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A bridge to nowhere
on November 12, 2013
First off, I suppose there must always be one that says "sour grapes". I am no scholar just a reader who was intrigued by the title of the book. I have read Bushman's biography of Joseph Smith and found it hard to put down. So, given all the glowing reviews, I was hopeful for this book. The author is obviously erudite and educated and his writing shows it. But, after reading it, I have come to the conclusion that it reminds me of the old saying, "When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail!"
Mr. Brown seems to be making the case that everything that Joseph Smith ever said, ever did, or ever thought was motivated by his struggle with Death. Hardly believable, but it does makes it necessary to span the chasm of disbelief. And so, the bridge. On one side he assembles the world of 19th century America, Joseph Smith, and, of course, the King of Terrors. It is quite a collection of pertinent building materials, consisting of facts(true and otherwise), myths, stories, social and cultural mores,and whatever can be dug up. Using these, he then builds a bridge, which appears to me, to be constructed mostly of assumptions and conclusions to assumptions. With these, he spans the gulf and connects it to the religion of Joseph, its origins, thought, actions, ideas, and innovations. It is quite a job and quite a story, but to me, it is an awful rickety bridge.