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Saturday, April 10, 2010

"I May Not Know Much, But I Do Know Books" - One Scholar's Take on the Power and Depth of the Book of Mormon

Gregory L. Smith over at Mormon Scholars Testify discusses his passion for reading. He's a book addict who needs help, he says. He humbly states that he may not know much, but he does know books.

Brother Smith mentions that Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis was an inspiring book for him--a "deeply spiritual experience" when he first read it. Then he compares its power and value to that most despised of books, the Book of Mormon:
I’ve read Lewis’ book twice since. The second time was after my mission, and the third was a few years ago. In both cases, I enjoyed rereading it—but, it didn’t seem to have more to teach me. It had taught me what it could (which was, and continues to be, very valuable), but the spiritual power and transformation of the first reading was not repeated. (Granted, this may say more about me than Lewis.)

I first read the Book of Mormon with any seriousness more than two decades ago. I’ve continued to read it ever since—I’ve lost count, but I’m sure I’ve read it cover-to-cover at least once a year for more than a quarter century, and many sections much more often. Remember, I’m an addict—I can’t help myself. I need help.

As for the Book of Mormon, the truly amazing thing to me is that more than twenty-five years later, it’s still doing the same thing. Lewis was educated in the great universities of the world. He read and spoke multiple languages. He was a subtle thinker and gifted communicator. And, yet, his book seems to have done all it can for me after only a reading or two.

By contrast, this Book of Mormon, produced by a backwoods farm boy with three years of formal education, dictated over a period of about two months—one continuous run-on sentence, no punctuation, grammatical errors and all—continues to enlighten and transform my life.

If it wasn’t helping me, I’d have quit reading it. There’s too much to read—and I love reading too much—to read things that I don’t get anything out of. Life’s too short, and no one knows that better than a book-addict in a library.

Any book that could get me to read it that many times, that often, and still benefit would have to be something special—an astonishing production, a work of staggering genius even if there were no divine claims with it at all. No other book has ever done that, save the gospels and parables of Jesus.

I may not know much—but I do know books.

I occasionally hear critics dismiss the Book of Mormon as trivial, or not terribly complex or impressive—well, there are people who don’t see what the fuss about Bach or Shakespeare is either. Such dismissiveness says far more about the critic than it does the work being dismissed.
My experiences with the Book of Mormon have been similar to Brother Smith's, both in terms of its converting power and its power to satisfy, enlighten, instruct, and amaze day after day, reading after reading, over decades. I think it's fair to say that I know less that Brother Smith, but have a similar love and respect for the intellectual and spiritual depth of the Book of Mormon. To dismiss it casually is a terrible mistake. To exert great energy in ignoring it or in dismissing it, as some critics do, is an even more foolish mistake. It's a book that deserves to be read with an open mind and heart, and to be studied and applied with real intent and care. Then one can have the courage to turn to God for knowledge about the divine origins and power of this sacred text, another witness of Jesus Christ from the ancient New World that confirms and strengthens the witness of the Bible from the Old.

None of us knows much, but if there's one book you really should get to know this year, I would suggest it's the Book of Mormon.

41 comments:

Pops said...

I've had a similar experience, having read the Book of Mormon at least once per year for the last 15 or 20 years. The words and layers of meaning flow off the pages into my heart, communicating more deeply and powerfully than one might expect. It's rather astonishing that this should happen when the words are so familiar as to be almost memorized, but it happens nonetheless.

Michelle said...

Fabulous. The Book of Mormon is an amazing book. Thanks for sharing this...will go over and read the whole thing.

bunker said...

Thanks Jeff, you have inspired me to read it more often. Sometimes I get off track as far as reading as much as I should.

Matthew said...

There's an old addage that you get out of something what you put in. I think it's especially applicable to religious texts whether they be the Koran, or the old testament, the Book of Mormon or the writings of L Ron Hubbard. Meaning is there to be found if you dig deep enough.

I have a feeling that if one believed 'Mere Christianity' to be a prophetic inspired work and if that work was a compendium of stories (with often rather vague meanings) that people could definitely pull just as much from them. As another aside, there are no doubt people who have read the book and find it to be completely uninspired and unfruitful, while their own holy books are held in the same light that LDS members hold the BoM.

How many people have read and reread the works of Shakesphere mainly because there was a large cultural push to do so? I often wonder if there isn't an element of the emperor's new clothes involved in the popularity of books like Moby Dick or the other great writings of the past because as interesting as they may be, they don't seem all that much more interesting or well written then many stories from today.

Tom T said...

I love reading, but have found that it is hard to talk to others about great books. So many other people have the mentality that Chicken Soup for the Soul is a great book. What? Or that the current fad of Vampire books, is in any way good literature. NO!
To compare today's authors like Dan Brown, Clive Cussler, John Grisham or Tom Clancy to the masters like Balzac, Flaubert, Dumas is ludicrous. Yet, I watch people on the subway reading those kinds of books and have no idea of how great Shakespeare is and why his works live on.
Doesn't anyone now a days appreciate the authors of old like Tolstoy, Pushkin and Dostoyevsky? It is sad :(.
Ok, rant over. :)
btw, Matthew. Uhmmm, it's Shakespeare, not Shake Sphere.

Matthew said...

D'oh! Spell check strikes again. Sorry.

I hate to be like this but in all honesty I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One can say, "oh that book is crap, you should read this one it's much better." but that isn't always true. What may be a lame comic book for one person is an enthralling journey into a fantasy world for another. There isn't some objective ruler with which you can measure the worth of a creative work, whether that be one of the classics or the modern day blockbuster, people enjoy media for different reasons.

Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Maybe that just means I'm an uncultured pig, but that's how I roll. :)

Anonymous said...

I understand that you don't believe it, Matthew. However, I haven't found any other writing that produces more profound effect with each successive reading. Maybe you should give it a try.

Jettboy said...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we aren't talking aesthetics. We are talking depth and relevance. I believe that The Book of Mormon is a hidden treasure that critics easily dismiss because they don't believe in it. The knife cuts both ways. Fine and all, but words still have power even if you don't want them to. There are books you don't have to like and yet still understand the richness of the writing.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Book of Mormon. I've read several of L. Ron Hubbard's books of non-fiction, tried to read in a book of the Hindu religion, read the Holy Bible between 1/2 dozen and a dozen times, and read the Book of Mormon probably at least as many times.

Surely the eye of the beholder matters much. For any book to help you, you must probbly be searching and be familiar with the language. Sometimes I search and sometimes I do not. When I search, I benefit from scripture but like the fellow who was quoted so extensively in this post, it is pretty rare for non-scripture to feed as deeply as scripture does for a second time, even when you are searching.

The Book of Mormon is one text that for many years I couldn't see why a man couldn't have written it although I knew that wasn't how it came about. But after life, thought, answers to prayers about other things, studying various transformational approaches, thousands of hours of meditation, and humility, I began to recognize a much greater depth of understanding behind words in the Book of Mormon and Holy Bible than I found present in other books; and I felt moved at times while reading the Book of Mormon in ways that other writers had not yet moved me.

I came to understand that in fact, no farm boy could have written that book, nor any deceiver, nor other person who is not of God.

The book is true.

Matthew said...

@ Jettboy,
Don't get me wrong. I don't doubt that for many people the BoM is a work that is full of wonder and meaning, or that they read it and come away with new things every time. I'm quite certain that is the case.

To say that this is the case for ALL people is where I heartily disagree. One can make the accusation that anyone that doesn't get this sort of zen like relationship with god by reading it is either 1. doing it wrong, or 2. needs to be more humble, or righteous so that they can be blessed with understanding. If that's a person's stance on it, then so be it. I'd just point out that there are any number of texts out there that have just as devout followers, and ones that find that same level of meaning from their words even though you may not find it in them.

In the end people will decide for themselves which books are most worthy to read and gain new meaning from, but there isn't an objective ruler that you can measure all books by and say, "okay, this book is meaningful and deep, and this one is not." There will nearly always be someone that will buck your trend (not out of dishonesty either, but because they sincerely feel differently.)

At least as near as I can tell this seems to be the case. I definitely see what people like about the BoM, and how they can derive the sorts of meanings that they do from them. I just don't see it as a book that is unique or alone in this.

Tom the Younger said...

Matthew,

I wouldn't say that the Book of Mormon is entirely unique or alone, but it belongs to a very small and select group of books known as "scripture". It is in my opinion the very best designed and edited book of scripture currently in existence. I love the Book of Mormon and have a personal testimony of its truth.

On the other hand I also love reading the four gospels in the New Testament. The concentrated goodness and power of the Savior's teaching and example found there are quite incredible. I also love many other parts of the New Testament, especially James and Peter, but must admit to mixed feelings about Paul's epistles. I feel a bit guilty about not appreciating Revelations as much as 1 Nephi 14 implies that I should. Hopefully, someday I'll understand it better and repent :-).

I also love many parts of the Old Testament, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants (not necessarily in that order), but I have to say that none of them feels as tightly and carefully constructed as the Book of Mormon. I am deeply grateful that God has prepared such a manual for our day. It has blessed my life and my family tremendously. I know that it is true.

Matthew said...

@ Tom the younger,
That's awesome. I'm very happy for you that it brings that kind of clarity and joy to your life.

Again I don't wish in the least bit to tell people that their holy books are not important to them. I just feel it's unfair to claim that one's holy book must be found holy by all people. There are any number of things that I find extremely meaningful and priceless in my own life that may be held in very low regard by other people and this isn't a mark that said people are of inferior caliber then I am. They just have a very differnt outlook on things.

Does that make sense?

Tom the Younger said...

Matthew,

I don't entirely disagree with you. Scripture is a rather difficult treasure to share. I cannot just give my knowledge of the truthfulness of scripture such as the Book of Mormon to someone else (I say "knowledge" because it is more than belief.) However, it is an article of my faith that *everyone* can and should gain such knowledge for themselves.

I cannot force it on you, but I (like countless missionaries before me) do hope to provoke others into trying the experiment for themselves. A testimony of the Book of Mormon is a key to much else including Jesus Christ, modern prophets, and the Restored Church. In the meantime I can't help but rejoice in the goodness of it.

Matthew said...

I guess I would disagree that people have 'knowledge' of such things (using the word in the way that it's commonly used anyways) but that's my point of view and could certainly be incorrect.

I understand what you're saying and I'm glad the Book of Mormon is like that for you.

For me it is not, it really does read to me the same as any other religious text (bible, koran, etc), but perhaps I'm just not doing it right. I'm pretty skeptical about spiritual experiences in general though, so that may be the problem.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many people that 'know' the BOM is true really just think it is true and they don't know the difference between knowing something and believing with all your heart?
Lots of people who have 'known' it to be true now know it to not be true. In fact, that is becoming the case more and more. I guess they were mistaken before. Of course, they could be mistaken now too. hehehe

EditorJack said...

I've been a professional book editor for more than 30 years, and there's one thing I know how to do really well--understand what's going on in a book. I can see what's happening "between the lines," I can see the cracks and crevices where pieces of text were put together, and I can spot baloney a mile away. And I'm here to tell you that the Book of Mormon continues to amaze me with its profundity and complexity. One of the things I notice most is the overriding hand of its pious compiler--Mormon--whose marks are all over it. I see other marks from the book's naive translator--Joseph Smith--but that's a different issue.

For the poster who mentioned Moby Dick and Shakespeare as being great only because of "cultural push"--try actually reading those works (several times, in depth), and then we can talk.

Matthew said...

@ editor jack,
You are welcome to your opinion. You're trying to assert that your opinion is the 'correct' opinion though and you're going to be at a bit of a loss to show that this is the case. I'm not saying those books are bad in the slightest bit. I'm just saying that there isn't an objective ruler that you can use to determine what others will find worthwhile, deep, or interesting.

That people find a book to be deep or enlightening I don't doubt in the slightest. To say that this book will be deep or enlightening to others based on your own personal view of it is not something that I see good supporting evidence of.

Matthew said...

@ editor jack, one more note:

Would you disagree that there are people out there that are just as much 'experts' of writing of even moreso then yourself that would see the BoM very differently? Are their points of view on the subject valid or would you just say they are lying, incorrect, or deceived?

Jettboy said...

Matthew, you assume I mean "belief" probably because others here do mean that. I don't care if you believe the Book of Mormon is the most false book in the world. Fine and dandy and as you say we all have our own opinion of all sorts of things.

However, I think you and other critics too easily dismiss The Book of Mormon as cheep and lacking depth. When I said the knife goes both ways, your dismissal of others' encounter is a way of declaring unbelief as much as others have declared belief.

"I'd just point out that there are any number of texts out there that have just as devout followers, and ones that find that same level of meaning from their words even though you may not find it in them." Then I would be a self-indulgent ignoramus for not at least researching why these books have followers. That is, unless you go the its the influence of the devil route. For instance, I can't simply dismiss the power and meaning of the Koran just because I don't think much of Islam.

"I just don't see it as a book that is unique or alone in this." And neither do I or, for that matter, I wouldn't think many Mormons would who know their own religion. Hugh Nibley certainly didn't. There is the faith issue and then there is the text and meaning issue. That you admit "I definitely see what people like about the BoM, and how they can derive the sorts of meanings that they do from them," is very different than the way you treated the subject with your first wave of the hand comments.

That others find the text leading to a conviction of faith is one thing. To then say offhandedly it doesn't mean anything that anyone finds meaning is posturing. I am just glad you back peddled a little from where you started; having come close to calling Mormons fools.

Anonymous said...

The problem I have found with the BOM is that it is just too boring in places. And yes, I have read it several times.
What is amazingly obvious and no one seems to say is that each time you read it you find something new or some old passage has a new layer of meaning is because.... You are different and in a different frame of mind and your life experience is now different from the last time you read it.
It is not that the book is somehow now revealing something new, or some magic is being used to open your eyes to things you have missed. It is quite simply that you change how you see things as you are not the same person you were when you read it before.
This happens to me when I read Atlas Shrugged. This does not mean it is a work inspired by God.

Matthew said...

Jettboy,
I guess what I may have been reacting to a bit harshly is the idea that "I know what the truth is, and the rest of the world is lost" sort of mentality that comes from people when they talk about the book of mormon. Even moreso it's the, "I can tell that it's correct and worthwhile, in fact I can tell that objectively it's more worthwhile to all people. If they don't find it worthwhile then there is something wrong with them."

That some people find the book of mormon to be deep and meaningful is without question. That all people should find it meaningful (if they don't then they're doing something incorrectly) is not an idea that seems valid to me.

I fully admit that my own personal opinions, likes and dislikes don't apply to all other people (who knows, maybe not even to any other people.) Perhaps I was in the wrong by mentioning any of this, but the tone of the post seemed to make it out as if by some sort of objective source (i.e. Joe Blow off the street, not just to LDS members) that the BoM holds obvious and inherent worth above the writings of all others. Perhaps I was erroneous in this, but it seemed that comparing it to the book 'mere Christianity' further seemed to reinforce that.

I don't think Mormons are any more foolish then the rest of us. We all do foolish things. Making a claim that one's POV is the correct POV for ALL others to have seems foolish to me though. Of course that's just my point of view. Perhaps it's totally wrong. :P

mkprr said...

Matthew,
I believe there is a right way and a wrong way to read the Book of Mormon. To read it wondering if Joseph Smith is the author turns it into nothing more than an oddly worded fictional tragedy of the rise and fall of a few nations with a Christian theme. Still interesting, and thought provoking but not much more meaningful than the Chronicles of Narnia (which by the way are awesome books, I am reading them with my daughter right now and I keep her up way later than I should because it’s hard to stop)
In contrast If you understand that you are reading a book written by real men who had real experiences with God, fought for their families, struggled to survive, and testified of the same God the prophets were testifying of in the Old world the Book of Mormon becomes an anchor. The doctrine of Christ becomes rock solid and all doubt in Him, of His teachings, or His atoning sacrifice and resurrection melt away. It teaches true doctrine and gives case studies with real life in the trenches examples. We are no longer comparing the BOM to Shake Spear, it contains the life stories and testimonies of living breathing men who labored, fought, bled and died for Christ even though they were separated from him during his mortal ministry by thousands of miles of ocean.
Now is there enough intellectual evidence to prove beyond all shadow of a doubt that Joseph and his friends didn’t write it themselves in the 1800’s? Maybe not, but there is plenty of evidence to prove its plausibility. Taking the Book of Mormon at face value may at some point take a leap of faith, but if you can see it for what it claims to be then it will change you. If you can’t it won’t.
As far as knowing and believing are concerned. Lehi definitely knew when he made the decision to drag his family into the wilderness and leave his comfortable life behind. Isaiah most definitely knew when he stripped off his clothes and shouted repentance naked for three years in an attempt to get people’s attention accurately warning that they would be stripped of all they had and taken captive. The three witnesses definitely knew when they became frustrated with Joseph Smith and left the church full of hate but continued to testify to what they had experienced until the day they died.
Perhaps it would be more appropriate for me not to say that I know the Book of Mormon is true, but to instead say that I know the fruit of the Book of Mormon, and it is indeed “most sweet, above what I ever before tasted”. I am absolutely convinced it is truly what it claims to be. Sorry for the long post btw.

mkprr said...

One more thing. I've read it both ways. It is really boring to read the wrong way.

Anonymous said...

I've only read it one way. And it was boring. I was always afraid all my investigators would fall over dead from boredom if they read too much of it.
I like what mkprr had to say though. You should read it with the belief that it is true and everything in it really happened, that way it is not so boring. I find that is true with the LOTR as well, it makes it more exciting.

mkprr said...

ouch, I bet that was a long 2 years!

Matthew said...

Mike :),
Yeah, I would agree that if one believes the book of mormon to be the word of god then the text has lots of meaning and they'll keep finding new ways to look at it.

I am skeptical that this is a sign that the book is really that deep or whether one is painting their own experience onto the books words. I don't doubt in the slightest that the book really is as important to people as they state it is. I'm just pointing out that the same can be said about any other book of similar type where the reader believes that it is the word of god or is handed down for their enlightenment. There are books which I have found to be profound and wonderful and others would see as dull and lifeless. Is one of us wrong? Probably not. We most likely just have way different interpretations of life.

I guess if there was anything I was reacting to in the OP (and perhaps I was just misreading things) it was the (false) concept that there is an obvious and objective way to see that the LDS church has much more to offer then even the greatest Christian thinkers elsewhere. Perhaps I was incorrect in this.

mkprr said...

Hey Matt, I didn't realize my name would show up as mkprr. yeah I see your point. I know many Christians outside the Church that seem to have incredible faith in Christ and also have either rejected or not given the BOM a chance.

However if you are looking for objective truth either the BOM was made up by Joseph and friends, or it was written by ancient Christians. There is a right or wrong answer. It has little to do with literary preferences. Many have struggled to ascertain what the objective truth about the book is, but either way there is an answer to the problem.

For a great case study on how to critically look at spiritual questions and receive real answers from God check out 1st Nephi 10:17-21 and then 1st Nephi chapter 15. Nephi, Laman and Lemuel all seem to have trouble simply believing and want more. Nephi succeeds in getting more.

Anonymous said...

Matt, if someone came to you today and told you an angel came to them and showed them where a hidden room was that was full of gold plates, and that they had translated those gold plates with a seer stone they had been using to find buried treasure, would you believe them?
No matter how inspiring the book is to many, since it came to light by such magical methods as magic rocks and angels, It is too fantastical a story to take seriously.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 9:27pm April 15: That 'extraordinary evidence' is precisely found in the Book of Mormon.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:39 PM, April 15, 2010
That is like saying, There is a God because there is air for us to breathe and water to drink and elements to sustain us. Of course that ignores the fact that we evolved within the environment. So, of course the environment has every thing we need to live.
Had we evolved in an environment of Co2 we would be breathing Co2.
I listened to some conference talks this past week. Truly inspiring. But...that does not mean JS was a true Prophet. I don't think the, Look at how good our Church is and all the good it does means the Church is The One True Church. LDS history is not so pretty and there are some troubling things about the LDS Church that are too hard to ignore.
Anyway, God bless the Mormons. They are good neighbors and for the most part good people.

Bookslinger said...

Anon, a story of an angel, a gold book, and a seer stone is no more fantastical than the story of Moses parting the Red Sea, and using his staff to strike a rock and bring forth water.

Or of looking at a brass snake to be healed of a venomous bite.

Or of blowing trumpets and causing the walls of a city to fall down.

Or carrying the Ark of the Covenant to into the Jordan river to cause it to stop flowing.

Or of fiery chariots coming down from heaven and carrying people away.

Or of a prisoner of the Romans to be tortured to death, and then come back to life a couple days later.

Yeah, it's all too fantastical.

By the way, do you throw your "too fantastical" line in the face of Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists?

I didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

I can see booksling does not know anything about American folklore and magic. Which is not at all like the miracles of the Bible. If Sling had bothered to read from the FAIR website he would see that was JS practiced was Magic and it was an adopted magic that was also practiced in England. The whole idea of the white salamander letter was plausible ( and accepted by the Church at the time it was thought to be authentic) as it was widely known that JS believed in and practiced this sort of Magic.
You want to compare diving rods and seer stones that are used to find buried treasure to the Miracles of the Bible? You want to compare JS hiring himself out to people to look for buried Spanish gold to the miracles of Moses?? Oh man, I guess that is how you justify the magic that was used to start the early church.
If that is what it takes for you to juggle all that in your head, enjoy and make sure you don't drop any of all them balls.

Matthew said...

Anon,
While I certainly don't believe the stories of Joseph Smith to be authentic, it's pretty hypocritical to look at them and say that they are obviously false ye the supposed miracles of the Bible are true.

It's all really hard stuff to swallow. I see just as many issues with the concept that a man could live for several days in the belly of a fish (even if it is a whale, their bellies aren't very oxygen filled.) Seas being parted, or frogs raining down and angels killing the first born of every egyptian child.

In all honesty, the LDS church seems (if nothing else) to at least be consistent in their belief that God continues to work miracles.

There's this weird cognitive dissonance when it comes to a religious mindset and miracles. If it happened in the past that angels appeared, or other craziness occurred, nobody seems to bat an eyelash. Yet if I tell you it happened to me yesterday then you'd call me a loon. Why is this? Both claims are equally far fetched.

It seems to me that people have a much easier time swallowing some stories if the "a long time ago in a far away land" part is added on to the tale. Suspension of disbelief I believe because for nearly all of us we haven't every seen anything supernatural, or anything that would support the supernatural.

While one can point to attributes of Joseph Smith and say they expose him as an obvious fraud (which perhaps they do, I don't know much about all the claims or how truthful they are) it must be noted that the prophets of the old testament (according to the biblical records) were likewise cast asside by the people of their time. Noah's family is the only one that heeded his admonitions to the people. I'd imagine that many in the crowd would have been hurling the exact same accusations that you just did.

To me all these claims seem too fantastical and unwarranted in their claims to be believed. Perhaps they are true though and I'm just one of those people that is blinded by their pride. Time will tell I suppose. :)

Anonymous said...

matthew, I said quite clearly, that the miracles of Prophets like Moses are not comparable to JS finding a rock and putting it in a hat and telling people he could find buried Spanish gold. I compared the kind of miracles that happened in the Bible, to What JS did. I did not compare when they happened. Those instances of Miracles in the Bible are widely regarded as miracles by Christians, contrast that to American folk lore and the magic JS practiced.

BTW, what JS practiced was American magic. It had nothing to do with God or miracles. He was tried in a court of law for it and found guilty. And, if you don't mind. I did not hurl any accusations at any one. Mind telling me why you accuse me of that?

Matthew said...

@ anon,
A'ight man. I'm just saying that people that live in glass houses probably shouldn't go throwing rocks around so much.

The funny thing is that your stance (that the things you've built up as 'true' even though you have no direct experience with them and they defy all your conventional logic) about the bible is the same stance that most LDS people have towards the book of mormon and the bible.

If you insist on referring to Smith with such castaway diatribes then just realize that those same techniques can be used to belittle your own beliefs.

Was Joseph Smith a prophet of god? It's highly doubtful to me but not any more doubtful then most of the claims made by the bible. If god really is a god of miracles and prophets then it seems sensible that he would be consistent.

These types of arguments are one of many reasons I think religion is rather silly. It's rather obvious that if there is a god nobody seems to be able to agree about any of his traits and aspects. A lot of people are more concerned with belittling the beliefs of others and ignoring the huge logical issues that their own mythologies have.

Anonymous said...

Matthew. So, in short. You do not know the history of JS and his use of Magic. You do not know the events surrounding the use of magic in the early LDS Church. That is obvious. Yet you chose to comment on what you have no knowledge of. Telling.
"The funny thing is that your stance (that the things you've built up as 'true' even though you have no direct experience with them and they defy all your conventional logic) "
My stance? I said Christians believe the Bible's miracles to be true. I did not say I did. Which makes me wonder why you are talking about my beliefs as I stated none. I presented facts that surrounded JS and the early Church.
You either do not read what people write or you just throw out untested assumptions as facts and build a case around them.
So, which glass house would I be living in? Me thinks you should not only go and get some knowledge of what you chose to comment on but also learn to NOT read into what people write. Which you clearly have done time and time again in our short discussion.
Sorry, I missed the part where you showed how I was hurling accusations at Booksling.

Matthew said...

Anon,
"I can see booksling does not know anything about American folklore and magic. Which is not at all like the miracles of the Bible. If Sling had bothered to read from the FAIR website he would see that was JS practiced was Magic and it was an adopted magic that was also practiced in England. " This seems like an accusation to me. You go on after that. I'm not sure what you're so upset about but you seem to have worked yourself up into quite a tizzy.

So you are not a believer in miracles or you are? You seem to be staying vague about what your own beliefs are and just attacking those of others. Awesome.

All, I'm saying is that as far as religious claims, the claims of the LDS church aren't all that different then the claims of any other religion. If you aren't a christian then that's fine. I really don't care. You seem to be rather driven to show that JS isn't comparable to the prophets of the bible for someone that has no religious opinion though.

Anonymous said...

"All, I'm saying is that as far as religious claims, the claims of the LDS church aren't all that different then the claims of any other religion. "
Really? Do other religions have founders who translate gold books with rocks? Marry other men's wives? Name one. If you think Magic is comparable to Miracles of the Bible, That is fine. I can't help you. But, don't try to change my argument saying it is a time issue, and that it is harder to believe in JS because it was more recent. The thrust of my argument was that JS practiced Magic. Magic is not done in God's name. Do you not see the difference?
"You seem to be rather driven to show that JS isn't comparable to the prophets of the bible..." No I'm Not. I said his magic was based on American folklore. And that is different than Miracles of the Bible that were done in God's name. I have said this several times now, not sure what part of that you are not understanding.
"... for someone that has no religious opinion though."
Who said I don't have a religious opinion? You? You seem to do that a lot, Assume something to be true, then act as if it were. Awesome!

Anonymous said...

matthew.
You said: "Noah's family is the only one that heeded his admonitions to the people. I'd imagine that many in the crowd would have been hurling the exact same accusations that you just did."

"I can see booksling does not know anything about American folklore and magic. Which is not at all like the miracles of the Bible. If Sling had bothered to read from the FAIR website he would see that was JS practiced was Magic and it was an adopted magic that was also practiced in England. " This seems like an accusation to me.

You said I was hurling the "exact same accusations" that people hurled at Noah. You then said my accusation was when I said BookSlinger did not know about American Folklore and magic. How is that the exact same accusation they hurled at Noah?? Are you suggesting the people were accusing Noah of not knowing anything about American folklore and magic? If so, I stand corrected as that was what I told BookSlinger.
I think you might want to rethink that though. You don't seem to be making much sense.

Matthew said...

Anon,
do you believe the bible to be authentic or not? If you do believe it is true then you're in the same position as any LDS member is as far as reconciling your beliefs with your day to day experience.

What I read in the bible sounds every bit as 'magical' as anything that is in the BoM or relating to Joseph's proposed translation of it.

I don't know if your confused or what the deal is but the accusation comment was in regards to the accusation that you are making (repeatedly) that JS was a charlatan and a fake. What I'm saying is that according to the bible, the people of Noah's time thought the same about him. If prophets do really exist and do really talk to god then it would seem that few people of their times actually believe them to be what they are. If a person were to believe (and I'm not saying you do, just throwing at a hypothetical here) in the prophets of the old testament, in the writings of the new testament and see them as plausible and then say that JS was obviously a fake and that prophets don't exist anymore, I'm just saying that I think their logic is extremely blind.

To me this is like someone someone that stalwartly believes in Leprachauns saying that someone else is an idiot because they believe in Unicorns.

Again, I'm not arguing that I know JS to have been a prophet I'm just saying that his story isn't any less plausible then the stories of the men in the old and new testament.

Matthew said...

D'oh, forgot to push send on my last post.

Regarding the accusation thing. I think you're confusing what I said (maybe I didn't make it all that clear.) I was referring to your accusations that Smith is not a prophet, not any accusations about bookslinger. The thing about Noah is just pointing out that people of Noah's time probably had the exact same arguments about his claims as you have about Smith's claims. I.e. he's a fraud, he's making it up, god doesn't talk to people the way you say he does, etc.

If, as a hypothetical, Smith was a prophet and really did translate the BoM the accusations that he was a liar would still exist. You can't say that because people accused him of lying that he wasn't a prophet. Also saying that because he was found guilty in a court of law proves his guilt is silly. I recall a certain important religious figure that was crucified for fraudulant claims. By your logic he also would have been a false prophet.

While I don't personally find reason to believe that god exists I have no evidence to prove that he doesn't nor do I have evidence to say that any of the proposed prophets of the bible, bom or JS himself are frauds. I don't believe they are what they claimed to be, but that's a lack of confirming evidence for me, not because there is any evidence that can disprove the claims.

Hopefully that is making sense written out as much as it does in my head.