Monday, November 24, 2014

In Some Ways, I Prefer Our Modern Prophets to Joseph Smith - Even As I Love Joseph

I really do believe that Joseph was a prophet who received revelation from God - and I really do believe he was sincere in believing he was a prophet who received revelation from God. However, I also believe he would be diagnosed and medicated if he lived now - that he wouldn't be accepted in our own day and age as a prophet specifically because we categorize what allowed him to see visions and hear voices as disabilities.

I know that view puts me on the precipice of a very high cliff, since there is a fine line between being able to tap into something extraordinary and wonderful and being off-one's-rocker, certifiably nuts. I understand that, but we strive so hard to eliminate the extremes now that we end up with widespread mediocrity. Yes, we're eliminating the negative extremes, but we also are eliminating the positive extremes - often within the same person.

In saying that, I'm not saying we shouldn't be trying to eliminate the negative extremes. I don't want my mom (and everyone around her) to have to deal with the negative extremes of her schizophrenia. I don't want her to have horrible, vicious hallucinations. I want her to be able to have the benefits of her medication in order to be the spiritual person I knew growing up, even if those medications blunt some of the natural spiritual insights that are the flip-side of her "disability".

I don't see Joseph Smith as schizophrenic - but I do believe he probably had some condition we would diagnose clinically and try to eliminate now. In many ways, that's too bad on an individual basis - but, in other ways, it's good on a group, communal basis. It creates mich more communal, institutional stability - as it stifles the type of individual, personal "out-there-ness" that is the root cause of almost all radical revolution. Make no mistake about it: Joseph Smith was a radical revolutionary in the truest sense of that term. Radical revolutionaries simply must be borderline nuts to have the visions they have, and, given our rejection of radical revolution, we now have stable, inspired guides instead.

All in all, I'll take that - since I don't know how I personally would deal with the incredible chaos, messiness and suffering inherent in radical revolution.


Darrell said...

Would you care to comment or speculate on what "disabilities" Joseph might have had?

Papa D said...

No, Darrell, I don't want to speculate, since I have no expertise in trying to diagnose anyone, much less someone I have not met.