The Joseph Smith Enigma: Magic and the Mind

seer-stone-with-bagThere it is. The now famous “chocolate” seer stone, that, earlier this month, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought forth from one of its proverbial closets, explaining, via an Ensign article, that Joseph Smith used this stone in the translation of the gold plates. When this stone was dropped on a mostly unsuspecting public, a dust cloud of protest arose because of the disparity between the way the official Church had, to date, portrayed the translation of the Book of Mormon and reality. As the dust settled, it drew attention to the often-ignored path of early American folk magic which carried Joseph Smith toward his religious epiphanies. Some used this opportunity to decry Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon as de facto frauds. Joseph Smith, they argue, believed in folk magic; folk magic isn’t true; therefore, Joseph Smith is not a true prophet of God. Close the book. Walk away. But, for me, it’s not that simple. Continue reading “The Joseph Smith Enigma: Magic and the Mind”

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Ponderize and Priestcraft: Scandal, Mormon-style

Ponderize meme

The October 2015 General Conference brought us many uplifting talks, peppered with a touch of scandal, Mormon-style. Scandal 1: Three White Guys from Utah were tapped as replacement apostles for Three White Guys from Utah. (Canyoubelieveit?)  Scandal 2: “Ponderize” becomes the New Priestcraft, thanks to the Durrant family. Three White Guys is certainly discussion-worthy, and I’ll probably get to that, but, oh my holy heck: “ponderize?” I’ve been flipping like a fish out of water since I first heard the “word.” Continue reading “Ponderize and Priestcraft: Scandal, Mormon-style”