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First vision accounts getting detailed attention in CES devotional


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34 minutes ago, Rivers said:

Moroni was right. Native Americans are descendants of Abraham in the same way most people are related to Gengas Kahn. 

No, it's not in the same way. Covenant blessings and responsibilities and a spiritual heritage are not inherited from Ghengis Khan. 

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4 hours ago, JulieM said:

I know you believe this but I know many who feel it's still a huge issue.  My brothe-in-law read everything he could find on this topic and spent over a year researching it.  He stopped believing over this one issue but is still holding on and attending for now.   He's staying in for family reasons and making it work.

Then he and others like him have reached a wrong conclusion. I stand by my assertion: DNA studies are not a game changer. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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4 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Then he and others like him have reached a wrong conclusions. I stand by my assertion: DNA studies are not a game changer. 

Well, I don't know.  It's not something I've studied very much.  I just know many disagree with you.  It's not a game changer for me though.

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2 hours ago, JulieM said:

Well, I don't know.  It's not something I've studied very much.  I just know many disagree with you.  It's not a game changer for me though.

I'll put it another way: DNA studies no more compel a conclusion that the Book of Mormon is false than they compel a conclusion that it is true. Either way, one makes a choice that is not driven by science. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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Rene Descartes had a thrice-repeated Hermetic dream-vision which led him to turn toward math and analytic geometry and away from Hermetism and Rosicrucianism (F. Yates, Giordano Bruno, 452-453).

First Vision/Vision of Hermes Trismegistus:        

Quote

Pimander, who is the Nous, or divine mens, appears to Trismegistus when his corporeal senses are bound as in a heavy sleep.  Trismegistus expresses his longing to know the nature of beings and to know God.
Pimander’s aspect changes, and Trismegistus sees a limitless vision which is all light.  Then a kind of obscurity or darkness appears, out of which comes a kind of fire in which is heard an indescribable sound, like a fiery groan, while from the light issues a holy Word, and a fire without mixture leaps from the moist region up to the sublime, and the air, being light, follows the fiery breath.  “That light”, says Pimander, “is I myself, Nous, thy God . . . and the luminous Word issuing from the Nous is the Son of God.”  Yates, Giordano Bruno, 23.

Compare also the first vision or revelation from an angel to Mani in A.D. 228 to prevent him “from the error of the sectarians” (J. Z. Smith, ed., HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion [1995], 680).

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4 hours ago, CountryBoy said:

I am an attorney...I am used to dealing with various versions to a story.  I have no problems with the versions of the First Vision.

 

2 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I am a professional historian, and I could write the very same words as you.

As I have written here and here in a much earlier thread:

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.

I am a journalist, and like CountryBoy and Hamba, I am used to dealing with differing (though not necessarily conflicting) versions of a story. Good journalism involves seeking more than one source and asking questions in pursuit of clarification and enlarged scope of understanding. 

From the foregoing, I am tempted to conclude that fussing over different accounts of the First Vision is indication of an unsophisticated mind. 

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Tripartite vision: Gilgamesh Epic IV,i-iv, three dreams of Gilgamesh.  S. Dalley, Myths from Mesopotamia (1989/1998), 46,128 n. 16, “Omens including dreams were frequently sought in a series of three deliberately for assurance and confirmation.”

Cf. the repeated angelic visits to Christopher Kotter.  Yates, Rosicrucian Enlightenment, 159; Prophecies of Christopher Kotterus, et al., 2nd ed. (1664), 28-29,39-41,59.

 On the night of Sept 22, 1827, while Joseph Smith was taking the Book of Mormon plates from their stone box (at Jewish New Year), at separate locations (and knowing nothing of Joseph), Brigham and Miriam Young, John and Fanny Young, Heber and Vilate Kimball, and John and Rhoda Greene all experienced an extraordinary heavenly vision, as noted by Daniel Peterson in Sunstone, 4/2 (Mar-April 1979):31, and W. Jeffrey Marsh in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 10/2 (2001):8-9, both citing especially O. F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 2nd ed. (1945/1992), 15-17.  Non-Mormon scholar Willis Barnstone, ed., The Other Bible (1984), 537, was quite taken with the strong parallels adduced in comparison of the Apocalypse of Paul and Joseph’s obtaining the Book of Mormon.

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2 hours ago, CountryBoy said:

I agree....but...in my profession, as a litigator, I have cross-examined many a witness and destroyed them due to various versions of a story.  But...I also understand, in my experience, that people tell stories differently depending on to whom they speak.

I got upset at my wife once for interrupting me constantly while I told her a story.  She finally said, "I would not interrupt if you have told me all the details from the beginning".  The problem was, I did not think those details were pertinent in telling HER the story......so I left them out.

Sounds like your wife would have made a good journalist!

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4 minutes ago, cinepro said:

What you (and others) are describing isn't what we have with the First Vision accounts.  Getting different versions of a story from different people is a good idea because of the unreliability of eyewitness testimony in general.  But having one person describe the same event (which only they experienced) over the course of many years doesn't mean you're going to get more reliable information.  Indeed, any time it's been studied, eyewitness testimony has been shown to be far less reliable than most people suspect:

 

 

But the accounts do not contradict one another in any material way. The only difference is in the selection and extent of detail.

And believe me, that is quite common. A single person is apt to vary in how he tells a story without necessarily contradicting himself. That's why I say a good journalist will probe for clarification and greater detail, not to manipulate the account but to provide questions as a catalyst for a more complete telling.

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4 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

No, it's not in the same way. Covenant blessings and responsibilities and a spiritual heritage are not inherited from Ghengis Khan. 

Are you suggesting that charging people down on horseback and cutting them to pieces is not a blessing, a responsibility, and a great spiritual heritage?

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12 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I am a professional historian, and I could write the very same words as you.

As I have written here and here in a much earlier thread:

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.

To me the problem comes from how the church uses the vision accounts. Here is what Bushman has to say on the subject:

Quote

I am very much impressed by Joseph Smith’s 1832 History account of his early visions. This is the one partially written in his own hand and the rest dictated to Frederick G. Williams. I think it is more revealing than the official account presumably written in 1838 and contained in the Pearl of Great Price. We don’t know who wrote the 1838 account. Joseph’s journal indicates that he, Sidney Rigdon, and George Robinson collaborated on beginning the history in late April, but we don’t know who actually drafted the history. It is a polished narrative but unlike anything Joseph ever wrote himself. The 1832 history we know is his because of the handwriting. It comes rushing forth from Joseph’s mind in a gush of words that seem artless and uncalculated, a flood of raw experience. I think this account has the marks of an authentic visionary experience. There is the distance from God, the perplexity and yearning for answers, the perplexity, and then the experience itself which brings intense joy, followed by fear and anxiety. Can he deal with the powerful force he has encountered? Is he worthy and able? It is a classic announcement of a prophet’s call, and I find it entirely believable..

Quote

I think it is possible that Smith exaggerated the claims of his 1820 persecutions when he wrote in 1838. He had undergone a great deal of serious persecution just recently, and he may have seen his early troubles as the first stage. He may have been a little on the paranoid side too, exaggerating opposition when he encountered it. He certainly was sensitive to insults of any kind. I conjecture that after the First Vision he said nothing to his family but did confide in a minister. When his account was dismissed, he took it badly. After all he had come to open his heart and was rejected by a minister who probably was impatient with visionary claims. The experience made him all the more wary about telling anyone about his experiences. By his own account, he said nothing about Moroni to his family until admonished by the angel.

 

Outside of divine intervention, peoples memories do not get better with age. Every time we recall and retell an event we rewrite the memory. Studies of "flash bulb" memories of events like what were we doing when 9/11 occurred have been shown to change substantially overtime. Does this mean that Joseph didn't have a visionary experience when he was 14? No. But the most accurate recollection is probably the earliest. When we teach that from the first vision, Joseph knew that HF and JC were two separate and distinct physical beings and hence the trinity is false, we are going beyond what Joseph ever claimed or taught.

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15 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

The accounts don't contradict each other, and the participants don't change. Some provide detail that others don't. Big whoop.

So you're saying that a pillar of fire appeared with singing concourses of angels. Then, the Lord appeared. Then God the Father and Jesus Christ both appeared in a pillar of light like the brightness of the sun.

It sounds very exciting. If all of JS's vision accounts are to be believed then it is vastly different than what we've been taught. I had never heard before that ALL of these things occurred and ALL of these heavenly messengers appeared.

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9 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

But the accounts do not contradict one another in any material way. The only difference is in the selection and extent of detail.

And believe me, that is quite common. A single person is apt to vary in how he tells a story without necessarily contradicting himself. That's why I say a good journalist will probe for clarification and greater detail, not to manipulate the account but to provide questions as a catalyst for a more complete telling.

I honestly don't understand this. Minor "details" changed like whether JS had a vision of the Lord, many angels, or God and Jesus? No biggy.

These are not minor details. We base our understanding of God the Father and Jesus Christ functioning as a godhead on this vision. We scoff at the concept of the trinity based on this vision of God and Jesus. These details are essential and material to modern understanding and doctrine in the church.

I think of the most amazing experiences I've had and I remember who was there. When I tell the story of an incredible vacation, or musical experience, I remember where I went, who I was with, and other details like what band played. When I talk about going to a Garth Brooks concert I remember it was Garth Brooks and don't mix up that detail by telling people I saw Paul McCartney.

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17 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Outside of divine intervention, peoples memories do not get better with age.

Except that I absolutely believe in divine intervention.

Quote

When we teach that from the first vision, Joseph knew that HF and JC were two separate and distinct physical beings and hence the trinity is false, we are going beyond what Joseph ever claimed or taught.

I'm not sure whom you mean here by we, but I certainly don't teach that, and I've even written on this topic in this and subsequent posts in the same thread.

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9 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I honestly don't understand this. Minor "details" changed like whether JS had a vision of the Lord, many angels, or God and Jesus? No biggy.

You may have missed what I wrote above?

Quote

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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5 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:
Quote

When we teach that from the first vision, Joseph knew that HF and JC were two separate and distinct physical beings and hence the trinity is false, we are going beyond what Joseph ever claimed or taught.

I'm not sure whom you mean here by we, but I certainly don't teach that, and I've even written on this topic in this and subsequent posts in the same thread.

Right. It's obvious that he saw two separate beings. The thing that bothers me sometimes is that people claim that because of the first vision Joseph discovered that both God the Father and Jesus had bodies of flesh and bone. All he did was see the two beings; he did not touch them nor did they tell him that they had tangible bodies. I believe Joseph learned this later on.

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3 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

You may have missed what I wrote above?

 

I did miss that, but it doesn't make a difference. My statement stands.

It sounds to me like you are subscribing to the idea that ALL of the visitations happened. That's fine. But if that is true the church really ought to change the canonized vision account to accurately represent the vision because it is vastly different than what is officially taught.

IMO- taking each of the accounts and stating they all happened is merely a way of justifying the inconsistency and easing the cognitive dissonance because there is no other "faithful" possibility.

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36 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

To me the problem comes from how the church uses the vision accounts. Here is what Bushman has to say on the subject:

 

Outside of divine intervention, peoples memories do not get better with age. Every time we recall and retell an event we rewrite the memory. Studies of "flash bulb" memories of events like what were we doing when 9/11 occurred have been shown to change substantially overtime. Does this mean that Joseph didn't have a visionary experience when he was 14? No. But the most accurate recollection is probably the earliest. When we teach that from the first vision, Joseph knew that HF and JC were two separate and distinct physical beings and hence the trinity is false, we are going beyond what Joseph ever claimed or taught.

Thanks for sharing that. I think Joseph Smith's first account of his first vision is much more likely to reflect what he experienced at the time than subsequent accounts, which seem to have been altered to reflect changes to LDS theology. 

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I imagine if I were telling a story to different people and the story-telling was separated by a few years each, I could imagine quite a bit of variation in the accounts without me even realizing it.  Our perception is an interesting thing, and our change in perception over time is palpable, at least it has been for me.  In that sense, I'm not too concerned about the varying accounts in the first vision or visitation of angels or whatever we want to call it. 

With that said, it seems obvious we want to put more stock into the story than Joseph did. 

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        22. Which of the following is a requirement for receiving exaltation in the celestial kingdom? (1 mark)
      a) Bearing testimony of the Savior is all that is needed.
      b) Receiving a patriarchal blessing
      c) Receiving and being valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ
        23. Of the following groups, who will inherit the celestial kingdom? (1 mark)
      a) All children who die before they reach the age of accountability
      b) All members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
      c) All individuals who have been baptized
        24. Which eternal truth corrects the following worldly philosophy: "God doesn't care how marriage is defined"? (1 mark)
      a) Ever individual born into morality is a child of God, and God loves each of us.
      b) Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.
      c) God changes truth to meet the circumstances and needs of His children.
        25. Which eternal truth corrects the following worldly philosophy: "It isn't as important for couples to have children today as it used to
      a) Marriage between a man and a woman is the ideal setting for children to be born, reared, and nurtured.
      b) God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between a man and a woman who are
      lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
      c) God's commandment fr husbands and wives to have children remains in force today.
        26. Which eternal truth corrects the following worldly philosophy: "As long as two individuals love each other, physical intimacy is
      acceptable"? (1 mark)
      a) Marriage between a man and a woman is the ideal setting for children to be born, reared, and nurtured.
      b) Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.
      c) God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between a man and a woman who are
      lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
        27. Which eternal truth corrects the following worldly philosophy: "As governments continue to redefine marriage, God's definition of
      marriage will change to reflect the values of modern society"? (1 mark)
      a) Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.
      b) God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between a man and a woman who are
      lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
      c) Changes in the civil law do not change the moral law that God has established.
        28. Which eternal truth corrects the following worldly philosophy: "The only purpose of marriage is for adults to find fulfillment and
      happiness"? (1 mark)
      a) Marriage between a man and a woman is the ideal setting for children to be born, reared, and nurtured.
      b) Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.
      c) God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between a man and a woman who are
      lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
      Section name: Explain Doctrine _
      Instructions: Write your answer on a piece of paper. Compare your response with the correct answer received from your teacher. After self-grading the explain-doctrine question, bubble in your answer sheet.
      Self-grade your answer for each question:
      a. Yes, I explained this in my response.
      b. No, I left this out of my response.
        29. What is an example of a truth that was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith? Explain why the truth you chose can help you receive eternal life. (1 mark)
        30. What is an example of an ordinance that was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith? Explain why the ordinance you chose can help you receive eternal life. (1 mark)
        31. What is an example of priesthood authority that was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith? Explain why this authority of the priesthood can help you receive eternal life. (1 mark)
        32. Share your personal thoughts on the importance of the Prophet Joseph Smith. (1 mark)
    • By blueglass
      Really impressed with Kate Holbrook's interview with Terryl Givens.  She's thoughtful, candid, and inspiring as she speaks about her persistence to get a PhD and work full time for the church as a manger of church history.  She's working on a project with Lisa Tate on the history of the young women's organization.  
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2G7k1ggz7k&feature=em-uploademail
      One thing I caught that I hadn't heard before was when Terryl asks her about whether she felt a sense of loss and a sense of jubilation when studying the history of the RS.  Joseph envisioned a more collaborative relationship with the male priesthood, more autonomy, abundance of spiritual gifts, authority to administer ordinances including healing by the laying of hands.  Kate responds that she understands the hyperfocus on this time period, but she feels there is a lost opportunity in recognizing the accomplishments of the women of the 20th century - she then backtracks a bit and says:
      "I don't want to say that their isn't a difference, between - a time when a woman was able to say I have this terrific idea she's say the General RS president and she goes and talks to the president of the church about it.  That is certainly different than now, when she goes and talks to someone in the presiding bishopric, and it has to go through several levels to even get to the president.  There is a loss, and there is a difference."
      I had no idea that the General RS president did not have direct access to the quorum of the 12, and first presidency?  Why in 3 heavens does the general RS president still have such an auxiliary level of access to the presiding apostolic quorum, access to financial influence through Pres Bishopric perhaps, but no real budget to work with?  No seat on the correlation committee?  
      Kate has a great story about how Ardeth Greene Kapp (General YW president 84-92') while receiving a downpour of revelation would use innovative, clever ways and technology to push the ideas upward through the hierarchy.  
    • By blueglass
      A number of church historians recently published a book through Oxford entitled "Foundational Texts of Mormonism: Examining Major Early Sources” (Oxford University Press, $74, 448 pages.)
      In the last chapter (13) pg 390 the historian Ronald Barney quotes Donald Enders, the senior curator at the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City where he states, "There is no evidence, that Joseph told his mother that he had talked face-to-face with God. Certainly his mother never claimed to have heard such a declaration."
      I knew that very few had heard about Joseph's first vision in the earliest days of the church, I didn't know his own mother was unaware. Then I was digging through the JSP where they have Lucy Mack's original 1844 - 1845 history draft, and I found a first vision account similar to the 1835 account in which the unnamed personage testifies that Jesus is the Christ in the 3rd person.  Also compare with Lucy Mack Smith's letter to her brother Solomon Mack, Waterloo, New York, 6 January 1831
      https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1844-1845/40
      "our sons were actively employed in assisting their Father to cut down the grain and storing it away in order, for winter One evening we were sitting till quite late conversing upon the subject of the diversity of churches that had risen up in the world and the many thousand opinions in existence as to the truths contained in scripture Joseph who never said many words upon any subject but always seemed to reflect more deeply than common persons of his age upon everything of a religious nature This After we ceased conversation he went to bed <and was pondering in his mind which of the churches were the true one.> an but he had not laid there long till <he saw> a bright <light> entered the room where he lay he looked up and saw an angel of the Lord stood <standing> by him The angel spoke, "I perceive that you are enquiring in your mind which is the true church there is not a true church on Earth No not one Nor <and> has not been since Peter took the Keys <of the Melchesidec priesthood after the order of God> into the Kingdom of Heaven the churches that are now upon the Earth are all man made churches."
    • By mfbukowski
      There is a fascinating podcast recently published by Interpreter of an interview with Sharalyn D. Howcraft about early foundational documents of Mormonism in which the difference between "what really happened" and how history is recorded.
      For those like me who do not like podcasts, there is also a transcript which is a pretty short and totally fascinating read.
      I highly recommend both.
      "What really happened" as I have said forever is virtually unknowable, so all we are stuck with are historical accounts which may or may not be "true representations"
      I say this often to underscore the necessity of being guided by the Spirit in all matters, regarding virtually every document we read as "HIS-STORY" rather than necessarily "what really happened" which in a historical sense is unknowable in most cases.  Observed recorded events like the assassination of Lincoln of course are "facts" and those are another case.
      But when it comes to hearsay, questions of motivation, how ideas evolved or what ideas were developed by whomever, we just have to be cautious and in my opinion,  regard everything as a story written by a human being and all human beings have a point to make, prejudices to expose or hide, and in some cases the "truth" is simply impossible to know.
      So especially in religious matters, we must follow our "gut" or in more regular Mormon parlance, "follow the Spirit".
      This podcast and transcription illustrate these points extremely well.
      http://interpreterfoundation.org/a-closer-look-at-the-foundational-texts-of-mormonism-with-sharalyn-d-howcroft/
      This link goes directly to the transcript
      http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/6/d/c/6dcfab4b17c23c6a/LDSP_Sharalyn_D._Howcroft.pdf?c_id=20782383&expiration=1525899791&hwt=88c7d8ed9c3cfaf190629e1f5f8ac493
       
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