Jump to content

Richard Bushman: Evil?


Recommended Posts

On 10/28/2022 at 4:07 PM, pogi said:

"Fraud" insinuates that Joseph didn't actually believe in folk magic.  I don't believe that for a second.  I don't think that can be deduced by the fact that "most people don't believe anyone can find lost or buried treasure".   In fact, very many people believed in such things in Joseph's time. 

Makes sense, I suppose, why it could be an issue for those who seem to feel threatened by the arguments of critics.  I guess that is why it isn't an issue for me. 

If Joseph truly believed he could find buried treasure, why did he look for employment on dig teams? If I could find buried treasure, I would look for it my self or with my close friends/family, not as an employee of someone else. And why would you every claim to be able to find treasure if you were never successful? 

Link to comment
On 10/28/2022 at 1:07 PM, pogi said:

Makes sense, I suppose, why it could be an issue for those who seem to feel threatened by the arguments of critics.  I guess that is why it isn't an issue for me. 

👍👍😉👏

Link to comment
On 11/1/2022 at 8:57 AM, Snodgrassian said:

If Joseph truly believed he could find buried treasure, why did he look for employment on dig teams? If I could find buried treasure, I would look for it my self or with my close friends/family, not as an employee of someone else. And why would you every claim to be able to find treasure if you were never successful? 

1) why did he look for employment on dig teams? 

Perhaps he was honing his skills and trying to learn from other experienced money-diggers/scryers, and thought he could gain some good experience by learning from another.  He had not yet obtained a lost treasure after all, so maybe he truly believed in the magic (as evidenced by working for a money-digger for pennies) and that he had a gift, but needed some more experience and rubbing shoulders with others more experienced before his big break.  He wanted to learn some more first.  That is just one possibility.  

2) Why did he hire out the work instead of just looking for the money himself?  

Look at the facts - He was looking for the money for himself.  Both Joseph Smith Jr. and Sr. were named in the contract with Stowell to have claim on part of whatever they found.  Joseph Smith Sr. was so confident in this folk magic that he bet his farm on this money dig.   He lost his farm as a result of his belief in folk magic and that Joseph had a gift.  He knew that Joseph's wages of extremely meager wages of $14 per month (meager even for that time) wouldn't cover the farm expenses.  He wouldn't have invested the time and effort unless he truly believed that this could save his farm.  If he was a genuine fraudster, you would think that he would actually try to come up with a fraud to pay for the farm.  No, all the evidence suggests that he actually believed in the magic and that this find would cover the farm. 

Critics love to highlight reports that the Smith family had some sort of magical parchment, a Mars dagger, and that he actually had a Jupiter talisman on his person at the time of death.  Not to mention his peeping stones that he kept in his possession and used in translation.  Critics use this as evidence that he did believe in folk magic to his discredit.  Well...you can't have it both ways critics!  

3) Why would anyone claim to have a gift if you were never successful?

You don't know his entire history.  Maybe he was successful with finding lost things around the home which helped build his confidence.  But also, keep in mind that locating the treasure was not always enough in obtaining it.  In folk magic tradition it was commonly believed that spirits guarded treasures and if you didn't do everything exactly right, the treasure could slip further into the ground.  Even if you had a gift, there was no guarantee that you could always obtain what you find.  I'm sure that is what he told himself. and that with practice, effort, and new learning, he would eventually get his treasure.  That is probably also why he hired out his work, because even with a gift, there was no guarantee.    In fact, one of his money diggers reportedly testified that he did indeed strike a buried box or chest with his shovel, only to find that it slipped deeper when he put his shovel back in.  This type of feedback probably boosted his confidence that he actually located the treasure.   

If he didn't believe in folk magic/scrying - why would he use the peep stones in translation?  Why wouldn't he just stick with the urim and thumim and distance himself from folk magic all together?  Clearly he felt that the stones gave him a special ability to translate.  He relied on them to do what he did.  It wasn't for spectacle or show, or part of any con - if anything the use of the stones would have hurt his con rather than helped it.  He lost a lot of credit over their use.   

No sir, there is no doubt in my mind that he really believed. 

Edited by pogi
Link to comment
4 hours ago, pogi said:

and that he actually had a Jupiter talisman on his person at the time of death

This claim is quite problematic given the evidence.  It seems more like a story that Charles Bidamon used to produce artifacts for personal notoriety or to get gain (in my opinion, since evidence contemporary to Joseph Smith doesn't support his claims), and to the best of my knowledge Bidamon's 1938 statement is the only evidence connecting the talisman to Joseph Smith.

Link to comment
8 hours ago, InCognitus said:

This claim is quite problematic given the evidence.  It seems more like a story that Charles Bidamon used to produce artifacts for personal notoriety or to get gain (in my opinion, since evidence contemporary to Joseph Smith doesn't support his claims), and to the best of my knowledge Bidamon's 1938 statement is the only evidence connecting the talisman to Joseph Smith.

Quote

Did Joseph have this Talisman on him when he was murdered? What would it mean if he did?

This well circulated claim finds its origins in a 1974 talk by Dr. Reed Durham. Durham said that Joseph "evidently [had a Talisman] on his person when he was martyred. The talisman, originally purchased from the Emma Smith Bidamon family, fully notarized by that family to be authentic and to have belonged to Joseph Smith, can now be identified as a Jupiter talisman."[1]

There is only one source of evidence that claims Joseph Smith had the Jupiter Talisman on his person, and that source is Charles Bidamon. Bidamon's statement was made long after the death of Joseph and Emma, relied on memories from his youth, and was undergirded by financial motives.

https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/answers/Joseph_Smith/Occultism_and_magic/Jupiter_talisman
 

They have a list of what Joseph had on him when he died and it wasn’t there.  

If it was such a treasured item of Joseph’s, why wouldn’t Emma give it to Joseph’s son?

And it is again being promoted to make money as replicas are being sold in church themed stores, or at least they were when I was working at a privately owned one.

Edited by Calm
Link to comment
50 minutes ago, Calm said:

They have a list of what Joseph had on him when he died and it wasn’t there.

Yes, the complete list of items that were found on Joseph Smith when he died is included on page 558 in footnote 183 of Anderson, Richard Lloyd (1984) "The Mature Joseph Smith and Treasure Searching," BYU Studies Quarterly: Vol. 24: Iss. 4, Article 7.   Nothing on the list resembles the talisman.

Link to comment
3 hours ago, InCognitus said:

This claim is quite problematic given the evidence.  It seems more like a story that Charles Bidamon used to produce artifacts for personal notoriety or to get gain (in my opinion, since evidence contemporary to Joseph Smith doesn't support his claims), and to the best of my knowledge Bidamon's 1938 statement is the only evidence connecting the talisman to Joseph Smith.

That’s why I was careful to say “critics love to highlight reports that…”

I am not saying he did have one, just that critics like to say he did.  I am pointing out the inconsistencies in how some want to dismiss him by suggesting he believed in magic  while others want to dismiss him as a fraud - it can’t be both.  

Link to comment
29 minutes ago, pogi said:

That’s why I was careful to say “critics love to highlight reports that…”

I am not saying he did have one, just that critics like to say he did.  I am pointing out the inconsistencies in how some want to dismiss him by suggesting he believed in magic  while others want to dismiss him as a fraud - it can’t be both.  

I was pretty sure that's what you were saying.  But I just wanted to make sure everyone else is clear on that issue :)   

Back in the late 80's, I credit the whole talisman claim (and Quinn's handling of it in his book) for getting me deeply interested in source documents, church history, and especially in the events leading up to the martyrdom of Joseph Smith.  So it's like a pet peeve of mine :)   

Link to comment
4 hours ago, InCognitus said:

Yes, the complete list of items that were found on Joseph Smith when he died is included on page 558 in footnote 183 of Anderson, Richard Lloyd (1984) "The Mature Joseph Smith and Treasure Searching," BYU Studies Quarterly: Vol. 24: Iss. 4, Article 7.   Nothing on the list resembles the talisman.

The talisman has great provenance though. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone argue this, but it’s very possible it was his and not on his person when killed. JS was very open minded, and he had roots in folk magic. His embrace of ritualistic ordinances, while many Protestant religions shied away from them, can be seen as evidence that his folk magic thinking imbued his religious thinking. So much of the BoM’ finding is imbued with it too, which is really well attested in sources like Quinn’s magic world view.

Link to comment
4 hours ago, pogi said:

I am pointing out the inconsistencies in how some want to dismiss him by suggesting he believed in magic  while others want to dismiss him as a fraud - it can’t be both.

While I obviously don’t believe he was a fraud, I don’t see why he couldn’t believe in magic and still be a fraud.  Maybe you mean he wouldn’t see what was occurring was a result of magic if he was the one making them happen though fraud.

Link to comment
52 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

talisman has great provenance though.

Explain and document that please because I am so not seeing it. (I don’t have any issue with it being his except I see the evidence as weak.) Just because he believed in folk magic is not sufficient evidence a specific piece of folk magic belonged to him anymore than if someone claimed they owned a distinctive hat Joseph had worn in his last days because Emma had given it to the seller, but no one ever described Joseph wearing a hat like it nor had seen it in the possession of Emma.

Link to comment
13 minutes ago, Calm said:

Explain and document that please because I am so not seeing it. (I don’t have any issue with it being his except I see the evidence as weak.) Just because he believed in folk magic is not sufficient evidence a specific piece of folk magic belonged to him anymore than if someone claimed they owned a distinctive hat Joseph had worn in his last days because Emma had given it to the seller, but no one ever described Joseph wearing a hat like it nor had seen it in the possession of Emma.

This is from Method Infinite, a recent publication on JS and freemasonry: 

“Charles Bidamon signed an affidavit saying that he received the amulet from his father, Lewis Bidamon, Freemason and second husband of Emma Smith. Charles Bidamon said that Emma Smith considered this talisman her husband’s “intimate possession.66”

Here is the footnoted source:

“66. Affidavit of Charles Bidamon, January 5, 1938, cited in Richard Lloyd Anderson, “The Mature Joseph Smith and Treasure Searching,” 541. Bidamon’s claim that he obtained the piece through his father, Lewis Bidamon, is bolstered by documents proving the Masonic initiation of Lewis Bidamon in Reclamation Lodge No. 54, a lodge formed in Nauvoo after the Mormons departed.”

Excerpt From
Method Infinite
Cheryl L. Bruno
https://books.apple.com/us/book/method-infinite/id1615433495
This material may be protected by copyright.

 

Link to comment
6 minutes ago, Calm said:

Yeah, I don’t see that as great provenance since it is from Charles only and not Emma or even Lewis.

Why would Lewis being a Mason in a lodge that had nothing to do with Joseph make a difference?

Lewis’ membership in a lodge is evidence that at least that part of the affidavit is true.
 

FWIW, Charles Bidamon’s claim that the talisman belonged to JS dates back to 1902, 35 years before he ever sold it to Wood in 1937. 

Link to comment

Also, from Mormont.org: 

In about 1937, Charles Bidamon responded to a want-ad in the Nauvoo Independent newspaper looking for Mormon documents and relics.[22] He said he had several items, including the "silver pocket piece."[23] He said that he received this from his father, Lewis Bidamon,[BIO] who was the second husband of Emma Smith.[BIO][24] That same year, Latter-day Saint collector Wilford C. Wood[BIO] purchased the "silver pocket piece."[25]

Other items obtained from Bidamon included part of the Pearl of Great Price manuscript, a credit statement from 1839, and several other authentic documents.[26]

Obviously without further evidence, we won’t know for sure whether or not JS owned the talisman, but it seems like a good possibility.

Edited by Benjamin Seeker
Link to comment
5 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

And one more find, there is a possible Jupiter symbol (very similar to the talisman) on JS’s weird snake cane:

https://www.lostmormonism.com/joseph-smiths-serpent-cane/
 

This is a better photo.  Are you talking about the X on the crown?  Or are you referring to something else?   If it's the X, then that's a big stretch.

Untitled.jpg

I don't see anything weird about having a snake cane.  Moses in the Bible had a cane that he turned into a snake.  If I was Joseph Smith, I'd want a cane that symbolized that too.  And this article in Meridian Magazine considers the crown on that cane as a gospel symbol:   The Church and Kingdom: Becoming Priests and Kings, By Jeffrey M. Bradshaw · June 19, 2012

Edited by InCognitus
Link to comment
11 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

This is a better photo.  Are you talking about the X on the crown?  Or are you referring to something else?   If it's the X, then that's a big stretch.

Untitled.jpg

I don't see anything weird about having a snake cane.  Moses in the Bible had a cane that he turned into a snake.  If I was Joseph Smith, I'd want a cane that symbolized that too.  And this article in Meridian Magazine considers the crown on that cane as a gospel symbol:   The Church and Kingdom: Becoming Priests and Kings, By Jeffrey M. Bradshaw · June 19, 2012

This is such a better photo than what I could find. Seeing this, I Agree that the x is a stretch. Thanks!

Link to comment
7 hours ago, Calm said:

While I obviously don’t believe he was a fraud, I don’t see why he couldn’t believe in magic and still be a fraud.  Maybe you mean he wouldn’t see what was occurring was a result of magic if he was the one making them happen though fraud.

The accusation was that because Joseph didn't actually believe that he had a gift in folk magic, then he was committing fraud in being hired out.   If he did actually believe then there is no way he was committing fraud.  It has no explanatory value.  They wouldn't have put their farm on the line in an effort to con their neighbor out of $14/month, which wasn't enough to save the farm.  No, they were betting on finding the treasure.  If he believed that he ha a gift, why would he deceive someone into $14/month jobs?  

Edited by pogi
Link to comment
7 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

The talisman has great provenance though. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone argue this, but it’s very possible it was his and not on his person when killed. JS was very open minded, and he had roots in folk magic. His embrace of ritualistic ordinances, while many Protestant religions shied away from them, can be seen as evidence that his folk magic thinking imbued his religious thinking. So much of the BoM’ finding is imbued with it too, which is really well attested in sources like Quinn’s magic world view.

The problem with this (the talisman claim) is that Charles Bidomon is the one and only source of this information.  And he was wrong on one important part of his statement:

Quote

This piece came to me through the relationship of my father, Major L. C. Bidamon who married the Prophet Joseph Smith's widow Emma Smith.  I certify that I have many times heard her say, when being interviewed and showing the piece, that it was in the prophet s pocket when he was martyred at Carthage, Ill.  Emma Smith Bidamon, the prophet's widow, was my foster mother.  She prized this piece very highly on account of its being one of the prophet s intimate possessions.  (From microfilm roll 16 of the Wilford Wood collection, as quoted on page 558 of BYU Studies [24:4], Fall 1984, also quoted on page 66 of EM&MWV)

And Quinn, in his book, goes to great lengths to dance around the fact that this item wasn't listed in the Prophet's possessions when he was killed.  None of his arguments make any sense, however. 

I'm not opposed to the idea that Joseph Smith had the talisman.  I just can't find a shred of evidence (other than Bidamon's inaccurate claim) to suggest that he actually owned it.

Link to comment
9 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

The problem with this (the talisman claim) is that Charles Bidomon is the one and only source of this information.  And he was wrong on one important part of his statement:

And Quinn, in his book, goes to great lengths to dance around the fact that this item wasn't listed in the Prophet's possessions when he was killed.  None of his arguments make any sense, however. 

I'm not opposed to the idea that Joseph Smith had the talisman.  I just can't find a shred of evidence (other than Bidamon's inaccurate claim) to suggest that he actually owned it.

Sure, He’s the only source, and he could be very well be wrong about the talisman being in JS’ pocket when he died. If we take him at his word, and I don’t see why we wouldn’t, then either his childhood/teenagehood memory of Emma saying that it was in JS pocket at the time of martyrdom is incorrect or Emma incorrectly believed that it was in JS’s pocket. Either way, it seems unlikely, though of course possible, that Emma would be incorrect about it being JS’s possession or that Charles would misremember you such a high degree.

There’s also the supporting evidence that every other possession that Charles sold to Wood were authentic, including a book of Abraham manuscript.

Edited by Benjamin Seeker
Link to comment
22 minutes ago, pogi said:

The accusation was that because Joseph didn't actually believe that he had a gift in folk magic, then he was committing fraud in being hired out.   If he did actually believe then there is no way he was committing fraud.

If people were strictly rational actors, this might be true, but everyone I know is a complex web made up of many different, often competing and mutually exclusive aspects. As humans we are exceptional at noticing others hypocrisy and horrible at seeing our own. 

Link to comment
15 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

If people were strictly rational actors, this might be true, but everyone I know is a complex web made up of many different, often competing and mutually exclusive aspects. As humans we are exceptional at noticing others hypocrisy and horrible at seeing our own. 

There is a possibility that JS combined sincere belief and elements of deceit (Vogel’s general thesis). Meaning he could have acted deceptively in some ways to keep people motivated or believing, while believing himself he was really on the trail of treasure, truth, etc.

His treatment of his revelations certainly points that way. It’s difficult to see his continual habit of editing earlier revelations to either iron out inconsistencies or bring them up to date with the then current theology is easily perceived as deceptive. Then there’s the whole getting married again without telling his wife. Basically, it’s not like deceit for the greater good isn’t part of his MO.

Edited by Benjamin Seeker
Link to comment
51 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

If people were strictly rational actors, this might be true, but everyone I know is a complex web made up of many different, often competing and mutually exclusive aspects. As humans we are exceptional at noticing others hypocrisy and horrible at seeing our own. 

When I say that there is no way that he was a fraud if he believed, I am not speaking in generalities (because some people who believe certainly can be fraudsters), but I am speaking in relation to his actions.  I am looking at where the evidence points.   Fraudsters don't intentionally shoot themselves in the foot for $14/month.  

I agree 100% with what you say, which is why I have no problem with his folk magic practices, using scrying peep stones to interpret the Book of Mormon, resorting back to his old treasure hunting activities in D&C 111 to try and save the church from debt, etc.  All of this points to what make some people very uncomfortable with the complex dance between folk magic, treasure seeking, and the restored gospel.  I am ok with the complexity of it.  But when someone makes an accusation of fraud based on the belief that he didn't believe in magic - then one better be able to back that up.   What does the evidence suggest?  What is more explanatory?  Follow the money - oh wait, there isn't any.  Yes, people are complex, but even complex people don't engage in fraud knowing that they are going to loose their farm over it.   It just doesn't happen.  There is a difference between complex people and completely, absurdly stupid people.  I don't think Joseph was the latter.   All evidence suggests that he actually believe that he would find that treasure and save his farm from debt.  Latter in D&C 111, we see the same repeating patter of treasure seeking to save the church from debt - reinforcing the idea that he really believed that hidden treasures could save him from financial woe.  He gambled multiple times on this belief.  That is not the behavior of a fraudster!   One may accuse him of being a misguided believer in folk magic, which may be problematic for some members - but I am ok with the human complexity and the complexity of God working with humans. 

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...