Ep 22 – Priestcraft Hypocrisy – A Spine is Grown and Broken
On this episode, we talk about the people that Joe named to be his primary persecutors in Colesville, N.Y. Joe has to give a revelation to lift everybody's spirits, which results in the introduction of 'priestcraft', and the first real insurrection. Ollie opposes Joe, and Joe breaks his newly formed spine, like usual.
Outro music used with permission
FairMormon on Joseph Smith persecution
"The Mormons or Latter-Day Saints, in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake:
A History of Their Rise and Progress, Peculiar Doctrines, Present
Welcome to episode 22 of the Naked Mormonism Podcast, I'm Bryce Blankenagel, and thank you for joining me.
Last Episode, we covered the two and a half month period from Early April, to late June 1830. From the first congregation of the church, to casting out demons, to two trials and acquittals, Joe had a very busy Spring that year. It's taken us a while to get to this point, but now we can really see Joe start to embody the personality of the token cult leader that he slowly became. So far, he's had some personality traits that have been leaning in his favor of becoming this cult leader, however, he hasn't actually had the infrastructure built under his control, to actually lead anybody more than just his closest friends that believed everything he said. Well, it takes a lot of work and travel to set up such an infrastructure. I guess it's either work by Joe himself, or just being able to outsource the work by using his closest friends that had a special place in the church. I mean, we know that Joe hated doing work, but he liked giving commands, and was good and convincing at it apparently. Giving commands in order to build an empire on, is exactly what he had been trying to do for so long, but now he had a tool. Not just a tool like Precious or Mr. Hat, because those weren't very compelling, when it came to trying to legitimize Joe to newcomers. I'm talking about a powerful physical tool that could be used control the very hearts and minds of these newcomers. It was a book.
Many people in the past have stood on the mantle of the bible, and have used it to build entire empires of theocratic rule. A religious text is something that can be so useful to the person preaching from it. The bible and book of mormon are written in ways that allow and almost require a person to think deeply and introspectively. There's enough material in them to extract pretty much anything wanted out of the chapter/verse like structure. For example, you can rationalize the Isrealites following the command of god to go kill the Canaanites, down to the suckling children, if you only look a few verses later in Deuteronomy 21:8-9, this is what it says "8) Forgive Your people Israel whom You have redeemed, O LORD, and do not place the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of Your people Israel.' And the blood guiltiness shall be forgiven them. 9) So you shall remove the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the eyes of the LORD." Once you read that, you can justify killing people, or taking innocent blood, because things can be interpretted so many ways when reading a holy book. The point is, when somebody professes to understand that holy book better than most, other people tend to fall in line behind that person, because they believe that it'll somehow help them become more godly, or become more like the person they're trying to emulate. A charismatic Jesus preacher can gain a pretty large following running off just the bible. Now picture how much more powerful that preacher becomes, when he understands the bible, and god, so well, that god came to him to write another testament of Jesus Christ. Picture being the religious sect that worships the old testament in all its horrible glory, the New testament with its ass-kickin messiah, and torture porn ending, and the new NEW testament, Jesus in 'Merica.
That's the platform Joe was running on. He was so righteous and pious, that God and Jesus came to him, to be the next author in the long lineup of authors that make up the bible, and Joe could work that position like a charisma seeping, fame-whore. This is how he could gain a following, but also serves to explain a little bit about the so called "Persecution" that Joe had to endure up to this point.
The problem was, Joe was claiming that he was so righteous, that he was given magic powers by Almighty God, to write a book, in the same way he looked for buried treasure, and then charge people money for it. That didn't sit well with people that knew Joe's history, or were familiar with his character. That's precisely why these people took him to trial twice in one week, basically for being a bold-faced fraud. The people didn't like being lied to, and they knew Joe was lying through his teeth the instant he said he had found buried gold plates, and translated them into a holy third testament of Jesus. Honestly, I don't particularly blame them.
Dr. Oz recently went to trial for endorsing remedies to cure actual illnesses that don't work, yet he still has a tv show wearing his scrubs that have never had blood on them, and continues to pull in a multi-million dollar salary, even though it's been demonstrated that he's a fraud to a certain extent. Well, Joe was just an early 19th century snake oil salesman like Oz is today, however, he had a special new Jesus book to help him claim divinity in his practices.
So, let's move on to what Joe and Co. Were up to after all that happened last episode. Joe had been through a trial that was demanded by a mob, and got off on a technicality. Naturally, the mob wasn't satisfied with what had happened, so they were seeking retribution for this little lapse in the judicial system. Everybody in town knew that Joe was a fraud, and had been for quite some time. Now he had taken his fraud activities to the next level by peddling a book that he came up with, in the same exact way he had hunted for buried treasure, the rock in the hat. For the most part, the people of Colesville weren't buying it. They weren't even renting it, they just rejected what Joe was claiming outright because of little more than his reputation. They knew him as a fraud, and they didn't need to read his fraudulent bible fan-fiction in order to determine it, they just knew. Well, Joe couldn't just let this so-called 'persecution' go unfed. He couldn't just let the fire in the town die, he had to go in and stoke the flames a little more. That's right, less than a week after he was basically chased out of town by an angry mob, after he had escaped the legal system twice, Joe returned to Colesville, along with Ollie Cowdung Allover, to reap a few very young seeds that were planted during Joe's time there. This later journey, a mere week or two after the trials, was an immediate failure, thanks, once again, to the angry mob.
The Mormon home base in Colesville was the Knight household, which is probably where they held their congregations. See, the entire Knight family had converted, along with some of their friends, the Jolly's and Richard Peterson, and Joe considered this one of his three congregations. They may, or may not, have been having actual sunday meetings as mandated by Joseph, regardless, they were considered his third flock of early Mormonites.
Well, in order to harvest these recently planted seeds of faith, Joe brought his tool, Ollie, to baptize and confirm everybody that the Knights and Jollys had been talking to. But, upon arrival, the mob almost instantly gathered at the Knight house. Somebody must have seen Joe wandering into town, or maybe it was just a rumor that was circulated, but the townspeople wanted Joe the fuck out of Colesville. Let's read from the History of the Church vol. 1, to understand how Joe recounts the situation.
"Further Molestation at Colesville by Mobs—The Revelation Embodying the Vision of Moses.
Second Flight from Colesville.
After a few days I returned to Colesville, in company with Oliver Cowdery, for the purpose of confirming those whom we had been forced to leave for a time. We had scarcely arrived at Mr. Knight's, when the mob was seen collecting together to oppose us, and we considered it wisdom to leave for home, which we did, without even waiting for any refreshments. Our enemies pursued us, and it was oftentimes as much as we could do to elude them. However, we managed to get home, after having traveled all night, except a short time, during which we were forced to rest ourselves under a large tree by the wayside, sleeping and watching alternately."
This mob hated Joe, and the Book of Mormon enough, that they resorted to literally chasing them out of town a second time. I also think it's funny how Joe records it, "we considered it wisdom to leave for home". It's just hilarious that he tells it like he was in control of the situation the whole time. It's pretty clear that the mob literally forced them out of town, and Joe and Ollie didn't have much say in the situation. I mean, what could they do? They could either leave town, or get the shit kicked out of them, or possibly even get lynched by the mob. There really wasn't a choice there, unless Joe was willing to face his martyrdom this early in his journey. But let's face it, Joe never faced an actual martyrdom, even when he was supposedly martyred, there's no way he would just sit there and take it like some kind of Ammonite, or self-imolator, at this early stage in his journey. He had the sense to turn tail and make like a tree and get the fuck out of there. Anyway, I'm not sure exatly where Joe was calling home at this point. It's recorded that they travelled all night and arrived home. However, Colesville is 95 miles from Fayette, 148 from Manchester/Palmyra, and 375 miles from Harmony, PA. Harmony was where Joe was calling home only a few months prior, and directly after this. Let's assume the most logical thing, that Joe was calling Harmony home during this time, it should have taken him and Ollie a solid 100 hours of walking to get there. How that was done in one night with very little rest, the world may never know. Maybe it was done by the same way that Joe was able to run for 3 miles with 220 lb gold plates under his arm, only 3 years prior to this scenario, but I suppose that's just speculation.
Let's continue in the History of the Church vol.1 page 97.
"Reflections on Persecution.
Thus were we persecuted on account of our religious faith—in a country the Constitution of which guarantees to every man the indefeasible right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience—and by men, too, who were professors of religion, and who were not backward to maintain the right of religious liberty for themselves, though they could thus wantonly deny it to us."
Alright, let's talk about this for a minute. First, Joe getting off on technicalities, is a perfect demonstration of his religious liberty in the country. His rights were never violated during everything we've talked about so far. Secondly, last episode I said that I couldn't really understand why these people hated Joe so much. I'm getting a better grasp on it, but it seems like there might be something more to it. Maybe there's some magic key that made Joe such a pariah, or maybe I'm just not seeing the picture as a whole. Or, maybe it's what I was told about Joe growing up that's currently obfuscating my view of the situation now.
We're taught in the church that Joe was a holy and pious prophet of God. He was unflappable and infallible, and every bit of persecution he endured was completely unfounded, and was therefore incited by the devil himself. When you read Joe's versions, it was always the devil, or evil designing persons, or something to that effect. Joe, and the church by extension, completely remove the human element from the entire equation. Joe was a person and we have to try and get into his mind. What's more, everybody that was 'persecuting' him was an individual person too. I don't know exactly what was going through Joe's mind, however, we can surmise that he asserted his convictions with a full heart, and full intent. Whether or not he actually believed his own bullshit is another discussion entirely. That being said, I think it might be even harder to get into the minds of the people in the mob. They weren't just a faceless mob, they were bakers, and farmers, and teachers, and all kinds of people in a regular small community for every other minute of their lives that they weren't part of this mob. My question about it is, why did these people hate Joseph Smith so much?
I know when a person feels threatened, they will go to some pretty extreme lengths to ensure their safety. Even if the threat is just an idea, existentially it has the same effect on the acting agents. So is this the heart of the matter, when it comes to these people wanting to get rid of Joe so much? I'm really trying to gain a grasp on it. Did the people of Colesville honestly think that their faith was in this much jeapordy? Was it enough that they thought Joe was going to pull them away from their existing faith? Or was there something else to it? I'm asking this in an honest pursuit of the actual answer. The only thing that I can bring myself to think of it, was the townspeople must have been afraid of a wolf in treasure seeker's clothing. I mean let's face it, when you have the right religion, every other religion out there is clearly of the devil. Anybody raised in a more fundamentalist religion of any type should be able to empathize with this. Shit, the LDS church calls the catholic church "The Great and Abominable Church" for that same reason. I think these people just saw Joe as clearly possessed by the devil, and acting on carnal desires alone. He was just there to bring the country to it's knees with the newest wave of a false Jesus, to consume it's way across the burned-over district, like so many before Mormonism had. If they truly thought that Joe was sent by, possessed by, or controlled by the devil in any way shape or form, this level of hatred against Joe seems justified, in a primitive mindset sort of way.
I wonder if he was labeled with the same label that every threat to society is labeled by overly conservative people. I wonder if anybody called him the anti-christ for what he was doing. It seems like that opinion would have been enough of a motivating factor alone to make the mob hate Joe, and forcably devolve him to the level of pariah, that he never ultimately recovered from. Like I've said before, he was a polarizing individual. The people that knew him, or had ever been burned by his shenanigans, must have hated the very thought of him. Put yourself in their shoes. Picture the person you hate most on the entire planet. They could be somebody you know, or just the idea of somebody, like hitler or something. Now picture that person coming to you with a book in their hand, that they wrote mind you, calling it a new testament of Jesus Christ, and calling you to repentance, thus completely shaking the foundation of your deeply held religious beliefs. You either agree with that person, and follow them, or you hate them, and do whatever necessary to get rid of them. People that lived in 1830 aren't much different than we are today, arguably they're no different. They're subject to the same tendencies and emotions that we are subject to today, they simply had less tools to deal with reality than we have. Well, I think this gives us some insight into Joseph Smith, and his character.
Beyond that, Joe had to practice. He had been swindling people out of habit and necessity for most of his formative years, but he had never tried to purchase somebody's soul with his own church before. When he was first starting out, he could only get his best friends to join this crazy new Jesus cult. But of course, as he practiced, and gained more followers, he got better and better at his bullshit. There was also a degree of separation that can't be ignored. The top of his pyramid was formed out of the few people that he trusted the most, and by extension, they spent a lot of time with him. The people that were closest to him, like Oliver Cowdery, Emma Smith, the Whitmer family, were the most capable of calling Joe out on his bullshit, and whenever they did throughout the history, massive schisms happened, and rival factions of Mormonism emerged from the ashes. Well, the people that spent the most time around Joe, knew him best on a personal level, which is something that the later members of the church didn't have access to. The more people Joe got to follow him, the less each new person knew about, or spent time with him, to the point that he could make his followers believe almost anything, without them ever questioning him as an equal human being. Joe built this separation mechanism into the chruch. Now extrapolate that out 180 plus years, and there you have the key to how Mormons feel about Joe and their leadership today. That's why they carry such high revere in the church, and when TBMs hear about Joe getting arrested, they are able to say, "Well he was just a man like the rest of us, it has no bearing on him being a prophet of god". Or for a more pertinent example, when Mormons hear that Joe was attacked by multiple mobs, but was somewhat deserving of it because of his actions, they can rationalize it away by saying, "If he wasn't a true prophet of god, then why were the people so opposed to him. His persecution proves that he was a real prophet". I know that may sound ridiculous, but that is the mindset that Mormons have about Joe and the type of person he was. He was somehow separated from all the bad shit he did. Like when it comes to the golden plates, or anything related to the church he organized, that's the one exception to all his lying and swindling. It's just this one thing that Joe never lied about, because he was speaking and acting for god when it came to the church. Reconnecting those two opposing perspectives of Joe, is paramount for a Mormon that's transitioning out of the church. With everything I've learned about Joe, it's given me an all new perspective of the man Joseph Smith. But as I related at the beginning of this rant, I still have a hard time compartmentalizing the cardboard cut-out Joseph Smith that I know from my childhood, apart from the actual Joe that reality is slowly constructing right in front of us. It seems like the believing Mormon is talking about a completely different Joseph Smith, than the Joe that we can construct from documented history.
So why was Joe so persecuted, I want to get to the bottom of this? Like I said earlier, I don't know if my previous opinions of Joseph Smith, are what's keeping me from filling in this ever important piece of the puzzle. The natural explanation at hand seems ample enough to justify the mob's actions, but it just seems like there's something more there. I'm hoping to get some perspective from the listeners here. I'm really working to understand this, as well as articulate it in a way that fills the void. If anybody has any idea of why Joe was the hated pariah that's become the center of this show, I want to hear it. I want opinions from ex-Mormons who have to deal with this same dichotomy of character that I'm dealing with, and I would also like to get some Never-Mormons to chime in and offer their perspective, without having to deal with the burden of suppressing the reported version of the prophet Joseph Smith, like ex-Mormons have to. Was Joe so hated because he was the local treasure hunter turned anti-Christ? Or was he an habitual liar? Or was there something more there that I'm not seeing? This will be a recurring question throughout the entire history of the church. I want to know what drove Lilburn Boggs to sign the Mormon extermination order, which basically gave free license to anybody to shoot and kill any Mormon on sight. I want to know why Joe, and the early Mormons, were chased out of their homes repeatedly. I want to know why hundreds of people gathered in Carthage to lynch Joe and Hyrum. There was something about Joe and the early Mormons that really unnerved people, and caused them to act very harshly toward the Mormons. These social opinions of Joesph, along with mob mentality, ultimately precipitated Joe's death by the bloodied rifle barrels of the mob.
Speculation on Joe's character aside, let's talk about the next segment of what Joe included in his history of the church.
"For instance, Cyrus McMaster, a Presbyterian of high standing in his church, was one of the chief instigators of these persecutions; and he at one time told me personally that he considered me guilty without judge or jury. The celebrated Dr. Boyington, also a Presbyterian, was another instigator of these deeds of outrage; whilst a young man named Benton, of the same religious faith, swore out the first warrant against me. I could mention many others also, but for brevity's sake, will make these suffice for the present."
This was Joe's shitlist of the people that were primary persecutors of the mobs. After a couple hours of furious googling, I couldn't find any mention of these guys that wasn't somehow related to a publication by the church itself, that used this passage specifically to extrapolate on. I tried and tried to find a journal entry, or minutes from their congregations that referenced Joe or his church in some way, but the search just came up dry. Some of the Mormon publications about these guys are somewhat fascinating, implying some kind of conspiracy among them and others to persecute Joe, or demonizing whatever religious sect they were part of, it's lots of fun to read what the Mormons have to say about the people that were beating up their prophet. But, as I dug in to the names surrounding these guys, it did become somewhat clear. It seems like McMaster, and Benton were part of the same Presbyterian congregation the Stowells were members of. Why this is significant, is the implication of the connection between the 1826 trial, and the two 1830 trials.
Follow me down this rabbit hole for a second. Bossman Josiah Stowell was one of the few witnesses that came to Joe's defense for the 3 trials. Bossman Josiah Stowell is the center of everything here, keep that in mind. According to a permit we have on record for some dam building project in N.Y., Bossman Joe and Cyrus McMaster were business partners in 1826, and probably knew each other for a long time before and after that. Well, Cyrus's brother was David McMaster, who was one of the prosecuting witnesses during the 1826 trial. Cyrus was a prosecuting witness during the 1830 trials. Cyrus was married to a woman named Electa Bridgeman, who was the sister of Peter Bridgeman. Hopefully that name rings a bell, but if not, it's ok. There's a lot of names thrown around on this show, and this name first popped up 11 episodes ago. Peter Bridgeman was the person who filed the complaint against Joe in the first place in 1826, which brought Joe to trial for "Glass-looking" in South Bainbridge N.Y., a crime for which he was convicted.
Keep with me here for just a minute longer. Next in Joe's list of so called persecutors was "The celebrated Dr. Boyington", who was actually named Nathan Boynton. This guy was also probably a member of the Presbyterian church that the McMasters attended. Well, Nathan Boynton was married to Lepha Stowell who was Bossman Joe's sister, making Boynton an in-law of the Stowells.
Next in the list we have Abraham Benton. He's the odd man out that shares no familial ties with the rest of the family web we've just strung together, with all the previous names. However, Benton did study medicine under "The celebrated Dr. Boyington", and was probably an assistant, or worked closely with Boynton. Benton doesn't come up anywhere before this point when we're talking about the 1830 trial, which puts the timing as something of an oddity. The reason I say that is because of Abraham Benton's cousin. Harriet Benton, a very short time before the 1830 trials, married a man named Lyman Wight. This is a man that'll be recurring frequently throughout our examination of Church history. A month or two after the 1830 trials, Harriet and Lyman packed up and moved to Ohio, where they were pastored by the one and only Hingepin Sidney Rigdon. They would become Mormonites very soon after that.
The reason I say that the timing is something of an oddity, is because of the connection to the Mormon religion that Abraham Benton had. He hated Joe and his church, and their frankenstein Book of Mormon, just as much as the next guy in line, but he had this small family connection to the church. If there's one thing we know about the early church, it's when one person in a family is taken away by the Mormon cult, the rest of the family turns on the cult and does whatever possible to stop it. Shit that happens today with people inside all types of religious sects. I think it has something to do with not wanting the devil to have power of people's loved ones. Well, this was a connection, with a negative outcome, that Abraham Benton had in relation to Joe's church. The church was in the early stages of stealing away his cousin Harriet Benton, and forcing her to move around with the Mormons as Lyman Wight's wife. But the problem with the timing is just that. When they moved to Ohio to be pastored by Hingepin Rigdon, the church hadn't spread out there yet. The church had three official meeting places at this point, and Mentor, Ohio was not yet one of them. There are people that claim a significant role by Hingepin Rigdon in the organization of the early Mormon church, and based off the information presented in a few episodes of this show, I would be one of those people. There are people that quote Rigdon with very interesting claims before he supposedly knew about the BoM. Nothing was said directly, but there are subtle hints that Rigdon was priming his masses to become Mormonites well before he was supposed to have read the BoM, and known about the church. Well, Harriet Benton would have fallen victim to this Joe-Rigdon conspiracy right in the time frame that we're currently examining. If Harriet was being sucked into the early church, it might serve to explain why Abraham Benton was so violently opposed to the church, and why Joe called him one of the three worst persecutors of his early church, on par with the people who sued him for being a disorderly person, on three other occassions. Either that, or Benton was just friends with the other people we've talked about just now, and hated Joe just to be on their side. I think it's a matter of what's most convincing. If Abraham Benton hated the church this much in the 1830's, so much so, that Joe picked him out of a crowd of dozens to star in his own personal history of the church, then this familial connection serves as a weak piece of connective evidence for the pre-1830 Rigdon-Joseph correspondence theory. The connection might not be strong, and it may require a few steps to get there, but it seems slightly convincing from what I've been able to find in the research for this episode. This is just one of a few connections that bolster the pre 1830 Joe-Rigdon connection that we'll be examining today.
Speaking of what's most convincing, that's what we try to focus on here. What's the most convincing model we can construct of early Mormon history? Let's take a step back and look at the model we've constructed surrounding these individuals so far. We have Cyrus and David McMaster, who were persecutors of Joe, and prosecuting witnesses against him respectfully. Then, we have their in-law connection to Peter Bridgeman, who was the first guy that filed a lawsuit against Joe, in 1826, on behalf of Bossman Josiah Stowell, of whom Peter Bridgeman was a relative. Next we have Nathan Boynton, who married into the Stowell family. He was apparently enough of a persecutor that Joe named him out of the mob of Mormon haters for what he was doing. And finally, we have Abraham Benton with a historically weak connection to the early Mormon church in Ohio, through Hingepin Sidney Rigdon, months before Rigdon supposedly even knew about the Book of Mormon.
Who is the single person at the center of it all? Well, Joe for one thing, because if he wasn't doing what he was doing, then we wouldn't be talking about this right now, but I'm more interested in Bossman Josiah Stowell. He was the one person with connections to every single person that was listed, that violently despised Joe, and wanted to rip him out of his place of manufactured power, just like the mob wanted to rip him out of the constable's wagon when the wheel conveniently fell off in Colesville.
Bossman Josiah Stowell was the only person in this group that had any sort of favorable attitude towards Joe. He had originally hired Joe for some treasure seeking. If we remember back to the 1826 trial, Bossman Joe regaled us with a story of treasure digging with Joseph Smith. Apparently, in late 1825, Joe looked in precious and Mr. Hat in an effort to find treasure for his employer. According to Bossman Joe, and Joe himself, he saw treasure buried with a feather in a certain place. The Joe duo went digging late at night in the place that Joe had marked out, and they definitely found something. It was the feather. No treasure to accompany the feather, probably because the fuckin ground gnomes had their way with it, but the feather still remained, and they exhumed it from it's burial place. We can look back at that nowadays and say Joe was obviously pulling a fast one on Bossman Joe. They reportedly went at night so Bossman Joe couldn't tell that the ground had been previously dug up by Joe, in order to plant the feather. Well, it was in the wake of this shenanigan that Peter Bridgeman, Bossman Joe's nephew, filed the 1826 complaint against Joe, which brought him to his first trial that historians are aware of.
Bossman Joe obviously wasn't deterred by the findings of this first trial, even though details he gave in his testimony, helped to render a guilty verdict against Joe. Bossman Joe came to Joe's defense in both the 1830 trials and became the one testimony that got Joe dismissed on the bullshit technicality of the statute of limitations, so he still considered Joe to be legit. What's more, Bossman Joe believed in Joe enough to get baptized into his church in Manchester. It seems like nothing could rip Bossman Joe away from the cancerous parasite that was, Joseph Smith. Given the circumstances, I think his fellow Presbyterian friends were concerned with Bossman Joe's wellbeing.
The reason I'm harping on this so much is to consider the two sides of the argument that explain the evidence here. It'll take a minute to construct and compare both sides, but I think it's pretty revealing once we hash it all out.
First we have the Mormon perspective of explaining the evidence. They classify all of it as unfounded religious persecution by a rival Jesus faction. They would say that the locals felt threatened by the young prophet, and answered that fear with ostracization and abuse. They would say that there were only a select few that listened to Joseph Smith, and followed his teachings, and the rest opposed it so much that, they couldn't help but persecute the prophet, for the wonderful work he was bringing forth. Most of them would claim that people violently disagreed with divinely inspired visions of God or Jesus, let alone both, and wanted to abuse Joseph for claiming such blasphemous things, and this perfectly explains why all the local religious people were trying to get him thrown in jail, or just beat him up. And of course, we have the outlier that saw the truth, Josiah Stowell. He was the only one in the group that was enlightened enough to see the prophet's true divinity, and therefore stuck with him through thick and thin.
While that may offer some explanatory power, this explanation has a few holes in it. First, and least importantly, Mormons claim that the first vision in 1820 with God and Jesus floating above Joseph in the forest, was a claim that Joe made in the early church and was heavily persecuted for. Well, as we've covered before, this story didn't come out until 1838, long after any of this early persecution that we're talking about was happening. Even worse, the story didn't reach it's current form until some time after 1838 which is a huge black mark on the veracity of what the story claims. The bigger problem with this divinity claim is the lack of evidence that would be expected, had Joe been claiming the current telling was the story the whole time. People would have reported a young Joseph Smith claiming to have seen God and Jesus Christ as two separate beings, floating above his head in a forest in 1820. Those were radical claims, that were counter to what most people considered Christianity. People reported him seeing the angel Moroni in 1823, but the much bigger claim of God and Jesus as two separate corporeal beings, dressed in pure white, is something that documented history is completely silent on. Even the people close to Joe, Ollie Cowdung and D-Day David Whitmer, considered this 1820 story fabricated, because they hadn't heard of it before the church was organized. Joe just kind of slipped it into the history to add false legitimacy after the fact. My point is that people couldn't have been persecuting Joe for this one single radical claim of seeing God and Jesus, because he hadn't made it yet.
Now on to the more important part of the argument against the Mormon side for explaining the evidence here. I referenced it earlier, but I need to explain it a little deeper. I think Bossman Joe's fellow Presbyterians and family members were worried about his wellbeing. Let's face it, Joe had swindled Bossman Joe out of wages for treasure hunting a couple of times in a couple of locations. Joe was clever about it too, at least he thought he was. Like in the case of Harris Stowell, Bossman Joe's brother. Harris attempted to imperically test Joe by hiding a bag of grain in his own barn, and asking Joe to find it. Joe utterly and completely failed, and even asked Bossman Joe to give up the location of the bag for a couple of quarters. This was a story told under oath in a court of law. That doesn't make it completely accurate, but it does lend a fair amount of credibility to the claim. Joe had created a habit of swindling Bossman Joe, and Bossman Joe was a complete sucker for it all. He bought everything wholesale, hook, line, and sinker, and Joe was able to work him like an anthropormorphic version of precious, cuz let's face it, that rock had no idea what the fuck was Joe was doing, kinda like Bossman Joe didn't.
There's an overall point here. Is it likely that all of Bossman Joe's friends saw what was going on between him and young charlatan Joe, and wanted to save Josiah from the trappings of this prolific hocus-pocus hocking huckster? Put yourself in the shoes of Peter Bridgeman, or Nathan Boynton, or Cyrus McMaster, or any other person that was a close friend of Bossman Joe. If you saw one of your friends being bled more and more every day by a parasite like Joseph Smith, wouldn't you do whatever possible to try and save him, whether legal, or extra-legal? Maybe this is why so many people were pushing against the unstoppable consuming fire that was Joseph Smith, with such force.
So let's compare the two sides of the argument that attempt to explain the evidence. What is more likely? Was Bossman Josiah Stowell, the only person that was righteous and enlightened enough to follow the holy prophet of God, in the latter days, in establishing the earthly kingdom of God, the one and only Joseph Smith? Meaning every person that was persecuting Joseph Smith was misinformed or compelled to do so by the devil. Or, is it more likely that Joe had successfully deceived Bossman Joe, and every person around Bossman Joe could smell the bullshit, and were trying to free Bossman Joe from the ravenous clutches of Joe the ignoramous? Which argument really makes the most sense in explaining the evidence? I suppose you can probably see through the bias built into the script in constructing this argument, so I'll remove my bias and let you judge for yourself. Consider my argument with it's bias, and then check out the first link in the show notes. It's a link to the fairmormon blog with the article that I took the Mormon side of this argument from. For anybody that isn't aware by this point, fairmormon is a volunteer based Mormon apologist website. You can look up pretty much any topic that challenges Mormon history, and find out an apologists answer to the facts. I encourage anybody that's in the pursuit of knowlege, beyond what I present, to look at this article and judge my argument against what's argued on the website, and see which argument holds up to simple logic. Seriously, please look it up. If I fucked up my logic somehow, let me know.
Joes 2 trials aside, what happened next? Well, it was something pretty special for a couple of reasons. Joe gave his first revelation that would eventually be included in the Pricey Pearl of Great Price. In late June of 1830, Joe revealed the book of Moses. This was in the wake of the trials, and I honestly think that Joe was trying to restore some credibility somehow. So, he provided revelation of a new perspective on the story of Moses. This was interesting, because it isn't written in the format that the bible is written in. Specifically the Pentatuch, which is the first five books of the old testament, were supposedly written by Moses, and they use a very unique style. This is presupposing that Moses was indeed a real person which evidence points to that being the wrong presumption. Regardless of how the bible was written, Joe had to bring about the bible 2.0, and write things in a whole new way. That's how you could tell that he was a legitimate prophet of god, he brought new perspective to the same old shitbags that were Yahweh and Jehovah. Joe revealed this, as he did with all his revelations, from God's perspective. This was fairly unique at the time. Not many people, even in the Jesus knob gobbling burned over district, were bold enough to do some crazy shit like this. Joe was a pioneer when it came to premium, platinum level, grade A bullshit. I'll just read a few verses from this to get an idea of what the entire thing is like. If anybody wants to hear the passage in it's entirety, check out My Book of Mormon Podcast Episode 83. This is from the very first chapter in the Book of Moses.
"4. And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease.
5. Wherefore, no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth.
6. And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all."
Just a little sidenote here. I find it interesting that Joe revealed everything from God's perspective. I suppose it's internally consistent, Joe being the mouthpiece of God and whatnot. But when you take a step back, the irony tends to strike quite hard. What I'm referring to is the commandment of "Thou shalt not take the name of the lord thy god in vain". This is a commandment that's been left up to interpretation since being recorded as part of the Mosaic law. A lot of bible scholars would argue that it had something to do with cursing god, or cursing someone in the name of god. But the more important thing that makes it ironic in the Mormon religion is how it's interpretted by Mormons. They consider swearing in the name of god to be taking the Lord's name in vain. Phrases like "Oh my God" are strictly forbidden by true blue Mormons. Saying something like that, is the quickest way to offend a Mormon. Of course, if you expound on it, it just adds to the degrees of condemnation.
Phrases like "Jesus H. Titty-fucking Christ", or "Holy Mother of God", or "Holy fucking Goddamn dogshit", or "God fucking Dammit", or "Goodness gracious god's great balls of fuck-you-over fire" or anything like that.
The reason I bring this up is to comment on the irony. When you're talking about taking the Lord's name in vain, biblically speaking, it's very different from what we consider vaining today. The ancient Hebrews didn't say "Oh my Yahweh", that's a fairly modern phrase. What they considered to be taking the Lord's name in vain, was claiming that you're speaking for God when you actually aren't. That's the reason that this commandment is couched in a list of 3 other commandments about having no other gods before Yahweh, and the Lord being a jealous God. This is even reflected in the new testament in Luke 9. Jesus and his desciples are walking, and happen upon a person that's casting out demons in Jesus' name. John the beloved tries to stop the guy, because the man is taking Jesus' name in vain. Then Jesus answers with the paltitude of "Do not stop him, for anybody that is not against us, is for us". Remember, this was a group of Jews walking around that were observing the ancient levitical laws, of which the ten commandments were a part of. That was the sticking point, and why John tried to stop this guy, he was taking Jesus' name in vain, by trying to use it to cast out the demons.
That is what's meant by "taking the Lord's name in vain" in the biblical perspective. Mormons have it all wrong, and don't understand the biblical perspective. The Mormon understanding is completely missing the point that the Bible is trying to make with that commandment. That being said, let's talk about Joe's revelations. He wasn't just acting in the name of God falsly, he was claiming divine providence by being a conduit for God. Joe was claiming to literally speak for god. This isn't some hidden thing in the church, the prophet of the church is often called the mouthpiece of God for this very reason. What could possibly be considered more "taking the Lord's name in vain", than falsly speaking for God, or giving "so-called" divine revelation from the perspective of God? Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion is responsible for the largest violation of this commandment since the prophet Muhammed in my opinion. Many others have claimed that they had a connection to God, or they had some kind of insight into the mind of God, but few have ever claimed that they were speaking as God himself. This is the absolute height of blasphemy, all things considered. None of the phrases that I said before were anywhere near as offensive as anything that Joe said. I was just saying words with God at the beginning, middle or end. Joe was speaking as God himself, or revealing scripture from the first person perspective of God. Let's try to empathize with God here. What's more offensive? I'll be using the word listener here, but just insert your own name here to help illustrate the point. Listener fucking dammit, or lis-titty-fucking tener? Or is somebody saying "Listener spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Listener Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?" What is truly more offensive to you as the God that created these beings? Picture this from God's perspective. You create the heavens, the earth, the universe, the cosmos, the primordial soup that all life evolved from on Earth, and one of those pathetic little creatures, puts words in your mouth, or claims to be speaking as you, from your perspective. In the Judeo-Christian perspective, what is more offensive? What is actually considered more blasphemous? I would argue that speaking for God is more offensive than just swearing using God.
All of this illustrates just how wrong Mormons have it. It tells us just how much Joe, and the current LDS church, misunderstand the commandment of taking the lords name in vain, and the bible as a whole. That was just a small aside about shit that's offensive to believing Mormons, let's get back to the timeline.
At this point, people were kind of down on Joe since his two arrests and trials, wherein he very narrowly escaped conviction. Joe had to do something that would resurrect just how genuine his divine revelations were, so he revealed this chapter of Moses, that would later be included in the Pricey Pearl.
After Joe gave this revelation, He, and Ollie Cowdung Allover made another attempt to go to Colesville, and baptize the people that said they would be, and properly organize the church. Until this time, the Knight's and a couple of other people had just been meeting in the Knight house, and that was considered the Colesville congregation of the church. Of course, when they got there, they were chased out, and fled to Harmony, PA. At this point, Joe effectively swore off that congregation, and just had to dictate his directions by mail, or messenger, for his own safety. If Joe ever set foot back in Colesville again, he would either be drug out to the streets and beaten, or just straight up lynched. So, for some reason, he was a little afraid of the people of Colesville, and I don't really blame him. But, it all stands to reason. The people felt wronged by what Joe had done, and was doing, and they had already tried by legal means, to get satisfaction for his fraudulent practices. Once Joe escaped on the technicalities, the people would probably demand satisfaction by any means necessary, because the legal system had failed them.
So, Joe and Ollie go hang out at the Hale in-laws in Harmony, living in the house that Joe was attempting to purchase from his father in-law Isaac Hale. It had just ticked into July of 1830, and Joe received a few more revelations from God about what was going on, and what they were supposed to do next. I'll just read a few excerpts from those revelations. They comprise the Book of Commandments, chapters 25, 26, and 27, and there are a few things in here to focus on that set Joe up for the rest of his life in the church.
"Behold thou wast called and chosen to write the book of Mormon;
- and I have lifted thee up out of thine afflictions, and have counseled thee, that thou hast been delivered from all thine enenmies, and thou hast been delivered from the powers of Satan, and from darkness!
- Nevertheless, thou art not excusable in thy transgressions; nevertheless go thy way and sin no more.
- Magnifiy thine office;"
The passage we just read was pretty standard procedure when it comes to Joe's revelations. Basically, Joe ascribes their narrow misses in the past as given to them by God, and then God tells Joe that he's not under any condemnation for his sins, but that he should go forth and sin no more. This is like the third time we've read those exact words on this show, and I'll just reiterate my argument with a very simple question. If Joe was indeed the pious young prophet he claimed to be, why would God need to continually excuse him for his sins, or tell him over and over again to go forward and sin no more like the woman caught in adultery by the scribes and Pharisees in John 8? Obviously, Joe wasn't as clean from sin as the current day church seems to report, so much so, that Joe had to consistently tell everybody that God forgave him for his transgressions at the beginning of a bunch of his revelations. We're really starting to see the beginning phase of Joe's revelations morphing from problem solving, into self-serving problem solving. Let's continue on a little later in that same chapter. It seems to reveal a lot about Joe's personality.
This is one extremely telling passage when we try to peer through the text into the window of Joe's mind. Basically, he said that his office and calling are to work in the church, and in this, he shall have strength. Remember, I keep reiterating this, but remember, this is Joe speaking as the only living mouthpiece for the almighty God of the universe. After he said that he would have strength for working for the church, he says that "in temporal labors thou shalt not have strength, for this is not thy calling".
What a pompous jackass right? Basically he gave revelation from God that he's supposed to work on the church only, and that he wouldn't be able to do temporal labors because they aren't his calling. Alright, I get where he's coming from on this. When you take on a project like starting a church, or creating, editing and producing a podcast on the history of said church, it's a lot easier to focus on that one thing when you don't have a day-job. Joe was able to swear off all physical labor for money, and tell everybody that his church was to be his one and only focus. Bravo, really. I mean, the only people around that he was revealing this to were the Hale's, his wife Emma, Ollie Cowdung, and John Whitmer, but, it was printed as part of the commandments of the church, given as revelation from Joe, and it would forever be cemented into the annals of church history. That was one momentus revelation by Joe, however, the best part comes up in the next part of the passage. Joe starts aiming the revelation at Ollie, and some of the shit that he says might just blow your mind. Growing up Mormon, I never knew that Mormons had some of the powers that Joe is about to list out for Ollie.
"**10 **And thy brother Oliver shall continue in bearing my name before the world, and also to the church. And he shall not suppose that he can say enough in my cause; and lo, I am with him to the end.
** 11 I**n me he shall have glory, and not of himself, whether in weakness or in strength, whether in bonds or free;
**12 **And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of atrump, both day and night. And I will give unto him strength such as is not known among men.
**13 **Require not miracles, except I shall command you, except casting out devils, healing the sick, and against poisonous serpents, and against deadly poisons;"
That's right, the church that Joe created, that uses the Doctrine and Covenants as it's compilation of holy revelations, is a snake handling, poison drinking death cult. How fucked up is that? I know that the church is big on healings with priesthood blessing that uses annointing oil and whatnot, but when has anybody in the LDS church been bit by a venemous snake, or drank poison, and wasn't hurt by it? I fucking love how this is never talked about in the church. It's right in the Doctrine and Covenants, and it's completely, and outrageously stupid. Like, post thrown monkey shit, sliding down the wall stupid.
So now that Joe gave Ollie super powers that supposedly every true Christian has, Joe turned his focus to the real world problems of the precarious situation he just made. What I'm referring to is that lack of income to survive off of. Joe wasn't bringing in the big bucks like he thought he would with selling the Book of Mormon. Back then, selling a couple copies per day would be enough to sustain Joe and Emma, and possibly even his closest cabinet members in the church. Well, they weren't even able to sell that many, and the investment fund was drying up. Especially because of Not-So-Smarty-Marty. Of course, he'd dropped the 3 grand to publish the book, and he was probably a bit concerned with getting paid back. He was probably taking half of the profits from every book sale to try and chew away at the massive debt. If they were able to sell every one of the 5,000 copies at the $1.75 that Joe initially set out, they would be made in the shade with an extra $5,700 to split up as profit, or reinvestment back into the church. Well, hardly any books were selling, and Joe was desperate for money to live on. Emma was probably badgering him to do something about their lack of money too, I can only imagine how stressed she must have been with the situation. Well, the last few verses of section 25, and the first few verses of the following section, help to take care of that little problem.
" **18 **And thou shalt take no purse nor scrip, neither staves, neither two coats, for the church shall give unto thee in the very hour what thou needest for food and for raiment, and for shoes and for money, and for scrip.
**19 **For thou art called to prune my vineyard with a mighty pruning, yea, even for the last time; yea, and also all those whom thou hast ordained, and they shall do even according to this pattern. Amen.
On to section 26
"Emma, my daughter in Zion, a revelation I give unto you, concerning my will:
2 Behold thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou art an elect lady, whom I have called. 3 Murmur not because of the things which thou hast not seen, for they are withheld from thee, and from the world, which is wisdom in me in a time to come. 4 And the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant Joseph, thy husband, in his afflictions with consoling words, in the spirit of meekeness. 5 And thou shalt go with him at the time of his going, and be unto him for a scribe, that I may send Oliver withersoever I will."
Jumping down to verse 8
"8 And thou needest not fear, for thy husband shall support thee from the church"
And from then on, the leadership of the church would be supported by the church. And somehow, that same doctrine has inflated to Boyd K. Packer having more than $1.6 Million in real estate holdings in the Salt Lake valley before Mormon Satan dragged him back home. I'm not sure where to draw the line between a person being supported by the church, or making money from the church, but I think the current leadership of the LDS church found that line, and fuckin nuked it a long time ago.
So let's talk about what the heart of that revelation was, as opposed to the small details. Basically, Joe was setting up the leadership as it best served the him, or the church leadership at that point. Before these revelations, the primary scribe of the church was Ollie. Well, Joe needed somebody with church authority, to go to Colesville to baptize the new comers, and any time he would go there with Ollie, they would barely escape with their lives. So, Joe decided to alleviate the problem by not going, and sending Ollie as his proxy.
The problem with sending Ollie away, was the fact that Joe no longer had his second in command right by his side helping with usual church duties or being his scribe. So, Joe called Emma to repentance, and gave her the calling of being the church scribe.
John Whitmer was there in the midst of all this as well. Joe gives him a very weird revelation. The content itself isn't really that weird, but there's a small detail in it that's easy to overlook. The revelation is two verses and reads as follows.
"1. Behold, I say unto you that you shall let your time be devoted to the studying of the scriptures, and to preaching, and to confirming the church at Colesville, and to performing your labors on the land, such as is required, until after you shall go to the WEST to hold the next conference; and then it shall be made known what you shall do.
2. And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith. Amen."
Follow me for a second here, because the detail I want to focus on is the 'West' that was revealed in that verse. It was saying that the next conference would be held in the west, and that would be where John Whitmer would receive further intructions on his calling in the church. I find it interesting that Joe would refer to the next place as the West. When you look at a map of the NY, PA, Ohio area, and put a pin in Colesville, where Joe was sending Ollie and John, it is the furthest most East destination that the church would deal with for a little while. So the connection I'm about to draw might not have a foundation, or I might just be reading too deeply into things when focusing on the phrase of "To the West". This is something that's in line with the Solomon Spaulding authorship theory. It has to do with positing the claim that Sidney Rigdon, and Joseph Smith had been planning for a long time to convert the congregants of Rigdon's Mentor, OH church to Mormonism, long before it's recorded in the church history that Hingepin Rigdon and Joe met. When Joe says that the next conference would be held to the West, he could have been implying Ohio. The next conference was held in Fayette, which is really North of Colesville, slightly West, but much much more North. Also, Manchester/Palmyra is a fair amount of distance almost directly West of Fayette, so Fayette wasn't the Westernmost place that Joe was talking about when he said West. It's kind of odd that he told John Whitmer that the next place he would get instructions for his calling was "To the West", as opposed to North. This is made even more odd by the fact that Joe gave this revelation when they were all in Harmony, PA, the Westernmost city they had been in up to this point. If Joe was saying that the next revelation would come in Fayette, why wouldn't he say to the North, or East which is where all of those towns are in comparison to Harmony, where he was giving this revelation. He said "To the West" when they weren't aware of anything that was going on West of Harmony. But, that's only if you believe what the church's recorded history says. If Joe and Hingepin Rigdon had been planning things long before this, Joe could say this "To the West" line as some sort of prophecy of the Mentor church joining up with them, and that the next conference would be to the direct West of all the towns they had been working in since. That could mean Ohio. Mentor OH, is directly West of Harmony, and it would make sense that if Joe and Rigdon were finally bringing their plan together, that Joe would be making subtle elusions to it. But, like I said, I might just be reading into it too much, and "To the West" could just be implying the secondmost Eastern town, meaning Fayette, they were working in when Joe said it. There really isn't any way of knowing what Joe meant by "The West" for sure, but it's still fun to speculate on small details that seem to bolster the claim that Joe and Rigdon knew each other, long before the BoM ever went to print.
Alright, specualtion aside, let's talk about what happened next with Joe and friends. Well, they sort of had a..... rough patch, one could say. In order to understand this, I'll have to introduce all never-mos to the term priestcraft. This is a word that I thought was a word for a long time, until I heard David Michael on My BoM Podcast come across it and not have any idea what it was. I wasn't even aware that it was Mormonese. Well the actual definition of it in the dictionary is nothing. It's not a real word. The two words separated 'priest' and 'craft' next to each other just means the craft or practice that a priest engages in. However, the Mormonese definition puts it as anybody that is paid for working for the church. This is 2 Nephi 26: 29 and 31.
"29. He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themelves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.
"31. But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish."
What's so weird about this, is if we look at the church today, there really is no getting around the fact that they have long since overcome this little hiccup of a revelation, and they pay their full-time clergy a stipend to live off of. Plus, they have an entire building in SLC, not just a building, but the tallest skyscraper in SLC that's the church office building, full of people that are "laboring for Zion" and they are all paid a wage for what they do. Beyond that, the church pays their seminary teachers for teaching high school kids about church during school hours. Beyond the Seminary teachers, every person in the leadership of the twelve apostles, and first presidency is paid stupendous amounts of money for essentially being a full time priest of the church. The way they amass such ungodly amounts of wealth is by being a chairman of a specific board of the for-profit arm of the church, then they'll take massive tax-deductable donations for giving a speach at a school or some kind of conference in various parts of the world. Basically, there is absolutely no way to skirt this fact, that there are thousands of people on the church payroll that directly violate this unambiguous commandment from the BoM. A lot of people would say that the living stipends they receive aren't actually considered pay, but when you step back and look at it, they are making a living, and they are working for the church full time. Nothing could be closer to this definition of priestcraft than what the church does today.
Personally, I don't necessarily have a problem with it on a fundamental level. We all have to have money to live, and if people are devoting a full time job's worth of time to an organization, they should be compensated for doing so. I only really have a problem when they take that money that was given to them by tax-free donation basis only, and they live in their home that they don't have to pay property taxes on, and they deduct their mileage to and from the church, and they work in a building that's on a multi-acre plot, usually in prime real estate, that property taxes aren't collected on, and they can do all of this without having to be transparent whatsoever with their expenditures, even though they are supposed to be for the good of the community. And even saying that, I don't take into account the frustration that they're selling an invisible, baseless, testless, materialless product in the first place, in order to collect all that tax free money. But when it all boils down to the core, I don't have much of a problem with clergy members receiving a living stipend for their work. They shouldn't get rich from it, but they should be able to survive in the real world.
Where I draw the line with the LDS church is the fact that "priestcraft" is against their canon and doctrine in multiple places, and yet they still do it. Even moreso than that, they still somehow claim to have an unpaid clergy, which is just boldfaced lying when you boil it down like I did earlier. Hypocrisy, thy name is descipleship.
Well, unfortunately, I have just as much of a problem with the hypocrisy here as Ollie Cowdung Allover had. Soon after Joe gave his revelations to Ollie, Emma, and John Whitmer, Ollie left, and made his way to the Whitmers in Fayette. This marks the first official dissention in the church, and it was orchestrated by Oliver Cowdery. Ollie was more of a scholar on the BoM than Joe was, having written it down twice, once during Joe's dictation, and once to create the printers manuscript. He knew that priestcraft, as Mormons perceive it, was in direct conflict with the BoM, and Ollie knew that Joe had given faulty revelations before. One example of some faulty revelations would be in relation to the trips to Canada to sell the copyright of the BoM. Check out episode 20, for all the details on that.
Well, Joe sent Ollie to Fayette with the revelations we just read that told Joe to take what he needs to survive from the church, and that Joe would be able to support Emma through the support of the church. Well, Ollie really didn't like this too much, and considered it a faulty revelation. This was during mid to late July that this all happened. Well, Joe received a letter from Ollie that had some real bite to it. Unfortunately, this letter is no longer extant, but, we can read what Joe said about it, and what he did to remedy the situation from the history of the church vol 1.
Whilst thus employed in the work appointed me by my Heavenly Father, I received a letter from Oliver Cowdery, the contents of which gave me both sorrow and uneasiness. Not having that letter now in my possession, I cannot of course give it here in full, but merely an extract of the most prominent parts, which I can yet, and expect long to, remember.
He wrote to inform me that he had discovered an error in one of the commandments—Book of Doctrine and Covenants: "And truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto a remission of their sins."
The above quotation, he said, was erroneous, and added: "I command you in the name of God to erase those words, that no priestcraft be amongst us!"
I immediately wrote to him in reply, in which I asked him by what authority he took upon him to command me to alter or erase, to add to or diminish from, a revelation or commandment from Almighty God."
Alright, so what happened here, and why does it matter? Joe had given the revelation that he, and Emma, would be supported by the church, and Ollie knew it was in direct conflict with the Book of Mormon, and what the church had been teaching up to that point. Then Ollie Cowdung threw some bullshit at the shituation and commanded Joe in the name of God to change the revelation to comport with the teachings of the church up to this point. Joe fired back a letter asking Ollie who the fuck he thinks he is, stating that Joe was the one guy responsible for the revelations from god, and anything that comes from Joe is obviously the only real word of God. Last episode I described one reason why I like Ol' Orrin Pistol Packin Porter Rockwell much more than Ollie Cowdung Allover. It's because Ol' Port actually had a spine, and Joe couldn't control Ol' Port like he could Ollie. This is a perfect example of Joe giving revelation to trump Ollie's revelation, just to break Ollie's spirit, and force him to submit to Joe's will.
I think it's a bit apparent to see that Joe was a little threatened by Ollie at this point. Well, it's not too hard to imagine. Ollie had been with Joe since the beginning basically, and he saw through the false prophet facade that Joe was constructing for his followers to worship. I mean, the first revelation that was read to the April 11th congregation of the church, was actually given by Ollie. That's right, the sermon that Ollie gave, started off with preaching from Ezekial 14, and then read, not Joe's, but Ollie's revelation concerning the organization of the church. That's found in present day D&C 20. I think at this point, Ollie didn't necessarily see Joe as his superior. I think there may have been a bit of infighting between them. That could help to explain all the revelations that Joe gave telling Ollie to beware of pride, and repent for your pride and wickedness. Joe was trying to set himself above Ollie, and Ollie wouldn't have it, especially once he discovered a clear and blatant discrepancy in the doctrine, like he did with the whole priestcrafting thing we talked about earlier. You almost wonder if Ollie might have thought that he would be a better person to run the show than Joe was. That's made abundantly clear in 1838 when he's excommunicated and goes off to form the Community of Christ, but you do tend to wonder if he was having those same thoughts 8 years before he left. That's what I like to think about. It's all about the human element. If we try and look at these historical events without the human element in place, things don't always tend to make sense. But, when we consider the possibility that Ollie was competing for top dog because he thought he would be a better prophet than Joe, a lot of interesting variables get added in. And honestly, before this point, Joe hadn't done anything that explicitly smacked down Ollie for his subversion of Joe's authority. Like I said earlier, Joe had told Ollie to beware of pride, or repent, but never before had he been so direct. At times, Joe had nurtured Ollie's attempts to be a prophet. Ollie tried "translating" some of the plates, which translation is no longer extant. Ollie was the first preacher of the church, and gave the first sermons. Ollie's revelation was the first revelation read to people in the first two congregations of the church, and we owe most of the current organization of the male roles in the church to Ollie's revelation of the power structure. Joe had Ollie do all the baptisms and confirmations up to this point. Are we starting to see why Ollie might have thought he was in charge, as opposed to just following Joe blindly like he's portrayed in current Mormon history?
Before moving on to Joe's solution of Ollie's subversive reaction to Joe's revelations, we need to talk about the last line that was just read out of the history of the church. I have a bit of a problem with it, and I would hope that it's quite clear why, without me having to make much of a case for it. When Ollie had written this scathing letter to Joe, Joe's reply letter had the line "by what authority he [Ollie] took upon him to command me to alter or erase, to add to or diminish from, a revelation or commandment from the Almighty God". What the fuck is this? I know for a fact that the church claims anything the current prophet reveals, supercedes anything in the past, but that just means that church doctrine is kind of like the U.S. constitution. Ammendments can be added to the bill of rights, even to the point that one ammendment can override others, however, the ammendments can't be changed willy nilly, nor can the constitution itself. However, in this example, Joe is offended that he gave revelation from "the Almighty God", and Ollie was demanding that Joe change it to be in accordance with what the church really believes. How many times do I have to reiterate the millions of changes in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants collectively that the church has quietly performed to make them more concordant with reality? The church changes the wording in the BoM every few years like clockwork. The most current revision was published in 2013, but they told Mormons not to worry, because it didn't change anything fundamentally, nor did the page numbers change at all. In researching the differences between the 1833 book of commandments, as opposed to the current version of the Doctrine and Covenants that's posted on the LDS.org website, there really is no place to start. Entire sections are massively altered, wording is bastardized, sections are made longer or shorter, or given more or less verses depending on what fits best, the differences are probably innumerable. What the fuck would Joe possibly think, if he were to read the current publication of the church canon, as opposed to what he revealed and recorded. Given how angry Joe was at Ollie's God commanded threat, one could probably shut down every coal-fire power plant in America today, if we were somehow able to harness the power of Joe perpetually turning over in his grave for what today's church has done to his original revelations.
And think of yourself in Joe's position. If you had given divine revelation from the Almighty God, would you allow people to change it here and there, just to best suit their endgame? NO! It would piss you off, and you would do something about it, much like Joe did in this situation. Let's finish out this episode by reading Joe's recorded response to this chiding letter from Ollie.
Back to History of the Church vol. 1.
"The Prophet's Correction of the Error.
A few days afterwards I visited him and Mr. Whitmer's family, when I found the family in general of his opinion concerning the words above quoted, and it was not without both labor and perseverance that I could prevail with any of them to reason calmly on the subject. However, Christian Whitmer at length became convinced that the sentence was reasonable, and according to Scripture; and finally, with his assistance, I succeeded in bringing, not only the Whitmer family, but also Oliver Cowdery to acknowledge that they had been in error, and that the sentence in dispute was in accordance with the rest of the commandment. And thus was this error rooted out, which having its rise in presumption and rash judgment, was the more particularly calculated (when once fairly understood) to teach each and all of us the necessity of humility and meekness before the Lord, that He might teach us of His ways, that we might walk in His paths, and live by every word that proceedeth forth from His mouth."
What a pompous douchbag, right? Ollie was expressing dissent, or some kind of disagreement with Joe's revelation. So, Joe made a trip from Harmony, up to Fayette, a journey of almost 300 miles, in order to correct the disagreement, or squash the insurrection, whichever perspective you prefer is probably accurate. And to be honest, rightly so. If Joe would have just ignored the problem, Ollie and the Whitmer family would have fallen away right at that moment, as opposed to doing so on Defection Day, 8 years later. When Joe got to the Whitmer home, he found that everybody agreed with Ollie, and they all considered Joe a false prophet by this point.
I'm not sure if I've made this point before, but I think Ollie was fairly eloquent in his ability to argue with people, or present his case. I mean, we know that he was one of the smarter of the group, probably not as cunning as Joe, but at least as smart, and had definitely read much more than Joe had. Well, we don't know exactly what was said, or what the mood was among Ollie and the Whitmers, from when Ollie sent the letter, until Joe got there in person to defend himself. But, I would be willing to place my bets on the scenario that Ollie had established himself as the true leader of the church, given everything leading up to this point, and this discrepancy in doctrine that he found. I bet that he was telling the Whitmers that if Joe was coming up with contradictory revelations, or revelations that weren't coming true, he couldn't be trusted as the leader anymore. Beside, most of the Whitmers had seen the revelations Joe gave with instructions to sell the copyright in Canada that, of course, failed miserably. So in their minds, Joe was batting a pretty low average at this point. If Ollie was able to take his revelation of the organization of the church, and couple that with the BoM, those things alone would be able to establish him as the leader of the church, and could push Joe into obscurity because of his own lying.
Well, this is just speculation of what was said, but I don't think it's unfounded. I mean, the Whitmers had given themselves to the Mormon religion, and had accepted the BoM as the new NEW testament of Jesus Christ in 'Merica. Would it be easier for them to just swear the whole thing off when contradictions came up, or would it be more likely that they would simply follow the next person in line that says they have the truth, that's only slightly different from what they had accepted as truth so far? Just by reading into the human element of what Joe said in his recounting of the situation, I think we can come to an understanding that the Whitmers were ready to follow the new prophet and president of the church Ollie Cowdung Allover Cowdery, and leave Joe to do his own thing, with his own church.
Well, Joe wouldn't let this subversion orchestrated by Ollie do him in, at least, not without a proper theologically combative argument. Joe tells this with the line "When I found the family in general of his [Ollie's] opinion concerning the words above quoted, and it was not without both labor and perseverance that I could prevail with any of them to reason calmly on the subject."
Basically, Joe tried to convince everybody that he was too for real, and they would just argue with him about it. Ollie had done some serious work on these people, if they all opposed Joe to the point that they wouldn't be easily coaxed back to the Joe side of early Mormonism. Like I said, it's all about the human element buried in the history. Ollie was a convincing debater, and he was able to convince people to easily side with him. Why else would Joe send Ollie on all the most important missions? He tasked Ollie with convincing, or baptizing some of the higher value targets, that would later become big movers in the church. Joe revered Ollie when they were on the same side. However, when Ollie and Joe did occassionally lock horns, they were each other's greatest foes.
The only way that Joe was able to prevail in this situation, was by going after the weakest one in the herd, Christian Whitmer. He was the eldest sibling of all the Whitmers, born in 1798, but for some reason, he was the crack in the foundation of the wall that Ollie had constructed to keep Joe out. But, Joe, being as adaptive as water to a weak foundation, was able to slip in, and chip away at that foundation, until it all crumbled, and the Whimer family, and Ollie were all convinced of Joe's claims of being a prophet once again. Joe was somehow able to reconcile the blatant contradiction between the BoM and the revelation he had just given concerning priestcraft, and everybody bought it, and lived happily ever after...... For a little while anyway.... At least, they did until Hiram Page tried to give his own revelation using his own seer stone in his own hat. That was the next fire that Joe had to put out, and it's the story we'll open up the next historical episode with. But for now, we can see how intelligent and adaptive Joe was by inserting the human element into the few paragraphs of the History of the Church that we read today.
In simple conversations, I've been asked before "If you could have one conversation with somebody from antiquity, who would it be?". That's always a hard one, and the answer tends to differ with whatever it is I'm studying at the time. I've often answered with some amazing warlord like Alexander the Great, or Adolf Hitler. Other times, I would like to meet an intellectual hermit like Archemedes or Nikola Tesla. I suppose the answer isn't set in stone, because it's all hypothetical anyway. So, today I can honestly answer that question invariably with the name Oliver Cowdery. Cowdery was a person that was like no other. He was one of the closest people to the prophet for the most formative years of the church. He was responsible for some of the biggest insurrections throughout the entirety of church history. And, to top it all off, the RLDS church today, has him to thank for defecting when he did, and not allowing himself to join in on the child-fucking ring of polygamy, that later became the Nauvoo, and SLC LDS churches. Oliver Cowdery was a smart guy, and I think he knew what he wanted in life. He was a crusader for truth, no matter how delusional the truth he was studying. He didn't have a problem standing up to Joe in some situations, and had the intellect sharp enough to defend his actions and beliefs. If I could go back and have a conversation with anybody from the early Mormon church, aside from the prophet of course, I would instantly chooe Oliver Cowdery, just to find out what kind of a person he really was. But, until Google puts the final touches on time travel, I suppose I'll just have to get by with speculation on this dynamic, and exciting individual, based on whatever we can read about him. I'm really excited to see what happens in the near future with our buddy Elder Oliver Cowdery, Ollie Cowdung Allover.
There are a couple of new Patrons to thank.
Juvenile Dilinquints: Roger, Marc
Adolescent Rebels: Jeff Peterson
Demons: Greg, Frank, and Shelley (Frank obstaining from story)
Greg and Shelley are two of the best friends that anybody could ever have. They've known each other for quite some time, and have hung with each other through thick and thin. Nothing has ever been unattainable for them as a team. Competitive sports are a breeze, to the point that they're always trying new things to stimulate their collective adrenal gland. Not only are they inseparable as friends, but they share everything with each other. No topic is too deep for them to have a discussion about, no matter what the circumstances are.
Well, today is no different for Shelley and Greg. It's just business as usual as they're gearing up for the rally car race they are about to be in. While they are putting on their flame-retardant jump suits, and fitting their helmets, Greg and Shelley are in the middle of some very interesting conversations. They're talking about a subject they've rarely talked about with each other before today. They're trying to suss out the meaning of life and mortality. They had been going through life without having contemplated their own existence, or even discussing it with each other, but today is different somehow. They're really debating where humans come from, and what the ultimate end-game for the human race is, but like everybody whose had this discussion before them, they keep coming up with meaningless profundities, that don't really help to answer the real question of existence or offer any kind of solace for these deep philosophical thoughts. Their conversations divert from these deep philosophical conundrums, to strategies for the race, and back again, almost like life and this race are analogous to each other somehow.
This isn't the first race they've been in together, but rather, one race of many in the tournament they had entered 3 weeks ago. But, today's race is a big one for them. They've been waiting for this for a long time, because this is the most challenging of all the courses they've so far encountered. There are a few reasons this track is so viciously treacherous, but the main reason is for curve 13, known as the widowmaker curve. This curve has claimed so many racers that lawsuits are pushing the rally organization to put railing up to reduce the number of cars going off the edge. So far, they hadn't budged.
Shelley, being a world class rally driver, gets behind the wheel, with Greg as the worlds premier rally course navigator/co-pilot. Unknown to the team before the race started, it would be held as a close quarters 4 car per section race. That meant that 4 cars would race together right next to each other, instead of the rally race being an individual time trial like usual. This was a completely unexpected decision by the organizing staff, but what can ya say, they wanted to boost viewer ratings by making things a little more dangerous and intense, so let it be said, and let it be done.
The four couples of racers are lined up staggered 2 by 2, waiting for the flag to drop initiating the race. Shelley raps up the engine of her state of the art number 24 rally car, and looks over at her co-pilot Greg. They each give a silent nod to each other, their universal symbol of "let's do this". The other three drivers rap up their engines, and all four cars hum in a chorus of straightpiped, high-performance glory. The flag drops and the racers are off in a blur of rally colors and paddle-shifting blips of the finely tuned engines. Greg is barking commands with perfect timing, and Shelley is executing every turn and elevation change with a certain grace and comfort achieved by only the best of drivers. Shelley and Greg are burning down this mountain. Turn 5, 6, and 7 all fly by without the least bit of trouble. The 2 racers that started in the back of the race, are struggling to keep up and eventually fall out of sight, however, car number 7 that started right next to Shelley and Greg had jumped ahead by getting a slightly better start off the line, and they won't budge from first place.
Both cars fly through turns 9 and 10, with our heros in number 24 right on the tail of the 7 car. They round corner 11, and Shelley sees the opening on the inside of the corner, that she had been hoping for the whole time. She grabs a gear, and slips through the opening, and locks up first place, just in time to round corner 12, and smash the downhill straight leading to the widowmaker. It's a mere third of a mile straight before the near 90 degree widowmaker bears it's flesh devouring fangs, and Shelley knows that this is the most important corner of her life to make successfully. Greg looks over at her, and whispers encouragement, "You got this". They silently nod at each other, and Shelley shoves the accelerator into the firewall.
The corner is getting closer, and can just barely be seen at the edge of Greg and Shelley's depth perception. Just as they are both silently focused on the corner they are about to encounter and own like champions, an all call over the radio barks, "Mayday Mayday! Car number 7 has lost brakes and is out of control!" Greg casts a glance in the rear view mirror where he can see the driver and co-pilot in 7 losing their usual composure, as they come to a realization that the widowmaker lies ahead as the next corner. Shelley glances in her mirror and sees 7 slowly dropping back. They were both flying down the hill, and Shelley knew that she barely had time to slow herself down before the widowmaker. Number 7's driver downshifted to try and use the engine to brake enough for the corner. These rally car engines are made to never die, but Shelley could hear 7's motor screaming in agony, way above redline under the weight of the car bolting down the straight toward certain destruction at the hands of widowmaker.
Shelley's eyes dart from the road in front of her, with the approaching deadly corner that leads to a sudden 600 foot drop, to her mirror as she watches 7 arduously slowing despite their built up speed, and downhill trajectory. She looks at Greg, and Greg looks back at her. Greg says, "Do you think they'll be alright?" Just as the words left his mouth, there's a loud pop from 7 and smoke started to billow out of every seam of the engine compartment. The motor had given in to the forces of nature, and the rpm's from 7 had blown a piston head through the block, and fired it like a titanium rocket through the carbon fiber hood. The engine was destroyed, and nothing was helping to slow 7 down for the impending corner. Greg knew what had happened as soon as he heard the sound.
Greg and Shelley look at each other, internally assessing the situation. "You know what we have to do", Greg said. They silently nodded at each other. Shelley dumped the accelerator pedal, dropped 2 gears and eased on the brakes a moment before necessary to safely negotiate widowmaker. She no longer has the corner in mind, but rather, a plan. She was going to do something she had done to plenty of racers before while overtaking them in a corner.
It's a very simple procedure, and racers sometimes call it back-boarding, a term lifted from basketball. When she had used this to her advantage in the past, she would accelerate hard before a corner and gain the inside of the corner on the person she was trying to pass. Then, she would slide into that car that was on the outside of the corner, trading paint, and giving her extra speed to that car, and using them to slow herself down enough to make the corner. She would do this, and then pass the car she had just fucked over, that would end up sliding into the grass on the outside of the corner. But this time, she would make her car, 24, the backboard and soak up the extra speed from 7, hopefully forcing them to negotiate widowmaker at a safe speed.
A second after this thought occured to Shelley, it was time to put the plan into place. Greg has his eye on 7 in the mirrors, and Shelley has her eye on their own place on the track. She slows 24 down enough to get right next to 7, but both cars are going much too fast to make the corner. She nudges 24 into the side of 7, just as they get to the entrance of the corner. Greg and Shelley look at each other and smile, the plan is in the first stage of working. Shelley cranks the wheel hard to the right, and 7 follows suit. Shelley hammers down on the brakes and drops two more gears. 24's engine screams from the struggle of slowing two cars weight. 7 stays on the inside of the corner, and hugs the wall with the help of 24 on the outside of the corner, but the momentum from both cars is simply too much for 24 to handle. Just as Shelley and Greg enter the apex of the corner, 24's tires break loose, and all traction and control is lost at the worst possible time. 24 soaks up the extra speed, and 7 makes the corner at a safe speed.
The cars part ways as 7 remains under control, but Shelley and Greg in 24 lose any semblence of control they had before. The car's tires are completely locked up, and the two best friends are aimed straight at widowmaker's ledge, without any way of stopping, or turning to remedy the situation. Greg looks over at Shelley. They both know that their time has come, and they would soon be just another statistic, falling victim to the almighty widowmaker. The car launches off the cliff with certain death below. Shelley and Greg's eyes meet, just as gravity started to gain control over the car, and lose control over their human forms inside the car. No verbal communications are necessary. Greg grabs Shelley's hand, and says the simple phrase "It's okay, we did it". Time slows to a near halt just as both of them come to a new level of understanding. What they had just done, was the meaning of being human.
They were both able, and willing to sacrifice their lives to let others live. This was the most humanist action they could ever possibly perform. They had reached the height of humanity by saving other people's lives, and that was truly something special. They both understood just how amazing life is, as their car plunges toward the ground at an unquestionably deadly speed. This is the end, and they both know and accept it. The car is aimed straight at the ground, and the ground is getting closer and closer with each passing second they remain with hands clenched together. Just as the front of the car touches the ground, JMS intervenes. JMS has seen the sacrifice that Shelley and Greg made, and he is very pleased with what he witnessed. He places their talisman inside the car, just in front of their clenched hands, and disappears until next he's needed.
Greg and Shelley see the glowing translation talisman in front of them, and reach their clenched hands out to touch the curiosity, and there's nothing but silence.
Back on the mountain, 7 had come to a complete stop on the uphill just after widowmaker, and it's driver and co-pilot had run to the edge of widowmaker to watch the fate of Shelley and Greg. The car hits the ground and explodes into a massive fireball, ensuring anybody inside would be multiple times dead from the impact, or fire. But, no bodies would be recovered from 24's wreck that day. Greg and Shelley have moved on to bigger and better things.
Thank you both for your support, and welcome as the newest Demons in the NaMo Outer Darkness Kingdom. Your support goes a long way to perpetuate the show, and help with production costs.
I also needed to thank Frank. He's also a new member of the Demonhood, but he sent a message saying he didn't need anything from it, and just wanted to support the show. So, to Shelley, Greg, and Frank, thank you all very much for what you're doing to help the show, it really means a lot.
Copyright Ground Gnomes LLC subject to fair use. Citation example: "Naked Mormonism Podcast (or NMP), Ep #, original air date 08/27/2015"