• Announcements

    • Nemesis

      Contact Us Broken   09/27/2016

      Users, It has come to our attention that the contact us feature on the site is broken.  Please do not use this feature to contact board admins.  Please go through normal channels.  If you are ignored there then assume your request was denied. Also if you try to email us that email address is pretty much ignored.  Also don't contact us to complain, ask for favors, donations, or any other thing that you may think would annoy us.  Nemesis

Kevin Christensen

  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Kevin Christensen last won the day on April 7 2016

Kevin Christensen had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

3,792 Excellent

About Kevin Christensen

  • Rank
    Separates Water & Dry Land
  • Birthday 04/28/1954

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Bethel Park, PA

Recent Profile Visitors

18,403 profile views
  1. That particular question, what happens if I put Barker's reading of the Servant song into Abinadi's setting, is in my personal "someday, when I have time" queue.
  2. Have you read this yet?, on "The Original Setting of the Fourth Servant Song". http://www.margaretbarker.com/Papers/FourthServantSong.pdf Best, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  3. Jesus the Christ remains influential, deservedly so. When I read it on my mission in England in 1974, the cultural vibe I felt that reading it was a cultural rite of passage, an initiation into diving into the deep end of the pool. Since then I've learned that the pool is connected to seas, the seas to oceans, the oceans on a planet, and the planet a speck amid countless galaxies. We all have to start somewhere, and if a lot of us start there, that becomes place of common vocabulary, understanding, and experience, which is good for community building. And yes, it remains influential in that it importantly codified particular ways of thinking, and became a cultural touchstone, a book that a great many people read, and therefore, conditioned and guided a great deal of thought. In one sense, yes, it was Jesus the Christ, and a near contemporary First Presidency Statement that codified the idea of Jesus being Jehovah of the Old Testament. However, I now think that (contrary to a famous Sunstone essay by Thomas Alexander and essays by Boyd Kirtland), the notion of Jesus as Jehovah is inherent from the start of Mormonism, if not fully grasped by the diverse membership in the absence of a pedagogical book like Jesus the Christ. On this see the essay by Bruening and Paulson: https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1454&index=12 I've read a book length version of the essay and find it convincing and impressive. I'm particularly impressed with final line of their footnote three. "Most proponents of this developmental theory make the same claims and use the same proof texts." Rather then generalizing from those few anchoring proof texts, Bruening and Paulson make a comprehensive attempt to read the Book of Mormon comprehensively and contextually. And that, I think, changes things. And next time you sing "Praise to the Man" or "Jesus, Once of Humble Birth" pay close attention to the thought behind the words crossing your tongue. "Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah, Jesus anointed that prophet and seer" And "Once a meek and lowly lamb, now the Lord, the Great I AM." Those hymns long predate the First Presidency statement and the publication of Jesus the Christ, and were not referenced by either Alexander or Kirtland. For me though, while I young and splashing around in the pool of thought available then, I was initially impressed by Alexander and Kirtland in the 1980s. Then in 1999 I read Margaret Barker's The Great Angel: A Study of Israel's Second God. In my personal experience, and that of several other LDS scholars I know, the common reaction produced the same one word review. "WOW!" She made the case far more comprehensively and powerfully than any LDS scholar, including Talmage, had ever done. She drew on sources he did not have and used language skills he did not possess. And yes, while he wrote physically in the temple, she got there spiritually, the Temple being her goal and key. And she produced a body of work that connected to the Book of Mormon in ways that neither we nor Barker had imagined, but which strikes me as fulfilling the prophesy in 1 Nephi 13. "All the texts in the Hebrew Bible distinguish clearly between the divine sons of Elohim/Elyon and those human beings who are called sons of Yahweh. This must be significant. It must mean that the terms originated at a time when Yahweh was distinguished from whatever was meant by El/Elohim/Elyon. A large number of texts continued to distinguish between El Elyon and Yahweh, Father and Son, and to express this distinction in similar ways with the symbolism of the temple and the royal cult. By tracing these patterns through a great variety of material and over several centuries, Israel’s second God can be recovered." Barker, Great Angel, 10, emphasis deleted. Also, “This distinction is important for at least two reasons; Yahweh was one of the sons of El Elyon; and Jesus in the Gospels was described as a Son of El Elyon, God Most High.” Barker, Great Angel, 4. The Book of Mormon keeps the same distinction and identity. The source of confusion for Mormon readers is the combination of cultural conditioning from other faith backgrounds combined with the assumption that a Son cannot also be a Father and have a Father who is not the Son, an assumption I find contradicted everytime I shave and brush my teeth and see a son who is also a father and has a father who is not the son. Best, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  4. Yes, it is very outdated. It was based on several "Victorian Lives of Jesus" and written, of course, long before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hammadi texts, which provide a much more contemporary contextualization for early Christianity. I've read it three or four times, most recently six or seven years ago. There is a good Sunstone article on the dependence on the Victorian Lives of Jesus. https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/063-08-13.pdf I recall some references to Book of Mormon geography that are also way out of date, a bit cringe worthy from my perspective. It's fine to read as a primer, to get started with an important text for LDS thought, an important text in the history of LDS thought, but a lot can and did happen in scholarship in a hundred years. McConkie intended his Messiah books to be a successor, but they suffer from a tendency to use 20 words when one would do. I have some memory of an LDS anthology of several contemporary scholars commenting on the book, but at the moment, I don't recall whether it has been published or not. At this point, I'd be more inclined to recommend this one: http://www.margaretbarker.com/Publications/KingOfTheJews.htm Best, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  5. And of course there are those who have the courage to read up on what has been written by people who have at least 15 to 20 years of schooling in Egyptology regarding Joseph Smith incorrectly identifying two obviously female figures in facsimile 3: From Nibley, Abraham in Egypt, "All the Court's a Stage" https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1093&index=13 More recently, in a 2014 thread at Interpreter, Jeff Lindsay made this comment: More recently, 2016, Lindsay offered this: http://www.jefflindsay.com/lds/isis-maat-book-of-abraham/ Also very suggestive. I've long noticed the that many of the most interesting things I have learned about things Mormon have come whenever I ran across something I did not expect, to take the time to seriously explore what I should expect. It has also taught me to appreciate the comment made by a famous carpenter about checking one's own eye for beams in order to see clearly. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  6. Notice that D&C 1 includes a formal statement of "mine authority" and "the authority of my servants " (verse 6). Notice how verses 24-28 bluntly set realistic expectations for us: And there is the matter of what is, and what is not doctrine. According this particular authority, what should I expect to happen if I build my house of faith on the foundation of "blacks and the priesthood"? And who should I blame if I ignore the blunt statement of the "authority of my servants" and assume that they should display no weakness, no err, should never have to seek wisdom since they should have it already on the shelf in a Big Book of What to Think, never sin, and not have conditions to to meet in order to receive knowledge? If I remove the beams from my own eye before attempting to discern what goes on elsewhere, does that not help me see clearly? One thing I see clearly is that the leaders of the LDS church are inspired, but not sock puppets. And it is enough for me to understand that the guarantee on them amounts to expedience. Expedient is enough. Just saying. Again. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  7. Pogi's list of Joseph Smith quotes are relevant. I've used most of them repeatedly over the past several decades. And there is the definition of what is and is not doctrine in 3 Nephi, provided by a not obscure authority, stating that building on anything more, or less than faith, repentance, baptism, receipt of the Holy Spirit (that is, ongoing revelation, rather than static, on-the-shelf orthodoxy bound and labeled as The Big Book of What to Think), and enduring to the end, where an important aspect of enduring includes putting up with the weakness and opinions of others, including the expressly fallible authorities (see D&C 1 on "inasmuch as they (church leaders) have erred" and how revelation comes not all at once, but from time to time, condition on both expedience and revelation. And then we have things like one of Hugh Nibley's last essays, "Abraham's Temple Drama" reading Abraham as a ritual drama, and Margaret Barker's Temple Theology, making point that the pattern of creation in Genesis follows the pattern of the erection of the tabernacle, the tabernacle being a portable temple, and the temple being a scale model of the universe, thus proving a simple answer to the question about how you build the heavens and the earth in six days. You build a model, and while you are doing the model, which is a symbol, why not go all the way an admit that the days are symbols as well? So unsurprisingly, the well-informed Robert Smith is correct to point out the difference between a Temple Drama and a science text. And we have the issue in the famous Book of Mormon passage about "no death" coming along with no consideration of the context. No death where and when? Stop thinking in absolutes when discussing relative matters. If the last thing an earth needs is a gardener, that is the first thing a garden needs. So Adam, the high priest, who is "many" is the last figure in the creation of the heavens and the earth, as represented by an at the Temple or tabernacle) (at least one Moses was shown among countless numbers, and remember that like the stars in the sky, ancient temples are also everywhere, as Nibley also observes), must be the first in the garden story. And what happens before the garden and outside the garden, and in what form beyond the figurative drama, remain open questions, NOT a proof text to end discussion, set up stakes and bounds to thought, or smack the Mormons by pretending that the verse is self explaining, and that no other relevant statements need be considered. So two Bible stories are talking from different perspectives, relative views, not absolute view. Which means that Moses and Abraham and the Endowment are also offering different perspectives, relative views, not uninterpreted absolute views. David Bailey's website on Science and Mormonism is packed with interesting stuff. Ironically, some of the most insistent in proclaiming the authority of modern science relative to ancient writings and accounts turn out to demonstrate remarkable ignorance regarding the best understanding of those ancient texts. But the game is more like rhetorical three card monte than real study. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  8. Some very thorough and carefully contextualized takes on the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith's accounts of the first vision make the case that Joseph Smith did not evolve from a Trinitarian to a Godhead view, but rather always taught a social trinity. Granted that his followers came from conventional backgrounds, and it takes time to grasp things. That's a human problem. See for instance, Gardner here: https://www.fairmormon.org/conference/august-2003/monotheism-messiah-and-mormons-book I've also written about this in various places (http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=16&num=2&id=547), and cited other scholars who have gone through every single verse in the Book of Mormon, rather than just the handful of context free proof-texts that typically get cited when these claims come up. And Matthew Brown here: https://www.fairmormon.org/conference/august-2006/revised-or-unaltered-joseph-smiths-foundational-stories And notice that Brown points out this: I would also mention that D&C 76, the vision of the Father and the Son reported by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon (two witnesses, I notice) also appeared in 1832, and that none of Joseph's contemporaries made the complaint about changing from metaphysical Trinity to social Trinity. And of course, there is the fact that in the 1832 account, where he says, the ^Lord opened the heavens to me and I saw the Lord", the first "Lord" is an insert above the line. Had the insert been "God" or "Father", we'd have no controversy. And the 1835 account has the Father appearing first, making the introduction and then Jesus. And he did comment on the exact resemblance. Few, if any, of the LDS women I know strike me as particularly subjugatable, particularly via gentleness, meekness, long-suffering, pure knowledge, and love unfeigned, which happen to be only legitimate means at hand. Most of the fuss and anxiety concerning legal issues around marriage comes as though Jesus is primarily a lawyer, who will use the law to overwhelm and crush any personal feelings that people have about what happens in this life and the next, rather than seeing Jesus as one who will, through love and knowledge "dry all our tears." FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  9. I periodically cite this essay by Fr John McDade on Jesus in Recent Research for the powerful point it makes on how significantly the way a person decides to contextualize Jesus influences how they see Jesus. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiXuurr_c7TAhVKxYMKHSK_DrwQFggiMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fstatic1.1.sqspcdn.com%2Fstatic%2Ff%2F38692%2F394611%2F1270557825007%2FJesus%2Bin%2BRecent%2BResearch.pdf%3Ftoken%3DaL8uUvY9XLYs48KRVVqPPpByuTc%3D&usg=AFQjCNGfSaGPO7NYAwM977u8eGB4drFpJQ It's very much worth reading, as well as in comparison with Richard Bushman's comments on the same issue in Joseph Smith Biography at the 2005 Washington DC Joseph Smith Conference. http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/byusq/vol44/iss4/3/ All worth comparing with the parable of the sower, on the context for the seed, the harvest, and Jesus's comment that "Know ye not this parable? How then shall ye know all parables?" FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  10. She got excommunicated for a very public apostasy. That is. I read it, and a lot of the conversation that is generated, which, if you make that sort of effort, leads to all sorts of interesting things. This, for instance, from Richard L. Anderson: http://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1127&index=17 Anderson goes on with this, on the topic of whether Joseph Smith sent for the Nauvoo Legion from Carthage: Enter Mark Hofmann. Interviewed according to his plea bargain, he told prosecuting attorneys that he created a Joseph command from Carthage after reading the above Brodie sources: “First let me say this is a very poor forgery and it was quickly done.”21 Forensic specialists examined this Dunham letter under microscope and ultraviolet light and found the same ink cracks and light shifts that marked other Hofmann forgeries.22 Before all this was known, the counterfeit order was included in The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, on the basis of normal handwriting identification, though later editions listed Joseph’s fictitious letter on an errata sheet as one of the fraudulent items mistakenly included in the collection. A recent history, The Mormon Hierarchy, shows no knowledge of the above facts, a symptom of its preoccupation with sources claiming violence in the Mormon past. Yet ignorance of the fraudulent Joseph Smith order “in his own handwriting” is not my main point here.23 In rigorous history, proving opportunity to know is not the same thing as proving knowledge. After quoting the forged rescue order, Mormon Hierarchy tells how Dunham disobeyed it, using the sentence quoted from the Allen Stout journal. “And while they were in jail Brother Joseph wrote an official order to Jonathan Dunham to bring the legion and rescue him from being killed, but Dunham did not let a single man or mortal know that he had received such orders.” The one central issue is whether or not Stout spoke from personal knowledge, and he gives no clue that he did. Recreating the mob mentality at Carthage, Dan Jones tells how he was given a letter from Joseph at noontime on the day of martyrdom, an urgent request to attorney Orville H. Browning at Quiny to represent the Prophet in two days at a treason hearing. Just before Jones rode away, “News of the letter went throughout the mob like the wings of the breeze, and some claimed that it was orders for the Nauvoo Legion to come there to save the prisoners, and others claimed some other things.”24 It is irresponsible to quote Stout without showing that he had no better source than excited rumors. As discussed, John Taylor settles the issue by his firsthand report from the jail that Jospeh Smith would not authorize use of force. But Mormon Hierarchy‘s skewed evaluation of Joseph is followed by another of Jonathan Dunham. In a Brodie-like disclosure, we are told that word of Dunham’s disobedience spread, and “Nauvoo Mormons” seem to be divided into two groups: “Some called him a ‘coward and traitor.’ Others dismissed him as a ‘fool and idiot.’ “25 Although these categories carry the weight of a total opinion poll, the sentence is copied from the 1873 comments of Stenhouse, a disaffected Mormon who never saw Joseph Smith’s Nauvoo. The distortion is evident, since Nauvoo sources continue to show that Dunham was highly trusted after the martyrdom. The most obvious place to begin is a computer search of the History of the Church and Nauvoo periodicals, which indicate Dunham’s involvement in significant events after Joseph’s martyrdom: September 13, 1844, Dunham elected by the officers on the drill field as brigadier general of the second cohort of the legion, Brigham Young present; September 16, 1844, participated with the First Presidency and head legion officers in dedication the arsenal site; January 15, 1845, his name published with about four dozen priesthood leaders authorized to collect tithing and donations for the Church, with approval of Bishops Whitney and Miller.26 Further evidence of Dunham’s respect in the eyes of leading Mormons comes in his admission to the Council of Fifty, the body under the Twelve involved in managing Church secular interests, including the coming exodus. On March 1, 1845, William Clayton noted Dunham’s initiation and appointment as assistant in a confidential mission to build Indian relationships, proceeding “from tribe to tribe to unite the Lamanites and find a home for the Saints.” Designations were made “by unanimous vote of the Council.” The mission had highest priority because it would help “fill Joseph’s measures” for a western location from which a worldwide message could proceed. Assignments were modified on April 11, when “President Young appointed J. Dunham, C. Shumway, Lorenzo Young to go with Brother Dana on the Western Mission.” This was Lewis Dana, whom Clayton called “a Lamanite of the Oneida nation.” Four days later Phineas Young was substituted for Lorenzo, with an open-ended commission to go “to the Indian Council at Council Bluffs and thence if they think best to the Pacific Ocean.”27 Apparently general goodwill came from this diplomatic expedition, and Presidents Kimball and Young considered it important enough to record the setting apart and departure of the group, as well as intelligence that Dunham died on July 29, 1845.28 Dunham’s record in the last year of his life does more than redeem his reputation. Had he disobeyed a Carthage order from Joseph, Brigham Young never would have trusted him to be third in command of the legion or to take tithes from the Saints or to accomplish a sensitive and dangerous mission. Dunham’s post-martyrdom career proves that he was far from intellectually or morally bankrupt in the eyes of the Saints. Adopting these 1873 labels of Stenhouse is not responsible history. Dozens of eyewitnesses report Joseph’s farewells in leaving Nauvoo, as well as his discussions in the jail. They agree with Taylor that the Prophet was resigned to a probable martyrdom and was committed to leaving events in the hands of God. Several of Joseph’s statements in his final four days show in fact that he retained the spirit of prophecy. John Taylor rode with Joseph to Carthage and soon published the Prophet’s remarks on leaving Nauvoo—that he went innocent to the slaughter and would be murdered (D&C 135:4). In ancient history one might take a general report as indicative of public knowledge, but in Mormon history many correlating participants usually make historical hearsay unnecessary. Stout’s untraceable claim of a rescue order sharply deviates from the norm established by direct observers. The resources for understanding the Prophet include official minutes, letter books, discourse reports, private journals, contemporary newspapers, and responsible recollections. These furnish a control on Joseph Smith’s Nauvoo life, and a test and corrective for eccentric documents. If you take the time to do the reading, and a lot of work has been done by many different people, the natural benefit is a good sense of just how much we've learned since Brodie wrote. If you understand how paradigms change, often over generations rather than in a moment, how history changes in light of new information, new perspectives, and it you approach LDS history without a sense that nothing once heard in class should ever change and that we are entitled to an effort-free gift of omniscience from everyone who happens to have been made use of institutionally, whether early journal keepers, historians, manual writers, Sunday School teachers, seminary teachers, or whomever, then the notion of better history, of further light and knowledge, of increased understanding, can be part of a sense of enlightenment, rather than disillusion and socially useful resentment serving an sense of entitlement. Regarding Brodie's place, Midgley commented in the Review: http://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1453&index=3 FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  11. A lot was going on in the church and society in general from 1945, not just Brodie but changes in historiography, an as Kuhn says, paradigm change often takes a generation or more, and to get to Bushman and the Joseph Smith Paper's project is something that takes time. Midgley had a good essay on that in the Review, treating Brodie as a useful catalyst that prodded LDS historians to improve. Personally, as an English Major, I like good satire, not as the main course, but as part of a balanced diet, it contains necessary and beneficial nutrients. Satire can be abused, as well as abusive. But the corrosives, as William Blake observes in his satire, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" can be "salutary and medicinal, melting apparent surfaces away, and displaying the infinite which was hid." And I'm very fond of Sounding Brass. I find it the funniest sustained Mormon writing ever. Afterwards, I went on to read Wife No. 19, and yep, he's right about the oft married Ann Eliza Webb Dee Young Denning, who ought not be recast as a Feminist Hero for the Ages. There are far better candidates to choose from. Back when this thread first started, I quote Bushman from that Bushman text on Nibley and Brodie, page 9, end of second paragraph, the passage I was thinking of: (Incidentally, it launches a rather powerful attack on Brodie, in my opinion. In recent years, the pam- phlet has been so criticized for its sarcasm that it was a pleasure for me to discover on rereading it how on the mark it was.) Best, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  12. Thanks for posting the Nibley lecture on Satire. It is disturbingly relevant reading during the current US administration, even more so now than when he wrote. And Late Night satire on that lamentable administration. My wife and I treat as necessary therapy. Samantha Bee, Colbert, Trevor Noah... I do think it notable that Bushman remains impressed by No Ma'am That's Not History. as "on point". And try reading Lavina Fielding Anderson's take on Brodie in Revisiting No Man Knows My History. That is very insightful if you want to recognize other voices besides Nibley. I've also got a copy of F. L. Stewart's take on Brodie. And several others. Eugene England liked her prose and depth of research but noted that because she did not see most of his personal writings, she totally misconstrued his personal character, a rather serious problem for a biographer. And if you look at any post-war Film Noir, you get a deeper look at how different 1940's post war culture is from today as part of the background context in which Nibley wrote. And if you look at Nibley's The Sacrifice of Sarah, and Patriarchy and Matriarchy, you get a better look at how his thought on women changed. Just saying. Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  13. One can actually search out the Biblical Keys for Discerning True and False Prophets in order to get a clear idea of the whole range of identifying characteristics that makes the fruit distinguishable. This essay collects 28 distinct Biblical tests, noting that the one that most people know and use the most also happens to be the one most qualified in Biblical practice and example and most abused by those rejecting Biblical prophets. https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Biblical_Keys_for_Discerning_True_and_False_Prophets And it helps to be aware of the sorts of mistakes that Biblical peoples made in the process, and the sorts of things the investigators ought to do in order to get the best answers. It pays to be particularly leary of claims both of infallibility and of the potential that the critics may not be infallibly correct in their approaches. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  14. The existence of Joseph Smith a significant figure in history who made extraordinary claims guarantees that everyone who encounters those claims will apply what they consider a legitimate prophet test, whether that amounts to dismissing the notion of "Seeing angels in an age of railways," or the prop 8 home invasion add, or Meadow Mountains or the Priesthood policy, or the 1912 New York Times panel of experts demonstrating once again, "Have any of the rulers or of the scribes believed on him?" or "There is a prophet.. but I hate him, for he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil," or "Almost..." or "This is a hard saying... Who can hear it" or "Great is Diana of the Ephesians?" or "If we follow him, the Romans will take our place," or his disciples did something horrifying, or unpopular policies or positions on Liquor by the drink, or gay and lesbian issues, or heretical and unconventional teachings relative to larger Christian tradition or social inertia, or a handful of scandalous quotes, or the presence of unpleasant or even toxic individuals within community, or appeal more appealing voices outside, everyone applies some test, whether casually, rigorously, as an unconscious choice about which society they want to be accepted in, as part of a need to find a key that opens a door in a direction they favor, whether in, or out, everyone, with no exceptions, who hears the story tests it in some way. When I set about seeing what I could find, I did not know what I would find nor whether it would be relevant or ambiguous or rigorous or clear and straight forward. But one of the things that I saw very early on was that anyone could dismiss all I had found by saying something as simple as, "So what?" All I can do is invite, to speak up, to offer my own perspective, for what that may be worth. One of the things that most startled and unsettled me in putting my study together came in the realization that the 70 or so arguments against true prophets had not gone out of date. I'd seen them all... and 2000 and 3000 years had not changed humanity all that much. And then I finally saw that all of them boiled down to fear and desire, and how that fit with the Buddha and the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. It is something that having seen, I cannot un-see, and it is so simple and fundamental cannot stop it from illuminating everything that I do see. And no, I do not want you to be Othello. I do not like seeing anyone's faith die. I much prefer the comedies to the tragedies, with problems solved, conflicts put aside, pains healed, debts paid, lovers united, and a song and a dance with all hands joined, and even cynical Jacques finding a reason for hope. Like any parable, metaphor, comparison, it is meant to draw attention to particular possibilities, to raise questions and encourage inquiries. It's an invitation to look and consider that like any other invitation can be dismissed at will. Best, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  15. As I mentioned, I took several years compiling 28 Biblical tests for both true and false prophets (something, I notice with amazement that I still retain decades later, that no one else had ever done), so that I could be confident that I would recognize a prophet if I saw one. I also studied what mistakes to avoid (70 Biblical examples of arguments against true prophets, such as "How can a sinner do such miracles?"), and ways to remove beams from my own eye. It seems clear to me that hypothetical space must be defined by a hypothesis. And each hypothesis must be tested not only as a distinct hypothesis, but against competing offerings. Everyone has to select where they want to focus their time and attention. The trick is how we go about deciding what is important, and what is not. The church is not what you thought it was. Paul says, when he was a child, he thought as a child... The issue for me is not whether the Church or Joseph Smith are what I thought they were when I was young and naive, given that I began, like everyone else, as a child. Nor is the issue whether the Church or Joseph Smith are what I want them to be, whether I am frustrated in any way. It is whether the founding and defining inspirations are Real. That, I think, is a rather different thing. Rather then disillusion, or shattering, my experience has been an ongoing enlightment, unfolding, an expansion of my mind, and enlargement of my soul. For instance, no one taught me that Alma's conversion was comparable to a Near Death Experience, including all of the after effects. I cannot be bitter and cynical about that change in my understanding. Sorenson and Gardner and Larrry Poulson, among others have radically changed my view of the New World setting of the Book of Mormon, so that I see something very different than what I got from looking at Friberg paintings. Again, rather than shattering, I feel expansion in discovering that some things were not what I thought. When I read Margaret Barker's The Great Angel, I had my thinking completely changed with respect to the Book of Mormon, again, enlightenment rather than disappointment. Watching, and experience such change and transformation of my thinking is like watching a seed grow and change. Rather than complain, "Why is it doing that? It no longer looks like it once did... it's not the way I thought it would always be!", I'm rather excited by what I see and curious to find what else may happen. These things, I notice, have to do with the foundational clams of the Book of Mormon, its authenticity. Not with later social issues that, no matter how colorful or controversial (including the sorts of things I read in Compton on the plural wives of Joseph Smith), don't account for the foundation. While Othello is strangling the life out of Desdemona, he is absolutely certain that she is not what he thought she was, and as he walks away, the last thing he wants to discover is that he could have possibly made a mistake. I am one of those who understands his bitterness and disillusion and pain, but I don't think that what he needs most from his community is sympathy and understanding. It's not all about Othello's pain and disillusion. There is the question of why certain other people disagree with Othello regarding Desdemona, and what they might know or have seen that he has not considered, and the question of what certain things he has seen might mean when considered within other frameworks, within a rather different hypothetical space. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA