Here Now Some History #26: Joseph Smith Gets a Job

By Penn Nayim

On September 21, 1823, an 18-year-old farmer named Joseph Smith wound down his night in his usual way: With a round of prayer and some routine supplication to The Almighty. These were the pre-Internet days when the Second Great Awakening was in full swing and late-night sessions with The Big Guy in the Sky were all the rage.

Second Great Awakening-style Protestantism was the porn and Amazon Prime of its time.
Second Great Awakening-style Protestantism was the porn and Amazon Prime of its time.

The Smith family wasn’t down with the whole new-age religion thing; they were more into good, old-fashioned folk magic. But that didn’t mean Joseph couldn’t engage in America’s favorite 1823 past time. No, far from it! He was praying up a blue streak, asking for forgiveness for past sins and for infractions he hadn’t even gotten around to committing yet when, out of nowhere, an angel named Moroni burst onto the scene.

According to Joseph’s written account of their interaction, Moroni dressed like Gandalf the White meets the Big Lebowski. His robe was crisp and brighter-than-bright (not that dingy white you get with some detergents). He kept said robe slightly ajar so that it might act as a window treatment of sorts to his heavenly chest region. In short, Moroni was one delicious-looking holy morsel.

Maroni sayeth:

Joe, listen up: Have you ever wanted to work in publishing? I ask because The Heavenly Father wrote a sequel to the Bible and he’s thinking of hiring you as his editorial intern.

Joseph responded all like,

You know, I’ve always thought of myself as a really talented writer/agrarian with an eye for detail. I’m so honored you would come to me with this opportunity. I know you must have a lot of applicants what with this Second Great Awakening going on.

To which Moroni respondeth,

Well, that’s just it, Joe: God is not digging this Second Great Awakening. It’s so derivative of his earlier stuff, you know? It’s been done, it’s almost a cliché, and he really wants to be a thought leader—a disrupter in the industry. Which is why we’re going with you: You’re the child of folk magicians who know how to extract divine knowledge from rocks. And let’s face it: You are the undisputed rock star of your family. We think you’re the right person to help us experiment with some more avant-garde teachings. You think you’re up for that?

Joseph said he was up to the challenge. What else was there to say? When opportunity comes knocking, you answer. You know how it is when you’ve been looking for work for a while: You’re grateful to even have a job. And with such a reputable organization!? You tell yourself you’ll work out the details later and if it gets to be too much you can just back out, right? RIGHT?

This is a guy wearing Moroni's robe. His name is Willy.
This is a guy wearing Moroni’s robe. His name is Willy. He laces up the v-neck for modesty.

Well, about that…

Moroni reached into the folds of his plunging V-neck frock and plucked out a heavenly employment contract/scope of work parchment, recovered and transcribed by our researchers as follows:

  • This is an unpaid position with very little room for advancement.
    Experience in Public Relations, Publishing, Event Planning, Government Affairs, Marketing and/or Swiss Banking Practices a plus.
  • Sense of humor a must! (Because when the townspeople find out what you’re up to, they’re going to try to stone you to death.)
  • Candidate will be expected to translate God’s works into English.
  • God’s latest masterpiece has been transcribed onto gold plates to give the work some weight; therefore, candidate must be able to lift up to 60 lbs.
  • Discretion is a must: Candidate will be expected to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Violation of this agreement will result in immediate termination, as well as other disciplinary action including, but not limited to, the physical annihilation of the candidate so that candidate really thinks about what he’s done.
  • Candidate must have access to reliable transportation as the plates are hidden in an undisclosed location. Since Google Maps hasn’t been invented yet, candidate must be able to clearly and distinctly recognize that undisclosed location when location is disclosed to candidate via a vision. (Don’t worry, it’s local.)
  • Candidate must agree to an Acceptable Use Policy for the plates.
  • Candidate will also be required to sign a non-compete.
  • All information accessed by candidate should be considered proprietary. As such, candidate can assume that information should not under any circumstances be shared with Satan (even if he offers to pay you for your work which is a benefit we do not offer at this time—or ever).
  • Benefits package not competitive.

The rest, as they say, was simple Latter Day Saint history.

Moroni’s “My Style” Pinterest inspiration board
Moroni’s “My Style” Pinterest inspiration board

Joseph got around to digging up the plates four years later with the help of a friendly necromancer; dislocated his thumb fighting off some muggers; hid the plates in a barrel of beans; and eventually misplaced the plates entirely.

Joseph Smith died in 1844 after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds, falling from a window, and sustaining yet more untreated gunshot wounds. (Again, the medical benefits package was not competitive.) His story has been sorely misremembered.


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