Historic Mormon Conundrums - one sentence thoughts.

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Historic Mormon Conundrums - one sentence thoughts.

Post by hawkgrrrl » 02 Mar 2009, 12:31

The fact that prophets no longer testify of actually talking/seeing/speaking with God --
wearing spiritual experiences on our sleeves is not the LDS way. Anymore.
That's a great point. Thanks for adding that.

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John Hamer
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Re: Historic Mormon Conundrums - one sentence thoughts.

Post by John Hamer » 07 Mar 2009, 11:11

Blacks — The whole point of the gospel is inclusion of everyone, so the only reason leaders denied priesthood ordination to people on the basis of race was their own bigotry; prejudice is a rejection of the 2nd great commandment of the gospel ("love your neighbor") and that hardness of heart cuts church members and leaders off from the spirit of inspiration and revelation.

Polygamy — An unfortunate practice introduced by Joseph Smith that Brigham Young successfully exploited as a means of tying followers to him by sharing in something that was criminal activity, and which then became intimately interwoven with their family lives.

The means of translating the BOM — Inspired story-telling, primarily a collaboration between Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, which probably only rarely involved physical avatars such as seer-stones, hats, and the "plates" object.

The 3 witnesses — Faithful Mormons, already converted to Joseph Smith, who saw a vision in their minds, the same way you or I see visions or dreams when we close our eyes and conjure images.

The 8 witnesses — Other members of the Smith and Whitmer families who signed a common document stating that they had seen the "plates" object (under a cloth), hefted the plates object (nailed within a box), and seen the curious "Caracters" said to be transcribed from the plates in the form of a transcript --- either the transcript owned by the Community of Christ, or one like it.

The Pearl of Great Price (that's a BIG one) — A book created by the LDS Church in the late 19th Century, containing the Joseph Smith History (a later and less accurate account of the first vision), the "Book of Moses" (part of Joseph's inventive gloss/alteration of the Bible), and the Book of Abraham (Joseph's inventive creation after acquiring the Chandler Mummies and papyri).

Brigham Young — One of the most ambitious and successful Mormons ever, his personality is best understood as a usurper who unsuccessfully tried to leave his own family dynasty in charge of the LDS Church; despite his reputation, he was not a great organizer, but he was successful because he was willing to break any number of eggs to make an omelet.

The Blood Doctrine — Although Mormons believed they were special blood descendants of Israel (primarily through Ephraim), this is not literally true; nor is imagining that people need to shed blood to atone for sins helpful in any way.

DNA evidence not aligned with BOM — Scripture is not history and history is not scripture: The Book of Mormon, like the Book of Job, and the Book of Genesis, among others, is not related in any way to actual historical events.

re-baptism — This was a ceremony that Mormons used to do; there's nothing wrong with it and I don't see why it couldn't be reinstituted.

Homosexuals — Homosexuality is as eternal and Godly as heterosexuality and gender; the only true sin associated with homosexuality is bigotry against homosexuals.

Masonry similarities to the Temple — The Nauvoo endowment (and the current LDS redaction of the same) were directly derived from Masonry.

The fact that prophets no longer testify of actually talking/seeing/speaking with God — Worshiping leaders the way most Mormons do violates the gospel's first great commandment ("love God" / have no gods before me). Leaders do not and have never talked to God in a way that is different from the way you or I can today.

Adam-God Theory — This was theological speculation, the same way that the King Follett Discourse and the Trinity are theological speculation. God is not like your dad or your brother or a dove or a ghost or Adam --- these are all just models that people use to imagine God, since people can't picture infinity.

Mountain Meadows — This is a stark, but not isolated, example of what happens when you surrender your culture to theo-dictatorship. It is systems of checks and balances on human authority that are divinely ordained, not dictatorships.

Secret Tunnels — There's nothing wrong with tunnels.

Danites — Created with the sanction of Joseph Smith to drive free-thinking Mormons like Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer out of Far West, Missouri; precisely paralleling the way the Missourians later drove the Mormons out of their state.

Lafferty Brothers — There are crazy people like the Lafferty brothers in all cultures.

White Salamander — A clever forgery which highlights the fact that LDS leaders are fallible and possess no insights more special than yours or mine.

The Sword of Laban — An image from the mind of Joseph Smith, possibly (speculatively) derived from the leg surgery he had as a boy.

Mummies/Parchment — The source of the inspiration that became the Book of Abraham, the Chandler mummies and papyri had nothing to do with Abraham, who is largely a mythical figure.

Zelf — Early Mormons saw the world around them as scriptural and were inspired to see evidence of scripture all around them; none of these ideas nor the scriptures themselves should be taken literally today.

Cain — a literary creation of the Yahwist / J-Source, originally having nothing to do with skin color, which in modern times was used by Americans (including Mormons) to justify African slavery and racism.

Three Nephites — Fun folklore like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

John the Beloved — Traditionally one of Jesus's core disciples; New Testament books ascribed to him were not written by him. Both the Gospel and the Apocalypse of John (Revelation) are late pseudepigrapha that tell us almost nothing about the historical Jesus.

Jackson County — Zion, in a symbolic sense. I'm here right now.

Destruction of The Nauvoo Expositor — A clear example of how power currupts all humans, which is why God does not ordain unchecked authority (theo-dictatorship), but instead supports as system of checks and balances where all the members receive personal revelation (true theo-democracy).

Kirtland Financial Crisis — Joseph Smith didn't understand banking or business of any kind, and his business ventures routinely failed; the mistake was his, but his greatest personal flaw was incapacity to take responsibility for his actions.

Spiritual Eyes vs. Actual Vision — No one has ever seen science-fiction-like apparitions; all visions are seen with spiritual eyes. If we imagine that people in the past saw things we don't see now, we are cutting ourselves off from our own spiritual existence.

Different Accounts of the First Vision — The first account is the best; as with all visions, this was a visionary experience, not a visitation. Many people have had similar, moving, theophanies, and you can too.

The "real" origin of The Word of Wisdom — The Word of Wisdom is simple 19th-century health folklore.

Quakers on the Moon — Brigham Young's speculation is based on the old philosophical idea that there are no vacuums, and so all earth-like spheres would be filled with people.

The lost 116 pages — The lost earlier version of the Book of Mormon up to the Book of Mosiah; the official explanation helps illustrate that the Book of Mormon was a creative composition (that could not be duplicated), rather than a literal translation (which could be duplicated).

Solomon Spaulding — One of many, many authors in the 18th and 19th century who believed that a high civilization (cf. the "Mound-Builder" myth) had once existed in North America that had Old World origins; despite the beliefs of many to the contrary, the Book of Mormon is not based on any of Spaulding's works.

Philastus Hurlbut — The cousin of my great great great great grandfather; without the affidavits he collected, we wouldn't know nearly as much about Joseph Smith's early life.

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Tom Haws
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Re: Historic Mormon Conundrums - one sentence thoughts.

Post by Tom Haws » 09 Mar 2009, 07:44

John Hamer wrote:If we imagine that people in the past saw things we don't see now, we are cutting ourselves off from our own spiritual existence.
This is wonderful, John.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
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jmb275
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Re: Historic Mormon Conundrums - one sentence thoughts.

Post by jmb275 » 28 Apr 2009, 14:59

Blacks - love 'em, I even offered one sunscreen in my naivete - the epitomy of equality in my mind.
Polygamy - don't believe it came from God - and lying for the Lord <shakes head> It demonstrates Joseph's philosopher king mentality better than anything. Why people can't see this I don't understand.
The means of translating the BOM - why can't we just be honest about it?
The 3 witnesses - honestly, these were not reliable people, and besides they left the church citing Joseph was a fallen prophet. how come we put so much emphasis on their testimony but not on their testimony of Joseph as a fallen prophet?
The 8 witnesses - eh, James Strang had lots of these.
The Pearl of Great Price (that's a BIG one) - fabrication, but a very elegant one.
Brigham Young - WOW, just WOW, and did I mention wow!! I pretty much don't believe anything that came out of his mouth.
The Blood Doctrine - (blood atonement) - philosophies of men mingled with scripture, and cruel to boot.
DNA evidence not aligned with BOM - didn't expect it to since the BoM is simply not a historical record.
re-baptism - Nephi was, has to do with organization of the church or something.
Homosexuals - we have a long way to go on this one. this is purtian holdover, but not part of God's church IMHO. EDIT: hmmm, I realized I wasn't clear here. What I mean is that our attitudes towards homosexuals should not be part of God's church. I agree with the post above that the only sin about homosexuality is the sin that virtually all of Christendom commits - bigotry towards them.
Masonry similarities to the Temple - cult mind control mechanism perfectly executed by Joseph and Brigham but a little too much for late 20th century people (that's why they had to change it a bunch).
The fact that prophets no longer testify of actually talking/seeing/speaking with God - this is largely cultural, but it makes me crazy when I hear leaders say their experiences are too "sacred" to share. Isn't that the point of a witness of Christ to testify of Him and reaffirm Him?
Adam-God Theory - philosophy of men probably NOT mingled with scripture
Mountain Meadows - complete atrocity and the church should apologize but they never will
Secret Tunnels - ?
Dannites - Wow, talk about secret combinations!
Lafferty Brothers - ?
White Salamander - The Tanners told us the letters were false!!
The Wave Stone - ?
The Sword of Laban - eh, myth
Mummies - ?
Parchment - ?
Dolemite - ?
Zelf - Man Joseph could really spin a tale when he needed to. Look for this great feature of Joseph's character in other episodes such as Gold Plates, Priesthood, First Vision, etc.
Cain - no opinion
Three Nephites - uh huh
John the Beloved - whatever
Jackson County - Well, while I can't condone the behavior or conspiring evil men to kill Mormons, it's not like Joseph didn't do anything to aggravate them.
Destruction of The Nauvoo Expositor - while in today's society this would be unpardonable, in Joseph's time it was probably not as critical from a Constitution point of view. But it was a stupid move in any case.
Kirtland Financial Crisis - Joseph, Joseph, Joseph, what were you thinking.
Spiritual Eyes vs. Actual Vision - psychology is simply fascinating, but it is not reality. Spiritual experiences are great, but they are just that - experiences. Not to be taken literally.
Different Accounts of the First Vision - I don't buy into the notion of "different purposes" nonsense. I think it more likely Joseph could spin a tale!!
The "real" origin of The Word of Wisdom - ? ooh I need to look into this
Quakers on the Moon - oh brother, when will religions learn to stick with the untestable hypotheses. If you go up against science you will undoubtedly lose. Science 1,000,000,001 - Religion 0
The lost 116 pages - this is indeed convenient
Solomon Spaulding - I dunno about this one. The theory is interesting and helps explain the story much more plausibly but there is little evidence for it.
Philastus Hurlbut - not very reliable in my opinion

Incidentally I would have liked to see a few more things on the list.
1. Book of Mormon changes
2. Doctrince and Covenants changes
3. Priesthood restoration
4. theocracy
Last edited by jmb275 on 28 Apr 2009, 16:03, edited 1 time in total.
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)

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Historic Mormon Conundrums - one sentence thoughts.

Post by hawkgrrrl » 28 Apr 2009, 15:28

Destruction of The Nauvoo Expositor - while in today's society this would be unpardonable, in Joseph's time it was probably not as critical from a Constitution point of view. But it was a stupid move in any case.
This is one of those where he was probably a dead man either way. Basically things had gone too far.

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Re: Historic Mormon Conundrums - one sentence thoughts.

Post by Gabe P » 28 Apr 2009, 18:35

The lost 116 pages - Religious experiences can't be reproduced on demand, which is a powerful argument for taking them with a large grain of salt.

Brigham Young - A dynamic leader who did what was required.

Mountain Meadows - We actually have apologized, JMB. Unless you want an official acknowledgment that it was ordered from the top down, which isn't certain and certainly won't ever be admitted.

Spiritual Eyes vs. Actual Vision - Sometimes, actual vision doesn't produce the results you need, whether it actively contradicts what you want or is just silent. I've never heard someone have a revelation that actually causes them to rethink anything of much importance.

The fact that prophets no longer testify of actually talking/seeing/speaking with God - I think this is because they lie less now.

Jackson County - Well, Zion is where you make it, and that's where they were at the time.

Different Accounts of the First Vision - I don't see how this is all that damning an argument except insofar as it shows what we should already know: you simply can't trust uncorroborated memories, regardless of who comes up with them.

Priesthood restoration - Our view of this doctrine actually makes sense, if you're willing to accept the idea of divine messengers ordaining anybody.

The means of translating the BOM - This issue doesn't matter to me. The Church-approved vision and what actually happened are basically the same: JS got the book through supernatural means. Either you believe that or you don't.

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Re: Historic Mormon Conundrums - one sentence thoughts.

Post by jmb275 » 28 Apr 2009, 20:56

Gabe P wrote: We actually have apologized, JMB. Unless you want an official acknowledgment that it was ordered from the top down, which isn't certain and certainly won't ever be admitted.
Yes, I actually should not have been so quick to write that. You're right. I have read Elder Oaks interview with PBS and he is very sympathetic. And yes, we have no certainty it was ordered from the top down. I retract that part.
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)

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Tom Haws
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Re: Historic Mormon Conundrums - one sentence thoughts.

Post by Tom Haws » 29 Apr 2009, 10:06

Gabe P wrote:Spiritual Eyes vs. Actual Vision - Sometimes, actual vision doesn't produce the results you need, whether it actively contradicts what you want or is just silent. I've never heard someone have a revelation that actually causes them to rethink anything of much importance.
@jmb and gabe
I'm going to be the mystic here and testify of revelation. I have had many such revelations. Revelations are not too sacred to share in the Stage 2 sense of the phrase. Rather, they are not translatable to human language in the Stage 5 sense of the phrase. Joseph Smith was a prophet really and truly, just as you can be, and hopefully already are. The transcendent experience is simply impossible to share. It can't be done. Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All." -Jesus Christ, Gospel of Thomas (Valoel's signature). But here's the great secret and balancer: the reality of you two as humans like myself is equally as great as the transcendent reality I see in revelation. Revelation cannot trump the humanity/divinity of you two (and your 6,000,000,000 sisters and brothers).
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
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Re: Historic Mormon Conundrums - one sentence thoughts.

Post by Gabe P » 29 Apr 2009, 11:38

Yeah, I agree with you on that and wish I could feel that way. It's very difficult for me because I can easily see how "revelations" that I feel I have received can be traced to my self interests, and I see the same thing in others. I do believe there's an ideal better than my experience, I just don't know how to get there (or get closer) right now.

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Re: Historic Mormon Conundrums - one sentence thoughts.

Post by hawkgrrrl » 29 Apr 2009, 12:31

I can easily see how "revelations" that I feel I have received can be traced to my self interests, and I see the same thing in others.
This is a valid question, and here are some thoughts I've read elsewhere on this topic.
- Some have theorized that if a "revelation" doesn't contradict what you already believe, it can't be proven to be a revelation. That's an interesting idea. If it is what you already believe, confirmation bias could certainly be at play.
- If we don't find revelation provocative, maybe we are past feeling or don't "have ears to hear" or to comprehend the real meaning. The scriptures, esp BOM, certainly say this repeatedly.
- If we judge all spiritual input by whether or not it matches our own view, we are discounting the possibility that God's view differs from our own. We limit God to being us on our best day. (Personally I think we all do this - recreate God in our own image).
- Everyone has different "spiritual gifts." The way I see that, some people have a very acute sense of smell. Others are keen optical observers. Likewise, spiritually, some have meaningful dreams. Some have strong emotional responses to information that is presented. Others are able to discern people's intentions. We don't all have the same qualities or traits. Some traits lend themselves to different situations (e.g. you can't use your ability to discern people's intentions to translate ancient records).
- I tend to think that "revelation" should be just that - the uncovering of something hidden. In which case, it could be in our self-interest or not.

What if "revelation" is really just uncovering things within us that are hidden?

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