A long post about deception...

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
User avatar
hawkgrrrl
Site Admin
Posts: 3357
Joined: 22 Oct 2008, 16:27

Re: A long post about deception...

Post by hawkgrrrl » 06 May 2009, 19:42

It sort of feels like it's an attempt to justify some behavior
Not justify, just understand.
What, in your view, would constitute something you wouldn't let a leader get away with in this regard?
I'm not sure I understand this sentiment of letting someone else get away with something. I'm in no position to enforce my own standards of morality or my own understanding on anyone else's behavior (likewise, they are not in a position to enforce theirs on me). My own view is that there are inherent negative consequences for this approach that leaders (and members) do in fact have to deal with on this earth. The leaders are probably insulated from seeing some of the negative consequences that I see because of their other beliefs (the black & white worldview expressed), but that's not something I can influence in people so far removed from my daily life. People are entitled to their own perspectives. Above all else, I believe that people are free to follow their own conscience, even when I disagree with the effectiveness of their methods. All I can do is share my views with the people I do encounter regularly and point out things I think are poor tactics or uncharitable approaches.

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 15565
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: A long post about deception...

Post by Curt Sunshine » 06 May 2009, 21:07

I feel the need to point out something else - something that I have learned from close to 20 years of management within multiple departments at companies of varying sizes.

Whenever an organization (any organization) grows to the point that it is impossible to control it centrally, the message from the "corporate office" always needs to be streamlined to a handful of key talking points - simple messages that can be understood by all. If that doesn't happen, two things can occur:

1) The message that reaches the end of each row is radically different than what leaves the tap - and what reaches the end of the other rows;

2) The risk grows of alienating those who want and need simplicity - and many who would be fine in a secure environment end up drowning from the deluge.

That's true in business, in religion, in sports, in music, in performing arts, in personal improvement - in everything. The "organization" simply must talk at the level of greatest reach and most common applicability - and it simply must avoid training the custodians and engineers and secretaries and office managers in everything there is to know about being electricians. Any individual custodian or engineer or secretary or office manager is free to learn electronics, but the company can't force that learning on all.

Just because an organization doesn't make all its members experts in everything doesn't mean it is deceiving them. It is ironic to value, "I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves," while asking the Church to take responsibility for teaching us every possible controversial or difficult detail of its history - especially when we also complain about correlation in general.

When the only solution is to correlate more . . .

I don't want blatant lies, but I really don't want the Church to spend large amounts of time to give me its institutional view of everything possible. Frankly, the more it tries to do so, the more it risks people disagreeing with that view and perpetuating this type of discussion with even more members. As an institution, it simply can't do that - and no reasonably large organization can. Even many small franchises can't share some details with all employees.
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

User avatar
jmb275
Posts: 507
Joined: 28 Apr 2009, 11:31

Re: A long post about deception...

Post by jmb275 » 07 May 2009, 00:50

@hawkgrrrl
I apologize, I poorly phrased my question. I guess I'm asking, at what point do you decide that you will not "give them a free pass," that you won't endorse what the organization does? Maybe I am poorly understanding you all. Do you agree that there is white-washing, or deception of some form? Are you just giving me ways to understand it, or are you defending it? Is the only difference between you and me the fact that I think white-washing is deceptive based on my interpretation of the word and the tactics, and that you don't according to yours?

@all
Maybe I am sending the wrong message here. I am not asking for the church to teach us to be history experts. I'm not asking the church to spend each Sunday School lesson detailing the various intricate historical theories related to how Joseph translated the BoM. I'm not asking the church to teach "every possible controversial or difficult detail of its history." I don't believe that this is the message I'm sending (as I look back on the posts I have never asked for this). In fact, I'm not asking the church to do anything. My personal opinion is that we are less than forthright (Elder Oaks' own words in the PBS/Frontline interview), and that when dealing with investigators specifically, it is less than honest.

This is really quite simple. Let me try to illustrate here.
1st discussion:
  1. Our Heavenly Father
  2. Plan of Salvation
  3. The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is primarily a religious text describing God's dealings with a civilization. God led Joseph Smith to a set of Golden Plates, upon which contained the writings of this civilization. In the mid 1820's Joseph and his father tried desperately to keep a source of income, and frequently offered services as treasure hunters, Joseph using a seerstone as a guide. Using this same prophetic seerstone, Joseph received the meanings of the writings in the plates, and scribes recorded them into what we now know as The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon presents a very common 19th century theme - that of the American Indians originating from people in the Middle East. Many of the stories in The Book of Mormon are closely related to other 19th century themes including The Masons, liberty, monarchies, spiritual visions, slavery, Christianity etc. However, there are also many fascinating insights into the culture of ancient Jerusalem. There are many moral truths, prophecies, and wise counsel in the Book of Mormon. The culminating event in the Book of Mormon is the appearance of Jesus Christ to this civilization after His resurrection...etc. etc.
  4. The First Vision. The early 1800's were a time of spiritual upheaval in early America. Joseph Smith's family was deeply religious and spent a great deal of energy trying to discover which church was correct. While Joseph was in his teens, he was reading the Bible and read a passage in James <repeat scripture here>. Joseph felt that he needed wisdom. So one day he went to the woods to offer up a prayer. Upon praying, in his mind a light appeared and a heavenly personage appeared and answered Joseph's deepest yearnings. etc. etc.
  5. Joseph Smith. We believe Joseph Smith restored Christ's church from ancient days. Joseph was a visionary, and a deeply spiritual man. He received many revelations in the course of his short life, and many of the teachings, doctrines, and commandments we live by were revealed through him. This started a line of prophetic authority in our day, and President Thomas S. Monson holds that authority today. Some of the doctrines, and practices revealed by Joseph are not well understood, and were, and continue to be very controversial, namely polygamy. We believe that our current prophets have received revelation that we are not to practice some of the things that Joseph revealed. The Lord has given us prophets to help guide us so we might now what we can do to lead happy fulfilling lives in accordance with God's will. We encourage you to take a look at this literature which discusses more in depth the topics of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, the Plan of Salvation, and our Savior Jesus Christ who leads this church.
Now, I'm no scholar, and no historian, and this is very "off the cuff." But I don't think I have said anything here that isn't based on historical fact, and I have spun it in a faith promoting way, while still maintaining honesty and openness. It's not perfect, so don't be too harsh, but it illustrates the point. I at least think that in the discussions, this gives the investigator a fair chance, and will encourage them to investigate further on their own.

With regard to Sunday School and innoculating people, this simply needs to be a part of the culture. Let me give an example. A few weeks ago we were talking about Joseph in Liberty jail. One of the guys in the quorum asked the question, "why was Joseph arrested and put in jail so many times and our later prophets weren't." Many elders raised their hands citing stuff about how the later prophets had their own trials, and that it was a trial of Joseph's faith, and that he was always persecuted, etc. However, from a historical perspective, the answer is quite simple. People didn't like Joseph. He illegally practiced polygamy, sometimes with very young girls, and people knew it, and he was lying about it. He was also very progressive in his attitudes towards blacks in a slave state, Missouri. These are just some of the reasons. And yet, not only didn't anyone say this, but I felt like I would be labelled heretical if I spoke up.

My point is, the church does not need to turn us all into historians to tell a more candid story. This solves a myriad of problems, but two specifically that I think are important. It innoculates people, which is something hawkgrrrl (and Bushman and others) has (indirectly) advocated, and it allows people like me to get off the church's back about deception. Even if the church, before making matter-of-fact statements, they said something like "as far as our historical records indicate, <x> happened..." At least then, they are opening the door for other interpretations and other discoveries. But when "translated the Book of Mormon from Gold Plates," comes across in the matter-of-fact way that it does, and creates an image in the minds of investigators that Joseph sat in front of the Gold Plates literally "translating," it of course creates a feeling of deceit when the investigator (or member) finds out otherwise.

Nevertheless, I very much appreciate all of your comments. Despite how it appears, you have softened me somewhat on the issue. That is important to me. I always appreciate contrary views as it helps me to diversify my own view, and consider other possibilities. Thank you all very much.
I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women--all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there.
- Joseph Smith, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 304)

User avatar
hawkgrrrl
Site Admin
Posts: 3357
Joined: 22 Oct 2008, 16:27

Re: A long post about deception...

Post by hawkgrrrl » 07 May 2009, 10:21

I guess I'm asking, at what point do you decide that you will not "give them a free pass," that you won't endorse what the organization does?
When I speak of historical issues, I personally endeavor to be more accurate and more complete, similar to what you outlined in your last note, although I disclose even more.
Maybe I am poorly understanding you all. Do you agree that there is white-washing, or deception of some form?
Yes, I agree, which I've said both here and in my linked post on MM. The word deception feels a little loaded, though, in implying one unified motive that I don't think holds up under scrutiny.
Are you just giving me ways to understand it, or are you defending it?
I do think it's important to understand it. In understanding it I can see the upside as well as the very serious downside. I don't consider that justification for it, which is why I don't personally do it, but I understand how others could justify presenting a simplified version of history to the masses rather than the more nuanced, more complex, and frankly enigmatic and confusion version(s) of events.
Is the only difference between you and me the fact that I think white-washing is deceptive based on my interpretation of the word and the tactics, and that you don't according to yours?
I think you and I are mostly in agreement - maybe you aren't seeing that because I'm using diplomatic language. But I wouldn't apply the word "deception" or consider it lying for the reasons outlined above.

I want to reiterate my argument that many of the church leaders aren't aware of some of the intricacies in the history. While that's unfathomable to us (they are the leaders of the church after all), the Marlin K. Jensen interview certainly implied that. I think that the idea (that some have) of some vast web of conspiracy is at play at the highest ranking levels is not founded. On the contrary, I believe many of the leaders have avoided depth of research on these issues for the very reasons they caution against it. Some of us, like me and even Richard Bushman, did not have the option of avoiding it as we grew up in places where the historical information was ubiquitous. You couldn't swing a dead cat without hearing about Joseph's polygamous wives, treasure digging, seer stones, failed Kirtland bank, and whatnot.

Also, the white-washed version that is presented is not substituting verified facts with known untruths. That would pass the threshold into deception, IMO. But personally, omitting facts that are relevant also goes too far for me, which is why I tend to put it all out there.

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 15565
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: A long post about deception...

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 May 2009, 12:39

There's a difference between "defending" something and seeing it as inevitable. I think a number of unfortunate things are inevitable, and I would like to see them change quickly (and I address them directly as an individual), but I also believe strongly that some things must be pruned carefully and slowly at the organizational level. I really do love Jacob 5, especially the last part that deals with the final pruning. Imo, understanding what it says about the modern LDS Church is powerful - and actually quite liberating.

At heart, I have come to accept the long-term, tenacious roots of apostasy that still linger in the Church - and see them simply as part of mortality - as inevitable - but also as disappearing eventually. When I use the word "accept", I mean truly accept. There are specific things I can't accept (like members who won't let go of the racist justifications for the Priesthood ban, even when the global leadership is begging them to do so), but the overall issue I have accepted fully. I have let go of unrealistic expectations of the organization, while still believing the overarching theology it articulates is inspired and revealed. Complete, absolute, unsullied, pure Truth - no; inspired and revealed and spirit/mind expanding - yes. I love the cosmic outline (the puzzle border, if you will), even while filling in the pieces in the middle can be frustrating and conflicting and a real struggle - and even when sometimes the picture itself seems to change and morph over time.

In the past 25-30 years, I have seen quite a bit of change - enough to be optimistic, and the rate of change has been accelerating over the last decade or so. I'm sure it will continue to ebb and flow, but I am hopeful.
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

User avatar
jmb275
Posts: 507
Joined: 28 Apr 2009, 11:31

Re: A long post about deception...

Post by jmb275 » 07 May 2009, 22:24

Thank you all for your helpful comments, and most particularly your patience with me.

A couple of questions in a related but slightly different topic
@hawkgrrrl
hawkgrrrl wrote:When I speak of historical issues, I personally endeavor to be more accurate and more complete, similar to what you outlined in your last note, although I disclose even more.
Would you mind sharing some insight into how you do this? From my standpoint (our bishop is very VERY conservative especially for Bay Area, CA and has no clue about church history) this a very daunting thing for me. I don't know how to raise my hand in class and answer a question with historical "fact" (as closely as we know) without being viewed as heretical.
hawkgrrrl wrote:I want to reiterate my argument that many of the church leaders aren't aware of some of the intricacies in the history.
I must admit this is a bit hard for me to swallow in spite of the Marlin Jensen quote. Who looks in those vaults after all? And don't they ever read the books written by the myriad of Mormon historians? Are they too busy writing their own faith-promoting obedience books? What about President Hinckley. He spent his lifetime in the church and wrote "Truth Restored." Surely he had to run across some of this stuff?

@Ray
I don't like the word inevitable. It feels like it takes away my power to try and make a difference. In what ways should we try to correct this problem?

It's a funny thing you mentioned that some members won't let go of racist ideas in spite of the leadership begging them to. This is sort of like telling a child that the sky is red repeatedly until they're 16 and then telling them it is actually blue. The church leadership's main message is faith and obedience (with a more recent trend of focusing on Christ). And in every conference they reaffirm that they know that the prophet is God's prophet and we should follow his counsel because he won't lead us astray. Then, when it turns out they have led us astray, they plead with us to root out the false doctrines while never acknowledging that the mouthpiece was in error. This is largely what I understand when I listen to the thoughts of people like Darron Smith. The leaders will work diligently to straighten out doctrine while not acknowledging the errors from the source of the false doctrine. And of course, at least to me, it's obvious why they don't do this - it would undermine their authority. Hence, it is not surprising to me in the least that change within the Mormon church is like trying to steer an aircraft carrier.
I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women--all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there.
- Joseph Smith, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 304)

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 15565
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: A long post about deception...

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 May 2009, 23:44

jmb275, I am going to be very blunt in this comment, so please forgive my departure from my general approach here and elsewhere. [NOTE: I wrote this before reading your "revelation" post, but I decided to not edit it - to let it stand as is even as I hope it is not as accurate as it was before your new post. I hope that is an inspired decision, but I wanted you to know at least that this comment probably would have been written differently if I had read your other post first.]

1) I see "lead astray" as VERY different than "be mistaken" - and you seem to be equating the two. I hear that a lot from lots of people, but I think they are very, very different things. It's a topic for another post, but I simply can't equate the two. Making mistakes, even serious ones, is not always "leading astray".

2) With regard to the ban as an example of your statement that "they plead with us to root out the false doctrines while never acknowledging that the mouthpiece was in error" - that simply is incorrect. There have been multiple statements by current apostles acknowledging that the ban was unjustified - or, at the very least, that the justifications were wrong. These statements have been made publicly and forcefully. I wrote a post on my own blog about that specific issue not long ago:

"Repudiating Racist Justifications Once and For All" (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2009 ... -once.html)

3) By "inevitable" I mean simply that the Lord allows agency to the extreme - and there are certain things that simply are so embedded within our natural psyches that we never think to ask about them. To us, they simply "are". Racism is a good example of something that is absolutely natural - wrong ("natural man is an enemy to God"), but natural. God doesn't wave a wand and remove racism from people's hearts - even prophets, as the Bible shows unmistakably. I can't see how God could have done more to stop the ban than He apparently did without violating agency, so I see the ban as inevitable. I think that's true of lots of things that are opposed to His will. It doesn't make them "right", but it does make them understandable. Again, Jacob 5 teaches this quite directly, imo.

My bluntness comes in now.

When I read your posts and comments, I read lots of absolute statements. This or that "is"; this or that "isn't"; etc. There is little room for nuance and ambiguity in most of them. I understand that, since it is a classic condition within Stage 4; in most cases, it is "inevitable" that most people who hit the wall in that stage will see things in such black-and-white terms at first. The challenge is to begin to embrace uncertainty - to begin to realize there are far fewer things about which we can be absolutely certain - to eventually embrace that as a good thing and something that allows for MUCH more growth and progress than our former certainty.

I believe the main tension you are feeling is that Hawk and I have accepted uncertainty and chosen to take a merciful and charitable view of many things. That is different than your current mindset, so it feels to you like "justification" and "excuse". It feels like we are avoiding hard issues, when, in reality, we have reconciled them in a way that brings us peace - and we simply aren't upset like you still are. Things still bother us, but they bother us differently than they bother you.

I hope that makes sense. It is NOT a negative criticism; it is merely an observation. I think, however, it is critical to say at this point, since I truly want you to understand the disconnect that exists to some degree between what we are saying and what you seem to be hearing.
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

User avatar
Tom Haws
Posts: 1245
Joined: 13 Jan 2009, 06:57
Location: Gilbert, Arizona, USA
Contact:

Re: A long post about deception...

Post by Tom Haws » 08 May 2009, 08:11

So, Ray, you are saying you agree with the basic spirit behind jmb's words, "Beware and seek always not to deceive." Is that right?

By the way, Just so everybody knows, there is nothing wrong with faith stage 4, just as there is nothing wrong with faith stage 5 or 3, though of course stage 6 is most whole and "correct". The only pathology is arresting or regressing in stage. Prolonged equilibirium at one stage or protracted transition from stage to stage is not bad.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 15565
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: A long post about deception...

Post by Curt Sunshine » 08 May 2009, 08:34

Tom, "Yes" to the question in the first paragraph, and I agree completely with the second paragraph. Stage 4, for example, can last for a few days or for years and not automatically be destructive in and of itself. Generally, it's long-time association with those who bounce from Stage 4 into a bitter Stage 3 (and especially those who mis-characterize that bitter Stage 3 as enlightened / Stage 5) that is damaging - not Stage 4 all by itself.
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

User avatar
Tom Haws
Posts: 1245
Joined: 13 Jan 2009, 06:57
Location: Gilbert, Arizona, USA
Contact:

Re: A long post about deception...

Post by Tom Haws » 08 May 2009, 08:42

Ray Degraw wrote:Generally, it's long-time association with those who bounce from Stage 4 into a bitter Stage 3 (and especially those who mis-characterize that bitter Stage 3 as enlightened / Stage 5) that is damaging - not Stage 4 all by itself.
Excellent observation. Very useful. I really like it. Thanks.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

Post Reply