Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas confusion: white Christmas

Once I hit my late teens I started wondering why the LDS Church was so insistent that Jesus (and other Biblical folks) looked so much like a white northern European. I was sure in my heart that Mormons knew full well that Jesus didn't look like a Scandinavian immigrant, but Mormon art suggests otherwise. Even this year's nativity video favors a very white Jesus.

It's like this...

...not this. Trust me. Our prophets have seen him.

We just really like to keep things white and delightsome. If you want to know more about why this might be, read Stephen Prothero.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Wife #1

We typically place Emma Hale at the top of the long chain of Joseph Smith's wives because she was his first and only legal wife. However we need to keep in mind that today in LDS culture the first sealing indicates who the primary celestial spouse is. In the case of Emma and Joseph, they were not sealed until May 28, 1843 which means Emma is not wife #1 - she's something like wife #27. That's right, Joseph was sealed to well over twenty women before he was ever sealed to his dear Emma. WTF?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas confusion: God's take

Does God like Christmas? Does he have any opinion at all about it? I don't think he's ever suggested we celebrate it. There are no scriptures instructing us to throw Jesus a big birthday bash every year, are there? Does God just feel all sorts of wonderful whenever he sees us putting up our nativity scenes?

The funny thing is that even Mormons tend to discredit Christmas in their own way. Mormons insist their preference is to celebrate the adult, atoning Jesus over the wee baby Jesus (let me tell you, LDS Easters are freakin' great!), but when it comes to Christmas Mormons simply go with the flow.

"Relax, dude, God loves all this shit."

For me it feels less than inspired.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas confusion: holiday origins

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (possibly), Saturnalia, Yule, Koleda, Winter Solstice - in a word: Christmas before Christ. This is where it all began. The shortest day of the year (which happens to be today this year) has been celebrated in various way across Europe and elsewhere centuries, if not millennia, before Jesus was ever laid in a manger. Many of these traditions are still practiced under the guise of Christian worship.

Isn't it a bit strange that one of the biggest celebrations in Christianity is little more than a ripoff of non-Christian peoples? Christianity is little more than a latecomer to the already teaming milieu of late-December religious holidays. Isn't it strange that Christianity has not bothered purging the pagan from this most holy of holidays? Doesn't that make us all practicing pagans to some degree?

Does it matter at all where Christimas came from as long as we make it mean whatever we want it to mean? Hasn't commercialism already effectively undermined the Christian facade it now bears?

We've really improved on the beauty of the holiday, haven't we? Happy Winter Solstice, brothers and sisters.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas confusion: the divine birthday

Current apostle Dave Bednar stated in the April General Conference of this year that the date of Jesus' birth is known by revelation to be April 6. That's the same day James Talmage believed was Jesus' birthday, but is it Jesus' birthday?

It must be - Dave said it was revelation.

But not everyone agrees. In fact it looks like Dave can take his revelation and smoke it because he was dead wrong. Or Joseph Smith was. Or Joseph's scribe was. It's very mysterious.

When the historical facts and the scriptural text are considered, it appears Jesus was probably born in early December. I hope that means that December 5 will now feature a new holiday called Mormon Christmas.

Then again the person reaching this conclusion, one Jeff Chadwick of BYU, isn't a prophet, seer or revelator, so what the hell does he know?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas confusion: the star

Mormons believe that there really, truly was a star that appeared at Jesus' birth. They believe this partly because the Gospel of Matthew mentions some astrologers reading his sign in the sky but also because The Book of Mormon treats the star as a real thing.

It all starts out with the sun going down and "great lights in heaven" (Helaman 14:3) keeping things as bright as day. Then we get the Star of Bethlehem showing up sometime later.

The story makes wonderful sense until you stop to think about it. Why does the Bible not mention a night as bright as day? Were the "great lights" Samuel the Lamanite spoke of, like, angels acting as nightlights or something? Third Nephi doesn't say. Why would Herod's astrologers be the only assholes able to see and understand the significance of a mega-bright star showing up in the sky? Why should we believe that star-reading, horoscoping assholes had any valuable insight about the future at all, ever? Why would said astronomers need a star to travel ten miles down the road, anyway? Why doesn't Samuel the Lamanite give any instructions on how to read the "many signs and wonders in heaven" (Helaman 14:6)? Is a new savior being born every time a supernova pops or a meteor shower hits? Does God really relay messages of truth through the stars? If so, it would seem that modern-day astronomers and modern-day prophets are both having a hell of a time making heads or tails of what God's trying to tell us via astroscript.

What if it's all just a fun story? What if The Book of Mormon is just another fun story based off of a fun story or two?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Captain Kidd connection

Does The Book of Mormon bear the mark of pirate lore popular among early American settlers? Some say yes, others say no. Mormonthink has looked into the pop culture element and had found some interesting quotes; FAIR's approach favors the narrative that Joseph Smith wasn't a cartographer who would have had access to obscure maps.

What I see is this: 

1. Captain William Kidd did in fact bury treasure off the coast of New England (Gardiners Island and Block Island).
2. Joseph Smith's parents and grandparents came from Connecticut and New Hampshire.
3. Searching for more of his treasure was a popular pastime that spread far beyond the coast of Connecticut.
4. The Smiths were very engaged with treasure digging.

So is it reasonable to believe that Joseph was keyed into Captain Kidd lore, or am I just trying to be a doubter?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"United to persecute me"

"Soun's like bullshit, son. I'm gonna go excite the public mind agains' ya!"

Why, oh why did Joseph not say anything about being persecuted until many years after his First Vision? Why, oh why did no one in Joseph Smith's family (or anyone else, for that matter) talk about Joseph suffering persecution at the hand of the community?

It looks to me like Joseph, in an effort to turn himself into a new Paul, concocted a narrative of persecution for his followers to latch onto. A little pathos goes a long way. (Maybe he was persecuted but it wasn't quite as bad as he later made it out to be.)

But why worry about the early persecution at all? How does persecution logically indicate you're right about anything? Answer: because Satan.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Zion's Camp

Throughout my life as a believing Mormon I never understood why we ever had Sunday School lessons on Zion's Camp, Joseph Smith's failed military effort of 1834 to regain lost lands in Missouri. It was always presented as a wonderful example of the Lord trying his people and having to change plans because they weren't obedient enough, and yet when I heard the story I couldn't help but notice a certain discomfort afterwords because Zion's Camp is so clearly a sloppy, uninspired effort put together by a leader who was desperate to keep his followers happy.

Seriously, read it. Read the inspiring version for adults, read the inspiring version for children, watch the corny movie version or read the Wikipedia version. They all conclude with Joseph's prophecy falling flat on its face. No fighting took place and yet more Mormons died than Mormon enemies. What the hell is that?

Is it OK that I've been confused for so long?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


If Joseph Smith's years of scrying and his story of gold plates that no one can see don't bother you at all, you probably won't be phased by Joseph's illegal creation of an "anti-bank" (sounds inspired by the Anti-Nephi-Lehies). It was a pure con that blew up in his face and cost the saints a pretty penny.

I have no idea how anyone can deny that Joseph was a conman. Doubt it if you can, shelf it if you must.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Emma and Camille

We might ask ourselves why exactly Emma stayed with Joseph if he was such a scoundrel. Surely she would have had enough self-respect to walk away from such an unfaithful husband, right?

Reading this commentary on why Camille Cosby might have stayed with Bill reminded me once again of Emma's position as a victim. Like Camille, she was married to a rising star, a man she loved and trusted. As her husband's public respect and power grew, so did her incentive to stay by his side. With so many speaking so highly of her husband, why would she believe the few dissenting voices? How can you stop loving and supporting someone who means the whole world to you?

Is it possible for a disgusting person to do amazing things like teach, entertain, and make thousands of people feel special? Do disgusting and criminal behaviors somehow undermine the good things someone does? Are we supposed to let men like Joseph Smith and Bill Cosby off the hook despite they're abuses?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Polygamy - prophetic voice

I've posted before about John Taylor's questionable sanity, but please consider for a moment John Taylor's summation of the evil of monogamy:

"...the one-wife system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people."

Holy shit that's a moronic thing to say!

Now consider that he was not at all alone in departing such stupidity from the pulpit. WTF, folks? There's no way LDS Mormons are supposed to believe any of this, right?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Folk magick

God cares a great deal about what others would consider total bullshit. Take for example dowsing, or water witching. God totally loves that shit and he's recorded in The Doctrine & Covenants as saying as much.

"... you have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron; behold, it has told you many things; Behold, there is no other power, save the power of God, that can cause this gift of Aaron to be with you. Therefore, doubt not, for it is the gift of God; and you shall hold it in your hands, and do marvelous works; and no power shall be able to take it away out of your hands, for it is the work of God."

(For a detailed explanation of where "the gift of Aaron" comes from and what it means, click here.)

Why would God endorse Oliver Cowdery's "gift" in folk magic that has been proven to be absolutely powerless? Was this really a revelation from God or was it Joseph casting the spell of flattery on his close associate?

"No, seriously, bro, I'm unstoppable with my water wand."

Friday, November 14, 2014

Slippery treasures

Did Joseph Smith the stone seer write The Book of Mormon? Well the text does share an interest in locking down elusive treasure.

Yea, behold, the anger of the Lord is already kindled against you; behold, he hath cursed the land because of your iniquity. And behold, the time cometh that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them. And in the days of your poverty ye shall cry unto the Lord; and in vain shall ye cry, for your desolation is already come upon you, and your destruction is made sure; and then shall ye weep and howl in that day, saith the Lord of Hosts. And then shall ye lament, and say: O that I had repented, and had not killed the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out. Yea, in that day ye shall say: O that we had remembered the Lord our God in the day that he gave us our riches, and then they would not have become slippery that we should lose them; for behold, our riches are gone from us. Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone; and behold, our swords are taken from us in the day we have sought them for battle. Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land. O that we had repented in the day that the word of the Lord came unto us; for behold the land is cursed, and all things are become slippery, and we cannot hold them. (Helaman 13:30-36, emphasis mine)

And later on there's also this:

And these Gadianton robbers, who were among the Lamanites, did infest the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof began to hide up their treasures in the earth; and they became slippery, because the Lord had cursed the land, that they could not hold them, nor retain them again. (Mormon 1:18, emphasis mine)

Does God really do that kind of tricky shit or are these examples of how Joseph couldn't help but include his typical excuse (slipperiness) for never finding real treasure when out scrying?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Polygamy - Joanna's take

Here are a few things to consider from Joanna Brooks' recent blog post.

"[T]he new website on Joseph Smith’s polygamy does not say that Smith was wrong—not for marrying against the wishes of his first wife Emma, or marrying women already married to other men, or marrying girls as young as fourteen. It acknowledges that Smith’s polygamy demanded heartwrenching sacrifices of his first wife, but it sidesteps the crucial question of whether these sacrifices were founded in lasting principles of Mormon theology, or were they pains caused by the human excesses of our charismatic founder?

Is it the will of God that polygamy should persist in LDS Church theology and policies pertaining to LDS temple marriages, as it does to this day?"

Dear Tommy, would you and your buddies please let us know if LDS Mormons today are rightly dreading future (and eternal) polygamy?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Treasure digging

How was Joseph Smith making a name for himself before he made a name for himself as the keeper and protector of golden plates? Like a lot of other good Americans of the early 19th century, he was treasure hunting.

Did Joseph stop pretending he could find treasure after the angel Moroni directed him to at least 50 or 60 pounds of golden goodness? No way!

But don't worry, it's not like Joseph faking people out about treasure could be linked to producing a questionable book of scripture.

Of course the LDS Church would like you to believe that all of Joseph's treasure digging was all practice for the translating processes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The First Vision

The LDS Church lays all its chips on Joseph Smith's 1820 theophany. When telling the story of the Church we begin with the story of a young teenage boy who was struggling to find the truth but then found the answer through an earnest prayer. That prayer parted the heavens and brought down God - Heavenly Father, The Eternal Father, Elohim - from his celestial throne with his Choicest of Children, Jesus the Anointed, The Creator, The Savior of the World, The Judge, The Father.

Theophanies aren't all that unusual and they're not always as pleasant as Joseph's was. My concern here is that it might not have ever happened in the first place.

Why would I doubt the reality of the First Vision? Mainly because

1. Joseph was not persecuted between the age of 14 and 17 for having seen God. No family member or anyone close to Joseph mentions persecution during these years and neither does Joseph until a decade later or more.

2. Family, friends and followers all attributed Joseph's prophetic call to his vision of Moroni at the age of 17 (1823).

3. The extant accounts of the First Vision begin in 1832. This seems to be the year Joseph invented his theophany. He begins by saying he was 16 but pushes his age back gradually until he says he was 14.

4. Age is not the only detail Joseph plays around with when recounting his First Vision. He can't keep straight who even showed up and spoke with him. Basically Joseph wanted everyone to believe he had a vision but he wasn't sure when, was unsure for years who appeared and wasn't sure what was communicated.

5. In the now official version of the story we understand that God told Joseph not to join any churches because "all creeds were an abomination" in the sight of God. So why did Joseph try to join the Methodists in 1828?

The whole story stinks. But the LDS Church will tell you it all harmonizes beautifully.

I don't know. I really don't see it.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Gone rogue

It's been said (by a prophet and repeated frequently by others) that God will not let his people be lead astray. You can find this in LDS scripture and in the Church's general teachings about the nature of the relationship between God and his prophets.

The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.

Is this why Joseph Smith was murdered at 44? Was the mob at Carthage somehow sent by God to remove his delusional and fallen prophet? Was Brigham wrong to take up the bizarre cause of polygamy? What if we can't trust the Brighamite branch of Mormonism at all?

If we can't trust Brigham and his followers than we can't trust what Wilford said either, and I totally believe what Wilford said, ergo everything must be fine. Joseph must have been a holy son of a gun and Brigham must have been right to fight for polygamy. The Church is true! Doubt no longer!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Polygamy - unscrupulous seduction

The recent explanation of how the LDS Church got involved in polygamy mentions that:

A few men unscrupulously used these rumors [of Joseph Smith marrying multiple women] to seduce women to join them in an unauthorized practice sometimes referred to as “spiritual wifery.” When this was discovered, the men were cut off from the Church.

Couldn't this also apply to Joseph? His version might look something like this:

Joseph Smith unscrupulously used his prophetic authority and a story about being threatened by an angel to seduce women to join him in an unauthorized practice sometimes called "celestial marriage." When this was discovered, he was cut down by critics and eventually a violent mob.

History is written by the winners.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Polygamy - until Death do us unite

Now that the LDS Church has officially put up information on lds.org about Joseph Smith's polyandry, let's see what the Church has to say about it.

Joseph Smith was sealed to a number of women who were already married. Neither these women nor Joseph explained much about these sealings, though several women said they were for eternity alone. Other women left no records, making it unknown whether their sealings were for time and eternity or were for eternity alone. 

What's an "eternity alone" marriage? Here's the explanation:

Eternity-only sealings indicated relationships in the next life alone.

"Relationships" means sexual relationships; it seems that some of Joseph's marriages would only involve sex after death and resurrection. 

So relax, there's a chance that Joseph wasn't boning all of the already married women that he secretly married. BUT THEY'LL BE GETTING IT ON INFINITELY IN THE NEXT LIFE.

Does that sound any less weird? Does "eternity alone" even make sense given how long eternity is? What about postponing sex makes having multiple spouses sound more acceptable to Mormons? I wonder how the husbands feel about this arrangement? Wouldn't a "life alone" marriage at least offer the relief of knowing that your wife's relationship with another man will one day end?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Traditional marriage

It's nice to see the LDS Church recognized that the tradition of marriage is an ever-changing one:

For much of Western history, family “interest”—economic, political, and social considerations—dominated the choice of spouse. Parents had the power to arrange marriages or forestall unions of which they disapproved. By the late 1700s, romance and personal choice began to rival these traditional motives and practices. By Joseph Smith’s time, many couples insisted on marrying for love, as he and Emma did when they eloped against her parents’ wishes. (See here.)

It's a small admission, but it's a hell of a lot better than their usual homophobic bullshit about "traditional marriage" going back to Adam and Eve. Here the Church admits that women have long been considered property of a man (like in D&C 132:62) and an important trade commodity (think of the tradition of asking for a father's permission and his agreement to "give away the bride"). Kudos.

Let's do what we can to avoid reinstating that tradition where it has fallen out of use.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Polygamy - difficult tasks

The LDS Church's recent explanation of polygamy in Nauvoo makes it clear that God's pretty much a horrible communicator and very much a dick.

Although the Lord commanded the adoption—and later the cessation—of plural marriage in the latter days, He did not give exact instructions on how to obey the commandment. [...] When God commands a difficult task, He sometimes sends additional messengers to encourage His people to obey. Consistent with this pattern, Joseph told associates that an angel appeared to him three times between 1834 and 1842 and commanded him to proceed with plural marriage when he hesitated to move forward. During the third and final appearance, the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully.

Did you catch that? God couldn't be bothered to tell Joseph Smith what he was supposed to do exactly or why, but he was insistent enough that his prophet get with other women that he sent an angelic hit man to lean on him.

"Goddammit, Joe, you faithless fuckface, I'm gonna count the three!"

What kind of loving being would act like that? Why is that God's more than willing to lay out explicit instructions for communicating with him, ship building, tabernacle design, temple building, temple dealings and just about all aspects of our daily lives (including diet), but not for plural marriage and temple sealings?

Wait, what? He did give explicit instructions to Joseph on how to practice polygamy in 1843? Hm...

Friday, October 31, 2014

Polygamy - empty explanations

In addition to God needing believing babies, the early saint's apparently needed learn some shit the hard way.

Church leaders taught that participants in plural marriages should seek to develop a generous spirit of unselfishness and the pure love of Christ for everyone involved. (See here.)

Why was polygamy the preferred didactic method for teaching "the pure love of Christ"? I have no clue. Back in Jesus' day his approach was telling people to give all they had to the poor and not judging and stuff like that. The Church seems to be suggesting that God doesn't really care or want us to understand his motives.

Like the participants, we “see through a glass, darkly” and are asked to walk by faith. (See here.)

The only real important thing is that we believe God will give us something for our efforts:

They believed it was a commandment of God at that time and that obedience would bring great blessings to them and their posterity. (See here.)

We view our current polygamous practices the same way.

[T]he Church permits a man whose wife has died to be sealed to another woman when he remarries. Moreover, members are permitted to perform ordinances on behalf of deceased men and women who married more than once on earth, sealing them to all of the spouses to whom they were legally married. The precise nature of these relationships in the next life is not known, and many family relationships will be sorted out in the life to come. (See here.)

In other words, we don't know what the fuck we're doing or why exactly we're doing it, but we trust it's from God and we trust that he'll sort all this shit out even though it's absolutely absurd. Considering all the sealing combinations we've tried out (and the probability that many of those sealed souls won't even make it to Celestial glory), it's safe to say the tapestry of eternal families we've woven will look something like this:

Keeping sealing, dear Saints, but whatever you do do not stop to consider the idea that Joseph Smith made this all up so he could take advantage of several women (and girls).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why God requires polygamy 2

So why? Why polygamy? The three new essays released on lds.org all make sure to bring up Jacob 2:30 right away.

The Book of Mormon identifies one reason for God to command it: to increase the number of children born in the gospel covenant in order to “raise up seed unto [the Lord].” (See here.)

God declared in the Book of Mormon that monogamy was the standard; at times, however, He commanded plural marriage so His people could “raise up seed unto [Him].” (See here.)

Church members viewed plural marriage as a commandment from God, an imperative that helped “raise up” a righteous posterity unto the Lord. (See here.)

So the answer is: BABIES FOR JESUS! I'm not sure why God needs babies so badly when there are plenty being born all the time. What makes children born "in the covenant" so much more valuable than all the others. Shit, why's he need children at all? They don't even make money to pay tithing. Are children the only people who believe in god stories anymore? No missionary work? Just baby-making sex? Can't God encourage some inter-tribal adoption? 

"Hold on a second, sugar, let's let the pregnant ones catch up."

If God needed babies so badly why didn't Adam get a few hundred wives instead of just little old Evie? Why didn't Noah's boys fill the Ark with God's most fertile? Why didn't Nephi and his brothers have a shit ton of sister wives? Why didn't Jesus' mighty twelve just hang around in harems all day instead of going out and preaching? Why didn't Joseph have any children with his 30 plus wives? Why did Brigham only have a couple more children than he had wives? Why do we see that polygamy fails to produce more children than monogamy?

Does God suck at math? Or was Jacob wrong about the divine purpose of polygamy?

At least Lot had two daughters to rape him instead of just one.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dallin Oaks criticized

Dallin Oaks is your typical authority-touting type. He was a Utah Supreme Court justice which for his fans means he's smart and level headed, but for the rest of us means he's used to being "right" and having the final say on everything. I suppose I wouldn't be too bothered by that if he didn't say such horrible things all the time. I cannot have faith in such a man.


“Some things that are true are not edifying or appropriate to communicate. Readers of history and biography should ponder that moral reality as part of their effort to understand the significance of what they read.”


“Satan can even use truth to promote his purposes. Facts, severed from their context, can convey an erroneous impression.”


"When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan - it is God's Plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give directions, it should mark the end of controversy, God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost on e his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God."

HE HAS NO REGARD FOR OTHER CULTURES. Seriously, who thinks Africa has one unifying culture? It's bad enough we think Mormonism has only one culture, but Africa, the continent? Holy shit.

HE'S A TOTAL HOMOPHOBE. Some of the most horrible things he's had to say recently have to do with homosexuality and the gay rights movement.

AND HE'S A HYPOCRITE. The man runs around yapping about how marriage is between one man and one woman and yet he's got two spiritual wives.

What ever happened to honesty and unconditional love?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Get 'em young

God likes his vessels young and tender. Joseph Smith, for example, was (according to LDS Church speak) an innocent, uneducated young lad of only 14 who couldn't possibly have known the ways of the world. That's important for us Mormons to believe because it's an example of the way God works. He took something weak but pure and made it strong! That's the kind of generous god we worship.

So is it any wonder that God commanded Joseph to marry a girl "several months before her 15th birthday" (OK, more than one actually)? We all know how strong these chosen teen brides (OK, there were a lot more than just two) became, right? I mean, they were pivotal in the highest ordinances revealed to Joseph! No?

I guess being shuffled about like chattel in life only to be completely swept under the rug after death and then dredged up only reluctantly because you're a major liability might not feel especially great.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Why God requires polygamy

The LDS Church did something big. It finally opened up to discussing its lesser-known polygamist past. Congratulations, Mormons. Truly and sincerely.

But I do have a few questions:

1. What is inherently righteous, holy or godly about plural marriage? Where is the divinity in this principle?

2. Why is polygamy part of the Gospel Restoration? What does it have to do with the Fall, the Atonement and the Final Judgement? How does it fit into the salvation of humankind?

3. What good did plural marriage accomplish either for God or Joseph or any of his wives or anyone else involved in a plural marriage or the Mormon community in general or humanity at large?

From what I can tell the article offers no answers. Why not?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

WoW - Abiding wisdom

You might think that getting some dietary guidelines from God would be a pretty big deal and that believers would readily conform to those guidelines out of their simple love of righteousness, and yet in the years following the revelation now called the Word of Wisdom few, if any, dietary changes took place in Mormonism. Even Joseph regularly ignored the wisdom of the revelation he himself received. Isn't that strange?

It took the LDS Church until 1921 to more or less figure out how it wanted to interpret the Word of Wisdom and make adherence to it a requirement to enter the temple. That means it took 90 years to figure this shit out, nearly a century before Mormons decided God might really be on to something. Isn't that incredible? It seems to me that God really could have cleared things up at any time, like anytime during the eleven years of Joseph's life following the initial revelation.

Why didn't people take this divine counsel more seriously? Why didn't the Church leaders understand it sooner? Were all of the prophets up to Heber Grant leading us astray? Are we being led astray now?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Virtue of abstaining

In the LDS Church we grow up admiring Joseph Smith for his unwavering courage and astonishing moral strength because at the age of seven he declined to drink alcohol as an anesthetic before undergoing bone surgery.

But we also grow up failing to address his willingness to imbibe alcohol as and adult, including the day he was killed.

Rather than consider what this might mean about Joseph's character, let's reflect instead on what this says about LDS culture. Why can't we be honest with ourselves about Joseph Smith's behavior? Do we think that his drinking in adulthood shows a fallen man, someone who was stronger as a seven year old? Does Joseph's drinking undermine our faith in the World of Wisdom? Will admitting that he liked alcohol somehow give members the green light to start drinking? Why can't we be honest?

Sunday, October 19, 2014


I wasn't sure I'd live to see this day though I often dreamed it would come. The Mormon Newsroom has finally revealed to the world the faith's secret temple garb, from underwear to baker's hats. (Here's the YouTube link.)

Frankly I'm amazed. Way to go Newsroom! I don't doubt for a second that you released this information out of a pure desire to be open and forthright with the world and not because you're hoping to catch up with the many other people who have already been controlling the online discussion about (not to mention entered the production of) these things for years.

My only complaint is how you frame the explanation of garments and temple clothes. You point to religious clothing worn by other faiths as though everyone thinks those clothes are totally awesome and not at all weird. If you're goal is to say "Hey, look! We've also entered the masquerade of bad fashion ideas people shouldn't make fun of!" then all you've really accomplished is making Mormons look like Johnny-come-latelies. If you think you're somehow going to convince the rest of the world that Mormon temple garb is better than every other religion's, I doubt this video will do the trick.

Oh, wait! And there was also that line in the video about "echoes to antiquity" found in temple clothes. Why didn't you mention the much more recent echoes as well? I'm sure the general public would also love to hear about the Mormon connection to other once secret robes.