Date: May 15, 2013 04:26AM
> The "edges" of the deconstructive practice used
> are the various ways the terms'God', 'revelation',
> and 'faith' are used by Mormons (and/or by the
> Mormon Church) in making statements of fact, or
> assertions of Truth (or a certain knowledge of
> What else, I wonder, could be the source of
> confusion here, given what was painstakingly
> presented and demonstrated in the Foundational
> Preface, Ch. 1, and Chs. 3-6, and recapitulated in
> Ch. 8?
The source of confusion lies not within the application of
such methodology to Mormons and similar believing people
(the FLDS, for example), but in the proposed extension to
theists and theism as whole, and beyond those bounds, to
religionists as a whole. I did not know how far you intended
to reach, with potentially successful deconstruction. At
one point, I surmised that Confucianism would lie outside
those limits. That is just one example.
> The theoretical underpinnings of the practice
> presented, advocated and demonstrated are set
> forth in the FP and Ch. 1, together with relevant
> and extensive notes (which you earlier admitted to
> having not read) and references.
I did not read the notes in full, though I did speed read
them and recollect enough of the jist of the material to
find my way back to some of the presentation. Without
endnotes and an index, I still read and re-read, from page
to page, attempting to re-locate paragraphs that only
lightly stick in my memory.
Yes, there are "theoretical underpinnings" but when the
methodology is presumably extended to all theists, or to
religionists in general, I do not comprehend how the
success of that application can be initially viewed in
any terms other than theoretical -- until tested.
> The numerous examples provided in the book,
> including the lengthy "Instructive Deconstructive
> Conversation" presented as an example and a
> suggested exercise for Mormon readers to apply to
> themselves provide, I think, a good sense of the
> practice in action.
Yes, that is a good start, but the examples involve
accepting your reporting at face value, without objective
confirmation from external authorities. I can only try
to apply any particular "exercise" designed for Mormons
to myself with limited relevance -- so that part has
not been so useful.
> To see it in real time action you might want to
> construct your own conversation with an objective
> outsider from another world who has engaged you in
> a conversation about your own personal religious
> or theistic beliefs or experiences, if you have
As I have mentioned by beliefs are few and most of them
subject to change with new information. For example, I
have changed my belief regarding the age of the earth
several times in the past, and if the geologic consensus
is adjusted in the future, I'll probably be compelled
to once again alter the precise content of that belief.
But you do bring up a very good suggestion in regard to
my "religious beliefs," which would mean re-examining how
I look at comparative religion. For example, I might go
back and re-read Campbell's writings, or even Herman
Melville's Mardi, which is a fictional exploration in
comparative religion set right here in my own back yard.
So, thank you for that suggestion.
I generally hesitate to attach the word "experience" to
theism -- it tends to overlap far too easily with what
people call "spiritual experience." And I'm not at all
imaginative at how I might begin to construct a conversation
with an extraterrestrial regarding transcendental realization.
There is no self to reference and no experience to relate.
It would have to be something other than conversation.
> This is what I did in writing the
> Conversation in the book. I played both parts. By
> doing so, as suggested in Ch. 1, you too would
> play both parts to experience the process
> firsthand for yourself, as I did. Then, if you
> would like further assessment you could provide
> your own "Instructive Deconstructive Conversation"
> to me, and I will be glad to review it and take it
> to another level if need be. Hopefully that will
> give you "something interesting to report."
Yes, I skipped over all of that too quickly. I did not
stop to consider how it might be applicable to comparative
religion and realization other than spiritual experience.
That is a very good suggestion, and one that I will pursue.
> But again, Dale, and forgive the surfacing once
> more my Freudian hermeneutic of suspicion (a royal
> pain and annoyance to those who want their stated
> motives to be accepted as stated), I'm really not
> sure what you're looking for here beyond
> experience with the process of analysis being
> presented and used in the book.
Successful application. How is all of this applied to
a Mormon relative or friend who will never read the book,
but who is susceptible to self-examination, at least on
a small scale at an elementary level? That would be one
example. I'm sure you are familiar with the old tension
between the RLDS and LDS when it comes to attempts at
successful application of methods designed to change
Mormon thinking. That is my heritage. I am not ruled
by that dynamic, but it was my starting point more than
three decades ago, as a missionary in Utah.
> You say you'll "settle for reading testimonies
> from those who have gone through the process and
> have something interesting to report," but
> "settle" to what end exactly, and why the need to
> "settle" at all? Is there something here that is
> "unsettling" to you about this process of
> deconstruction? If so, what is it exactly, and why
> not share it directly?
"Settle" just means wait patiently, without many future
complaints. If your method is widely applicable, then
this forum is a good place to sit back and see what
happens. De-conversion (slow and rapid) is a daily
phenomenon, and participants looking for ways to "free"
their friends and relatives are as common as sand on a beach.
> You say you'll settle for "something interesting
> to report," but what exactly would count for or
> against something being "interesting" to report?
A better life, for one thing? Doesn't have to be better
by any external standards I might try to impose, but a
testimony from one real person who describes life after
deconstruction, in terms of high recommendation and in
terms of personal liberation/evolution/peak experience.
> Are you looking for a test of some sort to
> convince you that the process actually works? Then
> what specifically would count for or against the
> nature and adequacy of such a test, and why the
> need for a "test" at all?
Why test any scientific or presumed logical discovery?
If you work is eventually going to find its place in
the professional peer-reviewed scientific literature, it
will be examined, re-created, tested, etc., no matter
what you and I converse about here. Perhaps I'm wrong
to anticipate that future development; but perhaps not.
> If you're wondering if
> submitting every believer's faith to such a
> process will result in deconversion or an
> abondonment of their faith, the answer to that
> question should be obvious, for a variety of
> psychological factors independent of the process
> itself. Moreover, that is not the purpose of
> engaging in this process, as I allude to in the
Once again you are mixing faith and belief in ways that
slow down my reflection terribly. I would never want to
see an infant's faith in his loving mother destroyed;
nor would I anticipate any viable crusade to destroy
the false beliefs of people across the board. I thought
I touched upon that when I spoke of limits, but perhaps
not. No -- I'm content to begin with Mormonism, and
with the small sub-population of Mormons who are actually
willing to submit beliefs to examination.
> No claims are being made about the process that
> require independent testing. Its theoretical
> underpinnings are plain for those who carefully
> read the book, or reread it as might be required,
> and the utility and efficasy of the process can, I
> think, be sufficiently convincing through
> self-engagement using the OTF. Moreover, the
> premises justifying its use are plainly presented
> and argued for in Ch.1 and its relevant footnotes.
> If that's not sufficient, your curiosity would, I
> should think, naturally take you to the references
> and further study.
OK -- But you do realize that your methodology will be
picked up and applied by persons you do not know and
have no control over. Once you published your discovery
you relinquished ownership, no matter any copyright. It
will evolve and spread in various and sundry ways.
> But I'm not so sure you're merely looking for more
> You seem to be looking for evidence. But again,
> evidence to what end exactly? And what would
> constitute "evidence" for the use of such a
> Socratic process?
No. I think you are giving me too much credit. My thoughts
do not run that deep, nor are they that concentrated. I am
curious, but I do not need evidence for any particular
purpose, beyond satisfying some of that curiosity. The
future will no doubt present far more evidence than I can
easily examine. I'm patient. A month or a year or ten
years are all about the same to me nowadays.
> If you're looking for rebuttals
> to Nielsen's Atheistic approach, you can find them
> in his own works, as well as mine on pp. 58-60.
Thank you for that suggestion. When time permits I'll
look into it. I have a nearby page open right now, so
the material is close at hand.
> There are no air tight, irrefutable arguments that
> can "prove" your or others religio-spiritual or
> theistic beliefs to be wrong or false. But that's
> not we're looking for here, is it? But you know
> that already. So what are you looking for exactly?
Consensus, perhaps. Looking to see what something like
the vocal majority of RfM will say -- looking to see how
close or how far afield my own reactions match with that.
> I have no problem with referring to religion as a
> language-game within a particular life-form (or
> community of like-minded people using language in
> a way that parallels how they live their lives.
I'm not sure how "language game" fits into the study of
comparative religion. I've only had a few classes in that
discipline, and the literature has probably advanced far
beyond what my profs were presenting thirty years ago.
But even back then, a group like Greenpeace or Save the
Whales was included in the comparisons -- as outliers,
yes, but as peripherally religious; while a group like
the Unitarian-Universalists were placed near the apex
of religion, in terms of post-Enlightenment evolution.
No doubt "religion" can be generalized and stereotyped
to conform to the concept of beliefs inside of a single
person's head. But I have a very, very difficult time
in adopting that view as a replacement.
> Still, I would argue that
> religion-as-belief-and-practice within that
> community extends to each individual living and
> practicing the religion as taught and lived.
> I don't see religion as being unhinged from
> belief, as Eller suggests, and I address in
> footnote 75, p. 101. (Those damn footnotes again,
> Dale.) ;) Nor is religion or belief unhinged from
Nor from community, I'd add.
> See note 46, p. 15 and note 74, p. 96-8. ;)
OK -- and I'll add that to my growing penciled-in index.
> I truly welcome your participation Dale, as I do
> everyones's. My concern is, again, in taking the
> conversation off topic, which, as I understand it,
> is the designated section or chapter of the book.
I apologize for that. This initial experimental thread
is probably coming to near the end of its life and in
future threads I can try to follow your lead. I have
started one thread of my own here, but the topic is so
esoteric that I do not anticipate much discussion.
> If you can make a cogent case of relevancy of your
> comments or questions to the Chapter being
> discussed (where such comments or questions are at
> least not obviously relevant and might seem
> irrelevant, then by all meansgo for it.
Maybe that will happen in the future. If you see me doing
well on that score, just insert a small smiley face.
> I just frankly didn't and don't see the relevancy of some
> of your apparent diversions, and think they take
> us off topic. I might be wrong, and will certainly
> defer to the group, but I am interested in
> participating to answer questions and listen and
> respond to reactions about the book with those who
> have carefully read it, including the substantive
> footnotes. I am personally not interested in
> straying off topic, at least not in this dedicated
As you gain more experience at RfM, you'll make useful
adjustments in how you shepherd a thread. Don't presume
that the initial chaos has to always remain that way.
Much of the burden will fall upon your shoulders, and
it is probably unfair to thrust you into a leadership
position -- but I'm sure you are familiar with callings.
They are not always announced by the Bishop from the podium.
> I think there are numerous opportunities to ask
> questions and provide insights and reactions that
> will foster a greater understanding and
> appreciation for the book, as well provide
> different perspectives that might enhance or even
> modify or bring into question what has been
> Maybe your excursion into the creation of a Venn
> diagram or the meaning of religion pertained to
> the subject matter included in the Introduction,
> but I could not see the connection.
Just looking for limits again. My cat does the same
thing when I turn her loose outside the garden fence.
In the end she always seems to figure out what ground
is worth defending and when she has strayed too far.
And thank you for taking the time to communicate. In a
way, it is a validation -- of something or another --
like when I stumbled upon the Nauvoo Expositor URL in
your book, linking back to one of my web-sites. A happy