The History Essays Addressing Controversial Issues
The LDS Church has begun a series of history essays in an effort to provide an official response to some of the difficult and controversial historical and doctrinal issues that are causing many members of the Church to have a crisis of faith. I first addressed the topic of the LDS Google Apostasy and how the Internet was creating a crisis if faith in many Mormons back in April of 2012
The article quoted Marlin Jensen as saying
The church has assigned a staffer to create “a strategy to get church history onto the Web,” he said. “We are also working on an initiative to answer some of these more pressing questions.”
Apparently, the initiative to answer some of the “more pressing” questions has materialized in the form of the new history essays that are being published on LDS.org
Predictably, no single general authority is taking credit or responsibility for the content in these essays, but the fact that they are being published on the LDS.org provides the official “stamp of approval” from the brethren. Clearly, the first Presidency of the Church has commissioned this effort and has approved the content thereof even if they have opted to not sign their names to the essays.
This video provides some interesting information about the essays, as given by Elder Steven E. Snow, the relatively new church historian.
He claims that the church has “retained known scholars” that are outside of the LDS historical department to create a draft of each of the essays, which are reviewed by a committee in the Church History Department and selected General Authorities, and ultimately approved by the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency.
Once approved, each essay is published in “gospel topics” under LDS.org
I was really flattered when I got a call from President Monson’s office asking me if I would be willing to be on a committee that helps to craft some of these essays addressing sensitive subjects. I had no idea the brethren even knew who I was. So you can only imagine how surprised I was when Mrs. Watcher told me that President Monson was on the phone.
I could tell he was quite nervous and trying to gain composure as he asked me how I would feel about participating. I think he was hesitant to ask me since I have been known to be critical of how the church has avoided addressing some of these sensitive topics.
Of course I was honored to be asked to participate but, the first thing I asked was, “will I be reimbursed for my efforts?”
Actually, I am just have a little bit of fun… (as if it wasn’t blatantly obvious to you)
Naturally, I was disappointed and shocked when the church failed to contact me to be part of this project since I consider my self to be one of the foremost scholars on LDS Church History! LOL
I have a friend who has contacted the church historical department to see if the church is willing to divulge the names of these “known scholars” but and answer to date, has not been forthcoming. If anyone else has any information on this I would be interested in learning who is involved… but we can rest assured that they are “well known”. (Hey, I can’t gripe about this one, after all, I am the one that insists that content should be judged solely on the message, not the messenger!)
I suspect some of my friends involved with FARMS, FAIR and the MORMONINTERPRETER are among the inner elect that are providing illumination on these topics that have previously not been properly researched.
Brother Snow characterizes this project as “ground breaking in a way” because, as he claims, these issues have not had “academic attention” or been “researched properly” in the past.
I am mystified by that statement.
I don’t believe that the research produced in the essays thus far is ground breaking. I do, however, believe that an attempt at authoritative public responses to these issues, in modern times, with the First Presidency’s stamp of approval, is somewhat ground breaking.
One of the things that Elder Snow pointed out, that I really agree with, (being described as I understood what he was saying) is that if you look at the big picture of LDS history as a tapestry of events that provide a general storyline, it is remarkable and faith-promoting. Yet if you look at some of the individual “threads” having to do with specific events, they can be disconcerting, particularly if viewed out of context.
I agree with that!
Yes there are lots of very disruptive things in LDS Church history, but those who take a contextual look at the overall picture, including a deep search into the content within the scriptures brought forth through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith, it becomes obvious that a higher intelligence was directing the movement despite the follies of EVERY human being involved in the restoration movement.
The Student Review did a review on this topic recently. John Dehlin of MormonStories also did.
Surprisingly, John Dehlin gave a relatively positive review of the church’s current attempt to address these essays that address controversial historical issues which can be found here. I thought I would make a few observations as well.
In my comments section the other day I admitted to a commenter that I waffle back and forth in whether my comments about the church are charitable or condemning depending on which side of the bed I wake up on.
Be advised that I did not sleep well last night and I exited the bed from the wrong side today. Luckily Mrs Watcher had already left the bed, or my anxious exit therefrom might have left a disgruntled set of tread marks across her pointed but loveable little forehead.
While I agree with most critics that this attempt is a step in the right direction, by virtue of the fact that the attempt is being made at all, and in the sense that the church now desires to publicly and officially address these issues.
Nevertheless, I am absolutely shocked and horrified by some of the disingenuous content within the essays and I think it will backfire on the church with regard to those members who are not sheeple and who don’t check their brains at the door when entering the church and who actually have knowledge of the cursory facts.
Let me show you a few of the things that give me indigestion in the essays.
First let me observe that the essays read much more like content created by a PR department than a knowledgeable and authoritative prophet of God.
Here is a quote that alerts the informed reader that a big pile of BS is about to be served.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored amidst a highly contentious racial culture in which whites were afforded great privilege”
The above apologetic statement is of course, true, but should be completely irrelevant, and is meant to soften the view of readers about the past practices and doctrines of the LDS Church in general, and Brigham Young specifically. When a prophet of God is getting their marching orders from God, the culture of the time really doesn’t matter because God does not concern himself with being politically correct.
A true prophet doesn’t either when delivering a message from God.
As the “prophet” of the church that integrated the racial doctrines and practices into the church relative to blacks and the priesthood, the essay attempts to explain that Brigham was the poor victim of a racial culture and he was therefore understandably justified in the false racist policies that he implemented.
The problem with the supposition is that Joseph Smith was also raised in a “highly contentious racial culture”, yet he was unaffected by it and allowed all men of all races to enjoy priesthood privilege.
Therefore, the suggestion that Brigham Young understandably erred in this area because of strong cultural pressure, in my opinion, does not provide an acceptable excuse for the second president of the church and most of those that followed him. The first president of the church had already set the standard, according to revelation from God, in the midst of a “highly contentious racial culture”.
To imply that Brigham Young was simply a misguided product of the culture he lived in is ludicrous. He was living right there in Kirtland under the watch of Joseph Smith when Elijah Abel and other Blacks were ordained to the priesthood. He watched as Elijah Abel was called and ordained as a member of the elite 3rd quorum of the Seventy.
Who are we kidding?
Furthermore, Joseph Smith proclaimed that people are called to the priesthood by the gift of prophecy. Elijah Abel had not only the endorsement of Joseph Smith, but also of the Lord, by virtue of his ordination. If not, then the revelatory credibility of the foundation of the LDS restoration must be called into question.
The culture of the time is not the reason that Brigham Young created a discriminatory doctrine against Blacks. Brigham’s heart was apparently full of hate toward the Black Man. All you need to do is read the words of Brigham Young and it is evident that he despised the black man.
The issues was not simply a cultural issues. Brigham’s rejection of what Joseph had revealed about priesthood is the issue and Brigham Young’s status as a living prophet is the issue.
Brigham Young new full well that the Lord had not restricted the priesthood to the Blacks during the ministry of Joseph Smith.
The truth is that Brigham Young had a deep rooted issue with Blacks. He probably had these racial issues long before he joined the church. It is even possible that these issues had something to do with his decision to hold off on joining the church for two years after the gospel message was delivered to him.
The Blacks and the Priesthood issue has always been a doctrinal issue. If, in fact it was primarily a cultural issue during the ministry of Brigham Young, as the article suggests, then the validity of Brigham Young’s calling as the President of the Church and the level of inspiration he was laboring under is the real issue in question .
The truth is that Brigham Young was a loose cannon that rejected some of the foundational doctrines and practices established by Joseph Smith and divine revelation. He had been a Free Mason with some pretty strong racial prejudices long before he joined the church.
Albert Pike was also a prominent Freemason at the time. He is believed to have been “..influential in the early Ku Klux Klan, being named in 1905 as “the chief judicial officer” of the Klan… He was cited as the leader of the Arkansas Ku Klux Klan” as well.
I believe that racist Masons like Albert Pike probably had a very strong influence on Brigham Young. It cannot be denied that Brigham’s belief about race paralleled those of Pike and the Ku Klux Klan.
This is another essay that avoids the real issue and attempts to intoxicate the reader with a bunch of blue smoke.
To the credit of the church PR committee that put their stamp of approval on it, the article begins with this declaration:
That declaration is true, but very misleading, because the First Presidency of the church has not always taught what the Bible and Book of Mormon teach on the topic. For decades the church was teaching contrary to the word of God regarding marriage. The Church taught that a special form of Celestrial polygamy was the Lord’s standard for those desiring admittance in the highest kingdom of heaven.
Brigham Young must be turning over in his grave knowing that such a statement is being endorsed by those who have succeeded him. He prophesied that if the practice was ever denied, the church would be damned.
He declared countless times that the only way for a man to be exalted in the celestial kingdom was to have multiple wives sealed to him. During Brigham Young’s watch, polygamy was the supreme marital standard that was taught, not monogamy.
The article conveniently omits that very well known fact.
I could go on and on about these essays and the fact that they are a real insult to a persons intelligence, but I shall avoid the temptation.
Tesla and HAARP
I am a huge Tesla fan and came across the following presentation on how HAARP evolved from his research
The Bonus Army
For history buffs that are always looking to increase their knowledge of our country’s history, I present this little tid-bit
How does God really feel about Government?
I recently got the following comment from a reader:
I recently read a very good article I thought you might like. Here is the link: http://www.anti-state.com/redford/redford4.html
It shows from the Bible that Jesus was an “anarchist”. And it follows that His followers should be also.”
The article has some fantastic stuff in it that might cause some people to rethink the way they feel about government. The article seems to substantiate Verlin Anderson’s belief that Government is the Great and Abominable Church of the Devil.
One of the few things I disagree with in the article is the statement that God does not pick the leaders of nations. The book of Daniel actually teaches that God sets up all of the leaders of nations good and bad. I am of the opinion that God has set up our current President of the US because of our wickedness. Our current Government has been put in place as a judgement against this nation.
The Cultural History of the Book of Mormon
Several high profile LDS bloggers have blogged about Daymon Smith’s series on the Book of Mormon. Because of this and the fact that a few of my readers have encouraged me to read it, I have suffered myself to read the first two pdf’s that he is giving away free… and I mean SUFFER!
The read has been so painful thus far that I am not sure if I can continue. I can find absolutely nothing faith-promoting in it.
Shortly into the first pdf it became apparent to me that Daymon does not believe the revelations contained in the D&C. He omits modern revelation as having any part in the way the content in the Book of Mormon is interpreted from what I can ascertain.
A little further into the pdf I had my next major epiphany about Smith.
Daymon Smith does not believe the Book of Mormon is an inspired revelation from God about the literal ancient inhabitants of America. This, of course, is my opinion and interpretation based on what I have read so far.
One of the major suppositions of the thesis is that the incorrect interpretations of the content in the Book of Mormon that the early members of the restored church were infected with, ( and passed down to us Morons) had infiltrated the church through the likes of people like Sidney Rigdon and Parley Pratt who had been falsely indoctrinated by people like Alexander Campbell and earlier protestant reformers and “restorationists”. Hence the name a “cultural” history of the Book of Mormon.
Naturally, since I am a died in the wool believer in modern revelation, and since God puts his stamp of approval on Sidney Rigdon and Parley Pratt as the most able teachers of doctrine, who were both called by revelation to teach in the school of the prophets, I consider Daymon’s characterizations of Sidney Rigdon and Parley Pratt to be pure bullshit.
(Denver Snuffer seems to love Daymon’s work which makes perfect sense to me)
A very subliminal secondary supposition hiding in the background of the context of Daymon’s work is that the very content of the Book of Mormon itself, also originated from American religious culture , not from God’s inspired Book of Mormon prophets.
Now I may be completely wrong in my assessment. If I am, it certainly will not be the first time I have misjudged something prematurely. I invite and even welcome contrary views with regard to Daymon’s thesis of examples can be provided. I have asked people who are high on his work to explain to me why they love it so much and why it is so profound yet none have been able to respond.
My opinion is that Daymon is a disgruntled ex-employee of the LDS Church that has a vendetta.
I suspect that his “Book of Mammon” is pretty good and pretty eye-opening, based on the unique, up close and personal perspective that Daymon had working within the beast, but I think that his current attempt to use the Book of Mormon to further his agenda is unfortunate. At times one gets the impression that the Book of Mormon is just a footnote in a larger attempt to show forth his historical knowledge of religious history.
It seems to me that anti-Mormon tactics have reached a new high (or low as the case may be) by being administered from within the church. There are now a lot of anti-mormon bloggers and authors that claim membership in the church and by so doing, they are able to gain a greater LDS audience.
John Dehlin is a perfect example. He uses his membership in the church to great advantage in spreading doubt about the authenticity of the restoration movement. Nevertheless, I give credit to John Dehlin for having the integrity to publicly admit he does not believe. It is my understanding that Daymon Smith still claims some degree of belief in the Book of Mormon, even though I have yet to find any serious evidence in his writings.
This brings me to my next topic
“..I have commanded him that he shall Pretend to no Other Gift”
For those who can read the Daymon Smith material on the Book of Mormon and other similar stuff, and still retain some degree of belief in the Book of Mormon, I believe that the natural course many of them have taken or will take, is to reject modern revelation and virtually everything else that Joseph Smith did.
The writings of David Whitmer after he left the church provide a strong argument that leads down that same rabbit hole. I have already blogged about the beliefs of David Whitmer and the content in his “Address to believers in the Book of Mormon”.
It is becoming increasingly common to see fringe Internet bloggers that write exclusively about the Book of Mormon and seldom if ever address the significance of modern revelation. I believe many of them have lost faith in modern revelation.
Many years ago I came upon a website with a very compelling doctrinal narrative that began to shake my own foundation regarding the extent of the calling of Joseph Smith because the logic and supporting scripture was do compelling.
The foundational premise of the site was based on the following passage from the Book of Commandments:
“…and he [Joseph Smith, Jr.] has a gift to translate the book and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift.”
When the Doctrine and Covenants was published two years later, the above verse was altered in a way that justifiably causes pause to many people. It was changed to allow Joseph’s ministry to take on a broader scope that would include translating the Bible, recieving a canon of scripture through personal revelation, restoring the law of the gospel, restoring priesthood, re-stablishing the church, building a temple, etc.
The website I came upon back in the day, provided an extensive diatribe that was built upon the premise suggested by the above verse in the Book of Commandments
I am going to provide the link to that website but I want to first WARN my readers that you could loose you testimony of anything Joseph did besides translate the Book of Mormon if you visit the site and if you are not well grounded deeply in the four standard works.
This onewhoiswatching blogsite is dedicated to studying deep issues that can be faith promoting if the reader has the necessary depth of doctrinal understanding and scriptural knowledge, HOWEVER, it can be faith-destroying for those that should stay in shallow waters.
Frankly, if it was not for the prophecies in the Old Testament that I discovered while researching the information contained in the Atonement Statute, which led me to the Biblical prophetic profile of who Joseph Smith really is, what is ministry was to be composed of, and what was to happen during his first commission, I very possibly would have bought into the scenario offered on that site. I spent quite some time debating the owner of the site over these issues.
Ok, after spending a long time trying to find the site, I realized that it must have been taken down.
I don’t know why the author of the site took the website down. I would like to think that he had an epiphany that he was wrong in his conclusions, but I was not born yesterday.
Anyway… there is an amazing service called the “internet archive waybackmachine” that can provide a saved version of defunct webpages.
Here is the link to the webpage that claims Joseph Smith was never commissioned to do anything except translate the Book of Mormon.
Again, unless you have a sure foundation in scripture, the site can be dangerous to your understanding of Joseph Smith’s mission.
Ok now. If you have made it to the end of this post, you’re reward is the link to the next installment of the current series.
It has to do with Joseph Smith’s prophetic letter to N. C. Saxton informing him and the world, that the Gentiles had already broken the everlasting covenant and were about to do it again, causing the heavens to be sealed shut until the Marvelous Work begins.
BTW some of the links contained in the pdf to the Saxton letter on the Joseph Smith Papers site have mysteriously been changed since I last addressed the topic.. you may need to do a key word search if you want to read the entire content being reference.