New Interpreter Hit-Piece

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Kishkumen
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New Interpreter Hit-Piece

Post by Kishkumen »

Interpreter is up to its usual antics. This time a ludicrous pseudo-review of Ben Park’s excellent new history of Nauvoo written by BYU’s Susan Easton-Black. Here is one of the gems:
I asked myself why this author, with an academic background from Brigham Young University and a bright academic future, aligned himself with scholarship that degrades a prophet of God. I came up with no answer.
https://journal.interpreterfoundation. ... rspective/
Last edited by Kishkumen on Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

Post by Kishkumen »

Was Easton-Black unable to locate the endnotes?
But the able scholar, the one who has gone beyond the internet to the library and small repositories, will quickly see that the author uses few dates, his documentation is infrequent and causes the reader to search for sources to quotation marks, and his summaries are superficial.
Last edited by Kishkumen on Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

Post by Kishkumen »

FPR absolutely destroys Easton-Black’s pseudo-review:

http://faithpromotingrumor.com/2020/07 ... YWobAefbMo

My favorite part:
Some readers of the blog have noted that my posts have been, over the past couple of years, fairly negative toward the Religious Education department and related organizations. I would prefer that it wasn’t this way. I would prefer to not write the above response and others like it. But, as long as some members of the Religious Education department continue to write similar reviews of books that in reality, outside of that small group, are receiving broad praise for their contributions, these kinds of posts will remain relevant. It is far better to keep the broader readership in Mormon studies informed than to keep completely silent on these topics. In this case, I would hope and expect that most readers who stumble upon Easton-Black’s review will be able to read between the lines for what her “review” really is: an opportunity simply to ask: “Where is the author’s knowledge that Joseph Smith was a prophet and the Lord revealed his words to him?” Boundary maintenance is the function for this review and others like it, and with the supposed expansiveness of Mormon theology you would hope that the culture itself would allow scholars to be just that: scholars.
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

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This part of Easton-Black’s piece is practically self-parody:
I was pleased The Interpreter Foundation invited me to review Kingdom of Nauvoo. The promise of writing a short review gave me reason to pause from my life’s ventures to read yet another book on my favorite travel destination. I saw myself reading the works of a new, rising historian—a budding Richard Bushman, in his own right. Park, [Page 108]having a publisher that requires a literary agent, captured my attention. His publisher, Liveright, is a division of the W. W. Norton & Company of New York City, a publishing house owned by its employees and known for its anthologies and textbooks, not for studies of Joseph Smith and the merits of Mormonism. A professor away from Utah and a publisher whose publications are not readily seen in the Deseret Book or Seagull bookstores looked like a huge win to me.

Putting aside the cares of the day, I blocked out an afternoon and sat down to read. I was delighted to find that Benjamin Park has a flair for writing. His words are accessible to scholar and lay reader alike, a rare talent indeed.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Just think: in a brief review, which she obviously committed to write as a brief review, she actually devoted some of that brief review to telling you she had committed to write a brief review and that she “put aside the cares of the day” and “blocked out an afternoon” ( No, please! This is too funny!) to read Park’s book.
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

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I appreciate Yakov Ben Tov calling out this absolutely shameful sham of a review that Interpreter published. It is an unfortunate thing that Easton-Black should be made to look this way. From all I have heard about her, she is a decent person. She ought to have been talked out of doing this. It does not put her in a good light at all. Someone who cared about her and knew better ought to have advised her better. A responsible and conscientious editor might have pointed out the inadequacy of the review in its present state. This is really pretty awful all around.
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

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From Ardis Parshall’s excellent review:
Frankly, coming from an upbringing largely formed by those outdated religious historians who painted everything as either the pure goodness of a saintly people or as the unreasoning hatred of evil oppressors motivated solely by opposition to The Truth, history such as Ben writes is refreshing, stabilizing, and helps a believer like me have confidence in the knowability of our history. That is, for the first time I have an understanding of the legal difficulties of Joseph Smith and other leading Latter-day Saints – not just the whens and whats, but more importantly, the whys. The “mobs” (I’ll adopt the grandes dames’ shorthand here) didn’t hate Joseph Smith because he wouldn’t hand them our votes; they didn’t fear the Nauvoo Legion as a military force; they didn’t hate us because we had The Truth and they were demons who fought against God. Rather, they were Americans who had their own ideas of how America should function, free from the control of religious dictation common before the Republic. If Mormons could justly be disillusioned by the failure, as they saw it, of government to protect them in their religious rights, their non-Mormon neighbors could justly be disillusioned by the failure, as they saw it, of government to protect them from the priestly machinations of Mormons who used a version of the law to wiggle out of every legitimate attempt to bring malefactors before the law. When both sides gave up on Americanism, both sides took direct action outside that Americanism: the Mormons began drafting an alternative to the American Constitution, and non-Mormons (and, frankly, Mormons in some cases) took extra-legal, violent measures to address wrongs that the legal system seemed powerless to handle.
This review is the opposite of Easton-Black’s in almost every way. One can even compare the autobiographical aspects and see how far short SEB’s falls in even this respect.

See: http://www.keepapitchinin.org/2020/07/ ... of-nauvoo/
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

Post by Gadianton »

Reverend,

Thank you for alerting us to this startling development within Mopologetics, or what's left of its rotting carcass anyhow.

Rev: "She ought to have been talked out of doing this"

Talked out?

SEB: "I was pleased The Interpreter Foundation invited me to review Kingdom of Nauvoo"

I think she was invited to do:

"Boundary maintenance is the function for this review and others like it,"

I mean, seriously, Reverend. Which of these two choices do you think is more likely? The Chairman phones up and says,

"(after pleasantries)...We really need a review of this new history of Nauvoo, written by Dr. Ben Park of the Maxwell Institute, and Interpreter would be an excellent outlet for this. Dr. Park has written this history from a different angle than previous histories, and we'd really like to gain an objective insight into this new trend of scholarship. Objectivity is our goal here, and so please, take a couple of weeks to pore over this volume and provide a summary of the methods and both merits and weaknesses of the methods, and overall execution: did the volume live up to its ideals or promises? We really need something that's both fair and informative for our readers who ever seek to expand their grasp of Mormon history."

OR,

"(after talk of food and travel and a little self-deprecating humor)...They've done it again. This time it's Ben Park. Yep. He's one of them. Look, we need credibility here, and I need a new voice, but... Yeah. New voice, same messages, as Elder Packer would say. Yeah, we've all been ordained, so to speak, to protect the boundary if you know what I mean. Yep. These clowns gotta' go. You know what Elder Holland thinks about all of this, right? It's apostasy. Plain and simple. Look, you can knock this one out in an afternoon, I'm positive; I know you're busy and so don't waste too much of your time. Just hone in on anything that makes our prophet look human in ways we don't already know about. I'm sure you can do it, but make sure the final product has some 'teeth' if you know what I mean. Yeah...error on the side of teeth. I can always have Lou spice it up or if, you know, it's not what we're looking for, but yeah, he and Greg could always field the whole thing if we need them to, but it's good for all of us if others can help carry that torch."
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Doctor Scratch
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Yes, thank you very much Reverend! It would seem that Editor in Chief Wyatt is really on a roll lately. Like you and Dean Robbers, though, I'm wondering how much of this was actually written by Easton-Black, and whether Wyatt or Midgley or somebody else actually forced her to "adjust her tone"--sort of like what has been described by Hauglid, Hodges, and Shirts. Is anyone aware of any other texts by Easton-Black that are in the same ballpark as this? I.e., snarky and snotty and basically just looking to pick a fight?

Whatever the case may be, some of the comments over at "Mormon Interpreter" are interesting:
Brian C. Hales wrote:What an interesting string of comments.

Ben Park is a friend and I’ve sat with him next to the Red Brick Store in Nauvoo as we chatted and enjoyed the moist evening air.

But what are we to do with a text that refers to Nauvoo plural marriage as Joseph Smith’s “polygamous experiment” (121). Would any of the 115 polygamists who entered those covenants in Nauvoo before Joseph’s death have agreed it was an “experiment? It seems that such a characterization is based on ignorance of how the participants (including Joseph Smith) described it or a willful willingness to ignore that data in preference of a view more acceptable to a secular audience (who would likely agree).

I can’t comment on the rest of the book because I stopped reading at that point. Maybe I’ll pick it up again later.
So, Hales is abandoning the book because Park's characterization of Nauvoo was upsetting to him? My goodness: how on earth does this guy conduct "scholarship" if he's so easily rattled? (Also: am I alone in finding it gross that Hales says he "enjoyed the moist evening air"?)

And this, from 'Johnny,' is absolutely devastating:
Johnny wrote:One gets the impression from this review that Susan Easton Black has never met Dr. Park before. Which is strange, since the pair co-led a post-conference tour of Nauvoo at the annual meeting of the Mormon History Association in 2017. If Sister Black knows Dr. Park, why does she not reveal as much instead of pretending to be surprised to learn of “young Benjamin Park” only with the publication of this book?

One also gets the impression from this review that Sister Black believes that Dr. Park has never so much as stepped foot in Nauvoo. Which again is strange, since the pair co-led a post-conference tour of the city at the annual meeting of the Mormon History Association in 2017. Beyond that, Dr. Park begins the acknowledgements in his book by noting that “The genesis of this project came when, as an undergraduate student, I had the privilege to participate in a Brigham Young University program in Nauvoo for four months. … I quickly fell in love with the city and its history” (p. 281).

Sister Black accuses Dr. Park of not going “beyond the internet to the library.” In that same acknowledgments section, Dr. Park lists the following libraries and archival repositories where he researched for the book: LDS Church History Library, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library, the Community of Christ’s Library and Archives, the International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers, the Library of Congress, the University of Chicago Library, the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriot Library, Western Illinois University’s Leslie F. Malpass Library, and Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (that list comes from p. 283). Hundreds of references to the documents he consulted and cited are scattered throughout the 31 pages of footnotes (pp. 288-319, in case Sister Black would like to go take a look).

Sister Black claims “the author uses few dates.” A quick (if admittedly unscientific) search for each of the following dates via Google Books turns up the following results: 1830: 12; 1831: 7; 1832: 6; 1833: 7; 1834: 4; 1835: 7; 1836: 9; 1837: 7; 1838: 16; 1839: 24. 1840: 43; 1841: 37; 1842: 60; 1843: 54; 1844: 60; 1845: 27; 1846: 14; 1847: 6.

That’s a total of 390 dates for the 1830s through 1847 alone. I’m sure there’s more. Does Sister Black really believe ~400 dates is “few”?

Sister Black claims Dr. Park’s “documentation is infrequent.” My quick count of his footnotes — many (perhaps most?) of which cite more than one source — shows 491 footnotes. I would be willing to bet there isn’t a page of text in the book without at least one (and usually several) footnotes. Sister Black’s most recently published book (The Other Martyr: Insights from the Life of Hyrum Smith), by contrast, includes 286 footnotes, every single one of which includes a single reference (including several sources from the ::gasp:: internet!).

Sister Black rightly points out “that two people can read the same document and reach divergent opinions; it is a matter of perspective.” She then repeats the truism that the sources should guide the historian’s conclusions instead of allowing one’s perspective to guide the conclusions reached. While accusing Dr. Park of the latter, Sister Black the concludes her review by chastising “the young author” for purportedly “tak[ing] out faith, a belief that God speaks to his prophet, and the sacrifice of thousands of early Latter-day Saints to build up Nauvoo.” But isn’t such a view a perspective that risks guiding the conclusions a historian reaches? That is all well and good, but Sister Black cannot have it both ways.

Perhaps the strangest part of this review is that it does not address — even in passing — the central argument and thesis of Kingdom of Nauvoo. A general history of the city this is not. Instead, Dr. Park uses the Latter-day Saint experience in Nauvoo as a case study of “the contradictions and tensions of” frontier America in the 1840. “Examining the rise and fall of this Mormon empire,” he argues, “demonstrates how Americans still struggled with the concept and practice of democracy only a few generations after the nation’s birth, and highlights the legacies and paradoxes of the country’s commitment to one of its most cherished ideals, religious liberty” (p. 6). It is, in many ways, a continuation of his earlier work in American Nationalisms, showing the ways in which America and its ideals remained contested in the early republic and antebellum era. What does Sister Black think of that argument? This may not be the book she would write — and that’s just fine! — but a responsible review should judge a book on its own merits and claims, not the reviewer’s agenda (one might say, “perspective”).

I encourage Interpreter readers to give the book a closer read than Sister Black appears to have.
Wow.
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

Post by Simon Southerton »

I like how the title of her review is a perfect title for the content of her review.

"Sensationalism: A One-sided Perspective"
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

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Rather like the irony in the title of Gee's (hit piece) title on Jana R: "Conclusions in Search of Evidence"

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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

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Kishkumen wrote:
Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:22 pm
From Ardis Parshall’s excellent review:
A positive review?! I was wondering why someone was bad mouthing Ardis Parshall at Sic et Non. Ben Park's book must have hit some apologetic nerve endings.

And this, from 'Johnny,' is absolutely devastating:
Does anyone have an exact definition of the demarcation between "hit piece" and "hatchet job"? I think with this further documentation, the Interpreter article deserves an elevation in status.
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

Post by Philo Sofee »

Isn't Black one of the professed "disciple scholars" meaning everything she is doing is all about what today's "brethren" want church history to be? Disciple scholars are always submissive to what the brethren want, including conclusions they will accept from BYU employees and writers.
She has become a brethren licker, so I very seldom take much of what she says as reliable.
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

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Gadianton wrote:
Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:37 pm
Reverend,

Thank you for alerting us to this startling development within Mopologetics, or what's left of its rotting carcass anyhow.

Rev: "She ought to have been talked out of doing this"

Talked out?

SEB: "I was pleased The Interpreter Foundation invited me to review Kingdom of Nauvoo"

I think she was invited to do:

"Boundary maintenance is the function for this review and others like it,"

I mean, seriously, Reverend. Which of these two choices do you think is more likely? The Chairman phones up and says . . .
Thank you, Dean Robbers. It is good to have one's colleagues bring some much-needed perspective. What I am saying here is that she might have been stopped by a responsible editor from publishing something that is so transparently incomplete and poorly executed. It is one thing to write a negative review; it is another entirely to write a negative review in such a way that it makes the reviewer look really inept, lazy even. If I am the editor and a writer sends me this kind of review, I would politely decline to publish it for the good of everyone involved. If I am a conscientious editor, I do not want the writer to look bad, I don't want the publication to look bad, and I don't want to look bad. This is an instance in which the very publication of the review reveals the existence of a cluster of problems that urgently demand addressing. Honestly, I feel badly for Dr. Easton-Black. She has been very poorly advised by people she considers her friends, or at least her allies.
Last edited by Kishkumen on Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

Post by Stem »

uh..what was that? She didn't like his book because he's a young scholar?

"The difference between young Benjamin Park and myself is more than longevity in the field of Latter-day Saint Church history. It is perspective. In his prologue, Park begins, “A gloomy pall hung over the Mormon city of Nauvoo when Joseph Smith and his closest allies gathered to replace the American Constitution” (2). This sensationalistic beginning hooks readers into moving on to succeeding chapters, but it starts the book on a faulty premise. The author has taken a leap that more cautious historians in yesteryear rejected."

She contends,
"the able scholar, the one who has gone beyond the internet to the library and small repositories, will quickly see that the author uses few dates, his documentation is infrequent and causes the reader to search for sources to quotation marks, and his summaries are superficial" but then apparently writes a review amounting to a facile response to DCP's internet blog?

It's nice she put in an afternoon to the project. Apparently his work doesn't deserve much more than a dismissive glance.

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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

Post by Kishkumen »

Doctor Scratch wrote:
Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:07 pm
Whatever the case may be, some of the comments over at "Mormon Interpreter" are interesting:
Brian C. Hales wrote:What an interesting string of comments.

Ben Park is a friend and I’ve sat with him next to the Red Brick Store in Nauvoo as we chatted and enjoyed the moist evening air.

But what are we to do with a text that refers to Nauvoo plural marriage as Joseph Smith’s “polygamous experiment” (121). Would any of the 115 polygamists who entered those covenants in Nauvoo before Joseph’s death have agreed it was an “experiment? It seems that such a characterization is based on ignorance of how the participants (including Joseph Smith) described it or a willful willingness to ignore that data in preference of a view more acceptable to a secular audience (who would likely agree).

I can’t comment on the rest of the book because I stopped reading at that point. Maybe I’ll pick it up again later.
So, Hales is abandoning the book because Park's characterization of Nauvoo was upsetting to him? My goodness: how on earth does this guy conduct "scholarship" if he's so easily rattled? (Also: am I alone in finding it gross that Hales says he "enjoyed the moist evening air"?)
What an asshole that Hales shows himself to be. Good grief.

So, Brian Hales, let me tell you something that you may have missed in your forays into the world of scholarship. What you are bristling at is evidence of Park taking an etic as opposed to an emic approach in his discussion of Mormon polygamy. Are you familiar with those terms?

If not, check this out:

Etic approach: from the perspective of an outside observer.

Emic approach: from the perspective of one inside the group.

My guess is that when you see something written in an etic mode about something religiously sensitive (for you), you get your hackles up. How much worse when someone you know to be a member of your faith writes in that mode. After all, if you are a loyal Latter-day Saint, you should only write in an emic mode, right? Because covenants and priesthood.

Let me assure you that a good Latter-day Saint scholar can write in an etic mode and do so respectfully, responsibly, and effectively. It simply is the case that within the larger context of scholarship on antebellum American religion, there are discussion of the variety of sexual, familial, and social arrangements that scholars routinely identify as "experimental." In using this language, scholars are not denigrating those practices. They are identifying something about these practices' novelty and departure from cultural norms of the time.

Can a good Latter-day Saint scholar put on his etic scholar cap and, writing in the accepted mode of his discipline, adopt language that is uncomfortable for other Latter-day Saints who are more accustomed to reading happy bedtime stories about the Lord's Prophet Joseph Smith and the Principle of Eternal Marriage? Yes. If he did not, then everyone outside of the happy bedtime story readers would throw his book against the wall with a resounding thud. Those astute Latter-day Saints who don't want to occupy--and their faith to occupy--happy bedtime storyland recognize that what Park is doing is very constructive and important. It is good for the LDS Church. Remaining in happy bedtime storyland in front of the whole world actually is the opposite of constructive and important. It is insipid, banal, and useless.

Please stop.
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

Post by Kishkumen »

Stem wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:28 am
uh..what was that? She didn't like his book because he's a young scholar?

"The difference between young Benjamin Park and myself is more than longevity in the field of Latter-day Saint Church history. It is perspective. In his prologue, Park begins, “A gloomy pall hung over the Mormon city of Nauvoo when Joseph Smith and his closest allies gathered to replace the American Constitution” (2). This sensationalistic beginning hooks readers into moving on to succeeding chapters, but it starts the book on a faulty premise. The author has taken a leap that more cautious historians in yesteryear rejected."
Let me provide a translation here:
The difference between young Benjamin Park and myself is that I carry the perspective of one who knows to remain in a place and time of the shared imagination of the Mormons of the 20th century who went to seminary, institute, and BYU religion courses, and learned only the things the Brethren thought they should know. My people do not go to Sunstone. We flip out about anti-Mormons if we hear anything that upsets our treacly correlated fantasy (assumptions). I can read part of a book and if it says anything that makes me feel uncomfortable, I can attribute it to the faulty premise of the author, regardless of whether he can support his position or not. Of course, I didn't really scrutinize the book or read the endnotes, so I can't say, but I think the unhappy feelings I got telling me God did not approve of Ben Park's book are sufficient. Faithful historians have always known this, so they would not continue to write after the bad feelings hit them. Ben Park wrote things that might make LDS people look or feel bad, so he has bad premises.
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

Post by Dr Moore »

Susan Easton Black wrote:May this author present truth in his next work.
Greg Prince wrote in his McKay biography, "All history is subjective..."

Richard Bushman wrote "But the admission that we ourselves are subjective human beings whose rational mechanisms are not entirely trustworthy does not diminish our sense that we are right and our counterparts mistaken."

Susan Black is free to disagree with Park's subjective reading of history, and I agree with the Reverend that a more thoughtfully detailed analysis of specific points of disagreement might have accomplished something worth reading. Instead, Susan castigates Park and labels his research untruth simply because he did not "edify" her as a believing Mormon.

She writes toward the end
Susan Easton Black wrote:Truth edifies the writer and the reader.
Well... in the idealistic Mormon world view, this is true IF and ONLY IF the truth fits the Mormon version of truth. It doesn't work if the reader is unwilling to view the truth from a non-faithful point of view. Flat-earthers, racists, and anti-vaxxers do not find themselves edified by the truth either.

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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

Post by Dr Moore »

Brian C. Hales wrote: Ben’s book reflects a secular view, sometimes in the extreme. It conflates John C. Bennett’s spiritual wifery with Joseph Smith’s introduction of plural marriage and fails to consider any of the evidence that I bring up in my “John C. Bennett and Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Addressing the Question of Reliability, Journal of Mormon History, vol. 41 (April 2015) no. 2, 131–181 article. On this topic, it is retro-history, a step back in interpretive time. But the naturalists will gladly receive it.

Despite your claim, Nauvoo pluralists were devout religionists trying to please God by entering plural unions. They did not see themselves as “experimeters” with a new form of marriage. Please read their accounts.

Best,

Brian Hales
Hales takes great offense that Park refers to Nauvoo plural marriage as Joseph's "polygamous experiment." Another example of hyper-sensitivity to a different subjective view of the past than one's own view which is inextricably linked to truth claims of prophetic inspiration. The tools of a historian can't take miracles into account because, by definition, a miracle is the least likely thing to have happened. (credit to David Bokovoy who told me that once)

In fact, and with credit to Ben Park's neutral scholarship, "experiment" might be the perfect word for what Joseph did with Nauvoo polygamy. Almost every new venture -- scientific, business, social -- is an "experiment" precisely because the outcome is uncertain. Did Joseph have perfect certainty about how polygamy would play out? Hell no! That's why he kept it secret, was untrue to Emma about it, and found it so difficult to deal with all of the complexities of human reactions involved among those who touched it. Some, sure, may have seen themselves as "devout religionists trying to please God by entering plural unions." But that was NOT the case for everyone in Nauvoo -- starting with the one person who might matter most, Emma Smith!

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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

Post by Doctor Steuss »

The keys of the resurrection have been granted, as “No Ma’am, That’s Not History” comes back from the grave.

Hallelujah!
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

Post by Dr Exiled »

Dr Moore wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:52 am
Susan Easton Black wrote:May this author present truth in his next work.

This is really frustrating, given how it is really the TBM's who need to tell the truth to themselves and others. To an outsider and most rational members willing to look in the mirror honestly, polygamy and especially polyandry look like the result of an overactive libido looking for justification for conquest. So, using "experiment" language seems pretty tame.
Last edited by Dr Exiled on Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Interpreter Hit-Piece

Post by Kishkumen »

Dr Moore wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:02 am
Hales takes great offense that Park refers to Nauvoo plural marriage as Joseph's "polygamous experiment." Another example of hyper-sensitivity to a different subjective view of the past than one's own view which is inextricably linked to truth claims of prophetic inspiration. The tools of a historian can't take miracles into account because, by definition, a miracle is the least likely thing to have happened. (credit to David Bokovoy who told me that once)

In fact, and with credit to Ben Park's neutral scholarship, "experiment" might be the perfect word for what Joseph did with Nauvoo polygamy. Almost every new venture -- scientific, business, social -- is an "experiment" precisely because the outcome is uncertain. Did Joseph have perfect certainty about how polygamy would play out? Hell no! That's why he kept it secret, was untrue to Emma about it, and found it so difficult to deal with all of the complexities of human reactions involved among those who touched it. Some, sure, may have seen themselves as "devout religionists trying to please God by entering plural unions." But that was NOT the case for everyone in Nauvoo -- starting with the one person who might matter most, Emma Smith!
Indeed, Dr. Moore. Very well put.
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