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Skin Color Doesn’t Mean Skin Color


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36 minutes ago, bluebell said:

Well, just because people used to interpret this stuff literally (and based on the culture they were most familiar with, as BD points out), doesn't mean that can't legitimately evolve to a different understanding.  A clear reading of the creation account in Genesis says a whole lot that Christians used to take literally but that that few do today. 

Besides, the most "clear" reading is often determined by our biases and preconceived notions.  Would our 19th century understanding of those verses have been the "clear" and obvious interpretation for Middle eastern people in 600 BC?  Probably not.  Racism/differentiating by skin color wasn't a thing back then, so that interpretation might not have been a clear one for that culture.

A metaphorical interpretation or one that includes cultural understanding of race and skin color in the near east (still not sure I'm referring to that area correctly) are valid options when interpreting the BOM if they are valid options for interpreting the Bible (and clearly, many bible scholars and readers find them to be valid options).

(And I just want to point out that members are not the only ones that have a stake in fighting for specific interpretations.  There are ex-members who want the racist interpretations to stand because those interpretations have played some part in transitioning out of the faith for them and fit with their personal narrative in regards to Latter-day Saints and the church).

Please find me any LDS leader with authority that advocate this approach to the BoM language that talks about the curse being a skin of darkness. 

See this is what LDS defenders do.  They move the goalposts. Constantly.  If the text meant something other than what is says why didn't God inspire Joseph Smith to translate it into the most correct book into what it really means?

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6 minutes ago, ttribe said:

tell me, with any measure of intellectual honesty, that his statement (as he presented it) isn't an expression of his personal preference

Serious question:  how is anything written here not an expression of personal preference?  Agreed:  some expressions are more logical and/or informed, but is it possible to think and write without expressing some sort of personal preference?

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1 hour ago, BlueDreams said:

It's been a branch of thought that's been gaining steam for at least the last decade. I think I first ran into the idea maybe 15-ish years ago. So if this isn't a thought that you think about more regularly, it wouldn't surprise me if you missed it. Though there were a lot of organic parallel thoughts popping up before and around the time of the gospel topics essay, particularly in certain circles.

I first heard this from Brant Gardner if I recall.  I was even still a hanging on believer back then and found his arguments nonsensical.

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18 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

I think Alma Chapter 3 rebuts this idea. When it talks about the Amlicites marking themselves there is an implied contrast to the skins of darkness that God caused to happen. If it were a fashion choice I would think Mormon would mention that the Amlicites were doing the same thing and there wouldn’t be the contrasting bit about the Amlicites putting the mark on themselves.

In this chapter we also learn that the Lamanite warriors only wore loincloths and some armor. Does loincloth coloration really make you loathsome and would it be an enduring mark? And also I don’t know of any culture that would be this monochromatic about dying their clothing only either white or black for centuries.

I am not sure there would be differentiation between types of ceremonial warfare attire or if they would refer to the complete appearance that could involve certain types of clothing, certain types of armor and headgear and body paint/tattoos.

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17 minutes ago, Teancum said:

I first heard this from Brant Gardner if I recall.  I was even still a hanging on believer back then and found his arguments nonsensical.

Can you explain why they needed to search for a Lamanite if all it was is skin color?  One can look at the Tabernacle Choir on tv and pick out different races without effort, embarrassingly easy at times. (Alma 55) and why the rest could be Nephites in Laman’s group approaching Lamanite guards without raising suspicions (he was the only one who spoke apparently)?

Edited by Calm
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In terms of textual analysis, the term skin(s) occurs 14 times in the Book of Mormon. In the clearest cases with grammatical possession, it refers to the skin of the animal or the person(s). The first one (and the first dictated) is mh1713, his skin, clearly human skin. Almost always when there is a reference to the color or shade of skin(s) there is grammatical possession and so an unstrained approach will conclude that these instances most likely refer to human skin. (There is an indef. article supplied in the critical text at aa0305, since it is otherwise identical to the phrasing in aa4320.)

Edited by champatsch
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15 minutes ago, champatsch said:

In terms of textual analysis, the term skin(s) occurs 14 times in the Book of Mormon. In the clearest cases with grammatical possession, it refers to the skin of the animal or the person(s). The first one (and the first dictated) is mh1713, his skin, clearly human skin. Almost always when there is a reference to the color or shade of skin(s) there is grammatical possession and so an unstrained approach will conclude that these instances most likely refer to human skin. (There is an indef. article supplied in the critical text at aa0305, since it is otherwise identical to the phrasing in aa4320.)

Thanks for that. I always appreciate your thoughtful approach. I hope all is well with you. 

Edited by jkwilliams
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19 minutes ago, Calm said:

Can you explain why they needed to search for a Lamanite if all it was is skin color?  One can look at the Tabernacle Choir on tv and pick out different races without effort, embarrassingly easy at times. (Alma 55) and why the rest could be Nephites in Laman’s group approaching Lamanite guards without raising suspicions (he was the only one who spoke apparently)?

Can you explain what how in the world a skin of blackness that causes a people to be loathsome to another means anything other than what is says as well as the way essentially all LDS leadership understood this to this day and age?

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If Latter-day Saints want to renegotiate the meaning of their sacred texts to root out racism, more power to them. I just wish, while they were at it, they would hurry up and accept their gay brothers and sisters too. There is WAY more scriptural support for God using skin color as a marker of disfavor than there is of divine displeasure with homosexuality. 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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I'm interested to learn the truth about all this at some future time.

Anyway, there is nonbiblical early modern meaning in the text, and there is a lot of biblical early modern meaning as well.

One meaning of black skin in the early modern period is extremely dark skin; another meaning, in the same entry in OED2 (def. 1c), is little darker than many Europeans. The latter meaning is the likely one for the Book of Mormon.

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I know one thing if you run around in the jungle with just a loin cloth on in the tropics your skin will become very very dark. It's taken my legs about 3 years in cold rainy weather with pants on for my tan to start peeling off. It was really thick and it's coming off in chunks. 

Just trying to inject some humor into the subject.

 

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11 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

Stumbled across this apologetic, which is a doozy. 

The gist of it is that when the Book of Mormon speaks of the Lamanites being given a skin of blackness, it means that the skins they wore as clothing were black, whereas the Nephites wore “white and delightsome” skins. In short, these were fashion choices similar to gang colors. 

As Dan McClellen put it, this is “not a good theory.” 

Things like this just appear dishonest and gaslight-y on the whole, given the actual church positions on race over its history.

People do what they can to survive, and attachment to beliefs can feel like a matter of life and death. So it should not be surprising that these apologetics exist. 

The alternative is a church who at best says, "We don't know, we were wrong and we are likely still wrong about many things." Can a church like that benefit people?

(I think so. )

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12 hours ago, Calm said:

If you want to say it doesn’t have to make sense because it’s fiction and not about a real event and Joseph messed up a plot point, then just say it.

I am not following you here.  I am not connecting your comment to the skin of darkness topic.  Whether it is a fictitious work or not does not seem to have bearing on the words about skin color.

12 hours ago, Calm said:

 

 

I am only curious about how those who insist it must be referring to race explain that part, not as a challenge, but actual curiosity. Ignoring it is certainly one approach, not terribly satisfying though. :) 

I am simply noting that a simple reading of the text as well as how, as far as I know, all LDS leaders who have commented on the passages, understood and spoke about them, indicate is it speaking of dark skin.  If you can find LDS authority that teaches an alternative interpretation please share it.  Other wise I view this as another apologetic argument trying to spin something uncomfortable to something more acceptable to us today.  If the passages really don't refer to skin color perhaps a LDS leader with authority can teach this and repudiate how their predecessors taught about these passages.  

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1 hour ago, Teancum said:

am simply noting that a simple reading of the text

That is the problem, imo.  A simple reading of those verses (not referring to any others) wouldn’t need to have them search for a Lamanite in the troops anymore than one would need to search for a Native American in the Tabernacle Choir…they would have just had to ask the troop leaders who has a Lamanite in their troops and to go get him.  

Edited by Calm
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45 minutes ago, Calm said:

That is the problem, imo.  A simple reading of those verses (not referring to any others) wouldn’t need to have them search for a Lamanite in the troops anymore than one would need to search for a Native American in the Tabernacle Choir…they would have just had to ask the troop leaders who has a Lamanite in their troops and to go get him.  

Maybe they were the only ones who could pronounce “shibboleth” well enough to fool them.

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11 hours ago, BlueDreams said:

So following the example of the BoM, it seems better to let go of the errors of their traditions for a greater light.

💯

The implications are challenging though- once we accept this truth, it lends me specifically to look for evidences of error presently being upheld as truth.  It requires that I think for myself and decide what is truth and not lean 100% on other human beings to decide that for me. Is there room for that in this church? Even that very question itself points to more “tradition versus truth.”

Edited by MustardSeed
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22 hours ago, Calm said:

That is the problem, imo.  A simple reading of those verses (not referring to any others) wouldn’t need to have them search for a Lamanite in the troops anymore than one would need to search for a Native American in the Tabernacle Choir…they would have just had to ask the troop leaders who has a Lamanite in their troops and to go get him.  

The scriptures, if they really are a message from God, should not be so difficult to understand.  For the Bible it seems that one needs a degree similar to what Dan McClellan has in order to understand the words.  It seems like a sloppy way for an all powerful supernatural being to get its message out.

Edited by Teancum
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