Parley Pratt is moving to Utah and the “Truth Restored”

LDS History

A descendant of Parley Pratt got a judge to allow him to have his ancestor disintered from his burial place in Arkansas and reintered in Utah, surrounded by his polygamist wives. This is kind of interesting just because it’s digging up a body (especially in light of the whole belief in resurrection – apparently Parley isn’t a “morning of the first resurrection” kind of guy). But there is also mention in the story of why Pratt was buried in Arkansas in the first place – he was hunted down by the husband of his 12th wife and killed (the claim is that Pratt seduced her and she was still married). This story also mentions the possible connection to Mountain Meadows, though many, including Jan Shipps, believe that is a little tenuous.

Another intriguing story… The LDS religion has embarked on a new ad campaign, touting the “Truth Restored.” Of course these are just ads, but I kind of started to think that maybe, just maybe, the LDS religion would start easing off on the whole “we are the sole arbiters of truth” claim. It is, of course, their prerogative to do whatever they want, but this does lead to the type of disenchantment so heavily discussed on this site over the last couple of weeks.

20 thoughts on “Parley Pratt is moving to Utah and the “Truth Restored”

  1. The ads have been available on Mormon.org for some time.

    I like em. I like the take no prisoners kind of approach in them. Much better than the vague and uninformative “Family-Isn’t it about Time?” series. Counter-cult ministries always used to rag on us for those old ads. Claimed we were being sneaky by luring people in with family and then making them lose Jesus or something like that.

    Well, no more. A few of those ads are basically an unapologetic kick in the nards of traditional Christianity. I’m sick of us apologizing for the fact that we happen to believe in what we are doing.

  2. The problem is that converts act on that kind of language, Seth. When they get hurt, they only get ridiculed by the likes of Bushman for being literalists.

  3. The problem is that converts act on that kind of language, Seth. When they get hurt, they only get ridiculed by the likes of Bushman for being literalists.

    Yup.

  4. is Parley moving with U-Haul?

    the first story I read about this said the cemetary where PP was resting was owned by the church… Is THAT true?

    Does the church own ANY cemetaries?
    (if yes, what does it take to get buried at one?)

    just wondering…

  5. The larger issue is that the LDS Church does not need to promote itself on TV. The Church needs to promote itself at church.

    A lively ward with good programs that meet the needs of its members will have no problems retaining its members. Such a ward will grow by leaps and bounds if its members reach out rather than being cliquish.

    Whatever they say, TV ads can only help on the margins.

  6. The problem is that correlation has been sucking the life out of wards and branches as well as the auxiliary organizations. The notion that the brethren can run the church from Salt Lake by regulating everyone’s behavior is ludicrous.

    Of course, there are larger societal trends that undermine the missionary program and member retention. There is no excuse, however, for failure to adapt to the environment.

    Centralization, myopic personnel, a bureaucratic management model, and a leadership unaccountable to its membership are the prime candidates to explain the failure to adapt.

    The other factor is wealth. The LDS Church appears to have so much money that its leadership has little incentive to respond to the needs of the members.

    A critical membership would be the best incentive for quality leadership. Unfortunately, we have generated a dysfunctional culture where criticism is not acceptable.

    As a result, many of the people who care the most are facing a stark choice between shutting up or leaving.

  7. Hellmut, do you really see Mormonism becoming less authoritative any time soon? I don’t. In fact, I think some of the appeal of the religion to many of the members is that very characteristic – it is authoritarian. This means you don’t have to think.

    People like you and me, we don’t belong there (hell, Seth doesn’t belong there), ’cause we like to think for ourselves. Whether there will always be a market for authoritarian religions is an open question, but I have no doubt that there is one today.

  8. profxm,

    Of course I belong there. My ward is family to me. I enjoy their company. I enjoy serving with them.

    Just because a person may complain about their annoying kid brother doesn’t mean they still wouldn’t give their right arm for him.

  9. Indeed, Seth, you like it there. But don’t you feel uncomfortable at times? Your response implies that you do. My point is: You think for yourself. What that means, IMO, is you are running against the grain in an authoritarian church, thus the uncomfortable feelings.

    I’m not trying to say you should leave nor am I claiming to speak for you, I’m just trying to make a point: those who think for themselves don’t always feel comfortable in Mormonism. You are, in fact, an example of that.

  10. I like to spend time with the members as well.

    I don’t know if the LDS Church will become less authoritarian, profxm. I am also not sure that being authoritarian is really attractive.

    One thing is for sure. The current situation where more people are leaving Mormonism than joining is not sustainable. Eventually, the Brethren will have to do something about it.

    In fact, they are already responding. Right now, they appear to be ineffective, which they will notice. Eventually, they might figure it out.

    The strength of the LDS Church is the devotion of the members. When the Brethren play to their strength, they might succeed.

    Correlation, however, is the opposite of playing to Mormonism’s strength because that management approach does neither allows members to take the initiative nor to exercise their creativity.

    Of course, there may be other problems with members’ initiative. That’s what training and supervision are for.

  11. I’m a naturally contrary personality. So I like to challenge and question. But I wouldn’t make the claim that my fellow ward members don’t “think for themselves.”

    Many are intellectually un-curious sorts. Many are relentlessly practical and have little patience for agonizing language of doubt and questioning. But that’s not the same thing as saying they “don’t have a mind of their own.”

  12. Seth R:
    No one said or suggested that LDS ‘don’t have minds of their own’, that’s clearly hyperbole. OTOH, (some) LDS certainly are lulled into a kind of a ‘Twilight Zone’ of being spoon-fed with not only ‘all the answers they’re supposed to know’, but also are explicitly messaged when a question (or ‘mystery’) doesn’t need to be asked or answered.
    IMHO, that approach puts both ‘the teacher’ and ‘the students’ on thin ice…
    just my .02

  13. profxm Says: it is authoritarian. This means you don’t have to think.

    According to my late, great, gorgeous wife (having recently passed from cancer) whom, I must admit was a great thinker and the smartest woman…no, person I ever knew…summized the church very thoughtfully one evening after personal gospel study, when she looked up at me and said “You know, this isn’t a church for dummies”.
    Being a convert I sheepishly nodded in agreement with the absolute correctness of her statement comforted by the fact that I wasn’t on the dummy list.
    After her passing, our Stake President inquired why we hadn’t reached our ward’s missionary goal for the year (I was serving as my ward’s assistant missionary leader at the time). I immediately remembered and envisioned my late wife in that moment of scripture study, so I quoted her to him and added “…and we may have fallen short on our goal, but I can testify to you with sincerity… I THINK we got all the smart ones!”

  14. Lee — I realize that ProfXM’s claim (that Mormonism appeals to people who don’t want to think for themselves) may seem unkind. Thinking for oneself is a quality that is highly praised. So I understand why you’d want to counter by claiming that it’s the faithful Mormons who are “the smart ones.”

    Still, just because the scriptures are unclear, it doesn’t necessarily follow that those who find meaning in the scriptures are more intelligent than those who don’t. (That seems to be the substance of your late wife’s argument if I’m reading your comment correctly.)

  15. In all honesty, while serving in Latin America it is usually the “less” educated that become members of the church. I personally didn’t like baptizing these ppl b cuz I felt like they didn’t really understand what they were getting themselves into. Every situation was different tho.

  16. Lee, I can understand how that might seem, but you also need to understand what is meant by authoritarian. Authoritarian individuals may be highly intelligent, but they generally apply that intelligence to other aspects of their lives. Authoritarian simply means they look to others to give them orders about some aspect of their lives. However, when they are in charge, they like to give orders themselves. It doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent, but rather that they look to others for direction.

    So, let me give an example. I have a friend who is a podiatrist. He’s really bright and a hard worker. He excels in his profession. But he has said to me explicitly that he doesn’t care about politics and he simply obeys the authorities of Mormonism. He doesn’t want to think about it and he doesn’t think about it. He does what he is told and trusts the male leadership absolutely. Does that mean that if they told him to kill his wife and kids he would do it? No. He’d probably stop and think about that one. But – here’s the rub – he’d consider it because he is authoritarian.

    If you’re interested, I’m happy to give some references to the work of Bob Altemeyer and Bruce Hunsberger, who are the ones who developed the authoritarian personality scale. They explain the idea in greater detail.

    In summary, it may seem like I’m saying all Mormons are stupid by saying they don’t think. What I’m really saying is Mormons are obedient and generally unquestioning when it comes to Mormonism… Outside of Mormonism they may be highly intelligent and carefully considerate in their beliefs and views. I know some very intelligent Mormons, but as Sterling McMurrin once said about Henry Eyring Sr. (I can’t find the exact quote at the moment and may be misremembering this), “He’s a brilliant chemist but his faith stagnated at the level of a high schooler.”

  17. Mine was simply a tongue in cheek response to how we can serve an authoritive figure (and or calling)in our own way; perhaps written and laced with mild sarcasm (a defense mechanism for sure) but in hind sight not neccessary. Please accept my apologies. It was late…and I was testy.
    Your points are certainly valid.
    I will respond with my humble point of view towards each comment:
    chanson: Of course not. People find different meanings in the scriptures on many different intellectual levels. I would think that is the reason for so many churches and their differing interpretations of the scriptures. But then it actually takes some sort of greater intellectual effort (study)to understand the nuances of higher spiritual laws, deeper meanings, hidden mysteries or clues to the character of the Messiah, prophets and apostles. No different than algebra requiring a greater knowledge than elementary math. Someone has to teach us those abstract mathematical principles for us to get it. A teacher…an authoritive figure; albeit perhaps only in the sense of greater knowledge.
    I understand the LDS church is becoming more homogenized by becoming more mainstream. And while certain truths have become partial embarrassments especially to the unintiated I personally enjoy the mysteries but then some people; and not necessarily the uneducated and certainly ALOT of the smart ones just don’t get it on any level.
    MormonZero: My point precisely. I would again reiterate that it takes a measure of intelligence to grasp basic concepts of the gospel. I would never baptise anyone who I didn’t feel was ready. But then who am I? So there may be truth the explanation (and I’ll paraphrase) Baptise ’em all, and let them wrestle with the holy spirit unto repentance. 30 years after my baptism and I know I still do.
    profxm: I really started thinking about what you said. At first I thought preposterous… and then remembered Joseph Smith at one time demanded that some members turn their wives over to him. This was the cause for many to apostate and possibly the reasons that the Expositor began publishing and with the destruction of said press eventually led to Brother Joseph’s martyrdom. Of those members that cried and prayed about it and eventually (the next day) submitted their wives to Joseph …he instead blessed them saying that they had passed the test of faith much like when Abraham had been required to sacrifice his own son. (It’s interesting to note that Abrahams son was 33; not a young boy as depicted in paintings and movies. He could’ve easily overtaken his elderly father but choose to obey and submit himself even in a death situation to his father; being a supreme authoritive figure).
    I shudder to think what I would’ve done. I’ve already mentioned how gorgeous and smart my late wife is/was. I honestly don’t know if I could’ve done it. But then there’s the me that KNOWS without a doubt that J.S. is/was a prophet, so I’m certain I would’ve done what he asked. And that lumps me into the blind faith followers of your description… but then I’m not! I’m an independent, on occassion intelligent, free thinking man.
    So I must come to a common understanding within myself where I can honestly disagree with your assessments but only until that time where-in my faith is put to the ultimate test…and I hope my decision will be the correct one… and be content that in this the present…I can in no way judge any man for either choosing to blindly submit or refusing to conform. I can only work out my own salvation in fear and trembling.

  18. Hi Lee,

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with a brother-in-law of mine. At the time he was a dyed-in-the-wool Mormon (now he’s an ex-Mormon, for other reasons). We were driving in a car together on a family trip in Southern Utah. It was just him, my wife, and me (the rest of the family was in another car). I don’t remember how we got on the topic, but I was trying to point out the infallibility of prayer.

    I asked him, “Do you think god answers prayers?”
    He said, “Yes.”
    I said, “So what if the prophet called you up and told you to do something, you pray about it, and the answer to your prayer is that you shouldn’t do what the prophet says?”
    He said, “Well, then one of the two of us must have made a mistake in interpretation, because god doesn’t contradict himself.”
    I said, “Couldn’t it be possible that one of you is simply wrong?”
    He insisted, “No. Prayers are answered and the prophet doesn’t make mistakes.”
    I pushed him on this for quite a while but he wouldn’t budge.

    That brother-in-law is a physicist with a PhD who now works at an Ivy League University. He’d curse his former self, but he was definitely acting very authoritarian at that time – the authorities in his religious life (the prophet and god via prayer) could not be wrong or contradict, even if they were wrong or contradicted. Looking at this from the outside I found it very hard to understand, but that’s the way authoritarianism works.

  19. Well…We know that men in authoritive positions can be wrong….evidenced by many old testament scriptures as well as the more recent case of the Hoffmann forgeries. On a personal level I was once called before the bishop and threatened with church court and excommunication for an action that was completely out of my control.
    Being a new convert, and still prone to backsliding shortly after my conversion… I received a call from my close fraternity bros (all heathens) that they were going to meet in New Orleans for Mardi Gras (1979); a mini reunion of sorts.
    Now I have been to Mardi Gras before; prior to my baptism, and know how utterly debaucherous it is. No self respecting seeker of God/Truth would ever go there.
    Stand ye in holy places.
    I was wrestling greatly with the decision to join them; they did not know I had become a Mormon and how my life had changed. Never-the-less I really wanted to see them and I was free that particular weekend (rare) so I opted to go. If anything bad happened…well, I would repent later.
    The weekend came and I had a great time with my friends.
    After the weekend and on my way home I felt terrible. I was racked with guilt for I had not lived up to what was expected of me (by authoritive figures). I was genuinely ashamed of myself.
    When I got home… Howard, my LDS roommate greeted me at the door with a look of great concern on his face and said “Boy, all crap broke loose this weekend around here”. I asked “What heck happened?”
    It seemed that unbeknownst to me, a married sister in the church had the hots for me, and on that particular weekend got some booze and got drunk and came over to my house to confess her undying love to me. (I knew her daughter, but I didn’t even know she existed).
    Details of this sister’s activities were told to me, how she fell out in my yard, rolled around in the mud and dirt, screaming my name. I was aghast! Howard said he called the RS Pres and the Bishop and they came and got her. It was terrible. I was genuinely embarrassed for her and her family. I was embarrassed for myself.
    The following Sunday I was called into the bishop’s office. Where I was screamed at for this happening and was told that it was a good thing I was out of town for had I been home he would’ve seen to it that I would be excommunicated. Please understand I was a babe in the gospel and thought these men were infallible, but found myself thinking…
    ::you dolt, here I am racked with guilt having been in the debauchery capitol of the world, where I had seen more sin in a weekend than you will in your entire life, and you are telling me that it was good that I was gone?::
    I realized at an early time in my new found faith that authoritive figures had clay feet as ALL men do.
    Did that shake me to my core? Yep. But his misinterpretation of events and laying the blame upon me (lol) would not change the many manifestations that I knew this gospel was indeed true. I knew that “I” and “my relegion” were alot bigger than him.
    He was a good man and only did what he thought was right according to his limited understanding of worldly things. While initially hurt, I never harbored a grudge against him.
    I guess the only way one can be truley authorative to another is only if we allow them to be.

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