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hope_for_things last won the day on November 22 2016

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  1. This is a good point and your theory is possible, and this is why critical thinking and scholarship are so important. We shouldn't just assume that Joseph is thinking about theological constructs years before they are made explicit unless we can find evidence for this happening. I would agree with you that earlier ideas might later evolve into more concrete and explicit practices, but this doesn't presuppose some kind of conscious intent on Joseph's part, I think this is how many things naturally happen for each of us. I also wouldn't want to rule out the possibility that your explanation could explain some of what we see Joseph doing, I just also see a lot of other examples where he's contradicting earlier teachings and personally I see Joseph's theology all over the place on many topics, he seems to me to be extracting ideas from his experiences and environment and incorporating those ideas in a very haphazard way. You make some other good points about the Bible and Hebrews, it would be interesting to see someone explore these concepts further. Thanks for the conversation!
  2. Yes, I agree with this, I actually think I'm further along withe whole interpretations idea, but admittedly it is a hard concept for me to grasp. But let me explain what I think about this. I'm looking at this from the way that your average chapel Mormon interprets and talks about Joseph's FV. They discuss the experience as if it is a factually verifiable, tangible event. They totally ignore the meaning of the word "vision" and frequently replace that word with "visitation" which implies all of those elements I just mentioned. So, when discussing the FV and the changes in the story over time and the changes in the surrounding events that influenced a different telling of the story over time, or the changes in Joseph's evolving theology about the nature of God, or the persecution and pressures on the institution, your average Mormon doesn't consider all those factors as having relevance to the interpretation that Joseph was placing on this entirely subjective personal experience that no-one has access to, even Joseph doesn't have access to the original event in his mind because of the way human memory works as I pointed out in my earlier post. I think one thing that may create a problem for most Mormons with this kind of fluid definition for interpretations is the way that Mormonism has taken historical events and turned them into theological explanations about the reality of the divine in quite material terms. This problem becomes evident when you consider that by this "interpretations" construct we'd have to accept virtually any story or explanation given by Joseph or other prophets as equally legitimate, in spite of how it may contradict earlier explanations, or contradict other truths that we have learned about how nature works. For example, the FV event essentially becomes whatever Joseph said it was at whatever time Joseph said it, meaning, if Joseph had said in 1844 that two white rabbits appeared to him and told him to hop down a hole in the ground and find the lost arc of the covenant, that version of his interpretation of his experience would be just as legitimate as any of the other accounts that he told, using this no facts just interpretations construct. So what is it about this idea that Joseph borrowed from his environment to tell his experience that you find unsatisfactory? Doesn't this align with your interpretations construct? Yes, I'm on board with this, and it makes sense to me, that's why I can accept your concept that whatever Joseph experienced, we don't have access to, even Joseph doesn't know he's wearing the glasses, or he doesn't know he's a fish swimming in the ocean because he's always been a fish swimming in that ocean. The thing about that ocean is, he has traveled to many different places in it, and his eye sight has changed with time, so his descriptions of his experiences change overtime, sometimes dramatically. This makes sense, and this is why I think we shouldn't take personal experiences with the divine and turn them into tangible factual evidences for anything. Its a personal epiphany understood by the individual in unique ways, inaccessible by other individuals. My experiences about God are meaningful to me. Perhaps God inspires charismatic individuals to make important strides in history. Its up to each of us to determine whether the choices and teachings these individuals espouse embody something divine and should be followed or not. I find some of Joseph's innovations very interesting and sometimes inspirational for me personally. I find some of his innovations quite troubling and immoral. He is a paradox as are many other historical figures, and I try to pick and choose which things I find valuable contributions to society at large and which elements are negative. I see Mormonism in the same light, many things about the tradition are valuable and helpful for society and many elements are troubling to me ethically. I refuse to label people or institutions as all good or all bad anymore, the truth is somewhere in between.
  3. Thanks, I'll think about what you're saying here, and I appreciate the feedback. I find that I end up trying to stand up for the minority opinion, but the audience on this message board is much different. I really do appreciate the work Rongo is doing, I have shared earlier comments, suggestions and thoughts on this thread. I wasn't trying to invalidate his viewpoint, and I see what you're saying.
  4. Certainly we will be biased towards our preferences. This is totally understandable. I just think that in order to show mutual respect we need to be careful not to marginalize others by considering our perspectives as superior. Honestly, this is super hard and I fail at it on a regular basis, and likely am failing at it in this very conversation. I think that this is what it means to empathize truly as well as love unconditionally. To me, those are central pillars in the Christian gospel, and that we should aspire to as Mormons. I think our Mormon culture, because of severe persecution over the years, has developed a mentality of divisiveness and sensitivity that has exacerbated this us vs. them mentality. Why can't our Mormon blessings, just be different (not superior), but different than the blessings of others. We can call something good, without also calling the other bad or less than. That's all I'm getting at here. Not meaning to call out Rongo too severely other than to just raise this to his attention, that as a person who's gone/going through a faith deconstruction/reconstruction, I'm sensitive to how some of that language feels to me, and how it might feel to others as well.
  5. Thanks for the JI link, I'll check it out. My views on the BoM are that it seems very compatible with many Christian ideas at the time, I think in Modern Mormonism we anachronistically read many things into the BoM that would not have been understood this way by the original members. Harrell's book does a nice job pointing these kinds of things out. Mormons are expert proof texters!
  6. I'd have to go back and review to see for sure, but I didn't see many differences myself. BTW, did Givens address Priesthood development in his book?
  7. Ben, Can you elaborate on this idea. The quote says that John was ordained by an unnamed angel, this is consistent with Christian biblical beliefs about John having a role as a forerunner. Lets not place too much emphasis on our current use of the word ordain, as we know this use was not specific to priesthood ordinances in the early church. Another interesting concept in that same chapter is how John was baptized while in his Mother's womb. Interesting idea there, later changed in the 1835 version to in "his childhood". I think we need to be careful about placing modern usage of the words ordained by the angel at eight days old and thinking that means a physical angel lay hands on his head and gave him priesthood authority.
  8. From what I've read about memory and our abilities to access our memories in a factually reliable way, I would contend that memory doesn't work in a way where we can just pick and choose which elements we want to share in a reliable way. We are influenced by our experiences in life, by other recollections, by our environment and by limited ability to discern our surroundings through our senses and our emotional state. I think its perfectly consistent with this idea to say that Joseph borrowed elements from the stories of others when he recalled his experience. I think we all do this subconsciously whether we know it or not. Did Joseph do this conscientiously or not, I'm not sure its possible to know for certain, but the similarities are so striking that I think its safe to say that he borrowed from those other stories. Honestly, aside from individuals that have eidetic memory, I don't think the average person can relate an experience from earlier today with great accuracy, let alone something from 20 years earlier in their life. Doing so without combining this experience with others, and materially misrepresenting the facts of the original story, is virtually impossible. In Joseph's case, I think there is also evidence that the later 1838 account (many historians believe doesn't sound like Joseph's voice at all and may have been written by Sidney or George Robinson or others that worked on that history) was written to create a specifically crafted defense of the church, so it is much less likely an accurate representation of the original experience. What we have in the 1838 account is a crafted narrative of the church and a defense of its legitimacy from the perspective of a committee of people, and this represents the perspectives of those people in 1838, not the perspectives of a 14 year old boy from 20 years earlier.
  9. William G. Hartley, “The McLellin Journals and Early Mormon History,” in The Journals of William E. McLellin, 283. I think the usual view these days is that the restoration didn't happen all at once but was a process. What exactly that means isn't entirely clear though. One theory is that there was a verbal call and then a later ordination. (This is actually still part of Mormon theology in some ways in the Temple where there are preparatory ordinances) One interesting take on it all is Keller's although I'm not sure I buy it all. Very interesting Clark. I don't have the Hartley book on the McLellin Journals, but can you elaborate on whether the Dan Vogel reading in the JWHA essay I linked to, is in alignment with this information from your perspective. Here is what he says about this time period, and I find it interesting.
  10. I think most of the theological construction for Alma 13 you can get from Hebrews in the NT. Last time I compared those chapters that talk about Melchezedek in Hebrews to what is found in Alma 13, I didn't find anything that really stands out as uniquely innovative about the content in Alma. I think that reading the content of the BoM as anticipatory to later Priesthood revelations is anachronistic. I'm influenced by Charlie Harrell's chapter on priesthood development in his informative book "This is my Doctrine". If you haven't read it, I recommend it. I haven't gotten Terryl Givens new Wrestling the Angel book, and I wonder if he covers this topic about the development of the priesthood doctrine.
  11. Why are you ruling out Moroni showing Cowdery the plates as one of the three witnesses? Here is the Painesville Telegraph quote: “The Golden Bible.” Painesville Telegraph (Ohio) (16 November 1830). Now this could be referring to a John the Baptist or Peter, James and John visit, but there is no specific reference to those individuals by name. Also I don't see how you're saying that Oliver wasn't involved with the Angel Moroni. But, one question I have is whether even Moroni is named at this point in November 1830. I'm going to have to do some more research, but I seem to recall that the naming of Moroni also was evolutionary and happened later, and you're probably familiar with some sources where the named Angel was Nephi.
  12. I think the "nones" represent a trend in culture in the modern western world and especially in the USA. If you believe that churches should not try to become relevant to the younger generations, then you are essentially signing up for a niche irrelevant church that appeals to very few people. Look at today's Western Europe if you want to see what Christianity in the USA will be come if things continue on this trajectory. This is a poor strategic move, if the church does indeed believe the same way you do. I think they are trying to respond, but again the phenomenon of the "nones" is the evidence that they aren't succeeding at becoming relevant to this younger generation, no matter how hard they may be trying. Yep, there will always be a portion of people uncomfortable with bold changes in direction, thats to be expected. I can't blame you for thinking in these terms, these terms are commonly spoken within Mormon culture. But I see things from a different perspective. I do think you're being judgmental, and yes, that is a judgment on my part to point it out, so you got me there. The thing is, this is a common problem for members, I think its a prideful position to say things like "families and individuals who don't get the full blessings of the restored gospel because they don't live it". Turn that statement around completely and a person could say that Mormons don't get the blessings of a secular life because they don't live it. Its the starting position that puts your perspective on a higher pedestal, this position of God's favor. It goes back to the Jewish tradition, and its common among many faiths. I personally see it as prideful, judgmental and divisive. As for those members who are "nominally active... but who don't instill a lasting legacy in their children", your assumption is a prideful one of superiority. You assume that those people are missing a more enlightened view that you possess. Perhaps those people see things quite differently. Perhaps you could learn from these nominally active people, and perhaps their nominal activity isn't missing out on anything at all, perhaps its just a different way of living that has its pros and cons, just like your chosen path has pros and cons. This is what I'm hoping you can see. Seeing others as different, not inferior, not missing blessings that you are so lucky to have, not as less than.
  13. Blue section. I completely agree this problem isn't unique to the LDS church, you can see this in countless studies out there, the rise of the "nones" in the younger generations. Religions have a harder time connecting to these people, and they don't find that religions are as relevant or necessary in their lives. This is a problem for these religions, they need to find relevancy in order to continue to be viable for large numbers of people in a changing world. Green section. I disagree in that I don't think this is a lack of resiliency, competency, and maturity on the part of the individuals, but I would turn this around and say that those descriptions are true with respect to the institutions. The LDS church itself and other religious institutions are showing their lack of resiliency, competency and maturity by specifically not responding to the changing environment in a digital communication age, and the needs of the younger generation. This is precisely why this generation is leaving organized religion in droves. Not because individuals aren't mature, I think quite the oppose, they may be acting more maturely than the institution in many ways. Institutions haven't responded to the society at large, we are way behind the cultural trends, stuck in the past on so many issues, fighting positive changes culturally, fearful of these changes labeling them as satanic and evil. We need better leadership, we need a leader like Pope Francis(not perfect by any means) at the helm who can take the LDS church in a bold new direction. Red section. This one is very sad to me. You claim to want to help those struggling, but this quote shows lack of empathy and understanding on your part. When you are willing to just blame the individuals that leave and their families as lacking life resiliency and competency, this truly is not what the gospel message of love and charity is all about. Looking at active LDS as superior to those that leave the faith is prideful and hurtful to those that choose to live their lives outside the LDS tradition. Very sad that you would see things in such judgmental terms.
  14. That Addison Everett recollection was new to me when I read it, and very fascinating. I think what is at stake for the believer if you consider the anachronisms by Oliver and Joseph when they edited their earlier revelations and inserted content about priesthood ordinations and visitations into those earlier texts, at the very least is the idea that the story was changing and fluid in the early church. Also it would require the believer to open his/her mind to the idea that Joseph and Oliver were re-interpreting earlier visions to meet their current evolutionary theological ideas, rather than this concept that God delivered this whole construct of Priesthood in a very precise and packaged way that is clearly spelled out and ready for implementation. In essence it requires a paradigm shift about how revelation is acquired and implemented in the church, that it isn't very specific or clear, and it certainly is changing over time. Which in turn I believe teaches us that we should expect considerable change in the future as well, including the ideas of women's ordination to the Priesthood and other possibilities.