Thursday, February 23, 2006

What is it about Mormonism? And the first part of a play about Joseph Smith

Should you challenge a Mormon about some particularly nauseous aspect of his or her church they will smugly say: “Yes! But they have yada, yada, yada in the Catholic Church!”

So, let us get this straight. Your average Mormon knows that his or her church is wrong. But they are willing to ignore this fact because… tada!! There are other churches that are just as bad!

But surely this must mean that your average Book of Mormon wielding TBM really knows that his or her church is not what it claims to be. That it is not the one true restored church of Jesus, but is a fake.

But how can you prove to someone that what they already know to be a fake is, actually, a fake?

How can someone one the one hand know that something is a fake, yet, on the other hand, still believe in it?

That is because TBMs have been brainwashed, just as surely as those UN service personnel who were captured by the Chinese and North Koreans during the Korean War were made to think what was contrary to what they really knew. They were brainwashed, or if you, will, mentally conditioned.

This is a perfect example of what author and social commentator Georg Orwell described as “Double think” or the ability to hold at the same time two mutually exclusive or in deed totally hostile ideas at the same time. And still be able to believe both of them.

The following is the first part of an uncompleted play about Joseph Smith. I hope you enjoy it.

Joseph Smith a play

NARRATOR: Exactly who was Joseph Smith? More to the point, WHAT was he? Was he a saint? Or a sinner? A prophet of God, or a con man? Sane? Or mentally ill? After 175 years, it is very hard to say. Or is it? For a whole wealth of evidence still exists to this day that tells the real story of Joseph Smith. And it is not the sugar-sweet tale of heroism, martyrdom and religious piety that is the official story of Joseph Smith as told by the Mormon Church. Joseph Smith's life was complex. The Smith family had grand ideas, but did not seem to have the will to work to raise the funds they needed. So the family decided to employ what is delicately described as "Earth magic" or witchcraft.
Joseph Smith's story began, according to official Mormon church history when Joseph saw God and Jesus."
JOSEPH SMITH: "I was born in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five, on the twenty-third day of December, in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, State of Vermont. My father, Joseph Smith, Senior, left the State of Vermont, and moved to Palmyra, in the State of New York, when I was in my tenth year, or thereabouts. In about four years after my father's arrival in Palmyra, he moved with his family into Manchester in the same county of Ontario-
His family consisting of eleven souls, namely, my father, Joseph Smith; my mother, Lucy Smith (whose name, previous to her marriage, was Mack, daughter of Solomon Mack); my brothers, Alvin (who died November 19th, 1823, in the 26th year of his age), Hyrum, myself, Samuel Harrison, William, Don Carlos; and my sisters, Sophronia, Catherine, and Lucy.
Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, "Lo, here!" and others, "Lo, there!" Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist.
For, notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great zeal manifested by the respective clergy, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling, in order to have everybody converted, as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased; yet when the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued-priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions.
I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My father's family was proselyted to the Presbyterian faith, and four of them joined that church, namely, my mother, Lucy; my brothers Hyrum and Samuel Harrison; and my sister Sophronia.
During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.
My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavouring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.
In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be aright, which is it, and how shall I know it?
While I was labouring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.
At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to "ask of God," concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.
So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.
After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction-not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvellous power as I had never before felt in any being-just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other-This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)-and which I should join.
I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof."
He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home.”
NARRATOR: “So, there we have it. Straight from the prophet’s mouth. So to speak. Or do we have it? For there is one thing that the Mormon Church does not seem keen on the world knowing. That the foregoing was not the first version of that story that Joseph Smith told. In fact, the above somewhat touching version of the first vision was only told many years after the event. And the original versions make no mention of god or Jesus Christ at all. A somewhat startling omission, because who would be able to see God and Jesus Christ and then seemingly miss out that highly important detail? The original story that Joseph Smith told was dramatically different.
METHODIST MINISTER: “Yes, Joseph Smith joined the Methodist congregation here in Harmony, Pennsylvania in the June of 1828. Funny, seeing as how he claimed to have been told eight years earlier not to join any church! He never was on our membership rolls for long though! The minister did not suspect that there was anything wrong. He was soon put right, though, by someone who was not far off Smith’s own age and knew a good deal of the true character of Joseph Smith. They thought it was an utter disgrace to the Methodist Church to have as a member a man who was known to be a practicing necromancer, a dealer in enchantments and bleeding ghosts, as a member. We asked Joseph Smith if he would repudiate all that he had done, previously. He would not, so we had his name stricken from the class book records, at his own request.”
NARRATOR: “So, despite God warning him not to join any church, Joseph decided to join the Methodist Church. Either Joseph Smith was the stupidest prophet ever to be born, inconveniently forgot a direct order from God… or he made the whole thing up in the first place.”
JOSEPH SMITH: “I did not! I did see God and Jesus Christ! I did!”
NARRATOR: “Oh? How do you explain why you attempted to join the Methodist Church, then, Joseph?”
JOSEPH SMITH: “I don’t know. Maybe I forgot what God had told me. Look, it was a long time, eight years, so maybe I did forget what God had told me…”
NARRATOR: “You are a liar, Joseph Smith! You never even saw God or Jesus, did you?”
NARRATOR: Isn’t it true that you told Erastus Holmes that you received a visitation of Angels when you were 14 years old? So, how come you failed to mention that you saw God and Jesus Christ, to him?”
JOSEPH SMITH: “You don’t know what it was like at home! We had to bring in money for the family, but my farming skills were pitiful! I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps and use a scrying stone to see if I could have some success in digging for buried treasure or for water.”
NARRATOR: “What’s that got to do with anything to do with your so-called first vision?”
JOSEPH SMITH: “My father was a man of dreams and a man of visions. He’d have a damned dream or a vision at the drop of a hat! I wanted to impress him, show him I could be as good as him at having visions. Perhaps I went too far, I tried to impress him and I did, it has to be said.”
NARRATOR: “You claimed that the Book of Mormon was written on golden plates in a curious writing known as ‘Reformed Egyptian’. A written language which seems not to exist anywhere save on those plates.”
JOSEPH SMITH: “That is correct, sir.”
NARRATOR: “You claim they were translated by using the Urrim and Thummim, which you describe as some type of pair of giant spectacles, with crystal lenses, set in a bow. Is that true? Is that how you translated the Book of Mormon?”
JOSEPH SMITH: “If that is what I said sir, then that was how it occurred.”
NARRATOR: “Can you please explain his discrepancy in the description of the translation of the Book of Mormon by David Whitmer, one of your scribes?”
DAVID WHITMER: “I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English."
JOSEPH SMITH: “Oh, yes! I must have forgotten! Sometimes I would not use the Urim and Thummim to translate the Book of Mormon! Sometimes I would use the hat and my seer stone!”
NARRATOR: “The same seer stone you used when you were found guilty of fraudulently pretending to be able to find buried treasure?”
JOSEPH SMITH: “That case… it was never proved against me!”
NARRATOR: “Oh, yes it was, Joseph!”
JOSEPH SMITH: "Oh. I must have forgot..."
NARATOR: “Joseph, now, why don’t you tell us something about polygamy?”
JOSEPH SMITH: “I don’t know what you mean. I never practiced polygamy.”
WILLIAM LAW: “You are a liar, Joseph Smith! I, William Law, helped expose your dirty secret! Soon after my arrival in Nauvoo, the two Lawrence girls came to Nauvoo, they were very young girls, only 15 and 17 years of age. Like me, they were Canadians and they had been converted in Canada. They were orphans, and they were worth some $8,000 in English gold. A fortune in those days. Joseph managed to have himself appointed as their guardian. Emma Smith, Joseph’s wife, complained about Joseph living with those two girls, but I didn’t think complained violently. She would complain to me about Joseph’s escapades whenever she met me on the streets of Nauvoo.”

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