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Kevin Christensen

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About Kevin Christensen

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

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    Canonsburg, PA

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  1. Kevin Christensen

    Book of Enoch

    That year, yep. No TV, and a tendency to finish at a single sitting. And much of it would be Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jack Vance, Fred Saberhagen, Ursula LeGuinn, Roger Zelazny. Not Tolstoy. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  2. Kevin Christensen

    Book of Enoch

    The year after I got back from my mission (Sept 1975), I read around 300 SF novels, and I later (around 1980) sold a novella and short story, twice each, within two weeks. I have read a lot of SF. 1 Enoch has some strange things in different sections, but it does not read like a novel. It has five very different sections, including the accounts of the fallen angels, the parables, the apocalypse, the calendrical chapter (Luminaries), and collections of woes. I have never read a better succinct description than "a repository of priestly traditions." It's eclectic, a collection, not a continuous account with a consistent narrative or single story. The oldest copies come from Qumran, where there were at least 20 copies, compared to 21 of Isaiah. If you read Nibley's essay on The Enoch Figure in "Enoch the Prophet" of the Collected Works, he notes the antiquity and range of the themes that appear in the fallen angel stories, as he compares them with a range of myths, including Greek. Elsewhere, he observes that Samuel in the Book of Mormon appears to quote 1 Enoch in saying "woe unto the rich". That is interesting, but not overwhelming by itself. However, it's interesting to compare the various "woe" pronouncements in 1 Enoch with Jacob's list of woes. The technique is similar. And I argued in one of by Barker essays that the way that the book of Mosiah describes Amulon's wicked priests makes allusive comparisons with the Fallen Angel stories. That is, they are a corrupt priesthood, they steal wives they should not have, they teach the enemies of the Nephites various skills that turn out to threaten the Nephites, trading their Temple knowledge for earthly power, and, they come to a bad end, hunted down and destroyed. https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1081&index=15 And, if you read Jack Welch's review of Nickelsburg's then-new translation, you'll see this: https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1458&index=18 And as I said, an LDS student named Daniel Gibbon used to have a web page with a great many comparisons to other Book of Mormon passages. And the Bible has around 128 allusions to 1 Enoch including a quotation in Jude, a person who was in Jesus's family. Barker's The Older Testament explores ties between Isaiah and 1 Enoch. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  3. Kevin Christensen

    Book of Enoch

    1 Enoch has been very important in Margaret Barker's work. http://www.margaretbarker.com/Publications/LostProphet.htm Also, in a more technical manner in The Older Testament. She succinctly describes 1 Enoch as a repository of temple traditions, pointing back to the 1 Temple High Priests, and important to the beginnings of Christianity. And there are some interesting resonances with LDS scripture. Nibley (A Strange Thing in the Land) and Welch (a review of a recent Enoch translation that points out how many angel names correspond to happenings in 3 Nephi) have pointed out several. There used to be an interesting web essay with many more comparisons to the Book of Mormon, but the link I had doesn't work anymore. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  4. Kevin Christensen

    President Oaks' advice to young married couples in Chicago

    We all start out ignorant. My point is that the it's not just the information available that makes the difference. It's the processing, soil, seed, time and nurture. One person may say, upon encountering information for which they were not prepared, "I've feel betrayed and lied to by people I trusted." Another, may say, "Oh, that is interesting. I did not know that. I wonder where I can go to find out more?" Same seed, different soil. And different harvest. Jesus gives the bread of life sermon. Some say, "This is a hard saying. Who can hear it?" and leave. Others say, despite uncertainties and open questions, "Where shall we go? Thou has the words of eternal life." My lack of compassion? Thomas Kuhn explains that "anomaly emerges against a background of expectation." I have noticed that whenever I ran across something I did not expect, I have taken the time to ask, "What should I expect?" And that is one of the reasons I have been posting D&C 1:24-28 several times a year for decades. Regarding #3- "They purposely decided not to share it with you." I've met my teachers and leaders. I've been in classes, houses, and interacted. I've seen bookshelves. I've done so in dozens of wards across most of the US, 24 different wards and branches in England, and a few in Canada. They did not know, and I did not even know to ask is much more accurate. I've also considered Myers Briggs Personality Types, and the Perry Scheme for Cognitive and Ethical Growth. They have cast more light on human behavior than supposing a conscious conspiracy to deceive. Bishops and Stake Presidents and Sunday School teachers do not have training in "Things the Rabble Are Not Meant to Know." They come as they are, and most that I have known, don't know much more than is in the manuals. It would be nice if the manuals were better. However, would I personally be better off if I believed in my heart of hearts that all I need to do is sit and listen in regularly scheduled meetings and I will be informed in all things and prepared in all things and that I can trust that my leaders have it all on the shelf and all I need to is sit and take it in? It seems to me that the pedagogical lesson in any disappointments is that I need to seek and ask on my own. And pushing that lesson is more compassionate than joining with those who primarily want to share and bond over grievance and resentment. And I've learned from addiction recovery that one of the most important steps to take in healing from trauma is to "re-frame one's self as a survivor, rather than a victim." I think that helping answer questions and modeling alternative approaches is more compassionate and healing than consciously or unconsciously encouraging perpetual victimhood. Part of recovery is "dismantling the grievance story. I could describe how I felt when I discovered that after spending up to 16 hours a week in LDS sponsored activities I was unprepared to handle questions being tossed at me by English Middle schoolers passing around their first anti-Mormon pamphlets. As a consequence, I decided that if I wanted to be better prepared, I had to do the study myself. I later met a man in his thirties who has been so traumatized by his faith shattering encounter with the Tanners that just talking with me re-triggered his trauma. After he loaned me, "The Changing World of Mormonism, and I read it without being bothered (I had prepared myself), he asked, "How can you know what you know and believe what you believe?" I've published around 3 dozen articles over the years as part of my answering that question. I think it is a very good question, worth my best efforts. A big part of social discourse involves "controlling the narrative." I don't think the victim-hood narrative ought to dominate. I think it spiritually and socially unhealthy. That is, I resist out of concern and compassion and empathy. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  5. Kevin Christensen

    President Oaks' advice to young married couples in Chicago

    Personally, I spotted Allen's 1970 article in a stack of Improvement Eras in the family room of our basement after I got back from my mission in 1975. I'd decided to track down all things Nibley, after a member in Kendall England loaned me his copy of the 1957 Priesthood Manual, An Approach to the Book of Mormon. After reading the Nibley stuff, I took interest and read Allen's essay, and soon acquired Milton Bachman's book on the First Vision accounts which I got off the shelves at the SLC Deseret book near the Temple. And since I was becoming more interested in the kinds of things I was learning once I started seeking on my own initiative, rather than waiting to be spoonfed, I also got the Mormon Miscellaneous Reprint of the Dean Jesse article in BYU Studies that also included all of the then known accounts. https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/early-accounts-joseph-smiths-first-vision And over the years, I watched for the additional books, essays, including three detailed discussions discussions that appeared in at intervals in the Ensign, various other books on the First Vision (Matthew Brown, and Stephen Harper, etc.), and as the internet became a source, found and valued FAIR and Jeff Lindsay and much more. I got on the FARMS mailing list in around 1979 and began collecting reprints and new publications. By then I had spent considerable time exploring the U of U and BYU libraries, looking through bound periodicals, and collected important issues of BYU Studies, Dialogue, Sunstone, Journal of Mormon History and such, finding many things of interest in the used sections of Sam Wellers, or Cosmic Areoplane or the BYU Bookstore. I also xeroxed many things at both BYU and the U of U. One of the reasons that I have never become bitter about not having everything spoonfed to me is that I found that a great deal of this stuff had come into my house in back issues of the Improvement Era, and I had never so much as peeked on my own. Whose fault was that? But once I started seeking on my own initiative, pursuing my own questions, it became a continually rewarding and exciting treasure hunt. "Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened you." But not, "Blessed are they who sit like lumps, waiting to be spoonfed, for they shall never be caught off guard, and never ever disappointed by anyone." I saw that D&C 1 nicely sets expectations regarding my LDS leaders. "Inasmuch as they erred, it shall be made manifest." Not, "They shall be my omniscient sock puppets, never showing a trace of humanity or ignorance or prejudice or personality or individuality or culture." D&C 1 formally and bluntly says that even the leaders have to seek and ask, and get information from time to time. Not, all at once. This means, I should not put my trust in the arm of the flesh. For me, "How come no one told me this?" always has an obvious two part answer. 1- They probably didn't know, and 2- I wasn't interested enough, or curious enough to ask or seek out those who did know. So, alas, not being filled with a grievance story, and people to blame, and resentment to stew in, I have to continue in seeking out of the best books words of wisdom, as though that is just plain sensible and rewarding. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  6. At SA meetings, we use the Serenity Prayer: "God grand me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Thy will not mine be done." Everything I have ever read regarding reparative/conversion therapy made it sound Skinnerian and dubious. So in "A Mormon Rashomon," I wrote this: For example, I have a very different interpretation of the significance of the aversion/reparative therapy stories told in all three of these accounts. [41] This is not because I believe that aversion/reparative therapy is valid, but because my reasons for believing it to be an inappropriate treatment are different. In my current view, the main issue is not the direction of a person’s sexuality, but whether the overall pattern of behavior demonstrates sex addiction. Both heterosexuals and homosexuals can suffer from sex addiction, and that condition affects behavior via cravings combined with impaired judgment. Consider, for instance, whether sex addiction would be a reasonable diagnosis if the behavior was strictly heterosexual. For example, suppose that Steven had admitted to Emily that he’d had sex with at least twenty women during a six month binge, with some repeats, some just “fooling around,” and that “none of it meant anything” since he wasn’t in love. Suppose the post-divorce Gerald had his apartment filled with hardcore heterosexual pornography for Emily to view, and that on visits back home he brought an endless string of female lovers to introduce to the family? Would anyone be quick to dismiss the possibility of sex addiction in these cases? In all addictions, whether chemical or behavioral, the damage involves the enlargement of the dopamine receptors in the mid-brain, which produces increased craving, and a corresponding shrinking of the areas of the cerebral cortex associated with weighing risks and benefits in any action. Bluntly speaking, addiction involves actual brain damage. That damage affects cravings and the capacity to weigh consequences in a way that Alcoholics Anonymous pioneers accurately labeled as “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” Pelting the symptoms of that damage with disapproval or indulgence, excommunication or enabling, shaming or celebration does nothing to address the fact of the damage. All addiction involves the presence of a physiological basis for the combination of craving and impeded judgment. Readers of the narratives in our Mormon Rashomon should ask, “Do any of the key figures display powerful cravings? Do any of the figures display impaired judgment regarding the risks and benefits of their choices in regard to those cravings?” ... I see aversion/reparative therapy as an attempt to re-direct the symptoms while failing to recognize and treat the actual damage. Kuhn explains that paradigms are established by means of "standard examples that embody a set of conceptual, methodological, and metaphysical assumptions." Barbour says paradigms are "a research tradition established by historical exemplars." They establish the "methods, problem field, and standards of solution." In social politics, the particular stories we tell, or exclude are the means to "control the narrative." Joseph Campbell talks about how one of the functions of myth is to "sustain a particular social order." One of the things I noticed long ago about the focus on the failures of, and dubious nature of of reparative therapy is that they serve to support a particular narrative, a particular social order that savors the ideology in which people are born one particular way, and nothing can change that. In all the discussion in this thread, no one has mentioned the possible relevance of sex addiction as a factor in behavior. Reparative therapy does not treat sex addiction. It attempts to reprogram sexual orientation. About 1/4 to 1/3 of all the men I have known in recovery meetings have had male/male experience as a significant or exclusive factor in their behavior. None of them supposed they were trying to change their orientation by coming to meetings. None of them has regaled me with horror tales of such therapy. But I have known many who have been very happy in monogamous m/f relationships. Much happier than when they were acting out with numerous male partners. They have learned through recovery that sex can be optional, that they can do without, and therefore, they can put other people and other things, including God and faith, first in their lives. As I wrote: Which brings me back to the serenity prayer, and the need for "serenity to accept what cannot be changed, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." If the notion of sexual addiction is excluded from the narrative to the point of never being mentioned or discussed even as a possible factor in behavior, how can people ever benefit from the wisdom such knowledge might bestow? It happens that one of the most defining attributes of sex addiction is a subjective conviction that "sex is my most important need" that is, it is the First and Great Commandment, to which all other considerations must compromise, and finally, sex addicts become "sharply attuned to the defects of others. Our ability to detect hypocrisy in others seemed to increase in direct proportion to our own self-blindness, as though we had to sharpen our critical spirit to keep from looking inward." (The White Book, 54). That is, addicts voice grievances compulsively, grievances designed to justify and support and excuse their behavior. So a part of recovery always involves "dismantling the grievance story," something that can be difficult when the grievance story itself "controls the narrative" and sustains a particular social order, in which which a foundational concern is that my will, not Thine be done. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  7. Kevin Christensen

    Statement on Book of Mormon geography

    "It's always been assumed" ... Coasting on unexamined assumptions has never been a particularly fruitful way to discover anything. We could assume that names are both unchangeable constants and unique, emanating from the objects and persons from which they spontaneously arose, the same to all observers and never ever being applied to anything else. But oddly, I do not make that assumption which is why I never confuse the Bountiful where Nephi built his boat, and Bountiful where another Nephi described the temple where Jesus descended, and the Bountiful where I was born. Call me naive but I've never had any existential crises over that replication of names. Should I have done so? We could keep the three Bountifuls straight easily by considering things like text and context and the well known tendency of people to apply old names to new places. But why muddle the waters with relevant information? And then there are the different Almas, Nephis, Lehis, Jerusalems... The hysteria over Two Cumorahs is just that. What makes a theory useful is not just that is airy-fairy and insubstantial, (a mere "theory") but that it is specific and testable and accurate, detailed, comprehensive, fruitful, aesthetically pleasing and simple, as well as promising in dealing with any unresolved issues. While Sorenson's two part series did not go into a lot of detail on Book of Mormon issues, other sources do. See Sorenson's Source Book, and Sperry's essay, and Mormon's Map, Palmer's book, and John Clark's careful examination of relevant Book of Mormon passages, for instance. And Larry Poulson. But Sorenson's critics, especially the knee jerk sort, never bother to make careful accounting of the Book of Mormon text. It was careful readers of the Book of Mormon, who wanted to account for things like the account of Limhi's explorers and Alma the Younger's people going between Nephi and Zarahemla and the specific mention of 22 days of walking, and the movements described in the parts of the Book of Ether (Sperry goes into that). And the military movements in Alma and Helaman. As well as specific constraints like their relations to cities built of cement to the north, and a narrow neck, and further south, a narrow strip of wilderness that stretches from the east sea to the west sea that comes between Zarahemla and Nephi. (check Google earth for candidates for that feature... I can think of only one in all of North and South America. And that narrow strip of wilderness has to include the source of a Sidon candidate, which then flows first from east to West, then goes north, and has enough velocity that it can take dead bodies down stream. And things like written language, high culture, volcanic activity at the right time and place, etc, etc. Oppressive heat at the New Year. (And that points unambiguously to the vicinity of the Buffalo, NY area?) The details in the Book of Mormon have led some careful readers to question the un-examined assumptions of early readers. We know that the early readers of the Book of Mormon did not look carefully at the Book of Mormon because they left no record of having done so, and even the comments added by Orson Pratt had to be removed because they were so obviously wrong. The first serious attempt to be comprehensive appeared in 1938. (The Washburns). If the comments of early Saints were based on revelation, then they should match the accounts of the authors of the Book. If they don't, that is not grounds for crisis, but confirmation of D&C 1 and the blunt statement of LDS leaders that "inasmuch as they erred, it shall be made manifest." While some prefer to do Book of Mormon geography by means of references to informal letters mentioning the plains of the Nephites, or inconsistent campfire gossip about a character who does not appear in the Book of Mormon, or a few early applications of the name Cumorah to what Joseph initially described as an un-named "a hill of considerable size", I think it the actual text of the Book of Mormon deserves some close consideration. Incidentally, Joseph Smith made some pointed complaints about the Saints who go all to pieces when they come across anything challenging their traditions. He also talks of having to withhold information on grounds of the vulnerability and un-readiness of his listeners. Expedience, you see. And rather than accept the notion that Asking (backed by Study) combined with Experience from God's perspective are conditions for revelation, some have always sought the leverage of supposing that if there is a God, He would always act and behave the way I think he should. For instance, when Lazarus died, some argued that if Jesus were who he claimed to be, he ought to have prevented that. The unfulfilled condition is a cheap argument. The unstated part of the argument is that as I am God ought to Be. But stating it plainly tends to cast too harsh a light on the speaker, who typically, and rather obviously, is not God. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  8. Kevin Christensen

    "Why some people leave the Church"

    Regarding the applied experience (in this case of a pedophile church leader, experience of adulterous HP- then realizing [based on this theoretical contextualization, rather than any first hand eye-witness or experience], I recall this from Richard Bushman at the Joseph Smith Conference in 2005: https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/joseph-smiths-many-histories I have occasional mentioned that Catholic scholar John McDade made exactly the same point about how different scholars contextualize Jesus. John McDade Jesus In Recent Research Catholic Theological Association Conference 1998, published in The Month (December 1998), 495-505 The point is that the "realization" can be easily accounted for as the product of that kind of characterization. So the question is, what makes this the best, most telling, context, the proper most telling seed and soil into which to plant the seed, and which produces the most bountiful harvest? Does it define a range of testable and significant puzzles? Does it make accurate predictions? Is is comprehensive and coherent? Is it fruitful, accounting for a great many things that we other wise would not see? Is it simple and aesthetically pleasing? Does it hold future promise? Or is it just a convenient place to stand and apply leverage to move something out of the way? Paradigm choice always involves a decision about "Which problems are more significant to have solved?" as well as "Which paradigm is better?" And better for what purpose? That is demonstrated in a significant measure by the ways we define and measure better. This is one of the way I measured Joseph Smith. https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Biblical_Keys_for_Discerning_True_and_False_Prophets It's different. Focuses my attention in different ways, produces a different set of concerns and tests. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  9. Kevin Christensen

    Statement on Book of Mormon geography

    But as it happens, that isn't all it takes. Remember this: And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known; 26 And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed; 27 And inasmuch as they sinned they might be chastened, that they might repent; 28 And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time. And this: Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. And this: Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand; 79 Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms— 80 That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you. Regarding the notion of "the kind of thing God would reveal:, I recognize a similar line of thinking in Riskas. https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/sophic-box-and-mantic-vista-a-review-of-deconstructing-mormonism/ As to what the D&C offers on what God would reveal, I notice two very specific conditions regarding revelation. Asking, and Expedience. Those LDS leaders who have occasionally penned such statements downplaying the search for definitive and authoritative geographical correlations are not themselves noted for providing extensive evidence of serious studying it out in their own minds on that that topic. I don't think that is coincidental. And besides that, regarding the necessary component of expedience, the pattern of behavior that God displays in the scriptures shows a willingness and even purposeful desire on his part to withhold information in the interest of trying our faith, rather than, say, settling everything for all time in one extensive, all encompassing voice of thunder that not only removes all doubt and questions, but ensures that no leader will ever disappoint any follower. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  10. Kevin Christensen

    Mormon Stories trying to expand its market.

    Did Dehlin plant the seed in different soil, and produce an entirely different harvest? Yes. And my personal experience with Dehlin is that when I tried to share my reasons for my different conclusions about a number of specific issues regarding the Coe interview is that he unceremoniously deleted all my comments, all of which were snark free and supported by specific references. And I also listened to his self-interview podcast years back. That made it clear that we processed the issues in very different ways. Another clear example of different processing of the same questions was Dehlin's interview with William D. Russell, whom Dehlin cites as an intellectual role model. After I listed to the interview, I tracked down a few of Russell's essays, and that led to me writing this: https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1467&index=7 That essay, notice begins with this quotation from Thomas Kuhn: We process the word very differently, and consequently, produce very different harvests. Dehlin was going to interview me back in 2011, claimed he really wanted to do it, but didn't. And then in 2012 erased me from his community. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  11. Kevin Christensen

    Mormon Stories trying to expand its market.

    Dehlin started with idealistic motives, and he got a number of interesting people to talk. Regarding "the real enemy", it happens that there are lots of well informed people that Dehlin himself interviewed, such as Terryl Givens and Richard Bushman (I listened to those, and four or five others, pro and con), who has been addressing the troubling issues long before Dehlin showed up. The reality is that many people have been able to process the same issues and find strengthened faith, and increased understanding. So, as one who has pondered the Parable of the Sower, and noticed that soil, time, and nuture have a crucial effect on the harvest of exactly the same seeds, and as one who, taking a cue from Jesus's comment that judgement should begin with self-reflection (removing the beams from my own eye first), I have noticed that one clear difference between me and Dehlin and others like him, is that when I run across something I did not expect, that I was not prepared for, I asked myself, "What should I expect?" And that bit of self-reflection, and the subsequent explorations, discoveries, and enlightenment, has, like Frost's divergent paths in the woods, made all the difference. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  12. Kevin Christensen

    Mormon Stories trying to expand its market.

    Found it, from an April 12, 2017 post. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  13. Kevin Christensen

    Mormon Stories trying to expand its market.

    I don't know who the author is, but I do find author has made some notable observations on the blog. Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  14. Kevin Christensen

    Mormon Stories trying to expand its market.

    Back in early 2017 (around April), I posted a bit of a rant on the topic here. If I could find it, I'd quote it. But changes to MDDB have made it harder to go that far back. As I recall, it came from the heart. But, there is this from May 2017 on the Dear John Dehlin blog. When I read this later, it re-enforced my impressions of the similar personalities. I had a handful of exchanges with him over the years. Back in 2011 or so, I offered to be an interview, and he claimed he wanted to do it, but kept putting it off. In June of 2012, I took myself off the list, and in apparent retaliation, he deleted most of my comments from the Michael Coe interview. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  15. Kevin Christensen

    Mormon Stories trying to expand its market.

    It it not my blog, though I have chimed in on a couple of the threads. I provided some personal accounts when the author asked for stories of people being censored by Dehlin. Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
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