Today a panel of the US Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals (Denver Colorado) issued a ruling that is of special interest to FAIR and this writer. In a unanimous decision, the court upheld the earlier ruling of the District Court relative to the case originally brought by Utah Lighthouse Ministry against me, my company, my wife, FAIR, and FAIR’s president.
Last night I attended another in a wonderful series of firesides hosted by the Olivewood bookstore. Tyler Livingston was also there and took good notes, so I will refer everyone to here. The speaker used his knowledge of Mesoamerican languages and interpretations of murals, stela, and other Classic period art to draw intriguing parallels with various passages in the Book of Mormon.
Earlier this month I wrote a post detailing seven admirable things about Islam. Though the actual idea was my colleague Mike Parker’s idea, I thought it necessary for several reasons:
1. True Latter-day Saints know that there is good in every religion.
2. I wanted to show that LDS opinion on Islam was knowledgable and even-handed. Most Latter-day Saints I know are not willing to accept the worst of Islam just because some loudmouth says so.
Over on Jeff Lindsay’s blog, Mormanity, he examines Gary Swank’s confusion about the differences between LDS and FLDS beliefs, and Swank’s serious use of Jeff’s satirical web site MormonCult.org as a source.
Check it out:
In my explorations, the first person to actually use the term pious fraud in conjunction with Mormonism was Mark Twain in Roughing It. Surprisingly, the reference was not to Joseph Smith, but to Brigham Young allegedly dressing up as Joseph Smith. This is Twain’s take on the narratives about assuming the prophetic mantle. More recently, Dan Vogel’s biography is essentially a book length defense of an earlier 1996 essay championing the pious fraud model as the most plausible solution framed by Jan Shipps in “The Prophet Puzzle:”
What we have in Mormon historiography is two Josephs: the one who started out digging for money and when he was unsuccessful, turned to propheteering, and the one who had visions and dreamed dreams, restored the church, and revealed the will of the Lord to a sinful world.
On the “Setting the Record Straight” thread there was a comment made by MarkW that indicated that Tracy Bachman, wife of Tal Bachman, had independently corroborated Tal Bachman’s story of what was said by their ex-stake president.
MarkW said: Actually, his wife did speak publicly about this at the exmo conference. So there is corroboration from her. I don’t remember how specific or on-point it was, so we’d have to go back and review that. And while her witness would not be direct corroboration of Tal’s meeting with the SP it’d be corroboration that the SP did say the type of things in question to someone else.
I have lived for some time among Muslims in the Middle East during the 1980s and 1990s–and taught many of them here in the USA since the late 1990s. This contact has begotten enormous admiration for them. My colleague, Mike Parker, suggested that I post some reasons why I admire them. I thought that this was a grand idea. The only problem I have is choosing only seven reasons (Mike suggested five.). I won’t have space for many more. This list is in no particular order:
Tal Bachman, son of rock legend Randy Bachman, was raised in the Church. Through a crisis of faith, Tal decided to leave the Church in late 2003. Since that time he has been sharing his exit story with those who are curious and in various venues critical of the Church. (In the parlance of those who leave the Church, an exit story is their telling of awakening to the knowledge that the Church is no longer true for them. In many respects, an exit story is simply another type of conversion story or, more properly, a deconversion story.)
Part of Tal’s exit story revolves around his interaction with his stake president at the time, Randy Keyes. Tal often tells, with incredulity, how he heard from his stake president that he didn’t believe in different aspects of the gospel either.
A recurrent criticism cropping up in the discussion on Egan’s New York Times article is that polygamy inevitably creates “Lost Boys.” These are young men that get kicked out of a polygamous community to reduce competition for a resource in short supply –that of marriage partners. One commenter put it this way:
A simple polygamous example involves 6 people:
one man has 3 wives
two men have none
In this model, one man’s gain is another man’s loss. I would like to explore, through some preliminary statistical analysis, why this isn’t an adequate model for 19th century Mormonism, but it may be relevant to contemporary FLDS. I say “may” because I do not have enough data about the FLDS to make a judgment. I can, however, address whether the criticisms lobbied at them apply to 19th century Mormonism.
This week New York Times blogger Timothy Egan made a sophomoric attempt to connect the modern FLDS church’s practice of polygamy to that of early Mormon leaders Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Excerpt:
[Mitt Romney’s] faith was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith Jr., an itinerant treasure-seeker from upstate New York who used a set of magic glasses to translate a lost scripture from God. His personality was infectious, the religion very approachable.
It would have been just another Christian faith had not Smith let his libido lead him into trouble. Before he died at the hands of a mob, he married at least 33 women and girls; the youngest was 14, and was told she had to become Smith’s bedmate or risk eternal damnation.
Smith was fortunate to find a religious cover for his desire. His polygamy “revelation” was put into The Doctrine and Covenants, one of three sacred texts of Mormonism. It’s still there – the word of God. And that’s why, to the people in the compound at Eldorado, [Texas,] the real heretics are in Salt Lake City.
As his biographer, Fawn Brodie, wrote, Joseph Smith “could not rest until he had redefined the nature of sin and erected a stupendous theological edifice to support his new theories on marriage.”
It is hard for me to imagine more factual errors and loaded language that could be squeezed into four short paragraphs.