10 questions and answers about Joseph Smith and seer stones

While working on a review of a book about Joseph Smith and seer stones, my daughter came home from church and told me they had talked about seer stones in Sunday School. “The teacher said we should believe Joseph Smith was a prophet,” she said, “even though he made mistakes like using seer stones.”

The comment provided a good opportunity to discuss how seer stones were not a mistake, but rather a common tool of the age in which Joseph Smith lived – though he certainly came to use seer stones in ways previously unheard of.

It also gave us more time to talk about how new thoughts can appear threatening and we should be patient with those who are trying to reconcile historical truths with religious beliefs.

Seer stone, Photo Source: josephsmithpapers.org

The following 10-question Q&A was originally published in the Deseret News on Feb. 26, 2017. Continue reading “10 questions and answers about Joseph Smith and seer stones”

10 questions with R. Eric Smith (addendum)

After receiving interview responses from R. Eric Smith and Matthew J. Grow for an upcoming “10 questions,” it occurred to me I may have forgotten an important question.

Experts are often asked the same questions over and over. Yet are there questions they wish someone would ask?

As it relates to the Council of Fifty minutes, I asked R. Eric Smith this very question in an addendum to the “10 questions” interview.

Photo courtesy of R. Eric Smith

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10 questions with Russell Shorto

In January 2018, I had the privilege to interview Russell Shorto for “10 questions.” Shorto is the author of Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom.

Shorto is noted for his work in narrative history. He is the author of six books, a contributor to the New Yorker, and is currently contemplating a historical work – about the present.

Photo courtesy of Russell Shorto

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Book Review – The Council of Fifty: What the records reveal about Mormon history

“The Council of Fifty: What the Records Reveal About Mormon History,” is a timely book published by BYU’s Religious Studies Center. While the minutes of the council were published in their totality via the Joseph Smith Papers in 2016, they still remain somewhat inaccessible to general readers. “The Council of Fifty” contains 15 essays by leading scholars about relevant topics of interest.

 

A companion article to this review will appear shortly in the Deseret News under the title, “Five fascinating facts about the Council of Fifty.”

I am pleased to announce the editors of this compilation, Matthew J. Grow and R. Eric Smith, will be participating in the “10 questions” interview series on Continue reading “Book Review – The Council of Fifty: What the records reveal about Mormon history”

10 questions with S. Kent Brown

In December 2017 / January 2018, I had the privilege to interview S. Kent Brown, an emeritus professor of ancient studies at BYU.

My contact with Brown stemmed from an interview with Philip Jenkins wherein he mentioned scholars at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship who were studying the same time period as he covered in his book, Crucible of Faith. After contacting the Maxwell Institute I was eventually put in touch with Brown, who has done some work on the period of 250 BCE to 50  CE, including the publication of The Lost 500 Years: What Happened Between the Old and New Testaments.

S. Kent Brown

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