EVENING WITH AN EDITOR

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We are pleased to announce an event for Natural Born Seer: Joseph Smith, American Prophet, 1805-1830 (published by the Smith-Pettit Foundation, distributed by Signature Books) on Wednesday, December 7. The author, Richard S. Van Wagoner, unfortunately passed away unexpectedly in 2010. Luckily, he had finished his manuscript as well as two rounds of editing so the book needed only “minimal work” to prepare it for publication. In his stead, we will hear from Gary Bergera, managing director at the Smith-Pettit Foundation, who prepared the book for publication. He will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and will speak at 6:00 and will answer questions and sign books (if desired) before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make it that night but, if not, we can mail a copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

As prize-winning historian Richard S. Van Wagoner narrates the first twenty-five years of Smith’s life, the young seer struggled with his family through a series of roller-­coaster hardships, eventually securing work as a scryer of lost treasure and money digger. In the wake of successive failures, including run-ins with the law, Smith’s glass-­looking activities gave way to more religiously oriented pursuits, especially after a heavenly messenger showed him the location of buried golden plates containing a pre-Columbian story of the Americas and charged him with the record’s decipherment and publication.

Smith also learned, following another extraordinary vision, that his sins had been remitted, that humanity was in a state of apostasy, and that Jesus would soon return to the earth. After eloping with Emma Hale, much to her skeptical father’s chagrin, the couple settled down to complete work on what would appear for sale in early 1830 as the Book of Mormon. By this time, Smith had begun to shoulder more fully the prophet’s mantle, issuing proclamations in God’s own voice, and on April 6, 1830, organized the Church of Christ, known today as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I treat the early years of the Mormon prophet as I would approach an archaeological dig,” Van Wagoner explains. “The deepest levels, those deposited first and least contaminated by subsequent accumulates, are of primary interest in my pursuit of the historical Joseph. Mindful of the prophet’s controversial reputation, I try to remain sensitive to the impact that some of the more problematic elements of his behavior may have on believers. But truth is often best evidenced in the detail.”

This is the second installment to be released in a three-volume biography of Joseph Smith. The first volume—Glorious in Persecution: Joseph Smith, American Prophet, 1839-1844 (written by Martha Bradley-Evans)—was published earlier this year. The final volume, dealing with the Ohio/Missouri period, is currently being written by Dan Vogel.

 

Natural Born Seer: Joseph Smith, American Prophet, 1805-1830 by Richard S. Van Wagoner.  Smith-Pettit Foundation (distributed by Signature Books), 2016. 589pp. Hardback. $34.95

 

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