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  1. I have enjoyed Dr. Harris’s insights and presentation. Also, thanks for your comments and analysis John. His historical research is first rate. I wish to enter the conversation. I think those who are leery of the intent and presentation of the Gospel Topic Essays come about it honestly. The LDS Church has a long history of being disingenuous and of lying for the Lord. I disagree with Dr. Harris’s analysis of why all essays are unattributed and undated. President Oaks was brought into the Quorum in large part for his legal experience and I suspect the same is true of Elder Cook. The Essays have plausible deniability written in invisible ink all over them. One can’t hold the essays up as ground-breaking or any other “gee-whiz” descriptor without comparing them to similarly described documents such as the Proclamation on the Family, Christ proclamation or the recent restoration proclamation. It’s also common to see First Presidency supportive statements in class manuals and other less public publications.

    His explanation of why there are no names or dates associated with the Essays just doesn’t hold up to examination. In the current era of electronic and online publication, changes are simple. Organizations requiring the publication of policies and procedures (his own university included), which is nearly any organization subject to legal scrutiny or who need internal continuity and clarity, publish these documents. The documents ALWAYS include among several items that are pertinent to the Essays: 1) Who owns the documents (The LDS Church); 2) Approval (The First Presidency); 3) Date of approval or date of origin or of the latest iteration. It’s not difficult as Dr. Harris said. His university and every other complex organization keeps track of, and indicates changes, of each policy. The Church does exactly that with their internal operational policies.

    The first time I heard of members saying the Essays can’t be real (hacked) or that the First Presidency didn’t approve them made guessing the process easy. We’ve seen this Church movie before. So, the Church is opening up- but not really unless they are brought kicking and screaming into the twilight (they never move into the bright light).

    Love hearing Dr. Harris and look forward to reading more of his work.

  2. This interview with Matt was great. We need to be able to talk about these things at church –absolutely. But in my experience growing up in the church, it was always a sterile environment where everyone tried to impress others in their Sunday best. Time to get real and have real conversations about real issues that effect us all.

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