‘Impressions of a Prophet’ provides insight

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    By JENNIFER JONES

    Susan Easton Black addressed faculty members Thursday about her new book, “Impressions of a Prophet.”

    Black has helped to author or edit more than 80 books and is a professor of church history and doctrine. The subject of this latest book is the prophet Joseph Smith. Black began and concluded her lecture with the same statement about the prophet, saying, “I absolutely love the man.”

    She commenced by speaking of the birth of Joseph Smith on Dec. 23, 1805. Showing her deep love for this prophet, she said her family has a birthday party every Dec. 23 to commemorate this day. Speaking prophet’s birth, she said that Dr. Dennison, who delivered the baby Joseph to Lucy Mack, later wrote, “If I had known what this baby would grow up to be, I would have smothered the little cuss.”

    Black spoke of all the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the childhood of Joseph Smith. This included the well-known story of how Joseph endured a painful leg operation at the age of 7. Adding to that story, Black said that after the surgery, 14 pieces of Joseph’s bone came out of his original incision.

    Also during the early years of his life, the Smith family moved 11 times. One of these moves was conducted by a man named Caleb Howard. He loaded all the Smith children into his sleigh-like wagon, except 11 year-old Joseph. “This child will walk,”he said. Joseph’s older brothers, Alvin and Hyrum offered to walk instead, but were whipped until silent. This left Joseph to limp behind in the tracks of the wagon, from Norwich, Vermont, headed for Palmyra, New York. In his own words Joseph says that he became lost in the snow and fell to the ground, wallowing in the blood of his ever-present leg wound and abandoned himself to death. The prophet’s account says a stranger came by, picked him up and carried him to Palmyra.

    Describing the persecution during the prophet’s youth, Black said, “These were difficult days for Joseph and his family.” Black went on to describe what she calls,”the two main events that happened in Palmyra that would change the course of the world,” meaning the First Vision, where the Father and the Son appeared and the initial visitation of the Angel Moroni to Joseph Smith. Black said the visit of the Angel Moroni was just one of 59 angelic beings that the prophet saw during the course of his life, but in her opinion it was the greatest learning opportunity for Joseph.

    BYU Human Resources employee, Rebecca Estrada, said,”I think we need to learn about the testimonies of the prophets through their hardships.” Kathy Greer, an employee of the MTC, said, “This lecture was entertaining, enlightening and it enriched my life.” Black’s lecture was both humorous and moving. Her love for Joseph Smith was apparent. She closed with her testimony of Jesus Christ and said that her favorite book is The Book of Mormon, quoting Joseph Smith, who said, “It is the most correct of any book on earth.”

    The lecture was sponsored by the Office of Professionals Advisory Committee as part of their monthly “brown bag” program, providing lectures for faculty and staff during lunch hour.

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