Thursday, June 26, 2014

For John Dehlin, from Joseph Smith's gravesite

June 26, 2014

"This video is a message for John Dehlin.

"A couple of weeks ago, John, you posted to Facebook a quotation from Joseph Smith that spoke to you after the announcement of your impending church disciplinary council. It was the quotation in which Joseph Smith says that he is dismayed to see a church member called up before a church court over questions of doctrine because, Joseph says, that seems like something that the Methodists would do.

"Now, before I say what I’m here to say, I feel a fastidious professorial need to qualify things by pointing out that while that particular quotation from Joseph Smith makes him sound supportive of freedom of thought within the church, Joseph could also be, let’s say, firm about condemning what he regarded as apostasy in the church—so I’m not certain that Joseph Smith would have positively regarded you (or me, for that matter).

"But with that fastidious caveat, I can certainly understand, John, why those particular words of Joseph Smith spoke to you in your current circumstances. And so I’m pleased to say that I am standing here with the man who spoke those words. I am standing at the gravesite of Joseph Smith—in Nauvoo, Illinois, the place where Joseph spoke those words that had inspired you. And I would like to say to you, in his presence, that I agree with you, John, that those particular words of Joseph Smith’s represent the better part of his legacy, a legacy that you and many others in the bloggernacle are helping to carry forward into the 21st century—a legacy of expansiveness, of creative initiative, of continual searching, exploring ideas, seeking truth wherever it may be found, envisioning new possibilities.

"I have extremely mixed feelings about this man. But to the extent that I believe he deserves to be honored, I think that the work you have been doing with Mormon Stories honors him. And so I hope you will continue that work, regardless of the outcome of your upcoming meeting with your stake president.

"Joseph Smith is dead. But I hope that the best parts of his legacy will live on and flourish. My thoughts are with you, John. God bless."

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