Michael Hubbard MacKay and Nicholas J. Frederick give us a delightful volume discussing Joseph Smith’s seer stones, exploring a portion of Mormon history that was excised along with the mortal practice of plural marriage among the Saints.
Here’s the gist:
Joseph and seemingly most of his colleagues used stones to see things that were otherwise hidden. This included his age peers, respectable members of the local community, and noted Protestant church leaders. When Mormon missionaries traveled to England, they found individuals in England who were similarly using stones to see hidden things. See pp. 158-159.
The Bible has a tradition of prophets seeing things in various miraculous ways, such as visions and dreams. But the ways God used to convey his wisdom also included such methods as writing on walls. The authors include a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn of Belshazzar’s Feast (1636), where writing appeared on the wall of the temple and was interpreted by the prophet Daniel (p. 119). The Bible also includes discussion of items used for divination or to see hidden things (the Urim and Thummim, the white stone John mentions in Revelation). Continue reading
I don’t spend much time reading many Mormon blogs. The primary reason is that it is a depressing exercise. Don’t get me wrong — even some of the worst Mormon blogs have occasional pearls from people extolling their positive church experiences. But such jewels usually receive few comments and little traffic.
The three primary themes of the Mormon blog world are 1)the writers are smarter/better informed/more moral/more up-to-date than the leaders of the Church or 2)the writers are much more righteous than “conservative” or “TBM” Mormons 3)Most Church members are judgmental hicks (unlike the blog writers, of course, who are tolerant and understanding and filled with love for everybody — except for the people they really hate, ie, the other Church members). And, really, if I wanted to spend my time reading that I could always go to some anti-Mormon web site someplace and read the same thing.
I am sadly forced to report that many Mormons who write on Mormon blogs appear to be obsessed with the faults of their fellow Saints and show no real charity toward people they should love. The examples are too numerous to mention, and I am not going to give links to any of these blogs because I don’t think people should be reading them. But in researching this post I looked up the most recent output from about a dozen on-line Mormon blogs, and I found out that people who go to Church are “country club Mormons” who hate gay people, want to oppress women and are overly concerned with what other people wear. In addition, the prophets are old and out of touch, and the Church used to be better a few decades ago. And the Church is really, really bad these days because it does not agree with all of the secular trends that the cool people like.
My advice is: don’t read these blogs. But if you are one of these people who do read those blogs I would like to give you another perspective. This perspective comes from somebody who converted to the Church almost two decades ago, and has gone to church in Brazil, Miami and Colorado, where I live now. I have also visited wards literally all over the world when traveling. Because of my callings over the years, I have gotten to know hundreds of people who were inactive or who left the Church for one reason or another. And I have obviously gotten to know thousands of members. Please keep in mind that as a member of a bishopric and a high councilor, I have had detailed discussions with people about many different issues.
- I can’t recall ever meeting at Church a latter-day Saint who ever expressed a serious concern over the “patriarchy” or the Church’s position on same-sex attraction. I have met people who had questions about polygamy or the Church’s position on blacks and the priesthood. I have met people with questions about the all-male priesthood and the Church’s position on same-sex issues, but none of these people had serious concerns.
I was delighted to learn that the Fort Collins temple was holding an open house while we would be traveling through Colorado. Thank you M*!
It’s been a while since I’d gone through a temple open house. I think the most recent experience for me was the open house for the Nauvoo temple over a decade ago. Things are mostly the same, but slightly different. And I had delightful experiences talking with those not of our faith during my visit to Fort Collins. Continue reading
I was pleasantly surprised when Deseret Book asked me if I would read and review a new children’s book. I have never reviewed a children’s book before, but was excited to try my hand at it. While my own children are now exiting their 30s, I recently was promoted off the High Council and into a Primary class, so feel adeptly qualified to give my impressions on all things related to very short people.
McArthur Krishna and Bethany Brady Spalding give us a promising and thoughtful book, “Our Heavenly Family, Our Earthly Families”. The artwork is done by Caitlin Connelly. Continue reading
Book Review: Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones
We live in a great time for Church history. The Church has opened their archives to create the Joseph Smith Papers Project. It now has official statements on controversial historical and doctrinal issues. It is embracing the Internet. It is now dealing with the skeletons that have been trying for decades to escape its archival closet.
With the new openness to history, the Church recently published a photograph and basic information regarding one of Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones (Ensign, Oct 2015, https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/10/joseph-the-seer?lang=eng )
There clearly is a continued interest and need for a more thorough discussion of Seer Stones and Joseph Smith. Were there more than one? What is the provenance of these stones? How did Joseph use them? How important were the stones? What about magic and money digging? Continue reading