Michael De Groote explains MDL (Mormon Defense League) | Daniel Peterson Open Thread

Fight Club was the beginning, now it’s moved out of the basement, it’s called Project Mayhem.T. Durden

There is a concern that public affairs, or the urge to be attractive, goes too far toward assimilation. You strain out anything that would be unusual. And for many Mormons its the distinctive, far-out beliefs that are the most exciting part of their religion.R. Bushman
Im not so much interested in compiling a list of these underground doctrines, but Im very interested in hearing why you think they persist, why people insist on perpetuating them, and, more than anything, your suggestions for stamping them out, or at least firmly branding them as dead historical artifacts.A. Parshall

You know, any time somebody starts talking about “brackets” your first instinct needs to be to read between the bs and figure out what kind of racket they’re running.G. Beck

Hardys bracketing of the historical question is neither caprice nor cowardice, as it often is in defensive treatments of the Book of Mormon.R. Welch
I caution against putting a copy under the tree for every LDS relative on your Christmas list as the books candid discussion of certain textual problems with the Book of Mormon is a bit much for the uninitiated.D. Banack

I can’t tell if Bushman is Brad Pitt and Parshall is Edward Norton, or the other way around, but Welch is clearly Tyler Durden as she urges courage on “The Narrator” in this outr scenario of mine in which I’m casting the contemporary Mormon commentariat as the split-personality protagonist(s) of Fight Club.

And since I’m already riffing on movies, I might as well mention that this latest from the Mormon blogs…

Sometimes I wish I was more ignorant and less conscious of the problems and questions related to the church so that I could function as a normal uncomplicated member.Jake

…triggers a Tarantino flashback:

I don’t wanna be here. I wanna go home. I wish somebody would just come and get me ’cause I don’t like this. This is not what I thought it would be. And I wish somebody would just take me away. Just take me away. Come and get me. ‘Cause I don’t like this anymore. I can’t take this. I’m sorry but I just can’t. So, if somebody would just come to my rescue, everything would be alright.Elliot

And for fans of The Office:

They used props and they used visual aids and they just made us look like dopes.Michael

So, with no further ado, M. De Groote’s segment starts around 1:22 in this Deseret News “Daily Briefing”:

Hey MDG, here’s a better visual analogy for ya’ (not that I didn’t enjoy the hand puppet, that was awesome).

Does MDL really want to step into this hot mess of Mormonism’s own making?

P.S. Apparently, the folks who got a preview of this post on my Facebook page think it needs more analysis, less free association and none of the apoplexy. They’re probably right, but mostly I just wanted an excuse to post that Deseret News clip together with the animated GIF of Ed Norton punching himself in the face. But hey, admittedly, I’ve got nothing that tops De Groote’s props and I’d simply object that FAIR/MDL are the real prehistoric pugilistic puppets, not “the media” and certainly not me (or any exmos I know).

P.P.S. Internet-savvy BCC blogger Kyle M weighs in:

Ill join with the WaPo reporter in criticizing some of the churchs more brute-force online tactics …

Our marketing tactics need to reflect the core principles of our brand, especially because online, the marketing tactics largely ARE the brand. If we engage in shady astroturfing, link networks, comment wars, and an overall strategy of shouting down or burying every dissenting voice, thats what well be known for online. If we feel the need to lash out and defend ourselves against every silly criticism, we will be associated with defensiveness.

Mormon Defense League

“Because the Internet doesn’t hand out blue ribbons to just anybody.”

Chino Blanco

--- We are men of action, lies do not become us. ---

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10 Responses

  1. chanson says:

    I like the free association. It’s a fun collection of quotes (and posts and articles) that have interesting connections with one another.

  2. Chino Blanco says:

    Thanks, but I figure it’s still a pretty convoluted way to point out that one result of ‘nacle Mormons arguing (both stridently1 and subtly2) against candor is that you’ll wind up with LDS bloggers praying out loud3 for God to grant them a lobotomy.

    Update: I just noticed that a four-part video of a new Mormon Stories sit-down with Daniel Peterson has been posted. I’ve never paid any real attention to Mormon apologists and this will be my first time watching DCP in action, so I’ll probably be back later with some comments about that.

  3. True Order of Hair says:

    Was that a puppet or one of those new “testimony glove” thingies?

  4. Chino Blanco says:

    Definitely some random dinosaur hand puppet. My Deseret Book mailer arrived at the office this week with an ad for the Testimony Glove, so I’d recognize it if that’s what it was.

  5. Chino Blanco says:

    Just listened to the first two DCP video clips. “Live blogging” notes:

    FYI: Part 1 of 4 can be safely skipped (it’s mostly biographical)

    Notes on Part 2:

    Leo Strauss gets a mention, I’m assuming he’s a fan. DCP’s position on I/P issue sounds sane for a conservative LDS. FARMS not out to prove anything, more interested in establishing enough plausibility so that “You don’t have to crucify your mind to be a believer.” Then holds up BOM witnesses as good evidence after briefly mentioning “cumulative” evidence that FARMS has gathered. Hmmm. The segue seems like a leap back to a time prior to any accumulation and back to arguing murky competing claims. Interested in having someone try to make a set of gold plates in order to understand the process (which strikes me as a not particularly useful or interesting undertaking). He sees similarities between Mohammed and Joseph Smith, ponders that no evidence outside both of their subjective experience, except for the plates. Ahhh, now I understand why nailing down existence of material proof of plates matters to DCP, it’s the only distinction between Islam and Mormon origins.

    Now getting into literary crit. Analysis suffers from DCP’s speciality which is not really applicable to 19th century American production. Fallback is benefit of the doubt, God of the gaps position.

    On to Joseph Smith polygamy. In isolation, it makes JS look bad. Argues our POV is warped by lack of personal familiarity with JS and possibility he badly handled introduction of the principle due to radical nature of the commandment. “If JS is pretending to be pious, man, he’s good.”

    DCP comes out as proponent of inoculation. Members need to read more. Somehow people get that old in the church and then all of a sudden they find something that rattles them, info that’s been published in LDS mags. On the other hand, “it is true that we don’t always tell the whole story.” JS Papers, MMM books, RSR, are a step forward and sign of maturity.

    Dan W. starts naming names of researchers (Quinn, Palmer, Brooks) who’ve been attacked by apologists and asks DCP what’s up with that. DCP says he’s very “libertarian” in allowing other apologists to publish (and seems like he’s distancing himself from their attacks).

    Dan W. asking some important questions now about editorial policy at Maxwell Institute/FARMS. Tension between DCP’s competing “bully pulpit” and “free exchange of ideas” positions regarding the apologetic enterprise. “Can we improve our tone? Probably so.” But DCP says he’s held back nasty personal details regarding his opponents because he’s such a swell guy. Weak but in line with DCP defense of rhetorical back-and-forth over cleaner scholarly approach.

    MMM fascinating because perpetrators were “good people” before and after the massacre. Brings up Hannah Arendt. Kinda creepy in the context b/c it leaves open the question of whether DCP or Mormons ought to presume to disavow such atrocities.

    On to DNA. Iceland genetic trail is lost. Compare to Mesoamrica? (wow, unconvincing). Dan W. brings up how official church doesn’t touch any of this. Where does that leave FARMS speculation? Is it rejecting early LDS prophets? DCP suggests not reading former prophets too closely or assuming inerrancy. Statements that affirm historicity of BOM are OK, contradictory/problematic utterances not important (apparently).

    Around the one hour mark now. If you’re going to jump in and listen, this is a good place to start, as things will begin to get interesting. DCP: “I don’t think that the Brethren are led at every moment by God … a lot of the time they are left to struggle with problems.” Pilot church programs, for example. “I believe that God is playing a three-dimensional chess game.” God is working both inside and outside the LDS church.

    DCP: “I can see the future.” Ergo, if I can, prophets can, too.
    What about Joseph Smith being prophesied in ancient scripture. DCP ascribes to Blake Ostler’s view regarding a future that’s not fixed. God makes things happen in the future through his power, some scripture is God telegraphing his intentions, not a set future. Starting to sound very Straussian?


  6. Paula says:

    As someone who grew up in a very Jewish area and who was a moderator on an LDS discussion forum when “discussions” (heated battles?) over proxy baptisms of Holocaust survivors, I see Mormon Defense League as a poor choice of name. But of course defending yourself against being made fun of on Broadway is very serious stuff.

  7. Chino Blanco says:

    It looks like at least one Internet-savvy Mormon (this BCC permablogger) agrees with you, Paula. I suspect a consensus will be forming soon and something’s gonna give.

  8. chanson says:

    Chino — I admire your perseverance. I started watching part II, and I’ve gotten about 13 minutes in. I don’t object to anything DKL has said so far, but (I’m ashamed to admit) I find it a tad boring. Maybe I’ll watch the rest tomorrow…

  9. kuri says:

    I agree with Paula. I get the sense that one of the members heard the name Jewish Defense League somewhere and thought, “Hey, that sounds pretty cool” without ever bothering to find out that the JDL was a violent group (arguably even a terrorist organization). It’s a terrible, terrible name.

  10. Chino Blanco says:

    It truly was an inspired choice. Here’s a tidbit from the Wikipedia page of the guy (Bill Donohue) who runs the Catholic League:

    On April 4, 2007, South Park parodied Donohue in the eleventh season episode “Fantastic Easter Special” as a power-hungry official of the Catholic Church who overthrows the Pope and sentences Jesus (“The Jew”) to death for going against him and contradicting Catholic belief. In the show, the fictional Donohue calls Stan and Kyle “whores,” a reference to his description of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Subsequently, Jesus kills Donohue.

    Oh my. What a tangled web we weave.

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