Sunday in Outer Blogness: Seerstone Edition!
What will the CoJCoL-dS think of next? Just a few days ago, they released pictures of the rock that Joseph Smith used along with the “Urim and Thummim” (also rocks) to “translate” the Book of Mormon:
If the above makes you go “Wha…? What are you even talking about?, this post gives a good explanation of the issues surrounding the rock-translation procedure. Or read the Cliff’s Notes version.
Even if some feel remorse for having taught people things that aren’t true, others argue there’s no need to have your faith shaken by this magic stone — seerstones were just 19th century iPads! Or maybe not:
The problem, then, is not only that modern Mormons do not believe one can find lost or hidden items using a seer stone, but they recognize, as did people in Joseph Smithâ€™s day, that people who pretend to have that ability are being dishonest. At best, finding items this way is a sort of parlor trick, but at worst, itâ€™s a conscious fraud. That Joseph Smith may or may not have made very much money in his endeavors is beside the point. That he used a seer stone at all in exchange for money is troubling to a lot of people. Thus, itâ€™s not so much the connection to folk magic but the connection to possible fraud that is troubling to people, especially since most are hearing of this for the first time.
So why is the CoCJoL-dS releasing this instead of just staying the course with the traditional “just don’t talk about it” plan? Here‘s a theory:
The secretive strategy didn’t work, and people found out about the weirdness anyway. So now it seems that the church is trying to roll out all the weird stuff at once, and I think they’re hoping that if they can just get it all out there, and weather the resulting exodus of members for a couple of weeks, whoever else is still in the church will be in for good. No more unpleasant discoveries for anyone, or if there are, it won’t be the church’s fault; they’ve disclosed.
Indeed, the CoJCoL-dS also released a bunch of historical documents at the same time. I look forward to seeing what interesting stuff people find while picking through them in coming weeks. Of course we’ll probably see a replay of the usual story: Facts that used to be “anti-Mormon lies” will be transferred to the realm of “What? We never hid that information” — while still being unknown to the average member. Also — as usual for anything interesting or new coming out of church headquarters — this announcement was made by President Newsroom, not any of those less important leaders.
On a personal note, I have to give a big amen to one of Daniel Midgely’s reasons for still writing about Mormonism despite being disaffiliated from the CoJCoL-dS for such a long time:
Mormonism is interesting! And with the ongoing revelations of polygamy and magic rocks, it’s never been interestinger! So who wouldn’t want to keep talking and writing about this slow-motion trainwreck?
Anyway, rocks aside, for me this has been a big week for books! I finally had a few minutes of free time and wrote three book reviews I’d been planning for months: a review of several recent books by Johnny Townsend (one of the most important figures in current post-Mo literature), a fun new novel by Alex Hansen, and a fantastic new ground-breaking graphic novel (not LDS-related).
In other Mo-Lit news, Lawrence Pratt, author of Dark Deception, has had three short stories published recently: “Sixty and Sacked” is found in this anthology, “End of Days” can be read free here, and “Blind Faith” can be read free here. Also, Micah McAllister’s book Exit Strategy was on special offer — sorry I failed to announce this offer early enough for you to take advantage of it. 😉
Reports from the recent Sunstone Symposium are coming in!! Joanne Hanks spoke about cults, C Jane Kendrrick reconnected with an old friend, and Heather reported on a presentation on human trafficking.
In theology, Andrew Hackman had a discussion with a pastor over whether God’s love can truly be “unconditional” if He’ll send you to hell for not believing in Him, and Kevin Dudley brought up some problems with the belief that you chose your family in the pre-existence:
The life you chose was pre-determined. You knew you would be born to a woman who was raped. Therefore she had not choice but to be raped. The male who raped her had no choice. If they hadn’t been complicit in their destiny you wouldn’t be able to realize your own. They fail to see how it leads to “this life must be endured” mentality instead of “this life should be lived.”
In life journeys, Steve had decided to reject the church’s “you’re in or you’re out” binary. ExMormon Tales just resigned. I guess the next step is to become a project. Monica is finding new ways to fall apart. And Dennis has found a gender identity.
In fun, Mike C discovered the task that is impossible even for God, and we have a new hashtag: #NotAllDentists. And in random life stuff, Charlotte and Chelsey did a lovely photo-shoot in Baltimore, and Froggey is playing with light.
As much as I would love to take credit for astute writing, the article “You May Have Been Born That Way…” belongs to Kevin Dudley. 🙂
@1 Thanks for catching that!
The problem was that you had both written about theological issues this past week, and I meant to link to both, and ended up somehow confusing them instead. It’s fixed now. 🙂
Thanks for the line on the graphic novel, I’ll be buying it.
@3 Awesome! I highly recommend it! 😀