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New evidence that Church was organized at Fayette


Scott Lloyd

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Hi Scott,

See, for instance, the FARMS Review of Books review of Inventing Mormonism by Scott Faulring.

Scott and others have demonstrated a kind of paranoia that revisionism is for the purpose of undermining the church. In reviewing Marquardt's book, Scott even suggested that Marquardt's fair and friendly tone is a kind of "wolf in sheep's clothing" ploy, about as uncharitable an attribution as one is likely to find.

If you agree with the last couple paragraphs of my post, then I'm curious why you write as though the issue mattered in some non-theoretical way, bringing up that the revised view "challenges the traditional account" and makes JS and SWK wrong. I also took, perhaps wrongly, an implication from your statement that AO had argued "strenuously" for a Manchester organization, that you saw AO as making a motivated case. Finally, I may simply be reading into your posts from the fact that I know others have treated "revisionism" regarding the organization of the church as an attempt to embarrass it.

Don

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Hi Scott,

See, for instance, the FARMS Review of Books review of Inventing Mormonism by Scott Faulring.

Scott and others have demonstrated a kind of paranoia that revisionism is for the purpose of undermining the church. In reviewing Marquardt's book, Scott even suggested that Marquardt's fair and friendly tone is a kind of "wolf in sheep's clothing" ploy, about as uncharitable an attribution as one is likely to find.

I've not yet been able to locate a FARMS review by Scott Faulring of Inventing Mormonism, so until I do, I'll have to reserve comment.

My Google search did turn up two other FARMS reviews, however, one by Richard Bushman (link)and the other by Larry Porter(link), neither of which reflects such paranoia as you decry. In fact, Bushman contrasts the "debater's temperament" of Wesley Walters (who evidently died before the book was completed) with that of Marquardt, who, he says, "writes in another spirit." And Porter commends the book, as in this summation:

The questions which [Walters and Marquardt] have raised have implications for readers that will demand the very best verifiable responses available. As their sources are further digested and critiqued the "winnowing" process will be more complete. Perhaps then the delineation of what is actual versus what might be classified as the "Reinvention of Mormonism" can be further affixed.

Both Bushman and Porter -- neither of whom has ever struck me as particularly strident or combative in approach -- acknowledge the thoroughness and exacting nature of Walters's and Marquardt's research, even as they take issue with their conclusions.

If you agree with the last couple paragraphs of my post, then I'm curious why you write as though the issue mattered in some non-theoretical way, bringing up that the revised view "challenges the traditional account" and makes JS and SWK wrong.

It's simply because when history is served up to me, I like it to be accurate, and if long-accepted versions of it are questionable, I want to know about it.

At the same time, I don't object to "revisionism" on principle, but I do feel very strongly that it should be subjected to the same level of scrutiny that revisionism itself applies to traditional accounts. I look at it in terms of Hegel's triad of thesis, antithesis and synthesis: thesis being the traditional version of history and antithesis being the revisionism, with synthesis emerging from the tension between the two, yielding a more qualified, nuanced understanding. In this instance, it would seem that synthesis sustains the long-accepted account of the organization of the Church having occurred at Fayette; I gather you agree.

I also took, perhaps wrongly, an implication from your statement that AO had argued "strenuously" for a Manchester organization, that you saw AO as making a motivated case.

Alf O'Mega's comments struck me as advocacy, not merely observation. If you -- and he -- reject that characterization, I suppose we'll just have to chalk it up to a difference in perspectives.

Finally, I may simply be reading into your posts from the fact that I know others have treated "revisionism" regarding the organization of the church as an attempt to embarrass it.

While I don't concede that "revisionism" is never used for that purpose, I don't see that as a reason for rejecting it outright.

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I've not yet been able to locate a FARMS review by Scott Faulring of Inventing Mormonism, so until I do, I'll have to reserve comment.

My Google search did turn up two other FARMS reviews, however, one by Richard Bushman (link)and the other by Larry Porter(link), neither of which reflects such paranoia as you decry.

Hi Scott,

Larry Porter does indeed assume that Marquardt is out to "embarrass the Church or desecrate sacred history." Porter calls the book "an expos

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Ah, sorry Scott from misdirecting you to the FARMS Review rather than the JMH. And thanks Nevo for locating it.

Scott, you acknowledge believing AO's position was one of advocacy. What did/do you think motivated such advocacy? And if your concern is just for accuracy, why bring up SWK's broadcast? Your concern in that instance was clearly that the traditional view is being changed--you find some something threatening or problematic about this, as I suggested.

If you see Porter's characterization of Inventing Mormonism as a charitable and dispassionate one, this may explain our overall difference of opinion. How would you recognize when people feel threatened by revisionism?

In any case, I don't really care to continue the present discussion along these lines. If you don't think my criticisms apply to your position, I won't be able to convince you otherwise. But my comments stand as a criticism of "revisionist-history"-phobia, whether demonstrated here or anywhere else.

Don

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I also took, perhaps wrongly, an implication from your statement that AO had argued "strenuously" for a Manchester organization, that you saw AO as making a motivated case.

Alf O'Mega's comments struck me as advocacy, not merely observation. If you -- and he -- reject that characterization, I suppose we'll just have to chalk it up to a difference in perspectives.

Not trying to sound nonchalanter-than-thou or anything, but my advocacy of a Manchester founding (and it certainly is advocacy, however casually pursued) is of the same sort as when I advocate the Pittsburgh Steelers or Sibelius's third symphony or Billy Collins's "Reading an Anthology of Chinese Poems of the Sung Dynasty, I Pause to Admire the Length and Clarity of Their Titles." That is, my reward for convincing anybody to agree with me is nothing more than the satisfaction of seeing an opinion I favor make its way in the world. If it happens to be an obscure, offbeat, or simply minority opinion, so much the better. If there were some way to leverage this issue to argue against the veracity of Mormonism, I'd be delighted, but I don't see any conjunction with that particular hobby of mine in this case.

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Scott, you acknowledge believing AO's position was one of advocacy. What did/do you think motivated such advocacy?

I'll leave it to Alf to say. I regard it as advocacy only in the sense he himself has acknowleged in a post subsequent to yours.

Perhaps I should have used the word "energetically" in desribing his argumentation. If that appeals to you more, feel free to substitute it for the word "strenuously."

And if your concern is just for accuracy, why bring up SWK's broadcast?

That was in response to a post from someone asking why the location of the organization of the Church mattered. I was merely pointing out the uncontroversial fact that in official Church accounts, it has long been regarded as the Whitmer farmouse in Fayette. I agree with Alf that it has no bearing on the truth claims of the Church; I think I've said as much.

Your concern in that instance was clearly that the traditional view is being changed--you find some something threatening or problematic about this, as I suggested.

As the world's foremost authority on what I do or do not find threatening, I can only say that your observation is misplaced.

If you see Porter's characterization of Inventing Mormonism as a charitable and dispassionate one, this may explain our overall difference of opinion. How would you recognize when people feel threatened by revisionism?

If Porter's review strikes you as paranoid, I wonder what vigorous but non-paranoid, academic criticism and argumentation looks like to you.

In any case, I don't really care to continue the present discussion along these lines. If you don't think my criticisms apply to your position, I won't be able to convince you otherwise. But my comments stand as a criticism of "revisionist-history"-phobia, whether demonstrated here or anywhere else.

It's not so much a matter of whether you will be able to convice me, it's that you haven't made a compelling case that my comments on this thread are phobic. I'm confident a reasonable reader will be able to recognize that.

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Alf O'Mega's comments struck me as advocacy, not merely observation. If you -- and he -- reject that characterization, I suppose we'll just have to chalk it up to a difference in perspectives.
Not trying to sound nonchalanter-than-thou or anything, but my advocacy of a Manchester founding (and it certainly is advocacy, however casually pursued) is of the same sort as when I advocate the Pittsburgh Steelers or Sibelius's third symphony or Billy Collins's "Reading an Anthology of Chinese Poems of the Sung Dynasty, I Pause to Admire the Length and Clarity of Their Titles." That is, my reward for convincing anybody to agree with me is nothing more than the satisfaction of seeing an opinion I favor make its way in the world. If it happens to be an obscure, offbeat, or simply minority opinion, so much the better. If there were some way to leverage this issue to argue against the veracity of Mormonism, I'd be delighted, but I don't see any conjunction with that particular hobby of mine in this case.

Fair enough.

I'll extend to you the same invitation I did to Don Bradley: If you want to substitute the word "energetically" for "strenuously" in my previous comment, feel free.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I generally feel that those who attack Joseph Smith's 1838 account value a few years too much, especially because they fail to consider that mis-statements of chronology and location are just as easy in 1833 as in 1838. The problem with some people is they forget that the issue is closeness to the events, not just by time but by possibility of knowing. Joseph Smith can tell us better what he was thinking and feeling in 1827 in 1838 than some editor who has never met him can in 1830.

The acceptance of contemporary hearsay over latter direct evidence needs to be evaluated more in many cases.

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I generally feel that those who attack Joseph Smith's 1838 account value a few years too much, especially because they fail to consider that mis-statements of chronology and location are just as easy in 1833 as in 1838. The problem with some people is they forget that the issue is closeness to the events, not just by time but by possibility of knowing. Joseph Smith can tell us better what he was thinking and feeling in 1827 in 1838 than some editor who has never met him can in 1830.

The acceptance of contemporary hearsay over latter direct evidence needs to be evaluated more in many cases.

An astute observation.

And welcome to the board.

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