Saturday, May 13, 2006

Wikipedia, the Mormons and Me.

My chance to write history! Usually reserved for the victors of war and dedicated academics, the rise of Wikipedia, like most things on the internet (bless you, Al Gore!) brings with it a host of new opportunities and challenges. Researching an ancient branch of my family tree, I discovered this entry with a fair amount of information about one of the founders of the Mormon religion. I had done work on this subject while in college, so this was more of a fact-checking endeavor rather than a search for new information. For those who don't know (nearly everyone that isn't a Mormon) Oliver Cowdery was a central figure in the first schism in the history of The Latter Day Saints. The article was fair enough- taken mostly from Mormon sources- but the reference to "a letter of resignation" spurred me to action. I have a copy of the letter; I thought it appropriate to insert it, and let the poor man speak for himself. When ever I read histories that ignore the actual words spoken by the person in question concerning an event, I always wonder- why has his or her voice been silenced? So now I have written (rewritten?) a piece of history- with a footnote! I'll be interested in seeing how long it remains on the site. The LDS are thorough, controlling, doctrinaire and relentless, but perhaps now this one dissenting voice from their past will be heard again.

By Professor Batty


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