Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How To Argue With A Mormon And Win

Previously: The Actual Message of the Book of Mormon

I wish I lived closer to Ohio, because on the weekend of May 9th, Sunstone is sponsoring an event featuring participants from all the various Mormon traditions: Josephites, Brighamites, Strangites, and maybe even a fundamentalist or two, along with a smattering of non-members and former members of the various offshoots of our once unified community.  These participants will be gathering that weekend to discuss their differences, but mostly to recognize the commonalities they share.

Little did the six original members of that fledgling church imagine that within 14 years of its founding, an estimated 25,000 converts would join their ranks to headquarter at Nauvoo, Illinois. Nor did they expect that quite suddenly the church would splinter off in all directions, its members bickering over questions of doctrine and leadership.

It's fitting that this historic gathering, culminating in a Sunday worship service as in days of old, will be held within the walls of the Kirtland temple itself, a venue that was constructed long before either the prophet or his associates ever suspected their descendants would end up biting and scratching at each other for generations to come over petty issues.  We may still have our differences, but most of us accept and revere the Book of Mormon. Why not recognize what unites us, despite our other differences?  (If you are at all able to attend this event, you'll find registration information here.)

If factions of the original 1830 Church of Christ can celebrate their commonality, I wonder: why am I seeing petty online bickering between members of my own denomination? A mutual, civil argument is a wonderful thing. Even God is in favor of that. "Come," the Lord says through Isaiah, "Let us reason together."  But the spirit of God does not attend us when we quarrel, which is as distant from a reasoned argument as one can get.

It's too bad the word "argument" is so misunderstood these days. Arguing is one way we can learn new things from one another. A civil argument persuades through the use of reason, logic, and common sense, with the aim of coming to an understanding.  But having a civil argument is not the same as being argumentative. An argumentative person is quarrelsome and contentious and tends to stir up anger. Our scriptures teach us that the spirit of contention is of the devil (3 Nephi 11:29).

The argumentative person is often motivated by pride. He believes he knows more than you do, and maybe he does; but a quarrelsome person rarely wins his opponent over. He considers it a win if he succeeds in a verbal beatdown of his opponent. God's favored method is persuasion, and in order for persuasion to be effective, an argument cannot be presented smugly, but in a spirit of gentleness and meekness (D&C 121).

Arguing To Win 
In the past year or two, I have both followed and participated in countless online theological discussions with my fellow latter-day Saints. The great majority of these engagements have been enlightening and edifying for all involved. But I've followed some very cantakerous quarrels that never reached a happy conclusion, eventually fizzling out with bad feelings overall. I think it's a travesty that any two members of the church of Christ would become angry with each other over points of doctrine. But that's what happens when ego enters the ring. Your ego wants to win, so you have to leave your ego out of it. Unless you want to ultimately lose.

On more than one occasion I have seen petty bickering devolve into accusations that, because one party does not hold the same views as the other feels he should, that party is not a "proper" latter-day Saint, or not devout enough, or lacks faith, or even that maybe he or she just isn't good enough to abide within our ranks and should just leave the church and join another denomination, because clearly their views are not in harmony with the mainstream of the church. I've had accusations like that thrown at me merely for promoting the idea that scripture trumps myth, false teachings, and vain traditions.

Yet our founding prophet rejected the idea that members should be required to believe a certain way or get out.  Strict religious dogmatism smacked "too much like the Methodists," Joseph Smith insisted, "and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine." (Lyndon Cook,editor, The Words of Joseph Smith, pg 184)

Joseph taught that doctrinal differences should never divide us, but that we should focus on that which unites us all. "Do you believe in Jesus Christ and the gospel of salvation which he revealed?" the prophet asked. "Well, so do I. Christians should cease wrangling with each other, and cultivate the principles of union and friendship in their midst." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Pg 314)

Do you want to learn how to win an argument with a fellow Mormon?  All you have to do is make sure the other guy wins, too.

You do that by hearing him out. Rather than attack him, seek to understand his point of view. If he holds to an interpretation of scripture that differs from yours, patiently explain your own reasoning as to why you feel that scripture means something other than what he believes, but do it with kindness, meekness, and love unfeigned (D&C 121).  We Mormons deserve to explore our religion together.  Mormon theology is a vast topic none of us really has a complete handle on, so let's dive in and learn together. This is not a contest between us. The gospel of Jesus Christ is meant to insure that everybody wins.

Where Is Your Shovel When There Is Work To Be Done?
I have a promise to keep that I made in the comment section back in February to a young antagonist who went by the initials "AW." AW had expended quite a bit of effort trying to goad me and other readers into a fight over issues I don't even recall anymore. Before he left in a huff with his final comment (Come back, AW! We miss you! ), he posted a link to a Google Doc that he said "sums up my feelings about this blog." (Note: AW's feelings about this blog were consistently negative.)

I clicked on the link, which brought me to a document entitled Letter To Rock Waterman.doc. As I read the letter, there was something very familiar about it, and sure enough, I soon realized it had been written by my friend Mark Foree of Snowflake, Arizona.

Of course, Mark was not my friend when he wrote me that letter over a year ago. In the letter Mark vigorously takes me to task for quite a number of things. That letter is a thorough rebuking, and if most of the assumptions Mark made about me were true, I would be the first to admit I deserved every bit of that drubbing.

Mark's impetus for writing me was he felt my blog had unduly influenced his cousin, and he felt she was in danger of apostasy because of that influence. (In case you were wondering, Mark's cousin remains stalwart in the faith to this day.)

At the time he wrote that letter, Mark had posted it on Google Docs so that his cousin could access it, and then forgot all about it. Unbeknownst to Mark, however, that letter eventually made its way into the hands of our friend AW, and AW had not been aware that there is quite a bit more to this story.

So to clear Mark's good name (but mostly because I thought some of you would enjoy seeing someone tell me off but good), I told AW that in a future post I would provide the rest of the correspondence that took place between Mark and I. This seems like a good place to do that, as our correspondence demonstrates how two humble followers of Christ can come together in commonality in spite of other differences we may have. (And there are still some things Mark and I disagree about.) Mark has graciously given me permission to reprint our correspondence below:
From: Mark Foree
Brother Waterman:

I came across your blog "Pure Mormonism" because of my cousin who is impressed by your ideas. My cousin sent me by email one of your blog postings about "When Mormons Take the Name of The Lord in Vain" and I sent a reply which she posted in the comments section of your blog, and I read your reply to mine in which you felt that I was quite angry. I believe that I was responding to a purposefully offensive article and I did not know who the author was. She had sent me your article without your name on it and I wasn't sure that she wasn't the author. This past weekend I discovered your blog by Googling the title of your post. I have now read several others of your articles. You must be retired. You have way too much time on your hands.

Normally I wouldn't be interested enough to respond to blogs and articles like yours. But for several reasons, I think I must say something to you about yours. If we met in person, you'd see that I am just a likable person like I am sure that you are, and we could have some good conversation about whatever topic you like, and even if we didn't see eye to eye, we would probably part as friends. But, when the platform of your opinionating is public, and when I feel to doubt your purposes, I feel I must say something and it will probably be that you think I am a real disagreeable fellow.
But Brother Waterman, your blog is the most pessimistic meandering of wasted time that I have read in a long time. I have to ask. What is the purpose of your blog? There is nothing in your blog that lifts people. There is nothing there that encourages people to improve. There is only discontentment with the church in both content and leadership. What are you trying to accomplish? If your purpose was to disprove the truthfulness of the restoration, I could understand that. If your purpose was to prove it, I would understand that. But Brother Waterman, I have read your blogging and I think the primary purposes of your blog is to make your self sound smart, gain a little attention, and to proselyte Mormon distrust and negativity. I see no other explanation from your collection of negative and complaining postings. What good are you doing? Are you preaching Pure Mormonism? I don't think so.  
Again, I ask, what are your intentions? Are you friend or foe? Should I be impressed with your blog? What should I be? Should I want more information from your ideas so that I come back thirsting for more? Should I be convinced that the gospel as preached in the church is true, or was true, or will be true? Should I love the church except for this part and that part, or those other parts? Or as you suggest, should I go to church and take the sacrament each Sunday, then leave? Should I sit at the feast and eat only the meat and skip the drink, the appetizers, and the desserts?

Since when do Mormons encourage other Mormons by telling them that conference is boring, and the church isn't quite good enough for full attendance? Since when do faithful Mormons complain that the prophet should teach us more new things? Since when are the worst parts of our history the foundation of our history? Are you so blinded by your own antagonism that you can't see the forest for the trees? Where is the beauty of the Gospel of Christ in your blog? I know the subtitle of your blog mentions it, but I read at least ten of your posts top to bottom and I see no hint of it. I know that "Pure Mormonism" is the name of your blog, but where is the optimism that makes people want to get up and serve their fellow man? Where is the HOPE of salvation? Where is the Mormonism?

I am not going to argue point by point as to whether Joseph Smith hated or loved polygamy, or whether the Church Office Building is too corporate. or whether the Church does or doesn't tell us enough about church finances, or whether the church should or shouldn't own an airplane or a business or invest in down town Salt Lake City retail shops. But, I challenge you. I challenge you to put the joy of the gospel into your blog. I challenge you to stop complaining in your blog. Do you really think that if Joseph Smith were alive today, he would be more aligned with your complaining than he would be President Monson's encouragements for us to serve our neighbors? I doubt it seriously. Joseph was too happy a person to let himself be weighed down bemoaning this, and bemoaning that. The whole tone of your blog seems to be that you think you are too good for the church. You place yourself above the rest of us by your apparent belief that we sheep are not thoroughly instructed in the history of the church or the details of church management because if we were we would be like you and spew sour grapes.

Where is the good intent in your blogging? It irks me that many of the people commenting on your blogs are being drawn into your lack of hope by your negative lecturing. My own cousin whose Mother was an outright angel and faithful to the core believes that you are wise. And, I don't care how many trivial or supporting historical quotes you can muster to prove that the church should have done this or should have done that. What I want to know is where are you and where is your shovel when there is work to be done? Where are you when the service projects are going on? How many hours do you spend hoeing weeds in widows yards with the Teachers quorum ? How many hours do you spend preparing lessons and doing your home teaching? That's what I want to know. Your blog makes it seem that you spend so much time on the periphery of the gospel that you aren't enjoying the gospel because you are too busy nit-picking the history and mechanics of the church.

I know that I don't know you. I hope I am wrong and maybe I am being too judgmental myself. Maybe you are a scout master or a bishop. Maybe you volunteer hours each week at the family history library. If so, that's what I want to know about. That is what "Pure Mormonism" should talk about. Maybe you are at the temple each week. Maybe you spend your own money buying treats for the Beehives. Maybe you visit the sick. I really don't know. But judging only from your blog, I highly doubt it.

Have you looked into the eye of an inactive father who got to spend a week with his son at scout camp because the bishop was in tune enough to call him to be assistant 11 year old scout master? Have you seen the beauty in the eyes of a young woman who overcame her fears and bore her testimony to her friends? Have you seen these things and forgotten them? Have you listened to a less than perfect priesthood lesson given by a struggling brother, and then been overcome with the Spirit as he bore his testimony at the end of the lesson? Have you missed what Mormonism is? Time and again in your comments and in your posts, its as though you are waiving a flag that says, "Look at me! I am a little smarter than rest of you, and I am really a lot smarter than President Monson." Maybe I am missing the positive parts of your writing, or the gospel parts of your blogging. Maybe I just didn't read the right post. But, good grief, if you are going to have a title of "Pure Mormonism" then it ought to be found everywhere in the blog!

Mormonism is the best and most hopeful doctrine in the world. There is no other theology, science, or philosophy that even comes close. And, I believe that it is true. Your blog is nothing but the negativity of the world trying to take down the highest aspirations of man.

I am not a Mormon because I do or don't have a testimony of polygamy or any other by-gone practice, or that the church office building runs or doesn't run only by angelic visitations, or that the cattle ranch in Florida is fully owned by this church corporation or that one. I am not a Mormon because I hate war or like war. I am not a Mormon because of any of the ideas expounded upon so thoroughly by your "Pure Mormonism" blog. I am a Mormon because I WANT to be. I am a Mormon because I can see and feel the glory of it. I am a Mormon because of the way I feel when I sit in sacrament meeting, Sunday school class, and elders quorum. I am a Mormon because of the change I see in people when they are baptized. I am a Mormon because of the way I feel baptizing 14 year old boys 20 times for a list of people long dead. I am a Mormon because of the way I felt when I and 14 other 17 year old white boys knelt in a pineapple field in 1978 and thanked God for the revelation allowing black brethren the priesthood. I love the hope of the Gospel that is framed in the Church. I am a Mormon because I believe a young boy who was no scholar, saw angels and translated an ancient book! I am a Mormon because I hope that I can become better than I am. I am a Mormon because I believe that Christ got up from that slab and that he appeared around the world and showed himself to people who fell at his feet and with tears in their eyes kissed his feet. I am a Mormon because of my failings and my sins, because I have hope that through repentance in Christ I will be clean when he comes again. I am a Mormon because of the way I felt when my wife came through the veil when we were married AND sealed in the temple. I am a Mormon because of the tears my wife and I have shed in the celestial room of the temple when waves of relief came over us as worries about our children were lifted if only for a time. I am a Mormon because I have felt the fire of the Spirit when I witnessed 21 young men sing the Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning in the middle of a rain and lightning storm in the middle of the Arizona woods. I am a Mormon because of countless spiritual experiences, and because of the inspiring and hopeful words of ancient prophets. This is Mormonism, and it seems to be missing from your blog.

And, Brother Waterman, I believe that negative blogs like yours do not lead people to feel the way I feel, or hope the way I hope. In your blog, where is the Mormonism?

-Mark Foree, Snowflake, Arizona

From: Rock Waterman

To: Mark

Hi Mark,

Happy to hear from you. I'm afraid I won't be able to address your questions more completely at the moment, as I'm about to walk out the door (service project, believe it or not. I've been lending assistance, both financial and time to a young mother who has been homeless. For now, at least, her young family has found a place in the garage of another family). So I'll have to get back to you sometime later.

The short answer as to why I do what I do is because I'm dismayed at the deluge of people leaving the church today, and I am hoping to help stem that flow. Based on some of the feedback I have been getting, I have seen some success for my efforts. I find this exodus from the the faith both dismaying and unnecessary.

Now, I realize that from the impression you have of my blog so far, you might find the above statement puzzling. Interestingly, I've been invited to be interviewed for a new series of podcasts entitled "A Thoughtful Faith" which features latter-day Saints who can see the current challenges in the church yet remain devoted to the faith. I just finished listening to the first entry, an interview with Greg Prince, who was David O. McKay's biographer.

It occurs to me that if you are sincere in wanting to know what motivates me, that if you will listen to the podcast of Brother Prince, you'll understand me better, for his views are very close to my own and his feelings echo many of mine. It was a great interview. Here it is:

I found it a bit difficult to find the Download button, so if you have trouble, try this link directly to the Quicktime launch:

I actually don't have a lot of time on my hands as you suggest; that's why I only blog about once a month. Most of my time not spent caring for my invalid wife is spent in service to others. That is because for the past five years I have been in the process of repenting for my previous life of half-hearted compassion, which was performed more because I was assigned to those projects rather than from a burning desire within to actually make someone else's life less of a struggle.

My blog is a part of that process of repentance, as I have awakened from the realization that most of my life as a member I have, like so many others, embraced vain traditions that I thought were a part of my religion, but that turned out not to be doctrinal. By sharing the errors I have made with others, I hope to prevent them from diverting from the true path as I once did. It is only by holding to the iron rod that we can be assured we won't wonder off the path which leads to the pure love of Christ.

If you haven't gotten a feel for what I believe is most important in the gospel, which is love and kindness toward others; I guess you just haven't gotten to those posts yet. Keep at it, you'll eventually find something good and decent about me, I hope.

As to your question, where is the pure Mormonism, in this piece I shared how I feel both the Savior and our founding prophet understood it:

Anyway, gotta go; thanks for writing. I am sure you and I could have a friendly, civil conversation one on one as you suggest, and I would like that very much. Understanding is the key. I hope the links I provided will direct you to a better understanding of who I am and what I love about the gospel of Jesus Christ. If, after listening to the Greg Prince interview and looking a bit further on my blog, you would like to talk on the phone, please call me Saturday or Sunday at________. I'm running way low on minutes, so the weekend or after 9 pm my time are the only way I can afford to have a leisurely chat.

Love and Light,


P.S. the idea that I think I'm smarter than anyone else is one that would never occur to me. Anyone who knows me personally can attest that I'm as dumb as a post and I know it.

From: Mark Foree

Thank you for answering. I will try to read more. I listened to the Greg Prince interview.

From: Rock Waterman

To: Mark Foree

Hi Mark,

I told you I would let you know when my interview posted, so I apologize for not getting back to you. You can find links to three separate podcasts I participated in last month on my current blog site. The personal interview is the third one, here. Hopefully you'll find something in there that will redeem me in your eyes.

Love and Light,


From: Mark Foree
Thanks. I have read a little more. I have a suggestion. My opinion of your blog was largely based on your list of the most popular posts which are the ones that I read first, as any new comer to your blog would. If a person reads more of your posts they get a broader view and not as much that it is just a blog for whining as some of the most popular seem to me. I suggest that you remove the "most popular" list from your blog. I think this would have helped me to not have quite as drastic response when I came across your blog. Then a reader can look back at prior posts if they want. I still disagree with some of the points you make and how you present them, but I found more of the Mormonism in your blog than I initially thought was there.

Rock Waterman

To Mark

Thanks for responding, Mark. That list of ten most popular is generated automatically based on the number of hits each post receives. I kind of like it being there, because for one thing, that list includes the pictures accompanying the article. I wish the list would allow more, say twenty pieces, but ten is the limit and I don't know how to program it different or even if it would allow me to.

Nevertheless, it is interesting that most of those top ten seem to be more on the critical side; I had not realized that. If I had my way, I would put "What Do I Mean By "Pure" Mormonism" on that list, because that is, to me, one of the more important ones. That's why I keep it near the top of the "More Favorites" list, which I can better manipulate in order of timeliness and importance.

I'm guessing the top ten are the ones getting the most hits because there is a growing mass of members who embrace the faith, yet find something disconcerting about the way management is behaving these days, acting absent direct revelation, and so on. Friends and family members of these people, knowing of their concerns, send them links to those posts they feel might help them, and that boosts those particular pieces up the list. I believe this awakening is important, and I also am learning that my tiny contribution is having a positive impact among people who normally might have thrown up their hands in frustration and left the church, rather than remain in and being their light.

I recently heard from a reader who had left the church, but is now scheduled to be rebaptized tomorrow. He credits my writings as influencing his decision to return. There is also a rather lengthy comment from someone you can find on "A Thoughtful Faith" following my podcast who says something similar. I receive these encouraging messages frequently, and that's what keeps me going.

So, although this is not all your cup of tea, Mark, there are people who need to hear this kind of message from a fellow believer, and who benefit from it. I like knowing I'm helping a little. Remember, we are not charged with building up the Church, but rather the Kingdom of God, which is separate from the Church.

Love and Light,


From: Mark Foree
I just now read your post "Bad Science, Weird Science, and Strange Mormon Prophecy" and I really enjoyed it. I'll have to read it again when I have more time. I also just went to Amazon and bought the Kindle version of the Daniel Brooks book. I served my mission in Thailand and so am interested in the Buddhist connections with the subjects you discussed and I'll try to learn more when I have time. I admit that I am not as knowledgeable about these ideas as I would like to be. But, I have recently had science and some of these types of things on my mind.

I have a friend, a young man in our Ward who is 16 years old who is our neighbor, who recently "left the church". He truly is a great kid, who is smart and likable. I was his scout master and really wish I could help him. I've tried to open some discussion with him by email, but he only responded once, and I feel not to push him too hard. He should be blessing the sacrament now, but he can't because he is still a teacher. His parents are at their wits end and they are not prepared for the kind of challenge that their son has now presented them with. His parents are good and faithful but not intellectual people. To keep peace in the family the parents have had to "give up" trying to "force" him to come to church. He has stopped attending seminary. As part of their compromise he joins in the family circle for family prayer but that is it.

This young man's challenge isn't pornography or any of the challenges you might think of. His problem isn't that he was using the internet for porn, but for atheism. He was using his iPhone and the family computer to access atheistic websites. He has completely lost whatever testimony he had that there is a God at all. This came out when the bishop was interviewing him to be ordained a priest, he simply told the bishop that he doesn't believe in God.

Before this came out with our friend, I had recently enjoyed reading John A Widtsoe's book, "Joseph Smith as Scientist". And, I had enjoyed some YouTube presentations about String Theory by physicist Brian Greene some of which were aired on PBS on Nova. Then my bishop asked me to speak in sacrament meeting. Our bishop likes to have a general topic for the month for all the talks and so my talk was on humility. Due to my concerns for this young man and for the other young people in our ward, I used the opportunity to put up a defense of the existence of God. My friend wasn't at church that day, but per his mother's request I did email him a copy and he has implied to me that he will read it.

Another of the young men in our ward recently thanked me for my talk and said that it really helps him put what he learns in school in perspective. Due to some other conversations that I have had with other parents it seems that with the availability of so much information over the internet, we as parents have got to be much more educated to make a defense of our beliefs than was ever required before. I am attaching a copy of my talk. It's not scholarly but it has some logic to it, I think. Anyway, thanks for your post, it has some of the wonder and hope of Mormonism that I love.

[Attached to Mark's email was a pdf copy of his Sacrament Meeting talk, "A Call for Humility: A Defense of God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth."]


Zo-ma-rah said...

"Once we make it past this life and look back, we'll realize it didn't matter how often we were right. What will matter is how often we were nice."

You summed up everything in two sentences. Just wonderful.

I really wish I could go to that gathering it sounds like it will be amazing.

I hope we can start to see more of a movement to reunify the church. We have been cast out of our promised land for almost 200 years. It's time we take action and repent, commune with one another, and receive the blessings God has promised us.

LDSDPer said...

Oh, Rock, I was relieved to see your blog essay!

I was really worried about Connie (and you)--

The silence on that last, wonderful, blog essay (comment section) made me wonder if something difficult had happened. There must be a better word than 'difficult'; so many things are difficult.

I felt my own struggle with a few on the last discussion, and I began to see that it was important for them to hang on to their beliefs and continue to express them and for me just to let go.

That's why I said nothing more. Baby steps.

Ah; just recently my husband and I got some information on an old friend, someone we knew independently of each other, before we met--

and we found out that our friend's life has been really very hard and sad. Amazing potential in every way and just has had some really stiff trials--

we were saddened, deeply, and we wondered why we had found these things out and why had we even been thinking about him--

and then we had an epiphany at the same time. We can't really 'help' our old friend; for one thing we discovered the sorrow of his life without getting any contact information, nothing current at all.

But then it 'hit' us. We both knew this guy, because as he is aging all alone in the world, he will need someone who remembers him who can pray for him.

The power of that feeling overwhelmed both of us, and now we are praying for him. We only know the state in which he is living now, nothing more.

But we are praying for him 'down there' (anything from here is 'down'--LOL!)

SUCH a little thing and often discounted in our busy lives--

but for us it felt very much like revelation.

So we pray.

A good essay; did I tell you that? And I'm glad you and Connie are alive; I've been putting you on prayer rolls, though I hadn't gotten your strict permission. Hope I'm not crossing a line there--

Tell Connie "hi!"--

Wish I could go to Kirtland, but I don't see it happening at all. I'm so much closer than all of those of *you* in the west, but it's still quite a trek 'down there'--


Oh, it's interesting. I really did feel the goodness of your young friend, oh, who wrote that letter. But for me the "hope" of Mormonism is that it isn't as big or serious as Jesus is.

Last night my husband was doing a mindless task, and he asked me to talk to him to make it go faster--

and we were talking about how we have this idea that we have to 'defend' the church or a person/leader or . . .

and we realized that truth doesn't need defense.

Nor does God; He's so much bigger than anything any mortal can throw at Him--

so defensiveness is really just another way of being aggressive and trying to justify it.

Anyway, it seemed important at the time, and it was more interesting to my husband than the menial, but necessary, task he was performing.

LDSDPer said...

I'm listening to the podcast now--

I'm backwards, but I hadn't heard of Prince.

Chieko Okazaki was a family friend of someone who lived in our ward. Her friends were in transit, so she stayed with a member of our RS presidency with an extremely large and empty home who did not 'get' her at all; it was very interesting to see her interacting with our very narrow-minded and somewhat small-hearted ward member.

Kevin said...

Those who have come to identify you with trouble-in-paradise stories, Rock, may wonder about your loss of perceived hot air when they read this post. If we were in Great Britain we could bet on how many times someone will write, "a waste of my time."

I experienced 'How to Argue', however, as one of the tenderest and most uplifting of your posts. It helps me better connect with Jesus Christ. He isn't just good within himself but he forms relationships with anyone willing to engage with him. He doesn't belittle our lack of knowledge or our inclination to cling tightly to all sorts of useless nonsense--but rather meets us wherever we are right now and through his pure love empowers us to continue blooming. Thank you for being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Unknown said...

Another great post.
In all of my reading of your posts,and I've read most all of them, I've really never thought of them as negative, truthful yes and maybe too truthful for some of us. Personally I've always found them to be uplifting and most certainly Christ like.

Thanks for helping reconciling the doubts that I've had for many years. I love the truth so much more than feel good stories, exaggerations or down right lies. Maybe this could be better said as "Lies, damned lies, and Mormon History"

Anonymous said...

Here's another blog post that I think complements this message well.

engaged19times said...

Well i know i am still learning. But I cant stand it when ppl get all, Oh, ur so right. And so faithful! And u give service! And we can agree to disagree! And we can get along and it can be beautiful! And we can learn together! And commune! Ahhh!

Cuz life doesnt work like that! Everyone has diff experiences and sometimes we just arent going to "play nice."

I havent decided on a "position" to take yet. But I have a fumbling knowledge that something about mormonism just isnt right. The snobbery, the fake nicey-nice. Let's just keep it real ppl.

Kristine (Mark's cousin) said...

Thank you Rock. I don't want to take away from the purpose of the article so I will just let you know that my life is better now for having been your friend, read your articles, and shred them. I am feeling somewhat emotional right now. Peace to you.

Kristine (Mark's cousin) said...

Shred them? LOL! That's just like me...At least I READ them before I shred them.

LDSDPer said...


I have this 'gut' feeling that I should not respond to you, but I want to try once more to see if I can something that doesn't turn into annoyance fodder.

I find it hard to understand what you are saying.

Much of what you say:

Here's an example: "I'm still learning"

I'm probably old enough to be your mother (I've gotten that idea anyway), and I am just beginning to learn. I do know things I didn't know when I was young, but I am also 'still learning'; I am probably learning more now than I did when I was young, and I thought I was learning then.
So what do you really mean when you say that? Do you think you are an exception in that you are 'still learning'? I'm not trying to be confrontational, I just really wonder what you mean by it.

I am trying to understand your computer language--
I assume ppl is people.

You say you 'can't stand'. Can you tell someone on here/*us*/anyone what 'can't stand' means? What does it mean? Does that mean you want to hurt someone or scream or that you are telling someone that you don't like a particular behavior?

And how does: Oh, ur (assuming that means 'you're') so right. And so faithful (not sure I'm quoting exactly, and that might be something you 'can't stand', and I don't want to annoy or offend you--)

As I said, I'd probably be better off just ignoring what you say, but I am honestly wanting to know--

"and you give service, and we can agree to disagree" you said--

What is it engaged19times sees as the ideal? Do you have an ideal? Do you have any particular codes of civility or behavior where someone's being brutally honest feels as though it is more than honesty and becomes aggression? Or not?

Sometimes I really agree with people, and I want them to know that. I appreciate it when others think and share their thoughts with me. I really like it when others 'serve' and inspire me to be more of a servant to those in my life.
And sometimes it is not possible to resolve differences, and the only outcome besides 'agreeing to disagree' is to shout and become violent.

I have found that often when I don't agree with someone, neither of us is ready or willing or able to discuss it, and I am better off leaving it alone.

Do you believe that everyone who is 'nice' is being dishonest?

Are you the one who isn't going to 'play nice', or is it someone else.

What you write feels vague to me, very general. And, if I don't respond to you again, it will probably be because I really don't know what to say to you that will make sense or help anyone, including you or myself.

And so I might just not respond when I see what you write, but it's not because I think you don't have something to contribute. Or because I am trying to push you away. I may be afraid that if I am 'nice', you will think I am being dishonest. And I don't have a desire to be 'mean', at all, anymore. I know that I am capable of it, and I've been trying to root it out of myself now for some time. I just don't see the virtue in meanness or rudeness or brutal honesty.

Maybe you have things to say, but you are afraid to say them. Though I don't 'see' you as frightened person.

Yes, I understand, I think, what you mean about snobbery and "fakey nicey-nice".

I think I have felt that from people, but there are quite a few people I haven't felt that from, as well.

There are some really genuine people in the world, in and out of Mormonism.

LDSDPer said...

I think maybe one of the reasons that you and I won't understand each other is because of collectivism.

I mentioned that on here before--

the tendency that many people have to generalize about people; often it refers to race, or language, or ethnic group or religion.

All _________ are ___________.

For some people who are angry with Mormons, for some reason, it is:

All Mormons are ____________ (choose a word that describes someone or something you don't like)

When a person collectivizes, and I admit that there are people who seem to belong to some sort of automatic league, typical of whatever group they are in--

those people do exist; people who haven't really learned how to think for themselves perhaps--

can appear to be perfect 'types'.

But collectivizing really short changes the process of learning about people.

Perhaps you don't do that, but if you could be more specific in your questions and statements, it might help some of *us* who really want to respond to you.

Or maybe you just need a place to vent, and you aren't really that concerned about whether or not someone understands your language or your inferences.

Either way, it is your choice.


I know that I have been 'guilty' of saying the same things over and over again--

I know that I have 'railed' and repeated myself, and I know that I have things that annoy me that an observant 'other person' could easily pick up on. I tend to go into tirades about polygamy (and racism) and Brigham Young, and I could easily be taunted with it. I also talk a lot about being 'old'. Unfortunately, because of the things I have been through, I feel much older than my age, and I am not ashamed to admit that I have feelings that perhaps a much older person would have, because my mortality is quite fragile.

I used to love to argue, and the bad feelings didn't hurt me; that was when I was young and strong--

It would be helpful to know what you can 'stand'.

I've just gathered that you really value your husband; that is something I see as a very positive thing--
and your children.

Are you trying to figure out whether or not they are 'safe' within an LDS church? That's a very valid concern for any parent to have. I think you might be surprised that there are people here who care. And maybe even share your concern.

If everyone in the world shuts him/herself off and just shouts and plugs his/her ears, to what will that lead? To what sort of person would you concede the right to speak or listen?

I hope that a person doesn't have to 'shout' at your to be considered genuine.

And I've probably made every possible mistake in trying to communicate these things to you, but, as I said, it might be my last attempt, and if you don't hear from me again, please don't think, "people didn't care, or they were snobs". I have young people; I know they see things differently than I do, and they laugh at my desire to be precise.

So, you can do that, too.

BK said...


I totally understand what you mean. I feel the same way. You are very wise and you should trust your feelings more, they seem to be telling you the truth.

I agree with Rock that we should always speak with love and kindness, but that means different things to different people.

I believe it is rare that people can truly stand for right and really teach truth and it not become contentious.

Christ created contention almost everywhere he went, for most people, sometimes even his own disciples, and even his own home town & family & friends didn't want to accept what the was teaching and it caused great contention. That is why he had to teach in parables, so the people wouldn't get even more upset with him.

When people really live or teach the truth it is very divisive (even almost always in their own family) and most people are not going to agree with them or probably even like them.

So while we should speak as kindly as we can, most conversations where truth is really stood for and revealed (like the corruptness in the Church, etc.) are not going to go well, for most people in the Church don't want to hear or accept it.

Yet does that mean we should not speak up about all the evil in the Church and it's leaders? Does it really help to stay silent? Is it best to watch while people get lead astray and duped out of their money to go for things they probably wouldn't have approved of?

Don't the scriptures command us to try to awaken others to the 'awfulness' of our situation? How can we talk of such horrible 'awfulness' in a nice way that most people will want to hear it? I don't think we can unless those we talk to can see it too, then it is sweet, positive and uplifting and freeing to them and not bitter, hard or negative like it is to those who don't want to hear it.

Christ, Nephi, Samuel the Lamanite, Noah, Abinadi, etc. etc., all understood that most people are not going to like their conversations about awfulness of their situations and thus they were unavoidably contentious. But how could they not be?

For truth is naturally contentious in a fallen world or Church.

I myself have found Rock's articles to be very uplifting, enlightening and inspiring, contrary to Mark's impressions in the article above.

I have been awakened by and learned more truth and Christlike teachings through Rock's articles then from any leader's teachings or talks since Joseph died, except the scriptures themselves.

BK said...

engaged, continued -

I am sorry that Mark and other members of the Church may not see the vital truths that Rock has brought to light, but he has done so much to help untwist my brain from all the darkening falsehoods that I have been deceived by in the Church my whole life. Things that were so negative and caused such great confusion and destruction to me and my family and everyone else I know in the Church.

Rock's information finally brought much needed light to see how much I have been deceived & darkened by those I thought I could trust, those I thought were follower of Christ but were just the opposite.

Rock helps reveal wolves in sheep's clothing and only those who want to discern the wolves appreciate it, those who like to stay deceived because it's comfortable or they like the false doctrine and the perks it gives them, do not like alot of what Rock writes.

To each their own. But Rock unknowingly has done so much to help change my life for the better and help lead me to Christ and his pure teachings, instead of trusting weak and wrong middlemen to interpret them for me. He open up a whole new world of true light and knowledge. I had no idea I was so blind and deceived. I will be forever grateful to him.

Unlike some, Rock has helped me see the vital necessity to leave the Church, which I see as a great blessing, for I believe I was under great condemnation as long as I remained a part of it or supported such an evil organization and evil men in any way, especially by giving vital sacred time & money mean't for the needy, to wolves in sheep's clothing who use it on themselves instead and to get gain and further build their empire with seeming no care or thought for the fatherless, except for a trifle to fool and just look good to the masses.

I do not believe that any amount of good the Church may do or teach can overcome the evil that they preach and practice and deceive their members to do and go along with or that would override the falsehoods that they blind and lead the members astray with.

The Church may preach some truth from the pulpit but they practice just the opposite behind closed doors and I don't want to be held accountable for support that.

For Christ and Joseph warned us that those who are deceived to support evil may lose Eternal Life. No social club or support group is worth that.

LDSDPer said...

Don't the scriptures command us to try to awaken others to the 'awfulness' of our situation? How can we talk of such horrible 'awfulness' in a nice way that most people will want to hear it?

BK, could you show me the reference to that scripture?
I am aware of:

Ether 8--

where Mormon talks about people waking up to their awful situation--

but there is no command for *us* who read the book to awaken others to their awful situation.

There is a difference, I believe.

But I am aware that you may not believe that.

engaged19times said...

LDSPer, When u see my shorthand its cuz i type from my phone;)

To me cant stand is saying i dont like that. I dont like fakey nice back and forth between the letters in the post. Oh ur so faithful! Such a valiant servant! Etc. Blech.

I find that common among mormons, tho, one of the characteristics about mormons that annoys me 6 ways to sunday. That and the womens garments ringing out the bottoms of their too short skirts, or sticking out of their too lo cut tops. Acting fakey nice while dressed too sexy as an endowed mormon woman is almost more than i can stand. And since my experience is that is more the norm, i stay far from the lds church as of late.

U can keep 'shouting' at me if u feel impressed to do so, and i'll try not to plug my ears;)

Ummm what else...yes, I do worry for my children's wellbeing in the church. But its weird to think of life never going to church. Plus u know how ppl tend to think ur 'bad' if ur kids dont go to some kind of church. And i dont even live in an lds community..i love that Duggar family and i think they just go to *church* with a couple of like minded families. I adore the duggars, cynic tho i am. So i am thinking maybe do something like that.

I find posting on mormon blogs like this therapeutic. Because even tho im nowhere near where y'all are, i have things to say too. And a point of view. God help me i have no idea why mormonism was thrown in my lap. But it was. I think i could have lived my whole life and not known a thing about it and been none the worse.

engaged19times said...

BK, I agree, the tithing issues in this church disgust me a great deal. It is telling of many other aspects about it. It is similar to.scientology in many ways, esp how u start on a low rung and everything is secretive until u gradually move up the ladder and by then ur kinda brainwashed to think its true.

What i want to know is, who is richer? Scientology or LDS church?

BK said...


I really admire the Duggars too. I think they are doing far better then any Mormons or anyone else I know of. My hat really goes off to them.

And I totally agree with how they have Church at home with like-minded family & friends. I think that is the only way we can protect our children & families from being deceived and destroyed by false prophets and false doctrines today, we must 'home-church', just like many 'home-school', if we want to protect our families, because no church is true today, they all teach many falsehoods and they all come near to Christ with their lips but their hearts are far from him.

I believe God would tell us the same thing he told Joseph, to not join any Church today, for they are all false. I believe the Church Joseph started is long gone from the earth and we are left with only many different false 'splinter groups' from it, none of which can ever become a true Church, for their leaders wouldn't let it happen.

And I agree that the way the Church handles tithing is very disgusting and evil. When you think about how much tithing just 1 ward brings in each year, I believe it would easily take care of all the needs of the poor in that ward with much to spare, and then we would have no more poor among us and could then help the poor outside the Church. This would be far better for our spirituality then building fancy temples and churches and malls.

But we can easily change things by keeping our money/tithing and helping the poor directly in our close circles, so we know for sure it really gets where it should, and not give it to untrustworthy unChristlike middlemen who won't use it as they should.

I agree it is very telling that church leaders refuse to use 'all' the tithing for the poor '1st and foremost' until all their needs are met, as Christ commanded, rather then pocket it themselves as they do and further their business ventures to get gain and the praise of the world.

LDSDPer said...

I don't want to shout, engaged19times.

Thank you for anwering my questions so kindly. I believe you are a genuine person.

I might not like clothing that is too tight or too short; I dress completely the oppositely myself, but I can't let things like that disturb me. I just don't have room in my brain for it. I have a "friend" in my ward who is always upset about it, and I don't think it's that good for her to be so upset about it.

The Duggars. I really do admire large families and men/women who are monogamous who are willing to have many children. I know quite a few LDS couples who have more than ten children, and I admire them very much.

I have a hard time with anyone, LDS or not LDS, who has chosen to live in the public 'eye' or who has chosen to, somehow, commercialize anything private or familial or, yes, religious.

Which is why I struggle with the church being corporatized.

So I have a hard time with the Duggars. I can't understand someone who would allow themselves to be under a microscope as they have. But, perhaps it is their mission, and just as I try not to get upset about what other women wear or don't wear--

I will try not to let that bother me.

But knowing that both engaged19times and BK admire the Duggars helps me a LOT to understand where both of you are 'coming from'.

I know many evangelicals; I know they (many of them; again, I don't want to collectivize) struggle with many of the same things that many Mormons struggle with--

and their perspectives and perceptions are no more perfect than are those of most LDS.

There are some to whom I am quite close, including family members. I also live in an area where there are not many LDS, so most of my neighbors are some kind of "Christian"--

and I find them to be wonderful people; they actually like us, too--


We've been told we're good neighbors, and people call on us a lot when they need help--

but I don't say, "oh, by the way, I'm LDS; now you know that LDS are good neighbors!"

It wouldn't occur to me.

Anyway, that's enough. I've said enough for now.

As for civility, I have come to value it more as I've gotten older.

I think that it's possible that some may be confusing 'niceness' with an air of patronization, which is really very intolerable and unacceptable.

I have known a few LDS, especially women, but also men--

who patronize others. And it's not uncommon for those who believe they are 'above' others, whatever their religion, do be patronizing. It's very wrong. But I think many people don't realize when they are doing it.

LDSDPer said...

hey, Rock, how was that for a hijack?

You can blame me!!!


I don't have anything more to say*.

I like 'nice'.

It's nice when the nice is genuine, but I really like nice.

*unless someone brings up Brigham Young or racism or polygamy, and then--

I might have to take that back. :)

LDSDPer said...

BK (and engaged19times), have either of you seen this?

Famous last words; I said I was done, but I found this right after my last post.

It's self-explanatory.

Mitch said...

Rock this posting seems like perfect timing for me.

I recently disagreed with an Admin person (Mark Crego) on the Facebook group "A Thoughtful Faith Support Group" about how people on the right of the political spectrum were treated by other group members, and he immediately banned me from the group, won't respond to an email, and has even gone so far as to hide the group from me.

This, as you put it, was an disagreement that "eventually fizzling out with bad feelings overall".

Your post has definitely made me feel better about what happened.


Zo-ma-rah said...

In the spirit of unity that this post has emphasized. I want to share with you something I have been working on for some time. It is my belief that the church(collective body of believers) still exists today in the various sects that descended from the 1844 crisis. I also believe that we don't need permission from corporate authorities to function as the church. So I would like to share this website:

I still have a bit of work to do to get it fully functional. The scriptures page hasn't been uploaded yet. But I'm interested in everyone's feed back.

It will be through our own initiative that the church will get back on track. We have been cast out of our promised land for almost 200 years. But the Lord's promised blessings are still extended to those who will obey His Words.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

LDS Dper,

Good Heavens, you don't need permission from me or Connie to put our names on the prayer roll! Please do, by all means.

I've been asked that before, as if we would be offended that others are offering up prayers for us. The answer is YES! YES! YES! We would love it if everybody prayed for us all the time! We could certainly use all the faith prayers in the world.

So thank you. And Keep 'em coming.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I should have thought to include a link to that post on LDS Views. Dan Brooks has become a good friend, and he's an extremely perceptive young man. The fable in that piece, "Why We Shout In Anger" is worth the price of admission. Here is that link again:

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I like what you have been doing in trying to find a place of unity where the various factions of our church can gather online. When you look at the split between we Mountain Mormons and what used to be called the Reorganized church, it really came down to a stupid family squabble between cousins, and the rest of us were all dragged into their quarrel.

Although it was well known that Brigham Young and Emma Smith didn't see eye to eye, most of the Utah pioneers still expected we would all be gathered into one body of Saints once Joseph's eldest son came of age.

By the time that happened, young Joseph's cousin had ascended to leadership among the mountain Saints, and from that time forward it was argue, argue, argue, over who had the "keys" of authority.

I look back at all that nonsense today and consider it irrelevant. The rest of us deserve to leave that Hatfield-McCoy feud behind and learn to appreciate our commonality.

Jesus said "ALL who repent and come to me, the same is my church." ALL. Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ therefore abides in all of us, whether Josephite, Brighamite, Strangite, Wightite, or any other "ite," and it would appear to me that scripture embraces all of Christendom too, not just the various Mormon factions.

In light of D&C 10:67, and especially the verse that follows it, silly claims that we must recognize the "authority" of certain men is something I find not worth bothering about.

Aw said...

Aw said...


Come on now, son. Don't be afraid of the truth. You said (through others of course) that the truth is something we should all strive for and not be afraid of. Funny thing is, you seem to have a problem with being truthful yourself, so I'm afraid that not only are you skeered, but you are a hypocrite as well.

Its a funny big game, isn't it...I mean you playing with people's emotions.

February 11, 2014 at 8:23 AM
Alan Rock Waterman said...

Well, I'll admit it is a bit of a kick playing with yours.
February 11, 2014 at 8:29 AM


"...AW had expended quite a bit of effort trying to goad me and other readers into a fight over issues I don't even recall anymore. Before he left in a huff with his final comment"

Nice blog post, Rock. Nice to see you are taking the moral high ground again.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

AW, SO glad you're back! Some of us had feared you had left forever.

You greatly enlivened the comments in February and March, and I hope you'll continue to contribute to the conversation.

Perhaps you can help solve a mystery for me. I have received no less than three separate emails from readers who have deduced that you are in actuality my old nemesis Weston Krogstadt who hounded me for months to "come clean" very much as you have. Any truth to those rumors?

Aw said...


I only showed up here because you mentioned my name. Every thing you have suggested or speculated about me is false. I am not young, and I am not Weston Krogstadt but thanks for playing.

While at times I believe you to be sincere and well-intentioned, at other times I think you are opportunistic and mean. I have stayed away from here because this is your blog and I don't want to hijack it. You have already proved to me that you are disingenuous by failing to answer many pertinent questions I have posed to you.

LDSDPer said...


I know that politics is sort of dead among LDS right now. I am sure there are those who are keeping aware and even involved in various things, but--

there isn't much discussion going on, unless I'm just not in the right places.

I'm not a person who waves the flag, so I don't know if there is a place for me, besides DP, which shows in my name--

I just found this--

You've probably seen that or similar things.
So why am I posting this on pure mormonism?

Well, as I roam around on various Mormon blogs I'm seeing a lot of people being 'disciplined' in church courts for talking about things--

and I know that my husband and I are on 'lists' for various things (not necessarily in the church, though our SP and bishop came to talk to us when we started homeschooling back in 1993; they were 'concerned'; they decided not to try and convict us--*tongue in cheek*, but it was a scary feeling)--

Don't you think there is a connection between loss of privacy and civil rights in the outer 'world' and loss of privacy and right to seek out truth in the inner 'world' (religious world)?

I think there is; I think I am seeing a connection.

I am not saying there is a direct link between the outer political world and the inner LDS (or other religions) world with regards to privacy and right to read/write/discuss things--

but don't you think the political climate has accustomed people to believing they don't have rights?

And the rewriting of history. I don't know what you think of Lincoln (for one example, and I'm not trying to stir up a hornet's nest here), but some people think he was a demi-god who saved the 'union', and others believe he was a bad man.

I think that much of LDS history has been re-written to suit those who re-wrote it, leaving Joseph Smith understudied in the right ways and blamed for many of the mistakes that followed his death.

So, isn't there a correlation here? (no pun intended with the non-correlation movement)

I know; this isn't what the blog essay for this time is about, at all--

but so many Mormon bloggers are being 'put away'--

and . . . it seems, somehow, familiar--

it seems to be happening everywhere; policing has become the way things are done inside and out.


Now I expect I HAVE opened a hornet's nest, and there will be those who will come on and tell me I'm crazy. I am used to that. LOL!

Frank said...

Rock, the link to the Prince podcast interview looks like it has changed. You can get to it here:

Alan Rock Waterman said...

AW, you are always welcome to comment here any time.

I would suggest you be a bit less strident, though, and that if you are going to get worked up about something, you be responsive to what was actually said to you, and not assume motives on the part of the other person that are not in evidence.

For example, in your latest reply you said, "Every thing you have suggested or speculated about me is false. I am not young, and I am not Weston Krogstadt..."

I hasten to remind you that nothing I wrote in my comment had anything to do with my speculating you might be Weston Krogstadt. I thought I was clear that OTHER PEOPLE had wondered about that. I only passed their observations on to you.

I was wrong to assume you were young, and I welcome your correction. I made that assumption because your manners seem to me reflective of a person with limited experience in civil interaction. I apologize for my mistake.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Frank, thanks for providing that proper link to the Greg Prince interview. I've made the correction in an update to the OP.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I do indeed see the parallels between the political and the religious spheres regarding encroachments against freedom.

I attribute it to the Adversary's desire to choke off liberty in the two primary venues in which liberty is supposed to be protected. Throughout history it is plain that Satan makes every effort to capture those institutions above all others.

I'm ever reminded of the observation by french philosopher Denis Diderot more than three centuries ago: "Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."

Alan Rock Waterman said...


And on that topic, this would be a good place to put in a plug for Connor Boyack's new book designed to introduce children to principles of freedom. It's called "The Tuttle Twins Learn About The Law" and I believe it is adapted from Frederick Bastiat's classic treatise.

LDSDPer said...

Wow, Connor is a smart young man!!!

He's always amazing me.

That quote . . . VERY interesting.

I think I've seen something similar to that--

but I can't locate it in my mind right now.

Thanks for responding; I've been feeling this intensely, and sometimes I think I'm crazy.


Veracity said...

On the subject of "encroachments against freedom", the church is reminding me of the IRS. I will not be surprised if they ask to audit my books soon.

In the past, many members in the Netherlands could not get a temple recommend because they could not afford to pay a "full tithing" in a country with such high taxes. (I don't know how the church is handling this now in that country.)

It would seem you are not free to decide for yourself what you owe.

CuriousTBM said...

Would someone be able to enlighten me on the early history of church hierarchy?
Here's what I know, so if any of this is false or misleading please let me know! (Sources are always appreciated)

•Joseph Smith was Prophet of the church, and had planned for Hyrum to be next as a prophet, but unfortunately they both passed away at Carthage.
•Brigham Young and others (Rigdon also, I think) form the quorum of twelve to preside over the church until Jospeh Smith III comes of age (can anyone elaborate on this if it's true? What was the intended age, 18? Older?)
•Brigham seems to have moved up and formed the First Presidency, making the church stewardship 15 men
•Quarrels happen, him and Emma don't see eye to eye, Brigham goes west and takes a majority of saints with him

That's what I know, so if clarity can be provided I would thoroughly appreciate it.

As for the cousin mentioned by Rock, who was that? I haven't the slightest clue who you're talking about. Joseph Smith jr's cousin, or the cousin of Joseph Smith III?

And lastly, in the spirit of the post, these questions are of sincerity and genuine interest, if they come off as accusatory or malicious, it is not of my intent.
Thank you.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Curious TBM

The cousin of Joseph Smith's son was Hyrum's son, Joseph F. Smith, who became a member of the Twelve when he grew up, and later a president of the Mountain Church.

His mother, Mary Fielding, had been was a convert from England who married Hyrum Smith, who was a widower at the time. She met him in Nauvoo. They were married for, I think, only about 3 or 4 years before the death of Hyrum.

You may ask why, since she had married into the Smith family, did Mary Fielding not stay behind with Emma and the others? The answer is that her friends were other English converts who chose to go with Brigham and the majority of the Twelve who had been the missionaries who converted them in England. With Her husband dead, Mary simply did not have a bond with the Smith family, especially as she had not known any of them as long as she knew her fellow British converts.

Having the widow of Hyrum and her son along was just about the only person who could remotely be considered close to Joseph Smith's family, and Brigham elevated her to a kind of celebrity status. Her young son, Joseph's nephew, was the only thing closest to royalty that the Mountain West Saints had to boast of.

A wonderful history of the Hierarchy is the two volume "The Mormon Hierarchy" by D. Michael Quinn. I highly recommend these two books as essential church histories. So essential that, if these were the only books you own, they would probably be sufficient.

Alan Rock Waterman said...


Your summary of events is pretty close to accurate, Curious TBM, though I might clarify a bit of chronology. Emma was always suspicious of Brigham's honesty and motives and didn't like the way Brigham used her husband's name, promoting the idea that he and Joseph had been best friends, but the split didn't come because of a feud between her and Brigham. The split came because the majority of the Saints HAD to flee for their safety, not because of differences between Brigham and Emma.

She detested BY for using her dead husband's name as cover for his adulterous crimes.

Joseph Smith had frequently denounced the growing practice of plural marriage going on in Nauvoo, and Three weeks before Joseph was murdered he announced in a public meeting that he had learned some of those closest to him were guilty of the abomination, and he vowed to expose them. Was Emma aware that her husband was referring to Brigham Young? I don't know, but it's likely, I think.

Brigham Young made frequent digs at Emma in his talks to the pioneer Saints, but was careful not to seem to antagonistic because she was, after all, the beloved wife of the prophet, whom everyone loved. Over the years he painted her as misguided and foolish.

Although thousands of Saints left Nauvoo because they feared the mobs, quite a few remained and the hostilities died down mostly because the voting block was broken. It was primarily the Mormon's political influence that their neighbors objected to, not the religion as most of us have been brought up to believe.

Not all who left went with Brigham. In fact, 4 of the Twelve refused to support him, and Brigham was forced to select replacements.

Thousands of other Saints who did not remain in Nauvoo gathered to Texas, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and parts of Missouri; while others who were already living throughout the midwest remained where they were. Only about half went to Utah.

It was three years before those who went with Brigham Young ever headed west. They had just crossed the river to Iowa and camped there until 1847. It was at Council Bluffs Iowa that Brigham proposed the formation of a First Presidency with himself at the head. He had rejected a First Presidency earlier, but now he assumed the head of that group by virtue of seniority.

He did not immediately have the support of the Twelve in usurping that office, but eventually the rest rallied behind him, and the popular story today is that it all went smoothly. It did not. In fact, the one thing missing regarding the succession was revelation. There was no revelation from God affirming Brigham should succeed Joseph Smith.

To further clarify, Brigham and those who went with him didn't go because of a split with Emma, they left because it was too dangerous for the majority to stay because of the antagonism of the neighbors. Most of the English converts went west, as that was where those who had converted them were headed. They didn't really know anyone else.

"Being of age" in those days generally meant attaining to the age of 21. Joseph III was 12 when his father died; Hyrum's son was quite a bit younger, though I don't remember how old he was. Somewhere between 3 and 8 years old would be my guess.

LDSDPer said...

It's fascinating to me (as I read Daymon Smith) to see how the dynamics worked.

If you grew up on the sanitized church history (seminary versions), all the good guys stayed in "the church", and the bad guys "left".

And all the early leaders got along well. It's ironic that so much is made of the conflict between Emma and Brigham, but seldom is it mentioned that there was almost open animosity between Orson Pratt and Brigham Young. And very little respect between John Taylor and Brigham Young. Brigham Young didn't really respect anyone, but John Taylor did not respect him at all. It must have been an effort for him to keep his opinions to himself; he seemed to be silent during much of the time Brigham Young was 'in charge' in Utah (John Taylor).

The one thing that impresses me as I read the actual history is that we have the words and teachings and doings of Brigham Young right there, admitted by himself as well as others.

But Joseph Smith's alleged practice of polygamy never comes from anyone other than a second hand source. Others SAY that Joseph taught this or that (always secretly)--

and the women to whom he was allegedly sealed/married spoke up about it decades later.

What Brigham said and did can be read about almost as it's happening--

not so with Joseph Smith.

How much slander can be pulled off if someone is dead? Apparently, very much.

I really am simple. I just want to know who actually was behind the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. I know it was ostensibly a 'mob'--and there were 'apostates' among that mob, but who paid them?

I am sure there were many willing to do it without any urging.

But I have always been suspicious of a number of things:

--Brigham Young was conveniently away when it happened, as were most of the apostles and . . .

--Samuel Smith died after being 'doctored' by Brigham Young's cousin, Willard Richards.

Those two things do appear to be red flags to me.

What I do know is that the history with which I was raised made Joseph appear weak and somewhat imbalanced and Brigham appear wise and reasonable.

And I think that may have been deliberate.

Also, Joseph Smith suffered fires, tar and feathering and imprisonment. How did Brigham escape all that?

LDSDPer said...

oh, and I don't believe I (possibly anyone) can know 'in this life' who killed Joseph and Hyrum.

It's a temptation to 'slur' those who are dead whom we don't like--

I have to be careful with that with Brigham Young.

I used to think he was some kind of noble person, and--

a trip to the Beehive House years ago made me begin to wonder--

and wonder and wonder and wonder--

until my wondering landed me in an uncomfortable place.

Thanks, if you read.

LDSDPer said...

And I will stop the Brigham-bashing.

I probably wouldn't have said anything about Brigham Young if I hadn't been dropping in on a few Mormon blogs lately and seen the term (the first time I had seen it), "Brighamite", to refer to any person who was part of the Utah LDS church--

I saw red. I couldn't believe how angry it made me to be referred to as a "Brighamite". Who came up with this? Is it a joke? Is it tongue in cheek? Are they serious? Is it an affront to Brigham himself in some odd way? I think something is behind it, but I'm not sure what--

is it PR to erase all the questions people have about Brigham Young, or is it an insult to Joseph Smith, or is it an insult to modern LDS?

But I'm not a "Brighamite"; I never will be, and I really resent being called one.

So much collectivism; it just gathers and spreads.

Thank you; I'm done.

Robin Hood said...

"Brighamite" was a term attached to those who went west by the RLDS. In turn, they were called (often by themselves) "Josephites" - after Joseph Smith III

LDSDPer said...

I don't doubt that, Robin.

I hadn't grown up with the term, though, and my first ancestors got to SLC in 1847.

It feels divisive to me, either way.

And an insult to everyone, really.

"If a church be named after a man . . ."--


LDSDPer said...

at the moment, to anyone who cares, I am banging my head against my monitor, because of the latest BCC post--

something about a day of fasting and prayer--

I know that very few LDS share my political beliefs, but it seems that many LDS will join the chant for the U.S. military to go to still another nation--

to 'rescue' people--

It seems designed to drag down this already foolish nation even more--

and, no, I don't blame the people in Nigeria.

I guess I need an LDS news blog for liberty lovers, but I am not starting it. :)

Sorry, Rock; I've said enough on a wide variety of topics for one day--


Alan Rock Waterman said...

I was just about to answer your query about the use of Brighamite, when I saw Robin Hood had covered it.

I'm not surprised you haven't heard that term, LDSDper; the Utah Saints didn't use it to describe themselves. But since the RLDS were often confused by outsiders as belonging to the same church as those who went west, they are the ones who adopted that term to distinguish themselves from the Utah Saints.

I never thought of it as derogatory, but I suppose it was. It was meant to describe followers of Brigham.

I haven't followed this fast for the rescue of the girls, only saw a headline, but I assumed it was fasting and praying for the girls' release. If indeed the object is to "inspire" another military incursion, I agree that's despicable.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

In my reply above to Curious TBM I guessed the age of Hyrum's son Joseph Fielding Smith to be somewhere between the age of 4-8. Boy, do I feel stupid. Of course he would be under 4 years old, since his mother and Hyrum were only married 4 years before Hyrum was killed.

CuriousTBM said...

Thank you all so much for the answers and clarification. I just have one thing I was hoping someone could elaborate.

The Prophet Joseph had ordained Hyrum to be the next Prophet, right? Was this a type of will, in the case of his death or had Joseph planned to step down as Prophet. Is "Prophet until death" an unfounded tradition, and if this is the case, what would Joseph have done, just been active in all his other titles of translator, president, trustee-in-trust, and the others?

Thank you all again

Unknown said...


LDSDPer said...


I am not as historically fluent as many on here--

but I have an opinion.

I don't think Joseph thought his life would really last much longer.

And I think he was done. Young to be 'done', but he had lived through many very hard things.

I have come to see, by reading Daymon Smith, that Joseph Smith (and the Lord) had a sense of humor about the entire beginnings of the church.

I think he knew Hyrum would be killed, too. I think he knew that it would open up all sorts of conflicts that would be a trial to people who needed to be tried.

Seen from that perspective, and I have long believed that most LDS (myself included at one time) take ourselves so very seriously--

when all the time we are being tried by things we don't think of as trials at all--

and perhaps being found very much lacking.

Early Mormons were human and no different. They saw themselves as 'special' no less than *we* do now.

Watching what Brigham Young and those other men who were left after the decimation of the Smith family . . .

and what the remainder of members would do--

was something God needed to have happen. It was a true test.

My ancestors were like Mary Fielding (some of them); they had come from England, and they had worked in factories and coal mines and on estates; they were poor people, used to taking orders.
The others who were still alive after Missouri were from the Eastern part of the U.S. and more independent in their thinking. All of them avoided Brigham Young; I can find nothing in any of their stories about Brigham. They speak of Joseph Smith; they speak of Lorenzo and Erastus Snow; maybe they were just trying to survive in Utah and didn't have time to write about anything (even my coal-mining British ancestors could write, mostly)--
I remember being told by my grandparents and parents how very harsh it was for the 'saints' in the west--

those from England had to have 'leaders'; those from the East didn't want their homes burned anymore--

so they 'followed' Brigham Young.

LDSDPer said...


About BCC and the 'day of fasting and prayer'--

At first I, too, was overjoyed to think of people here in America praying for these girls to be returned and accepted in their homes.

And then I saw this:

As to the Nigerian captives, Kristof direly notes that “the Nigerian military has shown little interest in rescuing the girls.” He reports, however, that “[t]he parents [of some of the girls] pursued the kidnappers, carrying bows and arrows to confront militants armed with AK-47s, but finally had to turn back.” Kristof reached out to Secretary of State John Kerry, who affirmed that the United States was “engaged and cooperating” with efforts to find the girls. And yesterday, President Obama said that “the U.S. will do everything it can to help Nigeria find nearly 300 teenage girls missing since they were kidnapped from school three weeks ago by an Islamist extremist group that has threatened to sell them.” More specifically, he said that “‘[i]n the short term our goal is obviously is to help the international community, and the Nigerian government, as a team to do everything we can to recover these young ladies.’”

This might seem the beginning of an answer to prayers offered by the parents of these girls. As Kristof reported, “[t]he father [of one], who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, said that the parents are now praying to God for the United States and United Nations to help get their daughters back.”

Perhaps that is what the parents are praying, that the American military/U.N. will intervene--

but when I saw Obama, who really doesn't have a good track record for human rights--

I sensed a 'set-up'--

and felt confused. I will continue to pray for the girls to be returned, somehow, without military intervention from the U.S.--

This has turned into a women's rights issues, and I can see why and how--

and I'm not saying I'm against that--

my father was unusual; he wanted me to get as much education as I possibly could; he would have been happy if I had pursued science (natural science, as I had dreamed); it was my mother who wanted me to study something more 'female' in tradition.

So, yes, I think this is a very sad thing wrapped up in a flag again--

but that doesn't mean those of us who care about these girls should stop praying for them.

I just distrust American political leaders, not just Obama.

engaged19times said...

No one is talking about anything good. Lets get back to the complainin'!

Who else on here cringes in mortification whenever we have to stand up in relief society and, in monotone, recite that stooopid YW theme. "We r daughters of our heavenly father who love sus and we love him." And how is this church not a cult again? I cant with that crap anymore. Im 34 frickin years old. My little tikes give me the side eye just for singing a nursery rhyme too enthusiastically.

Its this kind of stuff that goes on in mormon culture that builds up over time and ppl just want to cut the crap.

Now I dont know what this AW's beef was, and i have better things to do than go look that up, but i sure hope i never find my username on one of ur blog posts! I just like to post comments here every now and then cuz i like to complain about mormons to mormons.

Kevin said...


If the YW theme gives you the creeps make sure to check out Rock's essay on the American pledge of allegiance, 'One Nation Under Babylon'. Astonishing.

Anonymous said...

I have been living on an oil rig of the coast of Qatar for a couple of weeks spending most of my time with Indians. I have been so impresses by that culture I feel like most of them arent out to screw me. I have had a religeous conversation with a Hindu and before that day I kind of thought that religion a little backward, but I dont anymore. I am relearning that to get closer to God you have to connect to others spiritually. I know that the more we try to fit everyone in a box to fit in the mormon culture the more we try to police eachother rather than connect with eachother. Mormons are starved for connection. Rock you are one of those that recognizes that the mormon church has swung way to far to the police state and you can still feel what mormonism was trying to embrace. It was trying to teach us to embrace eachother spiritually. I know I am a better person because I embraced a Hindu spiritually. I wish I had as easy of a time connecting to my Elders quorum.
Jonathan Horton

LDSDPer said...

@Jonathan Horton,

Thank you for your words.

I have been blessed spiritually when I have learned about and reached out to other cultures and the people from other cultures.

I don't watch Hollywood movies anymore (we don't) or not very often; I like to watch independent films made in and about countries with which I am unfamiliar.

It has been very educational and spiritually rewarding. I can't travel right now (though I did some in the past), so this is how I am doing it. When possible, I meet people from other cultures as well--

You are right; LDS/Mormons are culturally and ideologically starving, and it is affecting their spirits--

The American middle class culture is about as sterile and violent as can be found anywhere, and yet *our* media projects upon the minds of those who view it--

that Americans are superior. There are so many scriptures that fit here. :)

Just hanging out said...

I found it VERY interesting that Mark's first email listed many service opportunities...ALL within the church organization.
Now, you and I both know that service opportunities abound everywhere...even (gasp) outside our ward membership and callings. :)

I find that narrow-minded view a bit unnerving. I'd much rather see our youth piling into a van each Sunday afternoon and visiting the homeless in Hurt Village downtown and offering them an apple or a listening ear.

I'd much rather see our RS sisters making regular visits to a battered women's shelter to deliver home-baked goods and warm blankets for infants...instead of making strawberry jelly at church.

I'd be delighted to see our teachers pulling weeds not only in the widow's yard but also wander over next door and help our her neighbor with something...just because.

All too often I see people withhold service because they weren't ASKED to perform...because the committee chairperson or quorum president didn't organize a relief committee.

As a former RSP I can tell you that it drove me nuts when sisters would either refuse to help themselves (grrr) or refuse to help others b/c the task was "too small" or "beneath" them. Yes, I actually had one sister who flat out refused help b/c she thought it beneath her. Nice.

Anyway - to serve others doesn't require a requires a willing heart and eyes to see a need....even if that need is outside of our church organization.

BK said...

Amen, Just Hanging Out.

It seems to me the Church keeps it's members so busy doing non-essential busy work that they don't have much time left over to be with their spouses & families or care for the needy like they need to.

If the Church really wanted to increase baptisms and spread Christ's Gospel all they really need to do is increase the 'service' the missionaries & members do for non-members, instead of just walking around all day getting little done or sitting in Church for 3 hours, along with all the endless meetings & shallow activities.

The youth would actually grow in character by leaps & bounds if they focused on service most of all, instead of having fun weekly activities or things like camp & trek, etc.

But that of course would be actually be 'following Christ' and 'doing what he did', and I don't think the Church wants to really do that, but only just enough to 'look' like they do, but not to make a real difference or to really follow Christ.

LDSDPer said...

@just hanging out--

I am lost; who is Mark and which e-mail?

Is there a part of this discussion I can't see.

I am not disagreeing with what you are saying; I believe, with you, that we as a people "underserve" in ways that really count--

I am always looking for things we can do that are true service, not just busy time at church (or elsewhere) that is called 'service'.

But I can't see an e-mail from a "Mark"--

LDSDPer said...

Ha, ha on me--

it's in Rock's original post--

the e-mail he got from a young man named Mark--

ah yes--

well, I have egg on my face--

I see your point(s) well now.

Yes, indeed.

Just Hanging Out said...

BK, Our youth would definitely grow leaps and bounds if they were, say, to go on a mini mission trip to ... Mexico City ... or to an Indian reservation and SERVE. Not preach, just serve. Minister to people's hearts. Touch lives. Share smiles. Share hugs. Share stories.

I have not served a mission and hubs is a convert, so I really don't know the intimate details of what missionaries do each day, but part of me wonders...are there so many missionaries in the field right now, that actually organizing a new way of doing things might be too much work? Perhaps the current program is more of "crowd control" than anything else. Not sure if that makes sense...something like...maybe we are keeping our young missionaries "busy" with things to do, lists to check, reports to make that they largely stay out of trouble during some very critical years?

Anyway - I wonder how we can suggest our ideas to the powers that be?

I know I suggested to ward council that we branch out in our service and look for community needs. I was pretty much ignored, ward is a lost cause with our current leadership.

When *I'M* Bishop...things'll change. :)

engaged19times said...

Just Hangin Out, Can u plz tell me why we have to stand up and say that totally ridonkulous YW theme in RS? Its very cultish and between that and the blowing smoke up the behind of Dieter F Uchtorf worship, RS has become completly intolerable for me. I cringe in mrotification when we have to say that theme. Ugh. RS meetings are truly unpalatable. BTW, im 34 y.o. and i know im not alone in these thoughts.

LDSDPer said...

@just hanging out--

I know you didn't address me, but when I served a mission (got home from it 38 years ago this past week)--

I remember feeling many, many times that I wanted to serve, I mean, as in really HELP people--

I saw opportunities, but we had been severely warned that we were not to do so.

I have regretted it ever since. I don't regret my mission for a number of reasons, but I do regret that.

The mentality is definitely very corporate--

My husband, on the other hand, served when he saw opportunities, and he was not stopped from doing so, but he was serving at the same time on the opposite side of the world from me. And we had not, yet, met.

Our missions cannot be compared in any way.

That said, I don't really think that the 'leadership' have the motivation to change the missionary program. I don't think that many of them have a realistic idea of all the suffering that is going on in the world. That could be eased by young, sturdy hands and hearts.

LDSDPer said...

@engaged 19 times--

I think that there is nothing anyone can do about a system that has been set up from 'above'--

other than refuse to repeat whatever is repeated.

I know my daughters thought it was very silly, mostly. They felt that much of it was.

I don't think a person has to say something he/she is uncomfortable with saying, but 'big brother (or sister)' may be watching.

If it isn't 'creepy', it is certainly elementary and an insult to intelligence.

But it's the tip of the iceberg--

LDSDPer said...


but the chanting was less disturbing than mean behavior by some of the other girls, to my daughters.

THAT was what we had to spend time crying over and giving hugs for.

Meanness does abound in this world, but it is certainly not exclusive to non-church settings.

LDSDPer said...

Rock and Connie were in Ohio!!!


I would have loved to have been there (but we didn't have a working car at the time)--

and I wouldn't have been able to do it physically--

is Connie now paying the price, I am afraid?

Was it amazing? I'm going to look at Spektator's link about it--

what an exciting phenomenon!!!

Just Hanging Out said...

When I was RSP, we had on again, off again stints where the Laurels were invited in for opening exercises. Those were awkward Sundays...first we had to set up extra chairs for the YW and once they left, we then had a large area of empty chairs that looked off. Second, the YW were always nervous about making their announcements and then standing for the theme.
We actually discouraged our RS sisters to say the was the YW theme...not the RS theme.

But...every RSP does things differently.

I served for 3 1/2 years in that calling...the next president didn't even last a year before asking to be released! lol!!

I enjoyed my time there (but don't get me started on those blasted food orders for families who were cruising to the Bahamas every summer), but my "shelf" crashed after I was released. I'm not sure what it was...but...things started to just not make sense after my time there.

Anyway - each ward is different and each presidency handles things differently.

engaged19times said...

Just Hangin Out, So ur shelf crashed? U cant drop a bomb like that and not tell the scoop! I'm all ears!

Anonymous said...

engaged19, I'm not sure I could sum it up for you. :)
Words sometimes seem to fail to express the feelings I had.

Mostly I guess I finally had a chance to step back and see how the ward was being run and it was simply not pretty. For example, when I was in WC I was the driving force behind any activity planned...once out, activities seemed to stop...or were planned with a week's notice.

That's just a small example...but one that started my questions...and I realized that I had a LOT of unanswered questions and no one to answer them. Many orthodox members were doing things that seemed to have no origin or doctrinal foundation (I know...I used to be a very orthodox member). And so began a process that led me to Rock's blog. Coming here was like...a home I didn't know about.

I appreciate Rock's comments more and more. Anyway, that's a nutshell. :) Sorry I can't offer more.

Just Hanging Out said...

engaged19, that was me in the above comment...I forgot to include my "name". :)

engaged19times said...

Just Hangin Out, I always like to hear the orthodox mormons exit stories. Im not an orthodox mormon and never really was, tho growing up I thought mormons had all the answers and i just wasnt "spiritual enough to understand." Now I see that is one of the warning signs its a cult. The other cult red flag for me is that peculiar way of claiming they have a special corner on truth and "eternal families."

I read Rock and Denver, and even tho both bloggers say they help ppl stay in the church, what I read from them only reaffirms my choice to stay on the outskirts of the church. I still hold a nonjudgment position on the BoM being true or not. Im "agnostic" on that.

engaged19 times said...

Also i posed this question here a couple weeks ago about who is richer, scientology or mormons. Im gonna have to go with mormons inc. I dont know if this guy mitt romney has been discussed on the blogs before but that guy basically owns china. Even the top ten richest celebs in scientology cant possibly be donating the kind of money mitt romney must donate to the mormon church. Idk, but it gives a new perspective on that whore of the earth scripture. Anyone read n2 that topic much?

Just Hanging Out said...

engaged19, I'm not sure I'm exiting. I'm just reevaluating what I feel/think/believe.

Wearing pantyhose to church, for me, for a long time, was doctrine. :)

I see now that is simply not, but how did I think that?

It's the little things that made me step back just a bit.

I still feel a connection to something within this religion.

I'm not ready to call it quits yet.

I think Rock has taught me that it's okay to question and seek for knowledge. It's okay to be a little unorthodox and still be "okay".

So...yeah...I'm still here...but not as vested as I once was. :)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Just Hanging Out,

You wondered if "maybe we are keeping our young missionaries "busy" with things to do, lists to check, reports to make that they largely stay out of trouble during some very critical years?"

That's pretty much a good part of it, alright. The early missionaries didn't need supervision. Today, much of a Mission President's duties amount to babysitting. They keep control of things by requiring the young men to provide constant reports of their activities, especially in the form of how many hours spent doing this, that or the other thing.

It's all done in corporate mode, with the spirit of God taking a back seat to the business model.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

LDS Dper,
Yes, we did go to Kirtland!

The rare opportunity Connie and I were given was truly a wonderful and miraculous thing.

Miraculous because Brett Bartel, who wrote the piece a month or two back on the actual message of the Book of Mormon, noticed in an aside I had written that I wished we lived closer to Ohio so we could go to the Kirtland symposium. He called and offered me his extra Skymiles and hotel points. He was apologetic because he didn't have sufficient miles to take Connie along, too.

I had to gratefully decline, because of course I couldn't leave Connie because she requires constant care. Then Joe Jensen and his wife Annette (Joe is the Proprietor of came forward and offered enough Skymiles for Connie to go, too, along with their hospitality at their home in Ohio.

I guess I don't have to tell you it was an incredible experience - except for the difficulty of getting there and back, of course. One thing we learned was that Connie really shouldn't travel. Being forced to remain sitting up for hours in her wheelchair in airport layovers, and then agonizingly stuck in narrow airplane seats for more hours still, turned her into quite a wreck. She's still struggling to recover from that part of the adventure.

Still, wild horses couldn't have prevented her from going, and though she spent all day Saturday in the hotel recovering under the care of a friend, missing the symposium itself, she was able to accompany me to the temple worship service on Sunday, where she was asked to give the closing prayer. A rare privilege indeed to pray in the same building that Joseph, Oliver, and others experienced their amazing epiphanies.

Just being there in that amazing sacred space caused us both to just sit and weep for several minutes upon our arrival. We were both so overcome.

We're so grateful to the Jensens and the Bartels for this amazing gift. I was certain I would never see the Kirtland temple in my lifetime, and so was Connie.

This blog has provided us with so many wonderful and unexpected miracles, not the least is the friendships we've developed with you readers. I actually thought I'd provide a report here on this blog when we got home, but I was inspired to write the piece I just completed instead.

Kirtland, by the way, was where I met Bill Shepard, the scholar from whom I cribbed most of the quotes for this piece. I also met Mormon Heretic, who has provided a nice report of the event on his blog,; and JustandTrue.come provides a report as well. In the near future, the organizers will be providing audio recordings of the presenters, so I'll make an announcement here on Pure Mormonism when those are available.

(The difficulty Connie experienced on that trip hasn't completely soured her on flying again in the future. She'd still like to go home to Utah for a visit one day day, and that's only an hour flight from here with no layovers. If I ever get around to writing my book, we plan to use the proceeds to make it home to Utah to meet those you who live out there.)