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The Dehlin Affair–The Current Uncivil War


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Perhaps, but I was just making a suggestion about how those difficult issues could have easily been included.

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Thanks, Ray. I don't mean that it would have to be to the extent that the apologists deal with those things, but at least mentioned?

Look at the manual on Brigham Young and Joseph Smith. Polygamy is not even mentioned. Isn't that kind of odd, considering how important an issue, it was, at the time?

As widely known as polygamy is why would it need mentioning? Besides those lessons are to teach the members to better live gospel principles. In my 60+ years in the church it has been my experience that by far the majority of those I have come in contact with, member and non-member alike, know about polygamy, Mountain Meadows, etc. I may be a bit dense but I don't see how it would help. If you have something to help me understand please offer it.

I really honestly think it would cause more problems than it would solve.

Edited by ERayR
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As widely known as polygamy is why would it need mentioning?

Really? I just shake my head when people say this. :(

I am a convert and I honestly did not know that Joseph Smith had plural wives...and I sure as heck didn't know all of the details.

I think ignorance is a lot more dangerous than taking a chance with the truth.

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I really think that were the church curriculum changed to address the anti bombardments there would be no time left in meetings to teach the gospel.

The lessons are so repetitious there would be ample opportunity to address common attacks in a "a common critical point is...." with assurance that there are ample resources to turn to if they were to be asked about it. Then nobody is surprised or unsure if they are confronted with it. I think most of it is just knowing that there are answers and that intelligent people have researched it, know about problems and remain faithful.

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Really? I just shake my head when people say this. :sad:

I am a convert and I honestly did not know that Joseph Smith had plural wives...and I sure as heck didn't know all of the details.

I think ignorance is a lot more dangerous than taking a chance with the truth.

All I can go by is my own experience. i have lived from Washington State to Colorado and inevitably non-members, strangers and acquaintances I have struck up conversations with, having been a 70 I took missionary work quite seriously, would almost always ask me about polygamy when we got to the "I'm a Mormon" part of the conversation. I must admit MM was a lot less frequent but often enough to know that it wasn't hidden information.

I guess it is these experiences that leave me mystified about those who didn't know and even more mystified as to why it matters where they hear the information. I am being a pest but you still haven't given me anything that answers that question.

Edited by ERayR
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Thanks, Ray. I don't mean that it would have to be to the extent that the apologists deal with those things, but at least mentioned?

Look at the manual on Brigham Young and Joseph Smith. Polygamy is not even mentioned. Isn't that kind of odd, considering how important an issue, it was, at the time?

Is this a way of arguing that Dehlin's opinions on whether there even was a Jesus of Nazareth, or God are well grounded? Or is it the usual complaints of those trying hard to find fault with those who fashion manuals? But nothing prevents those who use or read those manuals from going beyond them in any way that fits their own intellectual and spiritual needs. If I don't like the manual or the lesson, I bring a notebook and sketch my own or list the questions I have that I can immediately look into when I am home. But the word "church" for me is not a building I go to on Sunday to be indoctrinated, but the community of Saints and the faith and shared memories that binds them together. So I am at home with the the Saints in distant lands.

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You are one of the most reasonable and fair posters I have seen. I measure damage by what those like you say. And that you believe the "ad hom" accusations is evidence that Dehlin has been effective in demonizing. And yes...that is demonizing. It would have to be true to be called a criticism.

You are right about building bridges. We haven't been very good at it. I think we all have to work on that in our own wards when the demonizing of "apostates" begins. And I do think the pride, sin, etc. stuff we shovel is demonizing at that level because we are probably unknowingly talking to people having doubts sitting next to us. We do not even use the word "apostate" properly, it is not something that should be attached to those who quietly fall away. And I have never felt a need to leave the church to do my sinning so I don't even know where that comes from.

What I am seeing is those calling for bridge building throwing stones at which point it becomes nothing more than a "you first!" taunt. So when we gratefully accept Mr. Dehlin's offer to assist FAIR in making needed changes in our materials and are met with stony silence...followed by yet another attack in some other venue...it is next to impossible to even visualize a bridge.

I accept Mr. Dehlin's offer again. That is all we can do. Someone who wants to build something must show up.

Well said. Very well said.

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Really? I just shake my head when people say this. :sad:

I am a convert and I honestly did not know that Joseph Smith had plural wives...and I sure as heck didn't know all of the details.

I think ignorance is a lot more dangerous than taking a chance with the truth.

I was born and raised in the Church and I did not know a whole host of details about this and that at various points in my journey. I have always loved knowing more. And being surprised has been a joy. I see this as gaining further light and knowledge through study and prayer. I think if one is anxious for further light and knowledge and is genuinely open to it, then God will see a way of making this possible. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways. Ignorance is of course dangerous and especially when it is self-imposed.

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All I can go by is my own experience. i have lived from Washington State to Colorado and inevitably non-members, strangers and acquaintances I have struck up conversations with, having been a 70 I took missionary work quite seriously, would almost always ask me about polygamy when we got to the "I'm a Mormon" part of the conversation. I must admit MM was a lot less frequent but often enough to know that it wasn't hidden information.

I guess it is these experiences that leave me mystified about those who didn't know and even more mystified as to why it matters where they hear the information. I am being a pest but you still haven't given me anything that answers that question.

I think, I already answered this. It really does matter, where you hear it, because hearing these things from critics means you are going to hear a spin that, likely puts the information in the very worst light. It's difficult to come back from that, because once you hear something about the church that you didn't know (not even a clue), and then find out it is true...you then have a trust issue.

To be clear, I was aware of Brigham Young's polygamy (in a very vague sort of way), but hadn't heard about Joseph's. I just assumed polygamy began when the Saints moved to the west. I really had not studied that much church history (obviously), and was only about six years into the church, when I first became exposed to critics.

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I was born and raised in the Church and I did not know a whole host of details about this and that at various points in my journey. I have always loved knowing more. And being surprised has been a joy. I see this as gaining further light and knowledge through study and prayer. I think if one is anxious for further light and knowledge and is genuinely open to it, then God will see a way of making this possible. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways. Ignorance is of course dangerous and especially when it is self-imposed.

I was very anxious to learn everything I could. I was always studying the scriptures and church manuals. I just hadn't, yet, become very interested in church history. I was trying to take in everything, that I was taught, was important.

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The lessons are so repetitious there would be ample opportunity to address common attacks in a "a common critical point is...." with assurance that there are ample resources to turn to if they were to be asked about it. Then nobody is surprised or unsure if they are confronted with it. I think most of it is just knowing that there are answers and that intelligent people have researched it, know about problems and remain faithful.

In the Sec 132 lesson, this is already in the additional teaching ideas:

The following information is provided to help you if class members have questions about the practice of plural marriage. It should not be the focus of the lesson.

The Lord’s purpose for commanding His people to practice plural marriage

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Jacob taught: “For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife. … [but] if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things” (Jacob 2:27, 30). At various times throughout biblical history, the Lord commanded people to practice plural marriage. For example, He gave this command to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon (D&C 132:1).

The revelation to practice plural marriage in this dispensation

In this dispensation, the Lord commanded some of the early Saints to practice plural marriage. The Prophet Joseph Smith and those closest to him, including Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, were challenged by this command, but they obeyed it. Church leaders regulated the practice. Those entering into it had to be authorized to do so, and the marriages had to be performed through the sealing power of the priesthood.

The Church’s position on plural marriage today

In 1890, President Wilford Woodruff received a revelation that the leaders of the Church should cease teaching the practice of plural marriage (Official Declaration 1, pages 291–92 in the Doctrine and Covenants; see also the excerpts from addresses by President Woodruff that immediately follow Official Declaration 1).

In 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley made the following statement about the Church’s position on plural marriage: “This Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church. … If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 92; or Ensign,Nov. 1998, 71).

http://www.lds.org/m...ernity?lang=eng

There is nothing that says this can't be part of the regular lesson, just not for the lesson to be completely focused on it. I would add a sentence or two about the practice took some time to be accepted and adjusted to as well as standardized and some things may seem confusing to current members (they were probably even more confusing to the early members who had to live through those times) and if anyone wished to discuss it see the teacher after class kind of thing (and hopefully the teacher will at least know where to go look for info if anyone has questions) and that there was also some basic additional information online at lds.org in the gospel topics section: http://www.lds.org/topics/polygamy-plural-marriage?lang=eng.

I think this could easily be done in other appropriate lessons like you said.

For example during the WoW lesson, it could be noted that it was practiced in different ways at different times and it could be mentioned that they had wine at Carthage as that is at times an issue.

Edited by calmoriah
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I have never seen this "demonizing". I have seen John state very strongly that he believed LDS apologists were driving people out of the church, by making some of their articles way too personal. That's criticism (and it might even be somewhat valid), but it isn't anymore demonizing than this article written about him.

I haven't actually paid much personal attention to John Dehlin, but I do know -- it was hard to miss -- that he's called me a "thug" and a "pathological deceiver," among other things. That seems fairly "personal."

I don't see any language like that from Greg Smith about him.

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I haven't actually paid much personal attention to John Dehlin, but I do know -- it was hard to miss -- that he's called me a "thug" and a "pathological deceiver," among other things. That seems fairly "personal."

I don't see any language like that from Greg Smith about him.

I'm sorry, I did not see that. Where did he say this? (On second thought, I think maybe I do recall that he called some of the apologists' behavior "thuggish"...can't remember if it was on this board or somewhere else).. I don't approve. But, that doesn't make it okay for someone else to (potentially) twist facts.

Rhetoric doesn't have to be outright name calling to be harmful...or untrue.

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I am not at all sure that what is or is not in Sunday School lessons is relevant to the topic of this thread. What should be the focus of this thread is not the old business about how the "Church" keeps us in the dark about some secondary matters. I happen to know that the topic of this thread is the content of those two blogs by John Dehlin in 2006. What is there about those blogs that is a key to understanding the most recent controversy. Why not focus on this question and see if that will not help us understand why Dehlin blasts away at faithful members of the Church who also happen to be scholars who publish essays that explicate and defend the faith of the Saints. What bits of language can one find in those two blog entries that tell us why he draw rave reviews for his endeavors from those who despise the Church of Jesus Christ? Is it his bridge building agenda? What kind of bridge? And why bridges to that community? Why a bridge from that community to those who are undergoing some crises of faith? Why not a bridge from FAIR to those in crisis? Or why not a bridge from those in crisis to the very impressive scholarship on a host of topics surrounding the crucial founding and grounding texts, and core narrative, as this is being set out by the LDS scholarly community? Why all the demonizing of both the LDS scholarly community and of agencies like FAIR? These are some of the crucial questions that one might probe by reading closely those two blog entries by Dehlin in 2006.In addition, has anyone noticed signs of Dehlin working to generate a bit of a "moral panic" outfitted with two malevolent "folk devils" in that first blog? If so, can we see the beginnings of how he generated a panic over Greg Smith's essay? And also why he immediately begged for censorship of a what he called a "hit piece" but which everyone now knows is factually accurate account of his opinions and agenda.

In addition, no one has asked what Dehlin and I talked about for 5 or I think perhaps 6 hours the day before his second and presumably conciliatory blog entry, or what we talked about when I phoned him to make possible that conversation at the FAIR conference. Or what email exchanges I had with Dehlin immediately after that.

Instead, what this thread has drifted into is a kind of replication of the same back and forth between apologists for Dehlin and those who read Greg Smith's factually accurate essays differently..

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I'm sorry, I did not see that. Where did he say this? (On second thought, I think maybe I do recall that he called some of the apologists' behavior "thuggish"...can't remember if it was on this board or somewhere else).. I don't approve. But, that doesn't make it okay for someone else to (potentially) twist facts.

Rhetoric doesn't have to be outright name calling to be harmful...or untrue.

Libs you simply must follow the argument and allow the textual evidence to mold and moderate your opinions.

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In the Sec 132 lesson, this is already in the additional teaching ideas:

http://www.lds.org/m...ernity?lang=eng

There is nothing that says this can't be part of the regular lesson, just not for the lesson to be completely focused on it. I would add a sentence or two about the practice took some time to be accepted and adjusted to as well as standardized and some things may seem confusing to current members (they were probably even more confusing to the early members who had to live through those times) and if anyone wished to discuss it see the teacher after class kind of thing (and hopefully the teacher will at least know where to go look for info if anyone has questions) and that there was also some basic additional information online at lds.org in the gospel topics section: http://www.lds.org/topics/polygamy-plural-marriage?lang=eng.

I think this could easily be done in other appropriate lessons like you said.

For example during the WoW lesson, it could be noted that it was practiced in different ways at different times and it could be mentioned that they had wine at Carthage as that is at times an issue.

Thanks Calmoriah. Seems like it could be done fairly easily. And, then, make sure the teacher is armed with some good resources.

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In addition, no one has asked what Dehlin and I talked about for 5 or I think perhaps 6 hours the day before his second and presumably conciliatory blog entry, or what we talked about when I phoned him to make possible that conversation at the FAIR conference. Or what email exchanges I had with Dehlin immediately after that.

First of all, I'm sorry I took the thread off topic. My apologies.

Second...I would be interested in what the two of you talked about...

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First of all, I'm sorry I took the thread off topic. My apologies.

Second...I would be interested in what the two of you talked about...

Me too on both....
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I am not at all sure that what is or is not in Sunday School lessons is relevant to the topic of this thread. What should be the focus of this thread is not the old business about how the "Church" keeps us in the dark about some secondary matters. I happen to know that the topic of this thread is the content of those two blogs by John Dehlin in 2006. What is there about those blogs that is a key to understanding the most recent controversy. Why not focus on this question and see if that will not help us understand why Dehlin blasts away at faithful members of the Church who also happen to be scholars who publish essays that explicate and defend the faith of the Saints. What bits of language can one find in those two blog entries that tell us why he draw rave reviews for his endeavors from those who despise the Church of Jesus Christ? Is it his bridge building agenda? What kind of bridge? And why bridges to that community? Why a bridge from that community to those who are undergoing some crises of faith? Why not a bridge from FAIR to those in crisis? Or why not a bridge from those in crisis to the very impressive scholarship on a host of topics surrounding the crucial founding and grounding texts, and core narrative, as this is being set out by the LDS scholarly community? Why all the demonizing of both the LDS scholarly community and of agencies like FAIR? These are some of the crucial questions that one might probe by reading closely those two blog entries by Dehlin in 2006.In addition, has anyone noticed signs of Dehlin working to generate a bit of a "moral panic" outfitted with two malevolent "folk devils" in that first blog? If so, can we see the beginnings of how he generated a panic over Greg Smith's essay? And also why he immediately begged for censorship of a what he called a "hit piece" but which everyone now knows is factually accurate account of his opinions and agenda.

In addition, no one has asked what Dehlin and I talked about for 5 or I think perhaps 6 hours the day before his second and presumably conciliatory blog entry, or what we talked about when I phoned him to make possible that conversation at the FAIR conference. Or what email exchanges I had with Dehlin immediately after that.

Instead, what this thread has drifted into is a kind of replication of the same back and forth between apologists for Dehlin and those who read Greg Smith's factually accurate essays differently..

What you are seeing is the phenomenon (unique to internet forums consisting of conflicting communities) of a common strategy being implemented by a confederacy of people who will likely never in their lives see one another in person.

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The end result would will hopefully be two factions coming together to strengthen those struggling. I could only imagine what two very intelligent people like Dan Peterson and John Dehlin could do together. Especially knowing John Dehlin is in the process of fully returning to the flock.

Can John be trusted? Life is played out on a podcast and a blog. And if things go sour, would it all be played out on a blog? John is a public figure in lds internet circles and he does enjoy his mormonstories podcasts and keeping his followers informed on facebook or in his blog. And he has swayed back and forth before. I would be a little concerned that it could happen again and we would all become 'facebooked'.

Edited by why me
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No need to be sorry about that. And also keep in mind that I quoted you to begin this thread. I had hoped that by actually looking at some of Dehlin's public statements that we could all begin to get a handle on how he attracts clients, followers, disciples and also marginalizes potential competitors and critics. What Greg Smith did in his essay was to deal with the most recent versions of what started long before--that is, Dehlin did not just suddenly go south in his candid conversation with the Larsens or on his FB wall or the other items cited by Greg.

Well, he told me about his mission. He described his struggles with other missionaries and his mission president, about a robbery on a train in which a large amount of cash was stollen. He described my colleague LaMond Tullis listening to his "baseball baptisms" story of his mission in Guatemala, and how LaMond had sent a written version of his story to Elder Oaks and how Elder Oaks has phoned him to discuss the matter.

I told him of my entirely different kind of life-changing mission to New Zealand, where I had found Maori Saints who were in crucial ways, despite WoW problems, gambling and so forth, more "Mormon" than I was, more adroit readers of the Book of Mormon, more tuned to the promptings of the Holy Spirit that I was, and so forth. I described for Dehlin my struggles with President Wilkinson (think of his embarrassing stupid spying on some neanderthal Republicans in an effort to gather evidence of their sympathy with Communist causes. One of those he spied upon, Richard Wirthlin, brother of an Apostle and later a General Authority himself, eventually got Ronald Reagan elected President of the United States. We were, you see, a dangerous lot. That bizarre business was in itself relatively harmless, since we always knew that the Brethren would not let him do what he wanted to do. And he could have resolved the issue at any point by merely inviting us to his home and said: "This is very difficult...." And we would all have replied "President, you need go no further." The matter is closed. That would have ended it. There is, you see, a lesson there. Then I described my conflicts and confrontations with Cleon Skousen and how those led many of the faculty in Religious Education to see me as unfaithful. All that changed when many years latter, in the 1980s a Vice President insisted that I be allowed to address the Religious Edcation faculty. I scolded them for not lifting a finger to deal with the doubt and misgivings of students about the founding narrative. And how they had done nothing to defend the Book of Mormon from the then just emerging rubbish about it not being an authentic history but one does not throw a car away because it has a flat tire. But, they objected, "you challenged Skousen and we thought..." that you were not a believer. Right then and there a picture of me faded and I became good friends with the lot. (That is real authentic bridge building.)

I explained that I am filled with questions and doubts and always have been. But doubts and questions have fueled my own quest for information and understanding. I tried to explain that my ever lingering doubts are moderated by a well-grounded doubt about my own understanding, present level of knowledge and so forth, and an abiding faith in God and his wisdom and love. There are things that I don't like to talk about that have fixed my faith. And some of these I have only really seen after a puzzling event or encounter. Some of these have been a boot in the form of a boot in the bum, and a stern warning that I could see as a warning. I talked about the atonement and divine mercy.

But I heard exactly nothing like that from Dehlin. It was only on 29 March 2012 that he told me that he had not gone missing when he worked for Microsoft and then in 2012 read Grant Palmer's book, but that his crisis came in 1993 when he was a senior at BYU. That was news to me. And perhaps to you. After that he seems to see the Church as a kind of club in which one finds or does not find happiness. The whole point of life, is not to face tribulation and endure in faith or probation to the very end but for each of us to find something that makes us happy.

I am really slow on the uptake, sometimes, but I think I am beginning to see the picture, here. I went back and read the beginning of this thread, again, as a refresher to what the subject was, exactly. I picked up on something that I had missed, before. You say that John Dehlin asked you and Dr. Peterson to join him in helping people who had become disaffected...but, John wanted you to change your style of writing, from boring academic papers to...I'm not sure what...something easier to understand...shorter, more compact, less academic (no footnotes, etc)...right? So, when the two of you refused his offer, you believe that John decided to take things into his own hands and, basically, run the LDS apologists out of business, so to speak? Is that close to what you are saying?

This is starting to sound like a bad conspiracy theory. (But, heck, who am I to say?) Wow. So, this is why there will be no reconciliation, I assume?

And, yes, I did know that John had started questioning in the early 90's. He has mentioned that several times...but, I don't think his original doubts were nearly to the degree that they became, later.

What I see here are....irreconcilable differences of opinion. That's really difficult.

Dr. Midgley, I appreciate the time you have taken to share your side of things. Thank you, very much. I don't even know what to think, at this point. I do think John is going through more adjustments, right now, as he transitions back into the church. I don't know what will come of that...we'll see.

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I had hoped that by actually looking at some of Dehlin's public statements that we could all begin to get a handle on how he attracts clients, followers, disciples and also marginalizes potential competitors and critics.

How would you characterize clients, followers, and disciples?

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Dr. Midgley,

We've now been privy to a thorough trouncing of John Dehlin lately.

At this point in the game, what response or actions would you like to see from him that would satisfy you?

Edited by Senator
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Dr. Midgley,

We've now been privy to a thorough trouncing of John Dehlin lately.

At this point in the game, what response or actions would you like to see from him that would satisfy you?

John can stop the personal attacks against Dan and others. Much better to critique the information than the people who are behind it.

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