JWHA Nauvoo 2011 Open Thread

I left the house about 9:00 a.m. for my five-hour road trip to Nauvoo. It was a beautiful day and the drive was very pleasant, except for several work calls I had to take. (I won’t be able to totally relax until tomorrow night when I can forget about work for the rest of the weekend. But still, it wasn’t that bad.)

I stopped for lunch at Arby’s in Galesburg, and made it to the Nauvoo Family Inn and Suites by a quarter after two. I checked in and then took a dip in the pool. I was the only one in there, and I seem to be almost the only person in the whole place (at 6:00 p.m. I counted six other cars on my side of the parking lot). But I kind of like having the place to myself; Nauvoo off-season is wonderful.

I ran by the Joseph Smith Historical Building to register. There I briefly chatted with Michael Marquardt, my blog-mate and JWHA head honcho John Hamer, Lach, and tonight’s keynote speaker, Ross Peterson. Then I headed for my appointment at the Nauvoo House buffet. I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that at least a third of my motivation for coming here was to eat at the buffet; it’s a personal tradition of mine. Of course I stuffed myself, but I’ll be more circumspect the rest of the weekend, I promise.

One thing I like about JWHA is that it’s much more intimate than the (by comparison) massive MHA. That gives it kind of a cool vibe, I think.

I don’t know how much or how often I’ll be able to add to this thread, as there is no wifi at the conference venues. But I thought I would go ahead and open a thread for anyone who might be here and wish to comment on the proceedings.

(With your registration you get a copy of the latest JWHA journal and the conference program, which is goregous and suitable for framing. I appreciate getting a little swag when I come to these things.)

Robin Jensen was doing research at the University of Chicago earlier this week, and I wanted to get together with him for lunch, but it didn’t work out. But since he’s going to be here in Nauvoo for the conference, we’re hoping to get together for one of the luncheons.

Please use this thread for all of your conference commentary.


  1. Nauvoo House buffet? Why have I not heardnon this before?!?!

    I attended Restoration Studies last year and I really enjoyed interacting with Community of Christ scholars.

    Have fun, Kevin!

  2. Thanks for starting this thread, Kevin. I so wanted to be there and can’t wait to hear all about it. The program looks very interesting. We have been to Nauvoo in the off-season–not busy and much better weather.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    I sat with Robin Jensen and Ben Park in the foyer while they did the business meeting for the JWHA. (I’m not actually a member, so I figured I shouldn’t participate.)

    The keynote address was given by Ross Peterson of USU. I thought he was very good. He started with some stories of Sterling McMurrin (since this was the McMurrin Lecture) and Leonard Arrington. One story was that the day before he died, Sterling was being moved by two nurses on his hospital bed, and he told them the story of the polygamist married to Milly and Tilly. He was on his deathbed, and arrangements were being made for his passing. They had three burial plots, and he was to be buried in the middle, between his wives. He motioned to the undertaker that he had one last instruction for him. So the undertaker leaned in close with his pencil and paper. And the polygamist said “Lean me a little bit so I’m facing MIlly.”

    His subject was on the 9th article of faith, on continuing revelation. And he talked about this in the context of societal change of the past half-century, especially vis-a-vis race, gender and sexual orientation. He talked about the developments in these areas in both faith traditions, both at the highest levels and also giving a personal perspective.

    Afterwards I ran into Brent Metcalfe. I hadn’t seen him in ages. He looked great (still rocking those guns he calls arms), and I met his fiance, Erin Jennings. She’s into Mormon history (she has published some things, and she is hte one who determined the unknown scribe of the JST was Jesse Gause) and they met through Mormon history friends (including Mike Marquardt). She lives in Alabama (or Arkansas, I always get those confused) and he’s still with Microsoft in Washington, so they’re still figuring out logistics.

    There was a reception afterwards at the Joseph Smith Historical Center, but I decided to just come back to my room, update the blog and veg a bit.

  4. It was a fun first day. By far the best thing about JWHA is the cordial environment—very friendly and very social. It was a blast catching up with so many people and to just walk/drive around the amazing city of Nauvoo.

    Bring on the sessions tomorrow!

  5. Sounds like a whole lot of fun. Return and report.

  6. reed russell says:

    Were my daughter not giving birth in 8 hours, I would surely be there. Next year! I appreciate the good reports, Kevin.

  7. One of the great perks of JWHA: breakfast with a great group of folks, including the very kind and fascinating Fred Larson, prophet and president of one of the Restorationist branches.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    Dick Bennett on lessons learned in MO applied to Nauvoo. Expecting 2C, Zion, millennial reign of Christ. Timetable for 2C changed. Totally unprepared for violence of western MO. Thought of 2C postponed. Geographic widening of Zion, plural, not singular. Doctrinal accomadation, reassessing political reality. JS: “even the devil ought to be ashamed of them” (speaking of Hinckle, Phelps, Avard, etc.). “Zion shall yet live, though she seemeth to be dead.” They are now actors on the restoration stage, not merely the audience. Military: now much wiser than before. More attuned to things as they really are. Needed to be more savvy, street smart, involved in political system. More politically mature. Impression people have is Legion a rogue unit, but reality subject to military laws, part of militia system (just independent of Hancock regiment). JS took control from beginning, didn’t want another Avard embarrassment. Never used in an offensive operation. Nauvoo House: impulse towards greater hospitality

    Blythe on Council of 50: Connects with William Miller’s failed 2C prophecy. Council organized on that day; JS interpreted the prophecy fulfilled, but not 2C but organization of Kingdom of God on earth. Quinn’s symbolic nature of Council arbitrary; Kingdom of God began that very day. A royalty with both sacred and profane dimensions. Given individual assignments, diplomacy, committee work, colonizing. Succession role contested. BY smacked down SR’s Guardian claim, but supported right to build kingdom in Pittsburgh and also Wight in TX. Unwittingly supported rival movements. Rigdon set up a similar council with 71–a modern Sanhedrin.

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    Bryan Monte on Harvest Hills, a sort of hippie RLDS community in Eastern Independence. Movement from monoculture (all RLDS) to heterogeneity has weakened rather than strengthened the community. Three periods:

    Pioneer period 1970-77 (1974 pop. 42, 100% RLDS)
    Robust growth 78-88 (1986 pop. 143, 88% RLDS)
    Mature/decline 89- present (2010 pop. 124, 49% RLDS)

    A microcosm of RLDS community in general (conservative/liberal, rise of Restorationists). Also people moving in who don’t know about communalistic, Zion ambitions, just want cheap housing. If nothing changes, will just become another neighborhood in 20 years, but if three strong CoC families were to move in, could turn it around.

    Joseph Johnstun on the African American experience in Nauvoo. People long assumed (as recently as 1965) had been no blacks here. (There are 0 in 2010 census!) He has identified 43 between 1839 and 1846. Nearly have came in 1843. 15 came from Connecticut. All free blacks. In contrast, in Clark Co. MO, just 18 miles to south, only 5 free blacks and over 400 slaves (200+ each both men and women). Blacks often hard to identify in IL records, because technically a free black in the state had to post a $1,000 bond assuring he would obey laws and not become poor and then a ward of the state. Failing these, bond was forfeited, put in jail to be claimed, if no one claimed, sold at auction. No one could raised $1,000 in those days. Very precarious situation. 3 abolitionists from Presbyterian Mission Institute in Quincy, strongly abolitionist, caught in MO trying to free slaves. Gov. of MO offered to trade them to Illinois for Joe Smith; no deal. 1839 Eligah Able comes, purchased property (mostly underwater now). Successful business. Lucinda Manning (Jane’s SIL) bought an acre and a half from Hyrum Smith farm. By 1842 Elijah in Cincinnati. Why leave? Apparently at Joseph’s direction he had stolen some wood needed to create coffins for victims of malaria outbreak, so needed to flee. Three priesthood holders in city; none went through Nauvoo temple, although Elijah probably would have were he still there.

  10. Awesome stuf, Kev. I appreciate greatly your notes.

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    I kind of fell down with taking more notes for the later sessions; too much hassle. But I’ve enjoyed the day, especially spending lots of time with old friends. (Mark Brown was supposed to be here, but I haven’t seen him.) I went to a session that was supposed to feature DKL, but he never showed, so that was a downer. Tomorrow afternoon there is a bus tour of Mormon sites in the greater Hancock County area, and tomorrow night the banquet is at a brewery(!) Sunday morning there is a hymn thing at the CoC Church, and then it will be the long drive home.

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    At the banquet tonight (attended by 101 people), some CoC people told me I looked like JS III or one of his brothers. I had never thought about it before, but once they said that I could see it.

    Dick Howard (former RLDS Historian) gave a great talk about RLDS D&C 150 paragraphs 10 and 11, which was the policy to go ahead and baptize Indian and African polygamists notwithstanding the whole identity of the RLDS of being anti-polygamy. The debate over this took place from 1967 until 1972. I had no idea how controversial or challenging this whole thing was. It was a very interesting glimpse into how our cousins handle a challenging policy issue like this.

  13. My thanks too for these reports.

  14. Kevin Barney says:

    Michael Hansen spoke about the RLDS attitude towards the BoA. It was never canonized in that tradition, but early on it was respected and appreciated, largely as support for lineal priesthood succession (a huge issue in those days) and also for its teaching of the plurality of gods. Early RLDS accepted the plurality of gods, the main aspect of Nauvoo cosmology that they kept. But JS III was largely innocent of Nauvoo cosmology, both due to his youth and the influence of Emma, who considered all that stuff bound up with polygamy. So under his influence, at first due to benign neglect and eventually at the end of the 19th century due to actual pronouncement, the BoA was rejected, as was the idea of a plurality of gods.

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    I just attended a session where four old timer CoCers talked about what it has been like living in Nauvoo. As someone who started visiting back in 1965 as just a boy, I was very interested to hear their stories.

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