How do you reconcile Joseph Smith?

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Minyan Man
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Re: How do you reconcile Joseph Smith?

Post by Minyan Man » 08 Jul 2017, 15:13

Simple? Really?
You hurt my feelings.
Time to cry.

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mom3
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Re: How do you reconcile Joseph Smith?

Post by mom3 » 08 Jul 2017, 16:27

Oh no Minyan Man - No tears it's a compliment.

The gospel is simple. Not all tied in knots, deep thinking, intellectual genius stuff. Love. Straight, simple, sincere. You.

I love that you don't think too deep.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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LookingHard
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Re: How do you reconcile Joseph Smith?

Post by LookingHard » 08 Jul 2017, 19:04

I have been a bit reluctant, but I will go ahead and say where I am at.

I can't seem to reconcile this issue and at least for now I have given up on it. I just go mute when "Praise to the man" is sung.

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DarkJedi
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Re: How do you reconcile Joseph Smith?

Post by DarkJedi » 08 Jul 2017, 20:12

I can't say I put stuff on a shelf anymore, at one time I did. My definition of doing so is just ignoring the issue and/or not thinking about it. I do think about these issues.

-I guess I was fortunate enough to have people who told me some stuff in my early church experience. One of those things was that Joseph was a polygamist. I didn't realize for a long time that some things I knew were not common knowledge because the people who told me these things (good active and believing members) just said them matter-of-factly. That's not to say I didn't learn stuff from the essay - I did not know he married teen girls or that he married wives of other living men. However, it is what it is. We also need to be careful that we don't frame things that happend then according to modern norms. It was not necessarily unusual for teenagers to marry then, even to men much older than they were. That may be repugnant to most now, it was not so much so then.

-I also knew there were different accounts of the FV but I had not read them until they became available through the Joseph Smith Papers Project. Since Joseph was the only one to experience what he said he experienced there is no way to know what happened other than what he said happened. I think there are lots of explanations for the differences, including those mentioned in the essay. Joseph actually talked very little about the FV and didn't like to talk about it. He considered it a personal experience, not one that was meant for sharing with everybody. And he did not consider the FV as what made him a prophet - I think he believed others could (and did) have similar experiences. I think we emphasize it too much. FWIW, I prefer the 1832 version and I believe JS was not very concerned with what church to join - he was concerned with being forgiven of his own sins, though.

-I am not overly familiar with Masonic ceremonies, but my understanding is that only very small parts of the temple ceremony are similar to the Masonic rites. I see Joseph as more of a gatherer of truth as opposed to a restorer of truth. That is, I think he was very interested in finding religious truth but that most of it was not actually revealed to him by God. He found it (perhaps sometimes through inspiration) in the many other churches, traditions, and philosophies of his time. Our theology is mostly a hybrid of other theologies and philosophies, very heavily Methodist - sort of like how Mark is the basis for Matthew and Luke. I think it is possible that sometimes God revealed or inspired Joseph about some things but without details. The need for a temple ceremony of some sort could have been one of those occasions - he may have been inspired one was needed but not the details for what it was to include. I personally think it is too focused on the fall and not enough on the atonement, but that may very well be because of Methodist and other theology as well. I do understand the relationship of the fall and the atonement, but don't fully agree that there would not need to be an atonement without the fall, but that's much more complex than this conversation.

I deal with it thus. Joseph Smith was a flawed human being just as I am - probably more flawed and sinful than I am (I have never even considered adultery, for instance). In one way that gives me great hope because if God did indeed work through Joseph Smith as a prophet despite his sinfulness, there is great hope for me. It also tells me repentance and forgiveness are much easier than some of us believe and grace is far more powerful than works.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Awakening
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Re: How do you reconcile Joseph Smith?

Post by Awakening » 08 Jul 2017, 22:02

I wish I could say something to help you feel better. It is devastating to reach the points you are expressing about Joseph Smith. Once upon a time he was one of the most amazing men to me. I honored and respected him so much. When I started to learn all the truth about Joseph, I was certain the things I was hearing were wrong and misconstrued. Sadly, as I dug deeper and learned more historical facts, and I was selective where I researched, I had a complete shift in the way I felt about Joseph. Contrary to what many apologist would have you believe, marrying young girls was NOT anywhere near the norm in that century. Emma was 22 years old and Joseph 21 years old when they eloped! I am older than you are and had been very active and engaged in the church all my life and many things written in the now published church essays was not common knowledge and even many things are being stated differently than what I was taught and led to believe over the years No wonder so many people are struggling with the church's truth claims. If people bother to research the footnotes with the essays, there is still information being spun and misrepresented and even used in the opposite way as was the original intent. I am shocked at the deceitful things I have discovered that my once held beloved church and leaders are doing. I am sorry you are hurting. This is very painful information to process. Sending hugs and best wishes as you continue to move forward on your faith journey. I know many people who have been through this as well and please know that so many are at a place where they are experiencing peace, hope, joy, beauty and even excitement in shaping new paradigms and life decisions. :smile:

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SilentDawning
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Re: How do you reconcile Joseph Smith?

Post by SilentDawning » 09 Jul 2017, 11:22

I deal with it through agnosticism. Someone said "History is a pack of lies, agreed upon" (Napoleon said that).

In this case, there isn't even agreement about some of JS's key behaviors as a prophet. So I don't try to reconcile them. I did have testimony building experiences when younger, although those experiences are battered and bruised. So, I choose to have tremendous faith in my own ignorance, lack of judgment, and personalization of church experiences.

I have also dealt with it by lessening my commitment to the church as a whole. I still go, still support family, still have a calling, but it's not nearly at the same level I did when I was a full believer.

These two things -- agnosticism about the church's claims, and lessening my overall effort directed at the church makes it easy to listen to objectionable material about JS. It really doesn't bother me unless I am asked to "give till it hurts" for the church. Then it matters. Fortunately, we live in a time when you be non-committal without consequences. Other than no temple recommend...and I'm cool with that.
Last edited by SilentDawning on 09 Jul 2017, 19:31, edited 1 time in total.
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Gerald
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Re: How do you reconcile Joseph Smith?

Post by Gerald » 09 Jul 2017, 15:51

I like the focus being on Jesus Christ (whose ideas I can get behind) and not Joseph Smith (who sometimes seems to me as good-intentioned but off the mark).

I suggest reading two books: Rough Stone Rolling and In Sacred Loneliness. Rough Stone Rolling is written from a faith-based perspective but doesn't shy away from some of the challenging topics. In Sacred Loneliness (about Joseph Smith's wives), demonstrated to me that my ideas about polygamy in Joseph Smith's time needed some adjusting. It's still a challenging topic, though. But I felt "better armed" from reading these two books.

On a personal level (and I hope this doesn't sound like I'm cheating) but I kind of compartmentalize all that stuff and focus on the here and now of the Church.

But make no mistake, it's a tough trod to get through!
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
---Edwin Arlington Robinson---

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: How do you reconcile Joseph Smith?

Post by hawkgrrrl » 09 Jul 2017, 16:57

-I had NO idea Joseph Smith was a polygamist until I read the church essay. Call me ignorant, but this 20-something year old, very active, seminary grad, BYU grad thought that Joseph Smith was monogamous. And not only was he polygamist but he was sealed to very young girls and women who already had husbands. Even if those relationships weren't "sexual".... why?! If women were already sealed to their husbands, they didn't need another sealing. A 14 year old girl has her whole life to find a husband and be sealed.
I agree that it's tough to deal with the real JS rather than the paragon of virtue presented in church manuals. I do think he often misunderstood what he was doing, he justified his own wrong actions, and he tried to get away with things he shouldn't have. I consider Fanny Alger to have been an affair. I also consider polygamy in all forms (worse under BY) to be repugnant. In JS's case, my greatest objection is 1) Emma didn't agree to it, and 2) some of the women were too young to be throwing their lives away like that (as you point out).
-I knew there were different accounts of the first vision, but I didn't realize that the earliest accounts didn't even mention both Heavenly Father and Jesus appearing to him. The LDS essay explains that when you tell the same story to different people or at different times, certain aspects of the story are emphasized and certain details can be left out. But that seems like kind of a huge detail to leave out... I'm just not satisfied with the essay's justifications.
This one bothers me less because the reason we are so hung up on the FV is the way the church co-opted it for our own missionary efforts. That wasn't even during JS's lifetime. Missionaries in his day were selling the BOM to interested people. The FV came about later as a central story to the restoration, so when JS captured it in 1838 (the version we all know so well), it was 18 years after the events, and he already knew "how the story ended." We can all tell stories in many different ways depending on the point we are trying to make. In his early accounts, he was trying to show that he had been forgiven of his sins. Personally, I think our biggest issue with all these historical stories is that history almost never matches the narrative we create.
-How our temple ceremony is very similar to the free mason's rituals and Joseph Smith just happened to become a free mason right before introducing the endowment.
I've always liked Brian's view of this one (he's the original admin here). He says JS just used what he had at hand, which was masonry, and then altered it to create a ritual that got the points across that God was trying to help him convey. There are similarities, obviously, handshakes, tokens, etc., but the underlying story is not the same, and the covenants are different. It deviates in some very important ways. Technically masonry is non-religious. But, aside from that, it's impossible to escape the fact that JS and most masons of his day did in reality believe that masonry was thousands of years old (which most people today agree is not remotely true). I think we have to take things like signs and tokens as symbolic of covenants made, not as literal salvation-triggers (except in that covenants lead to salvation).

GBSmith
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Re: How do you reconcile Joseph Smith?

Post by GBSmith » 09 Jul 2017, 17:27

hawkgrrrl wrote:
09 Jul 2017, 16:57
I've always liked Brian's view of this one (he's the original admin here). He says JS just used what he had at hand, which was masonry, and then altered it to create a ritual that got the points across that God was trying to help him convey. There are similarities, obviously, handshakes, tokens, etc., but the underlying story is not the same, and the covenants are different. It deviates in some very important ways. Technically masonry is non-religious. But, aside from that, it's impossible to escape the fact that JS and most masons of his day did in reality believe that masonry was thousands of years old (which most people today agree is not remotely true). I think we have to take things like signs and tokens as symbolic of covenants made, not as literal salvation-triggers (except in that covenants led to salvation).
What concerns me is that he used masonry in ways that relied on it's being factual when it is not. And it was used as a "salvation-trigger" in it's claim that the signs and tokens were necessary get past the sentinels to return to the Father. And as a master mason I can tell you that the similarities are not insignificant even with the five points of fellowship and penalties taken out.

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: How do you reconcile Joseph Smith?

Post by hawkgrrrl » 09 Jul 2017, 22:18

What concerns me is that he used masonry in ways that relied on it's being factual when it is not.
He also believed the second coming was imminent and took the KJV literally in areas where it clearly isn't.
And it was used as a "salvation-trigger" in it's claim that the signs and tokens were necessary get past the sentinels to return to the Father.
Garments were also viewed as a literal physical protection, but that has been repurposed to be more of a spiritual protection. People in JS's day were very literal about things. People in our day are not.
And as a master mason I can tell you that the similarities are not insignificant even with the five points of fellowship and penalties taken out.
Yes, I'm aware. My maternal uncles were masons and I've read up on the ceremony. The signs, tokens, etc. are obviously copied. The story (Garden of Eden vs. Hiram Abiff) is a departure, and doing the covenants vs. achieving different masonic levels is also not the same. It's definitely more than 50% masonry, but with a religious twist.

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