Episode 21 – 1 Prophet, 2 Trials... 3-some anybody?
On this episode, we dive right back into the history! We find ourselves attending the first two congregations of the church, and take a brief moment to introduce a pre-Danite wild-card that's been unfairly benched during our narrative up to this point. After that, Joe takes a trip to Colesville and has his second and third run-ins with the N. Y. legal system. Does Joe get convicted of being a “disorderly person”, or does he get off on a couple of bullshit technicalities? Listen to find out...
Outro music used with permission
1830 trial notes
Salt Lake Tribune 'Seer Stone' article
Grant Palmer presentation
Janice transition blog entry
Welcome to episode 21 of the Naked Mormonism Podcast, I'm Bryce Blankenagel, and thank you for joining me.
Last episode was a little step out of the normal history. It was time to give Boyd K. Packer the proper eulogy that he so thoroughly deserved. I grabbed three of his more famous talks and read the majority of their content to try and get a proper understanding of this man's views on sexuality in general, and everything relating to it. I hope the episode didn't get too personal at the end. I've spent a lot of time with you guys by this point, and I felt like I should let you in on my Mormon experience a little more than I have in the past. It's quite apparent that I hold a bit of frustration with the church's stances on sexuality, and I kind of let that frustration take it's own course, and direct the content of my rantings. Not only that, but the episode was filled with ad-homonym attacks and name calling. It came to my attention from a few people, that some of the names I called BKP might have been a bit offensive. Names like Boyd KKK. Fudge-Packer, and Boyd K. Pack-it in the ass, and just outright dicklicker. I'm well aware of how offensive these names can be, so, to anybody that did take offense, I apologize. It was, and is, never my intention to offend or hurt anybody with what I say on this show. I like to be offensive in the scope of the show, but I mean absolutely no harm to anybody directly, with the exception of the relevant people we talk about in the show. I have no problem calling Joe the megalomaniacal, child-fucking, self-righteous, pile of human waste that he was. Or calling Boyd K. Packer the disconnected, fearmongering, misogynistic, gay-hating, fuckwit that he was, but I try to stop the insults and ad-homonym attacks there.
There were a few reasons I was so offensive, one of which was to poke the dead bear. You see, the most offensive thing you can do to a violent homophobe, is libelously call them various offensive terms for being gay. The best way to highlight somebody's bigotry is by shining a spotlight on how offended a person like that is, when the names are turned around and used on them. I think I was doing just that, in an effort to make a homophobic person like Packer uncomfortable by calling him what he hates most. It shows a problem with their perspective, not with society's perspective. I would never actually call somebody that's gay, one of these horrible names. I hope that hearing those phrases didn't turn anybody off of the rest of the show, because by the end of it, I tried to express just how pro-gay I am. I would never dream of saying something offensive like that, in an effort to offend anybody that's gay. Or, for that matter, anybody that's straight and sympathizes with the LGBT movement like myself. Unintentional collateral offense is never my intention with this show.
The second reason for calling these names was just out of sheer frustration. In reading those talks, I created a cardboard version of Packer that I couldn't help but verbally stab a bunch of times for saying such insensitive, and horrible things. As I made apparent in the episode, I had a hard time controlling how angry the content made me, because I empathize so much with the people he marginalized during the talks. It was childish and petulant, but I don't think it was unjustified.
I think another reason, which I sort of eluded to during the closing rant was the fact that I was raised with terms like this being normal, calling my buddy names for killing me in Call of Duty. I knew that he wasn't gay, and therefore probably didn't suck cocks, and I was fairly certain that he didn't make a habit of fucking his mother, or being a 6 foot tall excretory organ, but I still called him a cocksucking, mutherfuckin asshole for scoring a cross-map headshot on me. Anybody that's played any first person shooter with a notorious screen-peeker has said many similar things. These were never exchanged in genuine anger or meant to be truly offensive to the other person, it was merely done out of a weird sense of joking that's exchanged between men everyday. I'm a delivery truck driver that spends my working day going from one auto repair shop to the next diesel repair shop in very rural parts of Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. If you don't have a vocabulary and skin that can handle and return these words, you're seen as a pinko commy hippie obama lover, and you will not survive, especially as a salesman. I'm not trying to shift the blame onto my past or current situation, but I moved from a very conservative suburb of Salt Lake City, to very conservative rural Colorado, and I just described my job. I don't spend much time around very many people that I would consider enlightened. This show has been my first access to that world and group of people. The problem with this is I don't always have a baseline of reality to ground my speech and mannerisms upon. I mean, for fucks sake, I went to bed just after midnight both nights of ReasonCon because I haven't really partied before. Mormonism made me into a fucking weird young adult.
The culmination of these many compounding reasons is what made me say such things. I'm not trying to justify it, because I know I should never have said what I did, in the way that I did. Saying those things was completely my responsibility, and was never my intention and I'm sorry. I hope all you listeners can accept my apology with the understanding that I will be more careful from now on with how I express my frustration at ass - backwards world views, held by really fucked up people like Boyd K. Packer and Joseph Smith. I do appreciate the corrections. They help me become a better person, and make the show more listener friendly.
Now for the fun stuff that everybody comes to this show for. The history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Let's get a quick refresher course on what the last historical episode was about. Last time we were talking about Joe and Co., they had signed the contract with E.B. Grandin to publish 5,000 copies of the BoM for 3,000 dollars. While Ollie and John Whitmer were slaving away to compose the printer's manuscript, and John H. Gilbert was madly setting the type and printing, Joe fucked off to Harmony to go live with the in-laws again.
Sometime during this period, Joe heard about a publishing company in Canada that was willing to pay a very handsome 8,000 dollars for any book that could be useful, whatever that meant, and he wanted some of that cheddar. He gathered a few of his favorite gents, minus Not-So-Smarty-Marty of course, and gave them revelation to go sell the copyright. It failed the first time, I know, hard to believe that one of Joe's revelations from god failed or was inaccurate, but Joe wouldn't be dismayed by this little speed-bump. He called for the same group of buddies to go on a second trip to Canada, once again by revelation from God, and the group failed a second time. Amazing isn't it. It's just sad that we don't have a copy of the revelation itself. We know that both trips happened, and their purpose from multiple first hand accounts, but Joe wouldn't let the revelation be printed because it was such a massive embarrassment to him that the revelation was such a failure.
After these multiple failed revelations, a guy named Abner Cole printed a satirical version of the Book of Mormon under the pen-name Obadiah Dogberry, called the Book of Pukei. He also unlawfully printed the first two chapters of the BoM, which finally made Joe and Co. take notice, and have a little talk with Mr. Dogberry. Soon after this talk, the plagiarism and copyright infringement stopped, however the ridicule did not. There is plenty more out there, from other newspapers, and multiple other sources, that considered Joe and his gold bible that he found with his magic stone precious, to be a complete farcical, and nefarious fraud. Joe was pretty much universally considered a piece of shit by anybody that wasn't in his company, or didn't have some way of benefiting from believing his story, or being part of the early Mormonite movement.
Well, after talking about the Book of Pukei, we concluded the episode by saying this was the end of the road leading up to the Church of Christ being started, and the beginning of Joe's journey to full-blown cult leader. We bumped right up to the first congregation of the church which was held on April 6, 1830. Well, that's where we begin today's episode, along with the introduction of a character that we've ignored for far too long. So let's get into it.
This was a pretty eventful day for Joe and his friends. We know the major parts of what happened that day, however there are some minutia that are controversial. One problem is the number of people in the congregation. Some have recorded that there may have been as many as 30 people gathered together there, whereas the church reports 6 active members on that day. Another issue is the location. The church tells us that it was organized in the Whitmer home in Fayette, N.Y., however others argue that it was organized in or near the Smith home in the Manchester/Palmyra area. Like I said, small details. Details that don't necessarily change anything important about the occurrences on that day.
For our purposes, we're going to stick primarily with the report from history of the church, Vol. 1, thanks again Jay for sending a copy of this to me, it's absolutely invaluable. This episode will be quoting straight from it, pages 75-94.
“We had received a commandment to organize the church; and accordingly we met together for that purpose, at the house of Mr. Peter Whitmer, Sen., (being six in number,) on Tuesday, the sixth day of April, A.D., one thousand eight hundred and thirty. Having opened the meeting by solemn prayer to our heavenly father, we proceeded, according to previous commandment, to call on our brethren to know whether they accepted us as their teachers in the things of the Kingdom of God, and whether they were satisfied that we should proceed and be organized as a church according to said commandment which we had received. To these several propositions they consented by a unanimous vote. I then laid my hands upon Oliver Cowdery, and ordained him an Elder of the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints;” after which, he ordained me also to the office of an Elder of said Church. We then took bread, blessed it, and brake it with them; also wine, blessed it, and drank it with them. We then laid our hands on each individual member of the church present, that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and be confirmed members of the Church of Christ. The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us to a very great degree--- some prophesied, whilst we all praised the Lord, and rejoiced exceedingly.”
Alright, let's talk about this for a minute. Naturally, the meeting was opened with a prayer, that's to be perfectly expected, but the next thing they do is what I'm interested in. They “called on our brethren to know whether they accepted us as their teachers in the kingdom of god, and whether they were satisfied that we should proceed and be organized as a church”. When I was young in the church, I always wondered why we would do that thing right before the sacrament service where they would call people and ask the congregation to sustain or oppose the person's calling or appointment. Once every six months during general conference, some dude in a $900 suit will stand at the pulpit in the conference center and ask all the members to sustain the current leadership, which is basically just raising your hand saying you support whatever it is they just said. I suppose it's always an option to oppose whatever they are calling your support for, but that's relatively unheard of until recently with the any opposed movement. You never knew the church was such a democratic structure did ya? Anyway, I remember thinking a few times that it was so weird, but it was also just what everybody in the church was doing, so I didn't ever seriously question it. It seems like this might be the genesis of this practice. At the very first congregation of the church, Joe called for a vote from everybody in the room, asking if they supported Joe and Ollie as their teachers, and agreed with the direction the church was going. I suppose I see the point of this effort. If any member isn't satisfied, they can just vote against supporting a motion, and the motion needs to be adopted or changed in order to obtain satisfaction. I suppose that's more of a republic, than a democracy, but it still surprises me that in it's very early stages, the church was practicing this, and it's still part of every LDS church's agenda every week. Just a heads up, you don't oppose.... simple as that.... you don't oppose...
Next thing to address is Joe and Ollie's little mutual masturbordination into the office of Elder in the church. The footnotes of the history of the church that I'm reading from, which were added many years later, vehemently distinguish this ordination apart from Joe and Ollie receiving the Melchizedik priesthood, so it can fit better in their narrative. However, from reading the recorded history up to this point and ignoring the footnotes, it seems a lot like Joe considered the office of Elder synonymous with the M priesthood. In fact, the M priesthood hadn't even been referred to up to this point. It was just the holy priesthood in reference to the Aaronic priesthood, and then the office of Elder, which, nowadays, has the added bonus of the M priesthood, added much later than what's recorded here. Check out Episode 19 for a full deconstruction of the massive fuster-cluck of confused timelines and verbiage when it comes to the priesthoods. Just keep in mind, when the church was first organized, Elder was considered the highest office for a person to reach in the priesthood, with the exception of Joe, which is what we'll talk about next.
Back to quoting from History of the Church vol. 1. Keep in mind the perspective given by Joseph being the mouthpiece of god when he gave revelations.
“Whilst yet together, I received the following commandment:
Behold, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou shall be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, and elder of the church through the will of God the Father and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ.
Being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build it up unto the most holy faith.”
Basically, everybody in the congregation got something cool for being there. Joe and Ollie ordained each other to the office of Elder, then every person voted on their holiness, and thus received the ordination blessing of the Holy Ghost, and everybody was happy. But, Joe couldn't stay on the same level as all the other people in his burgeoning cult, he needed some way to distinguish himself above all the other fools in that room. So, Joe received a convenient revelation from God that set him apart as seer, translator, prophet, and apostle of Jesus Christ. That was a title that nobody, not even Ollie Cowdung Allover, had. Joe had officially set himself up as king shit of crazyville in just a few sentences. Welcome to the first official authority claim of our favorite cult leader, Joseph Smith.
Going back to history of the church vol. 1 page 79
“We now proceeded to call out and ordain some others of the brethren to different offices of the Priesthood, according as the spirit manifested unto us: and after a happy time spent in witnessing and feeling for ourselves the powers and blessings of the Holy Ghost, through the grace of god bestowed upon us, we dismissed with the pleasing knowledge that we were now individually member of, and acknowledged of God, “The Church of Jesus Christ,” organized in accordance with commandments and revelations given by Him to ourselves in these last days, as well as according to the Church as recorded in the New Testament. Several persons who had attended the above meeting, became convinced of the truth and came forward shortly after, and were received into the Church; among the rest my own father and mother were baptized, to my great joy and consolation; and about the same time, Martin Harris and Orrin Porter Rockwell.”
Before we get to the last person on that list, let's talk about the other three people. Apparently, Joe was convincing enough with his revelations and other speeches during this first congregation, that both his parents and NSSM were baptized into the church. That's important for a certain level of validation that Joe had been seeking for a long time. Obviously, Joe looked up to his parents, especially his magical father, BDC, who was obviously Joe's namesake. I mean, at the time of recording this, I'm the same age that Joe was when he was conducting this meeting, and he had the implicit approval of his parents, and crazy-ass, bi-polar, deer whisperer NSSM. What a rock solid validation, right? Even being his age, I can't put myself in his shoes for gaining that level of validation from the people that cared most about him. Before moving on to OPR, let me list off the official list of the 6 members in that first congregation. There was Joe, Ollie Cowdung, Hyrum Smith, Peter Whitmer Jun., Samuel Smith, and D-Day David Whitmer. That list was given by Ollie to Joseph Knight Sr., who'll come up really soon. This attendance list seems to lack the names of the individuals baptized on that day. They must have only counted the members that had already been baptized or something, because it doesn't make a lot of sense if BDC, Lucy Smith, and NSSM were baptized that day, but weren't there to be baptized. The same goes for OPR. It's starting to seem like the history, as recorded by the church, doesn't quite match up to reality in this case, but I don't know... I wasn't there to judge the accuracy of the record. I wonder what else is wrong with it. We'll get into that question in a while, but first OPR.
Orrin Porter “destroying muthafuckin angel” Rockwell was born in Belchertown, Massachusetts on June 28, 1813 to Orin and Sarah Rockwell and soon moved to Palmyra, N.Y. In mid 1818, the Smith family moved to Palmyra, N.Y., to the farm adjacent to the Rockwell farm. Orrin was 8 years younger than Joseph, but the boys shared some things in common. During the first episode of this show, we talked about Joe having surgery on his infected leg bone, due to a bone infection from typhoid fever. It was an experimental procedure that involved opening up the leg, and scraping away the infected bone. This left Joe with a long recovery time in his youth, all the way up to his early teenage years. Joe had a limp until the day he died thanks to that operation, however, he didn't die from infection, so it was a life saving procedure. Well, Orrin had a similar experience. However, he didn't have a leg infection that required a major surgery, he just severely broke his leg at the age of 10, and had it set, and placed in a makeshift cast by a shitty physician. This cast allowed Orrin to heal, however the leg healed and ended up 2 inches shorter than the other leg. This forever gave Orrin a limp as well, making it something the boys shared with each other, and could bond over. In fact, Orrin's 2 inch difference was problematic enough that he wasn't very useful for some farming tasks. For example, when plowing, he could never plow in a straight line. He thought he was, but when somebody would come along to check his work, all the lines leaned one direction a tiny bit, making an unruly mess of the field.
Even given the age difference, Joe and Orrin became the best of friends. While Joe was more the thinkin type, Orrin was more the get shit done, and fuck you up type. Both boys were a little bit odd, or goofy in their own way, and the other boys in town would frequently make fun of them for being crippled, or weird or visionary, or some other thing that boys make fun of each other for. This “us vs. them” mentality united Joe and Orrin in a way that can't be shared by people that haven't experienced their situation. Joe himself was known for scrapping with the neighborhood boys occasionally, however, he was kind of a pipsqueak in comparison to some other bigger farm boys, so he would frequently get his ass kicked when a confrontation would turn into a fight. This is really no different than any other boy during that time. Shit, this is how a lot of boys are growing up today. Only recently has society started seeing a turn against fighting and bullying in schools and neighborhoods between boys.
Well, where Joe was lacking in muscle, Orrin seemed to excel. He was simply tougher than a lot of the neighborhood boys, especially Joe. This gave the two of them a very interesting friendship that will become very useful for Joe in the very near future in our timeline. It isn't until 1838 that Orrin really starts to embody the spirit of the Destroying Angel of the church, but he had the personality for it, long before he actually fell into this role. Orrin was a tough bastard.
My absolute favorite part about Orrin was the fact that he had a high voice. A man like this, you picture being rough tough and having a gruff voice, however, his was higher pitched than normal, and under times of distress, it became higher pitched. So he would be like “Hey are you looking at my short leg” “Stop makin fun of me asshole!!!!”. If you look at a picture of this guy, he looks like a biker yeti, somebody you would picture having a scruffy intimidating voice, but no. It just sounded ridiculous. The best part about his voice was his catch phrase. Whenever something happened that he liked, or he just wanted to exclaim something out of excitement he would yell “WHEAT!” or should I say “wheat!(high pitched)”.
A lot of the locals called Joseph a vagrant and a drunkard, following in the footsteps of his fantastic father figure BDC. Well, this was something else that brought the two young men together. Orrin thoroughly enjoyed his alcohol, tobacco, and foul mouth. Joe and Orrin were two peas in a bullshit pod. Don't get me wrong, Hyrum and Joe were really good friends, but they were also brothers, which is totally different than the friend dynamic that Orrin and Joe had. Even Ollie Cowdung was Joe's cousin, making their friendship slightly less dynamic than that of Joe and Orrin. The way I picture Ollie and Joe's relationship was bit more master/slave, or commander/actor. Ollie kinda just did whatever Joe said. However, Orrin was much stronger than Ollie, both physically and in will and personality. Joe couldn't control Orrin the way he could Ollie, so he had to find ways to fuel Orrin's ego and point it in the right direction, as oppose to break him with commands from god like Joe did with Ollie.
These personality profiles aren't baseless. We have a couple of situations to help illustrate, or bring to life the relationships these guys had with each other. Let's take what happened during the translation of the BoM with Ollie to understand his and Joe's relationship a little better. Sometime during the supposed three month period of translating the BoM, Ollie thought that he might be able to translate some himself, and have Joe scribe for him. Well, Joe came up with a revelation that told Ollie, that if he had faith in the lord and his own abilities, he would have the gift of translation just like Joe. Ollie attempted to come up with some of the BoM, which was never printed, and is lost to historical mystery. Soon after this attempted, Joe came up with another revelation from god that Ollie was to be Joe's assistant, and scribe for Joe, and never do anything else. This may have been because Ollie wasn't very good at translating, but I tend to go the other way. I believe that the revelations/translations that Ollie gave were too awesome, in Joe's opinion anyway. Not wanting to be shown up by his lackey, Joe came up with revelation stating that Ollie didn't possess the same powers as Joe, therefore, his revelations were inferior, and would never be shared with the church.
A similar situation happened with Hiram Page, which is something we've talked about before, but without any real context of when the situation fell into the timeline. Sometime just after the organization of the church, during one of the early assemblies, Hiram Page tried his hand at revelating through his own precious seer stone. We aren't really sure why Hiram did this, but one prevailing theory was that the new congregants weren't fully convinced of Joe's authority, or connection to the divine. A few episodes ago, when we talked about this, I said it was because Joe was dragging his feet when it came to telling the congregants where the final gathering place of the rapture was, or where this brand new church planned on putting the new Jerusalem that Joe kept talking about. I tend to think that this is what the revelation that Page gave was about, but we aren't really certain why Hiram did this, primarily because we don't have the revelation available to us to speculate on, or try to draw conclusions from. Usually when we see the content of a revelation, it's pretty easy to surmise why it was given, or speculate on the situation that necessitated the revelation in the first place. Unfortunately, we can't do this with Page's revelation. Regardless of why he tried giving revelation on behalf of the church, once Joe found out, in typical 'take my ball and go home' fashion, he ordered the revelation to be burned, and the stone that Hiram used, crushed into dust, because the revelation was obviously from the devil. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that it was a blatant subversion to Joe's supposedly divine authority. It was clearly just because the revelation was actually evil.
Really, this was clearly just a manifestation of Joe stomping out the competition in his own ranks. What's more than that, he ordered Ollie to go tell Hiram that the revelation was not of god, and that Hiram was to destroy it, and his stone. Joe also told both of them that stoned sight was to be left up to him, and him alone. This was just another power play by Joe. Now let's compare that to a revelation that Joe gave to Orrin, and try to see the difference.
During one of Orrin's many bat-shit, crazy, gun-toting stunts, during which he faced certain death, he somehow emerged on the other side without so much as a scratch. In the aftermath, Joe gave Orrin a revelation that if he never cut his hair, he would never be harmed by blade or bullet.
Do you see the difference in revelation that I'm talking about? One was used to quell and destroy the ego and free-spirit of two people, and the other was meant to feed the parasitic ego of Orrin. I think Joe had a kind of unspoken respect for Orrin. I think he understood that he couldn't control Orrin the same way he could other people, he could merely point Orrin in the desired direction, and hope that everything turned out for the best for him. This brings us to our official Naked Mormonism nick-name for Orrin Porter Rockwell. Old Pistol Packin Porter, his friends knew him as Ol' Port.
Now you can see why Pistol Packin Porter is one of my favorite people in the entire Mormon history. He was not only a loose cannon, but a complete reckless badass, that enjoyed the carnality of life and killing, more than he cared for a life of piety. One of his best traits was the fact that he was completely illiterate for most of his life, and died only semi-literate, meaning, he never read the BoM to know what he was really following, he just took Joe's word for it, whenever he was given instructions, and Ol' Port was proud of this bit of ignorance. There just isn't another wild card quite like him in all of Mormon history. Ol' Orrin Pistol-Packin-Porter Rockwell didn't give no fucks, and didn't give a fuck who gave a fuck about it. He did his own thing, all while under the banner of Joe's heaven, and was directed by Joe's self-serving whims. Ol' Port was responsible for a lot more than what we'll cover in this episode, but this is the official introduction of this dynamic, controversial, and all around amazing character in our timeline.
Pistol-Packin-Port became the youngest person to be baptized and confirmed into the church during it's first congregation being around 17 at the time. The reason I say 'around', is because there's a little argument about whether he was born in 1813 or 1815. I figured if I say around 17, it pretty much covers both bases, and gets closest to actual fact, excusing a little ambiguity.
So BDC, Lucy Smith, Not-So-Smarty-Marty, and Pistol-Packin-Port were the first four people to be baptized into the church during that tuesday session on April 6th, 1830. These baptisms, along with calling some of the brethren that were already members to leadership positions, pretty much covers everything that happened during that session, so lets move onto the first actual Sunday assembly of the church on April 11th, 1830.
But, before moving on to that, it might be a good idea to talk about the evolution of Joe's revelations throughout his leadership in the church. When he was just starting out, the revelations seem to be for purely utility purposes. A need arises in the church, Joe comes up with a very basic, bare-bones revelation to fix the problem, and everybody follows orders and moves on. This is the stage we're at right now with the revelations. During this early period, Joe was still using Precious, and Mr. Hat to ensure accuracy of his revelations from the almighty god of the universe, whereas very soon, he leaves the props behind, and just slips into an almost trance-like state to do his revelating. Then he gets to a point where he just comes up with revelation to best suit his needs. He starts to condemn people more during the revelations, and calls himself the lord thy god more frequently, and adds a significant amount more fluff. By the time the saints get to Missouri, every revelation spends one or two verses dealing with the problem that it's meant to fix, and everything else in the section is just a sermon calling people to repentance, or telling people to trust him, cuz he totally is speaking for god and nobody can challenge it. As we advance in the storyline, it'll be easier to see these differences in Joe's revelations. It's really quite fascinating, and I'll try to point out the differences as much as possible. Let me give an example of a bare-bones revelation like I've been talking about. It was either issued at the April 6th congregation, or it might have been given during the first Sunday assembly on the 11th, it's not really clear, and it doesn't really matter too much. What we're concerned with is the content of the revelation.
Once again, I'm taking this from history of the church vol.1 page 80. It's worth briefly pointing out that I'll be spending most of this episode in this book. It's what the church tells us about itself, and it's extremely revealing, and as far as historians can tell, this version aligns with reality quite closely. Keeping all the historical facts in mind, where we get to play around on this show, is reading in between the lines, or trying to speculate on the real world need for a given revelation.
For example, this revelation I'm about to read is given to multiple new members of the church, and was obviously born out of necessity. The people in this revelation were obviously asking Joe what God wanted them to do, in order to further the kingdom of god, aka Joe's church.
“Behold, I speak unto you, Oliver a few words. Behold thou art blessed, and art under no condemnation. But beware of pride, lest thou shouldst enter into temptation.
Make known thy calling unto the church, and also before the world, and thy heart shall be opened to preach the truth from henceforth and forever. Amen
Behold, I speak unto you, Hyrum, a few words; for thou also art under no condemnation, and thy heart is opened, and thy tongue loosed; and thy calling is to exhortation, and to strengthen the church continually. Wherefore thy duty is unto the church forever, and this because of thy family. Amen.
Behold, I speak a few words unto you, Samuel; for thou also art under no condemnation, and thy calling is to exhortation, and to strengthen the church; and thou art not as yet called to preach before the world. Amen
Behold, I speak a few words unto you, Joseph (BDC); for thou also art under no condemnation, and thy calling also is to exhortation, and to strenghten the church; and this is thy duty from henceforth and forever. Amen
Behold, I manifest unto you, Joseph Knight, by these words, that you must take up your cross, in the which you must pray vocally before the world as well as in secret, and in your family, and among your friends, and in all places.
And, behold, it is your duty to unite with the true church, and give your language to exhortation continually, that you may receive the reward of the laborer. Amen.”
You see what I mean? At this stage, Joe was still trying on all kinds of different ideas to see what worked, and what could be best utilized to control the people around him that were members of the church. He was just at the beginning of his crazy theological evolution when the church was first organized. In the grand scheme of things, Joe had barely gotten started. The church hadn't moved to Ohio yet, where it would more than double in size. The history of the church wasn't being officially recorded by anybody yet. Joe's revelations hadn't been compiled into the Book of Commandments yet. Joe hadn't even started on his translation of the bible with Sidney Rigdon yet. In fact, by the church's recorded history, Joe hadn't even met Hingepin Rigdon yet. The Pratt brothers weren't around quite yet. Brigham Young was still completely ignorant to the entire Mormon movement. Missionary forces had yet to be formally organized. There had been a few people here and there sent out with incomplete copies of the BoM, however, the first full-on missionary force of the church was still waiting to be organized under Joe's direction. As a matter of fact, the revelation we just read was the formal calling of Hyrum, Samuel, and BDC Smith, along with Joseph Knight Sr. to be the first missionaries for the church. Everything's in it's very early stages. Joe was taking baby steps, day by day, to organize the church. It wasn't all revealed at once in it's current form, as is usually understood by believing Mormons today. You would think that if the church were indeed restored from the one true church that Jesus created, it would be restored through the perfect and almighty god of the universe, and would therefore be brought to fruition all at once through perfect means, and never need to be changed from what was originally uttered by Joe. I suppose we'll have to see if there are any differences from the original church to today's church, and it would seem like it might falsify the claim of divine origin, based on that premise alone. I suppose we'll just find out, won't we.
Anyway, let's move on to the rest of what happened during that first Sunday meeting in Fayette.
Once again, we return to the history of the church vol.1 page 80.
“On Sunday, April 11th, 1830, Oliver Cowdery preached the first public discourse that was delivered by any of our number. Our meeting was held, by previous appointment, at the house of Mr. Peter Whitmer, Sen., Fayette. Large numbers of people attended, and the same day the following were baptized, viz., Hiram Page, Katharine Page, Christian Whitmer, Anne Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Elizabeth Whitmer; and on the 18th day, Peter Whitmer, Sen., Mary Whitmer, William Jolly, Elizabeth Jolly, Vincent Jolly, Richard B. Peterson, and Elizabeth Anne Whitmer—all by Oliver Cowdery, in Seneca Lake.”
First off, why did Ollie Cowdung deliver the first actual public discourse on the church? It seems odd. Why wouldn't Joe, the prophet of god and mouthpiece of divine revelation, be the person to deliver the first sermon? I'm not sure if it's relevant at all, but doesn't it seem odd? Nobody knew the BoM better than Joe, because it all came from his mind, however, his right hand man was the person to give everybody the first lesson about the BoM and early Mormonism. Oh well, like I said, I don't think it matters too much. What does seem to matter was who baptized all of the new people that wanted to join the church.... For some reason, this responsibility also fell on Ollie's shoulders. Was Joe so holy of a prophet, that he couldn't be bothered with being the person to physically baptize these people that wanted to fall into line with him?
I don't know if this is why, but I want to try and speculate on why Joe conducted the church this way. I personally think that Joe was trying to elevate himself above the temporal rituals and whatnot that were necessary to run the church. It's like any boss at any job ever. The boss may or may not know how to perform a simple task in the company, but he/she never will, because that's a big degree of separation between the boss, and the lowly worker underneath that boss. Well, I think the same thing was going on with the Joe and Ollie dynamic here. Joe wanted everybody to see him as being above what they had to do in order to reach god. Joe wanted to portray himself as already being the closest man to god that existed on the earth. How could he be above everybody else in that respect, if he is required by god to perform everything that the lowly peasants in his church have to do. Now, granted, that's just my opinion, but doesn't it seem to make a little bit of sense? If I were a cult leader, I wouldn't be one of the guys hoeing the weeds out of the garden, I'd be the dude sitting in a red velvet chair, cigar and expensive scotch in hand, overlooking the masses as they do my bidding. That's just how cult leading works. Like I said, just speculation.
Another piece of speculation to offer here is the possible explanation for why some historians think that the first congregation happened in Palmyra, as opposed to Fayette. It has primarily to do with the people that were baptized during the meeting on the 6th, as opposed to who joined on the 11th. All of the people that Joined during the 6th, were residing in the Palmyra/Manchester area during the time, and it's not necessarily easy to believe that all of them would travel to Fayette on a tuesday, just to be part of the first congregation. Additionally, why wouldn't all those Whitmers that were baptized on the 11th, just get baptized during the first congregation if it was in their own home, as opposed to waiting 5 more days just to be baptized on the first Sunday Assembly? It just doesn't make sense. But, if you posit the claim that the first congregation was held in Palmyra, and the first Sunday assembly was held 30 miles away in Fayette 5 days after the first congregation, the names of the people make more sense. Martin Harris, BDC, Lucy Smith, and Ol' Pistol-Packin-Porter were all in Palmyra, and were baptized on the 6th. However, Hiram Page, Katharine Page, Christian Whitmer, Anne Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Elizabeth Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Sen., Mary Whitmer, William Jolly, Elizabeth Jolly, Vincent Jolly, Richard B. Peterson, and Elizabeth Anne Whitmer were all in Fayette and were baptized on the 11th, or 18th. Like I said earlier, it's a very small, and irrelevant detail, but I figured it might be useful to hash out the controversy, and consider what fits the evidence best, and once again, the recorded Mormon version, for whatever reason, conflicts with very simple logic.
Moving on, let's find out what happens next. The first congregation of the church had been convened, and was over with. The first Sunday assembly of the church, and the first official sermon had been given, and lots of people had been baptized. Now we can move on to the actual missionary efforts in the early church. The church had some very polarizing doctrine. People would accept or reject it wholly, there weren't a lot of people in the middle. The church and it's doctrine radically divided families, and friends. Within the first 9 months of the church, the first group of 6 people were ex-communicated from the church. The only way the church would be able to survive was aggressive expansion through proselyting. They could only keep going if they were constantly gaining new members, and consuming new ground. If the missionary force slowed, new members stopped coming in, and the bleeding of members overtook the number of new-comers.
As could be expected, Joe decided to do a bit of the missionary work himself. However, he didn't go tracting strangers doorsteps like he told the other early missionaries to do, he went to secure high value targets. One of these was the family of Joseph Knight Sr. Going back to the history of the church vol. 1.
“During this month of April, I went on a visit to the residence of Mr. Joseph Knight, of Colesville, Broome county, New York, with whom and his family I had been for some time acquainted, and whose name I had previously mentioned as having been so kind and thoughtful towards us while translating the Book of Mormon. Mr. Knight and his family were Universalists, but were willing to reason with me upon my religious views, and were, as usual, friendly and hospitable. We held several meetings in the neighborhood; we had many friends, and some enemies. Our meetings were well attended, and many began to pray fervently to Almighty God, that He would give them wisdom to understand the truth.”
The kindness, and thoughtfulness that Joe mentioned there was the time during late May to early June, Joseph Knight Sr. brought some food and other provisions to the starving newlywed Joseph and Emma that were translating the book with Ollie in Harmony, Pennsylvania. This was at a time that they desperately need any help they could get because Issac Hale had cut off any assistance he was giving to them, and Joe and Ollie were busy all day playing with their book. There was no income to the household, and they couldn't bum meals off the Hale family anymore. So, Joseph Knight Sr. showed up just in the nick of time to keep their current lifestyle alive. Of course, barely a week after this nice gesture, they all moved to the Whitmer home, and there received free room and board for the remaining duration of authoring the BoM.
After Joe talks about Joseph Knight's hospitality, he tells us that he started a congregation of the church in Colesville. The Knights ended up converting to the church. Fortunately for us, it's not just as simple as Joe reasoning them into the church before they converted. For the Knight family conversion story, we need to dive back into the history of the church. This reading will be a little longer, but hang in there with me because it tells us some crazy shit, and I think it helps to illustrate why the Knights converted from Universalism, to Joe's Church of Christ. There really isn't a whole lot of difference between the 1830's version of Universalism, and what Joe was preaching. Joe just created a structured version of what most Universalists believed at that time.
But let's get to the important, and more realistic version of why the Knights converted. This is starting on page 82 of Vol. 1 of the History of the Church.
“Our meetings were well attended, and many began to pray fervently to Almighty God, that He would give them wisdom to understand the truth.
Amongst those who attended our meetings regularly, was Newel Knight, son of Joseph Knight. He and I had many serious conversations on the important subject of man's eternal salvation. We had got into the habit of praying much at our meetings, and Newel had said that he would try and take up his cross, and pray vocally during meeting; but when we again met together, he rather excused himself. I tried to prevail upon him, making use of the figure, supposing that he should get into a mud-hole, would he not try to help himself out? And I further said that we were willing now to help him out of the mud-hole. He replied, that provided he had got into a mud-hole through carelessness, he would rather wait and get out himself, than to have others help him; and so he would wait until he could get into the woods by himself, and there he would pray. Accordingly, he deferred praying until next morning, when he retired into the woods; where, according to his own account afterwards, he made several attempts to pray, but could scarcely do so, feeling that he had not done his duty, in refusing to pray in the presence of others. He began to feel uneasy, and continued to feel worse both in mind and body, until, upon reaching his own house, his appearance was such as to alarm his wife very much. He requested her to go and bring me to him. I went and found him suffering very much in his mind, and his body acted upon in a very strange manner; his visage and limbs distorted and twisted in every shape and appearance possible to imagine; and finally he was caught up off the floor of the apartment, and tossed about most fearfully.”
Okay.... So this is the first time we've talked about demon possession on this show, but here it is, right in the church's own published history. Newel Knight was apparently possessed by demons, because he didn't want to pray in public or something.... So he comes home one day looking like shit, and his wife goes and gets Joe, to have him cast out these demons, or maybe just see what he can do about the situation. Well, Joe shows up, and Newel is in bad shape. According to Joe, literally in bad shape, like his limbs were distorted and twisted all fucky and whatnot. Then, somehow, Newel levitated off the floor of the apartment and was tossed around like a fucking demon puppet rag-doll. I've heard this story related before that Newel was just bouncing around in the rafters of the building like a ping-pong demon toy. I personally believe that this is an over-dramatization of the story. I think he was just laying on the floor, then a blood vessel in his head burst from the high fever he was fighting, taking out a small portion of his mind along with it, and sent him into a delusional rage, or possibly a mild seizure of some sort, and he just threw himself around the room, running into walls and falling over furniture. It's kind of hard to tell exactly what Joe means in this account, but I think it makes a little more sense than the whole Demon rag-doll being thrown around the rafters of the house.
So let's hear about Joe's handling of the situation.
“The First Miracle in the Church.
His situation was soon made known to his neighbors and relatives and in a short time as many as eight or nine grown persons had got together to witness the scene. After he had thus suffered for a time, I succeeded in getting hold of him by the hand, when almost immediately he spoke to me, and with great earnestness requested me to cast the devil out of him, saying that he knew he was in him, and that he also knew that I could cast him out.
I replied, "If you know that I can, it shall be done," and then almost unconsciously I rebuked the devil, and commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to depart from him; when immediately Newel spoke out and said that he saw the devil leave him and vanish from his sight. This was the first miracle which was done in the Church, or by any member of it; and it was done, not by man, nor by the power of man, but it was done by God, and by the power of godliness; therefore, let the honor and the praise, the dominion and the glory, be ascribed to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.”
There we have it, the first self proclaimed miracle the church had was performed by Joseph Smith himself, and it was a demon exorcism. I find it strange that the rate of demon possession has been decreasing at an inverse rate to the number of people that have “possession” like symptoms, that are suffering from a mental disorder, or viral infection, which we are learning how to better treat every day. At this rate, in less than a century, nobody will believe that demons are real, and we'll actually be able to cure whatever mental illness causes a person to seize on the floor, or throw themselves against the walls in a room. What I'm trying to say is, this is a pretty fucking lame first miracle. Joe couldn't give the young man Pistol-Packing-Port the two inches back in his leg, thus eliminating his life-long limp? Joe couldn't bring his dead child back to life? Joe couldn't miracle $3,000 out of thin air so Marty wouldn't have to sell his farm to finance the BoM? I suppose that back in this day, an exorcism was the closest thing they could get to empirically verifiable divinity claims. I mean, even today people believe in this shit. There are pastors that will give you a skype-orcism for your demons, for just a small fee. It's pathetic that this can be used as a confirmation bias of one's faith, that's the point I'm driving at. And it fuckin worked for the Knight family too.
“Remarkable Experience of Newel Knight.
This scene was now entirely changed, for as soon as the devil had departed from our friend, his countenance became natural, his distortions of body ceased, and almost immediately the Spirit of the Lord descended upon him, and the visions of eternity were opened to his view. So soon as consciousness returned, his bodily weakness was such that we were obliged to lay him upon his bed, and wait upon him for some time. He afterwards related his experience as follows:
I now began to feel a most pleasing sensation resting on me, and immediately the visions of heaven were opened to my view. I felt myself attracted upward, and remained for some time enwrapt in contemplation, insomuch that I knew not what was going on in the room. By and by, I felt some weight pressing upon my shoulder and the side of my head, which served to recall me to a sense of my situation, and I found that the Spirit of the Lord had actually caught me up off the floor, and that my shoulder and head were pressing against the beams.
All this was witnessed by many, to their great astonishment and satisfaction, when they saw the devil thus cast out, and the power of God, and His Holy Spirit thus made manifest. As may be expected, such a scene as this contributed much to make believers of those who witnessed it, and finally the greater part of them became members of the Church.”
So apparently, there were some witnesses to this experience, and it made believers out of them. Well, that's the history according to Joseph, and the history of the church. Let's look at the surrounding evidence of what was happening at the same time, and directly after this incident, to try and parse the truth out of the situation.
After this exorcism, the Knight family joined up, and became participating members of the Colesville branch of the church. According to the church's account, this happened around the end of May 1830, but some shit goes down in June. On June 9th the early Mormonites had the first organized conference in Fayette with a self reported membership of about 30 people. After this, Joe decides to go check on the congregation in Colesville, roughly 100 miles away. The entire time that Joe was preaching here, there was a lot of opposition to him. Honestly, I can't put my finger on exactly why they hated Joe so much. You can try and chalk it up to the fact that Joe was preaching his new Jesus, and pulling members away from their existing congregations. That would have motivated the local pastors to vilify Joe and turn everybody against him. However, that being considered, I don't think it fully explains what happens in June. Joe was arrested and brought to trial twice, in two different counties for being a “disorderly person”. From what I can tell, it looks like the first arrest happened in Colesville by a Joseph Chamberlin. The mobs had gathered, and they wanted to either beat the shit out of Joe, or straight up kill him. Apparently, while Chamberlin was walking Joe to the wagon they would be riding to South Bainbridge, the mob surrounded them the entire time, and even crowded around the wagon. According to Joe's history, the mob was waiting for some signal from the constable, so they could take Joe and have their way with him. The signal was never given, and the men took off in the wagon. After going a few blocks, a wheel fell off the wagon, and the mob encircled the wagon again, in hopes of taking Joe off Chamberlin's hands. They repaired the wheel, and made their way to South Bainbridge, where they would stay the night in a tavern. Even though they had traveled the some 15 miles from Colesville to South Bainbridge, Joe was still afraid of the mob coming in the night to drag him out in the street to tar and feather him, or just kick the shit out of him. The constable solved this problem by sleeping with his feet up against the door, and a loaded musket in his hands. No attempt was made on Joe's safety that night.
The next day, the trial commenced “amidst a multitude of spectators”. Once again, Joseph Knight Sr. comes to Joe's rescue. He was friends with two lawyers, James Davidson, and John Reid. Joseph Knight paid them to defend Joe, and they did quite well. I'm just going to read the supposed court proceedings from the history of the church Vol. 1 starting on page 89. There's some very interesting information couched in between the lines here, and I look forward to speculating in my usual way when we get to them.
“At length the trial commenced amidst a multitude of spectators, who in general evinced a belief that I was guilty of all that had been reported concerning me, and of course were very zealous that I should be punished according to my crimes. Among many witnesses called up against me, was Mr. Josiah Stoal—of whom I have made mention as having worked for him some time—and examined to the following effect:
"Did not the prisoner, Joseph Smith, have a horse of you?"
"Did not he go to you and tell you that an angel had appeared unto him and authorized him to get the horse from you?"
"No, he told me no such story."
"Well, how had he the horse of you?"
"He bought him of me as any other man would."
"Have you had your pay?"
"That is not your business."
The question being again put, the witness replied:
"I hold his note for the price of the horse, which I consider as good as the pay; for I am well acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jun., and know him to be an honest man; and if he wishes, I am ready to let him have another horse on the same terms."
Pretty interesting stuff here. Bossman Josiah Stowell, who gave a very internally contradictory testimony on behalf of Joe during the 1826 trial, was called onto the stand once again to testify on behalf of Joe. Apparently there was some sort of dispute about whether or not Joe was going to pay Bossman Joe for the horse he supposedly signed a note for. I think this just lays bare how convincing and smooth of a talker Joe really was. He had no money whatsoever, and had swindled Bossman Joe out of quite a bit of money in their treasure seeking adventures. Then Bossman Joe thought it was a good idea to sell a horse to Joe, not for cash, but for a note of promised payment, which Joe had yet to make good on. And yet, Bossman Joe was still willing to sell Joe another horse on the same terms because he believed in the young prophet so much. There's something deeply wrong with that in my opinion. Let's move on to the next, and somewhat similar testimony.
“Mr. Jonathan Thompson was next called up and examined:
"Has not the prisoner, Joseph Smith Jun., had a yoke of oxen of you?"
"Did he not obtain them of you by telling you that he had a revelation to the effect that he was to have them?"
"No, he did not mention a word of the kind concerning the oxen; he purchased them the same as any other man would."
So Jonathan Thompson was called to testify on Joe's behalf, and did so. Much like the last testimony, for some reason the questioning lawyer thought that Joe had just given these guys revelation, stating that they should give the livestock to Joe. However, once they were asked directly about this, they blatantly denied it, and said that they expected to receive payment from Joe for the livestock just like any other sale between any other honest men. I wonder if they ever did get their money back out of Joe... I don't think we'll ever know one way or another on that point. Let's move on to the part of the trial that I find most hilarious and exciting.
“After a few more such attempts, the court was detained for a time, in order that two young women, daughters of Mr. Stoal, with whom I had at times kept company, might be sent for, in order, if possible, to elicit something from them which might be made a pretext against me. The young ladies arrived, and were severally examined touching my character and conduct in general, but particularly as to my behavior towards them, both in public and private; when they both bore such testimony in my favor as left my enemies without a pretext on their account. Several other attempts were made to prove something against me, and even circumstances which were alleged to have taken place in Broome county, were brought forward, but these my lawyers would not admit of as testimony against me; in consequence of which my persecutors managed to detain the court until they had succeeded in obtaining a warrant from Broome county, which warrant they served upon me at the very moment that I was acquitted by this court.”
Apparently, after the court couldn't find anything to convict Joe with during all of the testimonies, only two of which are included in the official church history, Bossman Joe's two lovely daughters were called up to the stand. Apparently, everybody in town thought there might have been a little hanky panky amongst these hormone crazed young adults. I don't tend to see a problem with this, however they were probably calling it up in reference to adultery charges. I think everybody thought there might have been something going on there while Joe was married to the lovely Emma, which would justify the court charging him with adultery, or at least being a disorderly person on these grounds alone. Now, whether or not anything happened between Joe and these two girls, is irrelevant. The court couldn't find enough evidence in the girls testimonies in order to convict Joe. Regardless of conviction and evidence, I think it's worth talking about the possibilities here. We know that Joe liked his women, so much so that conservative guesses put him as having 34 wives at the time of his death. Do we honestly think that Joe wasn't a pussy-hound at 24, but only later became one when he married his first polygamist wife, Fanny Alger, sometime around 1836? I can tell you from the perspective of a man that's currently in the age range when the somewhat newlywed Joe might have been fooling around with the Stowell girls that it simply doesn't happen that way. The drive is always there, and it doesn't increase the older I get. I'm willing to put my chips on the more controversial side of the claims here. If Joe didn't actually mess around with these girls, I'm willing to bet that he was at very least flirtatious with them, and they probably were a little flirty back. I don't know if I would go as far as claiming that these girls may have been Joe's first threesome, because what guy doesn't dream of having a threesome when he's 24? I'm willing to bet that goes for straight and gay guys alike. There really isn't any way of determining that Joe did indeed go that far while being a married man, but it sure is fun to fantasize about as an ex-Mormon that used to hold so much reverence for this man and his manufactured piety.
Moving right along, unfortunately we don't have the actual original transcript from this trial. What we do have is an abridged copy that was published in a newspaper less than a year after the actual occurrence. Let's cover this account. It includes a bunch of stuff that isn't in the History of the Church version, and pretty much includes none of what the history of the church version has. The only way we know that these accounts are even of the same trial is because the dates, charges, and some of the names match up. I'm inclined to believe that both of them are fairly accurate accounts, just incomplete in different places for different reasons.
This is pulled from user.xmission.com, and I'll include the link to the webpage in the show notes.
“Abram Willard Benton of South Bainbridge, New York, wrote:
This trial led to an investigation of his [Joseph Smith Jr.'s]
character and conduct, which clearly evinced to the unprejudiced, whence
the spirit came which dictated his inspirations. During the trial it was
shown that the Book of Mormon was brought to light by the same magic
power by which he pretended to tell fortunes, discover hidden treasures,
&c. Oliver Cowdrey, one of the three witnesses to the book, testified
under oath, that said Smith found with the plates, from which he
translated his book, two transparent stones, resembling glass, set in
silver bows. That by looking through these, he was able to read in
English, the reformed Egyptian characters, which were engraved on the
So much for the gift and power of God, by which Smith says he translated his book. Two transparent stones, undoubtedly of the same properties, and the gift of the same spirit as the one in which he looked to find his neighbor's goods. It is reported, and probably true, that he commenced his juggling by stealing and hiding property belonging to his neighbors, and when inquiry was made, he would look in his stone, (his gift and power) and tell where it was. Josiah Stowell, a Mormonite, being sworn, testified that he positively knew that said Smith never had lied to, or deceived him, and did not believe he ever tried to deceive anybody else. The following questions were then asked him, to which he made the replies annexed.
Did Smith ever tell you there was money hid in a certain place which he mentioned? Yes. Did he tell you, you could find it by digging? Yes. Did you dig? Yes. Did you find any money? No. Did he not lie to you then, and deceive you? No! the money was there, but we did not get quite to it! How do you know it was there? Smith said it was! Addison Austin was next called upon, who testified, that at the very same time that Stowell was digging for money, he, Austin, was in company with said Smith alone, and asked him to tell him honestly whether he could see this money or not. Smith hesitated some time, but finally replied, "to be candid, between you and me, I cannot, any more than you or any body else; but any way to get a living." Here, then, we have his own confession, that he was a vile, dishonest impostor. As regards the testimony of Josiah Stowell, it needs no comment. He swore positively that Smith did not lie to him. So much for a Mormon witness. Paramount to this, in truth and consistency, was the testimony of Joseph Knight, another Mormonite. Newel Knight, son of the former, and also a Mormonite, testified, under oath, that he positively had a devil cast out of himself by the instrumentality of Joseph Smith, jr., and that he saw the devil after it was out, but could not tell how it looked!
[Abram W. Benton], "Mormonites," Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate (Utica, New York) (April 9, 1831): 120”
There was plenty of interesting information in there that was completely omitted from the officially recounted version by Joseph. I wonder why Joe would only include stuff that made him look like an honest guy. What's more, I wonder why this local magazine would include testimonies that were explicitly damning to the character of Joseph Smith, and just write off the positive testimonies as almost uselessly biased because they come from Mormons. Well, that's what we do on this show. Bring both sides to the table and see what makes the most sense. Hopefully there's some little nugget of truth hidden in these two different accounts. But before trying to summarize it all together and see what can be distilled from the information, we need to include the other trial. Almost forgot about it didn't ya?
Joe hadn't even left South Bainbridge yet, and he was arrested by constable Ebenezer Hatch for an arrest warrant issued by Joel K. Noble, for a complaint filed by Samuel Dickenson against Joe, once again for being a disorderly person. Let's read the Church history version of this trial and compare it with the much more complete secondary account of it that was copied directly from the docket book of Joel K. Noble.
We have a bit of reading ahead of us, but, like usual, the more we read, the more we begin to see into the personality of the person writing, or in Joe's case dictating the writing to be written by Ollie or John Whitmer. I'm all about jumping in and out of the mind of Joe whenever we can, and I think this reading is extremely telling about Joe's perspective of the situation.
“The Prophet's Second Arrest.
The constable who served this second warrant upon me had no sooner arrested me than he began to abuse and insult me; and so unfeeling was he with me, that although I had been kept all the day in court without anything to eat since the morning, yet he hurried me off to Broome county, a distance of about fifteen miles, before he allowed me any kind of food whatever. He took me to a tavern, and gathered in a number of men, who used every means to abuse, ridicule and insult me. They spit up on me, pointed their fingers at me, saying, "Prophesy, prophesy!" and thus did they imitate those who crucified the Savior of mankind, not knowing what they did.
We were at this time not far distant from my own house. I wished to be allowed the privilege of spending the night with my wife at home, offering any wished for security for my appearance; but this was denied me. I applied for something to eat. The constable ordered me some crusts of bread and water, which was the only food I that night received. At length we retired to bed. The constable made me lie next the wall. He then laid himself down by me and put his arm around me, and upon my moving in the least, would clench me fast, fearing that I intended to escape from him; and in this very disagreeable manner did we pass the night.
The Second Trial.
Next day I was brought before the magistrate's court at Colesville, Broome county, and put upon my trial. My former faithful friends and lawyers were again at my side; my former persecutors were arrayed against me. Many witnesses were again called forward and examined, some of whom swore to the most palpable falsehoods, and like the false witnesses which had appeared against me the day previous, they contradicted themselves so plainly that the court would not admit their testimony. Others were called, who showed by their zeal that they were willing enough to prove something against me, but all they could do was to tell something which somebody else had told them.
Newel Knight vs. Lawyer Seymour.
In this frivolous and vexatious manner did they proceed for a considerable time, when, finally, Newel Knight was called up and examined by Lawyer Seymour, who had been especially sent for on this occasion. One Lawyer Burch, also, was on the side of the prosecution; but Mr. Seymour seemed to be a more zealous Presbyterian, and appeared very anxious and determined that the people should not be deluded by any one professing the power of godliness, and not "denying the power thereof."
Mr. Knight was sworn, and Mr. Seymour interrogated him as follows:
"Did the prisoner, Joseph Smith, Jun., cast the devil out of you?"
"Why, have not you had the devil cast out of you?"
"And had not Joe Smith some hand in its being done?"
"And did not he cast him out of you?"
"No, sir; it was done by the power of God, and Joseph Smith was the instrument in the hands of God, on the occasion. He commanded him to come out of me in the name of Jesus Christ."
"And are you sure that it was the devil?"
"Did you see him after he was cast out of you?"
"Yes sir! I saw him."
"Pray, what did he look like?"
[Here one of my lawyers informed the witness that he need not answer the question.] The witness replied:
"I believe I need not answer your last question, but I will do it, provided I be allowed to ask you one question first, and you answer me, viz., Do you, Mr. Seymour, understand the things of the spirit?
"No," answered Mr. Seymour, "I do not pretend to such big things."
"Well, then," replied Knight, "it would be of no use to tell you what the devil looked like, for it was a spiritual sight, and spiritually discerned; and of course you would not understand it were I to tell you of it.
The lawyer dropped his head, whilst the loud laugh of the audience proclaimed his discomfiture.
Plea for the State.
Mr. Seymour now addressed the court, and in a long and violent harangue endeavored to blacken my character and bring me in guilt of the charges which had been brought against me. Among other things, he brought up the story of my having been a money-digger; and in this manner proceeded, hoping evidently to influence the court and the people against me.
Plea for the Defendant.
Mr. Davidson and Mr. Reid followed on my be behalf. They held forth in true colors the nature of the prosecution, the malignancy of intention, and the apparent disposition to persecute their client, rather than to afford him justice. They took up the different arguments which had been brought by the lawyers for the prosecution, and having shown their utter futility and misapplication, then proceeded to scrutinize the evidence which had been adduced, and each, in his turn, thanked God that he had been engaged in so good a cause as that of defending a man whose character stood so well the test of such a strict investigation. In fact, these men, although not regular lawyers, were upon this occasion able to put to silence their opponents, and convince the court that I was innocent. They spoke like men inspired of God, whilst those who were arrayed against me trembled under the sound of their voices, and quailed before them like criminals before a bar of justice.”
Before summing this all up, let's hear what the justices account was like from his docket. This is the second part on the same page of the link I said I would include in the show notes. So if you're wanting to see these non-mormon accounts of both trials, check the show notes for the link. This reading is a little longer than the one we just read, but I think it really sheds a lot of light on the situation, being a legitimate court document and whatnot. A little bit of bias shines through with a couple of the lines or questions, however, it's nowhere near as biased as Joe's account of the situation, and it doesn't seem to omit any important information from what I can tell. Needless to say, this source is a fair amount more reliable that Joe's source. It's recounted 2 years after the actual situation, which is kind of a bummer, but it is a direct copy from the actual original document, meaning it's extremely trustworthy as an accurate historical document. Besides, that 2 years is nothing compared to 8 years after the fact, which is what we've been reading this whole time with every entry from the history of the church.
Just so you're prepared, it starts off as the newspaper article, with a heavy anti-Mormon slant from the reporter, but it gets to the actual document we're interested in fairly soon.
“"Mormonism," *_New England Christian Herald, _*4 (November 7, 1832):22-23, Boston, Massachusetts, emphasis retained.
We have before noticed the bare-faced and outrageous delusion abroad in
the country, under the name of Mormonism; and though it is so shocking
to common sense, to reflect upon such a silly, and egregiously absurd,
though wicked system, yet the public mind ought to be informed of every
circumstance connected with the history of these deceivers and
disturbers of good order and decency. We understand that Smith is now in
this city, or has been within a few days; and a Christian community
ought to arise, and thrust him back to the den of his ignominy. A friend
has requested us to insert the following account of the trial of Joseph
Smith, Jr., for a breach of the peace, in "looking through a certain
stone to find hid treasures, &c." The account was published in the
Boston Christian Herald, some few weeks since; and the editor
"Our readers are probably acquainted with the origin of this sect and their Bible; and that two of the Mormonite preachers have visited this city, and made a number of proselytes. Joseph Smith, Jr. is the founder; "a bare-faced imposter, his moral character of the darkest hue, his name a derision, shunned by all decent society, and disowned by his pious father-in-law." He has associated with himself, characters, though of less intellect, yet equally base and profligate, and for some years have been practising upon the credulity of the weak. Many have been *_swindled _*out of their property by these false prophets-let others take warning.
We extract the following from a letter written by a gentleman in Windsor, Broome Co., N. Y., acquainted with Smith, and entitled to confidence, to his friend in this city, dated August 30, 1832.
"It is more difficult to obtain information of this kind than one would
think, other than hearsay. The fact that J. Smith, Jr., and others, dug
in various places for money, is easily proved; at the great bend or near
there, that there was a company digging part of two years could be
easily proved;-but that Smith said that there was money buried there by
some Spaniards could not be so easily proved, though it is generally
believed; and also that toward the last of the digging there, he sold
out shares in the treasure to as many as he could, and when he quit
digging, said that the money had sunk down to a great depth. I have seen
a hole eight or ten feet deep, on the creek back of Captain Waller's,
where it was said Smith said there was treasure. On Monument Hill near
to what is called "The Monument," there is a hole dug 25 or 30 feet
deep, where it is said Smith said that two veins of gold crossed each
other as large as a barrel. On Mr. Samuel Stowe(ll)'s flat, a hole was
dug one night and filled again, and Smith was said to be one of the
number. I might mention a hole on the back side of the hill over the
river against where I live, and other places, if it were necessary; but
I called on several persons to gain what information I could. The most I could get was hearsay.-Among others, I called on Mr. William Devenport, who went out with the Mormons to Ohio-and has since returned. He says that he bore his own expenses out, but was often importuned by their leader to put his money into the common stock, and was told, that those who did not would be struck dead the moment they arrived on the promised land-like Ananias and Sapphira. He said that the only object of the leaders was in this, to get the money into their own hands and keep it. He mentioned a widow Peck of Bainbridge, who, he said, paid in $500 and went with them; but could not get a cent on the way to procure something for a sick child. Said that he lived between two and three miles from where they settled in Ohio, and that Smith had a new commandment every few days through the summer, a year ago, and that last summer he thought there was not a fortnight in which he did not have a new commandment. Smith pretended to go into the woods and converse with the Almighty. Mr. Devenport said he had lately received a letter from William Youman's widow, who went out with the Mormons, and had since left them and got married, stating that a Mr. Rigdon, or a name that sounded like it, their principal preacher under Smith, said lately that the Mormon religion was not true, and in consequence had been silenced by Smith. Enclosed I send you some testimony taken on trial in Colesville. Several offered to testify to what N. Knight had said of Smith's casting a devil out of him; some thought he had returned and would seem to allude to the unclean spirit mentioned in the Gospels."
“The following is the report of the trial forwarded by the writer above, and referred to in the letter:
STATE OF NEW YORK, } JOEL K. NOBLE,
BROOME COUNTY, SS. } Justice.
The People, }
vs. } Samuel Dickenson,
Joseph Smith, jr. } Complainant.
The defendant was brought before me by virtue of a warrant on the 30th day of June, A. D. 1830, on a charge "that he, the said Joseph Smith, Jr., had been guilty of a breach of the peace, against the good people of the state of New York, by looking through a certain stone to find hid treasures, &c., within the Statute of Limitation.
To the charge, the defendant plead not guilty. At the instance of the people, *_Joseph A. S. Austin _*was by me duly sworn, and says "that he had been acquainted with Smith, the prisoner, for several years; that prisoner pretended to look in a certain glass, or stone, and said he could tell where stolen goods were, and could discover mines of gold and silver under ground; made some pretence at telling fortunes, but he, witness, never knew of prisoner's finding any thing by his pretended art. Once witness asked prisoner to tell him if he, prisoner, could tell any thing by looking in said glass, and wished a candid and true answer. Prisoner told witness frankly, he could not see any thing, and in answer, prisoner likewise observed to witness, *_any thing you know for a living: _*says, two years before this present time, he saw prisoner drink a certain quantity of distilled liquor, and was drunk, as he does believe; for he could not stand up, but lay in the woods for some hours.
*_Harris Stowel, _*being by me sworn, saith, "he has been acquainted with the prisoner for a number of years past; that prisoner said he could look in a certain stone or glass, and could tell where money and hid treasures were, and could tell where gold and silver mines, and salt springs were; and that Smith, the prisoner, the *_pretended prophet and money digger, _*had followed digging for money, for salt, and for gold and silver mines for a number of years; that others, by his instigation, had followed digging; that at one time, witness hid a bag of grain in his barn, told Smith he had lost a bag of grain, and wished prisoner to find it; prisoner looked in his glass in vain, for he could not find it; prisoner, after using all his art for a number of days, offered to give witness' brother fifty cents (so his brother told witness,) to find where the grain was, and tell him, prisoner, unbeknown to witness, so that Smith, the prisoner, might have the credit of finding the grain."
Cross questions-says, he has not known the prisoner to look in the glass within the space of two years last past.
*_Josiah Stowel, _*being by me sworn, saith, he has been acquainted with Smith, the prisoner, for quite a number of years; that he did pretend to tell, by looking in a stone, or glass, where money and goods and mines were in a manner peculiar to himself; the prisoner had followed digging for money; pretended to find mines, hid treasures, and lost goods, and frequently others would be digging with him; says that about three years since, prisoner was put under arrest by an officer at Bainbridge in Chenango county, for breaking the peace, and that he escaped from the officer and went to Palmyra; and that about two years since, witness was at Palmyra, and saw prisoner; that prisoner told witness, that the *_Lord had told prisoner that a golden Bible _*was in a certain hill; that Smith, the prisoner, went in the night, and brought the Bible, (as Smith said;) witness saw a corner of it; it resembled a stone of a greenish caste; should judge it to have been about one foot square and six inches thick; he would not let it be seen by any one; the Lord had commanded him not; it was unknown to Smith, that witness saw a corner of the Bible, so called by Smith; told the witness the leaves were of gold; there were written characters on the leaves; prisoner was commanded to translate the same by the Lord; and from the Bible got from the hill, as aforesaid, the prisoner said he translated the book of Mormon; prisoner put a certain stone into his hat, put his face into the crown, then drew the brim of the hat around his head to prevent light-he could then see, as prisoner said, and translate the same, the Bible, got from the hill in Palmyra, at the same time under a lock and in a chest; and the prisoner, when looking for money, salt springs, hid treasures, &c., looked in the same manner; did not know that prisoner could find money lost, &c.; and that prisoner told witness after he was arrested in Bainbridge, he would not look for money, &c. any more; told witness he could see into the earth forty or fifty feet," &c.
*_Newel Knights, _*sworn, saith, "prisoner could see in a stone as stated by Stowel; that formerly he looked for money, &c., but latterly he had become holy, was a true preacher of the Gospel of Christ, possessed the power of casting out devils; he knew it to be a fact, that he, (Smith, the prisoner,) had cast a devil from him, (witness,) in manner following, viz. witness was in mind impressed; he and Smith did conclude and knew the devil was in witness; they joined hands, their faith became united, the devil went out of witness; witness knew it to be a fact, for he saw the devil *_as he departed; _*Smith did it by the *_power _*of God," &c.
A true copy from minutes taken by me on the trial.
JOEL K. NOBLE, J. Peace.
*_Dated, Colesville, _*Aug. 28, 1832.
*_Joseph Smith, jr. _*was discharged; he had not looked in the glass for two years to find money; &c.,-hence it was outlawed.”
There's just a couple of things to talk about in this. I seem to ask this question in one form or another almost every episode. Why is the Mormon version of Mormon history so different from other versions of Mormon history? I seem to harp on this point, but there are inconsistencies with what we read, to the point that some contradictions in perspective can't be easily reconciled.
In the recorded Mormon history, Joe is always some kind of noble hero that's so despised by everybody he comes in contact with. Well, everybody that didn't join his church anyway. Such a polarizing individual, you really wonder what it was about him that made people so desperately love him, or so violently despise him. I mean, the church that I know is a fair amount different than what Joe started up, primarily because the prophets now days are such white bread in warm milk compared to Joe. If I could meet a person like Joe today, it might be tough to resist falling into one of the similar bi-polar categories. He was exciting, charismatic, attention grabbing, smooth, and intelligent. He knew the basic Jesus speak of taking up your cross, or calling people to repentance, and that gave him a level of legitimacy that few others could attain like he did. But this same personality type, has it's downsides. He was very megalomaniacal, and ego-centric. He thought of himself, and rarely considered other people's perspective on his actions. He pretty much did whatever he wanted, and he had the eloquence to make it all seem okay, or to make people that he was fucking over, come to his defense in times of need. This was born out with the testimonies that Joe gave from these two court appearances.
The only perspectives that Joe included in his own history, were those of confirmation of his divinity or piety in some way. Joe tried to portray himself as so much more than a man who ran a church. That same attitude is reflected throughout the church today, they still white-wash the history to try and take the venom out of the more damning pieces of history. Well, this does a huge disservice to believing members of the church. The members should be trusted to learn the truth, and make a decision themselves, based on the truth claims of both sides, and how close they match reality. The church is treating it's members as somehow incapable of judging the information for themselves, and making a rational decision. That's one thing that bothers me so much about the church, and why I decided to do this podcast. I didn't want to be treated dumb anymore. I didn't want to feel like there was something that the church had to hide from me, for fear of losing my attendance.
Whenever things like these legal trials are brought up, believers love to write it off by saying something along the lines of “Well, Joseph Smith was a man, and he had temptations and problems just like the rest of us”. I don't deny that, in fact, we don't talk about these problematic historical things, just to bring Joe down to a human level, we talk about them because they're relevant. I want as clear of a picture of Joseph Smith as possible. If these trials were for something unrelated to Joe's church and doctrine, like public drunkenness and indecency, I would pay a lot less attention to them. I mean, who hasn't woken up naked in an alley after a long night of drinking before. Nobody is exempt from being a human and doing human stuff, but that's not what these trials were about. The definition is fairly broad when the legal term is “disorderly person”, but when we learn of the local's opinions of Joe, and reflect it with the questions and testimonies given, it's easy to understand the scope of the legal violation that Joe was being sued for. Joe used his pet rock Precious in Mr. Hat to help people find things they were looking for. He would even go as far as taking something from somebody, hiding it, and telling them that he could find it with his precious seer stone if they just gave him a few shillings for his work. In Bossman Josiah Stowell's case, Joe buried a feather in the ground, and told Bossman Joe that he saw treasure and a feather buried using his stone. When they dug into the ground where Joe had marked off, and usually performed some kind of ritual, they found the planted feather, but no treasure. Joe clearly used this rock in hat trick to swindle people out of a living wage for his teenage to young adult years.
The damning implication attached to this practice, was how Joe translated the Book of Mormon. I get so sick of people saying that him being convicted of fraud for glass looking, or seer stoning, or being a disorderly person, has nothing to do with him being a prophet of god. He translated the fucking Book of Mormon the same way he swindled these people. Does that mean nothing? Is there really no connection there? Once you read the BoM with a skeptical eye, and fact check the little freak of a holy book for one goddamn chapter, it's so easy to see that it was brought about by a single person with a very limited understanding of Biblical Christianity, and a child's comprehension of how the world works around them. Joe was such a fraud that it hurts. It's actually makes my brain hurt when people call this man a holy prophet, when his prophesy method was the same failed method that he used to look for BURIED MUTHAFUCKIN TREASURE!! It shouldn't be hard to knock the structure of every true blue believing Mormon's belief, right off it's foundation. If we can prove that the primary mover behind the Mormon religion was everything that Joe was, our work is done. Unlike normal Christianity that can sort of survive without the bible, Mormonism cannot survive without Joe and the Book of Mormon. It's disgustingly false, and we can prove that as a fact, more so than most other world religions.
This past week has been quite a party on the Naked Mormonism facebook page. I'm sure that some, if not, most listeners are aware of the recent revelation by the church. They posted pictures of the supposed seer stone that we've come to lovingly know as Precious. I recommend checking out the facebook page to see the posts, but if you aren't much of a facebooker, I'll find the original article from the Salt Lake Tribune and link it in the show notes. Personally, I fucking love it. The rock is beautiful, and it fits most descriptions by the Chase brothers, Peter Ingersoll, and others. Small brown rock, egg shaped, smooth, but, unfortunately, there isn't any way of knowing for certain that this is actually precious. I remember watching a video of a talk by Grant Palmer when I first started my research into Mormon history. He tells about himself being a young man in the church, and having access to things that most young men don't at that age. I believe it was just after his mission that he went into the church archive room, this was sometime in the 70's maybe, and there he saw multiple rocks that the church had. Most of them were claimed as being Joe's during different times in his life, but if I remember correctly, there were also stones from other church leaders in the group. I watched the video a long time ago, so I'll try to find it and include a link to it in the notes. But I do remember hearing him say that, and my mind just fucking exploded. It was like the church knows about these rocks, and doesn't show anybody except for the most worthy historians, the ones they deem worthy anyway. Palmer having that experience was a once in a lifetime kind of thing, and he didn't think much of it when it happened. He just thought they were some cool rocks that Joe had, he didn't realize that there was so much story behind them, and they had been used for so much in the church's past. I'm pretty envious of his experience to be honest, but it makes me so curious about what else is locked in the catacombs of the Mormon history department.
If we look at this in the grand scheme of things, this was a very lame and unexciting revelation by the church. We've known since the beginning of the church that Joe used seer stones to “translate” the Book of Mormon, or give many of his various revelations that are now contained in the Doctrine and Covenants. It only took the church 171 years after Joe's death to come clean on this terribly menial detail in their history. What bothers me so much about it, is the articles surrounding it. The church never explicitly comes by the connection between this stone, and all of Joe's swindling shenanigans, honestly. They just took pictures of the stone, and said this is the stone Joe used to search for buried treasure during his youth, and they stop there. They never talk about how the same technique was used for finding the gold plates, just with different stones, nor do they explicitly draw the connection to the actual translating of the BoM. The church tends to give one little inch of their doctrine and history once they're pushed up against a wall on it. I have yet to see a single historical revelation given by the church that would drastically change historians perspective of the church in some way. Releasing these pictures is directly in line with what the church has always done. We know something exists in it's history. Then, we inquire about it, and the church directly denies it. Once the facts are too strong to deny, the church becomes silent on the topic. Then people that know about this hypothetical thing we're talking about keep pushing, and the church quietly releases a document that somehow rationalizes and justifies that piece of history, and puts their own spin on it. Like I said, releasing these photos this long after the fact is directly in line with what the church has always done.
In the grand scheme of things, I couldn't really give half a fuck about the church coming by this honestly. I mean, the rock is cool looking, and it's nice to be able to put a mental picture to the name Precious, but really, this doesn't mean shit. We've known forever that Joe was using a rock like this for all his fun and games, the church was just nice enough to catch up with the times and come by it semi-honestly. What I want to know is what the fuck does the church have that we don't know about, that has some real impact on their history? Why won't they let any historians traipse around in their basement for their dirty laundry? If the church is indeed true, than whatever is in it's history should serve to bolster the faith of it's members, and bring questioning people into the fold with complete rational resolve. But, for some reason, they still refuse to do so. If nothing else, the suppression of knowledge should be reason enough to abandon this multi-billion dollar conglomeration. But I suppose that's just my opinion.
Preston T. Wilkins, known by me to be the same person, and being by me
duly sworn, saith, that Newel Knights did style himself a *_prophet of
the Lord, _*and was ordained by Joseph Smith, Jr., the pretended author
of the book of Mormon, as the said Newel told him, this deponent, and
this deponent understood so by others, that the said Newel was so
ordained; that the said Newel told this deponent he knew past, present
and future; that in order to ascertain the prophetic ability of the said
Newel, the deponent went and took from the father of said Newel, a
Mormon Bible, (so called) unbeknown to any one, as this deponent
believes, and buried it under his own door-step (witnesses); in the
morning the book was found; this deponent went to the aforesaid Newel,
told him the mystery that had happened; the said Newel and father told
this deponent it did not come from this package of books; they counted
them and were certain, as they said; the aforesaid Newel told this
deponent that God told him, the said Newel, that he had sent his angel
to put the book on the door-step, to convince him, this deponent, of the
truth of the Mormon book, as also to warn him to flee from the impending
PRESTON T. WILKINS.
Subscribed and sworn before me, this 28th day of August, 1832.
JOEL K. NOBLE, J. P.
A true copy from the original affidavit on file in my office. J. K. NOBLE.
*_Colesville, _*Aug. 28, 1832.
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