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Benjamin Seeker

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About Benjamin Seeker

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  1. How an Ahistorical Book of Mormon Can Still Be Scripture

    I appreciate your sincerity and value your advice, always. But... my disagreement with the general premise of this quotation is the exact reason I began this thread. If the BOM is based on true spiritual experience/truth/etc., whether the book is historical or not will not change the effect of following its precepts. Parables and allegory work along side recounting personal experiences as teaching tools. I blieve people can nourish the seed of faith even if they come to believe that the BOM is not historical. In starting this thread, I felt it was important to voice this position as I've seen so much opposition to the idea that one can spiritually flourish with a non-literal approach. I believe the either-it's-historical-and-valid-or-ahistorical-and-invalid approach, especially when given strong rhetoric, will mostly push away those who are nourishing the seed of faith despite a conclusion of BOM ahistoricity. Someone who has carefully considered the topic, taken in a wide range of information, lived the promises of the BOM, but comes to the conclusion its ahistorical will likely see more options than the either-or approach gives, and rhetoric that invalidates their other options, can make them feel like a total and complete outsider (they already feel like an outsider, trust me, I know ). I'm not saying anyone needs to agree with BOM ahistoricity, just instead of saying its historicity-or-the-spiritually-descending-highway, perhaps consider, like Grant Hardy (who believes the BOM is historical), that a faith in an ahistorical BOM may still be a saving faith. I feel like its important to voice this as there are others who instead of saying anything will, with enough reminders that their position is seen as not only untrue but also invalid, just leave despite not wanting to, simply because their sense of community, a vital part of most religious experience, has been removed. I just wanted to add Grant Hardy's quotation from the 2016 FAIR conference as a parting thought: "When people talk about “inspired fiction,” it’s worth thinking harder about what they might mean. Perhaps that the Book of Mormon is a product of human genius, like other literary or religious works. Or it may be the product of general revelation, in which God or some higher power makes himself known to humans, who then communicate that encounter with the Divine though various scriptures such as Buddhist sutras or the Daodejing or the Bhagavad Gita or the Qur’an. Or there may be special revelation in which God inspired Joseph to create the Book of Mormon in such a way that it exemplifies specific truths of unique importance. In any case, however, we might ask, “Can faith in the Book of Mormon as inspired fiction be a saving faith?” My answer is, “Absolutely!” I believe that if someone, at the judgment bar, were to say to God, “I couldn’t make sense of the Book of Mormon as an ancient American codex, given the available evidence, but I loved that book, I heard your voice in it, and I tried to live by its precepts as best I could,” then God will respond, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”"
  2. How an Ahistorical Book of Mormon Can Still Be Scripture

    I see what you are saying. I don't think JS was approaching the question how we are though. He was just interested in whether people can/should be having revelatory experiences while we're discussing whether revelation is an upflow or downflow phenomenon. The traditional assumed conception is that revelation is a downflow phenomenon. It would be interesting to look at the scriptures and JS' teachings for indications that he was giving thought to upflow vs. downflow (hopefully those words are making sense... I just kind of made them up). On the flipside, JS was obviously considering the conflict in religion, which he attributed to lack of revelation as did his revelations. However, this seems to be related to a very typical trend in the formation of religious traditions to call everyone else wrong, which is related somehow to human psychological development. Basically, things get messy fast. On top of that, we don't know what all of JS' inner experiences were like, obviously. For example, he indicated that he didn't reveal all that had been revealed to him. Basically, we don't know what inklings of thoughts or even reveltory experiences he may have had on our discussion here.
  3. How an Ahistorical Book of Mormon Can Still Be Scripture

    My guess is that we can only be inspired to what we can conceive. It took me a lot of info and experience to come to the ideas I have. I think it's pretty clear that JS' scripture is heavily inflected by the issues he grappled with, and whether God was truly an interventionalist or whether there were universal mechanisms to facilitate deep religious experiences while allowing us to grow at our own pace probably just wasn't one of the issues he was pondering.
  4. How an Ahistorical Book of Mormon Can Still Be Scripture

    You're definitely right about the non-interventionalist model. That would seem to make some sense out of the extreme inequity of various types in the world. On the flip side, God can still exercise a guiding hand if he is somehow pulling the destiny strings. Then the right people who ask the right questions and tap into the right ideas are in the right place at the right time to make significant things happen for the world. That way we are still learning and growing on our own (meaning the human race) and we move at our own pace, but we can still experience a personal God. The above is a working draft of my general feelings that I have been giving thought to for a couple years now. I'm open to new ideas, data, and correction, but I think this model/theory does a nice job of dealing with the problem of multiple conflicting religious traditions, which spawn from significant revelatory events and whose adherents lead rich spiritual lives. Oh, and God cares in my mind but just lets us figure things out for ourselves (i.e. learning through discovery, which I consitently find the most effective method). Lastly, I think of this model of revelation as something akin to evolution. From the look of things, evolutoin allowed the creation of every variation of life with no intervention. Similarly, my model of revelation makes it so that the we can experience God with no little to no intervention on his part. I believe revelation is one of those phenomenon that is more built into the laws of nature than we have traditionally understood.
  5. An Amicable Brainstorm on the Language and Grammar of the BOM

    This is a fantastic amount of info. Thank you. One of the data points you mentioned gave me an idea. You said that the BOM usage of a certain grammatical structure outdid usage in any other text you have examined by quite a bit. Assuming for the moment that every archaic grammatical structure found in the BOM could be found in JS's environment (and I realize that this would need to be demonstrated, at least in large part), I wonder if it's possible that JS in consciously or unconsciously creating an authoritative scriptural voice could have been drawn to these archaic structures and even overdone them in some instances. In reading or hearing old texts it may have been easy to pick out archaic forms relative to the day, and even relative to the KJV given early 19th century conversance with the Bible, since they would have seemed foreign or wrong. The possibility that JS had a prodigious memory needs to be considered as well. Remember, when Hyrum prompted JS to dictate section 132 using the seer stone for Emma, JS responded that he didn't need to because he had the thing memorized (132 is a sizable chunk of text to have memorized on the fly). Also, the large quotations of KJV that made it onto the BOM manuscript with no text to copy from in the room, according to multiple witnesses, could be evidence of JS's memory. If he indeed had an extroardinary gift of memory for text and language -- and add to that a deep interest in language -- then it wouldn't be out of the question for him to have held onto archaic forms that likely would have jumped out to him as they do to us. It's also worth pointing out JS was likely prone to come across these archaic forms given his interest in esoteric and religious subjects. If he then drew on these archaic forms heavily to give his text authority and perhaps an ancient feel he may have been able to create a text that uses archaic grammar in a way that seems out of place and even impossible for the time period.
  6. How an Ahistorical Book of Mormon Can Still Be Scripture

    A quick comment on the tension both of you are pointing out - I don't believe that God spurred JS into belief in things that, from my perspective, turned out to be not literally true. Instead, I believe that God accompanied JS on his search for truth, or, in other words, JS tapped into God in various way during his journey but largely set the course himself. Similar to how NDEs often feature the God or diety or guide that the experiencer expects, I believe that JS experienced the divine in the form he expected (e.g. a largely literal Genesis, a Hebrew heritage for Native Americans, etc.). Another clarification I'd offer is that I believe JS would have experienced visions/revelations/second-sight in any context he put himself. For example, that idea is consistent with him seeing treasure guardians and mystical treasure in his seer stone and later having experiences foundational to Mormonism using the same stone.
  7. An Amicable Brainstorm on the Language and Grammar of the BOM

    I see. That being said, I did specifically find the "did (verb)" construction.
  8. An Amicable Brainstorm on the Language and Grammar of the BOM

    Thanks for bringing up more suggestions here. As far as Masonry goes, I suggested it because in researching the 19th centrury rituals, which are memorized and performed word for word, I found archaic language.
  9. How an Ahistorical Book of Mormon Can Still Be Scripture

    I was really responding to cdowis and anyone else who defaults to JS as fraud or liar if his claims don't hold up. You're really getting specific here, so I'll do my best to follow suit. I believe God works through all human beings (probably something like what we call the light of Christ), and therefore all institutions, religions, and traditions are of equal value in the eyes of God, similar to what we profess about God's love and care of individuals (I aknowledge that each organization/religions/tradition has their positive and negative aspects). I believe priesthood, as it works and inspires changes in people's lives, is a representation of God's influence in the Mormon tradition. I recognize that Mormonism has a specific heirarchy of priesthood, which I respect as a member of that community, and that heirarchy enables a significant and powerful unity in the church that I value. I believe priesthood keys are an organizational/hierarchical tool utilized in Mormonism to maintain order in stewardships and facilitate that unity. I believe that JS's contributions to religion are significant and that his attraction to, revelation of, and interpretation of various teachings are inspiring whether you hold to JS' understanding of what he was doing or whether you take a less literal approach. I believe we can still work towards building Zion, the fulfillment of JS' vision and the vision of Judaism and Christianity, whether we believe we are equal partners with the rest of the world or if we believe we have an exceptional commission. As my worldview has widened and my knowledge of early Mormonism has deepened, I can't help but lean towards believing we are equal partners. Thanks. I appreciate that. You're right. Without some deliteralization in other areas as well as BOM historicity, it doesn't make any sense. It would be untenable. And yes, I am at odds with the traditional view in more ways than one. I am deeply connected with Mormonism in so many ways. I can't exactly share verses from the Book of Mormon or the D&C at my local baptist church, can I? They don't appreciate the revealed word from JS last time I checked. There is also the question of my family and children. I'd like to give them the spiritual foundation that Mormonism gave me. Even in my darkest most agnostic times, I've always had a little bit of spiritual light to hang onto. Quite frankly, it's a lonely road. Just by way of illustration, I don't feel perfectly at home in this forum which is mostly traditional with some nuanced and critical views sprinkled in, but I also do not feel at home at the Mormon Discussinos forum, which is decidedly critical and largely dismissive of all aspects of Mormonism. After spending time lurking in both, I found that I much preferred discussion here. You're right. It's not easy, and I've simply picked the place I'm drawn to (both forum and religious tradition), despite the discomfort. Hopefully, my comments addressing the idea of going generally Christian above are sufficient, but let me know. Thanks for the dialogue, Dexter!
  10. How an Ahistorical Book of Mormon Can Still Be Scripture

    I totally understand the apparent tension between professed belief in the gospel and rejecting the historicity of the BOM. However, holding this position doesn't neccesitate that JS was a liar. I believe that JS and Oliver Cowdery had sincere experiences to begin with, and I think what they understood about those experiences evolved over time. For example, that's why I think a number of early church members, including Peter Whitmer, are surprised by JS and OC saying in 1835 that Peter, James, and John had delivered the priesthood to them. David Whitmer and others said that they had never heard anything about it. At the same time there are 1830 and 1831 reports saying that OC had comversed with angels, and 1833 report that JS had seen Jesus and the Apostles. Point is, I believe they had real experiences that they imbued with meaning over time, and I think that they overreached. Another example would be Moroni. In the earliest reports he is just an angel. It wasn't until much later that the angel was given a name, at least in print. My best guess is that JS really had transcendent spiritual experiences that led to the creation of the BOM, but that JS' interpretation and report of those experiences reflected his assumptions and understanding. And yes, I have had to deliteralize many of my beliefs. That means my belief in JS as a prophet and in the church and gospel are much different and less stringent than a TBM position. This also means that I feel free to filter the 19th century Protestant and esoteric understanding/context that litters the foundation of the church. Dexter, clear as mud? If I can clarify more, please let me know.
  11. An Amicable Brainstorm on the Language and Grammar of the BOM

    I wanted to ask you two a few questions, Champatsch as one of the most expert and Robert as a scholar who has given the research serious consideration and done some of his own research on the subject. First, I should say thanks to Champatsch for really looking into the JS 1832 history and publishing on it. That article answered a number of questions I had on the grammar of the history and its relationship to the BOM, EmodE, etc. In a somewhat related vein, have either of you established a timeline for when EmodE begins to disappear from JS' revelations. I ask the question that way because I know Champatsch has said EmodE is present in early JS revelations in a seemingly impossible way similar to the BOM. That made it sound like that at some point pre-KJV EmodE disappears from the revelations. I am also wondering if either of you have investigated a number of sources present in the 19th century where pre-KJV possibly survived into the 19th century. The first source is Psalmnody and Hymnody. I'm less certain on the hymn texts, but there are psalm-based texts dating to the 15th and 16th centuries that I believe remained part of the Protestant traditions through the 19th century. The second source is 19th century freemasonry's oral tradition, which preserved archaic grammar, including the "did (insert verb)" structure explored in one of the EmodE interpreter articles I believe. This oral tradition is partially documented in the expositions of masonry published during the American antimasonry movement of the early 19th century. A third source, which I know Champatsch has given some consideration, are older texts present in esoteric circles in the early 19th century, including grimoires and reprinted texts as Clark Goble alluded to in another thread. Which of these sources have either one of you looked into or have you looked at all of them? Another question -- what was the prayer language of the early 19th century like? Do we have a wide representation of it? Did they have any tendency towards archaic grammar like Mormon prayer language has now? Lastly, I'm curious if either of you have looked for the grammatical structures that don't qualify as EmodE (that look Hebrew or even Egyptian), such as the unnecessary "and" following an interruptive if or when clause, in JS' revelations?
  12. An Amicable Brainstorm on the Language and Grammar of the BOM

    Also, here is the video of Sam Brown's presentation where he offers evidence that the BOM text was a verbal creation:
  13. An Amicable Brainstorm on the Language and Grammar of the BOM

    Thanks for all that. That's very helpful. Still curious if you've looked for any of the non-English hebraistic constructions in the early JS revelations.
  14. An Amicable Brainstorm on the Language and Grammar of the BOM

    I found the article that mentions the quotations of Protestant publications. It's by Roger Terry, and had nothing to do with the Paul Owen's article which can be found in the same issue. Here is a link to Roger Terry's article: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1562&context=jbms
  15. An Amicable Brainstorm on the Language and Grammar of the BOM

    I remember this structure actually, and I remember Skousen talking about it in an interview. Was this the only exception in terms of type? Also, I vaguely remember looking for this structure in JS revelations. I don't remember if I found something or not. Champatsch, do you know of this structure can be found there?