beastie explains how it was her 'fault' not to have known more about Mormonism earlier, rather than it being due to LDS Inc's whitewashing of its history:
I converted to the church at the age of 19 in 1976. I was attending a small, private Methodist college in the southeast, and its library only had two books on Mormonism - both EV anti-mormon screeds that were easy to dismiss. I did my best to find out more information about the LDS church, but just didn't have access to anything helpful. So I believed what the missionaries told me about polygamy, which correlates to what you were told - it was to take care of widows and orphans. (I now wonder why it didn't occur to me that church members could take care of widows and orphans without marrying the widows as plural wives.) I don't remember ever hearing that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy himself, much less some of the more controversial details. I remember being told repeatedly that Emma was adamantly opposed to the practice.
Funny, when I was a two-year, full-time missionary in the late 70's, early 80's, and while we had two versions of the discussions, there was no mention of polygamy--and annotated instructions were to get the investigator back on track of just the topics presented in the discussions if the investigator brought up another topic. My companions were good at it, and headed off any conversation about polygamy as something that was socially needed in Utah in the 19th Century to build up a society there, but has long since been abandoned. While it did pipe down the questions, there frequently was a puzzled look yet remaining on the face of the investigator.
Did I draw the conclusion myself that Joseph Smith refrained from the practice for Emma's sake, or was I told that? I have no idea, but it was a firmly implanted idea in my head.
The way I heard about it when yet a TBM, in Sunday School and Priesthood Meeting and only then when raised as an off-manual topic, was that (a) JSJr received the revelation that the Saints were to engage in polygamy, (b) he told his wife, Emma, who vociferously objected (I use the commas as a parenthetical there because even with what I know today, I yet consider Emma to be the only wife of JSJr), (c) JSJr refrained from engaging in polygamy out of respect for Emma's wishes
, (d) Emma was 'bad' for not accepting JSJr engaging in polygamy as god had commanded him, and (e) BY married all those widows in Utah to care for them and their fatherless children. #(c) was repeated not only in my home ward in a neighboring state, but also at a BYU ward in which the bishop, a BYU religion professor, was in attendance during one such occasion and did not 'correct' this misnomer.
I also distinctly remember the lessons from the manuals on Church history described polygamy as something that BY set up after the migration to Utah.
This was true for my other family members that joined when I did, too. We didn't find out about Joseph Smith's polygamy until we read Mormon Enigma many years later.
I have a hard time believing that beastie has a comprehension problem or that she comes from stock that has a genetic problem with comprehension.
I told this story on MAD years ago, and was heavily criticized for being too lazy to engage in due diligence before joining the church.
Ahh, the quintessential experience on MAD by those that would dare to mention that their Church experience did not include, from before baptism, knowing all about JSJr's peccadilloes.
When I pointed out that I had no resources at all, I was told that I should have searched the microfiches of the library.
Boy, wouldn't it have been much easier in the Missionary Home/MTC to have only had to tell investigators that to appropriately investigate the Mormon Church would have been to direct them to the microfiche collections in libraries in Utah. Not having to memorize ver batim
those lengthy discussions that made no mention of such would have been much easier, and then I would not have unwittingly been an instrument of deception to the investigators that listened to me.
I pointed out that I would not have known what to look FOR, having no idea what the controversies are, and they didn't care. It was still my fault. I was lazy.
beastie, the apologist condemns us ex-Mo's each for not having studied out in our own minds everything ever written about Mormonism, and then prayed about it to get those stupors so we could dismiss the lies and get those bosom burning moments for what was true.
I wonder if to this day, anyone has prayed about JSJr's promiscuity and had his or her bosom burn with confirmation.
Of course, every topic I have learned anything about in my life began with grasping the basics and then moving on. I suppose it was my fault my 4th grade grammar school teacher mentioned Thomas Jefferson but nothing about Sally Hemings. Of course, my teacher didn't know either, but those rascals that were involved in the process of what primary source information would not appear in my grade school history books, they were trying to instill a misconception in me just as certainly as LDS Inc was doing.
My point here though is prompted by beastie's parenthetical:
(I now wonder why it didn't occur to me that church members could take care of widows and orphans without marrying the widows as plural wives.)
Yeah, how come it did not occur to beastie? Or to me when I heard the care-for-widows-and-orphans excuse?
Seems like beastie at those points in time, and me too at those points in my own Mormon odyssey, were accepting that explanation without looking further on our own, doing the Book of Mormon thing discussed in Alma 32:27-43. Specifically, letting the "desire work" in us until we can "give place" to the gospel, not resisting it so that it would grow like a planted seed, so that it
would swell within our breasts, we would realize that it is good, that our souls would be enlarged, our understandings enlightened--that we would find it 'delicious'. Through our repeating that the 'seed' is good, our faith would be strengthened, our minds expand with greater powers of discernment.
By accepting the facile explanation of caring for the widows and orphans, we nourishing our faith, as Alma exhorted us to do, with great care, diligence, patience and looking forward to it to 'bring forth fruit' (everlasting life), fearing that if we did not so nourish it by accepting such an explanation, our 'ground would be barren' and the seed not grow.
As BKP has admonished just over a year ago, 'let it alone'.
Yet at the Great and Spacious Echo Chamber that was once appropriately acronymed MAD, one that mentions that he relied on the 'milk before the meat' is ridiculed for not having instantly learned every unsavory nook and cranny of Mormon history while investigating Mormonism or for having accepted what Mormon leaders repeatedly and consistently shoveled to those of us BIC as we grew up (rather than having at, say, 7 and 1/2 years of age insisted our parents take us to Salt Lake City to the Church Library there so that we could have spent at least 6 months before turning 8 and being baptized, learning about all of JSJr's dirty laundry).
Why, as beastie asks, did it not occur to those of us that had this experience that caring for widows and orphans could have been done without the necessity of BY making those widows his 'wives'?
Could it be that it did not occur to us, and we thus did not dig deeper then, because we were trying to give that seed of desire the test that Alma said required us to hope for the seed to be good, to be true, and to nourish it, we had to avoid naysayers?