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Writing History Without Getting in Trouble (Part 9)

Dr. Daniel Stone is the first person to write about William Bickerton, the first prophet of the Bickertonite Church.  Some LDS Scholars got in trouble for writing true, but unflattering history.  I’ll ask Dr. Daniel Stone how he navigated those tricky waters in his church.

Daniel:  I wrote a proposal to the church and to the church historian and to the Twelve asking that I can write an objective history and I specifically said that. I was approved to do that under the umbrella of the church because I don’t think most of the people in the church actually knew….

I was able to get access to all these documents, which I think as far as I know no one has ever done before. So, it was really fun. I wrote the first five chapters of the book. I gave it to the church historian and the Twelve. They never gave me a clear answer as to yes or no. I will say I can kind of understand because as apostles or as leaders of the church, you as leadership of the church, none of them are historians, right? I am. The object of all has apostles in any one person of the Mormon movement is to promote faith, right? And history can sometimes be like that, so there might be some things. The big issue is the Cadman-Bickerton feud. They flat out said, I actually heard from a couple of them saying that’s the big issue that they were afraid of is the Cadman-Bickerton feud.

But what ended up happening was, is I just asked the general historian, I said, “Can I go independent with this?” He said yes.

GT: Because originally you were going to have it published by the church.

Daniel: Potentially. Yes. That was, that was what I had understood the agreement to be. And what ended up happening was there was some kind of miscommunication. I had a talk with some of the apostles and we basically came to the idea of this is a miscommunication. We never had you sign anything. So it’s not like we can say don’t publish it. And the Bickertonites to their credit are very democratic in a lot of senses. Even though some of the leadership does not support, I’m assuming, what I’m doing, my membership was never in danger. They might not necessarily agree with some of what I’m saying. And they flat out said, some of them had said, “We don’t agree with some of your interpretations. We think you’re speculative.”

My argument nicely is, “You have never read the documentation. I have.” I’m not trying to be like, oh look at me, I know, but I’m just like, no, read the documents for yourself because nobody has ever really done this. And then we can have a discussion, but just to flat out say it’s speculative. I’m like, well all history has that. My argument is, I have all footnotes. People can look at it, people can check my sources. No book is perfect, but I tried really hard.

It really is a great book and I encourage you to buy it!  Check out the rest of our conversation, as well as our previous conversations with Daniel!

I asked Dr. Daniel Stone if he had any trouble with Church leaders in writing his Bickerton biography.
I asked Dr. Daniel Stone if he had any trouble with Church leaders in writing his Bickerton biography.

203: Reuniting the Bickerton Break (Stone)

202: Ousting a Prophet (Stone)

201: False Prophecies Are Possible! (Stone)

200: Civil War Prophecy Leads to Black Ordination (Stone)

199: Biblical Support to Ordain Women (Stone)

198: Bickerton Becomes Prophet (Stone)

197: Sidney’s Church Falls Apart (Stone)

196: Rigdon/Spalding Manuscript Theory (Stone)

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Alice Cooper’s Roots in Lively Mormon Schisms

Have you ever heard the myth that Alice Cooper was a Mormon?  It turns out that’s partially true.  Historian John Hamer and Apostle Lachlan MacKay of the Community of Christ will talk about some lively Mormon meetings, and we’ll talk a little bit about Alice Cooper as well.

GT:  No, this is great.  We’ve talked about Sidney Rigdon and some of the others.

John:  Oh, by the way, even though his church atomized, there is an extant Rigdonite-tradition church, and it’s called the Church of Jesus Christ.  It’s headquartered in Monongahela, Pennsylvania.  A lot of times people, outsiders, call them the Bickertonites.  They don’t particularly like that.  It’s names after William Bickerton who was an early leader of that church after Sidney Rigdon.  So that is in the Rigdon tradition and it is sometimes seen as the third largest of the extant branches from 1844 with Brighamites being the largest, Josephites, or Community of Christ/RLDS Tradition being the second largest; third-largest being Rigdonite or Bickertonite branch, so they are a very interesting group.

They are headquartered in Monongahela, Pennsylvania.  They have kind of a Kirtland-era church where they do feet-washing.  They have their little pentocostal—they do everything by the spirit.  They don’t write down the talks.  You have to do it by the spirit, just like praying by the spirit….

GT:  Oh, wow.

John:  …and other interesting things like that. They were the first restoration-tradition church to have a black apostle back in the 1920s.

GT:  Oh, wow.

John:  So there is all kinds of—who is the—Alice Cooper.[1]

Lachlan:  Oh, his dad.

GT:  I’m glad you mentioned that.

John:  Alice Cooper, I’m trying to remember his name.  Alice Cooper’s is named, I don’t remember, Nephi or something like that.

GT:  [Ether Moroni Furnier].

John:  Yeah, so he was one of the presidents or one of the apostles.  His grandfather was like one of the apostles.  [Alice] is not like an active member.  He was raised in the church.  I don’t think he was actually even baptized.[2]

GT:  You said they were Pentecostal.  Did they speak in tongues?

John:  That’s what I meant by Pentecostal. I don’t mean modern Pentecostal.

GT:  Oh, not modern Pentecostal.

John:  No, not modern Pentecostal.  Yes they speak in tongues, but not like a modern Pentecostal church.  I didn’t mean it that way, but in that same way:  Pentecost in terms of speaking in tongues.

GT:  A person moved upon by the spirit, would they get up and start speaking just strange [language]?

John:  I haven’t actually been to a service where they’ve don’t it.  Have you been to one where they’ve done it?

Lachlan:  I drove by but wasn’t able to stop.

John:  I went to a regional conference and it was really amazing.  I don’t remember, but nobody actually spoke in tongues during it, but it was the liveliest Latter Day Saint tradition service I have ever been to.  Some traditions, churches are kind of notoriously boring within the tradition.  I won’t point fingers, but this was the opposite of that.

Because at any given moment, the person who is presiding would say, “Brother Lach, do you feel like you can come up and speak to us on tithing?”

{Lachlan shrugs}

John:  And so you would come up and give a speech.  Do you feel to do a musical number?  I mean literally there was no program and you don’t know when it’s even going to end.  At a certain point I’m thinking, “What are they going to call on me to do?”  I’ve got to think what I’m going to say.  {chuckles}  It’s very active and lively.  It was really great.

We’ll also talk about differences between the LDS Church and RLDS Church.  What’s the difference between a pastor and a bishop?   Check out our conversation…..  (Don’t forget to listen to our discussion about people vying for leadership following Joseph Smith’s death.)


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[1] Alice Cooper was a famous man from the “shock-rock” performer from the 1970s.  His performances included special effects that made it appear his head was chopped off, and other gruesome acts during the concert.  He continues to perform.  He was born February 4, 1948 and his birth name was Vincent Damon Furnier.

[2] More information can be found at https://mormonheretic.org/2010/07/20/the-mormon-myth-about-alice-cooper/

 

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Black Pete: Former Slave Becomes First Black Mormon

I really enjoyed sitting down with Dr. Mark Staker of the LDS Church History Library.  Mark is a historian and has written about the first community that accepted the Mormon Church in Kirtland, Ohio.  I was surprised to learn that a former slave by the name of Black Pete was one of the leaders of this early Mormon community!  In part 1 of our interview, we’ll talk about Black Pete’s introduction of speaking in tongues and his leadership in the fledgling Mormon community in 1830-1831.  I think it’s a great interview!  Please listen.

Here’s a transcript, or you can get one on Amazon.com as well!  Check out the video below!