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Neutral Scholarship Re: Joseph Smith - Is it Even Possible?


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17 hours ago, Storm Rider said:

A scholar is neither an apologist or critic.

And yet Ritner is both a scholar and a critic.

And Gee and Muhlestein are both scholars and apologists.

17 hours ago, Storm Rider said:

There is an element of curiosity and an eagerness to discover facts. Of course scholarship can be neutral and it is easily distinguishable in the writing style of the scholar. 

I don't care to comment on individuals; the critics mentioned bore me; they move from the banal to complete deceitfulness. I wish them well and pray for the salvation of their souls. 

I do think it is more rare that one simply leaves the Church, finds a new home, and leaves the past behind them. I have met several individuals that have done so, but it does seem that some, most?, have a horrible time following a path of peace out of the Church. 

I wonder if the "squeaky wheels," those who have left and make a big and ongoing hullabaloo about it (John Dehlin, Bill Reel, Sam Young, RFM, etc.), end up giving us members a false impression about the prevalence of hostile feelings from those who have left.

I have a number of family members and friends who have left the Church and are quite adept at leaving it alone.  They just don't care about it anymore.

Thanks,

-Smac

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11 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

As an exmormon myself, it was very difficult knowing that I would by virtue of leaving the church already be considered an enemy by some members. That is very painful, especially when the majority of my friends and family of origin are LDS.

Can you imagine how that might feel? 

Pretty lousy.

But then, considering those who leave to be de facto "enemies" contravenes what the Church teaches us to do.

11 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

The church is not neutral about leavers. 

Agreed.  The Church regularly extends the hand of fellowship to those that leave.

Some rank-and-file members (including myself) sometimes mess up by injecting hostility into a relationship where patience and love should prevail.

Thanks,

-Smac

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44 minutes ago, smac97 said:

And yet Ritner is both a scholar and a critic.

And Gee and Muhlestein are both scholars and apologists.

I wonder if the "squeaky wheels," those who have left and make a big and ongoing hullabaloo about it (John Dehlin, Bill Reel, Sam Young, RFM, etc.), end up giving us members a false impression about the prevalence of hostile feelings from those who have left.

I have a number of family members and friends who have left the Church and are quite adept at leaving it alone.  They just don't care about it anymore.

Thanks,

-Smac

My thoughts on being a scholar was not meant to propose that one could not be a scholar while also being a critic or apologist. However, if one is a critic or apologist then they should be known for being so. A scholar is just doing research and writes from a neutral position; they report facts and let the chips fall where they may. In other words, one can be a scholar, write about Mormonism or Joseph Smith, and not be an apologist or critic. 

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1 hour ago, california boy said:

I don't think anyone is saying that the LDS Church follows ex-Mormons around persecuting them.  I also don't believe there are ex-Mormons going around persecuting members.  Maybe you could give some examples of the harassing and persecution members of the Church have had to face.  See if you can name some persecutions that members themselves have not done to some who have left.

Unlike ordinary members of the LDS faith, who simply do not spend their lives trying to find systematic fault with ex-Mormons, there are in fact plenty of ex-Mormons who do in fact spend their lives in publicly-funded efforts to destroy the LDS Church and its members.  They found organizations and publish anti-Mormon hate propaganda by the ton, only now much of it is done online.  The effort has gone on now for nearly two centuries.

1 hour ago, california boy said:

I can tell you my experience with members of the Church when I left.  My family had nothing to do with me for 13 years.  Never invited to any family events, reunions, baptisms, birthdays, missionary farewells, holidays, nothing.  While I tried to stay in contact with them, it ended up being a one way street.  At some point, I got the message.  

As far as ward and stake members, I only ever heard from 3 people ever again.  I didn't think of them as the enemy.  But it was hard to think that they were still my friends.  

I do want to say that after 13 years, my family has decided that I could be a part of them now.  Those painful years are water under the bridge.  Both my partner and I are now invited to family events.  The scars are still there.  But hopefully over time, healing will take place.  

Partly why I point this out, is this animosity is not a one way street.  Both sides engage in less than Christlike behavior at times.  We are all humans with flaws and emotions that sometimes cloud our judgement.  

Each parting of the ways will be distinct, and that is understandable.  People are flawed, and we mustn't expect every disjuncture to include respect and kindness from both sides.  The hurt is genuine, and people may not all be paragons of virtue in human relationships.  Your own assessment sounds reasonably accurate, leaving room for reconciliation of sorts.  Call it "repentance" from both sides, if you want.  A learning experience.  However, these are family and personal friendships you are pointing to.  Not organizational efforts to attack individual former members.  That is the crucial difference.  That doesn't justify the personal failures you are pointing to, but neither does it make them systematic.

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

The specific reasons no doubt vary from person to person.  There do, however, seem to be some common trends/characteristics amongst those who leave but "can't leave it alone."

Except that there seem to be plenty of people who, having previously "come into contact with JS and the Restoration," do not array themselves against the Church, who are generally indifferent to it (not unlike your wife's perspective on Catholicism).

Unless you expand the definition of "enemy". An enemy is one who actively opposes. But an enemy might also be one who does nothing——like the Harvard prof at Harvard that Bushman talks about, who learned it a little about Mormonism and pronounced it "garbage". He is casting his vote, even if he never gives JS or the BOM another thought.

This is not to say this yay or nay vote must necessarily happen overnight. It took Brigham Young two years to make up his mind after having encountered the BOM. Maybe some people might need a whole lifetime, and then some additional missionary work on the other side, before coming down on one side or the other.

 

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4 hours ago, bdouglas said:

In my opinion, speaking as a non-scholar, the neutral scholarship model doesn’t work very well. I’ve talked to ex-Mormons who still, even now, think Richard Bushman is a closet unbeliever. Why? Because in his writings he tries so hard to be neutral, impartial. Now Bushman really isn’t a closet unbeliever. He is very much a believer. But it is interesting to me that a while back he had to issue a statement saying that his beliefs today are the same as they were when he was a missionary. He believes the gold plates existed, etc. He was setting the record straight.

Why did he have to do this in the first place? Because when you read his stuff (at least some of it) you can’t tell what he thinks, or where he stands on the big questions. In other words, the “trumpet gives an uncertain sound.”

On the one hand, if a believer spends time in his scholarly work engaging in blatant apologetics, he gets hit for not being scholarly enough.  On the other hand, if he constantly makes pious and faith-promoting statements, he takes a hit for being just an apologist.  He is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't.  People like Bushman and Arrington do have august professional reputations for a reason.  To them, their faith doesn't require gilding the lily.  In addition, they bend over backwards trying to be kind and considerate to those whose faith is not strong. 

4 hours ago, bdouglas said:

Now contrast Bushman with Hugh Nibley or B. H. Roberts. They are at least the equal of Bushman in terms of scholarship, but the reader is never in any doubt about where they stand on the big questions.

False.  Any number of ex-Mormons have made the ridiculous claim that they are both closet unbelievers.  Both Nibley and Roberts.

4 hours ago, bdouglas said:

As a layperson, I have tried to read some of the impartial scholarship produced, and mostly given up on it. As one who is vitally interested in church apologetics, I have found such writings not only dense and hard to understand, but impossible to pin down. Where does the author of this piece stand on the big questions? You can’t tell. It is as though the authors of such works go out of their way to skirt these big questions altogether, to consciously steer clear of them.

If Mormonism is true, it shouldn't need any special pleading.  An apologetic defense is often just a crutch for a failed scholarly assessment.  Everything in life is not so cut and dried.  We need to understand that a testimony need have nothing to do with a lame apologia.  Faith and reason are two very different modes of thought.  Brother Douglas, it might be well for you to ignore "impartial scholarship."

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

Could you clarify what you are referencing here?  Are you thinking of Spencer Fluhman and the Maxwell Institute?  Or something else?

Thanks,

-Smac

Examples of what I mean––

Grant Palmer (who, after a CES career, reverted to mainline Protestantism) a year before he died said Bushman’s RSR was the best bio of Joseph Smith to date.

RFM did a podcast titled The Subversive Teryl Givens.

In the case of RSR, Palmer said it was the best bio of JS because he could read it and see in it Joseph Smith as fraud: in other words the book can go anyway you want it to, depending on what you already think. (I say this, while at the same I like RSR, in fact I have read it twice. It is on my Kindle and the hardback is on my bookshelf.)

In the case of Givens in Wrestling the Angel, it also can go anyway you want it to. JS was a prophet and truths from past dispensations, truths long lost to man, were revealed to him; or JS was something like Dan Vogel’s “sponge” who absorbed this and that and synthesized it all into a new religion——“dressing himself in borrowed robes,” in the words of RFM. Or you can read the book and arrive at some point between these opposites, never really knowing what Givens’ is himself. Is he a materialist, or does he believe in angels who deliver gold books to man? Maybe something in between?

Now, as with Bushman, I like Teryl Givens very much. I have some of his books and I have read at least one of them cover to cover (Wrestling the Angel). But both Givens’ and Bushman’s “trumpet gives an uncertain sound.” Where do these authors stand on the big questions, the questions of eternal import? One can say where they stand on these questions not by reading their books, but only if you already know something about them.

One way to look at this is by asking who is the target audience. Bushman said that with RSR he was writing for a non-Mormon audience, but found that very few non-Mormons were interested. Givens appears to be writing for a general audience, both LDS and non-LDS. So looked at in this way, I guess their points of view are appropriate to their target audience.

As for what the Maxwell Institute puts out, I have only read a little. The authors of what I have read seem to want to operate above the fray that is going on below. They come across as specialists writing for other specialists——which leaves out the ordinary church member, the faithful who are looking for defenses of their faith re: Austin Farrer.

Not a big deal, really. It’s just a pet peeve of mine.

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6 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

If Mormonism is true, it shouldn't need any special pleading.  An apologetic defense is often just a crutch for a failed scholarly assessment.  Everything in life is not so cut and dried.  We need to understand that a testimony need have nothing to do with a lame apologia.  Faith and reason are two very different modes of thought.  Brother Douglas, it might be well for you to ignore "impartial scholarship."

Could one say, "If Christianity is true, it doesn't need C S Lewis"?

I guess so. But I for one value my C S Lewis books. (And I value my Nibley books.)

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15 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

On the one hand, if a believer spends time in his scholarly work engaging in blatant apologetics, he gets hit for not being scholarly enough.  On the other hand, if he constantly makes pious and faith-promoting statements, he takes a hit for being just an apologist.  He is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't.  People like Bushman and Arrington do have august professional reputations for a reason.  To them, their faith doesn't require gilding the lily.  In addition, they bend over backwards trying to be kind and considerate to those whose faith is not strong. 

The main pet peeve I have with the scholars is that too often their work is not accessible to ordinary yokels like me. They are specialists writing for other specialists——this and the fact that very often you can't pin them down. Are they believers? Cultural Mormons? What are they?

Edited by bdouglas
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2 minutes ago, bdouglas said:
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For this reason I think the turn LDS scholars made some time back to produce scholarship that was neutral on the truth claims of the church, or at least not front and center——I think this was/is misguided. Everyone has to stake out a position, and this position has to be clear and unequivocal.

Could you clarify what you are referencing here?  Are you thinking of Spencer Fluhman and the Maxwell Institute?  Or something else?

Examples of what I mean––

Grant Palmer (who, after a CES career, reverted to mainline Protestantism) a year before he died said Bushman’s RSR was the best bio of Joseph Smith to date.

I don't understand.  Are you referencing Bushman or Palmer as an "LDS scholar?"

I think there is a very big difference between Bushman and Palmer.

As far are Bushman, I think he has been serious misquoted/misintepreted/misconstrued.  Please see this 2016 blog post by Daniel Peterson: Richard Bushman and the fundamental claims of Mormonism In it DCP quotes a statement from Bro. Bushman that was responsive to online commentary about his remarks about the Church needing to change its "dominant narrative" (see, e.g., here).

I also have personal correspondence from Bro. Bushman about this issue.

2 minutes ago, bdouglas said:

RFM did a podcast titled The Subversive Teryl Givens.

Yes, I'm familiar with this one, too.  I commented on it last December.  From a conversation with Analytics (his words first) :

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Your fixation on Jeremy Runnells and Jeff Lindsay's theory about "big lists" is really missing the mark here. As a chess analogy, I'm not a very good chess player. At all. But if you put me in the middle of a game with a strong enough position, I could beat any Grand Master or chess supercomputer. The Grand Masters could write hundreds of books about chess, but that wouldn't change the fact that if the pieces are arranged in such a way that even a dimwit like me can see the endgame, I will win.

As an example of what I mean, our own consiglieri is an extremely well-read ex-apologist now critic. He has a very articulate and accessible podcast called "Radio Free Mormon". A recent episode is called "The Amazingly Subversive Terryl Givens," which goes through Givens's latest book and shows how it is subversive in the sense that it contains dozens of concessions of anti-Mormon claims that you'd find on a "big list." Givens thinks the end result is beautiful and expresses it all from a perspective of admiration in erudite language, but if you have the patience and intellect to read what he is actually saying and compare it to what the church teaches in manuals and in conference, then one inescapably comes to the conclusion that Givens is admitting it isn't true--it is a fraud. A beautiful inspiring fraud for Givens, but a fraud nonetheless. Listen to the podcast. 

 

So I listened to most of the podcast (it's a bit tedious).  

I also sent an email to Terryl Givens.  I quoted (verbatim) the second paragraph above, and asked him if he would agree with your characterization/conclusion (that he is conceding that the Pearl of Great Price is "a fraud").  He responded within minutes and categorically rejected your characterization (calling "patently false" your allegation that he believes or implies the PoGP is a "fraud").

Given that Givens is perhaps the world's leading expert on what he believes, and given how massively incorrect you were in reaching a purportedly "inescapabl{e}" conclusion derived from applying "patience and intellect to read what he is actually saying," I think you'll understand which of the two sources I will find more persuasive.  

And a bit more commentary from me here:

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I've been musing the last little bit about Consig's and Analytics' assessment of Terryl Givens.  These two are well-seasoned observers of the Church.  They know a lot about the Church.  It is interesting, then, to see them so spectacularly mis-read Givens. 

Consig pubilcly characterizes Givens' latest book as "amazingly subversive."  Roger publicly declares that if "patience and intellect" are used to read Givens' book, "one inescapably comes to the conclusion that Givens is admitting it isn't true--it is a fraud."

Givens himself rebuts these characterizations of his position.  "Patently false," he calls them.

This does not seem like an isolated incident.  I feel like our critics are not really listening to us.  They are not understanding us, or accurately describing or characterizing our position.  It seems like they don't want to listen or understand or charactize us.  They want to make us look bad, so any and every event or story about us must be construed so as to put the Church in a negative light.  

Abraham Maslow famously said: "I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail."

If one's perspective on the Church is principally defined by implacable hostility (the "hammer"), then every story about the Church can be construed to make us look bad ("as if it were a nail").

That some have spectacularly misunderstood and misrepresented Bushman and Givens is not an indictment against these men.

2 minutes ago, bdouglas said:

In the case of RSR, Palmer said it was the best bio of JS because he could read it and see in it Joseph Smith as fraud: in other words the book can go anyway you want it to, depending on what you already think. (I say this, while at the same I like RSR, in fact I have read it twice. It is on my Kindle and the hardback is on my bookshelf.)

And yet Bushman continues to be a devout and faithful member of the Church.

2 minutes ago, bdouglas said:

In the case of Givens in Wrestling the Angel, it also can go anyway you want it to. JS was a prophet and truths from past dispensations, truths long lost to man, were revealed to him; or JS was something like Dan Vogel’s “sponge” who absorbed this and that and synthesized it all into a new religion——“dressing himself in borrowed robes,” in the words of RFM. Or you can read the book and arrive at some point between these opposites, never really knowing what Givens’ is himself. Is he a materialist, or does he believe in angels who deliver gold books to man? Maybe something in between?

See above.  I think it's helpful to let Givens speak for himself.

2 minutes ago, bdouglas said:

Now, as with Bushman, I like Teryl Givens very much. I have some of his books and I have read at least one of them cover to cover (Wrestling the Angel). But both Givens’ and Bushman’s “trumpet gives an uncertain sound.” Where do these authors stand on the big questions, the questions of eternal import?

Again, see above.

2 minutes ago, bdouglas said:

One can say where they stand on these questions not by reading their books, but only if you already know something about them.

One way to look at this is by asking who is the target audience. Bushman said that with RSR he was writing for a non-Mormon audience, but found that very few non-Mormons were interested. Givens appears to be writing for a general audience, both LDS and non-LDS. So looked at in this way, I guess their points of view are appropriate to their target audience.

Or we can let them speak for themselves.  Let's not rely on hostile, tendentious interpretations of people like Palmer, RFM and Analytics.  What they have to say about Bushman and Givens is much more about the beliefs of Palmer, RFM and Analytics than about the beliefs of Bushman and Givens.

2 minutes ago, bdouglas said:

As for what the Maxwell Institute puts out, I have only read a little. The authors of what I have read seem to want to operate above the fray that is going on below. They come across as specialists writing for other specialists——which leaves out the ordinary church member, the faithful who are looking for defenses of their faith re: Austin Farrer.

Not a big deal, really. It’s just a pet peeve of mine.

Okay.

Thanks,

-Smac

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20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I don't understand.  Are you referencing Bushman or Palmer as an "LDS scholar?"

I think there is a very big difference between Bushman and Palmer.

As far are Bushman, I think he has been serious misquoted/misintepreted/misconstrued.  Please see this 2016 blog post by Daniel Peterson: Richard Bushman and the fundamental claims of Mormonism In it DCP quotes a statement from Bro. Bushman that was responsive to online commentary about his remarks about the Church needing to change its "dominant narrative" (see, e.g., here).

I also have personal correspondence from Bro. Bushman about this issue.

Yes, I'm familiar with this one, too.  I commented on it last December.  From a conversation with Analytics (his words first) :

And a bit more commentary from me here:

That some have spectacularly misunderstood and misrepresented Bushman and Givens is not an indictment against these men.

And yet Bushman continues to be a devout and faithful member of the Church.

See above.  I think it's helpful to let Givens speak for himself.

Again, see above.

Or we can let them speak for themselves.  Let's not rely on hostile, tendentious interpretations of people like Palmer, RFM and Analytics.  What they have to say about Bushman and Givens is much more about the beliefs of Palmer, RFM and Analytics than about the beliefs of Bushman and Givens.

Okay.

Thanks,

-Smac

Yes, Bushman and Givens are often misunderstood. But that's my point. RFM would never do a podcast titled "The Subversive Hugh Nibley", because one always knows where Nibley stands——from the writings themselves.

Oh, well. Don't think I don't like Bushman and Givens. I like them both very much. Bushman especially is front and center on my bookshelf, next to Nibley and B H Roberts.

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30 minutes ago, bdouglas said:

Yes, Bushman and Givens are often misunderstood.

And misrepresented.

30 minutes ago, bdouglas said:

But that's my point. RFM would never do a podcast titled "The Subversive Hugh Nibley", because one always knows where Nibley stands——from the writings themselves.

That seems more like a difference of style, rather than substance.  And it speaks more to the perspective of the critics.  From my previous remarks:

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I've been musing the last little bit about Consig's and Analytics' assessment of Terryl Givens.  These two are well-seasoned observers of the Church.  They know a lot about the Church.  It is interesting, then, to see them so spectacularly mis-read Givens. 

Consig pubilcly characterizes Givens' latest book as "amazingly subversive."  Roger publicly declares that if "patience and intellect" are used to read Givens' book, "one inescapably comes to the conclusion that Givens is admitting it isn't true--it is a fraud."

Givens himself rebuts these characterizations of his position.  "Patently false," he calls them.

This does not seem like an isolated incident.  I feel like our critics are not really listening to us.  They are not understanding us, or accurately describing or characterizing our position.  It seems like they don't want to listen or understand or charactize us.  They want to make us look bad, so any and every event or story about us must be construed so as to put the Church in a negative light.  

That speaks much more about the critics than it does about Bushman and Givens.

Let us consider these remarks by Elder Oaks:

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The prophet Isaiah denounced those who “make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate” (Isa. 29:21; see also 2 Ne. 27:32.) (Those who reproved in the gate in Isaiah’s time were the religious leaders.) 

I think this is that RFM / Palmer / Analytics have done to Bushman and Givens.

30 minutes ago, bdouglas said:

Oh, well. Don't think I don't like Bushman and Givens. I like them both very much. Bushman especially is front and center on my bookshelf, next to Nibley and B H Roberts.

I understand.  

Thanks,

-Smac

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To create a lack of bias and commitment to neutrality in matters of religious history challenges the profession.

Christopher Blythe and Richard Bushman among active temple going LDS historians, Brent Metcalfe and Melvin Johnson among former LDS members, and Christopher C. Smith among never Mormons set the standards for objectivity and kindness, imo.  Yet I think each can be challenged at time on issues of bias. 

Those engaged in LDS apologetics would best follow the example of Brian Hales, unlike his wife Laura (whom I do like) who can get snarky in session Q&A, or Lewis Midgley or Daniel Peterson who can act meanly if they get their dandruff up.

All of the above can be great on one to one, but the lesson is that we are all human with foibles.

 

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21 hours ago, california boy said:

I don't think anyone is saying that the LDS Church follows ex-Mormons around persecuting them.  I also don't believe there are ex-Mormons going around persecuting members.  Maybe you could give some examples of the harassing and persecution members of the Church have had to face.  See if you can name some persecutions that members themselves have not done to some who have left.

I can tell you my experience with members of the Church when I left.  My family had nothing to do with me for 13 years.  Never invited to any family events, reunions, baptisms, birthdays, missionary farewells, holidays, nothing.  While I tried to stay in contact with them, it ended up being a one way street.  At some point, I got the message.  

As far as ward and stake members, I only ever heard from 3 people ever again.  I didn't think of them as the enemy.  But it was hard to think that they were still my friends.  

I do want to say that after 13 years, my family has decided that I could be a part of them now.  Those painful years are water under the bridge.  Both my partner and I are now invited to family events.  The scars are still there.  But hopefully over time, healing will take place.  

Partly why I point this out, is this animosity is not a one way street.  Both sides engage in less than Christlike behavior at times.  We are all humans with flaws and emotions that sometimes cloud our judgement.  
 

 

In our area “Ex-Mormons for Jesus“ shadowed the missionaries to find out who they were visiting. They would then show up later to “tell them the truth”  about what Church “really teaches.” They visited a convert family the week after their baptism. The next Sunday, the father and mother came to me (the bishop) and said they would not be coming back. I asked why? They said the EMJ folks told them that we had naked orgies in the temple.....and that if they confronted me I would deny it. I did. Nothing I could say convinced them it was a lie.They never came back.

I was present when an angry couple shouted at their bishop as they cast Satan out of him after their excommunication. The man’s parents were members of my ward. He lied during the council that one of the reasons they were leaving was because our ward had ignored mistreated his impoverished parents. Later the man became a leader in the local former Mormons group and continued to lie about the Church in regularly published messages.

In my experience, it is the disgruntled family members who shun those who remain in the Church....even proselytize them for their new-found “wonderful lifestyle.” Many have encouraged family members to look at websites they recommend that expose the lies of Mormonism, but refuse to look at sites such as FAIR or BOMC. “If you really love me more than the Church, then smoke a joint or have a glass of wine or a beer with me” has been a fairly common request. Usually, some sort of reconciliation comes months or years later.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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3 hours ago, The Nehor said:

No one does good scholarship about something they care absolutely nothing about.

There is no such thing as a human being who is - or can be- immune to their passions.  Period.  Our survival depends on diversity of opinion and one approach being "better" than another for any question, but what does "better" mean?

If one person had to die and it could be your mother or someone you do not know who lives in China, who would you choose?   Justify your opinion "objectively".

Should I marry this person?

Where should I go to school?  Where should I send my kids to school?   Vaccinations or not?  Circumcision or not?

We cannot help but defend our survival physically and mentally by having goals and beliefs in what we consider "right".

We all have preferences.  Anyone "neutral" about Trump?   He is one of the best examples of the impossibility of neutrality I can think of.  Vanilla, chocolate or strawberry- ?  And which answer is "objectively correct"?

Is abortion right or wrong?  What are the boundaries in those areas, or are there none?  As a chemist should you work for a cure of cancer or is it more noble to work on cosmetics, if you will get paid twice as much working in cosmetics.

How far should we go in curing global warming?  Some say it doesn't even exist or is not anything to worry about.

Should we spend billions on some kind of system to increase our defense against against asteroids?  Who is stupider the Republicans or Democrats?  Should you pull the plug on grandma or is there one last procedure that might....

Does God exist?  What is your proof for or against?

Was it right to have pulled out of Viet Nam?   Is Communism the correct path for humanity?

Objectivity in such matters is an illusion.

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1 hour ago, Bernard Gui said:

In our area “Ex-Mormons for Jesus“ shadowed the missionaries to find out who they were visiting. They would then show up later to “tell them the truth”  about what Church “really teaches.” They visited a convert family the week after their baptism. The next Sunday, the father and mother came to me (the bishop) and said they would not be coming back. I asked why? They said the EMJ folks told them that we had naked orgies in the temple.....and that if they confronted me I would deny it. I did. Nothing I could say convinced them it was a lie.They never came back.

I was present when an angry couple shouted at their bishop as the cast Satan out of him after their excommunication. His parents were members of my ward. He lied during the council that one of the reasons they were leaving was because our ward had ignored mistreated his impoverished parents. Later the man became a leader in the local former Mormons group and continued to lie about the Church in regularly published messages.

Actions like that help me to understand why early members of the Church like Brigham Young thought that D&C 76's redefinition of hell was too kind. That's dishonest, manipulative, and infuriating. 

1 hour ago, Bernard Gui said:

“If you really love me more than the Church, then smoke a joint or have a glass of wine or a beer with me” has been a fairly common request. Usually, some sort of reconciliation comes months or years later.

I've never seen that happen myself but it wouldn't surprise me. If so, that's abusive. 

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6 hours ago, california boy said:

Maybe you could give some examples of the harassing and persecution members of the Church have had to face.

Wait a minute.

You allegedly live in California, you are gay, and you remember Prop 8.

We are not popular hereabouts.  

And then of course we have a nice little Broadway play that was supposed to have been one of the funniest ever, making fun of the Mormons.

Is it "harassment and persecution"?   I don't know how you want to define it, but I don't see people standing in line to get baptized either, and I do see a lot of snickering and winks when Utah is mentioned.  Few have enough guts to actually bring up the church unless they wear a little black badge

We are definitely at least seen as "weird"

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3 hours ago, bdouglas said:

The main pet peeve I have with the scholars is that too often their work is not accessible to ordinary yokels like me. They are specialists writing for other specialists——this and the fact that very often you can't pin them down. Are they believers? Cultural Mormons? What are they?

Well, of course it isn't accessible to non-scholars.  It isn't written for non-scholars.  It is written as part of a continuing dialogue among actual scholars.  Such dialogues go on for generations -- even beyond the deaths of the participants.  The effort is to provide accurate data, as well as to find reasonable explanations for that data.  History is not facts, but interpretation of facts.  And that interpretation is a communal effort of a huge number of scholars over time.  Sometimes religious people take an interest in that larger discussion, but faith does not rest upon such interpretations (which may change over time), but upon a very different mode of thought.  It can be very dangerous to confuse faith with reason.  Non-scholar Grant Palmer (a CES instructor) sought to be a historian and failed miserably.  He rightly admired Richard Bushman, but did not at all understand what Bushman actually did.

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3 hours ago, bdouglas said:

Could one say, "If Christianity is true, it doesn't need C S Lewis"?

I guess so. But I for one value my C S Lewis books. (And I value my Nibley books.)

Scholars like Lewis and Nibley are rare indeed.  There is nothing wrong with admiring and taking pleasure in their work.  The problem comes when (as with Grant Palmer) reading them leads one to believe that he is now as well qualified as they to discuss the niceties of history and religion.

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5 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Unlike ordinary members of the LDS faith, who simply do not spend their lives trying to find systematic fault with ex-Mormons, there are in fact plenty of ex-Mormons who do in fact spend their lives in publicly-funded efforts to destroy the LDS Church and its members.  They found organizations and publish anti-Mormon hate propaganda by the ton, only now much of it is done online.  The effort has gone on now for nearly two centuries.

Well the Church makes no small effort doing its share of proselytizing for its cause as well even with people who already have a faith.  I don't think the Church is in a position to complain if others proselyze for their beliefs.  

5 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Each parting of the ways will be distinct, and that is understandable.  People are flawed, and we mustn't expect every disjuncture to include respect and kindness from both sides.  The hurt is genuine, and people may not all be paragons of virtue in human relationships.  Your own assessment sounds reasonably accurate, leaving room for reconciliation of sorts.  Call it "repentance" from both sides, if you want.  A learning experience.  However, these are family and personal friendships you are pointing to.  Not organizational efforts to attack individual former members.  That is the crucial difference.  That doesn't justify the personal failures you are pointing to, but neither does it make them systematic.

I grew up with repeated stories like this one from Marion G Romney

 

Quote

 

Some years ago the First Presidency said to the youth of the Church that a person would be better dead clean than alive unclean.

I remember how my father impressed the seriousness of unchastity upon my mind. He and I were standing in the railroad station at Rexburg, Idaho, in the early morning of 12 November 1920. We heard the train whistle. In three minutes I would be on my way to Australia to fill a mission. In that short interval my father said to me, among other things, “My son, you are going a long way from home. Your mother and I, and your brothers and sisters, will be with you constantly in our thoughts and prayers; we shall rejoice with you in your successes, and we shall sorrow with you in your disappointments. When you are released and return, we shall be glad to greet you and welcome you back into the family circle. But remember this, my son: we would rather come to this station and take your body off the train in a casket than to have you come home unclean, having lost your virtue.”

 

 

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1981/09/we-believe-in-being-chaste?lang=eng

This talk from 1981 is still up on the Church Web site.  What lesson is the Church teaching with these kinds of talks?  

I realize that the Church has changed its tone, but that wasn't happening when I came out to my family.  Are you really surprised how my faithful Mormon family responded?

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3 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

 

In our area “Ex-Mormons for Jesus“ shadowed the missionaries to find out who they were visiting. They would then show up later to “tell them the truth”  about what Church “really teaches.” They visited a convert family the week after their baptism. The next Sunday, the father and mother came to me (the bishop) and said they would not be coming back. I asked why? They said the EMJ folks told them that we had naked orgies in the temple.....and that if they confronted me I would deny it. I did. Nothing I could say convinced them it was a lie.They never came back.

So you think a group following the missionaries and telling their version of what they believe is persecution? 

When I was a missionary, remember teaching a person who was studying with the Jehovah Witnesses.  We didn't think was a problem to tell them our beliefs and how that differed from the JW's.   Would you consider that  persecution?  Cause I think your definition of what you are defining as persecution is pretty benign.  If that is the best you can come up with, well then, I don't think you have any idea what persecution is.   I have talked to a lot of former gay members of the Church with way more horrific stories including sending their kids to reparative therapy camps.  I have talked to former gay members who were part of the whole electric shock therapy at BYU. If you are interested in hearing personal stories, it isn't hard to find on the internet.  I think you might rethink what you consider persecution is.  All of this was done as an effort to "save" their child from Satan's clutches.  

3 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

I was present when an angry couple shouted at their bishop as the cast Satan out of him after their excommunication. His parents were members of my ward. He lied during the council that one of the reasons they were leaving was because our ward had ignored mistreated his impoverished parents. Later the man became a leader in the local former Mormons group and continued to lie about the Church in regularly published messages.

This kind of reminds me of the lecture I got from my dad when I first came out to him as he assured me I was on the road to hell.  And this is my own father saying this stuff.  You don't think that both sides have some that have bad behavior?  I personally think there are people on both sides who exhibit poor behavior.  

 

3 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

In my experience, it is the disgruntled family members who shun those who remain in the Church....even proselytize them for their new-found “wonderful lifestyle.” Many have encouraged family members to look at websites they recommend that expose the lies of Mormonism, but refuse to look at sites such as FAIR or BOMC. “If you really love me more than the Church, then smoke a joint or have a glass of wine or a beer with me” has been a fairly common request. Usually, some sort of reconciliation comes months or years later.

So is this statement meant to put all the blame on ex-Mormons?  Or would you say this kind of behavior happens both with members of the Church and with those that have left?  Because I have heard this same type of emotional manipulation from members of my own family for being gay.  I am not alone.  If you would like more specifics, I would be glad to relate them to you as well as some of my other former members have experienced.

The whole OP premise is FALSE.  Some Mormons can't let former members alone any more than some exMormons can't leave the Church alone.  Both sides are doing it because they think it is their responsibility to "save" the other person.

 

 

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36 minutes ago, california boy said:

So you think a group following the missionaries and telling their version of what they believe is persecution? 

When I was a missionary, remember teaching a person who was studying with the Jehovah Witnesses.  We didn't think was a problem to tell them our beliefs and how that differed from the JW's.   Would you consider that  persecution?  Cause I think your definition of what you are defining as persecution is pretty benign.  If that is the best you can come up with, well then, I don't think you have any idea what persecution is.   I have talked to a lot of former gay members of the Church with way more horrific stories including sending their kids to reparative therapy camps.  I have talked to former gay members who were part of the whole electric shock therapy at BYU. If you are interested in hearing personal stories, it isn't hard to find on the internet.  I think you might rethink what you consider persecution is.  All of this was done as an effort to "save" their child from Satan's clutches.  

This kind of reminds me of the lecture I got from my dad when I first came out to him as he assured me I was on the road to hell.  And this is my own father saying this stuff.  You don't think that both sides have some that have bad behavior?  I personally think there are people on both sides who exhibit poor behavior.  

So is this statement meant to put all the blame on ex-Mormons?  Or would you say this kind of behavior happens both with members of the Church and with those that have left?  Because I have heard this same type of emotional manipulation from members of my own family for being gay.  I am not alone.  If you would like more specifics, I would be glad to relate them to you as well as some of my other former members have experienced.

The whole OP premise is FALSE.  Some Mormons can't let former members alone any more than some exMormons can't leave the Church alone.  Both sides are doing it because they think it is their responsibility to "save" the other person.

Did God have to cast out a third of the Host of Heaven? Why didn’t He seek to accommodate this unhappy third in some way, short of throwing them out of heaven?

In The Great Divorce by C S Lewis, some of the ghosts Lewis encounters on his journey wonder why more is not done by those in Heaven to improve the lot of the those in the “grey town” (hell). They wonder, in effect, why a bridge can’t be built connecting Heaven and Hell. Hence the title The Great Divorce. Lewis is saying there can be no marriage of Heaven and Hell. It is simply not within the realm of possibility.

Mormonism is divisive. Jesus was divisive. Of the original 12 apostles chosen by JS and the Three Witnesses, 10 apostatized. Only Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball did not. Of the 10 who left, most, or at least some, later came back. But some never did.

Can faithful LDS do a better job softening the blows of this divisiveness among their own friends and families? Yes.

Edited by bdouglas
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1 hour ago, bdouglas said:

Did God have to cast out a third of the Host of Heaven? Why didn’t He seek to accommodate this unhappy third in some way, short of throwing them out of heaven?

In The Great Divorce by C S Lewis, some of the ghosts Lewis encounters on his journey wonder why more is not done by those in Heaven to improve the lot of the those in the “grey town” (hell). They wonder, in effect, why a bridge can’t be built connecting Heaven and Hell. Hence the title The Great Divorce. Lewis is saying there can be no marriage of Heaven and Hell. It is simply not within the realm of possibility.

Mormonism is divisive. Jesus was divisive. Of the original 12 apostles chosen by JS and the Three Witnesses, 10 apostatized. Only Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball did not. Of the 10 who left, most, or at least some, later came back. But some never did.

Can faithful LDS do a better job softening the blows of this divisiveness among their own friends and families? Yes.

I am not sure what your point is. I am not suggesting that the Church should accommodate anyone.  I am only pointing out that the OP statement is one sided.  There are also members who will also not leave ex Mormons alone. And Bernards claim of persecution of Members by ex Mormons is hyperbole.  His example he gave is hardly the definition of persecution by ex members.

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4 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Wait a minute.

You allegedly live in California, you are gay, and you remember Prop 8.

You mean the one where Latter-day Saints gave time and money and basically led the charge to Successfully remove gay people’s civil right to marry? Who exactly was persecuting who there?

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