The case against Mormon censorship

I finally did it. I bought a copy of Richard Bushman's highly acclaimed, slightly controversial, brilliantly written biography of Joseph Smith, "Rough Stone Rolling."

I'm not very far in, but I can already tell that this is my kind of LDS book. It's not the solid prose or unmatched depth of research that sets it apart from so much Mormon writing; it's Bushman's unflinching honesty in portraying a man he regards as a prophet. Indeed, it's his refusal to whitewash history.

Instead, Bushman takes a refreshingly bold approach, which he describes in the book's preface:

"For a character as controversial as Smith, pure objectivity is impossible. What I can do is to look frankly at all sides of Joseph Smith, facing up to his mistakes and flaws."

And why not? No prophet has ever been perfect, and human error doesn't disqualify someone from receiving divine revelation. Most Latter-day Saints know this intellectually, but we still sometimes feel uncomfortable with discussing the shortcomings of revelators.

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