The Ex-Mormon Uncovering This Enigmatic Religion’s True History | BookTrib.

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Holy Joe! Prophet, Seer, and Revelator by Just Judy

A former Mormon writing a novel based on the life of the founder of this church might well be expected to produce an exposé. But Holy Joe! Prophet, Seer and Revelator is instead a heavily researched book based on firsthand information and documentation by historical characters.

The facts are sensational enough: Born in 1805, Joseph Smith was a poor farm boy in upstate New York with a reputation as a “money-digger” for finding lost things using a “seer stone,” and performing magic rituals. He also had a vivid imagination for telling stories about Native Americans and the burial mounds they’d left behind. Before he was killed by an anti-Mormon mob in 1844, he’d produced the writings that inform today’s Mormon beliefs and organized the beginnings of the church that has more than 17 million members today.

In this Q&A, author Just Judy takes us through what drove her to take on this 40 year-long project and, ultimately, who the true audience for this book is.

Q: What motivated you to write Holy Joe! Prophet, Seer, and Revelator?

A: After two years of reading first-hand material on the beginnings of Mormonism, I felt I knew and understood something that many others would like to know. This was forty years ago. There was no internet. I am happy now because, with the internet to back me up, what I wrote can easily be substantiated.

Q: Religion is a touchy subject to say the least. How did you handle researching and writing about such a sensitive topic, especially with your own involvement in the Mormon church?

A: I think religion is a touchy subject when one person thinks they have the one truth and they are trying to convince another of that one truth. Reading about how a new religion came into being doesn’t cause such discomfort. The story is about a group of people with unusual beliefs, but it is also frontier fiction.

After spending two years reading secular Mormon history, I wasn’t really involved in the church in the same way. Actually, I was considered (by the church) an apostate and handed over to the buffetings of Satan. I’m not sure what I considered myself. Angry, mostly. It is a common reaction when one discovers they have been deliberately deceived.

Q: You mention that the Mormonism that you were taught is much different than the Mormonism of first-hand accounts. Could you elaborate on this difference?

A: This statement is probably true for every religion. Church history and secular history are as different as the imaginations of man will allow.

To be more exact: When I was ‘investigating the church’ the elders showed me pictures of a young man standing in a clearing in the forest. He had on a handsome, stylish, blue suit, and the sun shone down through the trees. There was a spirit person holding some golden plates. 

The secular version, which I learned from Emma Smith’s diary, says that Joseph picked up his farm pants from the floor — he had let them fall there the night before when he went to bed — snuck out of the house with his wife, borrowed the wagon of a visitor to the farm, and went off to the woods. Joseph left Emma in the wagon — it was night, so no sun — and came back to the wagon empty handed. He claimed to have received ancient golden plates delivered by an angel, but as no one could see the plates and live, he had to hide them in the forest.

Q: Who would you say is your target audience for this book?

A: I understand the question, but I did not write this book for an audience. I wrote this book because I had (for ten years after I left the church) a great deal of angst about ever having been a Mormon. As I came to know the secular history, I felt a need to notify the world what I had learned. By the time I finished my book, (due to life and family matters, this was at least ten years later) I no longer felt it was my duty to inform others. Religion is a personal truth. I walked away from my book and did not promote it.

That said, my target audience will be readers of frontier fiction, historical fiction, biography and other apostates. There are lots of Mormon-related podcasts, people are still writing books on the subject, and there is still a great deal of active interest in this topic.

Q: What was the most surprising thing you discovered through your research?

A: The most surprising thing for me was to realize that this religion is not something that Joseph Smith created. People came to him, often when he was plowing his fields or engaged in the trevails of life, seeking his ability to discern spirits, find lost objects, or to give them answers to questions unasked. His neighbors would not leave him alone. All along, as I watch Joseph Smith do and say the most astounding things, I have to stop and ask, why are people believing him so readily?

The most surprising thing I discovered is the other side of the picture.

Q: What kind of feedback have you received from readers so far? Any difference between feedback from Mormons and from non-Mormons?

A: The original version of Holy Joe! has been available on Amazon since 2012. It has received no promotion whatsoever. Still, the book has received five reviews and a total of 4.5 stars. One of those reviews is by a church historian for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, Dale Broadhurst. The remainder, I assume, are non-Mormon. It seems to me that this book is being received well from all sides.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from Holy Joe!?

A: My hope is that they would take something meaningful away. What that could be would depend on where they come from. I expect this book to be read by people of all walks of life, backgrounds and religions. Some will have questions before they open the cover. Some had questions rolling around in the back of their minds for a long time. There must be some who simply enjoy frontier fiction.

Intrigued by Holy Joe! Prophet, Seer and Revelator? Check out our full review of the book here.

Just Judy is a retired business professional who currently resides in Farmers Branch, TX. She became captivated by Mormon frontier history after converting to the faith of Mormonism and later discovering the true history of the church. Books written by Emma Hale (Joseph’s first wife) Lucy Smith (Joseph’s mother), early court records, and many non-fiction biographies made it clear the Mormonism she was taught by the elders was very different from the Mormonism revealed by the first-hand accounts.

Just Judy is neither pro nor anti-Mormon. She takes a strong stand for history and enjoys re-creating events according to historical documentation. She is currently working on her second book, also a frontier fiction with Mormon characters and ideals.

Holy Joe! Prophet, Seer, and Revelator by Just Judy

Publish Date: April 7, 2024

Genre: Historical Fiction, Religion

Author: Just Judy

Publisher: Your Online Publicist

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