Note: There be spoilers here. Ye have been warned.
In the Marvel comic world a few decades ago, a Civil War broke out among the superheroes. For the sake of national security, SHIELD (under Tony Stark) has decided that all superheroes should release their true identities, along with other key initiatives that increase security and safety at the cost of individual liberties. Captain America (Steve Rogers) leads the fight against this, soon turning into a Civil War between superheroes. When an innocent bystander dies in front of Capt America, he realizes that he cannot continue a battle that would ostensibly kill millions of innocents. So, he surrenders, only to be murdered while in handcuffs. Behind all of this shenanigans is Captain America’s old nemesis from WW2, the Red Skull and his secret organization, Hydra. They get their name from the mythological Greek monster, where if you cut off its head, two more will grow in its place. Continue reading →
About three years ago I made a pledge to hand out 12 Books of Mormon a year. I have more than met that goal. I would estimate I have handed out more than 45 Books of Mormon over the last three years.
Now to be fair to readers, I should point out that I travel all over the world and bring Books of Mormon with me. Only about a dozen or so of the books I have handed out (four a year) are to people near where I live. The vast majority have been to acquaintances in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Panama, the UK and Hong Kong whom I have met over the years. A lot of them have been taxi drivers.
Random thought number one: the plural is Books of Mormon, not Book of Mormons. (If you have seen “The Best Two Years,” there is a funny scene regarding this that I tried to link, but I could not find it on Youtube).
Random thought number two: if you want to hand out Books of Mormon, you must bring them with you when you go someplace. Stop reading this right now and go put a Book of Mormon in your car or your briefcase or your purse or your backpack. If you do not have a Book of Mormon, you can either get one from the missionaries or order them on-line here. I cannot emphasize this enough: go put a Book of Mormon someplace so you can hand it out.
Random thought number three: I have encountered a LOT more atheists lately than I remember from a decade ago. Has anybody else noticed this trend? My experiences do not count as a scientific survey, but the average person seems to have migrated from “I am spiritual and believe in the value of religion but don’t go to Church” or “I am Catholic” to “I don’t believe in a God that would allow people to suffer on the Earth.” I am amazed at how many people openly claim to be atheist. Is this a sign of the times?
Back on October 29, 2011, I wrote a post attempting to summarize the “Theological Liberal” narrative “as it saw itself” and therefore tried to write about it in a wholly positive way as best I could.
But that post really only touched on the points of Liberal Theology that are considered the most positive aspects and are typically trotted out for public consumption.
As I did this post on John Dehlin, the thought occurred to me that my understanding of Liberal Theology came substantially from my time at Mormon Matters. The three biggest influences were Clay Whipkey and John Hamer – the two “open” theological liberals that didn’t mind talking about their beliefs – and John Dehlin himself, who is not as open, but not exactly closed either. John, in particular, pointed me to Karen Armstrong’s book, which taught me quite a bit. (See also my comprehensive response to her book.) Continue reading →
[This post is part of a series on Joseph Smith's Polygamy. To read from the beginning or link to previously published posts, go to A Faithful Joseph.]
Vilate Murray [Kimball] (Daughters of Utah Pioneers)
There are various stories recounting that Joseph told men to give their wives to him. Alternately, there are instances where a woman who was married to another man then entered into a covenant relationship with Joseph Smith.
For the moment we will deal with events that appear to have occurred prior to January 1843. In my prior post, The Angel, the Sword, and the Heron Seduction, I discussed Joseph covenanting with three women who were married to other men. These ladies were Zina Diantha Huntington [Jacobs], Presendia Huntington [Buell], and Mary Elizabeth Rollins [Lightner]. DNA analysis of descendants shows none of the children these women birthed 1 is actually related to Joseph Smith. Therefore it is reasonable to speculate that these “marriages” were ceremonial in nature. Joseph’s “marriage” to the Huntington sisters appears to have been partially based on the command from the angel with the sword and partially inspired by Dimick Huntington’s desire to link the Huntington family to Joseph Smith in eternity. Mary Elizabeth Rollins’ “marriage” to Joseph was based on the command from the angel with the sword and the urgency caused by Joseph’s early fears about the seductions taking place in Nauvoo.
In 1842, Joseph “marries” four additional women who are already married:
Sylvia Sessions [Lyon],
Patty Bartlett [Sessions],
Elizabeth Davis [Goldsmith Brackenbury Durfee], and
Sarah Maryetta Kingsley [Howe Cleveland].
As discussed in Wives of Sorrow, it appears these women acted as detectives during the hunt for the men seducing women in Nauvoo. These “marriages” then were a combination of Joseph teaching the correct doctrine and swearing these women to secrecy in pursuit of the men and women teaching or believing false doctrine about the nature of marriage and sexuality.
By summer 1842 Bennett had been exposed as ring-leader of the sexual predators. Bennett counter-attacked Joseph in the press, claiming Joseph was the one who had been propositioning women. As with all the most effective lies, there was a kernel of truth. Joseph had been talking with women about the New and Everlasting Covenant. However Joseph’s aim does not appear to have been the easy sex Bennett and his ring of Strikers had elicited from the hapless women of Nauvoo. This easy sex was the kind of sexual misconduct Bennett was accusing Joseph of seeking. Bennett supported his assertion by telling a story alleging Joseph had made improper advances to Sarah Pratt, wife of his apostle, Orson Pratt.
Bennett’s tale about Sarah Pratt would prove a double-edged sword for the apostles in Joseph’s church, as well as their wives. Continue reading →
Obviously DNA analyses are only possible for those children who lived long enough to have children themselves. However those wishing to imagine Joseph as a sexual partner to these women are left with no data to support their hypothesis. ↩