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Strang’s Prophetic Role as Translator (Part 3 of 6)

Joseph Smith translated golden plates that became the Book of Mormon at the start of his call as prophet.  It turns out that James Strang also was a translator.  He translated plates at the beginning of his call as prophet.  These are known as the Voree Plates.  Historian Bill Shepard will tell us more about these plates, as well as other Strangite scriptures.

Bill:  So right off the bat, James J Strang is going to claim that an angel appeared to him and said that there are sealed plates on this prominent hill in Voree or in Burlington, the outskirts. So he is going to get his witnesses.  I’m not sure how many were even Mormons.

GT:  Some of them were non-Mormons.

Bill:  Right.  So they go and they dig under an oak tree and they said that the branches were sealed around these brass plates and so forth. They testify to this. A man named [Samuel W. Soule] and [Christopher Latham], who invented the typewriter, was in Kenosha, Wisconsin and he came out as a newspaper…

GT:  The QWERTY typewriter that we still use today, right?

Bill:  Yeah, the old one. He came out and even he testified.  He says, “This appears to not be a humbug.”   So, again, primitive Mormonism, because James Strang is going to claim angelic ordination and having the urim and thummim.  He is going to translate plates that people saw widely.

GT:  So was it the Voree plates, were those the first things he translated?

Bill:  Yes. These were important in that it’s very believable about a race of people that are on their last legs and they’re going to be destroyed and they’re going to hide their records–seal up the records until they are translated in the future. So this was an important thing: Again, primitive Mormonism.

GT:  So what about the Book of The Law of Lord? I know that was another book of Scripture that you guys use. When was that translated and how did that come about?

Bill:  James is going to say that an angel appeared to him and told him of the plates, the sealed record.

GT:  The Plates of Laban in the Book of Mormon.

Bill:  Yes, and that they are delivered the hand that he translates them which is certainly doctrine used by the Strangites today as looked on as one of the lost books of the Bible, if you will. Again, primitive Mormonism.

What do you think of Strang’s translation abilities?  Does it help you see people’s skepticism of Joseph Smith?  Check out our conversation…

James Strang translated the Voree Plates and the Book of the Law of the Lord.

Don’t miss out other conversations with Bill!

398: Strang’s Mormon Missions

397: “The Other Mormons”-Intro to James Strang

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Downwinders & Utah’s Fight Against the Feds (Part 2 of 4)

In the 1930s and 40s, the United States was involved in the race to build an atomic bomb.  Many of those above ground tests took place in the Nevada desert, and fallout from the blasts fell upon southern Utah residents.  As a result, Utahns have had a history of opposing the federal government.  Rod Decker will tell us more about these tests, as well as Utah’s love/hate relationship with the defense industry.

Rod:  Utah was hit by the Great Depression, harder than most other states. What pulled them out was World War II. After World War II, Utah had a big defense sector. Utah for a number of years in the early 1960s, Utah had the largest defense sector of any state in proportion to its economy. I mean, we were nothing compared to California, but California was a bigger deal. Our defense sector provided a bigger percentage of jobs. We had Hill Air Force Base, we had other military installations, and we had a big rocket, a big aerial defense industry. We had Litton. We had Marcon. We had Hercules. We had a lot of them.

In World War II, if you had a good job, that was good. But defense was was a good thing to do. We believed in America. We wanted to win the war. By Vietnam, we didn’t believe so much in America. We didn’t particularly care whether our guys won the war, maybe. We weren’t so patriotic. We weren’t so pro defense, and it wasn’t just us, it was the whole country. So then there were a series of controversies that are still going on, though less than they used to, over destroying nerve gas at Toole, over a lab to test biological weapons at Dugway. The big one, the start of them was the downwinder issue where were the United States tested atomic bombs in Nevada, the fallout drifted over southern Utah. It was said thousands died. If you look at the scientific papers, probably fewer–what they could show is maybe 50 or 60, not good, but…

GT:  But not thousands, either.

Rod:  Maybe only 10, maybe only 10 or 11. I mean, you can’t tell who died. A guy gets cancer and he dies, you don’t know.

GT:  Was it from the smoking?

Rod:  So yeah, what you do is they do two things. They do dosimetry. They calculate how much radiation he might have been exposed to, and they calculate how much–epidemiology it’s called–they calculate how much cancer there was against how much cancer they think there ought to have been. We end up with maybe 10, maybe 50. Now the level of proof has to be high. It has to be 90 or 95% statistically, that it wasn’t just bad luck. That’s the way epidemiology works. Those aren’t special rules to beat up on southern Utahns. That’s the way it works, and by that 10 to maybe 50 or 60 died, mostly the little children, a lot of childhood leukemia.

Check out our conversation…..

How many Utahns got cancer from atomic bomb tests in southern Nevada?

Don’t miss our other episode with Rod!

324: Utah: Most Politically/Religiously Divided State

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Messages From Those Struggling With Church (Part 6 of 6)

What advice would those who struggle with faith give to members of the Church?  David Ostler reads a couple of letters from people struggling, and I think they are really impactful.

David:  Can I read just one more story?

GT:  Sure, absolutely.

David:  So this is a guy named Mike, and I put it at the end of my book. I introduced him in the first chapter, but I put him in the end of the book, because he wrote me a follow up email about six months after I first interviewed him. I told him, I was just about to conclude the book, and when he gave me this, I threw away the conclusion, and rewrote it to include his story. He’s in a faith crisis, unsure whether he’ll stay in the church. It’s hard for him to participate. He feels still alone and isolated, even though he’s been in this particular state for more than two years, I believe. He just gives us advice on what to do. He’s thought about it because he’s felt it.

David:  He said, “When I was in the dark night of the soul, there are a few things that could have really helped me. I needed someone to just listen, and then after listening, let me know and help me really believe that they trusted me and loved me, no matter what conclusion I came to.  I needed someone to show me that it was love that was the strongest and largest cord that bound us together, not our common belief in the church. I needed someone to not only listen but to encourage me to seek answers and say, ‘Great, I don’t know where that journey will take you, and it’s your own journey. but whatever conclusion you come to, I will absolutely respect you, and if you want someone to walk with you for a while on your journey, call me. I’m there for you.’  I needed someone to let me know that they have never experienced what I’m experiencing, so they won’t pass judgment. I needed to feel from people, not just hear words, that they trusted me and viewed me as a worthy, intelligent and spiritually sensitive human being. I needed a different space after sacrament meeting to be nourished spiritually, and if that wasn’t available, I needed an invitation to leave during the rest of the church block to seek spiritual nourishment elsewhere. (I still need this.) I needed someone to ask me, “What would you like to do in the ward that will help you thrive here?” For me that would have been teaching. I love to teach, but I became an unsafe person, and so I haven’t taught since coming out. I used to teach and speak frequently. I also needed someone to listen and then push back a little. I needed someone with whom I could engage in healthy confrontations. This is this faithful place I was talking about, because after resolution of these confrontations, relationships can blossom.”

David also mentions some of the challenges in an international church.  To hear the final segment, sign up for our free newsletter at and I will send you a secret link! Check out our conversation….

David Ostler gives messages from those struggling with faith.

Don’t miss our other conversations with David!

322: Ministering to Mormon & African Polygamists

321: Creating a Better Church Atmosphere

320: 3 Ways to Help People Keep Coming to Church

319: How Active Members Get Ostracized at Church

318: Helping Leaders Understand Faith Crisis