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smac97

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    My name is Spencer Macdonald

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  1. Wait, not identifying as a Native American anymore is a good thing? Last year Idris Elba made the news when he stopped describing himself as a "black actor": How much each person takes on an "identity" is a person-by-person thing. I can't say that I've ever had much in the way of a "racial identity." That said, I am glad that skin color is not the basis for my sense of community, both as to my extended family, my neighborhood and local community, the global Church, and the United States. I think Danzo had this in mind: "I wish people would not automatically assume 'native Traditions' and 'native culture' is somehow something that is good and not identifying as 'Native American' is bad. 'Native Culture' isn't always a good thing." The same can be said for pretty much every culture. We ought to be at liberty to take the good parts and set aside the bad. Thanks, -Smac
  2. FAIR has a good article on this. An excerpt: Barney recommends the following resources in order to get a balanced treatment of the ISPS: Bruce A. Chadwick, Stan L. Albrecht and Howard M. Bahr, “Evaluation of an Indian Student Placement Program,” Social Casework 67, no. 9 (1986): 515–24. Bruce A. Chadwick and Stan L. Albrecht, “Mormons and Indians: Beliefs, Policies, Programs and Practices,” in Contemporary Mormonism: Social Science Perspectives, ed. Tim B. Heaton and Lawrence A. Young (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 287–309. Tona J. Hangen, “A Place to Call Home: Studying the Indian Placement Program,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 30, no. 1 (Spring 1997): 53–69. James B. Allen, “The Rise and Decline of the LDS Indian Student Placement Program, 1947-1996,” Mormons, Scripture, and the Ancient World: Studies in Honor of John L. Sorenson, ed. Davis Bitton (Provo: FARMS, 1998), 85–119. "The shrillness of this statement is irresponsible and reflects a lack of scholarly balance and detachment." Thanks, -Smac
  3. I think sometimes a facile and unlearned approach to the text, particularly when accompanied by sociocultural presuppositions (regarding things like race) can and ought to be augmented by real study and examination. I think it's more reasonable than the presentist notions that impair your approach. Thanks, -Smac
  4. Apostles are “special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world” (D&C 107:23). Joseph Smith said: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” Collectively, the Brethren have never let us down in regard to their being "special witnesses" and speaking of the foregoing "fundamental principles." Here and there, the Brethren have erred as to "appendages," including about some important - and yet still derivative and secondary - issues. I just don't have it in me to judge and condemn 19th-century men, and 20th-century men, for their failings and moral blindspots. Not when I have so many of my own. So it's Mormon 9:31 on that. Outside of it, my assessment of the Brethren is that they are overwhelmingly good and decent and wise people, and good leaders. They are, in most respects, very trustworthy, and particularly as to their "special witnesses" responsibilities. Thanks, -Smac
  5. Boy, what an overused rhetorical maneuver this is. These days it's borderline cliché. There is nothing about the Law of Chastity that demonstrated fear or hatred of people with same-sex attraction. Not even you can say this with a straight face, let alone those of us who believe that the Brethren really are prophets and apostles. The "Law of Chastity" is, like many doctrines, a matter of construction. Again, we are not limited to scriptural authority. Living prophets and apostles are, in my view, one of the greatest features of the Restored Gospel. If any of them were giving indications of a sea change in the Law of Chastity, I'm sure you would be shouting it from the rooftops. As it happens, they have not done this, nor have they given any indication that they will in the future. Nothing like. Thanks, -Smac
  6. The Indian School in Brigham City isn't related to the Indian Placement Program (IPP). That school (officially called "Intermountain Indian School") was a government run school that started in 1950. The IPP didn't start until 1954. Those in the Indian Placement Program wouldn't have gone to that school. The Intermountain Indian School was a boarding school while the IPP was a foster home program. While the IPP was administered by the Church, the Intermountain Indian School was a secular program. Thanks, -Smac
  7. I don't see a connection between the "Lamanites skin was turned dark and that it would become white" thing and the IPP. Could you elaborate? I am also not sure the IPP can be aptly described as a "debacle." See here: Hmm. Again, hmm. Unfortunately, there were some tragic unintended consequences: By ordering the LDS Church to first exhaust its legal remedies in tribal court, Shelby said that the Navajo Nation judicial system would then be able to assess the facts of the case and whether jurisdiction was on the table. Further, it would allow the Navajo courts time to analyze the complex legal and factual issues at hand—thus advancing Congress's explicit policy in promoting tribal self-governance and the development of tribal court jurisprudence.[4] This ruling is considered a major victory for tribal jurisprudence.[4] Thanks, -Smac
  8. In a legal context, there is a concept called "legislative intent," which came to mind as I reviewed this threat. It is described here: This is an important component of "statutory construction," that is, how the courts are supposed to interpret a statute when they are applying it in a legal dispute. The "default" approach is to first ascertain whether the statutory language is "clear and unambiguous." If it is, then the Court does not "look beyond" the statutory text, and instead just applies it in its "clear and unambiguous" form. However, if and when a statute is found to be "ambiguous or does not appear to directly, adequately address a particular issue, or appears to have been a legislative drafting error," then the court moves past the default "just apply the statute as written" approach See also this Utah case, which sums it up well: See also here: Lexington Ins. Co. v. Precision Drilling Co. , 830 F.3d 1219, 1223 (10th Cir. 2016) (Gorsuch, J., writing for himself alone in this portion of the opinion) (citing ANTONIN SCALIA & BRYAN A. GARNER, READING LAW 235 (2012)). ¶ 48 But a more substantive use of the doctrine, though legitimate, nevertheless exists in tension with both the doctrine of separation of powers and the textualist approach to statutory interpretation. See, e.g. , Manning, supra ¶46 at 2391 ("The Constitution's sharp separation of lawmaking from judging reflects a rule-of-law tradition that seeks to preclude legislatures from making ad hoc exceptions to generally worded laws. By asking judges to carve out statutory exceptions on the ground that the legislature would have done so, the absurdity doctrine calls on judges to approximate the very behavior that the norm of separation seeks to forbid."); id. at 2392 ("Thus, for those who accept ... the textualists' premises about the legislative process and the constitutional structure, a principled understanding of textualism would necessarily entail abandoning the absurdity doctrine."). For example, one federal judge has argued that deploying the absurdity doctrine to overrule plain statutory text would "risk offending the separation of powers by purporting to endow a court with the power to disregard a possible statutory application not because of its linguistic implausibility but because of a judgment about the implausibility of its consequences as a matter of social policy." Lexington Ins. Co. , 830 F.3d at 1222 (Gorsuch, J., writing for himself alone in this portion of the opinion). ¶ 49 The absurdity that the majority sees in section 201 is not of the non-controversial, linguistic sort. Section 201 is not "linguistically incoherent." See United States v. Head , 552 F.3d 640, 643 (7th Cir. 2009), superseded by statute on other grounds, as recognized by United States v. Anderson , 583 F.3d 504 (7th Cir. 2009). Rather, in the majority's view, it "makes a bad substantive choice," see id. In other words, I think the process kind of goes like this: Step 1: Evaluate whether the statute, as written, is "clear and unambiguous." If it is clear and unambiguous, go to Step 2. If it is not (that is, the language of the statute is unclear and ambiguous), go to Step 3. Step 2: Evaluate whether applying the clear and unambiguous statute "as written" would (A) necessarily lead to absurd results, or (B) render the statute "unreasonably confused, inoperable, or in blatant contravention of the express purpose of a statute." If such application would lead to (A) or (B), go to Step 5. If such application would not lead to either (A) or (B), then apply the statute as written. Step 3: Evaluate whether the statute is "ambiguous" only insofar as it lends itself to two alternative readings, one of which "avoids absurd consequences." If a non-absurd reading exists, go to Step 4. If all readings lead to absurd results, go to Step 5. Step 4: Having ascertained that the ambiguously-worded statute lends itself to two alternative readings, one of which "avoids absurd consequences," interpret and apply the statute according to that reading. Step 5: Having ascertained that applying the unambiguously clear statute as written necessarily leads to "absurd consequences," or else having ascertained that there are no ambiguities which might create a non-absurd reading of the statute, depart from applying the statute as written and reform the statutory language so that an absurd result is not reached. This stuff came to mind as I considered the various perspectives on the BoM text's treatment, or apparent treatment, of "skin" color. Unlike a statute written by a legislature well-versed in English and living in our era, the Book of Mormon purports to be a divinely-administered translation of an abridgement of a large number of ancient texts written by many different authors in different contexts and at different times over the course of about 1,000 years. Some ambiguity and lack of clarity must be anticipated by the reader. Given these considerations, we cannot resort to simply applying the text "as written." We must construe. We must interpret. In so doing, the foregoing analysis may be helpful. Are there interpretations of the text that render it "unreasonably confused"? I think so. Consider this comment: In the Record of Zeniff, the Lamanites are described as being "a lazy and an idolatrous people" who a result, "were desirous to bring us into bondage, that they might glut themselves with the labors of our hands." Enos describes the Lamanites as a "wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people." Nephi explains Lamanite cursing. The Lamanites are described as being a "lazy and an idolatrous people." [6]↩︎ For example, the prophet Nephi explained that Lord said that "all are alike unto God" and He invites everyone "black and white, bond and free, male and female" to come to Him. The prophet Jacob stated that God commanded the Nephites "that ye revile no more against them, because of the darkness of their skins." Nephi comments on how Lord invites "black and white" to partake of the gospel. Jacob tells Nephites to not revile against the Lamanties because of "the darkness of their skins." The text has both A) indications of ethnocentrism (and/or "racism" as we understand it), and B) denunciations of such types differentiation (“all are alike unto God,” including “black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33); "a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins" (Jacob 3:9). A reading of the text that involves both seemingly endorsing X and condemning X would, in my view, be absurd. Given this ambiguity and lack of clarity, I think the next step is to evaluate whether we can construe the text to reach a non-absurd result. Is that possible? I think so. We can acknowledge that the authors of the BoM text, being "Nephite," and being imperfect human beings, may have harbored some problematic perceptions of the Lamanites. We can acknowledge that the authors of the BoM text lived in a variety of milieus, all of which were substantially different from our own. We can also acknowledge that the transmission of the text may have created impediments to having a fully-formed understanding of authorial intent. Consequently, we ought to take pains to avoid presentism and similar fallacies when interpreting their written statements. We can acknowledge that several passages in the BoM text which speak to "skin" and "blackness" and/or "darkness" lend themselves quite readily to a non-racist and/or symbolic interpretations and meanings. We can acknowledge that early Latter-day Saint leaders, and even some more recent ones, may have erroneously viewed the BoM text through a lens smudged and distorted by the "cultural assumptions about the origins of the Native Americans" referenced by Brant Gardner, and by the broader racialism prevalent in America in the 19th and 20th centuries. We can read the text of the Book of Mormon, while at the same time allow ourselves to be influenced by modern prophets and apostles, who are situated to guide and correct us as necessary and appropriate. And so on. I think these acknowledgments create room for a readily plausible and "non-absurd" interpretation of the BoM text. Indeed, I think this interpretation makes a lot more sense than a strictly literal approach. We do. I suspect that, like as we do with the Book of Mormon, we must interpret and construe what you are saying. I suspect that when you say "accept," you mean "exempt them from the Law of Chastity." I am open to the theoretical possibility that the Church will "disavow" its teachings regarding homosexual behavior, but only in a de minimis sort of way. "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." (AoF 1:9). That said, I doubt it will ever happen. It just does not seem to be part of The Plan. The Church's teachings about the Law of Chastity have not changed in any substantive way, even though we are half a century into the Sexual Revolution. The Church has changed its tone and tenor of how it treats members of the Church who engage in sexual sin. But the designation of things like fornication and homosexual behavior has not changed one lick. So speculation about the Church being on some sort of inexorable trajectory toward ratifying same-sex behavior is, in my view, unwarranted. Reasonable minds can disagree about such things. As it happens, though, we are not limited to scriptural authority. Living prophets and apostles are, in my view, one of the greatest features of the Restored Gospel. If any of them were giving indications of a sea change in the Law of Chastity, I'm sure you would be shouting it from the rooftops. As it happens, they have not done this, nor have they given any indication that they will in the future. From then-Elder Oaks' October 13 talk: Has the Church substantially altered its position on any of this in the decade+ since Elder Oaks said this? I don't think so. I think this is a fair point. The Church is no more likely to ratify same-sex behavior than it is to ratify extra-marital heterosexual sex. "We may incur accusations of bigotry." Boy, ain't that the truth. I really like this quote. It is mirrored in one I have had in my signature line for many years now (attributed to Evette Carter): "'Conformity' is doing what everybody else is doing, regardless of what is right. 'Morality' is doing what is right, regardless of what everybody else is doing." Sage words, these. Thanks, -Smac
  9. Neither John, nor anyone else in this thread, for that matter, owe you any kind of response to what you "prefer." I never claimed to be "owed" anything. But this is a discussion board. Discussions ought to be substantive. Thanks, -Smac
  10. Interestingly, the phrase "skin color" is entirely absent from the text of the Book of Mormon. I think it is error to impute modern notions of race and racism retroactively on people who lived thousands of years ago. That's not to say that some attitudes back then answer to what we today call "racism." See, e.g., here: And here (same link) : In the Record of Zeniff, the Lamanites are described as being "a lazy and an idolatrous people" who a result, "were desirous to bring us into bondage, that they might glut themselves with the labors of our hands." Enos describes the Lamanites as a "wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people." Nephi explains Lamanite cursing. The Lamanites are described as being a "lazy and an idolatrous people." [6]↩︎ For example, the prophet Nephi explained that Lord said that "all are alike unto God" and He invites everyone "black and white, bond and free, male and female" to come to Him. The prophet Jacob stated that God commanded the Nephites "that ye revile no more against them, because of the darkness of their skins." Nephi comments on how Lord invites "black and white" to partake of the gospel. Jacob tells Nephites to not revile against the Lamanties because of "the darkness of their skins." And here (same link) : Nephi explains Lamanite cursing. [10]↩︎ In Jacob 3:5, Jacob taught: and in Alma 3:6, Alma taught: Alma wrote that God put a curse on the Lamanites. Jacob tells Nephites to not revile against the Lamanties because of "the darkness of their skins." [11]↩︎ Ancient studies scholars such as Hugh Nibley, John Tvedtnes and others have argued that "a skin of blackness" is not a reference to skin pigmentation. Explanations for the phrase have ranged from ancient metaphor to skin garments to Mayan skin paint. John A. Tvedtnes argues that black-and-white imagery in the Book of Mormon is symbolic. Ethan Sproat argues that "skins" in the Book of Mormon should be understood as garments. Gerrit M. Steenblik argues that "blackness" in the Book of Mormon should be understood as Mayan paint. Hugh W. Nibley compares the Book of Mormon's use of darkness to an ancient Egyptian autobiography. Brant A. Gardner argues that black skin in the Book of Mormon is metaphorical for out-groups. Adam Oliver Stokes argues that "skins of blackness" refers to spiritual darkness. So is it possible that "a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations" (1 Nephi 12:23) or "skin of blackness" (2 Nephi 5:21) or "the darkness of their skins" (Jacob 3:9) or "their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes" (2 Nephi 30:6) or "skin which was girded about their loins" and "skins of the Lamanites were dark" (Alma 3:5-6) or "their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites" (3 Nephi 2:15) or "a dark, a filthy, and a loathsome people, beyond the description of that which ever hath been amongst us, yea, even that which hath been among the Lamanites" (Mormon 5:15) is or are referencing something more than, or different from, or not precisely synonymous with, the amount of melanin in skin? I would prefer a substantive critique, rather than a glib and sarcastic and out-of-hand dismissal. Thanks, -Smac
  11. No atheism is not a faith based belief. Yes, I think it is. I suppose this largely comes down to an issue of semantics. Fundamentally, I think deists express the empirically unproven and unprovable notion that God exists. Atheists express the empirically unproven and unprovable notion that God does not exist. Both are, in my view, statements borne of belief, not knowledge. I'm familiar. See also here: I think persons who go out of their way to affirmatively oppose belief in the existence of God typically do so from an ideological point of view. That ideology becomes harder to characterize as a mere lack of belief. It is, in my view, more accurately understood as an ideology contrary to and in competition with theism. Thanks, -Smac
  12. I would be curious what Dan has to say about John 9: Here's John 10: Some comments from Dan: I have previously reviewed Dan's assessment of John 8 ("Before Abraham was, I am") : Thanks, -Smac
  13. Yep. I raised this point back in 2018: It seems this trilemma can be adapted to apply as a rebuttal to the "Inspired Fiction" theory. The Book of Mormon is either A) the work product of an insane/deluded person ("Lunatic"), B) the work product of a duplicitous, dishonest person ("Liar"), or C) what it claims to be: an ancient prophetic record preserved and translated "by the gift and power of God" ("Lord"). Yes. Thanks, -Smac
  14. Of course it would. No, it would not. And yet observant/conversant Latter-day Saints would not be particularly comfortable with ward members "espous{ing} or pontificat{ing} about {denying the atonement of Jesus Christ in and during} Latter-day Saint meetings." Yep it can go either way. One can stay in spite of all the reasons not to. And one can leave "in spite of all the reasons not to." Yep. Faith. The "trump" card of religion. And of atheism as well. The existence of God, His attributes, our relationship with Him, etc., or the lack of these things, are all matters of faith. Nobody can empirically prove or disprove these things. Faith in God also persuaded people to do all sorts of good things. Atheism, nihilism, etc. could also be characterized as "awful." I don't know either way. Do you really? I know of several instances where people left the Church based, to some extent, on their rejection of the Book of Mormon as being what it claims to be. "Clearly is not..." Gotta love the loaded nature of this statement. I respect your assertion, but it's just that. it is not a fact, let alone one that is "clearly" so. I exercise faith in accepting the Book of Mormon for what it claims to be, and you exercise faith in not accepting it. Your non-acceptance is not a "realization" (that is, "an act of becoming fully aware of something as a fact"). It is an opinion. A statement of belief. As I said previously: There are some Christians who reject the divinity of Jesus Christ, but who find a way maintain some semblance of "faith" because He taught generally sound principles of love, forgiveness, service, etc. I wish the best for such folks, but I don't see this as being a feasible basis for maintaining discipleship. Jesus as just a regular human being who spent some years wandering around Judea as an itinerant preacher and espousing a few interesting ideas (and/or was mentally deluded when he claimed to have performed miracles, to be the Son of God, etc., or else was a conscious fraud in claiming such things), is not, in my view, a person deserving of veneration as the Son of God and the Savior of Mankind. So would I. That is why I am opposed to it. As noted above, it is a literal religion. I'm not sure what you mean here. I understand and appreciate that idea and opinion. I respect it. But I think it is, in the end, incorrect. I think the Restored Gospel is what it claims to be. The truth claims of the Restored Gospel cannot be empirically proved, but nor can they be empirically disproved. So in the end, our respective assessments and conclusions remain as being borne of faith. But I doubt you really know this and it is your opinion and conjecture. Most of what we say here - including your comments - is often comprised mostly of "opinion and conjecture." See, for example, your above "massive fraud" statement. I agree. Sooner or later, "Inspired Fiction" ends up as poison pill for most folks. It injures and weakens faith in the Restored Gospel. How serious? Pretty darn. Pretty darn serious seems strong. So how serious? As serious as Kip and Lafawnduh. First, I don't know that I can formulate a coherent metric by which to measure "serious error" in this context. Second, I have not really been speaking about how or whether "Inspired Fiction" might affect a particular person's "standing in the church." Third, a Latter-day Saint who affirmatively rejects the Book of Mormon for what it claims to be, and all (or most) of what Joseph Smith claimed about it, and what his successors have taught about it, and what the Church claims and teaches about it, would likely have a hard time with getting a TR, presenting lessons from the Church which touch on these matters, and - sooner or later - remaining active in a faith that, as you have noted, calls for its adherents to accept some things "literally." God literally exists. Jesus Christ is literally His Son. We are literally His children, and Christ is literally our elder brother and our Savior and Redeemer. God literally communicates with and to, and calls, prophets and apostles. Some literal ancient people literally left Jerusalem around 600 BC and ended up building a literal boat and literally sailing to and arriving somewhere in the Americas. These people had prophets who kept literal records, which were later literally abridged by a literal man names Mormon, who literally gave the abridgment, a compilation of metal plates, to his literal son, Moroni, who thereafter literally wandered for many years before literally burying the plates and other artifacts, which Joseph Smith later literally discovered and eventually literally took possession of them. For myself, I find the atheistic worldview to be fundamentally untenable, but I respect that others disagree. Reasonable minds can disagree about such things. I think the "Inspired Fiction" theory is potentially implicated in one or more of the following TR questions: 3. Do you have a testimony of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ? 4. Do you sustain the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator and as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local leaders of the Church? ... 7. Do you support or promote any teachings, practices, or doctrine contrary to those of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? I think honestly and sincerely answering these questions while rejecting the Church's teachings/doctrine relative to Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and answering them without artifice or evasion or equivocation or mental reservation or an intent to mislead, would be difficult. For myself, I could not affirmatively answer questions 3 and 4, and negatively answer question 7, if I harbored notions comparable to the "Inspired Fiction" theory. As for others, I would consult with individual, and also likely with the stake president, and prayerfully assess the situation. I don't know. I have no particular insights as to the ultimate disposition of these things. Take a stab at it. We are just discussing it. Respectfully, no. There are a few reasons why I decline to render judgments of this sort, even in informal discussions. First, I cannot speak intelligently as to such things. An unintelligent, uninformed judgment would be, in my view, an "unrighteous" one prohibited by scripture: "Judge not, that ye be not judged." (Matthew 7:1) "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:" (John 5:22) "Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment." (JST, Matthew 7:2) Second, I lack stewardship to render judgment against any other person, particularly judgments about their standing before God. My assessment of the Inspired Fiction theory has more to do with reasoned assessment of its impact on the faith in the Restored Gospel in the here and now. I feel I can offer commentary and opinion as to its deleterious effects without having to proceed further and actually proclaim judgments on other people. That's just not my job, nor do I want to usurp it from Him whose job it is. Third, I don't want to speculate along these lines. As Joseph Smith put it: "It [doesn't] prove that a man is not a good man, because he errs in doctrine." Fourth, our exchange reminds me of the following parable I have heard a number of times: I suppose I could speculate about the extend of the injury to those in the carriage if fell over the edge. Or I could simply elect to stay as far away from the edge as possible. Thanks, -Smac
  15. This is what I had in mind when I said this: I have, in varying degrees, some ambivalence about a number of things in the Restored Gospel. Polygamy. Slavery in the Bible. Animal sacrifice. Uzzah. The historicity of Job. Abraham's experience in being commanded to sacrifice Isaac. I study and seek to understand these things, but meanwhile I mostly "put a pin in" them. For myself, I cannot accommodate ambivalence about the historicity of the Book of Mormon (let alone "Inspired Fiction"). Thanks, -Smac
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