Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Friday, September 23, 2005

It's Just Too Easy to Misjudge a Person

It's so hard to judge people correctly, so easy to misread their intents. Though some recent comments on my last two posts raise this issue, now I'd like to discuss an experience I just had in Atlanta. Inspired by Book of Mormon in Indy's generous and bold approach to giving out Books of Mormon, I had one handy in my bag as I traveled from the Atlanta Airport to downtown Atlanta last Sunday night. I was supposed to have a rental car, but the agency had a massive pick-up truck waiting for me and I balked. Since they made a mistake on my previous trip as well, giving me a tiny low-riding sports car too small for me, I wasn't happy with them and decided to punt on the rental car altogether. I figured I could get by on public transportation for this trip, so I hopped on the Marta train and rode into downtown Atlanta. The trains was packed with interesting people, but after I got off at North Street, everyone scattered and I was standing there alone at 10 PM on Sunday night as I studied my map to figure out how to get to the hotel. A voice called to me offering to help. I turned to see a man about my age approaching me.

I'm a trusting kind of person, but what I did probably wasn't safe. He asked where I was going, and I told him I was looking for the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center. Instead of pointing the way, he offered to take me there. I didn't want to be offensive, and went along with him. He told me that he was homeless but not one of those drug-abusing people. I wanted to be nice and trusting, but I did wonder if the bulge in his pocket was a weapon or just a large cell phone. As we walked outside the train station, I figured the streets would be lit and populated. They weren't well lit and were almost completely empty - it was almost a ghost town. I started figuring I was dealing with a criminal. While smiling and talking, I was thinking about the risks of being mugged, about the need to stay on the lit side of the street, etc., as this man walked with me. He must have sensed what I was thinking (well, I dropped the hint of saying I'd like to first make a pay phone call) and so he offered to just point the way and not take me to the hotel. He did want four bucks for the service, which was OK. As we stopped and looked at each other for a moment, I realized that in this case, I was dealing with someone I really liked. I had four dollar bills and was happy to give them to him. We talked some more. I also had a big lunchbag of food that my wife had packed for me that I had not eaten yet, and I asked him if he would like that. His eyes got big and he was happy about that. That was a good sign to me, also - he wasn't just after alcohol or drugs. Then I remembered my Book of Mormon, and asked him if he enjoyed reading and if he'd like a Book of Mormon. He seemed honored to take it, and we had a good but brief chat about that book.

His name is Kevin. I have his full name and address for the shelter where he stays. He has a Book of Mormon and I believe he's reading it. He wanted me to write him, and I have already and plan to continue. I really like this man, and would like to learn his story. Stay tuned.

How sad that I would initially judge him as a criminal and worry about getting away from him, when I was actually meeting someone who could be a friend. Thanks, Books of Mormon in Indy, for inspiring me to be more ready to give out Books of Mormon!

Putting on my safety-first hat, let me encourage the rest of you to not wander through the streets of downtown Atlanta alone late at night. Further, don't tell strangers where you are staying, and don't let strangers accompany you. Don't even think of being that stupid! But do carry some extra Books of Mormon with you to give to new friends you meet. And yes, y'all can do this, whether you are LDS or not.

Meeting Kevin was actually the highlight of that business trip. It was a worthwhile adventure. I'm glad the rental car people disappointed me.

44 comments:

Bookslinger said...

Cool! I'm honored!

Once you get started giving out books to strangers, it gets easier and easier.

I think I'm going to Atlanta in November or December. Maybe you could ask Kevin if it's okay if you give me his address, and I'll look him up.

I'm going to make a "restaurant run" there.

Cory "Indy Is A Closeted Homo" Brenner said...

Books Of Mormon In Indy knows about IPs and logs. He's a fricking genius.

I say this with love. I'm sorry to see a good mind brainswashed. Look at how nicely I tried to walk you all out of the darkness and into the light. It's sad that you will defend this lie when you know in your hearts it is not true. Pray this question: Which is the true Soda Pop... Coke or Pepsi?

Guess what. You will get an answer. And the reason for this is that god loves you. He loves to hear us pray. But that Burning in Your Chest is simply the confirmation that God exists, not that the poppycock on the book of morons is true.

You have hardened your brain to the point that when Indy writes: God made all archeological evidence dissapear and he also changed the Native American's DNA, you don't even bat an eye. The science is in Jeff: It's all a lie.

If you are studying Mormon Scholarship now then you know that there is a big move toward a reinterpretation of the Book Of Mormon as fiction within your own church.

Think of this: at the highest levels of intellectual investigations of the Book Of Mormon claims, there are Mormons who KNOW it is not true.

Which means that the brainwashing phrase that most of you hear from birth: I know this church is true -- is not true.

It's just not true.

But what's happened is that the church leaders know if you repeat a lie enough times, people will believe.

If you pit family member against family member to PROTECT THE LIE -- the lie will be protected and your church can buy MALLS all over the world.

Did you stop to think that your tithing money is going to buy Malls?

Don't be a fool.

G'night.

Mormanity said...

So, Corey, does this mean you're coming clean about your intentions? Or has someone else posted this in your name?

Anonymous said...

Not a sincere new member after all, grateful to have been led by the Spirit to find this "breath of fresh air" blog so that you could find answers to some sincere questions? Rather, just an anti-Mormon looking for a way to lead gullible believers down your path? "Look at how nicely I tried to walk you all out of the darkness and into the light." Yeah, right.

Mormanity said...

Dan, this may be an interesting case study.

cb said...

Sadly Jeff... yes, I want to cease the subterfuge. I think you are a cool but tenaciously cling to things you can't possibly believe in.

Frankly, I find the perpetuation of the lies in the Book Of Mormon criminal.

Just my two cents.

Mormanity said...

OK, thanks for fessing up. I initially misread your first post and thought you were an investigator - when I noticed that you were claiming to be a new member, it just didn't make a lot of sense, but I wanted to give a benefit of a doubt in case. But too much didn't add up.

Look, CB, whoever you are, I'm sorry you think we are such hopeless brainwashed fools. Yeah, there's plenty that takes faith and that will seem silly to outsiders, just as Christianity seems outrageous to intelligent Muslims and as belief in God seems outrageous to so many atheists. But there is an intellectually rewarding side to the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ that supplements the joy and peace that comes in our attempt at following the Savior, and I also think there are some pretty serious reasons why the Book of Mormon should not be dismissed on scientific grounds.

Could I ask what stirs you up with so much zeal to go after the LDS faith? Do you have relatives that really seem to have lost their sense because of the faith, or a best-friend that seems buts? A fiancee who left you because you wouldn't convert? I'm just curious to know a little more about the person behind the interesting posts recently, if you don't mind.

cb said...
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Bookslinger said...

Sure, altering DNA and making things disintegrate is far-fetched. But so is creating stars and planets (Genesis), raising the dead (OT and NT), raining down fire from heaven wherein ONLY the "bad guys" get burned (Exodus), causing an earthquake wherein the earth opens up and ONLY the "bad guys" get swallowed up (Exodus), instantaneously causing and curing leprosy (Exodus), parting the Red Sea (Exodus), turning water into wine (NT), healing the sick (OT/NT), curing blindness (NT), multiplying fishes and loaves (NT), and rising up from the dead after being crucified, etc, etc.

If He can do all that, then altering DNA and making swords disappear seems like small potatoes. I'm serious about the DNA, but I think there is a logical mundane explanation about the swords.

I'm serious on the DNA thing because, if the Bible is true, then ALL WOMEN in the world should have Eve's mitochondrial DNA, and ALL MEN in the world should have Adam's Y chromosome. And since they obviously do not, then HUMAN DNA HAS CHANGED since Adam and Eve. Or else Adam and Eve are not the sole progenitors of the human race as the Bible states.

This is a sincere question: Can the scriptures be interpreted in a way to allow there being other "prime parents" placed on this Earth besides Adam and Eve? Are there any scriptural loopholes that allow us to grant the possible existence of other progenitors ? Or are we forced to conclude that the children of Adam and Eve married each other?

In the LDS church I've never heard any official doctrine that allows for anyone other than Adam/Eve to be the sole progenitors. However, some other churches do assume other unknown progenitors rather than conclude that Adam and Eve's biological children married each other.

If Adam and Eve are literally the sole progenitors of the Human Race, my question is whether DNA changes since Adam and Eve have occurred naturally (IE, God "allowed" it to happen), or whether God "caused" it to happen. I honestly don't know.

But given the omnipotence of God, I have to allow the possibility that he caused it. Why did God allow or cause DNA to change? I don't know. None of the scriptures (OT, NT, BOM, DC) explain all of God's motives for all his actions or inactions.

Similar paradoxes exist in other biblical stories. How could Noah get all the species of animals on the ark? Did God miraculously preserve the species that didn't get on? Did God resurrect the dead/drowned species after the flood was over? Did the species that survived on the ark "evolve" into the multiplicity we see today? Or was the flood not truely a universal flood?

If we discount the Book of Mormon's claims as far-fetched because "there's no/little evidence", then we must also discount the Bible for the lack of evidence for much of its claims.

I also claim a literal belief in the account given in 1 Nephi 11:1, and 2 Nephi 4:25, in which Nephi was literally picked up and flown by the Holy Ghost to the tops of mountains, which bears a striking resemblance to Acts 8:39-40. Boy, talk about far-fetched.

Come to think of it, the whole God, devil, sin, atonement, judgement, eternity thing is all far-fetched. If Mormons are crazy or deluded, then so must all Christians.

Bookslinger said...

Yeah, you love us enough to call us very stupid morons. :-)

I've done, and continue to do, some stupid moronic things my life, so I guess the epithet fits.

As to the claims of reinterpreting the BoM as inspired fiction within the church, no, that's not happening IN the church. If anything, there is a movement of some "liberal" members who are leaning that way. But they are in no way endorsed by church leadership or the vast majority of active participating members. In fact, they have been spoken against at conferences and in other speeches by The Brethren at BYU and elsewhere.

"Highest levels of intellectual investigations" is giving those "liberal members" a bit too much credit.

In fact, some of those who have published such assertions that go contrary to basic church tenets have been censured and some have been excommunicated.

You also point out some mental health issues in the church. I think you've hit on something there, but I don't agree with your conclusions.

Jeff has acknowledged and started to address that concern here:
http://www.jefflindsay.com/blogs/mental-health.shtml

There is room for improvement in how church leaders deal with mental health issues of members. The church has created a division called "LDS Family Services" which works with adoptions, and also getting members who need it into counseling. LDS-FS offers some counseling, and can channel people to appropriate professionals.

You've hit on a subject that falls under the apologetic category of "Yeah, that has happened to a degree, and it was/is a 'bad thing,' and the church is addressing it."

Anonymous said...

"Look at how nicely I tried to walk you all out of the darkness and into the light. It's sad that you will defend this lie when you know in your hearts it is not true."

Hold up there a minute. You thought that you could "help" by decieving? And even though you were challenged a number of times on who you were, you persisted in claiming that you were an new member/honest investigator, depsite the fact you weren't.

So, you defended a lie when in your heart you knew it was not true.

And yet people like Jeff have problems?

*Shakes head sadly*

Good luck with your life, and my God bless.

Bookslinger said...

Malls can be a good investment. There are two billionaire mall owners in Indianapolis, Herb and Mel Simon. Very rich guys. Owning malls has been very very good for them.

If the church can make more money by investing in malls than by stocks and bonds, that's great. Large churches need investments and reserves which can generate income.

Spending 100% of the church's income, even on charitable purposes, without investing any of it for emergencies or rainy days, would not be wise. No stable large church or non-profit would do that (spend 100% of income every year.)

The only question is whether investing in malls is better or worse than other investments. I'll leave those decisions to professional money managers. But generally speaking, commercial real estate holdings are common investments, especially for non-profits.

If the retail business ever takes a dive in the future, I suppose those malls could be turned into church warehouses and maybe even chapel complexes, housing many sub-chapels and wards, Institutes, etc., in order to accomodate church growth.

In other countries, the church has established some private church-run schools for K-12. It is my opinion that that will also happen in the United States as our education system continues to nose-dive. Parts of those malls could be turned into schools.

The mall purchases are a relatively recent addition to the RfM playbook. Thanks for bringing it up.

That falls under the apologetic heading "Yeah, that's true, but it's a 'good thing'."

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Mormanity said...

Mormon-impostor CB violated one of the rules of my blog by posting a link to an anti-Mormon site, so I deleted his message. I liked him better when he was posing as a sincere new member. But below, in italics, is his deleted comment, sans links. It appears that CB's passion against the Church is fueled in part by his anger at our policies on homosexuality. He claims we kill 10% of our members - an interesting indication of the quality of his arguments against the Church. Here are his words:

If you must know, the source of my zeal it is to save lives. Mormonism kills ten percent of the people who are unfortunate enough to be born into it. A little known secret about Mormonism is that hundreds of and hundreds of Mormon teens end of committing suicide when they experience confusion over their sexual orientation. This link will take you to just one of the Mormon Suicide sites on the internet. Yours is a toxic culture that kills innocent people. It is based on coersion and the unethical perpetuation of lies.

Again: you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Read the stories of your brethren who have escaped the coersion or are you too frieghtened to open your eyes.

BYU Gestapo said...

To Cory,

Forgive me man, but you're an idiot. It's one thing to be passionate about what you believe to be the truth and to be willing to debate it out, but it's another to lie and then go ad hominem crazy.

I too give little credence to a lot of what BOM Indy says, but you need to address his arguments, not attack him personally.

The "closeted homo" comment was so far out of line I've gone near sighted just reading it!

And by the way, if you don't consider yourself a believer anymore, drop the word "frick." I find that even tackier than F***. Only [insert your favorite] say frick.

Anonymous said...

I find the whole idea that Mormonism is a lie know only to the upper echelons of the leadership to be silly. No lie of this magnitude is ever perpetuated for so long. It's just not logistically (right word?) sound.

The whole Mormon teens commit sucide, blah blah blah thing is lame too. Just as many non-Mormon teens kill themselves when they confused over their orientation.

And to top it all off, how can you justify lieing as a means to stop a "lie"? That's so hypocritical and disgusting.

I respect that you don't share our faith, but be resonable and respect our right to Freedom of Religion.

Mormanity said...

No, I would not call him an idiot - that seems too harsh. Perhaps he showed extremely poor judgment in his approach, and might be wishing he could go back and approach us more openly. It was a mistake, and I don't think it will happen again.

I think the problem is more of excessive anger coupled with misinformation and momentary poor judgement - but I don't think he is an idiot. I hope he's learned a few valuable things from all this, allowing him to go away a little smarter than before.

Daniel Peterson said...

Mormanity: "Dan, this may be an interesting case study."

Indeed. I've encountered quite a few specimens like this. Pretty strange. I'm quite serious about being fascinated by the extent of the bad behavior in which certain personality types will engage in order to combat Mormonism.
 

BYU Gestapo said...

Dan,

I've been working over in my head your notion of non-believers being part of your "laboratory," and I can't fathom why you would think that way. Don't you ever reflect on how someone like myself might react to you refering to me as a "specimen?"

Don't you think that sets the wrong tone? I mean, I did call him an idiot, he did a dumb thing, and that fits.

But I'm not telling him I'm the kid, and he's one of the ants in my farm.

If what you're measuring are emotional arguments and unprofessional dialog I wouldn't start throwing stones.

I read (completely) your "Reflections on Secular Anti-Mormonism" essay on the FAIR boards.

Referring to what has to be the Recovery board describe it as, "a kind of wildlife preserve for secular anti-Mormons." You also said, "If this is what liberation from the Mormon 'myth' makes you--a vulgar and sometimes duplicitous crank, cackling with malice and spite--then I would prefer to spend the few brief years left to me... with people who haven't been liberated."

I think "cackling with malice and spite" was one of my favorites. Doesn't using this type of language strike you as unChristian, let alone unprofessional?

I know that although you and I have had much back and forth on this blog, never have I sought to "harm others or to see others suffer; extreme ill will or spite" nor have I held "Malicious ill will prompting an urge to hurt or humiliate." Neither do the vast majority of those who post on the RfM board fit your description.

It's true that there are a select few, like Cory for example, who are foolish and say inflammitory things. But that is no license depict those who dissent from the Church as the very damned themselves.

Besides, they're on their own "turf" as it were. They call it the "Recovery" board for a reason, people feel like they need a forum for no-holds-barred venting.

If they came to BYU campus and started protesting by chanting prayers to Satan then you might have something...lol.

What you described I'm sure was said at somepoint by someone, but you are only showing the highlight reel. The typical poster deals with issues like, "My wife wants a divorce, what should I do?"

Indeed most of "us" as it were still have very close connections to the Church. My own wife for example is still quite faithful, and I do not denigrate her beliefs. Much to her credit, she does not belittle mine.

It shouldn't be "us versus them." If you really believe in Free Agency, then why not just let the dissenters have it and move on?

I know you've been around the world and have many colleagues who do not share your religious views, and I think its quite easy to assume that a signifigant portion of them are secular minded.

You must get along with them without referring to them as a "specimen" right?

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "I've been working over in my head your notion of non-believers being part of your 'laboratory,' and I can't fathom why you would think that way."

Perhaps that's because I don't. I've referred in that fashion specifically to the "Recovery" board, which is, thankfully, a quite unusual place, and, most recently, to "Cory," who, while his sneaky and dishonest behavior is not altogether rare, is also, mercifully, atypical.

BYU Gestapo: "Don't you ever reflect on how someone like myself might react to you refering to me as a 'specimen?'

Somehow, I think the highly sensitive, tender, and gentle souls over at the "Recovery" board, and poor innocent "Cory," will survive the horror.

BYU Gestapo: "Don't you think that sets the wrong tone? I mean, I did call him an idiot, he did a dumb thing, and that fits.
But I'm not telling him I'm the kid, and he's one of the ants in my farm.


I think that flatly calling someone an "idiot" is considerably worse than ironically chiding a group of aggressive critics for their often uncivil and sometimes obscene zealotry.

BYU Gestapo: "Doesn't using this type of language strike you as unChristian, let alone unprofessional?"

No. I think it precisely accurate.

BYU Gestapo: "Neither do the vast majority of those who post on the RfM board fit your description."

Many don't. But a distressing number do -- more than enough to contribute to a palpable tone there that I'm scarcely the first to have noticed.

BYU Gestapo: It's true that there are a select few, like Cory for example, who are foolish and say inflammitory things. But that is no license depict those who dissent from the Church as the very damned themselves.

I had in mind the specific (and sizeable) subset of the posters on the "Recovery" board whose hostility to Mormonism and to Mormons seems to me pathological, not those, wherever they are, who simply "dissent from the Church."

BYU Gestapo: "Besides, they're on their own 'turf' as it were. They call it the 'Recovery' board for a reason, people feel like they need a forum for no-holds-barred venting."

Sorry. I don't buy the pop psychobabble about "recovery." I see very little "recovering" going on, but a great deal of venom and contempt being spewed. It's much like some of the people I've known who've gone through bitter, ugly divorces: When they obsessively and tiresomely badmouth their former spouses to neighbors, relatives, friends, children, parents, and virtually any randomly selected semi-stranger who will listen, that's not recovery. Recovery is moving on. Obsessing delays recovery.

BYU Gestapo: "If you really believe in Free Agency, then why not just let the dissenters have it and move on?"

I've never said anything to suggest that dissenters should not have their agency, I've never done anything to take their agency away, and I've never moved a muscle to repress anybody nor suggested that anyone else ought to do so. For what it's worth, I tend toward libertarianism, politically. I really, really believe in agency.

BYU Gestapo: "I know you've been around the world and have many colleagues who do not share your religious views, and I think its quite easy to assume that a signifigant portion of them are secular minded. You must get along with them without referring to them as a 'specimen' right?"

I get along with them really well. And I never refer to them, or think of them, as "specimens."

I have, however, once or twice used terms like laboratory and specimen to refer, lightheartedly, to people who treat me with contempt, describe me (and, on occasion, even my wife) in obscene and grossly offensive ways, spit upon things I hold sacred and people whom I respect, and/or behave duplicitously, obscenely, and with appalling lack of charity out of their hatred for Mormonism and for particular Latter-day Saints. I find such behavior fascinating because it is so bizarre.

You're taking a rather gentle bit of irony much too seriously, in one sense, but, in another, not at all seriously enough.

(Incidentally, in a few hours I'll be heading out of town for eight days, and will probably not be checking my computer.)

Anonymous said...

byu gestapo, i can't speak for the "recovery" message board cuz i haven't been there, nor do i have a great interest in it. however, if it is anything like the anti-mormon posters who love to comment on jeff's blog, they are rather insane. some, such as yourself, are rather considerate and well-tempered, which i greatly appreciate. nevertheless, the great majority of the antis at mormanity have been in my opinion quite uncivil, rude, and misleading. despite this, jeff almost always replies rather kindly. if ex-mormons stayed ex-mormon and went on w/ their lives in a normal way, i'd be stoked. but the ones roaming the internet are the few exceptions who can't let go, can't keep from criticizing and often even spreading lies and misconceptions about the church. they, like cory/cb/andy, claim to be doing us a "favor"; but the way in which they usually go about "saving" us, at least on jeff's blog, is just ridiculous. they lie, misrepresent themselves and the facts, use profanity and vulgarity, etc. they are downright crazy at times. i hope it is just because all the normal ex-mormons have better things to do that we really only get to hear from the wackos.

BYU alter ego said...

To me Daniel strikes me as the kind of personality that's impervious to apology. Ironic isn't it?

In essense he informed me that I had no reason to be offended. Look, hint to the wise, people get offended for a reason. It's an emotional thing.

I will also be the first to admit that Daniel has much reason to be offended by what's been said of him over the years.

There is a reason divorce is so similar in nature to the experience of those who leave the Church. Except, in the latter, it's the Church who is perceived as the offending party.

Now before you all jump on me I don't want to go into who's fault is who's, but I just want to point out the dynamic is the same. It's real, tangible, repeatable, measurable.

Getting over emotional trauma like that is equally real, measurable and necessary. Having other people to talk to, who will listen and not blow you off is critical to that.

It's not psychobabble...lol

It's a low blow to demonize those who disagree with you. And it's not professional even if "they" are the one's who started it.

Sticks and stones right?

Bookslinger said...

Does anyone here know if the Branch presidents at the MTC are generally called from the ranks of BYU faculty?

That might explain some of the perceptions I had back then that seem to match up with my perceptions of the attitudes of some of those who write book reviews for FARMS.

BYU-G: having been on both sides of the fence, I see truth in what both you and Daniel Peterson are saying. I have to agree with your point about exmembers or disaffected members needing some recovery or healing from the breakup, especially if there was conflict or abuse that never got resolved.

I went into a deep and long depression over it. I'd have flashbacks to some of the worst events. It was much like PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

But I just never realized that resolution could have been worked out in the church, and that such condescending attitudes and abusive manipulation by a few priesthood leaders was NOT church policy, and that the higher ups did NOT condone it.

Like someone pointed out to you, (Jeff or Dan P) I was also a fundamentalist type expecting the church and it's leaders to be perfect, infallible, etc. So I didn't recognize some of the attitude and treatment experienced at the MTC as abusive. At the time, I thought their attitude and behavior couldn't have been in any way "wrong" because the church is true (ie, perfect).

Looking back, I unconsciously adopted some of that abusive attitude and behavior towards fellow missionaries when they were out of line, just like the MTC leaders copped the attitude. And then I became emotionally abusive towards those who I thought weren't doing the right things.

It took many years of introspection, and growing up, until I stopped looking at less-than-perfect members (rank-and-filers and leaders) as "bad guys." Like Jeff keeps saying, you can't expect people in the church, even leaders, to be perfect in their interactions with other members 100% of the time.

The Branch presidents at the MTC treated the missionaries 21 years ago as if "You're a bunch of screw ups, now get in line." Every talk at the weekly assembly was condescending. Everything was suppressive instead of uplifting. (Classroom teachers were cool, it was just the BP's and the Pres who were manipulative.) Every interview with the BP and his assistant was manipulative, as if you were the "bad guy" and couldn't be expected to do the right thing so they had to bully you into it.

That's what I've seen in a few of the FARMS reviews, condescending and bully attitudes. Is that a college thing? Do many profs at most universities sound that way? Do BYU bishops and branch presidents treat student members like that today? Is it a BYU thing? Is it a Provo thing?

Most of the RFM'ers who complain that the church wants only sheeple, don't seem to realize that in cases of offense or abuse, you are allowed to step out of line and go up the chain of command, as in Matthew 18:15-17, and DC 42:88-89.

So yeah, disaffected people _do_ need recovery, but the people at RfM don't realize that they could have found that recovery and the resolution of their problems within the system, and at the same time, helped the system improve itself, and correct those isolated leaders who were crossing the line into unrighteous dominion.

After realizing that "the church isn't perfect" they chose "the church can't be true" paradigm, instead of the "the church is true, but less than perfect" paradigm
in order to escape, resolve, and recover from the conflicts.

Thanks for posting here. Your back-and-forths with Jeff and Dan have really helped me resolve things from my past.

BYU alter ego said...
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BYU alter ego said...

To Book of Mormon Indy,

It is indeed true that many BYU professors end up as MTC Branch Presidents, I know one of them quite well actually. They also pull from the general Provo population.

I worked at the MTC for some time in case anyone's wondering how I know.

Indy, I appreciate your recognition of the emotional needs of those who dissent. You've been there, and I think you realize just how it can reach into your very core and tear you up.

As far as the tone of FARMS, I never took a class from Dr. Peterson, but the general comments I get from people who have is that he is very amiable and likable in person.

Most of my professor's at the Y fell into this same category. Many were quirky, you generally don't get to be so smart without being a touch backward at times, but very helpful.

There are some hardliners who are just condescending pricks.

BYU administration is a whole other story. It has a long, and sordid history of authoritarianism and hard line tactics with the individual students. I believe this is an institutionally rooted problem and is best left to be discussed another day.

The "tone" from FARMS I believe comes from it's target audience, those who wish to hear rebuttal against what the non-believers say. That audience is quite comfortable with seeing the "other side" as it were taken down a couple of notches.

With some exception, the language used by the FARMS writers would get ripped right out by editors of any scientific and/or professional journal, that included humanities etc...

Also, I believe that the "dissenter" has always been a pariah in LDS culture ever since the beginning. If you look at the excommunications of Oliver Cowdery or William Law for example, the formal reasons for the ex'ing were spurious and overshadowed what were generally selfish motives.

Both dissented for greviances that were serious. Joseph's relationship to Fanny Alger in the case of the former, and Joseph's attempts to "spiritually" marry Jane Law, in the latter.

Ever since the beginning those that leave the Church, even for real good reason, have been looked at with contempt. This contempt still shines on today and is the reason why "exmo's" as it were are a thing to be "experimented" with, or studied "in the lab."

Even if we assume that the Church is the "One true Church," and that if you don't die faithful to it's teachings you won't be exalted, is marginalizing those who leave appropriate?

Anonymous said...

i think it is wrong of anyone to demean someone who leaves the church just for leaving. it's not appropriate. what i would be slower to condemn, however, is when those who leave the church turn around and attack it with lies, deceit, profanity, vulgarity, and rudeness. thankfully this is not the norm, and if someone who has left the church is polite, they should be treated w/ the same respect back. certainly even those who are disrespectful should be treated w/ respect to some degree. but as you've probably seen on this forum, some of the antis seem to be just plain bad people.

cayblood said...

At 8:48 AM, September 25, 2005, BYU Gestapo said...

"It's not psychobabble...lol

"It's a low blow to demonize those who disagree with you. And it's not professional even if "they" are the one's who started it."

BYU Gestapo: Daniel has not "demonized" his opponents, and your unwillingness to respond specifically to his claims demonstrates the weakness of your argument.

BYU alter ego said...

Cayblood said: Daniel has not "demonized" his opponents, and your unwillingness to respond specifically to his claims demonstrates the weakness of your argument.

First off, what arguments exactly are you referring to? There have been lots and I need you to hone in a bit...lol

Second, if by demonize you mean "To represent as evil or diabolic," then you should reread the nice "cackling with malice and spite" comment.

Daniel's core description is that of evil, specifically he's describing the people who spend time on the "Recovery from Mormonism" board.

Therefore your assertion is wrong, he very obviously demonizes those people.

So either you don't read very thouroughly (probable), or you just want to defend Dr. Peterson because he defends the faith (also probable.) You tell me which one it is.

Bookslinger said...

I don't know many facts about polygamy in the Nauvoo period. But, I have a hard time accepting the claim that Oliver Cowdery dissented merely because of allegations (true or not) regarding Fanny Alger and JS. Oliver was quoted by Joseph as wanting to practice polygamy himself after the Lord revealed the Doctrine, but before the Lord authorized its actual practice.

The Lord revealed the doctrine of plural marriage to Joseph and Oliver during the Kirtland/Missouri period, but hadn't authorized it's implementation until later.

I have seen a letter from OC, I think it's somewhere in the 7-volume set of B.H. Roberts History of the Church, wherein he complained of having to sacrifice property and possessions in Missouri, and that letter made it seem like that was his major disaffection from the church, and that he willingly parted company.

Oliver's claims about Fanny Alger may have been mere piling on on his part after his disaffection.

I have seen data in pro-Mormon sources that Brigham Young contracted polygamous marriages in Nauvoo, both before and after Joseph's death, and that some of those wives bore him children during the Nauvoo period.

If BY practiced polygamy during Joseph's lifetime, I find it easy to accept that Joseph did too. And, why not? Section 132 of the D&C talks about plural marriage, and I think that section (or another one) also tells Emma to accept those whom the Lord gave to Joseph.

Who Joseph married, or asked to marry him, whether "for eternity but not for time" or both time and eternity, is all a cloudy haze to me. At this point I don't really care. I know he was a prophet, and I believe plural marriage was authorized of the Lord. Everything else is a matter of he-said/she-said.

As holder of all the keys in the church, Joseph had the authority to marry others, grant or officiate plural marriages, enter plural marriages, grant divorces, etc. As Mayor of Nauvoo, and there being Mormon judges in Nauvoo, he and other church members could also officiate civil marriages, and grant civil divorces. So no matter what Joseph did, I believe he had authority to do it. And, just for the sake of discussion, supposing Joseph did something he wasn't authorized by the Lord to do, he'll have to face his own judgement by the Lord for it. The scriptures show that Moses made mistakes, Jonah made mistakes, Lehi and Nephi made mistakes. But I think we've had this discussion of prophets making mistakes before.

I've only spent a total of 8 active years in the church, but just in the midwest (including 2 months at MTC and 22 months in South America). I've never seen anyone treat a dissenter, or an inactive, or an exmember, or a disaffected member with contempt.

The only harsh treatment I've seen are some responses towards those who actively seek to impugn the church, such as some of the vociferous and angry anti-mormons who publish half-truths and outright lies.

When I left the church, my request for no home teachers was honored. I asked for "letter only" contact, and the EQ pres wrote for about 2 months, but that was the last I heard from the church.

My only direct contact with Utah Mormons was in the MTC and in the mission field in South America. Yes, I've been in midwest wards with members from Utah, but they were all nice. All my negative experiences with Utah Mormons are limited to the MTC and while in the mission field. The only other "bad eggs" I had problems with were some Elders from California. But that was before the bar was raised. IE, the church has taken steps to correct those problems with missionaries.

Therefore, from my point of view, the negative general assertions about Mormons you've made (I'm not saying all your assertions are negative), and also the negative assertions by the RfMers, seem to only apply to some Utah and some California Mormons. I've never seen those "bad" things in the midwest.

At this moment, the only "offenses" I can recall here in the Midwest were minor ones such as being given too many callings and assignments (that's a common one, and you just have to learn to say "enough!"), given more than my fair share of assignments in EQ "because I was single and had the time" given a calling without being set apart (big whoop), extended a calling by someone who should have gone through the stake level instead of crossing a ward boundary to extend the calling directly (ie, he violated chain of command, and I should have called him on it); but the worst offense in my eyes (at least back then) was being hounded (at the time I called it harrassment) by 3 or 4 obese women with mental problems, one of whom projected feelings of rape, and kept wanting to hug me and touch my hands. (I later came to believe she was raped as a child, and that's how/why she projected those feelings.) One time I hugged her out of pity because she seemed so pathetic, and even though there was no "bad touch", she somehow made me feel like I was being raped.

Bookslinger said...

Wait a second. Oliver left the church in the Missouri period, prior to Joseph moving from Kirtland to Missouri, and therefore prior to the saints moving to Nauvoo.

So regardless of where and when the alleged or supposed improper relationship between Joseph and Fanny Alger happened, Oliver would have had no direct knowledge of it. Plus his statements on it only came after he was disaffected for other reasons. Two reasons to discount his comments about it.

BYU alter ego said...

Indy,

You gave a very astute analysis of Oliver IMO. Oliver's knowledge of the Fanny Alger incident(s) does indeed predate his excommunication by up to 6 years. For reference what he said of it to his brother was:

"When [Joseph Smith] was there we had some conversation in which in every instance I did not fail to affirm that which I had said was strictly true. A dirty, nastly, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger's was talked over in which I strictly declared that I had never deserted from the truth in the matter, and as I supposed was admitted by himself."

While it's true he had complaints, you mentioned the property in Missouri, as well as envy as illustrated in D&C 6. What got the excommunication wheels starting was his vocal opposition to some measures in Far West that he felt violated the separation of Church and State.

In the end he was ex'd officially for "inactivity and accusing Smith of Adultery." Also at issue was his desire to collect on debts from the then failed Kirtland bank.

We know of course that he remained in Far West and also had a change of heart and in the end returned to the Church.

Perhaps he overcame his dislike of the doctrine of Polygamy. That would seem logical.

The bottom line is still however that he was ex'd for speaking the truth.

Nowhere is it ever indicated by anyone that Joseph married Fanny. So adultery is a reasonable charge that if untrue, Joseph should have been able to defend himself against.

But I think it's telling that those close to him, who knew him best, Emma and Oliver in particular, expressed bitter anger over the incident.

Did Oliver express pettiness, envy and was opportunistic in his charge against Joseph? I could be sold on that argument.

But ultimately he was really ex'd for his dissent.

Here is an interesting passage from a book on Cowdery that relates to what we're discussing:

Cowdery and the Whitmers became known as "the dissenters," but they continued to live in and around Far West, where they owned a great deal of property. Fervent members of the Church including Sampson Avard, Lyman Wight and Hyrum Smith organized a confraternity which became known as the "Danites" whose first stated goal was to expel the "dissenters." On June 17, 1838, President Sidney Rigdon announced to a large Mormon congregation that the dissenters were "as salt that had lost its savor" and that it was the duty of the faithful to cast the dissenters out "to be trodden beneath the feet of men." Cowdery and the Whitmers took this Salt Sermon as a threat against their lives and fled the county. Reports of their treatment was one of the early factors which led to the Mormon War.(Phillip R. Legg, Oliver Cowdery: The Elusive Second Elder of the Restoration, Herald House: Independence, Missouri, 1989.)

BYU alter ego said...

Fanny Alger happened as early as 1832, so Oliver was able to have direct knowledge of it. And you're right that the ex'ing didn't happen until 1838.

See my above post... :)

Bookslinger said...

>The bottom line is still however that he was ex'd for speaking the truth.

I don't know that. He had withdrawn from activity and had publicly spoken and _acted_ against both the Church and Joseph, prior to his excommunication, and prior to his "nasty affair" quote.

>But ultimately he was really ex'd for his dissent.

Yes, of course.

> Fanny Alger happened as early as 1832, so Oliver was able to have direct knowledge of it.

Allegedly, both as to the timeframe, and to Oliver's supposed knowledge.

There were so many obvious lies published, I think the charges of adultery were just made up by those who had a falling out with Joseph, and who wouldn't accept the doctrines of celestial marriage and plural marriage.

Ministers from other churches and disaffected members made up lies from the beginning, so it's hard to distinguish fact from fiction. I'm sure even contemporary (to them) sincere outsiders had a hard time sorting it all out back then.

As I understand it, Oliver did not make his "nasty affair" statement until after he had separated himself from the church for other reasons.

I have a hard time accepting the possibility that Joseph committed serious transgressions while leading the church. I have received so many testimonies and miraculous spiritual confirmations of the Doctrines and Covenants, and while reading "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith", that I cannot conceive that he was a fallen prophet. Nor can I admit the possibility of him being a fraud from the beginning, again due to miraculous spirital confirmations that I have received. I'm referring to personal revelations that were more profound and more powerful than a "burning in the bosom."

I don't have the time to add another hobby, that of Mormon history. At this point, all we have is some written testimony of those involved. And from this distance, I don't know who (of the participants back then) to fully believe. I personally know that JS was a prophet. And it's been amply demonstrated that many people lied and made false charges against him.

I feel that I have to be true to what God has personally revealed to me, and believe God over what disaffected Mormons said 165 years ago.

There are a zillion things, little and big accusations, and apparent inconsistencies in the history of the church that our accusers point to and say "Aha!"

But we have work to do. We don't have time to answer every point of the finger. And in fact, the finger pointing is endless, because like Parley Pratt said, as soon as you finish addressing one issue, they bring up another, and it never ceases. And every new generation rehashes accusations of previous generations that were already answered back then, but the responses need to be relearned by the new generation.

In the final analysis, Truth (with a capital T) of spiritual matters is spiritually discerned, as Paul said to the Corinthians. So if I'm going to be true to the Bible, then that also requires me to follow the spiritual revelations that I've received from God.

And if God tells me one thing via profound and powerful revelation, and human beings make sworn statements to the contrary, well, I hope you can understand I'm going to follow the profound and powerful personal revelations.

There are many, indeed the vast majority of, church historians who have studied early church history (and know as much as, if not more than, the accusers) who have not lost their testimonies of Jospeph Smith and the church.

In my younger days I was a hard line scientific facts and figures guy, and didn't understand much about human nature. But my education about human nature began when I finally understood the phrase "figures don't lie, but liars figure."

You're a scientific guy who understands genetics pretty well. But you should also understand that there's scientific evidence, and there's interpretation of scientific evidence. There's scripture, and there's interpretation of scripture.

A clear picture is only attained when one considers _all_ the scientific and _all_ the scriptural evidence, PLUS has a correct interpretation of both. Lack of key evidence, incorrect assumptions, faulty interpretation, and insufficient perspective all lead to faulty conclusions.

Bookslinger said...

I'm going to take my next post to a fresher thread about how we should trust personal revelation over the testimony of humans.

Osvaldo said...

It takes a bit of crust to criticize Dan Petersen for being insensitive to the RfMs, while posting under the handle of 'BYU Gestapo' and accusing BYU Administrators of various and sundry flaws. Perhaps you would say that truth is your defense (really? BYU is literally the Gestapo? They beat people in cells?) but that was Dan Petersen's defense too and you were not buying it.

BYU alter ego said...

To Osvaldo,


Obviously nobody gets beaten in cells. But BYU does have a well recorded history of de facto totalitarian leadership.

From Wilkinson's band of secret student informers, including the anti-commie craze, to the firings of various professors for holding feminist views or teaching evolution, to the censorship of "The Daily Universe" to the squelching of the off-campus paper, "The Student Review," BYU certainly qualifies as a heavy handed, authoritarian organization.

My favorite Wilkinson quote is, "...no surfers!"

Notice however that I don't accuse Wilkinson of cackling like a goblin and seeking the destruction of souls with Malice.

That would be an unsubstantiated personal affront making my argument fallacious. That's the apologist route.

My beefs with BYU administration on the other hand are well founded and there are many evidences to back up my assertion.

I suggest you read, "The Lord's University: Freedom and Authority at BYU" by Bryan Waterman and Brian Kagel. Here also is a link that reviews the book:

http://www.shrubwalkers.com/prose/eric/ivorytower.html

By the way, are you a BYU alumnus? Because if you're not it would show just how little you know what you're talking about.

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "To me Daniel strikes me as the kind of personality that's impervious to apology."

Not at all. If you apologize to me, I'll be genuinely pleased. And I'm sorry that you feel that way.

BYU Gestapo: "It's a low blow to demonize those who disagree with you. And it's not professional even if 'they' are the one's who started it."

Quite true. Which is one of the reasons why I never demonize those who disagree with me. There's not much that I can do for people who demonize themselves, though.

BYU alter ego said...

BYU Gestapo: "To me Daniel strikes me as the kind of personality that's impervious to apology."

Daniel Peterson: Not at all. If you apologize to me, I'll be genuinely pleased. And I'm sorry that you feel that way.


Touche. The way I worded that was flawed. What I meant to say is that you're impervious to the idea that you owe an apology.

But you did apologize I guess for me feeling that way so now I just need you feel bad for the right thing...hehe :P

Look, I think you're description of RfM posters is way off. I think you take extreme cases and make them appear as the norm.

Any internet bulletin board that offers anonymous posting is going to have a very wild, fringe of posters because they lack consequence to what they say.

RfM is unique in that many who post are very angry and feel betrayed. But even that falls short of your description.

I'm a regular poster on RfM, have I demonized myself? If so, how is that?

My own (TBM) wife said it best when she read your essay and said, "That guy is way too arrogant to be taken seriously." Your tone of that essay was indeed very arrogant and if you can't see that then I don't think anything I say will convince you.

On the other hand, I guess I owe you the same amount of latitude I would give the RfM people. Perhaps it's not fair for me to hold you to a different standard.

Some would argue though that your position with FARMS and being a BYU professor would require more. But that's your decision.

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "What I meant to say is that you're impervious to the idea that you owe an apology."

In that regard, you're entirely right. I don't believe that I owe you or the Recovery board an apology. There is nothing in that essay of mine that merits my asking your forgiveness.

What's more, it strikes me as simply ridiculous to affect a pose of injured innocence and offended harmlessness on behalf of the Recovery board. If ever a message board has forfeited any credibility in complaining about alleged insensitivity, that's surely the place.

But I don't even admit to the supposed insensitivity.

BYU Gestapo: "Look, I think you're description of RfM posters is way off. I think you take extreme cases and make them appear as the norm."

I freely acknowledge that there are a number of posters on that board who do not appear to be pathological in the sense to which I was referring. But there are plenty who do, and the tone they set there is one of the most immediately obvious aspects of the board. I am -- putting it very mildly -- not the first to have noticed or commented upon this.

BYU Gestapo: "My own (TBM) wife said it best when she read your essay and said, 'That guy is way too arrogant to be taken seriously.' Your tone of that essay was indeed very arrogant and if you can't see that then I don't think anything I say will convince you."

De gustibus non est disputandum. For what it's worth, several people have written very positive notes to me about that little essay, including some I've never met. Is there any reason why I must accept your evaluation of it over theirs, and over my own?

Incidentally, I had a look at the board tonight (for the first time in a month or so) and found several gems, among them these two:

(1) IMHO [Peterson] has sociopathic/borderline psychopathic tendencies. Guys like him give me the willies because they don't have any ethical/moral compass to guide what they do in life. He has no boundaries on who is fair game in his nasty attacks against everyone who might disagree with him. Objective reasoning does NOT exist in his world.

(2) I don't have much to say about DP & Co. The fact that they're intellectual charlatans pales beside their lack of fundamental human decency.

There were lots and lots of other really good passages too, even excluding the obscene ones about me and the ones attacking my appearance, speculating about my sex life, and offering opinions about my eating habits.







 

BYU alter ego said...

Daniel Peterson: There were lots and lots of other really good passages too, even excluding the obscene ones about me and the ones attacking my appearance, speculating about my sex life, and offering opinions about my eating habits.

dulce est desipere in loco?

Daniel Peterson said...

But they shouldn't do it all the time.

BYU alter ego said...

True, very true. For what it's worth I disagree very strongly with those who do that, and I apologize that it happens.

Daniel Peterson said...

Thank you.