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Murder Among the Mormons on Netflix


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9 minutes ago, Calm said:

Then why don’t we see more of these every time there is an accident, etc. because chances are a good portion have people giving blessings?  As I said, once makes sense to convey the context and story.  Mentioning it twice makes it sensational IMO.  Especially coupling it with Flynn’s reaction.

Flynn was really...something. Definitely a character. Honestly, I think he is the reason they played it twice was because they wanted his overwrought reaction. As creepy as he was, he was fairly engaging as a character.

 

11 minutes ago, Calm said:

Then why don’t we see more of these every time there is an accident, etc. because chances are a good portion have people giving blessings?  As I said, once makes sense to convey the context and story.  Mentioning it twice makes it sensational IMO.  Especially coupling it with Flynn’s reaction.

This makes my point. In Utah the TR thing may seem normal/reasonable even though it seems odd everywhere else. 

I bet that if someone did a thorough search of Utah news stories they would find more than 1 example of people talking about giving blessings.

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7 hours ago, Calm said:

And they used it twice...when the vast majority of Latter-day Saints I know would not be sharing a private, sacred moment on News at 10.  Once is storytelling what happened, twice is using it to create a picture because it added no information about those directly involved in the bombing, what led to the bombing and had no effect on the investigation etc...and it was a false picture IMO...members don’t go around publishing they have given blessings outside of church and many don’t do it there.
 

The claims the Church was hiding stuff...I don’t remember there ever being a response from the Church about it.  In one case the detective George (but I might have mixed him up) talked about the Church buying to hide, but the Church actually published it iirc.  I don’t have a problem they used those comments as it is a common perception, I just think they should have looked for something that told the Church’s POV better than they did.

There is an interesting angle on this whole thing. The natural assumption is that one making such a bold statement regarding the blessing, with such limited purview of what was happening in the situation, could only be comical because of what he didn’t know. We superimpose our worldly perspective on this and, without realizing it, assume that God’s will would be for him not to live. The issue of how he said this to the news aside (and, to be fair, this is a regular person who just witnessed a bombing and had a lot of emotions flowing), what would have happened if Hofmann died that day? Would they have been as intent on him as a suspect and put the pieces together? Eventually, presumably, but what else would be left out?

While I share a same degree of the skepticism, I think the idea that it would be laughable for God to bring something to pass that seems to be at odds with our 21st century sensibilities to be missing a much larger picture, and a dose of healthy agnosticism may be appropriate before we boast that God could only do something that suits our tastes and is easily discernible to the human eye. 

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It is not skepticism, that bothers me about this use of a blessing, it is something sacred being used inappropriately.  The emotions of the day, the storytelling...while it bothers me, I understand why curiosity has them including this stuff.It quickly becomes disrespectful imo.

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16 hours ago, Calm said:

Then why don’t we see more of these every time there is an accident, etc. because chances are a good portion have people giving blessings?  As I said, once makes sense to convey the context and story.  Mentioning it twice makes it sensational IMO.  Especially coupling it with Flynn’s reaction.

There are many behaviors that were considered appropriate and normal in the 80's that we don't see any more. Just because we don't see something regularly today doesn't mean it didn't happen in the 80's. I'd call that cultural progress. Maybe, instances like this guy on the news started rubbing people the wrong way so it actually helped to shift the culture. Doesn't really matter but I do find it interesting.

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On 3/4/2021 at 10:16 AM, Calm said:

Anyone watch it yet?

Watched it. You'd think the Church ordered the bombings based on this mini-series. 

It was created for entertainment not testimony-building. Similar to some authors who constatnyl publish books bashing the faith the author professes. Does revenue from those products taint the tithing pot? Doubt it. Does revenue from Marriott's pornogrpahic films and liquour sales taint the titihing pot? Apparently not. 

Murder among the Mormons is presented as: He lost his faith during his mission - sought vengeance via forgery by selling the Church forged documents - pressure from investors the Church indirectly used caused him to crack and build bombs to cover his tracks

Why the Church bought documents from the forger?

Not sure. Possibly becuase the message is important, not the messenger so the means by which the message (the Restoration) was delivered might be off-putting to potential converts unfamiliar with 1820's culture in New England. 

Why is it a shock when folk magic in Palmyra comes up?

Not sure. It was not limited to Joseph alone. 

Would I read the 116 lost manuscript pages regardless of the source?

Probably. Jesus In India is an intriguing concept that's non-canon for our Church but part of it still resonates with me.

Would the 116 pages state any spiritual truth other than what the existing scriptures state?

Doubt it.

 

Edited by nuclearfuels
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1 hour ago, nuclearfuels said:

Watched it. You'd think the Church ordered the bombings based on this mini-series. 

:)  No. Not even close

It was created for entertainment not testimony-building. Similar to some authors who constatnyl publish books bashing the faith the author professes. Does revenue from those products taint the tithing pot? Doubt it. Does revenue from Marriott's pornogrpahic films and liquour sales taint the titihing pot? Apparently not. 

Would anyone expect a Netflix documentary to be created for the purpose of testimony-building? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?

Murder among the Mormons is presented as: He lost his faith during his mission - sought vengeance via forgery by selling the Church forged documents - pressure from investors the Church indirectly used caused him to crack and build bombs to cover his tracks

Wrong again. Are you sure you watched the documentary. It specifically made reference to him feeling like he was an atheist by about age 14.

But I do agree he certainly had an ax to grind with religion in general. But even more than that I think he just liked messing with people. He enjoyed the con and fooling others.

Why the Church bought documents from the forger?

Not sure. Possibly becuase the message is important, not the messenger so the means by which the message (the Restoration) was delivered might be off-putting to potential converts unfamiliar with 1820's culture in New England. 

It seems clear (and understandable) that the church wouldn't want false documents changing the narrative of the restoration. Interestingly, the church's narrative wasn't always complete/honest/accurate either. I believe the church thought these documents were legitimate when they purchased or had others purchase for them. The Salamander Letter digs into the folk magic aspect of the restoration the church is very keen on staying away from, even though there are some elements of truth in it.

Why is it a shock when folk magic in Palmyra comes up?

Because it wasn't part of the traditional church narrative of the restoration and they actually avoided the topic like the plague, even suggesting such claims of folk magic were merely anti-mormon screeds.

Not sure. It was not limited to Joseph alone. 

Would I read the 116 lost manuscript pages regardless of the source?

Probably. Jesus In India is an intriguing concept that's non-canon for our Church but part of it still resonates with me.

Would the 116 pages state any spiritual truth other than what the existing scriptures state?

Doubt it.

But would it matter to you if the 116 pages came from a forger or an actual contemporary source? Fan fiction is fine if it is purported to be such.

My comments in RED 

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5 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

There are many behaviors that were considered appropriate and normal in the 80's that we don't see any more.

I don’t remember ever seeing someone talk about a healing blessing on the news in the 80s during the time I lived in Utah (BYU) from 76-85.  I am curious if others do. 

Edited by Calm
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1 minute ago, Calm said:

I don’t remember ever seeing someone talk about a healing blessing on the news in the 80s during the time I lived in Utah (BYU) from 76-85.  I am curious if others do. 

Since I lived in California at the time, I did not see it on the news.  But I heard about it early on.  As I recall Salamander talks about it.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Kevin Christensen said:

Since I lived in California at the time, I did not see it on the news.  But I heard about it early on.  As I recall Salamander talks about it.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

I meant besides this occurrence, was it typical for people interviewed as witnesses of accidents who had helped the victims as best they could to announce on screen they had given victims blessing? 

Edited by Calm
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On 3/11/2021 at 12:09 PM, juliann said:

 After the initial interest in the documentary, I think this may be a more realistic look at it.  

 

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/netflix-s-murder-among-mormons-uses-same-stereotypes-about-our-ncna1260447?fbclid=IwAR2a2d4kPLhwXyLOEn9IWQwQ9AyG7ykKLQVcvVcYU2wb88gy5LFzr8h7xZ4

 

 This Vox article demonstrates how effective the "don't have an axe to grind"  innuendo was, 

https://www.vox.com/culture/22315736/netflix-murder-among-the-mormons-review-mark-hofmann-shannon-flynn

 

 

Having now watched it except for the last five minutes, I agree with the nbc news opinion Juliann lined.  Shauna and I have watched an earlier documentary take on the story, an episode of Forensic Files, that was tighter and more focused.  I saw little I did not know from my own readings and talks I attended.  I was annoyed by the particularly tacky videos they showed to tell the Moroni/Joseph Story.  I grew up LDS in Utah, and I had never seen those, which struck me as selected for their awfulness.  And annoyed that Brent Metcalfe got to imply that LDS dads would be upset by the presence of dinosaur books implying "evolution", as though it were a dreadful notion.  (On this read Nibley's "Before Adam", from 1980, given as an address at BYU, and consider Dinosaur Jim Jensen, LDS fossil hunter extraordinaire).  It matters which stories get told as paradigmatic, and which stories are explicitly labeled as exceptional.  Some of my own favorite Utah childhood memories involve my dad taking us all to see the Cleveland Lloyd dinosaur quarry in Central Utah, and later, the Quarry near Vernal Utah.  I read lots of dinosaur books as a kid.  Some that my parents bought, and others that I got from the libraries.  The Hofmann story is a fascinating mystery story, but for those who want to learn about it and LDS culture, this is far from the best approach.

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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1 hour ago, Calm said:

I meant besides this occurrence, was it typical for people interviewed as witnesses of accidents who had helped the victims as best they could to announce on screen they had given victims blessing? 

No. It is not uncommon to read or hear stories where people are dying and men are brought in for blessings but to stand in front of a microphone and announce your own ministering is weird. What made it weirdly over the top is the guy announcing he commanded God to heal him. Totally inappropriate....but he looked young.

I was satisfied with the show until I reflected on it. It was like an unsatisfying meal....I was astonished how they jumped over his other forgeries. The most interesting part of it was the explanation of how he did it and how Throckmorton caught him. They needed more of that sort of analysis for any lasting impression beyond Mormons are strange.  

But I did find it entertaining.

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2 minutes ago, juliann said:

No. It is not uncommon to read or hear stories where people are dying and men are brought in for blessings but to stand in front of a microphone and announce your own ministering is weird. What made it weirdly over the top is the guy announcing he commanded God to heal him. Totally inappropriate....but he looked young.

I was satisfied with the show until I reflected on it. It was like an unsatisfying meal....I was astonished how they jumped over his other forgeries. The most interesting part of it was the explanation of how he did it and how Throckmorton caught him. They needed more of that sort of analysis for any lasting impression beyond Mormons are strange.  

But I did find it entertaining.

Totally agree. The "how" was the most interesting part. The processes Hoffman developed were quite ingenious, as was the way Throckmorton was able to prove they were forgeries. I do wonder how many forgeries are still out there being passed off as legitimate. I imagine testing has improved significantly from the 80's but how often are historical documents re-tested?

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I like the descriptions of tracking down leads, him being the most likely suspect being  confirmed by a random receipt for an engravers, which led to checking engravers in Salt Lakr area, which led to the plate for the Oath of a Freeman...I watch mysteries because I like the puzzle solving side of them.

What bugged me the most the longer it sits in my head was accusations that were not explained...how did the Church obstruct the investigation in the view of the detective making the claim.  It could have been actual obstruction or it could have been simple refusal to share details they knew were Ireland and had a right not to share.  Brent talked about a text that got him fired, but I had heard the issue was he inappropriately removed materials, bypassing security measures...a rather major issue if one is employed as security.  I don’t know if that is true, but the why and what of church behaviour was rather lacking IMO.  I get the time restraints, that it is for entertainment more than investigative reporting, and the likelihood of the Church not providing many details, but the dissatisfaction is still there.

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9 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I believe the church thought these documents were legitimate when they purchased or had others purchase for them. The Salamander Letter digs into the folk magic aspect of the restoration the church is very keen on staying away from, even though there are some elements of truth in it.

I thought the series answered this allegation rather well with the quotation from the letter of Gordon B. Hinckley as quoted by Richard E. Turley, Jr. in the video shortly after the Salamander letter was donated to the church:

"We'll have to accept, for the time being, the scientific evaluations of the examiners, but that does not mean that it could not have been a forgery from that time period, that was created for the purposes of hurting the Church."

I'm not sure what else they could have done differently.  Also, from what I recall from my book reading a couple of decades ago (and I may remember incorrectly), the church didn't purchase any of the documents, they were all donated to the church by others.

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On 3/11/2021 at 11:15 AM, Stormin' Mormon said:

The cringiest bit for me was a contemporary interview with a man who happened upon the aftermath of Hofmann's self-explosion.  He told the TV cameras that he gave Hofmann a blessing and "commanded him to live." 

Even though I didn't think it was appropriate for the guy to talk about the blessing to a news reporter on TV, I'm actually glad they included that part in the series because I don't remember reading anything about that happening years ago.  I may have a different take on this than others, but I think it is significant because there were some very good reasons that Hofmann needed to live:  He had to confess and talk about his forgeries, and in a sense him doing that cleared the name of the Church.  If Hofmann had died, there's no telling how the investigation would have turned out and there may have been too many unanswered questions.  So I see the blessing as a significant factor in how this all turned out.

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On 3/12/2021 at 1:46 PM, Kevin Christensen said:

And annoyed that Brent Metcalfe got to imply that LDS dads would be upset by the presence dinosaur books implying "evolution", as though it were a dreadful notion. 

That part of the show really annoyed me as well.  I've always been interested in dinosaurs too (part of that interest was helped along through the special effects work of Ray Harryhausen in a few of the movies I saw when I was a kid).  This isn't directly related to the topic of this thread, but there was a really cool find in China just published on CNN today:  Researchers discover a dinosaur preserved sitting on a nest of eggs with fossilized embryos, a first.

The 70-million-year-old fossil: an adult oviraptorid theropod dinosaur sitting atop a nest of its eggs.

210312153435-01-worlds-first-dinosaur-ne

This is an awesome find.

You can't keep this kind of thing from your kids to avoid talking about evolution.  It will only hurt them in the long run. 

Edit:  Here's a better article with a better photo on Sci-News:  Paleontologists Find Remains of Oviraptorid Dinosaur and Embryo-Bearing Egg Clutch

Edited by InCognitus
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On 3/11/2021 at 11:10 PM, Calm said:

It is not skepticism, that bothers me about this use of a blessing, it is something sacred being used inappropriately.  The emotions of the day, the storytelling...while it bothers me, I understand why curiosity has them including this stuff.It quickly becomes disrespectful imo.

I agree!

Also, sure glad the dude prayed over him if it helped keep Hofmann alive! 

Fascinating what Hofmann did to change the world by way of figuring how forgers are able to deceive. Not that he deserves to live.

Edited by Tacenda
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I just watched all three parts of the documentary tonight. I found it fascinating.

I had read about Hofmann's forgeries in a book about Mormonism a few years ago (I don't remember which book). But the brief mention of his forgeries didn't go into a whole lot of detail about the bombings. It was intriguing to see the whole story come together, and to hear so much of Hofmann's horrifying "confessions."

I think the filmmakers did a fabulous job telling the story.

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On 3/11/2021 at 8:49 PM, Judd said:

There is an interesting angle on this whole thing. The natural assumption is that one making such a bold statement regarding the blessing, with such limited purview of what was happening in the situation, could only be comical because of what he didn’t know. We superimpose our worldly perspective on this and, without realizing it, assume that God’s will would be for him not to live. The issue of how he said this to the news aside (and, to be fair, this is a regular person who just witnessed a bombing and had a lot of emotions flowing), what would have happened if Hofmann died that day? Would they have been as intent on him as a suspect and put the pieces together? Eventually, presumably, but what else would be left out?

While I share a same degree of the skepticism, I think the idea that it would be laughable for God to bring something to pass that seems to be at odds with our 21st century sensibilities to be missing a much larger picture, and a dose of healthy agnosticism may be appropriate before we boast that God could only do something that suits our tastes and is easily discernible to the human eye. 

Quoted for truth.  It deserves more than the one rep point I am able to give it. :good: 

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On 3/13/2021 at 3:09 AM, Calm said:

I meant besides this occurrence, was it typical for people interviewed as witnesses of accidents who had helped the victims as best they could to announce on screen they had given victims blessing? 

I remember this one from a few years ago. A consecrated oil vial even makes a mysterious appearance.

When I first watched this I didn't think it was out-of-the-ordinary. 

Witnesses Claim Miracle Man Saved Car Crash Victim With Prayer | ABC World News

 

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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Posted (edited)

An excellent article Imo on the mistaken beliefs people have about the Church’s involvement with Hofmann...because Hofmann lied about first the Church owning the Oliver Cowdery letter and then claimed the Church was interested in purchasing the McClellin collection, quite likely a lie as well.  The actual story is however different.

https://publicsquaremag.org/editorials/the-fraud-mark-hoffman-still-perpetuates/

Quote

The first regards the “Oliver Cowdery Letter.”...The Los Angeles Times repeatedly published allegations that this document not only existed but was being purposely kept from the public by The Church. Upon hearing these allegations the Church underwent an extensive search of their archives to try and find this document. But it could not be found.

As late as April 1987, more than a year after Mark Hofmann had been arrested and charged with the murders, the Los Angeles Timescontinued to allege that the Oliver Cowdery Letter existed. It was only in July after Mark Hofmann admitted publicly that he lied about the Oliver Cowdery Letter, that The Los Angeles Timesadmitted that he had been their only source for the claim. 

Quote

And it is this narrative that “Murder Among the Mormons” picks up and runs with. For instance, the series suggests that The Church had agreed to purchase an alleged collection of documents, “The McLellin Collection,” that would be harmful to the Church, with the intention of suppressing them....

 “Murder Among the Mormons” fails to ever make explicit that the only source for the claim that the Church intended to purchase and hide the documents was none other than Mark Hofmann.

Quote

In 1984, Gordon B. Hinckley was well aware that the Salamander Letter had the potential to harm the Church. He wrote in his journal, “Our enemies will try to make much of this letter.” Yet when Mark Hofmann attempted to get the Church to purchase the Salamander Letter, both Hinckley and the Church’s History Department declined. 

The letter was eventually sold to Steven F. Christensen who would later be murdered by Hofmann. A little over a year after its purchase, Christensen donated the document to the Church. Remarkably enough, it was only sixteen days later that the Church openly published the contents of the Salamander Letter in The Church News.

It references one of the comments that bugged me because of lack of detail in the accusation:

Quote

Similarly, Michael George, the Salt Lake City chief investigator, claimed in the “Murder Among the Mormons” that “the Church was hindering our investigation.” And while the claim went unchecked in the documentary, it’s clear the Church opened up their document collection at the time, sending files to both local and national investigators, including documents not directly related to Hofmann merely to help researchers establish a baseline.

While the modern instinct may be that anything deviating from complete transparency is somehow devious, transparency is not a passive act. Being transparent requires resources, labor, time, and focus. And being transparent about historical issues also requires research, acquisition, analysis, and, as the Hofmann affair makes clear, rigorous verification. There is a reason archives often take years before releasing documents publicly.

 

Edited by Calm
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Didn't know much about this story but decided to watch it because of this thread. One thing I've started to think about in the past few months is maybe I've looked at priesthood power a little to much like a super power. Kinda like the guy in the documentary who gave Mark Hoffman a blessing and if I remember correctly, he actually commanded God to make Mark live, could be wrong on the wording. But, at the same time, they show a picture of Mark with 5 Apostles, Seers and Revelators, looking at documents with a magnifying glass. I paused the movie on that part and really studied it. My whole life I looked at the priesthood as a power that gave a man the ability to distinguish between good and evil spirits.  Kinda like a bishop can do in a bishop interview before issuing a temple reccomend. How did these five Elders not know this man wasn't a complete fraud? Shouldn't the Holy Ghost be inside of them shouting, walk away, walk away, walk away! Isn't a Seer someone who sees with spiritual eyes, someone who clarifies? 

     

Edited by AtlanticMike
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