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Richard Bushman


Lamanite

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This is the most honest revealing journals I have ever read. He is candid, sincere, and unashamed enough to let us view his insecurities and faults. It is honest and real in the most raw sense of the words.

I am including quotes for discussion.

An anonymous UofU institute reviewer wrote, "Four major objections [to Rough Stone Rolling]: 1 the book ascribes negative qualities to Joseph; 2 it gives too much weight to the influence of money digging; 3 it describes Joseph Smith as developing into a prophet rather than being one from the start; 4 the language sometimes sounds as if Joseph invented his ideas rather than receiving them." pg 78

Then Brother Bushman ponders, "The question is , Will they bother young Latter-day Saints? The reviewer says the book may cause problems as did Brodie's biography. He thinks conservatives will not like the book and moderates will struggle...The real question is, Should we hide troublesome things from the Saints and hope they will never find out? The problem then is what happens when they do. They are disillusioned and in danger of mistrusting everything they have been told...We have to get these facts out to be dealt with; otherwise we are in a vulnerable position. The institute people can work against the book if they choose, challenging the documents or offering explanations, but at least everything is on the table. We are not hiding anymore." pg.78-79

I will post more later but my wife just stopped by my office.

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After listing 9 beliefs that he felt Joseph Smith strongly influenced he made this statement, "President Hickley has said he does not put much stock in such teachings. That may be the proper position for today when we are under attack from evangelical Christians. It would be a mistake, however, to discard them entirely. They are a precious cultural resource. It may be one function of my book to sustain their life by explicating Joseph's thought as part of the campaign to preserve doctrine" pg. 62

I think that President Hickley's "I'm not sure" statement will soon be replaced with a "Absolutely we teach that! And what a glorious doctrine it is."

"Ordinary members are getting stuff they have not heard before and are a little uneasy at times. I am not surprised, considering that part of my purpose in writing is to intorduce the troublesome material into the standard account to prevent horrible shocks later." pg 82

"Occasionally I hear of critical comments emanating from the Church Educational System. The initials CES have come to represent a certain kind of highly conservative opinion in the Church these days. For those who are slightly less staid, the term represents a kind of unbending stiffness that denies the realities...Their negative views in turn will doubtless percolate up through the ranks of the General Authorities among those who share the CES preference for a slam dunk. Maybe I will hear repercussions, maybe not." pg 84-85

I wish I could disagree, but this has been my experience, albeit limited, with CES. Too bad he lived in fear of a GA "repercussion". His fears intensify as time goes on.

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"I received a personal note about RSR (rough stone rolling) from a retired GA yesterday....In the second paragraph, he expressed his disappointment in the balance presented between the negative and the positive. He thought opponents of the Restoration will find additional fuel and that newly converted or marginal Saints may be weakened. He also objected to the debunking of significant figures in the Restoration. Obviously he had been thinking about the book and had many worries...The problem with the fuel-for-enemies objection is that the fuel is alreaddy there. I don't provide it. We have to deal with it or it will be used against us.

"My correspondent must speak for many GA's and CES teachers. My Joseph is so far removed from theirs they cannot help but object. If he speaks for other influential Church leaders, I may be in for rough times. I marvel that I have survived to this point...Whether or not I go down, I think the Church will find the book useful when they need a more objective account...The overall effect will be to move the Church toward greater candor, even though I suffer in the mean time. I am concerned about the discrepancy between the idealized Joseph in Institute classes and the criticized Joseph in secular and hostile sources. Young Latter-day Saints are left to reconcile these two without help from their teachers. Simply denying the validity of the criticism is not enough when facts are involved. Some will shut their minds to the criticism; but others will become disillusioned, not just with the Prophet but with the entire teach apparatus. They will feel they have been misled." pg 100-101

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"My correspondent must speak for many GA's and CES teachers. My Joseph is so far removed from theirs they cannot help but object. If he speaks for other influential Church leaders, I may be in for rough times. I marvel that I have survived to this point...Whether or not I go down, I think the Church will find the book useful when they need a more objective account...The overall effect will be to move the Church toward greater candor, even though I suffer in the mean time. I am concerned about the discrepancy between the idealized Joseph in Institute classes and the criticized Joseph in secular and hostile sources. Young Latter-day Saints are left to reconcile these two without help from their teachers. Simply denying the validity of the criticism is not enough when facts are involved. Some will shut their minds to the criticism; but others will become disillusioned, not just with the Prophet but with the entire teach apparatus. They will feel they have been misled." pg 100-101

Richard Lyman Bushman is one of my heroes. His humility and honesty have really helped me in my struggle with my testimony. Knowing that there is someone out there like him who is willing to face the historical evidence and is willing to stay in the church whilst challenging the"status quo" is exemplary. I owe a lot of my decision to remain in the church to what he has done with Rough Stone Rolling. I wish we had more people like him and Nibley in the church.

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Richard Lyman Bushman is one of my heroes. His humility and honesty have really helped me in my struggle with my testimony. Knowing that there is someone out there like him who is willing to face the historical evidence and is willing to stay in the church whilst challenging the"status quo" is exemplary. I owe a lot of my decision to remain in the church to what he has done with Rough Stone Rolling. I wish we had more people like him and Nibley in the church.

I share your admiration for Brother Bushman. I forgot my book at home but in it he gives a wonderful methodology for "processing" difficult questions. I will post it later today.

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" but at least everything is on the table. We are not hiding anymore." pg.78-79

My hope is that as a Church and as a people we are shifting towards this attitude. I think we are. Maybe more blogs and more CES teachers willing to let go of the idyllic Joseph of the past and embrace something more gritty, grimy, and real. Praise to the Man indeed!

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You are absolutely right. I also didn't include the fact that Pres. Packer gave him a blessing prior to his undertaking the project.

YOu are right that my quotes were one sided.

You can listen to Richard Bushman on http://mormonstories.org

He gives a good presentation about JS. When you come to the site, hopefully you can do a search and find the four or five part discussion.

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My hope is that as a Church and as a people we are shifting towards this attitude. I think we are. Maybe more blogs and more CES teachers willing to let go of the idyllic Joseph of the past and embrace something more gritty, grimy, and real. Praise to the Man indeed!

I think so. I am a firm believer in church history lessons, lessons that can address some of the issues that one can find on the internet. The more open we are as a church, the stronger the lds church will be.

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The Mormon Stories podcast with Bushman is incredible. I have listened to it over and over again.

I love what he says about staying in the church. He stays in the church because he likes the idea of progression and because he finds the church "good". I enjoyed this because so often you hear people saying "I KNOW with every fiber of my being that it is true". But for intellectuals or for people with out this sort of spiritual conviction one can often feel inadequate. After all....how can we distinguish one man's spiritual truth from another if they are dogmatically different?

My grandfather often felt this inadequacy until a stake patriarch (also a WW2 veteran) told him that one doesnt have to "know" the church is "true" to remain....they can just act with hope and faith...(and if one takes Richard Bushman's advice) because they feel "good" about it.

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The Mormon Stories podcast with Bushman is incredible. I have listened to it over and over again.

I love what he says about staying in the church. He stays in the church because he likes the idea of progression and because he finds the church "good". I enjoyed this because so often you hear people saying "I KNOW with every fiber of my being that it is true". But for intellectuals or for people with out this sort of spiritual conviction one can often feel inadequate. After all....how can we distinguish one man's spiritual truth from another if they are dogmatically different?

My grandfather often felt this inadequacy until a stake patriarch (also a WW2 veteran) told him that one doesnt have to "know" the church is "true" to remain....they can just act with hope and faith...(and if one takes Richard Bushman's advice) because they feel "good" about it.

If you listen to the Press Conference following last weeks GC, newly called Elder Cook used the word "believe" quite a bit.

Do you happen to have to quote handy telling of this?

I left my book at home. I wish it detailed it but it is only a statement that Pres Packer gave a blessing. Absolutely ZERO details. I will still post later today.

Some people don't know it, but Bushman is a temple sealer. He sealed a friend of mine to his wife.

And on the High Council, and a Stake Patriarch.

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Too bad he lived in fear of a GA "repercussion". His fears intensify as time goes on.

Do you really think he could receive a repercussion as in disfellowshipment or excomm for this book? I am not very knowledgeable about this stuff, but it seems to me that his book (I have read 1/2 after getting it 1 week ago) is truthful and positive. Maybe I am naive and have more faith in the GA's than some other's experience would indicate to them. Fill me in...

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If Bushman goes I go.

I can't believe for a minute the church is this paranoid. A believing LDS writes a book focusing on Joseph's more human side and he has to live in fear of "repercussions."

That isn't the church I belong to. Joseph Smith taught we look for truth everywhere. I can't say he would have ever tolerated the church reprimanding anyone that presents a negative side and i'm not convinced they do.

Have there been repercussions for Compton whose book is much more negative? Hasn't most disfellowships or excommunications come because of the preaching of false doctrine or teachings contrary to the church, Not just discussing history.

I agree it's high time for the church to stop presenting Joseph the saint. As more things come to light it will be nearly impossible.

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... it describes Joseph Smith as developing into a prophet rather than being one from the start[.]

Those two things aren't mutually exclusive. Can't one "develop" and grow into something despite having been called to a position "from the start," evenâ??Ahem!â??CES officials? Don't we all learn as we go? Don't we all get it "line-upon-line, precept-upon-precept, here a little and there a little"? Why should Joseph be any differentâ??especially since he was called to restore the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

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This whole debate is surreal. Should we inoculate members by exposing them to the troubling aspects of Joseph's/The Church's history? Or would that damage too many undeveloped testimonies?

Never mentioned is why there are "troubling" events at all! There is the implicit acknowledgment that, yes, these things are troubling; that even when carefully placed in the absolute best light, with as much positive spin as the best apologist can muster, they are still troubling. The explanations are less than satisfying even for devout believers like Bushman.

But rather than deal with that question, Mormon historians and apologists focus on the PR side. It reminds me of tobacco marketers talking about the best way to deal with the fact that their product causes cancer. Should we just ignore the issue? Should we face it head on? Should we brag about our smooth taste, or our low "tar"? Whichever marketing strategy it is, you'll never hear a Cigarette Man say "you know, maybe the fact that our product causes lung cancer is a good reason to stop selling it."

In other words, maybe the problem isn't how to get people to buy your product in spite of its defects. Maybe you just have a defective product.

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This whole debate is surreal. Should we inoculate members by exposing them to the troubling aspects of Joseph's/The Church's history? Or would that damage too many undeveloped testimonies?

Never mentioned is why there are "troubling" events at all! There is the implicit acknowledgment that, yes, these things are troubling; that even when carefully placed in the absolute best light, with as much positive spin as the best apologist can muster, they are still troubling. The explanations are less than satisfying even for devout believers like Bushman.

But rather than deal with that question, Mormon historians and apologists focus on the PR side. It reminds me of tobacco marketers talking about the best way to deal with the fact that their product causes cancer. Should we just ignore the issue? Should we face it head on? Should we brag about our smooth taste, or our low "tar"? Whichever marketing strategy it is, you'll never hear a Cigarette Man say "you know, maybe the fact that our product causes lung cancer is a good reason to stop selling it."

In other words, maybe the problem isn't how to get people to buy your product in spite of its defects. Maybe you just have a defective product.

But MC, surely you know the LDS Church makes no claim that a man of God must be perfect, or affirms that people must and will agree and understand everything God chooses to do or allow. Truly dogmatism can come from both Mormon and non, as is apparent here.

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If Bushman goes I go.

I can't believe for a minute the church is this paranoid. A believing LDS writes a book focusing on Joseph's more human side and he has to live in fear of "repercussions."

That isn't the church I belong to. Joseph Smith taught we look for truth everywhere. I can't say he would have ever tolerated the church reprimanding anyone that presents a negative side and i'm not convinced they do.

Have there been repercussions for Compton whose book is much more negative? Hasn't most disfellowships or excommunications come because of the preaching of false doctrine or teachings contrary to the church, Not just discussing history.

I agree it's high time for the church to stop presenting Joseph the saint. As more things come to light it will be nearly impossible.

I think he feared that the book somehow would not have been left alone, or that the Church would distance itself or condemn it at worst.

I don't think disfellowship or ex'd was ever feared.

However, ask Leonard Arrington how supportive the "church" was during his tenure as Church Historian. Not very supportive at all.

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Do you happen to have the quote handy telling of this?

"I sought a blessing from Elder Packer before getting started; and insofar as I was worthy, I think the blessing was fulfilled" pg. 32

I wish there was more. When the book was completed he stopped off a copy to Pres Packer's office. It gives no details of the visit.

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Richard Lyman Bushman is one of my heroes. His humility and honesty have really helped me in my struggle with my testimony. Knowing that there is someone out there like him who is willing to face the historical evidence and is willing to stay in the church whilst challenging the"status quo" is exemplary. I owe a lot of my decision to remain in the church to what he has done with Rough Stone Rolling. I wish we had more people like him and Nibley in the church.

Here is the quote I promised:

"I can imagine how questions about Joseph Smith's life could trouble you. You want to be loyal to what you have known, and yet certain episodes and aspects are disturbing. I personally think it is never good to let problems like this swim vaguely around in your head. I would take the top three and write them down. And I don't mean just in a list, but describe exactly what happened and why this bothers you. Be sure you get all the facts right, not just from negative books but from more sympathetic accounts like my biography. Consider the biases, both pro and con, of those who describe the events. Then ask yourself, Why does this seem contrary to what a prophet would do? What exactly is wrong with this?

"At the same time, to be fair, you should ask yourself, Did Joseph do anything that shows him to be worthy to be called a prophet? Is there anything that seems admirable, heroic, or miraculous? Apart from your feelings about him, what are his actual accomplishments? Are the3se in keeping with his prophetic role? Try to be hard-headed about this. Don't let your feelings swamp you.

"While you do this, you must be living right. You can't be breaking the commandments yourself and expect to get a clear view of Joseph's life (John 7:16-17). Guilt clouds the mind. If you are knowingly sinning, you will subconsciously want to separate yourself from God and find reasons for denying his power.

"If you are going to do all this in the Latter-day Saint way, you will also put your trust in that Spirit that leadeth to do good (D&C 11:12-14). You will ask, What are the consequences of these beliefs? Have they resulted in good in your own life and the life of others you have known? If they have, then you want to treat them with respect. As with science, a religion that works and produces results has to be taken seriously.

"Others might give you other advice, but this has worked for me. After all these years of studying Joseph's life, I believe more than ever.

All the best,

Richard Busman"

As I type this and re-read it, my admiration and gratitude for Brother Bushman grows ten fold.

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