das ist ausgeseichnet! ;):D 

Ja, gerne!  Und Sie...sprechen Sie auch Deutsch?

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43 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Gesundheit!

 

Das ist aber lustig!

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