Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Friday, April 09, 2021

New Scholarship on the Influence of the Small Plates on Mormon's Writings

One of the things that fascinates me in my role as a co-editor for the Interpreter Foundation's journal, Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, is seeing how different scholars using different methods and working independently come up with new concepts that fit nicely together. A new article published today illustrates this effect. I refer to Val Larsen's outstanding advance in Book of Mormon scholarship in "Josiah to Zoram to Sherem to Jarom and the Big Little Book of Omni," Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 44 (2021): 217-264. There's so much that this article does to help us appreciate the ancient setting of the Book of Mormon, including the conflicts between different religious factions in Jerusalem that may have carried over into the New World. This article is especially interesting when combined with another recent work of scholarship published just a few weeks ago, Clifford P. Jones, "That Which You Have Translated, Which You Have Retained," Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 43 (2021): 1-64. 

A key theme in Larsen's article is the clash between Mantic and Sophic views, or the views of Lehi with a living God with a Son, with angels and a divine council, a God who provides ongoing revelation prophets, versus the views of God as a remote, distant Entity who has given statutes and laws for the scribes and scholars to figure out. A clash that was well underway in Jerusalem of 600 B.C. continued throughout the Book of Mormon. 

Larsen frames the situation nicely in his abstract:

The first 450 years of Nephite history are dominated by two main threads: the ethno-political tension between Nephites and Lamanites and religious tension between adherents of rival theologies. These rival Nephite theologies are a Mantic theology that affirms the existence of Christ and a Sophic theology that denies Christ. The origin of both narrative threads lies in the Old World: the first in conflicts between Nephi and Laman, the second in Lehi’s rejection of King Josiah’s theological and political reforms. This article focuses on these interrelated conflicts. It suggests that Zoram, Laman, Lemuel, Sherem, and the Zeniffites were Deuteronomist followers of Josiah. The small plates give an account of how their Deuteronomist theology gradually supplanted the gospel of Christ. As the small plates close, their last author, Amaleki, artfully confronts his readers with a life-defining choice: having read the Book of Mormon thus far, will you remain, metaphorically, with the prophets in Zarahemla and embrace the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, or will you return to the land of Nephi and the theology you believed and the life you lived before you read the Book of Mormon?

Val Larsen's article explores some of the literary methods that relate the book of Omni and particularly the words of Amaleki in that book to the rest of the Book of Mormon. There's so much more going on in that small book than I had ever realized. The parallels and other relationships that Larsen explores suggest that Mormon deliberately drew upon small plates material, but this should be unlikely in the standard model that has emerged for the production of the Book of Mormon and especially the writing of the Words of Mormon. 

In that model, after the 116 pages were lost, the translation continued with the book of Mosiah and on until the very end of the large plates, followed by the translation of the added small plates of Nephi and finally the Words of Mormon, which tell us that Mormon has just discovered the small plates and felt inspired to add them for a wise purpose (which we now know was to make up for the loss of the 116 pages), even though it overlapped with what he had already written from the large plates. 

That standard model has the Words of Mormon being just about the last thing Mormon would write, apparently written right after he added the material from the small plates. That would seem to come after the large plates material had been abridged. How, then, can we understand Larsen's well-supported proposal that the book of Omni was influential in Mormon's writings? You can say it was just because Joseph made it all up himself, so everything should be related, but as always, the artfulness of the relationships seems beyond what one would expect from Joseph Smith just making things up on the fly.

Clifford Jones' essay provides background that fits in perfectly with Larsen's work. Clifford does some remarkable sleuthing and concludes that we've been looking at the Words of Mormon in the wrong way for many years now. He provides strong evidence that what we call the Words of Mormon was actually an editorial insertion by Mormon in what originally was part of the book of Mosiah. It was in reading about the transfer of the small plates from Amaleki to King Benjamin that Mormon was motivated to search and find the small plates record, and that is when he was inspired to not only add it at the end of his compilation, but to draw upon its teachings in the rest of what he would write. 

Jones provides annotation and emphasis for Words of Mormon 1:6, where Mormon writes, "I choose these things [these prophecies recorded on the small plates] to finish my record [the balance of my abridgment] upon them [making these prophecies the subject or theme of the rest of my record — it will be about them], which remainder of my record [the balance of my abridgment] I shall take from the plates of Nephi [the large-plate record]." There Jones notes that The Oxford English Dictionary lists one sense of upon as “Denoting the subject of speech or writing.” So it seems that Mormon is indicating that he is so impressed with the content of the small plates that he will finish his record drawing upon them for influence or guidance as he completes the abridgement of the large plates. In other words, the Words of Mormon are actually the earliest text from Mormon in the Book of Mormon, and they signal his deliberate intent to draw upon the small plates in the rest of his work. Some of the evidence for such influence is brought out in Larsen's analysis. 

It is amazing how much work was required to bring out a clearer understanding of these intricate details, beginning with the life's work of Royal Skousen in poring over the details of what survived from the Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon and the Printer's Manuscript to help us understand what was dictated, followed by the Joseph Smith Paper's project which has made those documents more readily available to scholars, which played an important role in Clifford Jones's discoveries. Drawing upon that scholarship, others have now sought to develop an understanding of what happened when in the translation of the plates, and then Val Larsen built on that as did Clifford Jones with painstaking evaluation of many clues from diverse sources to give new hypotheses which shook up old ways of thinking. What we are left with is a stronger vision of how intricate, consistent, and carefully crafted the Book of Mormon is, and how closely related it is to the impact of Josiah's reforms and other sources of religious conflict in pre-exilic Israel. The combined effect of Larsen's and Jones' works is an abundance of new evidences for the divinity and antiquity of the Book of Mormon. 

A Choice to Make: Do We Read the Book of Mormon through a Sophic or Mantic Lens?

Larsen wraps up his article by pointing out that the dichotomy of religious views in Nephite culture, the Sophic vs. the Mantic, is what we also face today. With a Sophic faith to inform us, we can read the Book of Mormon as the work of a lone man, Joseph Smith, whose personal views, environment, and vocabulary stand as the source of parallels, allusions, and intertextuality in the Book of Mormon. We can choose to see its prophecies and sermons as sloppy injections of modern views into an allegedly old record, its language as Joseph crude dialect and awkward grammar warped into a KJV twang, giving little more than simplistic axioms from Joseph's imagined anthropomorphic God in the form of pious fiction. That may be how many of the Nephites viewed the teachings and writings of the prophets of their day. 

Larsen's beautiful concluding words remind us that there is another way to view things:

But if, having read the small plates, we exercise Mantic faith, we will live in a world suffused with the presence and power of God, where to restore lost truths the corporeal Father and Son appear in pillars of fire to prophets, ancient and modern. Elohim will be for us behind the temple veil in the most holy place. Yahweh will be for us an unblemished lamb, sacrificed for our sins upon the altar of the temple, and he will be the atoning Christ suffering for us in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. We will have a Mother as well as a Father in Heaven. We will see richness in the relationships between Book of Mormon authors, Amaleki being a close reader of Nephi and Jacob, Mormon and Moroni close readers of Amaleki. We will adhere to a living faith, animated by manifest gifts of the Spirit and guided by prophets who still walk among us.

While the small plates, as they close, imply that we get to choose which of the two lands we will live in, Sophic Nephi or Mantic Zarahemla, Amaleki makes it clear that we do not fully determine what we encounter in those metaphorical lands. And the outcomes he briefly describes are much more fully revealed by Mormon in the Book of Mosiah. The land of Nephi becomes the debauched, sensual kingdom of King Noah. The temple in the land of Zarahemla becomes the holy place where inhabitants of the land are reborn as purified sons and daughters of Christ through the valedictory ministrations of their prophet king, Benjamin. Decide, Amaleki implicitly tells us, where you want to live.

 

 

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have found a few problems in Larsen’s work. These problems lead me to continue to believe that apologetics is merely religious nonsense dressed in the trappings of academia.

The statements “The origin of both narrative threads lies in the Old World” and “thus bringing this Old World theological rivalry with them to the Promised Land” are misleading, as it implies that Christian belief was present and prevalent in the Old World before the Deuteronomist reforms, not that, as the article goes on to clarify, a form of ancient Christianity sprang from whole cloth as a result of Lehi’s visions and revelation.

Consider this quote from Larsen:

“Having read from the book, Lehi exclaims, ‘Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty!’ (1 Nephi 1:14). Lord God Almighty is the King James translation of the Hebrew phrase Yahweh El Shaddai, so in saying this Lehi may offer praise to Yahweh the Son, El the Father, and Shaddai, the Mother God, Shaddai.”

The Book of Mormon isn’t a King James translation. If you believe Skousen, it was translated (most times) in a completely different dialect. To assume the root here is asinine and irresponsible.

Larsen makes this mistake again with “If Lehi used the word hekal, as seems likely.”
We don’t know he did, but let’s just assume he did and build other assumptions based on this extremely shaky one. He continues this problematic practice a short time later with “Back translating Lord and God through King James English to their Hebrew equivalents, we get Elohim and Yahweh.” Again, asinine and irresponsible and does not come close to meeting scholarly rigor.

Anonymous said...

Later on we read “Overlaying Lehi’s dream onto the landscape of Jerusalem.” This is a large leap. Why should we do this? What in the text or outside of it leads us to make this leap?

Another big leap comes with his “when ‘a man … dressed in a white robe’ approaches, stands before Lehi, and says: come, follow me (1 Nephi 8:5–6). Yahweh, the One who descended from heaven in a sun-white robe, now stands before Lehi” “That Yahweh is the guide is apparent not only from his earlier descent from heaven in a white robe, but also from the connection between the only two white things in the dream, the guide’s robe and the fruit of the tree”

There is no indication that the man who leads Lehi is meant to be Yahweh or Christ. Larsen disingenuously attributes Christ’s “come follow me” quote to this man who, in the actual text, is merely attributed with “he spake unto me, and bade me follow him.” He also doesn’t descend from heaven in this account, he’s just there: “And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me.” After the man leads Lehi into a “dark and dreary waste” the man is thereafter not referenced again in the account. If this were Yahweh, one would 1)expect to see more of him in the account, since it is all about the love of God and Christ’s role in the salvation of mankind, and 2)not expect him to lead anyone astray or into darkness. Instead, Lehi is the protagonist throughout the account, and leads himself and some of his family to the tree, not with the help of a guide (and actually in spite of him—Lehi must pray for outside help to find the tree after having “traveled for the space of many hours in darkness” as a result of following the guide), but by holding fast to a rod of iron.

“The pointedness of the rejection becomes apparent if we recognize that the dream is set in Jerusalem.”

There is no basis on which to make this assumption. The great and spacious building which he equates with the temple isn’t set upon a mountain, but “stood as it were in the air, high above the earth—it’s a floating building. He further tries to tie the relationship between the building and the temple by stating “Among those who mocked Lehi were the temple priests” which he follows with a mystifyingly unrelated biblical reference in 2 Chronicles. There is no evidence of this in the BoM text. The people within the floating, great and spacious building are “both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.” There is nothing to indicate that any of those in the building are of a priestly vocation, indeed, there are females and children within the building, both of which are not priestly types. Ultimately, Nephi tells us that “the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great” as well as “the large and spacious building, which thy father saw, is vain imaginations and the pride of the children of men.” Note that neither Nephi, nor Lehi, nor the angel describe the structure as a temple, nor do they set it upon a hill.

Anonymous said...

“Lehi is led to a sacred tree on the mount by his guide”

This is not the case, plain and simple. The guide disappears (or is no longer referenced) shortly after leading Lehi into “a dark and dreary waste.” As stated above, Lehi must pray to escape the darkness the guide left him in—it is not the guide who leads him forth, he is suddenly no longer in darkness, but sees a field. The tree Lehi finds is not upon a mount, but in a great field: “And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field. And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.” That this tree is not on a mountain is born out by further details in the dream. Lehi tells us “I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit. And I looked to behold from whence it came; and I saw the head thereof a little way off.” Generally speaking, water does not run uphill. I guess you could claim that because this is a dream, anything is possible—like a floating building—but this description further demonstrates that the tree is in a field, not on a hill. In fact, neither Nephi’s, nor Lehi’s account makes specific mention of a hill or a mountain. It is ridiculous to attempt further connections between this vision and the geography of Jerusalem, which Larsen goes on to do.

“The Spirit of the Lord carries Nephi up to a high place, where he sees some of what his father saw and much else besides. By answering a question correctly, Nephi qualifies himself to pass through the veil and enter the presence of El. His guide, Yahweh, ushers him into heaven”

I’m not sure at what point the spirit turns into Yahweh. The spirit shows Christ to Nephi in vision, but it is clear that the spirit is the guide throughout. Is Yahweh the Spirit, or is he Christ? Larsen’s conflation here is as confusing as the Nicean creed.

Larsen goes on to create fiction with “The Gihon Spring, also known as the Virgin’s Spring,37 which had flowed into Kidron from the temple mount, has now been shifted to the Mount of Olives where it flows from the sacred tree as a fountain of living waters, the waters of spiritual birth.” Where did this come from and what justification does he have to do this? It seems Larsen is channeling Joe Peaceman at this point.

After these many problems in the initial pages of this work, I’m not inclined to read any further.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous ignores Larsen’s citation of secular scholars who hold that pre-Deuteronomist Israel believed in a divine family with a Father God, El, a mother Goddess, Asherah, and divines sons, son Yahweh being the God of Israel. There is certainly ground for thinking that ancient Israel believed in a Divine Father, Son (and as Joseph Smith later taught) Mother. Anonymous obviously discounts the Book of Mormon and Books of Abraham and Moses as, themselves, evidence of what was believed anciently. Thus, he assumes what he is obligated to prove if he wishes to convince those who do take these sacred books seriously: that there was no knowledge of Christ prior to the time when he lived. Larsen does not say belief in the Son sprang whole cloth out of Lehi’s visions, nor does the Book of Mormon. Zenos and Zenoch antedate Lehi, as does the quite well attested belief in a divine family. Anonymous mischaracterizes both what Larsen says and what the Book of Mormon says.

Larsen suggests that Lord God Almighty is a translation of Yahweh El Shaddai. Those are the Hebrew words that were rendered in the KJV as Lord God Almighty. Latter-day Saints believe Lehi spoke Hebrew. So what Hebrew words would Anonymous propose as alternative sources for the translation Lord God Almighty? Even if (as if obvious) Anonymous does not believe the Book of Mormon is an ancient text, for this criticism to have purchase with anyone who believes the Book of Mormon is ancient and Lehi spoke Hebrew, he must propose alternative Hebrew words that are more plausible originals for Lord God Almighty. Clearly, the choices made by the KJV scholars, people deeply conversant in Hebrew, are plausible translations. As Larsen notes, every appearance of Almighty in the KJV has the word Shaddai as its Hebrew original. Again, where are Anonymous’s alternative Hebrew words?

The same point can be made with the word Hekal, a very plausible Hebrew word that would be translated as a great, spacious building. And it is also the name of the largest room in the temple and is also attested in referring to the temple as a whole. Yes, great building, palace, and temple are all possible translations of that word. What Hebrew word does Anonymous propose as a better alternative? For the argument that the proposed Hebrew back translation is implausible to stand, an alternative better Hebrew back translation must be offered justified.

With respect to the location of Lehi’s dream, where did Lehi live? Right, Jerusalem. And what is the usual content of our dreams? Content from our experiences when awake (typically transformed in various ways), not places, people, situations never before encounters and totally disconnected from the person’s normal experience. So a sensible baseline assumption when interpreting a dream is to start with the location and cast of characters where the person lives. In Lehi’s case, that mean Jerusalem. Yes the temple is high in the air, an obvious transformation of Lehi’s ordinary experience of the sort typical in dreams. Transformations of this sort often connect with reality (e.g., a building in at the highest point in the city, the temple in Jerusalem, might be at the highest point in the dream). The symbolic power of the dream is enhanced by the building lacking any foundation. The building in the air, the temple, and the palace are all about to fall. The Old Testament extensively specifies that the temple priests wear “fine” clothing. Larsen suggests the great building signifies the two great Hekal’s of Jerusalem, the temple and palace, which in combination were inhabited by people of all sexes and ages—people who in Lehi’s time were very aggressively persecuting those who worshipped at sacred Asherah trees.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous says there is no indication that Lehi’s guide, who says “follow me” is Yahweh, noting that he does not descend from heaven. But a being dressed in sun white robes, obviously Yahweh, did descend from heaven to earth and did come to Lehi in his opening vision. Anonymous wants us to read with no awareness of that context. Why would the guide, also dressed in a white robe, need to descend from heaven again if he had already done so in the opening vision. It is more logical that he would continue where he previously left off, serving as Lehi’s guide on earth. Anonymous says that after the guide leads Lehi into the wilderness, he is never referred to again. He ignores obvious counter evidence. Lehi says he came into the dark and dreary waste “as I followed him.” There is no indication that he ceased to follow his guide. Lehi then speaks “unto the Lord,” again Yahweh, and asks for mercy. He then sees a large field with a tree in it, a tree that bears the sacramental body of Yahweh that brings mercy into the lives of those who eat it. Anonymous says if the guide is Yahweh, we would expect to see more of him. But he is ubiquitous in the dream. He appears in a white robe, says follow me. Lehi who is following him calls upon “the Lord,” Yahweh, then sees the white fruit of the tree, obviously the body of Yahweh. Yahweh is everywhere if one is only slightly attuned, as good readers should be, to context and linkages in the text. Anonymous notes that the tree Lehi sees is in a field, not on a mount. And no fields are ever found on a mountain? How then is the Garden of Gethsemane found on the very mountain Larsen alludes to, the Mount of Olives.

Turning to Nephi’s vision of Lehi’s dream, Anonymous makes an elementary reading error when he says that the Spirit is Nephi’s guide throughout. He is not. He is Nephi’s guide until he commands Nephi to “look” at him. When Nephi looks in heaven, the Spirit disappears from before his eyes. Nephi finds himself on earth looking at Mary. An angel descends to be his new guide. Why? Because the Spirit is no longer with Nephi. The angel repeats the Spirit’s words, “look.” Nephi looks and this time sees the Spirit, nestled in Mary’s arms as the baby Jesus.

Anonymous’ reading of Larsen’s article is tendentious and careless. Check the article out for yourself.

Anonymous said...

“There is certainly ground for thinking that ancient Israel believed in a Divine Father, Son (and as Joseph Smith later taught) Mother.”

Polytheism is different from Christianity. Polytheistic tendencies is something Judaism has fought since its beginning. If these polytheistic beliefs translated themselves to the Christianity of the Nephites, what happened to the mother god, and why was a holy spirit introduced instead?

“Larsen does not say belief in the Son sprang whole cloth out of Lehi’s visions”

I didn’t attribute that to Larsen. I did explain that he showed how modern Christianity was birthed to Lehi in vision. Consider the following from Larsen’s work:

“Apostles, e.g., Peter, James, and John, likewise descend from heaven and come to the man Lehi bearing a heavenly message. Like the One they follow, they are linked with objects in the heavens: ‘he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament’ (1 Nephi 1:10).22

“The descending Yahweh gives Lehi a sacred book and bids him read. Having read from the book, Lehi exclaims, ‘Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty!’ . . . Lehi caps his testimony by saying that his vision ‘manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world’ (1 Nephi 1:19).

Lehi sees Christ as a redeemer, and his 12 apostles with him in vision. This is the “good news” of Christianity writ large—something that is not contained in the description of the pre-Josiah traditions Larsen describes.

Anonymous said...

“for this criticism to have purchase with anyone who believes the Book of Mormon is ancient and Lehi spoke Hebrew, he must propose alternative Hebrew words that are more plausible originals for Lord God Almighty”

The BoM tells us that Lehi and his descendants spoke Hebrew. It also tells us that the Book of Mormon was not written in Hebrew (Mormon 9:32-33). I have no responsibility to provide alternatives because I didn’t make the original claims and don’t subscribe to their underlying premise. Also, there is no reason to assume that a translator, regardless of the source language, is going to make the same word choice in English, just because other people did. Lastly, we know that a large portion of the book was translated without referring to an original document, so making assumptions like this are very large assumptions at best. These overwhelming problems with Larsen’s assertions aren’t even recognized by him, let alone addressed. He doesn’t feel the need to address them because he is producing apologetics with an intended audience of believers and not producing scholarly work. That should tell you something about the legitimacy of the work being presented.

Anonymous said...

“But a being dressed in sun white robes, obviously Yahweh, did descend from heaven to earth and did come to Lehi in his opening vision.”

So we are to assume that anyone in a dream or vision who is dressed in white is Yahweh?

“Why would the guide, also dressed in a white robe, need to descend from heaven again if he had already done so in the opening vision.”

You realize that in the narrative of the BoM these are two separate visions which occur months or even years apart, correct?

“There is no indication that he ceased to follow his guide. Lehi then speaks ‘unto the Lord,’ again Yahweh, and asks for mercy.”

Lehi doesn’t “speak to the lord,” he “began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy.” This indicates two things, one or both of which may be true, 1)the guide is no longer present, 2)the guide wasn’t Yahweh in the first place.

“Yahweh is everywhere if one is only slightly attuned, as good readers should be, to context and linkages in the text.”

And yet when Nephi asks for an interpretation of the dream, the angel never tells him “by the way, you know the guy dressed in white who lead your dad into darkness then forced him to say a prayer to him to escape even though he was standing right there? that was Yahweh.” Rather, the angel tells us that the tree represents, not Christ, but the love of God.

“Yahweh, then sees the white fruit of the tree, obviously the body of Yahweh.”

Why is this the obvious interpretation? If, as the angel tells us, the tree represents the love of God, wouldn’t the fruit be eternal life or salvation? Or possibly the happiness that results from partaking in the love of God? Your interpretation seems less than obvious based on the information the text provides.

“Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw? And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.”

The fruit of the tree is described in precisely the same language as the tree itself.

Anonymous said...

“Turning to Nephi’s vision of Lehi’s dream, Anonymous makes an elementary reading error when he says that the Spirit is Nephi’s guide throughout.”

I apologize if my writing was unclear. Larsen’s claim is that Nephi’s guide is both Yahweh and the spirit of the lord. For a religion that makes a point of the distinction between the three members of the godhead, this is awfully trinitarian. After this short vignette, the spirit (or is it Yahweh—what would Larsen say?) pulled an Amelia Earhart. My argument wasn’t that the angel didn’t ultimately take over guide duties in the account, but that Larsen is extremely unclear about who specifically begins them.

Stan Spencer said...

Interesting article, Jeff. I love your reviews of recent papers. A thought on when Mormon could have read the small plates and been influenced by the book of Omni. Words of Mormon 1:3 says Mormon found the small plates when he was abridging the account of King Benjamin. So if he took the opportunity to read them at that point before resuming his abridgment, all of the abridgment we have could have been influenced by Amaleki's writings, whether in the standard model or Jones's model.

Seatimer said...

Wow, Anonymous really came unglued with this article. It must have struck a deep chord for so much blather to have been incited.

Back to Jeff's original assertion, the Book of Mormon is indeed revealing more-and-more depth with each passing year. The amazing discoveries and consistencies which recent research is revealing has been mind-blowing to say the least. No wonder the detractors are foaming at the mouth!

Jeff, I find it interesting that whenever you post something like this, the detractors attack, but rarely hit the mark by addressing the core of what you are actually talking about. They'll spew nonsense and attempt to distract from the underlying message by throwing out their red herrings, (and in this instance, I do have to give some credit to Anonymous for seeming to actually make an attempt at rebutting Larson.) After all, Larson is just adding additional hypotheses and nothing more. Still, the vituperation reveals that there is probably a lot more at stake than what these detractors are willing to admit.

The sad part is that their 15 minutes of attempted rebuttal rarely damages hours and hours of research and work, but in actuality shows their own juvenile nature more than anything else.

They'll never come to an understanding, because haters got to hate.

Seatimer said...

It's been recently postulated (and I tend to agree) that anonymous and anonymous OK are in actuality semi-professional, anti-Mormon detractors.

Regardless of why they use anonymity to score their attempted broadsides, the fact that they hate the Church and its members so much should explain the majority of their rantings.

Haters got to hate.

Anonymous said...

“the fact that they hate the Church and its members so much should explain the majority of their rantings”

And yet you’ll note that none of the above rantings said anything about the church, they merely pointed out flaws in Larsen’s article.

Seems that haters gotta mischaracterize. . .

Anonymous said...

“the detractors attack, but rarely hit the mark by addressing the core of what you are actually talking about. They'll spew nonsense and attempt to distract from the underlying message by throwing out their red herrings”

Jeff provided Larsen’s article as a jumping off point for his own statements. His statements immediately become suspect when the article he is jumping off from makes so many poor arguments and outright wrong assumptions. It’s not a red herring, it’s due diligence from an academic standpoint.

Seatimer said...

I have always found it interesting how easy it is to tear someone else's work down, but to construct something takes real effort and ingenuity.

All home builders know that the construction of a home takes weeks, if not months, but no matter how well or poorly built that home, it only takes minutes, hours or days to demolish it. So it is with all things built by man; he who is intent on destroying requires very little effort to demolish.

Now I'm not saying that Anonymous is successful at wreaking havoc with Jeff Lindsay's observations. I don't think that he does that good of a job, but he seems to think so. So we're at an impasse, but my sole point isn't that. My sole point is that it takes very little effort to "demolish" constructed work.

What I would really, really like to see is the constructive efforts that Anonymous or Anonymous OK has built in their lifetime. I would really, really like to be the judge and jury regarding whatsoever it might be that they have constructed in their lifetime. Fortunately for them, neither I, nor Jeff, nor any other mortal man gets to be that judge and jury. There is One who will do so some day, though. If we have spent our life destroying the works of others and that is our sole heritage, I don't believe that that is a very positive recommendation for the "good" that we might have constructed with the short probation of our life.

I believe with all and every fiber of my being that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and inspired and living, built upon restoration, Priesthood keys and ultimately being fully and divinely authorized. Regardless of all the detractors in the world and their belief that they're doing some kind of good by attempting to demolish that framework, nevertheless the outcome is still the same: they are attempting to demolish and not construct. It's inarguable what it is that they're doing, and the choice has been theirs and theirs alone. No one has coerced them into a habitual lifetime of attempted demolition.

Anonymous said...

Let’s play with your construction analogy a little more. Do you remember the story of the three little pigs? All three put in the effort to build a house for themselves. It’s likely there wouldn’t have been much building time difference between the pig who used straw and the pig who used sticks. Both had the same end result—the wolf was able to blow their houses down (after much huffing and puffing of course). There is an implied time difference for the pig who built his house out of bricks, but the moral of the story that we all understand, is the difference in material used, the quality of construction, and the wisdom of the builder who constructed the building. Time is never mentioned as a factor. I could spend a lifetime creating a document whose tenets could be picked apart in moments if my method of construction, material, and skill level are sub-par. It is indeed easier to take apart an argument than it is to make one, but that should never stop someone from attacking an argument that is easily toppled. Sympathy has no place in the realm of argument. A well crafted argument, just like a well crafted structure, is not easily toppled. It is incumbent upon the creator of the argument to consider arguments for as well as against their subject in order to craft a strong structure. Larsen’s article was made of sticks, at best. It took very little huffing and not much puffing to topple it—the reason being, it wasn’t constructed to withstand criticism. He wrote an article to “preach to the choir.” The sad thing is, I don’t believe even the choir would be on his side with this one since he made so many unfounded assertions.

What it ultimately comes down to, Seatimer, is that I’m not sure that you fully understand Jeff’s purpose in posting on this blog. Despite often being short sighted in his assertions, he understands that the the necessary culling of ideas through their presentation and rebuttal is an essential aspect of academic inquiry. The “tearing down” you are so put off by is an important part of the process of establishing good ideas and theories. Those which survive scrutiny tend to be those that deserve to survive because they are the most correct. So I would urge that, instead of disparaging those who criticize a work, you read what they have to say about it, decide if their ideas have merit, and point out where they don’t. Making blanket statements about the writer’s character or behavior does nothing to further ideas, and is therefore virtually useless.

Seatimer said...

Hey Anonymous, yeah I get that Jeff (amongst many other reasons) may utilize this site to craft and render and even sharpen his argument. All well-and-good, and it doesn't appear that even you have an issue with that. Truth be told, I believe that Jeff has mentioned his appreciation for the help given to "hone" in on the topic as to be more accurate, concise and correct.

That being said, I truly find it ironic how some people's calling in life appears to be in "deconstruction" as opposed to "construction." I mean, let's get real, there are a lot of people who haven't crafted a positive thing for years because they've been so busy tearing down someone else's creations. Negative energy sucks a soul in just as rapidly and stingily as any other energy and once someone falls to the "dark side," it sure seems apparent that all they can do thereafter is criticize, deconstruct and demonize the efforts of others.

Whether that's you or not, only you have the wherewithal to tell. If you truly can face your Maker and confide in Him that your efforts have been guileless and without hypocrisy, innocent of negative energy and free of dark influence, then more power to you, keep up the good work. But if any of those things seem even remotely possible, then you might want to reconsider where your efforts are headed. ...but as for me and my house, we serve the Lord.

Anonymous said...

It’s interesting that the same day I read your post, I also listened to a podcast where Jordan Peterson was being interviewed. They were discussing ideology and ideologues, and Peterson had this to say, which seems to apply to your comments above:

“Ideology just tells you what to think about everything so you’re always right and someone else is always wrong. And even worse, they’re evil, and that’s where things go out of control. As soon as the evil person isn’t you, you’re on shaky ground.”

Seatimer said...

Well Anonymous, you might be right. I never claimed to not be on shaky ground, only that I refuse to follow the "dark side." Once again I must submit that only you have the wherewithal to know where you stand. As I mentioned in my last comment but which you didn't respond to, if you are proceeding with a clear conscience then fine, keep up the good work.

Whether I'm an idealogue or not, I'm not judging you. I'm just laying out some framework for you to determine for yourself. If you are free of negative energy, criticism for criticism sake and free of the tendency to tear down and never build, then you might be on a good course. But if you do submit to any of those idealogies, you will have to figure out for yourself where you're headed. Only you know.