All is as dark as Egypt!

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græy
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All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by græy » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:04 pm

I just finished listening to Bill Reel's rebroadcast of his episode on the seer stone. Somewhere towards the end he mentions the story where Martin Harris finds a river stone somewhat similar to JS's seer stone, and proceeds to replace the stone in the hat with the one from the river. As Joseph comes back he peers into the hat eager for more of that sweet sweet revelation, but there is none to be seen. He exclaims, "“Martin! What is the matter? All is as dark as Egypt!” (Millenial Start 44:87 - https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/c ... ar/id/5128).

Bill argues that one could find faith in this story because if Joseph was making everything up and not using his particular magical stone to see the characters, then he would have likely just kept making stuff up. On the other hand, if the one and only true seer stone actually worked as he claimed, then the counterfeit would obviously fail and he would be unable to translate. Lo and behold, that is exactly what happened. Yay, Faith!

Of course that all presupposes that Joseph did not know that the stone had been replaced. Bill notes that while lowing your head into the hat, there is ample time and light to see the rock in the bottom of the hat. The seer stone, being a rock that Joseph had carried around for years and had spent much time looking at and into, would be very well known to him. Every curve, every band of color would be familiar to JS. Given that, it would not be hard for JS to recognize the change, and being the smart swindler that he is, play along with Martin's little game and give himself an extra boost of credibility.

However, I don't think we even need to go that far. Most members today would classify folk-magic along the same lines as black-magic. We tend to lump it in with palm readers, tarot card readers, and whatever people who use crystal balls are called. No TBM that I've spoken with really believes that any of those things work today. In fact, most would call them scams or possibly fraud. So how do we justify an exception for JS and his special rock?

Many faithful members refer to the stone as a revelation trainer of sorts, given to help young Joseph build faith in his ability to commune with the divine. That is, JS's faith in himself and his ability to receive direction or revelation from beyond the veil was first founded in, and strengthened through, his use of the seer stone. Over time JS outgrew the need for the rock and developed the ability to receive revelation directly into his own mind.

In Rough Stone Rolling (pg 54) Dr. Bushman says
Magic had served its purpose in his life. In a sense, it was a preparatory gospel.
In his Master's thesis A Pathway to Prophethood: Joseph Smith Junior as Rodsman, Village Seer, and Judeo-Christian Prophet, Mark Ashurst-McGee (cited in the GT Essay on Book of Mormon Translation) says
...Joseph no longer needed seer stones to see visions, and had grown in his abilities of seership.
Side note: McGee cites his belief that JS originally used the U&T crystals (or whatever they were) for translation. But that since the spectacles were far too large, he took the crystals out of their frames and put them into his hat. Later, for... reasons... he switched to the seer stone we know and love today. Oddly enough, he refers several times to the brown seer stone as the "less powerful" device, but never explains why one stone might be less "powerful" than any other.

To me, this explanation alludes to the notion that there is not and never was anything special about the rock JS used. It was merely a prop that JS could use to focus his pre-existent faith, a conduit through which he could learn to receive revelation.

This idea is strengthened by the fact the while we still have the "less powerful" brown seer stone (and supposedly other, more power stones) in our possession, none of the current prophets, revelators, or seers use them. If something like a seer stone actually worked, why wouldn't we use it now? Surely some of our modern church leaders lack the super faith of Joseph Smith. Wouldn't a seer stone help them fine tune their revelatory abilities as it had done before? Regardless, modern day seer stones are not used. They are recognized as simple rocks. Some may have fascinating geological histories, but they are still just rocks.

Now back to JS and Harris' counterfeit. If the brown seer stone were merely a prop which allowed JS to focus his faith and there was in fact nothing special about the particular brown seer stone outside of JS's belief that it was special, then why would a false stone make any difference? Joseph, firmly believing he had the correct rock, would have still focused his faith and translated. The only explanation then is that God (or somebody) really truly and in actuality has imbued certain rocks with special abilities. And if that's the case, why the hell aren't those super special magic rocks the most sought-after objects on the planet?

...

Sorry, this turned out waaay to long to cough out a simple rant. Thanks for listening!
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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Hagoth
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by Hagoth » Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:21 pm

I agree with your assessment that Joseph spotted the trick right away and saw the opportunity to boost Harris' credulity by doing exactly what Martin was hoping for. The brown seer stone is a very unique rock (a dinosaur gastrolith tiger's eye). Martin could not possibly have casually found another just lying around. Martin my have thought it was close enough but Joseph would have seen through it immediately. Alternatively, Harris could have wildly exaggerated what actually happened. The man did see Jesus in the form of a deer, was attacked by Satan in the form of a raspberry bush, and saw the angel attesting to the truthfulness of the Shakers' book, after all.

I like the point you make about modern prophets. Maybe if they listened to Richard Bushman they would start using the rock to hone their prophetic. If prophets had kept following Joseph's example maybe we wouldn't still be waiting, after over 100 years, for another revelation. It kind of leads you to assume that they really don't believe it very deep under the surface.

ETA: Egypt isn't particularly dark ;)
“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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moksha
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by moksha » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:03 pm

This story helped to illustrate that the power was in the seer stone, not Joseph Smith. Praise to the seer stone who communed with Jehovah.
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
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Reuben
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by Reuben » Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:42 am

I have a friend who showed me his seer stone. He didn't show it to many people. He might have thought himself a prophet in training then, but had a FC and left the church a few years before I did.

It's a good question, though. If folk magic is like training wheels, why doesn't everyone do it? The paucity of communication from heaven clearly indicates a need.
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2bizE
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by 2bizE » Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:17 am

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I theorize that a rock is just a rock. Some are prettier than others. Some are rough and some smooth, but in the end, they are just rocks.
~2bizE

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jfro18
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by jfro18 » Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:31 am

I actually agree that Joseph's treasure digging was just practice and preparation as Bushman claims, but that it basically prepared him to start a religion when he realized he couldn't do the "sorry the treasure just slipped away" thing all his life.

And yes, the current leaders are sustained as seers, but they don't have any revelations like Joseph did nor do they have any ability to translate or reveal new scripture/doctrines.

It's really obvious why that is once you can take that step back... it's actually just silly when you think about it.

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Hermey
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by Hermey » Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:52 am

Hagoth wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:21 pm
....The man did see Jesus in the form of a deer, was attacked by Satan in the form of a raspberry bush, and saw the angel attesting to the truthfulness of the Shakers' book, after all....”

Ohh, myyy. 😂

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1smartdodog
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by 1smartdodog » Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:13 am

So why would God have to do all this super special training to talk to someone. The first telephone was easier to use and more reliable to get a voice from afar. How about god giving joseph an iphone or communicator from Star Trek. That would be more fantastic and believable.

The idea that a rock talks is silly. If they did Steve Jobs would have never been a big deal.


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RubinHighlander
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by RubinHighlander » Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:29 am

As one who picks up a lot of rocks, brings them home, polishes them, studies them, etc., I can say that a rock found in a river would not compare to a gastrolith, found while digging a well, especially one from a dinosaur. I've picked up many a gastrolith from S. Utah and there a very definitive, look and feel compared to river polished rocks. Gastroliths are smoother and almost feel greasy. As others pointed out, JS was very familiar with his favorite stone, yet he had no idea just how special it really was, at least in the geology and paleontology aspect of it.
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Hagoth
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by Hagoth » Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:35 am

1smartdodog wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:13 am
. How about god giving joseph an iphone or communicator from Star Trek. That would be more fantastic and believable.
That would be a great question for Elder Uchtdorf.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

Reuben
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by Reuben » Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:07 pm

Wait a minute. Exactly how dark is Egypt?

Was that racist?
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w2mz
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by w2mz » Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:20 pm

God just up and gave Lehi a golden softball to receive instructions. Lehi didn’t even have to go digging for it or anything. Either god is getting cheaper as time goes on or JS got screwed. A rock? Really? You’d think that now with $120B in phat cash god could afford a 4K golden bowling ball for Russ, or at least something nice.
The church has engineered your eternal family into a commodity that can be purchased with an annual fee. The fact that full tithing payment is a requirement for saving ordinances is the biggest red flag imaginable. Hagoth

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Red Ryder
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by Red Ryder » Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:30 am

w2mz wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:20 pm
God just up and gave Lehi a golden softball to receive instructions. Lehi didn’t even have to go digging for it or anything. Either god is getting cheaper as time goes on or JS got screwed. A rock? Really? You’d think that now with $120B in phat cash god could afford a 4K golden bowling ball for Russ, or at least something nice.
You make a good point.

Why the disparity between Lehi and JS?
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Corsair
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by Corsair » Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:40 am

græy wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:04 pm
However, I don't think we even need to go that far. Most members today would classify folk-magic along the same lines as black-magic. We tend to lump it in with palm readers, tarot card readers, and whatever people who use crystal balls are called. No TBM that I've spoken with really believes that any of those things work today. In fact, most would call them scams or possibly fraud. So how do we justify an exception for JS and his special rock?
My seminary teacher strongly hinted that the First Presidency vault contained the Liahona and sword of Laban. Joseph Smith's method of translation would be entirely irrelevant if artifacts like that were produced. It would be firm evidence that something historical was worth examining in the Book of Mormon outside. Apologists and apostles both claim that proof would destroy faith, but they love trotting out the weak evidences like "chiasmus" and "NHM".

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græy
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by græy » Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:50 am

Corsair wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:40 am
My seminary teacher strongly hinted that the First Presidency vault contained the Liahona and sword of Laban. Joseph Smith's method of translation would be entirely irrelevant if artifacts like that were produced. It would be firm evidence that something historical was worth examining in the Book of Mormon outside. Apologists and apostles both claim that proof would destroy faith, but they love trotting out the weak evidences like "chiasmus" and "NHM".
That has always been in the back of my mind too. "We don't seek for signs from God. Now pray about the BoM and God will give you a sign." :roll:
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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jfro18
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by jfro18 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:26 am

Corsair wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:40 am
My seminary teacher strongly hinted that the First Presidency vault contained the Liahona and sword of Laban. Joseph Smith's method of translation would be entirely irrelevant if artifacts like that were produced. It would be firm evidence that something historical was worth examining in the Book of Mormon outside. Apologists and apostles both claim that proof would destroy faith, but they love trotting out the weak evidences like "chiasmus" and "NHM".
I just read a think last week by a troll apologist who made this claim about the Book of Abraham, saying that Joseph Smith actually did get it right, but if it had matched Egyptologists it would've killed the need for faith.

Just imagine the mental gymnastics you need for that... and he wrote page after page on each figure on the facsimiles to try and prove his case. It's like InfoWars meets Flat Earthers.

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Corsair
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by Corsair » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:32 am

jfro18 wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:26 am
I just read a think last week by a troll apologist who made this claim about the Book of Abraham, saying that Joseph Smith actually did get it right, but if it had matched Egyptologists it would've killed the need for faith.
Suppose we had validated evidence for the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham. Perhaps the First Presidency produced the Liahona and the Sword of Laban to a successful third-party validation. Suppose the Book of Abraham scrolls or facsimile actually contained the text of the LDS Book of Abraham as validated by non-LDS Egyptologists. We would still need faith. This is not an uncontested slam dunk for Russell Nelson's favorite church.

At the very least, it would start the earnest discussion and debate over the meaning and implications of the writings of the actual Abraham. We would have enormous interest from Christian, Jewish, and Islamic scholars. This would produce a religious upheaval that might actually be helpful to the world. It would be a century of debate and faith transition as the rest of the world came to grips with validated existence of the founder of universal monotheism. Mormons may have had it first, but the older faiths will quickly muscle in and claim such a profound artifact. I think that validation of the Book of Abraham might be a greater test of faith than the silly posturing we are seeing right now.

At the very least, Russell Nelson would have to directly confront the Community of Christ, FLDS groups, Hedrickites on the Temple Lot, revived Strangites, and even Denver Snuffer over questions of authority. The authority of Joseph Smith might dramatically increase, but this does not magically translate into everyone agreeing on the line of authority down to the present day. It does not mean that Joseph's plural marriage is now A-OK. It does not mean that any spiritual practice or the modern LDS temple ritual is somehow correct. It simply opens up a much bigger can of worms for faith struggle within the LDS church that would be dwarfed by the reaction of the three "Religions of the Book".

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Hagoth
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by Hagoth » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:00 pm

Corsair wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:40 am
My seminary teacher strongly hinted that the First Presidency vault contained the Liahona and sword of Laban. Joseph Smith's method of translation would be entirely irrelevant if artifacts like that were produced. It would be firm evidence that something historical was worth examining in the Book of Mormon outside. Apologists and apostles both claim that proof would destroy faith, but they love trotting out the weak evidences like "chiasmus" and "NHM".
Apostle James E. Faust's nephew told me his uncle recounted to him how he had peeked into the Holy of Holies in the Salt Lake temple when he noticed that the door had been left ajar. He saw "wonderful things" including the sword of Laban. Later I saw Gisbert Bossard's unauthorized 1911 photos and noticed that one of them was a picture of a masonic sword that used to be waved through the veil in an earlier version of that ceremony. Putting two and two together...
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Red Ryder
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by Red Ryder » Thu Feb 13, 2020 4:14 pm

“Hagoth” wrote: Apostle James E. Faust's nephew told me his uncle recounted to him how he had peeked into the Holy of Holies in the Salt Lake temple when he noticed that the door had been left ajar. He saw "wonderful things" including the sword of Laban. Later I saw Gisbert Bossard's unauthorized 1911 photos and noticed that one of them was a picture of a masonic sword that used to be waved through the veil in an earlier version of that ceremony. Putting two and two together...
Bring back the sword! The endowment today needs a little excitement.

I found a picture of the sword if anyone is interested. It’s on the bottom of page 20.

https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-cont ... 9N03_9.pdf
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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wtfluff
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Re: All is as dark as Egypt!

Post by wtfluff » Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:29 pm

Corsair wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:40 am
My seminary teacher strongly hinted that the First Presidency vault contained the Liahona and sword of Laban.
Which "First Presidency Vault" was your Semi-Gnarly teacher talking about? The vault up little cottonwood canyon, or the vault downtown somewhere in the LD$-Inc. compound? These details are important, don't ya know? (Unless of course you are an apologist, then details mean nothing of course.)
Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions. -Frater Ravus

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