Lady Ann Conway and Her Questions

The most prolific of the Cambridge Platonists, Henry More, put his views on preexistence into poetry (1647). Ann Conway wrote to him several years later with the following very interesting questions which I have edited slightly for readability:
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“Learn How to Live and How to Die”

Much of Joseph Smith’s preaching about death was meant to compel his listeners to faith. Over the years of my own life I have seen death. Even if you don’t experience death as it was in the early 19th century, if you live long enough, you will see it impact your life.

I have buried a son, a brother, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and unrelated friends. Looking at death as inevitable has become a routine matter. But what is it for us survivors? It is first and foremost, loss. Whatever theology one subscribes to, or to no theology at all, this is the universal fact. The dead don’t come back. You don’t find him or her sleeping in their bed the next morning after the funeral.

They are gone.
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The Spirit — The Meaning in Small Changes

Some time ago I offered this note about Lorenzo (Dow) Barnes. I also quoted a couple of excerpts from Joseph Smith’s eulogy for Barnes. Like all the funeral sermons, this one demonstrates a fair number of variants in its imprints. Probably the most important imprint of the sermon is the one appearing in the History of the Church. As I have noted before, once an edition of a given sermon appeared in the 20th century, the text essentially settled down. Full sermons remained in the public eye as reprints of anthologies or other volumes, rarely as separate documents (those demonstrate more variation).
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Nibley: One Eternal Round again

Just a heads up for the release of Nibley’s last book (chronologically). It should be out in a short time. Mike Rhodes, who was primary editor of the book mentioned to me that MI hopes to have it out for Nibley’s 100th birthday (March 27, 2010). Rhodes’ second volume on P. Joseph Smith has been in the pipe for a number of years. MI seems to have its own priorities. We’ll see.

Two King Follett Sermon (Text) Traditions

The two most influential texts of Joseph Smith’s “King Follett Sermon” are those arising from the 1850s church historians, and the B. H. Roberts 1909 Improvement Era text. Currently reprinted (by church organs like Deseret Book) versions of this sermon are based on the Roberts text. The 1850s text was the survivor text from the 19th century. The other text traditions from that century fell out of usage in church printings before 1900. Aside from accidentals and Roberts’ changes in a small part of the text, his main textual alterations involved the addition of footnotes.

The King Follett Sermon was not printed in volume 6 of the Roberts’ edited History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1912. The sermon had been removed at the direction of President Joseph F. Smith at the last moment. The removal constitutes an important episode in the history of the sermon, but a full understanding of the issues would require too much space here.
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Alvin Lisonbee (1927-2009) Rest in Peace

I’m deviating slightly from the usual theme of this blog for a good reason: a friend of mine passed away recently and he deserves some mention here. The reasons are a little complicated but it’s mainly because in a sense, for me, he is fashioned in the image of many of those represented in Joseph Smith’s funeral sermons. Among the departed individuals Joseph remembered in his (all too few) reported funeral addresses we find the rank and file Mormon. Those who we do not as a rule discuss for their lives of faith. Though at the time of their deaths they may have had some minor notoriety.
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Joseph Smith Papers Revelations and Translations (1) for cheap!

Seagull Book (a D-book division) is offering the R&T (1) volume for something like $65, at least for the weekend I believe. That beats the going price on Amazon, so if you’ve been waiting, maybe now is the time. Heard it on the radio driving home. Check it out.

P.S. I think you have to go into a brick and mortar store. They’re showing 10% off online.

Papers of Joseph Smith Journals vol. 1 Collectors Edition

So the Church Historian’s Press has issued a limited edition (995 copies) of a leather bound journals vol. 1. There are 48 left in this offering if you want one. $165 retail. Blind embossing on portrait image. Burgundy foil stamping on the spine, gold foil embossing in front, back and spine, gold guilding, navy ribbon. Available through Deseret Book.