Seeing Joseph


I’m pushing out a new edition of Reluctant Polygamist soon and decided to revisit the image of Joseph on my cover.

My concept was to overlay my altered image of Joseph’s face (the image on the right) onto the death mask, allowing some of the texture of the death mask to provide nuance to the image.

But when I showed the result to my husband (without informing him what I’d done), his comment was “the head looks too big for the body.”

This had nothing to do with my update, but everything to do with how I’d originally attempted to correct the proportions of the painted image.

I went back to the drawing board. This time I scaled the death mask to see how much I could get it to align with the existing image, rather than presuming I had to move everything on the face to align with the death mask (as proposed by Lorie Winder 1 ).

It turned out that the original image I was working from (see the pretty face on the left above) aligned with the brows, eye centers, lips, and chin. The only thing that didn’t line up was the tip of the nose.

The nose on the original image is noticeably petite, so it never occurred to me that it could be too long. I shifted the tip away from the lips, towards the eyes, and underlaid the death mask. The result is what you see in the middle.


  1. Winder, Lorie, “In Search of the Real Joseph Smith,” Sunstone, issue 24, Nov/Dec 1980, p. 31.

#BecauseOfHim & Preparing for Easter General Conference

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week for the Christian world. There is so much to think about and to contemplate as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I served my mission in Bulgaria. On Easter morning, or Velik Den — the Great Day, in Bulgarian, the Bulgarians go to church and greet each other by saying, “Christ has Risen!” The person then answers back, “Indeed, He truly has risen!” I love greeting my ward friends this way on Easter morning — they’re slowly joining the tradition with me.

This year the Church is promoting the #BecauseOfHim media campaign. You can go to to find videos, pictures, and insights to read and then share with your family and friends. The focus with the campaign this year is, “How will you change, #BecauseOfHim?” That question has so many possibilities for each of us as individuals, in our families and in our communities. It’s safe to say that in most corners of society there is division and strife. We can help to eliminate that strife in our own spheres of influence by learning about our Savior, and then using His patterns of behavior and interactions with people, in our behavior and interactions with others.

We also have the great opportunity this Easter to hear from the leaders of the Church this weekend during General Conference. We also will have the opportunity to participate in a solemn assembly to sustain Pres. Russell M. Nelson as the new president of the church. We will also be able to sustain two new members of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, in addition to the other apostles, and church leaders. A week ago I posted a meme on The Millennial Star’s Facebook page with a quote from Elder Uchtdorf which said, “Whatever we seek, that we will surely find.” I think it’s really easy to find voices critical of the church online at this point — too easy. Those voices seem to dominate the narrative about Mormons in the media and in the general chatter that exists in social media. My hope is that we will reject these voices and look toward, and listen to the leaders of the church for guidance and for the answers to our questions and prayers. If we approach General Conference with questions, the Lord will provide the answers in the talks, from the mouths of His called and chosen servants. Let’s listen to them. Let’s hearken to their words, and then go and do the things the Lord commands for the next six months.

Debauching the Innocent

In March 1842 Joseph Smith wrote to the Relief Society, 1 asking the women to “be trusted with some important matters that ought actually to belong to them to see to, which men have been under the necessity of seeing to…”

Joseph and the others who signed the letter wished the women’s help to “prevent iniquitous characters from carrying their iniquity into effect…”

There were men claiming to “have authority from Joseph, or the First Presidency, or any other Presidency of the Church; and thus, with a lie in their mouth, deceive and debauch the innocent,…”

Joseph maintained that “no such authority ever has, ever can, or ever will be given to any man, and if any man has been guilty of any such thing, let him be treated with utter contempt, and let the curse of God fall on his head, and let him be turned out of Society as unworthy of a place among men, & denounced as the blackest & the most unprincipled wretch; and finally let him be damned!”

“you are authoriz’d on the very first intimation of the kind, to denounce them as such, & shun them as the flying fiery serpent, whether they are prophets, Seers, or revelators; Patriarchs, twelve Apostles, Elders, Priests, Mayers, Generals, City Councillors, Aldermen, Marshalls, Police, Lord Mayors or the Devil, are alike culpable & shall be damned for such evil practices; and if you yourselves adhere to anything of the kind, you also shall be damned.”

The Case of the MTC President

In recent days a recording has emerged in which a woman who had been ill-treated posed as a reporter to interview Joseph L. Bishop, President of the Provo Missionary Training Center from 1983-1986. Since I live in a dark pit of not paying attention to the news, I would not normally have known this occurred. However Saturday someone else who was in the MTC in 1984 sent me a link to a UK Daily Mail article about the MTC President. And Sunday/Monday I was video-chatting with a daughter who was complaining about the story.

In case you have also been living in a dark pit of not knowing, the MTC President reportedly asked the woman in 1984 to expose her chest for his viewing, then attempted to further remove clothing. The woman did bare her chest, but resisted further liberties.

Here’s what I wish. I wish it had been me that Joseph L. Bishop had invited to do inappropriate things. Because he would not have remained President of the MTC if he had tried that on me. A sister missionary in those days had to be within spitting distance of 21 to be in the MTC to begin with, and by 21 I certainly knew how to tell a creepy man how to keep his hands and eyes away from me. Continue reading


  1. Eliza Snow was apparently not aware of the exact contents of the letter until months after March 1842. She copied the contents of the letter into the 1842 Relief Society Minute Book after September 28, 1842, see A possible reason for her exclusion from the reading of the letter could be the fact that she was unmarried and a close neighbor of Dr. Bennett, clearly one of the chief “iniquitous characters.”

The Christ Who Heals – Thoughts on Palm Sunday

For months now I’ve been rehearsing for this weekend’s DC premiere performance of Lamb of God, Rob Gardner’s luminous work on the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I’ve seen the choir stumble over the Aramaic words, carefully taught pronunciation syllable by syllable. I’ve suffered through the first rehearsal with full orchestra where the subtle timings of the music were routinely missed. And then came our opening performance yesterday, where the power of Christ’s pleading in Gethsemane and Peter’s anguish after denying the Christ caused many to weep.

It happens that the venue where we are performing is no small distance from our home. And so my husband, whose voice is amazing, has been pleased to read to me from The Christ Who Heals, a recent book by Terryl and Fiona Givens which my husband purchased last Saturday.

If you are a Mormon who wishes to understand your faith tradition, you must read The Christ Who Heals. That’s all there is to it. Continue reading