Rediscovering the First Vision

Review of: Matthew B. Christensen, The First Vision: A Harmonization of Ten Accounts from the Sacred Grove (Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort Inc., 2014). 51 pp., no index. $14.99.

The First Vision: A Harmonization of Ten Accounts from the Sacred Grove is a small book, richly illustrated, which provides even the most diligent students of the vision with a fresh and rewarding experience. Boasting a back dust jacket endorsement from none other than Richard Bushman — the dean of Joseph Smith scholars in the early twenty-first century1 — this small, stylishly designed book is, in my opinion, the best way to introduce Latter-day Saints to the various accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision. Continue reading

An Easier Way to Understanding Joseph Smith’s Polygamy

Review of Brian C. Hales and Laura H. Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2015, 198 pages + index.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ history of plural marriage can be difficult and uncomfortable for even the most stalwart of modern members. Because of the Internet and easy access to both accurate and inaccurate information, accidental discovery and/or inadequate teachings about the Church’s history and relationship to plural marriage have caused crises of faith which have alienated members of the Church and, in many cases, led to their eventual departure from the faith. Anti-Mormons and critics of the Church are constantly pushing and picking at members’ faith in order to plant seeds of doubt and to destroy members’ testimonies. Plural marriage has proven to be a prime weapon because knowing only a little of the truth can be devastating.1 Continue reading

Providing a Better Understanding for All Concerning the History of Joseph Smith’s Polygamy

Review of Brian C. Hales and Laura H. Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2015, 198 pages + index.

I grew up in a family that discussed Joseph Smith’s polygamy relatively openly. Don’t get me wrong: it wasn’t a topic brought up while we were eating dinner, but when we talked about our genealogy it was almost inevitably mentioned. This is because I am descended by blood through Brigham Young, but my sealing lines are through Joseph Smith. I am a descendent of Emily Partridge, and her children were considered to be Joseph Smith’s even though they were born many years after the martyrdom. I am sure when I was really young, I didn’t understand the reasoning behind that, but by the time I was a teenager I was well aware Joseph Smith was a polygamist. Continue reading

A Welcome Introduction

Review of Brian C. Hales and Laura H. Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2015, 198 pages + index.

Introduction1

Brian C. Hales has established himself as an authority on Latter-day Saint plural marriage. Following his initial award-winning work on “fundamentalist” plural marriage,2 Hales produced an impressive and exhaustive three-volume history of Joseph Smith’s polygamy and its attendant theology.3 (Throughout the review, when referring to this longer work, I will denominate it JSP.) Continue reading