Last night, I was on a panel about Mormons for a show called Humanist Views. There was a host, me, and two ex-Mormons. My title for the show was Mormonologist, which I thought was silly, as one could spend a whole life studying Mormonism, and you'd never get it all. Blast modern revelation! Plus, I've only covered the beginning of the Book of Mormon, haven't touched the Pearls of Great Price, or the Doctrine and Covenants. But, I have had a chance to dialog with Mormons over the past two months, which has been invaluable. A historian can look back on words which were written, and judge a people, but reality lays in dialog with people.
I am skeptical of the history which is presented by Mormonism. I don't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, but I also don't know why he did what he did. Maybe it was a power, control issue, maybe he thought it was a good way to make money. Maybe he really believed what he preached. While I don't believe Indians are descendants from a family from Israel, who came to America in 590 BCE, I do like some of the messages from Mormonism. The call to moderation, messages about equality, reluctance to fight war, are all positive. While these messages appear in Mormonism, they are practiced differently, and often reiterated each Sunday, because passions can drive you to intolerance, addiction, or violence. While I'm not going to become a teetotaler, I do think moderation, for lots of things, is good. It can keep you balanced.
I have no idea when the show will be on, but it'll be on MTN, so you can only watch it in Minneapolis.