Wednesday, March 05, 2008

a matter of interpretation

I started reading Bushman's Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling this weekend.


Because I want to torture myself?

Actually, it's more the fact that this is the book my devout relatives are reading about Smith, and I want to know what information and interpretations they are getting. You see, now I know I can make a comment about the peep stone in the hat as the translation process for the Book of Mormon, and not have them look at me like I've sprouted two heads, called Evil Apostate and Anti-Mormon Liar.

I've even found there are some gems in this book that I've never picked up before, like how Joseph borrowed Joseph Knight's wagon and horse the night he "found" the golden plates, but without Knight's knowledge or permission. Leaving Knight to believe his horse and wagon had been stolen by some rogue. Um, yep, they had.

Bushman has put quite a bit of information in there that would have been previously dismissed as Lies of the Devil and now needs to be accepted by believing Mormon readers as "Yep, as weird as it sounds, that's how it happened," which is a good thing. Like the peep stone in the hat, the treasure-seeking, and the multiple first vision accounts. Of course, Bushman suffuses the narrative with enough "But it's all okay; you can still believe" interpretations that Mormons won't have too much cognitive dissonance. His interpretations usually leave me annoyed, and his straw man Book of Mormon critics are dismissed much too easily. But then, his arguments make him look like he actually believes in a golden book that told an impossible history of the Americas. How quaint.


Anonymous said...

I think people who are afraid of the truth will always find a way to rationalize their beliefs.

Pardon my ignorance, but what does DAMU mean?

from the ashes said...

Welcome, intj-Mom. (I'm INTJ too.)

DAMU stands for the DisAffected Mormon Underground, and commonly refers to the online world of disaffected, non-believing, and ex-Mormons, especially blogs and message boards.

[kɹeɪ̯g̊] said...

I'm INFJ - so almost INTJ.

I like how one of the ways to pronounce "DAMU" is "damn you". It make me laugh.

from the ashes said...

Yes, it gives it that extra snarkiness, doesn't it, to pronounce it Damn You. (I pronounce it daw-moo myself.)

Anonymous said...

I usually pronounce is DAMN YOU, too - or else I MOO like a cow. Either works for me.

Off topic, but per your suggestion, I'm reading "The Golden Compass" and I am enthralled to the point that I will have the entire trilogy read by next Friday.

from the ashes said...

Sid- Great books, eh? Several people have read them after reading my recommendation...maybe I should demand some royalties. ;)

Stealth said...

You tilt with the windmills.

"Like the peep stone in the hat, the treasure-seeking, and the multiple first vision accounts"

Very, very old stuff that has been roundly defeated.

You could defeat Christ within the Bible itself with the same shallow thinking.

On what became Palm Sunday when Christ returned to Jerusalem (never to leave it as a mortal again), he directed a disciple to take a donkey from a certain individual for jesus to ride himself. Nowhere in the scriptures does it even hint that it was borrowed or taken with permission. And nowhere in the Bible is there any account of it being returned. Christ is a thief. OMG you would say, screaming the offense and new discovery across the web.