Ep 23 – Joe the Firefighter
On this episode, we start out by looking at the actual events surrounding Hiram Page's revelation about the location of Zion. Joe has to rein everybody back in, and put out fires just to keep some semblance of control. We are introduced to our three newest characters in the timeline: Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, and Ziba Peterson.
Outro music used with permission
History of Mormonism "Ask a Mormon"
Parley P. Pratt
ZIBA PETERSON: FROM MISSIONARY TO HANGING SHERIFF. H. Dean Garrett.
AoA Beyond the Trailer Park Episode 41 - Even More Mormon Mania https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuU14uc6PlU
Evil Twin Podcast
Parley P. Pratt (P cubed)
Ziba Peterson (Zyban)
Orson Pratt (Brain-Power)
Welcome to Episode 23 of the Naked Mormonism Podcast, my name is Bryce Blankenagel, and thank you for joining me. Last episode was an extremely enjoyable and informative discussion with Author David Fitzgerald. Once again I will reiterate, please check out his books "Nailed, Ten Christian Myths that show Jesus Never Existed", and of course his amazing book for all Mormon history enthusiasts, "The Complete Heretics Guide to Western Religion, Book One: The Mormons". Both books are very well written, and present a lot of good arguments and facts. I cannot recommend them highly enough, and once again, thank you David for coming on and having such a scintillating conversation about everything Mormonism, and a little bit of Jesus.
Now let's move on to the regular timeline and historical analysis. Last historical episode, we started out talking about Joe's 2 1830 trials, and the fallout from them. He was hated and "persecuted" by seemingly every person in Colesville, and he could no longer step foot in the town without being chased out. Next we covered Joe's shitlist of so called persecutors. He listed the names of Cyrus McMaster, the celebrated Dr. Nathan Boynton, and Abraham Benton. Basically, when we boiled it down, these people were members of the same Presbyterian church that Bossman Josiah Stowell was a part of, and most of them had close family ties. That's why they brought up the lawsuits against Joe, and his swindling tactics, all on behalf of Bossman Josiah Stowell. Once we covered all of the familial and societal connections among all these relevant people, we deconstructed the Mormon side of the argument to explain the evidence, as opposed to the non, or anti-Mormon side of the argument. In my mind, the non-Mormon explanation seemed to encapsulate the evidence much better than the Mormon side. The Mormon side said that Joe was a real prophet of God, and was being persecuted for his divinity claims. The anti-Mormon side said that He was a two-timing, bold-faced, unapologetic, lying scoundrel with misplaced delusions of grandeur, and the locals hated him for it. Like I said, from the picture we're constructing of Joseph Smith, the non-Mormon version of this charismatic genius seems to fill the historical void, much better than the Mormon side.
After talking about the so-called "persecution" of Joe, we moved on to talk about his very first revelation that would be included in the Pearl of Great Price, chapter one + of the Book of Moses. This lead us into the argument that Joe was perhaps the biggest offender of taking the Lord's name in vain, since the biblical Jesus himself. Joe wasn't cursing things using curse words with God in them like "Fuck Jesus in the Ass with a 3 iron", he was speaking in the name of God, as God's mouthpiece, issuing revelations on behalf of god. This is exactly what the 10 commandments strongly abhor when they say "Thou shalt not take the name of YahWeh in Vain". Well, Joe wouldn't be constrained to biblical commands, or even care about bible scholarship or knowledge, even though he was supposedly called to be a prophet, by that same God as described in the Bible.
After deconstructing how much Joe doesn't give half of two shits about the bible, or the God of the bible, we talked about Joe's newest revelation, hot off the press. He basically gave Ollie Cowdung Allover Cowdery a revelation to continue in his service of the church, and get his argumentative ass to Colesville to baptize the new converts there, because Joe was totally covering his ass with his tail firmly tucked between his legs, and was waaaay to scared to go back. Among these revelations to Ollie and others, Joe made a fatal mistake in Ollie's opinion. Joe said that he would have no strength for temporal labors, and that the church would support him and Emma, which was in direct conflict with the commandments against priestcraft in the Book of Mormon. Ollie didn't like this, and went to the Whitmer house in Fayette, N.Y., instead of going to Colesville. There, Ollie convinced all of the Whitmers to rally against Joe because he had just given a false revelation. Apparently Ollie had forgotten about the trips up to Canada to sell the copyright of the BoM. If we remember back, Joe gave Ollie, and some others, revelation saying they would be able to sell the copyright for $8k. Well, the revelation failed multiple times, and Joe was able to rationalize it away by saying something along the lines of, some revelations are from God, some are from the Devil, and some are from man, which was a preemptive catch all clause for any fuck ups that Joe made in his revelations from then on. Well, when Joe gave the revelation that priestcraft (making money from the church) was now okay, just so he didn't have to worry about working an honest job, or honest wage anymore, Ollie was EXTREMELY offended. So, he turned the Whitmers against Joe. Joe had to win back the family by first petitioning the weakest chink in the armor, Christian Whitmer. Christian eventually came around to Joe's way of rationalizing away the contradiction, and the rest of the Whitmer family slowly followed. This was the newest peak of Joe's amazing charisma, saving his ass from certain mutiny.
We finished out the episode talking about Ollie's chiding letter to Joe about the priestcraft contradiction pulled from the history of the church, vol. 1. I personally think this was Oliver Cowdery's first attempt at usurping Joe's holy crown atop the mantle the BoM rocketed him to. This wouldn't be the last time that Ollie tried to take what he thought was rightfully his, but it was one of the first times that we know of him standing up to Joe. Ollie finally grew a spine to stand up to Joe with, and Joe broke that spine, by sneaking back in and snatching the Whitmers up, one-by-one, and beating Ollie down with progressively more dominating revelations. This power dynamic will become quite familiar for a while, until Ollie finally has enough of Joe's relentless bullshit, and snaps.
Alright, that's enough of a roundup, let's move on to today's episode. We're going to start off by covering something that we've already talked about, only in much greater detail and context. Let's get the context out of the way.
After Joe went to Fayette, N.Y., to reconvince the Whitmers that he was totally for realsies, and Ollie was wrong, Joe decided to go back home to Harmony, PA. John, and David Whitmer tagged along, and there, in Harmony, Joe met with Newell Knight and his wife to take care of some business. It occurred to Joe, and Newell, that Emma, and Newell's wife, hadn't been confirmed into the church. They had been baptized, but not confirmed during a congregation of the church. Well, Joe decided in Early August of 1830 that it was finally time to confirm them, even though Emma had been baptized more than a month before. Of course, for this confirmation to be official, they needed to perform a sacrament ceremony. Well, this brought up an issue. Joe didn't have any wine to use for the ceremony, so he ran on an errand to get some. Presumably at this time, Joe didn't have the money for a bottle of middle aged housewife happy-juice, so he just went wandering until a convenient revelation spontaneously struck him. This later comprised the Book of Commandments, chapter 28.
I'll just read the first three verses here.
"Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Lord, your God, and your Redeemer, whose word is quick and powerful.
2 For, behold, I say unto you, that it mattereth not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory;
3 Remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins."
This is how Joe got out of buying that expensive bottle of wine back then, and how the church today gets out of buying barrels of wine for every congregation to take sacrament with today. Like I said, this was convenient revelation that Joe just magically shit out of Mr. Hat, at the most opportune time. He kind of had a habit for doing that.
This was just a small aside to move us into the next problem that Joe and company ran into, and it was in Harmony. Well, can you guess what happened? You got it... PERSECUTION!!! According to Joe in the History of the church vol. 1, there was a Methodist minister that starting coming around the Hale farm, in Harmony, and smack talking Joe. Joe didn't even give us his name, but I would make a wild guess that it was the same minister that was over the same Methodist congregation that Joe attended with Emma, right after his kid died in June of 1828. This is just my speculation because we're taking this out of Joe's dictated History of the Church, and he's setting the narrative for us here, but I would be willing to bet that this was the same Methodist minister.
Let's face it, Joe was having a rough patch in his life when his and Emma's first son died a few days after childbirth. We know that he went to a Methodist congregation in or near Harmony after this tragedy, and it's not a huge jump in logic to conclude that they both sought counselling with the minister after the whole thing went down. This minister might have picked up on a few queues that Joe was planning on starting his own religion. By now in our timeline, the minister probably caught wind that Joe had published his own book, and he probably went to the Hale farm to talk some sense into the Hale family. I'm willing to bet that this minister didn't want to see the entire Hale family dwindle in unbelief like the Whitmer family had done once they bought into Joe's snake oil. He probably didn't want to lose any more of his herd to the ravenous wolf that was Joseph Smith, and therefore, took it upon himself to convince the Hales, and anybody else he could, that Joe was, indeed, a wolf in seer stoner's clothing. But, like I said, I don't know if there is anything backing up this connection, so it is just my speculation. The only reason I mention it, is to draw an earlier connection to Joe with these people that were "persecuting" him.
Well, this persecution led to Joe's undoing in Harmony, because the Hale's were finally fed up with Joe's incessant bullshit. Isaac basically told Joe that the Hale farm would no longer be a safe haven for Joe's base of operations, and he needed to pay up on his mortgage note. I would assume that the local members of this same Methodist congregation were getting fired up about Joe too, which was just one more added pressure. So, Joe and company decided to jump ship, and move to Fayette, but not without trying another stab at Colesville. According to Joe, something pretty miraculous happens here. I'll just read this straight from the History of the Church vol. 1 page 108. Before doing so, I need to mention that Ollie was still up in Fayette overseeing church activities, and was basically running the church for himself in Joe's absence. The last time Ollie did this, Joe had to go to Fayette on a special trip to put out the fire, and slowly convince the Whitmer's one-by-one that he was super dee duper legit. Well, Ollie had been running the Fayette congregation for a month and a half by himself. We'll get to the problems that created very soon.
Let's go to History of the Church Vol.1
"Towards the latter end of August, in company with John and David Whitmer, and my brother Hyrum Smith, I visited the Church at Colesville, N.Y. Well knowing that the determined hostility of our enemies in that quarter, and also knowing that it was our duty to visit the Church, we had called upon our Heavenly Father, in mighty prayer, that He would grant us an opportunity of meeting with them, that he would blind the eyes of our enemies, so that they would not know us, and that we might on this occasion return unmolested. Our prayers were not in vain, for when within a little distance of Mr. Knight's place, we encountered a large company at work upon the public road, amongst whom were several of our most bitter enemies. They looked earnest at us, but not knowing us, we passed on without interruption. That evening we assembled the Church, and confirmed them, partook of the Sacrament, and held a happy meeting, having much reason to rejoice in the God of our salvation, and sing hosannas to His holy name."
According to Joe, he prayed to God that he would be able to travel through Colesville without being recognized or lynched, like some Nephi-Laban Mormon faceshifting superpower shit. When they got there, the people that saw him walking down the street, apparently stared him down. But somehow, even though the people saw him, Joe thought they didn't recognize him. It wasn't because they were all too stunned to see him there, daring to walk down the street, it was just because they didn't recognized the person they were trying to lynch, after the long month since Joe had been there last. Well, apparently the townspeople got a clue pretty quickly, because they organized the mob once again to chase Joe out of town. Luckily for Joe, he was only in Colesville for a day, and the mob showed up too late to do anything to him, he was already making his way back down the road for a quick stop in Harmony.
Once Joe and company were back in Harmony, Joseph Knight Sr. Came along to their rescue. You see, Joe didn't need to visit Colesville for the single purpose of confirming the people there, he also made the trip to petition the help of an old friend. So, Joseph Knight Sr. Arrived in Harmony a few days after Joe and company had arrived, for the simple purpose of moving Joe and Emma back up to Fayette. They were no longer welcome in Harmony, and Joe had fallen way too far behind on his morgage note to Isaac Hale, so they were effectively kicked out. This would be the second time that Joe and Emma would move from Harmony to Fayette, thanks primarily to the actions of Joe's father in law, Isaac. Like I've said before, Isaac REAAAALY hated Joe....
So Joe and Emma, and presumably everybody else that was hanging out with them, make it to Fayette on Joseph Knight Sr.'s dime, and Joe arrives to a mess in the congregation. Maybe not so much of a mess, as yet another fire he had to put out to resume his control. Remember how I said earlier that Ollie had been running the Fayette congregation for a while all by himself? I also said that it created some problems, thus the fire that Joe would either quell, or be consumed by.
We talked about Hiram Page's revelation quite some time ago, but now we have the context built in, leading up to the situation. Joe had been absent from the Fayette congregation for long enough that they were relying on each other's powers of prophecy to advance the church toward it's end game. What was the endgame you might ask. Well, Mormonism is a restorationist, or Zionist sect. They believe that Zion, the new Jerusalem, will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the Earth, and, that the Earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory. That's basically in line with what most Christians believe about Jerusalem in general, but it's just on the American continent, the new promised land, as opposed to the real Jerusalem. Well, without their real prophet Joe, the Fayette congregation sought new prophecy from other Elders in the church. Ollie had already grown a spine, and had it smashed by Joe once, so he wasn't too eager to do so again. But, Hiram Page hadn't felt the wrath of Jesus-fire powered Joseph yet, and he didn't mind giving his version of Zion related revelation in the absence of Joe. Like I said earlier, we covered this a while ago, but it helps a lot to understand Joe's character, and his feeling of control over his congregations with proper context, and maybe even see him acting out of desperation. So let's read Joe's perspective concerning this blatant subversion to his divine prophetic authority.
This is taken from History of the Church Vol. 1 page 109.
"To our great grief, however, we soon found that Satan had been lying in wait to deceive, and seeking whom he might devour. Brother Hiram Page had in his possession a certain stone, by which he had obtained certain "revelations" concerning the upbuilding of Zion, the order of the Church, etc., all of which were entirely at variance with the order of God's house, as laid down in the New Testament, as well as in our late revelations. As a conference meeting had been appointed for the 26th of September, I thought it wisdom not to do much more than converse with the brethren on the subject, until the conference should meet. Finding, however, that many, especially the Whitmer family and Oliver Cowdery, were believing much in the things set forth by this stone, we thought it best to inquire of the Lord concerning so important a matter; and before conference convened, we received the following:"
Next it goes into the revelation that Joe received to hopefully ameliorate the situation. This is found in the Book of Commandments chapter 30.
"1 Behold, I say unto thee, Oliver, that it shall be given unto thee that thou shalt be heard by the church in all things whatsoever thou shalt teach them by the Comforter, concerning the revelations and commandments which I have given.
2 But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses.
3 And thou shalt be obedient unto the things which I shall give unto him, even as Aaron, to declare faithfully the commandments and the revelations, with power and authority unto the church.
4 And if thou art led at any time by the Comforter to speak or teach, or at all times by the way of commandment unto the church, thou mayest do it.
5 But thou shalt not write by way of commandment, but by wisdom;
6 And thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the church;
7 For I have given him the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto them another in his stead.
We're going to skip verse 8 for a second and come back to it later.
9 And now, behold, I say unto you that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites.
11 And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him;
12 For, behold, these things have not been appointed unto him, neither shall anything be appointed unto any of this church contrary to the church covenants."
So, Hiram Page stone sighted this revelation, that apparently told the people in the Fayette church, where Zion would be built up. Joe didn't like this, because if somebody else was able to reveal stuff that only Joe was supposed to be able to reveal, Joe's revelations are pushed into obscurity by the newest prophet in town, in this case, Hiram Page, whereas previously, it had been Ollie. Joe wouldn't let this happen, and issued a revelation saying that he is the only real prophet, and that Oliver Cowdery doesn't have the authority to write commandments, or command the person at the head of the church. Joe further solidified his own authority by commanding Ollie to take Hiram Page aside, and tell him that the revelations he wrote were actually from the devil, and the revelations and seer stone needed to be destroyed.
I want you to put yourself in Ollie's shoes here. Think of how he felt during the whole Priestcraft-gate scandal that had just happened. Ollie tried to call Joe out on a blatant contradiction between one doctrine that was contained in the Book of Mormon, and a recent revelation concerning Priestcraft. Ollie had gone to the work of convincing all the Whitmers that Joe was mistaken in this revelation, and might not be quite as awesome as everyone thought. He had officially undermined Joe's self-claimed authority, and had the Whitmers on his side. Ollie finally got up enough courage to send Joe a scathing letter, confronting him about the two-faced nature of Joe's recent revelation. Upon receiving this letter, Joe made a special trip up to Fayette, to win back the Whitmers and destroy the small foundation that Ollie had established for himself. Do you think Ollie would have just taken it all into stride? Would this soul and ego crush that Joe just inflicted on Ollie, simply roll off Ollie's back? Fuck NO! Ollie would still feel repremanded, and Joe would have felt back-stabbed and unable to trust Ollie. The tension between them have been hair raising. Then you factor in the situation with Joe returning to Colesville to confirm the new members there. Joe had commanded Ollie to go to Colesville and take care of the problem at least twice by now, and Ollie refused. Joe had to go himself and take care of it, instead of his bitch-boy serial baptist Ollie doing all the work, and travelling, and putting life in danger-ing. Then, Joe came back to Fayette after this absence with these hard feelings still lingering between him and Ollie. Once Joe returned and found out that the Whitmers, Hiram Page, Ollie, and a bunch of other people, had all turned against him again, subversion that was probably incited by Ollie, Joe commanded Ollie to rein in the chaos, and fix all the problems, all while once again smashing the foundation that Ollie was repairing, to try and stand against Joe again. Think of how pissed off and betrayed you would feel if you were Ollie. There's no way of knowing for sure if these were the emotions flying around the Fayette congregation, but with everything leading up to this time in September of 1830, how could this not be the way Ollie and Joe felt toward each other.
I want to pose a hypothetical here. Keep in mind this is just a hypothetical, but it does serve to explain why Ollie was doing what he was doing in being so subversive. This doesn't stretch reality very far, and it actually serves to give some explanatory power for the evidence. What if Ollie and Joe started up the Book of Mormon together, with the agreement that they would both lead the church that would inevitably result from the book's publication? What if they were both starting up this co-con together as equal partners, yet Joe was slowly squeezing Ollie out of full partnership status? Let that sit for a second. Ollie tried to "translate" some of the plates by the same rock in hat method as Joe used, and Joe came out with a revelation saying that He would be the only person able to translate any of the gold plates. Ollie was one of the three witnesses that helped to convince Not-So-Smarty-Marty Harris to fund the Book of Mormon. Ollie helped Joe with the finer points of organization of the church. Ollie led the first sermon of the church at the first congregation. Ollie performed almost all of the baptisms and confirmations of the early church. Ollie was tasked with some of the earliest prosylting campaigns, while Joe spent most of that time lazing around Harmony, PA. How could Ollie not think that He was the most important person in the church. Add in to all the work that Ollie was responsible for, the fact that Joe would undermine, or chastize Ollie any time he would challenge Joe's authority, and would use nothing but irrefutable, personal revelation from God to do so. Any time Ollie tried to run the church the way he saw fit, Joe would smack him down with another Precious revelation, that Ollie couldn't challenge, and chastize Him for being a sinner against the kingdom of God. Ollie must have felt betrayed and beaten down and back stabbed and all kinds of other unpleasant emotions that we can't even comprehend today. Joe is like the worst possible business partner in the entire fuckin everywhere by this point.
Now in September 1830, keeping all these compounding factors in mind, Joe rolled into Fayette to see how the church was doing, after his successful Colesville congregation, and had to fight it out with Ollie again to re-establish his control. The church had gone off the fuckin rails in Joe's mind. Ollie was leading the congregation, the Whitmers didn't believe in Joe again, Hiram Page had given revelation with his own stone that was way better than the recent revelations that Joe was coming out with. The Josephite church was falling to pieces, so Joe had to do some proper stomping around, and chest pounding to get his main cronies reined back in, and get this fustercluck back into working order under the almighty prophet, Joseph Smith. Does this seem to provide a little better context as to why He gave the revelations that we read earlier? Specifically these ones:
" 2 But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses.
6 And thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the church;
9 And now, behold, I say unto you that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites.
11 And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him;"
When I've said in the past that Joe used revelations to solve any little problem or inconsistency in the church, I meant it every time. Divine revelation is a really smart tool built into the structure of the church, and Joe had no problem using it. It was his special move, a Joe Haduken if you will. Think of what must have been going through Ollie's mind by this point. Think of everything he and Joe had been through together, and now Ollie was just another pawn in Joe's prophet game.
Earlier when we read the majority of those revelations, we skipped verse 8, and said we would come back to it. Well, once Joe put out all the various fires that were cropping up, or being deliberately set by Ollie, the church ran somewhat smooth for a little while. Well, like a week, but still, that was pretty impressive considering the shitshow it had been, leading up to mid September 1830. Well, let's read that verse 8, and provide some context.
"8 And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them; and thou shalt have revelations, but write them not by way of commandment."
This is how Joe ensured his level of control over the Fayette church. He sent Ollie on a mission to preach to the Native-Americans. If the fire starter wasn't there, Joe would have a much easier time preventing the church from blowing up in his face. Well, Ollie didn't go it alone. He had a few people that tagged along with him. This brings us to our three newest Naked Mormonism historical reveree's, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, and Ziba Peterson. Of these three new members, Ziba Peterson had been a piece in the timeline for quite some time before now, but I skipped introducing him until he distinguished himself. Well, that time is now, so let's start off with talking about Ziba Peterson, and then we'll cover the Pratt bros.
This information is taken from historyofmormonism.com, and there will be a link for it in the show notes. Just a quick sidenote before talking about Ziba, there's a link on the history of mormonism website that I decided to endulge myself with. The body of the page has the article, but on the right side of the screen there are a few links. One is a 2 and a half minute youtube video interpretation of a conference talk by L. Tom Perry, one is to sign up for the newsletter, but the one I clicked on has a face of a very nice looking woman with the label "Ask a Mormon". It brought up a very simple form to fill out my name, email address, and my question. I just couldn't help myself. This is what I sent to some unsuspecting TBM on the other side of cyberspace: "I grew up Mormon but became apathetic in my teens. Only recently have I really started studying the church to see if it's true, but I keep running into roadblocks. My question is, if Joseph Smith was a real prophet of god, then why did some of his revelations contradict others, or turn out blatantly false? If he was working as God's conduit to Earth, wouldn't any mistake in his revelations, be a mistake by the omnipotent God of the universe? In that same category, why would the Book of Mormon that Joseph brought about through divine revelation, be so contrary to reality in so many ways? How could there possibly be mistakes in the book, if it's translated directly through the power of God? I can't seem to wrap my mind around these contradictions, and I'm hoping that whoever receives this email, will be able to help me understand Joseph Smith, and the Mormon church, better than I do now."
I could have been a lot harsher, but it didn't seem to tickle my fancy while I was writing it, and this seemed poingnant enough. However, that does create an opportunity for the listeners of this show. If anybody finds themself bored, or otherwise wanting to understand Mormonism from a TBM's perspective, go to this site and click on the link, and punch in a paragraph or two of questions that seem to be challenging for a TBM to answer in some way. I just sent mine in, and I plan on reading the reply on the air as soon as it comes in. If anybody else wants to do like I did, I'll be happy to read your question and their answer on the air. Simply copy the text of your question, and copy the text of their reply, and send that in an email to email@example.com. This offer will stand for as long as I do the show. Oh and please don't be afraid to tell them I sent you there. It seems apropos of what this show is truly about.
I would also like to issue a separate call to action for any listeners that are trolls by nature. Sic 'em boys! Make them regret the day they put that dialogue box up on that website. Show them that Mormonism can't stand up to the white hot light of scrutiny. I'll be even happier to read those emails on the air. Once again, in case you missed it, that is history of mormonism.com, a church run website, and there is a link to it in the show notes.
Alright, now that the fun is over, let's talk about Ziba Peterson. He was born..... Uh.... we don't know exactly where or when, but he *was *born. We assume he was born in 1810, but don't know for sure. We assume he was living in Palmyra or Manchester and was one of Joe's neighbors, but we don't know for sure. Unfortunately, the extant history on this guy is a little scarce. He didn't do anything of note, before joining the church in it's first month of operation, April 1830, and after he left the church, there really isn't much else on him. He didn't leave behind a journal or autobiography or anything of the sort, so we're mostly working from historical inference when it comes to Ziba. We do know that he died as sheriff of Placerville, California in 1849. During his time as sheriff, the town was given the derrogatory nick-name "Hangtown" because of multiple hangings under Ziba Peterson's direction. But we aren't concerned with that. We want to know how he affects our timeline.
So Ziba was baptized into the church on April 18, 1830, and he was listed as one of the six attending elders for the first conference on June 9, meaning he was ordained sometime in the intervening two months there. He hitched his wagon to the Joe train pretty early, and wasn't gunna let go for quite some time. There is one story that He's known for in early Mormon history, but before getting to that, we need to talk about the Pratt brothers, and get these guys out on their missions.
Parley Parker Pratt, look at that serendipitous alliteration. We'll refer to him as P-Cubed, was one of the early converts to the Mormon church. Before his conversion to Joe's church, he was born in Burlington, N.Y., on April 12, 1807. He came to know Hingepin Sidney Rigdon, and converted to Rigdon's Campbellite-Baptist church in Mentor, OH., in early 1829. While he was living in OH, he made a trip home to Burlington to visit the folks. Not far from where he disembarked from his ferry ride in Rochester, was a little town called Palmyra, where Hyrum Smith was residing at the time. I pulled this quote from MormonMissionPrep.com, which is obviously a church run site, and the website originally pulled the quote from the autobiography of P-cubed. I'll leave a link to the entire burning bosom inspiring article in the show notes.
"A man named Hamlin “began to tell of a book, a STRANGE BOOK, a VERY STRANGE BOOK! in his possession, which had been just published. This book, he said, purported to have been originally written on plates either of gold or brass, by a branch of the tribes of Israel; and to have been discovered and translated by a young man near Palmyra, in the State of New York, by the aid of visions, or the ministry of angels. I inquired of him how or where the book was to be obtained. He promised me the perusal of it, at his house the next day, if I would call. I felt a strange interest in the book. …Next morning I called at his house, where, for the first time, my eyes beheld the “BOOK OF MORMON” that book of books-that record which reveals the antiquities of the “New World” back to the remotest ages, and which unfolds the destiny of its people and the world for all time to come; that Book which contains the fulness of the gospel of a crucified and risen Redeemer; that Book which reveals a lost remnant of Joseph, and which was the principal means, in the hands of God, of directing the entire course of my future life.
I opened it with eagerness, and read its title page. I then read the testimony of several witnesses in relation to the manner of its being found and translated. After this I commenced its contents by course. I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep.
As I read, the spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the book was true, as plainly and manifestly as a man comprehends and knows that he exists. My joy was now full, as it were, and I rejoiced sufficiently to more than pay me for all the sorrows, sacrifices and toils of my life. I soon determined to see the young man who had been the instrument of its discovery and translation.”
So that was how P-cubed Parley P. Pratt came to join the church, taken from his own autobiography. Soon after he read the BoM, he made his way to Palmyra, and met Hyrum Smith, and asked him all about Joe and his book. Hyrum and P-cubed stayed up the whole night talking about Joe and the book. After resting a day, they made the journey to Fayette so P-cubed could get baptized and confirmed. He must have stood out as quite the zealot, because he was ordained to the prestigious and highest office of elder that same day. He and his wife Thankful Halsey-Pratt ended up moving out to Utah with the Brighamites, and he was the man responsible for constructing the road through Parley's Canyon in Utah which is named after him. Thanks to his vigorous polygamous practices, it was estimated in 2011 that he has between 30 to 50 thousand living decendants, of which include Mitt Romney, and Jon Huntsman. Those Mormons like to have their babies.
That was P-cubed Parley P. Pratt, so let's talk about his younger brother Orson Pratt. Orson Pratt was born September 19, 1811 in Hartford, N.Y. Both him, and p-cubed were extremely intelligent, which would later come in handy. Orson Pratt is credited with the co-invention of an early tachometer that he called the roadometer. During the move out to Utah, he was tasked with watching the wagon wheel and counting how many times it spun around to measure the distance they travelled on any given day. Well, he was sick of staring at a wheel for hours, so he rigged up a counting mechanism to tell how many rotations were made, and then calculate distance travelled using the circumference of the wagon wheel. Quite ingenious might I say. Well, this among other smart-guy tricks, and published books, and teaching positions, earns him the nickname Orson Brain-Power Pratt, or just OBP Pratt for short. OBP Pratt was looking for the right religion at the age of 18 when his older brother, P-cubed, found the Book of Mormon and converted. P-cubed went to his younger brother OBP and told him all about Joe and his magic book, and OBP was convinced. Very soon after this, he joined the church, and was baptized on his 19th birthday, September 19th, 1830.
Alright, now that we've been introduced to our newest relevant people in the timeline, let's advance that timeline a little bit.
Joe had issued his revelation commanding Ollie to go preach to the Lamanites, which he did, just not alone. I would read this next revelation from the Book of Commandments like usual, but for some reason it wasn't in there. It's included in the 1835 publication of the Doctrine and Covenants, but it's completely absent from the 1833 Book of Commandments. So, I'll just read it from the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants section 54, which is today's section 32
"And now concerning my servant Parley P. Pratt, behold I say unto him, that as I live I will that he shall declare my gospel and learn of me, and be meek and lowly of heart; and that which I have appointed unto him, is, that he shall go with my servants Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer, Jr. Into the wilderness, amongst the Lamanites; and Ziba Peterson, also, shall go with them, and I myself will go with them and be in their midst; and I am their advocate with the Father, and nothing shall prevail. And they shall give heed to that which is written and pretend to no other revelation, and they shall pray always that I may unfold them to their understanding; and they shall give heed unto these words and trifle not, and I will bless them. Amen."
I would have skipped the last part because it wasn't really relevant, but the whole thing was just one verse and two sentences, three if you count the Amen as a single sentence. Anyway, this was the revelation given to P-cubed, and Ziba Peterson, calling them on their mission to the Lamanites. As we'll come to find out, this was the most important mission in all of the Church's history. Some seriously heavy hitters in the Mormonite movement are converted as a result of this mission.
This is a paragraph pulled from an article on eom.byu.edu which is BYU's online Mormon history library. The article is titled Lamanite mission of 1830-1831, and there will be a link for it in the show notes.
"In four weeks in northeastern Ohio, the elders baptized approximately 130 converts, 50 of them from Kirtland. These new members made Kirtland their headquarters. Among the converts were men who would become leaders in the Church: Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, Lyman Wight, Newel K. Whitney, Levi Hancock, and John Murdock. Two other prominent men, Edward Partridge and Orson Hyde, joined the Church soon after the missionaries departed. By the end of 1830, membership in Ohio had reached 300, nearly triple the number of members in New York. In December, after learning of the great Ohio harvest, Joseph Smith received a revelation directing the New York Saints to gather to the Kirtland area (D&C 37:1, 3), which most did in 1831."
I know that was a lot of names, but almost everybody in that list will be getting their own NaMo name so we can try to keep them straight. The more I look at this research, the more I begin to understand just how much work is ahead of us. The miniscule amount of time that the church spent trying to grow in N.Y., is just about to come to a close. The struggling church was barely able to tread water in the face of all the persecution against it while in N.Y. Joe was barely able to hold it down, and put out every fire that cropped up. Just in time, the church received a huge boost in membership. Maybe "boost" is the wrong word. It was more like, Joe had created the red Zord piece of the Mega-church-Zord. He had the brains and control center, and he was running the majority of the operations, but he needed a lot more pieces, and a lot more people, to become formidable enough, to actually have any staying power as the complete, well oiled, satan crushing, multi-colored, juggernaut that the church would soon become. This mission out to Jackson County, MO., would be the first tendrils of the power web that Joe was spinning for all to be either caught and consumed by, or fear, resulting in them trying to tear it all down.
The best part about sending off these four guys, is the calculated measure on Joe's part. He sent out three people that had been with the church since it's beginning, with one brand ass-spanking new zealot to keep the fire burning in their bosom. The most important part of the strategy, was Joe sending Ollie away for a few months. If Ollie wasn't there, and was occupied on the road preaching the gospel, the worst thing he could do was not be able to convert somebody. However, if Ollie continued to stay in N.Y., he might keep on trying to undermine Joe, like he successfully had done so many times in the past. Without Ollie's nay-saying and back-biting getting in the way, Joe could get a lot done with the new converts to the church. All except for the people living in Colesville. Joe wasn't going back there. In fact Joe saved that for Orson Brain-Power Pratt in April of 1831, because he didn't want to go himself for fear of public lynching. He sent a brand new face, and nobody in Colesville was any wiser to Joe's continued influence in the area.
But, like I said earlier, our early formative time in N.Y., is about to come to a close. It's in early 1831 that Joe officially moved the congregation of the church out to Kirtland, Ohio, and the ball really got rolling, but that will be the subject of our next historical episode. We'll be focusing on Hingepin Sidney Rigdon for a fair amount of the show, and we'll really come to understand the nature of his NaMo nickname.
To close out this episode, we need to give a NaMo nickname to Ziba Peterson. I know his name is already pretty awesome, and he probably doesn't need, or deserve to get his own name, especially considering the amount of time he spent in the church. Regardless, there is a story that came out of the missionary trip that gives us something to latch on to. Ziba Peterson will be known in our historical analysis as Dick Zyban Peterson. This is for a couple reasons. In quite a few historical texts, he's referred to as Richard Ziba Peterson, but usually went by Ziba, thus adding the Dick before Zyban. And then you might wonder why add an "N" to his already awesome name. Well, because it's the brand name for an anti-depressant, and you guys know just how much Mormons like their anti-depressants! Alright, Mormons having the highest nationwide rates of anti-depression consumption isn't why I named him that, nor is it really a joking matter... it's pretty fucked up actually. No, the reason why we're calling him Zyban, is because I see him as a bit of an anti-depressant type of guy. I think he was probably pretty upbeat, and knew his Jesus, and was good at spreading his happy spirit to others. Well, let's read one of the only stories we have about him explicitly taking actions to lighten up the mood, and see how it worked.
This is taken from "ZIBA PETERSON: FROM MISSIONARY TO HANGING SHERIFF. H. Dean Garrett." page 29. It's a book in digital format available from MormonHistoricSites.com, and I'll leave a link for it in the show notes.
"Ziba Peterson and his companions left Fayette, New York, about 17 October to begin the thousand-mile journey. The Prophet Joseph recorded: "They bade adieu to their brethren and friends, and commenced their journey, preaching by the way, and leaving a sealing testimony behind them, lifting up their voice like a trump in the different villages through which they passed." They preached to the Indians near Buffalo and then traveled to Kirtland, Ohio, where they achieved great success among the followers of Sidney Rigdon and their neighbors. Parley P. Pratt was an earlier acquaintance of Sidney Rigdon. Sidney had previously visited the wooded area near Lake Erie where Pratt had settled with his new wife. Rigdon had introduced Pratt and others to the Reformed Baptist doctrine, and now Pratt returned to introduce Sidney to the restored gospel. In addition, Pratt and the other missionaries taught several of Rigdon's congregations. As a result of their work, they baptized "one hundred and twenty-seven souls, and this number soon increased to one thousand."
A further example of Ziba's involvement in the success of the missionary work in Ohio occurred on the evening of 13 November. The missionaries arrived in Warrenville, Ohio, and Ziba conducted a meeting at the home of the newly converted John Murdock. Several baptisms resulted from this meeting, including the baptism of John Murdock's wife. About fifty miles west of Kirtland, the missionaries ran into some problems.
At the home of Simeon Carter, another new convert, Parley P. Pratt, was arrested on a warrant and taken before a judge who insisted on Pratt's paying a fine or going to jail. During a long night of hassle before the judge, Parley invited Ziba to sing a hymn, "0 How Happy Are They." Unfortunately, the hymn did not seem to brighten the night. The next day, Pratt escaped from the sheriff and caught up with his companions as they made their way out of Ohio. When the missionaries left Ohio, they took with them another companion, Frederick G. Williams, who was one of their recent converts. They traveled through a very wintery countryside to Cincinnati, down the Ohio River to Illinois, and across to St. Louis where they waited out a severe storm for several days. They were finally able to cross the Mississippi River and walk hundreds of miles across the wilds of Missouri to the small border town of Independence. Independence, their final destination, was located on the line separating the state of Missouri from the Indian lands."
Zyban tried to anti-depress the mood of the court, but the judge, who was already in a bad mood and tired to begin with, just became more frustrated with Zyban's in court outburst of an a-capella hymnal. It probably didn't help that it was apparently like 11 at night, when the court convened to convict P-cubed until he paid his fine for unknown charges. Good try with making everybody happier Zyban, but to no avail.
That's it for the historical analysis. Let me take a second to digress about depression in the church and Utah. Like I said earlier, it's no joking matter, and it really has nothing to do with Zyban's nickname here. The last couple of times that I've travelled to Utah, I've spent time with Preston JMS, the ultimate over-ruler of the NaMo Outer Darkness Kingdom. He's located in a pretty affluent part of the SLC valley, and is completely surrounded by TBM's. He's told me on a few occasions that if you go to any of the people in the neighborhood, you won't find a single drop of alcohol in their house, but you will find a fuckin sailor's tackle-box full of anti-depressants, and mood elevators, and muscle relaxants, and all other myraid prescription drugs to deal with every conceivable mental, or physical, illness, that plagues people living a horribly repressed, and depressed life.
The one recurring thing I hear from anybody when I tell them that I'm from Utah, is they say that Mormons are the nicest, happiest people they've ever met. I can agree with them for the most part. So many Mormons are awe-inspiringly positive and overly-nice to each other, and even to outsiders. So nice, that it might be a little creepy sometimes..... Do you really think that's natural? Is that really who they are in their deepest heart of hearts? Do they just have a happy stick shoved so far up their ass that they can't help but smile away the pain? NO! It's all fucking fake! It's all a facade! They deny their very nature as a person to express any emotion other than happiness, no matter what they're feeling on the inside, and it's the culture that forces them to do it. They think that if they aren't happy, then they aren't being righteous enough.
This forced repression of true emotions, leads to all sorts of mental health problems, that manifest in dozens of ways. Obsessive behavior, so-called addictions to non-addictive substances, depression, anxiety, manic depressive behaviors, reckless impulsive buying, and a bunch of other serious problems that come along with repressing who you really are, they're all problems that plague the average Utah dwelling TBM.
If a Mormon father/husband spends hours a day watching porn, it's not because he's addicted. He is engaging in an obsessive behavior that he has sole-control over, because he can't stand his real life, that he seems to have no control over anymore. It's the same thing as someone that's cutting or amazon binging, or engaging in any other self-destructive obsession. They feel like they can't control their life in any way and they're buried in their own lack of freedom, so they find something they can control, whether it's the number of ejaculations in a 2 hour span with your wife and kids in the other room, the click of a mouse on the "buy-now" button, or how much the cut bleeds.
Treating these problems with chemicals, and anti-depressants is a crackhead's way of fixing the problem. They don't try to fix the problem at it's root, they just want to suck a dick right now to get some goddamn crack. It's treating the symptom, not the problems, and it's fucked up... If the problem itself isn't treated, the negative effects will inevitably manifest in some destructive way. It doesn't do any good to just treat the symptom of the problem. And that's where Mormonism fails so monumentally. They tell you that the less you sin, and the more righteous you are, the more happy you will become, which is wrong on so many levels, especially when they are the ones setting the threshold of that sin, and controlling the punishment and shame in reaction to it.
I've made it no secret that I feel the negative cognitive effects of the church all the time, and I've been out for a third of my short life now. Being on the outside, I see the mental and social problems that the church creates any time I visit Utah. I see people that act holier than thou constantly, while trying to conceal the mote in their own eye. Most Utards have a story of a friend or family member that committed suicide, or attempted to do so, while being treated for severe depression. Most teens in Utah go through a depressive phase, some recover, most don't, and worse yet, some don't even survive the depression. I remember all of the lectures and school assemblies about depression and not killing yourself, because the CDC sees the abnormally high rate of teen and male suicides that plague Utah. The rate of male suicide in 2013 was more than twice the overall average American rate. Nationally, Utah ranks 3rd in overall suicides, being beat out by Montana and Alaska. Utah has one of the highest levels of anti-depressant, and anti-anxiety pill consumption.
There is a root to this cause of all these negative effects. When people aren't happy, they become clinically depressed. There's a lot of physiology, and chemical level impeding neuro pathways in the brain that factor in to it, but by in large, the more things people are happy about in their life, the more happy they are. It's very simple. Put yourselves in the shoes of a believing Mormon. Everyday, you are constantly fighting the urge to sin someway. It's something you consider a character flaw, like obsessively watching porn or something, and it's always on your mind, even though you know it's bad, and God doesn't like it when you do it.
You know that you can go in and talk to your bishop about it, but then you have to deal with all the social ramifications of atoning for your sin, which carries a heavy burden of public shaming. So you don't go talk to the bishop about this porn addiction, and instead continue to sin, even though it's making God angry. You go to church every Sunday, and put on the fake, happy game-face so nobody will know that you're sinning behind closed doors. You act happy, and tell all your neighbors and friends, that go to your church, about the recent Ensign article you read this morning, which you only read to keep from watching porn on the Sabbath. And then, the rest of Sunday is consumed by other calling activities, or spending time with the family, or scripture study. Then, it's Monday morning. You go to work in town, and interact daily with people that you see and talk to every Sunday, so that happy game-face you put on for church, needs to be equipped for every day of work as well, just so people don't think your sinning.
Monday night rolls around, and it's family home evening, the church lesson a day after church. You have to prepare a lesson for your kids, or find some wholesome movie to watch that doesn't have any sexual inuendo, because if your kids watch a movie with anything sexual in it, they'll start watching porn that very next day. Then, Tuesday rolls around. Back to work with the game-face again, never talking to your friends or co-workers about what is really going on in your life. Tuesday night, you have a meeting for elders quorum leadership. Wednesday night is mutual night. The kids go to church to do an activity with all their friends from school and church, and you and the wife get a night home together. Unfortunately, you haven't had a minute alone to indulge this so-called porn addiction, so half the night you spend in the office, instead of spending time with your wife. You know that she knows what you're doing, but neither of you wants to talk about it. You just know that it hurts her, because she feels like she isn't good enough for you, so you have to go elsewhere to satisfy those depraved sexual urges. This only serves to stress you out more, and strain harder on your already thin marriage.
Sure, you could go talk to the bishop instead, but he would bring your wife in to inform her on your addiction, and you can't stand how much that conversation would hurt her. Instead you just stay in the office, and avoid her as much as you possibly can, depressing you even more. Thursday rolls around, and it's scouts day. You have to throw together some fun activity for all the scouts in the neighborhood to do. All of them come to your house, and you have to provide an hour or two of activities for them to do so they aren't bored.
Friday comes along, it was a hard week at work. The physical part wasn't any tougher than usual, but your emotionally beat. You've been wearing that same happy game-face all week, and it's finally taken it's toll on you, just like it does every week of every month of your entire life. Friday night rolls around, and the kids are out spending time with their friends. Your wife is taking care of her calling tonight, making phone calls, planning out next weeks lesson, and you have some free time. Better make the most of this rare commodity, and head to the office for a little mini-me time. Your wife knows where you are, and those feelings of inadequecy come flooding back into her mind, distracting her during the various phone calls she's making.
Saturday comes along, and it's a very special day. (Saturday song clip). You have to take care of all the stuff around the house, because there's no working on Sunday, and that keeps you busy for the majority of the day. The kids spend the morning with you helping do chores, but it's always a fight to get them to do anything, so eventually you give in, and tell them that they're done and can go be with their friends. Saturday evening comes along, and you have some alone time with your wife. You watch a movie together, sitting on opposite sides of the couch, with the intrusive communication barrier sitting firmly in between you. The movie is over, and it's about time for bed, but you have to send off an email before you go to bed, at least that's what you tell your wife, even though she's not convinced. You finish your duty to yourself, and slip into bed where your wife is peacefully sleeping. You look at the clock and see that you've been watching porn for over an hour, and your wife went to sleep a while ago. You lay your head down with dread for the next day's activites bouncing around inside your head. You want to be faithful to the church, and do well in your calling, but you're simply disgusted by the thought of going through another Sunday doing the same song and dance with everybody around you. The worst part is, once Sunday is over, you wake up on Monday morning to do it all over again without a single break in the monotony. Every day is the same, and nothing ever gets better. The dread and loathing for your life weighs on your mind more and more with each passing year of the same exact schedule.
Now tell me..... In this situation, what the fuck do you have to be happy about in life? You're not in control of a single joyless minute of your life. Even when you can get away from the family for a little while to watch porn for some kind of dopamine kick in your life, you're still not free. You're weighed down by your sins and the shame of your actions, and you can't do anything to escape the mindset. Sure, the anti-depressants might help, but they're treating a symptom of a much larger problem. There's simply no joy in your life, and you can't be happy in a joyless vacuum of a life. But, you've made commitments to the church, and you were raised telling yourself that these feelings are the consequences of sin, and there is no chipping away at that frame of mind. Your whole world is warped beyond what anybody would consider healthy, and you're stuck. Why not just fucking kill yourself?
Do you understand why the church is so damaging? It creates a problem in your life, doesn't give you any of your own time to fix it, because you're so busy with church related activities, and then offers the solution to the problem it gave you. That solution, of course, is more church. I often hear the argument posited, "Even if the church isn't true, it's a good way to raise a child". Growing up Mormon, I can agree with that argument to a certain extent. Mormonism has some really low rates of teenage alcohol consumption. If a kid goes to church, there is a possible friend-base of a lot of people in that child's community, and it helps a lot with early social development. The mutual service activites are awesome, and teach kids how to help out the elderly in the neighborhood. There are plenty of benefits to the church when it comes to raising a kid, but that's true of any type of community, or social gathering with structure. It's all the other shit that comes along with it, that makes the church an overall negative to society. Any structure that systematically produces high rates of suicide, warped ideals of sexuality, and builds in a shame based-reformation feature, that only serves to damage anybody involved, is not a good structure, and is definitionally a parasitic drain on society. There are better ways to get the benefits of the Mormon religion, without tacking on all the fucked up parts that only serve to mind-fuck the participants, and make them fear their own dicks. Society as a whole has outgrown the church, and it's time for the church to realize that if it doesn't change in drastic ways, it will be cut off from our progressive humanistic society. Although, I have to say, would the church shrivelling up from lack of membership, really be all that bad?
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