|Subject:||RPM's "New Approach to the Book of Mormon"|
|Date:||Jan 24 13:40 2003|
|This is in response to RFM's original
post asking us to answer some question regarding our experiences with the Book of
If I understand right, you're asking us to embrace the truth that the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction and then look at what value the book still has.
The problem I have with that is that it completely contradicts the whole purpose of the Book of Mormon. The book, its author and the church that peddles it all say the book is of value because it tells the truth about ancient people. The whole purpose of the Book of Mormon today as in the past has been to establish the divine authority of Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
When you accept the book as not what it claims to be, it loses its value entirely. That would be different if the book and the church sold it as fiction. In fact, if Joseph Smith had written it with the intent to be fiction, it would have value. But the main thrust of the work is that it tells the truth about history, God and the universe.
When those claims fall, what are we left with? To demonstrate, I'll answer your questions based on a solid acceptance that the work is fiction:
1)How did/do you experience the BoM, originally and now?
As a teenager, I read the book believing it was written by ancient native americans. I felt compelled to accept the outlandish claims of the book because I accepted it at face value, including the teachings that sex was the worst sin second only to murder.
In the MTC I re-read the book and realized that chapters of 3 Nephi are plagarized from the Bible. For about 10 seconds I panicked, but quickly pushed the doubts out of my mind.
During my mission I carried the book with me every day. I handed out literally thousands of them. I ate, drank and slept the book of Mormon for two years. Reading it never gave me comfort except the part about Alma complaining about how bad the people treated him on his mission. I also saw missionaries beat themselves up over Ether 12 because it told them God gave them weaknesses to make them humble.
The ethics found in the book of Mormon have always troubled me. The stories didn't seem fair. For example, even as a child it bothered me that God told Nephi to decapitate a defenseless sleeping drunk and Nephi obeyed.
During my mission I highlghted all of the verses in dark brown that I thought promoted unethical behavior or attitudes. Then in further readings I would skip over those verses so I could find the book palatable.
Today, there are even more verses I would mark brown and knowing what I now know about Joseph Smith, the whole book smacks of his character and mentality.
2)What meaning did/do you add to the BoM, then and now?
Originally I gave the book meaning in my life by thinking it was what it claimed to be, and was indeed the truth about an ancient people and the work of God. I felt a sense of pride for knowing the "Other Testament of Jesus Christ" but that pride was pure vanity.
Now the book has meaning as a symbol of what's wrong with the Mormon Church. The book is a fraud just like the church that uses it as a symbol of their divine authority. Once you've seen the man behind the curtain, the Wizard of Oz and his tricks lose their potency.
3)What kind of a reader of the BoM were you? are you now?
I wasn't always a critical reader of the Book of Mormon. I used to just accept it at face value, therefore I was playing into the whole purpose behind the book - believing in the church behind the book. Now I scrutinize every word in the book and see right through the lies to Joseph Smith's personality and his 19th-century mentality.
4)What interpretations did/do you make of the BoM? What significance did/do these interpretations have?
I've posted before some of my interpretations of the Book of Mormon. There are parts that justify religious terrorism akin to Osama Bin Laden. There are parts that promote self-hate. There are parts that promote racism, bigotry and male chauvanism. There are parts that paint Jesus Christ as a sadistic tyrant, defating the whole point of the New Testament. And yes, there are parts that are just plain stupid and juvenile.
These interpretations are very important to me. They led to me leaving the church and keeping the book away from my children.
5)What did/does the BoM do to your mind?
It used to be one of the things that kept me in the cult. Now, the book reminds me of how screwed up the church is and how weak a foundation the whole thing is resting on. It also explains to me why so many who believe the book are self-righteous and ignorant to others.
The book is harmless if you don't take it seriously. But in the hands of believers, it can lead to all kinds of harm.
Well, there you have it. I found your questions offensive because they implied we should still find value in the Book of Mormon after we know it's a lie and have left the church that promotes that lie. But I answered your questions sincerely.
Now please explain why Ex-Mormons should find value in the Book of Mormon. To me, that's like asking recovered alchoholics to expound on the virtues of alcohlism, or the victim of rape to expound on the pleasures of sexual violence.
|Subject:||Well, Decon, you take my breath away as always.|
|Date:||Jan 24 13:48|
|I admire the way that you can look at a situation and see it so
clearly without letting too much emotion cloud the matter. This is something about your
writing that really penetrates for me.
Your contributions here are valuable. On a personal level, even more so.
|Subject:||Exmos and the BoM|
|Date:||Jan 24 13:58|
|Thanks for opening this thread, Decon. I was in the middle of my
reply when rpm's thread was closed. So here's what I was saying in reply to rpm's BoM
rpm, I find your posts thought-provoking and it's been interesting to read all the things you've been thinking about over the past 6 months or so. I think it's admirable that you are so open about some of your thoughts and that you enjoy frank discussion here. I'm amazed that, given what's in your head, you are still able to regularly attend church without screaming at its stifling environment. At least, that's how I found it - that you're not free to ask questions, not free to have original thoughts. And all that unexpressed thought can give you a really bad headache!
I like to think I have an open mind and I try to understand other people's viewpoints. As we've mentioned in the past, some of your struggles I can relate to from somewhat similar personal experience. I try to avoid clashing with people just because of their beliefs, especially you as I see you working through a bunch of stuff. Regarding some of your recent comments about the BoM and exmos, we definitely disagree though. I guess you're not surprised that most people here will disagree with you about that! But rpm, it's not a disagreement based on a knee-jerk-reflex-exmo-response to anything "Mormon", as you even seem to say yourself. It's most often based on personal experience with the church and careful thought regarding one's beliefs, assumptions and knowledge, as well as an analysis of alternative views. To say otherwise is to fail to understand where posters here are coming from.
> Who and what else are you trying to convince with your endless criticisms and fault-finding with the Book of Mormon?
Perhaps some of the discussion here comes across this way to a new observer. Given that new participants come here every day and that people have similar questions about the church and the BoM, it should be expected that it will be a topic of discussion on a fairly frequent basis. Also, many exmos have not previously had the chance to discuss these topics with other exmos, so they too want to talk about it and understandably so. I think calling it "endless criticism" is putting a very negative spin on it and fails to take into consideration that it could be new posters wanting to talk about it for the first time or various long-time board posters who enjoy discussing specific details of the book's contents (see the threads on steel yesterday for an example of this). Between times, many other topics are discussed, so that it isn't the same people "endlessly" talking about it. And given the significance the book had in people's lives at one time and its pivotal place in the Mormon church, it's an obvious focus.
> Of the many criticisms I have read concerning the Book of Mormon, they all are basically the same: aimed at attacking the text's many faults, its incredible claims of origin, its creators, and the organization it spawned. For what purpose? IMO, to debunk, mock, belittle, cuss, scare, expose, without relent, the text AND its readers and believers and publishers. I think those purposes are untoward and largely unproductive.
I think the use of the word 'attacking' is also unnecessarily negative. Discussing it is not attacking it. Even having strong feelings about its claims and the church's teachings about it does not constitute an attack. You've concluded that the purpose for the "attack" is to mock and belittle "without relent" and then you say these purposes are untoward. I disagree with you about people's reasons for discussing the BoM but whatever their reason, I think it can come across as very dismissive and belittling of thinking people to impute negative motives to them, when no-one can accurately assess another's motives, especially not here in cyberspace.
> Genuine candor, kindness and empathy are timeless and proven methods of helping persons overcome error.
On this we agree. But it works both ways. A person may have done exhaustive research to come to their conclusion that the BoM does not stand up to scrutiny. Yet, merely for their opinion/conclusion, their intelligence, purpose and integrity can be called into question. This would more likely prompt a heated reaction than a kind effort to assist their accuser.
> Putting aside its marvelous claims of origin, its inconsistencies with established facts, those claims and aspects now exposed and debunked, let's see what possible value we can glean from this intriguing work of fiction.
You may find this a fascinating and worthwhile endeavour. Don't be surprised if many here do not. This does not indicate anything about their intelligence or their motives. It just means they have concluded that for them there is no value in this book. Period.
> Given that it is an imaginative and truly American work, borrowing on concepts presented in the Holy Bible, ancient and 19th century Christian concerns, 19th century culture, plus a few other obscure sources, what different form of criticism will yield positive results and value?
Again, it would be somewhat surprising to find that someone who has been disillusioned, disappointed, distressed, hurt, maybe even ex'd would want to make any effort to find value in the very object of their pain. If you want to do so I wish you well (and you remind me of me, always trying to find something positive in just about everything), but don't be surprised if other people don't react this way and that doesn't indicate anything negative about them! In fact, removing oneself from the source of one's negative experiences is often the wisest choice!
> To ask these questions here in this forum is probably asinine. But I have observed here in this forum what appears to be genuine interest and scholarly debate and intelligent presentations of positions regarding the Book of Mormon. So I have a little faith in the possibilities here.
I agree with you here, rpm, but funny, these remarks don't seem that consistent with your opening comments. I continue to be amazed at people's depth of knowledge about the BoM and church doctrine (that is far greater than what I achieved in my few years as a convert), their interest in understanding the subject matter and their abilities to examine, discuss and explain it.
> (I must stop here and interject how foolish this effort seems to me on this forum. This is probably the wrong crowd to bring this up in. I hardly expect anyone here to actually attempt to read the BoM with any other motive than to find fault or ridicule.
I'm surprised you have this opinion, rpm. Please understand that people here did not originally read the BoM with fault-finding in mind. In fact, you will often see posters sadly stating that they wanted to believe, they tried to believe, they wish they could go back to believing but they cannot go against their own rational conclusions based on their personal research. Often their only research has been in church publications and they still must come to the conclusion that the BoM is not what it claims to be or what church leaders uphold it to be. Read more here and see how many sincere and truly believing people used to be members of the church but had to leave because of their realizations about the problems with the church's history, doctrine and scripture.
>I am probably the only soul on this planet with a desire to glean value from a literary work of fraud, equally famous as it infamous, at the same time holding the heretical views and opinions of it as I do.
Likely you're not, rpm, if that makes you feel any better. But you must see how surprising it can seem to people that you yourself call the book a fraud, yet you want to find value in it. A work of fiction is not a fraud and one can find much inspiring literature in this world. But a work of fiction that is upheld as historical fact, with a divine source, must be what it claims to be or it cannot escape being labeled as fraud. You must see how people would reasonably choose not to spend time trying to extract goodness from fraud.
I must wholeheartedly agree with Deconstructor's words that expecting exmos to look for value in the church or the BoM is asking people to embrace the very source of much of their pain and distress. For the sake of their own recovery, they wisely refrain from doing so.
...that's like asking recovered alchoholics to expound on the virtues of alcohlism, or the victim of rape to expound on the pleasures of sexual violence.
|Subject:||Let's flip this around.|
|Date:||Jan 24 15:10|
|If endless criticism and fault-finding is beating a dead horse and
not progressing anywhere, then isn't endless proselyting and expounding the truthfulness
of the BoM the same thing? Oh, I get it. It's ok to continually try to convince people the
BoM is true, but not ok to likewise show people what a bunch of bullplop it is.
I wish the church would take on that attitude:
"Hey, is the BoM really true and is the LDS church really true?"
"We're sorry, that's already been discussed and you missed it."
|Subject:||Here's the value I see in the BoM.|
|Date:||Jan 24 14:57|
|Excellent post, by the way. I love your anologies to
alcohol/alcoholism and rape/sexual violence.
The value I see in the BoM is that it is documented proof of the absurdity of Mormonism and it's very foundation. They keep making changes, but the BoM will forever stand as a testiment to the falsity of Joseph Smith, his religion, and the book itself. Just as a book that claims the earth is flat shows the lack of knowledge and intelligence of it's writer, so does the BoM show the lack of knowledge and intelligence of it's writer, it's believers, and the religion it represents.
And to back the BoM up in it's absurdity, they have the D&C, and PofGP. These books are products of the 1800's and with each passing year they become more ridiculous. These books should live on as testiments to the fact that you can get people to believe anything. That's got to have some value.
|Date:||Jan 24 15:32|
|Rather than interact directly with Decon's excellent post, or
address rpm's earlier post in point-by-point fashion myself (I am by no means as
articulate in that manner of discourse as Decon is), I want to make the following, more
general (read "fairly random"), observations:
Some have suggested that rpm may be Ray A in disguise. Having conversed/tangled with both of them fairly extensively here, it is my strong opinion that rpm and Ray A are not the same person. (I have noticed a couple of very specific ways in which their on-line behavior consistently differs, but I see little need to list them here.)
However, I do believe that rpm, like Ray A, is emotionally invested in the BofM, and is attempting to construct a new interpretation of the BofM for himself, where something in which he has found great value in the past is not a total "write-off" now. Of course, rpm may correct me on this; in any event, though others may not feel the same need to rescue some value from the BofM, that does not make rpm's desire to do so any less sincere.
From one standpoint, I can definitely see (but not agree with) rpm's point about beating the dead horse. The majority of people on RfM is already convinced that the BofM is entirely a work of fiction; from a certain standpoint, we seem to be engaged in the continual re-convincing of ourselves and each other on this point. It is easy to see how some observers might claim that we "protest too much".
However, this misses (at least) two important points:
In neither of these two instances (there are certainly more that I am missing) are we
"beating a dead horse," in my opinion.
|Subject:||I agree with Nick|
|Date:||Jan 24 16:20|
|I didn't discover this site until March of last year. It helped me quickly reach the conclusion that my lifetime of accumulating doubts had been slowly crawling towards. If you, Deconstructor and others had stopped "beating the horse" of Mormonism a few years ago, I might still be trapped! After years and years of primary, YW, seminary, institute, sunday school, etc. of being taught and teaching nonsense, it's taking me awhile to go back and re-examine everything in the light. The temple, Joseph Smith and the BofM are the Mormon trinity, and a thinking exmo is going to want to spend some quality time trying to figure them out.|
|Subject:||Regarding BoM: Please Remember . . .|
|Date:||Jan 24 22:46|
|The book is represented as a "translation" of text
supposedly written by early inhabitant of the Americas. I think Decon makes excellent
points and I'm tending to agree with his arguments on this issue.
I loved reading Lord of the Rings years ago. I loved the imagery, the background history, and the complexity and climax of the story. But it would be offensive for someone to tell people that they should believe it as absolute truth and even worse to use it to manipulate and oppress others.
|Subject:||A quick reply|
|Date:||Jan 25 08:33|
|Author:||RPM [currently a believing Mormon]|
|which I will follow up later as I assimilate the many thought
provoking, and excellent responses.
I appreciate each response and the person behind them.
This, obviously, is an attempt for me to come to grips with my dwindling belief in something once held extremely valuable. I'm searching for meaning and value. I didn't intend to imply that others need find anything particularly inspiring or beneficial in the BoM, I was merely looking for sincere responses to an alternative critical approach to the BoM as literature, using the reader-response mode.
That the book is a fraud perhaps precludes even this premise. There may be no rational mode of criticism other than to expose the fraud, and be done with it. I'm finding this response to be rather frustrating. I'm going to sit on this for a spell.
Value, itself, can be positive or negative. I was looking for value based assessments of the BoM from you, and received that, in most of the posts.
I thank you all.
Below is the original thread that started the above discussion.
|Subject:||You're all beating dead horses. Enough already, please. (A new approach to the BoM)|
|Date:||Jan 24 10:17|
|Author:||rpm [a still believing Mormon]|
|Who and what else are you trying to convince with your endless
criticisms and fault-finding with the Book of Mormon?
You are correct. You win! We believe! Enough said already. It is all painfully obvious now. It's moot.
We admit The Book of Mormon is fiction, mostly created from the mind of Joseph Smith, plus a view borrowings here and there. He got away with his clever deception for a period of time, and that period is over. It's now the 21st century. A brave new world confronts us.
Of the many criticisms I have read concerning the Book of Mormon, they all are basically the same: aimed at attacking the text's many faults, its incredible claims of origin, its creators, and the organization it spawned. For what purpose? IMO, to debunk, mock, belittle, cuss, scare, expose, without relent, the text AND its readers and believers and publishers. I think those purposes are untoward and largely unproductive.
Genuine candor, kindness and empathy are timeless and proven methods of helping persons overcome error.
SO, men (and women) and brethren, what shall we do?
I submit that we alter our course. Let's approach the Book of Mormon from another, wholly different, perspective.
Putting aside its marvelous claims of origin, its inconsistencies with established facts, those claims and aspects now exposed and debunked, let's see what possible value we can glean from this intriguing work of fiction.
Given that it is an imaginative and truly American work, borrowing on concepts presented in the Holy Bible, ancient and 19th century Christian concerns, 19th century culture, plus a few other obscure sources, what different form of criticism will yield positive results and value?
Let's consider the average reader's response to the text. Reader-response criticism is a recent development in the history of literary criticism, originating in the 1970s or thereabouts. In short:
"reader-response criticism is focused on finding meaning in the act of reading itself and examines the ways individual readers or communities of readers experience texts. These critics raise theoretical questions regarding how the reader joins with the author "to help the text mean." They determine what kind of reader or what community of readers the work implies and helps to create. They also may examine the significance of the series of interpretations the reader undergoes in the reading process....reader-response critics focus on what texts do; but instead of regarding texts as self-contained entities, reader-response criticism...asks: what do texts do in the minds of the readers?"--Michael Delahoyde
1)So, how are readers of the Book of Mormon experiencing the text?
2)How are the readers of the BoM adding meaning to the text?
3)What kind of reader does the text imply, and create?
4)What is the significance of the reader's interpretations to the text, and what are those interpretations?
5)and finally, what is the BoM doing in the minds of the readers?
To ask these questions here in this forum is probably asinine. But I have observed here in this forum what appears to be genuine interest and scholarly debate and intelligent presentations of positions regarding the Book of Mormon. So I have a little faith in the possibilities here.
Let's begin with a few specific questions (Note: I'm assuming you have read it once, or will read it. Your answers can reflect either or both before and/or after membership):
1)How did/do you experience the BoM, originally and now?
2)What meaning did/do you add to the BoM, then and now?
3)What kind of a reader of the BoM were you? are you now?
4)What interpretations did/do you make of the BoM? What significance did/do these interpretations have?
5)What did/does the BoM do to your mind?
(I must stop here and interject how foolish this effort seems to me on this forum. This is probably the wrong crowd to bring this up in. I hardly expect anyone here to actually attempt to read the BoM with any other motive than to find fault or ridicule. I know you all have better things to do with your time. Forgive my foolishness, and my faithless expectations if it turns out I am mistaken. I am probably the only soul on this planet with a desire to glean value from a literary work of fraud, equally famous as it infamous, at the same time holding the heretical views and opinions of it as I do. My efforts to a new critical approach to the Book of Mormon seem to me to be, not only pretentious, on my part, but in all likelihood: fruitless. However, it is a unique step toward recovery, and as such, I feel it is topical here and worth at least an attempt of expression.)
|Subject:||but you see,|
|Date:||Jan 24 10:26|
|there are always new people coming here to learn things. just
because you've heard the various criticisms of the text in the BoM before and appear to be
fed up to the back teeth with them, there are others who will be startled at the
by all means, other ways of attacking the problems are entirely valid. but to cut off the particular line which jars with you doesn't make entire sense.
definitely worth attempting other expressions also tho, so go ahead.
but it would be nice if you could do so without trying to offend board participants when you do so:
"To ask these questions here in this forum is probably asinine".
"I must stop here and interject how foolish this effort seems to me on this forum. This is probably the wrong crowd to bring this up in. I hardly expect anyone here to actually attempt to read the BoM with any other motive than to find fault or ridicule. I know you all have better things to do with your time. Forgive my foolishness, and my faithless expectations if it turns out I am mistaken. I am probably the only soul on this planet with a desire to glean value from a literary work of fraud, equally famous as it infamous, at the same time holding the heretical views and opinions of it as I do. My efforts to a new critical approach to the Book of Mormon seem to me to be, not only pretentious, on my part, but in all likelihood: fruitless. However, it is a unique step toward recovery, and as such, I feel it is topical here and worth at least an attempt of expression".
please try to understand that there are many here who tried with everything they had to read the BoM without criticism. who tried the test. who tried not to question and to have faith.
often the results were broken hearts at the realisation that they had invested in a fraud for most of or part of their lives.
and the results of their discoveries were loss of friends and family in many, many cases.
try not to be such a harsh judge of people and understand they do have grievances.
|Subject:||But all your claims of the "marvelous" BoM are made by a false prophet|
|Date:||Jan 24 10:35|
|If he lied about one thing, then more than likely because of greed, power and sex, he lied about it all. That's pretty important to me, a lowly woman. Lies and deceit. No integrity and I'm supposed to hold it sacred? You are laughable.|
|Date:||Jan 24 10:37|
|It is alway interesting to hear findings proving the BoM false, sometimes it is new news to some of us. I also know there are many tbm's reading through here occasionally and it may pique their interest enough to look a little deeper. For a lot of ex-mo's it all started here.|
|Subject:||I also find it interesting when someone comes up with another obvious reason that is EASY for TBM's to understand...|
|Date:||Jan 24 10:46|
|Many of us appreciate insightful ways on simple ways to convince
someone the Book of Mormon is false without having to sound like apologists in the
process. Explaining why the BOM is false is already hard enough for TBM's to follow when
we have to do it in terms of why something did not exist and could never have existed to
someone without a background in logic.
"Look, sis, the Book says they walked from point A to point B in three days, yet they're 160 miles apart. You know that's impossible, you at least have to give us credit for not having blind faith in THAT!"
Or more bold (and only if the person won't be offended for criticizing their belief): You know the book of mormon is true, and you also know people can't walk 160 miles in three days. Yet the book clearly says that's what happened. Shouldn't it be obvious that the book is a tale?
|Subject:||I read the BoM with as open a mind as there could be|
|Date:||Jan 24 10:47|
|The first time I read the BoM I was in my twenties. I had no
preconceptions and was interested in seeing why a friend had joined. I am from a part of
the country which has not much to do with mormomism so I had feww preconceptions. I found
it NOT to be inspirational, and I was surely expecting it to be. I had and have great
respect for this friend, so I was reading in a positive frame of mind. I am also a great
reader and have found great insights in Thoreau and Emerson and Whitman and Steinbeck etc
etc etc...I found no great insights in the BoM that were not from the Bible.(teachings of
The second time was before I knew all from this board, and the third was after learning a lot here. It was difficult to wade through it all times. I find the writing uninspired in all ways.
|Subject:||And further as a nevermo I stand all amazed|
|Date:||Jan 24 10:56|
|....that anyone could read the Doctrine and Covenants and not simply see a man trying to exercise control over others. How they could be fooled into believing those kind of 'revelations' is beyond my range of comprehension.|
|Subject:||The trouble is, there is not much that is original...|
|Date:||Jan 24 10:50|
|The few genuinely deep theological/philosophical teachings in the
BoM tend to just be ripped from the Bible.
For example, Benjamin's teaching that "If we serve our fellow man, we are only in the service of God".
Compare that to: "In as much as you have done it unto the least of these, my bretheren, ye have done it unto me."
Exactly the same thought, just switched around a bit to sound original.
All the same, I do think the BoM has its interesting parts, mostly concerning the many wars and political intrigue. When they start preaching, I just doze off. (Don't believe me? Try reading 2nd Nephi in one sitting).
|Subject:||BOM - New Standard Translation (a new approach)|
|Date:||Jan 24 10:52|
|See, you have this all wrong. I think that in order to spur interest
in reading the BOM, we need a new translation using modern language. Since we know that it
is complete fiction the message would come accross much more clearly in the form of a
romance novel. Mormons today just aren't interested in history (even pseudo-history). Look
at what they're doing with pioneer heritage and modern church history. People have short
attention spans today. The church needs to cater to the demands of their audience. As a
business, they should understand the need to focus on market demand.
Any creative types want to take a stab at "translating" some dramatized chapters of the BOM? The spicier, the better. Maybe we should attack this project like those high-school writing projects where each class member writes a paragraph and passes the story on to the next person so you have a fragmented, disjoint story in the end. Feel free to skip the massive quotes from Isaiah. This has a lot of potential! Thanks for the inspiration, rpm-troll.
|Subject:||Book of Mormon is a Fraud so lets talk about how inspirational it is|
|Date:||Jan 24 10:55|
You may have come to see the problems with saying the BoM is true and literal history of the Native Americans. There may even be a couple of like minds in my own ward. But the Mormon Church is still using this as the basis for Joseph Smith being a "True Prophet" and founding the one and only "True Church." They still teach this to the children. They still corrupt them into saying that they "know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that the BoM is the word of God."
And then they tie them to the church through the "temple covenants" to believing that God will only preserve their family unit through all eternity if they covenant all their time, talents, and money to the Mormon Church.
In my case, the Church then stepped in as a party in our divorce to see to it that I would never, ever, see my children again. They did this through LDS Social Services giving testimony to the Mormon Judge assigned.
Now tell me, just how beneficial would you say Mormonism is in my life?
Please, go to the Pro-Mormon boards and see how many of them want to talk with you on your premise that, while the Book of Mormon is a Fraud, we should look at how inspirational it is and what a good thing Mormoninsm is...
|Subject:||they know there is no real proof, all they ever really say is that reading it will bless|
|Date:||Jan 24 11:02|
|your life, they have no other real claim...that't it. And the questions you pose are similar to what are used in the lesson manuals. They do all that except admit the fiction/fraud part and they won't do that. They won't do that with the Bible either. This is a corporation masquerading as a religion and all they need or want is money with your faith.|
|Subject:||So are you saying that...|
|Date:||Jan 24 11:00|
|people could read the Book of Mormon just as one would read CS Lewis
Or even maybe Lloyd Alexander or the Wrinkle in Time woman's work?
If so, that is hard to do because all of those works were written as fiction. Most of them use characters which we've never met in reality--hobbits, or creatures with large ears and fur that speak--or, in the case of "Wrinkle in Time" there is space and time travel that isn't a reality yet in our world.
The Book of MOrmon was presented as reality. As a true history. So, that makes it very different from the above works.
You might think it could be valuable because of its literary merit. But, most of the literary passages are ones taken from (or revealed to JS) the Bible. So they don't stand on their own.
Are you saying that the "emotional impact" of the book of mormon is worth studying. That might be true. But you could just as well study some books of well-written short stories, or for that matter the Readers' Digest.
If the book of mormon isn't read for its believability, I don't see much of a purpose to it. There are other better things to read.
|Subject:||Brilliant idea--some people have already started doing this kind of approach ...|
|Date:||Jan 24 11:02|
|see the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol 4, no. 2, for an article on narrative criticism and the BoM. Remarkably, this article suggests what you're suggesting, and, most surprising, it was published by FARMS.|
|Subject:||You obviously have never experienced "fallen arches".|
|Date:||Jan 24 11:03|
|I absolutely cannot see how you can say that the BOM is fraudulent,
yet, in light of all that the Morg claims it to be, encourage others to read it for the
good that is in it. How often have we heard that the BOM is the "keystone" to
the Mormon church and its entire belief system. Well, for me, when that keystone was
finally seen for what it is, a fraud, the "beautiful" archway it supported also
came crumbling down.
If you could experience just a portion of the pain, anger, family problems, guilt, social ostracism, etc., etc., etc., most of us on this board have experienced as we have gone down the pathway of discovering that the whole church is a sham, maybe you would be somewhat more reserved in your call to re-read the book for the good that is in it.
I do not mind reading a good fictional novel, as long as that novel does not require its readers to give public testimony that they "know" that it is "true" and, in the process of making that statement, thereby obligate themselves to engage in rituals and behaviors, many of which are secretive, racist, elitist and exclusive.
Church leaders have said it over and over. "If the BOM is a fraud....the entire church is a fraud."
So, now, whenever I even think of picking up a BOM to research some point, the only feeling I get is one of sadness and sickness.
And that ends my rant for the day. Best Wishes!!
|Subject:||RPM, I very much agree with your kinder, gentler approach to dealing with differences of opinion.|
|Date:||Jan 24 11:24|
|But for me, and I suspect most of us, the reason I sometimes rip on
the facts of the BofM is because with an all-LDS family (both sides) and neighborhood, the
claims of the BofM are often thrown in my face as if they are self-evident truths. One I
often hear is "How could Joseph possibly have known all these things??? He was so
uneducated!" or "Horse bones dating from BofM times HAVE been found in a cave on
the Yucatan Peninsula!" The first one was leveled at me from a TBM friend. The second
came from my dad.
Their comments are absurd and sometimes funny but I find that if I say nothing, out of respect, then it encourages them to make even more absurd statements. So, in general, I agree with your approach and would prefer it, but too often a "soft" answer is interpreted as weakness on my part.
|Subject:||The reason I find problems and make fun of it is to erase lingering doubts...|
|Date:||Jan 24 11:30|
|Yes, I freely admit, that I occassionally have a nagging fear in the back of my mind (I am VERY well programmed), I find problems in it to remind myself not to be afraid. I make fun of things I used to take DEADLY seriously as a way to take the power out of it. For me, at least, this serves a useful purpose.|
|Date:||Jan 24 11:49|
|I was going to answer your 5 questions point by point, but my
responses overlap. So it's all one answer.
I grew up hearing BoM stories long before I could/would read them. So they were part of my nurturing and culture. I learned them like I learned language -- you don't question it, you just take it in.
It would be a while before I finally forced myself to read the actual book. I was a lazy reader in general. I thought reading was an inefficient way to transmit information. So, at first, I got bogged down in the language of the BoM. It was a task because I didn't feel I was learning anything new. I had been taught so well.
Eventually reading it turned into studying and pondering. Some parts seemed meaningful, some parts helped me understand things better or helped me connect some dots. The rest I filed away in the "Irrelevant" folder. I had yet to think, "Well, this is utter crap." I still believed the church at this point and was just trying to make things fit.
This phase of my relationship with the BoM is so long ago that I can't remember what meanings or interpretations I might have brought to the experience. I think I was simply trying to fit everything under the umbrella of what I had been and was being taught. I think I was still looking for others to supply meaning.
But my rejection of Mormonism really had nothing to do with the BoM. I rejected the church first, because I was terribly unhappy. After that, the entire BoM became irrelevant. Then it became laughable.
Now I see the BoM (on its own) as a fairly harmless book. Take away the preposterousness of its historical narrative and its supposed origins, and the rest isn't too far from conventional Christianity. Mormonism, as a culture, practice and institution, isn't really based on the BoM anyway. It's really based on Joseph Smith, the D&C, PoGP and policy pronouncements. That's where all the crazy-making stuff resides.
What does the BoM do to my mind now? It makes me sad that people believe it and get sucked into the machinery of Mormonism. The BoM is like a gateway drug. Maybe that's why when I was a missionary they claimed the BoM was "The Key to Conversion." If you could buy into the idea that JS brought forth the book by divine command and that God reestablished prophets and all that (see, we're talking about the JS story, not the content of the BoM) and if you could read a bit of the BoM and not laugh (thus reaffirming the validity of JS), then you'd swallow all the rest. So I guess in that way the BoM is less what you read and more how you respond to it.
|Subject:||Re: You're all beating dead horses. Enough already, please. (A new approach to the BoM)|
|Date:||Jan 24 11:59|
|Literary criticism is great and we could look at the BOM from any
number of schools including the one you describe, but the thing is:
There are so many more valuable and sincere works to spend time with. The BOM is a novelty I guess and possibly more interesting than "Dianetics" or "Science and Health", but as a work of fiction I like Mark Twain's assesment: "pure chloroform"
|Subject:||One small problem with your approach.|
|Date:||Jan 24 12:12|
|It is considered heresy by the Church, and you might find yourself in a disciplinary proceeding were you to teach it. BTW, if you find RfM an inappropriate place for your discussion (and I'm not saying that it is), you might want to check out the New Order Mormons' board. The historicity of the BOM and alternative ways to read it have come up quite a bit there recently, actually.|
|Subject:||Agreed - real Ex-Mos an NOMs approach the BoM differently|
|Date:||Jan 24 13:11|
|I think that's good advice, Dumpster. The BoM means something
different to New Order Mormons than it does to real Ex-Mormons.
After you come out of the closet, step up to the plate and leave the church, the BoM is one of those unhealthy things you leave behind. In fact, I don't think you've truly Recovered from Mormonism until you accept the BoM has no moral authority or true spiritual value.
But New Order Mormons are different. They want to stay active in the church, for whatever reason. They're trying to find reasons and strength to stay in that unhealthy environment. I can understand why they would find value in picking through the trash of the Book of Mormon to try and find scraps of value. There are a couple of verses that one could cling to as uplifting.
RFM and his questions do sound like they are coming from a still active Mormon, or someone like Ray A, who can't move on and find a the mountain of spiritual and personal enlightenment outside of Mormonism.
There are so many good books and inspiring ideas beyond Mormonism, I don't know why someone would care about the value of the Book of Mormon. But then again, I'm speaking as an Ex-Mormon.
|Subject:||Study of religious texts|
|Date:||Jan 24 12:13|
|I found your post well written and fasinating. I just finished
reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It is the first book that I have ever
read that when I finished I wanted to start over and read it again. The next day I found a
book called The Guide Book to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance By Ronald L.
Disanto, Ph.D. and Thomas J. Steele, S.J., Ph.D. They have spent years studying ZMM and
wrote their book with the permision of Robert Persig. In the section of the book where
they are talking about Buddhism they give a brief history and then state:
As you read the traditional account of Siddhartha Gautama's (Buddha) life, you may come to the conclusion that while it contains a core of historical fact, it is richly and unabashedly embellished with fable and fantasy. I don't think it is a mistake to look at the account in that way, as long as we don't jump to the further conclusion that all the truth worth seeking in the account is to be found only in the "facts" purified of all fable and fantasy. If we understand that the account is meant to open the reader to spiritual truth in addition to historical truth, we may find it worthwhile to attend as much to the embellishments as to the core. pg. 63
If you approach the story of Siddhartha with a hunger for "facts", you will probably still be hungry after hearing it. You will glean from the story that Siddhartha was married, that he had a son, and that he left home when he was about twenty-five; but you are unlikely to find the story of the Four Sights credible. How could a young man in his mid-twenties, a married father, have no knowledge of old age, sickness, and death? Impossible! You know it, I know it, every intelligent and mature person know it, and, surely, the original storyteller knew it too. However, it's quite possible for the original and every intelligent and mature hearer to find food for thought where credible "facts" are missing. Consider the difference between knowing factually the people grow old, get sick and die and knowing existentially that you and persons you cherish are subject to old age, sickness, and death. In the case of factual knowing, your knowledge might well be integrated, in an abstract manner, with all sorts of other factual knowledge, such as knowledge about rocks and trees and bees. In the case of existential knowing, that sort of abstract integration would be beside the point. What you have got hold of is a new awareness that calls for a new way of appropriating what you already know and a new way of living your life! The knowledge-the gut experience-has gotten hold of you. It has placed you at a crossroads and there is no turning back to life as hitherto lived. pg65
I think this is the way I will look at any religious text.
|Subject:||Well then. Let's look at the good of this post.|
|Date:||Jan 24 13:17|
|I love what this post has brought out in other's replys. This is the good in RPM's post. And the only good in the BoM as far as critical thinkers are concerned are the observations of it's content and the exposure of what it really is. I need add nothing further to what has already been expressed by the previous posters.|