Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

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Kumahito
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Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by Kumahito » 15 Oct 2013, 21:18

I posted this same thought on NOM, but wanted the Stay LDS perspective as well. My faith examination has been a bit piecemeal - a little from this topic and a little from that one. I've not done a systematic examination of Mormon belief to decide what of it I believe and what I don't. So about 3 months ago, DW and I decided to read something together that would be fairly encompassing. We didn't want to read something that a TBM would label as "anti-Mormon lies." We decided on Rough Stone Rolling - I bought the book at Deseret Book, for crying out loud. I know Brother Bushman is a believer and comes at the history from that angle, but that's fine. We purposely chose RSR over Grant Palmer's book, or Fawn Brodie's, specifically because we didn't want the tenor of the writing to influence us negatively.

So, we finished RSR last week. Now, for those who have read it, here's my question: how can a TBM who has read RSR still have an unqualified and unreserved testimony of JS? At the very least, I think you gotta say "he may have had some serious character flaws, but he was still a Prophet." So how does a TBM who knows about peep stones, treasure digging, polyandry, 14-year-old brides, keeping many of the marriages a secret from Emma, etc. still go on just like they did before? How does Brother Bushman do it?

I'm not saying that I think JS wasn't inspired or divinely directed, but I think at the least you've got to admit that he had some serious problems in his personality and character.

If you've read RSR, I'm wondering how it influenced you?
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Orson
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by Orson » 15 Oct 2013, 21:45

Kumahito wrote:How can a TBM who has read RSR still have an unqualified and unreserved testimony of JS? At the very least, I think you gotta say "he may have had some serious character flaws, but he was still a Prophet." So how does a TBM who knows about peep stones, treasure digging, polyandry, 14-year-old brides, keeping many of the marriages a secret from Emma, etc. still go on just like they did before? How does Brother Bushman do it?
I don't think Bushman has a "before" as you may assume. As a young undergrad at Harvard he came against some serious criticisms of religion and also read "No Man Knows My History." As you acknowledge the problem is not that Joseph could have been inspired, the problem is the idealistic expectations that we have set up for him. The more idealistic the harder the crash. When members have known more about why he may have been chastised of the Lord (as we are taught that he was) it is not such a shock.

I have heard Bushman quoted as saying "Don't worry about your testimony changing, that's what we call growing up."

My reading of RSR coincided with my "crash." I won't say it caused it, I was also reading other sources to verify/expound on the topics RSR introduced but the real cause of my crash was the fragile ornament of expectations that was perched precariously on top of a flimsy pedestal. If all the historical information was widely know and I had been able to assimilate it slowly there would have been no potential for the same kind of crash.
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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by hawkgrrrl » 15 Oct 2013, 22:10

Like Bushman, I too grew up around anti-Mormon criticism and also going to the church sites, many of which (at least back in the day) portray a lot of this enigmatic information. I didn't really have a hero-worship thing about JS. Remember, Moses slew an Egyptian. Prophets in the OT and BOM were not perfect, just the imperfect remembrance of them says they were. My husband likewise has the view that JS could be deeply flawed and even lacking in self-awareness and still have done the work he was given to do. Here's another thing to consider. JS was killed at a fairly young age, so maybe he had outlived his usefulness to the cause. Who knows?

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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by Harmony » 15 Oct 2013, 22:15

I am currently reading RSR, and am most of the way through it. I have to say that for me it was surprising and somewhat distressing, but I also feel like I much prefer having more knowledge of the events that occurred during that time. I think in large part I was dismayed that I knew so little of the actual events that happened, and it made me angry that the church manuals, etc., have been so whitewashed. It kind of left me feeling like I'd been snowed. I also worried if what I had been teaching my children was true or not. Peepstones, polygomy, polyandry, debt, failed businesses, it does make it hard to understand how a prophet could have so many failings. And D & C 132, that just seems plain wrong to me on so many levels. If our current prophet had those same issues, I can't imagine he would be the prophet still.

That being said, I am glad to be finishing up this book, because I don't want to be blindsided again by outside information. I want to be informed so I can make an informed decision. I still think that it is possible he was a prophet. He would have to be a very creative genius storyteller to come up with the BOM like he did. I do feel like the first vision occurred, and he was sincere about his desire to do God's will. ANd he was willing to give up everything to do what he understood to be God's will.

He definately wasn't portrayed accurately in church history. And man, do I feel bad for Emma. If our church gave people "Sainthood," she deserves the title.

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HiJolly
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by HiJolly » 15 Oct 2013, 22:31

Kumahito wrote:how can a TBM who has read RSR still have an unqualified and unreserved testimony of JS?

I don't know. My view of him changed, certainly. But I was still able to see how he could be a prophet, mistakes, weaknesses and all.
Kumahito wrote:If you've read RSR, I'm wondering how it influenced you?

I marveled at how JS could have done all he did. I think 10 parts bad 90 parts good. And I gained a real appreciation for how critics have the advantage when characterizing someone's heart & soul after the fact.

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Curt Sunshine
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 Oct 2013, 23:38

I have studied enough history to know that pretty much every extraordinary person who changed history in a significant way was deeply flawed in some way - or can be dismissed pretty easily by someone who doesn't want to accept him or her as what s/he claimed to be.

Seriously, without the Savior and Redeemer reinterpretation of the promised Messiah's mission, Jesus of Nazareth was an abject failure - just one of multiple rabble-rousers and would-be-reformers killed by the Romans in that era. I'm not saying he failed or that he was just another guy who got lucky by having Saul/Paul spread his message; I'm saying it is the easiest thing in the world to look at his life and laugh at the claims about him. They simply aren't supported by "the facts" - but I still have no problem believing he actually could have been God's chosen representative to save and exalt His children. I can take that literally or figuratively - or both. I love what he taught, so I accept it came from God - even as I understand the intellectual questions that can't be answered satisfactorily.

Those things aren't on a shelf. They have been examined, weighed and balanced against what I want to believe and become.

I admire Joseph, even as I don't accept some of the things he did as being of God. I like that he described himself as a rough stone rolling and that he was the most chastised person, by far, in the D&C. I just wish we all accepted his self-evaluation in those times of candor.
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Harmony
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by Harmony » 15 Oct 2013, 23:54

Ray said: "I admire Joseph, even as I don't accept some of the things he did as being of God. I like that he described himself as a rough stone rolling and that he was the most chastised person, by far, in the D&C. I just wish we all accepted his self-evaluation in those times of candor."
I will have to go back and read the D & C and review his self-evaluation. He must have believed 100 percent in what he was doing to make the efforts he did to build temples, share the gospel, send out missionaries, establish Zion. I have a great appreciation for his dedication and service. I hope he is who he said he was. And reading the RSR is certainly an informative book on real events that occurred.

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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by Ann » 16 Oct 2013, 00:54

Kumahito wrote:At the very least, I think you gotta say "he may have had some serious character flaws, but he was still a Prophet."
Stands to reason that this will become the new "TBM" standard, but, extrapolating from personal experience to the church as a whole (which maybe I shouldn't do), it's not going to be a painless transition.

I read RSR and thought, "Wow, my crazy family was right." (My parents were adult converts and their families made it their life mission to dig at us with JS's failings. And we made it our mission to deny them. Lots of bad feelings and estrangement. . . for what?)

I want to put in a plug for Bushman's "On the Road With Joseph Smith." It's short and I found a lot of comforting, interesting tidbits in it.
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DarkJedi
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by DarkJedi » 16 Oct 2013, 04:43

I am not a TBM by any means, and there really wasn't a "before" for me, either. I am from upstate NY, and if you look into local histories things about JS are there - the peep stones, treasure digging, etc.. Admittedly the polyandry is newer info to me, but it fits with what I already knew so it's not a big deal really - I don't like it less or more than polygamy, they're both wrong in my view. So, as seems to be the consensus so far, I also have no problem accepting JS had flaws yet really did have some spiritual experiences and was a prophet. I don't disagree with the thought that his young death may have been related to his usefulness being over, and likewise I do find plausible some of the offshoot LDS ideas about JS being a fallen prophet, and I don't totally buy in to the "restoration" idea.
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Meh Mormon
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by Meh Mormon » 16 Oct 2013, 06:35

I have read the book and so has my wife (most of it at least). We have had very different reactions to it. It seems to have lead to her dissafection with the Church, whereas for me it seemed to not bother me.

For me it shows that JS was a flawed human being that had a spiritual awakening and dealt with it as best as he could. Did he make mistakes (polygamy, hiding it from Emma, etc.)? Of course he did, we all make mistakes. My wife stated once that I give JS a lot of leeway (sp?) with the things that he did. Maybe I do. I try and put myself in his situation. There was a lot that he knew and was being "bombarded" with a lot of info in a short ammount of time. I know when that happens to me at work, I make some mistakes, ask for clarification, and correct those mistakes. I think his biggest mistake was the decision to destroy the printing press which ultimately led to his death.

I didn't know the man, nor am I able to judge him.


PS - HiJolly, it's nice to see yet another lds.net member here. I go by a different screen name over there (CM) ;)

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