Joseph’s Wives – an Algorithm

imageA few weeks ago I proposed that I would be blogging this year about Joseph’s plural wives and such matters. Then I got distracted.

I think we  should establish guidelines for the importance we attribute to different women as wives.

For now, we’ll accept women where there is documentation or oral tradition either from contemporaries or their descendants. I think this gives us a list of women that includes roughly 40 individuals.

I’d like to start, then, with each such woman having a score of 100% (or 1.0). Then as we consider various factors, that score may be decreased. If there are mitigating factors, a “penalty” may be reduced. Thus, as I go forward to talk about the various women, we can focus on those individuals whose “score” gives us greatest confidence that she is of import. This scoring matter can also give structure to the discussion of each woman. Continue reading

Faithful Joseph: A Digest

JosephI was recently discussing Nauvoo with an individual who appears inclined to believe that Joseph Smith was just a pervert. I referred them to my Faithful Joseph series, but they indicated that the initial bit they scanned made them think it was just a remix of Brian Hales 1 and the RLDS view. 2

This individual asked if I could assemble a Reader’s Digest version of my 29+ posts on the subject, which might inform without all the bothersome reading. This is that digest version.

I should note that this version tells the events chronologically, and does not therefore make it clear which evidentiary clues guided formation of this framework. Some other time I should write up why I argue that the “Joseph as sex fiend” framework is fundamentally flawed from an evidentiary and logical standpoint, including why I am not persuaded any of Joseph’s plural wives actually slept with him. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Brian Hales has been described as someone who has a hypothesis and is assembling the data to support that hypothesis. Brian has assembled a prodigious amount of information at his website josephsmithspolygamy.org.
  2. The traditional RLDS view was that Joseph and Emma fought polygamy, that Mormon polygamy originated with Brigham Young and various seducers Joseph denounced during the Nauvoo period, see in particular the writings of Richard and Pamela Price at restorationbookstore.org.

I am Not Resigned

rosesI just found out that a dear friend lost her Mother yesterday. This poem came to my mind and I wanted to share it. Interestingly (given that the last two posts were about doubt) I found this poem by reading Martin Gardner, the famous skeptic for Scientific American. Skeptic, though he was, he made a choice to believe in God. This poem became the basis for explaining his theistic worldview to others: He was not resigned.

Dirge without Music

by Edna St. Vincet Millay
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, — but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

No Doubt to Know

girlthomasTrying to find a way with Scriptural understanding to reconcile the honest search for Truth and the spiritual destructiveness of unbelief, I found that doubt is not a positive attribute. As described by prophets and the Lord Jesus Christ, doubt is the enemy of faith. Unbelief is slightly worse because of a more concrete condition of the mind and heart, but they are both related to each other. Doubt doesn’t lead to faith. It destroys it by leading to questioning everything; even miracles that we participate in by the Grace of God.

The one instance when doubt brought greater understanding was Acts 10:17 after Peter received his vision of the unclean animals. Religiously speaking, it was a weak doubt because he had complete confidence the vision was real. He simply wondered, “what this vision which he had seen should mean,” and pondered for an answer. His faith in the vision was rewarded with a missionary opportunity to baptise a gentile. He then realized in Acts 10:28 that, “it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” The use of the word “doubt” in this instance might be the wrong choice of words, when “wondered” might be more appropriate.

Despite modern definitions and meanings, to doubt is not the same as questioning. It is natural and even required by Scripture that we should question. No one can discover truth without inquiring with mind and spirit where it can be found. How we are to question is important to properly growing in faith. There is a form of action involved that goes beyond the intellectual curiosity. It reads in 1 Thes. 5:21 that believers should, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” As always, Jesus Christ explained how this is to be done while teaching at the Temple. His teachings became a source of astonishment to the people attending because he had no formal intellectual training. They asked him how he could know so much without the proper school education and he responded in John 7:16-17 that, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me,” and “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” He is teaching that the way to discern spiritual things is to follow what God has already taught. This idea is emphasized in verse 19 when he asks, “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?” Those who do not follow the basic teachings of God cannot comprehend deeper truths and will be stuck with their questions. Continue reading