Images of the Restoration

Images of the Restoration is a really interesting blog site for those interested in Mormon history. Currently, the site includes 10 drawings that represent different aspects of the foundational history of the LDS Church with documented historical accounts accompanying each image. Some of the topics included are Oliver Cowdery’s gift of using a divining rod, Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon, the nine First Vision accounts, and the final hours at Carthage Jail (pictured below).

The creators of the site explain,

“Many interesting and informative events in the development of Mormonism have never been depicted in visual art, and remain concealed in big, dry history books. This site represents an attempt to bring some of these events to light. Hopefully, after viewing these images, those history books won’t seem so big or dry anymore.

“Many other important facts and events in the development of Mormonism have appeared in Mormon art, but some have been depicted in ways that are materially inaccurate and misleading. This is a place to find Mormon art that is as true as possible to the historical record.”

Consequently, the depiction of the Prophet and his friends in Carthage Jail is unlike anything we might find in any official LDS portrayal of the event. The description of the image given at Images of the Restoration begins:

“Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered in a gunfight in the late afternoon of June 27, 1844. This drawing depicts the hours immediately before that gunfight, which Joseph, Hyrum, John Taylor, and Willard Richards spent smoking, drinking, and singing to lighten their mood.”

This description is followed by several supportive quotes from History of the Church and one from William Clayton’s Journal.

Carthage Jail

As might be anticipated, many Mormons do not like the Images of the Restoration site. Here are a few comments as reported in a February 2008 Beliefnet News article:

  • “Kim Farah, a spokeswoman at church headquarters in Salt Lake City, expressed ‘zero interest’ in commenting on the ‘anti-Mormon’ blog.”
  • “William R. Stringham, a Mormon bishop in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, said trying to understand Mormon doctrine through the ‘anti-Mormon activists who are parading as historians’ would be like trying to understand Judaism through the writings of Adolf Hitler.”
  • “Scott Gordon, president of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR), an independent Mormon apologetics group, said the issues portrayed on the blog are ‘favorites that are brought up and highlighted by antagonists of the LDS Church.'”

Interesting comments, especially in light of the fact that the “anti-Mormon activists” and “antagonists” who created the images and the blog site are Latter-day Saints.

This raises the question: What, exactly, constitutes being “anti-Mormon”? It seems that here, among these LDS people quoted, “anti-Mormon” is synonymous with a truthful presentation of LDS history. Which, for me, raises yet another question.

A new LDS Church History Library is currently under construction in downtown Salt Lake City. Speaking of the extensive collection of documents that will be housed in the Library, Church historian and member of the Seventy Marlin K. Jensen said,

” These documents are the crown jewels of Mormonism. The truthfulness of Mormonism is inextricably tied to its history, and it is in our best interest to preserve these records and make them available to those who wish to study the origins of this remarkable faith.”

My question: Will the new Church History Library be “anti-Mormon”? Or will it instead portray a perhaps inaccurate but faith-promoting view of Mormon history?

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Early Mormonism, Mormon History and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Images of the Restoration

  1. falcon says:

    I was watching the Discovery Health Channel last night. They have this before and after program of people getting cosmetic surgery. I’m more than a little squeamish, but am drawn not only to the “how to” surgical procedures but the make over results. All of the people were happy with their face lifts, chin implants, nose reconstruction, neck tightening and eyebrow shaping. My guess is that the people who get the redos are more interested in their new appearance than their old so I’m guessing all of their old personal pictures around the house get replaced with some fantastic “new” glamour shots. Mormons don’t want to look at the Images of the Restoration pictures. They’re too much like precosmetic surgery photos that most people having undergone face lifts and nose jobs would like to forget.

  2. Rick B says:

    I believe that “Modern” Mormonism is [filtered profanity or slur] and the teachings are [filtered profanity or slur]. The Pictures are backed up with verses showing that these things really did happen. It would be one thing to simply say, JS drank some beer or wine then smoked a pipe or something.

    LDS would say, Show me where that is taught. but the when you show them where it was taught, they say, that was written down wrong, or it was written down by and enemy of the church, or it is not stamped “Offical” by the Church.

    As far as I am concerned the LDS are really blind and blinded by the enemy, no matter how much we show, they always find ways to say it is us who is wrong. If JS and BY were alive today they would not know the LDS Church was really the Church they founded. They would have to start over, but they would be so offence that the LDS church would call them Anti Mormon and false prophets.

    I wonder, does this website have a photo Showing JS shooting 3 people then jumping out the window like the coward he really was? Read History vol 7 it is in their. Rick b

  3. Michael P says:

    That is an interesting site. I rather enjoyed it. It is interesting to see the reactions.

    I wonder if these people quoted above really know the history? The Images of the Restoration site provides links to a fair number of sources, including FAIR and LDS.org.

    It certainly in not [filtered profanity or slur]…

  4. traveler says:

    I can see “singing’ – but drinking and smoking?

    I doubt it…

    I’m not LDS but I really do question this image.

  5. Lautensack says:

    Traveler,
    Two quotes from LDS sources on Joseph Smith and his drinking in Carthage Jail.

    “Before the jailor came in, his boy brought in some water, and said the guard wanted some wine. Joseph gave Dr. Richards two dollars to give the guard; but the guard said one was enough, and would take no more. “The guard immediately sent for a bottle of wine, pipes, and two small papers of tobacco; and one of the guards brought them into the jail soon after the jailor went out. Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, and presented a glass to Joseph, who tasted, as Brother Taylor and the Doctor and the bottle was then given to the guard, who turned to go out.”
    (History of the Church, Vol. 6, page 616)

    “Sometime after dinner we sent for some wine. It has been reported by some that this was taken as a sacrament. It was no such thing; our spirits were generally dull and heavy, and it was sent for to revive us…. I believe we all drank of the wine, and gave some to one or two of the prison guards.”
    (John Taylor, in History of the Church, Vol. 7, page 101)

    Lautensack

  6. Rick B says:

    traveler,
    if your ever unsure as to if the LDS prophets or people ever did or said things, you can be sure some one on this blog has the books to support our claims.

    I know on my blog I have been accused of lying, LDS claim certain quotes were quoted out of context or I made it up. So I scanned the actual copy onto my blog for LDS to see, I was never accused after I started doing that. Rick b

  7. iamse7en says:

    SHARON!!!

    PLEASE put full RSS subscription back!!! We, RSS lovers, really hate partial RSS feeds. Please put it back! It was one of the reasons why I loved reading this site. It makes a big difference. Please put it back.

  8. iamse7en, I enabled full posts in the RSS feed… happy feed reading!

  9. iamse7en says:

    Thanks Aaron! Appreciate it!

  10. traveler says:

    Thanks Everyone!

    This information has really opened my eyes and, has sadly made me a great deal more dubious regarding all revistionist LDS history.

    This little party makes JS seem far less of a ‘self important prig’ that he’s inadvertantly shown to be in so many of the “faith enhancing” (propaganda) films constantly shown in SLC.

    Why then do so many LDS make the WOW such an significant point of virtue, when even JS didn’t follow it! Beside, from what little I know – it was only meant to be a suggestion, not HOLY WRIT!

  11. eric017 says:

    I would be careful in calling Smith’s final moments a “party”. I think it was a somber occasion, and they knew what was on the horizon. I think they dealt with the stress of the possible end in a way which they were familiar (i.e. alcohol and tobacco to ease the tension) in ways that non-LDS persons often do. What I think this image highlights is the evolution of Mormon thought through time. When the RLDS split with the LDS church before the “Mormon Exodus”, the RLDS retained the WOW as I believe Smith taught it: the WOW as very good advise rather than strict forbidance.

    The following is speculation on my part. When the church got to Utah, Brigham Young wanted and taught self-reliance in every way. They did not want to rely on the “gentiles” in any way for any import. Young sent groups of Mormons to settle different areas of the intermountain west, and through tithing sought to maintain economic autonomy. These “missions” included efforts to grow things like tobacco and grapes to make wine. I’ve never heard of any attempt to grow coffee, but it wouldn’t surprize me if they tried. These anti-WOW failed economically, and it was only then that the WOW became prohibitory mainly because Young did not want to have the church rely on others for imports…especially addictive imports.

  12. traveler says:

    Good Point Eric017,

    I can also understand BY’s desire to encourage self-reliance amongst his followers – after all, they were in the middle of a DESERT – and they felt themselves surrounded by enemies.

    Actually,I find that the other images presented at this particular site to be remarkably UNLIKE the cozy, homey, pastel coloured ‘greeting card’ illustrations that I encountered in SLC.

    They’re quite remarkable, and a bit strange -perhaps if I were more familiar with the early history of the Saints, I could judge them more fairly.

  13. eric017 says:

    I agree they are quite strange, but from my perspective no more so than the feeling I had when I went through the LDS endowment for the first time. I’ve not really studied at all the images, but the ones I have seem accurate. My favorite is of the ‘First Vision(s)’. I also agree that they contrast well the official images one might see in SLC. I’m not sure how much good they will do, as most TBMs will hit the back button on the internet browser faster than you can say “not faith promoting”. Using the First Vision(s) example, I guess if one Mormon stops down long enough to realize that there are people who recorded different versions of this most seminal event in Mormonism, that these versions clearly contradict each other, and that they were recorded by Smith’s family members (Lucy Mack – his mother) and 19th century Mormons rather than some modern [filtered profanity or slur] hack, they serve a purpose. Critics of the church need not make up ‘lies’, we simply need to hold fast to truth and hold the church accountable to the things they themselves wrote about in the past.

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