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Highest Reputation Content
Posted DonBradley on 12 July 2012 - 12:30 AM
The day that is just ending for me is the two-year anniversary of my rebaptism into the Church.
After two years I continue to be amazed at how my life has unfolded and at how warmly I have been embraced by both the Church institutionally and by my fellow Saints.
When I posted about my return here two years ago, the outpouring of something like 150-200 "welcome back" messages left me just overwhelmed.
I had long thought that I could never come back--never reembrace my faith and return to the Church. Then, even when I realized my mistake in abandoning my faith and leaving the Church, I was afraid I might have barred the door behind me. I had written some harsh things in my resignation letter, and had littered the Internet with evidence of my disaffection. This fear was, of course, unreasonable. As the bishop who helped me back said to me in our first meeting, "If the Church couldn't forgive, it wouldn't be Christ's church." My final fear, though, was that I was not be truly accepted--that it would also be to some people in the Church as if I was tarnished, or as if I had emblazoned on my chest a scarlet letter "A" for "apostate."
What has amazed me is not merely that these fears never materialized, but things have gone better than I could possibly have hoped. When I returned to the Church, I had no doubt that this was what God wanted of me and that the Church and the restored Gospel could lead me to Him. But there were some important issues of doctrine and faith that were question marks in my mind. As time has passed, I have continued to find myself firmer and firmer in the faith. I have a testimony of things I once "knew" I could never believe again. My testimony is purer and stronger for the refiner's fire it has passed through. And it is still growing.
Last fall I received a restoration of blessings--an incredibly beautiful experience that restored my priesthood and temple blessings. In it, I was told that the Lord would remember my sins no more. And once this restoration is done, the member's local church record shows all his or her original ordinance dates: all evidence that he or she had ever been out of the Church is simply wiped away.
Not only have I been accepted again by the Church and my fellow Saints, I have been embraced--and put to work. Only five months after my rebaptism, the Church Historical Department--knowing full well about my years outside the Church--invited me to do a full-time half-year internship at the Joseph Smith Papers. Soon after that I presented at the FAIR Conference on the Kinderhook plates. And this year, I'll be presenting again, on the lost 116 pages.
No one--not at the CHD, not here, not my wards, not among the Church members I meet all over--seems to hold it against me that I at one time left the Church and spent nearly five years as a sometimes critical and occasionally irreverent nonbeliever. No one.
When I consider what a huge thing it is for someone to leave the Church, I find it absolutely astonishing and overwhelming to find that completely forgiven. It is as if it never happened.
This has been and continues to be one of the most profoundly moving experiences of my life, and I cannot begin to express what it means to me and how grateful I am to be counted among such good, good people as the Latter-day Saints.
Posted Pandorian on 08 April 2013 - 12:11 PM
I am a returned missionary, married in temple, etc., who after doing some research on the Church a while ago, ie., about 10-15 years ago, went through a very serious period of apostasy. I was a frequent poster on that OTHER BOARD of some repute.. I went through a period of full disbelief and had come to believe that the guys who lead the church were the most evil people that even existed. These guys would not give a second thought to feeding their own child to cannibals if it would get them a better paycheck. I hated and despised these guys. They were liars, they were thieves, and they were cheats. Members of the church were delusional zombies who would fall for any sort of crap. No more evil had been foisted on the good people of the planet then by Joseph Smith...you get the idea.
The ONLY thing that kept me IN the Church was the threat from my wife that if I left, she was gone. So I spent MANY years in misery attending the church KNOWING it was false...much like Grant Palmer has supposedly said regarding an anonymous 70 and a mission president.
During this time though, I had some experiences that changed my thinking and slowly moved me back to full belief in my miserable activity.
House flood and I lost my job within a month. Who was there to help pick up the pieces...the church.
Went through various other problems. Who was there for me? the church.
So I slowly started doing a more prayerful study of LDS teaching and tried to come at it by an angle of openness and not a mindset that these guys were trying to put one over on me. So I was reading Church, and apologist stuff, and also reading at the same time the anti-mormon stuff I had read for years, and was still 'kind' of participating with that group online.
I was really confused. There were many things the church taught that I 'liked' intellectually, and seemed reasonable, but by gosh...the founders were completely evil and only put on sheepskin to hide their nefarious true selves.
The real struggle occurred when they asked me to serve with my Bishopric as an assistant and attend Ward Council. One part of me was saying "these guys are trying to play Masters Of the Universe' and interfere in peoples lives where they had no business to, while another side of me said...well, it looks like they are really concerned and care and are trying to help. Seeing the Bishop cry over the trials people were having, and his real concern were also an eyeopener. Also seeing the Stake President at the gym come up and personally great me and other members of the stake, and trying to get to know everyone personally was touching as well.
So one day I wasn't feeling all up to going to church and like I said I was very confused by it all. When you get right down to it, there is enough information to prove the church is completely false, and enough information to prove it is completely true. You can go either way depending on what you want.
I just couldn't continue like this though. I either had to be HOT or COLD. So I figured I would do like Joseph Smith said and ask God (now don't laugh)
So I went for a drive, found a nice clearing in the woods..we have lots of them here, and knelt down to pray. And lets just say I haven't had a problem with things since. That was 6 months ago, and this is the most peace my mind has had FOR YEARS.
Okay so now for my observations on conference. For the first time in my life I attended conference in person at the Saturday Morning Session. Got tickets from the stake and made a 20 hour drive from home to Salt Lake City. So these observations are MY impressions from seeing all the BACKGROUND stuff that one sees when one is there, and not watching it on Television or listening to the radio.
(these will be random as I think of them)
1. That conference center is huge. It's like a baseball stadium. How many people does it hold, like 20000 or more? Never seen so many members in one place at one time.
2. All the parking and lining up are very coordinated for the maximum efficiency of getting large amounts of people in and out.
3. People of all varieties and all types, not just WHITE MALES. I saw people from every culture on earth. Some must have come much further than I did. I boggles the mind to think that with all those people, this is just a tiny drop, because when you come from an area where a ward barely has a hundred people, and many struggling branches, you don't realize all these members are there.
4. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sounds MUCH better in person then it does on CD. You just don't get the acoustical qualities you do when listening in person.
5. Wow, there sure is a lot of security. Now I will be honest, that did make me do some questioning about all the security and the police, etc.
6. Standing when the Prophet walked in. I know it's a sign of respect and reverence, but it did have my...'why is he so much better than me?' thoughts going.
7. Boy do the panhandlers come out in force, as well as protesters (I have probably talked online with some of the protesters, and if we gave our handles to each other, they would be shocked that it was ME going in there)
8. You could see the REAL hate that these people had, much like I did for the prophet and his GAs. Thus the need for the security. These men are marked if some lunatic like Sandy Hook guy were able to get through. I am surprised actually that a massacre HASN'T happened. I KNOW how I thought and felt, but of course I had control of my actions in that respect. I don't like Obama at all, but he is our duly elected President. But you get someone off the hinges, and yes, there could be trouble. (wasn't there an incident involving Hunter a few years back?)
9. As I saw the GAs, the apostles, etc., walking in, I saw them warmly greeting each other, shaking hands and giving hugs. I saw Bednar motion to someone near the front who came up and warmly greeted each other. I saw all the 12 warmly greeting each other.
10. When they gave their talks, and I saw it on the big screen and also saw it down below, I didn't feel like they were using the teleprompters as crutches and reading. I felt that they had worked had to come up with their speeches and had practiced hard. I felt like they really had BEEN prayerful in choosing their topics.
11. I really FELT the spirit strongly when Packer gave his talk, though he is one of the most hated and reviled of the apostles. I FELT that he believed and knew what he was saying and that he wasn't trying to put anything over on anybody, nor dupe anyone in anyway. I didn't think ANY of them were trying to put anything over on me or lie, so they are either the most skilled speaking liars ever, or what they said, they felt was the truth. I have worked in sales, and can sense when someone is trying to put one over on me...(at least I hope this has given me some advantage)
12. A further thing regarding Packer, because it really did touch me is this. IF he was LYING, and IF he KNOWS the church is FALSE...then by GOSH...HE'S THE BEST GD LIAR I HAVE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE. I would have bought a car from that man if he were trying to sell me an obvious jalopy.
1. Either Boyd K. Packer is currently the best liar on Earth, or 2. He is what he claims to be.
13. I also got the feeling that he isn't long for this world, AND if the Church is false, and he KNOWS it, he would have been in the BEST position to spill the beans right there.
Just some thoughts from an anonymous former apostate.
Posted Bsix on 06 July 2012 - 04:12 PM
Whenever I'd drive into Salt Lake City, I would glance over and look for the historic monument that sits at the top of this small peak overlooking the Salt Lake Valley. It looks like hardly more than a dot from the I-15 freeway. More than once, I recounted the history of Ensign Peak and told my family that we needed to visit.
Ensign Peak is a small bluff overlooking the Salt Lake Valley. It is just over a mile high in elevation. Two days after the Pioneers arrived in the Valley; it was climbed by Brigham Young and others to scout out the valley. Moved at the view, the Peak fulfilled prophetic vision and meaning. In years to come, it is said to be a place of temple endowments, visions, and a symbol of the refuge of the Lord. At the valley floor base of this mountain the Saints erected the Salt Lake Temple. Read more: "A Banner is Unfurled: Mormonism's Ensign Peak."
Dialogue, Journal of Mormon Thought.
Imagine my surprise when this week, Ensign Peak was in the news. It was the location of one of those semi-regular 'mass resignations' from the LDS Church organized by those disillusioned and critical of the LDS Church.
Salt Lake Tribune:Mormon group quits LDS Church en masse
The mass resignation was attended by all the usual antiMormon fanfare and media hype. Reportedly, about 120 people attended the event with small group actually delivering their letters of resignation. They carried protest signs, talked the LDS Church down, and declared their "freedom."
Good for them. I don't think anyone should be a member of the Church that doesn't agree with the doctrines and policies. If they aren't happy, I think it is great that they continue their journey somewhere else. I wish these folks peace and happiness. I hope they can deal with whatever angst and hatred many seem to harbor.
The coincidence of Ensign Peak touching my heart lately and it being the place of antiMormon protest struck me as an opportunity to take care of something that I have been pondering lately.
I am incredibly happy in the Church. I converted over 35 years ago. Today, more than ever, I feel the blessings of the Lord in my life. I am blessed to have the Spirit guiding me. I feel the hand of the Lord in helping me through challenges. In short, I am the complete opposite of the group of protesters who visited Ensign Peak to denounce the Lord's Church.
So this morning, I made my own trek up Ensign Peak. I didn't go to resign my membership. Rather, I went to personally, and privately 're-sign' my membership in the Church. I took the trek up to the peak to recommit to the Lord and his Church.
I was surprised. I thought that on a weekday morning, I'd be alone. But there were dozens of people climbing the peak. Most, if not all appeared to be happy Latter Day Saints. At the Peak, some were singing LDS hymns from hymnals. It seems the Peak is an active place of faithful affirmation.
While it seems that the mass resignation is an event that does represent the frustration of some...it seemed overshadowed by the unpublicized acts of faith commitment of countless happy Mormons.
As I walked down the hill, it occurred to me that the message of Ensign Peak for me...is that there have always be those who are discontented in the Gospel. The community of Latter Day Saints will face challenges from within and without. But the faithful will always answer the call of the Lord.
Ensign Peak, still a standard to the nations.
Posted Kevin Christensen on 21 June 2012 - 08:04 AM
Around a year later, a church member shared Nibley's An Approach to the Book of Mormon. When I got home, I began tracking all things Nibley that I could find, which was harder in those days. When I started going through the back issues of the Improvement Era and Ensign that we had in the basement, it came as an enlightening shock to see how much good stuff had come into the house that I had never thought about, never given so much as a glance. I could walk through Deseret book and come away with Brooks on the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Taylor on post Manifesto Polygamy, and Backman on the First Vision, and many other important texts. This clear evidence of my personal irresponsiblility remains one of the reasons why I've never succumbed to the Victimhood model so popular at Mormon Stories. Good stuff was there for the asking, sitting around waiting to be picked up. Once I got personally interested in the treasures, the hunt was both exciting and continually rewarding. While locating all the issues with the Abraham materials, I noticed Richard L. Anderson's series on the Witnesses, and Allen's 1970 article on the First Vision accounts. While tracking down Nibley's essay's in Dialogue and BYU Studies, I ran across other important materials. While reading such things, I came across references to other authors and articles, in and out of the church that I found helpful. I gathered up Mormon Miscellaneous Materials, and Eugene Seaich's books. I started reading Sunstone. The lesson was that while the institutional materials had limits, the membership, the assembly of Saints who are in my conception, the real Church itself, there were bright scholars who were exploring and wrestling with the difficult questions and were quite eager to share everything they found. I'd just about exhausted all of the library stacks, and used books stores, when FARMS started up. That was heady and exciting, initially dominated by Nibley, but a trickle, then a stream of other contributors started in. With the founding of the Review, and Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, access to the good stuff became easy and wonderful and the range of expertise and insight became thrilling to behold. I'm most grateful to see that both the quality and quantify of the Good stuff has multiplied exponentially over the years. While I had to resort to leg work in the 1970s, it's also true that I could resort to leg work because I lived near Salt Lake City. Now, anyone with a computer and an interest can easily find far more helpful information and enlightening perspectives on thousands of LDS issues. I started exploring by a stream in a desert, and followed it to rivers, and seas.
I've got every issue of the Review, and every issue of the Journal, and many books and articles published by FARMS. Even though I've been published a dozen times, it was never as an organizational insider, but a reader sending offerings from a distance. I've been grateful for the knowledge and light that has come through the institute. I've occasionally read something in an article in the Review that I have disagreed with, but as I have read every article, I've always had the perspective to distinguish the typical from the exception, the individual voice from the range of diverse voices.
But rivers change the landscape that they nurture and are subject to other natural forces as well. All things flow, and the river is never the same river twice, as the Greek says.
I thank Dr. Peterson for changing the landscape, and nurturing faith while doing so. If the river flows differently, I trust it will still flow, and where it flows, as I learned as child, the grass grows greener still.
I don't expect those critical of apologetics will ever realize that freedom of speech is not the same thing as freedom from speech. Publishing only that which pleases the critics is a simple matter of deferring to them in all things, and letting them define the methods, problem field, standards of solution, and letting them decide which examples we notice and value and generalize from. Just how well that nurtures faith in a hostile environment is not difficult to imagine. I only have to think back on how well prepared I was to face a bunch of middle school students whose first knowledge of Mormonism was provided not by two missionaries, but by hostile critics. Surrender and assimilation is one road to peace, if it is a price one is willing to pay. We can avoid controversy by trusting our case to the objectivity of the prosecution.
Pure knowledge, we are told, greatly enlarges the soul. If we ever feel our souls contracting towards anyone else, I believe it a sure indication that the knowledge involved is not pure. I hope the Institute can still provide important light and knowledge. I still intend to seek light and knowledge where ever it can be found, to seek the best books, where ever they are.
Posted Mudcat on 30 October 2011 - 06:10 PM
In early Summer we helped put on a fundraiser to help her pay for experimental medication, because insurance would not cover it. We managed to raise 35K for her and the "gamma knife" and new chemo seemed to be working surprisingly well. We found a bit of hope for her, when we thought hope was lost. But mid-week last week the doctors took her off the chemo because is was killing her. The had a new strategy, but she collapsed Friday evening and they could not bring her back. She wanted to live for her kids and her husbands sake. She was a brave fighter.. for sure.
The community knew her well, she was an elementary teacher and many showed up at the funeral home to pay their respects to the family. It took us 3 hours to make it through the line.
Immediately in front of us was a young pastor and ahead of him were some good friends of my father (EVs). We had been making our way through the line for about an hour and a half, making what small talk we could given the circumstances. My fathers friends started talking about something funny my dad did when they all took a trip to the Holy land together. He is a character/prankster/life of the party kind of guy... they were all eating in a restaurant by the Sea of Galilee when a number of the trip goers saw some fellow swimming in the Sea of Galilee... It was really cold and they were talking about what a nut that guy must be, until they realized my dad wasn't with their party and was the guy in water. lol...
The young pastor (Brother X) had been to the Holy land as well and chimed into the conversation with us. He then started talking about different locations he had visited and made special note that there were some places where the Catholics noted were where things happened to Christ and that this was a difference from where the Christians believed they occurred. Well, one of dad's friends remarked to that incendiary comment, that they didn't know Catholics weren't Christians.
Behind us by a few a people was a wonderful Catholic couple we know and he was speaking loudly enough for them to hear.
Brother X replied something to the effect. "Oh yes, they are no different than the Mormons, they follow the Pope rather than the Bible in the same way the Mormons follow JS."
I was beyond angry with his words.
My father's friends shot me a side long glance to us at this comment, they know my wife well, know her beliefs and knew it was hurtful to her.
Immediately, before the fellow could continue, I said calmly. "Brother X can I have a word with you for a moment."
By the look of his face, he knew something was amiss and said. "Yes."
We stepped aside from the line and I put my arm around him and spoke to his ear. "Bother X, I want you to know that a few couples behind me is a wonderful Catholic couple who would likely find your comments about the status of their Christianity quite hurtful at such a time."
He whispered back, "Oh, I understand."
I replied, "No there is more to it. My wife who stands with me is a Mormon, she is one of the closest friends the deceased had. They went to school together all their lives and maintained their friendship to the end. To have you berate her Christianity is beyond offense to me. I disagree with you on your statements about Catholics and Mormons, but this isn't the place or time for such a debate any more than you choosing a hallway in funeral for a pulpit for you misguided views was."
I continued, "I have never been a man prone to force, but you are not worthy to be in the presence of my wife. I suggest you find a way to remedy the situation before I feel led to do so." (At least that is the G rated "forum friendly" version of my closing statement )
I released my embrace (quite a tight one I imagine, I was to stirred up to notice) and stepped back in line.
Brother X commented that he needed to find the restroom and left.. though he took a place at the rear of the line afterwards.
I am thankful my wife somehow missed the comment while dealing with her own grief. I had hoped the Catholics had missed it, as well. But the husband, a bud of mine, sent me a text later that evening "Tks man."
I suppose I could go on about how tacky, wrong and so forth the young pastor was. It just sucks when somebody who claims the same religion you have acts like doof wad.
Despite my agreement with EV doctrine, I am continually disappointed with the lack of ecumenism and the polarization against other Christians of many of the outspoken members. It is this sort of thing that causes such friction between fellow believers in Christ and IMO it is totally unnecessary.
I just wanted to get that off my chest. MD&D SH is where I usually vent, when I need to. Thanks.
Posted JeremyOrbe-Smith on 28 February 2013 - 10:17 PM
I say we drop the pseudo-scientific pose of "objectivity" that "scholarship" has tried to appropriate with its sad physics-envy and just admit that one of the benefits of human perception and communication is subjectivity, which implies the rather glorious notion that some people can catch stuff that others miss despite the fact that neither one of them is stupid or deluded.
If we look at it through one lens, this piece can be interpreted as a biased partisan apologetic defense for "scholarship". Look through another lens, and it's a balanced, fair-minded piece of scholarship on the topic of apologetics. Linguistic labels are not necessarily mutually-exclusive, and, like the ethnic insult, they are almost infinitely interchangeable. Calling certain kinds of scholarship "bad" (or whatever synonym is acceptable as criticism) is a biased, non-objective value judgment! Does that refute the very argument it attempts to make?
What we should be striving for is an attempt -- inevitable unsuccessful -- at fairness; not a smarmy fake Fox News sort of thing that is really just a semantic justification for an underlying lack of fairness, nor a scientistic pose of "objectivity" which tries to clothe mere arbitrary opinion and subjective selection of sources under the aegis of the unimpeachable pristine Sacred Garment of the white lab coat.
Rigorous self-criticism and questioning -- "critical thought" -- is not exclusive to either "scholarship" or "apologetics", nor uniformly present or absent in either, and certainly should not be confined to a mere subset of our mortal endeavors. Let's train ourselves so that our subjective bias is towards rigorously presenting as much relevant evidence from as many angles and perspectives as possible! We can't divorce value statements from our linear linguistic constructions of causality, if for no other reason than the fact that we have to select some sound-symbols as being more valuable to speak or write than others.
(Or not. There is always place for surreal nonsense and Jabberwockies to come whiffling through the tulgey wood all a'burbled. Gooble mick speezle frumm!)
This snippet here is extremely important:
Note that this is not waffling, this is not equivocation, this is not any of the derogatory sounds people may label the idea with to try to exclude it from conversation. This is recognizing subtlety and nuance, insofar as we have perceived such things. One might disagree that there is such nuance and subtlety in the source material, but that's not the point. I too agreed with some of Smith's criticisms and found others very lacking in substance; I agree with Dehlin on some things, too, and yet disagree with many, many, many of the arguments he's put forth. I think Brigham Young said some of the stupidest, most offensive and downright wrong things I've ever read; at the same time, I also consider him to be a brilliant thinker and a good man. This is not incoherent, this is not mystical paradox, this is simply recognizing the idea that Life Is Complicated.
We can acknowledge good points (as we see them) in others (ie, those we name as our "opponents" when we give in to the "playing field" or "war" metaphors that are essentially indistinguishable in structure). We can aknowledge that although we may agree with others in substantial ways, that does not imply uniformity of thought. (And perhaps we can even allow for the possibility that those on "the other team" might have attained a comparable level of that same basic sophistication.)
If I agree with some of Dehlin's well-meaning intentions, does that imply that I should not contradict what I view through my subjective biases as being the unfair and poorly-informed narrative he constructed about Mopologetic arguments with Michael Coe? If I disagree with some Conservative politics, does that make me appreciate Dan Peterson's substantial contributions to Mormon studies less? If I disagree with Orson Scott Card on gay marriage, does that mean I have to call for a boycott to deprive him of his living?
If I am in perfect agreement with someone on any number of important issues, should I refrain from disputing what I see as an unnecessary false dichotomy, especially when the slightest sign of disunity on one "team" is taken by an "opposing" "team" as evidence of inevitable schism and controversy and partisan politics and back-biting and factions which tend to lead to pages and pages and pages of pointless gossiping about base motives and insulting characterizations of opposing "sides" which exist nowhere except in our own minds but are no less real in their effects in the wider world for that?
I certainly yet subjectively hope not.
Posted Daniel Peterson on 08 April 2013 - 10:06 AM
I've met and interacted with all of the Twelve and the First Presidency -- with some, of course, more than others. (I chatted with one of them on Saturday between conference sessions.) I've been in the homes of two of them (most recently, on Saturday). I served on a committee chaired by then-Elder Uchtdorf; I knew Elder Maxwell fairly well. I've spoken on programs on both American coasts and in England with Elders Maxwell and Holland. I've known Elder Holland since well before he was even a Seventy. I don't want to exaggerate: I don't pal around with them every Saturday, but at least two of them call me by my first name. (Elder Maxwell always did.) I've spent some time, at least, with Elder Maxwell's widow and one of the most senior current apostles' wives, and I know several apostles' children pretty well.
I'm not saying this to boast.
I'm just saying that, if these men are/were unbelievers, I'm a leprechaun. In their private conversations and in their families as in their public statements, they come across as utterly sincere and completely faithful.
Posted Bill Hamblin on 08 March 2013 - 05:57 PM
To the bastards on the bedlam board, enough is enough. Your years of inflammatory rhetoric have paid off. There are many emotionally disturbed individuals who read you board, and your incendiary attacks incite bad behavior. If you don't stop talking about Dan completely and absolutely legal action may be the only recourse.
Personally I hope it does go to the lawyers. Legal discovery will be fascinating.
Posted David Bokovoy on 23 June 2012 - 03:28 PM
Speaking personally, over the years, I've especially felt the loss of FARMS' Journal of Book of Mormon Studies as edited by Stephen Ricks, and John Sorenson. I'll confess that this has been somewhat of a personal loss for me, in the sense that the scholarship and articles it originally published were what inspired me to pursue my graduate work in the first place and by which I've patterned my own writings, including that little book I put together several years ago with Tvedtnes.
By design, the current Maxwell journal that has taken its place is both non-academic and non-specialized. I hate to make this sound personal, but over the years, those in charge of the journal have solicited articles from me, only to turn them down because they were not written for an "early morning seminary teacher audience." In sharing this information, I'm not trying to be critical, because as a professional religious instructor myself, I sincerely appreciate what they're trying to accomplish. But in my estimation, this transition has left a serious void.
I spoke with Dan about this several years ago, and he shared with me that he, Lou, and George agreed with my assessment, which is why they were beginning to place Journal of Book of Mormon Studies type articles in the Review. This was wonderful while it lasted, but clearly now this will no longer take place, since as I understand it, the Review will be devoted to another purpose entirely.
I would also like to state that I am proud of the two articles I published in the Review. One was an apologetic response to the Bible vs. the Book of Mormon DVD, and the other a polite scholarly exchange with biblical scholar Michael Heiser.
Over the years, I have become less and less interested in traditional apologetics, and because of my wiliness to opening engage scholarly issues in my field that present challenges to various issues connected with the Restoration, I have received my own "wounds," from "friendly fire," the details of which, I have no intention of discussing in public. I will state, however, without trying to be too critical, that I have little confidence in the general abilities of BYU's new direction personnel (speaking as a whole, not of individuals, many of whom if given the chance are more than capable) to seriously engage academic issues pertaining to the Book of Mormon, etc.
This is certainly not the objective of BYU's Religious Education. In fact, given the department's general opposition to scholarship, as well as the general lack of personnel trained in these various fields, I have a hard time seeing how this new direction will take place at BYU in terms of scholarly observations on the Bible, Book of Abraham, Book of Mormon, etc. While the MI will hopefully make some important contributions in the future to Mormon studies, sadly, I suspect that most of the quality work in these areas will take place in independent spheres outside of BYU.
Finally, I will also go on record as stating that I am proud to be both a student, and a friend of Daniel Peterson. Both he and his work have had a tremendous impact upon my life, and I believe that over the years, Dan has made outstanding contributions to Mormon studies. In fact, some of my favorite observations that have been made regarding the Book of Mormon have been Dan's.
Posted DonBradley on 18 March 2013 - 02:21 AM
Having established my qualifications, let me now give you the facts about Kishkumen.
1) Rumor has it that Kishkumen has assumed a false name.
2) Kishkumen belongs to a race believed by scientists to descend from lower primates, reptiles, and, ultimately, bacteria.
3) Just to show what kind of family these Kishkumenites are...his ancestors left entirely respectable lives across the ocean to join a polygamous commune in the American desert.
4) Kishkumen attended a western university that uses a vicious carnivore for a mascot.
5) In all the years since we met, I have never once seen him show kindness to a bunny rabbit.
6) Kishkumen is one of the many children of Mormondom led into the academy by the pipes of the infamous Dr. Hugh Nibley. It was Nibley who, like Socrates corrupting the youth of Athens, suggested Kishkumen's disciplinary path.
7) Kishkumen has a strange fixation on people who lived hundreds--and even thousands--of years ago. Dead people!
8 ) He has been known to speak in phrases that sound suspiciously like the spells from Harry Potter, and actively encourages others to do so.
9) He has misrepresented the truth regarding the Book of Mormon by deliberately adopting the spelling "Kishkumen" despite having been previously warned by proper authority (viz., me) that the original and correct spelling was "Kishcumen."
10) Despite the urban legend started by Grant Palmer, Kishkumen never actually smoked The Golden Pot. (The same accusation may not, however, be made to stick against Palmer, as evidenced by his theory of Book of Mormon origins.)
11) Recent stylometric analysis of Kishkumen's posts demonstrates that 40% of their material derives from Nomad and the remaining 60% from the Reverend Solomon Spalding. Hence the Spalding-Nomad theory that Kishkumen is a sock puppet of Nomad, who draws most of his puppet script from the lost Spalding manuscript.
12) Most disturbingly, this man has been known to haunt Internet message boards.
Posted Louis Midgley on 09 March 2013 - 10:36 PM
That afternoon he mentioned that this endeavor would also include some of the previously unpublished medical texts written by the very famous Moses Maimonides, who is famous for assembling what is known as the oral law, and for his enigmatic Guide for the Perplexed, and so forth. And, in Professor Peterson’s witty way he mentioned that the next evening he would be lecturing at the Auckland Jewish Community Center (Synagogue) which is located on Greys Street between Pitt Street and Mayoral Drive just on the west side Meyer Park and hence west of Soctia Place, for those of you who know where the LDS chapel and office building on Queen Street are located. (Those who have visited Auckland will know Queen Street, since it is the main street of that wonderful city.)
When we arrived at the Synagogue, we were surprised to find that quite a few Muslin men had joined us. It was a bit tense when we entered the building. But the Rabbi got the meeting going and Professor Peterson gave his lecture. Soon Muslin and Jews, who had never been in the same room together, were laughing and enjoying themselves. At the end of Professor Peterson’s presentation the Rabbi said that we had witnessed a miracle. This was, he said, the first time any of these two peoples had ever once been in the same room together. And they had enjoyed the evening. He said that the most remarkable part of what had happened is that it took a Latter-day Saint from Utah to make it happen.
I tell this true story, and I could easily provide more details by consulting my journal, because it illustrates, I think, just how awful Professor Peterson really is. My little story also explains why he has visited New Zealand and Australia for Public Affairs many times. And his visits have involved both non-LDS as well as the Saints. It seems that he is despised, ridiculed and stalked by strange people who lurk on the margins of the LDS community, and who hide their identity behind handles, who perhaps envy him, deeply resent his endeavors, and seek to do what they can in whatever way they can to curtail his influence.
Posted Bill Hamblin on 20 June 2012 - 09:24 PM
There have been a lot of rumors floating around the internet recently regarding a scandal brewing at the Maxwell Institute. In order to provide a reality check and quell some of the more wild and brazen speculations of apostates and anti-Mormons on the fringes of Mormondom, I’ll provide the following summary of my understanding of the situation. Some of the details may not be completely accurate, but I have original memos or eye-witness oral sources for almost all of this information.
Last week, Gerald Bradford ([email protected], 801-422-8619) Executive Director of the Maxwell Institute ([email protected], 801-422-9229), dismissed Dan Peterson ([email protected])--arguably the most prominent contemporary LDS apologist--as editor of the Mormon Studies Review, where he has served for twenty-three years.
This is the culmination of a long-term struggle between radically different visions for the future of the Institute. Peterson wishes to continue the traditional heritage of FARMS, providing cutting edge scholarship and apologetics on LDS scripture. Bradford wants to move the Institute in a different direction, focusing on more secular-style studies that will be accessible and acceptable to non-Mormon scholars. Bradford is especially opposed to LDS apologetics, which he wants to terminate entirely as part of the mission of the Institute. He feels apologetics should be done by FAIR (The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research http://www.fairlds.org/ ) or other groups.
Throughout the past two years Bradford has censored several articles that Dan planned to publish, thereby delaying publication of the Review. Bradford finally concluded that he refuses to publish the most recent issue of the Review, which has been essentially ready to go to press for six months. He plans to seek a new editor for the Review to move it in the entirely new direction he envisions.
After Dan was fired as editor, he said that he felt he could no longer serve the Institute in good faith as Director of Advancement (i.e. fund-raiser), since the Institute was intentionally abandoning its original mission, and Dan did not support the new direction Bradford was taking the Institute. Dan was then threatened with further possible action against him to try to force him to continue raising money for the Institute that abandoned him. It’s worth noting that Bradford fired Dan by email while Dan was on a multi-week journey in the Middle East--in part raising funds for the Institute--specifically so Dan could not be in Provo to defend himself.
This event concludes a nearly decade-long struggle for the soul of FARMS and the Institute. The contemporary Maxwell Institute is something quite different from the FARMS of ten years ago. (Note that only one of the five “directors” of the current Institute is actually involved in Book of Mormon Studies: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/about/administration.php). Astute observers will note that there has been a steady decline in both quantity and quality of Institute publications over the past few years. (Indeed, more cutting-edge books on the Book of Mormon have being published in the past few years by Kofford Books, Salt Press, and even Oxford University Press than by the Institute.) They may also observe that most of the original core of FARMS scholars from a decade ago, including me, have nearly ceased publishing with the Institute, having been systematically marginalized, alienated, or ostracized by the Institute as it tried transform itself to conform with this new vision. Needless to say, most of the original FARMS scholars have been dismayed by this inexorable movement to remake the Maxwell Institute.
I have had no desire or inclination to publicly comment on this situation. However, this situation became public when an employee at the Maxwell Institute secretly leaked confidential memos concerning Dan’s firing to anti-Mormon apostates, who have posted these memos on the web, and have been gleefully slandering and ridiculing Dan on their message boards ever since. Since the situation has been made public by this leak from within the Maxwell Institute itself, I felt that Dan deserved the benefit of a fair public summary of the real situation. I also felt that interested Latter-day Saints, especially long-time supporters of the original mission of FARMS, deserved a more complete assessment of the situation, rather than being forced to rely on anti-Mormon and apostate slander and speculation. I felt Dan deserved better, much better than this.
The Institute, for its part, has gone into full damage-control and stonewall mode, refusing to make a public announcement, or even to answer emails or phone calls on the subject from their bewildered subscribers and donors who have heard rumors of the affair, many of whom have for years donated money to the Institute specifically to facilitate Book of Mormon studies and apologetic efforts such as the Mormon Studies Review.
I’m posting this summary of my understanding of the situation to alleviate further slander of Dan by apostates. Dan did not ask me to do this. I alone am responsible for this memo.
I'm sure Dan would appreciate any expressions of sympathy and support that could be emailed to him at: [email protected] (Anti-Mormons and apostates, please get lost.)
[Note: Apparently a phrase I used means something different in English English than American English, so I made a slight editorial change. I apologize if I offended anyone.]
Posted Bernard Gui on 14 January 2012 - 06:52 PM
So, I went to his website and selected a topic at random: his discussion of chapter 47 of the GP manual.
The Book of Alma repeatedly refers to God as “the Great Spirit” (Alma 18:2-5, 11, 18, 26, 28; 19:25, 27; 22:9-11; cf. 31:15-17). No Book of Mormon text says or implies that God the Father has a physical body.
Lamanite and heretical Zoramite beliefs...
Alma 18:2-5, 11, 18, 26, 28
Lamoni, Lamanite king, to Ammon
Lamanites who gathered in Lamoni’s house
Lamoni’s father, king of Lamanites, to Aaron
Zoramites addressing God in their heretical prayer.
This was way too easy.
PS...Rob...please credit Bernard Gui when you make this correction on your web site, since
I did the work for you.
Posted David Bokovoy on 26 June 2012 - 08:20 PM
While I hate to be a pessimist, and certainly support the sentiment expressed in this declaration, I believe that the loss of Dr. Peterson will actually bring greater challenges to accomplish this goal than many have realized.
Losing Dr. Peterson will come with a heavy price. Dr. Peterson is responsible for contributing some of the most interesting observations on the Book of Mormon that the Maxwell Institute has published, including articles that explore possible Book of Mormon allusions to the Northwest Semitic goddess Asherah, as well as issues connected with Nephite kingship and authority.
Moreover, there are many LDS scholars that have made significant contributions to the Institute over the years who support Dr. Peterson and may therefore no longer contribute their work to the Institute. I’m not trying to speak for these individuals, and they may certainly think differently, but a list of Dan’s friends would include such scholars as John Welch, John Sorenson, Stephen Ricks, Don Parry, Lou Midgley, Bill Hamblin, and Royal Skousen, just to name a few.
All one has to do is simply search the Maxwell Institute’s list of authors to see the sheer number of contributions, let alone classic examples of LDS scholarship directly associated with this list of writers. If these authors no longer contribute to Maxwell publications, how will the Institute continue to foster academic research on LDS scripture? Without these scholars, who is left at BYU to contribute scholarly observations on LDS scripture? The only ones who remain are instructors in BYU’s Religious Education departments of Ancient Scripture and Church History and Doctrine.
Perhaps they are the ones who will now move the work forward into increased academic prestige?
I believe it's important to note, however, that none of the aforementioned pioneers and primary contributors to ancient studies and LDS scripture are connected with Religious Education at BYU. Historically, the contributions of BYU’s religion professors to FARMS and the Maxwell Institute have been trivial at best.
And this lack of scholarship is by design. Recent hires in the department of ancient scripture have focused primarily upon LDS seminary teachers with degrees in Instructional Technology, and Education; those currently being considered seriously for research positions in the department of Ancient Scripture include teachers with degrees in Public Administration, etc. The current Department Chair over Ancient Scripture holds a PhD in Sociology, and the former Department Chair over Ancient Scripture has a degree in P.E.
Even the few instructors in Ancient Scripture with academic degrees somewhat connected with the field do not actually have a background in ancient scripture, but instead, in an ancillary subject to ancient scripture such as Egyptology, Comparative Semitics, or Archeology. Very few instructors in the history of the department have had degrees in ancient scripture; and, not surprising, very few have contributed to FARMS or the Maxwell Institute, let alone the greater academic field of scriptural analysis outside of Mormonism. It just hasn't happened.
Without the likes of serious scholars such as Dan Peterson and his friends, how will the Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship possibly hope to align its work “with the academy's highest objectives and standards, as befits an organized research unit at Brigham Young University”?
There’s a reason why FARMS was originally founded by scholars outside of BYU's department of religious education. Religious Education, i.e. those at BYU who are left to pick up where Drs Peterson, Hamblin et al left off, are actually deeply opposed to religious scholarship. Note, for example, the introduction to former Religious Education Dean Robert Millet’s Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon:
This statement from Millet and McConkie in which they acknowledge that they are not trained scholars and share their perspective that academic study in the scripture leads to unbelief represents the foundation upon which BYU’s department of Religious Education has been built.
Recently, when BYU Religious Education professors such as David Seeley and Dana Pike in the Deseret Book publication Jehovah and the World of the Old Testament even made mention of the fact that most biblical scholars believe that Moses did not write the Pentateuch and that it is comprised of separate sources, these scholars were called into the Dean’s office and corrected for possibly destroying faith.
So while I applaud the efforts of the Maxwell Institute to strive to improve its efforts to align its work with the academy's highest objectives and standards, I have to ask the question that apparently no one else did.
Since the Institute has systematically removed and/or offended all of the serious contributors from BYU to the field of scriptural studies, who’s left to improve the Institute at BYU?
Perhaps Dan’s position can be given to Robert Millet.
Posted Brant Gardner on 23 June 2012 - 05:09 AM
There is something to be said about safe organizations, and it appears that the Maxwell Institute is on its way to becoming very safe. Safe scholarship is valuable. Pushing our understanding is not safe and it seems that is what is really lost in the revisioning of the mission of the Institute.
Using the term apologetics as a weapon in the process unfortunately injects emotion into the topic that obscures the best of apologetics.
The FARMS volume on the Allegory of the Olive Tree was apologetic
The FARMS volume on King Benjamin's Speech was apologetic.
The FARMS volume on Warfare in the Book of Mormon was apologetic.
The FARMS volume on Book of Mormon Authorship was apologetic.
The FARMS volume on Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited was apologetic.
The entire Nibley collection was apologetic.
If the Maxwell Institute is moving away from apologetics--yes, please bring back classic FARMS. That kind of apologetics is incredibly important.
Posted Daniel Peterson on 03 August 2012 - 10:55 PM
"There's a big difference," said Miracle Max, "between mostly dead and all dead."
Posted calmoriah on 02 August 2012 - 03:02 PM
I don't particularly think it is appropriate to comment on a woman's (or man's body) in such a way even if someone else did so.
As to any effect your comments have....they should be dealt with in the arena they are spoken of and hopefully left there, but it would appear that you are not that concerned about spreading the comments since you are defending and repeating them here rather than informing ttribe of any regret or second thoughts about saying them (for themselves, not for the fact they were used against you.)
That you seem to have no regret for saying such things, think they are humorous even is unfortunate, in my opinion.
Posted Daniel Peterson on 21 June 2012 - 02:06 AM
* I have some specific reasons to believe that those to whom I copied my response to Jerry Bradford were not the source of the leak.
* I have no reason to believe that any General Authority was involved in any way in the decision to terminate my editorship of the Review.
* Nobody at the Institute has been disciplined in any way for the leak.
* My travels were not financed by the Maxwell Institute. I was in Israel because a wealthy family hired me to take them there; they paid my expenses. I'm currently in Switzerland, entirely on my own dime. (And it's breathtakingly expensive.) I'm biding my time -- didn't want to undergo jet lag too many more times this summer -- until I'm scheduled to lecture on a cruise around the United Kingdom. The travel company will be paying for that. I'm trying to use my time here in the Alps (a place that I love, and where I served my mission) to get some work done. Unfortunately, I've been somewhat distracted of late.
* I knew that this would be a melancholy trip here, because the last two times I was in Switzerland and Austria, it was with my brother, to whom I introduced the place and who came to love it as I do. We were last here -- including the very same small chalet-hotel in Lauterbrunnen where I'm now typing -- in 2010, when we came over for the Passion Play in Oberammergau. My only sibling, my very close friend, and the last surviving member (besides me) of my nuclear family, he died suddenly at the end of March. I almost decided not to come here, thinking that the painful associations might be unbearable. They've been tough indeed, but this recent unpleasantness with the Institute has compounded the problem immeasurably.
* I don't intend to "go nuclear." I love the Church, the University, and the Institute.
* I'm not conscious of having done anything wrong.
* There are, as I see it, two main factors at play here: First is a genuine dislike for apologetics on the part of a relatively small group, including, to my very recent surprise, a minority faction within the Institute. Second is a serious misunderstanding, on the part of certain Institute and University administrators, of some of my actions, attitudes, and statements, which is very difficult to clear up from thousands of miles away.
* I'm still hoping for a resolution that will be satisfactory to all concerned. I'm an eternal optimist, though I admit that, in this case, things seem to be stacked against me.
* I really appreciate the expressions of support here. I've been receiving emails from many very kind people, and I know that some have written to or called the Maxwell Institute. I'm grateful for all of this. I hope that the messages to the Institute will have some impact.
With best wishes to everyone,
Posted Daniel Peterson on 13 February 2011 - 11:29 AM
My Malevolent Stalker, a critic of the Church and its members who posts over at another board and of whom some of you are aware, pronounced me just this morning -- having carefully examined my activities over the past thirty years or thereabouts -- to be "one of the most evil and degenerate people that the Church has ever produced."
That's quite a distinction, and I hope that some of you can appreciate why it makes me so very proud.
Posted smac97 on A week ago
This morning, my wife felt discouraged. Even though she has and does believe that Heavenly Father is watching over us, this morning she prayed that He send her some signal that He is there. This afternoon, the missionaries knocked on our door and asked if there was anything they could do to help. My wife invited them in and asked that they give my son a blessing. They did so. According to my wife, the Spirit was strong and clear during their visit and after.
We live in Provo, so this missionary companionship's assigned area covers, if I recall correctly, ten stakes. We have lived in our home for over seven years, and today was the first time the missionaries have ever knocked on our door.
A simple prayer. A simple answer. I suppose this could be dismissed as a coincidence, or wishful thinking, or what have you. But for me and my house ...