I just finished reading "Joseph Smith: "Rough Stone Rolling" . . . which I found highly interesting and full of new details and historical nuances about the founder of Mormonism and that religions beginnings. It is written by an LDS scholar, and so, is more than fair giving the best possible gloss on Smith and the early church . . . but reveals many facts that I suspect "the church" would have rather still kept in the dark. A couple of things I had not really known about early Mormonism was that it started out as a rather intensely "charismatic" church. One of the early selling points that the first missionaries held out to potential new members was that the "gifts of the spirit" had been restored and "the church" was a "spiritual movement" that produced "speaking in tongues" . . . "miraculous instantaneous healings" . . . "exorcisms" . . . "visions", "dreams" and "revelations from God". . . . The Mormon temple was billed by Joseph to be a place where the "saints" could expect to see and meet and commune with God "in the flesh"; the temple being a place where Smith said that "finally Jesus will have a place to rest his head."
Probably most enlightening to me in the read, however, was getting a much clearer picture of the personality of Joseph Smith and his closest comrades who brought about "the restored gospel."
Towards the end of my study on that early LDS history I also began to look into Scientology--one of the few cults/religions that I had never yet really looked at or studied.
And what is striking me is the similarities between the two modern "religions" and respective founders, Smith and and L. Ron Hubbard.
And what I am seeing overall is that type of personality and inclination, running full tilt in either of them--but which is also running in all of us to varying degrees!
Both men had an early-in-life longing to be extraordinary. Visions and fantasy of personal, world-changing grandeur typified their messiah-like complexes. Both were insecure and desperately craved to be respected, revered, and acknowledged as possessing traits and a purpose that went far beyond the "average" person. Both were sexual predators, adulterers, drawn to minor-aged women, married women, and attempted to devise "spiritual" rituals connected to sex to justify their philandering personalities. Both were tellers of tall tales--able to spell-bind listeners with fantastic stories, although Hubbard must take the cake for sheer audacity and prolificness of the pathological lies he foisted on those around him concerning virtually every part of his life and history.
Both Smith and Hubbard claimed to receive their special "revelations" from a supernatural being--Smith, from the "angel Moroni" . . . Hubbard from a female being he called his "guardian angel".
Both men tended toward paranoia . . . and were each unable to tolerate criticism; each could become extremely volatile when crossed, resorting to violence if needed when they lashed out at their enemies.
And the list goes on as far as the similarities in personality; we are dealing with a definite arch-type here . . . which I am seeing to varying degrees in all kinds of charismatic leaders and the groups (cults) they end up producing.
I would also say that both Scientology and the LDS church are rackets--financial rackets as you must "pay-to-play" in either of them, although Scientology's system of purchasing "spiritual enlightenment" and progress is most insidious, diabolical, blatant, and darkly controlling. In either case, however, the bottom line is . . . if you don't pay up to the organization . . . you cannot advance to the "highest" levels. . . .
Scientology is the most overtly controlling of the two (controlling over members) . . . and the most blatantly obviously mind-control (also body control as they actually keep members in gulags of sorts, preventing them interacting with the "outside" world . . . and they differ markedly on the way they view and treat family. One of the most wicked of Scientology's aspects, (among the many) is how it's leaders coerce and promote abortion among its members. That, and the splitting up of families, separating small children from their parents . . . are to me the most heinous of its practices. . . .
Anyway, there will likely be more on this--especially my study of the personality types and arch-types that make up someone like a Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard . . . and Muhammad (who is also quite similar in his character, history and resulting "new" religion).
Xenu: Xenu also called "Xemu", was, according to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, the dictator of the "Galactic Confederacy" who 75 billion years ago brought billions of his people to Earth (then known as "Teegeeack") in a DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes, and killed them with hydrogen bombs. Official Scientology scriptures hold that the thetans (immortal spirits) of these aliens adhere to humans, causing spiritual harm.
Kolob: Kolob is a star or planet described in Mormon scripture. Reference to Kolob is found in the Book of Abraham, a work that is traditionally held by adherents of the Mormon faith as having been translated from an Egyptian papyrus scroll by Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement. According to this work, Kolob is the heavenly body nearest to the throne of God.