Prior to assuming the mantle of a prophet, the young Joseph Smith developed a reputation as a village seer, one who was sought after to locate stray animals or optimal locations to dig for well water or treasure [1-2]. In October of 1825, Josiah Stowell (1770-1844) visited his son Simpson in Palmyra [3-4] and upon learning of Joseph’s abilities, pressured Joseph to join him on a treasure searching expedition. A short while later a company was formed and a profit-sharing pact was signed on November 1st . Among those mentioned in the pact were Josiah, Calvin, Elijah, and Isaiah Stowell. William R. Hines added that another Stowell, Asa, contributed financially to the venture .
First, a little background: FAIR is an all-volunteer organization. One of the things we do is answer questions submitted through the FAIR web site. These questions are forwarded to a group of about 100 volunteers, any and all of whom are likely to reply to the questioner. We try to answer every question. Some questions generate only one response; others spur several volunteers to reply.
The questions we get run the gamut, from criticisms of LDS beliefs, to questions about Church history, to help dealing with critical family members.
Sometimes we receive comments critical of FAIR itself. Most often these are from non-Mormons. Occasionally, however, they’re from Latter-day Saints who disagree with something published by FAIR.
The San Luis, Colorado Catholic Parish council has decided not to press charges against the LDS missionaries who mocked the Catholic church and allegedly vandalized a holy shrine. According to the Salt Lake Tribune
This recommendation came after Bishop Arthur Tafoya of the Pueblo diocese issued an Easter letter on Tuesday asking Catholics to forgive.
What a moving example of the pure love of Christ, one well worthy of emulation by all people who profess Jesus as their Lord.
PREFACE: I have a confession to make: In an earlier blog, I intentionally used harsher language than normal in describing wrongful acts by erstwhile LDS missionaries. The reasons are threefold:
1. I wanted to emphasize the serious damage done to LDS-Catholic relations, LDS missionary efforts in that area and as a whole, and to the reputation of the Church.
2. I wanted to spur discussion (as I do in my courses–usually successfully). I appear to have succeeded–perhaps in ways that I did not intend. I wanted to take the most rigorous position consistent with Gospel principles, that is the “Hammer them, then take them by the hand and help them back” approach. Obviously, I didn’t entirely succeed here–to miscalculations on my part. I repeat my apologies.
3. I wanted a lead-in for this Gospel-related entry. NoS was quite right in his comment that the essence of the Gospel was repentance and forgiveness. However, as he and others were a little slow on the uptake on my first reason for the harsh language (no doubt because of my miscalculations mentioned in the second reason–I’m sorry for this, NoS!), I didn’t want to give away the game before I had fully developed this entry (I’m sorry for this, too, NoS!).
Now, for the blog entry itself:
When we speak plainly of divorce, abuse, gender identity, contraception, abortion, parental neglect, we are thought by some to be way out of touch or to be uncaring. Some ask if we know how many we hurt when we speak plainly. Do we know of marriages in trouble, of the many who remain single, of single-parent families, of couples unable to have children, of parents with wayward children, or of those confused about gender? Do we know? Do we care?Those who ask have no idea how much we care; you know little of the sleepless nights, of the endless hours of work, of prayer, of study, of travel—all for the happiness and redemption of mankind.Because we do know and because we do care, we must teach the rules of happiness without dilution, apology, or avoidance. That is our calling.I once learned a valuable lesson from a mission Relief Society president. In a conference, she announced some tightening up of procedures. A sister stood up and defiantly said, “Those rules can’t apply to us! You don’t understand us! We are an exception.”
That wonderful Relief Society president replied, “Dear sister, we’d like not to take care of the exception first. We will establish the rule first, and then we’ll see to the exception.”
— Boyd K. Packer, General Conference, April 1994
I sit in a house wanting for housework but housework has a churchy quality about it. It is always there and there is never a time when I can say it’s perfect. A recent event occurred with Sister Beck’s talk entitled “Mothers Who Know”. A firestorm of protest erupted from women who were left out of her picture that seemed to put too much emphasis on housework. I think a few of Sister Beck’s sentences could have been better thought out but as a woman who knows how difficult it is squeeze the thoughts in my head past the tongue in my mouth, I know that with time and experience Sister Beck will parse her few allotted words more precisely. So the issue for me is not about the first brief talk of a new Relief Society President, it is in how we as members react to statements from leaders that leave us wanting.
FINAL UPDATE!!–Great news! The Catholics at the Sangre de Christo Catholic Church have asked law enforcement to drop charges against the erstwhile LDS missionaries. This, I think, concludes this blog. I will soon post a new blog entry detailing where I wanted to go with this in the first place. Many thanks to all those who posted comments–even the pans!
I must confess that I write this post with outrage, disgust, and profound sadness. I am reminded of this cliche’ from Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us!” Earlier, I had posted about how an LDS Ward and Bishop were victimised by a non-LDS Christian preacher. The acts of that non-LDS preacher made me quite sympathetic to those who worship at a Roman Catholic shrine, the Sangre de Cristo Catholic Church, in San Luis, Colorado. Frankly, I am just as upset and horrified by news that LDS missionaries defiled it.
John E. Clark of the New World Archaeological Foundation gave a riveting presentation that explored the origins of Mesoamerican civilization. Arriving late to the Spencer W. Kimball tower meant that I was one of the many that had to sit on the floor in the aisles. I am glad nobody called the fire marshal. From my vantage point I saw several young students diligently taking notes on lap tops, something I wish I had done for this report.
Dr. Clark began his lecture by observing that when the Spanish explorers encountered native Americans, they had no book like Genesis that could explain the origins of the civilization they saw. Clark defined civilization so that the essential component is that the community had a government that had authority to tax and put to death its subjects, usually in that order.
I gave a short talk recently, and it was suggested that I post it up here for others to read. I borrowed some of the information in the talk from a past president’s message I gave in the FAIR Journal. But, I still hope you find it valuable. Here it is:
In Mosiah 7-19 we are told that Ammon and other Nephites from Zarahemla stumbled upon their brethren in Lehi-Nephi. We are told that the Lehi-Nephite decline started when King Noah raised income taxes from 10% to 20%, and culminated in their subjection to the Lamanites, who taxed them at a rate of 50%. Modern readers may wonder at this; why would the Nephites feel enslaved when many “free” nations nowadays have had much higher tax rates? (The USA had rates as high as 91%, and when Ronald Reagan won the US presidency in 1980, the top tax rate was 70%.) The “supply side” school of economic thought may provide an answer.
Walker Lewis is a key figure in early Mormon history as one of the few African-Americans that had the Melchizedek priesthood bestowed upon him. Before the restrictive priesthood policy tightened, Brigham Young singled out Lewis as “one of the best Elders.” Continue reading