Sunday, January 20, 2008

Haun's Mill

1.) This story from a contemporary of Joseph Smith, Daniel Tyler, makes an interesting metaphor for communication from the Holy Ghost. I've consolidated paragraphs for readability on the web, in contravention of English standards which require that each speaker have his own paragraph.

[begin quote] Everyone has probably heard or read of the terrible massacre at Haun's Mill. Brother Haun owned a grist mill which took his name. From two to four days prior to the massacre, the citizens of the little settlement assembled in a mass meeting and appointed Brother Haun a committee of one to go to the city for advice to know what to do. The whole country was under arms and excitement. The Apostle David W. Patten, with Brothers Gideon Carter and O'Banion, had already sealed their testimony with their blood.

Brother Haun repaired to the city, and as the Prophet was but a private citizen and minister of the gospel, in the legal sense, he first went to Captain John Killian, of the Caldwell County Militia, informed him of his appointment, and inquired what he and his brethren should do. "Move into the city," was the prompt reply. Brother Haun: "What! and leave the mill?" Captain Killian: "Yes, and leave the mill." Brother Haun: "What! to the mob?" Captain Killian: "Yes, to the mob."

Brother Haun then left the Captain and went to Brother Joseph and asked him the same questions, and received the same answers. "But Brother Joseph," responded the mill-owner, "we think we are strong enough to defend the mill and keep it in our own hands." "Oh, well," replied he, "if you think you are strong enough to hold the mill you can do as you think best." What more could he say? The Prophet's method had always been when his counsel was asked to give it freely and leave parties to receive or reject it. He could not, nor would not if he could, take away people's agency.

Brother Haun returned and reported that Brother Joseph's counsel was for them to stay and protect or hold the mill. [end quote]

2.) That makes an interesting counterpoint to one of my favorite Brigham Young quotes, doesn't it? "If I do not know the will of my Father, and what He requires of me in a certain transaction, if I ask Him to give me wisdom concerning any requirement in life, or in regard to my own course, or that of my friends, my family, my children, or those that I preside over, and get no answer from Him, and then do the very best that my judgment will teach me, He is bound to own and honor that transaction, and He will do so to all intents and purposes." [Brigham Young, JoD 3:205] In other words, when you get no answer you must use your judgment, but be very careful not to let your own judgment become your answer.

Food for thought, and all relevant to the Vlad experiment. Current status on that, by the way, is that Vlad is indeed sometimes right; but Dante is often right too, and we mustn't forget that we have two sources of knowledge. D&C 8:2 calls them "mind and... heart." Some things the mind knows but the heart doubts; sometimes, apparently, it's the other way around.


"The presentation or 'gift' of the Holy Ghost simply confers upon a man the right to receive at any time, when he is worthy of it and desires it, the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost, although he may often be left to his own spirit and judgment." --Joseph F. Smith (manual, p. 69)

Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.

No comments: