I remember the first time I heard the milk strippings story.
It’s about a guy named Thomas Marsh, and how his wife was upset over an agreement about milk strippings, this is used as a cautionary tale on how holding a grudge over something trivial can lead to apostasy. The reason the story stuck out to me was twofold. First I had no clue what milk strippings even were. Second came after understanding what milk strippings were and how petty Thomas and his wife seemed in their disbelief.
All this occurred long before I learned what a strawman logical fallacy is. 1 Which this argument clearly fits even if its 100% true. But the rabbit hole goes deeper. It was during my own research into church history that you find out there were a lot of other reasons that Thomas Marsh had which could cause him doubt. But that never was the focus of the milk stripping stories, I did find a breadcrumb (milk stain? ;)) when researching this post though. Here’s a quote from the most recent version of it that I could find.
“Within a few months, Marsh fell prey to a spirit of apostasy, as had many others. He was among several Latter-day Saints who became disturbed by the increasingly violent relationship between Church members and their Missouri neighbors…” 2
Following these two sentences there are nearly 4 times as many words dedicated to explaining the ‘milk strippings’ incident and the subsequent apostasy of the Marsh family. Don’t take my word for it, read it yourself here.
The first time I heard the milk stripping story, there wasn’t a blip of any other reason for leaving the church. That may be because the other reasons actually make a lot more sense. Turns out that Marsh was concerned about church leadership ordering the killing of people who opposed it. Seems a bit less trivial than stealing the cream of of some milk right?
Why would church leaders omit (carefully word) this important fact? Maybe because they didn’t know the full history. Or maybe like some apologists I have met they believe people should get milk before meat when it comes to these ‘concerns’ about early church history. Which got me to thinking.
What if a first discussion basically threw all the meat out there. What if you didn’t get the milk discussion where JS was a 14 year old boy, who talked to God, then got called to translate an ancient book and bring God’s one true church back to earth after a great apostasy?
Here’s my shot at that sort of discussion. One where you get full disclosure of the timeline and when things were written down and talked about based on careful study of the historical records:
So there was a man named Joseph Smith, he said he saw God at age 14 in 1820, but didn’t write anything down about until 1832… But he did write down things about meeting an angel named Moroni in 1827 who he said talked to him 4 years before that. Yes some of the history books show the angel was named Nephi, but that was crossed out and Moroni written in the margins, but don’t worry it was a mistake early historians made and other ones copied. No big deal.
Anyway in 1826, the year before he got the golden book Joseph Smith was charged with glass looking, a misdemeanor of fraud. This is a practice where he’d put this rock in a hat and have a vision where buried treasure was located and charge people for doing this. Some people took him to court for being deceptive about his powers to find hidden treasure, but he paid the fine so nothing to worry about, it was just some of the peccadillo’s he admitted to having before becoming a prophet. It’s not that important.
What is important is from 1827 to 1830 some of the time he was busy using that same (glass looking) rock in a hat translating the Book of Mormon. Well, most of the time, there was this other device called a Urim and Thumim that he might have used, but no one really talks about it on record. They all bring up the chocolate rock, and honestly he liked the original seer stone he found in Sally Chase’s well more for visionary tasks like translating the golden plates that the angel
Nephi Moroni gave to him.
The way we KNOW this was a miraculous translation is because Joseph Smith said he only worked on the translation for a couple of months during those two years. Obviously had to keep farming, plus there was that time that he said God got mad at him and wouldn’t let him have the plates to translate from. Not that he actually needed the plates because most accounts of the translation indicate they weren’t even present in the room at the time of translation. Don’t forget that he said God was mad about it so you should really believe him when he said he lost the power to translate and that’s why it took to years when he only really worked on it for a few months.
Then in 1830 Joe started a church based on the book he’d published originally as the author and then changed to translator on the title page. He declared himself prophet of this new religion. So in 1838 we finally see the first vision actually in print for the first time, where God tell’s Joseph to there aren’t really any correct churches on the earth so that’s why he needed to start one. Just like he did 8 years before he actually wrote down that vision. But the fact that record of the first vision came a long time after the Book of Mormon doesn’t mean the vision didn’t happen before. Really, trust me on this. Also the lack of discussion of the first vision in the historical record till the mid 1850s shouldn’t bother you either, because really the main focus was on Moroni and the golden book back then. It wasn’t till later the church realized how important the first vision was.
I almost forgot in 1837 Joseph the prophet had a revelation about starting a bank, it was named the Kirkland Safety Society and well it wasn’t really a legal bank, so they called it an anti-bank. But even though Jospeh prophesied that people who invested in it would be rich it eventually failed. God told Joseph that was the fault of the people investing in it, they weren’t being good, nice members of the church. Maybe God wanted a little payback for that time back in 1832 when the members tarred and fathered the prophet for hitting on a young girl.
That brings us to the 1840’s. Oh wait I almost forgot, speaking of 1831-1832. Thats when Joseph Smith found out polygamy was totally legit (after reading the Bible one night) and started doing it with Fanny Alger as an extra wife. His first wife Emma wasn’t very happy with all that (something about an indecent in a barn), and kept complaining about all these wives he seemed to be acquiring over the years so in 1843 God told her (via her husband Joseph) that she needed to put up and shut up or she’d be destroyed which luckily as modern day scripture in D&C 132! <have investigator read D&C 132 52:55>
Anyway the prophet Joseph was just persecuted a lot because he was talking to God. It really had nothing to do with sleeping with other women and proposing marriage to 14, I mean nearly 15 year old girls. Not at all. This guy was a prophet! He did what God said to do. But he wasn’t always perfect at it, there was that time when he was telling women that God sent an angel with a sword to make sure he was doing the polygamy thing, he had to do it, it wasn’t like he wanted to at all.
Sometime after the bank failed in Kirkland, the prophet got a revelation to leave town and move the whole church… a couple of times actually, people really, really hated God’s chosen! And eventually they all ended up in a city they built called Nauvoo. There a lot of the churches leaders bought up a bunch of the swampland and sold it to new converts that heard the call of the prophet to ‘come to zion.’ The fact that the leaders made 10X to 40X their money on that deal shouldn’t bother you at all, they had to make a living too right?
It was in Nauvoo that Joe made himself the general of the Nauvoo legion. He also created another secret council of fifty, who decided to have him run for presided of the United States. He really needed to be president to stop all this persecution ordering hits on the governor clearly wasn’t getting them respite. Plus God had revealed to him the best form of government was a theocracy where people voted but God lead by prophets. It wasn’t really clear if people voted in prophets or not… seems like they just got to agree they were gonna sustain them and swear on penalty of death to never speak bad of God’s anointed.
Nauvoo was a booming town, but all these lies about the prophets polygamy were coming to light.. um I guess they weren’t technically lies, but the people that didn’t like the church were exposing his polygamy practices! I mean even the second Elder of the church (William Law) got in on the persecution and started a newspaper that printed the names of all the polygamist wives. What a terrible man to expose such an uncomfortable fact!
This of course caused the people of Nauvoo to be very upset when they read about the mayor of Nauvoo in 1844 (who was Joseph the prophet) having all these extra wives. Who knows maybe they were jealous. But you can only imagine how this weighed on the good prophet’s mind. He had to order the printing press destroyed! Even if the polygamy accusations were technically true you can understand how he couldn’t just let such problems in his city exist right? I mean yeah he was running for president and like the first amendment protecting the freedom of the press was fresh on the books and all. That would be a crazy thing too and might upset the non-mormon neighbors! He couldn’t have them thinking bad things about a potential presidential candidate right?
So when they tried to arrest Joseph for trumped up charges about destroying a press of course he ran… which made the evil people in the US legal system trump up the charges even more to calling him a traitor. Such a dumb charge could only be based only on the fact that he was preaching theocratic rule, and running for president in a nation that had just recently passed the first amendment separating church and state so that religious tyrannies couldn’t form. Why anyone in the area might think a guy that could convince a city nearly as large as Chicago at the time to vote for him to destroy a printing press could become president where he might create a theocracy one can only imagine…
After Joseph ran he changed his mind and did the honorable thing. His friends had told him they knew God would protect him, so he decided to return to face the charges ending up in Carthage. He made sure to tell his friends that convinced him to return that he was going like a lamb to the slaughter…Which was prophetically true!
You see he gave his life in a pistol fight in that very jail where he turned himself in… Only a prophet of god would do such a thing. Would you give your life unwillingly for something you really didn’t believe in? Of course not!
Now that you know the history of this wonderful man. Will you read this book full of all sorts of anachronisms that liberally uses the language of the late war (a common student primer at the time) and pray to see if Joseph Smith really was a prophet? Don’t forget that the book copies a lot of the Bible and how that makes it true! What makes it even more true is how it copies stuff in the Bible that wasn’t even in there until it showed up in the King James version! So prophetic a book is the Book of Mormon that it was able to have future mistakes of the Bible in it!
Please trust me, I didn’t get to learn all things about the church up front like you did, but I can totally shelve all my doubts and still believe. Being Mormon is awesome and I want you to be one too! Because if you do like I do, shelve your concerns, set aside your doubts and just believe that it all makes sense, then you too can know this is ALL true!
Hmmm, maybe milk before meat isn’t a good idea if you want more converts…Meat can be kinda hard to swallow if you haven’t already swallowed the milk! But what ever you do, don’t let the milk strippings like these keep you from believing the Fridge is true!
In the name of Frozen Ice, Amen
- I dare bet that some will read this, probably apologists and they will declare this entire post on the Fridge a strawman argument. After all they would take umbrage at someone not telling the version they preferred is ‘presented’. But is it really a strawman if you are more accurately depicting the timeline and history? I don’t think so. I will let the reader decide. None of the events depicted in this telling are made up. They are all legit, and most of them you can find out by following the footnote trails right there in LDS topics on the stuff. They aren’t technically hiding it. It’s just seems like they are counting on the fact you won’t follow the footnotes on your own and get the full picture. Your laziness in taking them at their word plays to their hand. My suggestion if you want to be informed? Do your own research. I say if you want to be informed because I have met many that would rather not know. If knowledge doesn’t matter to you there’s nothing I can say that will change it. You are lost to the Fridge in that case. But don’t worry there is no Fridge hell for lazy people. It’s all cold when we die! ↩
- Did you notice the careful wording? Church leaders ordering the death of their opponents is an ‘increasingly violent relationship.’ I’ll bet dollars to donuts this wording was written by an apologist from FAIR. ↩