This week the Advanced Review Copy of Reluctant Polygamist will disappear from Amazon.com.
Publication of the official release of Reluctant Polygamist will occur April 6, 2016. It may be possible to accommodate significant changes if you contact me by March 26. Cover quotes received by that date can be included in the book.
My name is listed as author, and I accept full responsibility for the contents. But you have had an enormous influence on how the story emerged as well as the topics I eventually decided to cover beyond my original proposed agenda.
If you would like me to come talk in your neck of the woods, email me. I’ll see what I can arrange, as I would love to interact directly with people on this topic.
Reluctant Polygamist discusses the evidence supporting a new view of Joseph Smith’s final years and the subsequent interactions regarding polygamy amongst the various religious traditions that emerged from Joseph Smith’s religious legacy. Reluctant Polygamist builds on the Faithful Joseph series I posted here at M* from December 2013 to August 2014.
Bottom Line Up Front: Joseph Smith was a great-hearted man attempting his best to teach and live Celestial Marriage, which he believed was a command from God. Simultaneously he was fighting a frightening and pervasive heresy based on illicit and promiscuous sex, attempting to save as many as possible.
Elder Ballard on Church Education
A friend briefed me on Elder Ballard’s address at the annual “An Evening with a General Authority” this past Sunday. The address was particularly aimed at Seminary and Institute teachers in the Church Educational System (CES).
I enjoyed the quotes that were reported in the Deseret News article reporting the address:
“As Church education moves forward in the 21st century, each of you needs to consider any changes you should make in the way you prepare to teach, how you teach and what you teach if you are to build unwavering faith in the lives of our precious youth,” Elder Ballard said. “Gone are the days when a student asked an honest question and a teacher responded, ‘Don’t worry about it!’ Gone are the days when a student raised a sincere concern and a teacher bore his or her testimony as a response intended to avoid the issue. Gone are the days when students were protected from people who attacked the Church.”
“Teach them by modeling this skill and approach [combining study and faith] in class,” Elder Ballard taught.
“Today, what they see on their mobile devices is likely to be faith-challenging as much as faith-promoting,” Elder Ballard said. “Many of our young people are more familiar with Google than with the gospel, more attuned to the Internet than to inspiration and more involved with Facebook than with faith.”
“More than at any time in our history, your students also need to be blessed by learning doctrinal or historical context and context by study and faith accompanied by pure testimony so they can experience a mature and lasting conversion to the gospel and a lifelong commitment to Jesus Christ,” he said. “Mature and lasting conversion means they will ‘stay in the boat and hold on’ throughout their entire lives.”
“Teach them about the challenges they face when relying upon the Internet to answer questions of eternal significance,” he said. “Remind them that James did not say, ‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him Google!’”
“If [seeking trained experts rather than Internet advice] is the sensible course to take in finding answers for emotional, mental and physical health issues, it is even more so when eternal life is at stake,” he said.
“We give medical inoculations to our precious missionaries before sending them into the mission field so they will be protected against diseases that can harm or even kill them,” he said. “In a similar fashion, please, before you send them into the world, inoculate your students by providing faithful, thoughtful and accurate interpretation of gospel doctrine, the scriptures, our history and those topics that are sometimes misunderstood.”
“Church leaders today are fully conscious of the unlimited access to information and we are making extraordinary efforts to provide accurate context and understanding of the teachings of the Restoration,” he said. Referring to the Gospel Topics essays on lds.org regarding challenging subjects, Elder Ballard said it is crucial that teachers “know the content in these essays like you know the back of your hand.”
“As you teachers pay the price to better understand our history, doctrine and practices — better than you do now — you will be prepared to provide thoughtful, careful and inspired answers to your students’ questions,” Elder Ballard said.
Elder Ballard stressed that CES instructors must not merely pass along faith-promoting or unsubstantiated rumors or outdated understandings and explanations of the doctrines and practices of the past. “Teach our young people that in the Lord’s Church, there is room for all to worship, serve and grow together as brothers and sisters in the gospel,” he counseled.
I believe a study of Joseph Smith’s final years reveals a man thoroughly dedicated to doing whatever God asked in service of making salvation available to all mankind. It was plain and simple, what Joseph believed God was asking, but it was incredibly hard at the same time. Ultimately, Joseph willingly submitted to the circumstances that killed him because his character would not allow him to retreat from what he believed was God’s command. 1
If I am wrong in any point, you still have time to point out any error(s). In all the history of Mormon historical inquiry, I am unaware of such an open, dare I say crowd-sourced, approach. I welcome all facts about that time period, and am even now willing to examine any alternate theory with merit (e.g., facts that controvert my current thesis).
Finally, if you have any questions about my thesis, where you wonder how my thesis can be consistent with the rest of Mormon history, feel free to ask. At the very least, it will give me the opportunity to consider explaining more clearly. And perhaps your question will open a brighter window on the subject at hand.
- For what it’s worth, I agree with Joseph’s view that the restoration of Celestial Marriage, including the possibility of plural marriage, was commanded by God. ↩