metalrain wrote: It's hard for me to think about things logically and balance faith/spirituality, especially from what the church has taught vs. the historical details omitted.
IE: Joseph died a martyr, firm in his testimony. (Omitted: Because he ordered the destruction of a printing press. And his party was armed- not exactly the lamb to the slaughter I've always been taught)
metalrain, I'm glad you brought up this example. Let me use it as a springboard to give you some tools that you can use to help though this.
It is true that the Church paints JS as being held on false charges and that he was defenseless and went like a lamb to the slaughter, etc. And it is a common objection from people like us when we realize that JS seemed to cause it by the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor and that he was ARMED in jail and even FIRED his weapon. But then what happens is that we, because we feel that we have been deceived, we tend to go to the other extreme. JS, in our minds, kind of deserved it and we even start to get in our minds that it was a gunfight, not a mob action, etc. My advice is to stay away from either extreme and to try to find a middle ground, where JS was partly wrong and partly wronged.
On the issue of the Nauvoo Expositor
, JS did cause its destruction. But remember that just 11 years earlier, the citizens of Jackson County had destroyed the Evening and the Morning Star
press for being, well, pro-free-black-people, not even anti-slavery, just OK with the concept of free blacks. And that mob got away with it... and got rid of the Mormons... and never had to pay any reparations or answer to anyone. JS, aparently not wanting to use mob tactics, but wanting to accomplish the same end result, tried to legitimize the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor
using the authority of the City Council, the City Charter, and legal arguments based on the writings of William Blackstone. Was JS trying to ratchet up his dictatorial power or was he trying to defend truth and right in the face of impossible odds? The fact is, we don't know what was in his mind.
On the issue of lamb to the slaughter... JS tried to stay in Nauvoo as if nothing would come of it, but soon tried to flee. Friends, though, didn't like that he was running away and leaving them to bear the brunt of the backlash alone. Eventually, he relented and returned to Nauvoo and indicated that he would turn himself in. He left Nauvoo early in the morning, before sun-up and rode toward Carthage. After almost arriving, though, he was met by an agent of the Governor who had an order to reclaim all the firearms that had been allocated by the state to the Nauvoo Legion. JS agreed to the action, but suggested that it would be a smoother handover if he went back to oversee it. So, JS turned around and rode back to Nauvoo. The Legion members met peacefully, under JS's supervision, in front of the Masonic Lodge (or Cultural Hall) to turn in the state owned arms. JS then returned to the road and rode to Carthage.
At Carthage, JS was 'protected' by forces hostile to him and to the Mormons. He was verbally assaulted and threatened by those same forces as he walked between the courthouse and the jail. Friends smuggled in two handguns that the prisoners could use for self defense, if needed. Hyrum had one that was never fired, and JS had one that was fired three times (misfiring three times as well). But make no mistake about it, it was a slaughter. JS was murdered while in state custody at the age of 38. Small arms aside, they were defenseless in a town overflowing with state militia who where there to keep the peace. Even Nauvoo Expositor
founder, William Law who hated JS, seemed disturbed at what had transpired.
I bring all this up simply to point out that the story is neither as the Church tells it nor as the anti-Church tells it. It's complicated. You have been set free from the sanitized history. But don't run to the sensationalized history in revolt. It is just as 'off'. I try to understand those early Church people. I frequently don't agree with them. I think JS did plenty of wrong things, but he also suffered much. My own interpretation of the man is that he was power-hungry, liked the ladies more than a man of God should... and was a gluttonous man and a winebibber. I also think that he was committed to the organization and doctrine that he set in motion; eventually sacrificing everything. JS was an extremely interesting person.
I hope you are able to find peace. It took me quite a while, but I eventually got there. There are things I love about the Church and things I hate about the Church. I focus on the good and try to change the bad where I can. I have found my own brand of spirituality that works for me. In some cases, the Church helps, in other places it doesn't. But I never let it hinder my spirituality. The Church either helps me or I ignore it. I like some songs on the radio. Some others I don't like. But I don't sit there listening to songs I don't like, complaining the whole time. I just change the station or turn it off and listen to the road.