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Radio Free Mormon: 192: Rock Waterman Unplugged!

The amazing Rock Waterman drops by RFM’s underground bunker to talk about what he’s been up to recently, and share some laughs.  Fortunately, Rock is a good sport about RFM’s incessant ribbing!  Two hours never went by so fast!


49 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 192: Rock Waterman Unplugged!”

  1. I may not agree with everything Rock says. But his blog posts are incredible. And I admire his courage to stick with his truth, rather than feeling like he has to fit in with most post mormons. I’d love to hear more!

  2. re: comics

    It’s so ironic that Rock is the one who still believes that Joseph Smith is innocent, while you’re the one who still thinks Stan Lee is innocent. Each one must be scratching his head saying “why doesn’t the other one get it?” 🙂

    I agree that many DC covers were like Mormonism. But the parallels between Marvel and Mormonism go much, much deeper. I used to run the world’s biggest Fantastic Four fan site (the FF, as you know, started it all). Eventually I dug deeper and deeper into how the books were created. I learned more about Stan Lee at the same time that I learned more about Joseph Smith. I tried to defend both men for years, going down the same continuum from “genius” to “flawed genius” to “guy doing his best” to “but look at all the good that came out of it” to “it’s still worth reforming” to “nuke it from orbit, it’s the only way”. If you ever want to do a podcast on the parallels (or to defend the guy, it’s your bunker) let me know!

    There’s a very promising looking biography of Stan Lee coming out in September, by Abraham Reisman. He’s interviewed all the key players who are still alive (some for the first time) and has really done his homework. It looks like this might be the first bio that starts to tell the other side of the story. Recommended!

    Oh, and the rest of your podcast is good too. 🙂

    1. Stop!

      I don’t want to hear anymore about Stan “the Man” Lee!

      Seriously, I have heard a few rumors, such as lawsuits from the family of (was it Steve Ditko? Johnny Romita? Jack Kirby? All of the Above?) regarding rights to certain characters.

      And I suspect where there is smoke, there is probably some fire.

      I have lived too long to put people up on too high a pedestal. They make such a mess when they topple.

      And as a general rule, people don’t rise to the top of any industry without making some well-deserved enemies along the way.

      Thanks for the heads up on the biography coming out, though.

      I think that is something I would like to read!

      Oh, and thanks about the podcast. ;^)



  3. And I thought RFM was good at going on tangents, he has nothing on Rock Waterman. I love when RFM does a collaboration with anyone, and this is no exception. Though he is a “believer” Rock has an insight into mormonism that is different than what I have experienced. The perspective of a fellowship remnant mormon (Snufferite) is interesting to say the least. While I “believe” that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy I also believe that this is worth a listen, and would enjoy future episodes with Mr. Waterman.

    1. Of course Joseph Smith practiced polygamy!

      As sure as the sun rises.

      As sure as the Apollo 11 landed.

      As sure as the earth is a globe.

      What I find interesting is not the argument about whether Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, but why people feel compelled to believe such things in the first place.

  4. Thankyou❗️ Thank you❗️Thank you❗️RFM and Rock. I have been a fan of Rock for years. I now have a better understanding of the Sheriff of Nottingham. This was entertaining and fun to listen to. I would certainly vote for more visits with Rock. I think it would be valuable to Jidiscuss specific blogs such as Are we paying too much tithing? or The best conference talk you never heard. From both of you I have considered things I never would have considered. I am fascinated by reasoning and logic and find a healthy reassurance here. Even though viewpoints and possible conclusions may differ healthy and positive conversations can take place. That’s encouraging.

    1. I like this idea of discussing some of Rock’s most popular blogs.

      I kept trying to keep him from talking about plural marriage, because we have hashed that one to death in our personal conversations and neither of us seem to be able to make a dent in the other’s position.

      Even though I’m right.


  5. I wrote a thank you note but it disappeared. I don’t know if it was sent or not since the other comments are not showing up. This was fun to listen to. Thank you RFM and Rock. I would be interested in hearing more visits with Rock especially about some of his previous blogs. I have been a fan of Rock for years. Both of you have caused me to think about things I never would have considered because I was too lazy. I admire the reasoning and logic and disciplined effort both of you have invested in processing history and scriptures to bring a better understanding of things. Thank you❗️

  6. I just listened to hours of great podcasting with Dr Ritner and the great calling out of the hypocrisy of the LDS church. Then I started on this podcast and couldn’t finish. RFM, you did not call Rock out on his comment of no proof of JS polygamy? Am I wrong and Rock is right? There is no proof of JS polygamy. This one was too much for my apostle mind to handle. I need to change my attitude to finish this podcast episode. Thanks RFM, for always being a voice of reason. This one just confused my feeble brain.

    1. Like Arnold Horshack used to say, “Always expect the unexpected!”

      You never know when RFM is going to switch things up on you!

      If you listen to the whole podcast, you will hear yours truly making merciless fun of rock-ribbed Rock about his views on numerous issues; from DC comics being better than Marvel; to the complete absence of skinheads in northern Idaho; to the idea that Joseph Smith never practiced plural marriage.

      You actually have to wait for the very end of the podcast to hear my last dig at Rock on that score.

      But I drop not-too-subtle hints all along the way that I am not buying what he is selling on a host of issues.

      Maybe someday we will do an episode devoted to Joseph Smith’s polygamy . . . or lack thereof.

  7. John Gilbert used the bible to help him decipher the manuscript and add punctuation because there was no punctuation whatsoever. In an 1873 interview with John Gilbert, he relates the following:

    “The copy was brought to the office by Hiram Smith. It was written on foolscap paper in a good, clear hand. The handwriting was Oliver Cowdery’s. There was not a punctuation mark in the whole manuscript. The sentences were all run in without capitals, or other marks to designate where one left off and another began, and it was no easy task to straighten out the stuff. Maj. Gilbert, perceiving that large portions were stolen verbatim from the Bible, used to have a copy of that book on his case to aid him in deciphering the manuscript and putting in the proper punctuation marks.”

    Unless John Gilbert refers to himself in the third person, he did not actually make this statement, it looks like a summary of something they discussed, therefore we have very little detail about what actually happened. This is a weak argument for the “mistakes” in the Book of Mormon.

    He also describes Joseph Smith:

    “Joe was then about 23 years of age. He was a lazy, good-for-nothing lout, chiefly noted for his capacity to hang around a corner grocery and punish poor whisky. He had good physical strength, but he never put it to any use in the way of mowing grass or sawing wood. He could wrestle pretty well, but was not given to exerting his muscles in any practical way. He had evidently made up his mind that there was an easier way of getting a living than by honest industry.”

    “He was the discoverer of a magic stone which he used to carry around in his hat. Holding it carefully laid in the bottom of his hat he would bring his eye to bear on it at an angle of about 45 degrees and forthwith discover the whereabouts of hidden treasures. He would draw a circle on the ground and say to the awe struck bystanders, “dig deep enough within this circle and you will find a pot of gold.” But he never dug himself. He had a good share of the rising generation of Palmyra out digging in the suburbs, and to this day traces of the pits thus dug are pointed out to curious vis[i]tors.

    “As he claimed to be the author of the “Book of Mormon” his story was that by the aid of his wonderful stone he found gold plates on which were inscribed the writings in hieroglyphics. He translated them by means of a pair of magic spectacles which the Lord delivered to him at the same time that the golden tablets were turned up. But nobody but Joe himself ever saw the golden tablets or the far-seeing spectacles. He dictated the book, concealed behind a curtain, and it was written down by Cowdery. This course seemed to be rendered necessary by the fact that Joe did not know how to write. Otherwise the book might have gone to the printer in the handwriting of Old Mormon himself.”

    You cannot have it both ways, if you believe John Gilbert about using the Bible to account for “mistakes,” then you cant discount the fact his statements about Joseph Smith being a “lazy, good-for-nothing lout,” or anything about his treasure digging, rock in the hat, translation, etc…

    Our friend John Gilbert also reveals where the Book of Mormon came from.

    “It is now pretty well established that the “Book of Mormon” was written in 1812 by the Rev. Solomon Spalding, of Ohio, as a popular romance. He could not find any one to print it. The manuscript was sent to Pittsburg, where it lay in a printing office several years. Spalding was never able to raise the money to secure the printing of the story, and after his death in 1824 [1816] it was returned to his wife. By some means, exactly how is not known, it fell into the hands of one Sidney Rigdon, who, with Joe Smith, concocted the scheme by which it was subsequently brought out as the work of Smith.”

    This is one of the theories of the origin of the Book of Mormon. In 1877, where would John Gilbert get this idea? It is definitely speculative on his part saying, “It is now well established…” If it is true, it would give Joseph Smith et al enough time to reference Adam Clark and polish the unfinished manuscript, dictate it to Oliver Cowdery in 2 months, then create the Book Of Mormon.

    Just some unfinished thoughts…

    1. Thanks for your research on that, Ben.

      My sense is that the “Lost Manuscript” theory went out the window when the manuscript was found by a fellow with the last name “Rice” in an attic in Honolulu, Hawaii.

      Was it 1890?

      Anyway, the manuscript was found and it bore no resemblance to the Book of Mormon. It also contained none of the names, such as “Moroni” that earlier witnesses claimed it did.

      But good theories being hard things to kill, it took on a new life with the creation of the idea that there must have been another manuscript that did match the witness descriptions; only it was lost.

      It all starts to sound a bit like Dr. John Gee arguing that the Book of Abraham really does exist on the papyri; only it is on that part of the papyri that hasn’t been found. ;^)

  8. More Rock Waterman! Bring him on for specific issues. He is a delightful speaker who has a unique perspective which is often missing on post-mormon podcasts.

  9. I really am not aware who Rock Waterman is, would have loved an intro… also, he didn’t make a lot of sense to me? Maybe I’m not intellectual enough! 🙂 On a side note: you are one of my favorite people, RFM!

    1. Thanks so much, Chelly!

      Perhaps I should have given a better intro.

      We were just sort of goofing around and having a good time . . . with an audience.

      If you haven’t already, you really should go to his “Pure Mormonism” blog and check out some of the things he has written.

      Try to steer clear of the political stuff, though . . .

  10. In my opinion. No need to bring Rock back. He can’t seem to stay on topic and every one of his thoughts he considers amazing left me wondering what was his point?

  11. If Rock comes back for another interview, you should ask him about his favorite cereal. My guess is he’s cookoo for cocoa puffs.

  12. I would like to explore the possibility that Joe wasn’t screwing 14 year olds and everyone else, with Rock, but when he says stuff like there are no white supremacists they all died off, he loses all credibility with me. You should do a fact checking episode on this episode because it doesn’t do your credibility any good when you give a megaphone to a wingnut.

    1. Rock is an important voice in post-Mormon history, if not Mormon History itself.

      His blog has had a large influence over many, many Latter-day Saints.

      As such, it was a pleasure and even an honor to have him on my show.

      My concern with those who deny Joseph Smith’s practice of plural marriage is touched on in your comment; that the idea of Joseph Smith taking multiple wives; some as young as 14; some married to other men; some sisters, some mothers and daughters, all seems so hard to square with the idea of Joseph Smith as a righteous prophet, that it leads some to reject the idea out of hand and then look for evidence to support their rejection.

      On the other hand, maybe I and the vast majority of scholars on Mormonism are wrong about this and Rock is right.

      I will put you down for a vote to have Rock back to talk about Joseph Smith and polygamy.

      Thanks for listening!


  13. Rock is an interesting character with a lot of good insights but he loses a lot of credibility when he insists that there’s no evidence for Joseph Smiths polygamy.

    1. That was definitely an overstatement of the case, I agree.

      There is a great deal of evidence Joseph Smith practiced polygamy.

      But Rock and others of his view have a myriad of ways of discounting that mountain of evidence.

      Then they typically pick up on one or two pieces of evidence, squeeze them dry to draw tenuous speculations, and then pronounce those speculations as established fact.

      At least that’s the way I see it.


  14. RFM, you’ve had many fantastic episodes, but this one was just delightful. It was a really nice change of pace, and I honestly hope you’ll consider pulling him back on again in the future. I enjoy hearing alternative views beyond just the “official LDS” and “official John Dehlin” versions of things. And the comic book discussion was a breath of fresh air.

    1. Thank you so much, Vaughn!

      That is exactly what I was shooting for!

      A “delightful change of pace”!

      Glad it hit the mark with some of the audience, at least!


  15. RFM:

    Rock Waterman recalled something to suggest that John Gilbert, the typesetter of the Book of Mormon, may have used the Bible rather than the printers manuscript when it came to long passages from the Bible. Although I could not find an interview that said precisely that, I did find these two.

    The John H. Gilbert interview, September 1888 says
    “Maj. Gilbert, perceiving that large portions were stolen verbatim from the Bible, used to have a copy of that book on his case to aid him in deciphering the manuscript and putting in the proper punctuation marks.” (THE AMERICAN BOOKSELLER, Vol. IV No. 12, DECEMBER 15, 1877. Found here

    And reported in Andrew Jenson, Edward Stevenson, and Joseph S. Black to Editor, 28 September 1888, Deseret Evening News, 11 October 1888, quoted in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 2:541;

    Also Recollections of John H. Gilbert, Regarding printing Book of Mormon, 8 September 1892, Palmyra, New York

    “On the second day–[Martin] Harris and [Hyrum] Smith being in the office–I called their attention to a grammatical error, and asked whether I should correct it?  [Martin] Harris consulted with [Hyrum] Smith a short time, and turned to me and said, “The Old Testament is ungrammatical, set it as it is written.”

    Found here:

    John H. Gilbert interview, 23 June 1893, in New York Herald, 25 June 1893, 12, quoted in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 2:552.

    A letter John Gilbert to James Cobb letter dated Feb. 10, 1879 gives no details on the copying of Bible text.

    McKay Platt

    PS-I would vote for another interview with Rock Waterman if you could keep him on gospel subjects. The first date is often about just getting to know you so let’s have a second date where we dive a little deeper into Mormonism and leave the comic books and early Hollywood films out of the second interview.

    1. Thanks for doing that research, McKay.

      I can sort of see where Rock is getting that quote from, but I am not sure it is as iron-clad as Rock would have suggest.

      If we follow that quote strictly, it would not account for all the variations in the KJV that we find in the Book of Mormon.

      Thanks again!


    1. This is considered a vote in opposition to the motion.

      Please contact your stake president to discuss why you voted in opposition, and suffer whatever local consequences he may deem appropriate.

      That is all.

  16. Call me crazy, but that is what Boyd K Packer taught using different terminology. The phrase “fostering a belief” goes along with “an act of faith”. Along with “achieve success in anything” sounds like what you want or desire or how Boyd K Packer put it “things that you hope are true”. And lets not forget that “should be repeated” is being done when you “bear testimony”. It seems that Boyd K Packer is teaching New Age / Occult ideas.

  17. Adrian Larsen, a top leader/blogger in the Snufferites movement, has publicly stated it is not for him. One has to ask why he would say that? Does the Book of Mormon teach something different when translated into another language? No it does not. The Book of Mormon teaches the same precepts no matter what language it is in. And Joseph Smith taught we should abide [adhere to, maintain defend 1828 Webster’s Dictionary], just like how the scriptures teach we are to guard the Torah/YHWH’s instructions.

    1. Hi, Steven.

      I, too, am genuinely puzzled as to why The Remnant movement does not even want to be called a movement.

      Much less claim any leader, much less that the leader is Denver Snuffer.

      I think the idea is to distance the organization as much as possible from the strict authoritarian organization of the LDS Church; to invoke the influence of the Holy Ghost among Remnant believers; and to allow them freedom to believe what they wish regardless of whether it agrees with the teachings of Denver Snuffer.

      On the other hand, as I pointed out in the podcast, Denver Snuffer purports to exercise all the spiritual gifts exercised by Joseph Smith but apparently doesn’t want to be called a prophet.

      There are definitely interesting aspects to this non-movement movement.

  18. I think one of the reasons I enjoy your podcast is I say things before you do sometimes like “Joseph was too busy with the ladies to care what was in the Wentworth Letter” or I am not letting that one go by uncontested with the printer’s manuscript.

    A name for the Snuffer movement did come to mind with a double entendre of The Church of MLM (Mormon Lives Matter).

    I did not mind but enjoyed all the sidetracks taken in the episode as they are needed to try and understand the mind of Rock Waterman. I always wondered how someone could look behind the curtain and still believe in Joseph Smith. It takes a special kind of person with a unique mindset to see the positive in Joseph Smith and Rock fits the bill.

    1. LOL!

      I really enjoyed the interview, as well.

      I am usually somewhat nervous before an interview, but before I started with Rock, I gave myself permission to just be myself.

      I think it went okay.


  19. I’d agree that having Rock back on at least for another episode would be a treat, especially if you focus on his insights about Mormonism. Rock’s blog exploring the many ways the LDS church has wandered if not run away from what Joseph Smith originally taught is endlessly interesting. Even if a person doesn’t believe in Joseph Smith, it is fascinating to learn about the LDS tendency to spin their history to their advantage as was the practice of US historians in general (Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire). Likewise, the story of sending a troubling conference talk down the memory hole by having Ronald E. Poleman deliver a revision of his original 1984 talk with the opposite meaning to an empty room, then replacing the original recording delineating the differences between the church and the gospel—is, well, quite 1984 of them. (The Best Conference Talk You’ve Never Heard).

    1. We have another vote for having Rock back!

      Specifically to talk about some of his best blogs!

      The tally is getting closer!

  20. Hi RFM,

    I think Rock was an accretive interviewee for the podcast. I think it’s interesting that he seems to espouse the view that the Mormon Church isn’t “true” but for reasons entirely different than what conventional exmo’s believe.

    If/When Rock comes back on, it would be interesting to hear more about the Remnant movement. Do they tithe? Are they trying to preach the good word to others? What’s the goal.

    RFM, if you play your cards right maybe Rock will make an introduction to the man/myth/legend, the one and only Denver Snuffer.

    1. Another vote for the return of Rock!

      To be honest, I already am acquainted with Denver Snuffer.

      And he has refused my repeated entreaties to get him to come on my show.

      Maybe if we started a petition . . .

  21. This episode was a reminder that I made the right choice to leave Snufferism. I credit Denver’s movement with starting the critical thinking juices flowing that led to my excom but I’m confused when Rock (and many other Snufferites) seem to reign in their critical thinking skills for stuff before 1844.

    Snufferites join in wholeheartedly on the criticism of the silly apologetics that the LDS church employs in defense of BY -> RMN. But when anything pre 1844 comes up, they seem to employ the same silliness. the Gilbert thing was a silly apologetic that illustrated this IMO. A grasping at straws.

    1. You make a good point, I think.

      Ultimately, in order to make their “Joseph Smith didn’t practice polygamy” theory fly, they have to create a Joseph Smith so incompetent and out-of-touch with the church over which he was president that he didn’t even know those closest to him were practicing polygamy.

      It seems . . . . unlikely.

  22. I think all mormons should read the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg as he shows at a deeper level the purpose of life and how everything works in the afterlife. I would especially recommend “Heaven and Hell” which is a free download at

  23. Tl;Dr, no need for a second interview.

    Don’t get me wrong this was a fantastic episode. I enjoyed getting the different perspective and view into the remannent movement. (However, the only thing that was keeping me engaged was your subtext and ribbing RFM.) Its interesting to me how they will protect JS with the very same fallacies that they decry from the Brighamite church. A flavor is good enough, no need for more muddy waters to sift through though. So a “No” vote here.

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