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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Marvin Perkins on Race and the Book of Mormon: Significant Insights Triggered by New Footnotes in the Book of Mormon

For anyone interested in the issue of race and the Book of Mormon, you need to consider what Marvin Perkins wrote on Feb. 7 about the new changes in the LDS footnotes to the Book of Mormon on race-related issues. You can read his message to friends at BlackLDS.org, "Changes To LDS Scripture Headings & Footnotes." It's also available at Times and Seasons: "Notable Race-Related Changes to Footnotes and Chapter Headings in the Standard Works" in a post by Marc Bohn.

Who's Marvin Perkins? You can see him in a short CNN video of an interview. He's a faithful black Mormon who helped found the Genesis Group and is part of the BlackLDS.org team, both LDS-related efforts to help African-American Latter-day Saints (and the rest of us). He's also a music producer and DVD producer. He's studied issues related to race and Mormonism in great depth and his insights are ones I think we should seriuosly consider.

Brother Perkins challenges some of the common assumptions we have made for years about some matters. I need to check out the work that is behind his conclusions regarding the more figurative nature of Book of Mormon language apparently dealing with racial distinctions between the Lamanites and Nephites. One subtlety he mentions, for example, is in Alma 55:1-15, where a group of Nephite soldiers, led by a Lamanite, Laman, are able to pass themselves off as Lamanites. Maybe there was an accent that required a real Lamanite spokeman, but the other men from the Nephites who go with Laman are not recognized as enemies by the Lamanites they are tricking. This is consistent with Brother Perkins' arguments. I missed that in previous readings. Interesting.

There are some good perspectives in the debate over at the Times and Seasons post.

71 comments:

Anonymous said...

*****
One subtlety he mentions, for example, is in Alma 55:1-15, where a group of Nephite soldiers, led by a Lamanite, Laman, are able to pass themselves off as Lamanites
******

Jeff, I'd like to think there were no physical distinctions as much as anyone, so I just reread Alma 55:1-15 with great hope. However, I didn't see the clear evidence you assert. Rather, in Alma 55:8 we learn that this subterfuge was attempted "when it was evening". It seems reasonable to infer that the darkness aided in the concealment. Again, there may be other reasons for using cover of darkness rather than just to conceal different skin tone (differences in clothing, equipment, body art / piercings / tattoos, etc), but I think this passage provides limited support at best for the claimed hypothesis. Unfortunately.

Kristelle said...

I didn't get the point either, it was written that Laman went to talk to the Lamanites in the evening, and they received him, not the whole group. And he gave them wine, and they were all drunk...

Openminded said...

This is...impressive, in a sense.

From the BlackLDS.org article: "We also understand that the skin being spoken of in reference to “black” or “white” is referring to the state of the spirit and not a literal or physical skin color change."

You can change the headings all you want to reflect your own interpretation, but there are some grand leaps of faith to not take verses such as these to mean something metaphorical:
"wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them."

"And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites"

and "I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God" (2 Nephi 5:21, 3 Nephi 2:14-15, and Jacob 3:8 respectively).

Also, the article throws this into the mix: "by the time we get to 2 Nephi 26:33, we understand that Joseph Smith could have easily translated the word “black” as “wicked” meaning the spiritually dark, as well as the word “white” as “righteous”, referring to the state of the spiritually pure and clean. Well I say he could have easily translated it as such and he actually did. See Alma 11:44. You’d think you’re reading the exact same passage, but this time you see the wicked and the righteous, in place of black and white."

Notice the confirmation bias? Check out the two verses. It's obvious that 1) whoever wrote Alma 11:44 and 2 Nephi 26:33 weren't trying to say the exact same thing as the other--they were both going along the dichotomy of one thing and its opposite. 2) why does wicked and righteous (from Alma) pertain to black and white (respectively, and from Nephi)? For one, it's obvious the two verses aren't meant to interpret each other. But even if that's not obvious to you, then why can't wicked and righteous pertain to Jew and Gentile instead of black and white?

This is the shoddiest eisegesis I've seen since I was an evvie. There is nothing in that article that supports what they're trying to say, and there's nothing in the book of mormon that suggests the word "skin" is metaphorical. I've seen some approaches that try to wrap their heads around the blatant racism of these passages, but that article was by far the worst attempt at doing so.

Openminded said...

"but there are some grand leaps of faith to not take verses such as these to mean something metaphorical: "

meant to leave out the "not" in this phrase.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Perkins is just offering the conclusions from his interpretative work--not the full reasoning--so it's premature to judge it as the shoddiest you've ever seen. Let's wait until we better understand where he is coming from.

Any interpretative work will be subject to gaps and other views - that's the nature of dealing with a text. Let's see where the meat is behind his approach.

It would be nice if the skin-related content was all figurative, but we must not be shocked if Nephites also struggled with the same racial and cultural biases. In fact, we know they did, as Zeniff and others show us.

Papa D said...

I have no problem believing the Nephites used racial terms to disdain those who opposed them, especially if they intermingled with an indigenous group as the population figures in the Book of Mormon almost insist they must have. Makes sense that they were racist, just as almost all people were back then and many people still are.

However, I also have studied the usage of color in reference to people in ancient times, and it is not a stretch at all to believe that references to countenances, skin and images using color were figurative and not literal.

Either explanation works for me - especially since I do NOT believe the Lamanites suddenly turned significantly darker because of unrighteousness. I think the descriptions show the natural biases of the authors and the people of that time - and, again, the probable mixing of the Lamanites with another group of people.

Jared said...

I think you (Jeff) hit the nail on the head with your comment. We assume that because we live in a relatively non-racist society (there are still a lot of problems but we've come a long way) that other people from different times must think like we do about race. Many of us think that people who hold different views about race are automatically racist and if people are racist, they are either ignorant or just bad people.

In our culture today we make the assumption that racism is bad. Is it? What does it mean to be racist? Are there some forms of racism that are not bad? Are there times when it is good to be racist? These are not meant to be snarky questions. I'm also not arguing for racism, I'm simply pointing out that our biases and assumptions should be recognized and open to critique. Our biases make us view the world through a particular lens. We interpret the past through the present. Sometimes that's good but sometimes it is not. Our culture values egalitarianism almost to a fault. This can make it difficult to understand such key doctrines as what it means to be part of the house of Israel and thus "chosen." Chosen-ness in the gospel is not a pandering to racial vanities (I'm paraphrasing what I've read before), it is a call to service. It is the difference between being part of a covenant people and not being part of a covenant. Race matters in the Book of Mormon only as far as covenants matter (and thus righteousness).

Or, maybe race really wasn't even an issue in the Book of Mormon times (or in part of them, the Book of Mormon covers a lot of time - 1,000 years if we exclude the Jaredites). There wasn't a lot of space on the gold plates and it took a lot of effort to write on them. There wasn't space for in-depth expositions on matters of race so the labeling of white = good and black (dark) = bad that occurs sometimes in the Book of Mormon (although there are plenty of times when the roles are reversed) might just be that - labeling in order to get the point across quickly. It could be viewed as a stereotype. So, is it bad to stereotype? It depends. Stereotyping is a way to lump information together for quick processing. Sometimes it is bad but other times it is good or at least neutral. {continued in the next comment}.

Jared said...

{continued from other comment}. While I believe the black/white distinction is partially metaphorical, it is not completely. There is no clear evidence to say definitively either way. Not everything that looks like racism actually is racism. Biases are just as much in the eye of the beholder as they are in the beholded. We can't just look at something that people said or wrote and say, "That person was/is racist." Now, if a person repeatedly said or wrote or did things that were racist, then we'd have good evidence but a few lines from the Book of Mormon or writings or talks of church leaders can be considered only spotty evidence at best. Again, we also interpret through our own world-view, which might just not be the best or only valid way of thinking about the world.

God loves all of us; He is no respecter of persons. Those are things we read in the scriptures. We also read though, that He favors the righteous and loves those who honor and serve Him.

Was skin color an important distinction between the wicked and the righteous in the past? Yes, it certainly seems that way. Should it have been an issue? Maybe, maybe not. We don't know very much about the past, at least relative to all that has happened. What was written down and preserved is quite small compared to what wasn't written down, even about important events or people in history. That's one reason I'm really hesitant to look at church policies or scriptural passages and say, "Now, that's racist!" Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. Even assuming a lot of this stuff was/is racist doesn't mean it was intentional (then again, some of it could be intentional). Is race important now? No, at least not as far as blessings of the gospel are concerned. That's all we really know now so that's what we have to work with and live with.

Anonymous said...

There's a problem with the argument that the BOM's "racial" references should be understood as metaphorical, namely, that their metaphorical status does not erase their racism. The basic value structure carries over from the literal to the metaphorical. (Were this not so, the metaphors would not even make sense.)

When I say, "My love is a rose," I use "a rose" as a metaphor for "my love." I use that word ("rose") rather than some other because I and my culture believe it has the positive connotations I want to associate with my love.

In the BOM, we can think of "white" as a metaphor for "pure," and "black" as a metaphor or "wicked," and thereby get around the idea that the Lamanites were literally a dark-skinned race, but we're still left with the fact that even the metaphorical association of black skin with wickedness is racist.

Far better, it seems to me, to simply admit that these ancient writers were racist. What's wrong with that? I would presume that lots of the ancient writers of the Bible were also racist (they were certainly, many of them, xenophobic!). It just came with the territory back then.

Openminded said...

Jared....never mind.

So what's the position here? That the Nephites just wrote that down to reflect their racist views?

God didn't curse the Lamanites with black skin, the Nephites just said He did?

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Regarding the Laman story in Alma 55: In an army of a few thousand men, if they were all white with a lone dark Lamanite in a battle against dark Lamanites, it seems like everyone would have known about it. Instead, ALma 55:4 tells us that Moroni "caused that a search should be made among his men, that perhaps he might find a man who was a descendant of Laman among them." What, they didn't all know this from 100 yards away in all their daylight activities?

Jeff Lindsay: said...

If racial differences are referred to in the Book of Mormon, I don't have any trouble with them being due to Laman's group mingling more directly with local inhabitants or forming alliances with them more readily--that would also help explain the rapid population increase in Lamanite forces (while it's probably also necessary for Nephite population growth as well). Evidence from ancient figurines tells us there was a lot of variety in racial types in the ancient Americas, and that could have led to difference in the groups called "Nephites" and "Lamanites" without any divine tinkering of DNA being required.

I obviously don't know the answer. How much is figurative language, how much is a verbal expression of bias, and how much describes genuine racial differences? Prejudice even among writers of scripture is not beyond the pale.

Openminded said...

"without any divine tinkering of DNA being required."

Are you saying the black skin may have come about through a natural process? Or that this may have been how the racial tensions were developed?

I'm going to go with that first one and point out: how many natural processes did they attribute to God in this book?

Papa D said...

Openminded, the word "black" appears in the Book of Mormon exactly TWICE: 1) in reference to hair color; 2) in reference to God's grace extending to all ("black and white"). It is NEVER used in the Book of Mormon to denote skin color.

That's important, because it gets mis-stated all the time. The Book of Mormon uses the word "dark" 16 times - and ONLY three of them refer to skin tone. "Darkness" is used 80 times, and only ONE of them refers to skin tone.

Now look at three specific examples of how "darkness" is used in relation to the Lamanites (emphasis mine):

2 Nephi 30:6 - "And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their **scales of darkness** shall begin to fall from their EYES; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people."

fascinating wording

Alma 26:3 - "for our brethren, the Lamanites, were **IN darkness,** yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God!"

Alma 26:15 - "Yea, they were **encircled about with everlasting darkness** and destruction; but behold, he has brought them into his everlasting light,"

Without exception, "dark" and "darkness" refer to a condition, not evidence of a fundamental pigment alteration. In actual context, "dark" seems to mean perhaps nothing more than "more tan" - although it might be an actual change wrought by inter-marriage with a darker skinned people.

Papa D said...

Mostly, however, "dark" and "darkness" appear to refer to the **perceived** condition of their souls.

Open said...

The word dark is fairly irrelevant, consider how God is attributed to putting a "skin of blackness" on the Lamanites, in which a form of the word "black" is use to denote skin color (unless I'm mistaken and blackness is just reference to tanner skin). Either way, if the statement is taken literally, it's a racist remark.

If God didn't actually do this, then we have an instance of the author attributing something to God that didn't happen.

And so, claims made by this author that God did something are unreliable (if not consciously deceitful).

Openminded said...

Pressed enter too early.

I'm sure you knew that last comment was me though.

Anonymous said...

Papa D (and everyone) -- any discussion of the racial ideology of the LDS scriptures has to include not just the Book of Mormon but the other scriptures as well. On my reading, the "Egyptus" passages in the Pearl of Great Price seem exactly like Joseph Smith trying to give a scriptural foundation to the racist myth of Africans as bearing the "mark of Cain" preserved through the "curse of Ham." Not ancient stuff, but classic early 19th-century stuff. It doesn't come from God, it comes from Joseph. (Which is not criticize him overly, as he was like everyone else a man of his time.)

Papa D said...

Openminded, again, God is NOT attributed to have put a "skin of blackness" on the Lamanites. That simply isn't in the Book of Mormon. That's a PofGP phrase, and it has nothing to do with the Lamanites.

Anonymous, I understand that a full discussion has to include the PofGP. It's important, however, not to cloud the issue with incorrect accusations about the Book of Mormon. That happens all the time, and it simply has to be addressed - so that the discussion can be accurate.

Fwiw, pretty much ALL ancient records include racist statements by our modern standards. I'm a history teacher by inclination, formal training and initial profession. I'm not aware of any ancient record that deals in some way directly with issues of differing races that is not racist to some degree.

That also is important to recognize and admit, since the existence of racist statements is used by many as "proof" that the PofGP is a modern writing - just as you did. I'm not about to claim it's irrelevant, since it's not, but that is a stretch that no serious historian of ancient records would make. If the PofGP DIDN'T have racist statements, THAT would be a red flag - seriously. I would expect it to have racist statements, given what it was claimed to be.

Again, that's not "proof" that it is, in fact, an ancient record (or an accurately transmitted account, whichever someone prefers). It's just not "proof" that it isn't - not even close.

More to the point of this post, Brother Perkins is 100% correct that "black" and "dark" are used in MANY ancient records, even when tied to skin, to mean something other than literal skin color - just as "hard" and "soft" (or "stiff-necked", for example)don't refer always to literal skin or heart consistency.

Openminded said...

Papa D,
are you joking?

"And [the Lord] had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. — 2 Nephi 5:21"

Or are you wanting to make a point out of the difference between "cause" and "put"?

There's not much of a point to be made there; God is attributed for causing a "skin of blackness" to some upon the Lamanites. God made it happen. Are you saying He didn't, meaning you're saying the author erroneously attributed this happening to God?

Anonymous said...

I don't think Papa D is joking. He's merely arguing from an LDS-faith-based perspective. If one doesn't share that perspective, then there's precious little evidence that the Mormon scriptures are ancient and tons of evidence that they're not. But if you're faithful LDS, the ancientness of that scripture is a starting point, and all the evidence is interpreted accordingly.

I'm not a historian, just an English teacher, but personally (as I noted above), I think parts of the Pearl of Great Price are obviously restatements of the Hamite myth. The Book of Mormon seems just as obviously to be a part of a larger, early 19th century American discourse about Native American origins. It seems at that time everyone and their uncle were concocting fantasies about Native Americans rather like those of Joseph Smith. And not just Ethan Smith, either--read William Cullen Bryant's poem, "The Prairies," in which Bryant imagines a "good" ancient Indian civilization wiped out by a "bad," uncivilized group. This stuff was everywhere back then.

Openminded said...

I understand the faith-based perspective, but Papa D tends to be one of the more reason-oriented posters.

And dear lord, Alma shouts 19th-century farm boy mediocracy to me, as do most of the Mormon scriptures.

But that's more of my own opinion. What's stated in the BoM itself is a lot less subjective when taken at face value.

Papa D said...

Openminded, I just re-read my comment, and I mis-typed egregiously. I usually proofread and edit carefully before submitting my comments, but I didn't do that with the one in question. Every time I make that mistake, it bites me in the backside.

Seriously, my bad - I say as I smack myself in the forhead and shake my head in consternation.

What I meant to type is that there is nothing in the record that makes the "skin of blackness" reference mean it has to be literally a "black skin" - as opposed to a "darker skin" (skin of "blackness"), given the way "blackness" and "darkness" are used interchangably in ancient records.

I typed "skin of blackness" when I meant to type "black skin" - to draw a distinction between those two phrases. So, it shuld have read:

"God is NOT attributed to have put a 'black skin' on the Lamanites."

Seriously messed up there, and I sincerely do apologize. Thanks for pointing that out.

That really is my main point - that "blackness" and "black" can and do mean radically differently things in many ancient records. My secondary point is that I have no "problem" with ancient people being racist - even those accepted as prophets. Again, I said that I don't see it as "proof" of either conclusion - that it makes sense BOTH as an ancient reference for those who want to take it that way AND as a modern reference from Joseph's time - or even for a combination of both of those times, as I've heard some people argue.

What I was trying to say is that I think this is a case where people see what they believe, rather than believing what they see. I think decent "proof" of that is that I get attacked by BOTH sides for saying I don't accept that argument as proof of either side. It just fits BOTH arguments too well, imo, to be clear "proof" of either.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

If "skin of blackness" is a only a figurative reference to spiritual darkness, then one might wonder why it would say that God caused that to come upon them. But we also read in the Bible about God hardening Pharaoh's heart, etc. Still uncertain. Perhaps it refers to a Nephite perception influenced by culture and lifestyle of the Lamanites rather than a genetic alteration, or to visible changes brought about by lifestyle, dress, cosmetics, etc. This was the purpose, it seems: to make the Nephites less interested in joining with the apostates. Not sure, really. Can we be?

I've ordered the DVDs Brother Perkins refers to at Blacksinthescriptures.com. Interested to learn more about his perspectives.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should use Occam's Razor here and go with the possibility that these passages mean exactly what it looks like they mean, even if that doesn't comport all that well with current notions of political correctness.

It seems to me that what too often happens is that, when confronted with a bit of troubling scripture, instead of explaining it we try to explain it away so that it no longer conflicts with our cultural prejudices.

The best reading of the Book of Mormon remains the one that held sway from the Church's beginnings right on up to the widespread acceptance of new racial sensitivities in the 60s: today's Native Americans are the descendants of an apostate race of exiled Israelites, and, yes, their dark skin was put on them by God as a curse for their apostasy.

Obviously, if read as a literal history of ancient America, the BOM's racism makes a lot of people uncomfortable. But that racism *is* right there in the book. It is what it is. The Church needs to own up to that fact. It needs to find the courage either to accept the implications of reading the BOM as a history, or start thinking seriously about reading the book as an inspired effort by Joseph Smith to mythically Christianize America by inscribing it into the sacred story of Christendom.

Maybe this takes more courage than the leadership is able to muster right now. Or maybe it's just not a pressing issue for them. I can't speak for others, but I do know that it was a pressing issue for me (it caused me to reject the Church) and I don't think I'm alone.

Attempts to split the difference aren't going to work, because they will always be less compelling than the plain language of the text. They will remain in the same category of the gay activists' attempt to explain away Leviticus.

Papa D said...

Anonymous,

The defintion of Occam's Razor doesn't say in this case what you are saying it does. Let me explain.

The defintion from dictionary.com is (my emphasis added):

"A rule in science and philosophy stating that entities should not be multiplied **needlessly**."

"Needlessly" is the operative word, and that gets butchered by many people who cite Occam's Razor. It is an absolutely critical component of the definition, but it is left out in most cases I hear when Occam's Razor is cited.

Occam's Razor gets mis-applied all the time by people who think it means that whatever seems like the obvious answer to them probably is the right answer. That's not a useful definition at all, since it would mean that the best answer depends totally on the understanding of the individual - that someone who is totally ignorant of something can apply Occam's Razor to reinforce their ignorant assumptions. ("That seems like the simplest answer to me; therefore, it must be correct.") This makes the opinion of soemone who has never studied a topic every bit as valid and "probable" as the opinion of the world's most knowledgable person about that topic.

Occam's Razor cuts best when it's applied in the context of the time and discipline being addressed.

For example, if someone sees the BofM as a product of Joseph's time, they might view all other possible explanations as "needless" - and they would assume Occam's Razor says there is no difference between "skin of blackness" and "black skin". I get that. However, if someone sees the Book of Mormon as an ancient record, Occam's Razor actually says there absolutely IS a difference between "skin of blackness" and "black skin" - since "blackness" doesn't mean "black" in MANY ancient records. That absolutely ISN'T a "needless complication" - since it actually is core knowledge for those who have studied ancient records extensively. It's just assumed as a given, meaning Occam's Razor grants it as a given and doesn't discount it when used to analyze the most likely explanation.

Finally, I am a parser by nature, and I try hard to judge people based on what they actually say - as opposed to what I think their words mean. I fail at that sometimes, but I try really hard to do that - largely since I want my own words to be taken seriously and judged for what they actually say, not what someone else assumes they say. In that light, it really is important to me to analyze what actually is said in ancient or modern records - and the Book of Mormon doesn't say "black skin". Rather, it says, "skin of blackness".

There's a HUGE difference between those two phrases when parsed for how they are used in ancient records, so I try to grant that difference in how I interpret them - as a direct result of Occam's Razor, ironically.

Anonymous said...

I think that interpreting the BOM in the way Perkins is trying to do DOES require him to multiply "entities." But you're right to point out that the importance of figuring out what's "needless," which in turn depends on questions of faith.

If the question is basically that of the historicity of the BOM, which question obviously needs to be settled before we get much farther in our interpretive efforts, then the "needless" entity that needs to be created in order to follow along with Perkins et al is basically the Holy Spirit (needless to me, but not to the more orthodox believer).

If one person's explanation of the BOM is that it's a book like any other book, and another person's explanation concludes that the BOM is a holy scripture, which one needs to invoke the Holy Spirit?

Papa D said...

Occam's Razor is a scientific and philosophical construct. I have no problem applying it to aspects of religious claims that fall squarely within those arenas (evolution vs. a young earth theory, for example, or an overall textual analysis), but, again, it needs to be used in light of ALL evidence available.

In the case of the Book of Mormon, for example, Occam's Razor can't be applied dispassionately to analyze the KJV language without also being applied to the chiasmus. It also can't be applied to claims made by adherents OR critics that actually aren't supported by the text itself, like the hemispheric postulation of BofM geography, which just isn't in the text - outside, perhaps, of the Book of Ether. (and, frankly, I include Joseph Smith, himself, in that category, since I think he didn't understand the text all that well in many cases - since I don't think he cared about it as a "proof text" fundamentally)

Occam's Razor says, in this case, to examine the book itself in its entirety and then, based on the best scholarship available and excluding the subjective assumptions (which, generally, are the "needless" aspects), see what is the simplest explanation. The central rub isn't strictly the Holy Ghost / Spirit, imo - since Occam's Razor simply can't factor ANY aspect that would be considered "miraculous" - or angelic - or divine intervention - or "spiritual" (like the Holy Ghost) - or even nothing more than highly irregular and truly unique.

That's why Occam's Razor doesn't deal directly with making final claims of accuracy. It only addresses the METHOD of striving to reach those final claims. That's why my own last statement isn't totally accurate. Occam's Razor really doesn't posit that the simplest answer usually is the correct answer; in its truest meaning, Occam's Razor simply says that those trying to find an answer shouldn't make that attempt more difficult than it has to be - that they not include "neddless" steps in the evaluation process or introduce "needless" things to be evaluated.

Papa D said...

Finally, to that point, in most cases there is an absolute need for a justification for a change, alteration, refutation, etc. to be more complex than an accepted claim - since it must address the current claim and ALSO postulate a new one. It should be apparent, also, that most new claims are going to be seen as more complicated than the accepted claims - since the accepted claims often are the product of previous "comprehensive knowledge".

New research yields new understanding, which often makes it harder / more complex to explain. Occam's Razor doesn't refute the new discoveries because they are more complex in and of themselves; it actually validates them by allowing new research results and new knowledge to be considered as legitimate and NOT "needless".

Sorry for that lengthy "introduction" (*grin*), but, in the case of the way "blackness" and "black" and "darkness" and "skin" and other such words have been used in ancient records, I really do believe that the former interpretations accepted as "obvious" by Mormons and critics aren't obvious in light of new research and knowledge - and I have no problem whatsoever believing that former members (and even prophets and apostles) were blinded by their automatic assumptions and based their interpretations on incorrect and incomplete understandings and biasess.

I'm not saying Brother Perkins' conclusions are correct. I'm not saying Occam's Razor makes his view the most likely. I just am saying I think Occam's Razor actually opens up different possibilities than the previous assumptions, since "the prophets and apostles just had to have been right" is a "needless" entity - since I don't believe in infallible prophets.

I appreciate any scholarship that attempts to shed new light on a topic like this, and I think, based on what I've read, at the very least, Brother Perkins makes some very valid points about the previous general assumptions.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I've never understood why anyone finds BOM chiasmus to be evidence of ancient composition. Pretty much everyone who was literate in Smith's day was steeped in the language and rhythms of the KJV, and thus might naturally, even unconsciously, produce a chiasmus now and then. And anyway, I've found that to produce a chiasmus is just not that hard. It's so easy that a chiasmus can be produced on the fly, as I've just done.

I've
produce
chiasmus
not that hard
-----
easy
chiasmus
produced
I've

;)

Papa D said...

Anonymous, I thought about typing a lengthy response, but I realized it would be much easier to say something that I don't mean to be offensive or condescending at all - so please don't take it that way.

To be very direct, that is a horrible example of chiasmus (as I'm sure you know). It shows a very rudimentary understanding of the general format, but it would not be considered a real "literary" chiasmus by anyone who read it with a background in such linguistics. It's kind of like writing, "Roses are red. Violets are blue. See, I'm a poet just like you." - and then asking why anyone cares about analyzing poetry, since it's so easy to write poetry.

That is a discussion for a different post (and I know there is at least one here on Mormanity about chiasmus), but to dismiss all the examples of intricate, complex chiasmus in the Book of Mormon with an example like that simply reinforces my point about Occam's Razor needing to be employed carefully - since chiasmus absolutely isn't "needless" when discussing textual criticism of the Book of Mormon. If the chiasmus in that book were of the same quality as yours - or even in the same wide category as yours, your dismissal would be valid.

It's not, so it's not.

Openminded said...

Chiasmus...I forgot the Hebrews had a monopoly on that literary form ;)

So Papa D,
why do the ancient records of other, possibly nonrelated cultures mean we can apply their interpretation of "skin of blackness" to the passage in question?

You may ask why not in response, and so:
1) the context, including verses that mention the removal of the curse, mention skin (as in "their skin became white like the Nephites") as though blackness is really just some tone of dark skin

2) darkness and blackness can be synonymous, but whether they're symbolic or not should depend on the context of the passage, which is only what you say it is when taking into consideration passages from other ancient records that aren't dealing with the same subject (particularly, the same reason for being cursed; the same people being cursed; God's dealings with those particular people) the passage in question is dealing with.

3) and this is more a consequence than a reason, but even if the phrase was metaphorical and the author was just being racist, the act was still attributed to God by the author. Other unwanted characteristics were laid out further along in the passage (idleness, etc.), and so the question of if the metaphor was referring to unwanted personal characteristics is unwarranted

and 4) the preceding part of the passage in question (2 Nephi 5:21, where the curse was put upon the Lamanites) talks about white skin, and the term "white and delightsome" has already been altered to "fair and delightsome" in places where that was necessary to further clarify the meaning in the BoM, yet it hasn't been done so here. This gives the impression that this is the accurate definition: color. White is not symbolic for being favorable towards God, it is a literal skin color.

And to top it off, we know the author has used "white" to refer to skin color before.

So why is there a reason to accept your findings of ancient records containing symbolic meanings of skin when the current document not only contains literal interpretations of skin, but the context is a better fit for the definition? And what of other ancient documents that refer to skin in a literal sense (including the BoM and the PoGP?)


(and on the very side, I would like to point out how similar Alma 11:44 and 2 Nephi 26:33 are to Galatians 3:28. I don't want to interrupt the discussion about black skin, but I couldn't exactly make the point that this is the work of a 19th century farm boy effectively to a faithful crowd)

Openminded said...

In point #2, when I said "which is only what you say it is when..."

Put Papa D's take on the metaphorical-ness of "skin of blackness" in place of "what you say it is"

Papa D said...

Same answer, OM.

Whether or not God did it (which I personally don't accept and view as the justification of the author[s] - ancient or modern), there are multiple usages of those terms in the Book of Mormon AND the PofGP AND many ancient records - as well as many modern recrods. Skin darkening and becoming lighter is so common as to not be problematic, espeically when inter-marriage is involved and especially when the descriptions are claimed to have been written centuries after the fact.

Look, I'm not trying to claim Brother Perkins' work is Truth. I've tried to make that clear. I like the change in interpretation on a personal level without having come to a definitive conclusion myself - contrary to how my previous comments might be read. I was responding to the idea that the conclusions are incorrect on their face - that there is no merit to them at all and that the wording cannot reflect ancient usage and meaning.

I do that a lot - try to be very precise about things that are said and end up having people think I'm arguing a passionately held position of my own when, in reality, I'm just trying to address what I see to be incorrect applications or statements that others make. I'm sure it sounded like I was arguing for Brother Perkins' conclusions, even though I tried to say multiple times I don't think they "prove" anything yet.

I just know enough about ancient records (and 19th Century writings, as well, since my own college thesis dealt with the 19th Century writings on Manifest Destiny) and the way many terms and phrases were used in them that differ from how they are used now, that I understand how well Brother Perkins' assertions do fit into the context of BOTH those periods - generally speaking, from the relatively little I have read thus far.

I think if we had been able to remove the footnotes and chapter headings many years ago and had had the current ones in place from the beginning, the common assumptions would be very different - and, ironically, I might be arguing the other side of this discussion right now. *grin*

Openminded said...

Ha, reminds me of when jackg thought I was a Mormon for defending Bountiful as a decent BoM bullseye.

Alright, I see what you're saying. Not wanting to give Perkins a dispassionate review.

Honestly, I'm glad he came to the conclusion he did. I disagree with his way of doing it (and really, it just sounds like wishful thinking), but I wish this was the meaning that was promoted in Mormon history by the leaders of the church.

Cindy said...

No matter what you decide the BOM of Mormon says about skin, I look at the result in terms of the actions of the church to be a bigger issue. The inability of men of color to serve in the priesthood until the late 1970s would be a huge blot on any church, but certainly upon one that claims inclusivity.

We don't know the facts surrounding the BOM, but we do know that men of color were excluded from the priesthood during most of our lifetimes. This seems to me to be directly at odds with Christ's loving inclusion of all people.

Papa D said...

Cindy, I agree in theory, but Jesus himself was said to have said that his disciples should preach only to the Jews because the meat wasn't meant to be fed to the dogs.

Now, I personally want to read that figuratively, especially given the parable of the Good Samaritan, but he actually is credited as having used the word "dogs" in that passage - even if it is interpreted by many as "house dog" or "pet" and not "mangy cur".

To be clear, I think the Priesthood ban was not the will of God (as in, not what He wanted in His heart) but rather an inevitable development given the attitudes about race in that time (and the reasons for that belief are many and varied) - but it's really hard to claim it was unique to Mormonism and can't be justified in ANY way through the words of Jesus. His "loving inclusion of all people" really was ONLY most Jews during his mortal ministry - since even that excluded the scribes and Pharisees he is said to have called "vipers" and "whited sepulchers" and "hypocrites" and the moneychangers he drove from the temple and called "thieves".

Sometimes in our rush to differentiate between the wrathful God of the Old Testament and the loving, gracious God of the New Testament we tend to gloss over the actual examples from the ministry to Jesus that aren't the most loving and gracious.

Papa D said...

Not to mention the history of most of the rest of Christianity before and during the ban within Mormonism (think of the religious justifications for slavery as a prime example)- and the continued segregation in MANY congregations to this very day among most Protestant denominations. That's worth considering as a topic all on its own.

Mormonism is an easy target, but the rest of Christianity wasn't a model citizen in this regard - and it still isn't in many ways.

Openminded said...

Mormonism was supposed to be God's church though.

Instead, we see ways that it acted like all the others--according to the culture of their time. In regards to the more conservative religions, at least.

And sure, Jesus "said" to preach only to the Jews for a while (I'm sure you can guess my actual thoughts about the Gospels, but I'll go with it).

But a Gentile could become a Jew. Could a black person become white?

No. That's why the analogy to Jesus and the Jews doesn't entirely match up. And in some cases, didn't Jesus transcend this principle and preach to a non-Jew?

Not that I think anything about the Gospels match up or has any historical reality. Can't even get the genealogy of Christ straight.

Smith was very progressive about black people tho. But future prophets came in and screwed it all up. I know you don't hold the church to the same level of prophetic capability as most members do, Papa D, but the entire black history of the Mormon church is a bit of an embarrassment up until the ban was lifted (now the history is what's embarrassing)--good parts taken into account. I mean whatever cognitive dissonance that makes people wrap their minds around it (Perkins), it's still there.

Cindy said...

I agree that many churches demonstrated great prejudice and maybe some still do, but did Christ really demonstrate prejudice as well? Or is it possible that at times He expressed the thoughts of those around Him to demonstrate the contrast between His teachings and their thoughts? And didn't he offer His forgiveness to the woman He called a "dog"?

Either way, as Christians, we need to be open to the chastisement of God when we are at odds with His loving grace. So when churches (or people) do things that do not represent God's love for others, shouldn't we humbly admit our wrongs and turn to Christ for forgiveness rather than trying to justify our actions?

Papa D said...

"Mormonism was supposed to be God's church though."

Other Christian denominations weren't and aren't?

"the entire black history of the Mormon church is a bit of an embarrassment up until the ban was lifted"

That's not true of other Christian denominations? Frankly, to be brutally honest, I'd say it's STILL true of many Protestant denominations, since one of the most segregated areas left in America is MANY Protestant pews - and I saw that first-hand when we lived in the Deep South. It wasn't that, "Black people want to worship by themselves," but rather that, "White people have their churches, and black people have their churches, and what's wrong with that? Why should a white person have to worship with a black person?" (and many times it wasn't "black person" that was used in that sentence)

Mormons still have a long way to go to reach true equality in that regard, and some congregations still contain racists, but at least the structure is in place now for it to happen - and in many congregations in this country black and white members sit side-by-side in the pews and serve side-by-side in presidencies and other leadership positions. That just isn't the case in MANY Protestant denominations still.

I'm just saying that when all are held to the same standard, there's plenty of blame to go around - and I'm NOT trying to excuse or justify the LDS Church by saying that. I'm just saying castigating the LDS Church while not doing the same for the rest of Christianity is hypocritical - since those other Christian denominations were making the same claims about themselves as Mormons were making about themselves.

Cindy, I agree completely with that as the standard for all of us. Extremely well said.

Papa D said...

Btw, just to be clear, my example of living in the Deep South occurred in the early-mid 1990's.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Thanks, Papa D, for reminding us of what Occam's razor is really about. The simplest, most obvious explanation that someone postulates is often wrong in science. Details need to be confronted and accommodated and the ones that matter may take several iterations of understanding to sort through.

Openminded said...

"I'm just saying castigating the LDS Church while not doing the same for the rest of Christianity is hypocritical"

I could do this to any institution that follows authority and blindly (or not blindly) instigates racism.

But I'm addressing the fairly dominant LDS belief that the Mormon church is the full Truth it claims to be. And I know you disagree with that belief (it seems), but what I'm getting at is this: so what about the other Christian denominations who also made claims to truth? Isn't it hypocritical for a church to make grand supernatural claims of having The prophet, seer, revelator, fullness of the Truth, guidance of the Spirit, and yet when it's shown how ridiculous its claims are, its best hope is to hide behind the culture of past times to explain it away?

Anonymous said...

So, first someone points out that "the entire black history of the Mormon church is a bit of an embarrassment up until the ban was lifted."

Someone responds by asking, "That's not true of other Christian denominations?"

This exchange made me laugh because it carried me back to the speech of Dallin Oaks and his claim that Religion Is Awesome because, among other things, it inspired the abolition movement.

Except of course that "religion" DIDN'T inspire the abolition movement. Some Christians and some churches fought AGAINST slavery and racism, and some Christians/churches fought FOR slavery and racism. Some churches, such as the LDS Church, stayed pretty much on the sidelines. Some religious leaders were (at least for their day) quite progressive on matters of race. These would include Joseph Smith. Other religious leaders were decidedly racist. These would include Brigham Young.

So, Jeff, you're right to say we need to pay attention to the details. Unless, of course, we're engaging in deliberate sophistry; then we just obscure those pesky details by rolling them all up into the general category of "religion," like Dallin Oaks did in his contemptible speech.

Anonymous said...

The more you look back at LDS history and the more its leaders try to explain away some of the 'ugly' parts, the more you realize the influence JS's world influenced the BOM and the stories in it. Which says a lot about the corner stone of the LDS Church.

Nicole Jade said...

"We don't know the facts surrounding the BOM, but we do know that men of color were excluded from the priesthood during most of our lifetimes. This seems to me to be directly at odds with Christ's loving inclusion of all people."

I am amazed at the lack of understanding among people here. First off, persecuting people (holding them as slaves, making them go to the back of the bus, lynching them, etc.) because they are black is bad. Really bad. I don't think there's any question about that. But in our current society we are so sensitive to the fact that horrible things like that ever occurred that we go to great lengths to try to show that mere awareness of racial differences is somehow exactly the same as racism. As though being aware males and females exist is somehow sexist...

As far as blessings of the restored Gospel go race is entirely irrelevant now, but it used to have meaning and relevance that was something entirely removed from racism. Since the issue is irrelevant now those who correctly understand how it used to be relevant will always stop short of giving a full explanation of it. For a partial explanation of it please refer back to Elder Sitati's conference talk from about two years ago. This is a black man, a faithful member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, talking in a somewhat veiled way about the priesthood ban and its eventual lifting, but I think few people caught what he was really getting at.

Wookface said...

I'll admit, I haven't read through all the comments here, so someone may have suggested similar things. It is important to realize that the curse wasn't the dark skin but was the fact that they were separated from God. The dark skin was a marking that showed they were separated from God. To me, this makes sense if you figure that the Lamanites began to marry outside the covenant and marry the native inhabitants of the land (people who had darker skin). Their children would naturally have darker skin, which showed that they had married those outside the covenant. The dark skin wasn't a punishment but perhaps just a natural consequence of their sinful behavior. Also remember that the Lamanites (dark skin and all) become righteous at multiple different points in the BOM. Just my two bits.

Openminded said...

Wookface,
let's keep in mind that the scripture actually lays out why they were given black skin. Namely, "that they might not be enticing unto [the Lord's] people", who were "white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome".

So, you know, the passage said nothing about them being separated from God. He just wanted to curse them by making them into something not enticing to His people.

But that's just going off what the scripture says.

If you have something scriptural to back up your claim that the curse was separation from God rather than statements that "make sense" to you, that'd be welcome.

Nicole Jade said...

Openminded, there's meaning in the scriptures beyond and in addition to what the actual words say.

Please keep in mind that the SCRIPTURES do say that there were different points in times where the Lamanites were the righteous ones.

Openminded said...

Nicole,
What meaning should be added to "that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them"?

One that isn't there? Maybe Nephi didn't know the real reason, so he lied and made one up himself? Otherwise, he didn't leave room for doubt by what God wanted to accomplish with this particular part of the curse. He didn't want them to be enticing.

And there were multiple parts to the curse. God did cut them off. God gave them black skin. God made them loathsome.

I can see where one would think the black skin was a marking, but that's just a euphemism. It was a part of the curse, which is clearly laid out by the scripture as being meant to make the people not enticing.

Nicole Jade said...

"Nicole,
What meaning should be added to 'that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them'?"

We don't know exactly because we weren't there to see it. There's a lot of things in the scriptures that would make more sense if we were there to witness it. What I do know is that nothing in The Book of Mormon promotes racism, and if there was some sort of skin color distinction it wasn't to be used as a basis for persecuting others. In fact, the mark on Cain was given to protect him:

And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. Genesis 4:15

So, the situation in The Book of Mormon may have had a similar facet. And trouble is likely to occur when we take one verse of scripture and examine it entirely on its own. When we examine it in context with other scriptures then we get a more well-rounded view:

For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. 2 Nephi 26:33

This is a much more merciful view of Christ than many have of him.

Openminded said...

That must be a lovely way to cope with the cognitive dissonance on a personal level, but that doesn't change how a skin of blackness was put upon a group of people to make them less enticing according to the Book of Mormon rather than your interpretation of protection.

By reading what the text plainly says, the racial difference was used to make them less enticing to a group of people. And really, we get a pretty good understanding by reading the context it's already in. Sure, there are some supplemental verses; but the verse makes it undeniably clear what the black skin portion of the curse was meant to do (which is, again, to make one group not enticing to the other).

And yes, there are progressive verses in the BoM that promote racial equality.

But the one in question has a racist element to it.

You might think "oh, well black skin is a protection curse" or something along those lines. But this group of people was cursed with a separation from the Lord, black skin that doesn't look enticing to Nephi's people, loathsomeness, and the whole thing is passed on to a white Nephite if they mix with a blackened Lamanite. Protection was not even in the mix of reasons provided by Nephi. You cite Genesis, but there's really no relevant application of that verse in this situation. Only wishful thinking about language not even used or implied.

Nicole Jade said...

Okay, so you're going to take one statement and cling to it forever as though it's the only facet of the religion. "Sure there's these good things but I'm going to keep harping on this thing I think has a high likelihood of being a bad thing."

There probably isn't any individual or organization in this world that doesn't have something about it that doesn't look quite right to outsiders. Even if your pet verse is as bad as you think it is it still is not the whole LDS religion and theology. Not even close. That verse has just about zero relevance for our day. If you want to keep pretending like it's more important to us than it is, then go right ahead...

Openminded said...

Wait...you mean to say that I'm staying on topic? We can talk about other things if you'd like. Besides, why should we dwell on a passage that people who are heavily invested in Mormonism have difficulty accepting? Might as well talk to a YEC about evolution.

Nicole Jade said...

No, it's not about difficulty accepting it. I don't have any problem accepting that such a situation occurred thousands of years ago. It doesn't mean I think it was a wonderful situation, just like I don't think it was a wonderful thing that there was some guy in the book of Judges who cut his daughter into twelve pieces or (insert strange, perplexing, bewildering, gory Old Testament story of your choice here). I'm just saying it has little relevance to us now. Joseph Smith certainly didn't take it to mean, "Indians are bad. Let's persecute them." Spencer W. Kimball didn't take it that way either.

Papa D said...

"By reading what the text plainly says, the racial difference was used to make them less enticing to a group of people."

Nicole, openminded is 100% correct in that statement. It is what the verse says. I personally believe that verse is an opinion, NOT a statement of fact - that it is the reason the Nephites gave to the darker skin they observed. (The post to which I linked earlier in this thread gives more details about that opinion, if you are interested.) I might be right or wrong on that, but this is a case where the words say what the words say - and openminded is right to point out what they say.

One way or another, we can't get around the words without some logical defintion / interpretation of them - which, ironically, is what openminded and I have "argued" about with regard to other topcis occasionally. *grin*

Nicole Jade said...

I know the words say what they say. We are correctly observing the facts here but there is such a thing as fact/inference confusion.

Some of us are reading that verse and assuming it's implying exactly the same type of "whites against blacks in America from Colonial times to the present" racism, when we don't really know if that is the case. It could be that God merely created a visual distinction and that the Nephites read something into that and then we read extra things into that. These are logical fallacies we need to be careful not to commit. There is nothing in that verse that says, "Mistreat people who have a different skin color than you and you will have God and The Book of Mormon on your side cheering you on."

Papa D said...

Nicole, has anyone here said that? I haven't read anything that I interpret to be saying that.

Nicole Jade said...

No, I am exaggerating a little, but I do think the subtext of somebody harping on that one verse is, "If you believe in The Book of Mormon then you must be going along with the racism it promotes. Mormons are bad; they believe in a book that promotes racism. Don't fall for their goody-good white bread image." And if they're not saying that then why do they keep parroting what that one verse says?

But I am afraid this is one of those issues where somebody just wants to perpetually lord something over you and if you try to restate what they are saying they just respond with, "No, I'm not saying that."

"Okay, so you're not saying we're racist?"

"Nope, I'm not saying that. But I am going to keep vaguely insisting something real close to that but not close enough for you to really pin me down to anything concrete. But I do want to heavily imply that you're racist. Oh, but without implying it too much..." and it just ends up being a vicious circle. And I recognize it as such.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that Openminded doesn't believe in the divine nature of The Book of Mormon? (Correct me if I'm wrong.) And if that's the case then this one "enticing" issue doesn't really matter because s/he doesn't believe in ANYTHING in the book, so this one issue is really lumped in with everything else. And if it's not the case then, hey, we're all dealing with one little aspect of the book that wouldn't sit well with most people nowadays, even if we accept the book as a whole. What's the big deal?

Papa D said...

Honestly, I think you're reading more into it than there is. I don't think that's the conclusion openminded is reaching - that all Mormons are racist if they accept the Book of Mormon. I believe he thinks the verse describes a racist attitude - that skin color makes someone less appealing / enticing to someone else. That is VERY different than saying that those who believe the Book of Mormon are racist.

I will add, however, that these verses were used in the past my many members to support beliefs that absolutely were racist - and I'm not talking directly about having a priesthood ban in place. The **justifications** for the ban often were horribly racist, which is why I believe Elder McConkie (one of the most forceful defenders of the ban at one point) came out after the ban was lifted and said to forget everything anyone has said about it, that we spoke from limited understanding and we now have more light and knowledge than we did in the past.

Whether or not a darker skin really was created by God (which I don't believe) or it was seen as a "mark of wickedness" by the Nephites (which is my view), we can't defend it as not saying what it obviously says - and we can't ignore or deny that it has been used in our history as part of truly racist justifications for some of our members' and leasders' actions and statements.

Some of our leaders absolutely were racist, but I don't condemn them for it - just as I don't condemn the writer of the passage in question for what clearly is racist by our own modern standards. I think we should follow Elder McConkie's example in this regard and simply admit our past mistakes were, in fact, mistakes and reflect limited light and understanding.

Papa D said...

We also need to do everything we can to eliminate any residual racism that still exists among some of our membership - and I saw some of that first-hand when I lived in the Deep South in the early-mid 90's. It's not "common", but it still is strong in some areas and within some members.

Openminded said...

Thank you, Papa D. Was going to say much the same thing.

Nicole, you said:
"And if they're not saying that then why do they keep parroting what that one verse says?"
Because it's the best fit and people are coming up with delusional ways to make it say what it doesn't.

I don't know why you'd think all the critics are just "out to get you" or Mormonism in general. Maybe that's been your experience with others, maybe the culture you grew up in colors your perspective on the people who criticize your faith.

But I'm just here to point out where the logic seems to fail. I'm already an agnostic, it doesn't bother me if something is supportive of Mormonism or an old criticism against your religion ends up falling short. I've even changed my position on things. But this whole footnote deal is just wishful thinking gone wrong, and Perkins seems to really be making a fool out of himself with his...justifications.

Nicole Jade said...

"Because it's the best fit and people are coming up with delusional ways to make it say what it doesn't."

I'm not making it say anything it doesn't. Perhaps others are. But there is simply no getting around the fact that if we were there we would likely understand it better. That's not a philosophical perk that this issue has all on its own. It is like that with any history.

"I don't know why you'd think all the critics are just 'out to get you' or Mormonism in general."

I'm just wondering why you keep harping on one point, so, yes, I do make guesses as to the reasoning behind it. And I hope for clarification if I get something wrong.

"Maybe that's been your experience with others."

Yes.

"Maybe the culture you grew up in colors your perspective on the people who criticize your faith."

Nice try.

"Which is why I believe Elder McConkie (one of the most forceful defenders of the ban at one point) came out after the ban was lifted and said to forget everything anyone has said about it."

Not only after but also before. President Kimball sought opinions from many people on the issue. There was a very long build up to the revelation but one of the big pieces of the puzzle that helped him move forward was when Elder McConkie told President Kimball that he would not be acting against the scriptures to extend the Priesthood to all worthy males.

Nicole Jade said...

"But this whole footnote deal is just wishful thinking gone wrong, and Perkins seems to really be making a fool out of himself with his...justifications."

I don't blame anybody for exploring options, even if ultimately their guesses are wrong. I think I said earlier that people are so sensitive now to what happened with race relations in America that they will go to great lengths to try to spiritualize away anything that smacks of the same thing at different points in history, and sometimes their good intent might lead them to say things that are academically wrong, or perhaps academically not exquisitely correct. I don't have a big problem with them doing their mental exercises if it helps them feel better. We don't need to relentlessly mow them down if they are considering different options of how to understand a difficult verse of scripture, especially if they are faithful people of color who know that the color of their skin has no bearing on their righteousness.

Openminded said...

Then I guess we just differ on the mental gymnastics part. All downhill from there.

I do avoid the more faith-promoting sites (instead of the discussion-promoting ones).

Nicole Jade said...

I don't really go to any LDS discussion sites very much. Every once in a while I'll glance at one and sometimes participate in a discussion. If they are a "faith-promoting" site the things they use to promote faith have to be based ultimately in truth. The tricky part of course is that we don't always know what ultimate truth is, but what I am saying here is that I don't personally believe in the notion of, "Say whatever you want as long as it engenders 'faith.' Whether it's true or not is a secondary consideration at best."

And sometimes "fervor" and/or "fanaticism" get mistaken for "faith."

Mateo said...

"The tricky part of course is that we don't always know what ultimate truth is"

Nobody on this planet has EVER known ultimate truth. That religion purports to know it is what causes so many ridiculous problems.

Anonymous said...

And it came to pass that in this year there arose a people
which were called the Nephites, and they were true
believers in Christ;
And among them were they which were called by the
Lamanites, Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites;
Therefore the true believers in Christ, and the true
worshipers of Christ, (among whom were the three
disciples of Jesus which should tarry,) were called
Nephites, and Jacobites, and Josephites, and
Zoramites.
And it came to pass that they which rejected the gospel,
were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites;
And they did not dwindle in unbelief, but they did
willfully rebel against the gospel of Christ.
4 Nephi 1:40-42

And it came to pass that in this year, there began to be a
war between the Nephites, which consisted of the
Nephites and the Jacobites, and the Josephites, and
the Zoramites;
And this war was between the Nephites and the
Lamanites, and the Lemuelites, and the
Ishmaelites.
Now the Lamanites, and the Lemuelites, and the
Ishmaelites were called Lamanites, and the two
parties were Nephites and Lamanites.
Mormon 1:8-

This makes it sound it was a problem of religion as well as the race problem that we have. Brake them down in groups of skin color, parties, religion, etc.

Anonymous said...

And it came to pass that in this year there arose a people
which were called the Nephites, and they were true
believers in Christ;
And among them were they which were called by the
Lamanites, Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites;
Therefore the true believers in Christ, and the true
worshipers of Christ, (among whom were the three
disciples of Jesus which should tarry,) were called
Nephites, and Jacobites, and Josephites, and
Zoramites.
And it came to pass that they which rejected the gospel,
were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites;
And they did not dwindle in unbelief, but they did
willfully rebel against the gospel of Christ.
4 Nephi 1:40-42

And it came to pass that in this year, there began to be a
war between the Nephites, which consisted of the
Nephites and the Jacobites, and the Josephites, and
the Zoramites;
And this war was between the Nephites and the
Lamanites, and the Lemuelites, and the
Ishmaelites.
Now the Lamanites, and the Lemuelites, and the
Ishmaelites were called Lamanites, and the two
parties were Nephites and Lamanites.
Mormon 1:8-

This makes it sound it was a problem of religion as well as the race problem that we have. Brake them down in groups of skin color, parties, religion, etc.

Anonymous said...

And it came to pass that in this year there arose a people
which were called the Nephites, and they were true
believers in Christ;
And among them were they which were called by the
Lamanites, Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites;
Therefore the true believers in Christ, and the true
worshipers of Christ, (among whom were the three
disciples of Jesus which should tarry,) were called
Nephites, and Jacobites, and Josephites, and
Zoramites.
And it came to pass that they which rejected the gospel,
were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites;
And they did not dwindle in unbelief, but they did
willfully rebel against the gospel of Christ.
4 Nephi 1:40-42

And it came to pass that in this year, there began to be a
war between the Nephites, which consisted of the
Nephites and the Jacobites, and the Josephites, and
the Zoramites;
And this war was between the Nephites and the
Lamanites, and the Lemuelites, and the
Ishmaelites.
Now the Lamanites, and the Lemuelites, and the
Ishmaelites were called Lamanites, and the two
parties were Nephites and Lamanites.
Mormon 1:8-

This makes it sound it was a problem of religion as well as the race problem that we have. Brake them down in groups of skin color, parties, religion, etc.