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Paradigm Shifts, Mormon Studies, The Philosophies Of Men


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this thread has me thinking more about the book I read a few months ago by David Bokovoy. In recent years I've been pretty close to what you describe as scripture. his book and his ideas took my little hunch, which surely has come from many others ideas, and threw another football field away.

Your ideas a very good, even if I disagree a tinge with the "pray, follow the spirit, and keep the commandments". Not all commandments. That's too difficult anymore. Keep the important commandments and shrug off the little mistakes we make through repentance.

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 shrug off the little mistakes we make through repentance.

 

Sounds like an oxymoron to me.  

 

I disagree a tinge with the "pray, follow the spirit, and keep the commandments". Not all commandments. That's too difficult anymore. Keep the important commandments and shrug off the little mistakes we make through repentance.

 

 

I wonder how God might answer this prayer:

 

"Father, please reveal to us which commandments are not important to obey because it is just too difficult to obey them all..."  

 

I dare you to pray like that in Sunday school.  :acute:

Edited by pogi
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this thread has me thinking more about the book I read a few months ago by David Bokovoy. In recent years I've been pretty close to what you describe as scripture. his book and his ideas took my little hunch, which surely has come from many others ideas, and threw another football field away.

Your ideas a very good, even if I disagree a tinge with the "pray, follow the spirit, and keep the commandments". Not all commandments. That's too difficult anymore. Keep the important commandments and shrug off the little mistakes we make through repentance.

Awesome post

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"Pray, follow the spirit, and keep the commandments"

 

Philosophies come and go, interpretations come and go, science even comes and goes, new paradigms come and go, but God will always communicate with his children.  It is what He does.  It's his job as our Father.  He has to bring to pass our immortality and eternal lives.

This reminds me of Haggai 2:13-14, “Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the Lord; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean,” which in turn reminds me of Hosea being commanded to take unto him “a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredomes, departing from the Lord.”

 

Any individual, no matter how virtuous, is unclean in this fallen world—we cannot help it. There was no way Hosea could have married a woman untouched by the paradigms, studies and philosophies of her place and time. There is no way we can escape our fallen nature, except through the seminary answers you mentioned!

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As quoted in the opening post, bcuzbcuz said:

 

 

I was raised about the same time, and had the same preconceptions. I was pretty smug about some of them as well. I remember hearing about the New World being settled by travelers over the Bering Strait and thinking how I knew so much better.

 

Of course, I also had the impression that Israel was at the heart of ancient history. If I begin to catalogue the things I misunderstood about history outside of religion, the list gets really, really long. 

 

What I am sure of is that the Book of Mormon's first goal is spiritual. Understanding the history behind it enriches our understanding, but the fact that we might have had it wrong at some point is no different than all of the vast catalogue of things that humankind has been wrong about through history. That is why we are to keep learning and applying our understanding. The principle is eternal progression, not eternal stagnation. While that is still more important spiritually, I'm sure it applies to all of the understanding we are to learn. We should be seeking truth. In all things. That will mean finding out that we have believed something that was wrong in the past. That will be true for both secular and religious topics.

Yes I agree.  I think we just need to embrace growth and understand that growth cannot happen without some sacrifice and even pain attached.  Adjusting to new patterns of thought takes time and effort, if you are learning division in 4th grade, or writing a paper for publication, experiencing the loss of a loved one, or facing any new challenge.

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this thread has me thinking more about the book I read a few months ago by David Bokovoy. In recent years I've been pretty close to what you describe as scripture. his book and his ideas took my little hunch, which surely has come from many others ideas, and threw another football field away.

Your ideas a very good, even if I disagree a tinge with the "pray, follow the spirit, and keep the commandments". Not all commandments. That's too difficult anymore. Keep the important commandments and shrug off the little mistakes we make through repentance.

I think that any new idea or way of organizing ideas we receive is itself "scripture" in a way, since it gives us a new way of understanding the world, and after all that is what scripture is for.

 

I have found that the more I discipline myself by following the commandments, even the "hard"ones (each of us has a different 'hard one' ) the closer I am to the spirit, which is a feeling I crave more and more, as it grows sweeter and sweeter (Alma 32)

 

I hope that someday I will value that sweetness of the spirit more than I value whatever it is I get out of sin, so that the propensity to sin virtually disappears.

 

I have been close to that for very limited times in my life, and it was wonderful, but always some new challenge arises that challenges me in a different way that I have never experienced, and wham- the old patterns pop up again.  We are continually tested.

 

But I think it is dangerous to refuse to try to improve by labeling ANY challenge "too hard".  Even before I joined the church, my goal was to become the best human being I could, and I think there are many "humanists" in the same boat.

 

I can't conceive of voluntarily giving up some opportunity for personal growth because it is "too hard".  On the other hand, we should not be too hard on ourselves and give up, because then no growth is possible either.

 

It's not an easy balance!

Edited by mfbukowski
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I guess I am old school on the BoM. I still believe in a semi-hemispheric view with Nephites and Lamanites that were on both North and South American continents, waged war with each other over hundreds of years traveling thousands of miles in the process and ending up in New York at the Hill Cumorah to do one last epic battle. Paradigm shifts sadly begin at the scholarly level such as at BYU and then get spread throughout the church. I call them the philosophies of man. Its sad that we truly see so close minded anymore and our supposed "scholars" are only learned in the training of mans ways and cannot see the forest because of the trees.

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I guess I am old school on the BoM. I still believe in a semi-hemispheric view with Nephites and Lamanites that were on both North and South American continents, waged war with each other over hundreds of years traveling thousands of miles in the process and ending up in New York at the Hill Cumorah to do one last epic battle. Paradigm shifts sadly begin at the scholarly level such as at BYU and then get spread throughout the church. I call them the philosophies of man. Its sad that we truly see so close minded anymore and our supposed "scholars" are only learned in the training of mans ways and cannot see the forest because of the trees.

But here is the point- even your view is a "philosophy of man"

 

It is not contained in scripture- it is a human interpretation of the Book of Mormon, and always has been.

 

All we have are the "philosophies of men" because WE ARE MEN, indeed even God is a glorified man.   In a sense even scripture is the philosophy of the Man of Holiness.

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But here is the point- even your view is a "philosophy of man"

 

It is not contained in scripture- it is a human interpretation of the Book of Mormon, and always has been.

 

All we have are the "philosophies of men" because WE ARE MEN, indeed even God is a glorified man.   In a sense even scripture is the philosophy of the Man of Holiness.

Yes true, however, there is an aspect of being close minded that prevents/hinders one from finding and learning truth

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I'm not really sure that the type of paradigm shift Kuhn refers to with regard to scientific revolution is applicable here--I'd have to think about that. (I have the book in my library and I refer to it frequently)  However, I completely agree with you though that the paradigm or lens through which we view Book of Mormon peoples has had to change significantly over time--at least among those who accept any type of data that comes from empirical studies. That aside, yes, it is better to test the Book of Mormon's principles through living them (i.e. Alma 32) than it is to try to explain the discrepancies in its history (or perceived history.)

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Yes true, however, there is an aspect of being close minded that prevents/hinders one from finding and learning truth

 

Believing the "old-school" philosophies of man because it is traditional is no less closed minded.  I think the point is that it doesn't really matter what we believe at this moment, because we will be led to what we need to know piece by piece as we pray and obey.  It is ok to be old-school or new-school so long as you don't reject being spiritually schooled because you just can't let go of your favorite or traditional beliefs. 

Edited by pogi
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That aside, yes, it is better to test the Book of Mormon's principles through living them (i.e. Alma 32) than it is to try to explain the discrepancies in its history (or perceived history.)

This is interesting in light of Moroni 10:3: “remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things...” It would seem the Lord accommodates anyone's perception of history as long as it involves Him! And while our knowledge is quite imperfect, our faith (and sincerity and intent) can be sufficient (10:32).

 

I think there are many ways to test the Book of Mormon from a spiritual perspective. Moroni's promise is a very direct test and is presented by way of exhortation to receive confirmation by the power of the Holy Ghost. Alma's is an explanation of how to recognize spiritual knowledge when it arises as an answer to acting in faith, and that accepting the aid of the Spirit of the Lord is key to recognizing what is is good. I think Moroni picks up at the point where the reader concludes that there something is good enough to receive confirmation about.

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Believing the "old-school" philosophies of man because it is traditional is no less closed minded.  I think the point is that it doesn't really matter what we believe at this moment, because we will be led to what we need to know piece by piece as we pray and obey.  It is ok to be old-school or new-school so long as you don't reject being spiritually schooled because you just can't let go of your favorite or traditional beliefs.

My point, is dont be so easily persuaded by mans learning because those philosophies usually do not lead to the truth. Scholars can live their whole lives in a closed shell determined they have found the truth and making sure all others are censored so that they themselves will be seen as the only ones capable of finding the truth. Truth comes from personal study coupled with the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost. Joseph Smith was one such possessor of truth because of his ability to keep his mind open.

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I'm not really sure that the type of paradigm shift Kuhn refers to with regard to scientific revolution is applicable here--I'd have to think about that. (I have the book in my library and I refer to it frequently)  However, I completely agree with you though that the paradigm or lens through which we view Book of Mormon peoples has had to change significantly over time--at least among those who accept any type of data that comes from empirical studies. That aside, yes, it is better to test the Book of Mormon's principles through living them (i.e. Alma 32) than it is to try to explain the discrepancies in its history (or perceived history.)

Agreed.

In mentioning Kuhn, I really only meant to only point out the entire idea that we view everything through cultural paradigms that do in fact shift.

 

But honestly, I think that the difference between the paradigm of God as an ineffible Spirit occupying the universe but somehow neither material nor subject to having a location, and yet somehow acting as a "Being", and our conception of God, actually does qualify as a "paradigm change" as important as the Copernican revolution was in science.

 

This shift now allows us to conceive a God who is compatible with materialsm and humanism both, and with Alma 32, suggests a different way of even understanding truth, which is also compatible with the Pragmatic theory of truth, and thus with other contemporary views on epistmology.

 

I think really we are at the tip of a theological revoltion which could make major differences in the world, but we don't understand what we have.

 

We are so busy worrying about finding swords in Mesoamerica and trying to rationalize how truth can be unchanging and yet having a God who progresses and gives us ongoiing revelation, that we miss the strengths of our position, and the potential to maximize our influence in the world by effectively communicating the big picture of our theoology to those who are hungry to hear it.

 

This is the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was not restored because God wanted us to follow the old paradigms, but to define new ways of seeing the gospel and telling others about them. 

 

We are so busy trying to join the co-opted "Christian" club that we bend over backwards to try to be just like them, and soft pedal our strongest beliefs, the very beliefs that make us unique.

 

We have made great progress in the last 185 or so years, but like the old church around 200 AD, we are at a crucial phase, in my opinion.  The old church adopted a theology which was fundamentally incompatible with the true gospel, because culturally that was all that was available in Greek thought, but times have changed and so has philosophy.  It is my view that contemporary philosophy - which understands that truth changes and grows over time- with views like those of Kuhn and company- is far more compatible with continuing revelation and Alma 32 and even Moroni 10: 4-5.

 

We have incredible potential- we just need to understand that and communicate it to the world in the proper way

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I'm not really sure that the type of paradigm shift Kuhn refers to with regard to scientific revolution is applicable here--I'd have to think about that. (I have the book in my library and I refer to it frequently)  However, I completely agree with you though that the paradigm or lens through which we view Book of Mormon peoples has had to change significantly over time--at least among those who accept any type of data that comes from empirical studies. That aside, yes, it is better to test the Book of Mormon's principles through living them (i.e. Alma 32) than it is to try to explain the discrepancies in its history (or perceived history.)

It was about twenty years ago when I saw a connection between Alma 32 and Kuhn's descriptions of the most important values for testing paradigms. That is, where Kuhn says that the most important values for testing competing paradigms are, testability, accuracy of key predictions, comprehensiveness and coherence, fruitfulness, simplicity and aesthetics, Alma says, experiment upon the word, watch for results, see what happens expands your mind and increases your understanding, appreciate what you discover that you would have never imagined otherwise, savor what is delicious and enlarges your soul, and move towards the unrealized but significant future promise. To me, Alma 32 is a primer on how to find the best and most promising paradigms.

Given the definition of truth as knowledge of "things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come," it is not truth that changes, but the understanding of the observer. Orthodoxy may have issues with such changes, but Mormonism has never been, at its roots and practice, a church of static, on the shelf, orthodoxy, however much some members have wanted it to be such. Creeds, Joseph said, "set up stakes and bounds to the work of the almighty, saying, 'Hitherto come and no further."

FWIW

Kevin C.

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I think that any new idea or way of organizing ideas we receive is itself "scripture" in a way, since it gives us a new way of understanding the world, and after all that is what scripture is for.

 

I have found that the more I discipline myself by following the commandments, even the "hard"ones (each of us has a different 'hard one' ) the closer I am to the spirit, which is a feeling I crave more and more, as it grows sweeter and sweeter (Alma 32)

 

I hope that someday I will value that sweetness of the spirit more than I value whatever it is I get out of sin, so that the propensity to sin virtually disappears.

 

I have been close to that for very limited times in my life, and it was wonderful, but always some new challenge arises that challenges me in a different way that I have never experienced, and wham- the old patterns pop up again.  We are continually tested.

 

But I think it is dangerous to refuse to try to improve by labeling ANY challenge "too hard".  Even before I joined the church, my goal was to become the best human being I could, and I think there are many "humanists" in the same boat.

 

I can't conceive of voluntarily giving up some opportunity for personal growth because it is "too hard".  On the other hand, we should not be too hard on ourselves and give up, because then no growth is possible either.

 

It's not an easy balance!

Just saying I think we have burdened ourselves with non-commands calling them commandments. In so doing we often seem unfocused on the important ones of loving God and loving our neighbor. In practice I've noticed over the years many a non-LDS complain many LDS are rude, judgmental, unfriendly, arrogant etc. I have seen that type of stuff within my fellow church goers from time to time as well as they busy themselves with "church service" forgetting about actual service.

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Sounds like an oxymoron to me.  

 

 

 

I wonder how God might answer this prayer:

 

"Father, please reveal to us which commandments are not important to obey because it is just too difficult to obey them all..."  

 

I dare you to pray like that in Sunday school.  :acute:

Why would I do that? We know the important commandments, we simply need to focus more on those and not worry so much about earrings and such.

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Just saying I think we have burdened ourselves with non-commands calling them commandments. In so doing we often seem unfocused on the important ones of loving God and loving our neighbor. In practice I've noticed over the years many a non-LDS complain many LDS are rude, judgmental, unfriendly, arrogant etc. I have seen that type of stuff within my fellow church goers from time to time as well as they busy themselves with "church service" forgetting about actual service.

Well, we pick our own "burdens" and define them as such ourselves.  It is clear to me that happiness and unhappiness are both choices.  I have seen people who have experienced unimaginable trials and pain who maintain a happy positive attitude, and others who complain about nothing.

 

Furthermore, I think that the attitudes of church members vary from place to place.  Judgemental attitudes are sometimes contagious.  It is one way people who see themselves as inferior make themselves feel better.  It is a learned behavior, I think.

 

I have not seen those attitudes in my particular stake.

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It was about twenty years ago when I saw a connection between Alma 32 and Kuhn's descriptions of the most important values for testing paradigms. That is, where Kuhn says that the most important values for testing competing paradigms are, testability, accuracy of key predictions, comprehensiveness and coherence, fruitfulness, simplicity and aesthetics, Alma says, experiment upon the word, watch for results, see what happens expands your mind and increases your understanding, appreciate what you discover that you would have never imagined otherwise, savor what is delicious and enlarges your soul, and move towards the unrealized but significant future promise. To me, Alma 32 is a primer on how to find the best and most promising paradigms.

Given the definition of truth as knowledge of "things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come," it is not truth that changes, but the understanding of the observer. Orthodoxy may have issues with such changes, but Mormonism has never been, at its roots and practice, a church of static, on the shelf, orthodoxy, however much some members have wanted it to be such. Creeds, Joseph said, "set up stakes and bounds to the work of the almighty, saying, 'Hitherto come and no further."

FWIW

Kevin C.

Thanks for the thoujghts.

 

It is difficult to reconcile the idea that truth does not change with the idea that our knowledge of the world changes through paradigm shifts which manifest the "understanding of the observer".  One might wonder how one knows that truth does not change, when all we have to work with is our changing understanding of it. 

 

Perhaps it is ultimately a semantic issue, and we have to again deal with the ambiguity of language, as the Perry Scheme has taught us.

 

Perhaps "things as they are" ARE things as we see them, and so things as they are really do change.

Edited by mfbukowski
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Why would I do that? We know the important commandments, we simply need to focus more on those and not worry so much about earrings and such.

I think you are raising questions here which are half-asked.

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This is the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was not restored because God wanted us to follow the old paradigms, but to define new ways of seeing the gospel and telling others about them. 

 

We are so busy trying to join the co-opted "Christian" club that we bend over backwards to try to be just like them, and soft pedal our strongest beliefs, the very beliefs that make us unique.

 

We have made great progress in the last 185 or so years, but like the old church around 200 AD, we are at a crucial phase, in my opinion.  The old church adopted a theology which was fundamentally incompatible with the true gospel, because culturally that was all that was available in Greek thought, but times have changed and so has philosophy.  It is my view that contemporary philosophy - which understands that truth changes and grows over time- with views like those of Kuhn and company- is far more compatible with continuing revelation and Alma 32 and even Moroni 10: 4-5.

 

We have incredible potential- we just need to understand that and communicate it to the world in the proper way

 

I think we have been "communicate" by emphasizing our common beliefs, without abandoning our principles.  Often our differences are semantic, or even very minor, such as the discussion on grace vs works.  There is a way to express our belief which de-emphasizes our differences.

 

For example, if someone asks to whether I am "saved", I merely say, "Well, I believe that being saved is a journey rather than a single event.  Repentance for sin is a necessary part of that journey."

Edited by cdowis
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mfbukowski,

 

Do you think some of the more fundamental elements of the Gospel - say, for example, the notion that a guy has to recognize his shortcomings as well as the absolute need for the Atonement to be made whole - are shaped by our understanding of the world around us?

 

I'm having a hard time thinking how someone in 50 CE, 325 CE, 1450 CE, 1836 CE, or today would have drastically different viewpoints on that particular issue.

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mfbukowski,

 

Do you think some of the more fundamental elements of the Gospel - say, for example, the notion that a guy has to recognize his shortcomings as well as the absolute need for the Atonement to be made whole - are shaped by our understanding of the world around us?

 

I'm having a hard time thinking how someone in 50 CE, 325 CE, 1450 CE, 1836 CE, or today would have drastically different viewpoints on that particular issue.

Long answer- for short version see below.

 

Good to see you-  it's been a while!

 

Great question- it becomes a chicken/egg issue- which comes first, the chicken or the egg?  In this case the question is which comes first, the cultural pressure to act in a "moral" way and feeling guilt for not measuring up ("understanding the world around us") or the gospel notion of guilt and knowledge that we are fallen beings and therefore in need of the atonement?  Or a better way to say it is, which story says it better?  What is the purpose for the story?

 

Which parable shall we use for which audience?

 

So in a sense, how much is cultural and how much is "revealed truth"?  I don't think these two can be separated, really, it just depends on how one wants to think about these issues.   I have been thinking a lot about this recently, how gospel vocabularies (ie scriptural explanations and expositions) parallel secular ways of seeing the world, and I have been noticing that really these can be seen as two different languages explaining the same kinds of experiences.   I think that one can be "translated" into the other.

 

So we can see it in both a secular way and a gospel way, and use different vocabularies to explain the same experiences. 

 

The gospel explanation would be that The Light of Christ within us causes us to feel bad about hurting others and not measuring up, and so we feel guilt, which can be very painful if we have seriously wronged someone.  So we feel the need for the atonement, because we have felt the fall from innocence and cry out to God for peace.   This parallels the garden of Eden story of course, especially as told in the temple.  God tells us that there is a plan which will redeem us, that a savior will be sent to take away our sins, and to save us from the pain of the fall, if we but believe in the savior (believe the story) and repent.  Eve, in her genius, sees that there is no other way to raise her children to exaltation without knowing both good and evil.

 

The secular story would be that,  because we have accepted the mores of our culture, which teach us that in order to live peacefully and therefore have happy society in which to raise lots of happy babies, which is good for the culture, when we have damaged the culture itself by damaging a member, we have violated the happiness of all, and we feel separation from their protection, which causes pain and guilt, since we cannot survive alone.  Fall from innocence and consequent explulstion in a culture is death.  We feel guilt which is dissonance between our knowledge of the acts we have committed and the cultural mores we have internalized, and that conflict causes pain.   We seek to make it right.  The only way we can do that is by doing our best to never again commit acts against our cultural mores ("repentance" in the other scheme)   We need to believe that never doing it again will make us free from the guilt.  After all, we have learned our lesson, and thus the culture is justified in keeping us, and we are thus "saved" from the death of separation from the culture.  Morality has "evolved" as a need of society to both survive in a competitive world and stay civilized.

 

We need both good and evil, and knowledge of the pleasure and pain of both to become fully civilized and reach our fullest human potential.  (Note the Eve story above)

 

So we have this pair of kind of Jungian "myths" describing the same scenario in two vocabularies/languages.  Which is "correct"?   Both and neither.  Both are explanations prepared for a specific context to describe the same human experience- both teach that if you do something wrong, feel guilt, and do your best to never do it again, your guilt will go away.  Neither explain it fully, miss nuances of the other, and miss that there are a zillion other ways of seeing it all as well.

 

So I think that is a universal human behavior, explained on one hand with the Adam and Eve story, and the other explained by some contemporary sociologist- type, enither of which get it all right, but that is the problem with any explanation of anything.

 

But are these both manifestations of "Universal Absolute Truth"?  That depends on what explanation communicates best to you.   If you are religious, the first will work for you, if you are not, the second will.

 

For me that is the total brilliance of Mormonism, because we have unified both explanations because we have the underlying idea that GOD IS HUMAN.

 

We have elevated humanity and the concerns of humanity as Ideals - as Archetypes which we actually worship!!  It's a phenomenal idea!  We essentially worship THE FAMILY as an ideal.

 

"Families can be together forever

Thru Heavenly Father's plan

I always want to be

With my own family

And the Lord has shown me how I can"

 

Using secular language, we worship family values.   The Godhead itself is a Family.  The ideal behavior is the behavior which promotes familhy and social welfare.  We are to work to become a Zion society, in which the Patriarchal Order reigns, even including our dead, who we remember, and cherish and commemorate with ordinances to help them help us achieve "Forever Families".

 

So yes, I think these are universal human values which work for all cultures, and times, no matter what words you want to use ot explain them.  Any civilized human living at any time ultimately has to affirm some kind of family values because humanity would become extinct without them.  The fact is that our babies are born helpless and cannot fend for themselves really until they are young adults!  That means we must provide a family support- some kind of cultural support- and therefore cultural support is critical to survival of the species, and we call that cultural support "civilization".

 

BUT WAIT A MINUTE THERE, BUKOWSKI- I THOUGHT YOU SAID THERE WERE NO TRUTHS THAT WERE ALWAYS TRUE- THAT TRUTH CHANGES AND SO WE HAVE PARADIGM SHIFTS AND ALL THAT STUFF.

 

Notice I told two stories here, one was the religious way and the other was the secular way of expressing the same human experiences.

 

THAT is the key here.  There is no "one true way" to express human experience in language, because we each have our own experiences.  Each of the two versions of the story are "true" yet each tells it in a drastically different way.  Each way of telling the story serves its own purposes.  One story tells "the truth" for the humanist, the other tells "the truth" for the Mormon.  Each represents two different paradigms, two stories, two vocabularies two "truths"

 

Does that help at all?

Edited by mfbukowski
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      Judging the truth of the books claims is not Davis's interest. Rather, he reveals a kaleidoscope of practices and styles that converged around Smith's creation with an emphasis on the evangelical preaching styles popularized by renowned preachers George Whitefield and John Wesley. He allows for the believer to maintain a faithful view of the book.
      In Visions in a Seer Stone, Davis adroitly restores for the modern reader aspects of the now-forgotten sermon culture of Joseph Smith’s 19th-century, burnt over district, world and the well-established rhetorical performance techniques of its preachers. Davis then demonstrates that this oratorical praxis—in which Joseph Smith himself was a participant—illuminates not only Smith’s production of the Book of Mormon as a dictated performance bearing the indicia of these sermon preparation and delivery techniques, but it also illuminates the very text of this LDS scripture itself, both its narrative events and sermon contents.

      Davis details how numerous Book of Mormon narrative features—headings, outlines or summaries, some visible in italics and many others less visible in the text—are not mere textual devices for the reader, but were effective 19th-century sermon performance tools Smith could use to keep track of and produce the narrative as he dictated it. Davis produces an exhaustive list of ministers who wrote about sermon delivery techniques using such headings or outlines—“laying down heads”— with all of them substantially in agreement, having borrowed from each other and from bible dictionaries, such as Adam Clarke's bible commentaries and other sermon manuals, as well as from “Heathen Moralists” such as Plato, Aristotle and other philosophers, rhetoricians and writers from antiquity (see in particular on pp. 42 and 71 as to Bishop John Wilkins and the sources he used as well as his primary techniques to assist the preacher to speak from memory and which enable the congregation to understand “with greater ease and profit, when they are before-hand acquainted with the general heads of matters that are discoursed of”.) Smith incorporated these same rhetorical techniques into his Book of Mormon

      Davis shows that The Book of Mormon narrative contains many examples of its characters also using these oratorical techniques, the most visible formulation of which is found in Jacob 1:4 in which Nephi gives Jacob very explicit instructions on preaching that (other than his references to “plates”) could easily have been inserted into the pages of a 19th-century sermon composition manual: “if there were preaching which was sacred, or revelation which was great, or prophesying, that I [Jacob] should engraven the heads of them upon these plates, and touch upon them as much as it were possible” (see p. 91). The term Heads while not a familiar to the modern reader would have been quickly recognized by an early 19th century reader as familiar terminology used by the religious orator as topical notes highlighting important points to touch upon in the sermon.

      Although not an active Latter-day Saint himself, Davis writes generously for those still in the fold, providing room for Latter-day Saints to retain their faith in this book of LDS scripture while incorporating Davis’s new findings into a still orthodox understanding of inspired translation as described in LDS scripture, in Doctrine & Covenants 9:7-10. However, as shown by Avid Reader’s Amazon review of this book, apparently not all apologists will be satisfied with this option.

      One reviewer complained that— headings, outlines and summaries have been used for centuries by historians and other ancient writers, including Josephus and Aristotle, and that they would have been available somehow to the Book of Mormon’s ancient authors—is interesting since it actually supports Davis’s thesis. Take the preachers who wrote about the oratorical techniques described by Davis. They themselves, in formulating and promoting these 19th-century techniques, had access to and were informed by these very authors noted a reviewer. (see the note about Bishop Wilkins above, not to mention the pseudo-archaic book genre in 19th-century America that borrowed them as well)! Yet these ancient authors noted by siad reader (both living in Greco-Roman times) are not ancient enough to have informed the Book of Mormon’s purported ancient authors who themselves left Israel before the Babylonian exile, a time when outlines, headings and summaries are not known among ancient scribes and authors (and even LDS apologists now recognize that ancient scribal colophons are not the same thing—see Davis, p. 126).

       
      Davis has identified tell-tale signs within the Book of Mormon that give hints of Smith processes.  He also offers historical reference to Smith's becoming a trained Methodist orator.
      This sounds like a very interesting book and I'm wondering if anyone here has read it and would share your thoughts.
      <-------- Not King Benjamin

    • By bdouglas
      Two months ago someone from my extended family, Richard (not his real name), left the church.
      “I believe Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon,” he said.
      I spent an hour or so pushing back on this point. I brought up the complex geography of the BOM (“Fiction writers very rarely invent geography, and when they do it’s a very simple geography”); the language (“Who invents something like Reformed Egyptian? If you’re inventing a story about Jews from 600 BC you have them speaking Hebrew”); the various plates (“Someone could write a whole book on the various plates in the BOM alone, the abridgments, the abridgments of abridgments, the large plates, the small plates, what happened to these plates over the course of a thousand years”); the messiness yet internal consistency of the narrative (“Fiction is not messy, it is tidy, organized. But the BOM is untidy, messy, and there are loose ends everywhere. Why? Because it is not fiction"); etc., etc.
      But it was all to no effect. Richard has never been a reader, and most of what I said––well, it just didn’t register with him.
      But what I said next, did.
      “The Book of Mormon was originally rendered in a language Joseph Smith didn’t know.”
      “What?”
      “The Book of Mormon, the original text that Joseph Smith dictated, was not written in the English of that day. It was not the King James English of the Bible, nor was it the English of Joseph’s day. It was written in Early Modern English, a language which had been out of use for 200 years by 1827. This was a language Joseph Smith did not know and could not have known.”
      Long pause. I’d finally hit on something that Richard could grasp.
      "The presence of Early Modern English in the Book of Mormon is proof that Joseph Smith did not produce the book himself," I said.
      Maybe it would be more accurate to say that it is a different kind of proof, one that is easily grasped by someone like Richard, who is not going to respond to other proofs.
      Not that Richard is suddenly going to return to the church. I doubt that he will.
      But the presence of EModE in the BOM, when taken with all of the other proofs, makes it extremely unlikely, really impossible, that JS wrote the BOM.
      P.S. - Tried to edit headline but can't.
    • By Robert F. Smith
      A symposium on "EGYPT AND THE OLD TESTAMENT" will be held at the Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst, Gabelsbergerstr. 35, Munich/München, Germany, on 6-7 Dec 2019.
      The proceedings will be published as ÄAT (AEGYPTEN UND ALTES TESTAMENT) volume 100.
      More on the symposium can be found at https://www.freunde-abrahams.de/aegypten-und-altes-testament/  .
      ÄAT's spectrum covers the philological, art historical, and archaeological branches of Egyptology, as well as Old Testament exegesis, the archaeology, glyptics and epigraphy of Israel/Palestine and neighboring regions such as Sinai and Transjordan, literature and history of religions, from the Bronze Ages up to Greco-Roman and early Christian periods, as well as relevant aspects of research history.
       
    • By Bernard Gui
      At the end of Alma 37, Alma gives his final instructions to his faithful young son Helaman. After encouraging him always to be obedient to God’s commandments and to pray to God continually, Alma uses the Liahona as an object lesson to teach Helaman how to obtain eternal life through following the words of Christ. Using analogy, Alma compares the Liahona, the temporal compass provided by God to Lehi, with the words of Christ, the spiritual guide provided to all by God. In this remarkable passage, Alma, like all good teachers, repeats this image three times, and like a good Nephite teacher, he uses a parallelism to increase the impact.
      Alma employs the alternate parallel form, one of the most common and effective forms of poetic parallelism in the Book of Mormon. It appears hundreds of times. An alternate consists of two or more lines that are repeated in parallel order. The simple alternate form is outlined ABAB. Extended alternates are outlined ABCABC, etc. 
       Alma uses three extended alternates in rapid sequence to instruct his son. 
       A   For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, 
          B   which will point to you 
              C   a straight course to eternal bliss, 
      A   as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, 
           B   which would point unto them 
               C   a straight course to the promised land.
      The A phrase compares the ease of heeding the words of Christ with the ease of looking at the Liahona. The B phrase describes the purpose of A which is to point the course. The C phrase declares the final destination of those who follow A, salvation and arrival at the promised land.
       A   For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, 
         B   by following its course, 
             C   to the promised land, 
      A   shall the words of Christ, 
         B   if we follow their course,
             C  carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.
      The A phrase again compares the words of Christ with the Liahona, but in reversed order. The B phrase indicates what we should do with A – follow their directions, and the C phrase gives the destination of those who do B – the promised land and a far better place, eternal life. 
       A   for so was it with our fathers; 
         B    for so was it prepared for them,
            C   that if they would look they might live; 
      A   even so it is with us.
         B   The way is prepared, 
            C   and if we will look we may live forever.
      In this last alternate, Alma personalizes the analogies of the first two. The A phrase compares the Nephite fathers (Lehi and Nephi) with Alma and his son Helaman. The B phrase indicates that God prepared the ways of direction for all of them. The C phrase compares the physical salvation of the Nephite fathers by following the Liahona with the spiritual salvation promised to all of us who will look upon Christ.
      Alma concludes his instructions with another impassioned fatherly plea that his son rise to the greatness of his calling.
      This passage indicates deliberate logical planning on the part of Alma in giving crucial instructions to his son prior to his death. This is what Alma thought would be of most worth to his son - look to Christ. It gives us insight into the Nephite mind, especially that of a powerful and gifted leader. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and the beautiful intricacies that await in its pages for us to discover. (Thanks to Donald Parry for his marvelous edition of the Book of Mormon. Poetic Parallelism in the Book of Mormon: The Complete Text Reformatted. Maxwell Institute, 2007).
       Your comments are welcomed. 
       Here is the passage in context.
       
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