Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Re-Structuring Musings

A set of ideas and considerations from today's working on the Kirtland interplay of United Firm and Consecration and Stewardship.

  1. If there is a single primary reconstructive source to a chapter, it is fine to use the structure of that chapter. The United Firm chapter is patterned on Max Parkin's 2007 BYU essay and provides the basic framework.
  2. If there are multiple interpretative frameworks, such as Cook's Consecration book and Scott Partridge on Bishop Partridge, then a strict chronological framework is necessary, just to keep the pieces sorted out.
  3. Though there are four basic phases to early Mormon history, based on the geographical "center" of operations---New York, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois---the dissertation cannot handle more than three in terms of its size. Missouri is a logical one to axe, as the destruction of sources makes it difficult to consider, and the time that JSJr spent in Missouri was short anyway (and a good chunk of that in jail to boot). But this raises problem for understanding the development of consecration there, and the shifts in city planning.
  4. The idea of combining individual biographies of key advisors with the individual case studies falls apart due to the rapid increase of the size of advisors. If the division of the parts into the locales were adhered to, then the division could be at the level of the parts. The biggest problem is the Kirtland area, which all of a sudden requires Partridge, Whitney, Williams, Johnson, Phelps, and so on and so forth, all of the members of the United Firm and the presidency, both in Kirtland and in Missouri.
  5. It is very easy to lose the red thread through the reconstructions, if the argument that is being made is not fronted appropriately. This is especially important, where a plurality of interpretations requires recourse to the chronological framework anyway.
  6. The reconstruction should be driven by the primary sources wherever possible, that is, the revelations and the diary entries or the letters, whichever.  This is especially important if we wish to trace shifts.
  7. Joseph Smith Jr only acquired the task of heading an economy with the move to Ohio. In New York, everyone was settled and responsible for their own stuff. Once the "March toward Zion" was set in motion, it became the role of the church leadership to resolve the issues arising.
The solution taken, BTW, was to go on with the Kirtland Anti-Banking Society instead ... :P

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