Monday, October 14, 2013

They Supplied the Benches

When the town of Tooele, Utah built its first public building, who supplied the benches?

a.      The Salt Lake City Pew and Bench Co.

b.      The Jackson County Pew and Bench Co.

c.       The families of the town

d.      The Elders quorum

Yesterday’s answers:

1.      D   Spiritualism

For the first twenty or thirty years of Mormonism’s existence one of its main appeals was the claim to modern-day revelation from God. Whereas other Christians were limited to hearing the word of God only through the pages of the Bible, obscured by problems of translation and theological controversy, the Mormons could hear the voice of God speaking directly to their needs in their day. Such was the message that was proclaimed confidently in the early Mormon proselyting literature and by the hundreds of missionaries that carried the good news to the world.

 Around the middle of the century another movement set forth claims to direct communication with the unseen world. This was spiritualism, one of the significant enthusiasms of the nineteenth century. It was in 1848 in upstate New York that modern spiritualism has its origins. At Hydesville, in Wayne County, a Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Fox and their two daughters heard mysterious knocking or rapping’s, which they discovered to be in some way intelligent; that is, able to respond to questions. A little later, when Kate and Margaret Fox went to live with a married sister at Rochester, they established communication, as they said, with dead relatives and even famous figures of the past. The messages were conveyed by rapping’s—one for no, three for yes—and was transmitted through “mediums,”: persons having some special quality enabling them to receive messages from the “other side.” The three Fox sisters were the first mediums of the new movement.

It was estimated that there were about ten million “followers” of spiritualism by the mid-1850s.

Journal of Mormon History, Davis Bitton, Mormonism’s Encounter with Spiritualism, Vol. 1, 1974, 39, 45.


2.      B   Spiritualism

Referring to Spiritualism in Kirtland, Thomas Colburn stated: “few that call themselves Saints, but very weak, many apostates, who have mostly joined the rappers.”  Orson Pratt reminisced of a time several years earlier when he was in New York City. Spiritualism, he said, “was all the order of the day. Almost all those old members of the Church that had been in Nauvoo and Kirtland and had apostatized, had fled into New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and throughout the Eastern cities; and in going through any of these cities, if you heard anything about these apostates, you would hear about them being great mediums: there was scarcely a case but what they were spiritual mediums.”

Journal of Mormon History, Davis Bitton, Mormonism’s Encounter with Spiritualism, Vol. 1, 1974, note 6, 41.


3.      B   A Mormon Elder

The Mormon leaders were confident of the superiority of the priesthood. Heber C. Kimball indicated his opinion in unmistakable terms: “I never heard a knocking, or saw a table dance, only as I kicked it myself. I do not want them knocking or dancing around me.” After mentioning the claim of some to automatic or spirit writing, he said, “I do not thank any person to take my hand and write without my consent; we do not like such proceedings.” Brigham Young was especially confident that the powers responsible for the spiritualistic phenomena simply could not operate in the presence of a Mormon elder, for this would mean that a lesser power was dominating a greater. “You may assemble together every spiritualist on the face of the earth,” he thundered, “and I will defy them to make a table move or get a communication from hell or any other place while I a present.”

Brigham also stated: “Jesus has revealed his Priesthood, so has the devil revealed his, and there is quite a difference between the two. One forms a perfect chain, the links of which cannot be separated; one has perfect order, laws, rules, regulations, organizations; it forms, fashions, makes, creates, produces, protects, and holds in existence the inhabitants of the earth in a pure and holy form of government. . . . The other is a rope of sand; it is disjointed, jargon, confusion, discord, everybody receiving revelation to suit himself.”

Journal of Mormon History, Davis Bitton, Mormonism’s Encounter with Spiritualism, Vol. 1, 1974, 47, 48.


4.      A    Spiritualist

In 1874, at a meeting of the Retrenchment Association, Sarah Decker “exhorted the sisters not to attend these Spiritualist meetings that were held in the Liberal Institute.” She was “Sorry to see so many of the saints drawn there.” This of course, was the immediate aftermath of the Godbeite enthusiasm, and we may suspect that what she considered “Many” may have been a hundred or less curiosity seekers. That Utahns could still follow spiritualism if they were inclined is suggested by a letter of 1888 in which Mrs. B. Raymond, a clairvoyant from Denver, asked about obtaining a license to practice in Salt Lake City. As late as 1900 an interesting comment appeared in the record of the Salt Lake Stake. An Elder J. Selley, a city employee, told that he had recently visited a “spiritual medium,” who told him that she had been in town only about two weeks but had already received visits from “hundreds” of Mormons who came to ask her whether or not they should be baptized for their kindred dead.

Journal of Mormon History, Davis Bitton, Mormonism’s Encounter with Spiritualism, Vol. 1, 1974, 49.

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