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Questing Beast

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Today's CNN Opinion piece uses familiar language, when discussing the disseminating of history. The same point - "it is also dangerous when people 'cherry pick' pieces of the story to suit their purposes, when the foot is cut to fit the shoe. A sanitized but incomplete, or worse, wildly inaccurate, version of history can be cited to support just about any political stand. Like scripture, the words and deeds of the Founders, mixed with bits and pieces of American mythology, are trumpeted to support positions on every issue from individual rights, states' rights, gun rights or gun control, to taxes, immigration, public prayer and, most dangerously, taking the nation to war." - could be applied to the way the LDS Church cobbles its own "faith promoting history" together....
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could be applied to the way the LDS Church cobbles its own "faith promoting history" together....

Or how the critics cobble together their own anti-church history.

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Or how the critics cobble together their own anti-church history.

Wait, I thought two wrongs don't make a right?

Are you saying that it is fine for the LDS church to treat it's history in the same manner as critics treat their "anti-church" history? To me, that would infer that the church is stooping to the levels of their "enemies" in order to fight fire with fire. Thus, in the end, the true history is not revealed, only that which either promotes faith in the church or tears down the church, no? IMO, the truth is somewhere in between, though try getting either a critic or a TBM to admit as much. Either way, the truth is not revealed, and would that not go against the principles of christ?

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Wait, I thought two wrongs don't make a right?

Are you saying that it is fine for the LDS church to treat it's history in the same manner as critics treat their "anti-church" history? To me, that would infer that the church is stooping to the levels of their "enemies" in order to fight fire with fire. Thus, in the end, the true history is not revealed, only that which either promotes faith in the church or tears down the church, no? IMO, the truth is somewhere in between, though try getting either a critic or a TBM to admit as much. Either way, the truth is not revealed, and would that not go against the principles of christ?

I think if you look at the trend from the last 30 or 40 years, the critics and the Church have both been gravitating towards the same reasonable (but realistic) version of the history.

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I think if you look at the trend from the last 30 or 40 years, the critics and the Church have both been gravitating towards the same reasonable (but realistic) version of the history.

I don't think either side has had a choice. Information has become easier and easier to verify.

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Wait, I thought two wrongs don't make a right?

That's assuming the church has been wrong in their approach if the goal is to present a basic, faith promoting look. I might wish for a little more in depth history but in truth I don't think most people are interested and if they are there are sources to get it, within the church. I was making a point that the other side has a bias as well.

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My favorite example is the case of Thomas B. Marsh leaving the Church. Marsh did not leave the Church over a milk cow. George A. Smith made up that story. It's an utter fabrication (if you'll forgive the pun). Unfortunately, the story has been repeated so many times over the years that people now automatically assume it to be true.

Writing "faith-promoting" histories is one thing. Making stuff up in order to make a man look worse than he actually was is another thing entirely.

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My favorite example is the case of Thomas B. Marsh leaving the Church. Marsh did not leave the Church over a milk cow.

Actually another recent thread provided the documentation for this story. No one has said he left the church over the cow.

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Yeah, I missed that thread. Still, I disagree. As far back as I can remember, the story of the milk cow/strippings has always been the explanation I have heard in church for why Marsh left. Maybe you've had different experiences than I, but that is what I've always been taught. Even as recently as 2006, Elder Bednar brought it up in General Conference. No discussion at all of the real reasons, just the milk strippings.

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Wait, I thought two wrongs don't make a right?

Are you saying that it is fine for the LDS church to treat it's history in the same manner as critics treat their "anti-church" history? To me, that would infer that the church is stooping to the levels of their "enemies" in order to fight fire with fire. Thus, in the end, the true history is not revealed, only that which either promotes faith in the church or tears down the church, no? IMO, the truth is somewhere in between, though try getting either a critic or a TBM to admit as much. Either way, the truth is not revealed, and would that not go against the principles of christ?

The church doesn't stoop to such a low level so the reality cannot be inferred. In fact in this case it does NOT take two to tango. Generally the church has had a policy of not undermining or criticizing other religions. We leave that to those who attack our church. And no, the truth is not "somewhere in between. The attacks done using the same methods long ago dismissed, along with double standards in which the application of criticism towards the church's claims somehow do not warrant equal to one's own religious thought, usually mean the truth isn't in the "middle". For the critics who use such actions, it is in the gully, buried under weeds and long ago forgotten.

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Yeah, I missed that thread. Still, I disagree. As far back as I can remember, the story of the milk cow/strippings has always been the explanation I have heard in church for why Marsh left. Maybe you've had different experiences than I, but that is what I've always been taught. Even as recently as 2006, Elder Bednar brought it up in General Conference. No discussion at all of the real reasons, just the milk strippings.

It may be a more nuanced issue that some interpret as the "only" reason. In other words, the beginning of a path that led to leaving the church, and others see the story, not as a beginning, but the point where one left.

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Even as recently as 2006, Elder Bednar brought it up in General Conference. No discussion at all of the real reasons, just the milk strippings.

Don’t you think though that the statement “Thomas B. Marsh allowed himself to be acted upon, and the eventual results were apostasy and misery” tell us that there was more involved. The milk strippings in my experience (and certainly the way I taught it) has been used as the example of the first steps of pride entering in and as Proverbs 16:18 tells us “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

In any case as we know Thomas Marsh came back to church and I really think where he is now he doesn't mind if we use him to teach about avoiding pride.

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Don’t you think though that the statement “Thomas B. Marsh allowed himself to be acted upon, and the eventual results were apostasy and misery” tell us that there was more involved. The milk strippings in my experience (and certainly the way I taught it) has been used as the example of the first steps of pride entering in and as Proverbs 16:18 tells us “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

In any case as we know Thomas Marsh came back to church and I really think where he is now he doesn't mind if we use him to teach about avoiding pride.

It has been my experience that every time I heard the story that of the milk strippings was but the first step to allow for other things to come into his life were he eventually left. I have never heard that that was the sole reason he left or even one of the reasons he left.

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The church doesn't stoop to such a low level so the reality cannot be inferred. In fact in this case it does NOT take two to tango. Generally the church has had a policy of not undermining or criticizing other religions. We leave that to those who attack our church. And no, the truth is not "somewhere in between. The attacks done using the same methods long ago dismissed, along with double standards in which the application of criticism towards the church's claims somehow do not warrant equal to one's own religious thought, usually mean the truth isn't in the "middle". For the critics who use such actions, it is in the gully, buried under weeds and long ago forgotten.

I am not speaking to such things as the LDS church "undermining or criticizing other religions"...not sure where you got that.

I am speaking to the OPs paraphrasing of an article in which it is stated that "it is also dangerous when people 'cherry pick' pieces of the story to suit their purposes, when the foot is cut to fit the shoe." I was in the LDS church way too long and have studied it too much to back down from my assertion that the church mindfully "cherry picks" the historical stories that they promote in an attempt to make the church appear in the absolute best light possible. Thus, we do not get the complete truth about the history of the church from the church itself, but rather, a selection of faith-promoting snippets that make for good sound bites in Sunday School and make everyone feel good about the organization to which they've devoted their lives to. LDS church history is agenda-driven, and that agenda is to make the church appear as warm and fuzzy as possible to attract the most amount of converts, and if some historical truths or facts get lost or obscured in the process, then so be it.....god's kingdom is still moving forward.

On the other side are the "anti's/apostates" with their own agenda. The active "anti's/apostates" often attempt to retell an LDS history filled with half-truths, inferences and mis-characterizations, much of it based on suspect origins. Like the church, they are agenda-driven, with their goal to turn away as many people from the church as possible. Like the LDS church, they don't appear to mind "cherry picking" pieces of the whole story in order to suit their agenda.

This is what I mean when I state that the "truth is somehere in between" (and you helped provide an excellent response when I added the caveat in my post "though try getting either a critic or a TBM to admit as much"...predictably, very predictably, you responded "And no, the truth is not "somewhere in between").

Thankfully, as many on this post have alluded to, the explosion in technology in the past three or so decades has made it easier to verify and determine actual facts. And this has helped drive a more complete history of the LDS religion, and has provided a method for studying church history from a perspective that is not so dependent on agendas (from either teh LDS church or their critics).

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I am not speaking to such things as the LDS church "undermining or criticizing other religions"...not sure where you got that.

I am speaking to the OPs paraphrasing of an article in which it is stated that "it is also dangerous when people 'cherry pick' pieces of the story to suit their purposes, when the foot is cut to fit the shoe." I was in the LDS church way too long and have studied it too much to back down from my assertion that the church mindfully "cherry picks" the historical stories that they promote in an attempt to make the church appear in the absolute best light possible. Thus, we do not get the complete truth about the history of the church from the church itself, but rather, a selection of faith-promoting snippets that make for good sound bites in Sunday School and make everyone feel good about the organization to which they've devoted their lives to. LDS church history is agenda-driven, and that agenda is to make the church appear as warm and fuzzy as possible to attract the most amount of converts, and if some historical truths or facts get lost or obscured in the process, then so be it.....god's kingdom is still moving forward.

On the other side are the "anti's/apostates" with their own agenda. The active "anti's/apostates" often attempt to retell an LDS history filled with half-truths, inferences and mis-characterizations, much of it based on suspect origins. Like the church, they are agenda-driven, with their goal to turn away as many people from the church as possible. Like the LDS church, they don't appear to mind "cherry picking" pieces of the whole story in order to suit their agenda.

This is what I mean when I state that the "truth is somehere in between" (and you helped provide an excellent response when I added the caveat in my post "though try getting either a critic or a TBM to admit as much"...predictably, very predictably, you responded "And no, the truth is not "somewhere in between").

Thankfully, as many on this post have alluded to, the explosion in technology in the past three or so decades has made it easier to verify and determine actual facts. And this has helped drive a more complete history of the LDS religion, and has provided a method for studying church history from a perspective that is not so dependent on agendas (from either teh LDS church or their critics).

Is the Bible cherry picked or does it provide 100% accurate context for all those involved?

You see it is you who apply the double standard. Unless of course you are accusing the church of following the very same pattern of apostles and prophets as they were attacked?

And predictably, very predictably you will of course claim some type of neutrality that doesn't exist, and you will also of course claim to be "seeking the truth". And yet, you have yet, in any sense of the word shown any positive attitude towards the church and its truth. So you actually fulfill your own template as a true believer. Granted perhaps for the sanhedrin, or those who attacked the early church and crucified Christ, claiming that his crucifiction was only the result of finding the "middle ground". Have at it with nail and spike, and claim you are only seeking the truth and are "hammering out" the details.

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I suggest you read Bushman's book before you go off on your tangents in the future. The church is open to contextually correct and serious research. You seem to miss that part, and you should be corrected on it. It is amazing how few seem to know about "Rough Stone Rolling", and yet our Stake President, someone often laughingly referred to as TBM, by those in the spacious parking lot of human indignity, purchased it for each bishop in order to help them learn context. Your premise if false.

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Truth is not necessarily in the middle ground. If asked the question what is 14 divided by 3 it is essentially correct to say 4 with a little left over. But not exact. To answer 26 to the question would be not only incorrect, it would be a non answer. To push a middle ground argument would be silly.

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If they start teaching more church history in church, I absolutely will not sit through, from pure boredom. I do not (ME personally) belong to the Church of Accurate Church History. I do not belong to anything except a covenant of baptism with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Everything else is negligble to me.

Now, why can't they take a Sunday and expound how Gilgamesh and the Old Testament have a bit to do with each other?

Why can't they just come out with the truth about how the Church is an ancient Egyptian religion?

Those are some Sunday Schools I would sit through.

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If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things....

I guess it's sort of like the cross - we don't use the cross as a symbol because we want to focus on the good, not roll around in the bad... but then the atonement is a pretty big deal... it's not fun to talk about the pain/suffering/downside of it all, but then without the darker side of things, there would be no lighter side... we just tend to focus on the lighter side is all...

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If they start teaching more church history in church, I absolutely will not sit through, from pure boredom. I do not (ME personally) belong to the Church of Accurate Church History.
Amen, Sista!

When the lesson is on church his -story, it's time to have my own scripture search lesson.

Yes, past affects us, especially when we don't learn from it. Yet, how does anything that might have happened 150 years ago affect my spirituality now?

Jesus said, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." - Luke 17:20-21

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I love history, and enjoy reading church history as a hobby. But the demands by some that it be heavily used to teach presntly is silly. Sunday School is to help us increase our spirituality. Seminary's main purpose is likewise. I don't see classes of ancient Greek breaking out all over the place when we study the New Testament, nor do we suddenly get Ehrman discussions going on. We don't do ancient Hebrew for the Old Testament either. This is becasue we do not see a spiritually stronger end to doing so. Though I would not discourage anyone from taking up the study on their own, which many do.

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If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things....

I guess it's sort of like the cross - we don't use the cross as a symbol because we want to focus on the good, not roll around in the bad...

The cross taboo is a very interesting and complex development in Mormon history. My book Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo, traces this development, and is in its final stages of production. I delivered my manuscript several months ago to the editor of John Whitmer Books, and although I announced previously that it will be published last winter, and then spring... I am confident that it will finally be published this summer. Why am I so confident? Because contract deadline ends August 1st. My editor is working very hard now to ensure that this deadline is met. Won't be much longer!

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