estradling75

New Church History

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16 minutes ago, estradling75 said:

Anyone else looking forward to the new volumes of Church History coming out on Sept 4?

 

Somewhat.  I read the chapters available on the LDS Library app.  It’s engaging and overall well done, but is most assuredly “faith-promoting”—not a bad thing per se; but by ignoring the existence of alternate versions of events (e.g. Joseph Smith’s 1826 trial and Anthon’s account of his meeting with Harris) its usefulness as an “inoculation” tool leaves some things to be desired.  This book seems likely to be an improvement, but probably not the definitive, academically-rigorous-yet-popularly-readable Church-produced history I’ve been hoping for (then again, I may well be hoping for too much). 

By the way, the LDS Church History channel on YouTube has also been churning out a lot of great content lately. 

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So, now that the full text is available I see the following included in the “notes on sources” section:

To maintain the readability of the narrative, the volume rarely addresses challenges in or to the historical record in the text itself. Rather, it relegates such source-based discussions to topical essays on saints.lds.org. Readers are encouraged to consult these essays as they study Church history.

Looking at the website, it appears they’ve set up a whole list of web-based “topics” essays that dive deeper into some of these issues.  (Not sure to what degree these overlap with the “Gospel Topics” essays that have been coming out over the last few years.)

This assuages a lot of my concerns.

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36 minutes ago, myrmidon said:

why I have not heard or been taught. 

https://www.lds.org/topics/essays?lang=eng

Because you didn't click on the link until just now?  I learned this stuff in the '90's, back when I started paying attention.

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15 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

Because you didn't click on the link until just now?  I learned this stuff in the '90's, back when I started paying attention.

I also learned this all back in the 90's, but other people's milage and learning does vary, and we shouldn't remotely look down on someone for learning now.  Rather than asking "well how come I/you/whoever didn't know something until now", the far better question is "now that you've been presented with this information, what do you do with it next?"

Edited by Jane_Doe

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1 hour ago, Jane_Doe said:

I also learned this all back in the 90's, but other people's milage and learning does vary, and we shouldn't remotely look down on someone for learning now.  Rather than asking "well how come I/you/whoever didn't know something until now", the far better question is "now that you've been presented with this information, what do you do with it next?"

True as far as it goes. The problem is that when people ask, "Why didn't I know about this?", they are implicitly blaming someone else -- in this case, the Church -- for their ignorance. That's not how it should be.

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2 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

Because you didn't click on the link until just now?  I learned this stuff in the '90's, back when I started paying attention.

The essays were posted on the internet in the 90s? 

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1 hour ago, Vort said:

True as far as it goes. The problem is that when people ask, "Why didn't I know about this?", they are implicitly blaming someone else -- in this case, the Church -- for their ignorance. That's not how it should be.

Why was I not taught in Sunday School (or ever) JS had multiple wives who were currently married to other living men? Since I was not taught this and no one else was to my knowledge, how was I supposed to know where to find it out and why would I go look for alternative information? Were we not told what books to get our information from? Going out for more information implies I do not trust the church to tell me what I need to know. 

Why was I not ever taught as a youth JS used a peep stone instead of the Urim and Thumim to translate the BOM, much less shown art work which depicts that? 

So yes it is the churches fault I didnt know these things. They are who taught me what I do know and some of it is now revealed to be very different than what all of us were taught. I guess it started being my fault all the way back when I was in Primary.

Of course it is easy to blame the membership for not knowing some things, but who is to blame for what we do know which may or may not be true? Our knowledge comes from what is taught to us. 

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1 hour ago, myrmidon said:

The essays were posted on the internet in the 90s? 

The material was actually available well before then.  I just first read it in the 90's as that's when I was old enough to read.

1 hour ago, myrmidon said:

Why was I not taught in Sunday School (or ever) JS had multiple wives who were currently married to other living men? Since I was not taught this and no one else was to my knowledge, how was I supposed to know where to find it out and why would I go look for alternative information? Were we not told what books to get our information from? Going out for more information implies I do not trust the church to tell me what I need to know. 

Why was I not ever taught as a youth JS used a peep stone instead of the Urim and Thumim to translate the BOM, much less shown art work which depicts that? 

So yes it is the churches fault I didnt know these things. They are who taught me what I do know and some of it is now revealed to be very different than what all of us were taught. I guess it started being my fault all the way back when I was in Primary.

Of course it is easy to blame the membership for not knowing some things, but who is to blame for what we do know which may or may not be true? Our knowledge comes from what is taught to us. 

As I said earlier, people's milage varies.

Here's my story: starting in primary I read all the standard works cover to cover, then moving on to history books, other sermons, and theological essays.  Sunday School is only 1 hour of 168 a week and I wasn't ever going to limit my education to just 0.6% of the time.  I wanted to know things and so I learned-- studying and praying as we are instructed to do again and again.    For me, this was me owning my relationship with God.

 

 

Now, also as I said earlier, when are person learns things doesn't matter as much as *what* a person does once they learn them.  For me, I continue to pray and walk with God, trying to help folks and showing charity along the way.  

How about you, @myriam67?  If you're interested in more history, we can happily provide you links of things (the internet has made access very easy, as has the Church's push in that direction).  If history isn't particularly your thing, that's cool too, as there are many many ways to be a pupil of Christ 168 hours a week.  

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9 hours ago, myrmidon said:

Why was I not taught in Sunday School (or ever) JS had multiple wives who were currently married to other living men? Since I was not taught this and no one else was to my knowledge, how was I supposed to know where to find it out and why would I go look for alternative information? Were we not told what books to get our information from? Going out for more information implies I do not trust the church to tell me what I need to know.  

Why was I not ever taught as a youth JS used a peep stone instead of the Urim and Thumim to translate the BOM, much less shown art work which depicts that? 

So yes it is the churches fault I didnt know these things. They are who taught me what I do know and some of it is now revealed to be very different than what all of us were taught. I guess it started being my fault all the way back when I was in Primary.

Of course it is easy to blame the membership for not knowing some things, but who is to blame for what we do know which may or may not be true? Our knowledge comes from what is taught to us.  

Please bear with me.  You may not like the answer I'm about to give - especially at first - but if embraced, the concept will give you power beyond imagining (if you so choose).

The Church's job is to teach you the gospel of Jesus Christ and help you to live it.  Who Joseph Smith was sealed to (which may or may not be what you think of when you think "wife" or "marriage" - by the way) is not a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  (In my opinion, that's Joseph Smith's and the other people involved's business, not mine.  If something was wrong, I trust the Lord to set it right without my help.)  Every one of the things you listed is in the same category of "not the gospel of Jesus Christ".

So whose fault is it that you were content to learn only what you were taught at church?  It may or may not be yours - I don't have nearly enough information to make that determination.  (It is yours from this point forward because multiple witnesses - Jane and myself - and indirectly, Vort - are now explaining this to you.)  I submit it was whoever raised you to be content with learning only what a teacher (themselves or others) forced on you, rather than to be hungry to go and learn on your own.  I submit it was the fault of Frederick the Great and all the people who embraced the "Prussian education" system he conceived (read brainwashing, oppressing system designed to create mindless citizens, assembly line workers, and cubicle dwellers; and to ensure the brilliant are stifled).  I submit it was your K-12 (or equivalent, if not in the US) teachers who were enforcing that Prussian system rather than teaching you to learn and to be curious and inquisitive and a wise, capable human (that doesn't mean you're not a wise, capable human - I wouldn't know - it means they most likely made little or no effort to turn you into one - most likely, they didn't have the option if they wanted to keep their jobs).

So, the question isn't why didn't someone force you to learn this, the question is whether you are going to dwell on that, or leave that in the past and become the master of your own learning.  If that's what you want, I suggest that studying "Be 100 Percent Responsible" by Lynn G. Robbins (brutal as it is), is an excellent place to start.  IMO, the principles therein are the difference between success and not-success in business, personal, spiritual, civic, and every other pursuit.  Overcoming the "defaults" ingrained into us by being told everything we had to do as children, youth, students, employees is (or at least can be) a huge challenge.  But as Story #1 in that talk demonstrates, doing so is more than worth the effort, and at some point, if you want celestial glory, it will be necessary.

Edited by zil

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9 hours ago, myrmidon said:

So yes it is the churches fault I didnt know these things.

So, you're encountering things you didn't know for the first time.  And it's causing you some struggles.  I get that.  May I suggest that looking for someone to blame for these struggles is a waste of time?  It's sort of side-stepping the main thing - you're struggling with this new knowledge. 

No, the essays weren't available in the '90's.  But the info was.  Computers and the internet started bringing easy access to everything in the mid-90's.  But before then, you could still find them.  I remember these books were wildly popular, I think churchwide, and you couldn't swing a dead cat in sacrament meeting without hitting five people urging me to go read them.

image.thumb.png.15ea927213f58cde14607e21360c8dd3.png

Yes, we heard about polygamy in these books. 

Other sources, for me, were various Gospel Library CDs, Antimormon internet stuff and the responses from the faithful, and that one guy I worked with at my college job that had widely read church history. 

Anyway, I urge you to spend your efforts learning and facing these new things.  Or you can spend your time blaming others for not telling you sooner.  Your choice.

Edited by NeuroTypical

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4 hours ago, zil said:

all the people who embraced the "Prussian education" system he conceived (read brainwashing, oppressing system designed to create mindless citizens, assembly line workers, and cubicle dwellers; and to ensure the brilliant are stifled). 

It's a HARD habit to break people out of.  We try so hard at the university I work at, but the student kick and scream in resistance.  

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13 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

It's a HARD habit to break people out of.

And an easy one to mold most people into - it's safe, easy, normal.  Everyone's doing it.  Put in your hours and get your check.  It's the only option.  All the negatives about starting your own business are discouraging enough, but even that is almost always run in basically the normal rut of following someone else's rules and thinking someone else's way.

And if you want to be an artist, everyone in the world is ready to beat that out of you without first bothering to find out whether you have the capacity to be Beethoven, Michelangelo, or DaVinci.

Yeah, the more I learn about that system and the previous system, the more I hate Mr. Frederick the not-so-great-after-all.

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47 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

It's a HARD habit to break people out of.  We try so hard at the university I work at, but the student kick and scream in resistance.  

Your uni must be a rarity.  Unis these days kick you out screaming if you think outside of their box.

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13 hours ago, myrmidon said:

The essays were posted on the internet in the 90s? 

You must be a millennial.  :D

Yes... there was such a thing as Information before the Information Highway.  Even the dark ages failed in stifling it.  In the 90's, we even thought these were getting old school!

6a00d8341c464853ef0192acb19f25970d-800wi

Edited by anatess2

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31 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

Your uni must be a rarity.  Unis these days kick you out screaming if you think outside of their box.

Oh we struggle to get students to THINK.  Let alone thinking nor out of a box.  Majority of the students just want me to hand them a textbook and say "memorize pages 5-9, 22, 27, 31" and then be done.  But that's pretty dang useless.  They hate it when I say "no you're not getting a to-memorize list and I'm not stand up here in lecture you.  Instead, get in groups, discuss, and think about things".

Edited by Jane_Doe

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15 hours ago, zil said:

Please bear with me.  You may not like the answer I'm about to give - especially at first - but if embraced, the concept will give you power beyond imagining (if you so choose).

The Church's job is to teach you the gospel of Jesus Christ and help you to live it.  Who Joseph Smith was sealed to (which may or may not be what you think of when you think "wife" or "marriage" - by the way) is not a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  (In my opinion, that's Joseph Smith's and the other people involved's business, not mine.  If something was wrong, I trust the Lord to set it right without my help.)  Every one of the things you listed is in the same category of "not the gospel of Jesus Christ".

JS Wives may not be a doctrinal issue, but why not use his obedience and detail his participation in it as a fait-promoting example? Instead, the membership at large is not even told of the majority of the details.

So whose fault is it that you were content to learn only what you were taught at church?  It may or may not be yours - I don't have nearly enough information to make that determination.  (It is yours from this point forward because multiple witnesses - Jane and myself - and indirectly, Vort - are now explaining this to you.)  I submit it was whoever raised you to be content with learning only what a teacher (themselves or others) forced on you, rather than to be hungry to go and learn on your own.  I submit it was the fault of Frederick the Great and all the people who embraced the "Prussian education" system he conceived (read brainwashing, oppressing system designed to create mindless citizens, assembly line workers, and cubicle dwellers; and to ensure the brilliant are stifled).  I submit it was your K-12 (or equivalent, if not in the US) teachers who were enforcing that Prussian system rather than teaching you to learn and to be curious and inquisitive and a wise, capable human (that doesn't mean you're not a wise, capable human - I wouldn't know - it means they most likely made little or no effort to turn you into one - most likely, they didn't have the option if they wanted to keep their jobs).

I was raised by parents who are not only life long LDS, they are direct polygamous descendants on both sides, very active, very respected, very well -read and my Father held very high local church callings for over 50 years. He is retired now. I was raised not to ever question the leaders or our teachings- ever. I was raised that the standard works and conference talks were all we needed to know. There is even an New Era article (1974) specifying exactly what sources to use- Conference talks and the standard works.

In respects to whatever mode I learn with, the church is very specific about how we are taught when I was growing up in the 70s and early 80s. This material which is in the Essays was not taught. Dr Richard Bushman backs this up with commentary to the NYT stating exactly that. He was also captured on video stating the dominant church narrative is not true. He later explained that what is taught is very different than the true happenings. He even went as far as to say the church should reform how it teaches its history. He is in good standing in the church btw.

So, the question isn't why didn't someone force you to learn this, the question is whether you are going to dwell on that, or leave that in the past and become the master of your own learning.  If that's what you want, I suggest that studying "Be 100 Percent Responsible" by Lynn G. Robbins (brutal as it is), is an excellent place to start.  IMO, the principles therein are the difference between success and not-success in business, personal, spiritual, civic, and every other pursuit.  Overcoming the "defaults" ingrained into us by being told everything we had to do as children, youth, students, employees is (or at least can be) a huge challenge.  But as Story #1 in that talk demonstrates, doing so is more than worth the effort, and at some point, if you want celestial glory, it will be necessary.

I was never interested in much because I figured I was taught all I need to know. Now that I read a couple of essays and have found that I was taught many half truths and had much information concealed from me (us as members at large) I wonder why we were not told some of this. I actually do not wonder why. Some of it is obviously a hot mess or just definitely not what we were taught. 

 

 

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11 hours ago, anatess2 said:

You must be a millennial.  :D

Yes... there was such a thing as Information before the Information Highway.  Even the dark ages failed in stifling it.  In the 90's, we even thought these were getting old school!

6a00d8341c464853ef0192acb19f25970d-800wi

 

 

Definitely not a millennial. I had a car with a stereo that took these awesome tapes! And the one being held by random dude's hand- yea I owned that one. Now it is in ITune format.

 

8-track-tapes-of-70s-rock.jpg

 

Edited by myrmidon

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15 hours ago, Vort said:

I rest my case.

Why didnt they just teach it? How hard is it to say, "JS translated the Gold Plated by placing a seer stone in a hat and sticking his face in it to block out the light... instead of using the description we have all been taught?

Why when teaching about polygamy is it so hard to say, "JS himself was very obedient to this commandment and took nearly 40 wives. Some were already married to other living men, some who were older and even one who was 14 years old.?" Instead we get told something very different. 

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9 hours ago, myrmidon said:

 

A couple of observations:

—Regrding why Smith’s polygamous/polyandrous relationships (or other historical “surprises”) weren’t part of official LDS pedagogy:  The question implicitly assumes that “the Church” has known about these events all along, and deliberately concealed them.  That isn’t necessarily the case, though.  Smith’s marriages were of necessity a closely held secret during his lifetime, and the Church had bigger fish to fry over the ensuing decades.  It wasn’t until the 1880s and 1890s that the Church got around to making a serious effort to track down Smith’s wives.  Even then, much of the Church’s information was fragmentary and/or ambiguous; and there were also difficulties caused by the facts that a) many of the women (and/or their children) were still alive and would have objected to their lives being scrutinized in this way, and b) in polite society of the era, one  just didn’t talk lightly about someone else’s sexual practices.  By the time we get into the 1920s and 1930s, I believe the bulk of the LDS leadership simply didn’t know that Smith had engaged in ostensibly-polyandrous marriages; and any niggling rumors/accusations that may have hit their radar blended easily into the white noise of broader anti-Mormon screeds generally.  The LDS Church’s historical archives holdings were only thoroughly cataloged in the 1980s, and it’s only in the last 5-10 years that Brian Hales has really examined the record (including materials not in the Church's possession) and come up with what I think is the closest paradigm to understanding the bulk of the polyandrous marriages, which is: 

a) 1831:  Joseph learns the doctrine  of plural marriage while engaged in the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible.  

b) 1834-ish (my memory could be off):  Joseph marries Fanny Alger, Emma finds out and goes postal, Joseph resists further attempts to implement plural marriage for the rest of the decade.

b) 1842-ish - Joseph is told to start practicing plural marriage.  Trying to avoid Emma’s wrath, he embarks upon a series of thoroughly platonic “eternity-only” sealings to women married to non-members.

c) 1843 - Joseph is warned by an angel (complete with flaming sword) that plural marriages are supposed to be *marriages* in every sense of the word, that his prior dealings are insufficient, and that if he doesn’t get with the program he will be removed from his place.  New plural wives now tend to be single women in their twenties and (usually) late teens, with the odd sealing to a married woman who had been through a so-called “frontier-divorce”.  If we believe researcher Meg Stout, Joseph may also have been sealed to a couple of women who were victims of John Bennett’s sex ring during this period; as a means of allowing the women to somehow save face theologically and/or bring them under Smith’s spiritual protection.

—Regarding the age of Smith’s wives:  Helen Mar Kimball’s own account of her relationship with a Smith was pretty standard Mormon fare in the late 1800s and was published several times in a church periodicals.  Her age at the time of the marriage wasn’t seen as scandalous per se given prevailing norms, and Kimball was known to be such a formidable battle axe of a woman that the idea of her as an abashed pawn of Smith’s needed no refutation to anyone who knew her.  (One of Kimball’s children would grow up to be the apostle Orson F. Whitney, who was one of two LDS Apostles who were spiritually sealed to Joseph Smith by virtue of their mothers having been plural wives of his.). The other allegedly 14-year-old wife was Nancy Winchester, and even today historians have no primary sources about that relationship at all (not even a sealing date) except for a list of wives of Smith’s that Eliza Snow drew up forty years after Smith’s death. 

—The answer to your question of Why when teaching about polygamy is it so hard to say, ‘JS himself was very obedient to this commandment and took nearly 40 wives. Some were already married to other living men, some who were older and even one who was 14 years old.?’  Instead we get told something very different” is, that your statement doesn’t tell the whole story either.  It naturally creates more questions that beg for answers, and suddenly a 40-minute lesson that’s supposed to be about how to honor our marital covenants gets bogged down in a 15 minute dissection of historical minutae just to reaffirm the facts that a) there’s an awful lot we just don’t know; and b) in spite of anti-Mormon propaganda and evolving social mores, the weight of the evidence suggests that Joseph Smith really was a good guy.  

As for your assertion that “we get told something very different”—what “different thing” do we get told?  I strongly doubt anyone ever told you Smith was a monogamist.  I recognize that some of these things are surprising to you; but we shouldn’t let our feelings lead us into overwrought rhetoric through which we end up inadvertently creating alternate realities that aren’t supported in fact.  Over time, humans have a knack for buying into the questionable realities they have built up for themselves; and that can lead to some really poor life choices.

—Similarly, on the seer stone:  We still aren’t 100% sure how much the Nephites interpreters versus the Chase stone were used in the translation process; so the “hat” narrative may well turn out to be as incomplete as the “traditional” one.  But as I pointed out in this forum nine years ago, the seer stone itself was mentioned in Church publications in 1977, 1979. 1987, 1987, 1988, 1993, 1994, and 1997.  How often does the Church need to tell us about something before we’re willing to absolve the Church of the accusation of fraudulent nondisclosure?

—Regarding the supposed LDS teaching of the 1970s that no research beyond the Standard Works and conference talks was necessary or appropriate:  I can’t speak as to what your own parents said or did; but if your account is accurate, it sounds like they grossly misunderstood Brother Jarman’s 1974 New Era article.  His emphasis on scripture and conference talks is quite specifically geared towards the goal of developing faith in Christ, and he roundly endorses other disciplines of learning generally.  

—Bushman’s remarks don’t point to a conspiracy of silence.  Relative to assertions like yours that “He later explained that what is taught is very different than the true happenings“, Bushman reiterated to Dan Peterson that “Many think they were deceived and the church was lying. That is not a fair judgment in my opinion.  The whole church, from top to bottom, has had to adjust to the findings of our historians.  We are all having to reconstruct.   In my opinion, nothing in the new material overturns the basic thrust of the story.”  [Emphasis added.]

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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