Thursday, June 30, 2011

More about castration

In order to elaborate further on the castrations I mentioned in my Father's Day post, the instance I referred to was what happened to Thomas Lewis as told by John D. Lee:

"I knew of many men being killed in Nauvoo... and I know of many a man who was quietly put out of the way by the orders of Joseph and his Apostles while the Church was there." (Confessions of John D. Lee, Photo-reprint of 1877 edition, page 284)

Lee also revealed another very cruel practice which took place both in Nauvoo, Illinois, and in early Utah:

"In Utah it has been the custom with the Priesthood to make eunuchs of such men as were obnoxious to the leaders. This was done for a double purpose: first, it gave a perfect revenge, and next, it left the poor victim a living example to others of the dangers of disobeying counsel and not living as ordered by the Priesthood.

"In Nauvoo it was the orders from Joseph Smith and his apostles to beat, wound and castrate all Gentiles that the police could take in the act of entering or leaving a Mormon household under circumstances that led to the belief that they had been there for immoral purposes.... In Utah it was the favorite revenge of old, worn-out members of the Priesthood, who wanted young women sealed to them, and found that the girl preferred some handsome young man. The old priests generally got the girls, and many a young man was unsexed for refusing to give up his sweetheart at the request of an old and failing, but still sensual apostle or member of the Priesthood. As an illustration... Warren Snow was Bishop of the Church at Manti, San Pete County, Utah. He had several wives, but there was a fair, buxom young woman in the town that Snow wanted for a wife.... She thanked him for the honor offered, but told him she was then engaged to a young man, a member of the Church, and consequently could not marry the old priest.... He told her it was the will of God that she should marry him, and she must do so; that the young man could be got rid of, sent on a mission or dealt with in some way... that, in fact, a promise made to the young man was not binding, when she was informed that it was contrary to the wishes of the authorities.

"The girl continued obstinate.... the authorities called on the young man and directed him to give up the young woman. This he steadfastly refused to do.... He remained true to his intended, and said he would die before he would surrender his intended wife to the embraces of another.... The young man was ordered to go on a mission to some distant locality... But the mission was refused...

"It was then determined that the rebellious young man must be forced by harsh treatment to respect the advice and orders of the Priesthood. His fate was left to Bishop Snow for his decision. He decided that the young man should be castrated; Snow saying, 'When that is done, he will not be liable to want the girl badly, and she will listen to reason when she knows that her lover is no longer a man.'

"It was then decided to call a meeting of the people who lived true to counsel, which was held in the school-house in Manti... The young man was there, and was again requested, ordered and threatened, to get him to surrender the young woman to Snow, but true to his plighted troth, he refused to consent to give up the girl. The lights were then put out. An attack was made on the young man. He was severely beaten, and then tied with his back down on a bench, when Bishop Snow took a bowie-knife, and performed the operation in a most brutal manner, and then took the portion severed from his victim and hung it up in the school-house on a nail, so that it could be seen by all who visited the house afterwards.

"The party then left the young man weltering in his blood, and in a lifeless condition. During the night he succeeded in releasing himself from his confinement, and dragged himself to some hay-stacks, where he lay until the next day, when he was discovered by his friends. The young man regained his health, but has been an idiot or quite lunatic ever since....

"After this outrage old Bishop Snow took occasion to getup a meeting... When all had assembled, the old man talked to the people about their duty to the Church, and their duty to obey counsel, and the dangers of refusal, and then publicly called attention to the mangled parts of the young man, that had been severed from his person, and stated that the deed had been done to teach the people that the counsel of the Priesthood must be obeyed. To make a long story short, I will say, the young woman was soon after forced into being sealed to Bishop Snow.

"Brigham Young... did nothing against Snow. He left him in charge as Bishop at Manti, and ordered the matter to be hushed up."

D. Michael Quinn elaborated on Brigham's reaction: "In the midsummer of 1857 Brigham Young also expressed approval for an LDS bishop who had castrated a man. In May 1857 Bishop Warren S. Snow's counselor wrote that twenty-four-year-old Thomas Lewis 'has now gone crazy' after being castrated by Bishop Snow for an undisclosed sex crime. When informed of Snow's action, Young said: 'I feel to sustain him...' In July Brigham Young wrote a reassuring letter to the bishop about this castration: 'Just let the matter drop, and say no more about it,' the LDS president advised, 'and it will soon die away among the people.' " (The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, pages 250-251)

(Please note: When using Firefox web browser, if you type a comment without logging in first, your comment may disappear when attempting to submit. To avoid this, login first and then type comment or always copy comment before attempting to submit.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


This post has been deleted because it has been deemed offensive to some readers. Please note, it may have contained truths that can be verified by multiple sources, but because of the offensive nature of the facts it has been decided that some readers are simply not mature enough to be able to encounter some of these things and be able to maintain their existing beliefs. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Father's Day

Please forgive me, but I just need to vent. I went to church yesterday and got quite irritated. I went to church to watch my children perform a song for Father's Day. I figured it was better that they have a dad to smile at in the congregation while singing a song to fathers. I was also pleased that the song was simple and just about the love that children have for their fathers instead of about the restoration or following the profit or something else designed to be preachy. It is just too bad that I had to endure so much other internal conflict to go along with it.

It started off when I contemplated the attire of many of the youth and youth leaders in the ward. Many were wearing their home-made garb intended to depict clothing worn by early LDS pioneers. They wore these clothes because this week they were going on their "trek" to simulate part of the westward migration of the saints. It got me to wondering how accurate the leaders wanted to be in their replication of the circumstances experienced by the LDS pioneers. They are dressing like the pioneers did, planning to hike long distances on foot like the pioneers did and I'm sure they'll engage in many other activities that are designed to be the same as what the pioneers experienced. I assume the intention is to illustrate, and give a sampling of, some of the hardships experienced by those who gave so much to come to Utah. But, I got to thinking, why stop there? Why not go all out and give the youth a solid taste of exactly what the pioneers experienced?

No, I'm not talking about all the death and disease and other literal physical hardship (although, I'm sure they attempt to simulate this to some extent by "pretending" that people have died at some point - but of this I am not 100% certain), I'm talking about the doctrinal hardship. Why not tell the young women that their camp leader has several of them as his plural wives? Why not tell the designated single young women that they should be preparing to be possibly selected as the bishop's next plural wife? Why not replicate the hardship these young women experienced of having to be coerced into marrying an old man, who happens to be in authority, when they may fancy a young man of their own age? It saddens me to hear about the sacrifice that was expected of so many young woman in that time period to have to give up being with a young man they may have been in love with because they were pressured by their parents or leaders to marry an older man as his polygamous wife. The story of Zina D. Huntington is especially poignant. Even though she was married to Henry Jacobs, she was asked to become Joseph Smith's plural wife. Then, after Joseph's death, Zina was told by Brigham Young that as Joseph's former plural wife, she was to become his. It is just so incredible to think about what faith drove these people to be willing to sacrifice. If you want to teach the youth about sacrifice, why not tell them the story of Zina Huntington. Here's a link to her story since you won't find it in any of the correlated materials provided by the church.

In addition, for those leaders who want to give the full sense of the experience of early members of the church, they should also castrate one of the young men who is in love with a young woman that one of the leaders desires to marry as his plural wife. This would allow the youth to get a full picture of what life was like in those early days of the church. This was a time when loyalty to the church hierarchy was valued high above personal authority. This scenario is described in several different sources, but LDS historian D. Michael Quinn gives an account of this happening on Pages 250-251 of his book entitled, "The Mormon Hierarchy, Extensions of Power". Again, this is an event that the details of which cannot be found anywhere in correlated LDS manuals covering early LDS church history. If people want to give as "full" an experience as possible of representing what things were like for LDS pioneers, I think leaving these kinds of things out of the experience really does a disservice to the youth wanting to know what life was "really like" back then.

Anyway, realizing that telling one of the young women, dressed like a pioneer sitting on a pew near me, to remember that - while 'trekking' - she should be mentally preparing to become one of the bearded leaders' plural wife would probably have not gone over very well, I turned my attention to the first speaker.

This talk was a doozy for me. The speaker started out saying that she was thinking about the meaning of the words faith and testimony. She said that a testimony was a statement of belief - as in the witness of a person with first hand knowledge who offers testimony at a trial in a court of law. I didn't have any problem with that, but I did have a problem with the twisting of the definition into the traditional LDS meaning as being a statement of knowledge of absolute truth. Can anyone know absolute truth, really? We can have an idea of what is true in our life, but as far as being able to say what is true for can anyone know that in an absolute manner? She went on to say that she struggled with her testimony because she went to a liberal college where she heard much about liberal philosophy which served to discount, or eliminate the need for, religion. Especially her LDS religion. She said it was tempting to buy into their rhetoric but that she turned to her faith in order to gain her own testimony. I wondered what kinds of things she disagreed with about what her professors were saying, but she did not elaborate.

Then she went on mention how she was aware of many lost young people who had left their beliefs. Even though she did not specifically say they were unhappy because of their "lack of faith", the message was pretty clear that if they had maintained their faith in the church they would be much happier.

One thing I realized at this point was that people in the church tend to do a lot of generalizing about the state that others (outside the church) find themselves in and it is usually assumed that they are just so unhappy without the teachings of the church in their life. They do this without any specific examples or evidence and everyone just accepts the reference without questioning. One time, I was having a Facebook conversation with my former bishop about this idea. I said I was struggling with the continued inference that those outside the church are just not as happy as those inside the church. Especially when faced with statements made by those who have left the church that they are actually happier outside the church than they ever were in it. The only way for faithful LDS to reconcile this discrepancy is to come to one conclusion; they are either lying or they are mistaken. It is impossible for tbm's to actually accept that there may be people outside the church who are happier without it. This kind of dissonance is just amazing to me.

In order for someone to maintain continuity of belief in the LDS paradigm, they must accuse everyone outside the church - who claims to have found happiness - that they are mistaken because they just don't know what true happiness is yet or they are simply lying! How brash and presumptuous can it get? Let's listen further to what the speaker had to say.

She then went on to say that we can lose our testimony with the passage of time and lack of belief. She used the example of Laman and Lemuel in the Book of Mormon having seen angels on multiple occasions and yet continued denial of what they had seen. Frankly, this was so irritating to me. I really despise the box that non-believers must be placed in to continue justification of this belief that one person's version of wickedness never was happiness. Because this account is contained in the Book of Mormon it is presumed to be true. However, once I actually questioned the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, I was able to reject such blindly accusatory ideas. When I am able to say that maybe the story of Laman and Lemuel is just made up, I can then better acknowledge my experience that says if someone really sees an angel sent from the presence of God that they will have a hard time ever questioning the existence of God ever again. Unless, of course, the experience occurs in a semi-lucid or dream state which doesn't represent cold hard reality, (but, I guess to be fair, the Book of Mormon is not clear on this point) then maybe it would be easier to explain their behavior post-vision.

I just have such a hard time with this dichotomy that is continually setup and reinforced throughout the Book of Mormon. This idea that people are either all good (righteous) or all bad (wicked) is kind of a juvenile concept. The real world finds us all falling somewhere in between. I can't go around in the world today claiming that large groups of the population need to repent of their wicked ways or they are going to soon perish. Even the LDS general authorities don't engage in such polarizing rhetoric. They speak of absolutes in general terms without specifically referring to any specific group of people anywhere. The members are left feeling like they have had their polarizing view of the world vindicated while the brethren haven't specifically condemned any particular group of society. It is a total win-win until a member (like myself) starts to wonder where all this unhappiness is in the world that the scriptures would seem to testify of.

Once I came to understand that there is such a thing as polarizing rhetoric, I began to see how that might actually be a big part of the problem. It wasn't that the world was all good and all bad, it was the framing of my perception of the world in that way that was causing the problem for me. Once I let go of the devotion to the rhetoric, I was able to see the world in a whole new light and come to appreciate all the diversity in the beautiful world we find in people all around us. Understanding that I may not actually have all the truth and all the answers allowed me to appreciate the contributions of others and actually recognize that they may have merit.

I guess this understanding that I have gained, and perceived to be challenged, is what I had such a hard time with.

I had many more issues with this talk, but I think what really got to me the most is what I have outlined above. End rant.

(Please note: When using Firefox web browser, if you type a comment without logging in first, your comment may disappear when attempting to submit. To avoid this, login first and then type comment or always copy comment before attempting to submit.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book of Mormon Musical

So I read an article on Mormon Times called "Is the 'Book of Mormon' musical accurate satire?" found here. Never mind the irony in the title of the article, I'll discuss that further in a minute. The article starts out by quoting a former missionary, who has since left the church, who says that his children (who he has kept information about his past life growing up in the church a secret from) learned more from the Book of Mormon musical about the LDS church than he has ever told them. It uses this introduction to go into answering the question of how accurate the musical is. As if they think that if the musical is more sympathetic to the teachings of the church it would be a better missionary tool, apparently.

I am continually amazed at how people in the church are capable of either ignoring, or missing, the point of the musical or attempting to downplay its effect or accuracy. I wonder why members of the church have such a hard time looking at the Book of Mormon musical in a positive light and a way that says that "any exposure is good exposure"? Instead it seems that members of the church want to start out ignoring that the play is indeed out there and, if they acknowledge it and decide to actually discuss it, they immediately move to some attempt to discredit it. Needless to say, this article is definitely in the camp of trying to point out inaccuracies in the play - which I would say is another attempt to discredit it. The article does point out that the play is meant to be satire, which means that you can expect that the purpose of the play is to entertain and not to make sure that all the facts are conveyed in as accurate a way as possible. That is more than can be said for this article.

The definition of satire is; "The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues." (Like, say, religion for example) Regardless of this point, the article then attempts to hold the play up as being full of inconsistencies and untruths. However, this should not even be newsworthy because you would expect satire to be full of exaggeration or ridicule and not attempt to hold it out as something that is full of inaccuracies. This is akin to pointing out that a political cartoon depicting a democrat as a donkey is not accurate because there are no donkeys that have ever registered to vote as a democrat! Nevertheless, after pointing out that the play is intended to be satire, the article then goes on to try to point out all of its inaccuracies.

The article quotes critics of the play who say that "The Book of Mormon" musical is nothing to worry about because; it is a New York thing, made by media elites for people who go to Broadway musicals. I wonder who these people are exactly that go to Broadway musicals? Is there a line we draw somewhere among the population between those who enjoy Broadway musicals and those who don't? I guess as long as we can identify a segment of the population to fit into a certain category that makes us feel better about ourselves? The funny thing is, if you were to ask anybody around the country if they would go see a Broadway musical if it were given to them free of charge or all expenses paid, how many would decline that offer? I dare say the number is extremely small. Apparently, the critic quoted believes that the number of people who would decline such an offer would be very large. This kind of reference to social segregation, I believe, is a very large contributing factor to the problem of creating social minorities. This is very unfortunate, indeed.

The article goes on to quote Michael Otterson, an LDS church spokesperson who wrote a piece in the Washington Post, who says that when used for entertainment purposes, it is fine but the danger is when people take the content too seriously. Apparently, the author of the Mormon Times article can't see that they are treading on this dangerous ground of taking the content too seriously. Nevertheless, the author treads on.

The article accuses the play of "misrepresenting Joseph Smith's history, distorting Mormon epistemology and misconstruing the church's teachings about the afterlife." The author says that having the angel Moroni tell Joseph not to show the plates to anyone is inaccurate. Even though Joseph Smith's own history in the Pearl of Great Price says in verse 42, "Again, he told me, that when I got those plates of which he had spoken—for the time that they should be obtained was not yet fulfilled—I should not show them to any person; neither the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim; only to those to whom I should be commanded to show them; if I did I should be destroyed..." Being told that you will be destroyed is apparently a favorite way of getting Joseph to do stuff. There are 36 references to people being destroyed by God in the Doctrine and Covenants and 10 in the Pearl of Great Price.

Even though the article goes on to point out that 11 witnesses testified that they saw the plates, what the article neglects to mention, is that several of the witnesses later complained because they felt the testimony being printed did not accurately reflect their experience with what happened. The article also conveniently omits that at least two of the witnesses (Martin Harris and David Whitmer) later said that the visitation was a purely spiritual "vision" and was not a real life experience. The author also does not mention that these witnesses were later called liars, counterfeiters, thieves, etc. by Joseph Smith himself. (A summary of issues with the witnesses to the gold plates can be found here.) This is just one more example of a limited amount of information being conveyed to an LDS audience, without disclosing anything controversial that might possibly undermine the official LDS history narrative.

The article gives an example of incorrect Mormon theology by saying that a missionary in the play sings about obtaining his own planet in the hereafter. Amazingly, the article admits that this particular teaching can be found in the theology but apparently is taken out of context. I would be very interested to know in what context being able to be in control of your own planet would not be considered a peculiar teaching that some might find entertaining? The problem is, nowadays the church leadership is silent on these sorts of teachings whereas, in the past, these kinds of teachings (that are speculative in nature) were rampant. I kind of miss those days, if for no other reason, for the sheer entertainment value. Maybe if the church would go back to saying this kind of stuff on a regular basis, people would show up in greater numbers to general conference to see what those wacky leaders will say this time. I think this may have been a possible reason for devotion in those early days of the church. Speculation is fun. It arouses our imaginations about the possibilities for what lies ahead. The problem is, we live in a world where not too much about our universe is unknown. The unknown in the universe is what fostered the imaginative teachings and allowed leaders to pronounce with certainty what we would, today, label as kooky and largely unsupportable (the famous teaching of Brigham Young about Quakers living on the moon is what comes to mind here).

The article quotes New York Times columnist David Brooks, who actually says something to this affect. He said, "The only problem with 'The Book of Mormon' (musical), is that its theme is not quite true. Vague, uplifting, nondoctrinal religiosity doesn't actually last. The religions that grow, succor and motivate people to perform heroic acts of service are usually theologically rigorous, arduous in practice and definite in their convictions about what is True and False." It seems that creative and imaginative doctrines that are rigorously held to be true by its adherents are what motivate us to be more selfless and caring for others. Based on that argument, it sounds like the LDS church may not last if it continues to be vague and obscure, even though it may be considered uplifting, in the specifics of its doctrines and teachings. The point about it being not quite true, while I think very poignant because the same could be said of the LDS church, is lost on many who believe everything the church says about its history without bothering to question or examine it.

While trying to point out how the play continues to be inaccurate by depicting a dream that a missionary has about a hell of fire and brimstone, the author goes on to say that such a perception of LDS theology is not supported. The author should try reading LDS scripture at some point. The Book of Mormon itself has 9 references to a "lake of fire and brimstone" while speaking of the hereafter and the Doctrine and Covenants has 2 references. How is a believer in the Book of Mormon supposed to have any other view of what happens to the disobedient in the hereafter? Especially when the Book of Mormon makes no mention at all of the "multi-tiered" degrees of heaven the author is trying to point out is the correct version of LDS belief about the afterlife. Where exactly, then, do the references to the lake of fire and brimstone fit into LDS theology, if not in a young person's dream that is experienced after reading and pondering the teachings in the Book of Mormon?

The author then goes on to tell us how the musical is also racist in its references to, and portrayal of, the people in Uganda. Depicting them as "angry, aggressive, sexually charged, physically ill, naive and vulgar", the author tries to point out that this is racist and not satire. I hate to tell you this, but I see the people of Uganda in the play as being representative of people the world over who happen to fall into those categories. I don't think the point of the play is to emphasize that these people in this specific country have a monopoly on all of those characteristics or problems. I agree the play is probably over generalizing to some degree in its depiction of a specific group of people, in a specific country. However, it is not about the people of Uganda specifically. It is about the contrast between two worlds. The world that the LDS live in where all of these things are rare or cured because of a belief in God and a world where God has apparently forsaken a people. A world that is lawless and doesn't concern itself with what is appropriate according to one set of beliefs. Rather, the beliefs are different because of a different set of circumstances. I don't think the point is about the people of Uganda and what they believe about God, but it is about the contrast between those that believe God can, or will, solve all their problems and those that don't. This contrast is especially pronounced in our own backyard when looking at the issue of homosexuality or the role of women.

I had to laugh when the article pointed out that female genital mutilation is against the law in Uganda. Um, smoking crack cocaine is illegal in this country, so that must mean that it never happens here too. I think exceeding the speed limit is against the law too, but I rarely see people actually go the speed limit on highways. I must just be mistaken. Hello! If people pass a law regarding some practice, it must mean there is some concern about it happening too much. A law on the books regarding female genital mutilation in Uganda is probably a sign that it either has been, or is, an issue of such significance that it needed to be outlawed to attempt to stem the practice. How silly can we be?

As a sort of frosting on the cake, I was also amused by the fact that this article, like so many other controversial articles published by LDS church owned media, do not allow comments to be made (or shown) in response to the article. This speaks volumes about how confident they are that their opinions represent the overwhelming majority of the opinions of the readers of the article - Not! Why not allow comments? Anyway, this is something I see consistently found in organizations that cannot withstand scrutiny of their opinions. Since I couldn't leave a comment on the article directly, I have written a blog piece to express my reactions to it. At least I can rest confident that I have written with integrity and not attempted to point out the inaccuracies of a satirical play in an attempt to discredit it in the mind of my readers. If you are one of "those people" that like Broadway plays, I think it would be very enjoyable.

By the way, I haven't seen the play yet, but I have listened to the soundtrack and found it extremely entertaining because of its accuracy in depicting the LDS lifestyle and mindset. I especially liked the song entitled, "You and Me (but mostly me)". That one really resonated with me since that seemed to be the mindset on my mission. Love it!

Update: I guess I need to access the article via Deseret News to be able to make comments. That one can be found here.

(Please note: When using Firefox web browser, if you type a comment without logging in first, your comment may disappear when attempting to submit. To avoid this, login first and then type comment or always copy comment before attempting to submit.)

Friday, June 3, 2011


Is it just me, or is everyone a little nervous and sad that the rapture didn't happen? All the publicity certainly got out and I honestly think on some level people were really looking forward to it. I know I was. But, now that the appointed time has come and gone (at least according to a single man's prediction), LDS seem to be reminding themselves (and others) that nobody knows when the second coming of Jesus will really happen (and patting themselves on the back about being aware of the verse in the bible that says it). I have heard some faithful LDS recently say that they don't think it will happen in their lifetimes. I remember a bishop telling me and my wife in an interview who said that he didn't believe he would see the second coming of the Savior in his lifetime but that we would most definitely see it happen in our lifetimes.

I kind of think that this is what just about every passing generation says to the up and coming one, as a sort of a carrot that is dangled in front of them (or reminder that the stick of God's judgment is very real), and as a reminder about the need to do good, because, after all, the 2nd coming is near! It is ALWAYS near for crying out loud! It has been near since the time of Jesus himself. John, one of the original 12 apostles said in the book of Revelations Chapter 22, verses 12 & 22, "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." and "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

LDS living is emphasizing a talk by Dallin H. Oaks that is nice enough to point out that a lot of stuff has to happen before the 2nd coming occurs. It also seems to be a reminder that the church leadership has recently reminded all of us that nobody knows when the 2nd coming will happen. However, in the video that was put together and posted by LDS church news they close with a quote by Joseph Smith reminding everyone that anyone who claims to know the day of the second coming of Jesus is a false teacher. This quote was not found in Dallin H. Oaks original talk (given in the April 2004 General Conference) but seems to have been added for dramatic effect and to shut up anyone from implying that the church may have taught a specific date for the second coming to occur.

However, the interesting thing is Joseph Smith appeared to be pretty preoccupied with this very question. In D&C 130, verses 14-17 Joseph says, "...I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following:

15 Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.

16 I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face.

17 I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time."

This has always been one of those scriptures that I have wondered about. Why, if this is not an attempt to offer some sort of prediction on the matter (after all, it IS the voice of God we assume is the voice of which he is speaking) is it even included in the scriptural canon? Why not just say, "Quit asking! I'm not telling anyone, not even you Joseph!" Instead we get this weird reference to Joseph's age and weird interpretation of what it must have meant. Technically, however, Joseph Smith is attempting to say that Jesus' second coming will not occur prior to him turning 85. Based on the last verse here, Joseph is attempting to tell us it will not occur prior to that time which is, technically, an attempt to predict when the second coming will occur (or not occur until). My simple question is, doesn't this seem to make Joseph Smith a false teacher? I admit that there are plenty of outs here for Joseph on this point, so it is really not that big a deal. But it was a thought I had when I watched the Dallin H. Oaks video put out by the LDS church news on LDS Living.

When I saw that last quote in the video, I also recalled from church history that Joseph Smith might have made a comment in a general conference on the second coming where he was quoted as saying that 56 years should wind up the scene. However, there is some dispute as to the authenticity of this quote, so it would not be fair to attempt to hold this up as a prophecy by Joseph Smith.

In addition, all of this talk about predictions and prophesy does tend to lead to the all important question; When is a prophet speaking as a man and when is he speaking as a prophet? This is a question I have yet to find a sufficient answer to. It seems as though the only time a prophet's words can be relied upon are if it is the CURRENT prophet of the day and ONLY if he speaks the prophecy in an official capacity and ONLY if he precedes it by some variation of "thus saith the Lord" AND if the spirit witnesses to the hearer that the prophecy is true. All these conditions come off to me sounding like excuses, really. It seems like the circumstances have to be just right and the stars all have to align for the prophet to actually make a prophecy. And, if he happens to utter something that might possibly be construed as a prophecy, and it happens to come true, he was thus speaking as a prophet. However, if he is unfortunately incorrect about something...well, then he was just speaking as a man, or it wasn't official or we all interpreted it wrong.

The fascinating thing that goes along with these ideas is that the current leaders of the LDS church say surprisingly little that could actually be construed as any sort of prophecy to begin with. It's not like in the bible where the Lord tells Lot that he is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and then does it. Or even the Book of Mormon where God tells Lehi that Jerusalem will be destroyed and it actually came to pass. I guess the days of specific prophecies like those are done and gone. After all, we have had a seeming surge in natural disasters in the last few years and yet the prophets have failed to warn us specifically about any of them! Where are the prophets that serve to warn us and help us to avoid destruction? Are we just all wicked and not worth saving in those places where the natural disasters occur. Are the people in Joplin Missouri, not righteous enough to have merited a little heads up? I guess God just doesn't love us as much as he loved people in the scriptures.

Oh well, maybe God is just on some sort of vacation and just can't be bothered to tell us anything helpful right now. I really wish he would just return already though, because I think people have had this idea that He would return sometime in their lifetimes for eons now. It would sure be nice if one generation finally got it right for a change.

(Please note: When using Firefox web browser, if you type a comment without logging in first, your comment may disappear when attempting to submit. To avoid this, login first and then type comment or always copy comment before attempting to submit.)