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smac97

Jod as Evidence of Brigham Young's Racism

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1 hour ago, katherine the great said:

Why?

It has been awhile since I read the original article where they compared Carruth’s  (sp?) shorthand translations with some of Watt’s.  The speculation iirc was that Watt being a more educated man who liked more ornate speech, altered some of what Young said to make it sound more prophety (my word, not theirs).

I haven’t yet read the article posted in the OP as I have seen references to nonJoD comments of Brigham Young’s, not really interested in an article that dismisses the JoD comments but can’t deal with the others (such as Nevo points to).

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Posted (edited)

In the earlier days of the Restored Church, nearly all sermons were given extemporaneously, including those in the JOD. It was virtually unthinkable in nineteenth century Mormonism to give a memorized or pre-written sermon. The early Saints felt that they should preach strictly by the Spirit. Elder Orson Pratt noted, sometimes he – and probably other speakers – gave sermons when their “minds seemed to be entirely closed up.” Recalling such an incident, Pratt remarked, “What few words I could stammer forth before a congregation, were altogether unsatisfactory to my own mind, and I presume to those who heard me.”

I am sure Brigham Young had similar moments of uninspired stammering that made its way into the JOD.

Edited by JAHS
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5 minutes ago, JAHS said:

am sure Brigham Young had similar moments of uninspired stammering that made its way into the JOD.

Which would tend to expose his personal opinions more than when he was inspired, imo. 

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45 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

I have no problem accepting Brigham Young as a man of his time, who accomplished great things. I think the big question when it comes to his racism is why God couldn’t spare ten seconds of His time to correct His only spokesperson on Earth. By comparison, God sent an angel with a flaming sword multiple times to Joseph to make sure he was on track with plural marriage, but racism isn’t high enough up the list to fix? 🤔

Apparently not; how many times does it talk about slavery in the Bible without ever condemning it?  

Racism is a word of our time and as time has passed - particularly in the last 70 years - the term has become far more emotional. Slavery has always existed and it exists today. Question - why aren't those talking about racism fighting against slavery today?  What makes their view of racism so much more important than everyone who suffers from it today?  It almost makes me think that it is not about this word "racism" at all, but something else. 

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23 hours ago, smac97 said:

William Douglas has posted a candid, thoughtful and lengthy article: Brigham Young, Racism, and Slavery

It's worth a read.  A main feature of the article is the questionable reliability of the JoD relative to the sentiments held by Brigham Young about racism.  He first sets the stage to contextualize the scope of Brigham Young's under-appreciated accomplishments in the annals of American history:

Douglas itemizes Young's extensive influence in the settlement of the American West, including colonization efforts, the transcontinental railroad and telegraph, etc.  Then, with this context in mind, he addresses the elephant in the room:

Douglas does not dispute that Brigham Young, as with pretty much all 19th-century Americans, harbor

Read the whole thing.

Thoughts?

-Smac

I have been saying for years that Watt was unreliable. Plus there is his apostasy. 

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2 minutes ago, Calm said:

Which would tend to expose his personal opinions more than when he was inspired, imo. 

Probably correct, but back then most people had similar opinions and they were the accepted norm.

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1 hour ago, Calm said:

It has been awhile since I read the original article where they compared Carruth’s  (sp?) shorthand translations with some of Watt’s.  The speculation iirc was that Watt being a more educated man who liked more ornate speech, altered some of what Young said to make it sound more prophety (my word, not theirs).

I haven’t yet read the article posted in the OP as I have seen references to nonJoD comments of Brigham Young’s, not really interested in an article that dismisses the JoD comments but can’t deal with the others (such as Nevo points to).

Her conference session at MHA last year was excellent.  Although she didn't touch on racism.  (She did confirm Brigham did teach Adam-God).  

But what I remember the most is her statement that she knew a different Brigham than common historical view hold.  A softer Brigham.  For instance she specified that Watt changed places where Brigham said heart to mind.

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5 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

I have no problem accepting Brigham Young as a man of his time, who accomplished great things. I think the big question when it comes to his racism is why God couldn’t spare ten seconds of His time to correct His only spokesperson on Earth. By comparison, God sent an angel with a flaming sword multiple times to Joseph to make sure he was on track with plural marriage, but racism isn’t high enough up the list to fix? 🤔

Some of Joseph Smith choices regarding plural marriage is criticized by many today.  Why did not the angel take time to tell Joseph what to avoid while practicing it so that people a 150 years later will not freak out.  Perhaps one answer to your question is that polygamy was a practice that would directly affect the saints one way or another for an extended period of time. Whereas racism was not important issue because the vast majority of members were white and did not have much interaction with blacks and others.  If you are a white person traveling to Utah with a bunch of other whites and maybe a rare black person coming along, racism issues is not going to be high on the list of concerns or worries. 

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6 hours ago, Calm said:

has been awhile since I read the original article where they compared Carruth’s  (sp?) shorthand translations with some of Watt’s.  The speculation iirc was that Watt being a more educated man who liked more ornate speech, altered some of what Young said to make it sound more prophety (my word, not theirs

Makes sense if that’s all he did. It almost sounds though like he (allegedly) purposely changed the meaning. I don’t know much about him but its a bold accusation. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, carbon dioxide said:

Whereas racism was not important issue because the vast majority of members were white and did not have much interaction with blacks and others. 

Kind of a self fulfilling prophecy though because we might have had many more blacks join us without the ban and the ideas that got attached to it, so we would have had a large minority of black and plenty of interaction with other races for more of our early history.

So it maybe only became unimportant because we made it unimportant rather than God made it unimportant.  It may have been quite important to him and we will be learning what such means along with all the other choices we have made putting our wills before God's.

Edited by Calm
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6 minutes ago, katherine the great said:

Makes sense if that’s all he did. It almost sounds though like he (allegedly) purposely changed the meaning. I don’t know much about him but its a bold accusation. 

A few of what I read seemed like there was some change, not sure the change was intentional or just what Watt thought he meant.  I should go find that article and compare it to the new one....maybe later.  Not in the mood for analysis tonight.

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On 7/10/2020 at 9:11 PM, Scott Lloyd said:

Over the years, the Church has never fully embraced JOD as authorItative. It now seems more than ever that it’s a good thing they haven’t. 

If anything recorded in the JOD was false, then many Saints were led astray by their President (s) and
other leaders.

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3 minutes ago, TheTanakas said:

If anything recorded in the JOD was false, then many Saints were led astray by their President (s) and
other leaders.

An important point.

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11 hours ago, katherine the great said:

Makes sense if that’s all he did. It almost sounds though like he (allegedly) purposely changed the meaning. I don’t know much about him but its a bold accusation. 

Gerrit Dirkmaat and LaJean Purcell Carruth published a BYU Studies article a few years ago that looked at the differences between George D. Watt's shorthand notes of sermons and the published versions in the Journal of Discourses. You can read the full article here: https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/prophets-have-spoken-but-what-did-they-say-examining-differences-between-george-d-watts-0

They found that "extensive editorial alterations were often made during the process of transcription and publication as Watt and others prepared the sermons for publication in the Journal of Discourses and Deseret News" (26).

Quote

Watt recorded the sermons in Pitman shorthand, which allowed him to record individual words and sometimes phrases quickly and thus capture the words of the speaker with significant accuracy as they were spoken. To prepare the sermon for publication, Watt had to first transcribe his shorthand record into longhand, and he edited and altered the content as he transcribed. Further editing was apparently then performed on this longhand version in preparation for publication, usually by Watt himself. The result of this transcription and editing process is a published version of the speech that often has significant differences from the originally spoken words. In some cases, the variations are only slight, and the thoughts and expressions, and indeed many of the words, published are very close to the way that they were initially recorded. In most sermons recorded by Watt and published in the Journal of Discourses or Deseret News, however, there are significant variations. (28)

They go on to note that most of the changes were omissions, but in some cases Watt made his own editorial insertions: 

Quote

The majority of the changes to the original sermons take the form of excision as Watt cut out portions of the sermon. . . . Furthermore, Watt would often transcribe his shorthand in longhand correctly, then cross out the original transcription and insert text that differs from the shorthand—clearly a deliberate act showing his own editorial intervention. (29)

But this sort of thing wasn't uncommon in the 19th century. As the authors point out at the end of the article, "the differences between originally recorded shorthand and published versions of a particular document, however, are not unique to the Journal of Discourses. Indeed, in most other instances of nineteenth-century shorthand studied and transcribed by Carruth—ranging from trial testimony in the John D. Lee trials to Quaker sermons delivered in 1850 and 1851—similar editing can be seen between the shorthand and the published versions" (42, emphasis added).

Dirkmaat and Carruth further note that Brigham Young was likely "aware of, and possibly even condoned, Watt's general practice of editing the sermons in order to present the speakers in a more polished, erudite light. Indeed, Watt's efforts certainly portrayed to the public much more refined discourses, and Young may have expressly charged Watt to make such changes" (36).

The authors conclude with this summary:

Quote

The published text in the Journal of Discourses simply cannot be relied upon to represent the actual words delivered by the speaker. The edited, published versions may represent ideas similar to what the speaker intended and may occasionally represent the speaker's own editorial changes, but they do not represent a word-for-word echo. In fact, they often would not be recognizable when compared to the originally spoken words. . . .

Watt's editing for concision and clarity might have made for a cleaner transcript but also obscured the personalities and humanity of the speakers. Placing more elegant words and well-rounded thoughts into the published transcript may have made the sermons more acceptable to nineteenth-century ears, but many of the beautifully crafted sentences bore little resemblance to the originally spoken words. Reading the shorthand transcripts reveals a picture of these apostolic speakers that is often far removed from the more static and one-dimensional images that are often painted as the result of the published versions of the discourses. The re-creations of these men in the modern mind based upon their apparent patterns of speech, their apparent directness, and their apparent choice of words found in the Journal of Discourses are in fact hollow representations of the words and attitudes actually reflected by the speakers. Those published sermons often reflect the content but not the emotion of the speech. They reflect the purpose of the sermon, but not the purposeful way the preacher grappled with the subject. Historians and members alike should be aware of these often important, often unknowable, differences between the originally spoken words and those that were published. Anyone referencing particular ways in which ideas were stated from sermons published in the Journal of Discourses should especially be mindful of the differences between the shorthand and the published text. (42–44)

George Watt, it should be noted, was not out to undermine Brigham Young or make him look bad. Quite the opposite, actually. Even after Watt left Young's employment in 1868 (after Young refused his request for a pay raise), he bore him no ill will. In an 1871 letter to Young, Watt wrote: "Brother Brigham I have for you the deepest respect, and sympathy. I have always held you to my heart as a very dear friend" (quoted in Ronald G. Watt, The Mormon Passage of George D. Watt: First British Convert, Scribe for Zion, 249). This was no less true during his service as Young's clerk.

Edited by Nevo
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On 7/10/2020 at 6:52 PM, smac97 said:

William Douglas has posted a candid, thoughtful and lengthy article: Brigham Young, Racism, and Slavery

It's worth a read.  A main feature of the article is the questionable reliability of the JoD relative to the sentiments held by Brigham Young about racism.  He first sets the stage to contextualize the scope of Brigham Young's under-appreciated accomplishments in the annals of American history:

Douglas itemizes Young's extensive influence in the settlement of the American West, including colonization efforts, the transcontinental railroad and telegraph, etc.  Then, with this context in mind, he addresses the elephant in the room:

Douglas does not dispute that Brigham Young, as with pretty much all 19th-century Americans, harbored racist sentiments.  But he (Douglas) presents some information that complicates the picture quite a bit:

 (Emphases added)

Read the whole thing.

Thoughts?

-Smac

The article is pretty insightful and a strong piece of historical scholarship. 

We are ALL sinful, broken men that have fallen short of the glory of God. ALL men make mistakes and fall victim to their own corrupt nature, regardless of the station or calling from God.

MLK, for example, was a serial adulterer and denied some of the basic tenets of Christianity. He was, however, instrumental in the Human Rights Movement of his time and his role and accomplishments are undeniable. 

There is a lot of "historical gnosticism" in the Church. People tend to think that prophets of old and leaders were infallible. And that every single decision they made was guided by the Spirit. Not so. They (as well as we), flawed as we may all be, are instruments in His hand to accomplish His will and purpose in our time and place. 

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