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Benjamin McGuire

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About Benjamin McGuire

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    Separates Water & Dry Land
  • Birthday August 16

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  1. T shirt maker has gay customers, gay employees, still sued

    Sure. However, legal decisions don't usually fit into this category. On the other hand, I do have a real problem with the suggestion here that somehow same-sex marriage exists in opposition to religious freedom ( there is no need for the scare quotes - since those marriages are under our laws marriages just like opposite-sex marriages). The challenge is that this isn't what is happening. That seems to be the part that is so hard for those who want to be allowed to discriminate to understand. Making a cake for someone isn't "celebrating an unclean relationship". This is the position of the courts repeatedly in these cases. And this is in my opinion exactly what SCOTUS is going to tell us when they get done considering the case. And since it isn't an actual celebration, then it becomes merely a pretext. And when it is a pretext for discrimination, that is when it becomes unchristian. This is the problem that I have. Apparently, any argument that lets you discriminate against others is okay right? Because, after all, it really is only about the outcome ...
  2. T shirt maker has gay customers, gay employees, still sued

    Why should I assume that propaganda is somehow objective? It isn't. I think that people who insist that they should be allowed to discriminate based on "principles" are looking for ways to justify behavior which is anything but Christian. There is a level of hypocrisy involved in such a statement is absolutely stunning to me. I am glad you are only speaking for yourself, because of course, we don't have to go back very far in time (to the heyday of the civil rights movement) to find people expressing exactly the same views that you are expressing about the right they should have to engage in racial discrimination. Of course you recognize that this could allow for discrimination towards you. But it always seems to me that this is partly just a posture. After all, you have very little experience with real discrimination directed towards you personally - and it is that lack of experience that allows you to be so casual about it. When we see real discrimination towards others, we have an obligation in our religion to champion those being discriminated against. We shouldn't simply wave our hands, and suggest that its okay for them to treat us the same way - and so walk past on the other side of the road.
  3. Higher Crititicism == fake science

    The thing about higher criticism is that it isn't a science. But it does provide us with all sorts of things that we can know. Higher criticism (although that label is largely considered obsolete in many ways) is more accurately termed the historical-critical method, and perhaps more generally as literary criticism. And while it is often used in the context of biblical studies, it is regularly used in the study of all ancient literature. And it actually covers a range of applications - including source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, and so on. Perhaps a generalization is to suggest that by this higher criticism we attempt to establish authorship, as well as dates and the place of the authorship of a text. It is, of course, mostly just a collection of tools. And you use those tools makes a difference. After all, higher criticism can be used to point out issues that speak to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon just as it can be used to question it. Of course, as with any set of scientific tools, there is a lot that goes in to data analysis. And in science, we are regularly confronted with theories that cannot immediately be proven (although we don't dismiss those theories as "fake science" as cdowis does here). These tools aren't just in the toolbox of those who study ancient texts either. They fit well into the study of more recent texts. They are especially useful, for example, in analyzing the Joseph Smith Papers collection. The fact that these tools are effect in analyzing more recent texts gives us some degree of confidence in looking at ancient texts. But, we end up with a problem in this specific circumstance. After all, as cdowis himself points out: There is no question (or there shouldn't be a question) that the Book of Mormon is a relatively contemporary documents with a relatively known history. cdowis's complaint stems from a problematic assertion that the Book of Mormon should be seen as somehow equivalent to the gold plates, and shouldn't be treated as a modern document at all. When in fact, the Book of Mormon doesn't claim this for itself. It claims to be a translation of ancient document, and we use the tools of higher criticism to help us understand the relationship between the Book of Mormon (as a modern text) and the source it was translated from. And those tools that get used range from textual analysis to attempts to locate that source text in a cultural and historical milieu (a time and place) like we see with many attempts (the most extensive of these attempts have been made by Brant Gardner and Sorenson). These attempts fit squarely into the principles of higher criticism (as does any attempt to try and locate a geography of the text that involves the text itself and historical geographies). So when I read these sorts of dismissive comments about higher criticism, what I see has little to do with what higher criticism can tell us about the text, but rather a sort of gut response to a very narrow part of higher criticism. I think that there is more to it than cdows implies. And I think that I am personally unwilling to concede the idea that we can know nothing from the text about its authorship, or the historical milieu in which its source(s) were written.
  4. T shirt maker has gay customers, gay employees, still sued

    But, Scott, this is exactly what the earlier courts have found - that he was refusing to serve them precisely because they were gay. It's not that he was willing to sell other things, it's that he wants to treat a protected class of individuals differently than he treats others. The fact that he was willing to provide a lesser degree of service to them despite the fact that they are gay doesn't somehow magically make the idea of discrimination go away, does it. There isn't a lot of difference between that and a restaurant that offered two different sections (and two different menus) for whites and blacks. Obviously, if they were willing to serve blacks at all, then there couldn't be racial discrimination, right? On the level that you are presenting it, there is no difference between this and not wanting to sell an interracial couple a wedding cake. The courts have a long history of forcing speech. This has been common ever since the civil rights movement when there were a lot of people who tried to defend racial discrimination on the basis of free speech. This isn't an issue. The question is whether or not the courts can force speech that is entangled with the free expression. Up until this appeal, the earlier courts have determined that making a cake doesn't rise to the level of personal speech, and so cannot be in effect an expression of personal religious belief, and so there is no entanglement with the free exercise clause. This is what I expect SCOTUS to decide also. Which means that SCOTUS is unlikely to get to the real question we want answered which is whether or not you can be forced to make religious speech. But the idea of forcing speech is anything but novel - it has been established for decades in our legal system. SCOTUS would not have taken this case if that were the only issue being explored here. What SCOTUS is going to decide about is whether or not baking the cake constitutes personal speech, and whether or not that speech is entangled with the free exercise clause - and if they find that it is speech and that it is entangled, then they will decide whether or not the right to free exercise has a stronger constitutional claim than the right of the government to forbid discrimination. These issues are what SCOTUS is being asked to decide. They are not actually being asked to decide if the courts can simply force speech to avoid discrimination.
  5. T shirt maker has gay customers, gay employees, still sued

    But here is the problem, Scott. The Colorado law exactly defines this as discrimination. It doesn't have to be a complete rejection of services for it to qualify as discrimination under the law. And the cake baker admits to the fact that this is a discriminatory practice. His interest isn't in trying to find a way to argue that it isn't discriminatory in nature. His interest is in finding a way to use the law to justify his discriminatory behavior. Is this the position that you are trying to take? That you are looking for legal justifications for discrimination? No. Nobody believes this is the case (including the courts). You would understand this if you had read through all of the related court history and documents. The courts \have consistently suggested that when a law requires you to do something to avoid things like discrimination, that any reasonable person doesn't construe that action as speech or as an expression of approval of something you disagree with. This is the whole issue behind my use of the term speech-for-hire concept. It's irrelevant. The law doesn't protect you from this kind of discriminatory action. Specifically, the Colorado law goes out of its way to make sure that we understand that this isn't a protected sort of thing. It is a comparison between apples and oranges. It is not about the belief, it is about the group you are discriminating against. So this doesn't begin to be analogous to the cake issue that SCOTUS is going to hear. And these kinds of arguments won't even come up in that case.
  6. T shirt maker has gay customers, gay employees, still sued

    Something like this might work in certain circumstances, but its not likely in this specific case. These kinds of issues have a long history. Consider an analog. You don't like interracial marriage. You could have a policy not to serve someone in your restaurant who approves of interracial marriages. But, if that creates a situation where the vast majority of people you refuse to serve for this reason are in fact interracial couples, then the stated intention doesn't match up well against the actual outcome. And the outcome is part of what is considered when the courts deal with discrimination cases. This becomes an even more pointed issue in these kinds of cases (the cake maker sort). Because, generally speaking, the only way for the cake baker to know that they support same-sex marriage is through the attempted purchase of a wedding cake (yes we could think of all sorts of non-normal exceptions - but the fact that they aren't normal makes them easy to dismiss as being irrelevant). And that circumstance is even more tightly connected to the protected group. In the Colorado case, the Colorado law is quite clear about the protected groups: Now, the term "creed" is somewhat ambiguous, so Colorado law further defines it: You can see that they make it very clear that that political beliefs by themselves are not grounds for a discrimination case. But ... the law/courts also won't allow someone to discriminate against a protected group while hiding behind a claim that they are really only discriminating against a political party. And of course, while being in the liberal party makes it more likely that you support same-sex marriage, it isn't a guarantee. And it isn't very hard in Colorado to change your party affiliation. And this is a really important point. This means that Posen isn't refusing to provide services to Ivanka or Melania because of their race, their color, their disability, their sex, their sexual orientation, their national origin/ancestry, their creed, or their marital status. As long as he isn't refusing them service on those grounds, he cannot be charged with discrimination (at least not in Colorado).
  7. T shirt maker has gay customers, gay employees, still sued

    Scott writes: Not really. That was decided a long time ago. SCOTUS doesn't make this kind of decision because it isn't that kind of court. What SCOTUS does is to confirm (or reject) the decisions of earlier courts based on whether or not the law can be considered constitutional, and whether or not the law has been applied properly. There is no question (on the part of anyone including the baker) that the baker was violating the law. The discrimination against Melania Trump isn't discrimination in a legal sense. Why? Because the laws specify the kinds of groups against which discrimination is illegal. And Melania Trump doesn't fit one of these groups within the scope of her belonging to a certain political faction or ideology. If the discrimination was because she was a woman, then it would fit these legal definitions of discrimination. In Colorado, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of religion or religious belief. So in that case, if the singer had a business which included singing (for hire) at all religious events except Christian ones, you could talk about discrimination. If the singer didn't sing at any religious events as part of their business, then there is no discrimination in choosing not to sing at a Christian holiday event. When I talk about this idea of exclusion, it is because exclusion is the key. The idea of connecting things to a specific group. The singer could choose to sing only at Islamic holiday events. In that case, there isn't a discrimination consideration either, since it doesn't discriminate against any specific group. Good for you. And as a white Christian male, you almost never experience real discrimination against you in the way that these minorities do. So I don't find your comment to be particularly meaningful, or helpful, or even charitable. I think it might be an entirely different picture if you found that you (and your friends and family) were constantly the target of discriminatory practices. Of course. But as I noted, if the questions were reversed, the people holding the camera and asking the questions would find themselves in exactly the same boat. The thing is, they are not being really honest, because they haven't begin to present a completely analogous circumstance in their example.
  8. T shirt maker has gay customers, gay employees, still sued

    Videos like this amuse me. There is something in this sort of thing that reminds me so much of my kids when they were younger, saying (when they got in trouble) "but he did it too". None of these arguments change the fact that the baker was doing something that was illegal. And what the scenario presented in the video doesn't make clear is what sort of business the singer had. The singer (much like the cake baker) can specify what sorts of events they will or won't sing at. They can do this quite legally - as long as the restriction isn't connected to a specific group. They couldn't say, "I sing at all religious religious holidays except for Hanukah - because that becomes associated with a specific group. Just like they couldn't say that they sing at all religious holidays except Easter. But they could refuse to sing at any event celebrating a religious holiday and that would not constitute any sort of discrimination (just as the baker can simply not make wedding cakes at all and so avoid the conflict that way). I imagine we could make the same sort of video from the other perspective, and discuss how appropriate it could be to refuse Christians a variety of services. And their response probably would be little different from the people in this video. How you present things can make all the difference in the world. But let's face it, it doesn't matter how you dress it up ... it's still a pig.
  9. Book of Moses Chapter 2, Plants created before the Sun?

    https://www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2015/07/observing-the-birth-of-a-planet.html It's one of those funny issues, similar to the more recent observation of a star's gravitational field warping light. It was something Einstein predicted in his general theory, but it was also something that he pessimistically noted would probably never be provable, because it would be nearly impossible to get all of the parameters to line up to make the observation possible. Of course, time passes and brings better technology, and voila: https://www.engadget.com/2017/06/07/astronomers-einstein-stars-warp-light/ So with many of these things, it is merely a matter of time, as our observation technology improves, and our ability to predict where to look gets better, these kinds of things simply become a matter of time. And as the first link suggests, we have now observed the formation of a planet.
  10. Book of Moses Chapter 2, Plants created before the Sun?

    Kevin, I think that this is part of what we lose in the shifts in the temple presentations over time. In Nauvoo, there seems to have been a part of the garden scene where participants ate fruit (real fruit, handed out). The closer we are to participating in the drama - to becoming part of it ourselves, the more we can see the narrative as metaphor (at least in part). The films moved us away from this, making it seem more documentary (and thus more factual and less metaphorical). How we consume the content sometimes matters more than just a little bit.
  11. The first question is interesting, because if indeed the notion of the intended audience is completely speculative, then not only can we not know what that intended audience looks like, we have no idea how close we are to that audience, and we can have no certainty about how the text should be read at all, and what the text should mean. On the other hand, we have have a lot of clues within the text itself - things that can be evaluated in reasonably objective ways - issues like the intertext that we read, rhetorical devices like allusions, places where the text quotes other texts, and so on. All of these things provide evidence in the discussion about the meaning of the text, the audience it was written to, and other aspects. Just because we cannot agree on how the text comes to be doesn't mean that it isn't still a text just like any other text or that we don't read it like we read any other text. For the second line above, this is what I mean. In our culture, we view good translations as those that are invisible. A good translation reads as though the original author was writing in the language of the intended audience, and from within their culture. A good translator replaces references and culturally idiomatic expressions in the original text (that would be largely incomprehensible to the audience) with something that provides us with the equivalent in the context of the new audience. A good translator produces a text that reads as though it were the original had the original author written in the same time and space as the translator does. The Book of Mormon, with its archaic language, is anything but that. As I pointed out a bit over a year ago, your theory is something akin to saying: Another option, as you note might be to have a translator who produced a final version shortly before the Book of Mormon: In this case, it isn't a fluid translation. Let me try to explain it a different way. To take the Gold Plates, and translate them into early 17th century English for a 17 century audience seems perfectly natural. It would create a fluid translation, and one that could be appreciated by its first audience, and one that could certainly fit within the concept of what we consider a good translation to be. To translate the same text a couple of hundred years later into that same English (assuming that your discrete slices of English are meaningful) no longer makes for a fluid translation. It is no longer a good translation. It is inelegant. It is filled with translationese and archaic language. And it creates challenges for its first readers - they are no longer reading the text as it was originally intended to be read. So when you ask: I think that it's a logic inference from what you have said. I am reminded in all of this of a comparison that fascinates me. With the Book of Mormon, we are following a path that we can see elsewhere - particularly with the Biblical text. The comparison between the language of the Book of Mormon and these earlier periods of English isn't much different than the comparisons that began between the Hebrew Old Testament and earlier Semitic languages. And along with this sort of comparison was an abandonment of the earlier practice of emending the text - it was replaced with a search for something equivalent in other Semitic dialects - precisely so we wouldn't have to propose emendations. That seems quite like what you are doing in many ways. In Biblical studies though, solving one problem in this way simply created others. (David Clines has written more than a little about this in biblical studies - which I find quite similar to the problems we face within Mormonism and our approach to the Book of Mormon). When you start talking about multiple translation events, all we can see is a discussion about So, yes, I think that this is part of the inevitable outcome of this archaic lexical view. And it brings us no closer to discussing what the text says to its audience. What I believe is that the use of archaic language served a specific rheotorical function that shaped how the text was read by its 19th century audience. The the use of that archaic language is intentional, but is not useful at all in determining any sort of process of translation or even any sort of time frame. This is why the question of how seeing the archaic language shapes the way that we read the text (either in pieces or as a whole) is in fact a very important question (not just for us, but for its first readers). How does this language help us understand it (both in the individual sections and in the work as a whole)? Perhaps the point where we agree the most strongly is that it is unlikely that Joseph Smith was the translator (or author) of the text. I am also not saying that your work isn't valuable, or that there isn't a need for this sort of lexical analysis. The problems begin with conclusions drawn. To go back to my comparison of a moment ago, when we get to a point where you suggest that a difficult reading is verified because you can find a grammatical structure over here in a different context that fits, while I suggest that we should simply emend the text: who is right? It is a bigger challenge when we try to locate the content into an appropriate context as we read. Should I be trying to read a particular narrative in an early 17th century context? Or should I be trying to read it in an early 19th century context? Or should I be trying to read it in the context of the original gold plates? In this sense, this issue of the finding a footing through the translation is important.
  12. Scrutinizing general conference

    Tacenda writes: The problem is though that Brigham Young believed this (perceived it) because he followed a specific interpretation of the Old Testament. He never suggested that he had ever received a personal revelation on the subject, and when it came up, he referred regularly back to certain Old Testament narratives. And he accepted that interpretation as correct, and by extension, the policy as the revealed word of God (by virtue of it's being an interpretation of scripture). So how should we describe this? Shouldn't we want to distinguish between an interpretation that Brigham Young accepted as revelation and an interpretation that we now reject as being revealed?
  13. T shirt maker has gay customers, gay employees, still sued

    The idea of it being okay to sell off-the-shelf cakes is really what tells me that those involved (the baker and his lawyers) don't understand about speech more generally. An artist who creates a painting and then sells it, can paint whatever they want. That painting represents their creative efforts and could be seen as a form of speech. On the other side of the coin, a specialty cake (assuming that making a cake is in fact speech) becomes speech for hire. And we don't usually recognize speech for hire as making a personal statement. An add designer for a grocery store chain (something I did quite regularly decades ago when I worked in the newspaper business) can include pictures and sale prices for alcohol without anyone ever thinking that this add really represents the personal speech and views of the guy who designed and laid out the advertisement before it was printed. In the same way, the cake that is custom made and taken to a wedding is never viewed as speech made by the baker - especially to those at the wedding who are eating it. If they recognize any speech in it at all, it would be the speech of those being married, and the cake (which they had custom made for them) is aimed at conveying something to their guests. They have no intention of buying something that represents someone else's speech to them or to their guests. This argument doesn't exist quite so strongly with the cakes taken off the shelf. They are designed by the baker independent of a buyer, or a specific context, and so they could really represent some sort of speech by the baker precisely in a way that the custom cake (the speech-for-hire) could never do. If the cake is speech-for-hire, then it cannot be entangled with the right to free exercise, because the baker isn't actually being compelled to create speech when he bakes a custom cake. And while the courts so far have not used this language (that I use) they have argued that reasonable people would not understand the cake as speech in favor of same-sex marriage (which is the argument that I make). I expect that the Supreme Court will also make a decision on this grounds - and we will never get to the question of where religious exceptions ought to begin or end. It is all about the question of what the cake means. And in this case, I agree with the decisions that have been made - that there isn't any reason to believe that the cake means what they think it means. And this means that it isn't about the cake, but about a desire to discriminate. So it is all about selling the cake, and trying to find a creative argument to justify not selling it to those you don't want to sell it to.
  14. My mistake. I have a second edition (digital, 4th version). So, here is a text in Catechetical form (intended to be a religious history, and by catachetical, he means written in a series of questions and answers): https://books.google.com/books?id=3Z4CAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA122#v=onepage&q&f=false Sacred History from the Creation to The Destruction of Jerusalem in Catechetical Form by William Gowan Todd, published in 1873. This is from page 122: So now I have a mid-19th century usage. (This is, of course, independent of whether you have accurately classified the example you provide from Alma 39:10, which is debatable I think in the rhetorical context in which it occurs). This is somewhat fascinating to me because it is essentially something you create with no evidence. The sort of bizarre outcome should be obvious (and will be obvious to many of the participants here). Why does God need this complex multi-stage translational process? Couldn't he just give a translation to Joseph Smith directly and avoid all these middle-men? If we are invoking God (perhaps out of necessity) then why do it in such a convoluted fashion? I don't think anyone can seriously contest this idea that the Book of Mormon is written using specific words in places because the KJB is written using those same specific words in places. But this tells us what, it doesn't tell us why a translator would use the KJB. It doesn't helps us understand why a translation that "the Lord translated ... or had it done" would contain the errors that occur with some regularity in the KJB. It doesn't help us understand why the KJB language would be used, when it represents a translation of a text that is only connected to the Gold Plates through an extensive genealogical history of its own (we can't seriously take the idea that the Hebrew sources of the KJB Old Testament and the Hebrew sources of the Brass Plates were all that similar). So what is the rhetorical value in using this language? You are happy with descriptions of what you find, but I don't see any sense of talking about the purpose that these language features present in the text. What was the audience that God was translating for? Was Joseph the model of that audience? Was he typical? And why shouldn't we view it as a poor translation if, as you suggest, the translation was all about the words instead of the ideas ... I just want to reiterate something - I realize (in a nod to Clark) that there are some excellent tools that get used by Skousen and Carmack to look at literature. There is a huge corpus of material out there (as I noted). The idea that something is relatively settled by an appeal to these growing bodies of material is really an assumption that can be shown to be unwarranted over and over again. Part of this is understanding both the scope of our current digital collections as well as the weakness embedded in these collections (and the ways that we can become skilled at dealing with those weaknesses). It took me less than 5 minutes to find that example once I started looking. Perhaps they aren't as rare as gets suggested ... and potentially still understood reasonably well within the context of an 1830s Book of Mormon.
  15. To what extent though is the language that you offer - "caused them that they should" significantly different from the KJB: "commanded them that they should" or "charged them that they should"?
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