FAIR Podcast, Episode 3: Richard L. Bushman p.1

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Richard Lyman Bushman is an award-winning American historian, currently serving as the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor in Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University and Gouverneur Morris Professor of History emeritus at Columbia University. He is also a general editor of the ongoing Joseph Smith Papers project. Bushman sat down with host Blair Hodges for an extended two-part interview. Part one discusses Bushman’s biography of Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling. We discuss polygamy, seer stones, gold plates, and other Joseph Smith-related questions.




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Questions about this episode and ideas for future episodes can be added to the comments section here, or emailed to “[email protected]

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16 thoughts on “FAIR Podcast, Episode 3: Richard L. Bushman p.1

  1. iamse7en

    Since the podcast started to appear in iTunes, I’ve decided to listen in. I’ve only finished the first episode, so I probably shouldn’t offer my thoughts until I’ve listened to all 3! BUT…

    1) Consider changing the name of each episode. You start off each name with “FAIR Podcast, Episode #” – this is quite redundant. We know it’s the FAIR Podcast – that’s the podcast title, and so when you view the episode on your iDevice, or in iTunes, the name is longer than it needs to be so the pertinent information is cut off (e.g. the person you’re interviewing) – this is why most podcasts just name their episodes like “1: Gregory L. Smith” or “2: Terryl L. Givens”

    2) You may have fixed this, and I’m sure you heard it a million times after the first episode, but sound quality is poor. Random noises and static every once in awhile, and overall, quite poor. Sorry if you’ve heard this a million times and/or you’ve fixed it.

    3) Content, after listening to the first episode, I really enjoyed it, but personally, I would have liked to hear you and Greg go into more detail about polygamy – e.g. tackle some of the specific criticisms – I know you have limited time, and I know there are plenty of resources for us to check out on our own – but many of us have limited time and only find time for these types of things on the way home from work – which is why this content being within the podcast would have been useful and entertaining as well.

    Take my thoughts with a grain of salt – we all have different opinions!


    P.S. I’m very excited about the future of this podcast – I have a big void in the LDS Podcast front. Mormon Stories is usually too fringe/critical for me, Mormon Miscellaneous has some fabulous episodes, but many of them can get very boring, redundant, and irritating quite fast. Looking forward to future episodes… Thanks for taking the time to do these!

  2. Hunter

    Looking forward to listening to this. When did the interview take place, by the way?

    I should say that I really enjoyed the Terryl Givens interview. So, thanks for these.

  3. bhodges Post author

    Thanks for the constructive feedback, se7en.

    1) I recognize the name problem, but since we post the podcasts on the blog, and since iTunes pulls the name from the blog post title, it is inevitable from what I understand.

    2) You’ll notice the sound quality will improve as the episodes progress. The Bushman interview still has some issues, so after mixing it I purchased a nice (expensive!) microphone to use in the future. I have some great interviews coming up so I wanted to improve the sound as much as possible, I regret the poor quality early on but I’ve listened to worse!

    3) As for content, I’m largely responsible for it, given that I write the questions and conduct the interviews. The poor interviewees are responding to the topics I raise, so you’ll have to take it for what it’s worth. Fortunately the people I have interviewed so far have been very professional and knowledgeable, so that takes the burden off a bit.

    If you have more suggestions about specific topics that could be addressed in the future, or people you would like to hear interviewed, let me know. I’d really appreciate the advice. Send it to [email protected].

  4. bhodges Post author

    Hunter, if you look at the actual name of the mp3 file you’ll see the date on the end. For instance, the Bushman track has “07312010” on the end, indicating it was recorded on July 31, 2010.

  5. ricke

    Blair, thanks for making these available. I have enjoyed and appreciated all the work you have been doing, particularly in the last year or so. Good work!

  6. iamse7en

    I’m all caught up!

    These episodes have been fascinating! Hodges, really good and pointed questions. They cover so many issues and so many spectrums. I really love the content so far. By the way, you have a great radio voice!

    I hope you can do more episodes more often – these have been better than I anticipated. Great job so far!!

  7. Jake

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I loved the idea of getting problems out in the open, great stuff.

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  9. Jeremy

    Great interview. I’ve got to read Rough Stone Rolling again. There are so many issues to put on the shelf. Richard speaks so nonchalantly about Joseph’s many polygamous marriages (i.e. “Well, I think he did have sexual relations. I think there was no barrier to having sexual relations once he was married to them.”) I agree with Richard that it isn’t a small problem. I am still trying to get my head around this issue and what it would seem to imply. Dynastic marriages, polyandry, underage marriages, etc. are so foreign to modern Mormons. Most Mormons are probably not even aware of Joseph’s strange marital arrangements. Scholars like Richard can speculate, but I don’t think we’ll ever really fully understand many of these things.

    The use of the seer stone in the translation of the Book of Mormon is another interesting issue. I agree with Richard that it’s time to get rid of those pictures of Joseph translating the Golden Plates. If the historical record doesn’t support this view of how the translation process occurred, why does the Church continue to teach us that it happened that way? I believe that the time has come for the Church to be completely open about these things even if they are strange and raise more questions than they answer.

  10. BHodges

    Thanks Jeremy. As you imply, no official LDS art depicts the stone-in-hat method. Various versions show separating curtains, the plates in open view to scribes, Joseph reading the plates like a book, and other possible anomalies compared to various witness statements. It isn’t clear to me whether artists who have tried to depict the translation were aware of the stone-in-hat method, nor am I sure it is part of any deliberate attempt to obscure the manner of translation. Several LDS leaders have mentioned the stone and hat in official Church publications, however, including B.H. Roberts and Russell M. Nelson. See here for more:


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