Disliking Joseph Smith

Sunday I realized that, despite what I tell myself, I still have kind of a residual negative reaction to Joseph Smith. I find myself thinking of him like an unpleasant acquaintance from my past, like the kid up the street who used to throw rocks at me when I was a little boy.

I went to a missionary homecoming Sunday, and the boy was talking about service. He said, “Of all the people who have lived on this earth, there is one man who stands out as the greatest example of selfless service: Joseph Smith.” I had a kind of viscerally negative response, thinking that there were a lot of people I would put ahead of Joseph Smith on the service scale.

When I came home from church, I was watching the news, and they were talking to Kody Brown, the “Sister Wives” guy. He seems pretty sincere in his beliefs, but he comes across to me as rather self-absorbed, a bit self-righteous, and sort of creepy. I thought, self-absorbed, self-righteous, creepy polygamist with big hair. Sounds like Joseph Smith.

Mind you, had I lived in Joseph Smith’s time, I would not have advocated his death or imprisonment. He did a lot of manipulative, selfish, and just plain wrong things, but nothing that I can see worthy of imprisonment or death. To the degree that he was responsible for creating the culture and worldview I grew up with, I’ve forgiven him, which I think was an important part of my “recovery,” if that’s what you want to call it.

But it struck me that I don’t really like him very much. He’s not someone who would be my friend, and I certainly wouldn’t let my daughters babysit for him.

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10 Responses to Disliking Joseph Smith

  1. pollypinks says:

    It’s really probably that Joseph Smith did many things that made him worthy of death during those times. Every place he took his tribe to live, his business practices were skeptical, and he took part in ruining other people’s lives. It wasn’t this prissy little “Oh he believes in polygamy” that got him killed. Nay nay. Much more went into that. And while I can find no reason for Kody Brown to be jailed, unless his taxes aren’t up to snuff, I find it odd that most of his children are over weight, and there isn’t practicality involved in raising that many children, even with one wife. Let’s face it though, name me a place of business that doesn’t have people working there who are shacked up with a partner. My son lives with his pregnant girlfriend simply because they cannot afford the astronomical health care bill that will accompany her. And I find his decision moral, because I believe that all people deserve to be as healthy as they can without having a lien on their home, taking out bankruptcy, or, having their credit ruined. He had an arrangement with a local hospital to pay them $60.00 per month for an E.R. visit, but had to call them one month when he couldn’t pay them that much. Guess what? They ruined his credit rating. So who and what is moral, and who deserve what he got, and how complicated is it for polygamists to survive now? Let’s let the fundamentalists be the judges, since they do it so well.

  2. runtu says:

    My point was that, although I find both of those men a bit creepy and self-absorbed, I don’t have intense hatred for either one. But I don’t have to like them.

  3. Mr. Chris says:

    “and I certainly wouldn’t let my daughters babysit for him.”

    Ouch. Harsh, bro. 😉

    • runtu says:

      Harsh? Not really, considering the number of young women who started out as household servants who ended up “married” to Brother Joseph. It’s a pretty well-established pattern in his life.

  4. Chris says:

    Joseph Smith probably did some things worthy of imprisonment. Not only were there the bank fraud and debt evasion things, but there were also some cases where he seems to have instigated (or attempted to instigate) violence (albeit subtly enough to have plausible deniability).

  5. Dan says:

    Although this is far from proven, there is a theory that Joseph Smith used enthogens to induce visionary experiences in himself and his followers:
    http://www.i4m.com/think/history/holy-ghost.htm

    If that were the case, IMHO that definitely counts as grounds for imprisonment.

    “I certainly wouldn’t let my daughters babysit for him.” – LOL! Neither would I.

  6. After reading the Joseph Smith History of the Church, I realized that I wouldn’t have liked Joseph very much. I’m willing to grant everyone some faults, but the self-interest of Joseph with his involvement in things like phrenology to build his ego was off-putting.

  7. ff42 says:

    In so much as JS (or anyone for that matter) initiated/order violence (e.g., printing press destruction, danite actions, rape of teenagers, etc.) or fraud (e.g., rocks/sand in coin box for Kirkland Anti-banking Society, telling women they and their families would be saved if they married him, etc.) they deserved to be forced to provide restitution.

  8. La says:

    Agreed, but I think if I were the husband of one of the already-married women that he took as his wife I would likely want to kill him.

    Oh, and now I am an official follower of Runtu. 🙂

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