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 own...it 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!

No comments: