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The Mormon Church before 1900


Guest Sweetcurio

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Guest Sweetcurio

<_< Here are some questions that were prompted by one of my dad's religious lectures on Mormonism. I know he wants what is best for me, so I am believing him until he is proven wrong. Did Joseph Smith believe in mysticism and folk magic when he lived in New York as a teenager, and did he believe that he could find buried treasure with a stone called a peep stone. Was he accused of fraud by his neighbors and tried in court for the crime? :P

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Yes, to my knowledge, these things are true. Joseph Smith was indeed tried as a "scryer" but the magnitude of this trial and its results have been in dispute for some time. There are a number of books that address Joseph's use of peep stones and his belief in magic and the occult, but these arguments usually are seen as anti-Mormon in nature.

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Guest Sweetcurio
:P Jarrod: My father has said that Joseph Smith's brother, Hyrum, was a Mason at the time Joseph was involved with creating the Book of Mormon. Is this true? If it is true, are their mystical parallels between what's in certain chapters of the Book of Mormon and the practice of Masonry? <_<
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:P Jarrod: My father has said that Joseph Smith's brother, Hyrum, was a Mason at the time Joseph was involved with creating the Book of Mormon. Is this true? If it is true, are their mystical parallels between what's in certain chapters of the Book of Mormon and the practice of Masonry? <_<

Certainly! Moreover, since Mercury was in retrograde at the time that Joseph translated the Book of Enos, we can clearly see the effects in that section and infer special meaning from its passages.

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Did Joseph Smith believe in mysticism and folk magic when he lived in New York as a teenager, and .

I don't know if the term "mysticism" is properly descriptive, but I think Joseph Smith involved to some extant in folk magic, though not nearly as much as critics portray.

did he believe that he could find buried treasure with a stone called a peep stone

He believed he could could see treasure, lost cattle, etc. with a seer stone. There are accounts of success as well as failures in this regard.

As Joseph matured, my belief is that he used his prophetic gifts more fully in line with the Lord's purposes as opposed to desiring to supplement the family income.

Was he accused of fraud by his neighbors and tried in court for the crime?

http://www.fairlds.org/pubs/conf/2002AndR.html is a good source to see what happened in the 1826 hearing of Joseph Smith.

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Sweetcurio,

you wrote:

Here are some questions that were prompted by one of my dad's religious lectures on Mormonism. I know he wants what is best for me, so I am believing him until he is proven wrong. Did Joseph Smith believe in mysticism and folk magic when he lived in New York as a teenager, and did he believe that he could find buried treasure with a stone called a peep stone. Was he accused of fraud by his neighbors and tried in court for the crime?

In answer to your question, let me repeat what I wrote on another thread:

As for all the stories about Joseph's "money-digging" career: if you care to open your scriptures to the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History 1:56, you can read the following:

In the month of October, 1825, I hired with an old gentleman by the name of Josiah Stoal, who lived in Chenango county, State of New York. He had heard something of a silver mine having been opened by the Spaniards in Harmony, Susquehanna county, State of Pennsylvania; and had, previous to my hiring to him, been digging, in order, if possible, to discover the mine. After I went to live with him, he took me, with the rest of his hands, to dig for the silver mine, at which I continued to work for nearly a month, without success in our undertaking, and finally I prevailed with the old gentleman to cease digging after it. Hence arose the very prevalent story of my having been a money-digger.

So what does Joseph tell us? That his one and only connection with the treasure-hunting subculture was when he worked for Josiah Stowell, for wages.

Now it happens that the enemies of the truth think they have a smoking gun that proves Joseph's involvement in money-digging--namely, Joseph's so-called "trial" in 1826.

But what does it really prove?

That Joseph worked for Josiah Stowell!

Thus it supports his version of those events, not the versions put about by those who want to tie him to the Great Digging Cycle.

You also wrote:

My father has said that Joseph Smith's brother, Hyrum, was a Mason at the time Joseph was involved with creating the Book of Mormon. Is this true? If it is true, are their mystical parallels between what's in certain chapters of the Book of Mormon and the practice of Masonry?

Yowzaa, is that you?

It is true that various members of Joseph's family were involved with the Masons at different times, including Joseph himself, in Nauvoo. Oddly, the only connection anyone has ever tried to make between Masonry and the Book of Mormon is to argue that it contains anti-Masonic rhetoric. Go figure! But the Book of Mormon has no "mystical" elements at all.

Regards,

Pahoran

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Guest Sweetcurio
:P Hi, Again <_< Would a true prophet of God use a heavenly gift to increase the family income? My father has said that the Bible forbade Old Testament prophets from using their heavenly gift for pecuniary gain. Isn' this true? To my knowledge, the prophets Samuel, Elijah, and Ezekial never had to use any sort of mystical device to get information from God. :unsure:
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Hi, Again  Would a true prophet of God use a heavenly gift to increase the family income? My father has said that the Bible forbade Old Testament prophets from using their heavenly gift for pecuniary gain. Isn' this true? To my knowledge, the prophets Samuel, Elijah, and Ezekial never had to use any sort of mystical device to get information from God. 

Joseph's activities fit well in the purview of ancient prophets. For example Samuel "increased the family income" by finding lost animals. Devices were used by prophets and apostles to "get information from the Lord: such as when Joseph in Egypt uses a divination cup and the apostles cast lots to select Judas's replacement.

But you are right, prophets are better known for relaying the word of the Lord and leading his people. Which is what we primarily know Joseph Smith for, over his limted temporal application of gifts. I am not sure what passage your dad refers to about forbidding prophets in such a manner: Balaam perhaps? It appears Joseph was given a similiar injunction and chastisement.

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Guest Sweetcurio
:P Mormon Fool: would you please tell me where, in the Bible, you find that information about Samuel using his power for pecuniary gain, to find lost cattle. Wasn't he directed by the Lord to do it, if he did? Hold it! I have a "Strong's Exhaustive Concordance" that my dad got for me last Christmas. Ah, I have searched the concordance for the words "lost" and "cattle" and nothing is listed in I or II Samuel. Perhaps the Mormons have created a better concordance that's more exhaustive in its listings. If so, does it give the reference? <_<
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<_< Mormon Fool: would you please tell me where, in the Bible, you find that information about Samuel using his power for pecuniary gain, to find lost cattle. Wasn't he directed by the Lord to do it, if he did? Hold it! I have a "Strong's Exhaustive Concordance" that my dad got for me last Christmas. Ah, I have searched the concordance for the words "lost" and "cattle" and nothing is listed in I or II Samuel. Perhaps the Mormons have created a better concordance that's more exhaustive in its listings. If so, does it give the reference? :unsure:

Try 1 Samuel chap. 9

Don't be embarrassed if you have an inferior concordance. Mine is called google :P . That and I know the story from considering this matter prior to now and knew what to look for.

P.S. my avatar is a picture of Bushman's book which I also highly recommend.

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PAHORAN: As for all the stories about Joseph's "money-digging" career: if you care to open your scriptures to the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History 1:56, you can read the following . . . .So what does Joseph tell us? That his one and only connection with the treasure-hunting subculture was when he worked for Josiah Stowell, for wages.

RA: Actually, if I may offer a correction, this is not what it tells us about Joseph. I believe it is a rather well established fact that Joseph and his family was steeped in folk magick, which included among other things, using peep stones to find buried treasure. This episode was not, as Pahoran says, Joseph's "one and only connection with the treasure-hunting subculture."

Before assuming his prophetic role, Smith was in a money-digging company. This was explained by Martin Harris:

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DCP: The best book on the early life of Joseph Smith is Richard L. Bushman's 1984 Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism, published by the University of Illinois Press.

RA: This is a good book, as are the following:

The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 by John L. Brooke

The Making of the Book of Mormon: A Historical Inquiry by LaMar Peterson

Joseph Smith's new York Reputation Re-Examined by Rodger I. Anderson

Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon by David Persuitte

RA

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Rabanes,

you wrote:

Actually, if I may offer a correction, this is not what it tells us about Joseph.

You may indeed offer a correction. However, it requires a remarkable amount of chutzpah to claim to offer a correction and actually offer merely an alternative opinion.

I believe it is a rather well established fact that Joseph and his family was steeped in folk magick, which included among other things, using peep stones to find buried treasure.

You are mistaken in that belief.

There is a difference between "a rather well established fact" and "a standard bit of anti-Mormon propaganda." You apparently are unaware of this difference.

BTW, the silly and pretentious little affectation of spelling "magick" starts to grate after a while. In case you haven't noticed, the Middle Ages are over, and witch-burning is something you and your fellow Protestants would rather forget about.

And I am happy to let you forget about it, just as soon as you stop witch-hunting.

This episode was not, as Pahoran says, Joseph's "one and only connection with the treasure-hunting subculture."

Actually it was.

Before assuming his prophetic role, Smith was in a money-digging company. This was explained by Martin Harris:
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Hold it! I have a "Strong's Exhaustive Concordance" that my dad got for me last Christmas. Ah, I have searched the concordance for the words "lost" and "cattle" and nothing is listed in I or II Samuel. Perhaps the Mormons have created a better concordance that's more exhaustive in its listings. If so, does it give the reference? <_<

What's with the condescending act? Ah, yes..there are much better sources than Strong and even Catholics and Presbyterians use them. :P

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RA: This is a good book, as are the following:

The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 by John L. Brooke

The Making of the Book of Mormon: A Historical Inquiry by LaMar Peterson

Joseph Smith's new York Reputation Re-Examined by Rodger I. Anderson

Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon by David Persuitte

And the reviews for 3 out of the 4:

Mormon in the Fiery Furnace Or, Loftes Tryk Goes to Cambridge

Review of The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 by John L. Brooke

Reviewed By: William J. Hamblin, Daniel C. Peterson, George L. Mitton

Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1994. Pp. 3

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DCP: The best book on the early life of Joseph Smith is Richard L. Bushman's 1984 Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism, published by the University of Illinois Press.

RA: This is a good book, as are the following:

The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 by John L. Brooke

The Making of the Book of Mormon: A Historical Inquiry by LaMar Peterson

Joseph Smith's new York Reputation Re-Examined by Rodger I. Anderson

Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon by David Persuitte

RA

Alas, I beg to differ. John Brooke's The Refiner's Fire is a horrible, a ghastly book, a scandalously awful and misleading tome, written by someone who knew too little about Mormonism, the Bible, Neoplatonism, and the Hermetic tradition to have ventured into such territory. With Bill Hamblin and George Mitton, I discussed some of the problems in that lamentable volume in a review entitled "Mormon in the Fiery Furnace, Or, Loftes Tryk Goes to Cambridge," which was published in what was then called the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 6/2 (1994): 3-58.

It is on line in PDF format at

http://farms.byu.edu/pdf.php?filename=MTI2...m&type=cmV2aWV3

and in HTML format at

http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=151

Rodger Anderson's Joseph Smith's New York Reputation Reexamined is subjected to critical scrutiny at Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 3/1 (1991): 52-80, which is on line at

http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=56

I can't recall that we've ever bothered with LaMar Peterson's book, but I've commented on several elements of David Persuitte's book in various locations, and L. Ara Norwood responded to it in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 2/1 (1990): 187-204. His review can also be read at

http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=44.

Postscript: Ah, I see that I've been beaten to the punch with these references. Oh well. No matter. In the mouths of two or more witnesses . . .

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Postscript: Ah, I see that I've been beaten to the punch with these references. Oh well. No matter. In the mouths of two or more witnesses . . .

Sorry, Dr. Peterson. I should have known you would bring up the FARMS reviews. It is better to hear it from the horse's mouth than my cut-and-paste job.

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Sorry, Dr. Peterson. I should have known you would bring up the FARMS reviews. It is better to hear it from the horse's mouth than my cut-and-paste job.

No, no, no. A reference is a reference. I'm pleased that you thought of them. We sometimes wonder if anybody's paying attention. The critics, for the most part, aren't -- though they really should.

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No, no, no. A reference is a reference. I'm pleased that you thought of them. We sometimes wonder if anybody's paying attention. The critics, for the most part, aren't -- though they really should.

I've wondered about that myself. As Madsen once said of Nibley, you are perhaps "just dangerous enough to be carefully ignored."

At least we (the already-believers) are paying attention; its fun to create the debate as it would look, if people were to respond, and then sort it out in my mind, although more participation from the opposition would surely be an improvement.

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Quick note to Brother Peterson: I'm interested in your views on Joseph Smith's involvement in things magical, etc. Richard Abanes says that Joseph Smith was involved in more than one event using a peep stone (for Mr. Stowall), while others on the board are asserting that Joseph only helped Mr. Stowall dig a well. Both of these opinions on the historical record cannot be correct.

I assure you I am only asking for your clarifications. I'll abstain from further comments on this topic as I have nothing more to offer. I believe you are probably the most authoritative source here.

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Guest Sweetcurio

:P Mormon Fool <_< I guess the reason that Strong's Concordance didn't mention Samuel, chapter 9 is because the word "cattle" is not mentioned under the reference you gave. My father has said rather frequently that the Mormons are good about taking scriptures out of context. I can now see what he means. Samuel wasn't asked to locate the "asses", neither did he accept the quarter of a shekel that the servant of Saul wanted to give him for showing them the way. The Lord had told Samuel that Saul was coming to him and that Saul needed to know where his asses were located. You make it seem that Samuel was asked by Saul to find his asses and that Samuel intended to find the asses for the money. This is not what the scripture says. You said that Joseph Smith was hired by the people to use his mystical powers. If so, he didn't use his mystical power for the glory of God, but for his own benefit and glory. If this so, the power might have been coming from some other less godly source.

In regard to the statement from Joseph Smith's diary about his only association with money-digging being with this fellow, Josiah Stoal, my father insists that, after Joseph Smith's death, the History of the Mormon Church was completed and edited by others than Joseph Smith. He told me that many of the diary entries by Joseph Smith were changed and, in some cases, totally rewritten to reflect favorably on the Church. I'm pretty sure that you will disagree with this, but you haven't proven to me that Joseph Smith was an honest man. If he claimed to have mystical powers and used them to deceive others, he wasn't a man of high integrity. My father also insists that Joseph Smith was brought up on charges of fraud and that there are court records to prove that he was found guilty. If you can show me records to indicate that he was not found guilty, please do. :unsure:

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