Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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Dialogue: Vol 7 No 2
An Uncertain Voice in the Wilderness: Sidney Rigdon, Religious Reformer by Mark McKiernon
REVIEWS Edited by Davis Bitton An Uncertain Voice in the Wilderness Marvin S. Hill The Voice of one Crying in the Wilderness: Sidney Rigdon, Religious Reformer, 1793-1876. By F. Mark McKiernan. Lawrence, Kansas: Coronado Press, 1972. $7.50. When so many biographies of early Mormons are made immaculate (and superficial) by filial piety, it borders on the tragic when an historian seeking to write an objective life of Sidney Rigdon fails in many ways to expand or deepen our understanding. Despite the inclusion of a much needed chapter on Rigdon's post-1844 career, F. Mark McKiernan's The Voice of one Crying in the Wilderness: Sidney Rigdon Religious Reformer is disappointing. Its deficiencies often seem rooted in the academician's perilous prerequisite — publish or perish. McKiernan, professor of history at Idaho State University, may have allowed the pressures for productivity to affect the publication of a study which in many ways seems unfinished. The volume shows signs of haste: factual and interpretive errors, clumsy writing, poor conceptualization, inadequate research. What might have been an important contribution is often no more than a rehash of well known history, history at times related but incidentally to Sidney Rigdon. Factual mistakes mar the book. Contrary to McKiernan, there is evidence in the ledger book of the Kirtland Safety Society at the Chicago Historical Society that only a few Mormons, and not the major dissenters, lost money in the bank (p. 78). Opposition to the bank and to Joseph Smith in 1837 must be explained on other grounds. Alexander Doniphan's bill to organize a Mormon county passed the Missouri legislature in 1836 but did not, as McKiernan affirms (p. 81), encompass Ray and Daviess counties. Lilburn W. Boggs successfully opposed the original bill and restricted the Saints to Caldwell County. Failure to perceive this makes the Mormon war of 1838 difficult to explain. Joseph Smith was tried before Austin A. King in September, 1838, but in a farmhouse in Caldwell County, where he felt secure, rather than at Richmond as McKiernan maintains (p. 90). The names of Joseph Smith and Nancy Rigdon, as Benjamin Winchester suggests, were first linked in Kirtland, not Nauvoo (pp. 113-115). McKiernan misjudges the reason for Rigdon's excommunication in 1844, designating it "partisanship" (p. 155). But there was more than partisanship involved since Rigdon had initiated his own movement by ordaining prophets, priests and kings, thus threatening the unity of the Church. Rigdon's 54