I like Michael’s post about seer stones.
There was, of course, a time when talk of Joseph Smith and seer stones sent shivers up and down the spines of Mormons. (No doubt it still does for some.) It seems to me that we have gone through a couple of stages with this and related issues. First was denial. As I recall (only Mormon legal history in my office; sorry), Hugh Nibley once wrote an essay vociferously claiming that any suggestion that Joseph Smith had a connection with folk magic was a nasty and ignorant slur. Oops. Denial was followed by a period of intellectual angst. For some this has meant exit from the Church. “How could a prophet be involved in such things!” For most Mormons with an interest in peepstones, however, I suspect that the response was more along the lines of, “I now know the dark secrets of the past, but I will still hang on despite the crushing feelings of isolation in my esoteric knowledge.” Then we get analysis, Richard Bushman trying to delineate out magic from revelation and providing us with a narrative of gradual abandonment. (There are reasons to suppose that Joseph never quite “escaped” magical thinking with the neatness that Bushman suggested.)
Finally, we get theological domestication. Rather than denying seer stones, stewing in them, or trying to explain them away to the margins of the story, we embrace them and find ways of integrating them into our understanding of the Restoration and the ways that God reveals himself to man. (For my own attempt along these lines read this.) They remain an anachronism to be sure. (I have yet to meet a modern member who actually has a seer stone, but I would like to. More to the point, I want a seer stone!) But now they become an anachronism more akin to handcarts or oxen; something that we don’t use or do anymore, but which can nevertheless live on as a character in the stories that we tell one another about the gospel. I have my doubt about this as academic history, but it strikes me as very good theology.