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the narrator

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  1. 1. The popularity of Jesus in the Gospels is likely an exaggeration. 2. Even if it wasn't an exaggeration, knowing his name and knowing of him is drastically different than being able to identify him on one's own. 3. It wasn't like there was a single body of antagonistic Jews following him around. 4. You underestimate how much photography today helps us remember faces. 5. The persons confronting Jesus in Gethsemane likely never saw Jesus themselves and would have had no idea what he looked like. On the road to Emmaus, the two disciples didn't even recognize Jesus--not because he was wearing a disguise, but because they probably only met Jesus once from a distance (if ever) and simply didn't recognize him. Jesus wasn't all the special--meaning there wasn't anything in particular physically that made him stand out. It was his words and actions that drew attention to him, and even those were relatively minor. He was just one of many self-proclaimed messiahs, and he spent almost all of his very short ministry outside of Jerusalem. This was a time before photography, video, TV, and even realist portraits. Without him saying, "I'm Jesus of Nazareth, look at me!" nobody would have the damnedest clue of who he was--besides his close disciples who spent time with him. I don't know why this is so hard to grasp.
  2. Christianity, Judaism, and virtually all major religions have been political religions at one point or another. It's quite clear now that the Pulse shooter committed his evil act in response to American foreign policy. Should only take you a few minutes to find that out. And US intervention and meddling in the Middles East predate Desert Storm by decades, particularly with Operation Ajax. After that ticked off Iran, we then supported Hussein in a fight against them, providing him with funding and weapons. And for good measure, with Iran-Contra we sold weapons to Iran to fight Iraq. The list of meddling in the Middle East, and the growing pile of bodies that resulted from them is well too long to list. The help that Kuwait asked for only came from a portion of its citizens, with a good portion of its others asking for Hussein to come in. Let's not forget that we trained Osama Bin Laden to fight the Soviets for us, and let him and the other mujahadeen high and dry after they were no longer needed--who used that training to also commit evil while responding to our meddling out there. (No, he didn't care about our freedoms or whatever we want to do in the US. He just wanted us out of their lands.) Our support of Saudi Arabia against Yemen has only added to the pile of bodies of dead citizens. Obama's drone doctrine with the goal of less US soldier casualties without caring for the lives of foreign citizens fueled the problem more, and Trump has poured jet fuel on it.
  3. Yes, and the latter are the ones I'm referring to. I take it further and am skeptical of them having much historical reality at all.
  4. There are other instances, and those are the ones I'm referring to. Such as the instruction to go to the Amalekites and "slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ***" (1. Sam 15:3).
  5. They may have known of him, but likely didn't know him. While Jesus could draw crowds, he was still a relatively minor figure. It would be unlikely that the leaders would have ever seen him up close personally (if at all), and given that this was millennia before photography and centuries before realist art, they had no ability to identify him in bright sunlight without anyone pointing him out to them. And, of course, this assumes that Judas was real, which is debatable.
  6. Or, also, in much of the Western world, due to the Bible, or those who use it as law, many are killed for many reasons. The Pulse killer knew little of his own Islamic faith. It was more politically motivated than religiously--that is, it was a horrible response to US foreign policy that has killed or or contributed to the killing of millions of people in the Middle East.
  7. Nope. Rather, the instruction in these genocides was for the Israelites to kill every man, woman, child, and baby. Period. IIRC, in some cases they were even instructed to kill the fetuses of pregnant women for good measure.
  8. So do you use Luke's version or Matthew's? Do you say it in Greek? Or do you use the original Aramaic? How are you sure it was remembered and transmitted correctly when those authors included it their Gospels decades after Jesus may or may not have offered it?
  9. I liked the jeans, which tells you right from the beginning that you'll never see a video like that for the 15 The Brethren.
  10. Great. You both roped me in to a debate ;). It's non-verifiable because it lacks sense. The very notion of agency or a will involves applying one's thought/will/rationality/agency to a particular set of variables. If it is possible for a same person to arrive at the exact same set of variables and yet have a different outcome, then what sense does it have to even say they made a decision? Pointing to quantum physics doesn't work, because that still implies a determinism where the outcome is determined by quantum variability and not by any the person. In short, the dichotomy isn't determinism or free will, it's determinism or randomness. And this idea predates Calvin by centuries. Augustine wrestled with it in his City of God, where he concludes that the possibility of a person choosing the divine over nature is only possible because God alters the will of the person. Existential Comics had a good illustration of this a few weeks ago. A better one that I use with my students is Harold Ramis's Groundhog Day, where the folk of Punxsutawney are only able to act differently when Bill Murray's character interacts with them in some way, altering the set of variables that determine the choices they make.
  11. Or it can be a way to maintain humility by recognizing that libertarian free will is a fantasy created to make some feel superior to others. I don't want to get into a debate on the nonsense of libertarian free will (in short, if it is entirely possible for us to choose [apply our will] one way or another when the variables preceding the choice are identical, then our "choices" are actually random, which I find even less appealing than determinism) , but I think Mormons would benefit from recognizing that the choices we make and thoughts we have are a direct product of our biology, upbringing, community, mental-chemical states, etc--all things that are beyond our control. Of course, we can't experience life as determined beings, but it ought to cause us to be more sympathetic to those we think are making poor decisions and more humble about the "better" decisions we make.
  12. Not just marriage. The Church supported efforts to prevent same-sex civil unions as well, such as Amendment 3 in Utah in 2004.
  13. Prior to Obergefell v. Hodges, the Obama administration announced that the did not believe that DOMA was constitutional and said the DOJ would not defend it.
  14. The short answer is that we tend to put things in the wrong order. Mormons (and humans generally) typically want to say that someone can be forgiven after they repent. This is wrong. True repentance happens because someone feels forgiven. In other words, forgiving ought to precede and motivate repentance, not the other way around. People don't truly change out of a fear of punishment. Doing so is just a rearrangement of selfish desires. People change when their outlook on life changes. Alma the Younger is a great example of this. The dude didn't change his ways at all before being forgiven. He was unconscious the whole time. It was the knowledge of being forgiven without having yet done a damn thing that encouraged him to live differently when he woke up. Now how do we help people feel forgiven? First, obviously, we have to learn to forgive without expecting anything. But more importantly, we have to better acknowledge the myth of free agency and the essential role that society plays in our choices and self-identity. Recognizing that forgiveness happens against our will is tied to recognizing that our will is not free but is dictated by our biology, upbringing, and community. The word of Father Zosima in The Brothers Karamazov come to mind:
  15. I forgive people all of the time without requiring them to "serve the time." If not, my 5 yr old son would be in perpetual time out. I have forgiven family, friends, and strangers without them ever apologizing or even acknowledging the harm we've done. Here in the US, our criminal justice system focuses on punishment for crimes (and we're one of the few remaining developed nations that still murders the convicted for some of their crimes), all while shouting from the rooftops that we are a "Christian Nation!" as opposed to those secular Europeans. However, as those secular European nations have moved away from a focus on punishment for crimes and instead toward rehabilitation, they have seen their recidivism rates drop dramatically compared to the US. So perhaps instead of asking how we might help secular people understand the Atonement, we should ask what we might learn from them about forgiveness and grace.
  16. I was maybe a little hyperbolic. My disdain of him is legion, so my memories of what stupid things he says get all jumbled up.
  17. I don't know how the policy was created or how it was approved. I am certain, though, that at least one apostle thought it was wrong. And it also seems that it was not originally intended to go out when it did. According to an editor who works for the Church, it was initially sent to the editing team for a proofing and told that it was for an update to the handbook for a later date. An editor pointed out problems in the policy (I wasn't told what the problems were, but I'm guessing it might have been ambiguity of the original version that seemed to strongly imply that children could not be baptized if a parent had ever lived in a same-sex relationship--which was changed a couple weeks later). Nelson apparently did not like being told this and chose to rush out the policy earlier than planned and without further debate.
  18. Greg is LOADED and lives in a castle. So yeah, he has nothing to gain from this. Dehlin, however, somehow manages to earn more when donations to MS go up, so he certain profits off of it.
  19. Dehlin's idiocy here is only his vain thinking that without him it would never have been public. It wasn't leaked by him. It wasn't even leaked by a member of a bishopric who first posted it and tagged Dehlin about it. It was made available to thousands of local leaders and would have been public news by the end of the day without Dehlin.
  20. I was told that when Michael Otterson was told of the policy he asked that Public Affairs have a week to prepare a response, but that he was denied and told that nobody would notice.
  21. 2012 was earlier than 2015, which was earlier than 2017/18. Do you not understand the direction that time flows? Or do you not understand what "retroject" means?
  22. I can never tell if your purposefully or accidentally being obtuse. You're the one who made the claim of "back-dating" Monson's dementia. It's not backdating if people were already making observations about it 3 years earlier.
  23. How is any of that evidence of him not having dementia?
  24. People were discussing it as early as 2012.
  25. Nobody is conveniently demented. I am currently witnessing the difficulties it is bringing my grandparents--especially my lovely grandmother--as my paternal grandfather goes through it. And I witnessed the difficulties it caused my mother's family as my maternal grandmother suffered from it a couple decades ago before her passing, difficulties that caused rifts in my mother's family that took years to mend and that are still a presence for some. I wish you would not make such claims. I know that these two friend know Holland personally, and they would not have lied to me about their conversations with him. That the policy was reversed so quickly seems to confirm it as well. If you want hearsay, here is something I learned from a trusted source but do not know the provenance of the claims: when Michael Otterson first learned of the policy, he asked Nelson for a week for Public Affairs to prep a response, and Nelson told him nobody would even notice and that it was unnecessary. And when people did notice, Nelson first asked Eyring to make the public response, and Eyring told him: "This is on you. I'm not touching this thing." Probably not much. I don't think that Uchtdorf is the liberal savior that a lot of progressive Mormons desperately hope him to be. And IIRC, he wasn't in Salt Lake when the vote on the policy and its release happened.
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