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About TOmNossor

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  1. Kevin C's review of Taves, Revelatory Events.

    Hello Nevo, I thought I would ask you a question similar to the one I asked Kevin. I do not think I am "halting between two options," but when I came to realize the church I left in my youth made truth claims seldom evident in my liberal parish; I thought it possible that I was to return to Catholicism. I no longer consider that an option, but I try to remain open to all new information. I am not particularly open to the idea that God does not exist however. I find some of the arguments that are shareable to be of some value, but mostly I think what I have experienced ("inside my mail box") leads me to leave behind a purely naturalistic world. So, when I read things like Kevin's review of essays like Taves, I am a little less concerned with how well naturalistic views are preserved in light of the evidence Taves sites and the explanations she offers. Instead, I can seldom get past the question of how well Taves' Catholicism (or a Catholicism that I think is worth embracing) stands up to her methods and what a believer might call her "attack." I understand you do not think Taves is attacking. She is examining with a set of tools that is regularly employed in religious studies. This is fine, but it is not the most interesting question in my mind. I have attempted to assess the tools Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett and how that relates to what is "inside my mailbox." I come away believing that they could be correct just like I could live in the Matrix and really be a brain in a vat. I cannot know perfectly, but I can either believe in what I experience and how I experience it or choose to believe what I see no evidence for because it COULD be true. I choose my experience. This leaves me needing to choose a supernatural paradigm that aligns with the real world. As an engineer I am huge fan of the real world, I just think there is more to it than the purely naturalistic world of Harris and Dennett. So, I suppose this puts me solidly in Kevin's camp, I hope you can forgive me. But I want to ask you based on your religious studies, knowledge of Mormonism, knowledge of Taves, and little or large knowledge of Catholicism... Does Taves methodology explain Catholic experiences as possessing a "power to transform" while not necessarily containing any supernatural component JUST as she explains LDS experiences. In my more arrogant moments (I actually once believed largely this): "I am not concerned about the power to transform, I am successful, smart, ..., I want the truth. God is much greater than I am in ways that I cannot understand like I understand Einstein, Frank Zane, and Mother Teresa ... God's existence is humbling and perhaps I could do without it. But God is real." Now, I have been humbled mightily beyond this position, and I need the "power to transform" just as much as the folks who in no way resemble Einstein, Zane, and Teresa. Still I think with truth comes the power to transform so I would like the truth too. I hope that makes sense. Thank you for your informed perspective here at MADB. Charity, TOm
  2. Kevin C's review of Taves, Revelatory Events.

    Thank you for the response. I tend to believe that there are many folks who reject ALL that is properly called supernatural and claim to be a LDS or a Catholic. I guess I would not know if Taves is such a person, but it seems extraordinarily unlikely that her secular methodologies would result in Catholicism being supernatural while Mormonism is properly explained away. Charity, TOm
  3. Kevin C's review of Taves, Revelatory Events.

    Kevin, Thank you! I have enjoyed many (most or all probably) articles. I want to ask you about this from Taves: "Research becomes polemical when we apply methods and theories to others that we are unwilling to apply to our own beliefs and practices. It is good to test our methods and theories on ourselves to see what it is like to be studied in this way." I have not finished your entire review yet, but will. Does Taves believe here methodology leaves some supernatural Catholicism where the Pope is infallible and the Eucharist is Transubstantiated and ...? If she does, that seems quite remarkable to me. If you can answer that question, I would be thrilled. I will now meander on about why I ask. I am a former Catholic. I didn't leave Catholicism because of problems with Catholicism. I left ignorant of what a powerful case Catholicism makes. I left because I could tell there was something to the CoJCoLDS that I could not well explain without acknowledging God's hand. But, I have never left behind God. When I dialogue with folks who deny that God exists or is active in the universe, I offer very different concepts and ideas. I have spent a lot of time reading the "four horsemen" of atheism, and I think they fail to deal with my personal experiences. I am a theist because of what I have found "in my mailbox" (C.S. Lewis's term). It is possible that I live in the matrix. All I experience is a product of a computer program and I am a brain in a vat, but I think Occum's Razor militates against such a view. All I experience could be a product of my brain (ala Sam Harris), but I think Occum's Razor militates against such a view. However, when I dialogue with theist, I often see how their criticisms decimate IMO their particular faith long before they impact mine. Anyway, I wonder what type of Catholicism Taves could embrace that would not be explained (ie dismissed) naturalistically by her methods. Charity, TOm
  4. From Cardinal Newman: Newman goes on to say that this religions he describes “is not unlike Christianity as that same world viewed it, when first it came forth from its Divine Author.” I do not think Christ’s Church will be celebrated by the world. Especially those at the NYTs. Charity, TOm
  5. Reconciling the Lucy Walker story

    You mean Don Bradley I think, but I am not sure I would quite paraphrase his experience this way. I referenced him on page 7 of this thread. Charity, TOm
  6. Reconciling the Lucy Walker story

    I am not sure I was "shaken and disturbed." I joined the church because of what it was in 1993 when I came to know it. I never met Joseph Smith and I barely had a testimony of him as a prophet (The missionaries -district leaders- made me return to prayer when I told them I wanted to join, but I was not sure of this "prophet" thing). I just knew what he started was remarkable and changed lives. I didn't know how much my life needed changing (I was proud and arrogant and ...), but I knew the church was good and I wanted to help (because I was so great I would be a blessing to the church ... proud, arrogant, and profoundly ignorant). It was not long after I joined the church that I pulled Todd Compton's book off the shelf at our local church bookstore (Albuquerque NM before Deseret came here). I read for probably about 1 hour. I was surprised that there was much in the book that sounded like it was saying that polygamy was some sort of mistake. I remember concluding something to the effect, "well here is this in the LDS bookstore, I guess that is an ok LDS belief." I now think Todd Compton's book is only within the spectrum of views LDS came embrace, but I suppose mine is a testimony for "inoculation." I came across aspects of polygamy that did surprise me, but I thought the LDS bookstore was trusted source and thus I was not too scandalized. Today I am generally a fan of some aspects of "inoculation." That being said, I think some who advocate inoculation really advocate a invitation to a hollowed out faith. "Come follow me and leave behind that full life changing faith you once had." My message is, "Don't be illusioned, if necessary become disillusioned, but keep going until you see God's hand in every step you take. This is neither being illusioned nor disillusionment!" Charity, TOm
  7. Reconciling the Lucy Walker story

    I have only read a few of the responses so far, but the only way this can be the "most important story in all of Mormonism" is if Mormonism is a fraud and this is the proof of it. It may be more problematic in your mind than the origins of the Book of Abraham (which is the most problematic thing I see), but since I am a believer there are MANY things that are far more important concerning Mormonism than Lucy Walker or the BOA. I am sorry that the wonder that is the Book of Mormon, the amazing witness that you may or may not have received from God, the faith of millions of LDS who move mountains for God year after year, and so many other things is not the "most important story in all of Mormonism" for you. I hope you can think about the perspective you offer here. Where you sow your seeds determines your harvest. Don Bradley has a wonderful testimony about his return to the CoJCoLDS. He has done more polygamy research than probably any LDS scholar (probably including Todd Compton). I am pretty sure the bulk of this research was conducted while Don was a non-member (Don could elaborate). But, a not wholly incorrect way of expressing his view is that when he began to allow that the BIGGEST Mormon story was not the secular historical read of data where the supernatural was excluded, he found the BIGGEST Mormon story was that there was remarkable divine interactions in that Mormon history. So, my position is that if the Book of Mormon came from God, I must fit the ACCOUNTS of Lucy Walker into a framework that is true to the FACT that the BOM came from God. I personally strongly lean toward the view that there was communication from God to Joseph associated with Polygamy. I am thankful that I do not need to live polygamy (and also thankful that I am not a sub-par man in a polygamous community without a single wife as my socially awkward lot might be). I lean towards the view that there was communication from God to Joseph associated with Lucy Walker. I think you read too much into the history of "as a daughter" when we really have very little understanding of the dynamics of the relationship. But, I am open to ideas associated with non-consummated sealing or consummated sealing, more or less "as a daughter" original relationship, and even some misunderstanding of specifics on the part of God's prophet Joseph Smith (he was fallible). What is clear from the polygamy PROBLEM is that Joseph did not seek to gratify his libido. History is IMO clear enough that Joseph's polygamy was not begun so Joseph could have lots of sex. If he was not a prophet, he was quite brilliant enough to enact schemes through which he would have lots of sex; and he didn't have lots of sex. That seems quite clear to me. All that I said above has been said before EXCEPT for ... You calling this the "most important story in all of Mormonism" says something about your relationship with God's church. I am happy to worship with you whenever you come through Baltimore Maryland, but I fear if this is the "most important story in all of Mormonism" for you, there is something profoundly missing in your Mormonism. I hope you can think about that. Charity, TOm
  8. First, you said things like this, but I want to say it again. If Joseph Smith invented polygamy to satisfy his sexual urges, what a stupid abysmal failure it was. If polygamy was not from God, Joseph Smith may have had unrighteous (sinful) sex, but not much and not often. Surely he could have and would have done a lot better with or without the sanction of purported polygamy revelations if sex was his goal. While I think the historical record leans towards some amount of sex within some of Joseph's polygamous sealings, I think zero sex is more likely than remotely frequent sex. So, if the polygamy revelation was not from God and the purpose was not sex, what was Joseph's purpose? I think this is a good way of framing this discussion. I think those who deny the polygamy revelations need to explain WHY it was produced if LDS can argue convincingly that the historical record removes sex from the possible reasons it was produced. I have yet to see something I think is compelling to explain this why from critics. I like you think there is some actions taken associated with polygamy through the history of the church (and not just those condemned in the historical record) that were not in alignment with God's will. I also find it hard to believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet and polygamy didn't source in some way from God. If God revealed to me that there were serious issues with plural marriage and Joseph Smith, I would still believe that SOMETHING associated with the practice came from God. To those who have had this revelation, I offer the idea that the linking of the entire human race in fellowship was clearly part of Joseph's sealing revelations. I am not a LDS because of polygamy and it is not a big part of my experience in church. So, while I think the view that polygamy was not sourced from God is not the best read of the history; I am not certain that it is a view that must be expunged from the church. As I look at this, I think I just mostly agreed with your post. Thanks! Charity, TOm
  9. THANK YOU for the response! Calling ALL people and reporting results for those who report they are LDS or former LDS sounds like one of the better methods available. In my 5 minutes of contemplation, I neglected to consider such a brute force method of trying to get a statistically reliable sample; good for them! There are inevitable "willingness to reply to survey folks" biases, but if the interviews present themselves neutrally those can be minimized and I am confident they thought of this. Anyway, I withdraw my concern and repeat my suggestion that the data be taken seriously. Charity, TOm
  10. I have a simple concern. How could one become a respondent? How was the sample selected? How will this impact the results? Did the church randomize all folks who were ever baptized and then give a list of 10000 folks to our survey folks? I doubt this. Did every 50th visitor to lds.org get a pop up that said, "How would you like to take a survey? I doubt this. Did Jana Reiss invite folks from her blog audience? And folks from John Delhin's audience? And folks from MADB's audience? What percent of each? I have put about 5 minutes into thinking how I would find a sampling that I THOUGHT was worthy of being viewed as a solid statistical sample of all believing and formerly believing LDS; and I cannot think of a good method absent significant help from the church. In fact, in those 5 minutes I thought it likely that most Jana Reiss methods would OVERSAMPLE doubters and the doubting, but perhaps it is my "persecution complex" speaking. I advocate that LDS both church authorities / church employees AND internet pontificators take the data seriously, but that does not mean there is not a significant sample bias present. Charity, TOm
  11. The great apostasy

    Hello, I think the below is of value to this discussion, but as I think about your point I think your point might be enough different that the below is not really a response to it. It is true that bishops ordaining bishops was important pretty early. The interchangeability of the terms for bishop and priest in the early church make this a less than absolutely clear truth, but it was very early were bishops began to be above mere priests. This probably happened in the 1st century in some churches and in the early 2nd century in most places. Which doesn't change the fact that Irenaeus in the late 2nd century can still use the terms somewhat interchangeably. But, bishop ordaining bishop I think has been important from very early and perhaps the beginning. .... And because I wrote it, here is what I thought I was responding too (which has relevance for the thread, but may not be a direct response to what you were asserting). .... I cannot remember if you have read Father Sullivan's book. Also, there is a book Bishop's Lists by a Protestant author that David of course has read (but I have not).
 I do not think the Bishop's Lists were as important to the VERY early church as you think they were. One of the remarkable things in the history is that the local Roman Church considered Clement of Rome the first Bishop of Rome after Peter the apostle. I think it was Irenaeus who came up with Linus, Cletus, and Clement as 1,2, and 3 (or anachronistically 2, 3, and 4). But Tertullian had Clement as first and Jerome preserved the truth that the Latins (local Roman Church) think he is second after Peter (though Jerome writing centuries later relates the current view). I am pretty sure some early accounts have him as 3rd. So, I do not dispute that Bishop lists became important, but the MOST important one of all, the Bishop of Rome list was in flux for a long time. Why? My answer is that Rome was a little late to the single bishop for extended periods of time at the head of the church. Other places like Antioch were probably earlier. And that while ordination is important and early, the idea that the Bishops form an essential line as the successors of the Apostles was a later understanding. The "Bishops Lists" were pressed into service against heresies, but when there were gaps, the gaps were filled with conjecture because originally the "Bishops Lists" were not as important as the became. From this we have Roman church confusion, we have Sixtus (the sixth bishop of Rome that we know very little about, probably so little we don't know his name). The primacy of Rome also went through flux. The Pseudo Clementine Recognitions detail Peter selection Clement as the new head of the church, but they are a 4th century creations that purports to be Clements account, but is not. Some early authors told us that the Bishop or Rome is at the head of the church because the Roman Church was started by Peter AND Paul. Some emphasized the MARTYRDOM of Peter as the defining aspect of Roman primacy. I think some claim Peter founded the church in Rome, but any who claim this don’t know the history as it is accepted today. And the more modern version that Peter was the 1st Bishop or Rome (and ignore the fact that Peter was the First Bishop of Antioch before Rome). So, I think you are correct that the ordination of bishops by bishops is important, but I do not think it creates the lines of succession with great clarity at least not early on. Do you see different things in the history? Charity, TOm
  12. The great apostasy

    In case my previous answer was too long: We have James 5:14 where the PRESBYTERS bless the sick. James 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: Charity, TOm
  13. The great apostasy

    If some day I become convinced that the Devil inspired ALL that is the CoJCoLDS, the BOM with SOME of its content only explainable via ancient roots or ancient knowledge unknown to Joseph Smith or anyone in his day, the success of the church founded through Joseph Smith, the witnesses and their testimony, the reliance upon revelation evident in LDS leaders from Joseph Smith to David O. McKay to President Hinckley, and many other things; I would be at the sacrament of reconciliation in hopefully less than 1 day. I might spend some time determining if I should be an Eastern Orthodox Christian, but your “no ordained priesthood” is so obviously ahistorical I struggle to understand how folks embrace it after reading the history. The Bible is TOUGH to align with your version of sola scriptura. We have James 5:13-15 where the PRESBYTERS bless the sick. We have ordination via the laying on of hands in 1 Timothy 4:14 (and really 5:22 also). That being said, the idea of ordained leaders was present in extra Biblical words written in the 1st century and in the practice of the church witnessed some in the first century and witnessed extensively in the second century. Add to this, the very folks who defined the theological positions that Protestants attack LDS with were claiming that they could/should define these positions because they were ordained leaders. They made arguments in the late 2nd/early 3rd century that you could determine the authenticity of views by tracing the valid “bishops lists.” If Protestant positions are orthodox Christianity (and are important enough that Protestants deny the term Christian to LDS), then they are the product of ordained folks who used their ordination to win the debates. How could these folks be 100% correct in all the non-priesthood theological debates and be 100% wrong when they explained what the priesthood was (and when they claimed you can look to them for correct theology because of their priesthood)? I am not Catholic. I think the LDS way of looking at the history of the early church aligns well with the historical record we have. But, I think the Catholic way of looking at the history of the early church with all of its holes (bigger problems than I see for the LDS view) still makes a lot more sense of the data than the Protestant way. Some very liberal Protestants do not believe all the Bible was inspired (so the dismiss Timothy and Titus). They do not necessarily embrace (and certainly do not dogmatically embrace) the theological productions from the Early Church. They see human messiness contaminating everything to the point that they take great license in defining their beliefs. Some think Christ was divine some maybe not. Their rejection of all certainty is IMO a path out of Christianity to agnosticism, but I think the intellectual merits of this path fall somewhere between Catholicism and traditional Protestantism. One could even argue since they make so few dogmatic assertions there is little to falsify their belief and thus they bend freely at every attack. The one person I dialogued extensively with stopped briefly at this position on his way to agnosticism. The main intellectual fault I have with this view is that I think it does violence to the conviction of the folks who lived in the early church. There was something so powerful that they experienced (both the eyewitnesses of Christ’s ministry and there numerous generations of followers) they reoriented their lives and often died for the faith. I think there is too much there there to embrace the liberal Protestant position. Charity, TOm
  14. The great apostasy

    I must plug a long and somewhat convoluted article that of which I am a huge fan. I have always been troubled about the firm conviction that this is the last dispensation. Such was the view of ever dispensation as best I can tell. What is absolutely true is that there have always been devote followers of Christ who thought the second coming was during their lifetime. This article has helped me to see a POSSIBLE reason that this is the last dispensation and why the Peterine church (and perhaps the Mohammedian church) did not have the staying power that I believe and hope the Latter-Day Christian Church has. http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/a-mormon-theodicy-jacob-and-the-problem-of-evil/ Charity, TOm
  15. The great apostasy

    LDS have portraits that show Peter, James, and John ordaining Joseph Smith. LDS then have portraits detailing the authority from Joseph Smith to Thomas Monson. The Roman Church claimed Pope Clement was the first Pope after Peter for many years until more distinguished authors corrected the local church. The local Roman church was very unconcerned with who was the Bishop/Pope in those early days. So sure we have portraits, but these are less contemporary than the LDS evidence I offer. And of course Sixtus is the sixth Pope after Peter. His name is likely derived because originally Peter was not listed as Bishop of Rome/Pope, AND because nobody knew who the sixth Bishop of Rome was. So they said it was Sixtus and made a portrait. Father Francis Sullivan agrees with most authors that there was no singular bishop in Rome until the 2nd century. That Clement was a distinguished bishop/presbyter and this is likely true for other early "popes." I do not think portraits of Popes created after the "Rise of the Papacy" are strong evidence for the Peterine headship present within the Bishop of Rome. Charity, TOm