Joseph Smith, Superstar

When I was growing up, I was taught to revere Joseph Smith, who was so good, so nearly perfect, that he had reached mythic proportions. We sang “Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah,” and we meant it. He wasn’t just a man; he was a demigod (who even “mingl[ed] with Gods”) with no apparent human failings or flaws. People who never knew the man wept openly when speaking of his prophetic calling, his sacrifices, and especially his martyrdom in a lowly jail cell, his blood “shed by assassins.” In my youthful innocence, he had lost all trace of the human and had assumed the form of some half-Superman, half-Jesus personage. He was humble, pious, courageous, a hard worker, and the strongest athlete in town (we all heard stories of his skills at “stick pulling” and wrestling). He was no mere mortal.

No, that’s not right. I knew he was just a man, with ordinary human failings and weaknesses. I just never knew what those failings were. He himself said, “I was left to all kinds of temptations; and, mingling with all kinds of society, I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God.” Teenaged boys get into all kinds of trouble, and many have speculated about Joseph’s youthful indiscretions, but Joseph tells us, “In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company.” So, I was left to suppose that he was free of any real flaws other than a youthful tendency to be too jovial (I thought that I could die happy if my only flaw were joviality).

Of course, discovering the reality of Joseph Smith the man was more than a little jarring, given his legendary status in my mind. There was a huge disconnect between Olympian Joseph and the man who lived and breathed in the nineteenth century, and mortal Joseph was, in all honesty, both a disappointment and a relief. I wanted him to be that demigod of my childhood, but then I was glad to see that God might work through a flawed individual who in many ways wasn’t all that different from me. Wilford Woodruff once said that he was glad he had seen Joseph’s flaws and failings because if God could use a flawed man to do such a great work, there was hope for Wilford Woodruff. Maybe there was hope for me, too.

Where did my unrealistic view of Joseph Smith come from? I’m assured by apologists that the church does not glorify Joseph in any way or downplay any of his flaws. I was just being “selective” in what I read and understood about the prophet. Naturally, they tell me, anyone with such a ridiculous and irrational view of the prophet is destined to be disappointed and will probably fall away from the church. I’m Exhibit A in that regard.

Looking back, though, I wonder how unrealistic my view was. The Joseph Smith of the church manuals, conference talks, and seminary classes was this demigod Joseph, the good and humble, wise and athletic. Nonsense, the apologists say. That version of Joseph was a figment of your imagination.

But was it?

Reading some church materials, I realize that the impression I had of Joseph Smith was intentional. Church materials do not attempt to define the man Joseph Smith, but they build up a legend; history becomes hagiography. Let’s look at a couple of examples: the chapter on Joseph Smith from the Presidents of the Church manual and the church’s official web site about Joseph Smith,

Headings in the manual describe Joseph as a “boy of courage and resolve,” “humble,” “prophet, seer, revelator, restorer, witness, and martyr,” and “the great prophet of this dispensation.” Besides his great visions, Joseph’s life was filled with honorable vocations and activities, though he was so much more than other men: “No man or combination of men possessed greater intelligence than he, nor could the combined wisdom and cunning of the age produce an equivalent for what he did.” Throughout the manual, Joseph’s accomplishments are played up, and much is omitted that would give the reader a more balanced and accurate account of his life. An instructive episode in the manual is Joseph’s marriage to Emma Hale, which is described thus:

While Joseph Smith awaited the appointed time to remove the plates and begin translation of the Book of Mormon, he worked for a man named Josiah Stowell. During this employment, Joseph boarded in the home of Mr. Isaac Hale in Harmony, Pennsylvania. “Isaac Hale had a daughter, Emma, a good girl of high mind and devout feelings. This worthy young woman and Joseph formed a mutual attachment, and her father was requested to give his permission to their marriage. Mr. Hale opposed their desire for a time, as he was prosperous while Joseph’s people had lost their property; and it was on the 18th day of January, 1827, the last year of waiting for the plates, before Joseph and Emma could accomplish their desired union. On that day they were married by one Squire [Tarbell], at the residence of that gentleman, in South Bainbridge, in Chenango County, New York. Immediately after the marriage, Joseph left the employ of Mr. [Stowell] and journeyed with his wife to his parental home at Manchester, where during the succeeding summer, he worked to obtain means for his family and his mission. The time was near at hand for the great promise to be fulfilled and for his patience and faithfulness to be rewarded” (George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, Classics in Mormon Literature series [1986], 43).

So much is left out here that is important to understanding the events that happened. Let me just answer a few questions:

1. What was Joseph doing when he worked for Josiah Stowell? You wouldn’t know from the manual account that Joseph had convinced Mr. Stowell that he could find buried treasure by looking into a stone. Joseph was later arrested and charged in this matter, and the following comes from the court record of his trial:

Prisoner [Joseph Smith] brought before Court March 20, 1826. Prisoner examined: says that he came from the town of Palmyra, and had been at the house of Josiah Stowel in Bainbridge most of time since; had small part of time been employed in looking for mines, but the major part had been employed by said Stowel on his farm, and going to school. That he had a certain stone which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were; that he professed to tell in this manner where gold mines were a distance under ground, and had looked for Mr. Stowel several times and had informed him where he could find these treasures, and Mr. Stowel had been engaged in digging for them. That at Palmyra he pretended to tell by looking at this stone where coined money was buried in Pennsylvania, and while at Palmyra had frequently ascertained in that way where lost property was of various kinds; that he had occasionally been in the habit of looking through this stone to find lost property for three years, but of late had pretty much given it up on account of its injuring his health, especially his eyes, making them sore; that he did not solicit business of this kind, and had always rather declined having anything to do with this business.

Josiah Stowel sworn: says that prisoner had been at his house something like five months; had been employed by him to work on farm part of time; that he pretended to have skill of telling where hidden treasures in the earth were by means of looking through a certain stone; that prisoner had looked for him sometimes; once to tell him about money buried in Bend Mountain in Pennsylvania, once for gold on Monument Hill, and once for a salt spring; and that he positively knew that the prisoner could tell, and did possess the art of seeing those valuable treasures through the medium of said stone. (See “The Facts about the 1826 Trial” for a decent summary from an apologetic source.)

It’s not surprising, then, that the manual makes no mention of Joseph’s employment other than that he was employed.

2. Why was Emma’s father so opposed to their getting married? According to the manual, the reason was the Smith family’s poverty relative to the Hales’. But here’s what Isaac Hale had to say about it:

I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr. in November, 1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called “money-diggers;” and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see by means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasure. His appearance at this time, was that of a careless young man – not very well educated, and very saucy and insolent to his father.

Smith, and his father, with several other ‘money-diggers’ boarded at my house while they were employed in digging for a mine that they supposed had been opened and worked by the Spaniards, many years since. Young Smith gave the ‘money-diggers’ great encouragement, at first, but when they had arrived in digging, to near the place where he had stated an immense treasure would be found – he said the enchantment was so powerful that he could not see. They then became discourged, and soon after dispersed. This took place about the 17th of November, 1825; and one of the company gave me his note for $12[.]68 for his board, which is still unpaid.

After these occurrences, young Smith made several visits at my house, and at length asked my consent to his marrying my daughter Emma. This I refused, and gave him my reasons for so doing; some of which were, that he was a stranger, and followed a business that I could not approve; he then left the place.(Affidavit of Isaac Hale, 20 March 1834, Susquehanna Register, and Northern Pennsylvanian 9

Mr. Hale was not so much concerned about Joseph’s poverty but that he was a stranger engaged in a shady business. Most parents would be reluctant to allow their daughter to marry someone engaged in endeavors involving enchantments and magic stones.

3. Why were they married in South Bainbridge, New York, rather than in Emma’s hometown of Harmony, Pennsylvania? The manual doesn’t say. Instead we read that that Isaac Hale opposed the marriage only “for a time,” but eventually they were able to “accomplish their desired union,” implying that he had in the meantime had a change of heart. Again, here’s Mr. Hale on the subject:

Not long after [Joseph’s request to marry Emma had been refused], he returned, and while I was absent from home, carried off my daughter, into the state of New York, where they were married without my approbation or consent. (Hale Affidavit)

In other words, they eloped without Mr. Hale’s consent. No change of heart had happened–quite the contrary. When Joseph returned for Emma’s belongings, Peter Ingersoll, an eyewitness, records what happened:

When we arrived at Mr. Hale’s, in Harmony, Pa. from which place he had taken his wife, a scene presented itself, truly affecting. His father-in-law (Mr. Hale) addressed Joseph, in a flood of tears: ‘You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time in digging for money, pretend to see in a stone, and thus try to deceive people.’

Joseph wept, and acknowledged he could not see in a stone now, nor never could; and that his former pretensions in that respect, were all false. He then promised to give up his old habits of digging for money and looking into stones.(Peter Ingersoll Affidavit, 2 December 1833, in Rodger Anderson, Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reexamined, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1990.)

I’m not writing this as an assault on Joseph’s character but rather as an example of the unrealistic and overglorified version of Joseph Smith we get through church publications.

The manual I’ve been discussing is notable mostly for its omissions, but the church’s web site,, goes well beyond that and ventures into the territory of encomium. Headings on the site include “Teacher of God’s Truth,” “Leading with Love,” “Prisoner for Jesus Christ,” “Friend of Man,” and “Martyr for God.” Dig a little deeper, and we find “Honored and Blest Be His Ever Great Name” and a description of his character as “Gentleness and Meekness and Love Unfeigned.”

In one section titled “A Servant of All,” we learn that “the Prophet refused to place himself above others. Rather, as he humbly said, ‘I love to wait upon the Saints, and be a servant to all, hoping that I may be exalted in the due time of the Lord.’ Bereft of pride, Joseph personified the Lord’s counsel: ‘Whosoever will be great among you, . . . shall be servant of all.'”

This doesn’t sound like the Joseph Smith who said, “I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. … Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him, but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet…. God made Aaron to be the mouth piece for the children of Israel, and He will make me be god to you in His stead, and the Elders to be mouth for me; and if you don’t like it, you must lump it” (Address of the Prophet, 26 May 1844). Nor does it sound like the Joseph Smith who “soundly thrashed” his brother for “insolence” (Bates and Smith, Lost Legacy: The Mormon Office of Presiding Patriarch, Champaign: Illinois UP, 2003), or the Joseph Smith who warned prospective wives not to expose his practice of polygamy or “I will ruin you” (Bennett, History of the Saints, 226).

Similarly, Joseph’s marriage to Emma is described, sans anything but the bare minimum of details, in idealized romantic terms, finishing with this gem: “Joseph and Emma Smith centered their marriage and family in the gospel of Jesus Christ—an example to all.” When I first read that, I wondered if we should all follow Joseph’s example in marrying (and bedding) young girls without Emma’s knowledge or consent.

That Joseph kept his marriages hidden from Emma suggests that he was afraid of her reaction; indeed, in “Mormon Enigma,” we read that Joseph was under great “strain in his private life,” which calmed only temporarily: “Although Emma’s attempt to accept plural marriage brought temporary peace to the Smith household, neither Emma’s resolve nor the peace lasted long. Emily Partridge commented that Joseph ‘would walk the floor back and forth, with his hands clasped behind him (a way he had of placing his hands when his mind was deeply troubled), his countenance showing that he was weighed down with some terrible burden.'” Emma publicly and privately opposed Joseph’s practice of plural marriage, and for a time there was so much hostility in the house that Joseph accused Emma of poisoning him:

On Sunday, November 5, Joseph became suddenly sick and vomited so hard that he dislocated his jaw and ‘raised fresh blood.’

His self-diagnosis was that he had every symptom of poisoning. But he was well enough in the evening to attend an Endowment Council meeting in the room over the red brick store.

According to current medical literature, no poison available in 1844 was caustic enough to pool blood in the stomach so rapidly after ingestion as Joseph’s symptoms indicate and still be so ineffective as to allow the victim to pursue normal activities within a few hours . . . .

Twenty-two years later Brigham Young described a ‘secret council,’ . . . at which he said Joseph accused Emma of the poisoning and ‘called upon her to deny it if she could . . . . He told her that she was a child of hell, and literally the most wicked woman on this earth, that there was not one more wicked than she. He told her where she got the poison, and how she put it in a cup of coffee; said he, ‘You got that poison so and so, and I drank it, but you could not kill me.’ When it entered his stomach he went to the door and threw it off. He spoke to her in that council in a very severe manner, and she never said one word in reply. I have witnesses all around, who can testify that I am now telling the truth. Twice she undertook to kill him.’ [Young] did not elaborate on the alleged second occurrence, but in 1866 Brigham’s rhetoric could well have been stronger that Joseph’s actual words, for it came at a time when Brigham was particularly hostile toward Emma.

Evidence suggests that Joseph indeed accused Emma of poisoning his coffee. His diary records that he and Emma did not participate in the Prayer Circle at that meeting . . . . This is particularly significant because members were asked not to join the Prayer Circle if they had feelings of antagonism toward anyone else in the group. Only unusual circumstances would have restrained them. Apparently Joseph believed at the time that Emma poisoned him. (Newell and Avery, Mormon Enigma, Champaign: Illinois UP, 1994, pp. 163-64.)

Again, I’m pointing these things out not to attack either Joseph or Emma but to show the disconnect between the reality and the mythology build up around the prophet. You cannot read without believing that Joseph Smith was near perfect, that he lived a blameless, Christ-centered life “bereft of pride” or any other human failing. But no one has ever lived such a faultless life, unless you count Jesus.

But this is the wrong approach. Joseph Smith was not Jesus, and when people find out about his failings, they are genuinely shocked because we were taught that “a more virtuous man never existed on the footstool of the Great Jehovah.

My father taught me to expect human failings in others, especially if they claimed some sort of spiritual authority. “That way, when they screw up, you won’t be disappointed.” I probably applied that teaching to every other human except Joseph Smith, and I was disappointed when I learned who he was, but as I said, I was relieved that he, too, was a human like me. In all honesty, I like the human Joseph Smith much more than I liked the demigod. It’s hard to feel a connection to someone so obviously beyond my human experience, but I can relate to someone who made mistakes, even major ones. Joseph himself once said, “I told them [the Saints] I was but a man, and they must not expect me to be perfect; if they expected perfection from me, I should expect it from them; but if they would bear with my infirmities … I would likewise bear with their infirmities.”

Seems about right to me.

22 Responses to Joseph Smith, Superstar

  1. You are not the first nor the last Mormon to be disillusioned by finding the facts do not support the idealized official version of Church History.

    The Church would be far better served by a policy of sticking with the facts.

  2. shematwater says:

    Before I make any comment on what has been said here, and believe me I want to, I would like to know the references for the many quotes given in the thread. I notice a reference only to the first, which is a church resource. I would like to know where the rest of these accounts come from.

    Thank you.

    • runtu says:

      I look forward to hearing your response. Sorry about the references. They’re all there now, most with links. I often forget that information that I am quite familiar with (and most historians are, as well) may be new to my readers.

      I would hope that you understand my point: we do a huge disservice to church members by presenting this glorified, heroic version of Joseph Smith rather than the man he really was.

      • shematwater says:

        Thank you for the references. It is not that I have not heard the stories before, but that I wanted to know exactly where and what version you were referencing.

        Just a few comments: While I agree that the membership have, in general, fantastical views about Joseph Smith, I do not think it is the intention of the LDS church to create or nurture these ideas.
        I remember in an Institute class I was asked to give one adjective that describe Joseph Smith. I called him sarcastic (which is not exactly a virtue). The teacher was shocked and apauld at this, but it is still true. He was a very sarcastic man.
        I have never held this fantastical view, nor have I even felt compelled to do so by anyone.

        Now, speaking of Emma, she did turn into a bit of a lunatic near the end. She was known for violant rages at times, and even her children would later describe her as a bit wierd. However, the accusation that Joseph Smith tried to hide his other marriages from her is not true (at least I have seen no evidence for it).
        (Just a note: modern science is probably right about the poison being such that he should have suffered worse, but this seems just evidence of divine protection, much like Paul ignoring the bite of a viper.)

        The court trial is deffinite real, and I have known about it for a long time. However, with so many sonflicting accounts, and only second hand records of what Joseph Smith actually said, the confessions given in these accounts are not great evidence for anything. The actual record made at the time of the trial is not had and so these cannot be proven accurate or false. As such they should not be used as proof of anything.

        My last comment is about the whole “boasting” episode that seems to be popular in the modern day. I have read the entire talk that this is taken from. He states clearlly that he only feels justified in making the boast because Paul also took a moment to boast. His boast is perfectly accurate, and in so boasting he has not put himself above Christ in power or authority. He simply wanted to take a moment and congradulate himself, which is a common enough failing in the human race, and does not indicate pride or any other serious character flaw.

        Now, I am not saying this to convince you of anything. I am simple pointing out that not everyone in the church has the ideas you ascribe to the entire body, and that not all the great “disillusionment” that is hinted at is accurate.

        I have yet to read anything regarding the great evils of Joseph Smith that I seen proven. It is all innuendo, second hand accounts, and sometimes complete lies.

  3. Odell says:

    The LDS church cannot admit the truth regarding Joseph Smith. Its power and authority over members rests solely and squarely on a failed person. If the Mormon church ever permitted the truth to be told regarding Smith, its membership would be disillusioned.

    I think the partial representations contained in the LDS manuals are in fact so partial as to constitute falsehoods.

    I remember being sickened in my stomach for weeks when I began reading more about Smith and his ways. He had been a hero to me. I know view him as a selfish deceiver. And I view the LDS church which continues to portray Smith in a false light as equally selfish as its leaders continue to manipulate members to forsake all for the kingdom based on misrepresentations.

  4. kuri says:

    I just wrote a post about Mormon hagiography a couple weeks ago. For me the problem wasn’t eventual disillusionment, it was that I could never relate to the idealized figures described in the manuals. Those “perfect” people seemed so alien to anything in my own life.

    • runtu says:

      For me it was a combination of being disappointed and, as you say, feeling a disconnect from someone who was obviously so much “better” than I was. As I said, I actually like the flawed Joseph a lot better than the superhuman one.

  5. runtu says:

    Shem wrote: “I have yet to read anything regarding the great evils of Joseph Smith that I seen proven. It is all innuendo, second hand accounts, and sometimes complete lies.”

    Sometimes I wonder if people actually read what I’ve written. I didn’t say anything about “great evils.” What I posted I stand by: Joseph did engage in treasure-seeking using a peepstone (that isn’t in dispute); he hid his “marriages” from his wife, which also is not in dispute; and he did “boast” (I disagree with Shem’s take on his May 1844 address, but Joseph has always struck me as far bolder than humble).

    But my point was not that he was a dirtbag, but rather that growing up, I knew next to nothing about him that was true. He was a larger-than-life figure to me, and as I said, I think that’s intentional. It’s also quite counterproductive.

    • shematwater says:

      First, as to the individual points of fault (and yes, if you read the Bible they are serious evils) I do not wish to dwell ont hem further. They are still in dispute, despite what people want to claim, so believe as you will.

      Now, I know your point. My point was simply that all these flaws that you list, as far as I can see (and I have done research beyond this single thread) are not accurate portrayals of Joseph Smith.
      Now, I really don’t care what you believe concerning Joseph Smith (at least as far as this thread is concerned) but just make sure it is based in actual, provable fact, and not rumours and innuendos.

      As to the intent of the church in its methods of teaching, I still disagree with you. They have no intention of misleading or creating a fantastical idea of Joseph Smith. I do not think they intentionly ignore his faults in these manuals. They’re intent in these manuals is not to teach Joseph Smith, but to teach the Gospel. They do this in part by telling of those occations in which Joseph Smith demonstrated the doctrine being taught.
      It is not the fault of the church if the members do no reading outside of these manuals, as there is plenty out there to be read. We are encouraged to read everything we can. This would not be the case if they sought to keep the truth from us.

      Now, I am in no way saying you did not have this sense you had of Joseph Smith (as I know many people who have similar ideas), but I do not think it to be the fault of the church.

      • runtu says:

        If I have not portrayed Joseph accurately, I’d like you to point out where and how. Seems to me pretty clear that the only gospel lesson intended on the web site is to show how marvelous and godlike Joseph Smith was; that was my point.

        What was it Paul Simon wrote? “A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.” I did that for a long time, but eventually reality catches up with you.

        My intent here wasn’t to trash Joseph Smith but to give a little perspective as to why I think the church goes too far in glorifying the man. I’ve provided firsthand sources for everything I’ve said, and I stand by it. I have no problem with those who disagree with me, but I’d like something better than mere assertion to back it up.

      • shematwater says:


        Your accounts are not all first hand. And some of the ones that are have been shown to have inaccuracies in them.
        Take the trial. There are about six different accounts, only one told by a person who was actually present. In his record he says Joseph was pronounced guilty, which is not consistant with the record of charges, which indicates a hearing and not a trial, and thus no verdict would be given.

        Also, many of your accounts are given by those who are known to have taken part in the violent persecusions of the saints, and are thus put into question as to their accuracy.

        These are little details that you seem to ignore. Yes, Paul Simon was right in what he said, but you have not seen the light, you have simply chosen to see something different and are still ignoring what you don’t want to know.

        Now, I am not saying that these stories are false. What I am saying is they are not yet proven true, and so to accept them as proven true is making an error.

      • runtu says:

        Nonsense. The discrepancies between the trial accounts do not affect my point: he was engaged in seeking buried treasure by looking at a stone in a hat. No one disputes that. Richard Bushman, in fact, argues that it was preparation for his future calling as a seer. But we don’t get any of that from the description or the church manual. Hence, my point stands.

        And one more thing: If I had only seen what I wanted to see, I would still be a believing high priest in the church. Acknowledging the reality behind what I believed in was one of the most painful and humbling experiences of my life. I would love to be proven wrong; life would be much easier.

      • shematwater says:


        I really don’t care what Richard Bushman says.
        As to your point, no they do not affect it directly, but they do affect the evidence you use for support of your point, which is what I was commenting on.

        Your point, that Joseph Smith is not really how most people in the church see him is a valid point, one which I never argued.
        Your contension that this is purposely done by the church I disagree with, and I am free to do so as it is based soley on your interpretation of the churches words, which I have red and do not see what you are claiming.
        However, I have made no attempt to state that you are wrong in this, only asserted my belief that it is unintentional on the part of th church.

        All I have said is that the evidence you use in support of your contentions is not that good as far as evidence goes, and it isn’t.

        As to what Mr. Bushman says, this is his opinion and not proven fact. He, like you, is willing to accept this as fact based on the evidence given. That is fine, but it means nothing.

        I have never declared these things to be wrong. What I have said is that I dismiss the allegation due to lack of evidence, which I believe is the best course of action anyone can take in regards to this particular story.

      • runtu says:

        Which allegation? That he was engaged in treasure-hunting? As I said, no one disputes that, as far as I know. We have testimony from a variety of sources, from enemies of the church to Martin Harris. Bushman deals with this in RSR because he has to; the evidence is too strong.

        As far as the church presenting a rather inflated version of Joseph Smith, the web site I cited is evidence enough. The Joseph Smith presented there is superhuman. Also, I have one advantage you don’t: I worked for the church. Nothing is ever published that isn’t intentional.

      • shematwater says:


        That he engaged in treasure hunting is not in dispute. He himself admitted that. What is in despute is the method of hunting (that of a peep stone) and the allegations of fraud in this line of work.
        That he hunted for treasure under the employ of Josiah Stole is proven, and admitted fact. But that is all that is proven.

        I really have no desire to try and argue who has the advantage over whom, as it does very little good.
        I never denied that what the church published is intentional, what I said was that the intention was not to deceive, as you claim.

      • runtu says:

        I did not say the church intended to deceive. Please refrain from putting words into my mouth. What I said is that they needlessly have built up this glorified version of Joseph Smith. But seriously, find me a reference in a church publication that talks about his treasure hunting.

      • shematwater says:

        The History of the church as written by Joseph Smith. In a paper he wrote in response to several questions while in Missouri. I forget the volume, but give me some time and I am sure I can find.
        The question asked was basically “Did you ever engage in treasure hunting?”
        The answer was “Yes, but it was never very profitable.”

        Also, in the Pearl of Great price verse 56 we read that he was employed by a Mr. Stoal to dig for an old silver mine.

        The church has never tried to hide the fact that Joseph Smith was once employed to seek out what might be called buried treasure. This is a fact that Joseph Smith wrote into his own history, as well as in a published paper during his time in Missouri.

        Now, they don’t make any mention of a peep stone because this is unverified rumor.

      • shematwater says:

        Oh, and willfully withholding facts is a form of deception, and this is what you have accused the church of doing. Even the basic accusation that they try to build up the fantastical character is an accusation of deception, as the intention would be to create a false idea of the man.

        No, you never used the word deceive, or deception, but the accusations made mean the same thing.

  6. runtu says:

    Somehow my opinion about the church needlessly glorifying Joseph Smith has morphed into an attack on the church for deception. Unbelievable.

    I provided sources for what I said. All I get in response is that Shem doesn’t accept my sources. Nothing of substance. But I’m the one in the wrong here.

    • shematwater says:

      I never meant that you were attacking the church for anything. I simply pointed out that your opinion was that the church was purposely misleading (or deceiving) the members as to the character of Joseph Smith, which is what your stated opinion is, as I have explained.

      Now, I accept all your sources, I just have disagreed with your interpretation, and thus your opinion of them. Simply put, it is my opinion that you are wrong in your opinion. How this constitutes me claiming you are on the offensive I don’t know.

      Maybe we are both just misunderstood.

  7. Tim says:

    I wrote a letter to the church asking about some of the things missing from They encouraged me to pick up Rough Stone Rolling. So shematwater may disregard Bushman, but the LDS church thinks he’s a valid source.

    • runtu says:

      Shem is entitled to his opinion, but when people reject the documented history acknowledged by the church, you know they’re in trouble.

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