Rough Stone Rolling -- Richard Bushman

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Rob4Hope
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Rough Stone Rolling -- Richard Bushman

Post by Rob4Hope » 29 Mar 2016, 11:23

I don't expect this topic to necessarily go anywhere, but perhaps it is a blog idea for me. I'm reading the Bushman book "Rough Stone Rolling". I'm like 7% into it--I read on the train as I ride to and from work.

I'm reading it for multiple reasons: 1) to learn things I don't know; 2) to review and perhaps re-frame my own FC issues; 3) to try to resolve other concerns I have.

Observations:

I am grateful for the discussions about JS and the seer stone--it isn't hidden in this work. There is also a discussion of the folk-magic that existed back then, and other seer stones being used. Bushman said that JS never really completely left the folk-magic of his day: it was something that was woven into his life in some ways until the end.

I am intrigued by the testimony of Emma. When she wrote for JS, she said he had his head in the hat, and he dictated without stopping. She also said that he couldn't write or dictate a clear letter himself. This is profound because if anyone had a reason to be angry, it was Emma. She told this "testimony" later in her life.

I recall something Bill Reel said years ago that stuck with me: "If the whole thing was a fraud, it would required multiple people to be duped. Because there were so many people involved, I don't believe it was a fraud." (something like this).

I don't know where the BofM came from,...but I struggle to believe it was an "earthly" fraud. Something was going on, and at this point, I am willing to leave it at that.

Roy
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling -- Richard Bushman

Post by Roy » 29 Mar 2016, 13:09

Rob4Hope wrote:I am intrigued by the testimony of Emma. When she wrote for JS, she said he had his head in the hat, and he dictated without stopping. She also said that he couldn't write or dictate a clear letter himself. This is profound because if anyone had a reason to be angry, it was Emma. She told this "testimony" later in her life.
Emma did have some reason to be angry with her husband but she also loved him very much. I tend to discount this testimony told later in life for several reasons:

1) She was trying to preserve her husbands legacy for the sake of herself and the children.
2) Her son (who was the one asking the questions) was at this time president of the reorganized church.
3) She repeatedly denies that JS ever had anything to do with polygamy.
4) She talks of having handled and felt the outline of the plates while they were covered in cloth. I personally believe that the plates were spiritual/visionary in nature for several reasons. This statement of Emma's is perhaps the only one that I am aware of that would strictly support tangible/physical plates. I therefore feel compelled to discount her testimony because it is not congruent with my own theory. :mrgreen:
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Re: Rough Stone Rolling -- Richard Bushman

Post by Ray DeGraw » 29 Mar 2016, 13:59

Love the book - especially since I have never had a literalist mindset.
I don't know where the BofM came from,...but I struggle to believe it was an "earthly" fraud. Something was going on, and at this point, I am willing to leave it at that.


That, essentially, is where I have chosen to place my faith.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Roy
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling -- Richard Bushman

Post by Roy » 31 Mar 2016, 14:25

Please read the post Brother Bushman wrote on JS and his critics found here: http://www.mormondiscussionpodcast.org/ ... y-29-2008/

It is generally a wonderful description of a faith crisis.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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LookingHard
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling -- Richard Bushman

Post by LookingHard » 31 Mar 2016, 18:44

Thanks Roy. A good read. It does make me think "what category am I going to move into". I am still trying to figure that out.


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Rob4Hope
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling -- Richard Bushman

Post by Rob4Hope » 31 Mar 2016, 20:32

About 10% through.

Bushman says the BofM is more or less an enigma: the accounts of Martin Harris visit to the literary people and Charles Anton are mixed; the story of the push for people to steal the plates makes sense though because of the gold digging; but how the whole thing transpired with the Urim and Thummin is confusiong--at the beginning with the lost 116 pages he used the Urim and Thumin and had a curtain between him and Harris? Was he looking at the plates then, or something else?....

Bushman is not clear on these details, and why Joseph would then go back to sticking his head in a hat and looking at that other stone makes little sense: why would he do that if he could breath more freely and just look through the spectacles? I would think that having your head stuck down into a hat for hours and hours would get a little uncomfortable after a while.

So, these are some of the things that don't make a lot of sense.

Also, I like how Bushman's was pretty clear that JS kindof bridged the magic beliefs of the day and religion, and he never really crossed out of the magic side completely. The seer stone idea persisted throughout his life.

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Heber13
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling -- Richard Bushman

Post by Heber13 » 01 Apr 2016, 09:01

Rob4Hope wrote:I like how Bushman's was pretty clear that JS kindof bridged the magic beliefs of the day and religion
I think that is why it is one of my favorite books.

It is not an open and shut case one way or another. It leaves the reader with the chance to still believe in JS as a prophet, or see him as a hoax and think it is all made up even if with good intentions.

I felt other authors, like Quinn, came up with their opinion based on the facts they uncovered and were presenting facts to sway the reader in one direction.

Bushman doesn't seem to do that as much, although he acknowledges it is hard to not have some influence...a historian does have to pick and choose what to include in the book, which means there is some things that are left out.

Regardless, I think it shows it is more complex than just saying "Joseph made it all up as a snake oil salesman believing in voodoo magic that is clearly primative to today's world". It just isn't that clear.

What I love is that since it is not so clear, I can see the flaws in the church by trying to present it at a primary level of it being so easy the work of a prophet, and the evil world working against him (good vs evil so clearly black and white).

THe facts present things that seem to appear happened. A book was created. HOW the book was created is a mystery and I embrace mysticism and magic as ways it can come about. But a book happened.

A printing press was destroyed.
Mobs did try to remove saints.
Joseph did practice polygamy and was not out in the open about it, even to Emma.
Temples were changed and developed in a process, alongside Masonic involvement in the communities.

These are facts.

The "why" behind these facts and why people were doing what they were doing in Joseph's day (including why Joseph was doing things) is left to the stories we create in our mind around facts. I can understand why some will believe Joseph was a fraud, why some believe he got off course and was a fallen prophet, why some believe he got in over his head and loss control of the movement to his so called friends he trusted, and also why some people believe he was a prophet like Moses...which is prettier from a distance than up close under a microscope.

I love how it is clear the head in hat and things like that which members of the church can no longer ignore or think is just coming from Anti-mormon sources that are lying. Nope. It happened.

Doesn't mean Joseph was or was not a prophet, though.
Rob4Hope wrote:The seer stone idea persisted throughout his life.
That kind of information is what every mormon should know about our history.

What you do with that information is up to you and your testimony of the prophet, the Book of Mormon, the church, the gospel and how God works with humans.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

Rob4Hope
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling -- Richard Bushman

Post by Rob4Hope » 01 Apr 2016, 10:29

Gunna throw something controversial out there....

It appears they used divining rods during this time, and Oliver Cowdry, according to Quinn, had one and that is what JS said was "a gift from God"...

In today's world, we would FREAK OUT if we knew someone was using divining rods. What about Ouija boards and things like that? If you ask me, it uses the exact same principles. Magic back then seemed to be part of their lives, and some of it, according to JS, was sanctioned and even gifted from God himself.

This is all very interesting stuff to me--it shows how the times in which we live have a profound influence on the narrative.

Would we reject the prophet if he went into his room, pulled out his divining rod and did some fancy incantations or whatever was required to get it all working, and then told us it was from God?

This stuff doesn't shock me because I was forwarned and knew a lot of it before I started delving more. But, it certainly makes you think...and in some cases, even forces (at least on me) choices.

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nibbler
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling -- Richard Bushman

Post by nibbler » 01 Apr 2016, 11:52

[Admin Note: I removed a link, since we have had in the past a long discussion about the linked site. Some here believe it is anti-Mormon; some do not. We don't link to anti-Mormon sites, and there are enough participants here who see it as anti-Mormon that we can't link to it without violating our policy. Sorry, nibbler. Great comment, though.]

In 2016 we don't like divining rods being used in 1830 by church leaders... but we seem to have no problem whatsoever with the Liahona being used by a prophet in 600 B.C.E.

What's the difference between a Ouija board and the Liahona? What about that brass serpent? What about Moses' staff?

If there's one thing religion ain't, it's internally consistent.
The time to relax is when you don't have time for it. - Sydney J. Harris

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FaithfulSkeptic
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling -- Richard Bushman

Post by FaithfulSkeptic » 01 Apr 2016, 13:13

Roy wrote:Please read the post Brother Bushman wrote on JS and his critics found here: http://www.mormondiscussionpodcast.org/ ... y-29-2008/

It is generally a wonderful description of a faith crisis.
Thanks Roy. I hadn't seen this before, but I really liked this. I'm debating showing DW.
I know of no sign on the doors of our meetinghouses that says, “Your testimony must be this tall to enter.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2014

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