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New Church Historian on Aug 1st.

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3 hours ago, Bede said:

I'm sorry, Scott. I have to disagree with your opinion here. They botched the "Swedish rescue" by giving non-answers to sincere members' questions, then kept repeating the mantra we don't have time for that (we don't have time to answer that question). We need Church historians who will spend as much time as it takes to answer questions honestly, truthfully, and with the whole story.

I don’t want to get off on a tangent about “the Swedish rescue,” but I think that whole event was ill conceived from the get-go. Elder Jensen and Richard Turley had the deck stacked against them in that they were obliged to field an array of complaints without being given sufficient time and opportunity to field them properly. Moreover, I got the impression from the transcript I saw of the unauthorized recording that the people there were belligerent, confrontational and in no disposition to have their minds changed. 

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26 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I don’t want to get off on a tangent about “the Swedish rescue,” but I think that whole event was ill conceived from the get-go. Elder Jensen and Richard Turley had the deck stacked against them in that they were obliged to field an array of complaints without being given sufficient time and opportunity to field them properly. Moreover, I got the impression from the transcript I saw of the unauthorized recording that the people there were belligerent, confrontational and in no disposition to have their minds changed. 

Given, I was not at that meeting, so I can’t defend anyone who was there specifically, but if you’ve ever been lied to about something that is so special to you, you’d probably be worked up, too!  For an organization to ask you to “stay the course”, you’d probably want answers.

I’m by no means claiming that church historians or leaders lie. But - there are many who feel/believe they have been lied to. Let’s empathize with people who feel betrayed - even if they’re wrong!

I can guarantee you that you’ll bring more of these members back to Mormon orthodoxy if you don’t consider them “belligerent, confrontational and in no disposition to have their minds changed.”

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Posted (edited)

The so-called “Swedish rescue” of 2010 has been brought up on this thread. I indicated I wasn’t going to get dragged into a tangent on that, because it really is off topic (see the OP and thread title).  

That’s still my intent. However, out of curiosity, I just now checked the FairMormon website to see if there was anything there on the subject of the Swedish rescue. I found immediately that FairMormon has indeed undertaken a response to each of the questions raised at that fireside that are reflected in the surreptitious recording that was circulated on the internet in transcription form. I am providing a link to the FairMormon responses for those who might be interested. 

Those of us who have been acquainted over the years with the stock anti-Mormon attacks will recognize that there was really not much, if anything, new brought up at that meeting in Stockholm, that the attacks have been answered repeatedly over the years, and that there are plausible and well-reasoned answers, even if some don’t see them as compelling. 

This will be my last post on this thread pertaining to the Swedish rescue. I’ll ignore any responses to this post, and I suggest that if there be any who have more to say on the matter, that they do it in a separate thread created for that purpose. 

And now, here’s that FairMormon link:

https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Firesides/28_November_2010_-_Sweden

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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On 4/12/2019 at 9:17 PM, Scott Lloyd said:

The so-called “Swedish rescue” of 2010 has been brought up on this thread. I indicated I wasn’t going to get dragged into a tangent on that, because it really is off topic (see the OP and thread title).  

That’s still my intent. However, out of curiosity, I just now checked the FairMormon website to see if there was anything there on the subject of the Swedish rescue. I found immediately that FairMormon has indeed undertaken a response to each of the questions raised at that fireside that are reflected in the surreptitious recording that was circulated on the internet in transcription form. I am providing a link to the FairMormon responses for those who might be interested. 

Those of us who have been acquainted over the years with the stock anti-Mormon attacks will recognize that there was really not much, if anything, new brought up at that meeting in Stockholm, that the attacks have been answered repeatedly over the years, and that there are plausible and well-reasoned answers, even if some don’t see them as compelling. 

This will be my last post on this thread pertaining to the Swedish rescue. I’ll ignore any responses to this post, and I suggest that if there be any who have more to say on the matter, that they do it in a separate thread created for that purpose. 

And now, here’s that FairMormon link:

https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Firesides/28_November_2010_-_Sweden

Yeah, well, here's the thing: I know there are answers on FAIRMormon. But official church historians should be able to answer any questions about church history at any time. Being a historian of church history is their full time job. I can answer any questions about my full time job at any time.

Instead, what do we see? Church historians who are not trained historians fumbling about, making excuses, changing the subject, and giving non-answers. This looks terrible for the church.

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2 hours ago, Bede said:

Yeah, well, here's the thing: I know there are answers on FAIRMormon. But official church historians should be able to answer any questions about church history at any time. Being a historian of church history is their full time job. I can answer any questions about my full time job at any time.

Instead, what do we see? Church historians who are not trained historians fumbling about, making excuses, changing the subject, and giving non-answers. This looks terrible for the church.

That's complete nonsense. Don't compare your job to the Church historian's. There is simply no humanely possible way for someone to know everything in the Church's history. Do you know everything? Of course not. What if things are not recorded? What if people misremember things? What did President Lorenzo Snow think of the Salt Lake Temple dedication Sacrament mtg on April 20,1893? Who knows, he didn't keep a record or if he did it hasn't survived. So, if the Church historian was asked he couldn't answer. What did Elder Hyrum M. Smith of the Twelve think of my city and what did he say when he came here in the fall of 1906? Who knows, again no record kept or survived. There are a million, billion things that happen in the Church's history that have no answer simply because they are not recorded so historians are reliant on what sources are around. Here's what Elder Orson Pratt said,

 “If every elder had, during the last nineteen years kept a faithful record of all that he had seen, heard, and felt of the goodness, wisdom and power of God, the Church would now have been in possession of many thousand volumes, containing much important and useful information. How many thousands have been miraculously healed in this Church, and yet no one has recorded the circumstances. Is this right? Should these miraculous manifestations of the power of God be forgotten and pass into oblivion? Should the knowledge of these things slumber in the hearts of those who witnessed them?  We should keep a record because Jesus has commanded it. We should keep a record because the same will benefit us and the generations of our children after us. We should keep a record because it will furnish many important items for the general history of the Church which would otherwise be lost.” (Millennial Star, 15 May 1849, p. 152.)

Edited by Duncan
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Posted (edited)
50 minutes ago, Duncan said:

That's complete nonsense. Don't compare your job to the Church historian's. There is simply no humanely possible way for someone to know everything in the Church's history.

Except most of the questions asked were pretty basic (regarding BofM translation, the first vision, polygamy, etc.) and iirc, the historians stated that they had the answers (in their brief case), but then did not address many or most of the questions.  I'm going from memory here, but that's what I remember from reading the transcript of the meeting back when it took place.   

To be fair, they were in a bad spot and I think tried to do what they could.  But as historians representing the church, they should have addressed the questions and shared the answers they seemed to claim that they brought with them, IMO.

Edited by ALarson

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38 minutes ago, ALarson said:

Except most of the questions asked were pretty basic (regarding BofM translation, the first vision, polygamy, etc.) and iirc, the historians stated that they had the answers (in their brief case), but then did not address many or most of the questions.  I'm going from memory here, but that's what I remember from reading the transcript of the meeting back when it took place.   

To be fair, they were in a bad spot and I think tried to do what they could.  But as historians representing the church, they should have addressed the questions and shared the answers they seemed to claim that they brought with them, IMO.

I don't know if I were to characterize these issues as "basic" if they were then people wouldn't be asking questions about it. Polygamy is complicated, the translation is complicated, some are confused about the 1st Vision obviously but I get what you are saying. A live QA session rarely goes well for anyone!

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8 minutes ago, Duncan said:

I don't know if I were to characterize these issues as "basic" if they were then people wouldn't be asking questions about it. Polygamy is complicated, the translation is complicated, some are confused about the 1st Vision obviously but I get what you are saying. A live QA session rarely goes well for anyone!

I agree that polygamy can get complicated and it's a large subject to cover.  But from what I remember, the answers given (or more the avoidance of giving any answers) were pretty inadequate.

Also many of the other questions were pretty basic, IMO and the church historian had traveled all the way to Sweden to specifically meet with these members and help them with answers.  

After reading the transcript, I was amazed at how poorly these historians did.  That's my opinion and you can disagree of course.  My impression after reading the transcript, was that they did more avoiding and dodging and spent more time chewing the members out for having doubts and questions than they spent actually addressing their concerns and questions.  I'd have to read it again as it's been awhile, but I know that's how I felt at the time.

Edited by ALarson
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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, ALarson said:

I agree that polygamy can get complicated and it's a large subject to cover.  But from what I remember, the answers given (or more the avoidance of giving any answers) were pretty inadequate.

Also many of the other questions were pretty basic, IMO and the church historian had traveled all the way to Sweden to specifically meet with these members and help them with answers.  

After reading the transcript, I was amazed at how poorly these historians did.  That's my opinion and you can disagree of course.  My impression after reading the transcript, was that they did more avoiding and dodging and spent more time chewing the members out for having doubts and questions than they spent actually addressing their concerns and questions.  I'd have to read it again as it's been awhile, but I know that's how I felt at the time.

I got the impression they were trying to respond respectfully while avoiding opening a can of worms by giving capsule responses to questions and issues that were too involved for a format like this. Couple this with the fact that it was clearly an unfriendly and demanding crowd they were dealing with, and what emerges is a no win situation for Elder Jensen and Brother Turley. As I said, an I’ll-conceived idea to begin with. 

And my recollection is that they didn’t “travel all the way to Sweden” just for this, that it was a side stop for them as they were going to or from conducting other business en route, that they came at the request of local or regional Church leaders who were trying to deal with this rash of apostasy. 

And you guys have lured me into violating my vow not to continue conversing here on this subject. I wish you had taken it to a new thread, as I suggested. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I got the impression they were trying to respond respectfully while avoiding opening a can of worms by giving capsule responses to questions and issues that were too involved for a format like this. Couple this with the fact that it was clearly an unfriendly and demanding crowd they were dealing with, and what emerges is a no win situation for Elder Jensen and Brother Turley. As I said, an I’ll-conceived idea to begin with. 

I know this meeting (or fireside) was scheduled ahead of time for these two church historians to travel over to Sweden and attend (I don't know what other business they attended to while there).  All local leaders were in attendance at this meeting who could be there (Stake Presidents, etc.) and I believe 25 or so members representing (iirc) around 600 members who'd formed a group on facebook to discuss issues they were struggling with and had specific questions.  I don't know if that was an "ill-conceived idea".  I honestly do believe these historians went with good intentions but were maybe not prepared with good answers for these members.  If I remember correctly, they had at least some of the questions submitted to them in advance.  I'd imagine in hindsight, they may have handled the entire thing in a different manner.  It's admirable that FairMormon did try to write up some answers to these member's questions.

4 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

And you guys have lured me into violating my vow not to continue conversing here in this subject. I wish you had taken it to a new thread, as I suggested. 

Your "vow"?  :)   I didn't see that, but I agree this needs its own thread if anyone wants to continue discussing it.  I've given my opinion on it and won't derail further.

Edited by ALarson

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6 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I got the impression they were trying to respond respectfully while avoiding opening a can of worms by giving capsule responses to questions and issues that were too involved for a format like this. Couple this with the fact that it was clearly an unfriendly and demanding crowd they were dealing with, and what emerges is a no win situation for Elder Jensen and Brother Turley. As I said, an I’ll-conceived idea to begin with. 

Quick question . . . You refer to "Elder" Jensen and "Brother" Turley. Is there a protocol or reason for the differing appellations? Just curious. 

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1 minute ago, Navidad said:

Quick question . . . You refer to "Elder" Jensen and "Brother" Turley. Is there a protocol or reason for the differing appellations? Just curious. 

Elder Jensen, Church Historian and Recorder at the time, was also a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, which means he was a General Authority of the Church. Except for the Presiding Bishopric and those who are called President by virtue of their leadership roles, General Authorities have the title of Elder. 

Richard E. Turley Jr., who was Assistant Church Historian and Recorder at the time and is now Director of Public Affairs for the Church, has never been a General Authority. 

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This is really quite simple.

Should a church historian be an actual historian, or should they not?

If not, why call it church historian? Why not call it "managing director of the church history department?"

I just finished the Leonard Arrington book by Greg Prince. Arrington is an example of a professional historian who brought the real discipline of history to the church history department.

A really bad example of a church historian who had no business being in that office is Joseph Fielding Smith. He literally cut one of the most important historical artifacts out of Joseph Smith's journal. 

Another is Turley and Jensen and the Swedish rescue. They gave a bunch of non-answers, tap dances, and misdirection to sincerely troubled and questioning members. To claim the environment was "hostile" is silly--we don't know that; we have no evidence of that. Serious, sure. Earnest, yes. Hostile? Hardly.

Being in the position of official historian for any organization requires that you actually know and study its history. Jensen and Turley clearly do and did not. Yes, there are historical questions for which we don't have an answer. The correct approach is not to tip-toe around the question with misdirection and obfuscation, it is to say "I'm not aware of a good answer for that, but I will research it and get back to you."

 

 

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25 minutes ago, Bede said:

This is really quite simple.

Should a church historian be an actual historian, or should they not?

If not, why call it church historian? Why not call it "managing director of the church history department?"

I just finished the Leonard Arrington book by Greg Prince. Arrington is an example of a professional historian who brought the real discipline of history to the church history department.

A really bad example of a church historian who had no business being in that office is Joseph Fielding Smith. He literally cut one of the most important historical artifacts out of Joseph Smith's journal. 

Another is Turley and Jensen and the Swedish rescue. They gave a bunch of non-answers, tap dances, and misdirection to sincerely troubled and questioning members. To claim the environment was "hostile" is silly--we don't know that; we have no evidence of that. Serious, sure. Earnest, yes. Hostile? Hardly.

Being in the position of official historian for any organization requires that you actually know and study its history. Jensen and Turley clearly do and did not. Yes, there are historical questions for which we don't have an answer. The correct approach is not to tip-toe around the question with misdirection and obfuscation, it is to say "I'm not aware of a good answer for that, but I will research it and get back to you."

 

 

Except that Dr. Leonard Arrington was an economic historian, not a religious historian, but I'm sure your book told you that part.  Elder Snow's official title is "Church Historian and Recorder
Executive Director, Church History Department" he has TONS of help to do it. Church history is still being made and hopefully documented. If you want historical documents do what I do, order them online from the CHL. If you're interested you should read an article about Pres. Smith as Church historian, understanding him in the time he was writing, rather than understanding him in 2019 terms,

"True and Faithful: Joseph Fielding Smith as Mormon Historian and Theologian"

 Author Reid L. Neilson, Author Scott D. Marianno
BYU Studies 57:1

 i'm quite sure you've read every article and book Pres. Smith ever wrote right?  I wouldn't judge one person (Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith) by one act, that you don't even know he did, by the way what's your evidence he excised the 1832 document? he wasn't the first person to have it by the way, far from it. I'm sure Elder Snow studies Church history. Another approach if for people to do their own research and see if they have any merit in the "marketplace of ideas" to use a phrase that Pres. Eyring used once. As we see people like Bill Reel, Runnells take your current exmo star of the week, don't do good research and it's embarrassing really.

Edited by Duncan
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Posted (edited)
55 minutes ago, Bede said:

Should a church historian be an actual historian, or should they not?

 

In a church with lay volunteers, I see no issue with labeling the calling without having the person holding the calling be a professional.  We have plenty of teachers and advisors called to their work in our faith whose careers have nothing to do with either. 

Faithful service is not a guarantee they won’t make mistakes. Not making that claim. 

Edited by Calm

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On 4/17/2019 at 10:07 AM, Scott Lloyd said:

Elder Jensen, Church Historian and Recorder at the time, was also a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, which means he was a General Authority of the Church. Except for the Presiding Bishopric and those who are called President by virtue of their leadership roles, General Authorities have the title of Elder. 

Richard E. Turley Jr., who was Assistant Church Historian and Recorder at the time and is now Director of Public Affairs for the Church, has never been a General Authority. 

Sorry for being dense. I am not sure I understand. The 19 year old missionary is titled Elder, right? I thought once an elder, one was an elder for his whole life. Certainly Richard Turley Jr. is an elder, no? Brother seems a title that even I am called by members of our ward. Is there some distinction in the title other than for a non-president general authority? I ask because I am not always sure what title to use for men. Thanks for the clarification. 

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27 minutes ago, Bede said:

This is really quite simple.

Should a church historian be an actual historian, or should they not?

If not, why call it church historian? Why not call it "managing director of the church history department?"

I just finished the Leonard Arrington book by Greg Prince. Arrington is an example of a professional historian who brought the real discipline of history to the church history department.

 

There are a lot of good historians in the field of Mormonism who are not professionally trained historians. I  think we should judge historians by the quality of their work, not the letters after their names. I agree the church made a huge mistake by preventing Arrington from continuing his work, a mistake that it is still paying for as we could see from the Swedish rescue, but I believe they have really turned that around with what they have been producing in the last ten years or more. The JSPP is simply outstanding work. I am fine with an administrator at the head of the department as long as they continue to produce the same quality of work they have been producing recently.

 

As a side note. I do not think it is feasible anymore to expect any one individual to keep fully informed in the field of Mormon history. It is a rapidly expanding field and the production is simply enormous. For example see this list of forthcoming books. Forthcoming Books on Mormonism. There is over 40 book on that list alone. Add to that the publication of half a dozen quarterly journals, and innumerable independent articles and other books, it is simple not possible to be current in all aspects of the field. So I would prefer they keep an able openminded administrator in the position even if he isn't actually a professionally trained historian.

 

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22 minutes ago, Navidad said:

Sorry for being dense. I am not sure I understand. The 19 year old missionary is titled Elder, right? I thought once an elder, one was an elder for his whole life. Certainly Richard Turley Jr. is an elder, no? Brother seems a title that even I am called by members of our ward. Is there some distinction in the title other than for a non-president general authority? I ask because I am not always sure what title to use for men. Thanks for the clarification. 

It is a little confusing. While all who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood should technically be called Elder, we reserve that title for serving missionaries and General Authorities.

This does not describe that difference, but titles of the Priesthood in general. 

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1993/04/honoring-the-priesthood?lang=eng

Women are just always called Sister at this point, there is some discussion this may change soon. 

I am going to see if I can find something specific to how we use Elder. 

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2 hours ago, Duncan said:

i'm quite sure you've read every article and book Pres. Smith ever wrote right?  I wouldn't judge one person (Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith) by one act, that you don't even know he did, by the way what's your evidence he excised the 1832 document?

Oh, please! You don't have to read every book and article that a person produced in order to understand the topic or the person. You are probably an authority on speaking/writing English. Do you know everything there is to know about the language? Do you know every noun?

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Just now, Bede said:

Oh, please! You don't have to read every book and article that a person produced in order to understand the topic or the person. You are probably an authority on speaking/writing English. Do you know everything there is to know about the language? Do you know every noun?

Canadian English yes😊 It would help to read a book , hopefully more, written by someone to understand what their style is, sources used, interests, angle etc. I can read a book about dentistry but I would hardly be called a dentist

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1 hour ago, CA Steve said:

There are a lot of good historians in the field of Mormonism who are not professionally trained historians.

Of course. But they don't all hold the office of official church historian.

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1 minute ago, Duncan said:

Canadian English yes😊 It would help to read a book , hopefully more, written by someone to understand what their style is, sources used, interests, angle etc. I can read a book about dentistry but I would hardly be called a dentist

And I did not say I was an expert on anything. But I have read enough about JFS to know that he was not the appropriate person to hold that office. You don't destroy essential historical records if you are a historian.

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Bede said:

And I did not say I was an expert on anything. But I have read enough about JFS to know that he was not the appropriate person to hold that office. You don't destroy essential historical records if you are a historian.

You should read JFS and not just stuff "about" him. It's a great thing he didn't destroy records now isn't it? hmm?

Edited by Duncan
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6 minutes ago, Duncan said:

You should read JFS and not just stuff "about" him. It's a great thing he didn't destroy records now isn't it? hmm?

He essentially redacted them. That's bad.

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Just now, Bede said:

He essentially redacted them. That's bad.

ummmmmmmmmmm, are you sure about that? I know what the word "redacted" means and the situation with the 1832 and know that the two are incompatible. Nobody knows who did it or when. The fact that it exists and wasn't blacked out means it wasn't destroyed or redacted

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