I recently had the opportunity to meet with the editors of this latest volume and see some of the included documents firsthand. The volume covers the first four and a half months of 1844, ending just 43 days before Joseph Smith’s death. There will be one more volume published after this, and then the series will be finished. There are 99 documents, including letters to (mostly) and from Joseph Smith, discourses, a short revelation, and a poem he wrote in an autograph book. During the time period covered, Joseph started the Council of Fifty, announced his presidential campaign, dealt with increasing hostility from various sources including former church members, and brought forth new doctrine, among other things. [Read more…] about The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 14: 1 January–15 May 1844
Book Review: Into the Headwinds: Why Belief Has Always Been Hard―and Still Is
Thank Goodness for Headwinds
by Meagan Kohler
Do you believe in God? How do you know?
In their new book, Into the Headwinds: Why Belief Has Always Been Hard―and Still Is (Eerdman’s Publishing), Terryl and Nathaniel Givens recount a story about a friend who was sincerely convinced the Second Coming would take place within twenty years. Yet, why was he actively contributing to a retirement fund that would not be accessible until some twenty years after he believed the world, as we know it, would end? The Givenses make a strong case for an unsettling possibility: many of us sincerely profess beliefs we don’t actually hold, and we can’t recognize the hollowness of those beliefs until they cost us something. [Read more…] about Book Review: Into the Headwinds: Why Belief Has Always Been Hard―and Still Is
Under the Banner of Heaven: Fact vs Fiction
Today a new television series has been released titled Under the Banner of Heaven. It is based on a best-selling book by that same name, published in 2003, written by Jon Krakauer.
The book, and now the television series, talks about the 1984 horrific murders of Brenda Lafferty, and her 15-month-old daughter Erica, by Dan and Ron Lafferty in American Fork Utah. The theme of Jon Krakauer’s book is that Dan and Ron’s religious upbringing in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the underlying cause for what they did. Krakauer, an atheist, believes that since bad things are sometimes done in the name of religion, religion breeds violence.
This series will likely lead to questions from your friends and family members. We’ve created a page of resources. Here are a few things to be aware of: [Read more…] about Under the Banner of Heaven: Fact vs Fiction
Faithfully Informed Podcast #2 – Interview with Sarah Allen, author of 60+ part “CES Letter” Rebuttal
Podcast: Download (8.7MB)
Sarah Allen has been writing a 60+ part series of articles responding to the “CES Letter” at r/lds on Reddit, which is now also being published on the FAIR blog. In this interview with Amber Rothamer, she talks about how she got started and the experiences she’s had over more than a year in writing the rebuttal.
Sarah’s “CES Letter” response series can be found on the FAIR website here:
Sarah Allen is brand new in her affiliation with FAIR. By profession, she works in mortgage compliance and is a freelance copyeditor. A voracious reader, she loves studying the Gospel and the history of the restored Church. After watching some of her lose their testimonies, she became interested in helping others through their faith crises and began sharing what she learned through her studies. She’s grateful to those at FAIR who have given her the opportunity to share her testimony with a wider audience.
Amber Rothamer currently operates as the Project Manager at FAIR, streamlining the volunteer application process and organizing the many operations of FAIR into easy to manage teams led by its volunteer base. Amber has over 5 years experience spearheading marketing campaigns for radio and social media as a social media marketing manager, and specializes in written and visual content creation. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University Idaho where she majored in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in music and worked for both the school paper and the school radio station. Amber is driven by a passion to connect people through effective communication both professionally and personally. At home she focuses on building her young family of herself, her husband, and infant son, on open and honest communication. When Amber is blessed with free time, she enjoys traveling with her family, family history, and singing songs for her son.
“Under the Banner of Heaven” Redux
(Updated 4/28/2022 – Please see our new post at https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/blog/2022/04/28/under-the-banner-of-heaven-fact-vs-fiction)
“Under the Banner of Heaven” is not only a slap in the face of modern Latter-day Saints but also a misrepresentation of religion in general. – Robert L. Millet
This book is not history, and Krakauer is no historian. He is a storyteller who cuts corners to make the story sound good. – Mike Otterson
Although the book may appeal to gullible persons who rise to such bait like trout to a fly hook, serious readers who want to understand Latter-day Saints and their history need not waste their time on it. – Richard E. Turley Jr.
[H]is obvious biases against both religion in general and the Church of Jesus Christ in particular have made the book nothing more than a flawed, sensationalistic work… – Craig L. Foster
A book called Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer was published in 2003. It has now been made into a miniseries that will be available for streaming from Hulu later this month. Here are some resources available regarding the claims made in the book:
- FAIR Response to Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
- Church Response to Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven
- The Krakauer Journal by Allen Wyatt
- Faulty History: A Review of Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Richard E. Turley
- Reflections on Mountain Meadows by Richard E. Turley, given at the 2007 FAIR Conference
The Deseret News now has an article on the series:
Have a question? Contact us here.
Book Review: The Joseph Smith Papers Revelations and Translations Volume 5: Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon (Facsimile Edition)
This is one of the larger (a little over 9 inches by 12 inches) facsimile editions in the Joseph Smith Papers series. Weighing nearly 10 pounds, with 800 pages, I believe it is the largest single book in the series. It may fit better on a table than a shelf, and is certainly easiest to peruse that way. But it is a fitting presentation of the extant pieces of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon.
Unfortunately, only around 28 percent of the original manuscript still exists, and most of it is in very poor condition. It was stored for safekeeping in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House in 1841, but when it was found over 40 years later during a remodel by Lewis Bidamon, it had been badly damaged due to the cornerstone apparently not being weatherproof despite precautions that had been taken. Bidamon gradually gave bits and pieces of it away over the years to visitors, but most of what remains is thought to now be at the Church History Library, the Wilford Wood Museum, and the University of Utah. [Read more…] about Book Review: The Joseph Smith Papers Revelations and Translations Volume 5: Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon (Facsimile Edition)
Book Review: “In the Hands of the Lord: The Life of Dallin H. Oaks”
This biography of Dallin H. Oaks was written by Richard E. Turley, Jr., who has been associated with Oaks throughout most of his (Turley’s) professional life. Turley has served as the Director of the Church History Department (originally selected to work for the department by Oaks), Assistant Church Historian, and Director of Public Affairs. He has previously written or co-written several other books, including Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hoffman Case and Massacre at Mountain Meadows: An American Tragedy.
Dallin Harris Oaks was born August 12, 1932 in Provo, Utah. He got his middle name from his mom’s side of the family, who was descended from a brother of Martin Harris. He grew up in Provo; Twin Falls, Idaho; Payson (where he stayed with his grandparents at times due to the death of his father when he was 7); and Vernal. He came close to dying several times in his childhood, beginning with his birth, with miraculous preservation of his life occurring each time. [Read more…] about Book Review: “In the Hands of the Lord: The Life of Dallin H. Oaks”
Book Review: The Joseph Smith Papers Documents, Volume 12: March-July 1843
This volume of the Joseph Smith Papers contains 96 representative documents from the period of March – July 1841. During this time period, Joseph continued having legal problems with Missouri, the Kinderhook Plates were found, he led the Nauvoo Legion, construction continued on the Nauvoo House and temple, and he taught about the temple, eternal marriage, and plural marriage. Meanwhile Nauvoo continued to grow, and the church grew outside of Nauvoo and outside of the United States.
One document that I thought showed an interesting side of Joseph Smith’s personality was a response to a letter he had received from Abraham Jonas of Columbus, Illinois, asking to borrow a cannon. He wanted it for use in celebrating the failure of the establishment of a new county. Joseph’s response was to grant permission, along with a note at the end saying “Five hund[r]ed cannons you should have if I had them” (page 112). [Read more…] about Book Review: The Joseph Smith Papers Documents, Volume 12: March-July 1843
Book Review: The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 11: September 1842 – February 1843
This volume of the Documents series of the Joseph Smith Papers covers a period of time when Joseph Smith hid from attempts to arrest and extradite him to Missouri while trying to lead Nauvoo and the Church. He then had a legal victory which enabled him to come out of hiding and attend to many items of business, including continuing to teach the Saints and becoming mayor of Nauvoo. The collection of 105 documents includes letters, poems, discourses, deeds, notices, meeting minutes, affidavits, songs, etc. These combine to paint an interesting picture of a very busy time in Joseph’s life.
Among the illustrations in the introduction is a sketch of Joseph Smith by local artist Benjamin West, done during an extradition hearing in Springfield, Illinois, in January 1843. It is unknown whether it was meant to be accurate or more of a caricature, but it does match written descriptions of Joseph (see https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/new-era/2005/12/what-did-joseph-smith-really-look-like?lang=eng). [Read more…] about Book Review: The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 11: September 1842 – February 1843
Q&A with editors of Producing Ancient Scripture: Joseph Smith’s Translation Projects in the Development of Mormon Christianity
This book includes a mixture of scholarship about all of Joseph Smith’s translation projects, including the highly anticipated paper by Thomas A. Wayment and Haley Wilson-Lemmon on the use of the Clarke Commentary in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. We had the opportunity to discuss the book with Michael Hubbard MacKay and Mark Ashurst-McGee. A review of the book will be forthcoming.
Q1: What is the purpose of the book?
Mike and Mark: The book was conceived as an attempt to cover all of the various Joseph Smith translation projects—not only the Book of Mormon and the “New Translation” of the Bible and the Book of Abraham but also the excerpt from the new account of John (D&C 7), the excerpt from the “record of John” (in D&C 93), the Kinderhook plates, and anything else. This had actually never been done before—at least not at this depth. [Read more…] about Q&A with editors of Producing Ancient Scripture: Joseph Smith’s Translation Projects in the Development of Mormon Christianity