War hero, that is.......major league baseball star.
Wal the first thang ya know ol' Paul is OUTTA THAR!
The church dudes said "Get yer butt of Temple Square!
A Seventy Emeritus is what you oughtta be,
Re-thinkin' n re-writin' yore pers'nal historee!"
Buck private, that is......minor league washout.
And now it's time to say goodbye to this "authority,"
Ol' Paul has gone and left us for the spirit world, you see.
He'll preach the gospel there for all those dead guys to believe,
So they can be good Mormons, too, for all eternitee.
Gods and goddesses, that is.......eternal propagators.
Good-bye, Paul. You've been fun. Hope your new book sells well.
Before I put the story about Emma on, I'd like to comment about a couple of things that Bruce said. Yes, since the mid 1980's we have been ordaining women into the priesthood [in the RLDS church]--we believe that God gave our functioning prophet the word to do that, and we have been richly blessed from it. We have women in all of the quorums except the twelve and the first presidency--we have two women high priests on the standing high council. I expect some day to see a woman apostle, a woman counselor to the first president, or a woman president of the church. The women on the group will recognize there are times when a woman needs another woman to talk to, and our women priesthood fill that role very nicely.
About our acceptance in Missouri: early in the Reorganization, when Joseph III became the president of the church, he warned about "gathering"--his advice was to live quietly in the community, and make a difference there. We did not start moving into Missouri until the late 1800's and did not establish our headquarters here until the early 1900's (and even then, we did not flock to Independence). I don't think we were ever seen as a threat to the local residents.
This is what I wrote to Bruce some time ago:
I owe you a short history of Emma's activities between 1844 and 1860, as I promised, and I think this might be a good time to do it. But, before I do that, I'd like to comment that most of the history that I've read about the Nauvoo period from say about 1842-1847 has been self-serving. The LDS write from their point of view, and the RLDS write from our point of view. One of the books that I like best is a recent purchase called "Joseph Smith III, Pragmatic Prophet" written by Roger Launius, PhD, who is a professional historian for the USAF. Although Dr. Launius is RLDS, I don't think he is biased (for example, he reports that Joseph Jr did practice polygamy to some degree).
After the death of Joseph Jr, Emma went to the court and had herself appointed guardian of her children, and also the administratrix of Joseph's estate. Brigham was extremely upset over the latter, because much of Joseph's estate was tied up with the property of the church, and he finally had that decision overturned (since Emma could not come up with bond, Joseph Coolidge was appointed as administrator). They sold $1000.00 worth of the estate to pay for the funeral and administration costs. Coolidge, in settling the estate, awarded Emma their household goods, two horses, two cows, Emma's spinning wheel, and $124 per year in income from rental property. Coolidge left the state before the estate was completely settled and even took some of the estate's money. Launius reports that Joseph and Emma had deeded some of their property to the children before an 1842 bankruptcy filing, and Emma was able to save this property.
Another instance of conflict between Emma and Brigham arose over the posting of a guard outside Emma's home to spy on their activities--the guard reported all of the visitors and what everyone was doing, etc--Joseph III believed that this was nothing less than "house arrest." The tension increased as there were incidents of the Smith friends being attacked when they attempted to visit Nauvoo Mansion.
The tensions and outright hostility grew so great that Emma was finally convinced that she should move her family out of Nauvoo. So on Sept 12, 1846 she boarded a tramp steamer with her family, and moved upriver 120 miles to Fulton City, Illinois (and rented Nauvoo Mansion to a recent settler).
While living in Fulton City, several different people approached Emma, hoping to get he to join their movement, knowing that Joseph III would be then brought into their organizations. All seemed to believe that Joseph III had been blessed by Joseph Jr as the next prophet of the church (there is pretty reliable evidence that that blessing had occurred on two occasions). In any case, Emma tried to create a Christian home for her children, and raise them an "un-Mormon."
Then in Februrary of 1847, Emma learned that the man she had rented Nauvoo Mansion to was planning to take off with all of the furnishings of the house before Emma could find out about it--she quickly packed up their belongings into a wagon and took the children down river and caught the fellow before he got away--she threw him out and reopened Nauvoo Mansion under her own management.
Emma accepted the courting of Lewis Bidamon, a non-mormon, and they were married in December 1847. According to Launius, this really upset the Mormons since it assured that Emma would NEVER associate with the church. Mr. Bidamon then became the step-father of Joseph and Emma's children, and he took that job seriously, although there was no formal religious affilation at this time.
So, Emma did not join any religious organization until 1860, when she went with Joseph III to affiliate with the RLDS organization, and she was accepted into the church on her original baptism. The RLDS church took the position that the church had been disorganized due to the breakup and scattering of the Saints in all directions (even though the largest group went to Utah, that group did not contain the majority of the membership of the church). Then, by reorganizing the church, they claimed the authority and special commission of the original church. And, of course, having Joseph III show up, seemed to substantiate their claim. That, in a nutshell, is the history of Emma from 1844 to 1860. If anyone is interested in studying the history of this period, I think Launius gives a fair and honest evaluation of mormonish during those years. His book is published by the University of Illinois Press.
I hope this will be helpful to anyone interested.
This letter is the result of my "Great Sin." The bishop invited me to his office at the church but I refused. In the alternative I invited the bishop to my apartment, so that I was on my own turf. I had told the bishop at our meeting that I was feeling quite unrepentant. The appended letter is the result.
I scanned this letter but I have deleted my address, the bishop's name, and I have highlighted (by capitalization) the part about the Internet. This reference is directly related to this group and the other anti-Mormon web sites on the WWW. I had shown the bishop some jokes about BYU et al. I got the distinct impression that the Internet is a concern to him. I also remember that the SP, in one of the last stake conferences that I attended, made reference to the Internet from the pulpit as it applied to some people leaving the stake. He felt sorry for them as they had seemed to have lost all their faith. Then he bore his testimony.
THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST
OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
.... FIRST WARD
Mr. Terrence ...
Dear Brother ..
I appreciated the opportunity we had to speak last week. Whenever I am in your presence I feel just a little better for the experience. Notwithstanding, the trials and tribulations you encounter in your life, you are a great man and add immensely to our Ward.
As I mentioned, I wished to ponder your circumstances in order that I may better decide the best alternative. I have done this and I conclude due to the seriousness of your actions, it is appropriate that you be placed on probation for the period of 12 months.
During that time I would ask you to do the following:
- Read the scriptures on a daily basis.
- Pray every morning and evening.
- Attend to your church callings including the development of a Stake directory.
- Be a diligent Home Teacher.
- Attend all your meetings, including Stake meetings.
- Be active and involved in the Single Adult Program.
- Arrange to speak with Brother . . . .
- Partake of the Sacrament.
- Serve others.
- Meet with me on a monthly basis.
- AVOID THE PRESENCE OF EVIL INCLUDING THE INTERNET (My Emphasis Added)
- Don't give up, endure to the end.
I pray you will be successful and we will not have to proceed further with this matter.
Signed by the bishop
To proceed to the next step of my life, my parents, with probably the best of intentions for my eternal salvation, sent me off to college at BYU. DO NOT GO THERE if you are not completely sure of your belief in the LDS church. Nothing will sway you more than seeing up close the mind numbing conformity of 30,000 Mormons. While in my classes there, I met people who thought nothing of ridiculing their poorer and less expensively dressed classmates, who made fun of members of other religions and political systems. I met many people who did not understand what they believed in, yet believed that others were automatically condemned to the "terrestrial kingdom." To make a long story short, I got in trouble while home for the summer, ran off with an alcoholic-drug addict from my home town in Southern Idaho, got pregnant, had to get married, and was a source of pain & hardship to my parents & family. After I had my child, I changed my entire life. I quit smoking, drinking, & doing drugs. I tried to become a responsible citizen through employment & education. I also tried attending church, but I also knew that everyone there felt sorry for me because I was attending church without my husband, and did not have the priesthood in my home. Before too long, I divorced the alcoholic and found myself a single mother, working full time. What does the Mormon church have to offer a single, working mother? Very little. Relief Society is largely a social club for affluent, stay-at-home women, who have the time & resources to prepare crafts, tole-painting, quilt making & bread baking. I had always suspected that it was not essential to my eternal salvation that I be able to make pencil holders out of soup cans. During my single years, I worked for another company owned by LDS people. My immediate supervisor, the controller of the company, was in the Bishopric of his ward. He also found ways to have the corporation pay his personal expenses, and found ways to unethically reduce his income taxes. At this same corporation, I worked with a Stake President who thought nothing of ridiculing his employees who were not Mormons. Now I know someone is going to read this & think "Well those men are just human. It is the gospel that must be listened to, not necessarily the actions of the members." Well, that is fine & good, if it can be admitted that these men were not acting on orders from God, that they were simply chosen for their church callings because someone had to fill a certain slot, and that their employment offered them the time and resources needed for a church calling. No one in the church hierarch received revelation as to whether or not they were appropriate or prepared for the responsibility of their calling.
To continue this rather convoluted story, I have been trying off & on for the last 7-8 years, since becoming a parent & adult, to attend church & to get closer to God. I have tried going to the LDS church, but I have always realized that I had to accept that polygamy was intended to "raise seed" for the growth of the church. I would have to accept that black people were somehow not ready for the priesthood. I would have to accept the fact that I would never make it to the Celestial Kingdom because I remarried a man who was not LDS, and was never going to join the Church. I would have to accept the fact that only LDS church members may receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. I am aware that the LDS church is not a democracy, and that what is passed down as doctrine from the First Presidency is the way it is. Now if this doctrine were to never change, from 1830 to 1997, I might find this a little more palatable. It wasn't until I found some distance from the church, as an inactive member trying to find her way back to organized religion, that I discovered that many things have been subtly altered, and the changes were never explained to me during all my years of Seminary and Sunday School. In fact, after reading some of the letters on this Web site, I realized that I was never going to explain to myself all the discrepancies in the LDS Church. And as much as I wanted to go to church, and worship Jesus Christ, I could not do that at the LDS church unless I committed myself to everything I could not understand. It would be hypocritical of me to simply push those doubts under the mat, and keep attending. I have finally realized that marriage in the temple will do nothing for me in heaven. I do know it is vital to view marriage as a sacred commitment. I do not have to accept the Word of Wisdom as a divine revelation. I do realize that drunkenness is un-Christian & immoral. I know from personal experience that chastity before marriage is essential to my happiness. Any good Christian, Muslim, Jew is also aware of this fact. There are many other points about the LDS church that ring false because they require a meaningless ritual to make it to heaven, always backed by the codicil that one must live righteously.
To wrap up this personal confession, I would like to make several important points. I have had learned some important lessons or beliefs while attending the LDS church. Those lessons included study of the Old & New Testament, the life of the Saviour, and appreciation of my ancestors, and the family relationship. I am grateful that out of all this confusion I have a very solid belief that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins & the sins of the world. Every good thing I learned in the LDS church was that which was centered around Jesus Christ and the Bible. I have occassionally heard some inspiring talks in church on the nature of the Atonement, and the words of the original Apostles. I would suspect that it is Sacrament meetings like these that keep many LDS members going. It had me confused for quite a while. How could a church which professes the divine nature of Christ, be so conflicted on other issues? The real problem is not the wacky writing of Brigham Young, or the lack of archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon. The problem is that as a true believer, a potential candidate for the Celestial Kingdom, one must believe it ALL. There is little room for debate or speculation. This was the real problem I faced growing up in the Church. I know there are "good" Mormons who will read this and assume I lost my religion because I committed moral transgressions, I was offended by my former employers or other church members, or I simply did not read and pray about the Scriptures. Believe me, I used to think I had the problem too. But the great thing about realizing the church is simply a church of men, is that I am now free to worship God. I can attend a different church! If I disagree with some minor points, I can accept that I am disagreeing with human beings, and that there is room for friendly debate or discussion. The Bible will always be there to consult & pray about. I realize that the Bible has been through many translations & some alterations. It is almost comforting to accept the fact that man does not have all the answers. But I am free to read, think & pray about what truth may be.
I will wrap up this confession by thanking my parents for raising me to be a good Christian. My dad, the former bishop, told me that I had to think for myself about whether or not the LDS church is true. I have always known that both my parents are good people, of the highest moral quality, and are good Christians. I must also thank my great-great grandparents who had enough courage of their convictions, to get on a boat & leave their country (England, Denmark,etc) to come all the way to Utah, of all places. I hope that some day I will be closer to God.
Some friends of ours did some research and found this information:
Gold weighs two and one half times more than regular tin. Gold weighs 1203.625 pounds per cubic foot, or 1728 cubic inches. So 6x8x6 eguals 288 cubic inches, or one-sixth of a cubic foot, and must have weighes some 200 pounds or more.
They told us they actually went and put together a set of plates out of tin and could not lift it off the ground.
Old Joe must have really been workin' out in his spare time. If he'd only been around for the Olympics.......what great PR for the church in 2002!
I'm just sick enough to get a set of lead plates made, spray them gold and dolly them over to temple square and deposit them in front of the temple. A nice engraving on the top saying "and we hefted them with our hands" might be appropriate.
Can you just see the poor security guys trying to pick up a 6 inch by 8 inch block off the ground that weighs 200 lbs. Now lifting 200 lbs isn't a superhuman feat of strength mind you, but without a handle it would be a VERY difficult task. And the only way Joseph could have run through the woods with them for two miles is if he were carrying the spiritual version of the plates with him. Imagine the disappointment of his pursuers if they caught him and wrested the plates from him, only to find they were the spiritual plates and couldnt be melted down. Spiritual gold isn't worth a damn.
If it were possible for the Latter-day Saint to think in terms other than "them against us," he might realize that many former Mormons are in part attacking themselves; at least this is true in my case. If I attack anyone, it is foremost myself for having once subscribed to such a ridiculous theology. I attack myself for once having used emotion and desire instead of reason to discern truth. I attack myself for once not having--or for not wanting to have--the insight to ask the missionaries questions relative to what I have posted on this web site. If I knew then what I know now about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I would obviously never have joined.
Former Mormons who remain vocal and/or post information on the Internet are perhaps figuratively exorcising demons as part of their recovery process. They also realize that they are helping others in the same predicament. Mormonism is not something you can just get up and walk away from or turn off like a light switch. It is an experience that has left permanent scars on many. Can a person who has been raped "leave it alone and get on with life?" Many former Mormons believe they have been intellectually and spiritually raped either as a result of their own actions (converting) or the actions of the Church. A Mormon cannot understand this. He only sees it as proof that his religion is right because it is attacked: rationalization in its most simplistic form and a symptom of cultic mentality.
Here it is that the religion of Deism is superior to the Christian Religion. It is free from all those invented and torturing articles that shock our reason or injure our humanity, and with which the Christian religion abounds. Its creed is pure, and sublimely simple. It believes in God, and there it rests.
It honors reason as the choicest gift of God to man, and the faculty by which he is enabled to contemplate the power, wisdom and goodness of the Creator displayed in the creation; and reposing itself on His protection, both here and hereafter, it avoids all presumptuous beliefs, and rejects, as the fabulous inventions of men, all books pretending to revelation. " -Thomas Paine
The full text of this article is available here:
*Much* more about Paine and other freethinking writers, both historical and
modern, is available here:
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