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Talk:First Vision

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New side-by-side comparison section [ edit ]

I'm wondering about the side-by-side comparison section added in this edit. At first glance it seemed interesting, but when I look at the rest of the article it seems a but unwieldy and redundant. Earlier in the article we have several subsections with fairly detailed descriptions of each account. And if that's not enough, further down there's a large table explicitly noting the differences between accounts. I feel the more digested version is more accessible to readers than side-by-sides of the complete texts but the side-by-side could be interesting to some. Would it make sense to create a daughter article like Comparison of First Vision accounts? pinging User:Epachamo and User:John Foxe ~Awilley (talk) 04:56, 28 February 2020 (UTC)

Hmm. I can see advantages to both. John Foxe (talk) 15:40, 28 February 2020 (UTC)
Full disclosure, it was me who added the side-by-side comparison. I put it at the end so as not to take away from the simplicity of the 'digested version.' A casual reader can get the general overview, and the reader who finds the complete texts interesting can get what they want as well. If there is a new daughter article, I think it should include ALL of the 'redundant sections', and just keep in this article a summary of the salient points. I am willing to create the new daughter article if it is agreed that this should be the case. It could also include comparisons of secondary accounts as well, which would definitely be unwieldy in this article, but be interesting to some. Unless you object Awilley or John Foxe, I will start to make the change. Epachamo (talk) 15:39, 29 February 2020 (UTC)
That's fine with me. (I pinged you because you had added the new section). As for what happens with this article if/when the daughter is created, I think the new section should go entirely and the other ones might merit some prudent trimming and a {{main article}} template at the top of the section. ~Awilley (talk) 18:16, 1 March 2020 (UTC)
Ok, I'll give it another week of waiting, and if I haven't heard anything by then, I will begin a draft article and invite both of you for editing. My intent would be to include the new section entirely, add content from the other sections. Once it is live and accepted, then prune this current article down to a single section. Epachamo (talk) 15:17, 6 March 2020 (UTC)

I have created Draft:Comparison of First Vision accounts and invite you both, and anyone else to collaborate as you have time. So far I just copied all content from the article that dealt in comparing the first vision accounts. Epachamo (talk) 00:30, 19 March 2020 (UTC)

I looked at your draft. That's a good amount of work. Personally, I don't think a daughter article is the way to go. I don't see a comparison of the accounts as being a separate topic from the vision itself. I think the comparison, at a moderate level of detail, is really a core part of understanding the vision and that severing it from the main article reduces understanding. It's probable that the majority of the people who go to the main article will not see the little link mentioning the comparison article but would see the huge comparison chart if it stayed in the main article. For writers there would now be the burden of always wondering whether something should go in the main article, the comparison article, or both. The issue is not very clear cut, like it was for the cunning folk article. (Good work on that, by the way.)

I just don't see the sense in having the different accounts presented in three different ways - in paragraph form, in a horizontal chart, and in a vertical chart. I think paragraph form and one chart is about right. If the chart had the accounts in the columns it could have increasingly detailed / trivial information in the lower rows of the chart. This might be a way to present the right level of detail for the amount of reading different people are putting in. Just a thought. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Davemc0 (talkcontribs) 04:27, 13 April 2020 (UTC)

I think in the comparison article in its current form is VERY incomplete. It could show ALL the accounts and even second hand recollections, which would make the daughter article more necessary than it is now. I will tell you that I myself came to this article trying to find a side by side comparison and did not find one. I then searched the internet and could not find one, which is why I added it. I completely agree that it is not interesting to every reader, but there is a subset of readers like myself who will find it extremely interesting. The current article is getting rather large and it will get larger over the next month, as several discussions are incomplete. Epachamo (talk) 21:21, 14 April 2020 (UTC)

Removal and movement of the section on Magic in the context section [ edit ]

Over the last couple of weeks I've read dozens of articles and books the last month on the First Vision and only one D. Michael Quinn has anything to say that connects Smith's folk magic background with the first vision. It is the only source quoted in this article, and I argue that the meaning and intent of what Quinn writes in not reflected appropriately here in this article. The vast majority of scholars feel that the First Vision was a result of the religious environment, not folk magic environment. To be clear, Quinn does NOT claim that folk magic was an influence in Smith receiving his vision as is strongly implied in this article. Quinn was and still is a believer that the First Vision actually occurred, and his book is written through that lens. Here is what Quinn says in full:

"In light of the efforts of ordained clergy to suppress folk magic, Joseph Sr.'s 1820 thophany ("first vision") is important. By the early 1820s the Smith family had already participated in a wide range of magic practices, and Smith's first vision occurred whithin the context of his family's treasure-quest. His first emphasis was God's forgiveness, yet some of Smith narratives state that God told him the clergymen of any organized church were wrong. At this time the revivals of western New York's so-called 'Burned-over District' were bringing thousands out of private folk religion and into organized churches, whose clergy opposed folk magic. Nonetheless, Smith's vision of the divine gave him every reason to ignore the clergy's insturctions, including denunciations of the occult."

In other words, according to Quinn, the role that magic played into how Smith and other's responded to it. He continues in another section:

"It was not because of its content that Palmyra residents ridiculed Joseph Smith's first vision, but because of the claim that God appeard to a local treasure-seer."

It should be noted that Quinn's book came out at the same time as the Salamander letter, and was in part a response to it. The only other section that I could find in his book connecting magic to Smith's vision is painful when viewed from this side of history:

"After Joseph Smith's 1820 face-to-face vision of God, his cultural heritage predisposed him to expect a visitation from ' Salamanders, the inflamed guests of the region of fire.' The salamander symbolized divinity."

I plan on paring down and moving the information on magic into the "Interpretations and Responses" unless an additional source can be found. Epachamo (talk) 01:02, 30 March 2020 (UTC)

  • In reading old comments, and searching around Wikipedia, I was amazed to find out that there was NO article about Magic and the Latter Day Saint Movement, which made me feel less good about removing the extensive commentary in this article. I decided to make the article, and it is titled: Cunning Folk Traditions and the Latter Day Saint Movement. I invite all to contribute.Epachamo (talk) 02:07, 31 March 2020 (UTC)
    • If you believe, as I do, that Smith didn't create the First Vision story until after he had founded the church, then it makes sense that folk magic had little influence on its telling. Smith had already set his sights far beyond the grubby treasure hunting of his youth. John Foxe (talk) 13:08, 1 April 2020 (UTC)

Update: I did find a historian (Jan Shipps) who found that Smith's cunning folk traditions was important to religious background in the context of the first vision and added its mention back in. Epachamo (talk) 22:19, 4 May 2020 (UTC)

Thanks for checking. Good call. John Foxe (talk) 01:26, 5 May 2020 (UTC)

Undue weight of recent edits [ edit ]

I'm fine with mentioning that Tanner and Brodie criticisms that the first vision accounts are similar to other contemporary stories published around the same time. I do think that it is undue weight, though, to include multiple blockquotes from the sources when compared to how other criticisms and responses are presented. A brief summary of the criticisms, imo, is sufficient. How are the summary statements insufficient? --FyzixFighter (talk) 01:01, 13 February 2021 (UTC)

The brief summaries are insufficient because they omit some very useful information that relates to the central question of the validity of the first vision. For instance, nowhere else is it mentioned that Joseph Smith's mother apparently knew nothing of Joseph Smith's vision as late as 1832. Nor is there any mention of it in the newspaper accounts of the time. There is hardly anything else that could be more relevant to the question of the reality or non-reality of the First Vision. All we have is Joseph's claims that he told it to others at an early date and "suffered much persecution" immediately. But even this claim was not made before 1832. So it is very pertinent what Fawn Brodie summarized, and also pertinent to show what the contemporaneous records said, rather than just dismissing them with generalizations. For that reason I will reinstate these important comments regarding what really happened. Actually in the Brodie quote, the statements about lack of any refence by his mother in 1832, and the lack of any reference from the people of Palmyra before 1838 should be emphasized, not deleted as you are doing. Those items are at the heart of the whole discussion, and should not be swept under the rug. (User:Chronic2) — Preceding undated comment added 02:25, 13 February 2021 (UTC)
So, we're not going to follow WP:BRD. Fair enough, it's not required, but it helps to understand what ground rules you are working with. Anytime says that they are including text because it's important for the reader to know, it is usually intended to "right great wrongs", and therefore fails WP:UNDUE and often WP:NPOV. Additionally, quoting the Tanners is fine for stating that their is criticism, but they are a self-published source and as valuable and relevant to an historical analysis as Jeff Lindsay is for historical analysis of the Book of Mormon. That's why I argue that a summary of their criticism in this section is sufficient. And that's the other point - this section is about criticisms, not dating of the First Vision. Most of Brodie's criticisms fit into the previous sentence of critics like Palmer and others. I'm going to again simplify done to meet WP:UNDUE and join together the new text with the existing text without the POV and peacock language. --FyzixFighter (talk) 17:24, 13 February 2021 (UTC)
Professor Daniel C. Peterson of Brigham Young University wrote the following about the work done by Jerald and Sandra Tanner in shedding light on early Mormon history: “As far as LDS history goes, there’s no one out there who has the documents mastered as they do. ” His comment was part of an article entitled “Tanners Are Wellspring of Documents” in the May 16, 1998 issue of the Mormon newspaper Deseret News. Elbert Peck, editor of the periodical Sunstone, said “The Tanners have caused a lot of Mormon historians to do better homework.” Because of his familiarity with early Mormon writings, Jerald Tanner was the first to cast doubts on the authenticity of Mark Hofmann’s Salamander Letter. This was after Gordon Hinckley had personally purchased two bogus documents from Hofmann and the “experts” that the Church had hired to examine Hofmann’s productions pronounced them almost assuredly authentic. The Tanners are also credited with bringing about a new day in the field of Mormon historical research, where organizations like the Mormon History Association have focused more on actual historical sources rather than just repeating themes that reinforced Church doctrine.
Anyone whose goal is to elucidate the circumstances of early Mormon history should therefore reckon the writings of the Tanners as of primary importance, instead of placing primary importance on LDS Church publications that have been changed over the years in order to preserve church dogma. This is particularly germane for resources such as Wikipedia, where the Neutral_point_of_view#Due_and_undue_weight policy should give primacy to the proven historical accuracy of the Tanners’ research, rather than to publications biased by efforts to maintain LDS Church dogma. Reputable scholars have shown that the Church has falsified its history in the past, and it is only research from outside scholars that has reversed this policy somewhat in recent years. This means that the research of the Tanners cannot be swept under the rug by labeling it as a “minority view”; their research actually reflects the “majority view” of non-LDS historians, i.e. of historians in general.
Regarding the attempt to denigrate the Tanners’ research because it is “self-published:” Their work is largely published by the Utah Lighthouse Ministry (UTLM), an organization that publishes books and also provides other resources related to early Mormon history. Some, but not all, of the books published by UTLM are authored by the Tanners. In that regard, the UTLM might be compared to the Mormon-owned company Deseret News that publishes books and other material reflecting the viewpoint of the owners. Both UTLM and Deseret News are, surely, duly registered as companies doing business in the state of Utah. Having an established business that is producing books and other material, some of which is authored by the owners of the establishment, is quite different from an individual self-publishing a single book. Any attempt to discredit the UTLM as “self-publishing” needs to consider what this means to a lot of other publishing companies that just might have some of their titles authored by the owner(s) of the company. Those of us who are interested in presenting objective facts about the history of early Mormonism will therefore continue to use publications of the UTLM as a primary resource, recognizing the great value that this resource has had in shedding important light on the history of the LDS movement, as is recognized by the majority of non-LDS scholarship. Chronic2 (talk) 16:19, 15 February 2021 (UTC)
It's uncontroversial that Smith's theophany was similar to others at the time. Even his parents recalled similar experiences. We can just write in plain wiki voice that theophanies like Smith's were common at the time. There's no need to attribute it to the Tanners or describe it as a "criticism". And the block quotes are unnecessary. ~Awilley (talk) 18:05, 15 February 2021 (UTC)
I agree with FyzixFighter and Awilley. I think a summary of the arguments, in the vein of what Awilley has proposed, is sufficient. A block quote of the Tanners is not needed to establish these points. Good Ol’factory (talk) 21:38, 15 February 2021 (UTC)
I'll record my agreement as well, largely because no one can accuse me of being unduly biased in favor of Mormonism. John Foxe (talk) 22:31, 16 February 2021 (UTC)

Attempt of FyzixFighter to remove all reference to Lucy Smith’s original account of the First Vision [ edit ]

On February 20 I had added the account of Lucy Smith regarding the “First Vision.” This was in keeping with previous entries, where the accounts of others that Joseph Smith--of Oliver Cowdery, Orson Pratt, and John Wentworth--were already in place. Any historian would know that the account of Smith’s mother would be of great importance, and would think it less than honest when the original account she gave was later changed by LDS editors so that its contradiction to the standard narrative was hidden. These are the things that ought to appear in a balanced account of the First Vision, in which the aim should be to evaluate the credibility of the various accounts in order to determine the best historical reconstruction. Such an aim, however, runs counter to the purposes of anyone who wants to hide from Wikipedia readers the best sources available because they run counter to the LDS church narrative. This latter goal, served by erasing well-documented early sources, should have no place in Wikipedia; those doing such should go to the many Mormon Web sites and present their views there.

Also, when I made my entries earlier today, I added just a few words to each heading. The purpose of this was to allow users to see more quickly the disparities between who or what was seen in each account. The purpose was to add clarity. What was the purpose of removing these extra words, if not to avoid such clarity?

Please inform me if there is some other purpose in such censorship of well documented sources, sources that pertain very much to providing the proper information so that people who go to Wikipedia can get factual presentations rather than views that are not compatible with the amount of excellent material that is already in this article, material that shows that the “standard narrative” of the LDS church needs exactly the kind of objective examination that Wikipedia can provide. I have found that the excuses for the censorship of Lucy Smith’s original account by no means justify the censorship I see: “ the intent of the editorializing is to draw readers' attention to the differences, then it fails NPOV and is likely an example of WP:RGW - removing for neutrality” Really! These were just straight facts taken from the narrative. Wouldn’t the same apply to the narrative itself? What about the section “Side-by-side comparison of Joseph Smith vision accounts?” Isn’t that rather plainly an effort by honest editors of this site to show the disparities?

But just to avoid any appearance of failing NPOV, I’ll let your censorship of the small changes in the sub-section headings stand. What I do believe shows your own lack of NPOV is the deliberate erasure and censoring of the Lucy Smith testimony. Perhaps I don’t understand the reason given: “This was confusing - trying to rephrase the "Notes" for this since the Times and Seasons narrative was published in 1842, Lucy's autobiography began in 1844; also I'm not seeing in Lucy's rough draft her identifying it as the start of Mormonism” and “the two sources listed are primary sources, so any extrapolation as to why the 1838 account was inserted is pure SYNTH; moving to the more appropriate later reminiscences, adding a secondary source, fixing some oddities likely from the copy/pasting from the original blogpost that is ostensibly taken from”. Please explain yourself better. “blogpost . . . ostensibly??” I gave the sources. “pure SYNTH”? To me it looks like my references are as good as any in the article. So, in case I don’t understand what you’re saying, please clarify. Until that is done, I think most Wikipedia readers would see this as a case of censorship of an important issue related to the validity of the First Vision, i.e. the original testimony of Lucy Smith. Can anything be more important? This has every reason to be in the article. If you don’t like my references, put in your own; only don’t use the standard narrative that censored what she originally said, which is what the objective reader has every right to know. I plan to put back in what Lucy Smith said. If you don’t like the way I said it, use your own words, although that would be poor Wikipedia practice. Just don’t leave out this important information, and I think you owe all of us an explanation of why you don’t want the testimony of Joseph Smith’s mother regarding the First Vision to be included here. Sorry if this got too wordy, but it is important to resolve whether this kind of censorship of pertinent information will be allowed on Wikipedia. Chronic2 (talk) 01:56, 21 February 2021 (UTC)

That is one of the challenges of edit summaries - low bandwidth. One correction to your description above - I didn't remove the Lucy Mack Smith account - I moved it to the more appropriate "Smith's accounts found in later reminiscences" and kept the sources you provided (although I doubt that you actually put eyes on either of the sources you are referencing) and removed parts that were not verifiable or that represented original synthesis. I did also add another source, a recent publication of Lucy's family history/autobiography with extensive editorial explanations and analysis. The previous sections were for accounts written during Joseph Smith's lifetime. Lucy's autobiography/family history was written after his death in 1844-1845, so more appropriately belongs in the post-JS section. Lucy also didn't technically write it herself, her scribe for most if was Martha Jane Coray. It wasn't published in any form until 1853, first by Orson Pratt in England, actually causing some controversy. Later publications went through some editorial oversight of the Church.
As I mentioned above, it doesn't look like you actually laid eyes on Lucy's rough draft or the cited EMD source. Rather, it looks like you copy/pasted (with only a few minor alterations) from this blogpost. That's why I added the additional source of "Lucy’s Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir" which does show draft/later publication comparisons and modern editorializing about changes, history of the drafts and publications, and other modern historical analysis. While I kept basic mention of Lucy's account I did remove/change the following for the following reasons:
  • "When writing her autobiography..." - as I mentioned previously, this gets complicated as Lucy had a scribe who actually wrote the history (see [1])
  • "...said that the LDS movement began ..." - I couldn't find where Lucy actually makes the connection, but perhaps I missed it. What part of her rough draft supports this statement?
  • "...she was persuaded to use instead Joseph’s account from Times and Seasons" - I couldn't find anything to support this rationale for why the 1838 account was absent from the rough draft but included in the published version (any of the published versions). Who persuaded her? What is the source that explains the how/why the 1838 account was included?
  • "...in order so that her contradiction to what Joseph said at various times and the canonical version would be not be seen" - This is complete synthesis without a secondary source that supports this claim. We can state that there is a difference between the rough draft and the published versions simply from looking at the primary sources, but we need a secondary source to support the claim for why it was done. What in the sources you provided indicates that this was the reason why?
  • "Instead of publishing her original words, the Times and Seasons replaced them with what Joseph Smith said in the canonical version." - I found this mostly incoherent. It sounds like you are saying the newspaper, Times and Seasons, chose to ignore Lucy's original words and use Smith's canonical version. This doesn't follow the actual chronology. Times and Seasons published the first vision narrative in 1842, Lucy didn't start her rough draft until 1844, after Smith's death.
Again, I did not remove the summary of Lucy's account, but I did move it to a more appropriate section, I reworded it based on my reading of the sources, and I added a better source. Rewording other editors' words when one finds them lacking is not poor Wikipedia practice - it's standard Wikipedia practice. --FyzixFighter (talk) 02:59, 21 February 2021 (UTC)
(from Chronic2) You assume quite a bit. I had never seen the blogpost you thought I was copying from until I looked from your reference just now. I have seen the handwritten draft, available at https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1844-1845/40 Lucy Mack Smith, History 1844-1845 book 3, p. 10. The fact that there is so much crossing-out in the handwritten draft indicates that Lucy was correcting her stenographer, so it seems like grasping at a straw to discredit the account because it is not in her own handwriting. It is as close as we will ever get to something she genuinely said and thought. Historians are always interested in comparing original documents, and seeing if there is any discrepancy with the "standardized" versions that institutions promote. Therefore this version deserves a paragraph of its own. So what if it is after Smith's death, or any other specious reason that might be given for not giving this important testimony the weight it deserves in determining the truth or falsity of the "standard version"?
Further, any historian or lawyer knows that, in order to determine the truth or falsity of a statement or position, the first things that are looked at are any discrepancies between the given statement and other, competing statements. If someone is telling the truth, there will be consonance with other, independent sources. If someone is lying, the differences or incongruities with other accounts will be the most important items that the historian, attorney, and the jury should examine. Therefore it is not a violation of NPOV to place emphasis on the difference in accounts. It is the sound method that anyone who is seeking the truth will follow: if the differences can be reconciled, fine and good; if they can't, then this is the basis for making a sound decision. What seems to me a decidedly non-NPOV view is to stuff under the rug any discussion of conflicting testimonies that could be useful in determining whether the account is true or not.
Suppose someone from Roswell, New Mexico, put on his blog that, 12 years ago, he was visited by a space ship while he was out in the desert meditating. From the space ship came a little green creature who told him that he had an important message for all the people of the earth. The Roswell person was terribly frightened and very impressed. But this was all 12 years ago. In the meanwhile, there is no record that Roswell-person told anyone about this all-important message until he publishes it 12 years later. Further, some handwritten copies are found in which he says it was not one little green creature, but two. But when a reporter goes to Roswell to investigate, he finds that the Roswell-person's mother says that something like that happened to her son, but it was a ghost-like apparition, it happened in his bedroom not the desert, and it was nine years ago, not 12. Is it not clear that the differences in accounts would be the most important thing for this reporter to make known? And what should be said about someone who maintained that the reporter should not be trusted because he was saying that the differences are the very things that should be highlighted, and the person making the claim should be given a chance to try to explain them; if no suitable explanation can come up, then it is not dishonesty, but honesty, to present to the public, in plain terms, the disparities in the account so that the public can make up their own mind whom to believe. The differences in account are the very things that an historian, a lawyer, or anyone honestly interested in the truth should be examining, not sweeping under the rug by claiming that this violates NPOV. Any person who thinks the differences can be reconciled should be given the opportunity to present their case: please do so. The proper response would be to do that, not to just erase a simple explanation that directly quotes a statement as important to this matter as Lucy Smith's testimony--that testimony should be given its due importance in presenting objective facts so that Wikipedia users can make up their own mind in the matter. Chronic2 (talk) 05:32, 21 February 2021 (UTC)
@Chronic2: It is truly an amazing coincidence then that the wording of your edit was so similar to that blogpost. It is also very similar to this pdf. Your edit and these two locations even use the same "p. 46" in the citation. If you were looking at just the JSP source, where did you get the "p. 46" in your citation? I don't see how you could have gotten that from the JSP source.
I'm not discrediting the account because it wasn't written in her handwriting. Rather I think it is technically incorrect to say that Lucy wrote her autobiography - technically she dictated it. That's why I would prefer to simply say "In her autobiography...".
The other accounts (subsection 3.1-3.7) are unique in that they are accounts recorded while Joseph Smith was alive. Lucy's account was written after his death. Therefore it fits better, imo, in the subsection "Smith's accounts found in later reminiscences". In fact, that's why I moved it there in my edit - I largely kept your paragraph, just removing the novel claims not found in the cited sources. With your most recent edit we now have Lucy's account mentioned in two places in the "Recorded accounts of the vision". I will also point out that the fact that Lucy's working draft copy doesn't have the canonical first vision narrative is already in the "Dating the Smith Family conversions to Presbyterianism" subsection, so with your edit we now multiple levels of redundancy.
WP:NPOV says that wikipedia "describe disputes, but not engage in them." The arguments you give for your edits above, and additionally in the section below for the edits you would like, violate this principle. You are crafting an argument based on the primary sources to lead readers to a conclusion not found in those sources. We cannot analyze, evaluate, interpret, or synthesize material found in a primary source ourselves, per WP:OR. We have to find reliable, secondary sources that do so. Calling something "important facts/information" is also a judgement call that you as an editor have made, indicating that you are engaging in the debate and not reporting it (violating NPOV). Such wording and arguments are also indicative of editing to "right great wrongs".
Your edit violates WP:OR by making the following claim that is not supported by the sources you cited: "...were all deleted in order to make this compatible with the “canonical” account from Times and Seasons." This is an interpretation of primary source material and requires a secondary source that makes this actual claim. Where is this claim made in the sources cited? --FyzixFighter (talk) 07:39, 21 February 2021 (UTC)

Need for a section of the vision’s effect on J. Smith’s character [ edit ]

One of the aspects of a study of the First Vision that has been neglected so far on this page is an examination of any effect that the vision had on J. Smith’s behavior. It is widely known that there were other “theophanies” in this period, that of Charles Finney being the most notable. According to his own testimony and the testimony of those who knew him best, Finney’s encounter with God changed him so that he renounced the occult practices of the Freemasons and made other changes in his life, eventually going on to become one of the best-known evangelists of the nineteenth century, found Oberlin College, etc. If a sincere enquirer claimed that he had an encounter with God that deeply affected him, then we would expect to see some evidence of the encounter in a changed life. However, virtually every credible account we have regarding Joseph Smith Jr., from his neighbors who knew him best and from the occasional official records of the day, states that he continued to be involved in occult practices such as treasure-seeking, first from participating with his father, and the, after 1822, by using the “peepstones” that he “borrowed” from Hale to continue to defraud others until the law caught up with him in the well-documented Bainbridge Court Case (1827). During all this time, 1820 through 1828, we have the testimonies of people like his father-in-law regarding his character, those who testified at the Court Case, those who testified about his character when he tried to join the Methodist Church in 1828, etc. These testimonies are well documented and should not be swept under the rug by some of the usual ploys, such as saying that because Hurlbut, who arranged for some of the testimonies to be sworn to, was an immoral person who committed adultery, therefore the persons giving the testimonies, and the various judges and justices of the peace before whom they were sworn, can be disregarded. As shallow as that sounds, this is the excuse offered by some LDS apologists.

Consequently I am putting the suggestion forth that there should be a section for this on the “First Vision” page. It seems to me that it is important to any honest inquiry into the truth or falsity of the First Vision, and so the evidence pro and con should have a fair hearing here. It is NOT irrelevant. I also realize that if I were to be the one to start this section, there seems to be a good chance it would get deleted by someone with a non-neutral POV. So I invite any, even those who might want to censor, to start this section themselves. I think it is needed, and invite discussion, especially from those who would argue, for some reason or other, that it is not necessary. Chronic2 (talk) 03:55, 21 February 2021 (UTC)

  • Question. And what are your proposed sources? Good Ol’factory(talk) 04:49, 21 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Let me see if I can wrap my head around this. You're arguing that Charles Finney's theophany was True because he rejected the occult practices of Freemasonry and became an evangelist, and Joseph Smith's theophany was False because he remained distant from established religions and didn't reject occult practices? ~Awilley (talk) 23:44, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
I didn't say Finney's experience was true and Smith's was false. What I am saying is that if someone had a profound religious experience--and what could be profounder than seeing God in the flesh--then any of us should be curious to see what change that made in the person's behavior. We see that change in Finney's life; whether you think that change was good or bad, it was a radical change. So I think it is a proper question to ask: what changes do we see in J. Smith's behavior? I think that would be something appropriate to document in an article on the First Vision. Let me ask you a simple question: If you saw God in the flesh, and he had an important message for all mankind, would you go on about your daily business as before? Would you wait 12 years or more before you told anyone about that important message that the whole world was supposed to hear, and which concerned the eternal destiny of every person? If J. Smith really saw a vision in one of the forms he described later, then it is entirely appropriate that we look at the best records we have for his subsequent behavior. Do you agree or disagree? Why should anyone hide those records or not want to do such an investigation? Let's look at them in a fair way. Chronic2 (talk) 02:20, 27 February 2021 (UTC)
Eh? Who's wanting to hide records? And what records? Look, my personal views don't really matter here. Any analysis we do of primary sources doesn't really matter here. What matters is the work that reputable scholars and historians have done. We write articles to reflect what they write, not our own analysis of primary sources.
You ask, "If you saw God in the flesh, and he had an important message for all mankind, would you go on about your daily business as before?" I think your premise is flawed. According to Richard Bushman, the leading scholar on all things Joseph Smith, Smith didn't understand the "first vision" to be an important message for all mankind. He understood it as a personal conversion...a forgiveness of sins, not the beginning of some grand restoration. The vision that really altered Smith's trajectory was the one of Moroni a few years later. The the first vision only became significant in hindsight.
That said, there is definitely a disconnect in the way the LDS Church romanticizes the story vs. how Smith and others understood it in the early days of the church. It might be useful to say something about that in this article. (I thought there was something already, but I couldn't find it just now.) ~Awilley (talk) 03:45, 27 February 2021 (UTC) Edit: Doh! There it is in the 3rd paragraph of the Lead: "The First Vision is revered in Latter-day Saint theology as the first step in the Latter Day Saint restoration, but it was relatively unknown to early adherents to the Latter Day Saint movement" ~Awilley (talk) 03:50, 27 February 2021 (UTC)
What is this?