Ep 55 – Joseph’s Historical Revisionism

On this week’s episode, we jump into all the work and frustration associated with building a city from a scratchy, bitey, black-water swampland. Sickness, exposure, and simple lack of resources find Jo and friends in desperate need of brokering whatever deal necessary to establish a new home for the thousands of homeless Mormon refugees. We get our newest introduction to the NaMo nickname family and Jo begins dictating his own revised history to be published in the Times and Seasons in response to the recent uprising of the Spalding theory. Later on, we’ll be talking dangerous American history with Prof CJ of the Dangerous History Podcast.

Links:

Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt
http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/PPPratt.html

Biographical Sketches of Stephen Markham
https://familysearch.org/photos/artifacts/22446494

ProfCJ Dangerous History Podcast
http://profcj.org/

Show links:

Website http://nakedmormonismpodcast.com
Twitter @NakedMormonism
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Naked-Mormonism/370003839816311
Patreon http://patreon.com/nakedmormonism
Music by Jason Comeau http://aloststateofmind.com/
Show Artwork http://weirdmormonshit.com/
Legal Counsel http://patorrez.com/
Voicemail Line (864)Nake-dMo (625-3366)

Intro 6/22/17

Smelling of something delicious and comforting that your mom gives to you when you’re sick, is better than reeking of tofu and broccoli sweats.

On this week’s episode, we jump into all the work and frustration associated with building a city from a scratchy, bitey, black-water swampland. Sickness, exposure, and simple lack of resources find Jo and friends in desperate need of brokering whatever deal necessary to establish a new home for the thousands of homeless Mormon refugees. We get our newest introduction to the NaMo nickname family and Jo begins dictating his own revised history to be published in the Times and Seasons in response to the recent uprising of the Spalding theory. Later on, we’ll be talking dangerous American history with Prof CJ of the Dangerous History Podcast.

But first, let’s whet our palette with some milk to prepare us for a proper helping of meat.

Last time we were with Jo and friends, we spent the whole time talking Matilda Davison and Hingepin Rigdon. Upon the Prophet’s escape from Sheriff William Morgan and his arrival in Quincy, Illinois, the Spalding theory saw a brand-new resurgence in the popular media and Rigdon was forced to issue a response. Absent that response was anything concrete to explain the origin of the Book of Mormon, or really anything that made it anything other than a blatant denial, relying heavily on ad hominem attacks and calling the Spalding theory a moonshine story.

The Spalding theory would never die. Historians, both believers and non-believers, have written it off or considered it nothing more than tinfoil-hat conspiracy history since its inception, but the theory has yet to be thoroughly disproved. Despite its longevity, very few legitimate historians today espouse the theory.

Milk to meat

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Jo and the leadership had contracted with Isaac Galland to purchase the tract of land known as Commerce, Illinois. Located around the middle of the state on the far west border with Iowa, the river-front settlement of Commerce was home to a few cabins, some small acreage of improved farm land, and millions of malaria-carrying mosquitos. Known as the ague which included a few possible diseases, the recently drained swampland proved less favorable to settlement than the previous settlements in which the Mormons had found themselves.

Utterly destitute of morale and monies, the Mormons could afford little else more than the unimproved land and some seed to plant in the ground once the lush vegetation had been cleared. They came from Missouri with everything they had, which wasn’t much, and were hell-bent on making a new life for themselves.

From Fawn Brodie’s “No Man Knows My History” page 256.

“The river bank rises gently here to a point so high that one standing on its summit can see the river cutting a great silver semicircle at one’s feet.

When Joseph Smith stood on this hill after his escape from Missouri in 1839, the spot was wooded and trackless and swamps covered the lowlands behind him. But he could see the glistening river with its islands lying to the north like lush garden places, and the green Iowa hills beyond. “It is a beautiful site,” he said fervently, “and it shall be called Nauvoo, which means in Hebrew a beautiful plantation.” “Nauvoo” had the melancholy music of a mourning dove’s call and somehow matched the magic of the site.”

There was much work to be done. The arduous process of clearing frontier American land and taming the wild swamp was a trouble that affected all who began settling. The leadership were amidst constructing houses for themselves from which to conduct church business and administer to the sick, while the majority of the thousands of homeless saints spent every night laying under the open sky, exposed to every element and the harshly freezing humid spring nights. P-Cubed, Parley P. Pratt, who’d been one of the earliest and most prominent members of the church since his conversion in mid-1830, had escaped imprisonment and was once again united with the prophet after their long separation beginning the previous year in Missouri.

From his autobiography hosted on BOAP.org, a link will be provided in the show notes.

“The hardships and exposures consequent on the persecutions, caused a general sickness. Here and there, and in every place, a majority of the people were prostrated with malignant fevers, agues, etc.

When we first arrived we lived in the open air, with out any other shelter whatever. Here I met brother Joseph Smith, from whom I had been separated since the close of the mock trial in Richmond the year previous. Neither of us could refrain from tears as we embraced each other once more as free men. We felt like shouting hosannah in the highest, and giving glory to that God who had delivered us in fulfillment of His word to His servant Joseph the previous autumn, when we were being carried into captivity in Jackson County, Missouri. He blessed me with a warmth of sympathy and brotherly kindness which I shall never forget. Here also I met with Hyrum Smith and many others of my fellow prisoners with a glow of mutual joy and satisfaction which language will never reveal. Father and Mother Smith, the parents of our Prophet and President, were also overwhelmed with tears of joy and congratulation; they wept like children as they took me by the hand; but, O, how different from the tears of bitter sorrow which were pouring down their cheeks as they gave us the parting hand in Far West, and saw us dragged away by fiends in human form.

After the gush of feelings consequent on our happy meeting had subsided, I accompanied Joseph Smith over the Mississippi in a skiff to visit some friends in Montrose. Here many were lying sick and at the point of death. Among these was my old friend and fellow servant, Elijah Fordham, who had been with me in that extraordinary work in New York City in 1837. He was now in the last stage of a deadly fever. He lay prostrate and nearly speechless, with his feet poulticed; his eyes were sunk in their sockets; his flesh was gone; the paleness of death was upon him; and he was hardly to be distinguished from a corpse. His wife was weeping over him, and preparing clothes for his burial.

Brother Joseph took him by the hand, and in a voice and energy which would seemingly have raised the dead, he cried: "BROTHER FORDHAM, IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, ARISE AND WALK." It was a voice which could be heard from house to house and nearly through the neighborhood. It was like the roaring of a lion, or the heavy thunderbolt. Brother Fordham leaped from his dying bed in an instant, shook the poultices and bandages from his feet, put on his clothes so quick that none got a chance to assist him, and taking a cup of tea and a little refreshment, he walked with us from house to house visiting other sick beds, and joining in prayer and ministrations for them, while the people followed us, and with joy and amazement gave glory to God. Several more were called up in a similar manner and were healed.

Brother Joseph, while in the Spirit, rebuked the Elders who would continue to lay hands on the sick from day to day without the power to heal them. Said he: "It is time that such things ended. Let the Elders either obtain the power of God to heal the sick or let them cease to minister the forms without the power."

Brodie notes that no healings were recounted in Jo’s journal, likely because every success was met with scores of failures in healing the afflicted Mormons. She does point out, however, that Emma, being quite learned in root doctoring, was just as much attending to the sick as any of the brethren, even though she was in a weakened state having just born their 4th child, Don Carlos Smith.

Throughout most of May and June 1839, the history of the church recounts mostly single-day line descriptions of Jo and the leaderships activities.

History of the church, source and text critical edition by Dan Vogel beginning on page 319

“May 13th, I was engaged in general business at home, and in transacting a variety of business with brother Oliver Granger, and gave him the following letter:--

May 15th and 16th, Was engaged in a variety of business relating to the general welfare of the church.

May 20th, At home, attending to a variety of business.

May 24th, The Twelve made a report of the proceedings of the Seventies, which I sanctioned. I also approve of the Twelve going to England.”

In between each of those single-line entries is an overwhelming number of letters going in and out of Commerce to and from the prophet. The only way to handle the myriad challenges facing the Mormons was to send the right letters to the right people to get the right things done. The last entry we read is a fascinating detail and I’m not terribly sure what to make of it.

Jo approved the Twelve’s petition to take a mission-trip out to England. From my best understanding, the Mormons had proselyted to so many places near their settlements. They’d taken mission trips all through New England, Canada, and even into some of the Northernmost southern states to try and build their numbers and bring in fresh blood and money. With everything that had happened which caused public opposition to the Mormons beginning in 1836-7, national newspapers had painted the Mormons as either a small group of crazed religious fanatics, or something of a new Christianity led by the power of Satan to drag people away from true Christianity. The entire Missouri-Mormon conflict had raised national awareness that the Mormons were a force to be reckoned with; very few Americans had not heard of the Mormons, whether it was from their local newspapers or in passing conversation with those who eagerly followed the Mormon drama as it played out on a national scale.

Europe, however, was an untapped market. The missionaries began their first trips in 1835, and the majority of European countries were none the wiser to what was happening to the Mormons on the other side of the pond, making them ripe for conversion. As the Mormons were settling in Missouri, Jo had told the missionaries to motivate Europeans to move out and help them settle in Missouri, or just send their money along for the good of the Mormon people who were so horrifically destitute. Still, the majority of Europe was, for all intents and purposes, an untapped market with a lot of wealthy people who were eager to hear the gospel.

What makes this so odd and worth contemplation is that Jo and the Mormons needed the Twelve and their management abilities in Nauvoo now more than ever, and yet, Jo still sent them away. It makes me wonder if the work couldn’t be better accomplished with a distribution of labor among the Twelve apostles. Maybe splitting them up and having 6 go on the mission to Europe while the other 6 remained in Nauvoo would have caused less responsibilities to fall on the shoulders of Jo, Hyrum and Rigdon. Maybe putting off the trip until they were a bit more settled and there were a few thousand homes in Nauvoo, instead of a few dozen shacks, would have made the transition into Nauvoo settlement smoother. Interestingly enough, we see something in a letter exchange occur that I have yet to have seen anywhere else in church history, and it’s remarkable to see it occur now as it’s indicative of a trend shift that was slowly occurring.

A letter was sent to Judge and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland from Commerce, soon to be Nauvoo. The letter detailed some interesting information, but I’m most fascinated by what the letter implies.

I’ll read a few excerpts from the letter and point out why it’s fascinating when we read who signed the letter.

HoC S&T CE pg 328

“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland:--We write you in order to redeem our pledge, which we would have done before now, but that we have been in the midst of the bustle of business of various kinds ever since our arrival here. We however beg to assure you and your family that we have not forgotten you, but remember you all, as well as the great kindness and friendship which we have experienced at your hands.

We have selected a lot for you, just across the street from our own, beside Mr. Harris; and in the orchard according to the desire of sister Cleveland, and also on the river, adapted to Mr. Cleveland’s trade…

It would give us great pleasure to have you all here along with us, which we hope to enjoy in a short time. I have also remembered Rufus Cleveland to the Surveyor, and am happy to be able to say that the land in Iowa far exceeds my expectations, both as to the richness of soil, and beauty of locations, more so than any part of Missouri which I have seen.

Addressed to Judge Cleveland and Lady, Quincy, Illinois.

Joseph Smith

Emma Smith”

This larger trend which this letter implies is Emma’s increased involvement in church affairs during the Nauvoo years. Prior to their settlement in Nauvoo, Emma’s affiliation had stayed at an arm’s length, allowing Jo to get into all kinds of trouble. Now, Emma had been burned so many times by Jo’s bad decisions and he’d missed the birth of their most recent child because he was in jail, that she began to take some power into her own hands. With Bloody Brigham and the rest of the Twelve beginning their journey to Europe, a power vacuum was introduced once again, and Emma tentatively stepped up to the plate. Quite soon the earliest rendition of the relief society would be organized under the hand of Emma and Jo to create a structured female arm of the church which had been wholly absent up to this point. This letter to Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland is made even more fascinating by the fact that Mr. Cleveland would remain in Nauvoo not believing in the church with his wife Sarah Marietta Kingsley Cleveland, who would later become one of Jo’s polygamist wives. Luckily for Jo, Emma and him had decided on a plot in Nauvoo for them to live which was adjacent to the plot on which Jo and Emma lived.

Some very fascinating developments will follow with Emma’s increased involvement, but we’ll have to pick that up later.

The next thing Jo did was compile a list of complaints by which he could issue signed letters to the government addressing the grievances the Mormons had suffered. Jo and Hyrum’s complaints are included in the HoC Dan Vogel edition starting on page 334.

I don’t want to bother you, the listener, with all the details included in these complaints as they just rehash everything we’ve discussed since the church moved to Missouri. Listen back to episodes 40-50 to understand everything the Mormons had to deal with there, but what I will do is read the last paragraphs of two complaint letters listing the bill Jo and Hyrum issued to the Missouri government for grievances. Ask yourself if this sounds fair.

“Bill of damages against the State of Missouri on account of the sufferings and losses sustained therein…

The loss of property which I have sustained is as follows:--Losses sustained in Jackson county, Daviess county, Caldwell county, including lands, houses, harness, hogs, cattle, &c.; books and store goods, expenses while in bonds, of moneys paid out, expenses of moving out of the State, and damages sustained by false imprisonments, threatenings, intimidations, exposure &c., &c., one hundred thousand dollars.”

Hyrum’s complaint:

“Sufferings and damages sustained in Missouri, and being driven therefrom:--…

Since I have obtained my liberty, I feel my body broke down and my health very much impaired, from the fatigue and afflictions which I have undergone, so that I have not been able to perform any labor since I have escaped from my oppressors. The loss of property which I sustained in the State of Missouri would amount to several thousand dollars; and one hundred thousand dollars would be no consideration for what I have suffered from privations!—from my life being continually sought!!—and all the accumulated sufferings I have been subject to.”

These were the two listed complaint letters included in the HoC which Jo accumulated among a number of other letters of complaint from other prominent church leaders. These letters of complaint would be in a nice little folder for under Jo’s arm when he walked into Martin Van Buren’s office to complain about to him about the misdeeds of the Missouri Government, which we’ll have to pick up on in a few episodes.

First and foremost, and an ancillary point made in the complaints, Jo needed money. He began sending letters specifically to various friends and church members who may have been holding out asking for their personal savings to secure the tracts of land. This is a letter that Jo and Vinson Knight wrote to Mark Bigler, a wealthy member who still had some savings. This letter is indicative of many letters which Jo was writing to hopefully make the requirements of the down payments for all the land the church was eating up.

“Dear Sir:-- We have thought well to write you by brother [Stephen] Markham on the subject of our purchase of lands here, in order to stir up your pure mind to a remembrance of the situation in which we have been placed by the act of the councils of the church having appointed us a committee to transact business here for the church. We have, as is known to the church in general, made purchases and entered into contracts and promised payments of moneys, for all of which we now stand responsible.

Now as money seems to come in too slowly, in order that we may be able to meet our engagements, we have determined to call upon the liberality of father Bigler, through the agency of brother Markham, and request that he will place in his hands for us, the sum of five or six hundred dollars, for which he shall have the security of said committee, also through the agency of br. Markham, and the thanks of the church besides.

Joseph Smith, jr.,

Vinson Knight.”

Brother Stephen Markham was an interesting guy. He just appeared on the scene when he was baptized into the church July 1837 in Kirtland, and was immediately appointed a supervisory position overseeing the saints’ removal from Ohio and subsequently Missouri. He was a newcomer and some didn’t trust him, but Jo did, and thus put him in charge of running letters and collecting thousands of dollars for the church to pay the contracts Jo was signing to acquire land in Illinois and Iowa.

In order to allay the concerns of the Saints who may not have trusted him, Jo wrote a public letter to be read aloud to the church as a congregation, giving Brother Stephen Markham his personal blessing so everybody else would trust him just as much as Jo did.

“To the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Greeting:--

From our knowledge of the great sacrifices made by the bearer, br. Stephen Markham, in behalf of the welfare of us, and the church generally, and from the great trust which we have oftentimes reposed in him, and as often found him trustworthy, not seeking his own aggrandizement, but rather that of the community. We feel warranted in commissioning him to go forth amongst the faithful, as our agent, to gather up and receive such moneys, in money or otherwise as shall enable us to meet our engagements which are now about to devolve upon us, in consequence of our purchases here for the church; and we humbly trust that our brethren generally will enable him to come to our assistance before our credit shall suffer on this account.

Joseph Smith, jr., Presiding Elder”

Stephen Markham made a flash appearance on the scene as many did beginning in these Nauvoo years, causing some distrust with some of those who’d been around for over half a decade. This was Jo’s answer to their concerns. From all I can tell, Jo made a good judgement call with Stephen Markham as he would pass away in Spanish Fork, Utah after having been appointed to Lieutenant of the Nauvoo legion and holding other important roles during his church career. But there were other people who are just starting to come out of the woodwork who would gain Jo’s blessing who really didn’t have the best interest of the saints in mind. For now, Jo and the saints were blessed with the good fortune of having Stephen Markham and his undying devotion to the advancement of the Mormons’ best interest.

To give a little context of who Stephen Markham was, I’m going to read a few extracts from the Biographical Sketches of Stephen Markham from familysearch.org, you can find a link in the show notes. This biography was recounted by one of his descendants who took some historical liberties, but it tells us a bit about the man that I find rather fascinating.

“His father was David Markham and his mother was Dinah Merry Markham. His father was a revolutionary soldier and was accidentally killed while celebrating on the 4th of July 1802 or 1803 when Stephen was a little over two years old. His mother afterwards moved to the state of Ohio, where the family settled in Chester Geauga Co. Ohio. It was at this place that Stephen first heard the gospel, and was baptised by Elder Abel Lamb in Jul 1837. He was well-to-do at the time, and sold all his possessions in Ohio, by the counsel of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He then furnished most of the money to prepare sixty souls for immigration, furnishing them clothing, food, teams, and wagons for their move from Kirkland to Far West Missouri. He having charge of them. After arriving at Far West he was appointed an agent for the Church to raise means and assist the poor Saints in the days of trouble and persecution by the mobs in Missouri and Illinois.

On the morning of the 9th Elder Markham left Far West to take a hundred dollars sent by Elder Kimball to the Prophet who was in jail, as they were destitute of means and their trial started that day before a drunken mob. Brother Markham was compelled to swim several streams and arrived in the afternoon. He spent the evening in the company of the Prophet and his brothers.”

Someone like this who was constantly saddled with logistics and responsible for so much money at various intervals in Mormon history, and, might I add, with a last name ending in ham, Stephen Markham will now be known to us as Piggy-bank Steve, marking our newest induction into the family of NaMo nicknames in our historical timeline. But just like John Ratzenberger, piggy-bank Steve didn’t mess around when people would mess with him.

“April 10th was spent examining witnesses for the trial. Brother Markham was not permitted to give his testimony that day but the next day the 11th of April 1839 he gave his testimony which was too truthful in the case of the prisoner, and after he had closed, Blakely, one of the guards told him he wanted to speak to him. Brother Markham went around the corner of the house, when Blakely called out ----" You damned old Mormon, I'll kill you", and struck at him with fist and then with a club. Brother Markham took the club from him and threw it over a fence. Then ten of the mob immediately rushed upon him to kill him, but Brother Markham told them he could kill the whole bunch with one blow apiece, and drove them off. The court and grand jury saw the affair and heard the mob threaten Markham's life, with all the oaths they could invent, but they took no cognizance of it. The ten men went home after their guns to shoot Bro. Markham, but did not return.”

Piggy-bank Steve will be with us for quite some time, he’s a guy we can trust to do the right thing when it comes to the advancement of the church and Jo’s best interests; what could possibly go wrong with trusting one guy with thousands of dollars of church funds to fulfill its financial obligations?

The next few entries in the HoC happen rapid-fire and were necessary for the building up of the Church’s new Zion, soon to be designated Nauvoo. The most important entry we’ll read, which brings us to the end of our historical timeline for today, comes from the guilty spark page 343 of the HoC Dan Vogel edition and it’s a single line which had incredible ramifications for the rest of Mormon history.

“June 11th.—I commenced dictating my History for my clerk, James Mulholland, to write.”

When you’ve been doing a podcast on a single topic for a few years, it seems like so many different topics can boil down to a few important overarching points. One of those points I’ve boiled a ton of Mormon history down to is historical revisionism and the problems it creates.

When Bloody Brigham took over the church after the 1844 schism, he began a massive campaign to reproduce the history of the church as he saw fit, incorporating tens of thousands of changes over the 7-volume set, meaning entire paragraphs which were dictated straight from Jo’s mouth were completely omitted, and paragraphs which Jo never said were incorporated and considered true history. As somebody who tries to understand real history as a past-time, living, and insatiable passion, historical revisionism is something with which I’m endlessly frustrated.

Studying history is a constant joust between determining reliability of early accounts and appreciating broad historical models constructed decades or centuries after any given historical occurrence. The throw-away line of 20/20 historical hindsight is often used to flippantly claim that modern historical models are more accurate than early models because we have the ability to zoom out and broaden our scope and take many different factors into account; we’re hopefully less influenced by temporal issues of the time. But that consideration also shouldn’t disparage the reliability of something written much closer to a given historical event.

When somebody like Joseph Smith dictates his own history, as Jo began in June of 1839, it’s obvious that he had biases and motivations for doing so, as well as a vested interest in seeing the history recounted as he saw fit. Hingepin Sidney Rigdon and Matilda Spalding Davison had just gone through their public letter exchange, resurrecting the underlying Spalding theory, and Jo saw it necessary to begin dictating his own history to counteract any controversy which may have arisen from ashes of this PR nightmare. Jo’s dictated history of the church began in direct response to the resurgence of the Spalding theory in the public eye merely two weeks prior.

Beginning in November of 1839, a mere 5 months after Jo began his historical dictation, the Times and Seasons, the final church periodical during his lifetime, was established in Nauvoo, which would subsequently publish his history from 1842 to 1846. That history would undergo a systematic revision under Bloody Brigham, published in the Deseret News in Utah from 1851 to 1857, which underwent further revision under B. H. Roberts published from 1902 to 1915. Every single edition of these church histories was published by some iteration of the church with an obvious vested interest and motivations to revise church history to be told a certain way. Finally, in 2015, Dan Vogel published his “History of Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints A source-and text-Critical Edition” which compiles every different version of the church histories and documents the source text, scribe, and changes of every single passage included in all 7 volumes of the history of the church. Nowhere is Mormon historical revisionism laid so bare than in Vogel’s work, which is why I’ve been happy to rely on it for the past few episodes and will continue relying on it throughout the rest of the Joseph Smith years of Mormon history. Vogel recounts all the historical revision that has been performed through every iteration of Church history without adding any editorial commentary as other historians are often wont to do.

I can think of no greater example of historical revisionism than Joseph Smith’s first-vision account. From his first iteration in 1832 to the version published in the Times and Season in 1842, dozens of important foundational claims are wildly different, and we see an evolution in the history which follows that of other similar legends, meaning the details seem to sharpen over time as opposed to becoming blurrier as with real memories.

Joseph Smith’s history has been revised by scores of people for a number of competing reasons, all with different motivations. As recently as 2011 a man named Christopher Nemelka wrote a book titled, “Without Disclosing My True Identity—The authorized and official biography of the prophet Joseph Smith Jr.” claiming to be inspired by the same mentors as inspired Joseph Smith. Nemelka was somehow able to speak to the reincarnation of Smith to give his official biography from his own deceased mouth. I’ve yet to read it, but from my understanding it’s a fanciful version of Jo’s history rife with historical inaccuracies, claiming to explain Jo’s motivations for writing the BoM in the first place, something nobody could ever truly know.

Every example so far exhibited is a cancerous version of historical revision, becoming steadily more malignant through each iteration, distorting the understanding of Jo’s history in those who believe the claims of each different version of his history. It’s good we have true historians like Dan Vogel who call out the historical revisionism and show us exactly when and where each revision took place.

I was, however, recently introduced to a concept which I’d not considered before which forces me to take pause and reconsider every soapbox I’ve mounted against historical revisionism. This realization came as a product of a conversation I had with a history professor which you’re going to listen to momentarily. Prof CJ made the point that revising historical models is absolutely necessary to keep historical studies relevant and accepted models accurate.

It occurred to me that I’m amidst a campaign of historical reporting which revises Mormon history in my own ways. My favorite thing to do on this show is present a given topic from the pro-Mormon and anti-Mormon side, then give my take on the topic and simply ask you as the listener to skepticize it and figure out what makes sense to you. I trust you to exercise the mental faculties available to us all in order to get as close to truth as possible, but could be poisoning the well with false dichotomies. In my reporting of Mormon history, I try to revise and construct Naked Mormon history to what makes the most sense for me, which can unfortunately lead down a path which may get us further away from the historical truth, but hopefully gets us closer. It’s important to check our own biases and logically fallacious infractions against historical truths as often as possible.

Fawn Brodie’s seminal work, No Man Knows My History revised so much of what the general public knew about Mormon history, the majority of which was known by a small subsect of Mormon historians, but was hidden away from the general believing population as they thought the reality would conflict with faith. Now, the millions who’ve read her book understand a revised version of Mormon history which was revised to better reflect reality. In real historical studies, revision is necessary as new information is brought to light or new interpretations of the existing evidence are introduced. If not for Brodie’s historical revision, millions of people may never have known about Jo’s career as an occult magician prior to the BoM, or that he used the same seer stone used for hunting buried treasure to dictate the BoM out of a goddamn top hat.

The point is, historical revision is a powerful tool. Just like fire that can cook your food and heat your home just as easily as burn your home to the ground, historical revision is a tool that should be wielded with accuracy and restraint. When motivated story-telling gets in the way of reporting historical facts, we need to recognize it for what it really is… Lying for the lord.

Prof CJ

Here to talk History and American politics, along with a bit about the importance of accurate and reasonable historical revision is a man who gets just as frustrated with bullshit history as I do and has a podcast devoted to telling the dangerous version of history. You’re going to hear half of the interview on the show today. If you want to hear the full conversation, you can either listen through patreon.com/nakedmormonism, or go listen to this conversation on his Dangerous History Podcast feed where you’ll hear the uncut version of our conversation, and you might as well subscribe to his show while you’re there. Without further ado, here’s today’s interview.

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