Five fascinating facts about the Council of Fifty

The Council of Fifty was a secret organization founded by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1844. The previously inaccessible records — or minutes — kept by the group remained a source of much speculation until they were made public in 2016. A new book titled “The Council of Fifty: What the Records Reveal about Mormon History” contains 15 essays about various topics of interest from the minutes of the council.

Among the many insights shared in the book are five fascinating facts about the Council of Fifty minutes. Continue reading “Five fascinating facts about the Council of Fifty”

Five questions and answers about Parley P. Pratt

The life of Parley P. Pratt is inextricably linked with the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Terryl L. Givens and Matthew J. Grow shed additional light on Pratt’s life and his influence on the early history of the LDS Church in their new biography, “Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism.” The contents of the book, along with a recent lecture by the authors at Benchmark Books in Salt Lake City, provide answers to many questions about Pratt, including the following:

 

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10 questions with John Gee

*Updated: Feb. 2, 2018

In January 2018, I had the privilege to interview John Gee, author of “An Introduction to the Book of Abraham.

Gee is perhaps today’s most well-known Mormon Egyptologist and has been gracious enough to sit down for an interview to share his thoughts and experiences about the intersections of faith and scholarship.

John Gee, courtesy of BYU Religious Studies Center

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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”

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”