Specific works/One Nation Under Gods/Use of sources/America's Fighting Prophet?

FairMormon Answers Wiki Table of Contents

Chapter 9, March to Martyrdom: America's Fighting Prophet?

The Quote

One Nation under Gods, page 179 (hardback)

On June 30, 1843, Smith fought and boasted again of his strength, saying: "I feel as strong as a giant....I pulled up with one hand the strongest man that could be found. Then two men tried, but they could not pull me up."36

The Reference

Endnote 36, page 544 (hardback)

36. HC, vol. 5, 466.

The Problems

In the quote above, the author seeks illustrate a violent personality in Joseph Smith. If one reads this quote carefully, however, it might strike the reader odd that the struggle between Joseph and his 'opponents' did not involved something like tackling, hitting, or throwing down--which are typical action words used when describing a fight. On the contrary, the struggle involved a "pulling up" motion--a description that would in fact fit one of Joseph Smith's favorite recreational games: Stick-pulling. Could it be?

Perhaps if we were to look up the passage, we might be able to get a clue. Take a look at the whole quote, omission and all (the bold portion was not included in the author's quote):

I feel as strong as a giant. I pulled sticks with the men coming along, and I pulled up with one hand the strongest man that could be found. Then two men tried, but they could not pull me up.

This is not a violent description at all! "Pulling sticks" is a game of sitting on the ground, facing one another, placing feet together, grabbing forward to a stick, and attempting to pull the other person up from the ground.

Isn't it preposterous that the author thinks that his readers will ignore the ellipses, and accept with open arms any piece manufactured drivel, so long that the information casts the prophet Joseph in a negative light? Shame on him. Likewise, shame on Sandra Tanner who endorsed the author's book, calling it "a concise, accurate, and easy-to-understand history of Mormonism"; or Hank Hanagraph, who crowns the book as a publication that reveals "the true and complete history of Mormonism"; or Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic Magazine, who ironically raves, "One Nation Under Gods is a triumph of research and wisdom."

The irony noted is that the definition of skeptic is "a person who questions the validity, authenticity, or truth of something purporting to be factual." Unfortunately, the author and his endorsers are not at all concerned about validity, authenticity, or truth.