Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another Reason I Appreciate Candor

On the back of Henry Eyring's quote I recently shared, here's one more reason I appreciate candor:

Richard Bushman:
"We put ourselves in a precarious position if we propagate a view of Joseph Smith that conceals part of the man. When a young graduate of BYU learns for the first time about Joseph's plural marriages or his temper, disillusion can set in. If all this was hidden from me in my religious courses, the graduate asks, can I trust what I have learned? To be credible we must be candid."

--From Bushman's Response to Nate Oman's post: "RSR: What Hath Bushman Wrought?"


Clean Cut said...

On a related note, I recently came across a transcript from a Q&A session with Richard Bushman at Weber State. Blair Hodges asked Bushman a great question, and I also appreciated his answer there:

Question: "What do you make of the dichotomy we see when people talk about “faith-promoting history” versus “objective” history? What do you make of the question of objectivity in presenting the story of the Church in the Church-among members of the church, as opposed to the academic view of objectivity and that sort of thing."

Bushman: "Right. My book is thought of as a book that would try to give the objective reality, and this was shocking to some people, there were many people that were quite disgusted with it. They thought that things were brought out that just shouldn’t be there. There were other people who loved it. Now we’re sort of getting the “real” Joseph Smith. In fact, I’d have people come up and say “I really liked your book.” And after I heard a number of these comments I came to realize they were saying “I’m one of those guys who can take it.” [audience laughter] So it was a little bit “I’ve got hair on my chest.” And some people yearn for this because they think the more idealistic version is wrong and we’ve got to get rid of those illusions. And to a certain extent we do because there are a lot of younger people who grow up and when they find out Joseph Smith did drink a glass of wine once in a while it shatters their testimony and they become very angry that they weren’t told about the “real” Joseph Smith.

"But I will say this. I’ll give this example. We had a young woman, convert to the Church who was in our Ward in Manhattan. Fabulous singer. She also had a very raucous sense of humor, she was always cackling and telling jokes, a little bit raw sort of person. One time at a Christmas program in the Manhattan Ward she stood there in a beautiful velvet dress, slim figure, long dress-I think it was dark blue-singing one of the great Christmas songs, I think it was Ave Maria. And I was quite close to her, I was up on the stand for some reason. And as she sang I looked at her and said “that woman is an angel. That woman is an angel.” A beautiful sound coming from her; beautiful, tall, serene posture.

"So the question is: who is the real person? That angel, or that raucous joke-cracking person? So what I’m saying is that idealized view of Joseph Smith is not entirely wrong. It’s just a way of looking at him in a different way that tells things about him you sort of miss as you go through every time he got beat up and every time he had to move, and all his struggles. So there’s a face for both of them is what I’m trying to say. I didn’t answer, entirely, your question, but that’s what I had in my head so that’s what you got. [audience laughter]."

S.Faux said...

Great quotes, Clean Cut.

I really like Bushman.

We should not worship Joseph. He was a man with rough edges, but he had the necessary talents to launch this last dispensation. Our Church has had the right leaders in the right place at the right time. That's my opinion. Even so, no one is perfect and I do NOT believe in Joseph's infallibility.

All we have to do is look at our own behaviors. At times we are spiritual, as we do earnestly seek God. At other times we are a bit riotous, as we laugh, play, and wrestle around. Not all aspects of our life are pretty.

It is rather easy to rattle off imperfect prophets and apostles. Moses, Jonah, Peter, and Paul immediately come to mind. God works through such imperfect souls. That is the nature of things.

To know Joseph Smith the man takes us to the American frontier. To Know Joseph Smith the prophet takes us to the temple of God.

Mormon Heretic said...

Great post Clean Cut. I don't get to Times and Seasons much, so I appreciate your reference--even though the article is 5 years old. (I didn't even know about the bloggernacle then anyway.)