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Racist Doctrine in Come Follow Me Lesson Manual Already Distributed


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I was just reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish. In 2 Nephi 9:44, the word "tersura" ("smooth / polished") conveys the English "brightness" ... or, "brightness" in English conveys "smooth / polished" in other languages. PERHAPS "white" skin refers to smooth/polished/bright and "black" skin to wrinkled/dirty/non-reflecting. Skin condition can often convey righteous and wicked lifestyle choices (I recall several studies being posted in an older thread).

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On 2/3/2020 at 3:00 PM, bsjkki said:

I agree with you on this. Missed opportunity and most don't even know themanual online has updated information that should be relied on. I brought this up in Ward Council and only one other had even heard about it. Even the visiting high councilman was clueless. I wanted to make sure the Sunday School teachers were at least aware. I would hope the truth of the update and change was not a damage analysis because change/update with no announcement was viewed as 'less damaging' than a blanket announcement/email and clarification. 

The manual mentions on page 50 - "The Book of Mormon also states that a mark of dark skin came upon the
Lamanites after the Nephites separated from them. The nature and appearance of this mark are not fully 
understood
."

Alma 3:8 seems to indicate the mark had their origins before the separation of the two groups when it
mentions a very limited number of people.  

"And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, 
which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, 
who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men. And their brethren 
sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon 
Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women.   And this was done that their 
seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve 
his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their 
destruction
."

Does the phrase "the skins of the Lamanites were dark" give you a sense of misunderstanding of what
the Book of Mormon meant?

Why weren't Nephi, Jacob, Joseph, and Sam also cursed for supposedly marrying the Ishmaelitish women?
Is this because they were married before the Ishmaelitish women were cursed?  If yes, did they divorce
after the cursing?

Thanks,
Jim

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1 hour ago, theplains said:

The manual mentions on page 50 - "The Book of Mormon also states that a mark of dark skin came upon the
Lamanites after the Nephites separated from them. The nature and appearance of this mark are not fully 
understood
."

Alma 3:8 seems to indicate the mark had their origins before the separation of the two groups when it
mentions a very limited number of people.  

"And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, 
which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, 
who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men. And their brethren 
sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon 
Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women.   And this was done that their 
seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve 
his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their 
destruction
."

Does the phrase "the skins of the Lamanites were dark" give you a sense of misunderstanding of what
the Book of Mormon meant?

Why weren't Nephi, Jacob, Joseph, and Sam also cursed for supposedly marrying the Ishmaelitish women?
Is this because they were married before the Ishmaelitish women were cursed?  If yes, did they divorce
after the cursing?

Thanks,
Jim

It says, “Ishmaelitish women” not “the Ishmaelitish women” nor “all the women/daughters of Ishmael”, quite a distinction. It means the wives of Laman, Lemuel and the house of Ishmael. Laman and Lemuel’s wives were daughters of Ishmael and the Ishaelitish men’s wives are Ishmaelitish women by default.

The curse occurred after the separation of the two groups, as the scripture says.

The phrase "the skins of the Lamanites were dark" can be interpreted in many ways. but doesn't change the origin, purpose and eventual irrelevancy by the time the Lord visited and united the families (3 Nephi 2: 14-16), which was eventually undermined irrespective of either the curse or illumination (4 Nephi 1: 36-38).

Edited by CV75
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1 hour ago, theplains said:

The manual mentions on page 50 - "The Book of Mormon also states that a mark of dark skin came upon the
Lamanites after the Nephites separated from them. The nature and appearance of this mark are not fully 
understood
."

Alma 3:8 seems to indicate the mark had their origins before the separation of the two groups when it
mentions a very limited number of people.  

"And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, 
which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, 
who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men. And their brethren 
sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon 
Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women.   And this was done that their 
seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve 
his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their 
destruction
."

Does the phrase "the skins of the Lamanites were dark" give you a sense of misunderstanding of what
the Book of Mormon meant?

Why weren't Nephi, Jacob, Joseph, and Sam also cursed for supposedly marrying the Ishmaelitish women?
Is this because they were married before the Ishmaelitish women were cursed?  If yes, did they divorce
after the cursing?

Thanks,
Jim

Where do you get the impression that the cursing was a result of marrying the Ishmaelite women?  I don't recall reading any passages that say that.  

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53 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Where do you get the impression that the cursing was a result of marrying the Ishmaelite women?  I don't recall reading any passages that say that.  

Conflation is not differentiation and differentiation is not conflation.

But false implications of racism are always bad.

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51 minutes ago, CV75 said:

Conflation is not differentiation and differentiation is not conflation.

But false implications of racism are always bad.

Totally lost on how this applies to my question as to where you got the idea that the curse was a result of BoM people marrying children in Ishmael's family.  

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1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

Totally lost on how this applies to my question as to where you got the idea that the curse was a result of BoM people marrying children in Ishmael's family.  

I think you mistook me for theplains... :) I think you are asking him a good question.

I am saying that he is conflating a number of ideas from the text by riffing on the previous post or two and adding a perhaps-unnecessary, preemptive refutation of suggestions that the Book of Mormon is racist.

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3 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Where do you get the impression that the cursing was a result of marrying the Ishmaelite women?  I don't recall reading any passages that say that.  

I was just wondering if they (Sam and Nephi) inherited the curse by marrying (mixing) with those who
already had the curse. The Book of Mormon mentions several occurrences of mixing and inheriting the
same punishment/curse and I presumed maybe that meant marrying and following the false teachings 
(1 Nephi 13:30; 2 Nephi 5:23; Alma 3:8; Alma 35:10; Helaman 3:16). 

Alma 3:7-8 seems to indicate that the Lamanites of the future inherited dark skin from their forefathers of
the past which was initially put on Laman, Lemuel, the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women (which
appear to be the daughters of Ishmael and the children born to them via the marriage to Lehi's sons) when
they rebelled against Nephi on the ship voyage and after they arrived at their promised land.

Do you believe that the babies born to Laman and Lemuel, for example, already had dark skin or do you
believe their dark skin developed later as they began to grow up, acquire agency, and then commit acts
worthy of the judgment God is said to have pronounced on Laman, Lemuel, and the others?

That was the premise of my original question about the manual's teaching on page 50 - whether the dark
skin occurred before or after the Lamanites began to separate from the Nephites.

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4 hours ago, CV75 said:

The phrase "the skins of the Lamanites were dark" can be interpreted in many ways.

Thank you for your insight.

Maybe you can suggest to the writer(s) of the manual your many ways of interpreting that phrase.  It
would be helpful to include in the next version.

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2 hours ago, theplains said:

I was just wondering if they (Sam and Nephi) inherited the curse by marrying (mixing) with those who
already had the curse. The Book of Mormon mentions several occurrences of mixing and inheriting the
same punishment/curse and I presumed maybe that meant marrying and following the false teachings 
(1 Nephi 13:30; 2 Nephi 5:23; Alma 3:8; Alma 35:10; Helaman 3:16). 

Alma 3:7-8 seems to indicate that the Lamanites of the future inherited dark skin from their forefathers of
the past which was initially put on Laman, Lemuel, the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women (which
appear to be the daughters of Ishmael and the children born to them via the marriage to Lehi's sons) when
they rebelled against Nephi on the ship voyage and after they arrived at their promised land.

Do you believe that the babies born to Laman and Lemuel, for example, already had dark skin or do you
believe their dark skin developed later as they began to grow up, acquire agency, and then commit acts
worthy of the judgment God is said to have pronounced on Laman, Lemuel, and the others?

That was the premise of my original question about the manual's teaching on page 50 - whether the dark
skin occurred before or after the Lamanites began to separate from the Nephites.

All the passages attribute the dark skin to a curse by God so that Nephi’s posterity won’t mix with their seed.  

Now that the church has officially disavowed these racist ideas, we ought not try to come up with other theories about how their skin became dark.  Any theory that has any component of racial attributes is only going to set the church back and continue to do harm.  
 

Personally I think the easiest way for those who believe the BoM is a literal history (I’m not a believer in BoM historicity) is to just say that the authors of the book were biased and wrong.  God doesn’t change skin color or curse groups of people so that they don’t mix with other groups.  None of that is of God, it’s all fallible humans reflecting their cultural biases.  

 

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11 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Now that the church has officially disavowed these racist ideas, we ought not try to come up with other theories about how their skin became dark.  Any theory that has any component of racial attributes is only going to set the church back and continue to do harm.  
 

Personally I think the easiest way for those who believe the BoM is a literal history (I’m not a believer in BoM historicity) is to just say that the authors of the book were biased and wrong.  God doesn’t change skin color or curse groups of people so that they don’t mix with other groups.  None of that is of God, it’s all fallible humans reflecting their cultural biases. 

The historical record that their skins changed color (became dark) is not a theory and should not be
considered as racist in any way if the Book of Mormon is true.  It explains that it was caused by God
(Alma 3:8; 2 Nephi 5:23).  One even finds an occasion when their skin changes color back to white in 
3 Nephi 2:15.  And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites.

But I see that the Book of the Mormon (in Jacob 3:9) reveals an attitude that is racist: Wherefore, a
commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because
of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye
shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers
.

Since the Book of Mormon reveals the source of the dark skin being God Himself, no one should be
calling this racism.  The word racism can have several meanings - and if used incorrectly, can be very
inflammatory and detract from a friendly discussion.

I hope I have attempted to do this and without offending anyone.

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4 minutes ago, theplains said:

The historical record that their skins changed color (became dark) is not a theory and should not be
considered as racist in any way if the Book of Mormon is true.  It explains that it was caused by God
(Alma 3:8; 2 Nephi 5:23).  One even finds an occasion when their skin changes color back to white in 
3 Nephi 2:15.  And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites.

But I see that the Book of the Mormon (in Jacob 3:9) reveals an attitude that is racist: Wherefore, a
commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because
of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye
shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers
.

Since the Book of Mormon reveals the source of the dark skin being God Himself, no one should be
calling this racism.  The word racism can have several meanings - and if used incorrectly, can be very
inflammatory and detract from a friendly discussion.

I hope I have attempted to do this and without offending anyone.

There is no historical record to support your claim.  There is no anthropological record, no archaeological record, no DNA evidence record.  There is nothing scientific to support these dubious claims about skin color in the BoM.  NOTHING.  And the church has stated using extremely strong language that they disavow and condemn the kind of perspective you are promoting.  

People who believe in a historical BoM, need to wrestle with how they can continue to believe in historicity and at the same time support the church's very strong and explicit condemnation of curses and signs of curses being tied to skin color.  That is theological work that people like yourself need to do.  I gave my recommendation for what I think the easiest path forward is, just to attribute the statements in the book to racial bias by the authors reflecting their culture's perspective.  

As for word racism in the English language.  Racism has a specific meaning, you can't just redefine it because you believe God made statements in the BoM to support that idea.  Racism is what it is, even if you think God has a hand in it.  My recommendation is that you reinterpret your view of scripture.  Racism is racism, the church's current leaders aren't redefining racism to mean something different than what it means in the English language.  

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1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

People who believe in a historical BoM, need to wrestle with how they can continue to believe in historicity and at the same time support the church's very strong and explicit condemnation of curses and signs of curses being tied to skin color.  That is theological work that people like yourself need to do.  I gave my recommendation for what I think the easiest path forward is, just to attribute the statements in the book to racial bias by the authors reflecting their culture's perspective

The manual said, "Prophets affirm in our day that dark skin is not a sign of divine disfavor or cursing."

That sounds like an affirmation of dark-skinned people "in our day."

2 Nephi 5:21 says, "... they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly
fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of
blackness to come upon them
."

Do you believe that the church's statement is also a denial in the historical Book of Mormon event
described by the Nephites "in their day?"

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15 hours ago, theplains said:

Thank you for your insight.

Maybe you can suggest to the writer(s) of the manual your many ways of interpreting that phrase.  It
would be helpful to include in the next version.

The many [legitimate, non-racist] ways vetted by scholars have been widely published and discussed, but I think the online Come Follow Me manual (for example) offers a good religious take on it, which I think open-minded scholars can appreciate.

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13 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

All the passages attribute the dark skin to a curse by God so that Nephi’s posterity won’t mix with their seed.  

Now that the church has officially disavowed these racist ideas, we ought not try to come up with other theories about how their skin became dark.  Any theory that has any component of racial attributes is only going to set the church back and continue to do harm. 

Personally I think the easiest way for those who believe the BoM is a literal history (I’m not a believer in BoM historicity) is to just say that the authors of the book were biased and wrong.  God doesn’t change skin color or curse groups of people so that they don’t mix with other groups.  None of that is of God, it’s all fallible humans reflecting their cultural biases. 

This is even easier: the messages in these passages are not racist ideas, but racists will use them as such.

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Once again, more people ought to read Ethan Sproat's JBMS essay on "Skins as Garments in the Book of Mormon."

Quote

Alma 3:5–6 is comprised of two sentences, in each of which the word skin(s) appears. Commentaries handle the two sentences in one of three ways: (1) by treating both of them independently, as if two very different things were at issue; (2) by commenting on only the second of the two sentences, remaining silent about the first; or (3) by failing to comment on either sentence.3 All three of these approaches miss the fact that, when read in context, the use of skins in the second sentence appears to form part of a historical explanation of the use of skin in the first sentence. Here is the text:

“Now the heads of the Lamanites were shorn; and they were naked, save it were skin which was girded about their loins, and also their armor, which was girded about them, and their bows, and their arrows, and their stones, and their slings, and so forth. And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.” (Alma 3:5–6)4

According to a reading I will defend in the course of this article, this passage suggests the possibility that “the skins of the Lamanites” are to be understood as articles of clothing, the notable girdle of skin that these particular Lamanites wear to cover their nakedness. Significantly, these are the only two references to skins in Alma 3, which contains the Book of Mormon’s most thorough explanation of the Lamanite curse and the curse’s relationship to skins. Thus situated, Alma 3:5–6 might serve as an interpretive Rosetta stone. If both instances of skins in Alma 3:5–6 refer to clothing, then the other five references to various-colored or cursed skins in the Book of Mormon could also refer to clothing and not—as traditionally assumed—to human flesh pigmentation.

It is a very good essay but could have been strengthened by referring to passages that identical language and rhetorical purposes as that describing clean and filthy garments and skins:

2 Nephi 8:14 "clothed with purity, even with the robe of righteousness" Jacob speaking as a consecrated High Priest on the Day of Atonement

Jacob 1:19 "laboring...their blood might come upon our garments... and we would not be found spotless"

Jacob 3:5, "cursing which has come upon their skins..."

Jacob3:8-9 "their skins shall be whiter than yours

Try Mosiah 3:28, rid my garments of your blood (temple and high priest on day of atonement context)

Alma 5:21-24, garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness contrasted with prophets whose garments are cleansed, and are spotless, pure and white

Alma 7:25, garments spotless... in the kingdom of heaven

Alma 13:11-12, garments washed white through the blood of the Lamb... garments made white, being pure and spotless"

Alma 34:36

Helaman 9:31-34 (where the symbolic use and the literal use combine, as the blood on garments testify to the sins committed)

3 Nephi 19:25 (literal in a different way, transfiguration)  compare with Moroni 7: the sons of God,...we shall be like him... purified even as he is pure"

3 Nephi 27:19 "washed their garments in my blood"

4 Nephi 24 (pride and costly apparel)

Mormon 9:34, garments and the priestly obligation to testify to "rid our garments of the blood of our brethren")

Ether 12:37 "thy garments shall be made clean...sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father"

Ether 12:38, "my garments are not spotted with your blood"

Moroni 10:31, "put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion"   

And besides all of this, there are the comments in Nibley's Teachings from the Book of Mormon lectures, in Sorenson's Ancient American Setting, and Brant Gardner's Second Witness commentary, that explain with many examples, that in the Ancient Near east, language very like that in the Book of Mormon can be shown to be referring to lifestyle and culture, rather than appearance. For example, see Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1: Lecture 18

Quote

Now this cursing. There’s a great deal said about this race business in the Book of Mormon. It’s very clear what it is—it’s a cultural thing. It tells us here in verse 21, “Wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome.” That doesn’t mean they had complexions of milk, that they were pale white and ghostly. That’s not healthy anyway. Nor does it mean that the others were coal black. Black is much too strong a word to use here, if you are using it literally. But, as I’ve said before, it applies just as much in shāḥōr and bān as it does in Hebrew and Aramaic, and also in Arabic. Anything that’s abyaḍ is good, delightful, pleasant; and everything that’s aswad isn’t. In the paintings, whether it’s Greek vase paintings or wall paintings in Egypt, the people who live in the bayt al-shaîr, “the houses of hair, out in the desert are always painted with dark complexions. The people who live in the bayt al-hajar, “the houses of stone,” are always depicted with light complexions. The women never went out; they would paint their faces with white lead, as a matter of fact. It’s a cultural thing. Of course, if you live that way, you become dark. Also, the camps of natives, Asiatics or anything like that, become garbage dumps. They live by hunting and plunder. They are not cultivating the soil and are not bound to work too much. So they become slovenly and dark in their manner. They become dirty, different, smelly and all that sort of thing. That’s what it means by loathsome—dirty, smelly, not very well groomed or anything like that. This is a cursing. When you see a person who is white and exceedingly fair and delightsome, you are not going to see a platinum blond necessarily. Though you do find them. This is the thing that always bowled me over among the Hopis. Every tenth child is a blond, not an albino at all. They will have red hair and blue eyes. I thought, well it’s an oddity—some missionary, some Scandinavians have intermarried with them. That wasn’t it at all. These were all native Hopi kids, and every tenth one was a perfectly good blond, as blond as anybody you ever saw. And yet it was quite normal. Nobody was upset by it or anything like that.

One was “exceedingly fair and delightsome,” and the other was a skin of blackness. As I said, shāḥōr is a skin of blackness, which means dark. A good source for that would be Morris Jastrow’s Aramaic Dictionary. For the word black, it gives dark, unpleasant—everything sort of uncomplimentary. We don’t need to linger on that. Here it is [in verse 23]; it says it’s a cultural affair. If you mixed your seed with them, you got the same cursing. If you intermarry with them, you are sharing their culture, and you become just like them. In other words, it is not a racial thing because you can get it yourself. “And because of their cursing which was upon them, they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.” Well, there are lots of races like that. All you have to do is watch Channel 26 and you can be introduced to all sorts of tribes like that. With this National Geographic Studies you see tribes like that everywhere. Not that they don’t have their virtues, and the Lamanites certainly did. But racial change isn’t necessary for this at all. After all, they are members of the same family; we know that.

In all of this there is a huge difference between those who settle for a proof-text approach to the Book of Mormon, and a unconscious but obvious presentist interpretive framework, and those who read comprehensively in the text and explore the relevant cultural backgrounds, not "Seeking to make a man an offender for a word" (Isaiah 29) as opposed to those who seek to understand "whether these things are so" (Acts 17), seeking to remove the beams from our own eye, (even when something seems so obvious from a proof-text and presentist reading), that we might see clearly.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
clarity
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2 hours ago, theplains said:

The manual said, "Prophets affirm in our day that dark skin is not a sign of divine disfavor or cursing."

That sounds like an affirmation of dark-skinned people "in our day."

2 Nephi 5:21 says, "... they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly
fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of
blackness to come upon them
."

Do you believe that the church's statement is also a denial in the historical Book of Mormon event
described by the Nephites "in their day?"

People with dark skins exist, yes, that is true.  It is a direct result of evolutionary factors and has nothing to do with God.  God doesn't alter skin color.  

The church is forcing individuals to interpret the BoM however they wish to.  The church's position on racism is clear.  I believe its in direct conflict with a more traditional interpretation of the BoM.  And this forces the issue for people like yourself to figure out how you want to interpret the BoM passages in light of the current church statements.  

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2 hours ago, CV75 said:

This is even easier: the messages in these passages are not racist ideas, but racists will use them as such.

The passages in the BoM, if interpreted literally, are racist.  How could a literalist interpret them in any other light?  

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35 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

The passages in the BoM, if interpreted literally, are racist.  How could a literalist interpret them in any other light?  

First please show how a literalist uses "light" (perspective, connections, context) and then show how he would interpret the text in any kind of light and still remain a literalist without words that literally contextualize the text as racist in its meaning.

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1 hour ago, CV75 said:

First please show how a literalist uses "light" (perspective, connections, context) and then show how he would interpret the text in any kind of light and still remain a literalist without words that literally contextualize the text as racist in its meaning.

This is a question a literalist would have to answer, I could only speculate.  

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