Talk:First Vision/Archive 8

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Section Switching

No reason has been provided for switching a perfectly NPOV section on the evolving importance of the First Vision to the section on "criticism." It's not criticism; it's historical fact well sourced. If you don't care to answer me, at least answer Tom Haws:

"My comment above was about the long-standing version of the paragraph. I find the new version of the "evolving importance" paragraph to be a deterioration. Its tone is indeed poor, and it is less informative in spite of being better referenced. I vote for a revert to the long-standing incarnation." Tom Haws 15:39, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

--John Foxe 19:37, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure hawstom was talking about the paragraph in the lead, not where it should be placed in the 'response' section. 74s181 22:38, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
"...perfectly NPOV...not criticism...historical fact..." Keep saying it, John Foxe, you're almost up to 1000. 74s181 22:38, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
"...No reason..." Plenty of reasons have been provided. Funny thing is, you left part of this criticism down in the criticism section in your last flurry of edits. Why is that? 74s181 22:38, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
It is not NPOV. It makes statements of fact that are really historians' and theologians' analyses of the records, such as the statement that the emphasis is a late nineteenth century development (that same statement is used down in the criticism section, but is properly attributed). It's challenged by apologists, therefore it belongs in the counterpoint to the apologists' section. And please don't play the "historical facts" card. As one historian has stated:
"[T]he fact of the matter is that the "facts" of LDS history do not necessarily speak for themselves. It is as important to remember that the very same descriptions of the very same events can take on radically different meanings when they are placed in different settings as it is to keep in mind that "inside" and "outside" perceptions of what was happening differed at practically every point in LDS history."
That section is plain and simple an interpretation of historical facts that makes up part of the criticism of the accounts. Hence I've tried to merge it with that paragraph and reduce reduncacies. --FyzixFighter 00:58, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
The section you've moved to criticism is not criticism. It's historical fact and is NPOV. No one but Mormons believe that the development of the First Vision was not a late century development. Of course Mormon apologists have to wrack their brains trying to turn lemons into lemon aid, and apologists should get their hearing. But what they say has nothing to do with historical truth.--John Foxe 11:24, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
Then we are at a disagreement about what is interpretation of historical fact and what is simply fact. I hold to that quote above about historical "facts" when dealing with LDS history. Care to try some form of more formal dispute resolution? The best way to objectively argue that it is NPOV is to get a third party or parties to come and evaluate it since we both have rather passionate opinions about this. --FyzixFighter 14:55, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
Welcome to the club. If you don't already know, this point is currently under discussion. See Wikipedia:Requests for comment/John Foxe. There is a long history of discussions with John about the difference between historical facts and the interpretation of historical facts. -- wrp103 (Bill Pringle) (Talk) 17:16, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm not keen on your quotation from an unnamed (but undoubtedly Mormon) historian, FyzixFighter. It has a wonderfully convenient post-modern ring. No matter what the subject discussed, you can always claim that my perception is either "inside" or "outside" and therefore wrong.
Mormon editors regularly ridicule my belief in truth. While I'm always ready to stand corrected—as you've done with those quotations from Taylor—admitting my mistakes has no bearing on truth's existence. As I said above, the section you've moved to the criticism section is not criticism. It's historical fact. All non-Mormon scholars and many Mormon scholars agree that the LDS emphasis on the First Vision was a gradual process. (I mean, no one but the inner circle had a clue about it until after 1840, and Brigham Young didn't give a fig for the doctrine.) It's true to the same degree that "Mars is a planet." Those Mormons who refuse to admit that the proposition is true do so only to defend religious dogma—and perhaps the living prophet who seems determined to hang the truth of the whole religion on its verity. Apologists should have their place in this article, but their dogmas should not stand on par with historical fact. What conservative Mormons want to do is to have "critics" say one thing and "apologists" another (preferably in reverse order), thus giving the two sides a equivalence that is not only wrong but immoral. This is the larger issue I've been fighting here for months.
Having said that, I have no problem joining with you in either finding a way to finesse the issue in this article or in asking for an impartial third-party to evaluate our divergent views.--John Foxe 21:27, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
Actually the quote is from Jan Shipps, "Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition". Interesting how you automatically assumed it was a Mormon apologist when it didn't suit your definition of historical facts. And it doesn't give me license to call your perception wrong, but I can call it your perception, neither right or wrong. Same goes for my perception. You're the one that has been summarily dismissing any perception that does square with yours. And why are you so adamant about refusing to admit any other proposition? Can I assume you're doing it to defend the religious dogma of mainstream Christianity? No, because that violates WP:AGF, so please grant the other side of the debate the same respect. What are historical facts are the various accounts given, and the various records we have of retellings of the stories in the subsequent decades. What's not historical fact, but rather interpretation is the analysis that leads to the conclusion that it was a late 19th century development and so forth (and hence not a real event, but some invention of Joseph Smith).
And pardon me if I am cautious about your offer to have a third-party come in. Weren't you the same editor that refused mediation and saw any attempt by the other LDS editors to do this as a "Mormon smokescreen". I've asked a third-party in before when I had a disagreement with you, and you're response was to edit war, to not pursue other wikipedia means of dispute resolution, and, when you didn't get to push your POV, to end with a veiled personal attack, calling me and the third party "petty". --FyzixFighter 01:36, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
I like Jan Shipps as a person, but she's popular with Mormons for just the sort of linguistic rambles as the words you've quoted.
You suggested third-party mediation. I extended my hand.--John Foxe 02:02, 21 October 2007 (UTC)


I'm certainly not opposed to arbitration of the issue regarding whether the "evolving importance" section is historical fact or criticism.--John Foxe 00:44, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

John Foxe, do you mean arbitration (WP:RFAR) or mediation (WP:RFM)? Main difference is, mediation is voluntary, arbitration is not. For the record, I've asked for mediation in the past, but I don't know if "evolving importance" is the thing that most needs to be mediated. If we can reach a consensus on "Fairness of tone" then we may be able to move forward without mediation. 74s181 10:43, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
I just thought that it might be helpful to have a single narrow issue, even if comparatively unimportant, presented to a wider audience.--John Foxe 19:09, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Bloated introduction

The intro of this article is bloated. There are five citations on a section that is supposed to be a sumamry. The last paragraph is a pro/con thinly veiled criticism section that is covered elsewhere, and should not be in the article summary. The "good article" examples I have seen have no citations in the intro, and the intro does not delve in to the specifics of the issues related to the subject. I really think the first paragraph is enough, but based on the banter on the talk page, I honestly feel trepidation at being bold. Bytebear 21:48, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't blame you. The citations have been virtually mandated by the contentious nature of the editing; nearly every word has been fought over, sometimes repeatedly. I like the second paragraph, but I opposed inclusion of the last one to avoid having the terms "critics" and "apologists" mentioned in the lede. If you want to remove it, I have no objection.--John Foxe 22:19, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
I will remove the last paragraph. I think the second paragraph could be tighetened up, with maybe a short history of the various versions, and a comment about how it was not widely promoted until it was canonized. That should (hopefully) appease all interested parties. Bytebear 22:56, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
Ok, I tightened up the intro, and I think it reads pretty good now. I would like to start working on the rest of the article, starting with the "Historic Background" section, which is really way to detailed for what is needed in this article. As far as I can tell, the only thing relating to the First Vision is (maybe) that Smith's parents were open to the idea of visions. Other than that, this paragraph is a lot of detail that as I read it makes me wonder what I am supposed to be understanding. I feel like I am missing some insider information somewhere, and only because I am familiar with the subject matter do I see a very slight tangential connection. Otherwise it is all insignificant fluff. Bytebear 23:46, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
I agree that the lead should be a very high level summary of the article, statements shouldn't be contentious or specific enough to need references. However, this view of the lead has been resisted by other editors, 74s181 01:53, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm happy with what you've done with the second paragraph, but I'll be surprised if it is acceptable to all as you've removed the 'increased in importance' POV. 74s181 01:53, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, I didn't remove the "POV' but I did sumarize it with the phrase "it gained influential status" which I think is the same idea. Bytebear 05:40, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
I hope that what you've done will be allowed to stand. 74s181 12:36, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
As I expected, John Foxe has removed the historical facts and re-inserted the 'not emphasized' POV back into the lead. His edit comment - (some revisions of the lead) 74s181 20:14, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
If the lead is going to be a summary of the article it needs to mention that a substantial part of the article is criticism of the First Vision. IMHO the lead should identify the types of criticism in a high level way, but any attempt to identify anything as criticism has been fiercely resisted. 74s181 01:53, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
I disagree. Criticism of the event is not required in a summary. The summary should explain the event, and the body can go into those details. If the reader reads the intro, they should have an idea of what the article is about. Criticisms do not fall under this definition. Bytebear 05:40, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
I apologize for not being clear. I agree that the lead should not contain specific examples of criticism, but I also think that it needs to mention that there is criticism and identify the general types. For example, the four significant POVs you identified (true, fabricated, exagerated, of the devil) should be stated in the lead and the article should expand on each of them. 74s181 12:36, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
re: "Smith family religious beliefs" This section suffers from severe POV bloat, even more so than the rest of the article. John Foxe added 'money digging' and 'Faculty of Abrac', these had to be neutralized and balanced, JF resisted, added more negative POV, etc., etc, however, I am probably as much to blame as John Foxe, I have also been pretty stubborn. I agree with most of your assessment of the purpose of this section, I would add that JS,Sr.'s 'Universalist' background prepared his family to accept the idea that all existing churches were false. Interestingly, it was John Foxe who added the 'Bible was a work of priestcraft' which actually supports the LDS view. If you can clarify this section and maintain neutral POV then go for it. 74s181 01:53, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
Smith's "money digging" has no place in this article as it is completly irrelivant. I do think some space should be used for explaining how Smith was raised so that he and his family would be accepting of such a vision. The Bible issue is not really important, but the idea of all churches being wrong may be as it may have affected his "story" assuming it was a story. We need to be very careful with our approach balancing the idea that the story is 1) true, 2) completely made up or 3) somewhat true but exagerated as time went on 3) true to Joseph in his mind anyway, and 4) a vision from the devil (a very minority view, but should be expressed). The reader should decide, and all references to these three approaces. No original research, and no assumptions. Bytebear 05:40, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
Maybe it would be useful to spinout a 'Magical worldview' article and reference it here, that would also be useful for other JS, Jr. articles. I realize this could be considered a POV fork, but I think it makes sense, this is a detail that is barely relevant here, but really ought to be discussed somewhere. Originally, I argued that this material would make more sense in one of the JS,Jr. articles, JF hinted that he had tried to add it there but there was no evidence of that. 74s181 01:53, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
I disagree, mainly because this idea of "magical worldview" is one authors idea, and I think that forces too much POV on a single article. I think the idea of "magic" or whatever can be sprinkled within the various articles, but it should not be singled out. I also don't think it really has a place in this article. The idea of visions and perhaps some of the protestant views held by the Smith family, but this really doesnt relate to "magic" directly or even indirectly. Bytebear 05:40, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
I will say that the history can be presented in a balanced way. The LDS Church has taught that the Smith family was prepared by God to accept Joseph's vision, and that he was born at a time and in a situation where God could appear to him and not be burned at the stake as a heritic. He was put in the place and given an upbringing that would bring him to the Lord. Counter that with the idea that his upbringing led him to stories of visions and godly events, that the ideas presented in the vision happen to fit well with the families exisiting theological views. Bytebear 05:55, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
"...the Smith family was prepared by God to accept Joseph's vision..." This, in a nutshell, is the only connection the magical worldview has to the FV. I think that more than one author has written about it, but I agree that it is barely relevant to the FV, I have previously tried to minimize it in this article and failed. Good luck. 74s181 12:36, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

The emphasis on the Smith's magic world view and Joseph's money digging is only "tangential" and "insignificant fluff" if you're a Mormon. For non-Mormons (that is, the vast majority of Wikipedians whom I represent) it's extremely significant. The contemporary belief in a magical world made it much easier for Smith's visions to be accepted both by his family and by other early converts. And when someone has already been digging for buried treasure on a semi-professional basis and then claims to have found golden plates in a hillside, the earlier evidence must be included to allow the reader to judge the credibility of the latter.--John Foxe 20:20, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

Not for this article. This article cannot be a thesis on whether his character affected the event (whether the vision was true or not). Significant to Smith's life, and to the golden plates, yes, but not to the vision. There is nothing about the vision remotely related to his treasure hunting or peepstone using. This event is distinct and separate from those activities. You may as well see if you can dig up evidnce that he picked on his siblings to see if his character is in question. It simply is not relivant to this article. The First Vision has absolutely no connection to the Book of Mormon, in fact, it should be mentioned that the prophetic calling and the events of that calling (angelic visitations, seer stones, translation process) were not used in early missionary work. Most converts (according to Bushman) joined the church before even knowing of the prophet Joseph. Misionaries went out with one tool, and one tool only, the Book of Mormon. So, I hope you can see the difference between the two topics. The FV is an independent event, unrelated to any of the "magical" events leading to the translation of the BoM. And, as the intro now says, it was not used as a conversion tool (I need a better phrase than that) until much later (which is what the "historians" seem to be saying. Bytebear 22:28, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
I disagree. Of course, Joseph Smith's prior activities are relevant to this article. Smith's seer stones, ghosts, magic incantations, and nocturnal excavations in his money digging days are only a step from his seeing other sorts of supernaturals. The First Vision is distinct from his earlier activities only in the minds of those Mormons who intend to conceal truth.
I agree that Widmer's quotation is awkward, and I will be happy to help paraphrase it. That doesn't mean disguise it.--John Foxe 23:12, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
"Smith's seer stones, ghosts, magic incantations, and nocturnal excavations in his money digging days are only a step from his seeing other sorts of supernaturals." You overstate Smith's prior activities. Some historians say that the Smith family was poor, and his activities in "money digging" was simply a way for neighbors to give the family a few bucks. Only in anti-Mormon referecens are his activities elevated to "ghosts, magic incantations and nocternal excavations". You are being persuaded by unreliable and bias sources. THat is point 1. Point 2 is that a vision from God - as you imply Smith may have made up after the translation of the Book of Mormon and so you are in a bit of a catch 22. Either he made it up to boost his prophetic calling (which shows that his childhood really had nothing to do with the event) or he didn't make it up and your assertion that the story was later made up (or elaborates years later) is false. You can't have it both ways, and you certainly can't summarize the situation as cut and dry. Bytebear 00:11, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
I do not overstate Smith's prior activities. They are as prominent in the lives of the Smiths as I've indicated. Only Mormon apologists (your "some historians") disagree. Even Bushman says, "The so-called credulity of the money diggers can be read as evidence of their general faith in invisible forces. Christian belief in angels and devils blended with belief in guardian spirits and magical powers."(50) I don't understand your Point 2. Smith was tried for money digging in 1826, long after the First Vision is supposed to have occurred.--John Foxe 11:46, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
If there are no references to JS,Jr's involvement in money digging or other 'magical' activities prior to 1820 then I agree, they are not relevant. If there are references that connect JS,Jr to these activities prior to 1820 then they are relevant to the character criticism if there is a WP:RS that asserts this. Note - although the character criticism is spread thruout the article, John Foxe has previously refused to allow the character criticism to be identified as such. 74s181 16:42, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
Bytebear, you said that money digging isn't relevant. How about 'Faculty of Abrac', LMS refers to this in her history, yes, it is a response to criticism but is interpreted by some as an acknowledgement that this was a family practice. 74s181 16:42, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
The tone of this article reads as someone who has come to certain conclusions (that Smith's treasure hunting and his families spiritual practices induced the vision or at least the concept of the vision) and then the references are cherry picked to corroborate that conclusion. The problem is, Wikipedia is not supposed to draw conclusions. It is supposed to present facts, and plenty of historians (including some non-Mormon theologians) have completely different interpretations of the events. The big issue I have is that Foxe wants to present two contradictory theories 1) that Smith made it all up around 1832 to rally the troops, and 2) that Smiths trasure hunting and family beliefs affected the event in 1820. You cannot have smith make it up in 1832 while at the same time be affected by events that oocured some time between 1810 and 1827 (events prior to the visitation of the angel Moroni). This is why the intro, and most of the article is flawed. I have tried to repair the intro, but to use the introduction to present one theory over others is bias and POV. And to make conclusions and cherry pick (some very obscure and somewhat POV) references to prove your case is a bias use of original research. We do not conclude. We present the facts. Oh, and Foxe, please do not assume every who is against your methods is LDS. Some of us just happen to know a lot about the LDS faith, and want Wikipedia to be fair and accurate. Currently this article is neither. Bytebear 17:22, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
Everyone who opposes me at this article is a Mormon. I adjure anyone who testifies to the contrary to stand forth and make yourself known.--John Foxe 20:16, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
Aye! Bytebear 02:41, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
Remarkable!--John Foxe 14:39, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
That the First Vision story evolves in importance through the nineteenth century is not POV but a documented historical fact, attested to by all non-Mormons historians who have dealt with the subject.--John Foxe 20:16, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
But is that significant in the intro? I never omitted it from the article (although it needs help). I think I have been very fair to your position in my edits. Bytebear 02:41, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
It is important to have at least a significant mention in the lead, but I'm satisfied with the mention now.--John Foxe 14:39, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, let's talk about this, let's run this issue down. See discussion below. 74s181 02:09, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

I am not sure I understand the importance of determining who is a Mormon? Would it be just as valuable to determine who is an anti-Mormon? I only value I see is who might be inclined to push a specific POV; not who is neutral. John, you might want to strive for neutrality rather than portraying yourself as the lone voice of reason against the hordes of miss-guided Mormons. It does not play well and is anything but reality. It might be better identify who exhibits ownership of the article and insists on their own POV for the article. Who refuses to allow any changes, additions, deletions that don't specifically meet their sole judgment?

I'm a non-Mormon who advocates only demonstrable historical fact—or, in Wikipedially incorrect speech, truth.--John Foxe 14:39, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

As I watch this article I have to laugh out loud at times. The fact of 1820 American society is that almost all people were superstitious and folk magic was common among the population. The attempt to portray those beliefs as unique or abnormal to the Smith family is deceitful and POV pushing.

Cultural belief in folk magic or in beliefs that many of us would think of today as just plain silliness have been prevalent in society since men started sitting around a campfire and telling stories. These beliefs are common in many of modern day societies.

What is absolute fact is that the Smith family was a god fearing people that read the bible and believed in Jesus Christ. That was the over-riding belief system and it affected all of their thoughts. At no time has any reputable historian every stated that folk magic was their primary belief system. It existed in society along side of Christianity and other societal norms of the day. That is fact. Attempt to put it in the introduction is to overbalance its importance and to push a POV that has no basis.--Storm Rider (talk) 21:22, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

The Smith family may have been typical, but if so, their typicality involved magical practices that were a significant part of the way they behaved toward each other and with the outside world. D. Michael Quinn wrote a whole book about it. There's no overbalance here. You will recall that when JS, Jr. tried to join a Methodist class, he was opposed as a "necromancer" (which is one thing he probably wasn't). --John Foxe 14:39, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
There is so much POV in the recent changes by John Foxe, that I don't even know where to begin. I am tempted to revert it and start another edit war, go through arbitration (again) and have Foxe blocked (again). Seriously "all historians agree?" I have never in my life found an instance where all historians agree on anything. Foxe, you really need to start playing fair or I will bring in outsiders to force your hand. More importantly, it isn't so much what you are presenting (although the whole Magic World View thing is far too tangential to be of relivance to this subject - regardless of Palmer's book, which does not, by the way, connect the First Vision directly to treasure hunting), but you present things in a very POV manner, cherry picking the sources you want to stand out prominantly rathen than sources that are more neutral, or better yet, from official (i.e. LDS Church) sources. Your facts may be correct (remembering that presumptions are not fact), but your methods stink. Bytebear 17:21, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
Find any non-Mormon historian who doesn't believe that the LDS Church gradually emphasized the First Vision story beginning in earnest during the 1880s. If you prove me wrong, I promise a full and public apology. You claim that I present the story in a POV manner. If you find sentences that are not neutral, let's work together to change them. I make mistakes like anyone else, but when I do, I always try to concede graciously. My only interest is an accurate article about the First Vision. No fluff, no LDS apologetics, no anti-Mormon tracts, just the truth.--John Foxe 20:51, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
Like I said, let's talk about the 'not emphasized' POV, specifically, what is it that is interpreted by these historians as 'emphasis'. See section below. 74s181 21:16, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

Not emphasized part III, Evolving importance part II

These are all really the same discussion. See previous discussions:

The last iteration of this turned into a discussion about Fairness of tone, and that is an important discussion, I hope John Foxe will respond to my last question there, but I also want to refocus here on the 'not emphasized' issue. 74s181 07:33, 28 October 2007 (UTC)


Some non-believers assert that the First Vision was 'not emphasized' until the late 1800's, after the death of Brigham Young, and that Brigham Young and other early leaders knew nothing about the FV. Alternately, it is suggested that these leaders were familiar with the FV but didn't believe it, that's why they never spoke of it. Another part of this POV is that the FV was 'emphasized' to strengthen faith after the manifesto. 74s181 07:33, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

Believers assert that the First Vision was a continuous part of the Church message begining with its publication in 1840, evidence has been provided of this. Some believers also claim that the FV was known by some followers prior to publication in 1840, perhaps even before 1830 (see D&C 20:5), but there is little clear evidence of this. 74s181 07:33, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

The 'not emphasized' POV has been removed from the lead (for now), but is still stated as an undisputed fact in two places, How the vision story has been presented and Acceptance of the First Vision. 74s181 07:33, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

John Foxe has cited experts on the 'not emphasized' POV so it should have a place in the article. Maybe a better understanding of exactly what the experts have asserted would help us reach a consensus on how to fairly present this particular POV.

John Foxe, on September 26 you said:

Right now I don't know what the steps to that prominence were. (I had sort of hoped that Cogden would step back into the article and provide the details.) But I'm going to find them out. Give me a week.--John Foxe 19:42, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

It's been over a month. You've found references and added them to the article, you should have the answers. All I'm asking is, What is it that these historians are pointing to as a change in emphasis? We know that the FV was taught continuously from 1840 onward, so, specifically, when did this change occur, and what is different about the presentation of the FV before and after the alleged change? 74s181 05:30, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

I wish I did have the answers. That I don't can be partly blamed on Gentile ignorance of the nuances of LDS doctrine.--John Foxe 10:18, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
The intro is becoming bloated again. The details about the supposed "change in emphasis" is not relevant to the intro, and was summarized quite nicely before without all this banter back and forth trying to balance things. If it doesn't improve, I am reverting it back to a version that I find acceptable. if you want to avoid an edit war, bring your ideas to the table, but as it stands, the last paragraph of the intro is unacceptable. Here's a hint: if you need obscure references, it isn't a universal concept. The intro should stand without references. Bytebear 06:20, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
I have no problem with shortening the third paragraph. I think a couple of sentences could do the job nicely. How about this for a start: "The First Vision was virtually unknown for almost a decade following the organization of the Church, but it was eventually canonized in ____. Non-Mormon (and some Mormon) historians of religion regard the its current doctrinal importance within the Church to be a development of the last half of the nineteenth century."--John Foxe 10:09, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
"...Gentile ignorance..." It sounds to me like you're saying that you learned about the 'not emphasized' POV from a source that asserted it without evidence. Hmmm, doesn't sound like a 'historical fact' to me. The reference you provided is Davies quoting Widmer, what is the source for Widmer? There is a later reference to Kurt Widmer Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1833-1915, is that the original source? 74s181 11:54, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
Davies does quote Widmer, as well as others. I don't mind quoting Widmer alone, but unfortunately his writing style is run-of-the-mill academic. Perhaps under the heading of "know your enemy," you should read, Davies, Widmer, and Shipps yourself. We're not talking about anti-Mormon tracts here but scholarship.--John Foxe 12:55, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
"...of the nuances of LDS doctrine" Does a 'nuance' belong in the lead? 74s181 11:54, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm just quoting the experts while trying to get a better grip on the subject. For a total outsider, Mormonism is protean; when you think you've got a handle on its doctrine and customs, you suddenly discover that you've missed something important.--John Foxe 12:55, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
"...virtually unknown... eventually canonized in ____" implies that it remained unknown until it was canonized, this is factually incorrect. 74s181 11:54, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
"...development of the last half of the nineteenth century" is what the lead says now, not an improvement. 74s181 11:54, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

So, John Foxe, your position is that you found these experts that say the FV was 'not emphasized' until the late 1800s, but you don't remember anything about what the experts said about how they came to this conclusion. Is that right? 74s181 04:55, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

Here's Widmer:

The First Vision replaced the Book of Mormon as the key to Mormon self-definition and understanding. It redefined the Church's mission and legitimized the existence and purpose of the Church. The First Vision gradually came to validate the Church's claims to being God's true Church. It attempted to make sense out of an ever-changing world, and attempted to bring a message of hope to an American public that was rapidly becoming prosperous and enlightened. The First Vision attempted to harmonize new scientific theory with a belief in God. By placing the First Vision back into its own history, the Church would give itself an added advantage by stating that God was progressive, and that God revealed to humankind his plan in terms of humankind's own understanding. As humankind came to new heights of understanding, new areas of theology could be opened. The Church could add to is claims that they had insights into the new scientific theories long before others, proving to a doubting public that God was not dead, and that the Mormon Church was true." (106-07)

Clear now?--John Foxe 20:45, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
Interesting opinion. I find it utterly false, however. The Book of Mormon was called "the keystone of our religion". The first vision never was given such status. The restoration involved visitation restoring priesthood keys. The Book of Mormon is still the primary proslytizing tool, whereas the FV is simply a step in the proccess of the restoration. I would be interestd in knowing which doctrines presented by the FV (authority, nature of Godhead, etc.) existed prior to 1838. In other words, did the FV solidify these doctrines, or simply reverberate with them? The FV was a very personal and solitary event just for Smith. Many of the other visions were shared events with witnesses. And they each had a specific purpose, to restore something. The FV, I believe did this also, but I don't know that Smith saw this at the time. I agree with Bushman, for Smith it was his conversion moment, a private and very personal experience that took years for him to be willing to express it publically (perhaps because of his run in with the minister). I would argue it gained influence in the church only because Smith died and he wasn't there to keep it at a more personal level. Widmer is certainly not a majority on this view, and not all historians would agree with his summation. I would like to know more about his credentials. Is he an unbias historian? How well knowm and respected? is he a theologian? is he pro/anti-Mormon or neutral to the faith? Bytebear 23:12, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I shouldn't be sarcastic. Widmer doesn't make any sense to me at all, which is why I didn't try to summarize it in the article.--John Foxe 00:57, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
"Clear now?" No, not really. John Foxe, I really do appreciate your effort in providing the lengthy quote, but all it does is elaborate on the original assertion. It doesn't provide evidence of a change in emphasis (like a comparison of statements before / after), it doesn't say when this change supposedly occurred, and it doesn't say who introduced the change. 74s181 02:02, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Bytebear that this POV is wrong, just compare Orson Pratt's An Interesting Account from 1840 with the first lesson from the recent Preach My Gospel. Here are the notable differences:
  1. AIA is a tract, intended to be read by investigators, passed around, etc., while PMG is an instruction manual for training missionaries to teach investigators.
  2. First lesson for investigators in PMG reviews God's love for his children, relationship between God and man, and prophets thru the ages before talking about the First Vision. AIA goes right to the FV.
  3. AIA goes into much more detail about the history and contents of the the Book of Mormon than PMG, I suspect this is because the BoM was less available in 1840 England. Today, any investigator that shows the slightest interest (doesn't run for cover) will be given a BoM of their own, it contains an extensive explanation in the front. 74s181 02:02, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
What I don't see in PMG is greater emphasis of the First Vision, if anything, PMG has less on the FV than AIA. 74s181 02:02, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Don't misunderstand, I'm not looking for 'proof' of the 'not emphasized' POV, I'm just want to know if Widmer has any evidence at all, or if he's just asserting an 'expert opinion' without evidence. Again, what I'd like to see from Widmer is some example of What the difference in emphasis is, Who introduced the change in emphasis, and When. 74s181 02:02, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
We're in agreement that the quotation from Widmer doesn't say anything worth summarizing in the article. It's just the sort of academese that makes normal people cower.
That's not the same as saying that he doesn't have proof for his thesis even if, at the moment, I don't understand it. He's an expert. He's written a whole book on Mormonism and the Nature of God and a chapter of that book covers the First Vision. If you don't like the thesis, the burden of proof's on you to provide evidence that he (and Davies and Shipps) are wrong, not on me to prove that he's right.--John Foxe 10:26, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm not asking you to understand the evidence, just to identify and share it. 74s181 11:43, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
The only thing I'm asking you to prove is whether or not anyone has any evidence for the 'not emphasized' POV. If you're going to insist on introducing this POV into the article I think the reader needs to know the actual 'historical facts' the POV is based on. 74s181 11:43, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
I guess I'll have to track these down myself. I want to make sure I look for the right books, please correct and / or fill in the blanks:
  1. Douglas J. Davies, An Introduction to Mormonism (Cambridge University Press, 2003), 136.
  2. Jan Shipps ???
  3. Kurt Widmer Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1833-1915
Is that all? Do you want to recommend any other experts who express this POV? 74s181 11:43, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
John Foxe, I am still waiting for you to complete the reading list. 74s181 12:13, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
I think everything's cited in the article, Les. "Shipps" is of course, Mormonnism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition. There's a footnote at 122 (unless the edit war has changed the numbering).--John Foxe 18:51, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Little evidence

The assertion is "There is little evidence that Smith spoke about the First Vision for at least a decade after it was said to have occurred."

I thought we once had a citation on this, an expert who made this assertion. I added a {{fact}} tag, John Foxe responded by adding

The earliest anti-Mormon literature questions the veracity of the Book of Mormon and the character of Joseph Smith "but never mentions the First Vision."[2]


I found and restored the original reference (Allen 1966, p. 30). 74s181 19:25, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Thanks.--John Foxe 20:11, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
The third paragraph is bloated and the references are obscure. I really think we should be pullint a lot more from Bushman and less from these other sources. In Rough Stone Rolling, he says (paraphrasing as I dont have my copy with me) that the early missionary work was all about the Book of Mormon and not about Smith's prophetic calling. Many converts didn't even know about Smith, the Gold Plates, or the translation process. To emphasize the lack of usage of the First Vision in the early prostyltizing efforts needs to be presented with a balance that none of Smith's prophetic abilites were in play. The establishment of the church was the establishment of Christ's Church, not Smith's. Converts did not join because of Smith. All of this needs to be covered in the body of the article. The third paragraph of the intro is bloated and too wordy. The ideas presented are interesting but should be explored in the body, not the intro. Please! Let's get the intro tight and consise. I am going to edit it, removing references for now, and if you see somethign that needs to be elaborated on, do it either in the body, or in the talk page. I also highly recommend using Bushman's statements about early converts. 74s181 19:25, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
Deciding which references are "obscure" is a judgment call; and although I'm a fan of Bushman, he is an LDS patriarch. As I said above, I don't mind shortening the paragraph so long as its meaning isn't obscured. That is, the paragraph should continue to say that the First Vision was not emphasized in the LDS Church until the late nineteenth century, an aspect of the subject at hand that's both important and universally recognized by non-Mormon students of the LDS Church.--John Foxe 20:11, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
The issue I have (and Wikipedia messed up and attributed some of my comments to 74s), is implying POV. For example, saying that the First Vision was not emphasized is true, but Smith's prophetic calling was equally not emphasized. In fact, it wasn't until later scisms where apostles attempted to prophecy about church matters that Smith came down on them and became the only voice for doctrinal issues. And it wasn't until his status as a martyr that he really became THE prophet. So I agree that the FV later gained an importance to the church, but only in conjunction with all matters pertaining to the prophetic calling of Smith. Bytebear 00:24, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia didn't mess up, it was me. I goofed up a 'nowiki', John Foxe sent me an email, and when I fixed it, your four tildes turned into my signature. Sorry about that. 74s181 04:48, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
Good trick. I wondered what was up. Thanks. Bytebear 05:04, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

Objective definition of 'fairness of tone'

John Foxe and I have been going back and forth over this issue in Evolving importance. We are caught in a loop, here is a quick recap:

JF: In your opinion the tone is unfair. But you provide no objective proof.
74: Please define what you would consider to be objective proof.
JF: If you have no objective proof it is unfair, you should leave it alone.
74: You said, provide objective proof. I said, define objective proof. I can't provide it until you define it.
JF: You believe the tone of the section is unfair. Prove it. The burden's on you.
74: If you can't define what would constitute proof then it is opinion either way.
JF: Unless you can provide objective proof that the tone is unfair, then we're at sea. Everything in the article can be changed because you claim it has an unfair tone. "Unfair tone" trumps all WP rules because it can be used anywhere without even a nod to proof. You only need declare it to be so, and it is.

Obviously this was going nowhere. If I provide what I consider to be proof, John Foxe can say that my proof doesn't meet his standard. So I'm going to try a different approach. 74s181 22:19, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

Earlier, in Fairness of tone in the lead I provided an example of what one kind of unfair tone looks like. Here is an updated version. 74s181 22:19, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

Imagine this in the lead of Eucharist:

The Eucharist (also known as Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, among other names) is a ritual act of symbolic cannibalism that most Christians perform in order to fulfill the instruction that they believe Jesus Christ gave his disciples, at his last meal. Some Christians interpret these instructions literally rather than symbolically and believe that they are consuming the actual flesh and blood of Jesus Christ through the miracle of transubstantiation.

Everything in the above paragraph is factually true, if necessary I could even provide a reference that uses the words "ritual cannibalism" to describe communion. Hopefully we can all agree that this statement is unfair in tone. My question is, how can one prove objectively that it is unfair in tone? Or, IOW, what objective definition of "Fairness of tone" would this statement fail? 74s181 22:19, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

The paragraph is simply POV. In a real article, you'd have to note who had called communion "symbolic cannibalism" and then give other views of the Eucharist. "Unfair tone" is a only convenient phantasmagoria unless you can prove that the statement is POV—which you've often confessed being unable to do here because this article is so NPOV. Irksome, isn't it?--John Foxe 23:13, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
John Foxe, I know that you won't accept me as a neutral third-party, but you failed to answer the question posed above, multiple times: Please give a definition of what you would consider proof.
Also, what you said in the above paragraph seems (to me) to inherently contradict what you said in the section above, "Apologists should have their place in this article, but their dogmas should not stand on par with historical fact. What conservative Mormons want to do is to have "critics" say one thing and "apologists" another (preferably in reverse order), thus giving the two sides a equivalence that is not only wrong but immoral. This is the larger issue I've been fighting here for months." If you can see this too, then please restate your positions in both cases; I've made such mistakes such that I've had to restate my position. If you don't see this contradiction, then I would question your ability to be objective. — Val42 01:06, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
The only proof of "unfair tone" is POV. If the material contains no POV, it does not have unfair tone.
My mistaken opinions make no difference in the thrust of this article. I accept that John Taylor mentioned the First Vision at least twice. That he did not emphasize it during his tenure as President is just as true as ever.
I'd make an awful politician. Can you imagine a candidate who thought he was right and everyone in his constituency was wrong and who believed he needed to stand for truth regardless of the consequences? Only candidates in inspirational movies get elected with beliefs like those.--John Foxe 01:45, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
I'd make an awful politician as well because I'm an awful liar. I guess that it comes from not having much practice. But politicians who value truth are not always at odds with their constituency. I'm surprised that you would think that this would be true.
But since we are both wanting to be truthful and direct, we should be able to come to some way of deciding what constitutes an objective way of measuring POV. Failing that, we should call in a neutral third-party. Are you willing to have arbitration on this issue? — Val42 02:02, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

John Foxe, stop putting words in my mouth. I have never "confessed" anything about the article being "so NPOV", you're the one who keeps shouting that the article is "one of the most WP:NPOV Wikipedia articles on any aspect of Mormon theology", I strongly disagree. 74s181 14:54, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

John Foxe, you said the example paragraph on communion is "simply POV". I agree that it is POV because of its tone, not because it says anything factually incorrect. Strip away the emotional response to the particular words used and you will find no disputed facts here. I challenge you to identify anything in the example paragraph that is not factually correct. 74s181 14:54, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, you've lost me, Les. To begin an actual lead for the article Eucharist with the word "cannibalism" would be POV in content as well as tone even if the source were specified. It's as if the First Vision article started with the words, "Joseph Smith, who eventually married more than twenty women...." There's no factual problem, but there certainly is a problem; and it's more than a problem with tone.--John Foxe 01:00, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Actually, John Foxe, you're close with the "...twenty women..." statement. Your example is "...more than a problem with tone" because plural marriage has little if anything to do with the FV. However, "ritual act of symbolic cannibalism" is a perfectly accurate 'scientific' or 'factual' description of communion, the only problem with the statement is fairness of tone. I agree that it isn't fair, the question is, why is it not fair, what makes it unfair, what could be done to it to make it fair?
The goal is to provide an objective definition for 'Fairness of tone' that could be used to 'prove' the statement "ritual act of symbolic cannibalism" isn't a 'fair' description of communion. It would also be useful to describe in a generic way how such statements should be fixed. Look at A simple formulation for an example of what I mean by a) identifying a type of POV problem, and b) a generic way of fixing it.
And, BTW, this is a discussion, I don't expect a polished, finished product. At this point I'm really looking more for ideas and concepts about what is fair and what is not rather than a final statement, but I know that you are a better wordsmith than I, so if you want to take a shot at formal wording, go for it. And BTW, that goes for everyone else, the important thing is that we reach a consensus on how to 'prove' whether or not something is fair. And by consensus, I mean all of us, not just the Mormon Smokescreen Cabal<g>. 74s181 13:13, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
With all respect, Les, I think you're following a will-o'-the-wisp. Maybe it sounds easier to you to define "fairness of tone" than it does to me because your background's in technology instead of the liberal arts where things often can't be defined precisely. I might be a good devil's advocate though—as in send up a possibility and see if I can shoot it down.--John Foxe 21:01, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm happy to take a shot at it, although I know that my attempt will probably be long and rambling. But first of all, I need to know if you agree that the sample statement about the Eucharist is both factually true and unfair in tone, that is, do you think it can it serve as an extreme example, or 'straw man'? I think it is both factually correct and unfair. I think that if we can't come up with an objective test that this statement fails then I will have to agree with you about the "will-o'-the-wisp". 74s181 23:33, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
I have no problem agreeing that the statement about the Eucharist is factually true. But how about WP:UNDUE? Wouldn't starting a Eucharist page with "cannibalism" put too much emphasis on an eccentric view of the subject?--John Foxe 13:07, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
Christians are a minority of the global population so "ritual act of symbolic cannibalism" is probably the majority POV. I think any non-Christian who read John 6 would say that it sounds like Jesus is teaching actual, not symbolic cannibalism. In fact, many of his followers said "This is an hard saying; who can hear it?" and stopped following him. Jesus implemented the doctrine in Mathew, Mark, and Luke, he blessed bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples to eat saying "This is my body". All four gospels agree, he didn't say "This symbolizes my body", although we all know that is what he meant. 74s181 13:46, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
So, assume that you are editing Eucharist and a non-Christian editor keeps insisting on the phrase "ritual act of symbolic cannabilism", how would you objectively prove that the phrase is not neutral POV? I think it violates "Fairness of tone" and therefore, violates WP:NPOV, I'm sure you agree, but how do we prove it? 74s181 13:46, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

JF, you said "If the material contains no POV, it does not have unfair tone". This is wrong.

From WP:NPOV (emphasis added):

As the name suggests, the neutral point of view is a point of view, not the absence or elimination of viewpoints. The neutral point of view policy is often misunderstood. The acronym NPOV does not mean "no points of view". The elimination of article content cannot be justified under this policy by simply labeling it "POV". The neutral point of view is a point of view that is neutral, that is neither sympathetic nor in opposition to its subject.

NPOV doesn't mean No POV, it means Neutral POV. If an article has no POV it isn't much of an article, because it only states what everyone already knows. According to WP:NPOV "All editors and all sources have biases", or, IOW, POV. The requirement is to neutralize the POV. Articles don't become neutral by having POV removed or neutered. 74s181 14:54, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

If an article is unfair, it is, by definition, not properly neutral. From WP:NPOV#Fairness_of_tone (emphasis added):

If we are going to characterize disputes neutrally, we should present competing views with a consistently fair and sensitive tone. Many articles end up as partisan commentary even while presenting both points of view. Even when a topic is presented in terms of facts rather than opinion, an article can still radiate an implied stance through either selection of which facts to present, or more subtly their organization.
We should write articles with the tone that all positions presented are at least worthy of unbiased representation, bearing in mind the important qualification about extreme minority views. We should present all significant, competing views impartially.

The weak link is that WP:NPOV#Fairness_of_tone is not adequately described, no objective test for fairness is presented. That doesn't mean it isn't a policy, or that it isn't important. It just makes it harder to reach a consensus. 74s181 14:54, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

74: "I think it violates "Fairness of tone" and therefore, violates WP:NPOV, I'm sure you agree, but how do we prove it?" It violates fairness and sympathy. The average Christian would not describe her belief thus. Therefore in "writing for the Christian enemy", you would not choose those words. A description must be in terms that would be accepted as fair and sympathetic by the people described. The objective definition is there. You just need to read the full policy and perhaps the tutorial to discover it. Tom Haws 15:09, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

I agree.--John Foxe 19:24, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

So how about this for an objective test. Would the 'average' or, perhaps a better word, 'typical' believer describe their belief using statement X? If so, it is 'fair', if such a believer objects to statement X then it is unfair. 74s181 10:35, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

On second thought that could be a WP:OR problem. Suppose we say instead that if a WP:RS accepted as authoritative by the typical believer describes the belief using statement X then it is fair. "...accepted as authoritative" is required or else we're right back where we started. 74s181 13:08, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Tom Haws, you've used the word 'sympathetic' before, I looked but I can't find any positive mention of it in WP:NPOV or WP:NPOVT. 74s181 13:08, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

You are right. It didn't originate with me. I must be a dinosaur. It is important (as you are discovering) and I believe it was once stated. Perhaps there is documentation of why the change. Tom Haws 20:49, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't think it's necessary to insist that believers have a casting vote in defining doctrine. The "sympathy" of the author resides in his trying to state accurately what believers believe. For instance, Westerners might use the shorthand definition "reincarnation" to describe the Sanskrit samsara, but (among other things) such a casual definition would overlook the negative connotations of the latter and the positive connotations (at least to a Westerner) of the former. Likewise, to define the Eucharist as "cannibalism," which might sound reasonable in nineteenth-century Fiji, would not accurately reflect the meaning most Christians in most places have assigned to the term throughout the last two thousand years.--John Foxe 20:38, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

One other important point - According to the position that John Foxe has previously taken, 'Christians' would be the minority, that is, most people in the world are not Christians. Does this matter when presenting a belief? in the communion example, the Christian POV would be a minority POV, so how do we objectively state that they get to define what the belief is, or, as I think Tom Haws would describe it, what makes the Christian belief about communion the 'sympathetic' belief? Is it because they are the group who asserts belief in 'communion', therefore, they get to define what 'communion' is and how 'communion' should be described? 74s181 13:30, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

When you say, "P-ists say P", you need to say it in the same way that P-ists say it. It is non-compliant to say, "C-ics say that they perform ritual cannabalism each week." It is compliant to say, "C-ics say that the weekly communion host is changed into the literal flesh of Christ before it is consumed." WP:NOR is useful to keep us honest. But only WP:NPOV can keep us fair. We all need to worry less about WP:NOR (in most cases) and more about WP:NPOV. We simply need to write for each other as we would have each other write for us. Tom Haws 20:49, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

John Foxe, you said "I don't think it's necessary to insist that believers have a casting vote..." How else can we determine 'fairness' or what the 'sympathetic' view is? I didn't understand a lot of what User:Mkmcconn said to me over on Mormonism and Christianity but I did understand one thing. The believer must be allowed to state his belief, in his own words, without interference. Of course, WP:NPOV must be respected. The point is, although we're supposed to write for the enemy, if the enemy is ready, willing and able to speak for himself we should allow him to do so. And vice versa. We shouldn't attempt to put words in his mouth, he shouldn't put words into ours. I think this is a critical part of an objective definition of 'Fairness of tone', this is why "ritual act of symbolic cannabilism" is unfair, this is not how the believer in communion would describe it. I can't come up with any other objective test, can you? 74s181 02:40, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

John Foxe, I'm waiting for you to either respond or "...concede graciously..." 74s181 21:22, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

The Eucharist cannot be described as "symbolic cannibalism" in the lede of an encyclopedia article, not because a believer wouldn't describe it that way but because serious students of religion wouldn't, at least without explanations and citations. "Symbolic cannibalism" could profitably be mentioned further down in the article, however.--John Foxe 10:27, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
"..serious..." Sounds pretty subjective to me.
...students of religion..." What religion? Christianity? I know that serious students of Mormonism wouldn't use some of the descriptive language that you have used, John Foxe. 74s181 13:17, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
I was thinking of academics, teachers of religion, most of whom have little enough of their own.--John Foxe 16:16, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I don't understand, maybe something got left out. "...little enough..." of what? 74s181 12:37, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
"litte enough" of their own religion.--John Foxe 20:33, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
...without explanations and citations" Ok, you insisted on references, and it turned out to be much easier than I expected: 74s181 13:17, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
  • "One of the more obvious of these is the "sacred meal" or ritualistic cannibalism. We still practice this ritual today in the Protestant and Roman Catholic communion, where we eat the body and drink the blood of the divine leader." [1]
  • "I think that Jesus actually meant for us to think about cannibalism sometimes." [2]
  • "The Roman Catholic church would argue that the bread and the wine mystically become the body and blood of Jesus (transubstantiation) and this led to claims of cannibalism for the early Christians." [3]
I think that all three of these references meet WP:RS, they are serious in tone, and are, in fact, sympathetic responses to the 'cannibalism' criticism. However, a quote from any of these (or thousands of others, see Google search) could be taken out of context and used by an anti-Christian in the Eucharist article. It would be a violation of 'Fairness of tone', but how do you objectively prove that? 74s181 13:17, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
Tom Haws offered a general idea, John Foxe agreed. I tried turning the general idea into a rule, an objective test. John Foxe rejected my proposal and offered "...serious students of religion..." as an alternative. I think I've shown why that doesn't work. Next idea? Anyone? 74s181 13:17, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
Once you agree to a lede that's somewhat longer, a little broader, and includes citations such as those you've given, then "symbolic cannibalism" is perfectly acceptable to me. There's no violation of NPOV.--John Foxe 16:16, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Ok, John Foxe, so you're saying that you would be ok with:

The Eucharist (also known as Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, among other names) is a part of Christian worship and belief. According to William Edelen, a former Congregationalist minister, it is the "sacred meal" or ritual act of symbolic cannibalism[1] that Christians perform in order to fulfill the instructions they believe Jesus Christ gave his disciples, at his last meal. The Catholic church interprets these instructions literally rather than symbolically and believe they are consuming the actual flesh and blood of Jesus Christ in obedience to Christ's commandment through the miracle of transubstantiation.[2]
Notes (these would be inserted as normal wiki references and would appear at the end of the article, I'm formatting them this way so we can see them here. 74s181 12:37, 31 October 2007 (UTC))
[1] One of the more obvious of these is the "sacred meal" or ritualistic cannibalism. We still practice this ritual today in the Protestant and Roman Catholic communion, where we eat the body and drink the blood of the divine leader. COMMUNION:Ritualized Cannibalism
[2] The Church did not invent this act of "cannibalism" - Christ did! "This is my body...this is my blood". Matt 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20. It's no coincidence that the only time any disciples left Christ over a teaching (I call them the first Protestants) was during His "cannibalistic" Bread of Life Discourse in John 6:25-71. Christ didn't call them back to clear up any mistake or misunderstanding and explain he was only speaking "symbolically". He let them go. Don't you be one of them! If anyone has a problem with "cannibalism", tell them to take it up with God! for instituting this "cannibalistic" ritual.

Is this what you had in mind, John Foxe? It's longer, broader, includes citations, so is it acceptable? I think it is still unfair, I suspect you will agree, so how do we prove it? 74s181 12:37, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

I should think a scholar would write a more historically oriented first paragraph; but so long as the sources of the quotations are provided, I think it's acceptable, Wikipedially speaking.--John Foxe 20:33, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

Give me a break, of course it is "...acceptable, Wikipedially speaking", that's the whole point of this discussion. I didn't ask if you thought it met WP standards, I asked if YOU thought it was 'fair', and if not, why not? I proposed an objective test that the example would fail, you rejected it. So it's your turn to propose something. 74s181 02:27, 3 November 2007 (UTC)

Intro (again)

I have remove the following from the intro:

However, non-Mormon (and some Mormon) historians of religion who have investigated the subject regard the "unique position attained by the 1st Vision in Mormon history" to be "a development of the last half of the 19th century."

I did this because of the phrase that "historians regard the vision". It implies an opinion, and as such should not be in a summary presented as fact. I think it's fine for the body, but really has no place in the intro. Please discuss before reverting. Bytebear 03:57, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

I also added a reference to Bushman who said "But twelve years after the event, the First Vision's personal significance for [Smith] still overshadowed its place in the divine place for restoring a church." and "[Smith] explained the vision as he must have first understood it, as a personal conversion." Bytebear 04:00, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

Bytebear, please don't be offended if you already understand this, but I want to make sure this dispute is clear to everyone involved. In my opinion, the key issue is when did the importance of the FV increase. 74s181 04:45, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
There is little or no evidence that the JS,Jr shared the FV with the general church membership prior to 1830, and only circumstantial evidence that he shared it prior to 1838-1840. There is very clear evidence that the FV was continually part of the missionary message begining around 1840. 74s181 04:45, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
But the POV that John Foxe is trying to force into the article is that hardly anyone, including Brigham Young, knew anything about the First Vision until the late 1800's, sometime after the death of Brigham Young. Then 'someone' decided to 'emphasize' the First Vision. According to John Foxe, Kurt Widmer says it was George Q. Cannon. I've read Cannon's conference talks for the time period in question and I don't see any particular emphasis of the FV, except that he gave a talk that was recorded with the words "first visions" in the title. 74s181 04:45, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
I am trying to avoid POV, and letting the reader decide based on the facts. I am focusing on the intro, and will get to the body as soon as we have an acceptable intro (which it hasn't been). So, to avoid POV, I have added the facts:
  • Smith felt it a personal experience and not so much a church event.
  • It was first recorded in 1832
  • It was recounted in 1838 (which becomes the official version)
  • It was added to the missionary tracts in 1840
  • It was included in the PofGP in 1851
  • The PofGP was canonized in 1880.
So with these facts, the reader can assume it gained influence, which I agree, but it is clear that it was not unknown prior to 1880. But it was not canon either. To say that Young didn't know about it before 1880 is preposterous. It was published officially in 1851 and canonized in 1880. Who do you think was involed in the canonization? Since the PofGP canonization occured 3 years after Young's death, I would have to research whether he had influence on it, or whether John Taylor was the influence on the canonizaton. But that is a discussion for the PofGP and not the FV. Again, let the facts speak for themselves. Bytebear 04:52, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
Ok, I am trying to get my facts right. According to a web search, the PofGP was canonized in 1880 making the president John Taylor, but according to the Pearl of Great Price page (which is woefully incomplete) it was canonized in 1888, a year after Taylor's death, making the president at the time Wilford Woodruff. So, I need to double check that fact (unless you know and can let me know), and then we can get some facts about the canonization. But the fact remains that there is ample evidence that the 1838 version was well known, published and used in prosylitizing (since at least 1840) as well in official church publications (since 1851). Bytebear 05:16, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
The only references I can find is to 1880 for the canonization year. [4] [5]Bytebear 05:34, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
Sorry to have made the intro longer rather than shorter on this go round, but the Mormon POV has to be balanced by scholarly opinion. (I notice you quoted FAIR as well as Bushman.) Three non-Mormon historians expressing united opinion is less of a problem than the opinion of one LDS historian. Remember that to many non-Mormons, Joseph Smith simply changed the story to suit his own theological meanderings; and therefore Bushman's notions are just the musings of a believer (although a gifted one).--John Foxe 20:22, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
I disagree, and it does show that some historians (Bushman being the more prominant historian of Smith than any other, including non-LDS historians). I didn't add the FAIR reference, and it is simply there as a timeline of events. No opinions in that reference. I agree that Bushman's analysis are opinion, but so are your references saying "Joseph Smith simply changed the story to suit his own theological meanderings". That is POV and cannot be presented as fact. Once again, I will have to do some pruning. Oh, and your text "ws first published in 1840" is inaccurate. The 1838 version was first used in missionary tracts in 1840, but the vision was first published in 1832. Your changes imply otherwise. Bytebear 20:46, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm talking about balance. If you present Mormon POV (which Bushman is clearly expressing), that POV needs to be balanced.--John Foxe 20:53, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
"Publishing" means to put into print. A version of the First Vision was recorded in 1832, but that version of the story was not published until well into the 20th century.--John Foxe 20:57, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
You don't know that. Clearly Pratt's version was published prior to the 1838 version, and I suspect the 1832 was pubhised as well. I don't have a reference to it in front of me, but 1840 was not the first publication. It was also widely published in the PofGP in 1851, hardly, well into the 20th century. The PofGP was canonized in the 19th century. Your conclusions are so flawed they are becoming laughable. The intro should have no opinions at all. I threw in Bushman because he is THE authority on the subject as of now. His opninion should hold more than others, and you have yet to prove that all of these other historians think "Smith made it up for convenience". Bytebear 21:00, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
I have to reiterate. Your statement "A version of the First Vision was recorded in 1832, but that version of the story was not published until well into the 20th century" is patently false. Bytebear 21:04, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
Here is my reference:
1832 — Earliest known attempt at an ‘official’ recounting of the ‘First Vision, from History, 1832, Joseph Smith Letterbook 1, pp.2,3, in the handwriting of Joseph Smith (See An American Prophet’s Record, edited by Scott Faulring, Signature Books, 1989, p.5; The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled by Dean Jessee, Deseret Book, 1984, pp. 5-6; Early Mormon Documents, vol.1, compiled by Dan Vogel, Signature Books, 1996, pp. 26-31)
I would say that although we have no known publication, the 1832 version was clearly written for publication. Bytebear 21:26, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
The 1832 account, partially in Joseph Smith's handwriting, was only made public by Paul Cheesman in 1965 and published later that same year by Jerald and Sandra Tanner in "Joseph Smith's Strange Account of the First Vision." The LDS Church did not officially acknowledge the 1832 account until it was published in Allen's article in Dialogue in 1966. That means the Church had an account of the First Vision partially written in Joseph's own handwriting but deliberately kept it hidden from members of the Church for over 130 years. The 1840 publication was the first publication of the First Vision story anywhere—and that was in England. These are not facts hidden under a bushel, Bytebear--John Foxe 00:53, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
You really need to stop reading the anti-Mormon literature (of which the Tanners are a part of). There is no historical evidence that the LDS Chuch did any such thing. If you have a reputable source (the Tanners do not qualify), then please provide it. You are starting to let your true POV show and not being objective, and to such I will push back when you try to make this article bias (which it clearly is). Please stop bloating the intro with the opinion of one person - that opinion being that all historians agree, because I have already shown they do not. Bushman does not agree and he is the formost authority on the topic, and he does not agree, and you get around this with the caviot "most Mormons". Well that POV doesn't fly and I will not allow it. Take it to arbitration if you wish, but I will not allow you to push any further. Bytebear 06:02, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
It's your right to "push" all you want. But you'll need historical facts to work with. Why did you say that you weren't LDS?--John Foxe 10:43, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Until you stop reverting with lame excuses like "unexplained deletions," I cannot take you seriously. If you want to discuss the changes, fine, but if you just blindly add POV without any attempt at compromise, then you will be reverted, and not just by me. I happen to find Smith's life fascinating, and I find that the web (and to a lesser extent) Wikipedia does not do his life justice. To simply dismiss this vision as poppycock and try to find any quote that points in that direction does a great disservice to the life he led. He didn't become one of the most formative figures in American history, with a following of millions on poppycock. So there must be something more to him and this particular event needs to be protrayed in such a way that the reader comes away wanting to know more about it and why people would believe it. The story itself needs to be understood and how Smith himself regarded the telling of it. I really think you should read Rough Stone Rolling (a couple times) and really think about the life this man led, and what it really was about. I have no doubt it had nothing to do with treasure hunting and womanizing (two common character mudslingings). Bytebear 19:13, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
You have said my edits exhibit POV. Prove it. And you didn't answer my question: Why did you say that you weren't LDS?--John Foxe 21:30, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Your edits are POV, every edit you have made gives the impression that Smith or the church manipulated the telling of the First Vision. I do not believe that, and the artcle needs to remain neutral on that point. Right now, there are quotes (the Maxwell quote in the apologetics section for example) that imply that the church is tying to persuade people to believe despite some unknown overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Palmer is the largest example of this thinking and his book is full of such assumptions which when carefully studied fall flat. I do not think he is a particularly good historian because his conclusions preceed his evidence. Bushman is much more even handed, as are some non-LDS scholars like Shipps, but i digress. Oh, and I said I was not LDS because I am not. I have been to an LDS service all of twice in the last 10 years. Bytebear 22:16, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Just because you don't believe something doesn't mean that it isn't neutral. There are extensive citations for every fact, whereas you even added a statement with a request for a citation. To remove not opinions, but historical facts, simply because the sources don't suit you, for reasons of personal preference, is illegitimate.--John Foxe 15:50, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

To present a statement that BY was unaware of the FV is not a fact. It is an ill founded assumption. To use a quote by Maxwell about faith in miraculous events and attribute it to doubts and issues with the various versions of the FV is totally rediculous, bias and completely wrong. These are two examples of your "facts". Come on, get real. Bytebear 18:30, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Of course, Brigham Young was aware of the First Vision. He just never mentioned this cardinal doctrine of the LDS Church in any of his sermons. I stand by the FARMS quotation; it's as real as you can get. You can't eliminate material just because it doesn't fit your ideological frame of reference. I have provided historical facts; and rather than try provide constructive additions to this article, you simply delete them.--John Foxe 18:48, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
The FARMS quote comes from an FAQ page with no author even acknowledged, hardly academic. You have simply scoured the internet looking for any negative sounding quote by an "LDS source" in the hopes of say "ah ha! See, even Mormons agree with my negative presumtions." Your methods and results are POV, bias, inaccurate, out of context, and reflect poor scholarship. Bytebear 20:54, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
The FARMS quotation is from FARMS own website, which should, I hope, reflect the views of FARMS. Everything I've written is well-sourced and well-written. Nothing is poor scholarship. In fact, this article is one of the best Wikipedia examples of NPOV in an article about a Mormon doctrine. If it were more stable, I'd put it on the track for FA status. You just don't like it because it doesn't conform to your personal opinion. I note that you haven't disputed any of the material you've deleted. Neither you nor FyzixFighter (who doesn't even deign to give reasons for his reversions—a classic mark of vandalism) have provided any evidence that the material you continue to delete is incorrect.--John Foxe 21:20, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
The FARMS website has some interesting articles, but an FAQ is not an article, and is not scholarship. It doesn't even acknowledge an author. With so many good reference sources out there, why choose one that is so unscholarly? And, my example of the Maxwell quote is exactly to my point that you take a quote out of context and try to connect it to an unrelated point with the only objective is to make the LDS Church look foolish. This is one of the most poorly written articles, has very bad structure, is missing tons of excellent resrources on the subject, and you keep reverting anything anyone else changes with silly comments like "unknown deletion" or "removed pro-LDS POV" with no discussion and when it is clear that I and other editors have tried very hard to compromise. Your comments are laughable. Bytebear 21:41, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
Not so. I chose the article because it demonstrates the position of FARMS. If you say it makes the Church looks foolish, that's the problem of FARMS. It's your opinion that the quotation makes the Church looks foolish, and you should take that up with them.
You've never tried to compromise, only revert. Your aim is to eliminate good writing, well documented and replace it with undocumented pro-LDS personal opinion. I'm the only editor here who represents the non-Mormon position. I stand firm for truth and the majority of Wikipedians.--John Foxe 23:57, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
"...Brigham Young was aware of the First Vision. He just never mentioned..." He did mention it, John Foxe, I've shown you references, you rejected them. Of course, he didn't contain the words "First Vision". 74s181 02:54, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
" haven't disputed... material you've deleted. ...doesn't even deign to give reasons for his reversions—a classic mark of vandalism) ...any evidence that the material you continue to delete is incorrect..." Much evidence has been presented, John Foxe, you've ignored it. Since you're complaining about reverts, do you want me to do another analysis? I'll warn you, if I do and find that your reverts are innappropriate I'll go straight to WP:RFAR. 74s181 02:54, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
"It's your opinion that the quotation makes the Church looks foolish..." I'm trying to discuss this very problem at Fairness of tone, above. But you're dancing when you respond at all. 74s181 02:54, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
"You've never tried to compromise, only revert." Look in the mirror. 74s181 02:54, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
"...eliminate good writing... replace it with undocumented pro-LDS personal opinion." Again, the mirror. Also, Bytebear has tried to wrestle this things to the ground with you here on the talk page, but you are too Foxey for that. I suspect Bytebear is editing aggresively in an attempt to bring you to the discussion, but it seems to me as if you will only participate if you think it will postpone changes to the article. 74s181 02:54, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
This has gone well past the point of needing arbitration. One of you needs to request for arbitration, and all of you need to agree to arbitration. Anyone involved in these edits who doesn't agree to arbitration needs to seriously look at their neutrality on this issue. — Val42 03:15, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
Do you mean mediation, or arbitration? Mediation is voluntary, arbitration is not. We've requested mediation before, John Foxe refused. Recently he said he would be willing. I also filed a Request for arbitration a couple months ago, it failed. Since that time I've filed a Request for Comment on John Foxe's behavior, you might want to leave a comment there. I'm almost ready for the next step. 74s181 04:28, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
I didn't know there was an involuntary form, so that is why I used the incorrect term. I did mean mediation then, and failing to agree means that one fails to see that there is a problem here. However, with the attitude that I've seen demonstrated by John Foxe, I expect that mediation will not work and arbitration will be necessary. — Val42 16:30, 3 November 2007 (UTC)


I will agree to arbitration, even though my belief in the Wikipedia process is much less sanguine than most of yours. To me, the important question has always been how Wikipedia should conduct itself toward a sizable consensus of editors who represent a minority position in opposition to a single editor who represents the beliefs of the majority. If a decision could be reached on that larger issue, we might render a real service to the encyclopedia. As I say, I doubt that the larger community is much interested in difficult content issues—their juices only seem to flow when one editor threatens to sue another—but the attempt is worth the effort.

I the meantime I will continue, in a gentlemanly fashion, to revert the article to its earlier, and in my view, more NPOV condition. I certainly want to avoid incivility or personal attacks. (You may have heard the story of the chicken farmer who refused to press charges against the chicken thief because he didn't want to be associated with chicken thieves.) And there will be no sock puppetry or meat puppetry on my part. It would be nice to have an ally occasionally, but I won't stoop to creating or recruiting them.

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” Edward Everett Hale

--John Foxe 11:50, 3 November 2007 (UTC)

History section

I have basically replaced the entire history section with the text from the article Early life of Joseph Smith, Jr. I have removed a few sections that do not directly relate to the First Vision. I have done this because that article is a featured article, so the content has been proven acceptable. It should be a much better starting point than the drivel we have now (although I suspect this article started out as a copy of that article and became drivel later). Bytebear 22:14, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

It did not. Nor was it ever drivel. The article is one of the best written, finest NPOV articles on Wikipedia about a Mormon doctrine, well-balanced and completed documented. Your only aim is to push Mormon POV. At least you're open and unashamed about it.--John Foxe 00:19, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
"The article is one of the best written, finest NPOV articles on Wikipedia about a Mormon doctrine..." Keep going, you'll get to 1000 soon. 74s181 02:57, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
John, please read the article Early life of Joseph Smith, Jr. and tell me that this article has the same tone and bias as this one. Perhaps you think that article is just Mormon propaganda? But that article is a featured article, the best of the best in Wikipedia. How can you possibly think that this article is at the same level as that article. Seriously, what are you smoking? Bytebear 05:03, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
I have read Early life of Joseph Smith, Jr., and with all due respects to Cogden, I don't believe it reads as well as this article, nor is it as well balanced in presenting the non-Mormon viewpoint. (In passing, the Harvard citations also continue to irritate me.) Early life of Joseph Smith, Jr. got to featured article status because it was supported by Mormons. No article presenting a balanced viewpoint, regardless of its quality, would have been so featured.--John Foxe 11:07, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
I just read it for the first time. It is a much better (more polished and easy to read) article than this one. This one is turgid with verbal bridges to nowhere throughout. In fact, I had just come here and re-read this article before posting here and in several places I said, to myself "this is just awful construction". --Blue Tie 03:38, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
Everyone's entitled to his opinion. And I certainly don't mean to imply that this article is without its problems. Battlefields tend to get littered with corpses.--John Foxe 12:31, 11 November 2007 (UTC)


A joint request by disputing parties would be request for mediation, not arbitration. I am in favor of this, but let's try to reach some kind of consensus before submitting the request. What are we asking for mediation on? 74s181 13:59, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

  1. Is any statement that suggests that the FV is not true a POV, or are any of these statements simply 'historical facts' that don't need attribution? 74s181 13:59, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
  2. Does the mere fact that a group disagrees with a particular assertion prove that the assertion is a POV? 74s181 13:59, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
  3. Is it appropriate to describe any POV anywhere in the article as 'criticism'? 74s181 13:59, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
  4. Should the lead contain a high level summary of the various POVs expressed in the article? 74s181 13:59, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
  5. Does the 'not emphasized' POV belong in the lead? 74s181 13:59, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
  6. Should the lead contain only a summary of what is in the article? 74s181 13:59, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
  7. Should the structure of the lead follow the general outline of the article? 74s181 13:59, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
  8. Do assertions in the lead require attribution, as in "expert so and so wrote", or is it enough that such assertions are re-stated in more detail and attributed in the body? 74s181 13:59, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
  9. Do assertions in the lead require references, or is it enough that such assertions are re-stated with references in the body? 74s181 13:59, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

If you think of more questions please add them to the list above and sign them. 74s181 13:59, 4 November 2007 (UTC) Please reference the question numbers in discussion below, at some point we should have some kind of vote as to which questions we want mediation on. 74s181 13:59, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

I thought your questions were good, although perhaps we should try to keep the number low so that we don't scare off a potential mediator.
Here are my possible revisions with that one big addition at the end.
  1. Can a statement that implies the First Vision to be untrue be a simple “historical fact,” one that requires no attribution from a secondary authority?
  2. Is POV in a statement self-evident if someone declares disagreement with it?
  3. Is “criticism” an appropriate term to describe disbelief in the First Vision, or is that word itself overly charged with POV?
  4. Do assertions in the lead require citations?
  5. Should the lead summarize the article, including the POVs?
  6. Is it legitimate to include in the lead a statement that the First Vision was not emphasized in the Mormon faith until the 1880s?
  7. If one editor believes Joseph Smith’s stories of the First Vision are fraudulent, and all the other editors believe they are true, how can consensus be reached for the readers of Wikipedia, especially since belief that the First Vision is true is a religious doctrine held by a minority?
As a matter of fairness, the article should be returned to the way it was before Bytebear and FyzixFighter decided to eliminate material that had been stable for months simply because they didn't like it. FyzixFighter reverted me four times without once making a comment on the discussion page. And then Val42 reverted me again because I hadn't commented on the discussion page. A great display of Mormon muscle but not the sort of behavior that I expect from Wikipedia veterans. Also, our prospective mediator won't see what we've been discussing if the article is changed indiscriminately like this simply because Mormons have the power to do it.
I enjoy debating ideas, but I'm irenic by temperament and have no interest in edit wars unless they're forced on me.--John Foxe 21:10, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm sorry I wasn't clear enough. I didn't plan on presenting the entire list to the mediators, I wanted editors to comment and vote on questions in the list and add additional questions if they thought any were missing. Now we have two separate numbered lists. Is it ok if I move your unique questions to the original list, and add your similar questions as alternate versions? That is, your #1 is a different way of stating my #1, so let's call your #1, "#1a" instead to indicate that it is an alternate way of stating the same question. Then editors can vote on which version of the question they perfer if any. 74s181 04:26, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
"...material that had been stable for months..." I don't think so, but if so, it is only because I got tired of you constantly reverting my edits without discussion, because you "...didn't like it." 74s181 04:26, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
"...reverted me again because I hadn't commented on the discussion page." Yes, when I read this I saw emphasis on the 'me' as well as the 'I'. It's that ownership attitude again. My experience has been that you won't discuss until editing starts, then you will discuss as a delaying tactic, but when the discussion doesn't go your way you claim "The article is one of the best written, finest NPOV articles on Wikipedia about a Mormon doctrine...", you stop discussing and start reverting. 74s181 04:26, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
"A great display of Mormon muscle..." I thought Bytebear said he was not LDS? Are you challenging that? 74s181 04:26, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
I heard a story, perhaps apocryphal, about a young LDS guy who went to see the bishop about his temple recommend. He answered all the questions appropriately, but he was clearly troubled about something. The bishop pushed a bit about sex, but the young man assured him all was well. "What then?" said the bishop. The young man replied, "I'm not sure I believe in God."
Whatever Bytebear is religiously (and I'm certainly not going to worry about the details), he believes that the First Vision is worth defending. So for practical purposes, he belongs in your camp.--John Foxe 11:12, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
Good grief that is a horrible view of the world. John, you are intentionally making things us vs them even when them ain't them. I've been editing a bit on places like Jew Watch and Lou Pearlman. As with most articles that I work on, I try to take a positive view of my subjects. So perhaps some people would think I am a Jew Hater -- unless its a Jewish man accused of pedophilia, because I tend to bring in sympathetic edits on that matter with Pearlman. When I do the same thing here, edit sympathetically, to you its a matter of fraternizing with the enemy. John, for all your writing skill this is a problem you have... and it makes you virtually unfit to edit some articles due to biases. --Blue Tie 03:32, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
Horrible perhaps, but also realistic. It comes easier if you believe in total depravity, a doctrine foreign to the Mormon mindset—and almost always to the cultural Mormon, Jack Mormon, and ex-Mormon mindset as well.--John Foxe 13:02, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
Like most anti-mormon stories, your story about the young man and the interview is propaganda, probably a complete fabrication. It is an attempt to 'prove' that LDS are not Christ-centered, the implication of the story is that none of the interview questions are about belief in God or Jesus Christ. This is false. The first question is about belief in God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. The second question is about belief in the mission of Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer. See Temple_(Latter_Day_Saints)#Requirements_for_entering_LDS_Church_temples this looks like an accurate summary of the interview as best as I can remember. 74s181 13:07, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
The only way something like you you described could occur would be if the young man had lied about his belief in God, the bishop had detected that something was amiss, and the young man then confessed. I can understand that a believer might want to go to the temple so badly that he might 'fudge' a bit on one of the other questions. But it is extremely unlikely that the young man would lie about something so fundamental, why would he want a recommend at all if he didn't believe in God? Unless he felt social pressure to serve a mission or get married in the temple? And, if so, why would he then confess his lie? Because the system works? Ok, I guess it could happen just that way after all. Like many of Satan's lies there is a particle of truth, but that truth isn't the message intended by those who tell the story. What did you hope to prove by this story, John Foxe? 74s181 13:07, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
I don't know Bytebear personally or his story. But I have known other people who believe that the church itself is false, yet still think that JS, Jr. was and is treated unfairly, and that the anti-Mormon movement is more wrong than the church. The only fundamental, indisputable historical fact about the First Vision is that JS,Jr. is the only eyewitness, therefore, the truth or falsity of the FV is a matter of personal belief. Present the facts according to WP:NPOV policy and I will be happy, I suspect Bytebear and others will as well. Yes, there will be the occasional anonymous IP believer on one side or the other who will vandalize the article, we can deal with that. What I cannot accept is your unreleting effort to subtly slant the article into an anti-Mormon tract, your 'foxey-ness'. 74s181 13:07, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
"...prospective mediator won't see what we've been discussing..." No, you can provide links to previous versions of the article, or, probably better, provide a link to a diff showing a particular edit, or, if you want, just quote from the older version of the article. 74s181 04:26, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
"...irenic by temperament..." I had to look up irenic, that's pretty rare for me, I'm impressed. 74s181 04:26, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
"...have no interest in edit wars unless they're forced on me." Forced on you, now that's really ironic. <g> 74s181 04:26, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
It seems I need to clarify my position. I am not LDS at present, but I was in my younger days. I have been through the temple and all that so I feel like I touched on everything LDS at some point. I however am not practicing and I do not consider myself a member of any ward. I have attended Catholic Mass more than Sacrament meeting in the past 15 years or so. My life partner grew up Catholic so we embrace the best of both traditions and ignore the darker aspects of our traditions (and believe me Catholicism has its share) but neither of us have the time or energy to deal with the trappings of modern religion. I have kept a fascination with the more spiritual nature of Mormon tradition. Do I think Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ? I don't know, and I probably lean toward the idea that it did become more detailed in the telling, but that does not diminish the event from the minds and hearts of millions or Mormons, and the telling of the event had a profound influence on the members (and many non-members). I look at the miracles of Fatima or Joan of Arc in the same way. Should their articles be all about debunking their visions? Should their articles be anti-Christiam rhetoric to persuade the reader that they were crazy liars? Or should we presnt the readers with a description of a deeply spiritual experience and how it helped define the belief system of a world religion? I believe Mr. Foxe's edits are destructive, not to the church (the church has enough power, money and influence to withstand more storms than a few bias articles on Wikipedia - afterall their decade of highest convert growth was also the decade of Ed Decker and "the Godmakers"), but to the material in presenting it in a way that makes the reader understand how and why millions of Mormons can testify weekly of this event and how it has shaped their spirituality. Would Foxe (or others) be so inclined to alter the miracle articles of his own belief system? If he is, then he should start there and when he has fought against his own beliefs (as I have done for much of my life), then maybe he can observe the subject from a more objective position. Until then, his edits need to be kept in check by others who are looking for balance and objectivity. Bytebear 20:02, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm interested only in presenting the truth, and you have expressed an intolerance of anyone who attempts it. If your reasoning prevailed, doctors would not tell their patients they had cancer because it would disturb their belief in the healthfulness of their bodies.--John Foxe 11:45, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not a medical clinic. alanyst /talk/ 14:01, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
Unless you're joking, you've lost me here, alanyst. I was making an analogy.--John Foxe 16:52, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
Sorry—let me be more clear. Your effort to present "the truth" is just as out of place here at Wikipedia as diagnosing cancer, or giving legal opinions, or offering marital advice, or railing on the evils of gambling would be, which is why I linked to WP:SOAP above with link text that played on your analogy. If you think people here are being deluded into believing the Wrong Thing, there are other venues in which to attempt to rectify that, but WP:SOAP and WP:NPOV are clear that Wikipedia is not the place for such things. John Foxe's conception of the truth is entirely irrelevant to this article, as are Bytebear's, or Alanyst's, or 74s181's, or anyone else's. What matters is what sources there are that relate to the topic, what they say, where they agree and disagree, and how much weight their assertions should receive based on WP:UNDUE and WP:RS. alanyst /talk/ 17:40, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. Your point's clear now. But this is the discussion page, and my comment is no more out of place here than the one I responded to. More appropriate, in fact, because it's shorter.--John Foxe 17:53, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
I didn't mean to suggest that your comment was out of place; it's your approach to the article that I assert is out of place. If you are trying to make this article present your notion of the truth, then you are out of bounds. alanyst /talk/ 17:56, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
It's not my intention to advocate my own "notion of truth." I make mistakes like anyone else. I'm willing to follow wherever truth leads. But I'm not a post-modernist; I do believe there is truth.--John Foxe 20:32, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
Change that to "follow wherever the sources lead", at least as far as Wikipedia is concerned, and I think we'd be in agreement. alanyst /talk/ 20:39, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I agree. "Where sources lead." I forget occasionally that "truth" is Wikipedially incorrect.--John Foxe 20:52, 6 November 2007 (UTC)


Here I sit with a contract for a dead-tree encyclopedia article in front of me, with the amount of money they are going to pay me to write it, and I recall Bytebear characterizing my writing as "drivel." I'm going to revert to the earlier page, and I want him or someone else to tell me what about it is "drivel."--John Foxe 11:21, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

At last, the truth comes out. Now your condescending attitude towards all of us amateurs makes more sense. It has long been obvious that you are a better wordsmith than I, that doesn't make your words any more or less true. Joseph Smith, Jr. was barely literate when he first saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, I am glad to stand with them. 74s181 13:20, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

1 Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

74s181 13:20, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Given the out of context quotes used to justify your position, John, all I can say is you are overpaid. But I will refrain from going further as to avoid personal attacks (something you have chosen not to do). Bytebear 19:40, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
John Foxe, are you a contributing editor to some dead-tree publications? I am not a lawyer, but I have studied enough of copyright law to know that there are serious legal implications for both you and Wikipedia. Let's assume, for the moment, that you sign that contract. They will probably (unless they're very liberal) want exclusivity to you content. If you are writing for them and Wikipedia in the same subject areas, then when they find out they are likely to sue both you and Wikipedia. If any of what you write about for them has shown up on Wikipedia before, they'll likely consider the content contaminated and unpublishable, with all the implications that this will mean for the compensation that you have received. For your sake and Wikipedia's, you'll have to chose one or the other. I'm not suggesting which course of action to chose, but you will have to chose one or the other. Even as someone who disagrees with you most of the time, I still do not wish upon you the financial and career consequences that this could cause, so please consider carefully. — Val42 07:11, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
Frankly John, if someone is going to pay you to write then there is not one person that can gainsay that employer or your good fortune. However, as someone who has studied your edits, you are incapable of writing in a neutral manner. I don't think it is a sign of itelligence or lack thereof; rather it is simply an overwhelming committment to your own belief system.
In your shoes I would view it as intellectually dishonest to write about any other religion, denomination, or church. You have a blind spot that appears to be beyond your ability to grasp or to recognize. However, this is not a situation where you can fairly judge; if an encyclopedia editor cannot recognize this condition, then she/he has only her/himself to blame. Of course, if they are even marginally competent they will have prospective articles reviewed by other experts for accuracy and take nothing from a single writer as completely factual. With a proper review it will be a fine article. Good luck. --Storm Rider (talk) 07:28, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

Ironically the encyclopedia piece in question deals with an aspect of the law.

I have now made revisions of the article with explanations; and if they are reverted, I would appreciate a detailed discussion about why they should be reverted after having stood for months without question. Some were simple deletions. No explanation was ever given. It would also be nice for Bytebear to apologize for calling my writing "drivel."--John Foxe 11:39, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

This article is not owned by you, and therefor my comments on its content are not directed at you specifically, so I do not feel you are owed a personal apology. I do not know if you introduced much of the bias and out of context quotes, but I am bewildered that you defend them. Since, the rating scale on Wikipedia does not have "drivel" as a choice, I can accept the status given by others of "B", but perhaps one day a "C" (for crap) or "D" (for drivel) rating could be created so I can be vindicated in my charges. Bytebear 19:27, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
I don't think Byte's intention was to personally offend you so try not take it personally. I suspect that everyone of us has blind spots where we simply do not know that we are blocking our own vision of reality. You are not unique or alone in this predicament; everyone of us is standing with you. The only way to recognize the blind spot is to listen to others. As an aside, I wonder if you have heard similar comments from others on different areas of your life; when there is one blind spot there are genearlly others. You are rather committed to not seeing; that is an overconfidence that can be harmful. Enough of my silly comments. Cheers. --Storm Rider (talk) 19:23, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
I make mistakes like everyone else, and I try to correct them when I do. I'm pretty easy going (really), and I don't take offense easily nor hold grudges. Cheers in return.--John Foxe 20:38, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

A new approach

I would like to suggest a different approach that might help resolve the edit wars, as an alternative to mediation or arbitration. It does require mutual agreement by all involved editors to adopt this approach, so if a major contributor here demurs, this proposal can be considered rejected.

  • Start with a list of points disputed by editors here (for example, the relevance of Joseph Smith's character to the First Vision account). A single non-vandalism revert is evidence of a dispute and should trigger this process, without further reverts by either side.
  • For each point, list all the sources that can be found that touch upon it, identifying:
    • Author/originator of the source
    • Nature(s) of the source (critical, apologetic, scholarly, eyewitness, hearsay, etc.)
    • What the source asserts as historical fact relevant to the point (give quotes and/or page citations)
    • What the source offers as historical conclusions or interpretations relevant to the point (quotes and/or page citations)
    • Any editor comments or discussion needed to hash out details or explain reasoning
  • For each point and its list of sources, group the sources together that agree with each other and find a succinct label for their "take" on the matter
  • Any (disputed) point that is not supported by any sources is dropped from the article
  • Anything that all sources universally treat as historical fact is treated here as historical fact, subject to WP:Undue weight and WP:Reliable sources
  • Remaining points are given weight according to the number and reliability of the sources that support them, with attributions of points of view to those who hold them

If editors here can agree on this approach up front, then disputes over the article can be turned into discussion of sources. I anticipate there will still be some argument over whether a source is asserting a fact or making a conclusion or interpretation, but those should be easier to resolve by comparing to other sources or by asking for outside opinions. It also won't matter who here is LDS or not, or what an editor may think about Joseph Smith or Mormonism, because the sources will drive the article.

It will be important not to exclude any sources because of their POV, whether critical or apologetic or whatever, until it can be ascertained what the sources in total are saying. When editors feel that all sources for a disputed point have been found or are unlikely to be forthcoming, then they can start winnowing them based on reliability, but this should be limited -- editors should rather seek to represent as many of the points of view as they can reasonably do, keeping undue weight in mind.

It may be helpful to create a template or table to make listing the sources easier, and maybe this should happen at a subpage (Talk:First Vision/Sources, perhaps). How does this sound? (If creating subpages or templates for such a purpose is a frowned-upon practice at WP, please suggest better alternatives.)

This means a lot more work to make a disputed point stick, but I think it's far better than arguing via edit summaries for endless reverts.

Please sign your name to this suggestion if you are willing to try this approach. alanyst /talk/ 00:56, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

  • Proposed. alanyst /talk/ 00:56, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
  • John Foxe 11:30, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, but see my comment on choosing one disputed point for an experiment. 74s181 14:18, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Questions and concerns

How would fairness of tone be handled? There have been statements about LDS belief that are factually true, but stated in a way no LDS would ever state them. See discussion: Fairness of Tone. 74s181 03:28, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

I think that by looking at all sources at once, editors can spot problems with undue weight, or choose language that the different POVs can agree on, or just enumerate the POVs. Example: most sources on the Eucharist don't focus on cannibalism, so the mention of such should be limited if not omitted completely. alanyst /talk/ 04:13, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Who decides if a source is critical, apologetic, scholarly, eyewitness, hearsay, etc? I'm afraid that John Foxe will say everything he posts is 'scholarly' or 'eyewitness', and everything that disagrees with his POV will be 'apologetic' or 'hearsay'. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 74s181 (talkcontribs)

Editors would have to hash this out, but I think there will be general agreement for most sources, and where there's irreconcilable disagreement, just acknowledge it and move on (e.g., "John Foxe says this is apologetic, 74s181 says it's scholarly"). That might be an indication to seek a different source, or at least to get a narrow enough question for a neutral party to weigh in on. alanyst /talk/ 04:13, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
It sounds complex, alanyst, but if we can discuss sources rather than misty notions about "fairness of tone," I think we can make progress.--John Foxe 11:30, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
"...misty notions..." Neigh!!!, agreed the high horse that JF is riding. <g> 74s181 14:18, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
Limited to Morse code, the will o' the wisp angrily responded, "... --- .---. ... | -.-- --- ..- .-. | --- .-.. -.. | -- .- -."! 74s181 14:34, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

It might be easier to gain concensus to perform an experiment on one disputed point. I would be in favor of that, my preference for such an experiment today would be the 'not emphasized' POV but I would be willing to try this out on any recently disputed point. 74s181 14:18, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Fundamentally, if there is no verifiable, reliable source that connects this magical thinking and the first vision, no matter how beautiful the synthesis might appear, it cannot be included -- it is O.R. I think that there is something under the O.R. guidelines that almost address this dead on. --Blue Tie 03:20, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

John Foxe's changes to the intro

Foxe keeps introducing the following statement into the intro:

Non-Mormon (and some Mormon) historians of religion regard the "unique position" held by First Vision in Mormon history to be "a development of the last half of the 19th century.

The problem with this is 1) it is POV and 2) the reference does not make this claim. The reference says:

"Historians have pondered the various phrases of this vision's evolution and tend to see its present form as a 'late development,' only gaining an influential status in LDS self-reflection late in the nineteenth century." Douglas J. Davies, An Introduction to Mormonism (Cambridge University Press, 2003), 136.

To sum up the reference:

  • Historians have pondered the various [renditions] of the event
  • They tend to see its present for (assuming the 1838 version) as a late development, gaining influence in "LDS self-reflectiion".

The big problem is Davies is speaking for "all non-Mormon (and some Mormon) historians" which is nice, but certainly isn't a universal position or one that should be declared in the intro. Also the phrase "tent to see" implies that this is not a universal view, that Davies is willint to admit, but Foxe isn't. It's fine to present this info in the body of the article, but it is too POV and presnted as fact, when it is actually opinion. The version of the intro I present gives facts, years in which various versions of the vision were recorded and used. This, I believe is NPOV and avoids giving opinion in the intro. Please help me in avoiding a revert war. I think the intro needs to be stable before taclking the body of this article. And Please Mr. Foxe, stop reverting my edits with the comment "restored unexplained deletion." I have explained every change I have made. You have yet to defend your position. Bytebear 21:23, 6 November 2007 (UTC) --John Foxe 22:09, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

At one point I just quoted Davies, but that's awkward for a lead. How about something of a paraphrase? For instance, "Historians tend to view the status of the First Vision in the LDS Church as a 'late development,' which was not emphasized until the 1880s." (For that sentence Jan Shipps could also be cited.)--John Foxe 22:09, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
How about leaving it out of the intro? Bytebear 22:28, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
It's important to let the reader know that the First Vision story wasn't emphasized in the Church until the 1880s. It's just one sentence, and all religious historians believe it.
The first part of the current intro also suggests things that aren't true: that people knew about the 1832 version, and that the First Vision story became an important doctrine immediately after publication. Further, the only citations in that paragraph are to Mormon apologetic sources. Also, you've got a contraction and a spelling error.--John Foxe 22:41, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
But that statement may not be true. It is the opinion of many historians, but it is still opinion, which makes it unacceptable in the intro. By putting dates and events in the intro, you can imply that it gradually became a larger part of the church, but there are other factors at play that simply cannot be addressed in the intro. For example, Smith's prophetic calling was not emphasized until after his death, also, the church was evolving it's missionary and sunday school materials, and as has been proven as fact, the missionary tracts of the 1840s did have the First Vision, which counters the idea that it was the late 19th century. You imply that it suddenly became in favor in the late 19th century, but that is simply not the case. All things eventually became more standard in presentation. All of these points need to be presented in a balanced NPOV fashion. I want you to see that, while this is an important point, it is too extensive to simply cover in one sentence. Bytebear 23:03, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
That historians believe that the First Vision story wasn't emphasized in the Church until the 1880s is a fact. The statement originates from statements by several experts in academic peer-reviewed books. If experts say something is true, then for purposes of Wikipedia, it is true unless countered by the testimony of other experts. The only sources that dispute the gradual growth of interest in the First Vision come from Mormon apologists and are mostly on-line sources. There's no problem citing the fact that Mormon apologists dispute the beliefs of religious historians, but the apologists have to be identified as such.--John Foxe 15:27, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree with all that you say, but the reasons and history and even opposing views are simply too much to handle in the intro. The only thing I disagree with is the inclusion in the intro. Bytebear 18:26, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
That some historians believe one thing, does not mean that there are other historians who may believe something else and a third, fourth and fifth group who each in turn believe still more things. Wikipedia cannot say "historians believe X". We can quote someone who literally says "historians believe x", but we cannot extrapolate from a handful and say that they all believe such and such. And as for truth, Wikipedia is not about truth and statements in wikipedia are not "true". Instead they are "verified" by "reliable sources". Then, when they are contradicted by other testimony, they are not all of a sudden "false". It is just that there are other statements that are "verified" from "reliable sources" Now, interestingly, I have not been editing this article for a while (or even been on wikipedia for a while) by by some really weird circumstance, while browsing the web researching the genealogy of a famous person (to see if there was a hereditary pattern to a particular problem) I saw a quote by Brigham Young that had I not been to this page, I would have glanced over it without a second thought. But that quote said something like "God and his son visited the boy" or something approximating that flavor. I noticed it only because I had read the discussions here and I was sensitized to the issue. But I was in a hurry to find out information about my main research topic (which turned out to be more difficult than I had time to complete) and did not save that link. Wish I had. --Blue Tie 03:15, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
Of course, historians may disagree. If there are any non-Mormon historians who believe the LDS story that the First Vision was an important doctrine of the Church right from the get-go, I'd welcome reference to them. Otherwise, the "historians" here are every non-Mormon historian who has ever considered this issue.--John Foxe 12:26, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
You're probably right. I did change the other wording; I assumed that that final sentence was your major problem with my last revert.--John Foxe 19:33, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Fabricated / Devil POV summary deleted from the lead.

Does anyone dispute any of these facts? If so, which ones and why?

  1. Most groups hostile to the Latter Day Saint movement reject the possibility of a physical manifestation of God or Jesus Christ like that described in the First Vision.
  2. Some of these groups say that Smith fabricated the First Vision at least twelve years after it occurred, citing evidence of embellishments, contradictions, and historical anachronisms.
  3. Others claim that Smith described a real experience but actually saw and was deceived by the Christian Devil, not God the Father or Jesus Christ.

We've been arguing about whether or not the details of the POV belong in the lead. I thought I would take a shot at presenting a high level summary of the POVs. I moved the details to another section and added the above summary. John Foxe reverted twice with no discussion and a couple of his typical nonsense comments, then Bytebear reverted also without discussion. 74s181 05:39, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

I'm not surprised by John Foxe's reaction, he'll revert anyone who messes with his prose just because he feels like it, he believes the rules are just a 'Mormon Smokescreen', but I am surprised that Bytebear reverted without any discussion or attempt to edit. 74s181 05:39, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

As yet there is no consensus on the lead. I don't care who you are, or what side you're on, you aren't supposed to revert a good faith edit. 74s181 05:39, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Actually, concensus was met when John finally agreed to a stable version (here [6]), and then I come back a few days later (and believe me, a few days is stable for this article) and I am reading a very POV statement about Christians believing it to be the Devil in a dream. That is right off the anti-Mormon bandwagon, and probably should be in the article, but the intro should be about facts, not opinions about the event. The devil debate is opinion. I don't know why you have changed the third paragraph compeletely, but it seems to me to be too radical a change I and I want to revert it back to it's most stable state. Please, there is plenty more in this article that needs fixing, and the intro was finally to a state that I felt was "good". I think John did as well. I thought 74 did, but apparently not. I am truly bewildered. Bytebear 05:59, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
(Edit conflict) I don't like the term "groups hostile to..." since there may be people who reject the claim of physical manifestation, without feeling hostility toward believers or the movement they belong to. I'm not sure how I feel about the rest of your edit, but I think I lean toward the prior version. If I were to try to summarize the POVs in the lead I might write this (which doubtless would need considerable refining and fact-checking):

Most organizations and adherents within the Latter Day Saint movement hold that the First Vision was an authentic theophany that ushered in the restoration of the New Testament-era Christian church. Skeptics offer alternative explanations for the story in its various versions, saying that Smith fabricated the story, was deluded, or was deceived.

On a side note, it's not accurate to say editors aren't supposed to revert good faith edits; there's even a popular editing approach (Bold, Revert, Discuss) that encourages doing so. alanyst /talk/ 06:24, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
The blockquote above, I think, would be a good 4th paragraph if you feel it needs to be in the intro, but I like the read of the intro as it is, and don't like the removal of the 3rd paragraph. Bytebear 06:28, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
I see that you added my suggested paragraph. I'm flattered, but I wasn't being overly modest in saying that it needs some serious fact-checking and refinement. I'm not saying to leave it in or take it back out, but I'd like to get assurance that the following statements/implications have supporting material and citations in the article body:
  • Most organizations/adherents hold it was an authentic theophany. I know the LDS point of view, but is this accurate for Community of Christ and others?
  • Most organizations/adherents hold that it ushered in the restoration of the New Testament church. Same question as above.
  • Skeptics say the story was fabricated/deluded/deceived. Doubtless they do, but do we have citations in the article for each of these theories?
I haven't been involved with this article as long as some others here have, so if any of this seems to be unsupported within the article please feel free to refine or remove the problematic parts. alanyst /talk/ 06:44, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
I think the paragraph is well rounded. I could see changing "Most organisations/adherants" to "Latter-day Saints." The vision is definitely more an LDS thing than a CofC thing. But, I do think saying it "ushered in the restoration" is still ok with the CofC as they do believe they are a restoration movement. Could this be one place where we focus on the LDS, because they did canonize the event. As to the favricated/deluded/deceived, I am ok with not having references in the intro, if they are sufficiently covered in the body. Bytebear 06:57, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

(edit conflict) "...there may be people who reject the claim of physical manifestation, without feeling hostility..." True, but what I said was, those who are hostile reject the FV for one of these reasons. I agree that the formulation Alanyst proposed is more accurate than what I said, but it could still be improved. 74s181 07:04, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

'Skeptics' is a fine label, but John Foxe will never stand for it. 74s181 07:04, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

The first two paragraphs summarize the believing POVs. The non-believing POVs should also be at least identified. The second sentence of the new fourth paragraph does that, but the first sentence is redundant information, already presented in the first paragraph. 74s181 07:04, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

The 'saw the devil' POV is believed by a smaller group than the 'fabricated' POV, but it is still a significant POV. But JF won't allow it to be mentioned. 74s181 07:04, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

I believe that the current third paragraph ("There is little evidence...") contains more detail than appropriate for the lead, but I agree that something needs to be said about the history of the FV. 74s181 07:04, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

I am familiar with 'Bold, Revert, Discuss'. I'm just tired, sorry. Goodnight. 74s181 07:04, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

There is some redundancy which could be tightened, but I think the least POV terms should be used. "Sceptics" is the most broad term (as opposed to critics, or anti-Mormons which is too narrow). You can be a sceptic, but not a critic. The word "deceived" is far less POV than "saw the devil" which could also encompass other obscure theories like "drug induced hallucination", "vivid imagination", "false memory", etc. I think as far as sources for such theories will probably come from secondary sources explaining the use of these theories, because almost any primary source is going to be so POV as to be unusable (although I think Fawn Brodie may have expressed them). Bytebear 07:18, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
It's fine to cite a POV source if it's done to attribute that source's POV within the article. If we couldn't do that, we would not be permitted to link to any LDS sources to explain the LDS position, for example. Don't feel limited to neutral secondary sources for such attributions, though those can be helpful for ensuring that the POVs receive appropriate weight. alanyst /talk/ 07:31, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Looking at the initial 3 POV elements listed at the top of this section:
  1. How can a "vision" be a physical manifestation?
  2. Unless you can cite someone saying that they believe Joseph Smith made it up 12 years later, you cannot just say it. If someone has an opinion that opinion must be attributed.
  3. Unless you can cite someone saying that they believe Joseph Smith saw the devil, you cannot just claim that is what people believe. It ust be attributed to individuals. --Blue Tie 10:24, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

1. Although it is called the "First Vision", official doctrine of TCoJCoLdS is that it was a physical manifestation, but some denominations that teach the FV do not insist that it is a physical manifestation. 74s181 23:48, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

2. Although John Foxe has always insisted on implying this as much as possible, he has also strongly resisted any attempt to explicitly state this as a POV. References exist. Put a 'fact' tag on it and they will magically appear, as quick as you can say 'abra-cadabra' <g> 74s181 23:48, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

3. Although John Foxe identified this as a POV on the talk page, he has refused to allow even the hint of this POV in the article. Again, references exist, so put a 'fact' tag on it. 74s181 23:48, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

"...the intro should be about facts, not opinions about the event. " Some anti-Mormon groups teach that JS, Jr. 'saw the devil'. Therefore, an identification of this POV is a fact. Most of the first two paragraphs are also factual descriptions of belief. 74s181 23:48, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

On #1, if it is official doctrine, it must be cited. It cannot be just declared to be official doctrine. (I do not see how a "vision" is physical, but maybe its something about Mormon Doctrine that I do not know.) On #2 and 3 lets put a fact tag on it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Blue Tie (talkcontribs) 02:26, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

Less active.

There is only so much time in the day, and there are priorities in my life that need more time and attention right now. So, while I don't expect to be completely absent from Wikipedia, don't be surprised if days go by without any contributions from me. 74s181 14:18, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Treasure hunting and other "magical world view" issues

Starting with the new approach mentioned above, I would like to begin with the question... how important is Smith's history of treasure hunting and folk magic to this article? Do we have reliable sources that link this event with his so-called magical endeavors? I know Bushman does not equate the two in his book, but does talk about the visions of various family members. I want to heep this discussion separate from the visions as that clearly should be mentioned in this article, but I personally don't see how any of the folk magic stuff has any relivance to this article. Historians see the folk magic and seer stone stuff valid in the translation process of the Book of Mormon, but not to this vision. If you disagree, please provide references and evidence to convince me. Hopefully this exercise will do two things 1) bring both sides of the debate together and 2) provide a solid list of references by which we can build this portion of the article. Bytebear 20:16, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

It's essential. If a co-worker tells you that she has had a vision of a supernatural being, would it make any difference if she had regularly toyed with New Age crystals? Sure. The only reason for not mentioning Joseph Smith's treasure hunting, magic circles, and the like would be to deliberately try to hide relevant information from the reader.--John Foxe 11:57, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
This would be where you begin to present sources that support your claim that it's not only relevant, but essential. How about it? alanyst /talk/ 13:50, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
The reason why Mormons are uncomfortable with mentions of Joseph Smith's magical practices is that they, like most 21st century people, usually trust rational methods of obtaining information and are skeptical of people who have a magical world view. Both of us would probably hesitate to take spiritual advice from someone who searched for treasure using a ouija board or who regularly attended séances, because those practices speak to probity and trustworthiness. Yet Joseph Smith was tried for "money digging," claiming to find treasure by supernatural means, several years after he claimed to have received both the First Vision and the Moroni Vision. We don't need any sources here (although we might find some in psychology or anthropology books). In 2007 our suspicion of a magic world view is instinctive. To suppress the information about Joseph Smith's magical practices is deception, an attempt to promote a religion by hiding something of importance from investigators of it.--John Foxe 17:17, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
To the contrary—you have made a positive assertion that the Smith family's alleged magical worldview is germane to the First Vision account. This assertion, being disputed, requires attribution; otherwise it is original research. If you cannot attribute it to a reliable outside source, it should be withdrawn from the article. Do you anticipate being able to find an outside source to establish this link? alanyst /talk/ 17:52, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. Any claims must be attributed to reliable outside sources. Bytebear 19:14, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
The question is: claims about what? "The Smith family practiced folk magic" = "Mars is a planet." "Joseph Smith was tried for 'money digging' several years after he claimed to have had the First Vision" = "Mars is a planet." There's no necessity for non-Mormons to prove that these facts are germane to the First Vision; rather it is the apologists responsibility to prove they are not. If they might be; they're in. Otherwise we're deliberately removing historical facts that may be pertinent to the readers' understanding.--John Foxe 20:48, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
The claim isn't that they practiced folk magic. This question is this: Has any reputable historian made any claim that folk magic played any part whatsoever in the First Vision experience? Do you have anything linking A with B? Bytebear 21:07, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

[Outdent and edit conflict.] "Bill Clinton is a Baptist" = "Mars is a planet." "Bill Clinton was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives" = "Mars is a planet." I could not assert that those two facts have any relevance to each other unless I could cite a reliable source that made that connection. The same holds for this dispute. The burden is on you, John, to show that the connection exists in more than your own mind, per WP:NOR. alanyst /talk/ 21:12, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

You're viewing the question only from a Mormon perspective although this encyclopedia needs to consider all views. Look at the event from my point of view: There was no First Vision. Nothing at all happened in 1820. Joseph Smith made the story up sometime in the 1830s. Ergo, if the First Vision was a fraud or a daydream, then it's a continuation of the game Smith continued to play through most of the 1820s, money digging for gullible farmers.--John Foxe 22:20, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
I understand it's your point of view, and I have no concerns about your holding that view. But you need to attribute that point of view to a reliable source for it to be included in the article. If I believed that Clinton's religious beliefs influenced his behavior in the Lewinsky affair, I would be entitled to believe that but not to bring up the issue in the Lewinsky scandal article without a reliable source to establish that connection. alanyst /talk/ 22:27, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
I think your analogy is faulty. Look at it this way: Joseph Smith cons farmers into believing that he can find buried treasure through magical means. Even though he doesn't find any treasure, they continue to believe in him. He contrives a story about golden plates hidden in the earth and revealed to him through a supernatural being; people believe him. He interprets a sacred book with a seer stone and gives the original back to an angel; people believe him. He makes up a story about seeing one or more deities in 1820; people believe him. There's a possible pattern here. At least the historical facts might be interpreted this way; let the readers decide if a connection between his magical practices and the First Vision story is relevant or no. We don't need to hold their hands.--John Foxe 22:56, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
Again you are making the assertions without any references. Which source are you using to say "There's a possible pattern here." Who, other than yourself, has decided this is a pattern? We want sources! Bytebear 23:06, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
Any story can be written in such a way to guide the reader to a predetermined conclusion. The objective is not to show how gullable people are or how persuasive Joseph Smith was; it is to simplely report pertinent facts of the topic. The whole problem from the very beginning is that you write from an objective to vilify. You are blind to the fact that you want to lead readers to your conclusion. The facts mean nothing to you unless they can be used to produce your objective.
It is just as easy to say that Joseph Smith always credited God for his gifts; that he never ceased in telling people to pray to God; that the main witness of his life was that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God; and that he was martyred for his beliefs. You and I can both write in this manner, but the problem is that you are the only one doing it and then you want to claim when others complain that it is abuse because you are a non-Mormon.
The flip side of the coin is that at no time did Joseph teach others about "magic". If his magic world view was so important, whey didn't he teach it? Of course, that does not really help your case so it should not really be mentioned. What exactly did Joseph gain by making these outlandish statements about seeing God. His entire life was one of persecution from those wonderful "Christian" people who are supposed to be known for love and charity. His work in the restoration earned him a life of grief and pain; and you want to portray that a 14 year old boy came up with this life plan and never turned back; telling a lie was so gratifying that when he was tarred and feathered he refused to recant, when he was chased from his home he continued to refuse to recant, when his people were slaughtered because of their beliefs he refused to recant. And he did all this because he wanted to lie? Here I thought one lied to get gain; you would have thought he would have learned as a boy his path was one of thorns and he would have had more peace by being a simple farmer.
In addition, I saw the slur above that only stupid farmers could believe this quack. Oliver Cowdery was not a farmer, but a teacher. The saints came from all levels of society and many of the them were ministers of other Christian denominations.--Storm Rider (talk) 23:31, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
I only meant to imply that Joseph Smith gulled farmers with folk magic (some of them respected men in their communities) not with Mormonism. When he discovered he had the charisma do that, it was easy enough to move on. Once Joseph established his system, he needed to discourage followers who also believed they could receive advice from supernaturals. At one point he might have lost the church if he hadn't have put his foot down quickly.--John Foxe 15:48, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
This is a common analysis, but not all historians agree. Bushman has said that he believes that, folk magic and treasure hunting being common, that the neighbors who hired Smith were doing it not to get rich, but to help the Smith family financially without kaing the Smith's feel like beggars. It would be similar to me hiring the boy of a poor family to stack rocks in the back yard, not because I need the rocks moved, but it's a way to give them some money and dignity at the same time. Bushman contends that no "stupid farmer" actually expected to become rich from these activities. But this is a discussion for a different article. Bytebear 18:31, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
An interesting theory, but to my knowledge, there's no primary source evidence for it.--John Foxe 19:51, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm going to put on my Vulcan ears for a moment, and try to be strictly logical, so please, don't question my testimony.
  • The excuse that the 'magical' activities happened after 1820 is irrelevant because of the claim that there is no evidence JS,Jr. talked to anyone about the FV before his character was 'tainted' by these 'magic' activities. This is all part of the 'fabricated' POV, or, IOW, the POV that says JS,Jr. was an experienced charlatan who fabricated the FV many years after the alleged date in order to prop up a weakening franchise.
  • If there is a reliable source that talks about the 'magic' activities in connection with the First Vision then these activities are relevant to the FV article.
  • If a reliable source says that the 'magic' activities were the cause of the First Vision experience, i.e., the 'saw the devil' POV, then a mention of this POV belongs in the lead, but the 'magic' details should be explored later in the article.
  • If a reliable source says that we can't trust JS,Jr's accounts of the FV because he wrote them after having been involved in fraudulent activities, 'magic' or otherwise, i.e., the 'fabricated' POV, then a mention of this POV belongs in the lead, but the 'magic' details should be explored later in the article.
Vulcan ears off. My objection has always been not so much to the mention of 'magic' activities but rather to John Foxe's refusal to allow this mention to be identified as part of a critical POV. JF won't even allow the 'fabricated' or 'saw the devil' POVs to be named in the article, he insists that these things are just 'historical facts'.
"Joseph Smith cons farmers...He makes up a story...There's a possible pattern here...historical facts might be interpreted this way; let the readers decide..." Your axe is showing, John Foxe. You just said that the 'fabricated' POV is the reason why you think the 'magic' should be in the article, why won't you allow this association to be identified in the article as you have identified it here? Assuming, of course, that we can find a reliable source. 74s181 13:12, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
All I'm asking is that facts be allowed to stand, the ones you like as well as the ones I like. Don't try to hide information from the readers.--John Foxe 15:48, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
Present the relevant facts, omit the irrelevant facts. It's immaterial who likes or dislikes a fact. If there is a dispute which facts are (ir)relevant, the sources for the article point the way to go. Can we agree on this principle? alanyst /talk/ 18:01, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
We all understand that Joseph Smith's practice of folk magic and money digging in the 1820s reflects on his probity and what he said he saw in the First Vision. In that sense it's as relevant to Mormons as to non-Mormons or we wouldn't be arguing about it. I just have the advantage of saying that it's relevant. I urge Mormons not to try to censor their own history. Let readers, Mormons and non-Mormons alike, be given all the facts before making a decision whether or not to credit Joseph Smith's story.--John Foxe 19:48, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
NO, his experience with the folk magic of the day and being paid to find buried treasure is a relection of the day, not on his probity. You would like to make it appear to reflect his probity, but that is your POV. The only advantage that exists for all editors is to reference the statements and how they affect his character. IF there is no such evidence, then it has no place in the article and is POV. It would be the same things as the common atheist editor that wants to call the virgin Mary a woman of low moral character because she got pregnant young in the article Jesus; 1) it would have no business in the article on Jesus, and 2) its value is only merited by have a reputable reference for the statement and relevance. --Storm Rider (talk) 19:56, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
I have no intention of saying anything about Smith's probity; I don't want to make any editorial comment at all. I just want to present the facts (which we all agree on) that Smith practiced folk magic and money digging in the 1820s—supposedly after seeing God and Jesus Christ in a vision. This is not analogous to calling the Virgin a woman of low character. A correct analogy would be to say that by all accounts, Mary had a baby before she was married, and according to the Gospels, this baby was conceived by the Holy Ghost. The reader could then decide whether to believe that story or not. If you have the truth, there's no need to censor information.--John Foxe 20:10, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

[Outdent.] If someone here were to assert in the article that the operation on Joseph Smith's leg when he was young demonstrated Smith's probity and high character as it relates to the First Vision, I would ask for citations that assert such a link, and if none were forthcoming I would object to any mention of the operation, factual though it may be, within this article. It wouldn't matter how much people argued about it; arguing over something does not establish relevance, it simply establishes the fact that there is a dispute. If there is a dispute, the sources should prevail. If no sources establish the link you believe exists, this article should not include it; it is original research. Excluding original research is a pillar of Wikipedia; if you think it is censorship then you must work to change the policy. John Foxe, do you anticipate being able to find reliable sources to assert a positive link between the magical worldview and the First Vision? If so, I'd like to give you (or others here) the time to locate and furnish those sources, but if you cannot honestly say that you believe the relationship is established by any reliable sources, then please graciously say so and allow that material to be removed from the article in accordance with WP policy. alanyst /talk/ 20:49, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree with alanyst. However, there is a 'fabricated' POV, and the character issue is part of that POV. There is also a 'saw the devil' POV. Assuming that WP:RS references are provided for these POVs, what part should go in the lead and what part should go in the body of the article? My opinion is, the POV should be identified and attributed to some group in the lead, much as the LDS POV is now. The details and arguments of the POV should be reported in a subsection of the 'response' section dedicated to the particular POV. For example:
Sample statement for the lead, note that the goal would be for the majority sympathetic and non-sympathetic POVs to follow the same general format:
GroupX (claims / teaches / writes / says / whatever) that the First Vision was fabricated by Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1838 to enhance his standing among his followers during the Kirtland banking crisis. (or whatever it is that GroupX really claims, stated as a completely neutral, ultra high level summary)
Sample subsection under "How people have responded to the First Vision" section:
GroupX (in other words, this section is about GroupX's response, so it is titled with something that identifies the group)
ExpertY says the GroupX rejects the First Vision. ExpertZ says historical fact X and historical fact Y prove that the First Vision was a fabrication...
And, to be perfectly fair, "Historians" could be a group, but the group identifier really needs to reflect the largest identifiable group that asserts the POV. 74s181 15:26, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
An alternate approach would be to identify a commonly used name for the POV, use that for the subsection name under 'criticsms' section, then list the groups who support it the POV.
BTW, sorry for any typos, my vision isn't so good this morning. 74s181 15:26, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
My position is that Joseph Smith's engagement with magic is relevant to the First Vision. In my opinion, it's a short step from using seer stones and watching treasure disappearing into the ground ahead of money diggers to seeing angels and deities. But I repeat what I said earlier, that I have no interest in drawing a connection between Smith's practice of magic and the trustworthiness of his character. This is where the analogy to Smith's diseased leg breaks down. There's no problem with an editor mentioning Smith's operation and his suffering in this article. (It might even be beneficial to my point of view.) A problem arises only if an editor makes an uncited connection between Smith's character and that suffering. I have no intention of doing that. I only want to present historical information that any reader should be aware of, that Joseph Smith and his family were engaged in folk magic and money digging for many years, and then let the reader draw whatever conclusion he choses. There's no original research involved; we're just presenting historical facts about which we all agree. If you believe them to be irrelevant to an article on the First Vision, then you should provide some justification for your view.--John Foxe 22:38, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
Point of order: I'm not sure we all agree that the "magic worldview" assertion is wholly factual—but we need not go into that debate; I'm just noting that the question you're treating as settled may still be open.
Anyhow: there is a problem with mentioning his operation or the magic worldview assertion, because mentioning them implies a connection with the subject of the article, just as it would to state that "the First Vision occurred roughly 100 years before the founding of Bob Jones University". Such a juxtaposition would certainly lead the uninformed reader to think that the two facts are related, which is why relevance is a positive assertion that needs to be backed up by sources if the inclusion of the material is in dispute. The burden is on the editor asserting relevance.
Since you have not answered my two queries about your expectation of finding sources to show relevance, I gather that you still don't think sources are necessary. My "new approach" proposal was based on the expectation that we could all agree to appeal to the sources on disputed points, but you seem to be unwilling to join in such agreement. Perhaps we need mediation to resolve this question of sourcing assertions of relevance. Would you be interested in this? alanyst /talk/ 23:30, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
But you can't make the connection if no one else has made the connection. By your logic I can put anything in the article that I want. Let's say that I think that the white attire of the Temple was influenced by the vision of the Father and Son being all white in attire. So can I put that in the article? Can I say, "The persons were all in white. Incidentally, in the Temple, patrons also wear white." I can say that, and both statements are true, but they have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Now, if I have a historian who has written a book contending such a connection, then I can say "Historian X has noted that the White attire of the temple is remeniscant of the First Vision." But I cannot come up with it myself. And neither can you. Bytebear 23:40, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
What color were JS,Jr's eyes, what kind of bed did he sleep in, how tall was he? All these are historical facts about JS,Jr. that are not in this article. Why? Because they aren't relevant to the FV. I think that 'magic' is relevant, but only in the context of the 'fabricated' POV, only if you're trying to 'prove' something about JS,Jr's character. 74s181 23:47, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
JS,Jr's involvement with 'magic' is interesting to a secular historian but not highly significant because it wasn't that unusual in that time and place. 'Magic' is only interesting to you because you think most readers won't have the historical background to know that it wasn't unusual. Even if we tell them it wasn't that unusual, they won't believe it, 'magic' will shock the reader, it will increase his skepticism, and that is your goal as you have repeatedly said. That makes 'magic' a POV, not a 'historical fact'. That means it can be in the article, but only as part of a description of the debate, i.e., a POV, and only with a WP:RS. 74s181 23:47, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
Wow, three at once.
The difference between Bytebear's hypothetical about temple garments and the magic worldview is that the latter influenced the First Vision not the other way around. Bytebear's hypothetical could certainly be used in an article about temple garments, providing of course that there was documentation for it. Ditto with alanyst's hypothetical about BJU.
I agree that folk magic was more common in the early nineteenth century than it is today; but it wasn't universally accepted by any means, and lots of religious people thought that it was either superstition, a ruse of the devil, or both. In any case, the article now says that folk magic was common in Joseph Smith's day, and we can't abandon historical truth simply because some readers think people of the past were "just like us."
As for alanyst's questions:
  1. I don't believe it's necessary to quote any secondary source to the effect that Joseph's practice of magic has something to do with the First Vision. Such a statement is unnecessary because nothing but historical facts are being cited. "Joseph Smith practiced folk magic after he claimed to have had both the First Vision and the Moroni vision." There are plenty of secondary sources for that statement, and they're all we need.
  2. Nevertheless, I believe that I could find sources to show relevance, although I'd prefer not to.
  3. I am indeed interested in mediation to resolve this question. It's nice and narrow, and someone with no knowledge of Mormonism should be able to answer it.--John Foxe 21:39, 9 November 2007 (UTC)
I will take you second point, because to say "Such a statement is unnecessary because nothing but historical facts are being cited" is untrue if you are making a connection between the folk magic and the First Vision, which you are. To make such a connection is original research. This is why sources are required. Bytebear 22:41, 9 November 2007 (UTC)
There's no more original research in noting Joseph Smith's practice of folk magic than there is in noting that he came from a poor farming family and had little formal education. Besides, by your reasoning, you would also be guilty of original research. If you didn't believe there was a connection between the First Vision and Joseph Smith's magical practices, you wouldn't be arguing for the exclusion of the information.--John Foxe 15:37, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

(outdent)I'll keep this as simple as possible. 74s181 16:02, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

  1. If JS,Jr. participated in 'treasure digging' prior to 1820, AND if a WP:RS says there is a connection between 'treasure digging' and the FV, then it is relevant and belongs in the article. 74s181 16:02, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
  2. If JS,Jr. did not participate in 'treasure digging' prior to 1820, AND if a WP:RS connects 'treasure digging' to the 'fabricated' POV, then 'treasure digging' belongs in the article ONLY as part of the 'fabricated' POV. 74s181 16:02, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
  3. If both 1 and 2 are false then 'treasure digging' has as much to do with the First Vision as the historical fact that JS,Jr. was martyred in Carthage, Illinois on June 27th, 1844. Or, in other words, nothing. 74s181 16:02, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Finally, asserting over and over that these are only historical facts, or that this is the most NPOV article on Mormonism doesn't accomplish anything. Of course, from your perspective, perhaps the continual repetition of WP policies doesn't accomplish anything either. In that case maybe you are accomplishing something, John Foxe, it may be possible that this discussion is nothing but a delaying tactic, a way of keeping the article in its present anti-Mormon state for as long as possible. 74s181 16:02, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

What's special about 1820? There is no proof that anything happened that year. The critical year is 1832, when Joseph Smith wrote an account (granted, vastly different from the canonical version) in his own handwriting just a few years after he promised his father-in-law to get out of the money digging business.
I continue to assert that historical facts are not criticism and that this article is one of the most NPOV Wikipedia articles on Mormon theology. If it were not for the article's instability, I would push it toward GA status; it's that neutral and that well written.--John Foxe 17:24, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

I have requested a third opinion on the question of whether sources are necessary to settle a dispute about relevance. We'll see how it goes. alanyst /talk/ 19:03, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

"What's special about 1820?" This is the year that the First Vision occurred, according to the canonized account. If treasure digging happened before 1820, it could be directly relevant to the FV, without reference to the 'fabricated' POV. If the treasure digging didn't happen until after 1820, then it has nothing to do with the FV, except in regards to JS,Jr's character as part of the 'fabricated' POV. Either way, a WP:RS expert has to say it is relevant. And, BTW, in case you didn't notice, we're not talking about criticism amymore, we're talking about relevance. 74s181 20:34, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
But the relevance concerns the connection between Smith's money digging and the telling of the story, not the story itself, which is not susceptible to proof or disproof. If nothing happened until 1832 when Joseph wrote a First Vision story in his own hand, then the previous decade of magical money digging and golden plate translating via a seer stone is directly relevant to his claim to have seen deities when he was a teenager.
Ironically, the lead paragraph you deleted was backed only by LDS apologetic sources, and the one you replaced it with was backed by no citations at all.--John Foxe 23:35, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
"If nothing happened until 1832..." Ironically, this is the 'fabricated' POV that you refuse to allow identification of. 74s181 23:51, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Since no sources have been provided to show the relevance of the statements about magical practices, I have taken the liberty to remove them per WP:BOLD. I feel that there is considerable consensus here for this action, and John Foxe has not shown how the connection is anything but original research. alanyst /talk/ 16:39, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Bot archival of this talk page

Would anyone be opposed to this page being auto-archived by a bot? I just archived the page as it was 528 kb in size. I think the bot would be helpful in keeping this talk page at a manageable size. I would think 7 days would be a good date to set for the age, and possibly a shorter period. All other criteria aside from the counter I would leave to their defaults. See User:MiszaBot/Archive_HowTo for the bot I am referring to. - Optigan13 05:50, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Seven days, as in, no activity in a particular section for seven days? I would go longer because I sometimes link back to previous discussions. Could we go 30 days? 74s181 14:59, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Also, how often does this run, daily? Weekly? Monthly? 74s181 14:59, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Also, I've thought about building an index of the archive, that is, a single page that lists each talk page section, shows the earliest and latest date, and has a link directly to that section in the archive. Maybe another index by participant. I had planned on writing a VBscript to do this offline, that is, copy and paste the archive into a text file, and run a script that generates a wiki-formatted index, then create an index page and paste it in. I'd hate to waste my time on this if there is a bot that does it. Is there such a thing? 74s181 14:59, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

I believe it is no activity for x days. As described on the bot's instruction page it is "old(...) where ... specifies the maximum age of a thread". Thirty days is fine I guess it is just it looks like this one has been prone to some rapid growth over short periods of time, which can make for lengthy and difficult to read talk pages. But 30 is fine for me, I believe that variable can be changed at a later date anyway. I'm new to using the bot archival as well, so I am not certain on a lot of these points. I believe User:HBC Archive Indexerbot would take care of indexing the page as well, but again I haven't used either of these bots yet. - Optigan13 06:47, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

The discussion here is continuous, many issues are never resolved. My concern with overly aggressive archiving is that newcomers will repeat old arguments. That happens anyway, but some arguments are repeated so often they becomes tiresome, this is less likely if the arguments are on the talk page and not in the archive. 74s181 14:02, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Is there a way to put content on the talk page that never gets archived? I'm asking, because if we do manage to reach a consensus on something, it might be useful to have a consensus section at the top of the talk page that survives archiving. Further discussion of the consensus items could take place in the transient portion of the page, but the consensus would remain until changed, also by consensus. 74s181 14:02, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

There are a few talk pages I have seen that have an FAQ subpage. This is for those sticky points that get rehashed over and over again. The problem is, the FAQ becomes as devisive as the subject it is supposed to cover. I am not opposed to a subpage for a specific topic to keep it "sticky" but only as a place for information to give to newbies. Discussion should still take place, and the FAQ should not become law. Bytebear 17:30, 12 November 2007 (UTC)
I believe you are referring to the {{FAQ}} template. Take a look at Talk:Abortion for it being used on a contentious article. I'm not sure if the bot ignores certain sections. I have seen a few user talk pages on my watchlist that have the same bot, so I'll see next time one gets autoarchived. - Optigan13 05:45, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
Alright I've tested the archival and indexing bots against my own talkpage and I'm pleased with the results. Note that the talkheader was left alone as that didn't have any dating. Here are some diffs: archival of topics cut, paste to a brand new archive, and creation of the index. Another possibility is we could do the archival names by date instead of a number. Please take a look at the pages and let me know what you think, and if we would be ok at least with creating the index page. Would a more lengthy timeframe be ok to start with (30 days?), then fine tuning down if the page gets unwieldy. I'll leave the FAQ to users who are more familiar with the consensus so far. I haven't been keeping up with this page given the rate and volume of discussion here. - Optigan13 (talk) 05:07, 19 November 2007 (UTC)


I'm pleased with the improvement made in the article during the last few weeks. I'd like to remove the "neutrality" and "original research" tags, but I'm reluctant to do so without asking if there are additional POV issues that need to be addressed.--John Foxe (talk) 20:01, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

I am still not convinced that "folk magic" belongs in this article. I would keep the tags until we resolve those concerns. Bytebear (talk) 19:38, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Then I think you'll need counters to the following quotations from the article:
  1. "According to D. Michael Quinn, for 'many clergymen of mainline Protestantism...any post-biblical claim of seeing angels or Deity was an admission of witchcraft and magic.'"
  2. Folk magic "although not uncommon in this time and place, was criticized by many contemporary Protestants 'as either fraudulent illusion or the workings of the Devil.'" Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971), 256.--John Foxe (talk) 23:25, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Exactly my point. Why is there no reference to the "not uncommon" position? The trials for "money digging" occured long after 1820, so how do they relate to the vision itself? The whole picture is not being presented, and therefore is not balanced. I also see your connection of these two issues tangential at best. I would think it would be better balnanced with the story from Smith himself that he was rebuked by a clergyman. We need to look carefully at issues with the first vision and the second vision (the angel Moroni). After all, Smith's vision may have been seen as "witchcraft" by some protestants, but it also coverted entire congregations to Mormonism. And there was a growing movement toward visions and such, much of it outside Mormonism. I don't see that balance here. Bytebear (talk) 00:08, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Except for Smith's word, there's no proof that anything happened in 1820 or that he was ever rebuked by a clergyman. Here's a non-Mormon view: Nothing happened in 1820. There was no First Vision. Smith practiced money digging with a seer stone for most of the 1820s. He saw visions of treasure, of ancient Indians struggling over treasure, of treasure disappearing into the ground ahead of diggers. He saw ghosts and spirits and Moroni. The First Vision, conceived c. 1832, was simply a sophisticated extension of the sort of envisioning he had been doing for some years. It's certainly possible to give over a paragraph to delineating the magic world view of early Mormonism, but that will only strengthen the connection between Joseph Smith's folk magic, its importance to the story of the First Vision, and the early history of the Church. In any case, unless there's a counter for the statements given above, then a connection between Joseph Smith's magical activities and his First Vision is more than plausible and can't be dismissed as "tangential." It's simply part of the neutral POV that must be reflected in this article.--John Foxe (talk) 03:54, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

I think you've got it exactly backwards, John Foxe. Quinn's statement talks broadly about how "many clergymen" might feel about "any post-biblical claim of seeing angels or Deity" but does not say anything about the Smith family's purported magical activities or how they might relate to the First Vision. Thomas's statement is an equally generic statement about some Protestants' views of folk magic, and says nothing about the First Vision. The statements above need no counter because they do not make the connection you are asserting. There is no connection between the alleged magical activities and the story of the First Vision except in your own mind, so far as I can tell, and your personal POV is not citable or notable. alanyst /talk/ 04:47, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

I keep going back to the comment by an editor a few weeks ago who commented from an objective, non-participant (and atheist) perspective, that the article appeared to have an internal struggle to contradict its own information -- which seems to be from the intrusion of a negative bias toward the subject. I think that the comments by Alanyst above are dealing with those problems and I think that this sort of internal willy nilly contradiction in the article needs to be cleaned up. One of the paragraphs, for example, that really bug me is the description of Joseph Smith's character. Its a mash of contradictions. On top of that, there is nothing about those contradictions that help further clarify or provide enlightenment on the first vision. Its useless addition that simply confuses the narrative. I say remove it all if we do not have the ability to write from reliable consistent witnesses. The whole article needs to be cleaned up from this perspective. For example, the dating of the first vision section does not need to be written from the viewpoint of "Lets prove it did not happen by the contradictions" but rather, "Lets present the evidence about when it did happen". This is a matter of tone and presentation process/methodology. It is also a matter of NPOV -- and it extends to the footnotes where the same problems also exist.--Blue Tie (talk) 12:29, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Other than a few clearly identified apologetic comments, the article is the debate itself, not a report on the debate. 'Magic' and other questions about character are only relevant to the 'fabricated' POV. Date, as in, 'when' is relevant to the FV subject, but date as in 'never' is only relevant to the 'fabricated' POV. Where is the 'fabricated' POV discussed? It is discussed everywhere but identified almost nowhere. Most of the article is devoted to proving that the FV did not occur, but the only place this POV is actually identified is four words in the lead and part of a quote at the end, and I'm sure a certain editor is just waiting for a moment when no one is watching so he can 'tweak' that anomaly. 74s181 (talk) 14:34, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Any discussion about specifics is a waste of time until there is an agreement that explicit identification of the 'fabricated' and other anti-Mormon POVs will be permitted in the article. Then it will be time for a discussion of how the article will be structured to fairly present all significant POVs. The tags must remain until consensus is reached and the article is overhauled to comply with the consensus. 74s181 (talk) 14:34, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

I do not follow any of this at all. I am not clear on "fabricated" POV or what that is. However, I think that the article should not be written in a way to debate itself. --Blue Tie (talk) 23:58, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
The major POVs are (not in any particular order, feel free to add any that I have missed):
  1. The First Vision happened just as JS,Jr. described it.
  2. Something happened that JS,Jr. later embelished.
  3. Nothing at all happened in 1820, JS,Jr. fabricated the whole thing.
  4. JS,Jr. really had an experience, but was deceived by Satan, did not see God.
So, the 'fabricated' POV is that "JS,Jr. fabricated the whole thing". 74s181 (talk) 18:07, 23 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree that the article should not engage in the debate, OIOW, it should not attempt to 'prove' that any POV is 'truth'. It should, however, identify and describe each of the significant POVs. Right now most of the article is a subtle attempt to prove the 'fabricated' POV, while the believing POV is minimally presented, more or less as 'in spite of all the evidence, some wackos actually believe the FV occurred'. Obviously, this is not what the article should be. My point is that we need to reach a consensus that these various POVs exist and should be identified and presented in a WP:NPOV manner, and it is useless to debate the details of this sentence or that paragraph until we have this consensus. 74s181 (talk) 18:07, 23 November 2007 (UTC)
Another view is that there has been "...improvement made in the article during the last few weeks", or that "...this article is one of the most NPOV Wikipedia articles on Mormon theology...", and "...historical facts are historical facts. They need no citation to anyone. They are not anti-Mormon criticism..." I disagree with this view, as do most of the editors who have and are now working on this article. I think no real progress will be possible as long as statements like these continue to be asserted as truth. 74s181 (talk) 18:07, 23 November 2007 (UTC)

Joseph Smith's magic world view

I believe Joseph Smith's magic world view is a significant part of the First Vision story, and I've provided a citation from Michael Coe, a noted anthropologist.--John Foxe (talk) 21:03, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

It's still not making the connection. Coe is giving an opinion about how Joseph Smith's claims of divine visitations and visions resemble the magical claims of a shaman, but he's not linking the First Vision (or any of Joseph Smith's claims of heavenly visions) to alleged practices of folk magic. (The various shades of meaning in the word "magic" might be contributing to your inclination to see relevance where there is none.) Please revert yourself and do not restore the material until you have presented sources on this talk page that we can agree establishes the connection. I will not edit war with you but the material still represents original research in the context of this article, and as the contributor and proponent of it you ought to do the right thing by removing it. alanyst /talk/ 21:12, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
You said you would seek an outside opinion about allowing the "magic" material to be interpreted by the readers without additional comment. I agreed that this would be a good idea. Now you've attempted to eliminate the section without even the pretense of consulting a third-party opinion. I dislike putting experts between the reader and evidence that readers can interpret for themselves, but if we have to have a paragraph drawing the lines between Joseph Smith's magic and the First Vision, so be it.--John Foxe (talk) 21:37, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I did seek a third opinion but apparently it was in the wrong place. In a fit of impatience (if a two-week wait for requested sources qualifies as impatience) I decided to be WP:BOLD and correct the problem. Now you have found the sources (Quinn and Shipps) that I was looking for; these do in fact draw the connection that you have asserted exists. I am satisfied with that. I have concerns now about undue weight for this perspective, and think we need only a couple of sentences to treat the folk magic connection appropriately, but I do gladly concede the larger point since it is now appropriately attributed. alanyst /talk/ 21:43, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. I appreciate your spirit of good will.--John Foxe (talk) 02:30, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Date of the First Vision

I've simplified the material added by Blue Tie and added a statement about its apologetic nature. There's nothing wrong with apologetic material per se; but whether such material originates from Backman or Fawn Brodie, it requires proper designation to stand in the article.--John Foxe (talk) 21:43, 25 November 2007 (UTC)

I have not read what you have done, but in general, it is only opinions that need to be attributed and identified in that way. Everything else only needs to be cited. It sounds as though you might have done more than was needed or is desirable. Furthermore, adding a statement about its apologetic nature is probably original research, but as I said, I have not read what you have done yet.--Blue Tie (talk) 23:48, 25 November 2007 (UTC)
I don't like the phrase "Apologists for the 1820 date..." "Apologists" is not an NPOV term. Bytebear (talk) 01:39, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
If Les (that's 74s181) has a sense of irony, he may enjoy the deja vu, now with the sides reversed. For months I tried to argue that this article should not use words like "critics" or "apologists" to describe believers and non-believers, that all we needed were historical facts. I lost. Now the jinni's out of the bottle, and it would be tough to get him back in again even if we were all with one accord to grab an arm or leg and stuff. Like it or not, I think we've got those appellations for the foreseeable future. And Backman is a Mormon apologist to a greater degree than Fawn Brodie represents a critical view. (At least Brodie was published by Alfred A. Knopf, the same New York publisher which put out Bushman's Rough Stone Rolling; Backman couldn't even get a respectible academic publisher for his special pleading.)--John Foxe (talk) 15:22, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
I am only contending the term "apologists" because it isn't just pro-Mormons who think the 1820 date is accurate. Bytebear (talk) 18:54, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
I disagree—at least if we're talking about students of Mormonism and not you personally. I don't know of any non-Mormon student of Mormonism who defends the 1820 date. (Quinn's something of a special case, but although he's excommunicated, he still considers himself a Mormon.)--John Foxe (talk) 19:07, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
Actually, I find the opposite is true. Only those trying to discredit the event quibble about the year. Bytebear (talk) 19:15, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
The date is hardly a quibble. Grant me 1824 as the date of the First Vision, and the event literally cannot be the First Vision because Smith's family clearly remembered his telling them about the Moroni vision in September 1823. The First Vision can't be first if it's second. Dates between 1820 and 1824 create their own problems. Besides, if you remember where you were on 9/11/2001, then Smith should have remembered at least the correct year that he saw God and Jesus Christ. He said he did: 1820. But then he says he told his mother that Prebyterianism was not true—before she became a Presbyterian, after the death of Alvin in 1823.--John Foxe (talk) 14:53, 27 November 2007 (UTC)
I still have not really read the article since the changes. I would point out that I have no problem with the term "apologists" or "critics" as a term to cluster multiple people sharing a somewhat common view, but I do not believe that individuals should be labeled that way too quickly or easily. I believe that every time you mention someone's name, to label them as a critic or apologist is extreme, reads badly, and looks like pov shoving. --Blue Tie (talk) 12:43, 27 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree.--John Foxe (talk) 14:53, 27 November 2007 (UTC)
I have edited again. The effect was probably to revert some of what John Foxe did. But that was not my goal. My goal was to produce a section that appears logical in its presentation and (as I have said before) presents evidence for the dating but does not argue for any one date. I also tend to treat topics I edit favorably. I agreed that in some cases, removing some of what I had put in before was good, because part of readability is less text. There was one bit about "the 1820 presupposes" which just made no sense to me and was impossible to understand either in original context or as I re-edited. It appears to me to be an artifact of "argument by proxy". I think the Quinn quote is a valid point about conflating the events, but balance would suggest another view be presented. Perhaps it is presented in just showing the discrepancy.--Blue Tie (talk) 15:36, 27 November 2007 (UTC)
At least you understand the critical importance of the date to the congruence of story, Blue Tie. But there are a number of problems with your edit. You don't mention that both Backman and Quinn are Mormons who both taught at BYU. (Walker, Whittaker, and Allen, Mormon History notes that Backman "authored more than a half-dozen books in the traditional faithful style." [73]) Backman's publisher, "Bookcraft, Inc." of Salt Lake City, publishes only LDS works. The Mormon POV in these paragraphs must be acknowledged, especially since no non-Mormon scholar of Mormonism would attempt to defend the 1820 date. (I see you used Quinn where his position suited you, but you then questioned his certainty that the Smiths joined the Presbyterian church in 1824.)
Joseph Smith also said that there had been "an unusual excitement on the subject of religion" before his First Vision. "It commenced," he said, "with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of the country. Indeed the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties." The problem is that churches around Palmyra actually lost members in 1820. Backman has to go on a hunt to find churches that gained members.
Then there's the problem (shared by Quinn) of believing that say, a Methodist camp meeting or increased church membership can stand for a general revival. This only works if you think about religion from a modern rather than an early nineteenth-century viewpoint. Those folks back then knew differently.--John Foxe (talk) 20:56, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Unindent I might not really understand the importance of congruence as you suppose. Personally, I characterize the congruence problems as "Interesting" even "Curious" but "Unimportant". This is based upon my personal experience in researching historical matters, which can provide very perverse and obtuse problems, but I can see how some would disagree. I think the issue should be presented, dispassionately and with a minimum of bias either way and without an agenda. I prefer a "Just the Facts, Ma'am" kind of approach. I accept that many people also want to add opinions and these need to be attributed. I consider it to be inappropriate to go into detail about the holders of the opinions -- after all the article is not about them and just adding their opinion is already something that I want to hold my nose over. But more details about the holders of these opinions bug me because the article is not about them. This goes double for people like Quinn who can be linked to their own article.

It is possibly a slippery slope. For Backman and Quinn, going into details would suggest that we should also add commentary about what others think of their opinions. In the case of Quinn, the fact that he is an avowed apologist but also one with strong disagreements with the Mormon Church who is striving to take a balanced approach between believers and non-believers. This is detail I do not think is appropriate to the article but the more you get into their backgrounds the more you need to get into that sort of thing -- for balance per NPOV. It's a bad idea. And in essence, it basically questions the authority and integrity of the sources. If we do not believe the sources we should debate THEM and as far as possible, only include sources that we believe as authoritative and honest. But argumentation about sources in the article as a standard approach is really poor design.

As far as churches losing members in 1820, I think that populations generally are indicative but not conclusive and perhaps unimportant. It would be somewhat more pertinent and important if the churches were losing members in 1819 which would have been the period just prior to the alleged date of the first vision. Loss of members subsequent to their conversion (which per the timeline would be during 1820) might easily be explained by the disillusionment that Smith expressed regarding the various parties. But really, there are so many different possibilities and issues here that I actually do not think that any revivals at all nor any population change at all is required for there to have been "an unusual excitement on the subject of religion" in the mind of a country teenage boy of 200 years ago.

I disagree strongly with you on the idea that "revivals" did not happen in that time period. The documentation on this in the literature of ministers from that time and subsequent secular and church histories is overwhelming starting with Jonathan Edwards 100 years earlier to Methodist Circuit Riders such as Peter Cartwright, through the Cane Ridge camp meetings, adding Lyman Beecher (whose sermons after 1810 sound like they could have fit into Joseph Smith's narrative of religious combat), on up to Charles Grandison Finney and William Miller who both converted and began ministries about the time of Joseph Smith's religious struggles and vision. That these were not always called "revivals" as we know them now, nor run in huge auditoriums with big screen tv images is so utterly irrelevant that I am amazed you even suggest it. Each time you mention it, I can only stare. If the French call an apple "pomme' does that make it taste different? If a chair is made of leather or stuffed fabrics or hard wood does that change its most basic function? Your views on this matter just do not resonate at all and you seem to be stretching enormously.

However, if you have references that show a drop in populations of the local churches that Joseph Smith mentions, particularly in 1819, that would be appropriate to add as a counterbalance to Backman. The problem is, that it does nothing, really to support or deny the date of the first vision. Instead it just "deals with Backman" which is to me "argument by proxy" over an matter that is not the subject of the article -- and in those cases, I almost feel like, if the two sides balance, the whole sentence or paragraph should be considered for removal just to make things easier on the reader.

But this article is not "Milton Backman's research credibility" but is "The First Vision". We should not have an agenda to disprove it, just present it. To you the issue appears to be: "How can the first vision be disproven?". To me it is: "What are the evidences concerning the date?". You may say this presupposes that the vision took place, but I do not agree with that at all. I would, for example, suggest you look up the respected periodical "The Economist" biography on Alice Auma, where they speak matter-of-factly about bullets bouncing off her troops simply because they believed in her words or speak acceptingly of her spirit channeling. I do not believe that the Economist is written by people who followed her though. Just as wikipedia accepts and treats positively the gender identification of people like Brandon Teena (calling that person a "he" per their desires in life rather than their chromosomes and anatomy) so also, I believe, articles should generally approach their subjects from a sympathetic or accepting perspective -- and certainly not a negative one. (I even think articles such as Hitler and Pol Pot and Jew Watch should be written that way.) Not that issues should be ignored, but the articles should not be vehicles to destroy the concepts but rather explain them. Just let the facts speak for themselves.

For this article that means that we write about "Dating the first vision" not "Doubting the first vision". --Blue Tie (talk) 11:27, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

NB: I can see describing people holding opinions this way: "Richard L. Anderson, a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University says:" as valid. --Blue Tie (talk) 11:45, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
I like your stated objective to let facts stand on their own two feet without editorial intervention. The problem is that you've presented only Mormon apologetics as the facts and then excluded all non-Mormon voices. I'll be back to even the balance.--John Foxe (talk) 15:36, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
Though I find his conclusion hard to accept, of all the sources on this matter, I prefer the Quinn paper (which is almost the latest word as well) and he is not technically a Mormon. Wesley Walters is too credulous without justification and his research is the most dated. Backman is sound and nicely researched but seems antiseptic (though not really all that apologetic except to answer Walters). Quinn is frankly weird in his logic. Like Brodie, he selects stuff that he likes and throws things out that he does not like - though unlike Brodie he builds a better case for his biases. His is the most polemic despite Backman's intent, and I find him the most interesting as well. But I would want to avoid bringing in all of his argumentation.
I find your constant need to have a debate in the article between "voices" to be troubling because that is not a "fact" issue. I will not be satisfied with a tone that further divides the article into internal debates as is currently the case. I am trying to retain the relevant information previously developed while avoiding that "voice" conflict which is still prevalent in other sections. On this, I am taking my cue from a comment we got from a visitor a few weeks ago and which, after I read, I found to be insightful about the problems with this page. I do not mind presenting the information objectively if it is focused, relevant and useful. But "voices" arguing are a problem for me.
Incidentally, I consider it editorial intervention to include lots of undue weight on minor matters (cruft) or to build lots of opinion quotes from others to support a viewpoint. Instead I prefer quotes from experts as interpretation for specific reasons: either because the passage of time has changed the meaning or import of things -- and we would miss that or because cultural differences could cause misinterpretations. But, for example, that whole section on Joseph Smith's personality is horrible (as well as irrelevant) and the quote by Brodie at the end is JUST opinion that does not meet those purposes. That whole paragraph is trash and should go.
Interestingly though, I notice that I take the opinions that are expressed later in the article somewhat better because at that point we are talking about how the vision is "perceived" -- and perceptions are opinions after all. And in that regard, I really like how this article ends. It reminds me of how the Calvin article ends only this is even better. I do not particularly love Calvin and if I were interested in a pov article he would be dragged through the mud. But, for wikipedia I like it that the article on Calvin treats him sympathetically. I think the same should be done of Joseph Smith. But I get the distinct inpression that you and I are NOT on the same page that way. --Blue Tie (talk) 16:13, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
As an aside and so you do not imagine I have invented this approach for this problem here, you can see this same approach in the first article I wrote on Almah (which I chose randomly because it was the first thing I saw on an interesting list of articles that wikipedia said it needed). Its not a particularly good article but its ok and it demonstrates my general sense of handling issues. The Isaiah 14:7 controversy is found extensively in several places on wikipedia where people debate the matter in "voices" (argument by proxy). I read loads of arguments -- and arguments are voices -- but I hope I avoided having 'voices' that favored one side or the other. I am not sure I achieved the golden mean but I tried to present both sides and leave the issue somewhat unresolved except in the mind of the reader who could take things either way. That tends to be my approach to wikipedia... try to avoid internal conflict in the article... but when there is a conflict present both sides BRIEFLY (avoid too much detail - let readers follow citation links instead) and ... avoid coming to or pushing a conclusion. Give core relevant information and let the reader decide. (I hope I achieved it in Almah. I should have because I do not have an opinion that supports either side of the debate - I find the Christians to be over-reaching and the Jews or others to be too narrow in view. In essence I accept and reject both sides at once.)
Now, some of the stuff in this article is wickedly esoteric and arcane. That whole bit about where a cabin was placed is an example. Almost irrelevant. The problems with boundaries and good surveys back then as well as disputes about where lines ended and started were common. Where did people "claim" to have moved vs where did they actually reside? Would this be the only time an error like that was made? Utter claptrap. Yet somehow that pinhead is where all these arguments are dancing. Its really too esoteric and unimportant. That is an example of cruft. When I see that sort of crap in an article it gets up my nose. (at least now its in the footnote but the footnote is still stupid in not recognizing how trivial an issue this really is.)--Blue Tie (talk) 16:38, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
I must say that I'm fascinated by your emphasis on facts as opposed to opinions. On that point we agree. Our only significant difference is that you're a Mormon and I'm not.
To show good faith, I've removed the paragraph on Smith's personality that you especially disliked. As you said, it's not important.--John Foxe (talk) 20:13, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
Hmmm. I was wondering why you believe that I am a Mormon, but it does not matter. I will not deny it nor confirm it. Just as I would do on a page about any other subject. However, I suggest that assumptions you make about me are very likely to be wrong -- I am quite unusual and so far on the internet, I have found the batting average of guessers about me to be close to 0. I suspect you would be surprised at me but maybe not. I appreciate the show of good faith. Yes, I believe in an emphasis on facts. Almah is a good example. I do not have any idea what the truth is on that topic but we can state what are relatively credible sources on how the word was used and what it is believed to mean. So facts, as nearly as we can develop them accurately, are good and then let people figure things out for themselves.
I will make a list of all my concerns about the article so nothing comes as a surprise.--Blue Tie (talk) 20:46, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
The CIA doesn't confirm or deny either. That doesn't bother me. But as I said earlier, I knew you were a Mormon once you quoted Harold Bloom while discussing this article. Non-Mormons might quote Harold Bloom, but not here.
I think if you'll check back through its history you'll find that I've also contributed to Almah. But I have a hard time making more than cosmetic changes when I can't read the original language.--John Foxe (talk) 21:22, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
And because you label Blue Tie a Mormon does he get a notation by his name so that you can disqualify his comments or does it give you another gold star? Oh, I get it, you get to retain that position of victim on this article; how could I have forgotten! You really need to get over yourself and just become an editor. --Storm Rider (talk) 21:58, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
John Foxe, its weird to actually read that because I quoted a particular book, that labels me. Not that I only quoted it, but that I quoted it here. Perhaps I should have quoted it on the Popcorn page? That logic is so bad, I have to shake my head. Would it matter at all that it was given to me as a gift by a colleague, a minister of the Church of England -- and that I read it? Just weird that having read a gift book labels me. --Blue Tie (talk) 11:40, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
Not reading a book; quoting it here. Little things are often telling.--John Foxe 21:41, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

(outdent) Yes, the date issue is pretty crazy. 74s181 (talk) 01:26, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

  • For a long time John Foxe insisted that it was a 'historical fact' that the FV could not have occurred in 1820, because of the tax records. JF continued to assert this and reverted several attempts to add references showing that the log cabin was built on the wrong side of the line and that the tax records actually referred to a frame house built later, after the cabin. John Foxe then attempted to remove the entire thing, I have always assumed this was because from his POV, not having the criticism in the article was better than having the criticism present, but debunked. 74s181 (talk) 01:26, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
  • For several months, John Foxe has been playing the same game in reference to the revival issue. Long arguments on the talk page have brought no resolution. References were added showing major increases in membership among several denominations during this time period, JF deleted them. It is interesting to see how he has taken the language from one of those references and flipped it 180 degrees in an attempt to bolster his POV. 74s181 (talk) 01:26, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
Current article: "Neither the Presbyterian, Baptist, nor Methodist churches in Palmyra experienced any remarkable religious outpouring."
22:04, 8 September 2007 version "Presbyterians, Baptists, and Episcopalians in the vicinity also participated in the religious fervor, reporting significant gains in membership compared to previous year." Reference - Backman - 'Awakenings', page 9-10

Foxey indeed, eh John? 74s181 (talk) 01:26, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

In My Humble Opinion, all these arguments about the date are simply an expression of POV. JS,Jr. said that the FV occurred in 1820, that is a fact like 'Mars is a planet'. LDS believe this, their belief is a POV, and the article properly states this. Skeptics believe the FV never occurred, their belief is a POV, but the 'date' section attempts to prove as fact that the FV could not have occurred in 1820. This is not how things are supposed to be done on WP. 74s181 (talk) 01:26, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

The article should not engage in debate, OIOW, it should not attempt to 'prove' that the FV did or did not occur based on the date or any other means. It should, however, identify and describe each of the significant POVs. Right now the date section acknowledges that LDS believe the FV occurred in 1820, but then attempts to prove that this is impossible. 74s181 (talk) 01:26, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

I'll say it again, we need to reach a consensus that various POVs exist, that the people who subscribe to each POV have reasons for their belief, that these reasons are part of the POV, and that the POVs and the reasons given for them should be identified and presented in a WP:NPOV manner. It is useless to debate the details of this or any other section until we have this consensus. 74s181 (talk) 01:26, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

74, I think that the date issue is not crazy. I would not say it is vital. Maybe its even trivial. But (perhaps it is my interest in history) I find it intriguing. I am open to the idea that most readers would not find it very interesting. To me it is a little bit like dating the birth of Jesus. Probably no good answers and regardless of your view of him, not particularly important, but still interesting. I think that the dating section should read: Here are the evidences for different dates and Here is what people accept or believe about it (to the extent that is important). To my eye this is different than presenting every pov. It is superior to presenting various pov's... it avoids povs and stays neutral. I think that it is not always possible to generate neutrality on an issue but in this case, it is possible and so we should avoid pov. I do not believe we should present one pov, seek to prove it and disprove the other then present the other pov, seek to prove it and disprove the other as you seem to be proposing. TO me that is an inferior solution. It is much better to present the facts and, if necessary, present the fact that there are pov's, but not seek to support the pov's. As for my identified pov it is this: I think the subject of articles (even things that are not people) should be treated sympathetically if at all possible. By sympathetically I mean that if we cannot avoid bias (if we cannot be utterly neutral), we avoid being cynical. This is different from being supportive or positive - we do not seek that. Instead it is a matter of not approaching the subject matter as bad, false or negative. This can be very difficult for some subjects such as Stalin or Timothy McVeigh, but that is how I think we should proceed when we know we cannot be neutral.
So my pov is in order: 1) Seek neutrality 2)Focus on facts using best sources (if reasonably good sources disagree, try to choose the better source if possible but footnote the disagreement) 3) Avoid cruft and undue weight when putting facts together (hobbyists - pro and con - love to do that) 4) Avoid cynicism on the subject. --Blue Tie (talk) 11:40, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, NPOV does not mean Neutered of POV, it means Neutralized POV. POV is not something to be removed, it is something to be fixed. Neutrality is not something to be compromised on, it either is or it isn't. The only thing grey about NPOV is Fairness of Tone, something we have argued much about because it is not well defined. But we could make a lot of progress on the article without resolving exactly what is fair and what is not. Here is a high level outline:

  1. Lead - a capsule summary of the article, following the same outline as the article itself. Everything stated in the lead should be a summary of something stated elsewhere in the article and should be undisputed NPOV, like, "Mars is a planet", references should not be necessary. 74s181 (talk) 15:11, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
  2. Who, What, Where, When, Why of the First Vision. That is, what is the belief? JS,Jr, is the 'who' of the FV, and needs a brief introduction but certainly nothing needs to be said about him that isn't covered in more detail in one of the other JS,Jr. articles. If a JS,Jr. topic isn't covered in one of those other articles it shouldn't be in the FV. Everything should be undisputed, maybe an exception where one believing group believes X and another believing group believes Y, in that case a very short statement of who believes what. Or, maybe not, maybe present only what all the believing groups believe and cover the details of different belief in the reaction / response section. Or, since TCoJCoLdS has a clearly defined POV that is only marginally different from what most of the believing groups believe, and since TCoJCoLdS is at least ten times larger than all the other believing groups combined, maybe it is appropriate to present their view of the event as the majority POV, noting that there are differing beliefs that are covered elsewhere. 74s181 (talk) 15:11, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
  3. Reaction / response section. Who believes what and why, who doesn't believe and why. This should not be in the form of a debate, each POV should be presented without interference. If a particular POV wants to respond to another POV, it should do it in an assertive manner, as part of its own POV statement. 74s181 (talk) 15:11, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Regarding so-called historical facts. In a controversial article like this one, all the historical facts relate to one of the POVs. There was only one eye witness. He is not available for interviews or cross-examination, neither are any of the people who knew him firsthand. The only "Mars is a planet" facts are that TCoJCoLdS teaches that the FV happened as described in the 1838 / JSH / PoGP account (the majority POV), some people disagree on some of the details (minority sympathetic POV), some say it never happened at all (disbelieving POV), and some say that JS,Jr. was deceived by Satan (minority disbelieving POV). Everything else including diaries, manuscripts, books, letters, speeches, tax records, court records, artifacts, analysis, criticism, apologetics, past and present religious tracts, and bathroom wall graffiti is part of one of these POVs and must be associated with the POV that cites it as 'evidence'.

The problem is, John Foxe won't allow this. He insists that certain things are 'historical facts' independent of any POV, even while organizing his favorite 'historical facts' to support his POV and labeling everything else as 'apologetics' or else deleting it outright. Until this problem is resolved any discussion about details is a waste of time. 74s181 (talk) 15:11, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Or, in other words, arguing about whether to put this or that spice in the stew and how much is irrelevant while the bulging can of tomato sauce is sitting there. 74s181 (talk) 15:11, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

On the outline you present for the article, I feel generally positive and agree with many specifics. Having said that, I do not think the current outline is bad either. With regard to historical facts being "reports" by others, yes that is so. But that problem does not mean that we should abandon an ideal. I believe that NPOV DOES mean neutered of POV but that failing to achieve that, you must balance the pov. However, balancing two or more pov's is not as good an approach. I acknowledge that having a neutral pov may be unachievable, but it should be the first step and if everyone had that view, I think that the article would not be contentious. I think it is the demand that everyone have their pov included that causes the problems and makes the article go badly (not just this article but any article where this happens). The good can of tomato sauce is the one that reads "No POV ingredients". Just the facts. Failing that, just the best sources or summaries of evidence. Failing that... you do not have much of an article. More like a blog or webchat. --Blue Tie (talk) 15:23, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps you are saying that the pov is reflected not in the facts but in the decision to include some and exclude others. I can agree with that. I would say, keep the reader in mind, present as many facts about the vision itself and as information and topics get further away from that topic, the quality of the sources for inclusion should increase and the number of "facts" decrease. We are not so far away, though, from a more neutral article. --Blue Tie (talk) 15:27, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

I think that the distinction between 'neutered' and 'neutralized' is critical. From WP:NPOV:

...the neutral point of view is a point of view, not the absence or elimination of viewpoints. The neutral point of view policy is often misunderstood. The acronym NPOV does not mean "no points of view"...
All editors and all sources have biases - what matters, is how we combine them to create a neutral article.

Of course, all this NPOV policy stuff is just a 'mormon smokescreen'. <g> 74s181 (talk) 15:51, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

I did not know about any cabal, but I did know the policy. I think that policy is a weakness. It asserts that all editors have biases that we combine and counterpoint to make a neutral article. I consider that to be a bad approach that is appropriate only when people are unable to be edit objectively. THEN that approach must be used. But I am seeking an approach that is higher than that: "Ignore your own personal point of view and just let the facts speak for themselves." If we are unable to do that, THEN we would put argumentation of all kinds of things in the article. But I oppose that lesser method of editing if I can hold out a hope of something better. --Blue Tie (talk) 01:57, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

"...just let the facts speak for themselves." Facts are only relevant if you're trying to prove something. The only thing we are supposed to 'prove' on WP is that 'Group A believes X', WP is agnostic with regards to whether or not 'X' is true. There is no truth, no final conclusion on WP. For any topic that is as thoroughly covered as this one is, most people should be able to find their POV within the WP article and be satisfied that the article acurately and fairly represents what their group believes about the topic. If I look really hard I can find a few bits and pieces of what my group (the majority POV, BTW) believes about the FV, however, it is an incomplete picture and every bit and piece is followed immediately by a 'however'.<g> Some significant POVs are completely absent because John Foxe won't allow them. 74s181 20:02, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

"Ignore your own personal point of view..." Personal point of view is impossible to ignore, the consensus of the WP community is "All editors and all sources have biases". Blue Tie, it seems like you still believe that John Foxe can write objectively about the First Vision. I do not. John Foxe has repeatedly demonstrated that he will "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never..." The Churchillian Defense. The current article is the result.

My POV is that following WP policy results in articles that are objective, fair to all significant POVs and meets the standards of the WP community. Yes, WP policy is a bit subjective when it comes to 'fairness', but even after putting that aside, I can't make any progress. I try to follow the policy when I edit the article, but John Foxe repeatedly reverts almost everything I do. Therefore, I am trying to form a consensus that the article should follow WP policy, specifically, that all non-tiny minority POVs should be identified and presented, and that no POV should be favored as 'the truth'. Seems pretty simple, eh? But no, I can't even convince you, Blue Tie. I've been fighting this battle for almost nine months, I've tried just about everything. I don't see how any real progress is possible until this issue is resolved. 74s181 20:02, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

"...if I can hold out a hope of something better." Grammatical construction may improve, references may be cleaned up, but there is no hope for any real progress on this article until John Foxe abandons his quest to prove that the FV didn't happen. 74s181 20:02, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

Removed W. Walters stuff

John, you cannot put Walters' research in there as though it were fact when it has been directly contradicted by two other reliable sources. Even though you personally do not like those sources because you label them as Mormon (one, is in fact, not a Mormon) your labeling does not make the sources bad. And those sources DO make Walters' research far less valid. It is simply not honest editing to put discredited information in the article and remove more creditable information. I have never seen you do such a thing before and I am amazed.

To give Walters some due, for a moment, I put an edit in that said something like "Research from the 1960's found no evidence of any revivals just prior to 1820 but more recent research has shown ....". but I decided against that. I do not believe the article should debate sources. I think that is a disservice to the reader. We editors should debate them and make editorial decisions. (I am open to arguments to the contrary though).

Bottom line: I do not see any good reason to rely on Walters when two other scholarly papers refute his findings. It seems utterly wrong. If, however, you insist on this, then I suggest we have an RfC over the sources. --Blue Tie (talk) 12:14, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

In the interest of fairness to John, I am going to try to do some looking around for research that validated Walters. --Blue Tie (talk) 12:19, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
Update: I thought I found one source that vindicated Walters but it too was old research. Still looking --Blue Tie (talk) 01:58, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Walters remains authoritative unless proved incorrect. There's nothing wrong with old research per se. I don't think what you term reliable sources actually contradict him. If I'm wrong (and I have been before), please provide the documentation.--John Foxe 20:32, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
He has been proven incorrect. Thats the bottom line. The two subsequent papers say so directly. Quinn is especially brisk on that matter. --Blue Tie 21:37, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
OK, as soon as possible, I'll go back and read Quinn's article.--John Foxe 21:54, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
I was going to go through and cut and paste the relevant passage(s), but I am not sure I have the time or ability. I am trying to fly from one coast to the other and having some problems with the flight. Probably will not make it till morning, but meanwhile I am not sure what internet access I will have.--Blue Tie 22:04, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
I bit the bullet and read Quinn's paper all the way through. Although my opinion of Walter's scholarship has certainly not improved, I don't think Quinn has taken us much beyond the earlier positions of Backman and Bushman—which he scolds them for abandoning.
Quinn's arguments rely to a considerable extent on silence: we don't see the converts from the Methodist camp meetings because the participants came from a distance; local newspapers can't be expected to publish local news, etc. (Quinn doesn't mention the silence of the denominational papers, which were always anxious—probably overanxious—to publish news of denominational success.) Then too, Quinn imagines that Methodist camp meetings are identical with early nineteenth century revivals. (He says so flatly on page 22.) But early nineteenth-century people knew the difference between denominational meetings and the sort of "religious excitement" that Joseph Smith recalls, times in which all denominations were shaken by revival fires.
So with Quinn we end up with Methodist camp meetings far and near, followed by Joseph Smith's mother and sibs joining the Presbyterian church. Which Quinn (who calls himself "an honest apologist for Mormonism" [55]) explains by Smith's conflation of events. With apologetics like that, you might as well put me in charge of the store.
I don't have to take Walter's piece at face value to argue that his main argument stands: that there's no mention of an interdenominational awakening in the 1819-20 period in the Palmyra area. The apologetic counter, I would add, is a clever line from Richard Bushman's 1969 reply to Walters (a piece Bushman does not even acknowledge in RSR): it "all depends on how near is near and big is big."
(In passing, an excellent book if you're interested in the Second Great Awakening is Paul Conkin's series of lectures on Cane Ridge (1990), a wonderful example of how a non-believer can handle Christian doctrine with clarity, honesty, and precision. Another odd thought: where did all those people at a camp meeting, ah, go to the bathroom?)--John Foxe 19:56, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
ah, it's called a latrine, were you never a Boy Scout? Basically a trench in the ground with either natural vegetation or a partition for privacy. 74s181 (talk) 00:25, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

It doesn't matter whether or not Walters or Quinn or anyone else 'proved' to our satisfaction that there were or were not revivals. The only thing that matters is that Walters and those who quote him BELIEVE that he proved that there were no revivals, while Quinn and those who quote him BELIEVE that the revivals did occur. 74s181 20:21, 4 December 2007 (UTC)


Postscript - I received a comment on my talk page that perhaps I should refactor or remove the above paragraph entirely. I'm not sure what the complaint is, the complainer was not specific. I think the statement is factually correct. True, it is bold, it is all caps, but John Foxe has ignored or dismissed numerous other attempts to explain WP policy, I thought, maybe he just can't see them, he's got such a problem with reading and understanding simple statements of policy. Maybe shouting will help him understand. But no, now he'll be the victim. Oh, well. 74s181 (talk) 15:19, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Currently the article states: "Nevertheless, there are no records of religious revivals in the Palmyra area in 1819-20." Earlier, in the "religious beliefs" section it says: "...the only large multi-denominational revivals occurred in 1816-1817 and 1824-1825." The article cites Bushman but then quotes Vogel!!! Bushman says there were revivals prior to 1820, but you would never know this from the reference, while Vogel says Smith is talking about the 1824 revival!!! So, the historical facts are, there were revivals prior to 1820 that Smith could have been referring to, Vogel even says so, but what is the reader of the article going to think? Can you spell 'spin'? I knew that you could. 74s181 (talk) 15:19, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

If there were multi-denominational religious awakenings in the Palmyra area in 1819-20, then evidence should be provided. Otherwise, the position that there were such awakenings is an argument from silence. Bushman (carefully) never says that religious awakenings occurred in 1819-20 and instead credits Smith's concern about religion to a period when "the aftereffects of the revival of 1816 and 1817 were still being felt."(37) That position doesn't square well with the canonized version nor with his mother and sibs joining the Presbyterian church after Alvin's death in 1823. But it was the best Bushman could do if he was going to present his biography as scholarship. He knew he'd be pilloried if he insisted on the 1819-20 revival that he had written a Dialogue article to support in 1969.--John Foxe (talk) 15:53, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

All the references agree that there were revivals before 1820, just a bit earlier than most people think JS,Jr. said. However, the article implies that there were no earlier revivals, and that JS,Jr. was referring to later revivals. 74s181 (talk) 01:45, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

But the real point is, Walters says there is no evidence for revivals in 1819-1820. This statement is of course, an opinion. A factual statement would be that Walters wrote that he is unaware of any evidence for revivals in 1819-1820. This statement requires attribution, because it is still an opinion. The 'Reverend' is necessary to properly identify the expert, for the same reason that it is necessary to identify officers of TCoJCoLdS and BYU scholars. 74s181 (talk) 01:45, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Of course, the idea that anyone can even attempt to put a precise year on the revivals described by JS,Jr. is silly.

"...born 1805...moved to Palmyra in tenth year, or about four years...moved...into Manchester...Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester...unusual excitement on the subject of religion...commenced with the Methodists but soon became general...when the converts began to file off...scene of great confusion and bad feeling...priest against priest, and convert against convert...all their good feelings...were entirely lost...I was at this time in my fifteenth year..." 74s181 (talk) 01:45, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Who can tell for sure when the revivals occurred, when they ended? We know that the 'good feelings...were entirely lost' sometime in JS,Jr's 15th year, or 1819. JS,Jr. is also clear that the First Vision occurred "...early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty." Why does it matter that there is no record of revivals in 1819-1820? JS,Jr. didn't claim that there were, at least not in the 1838 / JSH / PoGP official account. Therefore, the entire "no records of religious revivals in the Palmyra area in 1819-20" argument is moot. 74s181 (talk) 01:45, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

If it's moot, then allow it to stand.--John Foxe (talk) 17:29, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

What appears above is OR. If I had an expert who expressed the opinion that JS,Jr. didn't really say when the revivals occurred other than before 1820, I would add that opinion. 74s181 (talk) 18:56, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

FAIR [7] disagrees with your assessment and stubbornly holds to Methodist camp meetings as interdenominational revivals, no date conflation, and local newspapers not reporting local news.
I've presented historical fact. You can say (as the article does) that Mormon apologists dispute the facts, but facts themselves cannot be dismissed without proof that they are incorrect.--John Foxe (talk) 21:49, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

But, John Foxe, I thought you said that FAIR wasn't a reliable source? And now you're referencing them? What's up with that? <g> Seriously, what matters here is that the Walters interpretation of the historical facts is disputed by reliable sources, including sources other than FAIR, you've named some of these sources yourself. Therefore, we must convert the Walters POV into an undisputed fact by neutralizing it. I agree that Walters said it. You agree that Walters said it. Anyone who wants to can check the reference and 'prove' that Walters said it. Therefore, it is a fact, like "there is a planet called Mars", that Walters said there were no revivals during 1819-1820. That's what the article needs to say, and that was the purpose of the edit that you keep reverting. 74s181 (talk) 15:17, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

We can also argue about whether or not the article needs to identify Walters as 'Reverend'. I thought we had a consensus on this as well, you're the one who started this practice by insisting on identifying all the LDS experts as LDS in the body of the article. So, what's the beef? Why do you keep reverting the Walters attribution? Clearly this edit wasn't vandalism. If you don't like the wording, or the grammar, why not try improving the edit rather than reverting? Otherwise, I'll have to start calling you John R. (Revert is his middle name) Foxe. I'll bet you'd like that, eh? <g> 74s181 (talk) 15:17, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

As a matter of good will, I yield on this point and have identified Walters as a "non-Mormon." It's true that the historical fact in question is not in the same league as the certainty that "Mars is a planet." It's more like the question of whether or not Pluto is a planet.--John Foxe (talk) 16:29, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Appropriate attribution

Thank you for acknowledging the need to attribute the disputed facts about the revivals. 74s181 (talk) 18:30, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Regarding 'non-Mormon' vs 'Reverend'. On a scale of -10 to +10:

+10 "Church President and Prophet"

+9 "apologist"

+8 "associate professor of history and religion at Brigham Young University"

+7 "LDS Sunday School superintendent"

+6 "manager of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir"

+5 "Mormon" (not actually used in the article, present for comparison)

+1 "Jan Shipps" (I could argue for zero or -1 since she knows more about LDS history than many LDS but still isn't a member. But I won't.)

0 Someone who doesn't know and doesn't care anything about the FV.

-9 "critic"

-10 "anti-Mormon"

Now the question is, where would "non-Mormon" and "Reverend" fit on this scale, and which is a more accurate expert qualifier of Wesley P. Walters? I would argue that "non-Mormon" is closer to zero or more neutral than "Mormon", simply because many more "Mormons" have a belief or opinion about the FV compared to "non-Mormons". So, let's say that "non-Mormon" is about a -3. 'Reverend' would be somewhere between "LDS Sunday School superintendent" and "Church President and Prophet", but negative, right? 74s181 (talk) 18:30, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

So, John Foxe, do you really think that "non-Mormon" is a fair expert qualifier for Reverend Walters, given all the various extended expert qualifiers you've insisted on for Mormons? 74s181 (talk) 18:30, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

No, I don't believe it's fair. Marquardt and Walters should need no attribution at all until their historical research is proved unsound. Calling them "non-Mormons" was simply a concession on my part, made in the spirit of compromise and good will. Some Mormons apologists argue for a contrary position, but even LDS scholars like the mature Richard Bushman carefully step around the problem. To my knowledge, never has any non-Mormon (unless you want to count Quinn) published a scholarly piece that attempts to defend Mormon belief in an 1818-20 revival in the Palmyra area. This notion is strictly Mormon apologetics.
And while you're thinking about what to call Walters, you might also consider the problem of describing his co-author Marquardt, who's "author of The Joseph Smith Revelations: Text and Commentary (Signature Books, 1999) and co-author of Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record (Smith Research Associates, 1994). Among his several historical monographs are The Book of Abraham Revisited, The Strange Marriages of Sarah Ann Whitney, and Joseph Smith's Diaries. His essays have appeared in the Journal of Pastoral Practice, Restoration, Sunstone, Journal of Latter Day Saint History, John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought."--John Foxe (talk) 20:42, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Ok, John Foxe, I'm all for simplifying attribution, but it'll be a big job. Do you still think it is a historical fact that "none of the first song writers wrote intimately of the first vision"? If so, does that mean I can remove "an LDS Sunday School superintendent and manager of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir"? 74s181 (talk) 04:11, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

Do you still think it is a historical fact that "there is no evidence beyond Smith's word that he ever mentioned his vision to a minister"? If so, I guess I can remove "emeritus Brigham Young University history professor", right? 74s181 (talk) 04:11, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

And, do you still think it is a historical fact that "the First Vision did not figure prominently in any evangelistic endeavors by the Church until the 1880s"? If so, does that mean I can remove "historian" from "Mormon historian James B. Allen"? And can I change "sympathetic but non-Mormon historian Jan Shipps" to "non-Mormon Jan Shipps"? 74s181 (talk) 04:11, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

This is one of those swords that cuts both ways, John Foxe. Maybe you want to rethink this? 74s181 (talk) 04:11, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

The attributions that you mention are "man-bites-dog" stories. It's a yawn if we're told that notions of an Ed Decker tend to undercut the claims of Mormonism. If, however, the opinions of a Mormon scholar do the same thing, that's worth mentioning.
Although we'd need attribution for a quotation by someone like professional anti-Mormon Ed Decker, there's no need to attribute non-Mormon scholarship unless its criticism of Mormonism is arguably shoddy. I don't think the evidence presented by Marquardt and Walters is. To deal with Marquardt and Walters, Mormons have to change the time (it's really the aftermath of the 1816-17 revivals), the place (somewhere else in New York) or the frame of reference (Methodist camp meetings metamorphosed into interdenominational awakenings).
Now, if a non-Mormon writer, say Richard Ostling, should back Mormon claims, then you can glory in his identification as a non-Mormon. That's a "man-bites-dog" story.--John Foxe (talk) 12:56, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

I checked [WP:NPOV]], I didn't find a 'man-bites-dog' rule, or any reference to the general principle you described, but I did find the following:

From WP:NPOV A simple formulation: (emphasis in original)

Assert facts, including facts about opinions—but do not assert the opinions themselves. By "fact" we mean "a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute." For example, that a survey produced a certain published result would be a fact. That there is a planet called Mars is a fact. That Plato was a philosopher is a fact. No one seriously disputes any of these things. So we can feel free to assert as many of them as we can.

(emphasis added)

A balanced selection of sources is also critical for producing articles with a neutral point of view. For example, when discussing the facts on which a point of view is based, it is important to also include the facts on which competing opinions are based since this helps a reader evaluate the credibility of the competing viewpoints. This should be done without implying that any one of the opinions is correct. It is also important to make it clear who holds these opinions. It is often best to cite a prominent representative of the view.

From WP:NPOV Let the facts speak for themselves: (emphasis added)

Sometimes, a potentially biased statement can be reframed into an NPOV statement by attributing or substantiating it.
For instance, "John Doe is the best baseball player" is, by itself, merely an expression of opinion. One way to make it suitable for Wikipedia is to change it into a statement about someone whose opinion it is: "John Doe's baseball skills have been praised by baseball insiders such as Al Kaline and Joe Torre," as long as those statements are correct and can be verified. The goal here is to attribute the opinion to some subject-matter expert, rather than to merely state it as true.

John Foxe, just as it is important to you to attribute what you consider to be man-bites-dog statements to LDS experts, it is also important to me that axe-wielders such as Ed Decker, Rev. Walters, etc. are properly identified as people who probably have an axe to grind. 74s181 (talk) 15:14, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

Walters' article was published by Dialogue. His thesis is a scholarly one (which even Richard Bushman in his reply paid tribute to), it and has never been proved incorrect. To deal with Marquardt and Walters, Mormons have to change the time (it's really the aftermath of the 1816-17 revivals), the place (somewhere else in New York) or the frame of reference (Methodist camp meetings metamorphosed into interdenominational awakenings). In Rough Stone Rolling, Bushman passed on attempting to support Mormon apologetics about the date of the religious awakening.--John Foxe (talk) 19:28, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

You are arguing about proof and ignoring WP:NPOV policy. 74s181 (talk) 01:58, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Here are the current attributions. 74s181 (talk) 04:06, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

  1. According to non-Mormons H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters...
  2. Some apologists for the Mormon position treat Joseph words "whole district of country"...
  3. ...evidence for the date of this move has been interpreted by believers...1820 ...
  4. ...and by non-believers, 1824.
  5. ... some Mormon apologists argue that in 1818...
  6. For a counter argument...see Dan Vogel...Vogel argues...
  7. Two LDS scholars... argue that the most likely exact date...
  8. Mormon historian James B. Allen notes that...
  9. Mormon apologist Jeff Lindsay argues...
  10. Mormon historian James B. Allen also argues...
  11. Kurt Widner, a non-Mormon theologian, states...
  12. the sympathetic but non-Mormon historian Jan Shipps has written...
  13. George D. Pyper, an LDS Sunday School superintendent and manager of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir...
  14. Gordon B. Hinckley, Church President and Prophet, has declared,
  15. William B. Smith, a younger brother of Joseph Smith, Jr., and a key figure in the early Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints...
  16. Milton V. Backman, Jr., associate professor of history and religion at Brigham Young University said...
  17. But according to emeritus Brigham Young University history professor James B. Allen...
  18. FARMS, an informal group of Brigham Young University scholars does not dispute...
  19. Grant Palmer has noted...
  20. Apostle Neal A. Maxwell wrote...
  21. Richard L. Anderson, a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University wrote...
  22. Marlin K. Jensen, General authority and Church Historian said...
  23. Richard Mouw, an evangelical theologian and student of Mormonism summarized...

74s181 (talk) 04:06, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Areas of concern

Here is my list of things that I think ought to be reviewed:


  • Claims that this is called "Grove experience" – who says that is what it is called? Need cite
  • Is there some sort of wiki link we can make relating to gods of flesh and bone?


  • It is true that at least early, Smith had limited education, but this seems irrelevant to the article.


  • To my eye the order of the elements in the religious background should follow some sort of logic. I think the most logical is: Influence of revivals, history of visions and folk magic. But I could see those three reversed.
  • The folk magic stuff is fun and interesting but it seems like undue weight. Joseph Smith hardly gave it any credit at all and seems to have laughed at it. We may be overdoing it. I have known some water dousers and yet this hardly defined their lives or their actual religious beliefs so I just feel like between my personal experience and Smith’s humorous sense about this subject that this matter is overblown here. However, Jan Shipps comment is not lightweight and should be included. I think this section could go:
The family also practiced a form of folk magic, which, although not uncommon in this time and place, was criticized by many contemporary Protestants "as either fraudulent illusion or the workings of the Devil." Jan Shipps notes that while Joseph Smith's "religious claims were rejected by many of the persons who had known him in the 1820s because they remembered him as a practitioner of the magic arts," others of his earliest followers were attracted to his claims "for precisely the same reason."
I’d be tempted to put in some comments by Joseph Smith about this magic stuff – and he would be a primary source of how it affected him, but undue weight is the major consideration I have.


  • Throughout this section, there are references to the different sources. I think that this should be used sparingly or not at all. Where there is no overt contradiction, I would utterly eliminate comments that the statement comes from a particular source. Where there are contradictions I would still revisit what source was used. Chiefly because I do not think that the different sources being listed are interesting to the reader and it breaks the narrative.
  • In the first paragraph I see the Statement: According to later accounts, he prayed, "O Lord, what church shall I join?" This looks like it should be later in the narrative.
  • Statement: "Most latter-day saints believe this was god and Jesus..". Not really what Smith said he saw. Remove it.


  • Change section to HOW THE VISION WAS RECORDED
  • Evolution of the First Vision importance is treated twice. It should be just once and it makes more sense to have it in the "How people have responded to the First Vision" Section. Move it, simplify it and integrate it.
  • I have some problems with the Jeff Lindsey allusion. Not strong… but it seems like this is a single source perspective and if Lindsey edited here, it would be OR. I am open to an alternative view.
  • However Cowdery, should probably read “Moreover Cowdery” because it looks like a compounded error.
  • Warren Parish Scribe identification is unneeded cruft.
  • I see some capitalization of pronouns for Jesus. Is that per wikipedia standards?
  • In the 1838 account it says "18 years previous" This is not in the account, it just gives a year. Lets stick with what it says.
  • Accounts for publication should be divided into two sections: 1840 Account and 1842 Account
  • William Smith's reminisces should be deleted. Ads no value, is not a significant source, contradicts multiple other timelines and he admitted he did not recall it so well.


  • Criticism should be more forthright and frank: State that the critics believe Smith lied. Reformat the section to match this approach. The section should not be a forum for the critics but should explain their views.

There may be more but thats all for now. --Blue Tie (talk) 14:13, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

There's not much that you've mentioned that I disagree with; most of these changes I support wholeheartedly. (In fact I just did a few simple things myself.) When an article has become a battlefield, it tends to get littered with corpses.
I would urge caution, however, about saying that "critics believe Smith lied." That's not necessarily so even if what he said was not objectively true. Personally I believe Joseph Smith was a mendacious liar; but it can be argued (and has been argued) that Smith was crazy, self-deceived, or simply grew to believe in visions that were the product of his imagination.
Also, in my opinion, the folk magic section is important. Quinn's book is a real eye-opener on the extent to which Smith and other early Mormons emphasized magical practices. Curiously, the beginning of the end of "magical world view" in the LDS Church occurs in the 1880s at the same time that the First Vision begins to be emphasized.--John Foxe 21:23, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
But I think that with regard to this topic: The First Vision, the arguments all appear to not be related to him being crazy. I suppose self-deceived fits into some of the arguments. I have a hard time understanding the perspective of him growing to believe in something that did not happen as though it were true. That sounds just odd.
I'm not opposed to the magical thinking stuff especially since Jan Shipps made some connection between that and his reception by others. But I do not think it needs to take up so much space and it does not need so many other opinions. Shipps opinion is really the only relevant one to this topic. And, honestly, I kind of look sideways at documents that are not final but are drafts like his mothers apparent journal entry. If it was not final then she had more work to do on it... maybe something was wrong with it in her eyes. So to me its not a very good source. Something about it was not quite right to her and she changed it. That means something. I know that I sometimes go back and read something I have read and thought "That came out all wrong" and changed it later. I would not want to be quoted the original way. Thats my thinking. --Blue Tie 21:35, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
About LMS's draft: It wasn't a working draft; she didn't change the comment; her opinion about the matter wasn't considered. The mention of family magical practice was cut by her editors before publication almost certainly because it was embarrassing to contemporary Mormons. Lucy Smith thought she was defending her family's reputation. Her editors knew otherwise. The comment is actually more significant because it appears in the draft version.
As for Smith growing to believe in something he had put together himself, it is a strange idea; but it's also something that someone as significant as Fawn Brodie seems to have believed in.--John Foxe 21:52, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Well, I do not know about the draft, I just read the reference and said, "that's sketchy". How do you know editors cut it and that she did not?
Fawn Brodie wasn't ever really sure about Smith. I do not think it is fair to say that she held only one idea about him, other than that he was not good. But she swayed between lying and mentally ill. Perhaps a self reflection.--Blue Tie 22:01, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
I have no proof that LMS didn't cut the reference herself, but in EMD, Vogel says it's an editorial deletion. There's also no record of her having any say in the final product.
I agree that Brodie is confused about Smith's motivation. And she got more confused as she got deeper into psychohistory.--John Foxe 00:05, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
Well and editorial deletion could be by her. I just have problems when there is a draft and a final -- going with the draft. --Blue Tie 00:45, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

If the manuscript draft is verifiable then it doesn't matter that it is a draft. WP:V says: (emphasis in original)

The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. "Verifiable" in this context means that any reader should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source. Editors should provide a reliable source for quotations and for any material that is challenged or is likely to be challenged, or it may be removed.

The LMS MS draft is available in EMD. I think I have also seen it online. It is properly identified as a draft in the article. 74s181 (talk) 00:18, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

However, the unpublished draft and the published versions of the book are both primary sources. WP:NOR - Primary, seoondary and tertiary sources says: (emphasis added)

A primary source is a document or person very close to the situation being written about. Primary sources that have been published by a reliable source may be used in Wikipedia, but only with care, because it is easy to misuse them. For that reason, anyone—without specialist knowledge—who reads the primary source should be able to verify that the Wikipedia passage agrees with the primary source. Any interpretation of primary source material requires another reliable source for that interpretation. To the extent that an article or particular part of an article relies on a primary source, that part of the article should:
  • only make descriptive claims about the information found in the primary source, the accuracy and applicability of which is easily verifiable by any reasonable, educated person without specialist knowledge, and
  • make no analytic, synthetic, interpretive, explanatory, or evaluative claims about the information found in the primary source, unless such claims are verifiable from another source.

There are WP:RS secondary sources who provide the interpretation that is presented in the article. I wonder if presenting the quote itself is appropriate, as it is somewhat ambiguous and seems like an attempt to draw a conclusion or lead the reader to a conclusion rather than stating the conclusion of an expert. 74s181 (talk) 00:28, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

I have been too busy to deal with this, but the issue here is the same as the one related to Walters. John Foxe is using sources that have been superseded by more recent information. In the case of Wesley Walters, the recent sources are superior for a variety of reasons but he rejects them for the inferior sources. In this case, I again say that the later version by the writer -- the one intended for publication -- is the more authoritative source. (I understand the issues of "truth" but I am talking about reasonable standards of reliablity). In both cases, Foxe goes to an older, less authoritative or less reliable source and his reasons are (for all appearances) based upon his admitted bias against Joseph Smith. This goes directly to the heart of what wikipedia should not be: a platform for some sort of personal agenda. --Blue Tie (talk) 17:03, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Marquardt and Walters have not been superseded; their thesis has not been proved incorrect. The newer sources to which you refer are simply Mormon apologetics intended to push a religious agenda. Richard Bushman did not rely on them (or even mention his own earlier apologetic article about the subject). Wikipedia should not promote any ideological or religious viewpoint—especially an unacknowledged one such as yours.--John Foxe (talk) 19:20, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

Superseded or not, proven incorrect or not, Walters must be attributed. There are many non-Mormons in the world, Walter's primary expert qualification is that he is a Presbyterian minister. 74s181 (talk) 02:04, 10 December 2007 (UTC)