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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112 Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought ask him about plural marriage in Nauvoo. Blair's diary is revealing: "J[oseph] did te[ach] p[olygamy] and pr[actice] too. That E[mma] knos it too that she put [the] hand — of wives [in] Jos. hand. W[hitehead] says Alex H. Smith asked him ... if J[oseph] did P[ractice] and tea[ch] P[olygamy] and he, W[hitehead] told him he did." Blair apparently confronted both Joseph and Alexander Smith with this information, but they seem to have made no response at any time to it (W. W. Blair, 13, 17 June 1874). Many called Smith stubborn for refusing to admit that his father had initiated plural marriage. Zenos Gurley chastised him: "You absolutely refuse to believe the evidence that would convict [your father]" (Gurley, 6 Apr. 1879). When challenged in this way he typically responded, as he did to J. J. Barbour on 15 May 1878: "I am not positive nor sure that he was innocent" (Letterbook 1). When pressed further, Smith was known to have reacted more forcefully on occasion. For instance, Gurley questioned Smith's integrity and Joseph Smith III responded, "I tell you, brother, I have been cut to the quick, when brethren have affirmed that I did know that my father was guilty of practicing polygamy; and denied it because I was obstinate, and sinned against light and knowledge in so denying" (24 July 1879, Letter-book 2). This placed Gurley on the defensive and prompted him to seek a reconciliation (Gurley 1879). Gurley's reconciliation was only temporary, however; eventually he was dropped from his position as an apostle and, in 1886, withdrew from the movement, in part over the issue of plural marriage (Vlahos 1971). Joseph Smith III admitted insufficient information concerning the origins of polygamy both less frequently and less candidly as his years in the presidency passed. Alma R. Blair (1985) suggests that as his opponents became fewer he could afford to be more persistent. By the mid-1880s, virtually no other opinion could be expressed in the Reorganized Church. Apostles Jason Briggs and Zenos Gurley, who tried, were harshly dealt with by the church (Vlahos 1971; Blair 1980). While Smith was generally tolerant of other positions throughout his career, on this issue he would accept no compromises. He was even willing to violate his basic integrity by sanctioning outright, fully understood untruths on at least one occasion. A letter on 11 March 1882 from Joseph Smith III to his uncle, William B. Smith, then writing a book about his career in Mormonism (1883), warns: I have long been engaged in removing from Father's memory and from the early church, the stigma and blame thrown upon him because of Polygamy; and have at last lived to see the cloud rapidly lifting. And I would not consent to see further blame attached, by a blunder now. Therefore, Uncle, bear in mind our standing today before the world as defenders of Mormonism from Polygamy, and go ahead with your personal recollections. ... If you are the wise man I think you to be, you will fail to remember anything [but] referring lofty standard of character at which we esteem these good men. You can do the cause great good; you can injure it by vicious sayings (Letterbook 3; See also J. Smith to William Smith, 12 July 1879, Letter-book 2).