The Haters: Volume Eight, Joseph Smith, Chapter 1
The early 1800’s were a time of religious upheaval in the fledgling United States, a time known as the Second Great Awakening that gave birth to a host of schisms, sects and whole new churches. The Baptists and the Methodist had a heyday, and even the staid Presbyterians and Anglicans saw their numbers swell.
Anticipating the second coming, Advent churches arose, such as the Advent Christians and the Seventh Day Adventists. It was into this swirl of Christian primitivism mixed with the folk lore and superstitions of the country folk that Joseph Smith Jr. was born.
Smith was born December 23d, 1805 to Joseph Sr. and Lucy Smith. The senior Smith had been a middling successful businessman until a disastrous speculation in ginseng and a crooked partner sent him into a downward spiral from which he and his brood never recovered. The family survived on itinerant day labor, tenant farming and various small money making ventures, like hawking bread and beer from a cart.
The Smith clan was also given to visions, prophetic, mystic dreams and images in keeping with the deeply superstitious culture in which they lived. The blend of primitive Christianity and folk magic was potent. Joseph Sr. was a diviner, using forked sticks to seek underground water and on occasion buried treasure. Joseph followed in his father’s footsteps and around the age of eleven started dousing as well. When Joseph was 13, the family moved to upper New York State, an area known as the “Burned over Region” because of the waves of Revivalist fervour that had swept over it until there were few converts (fuel) to be had (burned).
In 1820, by the age of 16, Joseph and other members of his family had become a Treasure Hunters utilizing “seer stones” to find hidden loot. Similar to crystal ball gazing, the user would stare into the stone until he experienced ‘visions’. Smith had his own method that involved putting his favourite magic rock into his hat and burying his face in the hat to do his mojo. The information about how successful he was is sketchy, but he was at least tenacious, carrying on his ‘craft’ for several years. It was at this time also that Smith had what would be called his First Vision, a theophany or face to face meeting with God. Details vary about this auspicious confab, but the family seems to have taken it in stride.
In September of 1823, Smith had his first meeting with the Angel Moroni who told him about an ancient book that was conveniently buried nearby. The book consisted of Golden Plates that were “giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fullness[sic] of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Saviour to the ancient inhabitants;” Along with the book was deposited two stones called the Urim and Thummim used by the ancient Israelites for divination, the whole collection being stashed on a nearby hill. The Angel was a chatty fellow, and returned 2 more times that night as well as once more in the morning, giving Smith detailed instructions on how to find and acquire the book.
Smith set out to find the book which was secured in a stone coffer on the hillside. Remember the scene from the movie “Army of Darkness” where Ash tried to get HIS book and muffed it?
Yeah, it was like that for Smith too. He didn’t do the ritual right and the angel snatched back the book and put them back in the stone box. Smith tried to open the box and got bitch slapped by the angel who suggested he drop the greed, and come back next year with a better attitude and the ‘right person’ as his companion. In this case the right person was Smiths’ older brother, Alvin.
Alvin died before Smith could recover the book in 1824, apparently choosing the wrong “right person” to go with him didn’t work, so in 1825, he failed again.
By 1825, Joseph contracted his services to Josiah Stowell and William Hale of South Bainbridge, New York to seek out a lost Spanish mine as well as buried treasure near Hale’s home. Apparently they had learned of the hidden caches from another fortune teller and had heard that Smith possessed talent. While there and presumably during those times he had pulled his face from his hat, Smith fell in love with a pretty school teacher named Emma Hale, daughter of his landlord Isaac Hale. Isaac, however, didn’t care for the young n’er-do-well.
The treasure hunt was a failure, and Smith claimed that someone had cast an ‘enchantment’ to cloud his visions just as he was about to reveal the location of the treasure, darn the luck…
Smith continued working for Stowell until March of 1826, when he was arrested for fraud. The court records show that he was convicted, but never served any jail time. After his brush with the law, Smith went to work for a man named Joseph Knight, directing the search for treasure on his properties.
It was about this time that his stone told him that Emma WAS the ‘right person’, so avoiding her suspicious daddy, the young couple eloped and were married in January of 1827.
Smith’s treasure seeking cronies Stowell and Knight wanted in on the action, so leaving the men at the farm, and taking Emma in Knight’s carriage, Smith finally got the book and the Stones from the box. Fearing for their safety, Smith stashed the Book in a tree stump and took the magic stones back home with him.
But Knight and Stowell weren’t the only ones after the plates, a couple of his old company had gathered up a dozen men as well as another fortune teller to find the hidden booty. Smith used his newly acquired magic rocks to spy on the villains and thus foiled their dastardly plot.
Now let’s examine these stones for a moment. They were reputed to be part of the High Priest’s breastplate as related in Exodus. This means they were sort of like a bra, with the rocks filling the roll of the cups. Picture if you will, the young Joseph Smith, rock-bra on his head like a pair of spectacles, seeking visions of his enemies…
At any rate, Smith did recover the plates and brought them home wrapped in a frock.
Christianity: A disgusting middle eastern blood cult, based in human sacrifice, with sacraments of cannibalism and vampirism, whose highest icon is of a near naked man hanging in torment from a device of torture.