Addendum #49- Full-Length Film: Joseph Smith, The Prophet of the Restoration (10:13-10:43)

joseph smith profile 1.7ADDENDUM:  Although the film dramatizes the visit of the angel Moroni as an unprovoked and surprising event to Joseph, historical context adds substantially to one’s understanding of the event and must no longer be omitted in correlated church materials and film depictions.  FAIR acknolwedges that Joseph was not at all unfamiliar with messages of valuable relics buried in the ground and the pursuit to unearth them.  In fact, he was intimately familiar with seeking for buried treasures and had not only been minimally involved with J. Stowell in treasure seeking, but had been seeking for buried treasure with a seer stone for years, often as his principle employment.  A subset of the general population at the time believed firmly in the reality of divination, seer stones, and magical thinking, etc., so it is appropriately argued that the mindset was a not-unheard-of component of early New England history.  Often stories of such fabled treasures included treasure guardians, in the form of ghosts, devilish minions, animals, etc.  FAIR acknowledges this as foundational history and affirms that, given Joseph’s involvement with treasure seeking, that there is no way to know whether Joseph first considered Moroni (whom he initially described as being the spirit of the Almighty) as one of these treasure guardians, as a divine messenger, or both.  Regardless, as modern members of the church consider the story of Moroni’s visitation and the discovery of the golden plates, each has a right to be presented the full contextual history, without having to wade through an occult historical record alone, and to be given such context by the same trusted church organization that first introduced the story to them and sanctified it in their hearts.  Members and investigators can still choose to believe that God used Joseph as an instrument to obtain and translate the plates, but such belief should be coupled by understanding of the historical truth.  This will likely modify the current pervasive characterization of Joseph and may require mental rationalizations of history, including, for example, that his treasure digging was divine preparation for unearthing the plates, that prior encounters with fictitious treasure guardians was a heralding of the actual divine encounter with Moroni, or that those he led to believe in his magical-world capabilities of divination and seer stone use were correct to believe him and that he alone among 19th century treasure seekers actually held divine seer powers which were later necessary for translation , etc.  Omission of such detail has created generations of believers whose faith is mal-contextualized.  Modern church members have a right to inform their individual, collective, and generational decisions of faith and orthodoxy with history that is fully disclosed.

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