Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Could It Be?

(Questions for the questioners of Joseph Smith’s legacy.)

Having encountered several references to John Cook Bennett1 in recent studies of Mormon history, I wonder if it might be fruitful2 to review the characteristics of a sociopath/psychopath.

From the BBC documentary, Psychopath:3
▪ “There are few more emotive words in the English language than psychopath—a clinical word for a condition that has only recently begun to be properly defined.”
▪ “[There are] tens of thousands of other people out there who are psychopaths but are not serial killers.”
▪ “And by far the vast majority are neither criminal nor in prison. But the kind of harm that psychopaths can cause at home and in the workplace is deeply damaging and costly in every sense.”
▪ “There is something missing. [The psychopath] has no compunctions.”
▪ “They are dangerous, without a conscience, and all around us.”
▪ “In the workplace, they often disrupt and destroy the good working of the business or an operation …”
▪ “[They are] “Public Enemy #1.”
In fact, most sociopaths/psychopaths (hereafter just called sociopath) inflict their harm and chaos in hidden, subtle ways4 through:
◦ pathological lying;
◦ cunning, conning, and manipulation;
◦ charm, sincerity, earnestness (when it suits their purpose);
◦ remorseless, callous behaviors;
◦ seeding contention and confusion;
◦ denial, maligning, blaming others, refusing responsibility;
◦ living without conscience; without empathy.
Granted, many people think the whole, initial “Mormon” bunch were all villains, but what if these many cynics and critics are just blindly fulfilling prophecy concerning a divinely-called Joseph Smith:
He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people  (Pearl of Great Price | JS-History 1:33, emphasis added).
Since evil-speaking of Joseph Smith is so rampant in this internet age, we can perhaps “thank” Mr. Cook Bennett, in large measure, for “cooking the polygamy books,” so to speak.

So how might a “saintly scoundrel,”5 like Cook Bennett stir the pot to provoke evil-speaking for generations while furthering his own fantasies of grandeur and seduction?

If he followed the path of the sociopath, he would:
▪  curry favor with perceived power;
▪  jockey for position and trust;
▪  play people one off against the other;
▪  claim inside knowledge and favor with the “elites”;
▪  fabricate, without conscience, to advance his own passions and agendas;
▪  solicit oaths of secrecy when revealing his “knowledge” (i.e., fabrications) to others, especially those perceived as subordinates or victims;
▪  claim to speak for or reveal “secrets” about leader(s);
▪  cook up devious, contorted schemes to entrap, confuse, and compromise others;
▪  solicit others to admire him, front for him, or do his “dirty” work;
▪  claim his own questionable conduct is sanctioned—even ordained—by the leader(s);
▪  be addicted to the drama and adrenalin of his power-plays;
▪  lose track of what is true and what is fabricated;
▪  frequently invoke the “pity ploy”6;
▪  when confronted, deny everything or accuse or blame others for “mistakes” or slip-ups (for as long as possible);
▪  display excessive, “distressed” remorse and repentance (and plead for mercy and secrecy), if caught in undeniable lies;
▪  immediately revert to fabrications and seductions with increased care, secrecy, and pity-ploys;
▪  take offense easily;
▪  fantasize and foment reprisal;
▪  fantasize about replacing the “leader.”
So, in light of the above, conjoined with Bennett’s long trail of iniquity and mendacity, does it not occur to historians and others:
▪ that the word or witness of John Cook Bennett is utterly bankrupt?
▪ that every other word or witness that has root in his poison is equally bankrupt?
▪ that the enemy of all righteousness is more than adept at convincing (limitless) self-serving or compromised “witnesses” that they are doing God a favor when torquing or hiding truth for the sake of (their vision of) the “kingdom”?
▪ that loyalty, dogma, fear, expectation, repetitive lies, and so forth can warp memory and morals?
▪ that Joseph, in all his sermons and writings, unequivocally sustained monogamous marriage and denounced polygamy in the latter-day church (as did his brother, Hyrum)?7
▪ that trust and truth reside in God and His prophetic word—not in the “recall” of natural-men or -women8—especially ones who have been seduced?
So, could it be:
▪ that the adversary knew “that God had a work for [Joseph] to do” and trotted out his most effective historical, distracting weapon—multiple wives and concubines—and combined that weapon with a far-reaching conspiracy, intent on destroying God’s work and the veracity of His servant Joseph?
▪ that many in the early church (even high officials or former officials) were persuaded, by an avalanche of fabrication, intrigue, (and temptation) to believe the words of a self-willed, self-serving, charming Bennett (aided by his converts and Cochranite9 believers)—to place “new doctrine” above the word of God and God’s beleaguered seer? (Oh, déjà vu from ancient days.)
▪ that there were secret, proxy “sealings” to Joseph10 without his knowledge or presence so others could assert his complicity and sanction; and thus justify their own  “spiritual wifery”?
▪ that covenants of secrecy barred participants from revealing details of “sealings”—with the added caution to not even expect Joseph’s acknowledgement of his “wives”—because of: 1) the need to keep such “special doctrine” hidden from less-chosen ones; 2) the alleged jealous, hostile Emma (Joseph’s wife); and 3) whatever other reason served the conspirators’ purposes?
▪ that when Joseph of Egypt said that a future Joseph would be “like unto me” (Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 3:15) , he was also meaning that the future Joseph would likewise be falsely accused?
▪ that 173 years after Bennett’s exposure and excommunication, we are still ingesting the poison and fall-out of his fabrications?
▪ that God’s “lemonade”11 for Bennett’s presence in Nauvoo proved three-fold: 1) to test the “saints”; 2) to give Bennett one more opportunity (in the company of many good people and principles) to turn his life back to the will and ways of God; and 3) to give the “latter-day world” a choice in prophetic fulfillment?
So, what is the choice we have made concerning Joseph?
THE ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall rage against thee; While the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under thy hand. And thy people shall never be turned against thee by the testimony of traitors. And although their influence shall cast thee into trouble, and into bars and walls, thou shalt be had in honor; and but for a small moment and thy voice shall be more terrible in the midst of thine enemies than the fierce lion, because of thy righteousness; and thy God shall stand by thee forever and ever. If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea; If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; … and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb; … and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he? Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 122:1-9, bold emphasis added).
What if, at the judgment, we latter-day gentiles and other children of promise get a preliminary, defining question:
Did you speak good of my servant Joseph or did you speak evil?12
CAUTION: to those who flippantly class Joseph amongst the likes of Bennett, perhaps it would be wise to repent and undertake an intensive study of Joseph’s life, his writings, and God's work through and prophecies about him—before it is too late. (In other words, seek to avoid the perennial déjà vus of the natural man of footnote 8—who believing himself to be informed and learned, believes himself also to be wise. See Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 9:28. A caution for us all.)
1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_C._Bennett ; also
http://www.mormonwiki.com/John_C._Bennett ; also
Chapter 7 “Dr. Bennett Laid the Foundation of Polygamy at Nauvoo” from Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, Vol. 1 at http://restorationbookstore.org/articles/nopoligamy/jsfp-vol1/chp7.htm
2. New Testament | Matthew 7:20 ~ Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
3. BBC documentary, Psychopath at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LE-UlvzmoM
4. Some of this list comes from Prof. Robert Hare’s Checklist and some from other observations. Hare’s Checklist for the full psychopathy spectrum can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy_Checklist .
See also prior Déjà Vu posts concerning this subject at
5. The Saintly Scoundrel: The Life and Times of Dr. John Cook Bennett by Andrew F. Smith (1997).
See also the many chapters dealing with Bennett in Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, Vols. 1 & 2 at http://restorationbookstore.org/jsfp-index.htm
6. The Pity Ploy at http://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.ca/2014/12/the-pity-ploy.html
7. Marriage doctrine preached during Joseph’s life: Review; Chapter 6: “Early Efforts to Eradicate Polygamy”; Chapter 19: “Joseph's Sermon against Polygamy” in Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, Vol. 1 and Chapter 15, Subhead: “A Review of Some of the Important Documents Published against Polygamy in 1842” found in Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, Vol. 2; both volumes available through the books’ index at http://restorationbookstore.org/jsfp-index.htm
8. New Testament | 1 Corinthians 2:14 ~ But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Book of Mormon | Alma 26:21 - 22 ~ And now behold, my brethren, what natural man is there that knoweth these things? I say unto you, there is none that knoweth these things, save it be the penitent. Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.
Book of Mormon | Mosiah 3:19 ~ For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Bold emphasis added,)
9.   A polygamous sect that early Mormon missionaries encountered in the 1830s.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Cochran and also Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy Vol. 1 chapters 1-4 and Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy Vol. 2, chapters 8-11 at http://restorationbookstore.org/jsfp-index.htm
10. Proxy Sealings: from Chapter 14 “William Smith Provided Further Insights into the Origin of Polygamy” from the book Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, Vol. 2 at http://restorationbookstore.org/articles/nopoligamy/jsfp-vol2/2chp14.htm
December 31st, 1883.
Mrs. Mary Ralph being duly sworn, deposes and says: I lived in Nauvoo, Illinois, close to the house of Joseph Smith, just across the road, sometime. ... and I believe he was a true prophet of God. I was well acquainted with the two Partridge girls and the two Walker girls and their two brothers William and Lorin Walker, they were orphans, and all lived in the family of Joseph Smith, but I never knew they were any of them his wives; but I saw Susy Walker in 1847 and she had a young baby in her arms, she told me she had been sealed to Joseph for eternity and to Heber C. Kimball for time, and Bro. Heber was acting proxy for Bro. Joseph. Dianthy [Diantha] Farr, daughter of Aaron Farr, told me she was sealed in the same way and W[m]. Clayton was acting proxy for Bro. Joseph with her. The first I ever heard of the proxy and sealing business was in 1846. Bathsheba Smith, wife of Geo. A., told me of it then.
Sworn to before me this 31st day of December, 1883, W. J. Curtis, Notary Public in and for San Bernardino county, state of California. (Bold emphasis added.)
11. "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" is a proverbial phrase used to encourage optimism and a positive can-do attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/.../When_life_gives_you_lemons,_make_lemonade)
12. Though the following sites may prove offensive to many Mormons and their traditional beliefs, they may also prove thought-provoking and enlightening:
Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy at http://restorationbookstore.org/jsfp-index.htm
In Defense of Joseph at http://www.defendingjoseph.com/ (several posts 2008 to 2015)
Joseph Smith’s Monogamy: Exploring a Counter-narrative Regarding Plural Marriage at https://www.scribd.com/doc/290575587/JosephSmithsMonogamy-pdf

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