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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Dialogue: Vol 16 No 4
Revised But Unchanged: Orrin Porter Rockwell Man of God, Son of Thunder by Harold Schindler
148 Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought Those of us within the Latter-day Saint fold who are both students of American history and committed Latter-day Saints recognize that this has not been the case, and that books like Hansen's help support faith by raising important questions which need to be addressed. Those who are critical of recent research in the field of Mormon studies usually fail to understand the basic nature of historical methodology. Contrary to what these critics assert, most historians recognize that historical accounts are not "objective," that historians will only find evidence which helps answer questions they first think of asking, and that historians understand that in much of their work they are testing theories. Historians do not usually believe they are working with general laws or received views in the positivist sense. The work of historicists like Wilhelm Dilthey, R. G. Collingwood, and Benedetto Croce — if not progressive historians more familiar to Americans like Carl Becker and Charles Beard — has convinced most otherwise. Most recognize that they are working with what Dale H. Porter has called "normative hypotheses" or generalizations which may have some validity but which are not infallible. A positivist like Karl Popper can suggest that these generalizations are "trivial," but the historian uses them to aid in understand- ing. Hansen, at least in his most speculative positions, is clear that he is dealing with models or theories (he prefers the terms metaphor or hypothesis) rather than with "truth" or "objective reality." I find his use of Jaynes's model unsatisfactory since it does not help me conceptualize Joseph Smith's religious experiences. Perhaps Hansen found the model I proposed in the case of Wilford Woodruff unsatisfactory, and that is the reason he ignored it. Both of us would recognize, however, that each approach is simply a model intended to aid understanding rather than the last word. Contrary to what some of the critics of the New Mormon History have asserted, it is possible — perhaps even necessary — for purposes of analysis to separate the question of authenticity from the question of significance in considering various aspects of the Mormon experience. It may even prove useful to address the latter question and ignore the former. One who does so may, in spite of what critics maintain, remain a faithful believer in Christ. After all, Christ promised that if we continue in the faith and remain his disciples we can know the truth and become free. (John 8:31-32) Unless Christ lied, and I do not believe he did, historical study by his servants can never be a faith-destroying enterprise. Revised But Unchanged Orrin Porter Rockwell: Man of God, Son of Thunder by Harold Schindler (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1983), xvi, 417 pp., $25.00 Reviewed by Eugene E. Campbell, emeritus professor of history, Brigham Young University. Published first in 1966, Harold Schin-dler's biography of Porter Rockwell has been widely read and has received well-deserved acclaim for its evidence of careful research, its objectivity, its literary merit, and its remarkable illustrations. Now, after the passage of seventeen years and five additional printings, the author and the editors of the University of Utah Press have chosen to publish a revised and enlarged edition which includes additional research and more mature perspectives. According to the author, much of the new material "has been fitted into the footnotes, and while most of it is supplemental, it is there to flesh out the individuals and