Hipster Joseph Smith
I was tweeting with a friend (who remarked how absurd it was that today in the church, Mormon kids can’t even date until they are 16….while Joseph was marrying 14-year-olds). At first I replied with tongue-in-cheek apologetics, but then I started musing that I really wanted to read books like Richard Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling and Fawn Brodie’s No Man Knows My History.
…Yes, I am still sad to admit, I am functionally illiterate about the founding prophet of my old religion. Perhaps I should be ashamed that I have not earned this disaffected Mormon cred. So many ex-Mormons got that way by discovering unfortunate historical facts. I got here just by…not believing. How boring.
Anyway, why I want to read these books is because it seems to me that Joseph Smith is really quite a character. A polarizing figure. Said exmormons who read books like Rough Stone Rolling come away disgusted. The faithful who read them become enamored with Joseph’s
literally pimpin’ style human nuance. When Bushman says he finds Joseph an “appealing figure because of his flaws and struggles” (emphasis added), I can’t help but read into that that he likes Joseph more because he was such a scandalous dude.
And I don’t know my position.
(I mean, for a good example of a very different perspective from an ex-Mormon, check out Molly qua Molly Muses’ classic post, Rape Apology and Joseph Smith. Not only is the history of Joseph Smith’s activities enough to upset her on its own, but it’s highly upsetting that others would downplay his behavior. There is no seeing eye to eye with such differing views. )
As I mentioned before, I don’t have a strong position either way, because I don’t have a feel. I don’t think I’m a “rape apologist,” but I also am not horribly offended by everything Joseph did, which probably makes me just as bad. I suspect (because of some stories I have heard) that I would in fact be amused to read of Joseph’s exploits and thought processes. Amused in a “o no he di-int” sense.
Anyway, if I had a better grasp of ol Joe’s personality from his history, then I could move on to my next project. Jana Riess has the #twible, but I would have….Hipster Joseph Smith. What if Joseph Smith were just a dude trying to get around and make friends in the 21st century? The friend from before helped come up with the first few tweets: