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“Doubt Not, but Be Believing” Elder and Sister Renlund CES Training June 2018

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34 minutes ago, SteveO said:

Man, some of the above comments didn’t really back you up here did they?

Actually, they did.  Nobody above has used the inflammatory language Hamba claimed. 

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10 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I genuinely get the impression many of the disaffected do think this way. One sees it in their questions. It's all through Happy Jack's list above.

I recently caught up with an LDS housemate of mine from way back. He's joined the disaffected. He kept assuring me he wouldn't tell me what he knows because he didn't want me to lose my faith since it's such an awful experience. I laughed out loud the third of fourth time he said it. I honestly couldn't convince him that 'what he knows' isn't going to be anything new or unfamiliar to me.

I told him he was being demeaning and patronising, that it was offensive. He didn't get it. At all.

I'm curious, after looking at my list, do you see other possibilities I missed, or are some of the possibilities listed not possible?

Personally, and I only speak for myself, I believe that there are MANY active church members who have no clue about many of the historical issues and inconsistencies. Some avoid the controversies on purpose, others are just blissfully unaware. They don't know what they don't know and feel they know enough. They don't need to know more. Many don't care enough to look into the problems or study the history. That's fine. It works for them. But for many they maintain a level of high faith based on low knowledge. There are so many examples I've read from others, and some I've experienced myself, that I have no question there are MANY members and MANY leaders (local in my experience) who are unaware. Many still have very strong faith in the old narratives of church history, completely unaware that the church has shifted positions and now recognize the truthfulness of some alternative history. (There are still many who are unaware of multiple 1st vision accounts, many unaware of JS polyandry, etc)

BUT...I also believe that there are many who have read and studied and are well aware of issues that others find troubling, yet are not troubled themselves. As others have said, it is often a difference in POV. So it would be wrong and silly to suggest that every "faithful" member is unaware of the issues.

Regarding your housemate, I understand why his approach was patronizing. But I also understand that he most likely has been taught that patronizing attitude by other members and even leaders. When I opened up to my SP about my struggles he flat out told me not to discuss them with other people. He didn't want others "infected" with my doubt and he didn't want me to make them aware of issues I saw. Just because it was my issue, why would I try to harm someone elses faith by telling them about it. I've been told similar things by family. I think it' has been a part of church culture not to talk about these things. Fortunately, that is changing in some ways, yet still, most would find it inappropriate for a doubting/disaffected member to raise concerns in Gospel Principles or Gospel Doctrine class. Why? Because no on wants to risk that the sharing of doubts will negatively impact others. Frankly, there is no place in church services to have these kinds of conversations because of the fear of "infecting" others.

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9 minutes ago, rockpond said:

Actually, they did.  Nobody above has used the inflammatory language Hamba claimed. 

“sure sure - everyone believes adulterous pedophiles are rewarded with the highest degree of glory, while those who refuse to be eternally victimized are condemned to outer darkness - if that is who God is, I do not want to spend eternity with that.  I choose outer darkness over eternal abuse/disloyalty/adultery/hypocrisy/patriarchal horror.  I'll have none of it.”

I guess we disagree on what constitutes inflammatory  language then

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1 hour ago, JLHPROF said:

 

Adultery is defined as having sex with someone other than your spouse.  Joseph didn't do that.  They were all married to him.  They were all his wives.  You cannot commit adultery by having a relationship with a spouse.

He didn't marry them, because the only marriage that was legal was to Emma. 

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55 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I'm curious, after looking at my list, do you see other possibilities I missed, or are some of the possibilities listed not possible?

Personally, and I only speak for myself, I believe that there are MANY active church members who have no clue about many of the historical issues and inconsistencies. Some avoid the controversies on purpose, others are just blissfully unaware. They don't know what they don't know and feel they know enough. They don't need to know more. Many don't care enough to look into the problems or study the history. That's fine. It works for them. But for many they maintain a level of high faith based on low knowledge. There are so many examples I've read from others, and some I've experienced myself, that I have no question there are MANY members and MANY leaders (local in my experience) who are unaware. Many still have very strong faith in the old narratives of church history, completely unaware that the church has shifted positions and now recognize the truthfulness of some alternative history. (There are still many who are unaware of multiple 1st vision accounts, many unaware of JS polyandry, etc)

BUT...I also believe that there are many who have read and studied and are well aware of issues that others find troubling, yet are not troubled themselves. As others have said, it is often a difference in POV. So it would be wrong and silly to suggest that every "faithful" member is unaware of the issues.

Regarding your housemate, I understand why his approach was patronizing. But I also understand that he most likely has been taught that patronizing attitude by other members and even leaders. When I opened up to my SP about my struggles he flat out told me not to discuss them with other people. He didn't want others "infected" with my doubt and he didn't want me to make them aware of issues I saw. Just because it was my issue, why would I try to harm someone elses faith by telling them about it. I've been told similar things by family. I think it' has been a part of church culture not to talk about these things. Fortunately, that is changing in some ways, yet still, most would find it inappropriate for a doubting/disaffected member to raise concerns in Gospel Principles or Gospel Doctrine class. Why? Because no on wants to risk that the sharing of doubts will negatively impact others. Frankly, there is no place in church services to have these kinds of conversations because of the fear of "infecting" others.

IMO, inadvertently the Renlunds and the church essays, and FAIR and other outlets from church sources have affected members much, much more than anti information or critics or from those that doubt. I'd bet money that many came away from the devotional wondering what these issues were that they'd not known about.

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57 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I'm curious, after looking at my list, do you see other possibilities I missed, or are some of the possibilities listed not possible?

Personally, and I only speak for myself, I believe that there are MANY active church members who have no clue about many of the historical issues and inconsistencies. Some avoid the controversies on purpose, others are just blissfully unaware. They don't know what they don't know and feel they know enough. They don't need to know more. Many don't care enough to look into the problems or study the history. That's fine. It works for them. But for many they maintain a level of high faith based on low knowledge. There are so many examples I've read from others, and some I've experienced myself, that I have no question there are MANY members and MANY leaders (local in my experience) who are unaware. Many still have very strong faith in the old narratives of church history, completely unaware that the church has shifted positions and now recognize the truthfulness of some alternative history. (There are still many who are unaware of multiple 1st vision accounts, many unaware of JS polyandry, etc)

BUT...I also believe that there are many who have read and studied and are well aware of issues that others find troubling, yet are not troubled themselves. As others have said, it is often a difference in POV. So it would be wrong and silly to suggest that every "faithful" member is unaware of the issues.

Regarding your housemate, I understand why his approach was patronizing. But I also understand that he most likely has been taught that patronizing attitude by other members and even leaders. When I opened up to my SP about my struggles he flat out told me not to discuss them with other people. He didn't want others "infected" with my doubt and he didn't want me to make them aware of issues I saw. Just because it was my issue, why would I try to harm someone elses faith by telling them about it. I've been told similar things by family. I think it' has been a part of church culture not to talk about these things. Fortunately, that is changing in some ways, yet still, most would find it inappropriate for a doubting/disaffected member to raise concerns in Gospel Principles or Gospel Doctrine class. Why? Because no on wants to risk that the sharing of doubts will negatively impact others. Frankly, there is no place in church services to have these kinds of conversations because of the fear of "infecting" others.

I think it's opening up a little.  For example at the stake seminary kick-off fireside recently, our stake president said to everyone, "Did you know there are multiple accounts of the first vision?"  "Read them!"  "They're wonderful!"   

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2 hours ago, changed said:

JS going behind Emma's back, (she was #23 to be sealed to him in the temple) absolutely is adultery.  JS taking other men's wives, JS praying on young daughters...  Yes, some people were married young back then but it was a YOUNG man and and YOUNG girl that was normal, not old man + young girl.  132 - the new and everlasting covenant - polygamy, polyandry - that is hell, not heaven.  

What is the closest thing to polygamy/polyandry you have actually experienced? What is the closest thing to having one of your young children taken away by an old HP have you experienced?  If you have not experienced it, you cannot understand what it really means.  

sure sure - everyone believes adulterous pedophiles are rewarded with the highest degree of glory, while those who refuse to be eternally victimized are condemned to outer darkness - if that is who God is, I do not want to spend eternity with that.  I choose outer darkness over eternal abuse/disloyalty/adultery/hypocrisy/patriarchal horror.  I'll have none of it.

I don't think it was right to go behind Emma's back and marry girls in the relief society.  I suppose others here on this board disagree?  For me emotional affairs of this kind will destroy a marriage.  

Reminds of the man at the swedish rescue fireside, who asked, ": But  why  does  my  spirit  talks  to  me  and  screams  wrong, 
wrong, wrong, even  if  it’s  a  prophet  of God? Do I  have  the  devil  in me 
Page 33 of 52 who’s talking to me and says I should understand this 14 and 16‐year old 
girls marrying?  I can’t – my spirit doesn’t – I can’t get it through my mind. 
Is  it  the  devil  speaks  to  me?  That  I  should  accept  that  because  Joseph 
Smith is a prophet?  So  he  did  that  right, it was God  told  him  to  do  that? Go  behind Emma 
and take these wives? Girls who were working for them in the house?"

However, it is true that I don't have a PhD in history.  So maybe that's the problem.  

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21 minutes ago, blueglass said:

I think it's opening up a little.  For example at the stake seminary kick-off fireside recently, our stake president said to everyone, "Did you know there are multiple accounts of the first vision?"  "Read them!"  "They're wonderful!"   

Wonderful - how the account changes from version to version?  How the first account follows the trinity notion of God - with just one spiritual being instead of two.. no mension of asking which church was true...  how it was just a vision, just a dream with no tangible visitation - just a pondering of his mind?

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2 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

 

Adultery is defined as having sex with someone other than your spouse.  Joseph didn't do that.  They were all married to him.  They were all his wives.  You cannot commit adultery by having a relationship with a spouse.

Not a legally recognized marriage - not a marriage - it was adultery... or do you not believe in following the laws of the land, being subject to, which AF was that again?  

That second question... what similar situation have you experienced?  That you understand this so well?  Have you experienced your spouse cheating on you behind your back?  Have you experienced having a one of your children victimized by someone "called by God"?  That's great if you have no experience with it - but please recognize your ignorance... imagine it....then recognize the vast chasm between theory and reality....

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1 hour ago, SteveO said:

“sure sure - everyone believes adulterous pedophiles are rewarded with the highest degree of glory, while those who refuse to be eternally victimized are condemned to outer darkness - if that is who God is, I do not want to spend eternity with that.  I choose outer darkness over eternal abuse/disloyalty/adultery/hypocrisy/patriarchal horror.  I'll have none of it.”

I guess we disagree on what constitutes inflammatory  language then

I guess so.

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1 hour ago, blueglass said:

I think it's opening up a little.  For example at the stake seminary kick-off fireside recently, our stake president said to everyone, "Did you know there are multiple accounts of the first vision?"  "Read them!"  "They're wonderful!"   

That is a MUCH more effective way of addressing the issue. It's a great way of saying "there's nothing to see here" without saying it. Inoculation at its best. 

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4 hours ago, changed said:

Wonderful - how the account changes from version to version?  How the first account follows the trinity notion of God - with just one spiritual being instead of two.. no mension of asking which church was true...  how it was just a vision, just a dream with no tangible visitation - just a pondering of his mind?

You realize that's not the trinity notion but the modalist notion, right? The standard first vision account is much more trinitarian. The break with standard trinitarianism comes later with the idea that the Father was embodied with a resurrected body like Jesus. Also the first account doesn't portray it as a dream. There are some inconsistencies on his age, but theologically there's far less there. But it certainly doesn't present it as a dream. 

"while in <the> attitude of calling upon the Lord <in the 16th year of my age> a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the <Lord> opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord..."

While just Jesus is mentioned, what's remarkable is how similar the 1832 account is to the standard one.

4 hours ago, blueglass said:

I don't think it was right to go behind Emma's back and marry girls in the relief society.  I suppose others here on this board disagree?  For me emotional affairs of this kind will destroy a marriage. 

I agree. But an other way to look at it is that when Emma refused to obey the commandment Joseph should have simply been forthright with Emma. Instead he tried to have it both ways - maintain his relationship to Emma despite her view of the commandment while follow the commandment in secret (and contrary to his own later revelation which was explicitly for Emma). So it's quite possible to agree this was a failure of Joseph but in the opposite direction.

4 hours ago, changed said:

Not a legally recognized marriage - not a marriage - it was adultery... or do you not believe in following the laws of the land, being subject to, which AF was that again?

At the time it wasn't at all clear whether the state could or should control such things. For instance prosecution for adultery today would seem an egregious type of fascism and inappropriate use of state power. Even in the 1830's there were huge disagreements over this point and whether marriage was primarily a religious issue or a state issue. Mormons prior to polygamy were marrying people independent of the state. Personally I think our country would have been much better off had the state simply stayed out of the issue of marriage.

As to following the laws of the land, I think it complicated especially when the laws of the land are unjust. I recognize this is a touchy subject in the church since there definitely is a sense in which democracy implies we respect the decisions of those we may disagree with. At the same time though I think it clear civil disobedience is sometimes right.

5 hours ago, Tacenda said:

IMO, inadvertently the Renlunds and the church essays, and FAIR and other outlets from church sources have affected members much, much more than anti information or critics or from those that doubt. I'd bet money that many came away from the devotional wondering what these issues were that they'd not known about.

I doubt it. In many ways their sermon was extremely conventional and quite similar to many talks from back when I was in college. I think the difference today is less what you outline than a perception that doubts should be more respected. You see that in say Jana Riess' recent article. But that is a broader social change from the 90's.

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5 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

You realize that's not the trinity notion but the modalist notion, right? The standard first vision account is much more trinitarian. The break with standard trinitarianism comes later with the idea that the Father was embodied with a resurrected body like Jesus. Also the first account doesn't portray it as a dream. There are some inconsistencies on his age, but theologically there's far less there. But it certainly doesn't present it as a dream. 

"while in <the> attitude of calling upon the Lord <in the 16th year of my age> a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the <Lord> opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord..."

While just Jesus is mentioned, what's remarkable is how similar the 1832 account is to the standard one.

[/quote]

 

If it was a dream - a "vision" - if it was a "visitation" - then why is it not called the first "visitation"?  It is called a "vision" because that is all it was - a dream, a vision.  

Was there one being? two beings?  were there angles? no angels?  was the main being just an angel? or was it God? or was it Jesus?  ... did it happen when he was at home sleeping in bed? or in a grove?  did he really ever tell anyone about it?  decades later it 'sort of' is shared?  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Vision

In his 1838 account, Smith wrote that he made an oblique reference to the vision to his mother in 1820, telling her the day it happened that he had "learned for [him]self that Presbyterianism is not true."[95] Lucy did not mention this conversation in her memoirs.[96][97]

Smith wrote he "could find none that would believe" his experience.[98] He said that shortly after the experience, he told the story of his revelation to a Methodist minister[99] who responded "with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there was no such thing as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there never would be any more of them."[100] He also said that the telling of his vision story "excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase."[101] There is no extant evidence from the 1830s for this persecution beyond Smith's own testimony.[102] None of the earliest anti-Mormon literature mentioned the First Vision.[103] 

... the LDS Church's emphasis on the First Vision was a "'late development', only gaining an influential status in LDS self-reflection late in the nineteenth century....

nice tables summarizing differences...

After plural marriage ended at the turn of the 20th century, Joseph F. Smith heavily promoted the First Vision, and it soon replaced polygamy in the minds of adherents as the main defining element of Mormonism and the source of the faith's perception of persecution by outsiders.[137] From 1905 to 1912, the story of the First Vision was slowly incorporated into church histories, missionary tracts, and Sunday school lesson manuals.[138] As a result, belief in the First Vision is now considered fundamental to the faith, second in importance only to belief in the divinity of Jesus.[139]

Hinckley: "Either Joseph Smith talked with the Father and the Son or he did not. If he did not, we are engaged in a blasphemy."[142]

Edited by changed

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22 minutes ago, changed said:

If it was not a dream - not a "vision" - if it was a "visitation" - then why is not called the first "visitation"?  It is called a "vision" because that is all it was - a dream, a vision.  

Was there one being? two beings?  were there angles? no angels?  was the main being just an angel? or was it God? or was it Jesus?  ... did it happen when he was at home sleeping in bed? or in a grove?  did he really ever tell anyone about it?  decades later it 'sort of' is shared?  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Vision

In his 1838 account, Smith wrote that he made an oblique reference to the vision to his mother in 1820, telling her the day it happened that he had "learned for [him]self that Presbyterianism is not true."[95] Lucy did not mention this conversation in her memoirs.[96][97]

Smith wrote he "could find none that would believe" his experience.[98] He said that shortly after the experience, he told the story of his revelation to a Methodist minister[99] who responded "with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there was no such thing as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there never would be any more of them."[100] He also said that the telling of his vision story "excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase."[101] There is no extant evidence from the 1830s for this persecution beyond Smith's own testimony.[102] None of the earliest anti-Mormon literature mentioned the First Vision.[103] 

... the LDS Church's emphasis on the First Vision was a "'late development', only gaining an influential status in LDS self-reflection late in the nineteenth century....

nice tables summarizing differences...

After plural marriage ended at the turn of the 20th century, Joseph F. Smith heavily promoted the First Vision, and it soon replaced polygamy in the minds of adherents as the main defining element of Mormonism and the source of the faith's perception of persecution by outsiders.[137] From 1905 to 1912, the story of the First Vision was slowly incorporated into church histories, missionary tracts, and Sunday school lesson manuals.[138] As a result, belief in the First Vision is now considered fundamental to the faith, second in importance only to belief in the divinity of Jesus.[139]

Hinckley: "Either Joseph Smith talked with the Father and the Son or he did not. If he did not, we are engaged in a blasphemy."[142]

The bold should really concern folks. My bold..

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9 hours ago, Tacenda said:

He didn't marry them, because the only marriage that was legal was to Emma. 

Marriage is God's, not the state.  Legal is irrelevant to it.

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6 hours ago, cinepro said:

Since those marriages were illegal, they weren't legally his "wives."  So you must be referring to a spiritual classification, based on Joseph having been a Prophet, therefore God must have been okay with it.

Can you see how that gets to be a bit...circular?

It's easy to see why people who have a firm belief in Joseph Smith's prophetic mantle are able to "put it on the shelf" (or even support it), but as far as getting people who don't have that testimony to see him as a prophet, it's a PR disaster. 

The circularity works both ways.

"Joseph did XYZ and I don't believe him to be a prophet so his doing XYZ proves he wasn't a prophet".

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15 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Marriage is God's, not the state.  Legal is irrelevant to it.

so I guess... Warren Jeffs was married as well? ...

What is the difference between Warren Jeffs and say... B.Y.?

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5 minutes ago, changed said:

so I guess... Warren Jeffs was married as well? ...

What is the difference between Warren Jeffs and say... B.Y.?

To the skeptic, nothing.

To the faithful, everything.

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12 hours ago, changed said:

JS going behind Emma's back, (she was #23 to be sealed to him in the temple) absolutely is adultery.  JS taking other men's wives, JS praying on young daughters...  Yes, some people were married young back then but it was a YOUNG man and and YOUNG girl that was normal, not old man + young girl.  132 - the new and everlasting covenant - polygamy, polyandry - that is hell, not heaven.  

 

It basically is the gross factor for you.  Young and young is not gross but old and young is gross.  That really is opinion on your part.  What really matters to me is agency.  The scriptures provide no age requirements for marriage.  None of Joseph wives were underage in the legal sense.  There was no law of man or God that gives an age limit to how many years apart someone can be married.  What is really comes down to is an "ick" factor that you can't accept. That is fine but on a legal and scriptural level the age issue is not relevant.  So whether it was normal for "old man + young girl" really is not is what is important. 

Polygamy is not adultery by the way.  It does not fit the basic meaning of adultery.  Joseph did not "take" other men's wives.  That sort of language implies he kidnapped these women and forced them to do something against their will.   That did not happen.

The good news is that God gives all of us agency.  If you have a problem with eternal laws and principles, you don't have to live them.  Of course don't expect to be rewarded for rejecting eternal laws.

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11 minutes ago, carbon dioxide said:

Young and young is not gross but old and young is gross

While this may be it for some, I think a number of people take issue with power dynamics in marriages now (not so much when I was younger)...teens are generally more likely to be pressured into giving in or even thinking they don't have a right to say no to people who are significantly older than they are.

I don't believe this is a valid criticism of Joseph Smith as while polygamy itself was abnormal to his cultural, if his wives had been married to all different men, none of the marriages would have been viewed as extreme or with distrust according to statistical norms.  It is the fact he had multiple wives that was abnormal to his culture.

Edited by Calm

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9 hours ago, changed said:

Wonderful - how the account changes from version to version?  How the first account follows the trinity notion of God - with just one spiritual being instead of two.. no mension of asking which church was true...  how it was just a vision, just a dream with no tangible visitation - just a pondering of his mind?

The first account does not follow the trinity notion of God and it does not deny the presence of two beings.   For example Susan says to Mary "I saw Jack and Diane at the party and and Jack said that Sunday dinner was a 7."  Susan then says to Joe "I saw Jack at the party and he said the dinner is at 7."  The fact that Susan only mentioned Jack to Joe and did not mention Diane is not a declaration by Susan that Diane was not there.  She just did not mention the presence of Diane to Joe.  Her presence is not essential to what Jack told Susan.  This should not be complicated.

If you want to know more about Jack and Diane I would refer you to the song by John Mellencamp.

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3 hours ago, changed said:

If it was not a dream - not a "vision" - if it was a "visitation" - then why is not called the first "visitation"?  It is called a "vision" because that is all it was - a dream, a vision.  

That seems a false dichotomy not reflective of the time period.  A vision might be a dream like state where at best we have a virtual reality. It would seem some visions like D&C 76 or 137. However there was an other tradition where one saw with spiritual eyes things that were physically there but couldn't normally be seen. That tradition actually persists in the Church with people who think the spirit world is all around us but we can't see it without our eyes being opened to what is physically there. This wasn't uncommon in the 19th century. i.e. this reference Although one of the key referenced used in the literature to defend this view was Elijah opening Elisha's eyes to see the angels around him. (2 Kings 6:16-18). This is confused somewhat by the fact the same rhetoric is often used for very different supposed phenomena - including platonic realities. 

This idea of spiritual eyes letting people see things physically there around them can be found in the Book of Mormon witnesses accounts. Although some try to suggest that since it was spiritual eyes it must just be dream-like and not conceived of as real in the sense of physically present. We know Joseph conceived of things this way since this is in the Book of Mormon in Ether 3 and Ether 12. You also have the JST for Acts 9 where those with Paul saw the light but didn't hear the voice. So even if one disbelieves this view, it's hard to deny it as something Joseph believed and saw as characteristic of prophets at the time of the writing.

3 hours ago, changed said:

Was there one being? two beings?  were there angles? no angels?  was the main being just an angel? or was it God? or was it Jesus?  ... did it happen when he was at home sleeping in bed? or in a grove?  did he really ever tell anyone about it?  decades later it 'sort of' is shared?  

To bring up the obvious point if I only mention one element of an encounter it doesn't mean there aren't other aspects I could have described. If I talk about meeting my business partner today and don't mention his son was with him, for instance, that isn't a contradiction. 

So you're being particularly pedantic and not actually being good at being pedantic.

The presumption of much of the argument you quote is that the accounts should be identical and relate all the same features. The problem is that narratives are never like that unless they've reached a point of frequent repetition. However ironically that tends to mean such accounts are less distorted (since they've not been formed into a formalized narrative). As I said, what's remarkable isn't that there are differences. We should expect differences. Rather what's remarkable is how similar they are. The most major point is the age at which it happened but even that is fairly close.

While the emphasis on the First Vision is late, I'm not sure how that is relevant. It certainly was discussed just not used as a prooftext.

As for Lucy not recording it in her memoirs, I don't see that as a problem since of course that's well after the major recorded versions. So we know the accounts were out by that point both in the major versions and other texts that mention elements. In fact we know people were teaching that Joseph had seen God personally by 1831 (Gold Bible 4, The Reflector 2.13) We can ask why Lucy doesn't discuss the First Vision, but it's hard to say it was because she didn't know about it.

Quote

There is no extant evidence from the 1830s for this persecution beyond Smith's own testimony.

3 hours ago, Tacenda said:

The bold should really concern folks. My bold..

I confess this seems odd. Even if there wasn't evidence from the 1830s for persecution from more than a decade earlier what does that prove? Especially if the First Vision wasn't being emphasized? Why would people comment on it if it mainly just emphasized in one of the main accounts and then not until 1838? It is in the Lucy Smith account which got appealed to as being significant. It's also mentioned by others in the 1840's. Do people expect others to mention they were persecuting the teenage Joseph? At best this is an argument from silence.

 

 

Edited by clarkgoble
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7 minutes ago, Calm said:

While this may be it for some, I think a number of people take issue with power dynamics in marriages now (not so much when I was younger)...teens are generally more likely to be pressured into giving in or even thinking they don't have a right to say no to people who are significantly older than they are.

I don't believe this is a valid criticism of Joseph Smith as while polygamy itself was abnormal to his cultural, if his wives had been married to all different men, none of the marriages would have been viewed as extreme or with distrust according to statistical norms.  It is the fact he had multiple wives that was abnormal to his culture.

True though how much time did Joseph really spend with his wives?  I can see a power issue being involved in marriages of old and young but that would be more of a problem if they spent lots of time together.  I would contend Joseph might have had the perfect plural marriages.   They were married BUT did not did not spend much time with each other as to drive each other crazy and not nearly enough time for power issues to have been a big problem. I have not seen any contemporaries of Joseph Smith who were critical of him bring up the age difference issue.  It does not seem to have been important to them.  But they were against polygamy which was abnormal to the culture then and today.

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4 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

The presumption of much of the argument you quote is that the accounts should be identical and relate all the same features. The problem is that narratives are never like that unless they've reached a point of frequent repetition.

I worry that to those less familiar with actual work in historical documents, statements like the above, despite being correct, sound weaselly and desperately apologetic. On this point, I'll repeat a post I made three years ago (and which was based on even earlier posts):

Quote

Retellings are always tailored to fit a specific audience and a unique narrative context. As a consequence, when multiple accounts of an event exist, as is not infrequently the case, this is a bonus for the historian because such accounts tend to be mutually complementary and help in the construction of a fuller retelling. And it's an added bonus when the accounts don't contain any genuine contradictions or mutually exclusive details because very often they do, though thankfully usually only of the minor kind -- incorrect names and/or discrepancies in age, date, or other numbers, as a few examples.

Over the past decade, much of my research has involved the personal writings of Catholic priests/missionaries serving in the East/Pacific in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. One of the hallmarks of this research has been work with multiple accounts of events. In preparation for the annual arrival of European ships, it was not at all unusual for a single Jesuit priest to compose separate letters or reports for the Society's headquarters in Rome, for the provincial superior in India, and for one or more of his fellow missionaries elsewhere in the East and/or in Europe. These texts would provide a summary of events from the past year, and unsurprisingly they tend to differ strongly in content and degree of detail -- despite in some cases being composed over the course of a single day -- simply because each retelling served a different purpose.

Details included in one letter may not appear at all in another. In other cases, what earns a passing mention in one report forms the central focus in a different report. Retellings of conversations with, for example, local chiefs often differ from one text to the next, not because the priest made up all these accounts but because choosing which parts of a (sometimes long) interaction to report -- and who exactly was involved -- depended on audience and context. Reports to superiors tend to be more cautious and less detailed in some cases than reports to peers. I can think of a few cases where comparing the former with the latter clearly shows how carefully missionaries picked and chose details to give a completely honest report whilst still holding back the more complete picture.

This is what real history looks like, and Joseph's narratives fit perfectly into the pattern. If there is anything even remotely noteworthy about the existence of or the content in the various accounts of the First Vision, it is how consistent and lacking in contradictions they are.

*****

I maintain that there is nothing uniquely or tellingly dissonant about the various First Vision accounts. Consider the following hypothetical (inspired by my own research):

  • In 1562 a Jesuit missionary reports that upon having visited a remote Pacific Island he met the ruler of the island in a palace set on 18 poles; the ruler told him that he was happy to have the priest in his island.
  • In 1565 the missionary reports that upon having visited this same Pacific Island he met first one and then another ruler of the island in a palace set on 18 poles; a number of local chiefs were also present during this audience.
  • In 1568 the missionary reports that upon having visited this same Pacific Island he met the queen and king of the island in a palace set on 18 poles; the king told him that he hadn't been particularly impressed with the Muslim traders who had been visiting his island.
  • In 1572 the missionary reports that upon having visited this same Pacific Island he met the rulers of the island in a palace set on 18 poles; the rulers told him that they hadn't been particularly impressed with the Muslim traders who had been visiting their island.

If I were to present the above in a seminar and express concern over the dissonance caused thereby, I would be met with quizzical, probably embarrassed looks. And yet these hypothetical accounts parallel the supposedly difficult-to-reconcile differences in the First Vision accounts.

 

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