Mormonism and Wikipedia/Golden plates/Background/December 2009

Table of Contents


A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia: Mormonism and Wikipedia/Golden plates/Background
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An analysis of the Wikipedia article "Golden plates" (Version December 10, 2009)

Background

From the Wikipedia article:
During the Second Great Awakening, Joseph Smith, Jr. lived on his parents' farm near Palmyra, New York. At the time churches in the region contended so vigorously for souls that western New York became known as the "burned-over district" because the fires of religious revivals had burned over it so often.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Jan Shipps, "Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition," University of Illinois Press, pp. 7

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Western New York was also noted for its participation in a "craze for treasure hunting."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bennett (1893) . The treasure-seeking culture in early 19th century New England is described in Quinn (1998) , pp. 25–26.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Beginning as a youth in the early 1820s, Smith was periodically hired, for about $14 per month, as a scryer, using what were termed "seer stones" in attempts to locate lost items and buried treasure.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1838b) , pp. 42–43 (stating that he was what he called a "money digger", but saying that it "was never a very profitable job to him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it").

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith's contemporaries described his method for seeking treasure as putting the stone in a white stovepipe hat, putting his face over the hat to block the light, and then "seeing" the information in the reflections of the stone.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Harris (1833) , pp. 253-54; Hale (1834) , p. 265; Clark (1842) , p. 225; Turner (1851) , p. 216; Harris (1859) , p. 164; Tucker (1867) , pp. 20–21; Lapham (1870) , p. 305; Lewis (Lewis) , p. 1; Mather (1880) , p. 199; Bushman (2005) , pp. 50–51, 54–55.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith did not consider himself to be a common "peeper" or "glass-looker," a practice he called "nonsense."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 50–51,

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Rather, Smith and his family viewed their folk magical practices as spiritual gifts.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 50–51.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Lucy Mack Smith later remembered that the family did abandon its labor "to win the faculty of Abrac, drawing magic circles, or sooth saying 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."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • No citation provided.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Later, Smith would view the power of "seeing" as the greatest of all divine gifts, greater even than that of a prophet.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Book of Mormon, Mosiah 8:15-17.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Although Smith later rejected his youthful treasure-hunting activities as frivolous and immaterial, he never repudiated the stones themselves nor denied their presumed power to find treasure; nor did he ever relinquish the magic culture in which he was raised.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 50–51 Smith "never repudiated the stones or denied their power to find treasure. Remnants of the magical culture stayed with him to the end."; Jan Shipps, Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition, University of Illinois Press, 11.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Joseph Smith's first stone, apparently the same one he used at least part of the time to translate the golden plates, was chocolate-colored and about the size of an egg,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Roberts (1930) , p. 129. Roberts was at the time the official historian of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his opinion has considerable weight, given that the LDS Church attempted to downplay any influence of magic in early Latter Day Saint history.[Citation needed}

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
found in a deep well he helped dig for one of his neighbors.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Harris (1859) , p. 163; Lapham (1870) , pp. 305–306. The stone was found in either 1819 (Tucker (1867) , pp. 19–20 Bennett (1893) ) or 1822 Chase (1833) , p. 240.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
This stone may still be in the possession of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Joseph Fielding Smith (a former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints): "The statement has been made that the Urim and Thummim was on the altar in the Manti Temple when that building was dedicated. The Urim and Thummim so spoken of, however, was the seer stone which was in the possession of the Prophet Joseph Smith in early days. This seer stone is currently in the possession of the Church." Doctrines of Salvation 3: 225.

FAIR's analysis: