Strengths and Weaknesses of Modern Missionaries

Here is an excerpt of a report by a General Authority who toured several LDS missions in the Southern and Eastern United States.

I can justifiably praise the humility, obedience, and on the whole, industry of the missionaries in these missions . . . but when these virtues are named, speaking of the missionaries as a whole, you name the sum of their qualifications for missionary work, and there are serious defects in their “equipment” for the work required of them; among which may be suggested first, the lack of knowledge amounting to almost total ignorance of the current religious thought of the present day, with a consequent lack of ability to make any application of our religion to modern thought, or what is of any immediate interest to people . . . the existence of a “boyish” conception of things . . . . inadequate education . . . not in terms of academic achievement as much as a lack of ability to read with ease the most common books, to speak grammatically, to say nothing of speaking coherently, logically or forcefully . . . there is a serious lack of training in simple “good manners” . . . on the whole, this reveals our deficiencies as a community on which is laid the responsibility of instructing the whole world in . . . moral and religious matters.[1]

Discuss.

———–
[1] Edited for length, a certain harshness, and with some silent summary.

Presiding Bishopric, IV.

With the revelations of November 1 and 11, 1831 helping to define the role of the bishop,[1] you can see that the road was being paved for more bishops in the Church. As temporal ministers, it was only a matter of time before more were called as Church population increased (when Partridge was called there were about 150 members in Ohio). At first, two population centers developed: Zion (Missouri) and Kirtland (Ohio). Bishop Partridge was a leading voice in governance in Zion. At the end of 1831, another bishop, Newel Kimball Whitney, was called for the Kirtland area (by that time Ohio membership numbered about 1,500) and among other things to work in tandem with Partridge in the United Firm (UF — the Church “corporation” if you will). Partridge, Whitney and their counselors formed an important financial administrative body in the firm. Whitney was relatively well off and his business operations in Kirtland became the heart of the firm there.[2]
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Early National Systems: Millennial Hope, II. William Miller.

Joseph Smith seems wedged in the creases of nineteenth-century Protestant worldviews in any number of ways. From Election to Scripture, to Millennial aspiration, he separated, combined, and “synergized” a vibrant world that respected a deep tie between science, such as it was, and a fractured system of religious beliefs that overlay a diverse and growing marketplace of ideas and economies. Smith interacted, mostly at a distance, with the lights of his day and one of those was William Miller. Shaken from a Deistic picture of God’s interaction with the world by what he, as a eighteen-year-old captain in the war of 1812, saw as divine intervention, Miller began a religious journey of devotion and disappointment. That journey turned out to be a microcosm that portended the larger society’s gradual descent from optimism to a grudging acceptance of lesser purpose.
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Early National Systems: Millennial Hope, I

Many Americans in antebellum times saw their nation as an engine for the bright future of biblical end times. Ranging from Henry Clay’s practical and even semi-realistic “American System”[1] to social engineering designed to hurry Christ’s return to earth, it was characteristic of the age that even non-believers saw the idea as a comfortable metaphor for the destiny of what they considered a political example to the world. Modern Americans seem far from such notions, but there are pockets of American society where those nineteenth-century ideas persuade and guide the minds of dedicated souls, Mormons among them.
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Joseph Smith Papers Newsletter: Number 1.

To have a look at the first newsletter for the JSPP, click through.

Wilford Woodruff: The Way Home. Part 4–My Father’s House

July 19th 1844 I borrowed $10 dollars of Br Bickford of Boston & gave my note for it and $5 dollars of Brother Wingate & gave my note for that. I received $12 dollars from Br John Hardy for 6 Books of T & S & $9 dollars for Books that Br Phelps sold for me. The above money is paid.

Br Reuben Hedlock address in Liverpool is 36 Chapel st. J. Hardy is 91 Commercial st Boston. I had a present of a Coat from sister Jones of Boston.

Br Samuel Dam wished me to send him all the Times and seasons Bound and the covenants & Book of mormon & he will pay the money. He spoke of Bying a lot of me. I spent the night at 57 Temple st.
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Wilford Woodruff: The Way Home. Part 2–Rumors.

13th (Prophet)(Patriarch) We obtained information this morning from quincy as late as June 29th. The Govonor had made Quincy his head Quarters for he could neither trust the people or Melitia in that region of Country. Had made a Proclamation to the citizens of the State, would protect either Party against an attact. The mormons had done all that Could be required of them. Still their appears to be a disposition of the people & troops to try to destroy Nauvoo. The Govonor acknowledges the death of the Prophet and Patriarch to be a wanton murder.
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Wilford Woodruff: The Way Home, Part 1–The News

This is a series of five posts, which constitute excerpts from Wilford Woodruff’s journal beginning July 9, 1844 and covers the following month. Wilford hears rumors of the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, finally news from trusted friends of its truth. The apostles gather from their different locations in the east, and make their way home to Nauvoo. This is Wilford’s account of that time.

July 9th 1844 I left Scarboro in the morning in company with Father Carter & Elder M. Holmes & rode to Portland, & dined with Ezra Carter & made preperations to take the steam boat in the evening for Thomastown & fox Islands.

But about 2 oclok P.M. We obtained the Boston Times of July 9th Containing the solumn & awful information of the Death of President Joseph Smith the Prophet Seer & Revelator of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Also the Death of Hiram Smith his brother the Patriarch of Said Church. They were shot dead in Cartha[ge] jail by a company of anti mormons & a guard that Governor Ford placed over them 200 men American citizens painted like indians.
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Documents 1 of JSP in Leather

A leather-bound collector’s edition of Documents Volume 1 of the Joseph Smith Papers series is almost ready to be released – it should be available beginning of July. They are expensive, but beautiful editions if you go in for that sort of thing.

If you are interested and aren’t on the mailing list, you can contact Stephanie Ogden at the Salt Lake City Deseret Book Store (801-328-8191).

Old Timey Blessings

An ancestor, James Whitehead Taylor, converted to Mormonism in Britain during the initial Mormon mission in 1837. He stayed in Britain for well over a decade following that, acting as a missionary himself and finally emigrating to Utah in the 1850s. Taylor was a stalwart, though never a polygamist. After coming to Utah, he received a Patriarchal Blessing. Like so many at the time, it seems cut from the same cloth as those early revelations to the Whitmer boys: they all said basically the same thing (no, Whitehead Taylor’s blessing wasn’t a copy of the Whitmer revelations–but it was very like the others in that particular blessing book kept by the church historian’s office). The Historian was charged with keeping copies of the blessings and the church considered them official documents from the beginning. Joseph Smith Sr.’s earliest blessings were kept and preserved.
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LaJean Carruth Reveals the “Lost Sermons”

LaJean Carruth is an expert in nineteenth-century shorthand systems that played a role in Mormon note-keeping, particularly in the Utah period. (LaJean has also given us the heretofore unexpanded notes of the August 1844 succession meetings as well.) Given my own interest in Mormon sermon-making, I find her work absolutely fascinating. Moreover, it is not restricted to library rats like me: The Church History Library has done a wonderful service in providing us access to LaJean’s work. Here is an example http://eadview.lds.org/findingaid/viewer?pid=IE1772001&pds_handle=

Polygamy 101

I don’t really have anything new here, just pointing out my series of posts on D&C 132, starting here. Links to successor posts are in the headers. Have fun.

Book Update

So, I haven’t been able to work on the book much for the past couple of months, but I’m back working on the last chapter every day for an hour or so. Intro is more or less written, working on the genetic criticism. Need to proof it then format for the electronic version. I hope to have things wrapped up before the end of the year.

Charles W. Penrose and Adam-God

Joseph F. Smith noted the following in his journal p. 81, 1912.

“Our Father Adam by C. W. Penrose– Impt. Era, vol. 5– pages: 873 to 880-” Important for what it doesn’t say as well as what it does. Even more important is JFS’s notation.

Nauvoo Council of Fifty Minutes to be Published

The Council of Fifty was Joseph Smith’s attempt to set up a kind of preparatory government for the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. Up until now, the minutes, taken by council clerk William Clayton for the most part, have been unavailable for study. The minutes will now appear in the Administrative Records Series of the Joseph Smith Papers Project. This is a boon to historians of Mormonism and Religious Studies scholars who encounter Mormonism of the Joseph Smith period. I for one anxiously await the privilege of pursuing the minutes. Here is a portion of the press release by Church Historian, Steven E. Snow:

Regarding other plans in the Joseph Smith Papers Project, Elder Snow said a few days prior to this recent announcement that the First Presidency “has approved the Church History Department staff to use the Council of Fifty minutes as reference and footnote material in upcoming Joseph Smith Papers books and to eventually publish the minutes in full as a separate volume.”

Elder Snow explained that Joseph Smith established the Council of Fifty in March 1844.

“The minutes of the council meetings, which have heretofore not been available for research, provide a new window into Joseph’s prophetic view on government and the kingdom of God,” he said.

“Following Joseph’s death, the council continued to meet under Brigham Young’s leadership and played a key role in the planning for the trek west. Our historians have been working to prepare these important records for publication for some time. We plan to publish the Nauvoo minutes of the Council of Fifty in the Administrative Records Series of the Joseph Smith Papers.”

For the entire press release, see here.