Ezra Taft Benson chronology: Secretary of Agriculture

Ezra Taft Benson Chronology (Part II): Nov 5, 1952 to January 20, 1961 (years as Secretary of Agriculture)


Early in life, Benson was a county agricultural agent and then became involved in various farming enterprises which gave him the experience that lead to his invitation to be the secretary of agriculture in the Eisenhower administration. After consulting with David O. McKay, Benson accepted the appointment where he worked towards a free market economy for agricultural goods, lessening government price controlling measures that protected farmers. Benson’s “get big, or get out of farming” approach made him unpopular among small farmers, who sometimes threw eggs at him. He had limited success in his efforts and eventually the gains he had made were overturned by a democratically controlled congress.

bensonEisenhower appointed Benson as the leader of the secret “Eisenhower Ten” – a group that would run the country in the event of a national catastrophe. Eisenhower eventually distanced himself from Benson when trying to help Nixon get elected. At one point, McKay privately told Eisenhower that if Benson became enough of liability, he (McKay) would extend a calling to Benson to take him out of Washington D.C.

Benson was considered by some to be the most controversial member of Eisenhower’s cabinet, and by others – the most influential. Near the end of his term, his role expanded beyond that of agriculture, and he became a voice on the ideological right of the political spectrum. Continue reading “Ezra Taft Benson chronology: Secretary of Agriculture” »

Ezra Taft Benson chronology: Early life, call to Apostleship & WWII Relief Mission

This year’s Relief Society/Priesthood manual (2015) covers the teachings of Ezra Taft Benson. In conjunction with this topic, I’ve assembled a lengthy chronology of the life of Ezra Taft Benson — a driven man who lived a very dynamic and interesting life.Ezra Taft Benson

Because of the length of the chronology, I’ve separated it into several smaller chronologies covering specific segments of his life, and will post them separately.

This segment (August 4, 1899 – April 10, 1952) covers his early life, rise to international farm cooperative leadership, call to the apostleship, his relief mission to post-WWII Europe, and service in the Quorum of the Twelve just before he is called as Secretary of State.  Also included are major issues dealt with by the Council of Twelve while Benson was in that quorum. Continue reading “Ezra Taft Benson chronology: Early life, call to Apostleship & WWII Relief Mission” »

JWHA Conference Call for Papers

Do you love church history? Visit the annual John Whitmer Historical Association meeting at Independence, Missouri, September 24–27, 2015. Listen to presentations and discuss historical events with knowledgeable authors like Erin Metcalfe, Newell Bringhurst, Joseph Johnstun, and many more.  Even better, propose your own paper and present your research on a topic pertinent to the Restoration. The proposal deadline is April 1, 2015. Directions for submission can be found here: http://www.jwha.info/conf. We would love to see you there!

This Forgotten Restoration Will Sound Amazingly Familiar—Except for the Female Prophets

The Banazova Plateau, site of the New Jerusalem

The Banazova Plateau, site of the New Jerusalem

The prophet drew opinions the way a sweaty horse draws flies. Some reverenced him as God’s sainted mouthpiece, while others called him heretic, madman, and scoundrel. Critics charged that he added to the scriptures, taught a heretical notion of the godhead, and generally had the odor of the devil about him.

Mad he may have been, but people craved his sort of madness. He reintroduced prophetic authority to a Christian world out of touch with apostolic power. Spurned by traditional churches, he established his own and appointed two other prophets to help lead it. Together, the three dictated new scriptures in the divine first person and canonized them alongside the Bible.

Restorers rather than innovators, the Three placed themselves in a line of prophetic succession dating back to New Testament prophets. First in line stood Agabus (Acts 11:28), then Judas and Silas (Acts 15:32), then the daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9). Next came Quadratus and Ammia, whose deaths interrupted the succession. In the revelations to the Three—Montanus, Priscilla, and Maximilla—the line was renewed. And yes: like Philip’s daughters before them, Priscilla and Maximilla were female. Even the eunuch Montanus lacked a certain male quality.

Continue reading “This Forgotten Restoration Will Sound Amazingly Familiar—Except for the Female Prophets” »

Denver Snuffer and an Emerging Mormon Mysticism

Tim Malone

Tim Malone

Tim Malone was a long-time member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A Latter-day Saint who served as a member of the Stake High Council, went on a mission, and was married in the Temple. From all outward appearances it seemed as if Tim was a typical Mormon who attended Church, respected Church leadership, and made an effort to live a Christ-centered life.

In September of 2014 Tim resigned from the LDS Church.

Continue reading “Denver Snuffer and an Emerging Mormon Mysticism” »

Council of Fifty: A Documentary History

Council of Fifty: A Documentary History, Jedediah S. Rogers, editor, Signature Books (2014), Kindle & Hardback, 480 pages.

Council of Fifty: A Documentary History, editor: Jed Rogers

Jed Rogers and the team at Signature Books have produced an important, quality volume that includes all available and relevant documents about the ellusive, but key ‘Council of Fifty’.

Continue reading “Council of Fifty: A Documentary History” »

Documents, Volume 3 of the Joseph Smith Papers released

I had the good fortune to attend a media event with members of the Joseph Smith Papers (JSP) team on Dec 1st for a couple of exciting announcements and updates.

A major web “refresh” was just released for the JSP website, and the 3rdDocuments” volume covering February 1833 to March 1834 has been released. We had a chance to hear from four members of the team.

City of Zion plat

Included in Documents, vol 3 are plans for the City of Zion, Jackson County Missouri – including 24 central temples between Jerusalem, Zion, Bethlehem and Kirtland Streets.

Continue reading “Documents, Volume 3 of the Joseph Smith Papers released” »

Miller Eccles Study Group – Texas Edition: The Mundane and the Sublime in Mormon Art

Michelangelo, Pieta

Michelangelo, Pieta

[A]ll good things…come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy. – Norman Maclean[1]

This last Sunday, the teacher in Elders Quorum relayed some experiences he’d had building temples for the Church. He explained that temple construction was just like any other construction project with deadlines, stresses, idiotic bosses, setbacks, etc. He noted that this had at times challenged his faith and even tainted his temple experience. In his mind, the temple is the House of the Lord. Isn’t it supposed to be above all the trappings of this telestial world?

Continue reading “Miller Eccles Study Group – Texas Edition: The Mundane and the Sublime in Mormon Art” »

2015 Summer Seminar: “Organizing the Kingdom: Priesthood, Church Government, and the Forms of LDS Worship”

The Maxwell Institute will be sponsoring another summer seminar for graduate students, CES educators, and other qualified individuals on the BYU campus in Provo, UT, from June 14 to July 23. Participants will study LDS ecclesiology, focusing on the origin and development of church organization, the evolution of public worship services and practices, and related topics along with the underlying theology. The iteration will be conducted by Terryl Givens.

For further information, including funding and applications, see the PDF attachments below. Be sure to apply if interested!



The Polygamy Revelations of Joseph Smith

The recent gospel topics essays by the church on plural marriage provide an unprecedented, frank look at a number of aspects of plural marriage previously not included in church discourse. With an announcement in the Church News, a letter to church leadership and plans to include the essays in some curricula, attention will turn to the topic of polygamy.[1]

Emma and Joseph at the organization of the Relief Society

The essay “Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo” discusses the introduction of plural marriage by Joseph Smith, noting that his close associates said he received the revelation around 1831 and that “the revelation on plural marriage was not written down until 1843.”[2] On July 12, 1843, Hyrum Smith asked Joseph Smith to provide a revelation to help convince Emma Smith to accept polygamy. Joseph said he knew the revelation by heart and did not need to use the Urim and Thummim, and dictated the “revelation on marriage” (as it’s referred to in the essay) published in the LDS Doctrine and Convents, Section 132 (which I’ll refer to as D&C 132).

The first revelation on polygamy has been traditionally dated to 1831. In 1935, Church Historian and Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

“The exact date I cannot give you when this principle of plural marriage was first revealed to Joseph Smith, but I do know that there was a revelation given in July 1831, in the presence of Oliver Cowdery, W.W. Phelps and others in Missouri, in which the Lord made this principle known through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Whether the revelation as it appears in the Doctrine and Covenants [w]as first given July 12, 1843, or earlier, I care not. It is a fact, nevertheless, that this principle was revealed at an earlier date[3]

A reading of the 1843 revelation indicates that some aspects of it had to do with events current to 1843.[4] This raises the question of how much of the revelation came from 1831, how much was given in 1843, and if there were other sources between those dates. There are a number of references to revelations by Joseph Smith having to do with polygamy in addition to the 1831 and 1843 revelations – some of which may have informed Joseph Smith as he dictated 1843 revelation “from memory”.

In this article, I’ll look at revelations through Joseph Smith regarding polygamy. I’ll review evidence for the 1831 revelation as well as look at ten other potential revelations in addition to D&C 132 received by Joseph Smith about polygamy. I will list only those mentioned in sources before Joseph Smith’s death in 1844 – avoiding recollections occurring decades after the fact.[5]

Continue reading “The Polygamy Revelations of Joseph Smith” »