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Sidney’s Unsung Role in Restoration (Part 3)

Historian Steve Shields tells us that Sidney’s unsung role in the early Church was larger than LDS or RLDS historians have acknowledged.  When Sidney joined with Joseph, Sidney’s followers overwhelmed the small group of Smith followers.  Should it be called the Smith-Ridgon movement?

Steve:      But, eventually, the Rigdon followers outnumber the Smith followers five or six to one. And so, I argue it really ought to be called the Smith-Rigdon Movement rather than the Latter-day Saint movement. Because in the beginning the word “Latter-day Saint” wasn’t even there, and it was Rigdon who came up with that.

GT:  Oh, it was?

Steve: Oh yeah.

GT:  Oh really?

Steve: [In] 1834 Rigdon announces that the church will now be called the Church of the Latter-day Saints.

GT:  I knew that they changed the name, but I didn’t know Rigdon was behind it.

Steve: Oh yeah.

Who else were highly influenced by Rigdon?  Do you think Sidney’s role has been downplayed in the modern LDS and RLDS Churches?  Check out our conversation….

Historian Steve Shields argues that Sidney's Unsung Role in the Restoration should be more widely acknowledged by LDS and RLDS historians.
Historian Steve Shields argues that Sidney’s Unsung Role in the Restoration should be more widely acknowledged by LDS and RLDS historians.

Don’t forget to check out our other conversations with Steve!

225: Steve’s Shields Own Divergent Path

224: Who Owns the Temple Lot?

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Nancy & Sara’s Spiritual Journey (Part 2)

After the disappointment with Kate Kelly’s excommunication, how did Nancy and Sara react?  Are they still active in the LDS Church?  What has their spiritual journey been like?  Check out their answers!

Nancy:  About 18 months ago I was confirmed in Community of Christ and I was one of the people that helped to create the group, the little congregation and that I belong to in St George and I’ve been doing that ever since and I’m very happy with that. In many ways my Mormon feminist experience has really prepared me to kind of claim a faith for myself that it wasn’t necessarily tightly defined by an institution.

Sara:  I felt very scared and I felt I was having panic attacks whenever I would go to church. And so, I felt like I had to kind of take a step back and I didn’t go for a few months. I had intended to not go for longer. I was like, I need to take a break of a year. And, I’m such a Mormon girl. I’m such a religiously inclined person that I couldn’t even hold to my own expectations. I went back to church after just a few months and started attending again. And I had a very supportive ward at the time.

And I loved relating to the people there. But my journey since then has been, it’s just gotten more and more nuanced. And I’ve had to find a way to relate to the church and relate to my own Mormonism that was very different than how I expected it to be growing up.

Find out more about Nancy’s ordination, and how Sara relates to the LDS Church now!  Don’t forget to check out part 1!

Nancy Ross describe their spiritual Journey in Mormonism.
Nancy Ross describe their spiritual Journey in Mormonism.
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Surprising Word of Wisdom Insights from an Apostle

One of Mormonism’s most well-known revelations is the Word of Wisdom.  Apostle Lachlan MacKay of the Community of Christ discusses the historical context of the Word of Wisdom.  It turns out that 19th century saints had no problem serving wine at weddings, and beer wasn’t forbidden.  While many of us have heard of Prohibition, Temperance, and strong drinks, did you know that alcohol was used for ritual cleansing in the Kirtland Temple?

Lachlan:  You get to Kirtland Temple and it expands a little bit.  They would do a ritual cleansing outside the temple in the schoolhouse behind the temple or sometimes in Joseph’s home, so with cinnamon whiskey and perfumed water, ritual cleansing.  Put on clean clothes.  Go to the third floor of the temple, anoint the head with oil, sealing or confirming blessing of that anointing and then feet washing downstairs.  That took weeks, so it’s not something you do in an afternoon.  They spent months or years in preparation for that.

The process took weeks, and through that process, they understood that they were then empowered by the Holy Spirit and could go into the world.  We wouldn’t allow our missionaries to go oversees until they had been endowed with power.  So even 1839, most of the members have left Kirtland.  There are new missionaries who were not there in the 1830s.  Joseph had them detour through Kirtland—Theodore Turley, John Taylor among them.  Brigham Young goes with [them] so that they can be empowered by the Holy Spirit, and only then could they sail to the United Kingdom.

GT:  Oh wow.  You also had mentioned they didn’t bathe everyday like we do now.

Lachlan:  Yeah, so I think that cinnamon whiskey would cleanse,[1] it would sterilize.  It would make them smell better, so it was purification physically, spiritually, in every way in preparation to go to the temple.

But that’s not all.  Lachlan also tells about his fear of having a Word of Wisdom cook during youth camps!

GT chuckles:  And then you also mentioned something about eating meat sparingly.  I think you said some people wouldn’t eat between Easter and, was it Thanksgiving?

Lachlan:  Thanksgiving.  Yeah, I know Community of Christ members, this would not be typical at all, but I do know members who would not eat meat between Easter and Thanksgiving, which meant that whenever I visited there was tuna noodle casserole {chuckles}, because they didn’t consider fish meat.  We do a lot of camps in Community of Christ, both as youth camps and family camps.  My greatest fear as a kid was having a Word of Wisdom cook:  not much meat, lots of whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables. Now I spend a lot of time at camps, and my greatest fear is that we won’t have a Word of Wisdom cook.

What about the use of tobacco for cattle?

GT:  Ok.  There’s another reference that I wanted to mention.  In fact I was going to ask this in the class today but I didn’t:  the reference to tobacco.  It says for “for all sick cattle.”[2]  Tom Kimball was nice enough to send me a copy of Mormonism Unvailed, the first anti-Mormon book ever that Dan Vogel just recently put some awesome footnotes in there.  I do remember E.D. Howe, who was definitely an anti-Mormon, a little bit over the top.  It was kind of interesting to read that book.  One of the things that he made fun of was the Word of Wisdom.  He said, “well if you’re supposed to use this for sick cattle, what are you doing?”  {everyone chuckles}  [Joseph] didn’t prescribe that very well.  Do you have any idea what that reference was?

Lachlan:  I was just having a discussion with somebody who saw that it was often used for poultices,[3] maybe that’s the bruised part of the tobacco more than anything.  The cattle part, this might be highly speculative, but it’s one of the things I want to track down.  I was at the tow path on a canal in New Hope, Pennsylvania not long ago, reading an interpretive panel, and it talked about how the mules as they got tired would be given tobacco!  {chuckles}

Lach has a lot of other amazing insights!  Check out our conversation…..

Don’t forget to listen to our interview with Greg Prince on the Word of Wisdom, as well as our previous episode discussing why the Word of Wisdom led to James Strang’s death in Michigan.

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[1] D&C 89:7 reads, “And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.”

[2] D&C 89:8 reads, “And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.”

[3] a soft, moist mass of material, typically of plant material or flour, applied to the body to relieve soreness and inflammation and kept in place with a cloth.