May 23, 2005

Blind and dumb

I've always had a somewhat negative reaction to Fawn Brodie, but I have to say I'm finding her life of Joseph Smith, No Man Knows My History, to be a rather engaging read. She's rather hard on him and on religion generally -- an attitude I'm finding a bit refreshing after slogging through quite a bit of religious writings lately -- but still offers some enjoyable anecdotes, like this one:

One day [Joseph Smith] was explaining his creed and book to the Campbellite preacher Hayden. "Oh this is not the evidence I want," Hayden said, "the evidence that I wish to have is a notable miracle...if you perform such a one then I will believe with all my heart and soul."

"Well," said Joseph, "what will you have done? Will you be struck blind or dumb? Will you be paralyzed, or will you have one hand withered? Take your choice, choose what you please, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ it shall be done."

"This is not the kind of miracle I want," Hayden protested.

"Then sir," said Joseph, "I can perform none; I am not going to bring trouble upon anyone else, sir, to convince you."

Posted by Ideofact at May 23, 2005 11:07 PM
Comments

I've always meant to read the Brodie book - I'm listening to Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven right now on dog walks. K uses Brodie a lot.

Posted by: Michael Tinkler at May 24, 2005 07:29 AM

Isn't "Under the Banner of Heaven" about Mormon splinter groups? And wasn't Brian Mitchell, who abducted Elizabeth Smart, a similar sort of Mormon heretic?

One of the points Brodie makes (I've read it elsewhere as well) is that Smith kind of vacillated when it came to the question of whether his followers had access to divine revelations. There are several passages in which followers have direct experience of the divine; when Smith was at low ebb in Kirtland, Ohio, (there was quite a banking failure in which he was deeply involved) he ran the risk of losing some believers to a new and improved prophet.

Incidentally, Mitchell's revelation is available in its entirety here.

Posted by: Bill at May 25, 2005 01:44 AM

Yep - very much the same kind - both "unaffiliated" "fundamentalist" Mormons (that is to say not formally members of one of the splinter sects of polygamists).

Krakauer does a very good job of weaving the 19th century history into the story -- both as doctrinal and social setting for the murders. The Elizabeth Smart case comes in for some discussion -- Krakauer asks the pair of brothers in prison about the case and gets their opinion about it!

Interesting factoid - one of the two brothers is a cellmate with Mark Hofmann, the 1980s Mormon forger-turned-bomber of The Mormon Murders and Salamander.

Another factoid - have I mentioned I live 10 miles from the Hill Cumorah?

Posted by: Michael Tinkler at May 25, 2005 06:51 PM

You have, but Hill Cumorah is actually somewhere in Central America. I'll explain in my next post -- tomorrow night...

Posted by: Bill at May 25, 2005 10:56 PM

LOL
tell it to the Pageant organizers! Not to mention our housing office - all the players stay in our dorm rooms for 10 days, eat at our cafeteria, etc. We make a PILE!

It's probably the most important reason we don't offer summer school.

Posted by: Michael Tinkler at May 26, 2005 11:11 AM