There are many good and bad things in Mormon history. Some people leave the Church over these issues. John Larsen of the Sunstone Podcast asks Rick Bennett why he stays in the LDS Church.
John: So why are you still Mormon?
Rick: (Chuckling) So you know, at Sunstone they have that, Why I Stay series.
John: It’s the most popular session.
Rick: In my case, I would say, and I think Claudia Bushman said this, so I can’t claim credit for it. But why would I leave? I mean, there’s a lot about the LDS Church that I love. I love a lot of the theology. I’m not a fan of polygamy. I love the Book of Mormon. I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet. My Dan Vogel [interview], we got into the first vision narratives. Are there some problems? Absolutely. There are some problems. Are there problems with polygamy? Absolutely. Are there problems with Mountain Meadows massacre? Absolutely. But everybody has problems. There’s no perfect church. There never was, never has been. I know John Hamer has said, “If you were to start the perfect church today, tomorrow, you’d make a mistake, and it wouldn’t be perfect anymore.” So, I think that’s kind of how I feel. My Church isn’t perfect. I know that. The imperfect parts are the stuff that interests me. (Chuckling)
Rick: But it’s a good church. There’s good values. I believe in the restoration. So why would I leave?
We talk about other issues, like how Rick handles Mountain Meadows Massacre, polygamy, and other issues. Check out our conversation….
Many people in the 19th century believed in magic. We’re not talking parlor tricks. We’re talking about real magic. In our next conversation with Clair Barrus, we will talk about how these magical spirits and magic circles were believed to help people like Joseph Smith find buried treasure. We’ll talk about the combination of magical masonry.
Clair: Lucy Mack Smith, when she was writing her family memoir. She had several drafts, and we have the earlier drafts. In this early draft, she says something to the effect, “Well, we didn’t spend all of our time trying to win the faculty of Abrac, or soothsaying or drawing magic circles, we did attend to our business and took care of it.” That’s it, in essence, and then she doesn’t go on and then the next draft, there’s nothing. So we have this tantalizing tidbit and it’s interesting to go, “Hmm, what in the world is she talking about?” Well, we know, of course, the Smiths were heavily involved in treasure seeking. This phraseology is, I believe, about treasure seeking. But it also has a Masonic origin, an interesting Masonic origin. So Abracadabra was a magic word. It goes way, way back. It probably had something to do with trying to conjure up the deity Abraxas and you can find it in all sorts of books going way back. If you narrow that down, though, to the word Abrac, so Abracadabra. If you draw a triangle, a magic triangle, and the bottom line has Abracadabra, and then it’s a little shorter and shorter. At the top is letter A, that is a magic abracadabra triangle.
Clair: Magic Circle is not in the Leland manuscript, but it is something that the Smiths did, and other treasure seekers [did] when trying to recover a buried treasure. When you draw a magic circle with a dagger, and the Smith’s had a ceremonial dagger with an occult symbol in it, it was quite likely used for drawing magic circles in the ground. When a magician would draw a magic circle, it was used to either keep spirits out or keep them in or to protect the magician that was in the circle or protect others that were in the circle. It was creating a magical barrier that couldn’t be crossed.
GT: When you’re saying magician, you’re not using that in today’s term where it’s just a guy who does optical illusions.
Clair: This is not parlor tricks.
GT: This is actually, they believed they were doing magic.
Clair: Yes, this is ceremonial magic. This is something the Smiths did. If we want, I can read a very interesting quote about Joseph Smith, Sr. Well, I’ll just summarize it. Joseph Smith, Sr. drew two magic circles. Then he puts rods of witch hazel sticks around the two circles and then in the very center he draws in a rod of iron. What he’s really doing is creating a cone. There’s an outer circle and an inner circle and then a point. It’s supposed to represent a 3D cone going down into the ground, holding the treasure at this point inside of this cone. Then Joseph Smith, Sr. walks around the circle three times, and he’s described as muttering. Well, he’s probably using magic words, a spell, some kind of ceremonial magic and maybe the word abracadabra might have been part of it. We don’t know, or Abrac or something. Then that’s supposed to help protect the treasure from the spirits.
Clair: He then goes into the house and asks Joseph Smith, who is looking in his seer stone in the hat and he says, “Joseph.” And then they dig. They had dug, and there’s no treasure. They go in the house, “Joseph what happened?” he says. He [Joseph, Jr.] has been watching the spirit interacting with this cone, these magic circles that Joseph Smith, Sr. has drawn. Joseph [Jr.] said that the Spirit was able to get the treasure and move it through the earth and they lost it. They had made a mistake during some part of the ritual, and that’s why they lost the treasure. It’s a fascinating account. I can’t remember if it’s William Stafford that wrote this. It’s a fascinating account. It gives you [a] very detailed [account] into what the Smiths would do.
Find out more about magic lamens! Check out our conversation…and don’t miss our previous conversations with Clair!
There are many types of masonry. Freemasonry has broken up into several different organizations. In our next conversation with Clair Barrus, he will tell us a little bit about these different organizations and how they differ from each other.
Clair: So it’s a little bit complicated. So the foundational masonry is Craft or Blue Lodge Masonry, that’s the first three degrees. These other things that branch out from that are not above it. This is considered top: Master Mason. There’s three degrees and you end up Master Mason.
There’s York Rite and there’s Scottish Rite masonry. In America, different degrees would kind of get imported over from Europe where masonry was more established and would independently get started up here and there. Then as time went on, people would say, we better organize this group of degrees, and we better organize that group of degrees. So you have a building of what they called York Rite, cried even though there was another York Rite in England, but there’s an Americanized York Rite, and that’s primarily what I talk about. There’s a Scottish Rite that was more popular over there, but that was also here. They all tell similar stories. They all talk about temple. Masonry is all about temple, either temple grounds, or in the temple, itself. It can be different temples, but it’s all about temples. In York Rite, you have the foundational three degrees, the first three degrees of Craft or Blue Lodge Masonry, it’s called. And then you have a set of degrees called Royal Arch Masonry, another set of degrees called Cryptic Rite Masonry, and another set of degrees called Knights Templar Masonry. So that’s the York Rite, and each of those sets of degrees have interesting things. I think in particular, Royal Arch Masonry and Cryptic Rite Masonry have interesting parallels with Joseph Smith, and may have been influential.
Clair: So, can I tell you about Cryptic Rite Masonry?
Clair: So Cryptic Rite Masonry comes from the word crypt. The rituals and the myth of Cryptic Rite Masonry has to do with Enoch, the prophet Enoch and mount Moriah, which later is where Solomon’s Temple would be built.
Clair: Now let’s fast forward to Royal Arch Masonry, which is really the story of masonry in about 600 BC. [This is] about the time that the temple gets destroyed. There are temple ruins. Some people come, going through the temple rubble, masons find a stone lid, which is the lid that Enoch had created, which is the entrance to the cryptic temple. They open up that stone lid, they descend down into there, and there they find the Ark of the Covenant. There are actually nine chambers in this underground temple, and the Ark of the Covenant. So there’s a missing piece of the story. We don’t know how the ark got in there, but it does. This ought to sound familiar to Indiana Jones fans.