Monday, October 3, 2011

When Prophets Speak……

Many Anti-Mormons find great joy in pointing out the differences between the accounts given by Joseph Smith of the First Vision.  In the earlier versions Joseph failed to mention that he had seen God and Jesus, but in later accounts he adds this important detail.  This however should not cause suspicion amongst faithful latter-day saints for we know that even our current living prophet Thomas S. Monson does similarly with the stories he tells, adding line upon line, detail upon detail for our own good and understanding.  One could say that this is a trademark of a true prophet of the Lord. 

Along these lines let’s take for example a faith promoting story told by Thomas S. Monson.  In 1969 during a *general conference address Monson spoke of that fateful “eighth day of May in 1942 when the mammoth aircraft carrier Lexington slipped to its final resting place on the ocean floor….. One who went down with his ship was my boyhood friend, Arthur Patton.”

In the 2007 general conference Monson tells the rest of this faith promoting **story wherein he states that “In March 1944, with the war now raging, Arthur was transferred from the USS Dorsey, a destroyer, to the USS White Plains, an aircraft carrier. While at Saipan in the South Pacific, the ship was attacked. Arthur was one of those on board who was lost at sea.”

Much like the case with Joseph’s First Vision critics may point out inconsistencies between the accounts.  In this case they will say that in the first account Arthur died in 1942 on a ship named Lexington and in the second he died in 1944 when the ship named the USS White Plains was attacked.  They may also point out that according to Wikipedia ***"the White Plains herself suffered NO enemy attacks."

Critics who look for such inconsistencies fail to see the whole point of the story which can be best explained by looking at the website of the Church owned advertising company Bonneville Communications.  The people at Bonneville know that by creating feelings in people (helping them to feel the spirit and perhaps even shed tears as I did in 2007 when I heard President Monson’s address) they can get people to emotionally connect to their message and act accordingly.  On their website it says ****“Our unique strength is the ability to touch the hearts and minds of our audiences, evoking first feeling, then thought and, finally, action. We call this uniquely powerful brand of creative "HeartSell"® - strategic emotional advertising that stimulates response.”

All true prophets from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson and I would even include myself and several other talented Church leaders use this "HeartSell"® method without even knowing it.  It is an approved method for getting people to live in accordance with the teachings of the Lord and is used only for the righteous purpose of bringing people unto the truth.

So next time a critic brings up insignificant inconsistencies in the stories of our prophets you can explain to them that while the stories themselves may ‘seem’ to be lacking in accuracy it is the emotional impact on the members that is important.  When seen in the proper perspective and with the assistance of the spirit, the truths of these stories will touch our hearts and lead us onto the path towards eternal life and exaltation. 

Please keep this in mind as you feast upon the talks and wonderful faith promoting stories that we have just been privileged to receive at this the 181st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Humbly yours,
President Paternoster     


AngelCowgirl said...

Thank you SO MUCH for clearing this up for me, President. This totally explains the whole Paul H. Dunn scandal!

Karin said...

So what you're saying is that this Arthur Patton guy might still be alive...or maybe he's just a figment of Monson's imagination?

Ibowedmyheadandsaidyes said...

I can only add that we need to use care when applying this "Heartsell", afterall...look where it led Mark Hofmann. He tried it, and ended up folding laundry at the Point. May we use care in employing the sacred version of Heartsell.

In the sacred and holy name of, Even Christmas Eve, amen.

Linda Zelphandecker said...

I was touched by President Monson's speech at Conference this past Sunday when he told the story of how the Lord answered his prayer by saving his five dollar bill from the laundry. I wonder if he was using the Heartsell® method there.

Insana D said...

Storytelling is a fine art and facts or verifiable details really shouldn't be required in the mix. I find that when I'm regaling an audience with a story it's best to use whatever skills and exaggerations I have in my creative imagination to keep the audience engaged. I would expect nothing less from a true Prophet of the Lord.

We have many examples of this sort of inconsistency but expedient for the moment or situation storytelling in our own beloved scriptures. Sure the whole creation story about the beginnings of earth and humanity don't add up in the slightest, and in various re-telling many of the details are skewed, but that's not the point.

The point is to entertain, to teach a principle for that moment, and to alter the story to fit the message.

Even Beloved Joseph Smith was talented in these skills and set the bar high for subsequent story tellers and prophets.

I hope to emulate our dear Prophets, seers, and revelators by keeping my stories current to the moment, my characters sympathetic and timely, and my audience emotionally engaged so that they don't feel burdened with the tedium of fact or authentic detail. Afterall, most of of those who enjoy story hour are children, emotionally and intellectually. As it should be.

Molly Smith said...

Oh, president...but you know as well as I do that it doesn't matter if some little detail doesn't match up! That was President Monson simply speaking as a man! Who are we to expect more then that from a simple servant of God?

Time and time again our leaders have stressed that what you FEEL is more important then anything else...and that is why I KNOW the church is true! Any time I doubt that, in any way, I pray until I feel good again, and I KNOW Heavenly Father just told me what was right.

Emma Snyde said...

President, I too am unsettled by people who insist that Joseph Smith's evolving first vision story is proof that he fabricated the whole thing. I mean anyone, yea even the unrighteous, can memorize a speech and deliver it word for word every time.

Whenever prophets change these little details it is just proof of their connection to God, and Bonneville International. Our inspired leaders are prompted by the Spirit to tailor their messages so that their audience will be able to receive it by the Spirit and all will be enlightened. Who knows? Perhaps some who were touched by the story of Arthur perishing on the Lexington needed that refrence and for others, the fact that he "perished" on the White Plains caused their hearts to burn within them.

Thanks for bringing up this important subject.

kolobian said...

Blessed be the name of our beloved President Paternoster. Surely the lord has raised him up in these latter days to neutralize the attacks of the adversary and remove the mists of darkness that cloud our vision on our journey to the tree of life!

As my mother taught me when I was a young child, it is the very fact that Joseph Smith's accounts of the first vision contradict each other that proves he is a prophet of god! She never explained why, but President Paternoster has now revaled this simple truth to me. I am forever grateful.

It is my understanding that Adolf Hitler was taught 4/6 discussions by LDS missionaries before he went to prison. Surely he discovered their HeartSell method which is why he utilized it so well during his reign as the reich fuhrer. If gambling weren't a grievous sin I would bet my right arm that Hitler's followers couldn't remember a single thing Hitler ever said, but they sure did feel emotion and took action.

Isn't it marvelous? Isn't it wonderful? In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Cindy said...

This post is such an important one. Thank-you president for addressing this issue so well. Too often people "look beyond the mark" that they end up missing it all together. When we start to analyze and over-analyze things we start to miss out on important messages the Lord would have for us.

Maybe when President Monson first told the story he got some of the details wrong because he just forgot. Maybe when that mother wrote him, which lead to his other talk, she corrected him on the details hence the reason for the change. I don't know but it really doesn't matter. The details of that story were not the focus, it was the message that was important.

As for JS all we have to go on are old documents. There are a lot of things that don't make sense and a lot of things that do make sense. Each person needs to decide for themselves whether they will focus on the things that bring them happiness and peace or the things that create discomfort and discord.

Anonymous said...

Consider me HeartSold.

Indeed, as long as the Lord is glorified, the means are all justified. As long as faith is upheld and sustained in the rank and file's all good.

Anonymous said...


Let's look at this story another way....actually both stories are true! Yes, one knew that Arthur was a special ops diver (this little detail was not added by our dear president)....the ship went down but Arthur survived by sheer determination and underwater diving skills....Arthur was re-engaged on another ship and voila....he went down again. Therefore it must all be true. Pres. Monson need not apologize....I did it for him.

Anonymous said...

So as long as it feels good its ok..


now a lie is just as good as the truth if it works.. Situational religion perfect

Thanks for confirming that.

Mahonri Kimball said...

President Paternoster;
I hesitate to disagree with you, as I know that your priesthood is greater than mine. However, the spirit directs me to point out that President Monson did not actually say that Arthur went down on the Lexington. It is clear to me as I read his address (with a believing attitude) that he is speaking of two different events here.

He first speaks about the sinking of the Lexington. Then, afterward, he speaks about Arthur. Nothing in the sentence about Arthur says anything about the Lexington, or the actual date of Arthur's demise.

Here is the pertinent passage.

"My thoughts turned to the events of that fateful eighth day of May in 1942 when the mammoth aircraft carrier Lexington slipped to its final resting place on the ocean floor. Twenty-seven hundred and thirty-five sailors scrambled to safety. Others were not so fortunate. One who went down with his ship was my boyhood friend, Arthur Patton."


"Then came the Battle of the Coral Sea, the sinking of the Lexington, and the death of Arthur Patton."

There is no contradiction here. Arthur's death in 1944 was after the sinking of the Lexington in 1942. Just because he spoke of both events in the same talk doesn't mean they are the same event! His recent talk merely gives more detail about Arthur's ship and the date of his death.

As you do point out correctly, this is analogous to Joseph's clarifications made in subsequent descriptions of the First Vision.

When the prophet speaks it is the same as God speaking directly to us. God does not forget the details of anyone's death.

Nohead said...


Thank you so much for your enlighting words.

D-Train said...

President Paternoster, while reading your inspired words, the Lord impressed upon my mind that Arthur Patton is indeed one of the three Nephites.

Kathleen said...

As we move closer to the Savior, we begin to appreciate and better utilize his teaching style. Who has not benefited from a parable? And we find not one apostle asking where the vineyard was located, or the name of the contractor who built his house upon sand. Those first century Christians realized the message was what was important. They were as little children, as their Lord told them they should be, and we expect nothing less from you Latter Day Saints. No faithful member should be troubling the apostles with questions regarding that which the Holy Spirit can better answer in the privacy of that member's bedroom. No faithful member should be investigating the truthfulness of faith-promoting stories. It is not necessary for salvation; it is not helpful. Even unto worlds without end. Amen.

Anonymous said...

The spirit impresses upon me that brother Monson simply used this story as a teaching opportunity.

Why else would he bestow upon the hero of his story the same last name as one of WW II greatest generals - even that of PATTON. Or in other words, Old Blood and Guts.

Such edifying stories are in the similitude of one of our GAs rebuking Mick Jagger on an airplane ( probably Southwest) for his immorality, and Paul Dunn experiencing the fictitious death of a comrade he held in his arms.

Of course, all such uplifting tales are surpassed by the wonderful stories found in the Book of Mormon which, until recently, taught us that Hebrews peopled the American continent.

It appears they detoured through Mongolia on their arduous journey to the Americas, during which time God changed their DNA in order to test the faith of His followers in modern times.

And thus we see that God inspires his servants to edify church members with continuing stories that spur them on to greater faith and Obedience and the paying of tithes on gross income.

It is my testimony that this is the mind of the Lord, the will of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.

Leah, a faithful daughter of God.

Anonymous said...

So are you saying that it is OK if the prophet forgets facts? Or even worse makes facts up as her goes?

I am not so sure that God would think this is right.

I realize you are a stake president and all, but you seem a little facetious.

I am sorry president. I do not mean to be rude, but are you being serious?

My testimony eas shaken a little bit after reading your post. I really feel that you may not have written your post with the spirit of the Lord at your side.

I do not presume to know better, but my dad was a bishop and I do understand the power of inspiration.

Please be more gentle when describing our one true prophet, Thomas S. Monson. He is older and may have a little trouble remembering.

That does not make his talk less true.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Anonymous said...

I already TOLD Monson a million times not to exaggerate!


Emma said...

Anonymous, You need not worry. You have the message and moral of this post exactly right.

You said, "He (Thomas S. Monson) is older and may have a little trouble remembering." Who is directing our beloved prophet's message at general conference? Yes, even God himself through the Holy Ghost who will bring all things unto our remembrance. Dear president Monson remembers things just as the Spirit dictates for the good and learning of the saints. Y

You also said "that does not make his talk less true." To that I add, Amen and Amen.

Bishop Smegma said...

I wish to sustain President Paternoster in his calling: the church is great and true, as is its humble servant, Brother Paternoster.

Spencer said...

I say why get all hot and bothered over some "tiny flecks of our history," as President Gordo B. Kinckey once put it.

If a prophet forgets anything, it's obviously a fleck not worth remembering, and I suggest we follow their example.

Sister Abbot said...

I think we should be kinder to our prophet. 'Do as you would be done by' is my personal motto. I'm sure he just got a little bit confused. He is quite old now, after all.

Maybe next time I get my temple recommend you can explain this first vision issue to me, President? I've never heard of the different versions before and, if I'm honest, it has made me feel a little uncomfortable. I'm sure there's nothing for me to worry about, but if you don't mind explaining it to me, I'd be very grateful.

Anonymous said...

Only God would need to protect his voice with trademarks, right?

Matt said...

As a humble follower of Jesus Christ, I have been touched by your words.

I think we must understand that there is a difference between "history" and "truth". Why teach the correct history if it doesn't help bring us closer to the spirit of God so that we can someday have our bodies restored again and enter into the celestial kingdom? I want to build planets, and, in the end, that's all that matters.

Anonymous said...

I searched on, for an Arthur Patton who died about 1944. The only hits were a few men who had been born in the 1880s or so, none of them from Utah.

Searching for an Arthur Patton born in Utah about 1927 also yields no good results. It does give me Arthur Pattons from other years, but not anyone with a death date that matches up.

If he was LDS, chances of him being in the database, are very very high. So perhaps he wasn't LDS, or the name is incorrect. What was the point of the story>

Anonymous said...

Also, there is no Thomas Patton in the SLC census return for 1930, and none that live close enough to SLC to be a childhood friend. However, perhaps Thomas Patton moved there after 1930.

Nephi H said...

My goodness. Thou shalt not lie... Unless you are trying to get faithful servants to follow un to me. Not quite!!

I ust had to read this ugly douchebag's profile to confirm it was written by an idiot!!! Favourite Books: Mormon handbooks and MLM strategy builders! Geez thank God for showing me the light...

...The Good Looking inactive Mormon Nephi!!! PS. God Opened the windows of heaven when I actually started obeying his commands and not Mormon fantasy!

PPS. Thank you Lord for maintaining my good looks, helping me succeed without Utardian Pyramids, keeping me healthy and understanding the value of TRUTH!! Please also forgive me Lord of my pride, although it's a trait of mine I love.