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Scott Gordon--CES Letter: Proof or Propaganda

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Quite honestly, after reading through this tread, I am SHOCKED that those disputing the CES letter are so clueless as to what the issue is that is causing so many to leave the Church.  It is not about what the intentions of the author  was, or how he gathered the contents for the letter.  It is not even about whether FairMormon has adequately come up with an explanation to cover one of the points in the letter.

This is about a total collapse of faith in the trustworthyness of the Church and its leaders.  

That is all it is about.  And sometimes the answers FairMormon gives only CONFIRMS that lack of trust.  So instead of disputing the CES letter, it actually confirms the issue some members are having.

Let me explain what I mean.  Let's take, for example, the lack of archeology evidence concerning the Hill Cumorah.  Those in a faith crisis grew up hearing that the Cumorah talked about in the Book of Mormon is the one located in upstate New York during Sunday School classes Seminary, and later Gospel Doctrine.  These were't speculation from some crazy teacher.  It was all confirmed by Apostles of God.  Here are just a few of the statements they grew up with.
 

Quote

Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith

It is known that the Hill Cumorah where the Nephites were destroyed is the hill where the Jaredites were also destroyed. This hill was known to the Jaredites as Ramah. It was approximately near to the waters of Ripliancum, which the Book of Ether says, "by interpretation, is large or to exceed all." ... It must be conceded that this description fits perfectly the land of Cumorah in New York ... for the hill is in the proximity of the Great Lakes, and also in the land of many rivers and fountains. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, pp. 233–34).

 

 

Quote

Apostle Mark E. Peterson

I do not believe that there were two Hill Cumorahs, one in Central America and the other one up in New York, for the convenience of the Prophet Joseph Smith, so that the poor boy would not have to walk clear to Central America to get the gold plates. (123rd Annual Conference of the LDS Church, April 4–6, 1953, Conference Report, pp. 83–84; Improvement Era, June 1953, p. 423).

 

 

Quote

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie

Both the Nephite and the Jaredite civilizations fought their final great wars of extinction at and near the Hill Cumorah (or Ramah as the Jaredites termed it), which hill is located between Palmyra and Manchester in the western part of the state of New York ... Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and many early brethren, who were familiar with the circumstances attending the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in this dispensation, have left us pointed testimony as to the identity and location of Cumorah or Ramah. (Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Cumorah", p. 175).

 

 

Notice where those statements appeared.  At the time those were all very credible places one could expect to find Church doctrine.  I don't remember any upheaavel from the Church loudly disputing any of this.  I don't remember any Apostle countering and stating that they know the Hill Cumorah in New York is NOT the one mentioned in the Book of Mormon.  Everyone took it as authoritative statements of Apostles of God.  (Remember the recent vape article in the New Era and all of you defending that magazine as a sure place to find Church doctrine?)

Members in faith crisis also grew up being told the story when Oliver Cowdery seeing with his own two eyes a cave in that very same Hill Cumorah filled with the gold plates which were condensed from by Mormon. with an angel and a trunk.  And on that trunk lay. gold plates, Laban's sword, and Aaron's breastplate.  It wasn't presented as a vision.  It wasn't presented as a time-warp experience.  It was presented as an actual cave in the actual Hill Cumorah.  

Turns out, none of that can possibly be true and the Church no longer even supports any of that.  And there is the first point where loss of trust takes place.  What was told as true, now is not.

So FairMormon or some other group come up with an alternative explanation.  There is another Hill Cumorah somewhere else. Oliver Cowdery likely just had a vision.  If you had just lost your trust in Church leaders telling you the truth about something you were told was true all. your life, would speculation of what might have happened help all the sudden restore that trust?  Or would it confirm that in fact, you were indeed told something that could not possibly be true.  So now we are told to believe this new speculation over what was said by men claiming to be Apostles of God.  Because now, the trust that they are actually Apostles of God is looking a little doubtful and even FairMormon are throwing them under the bus.  Next thing we are going to hear is "they are just fallible men".  Sounds better than OOPs I guess.

I like the rope analogy that was brought up earlier in this thread.  I know a little about rope.  There are  literally yards and yards of the stuff rigging my sailboat. Each one of those lines I rely on to make things work.  I can tell you that when one snaps under strong winds, the consequences can be serious.  I have had it happen.  Each one of those ropes has an inter core.  It is the part that gives the rope all of its strength.  Then there is an outer sheathing that is woven around that inter core.  It protects and strengthens the inter core.  But if that inter core is severed or damaged, then there is nothing that outer sheathing can do to keep the cord from snapping. 

Do you get what is going on here?  Do you see how ridiculous it is to attack the messenger, question his motives, come up with alternative explanations for what was taught your entire life?  The inter core is severed.  No matter how much tape I put around that rope, no matter how that rope looks from the outside, if that core is rotten or severed or even weakened, nothing else really matters.  I can never trust that rope to raise my sails with it again.

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When Othello has his faith crisis, he's not just facing the hard cruel facts, and objectively following them to their inevitable, irrefutable conclusion.  He's buying into a narrative frame in which to interpret those facts.  He's not particularly self reflective, but rather, more concerned about his personal pride than his personal relationships, more concerned with emotion and self justification than faith, hope, and charity. 

One inescapable obvious fact that ought to be accounted for, and that happens to be the foundation of my own response to Runnells, is that the same facts can easily be accounted for by a different narrative.  Jesus talks about new wine and new bottles.  Kuhn talks about paradigms.

So, how should I react if I discover that various LDS leaders made errors in assertions about the New York Cumorah, or what ever else bothers you?  Should I shatter like glass if I run across something that counters my traditions?  (That happens to be Joseph Smith's apt metaphor in discussing an LDS weakness in dealing with information that counters their traditions.)  Or should I first examine my own eye for beams, and consider not what I did expect, but rather always be willing to ask "What I should expect?"
 

Quote

24 Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.

25 And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known;

26 And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed;

27 And inasmuch as they sinned they might be chastened, that they might repent;

28 And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time.

If I come across Othello strangling Desdemona, should I sympathize with him, and say, "I feel your pain.  Why shouldn't you feel betrayed and angry?  You are completely justified in your actions.  No one should criticize you because that is adding insult to injury."

I happen to think Desdemona is innocent.  I think Othello is making a huge mistake.  I think the same information that he believes is faith shattering can be accounted for in another, more reasonable, enlightening, and plausible way.  I think that it is important to point that out, and that any embarrassment he might feel about his misplaced interpretations and expectations is far less important than the prospect of his later having to face the damage he has done to an innocent and to his own soul.

And might it not be a good idea to talk about how new knowledge and different perspectives might actually expand our minds and enlarge our souls?  Shouldn't I give the new wine and new bottles a chance?  When I become a man, should I not put away childish things, including a view of authority that LDS scriptures explicitly deny?

It's important to deal with changing information.  It's not just a Mormon thing.

Quote

Take, for example, Alfred North Whitehead:

When I was a young man in the University of Cambridge, I was taught science and mathematics by brilliant men and I did well in them; since the turn of the century I have lived to see every one of the basic assumptions of both set aside; not, indeed, discarded, but of use as qualifying clauses instead of as major propositions; and all this in one life-span — the most fundamental assumptions of supposedly exact sciences set aside. And yet, in the face of that, the discoverers of the new hypotheses in science are declaring, “Now at last, we have certitude.”92

The Tanners titled their most famous book, The Changing World of Mormonism, based on the entirely dubious foundational premise that any change is inherently scandalous. Notice what happens to the scandal if the subject is the Changing World of Science, or Astronomy, or Computing, or Politics, or History, or Education, or Music, or Botany, [Page 149]or Paleontology, or whatever . It turns out that in most fields of learning and areas of life, the fact of change is not at all scandalous. We expect it.
It would be nice if all church manuals and church art were better, but I have to ask, does God really want me to grow up sure in the knowledge that everything my teachers and formal leaders say is absolutely correct and unchanging and all I have to do is sit and listen to approved thoughts? If that is where I end up, have I really grown up?

https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/image-is-everything-pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain/

It's also a human development thing, which is why I keep citing the Perry Scheme for Cognitive and Ethical Growth. It's also a recovery thing, which is why I mention "dismantling the grievance story."

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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26 minutes ago, Kevin Christensen said:

So, how should I react if I discover that various LDS leaders made errors in assertions about the New York Cumorah, or what ever else bothers you?  Should I shatter like glass if I run across something that counters my traditions

Possibly not, but that's only one of the very many truths a member learns when they read the CES Letter.  If it was just that one thing, I believe most could get past it and possibly be open to the new speculations.  They could just chalk it up to our leaders being fallible men.  But the information just keeps coming and building until a member wonders if anything they'd learned from their leaders is the truth regarding church history, past doctrines, and so on.  They are left with no trust in their leaders.  

We are now seeing this happen over and over again.  And yes, the CES Letter is still very commonly mentioned as their source for learning the volume of troubling issues.  But as shown here, most discussions devolve into personally attacking Runnells and his motives for asking the questions.  Instead we should be focusing on the troubling issues, admitting there are problems and understanding why members struggle when they learn about them and also learn how many issues there really are.

Edited by ALarson
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51 minutes ago, california boy said:

Quite honestly, after reading through this tread, I am SHOCKED that those disputing the CES letter are so clueless as to what the issue is that is causing so many to leave the Church.  It is not about what the intentions of the author  was, or how he gathered the contents for the letter.  It is not even about whether FairMormon has adequately come up with an explanation to cover one of the points in the letter.

This is about a total collapse of faith in the trustworthyness of the Church and its leaders.  

That is all it is about.  And sometimes the answers FairMormon gives only CONFIRMS that lack of trust.  So instead of disputing the CES letter, it actually confirms the issue some members are having.

Let me explain what I mean.  Let's take, for example, the lack of archeology evidence concerning the Hill Cumorah.  Those in a faith crisis grew up hearing that the Cumorah talked about in the Book of Mormon is the one located in upstate New York during Sunday School classes Seminary, and later Gospel Doctrine.  These were't speculation from some crazy teacher.  It was all confirmed by Apostles of God.  Here are just a few of the statements they grew up with.
 

 

 

 

Notice where those statements appeared.  At the time those were all very credible places one could expect to find Church doctrine.  I don't remember any upheaavel from the Church loudly disputing any of this.  I don't remember any Apostle countering and stating that they know the Hill Cumorah in New York is NOT the one mentioned in the Book of Mormon.  Everyone took it as authoritative statements of Apostles of God.  (Remember the recent vape article in the New Era and all of you defending that magazine as a sure place to find Church doctrine?)

Members in faith crisis also grew up being told the story when Oliver Cowdery seeing with his own two eyes a cave in that very same Hill Cumorah filled with the gold plates which were condensed from by Mormon. with an angel and a trunk.  And on that trunk lay. gold plates, Laban's sword, and Aaron's breastplate.  It wasn't presented as a vision.  It wasn't presented as a time-warp experience.  It was presented as an actual cave in the actual Hill Cumorah.  

Turns out, none of that can possibly be true and the Church no longer even supports any of that.  And there is the first point where loss of trust takes place.  What was told as true, now is not.

So FairMormon or some other group come up with an alternative explanation.  There is another Hill Cumorah somewhere else. Oliver Cowdery likely just had a vision.  If you had just lost your trust in Church leaders telling you the truth about something you were told was true all. your life, would speculation of what might have happened help all the sudden restore that trust?  Or would it confirm that in fact, you were indeed told something that could not possibly be true.  So now we are told to believe this new speculation over what was said by men claiming to be Apostles of God.  Because now, the trust that they are actually Apostles of God is looking a little doubtful and even FairMormon are throwing them under the bus.  Next thing we are going to hear is "they are just fallible men".  Sounds better than OOPs I guess.

I like the rope analogy that was brought up earlier in this thread.  I know a little about rope.  There are  literally yards and yards of the stuff rigging my sailboat. Each one of those lines I rely on to make things work.  I can tell you that when one snaps under strong winds, the consequences can be serious.  I have had it happen.  Each one of those ropes has an inter core.  It is the part that gives the rope all of its strength.  Then there is an outer sheathing that is woven around that inter core.  It protects and strengthens the inter core.  But if that inter core is severed or damaged, then there is nothing that outer sheathing can do to keep the cord from snapping. 

Do you get what is going on here?  Do you see how ridiculous it is to attack the messenger, question his motives, come up with alternative explanations for what was taught your entire life?  The inter core is severed.  No matter how much tape I put around that rope, no matter how that rope looks from the outside, if that core is rotten or severed or even weakened, nothing else really matters.  I can never trust that rope to raise my sails with it again.

Excellent post!  You sum things up nicely and get right to the bottom of what's going on here with the CES Letter and many of the members who read it.

I'm reading the thread about Tad Callister's presentation with interest.  He's being accused of many of the same things that Runnells has been here (stating things that are not true, leaving out important details, etc.).  So will he be accused of deliberately lying as Runnells has been?  Will his motives be questioned just as Runnell's have been?  Will he be accused of deceiving members intentionally? 

It appears that some of those who are most critical of Runnells are the ones who are over on that thread defending Tad Callister.  I just find that interesting to see.  I also of course understand why it's happening....

Edited by ALarson

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When I read the CES letter, I felt like it was Tanner's Lite for the Twitter generation.  Old news simplified, summarized, recycled.  Paul says, "If ye are prepared ye shall not fear."  I was prepared, not by the institutions, but my individual effort in seeking out of the best books.  It never even occurred to me to ask a local leader, or that conference talks should have everything.  I've had bishops who were doctors and custodians and boat salesmen.  I noticed, somehow, that they did not necessarily know the answers.  They were good men, but not scholars. They were trained in other fields, had other talents.  Faithful and good, but obviously, not the ones to ask.  But there were people who did know, and it was not hard to tell who had the best information.  Madsen began enlightenment, and Nibley opened a whole new world. 

My Interpreter responses dealt with specific questions, and included footnotes, and pointed to sources where people can get even more detailed responses.  FAIR has been astonishingly rigorous and detailed.  To overlook that is itself like a personal attack on FAIR.  We address literally everything, and offer solutions, and we do understand it is hard for some people.  The understanding is why we bother.  

School is hard.  Homework is hard.  Jobs are hard.  Exercise is hard.  Relationships are hard.  Parenting is hard.  Putting oil in our own lamps is hard.  Doing whatever it takes is hard.  Complaining and moaning and feeling self entitled, and victimized is easy.  Nowadays, it's even Presidential.  For all that we try to blaze trails, clear the weeds, plant the crops, and provide a bountiful harvest of answers, we cannot force people to search click, read, think, ponder. 

Life is a banquet, as Auntie Mame says, and most poor suckers are starving.   The feast is available.  But we can only invite people to come.  We cannot make them eat.  Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled.  What about those who just sit and complain that everything is not just handed to them?  What promise do they have?

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

 

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9 minutes ago, ALarson said:
Quote

So, how should I react if I discover that various LDS leaders made errors in assertions about the New York Cumorah, or what ever else bothers you?  Should I shatter like glass if I run across something that counters my traditions

Possibly not, but that's only one of the very many truths a member learns when they read the CES Letter. 

I encourage you to re-visit what Kevin is talking about, particularly the bits about Iago and Othello.

The issue really isn't about "truth" as much as the interpretation of it, and conclusions drawn from it.  Expectations and assumptions about it.

Did Iago tell Othello the unvarnished, untainted, 100% objective "truth?"

9 minutes ago, ALarson said:

If it was just that one thing, I believe most could get past it and possibly be open to the new speculations. 

What are your thoughts about Jeff Lindsay's writings on this topic ("Big Lists" and "If Only 10%...")?

9 minutes ago, ALarson said:

They could just chalk it up to our leaders being fallible men. 

On prophets and apostles are only allowed one mistake?  One error?

So 99% infallibility?  Is that the standard by which we judge prophets and apostles?  Is that what you are proposing?

9 minutes ago, ALarson said:

But the information just keeps coming and building

Is it, though?  Are we really talking about "information?"  Or is it the interpretation and evaluation of that information that is really at issue?

9 minutes ago, ALarson said:

until a member wonders if anything they'd learned from their leaders is the truth regarding church history, past doctrines, and so on.  They are left with no trust in their leaders.  

So . . . infallibility.  That's your thing.  Not 100% infallibility, but close enough for jazz.

Interesting.

9 minutes ago, ALarson said:

We are now seeing this happen over and over again. 

Cascade failures.  Yes.

Because Iago's modus operandi is effective.

9 minutes ago, ALarson said:

And yes, the CES Letter is still very commonly mentioned as their source for learning the volume of troubling issues.  But as shown here, most discussions devolve into personally attacking Runnells and his motives for asking the questions. 

Malarky.  There have been plenty of substantive critiques published about the CES Letter.  I have posted links to some of these.  Many times.

That does not mean, however, that Jeremy Runnells' Iago schtick can't or shouldn't be considered.

9 minutes ago, ALarson said:

Instead we should be focusing on the troubling issues,

We are.  We have been.  I've provided links to numerous substantive critiques of the Letter.  Several times over.  But for some very strange reason, people like you are pretending that the Letter has been ignored, that we aren't "focusing on the troubling issues."

This affected ignorance was rather frustrating when Jeremy Runnells did it in his Letter, and it's the same when you do it here.

9 minutes ago, ALarson said:

admitting there are problems

There's the confounded implicit notion of infallibility again.

9 minutes ago, ALarson said:

and understanding why members struggle when they learn about them and also learn how many issues there really are.

I think we are getting there.

Acting as if Jeremy Runnells has the Church's number isn't part of that process, though.

Thanks,

-Smac

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The Book of Mormon is the linchpin, and question 1 is important. One or two Cumorahs, insignificant in comparison.

When I wrote up some notes on CES Letter question 1 a few years ago, I began by taking the approach Scott Gordon did; I began by attempting to show that the number of KJV errors was inflated by Runnells. Gordon does have a good point about pleasant pictures not really being an error, and seraphims is simply the Early Modern English double plural, so it isn’t an error either, but I found from reading text-critical writings by biblical experts that there are plenty of translation errors in biblical quotations in the Book of Mormon, many more than the few valid ones listed in the supplemental material accompanying the CES Letter.

Yet does Runnells know enough about the details of biblical quotation in the Book of Mormon to be confident that any dismissive conclusions he might draw are valid? Probably not. Is he trained to analyze and think critically in this domain? I haven't heard that he is. Going further, do Latter-day Saint scholars know enough of the textual details in this domain to give their readers reliable information? Probably not.

So where are we? Drawing conclusions based on insufficient evidence and understanding. Inevitably, this leads to ends-oriented thinking. The conclusion we prefer is the one we reach.

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8 minutes ago, ALarson said:

Possibly not, but that's only one of the very many truths a member learns when they read the CES Letter.  If it was just that one thing, I believe most could get past it and possibly be open to the new speculations.  They could just chalk it up to our leaders being fallible men.  But the information just keeps coming and building until a member wonders if anything they'd learned from their leaders is the truth regarding church history, past doctrines, and so on.  They are left with no trust in their leaders.  

We are now seeing this happen over and over again.  And yes, the CES Letter is still very commonly mentioned as their source for learning the volume of troubling issues.  But as shown here, most discussions devolve into personally attacking Runnells and his motives for asking the questions.  Instead we should be focusing on the troubling issues, admitting there are problems and understanding why members struggle when they learn about and also learn how many issues there really are.

Exactly.  I will give you another example related to the whole DNA issue.

We were told time and time again that the indigenous population of North and South America were dependents of the Lamanites.  It starts with Joseph Smith through revelation from God (D&C 32) sending the first missionaries to convert the Lamanites.  Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson.  Over and over and over the church makes this direct relationship between the Lamanies and indians.  Here are a few statements by Spencer W. Kimball given during their lifetime.

 

Quote

 

“The Lamanite people are increasing in numbers and influence. When the Navajos returned from Fort Sumner after a shameful and devastating captivity, there were only 9,000 of them left; now there are more than 100,000. There are nearly 130 million Lamanites worldwide. Their superstitions are giving way. They are becoming active politically and responsible in their communities wherever they dwell. Their employment and standard of living are increasing.

“The Church has been established among them to a degree, and it will continue to be established on an ever-increasing scale. There are now more than 350,000 Lamanite members of the Church. They attend their meetings faithfully. They have the priesthood among them. There are branch presidents, quorum leaders, bishops, stake presidents, high councilors, mission presidents, and leaders in all phases of the work among them. They are attending the temple and receiving the ordinances necessary for exaltation. They are intelligent and faithful; they are a great people and a blessed people. …

“And can we not exercise our faith to expand this work even further? Enos prayed a prayer of mighty faith and secured a promise from the Lord that the Lamanite would be preserved. How glorious it would be if a million Latter-day Saint families were on their knees daily asking in faith that the work among these their brethren would be hastened, that the doors might be opened.

“The Lamanites must rise again in dignity and strength to fully join their brethren and sisters of the household of God in carrying forth his work in preparation for that day when the Lord Jesus Christ will return to lead his people, when the millennium will be ushered in, when the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory and its lands be united and become one land. For the prophets have said, ‘The remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away.’ (Eth. 13:8.)

“In this I have great faith.” (“Our Paths Have Met Again,” Ensign,Dec. 1975, pp. 5, 7.)


 

I could fill up literally pages of references that the native population were in fact descendants of Lamanites..  And every member having a faith crisis could easily do the same.  Then the DNA evidence comes out.  No Hebrew DNA.  All the sudden, all this reference to the total indian population is thrown under the bus.  The Book of Mormon people were a small part of the total population.  Of course their DNA won't show up.  Look at the Vikings (as used at the beginning of this thread)

BUT, that is not the story we have been told all of our lives.  No one ever said the Book of Mormon people were this small insignificant group that would barely show up on a blip in the DNA code.  

Once again, what the leaders of the Church said proves to be untrustworthy.  AND, the answer confirms what they said was untrustworthy by offering a whole new speculation based argument.  

There are enough of these breakdowns in fundamental questions that where Joseph Smith got names from is really not important at all.  There are way bigger fish to fry.

I could document this in great detail.  But I don't think I have to.  We all grew up drumming Book of Mormon Stories in the style of the American Indians.  We all grew  up with the Laminate exchange program.

Want talk about how we got The Book of Abraham? when the original scrolls were found in Chicago?  

The trust in Church leaders is the crisis, not better expirations of Church history.

 

 

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1 minute ago, Kevin Christensen said:

When I read the CES letter, I felt like it was Tanner's Lite for the Twitter generation.  Old news simplified, summarized, recycled.

Yes, I learned nothing new from reading through most of it (I don't believe I actually finished it because of that...).

But there are a great many members who have not studied or researched details from church history and have simply believed what they have been commonly taught over the years by the leaders and in the weekly lessons and talks.  And, those are the members who are shaken when they read the CES Letter.  We can blame them....call them lazy....or say they should have already known all of that info just like we did.....but it doesn't change the fact that they did not know and just learned about them from the letter.

4 minutes ago, Kevin Christensen said:

My Interpreter responses dealt with specific questions, and included footnotes, and pointed to sources where people can get even more detailed responses.  FAIR has been astonishingly rigorous and detailed.  To overlook that is itself like a personal attack on FAIR.  We address literally everything, and offer solutions, and we do understand it is hard for some people.  The understanding is why we bother.  

I get that and appreciate your efforts.  I actually think there has been some good work done in response to the letter.  I'll be honest though and say that so far, none of them can really counter the damage done from a member reading it.  Some can pull through and stay active and continue believing....but that seems to be rarer and rarer to see from my experience with ward and family members.  And that's the real problem here (not what Runnell's motives were, etc.)

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54 minutes ago, Kevin Christensen said:

When Othello has his faith crisis, he's not just facing the hard cruel facts, and objectively following them to their inevitable, irrefutable conclusion.  He's buying into a narrative frame in which to interpret those facts.  He's not particularly self reflective, but rather, more concerned about his personal pride than his personal relationships, more concerned with emotion and self justification than faith, hope, and charity. 

One inescapable obvious fact that ought to be accounted for, and that happens to be the foundation of my own response to Runnells, is that the same facts can easily be accounted for by a different narrative.  Jesus talks about new wine and new bottles.  Kuhn talks about paradigms.

So, how should I react if I discover that various LDS leaders made errors in assertions about the New York Cumorah, or what ever else bothers you?  Should I shatter like glass if I run across something that counters my traditions?  (That happens to be Joseph Smith's apt metaphor in discussing an LDS weakness in dealing with information that counters their traditions.)  Or should I first examine my own eye for beams, and consider not what I did expect, but rather always be willing to ask "What I should expect?"
 

If I come across Othello strangling Desdemona, should I sympathize with him, and say, "I feel your pain.  Why shouldn't you feel betrayed and angry?  You are completely justified in your actions.  No one should criticize you because that is adding insult to injury."

I happen to think Desdemona is innocent.  I think Othello is making a huge mistake.  I think the same information that he believes is faith shattering can be accounted for in another, more reasonable, enlightening, and plausible way.  I think that it is important to point that out, and that any embarrassment he might feel about his misplaced interpretations and expectations is far less important than the prospect of his later having to face the damage he has done to an innocent and to his own soul.

And might it not be a good idea to talk about how new knowledge and different perspectives might actually expand our minds and enlarge our souls?  Shouldn't I give the new wine and new bottles a chance?  When I become a man, should I not put away childish things, including a view of authority that LDS scriptures explicitly deny?

It's important to deal with changing information.  It's not just a Mormon thing.

https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/image-is-everything-pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain/

It's also a human development thing, which is why I keep citing the Perry Scheme for Cognitive and Ethical Growth. It's also a recovery thing, which is why I mention "dismantling the grievance story."

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Othello was not relying on those claiming to speak for God.  The analogy doesn't work for someone having a faith crisis over loosing trust in Church leaders.

Edited by california boy

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1 minute ago, california boy said:

Othello was not claiming to speak for God.  

Methinks Othello is not the leadership of the Church in Kevin's analogy. 

Othello is the John Q. Churchmember who is listening to Iago (Runnells) slander Desdemona (the Restored Gospel / the Church).

Kevin, am I correct in this?

1 minute ago, california boy said:

The analogy doesn't work for someone having a faith crisis over loosing trust in Church leaders.

Unless, of course, you are materially misunderstanding the analogy.

Thanks,

-Smac

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7 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Is it, though?  Are we really talking about "information?"  Or is it the interpretation and evaluation of that information that is really at issue?

I believe we are talking about both.  Julie gave a great example (from this presentation) early on in this thread.  It's exactly what takes place when a member reads the letter for the first time (or learns the information elsewhere).  And then, it continues to play out over and over again as they learn about more and more issues.

And yes, the interpretations and evaluations are very important and can add to the damage.  But it's hard to combat those when a fact was presented first and the members learn it's the truth.  I fully agree that we can disagree with Runnell's conclusions.  However, that doesn't change what's taking place with the members who are reading the letter.

12 minutes ago, smac97 said:

So . . . infallibility.  That's your thing.  Not 100% infallibility, but close enough for jazz.

Not at all and I've not stated that.  I was simply giving what my experience has been from working with members on this.

13 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I think we are getting there.

I think there's progress being made....I agree.

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9 minutes ago, california boy said:

Exactly.  I will give you another example related to the whole DNA issue.

We were told time and time again that the indigenous population of North and South America were dependents of the Lamanites.  It starts with Joseph Smith through revelation from God (D&C 32) sending the first missionaries to convert the Lamanites.  Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson.  Over and over and over the church makes this direct relationship between the Lamanies and indians.  Here are a few statements by Spencer W. Kimball given during their lifetime.

 

I could fill up literally pages of references that the native population were in fact descendants of Lamanites..  And every member having a faith crisis could easily do the same.  Then the DNA evidence comes out.  No Hebrew DNA.  All the sudden, all this reference to the total indian population is thrown under the bus.  The Book of Mormon people were a small part of the total population.  Of course their DNA won't show up.  Look at the Vikings (as used at the beginning of this thread)

BUT, that is not the story we have been told all of our lives.  No one ever said the Book of Mormon people were this small insignificant group that would barely show up on a blip in the DNA code.  

Once again, what the leaders of the Church said proves to be untrustworthy.  AND, the answer confirms what they said was untrustworthy by offering a whole new speculation based argument.  

There are enough of these breakdowns in fundamental questions that where Joseph Smith got names from is really not important at all.  There are way bigger fish to fry.

I could document this in great detail.  But I don't think I have to.  We all grew up drumming Book of Mormon Stories in the style of the American Indians.  We all grew  up with the Laminate exchange program.

Want talk about how we got The Book of Abraham? when the original scrolls were found in Chicago?  

The trust in Church leaders is the crisis, not better expirations of Church history.

 

 

What are your thoughts on what Elder Oaks said, 

"For me, this obvious insight goes back over forty years to the first class I took on the Book of Mormon at Brigham Young University. The class was titled, somewhat boldly, the “Archaeology of the Book of Mormon.” In retrospect, I think it should have been labelled something like “An Anthropologist Looks at a Few Subjects of Interest to Readers of the Book of Mormon.” Here I was introduced to the idea that the Book of Mormon is not a history of all of the people who have lived on the continents of North and South America in all ages of the earth. Up to that time I had assumed that it was. If that were the claim of the Book of Mormon, any piece of historical, archaeological, or linguistic evidence to the contrary would weigh in against the Book of Mormon, and those who rely exclusively on scholarship would have a promising position to argue.

In contrast, if the Book of Mormon only purports to be an account of a few peoples who inhabited a portion of the Americas during a few millennia in the past, the burden of argument changes drastically. It is no longer a question of all versus none; it is a question of some versus none. In other words, in the circumstance I describe, the opponents of historicity must prove that the Book of Mormon has no historical validity for any peoples who lived in the Americas in a particular time frame, a notoriously difficult exercise. One does not prevail on that proposition by proving that a particular Eskimo culture represents migrations from Asia. The opponents of the historicity of the Book of Mormon must prove that the people whose religious life it records did not live anywhere in the Americas."

This was orginally given in 1993

https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/historicity-and-latter-day-saint-scriptures/11-historicity-book-mormon

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5 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Methinks Othello is not the leadership of the Church in Kevin's analogy. 

Othello is the John Q. Churchmember who is listening to Iago (Runnells) slander Desdemona (the Restored Gospel / the Church).

Kevin, am I correct in this?

Unless, of course, you are materially misunderstanding the analogy.

Thanks,

-Smac

Actually I corrected what I wrote moments ago.  Othello was not relying on those claiming to speak for God.  At issue here is the narrative put together by the leadership of the Church that ended up to be a false narrative.

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7 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Methinks Othello is not the leadership of the Church in Kevin's analogy. 

Othello is the John Q. Churchmember who is listening to Iago (Runnells) slander Desdemona (the Restored Gospel / the Church).

Kevin, am I correct in this?

Unless, of course, you are materially misunderstanding the analogy.

Thanks,

-Smac

Yes.  You are correct.  California Boy has not yet grasped the metaphor.  Perhaps he will, and perhaps not.

Best,

Kevin C.

 

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18 minutes ago, Duncan said:

What are your thoughts on what Elder Oaks said, 

"For me, this obvious insight goes back over forty years to the first class I took on the Book of Mormon at Brigham Young University. The class was titled, somewhat boldly, the “Archaeology of the Book of Mormon.” In retrospect, I think it should have been labelled something like “An Anthropologist Looks at a Few Subjects of Interest to Readers of the Book of Mormon.” Here I was introduced to the idea that the Book of Mormon is not a history of all of the people who have lived on the continents of North and South America in all ages of the earth. Up to that time I had assumed that it was. If that were the claim of the Book of Mormon, any piece of historical, archaeological, or linguistic evidence to the contrary would weigh in against the Book of Mormon, and those who rely exclusively on scholarship would have a promising position to argue.

In contrast, if the Book of Mormon only purports to be an account of a few peoples who inhabited a portion of the Americas during a few millennia in the past, the burden of argument changes drastically. It is no longer a question of all versus none; it is a question of some versus none. In other words, in the circumstance I describe, the opponents of historicity must prove that the Book of Mormon has no historical validity for any peoples who lived in the Americas in a particular time frame, a notoriously difficult exercise. One does not prevail on that proposition by proving that a particular Eskimo culture represents migrations from Asia. The opponents of the historicity of the Book of Mormon must prove that the people whose religious life it records did not live anywhere in the Americas."

This was orginally given in 1993

https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/historicity-and-latter-day-saint-scriptures/11-historicity-book-mormon

I think he is throwing 150 years of the narrative the Church gave to speculate that the narrative taught all of those years was wrong.  So basically you have to loose trust in 150 years worth of leadership to accept this new narrative.  Would that inspire to to believe Church leaders are teaching what is actually the truth?  Or would it confirm that they were not teaching the truth?  

It means that even Joseph Smith got it wrong, even through claims of revelation from God.  Even God got it wrong.

I might add DNA issues started coming out before 1992.  What does that tell you about motivation for this talk?

Edited by california boy

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Just now, ALarson said:

I believe we are talking about both. 

Okay.  But in terms of faith crises, interpretation of and expectations about and implicit assumptions  about "information" seem to predominate.  By a wide margin.

Consider the location of Cumorah, for example.  Are people seriously losing their testimony over that?  I hardly think so.  But then comes Iago, whispering about what it means.  The "information" recedes into the background, and interpretation and implicit assumptions take over.

Just now, ALarson said:

Julie gave a great example (from this presentation) early on in this thread.  It's exactly what takes place when a member reads the letter for the first time (or learns the information elsewhere).  And then, it continues to play out over and over again as they learn about more and more issues.

With Iago whispering all along the way...

Just now, ALarson said:

And yes, the interpretations and evaluations are very important and can add to the damage. 

I think "the interpretations and evaluations" are front and center.

Past misunderstandings and errors and assumptions about the location of Cumorah should have precious little impact on the reality of the atonement of Jesus Christ, the Plan of Salvation, the theophanies of Joseph Smith, restored priesthood authority, and so on.  

Just now, ALarson said:

But it's hard to combat those when a fact was presented first and the members learn it's the truth. 

Again, I think this is much more about interpretations and implicit assumptions.

Just now, ALarson said:

I fully agree that we can disagree with Runnell's conclusions.  However, that doesn't change what's taking place with the members who are reading the letter.

But it does help clarify how we should proceed.  Badmouthing and/or ignoring the extensive efforts to address the Letter doesn't really help improve the situation.

I am curious what you think should be done re: the Letter than hasn't been done.  Capitulation on the Law of Chastity and Same-Sex Marriage?

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 hours ago, california boy said:

Actually I corrected what I wrote moments ago.  

But I don't think you have corrected your understanding of Kevin's analogy.  You are still materially misconstruing it.

Quote

Othello was not relying on those claiming to speak for God.  

No, he was relying on Iago.  Hence the metaphor.

Quote

At issue here is the narrative put together by the leadership of the Church that ended up to be a false narrative.

Nope.  At issue here is the narrative put together by Jeremy Runnells, which is itself a "false narrative" (again, see the Othello analogy above).

Again, I had no idea you were such a rigid fundamentalist, CB.  It's genuinely surprising to me.

And you are really proving my point about "Tacit Notions/Expectations of Prophetic Infallibility: A Key Ingredient in Faith Crises?"  

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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21 minutes ago, california boy said:

Exactly.  I will give you another example related to the whole DNA issue.

We were told time and time again that the indigenous population of North and South America were dependents of the Lamanites.  It starts with Joseph Smith through revelation from God (D&C 32) sending the first missionaries to convert the Lamanites.  Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson.  Over and over and over the church makes this direct relationship between the Lamanies and indians.  Here are a few statements by Spencer W. Kimball given during their lifetime.

 

I could fill up literally pages of references that the native population were in fact descendants of Lamanites..  And every member having a faith crisis could easily do the same.  Then the DNA evidence comes out.  No Hebrew DNA.  All the sudden, all this reference to the total indian population is thrown under the bus.  The Book of Mormon people were a small part of the total population.  Of course their DNA won't show up.  Look at the Vikings (as used at the beginning of this thread)

BUT, that is not the story we have been told all of our lives.  No one ever said the Book of Mormon people were this small insignificant group that would barely show up on a blip in the DNA code.  

Once again, what the leaders of the Church said proves to be untrustworthy.  AND, the answer confirms what they said was untrustworthy by offering a whole new speculation based argument.  

There are enough of these breakdowns in fundamental questions that where Joseph Smith got names from is really not important at all.  There are way bigger fish to fry.

I could document this in great detail.  But I don't think I have to.  We all grew up drumming Book of Mormon Stories in the style of the American Indians.  We all grew  up with the Laminate exchange program.

Want talk about how we got The Book of Abraham? when the original scrolls were found in Chicago?  

The trust in Church leaders is the crisis, not better expirations of Church history.

 

 

Of course, there was Jacob 1:14, where a first generation record keeper explains that Lamanites from that time on will be a political designation, rather than lineage, a label applied to those who "seek to destroy the people of Nephi" and that Nephite from that time forth refers to friendlies.

So much trouble could have been avoided by reading carefully what we had, checking our own eye for beams, rather than hasty conclusion jumping.  There is a lesson there, for those whose choose to learn, and for those who want self justification, leverage and a place to stand.

New Wine and New bottles and enjoyment, or new wine in old bottles, moaning about the bottles bursting and spilling.  Should I take a lesson from Jesus, or not?  Should I consider D&C 1 on "mine authority, and the authority of my servants" that "inasmuch as they erred it shall be made manifest," or not?

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

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34 minutes ago, california boy said:

I think he is throwing 150 years of the narrative the Church gave to speculate that the narrative taught all of those years was wrong.  So basically you have to loose trust in 150 years worth of leadership to accept this new narrative.  Would that inspire to to believe Church leaders are teaching what is actually the truth?  Or would it confirm that they were not teaching the truth?  

And elsewhere, either the Bible is 100% the literal and inerrant word of God, or else it is 100% false and spurious.  It's either/or.  There is no middle ground.

I had no idea you were such a rigid fundamentalist, CB.  

Quote

It means that even Joseph Smith got it wrong.

Yes, any number of times.  He was not infallible.  He freely admitted as much, with a key caveat:

Quote

I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught. Must I, then, be thrown away as a thing of naught?

Although I do wrong, I do not the wrongs that I am charged with doing: the wrong that I do is through the frailty of human nature, like other men. No man lives without fault. Do you think that even Jesus, if He were here, would be without fault in your eyes? His enemies said all manner of evil against Him —they all watched for iniquity in Him.

So it's not really about Joseph Smith, but rather about implicit expectations of infallibility which some have imputed onto him.  And then, when that expectation bumps up against Joseph's imperfections, the result is . . . 

Thanks,

-Smac

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29 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Okay.  But in terms of faith crises, interpretation of and expectations about and implicit assumptions  about "information" seem to predominate.  By a wide margin.

Consider the location of Cumorah, for example.  Are people seriously losing their testimony over that

Not that I'm aware of (just that single discovery).  But add all the other information that is new to many members when they read the letter and it can really shake members and cause them to start questioning everything the leaders have taught over the years.  It's a loss of trust in their leaders (as has been posted now numerous times).

31 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I think "the interpretations and evaluations" are front and center.

I disagree.  I think the new information (the truths) hit members right in the face and then they read the conclusions or interpretations which only add to the damage already done.  Then they go searching for answers from church leaders (much of the time) and find answers like: Well....now there's speculation there are more than one Hill Cumorah!  Or....Well, now we really don't know....

 

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39 minutes ago, Kevin Christensen said:

Of course, there was Jacob 1:14, where a first generation record keeper explains that Lamanites from that time on will be a political designation, rather than lineage, a label applied to those who "seek to destroy the people of Nephi" and that Nephite from that time forth refers to friendlies.

So much trouble could have been avoided by reading carefully what we had, checking our own eye for beams, rather than hasty conclusion jumping.  There is a lesson there, for those whose choose to learn, and for those who want self justification, leverage and a place to stand.

New Wine and New bottles and enjoyment, or new wine in old bottles, moaning about the bottles bursting and spilling.  Should I take a lesson from Jesus, or not?  Should I consider D&C 1 on "mine authority, and the authority of my servants" that "inasmuch as they erred it shall be made manifest," or not?

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, P

I am just trying to explain what I see is the reason for the faith crisis for so many.  When the Church has to throw out what has been the narrative for 150 years, it is also throwing out the credibility of all those Church leaders.  Coming up with a new narrative does not take away the distrust that has been created.  

What I am not seeing, and what you may be suggesting is the Church coming out and saying, sorry, we were wrong about XYZ. Things were not as we assumed them to be.  But you know the Church as well as I do.  I don't think that will ever happen.  At least not officially.  For me it seems like a better solution than pretending there was never a narrative that indians decended from Lamanites.

Whether their faith crisis is justified or not is probably up to each person going through it to decide.  And in the end, each and every member  has to decide how important the integrity of past leaders is to their beliefs of the claims of the Church.  The Church can not go back and rewrite its history, no matter how hard it tries.  What is not helpful, IMO is pointing to one or two articles amongst all the thousands of others and pretending THAT was the real narrative.  You just didn't bother to look for it. So your faith crisis is your own fault.

 

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40 minutes ago, ALarson said:

Not that I'm aware of (just that single discovery).  But add all the other information

There's that word again.

Iago was just providing Othello with "information," then?  Nothing more?

Quote

that is new to many members when they read the letter and it can really shake members and cause them to start questioning everything the leaders have taught over the years. 

Okay.  But why?

Quote

It's a loss of trust in their leaders (as has been posted now numerous times).

Is that loss of trust reasonable?  Reasoned?  Informed?

Was Othello's strangling of Desdemona the right way to go?

Did Iago bear any responsibility for Desdemona's death?

Quote
Quote

I think "the interpretations and evaluations" are front and center.

I disagree.  I think the new information (the truths)

Again, was Iago was just providing Othello with "information" and "truth"?  Nothing more?

Quote

hit members right in the face and then they read the conclusions or interpretations which only add to the damage already done. 

I can't help but wonder why you are trying so hard to characterize Jeremy Runnells as a simple purveyor of objective, unbiased, unfiltered "information" and "truth." 

SNIP.  I'll keep my musings on this to myself.

Quote

Then they go searching for answers from church leaders (much of the time) and find answers like: Well....now there's speculation there are more than one Hill Cumorah!  Or....Well, now we really don't know....

Again, Kevin makes some salient points here:

Quote

When I read the CES letter, I felt like it was Tanner's Lite for the Twitter generation.  Old news simplified, summarized, recycled.  Paul says, "If ye are prepared ye shall not fear."  I was prepared, not by the institutions, but my individual effort in seeking out of the best books.  It never even occurred to me to ask a local leader, or that conference talks should have everything.  I've had bishops who were doctors and custodians and boat salesmen.  I noticed, somehow, that they did not necessarily know the answers.  They were good men, but not scholars. They were trained in other fields, had other talents.  Faithful and good, but obviously, not the ones to ask.  But there were people who did know, and it was not hard to tell who had the best information.  Madsen began enlightenment, and Nibley opened a whole new world. 

Talking to a bishop can certainly help.  Listening to prophetic counsel, too.  These are steps in the right direction.  But if the individual thinks that's the end of it, that he is absolved from any further obligation to study things out for himself, to seek knowledge from "the best books" and personal study and revelation and so on, if he thinks that it is the bishop's responsibility, and not his, to seek further light and knowledge, then the individual is in error.

Thanks,

-Smac

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

There's that word again.

I don't know what you're referring to here?

20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Okay.  But why?

Why is there a loss of trust?  I think that's been explained numerous times already.  It's not difficult to understand why that is happening with some members, IMO.

20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Is that loss of trust reasonable?  Reasoned?  Informed?

For many, yes.  But I'm not sure it really matters once the damage is done and the trust has been lost.  I'd focus more on how to restore or rebuild the trust and help those who have lost trust remain active in the church if that is possible.

 

20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

can't help but wonder why you are trying so hard to characterize Jeremy Runnells as a simple purveyor of objective, unbiased, unfiltered "information" and "truth." 

Oh, I don't think anything is "simple" regarding this topic.  And I've posted numerous times that I personally disagree with much of what Runnells has done....I'm not a big fan of his.  I just believe it's not real productive to focus on personally attacking him or his motives and methods instead of focusing on the real problem we as leaders are now dealing with.....the loss of trust we see and then us trying to help those who read the letter and are left shaken or wanting to leave the church.  And yes, the letter does contain "information and "truth", along with conclusions that are damaging.  Is it 100% accurate?  Of course not.  But neither is the information coming from our leaders (read on the thread regarding Tad Callister for example).  It happens from both sides and is understandable.  Hopefully a member will take the time to sort through and research and come to their own conclusions.  Some do, but many don't and are leaving.  And, that's the problem here....not if their loss of trust is reasonable or informed, IMO.  It's still a loss of trust.

Edited by ALarson

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On 8/21/2019 at 11:54 AM, california boy said:

I am just trying to explain what I see is the reason for the faith crisis for so many.  When the Church has to throw out what has been the narrative for 150 years, it is also throwing out the credibility of all those Church leaders.  Coming up with a new narrative does not take away the distrust that has been created.  

What I am not seeing, and what you may be suggesting is the Church coming out and saying, sorry, we were wrong about XYZ. Things were not as we assumed them to be.  But you know the Church as well as I do.  I don't think that will ever happen.  At least not officially.  For me it seems like a better solution than pretending there was never a narrative that indians decended from Lamanites.

Whether their faith crisis is justified or not is probably up to each person going through it to decide.  And in the end, each and every member  has to decide how important the integrity of past leaders is to their beliefs of the claims of the Church.  The Church can not go back and rewrite its history, no matter how hard it tries.  What is not helpful, IMO is pointing to one or two articles amongst all the thousands of others and pretending THAT was the real narrative.  You just didn't bother to look for it. So your faith crisis is your own fault.

 

I clearly see the reasons for faith crisis for so many.  I have been exploring the experience and narratives for 45 years.  But rather than step aside and let the destructive process play out without comment or effort, or just deciding that what Othello needs most is sympathy and understanding rather than to challenge his views,  I am offering exactly what Jesus calls New wine and New bottles.  A different approach to the same kinds of experience that can be mind expanding and soul enlarging rather than shattering.  

Patrick Carnes draws on Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces to observe that "Heroes face their fears; villains nurture their resentments."  That is the difference between Harry Potter and Voldemort, between Thor and Loki, between Luke and Darth Vader.  Othello is not being heroic when he strangles his innocent wife.  Rather, he has embraced his resentments, and given in to his fear of looking bad in public.  That is the difference between the George Bailey whose personal frustrations make his life a living hell and and the George Bailey whose appreciation of the significance of his personal relationships allows him to let go his resentments and embrace "A Wonderful Life," saying, "Isn't it wonderful?  I'm going to jail."  A George Bailey who focused on just how personally frustrated he was, how much disappointment he had to endure, how much he had to sacrifice, how much bad advice he was given, how much pain the people who claim to love him inflict on him, then, would quite understandably have a miserable life.  But he has options, a different path, different wine offered, if he will put it in the new wine bottle.  The choice can be his.  A wonderful life, or, he can choose to be a victim, and wallow in his very understandable pain.

For instance, rather than resent changes in church history, I consider what happens to all histories.  In Playing to an Audience, I quote Kuhn at greater length than this:

Quote

For reasons that are both obvious and highly functional, science textbooks (and too many of the older histories of science) refer only to that part of the work of past scientists that can easily be viewed as contributions to the statement and solution of the texts’ paradigm problems. Partly by selection and partly by distortion, the scientists of earlier ages are implicitly represented as having worked upon the same set of fixed problems and in accordance with the same set of fixed canons that the most recent revolution in scientific theory and method has made seem scientific. No wonder that textbooks and the historical tradition they imply have to be rewritten after each scientific revolution. And no wonder that, as they are rewritten, science once again comes to seem as largely cumulative.

I've never seen anyone make the same complaints about changes to scientific histories, deciding, "How can I trust science anymore!"   My understanding of everything changes when I take a closer look.  Not just LDS history, but everything.  What happens to LDS histories in a natural process, part of the growth of knowledge in every field.  Should I resent that, or accept it?  Should I shatter, or expand?

https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/playing-to-an-audience-a-review-of-revelatory-events/

I very much like what J. K. Rowling illuminates with Harry's journey.  She has established all sorts of reasons for Harry to admire and idolize his father and Dumbledore.  He comes to hate Sirius Black, but learns better.   He has countless reasons, abundant reasons, ample justification to resent Snape and Malfoy.  But there is the Pensive and Rita Skeeter's books, and King's Cross. So what happens when he obtains a bit of pure knowledge?  Does that permanently shatter Harry's faith in his family and leaders?  Or does he learn to make allowances for human weakness in his father, Dumbledore, and Sirius?  Is that a mistake on his part, or human growth, the choice of a hero or a villain?   Harry chooses to let his soul expand, at first understandably troubled by things he learns about those he admired, but he adjusts his expectations for their humanity, allowing their imperfection to exist along with their virtues.  And of course, the Pensive also provides pure knowledge of Snape and eventually, Harry has to realize that all of the justifiable and abundant reasons he had to hate him, to even want to kill him for what seems the most insistently plain, eye-witness, irrefutable facts, were not the most important things to know, that the same facts that had seemed so damning when he first encountered them could have a completely different significance given further light and knowledge.  Pure knowledge, D&C 121 says, enlarges the soul.  Harry even gets pure knowledge of Malfoy.  And even Voldemort, and he pities him, rather than hates him.  Voldemort holds on to fear of death and personal resentments to the end.  Harry faces his fears, including death, and lets go all of his resentments.  One a villain, one a hero.  If pure knowledge enlarges the soul, what of impure knowledge?  That is all fiction, but like the best fictions, like Othello, it points to reality, and therefore, is not just fiction.

If, as a child, I ran out into the street to follow a ball, I might not be thinking carefully of all potential consequences.  I was taught, I learned, I grew.  I sometimes made mistakes of various kinds, and had to learn from negative experiences.  Whether I knew better or not, the same principles apply, cause and effect.  I once turned my bike too sharply on gravel, and broke a leg.  Well, it hurt and took time to heal.  Should I blame someone else?  It was my fault, my mistake.  What good would resentment and scapegoating do?

A scripture I was taught when a youth was, "There is a law irrevocably decreed before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated.  And when we obtain any blessing from God it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated."  This is true whether I act in ignorance or awareness.  Jesus encourages me to remove the beam from my own eye first.  Self criticism, self reflection, self examination.  "Then shall ye see clearly."

I see clearly a way to navigate the same information and circumstances that cause other people crisis.  At the very least, I want them to know they have a choice.  I can do no more than that.

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

 

Edited by Kevin Christensen
typo
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