Okay everyone, yesterday’s post generated some interest, and that’s a good thing. But I’m like a kid in a candy store–I want more. So, to that end, I’ve decided it’s time to get more serious.
I told you all yesterday about a promotion I’m running on the book sales of my novel, ZION’S WEB–free shipping for the first fifty people who order the book. Well, I’m upping the ante. Between now and May 15th I’m also having a contest. I want feedback and to get it I’m willing to give up something. Whoever gives me the most meaningful feedback during the contest period, i.e., comments placed in the comment section at the end of the blog, will get a free copy of ZION’S WEB.
Now, you might ask yourself what I mean by meaningful feedback. I’ll give you some examples. I’ve posted a number of things about the book on my blogs–things telling you about some of the main characters in the story and an introduction to the novel, etc. In addition, I’ve listed my website where I’ve posted a synopsis of the storyline and access to the first chapter. There’s quite a bit of information in these pages, things that I believe should prompt questions or comments.
But that’s not all. I’ve got an even bigger promotion looming in the future, one that entails a more thorough understanding of the story. For that you might want to order a copy of the book itself. I’m just sayin’…
And with that said, I come to the main section of my blog. After yesterday’s post I did some more thinking. (Seems to be a chronic condition I’m developing these days.) I decided if you liked the Introduction which, from the amount of traffic the post received it seemed like many of you did, you might enjoy another titbit of information dealing with the differences between mainstream Mormonism and the people who call themselves fundamentalists.
To that end I’ve posted another segment of the novel. This section involves a flashback in which the male lead, Zack, reflects on a conversation he had with his ex-brother-in-law, Mormon Bishop and LAPD police detective Matt Benson. Benson is telling Zack about the roots of Mormon fundamentalism and some of the main things that differentiate it from the mainstream Mormons.
Like before, the section below (with slightly different formatting) is presented exactly as it appears in the book.
…That caused me to focus on the fundamentalists for a moment, and how they operated.Many people still confused them with mainstream Mormons, or felt they had some connection with the way Mormons had practiced polygamy before they’d abandoned the practice.
But nothing could have been further from the truth.
As I reflected on this, I was reminded of the time in 2008 when the raid on the polygamist compound in El DoradoTexas led by Warren Jeffs had been taking place. Dana had just gotten sick at that point and Matt and his wife were over to the house quite a bit.
I remember one night in particular when they were there. The girls were in the next room talking and Matt’s kids were playing in the back yard. That left Matt and me to sit in the living room and watch T.V. The news was on and we were viewing the drama unfolding in Texas. I remember turning to Matt at one point and asking him what, besides polygamy, separated the Mormon Church from these people in Texas. His answer surprised me.
“Authority,” he said.
I looked at him quizzically. “Maybe you wouldn’t mind explaining.”
At that point Matt sat back and rehearsed a story to me, one I already knew. He told me about a young boy named Joseph Smith who had reportedly received a revelation from God. Soon after, this boy was visited by an angel who led him to a hill in upstate New York where he was presented with a set of golden plates, ones that contained ancient writings.
Matt explained how the boy had ultimately translated these plates through the gift and power of God, and how these translations eventually became known as The Book of Mormon. Not only was this book considered by Mormons to be Another Testament of Jesus Christ, but it provided a record of the ancient inhabitants of the American Continent who had traveled there from Jerusalem at God’s direction. Matt went on to explain how Joseph Smith and other men with whom he was affiliated had been given the priesthood by emissaries of God, which priesthood gave them the power and authority to act in His name.
Smith had been the Church’s first prophet and had held the keys of authority, keys that had been maintained in an unbroken chain until the present time.
I leaned forward then and looked directly into Matt’s eyes. “So, if I’m hearing you correctly, these other churches that claim to be associated with Mormons have no legitimacy in the eyes of the Mormon Church since they don’t hold these keys of authority.”
Matt shrugged. “I’d say that was a pretty fair statement.”
I scratched my head. “But from what I’ve heard, they say the same thing about you. They claim the Mormon Church lost its way when it abandoned polygamy and that they are merely practicing the religion as it was originally intended, which is why they call themselves fundamentalists. They claim to have the truth.”
“Yes, but they’re wrong, and the facts back that up.”
“You sound so certain?”
Matt smiled. “To understand you need to know a little bit about the beginnings of polygamy within the Mormon Church itself,” he said. “Mormon polygamy has its roots in a revelation recorded within the Doctrine and Covenants.”
I knew about the Doctrine and Covenants. It was a book containing revelations, given primarily through Joseph Smith, and was regarded by both mainstream Mormons and fundamentalists alike as scripture.
“As you know,” Matt continued, “Mormons believe in being married for time and all eternity. One of the revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants explains that for any marriage (either plural or otherwise) to have power in this life or the life to come, it must be sealed by one who has the sealing keys. It goes on to state that there is only one man on the earth at any time who has those keys. When he was alive, the keys were held by Joseph Smith. Since then they have resided with whoever holds the office of the President of the Church—which man is also considered a prophet.”
I didn’t say anything as I waited for him to continue.
Matt rubbed the back of his neck. “The problem lies in the fact that during the time when the Mormons practiced polygamy, all polygamist unions were ones created for time and all eternity under the sealing powers of this one man. There was no other way in which a polygamist union could be created and still be in conformity with the Church.”
I leaned forward to get a clearer understanding of what Matt was saying. “So, if I’m hearing you correctly, that means when the Mormon Church outlawed polygamy in 1890, the practice was basically dead since there was no way to create these unions outside the authority of the Church.”
“But if that’s true, then how do these other churches claim to have valid unions?”
“That’s a good question,” Matt said. He leaned back and rubbed his chin. “Have you ever heard of a man by the name of Lorin C. Woolley?”
I shook my head.
Matt glanced away for a second. When he looked back he had a kind of faraway look in his eyes, as if he could actually see the things he was telling me about. “Lorin C. Woolley was born to a Mormon family in the 1850s,” he continued. “As he grew up, Lorin was known for telling stories, some of which were pretty far fetched. He told people that Teddy Roosevelt was a member of the Mormon Church, for example. He also said that Roosevelt was a polygamist, and claimed that other U.S. Presidents had been converted to Mormonism.”
“But none of that is true, right?”
Matt gave me a quizzical look. “Of course not. If so, don’t you think we would have heard about it?”
I thought about what he’d said briefly and decided he was right.
After several seconds Matt went on. “Although he was obviously prone to telling stories, it was not until 1932 that Lorin came up with the strangest claim of all when he told people that he’d been ordained to a priesthood office called High Priest Apostle in the Mormon Church.”
“Why was that strange?”
Matt frowned. “Because no one had ever heard of that office before—mainly because it didn’t exist. But that’s not all: By being ordained a High Priest Apostle, Woolley claimed he had also become a member of The Council of Seven Friends.”
“Don’t tell me: no one had ever heard of that group before either?”
Matt shook his head. “One of the things for which the Mormon Church has received high praise over the years has to do with how well organized it is and how the basic organization hasn’t deviated, even slightly, since the Church’s founding in 1830. There are two main administrative bodies within the Church: the First Presidency, which consists of the prophet and his two counselors, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. There’s nothing else and there never will be. However, that wasn’t the way Woolley told it. According to him, the Counsel of Seven Friends had been established before the Mormon Church was even founded, and had surreptitiously been running things since that time. Woolley claimed that the all important sealing keys actually resided with the senior member of that council.”
“Doesn’t that contradict what it says in the Doctrine and Covenants?”
Matt smiled. “Of course it does, but that’s not even the strangest part. Let’s give Woolley the benefit of the doubt for a moment. The church that grew out of his doctrine of the Council of Seven Friends was the precursor to what is now known as the FLDS Church of Warren Jeffs’ fame. Strangely, however, that organization no longer acknowledges the council’s existence.”
“But wasn’t the council the source of their alleged sealing power?”
“Yes, but that doesn’t seem to matter: No more than it matters to some of the other churches that have sprung up claiming to have the correct doctrine that the Mormons allegedly discarded.”
I remember feeling somewhat confused at that point. Matt and I talked a little more about polygamy and some of the other things going on in the news, but I had a hard time concentrating. If Matt had done nothing else, he’d shown me the principal difference between the Mormon Church and some of these other groups that had sprung up claiming to be Mormons. Since I wasn’t a Mormon myself, I didn’t really have a vested interest in the whole thing, but I could see why Mormons might be offended by some of the claims these people made.
From Matt I also learned other things. I learned for example that, even when the Mormon Church had practiced polygamy, it had done so in a completely different fashion than the modern polygamists. There was never any compulsion in the Mormon Church to marry a particular person, for example, nor was there the concentration of power and property that these so-called fundamentalist organizations exercised.
I was suddenly returned to the present as Matt came back into his office now at police headquarters…
And that’s it–all I dare post at this point for fear of giving away too much of the story. If you want to read more of course you can always purchase a copy of the book. Simply go to www.michaelsnowauthor.com and click on the Buy Now link…and remember, the first fifty people to purchase a copy of ZION’S WEB between now and May 15th will receive free shipping. Just put in the free shipping code when prompted which is Bfree50. ALSO, DON’T FORGET TO GIVE ME FEEDBACK. If you liked this post, found it interesting, have questions, or even if you hated it, I want to know about it. Just post your comments in the section at the end of the blog. REMEMBER, THE PERSON WITH THE MOST MEANINGFUL FEEDBACK BETWEEN NOW AND MAY 15TH WILL EARN A FREE COPY OF ZION’S WEB. (Be sure and include your email address when you give me feedback so I’ll know who to send the book to if you’re the winner.)
That’s all for now. I’m trying to post daily but we’ll see how well I do. If I can keep it up, I’ll probably only post Monday through Friday, and take the weekends off. Anyway, until next time…