Re-reading “Rough Stone Rolling:” a great way to study Church history

About a week ago, I started re-reading Bushman’s classic Joseph Smith biography “Rough Stone Rolling.”  I figured this would be a great way to get some good background for the gospel doctine lessons we will be participating in this year as we study Church history and the Doctrine & Covenants.

Re-reading “Rough Stone Rolling” is a mind-blowing experience:  there are things I want to blog about on virtually every page.  So, I will probably be referring to the book a lot this year.  But one subject needs to be addressed right away, it seems to me:  the early Saints’ view of nationalism vis-a-vis the United States.  As Bushman says:  “The United States figured only as one of the unnamed nations that were to suffer in the last days.” (p. 191)

It seems to me essential to get your mind around the concept that the early Saints were not what you would call, er, “nationalistic Americans.”  They were all about setting up Zion, the New Jerusalem, which had nothing to do with modern-day nationalistic borders.  Here’s how Bushman describes it:

For Mormons, the United States was but one country among the ‘nations of the earth,’ and like the others must hearken or face extinction.  The righteous, the revelations said, would be gathered from all nations.  The United States had no special part in the early millennial revelations. In the first few years, America was not even named.  The only quasi-national division that mattered was the divide between Israel and the Gentiles, with America on the Gentile side.  The United States government in all of its democratic glory was not the model for Zion; the value of the Constitution as the ‘law of man’ was acknowledged only later, after the Missouri persecutions.

Mormons these days are among the most patriotic Americans, so much of this language sounds foreign to us.  But we ignore our own history at our peril.  When Brigham Young led the Saints out of Nauvoo and to Utah, he was leaving the United States, turning his back on the country that had allowed the “extermination order” in Missouri and had refused repeated requests for justice.  It was the United States that imposed itself on the Saints again and again in the late 19th century, ignoring Abraham Lincoln’s famous policy of basically ignoring the Mormons.  Seen from this perspective, can you see how many early Saints saw the United States as the enemy?

Times have changed, of course, and in most ways for the better.  Saints can form Zion in their homes and in their communities without being tarred and feathered and without suffering the persecution of past years.

Personally, I consider myself a patriotic American, and I love my country.  Most Americans reading this probably agree.  But it is important, I think, to recognize that God loves people more than nations.  Zion is about God’s individual relationship with people, whom He believes have the potential to grow into Gods.  National borders are a footnote in that greater relationship, which lasts for eternity.

I am aware of all of the references in the Book of Mormon and elsewhere to the Americas being special lands.  I believe they are.  I am also aware of the many admonitions from Joseph Smith all the way to Thomas S. Monson telling us to be good citizens.  I agree that is essential, and I try to do my best to participate in the American political process as much as possible.

Personally, I think the United States has a special place right now in world history and has served as a vehicle for spreading democracy and freedom worldwide.  I think of the U.S. as a latter-day Cyrus, being used by the Lord for a special purpose in preparing the world for the return of the Savior.

But as we fulfill our roles as good citizens and as we honor our country, I do think it’s important to have balance and remember our history.  Our relationship with God is more important than our relationship with our country, and the early Saints understood that quite clearly.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

18 thoughts on “Re-reading “Rough Stone Rolling:” a great way to study Church history

  1. It is a great book and I am glad we have it. But t does tend to flatten the transcendence in the Joseph Smith story. I think our traditional church history that is heavily dominated by Wilford Woodruff is a very valuable history of the transcendence of the Restoration.

  2. I suggested to a member of my ward that he should read the book. He is a former seminary teacher and had never heard of it. Given your challenge to re-read the book, I think this person will have to buy his own copy so I can re-read it with you. 🙂

  3. I realize that the Bushman is a member in good standing, and that “Rough Stone Rolling” is a faithful history. But, I’ve run into one member who considers Bushman to be an apostate for publishing something that goes into more historical detail than the correlated material that the church has hitherto published.

    Bushman does a lot of good when he explains the context of some of the historical events in order to counter the slanderous twists that critics of the church put on those events. I’m not sure where this particular member is coming from, but he claims those things just didn’t occur at all since they are not in the church’s correlated published history.

    I write this just to let others be aware that many members who have not studied church history outside of Sunday school and Institute classes are not aware of many historical events, and don’t realize that what critics (ie, anti-mormons) have often done is twist events rather than make them up entirely.

    In other words, the proper rejoinder to many anti-mormon claims is not to say the event didn’t happen at all, but that the spin the anti’s put on it is not right.

    So what happened with this member, is that when I started quoting Bushman, this guy threatened to “report me” to the stake president for apostasy and spreading falsehoods. (Ok, so he’s a jerk anyway.)

    So be aware that not everyone realizes that “Rough Stone Rolling” is a _faithful_ history.

  4. In my experience, not many members know about Rough Stone Rolling, including many of our ward “scriptorians” who are quite knowledgeable about other things. (I would say it is about the same number as who are familiar with the limited geography model for the Book of Mormon.)

  5. What a coincidence! Just last night I was reading from that book and what exact passage was I reading, why the one you quoted! Weird, huh?

    At any rate, as an anarchist, I found it refreshing to read their view of the nations of the earth as ephemeral, I believe that is how Bushman put it. They were focused on the ideal and wanted no substitutes (or, at least, Joseph didn’t.) Yes, Mormons have done a complete about face concerning how they view these (currently) united States. And we have been treated nicely lately, despite the bad press received last year.

    I just wonder, though, whether the “change” coming in two weeks will bode well enough with us so that we remain “patriotic citizens” or whether many LDS are about to adopt the views of the former saints? Time will tell.

  6. Last week, I gave my copy of RSR to a good friend who was recently called as Gospel Doctrine instructor. He said he appreciated it (we’ve talked about the book before), but wanted me to assure him that it wouldn’t get him into any “controversy.” I assured him that it will be a great reference for his study of church history – and that it increased my testimony of the Restoration as well as Joseph Smith as prophet.

    Anyhow, Geoff B., I totally agree that RSR is a great way to study Church history in general. I walked away with a better understanding of the whole picture – Palmyra, Kirtland, Missouri, Nauvoo… Now, I need to go replace my copy. Amazon, here I come . . .

  7. I agree about the value of Rough Stone Rolling, though I wouldn’t want it to be my only reference.

    I’m less sure that Brigham Young and the saints were “leaving” the US. I think that Manifest Destiny (the idea that the US would eventually go from sea to sea) was pretty widely held at the time. I think it likely that most people recognized that sooner or later the area that the saints were heading too would become part of the US, but that is just my opinion.

  8. Awesome! I borrowed my grandfather’s copy a bit after RSR came out and I devoured it. There have been several times that I’ve wanted to go back and reread sections, but I don’t have it! I’ll hopefully see Grandpa on Sunday. I do believe I will borrow it again!

  9. I just ordered a copy, along with a handful of other Bushman books for under $40 including shipping. I love (except for their capacity to spam me no matter how many times I demand they stop).

    Looking forward to them.

  10. At a Duke University lecture on RSR, Bro. Bushman, in response to a question, said he didn’t anticipate non-Mormon scholars using RSR in preference to “No Man Knows My History”. What a shame; it is certainly a more balanced historical account of Joseph Smith’s life.

  11. I am dissapointed in many aspects of Rough Stone Rolling. A friend of mine (Mark Smith) said it best regarding Bushman and Rough Stone Rolling:

    “Nearly all documentation of history is subjective. The writer of historical books must make many, sometimes thousands per book, decisions regarding the great many sources of information concerning the subject matter. He has to decide which version or versions of what happened on a particular day are worthy of consideration and inclusion in the writer’s book. Very often there are a score or more different accounts as to a particular day’s events. Authors totally ignore and refrain from including the versions, which the writer personally, subjectively, decides are not trustworthy. This is especially true of Mormon history.

    Richard Bushman decided that Joseph Smith’s own version, meaning the Church’s version, in regard to many extremely significant facts, is not worthy of inclusion in his book.

    It is not that he set-forth various versions including the Church’s. Instead, he totally ignored and omitted the Church’s own version. The fact that the Church’s version could be seen as self-serving has nothing to do with inclusion. When history is written by honest historians, autobiography statements, for example, are always included as one of the viewpoints.

    Bushman knew in advance that Rough Stone Rolling would be the most disseminated and read book ever written about the Prophet Joseph Smith, particularly outside the membership of the Church. His omission of the truth, i.e., the Church’s and Joseph’s version, is unforgivable.”

    Jay haldeman

  12. I find it interesting that your friend condemns Bushman for taking a point of view when your friend has taken a point of view — particularly that the Church’s version of events was identical to that Joseph told himself, and that that version is complete and unaltered truth.

    I’m almost done with the book, and I’ve enjoyed the experience quite a lot. I do find that the events it describes that I’d heard of before now make more sense than they did before, and have not found that the Church’s version is unrepresented in the discussion. Speaking just for me, I didn’t really need the Church’s version particularly emphasized, because I was already rather familiar with it. What I did find quite useful was presenting the more critical claims made against Joseph and where those claims came from, and, on balance, finds in favor of Joseph.

  13. I think it’s important to point out that Bushman is one of the most respected historians around today. The reason is that he concentrates on the available original documents rather than other peoples’ interpretations of “history.” Think about it: how do we really know what happened in 1830? Well, we can rely on many of the scurrilous, untruthful “interpretations” of the events, which are often wrong — or we can rely on the actual diaries, newspaper accounts and other original sources. I prefer the latter. Latter-day Saint history is much more likely to be taken seriously if we taken into account the original sources, which is why the Church has, for the most part, embraced Bushman’s book.

  14. In my opinion, Rough Stone Rolling is the most comprehensive and documented study ever written on the Prophet Joseph Smith. Many of the opinions and statements made by Bushman in this book are highly controversial and should not be considered the last word on the subject or even be considered accurate. To many of the LDS church membership are accustomed to simply believe and not questing what is written by high profile LDS members regardless if they are among the LDS General Authorities or not. The purpose of this review is clearly identify some of the bizarre, puzzling, flagrant, opinions, conclusions and interpretations of our LDS church history Bushman uses in Rough Stone Rolling, that I believe are simply wrong.
    Bushman has documented his work with thousands, of references within his 176 pages of footnotes, (in 6 point font) contained in the rear of the book. I am pleased that he also included the actual quotes along with the source documents he used to support his statement and/or his opinion or concussion. This is helpful due to the fact that many of the sources cited are either out of print or not available to the general public. Careful reading of his source material allows the reader to better understand how Bushman interprets historical records and formulates many of his controversial opinions and views.
    Although I greatly enjoyed reading and studying Rough Stone Rolling, I was deeply disappointed with Bushman’s interpretations and coverage of many critical areas particularly dealing with the life and character representation of Joseph Smith senior, the father of Joseph Smith jr., The Prophet. I also take issue with Bushman’s opinions and non factual conclusions surrounding Joseph Smith Jr. in his early life which Bushman describes as key events that prepared Joseph Smith of his destiny. I have spoken with and written dozens Mormon scholars and LDS educators in church history, all of which have stated that Rough Stone Rolling contains many opinions and interpretations of church history that are very controversial and are not consistent with the LDS official church history.

    My interest in preparing this rebuttal peaked after learning that several BYU professor’s were quoting Bushman’s controversial opinions as the “new” factual church history to our freshmen at BYU. One professor in particular taught his students that

    “Joseph Smith Sr. failed as a father and provider for his family, and it was his love for magic, astrology, and treasure seeking, that he passed on to his son Joseph Jr. that prepared Joseph for the first vision of deity and the visitation of the Angel Moroni. “
    He supported this so called enlightened “historical fact” by quoting from Rough Stone Rolling.
    Page 54 “Magic had served its purpose in his life (Joseph Jr.). In a sense, it was a preparatory gospel … Neither his education nor his Christian upbringing prepared Joseph to translate a book, but the magic culture may have.” P 54 Rough Stone Rolling)
    After learning of this, a series of debate via phone calls and email ensued between the BYU professors and myself. It became clear to me that either the professors had not read RSR as closely as I had nor had he checked source documents and footnotes of Bushman. Several religion professors joined in on the debate with me. After providing them a version of this rebuttal, not one of them was willing to admit they agreed with all of Bushman’s conclusions and opinions regarding the issues contained in this review.

    Below I have provided some of the outrageous statements, opinions and conclusions of Bushman found in RSR. I think you will agree with me that every example sited below lacks foundation, is absent of fact, and not supported by any creditable witness, or historical writings. Bushman’s conclusions of “certain” historical information relating to the Smith family are simply outside the scope of reasonable or critical thinking. many of the references relating to Joseph Smith Senior and the Smith family during the early years of Joseph Jr. should not be thought of as factual, historical, but only as Bushman’s personal opinion. I do not believe his opinions are consistent with other LDS historians,scholars and the official Church history point of view.

    I thank Mr. Bushman for sending me this email in which he states that his opinion should not be considered as the last word on the Prophet. He remains my favorite author even though I disagree with him conclusions occasionally.

    “Dear Brother Haldeman: Actually your response to my book is exactly what I had hoped for. People should not take it as the last word on the Prophet. They should use it as a starting point for their own investigations, which you have fulfilled admirably. History is an ongoing debate about what happened in the past. You have worked diligently to propound your point of view, and I am sure there are many people who would concur in your conclusions.”
    Richard Bushman

    Even though I do not agree with all of Bushman’s opinions, comments, and conclusions, I feel he did an excellent job supporting the vast majority of his work with solid historical evidence, facts and sound reasoning and interpretations of historical records. My comments and complaints about RSR are contained in the Preface and first 75 pages of the book which focuses on Joseph Smith Sr. and the Smith family during the early years of Joseph Smith Jr. life.

    Putting a side my negative opinions on selected topics of Bushman, I feel Rough Stone Rolling is a must read for most members of the LDS church. No other person is better qualified to write such a book then Bushman.

    Bushman should be reprimanded by his pears and critics for purposely omitting the LDS Church official history as well as Joseph Smiths personal history in RSR especially when his opinions are contradictory to the church and Joseph Smith. Why would he omit the official LDS and Joseph’s own history personal history? Once again the only answer can be; to gain creditability among his pears and the non LDS community. I have a problem with historians that attempt to rewrite history for personal reasons at the expenses of truth and reliable journalism.

    Texts in Red are direct quotes taken from Rough Stone Rolling (“RSR”)

    In the preface of RSR, Bushman states his goal in writing this book “is to truly reveal the genuine Joseph Smith and he describes his style of writing as a “critical view of the good and bad of the Smith Family.” Let me quote Bushman here:

    “What I can do is look frankly at all sides of Joseph Smith, facing up to his mistakes and flaws. Covering up errors makes no sense in any case. Most readers do not believe in, nor are they interested in, perfection. Flawless characters are neither attractive nor useful. We want to meet a real person…….” Preface

    I believe that Bushman failed in his attempt to present a historically accurate and unbiased picture of Joseph Smith senior and the Smith family. Bushman’s attempt to expose the Smith’s “flaws of character” by quoting angry excommunicated church members who considered themselves enemies of the Smith family. Several references used were from people that never met or knew any member of the Smith family. Any such statements are considered here say and should never be included as a character reference in this work.

    I am puzzled why Bushman failed/refused to include Joseph’s own account, which, is also the official LDS official account of the surrounding the first vision and the appearance of Moroni. Not a single quote from the D&C, Pearl of Great Price or the Old and New Testament are contained in this book. Bushman can hardly claim that he is “looking at all sides of Joseph Smith, facing up to his mistakes and flaws.”

    Bushman is quick to discredit or cast a shadow of doubt on the personal statements and written history of those closest to Joseph senior and Joseph junior’s own mother, Lucy Smith.
    Page 36. Bushman questions Lucy’s personal written history/record of the several revelations her husband received years before Joseph 1st vision which many in the church feel was given to him to help prepared Joseph Sr. to believe, accept, embrace and not question Joseph Jr. account of the 1st vision and the appearance of Moroni. (See actual account listed below page 22-26)
    Bushman states that Lucy’s written account is questionable because she wrote it 30 years after hearing it from her husband. Bushman considers heresy and recorded gossip as equally important and creditable as established historical evidence (even when the gossip and heresy contradicts established historical facts). Additionally, some of the sources cited within his text and footnotes are from publications much like today’s Starr Magazine and the National Enquirer. It’s unbelievable that a historian of Bushman’s caliber, education, reputation and membership in the LDS Church, would formulate and base many of his opinion on statements and material articles from unnamed persons.
    Below, I have provided the full text of Bushman’s puzzling statements regarding issues surrounding the Smith family for your careful reading and interpretation. After reading Bushman’s statements, I am certain you will agree that many of Bushman’s opinions and interpretations of the historical accounts are off base, exaggerated, lack foundation and substance, and his conclusions are not supported by credible fact or sound reasoning.
    I am the first to admit that Bushman probably has a more clear understanding of what living was like in the 1800’s than any other historian alive today. I feel Bushman wrongfully projects the attitudes, weaknesses, popular beliefs, customs and social fads of that time period onto the Smith family. Bushman is forced to use such words as, “perhaps, might, may have, could/would, imply, and probably” over and over again in order each time he projects a weakness or fault of that time period onto the Smith family because he cannot support his opinions with convincing, factual information or historical evidence. Let’s not forget that we are talking about a poor farming family living in the 1800’s of which no one paid any particular attention to and almost nothing is recorded about the family until Joseph Jr.’s late teenage years.
    Bushman’s casual and constant insertion of negative opinions and commentary regarding Joseph Smith Sr. and family are closely concealed within the text of a given quote, which oftentimes makes it very difficult to decipher Bushman’s commentary from the actual quote.
    I have heard some readers of RSR justify Bushman’s negative, demeaning and puzzling comments about the Smith family by stating that Bushman is making the point that Joseph’s success could only have occurred by the gift and power of God, considering the background of his family, the many weaknesses of the family, his education, the culture of the community and the current events that were influencing the Smith family. Such statements have an element of truth but do not apply to Bushman’s work. Bushman is a noted historical scholar, and icon for the church representing the best we have in the church. He must be held to a higher standard and he must support all of his work based on fact and rational unbiased thinking.
    After careful study and reading all of Bushman’s references and footnotes, I found many of his references have nothing to do with the topic or subject to which he associates the reference. Some of the footnotes actually contradict his statement. Many times his footnotes were nothing more than Bushman quoting his own opinion on the matter from other written works of his without identifying himself and the source and that his opinion may not be the same as the people in the time period he is describing. I have a problem with that. I am certain Bushman would have harsh consequences for any student of his that documented their work in a like manor.
    I am amazed that Bushman never listed a single scriptural reference within the main body of his text. The few passages Bushman does quote from scriptures (Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and Book of Mormon) the quotes are footnoted but the book and verse are not provided. The actual scripture reference is hidden in 6pt font buried in the back of the book between pages 600-730. It seems like Bushman is embarrassed to openly include any LDS quoted scripture or official church historical account. Perhaps he fears that it hurt or damages his credibility among his liberal Columbia University peers to do so?
    Furthermore I am equally amazed that Bushman could write 730 pages, detailed history of The Prophet Joseph Smith, and never once include Joseph Smith’s own account and testimony of his experience, especially since it differs from Bushman’s account on several important foundation issues.
    Below I will provide “some” of the direct quotes that Bushman has written, that I find offensive, absent of fact or supporting evidence, lack foundation and Bushman’s puzzling analysis and conclusions found in Rough Stone Rolling. The texts in red are direct quotes taken from Rough Stone Rolling. I have also included a few examples in which Bushman carelessly contradicts his footnotes and makes statements that are self-serving and non factual to support his opinion as fact.
    Page 55: Speaking of Joseph Sr.: ….. “He was a gentle, disappointed man with an inclination to compensate for his failures with magic and drink.” Another statement about Joseph Sr. reads: “…responsibility for family leadership fell on Joseph Jr. under the tacit family agreement that Joseph Sr. was not fully adequate… Joseph Jr. eventually restored his father’s dignity by giving him an honored place in the church. If there was any childhood dynamic at work in Joseph Jr.’s life, it was the desire to redeem his flawed, loving father. But was this enough to make him a prophet?”
    This statement lacks foundation and Bushman offers no reasoning for reaching this conclusion. This statement is total nonsense! Who says Joseph Sr. was into magic and drink? Never once did any family member or enemy of the Smith’s or church ever make such a statement.
    Who told Bushman that the family leadership was turned over to Joseph Jr.? How old was Joseph when he allegedly took over the family leadership? Joseph’s older brothers were capable, hard working, and would naturally assume such responsibility if needed. It was Joseph older brother that built the last home for their mother and father to live in. Joseph never assumed family leadership of the Smith family. In Bushman’s 168 pages of footnotes, he offers no foundation to support this statement. What point is Bushman trying to make when he says “But was this enough to make him a prophet?” This rhetorical question is simply journalism at its worst.
    Bushman attempts to supports his statement/fact regarding Joseph Sr. “failures with magic and drink” from the Patriarchal Blessing Joseph Sr. gave to his son’s Joseph Jr. and Hyrum. Bushman does not provide the blessing for review. However, I located the blessing and read it carefully and found nothing that would support Bushman’s opinion. Perhaps this is why he did not include the actual wording of the blessings in his footnotes as he did with hundreds of other quotes found in his 176 pages of 6 pt texts? (See RSR pages 264-265 for more info on this matter).
    Is it too much to believe that, just maybe, God told Joseph that the Church was in need of a Patriarch and was instructed to bestow this honor on his father as one of the eight witnesses of the Gold Plates and founders of the church? Bushman infers or would have us believe that Joseph (on his own) invented the position/calling of “Church Patriarch” for no other reason than to restore his father’s lost honor. No other church historian, author or anti Mormon publication I am aware of has ever suggested that Joseph Sr., ever lost his honor before or after the first vision. This is nothing more than a myth in the mind of Bushman. Joseph senior was on of the best men on earth during that time period. He was honored by God to father, raise, teach, love, support, protect and sustain the Great Prophet Serer and Revelator and restorer of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    The angle Moroni commanded Joseph to tell his father of the first vision and of his appearance. Why, because Joseph needed the support, love and trust of his father to complete his mission at the great Prophet and restorer of all things in this dispensation. Bushman is clearly wrong about the character of Joseph Senior.
    Consider the words of Joseph Jr. about his feelings towards his father as recorded in the history of the church;
    “I have remembered scenes of my childhood. I have thought of my father who is dead. … He was of noble stature and possessed a high, and holy, and exalted, and virtuous mind. His soul soared above all those mean and groveling principles that are so congenial to the human heart. I now say that he never did a mean act, that might be said was ungenerous in his life, to my knowledge. I love my father and his memory; and the memory of his noble deeds rests with ponderous weight upon my mind, and many of his kind and parental words to me are written on the tablet of my heart.
    “Sacred to me are the thoughts which I cherish of the history of his life, that have rolled through my mind, and have been implanted there by my own observation, since I was born. Sacred to me is his dust, and the spot where he is laid. Sacred to me is the tomb I have made to encircle o’er his head. Let the memory of my father eternally live. … May the God that I love look down from above and save me from my enemies here, and take me by the hand that on Mount Zion I may stand, and with my father crown me eternally there.
    “Words and language are inadequate to express the gratitude that I owe to God for having given me so honorable a parentage. (History of the Church, 5:125–26; from a Joseph Smith journal entry, Aug. 23, 1842, near Nauvoo, Illinois; this entry is incorrectly dated Aug. 22, 1842, in History of the Church).
    This hardly sounds like the man Bushman would describe as Joseph’s Jr. father. This statement of Joseph Jr. was made near his death. This isn’t the statement of a young child unacquainted with life and the follies of me
    One more point: sometime between the dates of April 6-11, 1830, Joseph Smith received section 23 of the D&C in which Joseph Smith Sr. is not found under any condemnation by the Lord (vs.5) and is told to strengthen the church. This hardly sounds like the character Bushman presents of Joseph Smith Sr. Perhaps Joseph Sr. may have viewed himself much as Paul of the New Testament viewed himself. During Paul’s ministry he gives three different descriptions of his spirituality growth. Early in his ministry, Paul refers to himself as sinner in need of a redeemer. Near the end of his ministry, he refers to himself as the chief of all sinners. He isn’t confessing that he had become more wicked during his ministry; he is telling us that, as we receive an increase of light and knowledge, we become more aware of the areas we need to perfect in our lives and the need for a Savior to redeem us. I think Joseph’s senior humble confession portrays the same message the disciple Paul shared with us. Bushman’s character assassination of Joseph Sr. Smith is laughable, lacks foundation, fact and substance. Simply put Total NONSENSE!

    Page 50-51: Bushman states that the Smiths were into “astrology, magic, treasure seeking, knowledge of formulas and rituals. Magic and religion melded in the Smith family culture.”
    How can he say such a thing? Please read the two pages below taken from RSR. I think you will get a clear idea of the style and freedom Bushman utilizes in presenting his opinion and point of view. Notice the number of times he uses words such as may, might, perhaps, probably, could, and may have. Each time he uses these words, he will try to establish his opinion as a fact and offer no foundation or fact to supports his off puzzling opinion.
    Page 50: “Money-digging was epidemic in upstate New York. Stories of spirits guarding buried treasure were deeply enmeshed in the region’s rural culture. In Vermont, too, buried treasures and lost mines were detected through dreams, divining rods, or stones. From 1800 to 1802, the Nathaniel Woods family in the Wells-Putney area of Vermont set out with one Winchell, who used a “St. John’s” rod to find treasure guarded by a hostile spirit. The father of one of Joseph’s later associates, Oliver Cowder lived in the Woods’s neighborhood and may have picked up some of this lore.”
    Once again Bushman’ makes another convoluted and unsupported statement. For him to suggest that Oliver Cowdery MAY HAVE picked up a love for magic and ritual simply because his FATHER lived in the same farming community as N. Woods for a short period of time (who used a divining rod) is once again, journalism at its worst!
    Page 50. “Buried treasure was tied into a great stock of magical practices extending back many centuries. Eighteenth-century rationalism had failed to stamp out belief in preternatural powers aiding and opposing human enterprise. Enlightened newspaper editors and ministers scoffed at the superstitions of common people but were unable to erase them. Ordinary people apparently had no difficulty blending Christianity with magic. Willard Chase, the most vigorous of the Manchester treasure-seekers, was a Methodist class leader at the time he knew the Smiths and, in his obituary, was described as a minister. At the time, he employed Joseph to use his stone to find Spanish bullion. Josiah Stowell was an upright Presbyterian and an honored man in his community. The so-called credulity of the money-diggers can be read as evidence of their general faith in invisible forces. Christian belief in angels and devils blended with belief in guardian spirits and magical powers.
    The Smiths were (this is not a fact. Bushman should have said may have been) as susceptible as their neighbors to treasure-seeking folklore. (Says who?) In addition to rod and stone divining, the Smith’s probably believed in the rudimentary astrology found in the ubiquitous almanacs. Magical parchments handed down in the Hyrum Smith family may have originally belonged to Joseph Sr. The visit of the angel and the discovery of the gold plates would have confirmed the belief in supernatural powers. (It was confirmed when the Angel appeared to Joseph in person, not when he received the plates) For people in a magical frame of mind, Moroni sounded like one of the spirits who stood guard over treasure in the tales of treasure-seeking. The similarities may even have made the extraordinary story more credible in the Smith family. Lucy recognized the crossover in prefacing her narrative of the plates with a caution against thinking that we stop our labor and went at trying to win the faculty of Abrac drawing, magic circles or soothsaying to the neglect of all kinds of business. We never, during our lives, suffered one important interest to swallow up every other obligation, but whilst we worked with our hands, we endeavored to remember the service of & the welfare of our souls. Lucy’s point was that the Smiths were not lazy—they had not stopped their labor to practice magic—but she showed her knowledge of formulas and rituals and associated them with “the welfare of our souls.” Magic and religion melded in the Smith family culture.”
    This is outrageous! Lucy says that neither she nor any family member ever sought after or became involved in seeking after magic or Abrac drawing, etc. Bushman is simply wrong in promoting his own prejudice by alluding that, simply because Lucy was aware of such things, she embraced and believed in them. I could say because Mr. Bushman shows knowledge of such things, he PROABABLY also believe in magical powers, guardian angels protecting lost treasures, magic circles and Abrac drawings. If I claimed publicly, that Bushman also believed in such things because he mentions them in his book, I would be thought of as a fool for drawing that conclusion. This is journalism at its worst.
    Page 52: “According to Oliver Cowderv’s 1835 report (what report? No reference is sited. I searched and found no such report anywhere.); “Joseph could not suppress his baser motives on the first walk to the Hill Cumorah. When he saw the “sacred treasure,” he began to calculate how to “add to his store of wealth …. Without once thinking of the solemn instruction of the heavenly messenger, that all must be done with an express view of glorifying God.” When he was stopped from lifting out the plates, Cowdery said, Joseph’s mind flashed back to the tales of the treasure-hunters.” RSR page 52
    This sounds more like Bushman’s commentary and not a part of any quote. Bushman included No quotation marks around this statement. Bushman also fails to include the reference wherein Oliver makes this statement. Why? Bushman may be quoting his own opinion in other works of his and not directly quoting Oliver Cowdery. Careful reading of Bushman’s massive and detailed footnotes, it appears that Oliver never said or even alluded or associated Joseph’s failure of getting the plates with a weakness in believing in magic and treasure seeking stories. Joseph Smith tells us, in his personal history, (which Bushman fails to include in RSR) that he was prevented from getting the plates because he thought of the riches that might come to his poor family because of the gold and other objects in the box. Again, I believe Bushman is distorting Oliver’s statement in an attempt to make a case that cannot be made.
    Page 52 cont. “He had heard of the power of enchantment, and a thousand like stories, which held the hidden treasures of the earth, and supposed that physical exertion and personal strength was only necessary to enable him to yet obtain the object of his wish.” (This is Bushman’s opinion which he is stating as a fact. It lacks foundation and fact). “Lucy told of Moroni describing “the operation of a good Spirit and an evil one” and urging Joseph to “keep your mind always staid upon God that no evil may come into our heart.” The angel’s instructions connected the greed of the money-digger with the powers of Satan. Joseph was to follow a different course. Cowdery reported Moroni as saying that “the commandment was strict, and . . . if ever these sacred things are obtained they must by prayer and faithfulness in obeying the Lord. It may have taken four years to purge himself of his treasure-seeking greed.”
    Again, Bushman is trying to connect events that cannot be connected. Bushman’s continued attempt to tie treasure-seeking, greed, and evil spirits” to Joseph’s personality and the Smith’s belief in some type of magic is ridiculous. To suggest that it may have taken years for Joseph to “purge himself of his treasure-seeking greed” is outrageous. Did Bushman ever consider the possibility that at age 17, Joseph may have been required to wait four years until he was old enough, strong enough, mature enough and capable enough to handle, translate and protect the plates? To suggest that Joseph’s greed for money and treasure was the single issue that prevented him from getting the plates for four years is simply off base.
    It’s clear that Joseph wasn’t prepared to translate the plates. The angle Moroni commanded Joseph to return to the hill each year on the same date for 4 years to receive additional information that would prepare Joseph to translate the record.
    Did God stop Joseph from starting the church at age 14 because of his alleged interest in treasure seeking and love for money? Of course not! Joseph required additional maturity, preparation, and training. Seeing the plates but not receiving them was all apart of that process.
    Surely Bushman is aware but failed to mention that many scholars now believe that Joseph Smith may have been required to wait four years to receive the gold plates so they would be delivered on Rosh Hashanah—Sept. 22, 1827—that the covenant made anciently with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and with the Jews, could understand together and bring them all together. That is why the blessings of Abraham are administered in our Temples today.) It took four years before Rosh Hashanah occurred on September 22nd and that the Lord was waiting for that particular holiday because He knew it was the Jewish holiday when the shophar would be blown by the Jews. What about the possibility that Joseph need training from the Angle Moroni before he could translate the BofM which occurred during 4 year waiting period. There are dozens of list why Joseph may have been required to wait the 4 years. Bushman doesn’t mention a single one other than Joseph understood value of the gold plates/treasures in the box like any other person would have if they were shown such things especially at that age of 17. As is typical of Bushman, he focuses on the most marketable/sensational issue and fails to offer alternative more reasonable possibilities all supported in Joseph own account which again was omitted from RSR. (Note Joseph received the plates on Sept 22, 1827).
    Page 52 cont. This reference is referring to a sere stone which Joseph had.
    Joseph Jr. never repudiated the stones or denied their power to find treasure. Remnants of the magical culture stayed with him to the end.
    How can Bushman suggest that, because Joseph didn’t repudiate the stones powers to find treasure, mean that Joseph believed they could find treasure, or that he used them to find treasure? Bushman might as well say that green cheese grows on the moon because Joseph didn’t repudiate or deny that it didn’t. I have never heard of or ever read a single account in which Joseph ever said or admitted to using his stone to look for or find any treasure, EVER. Joseph was poor his entire life. He borrowed money from his friends and asked Martin Harris to mortgage his farm to pay for the publication of the Book of Mormon. Joseph never owned his own home. Much of his adult and married life he was forced to live with family and friends). If his stone was able to find treasure, it’s clear that it didn’t work very well in that regard. Bushman talk of Joseph’s addiction to treasure seeking with a seer stone lacks foundation and fact. He doesn’t have a single account of Joseph using the stone to find an actual treasure.
    Page 52 cont. “But after 1823, he began to orient himself away from treasure and toward translation. Martin Harris, another early supporter, remembered Joseph saying that the “the angel told him he must quit the company of the money-diggers; that there were wicked men among them. He must have no more to do with them. He must not lie, nor swear, nor steal.” After 1823, he continued to be involved in treasure expeditions but not as the instigator or leader; perhaps he resisted by dragging his feet. William Stafford depicts Joseph Sr. hunting for gold and going back to the house to seek further instructions from Joseph Jr., as if the son was trying to stay out of the picture while the father pushed on.”
    This is wishful thinking by Bushman. Again his statement lacks foundation and fact. No one, including Joseph’s enemies, family members or close friends, ever said that Joseph looked for or ever found anything of value or treasure for himself or anyone else, using his stone. Treasure seeking may have been associated with Joseph by those he associated with for several reasons not included in RSR. Bushman failed to state that the crew of men hired to find the Spanish mine promised each other to share a portion of the bounty as a bonus regardless who located it first. Years latter when Joseph received the plates, former crew members demanded that Joseph pay over to them their share/bonus of the bounty they were entitled to under their agreement. As far as I can tell no in the area ever doubted that Joseph had found the gold plates.
    Page 52 cont. In 1825, when the family needed money, Joseph Jr. agreed to help Stowell find the Spanish gold, but with misgivings. Lucy said of Stowell’s operation “Joseph endeavored to divert him from his vain pursuit.” Alva Hale, a son in the household where the Smiths stayed in Harmony while digging for Stowell, said Joseph Jr. told him that the “gift in seeing with a stone” was “a gift from God” but that “peeping’ was all d—d nonsense”; he had been deceived in his treasure-seeking, but he did not intend to deceive anyone else.” By this time, Joseph apparently felt that “seeing” with a stone was the work of a “seer,” a religious term, while “peeping” or “glass-looking” was fraudulent.
    This statement agrees with Joseph’s personal history in which he says that he was employed to look for a lost Spanish treasure for a short time (one month) to obtain a wage to help support the family. Joseph was successful in talking Mr. Stowell into giving up the search for the Spanish treasure. Joseph states that the stone could not be used for seeking treasure. On page 52, Bushman states that Joseph continued to work for Stowell as a farm hand. Typical of Bushman: trying to make a case that cannot be made. A farm hand is a person that works the labor of farming not treasure seeking.
    Page 52 cont. “Besides working on the farm and going to school, Joseph may have helped look for lost mines again” END of page 52.
    Bushman’s use of “MAY HAVE” in this statement is nothing more than wishful thinking, conjecture and fantasy. This statement lacks foundation and fact in reference to Joseph’s continued interest in treasure seeking. Bushman makes the statement in hopes of promoting his own belief that the Smith family members, including Joseph Jr., needed to “be purged of treasure seeking” from their character. I don’t buy it!
    Bushman offers several references in his footnotes in an attempt to associate Joseph and the Smith family with people of questionable belief in magic and spiritualism. One of them is from Tiffany’s Monthly, a spiritualist journal which wrote of Joseph’s translation of the BofM. The author of the article stated she was “willing to admit supernatural influence in Joseph’s revelations, but attributed them to a “band of spirits of not very exalted character.” This reference has nothing to do with the Smith’s knowledge of magic. Bushman extrapolates his opinion from a spiritualist that never admits to have met Joseph or any member of the family. She was simply impressed enough with his work to conclude that, possibly, spirits of low character were assisting Joseph. Bushman’s use of this reference as a foot note to support his opinion of Joseph interest in spiritualism and treasure seeking is nonsense.

    RSR page 54: Bushman writes the following regarding Joseph the Prophet: “Magic had served its purpose in his life (Joseph Jr.). In a sense, it was a preparatory gospel … Neither his education nor his Christian upbringing prepared Joseph to translate a book, but the magic culture may have.”
    It is nearly impossible to believe that Bushman honestly thinks that it was magic and rituals that prepared the Smith family and Joseph Jr. to believe the divine experiences that would soon take place in his life. Once again, this statement lacks foundation and fact. I have addressed this issue earlier in this rebuttal.
    Page 50: Bushman states that the money seeking was an epidemic in upstate NY from 1800-1802. Based on that statement, he makes this conclusion: “The Smith’s were as susceptible as their neighbors to treasure seeking folklore. In addition to rod and stone divining, the Smiths PROBABLY believed in the rudimentary astrology founded in the ubiquitous almanacs.”
    Once again this statement lacks foundation and is absent of fact. How can a scholar and historian of Bushman’s caliber base his opinion of the Smiths character on “they probably believed ….”
    Page 26: “Possibly in Vermont and certainly later in New York, Joseph Sr. was involved in magical practices, an unorthodox but not unusual way of connecting with the supernatural.”
    Says who?? Bushman’s footnotes regarding this statement is buried on :
    page 568. “The evidence, which is extremely thin,” is found in “Birthplace and Early Residence.” The 2nd reference states … “no clear connection has ever been proven satisfactorily of associating Joseph Sr. with some radical religious group headed by Nathaniel Wood.”
    Bushman’s own footnotes and source documents do not support his opinions and comments, yet still he attempts to support his opinion as factual by providing the reader with a reference inferring that his footnote supports his statement, when in fact it contradicts it at best. I am certain Bushman would fail any students of his that would include a footnote like this to support their opinion and conclusion.
    Page 54: “… in 1827, Joseph was on the eve of realizing himself as a prophet. He may still have been involved in magic, but he was sincere when he told Emma’s father his treasure-seeking days were over.”

    There are no references anywhere that Joseph ever had such a conversation with Emma’s parents. Neither Joseph nor any family member ever associated Joseph with magic. It was Joseph’s enemies that used this complaint to have him arrested. (Disorderly conduct is the legal term used to describe someone charging money to provide magical powers or information). Joseph was never found guilty of selling magic for money or charging money for information obtained by magical powers. Never, EVER! Bushman tries to make a case that cannot be substantiated or denied because no information is available on the issue.

    Page 43: Bushman writes:
    “Joseph from time to time drank too much.”

    Says Who? Bushman supports this statement with two footnotes. 1st reference states:
    Page 43 “a Palmyra resident said, “everybody drank to much in those times.”
    Does Bushman actually consider that statement a credible and noteworthy reference to support his demeaning comment that Joseph could not control his drinking? This statement lack foundation and fact. How could Bushman make such a statement?
    2nd footnote page 53, is a reference to “a High Council court held against Martin Harris for falsely accusing Joseph of being drunk as he translated the BofM.
    Bushman fails to mention that Martin Harris confessed in a church court that he was angry with Joseph and had lied about Joseph translating the BofM drunk. He wept and pleaded with Joseph and the church to forgive him. Joseph and the church accepted Martins apology.
    Once again, his notes and source documents do not support his wild statements. Though it is true that Joseph was known to have enjoyed wine now and then, he was also known for deploring public and private drunkenness. No one (other than Bushman and Martin Harris) including Josephs enemies ever accused Joseph of public or privet drunkenness or even suggested he ever had a drinking problem. There are several court-sworn testimonies by those who knew Joseph and who, under oath, said that Joseph was never given to drunkenness. Had Bushman lived in the 1830’sits possible that the High Council would have censored Bushman for printing such demeaning statements without evidence or testimony against Joseph.
    Page 55: footnote 103, p 575: Bushman writes: …. “The Smith family had been diagnosed as a dysfunctional family which produced a psychologically crippled son.”
    This is Total Nonsense!! A dysfunctional family. What is Bushman talking about? Who diagnosed the family as dysfunctional — Bushman?? I have provided the references Bushman uses to support his view that the Smith family was dysfunctional. Both footnotes are equally ridiculous. Bushman should be embarrassed to make such a statement and even more embarrassed to include his footnote.
    1st footnote page 575 reads: “Morian, The Sword of Labon, argues that the leg operation permanently scarred Joseph’s psyche, accounting for his bizarre religious experiences. For other psychoanalytic diagnoses, see Anderson, inside the mind.”
    This is total nonsense! What does Joseph’s leg surgery have to do with a dysfunctional family? How can Bushman consider this a credible statement? This reference is beyond belief!
    Consider this statement found in RSR:
    Page 29: Lucy writes of her husband Joseph Sr.: “The joy I felt throwing myself and my children upon the care and affection of a tender husband and father doubly paid for all my suffering”…. The children clinging to his neck, covering his face with tears and kisses that were heartily reciprocated by him”.

    This hardly sounds like a dysfunctional family. Every member of the Smith family loved and supported Joseph and each put their life at stake protecting Joseph.

    Page 44, reads: … “If Joseph initially understood the First Vision as his conversion (conversion to what?), similar to thousands of other evangelical conversions, this vision wrenched Joseph out of any ordinary track.”
    I don’t think Joseph’s vision was anything like thousands of other evangelical conversions. I think it’s safe to say that any person visited by God and Jesus Christ would “wrench them out of ordinary track.” This is nonsense.

    Page 43 & 172 Bushman speaks of Joseph’s CREEDS.
    Joseph hated creeds, yet Bushman associates creeds with Joseph.
    Page 48 & 49, and footnote #75, Page 574: Bushman speaks of Joseph having two seer stones. Joseph had only one seer stone, not two. (p. 48). Bushman’s footnote #7, “…No credible reference exists regarding the second stone other than a neighbor of the Smiths’ who claimed to have given Joseph the Seer stone. Later, Joshua Stafford demanded it back (with no success) after hearing rumors that Joseph could locate lost things with the stone. The case went to court and was cast out.
    No reasonable person would put any weight on this false claim, yet Bushman uses it to suggest that, perhaps, Joseph had a second stone, despite the fact that there is no real evidence that a second one ever existed.
    Page 70, paragraph 2: Bushman quotes Lucy Smith stating that, on Sept 12, 1823, Joseph received the Gold Plates and the Urim and Thummim back from the Angel.
    Bushman’s footnotes to this quote should have been DHC Vol. 1. 23, in which Joseph clearly states that the Plates and the U&T were returned to him a few days after they were taken from him by the angel Moroni. Bushman’s reference to the quote above in blue
    Footnote # 46, Page 578) states the following: “Bios, 125-26: Although the assertion clashes with other accounts, David Whitmer said Moroni did not return the Urim and Thummim in September. Instead, Joseph used a seer stone for the remaining translation. Kansas City Journal, June 19, 1881, Omaha Herald, Oct. 17, 1886, Interview (1885), in Whitmer, Interviews, 72, 157-200. Of the translation process, Emma said “The first that my husband translated was translated by the use of the Urim and Thummim and that was the part Martin Harris lost. After that, he used a small stone, not exactly black, but was rather a dark color.” Emma Smith Bidamon to Emma Pilgrim, Mar. 27, in EMD, 1870, in EMD, 1:532.
    Emma clearly stated that Joseph did receive the Urim and Thummim back with the gold plates; she did say that Joseph used a seer stone from that period of time forward, but did not say he used it to translate the Book of Mormon. This is another example of Bushman’s footnotes not matching his text and twisting the facts to make a point that cannot be made. Joseph Smith’s own testimony as found in the History of the Church 4:537 stares that he “translated the book of Mormon through the medium of the Urim and Thummim …by the gift and power of God.”
    Why didn’t Bushman mention that Whitmer left the church and never returned to membership. For 50 years Whitmer openly called Joseph a fallen prophet. Witmer possibly made such demeaning statements to discredit and undermine the validity of virtually everything associated with Joseph after translating the Book of Mormon including the appearance of Peter, James and John the Baptist.
    Bushman failed to include the widely published news report of newsman Thomas Wood in which he interviewed David Witmer and was told by him that Joseph translated the BofM by use of the Urim and Thummim. Woods was surprised to learn this from Whitmer because he had heard about Joseph using a seer stone” (as cited in Cook, “David Whitmer Interviewa,”56).
    Why did Bushman fail to reference Joseph’s own statement in the DHC on the subject? It should be noted that there is no record that David Whitmer ever saw the Urim and Thummim, or ever attempted to translated anything. His testimony of how the Book of Mormon was translated is simply hearsay. Whitmer was one of the three witnesses of the Gold Plates, but had no knowledge of how the translation took place. Neither Joseph Smith, Martin Harris, Emma Smith nor Oliver Cowdery ever mentioned anything other than Joseph Smith using the Urim and Thummim to translate the book of Mormon.
    Readers of Rough Stone Rolling need to be aware of Bushman’s obsession with the fringe and obscure parts of early Mormon history that lack foundation and fact and can only be supported by “maybe, perhaps, possibly or could have been the case”. President Smith in Doctrines of Salvation 3:225-26 states there is no clear evidence that Joseph Smith used the seer stone to translate the BofM. It is possible he could have, because he had one. The very stone Joseph had, he gave to Oliver Cowdery. At Oliver’s death, his widow gave it back to the church and the church has it today.(Book of Mormon Reference Companion, 712).
    I believe the Smith family was chosen and molded by God for over 2,000 years. Through adversity and challenges, God led the Smith family to Palmyra and prepared them to accept, receive and believe all that young Joseph was commanded to tell them and to do. Joseph said himself that he blamed no one for not believing his story, for if it had not happened to him, he may not have believed it himself. Christ said, in the New Testament, that no prophet is ever accepted in his own land. Despite Joseph’s youth, the Smith family did believe him and never doubted him. If anyone should have doubted young Joseph, it would have been his family. Unlike the popular pictures found in the church of the Angel Moroni standing at the foot of Joseph’s bed in a private bedroom, we know that nearly the entire family slept in the same room as Joseph and none of them heard or saw a thing, yet they all believed.
    How can Bushman or any reasonable person, believe as Bushman does, that God used magic and treasure seeking to prepare the Smith family? Why is it so hard for Bushman to accept that the Smith family was an exceptional family consisting of some of the finest spirits ever to come to this earth? The concept of Bushman that Joseph attempted to restore his father’s self image by appointing him as the church Patriarch is outrageous! His father was a visionary man, a man of faith, and unquestionable faith in Joseph. Who else could be more qualified, more deserving, more worthy, more experienced in understanding spiritually and faith in Christ than Joseph’s father.
    I wonder what Bushman would write about Joseph of the New Testament, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. God gave Joseph a vision that prepared him to accept and believe the amazing story of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. In like manner, I believe God prepared the Smith family to believe and receive Joseph’s amazing story and message.
    Bushman almost has it right when he states
    Page 54: “By 1826, even Joseph Sr. had come around to a more biblical conception of Joseph’s mission, The plates were seen less and less as a treasure and more as a religious history, preparing Joseph to conceive of himself as a translator and prophet.”
    This statement, like the others, lacks foundation and fact. Bushman offers no evidence, quotes, stories, or statements from third parties that he ever thought of the plates as anything other than a sacred religious history. It is well known that the plates lay on the kitchen table with only a cloth covering them. The family was told to never look at them and they never did. Had Joseph Sr. thought of them as a treasure rather than a sacred book, Joseph would have kept the plates away from his father. Joseph Jr. didn’t receive the gold plates until 1827. Bushman doesn’t explain what caused Joseph Sr. to begin to view the gold plates as a religious history rather than a gold treasure by 1826. No way can Bushman say that Joseph Sr. ever thought of the gold plates as anything but a religious record.
    The Smiths were poor and needed money. Bushman states that Joseph Sr. was a failure at providing for his family yet wanted respect and acceptance from his family and the community. Bushman would have the reader believe that the Joseph Senior alone was failure at farming when in reality all the farms in that region of the country failed due to frost and other natural conditions. Just prior to the Smith move to Palmyra NY, Lucy Mack Smith recorded this in her 13th chapter of her history of the church.
    “The next year an untimely frost destroyed the crops, and being the third year in succession in which the crops had failed, it almost caused a famine. This was enough; my husband was now altogether decided upon going to New York. He came in one day, in quite a thoughtful mood, and sat down; after meditating some time, he observed that, could he so arrange his affairs, he would be glad to start soon for New York with a Mr. Howard, who was going to Palmyra. He further remarked, that he could not leave consistently, as the situation of the family would not admit of his absence; besides, he was owing some money that must first be paid.”
    Supporting Joseph Jr. only alienated Joseph Sr. and every member of the Smith family from their friends in the community. Moroni forbade Joseph from receiving the plates for 4 years in part because of Joseph’s initial thought of the possible wealth that could come to the family from the treasures contained within the stone box. Moroni trusted Smith family with the gold plates and knew the Smith’s would protect the plates with their lives, if necessary. Never once did the Lord have to warn the Smith’s about even peeking or looking at the plates, or stealing the plates or showing them to others. I am not aware of a reference in which the family petitioned Joseph to see the plates after being told they were not to look at them. No record indicates that any family member ever asked to see the translations of his work or show them to anyone else as did Martin Harris and others. Why? Because they were prepared to receive them and they understood the real “sacred” value of the plates as the word of God just as were the other sacred things given and entrusted to Joseph to have in his home.
    God declared that the witnesses of the BofM were men of honor and respect and the best men on the earth to bear witness of the Gold Plates. Let us remember that Joseph Sr., Hyrum Smith and Samuel Smith were all called to be among the eight special witnesses of the gold plates and their testimony is printed on over 100 Million copies of the BofM.

    Jay Haldeman

  15. I’m becoming quite puzzled by many LDS members’ reaction to even the mention of “Rough Stone Rolling”. It seems that many of them regard the book as anti-Mormon. I read the book and appreciated it answering many of the questions I had. Though I don’t blame the Church for focusing on the polished image of Joseph Smith–especially after so much early persecution–I felt like it was important to understand some of the things the anti-Mormons have been twisting for so long.

    When one considers the dramatic change that Sheri Dew made to Deseret Book when she became CEO, namely, that she made a complete sweep of Deseret Book’s offerings to exclude anything remotely out-of-sync with the LDS Church, the fact that Deseret Book continues to sell “Rough Stone Rolling” is to me a tacit approval of the book by the Church.

    Does anyone else see Deseret Book’s selling of the book a approval of it by the Church?

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