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TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 2
Tal Bachman is an internationally recognized singer-songwriter from Vancouver, Canada. Raised strictly in the Mormon church, Tal spent two years in South America performing missionary work and learning Spanish. Later, Tal resigned his membership in the LDS Corporation.
| RE: Richard Turley regarding polygamy (this is from the official church website's "newsroom" section).
"It's important for today's observers to understand that leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints DO NOT APOLOGIZE for the historical practice of plural marriage," Turley says. "It is viewed as a commandment of God for that period of time. Now that the commandment is no longer in force, Church leaders speak out against the practice."
These are a few things I think don't work about Turley's comment, and about the church's handling of this issue.
I think we're all pretty clear that the church hasn't "apologized" for plural marriage. When has it apologized for ANYTHING? They haven't even apologized, that I know of, for the Mountain Meadows Massacre. In fact, John D. Lee was re-baptized and his endowments reactivated posthumously while D. O. McKay was president. If anything, it has effectively endorsed the MMM.
There haven't been any direct apologies for the early racism, nothing. Of course there's no apology. Joseph Smith gave every indication of being nearly incapable of taking responsibility for anything he said or did and was extremely sensitive to criticism. He even called all those saying he had plural wives "perjurers", which of course was the exact opposite of the truth. The church, unfortunately, seems to have inherited these tendencies.
One problem with Turley's statement is that the church is revising out of existence in a number of areas any reference to a doctrine which was described for decades by sitting church presidents as ESSENTIAL to exaltation, the eternal law of heaven, as much a part of the gospel as baptism or the endowment. WHY, if it is what the church's own scriptures say it is? Even if God has currently suspended the practice, why shouldn't the church follow the pronounements of its prophets - and DandC 132 - by proclaiming it unashamedly as an immutable (just currently suspended) heavenly principle of righteousness, explaining it to all the world in order to prepare everyone for its reinstitution (as prophesied), get us all ready for a way of life that is practiced by God himself, and that will one day ennoble all those who follow it, etc.?
If the church actually cared more about what it demands everyone else believe is true than it does about public relations ("becoming popular"), then I suggest this is what we would see. And yet, we don't see it. What else am I supposed to infer from this fact? How is anyone supposed to take seriously the injunction to follow Paul in "not being ashamed of the gospel of Christ", when the church over and over again behaves EXACTLY like it would if in fact it was very much ashamed of what was formerly core components of its own theology?
WHY - if Jesus himself really dictated section 132, and not Joseph - isn't the church lobbying for the legalization of polygamy, since it can only be considered "A MORAL ISSUE" - absolutely as pressing as the banning of gay marriages? Why doesn't someone ask Richard Turley that? If the church is what it claims, the repeated statements of church presidents and DandC 132 MUST be credited; and if so, where is the lobbying effort?
We are left being asked to believe that gay marriage is a moral issue of such import that the church has to try to stamp it out at every turn; and yet, that plural marriage ISN'T an issue of enough moral import (despite all the prophetic pronouncements and scriptures) to even warrant ACKNOWLEDGING, let alone starting lobbying efforts as was done on gay marriage! It's more and more being left unacknowledged, even to Orwellian proportions of historical revisionism. In church films! In missionary discussions about celestial marriage! In Sunday School manuals! In the dialogue at the Beehive house! Downplayed in interviews! It's unbelievable! Is THAT what we would expect to see if Gordon B. Hinckley REALLY believed that Jesus Christ himself - the embodiment of all perfection in the universe - dictated section 132?! COME ON! lol It's unreal!
The church asks its members to keep believing that plural marriage is everything it was made out to be, while the church itself is acting EXACTLY like it would, if it didn't. Nuts.
These guys wet their pants over some proposed change to Utah's byzantine liquor laws or betting regulations, and then, when it comes to the "holy" practice which by many accounts now might even pass judicial review as a constitutionally protected "lifestyle choice", all they do is give tacit support to the descendants of polygamous families sitting in law enforcement positions to go after them. Will the absurdities never cease?
In almost every case, these PR announcements seem to skirt what is really at issue, and only make it more and more painfully clear that whatever else it might be, the church cannot possibly be anything like what it claims to be. It's amazing they don't seem to see it.
| AP - Salt Lake City
Richard Turley, spokesman for Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, today announced the imminent release of a new anti-depressant developed by researchers at Huntsman Chemical on behalf of the church. The drug, called LatterDaze, will be available by October 2005 through Mormon bishoprics. Mormon women will be encouraged to switch to the church-distributed drug as soon as their current prescriptions for other so-called "Gentile-brand AD's" expire. Projected per pill cost for LatterDaze is $18.
"Initially we had a hard time with the FDA trials", noted Turley. "People who were obviously anti-Mormons within the FDA refused to conduct the trials as the Lord directed they should be conducted - on active Mormon women only, since it is only they who will be given the drug. But after Senators Hatch and Bennett got involved at our request, the trials got back on track. We are pleased to report a near 100% success rate".
LatterDaze reportedly induces a state in which the female subject will cease speaking, smile perpetually, and strictly obey all instructions given by what Huntsman researcher LeRay G. Jensen calls her "controller".
"In most cases, husbands will be the 'controllers'", said Jensen. "The drug is designed to produce an almost immediate addiction, as well as a Stockholm Syndrome-like affection for the distributor of the drug, or 'controller'. This is why women will have access to the drug only through their husbands, kind of like they only have access to the celestial kingdom through them."
Jensen explained that the drug may be obtained by the request of a husband to the couple's bishop. "We look forward to a whole new era of Mormon female", said Jensen.
Spokesman Turley added, "we are already hearing the hue and cry about 'Stepford' this and 'Stepford' that; but we answered this objection long ago. Mormon women have their free agency, and always have, the end". Asked how a woman who is convinced she has a religious obligation on penalty of damnation to take LatterDaze may really be said to possess free agency, Turley responded, "I don't want to debate theology with you. The fact of the matter is, the church's enemies never miss an opportunity to take everything out of context and make the church look bad. The fact is, Mormon women have free agency, whether they're on drugs or not. The end".
In response to the allegation that the high rate of anti-depressant usage among Mormon women is in some way connected to Mormonism itself, Turley said, "nothing could be further from the truth. Our whole religion is about happiness. There the matter should rest for the church's enemies".
When asked how that answered the allegation, Turley refused to comment. "I think I already said that there the matter should rest".
In an apparently related story, rumours are beginning to emerge from sources at the church's office building that 2006 lesson manuals will contain a new "emphasis" on the eternal and indispensable nature of polygamy.
| After ingesting half a bottle of Tums, I took a chance on zipping over to the FARMS website to see what the latest from the church's best and brightest was. The first - and only - thing I read was what purports to be a review of Richard Abanes' "One Nation Under Gods" in a recent FARMS review. I really recommend that lurkers, trying to make sense of whether the church is really a fraud or not, read Abanes' book, and then read the church's attempted torpedoing of it.
Readers can read the review here: http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?tabl...
They can order Abanes' book here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1568...
Otherwise, you can probably find it at your local Barnes and Noble or Borders.
This "review" of Abanes' book focuses on two "problems": that Abanes takes quotes "out of context" in seeking to establish that Joseph Smith was, physically, sometimes violent and bully-like; and that Abanes asserts that early Mormons viewed Joseph's characters as being "on a par" with that of Jesus Christ. In supporting these complaints, FARMS author Michael Reed describes the misuse of anecdotes describing Joseph's fondness for "strong man" contests of the day, such as stick-pulling. He also lists a number of quotations from Joseph and others acknowledging that Joseph was in fact, not perfect, as Jesus was reputed to be.
I think there is a number of reasons why some people would regard this review as fairly lame. Here are a few.
Number one, Abanes' book constitutes a full-on broadside against Mormon claims that Joseph Smith was a man who told the truth about his "experiences" (the homicidal polygamy-enforcing angels, etc.), was a prophet, and that the Mormon church is the only "true", divinely authorized church on earth. To make the case for the fraudulent nature of Mormonism, Abanes surveys a vast body of historical research, the main facts of which I doubt would be disputed by even most Mormon historians, at least in private.
That a review of a book like this, published in a church-funded organ, could focus only on two issues of such relatively small importance will strike some readers as perhaps disturbing in and of itself. It is reminiscent of Johnny Cochrane focusing on the size of a leather glove in the OJ case, when there is a vast body of evidence which points directly to the guilt of his client. In the case of the borderline-retarded OJ jury, this tactic worked; the question is, for normal humans wishing to find out if their lives are based on a fraud or not, will similar tactics also work? I'm not so sure. At the least, this kind of garbage from FARMS seems to betray a fairly low regard for the intelligence of FARMS readers.
Besides, what Reed doesn't really take up in the midst of his complaints about Abanes' supposed error is this: Despite whatever mistakes Abanes has made in aligning his evidences, was Joseph Smith, in reality, something of a bully, physically? Did he have a temper? Did he get in fights?
Even the most superficial familiarity with Mormon history will provoke questions about Reed's handling of this issue, for the simple reason that Joseph of course did get into quite a few fights, and most definitely was not averse to physically bullying others. All my books are packed up at the moment, but just off the top of my head, he once got into a knock-down, drag out punch-up with his own brother William. (I think, actually, that it was during this fight that William finally blurted that if Joseph didn't stop, he would reveal "where the golden plates actually came from", after which Joseph desisted - but I can't remember for sure.)
Another case comes to mind, described in one of the anecdotes in Deseret Book's "They Knew The Prophet", of Joseph punching out a guy who was rude to one his waitresses (secret lovers?) at the Mansion House, and then throwing him into the street.
Another one that comes to mind is the big freaking bulldog that Joseph kept with him, I think on Zion's Camp, which kept biting guys. When one of the men (Sylvester?) complained too hard about Joseph's psycho dog, Joseph threatened to beat him up if he laid a hand on the beast.
And what about the time that Joseph, supposedly jokingly, broke a guy's leg (or arm)? Might have been Benjamin F. Johnson. That's also in "They Knew the Prophet". Does anyone have any idea how hard it is to break another guy's leg?
Add to this Joseph's fondness for "wrestling matches", and the boasting which inevitably followed any victory, and all the "strong man" competitions he loved - the Indian leg wrestling, the stick-pulling, etc.; PLUS, the truly defamatory and insulting language that emanated from his mouth whenever anyone dared challenge his status, no matter how true their comments were (see, e.g., the speech in which he labels Wm. Law a "perjurer" for alleging that Joseph had more than one wife), PLUS his apparent habit of issuing threats to "blacken the character" of women who refused his clandestine offers of sex (Sarah Pratt);
PLUS, the REALITY that his goons ended up doing just that to Nancy Rigdon; PLUS the reality that his little Danite vigilante band swore an oath to do the prophet's bidding whether he was "right or wrong", after which Hosea Stout nearly killed a guy in Nauvoo, Porter Rockwell sought to kill Lilburn Boggs, after which Joseph literally feted him, etc., etc.
PLUS, the fact that Joseph puts into section 132 that his wife will be "DESTROYED" if she dares oppose his ongoing acquisition of virgin sexual conquests ; plus the fact that Joseph scares girls (even married women) into having sex with him by saying that if they refuse his offer, their exaltation may be in jeopardy; PLUS, the fact that at least in one case (Martha Brotherton's), Joseph LOCKED HER IN A ROOM until she would consent!
PLUS the fact that Joseph, in deliberate violation of his own church's procedures, secretly excommunicated William Law, etc., etc., etc., and you inevitably emerge with a picture of Joseph as very much a bully, physical and otherwise.
And indeed, I might even say that that legacy continues on in the sometimes truly shameful bullying tactics employed by church apologetic writers, the thrust of which is to silence anyone who would dare threaten their ability to keep believing in their favourite bully's increasingly exposed lies. Character assassination, and the slyest of insinuations, is no problem for these defenders of Christ's true faith. They're just kind of keeping the bully Joseph's legacy alive.
Reed's criticisms of Abanes would be more effective if he acknowledged that there is very good reason to believe that Joseph Smith in fact was a man who often had difficulty controlling his emotions (he was quick to tears, often quick to anger [was it Parley who said that challenges to his authority would 'rouse the lion in him at once'?], quick to laugh, quick to fall besotted with other pretty girls, etc.); and further, that there is overwhelming reason to believe that Joseph was a bully at times. A better defense would be to take the "so what?" approach - not hope that FARMS readers are as dumb as OJ jurors, and they don't know about Joseph's history of employing physical intimidation, scare tactics, and character assassination to "keep the thing going".
And about the "character of Jesus" thing. Who was it that said they had more to boast about than even Jesus? It was none other than Joseph Smith himself. Does Reed acknowledge this? Of course not. In true spiritual Stalinism fashion, that little item apparently has been erased from the past. ("It just wouldn't do to be upfront about these issues, when an accusation that Abanes is a liar will suffice for all of our retarded subscribers, would it?").
It is certainly possible to find many excuses for Joseph's often sociopathic behaviour from early members, and acknowledgements that he wasn't perfect. It is also possible to find about the same number of starstruck confessions of adoration from those early members. Remember, these are guys who thought Joseph was so incapable of error, that they didn't doubt but that Joseph really HAD to have sex with their WIVES AND DAUGHTERS or else he'd be killed by a homicidal angel! Come on! That Reed doesn't really put this thing into perspective brings his own credibility into far more question than his own comments do to Abanes'.
I mentioned "They Knew the Prophet" above; a quick tour through that book will reveal dozens of breathless descriptions of "the man who communed with Jehovah", ones that most people on this planet would view as betraying nothing short of an almost animal awe.
I mean, to view thing more broadly just for a second, how many other self-styled Christian churches include in their congregational hymnbooks, so many (or any) hymns praising their religion's founder? Really? Why doesn't Michael Reed answer that one? Right next to a hymn praising Jesus, is a hymn praising Joseph Smith. Outside in the hallway, right next to the painting of Jesus, is a painting of Joseph. In the Ensign, right next to the article on Jesus, is the article on L. Ron, I mean, Joseph. In the church magazine two Decembers ago, there was an entire article saying, "Just because in December we celebrate the birth of Jesus, doesn't mean that we should forget that December was also the month Joseph Smith was born in", and then listed a whole bunch of quotes in praise to the man. Now the church has a website devoted entirely to Joseph Smith - but NONE devoted to Jesus.
I mean, this is the thing with Reed - OF COURSE he can find quotes from members that admit that Joseph wasn't perfect. You could hardly not find them when the guy bankrupted so many of them and got caught even then in so many lies. But at the same time, then as now, the whole gaze of Mormondom falls nearly as much on Joseph as it does on Jesus; and if the truth be told, in many cases, more so. So Reed's comments in a way seem like petty, almost disingenuous, quibbling. The reality is, you can still walk into a Mormon sacrament meeting anywhere on this planet, and hear a lot more about Joseph Smith and his literary productions than you do about Jesus's sacrifice. And the same is true for EQ meetings, GD meetings, Youth Conferences, firesides, and RS meetings.
It is sobering, when first beginning to wonder if we have been had, to read through Mormon apologetic literature; and I continue to have every reason to believe that the many hundreds of people who have now concluded the church is a fraud are telling the truth when they say that the lameness, and seeming disingenuity, of so much church apologetic writing, is what helped convince them more than anything that something was wrong once they began researching in earnest. Certainly that was true in my own case - the church stuff was even scarier than the skeptical stuff, since it only made it clear that in the end, there really wasn't any answer, other than fraud.
When my cousin, another guy who risked his life a number of times for the church on his mission to New York South, began wondering as well, it was garbage from guys like Millett and Joseph Fielding McConkie which really started to do him in. Those lurkers still in the throes of delusion may attribute this to a "loss of the spirit"; but the reality is, that not even Gordon B. Hinckley himself can offer any kind of coherent defense of Mormonism, and he has proven that time and time again. Not that I fault him for it, for how can anyone defend the indefensible? How can anyone turn a conscienceless, sex-addled, megalomaniac rogue into a Christian man of God? How can anyone, no matter with how many degrees, make "A" equal "not A"? It's just not possible. No amount of character assassinations will do it. You just can't make lies into truths. Reality, despite all our efforts as Mormons, just can't be overcome.
| || Formal Invitation To All Exmos, To The First Ever "Tal Bachman Cult Classic Softball Tourney And Dinner", This Sunday |
Saturday, Aug 6, 2005, at 08:20 AM
Original Author(s): Tal Bachman
Topic: TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 2 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Tired of the mystery, my friends?
Still wondering whether a mentally ill-equipped ex-cult member musician could possibly schedule the first ever "Cult Classic Softball Tourney"?
Well, wonder no more! The angel Quintina appeared to me with a flaming sword, and threatened to kill me if I didn't actually bring this thing home, just like that angel threatened to kill Joseph if he didn't have sex with his friends' wives and daughters. So here it is:
An INFORMAL softball game, hosted by moi and Kelly Jean, will be held at 4 PM at the park (I think it's called Griffith Park) adjacent to Kelly Jean's house, THIS SUNDAY, August 7th. You will have to email Kelly Jean at SABLA@aol.com to get her address and the instructions to get there. ("We desire all to receive it. All arise. Shout Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!".) Please come and play in my first ever Cult Classic Softball Tourney; don't be intimidated if you don't really know what you're doing. Just bring a mitt and let's have fun (please, someone local bring a bat!).
After the game, we'll be revving up the barbecue at KJ's house and hanging till whenever.
NOTE: This is REPLACING my original idea of meeting at Houston's that night. Sorry for the confusion. I only just found out I was going down there to LA, and only just got the idea for the Cult Classic, etc. Next year I will get it majorly organized well ahead of time. (I'm going to invite the ex-J Dubs, ex-Moonies, and ex-Scientologists to come for a round robin tournament against us next year). But this year, it'll just be us.
I'm looking forward to getting off this %and*$# remote island I live on, and actually meeting a bunch of you in person. (Thank you Kelly Jean for volunteering your place!).
See you on Sunday,
| Mormonism is, in the end, a death cult.
Now, just before all you TBM lurkers start feeling pride at being so unique and "peculiar" (in the Petrine sense), or glorying in "persecution", I ought to point out that there is nothing unique about any genuine cult being a death cult, for in the name of life, every single one of them ends up worshipping death in their own way: Islam, Nazism, the J Dubs, the Jonestown people, the Solar Temple people, the Heaven's Gate people, the Mormons, all of them. I might say that if anything is sacred, life is, and therefore, all of those cults constitute the ultimate in blasphemy, Mormonism not excepted.
That Mormonism is a death cult in the end is true in many senses, broad and specific. For example, the ultimate sacrament ritual, symbolized by the partaking of the bread and water, is the sacrifice of Christ's body as a means of uniting all (worthy) humankind together, and humankind with God. And as Paul makes clear (in an almost gleeful kind of way), each human being must re-enact Christ's sacrifice not just through taking the bread and water, but through the annihilation of his/her own humanity, that is, the "crucifixion of their own flesh" (see, e.g., Galatians 5, Romans 6, etc.). While Mormonism seeks to sidestep the blatantly macabre aspects of the Catholic focus on crucifixion and death by cheerily offering up glib slogans about worshipping the “risen” Christ versus the slain Christ and refusing to place crosses on its churches, at its core it posits the same things as Catholicism and all Christianity does: there was once a golden age of innocence and virtue - the human race fell - it is only through the human sacrifice/deicide of Jesus of Nazareth that we can begin to overcome natural filthiness.
But Joseph’s cult, as in so many other ways, takes this to a whole new level of weirdness and invidiousness. We have as Mormons the obligation of murdering all those parts of our humanity which can’t in the end squeeze into the church’s unusually constricting mould of the “ideal” male and female. In other words, cult righteousness equals de-humanization. The “natural man is an enemy to God”. Feminists must become Mollies. “Los machos” must give up the motorcycle tours, Metallica, and Maxim magazine, and Ned Flanderize themselves. Those with some sense of autonomy must overcome their “rebelliousness” and submit every last aspect of their lives to priesthood “authority”. Homosexuals must become heterosexuals, or at least, are required to spend their lives killing off what now appears to be an innate proclivity. Males and females who would rather remain childless must overcome this “wicked tendency”, and reproduce. Those who see wisdom in waiting to marry, see wrongly - they must marry when they are young. Theydon’t know what is best for them.
Social liberals must become social conservatives. Those women who think they might be more attractive with two earrings in an ear, those men who fancy tattoos, must not indulge themselves. We must kill off our own tastes, our own innate predispositions, our own feelings and longings and ambitions and dreams and conclusions - our own conscience - everything that makes us the miracles we are. Each one of us is a “self” - and we must kill off that self. We must turn ourselves into fodder for the machine, just to keep it going. In a cult, no one is an end in and of his/herself. No one is a "fellow human being, period" - we are all means, means to some end. We are not humans to be loved and embraced just as we are; we are “people who have yet to achieve what they should”. Evaluation of how far we have, and everyone else has to go to achieve whatever end we imagine each should be achieving, then becomes the prism through which all social life is experienced. In allowing this, we cut ourselves from the ability to feel that “philanthropos”, or brotherly/sisterly love, which was what the whole cult was supposed to be about in the first place. But they never are in the end about that, because they are all frauds. In the end, they are about the destruction of all that could be considered humanity, since the realization of the selfish ambitions and stupid delusions of the cult leader is completely incompatible with the existence of humanity, with the preservation of human nature. Humanity must be annihilated.
Once I longed to be a martyr for the church (in Argentina, on my mission). When that didn’t pan out and I returned home, I myself undertook to effect just that demolition of my own uniqueness and character in its service. I hardened myself against embarrassment when asked in public about polygamy or temple garments or man’s eventual deification. I censored my thoughts, my words, my own feelings. I read the Heber C. Kimball and Jedediah Grant sermons in which they proclaimed proudly that they loved the prophet more than they had ever loved any of their wives. They announced that any wife of theirs who would disobey the prophet would be ejected from their families. I knew that was where my own devotion to the church had to be. I had taken a vow of consecration; I had to be willing to sacrifice anything - all my money, my children, my wife, my life - for the cult. And guess what? I made it, to a surprising degree. I myself, just as all others have, became the happy agent of the destruction of my own humanity. So, my children weren’t “my children” so much as they were “future priesthood holders”, “future Eagle scouts”, “future missionaries”, “future married-in-the-temple people”, etc. They were everything but what they themselves, through the miraculous course of nature, were: unique, breathtakingly complex wonders of creation, valuable in their own right, HUMAN BEINGS whose worth had NO tie to their future “progress” within some sterile, sicko sect piggybacking on to Christianity while demonizing every other manifestation of it in its founding documents. When I looked at my children, I saw them in a way as expressions of my own ego. They would not fail. They would become righteous Mormons. That to a large degree was why I loved them. They were means to the end of me ultimately believing that I'd been a fantastic father, evidenced by my children having become just as much slaves to the thing as I had become.
Light outside the cult illuminates, in the most flattering way, all those cliches we used to laugh at so much, or in some cases, used to Mormonize. “Each one of us is a miracle”, “Everyone is special”, “All we have is each other”, “Love makes the world go round”, even lifetime criminal Rodney King’s much-mocked question: “Why can’t we all just get along?”. That now seems like the greatest question ever asked, and one we probably ought to be searching out an answer for. (And no, the answer is not, “because we are not all Mormon, or Jehovah’s Witness, or Muslim”, etc.). Questions like “How do we get John and Mary to better serve the church?” (that is, “how do we get them to more fully annihilate their natures so as to further the ends of my cult?”) have now, deo gratias, been replaced by questions which do NOT rest on the completely fallacious assumptions of cult fanatisicm (like the infinite malleability of human nature, absolute knowledge via feelings, the solution for all life’s problems is global conversionto Mormonism, etc.).
Once we begin to see that, really, all we do have is each other, and that the ceiling of our own mortal consciousness prohibits clear answers about the purpose of life, who or what might be running the universe, etc., we begin to ask questions like, “How can we live so as to get along better with each other? How do we best alleviate suffering? How do we most effectively bless the lives of our fellow human beings? How can I help leave the world a better place than I found it?”. What is so peculiar now is that it is precisely THOSE questions which yield the best chance of leading to answers which will truly help life to flourish, to be lived to its full potential. It is the insatiable demands and mean, cheap, petty questions of cults based on claims which have NO evidence to support them, like those of Mormonism, which seem to do the most damage to life.
How can that be? In the name of life, they destroy life; in the name of the ideal, they grind you up, and then leave you behind like so much dross. And God help you if you ever reveal that you have come to believe that the Mormon project is misguided, and based on Joseph’s original deceptions. Daniel Peterson has devoted his entire life to the church. What would happen if he ever expressed doubt? His fellow colleagues would first express “sadness”, and then go about the job of smearing his character, metaphorically killing him. They'd have to, to keep themselves in that psychological state upon which we grew so dependent. It wouldn't matter if he was right - in fact, the more correct he was, the more vicious the attacks would be.
In the end, the church doesn’t care about any life except its own. It views as its mortal foe every aspect of humanity which it cannot control. In fact, in this sense, the entire cosmos, the whole structure of reality, is “anti-Mormon” (since Mormonism is out of alignment with what it purports to be synonymous with: truth and reality) and so we should cease to be surprised when the church murders historical facts for Joseph, as it does on its new website, murders archaeological and genetic and linguistic facts for the Book of Mormon, murders - through all the anti-depressant prescriptions handed out by LDS Social Service headshrinkers - the conscience of women who keep sensing there is something wrong, or who acknowledge to themselves that they are miserable, etc., etc.
And of course, in the end, it doesn’t even really care at all when its missionaries are literally murdered for it. The church ignored the many death threats issued by Bolivian terrorists against Mormon missionaries; it ignored the bombs left at La Paz chapels; it ignored the firebombing; and left the missionaries there in La Paz. Then, after the assassination of Elders Ball and Wilson, the church left its missionaries there just the same as always, just as they had after the warnings started coming in. And Hinckley went to Wilson’s funeral, once his bullet-riddled body arrived back in Utah in a coffin, and said, “It doesn’t really matter how long we live in this life”, and then left, accompanied by his bodyguards.
The Mormon church, for all its shiny, happy photo models, can only survive when all that we would associate with being truly human, and all we would associate with reality, is killed off. It must eradicate to stay alive, and the sooner I cease hearing about grown men cowing to the threats of their wives and agreeing to keep quiet, when their children are being brainwashed and having all that is potentially most unique and valuable about them sucked out of them, just to serve Joseph's cult, the better. The truth deserves better than that, and so do our children, for Mormonism is a cult and a fraud, and a million smiles and barbecues and fake friends won't change that.
Just my 200 cents,
I just thought I'd post this true little story. I think it might be the closest to a Monson-esque story I have. It's just that it has a very unMonsonian twist at the end.
After I found that last smoking gun and realized Joseph had invented his stories, I was completely crushed. I began thinking really deeply about what my life had even all been about. What had I even accomplished? I had sired lots of children, but...I don't know - like, raccoons can do that, you know? It doesn't take any special talent to copulate. One three minute song? It seemed utterly trivial. What had I really ever done that was meaningful?
Well, one of the things that I did end up feeling a bit good about was that I had volunteered to coach a local Little League team a year earlier. Long story short is that, unbeknownst to me, the two jerks who ran the program had taken out all the worst kids on their respective teams, put them on this third team, and that was the one they'd asked me to coach. This bugged me because it meant that we'd be getting blown out every game, which of course began happening right from the first game, and this really made the little kids feel terrible, and also, because I hate losing. (The kids were nine and ten, and since the island we live on doesn't have a proper program, most of them had never played before).
At our first practice - this is true - I began by saying, as a joke, "So...who can tell me which one of these is first base?" The only one who knew was my son Ashton. No lie, I had kids there whose mothers had bought them those stupid plastic gloves FOR THE WRONG HAND, who didn't know any rules, didn't know third from first, couldn't throw, couldn't catch, couldn't hit, nothing. It was awful.
When I first agreed to coach, I swore a vow to myself that we'd go undefeated. I felt I'd be a lot better coach than the other two guys and that I could really whip the boys into shape. Once I realized what the other guys had done with the teams, my only goal became trying to figure out how to reduce the scores from like 20-0, to 10-0.
(One of the things I did, after racking my brain trying to think of ANY edge, was that I drove to Sports Traders in Victoria and bought the top of the line $200 dollar Worth Little League bat, made of the super alloy. When I got back and showed it to my cousin, I remember he just started laughing and said, "Wow - someone really hates losing". At the next practice, I produced the "magic bat" with all the ceremony of a Samurai displaying his sword. You should have seen the kids' eyes ha ha. I think it helped the kids psychologically as well, since it did start to boost their confidence, and they did start hitting better and better.)
One other thing I should mention is that a lot of the boys came from broken homes, and had no dads around. This made me especially conscious to try to set a good example while I was trying to teach them how to play, how to win, and even how to lose without getting totally demoralized.
Well, after many hours of practicing and explaining and cajoling and "big brothering", do you know that, one glorious afternoon, our dreams came true, and we actually managed to beat one of the other teams? I hadn't wanted to lose one, but now I was thrilled to have only won one. Just one. It was great. It was the only game we won all season, but at the time it seemed like more of an achievement than climbing Everest.
So, a year after all this, feeling like my life had been something of a blank, I thought back on those few months and all the laughs and hanging out we'd done together, and I actually permitted myself to think, "Well...heck. Maybe THAT was something. The other guys didn't even want those kids on their teams; they couldn't do anything, but I took them on anyway and together we learned how to play, learned about being on a team and winning and losing, and a had a great time doing it. Maybe I did make a difference with those little kids. Maybe I did do something for them that no one else on that island could have done, that in some small way, will always mean something to them, something they'll always remember".
So about a week later, I went to pick up my kids from karate, and I spotted one of the boys from the team there at the gym. Right on! I felt a kind of glow almost. So I instinctively broke into a big smile and went up to Conrad, held my hand out and said, "Conrad! how ya doin', man?!"
And he looked at me and said:
"Who are you?"
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
And I'm like, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO----AUUUUUGGGGHHHHHH!!!!" Ha ha ha ha
I bet that's how, in reality, most of Monson's stories actually turned out, but he just puts a little of that Paul H. Dunn spin on 'em and gives them happy endings! LIAR!
| I have a great idea for all you guys paid by the church ("NOT FROM TITHING MONIES!") to sit around all day monitoring boards like this one.
No doubt you are anxious to report something spectacular, give a heads up to church leaders and earn some recognition. Here is a free scoop.
It may be that at some point in the next nine months (could be in a month even), I have occasion to begin giving interviews in all forms of media - print, TV, radio, all around North America. Of course, that may not happen, given how volatile the music industry is these days, but it's up to you to calculate that risk.
When those interviews occur, the church "issue" will come up. And when it does come up, I will be announcing repeatedly that one example of the way that the church in the end shows absolutely no respect for its word or its members is that despite me trying to be the good guy and going along with the church's requests vis-a-vis the name removal process - namely, going through local leaders rather than sending a letter directly to SLC - I have yet to receive any confirmation from the church whatsoever that they have honoured my request, made about a year ago, to remove the names of me and all of my family from its membership roles, since we have all resigned our membership.
As an added bonus, here is my mailing address so you can hand it directly to Greg Dodge himself, so he can mail the confirmation letter out to me pronto, before you start reading about this in USA Today:
P.O. Box 506
V8K 2W2 Canada
Feel free to send me a thank you card, whoever jumps on this first!
| After a lifetime of practicing it as a devout Mormon, I have come to loathe apocalyptic thinking. Apocalyptic thinking, as in: "These are the latter-days, and things are getting worse...there are wars and rumours of wars...there is disease, plague, pestilence...the earth will ripen in iniquity...it will be consumed with fire...the wicked will be devoured...two men will be working in a field, and one shall be taken...catastrophe is inevitable", etc.
Which is more likely - that apocalyptic thought is the product of supernaturally-revealed, perfect information of the future, or a product of human psychology?
It is difficult not to attribute belief in the inevitability of horrific, doomsday scenarios to human psychology, given our daily fascination with the macabre. This manifests itself in everything from the bedtime stories we favour, to the movies we like, to slowing down at roadside accidents to get a better view, to watching crime footage on the evening news, and which books we read (Stephen King, Anne Rice, the Brothers Grimm, Edgar Allan Poe, etc.). And the number of apocalyptic prophecies made over the past several hundred years, all of which have failed, doesn't help any, either.
There is a myth which afflicts men and women, liberals and conservatives, atheists and theists alike, and that is that there was once a Golden Age, now sadly lost; and we are now inevitably heading for disaster.
The Golden Age might be the 1950's in some formulations; it might be Adam and Eve's time in the Garden of Eden; it might be (following Rousseau) the time when non-greedy, "noble savages" like the native Americans lived harmoniously with each other and with nature, not using anything but what they needed and sharing everything; for DaVinci Code aficionados, it might be when society was largely matriarchal, and therefore kindler and gentler, etc.
But alas!, so the story goes, sin - or technology - or the Catholic church - (plug in culprit) - caused a departure from that Golden Age, and now here we are, in effect hurtling inevitably toward "the end times", the final apocalypse. (And...if only we could all go back to how things were...!).
In the story, the apocalypse can be global nuclear war, or environmental catastrophe from our own greed, or running out of space on the globe due to overpopulation, or Jesus killing all the wicked, etc.
It seems to me that this view of history rests on the presumption that all human life is being played out according to some pre-existing blueprint, writ somewhere in the stars, by fate, or divine will, or something. But even if that were the case, how would we ever know about it? If anyone knew what was written in the stars, how would we even know that they did? Certainly, no human yet has shown anything like a great batting average in predicting the future; and just not doing so anymore, the strategy of current Mormon "prophets", doesn't really raise the average, anymore than a guy who struck out nine out of ten times increases his batting average by refusing to get up to bat anymore.
For those struggling with how to make sense of the world after their stint in Mormonism, a stint which necessarily imbues our view of human history with apocalyptic fears ("we must pay tithing or we will be burned to death when Jesus comes!", "We'd better get started our own food storage!", etc.) and leads us to be pessimistic in certain important ways, let me just mention a couple of things.
Democracy has been spreading for over 200 years (just since 1980, 80 countries have moved from the non-democratic column to the democratic). The earth's population now has more control than ever in human history over who governs them, and how. This has led not to more wars, but to less, as democratic regimes are far more reluctant to initiate war as non-democratic, the power of the leaders of which are untied to popular will. Traffic accidents, the rate of which as it happens is also decreasing, now kill more humans than does any form of combat.
Other than the accumulation of greenhouse gas emissions, virtually all environmental trends are positive.
Food supply has never been safer: you are less likely now to contract disease through water, meat, vegetables, fruits, etc., than ever in human history. (When's the last time you had dysentery?)
One hundred years ago, life expectancy was 41 years. Now, amongst Americans, it is 77 years - almost double. The average life span around the globe is likewise increasing. Also, the worldwide rate of suicide is declining, suggesting something generally positive about emotional states.
Infant mortality continues its decline (in the US, 45% since 1980). Advances in medicine have eradicated, or severely limited the influence of, diseases which only 100 years ago were killing our ancestors. Common infections are taken care of in a week with a course of antibiotics. Immunizations virtually eliminate the risk of contracting things like polio, a disease which even in the 1950's was still crippling and killing people.
It might even be argued that people are getting smarter. IQ rates have risen, around the world and amongst all races, about 20 points in under a century. For all the lamenting we do about lousy education, more humans have access to education, and better education, than ever in human history. This is just as true within the US as it is in Canada, Zambia, India, or Norway.
In the US, the divorce rate is declining. (Aren't families supposed to be more threatened and fragile than ever?)
Smoking is waning in popularity, as is illegal drug use. Crime is also on a decade-long downward trend. (How does this fit with the "ripening iniquity" we're supposed to be seeing "in these, the latter-days"?)
The overall living standard of people around the globe continues to increase (though at different paces), to the point where an average New Zealander, American, or German has access to a quality of travel, housing, clothing, food, recreation, etc., which monarchs only a century ago couldn't even fathom. Janitors can now get from Venice, Italy, to Venice, California, in a matter of hours without risking death from typhoid, etc., back to their houses with air conditioning, a satellite dish, a refrigerator and freezer, central heating, a fireplace and pool table, etc.
Far from incinerating us all, the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the US ended peacefully. Nuclear arsenals continue to be gradually diminished. How do we square this with all the Book of Revelations babble we heard in the eighties in LDS institute and seminary classes?
What's amazing is we could go on for pages, because by almost every index of human well-being, the human race is better off than ever, despite all the problems we are still struggling to solve. There was supposed to be plagues - but there are fewer plagues than ever (AIDS being an exception, though even the rate of AIDS infection everywhere but Africa is now in decline).
There was supposed to be wars and rumours of wars, but as Worldwatch notes, there are fewer wars and casualties per global population than ever these days, and the trend is downward.
There was supposed to be widespread famine, but a smaller percentage of the world's population suffers from starvation and its effects than ever, and that percentage is also dwindling.
There was supposed to be ripening iniquity, but wife beating is down; child beating is down; slavery has almost been abolished; murder and rape are decreasing; illegal drug use is declining; family stability is solid throughout Asia, and is on an upward trend in the US; adultery more than ever in human history is regarded as completely unacceptable; voluntary charitable donations remain high...
So it seems to me that if there is any trend in human history, that trend is positive to an unprecedented degree. And while Mormon leaders occasionally acknowledge all this, and try (pathetically) to cast all these advances as evidence that Joseph Smith's church really was a restoration of the Mormon church which Jesus, the first Mormon, started in Palestine 2000 years ago, the fact is that airplanes, penicillin, increasingly non-invasive surgical techniques, immunizations, air bags, seat belts, aspirin, lasik surgery, pasteurization, liberal democracy, universal suffrage, the near-total abolition of slavery around the world, epidurals, heart transplants, rights against self-incrimination, 911 amublances on call, cochlear implants, cell phones, Amber alerts, and every other stupefying blessing we now enjoy, ALL would have existed whether or not Joseph ever started his religion or not, or indeed, whether he ever had existed or not.
Moreover, for all those silly "Mormonizing" attempts, the fact is that Mormonism IS an apocalyptic cult ("latter-day saints"), and couldn't really be otherwise without severing itself from its own roots, and from Christianity. Just not "emphasizing" this anymore isn't enough; the DandC and early Mormon prophets were crystal clear on this, and it's all still there on the record books, and in the scriptures.
And since this is the case, as far as I can see, Mormonism never will be able to tell the story of mankind so far, and all its advancements, as anything other than part of a long slide into widespread cataclysmic, apocalyptic misery and destruction (prior of course to the welcome return of that first Mormon, Jesus of Nazareth, after which the earth will, finally, go back to something like that Golden Age, receiving its "paradaisical glory").
But maybe, just maybe, there never was a "Golden Age" to begin with, except in our imaginations. Maybe the idea that there was, is a Wordsworthian understanding of our OWN journeys as individuals from a state of innocence as babies, to a state where we can comprehend malicious motives, and even sometimes indulge our own.
And perhaps a sense of our own inevitable death is somehow exaggerated by us into an inevitable global apocalypse. Maybe we just exaggerate and then project our own story - innocence, fall from innocence, destruction - on to the whole story of humanity; as though we take our own story, which can't help but be linear, and then wrongly infer from it that the past, present, and future history of the entire human race is also necessarily linear and must follow the same pattern - innocence, fall from innocence, destruction - as ours did.
The knowledge that Joseph invented his stories, however, absolves us from trying to believe in something for which there is no evidence, namely, that the history of the human race has already been inevitably written, and that it will get far, far worse, before it becomes Edenic. I might add that it absolves from viewing what appeaer to be genuine improvements in human life, even amazing improvements, as just blips along a long road to decline and catastrophe.
All I really see right now is a human race trying to solve problems, and overall succeeding more than ever before; and where that ends, I'm not sure. But I feel pretty sure that whatever that end is, it's not inevitable, and in no way necessarily cataclysmic. "Fate" looks more than ever like a cop-out, an unconsciously-generated delusion meant to absolve us from our own potential roles in affecting the future of our race. Maybe "fate" is only "the future we make". Maybe the only "blueprint" is...us.
| FARMS writer Michael Reed suggested on another thread that I team up with Richard Abanes, who apparently sings, and do an anti-Mormon CD. All I can say is that if Richard's material is anything like all the other born again pop/rock I've heard, I will have to pass...My own's dodgy enough!
Besides, since all reality I think qualifies as "anti-Mormon", every CD ever made which doesn't explicitly try to cast Joseph's tales as true qualifies as "anti-Mormon", just like every new insight would from the fields of astronomy, anthropology, history, linguistics, physics, Egyptology, genetics, zoology, botany, political science, literature, philosophy, neuroscience, biology, and almost every field of study. It's no wonder we all kind of shared a paranoid siege-mentality - it wasn't a fantasy that we were surrounded by "enemies": all of reality is the enemy!
Anyway, I thought it was quite sporting of Michael, who seems like a very amiable chap, to make such a suggestion. So, I here present the lyrics of a little tune I dashed off called "Cherrie". It's dedicated to all the missionaries who sincerely brought people into the Utopia of Mormonism before we knew that, just like every other utopian scheme, it was a fraud...It has a sad ending, but I'll come up with a few cheerier ones soon enough in other tunes. Below the lyrics is my own rendition of the forthcoming FARMS review.
I was young, and I was bold
Swallowed all that I was told
And I met Cherry and took hold
Of her wondering mind...
Cherry laughed, I squeezed her hand
I said, “Come visit my promised land
"Where we are one, and they are 'other'
Where we are one, unlike any other
“It’s somewhere special, somewhere bright
Where knowledge flows like sweetest wine
And love comes tumbling from the skies
And surrounds us all...
“Where we are one - and they are 'other'
Yeah we are one - unlike any other
“There is no ambiguity in the light
There is no disingenuity in the smiles
In the smiles”
So once I found I’d been deceived
I spoke up, but she wouldn’t see
Her eyes were closed, her ears were sealed
All because of me...
"We are one, and they are 'other'
Yeah we are one, unlike any other..."
FARMS Review of Tal Bachman's song, "Cherrie"; Feb. 16, 2006
Well, now we've seen it all. 172 years ago, Howe and Hurlbut joined forces to publish the first anti-Mormon book. Now, their successor in the twisted world of anti-Mormonism, 'ex-Mormon' singer Tal Bachman, has now managed the feat of publishing the first ever anti-Mormon pop song - not that it will be rivalling "The Nutcracker" or "Moonlight Sonata" anytime soon. (It is in fact indistinguishable from the common run of bland radio fare.) Bachman's rantings on the notorious 'Recovery from Mormonism' board are well-known to internet surfers. This song, however, will mark the first time his uninformed opinions will be accessible to a wider audience. As such, we will take a closer look at the lyrics of 'Cherrie', and at Bachman's authority to comment on the gospel.
The first thing to say is that Bachman's song seems to presume that Mormonism, in some fashion or another, represents a utopianism. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. As apostle Bruce R. McConkie said once, "Mormonism is not a utopianism". Other LDS scholars have repeatedly made this point in recent years. For example, BYU professor of history and occasional FARMS contributor Dr. Garloy H. Jensen published a paper in Oct., 2005 entitled, "Mormonism Is Not A Utopianism", in which he showed conclusively that Mormonism is not a utopianism. Similarly, in the last Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, chemist Jeff Lindsay summarized his findings on this question in his article entitled, "Mormonism Is Not A Utopianism". Concluded Lindsay:
"After an extensive review of Mormonism, I can say unequivocally that...Mormonism is not a utopianism".
Has Bachman not read these conclusive arguments on the Mormon utopianism question? If so, why is he ignoring them? Is he unaware that this question has been settled already, and that the answer is...Mormonism is not a utopianism? If he is unaware, what does that say about his credibility as a commentator? If he IS aware that this question has been settled in the negative, why is he suppressing this? Bachman either has some homework to do, or some admissions to make about his dishonesty, because the verdict is in: Mormonism is not a utopianism.
It is simply untrue, for example, that Joseph Smith dabbled in, or organized, utopian economic schemes. Early saints did practice something called "the United Order", but this was not a utopian economic scheme at all. It was rather, something called "the United Order", which was in fact, not a utopian economic scheme. Even a quick glance at the authoritative conclusions of contemporary LDS scholarship would confirm this fact; obviously, however, Bachman has no interest in facts.
It is also untrue that Mormonism ever portrayed itself as the solution to the ills of humanity, or that it was ever church doctrine that the Melchizedek priesthood conferred upon the Lord's prophet the right to dictate in all things spiritual and temporal. It is also untrue that Mormonism has ever outlined the contours of some "ideal" man or woman, or polity, in ANY respect, or that the concept of "Zion" refers to anything in particular, Bachman's sly insinuations to the contrary. Similarly misleading is his insinuation that the church claims that obedience to the gospel makes people happy.
But perhaps what is most egregious about Bachman's misleading characterization of Mormonism is the suggestion that there is something "exclusive" in the minds of members about church membership. Does he not know that we now refer to non-Mormons as "friends of other faiths"? Is he not aware of the tremendous ecumenical efforts undertaken by Pres. Hinckley over the past decade? Is he not aware that Mormons join with members of other faiths all over the world in charity work and community activism on moral issues? LDS leaders have repeatedly invited "ALL men to come unto Christ", and that Bachman can seriously suggest that there is some element of exclusivity in the way Mormons view themselves is only further indication that he has an axe to grind.
Not that this should be much of a surprise. He is, after all, involved in the music industry, a field not known for encouraging fealty to the gospel. Which temptations struck Bachman as most attractive, or which he took occasion to indulge in and rationalize we will probably never know; what we do know is that he seems to be quite happy to have escaped the dreary yoke of his temple covenants. We only wish he would not subject us to his rationalizations for this decision over the airwaves.
Bachman, it should be noted, has no formal degree in music, none in poetry or literature, none in history, and none in anything else we can discover. Evidently, he still feels qualified, for reasons we have yet to fathom, to comment on the gospel, and seems to feel he is under no obligation to acquire academic credentials for forming the opinions he has. This says more than we ever could about his own opinion of himself. He seems unbothered by the fact that a multitude of LDS scholars with Ph.D's are still active and have found nothing which suggests to them anything amiss in the church's foundational claims.
Members should rest assured that there is nothing new here. The old canard that Mormonism is just another utopian fraud is simply repeated here by Bachman (who seems to think he is the first to characterize Mormonism in this way, when he is not), as though merely repeating it would make it true. Unfortunately for Bachman, LDS scholars have demonstrated the falsity of this charge long ago through their conclusion that...Mormonism is not a utopianism.
We look forward to the day when those intent on destroying the church, like Bachman, shrink their egos, earn Ph.D's before they form opinions, and do their homework before repeating bogus claims which, as noted, have long ago been refuted by LDS scholars.
Don't expect this one to win any Grammys or Bancroft prizes.
Editor Note: Please realize this is a spoof! Thank you!
| Yesterday at the public library I happened upon the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. I never did buy this, so I was kind of curious. Wow lol. Pick any two or three entries, and there'd be enough material there to keep this board occupied for a month. A lot of it read like a parody of Mormon apologetic writing - the siege overtones, moral standing through victimhood, zero sense of humour and overweening self-importance, completely glaring omissions (no entry for "polyandry", nor any mention of it at all in connection with Joseph's unique version of ancient Semitic marital arrangements, and only one specific reference [Fanny Alger] to one of Joseph's "wives", etc.) Another kind of funny thing were the euphemisms in a lot of the articles.
Like, speaking of plural marriage, check this euphemism out. This is from page 1092:
"Evidence for the practice of plural marriage during the 1830's is scant. Only a few knew about the still unwritten revelation" (i.e., "the non-existent 'revelation'") "and perhaps the only known plural marriage was that between Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger. Nonetheless there were rumors, harbingers of challenges to come.
"In April 1839, Joseph Smith emerged from six months' imprisonment in Liberty Jail with a..." (LOL) "...with a sense of URGENCY about COMPLETING HIS MISSION".
Maybe it's me, but I thought that was pretty funny. After six months in the slammer, I BET the voracious Joseph felt a "sense of urgency" about "completing" the particular mission of...having sex with as many women as possible (of course, after the appropriate priesthood ceremony). It'd be like locking Vince Neil up in a monastery for six months and then letting him out at the annual Motley Crue fan club party in Las Vegas.
Come to think of it, I think this euphemism might of value for all those TBM lurkers who feel reluctant to say something to their spouse like, "honey, I'm really horny". Following the kinder, gentler language of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, you can now express this sentiment by saying in the robotic drone of Mormon GA's:
"You look like a choice daughter of Janice Kapp Perry tonight. As a result, I am really feeling a sense of urgency about 'completing my mission'. I can either 'complete my mission' right now, or in one hour. Which would you prefer? In an hour?
"Just to be clear, then - in one hour, will you follow the example of Fanny Alger, Zina Huntington, the Webb sisters, and so many other elect ladies, and allow me to 'complete my mission'? Thank you. Your compliance with this request will be greatly appreciated. You have my assurance that as per Pres. Packer's repeated warnings, I shall 'keep it natural'."
The Book of Abraham stuff is pretty classic, too.
Anyone else familiar with the Encyclopedia of Mormonism?
| For some reason or other, church defenders seem to believe that charging anyone who quotes LDS scriptures or First Presidency statements as being a "fundamentalist" is a really good idea, and that it goes a long way toward protecting belief that Joseph Smith always told the truth.
I first became familiar with this approach about a year ago when I visited the FAIR board. It seemed that Daniel Peterson's explanation of my apostacy went something like this:
Tal, very mistakenly, thought Mormonism was a fundamentalist religion;
And when he found out that it wasn't, he figured that this meant that (his mistaken idea of) Mormonism, which he had confused with real Mormonism, was false, and so he left.
I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that the people who brought us the tapir loan word theory would think this was a real "gotcha" strategy, yet still, I was. And here once again recently, reading Logic Chopper's echo of this, I felt that same kind of surprise...and it is hard not to wonder: how bad does it get? Where will they bottom out?
I think debating whether Mormonism is a fundamentalist religion, or whether questioners qualify as "fundamentalists", is largely a waste of time, since I think the only relevant question is: Is Mormonism true, i.e, did Joseph tell the truth about his experiences? Forcing a digression by starting to accuse questioners seems much like just another red herring, and I'm not really sure why it seems like a great approach to the FAIR board folks. All that really matters is, Is the thing true?
Pertinent to finding an answer to this, is the fact that Mormonism makes certain specific claims about the nature of physical reality which present themselves as relevant and literal. Also pertinent is the fact that almost without exception, those (nearing 200 year old) Mormon claims are at odds with everything the human race now understands about physical reality. I would like to know how noticing that discrepancy justifies being accused of religious fundamentalism, or how this silly accusation in any way answers the question of how we are to reconcile completely falsified claims with reality...?
A quick example of what I mean, which came up with Logic Chopper. It is neither a fundamentalist nor non-fundamentalist opinion, but simply an irrefutable fact, that Mormonism's scriptural canon claims that Adam was the progenitor of the human race, and that he lived not more than 6000 years ago (see the Book of Moses Chapter 1, DandC 107, etc.).
If there were any doubt about this, it is resolved by another irrefutable fact - the irrefutable fact that this teaching was confirmed to be literal and doctrinal in an official First Presidency statement, issued under Joseph F. Smith, reprinted not only in the appendix to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, but in the recent "Teachings of Joseph F. Smith" EQ manual, and in the Feb. 2002 Ensign:
"It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was 'the first man of all men' (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race." (see below for link)
This issue has some importance, because if in fact it is the case that human beings were on the planet prior to 4000 B.C., and even one of whom was an ancestor to a present human being, then it appears to be one piece of evidence that, for whatever else it may be, Mormonism is not what it claims.
And needless to say, whether or not one is a "fundamentalist" (whatever we might take that to mean), the fact is that the question of what to make of this item of Mormon doctrine is raised by no other party than the church itself, since the whole world can find this doctrine within the church's scriptures, official First Presidency statements, and see that the church very recently has re-affirmed it in it official manual and magazine.
Further, since there is not much doubt now that there were fully-developed human beings on this planet long before 4000 B.C., some of whom were our ancestors, the church - if it is what it claims to be - really ought to have some kind of explanation for this: but no apostle, and certainly no apologist, that I know of, can give one.
How can that be?
This should be easy for the one, true church, run by living prophets: How are we supposed to reconcile the claims that prior to 5700 years ago, there was no death of any kind, neither human nor vegetable, on this planet, and that the whole of humanity as it now exists, the Mongoloid, Negroid, and Caucasoid races with all our variations, all six billion of us, were ALL spawned by one couple living in Missouri right around that time, with the fact that...all creation shouts in unison that our earth was populated many tens of thousands of years ago, and that in fact there WAS death long, long before anyone ever lived in Missouri a few millenia ago?
Calling people "religious fundamentalists" who wonder this, or simply announcing this was all supposed to be allegorical (contradicting the First Presidency), or suggesting that members just put it on the shelf (i.e., "render yourself unconscious"), or claiming "it isn't relevant to our salvation", does no good - none of these approaches erases the meaning and substance of the official First Presidency statement nor the scriptures to which it refers. And therefore, how on earth can this point not weigh against the church's claims for itself? Calling someone a fundamentalist is no answer to this, needless to say. Pretty telling that that's the best they can do.
The church raises the question, but the church has no answer. How can that be, if it is all it claims?
See the official First Presidency statement, "The Origin of Man", at:
| Imagine this: You and your six year old need to get from San Jose to San Francisco to visit a specialist, but as a recently relocated Manhattanite, you have no driver's license. Your new neighbour Rosa, who has a license, volunteers to drive you.
But the day before you leave, you are out walking with your daughter, and you see Rosa, holding a can of Schlitz in one hand, speed through a red light, run a stop sign, change lanes in the middle of the intersection while turning left, drive over the curb, knocking over a trashcan, then jam on the brakes in the middle of the street.
When you inform Rosa that you don't trust her her driving, she blows her stack. She says, "YOU no even HAVE no driver's license! How dare you? You are snob. You saying Dominican Republic no good?"
"No, I'm not saying Domin-"
"Yes you are. You are racist snob. You are 'anti-Dominican'! And if you so good at drivin' lessee you drive!"
"But Rosa, that's not really the point-"
To get a driver's license, one has to pass a series of tests showing that s/he has mastered all the information and techniques necessary for responsible driving. To the extent the driver anchors his driving to those facts and techniques, that training has had value. Her driver's licenses matters.
To get a Ph.D., one has to pass through a series of tests showing that s/he has mastered the best information, protocols, methodological tools, etc., our race has hit upon to help further understanding of the world we live in. To the extent that the doctor anchors his claims about reality to those facts, protocols, and methodological tools (even in the case of arguing correctly that some aspect of them is flawed), his training has had value for humankind. Knowledge will increase. Their doctoral degrees matter.
And conversely, to the extent that that doctor frees his claims about reality from facts, protocols, and seemingly very fruitful methodologies, his training loses value for humankind. His doctoral degree ceases to matter.
There is no difference I can see between Rosa, the licensed driver who in effect gives the finger to her training by ignoring it, and in so doing gives the finger to every other driver and pedestrian she comes in contact with, and a man with a Ph.D in effect giving the finger to all the facts, protocols, and methodologies, he was once trained in by proudly ignoring them whenever they happen to prove false whatever he might like to believe, and who by so doing also gives the finger to the rest of humankind by announcing that the burden of proof is forever on THEM, to prove to HIS satisfaction, that his (already falsified) pet theories are incorrect - something which of course is now an impossibility since the theorizer has already abandoned attachment to facts.
This is what no amateur LDS apologist wishes to see: the FARMS Ph.D's don't matter, because the very holders of them have made them not matter. It has nothing to do with the fact they're LDS, no more than Rosa's driver's license not mattering has anything to do with the fact she's from the Dominican Republic. Neither the Ph.D nor the DL matter, because the holders of them have made them cease to matter through their own behaviour.
This is why everything I said above would be true whether the Ph.D or driver were Catholic or atheist or black or Chinese. And if the day ever comes when a fantastic apologetic piece appears from a Catholic chemist really showing that in fact, the wafer LITERALLY, as per the doctrine of transubstantiation, transforms into the flesh of Jesus (i.e., one can actually show that the wafer undergoes compositional transformation, and DNA tests now show the wafer to be of Semitic ancestry, etc.), I'll be the first to clap.
Likewise, if the day ever comes that a FARMS piece really does establish that, as Joseph once said, upon baptism, a new Mormon's blood LITERALLY changes into the "blood of Abraham", i.e., that his ritualistic adoption into the house of Israel signals a real, physiological change to the genetic information found in his body (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page I can't remember), I'll also be the first to clap.
Ph.D. or not, merely claiming that these things are the case isn't good enough, and we have every right and reason to doubt them, just as much as we might the claim that the Jaredites made it over in enclosed, disc-shaped boats which could flip over, or that they were lighted with glowing stones, or that the Book of Breathings has something to do with the Israelite patriarch Abraham, or any other extraordinary LDS claim.
And yet, FARMS Ph.D's, and their fans, seem unable to fathom how non-Ph.D's could ever have the audacity to question FARMS pronouncements. They view this reluctance as a symptom of pride.
I think they may have it backwards. It is only pride which could lead a man to believe that he and his group, alone, were God's covenant people, and that their view of God, religion, and the universe alone was the absolute truth; only pride which could lead a man to feel put out that someone doesn't accept, on his testimony, that everything he claims is absolutely true, DESPITE the fact that he can produce NO real evidence, other than personal testimonials (i.e., "no real evidence") that his view is anything other than as much opinion as anyone else's belief about such things; only pride that could lead him to state that his "scholarship" meets the standards of that being done by other Ph.D's, when in fact it doesn't; only pride that would lead him to literally believe that despite all this, the burden of proof is on everyone else to prove him wrong; and only pride that would lead him to expect us to regard his own opinions with the same seriousness with which we approach those informed by facts and comprising testable propositions. And I might add, only pride that would lead him to label anyone who dares question him as proud.
You don't need pride, or a Ph.D., to notice in FARMS scholarship distraction tactics, obfuscations, irrelevant personal insults, non-acknowledgement of the most important issues, pedantry, non sequitirs, etc. You only need eyes and a brain (No wonder Egyptologist Robert Ritner once took occasion, in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, to publicly make clear that the work of John Gee, his former pupil, doesn't meet the standards of scholarship he was taught while at Yale).
Rather than continue to demand that everyone defer to them because of their degrees, despite their flaunting of everything that those Ph.D's are supposed to signify, I think the church they, oddly enough, still think they're defending effectively might be better served by them doing the same things that every other Ph.D on this planet has done to achieve standing as reliable and credible.
Religion or not, exempting themselves from these requirements on grounds that "they're already right" or whatever, and that therefore, everyone else has the burden of proof, only makes them look like fanatical, egomaniacal idiots, worthy of being ignored altogether.
If Rosa and the FARMS guys want the world to respect their formal credentials, they should do what it takes to earn that respect, rather than demanding it while doing everything possible to lose it. In the meantime, they have no one to blame but themselves for not having it.
Just how I see things,
| Got some time this morning...
(Sound theme music)
("Tune in while former fanatical members of the Mormongemeinschaft try to become normal after realizing their entire lives were built on a fraud").
(Kitchen, filled with unpacked boxes, phone rings).
Nora: "Hi, is this Tal? Yes, I got your email about soccer. As a matter of fact, we are still looking for players. Do you want to come down to practice?"
Me: "Wow, yeah, sure, I mean, yeah, okay."
Nora: "Is there something wrong?"
Me: "Well, I'm curious - are you the team registrar or something?"
Nora: "Actually I'm the coach".
Me: "Is this a co-ed team?"
Nora: "No, it's all guys, but they didn't have a coach and I volunteered."
(Right then, the cult starts echoing in the back of my mind..."but if I join a team with a female coach, then it's possible that you and I could wind up alone together, like in a car riding home from a game. And if that happens, then there is a VERY good chance we might end up having sex, just like President Kimball said. That's why I had to run away from Katie Holmes that one night - we talked just she and I, and that meant we were about to have sex...Just please promise me you'll stop me from having sex with you...").
Me: (After nanosecond pause - shake head). "Okay, I'll come down to the practice".
Arrive at practice.
Nora: "So, you haven't played in a while, you said." ("Awhile" meant, not since seventh grade P.E. - not that she knew that).
"You think you can get the hang of it again and figure this out?"
NANOSECOND PAUSE (Almost blurt out: "Hey babe - I just figured out that Joseph Smith's bizarro authoritarian cult of self-aggrandizement and the byzantine, contradiction-filled idiocy which passes as Mormon theology is a fraud, despite having been raised by the Mormon Ilse Koch in a hermetically-sealed psychological box in which I was rendered incapable of recognizing any fact, no matter how obvious, which suggested we were all temporarily nuts. You think I can't figure out how to put a ball in a goal? Gimme that g****** thing."
Instead, I said:
We played a quick scrimmage. I got the ball from Mongo and was being checked by Nora. I put a move on this girl (backwards right kick to my left foot) that left her standing there like a plant needing watering, booted it and scored. Maradona! It's literally the only move I know - but after that she thought I was lying and that I'd been playing for years. (This impression would quickly be dispelled, by the way). So, she invited me to play on the team.
Only hesitation is that all the guys are in their early twenties. I don't think there's anyone over thirty. Resisted the temptation to ask them all, "What's it like being a young man who isn't devoting his life to a stupid religious cult?".
Age difference is kind of awkward. Thought about what it would be like, socially, in a new ward...membership peppered liberally with frustrated multi-level marketing salesmen, herbalist chiropractors, 300 pound high councilmen delivering lectures on the Word of Wisdom for thirty minutes overtime, eager young RM's who still think Dan Peterson's really blown all the skeptics right off the planet because Grant Palmer doesn't have a Ph.D., mindless RS Monson-groupies cooing over his latest exaggerated story about a kid getting crushed by a train but not before he gives a four-leaf clover to his mommy, all of us kind of insinctively keeping an eye on each other, all of us keeping a kind of ledger tracking member righteousness and how we all rank up, all of us devoting our lives to trying to keep believing in something which, fundamentally, does not warrant any belief whatsoever. That, truly, would be hell....Suddenly, the fact that I've got ten years on all the guys doesn't make me feel that awkward anymore. (Incidentally, I was invited to try out for an over thirty team too, but they were all in their mid-forties, which was even more awkward...).
But about kids...
Now, with no YM Scouts YW journal writing time worrying about canning peaches early morning seminary Sundays filled with rote memorization of fictions standing with an arm extended shouting "Sieg heil" after "Follow the Prophet", etc., lots of free time for kids...goal has been, get kids involved in something each one of them is truly passionate about...
Jed, 13, expresses passionate interest in "blowing things up". Excellent! Last night I take him to Army Cadets. He is considering joining if he can find an artillery division. Dad swells pride. "I always dreamed of this, like when an enemy gots blowed up good and then all that smoke clears that's my boy standing there 'cause he blowed up everything". Wipe tear from eye.
Ashton: jock. Gets on local Silver soccer team (not bad for never having had proper soccer instruction), and signs up for year-long soccer tutorials so he can advance to the Gold team next year.
Matthias: Muscular, stocky. Is joining local Velox U-12 rugby team and is very excited.
Enoch: excelling at soccer
Lael: taking piano and dance
Sundays: We spend an hour or two of time together doing something fun. Last Sunday we went to an English style Fish and Chip shop in Estevan Village near Oak Bay (Victoria, BC by the way). We swapped stories and laughed a lot. I told the kids a story about Mongo (not his real name), the guy on my soccer team who has an anger problem (he tried to beat up a guy at the game that day and was immediately kicked off the team. They thought it was really funny). Tracy met another young mother there with four kids. They swapped numbers and agreed to get together.
Turns out all the people on here, and on the ex-JW's site, etc., were right - there is life outside of "one true" religious organizations, and so far, though there are some tough moments, it's really a blast. Who knew?
If the church were all it claimed, no sacrifice would be too great for it. But since it isn't, as far as I can see it isn't worth making any sacrifice for, and isn't worth subjecting our kids to its lies solely because we're afraid if we leave, they'll most likely turn into drug addicts and prostitutes or something. Every cult says the same thing - and every cult's wrong.
Hope everyone else is having their own great adventure.
See ya at Exmo '05!
| It is now common for members of the church to describe as mysterious the church's official positions on "the negro". This isn't really surprising - as soon as the papyri turned up, all of a sudden the Book of Abraham became "mysterious", just as now the whereabouts of the Lamanites has become "mysterious", etc., etc. This is the intermediate stage of the act of "putting it on the shelf" - what was once clear becomes out of focus, and finally, is purged from memory and consciousness altogether.
Logic Chopper, a few weeks ago, accused me of lying when I said that I'd had posts quoting the First Presidency deleted from the FAIR board. How odd. What else would he expect in a church for which "history" is always simply a means to perpetuating belief? Just last night, unpacking, I found "Truth Restored", which states that polygamy was so essential to Mormon doctrine and history that no discussion of Mormonism could ever neglect to discuss it - and then right after that (no lie), I found the latest Brigham Young EQ manual, which lies through omission regarding Brigham's teaching of and obedience to this doctrine.
Anyway, as it happens, I also found a few of the quotes on race which I posted on the FAIR board a couple of years ago, which, if I remember correctly, were the ones that were deleted immediately. So here they are for Logic Chopper and all his buddies to view. I also invite he and his buddies to post them without comment on the FAIR board. Perhaps that Jeffersonian democrat Juliann will welcome an acknowledgement of the legacy of completely stupid racial theorizing by men with a seer stone sitting in their vault.
This is from the First Presidency, as quoted in that inspiring classic, "Mormonism and the Negro":
"The POSITION OF THE CHURCH regarding the negro may be understood when another DOCTRINE of the church is kept in mind, namely, THAT THE CONDUCT OF SPIRITS IN THE PREMORTAL EXISTENCE HAS SOME DETERMINING EFFECT upon the conditions of mortality...among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood, is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth". (First Presidency, 8/17/51).
The First Presidency says this was the position of the church. If it wasn't, then the First Presidency led church members astray. And if they did, then the First Presidency isn't telling the truth when they say God won't let them. That equals a bit of trouble.
If it was, however, the position of the church, then there is nothing mysterious about Mormon doctrines on race and the denial of the priesthood to blacks, and it might as well be acknowledged by those wishing to defend the church. If you don't acknowledge it, church defenders will be presumed to be ignorant or disingenuous.
Here's another one from a letter by the First Presidency to a concerned Mormon, quoted in the same book:
"The basic element of your ideas and concepts seems to be that all God's children stand in equal positions before Him in all things...some of God's children were assigned SUPERIOR POSITIONS before the world was formed. We are aware that some higher critics do not accept this, BUT THE CHURCH DOES.
"Your position seems to lose sight of the revelations of the Lord touching the pre-existence of our spirits, the rebellion in heaven, and the doctrines that our birth into this life, and the advantages under which we may be born, HAVE A RELATIONSHIP IN THE LIFE HERETOFORE.
"Furthermore, your ideas, as we understand them, apear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Negro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been MOST REPUGNANT TO MOST NORMAL-MINDED PEOPLE... (yikes)
"We are not unmindful of the fact that there is a growing tendency, particularly among educators, as it manifests itself in this area, toward the breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between whites and blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the church and is CONTRARY TO CHURCH DOCTRINE". (First Presidency, 7/17/47, "Mormonisn and the Negro", pages 46-47).
"Contrary to church doctrine". Not policy - "doctrine".
And here is a final one on the dangers of miscegenation:
"If we attempt to preserve the differences and particular virtues of other races - given to them by heaven - then we are serving the Creator and His laws, for we are thus carrying out a more religious work than those contentious academic circles...
Guess which First Presidency member said that?
If you guessed Hitler's top medical advisor and racial propagandist Walter Gross, you guessed correctly.
I guess my last comment would be to undetake the presumption of recommending a new handle for "Logic Chopper". How about, "I Am In Total Denial About What Mormonism Has Meant, And Continues To Mean, Because Once I Acknowledge That, I Won't Be Able To Believe It Anymore, And Then My Life Will Implode Because I Am Completely Dependent On It Emotionally. Without It Nothing Would Make Sense And I Would Cease To Exist".
But chin up, LC - most of us have been there, too.
Sieg Heil (not),
| Hi all
I just got a chance to log on as per my RFM addiction requirements and saw Polygamy Porter's interesting post on Dan Peterson's comment that FARMS arguments are not so much rejected as ignored. So, I thought I'd drop a few comment for what they're worth.
First of all, I'd like to say for the record (in the small chance that anyone in cyberspace cares) that, for all the silly things he might say, I appreciate Daniel Peterson a lot more than I do Hinckley, Monson, Faust, and the other guys running the church, for two reasons: Dan Peterson actually responds to you, and he is actually doing what Joseph Fielding Smith did for years, which was try to explain this g*%$#@ thing in a way that moves beyond Monsonian/Paul H. Dunnian fictions, Hinckley's disingenuous PR spins, and typical platitudes. That explaining what Mormonism is (without saying the words "loyalty cult") in the end is an impossible task is kind of beside the point - Dan at least is still trying.
The First Presidency issued a statement through The Ensign a couple of years ago telling everyone to stop writing to them asking for doctrinal clarification, and recommended that they go instead to their bishops. Anyone who has ever gone to a Mormon bishop for doctrinal clarification will be able to appreciate the true nature of this recommendation: an attempt at evading all responsibility for precisely what they, in their OWN WORDS, are responsible for: "declaring doctrine". There is not one Mormon bishop on this planet can explain, with ANY degree of authoritativeness, any doctrinal point that anyone would ever ask about (not least because their relatively lowly position precludes authoritative pronouncement, and also because Mormonism defies explanation in the end as anything other than a loyalty cult). I've attended wards all over this planet, and the end of pretty much every conversation has been, "We don't know all the answers, and we have to just put some of this stuff on the shelf. I encourage, though, to pray and receive your own answers...") (i.e., invent your own version of what you'd like Mormonism to be, and then keep your mouth shut). The "ask the bishop" strategy is nothing more than a stonewalling.
But Dan Peterson, while I think he inadvertently has done quite a lot of damage to the very cause he tries so hard to defend, at least acknowledges your existence when you write to him. I don't know if he posts still, but for years you could post on the FAIR board, and he'd actually come back and try to get you, in effect, to stop asking "stupid" questions and stuff, not really focus in on your point and instead try to dazzle you and others with thought-terminating cliches and ten dollar words which, I guess, really impress people from starry-eyed fanatics from Utah County (sorry).
Meager, similarly insulting fare for sure, but in an institution like the LDS church, the corporate culture of which (in fealty to the personality of its founding CEO) requires a disavowal of any responsibility whatsoever for what it stands for, having the biggest bully on the schoolyard actually pay attention to you long enough to stick your head in a toilet and flush it (rather than stare right through you as though you don't exist) might be something worth feeling a tad grateful for. It's like putting out your CD and getting a very unfair review from Spin magazine. It sucks, but in a way it beats being completely ignored.
Not that I'm waxing nostalgic. Not even Dan Peterson, as far as I can tell, can straightforwardly answer many (any?) of the most basic questions people ought to ask about Mormonism.
But anyway, what I'm getting at is this. Daniel complains that FARMS arguments are not so much rejected as ignored. I think that is probably true. It is tempting now to think that FARMS writers are aware of why this might be, but I have come to doubt this is the case.
In fact, I once got an email from a FARMS writer (not Dan) stating very emphatically and sincerely that the reason for the dismissal/ignoring of FARMS arguments by people on the RFM board was that...(get ready for this)...
That those arguments were so convincing, that it threw we who (he thought) wished the church to be fraudulent simply so we could live a life of hedonism, into a state of "cognitive dissonance" (his words); and so ignoring them was a coping strategy for us.
He said that this is what I did.
My response was to ask him which convincing arguments he might be referring to, since I hadn't been able to find any; perhaps tellingly, he never cited any in response. He just repeated his original charge. As a former ideological fanatic myself, I resisted the temptation for scorn and passed over his comment from then on with a kind of (as I thought) charitable silence.
FARMS writers, it almost seems, sometimes are fairly bewildered at how their output is ignored. I might be able to shed some light on this, though, unqualified however as I am. But I think it might be something like this.
"Scholarship" implies participation in an ongoing discussion, not only with people who see the world exactly as we do, but with those who see it in contrary terms. Scholars don't write out their theories in private, compile evidences for their truthfulness in private, and then burn them all without ever mentioning them to anyone. In trying to discern reality, we take turns talking about how we think it is, and then people elaborate on, or take issue with, or agree with, what we've said. In this respect, I don't see scholarship as practiced by formally credentialed scholars as fundamentally different than guys sitting in a bar dissecting every last element of the last Vancouver Canucks game, including line-up, line changes, penalty kill strategies, etc.
But part of being a respected participant in such dialogue/inquiry requires the participant's willingness to operate within certain boundaries which appear to be expressions of an independent reality. For example, in discussing the Canucks, our understanding is not increased if Dave keeps saying things like, "If the Canucks really want to win, they need to put seven men on the ice", since hockey forbids having seven men on the ice at a time. Or, if Dave keeps saying, "But you can't rule out the possiblity that it was Wayne Gretzky, masquerading as Markus Naslund, who really shot that puck. And I think it WAS Gretzky, and that's why it didn't go in - Gretzky's too old to be playing for the Canucks". If we kept explaining to Dave that if he wanted to join in our chats, he'd have to keep such weird flights of fancy out and actually focus on the reality at hand, and he couldn't or wouldn't accept that stipulation, at some point we would start ignoring him. And this is what has happened with FARMS.
FARMS writers, and Mormon apologists in general (really, all ideologues) operate under "Hinckley's Dictum", articulated in so many words in an Ensign article a couple of years ago: "When evidence supports our belief, it counts; when it doesn't support out belief, it does not count".
How can FARMS writers be surprised when they come to be ignored by others, when this is their modus operandi?
My answer is this: What if they don't see that this is their modus operandi at all? What if they are completely unaware that they are downgrading in importance evidence which, to everyone else who is emotionally unattached to Mormon theories, seems crucially important? And what if, when they are confronted with this, they don't really understand what is being said, so that even in the act of responding to criticism, they themselves are totally blind to what it most devastating in that criticism? If this is the case, it doesn't really matter in the end whether ideologues are consciously declaring war on the norms of discourse, or unconsciously flaunting them - the result will be the same: what they say in the end will be ignored.
I think this is particularly tragic because FARMS writers obviously are very creative thinkers (creativity being a requisite for theorizing), who, as far as I can see, might very well have been able to come up with things which really blessed the human race. Instead, they have spend (cumulatively) tens of thousands of hours undertaking "scholarship" which in reality isn't scholarship at all (since by Dan Peterson's own admission FARMS is pretty much completely ignored) but "religious belief reinforcement" (call it "RBR"). To make it worse, if Mormonism is not what it claims, and if it isn't "the best thing out there" as so many of us used to convince ourselves was the case, then all their work seems to be pretty much a total waste of time. All those mental energies, all that sacrifice for grad school...and for what?
For any mature FARMS writer to come to admit that, for whatever else it might be, Mormonism cannot be what it claims, would be an act of such incredible heroism and humility, that it should be lauded by everyone on this planet. It is hard to say, "I have been wrong". It is harder when we must say that to the whole world. It is harder when to say it means we lose many of our best friends, harder when to say it means we must try to become someone new, harder when all those former friends now think we are evil and demented, harder still when it hurts us, or even destroys us, financially. But most of all, to say "I have been wrong" would be to concede that, in a heartbreaking way, our talents and energies and time have been misused, perhaps in some ways totally wasted.
Anyway, I might say that, for the sake of FARMS writers themselves, perhaps more scholars should criticize their output; but this would be completely pointless anyway, since I doubt any of them would ever even want to know if they were wrong (for the reasons I mentioned), and never would concede, no matter what, that terrible first error. And as long as that is the case, they will act so as to ensure that they will continue to be ignored.
Hi everyone (crickets chirping)
Since Dan Peterson seems to lament the lack of criticism (without seeming to understand why no one bothers to criticize, i.e., it's pointless), here is a little starter criticism.
Mormon apologetic arguments seem to proceed on the assumption that those who doubt that Mormonism is what it claims bear the burden of proof.
Here is why Mormons bear the burden of proof, not skeptics.
Foundational Mormon claims require us to believe that the laws of physics, as we know them and have always observed them to work without exception, have been violated. Moreover, the basis on which one is asked to believe those laws were violated is a mixture of personal testimonials and personal feelings. But not only have the laws of physics never before been shown to have been violated, but personal testimonials and feelings are inadequate ways of establishing any such thing. In other words, it is far more likely that physical laws were not violated, but that some people merely thought they were, than that they were in fact violated.
As an example, millions of people now have watched the magician Criss Angel on TV hypnotize people and make them float in mid air. The people standing right next to Criss are amazed; they see no wires, no mirrors, nothing. And we at home are similarly amazed. Many millions of us have "seen" someone levitate. We could all bear testimony that Criss Angel can make someone levitate. We have seen it with our own eyes. Does that make it so?
Which is more likely - that Criss Angel can suspend the workings of gravity, or that he is performing an illusion of some kind? If you're a devout, committed "angelist", Criss Angel has just proven he is a prophet, with access to the power of God, and a million witnesses become irrefutable proof that in fact President Angel can suspend gravity. And all the angelists therefore might start stating that all the skeptics out there bear the burden of proving that Criss Angel did NOT make someone float. But all of them would still be wrong, for the truth is, that it is far more likely that people can not levitate, than that they can, and under close inspection, in fact we would find that Criss Angel would fail every single critical test of his levitational powers.
So as a preliminary criticism, I might say that FARMS and all Mormon apologists ought to stop proceeding as though the world had the burden of proof just because they wish to believe they do, and concede at the outset that any person, including themselves, defending a claim which requires us to believe that the laws of physics have been violated, automatically and unavoidably bears the burden of proof in establishing that claim, for the simple reason that there is no good reason to believe that physical laws ever have been violated, and innumerable good reasons to believe they never have been, and never will be.
Rather than weaken a position which could hardly be weaker (so weak it is ignored by everyone on the planet but Mormons and recovering Mormons), I think this kind of concession would help start to attract some kind of attention to apologetic arguments. It would signal that Daniel Peterson isn't the guy at the conference on the paranormal alleging that even though some university students did make "many" crop circles, that that doesn't mean that aliens didn't make some of them, or one of them, and since the "alien creator" theory can't be ruled out, and he has felt strongly that aliens did make the crop circles, that the burden of proof is on all those who doubt the Alien Creator Theory. Literally, this is what Mormon apologetic arguments kind of boil down, and in the end, people just don't have time to seriously engage with people like this. True believers look askance at all of the most reliable methods of discovering truth, don't really explain why it is justified that they should, and then just start announcing "the truth" without any good arguments supporting it, as though out of charity they were giving all the "alien crop circle" or Mormon doubters a chance to accept the truth here in mortality...
Mormon apologists are defending something which most people believe is untrue. Because of this, Mormon apologists, if they wish to cease being ignored, MUST demonstrate that they would be willing to know if Mormonism weren't what it claims (one way of doing this is for them to propose how Mormonism could be falsified [and it must be falsifiable in that claims about physical reality constitute part of Mormonism]).
It often seems, however, that the FARMS folks have imbibed (without realizing?) Carl Schmitt-like attitudes about "struggle" (kampf) being pretty much the whole story of human society and activity. The story of man, the political animal, is the story of war, and all the story there should be. It is war for war's sake, and victory just because someone has to win and someone has to lose. I think this accounts for the tendency that some of us have noticed - that Mormon apologists just seem to want to argue, argue forever, just to argue...there seems no chance of them ever conceding that anyone else might be on to something about their most cherished beliefs. Life has become simply about fighting to keep on believing what they believe, rather than examining it, and then re-examining it, to see whether they really ought to have believed it in the first place.
The Hobbes-inspired Carl Schmitt/FARMS position is in the end a fundamentally anti-rationalist position. It is not the position of anyone who believes there is a truth independent of human wish, and who wishes to find it no matter how much damage that search may do to his ego and pocketbook. This attitude seems to render the question of the purpose of debate an absurdity, since the debate itself is the point, a contest of wills, life as a believing agent equalling war. But those whose attention FARMS might enjoy, for all their faults, seem to view debate not as an end in itself, but as a necessary means of achieving another goal altogether - namely, the acquisition of truth/discovery of reality. This discrepancy in attitude makes it very easy for non-Mormons to simply ignore Mormon apologetic arguments, rather than dissect them and reject them: the project seems totally pointless. And right now, it IS totally pointless.
I don't think there is anything apostate about conceding upfront that Mormons bear the burden of proof, nor do I think there is anything apostate about saying, "...and if I am wrong about Mormonism, I should like to know about it". Indeed, a number of prominent Mormons have expressed views rather similar to this, from Orson Pratt to J. Reuben Clark to Hugh B. Brown. So why not? Perhaps this might get the train rolling for FARMS.
For all I can tell, Daniel Peterson seems to regard himself as a modern Sisyphus, destined to keep repeating things over and over which he believes totally answer the skeptics of Mormonism. He seems to have no conception of why they don't, or why the same questions keep getting asked. Maybe a few key changes in approach might clear away some of the clouds and help him and other Mormons see how they could better defend the beliefs they are so committed to. Concede where the burden lies, and propose a sensible means of falsifying Mormonism (since even GBH concedes the possibility that it is "either a fraud, or it is not".)
Just a thought,
| (Another episode of the Exmos, in which a ten member former Mormon family tries to adjust to post cult life in a new city).
(Papa Bachman in kitchen. Phone rings. He spies Caller ID. It's Annette, the Jewish friend from the nearby island we just moved from. He pushes "talk".)
Annette: "Ha ha ha! How did you know it was me? Ha ha".
T: (Savouring for a moment, like young Joseph Smith, the thought that someone thought he possessed supernatural powers)
"I've got incredible 'Judar'".
T: "Yeah. It's like 'Gaydar', when you can sense if someone's homosexual. This is the ability to sense if there's someone Jewish around. I made up the word myself. It was nothing, really..." (blushes with pride). (About to blurt out really unfunny joke about my Judar capabilities being a result of my German ancestry, but stifle it).
Annette: "Well, listen. Is your wife around? I'm coming into town and I want to take her to the synagogue today for the New Year's service."
T: (Stifle further urge to adopt a George Wallace drawl and say: "Well, I don't know what the hell kinda calendar 'you people' think you're on, but around here, New Year's Day in in JANUARY".)
After agreeing to go, Tracy begins to freak out. "Look at this house - it's a mess. There are boxes everywhere. I can't go to this thing, I don't have time. I have to go to Home Depot. But I don't even know Annette's number. Can you call the mosque and leave a message?"
T: "The synagogue". Clearly this whole thing was unfamiliar territory to my wife, born and raised in Lancashire, England.
Tracy: "The synagogue I mean."
So then I think..."wait a second. My wife, just the other night, was talking about how hopeless it seemed being able to make new friends. 'People think I'm a loon when I tell them I have eight children', etc. This trip to the synagogue would be perfect for her. She's gotta go. But now she says she won't go, so she can go get some shelves or something at Home Depot. What am I supposed to do?"
I decided to steal the Explorer keys so she couldn't leave. The priesthood in action! "I know what's better for you, than you do, honey! Isn't that great?!" Still, I couldn't resist, further adding credence to the Louis Midgley theory of "You haven't really changed at all, Talmage Bachman". But who cares? My wife needs friends. So I stole the keys.
"Give me the keys! I need to go! I have to get shelves!"
T: "Not until you listen to me for thirty seconds".
Tracy: "Stop it! Hand them over! I'm going to be late!"
T: "Late to Home Depot? What, do you have an appointment?"
Finally she starts laughing. Good. Breakthrough. "I have to go! Fine, I'll listen to you".
She sat down next to me on the bench. Oh yeah. Now was my chance to exert some of my Luman Walters Joseph Smith mesmeric magic on her. I lowered my voice, like Milton Erickson (arcane hypnotism reference), soothingly, and started massaging her shoulders a bit. I figured I knew what she wanted - permission, absolution.
"Listen to me..." (rub shoulders)
"You don't really need to get shelves within the next hour, do you?"
"And we've been working awfully hard at getting this place together, haven't we?"
"And you need to get out and meet some people, don't you?"
"Yes...that feels good". (Keep rubbing)
"Tracy, it's okay if you go to the synagogue. I want you to go. You deserve time by yourself. I'll make sure the kids put all their stuff away when they get home from school. I want you to go and have a great time with Annette. You'll meet new people. Will you go?"
Bullseye. After the service, Tracy and Annette and Howard and their kids come over to our new place. We decide to order pizza. Howard orders a large Canadian bacon/sausage. I wondered if the rationalizaton process was the same one Mormons use while they're pounding down hamburgers and quaffing Cokes watching the (Sunday) Super Bowl. For the first time, though, I don't care. Who cares? Did the Creator of the universe really ban pork for all time?
That night, Tracy tells me about the service. "It was really moving. The rabbi talked a lot about how God is a God of peace and love, and they said a prayer for universal peace".
I nearly spat out my juice. I knew Dan Peterson would be with me on this one. "'Jehovah' a 'God of peace'?! Ha! I mean, I knew this place was a Reform synagogue, but I didn't know Reform meant so reformed that they don't even read their own scriptures anymore!". Right then I caught myself - I could tell I was spoiling the moment for Tracy (call it a hunch). I recovered.
"I mean, ahem, wow, cool. Yeah, world peace. It's, like, really, cool. That's really cool. Cool." I think I managed to smooth it over.
"Yes, it was really nice, and the people were really friendly. All the women loved Hawthorne" (our seven month old baby). "It's amazing how much deeper and touching non-Mormon religious services seem. I'm really glad I went. Thanks for convincing me to go."
"No problem". (Whew). "Maybe you'll be able to hook up with some of the ladies you met."
That was a couple of days ago. This morning Tracy asked if we could all go to the local Anglican church for the Canadian Thanksgiving ceremony. One boy was at his friend's house and three had rugby, but the rest of us went. I don't really feel any desire to go to any church now, but my wife wants social support and a moral environment, and the Anglican church is certainly far lower down on the BS scale than the Mormon church, so what the heck. This will be only the second time I've attended a church service since my last Sunday in the Mormon church (the other one was a Unitarian service in Vancouver).
Anyway, this church is small, very cozy. They had candles lit in the windows, and the priest and youth pastors were wearing white robes with crosses on the front. A couple of times there was a bit of a procession where the priests were carrying large scepters or something, and with those white robes, it looked strangely like a Ku Klux Klan rally. Scenes from D. W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation" flashed through my mind, and the tune from Billie Holiday's eerie "Strange Fruit" started playing in the back of my head...
The priest spoke. He had a Belfast accent. Figures. This guy's probably like Ian Paisly or something, I thought. All of a sudden I imagined him lapsing into a diatribe about how the Catholics were "breedin' like rabbits for the pope!". Then I remembered seeing Gerry Adams on the Larry King show after Clinton gave him that Visa, looking like the cat who'd just eaten the canary, and the dirty little smug mug of Martin McGuinness, and then Trimble and John Major and George Mitchell...
I should be focusing on this service, trying to absorb something uplifting, and I'm deconstructing the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Focus...focus...focus...
"Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow" (classic. Love it). Sing along.) Even though I'd had a tough time focusing, having detoured mentally into everything from George Lincoln Rockwell's American Nazi Party to the big prize being give to the Australian guy who figured out stomach ulcers were a bacterial infection to the recent defeat of the Red Sox, I still thought the service was more inspiring than a Mormon service. It turns out the priest wasn't like Ian Paisley at all. The service was pretty nice.
Thanksgiving Dinner at home. Nice. After dinner, a chance to get out in the neighbourhood and meet some of the kids' new friends, and maybe even their parents. Ashton got out the hockey gear, and his new friend, Philip, a bespectacled only child of Karen Carpenter-like thinness and delicacy, came along to play.
Philip insisted on being in goal, but wouldn't put on a mask. Ashton told him he'd better. Philip said, "I don't like masks". So, as I was the adult there, I said, "Philip, you'd better put the mask on. You could really get hurt".
"But I can't see when I have the mask on".
"At least you won't get hurt, though".
So, protesting about his blindness, he put the mask on. Right after he said ready, I snapped a wrist shot, which he couldn't see to block because of the mask he'd just put on, and the ball hit him right in the nuts. GAH!
Philip was laying on the concrete face down, moaning, his hands underneath, clutching his crotch. "I couldn't see...I couldn't see...oooohhhhhh...".
"Way to go, Dad", said Matthias.
"Hey, it was an accident, okay?! Philip, are you alright?...Philip?"
After a few minutes, Philip stood up, still shaken, and announced he didn't want to play goalie anymore. We decided instead to have a scrimmmage just firing on an open net.
My street hockey stick has a pretty fine curve on it, perfect for those Joe Sakic wrist shots, so after Philip and Ashton scored, I got the ball (one of those hard plastic orange hockey balls), spun around, and let a shot fly. But it turned out that Philip had moved right in front of the goal crease with his back toward me. He began to turn around right as the ball approached him, and, no lie, it hit him right square on the nose, knocking him backwards, blood spattering everywhere. NOT AGAIN! He staggers on to the nearby grass with his hands to face, bleeding, falls on to his knees, crying. "AAAHHHAAAA....MY NOSE....I CAN'T FEEL MY NOSE....WHAT'S HAPPENING TO ME?....I'm bleeding!..."
Tracy had just shown up with the little kids. Great, now I look like even more of an idiot. Tracy ordered Ashton to run get Kleenex from the house. We run over to where he is.
"Philip", she says. "Have you ever had a nosebleed before?"
"No..OWWWWWWW....MY NOSE....I'M BLEEDING!!!!"
For a second there I thought, "you've never had a nosebleed before? What kind of weird kid are you?", but I managed to remain silent and solicitous of his welfare.
"It's going to stop bleeding in a second, don't worry. Just tilt your head back".
Philip tilted his head back. "I can't feel my nose! Is it okay?! Are my glasses broken?"
"No, just bent".
"MY NOSE IS BENT?! OOOOHHH."
"No, your glasses, your glasses. Just calm down, it's going to be fine".
So, eager though we are to get off to a good start in our new neighbourhood, I met our new neighbours, Philip's parents, for the first time bringing home their crying, bleeding son, having nailed him first right in the penis and then right in the nose with a hard plastic hockey ball.
And when his mother asked me what had happened (to her only son), what else could I say? "I, um, well, it all happened so fast, but I spun around and shot and he was in the goal crease...and he was hit in the nose by the ball" (passive verb tense, i.e., "mistakes were made").
"Oh, it was you?"
"Yeah...sorry. I, he, it just.......sorry about that".
Then she said: "Philip hasn't had many adventures like this". The tone of her voice caught my ear. I thought for a moment I almost detected a kind of thrill in it, as though she was going to add, in an upper-class British accent (plum in her cheek with trilled r's), "I have long read of children who have such adventures, why, in novels by American authors such as those of Mark Twain, in which engagement in fisticuffs and other such raucous amusements is at times indulged in. There of course is also something of this even in our own marvelous Dickens. And now, at long last, such an adventure has come upon our own little Phillippe. Phillippe! Come show mother your wound! My, but you have had an *adventure*, haven't you? Yes, you have!".
But she didn't.
So, so far, two of my neighbours probably hate me, plus their kid, and I haven't really clicked big-time with anyone yet, though the soccer team guys are pretty nice. Fortunately, it looks like Tracy is starting to ease into things, as are the kids.
Out for now,
| The LDS church presents itself as being founded on true stories, and being the one, true church of Jesus Christ. In short, it claims to be about truth.
Before anyone begins discussing fossils and chiasmus and "reformed Egyptian" and facsimiles with LDS apologists, I suggest being really upfront with them at the beginning. Ask, "if, by some terrible chance, Joseph Smith hadn't told the truth about his experiences, would you want to know about it?".
Because the whole project of being a Mormon is supposedly about "the truth", there is absolutely no reason that I can imagine for a member not instantly answering, "yes, of course", to that question. If they do answer in this way, then some kind of rational conversation can probably ensue, as long as you sincerely feel the same way about your own conclusions.
But if, as you will probably find, your apologist penpal declines to answer this question, then, if my experience is anything to go by, you are wasting your time. If someone wouldn't want to know if they were wrong, then nothing you say matters, no amount of evidence matters, one hundred Ph.D's don't matter, and you are dealing with someone who has consciously chosen fantasy over fact, and for whom argument is merely a means of perpetuating belief in that fantasy. So why waste time serving as fodder for someone's willfully embraced delusions?
Just say, "Before we chat, I'd like to know if you'd even want to know if Joseph had invented his stories", and then go from there.
| It's funny. Now that I'm no longer a Mormon, I'm starting to hear things about how people perceive Mormons that I rarely did before.
One example: Today at McDonald's I got to chatting with a lady while our kids were going nuts in the play tube things. After about an hour, I mentioned that my wife and I had been Mormons. She went on to tell me that she found out a few years ago that an insurance company she and her husband had had some dealings with, had been quietly deducting money from her bank account each month. She had never given her consent for any such thing and was pretty mad. She began trying to track down some responsible party at the executive level to demand that the money, which she regarded as having been taken by fraud, be returned to her. She said this search left her frustrated, but she finally got hold of someone.
By the time she got them on the phone, she was furious at how vapid and dishonest the people she had spoken seemed to be, and she said that she blurted out to them, "This company must be run by Mormons, because no one else seems to do business like this". She found in fact that the insurance company was based in Salt Lake City and owned by the church (or run by Mormons, I don't remember exactly what she said). She then called them and said, "If I don't get back every penny of the money you took out of my account within the hour, I am going straight to the media". She said within the hour every penny was back into her account.
Her comments brought to mind a conversation I had with a fellow while still a TBM a few years ago, in which he said that he and his company had gotten involved with a business based in Utah staffed with Mormons, and that they had all gotten totally shafted by this company. He said, "they're brutal, totally corrupt. I found out later Utah's a horrible place to do business for just that reason". At the time it kind of got my back up.
One follow up: the lady I mentioned also said she had gotten a phone call one day from someone offering to send her free videos for the family. She asked them whether the videos came from a particular church, and she said that the girl on the phone never did admit that they came from any particular church, so she said, "Sure, no problem". Then when she got them, of course, they were from the Mormon church. She said she sent them back since she felt the church had been dishonest in presenting them ("Are you honest with your fellow man?"). She kept saying, "that is one screwed up cult". I almost said, "If you think the video pitch was screwed up, you should try logging on to the FARMS site one night", but I just kind of said, "Yeah...".
Anyway, all this has left me wondering about just what kind of reputation, if any, the church has among average Americans and Canadians. Other than the evangelicals, I always thought the church was fairly well-respected by normal people. Now I'm kind of wondering if I was wrong...
| A close relative of mind told me some months ago that even if there were no plates, God and Jesus didn't appear to Joseph, and Peter, James and John didn't appear either to bequeath the priesthood to him, that "the church would still be true".
Van Hale continues to proclaim that the church is true, despite acknowledging that the Book of Mormon is not a translation of an ancient record, which of course necessarily means that either he believes that the angel Moroni was lying, or that there was no angel Moroni and Joseph Smith was lying. Yet, "the church is still true".
LDS historian Davis Bitton delivers an essay in which he claims that a testimony of the church doesn't depend on a testimony of the history of the church, despite the fact that, given that the foundational events of the church ALL HAPPENED IN THE PAST, and thus exist under the category of "history", this is a logical impossibility. He even advocates playing mind games with yourself prior to reading church historical documents so as not to have your faith damaged, e.g., imagining the worst thing you could find out about Joseph before research so that you are always pleasantly surprised.
Daniel Peterson acknowledges that the Old Testament is a "re-imagination" of Israelite history by a later Israelite historian, despite the O.T. being a canonized portion of LDS scripture, and despite JS never proclaiming it as such though he produced an "inspired" revision of it (although Joseph, oddly considering his gargantuan sexual appetite, did take the opportunity of declaring that the Song of Solomon wasn't inspired scripture); but DCP will not acknowledge that another canonized portion of LDS scripture, the Pearl of Great Price, might likewise be a "re-imagination" of Abrahamic history, or the BOM a "re-imagination" of American history by a would-be American historian named Joseph Smith. All the more peculiar is that the only reason DCP acknowledges this about the OT is the voluminous evidence that it is, in fact, a "reimagination" - but the voluminous evidence weighing in favour of the BOM being a "re-imagination" of American history by a later American historian, and also in favour of the PGP beinga "re-imagination", have been rendered non-existent and therefore entirely untroubling to him. (Talk about the fallacy of "special reasoning"...).
So, "the church is still true".
Dallin Oaks twists hiself into pretzels trying to create rationales for believing mutually contradictory or flat-out bizarre church claims, and even once went so far as to claim that he would still believe if his superiors decided that the BOM wasn't to be considered historical anymore. So for Dallin, as for my relative, even if Joseph had lied about the BOM, "the church would still be true".
Both amateur and professional church defenders post messages on boards and send personal emails to guys like me which, almost without exception, make no sense, or as little I should say, as the rancourous ramblings of Nation of Islam defenders, right wing populist conspiracy theorists, alien-made crop circle believers, etc.
And rank and file members all throughout the church, like me for years, are creating the most absurd alternative realities in their minds in order to keep on believing in something which no one, not DCP nor Gordon Hinckley himself, can even explain coherently in the end, and which quite apart from external reality could never possibly be true given its many internal inconsistencies...
So my question is: At what point should people - not just within Mormonism, but in any group like it whose beliefs just, in the end, cannot sustain contact with reality but in which we are so emotionally invested we can't admit that to ourselves and so declare war on our own minds - kind of be considered officially nuts?
| A number of us have mentioned on here, over the months, the many ways in which contemporary Mormon defense efforts undermine the
very church they're trying to defend. In order to keep believing in one church claim, defenders ask us to employ reasoning which
torpedoes another fundamental church claim; yet, they don't seem to notice. |
One of these church-torpedoing theories is
promoted by John Sorenson, who, to hear amateur LDS apologists tell it, is a world-famous, highly respected archaeologist
responsible for the most spectacular developments in his field since Heinrich Schliemann started digging up Hissarlik and
discovered the lost city of Troy. (By the way, if there are any other Homer fans out there, check out amateur Robert
Bittlestone's new book on the archaeology of The Odyssey, entitled "Odysseus Unbound".)
Anyway, Dr. Sorenson is
probably best known for his Limited Geography Theory. While this theory requires us to believe that Joseph Smith was lying or
wrong when he told the saints that "there are no errors in the revelations I have given you", plus disbelieve explicit references
in the DandC and the BOM, which in turn pretty much torpedoes everything, Dr. Sorenson believes the LGT really helps facilitate
belief that Joseph's book is in fact, a work of historical non-fiction, and in turn, belief in Joseph's church. No problem there,
right? (Am I the only one who feels depressed reading men of such education make so little sense?).
And crucial to
Dr. Sorenson's theory (itself the result of a hemispheric theory torpedoed by - what else? - physical evidence) is the claim that
there were TWO Hill Cumorahs. Why, of course - rather like there was a spaceship trailing the Haley Bopp comet, but which
Marshall Applewhite's followers couldn't see because their telescopes were "defective"...
So for those interested,
here is the text of a letter from the First Presidency via F. Michael Watson (have to maintain some possibility of deniability in
the "one, true church").
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Office of the First Presidency
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150
October 16, 1990
Bishop Darrel L.
Oklahoma City Oklahoma South Stake
Moore, OK 73160
I have been asked to forward to you for acknowledgment and handling the enclosed copy of a letter to
President Gordon B. Hinckley from Ronnie Sparks of your ward. Brother Sparks inquired about the location of the Hill Cumorah
mentioned in the Book of Mormon, where the last battle between the Nephites and Lamanites took place.
has long maintained, as attested to by references in the writings of General Authorities, that the Hill Cumorah in western New
York state is the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon.
The Brethren appreciate your assistance in responding
to this inquiry, and asked that you convey to Brother Sparks their commendation for his gospel study.
F. Michael Watson
Secretary to the First Presidency
straight over to FARMS and read through the "two Cumorah" articles. See http://farms.byu.edu/results.php?st=1andq=two+cumorahs .
Now read over these, all of which are
totally in line with the comments from the First Presidency to the bishop above:
"The great and last battle, in which
several hundred thousand Nephites perished was on the hill Cumorah, the same hill from which the plates were taken by Joseph
Smith, the boy about whom I spoke to you the other evening." (Talk given by Apostle Orson Pratt, Feb. 11, 1872 Journal of
Discourses Vol. 14, pg. 331)
"We visited the Hill Cumorah
and were accorded the courtesy of going thereon by the wife of Mr. George Sampson, a brother of Admiral Wm. Sampson, who before
his death owned the property.....We were delighted to be there. Looking over the surrounding country we remembered that two great
races of people had wound up their existence in the vicinity, had fought their last fight, and that hundreds of thousands had
been slain within sight of that hill."(Elder George Albert Smith, Conference Report, April 1906, p.56)
"These records were carried
by Ether from the hill Ramah, afterwards called Cumorah, where the Jaredites were destroyed, as well as the Nephites." (Talk
given by Apostle Orson Pratt, May 18, 1873 Journal of Discourses Vol. 16, pg. 50
"Thirty-six years prior to
this time his nation was destroyed in what we term the State of New York, around about a hill, called by that people the Hill of
Cumorah, when many hundreds of thousands of the Nephites-men, women and children, fell, during the greatest battle that they had
had with the Lamanites." (Talk given by Apostle Orson Pratt, Aug. 25, 1878 Journal of Discourses Vol. 20, pg. 62)
"It will be, next Thursday
night, 54 years since the Prophet Joseph Smith, then but a lad, was permitted by the angel of the Lord to take the gold plates of
the Book of Mormon from the hill Cumorah, as it was called in ancient times, located in the State of New York. " (Talk given by
Apostle Orson Pratt, Sept. 18, 1881 Journal of Discourses Vol. 22, pg. 224)
"Finally, they became so
utterly wicked, so fully ripened for destruction, that one branch of the nation, called the Nephites, gathered their entire
people around the hill Cumorah, in the State of New York , in Ontario County; and the Lamanites, the opposite army, gathered by
millions in the same region. The two nations were four years in gathering their forces, during which no fighting took place; but
at the end of that time, having marshalled all their hosts, the fighting commenced, the Lamanites coming upon the Nephites, and
destroying all of them, except a very few, who had previously deserted over to the Lamanites." (Talk given by Apostle Orson
Pratt, April 6, 1874 Journal of Discourses Vol. 17, pg. 24)
"The passages which I have
quoted from the Book of Mormon and the more extended discussion of this subject by Elder B. H. Roberts which was published in The
Deseret News of March 3, 1928, definitely establish the following facts: That the Hill Cumorah, and the Hill Ramah are identical;
that it was around this hill that the armies of both the Jaredites and Nephites, fought their great last battles; that it was in
this hill that Mormon deposited all of the sacred records which had been entrusted to his care by Ammaron, except the abridgment
which he had made from the plates of Nephi, which were delivered into the hands of his' son, Moroni. We know positively that it
was in this hill that Moroni deposited the abridgment made by his father, and his own abridgment of the record of the Jaredites,
and that it was from this hill that Joseph Smith obtained possession of them. " (President Anthony W. Ivins, Conference Report,
April 1928-Morning Session)
"Cumorah, the artificial hill of north America, is well calculated to stand in this generation, as a monument of
marvelous works and wonders. Around that mount died millions of the Jaredites; yea, there ended one of the greatest nations of
this earth. In that day, her inhabitants spread from sea to sea, and enjoyed national greatness and glory, nearly fifteen hundred
years. -- That people forsook the Lord and died in wickedness. There, too, fell the Nephites, after they had forgotten the Lord
that bought them. There slept the records of age after age, for hundreds of years, even until the time of the Lord." (The
Latter-day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, Vol.2, No.2, p.221)
"The hill, which was known by one
division of the ancient peoples as Cumorah, by another as Ramah, is situated near Palmyra in the State of New York ." (Apostle
James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith , chapter 14)
"It is known that the Hill
Cumorah where the Nephites were destroyed is the hill where the Jaredites were also destroyed. This hill was known to the
Jaredites as Rama. It was approximately near to the waters of Ripliancum, which the Book of Ether says, "by interpretation, is
large, or to exceed all." Mormon adds: "And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our
tents round about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain
advantage over the Lamanites."
"It must be conceded that this description fits perfectly the land of Cumorah in New
York, as it has been known since the visitation of Moroni to the Prophet Joseph Smith, for the hill is in the proximity of the
Great Lakes and also in the land of many rivers and fountains. Moreover, the Prophet Joseph Smith himself is on record,
definitely declaring the present hill called Cumorah to be the exact hill spoken of in the Book of Mormon.
the fact that all of his associates from the beginning down have spoken of it as the identical hill where Mormon and Moroni hid
the records, must carry some weight. It is difficult for a reasonable person to believe that such men as Oliver Cowdery, Brigham
Young, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, David Whitmer, and many others, could speak frequently of the Spot where the Prophet Joseph
Smith obtained the plates as the Hill Cumorah, and not be corrected by the Prophet, if that were not the fact. That they did
speak of this hill in the days of the Prophet in this definite manner is an established record of history...." (Joseph Fielding
Smith, Doctrines of Salvation , Vol.3, Bookcraft, 1956, p.232-43.)
"In the western part of the state
of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the “hill Cumorah.” On July twenty-fifth of this year, as I stood on the
crest of that hill admiring with awe the breathtaking panorama which stretched out before me on every hand, my mind reverted to
the events which occurred in that vicinity some twenty-five centuries ago–events which brought to an end the great Jaredite
[Editor's Note: About 20 short paragraphs later this speaker says the following]
civilization to which I refer, the Nephites , flourished in America between 600 B.C. and A.D. 400. Their civilization came to an
end for the same reason, at the same place, and in the same manner as did the Jaredites’" (Talk given by President Marion G.
Romney in General Conference, October 4, 1975, Ensign Nov. 1975 pg. 35)
Apostle LeGrand Richards, in A
Marvelous Work and a Wonder, chapter 7, also stated that Cumorah is in New York.
"Both the Nephite and Jaredite
civilizations fought their final great wars of extinction at and near the Hill Cumorah (or Ramah as the Jaredites termed it),
which hill is located between Palmyra and Manchester in the western part of the State of New York.
Oliver Cowdery and many of the early brethren, who were familiar with all the circumstances attending the coming forth of the
Book of Mormon in this dispensation, have left us a pointed testimony as to the identity and location of Cumorah or
Ramah."(Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, page 174-175, Bookcraft 1966)
"This time it will have to do
with so important a matter as a war of extinction of two peoples, the Nephites and the Jaredites, on the self same battle site,
with the same 'hill' marking the axis of military movements. By the Nephites this 'hill' was called the 'Hill Cumorah,' by the
Jaredites the 'Hill Ramah'; it was that same 'hill,' in which the Nephite records were deposited by Mormon and Moroni, and from
which Joseph Smith obtained the Book of Mormon, therefore the 'Mormon Hill,' of today–since the coming forth of the Book of
Mormon–near Palmyra, New York. (B.H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.277)
"According to the Book of Mormon
the Hill Cumorah of the Nephites--the Ramah of the Jaredites--must be regarded as a natural monument overlooking ancient and
extensive battle fields. Around it early in the sixth century B.C., the Jaredites were destroyed. Here, also, a thousand years
later, at the dose of the fourth century A. D., the Nephites met with practical annihilation in a battle which, whether judged by
the importance of the changes it wrought in the affairs of one of the world's continents, or the number slain,a ranks as one of
the world's great battles. In view of these Book of Mormon facts one would naturally expect to find some evidences in this
section of the country for such wonderful historical events. Here one has a right to expect the evidences of military
fortifications; for, though a thousand years had elapsed between the destruction of the Nephites and the discovery of America by
the Europeans, still some military monuments would doubtless survive that length of time." (B.H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God,
Vol.3, Ch.34, p.67)
of the most noted places in ancient American history was the land in which was situated the hill known to the Jaredites as Ramah
and to the Nephites as Cumorah. In its vicinity two great races were exterminated; for it was there that the last battles were
fought in the history of both peoples. There also the sacred records of the Nephites found their final resting place." (Elder
George Reynolds, The Story of the Book of Mormon, Ch.69, p.325)
(These are from Norton's website). If these guys were
really preaching false doctrine, why is their ONE CUMORAH theory endorsed by the First Presidency letter above?
A few other differences between the amateur Heinrich Schliemann and John Sorenson: Schliemann's theories
about Troy and Agamemnon's palace bore fruit when, after a relatively minor effort at digging, he found both places; whereas
after 180 years and literally millions of dollars spent in all kinds of disciplines for thousands of scholars, using the most
advanced technologies, to piece together the history of the American continent, there is as much evidence that the Book of Mormon
describes actual people, places, and events, as there is that Queen Elizabeth II is a shape-shifting reptilian descended from
space aliens: none. (See David Icke's website for more info on the royal family's extra-terrestrial reptilian ancestors. http://www.davidicke.com/ And now that I think about it, stay tuned for a
satirical piece in which FARMS extends a formal offer to Icke to join the staff of FARMS).
One similarity, however, is
that both Schliemann and Sorenson both acknowledge an external reality which can be discovered, since if he didn't, Sorenson
would never have had to get behind an LGT in the first place. To believe otherwise would be to believe that even if thousands of
human bones had now been recovered from the Hill Cumorah in NY state, Egyptian-like etchings had been found on nearby rocks, and
all the DNA tests had come back positive for Israelite ancestry, that John Sorenson would STILL be saying "it all happened around
the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and nowhere else, and no one should ever have thought otherwise". And I daresay, not even the Mormon
lurkers reading this could believe suc a thing. Not even John Sorenson himself can. (And by the way, lurkers - why should YOU
ignore physical evidence in approaching and evaluating the BOM, when not even John Sorenson does?).
In your searches,
you could even go to some of the sites run by Christian organizations, who seem to have a special interest in things Mormon
because of their belief that Mormons will go to hell for believing in the wrong Jesus (whatever). Check out, for example, http://www.irr.org/mit/bomarch1.html .
But the best
thing would probably be to open up the BOM and DandC yourself, and read through all the applicable references, and then wonder why
Sorenson et al never adequately confront these obvious problems in any of their articles (that I've noticed, anyway). You can
find the LDS standard works at www.lds.org. In evaluating the anthropological implications of the LGT, pay special attention to
scriptures like DandC 19:27, II Nephi 30:3-6, etc. Also get a copy of The Encyclopedia of JS's Teachings, available at Deseret
Book, and start looking up things like "The Book of Mormon", "Lamanites", "Jews", etc.
Pres. Benson used to say that
people get the governments they deserve. Is it possible that churches get the apologetics they deserve? It must be completely
unbelievable, to anyone not emotionally dependent on the church being true, that any church which countenances such confusion and
contradiction could ever be "true". It's all the weirder since the same church's First Presidency is both affirming the One
Cumorah Theory, AND funding guys to promote the Two Cumorah Theory...
But in Mormonism, anything can become anything,
can't it? Black can equal white, and not equal white, and there not be any problem there (see Orwell's "1984").
| AP - Salt Lake City
LDS leaders today announced a change in their theology regarding pre-earth life.
"For decades, we taught that the reason blacks were black and inferior to whites was because they were less valiant than we were in the war in heaven", commented Pres. Boyd K. Packer. "But one question always bothered us - what about the Japs and Chinamen? Hence, the Lord has seen fit to give us a new proclamation".
The church's new "Proclamation on the War in Heaven" discusses pre-earth life among members of the planet's three main races: Caucasoid, Negroid, and Mongoloid. It explains for the first time the hitherto mysterious role played before birth by those born of Mongoloid descent. "As information has accumulated demonstrating that those of Mongoloid descent routinely outperform both Caucasoids and Negroids in IQ tests, so has the need increased for a theological explanation", said Packer. "It is kind of like how we had to change the Hemispheric Theory to the Limited Geography Theory once we found out the Hill Cumorah wasn't jam packed full of bones and swords and things. Well, what with all this oriental stuff we know now, we finally have an explanation".
The proclamation claims that before human life on earth, there was a gigantic, intra-galactic battle fought near a star called Kolob between an army captained by Jesus, and an army captained by his evil spirit brother, Lucifer. Those born of Negroid descent, while cheering for Jesus's side, functioned "little better than the crows on Dumbo", according to the proclamation, while "our own white and delightsome ancestors proudly fought as lions". "Our Mongoloid allies", continues the proclamation, "having a special facility for detail and mathematics, bravely coordinated logistics for our various sorties and expeditions over to Satan's territory. They were also heavily involved in code-breaking efforts. The Spirit has whispered that Lucifer had his own kind of Enigma machine like the Nazis invented, except it used audio recordings somehow, and Satan spoke in Navajo like on 'Windtalkers'. Without the Mongoloids, all would have been lost". As a result of their bravery, Mongoloids have been allowed to keep their superior mathematical and analytical skills during their "second estate".
The unexpected inclusion of Sasquatch in the proclamation has provoked acclaim by Mormons in southern Utah. "Ever since my great, great grandaddy Jacob Hamblin saw Bigfoot we wondered 'bout him", said DeFloyd R. Hamblin of Hurricane. "Well, now we know where he come from. He was Satan's main field general, kind of like Rommel 'cep' dumber, and that's why he got cursed s' bad".
Barry Gertsen of liberal Mormon magazine "Sunstone" complained that "this is just like the brethren: they focus on humanity's three great races, but never mention anything about less prominent, but no less important people: midgets, congenital unidexters, hermaphrodites, conjoined twins like Chang and Eng Bunker, pituitary gland explosions like Andre the Giant, blind deaf mutes like Helen Keller, and the Heinz 57 types like Tiger Woods or Nicole Ritchie. What about them? Why are they always left out? What did they do in the battle? This all seems really hierarchical to me".
"There are always critics", smiled Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley at the press conference. "They always have their say. But the Lord's work will continue. It cannot be stopped. It is his work."
In a related story, sources inside church headquarters confirmed that language holding a "Jewish cabal" responsible for the war in heaven was dropped after certain draft committee members lobbied for a "Muslim uprising" to be cited as the cause instead. Both sides compromised by dropping all references to either version of the story. "We all wound up pretty happy with the story just the way it is", concluded Elder Dallin H. Oaks. "We might have to tweak it here and there depending on the survival and growth needs of the church, but we think it will do for now. Maybe instead of Muslims or Jews, we can put something in about the J-Dubs instead. Who knows where it will go? That's the beauty of...'continuing revelation'".
There were a few things I wanted to make clear in my Exmo talk but didn't (I'm not that great a public speaker ha ha). So here they are, just so I can stop feeling a bit bad about not making them clear. Sorry for the blunt language.
1.) If the church is all it claims, then no sacrifice would be too great for it; but if it is not what it claims, then NO sacrifice ought to be made for it at all.
2.) If you have come to conclude that the church is a fraud, tell your children why. Stop deluding yourself, out of fear and emotional dependence on the thing, into thinking that a church which would rather see your kid come home dead from his mission, or see you go bankrupt partly because of your tithes, offerings, and time wasted on the thing while it blows billions on real estate and radio stations, really is "the best thing out there", and that you ought to just let them believe it "because it's good for them".
Can your kids hear good things taught at a Mormon church service? Of course. Does that justify lying through omission to your children because you've bought the cult scare tactics about them turning into drug addicts if they don't swear slavish obedience to some village magician's successor as president of a fraudulent "one, true church"? NO, mis amigos! De ninguna manera! (no way). You can hear "good things" pretty much ANYWHERE (I know this may be hard to believe for those born and raised in the church in Utah...); and there is absolutely no reason why good, true things need to be mixed up with nonsense which may actually be very harmful. Is it really so crazy to imagine that virtue is its own reward? Yes, if you're an active apostate, like one of these Sunstoner types who knows it's a fraud but just keeps wishing "the church would get with it" or whatever. One of the few straightforward things Gordon B. Hinckley has summoned the courage to emit in the past decade is this statement: "either it is a fraud, or it is not". And if it is, it ought to be treated as one.
Every day your child grows older constructing him or herself, and learning how to make sense of the world, on a completely fraudulent foundation, making all his/her most important decisions based on comments no more divinely inspired than those of Brian David Mitchell's, the more you set him or her up for crushing disappointment. Why do this? The sooner they find out, the easier it will be. So my opinion for what it's worth is, we do our jobs as parents and prepare our children for a happy, responsible life by ceasing to ape JS and GBH in letting them think a lie is the truth, and the truth is a lie.
I'm not saying we necessarily force our children to stop going. If we explain to our children why we believe that Santa's not real, but they still want to send letters to him, what are we going to do? But at least we will have done your part. Doesn't that make sense?
I'm completely sick of getting emails from people telling me how they just can't level with their children about the church because it will "upset them". Duh - of course it will upset them. Is there nothing worse than being upset for awhile? If your daughter's dating some guy you find out is a convicted felon, do you keep quiet because she'll be upset? Our children being upset is a lot better than them wasting the only life they have, that I know of, devoting themselves to a freakazoidal cult run by guys like the duplicitous Gordon Hinckley, the silly egomaniac Thomas Monson, and the odd, angry Elder Packer, who would probably rather see his own son dead, as Joseph Fielding Smith once said about his own sons, than acknowledge he was a homosexual?
Besides, the sooner kids know, the easier it will be for them to handle it. And would we keep it quiet if it meant our children getting killed for the thing? The odds are overwhelming that they never would have to die for the thing, but that isn't because missionaries still aren't serving in very dangerous places, and taking gross risks for it out of an exaggerated sense of invincibility.
But Gordon B. Hinckley did, and does, take that risk with the members; and because neither he nor any church leader will open the archives up for fear of "damaging" information getting out (what should there be to fear?), I regard them all as complicit in the murder or suffering of everyone who has paid a price for this church. Everyone who has ever stonewalled or obfuscated or outrightly lied for the thing is. The General Authorities all ought to be ashamed of themselves, demanding that members vow to be honest with their fellow men, when they don't even know the meaning of the word, and would rather see people dead than be so. The whole attitude is elitist, literally, to a potentially lethal degree. And these are the humble (salaried) servants of a man who supposedly gave HIS life for others, and who said "the truth shall make you free", and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? The sick truth is that Mormon leadership and apologists, in their allegiance to the organization over truth (however personally amiable they might be as individuals), make a mockery of the very man they claim as "the first Mormon". What a sick, unfunny joke.
We raised our children, with the best of intentions, in a cult, or cult-like organization, teaching them that the way to please us and win approval from their peers, was to get up in front of 200 people once a month, and LIE, by announcing that they "knew" something which they didn't know. We taught them to bear false witness, as did Elder Packer in his "Candle" monstrosity, to be dishonest with their fellow men, and that really sucks, and I say we ought to try to undo the damage by leveling with them now. And once we do, then let them make their own decisions.
3.) More broadly, and lastly, I remain completely unable to find any validity to the argument, first spun out by Plato and carried on in our own time by a few Straussians, Stalinists, Nazis, religious leaders, etc., that humans are so completely stupid as to require being force-fed consciously crafted lies to function healthily. But even if that were the case, I should say that no man has the right to presume that another requires lies; if lies really are necessary for life, then each man ought to, and presumably would very naturally, unconsciously create his own. And maybe we do anyway in some ways, even in the most liberal of environments.
But for us to consciously create a myth, or come to see a myth for what it is, and then, out of some sense of our superiority, some sense of our "right to rule because *we get it*", impose it on sincere others whose only crime is to trust us, is to take away their freedom, to bind them to us through fraud, to perpetuate our own advantage over them, to make war really upon our fellow man. It is to set them up for bitter disappointment once they come to see, like us, the myth for what it is. But this is rather like the attitude I sense in certain church leaders (and hear anecdotal evidence of). But it is just wrong.
And by the way, for Boyd K. Packer, who calls himself an apostle of Jesus Christ, to draw moral equivalence between not gratuitously insulting overweight church office building ladies, and withholding facts from people who are devoting their entire lives to a church based on claims those facts might disprove, really says a lot about how totally immoral Mormon (or other such organizations') "morality" can get.
I just can't see why truth should need lies to sustain it, and if someone can tell me why, I am happy to listen. Maybe there is something about the whole Mormon theory of "'truth' creation and management" I'm missing...
Out for now,
| When I was growing up, Mormon apologetics in general seemed to consist of a tight-lipped refusal to even acknowledge, nevermind argue with, the "anti-Mormons".
As a result, it was easy for the "anti-Mormons" to remain the devilish phantoms bent on "contention" that we knew them to be - shifty, insidious creatures, now totally devoted to destroying God's only true church, driven by Satan. And dishonest goofballs like Ed Decker, Walter Martin, and DeeJay Nelson, who seemed to be the closest things to incarnate versions of these phantoms, didn't help disabuse my notion of what "anti-Mormons" were all about. Their "arguments", at least as I ever heard them, seemed incredibly stupid and disingenuous. "The Godmakers", a movie I watched with some born again friends in high school, was a good example.
It actually felt great to be on a winning team, a team so important that the master of all the evil in the universe, Satan himself, had selected it especially (of course) for attack. The church was the stone cut out of the mountain, taking over the globe as the "fastest growing religion in the world", and Satan's sevants, the "antis", furious pathetic losers who denied the sun existed while they were staring at it, could only be crushed by us. We were big and strong; they were small and pathetic. We told the truth; but they were liars. We would win, and they would lose. We were good, and they were bad. YEAH. I laughed along with Brigham when he said, "Whenever you try to kick Mormonism, you just kick it upstairs". Victory was inevitable.
Then something started to happen. Or at least, I started to become aware of something I had never been aware of before. As dumb as born-again critics were, there was something problematic about Mormonism, at a level far more profound than I had ever imagined. For many of us, this awareness began a decade ago once Gordon B. Hinckley began publicly lying about fundamental church doctrine, never retracting his comments, but then laughing them off as though they didn't really matter - when people have died for this religion. For many of us, this triggered a kind of vague arousal from what later seemed like a kind of somnambulant state, a glimmer of awareness that would in turn allow for greater and greater awareness.
But those increasing glimmers of awareness were very scary; it was only natural then to turn to "official", salaried, apologetic geniuses, who now actually DID seem to acknowledge some of these problems, in order to smooth over that semi-awake sense of alarm and allow ourselves to go back to sleep. But when the heavyweights were at last seen to put on the gloves and enter into the lists with "enemies", a designation which scarily seemed actually to include things like "indisputable facts", their performance turned out to be as embarrasingly inadequate - indeed, dumb and sometimes seemingly disingenuous - as that of the born-again critics I had always thought we were superior to. How could that be, since we were in the one, true church? What did this mean? Mnemonic devices? Cryptograms? "How much does anyone really know about Egyptian"? "We just need to keep searching"? "It doesn't count because it wasn't written by Joseph personally"? "The word 'salamander' simply meant 'the holy ghost' back then"? "Those areonly trivial details"? "The author doesn't have a Ph.D"? "What you are really asking is...(change the question to make it easier to answer)"? "We have to put that on the shelf"? The double-talk, the off-topic pedantry, the obliviousness to what seemed like the only relevant questions...what was this? Was I insane?
I feel now a strange mixture of sadness, fascination, and a sense of justice being served, in seeing now how wrong I was, how wrong we all were. I once imagined the church could never lose; now I see it never can win. Without immediately deleting well-taken points and relevant questions, the FAIR board - all LDS/skeptical discussion, in fact - can only drive people out of the flattering psychological state necessary for continuing to believe in things which cannot withstand even the most cursory examination. But FAIR betrays their own sense of vulnerability in those very acts of conversation termination, which can only help achieve the same end of driving people sincere about the question, "what is true?", out of a church which isn't.
FARMS seems to think it helps render foundational church claims unfalsifiable by trying to appropriate academic theories positing the impossibility of accessing knowledge, never seeming to realize that their position itself entirely undermines the Mormon concept of a "testimony", thereby destroying Mormon belief in the act of trying to save it.
In the battle of Mormonism against Truth, a truth which it over and over again is forced to denigrate and massage and proclaim as "not very useful", the truth will win, and will win inevitably. There can be no ultimate victory for Mormon apologetics, simply because Joseph did not tell the truth, and that just cannot be undone, no matter how many men are put on the team, no matter how big the budget, no matter how great the trail of academic degrees. Treasures which don't exist, can't magically be pulled from the ground, despite Joseph's great desires to do so; and facts which don't exist, can't magically be pulled from thin air, despite Mormon apologists' great desires to do so.
The Book of Abraham simply is what it is - and what it is, is not what it is supposed to be, and no church member can change that. The fundamentals of Joseph's First Vision stories just can't be magically turned into "trivialities", nor can they be reconciled, simply because...they ARE fundamentals, and they ARE different. Joseph's lies about being forced by a sword-wielding angel to "marry" and have sex with, against his will, his own foster daughters, and the wives and young daughters of his friends, just CANNOT BE MADE TRUE. And the testimonials of eleven guys in trying to establish that the inviolable laws of physics were violated, just can't be made adequate to establish such a thing, anymore than can the many sincere testimonials "establishing" that Bob Marley was the reincarnation of Joseph in Egypt and had healing powers, that Ann Lee communed with angels, that people were abducted by aliens and had sex experiments performed on them, or that they saw Bigfoot can establish that those claims are true.
The one, true church would never have to rely on secret archives, silencing questioners, apologetic arguments characterized by ad hominem aspersions, non sequitirs, selective blindness, straw men, distraction tactics like lists of typographical errors and autobiographical digressions, and so forth. Sincere notions of truth are big and bold and brave, unafraid of being challenged, unafraid of being shown to be flawed, unafraid of discussion and critical examination. It is the Soviets and the Nazis and the apartheid regime and...the Mormons...who fear light and discussion and facts, fear exposure. It is only these closed systems, who sense their own vulnerability to truth detection exercises, who act so.
It is not wishful thinking, I don't think, to recognize now that Mormon apologetics, just like all apologetic efforts for frauds, is a project destined to fail. Conversation can only help expose the fraud; if conversation is terminated, fraud is increasingly suspected, leaing to the same end. And if that conversation is terminated, then apologists have just superannuated themselves, and the apologetics ceases to exist, so conversation is continued by them, but again to the detriment of foundational claims which can't withstand discussion, leading to more censorship, and so on, like a death spiral. Maybe I don't see something now which I ought to, but for the life of me, I cannot imagine how Mormon apologetics is anything other than an inevitable losing game.
| AP - Provo
Scholars based at Brigham Young University today announced a new theory to defend the Book of Mormon's claims about ancient America.
"The Book of Mormon only mentions one Hill Cumorah, as does Joseph Smith", said Professor Garloy P. Hendricks, director of Mormon research group FARMS. "The problem was that excavations at the hill in New York identified by Joseph Smith as Cumorah failed to uncover any trace of the two million people who supposedly died there a mere 1600 years ago. And that could only mean one thing - NOT that Joseph Smith had written the book himself, but that there had been TWO Cumorahs".
The most prominent Mormon defender of the Two Cumorahs Theory has been anthropologist John L. Sorenson. According to Sorenson, the second Hill Cumorah is located not in upstate New York, but in Mexico, in or near the Tuxtla Mountains. This theory, contradicting as it does the words of Mormon prophets and apostles, has increasingly come under fire by critics. Hendricks however continues to defend it.
"I have no doubt that John Sorenson's theory is true", remarked Hendricks, "even though excavation in southern Veracruz has also failed to uncover any evidence of any of the events, people, or places described by the Book of Mormon. But that in turn has led to a wonderful breakthrough in our understanding of the Book of Mormon - NOT that it was authored by Joseph, but there was not only just one Cumorah, nor just two, but THREE Cumorahs!".
When asked how the One Cumorah, Two Cumorahs, and Three Cumorahs theories could all be true when they all contradicted each other, Hendricks simply replied, "with God, nothing is impossible. Besides, I don't really see a problem there".
The Three Cumorahs Theory, or TCT, as propounded by Hendricks and his colleagues I. Bray Forluker and S. Nodefrum Burth, posits that the source record of the Book of Mormon - the so-called Golden Plates - was indeed recovered within New York's "Cumorah One", though they are not there now. It then argues that a fairly small area of Central America was in fact the "spiritual home" of the events, people, and places described by the Golden Plates, rather than the "physical home", and that "Cumorah Two" is thus merely the "spiritual" home of the final battle. "The fact is, there never was any reason for anyone to believe there was REALLY a giant battle in the Tuxtla mountains. A close reading of the text of the Book of Mormon, and of Sorenson's writing, makes it clear that Cumorah Two isn't the physical site of the battle at all, just the spiritual home".
Asked to elaborate, Hendricks remarked that "if, for example, Jewish people do something in New York City, the actual 'spiritual home' of the people, and what they just did, is across the Atlantic, in Israel. Something similar, we now know, is the case with the story of the Book of Mormon. So Sorenson's theory is still perfectly valid".
However, critics argue that a serious flaw in the Three Cumorahs Theory (the TCT) is that neither Hendricks nor his colleagues will actually specify any possible location for Cumorah Three. "If upstate New York was the home of the plates, and Central America is the 'spiritual' home of the story of the Book of Mormon, where actually is the real home?", asked Jack Daines, a founding editor of liberal Mormon magazine "New Delusions". "People and places and events, if they are real, actually have to exist physically, within the boundaries of time and space. Where is that space?".
Hendricks responded that neither he nor his colleagues had any obligation to pinpoint the actual physical setting of the Book of Mormon, since the burden of proof is on those who doubt the historicity of the Book of Mormon to prove it never happened anywhere. "The TCT stands on its own", said Hendricks. "And may I say that we have no desire to 'confine the sacred'. The Book of Mormon is scripture for everyone, everywhere, so in a real sense, it can be said to have happened, potentially, anywhere and everywhere, for everyone. Mormons therefore should have no fear about their faith in the Book of Mormon - with the TCT, it is safe forever".
In a related story, LDS apostle Dallin H. Oaks recently met with representatives of the Great Pumpkin Research Foundation to discuss joint apologetic efforts. "We anticipate a 'fruitful', ha ha, collaboration with members of the GPRF", said Oaks. "As Latter-day Saints, we are always interested in coming together with others with whom we share similar belief systems".
(If one Cumorah can become two Cumorahs, is it really so crazy to imagine that within the loonar world of Mormonism, two of them can become three?).
| I wanted to respond again to the post started by Steve regarding "jockeying for status", but it was closed.
I just want to say for the record that perhaps the reason my "huh" didn't fool Steve is because it wasn't meant to. I was genuinely surprised by his post.
All my jokes about it aside, the thought of there actually being some sort of real contest or jockeying for status on here makes me want to vomit. I couldn't care less what "place" anyone has, whatever that's supposed to mean. The reason I post a lot on here has nothing to do with any particular poster, but is mostly attributable to the fact that I'm sitting here writing songs that, given the cesspool-like state of the record industry, no one will probably ever hear, and that I'm supposed to send out to my *^and%$ record company so they can say, "nope, not quite", and I often get stuck on lyrics. So I hop over here when I'm stuck and blast something out.
Steve Benson's posts continue to fascinate me, especially since I idolized Ezra for years, and I thought this board really suffered when he wasn't posting here.
If there ever is any kind of ranking on here, I think I belong in the special slot reserved for fathers who would have handed their scared fourteen year old daughters over to "the prophet" or shot innocent children under flag of truce at Mountain Meadows out of devotion to the cult - dead last.
If Steve's reading this, let's forget this. I barely even know what we're talking about and I literally couldn't care less about ranking or jockeying; outside of my necessitated responses to the troll Logic Chopper's references to this a few months ago, this doesn't even exist as a topic for me.
The only genuine contest I know of on here is the one within each of us as we try to transition from being freakazoidal cult zombies into healthy human beings.
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