Hi, I'm Shawn Matheson
48-years "fully invested" and now liberated into the yogas of knowledge and meditative practice
* Provo-raised (80s) -- "World was our campus" paradigm (taught that we have radio, TV, satellites so God can spread his word from SLC!)
* Kicked off my mission for investing in the Polish stock market! (actually I continued to serve in Chicago Polish-speaking, but I was home for 30-days inbetween, serving in my home town of Provo --- that was a trip!)
* Married my beautiful wife in AF temple in 1999
* I resonate with Community of Christ as a restoration branch, they've evolved nicely -- recognizing all we can learn from our past and becoming a socially-forward church
* I've been expanding spiritually with meditation, tai chi, and loving amazing books and content: Tao, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Sufi, Rumi, and contemporaries like Allen Watts, Sri Preethaji, Abraham Hicks, etc. Knowledge and Practice (meditation) have changed my worldview/life experience
* I'm appreciative for my Mormon past, it was a tremendous lesson module and good for me in many ways. "Radical Forgiveness" (empathy) is a principle taught in "Unfuckwithable" and has really helped me, combined with not fighting mentally (Tao, go with the flow) and meditation (absorbing into all emotion). It's taken me some time to come to a point of absorbing and being one with the past in gratitude. Life is meant for contrast and experience.
* I'm a note taker and I have a TON of stuff by topic, I'm happy to share, just Messenger or LI w/me
* I welcome collaborative conversation!
Why I left More answers about 'Why I left' the mormon church
1. Historical: it's really amazing what you find
2. Theological/Doctrinal: as I've learned from other traditions, I see the narrowness of not seeking
3. Social: God loves/blesses all equally (not one group/religion more)
4. Realized my membership was a personal statement of what I morally support and reflect, and I resigned in Nov of 2021. President Holland's Aug, '21 speech at BYU, calling on BYU faculty to support the church's LGBTQ policy with "musket fire" (he used the phrase 7x), was my final realization of disparity in doctrinal and social alignment.
ps a quick and entertaining shortcut/hack to Mormon deconstruction is missedinsunday.com/
Questions about Mormons My Answers to Questions about Mormonism
Have you had any profound spiritual moments in your life? See more answers about 'Have you had any profound spiritual moments in your life?'
Yes, before and after Mormonism. My friends of all faiths have had spiritual experiences in their walks. God loves us all equally, we call God by different names and have different traditions.
By releasing my views that spiritual experiences are only "still and small" and by expanding my spiritual practices, I've better appreciated how diverse and personal spiritual experiences are! I am a perpetual student, and I appreciate wide horizons.
Has your struggle improved since you left? See more answers about 'Has your struggle improved since you left?'
It takes time to heal, but suffering is only what we hold onto.
Meditation has taught me to actually sit with, and be one with, all emotions. I no longer try and push things away. Life is contrast, that's how we learn.
I've also learned radical forgiveness, i.e. true empathy. I've learned to actually be grateful for the strong-sauce organized religion I experienced, as it was a good thing for me both from a structural standpoint when I was younger, and it's taught me the massive dangers of ignoring problems common to all manmade organizations. There is so much to learn from the nuance (but it's easier not to see).
Do you consider yourself a Christian? See more answers about 'Do you consider yourself a Christian?'
Yes, it is my faith tradition - -and I learn expansively, ecumenically, and beautifully from all good sources. It's been really helpful for me to learn about the historical Jesus of Nazareth, the 1st century Jesus Movement, and the later Christology movement.
What do you believe is the origin of the Book of Mormon? See more answers about 'What do you believe is the origin of the Book of Mormon?'
1) the BOM mentions forged metal (coins, swords, armor, nails, strappings), yet the Europeans brought metallurgy to the Americas., Metal does not disappear, there are multiple museums and storage rooms full of contemporarily-same Persian, Asian, European, African metal artifacts. And yet, there are no native coins, swords, armor, metal strappings, nails, etc. found in any artifacts in the Americans. Metal does not just disappear. The Aztecs eg had gold but it was used for jewelry, they had other means of currency. Metal does not disappear.
2) Meso-American (Aztec, Olmec) cultures were not Judaic or Christian, nor were South American (Incan), nor were North American cultures (Hopewell, etc.). Judaic/Christian artifacts and remnants of such large-scale societies described by JS in the BOM would exist, but it's clear these were not such religious societies. Smithsonian, our nations leading scientific (oops, 4-letter word :) institution, has made written statements that there is no archeological evidence for the societies described in the BOM in the Americas. You will find 0 people in the scientific community (outside of BYU/LDS to support the BOM depictions). The church has smartly backed away from BOM archeological claims in its Gospel Topics Essay. In Nov, 2021 Pres Nelson rightly said, "The BOM should not be read as a historical document, but as a spiritual document."
3) there are no mega structures cities and surviving stone walls in North America, although there in Meso-America and South America -- but they were clearly not Judeo-Christian societies, nor do the cities described in the BOM match, i.e. large city, fortress walls (like those found in Persia, the middle east and Europe). Cities across an entire area don't just disappear in a cataclysmic event, e.g. Pompay was under volcanic ash and has been excavated, old Alexandria and other coastline cities slipped into the sea and lakes and one can scuba dives and can see those stone walls.
4) Columbus/Europeans brought horses to the America. There are zero pre-Columbian horse bones found in the Americas, nor are there any elephants bones every found (only wooly mammoths, way north and way prior-period from Nephites/Lamanites). We still have dinosaur bones from millions of years ago despite the catastrophic event that took them out (bones don't just disappear). If horses and elephants were on this continent, we'd have their bones.
5) the BOM talks about wheat, but that was also brought by the Europeans. The BOM does not talk about corn or maize, which were stables of the Meso and North American diets.
6) the BOM talks about major roads, and those don't exist archeologically.
7) DNA evidence does not support the claim that people native to the Americas have middle eastern decent. Recognizing this, the LDS church in the last 10-years modified the BOM title page from American Indians being "direct descendants of Lamanites" to "among the descendants." the LDS church also published a Gospel Topics Essay on this in the early 10's, saying the origins may never be known (quite a shift from what was taught prior, but smartly adapting to the lack of evidence, now that science has progressed).
8) Anachronisms (things written in a CE, ascribed to a prior): when the KJV scholars did their translation in 1620 they added italics for non-matching words. The BOM manuscript (and current editions still) have those exact italics (JS or OC copied the 1620 KJV exactly). Did ancient Jewish authors/rabbis who wrote Isaiah ("on the Plates of Brass, which was not customary, they wrote on scrolls) thousands of years ago, add italics in ancient Hebrew?
9) Many sources of contemporary books and newspapers were available to JS and HS, and many similarities exist in the stories in the BOM. Contemporary books that Hyrum would have had access to and studied (religion classes were taught at Dartmouth and there was a famous couple of professors there) include: View of Hebrews, Spaulding Manuscript (the original, not the revised, written in VT), the KJV Bible (replicated stories and verses, Isaiah was copied directly from 1620s KJV, italics as all), Emanuel Swedenborg's "Heaven and Hell" (he had a church in Eastern PA, there are still followers there), Thomas Dick's "Future State," The Healing of Nations, The First Book of Napolean, The Chronicles of Eri, the Book of Nullification, The Late Great War, etc.
Much of the LDS doctrine is already found in these contemporary 1700s/early 1800s books, such as pre-existence (Swedenborg taught this), Native Americans as House of Israel (common speculation of the time, Spaulding Manuscript), a former white race killed off by the Native Americans (View of Hebrews, common speculation), three degrees of glory (taught in Sydney Rigdon's Campbellite Restoration tradition, he was a preacher of that denomination) (that doctrine is not in the BOM, b/c SR introduced it to JS in 1831 or later. Native American origins were topics being commonly speculated upon and were written about even by the Governor of NY and various newspapers of Joseph's time.
A lot of LDS doctrine that members believe is unique to the LDS tradition, was not novel. Recall that SR was a professional minister in Cleveland of the American Restoration Movement, aka Stone-Campbell movement (present day Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ. You can see Stone-Campbell doctrines (restored priesthood, a higher priesthood, etc.) in LDS doctrine. It was JS and OC in BOM 1829 publishing time (Oliver was from the same town as View of Hebrews author and attended his congregation), but by 1835 JS was well established in Kirtland with really advanced theologians such as Sydney Rigdon, and that's when the first bulk of "modern" doctrine came about (second period being Nauvoo, which is where Joseph started preaching privately about Theocratic Kingdom of God on Earth, polygamy, becoming a God, etc.). Joseph's stretching stuff (man can become a God, God was once a human, temple endowments, celestial marriage/polygamy) was in the Nauvoo period (King Follett Discourses, Council of 50 minutes). Ironically, the LDS church has discontinued (polygamy), denied (that men can become Gods, see comments made by apostles in 2022 about getting a planet), or shied away from much of Joseph's later teaching. Recall that Joseph took 24 wives in 24 months in Nauvoo, and he got up to 35-38, i.e. he wasn't the same when he came out of Liberty -- and hell he raised an army/legion. His later speculations are now shied away from, and his earlier teachings (higher priesthood, 3 degrees of glory, etc. are not unique).
The Kirtland period was a beautiful amalgamation of collected (Sydney, Oliver, and Hyrum influences) and composed ("revelation") material. I do believe Joseph heavily borrowed from ideas and content of the time, but I also believe he was inspired (although he would claim his works were not what they were, i.e. evidence is so clear now that the BOM is not historical, nor is the BoA written when he said it was 5k years ago by Abraham, and he was duped on the Kinderhook plates trap).
Also sadly for Joseph, he derailed himself morally in his later years with polygamy. We can learn from ALL of Joseph's experiences if we honestly look at his history, and like anyone he is nuanced.
10) the "gold plates" that disappeared is a very apologetic and convenient claim, Joseph saying he had them, for realzies he had them just pray about it, God took them away to test your faith and stuff -- that is quite the claim. Occam's Razor is a better place to start. see Book of Abraham section, the history of that papya is quite interesting and you see the pattern with Joseph, claiming things were ancient. President Nelson's 2021 capitulating words, and the church's early 10s Gospel Topics Essay, go to a place that 10 years prior would have been considered "anti-Mormon," i.e. the president and church itself now quietly (it's hard to find that essay, you have to search in the search bar of the church's site) acknowledges the lack of archeological evidence for the BoM and BoA.
10) speaking of plates, research Kinderhook plates, a hoax set for JS by local farmers which he fell for (they created plates and gave them to him to translate, he attributed them to be of Jaredite timeframe and a T and S article was published showing a drawing of them and saying that Joseph would have them translated and available for sale by Spring). The LDS church has those Kinderhook plates in their possession; they had them on display until the early 1980s (I saw them in the museum west of the tabernacle), and they stopped displaying them when scientific analysis showed them to be (as the farmer's who created and laid them claimed) of 1800s origin. That same museum used to display Indian relics as well, suggesting that all American Indians and Aztec/Olmecs and Polynesians were of "Lamanite" origin. The Church has a good Gospel Topics Essay on Race, and they now no longer make that claim. I respect the church for their essays -- and they don't promote them in Sunday reading, so the myths live on and people can be defensive, until they hear or read what the church says -- and then turn on a dime from that external direction.
11) the witnesses were unreliable:
a) the witnesses were either Smiths (dad, brothers), Whitmers (or relatives of like Oliver Cowdery, who married in), or Martin Harris. Relationship of the witness to the person is key to credibility in any investigation or proceeding and is a sound measure of evidence.
b) many were unreliable characters, e.g. read what BY and JS aid about Martin Harris. Harris joined five churches before Mormonism, his wife said he was trying to profit from it, he said he saw God as a deer in the forest, he said he had a Godly creature on his chest whom only he could see, and like most of the other witnesses he later witnessed to the ancient authenticity of the Voree plates of James Strang, who led a group of disaffected Mormons to MI, after the schism in Nauvoo 1844.
c) many of the BOM plates witnesses went on to be signed witnesses for plates "found" (created) by James Strang, which he called the "Voree" plates. Strang was a man who claimed he had a letter from JS to make him the successor (he, Sydney and Brigham were the men there on 8/8/1844 vying to be the successor). Many people followed him to MI (an island in Lake MI), and many of the same BOM witnesses signed the same-type of worded witness statement of the Voree plates, that they appeared to be of ancient origin with ancient characters, etc. Those plates survive and are scientifically shown to be of 19th century origin. Credibility of witnesses is key in establishing truth.
d) all witnesses later indicated they "saw and felt" the plates with their "spiritual eyes" (in a vision), and Matin Harris gave a very specific account that he was having difficulty picturing them and so Joseph had to take him outside, into the woods away, and help him to pray so he could see with his spiritual eyes. the "hefting" were metallic plates under a towel, and once in a wooden box. The "feeling of the plates" (Emma, while the plates were on the kitchen table) was under a towel. It's very likely that Joseph had plates (metallic plates would be easy to create).
e) all the witnesses either left the church or were excommunicated. David Whitmer in 1838, like Oliver Cowdery, had stated concerns about Joseph's morality (alleged affair with Fanny Alger, which the LDS church now claims was his first wife). Whitmer was also stated concerns about Joseph's late introduction of the first vision story, of its changing nature, and of changing doctrine. I think many people in Kirtland were disillusioned by what they likely perceived as Joseph's greed with the banking scandal. Whitmer was excommunicated for failure to observe the word of wisdom (laughable for its time, JS had a bar in his Nauvoo Mansion home), and for speaking ill of the Lord's anointed (for stating concern about Joseph's affair with Fanny).
f) Joseph tried to profit from the BOM, D and C records how he sent men (three) to Toronto to sell the copyright of the book (all printing rights would be given up). When the Nauvoo House cornerstone was laid Joseph placed the original manuscript (!) into the cornerstone as a time capsule (sadly, poorly sealed and badly water damaged when later recovered). Joseph was asked why and he is recorded as saying "That book has caused me enough trouble."
12) if the BOM "Is the most perfect book ever made," why the archeological and literary issues, why the changes (significant content changes such as "white and delightsome" changed to "fair and delightsome"), and why are important doctrinal issues not in the BOM which Joseph later added to D&C (God as three personages, living people doing baptisms for dead people, living people participating in covenant endowments made with Masonic-like temple rites, for themselves and for dead people, higher priesthood, etc.). The answer to these questions is, Joseph wrote the book in 1829, with the doctrinal views he had at the time. Meeting SR later in 1830-31) (a trained Campbellite minister who was teaching higher priesthood and God as three personages), would greatly affect Joseph's later doctrinal additions to the faith's growing canon of understanding.
13) Moroni 10 gives a nice pattern and challenge to read the book, ponder and pray about it.
a) reading and pondering is what investigators and members are asked to do, but once you're a member you are only supposed to read from church-approved materials and rely on that one experience for the rest of your life. Is that a good method for expanding knowledge and spiritual understanding?
b) having a feeling about a book is something that can be good, but pinning your whole life to a singular journey based on a good feeling, can be a pattern for close-mindedness, lack of exploration, and gaslighting those who do research and expand. The LDS pattern is kind of carte blanche, that you get a warm feeling and then you know it is ALL true (anything a past, present or future leader ever or will say). It's quite dangerous to give that much authority away.
The truth is people and histories are nuanced, anything touched by man is not all true, nor is one person, or one church. For example, it's nuanced that Joseph made claims of the BOM's historicity (and the BoA), and yet that's now shown archeologically to not be true. Thus, it's important to see the BOM simply as spiritual (as President Nelson said in Nov of '21). The church gets itself into trouble with absolutist (non-nuanced) language by saying the BOM Is or Is Not, Joseph Smith Was or Was Not. The truth is, Joseph and the modern church have made claims that weren't true (that the BOM is a historical document, and the truth is the church in their Gospel Topics Essay have backed away from that literality, and also echoed in President Nelson's wise statement.
13) the BOM talks about final battles (Jaredite) with millions of people at the Hill Cumorah. Such a battle would have been bigger than any recorded in Asian, African, or European history. And. no. artifacts. The surrounding areas of the hill have had ground penetrating radar, metal detection -- and it's declared "a clean and unremarkable site archeologically." Millions of bones, swords, armor would be there, and across the continent for battles described. Joseph's math and story of huge battles wasn't just grandiose in contrast say to Greek, Roman or Persian numbers and conquests, but it makes archeology that much more findable at that large scale.
14) Linguistic authorship does not support the BOM having multiple authors, or being of ancient origin.
a) many analyses now show similarities to contemporary books and newspapers of the time
b) entire verses (not to mention Isaiah) are replicas of KJV, both OT and NT
c) Apologists make the BOM out to be more than it is linguistically and literarily (and it is a creative masterpiece), but it is not ancient. The poem Hickory Dickory Dock is a poetic chiasmus.
d) if an 1829 book used Hebraic words (names, cities), it doesn't make it of Reformed Egyptian origin. We can use Hebraic words now in current text. because Joseph Smith used Hebrew words in the BOM, does it make the book of ancient origin? And though Joseph used Hebraic names, he said the Nephite/Lamanite language was written in Reformed Egyptian (a language that doesn't exist). There are no semblances of ancient Hebrew or Egyptian in American native languages. Yes 90% of native peoples died from European disease, and their languages survive. We have modern speakers of passed-down native languages.
e) many of the names and cities in the BOM have strong resemblance to other cities, areas, countries that were known to Joseph's time (e.g. Cumoras Islands were "discovered" in the 1820s), Lehigh Valley was/is in PA, Moroni is the major city in the Cumoras Islands, etc.).
f) recall that Hyrum attended Dartmouth for 4-years (the prep school adjacent/on the same campus), to attend there you had to be fluent in Latin and Greek and Hebrew was taught. Hyum was Joseph's older brother and he'd come home on the weekends (the Smith family lived about 5-miles from campus) and in the Summers. Hyrum took a leave to care for Joseph when he had his major leg surgery and was recuperating. It's very plausible that Hyrum was a teacher to Joseph. And not to take away from Joseph in any way, there is no doubt that he had a brilliant mind, both for imagination and memorization (his mode of preaching was mainly dictation, which requires tremendous memory). That said, literally, while it's a very creative book and very detailed in certain descriptions (coinage), it reads like an early 18th century book, it has archeological faux pas, and it has modern anachronisms -- because it's an early 18th century book. Recall in context that the times then were full of speculation of origin of Native Americans, which the BOM provides an answer for, just as View of Hebrews and other contemporary books did. No doubt Hyrum would have had input into the book's creation. Credit to Joseph for producing a masterful book.
If all of this is troubling to you as a member of the CoJC of LDS, take comfort in what President Nelson said in November of 2021, "There are some things the Book of Mormon is not, It is not a textbook of history..., It is not a definitive work on ancient American agriculture or politics. It is not a record of all former inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere, but only of particular groups of people.”
I'm glad the church president is wisely placing the BOM into its proper place, a spiritually-inspired book (and not a book of history). This runs counter to what we were taught -- but that's how churches adapt over time, as science (archeology, literary analysis, etc.) catch up with the times and religious stories once believed to be literal, are put into the realm where they should be, as simply meaningful.
In summary on the BOM, I read that book probably 30-40 times in my life, as it was so stressed as "the most correct of any other book, and a person would get closer to God by reading it than any other book, and a history of the American people and resurrected Jesus visiting them, and is or is not true."
While the BOM has many inspiring, Bible-like stories (Alma's being struck road on a road - Paul's road to Taursus, the Beatitudes are 100% similar, etc.), the book falls into the category of 1820s pseudigraphical fiction. And while it was disappointing for me to learn that it's not history, things can be non-historical and simply a valuable story to learn from. Most religious stories are mythical stories (an arc, the red sea, a man in a whale). The value of the teaching is not in the historicity, but in the value of the story/meaning itself.
I'm good with that and the BOM to that extent, an inspiring book to read. That said, I don't see it as historical, I think the author got himself in trouble by saying it was, as has the LDS church until last year, and there are parts that are 1820s wrong, i.e. "White and delightsome" was changed to "Fair and deligthsome," because facts -- that's racist. And ironically, the BOM for my reading clearly states that polygamy is not allowed (showing at least that JS was contemplating that even in 1829).
The LDS Church Gospel Topic Essay on BOM acknowledges a lot of these issues; I highly recommend all LDS members read those essays (they're hard to find on the church website, yo have to use the search tool). They're where I started. What you'll find in those church essays is that many things that are considered anti-Mormon, things which authors had been excommunicated for, are acknowledged by the church.
Mark Twain said he wouldn't be convinced of gold plates if the whole rest of the Whitmer family had seen them! And he criticized the literary construction and prose (the over-use of "And it came to pass and the use of 1620s, non-colloquial even for its time -- so it would sound more scriptural). The BOM reads like a modern document, b/c it is. There's a reason OT reads so foreign to us and God can seem like an angry desert God (b/c that was their understanding of God of the time and the stories/records handed down).
Lucy Mack Smith noted in her auto-biography (early 1850s) that Joseph was a highly imaginative boy (before the plates), that he'd tell fantastical stories of the Indians, how they lived, what their modes of transportation were and what food they ate (BTW the BOM does not mention corn but does mention wheat -- corn would have been a staple of Meso-American and North American diet, while wheat was introduced to this continent by the Spaniards and Portuguese).
Scripture is limited by the world views of the author (e.g. Paul said women should stay silent in church), and OT customs 4-5k years ago were vastly different (Leviticus says someone who works on Sunday should be killed, that a man who rapes a woman should pay her father, etc.). The OT was so long ago that it seems like an angry desert God of justice, as those were the times and ways.
The BOM reads more modernly, as it was written in 1829 (although the prose of 1620s KJV was used to enhance is scripture sheek!), b/c that was the author's (JS) timeframe.
In the end, what is scripture? Does it have to be historical to be true, or should we simply gain the good from the meaning we discern from the story? Yes BOM is problematic for the above reasons, and for the fact that JS claimed it was ancient and from gold plates now in heaven - but the book is an incredible work and it does testify of Christ and speaks to social issues of Joseph's time, e.g.
a) answering for his view, the question about the American Indians
b) cautioning on the danger of secret societies (which ironically JS later joined and promoted)
c) setting a utopian society for hundreds of years when there were no matter of 'ites
In the end, scripture does not have to be be historical, so regardless of BOM's ancient historicity or not, if the book helps you be a better person and it's good for you, then it's good for you! I appreciate the BOM for that and it guided me well for many years, and I now see it for what it is, and I agree with President Nelson's statement that is is not a history book. Joseph and the LDS church, got themselves in the current pickle, but saying for all those years, that it was a historical book of ancient origin.
Does the church encourage leader worship? See more answers about 'Does the church encourage leader worship?'
Why do pictures of the FP hang on the bishop's wall or church hallways next to Jesus'? why are testimonies most often w/gratitude for a living prophet and inspired local leaders? why do we sing on ode to a living man in his presence "We thank thee.." Why is it forbidden to "speak ill of the Lord's anointed?" Why did President Oaks say it is never good to criticize a church leader, even if they are wrong? Why do we call apostles or even stake leaders, "Brethren"? Why do we use middle initials for church leaders? Why do we repeat the epitaphic statement of John Taylor that "No man has done more for the salvation of man, save Jesus Christ only, but Joseph Smith? Should any man be compared to Jesus or put in the same sentence of salvation?
Jesus was the guy with a whip-in-hand in the temple who overthrew the money exchangers, and he ministered to those on the fringe (leppers, Samaritans, women). We need to follow his example today and include all people in our churches, as we are all equal. And to Jesus' example on overturning the money tables at the temple, should the LDS church require money/tithing to enter the temple?
Are you happy? See more answers about 'Are you happy?'
More than ever, as I liberated myself from dogma and I chose the harder social path. I've taken back my inner authority (I no longer look to 15 men). And I've expanded spiritually (before I was more religious). I read and listen to far more materials now. My spiritual practices and knowledge have widened and deepened. I used to think I had all the answers (and there's comfort in that)(ego), and now I'm comfortable and love having more questions! I am a student. I enjoy each moment more now (vs thinking about a daily checklist, or living for the future tense). The western and eastern paths have so much beauty respectively. And the more I learn about eastern ways of thinking, the more I see that in Jesus' teachings.
What advice would you give folks who are transitioning? See more answers about 'What advice would you give folks who are transitioning?'
1) don't try and explain yourself in your transition -- it will only cause those you love harm, and give them reasons to question your questions (ammunition). I had a couple Facebook posts where I would make points, and now I could write something so much more informed, but why?
Respect the place someone is in, otherwise they'll think you're their enemy. It's so easy on LDS culture to put an ExMo on the other side of the fence, so don't give them that reason.
Yes it hurts, it hurts like hell to find out that your heroes and history are nuanced, but what else would we reasonably expect?
The truth in the big picture is, it doesn't matter what religion or church we do/don't support, it just matters how we live. I've chosen to live by asking questions and researching, by expanding and growing (not just sticking to one version), but that's simply what worked for me and it's my journey. Everyone has their own journey!
If you give your Mormon family reasons to think you're bitter or angry, it just reinforces what they want to believe (even though it's normal to feel betrayed and deceived).
So, go with the flow (Tao principle, i.e. don't grasp at water, walk the middle path between the yin and yang, offend nobody, simply see everyone and everything as a beautiful expression of the Universe!
And, actually be grateful for your past, as life is simply a lesson module and hey, we got to learn strong-sauce, dogmatic, mythical-storied, socially-entangled, organized religion! Cool, chalk it up and be glad for it.
Focus on what you want in the present moment, feel the future of what you want as if it's actually happened (feelings are the key to manifestation, not thoughts) -- and know, you are beautiful just the way you are!
Does the church encourage leader worship? See more answers about 'Does the church encourage leader worship?'
Do John Taylor's epitaphic words of, ""No man has done more for the salvation of men, excepting only Jesus Christ, than Joseph Smith," seem leader worship-y to you?
Does it seem self-aggrandizing to you that patrons of the temple/members who do temple work, refer to themselves as "Saviors on Mount Zion?"
Does it seem pious to you that LDS bishops are called, "Judges in Israel?"
Does it seem worship-y to you that a "Praise to the Man" song is song?
Does it seem ode'ish to you that the song "We praise thee O God for a prophet" is sung about the man, to the man?
The piety of LDS culture is plain to see when you back up and observe it.
Have you experienced gaslighting from the Mormon church? See more answers about 'Have you experienced gaslighting from the Mormon church?'
It's common for family members to think you've gone astray and to say harmful things, but they're only reflecting their own insecurities. I had a former ward member reach out to me on Messanger and tell me, "I've never doubted the LDS church." I tried to put myself in his heart empathetically, and it seemed he was reassuring himself, because he told me he'd valued me as a brother and respected me as a thoughtful person.
Gaslighting is simply inward reflection. Our conscious doesn't distinguish between ourselves and others, as there's simply one'ness in the Universe -- so saying demeaning things about someone else, or gaslighting them and making them feel that what they're suggesting is so preposterous that they're the one gone astray -- is really just the self-reflection of fear. Fear is the source of gaslighting, and fear is not a good motivation (do it or face punishment). God is LOVE. God is Compassion. We are all one (regardless of religion, etc.).
How long was your struggle? See more answers about 'How long was your struggle?'
A struggle is a challenge that we retain within, replaying and revisiting, and anxiety is suffering from something that hasn't happened yet. Fear is just an emotion, and it's good to sit with and melt into it, feel it and absorb it. It's okay in your transition to feel pain and sorrow, betrayal and fear -- it is so normal. Don't fight it off, don't fight anything, just be one with all emotion and go with the flow.
For me, it wasn't until I learned the above concepts, that I began to be okay.
Listen to the MindValley episode, "The Power of Consciousness" with Gelong (zen monk) Thubten. open.spotify.com/episode/… shorter version here youtube.com/… That podcast helped me a great deal to embrace emotions (struggles) (vs trying to willpower my way out of them). Whiteknuckling anything does not work. Only by embracing the fear, which underlies our struggle, do we find peace with that emotion. It's good to sit and feel struggles, the observation of it alone (hello, and name it), creates dissipation and takes its power away).
Then, create the feeling you want, envision it in your heart like it's already happened.
Was Joseph Smith involved in treasure digging? See more answers about 'Was Joseph Smith involved in treasure digging?'
1) court documents in NY show that he stood trial for being a "disorderly person" for treasure digging
2) Isaac Hale (Emma's father) (IH) recorded about JS treasure digging and it's in Joseph's own biography, that he came to live with the Hales while employed in the area in a treasure seeking adventure. That is how Joseph met Emma in 1827, and Isaac did not want his daughter marrying a man with that unreputable trade. Aside for IH's account you can read it in Joseph's own account, and in that of neighbor Willard Chase. The local congregation that Joseph and Emma attended (yet he was told to join no church :), the First Vision story changed over time in the 1830s) had members who protested his attendance, as his profession was that of a treasure digger. IH offered JS a piece of his land and the house for Emma and Joseph to live in (where JS completed the "translation" w/OC") if he would give up his treasure digging and become a respectable farmer -- but religion became Joseph's mode of pay (vs the menciant lifestyle that Jesus asked of his apostles when he sent them forth)
3) affidavits of Palmyra citizens note that JS Sr.'s profession was "treasure digger" and "farmer"
4) D and C section about Joseph receiving a revelation to go to Salem, MA and look for treasure
Understanding that the Smiths were treasure diggers and believers in folk magic, fits the BOM story well (gold plates, a cadence to follow before getting the plates, a seer stone, an angel protecting the treasure, coming back each year), etc. Also, understanding that 1820s were a time of mysticism and folk magic in general (Sleepy Hollow was written in this time, etc.). We look down upon "treasure digging now," and it wasn't a respected profession then -- but it wasn't as big of a deal then. I'm not excusing it, I'm just saying that to understand the time, context, place -- helps to understand the story of the Smiths
Are you lazy? Is that why you left? See more answers about 'Are you lazy? Is that why you left?'
President Nelson's GC comment a few years ago about ExMos being "lazy learners," yeh, ironically funny, as it's quite the opposite, i.e. it's easier in fact to not dig into research, to not question, to only read the provided Sunday school church manual.
Questioning nothing is more aptly fitting of lazy-learning (an oxy moron by itself), than to call genuine seekers and investigators of truth claims, "lazy learners." I have thousands of hours of research of LDS history and present social issues (not exactly lazy).
Blind obedience though does not serve our progress. We really waste a lifetime to not use our human-imbued ability to learn and reason. And in fact, blind followers create dangerous situations, as they become exclusive elitists, which by nature has the attitude of seeing other ___(religions, churches, people) as "less than."
The BOM has a story of the Zoramites (I forget now) who felt they were better than others and someone would pray and thank God that they had the exclusive, one true church. Does that sound familiar in anyway?
What are Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women? See more answers about 'What are Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women?'
On Joseph's teachings on temples:
Is it a coincidence that three (3) weeks after becoming a Mason JS founded the LDS temple ceremony and it was a 90% Masonic temple ceremony replica (washing & anointing, handshakes, clothing, signs and; tokens, covenants)?
The church claims that the Masonic temple ceremonies were carried down from Solomon's temple (from the masons who worked on that temple), and therefore the similarities (sadly this catch phrase is what I used as a missionary). Well, the temples of old (Moses' tabernacle, Solomon's, Herod's), only talk about animal sacrifice (there were no personal endowments or baptisms for the dead), and the Masons themselves indicate that their temple ceremony (closely matched what Joseph produced) was created in the 1600s.
The temple ceremony was perfect for what Joseph needed, as it created an Oath of Secrecy, and plural marriages were being conducted. A secret temple ceremony was exactly what Joseph needed to conceal polygamy. ps, Emma was about his 13th wife sealed to him (b/c he was marrying other women w/out her knowledge). I try and look at polygamy from Emma's eyes, and all polygamy from the victims (women's) eyes.
Is it interesting to you that it was mainly only the leaders of the church who practiced polygamy? what does that say?
D and C 132 is still in the modern D and C. Now, and it's about polygamy, but now it's just called temple marriage and missionaries use "families can be together forever" as a means to attract new members. Celestial marriage is the New and Everlasting Covenant (polygamy), and it's still true that a man can be sealed to more than one woman in this life in temple practice, and it's still believed (though not taught as much) that the 3rd degree of the celestial kingdom is where Gods will have eternal procreation (men with multiple wives). This could be right out of Scientology.
We are not together forever b/c of a temple literalistic, physical ceremony -- we are together forever b/c of God. Religions create rites and rituals -- it's what they do.
Do you believe God is All-Loving? Does God love one people or church more than another? Does God bless and give Holy Spirit more (a Gift) to just one group of people?
Does an All-Loving God not allow people to be together in the after-life, considering the millenia of time of humans, until the mid-18th century when living people could baptize for dead people, and living people could be sealed in a marriage ceremony for dead people? Is an All-Loving God that literalistic, absolutist, and legalistic?
Sacraments are symbolic (not literal, e.g. there is no transubstantiation of the bread into a body or the water into blood), and the same is true with baptism (like the sacrament, it's symbolic -- not literal or requisite to any dead person to have a live person do a baptism for them).
My personal take is Joseph was distraught by the death of his beloved brother Alvin, as the protestant preacher gave a fiery sermon graveside to say he was in hell b/c he hadn't received baptism. So Joseph then is reading the NT and he comes across the one sentence in all of those books, where Paul mentions it (doesn't preach for it), and he comes up with baptisms for the dead.
On Joseph's teaching about priesthood:
a) there is only one scripture in the NT that talks about Melichizidek, and it was Paul saying there was an ancient King by that name who paid tithes to the temple. Okay, there was a king 3k years prior by that name.
b) If there was a higher Melchizidek priesthood of OT times, this would have been passed down in self-interest by the temple priests and the Pharisees of NT times would have used it to their advantage.
c) Circumstance: Joseph was in a tough time in Kirtland where people were starting to question his authority, so he kept expanding priesthood offices and giving himself and people close to him, higher offices. It was a remarkably changing and complex governance structure for such a small church, but it fit Joseph's needs to keeping giving more positions and elevating people, as Joseph's integrity and authority was being questioned by many
d) Changing Nature in modern times, e.g. originally a High Priest was Aaronic, but became Melchizidek. Even BY changed the priesthood offices, e.g. in JS's times tje High Council was charged with governance for where Zion was located at the time (Kirtland, Far West, Nauvoo), and the Qof12 were the travelling missionaries (which is why so many converts followed their missionaries/apostles west). Brigham though needed the Qof12 to be the governing council of SLC (not the HC), so he made the HC part of stakes (where it was more ubiquitous in nature, vs being responsible for governing the church as it had been). Also e.g., in JS' times a Bishop had responsibility to govern the finances of the church, but b/c BY wanted that control he switched that to the Qof12, and he was the President of the Qof12 (President of the church). This inured to his/Qof12's favor, you can see a fascinating financial ledger of the church, as the Qof12 in SLC would have financial interests in businesses co-owned by the church.
This financial mess of Qof12/church co-ownership (control inuring to the benefit of the leaders) got cleaned up in 1890 when the church was under threat from the federal government (Wilford talks about it in D and C) and assets were threatened to be seized b/c of polygamy (Edmunds-Tucker Act made that possible for the federal government). The church got a San Francisco law firm, which formed the Corporation of the CoJCoLDS, which is the entity that still exists today (that is how the church is still officially registered with the federal government). The changing nature of offices was a tool to grant others offices, control and self-benefit.
f) 1 Peter 2:9-10 calls the people of the church a royal priesthood. Hebrews 7: 26-28 makes clear that Jesus is the one High Priest.
Priesthood poorly applied is about control, and it's always been a tool of patriarchy. I respect churches that now allow women to have priesthood. Joseph Smith abused his authority (his priesthood in Mormon terms), by his abuse of women. When you read the accounts of some of the women (a few did write) about how they were approached, you see very clearly Joseph's grooming behavior of often young women, often his friends' wives (10-12 of his plural wives were already married), and of other women. Some did stand up to him, remarkable for the time, and said, No. Joseph's pattern on anyone who crossed him was to publicly shame theme (excommunications in IL, MO, OH) (e.g. he blamed all of polygamy, as did the RS in a written, signed statement of many women on John C Benett). Nancy Rigdon was one of a handful of women who had the courage to stand up to Joseph and to write about it. Joseph then called her a harlot, etc. We see priesthood abuses in modern times, across multiple churches. Authority and humans, usually don't mesh well.
The truth is priesthood is a type of is religious practice, but it's disguised in religions. Priesthood at its good core is service and intention, faith and visualization and law of attraction. It's that simple. We all have that God-endowed power, male and female -- the power to transcend, to heal, to do what is good -- is within each of us. You can experience the beauty of transcendent actualization by connecting directly to the Divine and the Universe. The blessings of the "priesthood" are real, I've experienced them -- but it's not b/c of a literal event (versions of which JS and OC changed and always differed on). Beauty is b/c of God, and your relationship and one'ness. Refinement is to see you as your higher self, you as endless energy, and we are all in this together.
Religions are a kind of insurance policy to the mind, and those that use priesthood as "the way" are using that as a means of control and dependence. You have control of you; You have the Power in you.
God does not authorize certain people to speak for Him. Yes there are writings of apostles and prophets, and they were inspired at their time. We can individually be inspired by God. We can listen to people whom we feel are inspired and we can discern to know if that's a belief or spiritual practice that will help us. We can't give our authority away to someone else. Prophets and teachers are simply guides to help us inwardly connect. The inward journey is the space of sacredness (not the churches and temples, the symbolic ceremonies, the literalistic teachings, the testimonies of others, etc.)
Yes I've seen good things happen with priesthood, and I've heard non-Mormon friends similarly talk about their good things that have come from prayer. It is intention and faith that fuels good things. If the Mormon priesthood had magic to it, there would be thousands of faith-healing stories (cancer healings, etc.) -- as there are thousands of daily blessings given.
The literalistic view of God giving 12 men his authority -- is not what Jesus said. Jesus simply asked those who followed him to go forth and teach. How many times did Paul talk about priesthood? How many times do you see the word priesthood appear in Christ's beatitudes? Jesus did not teach church, he taught a way of life. Paul taught and brought about a church in Corinth, in Galitia, in Rome, etc. Paul was right and wrong about some things (including the idea of centralized power). the Church of Jerusalem (Jesus' two brothers and one other apostle) likely had some things right and wrong as well.
Some "priesthood leaders" (Christian leaders of old or new) used words to state their understanding of Jesus. In the case of the disciples who walked with Jesus, only one NT author, perhaps Mark, can be attributed for original writing -- the rest (it shocked me to learn) is all writing of Paul (who never met Jesus), and of mostly Paul's followers -- decades later (up to 110 AD, but most writing of the NT done in 50-60 AD. What people wrote (their understanding) became "canonized" scripture, i.e. the Jesus Movement became Christology, which became churches, which eventually sync'd into one holy Roman church.
It's not about about priesthood or what guys 2-5k years wrote, or even 200 years ago (BOM, BoA, BoM, D&C), nor is it even about what good men say now from a pulpit in SLC or elsewhere (and some things they sat are still tragically caught in a past time). GOD is Source, and we can connect directly. If a church gives us structure that's great, but we can't let comfort (surrounding ourselves with people who worship the same we do, who bear testimonies like platitudes like we do), take away our inner authority and power. Does a child need church to live a life of good choices -- or can those teachings come from the parent, to guide the child's nature from within? Does an adult need to be told what to do, or can we seek the Lord's guidance from inner connection? (is that not moments of spirituality, of connection to the Divine?)
If we lend our inner authority to outside "authority," (churches and men are glad to play this role for you, and they require your money and time and emotional investment), then we are bound to repeat these hard lessons in a next-existence.
Joseph Smith was FASCINATED, as many religious contemporaries of his time were, with restoring the NT church. Joseph wanted to go deeper though into OT times, so he read the one scripture in NT and OT that talks about a King named Melchiziked, and he created a priesthood from that (which not even the Jews or the NT disciples wrote about). Joseph was fascinated with rites and rituals and ancient things. Recall that the Smiths were known treasure seekers, that the magic worldview was common for the early 1800s, and that treasure seeking by nature is a set of incantations, recitations, rituals, etc. so the treasure can be found (so the guardian of the treasure won't cause it to be slippery). Having a higher order of knowledge and rites gave Joseph what he wanted, the mystique, the ability to give offices to those loyal to him, etc. Mormonism stands alone among religions in its temple rites (especially for dead people), and its view of priesthood (other than Catholics).
Joseph changed his version of May 1829 priesthood restoration three times, and he never spoke of it until 1832, two years after the church was formed. Oliver Cowdery's version always said there was an "angel" (singular). Sydney Rigdon was a trained theologian and his Stone-Campbell tradition there as speculation about an ancient, other/higher priesthood .
Yes there was a Levitical Priesthood in OT and NT times to administer the rites (animal sacrifice) of the temple. Christ is the High Priest. It was the Catholic church that continued the idea of priesthood, and it's been churches throughout protestant time that have used that for authoritative advantage.
The LDS church had 1830s/40s success in England for example, as any rank and file man could be made a priest and have the same sacramental authority of the stuffy Anglican priests -- it was empowering and ubiquitious.
Priesthood is simply service, those who serve others (not a literal hand-down of OT authority or something renewed in 1829). It is service to others, and I admire the churches that have priesthood as part of their doctrinal observance, to have women as priests (In LDS temple women are only endowed to become priestesses in the next life).
We are together forever not because of a litaralistic event in May 1829 at the banks of the Sasquehanna river, but because of GOD. The idea that eternal togetherness only happens if you have a sealing in Mormon temple, takes away from the all-powerfullness of God (and creates the idea that God needs humans to save humans and to keep them together for eternity).
On Joseph's teachings of women:
Joseph always publicly preached against polygamy (he did teach it privately in Council of 50 though). Public statements against polygamy include his Times and Seasons articles, statements he made to the Relief Society (when 4-5 of the women in the audience were already his plural wives), the former D and C 101:4 revelation which defined marriage between one man and one woman, etc.) (Brigham later had it removed in SLC and replaced with D&C 132).
It was a giant contradiction that Joseph publicly preached against polygamy, yet he and key leaders privately practiced it and he privately taught it. I believe polygamy was secretive in Nauvoo b/c it would have been a death nail for Joseph. These were Victorian times and religious polygamy was considered obscene. The first time the church made polygamy official publicly was in the safe confines of SLC in 1852, by BY. After that, missionary work in England and elsewhere decline -- people not wanting to join a polygamous church.
Church members should be concerned for the victims of polygamy (not trying to defend past leaders). Religious polygamy was patriarchal abuse of women. There's a reason it was only practiced by about 5% of the male population of the church (b/c they were the leaders and in a 50/50 birth rate situation, you have to have numbers).
Religious polygamy was male elitism, it was perniciously wrong, and its legacy is still around today:
1) FLDS and other fundamentalist groups. LDS folks like to disassociate themselves from FLDS folks, but polygamy was practiced by the same, first prophets that both groups claim: JS, BY, JT, WW
2) LDS Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints still believes in polygamy in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom (no longer taught in the watered down manuals), and still practices spiritual wifery (a man can be sealed to more than one woman still today, e.g. a widow, or a divorcee (in some cases).
In summary, Joseph was inspired in many ways, but priesthood became misuse of authority (authority always does in men's hands -- which was polygamy). LDS priesthood is still misused (patriarchy, piousness, etc.) LDS temple rites are unnecessary and a means Joseph used to advance the secrecy he needed for polygamy, and to create the exclusivity claims he desired. We don't need underwear with Masonic marks (compass, square) in them for our protection or spiritual reminding. LDS temple rites take away from the power of God (God Almighty doesn't need humans to save humans -- it's good, don't worry about it like Joseph worried about Alvin and then took one NT scripture and made it a new religious practice). And, women are not just equal, in most ways they are superior. It's about damn time that women have their place in society as leaders, I love seeing nations like New Zealand (former Mormon), Denmark and Finland led by women. We'd be much better off if women led the world, I guarantee it. Mormons would be much better off the same (90% of GC talks are still male, and there are 0% GAs and 0% women in priesthood); patriarchy is a dangerous social relic (and that's what male-only priesthood is).
What do you feel or know about Brigham Young's Polygamy? See more answers about 'What do you feel or know about Brigham Young's Polygamy?'
BY was on FIRE w/polygamy!
1) 50+ wives, 50+ children (not very prodigious)
2) BY taught "Adam-God Doctrine," that Adam was God the Father and Eve was one of his plural wives. He taught that for every plural wife a man has, she will be the literal Eve of that earth and the man the literal Adam. The church dropped his teaching after his death and they removed the hymn he had commissioned about the doctrine. There's a quote by Spencer W. Kimball in the 1970s asking members to stop teaching that Adam-God (BY) doctrine.
3) BY taught that the only way to the 3rd degree of the celestial kingdom was for polygamists -- where eternal creation happens.
4) BY made statements that polygamy would never be taken from the earth, etc.
check out missedinsunday.com/category/memes/polygamy/ for some sad/funny church leader quotes (some not so long ago)
We should see polygamy from the standpoint of the victims (members should not try and justify the perps). It is so uncomfortable a topic and such a black eye for the church, that members often relegate to reductionist comments like, "We'll never truly understand why it happened" (ignoring the victims and the uncomfortable truths).
Was polygamy a practice or a commandment in OT times?
Has it been the practice of kings and Sultans over time to have harem? Did King David and King Solomon have harems?
Does an ancient practice 3-5k years ago of polygamy or the practice of kings and sultans, make the custom right in modern times?
Has society until recently, been misogynistic toward women / how much voice and say have women had, or even in the mid-1800s in isolated Utah?
What period of the OT was polygamy practiced? Was it practiced during NT times? What did anyone in the NT say about polygamy?
If polygamy was never to be taken from the earth as BY and JT said, why did God change his mind in 1890? Did the 3 anti-bigamy Acts passed by Congress, the last being in 1897 which gave the federal gvt rights to seize church assets, have anything to do with polygamy's end? (read WW's please in his Declaration). Or, was it circumstantially necessary to stop the practice?
Did polygamy and cohabitation end (as the law required in 1890?
Was JFS, when he was president of the church in the 1910s, get charged by the federal gvt w/bigamy (cohabitation), and how much of a fine did he pay?
Are you familiar with the 2nd and 3rd Manifestos and the dates those were released? (only the 1st is in D and C, which leads the reader to believe it all ended in 1890).
Are you familiar with the meeting JT had in the 1880s with 3 men in a home in Centerville, where by his own handwriting (the church history office has confirmed its his handwriting, as have graphologists), he bestowed the rights of the N&EC and polygamy to 3 men to continue? Are you familiar with those 3 men's legacy and the FLDS and UAB et al branches?
Are the wrongs of prophet Warren Jeffs, FLDS, in any way connected to polygamy by way of legacy? Would FLDS/UAB et al be practicing polygamy, had Joseph and Brigham not started it? Is there no culpability or legacy effect?
Can we see polygamy through the lens of the victims? (vs justifying past leaders).
Why was it only the top 5% of the church population that practiced polygamy, and why was it mainly the church leaders who had that "privilege?"
In Victorian 1840s, was it considered socially proper for a 37-year old man to have 35-38 wives, with some of them being 14 and 15?
Why was Emma Joseph's 13th (not 1st) sealed wife? What did Emma say about how she "Caught Joseph and Fanny in the act in the barn" (Kirtland).
If Joseph claimed an angel of the Lord would have struck him with a sword if he didn't practice polygamy, why did he have 35-28 wives (was he wholly a hesitant participant)?
Why did Joseph publicly preach against polygamy (T&S, RS Affidavit, etc.), yet privately practice it?
How many of the 12 apostles in Nauvoo were practicing polygamy?
Were apostles the missionaries of their day, and would it be normal that converted-members from England, etc. would follow their apostle-missionary?
How much of polygamy did the rank-file members know about polygamy in Nauvoo?
Why was polygamy not announced to the church membership until 1852 by BY in the tabernacle? (when he then produced the 1842 "revelation" that WC penned)
What do you feel or know about peace and Violence among 19th-Century Latter-day Saints? See more answers about 'What do you feel or know about peace and Violence among 19th-Century Latter-day Saints?'
So little is taught by the church about its own hand in violence.
1) Ohio: JS wasn't just tarred and feathered b/c of religious reasons. There are reports that the mob called for the physician to castrate him, and that he'd been fooling around with the 16-year old girl of the home, who 10-years later became one of his plural wives.
2) Missouri: JS raised an army and marched it from OH to MO on the Zion's Camp March. This was seen as a threat to the Missourians.
3) Missouri: The Danite Malitia was 85 Mormon men who signed the pledge (more joined later) in MO -- it was the precursor to the Nauvoo Legion. There was disaffection among former Mormons, as there was a purging of excommunications in 1838 (when there was both Kirtland and Far West) of key people including BOM witnesses and church leaders (Oliver Cowdery, many of the Whitmers, etc.) (they spoke against Joseph's affair with Fanny Alger in Kirtland, etc.).
Many of these former Mormons people owned lands in northwest MO and the local Mormons there did not take well to them. Sydney Rigdon gave a July 4, 1838 speech known as the "Salt Sermon," in which he threatened the ExMos with violence (Sydney used the word "exterminate) saying they were as the salt of the earth and had lost their favor.
The Danite Malita posted notices on ExMormons' homes threatening them with violence if they would not leave, and homes, barns and shops were burned by the Mormon Danite Malitia (near Millport, Gallitan, Grindstone Forks) and there were reports of cattle that were rustled. The Danite Malitia even burned the county seat building in Gallitan county, where many ExMormons had settled, and where there were the most agitators against the LDS church. This was known as the Missouri-Mormon War. This was the defense of property and liberty that Gov Boggs was responding to, and why JS, SR, LW were put in Liberty Jail. The Danite Malitia attacked the MO State Malitia at Crooked Creek. The one-sided history I was taught of LDS being victims, is not a proper account of history.
Sadly, months later Gov Boggs replicated Sydney's "extermination" word that Sydney Rigdon had used
4) Nauvoo: Joseph came out of Liberty Jail, I believe with a resolve to not be abused again, or so he felt (when in fact it was a two-sided issue in violence). So, under the generous Nauvoo City Charter from Springfield, the Mormons were allowed to build a legion -- which Joseph did and it became the second largest standing army outside of the US army. Certainly, neighboring towns of Warsaw, Quincey, Carthage -- were concerned. Joseph paraded the legion, they drilled, he had gold epilets on his uniform, etc. As a child I was taught the Nauvoo Legion was a thing of dignity and self-preservation. I now see that Joseph did not turn the other cheek.
In summary on IL violence, I think had the Mormons not raised an army, had they not gotten involved with secretive polygamy, and had Joseph not been preaching secretly in the Council of 50 (word got out) about setting up a theocratic kingdom of God on earth to subdue all other governments -- they would not have had the issues in IL they did. Neighboring cities weren't as concerned about a new religion (those were actually pretty common for the time), but certainly a standing army of that size, reports of secretive polygamy, and reports that Joseph had been appointed King of the Earth and Heaven (Council of 50), were of concern and you can read those in the Warsaw Signal, etc. No doubt Joseph made enemies too by lifting the Masonic Temple Rite ceremony.
Joseph felt the abrasion and the very nature of the Council of 50 was to find land outside of the US where they could practice their religion (polygamy, Joseph as King). The Council of 50 sent representatives to the newly independent Republic of Texas, where they negotiated unsuccessfully with Sam Houston et al., and the Council of 50 was scouting lands in the west in Mexican and US Oregon country.
4) Utah violence: I grew up in Provo and as a cub scout visited local pioneer museum (Veteran's Park), etc. Timpanogas were the first nations people of Utah Valley and there were was an ambush in AF canyon, and a horrible battle at Fort Utah (replica forth there now, Geneva Road just north of Center Street) where the warrior's were decaptitated and their heads put on stakes. The Chief's wife flung herself from a cliff in Rock Canyon, which became Squaw Peak. Some Indians were made slaves (research what BY said about slavery).
Research the ambush at Bear Creek in Logan. Research the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the Paiutes being blamed by BY. I now have a reverence for the First Nations people of where I grew up (Provo) and near where Angie grew up (Preston).
Brigham made bowie knife threats at the pulpit against ExMormons. A stake president in Manti had a YM castrated and there's a letter from BY to not speak of it anymore. Wild Bill Hicock claimed to have killed a dozen men for BY. A federal SLC judge was murdered, and a few weeks prior BY at the pulpit said somebody should do something about that man. When Pres Buchanan had Johnston's Army enter SLC in 1857 it was to replace BY as Territorial Gov. BY was surely concerned he would be charged for accessory in relation to the recent federal judge's death, or charged on bigamy (yes, federal anti-bigamy laws existed as early as the 1830s). BY was concerned by what might happen to him and the saints at the approaching army, so he ordered marshal law and had the temple foundation covered and most saints evacuated. By gave up his territorial governship in-part on the basis of guarantee of pardon for him and church leaders to not be charged with any crimes (bigamy, death of the federal judge, etc.).
It was during this perfectly awful 1857 time that the Fancher wagon party from NW AR entered the valley, and just six months before that (Feb, '57) Parley Pratt was murdered in the same area by an estranged husband of a married woman whom Parley married (bigamy). There were rumors that among the Fancher party were Carthage Greys and MO Wildcats, and the very pistol that killed Joseph (as if any of that would be justification for killing 120 men, women and children on their trek father down into Southern Utah in an ambush and subsequent false treaty/white flag).
Utah was entered as a Slave Territory, and you can read BY's original words that "Slavery is from God." That's the thing when people blindly follow a prophet. Yes indeed, prophets can and do lead entire groups of people (a church) astray, and that's what polygamy and racism (slavery in Utah, racial prohibition from church priesthood and temples until 1978), were.
1850s Utah was not an "all is well in Zion place." it was a time of suspicion (the second awakening/refining from church officials purging naysayers), and a time of xenaphobia and the US government replacing the mixing of theocratic/autocratic BY leadership w/territorial leadership. The worst massacre of white lives, the massacres at Bear Creek, Pleasant Grove, Ft Provo, etc. The Nauvoo Legion was still active (and activated by BY when Johnston's Army was approaching).
The legacy of victim mindset, of avenging our wrongs -- is powerful energy that lived on into the 20th century by original Mormons and their kids. We see alt-right, armed groups very active in Utah, with a belief in apocalypticism and extremism. What is that source? It's not just from the 1800s history, it's from current comments (e.g. Ezra Taft Benson was a member of the famous Burch Society, he was the one who made comments like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the work of communists to undermine America). missedinsunday.com/memes/race/so-called-civil-rights/
In summary on violence in Mormon history and its legacy effects, history is written by the victors, but the memories of First Nations people, of Fancher Party, etc. is in my heart with great respect. I also mourn the loss of Mormon lives at Huan's Mill (the worst loss of life, 18 souls). There is a reason you haven't heard about this two-sided history -- if you've only been listening to the church.
When you learn the history of polygamy (fathers/brothers who would have wanted Joseph tarred and feathered or killed for messing around with their wives/daughters/sisters), of Zion's Camp, of The Danite Mormon Militia and their burning of neighboring county seat and property and displacement of ExMos, of the Danite Malitia's attack on the Missouri State Malitia at Crooked Creek, and of Sydney's Salt Sermon (he first threatened Missourians with "extermination"); when you hear of Joseph going to Liberty jail on charges of treason, of Joseph going to jail in Carthage on charges of destruction of a press and treason (setting up a theocratic kingdom --that was the charge that had no bail); and when you see the minutes of Joseph's Council of 50 and setting himself up as King of the Earth for a theocratic Kingdom of God; and when you see the Mormons having a MO ("Danite") malitia, then the largest army (Nauvoo Legion) outside of the US Army; and when you see thugs like Porter Rockwell celebrated (he stood trial for killing Gov Boggs, and yet there's a statue of him in Lehi City Hall --- When you see all of this -- you see a two-sided story in violence and legacy-present.
Mormons now celebrate the Nauvoo Legion a type of self-defense and strength, and they celebrate murderous characters like Porter Rockwell. The feelings of one-sided victim'ness are a dangerous thing to teach, as are the narratives that "We're the one true church, Satan's hand was set against us to stir the hearts of evil men." History. Isn't. That Way. There are always two-sides, and the truth is somewhere usually in-between the versions.
It's incredibly liberating to learn the truth of history, so we can really see the truth and learn. I now see compassionately for the women victims of polygamy (whereas I used to defend the men). I now see compassionately for the First Nations victims of white, European expansion (vs believing Mormons had some of the best Indian relations in the West). Knowledge gives us a proper view, where our hearts can then align in compassion for the victims and the two-sided nature of things (vs self-victimization and self-justification). The LDS church needs to acknowledge its history and stop preaching one-sided victim'ness.
What did and do you feel about the Mormon Temple Ceremony? See more answers about 'What did and do you feel about the Mormon Temple Ceremony?'
Can a person only make a promise to God in an LDS temple?
Are our lives not our living covenants with God?
Why was the Mormon endowment and marriage ceremony a 90% replica of the Masonic temple ceremony?
Do dead people, who may have been dead for millenia, have to wait until the 19th century forward to ever be with their family forever? Does God not let loved ones be with loved ones when they die, except under that legalistic provision of a modern LDS temple ceremony?
Do living people need to baptize for dead people?
Is baptism (like sacrament) symbolic? (or literal)
Why has the temple ceremony changed over time?
a) "Oath of Vengeance" (to avenge the blood of JS) -- removed in early 1900s
b) "Blood Oath" (to cut your own throat, sign made of thumb across neck) if you reveal the temple ceremony -- removed in 1990 (sign, but language remained)
c) Women covenanting directly with God (used to covenant w/their husbands, who covenanted w/God) -- changed in 2019. By nature before, a woman was incomplete w/out the man
d) there used to be a "Protestant Choir" (temple patrons as live actors) singing protestant songs led by a protestant preacher (a temple patron actor) as part of the endowment ceremony. It was a jab at protestants and the idea of "we're the right way."
e) women no longer having to veil their faces (2019)
f) informed consent elements entering (pre-endowment video) added in 2023
Is God omnipotent? if yes, then why does God need humans for the salvation of humans?
Were ancient temples performing celestial marriages, personal endowments and baptisms for the dead? (or where they blood sacrifice temples).
What Jesus the Sacrificial Lamb?
Why do Jews no longer have a temple? Why do they call synagogues their temple? ("I'm going to temple" is like saying I'm going to church).
What does Paul say about temples? (our bodies, our lives). Does Paul call the body of the church a temple?
What is the one sentence in the NT about baptisms for the dead? A: Paul was preaching resurrection to a city/group of people who didn't believe in Jesus' resurrection (the Church of Jerusalem, led by Jesus' brother James, Peter, and John) did not believe in Jesus' resurrection. The Essenes had a Mikvah type of ritualistic washing (like Elijah telling the king to go and wash 7x). Paul was saying in that NT scripture (read the whole chapter for context), "Look at those people that do baptisms for the dead, even they believe in resurrection." Paul wasn't advocating for baptizing for dead people, he was referencing a group of early Christians practicing it, saying even they believe in resurrection.
If Paul thought baptisms for the dead were necessary, you can bet he would have preached for the practice (not just referenced it saying, even those people who practice baptisms for the dead, believe in resurrection). Paul was a lawyer, a Sadducee, and highly passionate and articulate -- he would have preached for baptisms for the dead (and polygamy) if he thought is was what Jesus had taught.
Joseph was likely speculating about that one scripture in the entire Bible that mentions baptisms for the dead (mentions it, doesn't preach for it), and Joseph prefaces in D and C that he was pondering about his brother Alvin, who did not receive baptism (the protestant and Catholic view of the time is you'd go to hell w/out it) -- and that's what he came up with.
4) the church is building smaller temples to promote what it wants: "worthy," temple-recommend holding members (tithe payers, active in church, keeping the rules). temples also require a lot of volunteers. A religion needs an icon and place of spiritual significance. the church will promote temples more and more, as the necessary ordinances to get to heaven and the only way to be together forever (what is stronger psychological sauce than your family?) Temples are extremely beautiful, like the conference center or tabernacle, like cathedrals, they naturally imbue awe and wonder -- man's noble monuments as an ode to God. But does God want a $50m building with "Holiness To The Lord" enscribed on it? What did Jesus do at the expensive Herodian temple? What did Jesus teach us to the answer to the question, "wherein have we served you Lord," and he answered, "when you've served the least of mankind" (the marginalized). Our lives in serving the poor, in being devoted to the marginalized - are the key. there is no litearlism, no absolutism (handshakes and secret rites) -- there is a Lived Walk With God.
Discernment questions to ask yourself: What is the relationship between Masonic temple ceremony and LDS temple ceremony? Is there correlation to a secret temple ceremony where the entrant covenants to cut his/her own throat if they divulge the secret, and Joseph and the leaders secretly practicing polygamy? Does God need humans to save humans? Is God not omnipotent? Is baptism symbolic or literal? Can we only make promises to God in an LDS temple? are our lives themselves our covenant with God? why is there only one mention (not preaching for) of baptisms for the dead in the Bible? Do we need underwear with Masonic symbols sewn into them to remind us to live with virtue? Is there a literal protection in that underwear? What interest does the church have in building smaller temples in more areas?
Were you asked inappropriate questions in "worthiness" interviews by your Mormon Bishop? See more answers about 'Were you asked inappropriate questions in "worthiness" interviews by your Mormon Bishop?'
Confession is a misconception (there is only 1 scripture in the NT that infers it), it's Catholic and LDS in tradition -- and it's so dangerous.
We have untrained bishops, feeling they are inspired, listening to people's deepest, darkest situations, follies, fears and missteps, giving advice (and often therapy/counseling).
We don't need a human to pronounce us "worthy." It's control. Untrained men asking inappropriate questions, what could go wrong? :) All should be welcomed in Christ's sacrament. Confession is putting a man between a person and God.
Why does Utah have laws that protect clergy from reporting child abuse if it comes up in confession/conversation with a member?
Why does the church have an 800# that bishops must call when they have a member tell them of child abuse, and why is that # staffed by the church's law firm? Is the law firm focused on the victims, or on protecting the church?
Have you read about the AZ lawsuit and the investigative reports?
What do you feel or know about the church's history/beliefs with race and the Priesthood? See more answers about 'What do you feel or know about the church's history/beliefs with race and the Priesthood?'
Other churches had issues w/racism as well, but the LDS church still has not apologized. I'm impressed though that the Gospel Topics Essay does say (pulls up shy of apologizing) that the beliefs once taught (curse of Cain, curse of Ham, less worth pre-existence) are no longer doctrine or taught (they were taught by BY and other prophets and apostles -- those where the contemporary worldviews of the time).
I respect the Community of Christ, a restoration branch (Emma and many stayed behind in Nauvoo, mainly over the issue of polygamy), which gave blacks the right to have the priesthood in 1865, and gave women the right to have the priesthood in 1984, and all members (regardless of sexual orientation) the right in 2003.
In 1978 the LDS church was being threatened by the IRS, under authority of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with their tax-exemption status. missedinsunday.com/category/memes/race/
Why did apostles, right through the 1960s, say that the church's stand and priesthood racial prohibition would never be lifted?
What did ETB say about the Civil Rights Act (CRA) of 1964? (he said it was a communist ploy to overthrow America).
Are you familiar with the IRS starting to seize church assets in the years before 1978, secondary to the statutory authority of the CRA of 1964.
Are you familiar with BYU sports getting boycotted prior to 1978 by some teams, and sit-ins by fans at some road games, for the church being racists?
Why has the church never apologized for racial prohibition of blacks from temples and priesthood?
Did God change his mind in 1978? Or had social progress and laws caught up with the church?
Is the church led by 15 older men? As such, will there always be a tendency to be behind the times socially?
How many other churches have progressed socially and no longer tout non-LGBTQ inclusion? It's the LDS church (and a minority of evangelical churches) who are doubling down on LGBTQ, e.g. DHO in 2022 Oct GC said "It is an irrevocable decree." Sounds similar to the 1960s comments of apostles on racial prohibition.
Do you see correlations socially of the church's position on polygamy, on racial prohibition, and on LGBTQ non-inclusion? 2 of those 3 things changed over time, and the church will continue to soften its LGBTQ stance in the coming decades, just as it did on polygamy and racism (excluding a group of people based on the color of their skin). The church can't apologize or admit it's wrong though, which is what troubles me. It's sad and understandable that our institutions make cardinal mistakes -- but the LDS church has a self-made mystique that its Divinely-inspired (and therefore ego does not permit them to apologize). DHO made a comment eg in 2006 (approx, with regards to Mountain Meadows Massacre), that "the church is not in the business of issuing apologies." If we don't acknowledge the mistakes of our past, how can we learn from them? (nothing to see here, just move on, don't ask questions, we'll never know why it was the way it was, everything is good, the white telephone is still in place, please continue paying your tithing and bearing your testimony that God only has one true church).
What do you feel or know about mormon polyandry practices? See more answers about 'What do you feel or know about mormon polyandry practices?'
Most LDS members (including me until1.5 years ago), don't know that Joseph was married to between 10-12 women who were already married to other men (polyandry).
The church in its Gospel Topics Essay (early 2010s) acknowledges this, but they say it was likely just "spiritual wifery: (no sex). Are we to believe that 25-33% of Joseph's wives were just spiritual sealings (no sex)?
The LDS women who gave affidavits in the 1870s and 1880s for the Temple Lot case (when polygamy was okay in the church), testified though of full marital relations. Further, sex was the practice of polygamous marriages of Joseph's contemporaries, e.g. HS, BY, HCK, JT, etc.
I know people in the Denver Snuffer restoration movement, and some older-oriented folks in th RLDS tradition, who claim that polygamy, nor polyandry, was practiced by Joseph Smith and they cite as evidence that there are no known offspring.
My thoughts on denying Joseph's offspring are:
1) if women were married to other men while in sexual relations with Joseph (the LDS church in its essay acknowledges 10-12 women were polyandrous relationships), do you think those women, especially at that time, would have admitted to the baby being any other than their husband's? Recall that polygamy was secretive until 1852 in Utah, and many of these women were sworn to secrecy in the temple endowment ceremony (existed until 1990).
2) there was one account of a dying woman telling her daughter (in Utah) that her father was Joseph Smith
3) paternity tests for that many generations removed, are not reliable in the way familial tests are (tests for generations back more show the area of origin)
4) abortions were possible. Sarah Pratt claimed that John C. Bennett was performing abortions. Pratt described the instrument Bennett may have used: “a pretty long instrument of a kind I had never seen before. It seemed to be of steel and was crooked at one end.” Bennett was a trained obstetrician and presumably would have had the knowledge of how to abort a pregnancy. Hyrum Smith testified in 1842 that Bennett assuaged the fears of the women he seduced by promising: “He would give them medicine to produce abortions, providing they should become pregnant.
Polygamy did not just end in 1890 with WW's Manifesto.
a) there were two more manifestos, into the late 1910s
b) polygamous marriages and families still continued (there was no dissolution of families)
c) President JFS had 12 children by polygamous wives after 1890, and while President of the church. JFS was charged with Unlawful Cohabitation and he paid a fine (no jail time), while he was President of the church.
d) Fundamentalist groups continue until today, and if you believe that John Taylor (third president) was a prophet, you'll want to see the document in his own hand (an LDS Church Historian office verified it), ordaining three men (in an all-day meeting at a Centerville home) to continue the practice. Taylor had said publicly that the practice should never end (in his tenure men were going to federal jail.
Did God change His mind, or was the church under legal and financial pressure?
a) this is what WW spoke of in his 1890 Manifesto to end the practice
b) men were being imprisoned for bigamy, evading suspicion by having multiple homes and back entrances and cloaking their identities. My mom has a wood doll in her collection, carved by a polygamist in jail in the 1880s (that diddy will be the estate sale --for sure!)
c) there were three anti-bigamy acts from the 1850s to 1880s, the last of which being the Edmunds-Tucker Act, where Congress empowered the judicial and administrative branches to seize assets of the Mormon church if it did not discontinue the practice
d) the church hired a law firm in San Francisco, which drafted the Manifesto and placed church assets into the protection of The Corporation of the CoJCoLDS (the same, official church registered today)
e) Wilford Woodruff was right, and it was a type of plea he was making with men of the time, as it had become so doctrinally and culturally engrained into Mormon society (what can be more sacred than your family, and the heavy-drum beating (it was the main doctrine of its day) of BY and JT. BY taught you can't get to highest heaven w/out it, that it was eternal, that you are an Adam of an earth with it and each wife becomes the Eve of that earth. heavy, crazy stuff.
If we believe in being subject to laws, why was polygamy practiced at all?
a) anti-bigamy laws were on the books in most states as early as 1830s, and in Canada and Mexico in the 1850s and 60s (when Mormon Deseret Colonies were started).
a) there also were statutory rape laws (girls under 18) on the books in many states. Joseph had a number of younger wives, two were 14 -- and yes it would have been considered highly uncouth for a 37 year old man to marry a 14-year old girl.
b) Reed Smoot was a Utah Senator and he had to go under congressional trial, and WW the same, to declare that the practice had ended (but it didn't really until the 1910s, there were two apostles still doing marriages in Canada and Mexico, and some reports in the US).
c) the church (JFS) issued a Second, and then Third Manifesto (we only have the First, WW's in 1890) in the 1900s and 1910s. Where WW's manifesto is more of a plea not a commandment (he's reasoning with the men of what will happen if the practice continues), JFS' were more by way of commandment and penalties of excommunication. Two LDS apostles were excommunicated in the 1910s for polygamy.
d) the practice continues today in FLDS, although state and county AG offices have never really enforced anti-bigamy. The biggest action came in 2010s when Utah AG rightly disbanded an FLDS trust (law of consecration), where members were required to put their homes into the trust (a way Warren could control people).
When you read the journal entries and accounts of the women, when you try and put yourself in the victims' shoes -- you stop justifying a wrong practice. You see patterns of grooming (Joseph deeding plots of land next to his mansion before he'd approach the woman in marriage). Joseph saying things like, "What's wrong in one circumstance can be made right in another, but secrecy is needed."
Polygamy was a custom of the oldest times of the OT, it wasn't commanded and it wasn't a practice by NT times. Yes kings (David, Solomon) and sultans have had harems -- does that make it from God? If polygamy was a religious practice in Jesus' time, the temple pharisees and sadducees would have been all about that! In fact, anti-polygamy credos were adopted in early Christianity at the Council of Trent (it's not a religious Judeo-Christian practice!) Dang straight a patriarchal world of history would have used religious polygamy for its benefit (only kings and sultans had that haram-hankering authority!)
JS taught against it publicly: T and S articles, and most remarkably for me you can read the former D and C (1835 ed) 101:4 (removed by BY), which said "marriage should be between one man and one woman."
Joseph though privately practiced polygamy (along with his brother and other church leaders), and he privately preached it (Council of 50 minutes).
It is wholly incongruous with a rightful man of upstanding character to publicly preach against something so vile as polygamy, yet privately practice and preach for it. Was this b/c an angel of God threatened Joseph with a sword? Was he a reluctant participant? Why would Joseph go to the grave for things he publicly preached, but not stand up for something so significant? Was there a reason Joseph had the Council of 50 sent men to negotiate with Sam Houston and the new independent Republic of Texas, and why they were looking for land in the Oregon and Mesican (Great Basin) territories? (they wanted to live outside of the restrictive laws of the US - that's the other side of the story, it wasn't just religious persecution, and would polygamy not be something to be persecuted for?)
Rebuttals to apologist (excuse) Claims made by the church (prior), or in our folklore of soothing myth:
a) "Polygamy was needed b/c there were so many widows." You can look at census and church record data, and documentation of massacres, and see there were equal men and women. Birth rates were not different then, nor were death rates. The largest # of Mormon lives lost was Haun's Mill, where 8 souls lost their lives (12 were men and boys). Even if it were true that there were many female widowers, widows can be cared for w/out polygamy.
b) "Polygamy was needed to get the church procreation up, we wouldn't have survived with numbers without it!" Fact: the gestational period for a human child was and is 40-weeks. women don't procreate faster if they have a polygamous husband.
c) "Less than 5 percent of church members practiced polygamy." Facts: yes, and who were those male church members practicing polygamy? (A: they were male leaders). What does that say about the practice? And, it was likely by the end much higher than that. There is a sad/funny quote by HCK talking about the disdain for stake presidents choosing the prettiest of girls, and how the apostles need to have a "fair shake."
These are apologetic soothing stories we tell ourselves. It's uncomfortable for a reason.
The legacy of polygamy includes:
a) FLDS: Warren Jeffs, SoUT, prarie dresses
b) UAB: including Cody Brown's family from the TLC tv series "Sister Wives" mainstream, modern dress
c) other fundamentalist groups that broke apart, a lot of schismatic stuff and murders (Singer-Swap) in the 80s, and more breakoffs of families now from FLDS now that Warren Jeffs is in jail until chance of parole in his 90s for ritualistic rape, including consummating a marriage on a temple alter with his apostles and other wives as sacred witnesses (absolutely sickening)
d) murders of Brenda Lafferty and her daughter in 1984 by her brothers-in-law, who were inspired by fundamentalist teachings and original church Blood Oath doctrines (that LDS temple oath was discontinued in the early 1900s).
LDS folks like to carte blanche disclaim FLDS folks, but it is the same root and legacy of polygamy, it is the same practice, and you can read comments by Warren Jeffs w/out attribution and think you're reading something from BY. If you believe John Taylor was a prophet or correct in his views on polygamy, the fundamentalists have a great document to stand on (validated by late 20th century LDS History Office historian). Polygamy is sadly OUR legacy --and religious polygamy is absolutely, without question, a male abuse of women.
I'm fine with polygamous relationships if that's a person's relational choice -- but I am not okay w/religious polygamy, it's abuse of women.
Did God change his mind on polygamy and race-based priesthood and temple bans -- or was it manmade error?
a) the latter type of things tend to implode over time.
b) polygamy is the low-point example, the stain, of the LDS history.
c) it is uncomfortable for a reason, and it can't be explained away when you learn the facts, and try and see things from the victim's view.
The church can't gaslight and hide the topic forever, or people who value common consent and transparency such as me, will leave the church.
The LDS church still practices spiritual polygamy:
a) the doctrine is still held that the highest degree of the celestial kingdom is where eternal procreation takes place and where spiritual polygamy exists
b) a man can still be sealed in the temple to more than one woman, 1) in cases of being a widow,
c) in (some) cases of temple divorce.
Many people would have wanted Joseph dead, including Masons (for lifting their temple rites, they had a Blood Oath consequence), and husbands, fathers, brothers of the 30-40 women with whom Joseph was married (yet publicly preached against and denied). 24 of Joseph's wives came in the last 24 months of his life. Nauvoo wasn't the zionic experience portrayed in LDS history, it was a time of polygamy, Masonry, it's when an army was built, a time when the mayor (JCB) was ousted for polygamy, a time when the RS sisters signed a statement blaming polygamy on JCB and claiming JS's innocence in the matter, a time when JS became the sole trustee of the church and he resold plots and lands, and deeded plots near his mansion to his wives, etc. Polygamy had run its course in Nauvoo, it was a small town and neighboring towns (Warsaw, Quincey, Carthage) heard of it.
It wasn't all righteous-religion that caused JS' death as we were taught -- it was neighbors (and those internally in the church, as manifested by those who stayed behind and didn't go west) fearful of polygamy. Would neighboring towns be concerned by polygamy among LDS church leaders? would Masons be ticked at Joseph's replication of their temple rite (with its Death Oath if one were to speak of the secret rites outside of the Masonic temple)? Would neighboring towns be concerned that the leader of that religion had a Council of 50 whose stated purpose was to set up a theocratic government on earth, to supplant all other governments? (treason). Would neighboring towns be concerned that the new religion had formed a Nauvoo Legion, which was second in size to the US Army?
Issues are multiple and nuanced (vs the reductionist version I was taught that we are the "one true church and Satan's hand was stirring everyone up against us").
Apologetics (soothing things we were taught, as if if justifying of what happened) ... are by
nature overly-simplified and one-sided.
The truth is usually in the space in-between, where there is multiple factors of culpability. Evidence is evidence -- and it can't be apologized or ignored away, or felt away. History is messy stuff. Our heroes often have cardinal flaws. Our sacred stories are often nuanced.
I absolutely see polygamy as male abuse of women. I think Joseph was on a tear, 24 wives in 24 of his last months. I think Joseph abused his power (read the women's accounts and affidavits while in the protection of later-Utah, they're still revealing). I think Joseph used "revelation" to cover his tracks (Emma later reported that she first "caught him in the act" in Kirtland with Fanny Alger, which the LDS church justifies by recording her as Joseph's first polygamous wife). I think in the end Joseph knew he'd opened an awful pandora's box (a friend recorded something he said as to such). In the end, it was Joseph's greatest problem, and the church's biggest black eye.
It wouldn't be as long-lasting if the church would just acknowledge the practice as problematic, but the LDS church likes to keep the myth around the men, the myth, the legends (pay no attention to history, original documents or anything but your Sunday manual). And, the LDS church, as President Oaks said, "Is not in the business of apologizing." Lastly problematic for the church, it still holds the doctrine up (it hasn't denounced polygamy in the celestial kingdom), and it still practices spiritual polygamy (men can be sealed to more than one woman). So yeh, abuse of women, abuse of power, both then and now.
What is the Word of Wisdom? See more answers about 'What is the Word of Wisdom?'
Pamphlets from the Cleveland Temperance Society were in the Kirtland area and you can see almost exact replica wording (Joseph's pattern to borrow from publications of the time) to the WoW "revelation."
You can read "Means of Preserving Health, And Preventing Disease" from 1806 and see where it says, "Avoid the excessive use of hot drinks such as coffee, chocolate and tea, particularly the last."
While the men socialized they often did so with whiskey and tobacco, and the women with coffee and tea. It's clear from Whitney's statement that Emma complained to Joseph about the nasty spittle on the floors, and it's clear that BY made a comment much later in the 1850s that, "If men are to give up their whiskeys and tobacco, women are to give up their coffees and teas."
BY owned the whiskey distillery in SLC and it was recorded by travelers to be a strong whisky, called "Valley Tan." The church owned the vineyard and press (the building is still there) in Laverkin, and the bottles were called "Dixie Wine." A bottle was placed by BY and Erastus Snow in a box encased in the SE corner of the stonework with coins, records, newspapers, a sliver plate, and a bottle of Dixie Wine!
The LDS church regulates every aspect of your life, including the temperature of your caffeine and you underwear! It really could attract more members if it eased up on hot caffeine! Tea is good, mild barley drinks (beer) are fine and the WoW actually says that, and alcohol by itself is not harmful, it's like anything -- moderation is the key. I will say spot-on, good on ya on tobacco for the WoW forbidding that, that is no bueno, and good in moderation (I get meat sweats if I eat too much)!
Does God care what you eat and drink? Or is food and beverage about moderation?
Does God really care about the temperature of your caffeine?
Does God have an opinion about herbal (vs black) tea?
Does God condone the plethora soda/cookie shops in Utah? My daughter worked at Fizz here in St George, I joked w/her that she was working at the Mormon Coffee Shop!
The LDS church tries to regulate everything in your life, from the temperature of your caffeine to your underwear! :)
The temperance movement was alive and well in 1830s US, and as we've learned from 1920s prohibition and from religious experience, when you make something illegal or verbotten, it just leads to over-interest and over-use of it (kids often go nuts in college). Yin and yang, don't push too much on one side or an equal force will attract -- walk the middle path. I've told my daughters, drink for social occasions and to have fun (to celebrate) (not the opposite), but drink in moderation (no reason to ever lose control in excess), and be responsible in all that you do. Make good choices.
Coffee, tea, bear -- these have become faith-tests and worthiness-signals in the LDS church and culture. You can be judged quicker for ordering coffee than for other "sins." Coffee a sin, really? it's a very external-type of religion socially, as Mormons have a ward congregation (in Utah that can be 4-5 blocks wide and long), and it's a very socially-active faith (youth groups, adult parties, Relief Society, Elder's Quorum, etc.). There's kind of a hierarchy of sins in Mormon culture, where alcohol and tobacco are right out, pornography is worse than alcohol, etc.
The WoW has inconsistencies in what it says vs how its now observed, e.g. hot drinks (can drink hot chocolate but can't drink tea, even if cold, or coffee), e.g. mild barley drinks (WoW says they're okay, but in modern culture Mormons can't drink beer), e.g. only eat fruit in the season thereof (well it's okay now to eat whatever fruit in whatever season). e.g. somehow caffeine when I was growing up was deeply frowned upon (could get you judged by the neighbors!), but about mid to late 00s it informally became okay b/c BYU vending machines started selling regular Coke.
WoW was loosely followed until 1920s, e.g. BY had a whisky distillery, there was a church-owned winery in Laverkin and a bottle of Dixie Wine was placed in the time capsule of the cornerstone of the St George temple, JS had a bar in his Nauvoo mansion, he wrote in his journal about going to get a beer one night, etc. The WoW was 1830s frontier folk thinking and borrowed from the temperance pamphlet. (it's not an eternal, cosmic, absolutist thing!)
It's human nature to want to fit in and to be at the top of the caste -- and sadly that's what judging people by their drinks, does. (I literally used to look down on people that smoke or drink alcohol). I've heard people close to me derogatorily say, "They are beer drinkers." When my wife moved to Springville, UT in the 80s she wasn't initially allowed to play with a girl in the neighborhood, as her dad drank beer. It's really sad how people use their beliefs and make them into projections used for judging.
Moderation is a universal principle for healthy living.
What do you feel or know about the Mountain Meadows Massacre? See more answers about 'What do you feel or know about the Mountain Meadows Massacre?'
I live in Southern Utah and it pains me to feel the emotion of that area. I've spent time there to absorb. I've studied. The worst murder of white emigrants across the US, 120 men, women and children, were murdered by Mormons.
Apologetic claims on this are astounding and don't excuse MURDER. the (unarmed) men and boys were separated one mile from the women. On command the leader (President Haight) ordered "Fire" and the people dropped at point blank. there was coverup, excuses, the Paiutes were blamed by BY -- and ultimately only President Haight was hung by the US Marshalls, about 20-years later.
Haight was excommunicated at the time (this happened on 9/11/1857), but he had his temple work done in the 1960s and was reinstated by the church to full membership (excommunication rescinded).
People don't talk about it here. I got my hair cut the other day from a nice woman from Enterprise, she said she doesn't know much about it and nobody talks about it.
The LDS church built a monument in about 2007, and did not issue an apology, just said "deep regret." when President Oaks was asked why no apology he said, "The church is not in the business of issuing apologies, we just look forward." (that's not what primary kids are taught).
So, so sad. I feel the reverence when I'm there, and I've apologized in prayer there for the wrongs of my people (I have no relatives that I know of that were involved, but Mormons are my people, even if I've separated membership -- I have to own my truths).
What do you feel or know about the translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham? See more answers about 'What do you feel or know about the translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham?'
1) Diagrams 1 and 2 are found commonly in the Book of Breathings, which were papyri common to 2nd and 3rd century BCE (not Abraham's time of 4-5k BCE).
2) It's a 300-200 BCE papyri, we now that not just by the diagrams exactly matching others now commonly had in museums, but by the papyri itself. Fragments of the "Joseph Papyri" (as they were catalogued in Chicago, Emma having sold them to those curators) survived the Chicago Fire and were given to the St Louis Museum, which gave them to the Smithsonian, which gave them (1960s) to the LDS church. The Church History office was so convinced (as believing Mormons are and I used to be) that they were of ancient origin, and seeing this as a "proving" moment, that they had them examined. The results were as mentioned, circa 300-200 BCE and common diagrams found in other "Book of Breathings" (mummies were buried w/the papyri as a guide and instructions for the after life).
3) JS' translation of Diagrams 1 and 2 do not match modern Egyptologist's translations/consensus. Egyptologists today can walk into a tomb and read the hieroglyphs. The Rosetta Stone was the beginning of modern interpretation, as it had ancient Egyptian, ancient Greek and Demotic on it announcing the same thing. And more than 150 years of research later, modern Egyptologists know the ancient language. Are we to believe thousands of scholars around the world and living proof (the Rosetta Stone, etc.), or Joseph Smith, regarding the Diagrams?
At least with the BOM Joseph could claim the golden plates full of characters from a reformed language, were taken by an angel back to heaven -- so there's no way to prove or disprove such not-so-distant (400 AD) language. Although, Joseph did write a "Caractors" document, which was taken by Martin Harris to an Egyptologist of the time, Professor Anton, who declared them inauthentic. Mormons have perpetuated a myth that he tore up his certificate of authenticity when he found out they were from gold plates given to Joseph from an angel, but in fact Professor Anton is on record after that event, writing that such an assertion was false, that he had in fact said those characters were not ancient. Nonetheless, there is a contemporary replica of the "Caractors" document owned by the Community of Christ, who until 1980 wanted to prove the BOM was true; they gave copies (you can find it in a quick google search) to the LDS church and others -- and all Egyptologists agree, they are non-sensical, non-Egyptian-based caractors. researchgate.net/figure/…
The LDS church acknowledges the three items above in its Gospel Topics Essay, and offers the apologist view that Joseph used the papyri (which he'd obtained with the mummies) to channel a more ancient time and what Abraham would have wrote. Okay, that's interesting and I'm better with that version (but it's not openly taught, and they had to change the story to "he channeled Abraham, as the Diagrams and surviving Joseph Scrolls are disproven as ancient).
For reference, the oldest Torah scrolls only date to the First Temple period, 1.5-2k years later -- so Joseph's claim that the papyri were Abraham's writing -- would be absolutely incredible and wanted by Jews, Christians and Muslims -- who all claim Abraham.
4) JS also produced the GAEL alphabet, a means to translate ancient Egyptian to modern English. It is completely off to what modern Egyptologists know.
5) JS studied ancient Hebrew while in middle and late Kirtland years -- and while I'm sure JS was an intellectual giant, he made claims of ancient origin that weren't true, and his Hebrew wasn't the best (credit the man, he only learned for a couple years -- yet he was a seer?) eg The Hebrew word for "dog" is "כלב", which is pronounced "Keleb".Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, is officially known as "Alpha Canis Majoris," and informally known as "The Dog Star". i.e. "Kolob" was a bastardized word for "dog", and Kolob is Sirius.
Again w/scripture, BoA is like the BOM - not of ancient origin -- but what is scripture? does it have to be historical? Is what it teaches negated by a false, modern claim of ancient authenticity? I think the value of scripture is simply in the meaning of the stories.
If Joseph claimed the BOM was historical, and claimed the BoA was Abraham's writing, and Joseph was deliberately duped by locals on the Kinderhook plates. Does this make the work uninspired? The trouble Joseph had was overselling what he created; had he simply said it was inspired and channeled, there would be no critique. Now ironically, the church's Gospel Topic Essays take that route, to say that the BoA was inspired (as they can't defend historicity, those same diagrams exist commonly and they're from Egyptian catacombs of 2nd-3rd century BCE).
The BoA has some 1820s problems too, read what it says on race.
What did the Mormon religion bring to your life? See more answers about 'What did the Mormon religion bring to your life?'
Mormonism was good for me for the first portion of my life, it was a comfortable structure that taught me many good things. I came to a point where I realized that what the LDS church had taught me about church history, was an exercise in apologetics, that the truths of things were more nuanced.
I see Mormonism now with gratitude for what I learned, including that organized churches can really mess with a person's head and can hinder someone's growth (it can keep you from asking questions and exploring, making you believe there is only one path, and discouraging you from looking into history or from asking uncomfortable questions).
The truth is, truth stands up to light, and God loves us all (not one church, more). Our religious traditions are simply the product of where we are born, and there is something to learn from everyone.
I view organized religion as a lesson module I had for this lifetime. It's like having a past job where you learned a lot and dang it was hard, but you're grateful you had that learning. It was good, and it was bad -- and I'm grateful for the lessons I learned.
Religions are products of men's writing and speaking (good things get tinged), of myths that become sacred stories, of rites and rituals.
Religions embrace mythical stories, and that's fine to just embrace the meaning of the story.
Did 1 man, Noah, go all around the world to collect a male/female of every insect and animal, bring them back to his ship, and have the feed and sustainment and respective environments (tropical, sub-tropical, desert, mountain) to have all those critters survive for all those days? And, can a worldwide flood be shown to be geologically a thing (no, it wasn't). Or, do many ancient cultures, including the ancient Hebrew, have a passed-down lore of a deluge (likely b/c there was widespread flooding).
Did Moses part the Red Sea and did freed Hebrews walk 120 miles through that, then only 40 miles the next 40 years? Is there any historical record (Egyptians kept great records and monuments) of enslaved Hebrews? Or, were there some enslaved Hebrews (there is evidence around Alexandria) from the then 2 millenia prior, and did that narrative of finding their way to their homeland and building a temple, fit perfectly for the Babylonian captivity timeframe when the Books of Moses (scrolls) were written and the Jewish religion really came about?
The point on Noah and Moses is, these are stories of myth and legend, and the value is just the meaning in the story (turn to God). When we look at spiritual practices, it's only been 1800s forward that we've focused on literality (the evangelical movement really kicked it in) and historicity, thinking it has to be correlated to be true. To a Scandanavian living in middle ages, to a Polynesian, etc. all stories and legends are mythical and valuable for learning -- that's what stories teach us. We don't need to be so literal, so is or is not.
And so it is with the LDS church. If it works for you, fantastic! If you have questions, hopefully some of the questions I've posed here will help you think about things differently. If going from one church to another (I have a friend who went from LDS to Evangelical) works for you, great! If you choose to simply embrace spiritual practices, great! If you want to learn eastern ways of thinking (ground-up approach, vs top-down western approach), I can tell you it's really valuable, and I've actually come to see Jesus' teachings in harmony. If you have temple rites that work for you (Mormon, Hindu, Masonic, Buddhits, Shinto), great! If you have pagan rituals that remind you to be grounded and connected, that's great! The Universe is vast, and we are all a unique expression! Namaste: I celebrate and respect the Godly space in you, as you do in me (I don't see my beliefs and practices as better than yours).
God is Pure and Simple and we can commune Directly (no church, no 15 men, no prophet required :). The best prophets and sages teach the internal journey, and one'ness with God.
Do you think God cares how you call upon the many names? Or is it the intention of our heart? Is there one, right way to pray? Is there one, right way to hold our hands in prayer or meditation? I don't believe there is one, right way -- it's whatever works for you; and if there is "an iron rod" (BTW JS Senior had this dream and told his children about it, read Lucy Mack's autobigraphy where she recounts this, and note that the "tree of life" is a very common metaphor in many traditions). If there is one, right way (an iron rod), then the large and spacious building of people mocking/gaslighting is probably filled with religiously pious, dogmatic, and narrowly-elitist people (thinking they have the one, true church, just as the Zoramites did).
My life, brain and stress in my body -- are so much better off now. It takes time to process, but the key is not the mind -- it's just about observing energy and being one with it (I don't even need to release it, I just enjoy it). Life is contrast, each moment is beautiful, we all are beautiful. we become what we focus on and how we feel. Everything (thoughts, emotions, matter) is energy. Letting go of dogmatic narrowness, has helped me to see things for what they are, energies of expression (and the narrow ones based in fear).
God is the Infinite Teacher and Giver. We can learn from the sources we ask to learn from (religions, spiritual practices).
This long post is a kind of opus for me, a final chapter, a thanking and saying goodbye to an old friend, the LDS church. We move on from relationships when they no longer serve our good, and we thank them in respect for the joy we had while with them, and for what we learned from them.