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Are they really called "councils of love"? I've heard that in more than a few places, but it sounds too weird to be true.

Yes, that's what my husband calls them, and it always makes me gag.

Although when I was disfellowshipped eons ago, they were very loving.

I've added Richard Bushman as a person I would love to meet and get stuck on an elevator with and ask lots of questions.

My Stone is still rolling (roughly I might add). I hope to resume reading again and finish off relatively soon. Thanks for your mini review. I would love to see the text as the Priesthood/Relief Society manual for many years . . .what are the chances?

Do you really think NMKMH had as much scope as it had impact? I think the impact resulted mostly from her ties to the Church and the fact it was likely the most scholarly, secular natural explanation for the Prophet then written; however, when all is said and done . . .I still consider NMKMH to be an biased,non flattering publication and portrait of the Prophet. This is what I think makes Bushman's so much more superior. While believing, he still sets for the Prophet in all his humanity and divinity.

I have almost finished. I would have been done at the start of the week if I hadn't forgotten to bring it on the plane with me. I searched the airport in vain for another copy to buy. I should finish this weekend.

The book is amazing. It will never be the P/RS manual but it will influence the way that Church History is taught every four years.

I finished a week or two ago, and found it to be very fine book.

I don't think it would be suitable for RS/PH, and I don't know that it's necessary for every member. Official church discourse is about salvation, and it's not clear that secular-style argumentation and balance are necessary for everyone for salvation. No doubt such will be a necessary and important part of some peoples' spiritual journeys (including mine), but that doesn't mean it should be foisted upon all members. Exposing the entire range of peoples' experience and interest to potential problems they may never otherwise encounter may be both unwise and unnecessary. I have expressed some views on the relationship between secular-style argumentation and balance here .

I agree that Bushman is not one-sided---maybe that means you wouldn't want to use the words "apologist" or "advocate"---but his sympathy for, belief in, and support for Joseph clearly shine through.

I too was gratified by the range of sources cited. He even subtly pointed to Buerger's "Mysteries of Godliness" on the content of the Second Anointing.


Great review! Your reviews always impress me.

on the receiving end of LDS courts of love

LOL! Thanks for the laughter. Side-splitting, man. Love it.

Christian, Buerger's Mysteries of Godliness wasn't exactly "original" although I'll not get into the debate there. I have the book and it is good, albeit very biased in places. (i.e. like the pentacost at the Kirtland temple - one line for the faithful version and a page and a half for the doubters)

Clark, I'm dimly aware it's mostly cobbled together from previous articles of his, and often uses accounts already published elsewhere, if that's what you mean... (though maybe not always, as I recall the Second Anointing material was not a previously published account?)

I've read the book but don't own it. I guess from my conservative upbringing I had the notion that because of the exposing it does (or at least propagates) it would be an inappropriate book to have on one's shelf or draw attention to. Now that Bushman has cited it I feel like I have permission. ;->

Warts and all is a nice way of putting it. Joesph never said he was anything more than a man. A man who had a maverlous experience who spent his life trying to share it, understand it and have others experience the same or similar types of things. He never tried to rule over others though he often over ruled others in the heat of the moment. No doubt he was a man of passion, but in my book Bushman painted him with an even handed brush. "Hail to this man ..." For without him we wouldn't be here this day writing what we write. Good post and review Dave.


Buerger did publish his 2A stuff before the book was out. Check Dialogue 16, vol. 1 (Spring 1983). The book Mysteries of Godliness came a few years later.

I found it to be one of the most helpful books I own. I remember in the opening remarks of the April 2001 general conference, Pres. Hinckley mentioned that the blessings of the temple represent the fulness of the priesthood, and when I asked my stake president whether that meant 2As or not, I got shot down and he actually got mad at me for asking him about it. So I turned to Buerger, and got all the answers I needed and more. Yes, it's a little insensitive because of its use of the colloquial terminology ("2A" vs. "Fulness"), but I found it immensely helpful in my own spiritual development and temple understanding.

Sorry to be off topic (when Dave reviewed Buerger's book, comments were closed).

James Talmage's book on the temple was published in response to a blackmail threat to publish pictures of the SLC temple interior.

I think Church members have a legitimate curiosity about the meaning and history of temple worship. If the Church would seek to fill that need, they could frame the discussion more. Otherwise it is left to people like Buerger--or the internet--to fill in the gaps. Why that might be judged to be preferable, I don't know.

Back to topic: I finished the book a couple of months ago and I have very few gripes.

Hmmm, I don't quite understand how a discussion of the Bushman book turned into a discussion of the Buerger book. It is convenient that it is out there for mainstream LDS authors (like Bushman) to cite to rather than have to enter into a disfavored public discussion of the details.

Jared, I closed comments to my post on Mysteries of Godliness because of my uncertainty about where comment discussion would go on that topic. Maybe that marks me as a mainstream LDS blogger?

Oh, I understood exactly why you closed comments. And I think you were certainly justified--I'm not casting judgment, just taking the opportunity to say what I would have said then.

David J, it doesn't surprise me that Buerger's 2A material had been previously published in an article of his. What I wasn't sure of (again, I only got the book from a library and don't have it to refer to) was whether his 1983 article published new accounts of the 2A material, or whether he only collected exposures previously published elsewhere.

Sorry about the threadjack, Dave... it started as a comment on Bushman's breadth of sources that you noted.

I was more thinking of the reliance on Ehat's thesis which I don't think is credited in the book.


I spoke with Ehat once about Buerger's book, and apparently the two had discussed some things, but nothing was ever taken into print. However, the book does carry intimations of Ehat's thesis to the core. I theorize that the "private conversation" with the "anonymous" indivdual quoted near the bottom of page 66 (hardback edition) might be Ehat, but I don't have any proof. Or maybe Gary Barnes.

Dave, dude, sorry about thread-jacking this thing. RSR, so far (I'm on page 48), is a good read, although I prefer footnotes instead of endnotes (even large footnotes are OK with me -- ever read Schürer's History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ? -- huge footnotes). I hate using two bookmarks.

David J., my method was to read an entire chapter, then separately go read the endnotes for the entire chapter. FWIW, I found RSR slow going for the first four chapters or so, but then the pace picked up.

slow going for the first four chapters or so

Dave, I'm finding the same thing. I've fallen asleep twice so far. He goes into Lucy Mack more than I need, though there are probably others who feel it's a great way to begin. I wish I could use your method for endnote reading, except I get lost when I do that, forgetting which note I'm reading. Alas, if the endnote doesn't spark my interest right away, I usually don't look back at it.

I was wondering -- do you have anything on the supposed later date for the First Vision? He has a blythe footnote about an 1823/1824 theory, but I haven't found the time to look it up. Here's why I ask: I liked that someone wanted to push the date out a bit because it gives Joseph a little bit more maturity (the 14 year olds I know are... not like Joseph), and it also lines up well with the Moroni visitations: he sees God in the Spring, then sees Moroni that same year in the Fall (on the day of the equinox, oddly enough). Does this make sense?

Thanks, man.

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