long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

a difference of opinion = enemies?

Yesterday I commented on a presentation by Ben Spackman at the FAIRLDS conference in 2019.

During his presentation Spackman quoted Brigham Young's colorful comment about the bag of cats. The original context looks a little more fundamentalist than Spackman acknowledged. Notice, for example, that our current crop of LDS apologists teach that Joseph Smith was a money digger, just as Brigham Young anticipated.

As we saw, Spackman perpetrated the false Interpreter narrative that "heartlanders" marry a geography model "with a right-wing constitutionalist politics, young Earth creationism, an authoritarian view of of prophets that is absolutely absolutist... and they claim that anyone who disagrees with them is apostate."

Although Spackman quoted Brigham Young, he apparently forgot to read the part where Brigham Young explained how he was happy to share a meal with people who disagreed with him.

Contrary to Spackman and his fellow Interpreters, I (like every Heartlander I know) is happy to treat everyone as a friend, and, with Brigham, we do "feel much better than if we suffered a difference of opinion to make us enemies."

When this Church first commenced, I used to say to the people, “If you do not like my preaching, when I do the best I can, I cannot help it, but if you will let us alone, and suffer us peaceably to enjoy our religion, we shall enjoy ourselves better together, as friends, neighbors, and citizens. 

If you will come to my house, I will give you your dinner and your supper, I will treat you hospitably, as one friend ought to treat another; and when I come into your neighborhood, do the same to me, for, in pursuing this course, we shall feel much better than if we suffered a difference of opinion to make us enemies. 

We've already seen that Mike Parker, Dan Peterson, and the other Interpreters thrive by making enemies over a difference of opinion, refusing to share a meal, etc. I've never met Ben Spackman, but I hope he differs from his fellow Interpreters at least to the extent he would be willing to follow Brigham's advice.

Maybe he would even publicly apologize for his contentious and false accusations about Heartlanders?


Brigham Young:

I will now say, not only to our delegate to Congress, but to the Elders who leave the body of the Church, that he thought that all the cats and kittens were let out of the bag when brother Pratt went back last fall, and published the Revelation concerning the plurality of wives: it was thought there was no other cat to let out. But allow me to tell you, Elders of Israel, and delegates to Congress, you may expect an eternity of cats, that have not yet escaped from the bag. Bless your souls, there is no end to them, for if there is not one thing, there will always be another.

Do you suppose that this people will ever see the day that they will rest in perfect security, in hopes of becoming like another people, nation, state, kingdom, or society? They never will. 

Christ and Satan never can be friends. Light and darkness will always remain opposites. The kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan will always remain two kingdoms; and so long as they are, you will find from time to time that the citizens of Satan’s kingdom will be telling you of cats that are ready to leap out of the bag, of something that is wonderful and alarming in its nature, as much so as the circumstance which brother Bernhisel touched at, which created a great excitement in Washington—that we had revolted from the parent Government, and hoisted the flag of our independence. I know how that report originated. The letter containing this startling intelligence, and purporting to have been received at California from this place, was written in Washington. After the originators had failed in their object, they supposed that nothing more would be said about it, but the whole of the United States believed the report to be true, and thought that all the citizens in Utah were rebels.

Do you understand the reason why such feelings exist against this people? Go to the United States, into Europe, or wherever you can come across men who have been in the midst of this people, and one will tell you that we are a poor, ignorant, deluded people; the next will tell you that we are the most industrious and intelligent people on the earth, and are destined to rise to eminence as a  nation, and spread, and continue to spread, until we revolutionize the whole earth. If you pass on to the third man, and inquire what he thinks of the “Mormons,” he will say they are fools, duped and led astray by Joe Smith, who was a knave, a false Prophet, and a money digger. 

Why is all this? 

It is because there is a spirit in man. And when the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached on the earth and the kingdom of God is established, there is also a spirit in these things, and an Almighty spirit too. When these two spirits come in contact one with the other, the spirit of the Gospel reflects light upon the spirit which God has placed in man, and wakes him up to a consciousness of his true state, which makes him afraid he will be condemned, for he perceives at once that “Mormonism” is true. 

“Our craft is in danger,” is the first thought that strikes the wicked and dishonest of mankind, when the light of truth shines upon them. Say they, “If these people called Latter-day Saints are correct in their views, the whole world must be wrong, and what will become of our time-honored institutions, and of our influence, which we have swayed successfully over the minds of the people for ages. This Mormonism must be put down.” So priestcraft presents a bold and extended front against the truth, and with this we have to contend, this is our deadliest foe.

Why should there be any more excitement when a public officer is chastised in Utah for publicly insulting a loyal people, than there would be if a similar occurrence transpired in Oregon, Minnesota, or any other territory? It is because we are Latter-day Saints. And let me tell you the Devil has put the whole world on the watch against us. It is impossible for us to make the least move without exciting, if not all the world, at least a considerable portion of it. They are excited at what we do, and, strange to relate, they are no less excited at what we do not do.

You will find that there will be cats and kittens leaping out of the bag continually. “What can come next I wonder!” I do not know; but this I know, the Lord Almighty will not suffer the Saints, neither the world, to slumber upon their oars. The time is past for them to fold their hands, and say, “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands.” 

This people will never see that day, for the Lord will keep them on the alert all the time; they will continually have something to contend with to keep them from dropping to sleep, and it is no matter to me as to what means He may use to do it.

Inasmuch as we send brother Bernhisel back to Washington, I say to him, Fear not their faces, nor their power, for we are perfectly prepared to take all the nations of the earth on our back; they are there already, and we will round up our shoulders, and bear up the ponderous weight, carry the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth, gather Israel, redeem Zion, and continue our operations until we bind Satan, and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ; and no power can hinder it.

I care not what may come, I will do the work the Lord has appointed unto me. You do the same, and fear not, for the Lord manages the helm of the ship of Zion; and on any other ship I do not wish to be. As I once said to Sidney Rigdon, our boat is an old snag boat, and has never been out of snag harbor, but it will root up the snags, run them down, split them up, and scatter them to the four winds. Our ship is the old ship of Zion. Nothing that runs foul of it can resist the shock and fire.

The hue and cry in the world about this people is—“What an awful set of people these Mormons are! Why,  they are a dreadful people!” What makes them so? “They are Mormons.” And that is all the people can say about the matter.

Do you know what it is that scares the world? 

As I have already said, it is the Spirit of the Lord that is placed in man, and the reflection of light from it upon his spirit wakes up the sensibilities in him, and creates conviction. That Spirit, with the Gospel of Christ, interrupts the whole world in their common career, in every capacity of life. That Spirit does not chime in and harmonize with any earthly kingdom or government, either in their political or religious institutions; but it seems to put a check upon everything, to throw into disorder the best laid plans of the wise and farseeing among men; in short, it turns the whole current of earthly calculations back upon the world, and deluges it in the dark waters of confusion.

As this kingdom of God grows, spreads, increases, and prospers in its course, it will cleanse, thoroughly purge, and purify the world from wickedness. He who supposes his house to be built upon a rock, and well calculated to withstand any test that may be applied to it, finds, when it is tried by the Gospel of the kingdom, that its foundation proves to be sand, and the whole fabric appears nothing in which a man may securely trust for salvation. One of the weakest of our Elders, I mean one of our boys, who is conversant with the Bible, is well qualified to instruct the learned priest, confound in Bible doctrine the greatest theologians upon the earth, and throw into confusion, and interrupt, and fill with contradictions and inconsistencies, their choicest theories.

Imagine to yourselves a learned doctor of divinity, securely surrounded with the bulwarks of his religious lore, pampered with the applause of thousands who hang on his skirts for religious instructions; he is satisfied that he knows and understands the Bible from the beginning to the end of it, and is capable of withstanding all creation upon Bible doctrine, and is as well skilled in theological researches as a man can be—imagine this great man sailing triumphantly over the sea of time, and the little unassuming bark, the boy, darts along, and strikes this proud hulk, this great, tremendous vessel, and pierces it through below the water mark; it begins to sink, and turns to make battle, but the little craft hits it on the keel and capsizes it, sinking it in shame and bitter disappointment. Such will be the fate of all who will oppose the truth.

The report of the Gospel of Jesus Christ terrifies the people, it goes forth with such gigantic strides. When this Church first commenced, I used to say to the people, “If you do not like my preaching, when I do the best I can, I cannot help it, but if you will let us alone, and suffer us peaceably to enjoy our religion, we shall enjoy ourselves better together, as friends, neighbors, and citizens. If you will come to my house, I will give you your dinner and your supper, I will treat you hospitably, as one friend ought to treat another; and when I come into your neighborhood, do the same to me, for, in pursuing this course, we shall feel much better than if we suffered a difference of opinion to make us enemies. I will tell you what we will do—we will preach the Gospel, and revolutionize the whole earth, that is, if you will let us alone, but if you persecute us, we will do it quicker.” This places the wicked in the same circumstances as the drunken man, who would fall down if he tried to stand, and fall if he tried to walk. So, if they will let us alone, we will evangelize the whole earth; and if they do not, we will do it the quicker.

How often, to all human appearance, has this kingdom been blotted out from the earth, but the Lord has put His hand over the people, and it has passed through, and come out two, three, and four times larger than before. Our enemies have kicked us and cuffed us, and driven us from pillar to post, and we have multiplied and increased the more, until we have become what we are this day, in possession of a territory with an appropriate government. 

Let them still continue to persecute us, and who cares? If they will let us alone, we will preach the Gospel to all nations, and gather Israel. If they continue to abuse us, we will overrun them entirely, until all shall be brought in subjection to the will of heaven.

Do not be afraid, whether you are at Washington or anywhere else, for we will progress. I say to brother Bernhisel and everybody else, Put your shoulders to the wheel, and do not go from this place with your hearts in your mouths, you that go to the nations, and be so faint that you have need to carry a bottle of camphor with you, but go like men of great hearts, and say, in the midst of your enemies—I stand here in the name of Him who sent me, and who has called me to defend the truth, which I am determined to do, whether I live or die.

God bless you all, brethren, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

(1850s1853, BY Where Wicked ¶16–29 • JD 1:188–JD 1:191)

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