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Being Mormon in a Mormon moment

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  • Stay the Course Salt Lake City, utah
    Sept. 8, 2011 10:32 p.m.

    Never seen vanka at a loss for words. Clever response Michael

  • The Vanka Provo, UT
    Sept. 8, 2011 3:57 p.m.

    Nice response, Michael.

  • Whos Life RU Living? Ogden, UT
    Sept. 8, 2011 12:04 p.m.

    Having visions in the early 1800s wasn't that strange.

    "I saw two spirits, which I knew at the first sight. But if I had the tongue of an Angel I could not describe their glory, for they brought the joys of heaven with them. One was God, my Maker, almost in bodily shape like a man. His face was, as it were a flame of Fire, and his body, as it had been a Pillar and a cloud. In looking steadfastly to discern features, I could see none, but a small glimpse would appear in some other place. Below him stood Jesus Christ my Redeemer, in perfect shape like a man---His face was not ablaze, but had the countenance of fire, being bright and shining. His Father's will appeared to be his! All was condescension, peace, and love."

    Was this a previously unpublished version of Joseph Smith's "first vision," one might ask? No. It was the claim of one Norris Stearns, published in 1815, in Greenfield, Massachusetts---not far from where the Joseph Smith Senior family lived in Vermont.

  • Michael De Groote
    Sept. 7, 2011 7:28 p.m.

    Vanka at 3:19 a.m. Sept. 5 asks, "Am I reading this right? Are Mormons, including Bushman, really, seriously criticizing and trying to dictate to others what questions are appropriate?"

    Answer: No, you are not reading it right.

    Vanka then says, "Please tell me Mormons are not that arrogant..."

    Answer: Ok. Mormons are not that arrogant.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Sept. 7, 2011 2:31 p.m.

    I had the same thoughts as Vanka to a degree. It is not reasonable for Mormons to present the world with the relevant questions. This really say's nothing about those inquiring into Mormonism, but rather suggests the type of questions that Mormons would prefer to answer. This isn't good business. Mormons in the media, such as Bushman, would be better focused on trying to understand the kinds of questions that people are asking - and then to provide better answers to those questions.

    Asking someone if they "really believe" in the First Vision is probably one of the most relevant questions that can be asked. In response to the question is the opportunity to explain why? Besides, if what Bushman gets out of Mormonism is directly tied to the belief that the "church is true" (along the lines of standard Mormon convention) - then essentially he was asked the question he was hoping for...he just didn't recognize it. If on the other hand, the literal truthfulness of Mormon claims is not where Bushman derives his utility of membership, then yes, the question: "do you really believe this stuff", would be quite problematic and disturbing.

  • DSB Cedar Hills, UT
    Sept. 6, 2011 11:03 p.m.

    To RanchHand - don't forget that there are no contradictions in Joseph Smith's multiple versions of the First Vision, despite different emphases on different elements of the experience, at different moments of re-telling. There is no disagreement as you claim, and simply repeating this worn-out and disproved claim does not lend more credence to the conclusion so deceptively implied, no matter how much a simple-minded anti-Mormon may so desperately want to believe it.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Sept. 6, 2011 9:17 a.m.

    Don't forget that there were multiple versions of the "first vision" and they don't agree with on another.

    Just sayin'

  • Admiring Gentile Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 5, 2011 8:47 p.m.

    To those whose interest was piqued by the frequent mention of Hugh B. Brown's "Profile of a Prophet," hey, we live in the Internet Age! You don't have to hunt down a copy--simply Google it. It'll come right up.

    I must say I'm amused by the posters here who are doing a back-and-forth about "beliefs." As I mentioned in my previous posting, beliefs can never be "proven," so why even bother debating them? I'll respect anyone's beliefs as long as they don't try to push those beliefs into public law, such as the opponents of gay marriage are trying to do. Only a belief, never a fact, could be against gay marriage.

  • so it goes... SLC, UT
    Sept. 5, 2011 7:26 p.m.

    It's interesting that Hugh B. Browns name has been mentioned a few times in the comments. If Pres. Brown was still alive, would he be as respected today in Utah seeing that he was a life time member of the Democratic Party, was the first chairman of Utah's Liquor Control Commission, and wanted to rescind the Negro Doctrine 9 years before it happened?

    Also in light of the Amish and Presbyterian example stated in the article, I dont recall either of those religions making claims like the LDS Church does, such as possession of golden plates, speaking to the Godhead in a grove of trees, the Garden of Eden being in Missouri, God living on the planet Kolob, practicing polygamy etc.

  • Freedom-In-Danger WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Sept. 5, 2011 7:23 p.m.

    Skeptic: I'm sure you are done with this conversation so I do not want to feed an argument; but I do want to add one thing if it helps. I myself do not believe that God does not answer prayers of anyone who is not LDS. I believe that he indeed does.

    I believe revelation and prayer are different. While I believe anyone can receive the truth from God and that anyone can have prayers answered, I believe that priesthood authority has more to do with ministering this work to others. Only one ordained with authority from God can reveal things to others. Sometimes people need help from someone else and prayer isn't the right answer. Sometimes we can be so prideful that we might deny a prayer with a subtle denial, but by believing in the leadership of the church, we would follow their counsel when not following something that came to us directly. It's complicated, obviously, but the only point I'm driving at here is that I don't believe that only I can get truth, just that the 'true church' in my eyes has more to do with the LDS traits regarding organized religion.

    Wish you well.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Sept. 5, 2011 7:01 p.m.

    If your God is perfect, only perfect people can "know" Him.

    If you claim to "know" Him, but then also claim "nobody's perfect, even us", then you do not know him.

    "Knowing" does not contain any dilution.

    If you claim to "know", you had better be perfect, or else you are a liar. See 1 John 2:4.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Sept. 5, 2011 6:18 p.m.

    % New Yorker and Freedom-in-Danger:

    Thank you gentlemen. At this point I am lost for comment. Pehaps you do have a conduit to god that no one else seems to have. I am very happy for you. I am happy that you know things that I myself and others can only hope to believe. You have a wonderful gift, I sincerly hope it serves you and others well.
    Best wishes.

  • Freedom-In-Danger WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Sept. 5, 2011 3:24 p.m.

    skeptic: I offer an alternative solution to your concerns. If a Mormon indeed saw God the Father and Jesus Christ and was told that no other church's were right then that Mormon indeed has very good cause to say "this is absolutely true and I know it to be true".

    Please try to understand it this way instead. We believe ourselves to be true, and members may possibly have every reason to say that they know it, whether they've seen God for themselves or not; with that in mind, my saying "I'm right" does not necessarily mean that I'm saying "your wrong". I could be saying "Joseph Smith was conferred the priesthood and no other religion offers revelation from God" and also believe that other religions have certain things right, or have knowledge of certain truths, if even many truths... but that they simply do not have the priesthood authority to provide modern revelation.

    Saying "I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God" does not mean that there are not true aspects of your own faith. We do not claim to be perfect either though, as the Book of Mormon title page addresses. Any help?

  • New Yorker Pleasant Grove, UT
    Sept. 5, 2011 3:22 p.m.

    skeptic,

    The answer to your question is simple. Develop your own ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation. It's the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.

    LDS teachings are that God directs different people to different things, even other churches to achieve his eternal purposes. In 1842, Joseph Smith taught, "The Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men.... He will judge them, 'not according to what they have not, but according to what they have,' those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have a law, will be judged by that law.... When the designs of God shall be made manifest, and the curtain of futurity be withdrawn, we shall all of us eventually have to confess that the Judge of all the earth has done right."

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Sept. 5, 2011 2:34 p.m.

    %New York; Thank you for sharing your incites; but how, or why would I believe or accept what a Mormon tells me he/she knows is the truth more than I would a Catholic priest, or a born again christian, or an Orthadox Jew,or even a devout Muslim. These people have dedicated their lives to prayer,study and religion and they do not claim to know, or agree with you. I maintain that we can only believe and that we do not know. I do not believe that I know, and I do not believe that you know.

    %Ms.W: I am a skeptic, not an atheist.

  • Ms.W South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 5, 2011 1:07 p.m.

    @skeptic

    And atheists don't advertise? Never tiring, by telling us what they think is true? How about the billboard that says "Don't believe in God? You're not alone."

    How about bus advertisements that say "Why believe in God? Just be good for goodness sake". One wonders where they think goodness comes from.

    How about during the Christmas season, where you'll find posters at the Washington State Capitol building which read: "At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

    Talk about in your face.

  • New Yorker Pleasant Grove, UT
    Sept. 5, 2011 11:20 a.m.

    Hi skeptic, you say:
    "The controversy and conflict with the public perception of Mormons doesn't seem to be with Mormon believes(sic.), everyone is entitiled to their believes(sic.), it is with the Mormon fatuous claim to know. Mormons seldom say what they believe, it is what they think they know; and they almost always bear their testimony that they do know, therefore they are right and all other believes are wrong. Mormons seldom prove what they say they know, it is a magic spirit that witnesses to them that no one else knows. It seems to be an arrogant and false witness to others who have to listen to it."

    The LDS General Relief Society President Julie B. Beck taught in April 2010 General Conference, "The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life." When the LDS bear testimony, it is a testimony of a mantic experience, and not a sophic one.

    As far as bearing this testimony to the world, that was commanded by the Savior himself. All true Christians enthusiastically share the good news of Jesus Christ with an unbelieving world.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Sept. 5, 2011 9:48 a.m.

    % A voice of reason: You write:First, no one "has" to listen to anything. If you don't believe that the LDS paradigm has any merit and/or logical claim, then I invite you to move on.

    Thank you for your invite, but I live in a larger hetrogeous community of different people and friends including Mormons. Our Mormon friends don't stay in there ward talking to themselves, they share their lives with us, and they never tire of telling us what they know is true. They think (like You) that they have the only truth and the rest of us just have our believes. I feel perhaps it is you who needs to move on to reality. It doesn't mean we can't be friends; right. I hope you have a good day.

  • uncommonsense CENTERVILLE, UT
    Sept. 5, 2011 9:18 a.m.

    @vanka, you didn't read the whole article did you? It was actually more about Mormons being more generous with the answers to questions they are asked. A good sense of humor comes in handy as well.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Sept. 5, 2011 3:19 a.m.

    Am I reading this right? Are Mormons, including Bushman, really, seriously criticizing and trying to dictate to others what questions are appropriate?

    Please tell me Mormons are not that arrogant...

  • KM Cedar Hills, UT
    Sept. 4, 2011 11:23 p.m.

    "what the LDS Church believes.." A good place to find out would be the Articles of Faith. They are clear and written in plain language that cannot be misrepresented.

  • O'really Idaho Falls, ID
    Sept. 4, 2011 10:31 p.m.

    To Voice of Reason

    It would be nice if they would ask what the LDS church believes, but I think they already think they know it all. Or if they don't know much they don't really want to know any more. They know enough to brand it as an outrageous story and they want to make Bushman and Givens look like fools.

    I agree with the posters who suggested better questions..."Why are these beliefs important to you?

  • JRJ Pocatello, ID
    Sept. 4, 2011 10:27 p.m.

    Good to hear that Bro. Brown's "Profile of a Prophet" is still being listened to. It was a staple in our mission so many years ago. I still feel that same commitment and dedication to the gospel as I listen to it or read the transcript. What a powerful testimony.

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    Sept. 4, 2011 8:17 p.m.

    Nibley and Bushman are great examples (and spokesmen) because they have a sense of humor; if we can increase in knowledge and not take ourselves too seriously, that is a great accomplishment. This article didn't mention humor but these men are probably the most talented with using humor in the history of the world. Also, I've heard Prof. Bushman say when we are sharing the gospel with others, (at work or wherever) that we should use the same everyday voice that we use in talking about sports and the weather-----yet when we bring up religion----- our voice changes, we become tense--- we are not the same and it makes others uncomfortable.

  • Elder Dave Livermore, CA
    Sept. 4, 2011 6:40 p.m.

    To: Montana Mormon @ 8:44 AM

    Hugh B. Brown's "Profile of a Prophet" was a Great Presentation, a true
    classic.

    I'm sure there's still copies of it around. The main focus, if I recall,
    was the concept that with All the trouble in the World of today (and at
    the time just before World War 2 got really big), we certainly Need a prophet like in times of old for Today. Hugh B. Brown was an attorney before being called to high LDS leadership positions and he presented his "brief" just as a lawyer would Do in trying to win a "case".

    Very well done. There's Nothing there to be embarrassed about.

    Thanks Montana Mormon for bringing up Brother Brown's
    Great Presentation!!

  • Wayne Rout El Paso, TX
    Sept. 4, 2011 6:36 p.m.

    Nice man. Good article. I'm glad he is here, now, helping the way he is.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 4, 2011 5:28 p.m.

    Skeptic,

    First, no one "has" to listen to anything. If you don't believe that the LDS paradigm has any merit and/or logical claim, then I invite you to move on. But where I have a problem with such a claim is here- 'Regular' poster's who frequently take issue with the LDS Church, complaining about 'having to listen to Mormon claims', on an LDS Church owned paper, on an article appealing primarily to Mormons... are you aware of the logistical problem of such a complaint? It would be like going into an LDS Chapel and saying "I'm sick of having to be around you people". I'm simply pointing out that you are in control of what you listen to or read.

    I know this Church is true. However, every last argument, political point, or other view I share, is supported by deductive reason. Even if I'm reasonable, anti's still fight because 'anti' means 'refusal to listen'.

    I believe in peace, which I believe is accomplished only through listening, and focusing on points of agreement, where we find common ground... ultimately, by working together. There is no "together" in spending all of one's comments fighting another human beings beliefs.

  • Admiring Gentile Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 4, 2011 5:13 p.m.

    To me, it's ridiculous to ask, "How can you possibly believe these things?" for the simple reason that beliefs, by their very definition, can't be factually proven. That's exactly *why* they're "beliefs."

    A better question to ask of anyone is, "How do your beliefs govern your behavior in the factual world which we both share?"

    If I had been Dr. Bushman, I would have suggested that the interviewer rephrase the question to the above-mentioned one because, again, beliefs can never be "rationalized."

    If the interviewer agreed to do that, then Dr. Bushman could have presented an excellent case for Mormonism, based not on beliefs which many people (myself included) simply cannot share, but on the many admirable effects of those beliefs.

    As Jesus said, you can tell what a tree is like by the fruit it bears.

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    Sept. 4, 2011 5:10 p.m.

    "Why is Mormonism valuable to you?" is a nice question. A reporter could also ask: "Why is being a member of the NRA valuable to you?" The differnce is that the NRA isn't claiming to be the only true rifle association across the face of the earth.

  • BYR Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 4, 2011 4:53 p.m.

    Skeptic has a point. But as a believing, knowing LDS, there are parts of my testimony that I KNOW because of empirical experience. And yes, I KNOW I cannot prove those experiences to someone else, regardless of 'the magic spirit' he cites. But those experiences are real, very real, very knowable.
    On the other hand, in our LDS culture, we do conflate 'know' and 'believe' far too often and it should not be so.
    But I still know what I know and believe what I believe. Now if I can only live accordingly, eh? But I am trying. You?

  • sisucas San Bernardino, CA
    Sept. 4, 2011 4:12 p.m.

    The Joseph Smith story can seem pretty wierd to outsiders. I met a stake president in europe who told me when he first heard the story he figured it was probably true becuase if we were going to make a story up we could come up with a lot better one.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 4, 2011 3:52 p.m.

    Michael De Groote,

    The 'value' and 'what do you get out of your religion' quote is something I certainly agree with. I obviously don't know the whole interview experience myself, which is why I was trying to avoid sounding critical of Bushman or the interviewer. I do feel that the 'why is it valuable' is a worth while question, it's just that one of my biggest worries about public discourse is the idea of justifying hostility for a different belief, simply because it's different- without even fully understanding the stance one is fighting. Because of this, I made my "what do you believe" comment.

    BUT, with that in mind... I loved the quote about Parley P. Pratt. I like the mentality. Some of my recent comments on this article and others have been heavily focused on the need to listen to each other. I'm not saying I'm perfect here, just that it's the right thing to do.

    The idea of exploiting the differences in LDS doctrine resonates with the idea of welcoming diversity, welcoming civil discourse, and ultimately the freedom to share one's views.

    Thanks for the quotes! In my opinion, very relevant to the article and thought provoking.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 4, 2011 3:11 p.m.

    In the presidential contest a major issue is the degree to which an LDS president would have to take direction for the president of the LDS Church. Sooner or later Romney and Huntsman are going to have to answer that question. What is the correct response to that question? What is the official LDS Church view of that question? There are a number of different views.

  • Michael De Groote
    Sept. 4, 2011 2:00 p.m.

    Here is a quote from Richard Bushman that didn't make it into the article. I asked him what question he wished reporters would ask him:
    "I think what reporters need to ask, but don't, is, 'Why is Mormonism valuable to you? What do you get out of your religion that is really important?' Mormons should have that question asked them more. They should answer it all the time because we have such prefabricated (language for our) testimonies that they begin to be drained of authenticity after we've said them a thousand times. It's a good question to be asked and to think about. I'd like to have reporters ask me that," Bushman said.

    Here is a quote from Terryl Givens also not in the article:
    "We've come a long way from Parley P. Pratt, the LDS Church's first really prolific proselytizer and defender. When he was queried about the church's position on orthodoxies, not only did he not shy away from them, he exploited them. He exploited the opportunity to emphasize Mormonism's radical break with a Christian tradition." (Givens has a great new biography of Pratt coming out in Oct.)

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Sept. 4, 2011 1:58 p.m.

    The controversy and conflict with the public perception of Mormons doesn't seem to be with Mormon believes, everyone is entitiled to their believes, it is with the Mormon fatuous claim to know. Mormons seldom say what they believe, it is what they think they know; and they almost always bear their testimony that they do know, therefore they are right and all other believes are wrong. Mormons seldom prove what they say they know, it is a magic spirit that witnesses to them that no one else knows. It seems to be an arrogant and false witness to others who have to listen to it.

  • utahprincipal801 Sandy, UT
    Sept. 4, 2011 10:46 a.m.

    I am a great admirer of both Richard Bushman and Hugh Nibley. I loved Bushman's biography of Joseph Smith and have read much of Nibley's work concerning LDS topics. I appreciate the insightful, thoughtful and kind way Prof. Bushman reacts when he is asked to speak or is interviewed. I loved knowing his approach to speaking and being interviewed, " I am a follower of Jesus Christ". I wish to follow his example as well.

  • OHS 89 PLEASANT GROVE, UT
    Sept. 4, 2011 10:43 a.m.

    Every Mormon should read this. Every Mormon should understand this. Having the skills to talk to the media should not just be reserved for Mormon celebs. Just like his sweet and wise wife Claudia said, we all need to be less defensive and more generous with our answers and our attitude. We need to teach our kids the first lesson offered in this article - which is that most people think we are NUTS for believing in Joseph Smith. Love his rules for talking with the media - and those rules could apply to everyone. I echo Texas Reader's comments. I'm a big fan of Professor Bushman's work and am grateful for his perspective. It's difficult for the "leadership" to publicly take on sensitive issues but more and more that's what we have to explain - so it's great to have a "leader" such as this.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 4, 2011 10:09 a.m.

    I should clarify- I am not criticizing Bushman or the interviewer. I'm only examining the interviewing methodology.

    With how much incivility, hostility, and even violence has come from such a subtle distinction, I think it's important to clarify the difference and the outcome of each option. Questioning only whether someone believes only offers to examine that individual- where questioning those beliefs for yourself is not just potentially more productive, but it is far more conducive to a peaceful dialogue.

    I also want to clarify my original post (it's hard with the word limit)... The interviewer said, "How can a person like you believe...?" I realize that "how" isn't "If" as I was examining. But in the second to last paragraph I was addressing why I see it actually meaning "if" instead. However, in the case that "how" was intended, then the question would only serve an even less appropriate end. "How can someone like you" casts doubt and is fallacy, specifically the "loaded question" as it will be understood most often as "Someone like you shouldn't believe this".

    So- not asking if or why, but 'what one believes' is the most productive approach in preserving peaceable public discourse.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Sept. 4, 2011 9:21 a.m.

    Bushman's approach is refreshing. LDS claims, like all religious claims, can come across as strange and difficult for outsiders to understand let alone accept.

    Some LDS are so comfortable and familiar with LDS claims and beliefs that it is hard to put themselves into the shoes of outsiders. I hear the full-time missionaries in our area say that if someone doesn't accept the message they just "weren't ready" or "sufficiently humble". We don't empathize with the real and honest "strangeness" of the story to someone who has not grown up hearing it repeated multiple times a week.

    Bushman seems to get that and is willing to acknowledge the difficulties of accepting or understanding the LDS story while sharing his own personal belief and faith.

  • New Yorker Pleasant Grove, UT
    Sept. 4, 2011 9:15 a.m.

    Great article. I really like what Richard Bushman has to say and the way he says it.

    The religious of this world should have little cause to say "How can a person like you believe all these things?" because they themselves believe in miracles. Yet they do ask the question because such an event, if it really happened, would require them to change their view of God.

    Incredulity from religious persons seems to come from two perspectives:

    God couldn't do that.
    God wouldn't do that.

    Of course the first doesn't make sense because, by definition, God is omnipotent. If He wants to appear corporeally to Joseph Smith, he certainly has the ability.

    To the second, Latter-day Saints answer, "Of course he would! He loves his children."

    For others to accept that God would personally speak to his children, will take a big shift. The Old Testament says Moses and others spoke with him face to face in Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The New Testament says Stephen saw him. Nonetheless, most people alive today, even those who believe the Bible, cannot accept this. Of course, the LDS are excepted because it's happened multiple times since the restoration.

  • KM Cedar Hills, UT
    Sept. 4, 2011 9:08 a.m.

    Why do you believe the things you do? Its a good questiona and one that is answered every day by truth seekers around the world. Go to the source of all truth, God. I know that he is not dead, as some religions would say, but that he lives and will answer the heartfelt prayers of his children, just like he answered the prayer of a young boy named Joseph Smith.

  • Montana Mormon Miles City, MT
    Sept. 4, 2011 8:44 a.m.

    In his classic talk, "Profile of a Prophet," Hugh B. Brown explained how he, as a rational and educated man, could believe such a thing (the First Vision) during a conversation he had with a highly educated and respected (though unnamed) judge, just prior to WW II, I believe it was.

    I recommend this talk to anyone who would be interested in the approach he took to this very question.

  • Texas_Reader College Station, TX
    Sept. 4, 2011 6:25 a.m.

    This was a fantastic article. I wonder if Professor Bushman knows how much his life, his books, and his approach to our faith has meant to Mormons like me during my life. I'm in my mid-thirties now, with a family of my own, but while in high school I read his book "Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism," and then of course later read Rough Stone Rolling, which is without question my favorite biography of all time--and I read a lot of books! Prof. Bushman has had a profoundly positive impact on my life and my testimony of the gospel. Even his simple but thoughtful responses to the "Book of Mormon" musical (referenced in this article) made me feel proud to be a latter-day saint. It means everything to me to know that a person of his capacity and understanding is so profoundly faithful at the same time. I wish I could thank him in person, and hope someday I'll get the chance.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 4, 2011 2:01 a.m.

    "How can a person like you believe all these things?"

    This question is a red herring.

    The issue at hand isn't our view of Joseph Smith, but Joseph Smith's claim.

    To say 'do you believe Smith's account?' fails to address anything other than how this man reasons. If someone actually wanted to know about the LDS Church, they should ask more about the account of the first vision, rather than how others view it.

    With that, I don't see this as real curiosity about the Church as a plausible true choice... but rather an examination of either a foreign group and philosophy- or an examination of how the Church or members currently play a role in current events.

    With how much incivility arises from a lack of understanding the LDS position and paradigm- I think that it would be better for people to ask what we believe, rather than IF we believe. And "How can a person like you..." seems to only be asking if he believes, not what he believes.

    It would do more good by wanting to learn other views, rather than put to question the legitimacy of believing them, which this seems to do.