Tal BackmanAs many of you know, for the past few years documentarian Helen Whitney (Emmy Award, Peabody Award, Oscar nomination, the Humanitas Award, and the prestigious duPont-Columbia Journalism Award) has been working on a documentary for PBS Frontline on the LDS Church/Mormonism. I first met Helen at last year’s Sunstone Salt Lake symposium, where I saw her interviewing Grant Palmer for the documentary, among many other “Sunstoneites.”

Well, for the past year, the perception on anti-Mormon boards (and even FAIR) has been that the upcoming documentary was going to be a “hatchet job” on Mormonism.

Today, while listening to a recent interview w/ musician and anti-Mormon Tal Bachman (around time code 37:50), Tal revealed that he has the opposite impression about the documentary–that Helen Whitney is actually very, very pro-LDS church. This is based on his own dinner w/ Ms. Whitney, and his participation in the documentary process.

Anyway, this segment of the interview is interesting, for those interested. It definitely was a surprise to me.

Personally, I hope the documentary is fair, and respectful–and honest. Though I must admit (form personal experience) that this is a hard balance to strike. :)

266 Comments

  1. Mike Parker July 25, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    John D.:

    Tal revealed that he has the opposite impression about the documentary–that Helen Whitney is actually very, very pro-LDS church.

    This is certainly a matter of perspective. Based on Bachman’s postings on RfM, it is obvious that he sees everyone who does not think the Church is a dishonest, soul-destroying, evil organization as “pro-LDS.” Those who are striving for balance — or even are looking for a little dirt — don’t go far enough.

    Ten minutes reading random posts on RfM will demonstrate the veracity of what I’ve suggested.

  2. Daniel Peterson July 25, 2006 at 6:34 pm

    I’ve been interviewed by Helen Whitney, too. At least twice, and at considerable length. My impression is that she’s both fair and sympathetic. I look forward to the final product.

    I wish I could say half as much of Tal Bachman.

  3. CraigBa! July 25, 2006 at 11:32 pm

    If Frontline is positive about The Church that really won’t come as a surprise to me: they’re Frontline; they’re liberals; they love ideas that don’t make sense. The less sense they make, the better.

    That is the most negative thing I’ll ever say on this site about The Church.

    Maybe…

  4. FreeAtLast July 26, 2006 at 1:19 am

    For the record, what constitutes an ‘anti-Mormon’? Were retired CES Director Grant Palmer and BYU Professor Dr. D. Michael Quinn acting as ‘anti-Mormons’ when they wrote about Mormon history, providing people with information that significantly conflicted with the church’s version of its history? Would someone please define ‘anti-Mormon’ for me?

    Regarding Tal Bachman, he’s intelligent and friendly, and has a great sense of humor and a gift for writing and performing songs. I met him for the first time last Oct. at the Ex-Mormon Conference in SLC. He and his wife both spoke eloquently about their strong connection to the church from childhood, what they’d enjoyed about being Mormons, and how difficult it was for them to leave the church.

    Why did they do so? Tal said that the more he tried to defend Mormonism and the more studying he did to that end, the more facts he learned that did not support what he’d been taught by the church. As it is for many Latter-Day Saints, there were simply too many things about Mormonism that didn’t add up in the final analysis. Tal said that after much soul-searching, he concluded that in good conscience, he could no longer support the LDS Church with his participation, time, energy, and money. He’d been sharing the facts that he’d been learning with his wife, who left the church when she felt it was right to do so.

    We each live according to what we value the most. Tal and his wife, whom some Latter-Day Saints would regard as ‘apostates’ and ‘anti-Mormons’, made a very difficult and life-changing decision based on what they valued greatly: truth. It often takes great courage for people, like the Bachmans who are ‘fully active’, temple-married, and have a lifetime of experience in Mormonism, to leave the LDS Church. Yet thousands do every year. Latter-Day Saints don’t understand that it takes a great deal of personal integrity to end one’s participation (and often, membership) in the LDS Church.

  5. High Rum July 26, 2006 at 6:30 am

    [q]This is certainly a matter of perspective. Based on Bachman’s postings on RfM, it is obvious that he sees everyone who does not think the Church is a dishonest, soul-destroying, evil organization as “pro-LDS.”[\q]
    To be fair, Tal talks in the first part of this interview about how many Mormons do a lot of good. Mike and I basically had to remind him why we thought Mormonism does more harm that good … we DO (and have in the past) mention many times how much we loved the church, how it was everything to us, etc. etc. Being fair and balanced, for me was being honest with myself and I had to stop remembering the hits and forgetting the misses. Anyway … hi John! How are things going? Is it as hot in Logan as it is down here in Davis Co.?

  6. Mike Parker July 26, 2006 at 10:40 am

    For those who are inclined to believe FreeAtLast’s assertion that Tal Bachman is just your typical nice guy with integrity and a great sense of humor, here are some recent examples of Bachman’s public writings:

    * 16 July 06: LDS general authorities are insane megalomaniacs. Church headquarters is an insane asylum with good grooming and nice clothing. Mormon leaders are “spiritual Stalinists.” “[T]hey actually claim that God has made them dictators over the mind, heart, and spirit — word and deed and conscience and life and potentially everything — of every single human being on this planet, Mormon or not. They must be nuts, or megalomaniacs. They seem no different than Osama-loving Muslim clerics, or the crazy man in the asylum.”

    * 16 July 06: Mormon leaders practice “spiritual Stalinism.” “[T]hey ought to be regarded as either megalomaniacs or total loons.”

    * 18 July 06: Because Gordon B. Hinckley “hasn’t repudiated [the] idea [that he is the world’s rightful dictator]…[that] leaves him vulnerable to being aptly characterized as either inhumanly arrogant or just plain kookoo.”

    * 21 July 06: A fake news story composed by Bachman about Bill Marriott, Jr. opening brothels inside Marriott hotels. (Warning: Offensive sexual content.)

    These are typical of the level of discourse at the “Recovery from Mormonism” web board. Ten minutes reading random posts on RfM easily demonstrates the hatred, filth, and bile that is constantly spewed by its denizens at the Saints and the Church.

    Tal Bachman may be “intelligent and friendly, [with] a great sense of humor and a gift for writing and performing songs,” but he is also a very angry extremist who is unwilling to see anything but dark conspiracies and Stalinist personalities among the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ.

  7. CraigBa! July 26, 2006 at 11:51 am

    Mike,

    Characterizing Bachman as an “angry extremist” is a little unfair. He didn’t come off that way in his interview – he’s clearly well informed about church history and has given alot of thought about what he believes. If in his remarks he occasionally goes for the slam dunk, who am I too blame him?

    I never felt very bitter towards the Church when I left; but then I left pretty early in life. I kept putting off a mission, mostly because of my doubts, and never got around to going on one. I never personally invested myself in the thing the way Bachman had.

    The irony is that if I feel any bitterness, I didn’t start to feel it until I moved back to Utah – about three years ago. I dated a girl whose (very large) family was Mormon. Nearly all of them had served missions, and her brother was a bishop. They had barely met me, and yet, except for her father, they all disapproved of me – because I wasn’t a believer. I’m no Cary Grant, but I had never experienced *that* before.

    The experience with her reminded me of another experience back in high school that was equally cruel. We had just had our regional representative come give a fireside talk on “For the Strength of Youth.” In fact, I had to give a talk at that fireside, as well. His take on that pamphlet was that you shouldn’t date non-Mormons, period. Not just date as in “go steady with,” but date as in “go out with.” He even related a story about homely-looking girl who was told to turn down a guy because he wasn’t Mormon. The girl would probably never get married, ‘but she would be blessed in the afterlife.’ What a load of complete rubbish! If you think the Church doesn’t do damage, think first of these people.

    But the story related by the Regional Rep wasn’t just some lame fireside homily: it took on personal meaning just about a week later, when a friend of mine was standing at my locker asking me if I’d go with her to the Prom. I was a junior, totally inept with girls, and really had no desire to go. She was a senior, very intelligent, but short and rotund, like an Ewok. She’d probably never been asked out in her life.

    What was I supposed to say? I hadn’t just been told not to date non-members – I had been the youth speaker. Wouldn’t I look like a hypocrite? Maybe deep down I didn’t want to go with her, but I know for a fact that I would’ve gone if it hadn’t been for that fireside. When I told her “No,” I could see tears welling up in her eyes.

    So, no harm done? I don’t usually use language like Bachman. I’m not in for decorum. I prefer for a liar to be called a liar. In the modern world, where we are surrounded by Liars, with a capital L, we vilify not the Liar, but the man who points out that he is Lying. Because having it pointed out that you’re a Liar is rather embarrasing, no? And, even worse, there are lots of Liars in high places: they own businesses and newspapers, and run important institutions (like churches), and hold elective office.

    (News story: a few months ago the Senate voted 83-16 to build a wall on the Mexican border to deal with our immigration problem. Just last week they voted 79-21 *not to fund the wall.* 54 senators who said they were for a wall voted against the funding for it, including 4 Mormon senators. But don’t call them liars – that’s rude.)

    The reason I don’t use such language isn’t because it’s inappropriate, but because it’s counterproductive. I don’t go around trying to unconvert people from the Church, but if people ask meI’ll tell ’em. My mom asked me – on her birthday. That conversation lasted about 30 seconds. She didn’t want to hear all the facts about the Church. That’s the way most people are. They mtay have their doubts, but they guard them like Fort Knox.

  8. FreeAtLast July 26, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    My assessment of Tal was based on the man I saw and heard at the conference. I read few of his (and other people’s) posts on the RfM website (due to a lack of time more than anything else).

    People rant on the RfM website (it’s therapeutic) just like people rank against the government, their employer, boss, etc. The language might seem extreme, but as High Rum noted, Tal said in the first part of the interview about how many Mormons do a lot of good, so clearly the guy is mindful of the good aspects of being a member of the LDS Church, as well as the dysfunctional aspects of Mormonism.

    As John pointed out in another of his podcasts, many members feel anger toward the church after learning that the ‘package’ of information about Joseph Smith, early church history, and other aspects of Mormonism that the church provided to them was significantly different from the truth.

    Why the anger? Because no one likes to be used, even if it is for ‘good’ reasons (the rationale of senior church leaders, no doubt, to justify the church’s continual dissemination and reinforcement of only ‘faith-building’ info. about Smith, early church history, etc.).

    Feeling anger toward the LDS Church and Mormon patriarchy for abusing people’s truth/faith is a key part of recovering from Mormonism. It provides the emotional intensity needed to break free psychologically from the controlling and otherwise unhealthy aspects of the LDS Church, religion, and collective. Once they’ve worked through the anger, people are able to judge Mormonism more objectively.

  9. CraigBa! July 26, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    I don’t know how much anger is appropriate. Feel too much anger and it can control your mind. Too little, and we don’t get websites like Mormon Stories, RfM, or The Church is Not True, etc.

    I personally never felt much need to be angry when I left the Church. I just let it go. Tal was asked how much time he spent in an average week thinking about the Church nowadays. I forget his answer, but I remember thinking that for me it was maybe 5 minutes, except for John’s podcasts. Before Mormon Stories, it was perhaps 30 seconds. Just before I left the Church it was probably 10-20 hours.

  10. Mike Parker July 26, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    Generally speaking, most people are nice when they’re in the public spotlight. They know they’re being watched, and they put their public face on.

    But give them a chance to talk privately (or in a forum they assume is private) with people who think and feel like they do, and their true feelings come out.

    Tal Bachman may be very nice, kind, and personable when interviewed, or at a public conference, but get him on RfM and the “true” man comes out. He may say Mormons are nice people in a podcast interview, but his own comments on RfM — and I gave only a few; there are scores like those — show that he feels Mormons are robotic, brainwashed morons and Mormon leaders are evil dictators in the mold of Stalin, Hitler, and Osama bin Ladin.

    Like “FreeAtLast,” he assumes that Mormon leaders are lying to and using the rank and file. No prospect is entertained that they could be sincere but mistaken, or just emphasizing the wrong things, or perhaps oversimplifying difficult issues. No — they are lying, manipulative megalomaniacs intent on controlling the lives and thoughts of all Mormons, with intents on expanding that control to the entire world.

    Calling Bachman an “angry extremist” is not unfair; in fact, it’s going easy on him. He may be intelligent, and he may be pleasant in person, but his private conduct tells us much more about him than the public.

  11. Mike Parker July 26, 2006 at 3:14 pm

    One other thing:

    LDS apologists are frequently excoriated for being mean and nasty, for making nothing but personal attacks against their critics, and for demonizing those who have left the Church.

    I have worked closely with FAIR for several years now, and I can guarantee you that if any FAIR volunteer or representative made remarks about ex-Mormons that Tal Bachman has made about LDS leaders, he would be censured by FAIR’s leadership and removed from the organization if he did not apologize and refrain from such comments in the future.

    Moreover, I would not want to associate myself with an individual who had made such ad hominem — and potentially libelous — remarks. And yet Tal Bachman is welcomed and adulated as something of a celebrity among the RfM faithful. This nonsense about his remarks being justified as a part of some sort of “recovering” from the “unhealthy aspects of the LDS Church” are a lame excuse for tolerating childish, heinous behavior.

  12. Daniel Peterson July 26, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    I’ve never met Tal Bachman, and have not directly encountered his alleged kindness, niceness, or sense of humor. All that I can go by is what he’s posted, which includes such personal favorites as these:

    “We all owe a debt of gratitude . . . to men like . . . Dan Peterson. . . who have done so much over the past decade to expose their own total averageness (and I might say that that’s putting it charitably).” [26 July 2005, RfM]

    “Write this on your hand in Nibley cryptogram: ‘Fact – my mortal foe’. Pretend you work at FARMS or something for a second. Just forget facts exist.” [23 November 2005, RfM]

    “I remain a huge fan of Daniel Peterson’s. I can’t think of anyone else over there, with perhaps the exception of Midgley, who so consistently makes the church, and Mormon belief, look idiotic.” [13 March 2006, RfM]

    “Peterson still seems bewildered and hurt when people observe that he focuses so often on everything but what is really at issue, in his poor, mad scribblings. . . . If we had any doubt the church was a fraud, that it actually has guys like DCP ‘defending’ it should confirm it beyond any doubt.” [8 June 2006, RfM])

    “I would like them to speak and publish as much as possible, because their stuff strikes everyone but totally gone Mormons as bloody daft. I don’t know of any way to better illustrate to people that there is something profoundly screwed-up with Joseph’s church than to show them Mormon apologetic writing. That’s one big fat difference between me and them: They’d shut all of us up forever if they could, whereas I’d put Dan Peterson and Gee and the other dudes over there on TV as much as possible, especially with sharp interviewers. To most people, they sound like madmen.” [31 March 2006, RfM]

    But my favorite Bachmanism has always been his contention that I’m a “sociopath.”

    Moreover, despite my repeated protests, he has repeatedly and falsely described me as a postmodernist who does not believe in objective reality and who has relegated Mormon truth claims to some netherworld of metaphor beyond the reach of evidence and logic, and he has claimed that I told him, when he asked whether, if the Church were false, I would want to know, that I would not want to know. This is blatantly untrue. (He has made a similar claim about my friend Louis Midgley who, like me, gave precisely the opposite answer. He makes these claims on a board where I am forbidden to respond. )

  13. John Dehlin July 26, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    That\’s too bad, Dr. Peterson. And I admit that I\’ve been upset at you and Dr. Midgley at times–which I\’m working really hard to get over.

    I just get upset when, in the discussion of mormonism, people\’s faith or commitment or integrity get called into question inappropriately. I know it\’s a tough balance.

    These statements by Tal are unfortunate. I\’m gonna work really hard to do my small part to help encourage a healthier discourse within Mormonism.

    Again–I\’m sorry for the past statements I\’ve made in anger, and I appreciate your willingness to still engage.

    I do hope we can move beyond the personal negativity stuff…into a more productive dialogue.

  14. Ted July 26, 2006 at 4:36 pm

    Mike and Dan, Are you guys keeping a file on Bachman? Are you saving his posts at RfM? I agree that he is an angry apostate and that the RfM message board is a complete waste of anyone’s time, regardless of one’s orientation toward the church. But I think it would be creepy if you guys are actually preparing dossiers on people that post there.

  15. Mike Parker July 26, 2006 at 5:01 pm

    I don’t keep anything from Tal Bachman, but I regularly read the things he posts at RfM.

    The four examples I gave earlier in this thread were ones I came up with just by searching for posts from him on the RfM web site. He’s written worse stuff; those were just a handful of nasties I could find with about 5 minutes of effort.

  16. FreeAtLast July 26, 2006 at 7:05 pm

    Ted wrote: “the RfM message board is a complete waste of anyone’s time, regardless of one’s orientation toward the church.”

    I couldn’t disagree more. Before Recovery from Mormonism went online in 1996, to the best of my knowledge, there was no Internet-based forum in which people with experience in the LDS Church could anonymously express how they truly felt about Mormonism without fear of church disciplinary action or negative judgments and withdrawal of approval by the LDS community.

    The fact that the RfM website has grown over the past decade to 150,000+ hits and approx. 1,000 posts per day is indicative of the need that Mormons have had for a long time to communicate their personal reality which would not have been tolerated at church or in many LDS families (e.g., Mormons’ doubts about church teachings that were not supported by scientific or historical facts).

    The RfM website has been on the leading edge of an online revolution involving Mormonism. It’s provided an Internet-based community that has helped countless people break the psychological ‘chains’ of religion-induced fear, shame, and guilt, and go on to discover who they really are. RfM has been a tremendous resource for many thousands of Latter-Day Saints who had nowhere else to turn to express their truth.

  17. Daniel Peterson July 26, 2006 at 8:02 pm

    Thanks, John.

    TED: “Are you guys keeping a file on Bachman? Are you saving his posts at RfM?”

    I’ve saved a few that I’ve read. Not systematically. I probably won’t ever do anything with them — I can’t think of anything that I wOULD do with them (except, as I’ve sometimes done, to put them as “signatures” on e-mails to amused [or bemused] friends) — but I find such over-the-top personal nastiness (toward someone who’s never even MET him) oddly fascinating, indeed downright weird.

    TED: “I agree that he is an angry apostate and that the RfM message board is a complete waste of anyone’s time, regardless of one’s orientation toward the church.”

    Quite true.

    TED: “But I think it would be creepy if you guys are actually preparing dossiers on people that post there.”

    Preparing DOSSIERS?

    Funny. Some of the folks on RfM like to imagine vast espionage conspiracies directed against them, some of which involve ME.

    I’m too DISORGANIZED to maintain “dossiers” on anybody.

    Relax.

  18. atheistbug23 July 26, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    that was rad.

  19. Ted July 26, 2006 at 9:57 pm

    RfM has been a tremendous resource for many thousands of Latter-Day Saints who had nowhere else to turn to express their truth.

    The RfM board is seething with hatred. The most scandalous accusations and outrageous hearsay stories about church leaders are taken as fact. Try logging on and saying anything remotely positive about Mormonism and see what happens. They have gone so far as to suppress any discussion of politics or other potentially divisive topics in order to keep the posters focused on their derision of Mormonism. I do not like many of the church’s positions on issues, and I do not think that Mormonism has unique authority or a stronger claim on being the true church than any other, but I continue to love my Mormon family and resent it when people intimate that they are stupid, deluded, psychotic, or duplicitous. If the people on RfM would treat Mormons half as well as the church’s critics are treated on the FAIR boards (which is sometimes shoddy), then I might agree that RfM has value.

  20. enochville July 26, 2006 at 10:50 pm

    It is a good thing that RfM isn’t the only place for the disaffected to go on the web. I am not comfortable there and do not spend much if anytime there. That is not to mention how awful and tedious the format is.

    I think it is appropriate to rant and vent from time to time in a safe place. But, it can be overdone and gross exaggeration can be off putting.

    Sometimes hurting people just need support and understanding and help in sorting through their feelings and I am glad the disaffected have a place to go far from the RfM.

  21. CraigBa! July 27, 2006 at 12:09 am

    “[On RfM] the most scandalous accusations and outrageous hearsay stories about church leaders are taken as fact. Try logging on and saying anything remotely positive about Mormonism and see what happens.” – Ted

    It’s the aura of secrecy that the Church maintains that feeds that beast, though, and the fact that not only do they not mention these things in Sunday school, but they actively try to keep mention of it out of their “faith promoting” literature. Hearsay? You mean like Joseph Smith’s 33 wives?

  22. Eric July 27, 2006 at 2:20 am

    It’s the aura of secrecy that the Church maintains that feeds that beast, though, and the fact that not only do they not mention these things in Sunday school, but they actively try to keep mention of it out of their “faith promoting” literature.

    Quoted for flippin’ truth.

  23. Mike Parker July 27, 2006 at 9:45 am

    Let me see if I understand this correctly:

    Because the Church does not put into its devotional material those items you believe should be in there, it is therefore acceptable to participate in a web board where Church leaders are compared to mass-murdering dictators and believing friends and family members are called mindless robots or hypocritical liars?

    For the record, books that discuss Joseph Smith’s polygamy are widely available at Church-owned Deseret Book, including Richard Bushman’s recent biography, which was prominently displayed and marketed by said book chain.

    Sunday school, Priesthood, and Relief Society materials are devotional in nature, and are designed to increase dedication to and performance in gospel principles like service, prayer, and fasting. These materials focus on concepts that the Saints can apply in their own lives today. For example, the Sunday School lesson on Doctrine and Covenants 132 discusses eternal marriage, and completely avoids anything having to do with plural marriage.

    As a Gospel Doctrine teacher who loves Church history and doctrine, I personally wish there was more time and attention to discussion of purely historical detail. I try to slip some of those things into my lessons (I personally brought up Joseph Smith’s polygamy last year). But if you think that discussion of arcane historical details is the purpose of Sunday School, allow me to disabuse you of that notion.

    “Emphasis on X” is not the same thing as “cover-up of Y.”

  24. CraigBa! July 27, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    “Because the Church does not put into its devotional material those items you believe should be in there, it is therefore acceptable to participate in a web board where Church leaders are compared to mass-murdering dictators and believing friends and family members are called mindless robots or hypocritical liars?”

    For starters, I wasn’t defending *everything* that gets posted at those sites. I don’t even read those sites. I left the Church in February of ’96, before any of those sites were probably even in existence.

    But Mike, have you even been paying attention? Have you listened to John’s podcasts? The ones where he talks about his crisis of faith, where he learns all of the incontrovertible facts of the church that he somehow never managed to learn in Sunday School or priesthood or at BYU? John’s one very smart dude. How could he not have learned or heard of that over 30+ years?

    Of course I don’t expect all of the negative material to crop up in the Sunday School manuals. But those manuals, and the church leaders, go even farther than that, acting as though controversy didn’t even exist, and activley discouraging people from even seeking out the truth.

  25. CraigBa! July 27, 2006 at 1:14 pm

    “For the record, books that discuss Joseph Smith’s polygamy are widely available at Church-owned Deseret Book, including Richard Bushman’s recent biography, which was prominently displayed and marketed by said book chain.”

    Prominently displayed and marketed *when?* 20 years ago, when you couldn’t easily discover that information on the internet, as you can today?

    I’m guessing no.

    Smith’s polygamy is an undisputed fact, but Church devitional materials not only fail to mention it, but they act as if Emma was Smith’s only wife.

  26. Nat Whilk July 27, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    CraigBa!:

    Are you too young (or too old) to remember what was going on 20 years ago? Deseret Book was not only marketing but publishing books that discussed Joseph Smith’s polygamy at the time. (E.g., _The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith_, published by Deseret Book in 1984.)

  27. Nat Whilk July 27, 2006 at 2:10 pm

    Other examples of publications by Deseret Book proving CraigBa!’s guess to be wrong are _The Story of the Latter-day Saints_ (1986), _The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith_ (1985), and _Far West Record_ (1983).

  28. John Dehlin July 27, 2006 at 2:15 pm

    Did Deseret Book sell Mormon Enigma when it came out?

  29. Mike Parker July 27, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    For starters, I wasn’t defending *everything* that gets posted at those sites. I don’t even read those sites. I left the Church in February of ‘96, before any of those sites were probably even in existence.

    I’m glad you don’t hang out at RfM. It’s an ugly, filthy place.

    But Mike, have you even been paying attention? Have you listened to John’s podcasts? The ones where he talks about his crisis of faith, where he learns all of the incontrovertible facts of the church that he somehow never managed to learn in Sunday School or priesthood or at BYU? John’s one very smart dude. How could he not have learned or heard of that over 30+ years?

    I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t read anything outside of Church manuals. There’s much to know about early Church leaders and events that’s not in Church manuals, but my observation is that most members don’t like to read much of anything, let alone boring historical texts. (Sadly, bibliophobia seems to be affecting great portions of Western society.)

    People who don’t read don’t learn. And when suddenly things are sprung upon them that they were too lazy to go find out, they are baffled why anyone didn’t tell them earlier.

    (Just to clarify: I’m not accusing John of being lazy or a non-reader; I’m simply saying that my observation is that most members just aren’t interested in drinking more than the milk they’re given in Sunday School. But that isn’t the fault of Church leaders.)

    Of course I don’t expect all of the negative material to crop up in the Sunday School manuals. But those manuals, and the church leaders, go even farther than that, acting as though controversy didn’t even exist, and activley discouraging people from even seeking out the truth.

    “Actively discouraging”? Please give me one quote from a general authority or Church manual that says “Don’t read anything not published by the Church!”

    On the contrary, here’s Gordon B. Hinckley saying exactly the opposite:

    “As I have already mentioned, from the beginning of this work there has been opposition. There have been apostates. There have been scholars, some with balance and others with an axe to grind, who have raked over every bit of evidence available concerning Joseph Smith, the prophet of this dispensation. I plead with you, do not let yourselves be numbered among the critics, among the dissidents, among the apostates. That does not mean that you cannot read widely. As a Church, we encourage gospel scholarship and the search to understand all truth. Fundamental to our theology is belief in individual freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression. Constructive discussion is a privilege of every Latter-day Saint.” (source)

    Whatever happened to “the glory of God is intelligence” and “whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection”?

    But all of a sudden, with the explosion of the Internet, we have bunch of people who’ve never bothered to learn anything about the gospel outside of Church being exposed to things they should have learned, but without the context or background to absorb it properly. So they go off the deep end, thinking they’ve been lied to, when in reality they shirked their responsibility to learn Church history.

    Alexander Pope had it right:

    A little learning is a dangerous thing;
    Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
    There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
    And drinking largely sobers us again.

  30. John Dehlin July 27, 2006 at 4:45 pm

    I’m not sure how to wade through all this, but I’ll approach it this way:

    It seems to me that it is ethical, and maybe even in the Church’s long term best interest to proactively ensure that every member of the church, and every investigator, knows at least the following about its history:

    –Joseph Smith had 33 wives, some of them being married to other men’s wives
    –Joseph Smith publicly denied that he was practicing polygamy, and this fact, along w/ the destruction of the printing press, were important factors in his martyrom.
    –The Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham were not “translated” in the traditional sense of the word, but instead were “inspired” works. The BOM plates were likely not used in the BOM that we have today.
    –Black men were ordained to the LDS priesthood early on, but then were denied it for over 100 years, and some unfortunately racist statements were made by past prophets/apostles in this regard that are not to be considered church doctrine in any way
    –etc. etc.

    If the church were to take the responsibility to proactively make sure that people learned this stuff growing up, or when they were investigating the church, then we would not have the shock and awe that many experience today.

    We talk so much about our history in church publications, talks, etc. Full and proactive disclosure of these basic facts (reminded regularly) would certainly solve this problem, no?

    It might introduce other problems, but at least everyone would be in the loop. Today, I can promise you that over 1/2 of the church is out of the loop on these basic facts, and it is becoming a problem for many. You can say that this isn’t the church’s responsibility, but I would disagree with you.

    I believe that it is the open, honest, and responsible thing to do. We don’t have to dwell on these issues, but people should at least be made aware of them proactively.

  31. enochville July 27, 2006 at 4:56 pm

    Throughout the past few days I have been biting my tongue because I don’t want to turn this discussion into a battle, but I am so sick and tired of apologists saying that, “the church has not hid its history, if anyone doesn’t know its history it is because they have not looked”.

    Let’s see: the church denies access to the Council of Fifty notes and only lets a few select apologist have access to color copies of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers. Hickley tried to cover up his involvement with Hoffman when the Salt Lake bombings were being investigated. Joseph hid some of his plural marriages from Emma. The Church hid the fact that plural marriages were still being solemnized a decade after Wilford Woodruff says that they are no longer being performed. Grant Palmer has been disfellowshipped and others have been ex’d for exposing truths the church would rather keep hid. And on and on and on.

    Then you have wonderful quotes like this from Dallin Oaks: “My duty as a member of the Council of the Twelve is to protect what is most unique about the LDS church, namely the authority of priesthood, testimony regarding the restoration of the gospel, and the divine mission of the Savior. Everything may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those essential facts. Thus, if Mormon Enigma reveals information that is detrimental to the reputation of Joseph Smith, then it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of its authors.” (Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon, Introduction p. xliii f28)

  32. Mike Parker July 27, 2006 at 5:53 pm

    John,

    Although I disagree with the conclusions you’ve come to in some of the items in your list (I don’t think things are so cut-and-dried on the translation and priesthood issues), I agree that the Church would be doing itself a favor if it were a little more forthcoming about some of the more controversial elements of its history.

    I think the Brethren believe that dealing with basic issues of love, charity, service, prayer, fasting, FHE, purity, etc. are more important than knowing awkward details from Church history, so they spend their finite time and effort on the former.

    FWIW, when I taught the martyrdom in last year’s Gospel Doctrine class, I discussed the Nauvoo Expositor incident and its revelations of Joseph’s plural marriages. I even created a PowerPoint presentation that had scanned portions of my Expositor reprint that were large enough for the class to read.

    Enochville,

    Your list of “cover-ups” is full of exaggerations, distortions, and half-truths.

  33. Remy July 27, 2006 at 8:08 pm

    Your list of “cover-ups” is full of exaggerations, distortions, and half-truths.

    This statement is dismissive and perhaps even a bordering on disrespectful. Enochville supported his assertion that the Church has a tendency to whitewash its history with specific (and certainly controversial) examples, and I encourage readers to verify for themselves by looking into the ones he provided.

    I think that the focus on faith-promoting history is driven by a number of concerns. One is the growth and internationalization of the Church and the corresponding need to simplify and correlate curriculum for a global church. By administrative necessity, the leadership caters to the host of recent converts and not to the comparatively few sophisticated and entrenched members. I agree with Mike that this means the Church chooses to spend its resources teaching the basics. Unfortunately this leaves those who do encounter problems with the history with few resources. Also, it’s easy to justify watering down and transforming the historical narratives in the name of the faith of the masses, rather than responding to the demands of the handful of intellectuals for a more honest history with its inevitable problems.

    Another motivation is the focus on public image. The Church has an fine-tuned awareness of public perception (esp. under President Hinckley) and has an incredible public relations arm. After decades of terrible PR (esp. in the 19th century), it’s understandable that the Church should be very sensitive to how it is perceived. It is interesting to me that Mormonism can be very forgiving (with some variation from leader to leader) of individual questioning critiques, as long as they are kept private. It is often when these are made public that the Church moves to discipline the critics. Grant Palmer’s book is one example–it took several years of continuing good sales before he received discipline.

    On the other hand, I find it promising that the Church has chosen Elder Marlin K. Jensen to be the head of the historical department. It is approaching projects like the Joseph Smith Papers and the Mountain Meadows Massacre in a refreshingly open manner. I take this as a sign that the Church is trying to respond to the demands of historical accuracy and professional integrity at another level.

    I guess what I’m trying to say in this monster-sized comment is that the Church has different groups with different needs that it’s trying to serve, and sometimes it has to choose. There’s real risk involved as well. It doesn’t matter if the source is RfM, Mormon Stories or the Church itself; revealing historical problems will result in the loss of some members. But I think that the members who chose to wrestle with these issues would be better served by the Church and by Church-friendly communities (like Mormon Stories) than by anti-Mormon groups.

  34. John Dehlin July 27, 2006 at 8:44 pm

    Mike Parker,

    You are my hero of a Sunday School teacher. Bless you. Bless you. Where can I move to get you?

  35. Louis Midgley July 27, 2006 at 9:12 pm

    I noticed the following remark by John Dehlin: “That’s too bad, Dr. Peterson. And I admit that I’ve been upset at you and Dr. Midgley at times–which I’m working really hard to get over.” Of course, I hope that John is having some success in sheding his negative emotions about Dan and me. Be that as it may, I find this remark rather odd. I have, I believe, never met John Dehlin or communicated with him. He can correct me if I am wrong about this. Until after he started complaining about Dan and me, I had never heard of him. Nor had I ever posted on a blog until, I believe, after he started that free-swinging attack on Dan and me and so forth. I have, of course, published some essays. Unless John has been worked up by rumors in the circles he frequents, he would have to be “upset” by something I have published. And that something, if I remember his complaint correctly, is supposed to be driving people out of the Church. I wonder which of my essays is so outlandish, so absurd, that reading or even knowing that it exists, is driving troubled souls out of the Church.

    I believe that this nonsense about what some of us causing people to bolt from the Church flows right out of that dreadful so-called Recovery Board. I suspect that this idea has been picked up from the prattle on that thing–specifically from the diatribes posted by Talmage Bachman. If this is not where John picked up that strange notion, perhaps he would care to explain exactly where he got that dea, and why he is so intent on advancing it.

    If I am not mistaken, I believe that John has some offical position with Sunstone. And from the title of one of John’s threads, one can see that he is a passionate apologist for Sunstone. Can one assume, given his apologetic stance, that his opinions about Dan Peterson and me (and also about the FARMS Review and whoever he includes under the label “apologist”) reflect the current official stance of those at Sunstone? If not, then why not? And what exactly do his associates at Sunstone think of his efforts to apologize for it and for them?

  36. Matt Elggren July 27, 2006 at 9:55 pm

    Actually, last time I check, John was an apologist for the Church…though of the type that many such apologists wouldn’t recognize. They might even confuse him with an apologist for Sunstone given their penchant for failing to recognize Sunstone as not much more than Church apologetics.

    But by this reasoning we could also see Mr Midgley and Mr Peterson as apologists for BYU/FARMS/FAIR rather than the Church. Could it be? I mean, y’all do have “official positions” in one or more of these organizations, correct?

  37. Mike Parker July 27, 2006 at 9:58 pm

    John Remy:

    Although you and I are coming at this subject from different positions, I think your analysis of the situation is very good — as close to the truth as anything I’ve seen.

    A large percentage of the Church is composed of first-generation members. The need to get these people grounded in the basics is enormous.

    Add to that the significant percentage of members who are marginally participating — they are in the Church, but the Church isn’t in them, so to speak. They need to know more of the blessings of activity, of the temple, of service in the kingdom.

    Then there are single adults who are trying to stay chaste and find a worthy person to marry, those who are struggling with spousal abuse, those who have terminal illnesses, those who are going through divorce, those who are raising children in a one-parent home.

    Talking about the Kirtland Egyptian Papers and the Kinderhook Plates doesn’t feed the needs of any of these people.

    I used to be upset that the Ensign had stopped including any articles of scholarly interest (a trend that started in the early 90s and was pretty much sealed 4 or 5 years ago). Only recently did I come to understand that there are many, many people who are struggling with fundamental life issues. They don’t care about Joseph Smith’s polygamy or how the Book of Abraham was translated — they need comfort and hope in their time of despair. So the Ensign caters to them.

    The brethren have (wisely) chosen to spend their limited time reaching those who need spiritual lifting. The comparatively few of us who want to delve into Church history can turn to plenty of sources outside of Church manuals.

    And your comments on the double-edged sword of public affairs is right on target. The Church wants to distance itself from the bizarrely perverse modern polygamist movement, and has chosen to do that by simply saying we have nothing to do with them, and by not talking about historical LDS polygamy. Perhaps they’ve gone overboard, to the extent that it doesn’t even show up in Priesthood manuals about famously polygamist LDS leaders. I wish the pendulum would swing back a little bit.

    But all of this is evidence, to me at least, that the Brethren are simply cautious about how they present the Church to a modern world. Accusing them of lying and covering up — let alone portraying them as megalomaniacal dictators — is simply a gross distortion.

  38. Mike Parker July 27, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    John Dehlin:

    Laguna Hills, California. :-)

  39. John Dehlin July 27, 2006 at 10:28 pm

    Dr. Midgley,

    I was a poly sci student at BYU (’93). Took a class from you. Ate lunch w/ you a few times. Had a 3.96 cum gpa (3.99 in my major). I was also an officer in Pi Sigma Alpha. Feel free to check the records. We’ve met (though I don’t expect you to remember).

    My beliefs and views are my own. I’m new to the Sunstone board, and to Mormon Studies, really….and am on the Sunstone board mostly because of my technology expertise (7 years at Microsoft). Just like FAIR/FARMS, Sunstone is not one belief system, but is an organization comprised of many individuals with varying views. I’ve heard both support and frustration regarding apologetics from my associations there.

    My views on apologetics derrive from a few personal experiences that I won’t go into here. What set me off recently was your questioning of RT’s faith and commitment to the church in your thread with him about Grant Palmer. I believe that you stepped out of line when you did that, and I am not alone in my beliefs.

    I was a member of FAIR’s internal email forum for the past year, and witnessed an unfortunately high degree of character assassination and cynicism there (if you can get permission from them, I’ll share with you some samples). Not anywhere near what I see on RFM, mind you, but given the fact that apologists claim to defend the faith of Christ, I tend to want to hold them to a higher standard. I know that is probably naive and unfair, and I’m learning to disabuse myself of that notion as time goes by.

    I have made tons of mistakes in my life, and getting angry is parhaps at the top of my list. Again–I have been disappointed by the rhetoric used by you and others at times (both by apologists, and anti’s)–but I have also been guilty of rhetoric of my own, and have painted apologists with far too broad a brush.

    I know that in the end, all of us are trying to do what we know to be right.

    So feel free to accept my apologies or not.

    I’ve never met, nor spoken with, nor emailed, nor communicated with Tal in any way, shape or form, for what it’s worth. I rarely, if ever, frequent the rfm boards these days. I find it WAY too angry, critical, and combative. Orders of magnitude worse than anything I’ve experienced w/ FAIR and FARMS, fwiw (though I do have compassion for the disaffected–and work hard not to alienate them unnecessarily).

    I am active LDS, and I teach Elder’s quorum in my ward. I am raising my family in the church, and encourage the disaffected to consider staying with the fold.

    My opinion of FAIR comes from my own personal experiences interacting on the private and public FAIR boards, along w/ the few hundred people I have counseled with as I’ve received feedback from my podcast and blog over the past year.

    Take the criticism for what it’s worth to you. I think we need more love, compassion and understanding, and less anger and heat and argument. This makes me a hypocrite, I know.

    I’m gonna try harder to do my part, and again…I’m sorry to have attacked and offended.

  40. anon July 27, 2006 at 10:33 pm

    so, Louis Midgley,

    is that your way of saying apology not accepted? i find it interesting that instead of trying to build on similarities (or at least accept what appeared to be an apology), you seek to focus on the most negative aspects of this dialogue that you can. it implies something as to your motives and/or character….

    and ‘oddly’, you can’t help but take the opportunity to take a jab at the Recovery Board and Tal Bachman??? is that your MO when people apologize to you???

    APJ

  41. Clark Goble July 27, 2006 at 10:44 pm

    John, I think it’s a bit unfair to judge FAIR by the FAIR boards. I know many have done so but relatively few on it are actually members of FAIR. I personally find it counterproductive but many people feel it is important to have open discussion (as your blog promoted). As soon as you have open discussion you’ll have to allow in people with strong opinions and who haven’t learned the tricks of making impersonal internet communication “less fiery.” (I think it a problem inherent to the medium)

    Regarding Church “secrecy.” I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes the Church worries a tad too much about image and I’d love certain documents to be more easily available. However there are a relative few of these documents. And the typically “cover up” charges made towards the church are on topics that have been widely discussed and aren’t so limited. So I think that Mike’s point about people simply not searching the literature is dead on. I also think it erroneous to tie it simply to the internet. Long before the internet was popular it was fairly easy to find these materials if you put any effort to them. Most of the books, even if your local library doesn’t carry them, are available inter-library loan.

    And if you go to BYU then it is easy easier since BYU carried pretty much all literature (pro, con and anti) related to the Church. I even bought my copy of Mormon Enigma at the bookstore there.

  42. John Dehlin July 27, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    Clark,

    I agree that given the high volume of traffic, the FAIR board has its work cut out for it. I myself am learning to moderate better on this blog, and I know they have it 20x worse.

    I do believe that some of the conduct on the public board reflects poorly on FAIR, however, and I hope (for their reputation\’s sake) that they either find a way to moderate it better, or kill it. Same w/ their internal email alias. The tone that gets set there has a profound ripple effect, I believe.

    Still–I know that there are a ton of swell chaps at FAIR and FARMS, and that rfm is in a different universe of abusiveness by comparison, so I\’m gonna work really hard to be more careful, thoughtful, and compassionate in what I write.

  43. mayan elephant July 27, 2006 at 11:09 pm

    Midgley,

    “I wonder which of my essays is so outlandish, so absurd, that reading or even knowing that it exists, is driving troubled souls out of the Church.”

    you want an example? ill raise my hand. i will never forget the night that i stayed up until five in the morning reading your work on FARMS, and the work of other authors. i was sleepless from the shock. shamed to have ever attended BYU. disgusted by your tone. i was trembling, not knowing whether to laugh at your absurdity, cry, or scream. your attack on palmer was one example that struck me to the core.

    after reading your work that night, i slept for less than an hour before preparing for church. i could hardly stand the association of being in the congregation as i considered that you could be among the group.

    i have since resigned from the church. there are many factors that led to that. but before i even stopped attending and participating in my leadership position, i had agreed with a friend to read and consider the positions of FARMS authors. i held to my end of the deal. i read almost everything on FARMS, hoping for a bright spot. there was none.

    pound your chest midgley. you vanquished a foe. i left, with all my family too. and you helped. now, before you get all proud of that. i should say, that its not just you. really, its the message you bear that is disturbing. i dont know you.

    there is another factor that is powerful when considered; the fact that the leaders of the church dont tell you and all your FARMS ilk to cease with the nonsense. cease publishing under the banner of brigham young. cease to attack the members of the church, which palmer was at the time of your ad hominem “un”attack. cease to play advocate for the church. and instead, go volunteer at a womens shelter or at girls on the run. or at least, go do your hometeaching or something.

  44. Remy July 27, 2006 at 11:30 pm

    I hate to add my voice to the chorus, but Prof. Midgley did throw this question out there. Please keep in mind that none of this intended as a critique of his work specifically, but of my personal experience with FARMS in general.

    When I encountered the ideas in books by authors like Grant Palmer and D. Michael Quinn, I turned to FARMS. I wanted to see faithful LDS responses to the content, and was troubled to see so much of the focus of the FARMS articles on the character of the scholars. There were a few FARMS scholars who responded to the content, but I found the personal attacks to be unprofessional, distracting and mean spirited. They didn’t chase me away from the church, but I lost considerable respect for FARMS and decided not to turn to it as a resource in my struggle with doubt, and it did color my perception of LDS apologetics in general.

  45. Clark Goble July 27, 2006 at 11:33 pm

    I think it is less the volume John that it simply is the decision, whether wise or not, to let the discussion be open. There is moderation but one has to be pretty abusive to get it. I’ve advocated closing it down as many know. But I also understand that people want a place for open discussion. Further I know that especially in emotional issues people can get riled up.

    My own opinion is that I strongly doubt it’s going to change any minds and, as you said, reflects poorly on FAIR. As you said in a prior post being open and being respectful (or at least having constantly respectful speech) is hard if not impossible. And I think the medium of impersonal communication as is found in forums and even email is challenging for people. It depersonalizes communication.

    Regarding the internal FAIR boards I’d disagree with you. But I don’t want to get into a discussion of that since one of the agreements is to not discuss what goes on in the boards. But I think Mike and others do a very good job clamping down on things and focusing on the positive. Sometimes things get through, especially when someone brings up politics. But by and large I see a lot of calm and respect.

  46. Nat Whilk July 28, 2006 at 9:40 am

    Remy:

    Why would you need a faithful response to Quinn? He claims that he himself is faithful. Are you saying he isn’t?

  47. Ben McGuire July 28, 2006 at 9:45 am

    I wasn’t going to make any comments, but then I changed my mind.

    I have been a regular participant in Mormon discussions on the internet for well over a decade. I find comments like these quite fascinating. Unlike Dan Peterson, I am a postmodernist (although I am absolutely certain that Tal Bachman really has no idea what postmodernism means or what its many adherents really believe, instead throwing out popular misconceptions – kind of like Bob McCue and his cognitive dissonance comments).

    I read Mayan Elephants comments – and am once again reminded of the stark contrast between people and their interpretations. After all, I have read Palmer’s book six or seven times. I have publicly commented on it in several places – showing, for example, that Palmer’s use of parallels is shoddy scholarship at best – his conclusions wrong. It isn’t hard to do for anyone who has some familiarity with literary criticism. There is a word for some of what he does that has been used with some regularity since it was coined by Sandmel in 1961: parallelomania.

    But more than this, Palmer’s book was a personal challenge to all of the others whom he was, in a sense, betraying in his former profession. In claiming that he is an insider, and that he is “honestly” approaching the topic of Mormon history, he is doing no more than claiming that all the others are either ignorant or dishonest (some people, like Tal, like to suggest a third option for those who are aware of all the facts and are still believers – they like to think we are irrational or a little crazy).

    But you see, because of Mayan Elephants perceptions (which existed I am sure long before he encountered Midgley’s review – he suggests as much himself here, although he himself has written enough on the internet to allow us to become fairly well acquainted with his public expression of himself) had already colored his encounter with FARMS. I am fairly certain (recognizing of course how wrong I might be) that he read Midgley looking for things to criticize. It’s a rather normal exercise in that position. I don’t know, would Mayan Elephant have even read FARMS material if he hadn’t been challenged by his friend? So Midgley (his interpretation of it in any case) was the straw that broke the camel’s back. My experience is that if it hadn’t been that straw, it would have been another.

    What I find so interesting is that so many people can read something and get such different meanings from it. Really, I didn’t think that Midgley’s response was all that out of line. It certainly didn’t offend me. I would have taken a different approach – although I admit, dealing with literary critical issues can be problematic for the audience to whom Palmer’s book was intended. After all, I suspect (after reading Palmer, and listening to Palmer and so on) that Palmer simply used the same techniques in his book to destroy belief in the church that he did to build it as an institute instructor. (That fact that he used it in both directions doesn’t mean that it was a valid approach). You can prove anything if your methodology is that flawed. But I think it is also important to let those that are impugned by Palmer have a voice – and this seems to be what Mayan Elephant is set on shutting down.

    Perhaps it is a difference in the culture which defines how we understand and describe the reality in which we are embedded. Mayan Elephant describes his ignorance. I was born in the church. My parents were converts (about the time I was born). We lived in northern Michigan – my parents and my numerous siblings (in the end there were thirteen kids). But, I had no misconceptions of the kind that Mayan Elephant talks about. It was only a few days ago here on John’s site that he discussed how awful it was to learn about these historical issues. I grew up aware of many of them. Actually, in school, we got a big dose the week that our local history class covered King Strang (Beaver Island isn’t too far away from where I live). The peepstone in the hat? Not a shocker.

    Actually, I encountered something which gave me an opportunity for a great deal of introspection not too long ago on the FAIR boards. I had a poster tell me that if Joseph really received the translation of the Book of Mormon using a stone in a hat it would shake his testimony to the core. I couldn’t relate to him. After all, which is patently more absurd? That Joseph Smith was visited by an angel who gave him some gold plates which he translated by reading them through “magic” spectacles, or that Joseph Smith was visited by an angel who gave him the gold plates which he translated by reading them though a seer stone in a hat?

    Obviously, for some people, some things are easier to accept than others. What is it that makes the difference? Why is it that there are many members of the church who go through the process of discovery that Mayan Elephant went through, perhaps even with some of the same difficulties, and yet rationally remain in the church as full believers? Do we blame someone? My kids certainly aren’t going to have the same kinds of expectations that Mayan Elephant had (although they will probably have their own sets that will cause them grief).

    I love the characterizations. Peterson is called my “mentor” by Mayan Elephant (by association). Actually we have met twice I think, in my lifetime. Both times occured at the two FAIR conferences I have gone to. Interestingly enough, the fols at IRR connected the two of us in a piece of anti-mormon propaganda a year ago, claiming that we were both given leeway because of our status as apologists. Actaully, apart from a couple of seemingly random e-mails I have recieved, I am fairly certain that church leadership has no idea who I am. The other day, I had another LDS on FAIR make the suggestion that I was a fallen intellectual.

    But what I find most revealing is that inevitably I see comments like this one from these individuals (this from Mayan Elephant):

    “another bummer about the experience, is that there really isnt a place in the church for one to be open in disagreement with these details of the book of mormon. its all or nothing. narrow path. if you believe in families are forever then you must believe in cumoms, tapirs, flaming swords and the marriage amendment.”

    You see, fundamentalism persists even after leaving the church. Believing far too much is just as damaging as believing nothing at all (and both are surprisingly close). Faith and belief is a choice – despite the instance by some that there is no choice in the matter. I have long been an advocate for diversity in the church. You can believe that the Book of Mormon is fiction and still get a temple recommend. Ask Van Hale. I believe that the Book of Mormon is a real work of authentic ancient literature. But I do not think that this is sufficient grounds to give people like Van the boot.

    And what does Mayan Elephant think that beliving in Cumoms constitutes? It isn’t just demanding that I believe in them, he is demanding that I believe in whatever caricature of belief he insists is the only appropriate belief for TBMs. And the response is that any belief that I have, which doesn’t come from my own personal thought, and choice, and interaction with the divine, isn’t really my belief. Do I believe in the flaming sword? Certainly. But what is it? Mayan Elephant continued:

    “a big shame of apologetics and their endorsement by the church leaders via tolerance and financial support, is that they are simultaneusly endorsing this narrow and judgmental path. it harms many. it divides families. it just plain sucks. but, it keeps the core faithful base in tact, so i suppose thats a good thing for a few million people.”

    See I am endorsing all this evil by paying tithing and going to church. What bitterness. It is too bad that this “narrow and judgmental path” exists in his experience (and I have no doubt that it does) because this is not everyone’s experience of the Gospel, nor does it describe my view of the church or of the Gospel.

    Somehow, Mayan Elephant knows exactly what a TBM is supposed to believe, how they are supposed to act. And this we assume from their own developed expectations. And we see where that got him, so why should we accept a flawed model here?

    So how do we reconcile my experience with his? Which is right? And if I refuse to accept his models, am I still to be considered rational, honest, objective – like Mayan Elephant is when he rejects mine?

  48. Lunar Quaker July 28, 2006 at 12:35 pm

    Ben –

    “You can believe that the Book of Mormon is fiction and still get a temple recommend. Ask Van Hale.”

    Or ask Grant Palmer. It’s clear from my own experience that local church leaders do not apply the same standards in their capacitities as judges in Israel. Local church leaders are empowered by the general church leadership to execute judgment and punishment as they see fit, according to their own nuanced opinions.

    “I don’t know, would Mayan Elephant have even read FARMS material if he hadn’t been challenged by his friend? So Midgley (his interpretation of it in any case) was the straw that broke the camel’s back. My experience is that if it hadn’t been that straw, it would have been another.”

    So you’re basically saying that Mayan wanted out of the church, he was looking for a good excuse, and Midgley’s article was as good an excuse as any.

    You don’t understand disaffected Mormons, Ben. I didn’t either until I became one myself. Disaffection does not arise from “believing too much.” It’s a painful, gut-wrenching journey of discovery, often accompanied by severe feelings of betrayal.

    Maybe you were inoculated from controversy at an early age. I felt that I was, too. My experience has taught me that feeling that you have already been inoculated is often just a security blanket for the mind.

    You rightly point out that many people know the truth of church history and still remain ardent believers. I don’t know what the difference is, either. But it sure isn’t naiveté.

  49. mayan elephant July 28, 2006 at 12:50 pm

    Mike Parker

    i hesitate to agree with this: “A large percentage of the Church is composed of first-generation members. The need to get these people grounded in the basics is enormous.”

    without doing a huge statistical analysis it just doesnt add up. first, there are only a few hundred thousand converts a year. and those converts are retained at a very low rate, perhaps even single digits. anecdotally, (a weak basis i realize) i have been in all sorts of wards and have rarely run into converts that are actively engaged in the church. sure there are some, but rarely. perhaps your experience is different. mine is based on my experiences on three different continents. no matter where i go, there are few converts in the mix. my mum is an exception to that, so i realize its not universally applicable.

    you said, “The brethren have (wisely) chosen to spend their limited time reaching those who need spiritual lifting. The comparatively few of us who want to delve into Church history can turn to plenty of sources outside of Church manuals.”

    i tend to agree with this. though, i think interpretations and perceptions vary drastically. for example, the church’s political position on homosexuality couldnt be considered reaching out, in my opinion. the church’s treatment of women is not percieved by all as reaching out to them. your perception may vary from mine, thats ok. i simply suggest that for many, its more of a dictation of action and thought and less of a “reach” of a welcome hand.

    i have discussed this with guy murray and it may not be appropriate here, but the treatment of jeff nielson is a reflection of how the church reached out to at least one prominent member. you may agree with the position of the church and byu, i simply suggest that the message was very mixed and viewed by some as the complete opposite of reaching out.

    its true now that a history junkie can find the time and resources to discover the history. the issue is not the availability of the history, its the contrast to what is offered in church and church material. why should those that are uninterested in history, and concerned with spiritual matters, be subject to a jolting realization that they have been fed a PR spin, rather than the truth? is it any wonder that they feel shocked and betrayed? john dehlin describes this experience very well.

    why should a first generation member be forced to find the devilish details later, so they can then self-reflect on their own decision? at least us 6th generation folks can claim to have been born into this and to have inherited the dilemna, rather than having a self-inflicted crisis.

    i think we see the choice for the church the same. i think we see the consequences of their decision differently. and i think we percieve differently the gap between the history that is available to those willing to search outside sources versus the basics with spiritual stuff.

    i dont think the issue lies in something as simple as how the book of abraham came to be. it lies in the fact that one is led to believe it came from source A, when it turns out it may not have. and more, not only was there a story there, but the church allows one to carry on without an explanation. in real language – if someone will lie about the small stuff that may not matter, how honest has their story been regarding the big stuff?

  50. mayan elephant July 28, 2006 at 1:05 pm

    Ben:

    “Actually, I encountered something which gave me an opportunity for a great deal of introspection not too long ago on the FAIR boards. I had a poster tell me that if Joseph really received the translation of the Book of Mormon using a stone in a hat it would shake his testimony to the core. I couldn’t relate to him. After all, which is patently more absurd? That Joseph Smith was visited by an angel who gave him some gold plates which he translated by reading them through “magic” spectacles, or that Joseph Smith was visited by an angel who gave him the gold plates which he translated by reading them though a seer stone in a hat?”

    excellent point ben. excellent. my answer is: neither is more absurd. they are both a wee bit zany eh? though, imagining joseph smith with a really cool set of oakley-like shades, kicked back with a stack of gold and scribe is significantly funner than picturing a man covering his face with a hat and looking at a rock or two. not sure why i prefer one image to another, perhaps one is more matrix-like and one seems just plain suffocating.

    more to the point though. weighing one image to another is not likely enough to shake a person. the question is not whether one is acceptable and one is not. more, it comes down to the realization that one has been allowed to believe something happened one way, with perpetual reinforcement of that belief. and then, learning that, uh oh, ohhhhhh boy, that one was sold snake oil, that in fact, it didnt happen the way my primary teacher said.

    THAT shakes the soul, the betrayal, not the peepstone. and, one is not holier than another for surviving betrayal by forgiveness and compliance rather than survival through anger, reassessment and change. even if such change is radical and dramatic and gut-wrenching.

  51. enochville July 28, 2006 at 2:52 pm

    I’d like to chime in here. Not only did the primary teacher say that Joseph used a urim and thummimum to translate the BoM, not a seer stone (the same stone with which Joseph defrauded Josiah Stowell by leading him to believe he could use it to find treasure and which Joseph confessed on 2 separate occasions that he never could see anything in that stone), but Joseph himself claimed to translate with the urim and thummim which account is in our scriptures. And, millions of Mormons believe the spirit has testified to their souls that the Book of Mormon came forth by Joseph translating the gold plates by the urim and thummim.

    So, this is why it is a big deal that Joseph used a magic peep stone rather than the urim and thummim. The Spirit lied to everyone of us who believed the Spirit testified Joseph used the urim and thummim. The scriptures (aka the Word of God) lied to us in the Pearl of Great Price. The founding Prophet of the restoration lied to us. Now, if none of those things are credible, and all we have to go on to believe everything else is their witness, then how can we believe anything any of them say. Especially when you find out nothing else is as it was taught to us either (BoA, first vision, how the plates were found, the temple ceremony, etc).

  52. Ben McGuire July 28, 2006 at 3:14 pm

    Lunar Quaker writes:

    “Or ask Grant Palmer. It’s clear from my own experience that local church leaders do not apply the same standards in their capacitities as judges in Israel.”

    Do you think the situations are the same? I don’t. Van Hale claims a belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I don’t think that Palmer believes this. And my point was that people can be faithful LDS and yet hold a wide range of divergent beliefs.

    “So you’re basically saying that Mayan wanted out of the church, he was looking for a good excuse, and Midgley’s article was as good an excuse as any.”

    No, not at all. What I am saying is that the opposite of faith is pessimism. Belief is a choice. And when we choose to stop believing (and some do), it isn’t any longer about a single incident that pushes us over the top. Any one incident is as good as any other. I don’t think Mayan was looking for a good excuse to leave the church – and I don’t think he was looking for a reason to stay in the church either. And I think that is the reason why perhaps his encounter with FARMS went the way it did. And why, in the long run I really doubt that his encounter with FARMS was in fact the cause of his departure – although it may well have given him the realization that he was in fact very far from where he thought he might have been. Perhaps he can tell us exactly what he thinks.

    “You don’t understand disaffected Mormons, Ben. I didn’t either until I became one myself. Disaffection does not arise from “believing too much.” It’s a painful, gut-wrenching journey of discovery, often accompanied by severe feelings of betrayal.”

    Of course I don’t understand disaffected Mormons. Or do I. On what basis do you think that your experiences are somehow priviledged? See, here is the problem – what you see as betrayal in your discovery isn’t viewed that way by everyone. In fact, it wouldn’t bother me at all to find out that the prophets had been wrong many times, on many occaisions. I certainly think that they all experience the gospel in a way that is fundamentally inseperable from their own culture and environment. So, to see a prophets failings doesn’t give me a sense of betrayal or shock. In fact, there is something of a reassurance in it that suggests that we all (along with out myriad shortcomings) are equal in the eyes of God. And when I suggest that people believe too much, it is because they have created expectations which cannot be met, which means they will only find what they feel is betrayal and shock and disappointment as they see the leaders of the LDS church for the men that they are.

    “Maybe you were inoculated from controversy at an early age. I felt that I was, too. My experience has taught me that feeling that you have already been inoculated is often just a security blanket for the mind.”

    And now see, you want to label my experience – call it “innoculation” – suggest that I really am somehow not in touch with reality because I am shielded from it. And so I simply avoid dealing with the real issues because I don’t have to. And I think you are absolutely wrong on this point. I deal with ambiguity – and things still remain ambiguous for me. I still have questions. For some things I have answers. For others, questions remain. But in the long run, there are some fundamental differences I suspect in our approach to these topics, and those differences account for why I am where I am, and why you are where you are.

    Mayan Elephant notes:

    “more to the point though. weighing one image to another is not likely enough to shake a person. the question is not whether one is acceptable and one is not. more, it comes down to the realization that one has been allowed to believe something happened one way, with perpetual reinforcement of that belief. and then, learning that, uh oh, ohhhhhh boy, that one was sold snake oil, that in fact, it didnt happen the way my primary teacher said.

    THAT shakes the soul, the betrayal, not the peepstone. and, one is not holier than another for surviving betrayal by forgiveness and compliance rather than survival through anger, reassessment and change. even if such change is radical and dramatic and gut-wrenching.”

    Do you realize how this sounds? You are angry because of something you were taught as a child. Did you feel the same sense of betrayal when you learned that there was no Santa Clause? No Easter Bunny? Do you think that it is necessary to teach polygamy to children? Did you have no original thoughts of your own?

    My suggestion then is this – you had no testimony. Instead you relied on what others told you, accepted it, figured that it had to be accurate (and was this their fault?). And as I noted this is about believing far too much, and not far too little. I am not going to say that this wasn’t what was taught to you (I have no idea) but to suggest that the root cause of your challenges with the LDS church still show in your statements about what you think the model member should be like – and yet we all know that the model member (as you describe it) is bound to find themselves in the same boat as you were at some time or another.

    Its not about innoculation – its about making our own decisions on what to believe. And if we leave it up to everyone else to tell us what to believe then we simply are not fulfilling the measure of our creation.

  53. Remy July 28, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    Nat, you said:

    Why would you need a faithful response to Quinn? He claims that he himself is faithful. Are you saying he isn’t?

    At the time Quinn’s portrayal of early Mormonism challenged my (simplistic) conception of the same. I saw his work as faith-challenging, rather than faith-promoting.

    “Faith-promoting” is a subjective label. For example, Sunstone sees itself as faith-positive organization (its motto is “faith seeking understanding”), but many TBMs would not describe it that way. At this point in my faith journey, I see both Sunstone and Mike Quinn as defenders of the faith.

  54. Lunar Quaker July 28, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    Ben wrote:

    “And when I suggest that people believe too much, it is because they have created expectations which cannot be met, which means they will only find what they feel is betrayal and shock and disappointment as they see the leaders of the LDS church for the men that they are.”

    This is what I find the most troubling about your views, Ben. Feeling that the church should be honest with its membership is not an unreasonable expectation. We’re not asking for perfection in fallible human beings, we’re just asking for honesty. Your comparison to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny is untenable because we’re not talking about fairy tales that an adult tells a child in order to perpetuate a harmless tradition. We’re talking about worldview-shaping philosophies that significantly affect how a person lives his or her life.

    The stories that are told in Primary class are the same ones that are taught in the adult Gospel Doctrine class. Mayan cannot be criticized for feeling betrayed. These stories are never presented as useful myths intended solely for building faith. They are presented as literal facts, and they are enforced by punishment. The church asks people to sacrifice their lives in defending the kingdom of God. There is a lot at stake.

    When a little boy becomes an adult and stops believing in Santa Claus, it’s not like his worldview falls apart. The enlightened adult man doesn’t have to deal with a believing wife that cries herself to sleep because her husband doesn’t think that Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen really leave hoof marks on his rooftop. He doesn’t have to risk being ostracized by his own family because he thinks that the only organisms that live at the North Pole are radiation-resistant microbes.

    I appreciate your respectful tone, Ben, but I still think that you’re missing something here.

  55. Guy Murray July 28, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    “Faith-promoting” is a subjective label. For example, Sunstone sees itself as faith-positive organization (its motto is “faith seeking understanding”), but many TBMs would not describe it that way. At this point in my faith journey, I see both Sunstone and Mike Quinn as defenders of the faith.

    Remy: How do you see publications such as FARMS and brothers such as Midgley and Peterson?

  56. Mike Parker July 28, 2006 at 6:13 pm

    For some time now I’ve been working on a theory. In its presently-developed form it goes something like this:

    Dogmatism — the clinging to specific concepts and beliefs and the rejection of any modification or expansion of those concepts — in most cases leads to apostasy.

    I have enjoyed my life journey in the Church and maintain a relatively strong testimony. I attribute a great deal of that to being open to new ideas, to being willing to admit that my gospel (and scientific) paradigm is not perfect and should be modified as I receive additional knowledge, and to a desire to learn new truths from whatever source they spring.

    After reading some of the “exit stories” that have shared here, I feel that my theory has been validated.

    I feel badly for those who have struggled with their Church experience. I cannot imagine what it must be like to feel as betrayed as they say they feel. But I also cannot imagine crying myself to sleep because I learned that Joseph Smith made more use of a seerstone than the Urim and Thummim in translating the Book of Mormon. My testimony lies in the fact that it was a divine translation, not in the details of how it was translated.

    If some other Saints (including those who write the manuals) still have an imperfect understanding of some of the difficult details, I try to expand on these for them, where possible. But I don’t consider them sheep, nor do I believe that Church leaders deliberately lie about difficult issues.

    The man who is dogmatic or expects perfection from mortal leaders of Christ’s Church is headed down a rough and difficult road toward an unhappy future.

  57. mayan elephant July 28, 2006 at 6:32 pm

    “Do you realize how this sounds? You are angry because of something you were taught as a child. Did you feel the same sense of betrayal when you learned that there was no Santa Clause? No Easter Bunny? Do you think that it is necessary to teach polygamy to children? Did you have no original thoughts of your own?”

    wow Ben.

    yes, i realize how it sounds. No, i did not have the same feelings upon learning santa clause was actually a single parent mom who struggled to make christmas special. Easter bunny? cant remember how i reacted to that one.

    Teach polygamy to children? where did that come from dude? no, i dont teach that to my kids. and, i dont wish to have someone teaching them that polygamy will be their reward in heaven either. not sure what your point is with that question.

    original thoughts? not sure, let me google the topic and see whats most popular.

    Ben, your santa clause example cracks me up. its absurd to 11, you know, on spinal tap with the amp that goes to 11. that santa clause thing is a definite 11.

    on second thought, maybe the santa clause example is perfect. after all, its fun and harmless as a child, but you might not want to spend all your christmases with an adult that still believes that stuff. And certainly, you might get a little queezy heeby jeeby in your grinch outfit if your companion thought he/she was wearing exactly the same underwear as santa clause.

    where are those little laughing circles that say j/k?

  58. mayan elephant July 28, 2006 at 6:37 pm

    “But I also cannot imagine crying myself to sleep because I learned that Joseph Smith made more use of a seerstone than the Urim and Thummim in translating the Book of Mormon.”

    well. thats unfortunate. because it happens all the time. again, the U/T vs. Rock debate is a sideshow. Its the realization that one was the subject of a charade that sucks.

  59. Mike Parker July 28, 2006 at 11:03 pm

    Enochville,

    You’re holding to a double standard here. In one breath you tell me:

    I am glad that you find satisfaction in your faith. But, when you cast any negative tone on my decision, that is when I begin to defend myself and perhaps do a little attacking myself.

    But in the next you do exactly what you criticized me for doing:

    This is due to being honest with the evidence and yourself and not ignoring or filtering out evidence that does not fit your model.
    * * *
    I feel bad for those who can never learn whether their beliefs are true because they make them non-falsifiable.

    As far as I’m concerned, you may believe what you please. You’re free to disbelieve everything taught the by Church and find a religion or philosophy that works for you. I’m not coming after youyou are the one coming to Mormon blogs and telling me that my God “lives in the unknown,” that I can only believe in the restored gospel if I engage in “extreme mental gymnastics,” that Joseph Smith “knowingly fabricate[d] a fiction” and was “pull[ing] BS.” And when I step up to defend my beliefs, my people, my Church, and my prophet, you get offended?

    I recomment re-reading Ben’s post, above. He made some exellent points about the nature of belief and faith that I think many people here have overlooked.

    Changing one’s paradigm about Joseph Smith doesn’t require a complete shift from “Joseph as prophet” to “Joseph as fraud.” It can be much more more subtle, taking into account new evidence and expanding one’s understanding of what a prophet is … and isn’t.

  60. leeuniverse July 28, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    Then why is it that really no faithful LDS or many a people of various beliefs NEVER speak in that manner against things they no longer or do not believe in??? It’s because they aren’t extremist nuts, with mental imbalance, while Bachman clearly is by his own words.

  61. leeuniverse July 28, 2006 at 11:29 pm

    Characterizing Bachman as an “angry extremist” is a little unfair. He didn’t come off that way in his interview – he’s clearly well informed about church history and has given alot of thought about what he believes. If in his remarks he occasionally goes for the slam dunk, who am I too blame him?

    Then why is it that really no faithful LDS or many a people of various beliefs NEVER speak in that manner against things they no longer or do not believe in??? It’s because they aren’t extremist nuts, with mental imbalance, while Bachman clearly is by his own words.

  62. enochville July 29, 2006 at 6:24 am

    Mike Parker said: “I’m not coming after you — you are the one coming to Mormon blogs and telling me … And when I step up to defend my beliefs, my people, my Church, and my prophet, you get offended?”

    One, I only said those things AFTER your last post. You weren’t “stepping up to defend your beliefs” at the time; that post was about putting down those of us who believed “too much” of Joseph’s story. Yes, I was engaging in the same activity I accused you of and admitted it at the time and explained that it was in response to you doing it first. It is not right for either of us to do. Now that I have slept on it, I am sorry that I did go on the offensive, that is not how I want to conduct myself.

    Second, this place is not only for TBM’s, so I can expect respect even if TBM’s don’t agree with me. Now, I disrespected you after you disrespected me first. That was wrong for both of us. Again, I am sorry and will try my best not to do that again.

    John, feel free to delete my last post before this one or you can keep it in if you feel it has already become part of the thread.

  63. Louis Midgley July 29, 2006 at 3:02 pm

    I have been watching this thread, which was generated by remarks about the forthcoming PBS/Frontline program on Mormon things, with a mixture of wonder and amusement. One can learn a few things when people with a powerful itch do when they think that no one is watching. Well, what I have in mind is those who spout nonsense while hiding behind a handle. This thread sports a large photo of Tal Bachman with his three-day stubble trying to look like Bruce who-ever-it-was in the 70s. Bachman, incidently, prefers his real given name “Talmage” to the “Tal” his music career handlers gave him before the dropped him like a dud after one so-called hit “song,” I think they call it. Bachman hopes to become, like his “famous” father, a popular music culture celebrity figure. But also wants to pull the Church down, as I will demonstrate in considerable detail in a series of posts that are to follow.

    But before I get to posting Tal Bachman’s latest from RfM, I must mention two things. In my rather extensive correspondence with him, I started teasing him by calling him Herr Bachmann. He loved that label. Please notice that his email address got shifted to the following: HerrBachmann@gmail.com

    Now I must comment on this thread. Watching it flow out made me imagine 20 very different and highly opinionated people who suddenly found themselves in a Pub around a table and each of them started talking and then shouting about different topics all at once, with few even listening and none following the entire cacophony. This is the nacle for sure. There are, I trust you have noticed at least six or more different topics being fought over on this thread and it is hard to figure out how these fights broke out from a seemingly harmless mention of something planned for TV. These different topics may or may not have anything much in common. Oh this is the nacle for sure. I notice that several who are posting up a storm seem right out of the RfM mold. Or they are getting ready to move there. This thread and others on this blog provide a wonderful opportunity for some disaffected people to justify themselves and attack their former faith. They strive to become evangelists for the dark side. Blogs seem to me to encourage what some celebrate as balance–some truth and some error, some light and some darkness, some good and some evil and so forth. What the norms do not permit is for straightforward response to error, darkness and evil. That is not tolerated. Presumably one must be tolerant and respectful and perhaps even willing to celebrate attacks on the faith of the Saints all in the name of balance and objectivity. There will be more on this later.

    I notice that there are several who are ranting about seer stones. They report that they heard in Primary or Sunday School (or somewhere) that Joseph Smith used a Urim & Thummin. They never heard about seer stones. This is nonsense. The name in the Book of Mormon for what Joseph Smith started out with was Interpreters. This devise, as well as his seer stone, after 1833, was called Urim & Thummin. When Joseph Smith showed W. Woodruff the Urim & Thummin, what Woodruff was shown was a seer stone. Why the stone? Joseph had to give back to the messenger the Interpreters after the disappearance of the 116 manuscript pages. And he never got back the Interpreters. After that calamity, he used his old seer stone. Joseph Smith much preferred to use one of the stones that were part of the Interpreters. He told one of the Knights, after he secured the plates that the Interferers were simply amazing–he could see just about anything. With them he did not have to use a hat to see the words he dictated. Otherwise, and with what we now have as the Book of Mormon, he had to use his old seer stone in a hat.

    If someone through their own sloth and indifference sets themselves up for a surprise, then they have only themselves to blame, since all of this is rather well known among those even the least bit interested–that is, among those who think about such matters and read. And I have you–you who are reading this–and who are all in a fury about the evil Church keeping you in the dark.

    Now let the attacks begin. But please, no nasty language. Please be sweet and gentle. Remember that I have ever so tender feelings that are easily bruised.

  64. Daniel Peterson July 29, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    Come off it, Midgley. We know that you’re a subhuman monster with no real feelings who likes to call decent people names and otherwise avoid the issues. So some of us may well treat you accordingly.

  65. Louis Midgley July 29, 2006 at 5:59 pm

    Professor Daniel C. Peterson wrote as follows: “We know that you’re a subhuman monster with no real feelings who likes to call decent people names and otherwise avoid the issues. So some of us may well treat you accordingly.” Professor Peterson, in his singular way, has gotten to the bottom of something.

    I am sort of flattered to have such a one as Professor Peterson, no less, point out that I am a subhuman monstrosity. I insist that he is perfectly sincere in doing this. But I must now tell some stories about the word sincere. That curious little word, so often used on the nacle, seems to have at least four possible origins. It could have come from the Latin sin or sym, meaning something like wholly, plus cernere, meaning I think to sift, hence sifted, separated out, hence disinterested. If someone were to say that Grant Palmer was sincere could they have been trying to say that he is fully disinterested? Not likely. Or the word sincere could have come from the Latin sin or sine, meaning without, plus the English caries meaning decay. The next two possibilities both rest on Latin sine, without, plus cera, meaning wax. Here we have two really promising possibilities. Sincere might have come from pure and honey (you know, the wax in the hive–it is a stretch, I know). Sincere in this sense would mean something like pure gold, but not pure golden pot.

    The forth possibility is, for me, the best. Once upon a time, and, sincerely, I am not making this up, defective pottery had the cracks closed with wax, then rubbed to prevent their being noticed. Now mind you, I am not even hinting that the word sincere is at all related to the expression crack pot. And I will avoid mentioning the Golden Pot. Instead, I am merely pointing out the obvious–we can expect, after being told that someone is sincere words like but or however and then something like uninformed, odd, wrong, nuts and so forth. Since I have been accused of being sincere right here on the nacle, I insist that no nice, kindly blogger type gent would have had this forth possibility in mind.

    I have also been shown to be verbose. I right here admit that I am a verbose monstrosity. But, in some good sense, I am, I hope you all realize, sincere. But please notice that being sincere, however one understands that word cannot possibly take the place of argument and evidence. So can we now please forget the effort, conscious or unconscious, to shirt real intellectual issues by talk about how someone seems sincere and get back to real issues?

    I suppose that no one, not even one of those on this thread, will insist that they turned their backs on their covenants with God because their tender feelings were bruised by my impish style, or my tone, or effort, feeble as it is, to defend my faith. Neither Professor Peterson nor I have driven anyone out of the Church, though we have, I am confident, made some people very angry because we have removed some of the pegs upon which they wanted to hang their unfaith. But I hold out hope for these people; they can still make the decision not to believe, if that is what is in their hearts, without pointing to something written by Grant Palmer. And they don’t have to complain about what they heard or did not hear in Primary or Sunday School. They can just move one, just as thousands of others who never really put their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior, or who once did and now have gone missing, by simply turning in some other direction. Such folks need not post up a storm on lists, boards or blogs attempting, among other things to justify their decision or to talk others into joining them in a fancy new crusade. Nor do they have to give speeches at Sunstone conferences doing some of these same things. And merely for something called balance, the people at Sunstone do not have to provide a venue for such things.

  66. Daniel Peterson July 29, 2006 at 6:20 pm

    How can there be any sin in “sincere”?
    Where is the good in “goodbye”?
    Your apprehensions confuse me dear
    Puzzle and mystify (mystify)
    Tell me what can be fair in “farewell,” dear . . .
    How can there be any sin in “sincere”?

  67. Mark July 29, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    LM opines:

    “Joseph had to give back to the messenger the Interpreters after the disappearance of the 116 manuscript pages. And he never got back the Interpreters.”
    ——–

    That’s not at all clear. Bushman’s biography, for instance, notes that there are conflicting stories here. Larry Porter has written: “Not hearing from their son for nearly two months, and worried at his state of mind when last seen, Father and Mother Smith traveled to Harmony and spent more than three months there during the winter of 1828–29. Lucy recalled the joy which they experienced when they learned that the plates and the Urim and Thummim had been restored to their son on 22 September 1828. She also recorded a choice expression exchanged between Moroni and Joseph at the moment of return. The Prophet told his mother that ‘the angel seemed pleased with me when he gave me back the Urim and Thummim, and told me that the Lord loved me, for my faithfulness and humility'” (“Joseph Smith’s Susquehanna Years,” Ensign, Feb. 2001).

  68. Louis Midgley July 29, 2006 at 6:25 pm

    Ok, I will soon do what I had promised earlier and start to drop Herr Bachmann’s latest postings from RfM on you good folks. And I will also tell you a tale of a very, very long goodbye. It will, I am confident, tug at your heart strings and bring tears to your eyes.

  69. Louis Midgley July 29, 2006 at 6:39 pm

    I must now report that, right there in River City, Professor Peterson is in very big trouble. He is supposed to be actually working on something and not having some musical fun posting on this blog and getting in my way.

  70. Remy July 29, 2006 at 6:54 pm

    Prof. Midgley, you mentioned that you see people on this thread who are “of the RfM mold” and who are merely justifying their journey to the dark side. I’m not saying that there aren’t people on this thread who are very angry towards the Church, but is it possible that some of the troubled comments come from people who earnestly seeking for truth, living lives of service and integrity, and who are merely trying to find honest answers to honest doubts?

  71. Daniel Peterson July 29, 2006 at 7:23 pm

    Combing through my DOSSIER on him the other day, I overlooked one interesting specimen of Tal Bachman’s niceness and kindness and his loving, gentle, sense of humor that I should have shared:

    “I know the ladies can sound irrational too, but how many women have you ever met who are as nuts in the same way that, say, Dan Peterson is nuts? How man women can create alternative realities as idiotic, angry, deep, ego-fueled, and convoluted as a dude can, and then actually believe in them so much, that they don’t even flinch when people are getting raped and tortured and killed for believing it? Come on – this is where we excel, bro. The Bolsheviks? The Nazis? The Branch Davidians? The Mormons? How many girls helped come up with those? . . . Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t think women overall are stupid enough to actually think they can justify their silly positions with monstrous absurdities like those trotted out by Louis Farrakhan or Hugh Nibley. No – for lunacy on this grand a scale, you need males. I don’t expect that to change.”
    (Tal Bachman, “Recovery from Mormonism” board, 21 February 2006)

  72. Louis Midgley July 29, 2006 at 7:32 pm

    The long answer to Remy’s question is simply no. Spend a couple of hours on RfM and then tell me of the evidence you could glean from what you read of lives of service to others, and the search for truth. If doing some truth telling about RfM types lowers me in your estimation, that will simply have to be the way it is. When you see people confidently coaching each other on how to trick their wives, husbands, children or parents into leaving the Church, while managing appearances to keep the sex coming, then tell me about the wonders of those people deeply hurt by the evil Church and in need of venting their anger. We need to be clear on exactly what and who we are talking about.

  73. anon July 29, 2006 at 8:08 pm

    Midgley,

    Remy didn’t ask for more uncharitable words about RfM types; Remy asked about THIS thread, and whether IN SPITE OF the RfM types that you describe, there could be people on this thread who are earnestly seeking truth, living good lives, etc. Either you are not a careful reader, or you are intent on focusing on the most negative aspects possible. There may be some value in looking at things as ‘good or bad’ and ‘black or white,’ but you seem to have gone to extremes in generalizing disaffected Mormons. I bet there’s at least one out there not trying to deceive his/her family and just staying around for sex.

    APJ

  74. John Dehlin July 29, 2006 at 8:33 pm

    I wish there was a way to establish identity in blogs. I’m sure we’re really talking to Peterson and Midgley, but it’s a bit odd that we’re (I’m) not totally sure who we’re talking with (always a possibility that it could be trolls).

    I don’t want to derail the conversation, but today (with “celebrities”) is the first time this thought has occured to me.

    If trolls wanted to make Midgley look bad, for example, they could write angry or offensive things in his name, just to get us all riled up, and to smudge his name.

    Anyway, just a thought. Carry on.

  75. Remy July 29, 2006 at 8:38 pm

    Thanks, APM. I believe that the comment f his that I was responding to was also focused on this thread. Is it fair to assume, Dr. Midgley, that the following statement also applies to the RfM types on this thread?

    Spend a couple of hours on RfM and then tell me of the evidence you could glean from what you read of lives of service to others, and the search for truth.

    This puzzles me. I’m not sure how much you can tell about a person from their comments. I’ve seen disrespect and meanspiritedness on blogs, and I don’t see much evidence in this thread.

    To turn it around, I’ve read your comments and some of your essays, and I don’t see much evidence of a life of service to others. Based on thess sliver, you seem combative and not very generous in your judgment of others. But I also realize that you’re typically engaged as a defender of the faith in polemic contexts. I give you the benefit of the doubt that you love the truth, you love your family, and that you are generally a good person.

    When you see people confidently coaching each other on how to trick their wives, husbands, children or parents into leaving the Church, while managing appearances to keep the sex coming, then tell me about the wonders of those people deeply hurt by the evil Church and in need of venting their anger. We need to be clear on exactly what and who we are talking about.

    I know a number of people who are disaffected with the Church. Many are born into Mormon families, marry spouses in the temple, and their children are/were being brought up in the church. They tend to have everything to lose, socially, by expressing doubts and concerns. I suspect that most people who doubt in the Church simply stay silent and lie in temple recommend interviews. i know thtat some who begin to voice their frustrations and concerns do so out of genuine pain and a desire to to place honesty above insincere conformity. I’m not saying that all dissenters are like this. But what evidence is there that MayanElephant, LunarQuaker, and CraigBa (just to toss in a few names) are not good, honest, people motivated by integrity rather than sex?

  76. Dave Sigmon July 29, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    I have decided to no longer use the username enochville at least not without giving my real name as well. I am Dave Sigmon (aka enochville).

  77. Daniel Peterson July 29, 2006 at 9:03 pm

    Speaking of “careful reading,” I don’t believe that I can see anything in Professor Midgley’s post claiming that all disaffected Mormons dissemble and deceive in order to get sex.

    He’s talking about some who DO (or, at any rate, claim to). I myself have seen more than a few people over at RfM — by no means all of them, but, still, a distressing number — engaging, or professing to engage, in precisely the behavior that Professor Midgley describes.

    And, by the way, abruptly addressing Professor Midgley simply as “Midgley,” rather than as “Mr. Midgley,” or “Professor Midgley,” or “Dr. Midgley,” or “Brother Midgley,” or even “Sir,” strikes me, personally, as combative and jarringly disrespectful. It would be better, to my taste, simply to omit direct address than to use it as a means of verbal aggression.

  78. Louis Midgley July 29, 2006 at 9:20 pm

    APJ:

    Please read what I posted again. Notice that I gave what I called my short answer to Remy’s question, formulated my way, so that I pushed the most radical alternatives. Of course, there are all kinds of people struggling with challenges and unanswered questions and real doubts, some one way and so another. I am not immune to any of these. But long ago I had a series of experiences with the Holy Spirit kicking me in the bum and turning me this way and that and in that process I made a covenant with God, which I renew often, to build and defend the Kingdom. So, when I publish something, those caught in the mess that we face here below are always part of my audience, from my point of view. Unless they are inclined to listen and not foam at the mouth, my audience is not those who already have made a decision against faith in God. I want to shame people away from RfM type secular nonsense, just as I want to shame people away from sectarian countercult anti-Mormonism and those I label Caliban. And, of course, to do that I pick some stark examples, as you will have noticed if you have read my introduction to FR 15/1 (2003), which I titled “On Caliban Mischief.” If you have even an inclination to take at all seriously even the possibility of divine things, then I do not think you should see me as the enemy. At least I hope that you see me more clearly than that. And I assume that you are serious about these matters.

  79. anon July 29, 2006 at 9:24 pm

    Dr. Peterson,

    Dr. Midgley was responding to Remy’s comment. Remy’s comment acknowledged the sort of people that Dr. Midgley had described earlier, but asks if Dr. Midgley can perhaps acknowledge others who may not be of RfM ilk. Dr. Midgley then simply reiterates his perception of typical RfM’ers, without addressing what Remy had asked him about. Remy makes a later comment that confirms that that was his question to Dr. Midgley. Hence, my ‘careful reading’ comment; to me it seemed clear that Dr. Midgley was either not reading carefully, or has no other interest than in perpetuating overly-uncharitable stereotypes of disaffected Mormons. Obviously there are some of the type that Dr. Midgely describes, but HE WAS RESPONDING TO A COMMENT THAT ASKED ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE.

    As to your accusation of being overly combative, aggressive and jarringly disrespectful, I apologize you took it that way. I honestly didn’t mean that by it. It just seemed weird to put his full name, and too assuming (since I’ve never met him) to put just his first name; and I had to put something, since I was specifically addressing the comment to him. You’re right, I should have prefaced “Midgley” with an appropriate title. I was not trying to get a rise out of anyone. (In my defense, this is just a blog; I would probably have shown more attention to that type of detail in a more academic setting)

    APJ

  80. Mike Parker July 29, 2006 at 9:28 pm

    We’ve probably moved away from this topic, but I want to return to the issue of seer stones for a moment.

    Part of the reason, I believe, that most members believe Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon purely from the Urim and Thummim is because that’s what they learned in classes that were taught from Church manuals. And Church manuals contain this information (or at least contained it — the current Gospel Doctrine lesson on the BofM translation says nothing about how the translation was accomplished).

    But why would the manuals say this? Because, up until recently, most LDS researchers believed it. Here is an example that was published in the October 1939 Improvement Era. Note especially the final paragraph:

    Martin Harris related an incident that occurred during the time that he wrote the portion of the translation of the Book of Mormon which he was favored to write direct from the mouth of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He said that the Prophet possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he then used the seer stone. Martin explained the translation as follows: “By aid of the seer stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin, and when finished he would say, ‘Written,’ and if correctly written, that sentence would disappear and another appear in its place, but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used.”

    Both David Whitmer and Martin Harris knew positively that they had been shown the plates by Moroni and had so declared since the time of the experience, but the Prophet declared in October, 1831, that no one knew the manner of the translation, neither was “it expedient for him to relate these things.” When both these men were past eighty years of age, and about fifty years after the event, they undertook to describe the manner of translation, which Elder Brigham H. Roberts has clearly shown is not in harmony with the manner indicated in Section 8 of the Doctrine and Covenants. (See New Witness for God, Vol. II, pages 106-133 by B. H. Roberts.) Moreover, they refer to the use of a seer stone by the Prophet. But no publication during his life contains such a statement.

    A neighbor, Willard Chase, asserted Joseph stole a “singularly appearing stone” which he had found in 1822 when Joseph and his brother Alvin were employed by him in digging a well. “Joseph put it into his hat and then his face into the top of his hat … alleging that he could see in it.”–Mormonism Unveiled, Eber D. Howe, 1834.

    This is an attempt to explain the alleged power of Joseph Smith to translate the plates by a person who denounced him as a fraud and an ignorant deceiver.

    In the opinion of the writer, the Prophet used no seer stone in translating the Book of Mormon, neither did he translate in the manner described by David Whitmer and Martin Harris. The statements of both of these men are to be explained by the eagerness of old age to call upon a fading and uncertain memory for the details of events which still remained real and objective to them.

    (Francis W. Kirkham, “The Manner of Translating The Book of Mormon.”)

    Now, a few points here:

    First, we see that Joseph Smith’s possession of a seer stone in addition to the Urim and Thummim has been discussed in official Church publications. This makes it difficult to charge that the Church has been engaged in a “cover up” of this information.

    Second, the author — who was a pioneer in the field of the documentary history of the Book of Mormon, and who was highly respected in his time — stated his opinion that Joseph “used no seer stone in translating the Book of Mormon.” This opinion carried a lot of weight. But this was Kirkham’s opinion, and it turns out he was just wrong. Better evidence and more rigorous historical methods have outdated his opinion.

    Third, right or wrong, his opinion (and the opinions of others like him) ended up in official Church manuals. So we have several generations of Saints raised to believe Kirkham’s version of events.

    So why don’t current Church manuals reflect the more recent — and better — research? This is a guess on my part, but I’d say it has to do with the nature of Church correlation and bureaucracy. Many of today’s CES employees have been taught in a rather insulated environment, one that places great weight on the teachings of Church leaders, and very little weight on the work of outside scholars. (The recently-published Book of Mormon Reference Companion is an excellent example of this: You can tell which contributors are [and aren’t] CES people simply by the references they cite.)

    I think we are seeing a slow shift toward acceptance of better, more recent research. But “the mills of the Church grind slowly,” as it were. It might take a while to see more of this coming from the Church in an official capacity.

    The worst that can be said about the Church bureaucracy — as with any bureaucracy — is that it’s inefficient and incompetent rather than designing and conspiring. Such is the case with the issue of seer stones and the translation of the Book of Mormon.

  81. anon July 29, 2006 at 9:31 pm

    Dr. Midgley,

    I’m glad you wrote that comment. I think it clears up what was bothering me about your previous comment. And I think it addresses more effectively what Remy was asking you about. (as to calling you ‘Midgley,’ if you were as offended by it as Dr. Peterson was, please see the explanation in my previous comment; it really was a simple mistake; no ill-will intended)

    APJ

  82. Louis Midgley July 29, 2006 at 9:39 pm

    John:

    I am Louis Midgley. At least the last time I checked my now–rats–expired New Zealand drivers care, which has a nice photo on it, I was that Louis Midgley. I am, of course, not quite sure about Professor Daniel C. Peterson–as everyone knows he is a shifty fellow who may at any moment morph into someone or something else.

    Now with this bit of play out of the way, I hope that you will turn up at the FAIR conference. I would very much like to meet my former former student who I have somehow managed to offend. Lunch will be one me. Ok?

  83. Daniel Peterson July 29, 2006 at 9:40 pm

    Thanks, APJ.

  84. Louis Midgley July 29, 2006 at 9:42 pm

    I do not mind being addressed as Midgley.

  85. Daniel Peterson July 29, 2006 at 9:46 pm

    I mind it. I’m a sensitive soul.

    But I genuinely do appreciate both APJ’s explanation of why he used it and his apology.

  86. Louis Midgley July 29, 2006 at 10:12 pm

    Mike Parker has raised an interesting issue. Francis Kirkham just could not believe that Joseph Smith used a seer stone. I am sitting here with a Word Perfect file on this very topic. In this thing I discuss my own first encounter with a people who were deeply into seer stones. I have in mind the Maori. They believed that matakite (seers) had two of them–Hukatai and Rehutai. The two homes used as offices for the Maori Studies program at Auckland University are called by those names. When the first LDS kids started teaching the Maori, they told them about the Book of Mormon. And the Maori wanted to know how Joseph was able to dictate a 500 page book. Those missionaries used the usual label, but the Maori wanted to know what that was. And when they heard of two stones, that very much impressed tham. But the missionaries, since they were not listening to the Maori, did not realize what had happened.

    Now the irony. Francis Kirkham, who found the idea that Joseph Smith used a seer stone, was once a missionary in New Zealand and he was very good with the Maori language. He wrote what a book that was used for many years by missionaries to learn Maori. I have read his remarkable diary. I know exactly where he served his mission and I know Saints with the same surnames that he taught. Kirkham’s diary reports his growing love of the Book of Mormon, but there is not a single word indicating that he ever listened to the Maori tell their story. I am confident that if he had been sensitive to the cultural transaction taking place, he would not have fought the idea that God sometimes reveals things to seers in some strange way through stones.

    If you have seen that nice little Kiwi film called the Whale Rider, you might like to know that the popular version has that fellow ride a whale from Rarotonga to New Zealand but the older esoteric version is that the canoe he bossed got caught in a huge storm and he asked the matakite for help and was told to look for a whale and follow it. The Maori navigated by looking at the swells, and watching the stars and fish and birds and a big storm would make that impossible.

    Since I have everyone’s attention, let me explain something about the word matakite. Mata means eye or face, and kite means to find, or recognize and hence see. Put together one has the Maori for seer. There are, I hope I am remembering correctly, the word for window is mataaho. And you are right now–yes you who are reading this–taking some instruction from a ahorangi. Rangi means heavens and aho is line or string. Ahorangi is Maori for professor. So I am, in Maori, speaking down a line to you from above. I am fond of that language, but I have what one of my colleagues called an irrational sentimentality for everything Maori.

  87. Louis Midgley July 29, 2006 at 10:37 pm

    I must admit that Remy’s remarks about what he sees or does not see in my essays bothers me a lot. Let me explain why. Some you know that I was very fond of Hugh Nibley. If you are not aware of this, have a look at my tribute to him entitled “A Mighty Kauri has Fallen,” FARMS Review 17/1 (2005): 337-54. What you might not know, but you should know, that Hugh had a very difficult time accepting (and also expressing) affection. Why? His wife has explained to me in considerable detail that he never thought he was worthy of love. As I have listened to all of this, I have seen in Hugh something in me. The fact is that I feel guilty for not manifesting love to those who need it, whether or not they seem to deserve it.

    But, you should also know that my affection for New Zealand is partly to be explained, as my friends know only too well, because I am quite a different person down there among those scruffy Maori. There I am now no longer argumentative. So, as Remy and the rest of you should know, I loved visiting the sex offenders unit of an Auckland prison one afternoon a week for two years. I realize that this will be hard to believe, but there I was with people that I loved and could express my affection to. And those people accepted me despite my being a pale face and whatever goes with professor.

    When my wife and I arrived I greeted the Maori and some others by placing my left arm on the back of the other one and taking the placing my right hand in there right and and then touching the nose and forhead. If you saw the Whale Rider, you saw this greeting taking place between Maori gents in the scene filmed in an Auckland hospital. And you saw it at the end when the little girl revived the whale by touching he nose and forhead to the head of the whale. This is a ritual greeting in which the breath of life is exchanged.

    Every time I greeted those fellows in that prison I could look right into their eyes only an inch away and I often saw tears. This happened both with my wife and I arrived and when we departed.

    In that situation I know myself as quite a different person. And I like myself better there among my Maoir friends than I do here. And I am, I must admit, deeply troubled when someone says that none of this comes through in my essays. So I am not offended by what Remy said. I am, instead, just shamed by it. Now I realize that in all of this I have opened myself up in ways that I usually do not do. But so what? I have no illusions about how good I am. I just put my trust in God and hope for the best. And my offering on the altar is in part my effort to defend the Kingdom. It pains me that I cannot do a much better job.

    I suppose in the real world Remy and I might be close friends, but slogging in the blogs this is difficult if not impossible. I am not quite sure that the cyber world is all that much better place than the real world or at least part of the real world that I encounter with my friends and associates.

  88. mayan elephant July 29, 2006 at 10:39 pm

    Wow!!!

    Its all star day at Mormon Stories. What is the occasion? Do tell?

  89. mayan elephant July 29, 2006 at 10:50 pm

    “If someone through their own sloth and indifference sets themselves up for a surprise, then they have only themselves to blame, since all of this is rather well known among those even the least bit interested–that is, among those who think about such matters and read. And I have you–you who are reading this–and who are all in a fury about the evil Church keeping you in the dark.”

    Sloth and Indifference? Is that any way to talk about thomas monson? Speak evil of the lords annointed much?

    Midgley, I have two challenges for you.

    First, show me one example of the word “peepstone” or the words “staring into a hat” in any primary instruction manual or gospel doctrine manual in the last 35 years. i aint saying its never happened, im simply asking for the reference.

    The second, show me three examples over monsons career where he has referenced “peepstones” or “staring into a hat” in general conference.

    should be pretty simple.

    after you show me all the references, we can collectively compare that to the references where supermodel oliver and supercitizen joseph are sitting in studious contemplation by lamplight staring at a stack of gold while ollie scribes the english version of ancient reformed egyptian. and then we can compare this to the truth restored version of the plates/translation story.

    it doesnt seem like much to ask, really. i mean, if its slothful to have not figured it out, then examples must be collecting dust in every library of every cinderblocked chapel in america and beyond.

    cant wait to hear from you.

  90. mayan elephant July 29, 2006 at 10:55 pm

    oh, by the way, dr. peterson. your sarcasm is unacceptable and just plain offensive. its almost surreal. you arent aloud to be funny ya know. now knock it off right this minute, i just cant relate to that sort of wit.

    which one of y’all got all busy describing tals facial hair? that was darling.

  91. Louis Midgley July 29, 2006 at 11:12 pm

    M. Elephant posted as follows: “Its all star day at Mormon Stories. What is the occasion? Do tell?” This is an easy one. I believe it is called slumming. Even some of us from down on the Farms do it occasionally.

  92. McKay Curtis July 29, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    Thanks for your last comment Brother Midgley (about your experiences with the Maori and your own personal feelings of inadequacy). The only writings of yours that I have read have been on this blog, and I feel your last comment paints a better picture of you than the negative reputation you seemed to have aquired among some in the blogging world. Thanks for being open.

    McKay

  93. Louis Midgley July 29, 2006 at 11:40 pm

    E. Elephant insists on picking a fight. He challenges me to provide “any primary instruction manual or gospel doctrine manual in the last 35 years.” I don’t recall ever having seen a Primary instruction manual. And I detest SS and GD manuals. Oh, I look at them to find out what I should be teaching or what should be discussed–say 1 Nephi 1-5. And then I try hard a couple of weeks before that lesson to have read and carefully thought through the texts assigned.

    Do you think that your complaint about lesson materials somehow demonstrates that God does not exist, that Jesus of Nazareth was not the Messiah or Christ, that the Book of Mormon is not an authentic ancient history? I doubt that you do. Then why bring up such things? Would you change your mind about Joseph Smith if Elder Monson constantly mentioned peepstones? It appears to me that what you have complained about it how some things are taught. And about the silly kitch that is used to illustrate a story that the so-called artist obviously did not understand.

    Now let me turn this around. Had you ever heard about seer stones and seers among the Maori? Well, why not? They are mentioned in the Improvement Era. Did Thomas Monson order you not to examine that source? If the Improvement Era could call attention to Hukatai and Rehutai, then was there some evil plot to keep the Saints in ignorance of such things? I am just having a hard time seeing what exactly you are trying to demonstrate. If your point is to demonstrate that the Saints are not infallible or inerrant, then you are thrashing a Straw Man.

  94. mayan elephant July 30, 2006 at 12:06 am

    no fight here.

    i am simply asking for references to peepstones. thats all.

    i didnt realize the mauris were part of mormon history.

    and as for my reference to monson, he has been a revelator for a long time. as far as i know, longer than thirteen of the other fourteen men. he is but one name i could have picked.

    i am not a regular reader of the improvement era. didnt realize that was the source of greater knowledge. again, my bad apparently.

    i am simply asking, if its slothful to not know of peepstones, then the topic must be amply discussed in standard manuals of instruction and in general conference. perhaps you have references.

    what i am demonstrating is equally simple. that it is not unreasonable for someone to feel surprised to learn of peepstones. i do disagree that one should feel slothful upon hearing that bit of information.

    i said nothing of infallible or inerrant saints so the tin man or straw man or whatever doesnt really apply here.

    so, lets resimplify. show me the references to peepstones in resources available to the average church member or instructor, and lets compare that to other descriptions of the translation process. thats all. i am a simple hellchild, i cant really get to fancy about this stuff. i dont have the capacity.

  95. Louis Midgley July 30, 2006 at 12:31 am

    McKay:

    There is a war going on over the historical foundations of the faith of the Saints. The FARMS Review has been for seventeen years the primary place where Latter-day Saints could find competent, accurate, well-written responses to various arguments agains our faith. It is also the only place where those disposed and qualified to defend the faith could publish their work.

    But, if you know of these things only from the nacle, or from certain people who are much like Vidkum Quisling (1887-1945), you will hear all kinds of nasty rumors and see a lot of very negative things posted about our efforts to defend the faith. And the fact is that this is sometimes done by people who are devout believers. The reason should be obvious.

    The FARMS Review is free on line. I urge you–all of your–to begin to read it.

    Right on this thread I have noticed the claim made that the exhaustive examinations of virtually every portion of Grant Palmer’s book were essentially a lot of name-calling and personal attacks. This is just nonsense. There is no insulting language in any of those essays. There are no personal attacks. If you add Richard Bushman’s highly negative opinon of Palmer’s book to the views expressed by James Allen and Davis Bitton, you end up with the three leading LDS historians taking apart that book. And in Mark Ashurt-McGee you have the leading authority on the treasure seeking lore that is so often part of the attack on Joseph Smith. Steven Harper also provided a fine essay set out in moderate language. My essay is, among other things, a bit of intellectual history. It is a serious mistake to see intellectual history as a personal attack.

    Now I have to admit that there is one sentence in my essay that I regret. I will have to quote myself from memory. “For his contnuing focus on Jesus,” I think I wrote near the end, “and for whatever good he accomplished at the Salt Lake County Jail, Palmer is, I suppose, to be commended.” I very much regret having included that “I suppose” remark. When I saw it in print, I wished that those two little words had not been included. The reason is, I place a very high value on efforts to minister in any way to those in jails and prisons and even a fondness for the Jesus of Protestant liberalism is better than no foundness at all.

    With my fellow editors, I made a huge effort to avoid anything that could be read as snotty, sarcastic, insulting and so forth.

    But I am also aware that those who cannot deal with the issues we raise, will continue to libel those who publish in the FARMS Review. If you really do not like the message, and cannot respond, then about the only thing that remains is to bawl about tone, style and, of course, to wrongly claim that what has been published is mean-spirited, nasty and so forth. For his efforts, Dan Peterson has constantly been pictured as a monster. I have taken a little of this myself. You will notice that Dan’s spoof above. Dan has taken far more hits than I have. I am much more disposed to what Dan gets blamed for than he ever is. I have never met anyone less inclined to being mean than Dan. And this includes James Allen and Noel Reynolds and Richard Bushman, who are all real gents.

  96. Louis Midgley July 30, 2006 at 12:38 am

    E. Elephant:

    Every reference to the Interpretors, under any name, is a reference to what can be called seer stones. This is clear to people who just think about what is being said. When we use the label U&T it just sounds familiar. That is all. And that one is called as a prophet (one who speaks for God) or as a revelator (one who reveals some otherwise hidden thing), does not mean that they will oblige any of us with information about something about which we might be curious. The Spirit blows where it wills and no one can control it.

  97. Louis Midgley July 30, 2006 at 12:53 am

    M. Elephant:

    You indicated, among other things, that you were previously not aware that Maori “were part of Mormon history.” Well they are in various different ways. There are, of course, Maori Saints. They did then and still do carry with them Maori lore and they fit that lore into their understanding of Mormon things, just like we who happen live along the Wasatch Front do. It is well-known that there were at least four Maori prophets who prepared their people for the arrival of LDS missionaries and for the message they would bring. I think that this is rather widely known.

    From my way of seeing things, Mormon history involves more than merely forts, camps and trails. And it is far more than just the story of the Brethren. I am about to visit Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. And I will have an opportunity to meet a few Saints there, as well as missionaries. So from my way of seeing things the history of those places is now part of the Mormon past. I will go further. When I discovered that China has four sacred mountains, I almost thought that I understood something about those people. And when I went inside the gate in the wall surrounding a a Chinese Temple, I always saw an uncut linestone pillar. I knew that it was a small replica of a sacred mountain. I imagined that I knew a tiny bit of the ancient Chinese world from an LDS perspective.

  98. Mike Parker July 30, 2006 at 2:18 am

    I don’t know about instruction manuals, but the phrase “seer stone,” “seer-stone,” or “seerstone” appears 28 times in the three English-language Church magazines (Ensign 21x, New Era 2x, Friend 5x) from 1971 to 1999 (which is as far as my CD-ROM infobase goes).

    Here are a few selections:

    The Prophet Joseph alone knew the full process, and he was deliberately reluctant to describe details. We take passing notice of the words of David Whitmer, Joseph Knight, and Martin Harris, who were observers, not translators. David Whitmer indicated that as the Prophet used the divine instrumentalities provided to help him, “the hieroglyphics would appear, and also the translation in the English language … in bright luminous letters.” Then Joseph would read the words to Oliver (quoted in James H. Hart, “About the Book of Mormon,” Deseret Evening News, 25 Mar. 1884, 2). Martin Harris related of the seer stone: “Sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin” (quoted in Edward Stevenson, “One of the Three Witnesses: Incidents in the Life of Martin Harris,” Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, 6 Feb. 1882, 86–87). Joseph Knight made similar observations (see Dean Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History,” BYU Studies 17 [Autumn 1976]: 35).

    [Neal A. Maxwell, “By the Gift and Power of God,” Ensign, Jan. 1997]

    [Quoting David Whitmer:] “Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.” (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, Richmond, Mo.: n.p., 1887, p. 12.)

    [Russell M. Nelson, “A Treasured Testament,” Ensign, July 1993, 62]

    After returning from a trip to Palmyra to settle his affairs, Martin began to transcribe. From April 12 to June 14, Joseph translated while Martin wrote, with only a curtain between them. On occasion they took breaks from the arduous task, sometimes going to the river and throwing stones. Once Martin found a rock closely resembling the seerstone Joseph sometimes used in place of the interpreters and substituted it without the Prophet’s knowledge. When the translation resumed, Joseph paused for a long time and then exclaimed, “Martin, what is the matter, all is as dark as Egypt.” Martin then confessed that he wished to “stop the mouths of fools” who told him that the Prophet memorized sentences and merely repeated them.

    [Kenneth W. Godfrey, “A New Prophet and a New Scripture: The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, Jan. 1988]

    The person who best reflects Martin Harris is probably Edward Stevenson, since he spent nearly two months with the Witness after going to Ohio to escort him back to Utah in 1870. On the means of translation Stevenson reported, “He said that the Prophet possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he then used the seer stone.”

    [Richard Lloyd Anderson, “By the Gift and Power of God,” Ensign, Sept. 1977]

    And this last one was in the Friend!

    Joseph also used an egg-shaped, brown rock for translating called a seer stone. The translating was done at Peter Whitmer’s home, a friend of the Prophet’s where Oliver Cowdery, Emma Smith (Joseph’s wife), one of the Whitmers, or Martin Harris wrote down the words spoken by the Prophet as soon as they were made known to him.

    Martin Harris said that on the seer stone “sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by [the one writing them down] and when finished [that person] would say ‘written;’ and if correctly written, the sentence would disappear and another take its place; but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates.”

    Even with the help of the Urim and Thummim and the seer stone, it wasn’t easy to translate the sacred record. It required the Prophet’s greatest concentration and spiritual strength.

    [n/a, “A Peaceful Heart,” Friend, Sept. 1974]

    Richard Lloyd Anderson’s articles “The Alvin Smith Story: Fact and Fiction” (Ensign, Aug. 1987) and “By the Gift and Power of God” (Ensign, Sept. 1977) also have quite a bit of information on Joseph Smith’s seerstone and recollections of how he used it.

  99. Louis Midgley July 30, 2006 at 3:17 am

    Mike Parker has jus scored a direct hit under the water line. Down she goes.

    Oh, I tried to point out that I meant to type M. Elephat; I was not grading elephants. I wonder what that handle is supposed to mean. It is probably obvious but not to me.

  100. John Dehlin July 30, 2006 at 3:21 am

    Dr. Midgley,

    I really, really appreciate you taking the time to write this: https://mormonstories.org/?p=130#comment-24107

    I also appreciate you and Dr. Peterson taking the time to post on Mormon Stories (I’m interpreting the “slumming” comment as tongue in cheek of course). :)

    I am gonna make every attempt to attend FAIR next Friday, and I hope to be able to take you up on your kind offer for lunch. It’s gonna be a hard time for me, because a family vacation starts that day, but I’m gonna make every effort.

    Anyway, I agree most of all with your comment to Remy–that if we were all able to sit down, face to face, and get to know each other better–much of this would be cleared up.

    I very much look forward to making this a dream come true. I believe you when you say it.

    John

  101. mayan elephant July 30, 2006 at 8:19 am

    all fair examples indeed mr. midgley. 28 references in 35 years. did you run the search for references to the hat? not urgent, just curious. i do suppose that the searches that included the ensign would include conference talks. so, as far as i can tell there are few references made during conference during my time on earth, or at least you havent highlighted any from may/november ensigns.

    less than one reference per year? how does that compare to other key events and topics?

  102. Daniel Peterson July 30, 2006 at 8:44 am

    We have to frankly admit that there isn’t yet a regular monthly feature in the Ensign entitled “The Stone in the Hat.”

    Still, nearly one explicit reference and/or discussion per year over the past three and a half decades hardly constitutes a conspiracy to “suppress.”

  103. mayan elephant July 30, 2006 at 9:04 am

    Midgley,

    The mayan elephant handle was spontaneous second effort. Nothing fancy, I was looking for a picture of a mayan cumom and coming up with nothing, so I settled on a mayan elephant.

    I appreciate that you showed another side of yourself in this thread of comments. I have no doubt in my mind that you are a very different person than what you seem to be in your essays. I think we are all better people when we are doing good for others, not just following the rules kind of good, but being what we really want to be and doing damn fine things for those that need it most. Fortunately, I never have to look far for affirmation of that theory, I happen to live with the most charitable and amazing wife on the planet. All y’all enjoy second place in the great-wife contest. I pretty much locked down the top spot.

    I believe that if you and I were to sit down at a ward potluck, or at the Utah saloon, we would leave with different impressions of one another.

    That said, I hope you also understand why people have a different impression of FARMS and perhaps why that is projected onto individuals within the organization. You may not agree that there are many in the church that feel sad or betrayed. Blake Ostler refuses to accept that fact, perhaps you can. Or, maybe you can just create a fictional scenario where sad and betrayed people exist. FARMS appears to them as a defender of the perpetrator of this betrayal. In a very legalistic way, FARMS digs deep into their bag of stuff to explain things with long long lengthy wordy extended very detailed long crafty long and lengthy explanations. And sometimes, it leaves the person on the other end asking a few things: Why didn’t I know? How would I have known this? Why do I feel shocked? And do I really have to be as smart, wise, entrenched and educated as this author to figure all this out? Does God not have a simpler method for me?

    Now before you get all Blake ostler on my pachyderm skin, those questions are not part of a scientific survey and I am not speaking for all people and some are based on the questions I have read here at mormonstories. Whew, please, spare the Blake blade of burning fire.

    Now, more specifically. I have mentioned here and in other blogs how great my wife is. When we processing all these doubts and concerns she was still leading the women at church. She had many of the same questions that people on here have posted. And she wanted to explore them. She went to a mormon woman she knew well and trusted. Met for lunch. And talked until she cried. They both cried. My wife’s friend was a Saint to meet with her and take the time to explain many things.

    Now, imagine my shock midgley. When, after this very positive experience, I found an essay on FARMS that you had written about that woman’s family. Full of personal attacks, judgments and sneers and bizarrity. I don’t mean her extended family like we are all related to Brigham young, I mean her family. Her husband. I was shocked. And it had your name all over it in black and white. In some ways, I am sure you were just doing your job when you wrote it. But, I can’t help but wonder what the point is? Who put you up for this?

    I laughed out loud, really, not just that “LOL” thing people type, but I really laughed, when I later shared a meal with the person you were talking about in your essay and one of your apostles. Imagine the irony. And everyone was nice. Can you believe that? Everyone was nice? Except me of course. I was just picking fights.

  104. Remy July 30, 2006 at 9:10 am

    Dr. Midgley,

    John Dehlin took the words right out of my er…keyboard. Thank you for sharing a very personal experience, and I am grateful for the reminder that behind every comment is a beautiful, complex human being.

  105. mayan elephant July 30, 2006 at 9:11 am

    Dan said: Still, nearly one explicit reference and/or discussion per year over the past three and a half decades hardly constitutes a conspiracy to “suppress.”

    i may have thrown the big conspiracy bit around loosely at ranting points of my ragingness. but i have backed off that i think. what matters to me, is that there becomes a generally accepted understanding that many, if not most people, do not know these details. and those same people are entitled to a bit of sympathy if they feel shocked or betrayed upon learning the details. thats all.

    4 references in a magazine every 5 years may counter the conspiracy theory, but it sure as hell aint a pr push for the truth, if ya know what i mean. so, lets cut the folks that are just figuring it out some slack, and lets beat the folks that have been hiding this with sticks and seerstones and break their bones.

  106. Daniel Peterson July 30, 2006 at 1:56 pm

    Four references every five years to a relatively technical matter of late-1820s history in the Church’s official magazine strikes me as, really, quite surprisingly frequent. It’s not as if the Ensign is the Journal of Mormon History, or as if it otherwise treats the history of the 1820s and 1830s very often.

    Incidentally, I’m told that the nasty and unpleasant tone of my posts here has led at least one person to suspect that I’m not really who I say I am, but a troll seeking to discredit the real Dan Peterson.

    I promise that I am who I claim to be. Anyone doubting that should feel free to contact me for confirmation, at daniel_peterson@byu.edu.

    I apologize for the viciousness. I’ve been even worse here, if that’s remotely believable, than I typically am in the extended bouts of name-calling, invective, and insults that substitute for logic and evidence in my published work.

  107. Steve EM July 30, 2006 at 2:27 pm

    Great post. I’m guessing the Frontline thing will likely be balanced, as in the end these things are about entertainment. Most LDS want a puff piece and don’t grasp how boring that is. Balanced is usually appreciated by viewers, but even biased against is far better for us than a puff piece. What was that missionary documentary a few years ago that upset so many LDS? I was amazed how balanced it was, particularly after I learn how church authorities had really screwed up the gal’s project by reneging on prior commitments. The second mission Pres, in particular, caused us major harm. And yet, I don’t think the gal was vengeful.

    Regarding the RFM board, as critical as I often am of the church, it may surprise some I don’t visit RFM very often and have never commented there. The place is quite sad. There’s a few from my mission who post there; generally sympathetic victims of a certain GA’s circa 1979 tough love speeches and the Satanic book “Drawing on the Powers of Heaven”. I have good memories of working with most of those people and can relate to their experiences and rationale for leaving. But more representative is one total nut job I served with that posts the most plodding rubbish there. The poor guy was a Pace groupie who actually believed some pre-mission blessing that he’d baptize hundreds in France and was praying on his mission for a visitation from Christ to make his election sure! I didn’t know that until reading his posts, but I did remember he was hell on his comps and into bizarre unhealthy diets. I think at one point he was only eating peas. In one of his RFM rants he volunteers, for those who might care, that he never masturbated. Ironic that if he had, he might not have had so many issues and perhaps might still be in the church. So perhaps he was a victim of Pace and BKP, in the end messed up by constrained plumbing? Or just another sad case of orthodoxy always leading to apostasy? People of faith who question from the get-go are just better equipped to filter out the rubbish, go with the flow and hang in for the duration. I advise young people: G-d gave you a brain, use it!

    For the record, I’m active and believing, but obviously most unorthodox.

  108. mayan elephant July 30, 2006 at 2:33 pm

    “It’s not as if the Ensign is the Journal of Mormon History, or as if it otherwise treats the history of the 1820s and 1830s very often.”

    true dat.

    so perhaps we should stick to teaching manual references. have you ever seen a hatstone reference there?

    though, dan, isnt every story about joseph smith part of that period of history? i have seen a lot of joseph smith stuff in the ensign, particularly last year. were any of the 28 references from 2005?

    feel free to respond with insults and name-calling and viciousness and invective with your evidence. or, lack of evidence. i dont think logic applies here, but you should feel free to avoid that too if you want. its your call ya playground bully.

  109. Daniel Peterson July 30, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    ME: “feel free to respond with insults and name-calling and viciousness and invective with your evidence. or, lack of evidence. i dont think logic applies here, but you should feel free to avoid that too if you want. its your call ya playground bully.”

    I assume you’re joking.

    Seriously, though, I’m baffled by the claim that I’ve been negative, offensive, and nasty here.

    Candidly, I’m puzzled by the image that I have in certain quarters of being vicious and unscrupulous. It seems to have taken on a life of its own, whatever I do or say. Among other things, though, it often permits people to dismiss the actual content of what I write without giving it a hearing. Perhaps that explains it.

  110. mayan elephant July 30, 2006 at 2:39 pm

    absolute sarcasm. not to be confused with abolut vodka.

    though, i would still love to see those references in the manuals. (seriously)

  111. Daniel Peterson July 30, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    I’ve just glanced through the Institute manual “Church History in the Fulness of Times,” and did not find mention of the seer stone there (although I gave that manual only a hasty look, and such a reference may still exist there).

    Someone else will have to look at other manuals.

    I woudn’t be surprised if the seer stone isn’t mentioned. First of all, the seer stone was often called the “Urim and Thummim” by Oliver Cowdery and other contemporary witnesses. Second, the treatments in the manuals are typically quite brief and cursory, without much detail of any kind. Third, I’ve never seen why it should matter very much whether Joseph dictated the Book of Mormon by looking into two rocks that were always termed the Urim and Thummim, or by looking into one rock that was FREQUENTLY called the Urim and Thummim.

    Whatever its presence or absence in the manuals, though, the seer stone is constantly discussed in the relevant scholarly studies, appearing in such places as BYU Studies, Dialogue, the Journal of Mormon History, the FARMS Review, the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, etc., and in books from Deseret, Bookcraft, FARMS, BYU Press, and the like.

  112. mayan elephant July 30, 2006 at 3:29 pm

    dan, i sorta get where you are coming from. if i understand you correctly, you are saying that it doesnt need to be in the manuals if it is in other places. well, i disagree. there is too much emphasis in teaching from manuals, scriptures and conference talks. quite frankly, the average joe/jane doesnt have time to go exploring in all those places.

    we already went over your other point. its true that hats with rocks and breatplates with rocks are all equally outrageous. that is not the point, the point is this – if one is led to believe something that turns out to be imperfect truth, trust is lost. and dan, you dont need to apologize for that, if anything, you have done more to share the truth than your employer. (you also apologize for your employer too, but thats not topical here, that thread got shut down.)

    also, i would suggest that the issue goes well beyond the definition of the urim and thumbin’. in most cases i would say that whether there were rocks or baseball cards in the u and t isnt much of an issue. and whether the rocks were named urim and thummim is not the issue. rather, the conflict lies more in the image. most folks are led to believe that joseph was looking at images on gold plates and that the words corresponded to images on those same plates. finding out that he never looked at the plates, nobody *really* saw the plates, and that the story actually corresponds to words scrolling across a rock in a hat, is the issue.

    it lead to one of those moments that are cleverly referred to with a three letter acronym. ya know, one of *those* moments.

    so, you gave up on the stones references. any count on “hat” references?

  113. Daniel Peterson July 30, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    ME: “quite frankly, the average joe/jane doesnt have time to go exploring in all those places.”

    If “the average joe/jane” has missed nearly one reference or even discussion annually for the past thirty-five years in the Church’s low-subscription-cost and virtually omnipresent official magazine, s/he needs to spend a little less time watching “American Idol.”

    ME: “nobody *really* saw the plates”

    I categorically reject that casual assumption. At least thirteen people saw the plates. And several others felt them and “hefted” them.

  114. Dave Sigmon July 30, 2006 at 3:47 pm

    The real heart of the matter for me is that the peepstone, or seerstone, that Joseph used to translate the BoM is the same stone he used in his mystical money digging ventures of which none were ever successful. He once accurately predicted the location of a feather once, but it is quite likely he placed it where it was found to cause people to believe he had abilities that he did not to see real things in that stone. Now some apologist will find some way to bail him out of this too. (By the way, you would make fairly good defense attorneys).

    I believe he deceived people by making them think he could see things in that stone and he did it again with the Book of Mormon. What evidence leads me to believe that the gift to see things in that stone was pretended and not genuine? All the evidence against the Book of Mormon (all the evidence for the Book of Mormon can in my estimation be easily explained away). Of course much has been written by apologists attempting to explain away the evidence against the Book of Mormon. I’ll will admit that there is ever so slight, yet still present, wiggle room for the apologists in defending the BoM. Although many of their explanations are outlandish, especially on topics like DNA evidence.

    This is why I hang my hat on the Book of Abraham. In my opinion there is no wiggle room for an apologist on this issue, and I am up to date on all the latest attempts. To me, the fact that it is a fraud is quite clear, even allowing for missing papyri, or even that it was just a reevelation independent of any kind of translation process. Now, some people who admit the fraud say that it is ok because he only wanted to bring people closer to Christ, others say that he once was a true prophet but became a fallen prophet by the time of the BoA. I say when I consider all the evidence that he was a fraud from the beginning (his peepstone days) and it is not ok.

  115. Daniel Peterson July 30, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    I’m obviously not bright enough or familiar enough with the ancient Near East to share your view of the Book of Abraham, so I’ll stick with the Book of Mormon.

    I don’t see what is outlandish about what the various (sometimes world-class) biochemists, geneticists, etc., have written regarding DNA. In fact, I think John Butler’s recent little article on the topic pretty well puts it to bed.

    Nor do I agree that all of the evidence for the Book of Mormon can easily be explained away, nor that the evidence against it is lethal.

  116. Daniel Peterson July 30, 2006 at 4:01 pm

    Incidentally, I’ve recently offered my take on some of the evidence for the Book of Mormon — by no means all of it — in an essay entitled “Not So Easily Dismissed: Some Facts for Which Counterexplanations of the Book of Mormon Will Need to Account.” It is accessible via

    https://tinyurl.com/htalx

    Most of the essay, of course, is mere name-calling, ad hominem, innuendo, and viciousness. My usual approach. But, when my thesaurus of nasty insults occasionally let me down, I sometimes incorporated a substantive thought or two.

  117. Dave Sigmon July 30, 2006 at 4:03 pm

    Daniel Peterson,

    By saying this, “I’m obviously not bright enough or familiar enough with the ancient Near East to share your view of the Book of Abraham, so I’ll stick with the Book of Mormon.”

    You make it look like I have attacked your intelligence, which I have not. Also, you seem to be invoking your expertice as though that alone means you have the better argument. And the sacrastic tone in effect puts down my intelligence. Yet, you fail to see how you cause offense. Perhaps, if you really car about your image of being vicious and you want to find out what it is you are doing to cause offense, look at what you are saying and imagine it being said right back to you.

  118. Daniel Peterson July 30, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    If you consider that insulting and offensive, I suggest that you get out more.

    You handed me a bunch of undocumented assertions about the current state of the facts and the arguments.

    I don’t buy them.

    But I’m not insulted by them. I can endure opinions that differ from mine.

    You suggested that I would make a good defense attorney — by which, it seems undeniably clear, you were insinuating that I’m given to sophistries and to twisting or spinning the facts in order to argue for the conclusion that I’ve been assigned to defend.

    That’s rather insulting. But I don’t permit myself to be insulted by such things.

  119. Dave Sigmon July 30, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    Dr. Peterson,

    I am not offended; I am just showing you how your statements can cause offense.

    I can endure opinions that differ from mine. I am fine with the fact that we disagree.

  120. mayan elephant July 30, 2006 at 4:45 pm

    seargent dan, i salute you with my spiritual hand.

    now, how many references are there to a hat?

    i have never seen a single episode of american idol. but, i have heard it is true.

    and Dan, can i ask you a question? when you and the boys at FARMS get together or review one anothers work. has it ever come up in discussion, or in your personal reflection, that the explanations may be difficult for some members? even the goodhearted ones.

    have you ever discussed why you are in a position to make these defenses or explanations, when the brethren themselves are not doing the same?

    if you have never asked yourselves that, why?
    and if you have wondered, what what what was that like for you or the group?

    here is your chance to look human Dan, run with it. or, monster it up and get vicious. whatever suits you.

    with all my love,

    mayan luciphant

  121. Steve EM July 30, 2006 at 4:53 pm

    Surprisingly, I have to side with DP on this thread jack. You antis are nit picking. BKP apparently lost the internal debate regarding candid church history some time ago, and for some reason, you guys want to go on beating a dead horse in some stuggle to prove the unprovable against the BofM. For the record, the historicity of the BofM doesn’t matter to me, although, as DP alludes, those who promote the allegory or fraud positions do seem to ignore the witnesses. But in the end, I just don’t care. I find some parts of the book clunky and others inspirational and I have no reason to disbelieve JS’s claim that he didn’t write it.

  122. Dave Sigmon July 30, 2006 at 5:13 pm

    Steve,

    I can only speak for myself, but I don’t ignore the witnesses. Grant Palmer pointed out in his interview on MormonStories that Martin Harris confessed in the Kirtland Temple that none of the eleven witnesses ever saw the golden plates with their natural eyes. They only saw them with their spiritual eyes, second sight (i.e., their imagination). All of the witnesses were knee-deep in mysticism and knew Joseph because they were also into peep stones and divining rods and such. They agreed to sign the “Witness” statements because Joseph convinced them that seeing things with second sight was just as good as seeing them with their natural eyes, so they signed the statement that they saw the plates and the 8 said they handled a number of leaves.

    Their credibility is in question as they all believed in magical thinking. Now, that some plates existed is clear as some had the priviledge of hefting the covered plates. I don’t know where those plates come from; based on everything else I certainly don’t believe he found them on the hill or got them from an angel. My best guess currently is that he made them out of common tin which was often used in construction at the time.

    Now you probably don’t agree with the way I handle the witnesses. That is fine, but I do not ignore them.

  123. Steve EM July 30, 2006 at 6:05 pm

    DS,
    I love “Their credibility is in question as they all believed in magical thinking”. I guess that makes suspect any oath from any person who professes any faith in anything. Yep, you’re a nit picker. As DP knows, I have little patience for antis and apologists alike, so I find it strange I’m taking his side on this one.

  124. -Domokun- July 30, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    Steve EM said, “Or just another sad case of orthodoxy always leading to apostasy? People of faith who question from the get-go are just better equipped to filter out the rubbish, go with the flow and hang in for the duration.”

    First of all, I’d like to refute your implied idea that all apostates were former mindless, blind-obedience types. In my experience in the DAMU, apostates come from a wide range of orthodoxy, with most of them being fairly, but not ultra-orthodox, much like a typical cross-section of mormons in general. I don’t think that your implied observation that the only people who apostatize start out as ultra-orthodox “morgbots”. It’s certainly not the case with me, and with many fine people I know in the DAMU. I’ve always questioned things, and while my practise was strict, (TR worthy, not overly extremist there, either,) I used to consider myself a liberal thinker, in regards to Mormonism.

    But an even more important question to ask whether or not your observation is or isn’t factually and statistically true, is to ask the rhetorical question, “What kind of organization/religion can only hold on those people who don’t agree with all of it?” Can you imagine the quality of a doctor who only selectively follows her education? Can imagine the quality of a lawyer who only obeys some of the laws? What about the quality of code from a computer programmer who only follows part of the established standard? (OK, you might get me on that one with the MicroSoft example, no offense, John Dehlin.)

    Forget all of the arguments about the many so-called facts that may or may not be provable, and may or may not support or detract from the Book of Mormon or Book of Abraham, and look at the church as an organization. Is this really the best thing that God, the Creator of the Universe, can do? Really?

  125. Mike Parker July 30, 2006 at 6:57 pm

    Dave Sigmon wrote:

    Grant Palmer pointed out in his interview on MormonStories that Martin Harris confessed in the Kirtland Temple that none of the eleven witnesses ever saw the golden plates with their natural eyes. They only saw them with their spiritual eyes, second sight (i.e., their imagination).

    This is what is so egregious about what Palmer is trying to palm off (pun!) on his unsuspecting readers — he consistently avoids statements from the witnesses where they affirm the experience was real, physical, and tangible, and he distorts what they meant by “spiritual eyes” and “natural eyes.”

    Anyone who believes Palmer’s selective evidence and weak interpretation needs to read Richard Lloyd Anderson (unquestionably the world’s leading scholar on the BofM witnesses). A good place to start is with Anderson’s recent article “Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses,” which specifically responds to Palmer’s distortion of the facts.

  126. Steve EM July 30, 2006 at 7:29 pm

    Domokun,
    I didn’t even imply that all who leave are former orthodox. But it is my observation that orthodoxy always leads to apostasy, both individually and organizationally. An organizational example would be HJG’s making four don’ts a modern circumsion or barrier to entry into the kingdom. Such organizational mistakes are inevitable. Orthodoxy prevents reform back to the original intent.

    The GA’s are people like us. They have baggage and, yes, some are full of it. I’ll add that if there are true prophets, there are also false ones, and I choose to be on gaurd for them. I wasn’t entirely joking when I said perhaps BKP caused that guy I served with some plumbing issues that made him unbalanced. You didn’t so insulate yourself and now feel bitter about it like a kid finding out there’s no easter bunny, tooth fairy or santa. Jesus had a faker on his staff. Why should our day be different? You hold the church to a standard that never was and never will be, akin to soft headed profs before the collapse of communism used to hold capitalism against some utopian ideal that will never be. Fortunetely we’re saved by faith alone in Christ alone, so the shortfalls in the church are of little concern to me. If someone spouts rubbish, like the white shirt and tie cult crowd, I choose not to defend them.

    I believe the shortfalls in church leadership is the main reason why the church will be dissolved when Jesus returns and he’ll pick his own officers for his government. So what?

  127. mayan elephant July 30, 2006 at 8:03 pm

    i have a sneaking hunch this thread is going to be shut down. these all stars sure amp up the dialogue. yowza.

    i hope before it gets closed though, that dan and midgley will give me the count on “staring into a hat” references. im asking nicely, i promise.

    steve. you make some good points. i dont follow everything because i arent so smart or something. or maybe i just shut down at “always.” i prefer to believe there are many shades of gray with many different conclusions from all sorts of folks.

  128. -Domokun- July 30, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    Steve EM, you seem pretty confident that you know me well enough to tell me what I believe. According to you, I “didn’t so insulate [my]self and now feel bitter about it like a kid finding out there’s no easter bunny, tooth fairy or santa.” Wow, you should be on the psychic friend’s network or something. You must be the current embodiment of Jeanne Dixon or soemthing, because WOW! you really nailed me! (For the irony impaired, this couldn’t be further from the truth.)

    The truth is, along with so many polemicists, you like to think you know exactly what is going on inside everyone else’s heads. Just like Blake Ostler doesn’t think there are any unhappy, yet attending, members of the church, you think you know what makes all disaffected mormons tick.

    I’ll tell you a tiny bit about my thought process. Yes, there were a few WTF? moments as I learned that what I had been taught over a lifetime was not exactly what had happened. But in the end, it wasn’t the new information, by itself, that caused me to question. As I said earlier, I have always questioned things, and not just religious things. So it was not a major paradigm shift to begin questioning my previous assumptions about the church. As Mayan Elephant stated earlier in this thread, it wasn’t whether JS translated the BoM by looking at plates versus reading words on a rock in a hat. Both of those scenarios require faith (ie., an unprovable feeling) to believe. They are both as likely to be either true or false, for that matter. Neither method is inherently a deal-breaker. No, the thing that “caused” me to disbelieve is that learning the real facts in a few things caused me to start a year-long, intense study of all things mormon. There was no “smoking gun” that killed my belief. Rather, the weight of the total evidence on one side stacked up against the weight of the total evidence on the other side convinced me that there are too many ideas that rely on magical thinking in order to accept mormonism’s claims. The simple fact is I don’t believe in mormonism because I don’t believe in magic.

  129. Steve EM July 30, 2006 at 8:37 pm

    ok, magic, easter bunny, tooth fairy or santa, I get it now.

    But seriuosly, I respect your beliefs and wish you the best.

  130. CraigBa! July 30, 2006 at 10:33 pm

    I just want to say, Profs. Midgley & Peterson, that you guys have me thoroughly convinced on the whole peepstone thing. My faith in the Church is totally restored. I’m returning next week. Save me a seat in Gospel Doctrine.

    This is the primary tactic of an apologist. Someone makes a list of 10 or so things which challenged or destroyed his testimony. The apologist then picks just one and says: “Hey, you’re wrong, buddy. I can show 28 references in obscure Church publications over the years on exactly that topic. So, see: it’s not a Church secret!”

    OK, so maybe the publications weren’t all obscure, but the point is the same. But even with the 28 references (references in General Conference don’t count; everyone sleeps through that), a simple question still remains: Why is there still so much controversy on this topic? How Joseph Smith came to find out about, acquire, and translate the plates is *the* founding story of the Mormon Church. It’s not a long story. Why is there so much ignorance and controversy on an aspect of that story?

    Whatever excuses you can make on any individual topic, at the end of the day you’re still stuck with a very long list of issues that most churchmembers have never even confronted.

    I went to the doctor and he gave me a prescription to treat baldness. It caused psoriasis, liver damage, sexual dysfunction and really bad taste in music, but it cured the baldness. Did the doctor not have an obligation to warn me of the side effects? Does the Church not have an obligation to tell people the whole story? Or should it not be expected in “devotional materials?” What about all those Sunday School lessons on keeping not only the letter of the law, but the spirit of it, as well?

    Whether they have an obligation or not, it still cannot be a surprising thing for the Church when those who do find out are angry – like Tal Bachman.

    And I have to say, Prof. Midgley, that, having no familiarity with your work, your reputation was not burnished by your attacks on Mr. Bachman’s music career and 5 o’clock shadow.

    “LDS apologists are frequently excoriated for being mean and nasty, for making nothing but personal attacks against their critics, and for demonizing those who have left the Church.” – Mike Parker

    “There were a few FARMS scholars who responded to the content, but I found the personal attacks to be unprofessional, distracting and mean spirited.” – Remy

    “[Midgley’s] attack on palmer was one example that struck me to the core.” – Mayan Elephant

    These are things that have been said about you in just this thread. So how do you respond?

    “This thread sports a large photo of Tal Bachman with his three-day stubble trying to look like Bruce who-ever-it-was in the 70s. Bachman, incidently, prefers his real given name ‘Talmage’ to the ‘Tal’ his music career handlers gave him before the dropped him like a dud after one so-called hit “song,” I think they call it. Bachman hopes to become, like his ‘famous’ father, a popular music culture celebrity figure.”

    Wow! Now that’s the kind of loving and fellowshipping that I really miss!

  131. CraigBa! July 30, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    And that’s really what you’d prefer, isn’t it? For all the people who have had bad experiences or who have researched the truth for themselves to just slink away and tell no one at all. Was it Elder Oaks – or possibly Elder Nelson – who said something much to that effect? That ex-Mormons couldn’t just ‘put it down’ or ‘leave it alone?’

    Sure. Instead, let’s just imply that these people are hateful or mentally ill or part of the dark side. The Church asks for massive investments in time and energy by its own members in spreading the faith, but ex-Mormons should just keep their mouths shut and move along. And in large part, most of them do. I did. Not because of what Dallin Oaks said, but because I just didn’t care to waste any more time with it.

    If I could live a hundred lifetimes with a hundred careers and a thousand hobbies, not one of them would be as an author or website owner debunking the Church. It just doesn’t interest me. But I’m grateful for those who have found it to be their passion.

    And as far as the RfM board goes, my limited experience with it is that it’s about 1 part venting to 2 parts interesting comment. The few times I have been there I have generally just leanred to ignore the useless pay attention to the thoughtful. My experience on any topic is that a mostly open discussion is far more enlightening than the kind any FARMs member would seem to prefer.

  132. CraigBa! July 30, 2006 at 11:04 pm

    Woops, the Midgley quote that I meant to include on that last post was this:

    “But I hold out hope for these people; they can still make the decision not to believe, if that is what is in their hearts…They can just move one, just as thousands of others who never really put their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior, or who once did and now have gone missing, by simply turning in some other direction. Such folks need not post up a storm on lists, boards or blogs attempting, among other things to justify their decision or to talk others into joining them in a fancy new crusade. Nor do they have to give speeches at Sunstone conferences doing some of these same things. And merely for something called balance, the people at Sunstone do not have to provide a venue for such things.”

  133. CraigBa! July 30, 2006 at 11:09 pm

    But just to veer back onto the original topic, here: PBS has tentatively slated “The Mormons” to debut in April of 2007. Mark it on your calendars – just 9 months! I assume we’ll all be watching. Live blog, anyone? Or maybe a get together – how ’bout The Tavernacle? – and discussion afterwards?

    https://www.pbs.org/aboutpbs/news/20060726_pbs2007slate.html

  134. Daniel Peterson July 30, 2006 at 11:12 pm

    MEleph: “when you and the boys at FARMS get together or review one anothers work. has it ever come up in discussion, or in your personal reflection, that the explanations may be difficult for some members? even the goodhearted ones.”

    When our editors edit and our peer reviewers peer review, we consider questions of logic, evidence, and clarity.

    MEleph: “have you ever discussed why you are in a position to make these defenses or explanations, when the brethren themselves are not doing the same?”

    Anybody is in the position to write and think anything he or she wants to write or think. The Brethren have certain responsibilities and interests. We have certain responsibilities and interests. We are free.

  135. Daniel Peterson July 30, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    Dave Sigmon: “Grant Palmer pointed out in his interview on MormonStories that Martin Harris confessed in the Kirtland Temple that none of the eleven witnesses ever saw the golden plates with their natural eyes.”

    That’s Grant Palmer’s riff on a disaffected Mormon’s riff on Martin Harris’s alleged statement about the experiences of ten people other than himself.

    There is plenty of reason to doubt it.

    Dave Sigmon’s position is Dan Vogel’s position, exactly. It seems to me extremely dubious.

  136. Daniel Peterson July 30, 2006 at 11:21 pm

    MEleph: “i hope before it gets closed though, that dan and midgley will give me the count on “staring into a hat” references. im asking nicely, i promise.”

    You can look up those references just as easily as I can, MEleph. My son goes into the MTC this week, I’ve got a major lecture to give on Friday for which I’m not even remotely prepared, and etc. Good luck.

  137. Daniel Peterson July 30, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    CraigBa!, on alleged “apologist” treatment of ex-Mormon critics of the Church: “Instead, let’s just imply that these people are hateful or mentally ill or part of the dark side.”

    I’ve said nothing like that about any critic of the Church. Not here. Not in anything I’ve published.

    Ironically, though, as Mike Parker and I have documented here on this very thread, Tal Bachman has said precisely those sorts of things about members of the Church, its leaders, and yours truly.

    So, of course, it’s perfectly appropriate that Tal Bachman gets a pass for his behavior, while I’m criticized for such things as if I, rather than he, had done them.

    Surreal.

  138. CraigBa! July 31, 2006 at 12:20 am

    “I’ve said nothing like that about any critic of the Church. Not here. Not in anything I’ve published.” – Daniel Peterson

    Professor Peterson, I posted the appropriate quotes. Prof. Midgley *did* say that. On this thread, even, so don’t go erect a straw man by saying I’m wrong because *you* didn’t say it. Of course you didn’t.

    But do you deny that Midgley said exactly that?

  139. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 12:40 am

    Perhaps I haven’t read Professor Midgley’s posts with sufficient care. I don’t recall anything in which he says that critics of the Church and/or ex-Mormons are “mentally ill” or “part of the dark side” (if, by that, is meant that they are all evil or consciously in league with the forces of darkness).

    However, I myself would say that some — not all — are “hateful.” (Tal Bachman’s statements about me and the Church’s leaders, for example, have not been precisely loving. And there are even worse things out there.) If Professor Midgley has uttered that undeniable truth, I won’t contradict him.

  140. CraigBa! July 31, 2006 at 12:54 am

    Prof. Peterson,

    Up late?

    All you need to do is click “Edit” then “Find” then type in “dark side.” It’s there, I can assure you.

    Are there ex-Mormons who are hateful? Certainly. Is Bachman one of those? Perhaps.

    His behavior, however, isn’t of much interest to me. I give him a pass because he’s not involved in this thread. If you want to make it a part of this thread then link to the appropriate quotes. My entire image of him is based on the guy I heard in the 2nd half of the TCINT interview.

  141. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 9:41 am

    Okay. I found this little passage from something posted by Professor Midgley on 29 July: “This thread and others on this blog provide a wonderful opportunity for some disaffected people to justify themselves and attack their former faith. They strive to become evangelists for the dark side.”

    I’m afraid that I see that as simply a nice turn of phrase, expressive of Professor Midgley’s quite obvious point of view. I don’t see it as a declaration that all disaffected Mormons and ex-Mormons are literally conscious satanists, and I certainly don’t see anything in it to suggest that he believes they’re all mentally ill.

    Which contrasts dramatically with the kind of things people like Tal Bachman say about Mormon leaders and “apologists.”

    CraigBa!: “Are there ex-Mormons who are hateful? Certainly. Is Bachman one of those? Perhaps. His behavior, however, isn’t of much interest to me. I give him a pass because he’s not involved in this thread. If you want to make it a part of this thread then link to the appropriate quotes. My entire image of him is based on the guy I heard in the 2nd half of the TCINT interview.”

    Clearly, although you seem to have been present and a participant since its very beginning, you haven’t read the entire thread. Here is a post from Mike Parker, on 26 July:

    For those who are inclined to believe FreeAtLast’s assertion that Tal Bachman is just your typical nice guy with integrity and a great sense of humor, here are some recent examples of Bachman’s public writings:

    * 16 July 06: LDS general authorities are insane megalomaniacs. Church headquarters is an insane asylum with good grooming and nice clothing. Mormon leaders are “spiritual Stalinists.” “[T]hey actually claim that God has made them dictators over the mind, heart, and spirit — word and deed and conscience and life and potentially everything — of every single human being on this planet, Mormon or not. They must be nuts, or megalomaniacs. They seem no different than Osama-loving Muslim clerics, or the crazy man in the asylum.”

    * 16 July 06: Mormon leaders practice “spiritual Stalinism.” “[T]hey ought to be regarded as either megalomaniacs or total loons.”

    * 18 July 06: Because Gordon B. Hinckley “hasn’t repudiated [the] idea [that he is the world’s rightful dictator]…[that] leaves him vulnerable to being aptly characterized as either inhumanly arrogant or just plain kookoo.”

    * 21 July 06: A fake news story composed by Bachman about Bill Marriott, Jr. opening brothels inside Marriott hotels. (Warning: Offensive sexual content.)

    These are typical of the level of discourse at the “Recovery from Mormonism” web board. Ten minutes reading random posts on RfM easily demonstrates the hatred, filth, and bile that is constantly spewed by its denizens at the Saints and the Church.

    Tal Bachman may be “intelligent and friendly, [with] a great sense of humor and a gift for writing and performing songs,” but he is also a very angry extremist who is unwilling to see anything but dark conspiracies and Stalinist personalities among the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ.

    Here is a post from me, on that same day:

    I’ve never met Tal Bachman, and have not directly encountered his alleged kindness, niceness, or sense of humor. All that I can go by is what he’s posted, which includes such personal favorites as these:

    “We all owe a debt of gratitude . . . to men like . . . Dan Peterson. . . who have done so much over the past decade to expose their own total averageness (and I might say that that’s putting it charitably).” [26 July 2005, RfM]

    “Write this on your hand in Nibley cryptogram: ‘Fact – my mortal foe’. Pretend you work at FARMS or something for a second. Just forget facts exist.” [23 November 2005, RfM]

    “I remain a huge fan of Daniel Peterson’s. I can’t think of anyone else over there, with perhaps the exception of Midgley, who so consistently makes the church, and Mormon belief, look idiotic.” [13 March 2006, RfM]

    “Peterson still seems bewildered and hurt when people observe that he focuses so often on everything but what is really at issue, in his poor, mad scribblings. . . . If we had any doubt the church was a fraud, that it actually has guys like DCP ‘defending’ it should confirm it beyond any doubt.” [8 June 2006, RfM])

    “I would like them to speak and publish as much as possible, because their stuff strikes everyone but totally gone Mormons as bloody daft. I don’t know of any way to better illustrate to people that there is something profoundly screwed-up with Joseph’s church than to show them Mormon apologetic writing. That’s one big fat difference between me and them: They’d shut all of us up forever if they could, whereas I’d put Dan Peterson and Gee and the other dudes over there on TV as much as possible, especially with sharp interviewers. To most people, they sound like madmen.” [31 March 2006, RfM]

    But my favorite Bachmanism has always been his contention that I’m a “sociopath.”

    Moreover, despite my repeated protests, he has repeatedly and falsely described me as a postmodernist who does not believe in objective reality and who has relegated Mormon truth claims to some netherworld of metaphor beyond the reach of evidence and logic, and he has claimed that I told him, when he asked whether, if the Church were false, I would want to know, that I would not want to know. This is blatantly untrue. (He has made a similar claim about my friend Louis Midgley who, like me, gave precisely the opposite answer. He makes these claims on a board where I am forbidden to respond.)

    And here is a supplemental item that I posted on 29 July:

    Combing through my DOSSIER on him the other day, I overlooked one interesting specimen of Tal Bachman’s niceness and kindness and his loving, gentle, sense of humor that I should have shared:

    “I know the ladies can sound irrational too, but how many women have you ever met who are as nuts in the same way that, say, Dan Peterson is nuts? How man women can create alternative realities as idiotic, angry, deep, ego-fueled, and convoluted as a dude can, and then actually believe in them so much, that they don’t even flinch when people are getting raped and tortured and killed for believing it? Come on – this is where we excel, bro. The Bolsheviks? The Nazis? The Branch Davidians? The Mormons? How many girls helped come up with those? . . . Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t think women overall are stupid enough to actually think they can justify their silly positions with monstrous absurdities like those trotted out by Louis Farrakhan or Hugh Nibley. No – for lunacy on this grand a scale, you need males. I don’t expect that to change.”
    (Tal Bachman, “Recovery from Mormonism” board, 21 February 2006)

    I don’t think that Professor Midgley has written anything remotely comparable here.

  142. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 10:32 am

    Nor, for that matter, do I recall Professor Midgley having written any comparable lines anywhere.

    Incidentally, CraigBa!, Tal Bachman’s face adorns the commencement of this thread (for reasons that are rather opaque to me), and he shows up in its opening post. That’s one reason why Tal Bachman has been at least marginally relevant here.

  143. Mayan Elephant July 31, 2006 at 11:28 am

    John Dehlin,

    are you involved in any way with the pbs frontline research? ever been contacted?

    oh, and another thing John, do you know the best resources for finding referrences to “the hat” in teaching manuals or conference talks?

  144. CraigBa! July 31, 2006 at 12:28 pm

    Prof. Peterson,

    Excellent comeback.

    I ignored Mike Parker’s original Bachman quotes because I didn’t find they proved anything about Bachman. Terms like megalomaniac, loon, kookoo, and arrogant are pretty common terms applied to people who claim for themselves the power which Church leaders do, and not out of line with common usage (and not particularly mean, either).
    Your final quote, however, was good enough.

    I have been part of this thread from the beginning, there were 70 posts between one sign-on and the next, though, so I had a lot to read through.

    However, there is a reason that you and Dr. Midgley are held to a higher standard than some random ex-Mormon. One, because you’re paid Church employees who write apologetics for the Church. Two, because you’re writing here on this thread. If Bachman ventured on and started making vituperous comments, he’d get an earful even from some of the ex-Mormons.

    Dr. Midgley’s comments about some ex-Mormons wanting to become “evangelists for the dark side” do not get a pass, however. *Of course* he didn’t mean “everyone.” Does anyone, ever? And I don’t know of any Church leader or apologist who has ever claimed explicitly that such people are “mentally ill,” but it does sometimes seem implicit in their talk (here on this thread by Midgley, and elsewhere by Elder Oaks, among others) about people who ‘can’t let it go.’ They *want* people to stop speaking negatively about the Church. It makes their job retaining old members and converting new ones.

    People who have spent their whole life in the Church only to find out late that there’s this immense history never mentioned or even alluded to in the innumerable Church publications are apt to be angry, bitter, resentful, cheated and occasionally even be foul-mouthed. You will never silence that resentment or frustration. Sure you can say “Well, the information was always there, if you wanted to go digging.” But lots of people don’t have time for that. They’ve got enough on their hands just reading all the official publications and living their lives. What’s more, teenagers aren’t generally inclined to go looking for such material before they have to make a decision about serving a mission, or getting married. And then come the children…

  145. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    CraigBa!: “I ignored Mike Parker’s original Bachman quotes because I didn’t find they proved anything about Bachman.”

    I’m puzzled by your sentiment that Tal Bachman’s perpetual comparisons of Mormon leaders and “apologists” to Josef Stalin and Usama b. Ladin, etc., and his explicit labeling of them as insane and “sociopathic” doesn’t prove anything about him, while what was obviously a playful, passing cultural allusion to the “Star Wars” films and Darth Vader reveals some deep character flaw in Professor Midgley.

    Incidentally, Professor Midgley is a retired professor of political philosophy, while I am a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic. I’m not paid for apologetics. I do that on my own time. Not even a dime of my salary comes from writing on apologetic subjects. Professor Midgley draws no salary.

  146. Mayan Elephant July 31, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    craigba, with all due respect, you are only referring to the slothful people, right? the unslothful have all the time in the world to read back issues of the improvement era. :)

    and i declare a winner. it has come to my attention that there are 2 references to a hat. one in 1993, and one in 1977. both are the same quote and both found in the ensign.

    other than that – zip, nada, rien, zilch.

    so craigba. pay attention, at this pace, there could be another official mention of the hat in 2009.

  147. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 12:53 pm

    You mean, MEleph, that, among all of the many, many hundreds of pages devoted to detailed historical analyses of the formative events of Mormonism in recent years of the Ensign (a scholarly journal aimed at an audience passionately interested in historiographical questions), there have only been two mentions of the all-important hat?

    This is shocking. A disgrace!

  148. Mayan Elephant July 31, 2006 at 1:06 pm

    dan, dont worry man. its not your fault. really. dont beat yourself up over this one brother.

    i agree that the deuce in the ensign isnt worth much. but the O-fer in the manuals, especially that church history one. whiff.

  149. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 1:12 pm

    I think that the failure to mention the all-important hat more than twice, and the apparent failure of that exceedingly basic introductory one-volume survey of Church history from the 1820s to the present to mention it even once, especially when viewed in connection with the not uncommon mentions of the hat in publications from FARMS and Bookcraft and Deseret Book, in Dialogue, the Journal of Mormon History, and etc., is undeniable proof of a conspiracy to completely suppress all mention of it.

  150. Lunar Quaker July 31, 2006 at 1:12 pm

    Daniel,

    That wouldn’t be a digrace by itself. However, I just did a quick search on lds.org and found countless references (100+ hits) to the Urim and Thummim and the gold plates in the church lesson manuals, the Friend, the New Era, and the Ensign.

  151. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    You’ll also find, if you look, that Oliver Cowdery and others typically referred to the seer stone as “Urim and Thummim,” along with the Urim and Thummim proper.

    I mentioned this above.

    They didn’t think making a distinction vitally important. I don’t, either.

    Translation via a rock is translation via a rock.

  152. Mayan Elephant July 31, 2006 at 1:22 pm

    Dan, heck yeah, and a blue-flame with a lighter is the same as a blue-flame with a match.

    The method is not relevent.

    what is relevant is that YOU and anyone else should not be shocked when someone is alarmed to learn this after decades in the church. and more, midgley was very wrong to consider anyone to be slothful for NOT having learned it, regardless of the relevance of the detail. thats all.

  153. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    What is relevant is that there is absolutely no evidence for a conspiracy to suppress mention of the seer stone and the hat.

    In fact, there is considerable (and irrefutable) evidence against it.

  154. Lunar Quaker July 31, 2006 at 1:32 pm

    I know that, Daniel, but I wouldn’t have known about it had I not read about it in non-church publications like FARMS and Dialogue. The church leads all of us to believe that the plates were sitting in front of Joseph Smith on a table, and that he looked at them with spectacles attached to a breastplate. Or that he tranlated by staring at the plates with no spectacles at all.

    When “slothful” folks like us find out that the plates weren’t even used in the translation process, and that all of the action really happened in a hat, it can be a little disconcerting.

  155. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 1:38 pm

    I would expect that the vast majority of the lay leadership of the Church and of the artists portraying scenes from Church history believe the translation process to have been precisely what they represent it as being.

    Americans, by and large, aren’t much interested in history. I regret that, and wish it were otherwise, but them’s the facts.

    There is no intent to deceive, so far as I can see.

    Historians have known about all of this since the Church began, and have published extensively about it.

  156. Lunar Quaker July 31, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    So it’s Americans in general that are “slothful,” not just apostate Mormons. That’s fair enough.

    Daniel, don’t you think that by now, the Church would have corrected the misconception? Maybe publish an artist’s rendition of Joseph’s face in a hat in the Ensign? That ain’t gonna happen. It would be nice, though.

  157. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    Apostate Mormons make their mistake in blaming the Church, when they do it, for their ignorance and sloth. They create a massive conspiracy to keep the information from them, when it is actually widely and publicly available in a large number of different venues.

    The issue looms large among some critics, but I don’t think it agitates much of the general Church membership or leadership. So now, I don’t think the Church is likely, any time soon, to address it or “correct the misconception.”

  158. desert vulture July 31, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    Many apologists make the mistake of confusing heretics with apostates, in the simple mental exercise of lumping groups together which do not agree with your worldview. I have always made an honest effort to find out the truth, and will continue to do so.

    If there is any massive conspiracy, it would clearly be the institutional correlation excluding unwanted historical data, because it is not very “useful.” I have to ask myself, in what way is the truth not very useful? Maybe apologists should ask themselves that question as well.

  159. CraigBa! July 31, 2006 at 2:02 pm

    Apostate Mormons make their mistake in blaming the Church, when they do it, for their ignorance and sloth. They create a massive conspiracy to keep the information from them, when it is actually widely and publicly available in a large number of different venues.

    This, I think, is the problem with your logic, Dr. Peterson. By all accounts (except Bachman’s, I suppose) you are one very smart dude. I’ve no doubt of that. But you keep elevating a particular argument and then knocking it down, and presenting it as a victory. Do you do that subconsciously, or is it a conscious tactic?

    I don’t think most ex-Mormons think there is a “massive conspiracy.” But there certainly is intentional deception. The Church leadership spends oodles of time talking about the founding story, but most members still seem to know nothing of the hat. They also keep much of the archives secret. When Leonard Arrington died and left his writings to USU, the Church seemed paranoid that something in them might be revealing or negative. That is a fact.

    And blaming apostate Mormons for their “ignorance and sloth” is unfair. How much time studying the Church, precisely, does a person have to spend not to be counted as slothful and ignorant? You can spend ages just reading the official Church publications and never be the wiser. And how much time do you really expect a teenager to spend doing so? But a person goes from high school to mission to marriage to parenthood – at the admonishment of the Church leaders – and may never find the time, for doing all the things that Church leaders told them to do.

  160. CraigBa! July 31, 2006 at 2:03 pm

    I hate how I always forget to close the quote….

  161. Lunar Quaker July 31, 2006 at 2:03 pm

    I think it’s a bit of a caricature to say that apostate Mormons are claiming some sinister conspiracy by the church.

    But I do think that the church continues to perpetuate myths that are not grounded in historical fact. The church is intentionally passive on these controversial subjects. It’s precisely because these subjects are agitating that the church doesn’t address them. They have no interest in correcting the misconceptions because of the controversy that ensues.

    The brethren are in a rock and a hard place. I think we all agree about that. If they correct the misconceptions, it stirs up disaffection among the members. So they take the less damaging route and just ignore the problems, and perpetuate the myths.

    The hat thing is just one example. There are many others. If these weren’t hot-button issues, then it wouldn’t matter too much if the church were completely forthright about it.

  162. CraigBa! July 31, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    But what I really find disappointing, Dr. Peterson, is that neither you nor Dr. Midgley nor Mike Parker nor any other TBM here has seen fit to comment on the “Tom Trails” videos. I *loved* those videos. With that attitude, you guys are never getting me back.

  163. desert vulture July 31, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    What happened to the Tom Trails videos? I loved them too. I couldn’t wait for the episode where Tom’s skin would turn white.

  164. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 2:21 pm

    desert vulture: “Many apologists make the mistake of confusing heretics with apostates, in the simple mental exercise of lumping groups together which do not agree with your worldview.”

    Where have I done that?

    desert vulture: “If there is any massive conspiracy, it would clearly be the institutional correlation excluding unwanted historical data, because it is not very “useful.”

    I’m not familiar with this. I served on the Church’s Gospel Doctrine writing committee for nearly ten years, but would need to learn more about it from you, I suppose.

    However, I will freely confess that I do not regard all truths as equally useful — whether that be in history, in religion, in personal relationships, or in home repairs.

    If you think, to the contrary, that all truths are equally useful, I would be interested in seeing your argument to that effect.

    desert vulture: “I have to ask myself, in what way is the truth not very useful? Maybe apologists should ask themselves that question as well.”

    I think the question is easily answered. It would not be very useful to me, for example, in responding to your post, to have an accurate account of the number of letters and spaces in it, or to learn of your mother’s color preference. In writing a biography of Joseph Smith, while it would be useful to have an accurate record confirming where he was on that spring day in 182O, knowing that he ate precisely 5267 flakes of cooked oats that morning would be considerably less useful. Having more information about the biography of the prophet Isaiah would be very useful, but knowing that he sometimes suffered from halitosis would not rank high among the necessary facts one would want to know.

  165. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 2:44 pm

    CraigBa!: “I don’t think most ex-Mormons think there is a ‘massive conspiracy.'”

    And I didn’t say that “most” do.

    Lunar Quaker: “I think it’s a bit of a caricature to say that apostate Mormons are claiming some sinister conspiracy by the church.”

    I agree. It would be a caricature to suggest that all of them do. Just as it’s a bit of a caricature to suggest that I said that “apostate Mormons,” as a general class, make such a claim.

    Most apostate Mormons, in my experience, couldn’t possibly care less about Mormon doctrine or history.

    But some apostate Mormons definitely do suggest that such a conspiracy exists. It is their claim that I deny.

    CraigBa!: “But there certainly is intentional deception.”

    Thank you, CraigBa!. That, Lunar Quaker, is the claim that I deny.

    CraigBa!: “The Church leadership spends oodles of time talking about the founding story, but most members still seem to know nothing of the hat.”

    The Church leadership spends remarkably little time talking about any of the details of the founding story. However, the seer stone has been mentioned in the Church’s official magazine almost once a year for the past thirty-five years, and the stone and hat have been mentioned, and even discussed at length, in books from Deseret Book, FARMS, Bookcraft, and Covenant, and in numerous articles in such places as BYU Studies, Dialogue, Mormon Historical Studies, the Journal of Mormon History, BYU Studies, the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, the Journal of the John Whitmer Historical Association, Sunstone, the FARMS Review, and etc.

    CraigBa!: “They also keep much of the archives secret.”

    Not really. Credentialed researchers can generally get access to all, or almost all, of what they want. The archives of the Hudson’s Bay Company are also notoriously restrictive, as are not a few other archives. Archivists often view researchers as enemies to their precious, fragile, one-of-a-kind documents. And materials involving living people, or the immediate ancestors of living people, are often off-limits at other archives as well.

    CraigBa!: “When Leonard Arrington died and left his writings to USU, the Church seemed paranoid that something in them might be revealing or negative. That is a fact.”

    That is not a “fact.”

    Lunar Quaker: “But I do think that the church continues to perpetuate myths that are not grounded in historical fact. The church is intentionally passive on these controversial subjects. It’s precisely because these subjects are agitating that the church doesn’t address them. They have no interest in correcting the misconceptions because of the controversy that ensues.

    “The brethren are in a rock and a hard place. I think we all agree about that. If they correct the misconceptions, it stirs up disaffection among the members. So they take the less damaging route and just ignore the problems, and perpetuate the myths.

    “The hat thing is just one example. There are many others. If these weren’t hot-button issues, then it wouldn’t matter too much if the church were completely forthright about it.”

    This is pure speculative mind-reading on your part. I don’t believe any of it to be true.

  166. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 2:47 pm

    CraigBa!: “But what I really find disappointing, Dr. Peterson, is that neither you nor Dr. Midgley nor Mike Parker nor any other TBM here has seen fit to comment on the ‘Tom Trails’ videos. I *loved* those videos. With that attitude, you guys are never getting me back.”

    Well I’m exceedingly fond of James Branch Cabell’s decades-old satirical novel The High Place. Yet you have never, so far as I’m aware, ever shown even the slightest interest in it. Given your track record on that score, why do you imagine that I would want you back?

  167. Jeremy Putnam July 31, 2006 at 3:04 pm

    Dr.Dan: “I think the question is easily answered. It would not be very useful to me, for example, in responding to your post, to have an accurate account of the number of letters and spaces in it, or to learn of your mother’s color preference. In writing a biography of Joseph Smith, while it would be useful to have an accurate record confirming where he was on that spring day in 182O, knowing that he ate precisely 5267 flakes of cooked oats that morning would be considerably less useful. Having more information about the biography of the prophet Isaiah would be very useful, but knowing that he sometimes suffered from halitosis would not rank high among the necessary facts one would want to know.”

    But Dr. Dan, isn’t the method of translation of the Book of Mormon a little more important than flakes of cooked oats or halitosis?

    Why not share this in the manuals used on Sunday School rather than propogate the plates-open-on-the-table myth? Why a false outrageous claim rather than a true outrageous claim?

  168. Mayan Elephant July 31, 2006 at 3:05 pm

    “The Church leadership spends remarkably little time talking about any of the details of the founding story.”

    So much for prepare, invite, follow-up.

    i dont think this is accurate dan. but, if it is accurate. i suspect there ought to be some amount of sympathy for those that feel mislead by the little information that the leaders did share.

    and more, all your examples of places to look are meaningless to me. perhaps i am slothful, but for cryin out loud, do you really expect every person to have access to that stuff? is it not enough to follow the prophet? one must follow dialogue too? jiminy christmas.

    Domokun nailed it earlier. This is just too much for an omnipotent god to have come up with.

    Dan, you arent going to budge. and i suspect midgley aint comin back to this. we agree there is lack of clarity, but what we disagree on is that the ordinary rational person may have difficult feelings and personal conflict when learning the truth and comparing it to what they thought was true.

    i can cut you some slack for ardently defending this fiasco. i cut you no slack whatsoever for your blanket dismissal of others as ignorant or slothful, when in fact, those people are quite often genuine, meek, humble, kind, loyal and sincere. i am not heaping insults on you for you to sarcastically dismiss. i am simply pointing out the massive gap between you/FARMS and some of your audience.

    they say the meek shall inherit the earth. they also inherit ideology, and all the baggage that comes with it. dont be ignorant to that fact, please.

    hot damn. i hope pbs jumps in on this stuff. after all, if the mormon history is of so little interest to deserve insignificant attention from the brethren, it shouldnt deserve much time from frontline. the mormon experience today includes these very issues we are threading.

    how do parents respond when their kids turn out to be slothful apostates? how do parents that know about the hat respond to a primary lesson about golden plate translations? why do parents tell their apostate children they have followed satan? how does a parent help prepare a kid for a mission when the missionary discussions are so basic and void of important details? why are missionaries depressed? that is the mormon experience, not reading dialogue and the journal of mormon history from the period of x to y as approved by a FARMS.

  169. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 3:24 pm

    Professor Midgley attempted to post the following specimens of Bachmania, but, for reasons perhaps known to some (or perhaps altogether unknown and unknowable) was unable to do so. So he sent it to me, and I offered to post it for him.

    Dan:

    This is a sample of some of Herr Bachmann’s recent
    posts on RfM.

    lcm

    Subject: Hi – I’m Satan, and I’m an ex-Mormon!

    Date: Jul 27 15:04

    Author: Tal Bachman

    Hi (I heard your prayer, Wine Country Princess of
    Darkness)

    I haven’t posted my exit story yet, but let’s just
    say it’s a lot more spectacular than any of yours!
    Hoo Hoo HAA HAA! You meekly drifted away? You wrote
    a resignation letter? Well, when me and my pop, and
    my bro, got into it, me and my homeys say we ain’t
    take no ****, les roll, and we started bustin’ it
    up. Then I say, **** this ****, we outta here, so we
    rolled RIGHT OUT OF HEAVEN. It was wild. It was
    like, in that moment, the only thing me and my enemy
    bro Captain Jesus had in common anymore was, we both
    agreed all the lukewarm, non-valiant types were so
    disgusting, that the only conseqence fitting for
    them was to be all blacked up. Me and JeeHoo even
    collaborated on slavery.

    Anyway, just thought I’d pop in since I might be
    posting on here every once in awhile. If you want to
    know what I do all day, it’s this:

    I hide the car keys of members of the Mormon church

    I don’t control hydrogen, and I don’t control
    oxygen – but you put ’em both together, and all of a
    sudden, I CONTROL IT. I control water!

    I invade your very minds with horrific, insidious
    thoughts which will destroy you forever, like: “Is
    it just me, or is virtually every Mormon apologetic
    argument entirely reliant on ad hoc reasoning, straw
    men, red herrings, and almost every other mistake of
    reasoning the human race has ever identified?”,
    “Given all the evidence that they did, how can no
    plant, animal, or human have died prior to 4000 BC?”
    “How am I really supposed to believe that it was
    never church doctrine that Native Americans were the
    blood descendants of Lehi – when I already know it
    WAS church doctrine?”.

    I double as the lead singer for the Rolling Stones
    and sometimes hang out with Mormon GAs on airplanes

    Feel free to ask any questions. Now that Dan Vogel
    isn’t posting so often, I’m sure you’re probably
    starved for things to talk about…

    Satan

    Subject: Hello, my minions!

    Date:

    Jul 27 18:40

    Author: Tal Bachman

    Thank you for pointing that out, whoever you were.
    (I can hardly be expected to keep track of each
    individual whose soul I capture, can I?). I am
    indeed the very first “ex-Mormon”. You see, Jesus
    and me and my dad (God) – we all belonged to the
    Kolob First Ward. Hitler, James Madison, Pol Pot,
    George Washington, Goethe, Shakespeare, we were all
    in Young Men’s together. Good times. (Shaka Zulu
    used to mow the lawn and take out the trash after
    our all-caucasian ward picnics).

    Well, even though I knew full well that Ruth’s Chris
    Steakhouse, I mean, Joseph Smith Junior’s Church of
    Christ, later Church of the Latter-day Saints, and
    today, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
    was the only true church in the whole universe, I
    was too weak to keep all the commandments, like not
    drinking pre-existent beer. And after that first
    sip, it was all downhill. I thought, “All this
    happiness and glory and joy…I’ll trade it all in
    for a can of Bud and the right to control water”.

    Now here I am.

    The only people I am really afraid of are FARMS
    scholars. Their clearly-written, conscientious
    examinations of all my evil tricks and tools – like
    “facts”, “the human brain”, “logic”, “physical
    evidence”, etc. – leave me quaking in my steel-toed
    Doc Martens. It’s no wonder that so many people,
    especially scholars in their fields of expertise,
    join the Mormon church after reading their material!

    As for what I look like – well, when I’m not playing
    Mick Jagger, I play guitar for AC/DC
    https://www.lerepairedesmotards.com/img/motardscope/ph_5711.jpg

    I have a tattoo on my right arm that says, “H20
    Rules”, and another on my left arm that says,
    paraphrasing Elder Hales’ dictum, “Return (to Hell)
    With Dishounor”. In fact, as Angus Young, I once
    wrote a big hit called “Highway to Hell”, the title
    of which was lifted directly from a Brigham Young
    talk.
    (https://www.utahtravelcenter.com/lds/brighamyoung.htm
    – Scroll down to “In His Own Words” for the quote).

    For Those About To Fry In Outer Darkness Forever – I
    Salute You!

    Satan

    Subject: General Authorities Issue New Proclamation:
    “Restoring Eden”

    Date: Jul 27 19:17

    Author: Tal Bachman

    “Church Says Stone Age Unfairly Maligned”

    AP – Salt Lake City

    Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
    Saints today issued a new proclamation to the world,
    entitled “Restoring Eden”.
    Elder Eyring, who in a private meeting this past
    week blamed decreasing missionary success on the
    increasing wealth of people around the globe (see
    SlowB’s recent thread), defended the statement at a
    press conference.

    “We are very, very concerned about the rate at which
    people around the globe are becoming educated,
    technologically adept, and wealthy”, said Eyring.
    “This pernicious trend must be reversed”.

    Eyring pointed out that the more educated and
    affluent people are, the less likely they are to
    believe that Joseph Smith was forced by a homicidal
    angel to have sex with the wives, sisters, and
    daughters of his friends. People also tend to doubt
    that the Book of Mormon is best explained as having
    been translated from an unknown form of Egyptian by
    Smith while he peered through decoding spectacles
    attached to an ancient armour breastplate.

    “And on it goes”, said Eyring. “The 6000 year old
    human race, star Kolob, Satan controlling the water,
    a global flood 4500 years ago, seer stones, magic
    protective garments, our authority to dictate to the
    entire human race how they should all live…all
    these things are being rejected now more than ever”.

    The church statement calls upon the world “to return
    to traditional, even Stone Age, values: humbly
    submit without question to tribal chieftains and
    shamen, or in today’s parlance, ‘the Brethren’; give
    up the pursuit of material items like research
    papers, historical documents, or anything else
    having to do with the past; and sacrifice every
    habit which may lead to increased wealth, like
    thinking critically, seeking out the best
    information, weighing costs and benefits, or hearing
    conflicting opinions”.

    The document also asks members to cease using
    computers immediately.

    “We call upon world leaders to reconsider what the
    Stone Age had to offer, and to make internet use
    illegal, close down universities, and begin
    confiscating wealth at unprecedented rates”, said
    Eyring. “The world must be made safe for Mormonism”.

  170. Steve EM July 31, 2006 at 3:26 pm

    Merde alors! This threadjack is still going on?

  171. desert vulture July 31, 2006 at 3:27 pm

    I agree that the number of breakfast cereal flakes eaten by an individual is an inconsequential item. However if JS did eat over 5,000 flakes at any one time, he probably would have exploded, but I digress.

    Boyd Packer’s analysis of truth is pertinent to this discussion. If only some truth is useful, is it up to the church leaders to decide which truths those are? Or is it up to the individual? What if I discover a truth that cast doubt on the truth claims of the church, but the brethren deem it to be of little use? Do I just blindly follow the brethren?

    Is a controversial foundational element like a hat to be considered a triviality? I believe not, especially when that same method of glass looking was utilized by the boy Joseph to dupe people out of their money. The 1826 glass looker trial establishes that. The documentation exists. I’ve gone through it. Why would people then try to establish that the hat had no relation to Joseph’s little con-man game as a youth? Could it be that his method of translation was identical to his con-man methodology, that of “looking into a hat with a funny stone in it?” I would say that the hat appears to be a relevant fact. However, I am just a lowly primary teacher in the mission field. What could I possibly know about doctrine?

    Why is it always so important for apologists to play a shell game with the truth? It creates the perception that the church has something to hide. Does the church have something to hide? I believe so, and the institution will do all in its power to maintain its power structure, including obfuscating the facts. Unfortunately, I believe you know this is true. But that probably isn’t very useful either, is it?

  172. John Dehlin July 31, 2006 at 3:36 pm

    In response to ME, I’ve had 2 touches w/ Helen Whitney.

    The first was when I wrote her a letter last year, asking her to consider including the “baseball baptism” phenomenon within Mormonism as an element of her documentary. My motive was to help ensure that this type of stuff (which happened on my mission–via soccer baptisms of 8-10 year olds) stops happening within the church.

    The 2nd contact was a few months ago, when Helen’s people called to ask where I got the picture(s) of Joseph’s seer stones that I include on my “Top 10 issues” page.

    Those were my 2 contacts w/ Helen.

  173. John Dehlin July 31, 2006 at 3:38 pm

    ME,

    I do know of at least one reference to the hat in the Ensign: https://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/1993.htm/ensign%20july%201993.htm/a%20treasured%20testament.htm

    The only approach I know of would be to search lds.org for the words stone and hat, and see what comes up.

  174. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 3:39 pm

    Jeremy Putnam: “But Dr. Dan, isn’t the method of translation of the Book of Mormon a little more important than flakes of cooked oats or halitosis?”

    Of course it is.

    Keep your eye on the ball.

    The question was whether all truth is equally important. My answer is that it is not.

    Is the question whether the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God important? Yes. Is it vitally important to know whether that translation was effected by means of two rocks that were called the “Urim and Thummim” or by means of a single rock that was also called the “Urim and Thummim”? My answer, as I’ve already indicated above, would be that, for most purposes, that is not vitally important.

    Jeremy Putnam: “Why not share this in the manuals used on Sunday School rather than propogate the plates-open-on-the-table myth?”

    I’ve already discussed this above.

    Why a false outrageous claim rather than a true outrageous claim?

    I’ve already discussed this above.

  175. Mayan Elephant July 31, 2006 at 3:46 pm

    Thanks John. I hope they contact you again. Just dont have a week’s worth of facial hair if they wanna picture. thats baaaaaaaaaaad. very bad.

  176. John Dehlin July 31, 2006 at 3:52 pm

    Drs. Midgley/Peterson,

    Sorry Dr. Midgley’s post didn’t make it through. I’m definitely not blocking/screening. I just checked the spam blocker and didn’t find anything there either.

    Sorry for the glitch.

  177. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    MEleph: “i suspect there ought to be some amount of sympathy for those that feel mislead by the little information that the leaders did share.”

    I feel sorry for people who are shocked to find out something that they hadn’t learned in Primary or Sunday school, and whose faith is damaged or destroyed by that encounter.

    If, however, you want to turn this into a contest over who is more sensitive, morally, and more empathetic, I’m perfectly willing to grant you the victory. I don’t like Oprah. I’m not going to attempt to demonstrate my soft, caring, feminine side on a message board. Talk is cheap. What I am as a person will be demonstrated by the way I actually treat people, preferably face to face.

    MEleph: “and more, all your examples of places to look are meaningless to me. perhaps i am slothful, but for cryin out loud, do you really expect every person to have access to that stuff? is it not enough to follow the prophet? one must follow dialogue too? jiminy christmas.”

    Before one falsely claims that an effort is being made to hide and suppress the facts, one should definitely survey the literature to find out whether or not the charge has any basis in reality. Before one blames the Church for allagedly keeping information from one, one should look around to see whether such information really isn’t fairly easily available, even in venues sponsored by the Church.

    MEleph: “Domokun nailed it earlier. This is just too much for an omnipotent god to have come up with.”

    Did he? I think the Church works quite well. Anyhow, I don’t believe that God has to do things my way.

    MEleph: “what we disagree on is that the ordinary rational person may have difficult feelings and personal conflict when learning the truth and comparing it to what they thought was true.”

    Where have I denied that?

    MEleph: “i cut you no slack whatsoever for your blanket dismissal of others as ignorant or slothful, when in fact, those people are quite often genuine, meek, humble, kind, loyal and sincere.”

    I’ve made no such “blanket dismissal.” I’ve never denied that disaffected members of the Church can be genuine, meek, humble, kind, loyal and sincere.

    But people who don’t know something are, by definition, ignorant of that thing.

    MEleph: “i am not heaping insults on you for you to sarcastically dismiss.”

    You insult me by insinuating that I routinely dismiss sincere and genuine concerns with sarcastic sneering.

    Though this is an important part of my image in the demonology of certain critics, it is false.

    MEleph: “i am simply pointing out the massive gap between you/FARMS and some of your audience.”

    I’ve never expected that everybody would find FARMS materials entirely attractive, interesting, or satisfying. Nothing is perfectly suited to everybody. But many people do find great value in what FARMS does. I hear from them often.

    MEleph: “hot damn. i hope pbs jumps in on this stuff. after all, if the mormon history is of so little interest to deserve insignificant attention from the brethren, it shouldnt deserve much time from frontline.”

    Nonsense. The Church devotes considerable resources to historical research, archiving, publication, etc. — far beyond what most analogous organizations do.

    MEleph: “how do parents respond when their kids turn out to be slothful apostates?”

    I can’t quite see how caricaturing my statements in this manner serves any useful purpose.

    MEleph: “how do parents that know about the hat respond to a primary lesson about golden plate translations?”

    On the level of Primary, I’m not sure that I’d say anything one way or the other. More generally, I might, if I thought it relevant to the person involved, go into a little bit more detail. I might even direct that person to writing on the topic by people like Milton Backman, Richard L. Anderson, Richard Bushman, and the like.

    MEleph: “why do parents tell their apostate children they have followed satan?”

    Do all parents do that? I think not. You should ask such parents, rather than asking me. I’ve said nothing here (or anywhere else) about this subject.

    MEleph: “how does a parent help prepare a kid for a mission when the missionary discussions are so basic and void of important details?”

    The missionary discussions are adequate for their purpose. The more prospective missionaries know, though, the better.

    MEleph: “why are missionaries depressed?”

    Are they? What percentage? Are you suggesting that missionary depression occurs, to the extent that it does occur, because missionaries don’t know enough about the all-important hat?

    MEleph: “that is the mormon experience, not reading dialogue and the journal of mormon history from the period of x to y as approved by a FARMS.”

    Reading those things has been a large part of my Mormon experience, whereas “missionary depression” has not been. Is my experience not permitted to count?

  178. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    desert vulture: “If only some truth is useful, is it up to the church leaders to decide which truths those are?”

    To the extent that they determine the curriculum of the Church, and in view of the fact that that curriculum cannot possibly cover more than a tiny fraction of the details of Church history, etc., it is certainly up to them to determine which truths they regard as most useful.

    The same is true for any school board setting up a curriculum, any college committee designing a major, any teacher putting together a course syllabus.

    desert vulture: “Or is it up to the individual?”

    It is also up to the individual. That is precisely why I’m not overly sympathetic to people who admit that, until they were suddenly flummoxed by an internet site, they had effectively ceded every decision about what they should know about Church history and doctrine to the anonymous committees that write the Primary and Sunday School manuals.

    desert vulture: “What if I discover a truth that cast doubt on the truth claims of the church, but the brethren deem it to be of little use?”

    Then, ideally, you think about it, pray about it, do further reading and research, etc. You might want to try to figure out why they don’t think it all that centrally important. You might also do some checking in materials published by Deseret Book, FARMS, Bookcraft, Covenant, FAIR, BYU Studies, etc. Very often, some quite useful materials on the relevant topic will have been published in one or more such venues. (For example, your assumption that Joseph was a con-man in his early treasure-digging is, to put it mildly, not one that is universally shared among expert scholars on the topic. A number of very competent historians have worked on that period and published extensively on it.)

    desert vulture: “Why is it always so important for apologists to play a shell game with the truth?”

    I couldn’t comment on that, as I have no experience of it.

    Why is it so important for certain critics to assume that those who don’t see things as they do are acting in bad faith? And why do some of those very critics constantly lament what they claim is the nasty “tone” of the “apologists” while, at virtually the same time, they quite casually malign the integrity of those “apologists”?

    desert vulture: “It creates the perception that the church has something to hide.”

    I agree that gratuitous and false charges of ‘apologist” dishonesty like yours create that impression. I regret it very much, and wish people like you would stop slandering us.

    desert vulture: “Does the church have something to hide? I believe so, and the institution will do all in its power to maintain its power structure, including obfuscating the facts. Unfortunately, I believe you know this is true.”

    Since you evidently believe me to be a liar, you probably won’t credit my denial. However, for the record, I don’t believe your claim to be true.

  179. Guy Murray July 31, 2006 at 4:54 pm

    Mayan,

    Just in 30 min. or so of researching the Churh website I found not only John’s reference above to “A Tresured Testament here, which states:

    Russell M. Nelson, “A Treasured Testament,” Ensign, July 1993, 61

    Adapted from an address given 25 June 1992 at a seminar for new mission presidents, Missionary Training Center, Provo, Utah, which states:

    The details of this miraculous method of translation are still not fully known. Yet we do have a few precious insights. David Whitmer wrote:

    “Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.” (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, Richmond, Mo.: n.p., 1887, p. 12.)

    See also:

    By the Gift and Power of God By Richard Lloyd Anderson, “By the Gift and Power of God,” Ensign, Sept. 1977, 79 which states:

    What do we know about how Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon?
    David Whitmer’s idea of translation is similar to Samuel Richards’s. Yet this view does not appear until 1875, nearly a half-century after Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery worked in David Whitmer’s home. His many statements on translation harmonize with his Address to All Believers In Christ, published in 1887 to supersede second-hand reports. There he gave his most detailed view of “the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated”:

    “Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light. And in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe. And when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God and not by any power of man. The characters I speak of are the engravings on the golden plates from which the book was translated.”

    See also:

    A Peaceful Heart Friend, Sept. 1974, 7, which states:

    Translating the ancient and strange looking writing on the gold plates was not a job that just anyone could do. Such an important work needed to be done by someone who was especially prepared by the Lord to do it.

    Because of his spiritual nature and his willingness to learn the truth, Joseph Smith was tested and found worthy to be the translator of the Book of Mormon. To help him with the translation, Joseph found with the gold plates “a curious instrument which the ancients called Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two transparent stones set in a rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate.”

    Joseph also used an egg-shaped, brown rock for translating called a seer stone. The translating was done at Peter Whitmer’s home, a friend of the Prophet’s where Oliver Cowdery, Emma Smith (Joseph’s wife), one of the Whitmers, or Martin Harris wrote down the words spoken by the Prophet as soon as they were made known to him.

    See also:

    FYI: For Your Information New Era, Mar. 1974, 42 which states:

    Certainly nothing could bring us nearer to God than a thorough and prayerful study of the Book of Mormon. For those who want to know more of the details of its coming forth to the world there are informative commentaries like The Keystone of Mormonism. This recent publication does not attempt to give an exhaustive treatment of the Book of Mormon but rather dwells on several fascinating areas in the revelation, translation, and publication of the book. From histories and period documents, Brother Cheesman presents some interesting information. For example, in one chapter he talks about the translation of the Book of Mormon. Did Joseph use the Urim and Thummim or the seer stone? Did he study the plates as he translated, or did they lay covered on the table? Did he dictate what the Lord said, or did he repeat the message in his own words? There is evidence that all of these might have been true. Only the Prophet could tell us for certain

    See also:

    By the Gift and Power of God Neal A. Maxwell Ensign, Jan. 1997, 36, which states:

    The Prophet Joseph alone knew the full process, and he was deliberately reluctant to describe details. We take passing notice of the words of David Whitmer, Joseph Knight, and Martin Harris, who were observers, not translators. David Whitmer indicated that as the Prophet used the divine instrumentalities provided to help him, “the hieroglyphics would appear, and also the translation in the English language … in bright luminous letters.” Then Joseph would read the words to Oliver (quoted in James H. Hart, “About the Book of Mormon,” Deseret Evening News, 25 Mar. 1884, 2). Martin Harris related of the seer stone: “Sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin” (quoted in Edward Stevenson, “One of the Three Witnesses: Incidents in the Life of Martin Harris,” Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, 6 Feb. 1882, 86–87). Joseph Knight made similar observations (see Dean Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History,” BYU Studies 17 [Autumn 1976]: 35).

    Oliver Cowdery is reported to have testified in court that the Urim and Thummim enabled Joseph “to read in English, the reformed Egyptian characters, which were engraved on the plates” (“Mormonites,” Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate, 9 Apr. 1831). If these reports are accurate, they suggest a process indicative of God’s having given Joseph “sight and power to translate” (D&C 3:12).

    If by means of these divine instrumentalities the Prophet was seeing ancient words rendered in English and then dictating, he was not necessarily and constantly scrutinizing the characters on the plates—the usual translation process of going back and forth between pondering an ancient text and providing a modern rendering.

    The revelatory process apparently did not require the Prophet to become expert in the ancient language. The constancy of revelation was more crucial than the constant presence of opened plates, which, by instruction, were to be kept from the view of unauthorized eyes anyway.

    While the use of divine instrumentalities might also account for the rapid rate of translation, the Prophet sometimes may have used a less mechanical procedure. We simply do not know the details.

    We do know that this faith-filled process was not easy, however. This fact was clearly demonstrated in Oliver Cowdery’s own attempt at translation. Oliver failed because he “did not continue as [he] commenced,” and because, lacking faith and works, he “took no thought save it was to ask” (D&C 9:5, 7). He was not properly prepared to do it. Even so, we owe so much to Oliver Cowdery for his special service as a scribe.

    Whatever the details of the process, it required Joseph’s intense, personal efforts along with the aid of the revelatory instruments. The process may have varied as Joseph’s capabilities grew, involving the Urim and Thummim but perhaps with less reliance upon such instrumentalities in the Prophet’s later work of translation. Elder Orson Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said Joseph Smith told him that he used the Urim and Thummim when he was inexperienced at translation but that later he did not need it, which was the case in Joseph’s translation of many verses of the Bible (see Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, 11 Aug. 1874, 498–99).

    Some additional things we know about the process of translation further qualify the Book of Mormon as a “marvellous work and a wonder.”

    You and I have previously discussed the idea of leaving the Church, but not leaving it alone. I still don’t get your beef. Either it’s true, and I can understand your conflict. Or, it’s as you say, a fiasco, which I take to mean a fraud, a canard, a prevarication on the grandest of scales–in which case who cares? Why do you still seem to care?

  180. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    Concealing discussions of the hat and the seer stone within the pages of its difficult-to-obtain official magazine simply confirms the lengths to which the Church is prepared to go in order to hide the truth about this all-important matter.

  181. Mayan Elephant July 31, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    thanks guy, we already got the 93 and 77 references. the others are a hoot eh? breastplate? i have a wool breastplate that i wear when i ski, though i have been told i should switch to a helmet.

    hey dan, sorry man. i didnt intend those other comments directly to you. i was speaking more in generalities about the pbs documentary and the mormon experience.

  182. Mayan Elephant July 31, 2006 at 5:23 pm

    dan, lighten up francis. THERE IS NO CONSPIRACY! THATS NOT THE POINT. dan, you need to drink more mountain dew or something. you seem stuck in first gear, the anticonspiracy gear. can you do that? drink mountain dew?

    hey pbs guys, dont interview dan unless he is caffeinated, please. and he would do well to sport some facial hair on a frontline documentary.

  183. Guy Murray July 31, 2006 at 5:23 pm

    c’mon mayan . . . the two 1974 references were to two youth magazines, one for teenagers and the other primary age . . . where you have made such a strong stand. That’s it . . your response is “a hoot eh? Ok . . .thanks for the clarification. It helps me understrand just how serious you are about some of these claims.

    Hope things are going well for you on your journey.

  184. Mayan Elephant July 31, 2006 at 5:26 pm

    dude, for one, i couldnt read in 1974. and two, i was the best reader in the first grade in 1975. gimme a break.

    guy, perhaps you have teh references from the manuals that seem so elusive.

    the journey is fun. the dialogue beats “dialogue” (or is that supposed to be underlined?)

  185. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 5:35 pm

    I don’t care whether you call it a conspiracy or you prefer to call it “intentional deception” — to me, a distinction without a difference.

    I see no real evidence for either.

    And what’s the big deal about the manuals? The manual to which I referred devotes less than one page to the translation of the Book of Mormon, as such, and gives almost no details. So the fact that it seems to omit mentioning the detail of the one-rock seer stone “Urim and Thummim” being used for part of the translation process in lieu of the two-rock Nephite “Urim and Thummim” is not all that surprising, really.

  186. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 5:37 pm

    MEleph: “he would do well to sport some facial hair on a frontline documentary.”

    That detail has long since been taken care of. Rest at ease.

  187. Mayan Elephant July 31, 2006 at 7:53 pm

    John Dehlin, what is the magic formula that gets some of your topics/comments as active as this? yowza. its active on this one.

  188. Mayan Elephant July 31, 2006 at 8:06 pm

    Dan the Man,

    the big deal about the manual? you ask? well for one, lots of folks dont get much more info than that (due to their own slothfulness of course). in many units the teachers are not actually teachers, rather they are moms, milkmen, cops, doctors, laborers, factory workers, social workers, sex workers (ok, that last one is less common but you get my point.) so, these busy folks and unhistorianed folks rely on the manual to create a lesson. for you, there are other resources, not so for everyone.

    and more, people trust the manuals as part of the modern revelation schtick. you may not. but some folks do. my mother prepared a lesson recently that i read. the whole thing was from the manual, ensign and scriptures. because, that is what is suggested to her as a gd teacher. gd, as in gospel doctrine, not that other gd.

    so, by ignoring relevent details in manuals, the brethren are slothfulling up the joint and heaping the burden on folks like, well, like my mother. thats sorta lame isnt it? granted, she was teaching from the ot and book of abraham that week. bwahahahahahaahaha. thats awesome.

    dan, no pass granted for the one rock two rock nephite zelphite utahjazzite urim and thummim loosy goosy. we are talking about folks thinking there was a breastplate thing, and finding out it was a hat. in this ONE case. there are lots of examples like this one that get filed under “oh, everyone knew that,” by some apologists and ‘nacclers.

    even though you are mean, vicous and crazy :) i enjoyed the dialogue.

  189. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 8:31 pm

    MEleph: “the big deal about the manual? you ask? well for one, lots of folks dont get much more info than that”

    That’s right. And the manuals can only cover a few very basic and fundamentally important ideas.

    To my mind, distinguishing between the one-rock Urim and Thummim and the earlier two-rock Urim and Thummim is not clearly among those very basic and fundamentally important ideas.

    MEleph: “(due to their own slothfulness of course).”

    I presume that they have other interests. Which is entirely legitimate. It isn’t necessary for salvation that one be able to provide the precise point in the chronology of the dictation of the Book of Mormon text when Joseph shifted from the dual-rock Urim and Thummim to the single-rock Urim and Thummim.

    I don’t accuse such people of sloth.

    However, when somone whines to me that the Church prevented him from knowing about the seer stone and the hat and that the Church has been suppressing things that manifestly haven’t been suppressed, he becomes a fair target for the charge of sloth. Historical ignorance, in most cases in civilized and prosperous societies where resources for curing it abound, represents a choice, a matter of personal priorities.

    MEleph: “In many units the teachers are not actually teachers, rather they are moms, milkmen, cops, doctors, laborers, factory workers, social workers . . . . so, these busy folks and unhistorianed folks rely on the manual to create a lesson.”

    And you think that these non-historians, teaching a class of non-historians, ought to devote a significant chunk of their time to considering the shift from a dual-stone Urim and Thummim to a single-stone Urim and Thummim?

    Why?

    MEleph: “for you, there are other resources, not so for everyone.”

    Deseret Book, Bookcraft, Covenant Communications, FAIR, Brigham Young University Press, FARMS, Dialogue, BYU Studies, the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, the Journal of Mormon History, Dialogue, Mormon Historical Studies, the FARMS Review, the Journal of the John Whitmer Historical Association, and etc., are every bit as available to other people as they are to me. (In fact, many members of the Church pull down a higher salary than I do, and could more easily afford them.) It’s a matter of personal interests and priorities.

    MEleph: “we are talking about folks thinking there was a breastplate thing, and finding out it was a hat.”

    But there was a breastplate. We have good eyewitness testimony on that.

  190. Mayan Elephant July 31, 2006 at 8:47 pm

    oh boy. oh boy dan. now you are making me laugh out loud for reals. we have good eyewitness testimony of this too, someone just asked me what the hell is wrong with me?

    guy is right. i need an alternative hobby and fast.

  191. CraigBa! July 31, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    And the manuals can only cover a few very basic and fundamentally important ideas.

    True. And interestingly enough, those are the ideas that give the guys at 50 E North Temple the fewest number of headaches.

    You and I have previously discussed the idea of leaving the Church, but not leaving it alone. I still don’t get your beef. Either it’s true, and I can understand your conflict. Or, it’s as you say, a fiasco, which I take to mean a fraud, a canard, a prevarication on the grandest of scales–in which case who cares? Why do you still seem to care? – Guy Murray

    And that’s precisely what you and Prof. Peterson and Dallin Oaks woul like, isn’t it?

    What business of yours or anyone else’s is it why ex-Mormons seem to care? Mormons are badgered by their leaders repeatedly to share their testimonies and spread the faith and go on missions (or, alternately, only to marry returned missionaries). How is that somehow better or more right than an ex-Mormon with a bad story to share who feels compelled to spread what they believe is the truth?

    At least the ex-Mormon isn’t doing it because someone’s badgering him to, or because his parents or wife expects him to, or because he fears his whole world would come crashing down around him if he didn’t, or because he’s told he’ll spend eternity as a eunuch managing Brother Jepson’s harem if he doesn’t, or because he hopes to get a little post-temple nookie.

    So don’t tell us to “let it alone.” Don’t tell anyone to let it alone. Ever. Mormons have the right to spread their interpretation of the truth, and ex-Mormons have the right to tell theirs.

  192. CraigBa! July 31, 2006 at 9:57 pm

    And the manuals can only cover a few very basic and fundamentally important ideas.

    True. And interestingly enough, those are the ideas that give the guys at 50 E North Temple the fewest number of headaches.

    You and I have previously discussed the idea of leaving the Church, but not leaving it alone. I still don’t get your beef. Either it’s true, and I can understand your conflict. Or, it’s as you say, a fiasco, which I take to mean a fraud, a canard, a prevarication on the grandest of scales–in which case who cares? Why do you still seem to care? – Guy Murray

    And that’s precisely what you and Prof. Peterson and Dallin Oaks would like, isn’t it?

    What business of yours or anyone else’s is it why ex-Mormons seem to care? Mormons are badgered by their leaders repeatedly to share their testimonies and spread the faith and go on missions (or, alternately, only to marry returned missionaries). How is that somehow better or more right than an ex-Mormon with a bad story to share who feels compelled to spread what they believe is the truth?

    At least the ex-Mormon isn’t doing it because someone’s badgering him to, or because his parents or wife expects him to, or because he fears his whole world would come crashing down around him if he didn’t, or because he’s told he’ll spend eternity as a eunuch managing Brother Jepson’s harem if he doesn’t, or because he hopes to get a little post-temple nookie.

    So don’t tell us to “let it alone.” Don’t tell anyone to let it alone. Ever. Mormons have the right to spread their interpretation of the truth, and ex-Mormons have the right to tell theirs.

  193. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 10:25 pm

    CraigBa!: “And interestingly enough, those are the ideas that give the guys at 50 E North Temple the fewest number of headaches.”

    You think, for some reason, that the core historical claims and theological principles of the Gospel ought to give the Brethren headaches? Why would somebody devote so much of his life to an organization with which he fundamentally disagreed?

    CraigBa!: “Mormons have the right to spread their interpretation of the truth, and ex-Mormons have the right to tell theirs.”

    I’ll let Guy Murray speak for himself. But on what basis do you insinuate that Elder Oaks and I don’t believe that ex-Mormons and anti-Mormons have a “right” to express their opinions? Have I advocated abridging your right to free speech? Have I said anything even distantly connected to that topic?

    Politically, I’m a near-libertarian.

  194. Guy Murray July 31, 2006 at 10:29 pm

    CraigBa

    It sounds to me as though you’d be a much happier person if you’d “let it alone.” Since you know nothing of my conversation with Mayan on this subject, you probably shouldn’t pretend to know what we discussed. Likewise you probably shouldn’t pretend that you know my motivations or my belief system in terms of my faith.

    People like you have been at the throats of the Saints since the early 1800’s, belittling what they believe, and spreading your lies and misconceptions about our faith. So, excuse me if I have the temerity to tell you and those like you to “leave it alone.” Or, at the very least to get it right!

  195. mayan elephant July 31, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    dan,

    the journal of the john whitmer historical association? are you serious? can i get a free phone with the logo of my favorite nfl team with that? a free ipod? sheesh. whoever is at the “head” of this church is a clever vegemite for sure. i mean, you would have to be one witty smart clever guy to create a maze like that to help people recieve those things with real intent.

    ya know. your arguments of “you should have known because it was in journal x” reminds me of something. i had this job once with an insurance company. we had a ton of money invested in enron bonds. enough to buy at least a quarter of a shopping mall in slc. it was a lot. and i was asked what to do with it. so i put my face in a hat and asked some rocks what to do. not really. i tried to figure out how much money enron could make. and i tried. and i tried. and i tried. and i tried again. i looked everywhere, and there were no answers that i needed. so i sold the position for a nice gain. well, you know the enron story. they had a wee bit of a problem. and they got sued.

    enrons attorneys came knocking on my door and subpeonaed me. and their case was, if this clownass mayan elephant could figure out these financial statements and sell the position at a big profit, then everyone could. they just had to look in the journal of the david whitmer historical society for the right answer. i mean, who wouldnt have looked there and saw a blank and sold. see, there was no lack of disclosure if a few people figured it out.

    thats just like you dan. there is no lack of disclosure if you figured it out, right?

    again. i dont think there is a conspiracy. i also dont think there were urimmums, admittedly. but i darn sure dont think its reasonable to expect someone to go the elder tom petty art collection and the journals of mormon spin to get the facts. unless of course, the head of the one true church is just goofin on people. in which case, it all makes perfect sense.

  196. John Dehlin July 31, 2006 at 11:09 pm

    “John Dehlin, what is the magic formula that gets some of your topics/comments as active as this? yowza. its active on this one.”

    I wish I knew. Admittedly, having all stars from both sides of the ideological perspective doesn’t hurt. :)

  197. CraigBa! July 31, 2006 at 11:10 pm

    Guy –

    If you had a private conversation with Mayan then keep it private – or on the thread where it existed. If you’re going to bring it into this thread then expect other people to speak up, too.

    I have not been at anyone’s throat. I have “let it alone,” as you say. What “lies and misconceptions” have I spread? Name one. You do not know “people like me” because you do not know me. You have no idea what I’ve said about the Church. I spend scarce little time discussing it, but I’ll not have you nor anyone else denigrate those who do spend their time telling other people about their experiences, suggesting there is something wrong with them if they don’t.

    I can tell you the gist of the things I tell people about the Church:

    1) There is no archeological evidence to back up the civilization alleged to exist in the BoM. True.

    2) There is no DNA evidence to link American Indians to Israeli Jews. True.

    3) There is no biological evidence proving that animals alleged to exist in the New World actually did. True.

    3) The Church has frequently taken to firing or excommunicating people who question its line. True (see LFA, DM Quinn, J Nelson, that dude who outed Paul H Dunn, etc.)

    4) The Book of Mormon does not read like an inspired book. True (IMO).

    5) Not one single prophecy in the D&C ever came true. Most prophecies, like the prophecies of all frauds, were highly contingent on the faith of the person prophesied to. Double True.

    6) Joseph Smith told 32 women (some already married to other men) that God wanted him to marry them. True.

    These are the “lies and misconceptions” about “your” faith that I have spread. I am not at your throat. I do not hate Mormons – I’d hate much of my own family if I did.

    But on what basis do you insinuate that Elder Oaks and I don’t believe that ex-Mormons and anti-Mormons have a “right” to express their opinions? Have I advocated abridging your right to free speech? Have I said anything even distantly connected to that topic?
    Politically, I’m a near-libertarian.

    We can chase this tail all day, can’t we, Professor Peterson? It gets us nowhere and serves no purpose. When I said “right” I did not say “legal right” and did not mean it. There is a quote by the late Elder Maxwell (not Oaks) that is pretty much what Guy Murray said: “In later years, I saw a few leave the Church who could then never leave it alone. They used often their intellectual reservations to cover their behavioral lapses.”

    https://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-439-17,00.html

  198. CraigBa! July 31, 2006 at 11:18 pm

    I will add one more thing, Mr. Murray. If you will look over at two other threads on this site – “High Fiving White Guys” and “Questions for Upcoming Podcast” – you will see that I am not dismissive of the good role the Church sometimes fills.

  199. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 11:21 pm

    MEleph: “the journal of the john whitmer historical association? are you serious? can i get a free phone with the logo of my favorite nfl team with that? a free ipod? sheesh. whoever is at the “head” of this church is a clever vegemite for sure. i mean, you would have to be one witty smart clever guy to create a maze like that to help people recieve those things with real intent.”

    Lots of people with interest in Mormon history have managed to subscribe to FARMS publications, buy books from Deseret Book and Bookcraft and Covenant, purchase copies of BYU Studies, and, yes, even have the Journal of the John Whitmer Historical Association delivered to their own mail box at home. It doesn’t take Superman to do this.

    It’s a matter of interests and priorities.

    MEleph: “your arguments of ‘you should have known because it was in journal x'”

    I haven’t made that argument. My argument has been that you can’t complain that the facts were kept from you by the Church if, in reality, the facts were readily available to you in a number of venues, some of them even officially sponsored by the Church. The Church isn’t hiding the information if it’s mentioned in the Church’s official magazine, discussed by an apostle in a speech to mission presidents, treated in books and articles written by employees of the Church’s university and published by organizations affiliated with that university.

    MEleph: “again. i dont think there is a conspiracy. i also dont think there were urimmums, admittedly. but i darn sure dont think its reasonable to expect someone to go the elder tom petty art collection and the journals of mormon spin to get the facts. unless of course, the head of the one true church is just goofin on people. in which case, it all makes perfect sense.”

    In other words, you think that if the Church doesn’t hold the hands of its members and spoonfeed them precisely the details of early Church history that you have determined must be spoonfed to the membership, that somehow proves that the Church “is just goofin on people.”

    I don’t see the logic of that.

  200. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 11:25 pm

    CraigBa!: “We can chase this tail all day, can’t we, Professor Peterson?”

    Yes, we can. If you will avoid giving false impressions about my position, it will help.

    Incidentally, I find Elder Maxwell’s observation entirely plausible. I know people just like the ones he mentions.

    (Please note that I did not say that all lapsed Mormons left because of behavioral problems. But I’ve known more than a few who did.)

  201. CraigBa! July 31, 2006 at 11:30 pm

    Yes, we can. If you will avoid giving false impressions about my position, it will help.

    Fine. I will remove your name from the list with Neal A Maxwell and Guy Murray (perhaps he’s channeling Elder Neal from the grave) and replace it with Proffesor Louis “dark side” Midgley.

  202. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 11:34 pm

    Neither Elder Maxwell nor Professor Midgley nor, so far as I can tell, Guy Murray says that ex-Mormons have no right voice their opinions.

    You’re misrepresenting them.

  203. CraigBa! July 31, 2006 at 11:40 pm

    I’m quoting them.

  204. Daniel Peterson July 31, 2006 at 11:50 pm

    The quotes don’t deny that ex-Mormons have rights to opinions.

  205. CraigBa! July 31, 2006 at 11:59 pm

    They don’t deny that elephants have toes, either.

  206. Daniel Peterson August 1, 2006 at 12:14 am

    That’s an extraordinarily weak comeback.

    The fact is that, for example, the quotation that you cite as demonstrating that Elder Maxwell denied that ex-Mormons have a right to hold their opinions says nothing of the kind.

  207. mayan elephant August 1, 2006 at 7:22 am

    yo john dehlin,

    so i sent my hot wife over here to check out the comments. you see, its not enough that she has to live with me but we also got some of those little boy people in the house. and they are so cute and fun but i worry that my wife doesnt get enought bathroom humor in her humor diet. anyways, i wanted her to see that i put some of that sort of dialogue in my dialogue about diaologue with midgley et all.

    and guess what, she was invited to meet with helen whitney too. i had no idea. this was back when she was still a churchin’, but clearly struggling with some of the dialogue, so she turned down that big chance to par tiss ip ate. shame. she would have been an awesome addition to helens work.

  208. mayan elephant August 1, 2006 at 7:42 am

    i really hate to stand up and defend guy murray. i know he is probably as rotten an SOB as dan and midgley. but, i should defend him here. he did bring up a conversation i had elsewhere with him and got slammed for it. i realized last night that i had done the same thing to blake ostler, who isnt even on this thread. so, free lagoon passes to blake and guy.

    thanks for watching my back here craigba.

    where is blake by the way? he would have been a cute addition to this thread, donchya think?

  209. Guy Murray August 1, 2006 at 8:36 am

    CraigBa!

    Guy –

    If you had a private conversation with Mayan then keep it private – or on the thread where it existed. If you’re going to bring it into this thread then expect other people to speak up, too.

    I didn’t say it was private. What I said was that you shouldn’t pretend to know what it was we discussed (at least without having read it). It was actually a fairly civil and respectful discussion. It was not, as you imply, one where I somehow espoused the notion that ex-mormons, anti-mormons, or anyone else for that matter, do not have a right to voice their opinions. Nor have I said that on this thread or any other thread, or anywhere at anytime. If you have some evidence to the contrary–please produce it.

    Fine. I will remove your name from the list with Neal A Maxwell and Guy Murray (perhaps he’s channeling Elder Neal from the grave) and replace it with Proffesor Louis “dark side” Midgley.

    For the record, I’m honored to be mentioned in the same breath with individuals such as Elder Neal A. Maxwell, and Bro. Midgley (I’d say the same about Bro. Peterson as well–but you took him off the list). That said–I must confess I’m not anywhere near their league though. You do them all a disservice by lumping them in with the likes of me.

    But, since you brought it up, let’s look exactly at Elder Maxwell said:

    In later years, I saw a few leave the Church who could then never leave it alone. They used often their intellectual reservations to cover their behavioral lapses (see Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience [1979], 110). You will see some of that. By the way, do not expect the world’s solutions to the world’s problems to be very effective. Such solutions often resemble what C. S. Lewis wrote about those who go dashing back and forth with fire extinguishers in times of flood (see The Screwtape Letters [1959], 117–18). Only the gospel is constantly relevant, and the substitute things won’t work.

    Well, from personal experience I can tell you Elder Maxwell was spot on! Like you (though probably not for the same professed reasons) I too left the Church. I left for the better part of a decade. As I look back on it–there were a myriad of reasons I gave (some perhaps similar to yours); but, bottom line is that I left because of behavorial lapses in my own life. I have no idea why you left–I can only speak for myself–and I will admit it was a direct result of my own behavior. Fortunately after a decade plus of spiritual wandering I returned to the pure and simple Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    What “lies and misconceptions” have I spread? Name one.

    From one of your comments above:

    Mormons are badgered by their leaders repeatedly to share their testimonies and spread the faith and go on missions (or, alternately, only to marry returned missionaries) . . .

    At least the ex-Mormon isn’t doing it because someone’s badgering him to, or because his parents or wife expects him to, or because he fears his whole world would come crashing down around him if he didn’t, or because he’s told he’ll spend eternity as a eunuch managing Brother Jepson’s harem if he doesn’t, or because he hopes to get a little post-temple nookie.

    I have been a mormon for much longer than you ever were. It was and is my experience that I was not, and am not repeatedly “badgered” by my leaders to:

    1. Share my testimony,
    2. Spread the faith,
    3. Go on missions

    My belief system and my faith is my own, not because as you suggest:

    1. My parents or anyone else expects it,
    2. I fear the whole world will come crashing down,
    3. I fear I will spend eternity as a “eunuch”, guarding a harem,
    4. I hope to get a bit of post-temple nookie.

    These are exactly the types of comments I had in mind when I said “people like you” belittle, or distort or outright lie about “my” beliefs and/or the Church.

    If you now want to retract them, fine–but let’s not pretend you didn’t say them, and that you did so in an effort to belittle, mislead, and/or distort. The same applies to the “truths” you listed. I consider them all to be either distortions, half truths, or statements meant to deceive and/or belittle beliefs of the Saints.

    You and I, however, are never going to agree on these subjects. I have never said you couldn’t hold and express any opinions you have about the Church, or the Prophet Joseph, or anyone else. Leaving the Church and leaving it alone does not mean you can’t express opinions.

    My whole point in discussing this previously with Mayan Elephant was to find out why he spent so much time and effort trying to destroy the faith of others who chose to believe. When I left the Church I did leave it alone. I couldn’t care less what they did or said–so I was and remain puzzled by those who go out of their way to continue to belittle and deride the Church of which they were formerly members.

    Well, I’ve droned on long enough. And, quite frankly I’m not sure how much these types of discussions accomplish. I am going to continue to believe what I believe. I’m certain you are going to continue to believe what you believe. I guess I still don’t understand why some ex-mormons or anti-mormons feel it their duty to “save” people like me from my own misguided belief and faith system.

    D&C 122:1-2

  210. Guy Murray August 1, 2006 at 8:42 am

    Mayan:

    i really hate to stand up and defend guy murray. i know he is probably as rotten an SOB as dan and midgley. but, i should defend him here. he did bring up a conversation i had elsewhere with him and got slammed for it. i realized last night that i had done the same thing to blake ostler, who isnt even on this thread. so, free lagoon passes to blake and guy.

    I know you mean this sincerely as a term of endearment as it were. Thanks for the defense! :-)

    p.s. you do have me pegged though!

  211. John Dehlin August 1, 2006 at 9:50 am

    ME–What does your wife do/know that would put her in contact w/ Helen? (I understand if it’s confidential, but I had to ask).

  212. wkempton August 1, 2006 at 3:37 pm

    I’ve read through all the comments on this post and wish to put in my two cents. Here is what I will not be saying:

    • I will not be arguing that the church covers up (hides information that can’t be read anywhere) that Joseph Smith used a seer stone.
    • I won’t be ignoring the fact that Latter-day Saints can and do have access to many controversial church subjects; by simply reading FARMS or FAIR, they can learn almost everything one might read by the Tanners. As a former Mormon (Post-Mormon) this is actually what solidified my own resignation as Mormon apologists confirmed a lot of what the critics were saying.

    Here is the gist of what I am saying:

    • The church is voluntarily misleading people about how Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon like false advertising.

    • I side with John Dehlin who suggests that the church should offer “full disclosure” about things like Smith’s use of the rock in a hat act.

    • I don’t believe the church will offer full disclosure, because leaders are embarrassed by such things like Joseph’s use of a rock in a hat.

    Regarding this quote by Hinkley:

    [quote] “As I have already mentioned, from the beginning of this work there has been opposition. There have been apostates. There have been scholars, some with balance and others with an axe to grind, who have raked over every bit of evidence available concerning Joseph Smith, the prophet of this dispensation. I plead with you, do not let yourselves be numbered among the critics, among the dissidents, among the apostates. That does not mean that you cannot read widely. As a Church, we encourage gospel scholarship and the search to understand all truth. Fundamental to our theology is belief in individual freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression. Constructive discussion is a privilege of every Latter-day Saint.” … Source: Comment by Mike Parker — July 27, 2006 # https://mormonstories.org/?p=130#comment-23943#comment-23943 [/quote]

    What a great quote, but is it compatible with the September Six and/or Grant Palmer’s disfellowship?

    John Dehlin nails it on the head when he wrote:

    [quote]I’m not sure how to wade through all this, but I’ll approach it this way:
    It seems to me that it is ethical, and maybe even in the Church’s long term best interest to proactively ensure that every member of the church, and every investigator, knows at least the following about its history:
    –Joseph Smith had 33 wives, some of them being married to other men’s wives
    –Joseph Smith publicly denied that he was practicing polygamy, and this fact, along w/ the destruction of the printing press, were important factors in his martyrom.
    –The Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham were not “translated” in the traditional sense of the word, but instead were “inspired” works. The BOM plates were likely not used in the BOM that we have today.
    –Black men were ordained to the LDS priesthood early on, but then were denied it for over 100 years, and some unfortunately racist statements were made by past prophets/apostles in this regard that are not to be considered church doctrine in any way
    –etc. etc.

    If the church were to take the responsibility to proactively make sure that people learned this stuff growing up, or when they were investigating the church, then we would not have the shock and awe that many experience today.

    We talk so much about our history in church publications, talks, etc. Full and proactive disclosure of these basic facts (reminded regularly) would certainly solve this problem, no?

    It might introduce other problems, but at least everyone would be in the loop. Today, I can promise you that over 1/2 of the church is out of the loop on these basic facts, and it is becoming a problem for many. You can say that this isn’t the church’s responsibility, but I would disagree with you.

    I believe that it is the open, honest, and responsible thing to do. We don’t have to dwell on these issues, but people should at least be made aware of them proactively.

    Comment by John Dehlin — July 27, 2006 #[/quote]

    Awesome John! The church needs more people like you John Dehlin, who are willing to tell the truth and offer “full disclosure.” But in reality. I don’t believe the LDS church will do that for the same reason that Scientology won’t come right out and tell you about Xenu or body thetans. If the church offered full-disclosure like a real-estate agent disclosing that the basement of the house has termites who would join? The agent is trying to sell a product so they might fail to mention the termites until after the sale. The church does the same thing. Can you imagine a missionary standing before two investigators saying, “I, Elder Utah, know that Joseph dictated the BoM by staring at a rock.” Close your eyes and imagine every congregation in every LDS chapel full of people who think and feel like Grant Palmer or John Dehlin. Now I respect and support you John (and Grant) but what would come of Mormonism? What would happen to Doctrine and Covenants 1:30, would there even be a D&C 1:30 or 132 in the cannon anymore? What would separate the LDS church from the United Church of Christ for example? This is why I’m a post Mormon and why I think the LDS church will never offer full-disclosure.

    Side note: for those who are interested in how Louis Midgley personally attacks Grant Palmer rather than deal with the facts in Palmer’s book, see my essay here https://www.geocities.com/exmormon2000/Palmer.doc

    Back to the issue of full disclosure with the rock in the hat act. The real issue is:

    [quote]… I wouldn’t have known about it had I not read about it in non-church publications like FARMS and Dialogue. The church leads all of us to believe that the plates were sitting in front of Joseph Smith on a table, and that he looked at them with spectacles attached to a breastplate. Or that he tranlated by staring at the plates with no spectacles at all. When “slothful” folks like us find out that the plates weren’t even used in the translation process, and that all of the action really happened in a hat, it can be a little disconcerting. https://mormonstories.org/?p=130#comment-24261%5B/quote%5D

    Amen to that comment. The bottom line is that two or three references to the seer stone in a hat in the Ensign and Improvement Era (obscure references you have to dig to find) does not make up for the LDS church’s official image campaign to portray Smith actually translating gold pates in front of him (see https://www.mormon.org/learn/0,8672,1293-1,00.html). This image is untrue and church leaders know it for they admit it in at least one article in the Ensign (mentioned in this thread), so why the false advertising? Why aren’t LDS apologists protesting this image above if they know it’s untrue? Here’s an honesty test: how long will this link portray a lie (or mislead, or sugarcoat it, or whatever you want to call it)? Will LDS apologists contact the church and set the record straight rather than give the lame excuse that its all the artist’s fault for not knowing their history?

    The apologists in this thread of comments blame the exmormon and call them ignorant and slothful when most Mormons, who have spent years in the church don’t know about the rock in the hat act. In his wonderful video presentation at https://mormonstories.org/whytheyleave/ John Dehlin points this out in clip #9, and clip 21 & 22. Dehlin contrasts what Mormons are taught growing up versus the historical truth. Can you imagine what would happen if the church broadcasted John Dehlin’s honest and compassionate video at general conference? Can you imagine what bridges it would build between couples about to divorce because of Mormonism, how it would help families that are broken up, and create compassion for those who are depressed because they are shunned by the Mormon community for free thinking? But will that happen? No way, not with Mormon apologists who refuse to hold their church accountable for misleading people by showing things like Smith with gold plates in front of him, and instead blame the inactive and exmormon as slothful and ignorant.

    This comment by Peterson tells all:

    [quote]
    “Apostate Mormons make their mistake in blaming the Church, when they do it, for their ignorance and sloth. They create a massive conspiracy to keep the information from them, when it is actually widely and publicly available in a large number of different venues. The issue looms large among some critics, but I don’t think it agitates much of the general Church membership or leadership. So now, I don’t think the Church is likely, any time soon, to address it or “correct the misconception.” Comment by Daniel Peterson — July 31, 2006 # https://mormonstories.org/?p=130#comment-24264. [/quote]

    Peterson completely ignores the issue and the point (that he must know) that Dehlin brings up in his video presentation. Ask ten members at any LDS ward if they know about the peepstone in a hat Mr. Peterson. Are you saying that they are slothful and ignorant? What about you, are you willing to “correct the misconception” even though you admit “the Church is [not] likely, any time soon, to address it…”? How long will this link – https://www.mormon.org/learn/0,8672,1293-1,00.html – portray a misleading and false image?

    Side Note: this isn’t the only false image promoted by the church. The First Vision picture of two physical gods (or heavenly personages in physical form) is inaccurate as well. See my essay at https://www.geocities.com/exmormon2000/godhead.html.
    There’s no need for the apologist to say look up these obscure references in LDS sources where it mentions the seer stone, when the church advertising campaign is misleading. Why argue? Just go into any Mormon ward and ask ten Mormons if they knew smith dictated the BoM by putting a rock in a hat when the plates were nowhere in sight, and see what they say. LDS references to the seer stone is hardly mentioned except a few times, and the “hat” is hardly ever mentioned (see https://mormonstories.org/?p=130#comment-24290) compared to the false image displayed in thousands and thousands of official LDS publications of Joseph not using a rock or a hat. Where are the official LDS sources of Smith using a seer stone in money digging to swindle people out of their money, and the 1826 glass looker trial in official LDS sources? Where are these facts presented honestly in a historical article in the Ensign? Yes I know money digging is mentioned in Joseph Smith’s history, but it does not cover the 1826 trial or how he swindled people out of their money.

    Lets just be honest, the true history embarrasses the church and the apologists for that matter. Honestly, imagine two missionaries with the flip chart flipping to Smith with a rock in a hat. Who would want that kind of honesty? The fact is that if they showed images of the truth, of Joseph sitting with a Bible on the table for reference, the plates no where in sight, and his head buried in a hat staring at a rock what would that do for the church? Just look at how embarrassed Mormon leaders are about the South Park episode.

    When I read about “the interpreters” growing up in the church I imagined a pair of glasses since the official images were of Joseph hunched over gold plates. I challenge the LDS apologist to walk into any ward and ask ten people how Smith translated the BoM, and if they are honest the apologist will admit that more than 90% of Mormons know nothing about a seer stone and think the Urum and Thummin or interpreters were like supernatural reading glasses to help him lean over and translated the plates literally.

    Some talk in this thread covered the witnesses. Palmer thoroughly debunks the witnesses as reliable in his book, but really why discuss it? As Al Case asks at lds-mormon.com in the BoM questions section, “Why would many of them [the witnesses] become Strangites? If Utah Mormons believe the witnesses’ testimonies of Joseph Smith’s claims shouldn’t they also believe the testimonies of James Jesse Strang’s very similar claims? (same for William E. McLellin’s movement)?” Why would a deity want us to believe hearsay when we could have evidence of the plates? If you say the Mormon gods didn’t want to give us evidence then why does my 1963 BoM, in the introduction, show a picture of gold tablets found in Persia in 1961 in an attempt to provide evidence of at least the existence of gold plates when all the angel had to was say “well, look. We up there have been doing a lot of thinking. We know in the future DNA evidence will come out and change things a bit. We know the witnesses aren’t reliable. Heck David Whitmer is gonna tell everyone God told him to leave the Mormon Church in his little pamphlet. So ya know what. Keep the plates. Bury them again and later a guy named Gordon Hinkley can dig them up and provide some real evidence so that we can save the souls of future exmormons.” Never mind whether or not the witnesses are liable, when its only hearsay and they believed in James Strang’s claims, and we could have the plates to examine ourselves if it were all true!

    I conclude with these two excellent quotes from comments in the thread:

    [quote]“the big deal about the manual? you ask? well for one, lots of folks dont get much more info than that (due to their own slothfulness of course). in many units the teachers are not actually teachers, rather they are moms, milkmen, cops, doctors, laborers, factory workers, social workers, sex workers (ok, that last one is less common but you get my point.) so, these busy folks and unhistorianed folks rely on the manual to create a lesson. for you, there are other resources, not so for everyone…and more, people trust the manuals as part of the modern revelation schtick. you may not. but some folks do. my mother prepared a lesson recently that i read. the whole thing was from the manual, ensign and scriptures. because, that is what is suggested to her as a gd teacher… we are talking about folks thinking there was a breastplate thing, and finding out it was a hat. in this ONE case. https://mormonstories.org/?p=130#comment-24326 [/quote]

    [quote]“The real heart of the matter for me is that the peepstone, or seerstone, that Joseph used to translate the BoM is the same stone he used in his mystical money digging ventures of which none were ever successful.” https://mormonstories.org/?p=130#comment-24171 [/quote]

    And with that excellent comment, I concur and conclude with, that is in fact the real heart of the matter.

  213. wkempton August 1, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    Can you put my comment quotes in actual quotes and tell me how to do that?

  214. John Dehlin August 1, 2006 at 3:45 pm

    Looks like the tags might be:

    ‘< blockquote' cite="the quote goes here">
    < 'blockquote'>

    without any of the apostrophies

  215. DKL August 1, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    As usual, Lou Midgely can’t criticize Tal Bachman without attacking him personally. He did the same thing to Grant Palmer. He did the same thing to John Dehlin. And he did the same thing to me.

    He even attacks those who are surprised by seer stones (including the ultra-nuanced view of seerstones advanced by Lou). The surprised are those who “through their own sloth and indifference set themselves up for surprise.”

    Two main thrusts are essential to any apologetic argument of Lou Midgely (and many other apologists).

    The first is personal attack–real, below the belt, personal attacks–like ridiculing their career success or their career choices in the case of Tal Bachman. I think that this thread is the first time that I’ve even heard of Tal Bachman, so I’ve got no loyalty or even any interest in him. But I don’t care if he waits tables, sings music, or fixes cars: Whether he’s recognized for what he does in his career has nothing to do with anything he has to say about Mormonism, and going after it is a despicable thing. He did the same thing to John Hatch, disparaging his career achievements at Signature. This really enrages me, and it should be a sign to all decent people that they should ignore what Lou writes when it includes these kinds of attacks.

    The second is the blame-the-victim mentality. If someone decides that empirical evidence against the church outweighs the spiritual evidence, it’s because their faithless or too lazy for Lou’s intellectual gymnastics.

    Anyone who is mystified at why people find this behavior to be distasteful is simply out of touch. Dan, is this the kind of behavior that you wish to defend?

  216. Daniel Peterson August 1, 2006 at 4:49 pm

    I’m afraid that it will be a while before I respond to Mr. Kempton’s dissertation. My son enters the MTC tomorrow, and I will be busy with the FAIR conference all day Thursday and Friday.

    In the meantime, I need to throw some remarks together for my FAIR presentation on Friday afternoon.

    DKL: I don’t think Professor Midgley’s remarks about Tal Bachman’s rock-musical career represent all that serious an issue. Other subjects seem to me much more important, and much worthier of discussion.

  217. DKL August 1, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    Dan, that’s where you and I differ. I see that as part and parcel of the problem. The continual, concerted effort to put the opponent in as bad a light as possible makes it seem impossible to have a reasonable conversation with an apologist. It’s also what makes people portray them as monsters.

    I don’t think it’s reasonable of you (on the one hand) to express confusion over why people think of prominent apologists in a bad light, and (on the other hand) to say that you don’t think it’s a big deal when they continually make pot shots at their opponent with an aim to belittle and humiliate.

    And there’s always something more important to discuss than the matter at hand. Unless you have something specific in mind that this is mutually exclusive to the discussion of this topic, it’s a piss-poor excuse for not discussing it.

  218. Mayan Elephant August 1, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    dan, as much as I dislike some of your views and those of your fellow FARMSers, I hope your son has a blast. and, if Elder Peterson knocks on my door I promise to say “gosh” and “darn” and I will turn off Johnny Cash. though, I don’t have any mission approved janice kapp perry stuff. all the best to the petersons.

    the rest of y’all. shhhhhhhhh. I’m secretly hoping that if I am nice that the holy ghost will make dan think exactly like me, or exactly like equality, which is close enough.

  219. Daniel Peterson August 1, 2006 at 6:26 pm

    Feel free, DKL — I know you will — to devote pages and pages to Professor Midgley’s line or two referring to Tal Bachman’s career as a rock musician.

    Your personal interests don’t bother me. They don’t have to be mine, though.

  220. solomarineris August 1, 2006 at 7:42 pm

    rfm is run by the most disingenuous & fashist and cliquish people that I know of. I’m an exmo and never seen people trated so un-democratically anywhere. Susan IS, Cricket may claim of this nice facade of freedom and liberalism but the fact is they do make look Dunamis and his/her cohorts in FAIR the fairest moderators.
    They do absolutely not allow and dissenting point.
    When you complain about it, they simply say; “if you don’t like it go somwhere else”.
    I like Tal’s post very much, but the vulgarity permitted there is uncomparable to any dissenting voice.
    Dan has a point, quoting Tal’s obnoxious paragraphs. rfm would never allow him for any rebuttal, they like monologs and rants.
    Any meaningful dicussion between opposing views are impossible there.

  221. DKL August 1, 2006 at 8:23 pm

    Dan, I’m glad that you’ve stopped hiding behind the pretense that there’s something objectively unimportant about it, and you’re finally willing to admit that you simply have no interest in discussing the immorality of your actions or Lou’s actions. (My original question was whether you really wish to defend this behavior. As usual, you just don’t answer the question–bizarre.)

    I’ll keep Lou’s comment in mind (and your refusal to condemn it) as yet another example of the despicable behavior of apologists. You should be ashamed. That kind of character assassination of the unfaithful contributes to the impression that Mormonism is a cult.

    I want to make it clear that I condemn you and Lou. You’re different from me, and I feel the need to apologize to others for the fact that you and I seem to represent the same religious outlook.

  222. Ann August 1, 2006 at 8:39 pm

    trying to look like Bruce who-ever-it-was in the 70s
    Oh. My. Goodness.

    Mr.? Dr.? Midgely, whatever I may have thought about you before, I now fear that you are beyond redemption. It’s SPRINGSTEEN. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. And you can’t expect to recognize celestial glory until you’ve listened to “The Promised Land,” cranked up all the way to eleven…

    Blow away the dreams that break your heart
    Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
    Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and broken hearted.

    It’s on “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” Go listen. And then repent, for misuse of The Name and for the heresy of comparing Tal Bachman (lightweight) to Bruce.

    I’ll pray for your soul.

  223. mayan elephant August 1, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    Ann,
    11? Awesome. i am truly really laughing out loud.

  224. Daniel Peterson August 1, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    DKL: “I want to make it clear that I condemn you and Lou.”

    Whatever. For my part, I don’t really think much about you

    Your hyperventilation about our supposedly “shameful” and “bizarre” “character assassination,” “immorality,” and “despicable behavior” strikes me as comically overdramatic. But, if it floats your boat, you’re welcome to it.

    DKL: “You’re different from me.”

    Thank you. And I say Vive la différence!

  225. Daniel Peterson August 1, 2006 at 10:23 pm

    MEleph: “dan, as much as I dislike some of your views and those of your fellow FARMSers, I hope your son has a blast. and, if Elder Peterson knocks on my door I promise to say “gosh” and “darn” and I will turn off Johnny Cash. though, I don’t have any mission approved janice kapp perry stuff. all the best to the petersons.”

    Thanks, MEleph. If you live in the vicinity of Nagoya, Japan, there’s a chance he could drop by.

    In the meantime, keep playing Johnny Cash.

  226. mayan elephant August 1, 2006 at 10:29 pm

    hey dan, did you teach him to say seerstone and hat in japanese? :) :) :) :) (it is ok to joke about that, right?)

  227. Left Field August 1, 2006 at 10:57 pm

    I don’t really recall when I first heard about seerstones. I was probably too old to have read about it in the Friend in 1974, but it is quite likely that I would have read the article from the New Era the same year. It’s also possible I could have heard about seerstones in Sunday School, Seminary, or BYU religion classes. There is no doubt that I would have read about them in Sunstone, Dialogue, a whole variety of church history books, and even _Mormon Doctrine_. I had often heard that a seer is a person who has the right to use a seerstone.

    I knew (from McConkie if no one else) that Joseph’s seerstone was present on the altar at the dedication of the Manti Temple and that it was still in posession of the church. It seems that nearly every time the subject arises, that the seerstone is mentioned as one of the important contents of the famed First Presidency Vault.

    I remember as a teenager in the ’70s thinking that as a seer, President Kimball had the right to use the seerstone, but that (being in a vault) it was probably seldom if ever used. My impression of seerstones has always been that of a noble and venerable instrument.* The idea of a seerstone as an embarrasment is completely foreign to me.

    Common usage equates the stones of the U&T with seerstones and the terms are often used interchangably. I guess at some point I did become aware that despite the confusion of terminology, the “seerstone” used in translating the Book of Mormon was different from the U&T. Sometimes he used one; sometimes he used the other. It’s an interesting historical note, but to me the distinction is hardly something relevant to my faith. I never felt that I’d been misled, perhaps because I’d always heard about seerstones from church-friendly sources. Nobody ever told me it was supposed to be an embarrasment. If the church was supressing the information, they did a really bad job for me, what with it being in the correlated magazines and all.

    The hat was also never a problem for me, though I don’t remember reading about it until I was older. I guess I just thought it was a useful way to exclude light, like an old photographer’s focusing cloth. If it were me, I might have just drawn the blinds, but then perhaps it would have been difficult for the scribe to see. He could have tossed a blanket over his head, but that might be hot and make dictating difficult. A hat seems to me like the ideal solution if you want to exclude light. To me, it’s a mildly interesting historical detail. There’s probably thousands of historical details I’ve never heard. When I learn something I’ve never heard before, tend to feel enlightend, rather than finding someone to be angry with for not having already told me.

    In the Ensign, Brother Nelson calls the hat story a “precious insight”, so I don’t see any evidence that the GAs are either embarrased by the hat, or have done anything to supress the story. Neal Maxwell mentioned the hat in passing and didn’t seem too disturbed about it. Last year I went to a High Priests social where an institute instructor made reference to the hat. Nobody batted an eye. Another explanation for why the hat doesn’t come up more than it does is simply that some people REALLY don’t think it’s that big of a deal.

    It seems to me that how people respond to seerstones and hats is more a matter of spin than substance. If you were exposed to the idea as I was from church-friendly sources, you’re probably unlikely to see it as a problem. If your information came to you with the opposite spin, you’re probably going to see things differently. We all seem to agree on the basic facts; we’re just arguing over the spin. This discussion has reached >200 comments because everyone is baffled as to how anyone can see the facts with any spin other than what we think is the obvious one.

    =======
    *”Peepstone,” on the other hand has an entirely different connotation, which is perhaps why some prefer that term. According to Bushman, the same connotations were current in Joseph’s time which would explain why Joseph and church sources since then have consistently called it a seerstone. I confess to being puzzled as to why even some defenders of the prophet have recently adopted the critics’ use of “peepstone.” The terms are no more interchangable in their connotation than “prophet” is with “soothsayer”.

  228. DKL August 2, 2006 at 12:35 am

    Daniel Peterson: Whatever. For my part, I don’t really think much about you

    Fhew! That’s a relief.

  229. CraigBa! August 2, 2006 at 7:32 am

    These are exactly the types of comments I had in mind when I said “people like you” belittle, or distort or outright lie about “my” beliefs and/or the Church. – Guy Murray

    OK. I’m going to post re-quote my original comments below. None of them lie, distort, or belittle your beliefs. None. Now, if they don’t express them in exactly the right words that *you* would prefer, well bummer. But that’s not a lie. Or a distortion. Or belittlement. Sorry to break your heart. If instead of simply calling them lies you would actually like to challenge the accuracy of anything I said, well have at.

    1) There is no archeological evidence to back up the civilization alleged to exist in the BoM. True.

    2) There is no DNA evidence to link American Indians to Israeli Jews. True.

    3) There is no biological evidence proving that animals alleged to exist in the New World actually did. True.

    3) The Church has frequently taken to firing or excommunicating people who question its line. True (see LFA, DM Quinn, J Nelson, that dude who outed Paul H Dunn, etc.)

    4) The Book of Mormon does not read like an inspired book. True (IMO).

    5) Not one single prophecy in the D&C ever came true. Most prophecies, like the prophecies of all frauds, were highly contingent on the faith of the person prophesied to. Double True.

    6) Joseph Smith told 32 women (some already married to other men) that God wanted him to marry them. True.

  230. Ben McGuire August 2, 2006 at 7:34 am

    Having been gone the last several days (spent some time with my kids at Cedar Point – for those of you familiar with that location), I wanted to add a few more comments going way back.

    Back on July 28th, Lunar Quaker wrote:

    “This is what I find the most troubling about your views, Ben. Feeling that the church should be honest with its membership is not an unreasonable expectation. We’re not asking for perfection in fallible human beings, we’re just asking for honesty. Your comparison to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny is untenable because we’re not talking about fairy tales that an adult tells a child in order to perpetuate a harmless tradition. We’re talking about worldview-shaping philosophies that significantly affect how a person lives his or her life.”

    You know, my experience is that encounters with the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Clause and so on significantly affect children’s world view. But they move on (most of the time). If I had to make a singular observation, it would be that a greater problem exists with perceptions of authority. But in this case, do you realize how silly it sounds to some of us (well at least to me) to blame your Primary teacher for the shortcomings in your religious education?

    With a nod to Mayan Elephant, here is why the comment is relevant. We are told a lot of things as children. We are told a lot of things as adults. At some point, we (as individuals) have to make a choice as to what is trustworthy reliable evidence.

    What are the qualifications of being a Primary Teacher? Does the interview include questions about a knowledge of church history? Is the purpose of Primary classes to teach history? And yet, for Lunar Quaker, there is something dishonest in what most (if not all) primary teachers do in their callings. I don’t know if I accept this presentation. It seems to me to be an easy way of placing blame.

    The only difference between Santa Clause and the peep stone is one of significance. That is, it is because an individual places far more significance on a specific belief set about events which occured that it becomes different. It isn’t about being taught something incorrect as a child. It isn’t about being taught something incorrect from an authority figure. To say that there is no similarity isn’t the case. And it is because of the individual’s response that it somehow becomes other than “harmless” to talk about the history of the church in this fashion.

    “They are presented as literal facts, and they are enforced by punishment. The church asks people to sacrifice their lives in defending the kingdom of God. There is a lot at stake.”

    But you are the one who is equating the teachings of a primary instructor (and lets be quite frank here, most of us reading and participating in these comments are quite aware of how primary teachers are selected) with the kingdom of God. Does prayer and personal confirmation not matter anymore, now that the primary teacher has said it? Or the Gospel Doctrine instructor? Or the Bishop? Or the Stake President? Or the Prophet? What level of control do you think the church should exert?

    “When a little boy becomes an adult and stops believing in Santa Claus, it’s not like his worldview falls apart. The enlightened adult man doesn’t have to deal with a believing wife that cries herself to sleep because her husband doesn’t think that Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen really leave hoof marks on his rooftop. He doesn’t have to risk being ostracized by his own family because he thinks that the only organisms that live at the North Pole are radiation-resistant microbes.”

    All of this is true. But, at the same time, I didn’t experience any of this as my beliefs about Mormonism developed. None of it. So you cannot claim that this is the natural conclusion of the changing of the worldview. Further, my experience of the church (which is mostly of the church outside of Utah) is that most of the views which you might feel are less traditional are far more prevalent in the church than you probably think. And they also didn’t go through this horrible experience as their world views changed.

    Ben

  231. CraigBa! August 2, 2006 at 7:38 am

    “When a little boy becomes an adult and stops believing in Santa Claus, it’s not like his worldview falls apart. The enlightened adult man doesn’t have to deal with a believing wife that cries herself to sleep because her husband doesn’t think that Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen really leave hoof marks on his rooftop. He doesn’t have to risk being ostracized by his own family because he thinks that the only organisms that live at the North Pole are radiation-resistant microbes.”

    Wow, Ben. Great quote. Where’d you get that?

  232. CraigBa! August 2, 2006 at 7:40 am

    What happened to the Tom Trails videos? I loved them too. I couldn’t wait for the episode where Tom’s skin would turn white.

    Actually that *did* happen, in the sequel “Tom Trails: Electric Boogaloo.” Unfortunately, the original Tom was killed early in the season in a tragic accident at the offices of Evergreen International. He was replaced by actor Mike Lookinland.

  233. mayan elephant August 2, 2006 at 7:49 am

    From Ben: “All of this is true. But, at the same time, I didn’t experience any of this as my beliefs about Mormonism developed. None of it. So you cannot claim that this is the natural conclusion of the changing of the worldview. Further, my experience of the church (which is mostly of the church outside of Utah) is that most of the views which you might feel are less traditional are far more prevalent in the church than you probably think. And they also didn’t go through this horrible experience as their world views changed.”

    you and blake ostler alike. its interesting how little sympathy you show for the people that had that experience that lunar described, that are having it now, and will have it in the future.

    do you really think that lunar quaker just pulled that out of his monkey vault? i dont. whether that was my experience or not, i trust that he is describing something real and meaningful and that its worth discussing why others feel the same.

  234. Ben McGuire August 2, 2006 at 8:37 am

    A few more comments (shorter) from a range of posters.

    Enochville wrote:

    “So, this is why it is a big deal that Joseph used a magic peep stone rather than the urim and thummim. The Spirit lied to everyone of us who believed the Spirit testified Joseph used the urim and thummim.”

    And of course, such a distinction can only be made once a person has decided that the witness of the spirit wasn’t right to begin with. Actually, people don’t usually ask specifically about the seer stones in my experience. Did you pray if the Book of Mormon was true? Or did you pray to find out if Joseph Smith used the Urim and Thumim (specifically, the peep stone which was referred to as the Urim and Thumim) to translate the gold plates?

    Mayan Elephant wrote:

    “Mayan Elephant

    and i declare a winner. it has come to my attention that there are 2 references to a hat. one in 1993, and one in 1977. both are the same quote and both found in the ensign.

    other than that – zip, nada, rien, zilch.

    so craigba. pay attention, at this pace, there could be another official mention of the hat in 2009.”

    So this goes back to my question (which he answered already) about which scenario was more absurd. It is more absurd with or without the hat? This of course bears on the rather simplistic notion later on in the comments (which I’ll get to momentarily I think) that somehow the church isn’t embarassed at all about the angel and the magic spectacles but is embarassed somehow about the hat and the peepstone.

    Out of curiousity, how many here accept the old story about the Washoe seeress discovering the Comstock lode using a peep stone? It was believed by many otherwise rational people at the time …

    Mayan Elephant also noted:

    “again. i dont think there is a conspiracy. i also dont think there were urimmums, admittedly. but i darn sure dont think its reasonable to expect someone to go the elder tom petty art collection and the journals of mormon spin to get the facts. unless of course, the head of the one true church is just goofin on people. in which case, it all makes perfect sense.”

    I think though that something else needs to be said. We live in an era of information overload (in some ways). We have so much at our fingertips that we are redefining basic terms related to knowledge. Knowledge isn’t really any longer what is stored in memory in our brains, but what we have ready access to. Knowledge is what can be reduced to data streams. Everything else is merely noise. A hundred years ago, even 50 years ago, if you wanted information you had to go to the written sources, to the Journal of Discourses, to the church magazines. These were not as trivial then as they are now. Nor did we view history or even “facts” in the same way we do now. How long has it been since we have had manuals of the sort we use today? I have an old approved priesthood manual from 1957. It’s called An Approach to the Book of Mormon by Hugh Nibley. Certainly it is nothing like the Priesthood manuals of today.

    As a final note, since something was said about it earlier – Palmer does discuss the idea of the “eyes of faith” (and a number of related terms). What Palmer does here is typical of certain other aspects of New Mormon History. He defines a specific group (not by membership, but by certain nebulous qualities). In this case it is a group who share a common magical world view. He then redefines their language, describing it as having a technical meaning. In this case, he gives the idea that these phrases refer specifically to something immaterial, a visionary (but not physically real) experience – “second sight” as he calls it. These same phrases occur regularly outside of this community of people who share a common magical world view. And the language is used consistently, and essentially in a way which is exclusive of the conclusions of Grant Palmer. I know this because I have looked at a huge amount of early 19th century literature (both my own extensive personal collection – which goes back to the mid 18th century in terms of religious literature) and the millions of pages of digitizes on-line searchable texts. In order to arrive at his conclusion, he has to claim that this community (which is intuited more than identified methodologically) has a special technical meaning for the terms they use – which they themselves do not define, but which Palmer intuits for us. And then this becomes the basis for his claims that it was never a physical experience. There is no real reason to accept his notion of this technical meaning in circulation among this culture within a culture, and so there is no reason to accept his idea that something viewed with an eye of faith should be understood as an experience of second sight, instead of understood in the more traditional meaning (based on Biblical usage) in use in the larger community of early 19th century American culture.

    Ben

  235. Lunar Quaker August 2, 2006 at 11:58 am

    Ben wrote:

    “You know, my experience is that encounters with the Tooth

    Fairy, and Santa Clause and so on significantly affect

    children’s world view. But they move on (most of the time).

    If I had to make a singular observation, it would be that a

    greater problem exists with perceptions of authority. But

    in this case, do you realize how silly it sounds to some of

    us (well at least to me) to blame your Primary teacher for

    the shortcomings in your religious education?”

    I don’t know any disaffected Mormons that blame their

    Primary teachers for the church’s deceptions. That’s a

    neat trick you’re trying to pull, there, Ben. What you’re

    essentially doing is trying to make us heretics look silly

    by underscoring this false notion that we’re a bunch of

    whiney miscreants that blame all of our problems on Mommy,

    Daddy, and Sister Valiant B. Teacher.

    Ben, the bottom line is that the church consciously and

    intentionally teaches a mythological/folklorical version of

    its founding history, and then asks people to accept it as

    literal or risk being labelled as a heretic. It’s like

    asking someone to believe that George Washington really

    chopped down a cherry tree, or else risk losing your U.S.

    citizenship. Or a historical science foundation that

    requires its members to sign a statement saying that Sir

    Isaac Newton really came up with his gravitational epiphany

    from an apple bonking him on the head.

    It’s unfair and unethical to intentionally teach myths to

    people and ask them to believe them literally or else be

    labelled a heretic. The church might not formally punish

    such heretics, but they succeed in many cases at making

    their lives a living hell by fostering an environment of

    intolerance among the Mormon rank-and-file.

    “What are the qualifications of being a Primary Teacher?

    Does the interview include questions about a knowledge of

    church history? Is the purpose of Primary classes to teach

    history? And yet, for Lunar Quaker, there is something

    dishonest in what most (if not all) primary teachers do in

    their callings. I don’t know if I accept this presentation.

    It seems to me to be an easy way of placing blame.”

    Ben, it’s not the Primary teacher that’s to blame for

    teaching myths. Besides, even if the Primary teacher knows

    the truth, they won’t teach it. If the kiddoes go home and

    tell Mommy and Daddy that Sister Valiant B. Teacher told

    them that Joseph put a peepstone in a hat to translate the

    Book of Mormon, they would likely get complaints and be

    released in a blink of an eye. There’s nothing in what I

    wrote that even remotely suggests that Primary teachers,

    Sunday School teachers, or seminary teachers are to blame.

    They have to teach the correlated myths or risk

    negative repurcussions. It should be obvious that it’s the

    general church leadership that’s to blame.

    “The only difference between Santa Clause and the peep stone is one of significance. That is, it is because an individual places far more significance on a specific belief set about events which occured that it becomes different. It isn’t about being taught something incorrect as a child. It isn’t about being taught something incorrect from an authority figure.”

    I have no clue what you are trying to say here. If I am understanding you correctly, then you are saying that the feeling of being deceived by someone you trust is more significant than merely being deceived. That’s true.

    “Does prayer and personal confirmation not matter anymore, now that the primary teacher has said it? Or the Gospel Doctrine instructor? Or the Bishop? Or the Stake President? Or the Prophet? What level of control do you think the church should exert?”

    Let’s see, how would such a prayer go? Maybe something like this:

    “Dear Heavenly Father, I am so grateful for the beautiful Spirit that I felt in my Sunday School lesson today. However, I just want to be sure that what my teacher told me is true. Could you please tell me if Joseph Smith really translated the Book of Mormon from the gold plates using the Urim and Thummim? **pause and wait for personal revelation** Oh, wow, Heavenly Father, thanks for clearing that up! Now I know that there were really no plates involved at all! I’m so grateful for personal revelation. I felt the Spirit so strongly in my class today, I might have been duped into thinking that what the Sunday School teacher was saying was literally true! Thank you, Heavenly Father. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

    “All of this is true. But, at the same time, I didn’t experience any of this as my beliefs about Mormonism developed. None of it. So you cannot claim that this is the natural conclusion of the changing of the worldview.”

    Some people may not suffer any negative consequences for admitting to themselves that the church teaches myths. Especially if they keep it to themselves. In other cases, it can bring about intense suffering, especially when they get labelled a heretic if their new beliefs create rifts in their families. A little compassion on your part would go a long way to helping you understand what some people go through.

  236. Lunar Quaker August 2, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    (posted again to correct fomatting)

    Ben wrote:

    “You know, my experience is that encounters with the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Clause and so on significantly affect children’s world view. But they move on (most of the time). If I had to make a singular observation, it would be that a greater problem exists with perceptions of authority. But in this case, do you realize how silly it sounds to some of us (well at least to me) to blame your Primary teacher for the shortcomings in your religious education?”

    I don’t know any disaffected Mormons that blame their Primary teachers for the church’s deceptions. That’s a neat trick you’re trying to pull, there, Ben. What you’re essentially doing is trying to make us heretics look silly by underscoring this false notion that we’re a bunch of whiney miscreants that blame all of our problems on Mommy, Daddy, and Sister Valiant B. Teacher.

    Ben, the bottom line is that the church consciously and intentionally teaches a mythological/folklorical version of its founding history, and then asks people to accept it as literal or risk being labelled as a heretic. It’s like asking someone to believe that George Washington really chopped down a cherry tree, or else risk losing your U.S. citizenship. Or a historical science foundation that requires its members to sign a statement saying that Sir Isaac Newton really came up with his gravitational epiphany from an apple bonking him on the head.

    It’s unfair and unethical to intentionally teach myths to people and ask them to believe them literally or else be labelled a heretic. The church might not formally punish such heretics, but they succeed in many cases at making their lives a living hell by fostering an environment of intolerance among the Mormon rank-and-file.

    “What are the qualifications of being a Primary Teacher? Does the interview include questions about a knowledge of church history? Is the purpose of Primary classes to teach history? And yet, for Lunar Quaker, there is something dishonest in what most (if not all) primary teachers do in their callings. I don’t know if I accept this presentation. It seems to me to be an easy way of placing blame.”

    Ben, it’s not the Primary teacher that’s to blame for teaching myths. Besides, even if the Primary teacher knows the truth, they won’t teach it. If the kiddoes go home and tell Mommy and Daddy that Sister Valiant B. Teacher told them that Joseph put a peepstone in a hat to translate the Book of Mormon, they would likely get complaints and be released in a blink of an eye. There’s nothing in what I wrote that even remotely suggests that Primary teachers, Sunday School teachers, or seminary teachers are to blame. They have to teach the correlated myths or risk negative repurcussions. It should be obvious that it’s the general church leadership that’s to blame.

    “The only difference between Santa Clause and the peep stone is one of significance. That is, it is because an individual places far more significance on a specific belief set about events which occured that it becomes different. It isn’t about being taught something incorrect as a child. It isn’t about being taught something incorrect from an authority figure.”

    I have no clue what you are trying to say here. If I am understanding you correctly, then you are saying that the feeling of being deceived by someone you trust is more significant than merely being deceived. That’s true.

    “Does prayer and personal confirmation not matter anymore, now that the primary teacher has said it? Or the Gospel Doctrine instructor? Or the Bishop? Or the Stake President? Or the Prophet? What level of control do you think the church should exert?”

    Let’s see, how would such a prayer go? Maybe something like this:

    “Dear Heavenly Father, I am so grateful for the beautiful Spirit that I felt in my Sunday School lesson today. However, I just want to be sure that what my teacher told me is true. Could you please tell me if Joseph Smith really translated the Book of Mormon from the gold plates using the Urim and Thummim? **pause and wait for personal revelation** Oh, wow, Heavenly Father, thanks for clearing that up! Now I know that there were really no plates involved at all! I’m so grateful for personal revelation. I felt the Spirit so strongly in my class today, I might have been duped into thinking that what the Sunday School teacher was saying was literally true! Thank you, Heavenly Father. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

    “All of this is true. But, at the same time, I didn’t experience any of this as my beliefs about Mormonism developed. None of it. So you cannot claim that this is the natural conclusion of the changing of the worldview.”

    Some people may not suffer any negative consequences for admitting to themselves that the church teaches myths. Especially if they keep it to themselves. In other cases, it can bring about intense suffering, especially when they get labelled a heretic if their new beliefs create rifts in their families. A little compassion on your part would go a long way to helping you understand what some people go through.

  237. Lunar Quaker August 2, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    “Wow, Ben. Great quote. Where’d you get that?”

    Glad you like, it CraigBa.

  238. Equality August 2, 2006 at 12:37 pm

    Ben,

    I don’t have the text in front of me but I thought there was more to it than just the use of the phrase “eye of faith.” I believe there are also references from witness accounts of seeing with their “spiritual eyes.” First, the apologists (not you, Ben, but others here) say that the critics have failed to address the issue of the BOM witnesses. Then, the critics point out that references to where critics have addressed the BOM witnesses. Now, you take one phrase used by Palmer as support for his assertion that the witnesses did not see the plates with their physical eyes and you say that Palmer is redefining common 19th-century usage. Maybe, maybe not. The fact is that critics have raised a number of issues with the witness testimonies, including:
    1. The physical/spiritual eyes distinction
    2. The question of who wrote the testimony of 3 and testimony of witnesses in the BoM
    3. The realtionship of the witnesses to the Smith family
    4. The credibility of the witnesses given other statements they made about other events they allegedly witnessed
    5. The gullibility of some of the witnesses, some of whom followed James Stang and gave similar testimonies regarding the plates he found and translated
    6. Discrepancies in descriptions of the plates offered by the witnesses
    7. The selective use of witness statements (e.g., Mormons tout David Whitmer’s testimony of the BOM but not his later statements concerning Joseph Smith)
    8. The motives (psychological, financial, and other) of some of the witnesses.
    9. Etc.

    And to your point about “second sight.” I wonder, do you take the statements using similar langauge from the witnesses concerning the Cumorah Cave as literally as you take their statements on the Book of Mormon? If not, why not? Why is it OK for apologists to “spiritualize” the words of witnesses to the cave under Cumorah but not for Palmer to do the same for the statements on the Book of Mormon? For more on that particular issue, see the excellent entry at Lunar Quaker’s blog

  239. Lunar Quaker August 2, 2006 at 12:45 pm

    “see the excellent entry at Lunar Quaker’s blog”

    https://lunarquaker.blogspot.com/2006/07/farms-geographical-mitosis-and.html

  240. Ann August 2, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    Left, I agree with you that the original source of where you hear about problematic materials may matter to many people. I also think when you learn about it matters a lot.

    I’m a convert to the church, and I took the stories the missionaries told me at face value. “Translated” meant that God helped him convert the text from whatever language to English. I admit the Urim and Thummim thing puzzled me, but I kind of blew it off because I figured “translated” was straightforward enough.

    When I learned, after about fifteen years of buying the black and white primary version of the story hook, line, and sinker that the reality didn’t quite line up, I felt like I had been duped. “Translated” happens all the time in real life. “Put a rock in a hat, stick your face in the hat, and read the characters that appear there” doesn’t. It’s magic.

    I think you (and perhaps some of the apologists) don’t suffer some of the same losses that others of us experienced because you synthesized this information when you were young.

    I set aside my own faith for something I thought was truer. It turned out that the truth I learned wasn’t anything like the truth. I probably wouldn’t have been inclined to join the church if I’d been told that Joseph read the text of the Book of Mormon from the characters that appeared to him on a rock in a hat.

  241. Mayan Elephant August 2, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    “I probably wouldn’t have been inclined to join the church if I’d been told that Joseph read the text of the Book of Mormon from the characters that appeared to him on a rock in a hat.”

    BINGO.

    and that is why hatpeeping is not part of the missionary discussions. “Translated”, on the other hand, is part of the discussions.

    and i am not screaming conspiracy here, just pointing out the usefulness of the various stories and chosen semantics.

  242. Daniel Peterson August 2, 2006 at 5:26 pm

    On the literality of the experience of the Eight Witnesses, see Richard L. Anderson’s article entitled “Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses,” in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies:

    https://farms.byu.edu/publications/jbmsvolume.php?volume=14&number=1

    Professor Anderson is the author of, among other things, the classic Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses. Anybody who intends to comment seriously on the subject of the Witnesses should be familiar with his work.

  243. Left Field August 2, 2006 at 6:01 pm

    It seems to me that “translation” is the appropriate word for converting one language to another, regardless of whether you have the original written text in front of you. Doctrine and Covenants 7 can be appropriately termed a translation since John was obviously writing in a language other than English (“If English was good enough for the Apostle John, it’s good enough for me, by golly…”) The fact that Joseph didn’t have the parchment and was given the translation by revelation doesn’t make it any less a translation (acknowledging of course that not everyone will recognize the validity of the text, the parchment or the revelation). By the same token, Nephi and Mormon (assuming they existed) were not writing in English, so any English version of their writings would have to be a translation no matter how that translation was accomplished.

    The translation of the Book of Mormon (whether involving hat or breastplate) although a translation, seems very different from what occurs every day. Joseph’s translation was “by the gift and power of God,” and did not involve any intellectual knowledge of the original language. It also involved the use of stones (whether in a hat or attached to silver bows). As I read the historical and “official” accounts, I don’t really see that they imply an ordinary intellectual translation as opposed to a spiritual one. Your mileage may vary.

    I can certainly agree that translating from a stone is quite a different process from normal translation. I guess the my situation is different because I pretty much accepted from day one that the Book of Mormon was not translated by any ordinary means.

  244. Equality August 2, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    Thanks, Dan. I’ve read Anderson’s book and his article. Seems to me he doesn’t really address ALL the issues. And I must say the witnesses have never been all that impressive to me, even when I was an uber-faithful TBM sporting my CLD2SRV license plate. Of course, I never really cared whether Joseph used a rock in a hat or a set of ancient binocular thingys. The point is the church tells stories it knows are false, demands absolute adherence to those stories, says those stories are the bedrock of a testimony, hides the truth about what really went on, and then when people manage to discover the truth the church says, “oh, those things aren’t really important after all. Details shmetails.” It’s not about whether Joseph used a stone or whatever. It’s the fact that the church consistently portrays one (inaccurate) version of events, correlates away all competing (often more accurate) versions of events, and disciplines members of the church who dare express views considered too far out the nebulously defined mainstream of church doctrine. And then the apologists tell those members of the church who are offended by the church’s actions that the church doesn’t engage in hiding away historical documents, correlating away uncomfortable truths, and suppressing embarrassing teachings, practices, and historical events.

    This whole attitude from the apologetic crowd that all the stuff disaffected members cite as reasons for their disaffection are really not problematic at all, and that the problem lies only with the spiritual state of the disaffected individual is, I think, given the lie by a simple thought experiment. I ask you, if the issues raised by disaffected members are really not things the church doesn’t want discussed and isn’t suppressing, how about giving a sacrament meeting talk on: the true translation method for the Book of Mormon; the various First Vision accounts; the changes to the revelations from the Book of Commandments to the Doctrine and Covenants; Joseph’s polygamy, polyandry, juvegymy, and lying about the same; anachronisms in the Book of Abraham and the Book of Mormon (which, of course, can all be explained with Ostler’s Expansion Theory); the Mountain Meadows Massacre and Brigham Young’s participation in it; the changing Word of Wisdom; etc. I mean, if these really aren’t things that should give anyone in the church with a testimony any cause for concern, there wouldn’t be anything wrong with raising the issues in church, right? I mean, if they aren’t really embarrassing and the church has nothing to hide.

  245. Ann August 2, 2006 at 8:55 pm

    I also understood Joseph to have God’s help in the translation process. However, some early discussions and lessons in my membership emphasized the “study it out in your mind” episode with Oliver in the D&C. This probably cemented in my mind the English-Spanish interpretation of what “translate” meant.

  246. Steve EM August 3, 2006 at 12:30 am

    I can’t believe this is still going!

    While I concur with DKL’s beef against many LDS apologists, I find the objection too narrowly focused. My beef with apologists and antis alike is just the general lack of objectivity. It is so rare to hear something candid like “While I don’t share your position, you make a good point there……….and I need to research that more before I can respond.” or “Now, that is an evolving and problematic area for my side, but…….”. It’s the lack of objectivity and self challenge to the bias we all carry that leads most apologists and antis to say anything in support of their dogma, including irrelevant personal attacks that DKL rightly condemns.

    On the “translation” process I again find the antis nit picking. The general pattern in our church is orthodoxy cementing institutional errors (I refer to this as organizational orthodoxy always leading to apostasy). Normally that orthodoxy (our BKPs) would prevent correction of possible mistakes in understanding the English BofM origins, such as Smith always translating glyphs directly from plates. That general pattern is broken here, albeit at too slow a pace for some. It just seems there’s much more fertile ground for the antis elsewhere, and I don’t get the focus on the “hat thing”. On reason apologist Nibley looked so good was the antis of his day were so lame (For background, I’m no Nibley groupie).

    Perhaps I don’t get this harping on the hat thing because I don’t care about historicity vs. allegory. I don’t care if the setting is American, Malaysian or fictional. I reject fraud, because I read the BofM and believe, and you can’t argue with belief. I don’t care that JS apparently grossly misinterpreted the geographic scale of the book. He said it wasn’t his book; a big misinterpretation is consistent with that claim. I don’t care about one stone or two or the hat because, if Smith’s “translation” claim is valid, in the end he saw the English “translation” in his mind, not the stones. I wouldn’t expect a modern LDS Pres or me to see anything looking at those stones, nor do I believe there was actually anything there when Smith looked at them. But I believe much, if not all, of the BofM is a gift from G-d.

    The LDS church is much improved today, largely thanks to a call from Pres Benson for the church to take the BofM more seriously. The transition is far from complete, but more and more we are the faith-grace preaching church that I believe was originally intended, thanks to that renewed emphasis on “Smith’s” BofM. The self salvation LDS crowd is more and more a distant memory. Was a conservative political activist turned LDS church Pres also a closet theological radical? Or does divine inspiration and guidance still play in our day?

    Breathe deep and look at the big picture. It’s great for your blood pressure.

  247. Dave Sigmon August 3, 2006 at 5:54 am

    Steve EM –

    Your beliefs are entirely consistent with the Community of Christ Church (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and very similar to the direction Grant Palmer would like the church to move in. I do agree that it would be an improvement in the church if the church started downplaying the historicity of its scriptures.

    But, the problem is the LDS church today is orthodox. The leadership of the church will not permit one to pick and choose what one will believe. How many general conference talks say that the gospel is not like a buffet in which one can take what one likes and leave the rest. The leadership of the church emphasizes the all-or-nothing approach. “If the Book of Mormon is true and Joseph Smith is a true prophet then everything else is true”.

    If I wanted to pick only the inspirational passages out of the LDS scriptures, I could join the Unitarian Universalist who find inspiration in all religious traditions. I still quote scripture from time to time, not because I believe they are authoritative, but I do it in the same way that I might quote the words of Confuscious.

    Perhaps the church is starting to make room for people like you and I think that is good. You really seem like a New Order Mormon and don’t know it. Good luck my friend!

  248. Mayan Elephant August 3, 2006 at 1:14 pm

    First, Read this, from mormonstories.org:

    The Church leadership spends remarkably little time talking about any of the details of the founding story. However, the seer stone has been mentioned in the Church’s official magazine almost once a year for the past thirty-five years, and the stone and hat have been mentioned, and even discussed at length, in books from Deseret Book, FARMS, Bookcraft, and Covenant, and in numerous articles in such places as BYU Studies, Dialogue, Mormon Historical Studies, the Journal of Mormon History, BYU Studies, the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, the Journal of the John Whitmer Historical Association, Sunstone, the FARMS Review, and etc.

    -Daniel Peterson, July 31st, 2006

    Then read this:

    https://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=536

    which includes this:

    Orson Scott Card—described by Signature Books as a member of its original “impressive editorial board”17—has, like many others, become, if not deeply disillusioned, at least skeptical of the Signature agenda. He argues that “Signature is an anti-Mormon publisher that covers itself the way Playboy has traditionally covered its pornography, by publishing a few articles by serious writers in every issue.”18 He adds:

    By publishing a few books that meet standards of respectable scholarship on LDS topics, Signature gives the false impression that they are a “balanced” publisher, when in fact their unrelenting agenda is to publish books designed to shake the foundations of the Mormon religion. Their prey is the budding Mormon intellectual who takes pride in being smart and educated but does not yet have the critical skills to recognize manipulation and deception when they are masked in the forms of scholarship.19

    These observers have not felt the need to elaborate or to explain the meaning of the language they employed, perhaps because they all recognize that their readers will correctly understand what they seek to convey. It is likely that all these observers have correctly assumed that by describing Signature Books as “an anti-Mormon publisher” or a “renegade” publisher, or as being “liberal,” or as a “dissenting imprint,” or as “challeng[ing] . . . orthodoxy,” their meaning would be easily and correctly understood. In addition, these writers do not seem to have believed that, in the Latter-day Saint context, by using labels such as liberal to describe Signature Books or its owner’s ideology, they would imply some political rather than strictly religious orientation, or that the word activist would imply an engagement in partisan politics. It is also likely that these authors had in mind, among other things, something like the numerous books published by Signature Books that are either implicitly or explicitly critical of Joseph Smith’s prophetic truth claims, including those that attack the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon20 or set out radically revisionist accounts of the crucial historical foundations of the faith of the Saints.21

    Then finally, Go here for a laugh and to see who is publishing and distributing the sources Dan suggests:

    https://www.signaturebooks.com/periodic.htm#sun

    incredile irony that the Journal of Mormon History is edited by Lavina Fielding Anderson: (from wiki)

    a feminist writer who edited the books Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspective (1992), and Lucy’s Book the definitive edition of the Lucy Mack narrative, a former editor for the Ensign and the current editor for the Journal of Mormon History. She was excommunicated September 23.

    Anderson still attends LDS church services as a non-member. She continues to write on Mormon issues, including editing the multi-volume Case Reports of the Mormon Alliance, an ongoing collection of interviews with Mormons who believe they were unfairly disciplined by the Church

    Conclusion:

    Dan is right, there really is a conspiracy. The church leaders are conspiring to promote Signature Books by limiting relevent information to Signatures Publications. Somebody please pass the memo to Midgley

    Bottom line; if you want to know the truth, you are going to have to read it in Playboy.

  249. Equality August 3, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    “and in numerous articles in such places as BYU Studies, Dialogue, Mormon Historical Studies, the Journal of Mormon History, BYU Studies, the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, the Journal of the John Whitmer Historical Association, Sunstone, the FARMS Review, and etc.” Quote from DCP.

    Thanks, Mayan. I had missed this quote from Professor Brother Peterson. So, let me get this straight. On the details of church history, we are not to expect to hear from the prophets and apostles, who don’t really talk much about them. Instead, we should rely on what we read in publications like Dialogue, where Jerald and Sandra Tanner have been published in the past. This apologetic stuff makes my head spin.

  250. Ben McGuire August 4, 2006 at 9:33 am

    Mayan Elephant writes:

    “you and blake ostler alike. its interesting how little sympathy you show for the people that had that experience that lunar described, that are having it now, and will have it in the future.”

    I don’t deny your experience. I am not denying Lunar Quaker’s experience. What I am denying is that your experience is universal, or that it somehow deserves some special status. I am suggesting that your experience isn’t more valid than mine. Does this offend you? Do you want a pitty party? Are you willing to discuss (as much as your own disaffection with the church) the many members who go through the same process of discovery that you did and still find belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be rational and natural? What sort of sympathy do you want?

    Lunar Quaker wrote:

    “I don’t know any disaffected Mormons that blame their

    Primary teachers for the church’s deceptions.”

    Then read this thread. Mayan Elephant wrote:

    “it comes down to the realization that one has been allowed to believe something happened one way, with perpetual reinforcement of that belief. and then, learning that, uh oh, ohhhhhh boy, that one was sold snake oil, that in fact, it didnt happen the way my primary teacher said.”

    Then Enochville piped up:

    “I’d like to chime in here. Not only did the primary teacher say that Joseph used a urim and thummimum to translate the BoM, not a seer stone …”

    Mayan Elephant commenting on what Ann said, made this remark:

    ““I probably wouldn’t have been inclined to join the church if I’d been told that Joseph read the text of the Book of Mormon from the characters that appeared to him on a rock in a hat.”

    BINGO.

    and that is why hatpeeping is not part of the missionary discussions. “Translated”, on the other hand, is part of the discussions.

    and i am not screaming conspiracy here, just pointing out the usefulness of the various stories and chosen semantics.”

    See, this is something of a puzzle to me. Which part of an angel appearing and leading Joseph to the plates did you not accept? What was it about the mode of translation that made the angel less real? As Mayan Elephant points out, neither version is more unrealistic. Yet somehow one is less believeable than the other over this detail. Mind you, as I noted earlier, I know LDS today who have conveyed the fact that it would destroy their testimony if the rock in the hat could be proven. And my point is that there is already something horribly wrong with their testimony if that is the case. If it isn’t the rock in the hat that gets them, something else almost certainly will.

    And I enjoyed this (by Steve EM):

    “While I concur with DKL’s beef against many LDS apologists, I find the objection too narrowly focused. My beef with apologists and antis alike is just the general lack of objectivity.”

    And I suppose you are just the model of objectivity? What makes you think that objectivity in any form is even possible? What makes you think that every thought that you have isn’t shaped at the very least by the culture you were raised in and the language you were given? That language has already placed boundaries on what you can observe and what you can think. Objectivity is a myth promoted by those who want to ground meaning and to claim that there is some kind of absolute (and achievable) truth that we can arrive at. You cannot take yourself out of your reality.

    Ben

  251. Equality August 4, 2006 at 9:55 am

    Ben,

    I think you misunderstood LQ’s statement and the statements of others who wrote about what their primary teachers or the missionaries taught them. LQ said that he didn’t know anyone who blamed their primary teachers. Your quotes don’t refute that point. Mayan himself said he doesn’t blame the teachers but the church that provides them with the manuals and instructs them not to stray from what is in the manual. Is that distinction not clear? It is the church’s deliberate acts of deception, suppression, and discouragement of honest exploration over many years that it the object of the disaffected member’s scorn, not anyone’s primary teacher.

  252. Ben McGuire August 4, 2006 at 9:57 am

    Equality wrote:

    “And to your point about “second sight.” I wonder, do you take the statements using similar langauge from the witnesses concerning the Cumorah Cave as literally as you take their statements on the Book of Mormon? If not, why not? Why is it OK for apologists to “spiritualize” the words of witnesses to the cave under Cumorah but not for Palmer to do the same for the statements on the Book of Mormon? For more on that particular issue, see the excellent entry at Lunar Quaker’s blog”

    This is the problem. In defining this dichotomy – natural eyes versus spiritual eyes, we create an artifical distinction between these two terms. Yet, the common usage of these terms (also used by non-LDS in the early 19th century) does not display this intent, and the term isn’t used with the idea in mind that it is describing second-sight exclsuive of normal sight. These terms do not seem to have been considered synonyms in the rest of the early 19th century American environment. Which is to say that in using these terms, early LDS members were not attempting to sugges that “the eyes of our understanding” excluded seeing it with “natural eyes”, or that it meant “second sight” – it was meant to convey some other meaning entirely.

    I am suggesting is that Palmer has created a sense of a community within a community. In labeling certain people as sharing a magic world view, he has created a community. He then goes on to create definitions specific to that community. Like his suggestion that “eyes of our understanding” should be understood as “second sight” – a point which cannot be understood as applying to the larger community in which this smaller community exists – particularly since that larger community draws that phrase “eyes of our understanding” from the biblical text where this exclusionary understanding doesn’t occur. And in which these kinds of phrases used by the early LDS members are regularly used in religious literature and statements in ways that contradict Palmer’s suggestions.

    That is a significant problem. On top of this, how do we determine who shares this common magic world view? And do all of these others share this new technical usage that Palmer introduces?

    So getting back to your question – “do you take the statements using similar langauge from the witnesses concerning the Cumorah Cave as literally as you take their statements on the Book of Mormon?” My answer is, You bet. Now, what those statements mean (when understood literally) is open to discussion. I certainly reject the definition of those phrases that Palmer gives.

    Ben

  253. Ben McGuire August 4, 2006 at 10:00 am

    Equality writes:

    “I think you misunderstood LQ’s statement and the statements of others who wrote about what their primary teachers or the missionaries taught them. LQ said that he didn’t know anyone who blamed their primary teachers. Your quotes don’t refute that point. Mayan himself said he doesn’t blame the teachers but the church that provides them with the manuals and instructs them not to stray from what is in the manual. Is that distinction not clear? It is the church’s deliberate acts of deception, suppression, and discouragement of honest exploration over many years that it the object of the disaffected member’s scorn, not anyone’s primary teacher.”

    But yet, the primary teacher is the church. I think that your position is merely one of semantics (although mine may certainly be as well). I do not think that the church (of which primary teachers are a part) is engaged in a systematic process of supression and deception. You can claim that the church is. I do not believe that it is so.

    Ben

  254. Equality August 4, 2006 at 10:13 am

    Thanks for the clarifications, Ben. To be sure I understand you correctly, are you saying you disagree with the FARMS paper on the Cumorah Cave (i.e., that the testimony of those who saw the cave did not necessarily see a real physical cave but a visionary one)?

    On the other issue, of course my use of the phrase “deliberate acts of deception, suppression,” etc. was a description of an opinion held by some diaffected members and I do not expect that you would hold the same opinion. When I (and I think when many disaffected members) use the term “church” as in “The church ought to …” or “the church ought not . . .” or “The church does x . . .” we are referring to the church leadership and those in positions of power and authority. A primary teacher is a cog in the machine and when levying a criticism at the church I don’t think most folks have in mind all of the people operating at all of the levels in most contexts. And I think in this context, it is clear that LQ and mayan are referring to the church leaders as bearing responsibility for what has been taught regarding church history and not their primary teachers.

    Respectfully yours,

    Equality

  255. Mayan Elephant August 4, 2006 at 11:13 am

    yeah ben, what equality said. i dont blame the primary teachers, more than anything, i empathise with them.

    hey, all that natural eyes, spiritual eyes, 19th century, biblical phrase, dreamscape stuff makes me dizzy.

    let me settle this for everyone: there is no cave under cumorah. there never has been. there never will be. and anyone who said they saw a cave under cumorah is a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .[if that’s you, and] if you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire, …… i am all for imagination. but lets not spin this into something silly and blame the neighborhood for creating a community of dreamers and liars. it was just a dream and imaginary schtick. we can dismiss it outright, thats quite ok.

    i sure find it strange and in some ways sad, when all this pretzeling twists of logic and semantics are projected onto someones god. i cant imagine playing all these headgame tricks on my kids. i surely cant picture an omnipotent god doing that to his kids while hanging the eternal carrot in front of them.

  256. Clark Goble August 4, 2006 at 12:39 pm

    I know of at least one cave in Cumorah although it’s debatable about when it was created. (Many suspect it was made during prohibition)

  257. Steve EM August 5, 2006 at 8:02 pm

    Ben,
    You can’t be serious. I addressed what I meant by objectivity. It’s a self challenge to the bias we all carry. It’s an ideal like perfection, freedom, the pursuit of happiness. It’s something to be approached, not achieved. Under your notion, mankind would have never progress beyond arithmetic as most of the working methods in mathematics are built on such unreachable ideals. So the next time I calculate how much hollow glass microspheres my factory needs to compound into a given density resin, I’ll have to warn them, that it might not work this time because Ben says the methodology is all based on myth.

  258. wkempton January 24, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    I’m still waiting for Mr. Peterson to respond…

  259. Raymax April 24, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    I was born a Roman Catholic, served on the Roman catholic church, have deep beliefs on their teachings. For the past 2 years, I have been investigating the Mormon since it aroused my interest. I have read the Mormon bible, Pearl of Great Price and the LDS doctrines. Since I was intrigued by there beliefs, I tried to diversify my investigation by also reading the history of Muslim religion and the Roman catholic. What surprises me is that the three religions have common grounds>>> that is they were founded by a man whom God talked or communicated to. Muhammed was approach by an angel and God spoked to him “recite, recite”, hence the birth of Muslim; as with Paul, he was walking to Damascus and heard God talking to him” Saul, why have you persecuted me” — hence the birth of Christianity… Paul was the most intelligent and well spoken of the other apostles; with the Mormons, Joseph Smith , God and Jesus appeared to him to advise him of the golden tablet >> hence, the birth of Mormons. Overall, all these religions teaches good things and the bottom line is it really doesn’t matter what religion you are in as long as you live a Christ-like life. As for others who espouses fear, bless our soul:) Live life!!!

  260. Tim Mason May 1, 2007 at 12:37 am

    I was disappointed that they went to so many people other than LDS Leaders to talk about doctrines and beliefs of the LDS church. They decide to interview journalists, ‘former’ (disgruntled) LDS Teachers (members), and various other historians, but only a few times during the program were members/leaders of the church quoted or interviewed. Do they want the documentary to teach people about the true history of the church (not someone’s interpretation of it), or are they only fueling the fire for more anti-Mormons to come out the woodwork and spread their hatred toward the LDS church as a whole? If they made a documentary about the Buddhist religion (for example), would they go to every Tom, Dick and Harry’s ‘interpretation’ of the Buddhist religion for their information, or would they go to the leaders of the Buddhist Church/Religion to get their facts straight? How should members of the Buddhist church feel then when only 25-35% of the information in the documentary is true about their religion, and the rest of it is just people’s opinions regarding the church’s beliefs? Why then, should members of the LDS church feel any differently after a documentary like this is made?

  261. RJS May 1, 2007 at 12:51 am

    It truly was a “hatchet job” on mormonism. LDS Leaders were rarely included in the interviews, and those who were interviewed gave interpretations and opinions that suited their personal agendas rather than give fact. In fact, their was more screen time given to “Fundamentalists” than the actual leaders of the LDS church. What was that all about?” If you want to make a documentary of the church, your star interviews shouldn’t consist of former members with a grudge against the church. Well, I already had a chance to vent when I sent feedback to PBS. I recommend anybody else who was disturbed and disgusted by this “documentary” to do the same at the PBS website.

  262. truth1113 May 3, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Were there any facts presented that you dispute or are you just unhappy to learn the truth about your church? I’ll tell you exactly why they interview ex-mormons.
    1. They typically know much more about the mormon church (and the history of the mormon church) than the average mormon. That’s why they are ex-mormons.
    2. They are free to discuss the true history of the mormon church without having to worry about how they will be punished.
    3. Some have been through ridiculous judgement/church court scenarios that are interesting, creepy, and typically not talked about by current mormons.
    Obviously the piece was fair and unbiased – because many non-mormons think it was too positive and many mormons thought it was too negative. I think they got it right on. The history of the mormon church is crazy, making it very difficult for rational people (who are able to look at these facts objectively, which most lifetime mormons are not due to their faith) to believe it is the only true church. But, modern day mormons are, in general, good people that help others. What part of the documentary was not accurate?

  263. Equality May 3, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    “LDS Leaders were rarely included in the interviews, and those who were interviewed gave interpretations and opinions that suited their personal agendas rather than give fact.”

    I agree with you, RJS: when the LDS Leaders were interviewed, they did indeed give interpretations and opinions that suited their personal agendas rather than give fact.

  264. CPratt May 8, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    I happened upon your website, and I am very interested in each of your stories. I am curious about what type of religious faith each of you have joined since you left the Mormon church? What influenced each of your decisions? Do Mormon guidelines such as the Word of Wisdom still influence your decisions?

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