Saturday, December 28, 2013

Problems in exemplary Event Analysis

In his book History of Mormonism (1834), E. D. Howe reports the following deposition of Abigail Harris, regarding a conversation she had with Lucy Smith (née Mack), mother of prophet Joseph Smith Jr, probably in the Summer of 1828, right after Joseph and Emma's first child was still-born (though this is not evident from the deposition).
The old lady [i.e. Lucy Smith, RCK] took me into another room [of Martin Harris' house, where the Smiths and Abigail Harris were visiting, RCK], and after closing the door, she said, "have you four or five dollars in money that you can lend until our business [i.e. the publication of the Book of Mormon, which the Smith Srs expected to be a money maker, RCK] is brought to a close ? the spirit has said that you shall receive four fold." I told her that when I gave, I did it not expecting to receive again---as for money I had none to lend. I then asked her what her particular want of money was ; to which she replied, "Joseph [Smith Jr, RCK] wants to take the stage and come home [to Manchester/Palmyra, RCK] from [Harmony, RCK] Pennsylvania to see what we are all about." To which I replied, he might look in his stone and save his time and money. The old lady seemed confused, and left the room, and thus ended the visit. [p.254]
We are not concerned here whether this event happened or not, and whether some of the presuppositions that the deposition makes---e.g. that the Smiths were expecting to make money with the Book of Mormon---are true or not. We merely assume that the story is understandable to its contemporaries, i.e. exhibits habitual stances and behaviors.

If this is so, then there are aspects to this event that we in the 21st century still can readily understand.

  • Since Lucy wants to talk with Abigail in private, they go into another room (even though it is in someone else's house) and close the door; both actions minimize eavesdropping.
  • Since Lucy wants to talk with Abigail about borrowing money, it is appropriate for her to want privacy.
  • Lucy wants to borrow money until the expected arrival time of a successful business venture.
  • Lucy wants to sweeten the deal with the promise of 400% of interest.
  • Abigail rejects the notion of lending on interest.
  • Abigail has no money to borrow.
  • If rejecting a lending request, it is appropriate to see if the underlying problem that caused the request can be resolved in some other fashion.
  • People want to know how their families are doing by visiting with them.
  • Mothers want their sons to come visit.
  • The stage coach from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to Manchester/Palmyra, New York, cost around four to five dollars.
  • An unnecessary trip is wasteful in terms of time and money.
  • Seers are supposed to be able to see other information than mere mortals.
Some things we simply do not know from this information.
  1. Was four to five dollars a lot of money in general in 1828?
  2. Was it reasonable to ask for support for a stage coach trip, or where there cheaper alternate modes of travel that would have been better to ask to support?
  3. How much of the money would have gone to the fare? Where there other expenses that Smith Jr would have been expected to pay from this money (thus lowering the part allocated for the coach), e.g. dinner at an inn along the way, etc? 
  4. When could Smith Jr pay for the stage coach trip? How was he supposed to get the money if he had to pay up front? Was it possible to pay upon his arrival in Manchester/Palmyra, NY, or to pay with a promissory note realized at arrival time?
  5. Is the refusal to accept 400% interest a general aversion to usury, possibly even on religious grounds, or part of the strategy for rejecting this particular lending request?
  6. How is Abigail's comment about the seer stone to be interpreted? Was she going for levity or wit? Was she insulted by the request and responded in a way that expressed her discomfort? Notice that Lucy Smith seemed confused about how to take it as well, but her leaving the room could suggest that she felt mocked.
Questions #1 to #4 have to do with a general lack of knowledge about the times of 1828. Research into general information about prices in 1828 for question #1 and travel modalities and procedures for #2 through #4 would allow us to understand those part better. 
Question #5 requires information about moral attitudes, and religious discourse about these attitudes, to make progress on. Question #6 requires more biographical information about Abigail, though some knowledge about acceptable attitudes could be helpful as well.

Mayflower related sources

There is a good list of sources related to the "Mayflower" at the "Primary Sources and Books" link on the Mayflower History website.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Rapp, Harmony and Smith

The town of Harmony, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1804 by the Harmonists movement, whose acknowledged leader was Georg Rapp. 

The Harmonists were celibate, disavowed all tobacco, lived as a commune, and were preparing for the 2nd coming of Christ. Rapp was taken to be in constant communication with the Divine. 

The Harmonists stayed in Pennsylvania until the lack of space for expansion and the bad climate for growing wine made them decide to head for Indiana; they sold their community to a Mennonite by 1814 or 1815. 

In 1825, Joseph Smith Jr met his future wife Emma Hale there, when he boarded with her father Isaac. In December 1827 they moved from Manchester, New York, to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to claim some of Emma's possession and work a farm near their in-laws.

John Clark's reflection from Upstate New York

This one Google books contains John A. Clark's Gleanings by the Way, published in Philadelphia in 1842, but one has to read it online. However, Gutenberg has a copy, and BYU offers a PDF.

The Rev. John A. Clark was the rector of St. Andrews church in Philadelphia, but had traveled in Upstate New York and Pennsylvania, including the Susquehanna valley.
Clark covers the Golden Bible story starting with Chapter 22, p.216 to the end of the book.
Clark is also awesome because he contains notes about Mormon banking in Chapter 31.

Maximillian von Wied as fellow traveller

Thanks to the Google book search features, I was able to procure a travel description of the interior US of A for the important years of 1832-1834, when Prinz Maximilian von Wied-Neuwied crossed through the continent and wrote a 500+ page travel description description. This should help flesh out some of the travel descriptions that I have gathered so far form the primary documents.

I was actually looking for Kennedy's "Early Days of Mormonism" (1888) and Linn's "The Story of the Mormons" (1902), both available at the Salomon Spalding info website, but neither of these are scanned in Google books.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Toward the Spalding Enigma

Spent some time this morning looking into the clues of the Spalding Enigma, when I finally got into that section of the Howe story -- who first published the materials on Spalding and Rigdon.

The Wikipedia article seems oddly biased toward the apologetic LDS position.

Broadhurst's website has a reconstruction that lacks the footnotes (sigh) but makes sense as a narrative, if the omissions from the official LDS history that they record are indeed correct. Specifically, the claim is that Smith and Cowdery met before 1827 (in 1822) and that Rigdon knew Spalding and his work and was instrumental in the publication of the Book of Mormon, faking a conversion experience when Pratt and Cowdery came to missionize.

A separate group of guys that are friends of Broadhurst and did a lot of the legwork of the Spalding-Rigdon theory wrote a book about the enigma in 2005; the have a website for their efforts.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Revelation as Unencrypted Communication

I think there is a nice way of reconstructing Fichte's argument for the Critique of all Revelation in a mode that uses just modern communication channels and cryptology.

Basically, we have a communication channel between God and some believer, say Joseph. We also have the Devil, who is the adversary and has all the advantages that adversaries have in cryptological setups, i.e. unlimited access to prior communications, channels, etc. Notice that due to the spiritual speed at which both God and the Devil can work (Boolos 1974), the usual mathematical "trapdoor" ciphers that humans use are pointless, because spiritual entities can bring arbitrary amounts of brute force to bear on cracking the cipher.

God is trying to send Joseph a message. The Devil can intercept and substitute part or all of the message. Joseph needs to be able to determine whether the message is from God or the Devil. Since the structure of the message can be forged, the determination has to be by the contents.

The clearest choice is to say something already known. By repeating something that God has already said, Fichte basically argues, Joseph can be convinced of the authenticity of the contents. Even if the Devil repeats something God has already said, the Devil has technically ursurped the channel, but made no progress in misleading Joseph.

Notice that it is insufficient to prefix new contents with known contents; the Devil can trivially do that as well (e.g. "God created Heaven and Earth. Kick ten puppies a day").

This means that for any true believer, all revelation is already over. For Fichte this was no problem, because he was convinced that all the properties of God that mattered, esp. the moral doctrine, could be deduced logically as natural religion anyway. For revelatory religions like Mormonism, this is a big issue; there is no way at all to provide the day-to-day guidance of the type found in Doctrines and Covenants. None of them are above the suspicion that they could be substitutions of the Devil.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

E. D. Howe unveiling Mormonism (Part 3)

Howe then proceeds to quote at length the letters of former Mormon elder Ezra Booth, formerly a Methodist clergymen, who wrote about his move to Missouri (p.175b).

Ezra Booth's Letters (p.175b-p.221)

Introductory Letter

Booth begins his process of disenchantment with the arrival in Western Missouri.
On our arrival in the western part of the State of Missouri | (p.177) the place of our destination, we discovered that prophecy and vision had failed, or rather had proved false (p.176f).
This disenchantment was even present in the upper echelons of the Mormon hierarchy.
The fact was so notorious, and the evidence so clear, that no one could mistake it -- so much so, that Mr. Rigdon himself said that "Joseph's vision was a bad thing." (p.177)
Booth claims that he followed up his investigations with discussions with Rigdon and Cowdery which only deepened in his mind the impression that there was massive deception on foot.

Booth commences by pointing out that Smith Jr abuses his prophesying spirit to settle matters that have no spiritual aspect, such as whether a bucket of water gains weight by putting in a fish.

The massive deception has one key point
the establishment of a society in Missouri, over which the contrivers of this delusive system, are to possess unlimited and despotic sway. (p.178)  

Second Letter

For the benefits of others, who could or have been misled as Booth has been, Booth commences in the second letter to
... as far as I have ability, unfold a system of darkness, fraught with glaring absurdity, and deceptive as falsehood itself. (p.179)
Booth then sketches the apocalyptic stance of the Mormons, with their expectations of the Second Coming, the pouring out of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the Esther-like expectation of avenging themselves against their enemies and taking their riches (p.180). Booth comments on the lack of success of the display of apocalyptic powers, esp. in the healing arts. The flock keeps failing the shepherd.
In the commandment given to the churches in the State of New York, to remove to the State of Ohio, they were assured that these miracles should be wrought in the State of Ohio; but now they must be deferred until they are settled in Missouri. (p.181)
Booth then sketches the cardinal role of these continued commandments within the Church, and the authority they have within the apocalyptic assumption of corruption:
When they [i.e. Joseph Smith Jr.'s prophetic commandments] and the Scriptures are at variance, the Scriptures are wrongly translated; and Smith, though totally ignorant of the original, being a translator or an alterator, can easily harmonize them. (p.181)
The commandments can be as mundane as giving Smith Jr a house or a thousand dollars, in Booth's reconstruction (p.182). Smith either originates all revelations, or judges the origin of a revelation as either divine or devilish that others receive (p.182), thus preserving exclusive control.

Booth then corroborates his interpretations by talking with the principle members of the Church, which he was able to do during this time there.
Joseph Smith, Jun., Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, may be considered as the principals in this work; and let Martin Harris tell the story, and he is the most conspicuous of the four. (p.182)

Third Letter

Booth detects a change of character in Mormonism since its foundation, with some of its roots now being relegated to oblivion (p.183). There is first the ability to speak in tongues (p.184), which was then discarded as the devils work (p.185). Then people would receive commissions from the Heavens, written onto parchment or a Bible cover, or similar (p.185). Furthermore, there were visions, of the New Jerusalem (p.185) or the position and condition of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel (p.186), which they expect to be hiding in the polar region behind a wall of ice and snow. Only Joseph Smith Jr still sees with his spiritual eye, either translations or angels. Finally (p.187), the Mormons expect there to be many treasures in the earth and that the fulness of time will put them into their command.

Fourth Letter

Booth now describes the apocalyptic expectations of the Mormons (p.188f), esp. with respect to bodily healing. Booth narrates the incident of Brother Murdock (p.190) whose hand Smith Jr attempted to heal through faith; the incident of the elder, who could not use his legs; even the situation of a child, two days dead, that was commanded to rise again. 
Booth then narrates how, during the disappointment of the Mormons over the faith healing not succeeding, Sidney Rigdon sent everyone home instead of preaching to them; Booth speculates he was scared of the congregation and their sentiments (p.191). 

Fifth Letter

Booth now relates how the move to Missouri came about (p.192). Commandments were issued to send the Elders to do missionary work there, but the provisions were unequal.
They were commanded to go two by two, with the exception of Rigdon, Smith, Harris, and Partridge; and it was designed that these should find an easier method of transporting themselves, than to travel that distance on foot. They were careful to make suitable provision for themselves, both in money and other articles, that while on their journey, they might carry the appearance of gentlemen filling some important station in life; .... (p.192)
For Booth this was a disappointing experience
I seldom proclaimed Mormonism with that liberty which I enjoyed in my public exercises, while a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. (p.193)
In Missouri the missionaries expected displays of divine power and a community in full-swing, created by the missionary work of Oliver Cowdery. Little like that materialized.
We expected to find a large church, which Smith said, was revealed to him in a vision, Oliver had raised up there. This large church was found to consist of four females. (p.194)
We expected to witness the exercise if those miraculous gifts, to which some were ordained while in the State of Ohio. But the same difficulty, the same want of faith among the people, which counteracted them here, prevailed there; consequently no miracles could be wrought. (p.194)
Even the consecration of the newly begun rebuilding of Zion was a disappointment.
The childish exultation of the Mormonite leaders, while they echoed and reechoed, the Lord has given us this whole region of country; "this whole region of country is ours;" when it was manifest, agreeable to the commandment, that the gift was only obtained, by purchasing it at a dear rate with money, .... (p.195)
And since the pursuit involved such mundane approaches, the socio-economic status of the converts interfered with the success story.
... Mormonites as a body, are comparatively poor, and destined so to remain, until they pursue a different course as it relates to economy and industry, from what they have hitherto pursued. (p.196)

Sixth Letter

Booth points out that the head quarters of the Mormons in Independence, Mo, is a mere 12 miles from the Indian reservations (p.196), which the Mormons were visiting to preach to the Indians (p.197). Booth denies however that any conversions took place when he was there, to he acknowledge polite interest in some of the prophecies about the Indians expelling their enemies.

The second part of the letter (p.198) concerns the laying of the foundation stone for the new Zion. Rigdon and Cowdery were both present on that occasion, according to Booth.
He [i.e. Sidney Rigdon, RCK] enjoined it upon them to express a great degree of gratitude for the free donation, and then, as the Lord's Vicegerent, he gratuitously bestowed upon them, that for which they had paid an exorbitant price in money. (p.198)
Cowdery placed the cornerstone for Zion proper (p.198), while Joseph Smith Jr placed the cornerstone for the temple of Zion (p.199).
[Visitors, RCK] can there have the privilege of beholding the mighty work, accomplished by about thirty men, who left their homes, traveled one thousand miles, most of them on foot, and expended more than $1000 in cash. (p.199)
The general whereabouts of Independence did not appeal to the Mormons, however, being still a frontier settlement.

Having completed the work, or rather finding but little business for us to accomplish in Missouri, most of us became anxious to return home. And none appeared to be more so than Rigdon and Smith, whose plans for future subsistence were considerably frustrated. They expected to find a country abounding with the necessaries and comforts of life. (p.200)
But no matter for that, it [i.e. returning to Kirtland, OH] will save them [Rigdon and Smith Jr] the difficulties and hardships incident to the settling of a new country; and also the dangers to which they would be exposed, in case the Indians should commence hostilities upon the whites; and moreover, they have an easy method [i.e. commandments] to supply themselves with cash at any time when occasion requires. (p.200)
Booth sticks with that economic interpretation of the motivation for the Mormon leadership for the remainder of the letter.
The authority of a commandment will easily untie the purse strings of those whose consciences are under their [the Prophets and his head men, RCK] control; ..., [Joseph, RCK] Smith [Jr, RCK] has commanded himself not to labor, and by his mandate, has enjoined it upon the church to support him. The Bishop [Edward Partridge, RCK], when we were in Missouri, intimated that he [i.e. Joseph Smith Jr] and others were too much inclined to indolence. -- He [i.e. Joseph Smith Jr] replied, "I am commanded not to labor." (p.200)

Seventh Letter

Booth now turns to describing how he wrote a letter to Bishop Edward Partridge concerning his impressions of the arrangement in Missouri with respect to the Kirtland Saints. However, this necessitates some background information about Partridge from Booth's point of view.
The Bishop [i.e. Edward Partridge, RCK] is, in reality, the Vicegerent of Smith, and those in coalition with him; and holds his office during their will and pleasure. (p.200)
Booth then describes how the bishop began to doubt, due to the way the commandments for the professionals and the believers were incommensurate.
The conference last year, gave him [i.e. Bishop Ezra Partridge, RCK] a tremendous shock, from which with difficulty he recovered. The law of the church enjoins, that no debt with the world shall be contracted. But a thousand acres of land in the town of Thompson could be purchased for one half its value, and he was commanded to secure it; and in order to do it, he was under the necessity to contract a debt to the world. He hesitated, but the command was repeated, "you must secure the land." (p.201)
Booth therefore thinks Partridge will not last.
He [i.e. Edward Partridge] saw the impropriety, and it shook his faith. I am suspicious the time is not far distant, when by commandment, this office will be bestowed upon a more trusty and confidential person; perhaps Smith's brother or father, or some one who has been disciplined in the State of New York. Then it will become his business to make over the whole property, by deed of conveyance, to the person appointed by the commandment to supercede him. (p.201)
[Booth is mistaken, Partridge remained a Bishop until his death in 1840; after all, he had been one of the earliest converts, so he was "disciplined in the State of New York" (p.201) already, as Booth had put it. RCK]

Only now is Booth in a position to quote his own letter to Bishop Partridge in full (pp.201-2??).
Booth first explains to Partridge how his faith had been shaken by the overestimate of the size of the church established by Cowdery in Missouri, which had been estimated to be several hundred when it turned out to be "three or four families" (p.202). Booth then reminds Partridge of an interaction he had with Smith Jr in Missouri
When you [i.e. Bishop Partridge, RCK] intimated to Joseph that the land which he and Oliver had selected, was inferior in point of quality to other lands adjoining, [he abused you, RCK]. (p.202)
According to Booth, Partridge had called Smith Jr out on the size of the church, and Smith Jr merely answered evasively. Booth then wants to know whether Partridge has not observed these contradictions on his own in Smith Jr before.
Now, permit me to inquire, have you not frequently observed in Joseph, a want of that sobriety, prudence and stability, which are some of the most prominent traits in the christian character? Have you not often discovered in him, a spirit of lightness and levity, a temper easily irritated, and an habitual proneness to jesting and joking? Have you not often proven to your satisfaction that he says he knows things to be so by the spirit, when they are not so? (p.203)
Booth goes on to relate the story of a canoe trip that formed part of the journey, and how Smith Jr. and Cowdery and Rigdon behaved during that journey. When a controversy broke out, Smith Jr tried to get the upper hand over his elders but failed.
Joseph [Smith Jr] seemed inclined to arm himself, according to his usual custom, in case of opposition, with the judgments of God, for the purpose of pouring them, like a thunder bolt upon the rebellious elders; but one or two retorted, "None of your threats:" which completely disarmed him, and he reserved his judgment for a more suitable occasion. (p.205)
In Booth's recollection, Smith Jr the next morning sidestepped the issue of the river journey by revoking the previous with a new commandment:
... and he [Joseph Smith Jr, RCK] again had recourse to his usual method, of freeing himself from the embarrassments of a former commandment, by obtaining another in opposition to it. (p.206)
In addition, the prophet demanded a privileged mode of transportation for himself and his head men through the commandment.
Joseph, Sidney, and Oliver were to press their way forward with all possible speed, and to preach only in Cincinnati; and there they were to lift up their voices, and proclaim against the whole of that wicked city. The method by which Joseph and Co. designed to proceed home, it was discovered, would be very expensive. "The Lord don't care how much money it takes to get us home," said Sidney. (p.206)
Such blatant inequality raised Booth's ire, and he expressed this to the bishop. In addition, he complained to Partridge about Smith Jr and his head men neglecting the preaching part of the commandment and giving divergent excuses for this (p.207).

Booth then points out that other of his travel companions had learned secrets about Oliver Cowdery that put him on par with the outcase Apostle and Elder Ziba, but that the same transgressions caused no expulsion in the case of Cowdery (p.208).

Booth closes his letter to Partridge by reminding him that Partridge's description of Zion is in conflict with Rigdon's, for which Rigdon's claimed infallible inspiration of the holy spirit; such contradiction with Rigdon which moved Partridge onto the "bad" list of Rigdon's, as he told Booth (p.208).  For this reason alone, Partridge should fly the false association of these men (p.209).

Once the letter to Partridge has ended, Booth points out that Sidney Rigdon ends up twisting the truth by his penchant for exaggeration (p.209) and that in his disputations he is less compelling by virtue of argument than by being a verbal bully, as Rigdon himself shows when reiterating how he "defeated" his former master Alexander Campbell by yelling him down (p.210).

Eight Letter

Booth questions whether the origin of the American natives is even a topic suited to the religious improvement of mankind (p.210). Nevertheless, in the Book of Mormon, that information is given, for the Mormonite, and is intimately related to the mission among the Lamanites (p.211), a charge committed to Oliver Cowdery, specifically in D&C 28, which Booth then cites (p.211-212). Booth also presents a contract-like response of Cowdery, his co-missionaries--Parley P. Pratt, Peter Whitmer, and Ziba Peterson---and other Mormon leaders--Joseph Smith Jr and David Whitmer--(p.212-213) from October of 1830, where Cowdery and his co-missionaries accept the charge in the presence of the Mormon leaders. The response also includes the charge to put up a pillar where the new Zion will be located, a task not explicitly given in the revelation (p.213).

But Booth then points out the other aspects of D&C 28, as a rejection of Cowdery's attempts to prophesize and the clarification on the almost inviolate status of Joseph Smith Jr as a prophet, which puts the revelation into the context of a power struggle between Smith Jr and Cowdery (p.214). Smith Jr had taken a similar approach with Brother Hiram Page, but had delegated Cowdery to be the executioner of the chastisement (p.215); similarly with a female prophetess in Kirtland, Ohio (p.216).

Ninth Letter

Booth (p.216) returns to his description of the mission to the Indians. While traveling thence, Cowdery detoured to Kirtland, Ohio, where he met Pratt's friend Rigdon and brought him into the fold. Rigdon had visions that supported his conversion to Mormonism, involving the absolute truth of the Book of Mormon as divine revelation (p.217). The actual missionizing began in Sandusky, but was unsuccessful (p.218), and so Cowdery and partners moved on to Missouri, where the were evicted from the Indian reservation by U.S. agents. Booth pours scorn on the simple fashion in which Cowdery let himself be despirited and pushed aside.
But alas! he [i.e. Oliver Cowdery] was arrested by man in his course, and by the breath of man the mighty undertaking was blown into the air, and Cowdery was thrown back among the Gentiles, to wait for the spirit to devise some new plans in the place of those which had been frustrated.  (p.219)
Which meant that solutions had to be found that violated the original commandment.
But as the city and temple must be built, as every avenue leading to the Indians was closed against the Mormonites, it was thought that they should be built among the Gentiles, which is in direct opposition to the original plan -- ... foreign from the design of the spirit, expressed in several commandments .... (p.219)
Alternate Indian plans were conceived of, including a letter of recommendation by the Elders for the US Agent (p.219f) and the use of the "Storehouse for the Lord" as a base of what amounts to smuggling goods to the Indians (p.220). Finally, one man was declared as divorced from his non-Mormon wife, so that he could go and marry an Indian woman, which would allow for him to live amongst them, US Agent or not; but that plan did not come to fruition because the person was worried about the legal repercussions should they ever return to New York (p.220).


Booth then concludes this enterprise, which he considered unpleasant to himself. He hopes that his reward will be that someone will be kept out of the clutches of the delusion. (p.221)

End of Part 3 -- See Part 4 for the continuation


Monday, December 16, 2013

E. D. Howe unveiling Mormonism (Part 2)

Howe then turns to how Pratt introduced Smith to Sidney Rigdon (p.100), who as a preacher had the skill and eloquence to spread the Mormon faith, in Howe's mind.

Howe indicates how with the revelations (p.101f), which no longer require peep or seer stones but are performed with the eyes shut, Cowdery and Ms Smith are subdued and the prophet is established as the court of last appeal.

Howe points out that the move to Kirtland, Ohio (pp.110-112), where Rigdon originally resided, did not crystallize until Rigdon joined and worked with Smith over a period of two months. Howe also insinuates that many of Rigdon's "sheep" were wealthy and that their support of the prophet was the actual motif behind the efforts.

Howe then describes the spread of the Mormon movement from Kirtland:
Many, even in the New England States, after hearing the frantic story of some of these "elders," would forthwith place their all into a waggon [sic!], and wend their way to the "promised land," .... (p.115)
In Howe's reconstruction, Smith Jr was unsympathetic to the unorganized happenings in Kirtland and got a prophecy to stop them.
On the arrival of Smith in Kirtland, he appeared astonished at the wild enthusiasm and scalping performances, of his proselytes there, as heretofore related. He told them that he had enquired of the Lord concerning the matter, and had been informed that it was all the work of the Devil. (p.116)
Howe then begins citing a long letter by Thomas Campbell to take up Rigdon's challenge on debating anyone on the new bible (p.116). The letter is in the wordy eloquent style of the 19th century, and some of its contents has to do with the modalities of the debate--but the specific direction of Campbell's attack is the sufficiency of the Biblical revelations as received in AT and NT, requiring none of long list of "isms" (p.120) to achieve human salvation. Conversely, Campbell is ready to disprove the dispensation of the Mormon Church (pp.120ff).

Campbell's argument in the end boils down to the problem of prophetics:
The obvious conclusion of this sixth argument is evident, that if the Mormonite prophets and teachers can show no better authority for their pretended mission and revelations than these impostors [i.e. the Shakers, the French Prophets, etc. RCK] have done, we have no better authority to believe them than we have to believe their predecessors in imposition. But the dilemma is, we can't believe all, for each was exclusively right in his day, and those of them that remain, are still exclusively right to this day; and if the Shakers be right, the whole world, the Mormonites themselves not excepted, are in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity -- quite as far from salvation as you yourself have pronounced all the sectarians on earth to be, namely, in a state of absolute damnation. (p.122)
Howe (p.124) then turns to the apocalyptic expectations of the Mormon community that they would not taste death, and that they should rely in the medical treatments not on physicians of the present world, but on prayer, Mormon elders and roots. However, when Emma Smith encountered obstetrical complications, Smith Jr got external doctors anyway--a breach of protocol that required smoothing over. A young man named Dota, however, was not so lucky (p.124), could not be healed by the prophet, and expired, renouncing Mormonism on his deathbed (p.125).

Howe now describes the problems that the early Mormon converts encountered coming to Kirtland (p.125), specifically that the majority of arrivals were poor and that holding things in common primarily meant that the prophet and select relations of his were supported by the Church. The lack of means required purchasing cheap land in the wilderness, and such socio-economic depravations shook many converts' faith, either causing them to leave or to enquire of the prophet with very high frequency.

Howe claims (p.126) that the positive accounts of Independence, Ms, where the Indian missionaries surrounding Oliver Cowdery had wintered as day laborers, caused the Mormons to consider moving there, under the assumption of cheap land, and in a June 1st meeting, a long revelation prepared the effort (pp.126f). Cowdery and Rigdon purchased land and lay the foundation stone for the new Zion (p.127), for which the Mormons had high hopes of splendor that expressed themselves in visions. Once Smith, Rigdon and Cowdery had returned to Kirtland, the local Mormon community began selling off their property, often at loss, to migrate to Missouri--supported by specific prophecies (p.128). Howe then cites D&C 42 (p.129f), which describes the structure of the commonly held property while allowing for individual stewardship. Howe notes, however, that the following year (p.130), the Mormon hierarchy still remaining in Kirtland began to purchase additional land in Ohio.
The next year commenced with something like a change of operations. Instead of selling their possessions in Ohio, they [i.e. the prophet and his head men, RCK] again began to buy up improved land, mills and water privileges. It would seem that the Missouri country began to look rather dreary to the prophet and his head men, supposing that they could not enjoy their power there as well as in Ohio. (p.130)
Howe then reports on the Bible revisions (p.130) taking place during 1832, on which Joseph Smith Jr was working. Howe is intrigued how the corrections and modifications will compare to the large parts of the Old Testament cited in the Book of Mormon, esp. Isaiah (p.131).

Howe also reports limitations in the prophecies of Smith Jr during that time, specifically the failure for the predicted forceful return of the Cholera epidemic in New York (p.132). Howe also reports another outbreak of "speaking in tongues", this time supported by the hierarchy, about which a pamphlet of one and a report of another ex-Mormon has come down, which Howe cites (pp.132-135) and paraphrases (p.135-137). But Howe then turns to the philosophical problem of tongue speaking.
[One has to ask, RCK] whether it be possible, that the great and intelligent Ruler of the Universe, can be thus miraculously engaged in bestowing all sorts of language upon a few people merely for their own amusement? -- languages that can neither benefit themselves, or any one else, because no one can understand them. (p.137)
For the gift of speaking in tongues as reported in Acts is designed to assist the missionaries of the early Church in working across the world, not as a parlor trick (p.137). And just as the Apostles in Act had been enabled to speak understandable languages, it would be more helpful for the Spirit to let the Mormons speak in existing languages before audiences of native speakers (p.138).

By 1833, the situation in Missouri, under Bishop Edward Partridge from Ohio (p.139) was heading for a disaster.
Their numbers [i.e. of poor pioneers coming from all over the US, Canada and even Europe, RCK], men, women and children, were now about 1200 in Jackson county [, Missouri, RCK]. Besides the printing apparatus, they had also a mercantile establishment, (denominated the "Lord's Store House,") and some mechanic shops in Independence. (p.139)
 Representational democracy was the issue at hand.
Under these circumstances, the people of Jackson Co., became somewhat excited and alarmed for their civil rights. (p.139)
The apocalyptic predictions and missionary efforts did not ease the situation (p.140)
[The committee of concerned citizens claimed in their statement that, RCK] the citizens were daily told that they were to be cut off, and their lands appropriated to the Mormons for inheritances -- that they sometimes said this was to be accomplished either by the destroying angel, or by their own power, under the direction of God ... (p.140).
The Committee felt that they would not be ruled properly by people with an apocalyptic set of mind--as indubitably they would, if the Mormon numbers kept increasing. The meeting of the Committee resulted in an ultimatum, requiring (p.141) a stop to all further Mormon arrival; the departure of the present Mormons; and an end to their businesses such as the newspaper.

Howe then relates that (p.142) twelve influential civilian and military leaders were elected to help implement the resolution by talking with the Mormon leaders. However, these wished to confer back with Joseph Smith Jr in Kirtland, Ohio, whereupon the assembly took immediate action and shut down the printing store. Howe reports that the Committee and the Mormons have diverging opinions on the level of violence with which this takes place and what the agreed upon forms of reparations were.

Three days later, on July 22nd 1833, seventeen influential leaders negotiated a contract with the Mormon Elders that Howe cites (pp.142ff), that gave all Mormons until April 1834 to leave, required half of them to be gone by January 1834, stipulated the wind down procedure for the businesses, and kept the newspaper shut down, in return for orderly proceedings (p.143). When the Mormons attempted to obtain redress first through the Governor and then through the courts, the citizens of Jackson County inferred that the Mormons were not interested in sticking to the contract and vigilante justice broke out, leaving in the end several people killed and the Mormon community fleeing across the Missouri river into Clay County.

Lest anyone be confused, Howe now gives his opinion about these matters, rejecting all frontier justice.
These proceedings, on the part of the people of Jackson county, were in total disregard of all law, and must be condemned by all. They were wholly at war with every principle of right, and the genius of our institutions. Outrages can never be justified upon any ground, although the reasons which induced them, ought to be stated. (p.144)
Howe re-iterates that the apocalyptic stance, the prediction of doom for the non-believers, and the expectation of a rise of the Indians contributed to this atmosphere (p.145-146).

Howe reports then how the loss of the "eternal inheritance" is in Joseph Smith Jr's revelation--D&C 101--blamed on internal dissension among the Mormons (p.147-155). The published revelation inspired a feeling of crusading against their enemies in the Mormons (p.155).
About the first of May the grand army of fanitics [sic!], commenced its march, in small detachments, from the different places of concentration. On the 3d, the Prophet, with a life guard, of about 80 men, the elite of his army, left his quarters in Kirtland, with a few baggage wagons, containing their arms, am[m]unition, stores, &c. (p.156)
In the spring of the same year, the Mormon elders had found out that there would be no court prosecutions in Independence of the expulsion, since all of the members of the Grand Jury had been involved (p.157).

Howe relates how the Mormon army approached and prepared for the battle.
During their stay here, the troops were kept under a constant drill of manual exercise with guns and swords, and their arms put in a state of repair -- the Prophet became very expert with a sword, and felt himself equal to his prototype Coriantumr. He had the best sword in the army (probably a true model of Laban's, if not the identical one itself,) an elegant brace of pistols, which were purchased on a credit of six months, a rifle, and four horses. (p.159)
Just before reaching Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, the Mormon army was intercepted by the concerned citizens of another county, which dissuaded them from continuing. A suitable revelation was found (though Howe gives insufficient detail to identify it) and the army honorably discharged in Liberty, Missouri (p.162). Howe points out that the collected money of the army, which Joseph Smith Jr was the treasurer of, allowed the Prophet and his head men to travel like gentlemen, while the remainder had to beg their way back to Kirtland (p.162).

Thus, when the Prophet returned to Kirtland, a veritable revolution was on, leading to a trial in which Smith Jr regained control of the flock by being judge, jury, and witness in one person (p.163). Order was restored by the expulsion of several church members.
It would seem that the Prophet anticipated trouble, on his return, as he secured a deed of a valuable farm, just before starting, by the contributions of his followers. He also took a deed of the ground on which stands a huge stone temple, sixty by eighty feet; and which is now nearly completed. Possessing himself, personally, of this edifice, gave such dissatisfaction, that the deed was finally altered, so as run to him and his successor. (p.163)
Howe next relates how the threatened approach of the Mormon army had led the people of Jackson County to propose a buy-out scheme to the Mormon elders in Clay County (pp.164-166). During the approach Smith Jr. and his head man had issued a position paper of sorts, signed by themselves, on the problem of Jackson County (pp.167-169). But as the local newspapers show, the fact that the army hailed from Ohio and none of the signers held any land in Jackson County, according to the land records, (p.171) suggested some sort of deception to the locals.

Howe cites the newspaper post discussion of the Mormon Proclamation as follows (written by Samuel C. Owens, of the Jackson County Committee, cf. (p.172)):
What abuse, we ask, did the Prophet Jo. Smith, Jr., receive in this county last Fall, and he not in the State? None, indeed to his person. Again, they say that they never intended to get possession of Zion, (that is Jackson,) by the shedding of blood! But, in Revelation No. 54, given in Kirtland, Ohio, August, 1831, near three years since, which we find in a Book of Revelations, printed by the Mormons, we discover the following in the thirteenth verse, to wit: 'Wherefore, the land of Zion shall be obtained but by PURCHASE or by BLOOD, otherwise there is no inheritance for you,' Thus it would seem, that either the Revelation is false, or the statement made by Jo. Smith and others to the people of Clay county is false. (p.171)
The separation of lands was not to be
We have already offered them two prices for their lands; they will not sell -- neither will they buy ours on the same terms. (p.171)
 Howe then cites a letter from June 1834 written by the Governor Daniel Dunklin
A more clear and indisputable right does not exist, than that of the Mormon people, who were expelled from their homes in Jackson county, to return and live on their lands, and if they cannot be persuaded as a matter of policy, to give up that right, or to qualify it, my course, as chief Executive officer of the State, is a plain one. (p.173)
Indeed, there is nothing so absurd or ridiculous, that | (p.174)  they have not a right to adopt as their religion, so that in its exercise, they do not interfere with the right of others. (p173f)
Howe thus ends the description of the Mormon war (p.176).

End of Part 2 -- See Part 3 for the continuation


Sunday, December 15, 2013

E. D. Howe unveiling Mormonism (Part 1)

Howe is not impressed with the character of the Smith family.
[The Smith family, RCK] ... emigrated from the town of Royalton, in the State of Vermont, about the year 1820, when Joseph, Jun. was, it is supposed, about 16 years of age. (p.11)
Howe blames the Smith's family interest in treasure hunting on their economic situation.
Being miserably poor, and not much disposed to obtain an honorable livelihood by labor, the energies of their minds seemed to be mostly directed towards finding where these treasures were concealed, and the best mode of acquiring their possession. (p.11)
Martin Harris appears as a religious will-o-wisp that wants to profit financially from the Book of Mormon.
He [i.e. Martin Harris, RCK] engaged in the new Bible business with a view of making a handsome sum of money from the sale of the books, as he was frequently heard to say. The whole expense of publishing an edition of 5000 copies, which was borne by Martin, to secure the payment of which, he mortgaged his farm for $3000. (p.13)
Howe reports how Harris was financially ruined by that publishing venture. Harris continued to prophecy himself (p.14) and engage in complex theological discussions with whoever will listen (pp.14-15).

Oliver Cowdery is represented as a trained blacksmith and now pro-Mormon newspaper editor (p.15), which meant as no compliment.

David Whitmer is represented as part of a family of credulous people and his description of the plates presented in detail (p.16).

Howe points out that the translation process (p.18) due to the function of the seer stone actually required none of the plates, and that the alternate story of the Urim and Thumim has the same problem.

Howe comments on the odd defense against the stolen transcription of the plates (p.22) and the impossibility of the resolution of how the transcription became lost.
Again, an important record which had been made by a miracle, (p.22) kept for ages by a miracle, dug from the ground by a miracle, and translated by a miracle, was stolen by some one, so that even a miracle could not restore it .... (p.23)
Howe suggests that the bad King James imitation and use of phrases gives the book a uniformity that precludes the plurality of the supposed authors of the books (p.23). The convoluted language also seems an inappropriate mode for God to reveal Himself (p.24), and Howe contrasts it with the straight-forward language of Jesus in the New Testament.

Howe complains about the use of steel by Nephi in the slaying of Laban (p.25).

Howe notes that the prophecy of Lehi for the plates taken by murder from Laban were not fulfilled, because instead of the plates, only a translation has been found and furnished to the world (p.27). The absence of the tools and the metals that Nephi was asked to leave behind makes it difficult for Howe to see how the plates that Nephi is now supposed to fashioned were made in a non-miraculous way (pp.27-28).

Howe also notes the temporal problems in Lehi's prophecy (pp.28-30) and their detailed presupposition of the King James version of the New Testament. Equally, Nephi's vision (p.31) that follows presupposes not only the Catholic Church but the Protestant Reformation.

Howe observes that Nephi (p.33) when mining the ore for building the tools to build the ship has no tools to convert the ore into tools.

Once Nephi's party lands in the Promised Land (p.35), they find oxen in the forest, which requires a surgical procedure on bulls to accomplish. Howe also notes that finding gold, silver and copper ores wont be sufficient to make brass plates which requires zinc, as Nephi is instructed (p.35).

Howe is suspicious of the prophecy of Lehi at this point, which predicts details of the crucifixion, using prophets whose names are not known elsewhere (p.36). Since Lehi then cites two chapters of Isaiah, in King James diction, Howe becomes concerned about the change of English since then and why the Lord chose not to reveal 19th century English. There is also the stylistic problem that the English of the two chapters of Isaiah is so much better than the remainder of the Book of Mormon (p.39), and even uses the modern chapter divisions. The word-for-word match is suspicious to Howe: No Old Testament prophet prophesied word-for-word speeches of the Savior, nor do the evangelists agree completely in style and diction when they quote the Savior (p.40)--only Lehi manages that feat.

Howe suspects that the base forgery that is the Book of Mormon in his eyes is due to Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith Jr (p.42).

The style riles Howe again (p.44)
Would it not be reasonable to conclude, that any book, whose author was the Holy Ghost, would be clear and perfect in all its parts; so plain that the wayfaring man need not err? particularly if the translation and style be chosen and dictated by himself, as it is pretended that the book of Mormon was.
When Nephi separates from the Lamnites and goes to found the city of Nephi with his small band of followers (p.46), Howe points out that the group has only been tracking around for about 30 years and cannot possibly have grown large enough that they could seriously defend themselves against any large group of people, swords or not.

When Lehi makes the sons of Joseph to priests, Howe points (p.48) to the fact that Paul would not even admit Jesus as priest while he was on earth, given that he did not descend from Levi.

Howe continuously points to the temporal quagmire that the an Israelite of the 6th century should talk about New Testament matters
The doctrines which are found in the new Testament, in relation to the coming Messiah, and his rejection by the Jews, is explained; a task not very difficult for any one in the nineteenth century. (p.51)
But even the general chronology does not work out correctly:
Here we see the ignorant author has made too great a mistake, for, according to the Bible, Jerusalem must have been besieged six years before the pretended departure of Lehi from Jerusalem, and the city destroyed, and the Jews carried captive into Babylon, four years and six months, for the siege lasted only eighteen months. (p.51)
The recurrent theme of the riches also causes Howe consternation
There seems to be a prevailing passion in the writer to represent the Nephites as being great miners after the precious metals. They are often represented as diging and searching after gold and silver -- which will perhaps be an apology for Joseph Smith's early habits in searching after hidden treasures, he being a remnant of the Nephites. (p.55)
Again, the amount of time that has passed in the Book of Mormon is insufficient to allow for a numerous people, kings and wars, and all the other trappings of the narrative.
According to the most extravagant calculation, in point of increase among five or six females, the whole could not have amounted to more than about sixteen hundred, in the time mentioned, allowing no deaths to have occurred; besides, about one half of that number would be under ten years old. The story of wars and contentions, and of kings having passed away, is too ridiculous and inconsistent to be noticed and refuted in a serious manner. (p.56)
Howe also notes the problem of assuming that descendants of the Jew Lehi would write in reformed Egyptian (p.59f).

Howe re-iterates the quotation argument
The fact that so great a proportion of the whole book being made from quotations from the Bible, a part of which was not written until six hundred years after the pretended period of our author, places the matter beyond controversy, and is conclusive testimony that the author was an infidel. (p.64)
In the context of the judgeship of Alma, Howe points out that no coins of the denominations given have ever been found (p.72).

Howe pokes fun at the story of Ammon (p.75-76), who in his frontier mentality takes out some of the Lamnites with stones and the others by lopping off their arms with his sword.

Howe then points out (pp.77f),  that the process of the seer stone translation in the hat makes the testimony of the three men of the plates unhelpful, because they had no process of determining whether the translation matched the plates they had seen.

Among the other anachronisms, Howe finds the reviling of freemasonry, which makes only sense for 19th century contexts.
Freemasonry is here introduced and is said to have originated with a band of highwaymen. This institution is spoken of in very reproachful terms, in consequence of the members having bound themselves by secret oaths to protect each other in all things from the justice of the law. (p.81)
Howe notes how politically appropriate this is.
The Nephites are represented as being Anti-masons and Christians, which carries with it some evidence that the writer foresaw the politics of New York in 1828-29, or that work was revised at or about that time. (p.81)
Or how astronomically astute the Book of Mormon is, eschewing the Ptolemaic view of the solar system (p.82).

Howe wonders why the Nephites succeeded against the free masons using prophetic leaders, when latter day prophet Joseph Smith Jr failed to predict the troubles they would run into in Missouri (p.84).

Howe now turns to the question of the witnesses and (p.96) points out that the interests of the witnesses in the matter undercut the validity of their oath to the point that no court would accept them. Martin Harris after all put up the publishing money and would stand to profit by the sales. Similarly for Oliver Cowdery, who was poor then but (p.97) in comfortable circumstances at the point in time when Howe was writing. Ditto for David Whitmer, who as an "inconsiderable person" became a leader of high standing within the Mormon community.

Howe makes similar short shrift (p.99) of the eight witnesses, four of which come from the Whitmer family, and three from the Smith, and attest to nothing except that they saw plates and handled them.

End of Part 1 -- See Part 2 for the continuation


Han China on the problem of accountability

In his book, The bureaucracy of Han times, Cambridge University Press 1980, Hans Bielenstein makes the sage observation about the Han censorship system, the root of any accountability system.
The repeated alternations in rank between 600 shih and 2000 shih [i.e. bushels, here a symbolic system of rank designation, RCK] must have stemmed from the difficulty of devising a system whereby scrutiny of local administration would function as intended. Should one appoint junior officials at the beginning or senior officials at the end of their career? Would junior officials act vigorously in the hope of furthering their advancement, or, would they, on they contrary, fear to ruin their chances by impeaching powerful men of higher rank? Would elderly senior officials do their duty unflinchingly, since they had nothing to lose and none of the local administrators outranked them? Or would they avoid their responsibilities, being close to retirement and not wishing to be embroiled? Both approaches had their advantages and disadvantages, neither was without flaws, and the government could never make up its mind which to adopt permanently. [p.91]
A tough puzzle indeed.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

E.D. Howe's 1834 Mormonism Unveiled on the Web

Like so many other documents having to do with early Mormonism, Dale R. Broadhurst's set of webpages at has a scanned copy of Eber Dudley Howe's 1834 book Mormonism Unveiled.

Unfortunately, the Broadhurst scan as of December 2013 is incomplete; I communicated with Dale, but I don't know if I found everything and when he will have time to fix it. We communicated and agreed that more proofing is necessary, but we need to see when we two get around to that.

At any rate:

  • The Google books version is here
  • The Internet archive's version of the Google scan is here.
  • The Internet archive's version sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Library System is here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Encyc of Mormonism on Nauvoo (Vol 3, pp.987-993)

Article "Nauvoo" 

(by Glen M. Leonhard; pp.987-993)

Nauvoo was the home of the LDS from 1839 to 1846, from the time they fled the Missouri persecutions in the 1838-9 [in what is commonly called the Mormon War, RCK] to the exodus west to the Rockies [after the death of Joseph Smith Jr, RCK] (p.987). Nauvoo was the main settlement of an area extending from Eastern Iowa to Western Illinois where the LDS found refuge.

Nauvoo grew on
land purchased from settlers and speculators willing to sell on contract (Vol 3. p.987)
For example
Joseph Smith [Jr, RCK] acting as agent for the Church, bought the Illinois farms of Hugh & William White and investment tracts from Isac Galland and Horace Hotchkiss—in all, 660 acres.(Vol 3. p.987)
Smith Jr sold 1 acre lots on the river flats, other LDS developers sold lots on the buffs. The area had been mapped out with the "paper" towns of Commerce and Commerce City, but a new layout of streets three rods wide took its place.

In 1840, the Illinois legislature issued the Nauvoo Charter, which made Nauvoo a legal entity.

Not only Ohio and Missouri LDS came to Nauvoo (p.990), but also newly missionized members from the United States, Canada and Britain (due to the success of the Missions of the Twelf to the British Isles). The converts used a plurality of modes of transport.
Some used canal boats and lake steamers, others covered wagons and horseback, and a few simly walked. (p.990)
Beginning in 1840, thousands sailed the Atlantic from Liverpool, England, and took steamboats up the Mississippi from New Orleans. (p.990)
The migrations (see also Art. Immigration and Emigration) were assisted by the Church
[The migraints were] aided by Church emigration agents in Liverpool, who organized companies and appointed shepherds for those fleeing to Zion .... (p.990)
The influx was more than the boom town could handle.
Renting a room or finding other temporary quarters became increasinglz difficult during the boom years 1841-1843. (p.990)
While resources such as lumber and clay for brick making was available, the contractors were scarce.


Joseph Smith [Jr, RCK] and his family moved into the Mansion House in August 1843. Later a wing was added to the east side of the main structure for a total of twenty-two rooms. Beginning in January 1844, Ebenezer Robinson managed the Mansion House as a hotel, and the Prophet maintained six rooms for himself and his family. Emma Smith lived here until 1871, when she moved into the Nauvoo House, where she died in 1879.
(Caption, p.990)


Many of the maps from the article where actually available on the web as well--yay me!

Map of the City of Nauvoo, Illinois, on the Mississippi River, c. 1842 

Church History Sites near Navuoo, Illinois, 1839-1846 (p.988)

Street Map of Nauvoo, 1846 (p.989)


Daniel H. LUDLOW (ed), Encyclopedia of Mormonism. The History, Scripture, Doctrine, and Procedure of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, New York - Toronto (Macmillan) 1992, 5 volumes.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Literature on rituals and religious stances

This list of books and papers is based on the presentation given by Sarah Demmrich at the DoktorantInnen Kolloquium
Dipl Psych Demmrich also mentioned the following tests
  • the PANAS for affect measures (now PANAS-X)
  • the FEEL-KJ questionaire for determining emotional regulation in children and juveniles
  • the Mysticism Scale in Hood, Ralph W. Jr. 1975. The Construction and Preliminary Validation of a Measure of Reported Mystical Experience, in: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 14(1), p.29-41, which is in turn based on the research by Walter Terence Stace, Mysticism and Philosophy, London 1961.
  • the Tellegen Absorption Scale described in Ritz & Dahme (1995)
The Ekstase Scale (Wolfredd 2013) was not findable given that information.

In the discussion, Prof. Danz pointed out that some of the considerations in
  • Monika Wohlrab-Sahr, Religionslosigkeit als Thema der Religionssoziologie, in: Pastoraltheologie 90: 152-167.
seemed to be lacking from the research design.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fichte vs Joseph Smith Jr

I managed to find the section today where Johann Gottlieb Fichte points out that the contents of all revelation cannot differ from what the moral imperative already states—to say it somewhat informally.

Here's the money shot:
Das allgemeine Kriterium der Göttlichkeit einer Religion in Absicht ihres moralischen Inhalts ist also folgendes: Nur diejenige Offenbarung, welche ein Princip der Moral, welches mit dem Princip der praktischen Vernunft übereinkommt, und lauter solche moralische Maximen aufstellt, welche sich davon ableiten lassen, kann von Gott seyn. 
—J.G. Fichte, Versuch einer Kritik aller Offenbarung, §11, S.177.
That's not quite how Joseph Smith Jr saw the matter ... ;)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

La Longue Durée and Petitio Principii

After both the analysis of the Ur-Matriarchy and the discussions regarding the restructuring of the dissertation project, I have begun to think about the Braudelian Longue Durée as the moral equivalent of a petitio principii, in that in many instances, including some that Braudel applies in his book on the Mediterranean, the unchanging nature of the historical structure is assumed rather than demonstrated, thus undermining the quality of the argument.

Furthermore, as the micro-historical turn would suggest, a detailed analysis of the assumed longue durée would discover both variability within the structure across time and would suggest less Procrustian research paths whose questions cannot be suggested up front; more research into Danto's observations regarding the "Monassian rule problem" is required to firm up thinking here.

Thus, it might be that the trichotomy of longue, médian and court re-collapses to the distinction of event and structure well-attested with German historiographical tradition (e.g. Reinhart Koselleck). This is not to deny that post-facto of the historical reconstruction, the structures can be sorted temporally by their duration, which is independently useful, providing terminus ante and post quem information. But unless the work has been done up front, it cannot be presupposed for the argument.

Rather, the claim will have to be weaker, i.e. that in a specific historical reconstruction, a specific structure turned out to be temporally stable across a long, medium or short range of time--with no claim how that would play out in alternate settings, reconstructions, in the future, or for even the same topic assuming additional research work. It is an empirical argument, and can be swayed by a single counter example, not an analytic category. It is a werksimmanente Eigenschaft.

As a research strategy, it will be permissible to assume that a specific temporal structure might be of long duration, but that has the quality of a heuristic and not of a binding assumption.

Furthermore, it stands to reason that the longer the duration of a temporal structure, the higher the probability that its duration will be invalidated by an event.