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Were Phelps Missouri Troubles Self-inflicted? (Part 2 of 8 )

W.W. Phelps was deeply involved in editing a political newspaper prior to joining the Church and was no stranger to partisan political fights.  When he and the saints arrived in Missouri, trouble followed quickly.  Was Phelps to blame for the poor reception in Missouri?  Dr. Bruce Van Orden, biographer of Phelps and author of We’ll Sing and We’ll Shout, will answer that question.

GT:  W.W. Phelps, when he was in New York, got involved in the political tussles in New York, as you mentioned, the anti-Masonic party and that sort of thing. How much of the problems in Missouri we’re because of his pugnacious, I guess, attitudes in the newspaper industry?

Bruce:  The word pugnacious is fair, but it is unfair to place all the blame on Phelps. Some people have done that. Because he was a newspaper editor, people knew about him, his name was on the business. It was right next to the courthouse and people knew about Phelps, but he was not alone….

GT: Who are some of the other people?

Bruce:  Well, I’d say Sidney Rigdon, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, William McClellan, probably Edward Partridge, Isaac Morley, John Corrill.

GT: So, quite a quite a few.

Bruce:  Yeah.

GT: Do you think–could they have lived there in peace if they’d have been a little less combative?

Bruce:  No doubt about it. But the reason they were combative is because they felt that this was the New Jerusalem and that Christ would be coming quite soon. They felt that. Even in the Evening and Morning Star, Phelps talked about the signs of the times and that they were telling us that the time is coming in the Redeemer of Israel hymn. He said the tokens already appeared, meaning the signs are already here to say that it’s coming. He wrote, “I may be wrong in this, but I’m calculating this based on biblical evidence, and I think it might be nine years from now, when he comes.”

GT: Oh wow. So, you can understand why the Missourians were pretty upset.

Bruce:  Yes, I can certainly understand.

We’ll go deeper into the Missouri Troubles.  Check out our conversation….

Phelps pugnacious writing style didn’t help Mormons get along with their Missouri neighbors.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Bruce!

561:  Jailed Before Joined

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Jailed Before Joined (Part 1 of 8)

W.W. Phelps is one of the best known leaders in early Mormon history that wasn’t an apostle.  Dr. Bruce Van Orden is the author of We’ll Sing and We’ll Shout, a biography of WW Phelps.  I knew that Phelps was a newspaper editor prior to joining the Church, but I was surprised to learn that he was arrested and jailed before he was even baptized due to his friendliness to the Book of Mormon.  Bruce will tell us more.

Bruce:  [Phelps] got interested in the Book of Mormon, as he heard about it. He lived in Canandaigua. His newspaper was the Ontario Phoenix and Canandaigua was only 12 miles away from Palmyra. All the newspaper editors knew each other, and he knew of what was happening in Palmyra and he knew about the Book of Mormon. He went and obtained several copies of the Book of Mormon, and sold some of them in his bookstore of his printing office. He had gotten so interested in it, and went about the vicinity, inquiring more about the background of Joseph Smith and the origins of the Book of Mormon. Because of that, businessmen who were supporting his newspaper got annoyed, and they took out charges against at W.W. Phelps, for indebtedness. [At that time,] still in the state of New York, a person could be jailed for indebtedness, and he was jailed for 30 days. He ended up writing to various newspapers in upstate New York about his plight and that exposed what was going on and so he was let out. But, he decided at that point, he had already been converted in his heart to the Book of Mormon, and he decided at that point that he would resign his editorship, which was a major undertaking. And then [he would] go to Kirtland where he knew the Latter-day Saints had began to gather and [he would] say, “I’m with you. I’m here to do God’s will. Use me as you will.”

GT:  It’s surprising to me that, that he was jailed even before he became Mormon. I guess we can still use that term, right?

Bruce:  [Yes, we can use that term,] because he used it and Joseph Smith used it. They refer to the movement as Mormonism. W.W. Phelps was the main writer and he used the term all the time. So you bet I’m going to use Mormon and Mormonism.

Phelps was part of some of the most important events in early Mormonism.  Check out our conversation….

WW Phelps was jailed because he was friendly to Mormons, and then decided to join the Church.
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*Mormon Doctrine in Battlestar Gallactica? (Part 8 of 8)

I hope you have enjoyed our conversation with Steven Pynakker, evangelical host of Mormon Book Reviews.  In our next conversation, Steve will tell us some of the future plans for his channel, including an episode about Mormon Doctrine in Battlestar Gallactica!

Steve:  Season two, because I’m not at home. During the summer, I spend my times up in northern Florida. But season two, we’re going to start taping in October, November. I’ve already got quite a few books that I’ve already read. So, I’m going to do those reviews. I’m going to re-engage Bushman’s book because I want to do a review of his. I’m doing a lot of new books, as well. I think either the very first episode, or early on, my very first episode is going to be Mormonism and Battlestar Galactica.

GT:  Nice!

Steve:  I just remember it, our very first, when I did our interview, and our joint production, I had the Cylon from there and I just love [Battlestar Gallactica.] I know Battlestar Galactica. I know Mormonism. So, I think I’m going to be able to make some connections and maybe make some observations that haven’t been made before. I’m so excited

This episode is only for subscribers, so sign up to the free newsletter at to check out our conversation….

Steve plans to have an episode of Mormon Doctrine in Battlestar Gallactica!

Don’t miss our previous episodes with Steve!

559: Gutting Pioneer Temple History

558: Mormon Historians’ Community

557: Future of Mormon History

556: Are Faith & Intellect Compatible?

555: Why Start Gospel Tangents?

554: Difference between Evangelicals & Protestants

553:  Background on Rick