Did Joseph Smith Know Himself? Do We Know Ourselves? Yale Professor Harold Bloom, celebrated author of the book The American Religion and ardent advocate of Joseph Smith’s primary place in American history, asks a critical question at the end of his provocative Sunstone essay, ‘Perspectivism and Joseph Smith’ (Sunstone, March 2007). In echoing Fawn Brodie’s classic biography No Man Knows My History, Bloom confesses ‘I believe Joseph when he says we don’t know him; to me, it is the most important statement of his life.’ He ends his essay with the title question: ‘Did he know himself?’ Since the good professor is not now available to us (we tried!), I propose to discuss his question with an emphasis on how the rising generation might respond to it. How do our youth answer such a question, not only about Brother Joseph, but about themselves? For that matter, how do the rest of us answer for ourselves?
Eugene N. Kovalenko