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Robert F. Smith

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Robert F. Smith last won the day on January 22

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About Robert F. Smith

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  1. Sorry, buddy, but I have no academic position at all, and I don't get paid for my research. Costs me an arm & a leg to do this stuff. Always has. If I had wanted to get rich, I'd have done something far different. One need not be a scholar to be a discerning consumer of worthwhile info.
  2. A point taught in first-year anthropology classes. Ah, but the opposite is actually the case: Anthropologists are duty-bound to take self-reporting at face value. Social anthropologists (ethnologists) are descriptive, not judgmental. It may be true that the individual is ignorant of the true facts underlying his culture, and that he believes the traditional myths and symbols taught him as he grew up, and his group or tribe may share those views and thus reinforce his version of reality. This is as true of primitive tribes in the jungle as it is of modern Mormons. Indeed, this applies to all cultures. Some very interesting results have come via such phenomenological research: John L. Landgraf, Land-Use in the Ramah Area of New Mexico: An Anthropological Approach to Areal Study, Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 42, 1. Reports of the Ramah Project 5 (Harvard Univ./Peabody Museum, 1954), reviewed by Harvey C. Moore, American Anthropologist 58/2 (1956):377-378, online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/aa.1956.58.2.02a00230/pdf . A study of the local Navahos, Spanish-Americans, Mormons, El Morro Texans, and Anglos. Clyde Kluckhohn, “A Comparative Study of Values in Five Cultures,” in E. Z. Vogt, ed., Navaho Veterans: A Study of Changing Values (Harvard Univ./Peabody Museum, 1951), Evon Z. Volgt and Ethel M. Albert, “The ‘Comparative Study of Values in Five Cultures’ Project,” in Vogt & Albert, eds., People of Rimrock: A Study of Values in Five Cultures (Harvard, 1966/ Athenaeum, 1977). Thomas F. O’Dea, The Mormons (Univ. of Chicago, 1957). Howard M. Bahr, “Thomas F. O’Dea, the Harvard Values Project, and the Mormons: Early Lessons on Ethnography among the Literate,” Human Organization, 65/4 (Winter 2006):343-352, online at http://www.jstor.org/stable/44127448?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents .
  3. The 37th year goes from July 59 to July 58 BC, and that first ship sails up the West coast (Pacific Ocean). Hardly amenable to European destinations. California, yes, Europe, no. The birth of Jesus comes in Sept 5 BC (most likely on Thursday Sept 28, 5 BC, Julian), at the beginning of the 92nd year. Approx. 53 years before. Herod the Great, who died in early 4 BC. The notion that Caesar's mention of Germans suggests that they have only recently arrived is utterly without justification. All the evidence indicates otherwise. Indeed, there is nothing about Germans which would lead any serious person to believe that they are Nephite. Why? Because there is simply no factual backing for such an assertion. If you know otherwise, this is where footnotes would come in and are genuinely needed.
  4. You completely misunderstand the purpose of footnotes/endnotes. And there might be no need for citations of any kind (except perhaps to Scripture), if you intend merely to make prophetic or intuitive assertions about history -- without any actual historical claims, which is impossible. Indeed, you already make claims about sources, such as Caesar's Gallic War, so that it is very relevant to find out whether your interpretations of that text are forced and inaccurate, by appealing to actual Latin/Roman scholarship. Furthermore, if your assertions fly in the face of objective archeological, historical, linguistic, and genetic evidence, all the more reason to cite credible, peer-reviewed sources which allow for your otherwise wild assertions. You seem to assume that all your audience will simply and naively assume that your assertions are correct, and are not at all interested in factual backing (in the notes). This has nothing to do with egaiitarianism, but rather with the honesty and integrity to back up one's claims with actual fact. That is how one shows respect for the serious reader. Or for a jury hearing a case.
  5. Hey, Nehor, the White House could use a good press secretary -- to explain why the Pres shouldn't release his tax returns.
  6. Pres Eyring is senior (first counselor), and Uchtdorf is not the kind to boss people around. He will be very deferential to the first counselor, and even to the Twelve.
  7. He's full grown. He can take his hits just like the rest of us.
  8. Documentation is never a primary concern, nor should it be a distraction. Extraordinary claims demand hard evidence, and that is often provided in footnotes. The notes do not need to be at the bottom of the page. If it seems a distraction, then relegate the footnotes to the end of the document, the way Interpreter does. Those who are interested in the notes can look at them. Those who don't want to be bothered just don't need to look. Your research report need not be peer reviewed, but the material cited in the footnotes should be. That is the only sure way to validate the claims made in the research report. Think of it like going into court and presenting evidence to a jury. Are you presenting hard evidence, or merely opinion and speculation? Merely citing Caesar's Gallic War (which I read in second year Latin class in High School) is not enough. One must cite particular passages, along with learned interpretation by scholars who agree with the interpretation being claimed in the research report.
  9. So, with an overall Utah population of 2,996,000, we have 1 million attending LDS Sacrament Meeting on any given Sunday, while 850,000 Mormons don't bother to attend, and 850,000 non-members also don't attend? Where is the leftover ca. 300,000? Who might they be? How does that compare with activity rates in other states and other religions? And, how does this look if we graph it for the past 100 years? https://www.google.com/#q=population+of+utah .
  10. While it is true that ordinary people will frequently use a vernacular understanding of "revelation" to mean any good idea or new notion or discovery, I thought that we might try to be a bit more circumspect here. Otherwise the conversation becomes pointless and meaningless. I thought we might be more concerned with very specific, scholarly definitions of revelation, such that our historical understanding would be more accurate and better informed. For example, virtually all the sorts of revelation which I defined in three main groups are evident in both Bible and LDS praxis. If you are not familiar with the Bible and LDS history, that will not make any sense at all. If one believes that the very selective D&C represents the only types of revelation received in LDS history, then of course one's impressions are unlikely to be accurate. If, on the other hand, one understands the full spectrum of revelation in LDS history, the so-called changes might not be so apparent. I cited the 1978 revelation only because it is recent and because people so frequently misunderstand the genesis of it, and imagine that it is merely a bland declaration in the D&C -- something generated in an ordinary business meeting. The idea that a General Authority is reported to have wept over it, is ignored. The fact that it was years in coming, and only came to a lone Pres Spencer Kimball after repeated prayers in the Holy of Holies in the SLC Temple, is also ignored. Pres McKay had been unable to obtain that revelation, despite his strong desire to do away with the priesthood restrictions by mere fiat (Joseph Fielding Smith advised him that a revelation was necessary). The rule is that a revelation does not come simply because one desires it. Pres Kimball called a meeting of the Presidency and Twelve only after he had received his revelation on the subject (which does not appear in the D&C). There, rather than some absurd business meeting, all understood the gravity of what Pres Kimball was telling them, and all had an extraordinary spiritual witness of the truth of that revelation (which also does not appear in the D&C). Those familiar with their Bible would recall the ecstatic company of prophets in the book of Judges, and that even Saul strangely found himself in that company. Since when do prophets travel in groups and conduct themselves like Dervishes? Those familiar with their Bible would likewise recall that Isaiah was asked by God to do some very strange, symbolic acts, having nothing to do with dialogic revelation (going about naked and barefoot for three years, and naming his sons, etc). What of Hosea marrying a whore? In addition, biblical scholars have called attention to the intimate connection among poetry, music, and prophecy. How can that be? Is revelation the Word of God, or only a description of God's mighty acts? In the case of Joseph's First Vision, for example, do we have the actual experience or only a human description(s) of it? What of Moses' and Elijah's meetings with God? Do we have the actual experience, or merely a human narrative of it? We must not confuse the two. Anyone who wants to understand revelation in a biblical and LDS context, needs to read extensively about it.
  11. If empiricism is so important to Sen Lee and to the American Enterprise Institute, why don't they take a hard look at successful countries -- where upward mobility based on equal opportunity is readily available, and where the social fabric of society is not fraying, despite the absence of strong religious traditions. They might also take a look at the way America used to make higher education available to all, not just the wealthy. In America today, the middle class is disappearing, students are garnering huge college credit card debt, kids in the gang-infested ghettoes have no chance to play sports or even to finish high school, much less to go to college. Children are successful precisely where we subsidize their education (an investment which pays big dividends) and extracurricular activities. Without those options, law enforcement has no chance at effective gang suppression, or at stemming the increasing tide of human trafficking and drug abuse. When the govt thinks it O.K. to allow children to have their minds destroyed by lead in the water, or their I.Q.s impacted by a dangerous pesticide, we will continue a downward spiral into chaos.
  12. They had only one patriarch for the whole of Russia at one time. Don't know if that still obtains, but it required a wide circuit of travel for him. A great many Russian converts have left and come to America. I have several in my ward in Provo. One guy who was a missionary in Russia (and used to frequent this board), married a Russian convert, and now lives in the Cache Valley of Utah. Were it not for emigrants, we would have many more members there now.
  13. I previously pointed out on this board that "All authentic revelations can be put into the class 'revelation,' which entails (1) textual, narrative description, (2) first person speech of Deity or sub-deities as recorded by humans, and (3) ineffable experiences which can only be described after the fact as ineffable (through poetry, song, and artistic symbols, or through a non-description masquerading as a description)." Did you understand those distinctions? And have you actually read about revelation in an LDS context, and in historical, biblical context? What sources are you using? If the only thing you know about the 1978 revelation is that some guys sat down, had a meeting, and then issued a declaration, then you have no basis for discussion. John A. Widtsoe, Improvement Era, 40 (Oct 1937), 600-601, “Seldom are divine revelations dictated to man. . . . Instead, ideas are impressed upon the mind of the recipient, who then delivers the ideas in his own language.” Based on your approach, Gray, anything might well be a "revelation," including any sort of off-the-wall statement by anyone who feels so moved. Sounds like LDS "continuing revelation," and an "open canon," right? So anything goes? Do you really believe that? Some people actually do. George Albert Smith,, letter, Dec 7, 1945, “I am pleased to assure you that you are right in your attitude that the passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church. Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to His Maker for his individual acts.” Is first person revelation from God "unique," or typical? Have you given this serious thought? Here is a short bibliography of Mormon and non-Mormon scholars (and one LDS GA): William J. Abraham, Divine Revelation and the Limits of Historical Criticism (Oxford Univ. Press, 1982). John Baillie,, The Idea of Revelation in Recent Thought (Oxford Univ. Press/Columbia Univ. Press, 1956). Margaret Barker, “Joseph Smith and Preexilic Israelite Religion,” paper delivered in 2005, at Library of Congress in Washington, DC., published in J. Welch, ed., The Worlds of Joseph Smith: A Bicentennial Conference at the Library of Congress (Provo: BYU Press, 2006), 69-82. Re Book of Mormon, “This revelation to Joseph Smith is the ancient wisdom symbolism, intact, and almost certainly as it was known in 600 BCE.” Richard L. Bushman, “Joseph Smith’s Visions,” presented March 27, 2003, as the keynote address at the conference on “God, Humanity, and Revelation: Perspectives from Mormon Philosophy and History,” at the Yale Divinity School (organized by Kenneth West). Kevin Christensen, "A Model of Mormon Spiritual Experience," Feb 26, 2011, online at https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/22100469/model_of_experience.pdf . Avery Dulles, Models of Revelation (Garden City: Doubleday, 1983). Michael Fishbane, “Revelation and Tradition: Aspects of Inner-Biblical Exegesis,” Journal of Biblical Literature, 99 (1980), 343-361. Terryl L. Givens, “The Book of Mormon and Dialogic Revelation,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 10/2 (2001), 16-27,69-70, online at https://publications.mi.byu.edu/pdf-control.php/publications/jbms/10/2/S00003-50e5e90c7056f3Givens.pdf . David W. Halivni, Revelation Restored: Divine Writ and Critical Response (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1997), on the unevenness of scripture and the challenge it poses to divine revelation. Robert L. Millett, “What the Bible Means to Mormons,” paper delivered at the BYU Feb 2011 Symposium on “The King James Bible and the Restoration,” online at http://lds.org/pages/king-james-symposium-video-gallery?lang=eng#what-the-bible-means-to-mormons . “When God chooses to speak through an individual, that person does not become a mindless ventriloquist, an earthly sound system through which the Almighty can voice himself. Rather the person becomes enlightened and filled with intelligence or truth.” David L. Paulsen, “Are Christians Mormons? Reassessing Joseph Smith’s Theology in His Bicentennial,” BYU Studies, 45/1 (2006), 35-128; examining seven major points of LDS theology: spiritual gifts & the reopening of the biblical canon; God as a personal and passible being; Godhead as three distinct personages; deification; the divine feminine; God as eternally self-surpassing; salvation for the dead. John C. Polkinghorne, Faith, Science and Understanding, A Nota Bene Book (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 2000). The role of revelation in religion, the interaction of science and theology. Richard G. Scott, “To Acquire Spiritual Guidance,” LDS General Conference, Oct 2009, Ensign, 39/11 (Nov 2009), online at https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/10/to-acquire-spiritual-guidance?lang=eng . Ann. Taves, “History and the Claims of Revelation: Joseph Smith and the Materialization of the Golden Plates,” Numen, 61/2-3 (Mar 18, 2014):182-207, online at https://www.deepdyve.com/browse/journals/numen/2014/v61/i2-3 , and at http://www.religion.ucsb.edu/wp-content/uploads/B-6-Golden-Plates-Numen.pdf .
  14. Many of our most recent General Authorities, including Pres Monson, served in the military during WW II.
  15. "Cheap grace" is not an LDS charge against Protestants of any coloration, but is rather a matter of harsh dispute within Protestant denominations. German Lutherans' failure to adequately confront Nazism is merely one example of that issue, some of which stems from the virulence of Martin Luther's own anti-Jewish ravings.* Such an accusation might have remained a presentist mistake had it not been for the overwhelming 20th century hatred of Jews among both Protestant and Catholic German people (a hatred also characteristic of the Polish people). Also, Luther's contempt for the Epistle of James indicated yet another Protestant failing: Attention only to carefully selected Scriptures which support one's apriori theology -- which non-Mormon biblical scholars term "text abuse." Some LDS were Nazis, including Helmuth Hübner's branch president, and plenty of German Mormons served in the Wermacht. I have heard the personal testimony of Helmuth's teenage buddies, who were likewise actively anti-Nazi. Bonhoeffer was not alone in his rejection of evil. That Pres Heber J. Grant was an isolationist was quite a normal position for most Americans before WW II, something which bedeviled FDR, until we had no choice but to serve in an all out war with the Axis powers. There is no reason to demand or expect that Pres Grant would be politically sophisticated in such matters. Indeed, the Mormon American military officer in charge of creating a democratic post-War German government had been a naive admirer of Hitler's Germany in the pre-War period. Despite his Harvard education, he could not see the forest for the trees. Our hindsight is typically 20x20, and our critiques often founded on erroneous belief in the infallibility of religious leaders. * See the discussion and sources in Hans J. Hillerbrand, “Martin Luther and the Jews,” in James H. Charlesworth, ed., Jews and Christians: Exploring the Past, Present, and Future (Crossroad, 1990), 127-150; Luther called for the burning of Jewish synagogues and for the persecution of Jews – his writings on Jews have now been formally rejected by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.