Jump to content

First Vision - Joseph Smith Experience with Satan


MDalby

Recommended Posts

I was reading the various versions of hte First Vision and I had a question about Joseph's experience.

Quote

Information was what I most desired at this time, and with a fixed determination to obtain it, I called upon the Lord for the first time in the place above stated, saying "O Lord, what church shall I join?"; or in other words, I made a fruitless attempt to pray.  

I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon <and> severely tempted by some power of darkness which entirely endeavored to overcome me.
The adversary benighted my mind with doubts, and brought to my soul all kinds of improper pictures and tried to hinder me in my efforts and accomplishment of my goal, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue.  My tongue seemed to be swollen in my mouth so that I could not speak. 

I heard a noise behind me like some person walking towards me.  I strove again to pray, but could not.  The noise of walking seemed to draw nearer.  I sprang upon my feet and looked round, but saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking.

(Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith's First Vision, Backman 158-9)

 

Satan did not have a body, what was causing the apparent noise of walking that Joseph was hearing?

Joseph says he heard a sound "like" someone walking.  A noise of walking that "seemed" be come nearer.  Joseph saw nothing that he could see "to produce the noise of walking."

Thoughts?

 

 

 

Link to post

Since our spirits are matter, simply more refined as it states in the D&C, the difference between the physical and spiritual is of degree. Satan, as a spirit, is still made up of matter so he can still interact with the physical world to some degree. He also has the ability to tempt us by some sort of communication suggesting he has some affect on our psyche as well. 

Link to post
23 minutes ago, MDalby said:

I was reading the various versions of hte First Vision and I had a question about Joseph's experience.

 

Satan did not have a body, what was causing the apparent noise of walking that Joseph was hearing?

Joseph says he heard a sound "like" someone walking.  A noise of walking that "seemed" be come nearer.  Joseph saw nothing that he could see "to produce the noise of walking."

Thoughts?

The 1832 account, the earliest and only account in Joseph's handwriting, does not contain any story about an evil force or noises of someone walking.  I tend to think this addition to the FV narrative came from Joseph borrowing from the accounts of others, if you haven't read this essay by Richard Bushman on the subject of finding other visionary experiences that Joseph may have borrowed from, take a look.  

http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3203&context=byusq

Also, this web site has some interesting side by side comparisons of language between the 1838 canonized account and other accounts. 

http://thoughtsonthingsandstuff.com/theophany-mine/

 

  • Upvote 3
Link to post
13 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

The 1832 account, the earliest and only account in Joseph's handwriting, does not contain any story about an evil force or noises of someone walking.  I tend to think this addition to the FV narrative came from Joseph borrowing from the accounts of others, if you haven't read this essay by Richard Bushman on the subject of finding other visionary experiences that Joseph may have borrowed from, take a look.  

http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3203&context=byusq

Also, this web site has some interesting side by side comparisons of language between the 1838 canonized account and other accounts. 

http://thoughtsonthingsandstuff.com/theophany-mine/

 

Can you provide a specific reference in the essay where Bushman suggests Joseph fabricated his first vision account that is now considered scripture?

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
19 minutes ago, Freedom said:

Can you provide a specific reference in the essay where Bushman suggests Joseph fabricated his first vision account that is now considered scripture?

Hmm.... I can't seem to find where Bushman says that JS adopted or borrowed from these other accounts in this essay, I thought it was the source, but I think I confused it with his book Rough Stone Rolling.  After a couple google searches I found this quote from RSR on the subject of the First Vision and the Norris Stearns vision in specific.  

Quote

That voice suited Joseph perfectly, and he adopted it as his own with immense success in his simple narrative of innocence overtaken by divinity

 

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

The 1832 account, the earliest and only account in Joseph's handwriting, does not contain any story about an evil force or noises of someone walking.  I tend to think this addition to the FV narrative came from Joseph borrowing from the accounts of others, if you haven't read this essay by Richard Bushman on the subject of finding other visionary experiences that Joseph may have borrowed from, take a look.  

http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3203&context=byusq

Also, this web site has some interesting side by side comparisons of language between the 1838 canonized account and other accounts. 

http://thoughtsonthingsandstuff.com/theophany-mine/

 

Thanks for the info.  I have found this very interesting.  I have read one of them a long time ago..and this was what I was trying to remember.  Thanks again!

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
7 hours ago, MDalby said:

I was reading the various versions of hte First Vision and I had a question about Joseph's experience.

 

Satan did not have a body, what was causing the apparent noise of walking that Joseph was hearing?

Joseph says he heard a sound "like" someone walking.  A noise of walking that "seemed" be come nearer.  Joseph saw nothing that he could see "to produce the noise of walking."

Thoughts?

Why do we assume the being walking towards Joseph was the adversary?

BEFORE he hears the footsteps he says

  • I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon <and> severely tempted by some power of darkness which entirely endeavored to overcome me.
    The adversary benighted my mind with doubts, and brought to my soul all kinds of improper pictures and tried to hinder me in my efforts and accomplishment of my goal, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue.  My tongue seemed to be swollen in my mouth so that I could not speak.
    I heard a noise behind me like some person walking towards me.  I strove again to pray, but could not.  The noise of walking seemed to draw nearer.  I sprang upon my feet and looked round, but saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking.

But the sentence continues

  • " saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking, I kneeled again my mouth was opened and my tongue liberated, and I called on the Lord in mighty prayer, a pillar of fire appeared above my head.


Perhaps the footsteps heard were of a resurrected angel coming to his aid and casting out the adversary since immediately after hearing the footsteps draw nearer he was able to pray and his tongue was liberated.  Perhaps the footsteps were guarding the young prophet and driving out the adversary prior to the arrival of the Father and the Son.
Why assume the footsteps belong to the power of darkness?

Edited by JLHPROF
  • Upvote 3
Link to post
2 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

Why do we assume the being walking towards Joseph was the adversary?

BEFORE he hears the footsteps he says

  • I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon <and> severely tempted by some power of darkness which entirely endeavored to overcome me.
    The adversary benighted my mind with doubts, and brought to my soul all kinds of improper pictures and tried to hinder me in my efforts and accomplishment of my goal, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue.  My tongue seemed to be swollen in my mouth so that I could not speak.
    I heard a noise behind me like some person walking towards me.  I strove again to pray, but could not.  The noise of walking seemed to draw nearer.  I sprang upon my feet and looked round, but saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking.

But the sentence continues

  • " saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking, I kneeled again my mouth was opened and my tongue liberated, and I called on the Lord in mighty prayer, a pillar of fire appeared above my head.


Perhaps the footsteps heard were of a resurrected angel coming to his aid and casting out the adversary since immediately after hearing the footsteps draw nearer he was able to pray and his tongue was liberated.  Perhaps the footsteps were guarding the young prophet and driving out the adversary prior to the arrival of the Father and the Son.
Why assume the footsteps belong to the power of darkness?

I think it interesting that he is reporting facts that he could easily comprehend and recite simply with the communication skills he had at that particular point in time, the rest of his experience apparently being very difficult to articulate or in his estimation, be given fair treatment.

Link to post
12 hours ago, MDalby said:

I was reading the various versions of hte First Vision and I had a question about Joseph's experience.

 

Satan did not have a body, what was causing the apparent noise of walking that Joseph was hearing?

Joseph says he heard a sound "like" someone walking.  A noise of walking that "seemed" be come nearer.  Joseph saw nothing that he could see "to produce the noise of walking."

Thoughts?

 

 

 

It was part of the vision

Where did THAT come from?  Pretty clearly an unanswerable question imo.  Yes it "came from God" but how did God cause it to happen?   Clearly it was in Joseph's brain/mind/spirit- whatever term we want to use.   It was what Joseph saw- I think that if someone else was beside him they would not have experienced anything.   It was not an objective event to be observed by anyone but Joseph, so it is a bit like asking if a tree falls in the forest does it make a "sound".

It would only be a "sound" if others could have actually had the same experience had they been there.

The question presumes an origin for the vision "outside" the human mind dividing the whole experience into 1- noises from the devil and 2- a vision from God.

As I see it we should see the vision report as reporting an entire unified experience contrasting good with evil which it certainly effectively does.

Some may allege that the entire experience was from Satan while others make the division, and yet the satanic experience greatly enhances the Godly experience.

Just as a post on a page requires contrast between black and white to be read so every experience requires a context.  These sentences are black print against a white background, without that contrast there is no message.  I think the satanic part sets the context contrasting the true Father with the "god of this world" very effectively.   Joseph was IN this telestial world and the noises behind him reflect a telestial experience.   The light then appears above his head as a transition to the celestial theophany.

Opposition in all things is graphically represented.

Edited by mfbukowski
Link to post
11 hours ago, Freedom said:

Since our spirits are matter, simply more refined as it states in the D&C, the difference between the physical and spiritual is of degree. Satan, as a spirit, is still made up of matter so he can still interact with the physical world to some degree. He also has the ability to tempt us by some sort of communication suggesting he has some affect on our psyche as well. 

I agree but of course he does not have to actually interact with the world, he just has to make us THINK he did or can.

Link to post
11 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

The 1832 account, the earliest and only account in Joseph's handwriting, does not contain any story about an evil force or noises of someone walking.  I tend to think this addition to the FV narrative came from Joseph borrowing from the accounts of others, if you haven't read this essay by Richard Bushman on the subject of finding other visionary experiences that Joseph may have borrowed from, take a look.  

http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3203&context=byusq

Also, this web site has some interesting side by side comparisons of language between the 1838 canonized account and other accounts. 

http://thoughtsonthingsandstuff.com/theophany-mine/

 

If I had had the experience and someone asked me about the experience I might well leave that part as well.   I would also not include stepping over a stump or avoiding a poison ivy bush on the way.

The question as I see it depends on what Joseph chose to include in the description of "the experience" as opposed to what happened "before the experience".

I personally would not include details like kneeling on wet ground and or a stick digging into my knee either.  Kneeling in the forest, the crunch of leaves, the wind in the trees, the moisture of the ground etc would not be relevant to "the vision" description- he might very well not have thought those items relevant until upon consideration, he understood how relevant his mood and other sounds might have been.

If I had the experience I might well ascribe the mood change to something I had eaten for lunch or the sounds to perhaps a squirrel jumping out of a tree behind me.   Is that part of "The Vision"?   It all depends on how Joseph decided to characterize it.

Link to post
12 hours ago, MDalby said:

Satan did not have a body, what was causing the apparent noise of walking that Joseph was hearing?

Joseph says he heard a sound "like" someone walking.  A noise of walking that "seemed" be come nearer.  Joseph saw nothing that he could see "to produce the noise of walking."

Presumably the spirits have some way to interact - possibly by direct communication to the person. While I don't think we can say what produced that experience (which Joseph just says was like someone walking and not necessarily something walking) I don't think we should dismiss it out of hand. It's also possible that the manifestation of the evil spirit was scaring wildlife that was running away. Or maybe Joseph was hearing it with spiritual alertness in his ears.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
22 hours ago, MDalby said:

Satan did not have a body, what was causing the apparent noise of walking that Joseph was hearing?

Joseph says he heard a sound "like" someone walking.  A noise of walking that "seemed" be come nearer.  Joseph saw nothing that he could see "to produce the noise of walking."

Thoughts?

 

 

 

Look, I'm still trying to figure out whether the gates of Heaven swing open or slide open.  This is very serious stuff you are talking about.

  • Upvote 2
Link to post

I think it's safe to believe that within Mormon theology, Satan has control over the elements of the earth. TheBookof Moses in the Pearl of Great Prices gives an account of when Moses saw the glory of God and the darkness of Satan, very similar to Joseph Smith only Smith experienced  those in reverse order. Relevant this thread, here's a portion I cite and place the most relevant portion in bold.

Quote

18 And again Moses said: I will not cease to call upon God, I have other things to inquire of him: for his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee. Depart hence, Satan.

19 And now, when Moses had said these words, Satan cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me.

20 And it came to pass that Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell. Nevertheless, calling upon God, he received strength, and he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship, which is the God of glory.

21 And now Satan began to tremble, and the earth shook; and Moses received strength, and called upon God, saying: In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan.

22 And it came to pass that Satan cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and he departed hence, even from the presence of Moses, that he beheld him not.

While there are spiritual learning lessons in this account, one thing clear to me is that Satan had power to even "shake the earth". We mortals control earth's elements through our bodies and other physical devices . How one does it without a body I do not think we know but it is not only possible but is recorded to have happened according to LDS scripture. I think similar to this is when Legion , many spirits , possessed the body of a man and Jesus commanded them to leave and they inhabited a pig who went crazy after their doing so. If spirits can posses a human body , then I do not see how they cannot snap twigs as they "walk" on them.

I still really like LFHPROF's post on this . Very unique and accurate idea. Something I had never thought of before.

Edited by Darren10
  • Upvote 2
Link to post
13 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

If I had had the experience and someone asked me about the experience I might well leave that part as well.   I would also not include stepping over a stump or avoiding a poison ivy bush on the way.

The question as I see it depends on what Joseph chose to include in the description of "the experience" as opposed to what happened "before the experience".

I personally would not include details like kneeling on wet ground and or a stick digging into my knee either.  Kneeling in the forest, the crunch of leaves, the wind in the trees, the moisture of the ground etc would not be relevant to "the vision" description- he might very well not have thought those items relevant until upon consideration, he understood how relevant his mood and other sounds might have been.

If I had the experience I might well ascribe the mood change to something I had eaten for lunch or the sounds to perhaps a squirrel jumping out of a tree behind me.   Is that part of "The Vision"?   It all depends on how Joseph decided to characterize it.

From what I've read about memory and our abilities to access our memories in a factually reliable way, I would contend that memory doesn't work in a way where we can just pick and choose which elements we want to share in a reliable way.  We are influenced by our experiences in life, by other recollections, by our environment and by limited ability to discern our surroundings through our senses and our emotional state.  I think its perfectly consistent with this idea to say that Joseph borrowed elements from the stories of others when he recalled his experience.  I think we all do this subconsciously whether we know it or not.  Did Joseph do this conscientiously or not, I'm not sure its possible to know for certain, but the similarities are so striking that I think its safe to say that he borrowed from those other stories.  

Honestly, aside from individuals that have eidetic memory, I don't think the average person can relate an experience from earlier today with great accuracy, let alone something from 20 years earlier in their life.  Doing so without combining this experience with others, and materially misrepresenting the facts of the original story, is virtually impossible.   In Joseph's case, I think there is also evidence that the later 1838 account (many historians believe doesn't sound like Joseph's voice at all and may have been written by Sidney or George Robinson or others that worked on that history) was written to create a specifically crafted defense of the church, so it is much less likely an accurate representation of the original experience.  What we have in the 1838 account is a crafted narrative of the church and a defense of its legitimacy from the perspective of a committee of people, and this represents the perspectives of those people in 1838, not the perspectives of a 14 year old boy from 20 years earlier.  

 

Edited by hope_for_things
Link to post
1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

From what I've read about memory and our abilities to access our memories in a factually reliable way, I would contend that memory doesn't work in a way where we can just pick and choose which elements we want to share in a reliable way.  We are influenced by our experiences in life, by other recollections, by our environment and by limited ability to discern our surroundings through our senses and our emotional state.  I think its perfectly consistent with this idea to say that Joseph borrowed elements from the stories of others when he recalled his experience.  I think we all do this subconsciously whether we know it or not.  Did Joseph do this conscientiously or not, I'm not sure its possible to know for certain, but the similarities are so striking that I think its safe to say that he borrowed from those other stories.  

Honestly, aside from individuals that have eidetic memory, I don't think the average person can relate an experience from earlier today with great accuracy, let alone something from 20 years earlier in their life.  Doing so without combining this experience with others, and materially misrepresenting the facts of the original story, is virtually impossible.   In Joseph's case, I think there is also evidence that the later 1838 account (many historians believe doesn't sound like Joseph's voice at all and may have been written by Sidney or George Robinson or others that worked on that history) was written to create a specifically crafted defense of the church, so it is much less likely an accurate representation of the original experience.  What we have in the 1838 account is a crafted narrative of the church and a defense of its legitimacy from the perspective of a committee of people, and this represents the perspectives of those people in 1838, not the perspectives of a 14 year old boy from 20 years earlier.  

 

In cases of private experience, there is no such thing as a "factually reliable way"- because there are no "facts".   The question of "accuracy" is a non-sequitur on at least two levels

1- We cannot know what he "really experienced"

2- He cannot experience what "really happened" independent his interpretations.   There are no facts, only interpretations.   That's a hard one for you, huh!

Wear sunglasses for 3 days straight until you do not know you are wearing them and then take them off.  Better yet, make them a strange colored sunglasses like those amber ones.  Which perception of color is "accurate" when your whole system of reference is different?

How is it possible to know that what you see as "red", I see as "yellow"?   All we have are the words which we have learned to associate with the experience but who knows what others experience?   How can we know those experiences are the "same"?

All we have are the arbitrary words we have all learned to name the experience, but how can we describe the "experience as it is" to others?  Some color blind people live most of their lives without knowing they are what others call "color blind".

This is a simple question and kind of silly but what are the implications of this thought experiment?  All our brains know is what they have been taught.

One cannot speak intelligently about another's personal experience, vision, hallucination, etc.  Without "two witnesses" or more of the "same" phenomenon, it is all speculation.

But of course logically even the perceptions of those witnesses could be questioned as being the "same".

Edited by mfbukowski
Link to post
On 2/20/2017 at 7:31 AM, MDalby said:

I was reading the various versions of hte First Vision and I had a question about Joseph's experience.

 

Satan did not have a body, what was causing the apparent noise of walking that Joseph was hearing?

Joseph says he heard a sound "like" someone walking.  A noise of walking that "seemed" be come nearer.  Joseph saw nothing that he could see "to produce the noise of walking."

Thoughts?

 

 

 

Well, it probably wasn't Mormon or Moroni or any other so-called "native American" (who are actually descendents of Israel) walking around in the spirit world dimension, or at least not a very good one, because, as most of us know, most "native-Americans" are pretty good at walking up on people without those people hearing them.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
4 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

In cases of private experience, there is no such thing as a "factually reliable way"- because there are no "facts".   The question of "accuracy" is a non-sequitur on at least two levels

1- We cannot know what he "really experienced"

2- He cannot experience what "really happened" independent his interpretations.   There are no facts, only interpretations.   That's a hard one for you, huh!

Yes, I agree with this, I actually think I'm further along withe whole interpretations idea, but admittedly it is a hard concept for me to grasp.  But let me explain what I think about this.  

I'm looking at this from the way that your average chapel Mormon interprets and talks about Joseph's FV.  They discuss the experience as if it is a factually verifiable, tangible event.  They totally ignore the meaning of the word "vision" and frequently replace that word with "visitation" which implies all of those elements I just mentioned.  So, when discussing the FV and the changes in the story over time and the changes in the surrounding events that influenced a different telling of the story over time, or the changes in Joseph's evolving theology about the nature of God, or the persecution and pressures on the institution, your average Mormon doesn't consider all those factors as having relevance to the interpretation that Joseph was placing on this entirely subjective personal experience that no-one has access to, even Joseph doesn't have access to the original event in his mind because of the way human memory works as I pointed out in my earlier post.  

I think one thing that may create a problem for most Mormons with this kind of fluid definition for interpretations is the way that Mormonism has taken historical events and turned them into theological explanations about the reality of the divine in quite material terms.  This problem becomes evident when you consider that by this "interpretations" construct we'd have to accept virtually any story or explanation given by Joseph or other prophets as equally legitimate, in spite of how it may contradict earlier explanations, or contradict other truths that we have learned about how nature works.  

For example, the FV event essentially becomes whatever Joseph said it was at whatever time Joseph said it, meaning, if Joseph had said in 1844 that two white rabbits appeared to him and told him to hop down a hole in the ground and find the lost arc of the covenant, that version of his interpretation of his experience would be just as legitimate as any of the other accounts that he told, using this no facts just interpretations construct.  

So what is it about this idea that Joseph borrowed from his environment to tell his experience that you find unsatisfactory?  Doesn't this align with your interpretations construct?  

4 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

This is a simple question and kind of silly but what are the implications of this thought experiment?  All our brains know is what they have been taught.

One cannot speak intelligently about another's personal experience, vision, hallucination, etc.  Without "two witnesses" or more of the "same" phenomenon, it is all speculation.

But of course logically even the perceptions of those witnesses could be questioned as being the "same".

Yes, I'm on board with this, and it makes sense to me, that's why I can accept your concept that whatever Joseph experienced, we don't have access to, even Joseph doesn't know he's wearing the glasses, or he doesn't know he's a fish swimming in the ocean because he's always been a fish swimming in that ocean.  The thing about that ocean is, he has traveled to many different places in it, and his eye sight has changed with time, so his descriptions of his experiences change overtime, sometimes dramatically.  

This makes sense, and this is why I think we shouldn't take personal experiences with the divine and turn them into tangible factual evidences for anything.  Its a personal epiphany understood by the individual in unique ways, inaccessible by other individuals.  My experiences about God are meaningful to me.  Perhaps God inspires charismatic individuals to make important strides in history.  Its up to each of us to determine whether the choices and teachings these individuals espouse embody something divine and should be followed or not.  

I find some of Joseph's innovations very interesting and sometimes inspirational for me personally.  I find some of his innovations quite troubling and immoral.  He is a paradox as are many other historical figures, and I try to pick and choose which things I find valuable contributions to society at large and which elements are negative.  I see Mormonism in the same light, many things about the tradition are valuable and helpful for society and many elements are troubling to me ethically.  I refuse to label people or institutions as all good or all bad anymore, the truth is somewhere in between.  

Link to post
9 hours ago, JAHS said:

Perhaps part of satan's attempt to make Joseph afraid and get control of him was to make him think he heard footsteps when it fact it was not happening.

Some people have a talent of making some amazing noises with their mouth.  Perhaps he simulated the rustling of leaves.  He does have a tongue and mouth you know.

I think we on the precipice of something really really big, here.

Link to post
6 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Yes, I agree with this, I actually think I'm further along withe whole interpretations idea, but admittedly it is a hard concept for me to grasp.  But let me explain what I think about this.  

I'm looking at this from the way that your average chapel Mormon interprets and talks about Joseph's FV.  They discuss the experience as if it is a factually verifiable, tangible event.  They totally ignore the meaning of the word "vision" and frequently replace that word with "visitation" which implies all of those elements I just mentioned.  So, when discussing the FV and the changes in the story over time and the changes in the surrounding events that influenced a different telling of the story over time, or the changes in Joseph's evolving theology about the nature of God, or the persecution and pressures on the institution, your average Mormon doesn't consider all those factors as having relevance to the interpretation that Joseph was placing on this entirely subjective personal experience that no-one has access to, even Joseph doesn't have access to the original event in his mind because of the way human memory works as I pointed out in my earlier post.  

Don't think for one minute you are better than "chapel Mormons"

This way of seeing the world acomodates everyone.

There is no difference between a "vision" or a "visitation" that can be known- I am surprised you would bring that up.

All we can know is what we have experienced.  THAT is "things as they are".  If you experience God standing in front of you there is no difference.   It is like asking if you have a "real pain" or a "false pain"- you have a pain, period.

Stories change over time, yes.  There is no need to belabor the point.

Don't worry about how smart you are compared to "other Mormons".  Their paradigm is no better than yours nor is it worse.  It is their paradigm.

It does not stand up to close scrutiny but it still works for them so they have no need to change.   If they start asking questions about whether or not the FV was "real" yes they will have a problem and that is the reason I preach my view to those with problems, but as it is if there is no problem, there is no problem.  If it ain't broken, don't fix it.

Quote

I think one thing that may create a problem for most Mormons with this kind of fluid definition for interpretations is the way that Mormonism has taken historical events and turned them into theological explanations about the reality of the divine in quite material terms.  This problem becomes evident when you consider that by this "interpretations" construct we'd have to accept virtually any story or explanation given by Joseph or other prophets as equally legitimate, in spite of how it may contradict earlier explanations, or contradict other truths that we have learned about how nature works.  

Yep.

Just as above, it is "legitimate" if it works for you.  If you find it fits into your paradigm, use it.   If it doesn't throw it out.

It is like Rorty for me- there are tons of things about Rorty I throw out and think are absolutely wacky.   Such is life.  We cobble together our own worlds from matter unorganized and sometimes those unorganized rocks we use have flaws that either crack the whole structure.  You have to find those flaws and repair them before you put them in place.

Rorty is essentially a determinist .   I am not.   I have to carefully avoid those aspects of his philosophy which are not consistent with mine.   Joseph was not infallible.  No news there.  He said so himself.

Quote

For example, the FV event essentially becomes whatever Joseph said it was at whatever time Joseph said it, meaning, if Joseph had said in 1844 that two white rabbits appeared to him and told him to hop down a hole in the ground and find the lost arc of the covenant, that version of his interpretation of his experience would be just as legitimate as any of the other accounts that he told, using this no facts just interpretations construct.  

False analogy.  Obviously the stories are not that far out of whack. There is nothing like that level of inconsistency

Quote

 

So what is it about this idea that Joseph borrowed from his environment to tell his experience that you find unsatisfactory?  Doesn't this align with your interpretations construct?  

 

Uh, exactly where did I say that?   Find me a quote.  I would never say that.

Quote

 

Yes, I'm on board with this, and it makes sense to me, that's why I can accept your concept that whatever Joseph experienced, we don't have access to, even Joseph doesn't know he's wearing the glasses, or he doesn't know he's a fish swimming in the ocean because he's always been a fish swimming in that ocean.  The thing about that ocean is, he has traveled to many different places in it, and his eye sight has changed with time, so his descriptions of his experiences change overtime, sometimes dramatically.  

This makes sense, and this is why I think we shouldn't take personal experiences with the divine and turn them into tangible factual evidences for anything.  Its a personal epiphany understood by the individual in unique ways, inaccessible by other individuals.  My experiences about God are meaningful to me.  Perhaps God inspires charismatic individuals to make important strides in history.  Its up to each of us to determine whether the choices and teachings these individuals espouse embody something divine and should be followed or not.  

 

Yep.  But any factual experience must be confirmed by others in the same language.  It is still an interpretation but we often take two witnesses word for what otherwise would be private experiences unless we suspect collusion.  If two people say they were abducted by space aliens they have more credibility than one telling the same story but not much.

A dozen telling the same story?  Better.   Hundreds become a "phenomenon" thousands become a "fact".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_Sun

But then we have the task of fitting "things as they really are" into our silly little paradigms.

Go ahead and incorporate this one into yours.  I would like to hear how you do it. :)

 

Edited by mfbukowski
  • Upvote 2
Link to post
8 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Don't think for one minute you are better than "chapel Mormons"

This way of seeing the world acomodates everyone.

There is no difference between a "vision" or a "visitation" that can be known- I am surprised you would bring that up.

All we can know is what we have experienced.  THAT is "things as they are".  If you experience God standing in front of you there is no difference.   It is like asking if you have a "real pain" or a "false pain"- you have a pain, period.

Stories change over time, yes.  There is no need to belabor the point.

Don't worry about how smart you are compared to "other Mormons".  Their paradigm is no better than yours nor is it worse.  It is their paradigm.

It does not stand up to close scrutiny but it still works for them so they have no need to change.   If they start asking questions about whether or not the FV was "real" yes they will have a problem and that is the reason I preach my view to those with problems, but as it is if there is no problem, there is no problem.  If it ain't broken, don't fix it.

I don't think I'm better than chapel Mormons, and its important to always keep our pride in check, so I appreciate the caution.  

As for the "if it works for them" don't change it idea.  I agree somewhat, but this can be taken to extreme.  If an individual is suffering greatly in their current paradigm, yet from their own perspective may not recognize their predicament, should we sit idly by and allow the person to suffer in a state of ignorance at some level, just because they seem to not know it?  

I'm a Star Trek fan, and this reminds me of the prime directive not to interfere with the development of alien civilizations.  Then they explore the moral dilemmas of this prime directive throughout the series.  I can see this how your principle may work in similar ways with ethically challenging scenarios where just saying that its working for them does not seem to satisfy.  It also reminds me of the agency principle within Mormonism.  Suffering is a problem, at what point are we morally obligated to engage.  Questions that I don't have answers to, but should be wrestled with.  

9 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

False analogy.  Obviously the stories are not that far out of whack. There is nothing like that level of inconsistency

With my white rabbits analogy, I'm just taking your concept of only interpretations matter and applying it in a logical direction.  Is this a principle that is true only up to a point, you seem to have a problem with the idea of a certain amount of change in the original story, so where is that line that can't be crossed? Can Joseph change his vision story only up to a certain point, and then he's gone to far?  How do you decide where that line is?  

9 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Uh, exactly where did I say that?   Find me a quote.  I would never say that.

You're right, you didn't say that specifically.  I thought you were responding to that concept, but after reading your response again you didn't.  My apologies.  

9 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Yep.  But any factual experience must be confirmed by others in the same language.  It is still an interpretation but we often take two witnesses word for what otherwise would be private experiences unless we suspect collusion.  If two people say they were abducted by space aliens they have more credibility than one telling the same story but not much.

A dozen telling the same story?  Better.   Hundreds become a "phenomenon" thousands become a "fact".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_Sun

But then we have the task of fitting "things as they really are" into our silly little paradigms.

Go ahead and incorporate this one into yours.  I would like to hear how you do it. :)

I'll take a shot at it.  People are influenced and pre-conditioned by their beliefs.  I think this is a likely contributing factor.  The wikipedia article didn't discuss contemporaneous accounts of this phenomenon, so I'm not sure what to believe as far as the reliability of these accounts.  Is this a similar situation to the Brigham Young transfiguration myth that we have no corroborating contemporaneous account of, and we have multiple people claiming to have seen this transfiguration happen who we know weren't even present in Nauvoo for the meeting?  

What about the studies around people remembering things about 9/11 that are factually inaccurate.  This tell me more about how poorly our memories work to accurately describe things.  Can a thousand people be wrong about the facts of what they perceive is happening in the sky.  Yes.  

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/911-memory-accuracy/

Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • 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
       
    • By Ouagadougou
      https://history.lds.org/story/first-vision?lang=eng
      I'm sure some have seen this already, but the church released a new first vision video (see link above).  

      A few questions came up after I watched this video:
      - How do you reconcile the differences between the 1832 account and the 1838 account?  (i.e. JS seeing just Christ in 1832; and seeing both Christ and God in 1838)?  

      - Why would JS wait 12 years to record such an important event, along with so many varying accounts (the church admits to nine)?  

      - Did JS join and/or attend a Methodist church following the 1st vision when he was commanded not to (as stated below)?  
      Joseph Smith History 
      Chapter 1:
       "19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”
      http://en.fairmormon.org/Joseph_Smith's_First_Vision/Joseph_Smith_joined_other_churches
      Finally, the article below, IMO, highlights many of the problems with the first vision accounts.  How do you make the different accounts harmonize, given the many inconsistencies?  

      https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V34N0102_47.pdf
       
    • By CMZ
      https://history.lds.org/article/first-vision-accounts-synthesis?lang=eng
       
      It seems like it leaves out where Joseph Smith said that there was a multitude of angels present and also that he was told many more things, and I think there was also an account where he specifically identified the visitors as the Father and the Son.
    • By Benjamin Seeker
      One of the common criticisms leveled against the first vision is that the 1832 First Vision account only has Jesus Christ present in the theophany, and considering that it is the earliest account and it being in JS's own hand, it makes the later accounts (with two personages) look like the First Vision developed over time. Many people find validity in this criticism, and some leave the church over this. Apologists have done a good job of pointing out that God and Jesus Christ are separate and coexistant in the book of Moses, a text predating the 1832 account, which demonstrates that Mormon doctrine posited that God and Jesus were separate and distinct as early as 1830. They have also pointed to passages in the BOM, which I find somewhat less convincing. I propose that the doctrine of Jesus and God the Father being separate beings was possibly a sacred and guarded (read secret) doctrine in early Mormonism, likely due to its controversial nature. If the doctrine was indeed a secret, that could account for the 1832 account's omission of two personages.  
      Keeping controversial items secret was not foreign to Mormonism. Polygamy was kept a secret from the early 1830s. Knowledge of how the Book of Mormon translation occurred was more or less kept within the bounds of a select few. In Nauvoo, the endowment was kept secret. All of these items were controversial in their own ways, and engendered criticism from various corners. The separate nature of the Father and Son had enormous potential for controversy, and comments by JS in 1844 indicate JS' frustration with prevailing notions and possibly with criticism of his teachings.
      Evidence that God the Father and Jesus being separate beings was not only controversial but also a secret doctrine comes from JS' revelations and an account of the school of the prophets given by Zebedee Coltrin. According to Coltrin and another witness, the men experienced a vision of God the Father and Christ, likely in 1832 or 1833. First they saw Christ walk through the room, and following that, they saw God the Father walk through the room. After the vision, Joseph Smith told the men there, "Brethren, now you are prepared to be the apostles of Jesus Christ, for you have seen both the Father and the Son and know that They exist and that They are two separate personages." His comments place emphasis on God and Christ's separate nature and makes it a qualifier for apostleship. Further, intimate knowledge of God's existence can be considered a divinely granted privilege reserved for apostles or others who qualify through great faith, according to JS' revelations. JS' comments to the school of the prophets infer a type of categorical equivalence between intimate knowledge of God's existence and the knowledge that the Father and the Son are separate beings. This makes knowledge of the Father and Son's separate nature a sacred mystery revealed by God to the privileged and prepared. 
      As noted earlier, the Book of Moses gives fairly clear accounts of God the Father and Jesus being separate beings present at the same time (ie. council in heaven and the creation). Notably, this revelation contains two statements that prescribe that the text only be shared with true believers.
       
      It's also worth noting that the council in Heaven and account of Satan's casting out, which is one of the places the separate nature of the Father and the Son is clear, is found in chapter 4.
      The above are the earliest instances of the doctrine being clearly delineated (as far as I've identified), and both the school of prophets vision and the Moses revelation can be interpreted as sacred secrets.
      Another supporting evidence is the public nature of the Book of Mormon text and its sometimes trinitarian-like portrayal of God (ex. Abinadi's comments about God/Christ), which dates to just a year before the Book of Moses. Even in the BOM's grandest theophany, the Brother of Jared's vision, only the preexistant Christ is seen. I would argue that the 1832 account, like the Book of Mormon, was meant to be a public document. The exaggerated language (mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Christ), the Book of Mormon like summary at the beginning, and it's inclusion in a letter book instead of a private journal suggest that it may have been intended for public use, and for this reason the theophany account was limited to a a manifestation of Christ, similar to the Brother of Jared's theophany.
      An edited 1832 vision is also consistent with how Joseph would later edit or be complicit to editing controversial items from his 1838 history. For example, the seer stone is not mentioned, and the history simply gives a description of the Urim and Thummim and breastplate and states that it was by this means that the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph's treasure digging was also minimized in the history. Essentially, editing controversial material along with sacred secrets are consistent with early Mormonism and provide a compelling explanation for the omission of two personages from the 1832 account of the First Vision.
      That's the gist of the argument. Comments? 
×
×
  • Create New...