Essay roundup: During the period from November 2013 to November 2014, the Mormon Church issued a number of ‘essays’, most of which I commented on in the month following their issue (scroll down for each corresponding month and essay). The essays are undated and somewhat hidden among about two-hundred-and-fifty other articles under the ‘Gospel Topics’ section at lds.org. If they don’t know they exist, people may not easily come across them.
Below is a convenient list of all the new essays and release dates. If you prefer to locate them directly from www.lds.org you will need to click on ‘Teachings’ and open ‘Gospel Topics’ from there. Or, go straight to Gospel Topics and type in the exact title of one of the essays into the ‘Q’ bar beneath the text (or you can browse alphabetically). The following are all the correct titles and also the direct links to each essay if you need them.
The Church has also published a list of the new essays in its online Mormon Newsroom.
But, the list has already been ‘lost’ among the Newsroom archives, and you may find it difficult to locate, so use the above link. However, it lists 11 essays, while I list 13. Essays 8 and 9 below (‘Noah’ and ‘Same Sex Marriage’) do not appear in the Newsroom list. I may be mistaken about when they were issued but I noted them during March of 2014 – not that it much matters.
1 – Are Mormons Christian? 20 November 2013.
2 – First Vision Accounts. 20 November 2013.
3 – Race and the Priesthood. 6 December 2013.
4 – Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah. 16 December 2013.
5 – Book of Mormon Translation. 30 December 2013.
6 – Book of Mormon and DNA Studies. 31 January 2014.
7 – Becoming like God. 24 February 2014.
8 – Noah. March 2014.
9 – Same-sex marriage. March 2014.
10 – Peace and Violence Among 19th-Century Latter-day Saints. 13 May 2014.
11 – Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham. 8 July 2014.
12 – Polygamy Essay 1: Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo. 22 October 2014.
13 – Polygamy Essay 2: The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage. 22 October 2014.
Referenced essay: In a letter to all members dated 9 September 2014 (See November 2014 note):
‘Gospel Learning: Seek Learning by Study and Also by Faith’ is the only essay mentioned.
Additionally, there was an important article recently posted by the Joseph Smith Foundation, citing ten Mormon prophets and dozens of scriptures, confirming continued belief in Adam and Eve and a firm denial of the fact of evolution. (See October 2014 note).
My comments on essays of interest can be found in earlier updates and there remains little to be said. The Church has shot itself in the foot by claiming Adam and Eve were the first (created) humans and that there was no death before 6,000 years ago; and also in confirming belief in the clearly (scientifically conclusively provably) fictional story of Noah and a global flood. The Church has now confessed many lies of the past, yet within the essays it still continues to conspire to deceive members with half-truths, convenient assumptions and suppositions, in order to hide some of the truth which it is still not ready to admit. Such half measures may keep some of the faithful in the fold but there is enough in the essays to disturb many – and members reportedly continue to vote with their feet. See for example ‘Mormon Missionary Reports on Church Inactivity. One member (who shall remain nameless), does not believe what the Church is admitting and posted on an ‘Alan Osmond’ thread, “…and those so called essays I keep hearing about are just a bunch of anti-Mormon lies.” Yes – some of them are that hard to believe, aren’t they!
One major problem with religion, and in particular Mormonism, is that it still tries to fill ‘gaps’ that science has long since fully explained. They are then stuck with ancient (and some modern) guesswork – unless they have the courage (and integity) to admit they were wrong. “…simple questions can be answered systematically by applying the scientific method as outlined by Richard Feynman, whereas complex and badly posed questions such as “why are we here” cannot. But more importantly, and rather more profoundly, it turns out that the answers to simple questions can overturn centuries of philosophical and theological pontification quite by accident. Reputations count for nought in the face of observation.” (Professor Brian Cox, Human Universe: p.40).
Following publication of the essays, the biggest shock for many members appears to have been the sickening detail about Joseph Smith’s polygamy (polygyny) and polyandry. The question is that if they are now making such detailed attempts to justify and excuse Smith’s sexual activity with married and single women and children, WHY did they try to hide the truth from members for some one-hundred-and-seventy years? If polyandry and an already married man marrying children were not ‘wrong’, it should surely have been made public knowledge – at least from the time of the official announcement that polygamy was a practiced doctrine, on 28-29 August 1852. The reason the Mormon Church has issued these essays is not, as they claim, for clarification or greater ‘transparency’; we can already see right through the real Church agenda. The only reason the Church is coming clean (well, a little cleaner – with much still hidden or manipulated to look less disgraceful than it really was and is), is because with the advent of the internet, all the information is already available and more and more members are accessing it and questioning the Church about it.
As ever with the Church, the essays are purely and simply (and ONLY), damage limitation. Do you imagine, for one moment, had the internet not been invented, that the Church would ever have provided such essays for members to read? Not in a million years! Even then, they are already somewhat buried and difficult to locate. BUT, they are there, so the Church can now ‘claim’ transparency and then ‘blame’ members for not knowing such things, if questioned. It should be remembered however, that not so long ago, the Church excommunicated quite a number of Mormon historians for revealing the very same information the Church is now admitting. Where are the apologies and offers of restoration to fellowship, for those once called liars and dissenters by hypocritical leaders?