General Conference Discussion

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MisterCurie
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Re: General Conference Discussion

Post by MisterCurie » 07 Oct 2009, 05:21

Ray Degraw wrote:Peaceandjoy, I would read Elder Holland's talk slowly - focusing carefully on parsing exactly what he said and, most importantly, to whom he said it. Frankly, you weren't his target audience. It's really, really easy to feel attacked when some of the statements are isolated, but the overall talk was addressed to those who 1) don't even try to understand the BofM on a spiritual level but dismiss and attack it anyway and 2) those who intentionally twist its words to attack Joseph and a fraud.

This is one talk that comes actoss VERY differently when it is read and parsed carefully than when many people initially listened, since it's hard when listening to remember what he said along the way when a particularly blunt statement is heard. MANY people think he was talking to them when he just wasn't.
I simply have to disagree with you here. Word choice is a very small part of communication and you are much more likely to misinterpret the message when you divorce it from the other elements of communication in the initial delivery. You are much more likely to arrive at the truly intended message of the sermon if you take into account all the aspects of communication (tone of voice, emotion, volume, body language, etc.). Rather than attempt to intellectually twist Elder Holland's words to mean something other than what he meant, I prefer to remember that I am in the mormon cafeteria and I refuse to partake of an extra helping of apostolic guilt. This talk was carefully written, correlated, and practiced, down to how he would hold Hyrum's BoM. Many people were bothered by this talk and it would be poor delivery indeed if everyone misinterpreted his intended message. This was a stage 3 talk telling people with doubts to get back in line with the church's stage 3 teachings just because an apostle and the church say so. I absolutely believe this talk was meant for me and others like me with sincere doubts. However, I don't have doubts because I want to sin or escape the teachings of the church, I wish nothing more than that the church was everything it said it was. My doubts are evidence of my sincere desire to understand God's light and I refuse to be guilted back into line by a logically flawed appeal to emotion. I understand the intention of Elder Holland's message, I just refuse to believe the message is from God.

That being said, I think you can find all sorts of greater goods and existential meanings in Elder Holland's message, but Elder Holland didn't intend for them to be there.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: General Conference Discussion

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 Oct 2009, 08:37

Rather than attempt to intellectually twist Elder Holland's words to mean something other than what he meant
*sigh*

We try VERY hard here to avoid personal attacks. I'm not offended (really), but, in all honesty, I'm disappointed.

I will go back to my request:

Read the talk and parse the whole thing carefully. I'm not saying it won't be offensive for some; all I'm saying is that it wasn't addressed to those who struggle to understand.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: General Conference Discussion

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 Oct 2009, 09:10

A summary from the talk - to which I just listened again - in his own words - with my commentary in parentheses:

1) "The mist of darkness falls on ALL travelers . . . strong . . . and weak . . ." (NO insult at all to those who feel like they are surrounded by darkness)

2) "The rod marks the way . . . the word of God." (The word is there even when the mists of darkness surround us - again, ackowledging that this isn't something that can be seen clearly and easily.)

3) "The power of Christ to counter all trials in all times . . . love . . . come unto Christ." (He stresses that this is the central message of the BofM.)

4) Hyrum to Joseph: Read "thou hast been faithful" - from Ether 12. (He used the BofM as a way to raise Joseph's spirits - not likely if they viewed it as a fraudulent work.)

5) "As one of a thousand elements of my testimony . . . they quoted the BofM to the end." (He asserts that they sincerely believed that the BofM was the word of God - a holy record - scripture.)

He then focused on the charge that it was "ALL fictitious". (He makes this very, very clear in his wording - that what is coming next is directed at those who claim Joseph made it all up and was a fraud.)

6) Each "pathetic" answer is explicitly one that casts Joseph as a fraud - knowingly propagating something he knew was false. (This is a natural assertion, given the story he shared about Hyrum reading the BofM to Joseph at the very end of their lives - and it is at the heart of the Ethan Smith and Solomon Spaulding claims.)

7) "Without even trying to account for its power (and impact on many)" -- "if THEY leave this church . . . crawl . . . as they make their exist" (The description he used was targeted directly and explicitly to those who don't even try to consider the message of the BofM and the effect of the BofM on people - those who charge that the entire thing is nothing but a fraud. He didn't target his remarks to ANYONE else, especially those who are trying to understand it.

Again, I am NOT saying this talk should be easy for those who are struggling to accept the BofM. All I'm saying is that it wasn't addressed to those who are struggling sincerely and honestly. The words themselves are addressed to those who reject it out of hand and claim the BofM and the LDS Church are a cunningly constructed fraud. That's all I'm saying, and that conclusion isn't intellectually twisted in the slightest.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Peaceandjoy
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Re: General Conference Discussion

Post by Peaceandjoy » 07 Oct 2009, 10:41

Ray, I understand what you are saying. But I just went back and listened to the talk again. It didn't sound as bad as when I first heard it, but he sounded so mad! I still think he was talking about anyone, that even the elect could be deceived. I just felt like he could not understand how anyone could doubt the book.

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MisterCurie
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Re: General Conference Discussion

Post by MisterCurie » 07 Oct 2009, 11:05

Ray Degraw wrote:We try VERY hard here to avoid personal attacks.
I'm sorry. I did not mean for my comment to be a personal attack in any way. I apologize for it coming across that way.
Peaceandjoy wrote:he sounded so mad! I still think he was talking about anyone, that even the elect could be deceived. I just felt like he could not understand how anyone could doubt the book.
I agree that it seemed to me he was addressing strong church members (the elect) who were having some doubts. I think this is supported by his statement of people needing to crawl around the Book of Mormon to leave the church (they can't leave the church if they aren't already in it) and by belittling some of the theories that inadequately account for the BoM, but which cause people to doubt, it seemed like Elder Holland was trying to shame people back into Stage 3 constructs. Perhaps I felt him talking to me in particular because 7 weeks ago I was TBM and now I am overwhelmed with doubts, some based on the BoM.
Ray Degraw wrote:He then focused on the charge that it was "ALL fictitious".
Again, from the Stage 3 construct that Elder Holland is speaking from, it is either ALL true or ALL fictitious. It is very black and white. Either JS brought forth the BoM exactly how he said he did, or he is a fraud. And I think the church and Elder Holland want us to view it in a very stage 3 perspective.

As for Elder Holland's emphatic point that it must have come forward exactly as JS said it did, if the church is so sure it came forth as JS said it did, why do they not teach the well documented use of a rock in a hat for the translation? This would have been a great talk to lay out the historically accurate accounts of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and then challenge the TBMs to leave after knowing the truth (just wishful thinking on my part :roll: ).

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just me
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Re: General Conference Discussion

Post by just me » 07 Oct 2009, 12:43

I wasn't happy with some of the wording choices of Holland's talk. According to the TBM's that means I am guilty and wicked and it hurts to hear the truth. Many of them know that this talk was pointed directly at those in the church who doubt the historicity of the BoM. They also believe it was given on Sunday afternoon because it would get the largest audience. Others believe it was only an "in your face" testimony to the anti's. One person even made the comment that all the Valiant and Stalwart members got to hear the "happy, joy, love" talks on Saturday and then the "righteous indignation" talks were reserved for the non-valiant, non-stalwart members who just tune in last minute on Sunday. :|

I agree it was a Stage 3 talk geared to fear people back into the Stage 3 fold.

And the TBM membership at large see it as a warning to all those who believe the BoM to be symbolically true (but not historical) that they are in danger of hellfire. The end is coming and now we will see the wheat and the tares begin to be seperated.


I'm not offended by his talk, I just think it was intended to inflict fear and guilt into a certain population of the membership. That makes me sad.
Most of us, sooner or later, find that at critical points in our lives we must strike out on our own to make a path where none exists.~Elaine Pagels

Ultimately, you are the path-the path begins and ends with you.~Stephan Bodian

He who think he knows, doesn’t know: He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.~Sanskrit proverb

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bridget_night
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Re: General Conference Discussion

Post by bridget_night » 07 Oct 2009, 13:13

Poppyseed wrote: I was thinking about what Bridget said about her H never getting a "witness" that the book is true. This is an intreging problem. I have never gotten "a witness" either.... but many things tell me that it is true including lots of communication from the spirit. The spirit follows and confirms truth and when we are living in truth the spirit will be with us. At least that has been my experience. Not that it answers every question directly or that it commands in everything. But as I analyze what I call my testimony, I see that the fabric of it is literally made up of thousands of experiences that combine together to what I call a "witness". But it didn't come simply because I asked one question over and over and finally got a "yes" from heaven, although I have heard that some testimonies start out that way. I think perhaps it could be a mistake to confine oneself to those expectations even if that is what everyone says over and over.

I think one way the truth of the book comes is as we live the words and apply the principles to our lives. I mean the book is a complete analysis of the natural man and all of its vices and then of course all of the antidotes. It is also a commentary on society and even governments and the consequences of certain philosophies. I think if one really looks at these questions in terms of actual application that the spirit couldn't help but testify in some way that its true or not. At least this has been my experience with the book. I don't find much satsifaction in the historical or scientific debates. Imo, they divert one away from the purpose and design of why we should read the book in the first place, not to mention failing to answer the questions of my soul. I am not concerned about the question of "horses" for example. For all I know, it could have been an error in the translation process somewhere along the line. Heck, Mormon himself could have misspelled something or used a word we don't understand in English. I can't place the question of truth solely on science anymore than I could do that with the question of Christ himself. The Book says its contains the words of Christ. I think that is a more important question. Does the book bring a person to Christ and is a person more santicfied and more perfected by applying the lessons taught within? That is the question I wanted and the one I could only get by living it myself.

First, to Peace&Joy, I am glad my post made you not feel so alone in your struggle. It does helpe when someone understands how you are feeling and thinking.

Now to Poppyseed's comments. I understand what you are saying about not needing to get a comfirmation about everything in the church in order to have a testimony. Even though I have never gotten a witness that the first vision is true or of the book of Mormon, I did get spiritual experiences in regards to the Plan of Savalation. When I learned about our intelligences (that God did not create) and that we decided we wanted to go through the process of getting spirit bodies, spiritual education, physical bodies and physical education to progress towards godhood and a fullness of joy, it made so much sense to my intellect and spirit. I loved the King Follet sermon and believe this teaching is true. I cannot say I KNOW this is true. I feel like I KNOW very little, but I believe and hope it is true. With this faith I have accepted many other teachings and principles of the gospel, even when they make little sense to me (like the temple ceremonies). I also agree that usually one grows in spirituality as they live the gospel. If I want to gain a testimony of health laws and they work for me, I get a testimony. So, I agree with much of what you had to say.

It is a little different with the BofM because of Moroni's promise. To my husband, this was and is a huge deal. He even talked to a visiting GA once about it and he had no answer and said he really did not know why he had never recieved a witness. Many years ago one of our bishops, who knew my husband was struggling with this, called him to be a stake missionary while we lived in Oregon. My husband told him that he could not accept the calling because he could not witness that the BofM was true. The bishop told him if he would accept this calling the words would come when the time came that he needed to testify. So, he accepted the calling, but the words or testimony never came and he asked to be released after 3 months. The only time he thought he heard and felt the spirit was when he was blessing one of his home teaching sisters who was very ill. He felt strongly impressed to tell her (in front of all her non-member relatives) that she would get well soon and live a long life on this earth still. She died a week later and it devestated him. My husband is a perfectionist and he tried so hard to live the gospel so I know he was not unworthy. So after 30 years in the church with no answers and the incident of Paul Dunn that blew him away, he has decided the church is just a man-made institution with good people, but not from God. Strangly, he has been easier to live with and nicer to be around since leaving the church. We have more time together without all the important church callings he had. There is less stress and less worries financially. Yet, I feel empty inside sometimes not having him sit next to me in church or have a husband who is a spiritual leader of our family. Point being, things are not as simply as you do step A and B will happen. I just figure it will all come out in the wash of the resurrection or second coming.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: General Conference Discussion

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 Oct 2009, 19:50

Fwiw, I interpret Elder Holland's talk and intent largely based on his interview for the PBS Documentary - in which he said very clearly that the Church has room for many members to view the BofM differently - even to question its historicity. I know that influences my reading.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Poppyseed
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Re: General Conference Discussion

Post by Poppyseed » 08 Oct 2009, 08:06

Bridget, Thanks for sharing a little more of your story. I hope I didn't sound like I was dismissing your H's concern. It sounds like he has carried much personal heartache over it. I hope he doesn't feel too alone as I think there are many who struggle with the same problem. I have lots of concerns with the church myself. One of them is situations like the one your H had with the GA who didn't really address his concern. I am sorry that happened. I frankly expect more from the GA population in terms of loving and spiritually helpful invitations. My only "church-ish" answer is that perhaps some are to believe the testimony of others, as the scriptures suggest, but that prolly isn't very comforting as other scriptures promise that if we seek God will answer.


It is interesting to hear everyone's varying perceptions of Holland's remarks. He sounded to me like any Noah or Jacob or Isaiah who had to talk boldly and contend sharply against opposing voices. My experience with the BofM has been anything but what some are describing as some sort of confinement to stage 3, so its hard for me to see his remarks in those terms. Plus the fact that E. Holland is one of the most loving men I have ever witnessed. I can't believe that his only goals were to shame people. I agree with Ray. He was answering the harshest of our critics and I think his words are a demonstration of how strong one might feel if ones knows something is true.

And anyway.....a spiritual understanding of what the BofM is and what it can do for a person isn't found out by answering some fear or being good little boys and girls in the faith. It's honestly found, as I said before, in reading it and living it. Whatever spiritual confirmations come outside of that process I would label as lucky or a generous gift from God while the rest of us learn from diligence. How many times through out the course of our lives have we heard the invitation to simply read it and apply it? I mean the end goal isn't knowing its true. This is just one really good way to keep anchored to coming to Christ. Faith can also anchor one as well and so can hope. And while I see how some might be turned off by his approach in this talk, I hope its not too bold to say that I see it as a waste of energy to become offended. If the book isn't true, then it doesn't matter what Holland said or how he said it anyway. If the book is true, then perhaps we each have some responsibility. But I can't really see God condemning people because they didn't get a warm fuzzy after a prayer one day. I think, rather, God will be discussing how we lived according to his word.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” --old Chinese proverb

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MisterCurie
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Re: General Conference Discussion

Post by MisterCurie » 08 Oct 2009, 08:18

Poppyseed wrote:I hope its not too bold to say that I see it as a waste of energy to become offended.
Not at all. Well said. Rather than waste time on being offended, I think its much better to remember that we can be cafeteria mormons and choose to dine on something more to our liking.

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