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Sevenbak

Seer stones history getting a bad rap

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1 hour ago, 3DOP said:

Do LDS also posit belief in a finite, humanistic devil who is master of natural law? Does satan "perform signs and wonders so that if it were possible they might deceive the elect", using talents similar to God's?   

To clarify: Do LDS posit belief in a finite, humanistic God that master of natural law, with no ability to change a natural law to make place for a miracle, something beyond nature?

To clarify: This is not some "gotcha" moment. I need to know how to dialogue with the LDS. I know I have been uncomfortable in the past when Christians use the word "supernatural" to describe certain satanic acts. I seldom digress to talk about it because it isn't the subject matter. I do not believe the devil has supernatural capabilities. I have presumed to use the word supernatural with LDS, to describe certain acts of God. If you are correct Robert, this would not be quite precise, and perhaps my LDS interlocutor has simply let it go for sake of discussion? I do think I could find more than a few instances on this board, where the LDS party initiated use of the word, "supernatural", with regard to God's activities. You ARE saying that this would be an imprecise use of the word by the LDS party, according to LDS doctrine?

Towards better understanding of each other,

Rory

https://books.google.com/books/about/Key_to_the_Science_of_Theology.html?id=H-8QAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button

 

Heavy reading, but this might give you a better idea how miracles were understood by contemporaries of Joseph Smith.  I suspect this way of thinking has been watered down, even among the LDS of today, but I think it clarifies the mentality of Joseph Smith better for someone who is not LDS

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4 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

I don’t believe in Biblical literalism.  You’re correct, that claim is a supernatural one as well.  

No resurrection?

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40 minutes ago, SteveO said:

https://books.google.com/books/about/Key_to_the_Science_of_Theology.html?id=H-8QAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button

 

Heavy reading, but this might give you a better idea how miracles were understood by contemporaries of Joseph Smith.  I suspect this way of thinking has been watered down, even among the LDS of today, but I think it clarifies the mentality of Joseph Smith better for someone who is not LDS

Not too hard Steve. Ch 11, Philosophy of Miracles is written in a way that anybody can understand. Thanks.

"Among the popular errors of modern times..." I hold to the popular error for sure.

Is this doctrine flexible, or subject to reevaluation, in your opinion? Is it pretty much unalterable?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, 3DOP said:

Do LDS also posit belief in a finite, humanistic devil who is master of natural law? Does satan "perform signs and wonders so that if it were possible they might deceive the elect", using talents similar to God's?   

To clarify: Do LDS posit belief in a finite, humanistic God that master of natural law, with no ability to change a natural law to make place for a miracle, something beyond nature?

To clarify: This is not some "gotcha" moment. I need to know how to dialogue with the LDS. I know I have been uncomfortable in the past when Christians use the word "supernatural" to describe certain satanic acts. I seldom digress to talk about it because it isn't the subject matter. I do not believe the devil has supernatural capabilities. I have presumed to use the word supernatural with LDS, to describe certain acts of God. If you are correct Robert, this would not be quite precise, and perhaps my LDS interlocutor has simply let it go for sake of discussion? I do think I could find more than a few instances on this board, where the LDS party initiated use of the word, "supernatural", with regard to God's activities. You ARE saying that this would be an imprecise use of the word by the LDS party, according to LDS doctrine?

Towards better understanding of each other,

Rory

You know me, Rory.  I don't do "gotcha."

Many Latter-day Saints have no idea what the implications of supernaturalism are, much less the deep theological bases of their faith, something also true of many Roman Catholics (one young RC woman once told me that she goes to her priest about such matters, and rightly so).  LDS Pres Lorenzo Snow once said something which encapsulates our notion of a finite, humanistic God:  “As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be.”  Add to that Pres Brigham Young's concept of naturalism, and you have a hint of the basis of LDS theology:

Quote

“Yet I will say with regard to miracles, there is no such thing save to the ignorant — that is, there never was a result wrought out by God or by any of His creatures without there being a cause for it. There may be results, the causes of which we do not see or understand, and what we call miracles are no more than this — they are the results or effects of causes hidden from our understandings … t is hard to get the people to believe that God is a scientific character, that He lives by science or strict law, that by this He is, and by law He was made what He is; and will remain to all eternity because of His faithful adherence to law. It is a most difficult thing to make the people believe that every art and science and all wisdom comes from Him, and that He is their Author.”  — Brigham Young, JD, 13: 140, 306.

The LDS version of God places Him within space & time, subject to natural law -- of which He is master.  Satan is only allowed to do what God allows him to do, as in the case of harming Job and his family.  Satan and his ilk are only allowed to act in our fallen world in accordance with God's own Plan of Salvation, but he and his minions will be cast into the pit at the end.

Edited by Robert F. Smith

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3 hours ago, california boy said:

So it is your position that you need a PhD to understand that God can reveal something by lighting up a stone?  Do you need a PhD to understand that Christ healed a blind man with mud?  Or looking at a brass serpent could protect you?  Or a rod could turn into a snake?

If this is the way the Book of Mormon came forth, why would you need a PhD to understand that?  

Ordinary people read their Scriptures, go to Sunday School, and obtain a surface understanding of the events you allude to and many others.  I don't see why we should expect them to read the Scriptures in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and to understand the deep theological and philosophical meaning of the LDS faith, much less to be conversant in the archeology of Bible and Book of Mormon.  I don't expect that, and I hope that you understand why it is absurd to expect it.

Having a generalized understanding of religion is akin to a basic understanding of your automobile:  You may be able to gas it up and change a tire now and then, but you take it to a professional mechanic when things really go bonkers.  Am I right?  Tell me if I'm off base.

Delving into the more profound issues does indeed require a profound understanding and scholarly discipline.  Not simply haphazard and wild supposition.  Most Latter-day Saints have a basic understanding of their religion.  No more than that.  So what is their saving grace?  The only one that really counts:  A testimony by the power of the Holy Ghost.

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1 minute ago, 3DOP said:

Not too hard Steve. Ch 11, Philosophy of Miracles is written in a way that anybody can understand. Thanks.

"Among the popular errors of modern times..." I hold to the popular error for sure.

Is this doctrine flexible, or subject to reevaluation, in your opinion? Is it pretty much unalterable?

Well, as has been mentioned previously, not everyone is at that level of thinking.  There's nothing particularly wrong if they aren't either.  My older brother, who is TBM as they come, takes the story of Genesis absolutely literally.  It just works for him better to think of it in those terms.  We still exercise the same priesthood and participate in the same saving ordinances. 

I was watching a documentary last night actually of the origins of the universe.  If we take that information as a given, I'm not sure what practical use subatomic quantum physics would be to bringing shepherds to God in ancient Palestine.  The symbolism found in Genesis does a better job in my opinion.  Does that mean God or the prophets were deceitful?  No, in this case, I think the ends justifies the means.  In that way, the Gospel as a whole is very flexible, as it should be.  We have those still in the church, like my brother, who still do the literal Genesis thing.  The gospel is able to cater to that approach.  And then there are guys like me who follow P.P. Pratt's approach, and the gospel caters to that.  And then everything in between, and the gospel caters to each one of them as well.  The end goal is Faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring until the end.  No matter which approach one takes, the Gospel is always directing adherents to that end.

*Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed by SteveO do not necessarily represent those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or its membership     

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3 hours ago, 3DOP said:

As a non-LDS, if I am convinced by the evidence that Joseph wrote the Book of Mormon with his head in a hat, I lose any naturalistic explanation for the Book of Mormon. At that point the non-LDS needs an answer for why the Book of Mormon doesn't come from God. I don't know why seer stones would lead an LDS to conclude that the Book of Mormon is not from God. Besides, it appears that this is an issue on which LDS can have a difference of opinion anyway.

I might be missing something. Why would anybody that is LDS be embarrassed, or otherwise disturbed to have it known that Joseph used stones in a hat? Why do you think the church would try to cover this up? Who that would make a member in any of our different faith communities would have an objection to this kind of "miracle" (the quotes are for you Robert) in religion?

Well, Rory, since LDS theology is naturalistic, it may be that any suggestion of use of "magic stones" by Joseph is an embarrassment, kind of like witchcraft.  You as a non-LDS person even seem more comfortable with such "miracles" than some discomfited LDS members.

3 hours ago, 3DOP said:

Hi Robert...I understand your distinction. I have never heard anyone putting it that way. I think it makes sense for you guys. Nonetheless, for non-LDS as well as LDS, like hopeforthings who are crippled by the "supernaturalist error", it seems like the question of the seer stones is the same as for you "naturalists". If Joseph's head was in a hat, it should not be possible for him to write the Book of Mormon. It would take a miracle or a technological manipulation of laws of nature by someone other than Joseph Smith. I am wondering why you would think that a "miracle" would lead an LDS tainted with supernaturalism away from belief in the Book of Mormon?........

In this modern age of secularism, any hint of supernaturalism can be an embarrassment.  Some LDS members who would feel quite comfortable with Jesus healing people and raisiing the dead, are deeply disturbed by modern miracles -- or as Charles ****ens responded to the LDS phenomenon:  "Visions in an age of railways!"

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7 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Ordinary people read their Scriptures, go to Sunday School, and obtain a surface understanding of the events you allude to and many others.  I don't see why we should expect them to read the Scriptures in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and to understand the deep theological and philosophical meaning of the LDS faith, much less to be conversant in the archeology of Bible and Book of Mormon.  I don't expect that, and I hope that you understand why it is absurd to expect it.

Having a generalized understanding of religion is akin to a basic understanding of your automobile:  You may be able to gas it up and change a tire now and then, but you take it to a professional mechanic when things really go bonkers.  Am I right?  Tell me if I'm off base.

Delving into the more profound issues does indeed require a profound understanding and scholarly discipline.  Not simply haphazard and wild supposition.  Most Latter-day Saints have a basic understanding of their religion.  No more than that.  So what is their saving grace?  The only one that really counts:  A testimony by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Yeah right. ha ha! LDS Scholars. phew.

archeology of ... Book of Mormon”

From the RLDS Church when it couldn’t afford to purchase the Hill Cumorah in New York, in the 1920s, so to remain legitimate with its belief in The Book of Mormon, created a new Hill Cumorah in Mexico. ha ha ha!

“New Light on American Archaeology” 1926 book, page 55

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=wu.89058377359;view=2up;seq=58;skin=mobile

“Stone in a hat” - from anti-mormon “Mormonisn Unvailed” pages 77-78, 1834  ha ha ha!

https://archive.org/details/mormonismunvaile00howe/page/76

Stick to the scriptures. The Lord knows English.

Scholars mix things up: Scribes, Pharisees...

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5 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

It’s not like the stones history is the only history the church has painted a Disneyesque picture around.  The church is in the business of promoting itself, no surprise they’ve emphasized the positive and buried the unflattering.  The internet is changing the dynamics of that game though.  

The internet does allow us to pretend that we are experts, even if we are not.

You missed my main point, though:  Even if the LDS faith puts its best foot forward, something all faiths and secular organizations do, the LDS business is preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, thus fulfilling the Great Commission.  Why would you expect them to take their eye off the prize?  Just to indulge your penchant for side issues?  You don't believe in Jesus as Christ anyhow, and you certainly aren't interested in fulfilling the Great Commission.  So why engage in this conversation at all?  Is it revenge?

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8 minutes ago, Burnside said:

Yeah right. ha ha! LDS Scholars. phew.

archeology of ... Book of Mormon”

From the RLDS Church when it couldn’t afford to purchase the Hill Cumorah in New York, in the 1920s, so to remain legitimate with its belief in The Book of Mormon, created a new Hill Cumorah in Mexico. ha ha ha!

“New Light on American Archaeology” 1926 book, page 55

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=wu.89058377359;view=2up;seq=58;skin=mobile

“Stone in a hat” - from anti-mormon “Mormonisn Unvailed” pages 77-78, 1834  ha ha ha!

https://archive.org/details/mormonismunvaile00howe/page/76

Stick to the scriptures. The Lord knows English.

Scholars mix things up: Scribes, Pharisees...

Still trolling, eh, Sideburns?  Hey, if you and Eric von Daniken could take you eye off of diabolical conspiracies for just a moment, do you have a testimony of some sort, and if so what is it?

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Posted (edited)
48 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You know me, Rory.  I don't do "gotcha."

Many Latter-day Saints have no idea what the implications of supernaturalism are, much less the deep theological bases of their faith, something also true of many Roman Catholics (one young RC woman once told me that she goes to her priest about such matters, and rightly so).  LDS Pres Lorenzo Snow once said something which encapsulates our notion of a finite, humanistic God:  “As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be.”  Add to that Pres Brigham Young's concept of naturalism, and you have a hint of the basis of LDS theology:

The LDS version of God places Him within space & time, subject to natural law -- of which He is master.  Satan is only allowed to do what God allows him to do, as in the case of harming Job and his family.  Satan and his ilk are only allowed to act in our fallen world in accordance with God's own Plan of Salvation, but he and his minions will be cast into the pit at the end.

Oh Rob't you misunderstood me...I do know you...I wasn't accusing you of trying to arrange a "gotcha moment". I meant I had no anticipation of creating a "gotcha moment". Glad to clear that up. Just looking for clarification.

Okay...makes sense.

The word "supernatural" shouldn't really be in the LDS vocabulary, except in the context of the kind of error that Parley Pratt was talking about in that book above and the quote from Brigham Young. I need to be conscious of the fact that with LDS we mean a significantly different phenomenon when we speak of "miracles". The way we understand a "miracle", is the way we understand God. Catholics believe that God made the laws of nature, and He can suspend them at will to perform a "miracle", because He is above nature, supernatural. The reason I asked about the devil is because I have also heard many Christians talk about him doing things that are "supernatural". Catholics cannot allow that this is precise. We know what people mean. But it leads to an overestimation of the powers of the devil. The devil is subject to nature's laws. He cannot work what we understand as a "miracle". The reason we would say that he can perform "signs and wonders" must be limited to his natural angelic powers, which allow such things as appearing in various forms, moving physical objects, or even taking possession of human souls in ways that are natural to an angel, that we cannot understand. To call these activities "supernatural" is to say that angels can suspend the laws of nature as created beings. Only God, the Uncreated Creator, can for a time or eternity, rewrite (suspend) the laws of nature. That is why we usually use the word "preternatural" to describe the extraordinary activity of the angels (good or bad), who we believe to be pure spirits. No creature is above the laws of nature. 

Edited by 3DOP

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2 minutes ago, 3DOP said:

Oh Rob't you misunderstood me...I do know you...I wasn't accusing you of trying to arrange a "gotcha moment". I meant I had no anticipation of creating a "gotcha moment". Glad to clear that up. Just looking for clarification.

Okay...makes sense.

The word "supernatural" shouldn't really be in the LDS vocabulary, except in the context of the kind of error that Parley Pratt was talking about in that book above and the quote from Brigham Young. I need to be conscious of the fact that with LDS we mean significantly a different phenomenon when we speak of "miracles". The way we understand a "miracle", is the way we understand God. Catholics believe that God made the laws of nature, and He can suspend them at will to perform a "miracle", because He is above nature, supernatural. The reason I asked about the devil is because I have also heard many Christians talk about him doing things that are "supernatural". Catholics cannot allow that this is precise. We know what people mean. But it leads to an overestimation of the powers of the devil. The devil is subject to nature's laws. He cannot work what we understand as a "miracle". The reason we would say that he can perform "signs and wonders" must be limited to his natural angelic powers, which allow such things as appearing in various forms, moving physical objects, or even taking possession of human souls in ways that are natural to an angel, that we cannot understand. To call these activities "supernatural" is to say that angels can suspend the laws of nature as created beings. Only God, the Uncreated Creator, can for a time or eternity, rewrite (suspend) the laws of nature. That is why we usually use the word "preternatural" to describe the extraordinary activity of the angels (good or bad), who we believe to be pure spirits. No creature is above the laws of nature. 

That is the way that I understand normative Judeo-Christian theology as well, Rory.  As to demonic possession, Malachi Martin's Hostage to the Devil chilled me to the bone.

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11 hours ago, SettingDogStar said:

I mean they were obviously aware of it since it was briefly mentioned in a church magazine in the 70’s. Plus it was in the vault of the first presidency, how would they not at least be aware of its existence and use? If they thought the accounts were false or untrue why keep the stone and not just chuck it out or give it away. It was even on the altar of the Manti temple when President Woodruff dedicated and he mentioned he was aware of what it was used for in translation of the Book of Mormon.

They May not have been historians or known all the uses but they knew at least a couple things about its use.. It also isn’t some big super secret “cover up.” However with as aware they were of what the stone was used for they rarely if ever mentioned it and allowed innaccurate depections to be used in seminary and Sunday school classes for years.

All I’m saying is that I would have appreciated if it had been taught about from the beginning. People wouldn’t have as much of an issue if this had been churchwide common knowledge from the start. I don’t have a problem with seer stones but I know many people do and I know none of my family to extended family knew about it until the pictures dropped back in 2015. 

But I’m so glad they’re just letting it all out of the bag now! I love it! 

You expect more of them than they were capable of producing.  They not only did not know the details, the LDS archives were not catalogued and they had no actual understanding of their holdings until Leonard Arrington came in as Church Historian -- with a crew of professional assistants.

Sure, they put Joseph's seer stone on the  pulpit at the dedication of a temple ca 1890, but they knew nothing more of its background.  It would have been irresponsible of any of them to pop off with some idiotic, uninformed comment.  Are our leaders human?  They sure are.

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30 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The LDS version of God places Him within space & time, subject to natural law -- of which He is master.  Satan is only allowed to do what God allows him to do, as in the case of harming Job and his family.  Satan and his ilk are only allowed to act in our fallen world in accordance with God's own Plan of Salvation, but he and his minions will be cast into the pit at the end.

But we do NOT know all of "Natural Law".  If God can see all of time, then He must have access to more dimensions of space/time than we are able (although physicists can mathematically theorize an N-dimensional universe, one theory posits 24 dimensions).  What seems natural to us may be coarse and/or corrupt to Heavenly beings.  Astrophysicists are trying to make sense of dark matter/dark energy that may make up the bulk of the universe.

Satan and his minions are spirit beings that appear not to have the ability to see into time (thus unable to prophesy).  Within certain constraints, they can physically buffet or manipulate mortal beings (probably determined by the rules in the Plan of Redemption).

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, blarsen said:

...................

That being said, I find the seer stone used by Joseph Smith to actually be rather special because it appears to exhibit 'liesegang banding', which elevates it way beyond being a common, everyday stone.

Howso?

You are no doubt aware that the Kaaba, the central bldg at the most holy Muslim shrine at Mecca, has a couple of stones in its walls, one of which is a black, meteoric stone:  It is held in  place by a silver rim.  Worshipers kiss it:

Image result for al hajar al aswad

 

Edited by Robert F. Smith

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, longview said:

But we do NOT know all of "Natural Law".  If God can see all of time, then He must have access to more dimensions of space/time than we are able (although physicists can mathematically theorize an N-dimensional universe, one theory posits 24 dimensions).  What seems natural to us may be coarse and/or corrupt to Heavenly beings.  Astrophysicists are trying to make sense of dark matter/dark energy that may make up the bulk of the universe.

Satan and his minions are spirit beings that appear not to have the ability to see into time (thus unable to prophesy).  Within certain constraints, they can physically buffet or manipulate mortal beings (probably determined by the rules in the Plan of Redemption).

Sounds reasonable to me.  I recently heard Michio Kaku speaking about his string theory and those other dimensions.  "Is God a Mathematician?" BigThink.com, Jan 2, 2013, online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jremlZvNDuk .  The mind of God is cosmic music, the music of strings resonating through eleven-dimensional hyperspace (Super symmetry), and one simple equation could be the mind of God.  Kaku says that God could be a mathematician: "The mind of God we believe is cosmic music, the music of strings resonating through 11 dimensional hyperspace. That is the mind of God."

Dr Kaku also made the point that “There are 2 types of god. Only one is within the boundary of science,” BigThink.com, Jul 1, 2019, online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoGYObRNn6A  . A partial  transcript is included.
1.  a personal God, the god that you pray to.
2.  the God of Einstein, Spinoza, and Leibniz, the god of order and harmony, in a non-random, elegant, simple, gorgeous universe.

He quoted Galileo: The purpose of science is to determine how heaven goes, while the purpose of religion is to determine how to go to heaven.
Science is about natural law, the laws of nature.
Religion is about ethics, how to go to heaven, how to be a good person, how to obtain the favor of God.

Science is based on things that are testable, reproducible, and falsifiable.
The existence of God is not testable, not reproducible.  Religion is thus based on faith.

Edited by Robert F. Smith

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11 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

That is the way that I understand normative Judeo-Christian theology as well, Rory.  As to demonic possession, Malachi Martin's Hostage to the Devil chilled me to the bone.

That is a chiller alright. If it is the one that describes five cases of possession, I found it to be too graphic. I wanted to keep going, because I was all absorbed with it, but you'll appreciate this, I think the Spirit nudged me to stop after the first story, and I have never regretted that I stopped. I am still not sure if I think the book is healthy for most people to read. I did feel the liberty to give it to a mature friend who wanted it. A greater belief in the devil can increase faith in God. It is good to believe that satan exists and is a malicious and powerful enemy that seeks our unhappiness now and forever and he hates us and has contempt for us, even those who foolishly try to offer him homage. Maybe some need the kinds of jolt that Martin's five stories tell? I think I got enough from the first one.   

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6 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Irrelevant for you, but existentially reorienting for me.  I’m glad you’re happy with your relationship to the church. 

And I can certainly say my unbidden encounter w/the 'numinous' was existentially reorienting for me, as well.  I don't know why I have been a recipient of these types of experiences, and others, apparently including you, have not. 

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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Howso?

You are no doubt aware that the Kaaba, the central bldg at the most holy Muslim shrine at Mecca, has a couple of stones in its walls, one of which is a black, meteoric stone:  It is held in  place by a silver rim.  Worshipers kiss it:

Image result for al hajar al aswad

 

Well, maybe not "way beyond".  I was being a tad hyperbolic.  But still unusual enough to elevate the stone above the commonplace/ordinary . . . for people such as myself (geology/science background).  BTW, the silver ring looks like the front of a clothes drier.  They may want to rethink how they display their meteoric rock, as more of the Muslim world advances into modernity.

Here is an example of a rock with liesegang banding:

 

 

IMG_0361.JPG

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2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Ordinary people read their Scriptures, go to Sunday School, and obtain a surface understanding of the events you allude to and many others.  I don't see why we should expect them to read the Scriptures in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and to understand the deep theological and philosophical meaning of the LDS faith, much less to be conversant in the archeology of Bible and Book of Mormon.  I don't expect that, and I hope that you understand why it is absurd to expect it.

Having a generalized understanding of religion is akin to a basic understanding of your automobile:  You may be able to gas it up and change a tire now and then, but you take it to a professional mechanic when things really go bonkers.  Am I right?  Tell me if I'm off base.

Delving into the more profound issues does indeed require a profound understanding and scholarly discipline.  Not simply haphazard and wild supposition.  Most Latter-day Saints have a basic understanding of their religion.  No more than that.  So what is their saving grace?  The only one that really counts:  A testimony by the power of the Holy Ghost.

I guess what I am confused about is what this has to do with the stone in the hat? It seems pretty straight forward.  No need to read Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek to understand that story.  Could you explain why you think it relates to this topic?

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

I think it probably was in the early days.

In the 1930s-1950s post-polygamy, post-Adam/God, post-long garments, post-oath of vengeance period there was a concerted effort to make the Church seem less strange. 

The mystery is why the Urim and Thummim breastplate and spectacles are considered any less strange than the seerstone.

Or is it just the "face in a hat" part that bugs people.

I think that’s really strange to hear when you learn about it for the first time.  Maybe it wouldn’t be though, if we’d been taught that from the beginning (or our entire life if we are lifetime members).  

I feel most who have an issue with it, it’s because we were taught so fervently how important the gold plates were and we always believed the illustrations that were commonly used.  We sang songs about the gold plates.  

And then we learn those illustrations aren’t correct and we learn Joseph had his head in a hat so he didn’t use the gold plates as we’d been taught.  He didn’t even have them by him for much of the process.  He didn’t use the translators much either that were buried with the plates.  We hear things like, “well maybe the plates were just a catalyst” and so on.  We feel deceived and duped.   I’ve worked through it but it was like a punch to the gut when I learned about it! 

Edited by JulieM

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5 hours ago, longview said:

It would help if you could provide a reference to the "shifting positions" as it relates to "money-digging".  I am not familiar with this.  Although I have read of a few accounts of "caves" (they need to be verified) containing a large library of ancient records (at least one that actually moved up and down underneath the earth).

I have read about Josiah Stowell coming to visit with the Smith family and requesting JS' help (at the end JS came to realize it was not a wise endeavor and was able to persuade Josiah to discontinue with the project).  I would not rule out the use of seer stones by JS in helping others.  There are many accounts of court cases that seem very muddled to me.  I would prefer to give priority to first hand accounts (hopefully found in the JosephSmithPapers.org).

Interestingly, there was an incident involving Hiram Page use of a seer stone that caused confusion in the church.  Here is the LINK.

I am sure others know the details about this better than I do.  But my understanding is that Joseph used the seer stone and claimed to see treasure.  They went hunting for it and claimed to actually hit the chest where the gold was.  But the chest was enchanted and when they went to get it, the treasure sunk deeper into the land.

Edit: Found this court document that is the sworn testimony of the event.

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Mr. Stowel was at this time at old Mr. Smith's digging for money. It was reported by these money-diggers, that they had found boxes, but before they could secure them, they would sink into the earth.... There were a great many strange sights. One time the old log school-house south of Palmyra, was suddenly lighted up, and frightened them away. Samuel Lawrence told me that while they were digging, a large man who appeared to be eight or nine feet high, came and sat on the ridge of the barn, and motioned to them that they must leave.... These things were real to them, I believe, because they were told to me in confidence, and told by different ones, and their stories agreed, and they seemed to be in earnest—I knew they were in earnest (An interview with Martin Harris, published in Tiffany's Monthly, 1859, p. 165).

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On another occasion Martin Harris admitted that he participated in some money-digging and that a stone box slipped back into the hill: "Martin Harris (speaking to a group of Saints at Clarkston, Utah in the 1870's): I will tell you a wonderful thing that happened after Joseph had found the plates. Three of us took some tools to go to the hill and hunt for some more boxes, or gold or something, and indeed we found a stone box. ...but behold by some unseen power, it slipped back into the hill" (Testimony of Mrs. Comfort Godfrey Flinders, Utah Pioneer Biographies, vol. 10, p. 65, Genealogical Society of Utah, as cited in an unpublished manuscript by LaMar Petersen).

 

 

 

 

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MR. STRONG—Please insert the following and oblige one of your readers.

Wonderful Discovery.—A few days since was discovered in this town, by the help of a mineral stone, (which becomes transparent when placed in a hat and the light excluded by the face of him who looks into it, provided he is fortune's favorite,) a monstrous potash kettle in the bowels of old mother Earth, filled with the purest bullion. . . . His Satanic Majesty, or some other invisible agent, appears to keep it under marching orders; for no sooner is it dug on to in one place, than it moves off like "false delusive hope," to another still more remote.

 

 

 

Hope that helps.  I am interested in your opinion of these accounts.

Edited by california boy

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2 minutes ago, california boy said:

I guess what I am confused about is what this has to do with the stone in the hat? It seems pretty straight forward.  No need to read Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek to understand that story.  Could you explain why you think it relates to this topic?

We were discussing the context of the details of LDS history, which involves far more than just some stone that Joseph may have used.  Without context, there is no factual explanation about stones or anything else.  Only professional historians have that context for us.  They explicate it in non-presentist terms, if we are interested.  And interest is crucial.  Not everyone is interested, and most people don't even have the time for it.  Not everyone will have spent the 1970s, for example, going to meetings of the MHA, Sunstone, or the John Whitmer Historical Society, nor reading their journals cover to cover.  During that time, one would also have to read all issues of Dialogue, and BYU Studies.  I did all that while also attending university and doing regular writing and research (I spent 7 years in the RLDS Archives).  No time for anything else, like marriage and raising kids.  Who is going to make that kind of commitment?  Why would anybody be so foolish?  It is a monastic endeavor in a non-monastic Church environment.

You say that "the stone in the hat... seems pretty straight forward."  No, it's not.  I spent a lot of time in the 70s discussing such matters with the late Rev Wesley Walters and others, which aided my perspective.  A historian needs context.  If you were to go to the UofU Library Special Collections and examine the Michael Marquardt Papers, you would find among them a detailed assemblage of accounts of seerstones, witch hazel rods, and other magical practices in early Colonial and 19th century America.  You would no doubt consult the book on the magical worldview by Mike Quinn (who cites me).  And all that just for starters.

If they are unfamiliar with the Bible and other ancient works (most people don't really know the Bible, nor the context), then they will not be able to understand the magical worldview of the Bible.  Then presentism overwhelms them, they get frustrated, and apostatize.  Why?  Because, due to deep ignorance, they don't realize that magic is an integral part of religion, including biblical religion.

The final point to be made is that LDS leaders are fallible humans, none of them professional historians or archeologists.  Would I have done things differently than they did?  Of course, but that was not my calling, nor is it clear that my decisions would be better than theirs.  In fact, I would likely have done a very poor job of it.  Would I have put seerstones and witch hazel rods front and center in Church magazines and in LDS commissioned art?  Yes.  Even if I put those items into proper context, however, you can bet that many would still be discomfited.  No matter how well presented, it just doesn't fit a certain worldview -- not to mention the complete rejection of God and supernaturalism (which isn't even a valid LDS value anyhow).  Even when you win, you lose.

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10 minutes ago, JulieM said:

I think that’s really strange to hear when you learn about it for the first time.  Maybe it wouldn’t be though, if we’d been taught that from the beginning (or our entire life if we are lifetime members).  

I feel most who have an issue with it, it’s because we were taught so fervently how important the gold plates were and we always believed the illustrations that were commonly used.  We sang songs about the gold plates.  

And then we learn those illustrations aren’t correct and we learn Joseph had his head in a hat so he didn’t use the gold plates as we’d been taught.  He didn’t even have them by him for much of the process.  He didn’t use the translators much either that were buried with the plates.  We hear things like, “well maybe the plates were just a catalyst” and so on.  We feel deceived and duped.   I’ve worked through it but it was like a punch to the gut when I learned about it! 

Can I ask how you worked through this? And were you able to figure out why Mormon and the other prophets before him who he abridged even wrote out the history on the Gold Plates?  That is what I don't understand.  Why were the Gold Plates even made if they were not ever going to be used.  It seems like if God was going to make the Book of Mormon come forth by a seer stone, the plates were not even needed.

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1 hour ago, blarsen said:

............  BTW, the silver ring looks like the front of a clothes drier.  They may want to rethink how they display their meteoric rock, as more of the Muslim world advances into modernity..........................................

It does look that way. :pirate:

BTW, that meteoric holy stone is a pre-Islamic object of pagan worship.  Muhammad destroyed all the other pagan temples and artifacts.

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