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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Chandler, Neal ; Chandler, Rebecca
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Scrying for the Lord: Magic, Mysticism, and the Origins of the Book of Mormon
Scrying for the Lord: Magic, Mysticism, and the Origins of the Book of Mormon Clay L. Chandler Joseph Smith grew up in a time and place where folk magic was an accepted part of the landscape. Before he was a prophet, he was a diviner, or more specifically, a scryer who used his peepstone to discover the location of buried treasure. While most members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the twenty-first century know nothing of Joseph's magical practices, there is ample evidence to support the claim that they occurred. From a series of articles published in the Palmyra Reflector in 1830 and 1831, to the 1834 publication of Philastus Hurlbut and E. D. Howe's polemical Mormonism Unvailed, to Fawn Brodie's 1945 biography of Joseph Smith No Man Knows My History, to D. Michael Quinn's 1987 Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, Joseph Smith's involvement with magic has been well documented. Even the respected Mormon historian Richard L. Bushman reports that Joseph possessed a seer-stone and was probably involved in "helping people find lost property and other hidden things."1 Quinn's book in particular, which more than doubled in size when it was revised and reissued in 1998, is encyclopedic in its coverage of the Smith family's magical activities and those of their early Mormon contemporaries. To the objective reader of Mormon history, there can be little doubt that Joseph Smith practiced magic. There is also no question that just a few years later Joseph would become the leader of a vibrant new religion with thousands of followers who considered him a "prophet, seer, and revelator." What is not clear from the historical record is how he transitioned from diviner to translator to prophet. Was Joseph's dabbling in magic a youthful indiscretion or was it a 1. Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 69-70.