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hope_for_things

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  1. hope_for_things

    The Non-Imperative for a historical Book of Mormon

    We should evaluate biblical figures according to the best evidence that biblical scholars have about the bible. In that case the evidence doesn't exist to support historicity for much of the bible. Pseudepigrapha and midrashic treatment of texts are common. A huge problem is when people bring an expectation that these texts should represent history according to modern rules of scholarly history.
  2. hope_for_things

    The Non-Imperative for a historical Book of Mormon

    I totally agree that Stephen is approaching this as a theological discussion. The evidence for historicity has never been compelling in any scholarly sense. That is why you don't have any non-LDS scholars who study this, because there is essentially nothing to study. The BoM doesn't tell us anything about MesoAmerica or anything on the hemisphere anciently, not one thing. It only tells us what Joseph and contemporaries in the 19th century believed at that time period. This fact is so clearly obvious to every scholar who studies the ancient world, that is why they don't study the BoM. I find it funny when people make the claim that non-LDS scholars don't engage seriously on these topics, and their conclusion is that they are missing all this great information that would prove antiquity. Rather, it doesn't take a deep study of the BoM to quickly see that it has no direct relationship to the actual ancient world. Scholars don't need to study the BoM in detail to see this. It is clearly a 19th century creation and it doesn't take an in depth review to determine this.
  3. People in power will very rarely voluntarily let go of their power. If the church believes it can hold onto special privileges without too much negative PR blow back, it will do that. This is the rule, and altruism is the exception to the rule.
  4. hope_for_things

    The Non-Imperative for a historical Book of Mormon

    Thanks for this write up, I really appreciate it, and I actually found myself agreeing with you more than I normally do. I think the most important point, and something that I feel very strongly about is the whole idea around a non-binary approach to Joseph. People are complicated, they have many things contributing to how they choose to act. To say Joseph was either a fraud or a saint is trying to make a caricature of a real human with multi faceted motivations and environmental factors that are all having an influence on the choices that person makes. For example, with respect to the BoM production I have been very much persuaded by Ann Taves approach to the golden plates, and the very salient observations she makes in her most recent book on that subject, how there are group dynamics at play that influence the production of the BoM. As for the evidence for historicity, I don't see any of the key points that Stephen has made as being very strong or particularly insightful. At the end of the day, he's making arguments from a theological perspective and not an analytical one. He believes it necessary to argue for historicity because he believes the church will suffer otherwise. Its a backwards argument with a set conclusion established first, and an attempt to gather evidence to support that position. He's not even attempting any sense of objectivity. This kind of apologetics is poorly done and a throw back to the less rigorous and hard nosed style of the past. I expect that it will actually do more harm for Stephen's cause than good.
  5. hope_for_things

    Things that Increase or Diminish Faith

    Thanks Rev, that is a very nice compliment. I have some thoughts about belief as well. I see faith as something very different than belief. I don't think I can force myself to believe things. For example, if I believe in the force of gravity. No matter how much I may try to believe otherwise, no matter how many authority figures might tell me differently, I personally couldn't bring myself to jump off a cliff with the expectation that I would float in the air instead of falling to my death. I just can't control that belief about gravity, it is informed by my intellect and by my emotionally informed lived experiences. I often try to evaluate what I think the "wishes of God" might be. I think this is how we are to learn and grow, as we examine how our experiences and observations match up with the values that we believe. Do we actively practice behaviors that align with these values? By purposefully aligning our actions up with the principles we believe are divinely inspired is an act of exercising faith/trust, and through these acts we are essentially experimenting on the word and testing whether or not these principles have redeeming value. From my personal experience what I've found as I do this is I always learn something about how flawed and limited my current understanding is. This gives me a greater sense of humility as I continually have to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate the essence of the principles or "wishes of God" that I thought I understood previously. I think this is a huge part of the human endeavor, and in my mind it is a worthy practice. I also think this whole process doesn't directly tie itself back to Christianity or Mormonism, but can be engaged through other faiths or secular paths. But I'm personally working on this journey using the metaphors of a religious paradigm.
  6. Wow, thanks for sharing this, I wasn't familiar with some of the particulars here. Its important to remember the history so that we can make amends as a culture and not repeat it in the future. Its especially concerning that certain leaders that are still in power today were major players in these hurtful past practices.
  7. This was really good news, it shows the progress the church has made over the past few decades. More progress is needed, but I'm encouraged by things like this. Lets hope this bill passes in Utah.
  8. hope_for_things

    Things that Increase or Diminish Faith

    Welcome to the board and to your first thread post. I just wanted to comment on your definition of faithful. This sounds like conformity to behavioral rules, rather than faith in God as a principle discussed in scripture. I think this is a common problem in contemporary Mormonism in general. The idea that checking certain boxes, that outward performances = faith in God. I see this a missing the point and actually detrimental to the development of actual faith. For me, you can replace the word faith with the word trust. The concept of developing trust in God is a concept that I think is all about finding a peace and inner confidence in the way you operate in the world and it has a direct correlation to aligning our actions with our inner values. For example, if have a value that God wants me to help the orphans of this world, I can exercise faith/trust in that value by contributing my time and resources to help orphans. That is how I personally can exercise faith in that value, and consequentially increase my faith in God in the process. When we practice through our actions the principles that align with our deepest inner values, this is what it means to exercise faith from my perspective. This may sounds similar to your list of attending meetings or holding a temple recommend, but I think there is an important difference. The perspective one takes towards the actions that align with their inner values is not a trivial thing. If you define faith/trust as following a set of behaviors that the culture has predetermined for you, by my definition you aren't exercising a personal faith. You are just following a checklist that someone else handed you. I think there is an important component around examining your life and exploring what you truly value the most, that is missing from the checklist approach. Conformity to the expectations of a group, is very different than personal reflection and a real wrestle about what matters most to you as an individual. I advocating for a very personal and examined approach to life.
  9. hope_for_things

    What do we think inspired calling means?

    On one hand I think of inspiration as a very personal interplay of how someone feels about the experiences they personally have. This definition of inspiration is very subjective and individualistic. I also recognize that there can be group experiences where more than one person has a relationship towards something that the group identifies as inspirational. However, I think its also the case that each individual in the group has a somewhat different relationship to what they collectively feel is inspired, and individual interpretations will vary. I don't think inspiration is something we can capture in a container and transfer via title or position of authority. Just some thoughts I have on the subject.
  10. https://www.thechurchnews.com/leaders-and-ministry/2019-02-04/president-oaks-advice-to-young-married-couples-in-chicago-on-how-to-tackle-faith-threatening-questions-48930?fbclid=IwAR0vpkbLjE_SRyprFVryPA9DO6Tva5j-kfJT-xKdRmOgDaCSeTuHTYL_QPA Another talk on faith struggles was recently given and I wanted to share and get some discussion going. Good that he's acknowledging that the game has changed here. People are less likely to just blindly trust what they've been told. I find it sad that he's taking a negative approach to living among people with different beliefs. I just attended the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit last week in Utah and one of the themes of the conference was around diversity and how beneficial it is for successful business. Is it really that hard to "love and live with" other people? Is having someone challenge your standards in a "persuasive" way really a bad thing? This is interesting insight as I'm not sure I had heard this explicitly articulated before. If they are listening to women's voices more than in the past, I think that is a very good thing. I suspect that this effort to listen to women had a direct impact on the recent temple changes. All of these things are a good sign for the future and I hope this continues to progress. Here is the whopper of a section. [Sentence removed. Disagree with church leaders respectfully.] This runs counter to previously given advice and common sense. Think of this in light of the famous quote from J. Reuben Clark, "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed." What do you think? I'm glad that he points to the Gospel Topics Essays, this is one of the rare times you get an Apostle pointing to this resource in a very public way. The problem is that he's suggesting that the essays offer "answers" to questions. Almost as if these answers are the final word, rather than a place to gather additional information and to continue to study and search. I remember back to when I first started having what I would have called a faith crisis at the time. I confided in a good counselor in the stake presidency that I was feeling a lot of guilt and discomfort and that I was reading RSR and Dialogue. This good man comforted me, and encouraged me to continue to study and to read and to search and to not feel guilty about honest inquiry and rigorous research. He told me it may take me many years and he expressed that there are many questions he still has that are unanswered and that this is part of the journey of life. I will always be grateful for the early advice that I received that I should not just study things on the surface, but that I should search and research and study deeply. This has made me into a much better person, and I think is one of the best pieces of advice to give someone in this situation. Don't run away from the problems, don't hide and pretend they don't exist, don't ignore them. If religion and the existential questions about life actually matter, then you need to engage with these questions as if they do really matter. I worry that President Oaks doesn't care about actually helping people to grow into mature humans with the advice he's giving but that he only cares whether a person is an active member of the COJCOLDS. That makes me sad. Is the question about whether JS is a prophet a question that your kid can ask, or is that an out of bounds question? Thats about it for what I wanted to comment on. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks
  11. One man's trash is another man's treasure. We're a church of lay ministers, no paid clergy, no little to no formal training for leaders, just jump into callings and do the best you can, follow the spirit and hope it all works out. I believe people can do good and make a difference with 3 months of service, personally I believe even a couple hours of service can help do good.
  12. Eat your vitamin pills. Get some rest. It's going to be exciting.
  13. The next step that I expect to happen in the near future will be much more flexibility on missionary service times. 2 years or 18 months will become a thing of the past. Why not have a 3 month or 6 month or 4 1/2 month missions? Service only missions for everyone without any stigma attached that these are of lesser import. Missionaries will begin to realize that the time they are giving in the form of service isn't a rigid set time that God somehow divinely mandated that everyone must devote. Rather, is is a sacrifice of your time and efforts to a cause, and any sacrifice however large or small is of value and is respected and honored. This is the next step in a healthy development of the idea of missionary work.
  14. Great news! Also, another example common sense change that many of us have been talking about for years. Or maybe we should call this revelation from the prophet?
  15. hope_for_things

    All-you-can-eat religion, Buffet style

    As I've thought about this buffet analogy over the years, I've really come to the belief that everyone is a cafeteria religious follower to some degree or another. It is impossible to align perfectly with any group that has disparate beliefs held by every individual in that group. The more I've read about our uniquely Mormon history, I've learned how different the perspectives held by various leaders are in any given period of time, let alone how those opinions evolve and shift over time. How each individual interprets orthodoxy is different as well, and we see this with the plentiful examples of leadership roulette. As for authority and my personal journey, I don't give a whole lot of authority to any source. I respect people to differing degrees based on my previous experience of engagement with their ideas. For example, because Elder Utchdorf has said some things I've found compelling in recent years I pay closer attention when he speaks. Other leaders who I've had differences of opinion with, I likewise have a high degree of skepticism towards them when they speak. I think this is just an example of human nature at work. For me personally, I don't align with the idea that any human is ever communicating the words of a divine being in any kind of pure sense. I do believe people can be inspired to various degrees, but that this inspiration isn't located in some ecclesiastical job title or position of authority. I don't see inspiration as following any patterns or that inspiration has any sense of objectivity to it. I believe that inspiration is subjective and relative, and while I have some sense that there are core principles in this universe that might not be relative, I can't prove this in a factual way. I do operate my life hoping that the core principles I hope exist, do actually exist and that by my following these principles I am adding value to my own existence and to the lives of others as well. This is a hope of mine and not necessarily a belief, but it is something that I feel is important, and it gives me purpose in life.
  16. hope_for_things

    The Book of Romans

    Thanks for the info, this is all new to me. I'll check out the links you provided.
  17. hope_for_things

    The 18 Witnesses to the Book of Commandments

    Martin Harris gave some other witness statements to later religious endeavors he was associated with later in life. These witness statements represent the feelings of the people at the time that they experienced something. Powerful but subjective memories of events, but prone to error like all memories are.
  18. hope_for_things

    The Book of Romans

    I liked this book by Adam Miller. https://www.amazon.com/Grace-Not-Gods-Backup-Plan/dp/1508647763/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=adam+miller+romans&qid=1549926615&s=gateway&sr=8-2
  19. hope_for_things

    President Oaks' advice to young married couples in Chicago

    I also think that the church leaders themselves don't do heavy lifting on historical research. They've outsourced that to the historians. They've essentially split the appeal to authority into two branches. When it comes to the specific details around what happened in history, they appeal to the professional historians for the specific details. When it comes to an interpretation of the implications of those historical details, the appeal to authority is back on church leaders who have properly interpreted the meaning of the details in a faith promoting way that is approved by God. While this dynamic might allow for some differing interpretations on the details of history as described by the professional historians. This dynamic does not allow for a differing interpretation on the implications of the history. Church leaders are not flexible on how to interpret the theological implications and how they factor into the correlated narrative. Unfortunately, this very rigid approach is kind of like the when a child asks the parents why they should do something that they are being asked to do, and the parent answers "Because I said so". Church leaders answering "Because I said so" doesn't work for more mature children and only serves to undermine a sense of trust in the family. This approach is also failing greater numbers of members that are exploring issues of history from uncorrelated sources today.
  20. hope_for_things

    President Oaks' advice to young married couples in Chicago

    Yes, I think I understand better for sure. It’s somewhat foreign to me though, as I approached things differently as an orthodox member, and very different that how I approach things today.
  21. hope_for_things

    President Oaks' advice to young married couples in Chicago

    It’s not all speculation, we have quotes and a report by a friendly source in the church news which I think we can have some level of confidence is attempting to accurately represent the spirit of the message. If the full transcript is produced at a later date that will be even better, but what we have right now offers enough insight for a healthy discussion.
  22. hope_for_things

    President Oaks' advice to young married couples in Chicago

    Yes, but even more important than learning about multiple first visions, would be a discussion of what this actually means. Many people have a mindset that these accounts represent not just a vision, but a tangible event in time and space. It would be even more important to talk about what a vision is, how Joseph might have thought of a vision, how these narratives evolved over time in response to environmental circumstances, and how they represent a window into Joseph's theological development over time.
  23. hope_for_things

    President Oaks' advice to young married couples in Chicago

    If you don't like my comments and have another perspective to share please feel free to support your different perspective, I welcome participation and engagement. I'm using the article as it has been reported and this seems to be a straightforward reading of the meaning reported in the article. Is it possible that things were taken out of context by the reporter whether intentionally or not, sure, anything is possible. A person could speculate all day about the possibilities.
  24. hope_for_things

    President Oaks' advice to young married couples in Chicago

    Ok, thanks, I don't really have much I can think of to respond to in a productive way, but its interesting to see how others work through these things.
  25. hope_for_things

    President Oaks' advice to young married couples in Chicago

    Do you have a copy of the transcript? If the reporter was taking him out of context then someone should write the church news so that this can be corrected and the proper context of the message can be shared.
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