Thursday, April 5, 2007


Current mood: excited

OK, so first to update on my letter to the editor, it was published in the Record-Courier today. Yesterday I got an e-mail from Roger Di Paulo basically thanking me for the support and explaining why he writes historical columns. Here is the text of that e-mail for those interested:

Mr. Ridinger:

Your letter, with the correction you noted, will appear in
Thursday's R-C.

Thanks for your support. I walked a very fine line when
writing this column (especially given the fact that
descendants of some of the members of the lynch mob are
very much alive and among my readership) and did my best to
put the incident into an historical perspective. I have no
problem when my work is criticized, but I thought the
letter writer's remark casting asperions on Joseph Smith's
revelations was especially offensive.

I learn something every time I write a history piece, and
in this case, I think what I most appreciated is that many
people are not fully aware of the importance of Portage
County, and especially the Johnson Farm site, to the
history of this worldwide religion. I hope that I helped to
"educate" people a bit with what I wrote.

Again, thanks for writing.

Roger Di Paolo

It was cool to get that note. I also heard from my sister Becky that a co-worker of hers told her that she (the co-worker) thought my response was very professional. ANYWAY, today I also took my last final EVER at BYU-Idaho and then just completed my last assignment for one of my classes that I'd been putting off. SO, my semester is OVER!!! For now I'm packing up my room and am planning on leaving tomorrow morning for Utah before beginning my trip home Saturday morning. I am SO EXCITED to be coming home and to be FREE of the semester and DONE with Rexburg. YEAH!!! And in case you're wondering, all of my finals went GREAT! I even surprised myself!

Here's what my letter looked like in the was the only letter published today.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Letter to the editor

Current mood: productive

Well, I did finally write a letter to the editor of the Record-Courier, but it ended up being about something else instead of the recent acts of vandalism and cries of racism at Roosevelt High School. In fact, it was about my religion. On Saturday, March 25, the Record-Courier ran a great article by Roger DiPaolo in his "Portage Pathways" section about the tarring and feathering (and near lynching) of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in Hiram, Ohio in 1832. The article was very objective and I felt it was very accurate. Most people don't even know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) was headquartered in Ohio for seven years (1831-1838) and a few of those years were headquartered in Portage County at the John Johnson farm in Hiram. Anyway, some lady named Dianne Centa sent a letter to the editor that was published in today's (April 3) paper which was very negative about the Church and basically seemed to justify what this mob did back in 1832. Well, I have about three things I could write the newspaper about, but my own religion always takes precedence, especially at home. Well, I just sent my letter in, so it probably won't be published for a few days, but here's what I wrote. My mom helped with some editing too =). Here is her letter and below it is my response.

Response to Column
"I'd like to make a few comments about the Portage Pathways column of March 25, in which Mr. DiPaolo writes about the attack on Mormon leaders in Hiram in 1832. He mentions "theological differences" as the basis of the dispute between Smith and Rigdon and the local community. However, the cause of the mob action was more specific than that. Joseph Smith had (in the words of his biographer Fawn Brodie) begun to find monogamy "an intolerably circumscribed way of
life." He was frequently attracted to women other than his wife Emma. While staying with the Johnson family in Hiram Township, Joseph had purportedly "bedded" their 15-year-old daughter Marinda. This is why the mob had been set on castrating — not just tarring and feathering — Smith. The column also says the Johnson home is a shrine because "(Smith) received 16 revelations there." Let us be clear: what should have been said is that Smith claimed to have received revelations there. He no more actually received revelations than did any of the other so-called prophets scattered through our history."

Dianne Centa

"In response to the letter by Dianne Centa ("Response to Column," 3 April 2007), the basis for Roger DiPaolo's well-written and objective article was to point out the significance of an historical event in our county's history and to show where intolerance and hatred can lead. It was not to make a Mormon doctrinal statement or support Latter-day Saint theology in any way. Further, there are many biographies written on the life of Joseph Smith. Fawn Brodie's should not in any way be considered authoritive. Her book is noted for its antagonism towards Smith and the history of the LDS Church and her scholarship is questionable. I advise anyone trying to learn about someone or something not to rely solely on a source that is biased against the subject, but to research a variety of sources with a mind to fairness and balance.

Ms. Centa's letter seems to suggest that the mobs were justified in their near lynching of Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon. I agree with Mr. DiPaolo when he said this was a dark period of our county's history. Mob rule makes it too easy for emotions to rule and for fairness, truth, and justice to be completely ignored. It is, in essence, lawlessness. There is no justification for Portage County residents taking the law into their own hands, either then or now.

As for the John Johnson farm in Hiram being considered a "shrine," Mr. DiPaolo simply stated a fact: the house is considered an important and significant religious site for some 13 million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, roughly 12 thousand of whom reside right here in Northeast Ohio. Hundreds of thousands of people visit the site each year. Your personal feelings on Joseph Smith and whether or not he received revelations are irrelevant to that fact."

Franklin Township

In other news, I got my placement for student teaching today. I'll be student teaching at Bennion Junior High School in Taylorsville, Utah this fall. I'm very relieved to know where I'm teaching, but I still need to resolve my housing. The University is almost insisting that I live in their "approved" housing in Draper, Utah despite the fact that it's $1500 for just over three months with a shared bedroom (by comparison, I paid about $1900 total for two semesters in my current apartment and I have my own bedroom). I have to fill out this "request" to not live in "approved" housing and hope it gets approved. I'm sorry, I just have a problem with the fact that as a 25 year old I have to have permission from my university to live in housing I choose myself. Worse, if I were married, this wouldn't even be an issue (married students aren't required to live in approved housing even here at school; only single students are regardless of age). Talking with the one guy in charge of distant placement student teaching was pretty worthless. It was basically, "well, you can apply, but we don't usually approve requests." ARG...I CAN'T WAIT TO BE DONE WITH THIS SCHOOL FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


LDS Drama Queen (Becky); April 4, 2007
The only thing that isn't right is her name. You spelled it correctly when copying her letter but wrong in your is Dianne, with two "n"s. ANYWAY, other than that, GREAT letter, it is exactly what I would have said!! You should be proud, it was NICE.

As far as student teaching goes, hang in there...BYU-I is dumb but hey, you only have to deal for a little while longer. Trust me, I'm at Kent State. Don't you think I've got a countdown of hours???

HAHAHAHA...seriously, great article. See you soon!

Dorese; April 4, 2007
Great article! And congratulations on getting your placement for student teaching! And if your request gets denied, just know that Draper is a ritzy area and 1500 for 3 months doesn't really sound too bad. And remember, it's only 3 months, so even if things get on your nerves, it will all be over fast! Good luck with everything, Jon, and keep your chin up! Again, great job on the article. It was very well written!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

What a weekend

Current mood: tired

So I've had quite a weekend already and I still have one more day...

On Friday I went down to Provo, Utah for a mission reunion. I was already running late thanks to Utah's WONDERFUL traffic, but wasn't going to be THAT late. Well, as I was going through American Fork on I-15 and suddenly I realized my passenger side back tire had failed! I pulled off and looked it over, then unloaded my trunk to get my spare out (of course this always seems to happen when I have lots of stuff in my trunk). After getting the car jacked up and getting the old tire off, I discovered the spare I had didn't fit my car. Yeah, the dealer sold me a spare that doesn't fit. I got it two years ago and this is the first time I've had to use it. Thank goodness for my friend Manda and AAA! I got the car towed to a Wal-Mart (it was in view from where I got the flat), but they closed 30 mins before I got there. They let me leave the car there overnight and then Manda came and got me, so I was able to catch the very end of the reunion and at least see a few people I remember from the mission ("the mish"). I picked the car up the next morning and came back to Rexburg.

Here's the tire...ya, not sure what caused this really. It was a Goodyear, not a Firestone! On the left is the spare that didn't fit. At least the jack works! This is BEFORE I found out the spare didn't fit...

Manda and me at the American Fork, Utah Wal-Mart when I picked up my car. Manda and I go way back...we both were at Kent State in 2001 before I went on my mission.

Manda and I trying to take a funny picture...

I got back around 4pm and had a date with my friend Mindy. That was kind of interesting too as we went to Olive Garden in Idaho Falls. After waiting about 15 mins to get in, we got seated but no one came to get our orders for like 10 mins. Finally someone came and was very apologetic (he wasn't supposed to wait on us either; just took over). We both ordered my favorite thing, Chicken Alfredo Pizza, only to find they were out (AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!) so we had to order something else. Well, I had a wonderful time talking with Mindy and getting to know her a little better. We were about to leave after we finished and our waiter was still very apologetic about us having to wait, so he had the manager come out and he offered us free desserts!! YES! The weird thing is, we didn't even complain! While we were waiting for our desserts another server came by with two of those pizzas (they had gotten a shipment right as we had gotten there) and was about to serve them to us, but we explained how we had ordered them, but they said they were out, so we ordered something else. Anyway, something was messed up (maybe new people or just busy), but they were really nice about it all and the free dessert I got was WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!! Plus, the date was a lot of fun too!

It's General Conference weekend in our church too; that's where we can watch or listen to a live broadcast from Salt Lake City with talks from many of our church leaders in four general sessions, each of which is 2 hours (you can go to conference in Utah too...I've done that a few times). It's always a great weekend with lots of good information and a great spirit! I mostly listened on the radio (something I can't do at home) as I drove back to Rexburg from Orem, Utah.


Nari; April 1, 2007
Phew you had yourself quite the weekend there, J. I had no idea that Utah had any kind of traffic, let alone heavy

glad that you made it to your mish reunion!