Of course my leaving the church was in large part finding out a tonne of bad stuff about Joseph Smith, the teenage brides, the many versions of the first vision, a lot of church history that has been whitewashed, and ultimately concluding it was of course just stuff that he invented.
I want to do some reading at some point that will explain the psychology and the intentions of joseph smith. Can anyone recommend something along these lines?
In the meantime...
I know a fair bit about what he did. But why did he do it? I mean, apart from the polygamy thing and sex. Why the choices he made? Why the endowment ceremony as it was, and not some other way? What were his intentions?
Was he a deluded narcissist drunk on power? Was it thoughtless self-serving crap that he made up as he went along and completely meaningless? It would be easy to assume that of course, but I still wonder.
Is there more to it than that? Did he believe his own lies? Was he insane - or extremely cunning?
What was he trying to DO, and to achieve, in the short term and the long term? Did he want to rule the world?
*Why did he design the church the way it is (was) and how did it tie into what his goals were? Was he thinking beyond his own death?
“Why did he design the church the way it is (was) and how did it tie into what his goals were? Was he thinking beyond his own death?”
He pretty much made it up as he went along. Like most of his early life efforts, he just hoped to make some money from the BoM. When people started to think he was a “prophet,” he liked the idea and ran with it. People adored him, and I believe that he saw his “holy” calling as an easy way to get money and women (and young girls).
I doubt he gave much thought about what would happen after his death.
My perception of Joseph Smith gradually transformed from “prophet of god” to “conman who couldn’t keep his story straight.” I stumbled along a lot of damning information along the way. If I were to recommend one book that I have read, it would be “No Man Knows My History” by Fawn Brodie.
We have to understand the time he lived. New England had less than 200 years of history since the first religious fanatics showed up in 1620. They took the bible really really seriously which is one of the main reasons these folks came here from England in the first place. They were refugees looking for a new Utopia, from the old world, They didn't get along with the nations they came from.
Joe believed the bible and searched it top to bottom for all the peculiar traditions that were once lived. Polygamy is straight from Genesis. The Temple ritual template comes from the promises to Abraham Isaac and Jacob in Genesis. His intentions were that he didn't think that it would go wrong. He didn't think it through well. When things did go wrong he blamed someone else because of it. More than once Sidney Rigdon was the scapegoat, who for whatever reason didn't leave and kept taking the abuse? Mormon Apostles were always fighting, but the strange thing is that so many came back. It's all very strange.
MacaRomney, there is absolutely nothing in the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that indicates the building of a temple or the inception of temple rituals. Taking the Bible at face value, they were pastoralists with no fixed abode and no sense that one was necessary.
Fawn Brodie's "No Man Knows my History" remains the seminal work; I've read many of the others including "Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith," and I have enough of a mental health background to have formed some reasonable conclusions involving pathological narcissism that I'm comfortable with.
Narcissists are often prone to various addictions, and in JS's case, his behavior clearly points to a sexual addiction, and there's an obvious grandiosity that drove him to manipulate his followers.
I had to look a bit because my original links to this article aren't working anymore, but here's an interview with William Law, an early Mormon who became JS's second counselor.
Thank you, I will get hold of this book. I know a lot about narcissism too, so it will be an interesting read.
It’s quite interesting to think that he made it up as he went along, with the OT as a rough guide. I suspect the reason it lasted after his death and onwards was that people with similar traits took over from him. I mean Brigham Young was obviously quite evil, right?
It is curious that it has lasted (and for many years, flourished). Perhaps Smith’s death actually helped perpetuate the LDS church. His followers saw him as a martyr, so they felt an obligation to continue his work.
My God, LW, you must be really old or have an efficient internet connection. I haven't thought about that album for at least 40 years! Google showed me the cover art and took me straight back to the day that my friend lent it to me.
I still can't remember any of the music on it though.
He was a Mason and much of his ideas for the temple ceremonies were things he'd stolen from them. They weren't thrilled with him for that reason. Some people just like pomp and ceremony and rituals.
I've read a few accounts of what he was like as a person and I do see him as a very narcissistic person.
You can read these books on-line: Wife No. 19, by Ann Eliza Young, who was married at one time to Brigham Young and Tell it All: A Woman's Life in Polygamy, by Fanny Stenhouse.
They give a really good description of what it was like to live in the early days of the Church. They left me quite shocked to know that a lot of the dark things that Church leaders had called rumours to me, had actually happened.
BY really was a horrible person; a tyrant that ruled with an iron fist. "Blood of the Prophets" is an excellent book; reading it helped me to finalize my decision to resign from TSCC. Not only did JS have a couple of his trusted men try to sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon, he also created a Wildcat Bank; aka: Kirtland Safety Society Anti Banking Company. Details about it are in No Man Knows My History. When someone wanted to see if there were gold or silver to back up the paper money being printed, JS took them to the back and showed them a chest that had what appeared to be a lot of silver and gold coins. What he had done beforehand, though, was to have the chest filled with sand and rocks and had a single layer of coins on top to give the illusion of a full to the brim treasure. He made sure than no one ever closely examined it.
I don't know of any books that answer the big WHY of Joseph. They would all be conjecture anyway, so here's mine:
He did it because he could. It was his talent.
You can argue nurture over nature if you choose, but you can't rule nature out. Everyone is born with their own set of genes and a propensity for a personality type. Your environment and the way you are raised may hone the natural self a bit, but it's pretty damn hard to fight your genes--both those that control the physical and the mental and the emotional.
Lucy Mack Smith bragged about Joseph's gift for story telling from a very young age. He was very imaginative and extremely creative. Those two traits need not be based on reason or morality. They do require intellect which he had.
Lucy's words: "During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of travelings, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them."
Joseph had no great plan. He wasn't clever in that way. He made it up as he went along. He bit off more than he could chew and then he chewed it anyway. His fertile mind honed into everything around him and utilized it. Any author does this. Every thing you read, every thing you notice about human interactions, names on a map, history, anything at all, stays in the library of your mind and is exhumed when it becomes useful to write a book, or, even start a cult following.
So this creative mind could have been used for good or evil. But Joseph chose neither. He just used it for his own purpose as he went along.
So why did he do what he did? Why not? Who doesn't take the easy way out, the fun way out, if they can? Who doesn't want the free prize and the high life? Joey didn't want to be another farmer or have some mind numbing job. He wanted easy luxury. That is why the glass looking became attractive as his first option. Didn't work though, so, what's next?
Charisma. That was what was next. He was exceptionally charming, naturally. He was the sort you like even if you don't want to. The bad boy. Men and women alike were drawn to him because he presented himself as a winner. That is intoxicating for those who didn't have his gifts. We like people for what they bring to the party and Joseph was the host, the entertainment, and the spark that made you want to stay til dawn. And he had sexual magnetism. You hang with those types because you want to share in what they have.
Joe realized he could get whatever he wanted just by being him and the more he flexed his ego, the more it grew. The more of a winner he seemed and the more anything that he wanted fell into his hands. But again, he was always just flying by the seat of his pants and looking for the next ego boost "fix." But sooner or later, the talent to be Joseph Smith could not be enough because he did not understand that you can only rob Peter to pay Paul for so long before Peter comes after your ass.
He didn't design or plan or even design a church. He copied, borrowed, and took advantage. And his ace was always coming up with a plan B when things went South. The last plan B---calling out the Masonic distress signal--doubled as his Swan Song.
I would say Fawn Brodie's book "No Man Knows My History" gives a better insight into Joseph than anything else. His documented actions give the best glimpse into reading what is underneath them----which is unfortunate for the Mormon church members who have to twist their minds all sorts of ways to give ole Joe a pass on said actions.
"You can argue nurture over nature if you choose, but you can't rule nature out. Everyone is born with their own set of genes and a propensity for a personality type. Your environment and the way you are raised may hone the natural self a bit, but it's pretty damn hard to fight your genes--both those that control the physical and the mental and the emotional."
I agree with this take from Done and Done. I too think being a con-man, imaginative, story teller, narcissism - all in his DNA. However, I do think he chose evil over good. He was in to power over women and wanted to exploit as many as he could. He craved power, money, finer things - and avoided manual labor. Yeah I think he was very likeable, as many con men are. There is this guy at the gym where I work out that reminds me of what Horney Joe was probably like. He's a good looking guy, very charismatic, can start a conversation with anyone, speaks to everyone there...everyone loves him. Very very extroverted, confident, poised, etc. Guess what his profession is? A car salesman. Horney Joe was a salesman.
I personally think Joseph Smith's record left enough tracks that show he often and purposely chose action that took advantage, stepped on, lied about, raped, robbed and kicked people when they were down and that he definitely did not care.
Just his inventory alone of "convenient" prophecies speaks volumes about who (him) benefited from these concoctions. Sure, he was gifted with amazing genes...his looks, his intelligence, his charisma....but to what end did he use these?
My answer, my take, on how he used these gifts was for himself. His power, his position, his wants and desires were always foremost in his mind, and if it took evil to get him these things he did not care in the least.
The author may not attempt to explain what he was thinking or why he did the things he did, but it is an amazing & well-documented list of a lot of the things he did and said. (How's that for a run-on sentence?)
The book is very revealing about his character, as well as some of the other's. (Brigham Young, Heber C Kimball, etc.)
I agree. I don't think Joseph Smith was good looking at all either. One might though if they had only seen the Mormon generated depictions of him as a blonde blue eyed little brother of their super hot Surfer Jesus.
Charisma and sex appeal though can be had without having chiseled jaw and high cheekbones. In many cases 90% of appeal is raging confidence and sparkly eyes. One can go a long way by never apologizing, blaming everyone or everything else for mistakes, and just "going for it" with elan no matter what.