Saturday, October 3, 2009

Remember when General Conference was like a Soap Opera?

In the October session of General Conference in 1866, Brigham Young made these comments:

To my certain knowledge, Emma Smith is one of the damnedest liars I know of on this earth; yet there is no good thing I would refuse to do for her, if she would only be a righteous woman; but she will continue in her wickedness. Not six months before the death of Joseph, he called his wife Emma into a secret council, and there he told her the truth, and called upon her to deny it if she could. He told her that the judgments of God would come upon her forthwith if she did not repent. He told her of the time she undertook to poison him, and he told her that she was a child of hell, and literally the most wicked woman on this earth, that there was not one more wicked than she. He told here where she got the poison, and how she put it in a cup of coffee; said he 'You got that poison from so and so, and I drank it, but you could not kill me.' When it entered his stomach he went to the door and threw it off. he spoke to her in that council in a very severe manner, and she never said one word in reply. I have witnesses of this scene all around, who can testify that I am now telling the truth. Twice she undertook to kill him. [Utah Historical Quarterly, vol. 48, Winter 1980, 82] (emphasis added)

If they had popcorn back then, the congregation was just shoveling it in. Can you imagine if one of the General Authorities spoke like that today?

Indeed, Brother Brigham and Emma had a colorful past. From what I understand, the issue between these two was Emma's adamant denial of Joseph's teaching of plural marriage. Brigham didn't take too kindly to anyone contradicting the Prophet; hence the outrage.

The FAIR Wiki does a great job of discussing their relationship in an article titled "Emma Smith and Brigham Young."


Lou said...

I can hear it now, " you are pregnant with my sister's baby...admit it!!! ...oh wait, that's okay now, sorry"

I don't blame the women at all for initially being a little taken back by the whole plural marriage thing, however, I had never heard the poison story.

We can all take a lesson from the initial quote "...but there is no good thing I would refuse to do for her" It reminds me "..God will forgive whom he will forgive but for us it is required to forgive everyone" (paraphrased)

All I know is that I rock at Conference bingo, bring it on!

Jeremy said...

Lou, you do conference Bingo? I was discussing this with one of the other co-authors of the SeerStone just this weekend. Do you have cards printed? How do you go about it? We were thinking about making our own cards for it.

Nate said...

Jeremy, I know that this is off topic but seriously man, just Google conference bingo. We always do that with our kids, its the only way to keep them paying attention. We mark the spaces with smarties, and they get to eat them when they get a bingo.

I've got to admit though, this is a strange post. I never knew that Emma tried to poison Joseph...twice. Wouldn't that really count as murder? I mean, if I "lusteth" after a woman in my mind, I already did a bad thing. This is probably a little worse than that.

Lou said...

These are our favorite cards. I didn't make them, they were passed out in primary. There are lots of choices.

We get good treats for the kids that they can have when they get bingo. We tried smarties or skittles to cover the square, but if they fall off it it just too much crying and mayhem. Or their little sibling takes candy off the card which doesn't promote reverence. Good luck next time!

linda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lou said...
I'm a dork. Here's the link.

Clark Goble said...

Nate, most historians think Brigham was wrong in these claims. There definitely was tensions at the end though.

Nate said...


I've got to think you're right...I think my feelings toward my wife might be shaken by a little poisoning indecent and I have never seen evidence of Joseph having similar reactions.

On the other hand, it was a much different time period, and I wouldn't blame Emma for being a tad crazy...I'd probably lose it with her trials.


That said, great conference talk. We sure don't get them like that anymore. Although, Holland threw down with some boldness yesterday. It was nice to see.

Aaron said...

From reading Bushman's Rough Stone Rolling, it is obvious Emma suffered a great deal because of the polygamy issue. I can completely understand. Joseph secretly married other women and kept it from her knowledge, then she caved and accepted the doctrine, allowing some of Josephs other wives to move in. But she was never comfortable with the practice. Apparently when Joseph was out of her sight she was a frantic mess - who could blame her? Throw on top of that the living circumstances she had to endure for much of her marriage with Joseph and you can see where the poor lady is coming from.

Anonymous said...

"He told here where she got the poison, and how she put it in a cup of coffee;"

Coffee? tsk tsk. It is well established that Joseph drank coffee & alcohol, and even smoked cigars. I guess thw WOW only applies to the little people, not the Great & Powerful Prophet.

Jeremy said...

Anonymous, the WofW was revealed in 1833 and was just that, a word of wisdom (i.e., good advice). D&C 89:2 clearly states that the revelation was "not by commandment or constraint." It was not until 1921, under the direction of Heber J. Grant, that the WofW became a test of faith.

Joseph Smith may very well have drank coffee or smoked cigars until the day he was killed. In fact, it is reported that one of the staple provisions required by Brigham Young for the trek to Utah was coffee. None of that matters if one truly understand that none of the Lord's commandments are temporal commandments, but instead all are spiritual (D&C 29:34). The WofW must be viewed in that light and less in the light of pharisaical rites and rules.