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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William B. Smith: The Persistent "Pretender" Paul M. Edwards jilliam B. Smith was a difficult man. Like so many who feel denied power and recognition, he was probably best described as being his own worst enemy. Certainly he could not be stereotyped as the typical patriarch — rather a fire-eating, blistery sort of a character who reveled in his bad temper, often confused stubbornness with correctness, and found that life was best lived as a battle. Yet his life seemed to have been centered in the Church and identified with the role that was his only briefly. Called to the office of patriarch on the death of Hyrum, his older brother, he held that office with vigor, with dedication, and with considerable belief in the purpose and validity of the calling. He spoke of this belief in several of his blessings. Typical is this statement from his 1845 blessing to Irene U. Pomery: This blessing shall serve unto thee in all things as a father's blessing according to the flesh, and even more for it is given by him who is appointed a father to the fatherless and Patriarch over the whole church of Christ. This therefore will seal upon thee a greater blessing and power than any other could give as this office by the power of the priesthood legally holds the right of administering all blessings; and of the presidency over all the Patriarchs in the church of God at this present time . . . upon thy head I seal the blessing of eternal salvation with an irrevocable decree. (Blessing Book, 1845) For William Smith his continual concern over the patriarchate was more than a case of William wanting to hold office. In a larger sense it dealt with William's desire to be someone of authority, a person on whom the responsibility of the movement could rest, at least in part. There were other questions, many of them related to his concern about the nature of the church — whatever variety he might be associated with at the moment — a view that was amazingly consistent through numerous trials and responses. In addition there was the question of recognition as a loyal "founding member" and the lesser, but significant, financial question. PAUL M. EDWARDS is president of Temple School, Independence, Missouri.