Joseph Smith and Catholicism

During Joseph Smith’s youth it is unlikely that he knew many or perhaps any, Catholics. The New England area was home to few Catholics in 1805, and they were an unappreciated minority. But during the first half of the 19th century, America began to experience a boom in Catholic population. This growth can be seen in the number of Catholic houses of worship following the war of 1812. Edwin Gaustad (Historical Atlas of Religion in America) provides some figures: in 1820 there were 124 such structures in the US, a comparatively tiny number even in church-poor America. By 1850, the number had grown to 1,221. Ten years later there were 2,550. From 1820-1860, this was nearly a 2000% increase in Catholic buildings, a doubling in the final decade. For comparison, Methodist houses of worship — the fastest growing Protestant denomination of the period — increased by about 600%. Congregational buildings increased by about 100%, representing the slowest growth rate among major Protestant groups (this is a little remarkable because the Congregational church was “established” in New England– i.e., had state support–for many years. The constitutional provision did not apply to the states). Immigrants were responsible for much of this growth and this was particularly true in terms of Irish immigration (in regard to Catholic growth).
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Resurrection and What’s *that* in Your Veins?

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians reads (15:50) “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” That together with other statements in the same chapter suggest one of many clear differences in the resurrected body and the mortal body. Combining this with the account of the gospels and the resurrected Jesus, visible, touchable, etc. (“not a spirit”) led, essentially from the beginnings of post-apostolic Christianity, to lots of explosive argument about the nature of a resurrected body. Those arguments are still on the side-burner today, and they formed a prominent place in the religion of Joseph Smith’s era. Read more of this post

Jonathan Grimshaw and Honorable Doubts, Part 3.

For part 1 of this post see here. Part 2, here.

By 1855, Jonathan had been involved in all the activities of the LDS Church Historian’s Office. He spent considerable time copying Joseph Smith’s (JS) sermons from diaries or other records. The complete list of sermons with which he was involved in some way is unknown because the clerks failed to give those details in many instances. As far as our book (Funeral Sermons of JS) goes, Grimshaw was involved with the March 10, 1844 sermon, the April 7, 1844 sermon and perhaps others in the string of “Follett” sermons (April 8, May 12 and June 16, 1844) and possibly earlier ones. The methods of the clerks and historians were reasonable for the times but by modern standards suspect. Copy-texts, as we might call them, were often previous printings of versions of the sermons which in some cases were rather imperfect representations of the primary sources. Read more of this post

Ramblings about Stones, Expectations and Faith

We (sane?) humans have a well-known tendency to systematize our thought-environs. We desire to not only have reality match expectation, but many of us desire that our sincere beliefs not be paradoxical and furthermore have no gaping rational holes. Perhaps such tendencies, assuming they exist, arise from the paradigms of science or perhaps from an inherent desire to have things make sense—to have deductive logic connect the pieces. Do these tendencies motivate us to make and hold to seemingly rational conclusions about faith (theology?), even when empirical evidence “proves” they don’t match reality? When logician Kurt Godel was asked if (based on a cosmology which includes time-travel ) one could go back in time and kill their own great-grand parents, he replied that this would create a paradox, and so could not happen because “logic is powerful.” Read more of this post

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