For religion humor writers everywhere,
this is like a gift from heaven.
Just not in the way the Mormon church claims.
We’d open with “you can’t make this stuff up” were it not for the fact that somebody obviously made this stuff up.
For years, the official origin story of the Book of Mormon was that it was an ancient text engraved on gold-like plates, and that Joseph Smith translated it under divine guidance and by use of a sacred device called the urim and thummim.
But the official story has been morphing of late. It had to. That Internet thing has made available a number of inconvenient accounts from newspapers and personal journals of Smith’s day. And they tell rather a different story.
The updated official story is that Smith rarely used the urim and thummin to translate the gold plates after all. In fact, he rarely used even the plates. During most of the translation process, neither the urim and thummim nor the gold plates were anywhere near him.
How, you may wonder, did Smith translate from plates that were in absentia?
By use of a seer stone.
And a hat.
Here’s how the translation process worked:
Oddly enough, the finicky stone refused to work for anyone else.
At least, that’s what old journals, newspapers, and now the Mormon church claim.
The Mormon church had been hanging on to Smith’s seer stone all along, even throughout the years they never talked about it.
Yesterday the church released a photo of the stone. That’s it on the right. Do you feel anything as you gaze upon it? We kind of feel like chuckling.
How the LDS church has typically portrayed the Book of Mormon translation process.
Now the LDS church says that translation was effected by use of a “seer stone.” A hat was also required equipment.
© 1999 Institute for Religious Research