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Jim Bennett and Bill Reel and the Issues of the CES Letter Part 4

We sit down with Jim Bennett, son of former Utah Senator Bob Bennett, to discuss Jim’s response to the CES Letter. This interview takes place over several different days and comprises looking at the troublesome issues the CES Letter presents and reviewing where Jeremy Runnells and Jim Bennett disagree. I try to play a mediator between Jim and the ideas of the CES letter. Granting ground where I think Jim offers a reasonable response as well as pushing back where I think the CES Letter presents a credible case.

In part 4 we tackle Joseph Smith’s Polygamy in depth.


24 thoughts on “Jim Bennett and Bill Reel and the Issues of the CES Letter Part 4”

  1. Guys! Great conversations! I love the space you give each other. But… Brigham wrote the current section 132.

    “I saw what they claimed was it, or what purported to be it, published in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants [D&C 132], by Brigham Young in Salt Lake [1876]. But the one published in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants by the Utah Church was not the one that Bishop Whitney showed me at Winter Quarters. It was not the same at all. It was entirely changed. It was so changed that it sanctioned polygamy, and that change was made by the Brighamites. For there was no such thing in it when I read it. You can find it for yourself in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants published by the Brighamites in Salt Lake, and you will see in it, as published by them, that it sanctions and imposes polygamy on the church, but there was no such thing in the revelation that Whitney showed me…It did not have the same language at all. I knew, that, when I read it I considered that they had got that revelation from Bishop Whitney, and had changed it and added to it, it had nothing to do with polygamy when I read it at Winter Quarters. . .” Whitehead also addressed the much shorter length of the “sealing” revelation he was shown by Whitney in 1848, “The document was about as much as would fill both sides of a sheet of foolscap, about three sides of a sheet of paper like that.” Section 132 of the D&C today is long at 3,522 words (8 or more typed pages). In addressing his knowledge of Joseph’s marriage to Emma, Whitehead stated, “When I lived at Nauvoo, I resided, maybe, three hundred yards from where Joseph Smith’s house was, I saw him there frequently, perhaps not every day, but almost every day, that he was in Nauvoo. I was there in his office, as his private secretary, at the time he was killed. I was in his office on that day, and was keeping the books at that time. Joseph Smith had one wife and her name was Emma; I do not know any other woman who claimed to be the wife of the prophet, there at Nauvoo, nor at any other place . . . There was never any woman who came to me, or Joseph Smith in my presence, during the time of my employment as his private secretary, for money, claiming that she was the wife of Joseph Smith, except his wife Emma. There was no entry of that kind ever made on the books [that he kept], of money paid by me or by him to any woman claiming to be his wife, except Emma (James Whitehead testimony, Temple Lot Case, pps. 474-77). 6. Brigham Young Wrote Much of D&C 132 There is strong evidence suggesting Brigham Young authored much of Section 132, as his writing style is clearly evident in it (see below). Note especially the threats against Emma Smith in D&C 132 (v. 54). She is also referred to as a “handmaid” (or female servant) in this same verse. Young considered Emma an enemy. He trashed her in various public venues, including a very public general conference address, whereas God referred to Emma as “my daughter” (D&C 25:1). DeBarthe’s Important Language Analysis Though the document we call D&C 132 has some truths in it, perhaps provided by the Prophet Joseph Smith, it also has many additions, most likely from Brigham Young, as the later portions of D&C 132 use language, phraseology, and words that are inconsistent with Joseph Smith, words and intent that are clearly those of Brigham Young. Enid S. DeBarthe carefully scrutinized Section 132 in her Master’s Thesis completed at Northern Illinois University in 1969. It is very revealing. DeBarthe’s research concentrated on specific word usage, like “anointed,” “espouse,” “exaltation,” “eternal lives,” “damned,” and “destroy” in Section 132, versus curious absence of more common words in scripture like “repent.” They are the added words of Brigham Young, not Joseph Smith or the LORD. The rare word “exaltation,” for example, was associated with polygamy by Young. Under his leadership, polygamy became a requirement for what he called “exaltation,” or to be part of the Celestial Kingdom of God. This doctrine is embraced by many Fundamentalist Mormons today. Young stated: “Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 266). He added, “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 269). DeBarthe also addressed other unique phrases found in Section 132, like, “must,” “stay herself,” or “accounted unto him for righteousness,” phrases that are believed to have originated in Brigham Young. She also studied sentence structure characteristics, including nouns, verbs, dependent clauses, etc. DeBarthe also researched how the language of Section 132 made use of prepositional phrases, “neologisms, pleonasms, and tautologies.” She examined total words per sentence and finally style, particularly the writing style of Joseph Smith versus that of Brigham Young. The result is very telling. Barthe’s research clearly points to Section 132 being consistent with the unique language of Brigham Young, via a comparison of his writings and that of others, especially the Prophet Joseph Smith (including revelations given to Joseph). She reveals that Joseph’s writing style was and is “affirming,” calling men “to repentance and inviting them to seek righteousness and truth.” Young, on the other hand, has a style involving force, insistence, and coercion, and that laws must be obeyed (this is consistent with his use of former Danites as enforcers in Nauvoo and Salt Lake City, men like Hosea Stout and hitman Bill Hickman, and the coercive techniques used by his “deacons” upon suspected “dissenters,” including intimidation by “the whitling and whistling brigade,” and “anointings” using human excrement from “aunt peggy’s privy closet”). Young made extensive use of “idoms,” “redundancies,” and “valedictory” phrases that clearly brand the concepts of Section 132 to him. Some would call it “strongman” tactics. Young’s language reflects his own strong, coercive will, not that of God or Joseph. In addition to contradictory doctrine, Section 132 also features threats of destruction against Emma (vs. 54, 63-65), threats that she must conform to the practice. These are inconsistent with God’s love and His desire that we have agency or choice. God invites. Satan uses fear and force. The threats are consistent with one as “Mahan,” a “master of the great secret,” a “mastermind destroyer.” Young hated Emma and spoke evil of her in his various remarks. This led to years of animosity among many of the Saints towards this noble woman.3 In his 1866, October General Conference address, Young offered up a rebuke of the widow Emma and a lie, stating that she attempted to murder Joseph, and that he (Joseph) said she was “the most wicked woman on this earth.” Young castigated the harmless widow of the Prophet Joseph Smith, stating: “To my certain knowledge, Emma Smith is one of the damnedest liars I know of on this earth; yet there is no good thing I would refuse to do for her, if she would only be a righteous woman; but she will continue in her wickedness. Not six months before the death of Joseph, he called his wife Emma into a secret council, and there there he told her the truth, and called upon her to deny it if she could. He told her that the judgments of God would come upon her forthwith if she did not repent. He told her of the time she undertook to poison him, and he told her that she was a child of hell, and literally the most wicked woman on this earth, that there was not one more wicked than she” (6-8 Oct., 1866, 36th Semi-Annual Conference, Bowery, G. S. L. City. [Deseret News Weekly 15:364, 10/10/66, p 4-5 and 15:372, 10/17/66, p 4-5; MS 28:764, 774).

    The Secret Chamber: Spiritual Wifery and the Doctrine of Christ

    1. The only issue is that we have a copy of the revelation that Joseph Kingsbury made at the request of Newell K. Whitney, the day after the revelation was given (Brigham Young wasn’t even in Nauvoo at the time):

      We also have the journal entry of William Clayton, the day the revelation was made:

      “This A.M, I wrote a Revelation consisting of 10 pages on the order of the priesthood, showing the designs in Moses, Abraham, David and Solomon having many wives and concubines &c. After it was wrote Presidents Joseph and Hyrum presented it and read it to E[mma] who said she did not believe a word of it and appeared very rebellious.”

  2. In 1831 the LORD prophesied that a secret combination would rise up among the Saints. He called it “the secret chamber” (D&C 38:13 & 28). Its focus was spiritual wifery. It has led to the awful situation among the Latter-day Saints today, one described two times in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 2:36-41; Ether 8:24). Besides addressing this darkness in D&C 38, God also provided a way to uncover it there. He called it an “endowment of power from on high,” one poured out upon the humble, prepared Saints at the dedication of the House of the LORD at Kirtland in 1836. It was the Holy Ghost, or having access to the unified mind of the Father and the Son (Lecture on Faith 5 ). Many of those with this important gift chose to not follow Brigham Young west. They included the remaining members of the Smith family. The reason was polygamy and the control and fear tied to “the new order of things” Brigham Young was putting in place. Polygamy rose up among the Brighamite Saints of Utah, and it led to suppression of the fuller portion of “the doctrine of Christ” in Mormonism. Because of the early focus on polygamy, too few Latter-day Saints make Christ the LORD their focus, instead inserting the church and its leaders as substitutes for Him. It has resulted in idolatry, ignorance of how to be saved, and widespread deception. One of the most significant lies is that the Prophet Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, instituting it among the Saints. It is a lie, put forth by Brigham Young and those following him, all to justify their practice of it early on. Many are leaving the church today because of this lie and other deceptions, all a part of a false history and narrative, which the Saints have been fed. Some of this is simply ignorance. Some of it reflects greater darkness. The result, however, is many problems among us as a people. It need not be so. Seeing our awful situation today, Moroni saw that we would be surrounded by secret combinations that control us, keeping us in ignorance and deception for the sake of “gain” (Ether 8:24). They control our government, corporations, schools, and churches. This control has led to a second “awful situation,” the one described by King Benjamin. He wisely brought his people out from under the lies, deception, and control of “false Christs,” “false prophets,” and “false preachers and teachers” (Words of Mormon 1:15). They used the people for gain (1 Ne. 22:23). The “awful situation” among King Benjamin’s people was remaining in sin and ignorance without redemption (Mosiah 2:36-41). This is exactly where too many Latter-day Saints find themselves today. Many believe they are “saved” because of their works and our temples, when they are not. Few know what redemption is, or how to obtain it. Thus, many are unprepared for the great last-days harvest of souls that is nearly upon us (D&C 45:2, 56:16; Jer. 17:11). The Prophet Joseph taught that we cannot be saved in ignorance (D&C 131:6). We must “awake” from our slumber, our “awful situation” and “arise,” that we might go forth to meet the Bridegroom.” He Christ the LORD. He is coming soon

  3. Jim, I’m glad you acknowledge that prophets can and do make mistakes as big as we can and do make, and that God certainly allows their agency and growth too. But we are gagged and bound for the ride to hell and back with rudderless guides? 1 Nephi 8: 4-9

    In light of this fact of life, why on God’s green earth would God, Jesus or Any fallible leader command us to Obey and not question them, and that when they speak the debate is over? Contradictory? Ethical?

    That is insanity, immoral, unethical, etc. Not of Jesus. It is in fact Satan’s Plan of coercing, shaming, bullying and forcing salvation (Slave-ation). How can we reconcile this little problem which enshrines all errors at eternal truths?

    Yes, it is a test for sure, of whether we will follow men to hell and back, or follow Jesus, our guiding light to salvation, when leaders so often oppose Him 180 due to errors they refuse to correct since they are “right?” Isn’t this why Christ’s real Law of Common Consent is not to be by coercion, guilting, shaming, bullying, abuse or by threat to agree or be disciplined? And it all grows out of that pride and error.

    Isn’t this what happened to the Word of Wisdom too, which is far far different than just a refined 4-don’ts (care to reread it after modern medical fails you, then diet and herbs heal you? Who knew?)? The leaders keep reminding us that herbs and natural healing are dangerous. The WoW was not given “by commandment or constraint” and that was and is for very good reason too.

    Blinded to God’s vast forest of wholesome health, healing and wisdom by worshiping just 4 Refined Sacred trees? Pretty fake, synthetic? “Obey, don’t question!”? And be blessed for it? I see endless getting sick and dying from that advice. Nice test!?

    D&C 89: 2-4,1-11,18-21 = Thousands of Do’s and now growing thousands of Don’ts, which is simply impossible by commandment or constraint.

    Yet the “WoW” as 4 refined don’ts now stands as our Sacred Sentinel to “His” kingdom on earth and heaven. Idols? Deadly idols?

    BTW, the WoW was Not approved by common consent as fake church history tells us. Had it been approved by coerced “common consent” that would be null and void and for the following reasons too. Brigham deeply and always opposed the WoW or 4-don’ts becoming a commandment, besides it being against Christ’s will. He and all prophets of the 1800 opposed it as a commandment and said it would become a stumbling block to the saints, as it certainly has become in our day especially. Prophetic?

    If we don’t get it, then we can’t get it (the real promises of health, healing and wisdom from God’s very own wholesome herbs and foods instead of the refined, synthetic products of “conspiring men” (verses 4,10,11 which toxic wares and conspiring men the church praises and invests in).
    This is only one tiny example of endless problems following the same toxic blueprint.

    Rote obedience is a stumbling block, as Jesus and so many prophets have told us so plainly over and over, yet we can’t hear them. Still, leaders persist to “kick against the pricks?” Hence His Law of Common Consent in it’s original intent (“to steady the ark” or to add a rudder to our ship toward Christ)?

    The contradictions just go on and on and “must not be seen or questioned” or corrected as He said to do with the aid of the membership and His Law. The heap grows higher and deeper… If it were “two steps forward and one step back,” the heap would be gone instead of still huge and growing.

  4. When I read the Holy Bible, I do not find that God commanded Sarah to give her handmaid to Abraham. It appears to be Sarah’s idea, because of a lack of faith in God’s promise that caused Sarah to suggest giving Hagar to Abraham.

    That being said, where do we get “Sarah’s LAW”?

    I find no scriptural foundation for any such LAW.

    Actually lack of faith on the part of Abraham and Sarah has lead to all the problems in the Middle East. Had they sufficient faith in the word of God, all of this would have been avoided.

    Also all of this polygamy mess, with its generational implications — should be viewed as a poor interpretation of holy scripture, not as a LAW that polygamy must be lived to gain exaltation.

    1. You’re right – there is absolutely no scriptural foundation for what Joseph did. At no place anywhere in the Hebrew Bible does God command taking more than one wife. You can certainly argue that He allows it and doesn’t take action against people practicing it, but He never commands it.
      I thought Jim did a really good job until Bill & he reached polygamy. I’m not buying any of his arguments. Poor Joseph – he didn’t want to do this. Please. I am willing to grant that Joseph *thought* that God wanted him to do this, but this isn’t a revelation. One only needs to look at the legacy of Joseph’s actions (and that includes the FLDS) to know that it didn’t come from God. The church needs to throw away D&C 132, disavow plural marriage in all forms (I’m looking at you Rusty & Hoax), and put this vile thing completely in the past.

      1. I agree, Brad. Toss out 132 and restore the original one on monogamy.

        And while they are tossing D&C 132 and restoring the original marriage revelation, get rid of “temple marriage” which excludes friends and family, not of our faith, who want to celebrate their child’s/friends’ wedding. That would go a long, long way toward mending relationships between LDS and other Christians.

        What a mess D&C 132 has created!!!

        1. Gale, you make several great observations, except it’s the threat of not being able to attend your child’s wedding that the top 15 is able to keep so many in line.

  5. On the subject of Abraham and Hagar:

    Compare D&C 132:65 to Genesis 16: 1-2.

    Abraham harkened to the voice of Sarah, but was not commanded by God to take the slave woman.

    So the D&C verses which mention Sarah’s LAW is not accurately stated, as God did not command, but that Sarah made the choice of giving Hagar to Abraham, in my estimation.

  6. I’m pretty troubled by Jim’s idea that polygamy, as practiced by the Church in the 1800s, was a much “cleaner” version of polygamy than that of contemporary groups, and also the idea of the increased power and freedom that polygamist women of the day enjoyed. The idea that the men who practiced polygamy were “strangers in their own home” is bunk. Frontier women that practiced polygamy were often left alone for months at a time, in abject poverty, with more children than they could properly care for on their own. Justify the divine hand in polygamy all you want, but to pretend that it was some great institution for women, while the men suffered, is just not backed up by personal accounts. They lives of many of Brigham Young’s wives is testament to this, and they probably lived the most lavish of lives compared to other polygamist women.

  7. Deanna Kessler-Drinkard

    Jim Bennett, bottom line: Would you trust Joseph Smith to tend your 16-year-old daughter, alone, given his track record? Bill Reel, sincere thanks for demonstrating the epitome of articulate composure throughout all this nonsense!

  8. Jim is prepared to give Joseph Smith some leeway in terms of polygamy because of the BoM. Does Brigham Young get the same leeway? If not, what is the modern value of a church that was led, arguably, by an initial prophet but not be one since? And what is the value of prophets if they’re just humans who make terrible mistakes like the rest of us?

  9. Bill, This episode is causing me such anger. I am not through with it yet but Bennett makes so many twists and excuses. He is willing to blame Emma and give her a negative character in order to keep Joseph as a saint. Joseph was a victim? Joseph was in complete control of the religion he created. He wielded power as a prophet where people did what he said because they believed he spoke for God. HE took that power and created abuse after abuse. Women were the damage, women were the damage! He lead the way for women to be taken in to isolation and be forced to live polygamy in Utah with no outlet. Also, it is clear where mormonism gets the culture of blaming the victims and excusing the abuser. Sick to my stomach, Bill. Sick. I know you are trying to make a civil debate but it is hard to listen to, for me, because adding more lies and sick ideologies creates more damage. I would love to hear RFM rip these arguments apart. No offense to you, Bill, for being civil but living through losing my religion through discovering obfuscation and mis-information (lies) has left me with little tolerance for such bull shit.

  10. Hi Bill,

    I’m listening to this series & I’m grateful that Jim is willing to engage with you on all these topics. I wonder if this conversation will (eventually) help him realize just how many irrational excuses & allowances he’s had to make to prop up his shelf of issues, not only for Joseph, Brigham, LDS prophets & apostles, but also attempting to separate their words & actions, under claims of divine authority from God, since “whether by mine own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

    Anyway, I’m in the middle of Episode 4, so polygamy is the current topic. Jim has, several times now, tried to draw distinctions between Joseph Smith’s secret polygamy & John C. Bennett’s “spiritual wifery”, i.e. sexual escapades. This is too Black&White/All-or-Nothing type thinking & categorizing to me. One of the best whistleblowers we have during the Nauvoo period is William Law (along with his wife Jane, & his brother Wilson) & their willingness to publish the Nauvoo Expositor at risk to themselves & their property & life savings invested in Nauvoo. William, as you know, was a counselor in the FP & an insider. They were introduced to the plural marriage revelation in the summer of 1843 by Hyrum & then confirmed it personally with Joseph, etc. William was in the Anointed Quorum (Second Anointing) & he was privy to the Council of Fifty (although it looks like he was excluded strangely). William exposed the heretical, esoteric teachings which Joseph was innovating at that time: plurality of gods, unconditional sealing up to eternal life (second anointing), plural marriage; as well as his vision to establish a theocratic Kingdom of God on earth (Council of Fifty, in which Joseph was anointed “King”). What often gets brushed over in these conversations about polygamy is the effect & influence of the Second Anointing on the whole landscape. The Second Anointing was basically a license to sin – everything except shedding innocent blood or blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. This was tied to sealing (at least to 1st wife). Well, I think it’s very plausible that recipients like Bennett & others were using this license. Joseph probably was, too, which is why they didn’t observe the “law of Sarah” hardly at all, it appears. One other point is that without an “original” copy of the D&C 132 revelation, it’s impossible to know whether Brigham altered/modified it by the time it was published, so the one we have may not be the same exact one from the Nauvoo period – maybe the “law of Sarah” (consent from 1st wife) was a BY addition.

    Just some thoughts. The Second Anointing was a get out of jail (almost) free card – suffer a little bit for sins, but then be exalted. Again, it’s another doctrine that reflects a favoritist/elitist/inequitable Deity. (Hence I do not believe God was really the source of such nonsense).

  11. I appreciate Jim’s willingness to even discuss these issues, but pardon me for saying I find some of his apologetic excuses & defenses “abhorrent”. For example, to try to repaint Lucy Walker’s description of Joseph’s spiritually/divinely authoritative & abusive/manipulative proposal as just “presentism” on our part & as somehow harmless & always in good faith on Joseph’s part – when her own description is harrowing & torturous, I find incredible. Joseph used his position as prophet, his claims of divine authority & revelation, & eternal blessing & (yes) condemnation language to full effect “the GATE (implies heaven) will close AGAINST YOU FOREVER” on a vulnerable teenage girl living in his home. This does not bear the fingerprints of a loving or merciful or equitable God/Creator. Why was not God introducing the practice to the women directly via angels & visions, if such were crucial to their eternal life? The “confirmation” revelations to the girls seem like spiritual/hypnotic suggestions by charismatic “chosen one” prophet/seer Joseph. Why were these marriages not to produce literal seed but rather just be spiritual sealings of families? Why not seal people as obviously platonic & innocent “sons” or “daughters” instead of wives and all the talk of “seed”? I found Jim’s redefinition of terms like “virgin” & “destroyed” to be extremely excusing/deflective. The God of Mormonism portrayed by these issues & the apologetic excuses is alien, favoritist, cruel, extreme, & ridiculous. It is a caricature of a Deity who apparently is the author of cult-like elitism & manipulation, a version of the tribal Old Testament Deity – rather than the loving & merciful Supreme Creator/Parents of all human souls. It’s not just “presentism”, it’s extremism. The polygamist saints may have eventually adjusted to it, but the Protestant roots & neighbors were shocked & offended by it. No wonder our fellow Christians don’t consider our God & Christ to be the same as theirs – it is in part because of what we/Mormons attribute to Them.

  12. If I have to hear Jim state “…but there was 4 months” between when Joseph told her about the revelation to enter plural marriage and when he gave her the ultimatum, I may scream.

    Jim is completely missing the point here and grasping.

    No means no. Simple as that. It was true then, its true now.
    Free agency must not have been a revealed principle yet.

  13. Whether God commanded Joseph to marry plural wives or not does not excuse the HUGE mistakes Joseph made with regard to teenage girls, young women, and married woman.

  14. Also, I cannot see God commanding plural marriage in the Bible, so there was nothing to restore. Look at Judah and Tamar. Look at Sarah giving Hagar to Abraham. Look at Jacob being tricked into marrying Leah instead of his chosen Rachel. Look at Leah and Rachel giving their handmaids (servant status and not of the tribe of Israel) to Jacob. Look at David and Solomon. God did not command any of it!

  15. I see no difference between John C Bennett and Joseph Smith in polygamy, except that people found out about John C Bennett and Joseph used John to cover up his own sins. John was Joseph’s 1st counselor and 2nd in command in Nauvoo.

  16. Jim, Joseph’s marriage to Fanny was NOT a legal marriage. Polygamy was against the state laws. There could not have been a legal marriage. This was an inappropriate relationship and/or adultery.

    God never commanded polygamy. So where does this idea come from that Joseph was restoring ancient principles?

    Are you saying that Joseph was restoring a principle from before Christ came to earth to teach us His gospel? Why Would God want that? I thought this was the gospel of JESUS CHRIST not the gospel of Abraham.

    The original section 101 of the D&C commanded monogamy. The original section 101 was in place until long after the saints crossed the plains to SLC. So SCRIPTURE declared monogamy but all the leaders of the church were breaking that commandment. Jesus taught transparency and honesty but we are supposed to believe that God changed his mind and secrecy, deception and lying became the gospel instead of light, truth and integrity?

    Jesus says he taught nothing in secret, that he made things plain for all to understand but to be Mormon I have to believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ became obsolete and was replaced by the gospel of Joseph Smith? Joseph Smith was not adding to the gospel, Joseph CHANGED the gospel. So why did God send his son to teach a gospel that wasn’t the”real” gospel?

    I’ve always thought the atonement was important but Joseph bypassed the saving grace of the atonement and promised salvation and eternal blessings to females and their families that married him. So why did Jesus Christ bother to go through all the suffering if all we really had to do to be saved was have someone in our family sealed to Joseph?

  17. Oh my! This was very difficult to listen to.

    I thank Mr. Bennett for his time and perspective, but I totally disagree with almost all of his assertions. How many times can the phrase “it is totally clear that…” be used to describe a situation that is anything but clear?

    In my opinion, there are two reasons that the LDS Church exists today. One, Brigham Young and, two, there is no smoking gun that obviously “proves” Joseph was a fraud.

    In my opinion, if the mobs would have left Joseph live a long life, he would have self-destructed, the truth would have been historically obvious, and this discussion would not be necessary.

    I believe there are many smoking guns that, for me personally, demonstrate a clear fradulent character. The “nail in the coffin” is the sheer number of questionable issues that have to be “nuanced” to take a believing stance.

    Bill’s many expressions of “… I feel that…” were appreciated.

    I will give one example of “matter of fact” language that bothered me.

    When talking about the BoM, Jim gave a defense that included several points including the following: the book “has withstood the test of time.” Well, …really?

    I think it failed miserably and I do not think I am alone in that belief. I agree with Dan Vogle, that proponents overstate the complexity of the BoM and understate Joseph’s story telling abilities. What was Joseph doing in all that time, “working it out in my mind?” My personal experience reading the BoM many times supports these assertions.

    I known two people could listen to this series and come away with polarized experiences, and I appreciate that such was the “goal” of the exercise. As such, I thank you for confirming, once again, that my understanding and position is fully “supportable” by the evidence.

  18. Follow up prompted by another half hour of listening.

    Why are first hand “quotes” by Joseph Smith allowed in this whole discussion. He is the guy on trial and should be the least trustworthy voice available. It is as if we let him take the stand, the defense “talks him up,” and then the prosecution is never allowed to cross-examine.

    The conversation about the difference between early Utah polygamy and Warren Jeffs’ style polygamy prompted these thoughts:

    My great grandmother was a polygamist wife, married by an apostle after the first manifesto btw. I knew her as a child. She lived with my father’s parents and she dressed (and wore her hair) just like the fundamentalist women I see in Cedar City at Costco when I visit my daughter at SUU.

    There exist Utah plural wife accounts that describe a very manipulative, political, and abusive form of polygamy. As Jim is fond to say, we do not know the full extent of polygamy’s travails in 1847-1910 Utah because the full story is “just not known.” To assert that the two types of polygamy were totally different is a leap. When a woman fears for her physical life and must plan a secret escape from the Salt Lake valley to escape her husband, that falls into Warren Jeffs territory in my book.

    I do not know who Jim’s grandfather is, but I question if he puts a little too much credence in what he says.

  19. Ok, so another half hour under the bridge…

    I am listening to the arguments discussing Joseph’s inadequacy in implementing polygamy. Thoughts…

    The assumption is that Joseph received a “command” from God that instructed him to practice polygamy. We don’t know how detailed such an interaction may have been, but there is implications in the conversation that it MAY have contained directions similar to Section 132.

    I would hope that a God is wise enough to understand that this practice is something that could really destroy lives. So, I think that a loving God would make itself available for “follow up” questions? If not, then much of the blame for an incorrect implementation lies on “It.”

    If Joseph is truly acting under God’s command, and Joseph is an intelligent caring “good” guy, he should have realized, at some point, that he needed to stop and get clarification. Please God, I have chosen this person to be my plural wife, her mom just died and I sent her father away, is this a good choice? Please God, Emma really hates this whole thing, how do I help her?

    Given this, I am left with:
    1) Joseph asked and God ignored him – God is a loser.
    1. God ignored Joseph because it wanted the “children” to grow by “figuring this out on their own” – God is a mega-loser. (This may be the “out” believers take as described in the next paragraph)
    2) Joseph asked and Joseph misunderstood the answer – Joseph is a loser.
    3) Joseph didn’t ask – Joseph is a loser.

    In the back of my head, I hear the “believing” argument that this life is a test and a “learning experience” so any perils we encounter here are for our own good, so it is totally ok for God to mess up people’s lives because he knows what he is doing. But, please understand the fundamental abhorrent nature of this thought process to a non-believer who values this life as our totality.

  20. Part 4 was hard to listen to. The only way I can reconcile polygamy is to “believe” that a God had nothing whatsoever to do with any of it. Jim keeps saying that Joseph believed, or Joseph was thinking, when there is no way that Jim knows anything about what Joseph was believing or what he was thinking. The only evidence is what Joseph did. Joseph broke fidelity with his wife, plain and simple. (Fidelity – the quality or state of being faithful).

    Jim says that poor Joseph was flailing in the dark, Joseph didn’t know what to do, Joseph was adrift, had no idea what he was doing, Joseph was not intentional when it came to polygamy. Consider that Joseph knew exactly what he was doing and that’s why he kept it secret; that’s why he lied.

    Also, when Jim says that there were no charges leveled against Joseph, consider that no one knew what he was doing, not even his wife. The only people who knew what he was doing were men whom Joseph had drawn into the practice, and they weren’t going to tell what they were doing because they wanted polygamy also.

    The whole polygamy idea appears to me to be the idea of a man, and it caused untold suffering, pain and sorrow for women and children.

    If prophets are not on a higher spiritual plane than the average man, why have prophets? Wouldn’t it be better to use our own critical thinking skills in making our decisions? But, if a person has lived his/her life in Mormonism, he/she will need to develop critical thinking skills because the Church certainly doesn’t help with that.

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