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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90 Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought provided samples of Martin Harris's handwriting, and he procured a photograph of Emma Smith's handwriting, both of which would be needed to authenticate the pages penned by Joseph's two earliest scribes. Hofmann pursued a set of 116 pages in Bakersfield, California, but later said that what he found was a forgery. He provided two pages of his notes to collector Brent Ash worth. He told another friend, Brent Metcalfe, about the Bakersfield forgery and referred to another set of pages that "might be real." He gave Metcalfe quotes from the "Book of Lehi" over the telephone. Metcalfe, who had shared his own ideas with Mark, found Hofmann's quotes remarkably consistent with a "theology of money-digging" that Metcalfe saw in the Book of Mormon. One quote from page four of Hofmann's "Book of Lehi" notes reads, "He [God] should cause to be found certain treasures in the hole of the earth, and out of the earth the righteous shall prosper." On pages 5 and 6, salt mines, gold, silver and jewels are mentioned. The present monetary worth of the 116 pages would have been inestimable, and several Church leaders actually expressed an interest in them. A journal entry written 28 June 1985 by Steven F. Christensen recounts how Elder Hugh Pinnock asked Hofmann to find the pages. Hofmann needed no invitation, however, since that discovery was a very early stated goal. 6. The 1829 letter by Lucy Mack Smith to Mary Pierce which surfaced in 1982 was welcomed enthusiastically by the Church (Interviews, Exhibit D). In it, the Prophet's mother offers a religious context for the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and describes her son's translation process. It even alludes to material from the lost 116 pages. Hofmann's testimonial letters from Martin Harris and David Whitmer to Walter Conrad also appeared in 1982 capping a three-year period during which Hofmann was pedestaled and honored as the discoverer of hallowed proofs of the validity of historical Mormon claims. The money-digging documents began to surface the following year. The key Hofmann documents — real and unseen — after 1983 introduced several other themes at odds with traditional history. The salamander and Stowell letters portrayed Joseph Smith as a practitioner of folk religion, familiar with the occult. Indeed, USU Institute instructor Rhett James cryptically observed of the Hofmann document phenomenon that there arose a sort of evangelistic spirit among historians that may have overwhelmed their historical objectivity. It became fashionable to think in terms of folk magic. Most disturbing, the salamander letter replaced the numinous personage Moroni with a pugnacious "white salamander in the bottom of the hole" that transfigures itself into a spirit, strikes Joseph three times, asks him to bring his brother Alvin, who is dead, and intones, "I tricked you," when he interferes with Joseph's ability to see in his "stone" as the "Old Spirit" directed (Interviews, Exhibit 0). Yet LDS historians found contextual support for the salamander and money digging letters, and even spiritual connotations to explain the allusions to magic. Historian D. Michael Quinn has declared that God has, in every millennia, had his prophets employ what we call magic in manifesting God's