Sunday in Outer Blogness: Delicious magic rocks edition!

The news of the Seerstone has been out for more than a week, and it has led to quite a bit of reflection and information on seerstones and church history. Also some fun stuff, like old-timey temple recommend questions and a glimpse into the future. Someone even found an old post post about how such magical objects were made!

The CoJCoL-dS is really going to town on confirming all that weird stuff you’d only heard rumors about before. Their own social blog just put up a post about the church’s secret vaults. It’s great that they’re being more honest, but it kind of calls attention to the fact that they weren’t being forthright before:

Oh, and the rock that Joseph actually used? According to outside sources (which turns out are more trustworthy than the whitewashed and carefully pruned history that the church reports), he found it and convinced people to hire him to use it to find treasure. I guess it didn’t occur to those who hired him, that if he could find treasure, he wouldn’t have been poor. He never found any treasure but he took the money and was subsequently brought up on charges – another part of history missing from these books.

Some members aren’t happy to see magical thinking return to prominence in Mormon beliefs, but perhaps it’s inevitable. If the rock wasn’t really magic, then it starts to look like Joseph Smith was making all this supernatural stuff up…

Of course, as weird as all the folk magic in the early church was, what about what’s going on in the corporate church today? The Newsroom claimed that “[T]he admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church”, which leads people to sincerely ask: Really? Are you sure about that? Then some members who weren’t happy about being called out for criticizing the LDS Newsroom really nailed it:

4. Public Affairs will be aware that the most common interpretation of D&C 1:38 is that when the Brethren speak it is as if the Lord has spoken. Are we to understand that Public Affairs now stands in that chain? Does this make the Newsroom in some way revelatory? Public Affairs will be aware of the “President Newsroom” jibe: would it be helpful if one of the apostles were to clearly explain its role and authority?

5. The Newsroom has been active in promoting a more nuanced view of the priesthood ban, as Brother Otterson’s discussion of the Gospel Topics essays shows. The essay on “Race and the Priesthood” tells us that, “[o]ver time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.” Had the Public Affairs department of the church given voice to these mistaken theories via a news release at the time, what responsibility would members have had in relation to it? Would it have been reasonable to criticize such a release?

And Daniel Midgley spelled it out even more directly:

a. The morality of the world improves, or an unpleasant tidbit from church history emerges.
b. The Church feels pressure to change.
c. Church leaders resist the pressure, because that’s not how the church works!
d. The issue starts to affect the bottom line, as members leave.
e. President Newsroom releases an uncredited, unannounced essay on in the middle of the night.
f. Apologists, PR flacks, and surrogates defend the church
g. Church leaders say nothing to clarify church doctrine, so that everyone can keep believing what they like.

Hawkgrrl followed up with some discussion of the church-as-marriage metaphor. For a quick intro to that metaphor, here’s what I said about it at Sunstone a few years ago:

J. Max claims that when faithful Mormons post complaints to the Bloggernacle, it’s like taking your marital problems down to the pub. I find that a very interesting metaphor. The problem is that all these faithful members — who do have a profound and intimate relationship to the church — don’t have the equivalent of a living room or bedroom where they can talk to the people who make church policies and expect the leaders to listen to them and take their perspectives into account.

Then there was another discussion on marriage and the church which kind of led to a very practical reason to oppose revering the Bible…

Andrew S interviewed Alison Udall about what the new Mormon Spectrum site adds to the LDS-interest online discussion.

We have some more book reviews this week! Steve Otteson gave 4 1/2 tapirs to Faith Beyond Belief, Knotty reviewed Perfect: The Journey of a Gay Ex Mormon and Goodbye, I Love You, Jonathan Langford reviewed Steven L. Peck’s latest book, and Hans RoseKat reviewed The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations, Volume 3.

In interfath interactions, Ron V. Huggins is calling for authentic dialog between Mormons and Evangelical Christians. In other LDS culture stuff, a pool in Orem, UT is enforcing modesty rules for four-year-old girls. In philosophy, why are swear words a moral issue?

Well, that wraps up another fun week in Mormon-land! Any guesses on what they’ll do next week?


C. L. Hanson is the friendly Swiss-French-American ExMormon atheist mom living in Switzerland! Follow me on mastadon at or see "letters from a broad" for further adventures!!

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3 Responses

  1. Parker says:

    What puzzles me about the seer stone and I’ve yet to see any one address it, is that Moroni provided Joseph Smith with a sacred device, commonly referred to as the urium and thummin, for the translation process. According to the report it was in the stone box with the gold plates. However, Joseph at some point used a stone that was found while digging a well. So he discarded the device the angel gave him for translating the gold plates him in favor of a stone someone found that Joseph subsequently borrowed.

    It is peculiar on its own to “translate” a record by peering at a stone in a hat, without actually needing the original record. It moves to the bizarre when the heavenly authorized device is discarded in favor of the seer stone technique. At some point someone is going to have to come up with an authorized story to account for this rather strange burp in the sacred story.

  2. chanson says:

    @1 That is a really good point.

    I had heard that the “Urim and Thummim” used by JS were actually just some more magic rocks, similar to the seerstone (in which case JS’s favorite magic rock might work just as well).

    Apparently JS claimed that these additional magic rocks were joined as spectacles, and then later (around the time he was writing the official first vision story) he got the idea to claim they were the Urim and Thummim from the Old Testament — which led to the claim that they were also somehow set in a breastplate. If the church could pull that out of the vault, that would be pretty cool!

  3. Suzanne Neilsen says:

    When I was young I thought it would be cool if the church would stick a seerstone in a lazer and light up Salt Lake.
    When I got a bit older I wondered why they never analyzed it in a spectrometer. There must be a reason it sat in the vault unused.
    They still ought to analyze it.

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