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Church's Increasing Candor Re: Its History - Saints, Vol. 2


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8 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Yes, great points.  I'm trying to live an examined life myself, and that process constantly keeps me returning to ideas that I previously held, and reevaluating them.  Perhaps its a pipe dream to think that any large number of humans will ever be in a similar orientation.  Life can be challenging enough without even traversing down this road.  

BTW, lately I'm coming to the opinion that philosophy and religion are so intertwined that its impossible to separate the two.  Makes me smile when I hear that statement about the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.  Sometimes Satan is telling the truth!  :D

Well that mingling makes it just as complicated as life itself.   Good and evil are mingled everywhere, and especially when we think, whcih is always happening anyway ;).

So pretty much I just ignore it as the usual Satanic tautology without much meaning.  Scriptures ARE the philosophies of men!  If they come through a human hand and brain they can be nothing more or less!

The whole key is that we get our own light to figure out which they are, and which portions are from God and which are not.

Recently saw that movie "Harriet" and highly recommend it as a "religious" film.  Don't know how much was "fiction" but do we ever know that about anything?  ;)

Amazing how many biblical quotes there are justifying slavery.   Great glimpse into that world view and how it was justified as well as how following our own compass makes us free.

THAT was the whole movie really- "Follow your own compass and it will make you free".  Action, suspense, and some strong intellectual points in one movie is pretty rare, not to mention a few watery eye moments.  Good flick!

 

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9 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Well that mingling makes it just as complicated as life itself.   Good and evil are mingled everywhere, and especially when we think, whcih is always happening anyway ;).

So pretty much I just ignore it as the usual Satanic tautology without much meaning.  Scriptures ARE the philosophies of men!  If they come through a human hand and brain they can be nothing more or less!

The whole key is that we get our own light to figure out which they are, and which portions are from God and which are not.

Recently saw that movie "Harriet" and highly recommend it as a "religious" film.  Don't know how much was "fiction" but do we ever know that about anything?  ;)

Amazing how many biblical quotes there are justifying slavery.   Great glimpse into that world view and how it was justified as well as how following our own compass makes us free.

THAT was the whole movie really- "Follow your own compass and it will make you free".  Action, suspense, and some strong intellectual points in one movie is pretty rare, not to mention a few watery eye moments.  Good flick!

 

Thanks, I'm looking forward to seeing Harriet.  My wife and I were really impressed with the lead actor singing at the Oscars, she sounded amazing.  

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

True.  But I think widespread dissemination of increasingly candid portrayals of our history is happening.

I consider myself fortunate to have had my dad in my life, as he was quite familiar with the history of the Church, and so was a stabilizing influence for me as I started encountering troubling elements of it.

My "innoculation" experience began when I was about ten years old.  I became a fan of a series of books called "The Storm Testament" written by Lee Nelson.  These books were "historical fiction" along the lines of Gerald Lund's "The Work and the Glory" series.  That is, these books invented a fictional protagonist, Dan Storm, who was a young member of the 19th-century Church, and who had a series of adventures in Missouri, then Nauvoo, then Utah . . . and so on.  He interacts with real historical figures, and many of the stories take place in the context of real events in church history.  The fictional antagonist is D-ick Boggs, the (fictional) cousin of Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs.

I enjoyed these books until I came to the fourth one, the plot summary for which is as follows:

This book then proceeds to give a fictionalized, but still more or less accurate, description of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.  I still recall the feeling I had at reading how the members of the Church in Iron County ended up attacking the wagon train (dressed as Indians, along with some Paiutes), the detection of the deception, and the eventual horrific decision to kill all of the immigrants.  

I read the book from a naive point of view.  I remember feeling a bit uneasy, as I kept expecting the narrative to change, that the Mormon militiamen would have a turn of heart, would recognize the depravity of plan to attack and kill the migrants, and would figure out a way to change course and stop the carnage and let the migrants go.  But that's not what happened.  Instead, the story played out and . . . well, we all know what happened.

This bothered me.  A lot.  I had my first dose of "cognitive dissonance" in a fundamental way.  I could not reconcile the narrative of the MMM with the narrative I had been taught all my life about the early days of the Church and the heroic pioneers who crossed the plains.  I'm not sure I had a "crisis of faith," but if not, whatever I experienced was right next to it.

I took the book to my dad, who I knew was well-versed in the history of the Church.  I told him what I had read, and that I did not think it was true because . . . it was too horrible.  My dad, who was reading the newspaper at the time, but the paper down and we had a discussion for a bit over an hour.  He told me in clear and concise terms that the narrative I had read was pretty much correct (except the fictional part about Dan Storm helping a blind migrant woman escape the massacre).  He said he understood how disturbing this story is.  

He then spent quite a bit of time outlining the context of the event.  He explained the persecutions which the Saints had faced in Missouri and Nauvoo, how these persecutions had fomented some real anger and bitterness among some members of the Church which had probably never been fully addressed/resolved.  He explained the difficulties and privations of the trek West, which trek was the consequence of the persecution of the Church members in Missouri and Nauvoo.  He explained the first ten years the church members spent in the territory.  He explained the war hysteria which preceded the MMM, including A) the coming of Johnston's Army, B) the order from Brigham Young to stockpile supplies and the consequent friction with the migrants (who had anticipated being able to purchase food/materials in Utah before making the last leg of the journey to California), and C) George A. Smith's "Salt Sermon."  He explained the relative isolation of the Saints in southern Utah.  He was careful here, telling me that he wanted me to understand the whole situation, but that I should not take his explanation of the circumstances preceding the massacre as somehow justifying or excusing the acts of the members of the Church.

He then spent some time talking about the Church as a group of flawed people.  He also characterized the 19th century as being a very different place from our current life (this was in the 80s).  He said we should not condone or excuse the massacre, but neither should we ignore the context in which it happened.  He also said I should keep a distinction between the doctrines of the Church and the members of the Church and how they implement those doctrines, and that flaws and mistakes - even terrible acts like the massacre - do not change the reality that God lives, that Jesus Christ is His Son, and that The Book of Mormon is true.

I remember feeling very different about the Church after this discussion with my dad.  I felt more sober.  I felt more . . . realistic.  Looking back, I think the Restored Gospel ceased at that point to be simply a series of stories sung about during Sunday School.  It became something more.  It became . . . more real to me.  It was not an altogether pleasant process.  My childish perception of the Church was idyllic, which was never going to be sustainable.  A transition to someting more durable was necessary.

Some years later I graduated from high school and joined the Army.  During my training I had a series of written communications with my dad in which I asked him about all sorts of things about the Church, the Gospel, and so on.  I asked him what had happened to the Sword of Laban.  I asked him about polygamy.  I asked him about how women felt about polygamy (those who actually experienced it).  I asked him about blacks and the priesthood.  I asked him about Joseph Smith's polygamy.  I asked about the Liahona.  Anything that piqued my interest.

My dad, who had a large library of church history books (and also, IIRC, a set of "Infobase" CD-ROMS with additional materials), and who was our ward's Gospel Doctrine teacher at the time, wrote me long, detailed responses to my inquiries, with references and everything.  It was an amazing experience.  I was exhilarated at finding out that there were deep and complex and nuanced details about the simple Gospel stories I had been taught as a child (mostly by my mom, who created a series of illustrated church history lessons she kept in a looseleaf binder, which she used to teach lessons to us every Sunday).  And that the beautiful and profound truths of the Gospel can be accepted as true despite the many flaws and errors of the Saints (even terrible things like the MMM).  He closed most of his letters with an exhortation that I continue to study and be curious about the Gospel, but that I retain in focus what he called the "planks" of a testimony, which were, IIRC, that God lives, that Jesus Christ is His Son, that the Priesthood is His Power, and The Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God.  Everything else, he said, is "parsley on the side of the plate" (or some such similar metaphor).

I will always be grateful to my parents.  To my mother, who through sheer force of will taught her children many lessons about Church history and the scriptures.  And to my father, who helped me in times of potential cognitive dissonance, who taught me that faith and knowledge are complementary to each other, that studying scholarship pertaining to the Church and to the Gospel can and should augment faith in the Gospel, even though such efforts have required me to move beyond the simplified and idyllic version I was taught as a child.  But that is, I think, as it should be.  As Paul put it: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

My parents "inoculated" me by teaching me to study through reading and prayer, and to seek to understand difficult truths in measured and circumspect and faithful ways.

Thanks,

-Smac

Smac, I was a 43 year old when I first experienced the cog dis you speak of. I had no-one to speak to. My parents were never into the history side of the church and my mother was very active but my dad because of a disability stayed home mostly. But I don't think he had any desire to read scriptures or learn church history.

The day I had cog dis is when I came across the non LDS site "The Wives of Joseph Smith". Many make fun of those that didn't learn of his marriages, glad that now many understand people like me. And I also didn't know about the MMM.  That was a huge shock also. But the day I saw the site on Joseph's wives was like a car wreck..everything in slow motion. I walked outside and saw my neighbor across the street. She and I were in the RS presidency. I asked her what she knew about JS's polygamy and his wives' ages etc. She looked angry and said that it is all anti and false. Her mother was a non member and was always telling her about these things so my friend didn't believe her. So after that I kept my mouth shut except for asking my visiting teachers and one of them said she didn't want to know anything about it and wanted to keep her testimony. That kept my mouth shut tightly afterwards except for when I was called to teach Primary and had to tell the 1st counselor and bishop "no", because by then I had jumped into the rabbit hole of a lot of research on some anti sites before venturing to this site and my testimony was compromised. The first counselor understood my angst because he had gone through the same thing but survived but sadly moved soon after, so didn't have him to help me. My bishop didn't help much at all except for having a special Sacrament meeting surrounding Joseph Smith and how wonderful he was. He made a point to tell one of my sons to tell me to listen closely to the talks, not those words but that was weird. So for months/years it has been held inside and I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. My neighborhood/ward were mostly active, one or two were inactive and one was a non member. I would drive down the road thinking how everyone was unaware but me. Probably not true now though and maybe even in their own silent world.

But I appreciate you sharing all that you have Smac! Glad you had so much support from parents to get through it. I'm now 58 and still on the bandwagon. 😞

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Has anyone ever been excommunicated for publishing details about our history that the church itself is now publishing?

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3 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

I was just "wowing" at the quote you posted.

I usually just buy cheap chromebooks and have them at various locations, and then there's the phone, and then a microsoft machine I seldom use because I am not a windows fan at all, with all the security garbage one needs to worry about.  So I have probably 5 devices I use to post here, all have their own quirks.  And of course deleting the "abn" did not work because when I hit enter, it just automatically put it in anyway!  :(  I will try it on a microsoft machine if I get a chance.

Being a convert, there is a lot I have not run into before, and this was a major miss in my LDS education so I appreciate it.

I am dumbfounded that Pres W. could have just said all those words through inspiration, spontaneously on the spot in a huge public meeting as that must have been.  I am called upon fairly regularly to give the prayer circle prayer which is typically by guidelines restricted to about 3 minutes, including the repetition, making the officiators part about a minute and a half, and I have trouble saying that much, and it is a tad ;)  less profound..... just a tad of course.  ;) 

But man, the details in that man's mind through inspiration were just mind-boggling to me.   Thanks again!

I think it was written out previously and read. It was read every session by various General Authorities

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3 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

And even before that, they need to understand that they are starting on a journey OF " thesis, antithesis, synthesis", and how many understand that principle?

It's almost as if one needs first to understand a philosophical approach before one can do the philosophy and FIND ideas like " thesis, antithesis, synthesis" which will enable them to get beyond getting stuck in the "antithesis" stage.

In climbing a staircase as a blind man, one never knows how many steps there are yet ahead and one may turn back only half way up.

Jacob's ladder is often a bit steeper than we think.   I am so thankful that I had all that philosophy stuff in my head before I found the church or there is no chance I would be here today.

To me THAT is the challenge.

Kevin C sees it in posting on the Perry Scheme, that becomes the flashlight allowing us to see those steps ahead before we get to them as we navigate through the clouds on the ladder upward.  ;)

But then how does one get folks to find and accept that this is a journey in the first place, and provide them with the tools to make the journey?

It's a Catch 22, and most will not even get that reference.  ;)

 

 

Too many critics are perpetually stuck in the antithesis stage. And too many members are in a loop of ever doubting but never coming to a resolution. 

It’s as much a personal behavioral issue as anything else. See the parable of the sower. Or Lehi’s dream. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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1 hour ago, Tacenda said:

Smac, I was a 43 year old when I first experienced the cog dis you speak of. I had no-one to speak to. My parents were never into the history side of the church and my mother was very active but my dad because of a disability stayed home mostly. But I don't think he had any desire to read scriptures or learn church history.

The day I had cog dis is when I came across the non LDS site "The Wives of Joseph Smith". Many make fun of those that didn't learn of his marriages, glad that now many understand people like me. And I also didn't know about the MMM.  That was a huge shock also. But the day I saw the site on Joseph's wives was like a car wreck..everything in slow motion. I walked outside and saw my neighbor across the street. She and I were in the RS presidency. I asked her what she knew about JS's polygamy and his wives' ages etc. She looked angry and said that it is all anti and false. Her mother was a non member and was always telling her about these things so my friend didn't believe her. So after that I kept my mouth shut except for asking my visiting teachers and one of them said she didn't want to know anything about it and wanted to keep her testimony. That kept my mouth shut tightly afterwards except for when I was called to teach Primary and had to tell the 1st counselor and bishop "no", because by then I had jumped into the rabbit hole of a lot of research on some anti sites before venturing to this site and my testimony was compromised. The first counselor understood my angst because he had gone through the same thing but survived but sadly moved soon after, so didn't have him to help me. My bishop didn't help much at all except for having a special Sacrament meeting surrounding Joseph Smith and how wonderful he was. He made a point to tell one of my sons to tell me to listen closely to the talks, not those words but that was weird. So for months/years it has been held inside and I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. My neighborhood/ward were mostly active, one or two were inactive and one was a non member. I would drive down the road thinking how everyone was unaware but me. Probably not true now though and maybe even in their own silent world.

But I appreciate you sharing all that you have Smac! Glad you had so much support from parents to get through it. I'm now 58 and still on the bandwagon. 😞

Nice to hear another part of your story, thanks for sharing.  I think its unfortunate, the tribal mentality that infects all kinds of groups, not just Mormon culture, but along political lines or other ideologies as well.  The knee jerk responses, attacks on any information that might conflict with a person's paradigm.  These are evolutionary responses to attacks, so it takes a lot of practice and maturity to try and not respond in these ways.  Any ideology thats not open to inspection, criticism, investigation, is foundationally a very weak one.  The sad thing is that when you approach a friend or family member that they might respond this way.  Learning more about communication skills, I've learned that listening and reflecting back to the person in need are two of the most effective ways of helping those who are struggling.  They often will find solutions on their own if we can just show empathy and use good communications skills.

Better yet, I think following the example of Jesus (love you enemies approach) is an invitation into learning valuable things from people with very different perspectives.  There is so much good out there, I find it unfortunate when people are turned away because of prejudice and ignorance. 

 

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41 minutes ago, pogi said:

Has anyone ever been excommunicated for publishing details about our history that the church itself is now publishing?

Of course not!  The church has never done such a thing.  They also never have hidden any history they have always been perfectly transparent.  

(Is it April 1st yet?) :yahoo:

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13 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Too many critics are perpetually stuck in the antithesis stage. And too many members are in a loop of ever doubting but never coming to a resolution. 

It’s as much a personal behavioral issue as anything else. See the parable of the sower. Or Lehi’s dream. 

The ironic thing is that those critics stuck in the antithesis stage are really a mirror image of orthodox members stuck in the thesis stage.  We need more people getting to the synthesis stage of life.  A thoughtful podcast on this very topic I recently listened to from Stephen Carter you might find interesting.  

https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/episode-51-returning-to-church-without-returning-to-church/

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7 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

I think it will have to be, or no one will be left believing it.  Philosophies come and go and this, God's own philosophy, has become buried beneath man's constructed histories, which have clouded the treasure below.

I don't think things have changed much as far as I can tell in regards to interest and study in the last 45 years, as I remember in all my wards a few who were known to be more interested in history and scholarship, but most being more concerned with the quality of life for family, friends, and those they served.

Otoh, we now have a much more personally involved study program if done correctly that seems to me to be more than just encouraging members to read scriptures more (which has been the usual mode of past study programs imo) and people will need to find things to fill their study time.  Add the greater rigor in seminary and institute and there may be a significant movement.  

I do think there will likely be changes of certain attitudes, such as idealizing habits and seeing the Church as so American.  If the door is opened for other cultures to have impact, that could drive some major change there.  

Edited by Calm
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14 minutes ago, Calm said:

So you have actual examples or are you just going to go with sarcasm.

All the examples I know that have been claimed over the years were more complicated when details were known, though there were a few that I think might be candidates but without hearing from the bishop or SP, hard to know for sure.

To @pogi 's question, "Has anyone ever been excommunicated for publishing details about our history that the church itself is now publishing?" 

https://www.pbs.org/mormons/interviews/quinn.html

D. Michael Quinn is a historian of Mormonism and former Brigham Young University professor who was excommunicated from the LDS Church in 1993, after publishing research into controversial subjects in church history. In this interview, Quinn describes his excommunication and the difficulties faced by gay Mormons. He also explains how his personal experiences of revelation have preserved his belief in Mormon doctrine, despite his conflicts with the church. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on Jan. 6, 2006.

Edited by Tacenda
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The Salt Lake Temple Dedication services,  "Contains an account of activities and program in connection with the temple dedication, April 6-24". Sadly it's closed to research

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50 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Nice to hear another part of your story, thanks for sharing.  I think its unfortunate, the tribal mentality that infects all kinds of groups, not just Mormon culture, but along political lines or other ideologies as well.  The knee jerk responses, attacks on any information that might conflict with a person's paradigm.  These are evolutionary responses to attacks, so it takes a lot of practice and maturity to try and not respond in these ways.  Any ideology thats not open to inspection, criticism, investigation, is foundationally a very weak one.  The sad thing is that when you approach a friend or family member that they might respond this way.  Learning more about communication skills, I've learned that listening and reflecting back to the person in need are two of the most effective ways of helping those who are struggling.  They often will find solutions on their own if we can just show empathy and use good communications skills.

Better yet, I think following the example of Jesus (love you enemies approach) is an invitation into learning valuable things from people with very different perspectives.  There is so much good out there, I find it unfortunate when people are turned away because of prejudice and ignorance. 

 

Thanks for your awesome compassion, hope_for_things! 😍

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47 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

D. Michael Quinn is a historian of Mormonism and former Brigham Young University professor who was excommunicated from the LDS Church in 1993, after publishing research into controversial subjects in church history [emphasis added].

Quintessential post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy.

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1 hour ago, Calm said:

I don't think things have changed much as far as I can tell in regards to interest and study in the last 45 years, as I remember in all my wards a few who were known to be more interested in history and scholarship, but most being more concerned with the quality of life for family, friends, and those they served.

Otoh, we now have a much more personally involved study program if done correctly that seems to me to be more than just encouraging members to read scriptures more (which has been the usual mode of past study programs imo) and people will need to find things to fill their study time, add more rigor in seminary and institute, there may be a significant movement.  

I do think there will likely be changes of certain attitudes, such as idealizing habits and seeing the Church as so American.  If the door is opened for other cultures to have impact, that could drive some major change there.  

The idea would be no National cultures at all only church culture. That's probably a pipe dream.

Pass it over here. ;)

 

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57 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

To @pogi 's question, "Has anyone ever been excommunicated for publishing details about our history that the church itself is now publishing?" 

https://www.pbs.org/mormons/interviews/quinn.html

D. Michael Quinn is a historian of Mormonism and former Brigham Young University professor who was excommunicated from the LDS Church in 1993, after publishing research into controversial subjects in church history. In this interview, Quinn describes his excommunication and the difficulties faced by gay Mormons. He also explains how his personal experiences of revelation have preserved his belief in Mormon doctrine, despite his conflicts with the church. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on Jan. 6, 2006.

There was more to it then that, he's still a believer

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1 hour ago, Calm said:

So you have actual examples or are you just going to go with sarcasm.

All the examples I know that have been claimed over the years were more complicated when details were known, though there were a few that I think might be candidates but without hearing from the bishop or SP, hard to know for sure.

Stories are typically more complicated than they seem on face value and I'm not really interested in debating the topic to this audience.  Too many defend the church at all costs participants.  

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33 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Quintessential post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy.

nevermind

Edited by Tacenda
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17 minutes ago, Calm said:

Quinn did not attend the council, which was certainly his right.  If I ever got to that point, I doubt if I would attend mine.  But it does leave anything he says about the council as secondhand unfortunately.

The one thing we have from his SP (firsthand) that I am aware of shows it was more than that.

https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Mormonism_and_Church_discipline/Scholars/D._Michael_Quinn

What does that even matter? ETA: Nevermind, just read the link, sorry. Also, I noticed that it mentioned Lavina Fielding Anderson. Off subject but I recently heard that Lavina has never gone inactive and continues to attend church and that she has tried to join the church again, but has been told no. Have you heard anything like this, curious if true. Nevermind again, just found the answer! I'm dumbfounded that the church would turn her down like that, upsetting to say the least. https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2019/09/05/writer-excommunicated/

Edited by Tacenda
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1 hour ago, Calm said:

So you have actual examples or are you just going to go with sarcasm?

All the examples I know that have been claimed over the years were more complicated when details were known, though there were a few that I think might be candidates but without hearing from the bishop or SP, hard to know for sure.

This isn't exactly what you are looking for, but David Wright, former professor of Hebrew at BYU, and currently at Brandeis University, was excommunicated for his articles in Sunstone and Metcalfe's New Approaches presenting some of his reasons and evidence for the Book of Mormon being a 19th century production of Joseph Smith.  I don't think he would be excommunicated today for the same publications.  The opinion that the BM is 19th cent. in origin is not as controversial as it once was.  There are no additional "complicating details."

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2 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Of course not!  The church has never done such a thing.  They also never have hidden any history they have always been perfectly transparent.  

(Is it April 1st yet?) :yahoo:

Not really sure what you are saying here or if you are just being sarcastic. This is not an area where I have any deep knowledge, just the major ones that we have all read about where scholars have been excommunicated. Their stories were not about individuals that lived scholarly lives consisting of one note, which appears to be foundational to your accusation. They each were complex individuals with life histories that did not begin or end with critical writings about Church history. 

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