|Subject:||My BIG, FAT response to TBM Mormon Eavesdropper|
|Date:||Feb 06 21:47 2004|
Hi TBM eavesdropper,
"Since we do not have any record of what happened to the Lamanites after 400 A.D. it is speculation that the modern day Native Americans are all Lamanites".
Is Jesus Christ "speculating" when he refers to Native Americans as "Lamanites" all over the Doctrine and Covenants? What is that? Is that really what it's come to? And what about the dozens of references from Joseph Smith, which you can read in the Official History of the Church by BH Roberts, to Native Americans as "Lamanites"? I mean, how many times does Jesus Christ himself, and then all his modern prophets and apostles (even Hinckley up to a few years ago), have to identify the Native Americans with Lamanites before it's not speculation anymore, but church doctrine? Can you imagine standing up ten years ago in church saying, "I think this whole business about the Lamanites being the ancestors of the Native Americans is just speculation?" You, literally, would have a church trial (or the Orwellian variant, "court of love").
How on earth can you possible say with a straight face, "it's speculation", after Jesus's positive identification?
"It is also speculation they were all destroyed. We simply do not know."
---This is my point, TBM. Maybe I didn't communicate it properly. If it is true they were "all destroyed", as some speculate, it means the prophecies in the BOM haven't come true. And if they WEREN'T all destroyed, as others speculate, AT LEAST ONE - I mean, JUST ONE, for crying out loud - native American would show ANY genetic affinity with the Israelites. But not a single one does, and BYU's been trying to find one - just one! - for over five years.
You also write:
"We do not know by what method the Lord used to bring about this change, but even God is bound by the rules of Physics and who is to say the change that came among the Lamanites resulted in a change to their DNA?"
---Wow. Got me. The RB ship goes down.
Have you ever heard of Occam's Razor?
If so, let me lay something on you.
The True History of the Latter-day Saint's World
The devout European Christians that migrated to the Americas wondered if the natives they found weren't one of the ten lost tribes of Israel. We now know by overwhelming archaeological, linguistic, anthropological, geographical, and genetic evidence, that these natives are actually Asiatics whose ancestors crossed the Bering land bridge long before either the Jaredites or Nephites are supposed to have existed. The end.
A gregarious, ambitious young man, something of a local celebrity for his storytelling and treasure hunting abilities, is humiliated by his future father-in-law, Isaac Hale, when Hale refuses to consent to him marrying his daughter Emma. Mr. Hale's reason is that Joseph follows a profession of which he "cannot approve", that is, treasure-hunting (a crime, and one of which the young man had already been convicted in 1826). Young Joseph bursts into tears, acknowledges that he can't see anything in the seer stone, and vows to his future father-in-law that he will stop the illegal money digging.
After this humiliating incident, recorded by both Isaac Hale and young Joseph's carriage driver Peter Ingersoll who was a witness, Joseph returns home to New York, anxious to go legit. He begins to think. He's a man now, and he wants to get married. He thinks.
Blessed with a natural talent for storytelling, Joseph one day announces a guardian spirit or angel has been appearing to him for years, and that he has found ancient plates in a nearby hill. To his surprise, word spreads like wildfire. Initially, they are not reputed to be religious in nature. Sometime afterward, the plates are described as containing sacred writings.
Before long, Joseph announces he has the plates, though no one is allowed to see them. Later, eleven men will sign affidavits written by Joseph himself giving the impression they had seen the plates in reality; but later statements by the witnesses themselves make it clear that they all saw them "in vision".
According to his various scribes, Joseph never once looks at the "plates" during "translation", instead dictating while staring into his hat. This seems odd to readers of the BoM, since it says that the plates will be preserved in all their original, metallic brilliance. What for, if they're not used for translation?
Sometimes, during translating, or rather, dictation, a cloth is hung between Joseph and his scribes. Oddly, during these times, entire sequences from the King James Version of the Bible are dictated by Joseph, including in many instances translation errors unique to Joseph's edition.
Young Joseph's family reacts with great excitement. In addition to being religious and superstitious, they have been down on their luck for years. The $1000 dowry Lucy had brought to the marriage, had all been lost when Joseph Senior risked it all on growing ginseng (according to Lucy, their selling agent in China absconded with their money). As itinerant farmers, they have moved nine times in eleven years. Joseph Senior, according to his own and his son's accounts, has a problem with alcohol. The boys bring in a meager living through odd jobs. They augment that income by convincing local farmers they possess the gift of "seeing" - that they have seen buried Spanish treasure on their property in a seer stone - and for a sum, they will uncover it. Although no Smith brother ever does recover any lost Spanish treasure, they continue to find farmers willing to hire them.
Joseph's friend Martin Harris, whose wife is going bananas over her adulterous, chronic church-hopper husband bankrolling Joseph, takes 116 pages of foolscap BoM manuscript to show his wife. She destroys it. Joseph freaks out, and does not dictate for months.
When he finally resumes, he begins not at the beginning, but with the book of Mosiah (this is evidenced by handwriting analysis from the various scribes used). Throughout all of Mosiah, nothing is mentioned of Jesus coming to America, nor even on into the body of Alma. It is only very shortly before Jesus appears to ancient Americans that we begin to hear anything about it.
This strikes readers as odd, since Mosiah and subsequent prophets were supposed to have had access to I and II Nephi, which are filled with very detailed prophecies about Christ coming to the Americas. How could they not know?
They couldn't know, because it wasn't until shortly before the account of Jesus's appearance, that the idea even occurred to young Joseph that Jesus would visit America. He writes it up. The book's turning out better than expected.
As he has been dictating, it has begun to dawn on Joseph that perhaps he could be a minister or even maybe a prophet figure, start a church or something of the sort. This is a way out. His life up until this time has been one long series of disappointments, indignities, and instability, plus his own goofing around hasn't helped. That's going to end.
After finishing the book of Moroni, Joseph goes back and re-writes what had been the Book of Lehi, telling the same story, but from the perspective of Nephi. He then takes the opportunity of putting in the detailed prophecies of Jesus appearing in the Americas, fairly easy now, since those parts have already been dictated. This is why no one from Mosiah on hadn't heard about them - they didn't exist yet, at the time the characters were created in the fertile imagination of Joseph. He also includes incredibly detailed prophecies about himself, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, etc., although strangely, the book contains no prophecy beyond the date on which it is being dictated by Joseph. Another strange feature is that the prophecies about Jesus's life in Palestine are incredibly detailed, even naming Jesus's mother as Mary, but include not one single detail that is not recorded in the New Testament.
In reference to the lost portion of the manuscript, Joseph explains to everyone that he couldn't just re-translate the Book of Lehi, because designing men would change the text, and then accuse him of fraud. Yet, to some this explanation is problematic, since emendations to Martin's foolscap would be clearly evident to all; and if the Book of Lehi were totally re-written in someone else's hand, that would also be obvious. In short, re-translating the Book of Lehi in reality would have been a win-win for Joseph. It would have exposed his "enemies", and verified that there was an actual ancient text that had been translated accurately. Some wonder if perhaps the most plausible explanation for Joseph's refusal to "re-translate" isn't the fear that the original was changed, but the fear that it WASN'T - and that his second attempt at telling the story would differ so obviously that the whole ancient plates story would be over before it had begun. No - telling essentially the same set-up story, but from the perspective of Nephi, is the perfect solution. It has to be done. The book, maybe a church...this is a way out. He's married. His mother, father, brothers, sisters, and wife are depending on him. He will not blow it.
In his book of Mormon, Joseph describes the practice of an ancient Israelite religion in the Americas in such a way, that it bears no resemblance to every other indication about this religion in the Old Testament, archaeological digs, extra-Biblical sources, etc. Strangely, it bears a striking resemblance, both in its practices and doctrines, to frontier America evangelical Protestantism. Heaven and hell, callings by inspiration only (like in the case of Alma), revival-type meetings, conversion swoons, trinitarianism, etc., are all there. It also incorporates broader themes popular at the time - anti-Masonry, anti-Catholicism, and most notably, the idea that the natives were lost Jews.
Interestingly, a book published by the pastor of Joseph's cousin Oliver Cowdery a few years earlier, called "A View of the Hebrews", and which we now know Joseph was familiar with, contains a very similar story structure, and the identical explanation for the origins of the native Americans.
The church Joseph started eight years earlier is in serious crisis. Hundreds are apostatizing. Many are calling for Joseph himself to be excommunicated. Action is required. With an intuitive grasp of what to say and when, Joseph begins to compose his own history, an autobiographical statement - a hagiography. He needs to re-assert and re-establish himself.
In this version of his life, he takes the opportunity to edit out of existence his humiliating encounter with Isaac Hale all those years earlier. He claims that the reason Isaac Hale refused consent was that Joseph would not deny that he had seen God and Jesus. This strikes later observers as a problematic allegation, since there is no evidence that Isaac Hale, or anyone else, had ever heard a First Vision story.
The first [one of the first, see a post below] "anti-Mormon" book, by a man named Hurlbut, had been published a few years earlier. It included a series of affidavits from the Smith's former neighbors describing their treasure hunting activities, including first hand, detailed descriptions of the various magic rituals and incantations used by the Smiths to ward off evil spirits from where the treasure was buried. Some explanation needs to be given. Joseph handles by downplaying it. He merely alludes to light mindedness and the typical frivolities of youth, omitting reference to his conviction at the age of 21 for "glass looking", i.e., fraud. After all, this is crisis time. The people need a prophet, and they will get one.
The meat of his history is the First Vision - an experience that very few people, if any, at the time have ever heard of. Joseph's founding story up until this time has been the visit from the angel Nephi (later Moroni) in 1823; now Joseph traces back to 1820, a year in which he claims Palmyra experienced a religious revival. Joseph then recasts a story which had begun years earlier as nothing more than the account of an experience in which "the Lord" told Joseph he was forgiven of his sins, into a full blown physical appearance of God and Jesus Christ himself. Later observers are able to trace a definite evolution to this story, but that doesn't matter now. When the religious dissidents come to find out that their prophet actually had an interview with God and Jesus Christ himself, many of them once again submit to his leadership. Joseph's church survives, and he survives as its head. He will rise.
Coincidentally, Joseph teaches and preaches pure trinitarianism up until shortly before this autobiography. And his earliest accounts of his experience with "the Lord" in fact are all Trinitarian - there is only one person, the Lord - up until now. But in the last little while, Joseph has come to believe that Jesus and God are separate entities. Thus, his private religious experience is retrofitted to accommodate his new understanding of the Trinity, and exaggerated into the basis for an unimpeachable claim to prophethood. The chronological agreement between the changes in Joseph's First Vision story, and his changing understanding of religious doctrines, makes some wonder if this original experience had any basis within the realm of physical reality. Even beyond this, Joseph contradicts himself on the motivation for petitioning the Lord in the first place, his conclusions about "true churches"; but he constradicts himself in a way that, oddly, happen to help diffuse the crisis he is currently beset with. When seen in light of his prodigious storytelling talents, the "evolution" of this story makes some uncomfortable. For example, it becomes difficult for some to believe that Joseph "forgot" that he had seen God the Father until 1838. Also suspicious are the evolving stories from Joseph and Oliver about their ordinations by John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John - suspicious because the most miraculous versions of these stories again coincide when such a miraculous version is most required, for the purposes of keeping the church going strong, with Joseph at the head.
In the 1837 and 1840 editions of the BoM, Joseph also re-writes out of existence explicit references to Trinitarianism, although he gives up about a third of the way in. The Book of Mormon as it stands today still contains many of the original Trinitarian phrasings.
Joseph has produced a book which many hundreds claim is inspired. He is told so often that he is a prophet, that he comes to believe that in fact he was inspired to write the Book of Mormon. The line between fantasy and fact begins to be more blurred than ever for him. He becomes convinced that he is every bit the prophet he is reputed to be.
As such, Joseph undertakes to "correct" the Bible. He receives "by inspiration" the original book of Genesis, as it originally came from the hand of Moses. The only problem with this is that unbeknownst to Joseph, Moses was not and could not have been the author of the Book of Genesis; it is a meta-history compiled by someone living much later than Moses, taken from various original Israelite history manuscripts themselves, authored by different people. In short, Joseph accidentally restores to its pristine condition, a book that never actually existed. His many other changes to the Bible look more and more embarrassing, as ever older Bible texts become available, and none support his changes. Some suspect the church is aware of this, since they will not canonize the JST, even though Joseph claimed to have finished it.
He claims that ancient Egyptian papyrus scrolls contain the histories of Abraham and Joseph. He "translates" them. Unbeknownst to him, Egyptian hieroglyphics will shortly be deciphered by Champollion. Before long, Egyptian is as easy to read as ancient Greek.
130 years later, Joseph's scrolls are found. One of the scrolls we know now was used for at least the first two chapters of the Book of Abraham, and even the church doesn't officially deny this. What Joseph thought were one of a kind scrolls written by Abraham, were copies of the same document found in thousands of tombs around Egypt. They were found there, because they are funerary documents, dealing with the Egyptian underworld. Some people find it difficult to believe that thousands of devoutly religious Egyptians, concerned about their welfare in the afterlife, would include scriptures from a foreign religion in their tombs, when to do so would merit punishment in that afterlife.
Even more implausibly, the papyri date from about 200 AD - two millennia after Abraham could have lived. Modern apologists try to explain away Joseph's "by his own hand" comment, by saying that this merely means that originally they were written in his own hand, but that these are copies. Some people find this typically strained.
Some find it difficult to believe that Abraham could have written on papyrus before papyrus was invented, and include Hebrew words before Hebrew originated; or that one day, a papyrus scroll might pop up that Egyptian readers will translate into something like Joseph's the Book of Abraham. Also disturbing is the fact that Joseph had a copy of the writings of Josephus, the Jewish historian, and many of the incidents in the Book of Abraham simply appear to be embellishments of folk tales recorded in Joseph's Josephus book.
Another puzzling question is, why, if the scrolls were "sacred" writings as Joseph insisted, he exhibited them to everyone, when the BoM plates couldn't be shown to anyone at all on the grounds that they were "sacred"?
Joseph one day receives metal plates found in a burial mound in Kinderhook, Illinois. He examines them, and tells William Clayton they are a true record of a descendant of Ham "through the loins of Pharaoh", who made it to America. Joseph hires a man to do woodcuts of the plates, and publishes a newsletter about them. It excitedly announces that the full translation will be published as soon as Joseph finishes it.
William Clayton, Brigham Young, Parley Pratt, and others, see the plates, hear Joseph speak about them, and record it in their diaries. BH Roberts includes five pages in his official history of the church about these bona fide plates that Joseph unfortunately doesn't get around to translating before his martyrdom. Moreover, some again wonder why the "sacred" gold plates couldn't be shown, but these "sacred" plates can be...
For 140 years, the Kinderhook Plates are regarded as genuine by the church (hence their inclusion in the official history of the church). Then, in 1980, Stanley P. Kimball, along with another LDS scientist, excitedly test one of the plates. Stung by the bitter disappointment of the Egyptian papyri fiasco, they eagerly await results that will prove to the world that Joseph Smith was everything he claimed to be. To their mortification, they find that it is in fact the fraud the perpetrators had claimed it was - the perpetrators the Mormons had always disbelieved, since Joseph had clearly pronounced the plates authentic. The plates had been made in the 1840's, just as the hoaxers had claimed; they had been artificially rusted with nitric acid, just as the hoaxers had claimed, and the etchings had been done with wax, just as the hoaxers had claimed, and in fact, the prophet was fooled, just as the hoaxers had claimed. They also claimed the characters had been copied off of a Chinese tea box, but of course, the box was long gone, so this has yet to be determined - but I'd put money on that. Hoaxers: four - Joseph: one large zero.
In true apologetic fashion, Stanley Kimball writes a truly sad article for the Ensign, which while acknowledging that the plates were a fraud, downplays the overwhelming evidence that the prophet was fooled, concluding that we "don't have enough evidence" to say one way or the other what the prophet thought of them. He writes off William Clayton's diary entry - a man reliable enough in every other particular for the church to base its official history on, and whose credibility had not been questioned by anyone until the test results were in - as a mysterious, inexplicable anomaly, intimating that Clayton might have imagined the prophet's remarks to him.
Joseph also produces the Doctrine and Covenants, which purport to quote Jesus Christ himself. In them, Jesus Christ refers to the Native Americans as Lamanites numerous times. 180 years later, people like TBM will claim that this is mere "speculation", and FARMS will announce that "this was never official church doctrine". Shouldn't really be surprising...
In the last few years of his life, Joseph copulates with many women (at least 33), far above the male average for promiscuity. Joseph privately teaches that he has been commanded to marry each of these women, although there is never any actual marital relationship with any of them except for occasional sexual intercourse when Emma is not around. One of his "wives" is 14 year old Sarah Kimball. Others, like Zina Huntington, are still married to and living with their husbands, at the time Joseph "marries" them. Emma Smith dies without ever knowing about most of them. Many of Joseph's marriage "proposals" consist of time deadlines for acceptance under threat of eternal damnation. Some include locking young women in rooms until they accept. Some people are inclined to wonder if Joseph was motivated by something other than devotion to a "commandment". Some think perhaps Joseph sincerely believed he had been inspired, but was simply mistaken.
Some wonder how the ancient Middle Eastern cultural custom of having more than one wife, which according to the Bible and every other document available, was never thought to be a religious law with redemptive properties by the Israelites as Joseph proclaimed, and was never a part of the Israelite religion as such, could really have been required for salvation. And yet, the original text of 132 makes clear that the plural marriage IS "the new and everlasting covenant", and is the earthly and celestial law of marriage. This section's blatant equating of plural marriage with the new and everlasting covenant of marriage is revised out of existence after the 1890 manifesto. Present Church President Hinckley has stated on the record that he thinks plural marriage is "not doctrinal".
In the last 18 months of his life, Joseph publicly portrays himself in speeches as a latter-day Mohammed, and announces in a newspaper interview that at the head of his own theocratic military dictatorship, he will vanquish North, South, and Central America. He has himself secretly anointed king. Hosea Stout, John D. Lee, Orrin Porter Rockwell, Bill Hickman, and others, all later testify that in Nauvoo they had sworn an oath to obey the prophet "whether right or wrong", and comprise a band of vigilantes under the prophet's direction. By their own accounts, some religious dissidents are bludgeoned, and several other church enemies are killed.
Some wonder if perhaps Joseph had begun to take leave of his senses; others speculate that, like a little boy who keeps getting what he wants each time he pushes, Joseph just kept on pushing.
After Joseph is martyred, Brigham Young assumes leadership of the church. Joseph's family all decline to recognize Brigham as leader. Some wonder, therefore, if perhaps a few of the Smiths were not as credulous as is supposed. Particularly suspect is his brother William, who once, in a dispute, threatened Joseph that he would "tell everyone where the gold plates came from".
In any case, by the end of the century, Brigham Young has included in the temple endowment ceremony the doctrine that Adam is God. He teaches it from the General Conference pulpit, publishes it publicly, teaches it in private, and threatens to drop Orson Pratt from the Quorum of the 12 because Orson can't believe it. Subsequent church leaders lie about this fact for 100 years, attributing the entire episode to an error-prone stenographer who once misquoted Brigham. Nevertheless, they continue to maintain that the Lord will not allow them to lead the church astray. Some wonder what else might constitute leading the church astray, other than teaching everyone to worship Adam, and even putting that into the temple ceremony; and since subsequent leaders said Adam was not God, some wonder who is right, and how it could be that neither Brigham nor his successors are "leading the church astray"?
Despite the literally dozens of prophecies to the contrary by the prophet and apostles, plural marriage is abandoned by the church.
Part Whatever (who cares anymore?)
The 20th century sees the rise of a serious Mormon apologetics, spear-headed by one Hugh Nibley, whose entire career consists of attempting to argue that "parallels" in some way necessarily imply some relationship, and even causal relationship. It is no surprise that none of his books are taken seriously by anyone other than starry-eyed Mormons, dazzled by Hugh's pedantry, and ecstatic that someone with a Ph.D. believes what they do. Taking their cue from Nibley, FARMS today continues the tradition of playing shell games in the name of scholarship - distorting evidence in order to attack it, replacing rational argument with ad hominem attacks, inventing ever loonier ad hoc spins on "church doctrine" to try to make it fit with the demands of physical reality, demanding that their "opponents" prove a negative, etc. Their big trump card appears to be, that no one has yet devised an experiment by which it can be proven with metaphysical certitude that Joseph Smith did not see God and Jesus. Until this happens, "no one has laid a glove on the church".
For example, despite no Native American having any trace of Israelite ancestry, this isn't disconfirming evidence, because this absence does not mathematically eliminate the theoretical possibility that some Native American, somewhere, might have some Israelite ancestry. Just because we haven't found any elephants or chariots or barley or inscriptions that say "Zarahemla", doesn't mean there weren't any. Just because there is no evidence that Joseph told anyone about his First Vision for fifteen years, doesn't mean he didn't. Just because there is NO RECORD OF A PALMYRA RELIGIOUS REVIVAL in 1820 - even though every other one in Palmyra and roundabout is recorded - doesn't mean there wasn't one, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
Some wonder if, taken in totality, the Mormon apologist might find the exponential multiplication of odds, in case after case after case, against the possibility of the church's foundational claims having any basis in physical reality daunting. The answer is...NO. The human mind appears to have been constructed in such a fashion, as to be capable of constructing the most absurd and fantastic models of reality in order to satisfy the human instincts toward fraternity, membership in an elite club, status, certainty on why we exist, etc. Besides, the Mormon has had a feeling. It is the same feeling that thousands felt listening to the inspiring, and fabricated, tales of Paul H. Dunn in the seventies. It's the same feeling that people feel at a tent meeting altar call, when they run down and confess Jesus. It is the same feeling that the Muslim gets praying to Allah. Virtually every human on the planet feels spiritually stirred at some times, particularly when they are contemplating their duties to God and their fellow man. Those feelings are absolutely real to each person feeling them. Some doubt that this is an objective experience, or a reliable way of ascertaining objective truth. One of them is someone named Gordon B. Hinckley.
In the 1980's, one of Pres. Hinckley's assignments was finding "controversial" (damaging) documents, acquiring them, and then burying them in the church archives. The reason? "Why confuse the issue, when it's the spirit that tells us that the church is true?" Gordon B. Hinckley, Spencer Kimball, the twelve, and the entire church history staff, all feel the Salamander Letter (plus the Joseph Smith letter that Hoffman forged before that one) is authentic.
Some note that Mormon logic continues to tell us that we should disregard physical evidence when trying to ascertain the authenticity of ancient documents, but then notice that Gordon B. Hinckley doesn't do that in the Salamander case. When the physical evidence about the fraudulent nature of the Salamander letter comes to light, HE REVISES HIS OPINION. Some wonder: Why wasn't the spirit alone good enough for Gordon B. Hinckley? Why should Gordon Hinckley acknowledge physical reality and change his opinions accordingly about the Salamander letter, but everyone else is supposed to ignore 15,000 slam dunk evidences that the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the JS Bible translation, can not possibly be what they claim?
By this line of reasoning, Gordon should have just closed his eyes after the bombs started going off and Hoffman confessed, and said, "I know, by the power of the spirit, the Salamander letter is authentic, and I don't care about all this other confusing stuff". Yet, he didn't.
Answer me, dammit. WHY NOT?
I've given my entire life to this church. I gave up grad school because the prophet said my wife shouldn't work outside the home, and I couldn't afford it otherwise. We now have seven children, far more than I can afford. I've paid thousands in tithing and offerings. I spent two years literally sleeping in huts and trees in the deserts of Argentina, drinking fetid water, riding my bike around in 130 degree heat, barely eating for days (I was in remote northern Argentina, near Bolivia). I've spent hours consoling my wife, full-time mother of seven, who's cried herself to sleep at night because she can't handle the pressure from her callings, and all the people phoning from church asking her to do yet another assignment. I've spent hundreds of hours in church callings away from my family over the last decade and a half. And for the last two years I pulled double duty, teaching Gospel Doctrine and serving as counselor in the bishopric. And all I want is an ANSWER. I don't want to hear the same freaking bullshit from the same freaking dweebs about doing something that not even Gordon B. Hinckley does.
I want an answer.
|Date:||Feb 06 22:07|
|I especially empathize with the last paragraph. I
also gave up school. yes, yes, we know we could go back if it were a
perfect world. But right now the answer is no. I want it all back! I
want what the church took from me. I was stupid. I believed them......I
was raised in an environment that did not encourage trusting. I was at a
very vulnerable state in my life and they played on that. I trusted in
them....Gosh I was stupid. But they must face culpability too. They knew
they were leading me down the rosy path. They were con men.
|Subject:||Its frustrating isn't it?!|
|Date:||Feb 06 22:23|
|Those who proclaim the truthfulness of the Church refuse to take the question of its truthfulness seriously.|
|Subject:||I love TBM Eavesdropper!|
|Date:||Feb 06 22:25|
|After 45 years as a Mormon and over two years as an
exmo, three years on this board, hundreds of hours of research, etc., I
have learned more in the last few weeks from these threads relating to
TBME's statements than all those other things combined. Thanks for the
great info in the feedback to him.
The threads about the first vision lead me to things I still hadn't realized through all these years. I started trying my damndest to find ANYTHING that corroborated JS's God-and-Jesus first vision story before 1842. You're right--there is nothing but the lame ass shot-in-the-dark attempts from apologists to try to spin a few of the Angel Moroni/Angel Nephi stories into the God/Jesus one.
I grew up believing Joseph had gone right home and told his family and some preacher about God and Jesus appearing to him and thus the poor martyr's persecution began. Fact is--he NEVER told that to ANYONE. He made it all up almost 20 years later to fit what had happened.
Now I find out that there are hundreds/thousands of quotes from prophets, including JS that definately state the American Indians are the Lamanites from the BOM and the corporation is keeping quiet about them and letting the apologists spin the limited geography theory??? WTF??? JS got all kinds of revelations about stupid things like which women to screw and what temperature of drinks to put in the body, but something as important as who the remnant of the House of Israel really is was just left to his opinion???? It didn't really come from God like the womanizing commandments did????
Keem em coming TBME, I love receiving these confirmations of "the spirit" that removing my name from the LDS church records was the right thing to do!
|Subject:||Re: I love TBM Eavesdropper!|
|Date:||Feb 07 10:42|
> Now I find out that there are hundreds/thousands of quotes from
prophets, including JS that definitely state the American Indians are
the Lamanites from the BOM and the corporation is keeping quiet about
them and letting the apologists spin the limited geography theory???
Forget what JS and the prophets said. They could have just been speaking as men. But you CAN trust what God says:
D&C 28: 8
And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them; and thou shalt have revelations, but write them not by way of commandment.
D&C 28: 9
And now, behold, I say unto you that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites.
D&C 28: 14
And thou shalt assist to settle all these things, according to the covenants of the church, before thou shalt take thy journey among the Lamanites.
D&C 30: 6
And be you afflicted in all his afflictions, ever lifting up your heart unto me in prayer and faith, for his and your deliverance; for I have given unto him power to build up my church among the Lamanites;
D&C 32: 2
And that which I have appointed unto him is that he shall go with my servants, Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer, Jun., into the wilderness among the Lamanites.
D&C 49: 24
But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose.
D&C 54: 8
And thus you shall take your journey into the regions westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.
According to God Lamanites lived near Missouri in JS's day. Now all you "limited Tehuantepec" theorists repent.
|Subject:||Re: My BIG, FAT response to TBM Eavesdropper|
|Date:||Feb 06 22:54|
|RB - I agree with everything you said. You did not
inflate the facts, but rather told them plain and simply as they are. I
can honestly say that there are some answers that address your pain and
anguish over what has happened to you and your family as a direct result
of a very wealthy and completely self-serving cult, although the answers
are sad and down-right evil-incarnate.
I won't condescend to tell you that I "feel your pain", but I was raised in that cult, dipped in it's callous lies since birth, suffered immensely for 2 years as well in ways that I am only beginning to understand, and feel that I have literally wasted most of my 33 years trying to sincerely follow something I thought represented goodness and a way to help others.
Shortly expressed, I was abused in virtually every way possible on my "mission", including physically, by a sociopath, narcissistic and conscousless Nazi-"mission president" for my entire 2 years. As a result, I have suffered unbelievable pain, and I mean physical pain, from post-traumatic stress, among other medical conditions, due directly to the abuse and trauma heaped upon me by the Mormon cult. I have undisputable evidence that their were actual Mo-Hiearical leaders at the highest levels who knew that I was being abused, yet did nothing to stop it, and may have even been involved in orchestrating it. Further, the "church" social services stepped in and, while I was in a fragile and even suicidal state, purposely used this condition to keep me from reporting what had happened. Guilt and eternal punishment were main thrusts of their arguments, as were threats that I keep all dealings with them secret. I could go on and on, but I think you get my drift here.
You are NOT alone in your pain caused Directly and unapologetically by the Mormon cult. I consider my 33 years of "life" to be a complete waste, and my chronic major depression and PTSD are diseases that have been partially caused, and certainly worsened, by direct actions of the cult. And I must face the sad fact that I may never get over what I have been through.
So one answer to your question could be this: You and I were duped, on purpose, by a secret-oriented Masonic-like cult that is only - I repeat -only- concerned about power and control, and as an ancillary, money. Further, they have no problem "sacrificing" many, many of their "own" people in order to keep, and indeed, try to further their control and power. This is the essence of cults - and this is exactly what we were drones of. Drones to be used in order to give a few control-hungry, narcissistic, and yes, even pathological geriatric men more feelings of power and control - and let's not forget-money.
Recent sociological research conducted by prominent professors (I can find out the exact sources) draw conclusions based on complex statistics from various sources, including the cult itself, that the overall wealth of this corporation stands at around $50 billion dollars. It has also been found by sociologists and reporters that this cult purposely does not publish where any of it's money is spent - namely because all but a measly 2% go toward actually helping people in any way with food, humanitarian aid, etc. (Again, I have the sources for this, but not in front of me). And this simply makes sense. The 15 "all-powerful" geriatrics want to make more and more money. And so here comes the concept of "missionary work", as more converts = more money. It is as simple and sick as that. (Remember how we were brainwashed as "missionaries" to teach, ad nauseaum, about tithing, tithing, and more tithing? And how a baptism could not even be performed unless the new brainwashee committed to pay a "full tithe". (How fucking sick and wrong - and obvious when the mind is FREE to think without fear of guilt, shame and eternal damnation/retribution).
I wish you well in your personal struggle with all of this shit, as I do all of those who have been damaged/sacrifice/crucified/duped by this CULT.
One final thought: I am beginning to see that true happiness and inner peace are the result of being able to freely think as a unique individual without undue guilt and shame, but rather, with pride and trust in one's own intuition and feelings. In essence, being true to oneself seems to me to be the key to happiness. And, unfortunately, this can only be accomplished by getting rid of the shackles of a cult that is absolutely against everything good mentioned above. So my quest will continue, and it is good to know that I am not alone in my search for all that is true to me..............
|Subject:||You aren't going to get an answer because . . .|
|Date:||Feb 06 23:23|
|there is no answer accept that it has all been a fraud. That's why TBM Eavesdropper and others like him will always skirt the issue and drop back into a punt position with "repent and pray about it and the spirit will tell you it is true." Their lives are ruled by fear. Fear of looking objectively at the facts. Fear of considering for one moment that maybe what they've been fed for so long was wrong. Afraid of what their choices would be IF they found out that they've been living a lie. How do I know? Because it took me 30 years to get past my fears.|
|Subject:||Re: You aren't going to get an answer because . . .|
|Date:||Feb 07 11:39|
|I agree with you, free2think. When I first mentioned
my questions with the lds faith to a friend who had lived the faith all
his life and was going with his wife on a senior mission, he seemingly
automatically stated that I should respect his faith and not talk about
my concerns anymore.
In nearly all the responses I get from members concerning my experiences and the veracity of the faith, I seem to sense a response borne of fearfulness. It's like the equivalent of covering the ears while someone is speaking, like the scene in Planet of the Apes (the original) when the three orangutan lawgivers cover their ears while Xera is confronting them with the evidence of humans being intelligent. It's astounding.
|Subject:||yes, that was a big fat response|
|Date:||Feb 07 02:42|
|I think you covered just about every attack possible
against the church. Most I have heard before. BTW, I put Moroni's
challenge to the test. I prayed to know if your post was true and got no
witness, so it must be false.
Seriously though, I am truly sorry you have had such a difficult road to travel. I too have had and am experiencing some difficult trials. I don't blame the church though, some are my own fault and others just bad luck I presume.
I hope you get your answers someday. Are your wife and kids tbm's still?
When were you in Argentina? Is it my imagination, or is there more than a fair share of missionaries from Argentina on this board? I was in Buenos Aires North from 77-79. Still drink yerba maté almost daily.
|Subject:||Do you care to share your opinion?|
|Date:||Feb 07 03:00|
So what's your take? If you feel so inclined, I'd be interested to know how do you reconcile the facts with the doctrines you evidently espouse? I don't ask because I intend to bash doctrine with you (I don't), but rather because I'm interested to know how at least one TBM (you) can continue believing in the face of so much evidence that controverts the LDS church.
By the way, I served in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
|Subject:||Yes, it was.|
|Date:||Feb 07 03:34|
|He spent a great deal of time and effort writing a
detailed post to you, taking you seriously, giving you a frank and
thorough response. Will you do him the same honor, or dismiss him with a
>i put Moroni's challenge to the test
You mean you tested Moroni's challenge as an impartial investigator to see if the test is what it claims to be?
In other words, have you tested the test?
Moroni's challenge says that if you pray you will get a feeling that confirms "the truth of these things" if I remember correctly. Have you challenged the premise that something is true merely because you get a feeling about it?
Where is the proof that your proof is actuallly *a proof* of anything, rather than...ego? Instability? Wishful thinking? A lie? Mental illness? A button in your belly that you've been programmed to push that does what it's been programmed to do when pushed and could easily be reprogrammed to do it for something else?
I'm not saying it's any of these things. But you know, where's the proof that it ISN'T any of these things? I mean, it's possible, isn't it? Just because I've said it is? Whoops, did I just use your argument? Sorry.
BTW, I'm not really speaking to you. I'm speaking to the readers here who are actually willing to challenge any so-called "truth" in order to find out if it's really true. Not lurking Mormons so much as lurkers who want truth more than anything; even more than ignoring or bending truth if it contradicts their current belief system.
|Subject:||Re: yes, that was a big fat response|
|Date:||Feb 07 11:13|
|>I think you covered just about every attack
possible against the church. Most I have heard before.
But sadly, you decline to address a single point. You also didn't address any points I made in your response to my post. Your refusal to address the issues is intellectually dishonest.
>BTW, i put Moroni's challenge to the test. i prayed to know if your post was true and got no witness, so it must be false.
As I wrote in my other post to you (which you also declined to intelligently address), adherents of other religions than Mormonism also cite an emotional experience akin to your "burning in the bosom." Whether they call it a "witness," or "The Lord has laid it on my heart," or "I was born again," or an "answer to prayer," they all rely on the same emotional experience that you do.
Since your "witness" is no different from those of adherents of other belief systems, then that is obviously not a reliable method of determining which religion is "true." Since that method is faulty, the rational and intelligent thing to do is to consider the actual facts of the religion's claims.
>Seriously though, I am truly sorry you have had such a difficult road to travel. I too have had and am experiencing some difficult trials. I don't blame the church though, some are my own fault and others just bad luck i presume.
Are you sure your problems are just bad luck, or could they be from (((((SSSAAATTTAANNN)))))?????
|Subject:||your big fat TBM response|
|Date:||Feb 07 12:26|
|In classic TBM style, you ignore historical facts
and recorded history and dismiss anything that challenges your viewpoint
as "anti-Mormon", "attacks on the church", "not
inspired", etc. Rather than address any of the issues raised by RB,
everything can be dismissed in an instant because RB is not painting an
adulatory view of the LDS Church. In other words, any work or research
that is not faith-promoting can be dismissed (the only facts worth
knowing are ones that are 100% faith-promoting).
Do you currently hold a valid Temple Recommend? If so, how do you reconcile lying during the interview (daily yerba mate is not consistent with the WoW, any inspired CES teacher can tell you that)?? Do you feel wily or clever that you've fooled your "inspired" bishopric member? Or do you answer honestly by saying "I do not consume coffee, alcohol, or black tea, but do consume yerba mate daily?" The direct question I'm asking, therefore, is whether do you answer TRUTHFULLY* by revealing the yerba mate in your interviews?
*since more than a few TBMs have to bend or conceal the truth during TR interviews, I would define "truthfully" as openly stating your yerba maté use, since the WoW is not perfectly clear on its use (it is "hot", after all).
|Subject:||you are wrong about yerba mate|
|Date:||Feb 07 14:24|
|Yerba mate is a healthy drink and is not against the
word of wisdom any more than carrot juice would be. here is a link:
Notice the page is from a BYU professor.
|Subject:||See, it's okay because a BYU professor said it. Had a...|
|Date:||Feb 07 14:40|
|...*Non-Mormon* professor written the exact same
website about the health benefits of Yerba and a BYU professor had said,
"Why that's sheer nonsense and it's a sin to drink it because I say
so!" our dear friend TBM wouldn't be drinking Yerba right now.
I remember how as a kid I used to think sexual urges were just evil until a *Mormon Bishop* told me it was okay to have those feelings and then I was so approving of it. So nice to have someone else make your decisions for you. Feels safer than having to be responsible for your own decisions.
|Subject:||The heck you say|
|Date:||Feb 07 19:52|
|Carrot juice doesn't have a toxicity profile like
But to quote a dead Swiss alchemist named Paracelsus, "Everything is toxic... the dose alone makes the poison."
I think nobody would argue about extending Paracelsus' assessment to TBMs...
|Subject:||You hit it out of the park|
|Date:||Feb 07 02:53|
|Wow Bro, excellent post.
What pains me is that your plain and precious descriptions of the facts will still fall on many deaf ears. As you know, I've recently related many of these facts to my TBM father-in-law and bishop, only to have them respond with the usual "spiritual confirmation" crap.
If your post illuminates anything about the Mormon belief system and facade of deceit, it is that Mormonism is more dangerous than we probably realize or give credit for. I am beginning to see that I can't just let my TBM kids get brainwashed anymore; I need to keep them away from the cesspool of "faith" known as Mormonism. It isn't as benign as I thought.
Now, let's hear from the TBMs! If their own leaders are too chickenshit to answer, then let them do it themselves!
|Subject:||That is the best...|
|Date:||Feb 07 03:17|
|faith-destroying testimony-breaker I have ever
You wrote with your head and your heart. You spelled it out in beautiful, eloquent, clear English. You didn't flinch from the sheer magnitude of summarizing the endless list of contradictory material and evidence, as well as mentioning your resources and showing the depth of your research on the LDS church.
I wish the people who would benefit most from reading this were reading it. The ones who are not afraid to let their testimonies be challenged, because they feel the best path to truth is examination and ultimately it isn't the church that matters to them; but *truth*. They think that research and evidence will prove the church true and they are willing to look hard at it. Those people (were you one of them?), I think, would read this post and be up all night, all month digesting what it means. They would look up everything you said, and research it on their own, and find out the same things you did.
But if they're being good little Mobots, they aren't coming to this site. They're probably emptying the trash at the local ward chapel instead.
GOD DAMN what a WASTE of human life!!!!!!!!!!!!!
|Subject:||I must be an idiot|
|Date:||Feb 07 10:02|
|I was just thinking...
I must be an idiot to still be surprised that TBM Eavesdropper could reply to me, and still not even pay one word of attention to the one fair question I asked at the end of my post - and just dismiss it like every other church member.
Your silence on this most vital question (and the silence of FARMS, who I emailed, Oaks, who I wrote to in all sincerity, of Monson, who I also wrote, of the institute teachers and directors, the stake presidents and patriarchs I asked, the thousands of dollars worth of church apologetic materials I've purchased, etc.), and the collective silence on all the other "problems", bears stronger testimony to the Truth, than anything else you or any church member could ever say.
What have I been a part of?
|Subject:||TBME needs to ask himself some questions|
|Date:||Feb 07 10:31|
|Trying to get TBME to convert to the 'dark' side is
like trying to get a Muslim terrorist to renounce his religion and
happily live as an American supporting GW in the USA. Every religion has
a 'testimony' type thing that keeps its followers faithful.
TBME should ask himself, if he were born and raised in China or India or Japan or Iraq or Ethiopia or France or Argentina or Alabama, what are the odds that he would grow up and then convert to the 'one and only true church on the face of the earth' if he was to hear the message from the LDS missionaries. And if he thinks his chances of converting, as being born as one of those people, is slim, then what are the reasons why.
|Subject:||RB, great post. One minor quibble.....|
|Date:||Feb 07 11:28|
|>The first "anti-Mormon" book, by a
man named Hurlbut, had been published a few years earlier.
Actually, "Mormonism Unvailed" was written and published by Eber D. Howe, an Ohio newspaper editor. His wife and children had joined the fledgling Mormonite faith, so Howe investigated the church's origins and claims, and published his findings.
Philastus Hurlbut was assigned by a committee of citizens in the Kirtland area to go to the Palmyra, NY area and interview Joseph Smith's 1820's neighbors and acquaintances to determine his character and credibility. Hurlbut obtained dozens of sworn affidavits to that end, and returned to Kirtland. Since Howe was already in the process of writing his book, he purchased Hurlbut's material for $50 and a promise of a share of the expected profits from book sales.
Hurlbut's affidavits actually comprise only about 12% of Howe's book. Most of MU is Howe's own research and comments, interviews with other people, copies of Ezra Booth's letters to the "Ohio Star," and so forth.
The reason I always point this out is because Mopologists try to discredit the entire book by attacking Hurlbut's character and credibility, claiming that he was an adulterer and had vowed to kill Joseph Smith. However, those accusations do not impeach the credibility of Hurlbut's testators, seeing as how they swore them before justices of the peace, they stood by their affidavits for decades, and their accounts are corroborated by numerous other sources independent of Hurlbut.
|Subject:||Re: My BIG, FAT response to TBM Eavesdropper|
|Date:||Feb 07 11:29|
|A fantastic post! I'm making a hard copy of this and will show it to my kids who are being brainwashed. A cogent, very readable, and also heartbreaking post. This should go in the permanent postings area of this site. Kudos to you for writing this!|
|Subject:||You are a writer's writer, RB|
|Date:||Feb 07 13:05|
|Of all the many articulate, thoughtful,
well-written, compelling posts I've read here over the years, your essay
stands out as exordinarily well-written.
I don't know what area of study you had intended to pursue when you gave up on grad school, but I hope, whatever you are doing, that you are also writing regularly.
|Date:||Feb 07 14:45|
|I am unable to provide answers to your concerns. It
would require a 200 page book and before i could finish it, you would
likely have another dozen issues to discuss. I am not an experienced
apologist, neither am I an expert on early church history. The Internet
is full of responses to most of the issues you brought up from people
more qualified than I am. But I'm sure you have read these and have
Somebody asked how I can be exposed to all the evidence against the church and remain a tbm. It is easy because I recognize most charges against the church are either total lies, statements taken out of context, or twisted to convey a meaning that was never intended. Granted, there are some problems that haven't been explained. But I am confident the time will come when new information will come forth giving us a greater understanding of these issues as well. such as DNA, Book of Abraham, Adam God etc.
I wonder myself how anybody could study the evidences below and still have doubts about the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith. You would have to be in complete denial.
|Subject:||Don't fool yourself....|
|Date:||Feb 07 15:31|
|tbm eavesdropper wrote:
> Somebody asked how I can be exposed to all the evidence against the church and remain a tbm. It is easy because I recognize most charges against the church are either total lies, statements taken out of context, or twisted to convey a meaning that was never intended.
No, that's not why you remain TBM. You already stated the real reason earlier:
> i prayed to know if your post was true and got no witness, so it must be false.
Anyone with a halfway decent grasp of logic can recognize that Mormonism is a load of hooey. Your problem is that you ignore all logic in favor of your subjective feelings. As long as that remains the case, the evidence, the arguments, indeed, the very truth itself will continue to elude you.
|Subject:||There's just no way...|
|Date:||Feb 07 16:14|
|TBME, you've proven that you're either a troll or
the blindest Mormon I've ever heard of. Once you're exposed to the
information you have been exposed to, you just can't shut your eyes
again and call it all lies or notions taken out of context. In these
last few threads dealing with RB's posts, we have peeled back all the
layers and come to some core concepts. We're at the epicenter. There is
no fence-sitting here. You're either lying to us (troll) or you're lying
to yourself (blind Mormon).
Regarding being a blind Mormon, it is my observation that almost all Mormons are blind to these issues because they have been warned and threatened against approaching objective information. They can't help it; the sources aren't available. But for those who see all the information and still can't see the forest for the trees, they are the ones I want to hide my children from.
If you really aren't trolling for kicks, then your link to Jeff Lindsay is even more troubling. Good luck with your NuSkin home business.
|Date:||Feb 07 18:21|
|....asks a bunch of questions on that page. My
opinion in a nutshell:
Throw up enough blind shots, and a few are bound to go in, or seem close (if you use your imagination and are superstitious enough). You need to look at Joseph Smith's record as a whole, taking an account all hits and misses. Mind you, I'm not conceding that the points Lindsay brings up are 'hits'. But if, for the sake of argument, I were to grant each of those questions as a 'hit', it would pale in comparison to the number inaccuracies and deceptions JS had throughout his career.
That Lindsay stuff is such a stretch, man, I can't believe you can't see it for what it is. Study up on the logical fallacies. Then use that Lindsay page to find some good examples of those fallacies. You'll find plenty.
|Date:||Feb 07 19:00|
|I think it is YOU who are in denial. As Zorak stated, you are counting the "hits" (if you can really call them that -- I wouldn't) and ignoring the *very* significant misses. Don't you think this is dishonest?|
|Subject:||Prophetic calling or "He did it for the nookie"?|
|Date:||Feb 07 19:38|
|I personally believe that his entire prophetic calling was about nothing but getting laid. You'd have to be in denial to NOT think this guy was a sex-crazed conman.|
|Subject:||If ever a post deserved being archived, that was it.|
|Date:||Feb 07 14:56|
|Very well done, RB. The silence in the response by
TBME is deafening. I feel sorry for him coming to a gun fight with an
empty water gun. This empty water gun is all Mormon apologists, and true
believers have left to defend their faith. It represents the blind faith
necessary to believe such things against such incontrovertible evidence.
It is faith that somehow, this empty water gun will magically transform
into an army, air force and navy and somehow redeem you from the
overwhelming odds you face.
How horrible it feels inside to be defending a position that you can't defend with logic and evidence. How fearful you must be when the foundation of your faith is based totally on the warm feelings you attribute to the spirit when those feelings also affirm the rightness of so many other dogmas, philosophies and religions that may be diametrically opposed to your faith.
Such a foundation cannot stand any stress. That is why church leadership does not want an honest inquiry or seeking of truth all the while boldly expounding that only we are right and have the fullness of God's truth and purpose.
TBME, let go of your fear and enjoy the light of reason and self-worth. If you aren't willing to let go, for your own well-being I would suggest you not read on this forum because I believe you are setting yourself up for enough cognitive dissonance to seriously hurt you psychologically.
And RB, thanks for your post.
|Subject:||WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is....|
|Date:||Feb 07 15:10|
|one of the best posts I have read in the past years
I have been participating on this board. RB,you have done a remarkable
thing for anyone who wants to know the real story behind Mormonism. My
hat is off to you.
|Subject:||Thanks for clarifying|
|Date:||Feb 07 15:29|
|Thanks for putting the whole puzzle together. The
pieces constantly buzz around in my mind, disconnected, and you have
done the work of joining them all together. GREAT POST, and the
responses are great too.
|Subject:||I want another round with TBM Eavesdropper|
|Date:||Feb 07 20:52|
|(This is another continuation of a thread)
Thanks everyone for the compliments on my other letter to TBM Eavesdropper. And thank you Deconstructor for the Hurlbut correction. I wrote it pretty much all at one go, so let me know if there is anything else.
I want to correct one misimpression:
I wasn't trying to change TBM's mind. If Jeff Lindsay-style material is as far as he wants to go or contemplate right now, then it’s up to him. TBM, my bulletin board friend, what you choose to believe doesn't have anything to do with me. If you believe what I have come to believe, it won't make me any more convinced that I'm on to something; nor will you disagreeing make me feel less sure. All I care about as a fellow human is that you are happy and at peace with what you have decided.
Another point, TBM: I nowhere asked in my post that you answer all the points I raised. The reality is that most of the factual assertions I made are no longer seriously disputable. Even pro-church historians (apparently unbeknownst to you and Brother Lindsay) will quietly acknowledge this.
So no, that wasn't the point of my post. All I'm asking for is an answer to one question:
Since Gordon B. Hinckley, without any question (and for very good reasons), does not regard his feelings as a reliable method of ascertaining reality, but rather, acknowledged what I like to call "facts" in the Hoffmann example I cited (and understandably revised his opinions accordingly), why should I?
Follow up question: Why should you?
Let me put this another way.
ALERT: Important point coming up.
The church claims that its foundational events occurred within the realm of physical reality; that is, that the first vision/Moroni visitation/gold plates/priesthood restoration/Book of Mormon, etc., are not “metaphors” or “allegories” or “dreams”, but that the events LITERALLY happened. That claim then NECESSARILY puts the question of whether they occurred or not in the same category as whether George Washington was the first president of the United States, or whether the Allies won World War II, or whether Jonas Salk developed a polio vaccine.
This wouldn’t be a problem, except that, increasingly, every normally reliable indicator of physical reality the human race uses to verify such claims - diary entries, DNA evidence, sermons, letters, genealogical records, archaeological evidence, linguistic evidence, autobiographies, quorum meeting notes, newspaper interviews, church publications, etc. - all combine, to call out in deafening chorus that these claims have no basis within the parameters of physical reality.
The church’s response is simple: Continue to impose on members the religious obligation to believe that Joseph Smith (entirely out of character as a convicted con man), did not fabricate any of his claims, and tell members they are also under religious obligation to mentally exempt Joseph’s claims from the standards of evaluation applied to every single other event that has ever transpired in the entire course of human history. Moreover, despite the infinite demonstrations, throughout the last 6000 years of history, of the unfailing unreliability of “feelings” to determine historical events, and the fact that virtually every human has had profound spiritual experiences, continue to insist that members already “know” everything they need to know about Joseph because they “felt”.
Some people on this planet claim to feel a kind of cosmic certainty that the Holocaust never happened. Shirley Maclaine has a spiritual certainty that she has been reincarnated. Palestinians feel a spiritual certainty that Israel belongs to them, and Israelis feel the same spiritual conviction it belongs to them. Jim Jones’s followers felt such a spiritual certainty about his prophetic powers, that they killed themselves. Gordon B. Hinckley felt the spirit tell him for the first 89 years of his life, that the Book of Mormon was a history of the principal ancestors of the Native Americans, but last year, sent a letter to stake presidents and bishops advising members to stop referring to natives as “Lamanites”, and posted a link to FARMS articles on lds.org explaining that in fact the BoM is NOT a history of the principal ancestors of the Native Americans. This kind of speaks for itself about using “feelings” to determine historical facts. What more would I need to say, when Gordon B. Hinckley’s actions say it all?
If "feelings" aren't trustworthy enough for a man sustained as a prophet, seer, and revelator, shouldn’t that tell you something? That’s a simple yes or no.
Another point: I am totally sincere when I praise you for sticking up for what you believe; but you have said exactly the same thing that I've heard like four dozen times, which is, "Well, I don't understand a lot of these things, but there are really smart people out there who do who have written books about this stuff, and they get it. The fact that they still have a testimony means there’s not really a problem". Is that what it comes down to - "the guy above me says there is no problem, and he's smarter than me, and I probably wouldn't even get it if I investigated, so that's good enough for me, case closed?"
TBM, being smart, having degrees, having a high IQ, doesn’t mean you cease being human. It does not immunize you against the human’s natural attraction to ideology, whether religious, political, economic, social, etc. If it did, Martin Heidegger wouldn’t have joined the Nazi party, and you wouldn’t still find Marxist economics professors at your local university. Smart people still want certainty; they still have prejudices; they still want to belong to a club; they still unconsciously downplay evidence that disconfirms a conclusion they have already arrived at; they can still stare reality in the face, and deny it exists. Sometimes the truth is too painful for us, and our instinct aversion to emotional pain kicks in, and blinds us.
And yet, there is still such a thing as a fact: the Nazis were sui generis genocidal maniacs, Marxism is always a failure, regardless of how anyone, however intelligent, “feels” about it.
I've read all those faith-promoting books you allude to, TBM, and been to all the websites. I know them inside out. I know all the critical responses to them, and I know all the church responses to those responses, and the responses back. And for much of my adult life, I was able to perform the mental gymnastics required to sustain belief in the pro-church arguments. Why? Because I had formed a prior conclusion that I was under religious obligation from the Creator of the universe to do so. Thus, I forced my mind to accept non sequitirs as perfectly valid syllogisms. I forced my mind to not acknowledge what demanded to be acknowledged. I trained my mind to look at a virtual impossibility, and then exaggerate it into a slim possibility; it then became a definite possibility, then a probability, and finally, became a certainty. Not that I’m unique - any searching member of the church who wants to understand the gospel more completely does the same thing. What is insidious about it, though, is that one is not fully conscious of this process, even as it is occurring.
I went to BYU and studied religion with guys that write those books. I took a full-time semester of institute at Utah State (and then attended regularly for several years after), and became very personally close to a number of the biggest names in CES: Ken Godfrey, Danel Bachman, Reed Durham, Rhett James, etc. I spent hours in their offices and classes talking over church history, gospel doctrines, etc. I now know that despite my sincerity and the fact that I was on the ultra orthodox, bomb-throwing wing, of the church, which they all knew, they often did not level with me.
As I'm thinking about it, (I know this is going to sound crazy) I actually think I've read through, and own, literally, almost every pro-church book of any significance ever printed. Nibley, FARMS reports (I'm a member), Sorenson, Joseph Fielding Smith, all the McConkie stuff, all the biographies of the prophets and apostles, the Talmage stuff, Widstoe, David O. McKay, old priesthood manuals, new stuff by the modern apostles, the Gospel Link thing, research articles, BYU devotional addresses, even the embarrassing books like "Mormonism and the Negro" (lol), all the ET Benson books, everything - because I was a flaming, Jedediah Grant Mormon...Any reference that anyone in church makes to any comment by some apostle or prophet, I can usually finish the quote and explain where it can be found. I'm the only guy you'll ever talk to who's read through all the volumes of the Journal of Discourses (my mom has the entire set)!
I'm the only guy you will ever talk to who used to scour DI's in Utah, looking for old Ensign magazines, clipping out articles and then collating them (this was before the GospelLink thing came out). I feel foolish even admitting to this.
I'm also the only guy you'll talk to who, in all sincerity, giving the church every benefit of the doubt since I believed so strongly, has communicated with members of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, and the Quorum of the Seventy, about doctrinal/historical issues. I did all of that to try to understand the gospel more accurately, and be more righteous.
I am perfectly aware that many professional enemies of the church are idiots, and that their arguments are laughable. Ed Decker, professional liar, is probably the most prominent of these types, though there are dozens more. I know, as you do, that many criticisms of the church have been based on misimpressions, distortions of doctrines, scare tactics, etc.
I am also perfectly aware that many professional defenders of the church are, if not idiots (some are), not leveling with you or me. In fact, they are under specific (and public) religious obligation to not level with you.
It's not a secret that this is the case. All you have to do is read the Oaks, Packer, etc., talks to the CES guys (my buddies!), or their instructions on the writing of history (short version: "stop acknowledging facts").
Serious question: Does someone who you know is under religious and professional obligation to withhold authentic, reliable, factual evidence that disconfirms church claims, instead of acknowledging it honestly on its own terms and then explaining why it might or might not be valid, and who in fact has been caught doing just that numerous times (Hugh Nibley and his imitators), really merit your trust? If you think so, then I think you give yourself way less credit than you ought to.
You are a human being. You're obviously sincere. I'm not saying no good comes from the church. It does, though whether that good is the exclusive property of the church is a question for another day. I’m just saying, I do not believe you deserve to be lied to, whether those lies are of omission or comission, by anyone, especially by a church that demands so much from members. It is not right that the church withholds information from you, that would explode the very basis on which it makes its demands on you, and instead just keeps telling you “you already know” because you felt something that every other human being on the whole planet has felt.
But maybe this doesn’t make sense to you, because you have not encountered proof that the church does this. If not, I understand your skepticism. I’m only saying this now, because I encountered it myself - not from anti-Mormon material, but from church materials themselves. That really hurt.
I want to finish with one more evidence that we’ve been had for suckers. As if the Hoffman example wasn’t enough…
If Gordon Hinckley really believed that "feeling" is a genuinely objective means of enabling everyone with sincerity and faith to distinguish Truth from Error, why won't he open up the historical archives? Think about that for a second. You wouldn’t answer the one question I wanted answered in my first post. Try to answer this one.
It can't be because the documents are "fragile", because they won't even allow the microfilmed copies out. It can't be because they're "too sacred", since it's hard to imagine anything more supposedly sacred than the stories of the First Vision, restoration of the priesthood, etc. It can’t be because the enemies of the church will “distort” the material, for if the material were available to all, those distortions would very quickly be seen for what they were.
Hint: The few documents that have been smuggled out, like Joseph’s Egyptian Grammar, have been fairly devastating to the church’s claims about itself.
Hint: Pres. Hinckley knows for a fact that “the Spirit” told Mormons around the world for 170 years, including every apostle and president of the church, including himself up until four years ago, that the Book of Mormon records the history of, quote, “the principal ancestors of the Native Indians”, unquote (Introduction to the Book of Mormon. By the way, please keep your current edition of the scriptures when the new one comes out, since this inconvenient statement will, like so many others in the past, be revised out of existence…).
Hint: Pres. Hinckley knows that everyone “felt the Spirit” testifying of the truthfulness of Paul H. Dunn’s story about holding his wounded, dying WWII friend Private Brown, who was actually still alive and living in the Midwest at the time. He also knows that “the spirit”, for some strange reason, also confirmed to everyone that Paul H. Dunn had in fact played baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Hint: Pres. Hinckley knows that “feeling-wise”, he felt great about inviting Mark Hoffman (forger, pathological liar, scam artist, closet atheist then planning his serial murders) into his office, felt great about buying documents off him, felt great about the Joseph Smith and Martin Harris letters he acquired from him (both forgeries), and felt great about letting Mark Hoffman (apparently) examine the most “sensitive” documents in the First Presidency vault.
Hint: Pres. Hinckley knows that FACTS ultimately showed him that his “feelings” had in fact NOT been a reliable, objective indicator of reality, and revised his opinion accordingly.
Do you really need more hints to answer the archives question?
The fact that the church is having it both ways right before your very eyes (and you don't see it) really ought to tell you something, both about them and about yourself (pardon my directness). In one sentence, they tell you that physical reality doesn't matter, only the warm feelings do - and then, they fall all over themselves in reaction to physical reality, even going so far as CHANGING DOCTRINE so as to accommodate the completely devastating evidence (that isn't even supposed to count!), jawdroppingly arguing it was never "doctrine" that Natives were Lamanite descendants; AND, they try to hide from you every other bit of disconfirming evidence they possibly can! WHICH IS IT? Right before our eyes, the entire church hierarchy and apologetic corps are in full-tilt damage control/crisis management mode right now IN RESPONSE to evidence, which in the next sentence they tell YOU to ignore! It’s almost hilarious.
|Subject:||Thanks for taking the time to write this out|
|Date:||Feb 07 21:46|
|"Right before our eyes, the entire church
hierarchy and apologetic corps is in full-tilt damage control/crisis
management mode right now IN RESPONSE to evidence, which in the next
sentence they tell YOU to ignore! It’s almost hilarious."
This is so true! Don't look while we spin spin spin. If you must look, here is why you shouldn't believe it. Oh, and follow the 'spirit'.
|Subject:||I hate to interrupt|
|Date:||Feb 07 22:05|
|But there was one reference you made that I hadn't heard anything about: "last year, [Hinckley] sent a letter to stake presidents and bishops advising members to stop referring to natives as 'Lamanites'". Do you have any references or more information about (or best yet, a copy of) this letter?|
|Subject:||Re: I hate to interrupt, either....|
|Date:||Feb 08 05:06|
He most-likely wouldn't have a copy unless he were a bishop or stake president!?!!
|Subject:||That . . .|
|Date:||Feb 07 22:19|
|Is one of the most powerful anti-testimonies I've
ever read. I don't know about Eavesdropper, but you certainly convinced
me . . .
Sadly, if you do reach him, it may take a number of years. Sometimes the brighter they are, the more complex and convoluted their defenses . . .
As for myself, I'll probably stick to my needles and firecrackers while expressing my admiration for the spear-and-dynamite throwers . . .
It takes less energy, and . . .
What the heck, if the Mormons are right, between us Benson and I should be able to keep everyone laughing in Outer Darkness . . .
|Subject:||Another excellent post, RB!!!|
|Date:||Feb 08 00:06|
|Author:||Lost no more|
|Thank you for posts to TBME. They are definitely
worth printing, archiving, or saving in some format.
One of the hardest things in my life was losing my faith last year and admitting this to my wife of 26 years and my elderly parents, all TBM. It was difficult to come out to my bishop at tithing settlement and subsequently to our hp group leader with whom I served for years on the high council and most recently in the hp group leadership.
What amazes me is that all of the above-named people seem to think I'll return to the fold. They all think that I've been deceived by evil men, but they are the ones in bed with the biggest con of all: JS jr.
I made the mistake of attending a F&T meeting last week at my wife's request. She got up and bore her testimony and she hadn't done that during most of our marriage. Then my HPGL, my buddy, called this week to say he loves me and misses me; that I should take all the time I need to work things out.
At least I'm over the initial pain of discovering the mormon sham and coming out with my disbelief to my wife, children, and parents, but how long will this stage last? I mean, will well-intentioned family members and former associates hound me for the rest of my life? Not if I can help it!!!
In any case, your posts are well-written: poignant and to-the-point. I find them very helpful in summarizing and clarifying the historical and doctrinal issues that church members and non-members alike should know about Mormonism.
Recently my mom sent me a book written by Gilbert W. Scharffs, "The Truth about the God Makers." At that point, I realized that she has no idea what specific issues I have with the church and the overwhelming body of evidence against the origins of mormonism. My mom has lumped me in with her own sister and BIL who left the church nearly twenty years ago when they learned the damning truth about JS and the restoration.
Through all of this, I have come to the conclusion that living in the now is the key to life. I try to keep this in mind as I fulfill my various "roles" as husband, father, grandfather, and educator. At least I can scratch TBM off the list with all that implies; it was a major stressor in my life and who needs that in middle age?
Lost no more