Episode 143: D&C 44 – Section 61

January 21, 2017


Episode 143: D&C 44 – Section 61

In the most hydrating revelation yet, Joseph has a boating accident. Here’s hoping you don’t drown from imperfect faith! It’s the episode where Bryce and Marie are unable to remember what verse they’re on.

Drink Count – 15, or about 2 beers

Alan Watts – The Earth is “People-ing”
The Pink Papaya Shop created a whole series of watercolors called “The Wives of Joseph Smith”

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Podcastriarchal music is Our Happy Life by Maps and Transit, edited for length

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3 Comments on “Episode 143: D&C 44 – Section 61”

  1. Gottfried TheHirsute Says:

    So a bit more about Cincinnati (see my prior comment on Section 60):

    To travel between Kirtland and Independence in the 1830s, you had basically two options: 1) overland across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri by stagecoach (with a stopover for the night at Lucinda Morgan Harris’ house on the way, but that’s another story for the future πŸ˜‰ ) or 2) by canal boat to Cincinnati via either of two routes and then down the Ohio River and up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to St. Louis and beyond. With river transportation being faster, cheaper and able to carry larger loads than horse-drawn wagons, this route was the major transportation artery of the expanding United States at this time, and Cincinnati was a boom town because of it. It’s population grew from less than 10,000 in 1820 to more than 25,000 in 1830. The socio-economic conditions which prevailed there at this time would make it “fertile ground” for proselyting.

    Oliver Cowdery and his three companions preached in Cincinnati in January 1831 on their way to proselyte the Indians – ahem, Lamanites – west of Independence in what would become Kansas. Joseph Smith himself went to the city in June 1831 and met with Walter Scott, Campbellite minister and former mentor and friend of Sidney Rigdon before the Disciples of Christ (i.e. Campbellites) kicked Rigdon out over disagreements on doctrines such as infant baptism (interesting how the Book of Mormon ‘settles’ that issue in Rigdon’s favor. How convenient.)

    As a side note, Walter Scott is most remembered for his “Five Finger Gospel.” When he’d arrive in a town to proselyte, he’d gather a group of children, have them hold up their hands and while pointing to each finger in succession, have them repeat the words “Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Remission of Sins, Gift of the Holy Spirit” (sound vaguely familiar to anyone?) And, oh yeah, Scott developed this mnemonic between 1827 and 1830, when Rigdon was still a Campbellite preacher and before the Book of Mormon was ‘translated’. But I digress… πŸ˜‰

    The first branch (congregation) of the Church in Cincinnati was organized by good ol’ Lyman Wight in 1833 after he personally baptized nearly 100 people. By 1840, there were enough Mormons to require a second branch to be organized. Also in 1840, the third edition of the Book of Mormon was printed there, and in May 1844, a conference of the Church was held there presided over by none other than Brigham Young himself, President of the Quorum of the Twelve at the time. And then Cincinnati pretty much disappears from Mormon history!

    I find it interesting that Cincinnati apparently held so much importance to the Church during these years, and yet it’s now almost completely forgotten within LDS culture. I need to find out why – time for more research! πŸ˜€

    So to tie all this into the episode and Section 61 itself, a couple of things:

    1) According to journals, there had been quarreling amongst the members of the group for the previous three days, but after the near-drowning incident, they settled their differences that evening. Hence why God was angry at them “yesterday,” but wasn’t anymore at the time that the revelation was given.

    2) Canals by their very nature were much safer than rivers, not having strong currents and underwater obstructions, which apparently is the reason for their exemption from being subject to the Destroying Angel. (Another side note: the Destroying Angel being “upon the waters” is still often cited as a reason why missionaries can’t go swimming!)

    3) Not only did the revelation conveniently command Smith, Rigdon and Cowdery to now travel by stagecoach while the rest of the poor schmoes (Sidney Gilbert et. al) had to continue on in canoes with the Destroying Angel hovering around them and all, but, according to journal entries, Smith and Rigdon hit them up for the money to pay for the stagecoach! This meant that the others had to walk back to Kirtland once they got to the point where they could go no farther by canoe (you couldn’t take the canoes on the canals unless you paid tolls – which they now couldn’t afford to pay.) Depending on how far upriver they went, this meant that they still would have to walk between 150 and 250 miles to get to Kirtland.

    I know this was a bit extensive, but I decided that it might be more beneficial for other listeners for me to post a comment than just continue to yell things at my iPhone (Siri has learned some new vocabulary lately… πŸ˜‰ )


  2. Duke of Earl Grey Says:

    The description of W.W. Phelps’ “daylight vision” in the section heading is taken almost word for word from Joseph Smith’s History of the Church, which doesn’t include much more detail, but a little: “Brother Phelps, in open vision by daylight, saw the destroyer in his most horrible power, ride upon the face of the waters; others heard the noise, but saw not the vision.”

    Maybe some fuller account exists somewhere, I don’t know, but I’ve always wondered just what imagery Phelps saw that would constitute “riding in power upon the face of the water.” I rather like to imagine the destroyer as a modern, outdoorsy kind of bro, cruising down the river on a jet ski, or some other “power” craft unknown to mortals of the time, and that Phelps saw him whizzing around between their canoes, while everyone else only heard the noise he was making.

    There’s some ambiguity whether the “destroyer” in question is supposed to be Satan, or instead a destroying angel sent from God, like the one that killed the firstborn Egyptians in the Exodus story. The latter strikes me as more in keeping with the wording of the D&C 61 text.


  3. MarsGirl Says:

    I was an adult convert to the LDS Church in my 20’s many years ago. I did not attend Seminary or Institute nor do I live in the Mormon Corridor so I am not familiar with all the Mormon myths, urban or otherwise. So after this episode I did an internet search to see if Mormons believe Satan controls water and came across an article that discusses D&C 61 and presents an alternative account by Ezra Booth, a Methodist minister who converted to Mormonism, that “Joseph found canoeing to be more difficult than he expected and invented the “destroyer” revelation to get out of the previous divine mandate to travel that way.” As usual Joseph is the master of making it all up as he goes along.

    “Why do Mormons Believe that Satan Controls the Water”

    View at Medium.com


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