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.
Dialogue Foundation, P.O. Box 658, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110-0658
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Peterson, F. Ross ; Peterson, Mary Kay
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A Prophet's Progress: The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith
142 Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought 200 I.Q., particularly in contrast with the salad days when she strode into the office of David O. McKay to make an eloquent case for access to affidavits relating to the Mountain Meadows Massacre, or crossed swords with the ferocious Kate B. Carter over the objective presentation of Mormon history. But Juanita Brooks was, as Sterling McMurrin observed, "a most uncommon woman draped in a very common exterior," and such humdrum details remind us how very common that exterior, and indeed much of her interior, really was. Peterson's objectivity, in the best spirit of Juanita Brooks herself, will not let even her squeak by with a courteous "A" when she deserves a "C minus," and he is gently but firmly critical of the perfunctory projects of her later years. One happy circumstance in Peterson's sharp-eyed coverage of those years, however, is that the friends and editors who helped pick up the slack in her personal and professional life as her powers began to diminish receive their due at last. The last two or three pages of the book, where Peterson describes Brooks's current unfortunate physical and mental circumstances and, in the third person, his own recent visit to her home and bedside, are extremely touching and unforgettable. As he concludes the book with an overall appraisal of her historical and cultural importance, though, one wonders if he does not slip into wishful thinking. "Because of her," he writes, "the collective mind of Mormondom is more liberal and more at peace with itself than it might be otherwise" (p. 422). One has to wonder where the locus of that collective mind exists: at 50 East North Temple? At the offices of Dialogue, Sunstone, or Signature Books? Some Mormons certainly regarded her Mountain Meadows Massacre as a welcome dose of honesty in the otherwise almost exclusively faith-promoting historiography of the Church. Others, perhaps even most Latter-day Saints, clearly did not: how widely utilized are any of her books, for example, in the Church educational system? Mormon historians have gradually found it possible to express themselves more freely since 1950, partly, no doubt because of the appearance of her book in that year, but the "collective mind of Mormondom," statistically at least, still seems overwhelmingly to prefer the torrent of defensive and faith-promoting literature that floods the shelves of Deseret Book outlets. A Prophet's Progress The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith edited by Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984), v, 736 pp., $18.95. An American Prophet's Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith edited by Scott R. Faulring (Salt Lake City: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1987), vii, 504 pp., $50.00. Reviewed by Roger D. Launius, command historian, Military Airlift Command, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. No ONE TODAY KNOWS MORE about the handwriting, letters, and other documents produced by Joseph Smith, Jr., than Dean C. Jessee. Long a careful student of these primary resources, his comprehensive editing of the Prophet's writings demonstrates his expertise on virtually every page. The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, therefore, is a landmark publication. Scott R. Faulring's editing of the diaries and journals of Joseph Smith also makes a significant contribution to the field. These two fine publications clearly contain the best work of this type, and both deserve a place on the bookshelf of any serious student of early Mormon history and its founding prophet. Dean Jessee originally planned to publish all significant holographs, those documents produced wholly by Joseph Smith,