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Author Topic: Orrin Porter Rockwell  (Read 9527 times)
Jake Norwood
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« on: February 12, 2004, 03:35:38 PM »

I mentioned this guy in an earlier post, but he is SO important to what I think Vincent is trying to do here that I'm going to reiterate it with as much force as I can.

Vincent, read this book: Porter Rockwell, a Biography

Porter Rockwell was a close boyhood friend of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph loved Porter, and Joseph's wife hated him.  He is the source for every legend about "Danites," Mormon Mafias, and a lot of other such things.  He was a gunslinger, a bodyguard, a bounty hunter, indian fighter, missionary, US Marshall, and a temple worker, often at the same time. He clearly had a hard, hard time adhering to much of what Mormons--especially Mormons in the last 100 years--would consider "decent" behavior.  He drank, swore, and gambled.  He was loved and feared at the same time by different people. His hair and beard were long after the Prophet Joseph told him that if he never cut his hair or beard (like the Nazarites of old) that he would be protected from the Devil and from harm.  Like Wyatt Earp, though shot at many, many times, he was never hit. It should also be noted that separating the fact from legend in Porter's life is impossible at this point, which perhaps makes it *better* for present purposes.

One day Porter came accross a woman that had lost all of her hair from disease.  He offered his hair to her, cut it, and made a wig for her.  Although she was blessed by his kindness, Porter commented that he had a much, much harder time resisting temptations, drinking, swearing, and rough behavior after he cut it.  It's a pretty powerful human story, and worthy of several biblical parallels.

Porter, having joined the church the day it was founded, baptised immediately after Joe Smith Sr., was close to every prophet and apostle up until his death, and knew every controversial figure in the church as well (in the opinion of some, he was one).  One such example is John Lee, the leader of the Mountain Medows Massacre--Lee and Rockwell were hated enemies and rivals from before the Utah War, when they had each led a "batallion" of a few dozen men (those two batallions made up the entire Utah Army at the time) in guerilla fighting and smoke-screening Buchanan's Army.

Porter and "his time" make me think more of the Dogs than any other thing in actual Mormon history.  The above book is absolute required reading for anyone trying to understand where Mormons are *really* coming from.  He is, in legend, probably the best example of a person that isn't cut out for the christian life trying so hard to pull it off, and doing so at the behest of Prophets and Apostles....ideal material for Dogs, IMO.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Emily Care
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2004, 05:48:57 PM »

Jake,

That is so cool, I want to read it.

There is a lot of myth and legend in this here history.

--Em
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Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games
Jake Norwood
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« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2004, 03:22:45 PM »

Yeah, the "old Church" has some really, really colorful characters, esp. since at that time the church was considered a wildly radical organization with ideas that threatened the very nation, like women's suffrage, plural marriage, abolition of slavery, a theocratic state, not to mention all the purely religious ideas like the deification of man and plurality of gods.  Now the LDS church is considered ultra-conservative, alhtough the doctrine is the same (not to say that interpretation of doctrine is necessarily the same). There's myths and legends galore, mostly surrounding Joe Smith, Brigham Young, Porter Rockwell, and a few of the "founding fathers" whose names wouldn't mean a thing to you.  What you don't see are the animalistic or ghost-based legends (jackalopes, sasquatches, hauntings, etc) from the rest of the US.  You DO see lots of biblical characters, like Cain, running into people all the time, though.  And, of course, to a skeptic, anything touching Joseph Smith and the almost daily revelations of the 14 years he led the church. A non-believer is likely to find those stories vastly entertaining, sometimes touching, and perhaps frequently laughable.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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