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In 1823 a young man named Joseph Smith had an encountr with an angel who led him to a cache of golden plates purporting to be the history of the lost tribes of Israel. Out of these new gospels and out of Smith's own charismatic personality and sense of mission- arose an authentically American religion, the Mormon faith.
When award-winning documentary film writer Jane Barnes was working on the PBS Frontline/American Experience special series The Mormons, she was surprised to find herself passionately drawn to Joseph Smith. The product of an Episcopalian, “WASPy” family, she couldn’t remember ever having met a Mormon before her work on the series—much less having dallied with the idea of converting to a religion shrouded in controversy. But so it was: She was smitten with a man who claimed to have translated the word of God by peering into the dark of his hat. In this brilliantly written book, Barnes describes her experiences working on the PBS series as she moved from secular curiosity to the brink of conversion to Mormonism. It all began when she came across Joseph Smith's early writings. She was delighted to discover how funny and utterly unique he was—and how widely divergent his wild yet profound visions of God were from the Church of Latter-day Saints as we know it today. Her fascination deepened when, much to her surprise, she learned that her eighth cousin Anna Barnes converted to Mormonism in 1833. Through Anna, Barnes follows her family’s close involvement with Smith and the crises caused by his controversial practice of polygamy. Barnes’ unlikely path helps her gain a newfound respect for the innovative American spirit that lies at the heart of Mormonism—and for a religion that is, in many ways, still coming into its own. An intimate portrait of the man behind one of America’s fastest growing religions, Falling in Love with Joseph Smith offers a surprising and provocative window into the Mormon experience.
A definitive biography of the founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints that marks the two hundredth year of his birth chronicles the life of Joseph Smith, from his hardscrabble early life in rural New York, to the visions that inspired The Book of Mormon and the establishment of the Mormon Church, to his untimely death at the hands of a mob in 1844. Reprint. 60,000 first printing.
A troubled childhood. A difficult adolescence. How might these have affected the adult character of church founder Joseph Smith? Psychiatrist Robert D. Anderson explores the impact on young Joseph of his family's ten moves in sixteen years, their dire poverty, especially after his father's Chinese export venture failed, and his father's drinking. It is equally significant, writes Anderson, that Joseph's mother suffered bouts of depression. For instance, "for months" she "did not feel as though life was worth seeking" after two sisters died of tuberculosis and later when she buried two sons, Ephraim and Alvin. A typhoid epidemic nearly claimed her daughter Sophronia, and the same affliction left Joseph with a crippled leg, after which he was sent to live on the coast with an uncle. Such factors and others produced emotional wounds that emerged later in the prophet's life and writings, in particular, according to Anderson, in the Book of Mormon.
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