Recommended Reading List

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dispirited
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Recommended Reading List

Post by dispirited » Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:42 am

Do we have a thread of the best books people have read about church history? I know there was one on the old site.

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Corsair
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Re: Reading List

Post by Corsair » Thu Dec 01, 2016 12:58 pm

dispirited wrote:Do we have a thread of the best books people have read about church history? I know there was one on the old site.
We don't have a thread, but we probably should have one and save it as a sticky post.

I can definitely recommend "Rough Stone Rolling" by Richard Bushman. It's still sold in Deseret Book and I really enjoyed Bushman's writing style. This will likely be the definitive work on the life of Joseph Smith for a very long time, and for good reason. Plus, you don't have to hide it from your believing friends and family.

It clarifies so much of early church history that most of us learned through the isolated hero stories that believing Mormons are raised with. The context of many early events really comes out like the First Vision, Kirtland temple experiences, plural marriage, Nauvoo, persecution, and the martyrdom. It can as easily bolster the testimony of the thoughtful believer as it can weaken the testimony of a skeptic. Bushman puts an apologetic spin on the more controversial aspects of Joseph's ministry. There is a consistent undercurrent noting that we don't know what Joseph was thinking, but clearly Joseph was confident that he was diligently following inspiration from God during various events.

The testimony that "Rough Stone Rolling" gave me was that Joseph was sincere, but flawed as a man. He was also deeply talented as a religious leader and seemed to truly thrive by building devout communities. This biography shows Joseph, the man, front and center of the events and not divine providence from Joseph's bold theophany.

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hiding in plain sight
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Re: Reading List

Post by hiding in plain sight » Thu Dec 01, 2016 1:08 pm

An insiders view of mormon origins is definitely a keeper.

https://www.amazon.com/Insiders-View-Mo ... 1560851570

Brodie's No man knows my history is also great. She puts too much of her opinion in it, but the sources are impeachable.

https://www.amazon.com/Insiders-View-Mo ... 1560851570

If you are looking for the best thinking apologists have on the relevant topics, then also read "A reason for faith".
This one is pretty straight forward and readily admits the big warts in the church's issues. Some of the chapters are really weak. But it does represent the best the church has today. And spoiler. We aren't missing anything.


https://www.amazon.com/Reason-Faith-Nav ... +for+faith

These three, plus Bushman's book would definitely be the top 4 on my list for people who want to "know".

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Culper Jr.
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Re: Reading List

Post by Culper Jr. » Thu Dec 01, 2016 2:57 pm

I read Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet by John G. Turner recently and really enjoyed it. Interesting, well researched, I thought it was very fair but doesn't hold back on the less flattering aspects of his life (of which there were many).

I am currently reading Michael Quinn's Early Mormonism and the Magic World View. It is a great book with lots of information and TONS of sources, but is not as easy of a read. It has really answered a lot of my questions about the culture of the time and where Joseph got a lot of his ideas from.

And of course, as others have said, Rough Stone Rolling is excellent.

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document
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Re: Reading List

Post by document » Thu Dec 01, 2016 4:22 pm

I'm going to throw this out there because while it isn't a book on LDS Church History per se, it shined a considerable light on Mormonism for me in the greater context of Christian History. That is "Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years" by Diarmaid MacCulloch. It took me a long time to get through. While I wasn't reading the book for Mormon History, you see the development of Christianity over generations, and it places Mormonism into a context that the leaping of the unique theology into the world is not miraculous, but almost predictable. Mormonism, as a theology and a movement, made so much more sense. The book focuses upon cultural, historical, and doctrinal shifts and trends through the years, and thus things pop up all the time in the reading where you go, "Oh, that's where that came from". Then when it Mormonism is covered you go, "ah, and there it is".

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achilles
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Re: Reading List

Post by achilles » Thu Dec 01, 2016 4:53 pm

I agree with the inclusion of Rough Stone Rolling. It was a crucial book for me to read, to begin to see the complexity of Joseph Smith and his role. It can be heavy reading, however.

I am going to throw out two titles:

David O McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism by Greg Prince

This is a very well-written book that sets the stage for current church policies and practices. Very readable, too.

https://www.amazon.com/David-McKay-Rise ... +mormonism

The Development of LDS Temple Worship 1846-2000: A Documentary History by Devery S. Anderson

This book gets down to the nitty gritty of the evolution of LDS temple worship from Nauvoo to present, including discussion of the second annointing.

https://www.amazon.com/Development-LDS- ... le+worship

Both books are available as Kindle editions.
“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

― Carl Sagan

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."

-Joseph Campbell

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achilles
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Re: Reading List

Post by achilles » Thu Dec 01, 2016 5:00 pm

I am currently working my way through three books that should be added to the list:

The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power
https://www.amazon.com/Mormon-Hierarchy ... hael+quinn

and

The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power
https://www.amazon.com/Mormon-Hierarchy ... hael+quinn

both by D. Michael Quinn. The third book in the series, The Mormon Hierarchy: Wealth and Corporate Power is not yet available, but I have it on pre-order (it has been pushed back again to next February).

and finally,

Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History also by Greg Prince.
https://www.amazon.com/Leonard-Arringto ... =arrington

All of these books are helpful in understanding how we got where we are when it comes to the suppression of LDS history and the politics of church hierarchy.
“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

― Carl Sagan

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."

-Joseph Campbell

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Hagoth
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Re: Reading List

Post by Hagoth » Thu Dec 01, 2016 6:47 pm

This is My Doctrine by Charles R. Harrell is a must read. It outlines the evolution of every Mormon doctrine. The author is a BYU professor and a "believer" in the Givens sense, but I don't see how anyone could read his book and maintain any kind of belief in modern LDS prophesy.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

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Hagoth
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Re: Reading List

Post by Hagoth » Thu Dec 01, 2016 6:48 pm

Early Mormonism and the Magic World View by D. Michael Quinn
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

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AllieOop
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Re: Reading List

Post by AllieOop » Thu Dec 01, 2016 7:02 pm

I love this thread and think it's a great idea to make it a "sticky thread". I was going to post some of my favorite books, but most of them have been named already....some excellent suggestions.

I'll go ahead and pin this thread.
"There came a time when the desire to know the truth about the church became stronger than the desire to know the church was true."

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deacon blues
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Re: Recommended Reading List

Post by deacon blues » Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:21 pm

"Studies of the Book of Mormon" by B. H. Roberts was helpful to me. I'd always been skeptical of the BOM and when I read the book I said to myself, "Finally, someone asks the questions I was afraid to ask." B. H. Roberts was a one of the presidents of the Seventies in the early 20th century, and probably the foremost LDS historian of his day.
God is Love. God is Truth

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AzCommando
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Re: Recommended Reading List

Post by AzCommando » Sat Dec 03, 2016 9:53 am

A Gathering of Saints, by Robert Lindsey. A true story about murder, money, lies and deceit. The Mark Hoffman story.
A good, easy and fun read that will leave you shaking your head. A true shelf breaker.

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document
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Re: Recommended Reading List

Post by document » Sat Dec 03, 2016 1:40 pm

Read "The History of the Church" by B.H. Roberts. It takes a LONG time to get through. While it is white washed, it is far more unapologetic (even though it entirely erases polygamy) than most Mormon sources. It was a struggle to read as a believer.

It also has one of the most detailed accounts of the death of Smith. It doesn't hide anything, either.

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Hagoth
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Re: Recommended Reading List

Post by Hagoth » Sat Dec 03, 2016 4:48 pm

deacon blues wrote:"Studies of the Book of Mormon" by B. H. Roberts was helpful to me. I'd always been skeptical of the BOM and when I read the book I said to myself, "Finally, someone asks the questions I was afraid to ask." B. H. Roberts was a one of the presidents of the Seventies in the early 20th century, and probably the foremost LDS historian of his day.
I prayed for a spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon all my life and never got one. This book shook me so deeply I prayed to know if Roberts' book is true and got the kind of spiritual witness I expected for the BoM. What was I supposed to take away from that? I took it to mean that I knew the truth about the BoM all along and some part of my brain was telling me it was time to give up on the desperate clinging.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

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MerrieMiss
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Re: Recommended Reading List

Post by MerrieMiss » Sat Dec 03, 2016 5:06 pm

Mormon Enigma

I read it while still TBM many years ago and what I remember from it most is how hated Emma Smith always was at church (I know that's changed a bit now) but after reading Mormon Enigma I believed she was justified in everything she did. I also borrowed it from the home of a man who had been in the Stake Presidency. It never crossed my mind that the book wasn't "okay" to read. Not that it would have mattered. I've always read anything I can get my hands on.
The true opposite of order is not disorder but freedom. Most profoundly, the true opposite of control is not chaos but self-control. -Jay Griffiths

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slk
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Re: Recommended Reading List

Post by slk » Tue Dec 27, 2016 3:31 pm

I picked up RSR a couple days before Christmas for my DF. I called Deseret and they had one copy left and set it aside till I could get there. Didn't have time X-mas day to wrap it so just gave it to DF with the bag it came in. I was a little apprehensive since I didn't know if he had heard of the book. I think having it in the Deseret bag with receipt made him feel it was safe to read. Surprisingly he claims he hadn't heard of the book but said he would read it. My goal was to finish reading it before him but I got pretty busy. Hoping to have some fun conversations while we ice fish together over the next few months.

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moksha
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Re: Recommended Reading List

Post by moksha » Mon Jan 02, 2017 4:07 am

There was a short story I posted on the old board by Ursula Le Guin that helps in exploring our values and choices. Here is that same story once again. Hope you find it helpful.

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas
From The Wind's Twelve Quarters: Short Stories
by Ursula Le Guin

With a clamor of bells that set the swallows soaring, the Festival of Summer came to the
city Omelas, bright-towered by the sea. The rigging of the boats in harbor sparkled with flags. In
the streets between houses with red roofs and painted walls, between old moss-grown gardens
and under avenues of trees, past great parks and public buildings, processions moved. Some were
decorous: old people in long stiff robes of mauve and gray, grave master workmen, quiet, merry
women carrying their babies and chatting as they walked. In other streets the music beat faster, a
shimmering of gong and tambourine, and the people went dancing, the procession was a dance.
Children dodged in and out, their high calls rising like the swallows' crossing flights, over the
music and the singing. All the processions wound towards the north side of the city, where on the
great water-meadow called the Green' Fields boys and girls, naked in the bright air, with mudstained
feet and ankles and long, lithe arms, exercised their restive horses before the race. The
horses wore no gear at all but a halter without a bit. Their manes were braided with streamers of
silver, gold, and green. They flared their nostrils and pranced and boasted to one another; they
were vastly excited, the horse being the only animal who has adopted our ceremonies as his own.
Far off to the north and west the mountains stood up half encircling Omelas on her bay. The air
of morning was so clear that the snow still crowning the Eighteen Peaks burned with white-gold
fire across the miles of sunlit air, under the dark blue of the sky. There was just enough wind to
make the banners that marked the racecourse snap and flutter now and then. In the silence of the
broad green meadows, one could hear the music winding through the city streets, farther and
nearer and ever approaching, a cheerful faint sweetness of the air that from time to time trembled
and gathered together and broke out into the great joyous clanging of the bells.

Joyous! How is one to tell about joy? How describe the citizens of Omelas?
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

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moksha
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Re: Recommended Reading List

Post by moksha » Mon Jan 02, 2017 4:08 am

They were not simple folk, you see, though they were happy. But we do not say the
words of cheer much any more. All smiles have become archaic. Given a description such as this
one tends to make certain assumptions. Given a description such as this one tends to look next
for the King, mounted on a splendid stallion and surrounded by his noble knights, or perhaps in a
golden litter borne by great-muscled slaves. But there was no king. They did not use swords, or
keep slaves. They were not barbarians. I do not know the rules and laws of their society, but I
suspect that they were singularly few. As they did without monarchy and slavery, so they also
got on without the stock exchange, the advertisement, the secret police, and the bomb. Yet I
repeat that these were not simple folk, not dulcet shepherds, noble savages, bland utopians. They
were not less complex than us. The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants
and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual,
only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and
the terrible boredom of pain. If you can't lick 'em, join 'em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise
despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have
almost lost hold; we can no longer describe a happy man, nor make any celebration of joy. How
can I tell you about the people of Omelas? They were not naive and happy children – though
their children were, in fact, happy. They were mature, intelligent, passionate adults whose lives
were not wretched. O miracle! but I wish I could describe it better. I wish I could convince you.
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

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moksha
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Re: Recommended Reading List

Post by moksha » Mon Jan 02, 2017 4:10 am

Omelas sounds in my words like a city in a fairy tale, long ago and far away, once upon a time.
Perhaps it would be best if you imagined it as your own fancy bids, assuming it will rise to the
occasion, for certainly I cannot suit you all. For instance, how about technology? I think that
there would be no cars or helicopters in and above the streets; this follows from the fact that the
people of Omelas are happy people. Happiness is based on a just discrimination of what is
necessary, what is neither necessary nor destructive, and what is destructive. In the middle
category, however – that of the unnecessary but undestructive, that of comfort, luxury,
exuberance, etc. -- they could perfectly well have central heating, subway trains,. washing
machines, and all kinds of marvelous devices not yet invented here, floating light-sources,
fuelless power, a cure for the common cold. Or they could have none of that: it doesn't matter.
As you like it. I incline to think that people from towns up and down the coast have been coming
into Omelas during the last days before the Festival on very fast little trains and double-decked
trams, and that the train station of Omelas is actually the handsomest building in town, though
plainer than the magnificent Farmers' Market. But even granted trains, I fear that Omelas so far
strikes some of you as goody-goody. Smiles, bells, parades, horses, bleh. If so, please add an
orgy. If an orgy would help, don't hesitate. Let us not, however, have temples from which issue
beautiful nude priests and priestesses already half in ecstasy and ready to copulate with any man
or woman, lover or stranger who desires union with the deep godhead of the blood, although that
was my first idea. But really it would be better not to have any temples in Omelas – at least, not
manned temples. Religion yes, clergy no. Surely the beautiful nudes can just wander about,
offering themselves like divine souffles to the hunger of the needy and the rapture of the flesh.
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

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moksha
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Re: Recommended Reading List

Post by moksha » Mon Jan 02, 2017 4:10 am

Let them join the processions. Let tambourines be struck above the copulations, and the glory of
desire be proclaimed upon the gongs, and (a not unimportant point) let the offspring of these
delightful rituals be beloved and looked after by all. One thing I know there is none of in Omelas
is guilt. But what else should there be? I thought at first there were no drugs, but that is
puritanical. For those who like it, the faint insistent sweetness of drooz may perfume the ways of
the city, drooz which first brings a great lightness and brilliance to the mind and limbs, and then
after some hours a dreamy languor, and wonderful visions at last of the very arcana and inmost
secrets of the Universe, as well as exciting the pleasure of sex beyond all belief; and it is not
habit-forming. For more modest tastes I think there ought to be beer. What else, what else
belongs in the joyous city? The sense of victory, surely, the celebration of courage. But as we did
without clergy, let us do without soldiers. The joy built upon successful slaughter is not the right
kind of joy; it will not do; it is fearful and it is trivial. A boundless and generous contentment, a
magnanimous triumph felt not against some outer enemy but in communion with the finest and
fairest in the souls of all men everywhere and the splendor of the world's summer; this is what
swells the hearts of the people of Omelas, and the victory they celebrate is that of life. I really
don't think many of them need to take drooz.
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

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