Battles Lines and High-Fiving White Guys

I’ve pondered all morning how to respond to the recent “Mormon blog battle lines” discussion that has arisen here and here.

I’ll have more to say about this in August during my Sunstone presentation, but for now I’ll leave it with the following response:

  • Each of my podcast episodes is being downloaded over 3,000 times. I have received literally hundreds of very personal emails over the past year. The count actually exceeds 1,000 if you count responses, lunches in Logan, and personal phone calls. All of them have been very, very personal, and very meaningful–and the pattern is overwhelming: People learn the history. They become disenchanted and angry. They either want to leave, or do leave the church–and more often than not, damage follows. And for the people I talk to–apologetics and/or the traditional bloggernacle are either non-entities, or ultimately deteriorating to their attitudes and faith over time.

I know that my blog and podcast are not for everyone, but I also know exactly my place within Mormonism–and it is to help people who have their faith fall apart do 2 things…..

–Not move too quickly in a way that will damage their lives, and
–Help those who have become disaffected, but who still want to stay within Mormonism–find a way to do so without going crazy, or feeling unethical.

That is my purpose. I can’t speak for what others consider to be their purpose, though I often struggle to see one at times–aside from navel gazing, and a fraternity of high-fiving white guys (you’d have to be from Seattle to understand).

  • I used to see the battle lines within the Internet and Mormonism as being: Apologists/TBMs vs. Anti’s. I no longer see this as the division. I’m not gonna tell you where I see the battle lines now (I’m gonna save that for my Sunstone presentation in August), but I will offer the following song (originally written about 9/11) as a precursor/hint:

————————————-

September 12th
Artist – David Wilcox

To listen to the song, click here.

Long ago they built this fort of stone above the Hudson
To guard against intruders, there were cannons in these walls
But now it’s just a park where we can come and bring the children
On a clear sunny morning in the fall

The reason for this fortress was the threat of foreign warships
And though these walls were ready, no gunboats reached our shores
But you kids can climb the tower and look out across the harbor
And imagine being lookouts for the enemy at war

But you never see it coming anymore

Now we’re on the frontlines like stepping over landmines
Not beneath our footsteps but never far away
And now the possibility, the presence of the enemy
It could be any city, maybe any peaceful day

It’s a clear sunny morning, but it’s nothing like before
Cause you never see it coming anymore
It’s a different kind of peace, cause it’s a different kind of war
And you never see it coming anymore

These kids have learned some history and they know what warfare used to be
Tanks and guns and soldiers that moved across the land
With strategies and battlelines converging at a place in time
And lives were lost for reasons that the world could understand

On the History Channel war can look exactly like before
When you were certain it was over by the ticker tape parade
They could come back home to safety, they could celebrate the victory
And the landmines were all buried ‘cross the ocean far away

But a different kind of war has reached our shore
And you never see it coming anymore

Now we’re on the frontlines like stepping over landmines
Not beneath this pavement but never far away
And now the possibility, the presence of the enemy
It could be any city, maybe any peaceful day

It’s a clear sunny morning, but it’s nothing like before
Cause you never see it coming anymore
It’s a different kind of peace, cause it’s a different kind of war
And you never see it coming anymore

————————————-

If I have a testimony of anything, it is that apologetics and traditional bloggernacle threads are not going to speak to a whole host of people out there who are seeking honesty, candor , truth, and practical solutions to their questions, doubts, and beliefs. If the “bloggernacle” or whatever that is, wants to close ranks and exclude me from their club or party–that’s totally their call. I learned 6 months ago that you had to play ball their way, or you risked being invited to leave (or ignored). And the way I see the world these days (for example politically, where the Ann Coulters and the Al Frankens offer their shrill mockery and one-sided, self conversations), I don’t divide the world into buckets like Democrat vs. Replubican, Liberal vs. Conservative, American vs. Un American, TBM vs. Anti. I believe that for a specific group of people within Mormonism (the ones I interact with, anyway), FAIR, FARMS, and much of the Bloggernacle actually serves to weaken faith, and increase cynicism about the LDS church. I know this for fact. So I ask those of you who identify yourself as within the ‘nacle–what is your purpose? And are you really achieving it? And most importantly–are you doing good? The extent to which the bloggernacle becomes an intellectually inbred, “lines-drawing” community of “star belly sneeches”–is the extent to which it will begin to alienate and bore its readers, ultimately damaging itself in the long run (which, from the circles I run it, it is already starting to do).

All I can say is….I know what I’m trying to do, and what I’ve been able to do, through my efforts. I could forward you the several emails I’ve received from people who tell me that they’ve started going to church again (at least in part) because of my efforts–but I honsetly don’t believe that most of you would really care, or be open to wrapping your brains around that.

Not only do I believe that my intentions are good and noble (who doesn’t?)–I believe that I have been effective in what I’ve set out to do. And though some might try to throw stones, or cast judgments of suspicion–I know in my heart that I love the LDS church, and fully support people being members of it (if that is their wish). My efforts are directed squarely at helping people manage their crises of faith–and helping to guide them away from unncecessarily inflicted self-damage, and towards a life of greater joy and potential.

To quote Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” If being part of the bloggernacle means being a fish-bowl dwelling, navel-gazing, high-fiving white guy…I’ll be perfectly happy to live in the borderlands category. Honored, actually.

Now excuse me while I go teach Elder’s quorum. 🙂

Comments

comments

42 comments for “Battles Lines and High-Fiving White Guys

  1. Ben
    July 23, 2006 at 11:06 am

    “apologetics and traditional bloggernacle threads are not going to speak to a whole host of people out there who are seeking honesty, candor and truth.”

    What’s your implication here John? Are all the rest of us not seeking or propounding honesty, candor and truth? Just spin-meisters desperately covering up the holes? Or what?

  2. Ben
    July 23, 2006 at 11:13 am

    BTW, look at the comments from your last post. Of the 8 comments, one is yours, one from Dallas Robbins who is apparently an active church members, but four from people who explicitly state they have already left the church, one that strongly implies it, and one apparently struggling.

    Judging solely from those who comment, I’m not sure you’re attracting the struggling listnership you’re looking for, but reinforcing those who have already gone.

  3. July 23, 2006 at 11:22 am

    John, your thoughts are well recieved. I appreciate the work you do. You are very passionate, disciplined, and honest. I wish I had an ounce of that in my own podcast efforts. You are doing good work for the LDS community. For those who critique and sow dividing lines I would suggest they think about Romans 12:3-6:

    “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourselves more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

    For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.

    We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us:”(NRSV)

    I can’t tell you how tired I am also of the same ol labling and dividing of God’s children. It really flabbergasts me sometimes what comes out of people’s heads. But I love them regardless. We are all of the same body – all with different gifts, and different levels of faith – but we are still part of the same.

  4. July 23, 2006 at 11:22 am

    Yo john, nothin but love to ya baby. Don’t listen to tha haters.

    I can name 5 people I know personaly who feel better about Mormonism because of your blog and podcast. I am one of them.

    Ben-
    Isn’t the point of any good reactivation effort to attract inactive members and help resolve their concerns by establishing relationships of trust and understanding and then dealing with their concerns openly and honestly? That’s what I used to do when i was a missionary. I don’t know, maybe things work differently now.

  5. July 23, 2006 at 12:13 pm

    Such criticisms do not recognize the critical importance of Mormon Stories and the crisis that it is seeking to address. Many faithful members of the church are abruptly having to reconcile traditional history with the breadth of knowledge available through the information revolution and the internet. This is a crisis within the Church. Too often emotional and rushed decisions and reactions result amplifying the confusion and hurt of those caught in the crisis. Thank God for Mormon Stories, which provide a more thoughtful approach to those wrestling with sincere, weighty issues they never imagined they would have to face.

    I have told dozens of personal acquaintances about Mormon Stories, and I know that many of them have been helped greatly by the discussions here. Just this past week a friend confided a struggle with a particular issue with which he felt he could not get a straight answer for. I sent him to some particular podcasts over here. He listened and later told me he felt at peace over the issue after listening to an honest discussion. He didn’t want to leave the Church, he just wanted some honest discussion. And that’s what Mormon Stories can provide. How individuals respond is their decision and should be respected.

    If a myopic approach to discussion is necessary for inclusion in the bloggernacle, perhaps it isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

  6. Ben
    July 23, 2006 at 12:29 pm

    Again, I see the assertion that Mormon Stories is the sole online purveyor of straight answers and Truth, but everyone else is myopic.

  7. July 23, 2006 at 2:20 pm

    Ben says, \\\”Again, I see the assertion that Mormon Stories is the sole online purveyor of straight answers and Truth, but everyone else is myopic.\\\”

    No one is asserting this, Ben…but I am not surprised that you would claim we were. It is exactly the type of tactic used by apologists and anti-Mormons to discredit themselves–and endemic to the overall point I am trying to make.

    I would love to take the discussion with you offline…either via phone, or via Cafe Sabor. 🙂

  8. Doc
    July 23, 2006 at 5:18 pm

    John,
    I do not know any of the actual background history that went into Dave’s post, but I am not so certain it is motivated by the bile you imply. It seems more a “categorization” meant as an audience guide for others, with an attempt to define a new category for what you are specifically trying to do. Yes, traditional bloggernacle threads are not going to speak to a host of people in a certain category. Is this necessarily evil or mean spirited?

    It seems to me that you and Dave are simply stating the same thing, only with different words and from a different point of view. Namely, that the goals and audience of Mormon Stories versus the Bloggernacle are, by nature of their thrust and goals, different.

    Clearly, you are trying to build a bridge for those who feel horribly torn by certain polarized forces. Clearly, I think what you do is motivated by a genuine concern for others. I admire that. I do not doubt in the least that what you do has been helpful in diffusing much pain and hurt in others.

    You have been very clear about who your audience is and what you are endeavoring to do with this podcast. I have been largely impressed with the spirit of respect and consideration for others with which you have done so. I am clearly not one who belongs in your target audience, but I enjoy adding what I can to conversations. I think my participation is helpful in the context of honest and open discussion but I am not sure how helpful I am to your stated mission, except I hope to show that I and many like me are not the bigoted, unthoughtful, naive ogres that the stereotyped TBM is painted as by many of your audience.

    That said, I can see how these bloggernacle posts might be taken as marginalizing. Why are we always so keen on defining and categorizing. It is so pervasive in humanity. Everyone wants to define everything and us and them. I will forever agree that this not a really productive way to go through life. It has also been my experience that such behavior is usually largely motivated by fear.

    I feel confident enough in myself and my understanding of the world that I do not easily feel threatened by exposing myself to another’s view. I feel there is clearly something the whole human family can gain by engaging in open discussion to at least come to a greater understanding of one another and in the process come to a greater understanding of themselves.

    Do me a favor though, could you ease up on the “apologists.” Much of the behavior they exhibit which you find repugnant is just as prevalent among the sunstone and new Mormon history crowd.

    I don’t think it is as apparent to you because you find yourself largely in agreement with their points of view. It is abundantly clear to me. All of us have set of prejudices and assumptions that we bring to life. Hopefully, all of us are working to understand what those assumptions are and how they color our worldview.

    While it is very easy to point out these faults when we see them in others, it is much more difficult to take a look at how the same attitudes may manifest themselves in our own point of view and in the arguments we agree with. Just some food for thought.

  9. Ben
    July 23, 2006 at 5:29 pm

    John, read your blog!! You implied it in your post, (I quoted the relevant portion in my first comment trying for some clarification), and the “myopic” comes directly from Tom Grover!

  10. July 23, 2006 at 5:45 pm

    John, I’m with Kirk on the whole lovin’ and hatin’. 😉

    Faith promotion is subjective and personal. Sunstone has kept me in the Church, but most TBMs probably would not describe it as “relatively faith promoting.” Some conservative Mormons would frown upon core Bloggernaccle sites for stirring up stuff that ain’t meant to be stirred up.

    Personally, I think that dealing with issues like the “Bloggernaccle chopping block” and the less than friendly tactics of certain apologists detract from your true calling. I hope that this doesn’t sound too cheesy, but my suggestion is that you: be encouraged by all those you’ve helped, brush off the haters with a smile, and keep focused on the good work that you do. We’ve felt your hand of fellowship when we felt excluded or ignored by others.

    I’ll refrain from making any Matrix inspired red pill comparisons, but don’t be surprised if I call you Morpheus when I see you.

    One more comment: The (Son of) Man reached out to the marginalized and ostracized. He got a bit beat up for it (but did all right in the end). He’s the example to follow.

  11. July 23, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    People should read Kirk’s response to DMI Dave’s post:

    http://mormoninquiry.typepad.com/mormon_inquiry/2006/07/defining_the_bl.html#c20086987

    You know, until I read Dave’s post, I thought that Bloggernaccle just meant “all Mormon blogs.” And “Mormon” isn’t something that you define by church activity, or

  12. FreeAtLast
    July 23, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    John,

    Despite the positive aspects of Mormonism, the fact remains that the LDS Church and religion were established on a foundation of deception, and the church has continued that fraud for the past 176 years. To this day, it disseminates propaganda about Joseph Smith, church history, and other aspects of Mormonism. For example, there is no mention on the church’s website about Joseph Smith (which went online last year) about his teachings and practice of polygamy (including marriages to women who were already married and girls as young as 14).

    The anger that many Mormons experience when they discover that the LDS Church has deceived them is fully justified. Members’ faith has been manipulated and we were defrauded by a organization that has become a multi-billion-dollar religious/corporate empire. The LDS Church wouldn’t have any wealth if it hadn’t been for the hard work and financial sacrifices of generations of Mormons, yet it still refuses to make available to members details of how it spends their tithing and other monetary contributions. Such is the nature of Mormon patriarchy.

    The shock that Latter-Day Saints experience when they learn the truth about church history and awaken to the incredible and terrible fact that the church has used them for its own purposes is exacerbated by their loss of identity. Mormonism psychologically conditions many people very deeply. Its fear-, shame-, and guilt-inducing ‘spiritual’ teachings also deeply wound many individuals psychologically.

    The deceipt of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and its abuse of people’s faith has been immoral from the beginning. History has shown that sooner or late, corrupt systems weaken, and eventually they collapse. According to what Grant Palmer said in your podcast, approximately 100,000 people are formally leaving the church each year. No doubt thousands of members have reduced their participation in the church or stopped attending altogether as a result of learning faith-disrupting historical and scientific facts on Mormonism-related websites. The Internet has made the truth about Mormonism available to any earnest, thinking person, something that the church should have done generations ago.

  13. July 23, 2006 at 9:50 pm

    FreeAtLast,

    I empathize w/ some of what you say, but I’m sorry. I just don’t see the church as darkly and as sinister as you do.

    I believe very strongly the following:

    1) The leaders of the church sincerely believe in the truthfulness of the church, and in the leadership of JS, and others.

    2) These church leaders spend a great deal of their time focused on one thing–trying to help “Joe Member” live a happier, better life.

    3) While the church does not “lead” with its mistakes, or even focus on them, and in some cases tries to avoid a discussion of them–I believe that this is a relatively normal thing to do. Let’s try a test–tell us your full, real name, and then tell us your most intimate, glaring, grievous sins in your life. Once you are willing to live by that standard, I’ll start listening about how others need to live by yours as well. I think it’s irrational to expect an organization to do this.

    4) Yes, the church claims to be the “one and only true church”, but that (historically) has been true of many religions. It’s how religions stay in business (for the most part). I don’t really fault the church for that.

    5) All the manipulation and fraud you are talking about is not my experience (having worked at church headquarters personally, including in the administration building), nor is it the experience of several close family members who have worked much more closely w/ the bretheren than I have.

    6) One of the biggest complaints I have w/ anti’s is that they refuse to balance their attacks w/ a realistic admission of all the good that the church does, and the positive impact it has on literally millions of lives each year. Just as I get on some apologists for ignoring the bad, I believe that you ignore the good, and grossly distort the bad.

    I still love you though. And appreciate you posting. But please consider taking a more balanced approach…for your own cause, if not for any other reason. I promise it will be more credible, and productive in the end.

  14. lasvegasmedstudent
    July 23, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    John- Amen!!!!

    While I respect FAL’s right to post and state “facts” as he sees them, I feel there is a propensity on both sides on this board to simplify things that are rather complex.

    Now I know some will say that I just am not seeing the “facts” that were said by this prophet or that general authority because I don’t want to, but in my own defense, I have taken the same approach to the studying of gospel principles and historic issues as I have taken to my studies as a medical student. And that is to look at rather complex issues from many different angles and slowly attempt to assimilate past and present understanding into a coherent idea.

    When I read only one side of an argument that is evidently biased (which is constantly evident on this board), and I am not presented with the other side or other possible explanations, I feel frustrated and dissapointed that more thought isn’t put into certain discussions.

    Thats why I love your podcasts, they make me think about both sides of issues, and I can tell that you go to great lengths to approach complex topics in an informative matter, not a biased agenda. Thanks for all you do John, you’ve helped me through some difficult times this last year as I’ve been trying to decide where my place is in this church that I’ve known my whole life.

    Keep up the good work, and thanks for responding to my e-mail months ago, your dedication to this outlet is greatly appreciated.

  15. July 24, 2006 at 1:40 am

    John,

    I appreciate the substance of your response to FreeAtLast.

    But I have to wonder why this anti-Mormon troll wasn’t banned from your site a loooong time ago. Banning a troll is really easy in WordPress. I’ll be happy to show you how if you’d like. Failure to ban such nasty trolls means that you are essentially handing the mic to an angry exmo and inviting him to tee-off on the church at will. How is that helpful in any way? How is your blog anything but a trojan horse to get believing saints to hear the bile anti Mormon trolls like this love to spew all over “TBMs”?

  16. Nate Oman
    July 24, 2006 at 7:41 am

    John: I can’t speak to the participation of others in the bloggernacle, but we started Times & Seasons for basically two reasons. One, we were interested in having conversations about Mormonism. We didn’t necessarily have a mission to save the wilting souls at the edge of the Church. We didn’t see ourselves as being an evangelical or ministerial endeavor. We just wanted to have an interesting discussion. Two, we were interested in generating a readership for our conversation. We wanted to say something interesting enough that people would keep coming back.

    Occasionally, we had more grandious visions, like trying to get conversations going across the FARMS-Sunstone divide (to use two publications for an ideological shorthand). Mainly, however, we just wanted to have an interesting conversation.

    Interestingly, we have recieved an email from one person who has affirmatively told us that she was baptized because of Times & Seaons, and I know of at least one person who says that they have slipped into inactivity because of Times & Seasons.

    FWIW, I understand Dave’s interest in trying to figure out some of his intuitions about how the term bloggernacle is used, but I don’t really think that there is a big ideological danger in the term being used more broadly.

    Everyone ought to just dial back the rhetoric a bit. There are no ramparts to be defended here, and no one needs to play Christ to the lepers. We’re just a bunch of folks having a conversation…

  17. July 24, 2006 at 8:48 am

    Apparently as the “one struggling” in Ben’s oh so eloquent post I know I have been struggling for a long time. The point is, I have the same point of view as John here. I don’t make decisions quickly. I have been mulling over this church history problem, the racist problems, and the culture problems that the church has for years. John’s podcasts have given me a chance to enter into a dialoge with someone other than my wonderful wife who has the same issues with church history that I do. It is so refreshing to meet someone, even through the Internet, that wants to talk about these things seriously!

    Ben, the whole point of Mormon Stories, as I’ve experianced it, is open dialoge. Not setting up a new church… Got any plans to become Grand Poobah John?

    Gaaa. It’s the same stinking zero sum game that just pervades mormon thought. Either every nutty statement by someone just under the Ogden Kraut extremism threshold is true or the whole thing is a spawn of satan. Ok, that may be slightly unfair.

    The level of frustration admittedly makes us all a little tense. Nate, thanks for the voice of reason. Some of us have so much invested in our attempts to keep ourselves sane that the first Daniel C. Peterson wannabe that steps into the arena gets the 000 buckshot.

  18. Anon
    July 24, 2006 at 9:39 am

    Nate says that he knows “at least one person who says that they have slipped into inactivity because of Times & Seasons.” There is a little disagreement here about the pronoun and the antecedent, but count me as a part of this “slipped” group, though I would probably use the phrase “chosen inactivity.”

    So now you know (or know of) at least two in this group, and I know several more, so now you know of several plus at least two.

    I would guess that some may call us weak in our former faith, if we could have been so easily affected, and if we are judged on these terms, well, we are.

    If I am pulled back to the fold, John would receive a large part of the credit for leaving my mind and spirit open to that possibility. But I must say, John, you have a challenging scree to climb to reach that summit.

  19. July 24, 2006 at 11:28 am

    Anon: I am sorry that T&S played a role in what I see as a sad event. I hope that John helps you back. Let me know if I can do anything…

  20. paula
    July 24, 2006 at 11:32 am

    Anon, I am curious about how T&S helped you ‘choose inactivity’. Could you elaborate? For me, FAIR has about the same kind of effect– and I don’t read anything from them anymore.

  21. Anon
    July 24, 2006 at 11:40 am

    Thank you, Nate.

  22. a mormon Jo
    July 24, 2006 at 12:14 pm

    Can’t we all just get along?
    I understand that we all want to do some good in the world, and that when our attempts at doing so are labeled as ineffective, or even evil, it hurts… it hurts badly. We don’t need battle lines. We need to love each other. Thank you to those of you who are working together to help people, and being an example to me. God bless you.

  23. Mike Parker
    July 24, 2006 at 6:13 pm

    Dave,

    Will you please help me resolve the seeming discrepancy between the following two statements you made on this very page?

    In your original post you wrote:

    If I have a testimony of anything, it is that apologetics and traditional bloggernacle threads are not going to speak to a whole host of people out there who are seeking honesty, candor, truth, and practical solutions to their questions, doubts, and beliefs.

    In a response to Ben you wrote:

    Ben says, \\\”Again, I see the assertion that Mormon Stories is the sole online purveyor of straight answers and Truth, but everyone else is myopic.\\\”

    No one is asserting this, Ben…but I am not surprised that you would claim we were. It is exactly the type of tactic used by apologists and anti-Mormons to discredit themselves–and endemic to the overall point I am trying to make.

    In your original comments you directly state that “apologetics and traditional bloggernacle threads” do not appeal to many because they do not address issues with “honesty, candor, truth, and practical solutions” — with the implication that MormonStories and similar sites do.

    When Ben called you on it, you denied claiming exclusively to honest, candor, and truth, and accused him of using a typical apologist tactic.

    So which one of the preceding statements is indicative of what you really believe?

  24. Mike Parker
    July 24, 2006 at 8:50 pm

    Whoops — my previous comment was addressed to John Dehlin, not “Dave.”

  25. Quinn
    July 24, 2006 at 9:44 pm

    FreeAtLast –

    I read your first post above in this thread and it got me thinking . . .

    re:

    “…they discover that the LDS Church has deceived them…

    “…faith has been manipulated…”

    “…we were defrauded by a organization…”

    etc.

    How does your theory explain the converts that aren’t “deceived” by their culture and upbringing? By the converts that are intelligent adults that have investigated the faith-losing deceptions?

    How do you account for them?

    Quinn

  26. Doc
    July 24, 2006 at 9:54 pm

    Robert,
    THis website is primarily about the message boards. I believe he has a non exclusion policy on the blog comments and I agree, a lot of hate is spouted off. While this may be a touch ironic in light of a similar beef John has with Fair message boards, I can truly vouch for the Mormon Stories Podcast. Listen to the actual podcast if you want to know what the tone he sets is and what he expects from both sides, then read the message boards as people vent and vent and ignore the example that has been set. However, John I’m sure will insist that there is a lesson to be learned from this venting. For myself, I am learning to simply recognize it for what it is and validate or empathize where I can and otherwise leave it alone.

  27. Robert
    July 24, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    Hi Doc, I think hypocritical is a better choice of words than ironic. How can one excoriate someone else for the same thing that you do yourself and have any credibility whatsoever? I’m immediately suspicious of anyone who has to set up a banner talking about how horrible everyone else is and how wonderful he is before anything is even said. Not to mention the oddity of setting oneself up as a therapist to help others stay in a church they obviously don’t want to be in. It would seem to me that open honesty would require that one be exactly that and get out of a church that obviously has some issues. Then these people wouldn’t need a self-appointed therapist to “help” them.

  28. Anon
    July 25, 2006 at 5:59 am

    “How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seek that which is gone astray?”

    Some of us appreciate what John is doing.

  29. Ann
    July 25, 2006 at 7:16 am

    Not to mention the oddity of setting oneself up as a therapist to help others stay in a church they obviously don’t want to be in.

    Robert, you obviously have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

  30. enochville
    July 25, 2006 at 7:24 am

    Robert,

    I quote from the original post, “Help those who have become disaffected, but who still want to stay within Mormonism–find a way to do so without going crazy, or feeling unethical.”

    He is only trying to help those who want to stay find a place. Reasons vary for wanting to stay even if one believes the church is not what it claims to be: family, community, familiarity, it has some good aspects, it can meet one’s needs about as well as any other, etc.

    I am one who has become disaffected and immediately left the church and have no desire to stay within Mormonism. I have not felt any activation or missionary pressure from John.

    I still care about what the church is doing because I still have family in it. I wish the church would be honest with them and stop promoting a culture that is unhealthy for them. In addition, I was somewhat of an apologist for a number of years and thereby unknowingly misled people. I have no desire any more to viciously attack the church in forums like this, nor to tell people that their church is wrong, but I do what to make sure that people are in possession of the facts, such as the Adam-God doctrine was not some note-taker’s error for it was taught on several different occasions including the temple.

    Like Grant Palmer, I feel that being honest and straight forward is the only honorable thing to do, and if they won’t tell you the whole truth, I will tell what I am in possession of to those who are either trying to propogate inaccurate information or to those who are open to learning more.

    The reason why I ask for more disclosure from the church than I would from an individual (someone asked for an individual to publicly disclose all of their sins) is because the church is asking and accepting so much from people under false pretenses. Many of those people would not sacrifice so much if they were informed. I firmly believe in informed consent. People who believe they are giving so much now are giving because they believe God is asking it from them, but if they were aware of all the evidence they may begin to believe that it is only mere mortals in the church who may or may not be speaking for God that asks these things from them.

    I support this site because it helps expose people to the evidence so that they can make informed consent. Some members will still want to stay for reasons I cited above. It is very difficult for them and they need support. Now hopefully, my endorsement is not used to bring John down since I have already left the church. John, good luck to you. I hope continued success for you and that you can have the audience you seek. Futhermore, I will conform to your desires when I post replies on here.

  31. Mike Parker
    July 25, 2006 at 9:37 am

    Enochville wrote:

    In addition, I was somewhat of an apologist for a number of years and thereby unknowingly misled people.

    And once again we see the (as yet undemonstrated) assertion that apologetics, by nature, involves lying to people. There are no apologists who are honest and sincere, but perhaps mistaken; no, they are all simply liars.

  32. Clay
    July 25, 2006 at 9:42 am

    I find myself continually surprised at how people who suppose themselves to be defending the gospel of Christ will so easily just tell someone to leave it. Perhaps the biggest problem with apologetics is in spending so much time in the fringe topics that you forget the core. Nobody’s arging about the core, which is forgiveness, love, and redemption. Its the fight they love, not the thing they defend.

    It can get irritating when sacred things are treated like its the Rush Limbaugh show.

  33. enochville
    July 25, 2006 at 10:27 am

    Mike Parker,

    I did not say that all apologists lie. Of those who do misrepresent the truth, most don’t do so knowingly.

    I am saying that when I was an apologist, I did unwittingly mislead people because I did not know enough. For example, in answering people’s concerns about the Adam-God doctrine I repeated what Joseph Fielding Smith said in “Answers to Gospel Questions” Vol 5, 121, in which he said, “It is very clear from these expressions that President Brigham Young did not believe and did not teach, that Jesus Christ was begotten by Adam.” Anyone who believed me and Joseph Fielding Smith in this were misled.

    There are numerous other examples. I only used that one because a few days ago I just demonstrated in another Mormonstories thread that BY clearly did believe and teach it as doctrine.

    I misled people about the BoA because I bought the possible explanations in the FAIR articles and passed the info on. But, now that I have read nearly everything on the BoA and looked at the original sources or photos or transcriptions of the original sources, I am better informed and I feel that the honorable thing to do is correct the error as soon as it is discovered and tell people that I unwittingly misled them the first time. I want them to know that many of the apologist answers to these tough issues do not hold up in light of all the evidence.

  34. Mike Parker
    July 25, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    Enochville,

    Thank you for clarifying your position regarding honesty and apologetics.

    Perhaps I can suggest a different approach to this subject that isn’t so pejorative.

    Since Brigham Young never explained his Adam-God statements in a way that is consistent with LDS scriptures and the teachings of Joseph Smith, we are left to interpret what he said. Joseph Fielding Smith’s approach to Adam-God in AGQ is not “misleading” in the sense of intentionally lying or withholding evidence; it’s simply JFS’s interpretation of the historical record. Unfortunately his interpretation is lacking in that it does not take into account all the evidence. There are other theories that deal with the evidence better and are amenable to maintaining faith in the restored gospel. (Most of them are in the FAIRwiki article on A/G.)

    The same can be said for the BofA. Joseph Smith said he translated the BofA from papyri; he didn’t say exactly how this was done. This leaves us to ask the right questions:
    * What papyri did he have?
    * How much of his papyri do we have today?
    * What’s on the papyri we’ve recovered?
    * Does the recovered papyri indicate what else could have been in Joseph Smith’s collection?
    * What did Joseph Smith mean by “translated”?
    We don’t have enough evidence to answer all of these questions with finality and exactness; we have to interpret based on limited information. The interpretation that claims “Joseph Smith translated word-for-word from the papyri that was recovered in 1967” is wrong. But the interpretation “the recovered Joseph Smith papyri doesn’t contain the Book of Abraham, therefore Joseph Smith made it all up” overstates its case by not accounting for other reasonable possibilities that are amenable to faith.

    So my suggestion to you is that you not conflate “inadequate” with “misleading.” All of us are learning and growing. I have worked with and written for FAIR for many years. I can tell you from experience that everyone involved with FAIR is being honest in dealing with difficult issues. Sometimes FAIR’s approach to a given subject is inadequate; when we find that is so, we try to correct our errors and make our approach better.

    Despite what some would suggest, “honesty, truth, and practical solutions” are what FAIR volunteers are after. If we’re wrong, or have misinterpreted the data, we’ll fix it. But it offends me that some would imply that FAIR of lying or misleading people, when nothing could be further from the truth.

  35. Mike Parker
    July 25, 2006 at 12:58 pm

    WRT my previous comments, Blake Ostler has some profitable comments on the subject of apologetics, paradigms, and adjustments to faith here.

  36. July 25, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    Might I suggest that one problem in discussions like this is that folks aren’t careful to distinguish between “mistake” and “mislead” with the latter having the connotation of intentional actions?

    Likewise many from all sides (the so-called left, center and right in this debate – or perhaps the disaffected, the doubting, and the believers) seem to consider the issue of honesty and openness in terms of their beliefs. Thus to a disbeliever or even a doubter the believer isn’t being honest simply because they don’t share the same doubts.

    I think that by and large many of the believers honestly have tried to be open and honest. Certainly I don’t know of any that have claimed to have all knowledge. Most are pretty open about mistakes and areas where they don’t have good answers. Yet I think many have been reacting as they have, especially the past month of so, simply because others judge their beliefs in terms of their own. That is a believer isn’t being honest if they don’t believe what I believe. If they don’t doubt when looking at the evidence I look at clearly there must be some kind of deception involved.

    Thus the labels of cognitive disonnance, misleading, and even liar.

    I think there is a fundamental problem in all this which I respectfully suggest entails a hypocrisy. Now I’d be the first to say that sometimes believers and apologists are hypocritical. That is they apply a different standard to their own beliefs that they don’t to others. I don’t think this is as common as some assert though. Yet by the same measure a lot in the doubting or disbelieving side do the same.

    Why can’t we simply agree that people are sincere in their beliefs or doubt? The presumption of cognitive dissonance or the like may make us feel better about our own beliefs but does little to further dialog.

  37. Mike Parker
    July 25, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    Amen, Clark.

  38. Robert
    July 25, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    Ann offers an open and honest assessment: Robert, you obviously have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

    Me: How would you know what I know? You have seen all of two posts (apparently Dehlin has had a change of heart and is going to allow dissenters to post now). You have no idea if I am active, inactive or Mormon at all. I can see from the tone of this place that it is better not to disclose anything about yourself.

    I know that healthy people don’t stay in a situation they consider damaging. That is just basic, basic stuff that ANY qualified therapist would tell a client. It is immoral to be “helping” people to live in an abusive situation so trying to appeal to both sides is perhaps the most dangerous place of all.

  39. July 25, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    Robert wouldn’t you at a minimum agree that the reasons why someone judges a situation as “damaging” is important? And can’t someone try to help an other see that perhaps the judgement is wrong? I’m loath to apply this to anyone because I know everyone is in a different situation and I truly believe some people might, for whatever reason, not be prepared for church. So I’m quite open to it being “damaging” for some people. (Say someone who has emotional scars due to abuse by an unrighteous leader)

    What I worry about is the assumption by some that because they find something damaging that it is inherently damaging.

    But by the same token I fully agree that those Saints who have had profound spiritual experiences in church and truly find it a giving and progressive environment shouldn’t assume everyone has that experience.

  40. CraigBa!
    July 31, 2006 at 1:12 am

    1) The leaders of the church sincerely believe in the truthfulness of the church, and in the leadership of JS, and others.”

  41. CraigBa!
    July 31, 2006 at 1:43 am

    2) These church leaders spend a great deal of their time focused on one thing–trying to help “Joe Member” live a happier, better life.

    Whether they focus on adequately helping “Joe Member” live a better life seems in doubt to me. The next time you listen to General Conference, make a list and divide the talks into 3 categories: 1) Helping Joe Member, 2) “Obey”, and 3) Boring homilies.

    I am quite certain the latter 2 will outnumber the former.

    3) While the church does not “lead” with its mistakes, or even focus on them, and in some cases tries to avoid a discussion of them–I believe that this is a relatively normal thing to do…I think it’s irrational to expect an organization to do this.

    But people are not churches. This cuts to the heart of whether the Church can stay in existence and still serve its members without being open about its history. If it’s open, then it risks losing an awful lot of members. If it’s secretive, then it undercuts its own usefulness by forcing many members who choose to remain to live a life of denial.

    4) Yes, the church claims to be the “one and only true church”, but that (historically) has been true of many religions. It’s how religions stay in business (for the most part). I don’t really fault the church for that.

    5) All the manipulation and fraud you are talking about is not my experience (having worked at church headquarters personally, including in the administration building), nor is it the experience of several close family members who have worked much more closely w/ the bretheren than I have.

    I don’t think manipulation and fraud are the issue. I think that it’s the general habit of shoving under the rug any story that may reflect negatively on the Church.

    6) One of the biggest complaints I have w/ anti’s is that they refuse to balance their attacks w/ a realistic admission of all the good that the church does, and the positive impact it has on literally millions of lives each year…

    This is where I agree wholeheartedly. I would like to see an honest, fullscale assessment of the impact the Church (and all churches) has on its members lives – the good, bad, and the ugly.

    The primary purpose of most churches, as generally understood, is to seek for its believers the favor of Deity. This is usually (always?) based on some sort of myth. But in doing so the church ends up serving a valuable social role in the community and passing on the accumulated cultural wisdom of the ages, wisdom not necessarily passed on very well in any other manner – including via the parents.

    But how well it does so is still up to the particular religion. Is the wisdom misogynistic in nature? Superstitious? Intolerant? Judgemental? Virtuous? I believe there is a large judgementalist streak in Church teachings. The Mormons I grew up with could be every bit as mean as the non-religious kids I knew – whether they were in Utah or in the mission field.

    Your particular answer to the dilemna posed by learning about church history is intriguing, but it’s not for every one. Ceratinly your decision was based on the fact that, for the most part, your experience growing up in the Church was pretty positive.

Comments are closed.