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Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Defending the Faith: Were Smiths workers or slackers?’

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Published: Thursday, May 26 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

Uggh, this is the kind of apologist article that continues the perception that there are certain aspects of LDS history that just will not be told - or will be told in a way that seems to answer the critics while avoiding the real concerns.

In my experience, modern criticism of Smith family employment rarely concerns itself with whether or not the Smiths were hard workers. They were very hard workers. The concern is with what the Smiths did at times for employment. Specifically the practice of searching for lost treasure using the same stone that Joseph Smith used to translate the majority of the Book of Mormon.

Daniel Peterson knows this. But his attempt to denegrade anyone who writes or wrote anything negative about the Church, his habitual us of the term "anti-Mormon", and his inability to address the real issue in relation to Smith family employment may prop a few already strong testimonies but it continues to hurt those who are honestly trying to work through real versus varnished history.

I think this is a criticism FOR the church not against it. We need to be honest not redirect or whitewash every criticism.

Hellooo
Salt Lake City, UT

Thanks Mr. Peterson. It is always nice to have a reconfirmation of the character of the family, and how it was like many others of the time-hard working. The point of your article is to support this truth from objective historical records, and it accomplishes purpose well. Sorry, to some reading the article, apparently, wanted it to address other issues. Maye another article for another time.

windsor
City, Ut

"We never knew we were bad folks until...."

Sadly, many LDS members today could fill in this sentence.

Like Peter Vidmar...until I exercised my right as an American to believe in, and contribute money to a cause which I supported.

Brahmabull
sandy, ut

Idaho - you make very good points. Unfortunately, this practice of whitewashing or simply changing the church's history started way back with Joseph Smith. That practice goes on to this very day. They delete, edit, revise, add, whatever they want to make a certain part of history look more faith promoting. They also take out certain things that may make members question. Doing this undermines the whole church in my opinion. Members are going to find out about the less than faith promoting parts one way or another. So there is no reason to do so. Why not just lay it out there and say what really happened and this was a mistake or that was wrong? If you are honest it benefits you in the long run.

Helloooo - Yes people do discuss issues related or not related to the article. Hence the name discussion board. If you don't like it then why read the comments?

Iggle
Salt Lake City, UT

Some good points here. Here's my point: I didn't join the LDS Church because of faith-promoting history stories. I joined because I believe I received an answer to a prayer that it was where God wanted me to be. I joined because I believe that if there is a God (and I believe there is, and I feel he led me to the gospel and answered my prayer), then his plan for his children is the one taught in the LDS Church.

And no, I'm not one of those people who thinks that those who don't receive an answer to similar prayers have some kind of moral deficiency. That's not my call to make, because I know I have moral deficiencies of my own.

I agree with Brahmabull. There's no reason to whitewash history. History shouldn't make or break one's church membership. But when we whitewash things, we lend a false sense of legitimacy to the idea that it should. It sends the wrong message all around.

Everybody Wang Chung Tonight
Riverton, Utah

Idaho Coug wrote:

"Daniel Peterson knows this. But his attempt to denegrade anyone who writes or wrote anything negative about the Church, his habitual us of the term "anti-Mormon", and his inability to address the real issue in relation to Smith family employment may prop a few already strong testimonies but it continues to hurt those who are honestly trying to work through real versus varnished history."

I agree with you 100%. I have recently had a fairly lengthy discussion with Mr. Peterson about this exact thing over at Mormondiscussions dot com.

I think Mr. Peterson realizes that he can do a much more professional and civil job in responding to people who he perceives as critics of the Church.

Mormoncowboy
Provo, Ut

Yes Brahmabull is correct - It's rather curious that Peterson would fail to include the only business practice for which the documentation is iron clad? Joseph Smith could see ghosts, and people would pay him lot's of money to go on treasure hunting expeditions. Unfortunately, he always came up short because of those greedy ghosts - or...at least that's what Joseph would say.

Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

I recognize that my comment did not relate directly to the content of the article. But it struck a nerve that I have been struggling with for a long time - the often huge differences between real and correlated LDS history. And the problem is often perpetuated by apologist writings as Brahmabull expressed.

Again, the real (and largely only) criticisms today about Smith Family employment is around the practice of using JS's stone to be paid to hunt for lost treasure. This is NOT anti. It is fact and relevant fact given JS's extensive use of that same (or similar) stone(s) as a Prophet.

Of course they were very hard workers. JS did odd jobs, ran a hotel, lead a militia in MS, ran for President, and traveled extensively at a time when travel was very difficult - all while serving as Prophet, Mayor and General. Heck yes he was a hard worker.

But my point is that his or his families work ethic is NOT the point of critics. It is so rare for certain things to just be laid out there and addressed. We are bleeding members who eventually find out on their own.

Ron11
Venice, California

This article was well written and truthful about the Smith family's work ethic, so I am unsure why the commentator-protestors are crying whitewashing when all the article is talking about is this one aspect of the Smith family, which is how they work. This is a good thing, too, because the article on Joseph Smith found on the Wikipedia servers loves to overuse the words treasure hunter over and over again couched in the context of the time Joseph Smith was given the golden plates/scriptures (The real treasure was the information/translation, not the value of the gold[and Joseph Smith admitted he was tempted because of his family's poverty] to insinuate that he was a backwater, lazy, covetous-of-gold, treasure hunter, fascinated and unintelligent with his use of "magic," when Joseph himself admitted that his digging experiences garnered no reward (while his family's hard work did).

Not surprised; fulfills prophecy from Moroni that his name would be both good and evil spoken of.

Good article which I intend to reference and use for my future studies/work.

Thank you.

whistle219
princeton, IN

Which Joseph Smith are we talking about? The one that is part of a large family or the one whom was an only child? Joseph Smith was a common name at that time.

Cats
Somewhere in Time, UT

If the affidavits are prevarications of some of the facts (the work ethic of the Smiths, for example) then the entire contents of the affidavits are discredited. In fact, nearly all these early accounts have been thoroughly discredited for many, many years.

Hurlbut was an embittered man who had an agenda. Also, Joseph was employed by a man who was seeking treasure. After a time, Joseph convinced his employer to stop because it was a complete waste. That's all there is to that story.

It's always sad to see people who have lost their testimonies clinging to these old discredited stories as a way to convince and comfort themselves. This doesn't get them anywhere, but they keep on trying.

The Gospel is true. I know that based on applying its principles to my own life. But, the main reason I know it is because of PERSONAL REVELATION FROM GOD and I am accountable for it.

Brahmabull
sandy, ut

IggIe - I completely agree with you on multiple points, and also admire your honesty regarding history. See my problem is that most members will deny any wrongdoing of the church and deny that history is edited/changed. I can't relate to people who won't look at the facts. So clearly you have a strong enough testimony to accept that fact and still hold to your faith, and I really do admire that. I am not sure I can do the same. While the church's history isn't everything, it sure doesn't help ones (at least mine) testimony. It hurts my overall view of the church, though I continue to go to church and try to be a better person. Again, in no way do I think that the church is a bad organization per se. I think when difficult issues are discussed people automatically cry ANTI-MORMON. Well it is simply not the case. My research is mostly pulled from LDS books, documents, and articles. So it can't be anti if I am using actual LDS materials and I still go to church. Just a topic that you can't discuss in elders quorum.

Andy
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Idaho Coug - Do the Hurlbut-Howe affidavits address the use of the seer stone to treasure hunt? If not then I'm not sure why you lodge your complaint here. It should go in the suggestion box.

whistle219 - you are very good if you can identify the correct Joseph Smith, from all the Joseph Smiths in American history based solely on whether he was an only child or part of a large family.

Gentile
brookings, SD

I hate to admit this, but I never thought about this topic until this discussion blog. I can't explain why, but the type of work, etc., just never crossed my mind.
Humph.

Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

Cats said, "Also, Joseph was employed by a man who was seeking treasure. After a time, Joseph convinced his employer to stop because it was a complete waste. That's all there is to that story."

My goodness Cats. Either you have a very limited understanding of at least this part of LDS history or you are comfortable repeating an absolutely incorrect, varnished, faith-promoting version even though you know it is not accurate. I truly understand why we have done that almost since the beginning of our LDS history. But the reality in today's world of instantly accessible information is that it can be very damaging to lifelong members and investigators alike.

The interesting reality is that the real version can actually BE faith promoting. But the habitual practice of repeating an incorrect version simply does more harm (even years down the road) than good.

The problem simply becomes this - if the church is willing to be dishonest (even if presumably for positive reasons) about X and Y, then how can I be sure they are being honest about A and B. It is a slippery slope created not by doubt but by inaccurate church curriculum.

Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

Andy asked - "Do the Hurlbut-Howe affidavits address the use of the seer stone to treasure hunt? If not then I'm not sure why you lodge your complaint here. It should go in the suggestion box."

The answer is YES, it is a primary part of the affidavits. I acknowledge that they also accuse the Smiths (particularly early before JS became a Prophet) of being lazy. An accusation that I have stated I wholeheartedly disagree with.

My point is that this is not at all, in my experience, a relevant criticism today. If the article was simply meant to address a criticism used at the very beginning of the Church then that is fine and accurate. But today, literally all criticism regarding Smith family employment rests on the seer stone. I have never heard modern criticism trying to diminish JS because he and his family were lazy.

Therefore, it felt like a way of appearing to answer relevant criticisms when in reality it addressed outdated criticisms and did not address (felt like sidestepping) the criticism that is actually relevant and repeated today.

Peterson very well may not have intended this. But it falls into an apologetic pattern.

Brahmabull
sandy, ut

Idaho - I could not have put it better myself. Cats is proving exactly what I was saying - the average member either repeats things they have heard othes say without confirming the facts themselves, or they are simply ignoring facts that they already know. Either way it is sad that people can't see the facts. They accept these stories from martin harris, david whitmer, oliver cowdery, etc. but automatically dismiss anybody else's testimony from that time period as false. In essence they say that anybody who says anything against the church is lying. That simply doesn't make sense from a logical standpoint. They will even dismiss statements made later by Harris, Whitmer, Cowdery which go against earlier statements made - very confusing how they can believe a testimony on one thing and dismiss a different testimony later on.

John Pack Lambert of Michigan
Ypsilanti, MI

I am glad that Brother Peterson wrote this article. It is sad that some people think that minor side lights need to be given full attention and the real work and effort and sweet and toil need to be ignored.

Mormoncowboy
Provo, Ut

"I am glad that Brother Peterson wrote this article. It is sad that some people think that minor side lights need to be given full attention and the real work and effort and sweet and toil need to be ignored."

Huh?

Treasure seeking is important for one simple reason. Many an apologist, when they are willing to address it, will try and break Joseph Smith's activities into two categories or timelines. Those things he did before "translating" The Book of Mormon, and those things he did afterwards. They dismiss his treasure seeking activities as the "foibles of youth", and an outgrowth of a superstitious age. What they ignore is the overlap that key elements play in both time periods. The most important of which is the seer stone. It is a documented fact, from David Whitmer, Martin Harris, to Lucy Mack, etc, that at least (and this is concession I am making only for civility sake) a major portion of the BoM was translated using that same stone. If you dismiss gold-digging as superstition, you ought to doubt the BoM. If you believe the BoM, you most certainly have to take treasure seeking seriously. I'm a doubter!!

Serenity
Manti, UT

Things were different back in Joseph Smiths day. People with the loudest voices and the ones who had the strongest purpose were heard the most. Television and radio were long into the future so the vocality of the populace was the news. If someone said something and was vocal enough about it, no matter if right or wrong, it became fact.

Perhaps thats why the Smith family had so many people who did not like them. Their young son had the unmitigated gall to say that he had seen God. Naturally they would find fault, real or otherwise to denigrate that family. Perhaps they thought that they were the ones who should have seen God, and so, Joseph was made a liar because he was just not good enough neither was his family.

There are no perfect people, but God qualifies them to serve His purpose.

The Church should not try to clean up Church history. That is one of the main things that ex-Mormons use against us. Let the Gospel stand on its own. It will be victorious because it is from God, brought forth by imperfect people. God will never let it fail.

  • 1:21 p.m. May 26, 2011
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