LDS Doubt in the NY Times

Europe Hypocrisy LDS History loss of faith

Well, this should be interesting.  The NY Times has a story published on the web yesterday discussing the ongoing brouhaha in Sweden involving members who have had a crisis of faith. There is a bullet-pointed list of major concerns:

–  Why does the church always portray Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon from golden plates, when witnesses described him looking down into a hat at a “peep stone,” a rock that he believed helped him find buried treasure?

–  Why were black men excluded from the priesthood from the mid-1800s until 1978?

–  Why did Smith claim that the Book of Abraham, a core scripture, was a translation of ancient writings from the Hebrew patriarch Abraham, when Egyptologists now identify the papyrus that Smith used in the translation as a common funerary scroll that has nothing to do with Abraham?

–  Is it true that Smith took dozens of wives, some as young as 14 and some already wed to other Mormon leaders, to the great pain of his first wife, Emma?

There’s also a video interview with former Swedish area authority Hans Mattsson in which he says, “What I felt kind of sad about, and I felt I didn’t really like, was that they said that you’re not supposed to talk to your wife, your children; you don’t talk about these issues in church.”

The story isn’t exactly news for anyone here, but it is news that the matter is getting such high-profile attention.

Comments?

63 thoughts on “LDS Doubt in the NY Times

  1. Just articulated something in another discussion that I want to share here:

    I am always a bit stunned when lifelong members say they’ve never heard of JS’s polygamy. We had frank discussions not only of polygamy but polyandry in seminary.

    Of course, I grew in a small Mormon town in Arizona where they buried one of the guys scapegoated for the Mountain Meadow Massacre, which we also discussed in seminary, while at home we discussed the fact that one of my great-great-grandfathers left the church over it. I grew up attending family reunions with the descendents of all seven wives of another great-great-grandfather, and had plenty of friends and classmates from similar backgrounds. It was hard to hide church history from us, given that our ancestors had created it and had talked about it to people who were still alive. I might not have known my polygamous great-great-grandfathers, but my grandparents did, and I knew them.

  2. Information and critical thinking are the greatest enemies of religion. My own deconversion came about with the lack of archaeology showing great cities and civilizations in America. The BoM has been changed over 200 times, the latest to reflect the lack of genetic evidence that American Indians are not from Israel, but China. Joseph Smith served time for fraud as a gold speculator etc. The more you look at not just Mormonism but religion in general, the less relevant it becomes.

  3. I was talking the other day with a friend about how much the appeal of Mormonism south of the US border has to do with how the mythology allows for an embracing of a Christianity for the Western hemisphere. The BoM allows people to imagine Jesus in the Americas and the “Lamanite” identity, which can have a greater appeal than locating everything to the Middle East. But I’ve often wondered how Mormonism gets read in places like Russia or countries in Europe (e.g, Sweden) or Japan, where America’s racial and kinship history is going to have a much different “foreign” read. The aspects that we don’t teach here [in America] to ward off uncomfortable history appear to others as basic misinformation.

    Boyd Packer once faulted “intellectuals/historians” for being faith-crushing because they introduce people to truths their fledgling faiths cannot handle. Therefore, he’s suggesting that intellectuals often have a bad ethics. But really, I wonder if you strip away all the conditioning/half-truths that goes into making Mormonism believable whether the faith could even stand on its own. The Church is stuck with a book and a prophet who they can never fully embrace.

  4. By interesting coincidence, LDS.org is rolling out a new safe search engine!

    The search engine doesn’t just search LDS.org, however. It will also search through content on more than 20 other official Church websites such as mormon.org or josephsmithpapers.org.

  5. @4: that’s interesting. So people can search a variety of sites without wandering into the dangerous, uncorrelated territory that is google.

  6. @5 Yeah, their selling point is that (since it’s powered by Google) it will return all of the same results as Google, in the same order, from all of the many sites owned and operated by the CoJCoL-dS — without returning any of those dangerous results from sites not owned and operated by the CoJCoL-dS. They specifically list “links to members’ personal blogs” as something they’ll be protecting you from accidentally stumbling upon…

  7. “The Roman Catholic Church has had 2,000 years to work through the hiccups in its history,” said Terryl L. Givens, a professor of English, literature and religion at the University of Richmond and a Mormon believer. “Mormonism is still an adolescent religion.”

    BYU professor Robert Millet made the same point a few years ago when interview by Krista Tippett on NPR.

    Doesn’t the Church directed by the Lord have 15 anointed prophets to receive revelations and guidance on administering the Kingdom? Why would anyone appeal for time to work out the kinks and hiccups? Why especially would anyone compare the restored church to the priesthoodless Catholic church?

  8. The comparison with “a Catholic cardinal suddenly going to the media and saying about his own church, ‘I don’t buy a lot of this stuff,’” is interesting. One difference is that everybody already knows the issues with the Catholic church.

    According to Bushman:

    In the last 10 or 15 years, he said, “the church has come to realize that transparency and candor and historical accuracy are really the only way to go.”

    Sort of, but really, I don’t think “the church” realized anything.

    One of the biggest problems with the CoJCoL-dS is the combination of a strict hierarchy with a complete lack of real leadership. So some groups or individuals within the church have realized that transparency is good, but (as we see from the new google filter I linked @4) other currents are clinging firmly to the old strategy of information control + shoot the messenger + (when the information does get through) blame the person for being upset by the new information.

  9. Doesn’t the Church directed by the Lord have 15 anointed prophets to receive revelations and guidance on administering the Kingdom?

    No kidding. You’d think a bunch of guys blessed with prophetic powers would have done a better job of anticipating and preparing for what the world would be like in the 21st century.

    One of the biggest problems with the CoJCoL-dS is the combination of a strict hierarchy with a complete lack of real leadership.

    This is a very good point. That gerontocracy really is not working for them. the cojcolds rivals congress in its incompetence and inability to address the problems it actually faces.

  10. RE:

    The story isn’t exactly news for anyone here, but it is news that the matter is getting such high-profile attention.

    John-Charles Duffy has written a short piece on this that opens up some interesting questions.

    He writes:

    I should interject here that to me, this story is utterly mundane. A headline reading “Some Mormons Search the Web and Find Doubt” strikes me as being more or less like a headline reading “Some Farmers in Florida Grow Oranges.” Or maybe “Some People Surf the Web to Find Porn.” Who is surprised by these facts?

  11. Who is surprised by these facts?

    First of all, while the fact that some people look at porn online might not be news, information about which specific people consume the most online porn might very well be news. The same goes for information about their habits of consumption. You know: like the fact that Utah has the highest rate of online porn consumption, but it drops dramatically every Sunday.

    Likewise,there could easily be developments in citrus farming that people would want to know about.

    So there are problems right there with John-Charles’s basic analogy.

    Second, headlines are hard. They are entirely different entities from the stories they accompany, written by different people at different times, and the headline in the print edition might well have changed because of space considerations. Headlines about situations are often not as revealing as headlines about events: “Many Americans consume online porn” vs. “JFK Shot in Dallas.”

    Third, I’ll admit again that neither the story nor the headline will be particularly surprising to people like us.

    But I think that one of the reasons Mormonism is interesting to a general audience is that most people are fascinated and weirded out by the stuff Mormons actually believe. They show up at your door wanting to talk to you about the crazy shit they think will get them into heaven, and they seem impervious to reason when you raise objections: they just sit their in their dingy white shirts, ugly ties and practical shoes and offer you utterly ridiculous logic defending utterly absurd doctrines.

    And yet, they’re really committed education and not inherently stupid people.

    So a story discussing what happens when at least some of them get online and encounter thorough debunkings of ideas they’ve based their lives on? And that some of them managed to rise to very high levels of leadership without knowing fundamental elements of church history? And that once they learn this stuff, rather than dig in their heels and persist in the way they behaved in their 20s and just believing what they were told, they go, “Oh, wow. This really does sound like nonsense”? And that they’re not just disgusted with themselves for having been duped, but angry at the church for deceiving them? And that they write letters to church authorities and get meetings with high-level authorities who can’t provide good answers? And that with all this going on, the church STILL claims to have 14,000,000 members?

    Yeah. I’d say that’s news. I’d say it’s pretty big news. John-Charles is thinking like a Mormon here, not an independent scholar of religion.

  12. in other words, while I still think that JC is coming at this from too Mormon a lens, and I don’t think that any of his hypotheses about the interest of “the editors of the New York Times and their imagined readership” in this story really hit the mark, I think this one

    Does this story function to marginalize Mormonism culturally by reminding readers of an elite newspaper how incredible Mormon claims are?

    comes closest in that it deals with the fundamental silliness of Mormon belief. I don’t think it marginalizes Mormons as much as it humanizes them–they’re not impervious to reason after all, and they can be made to see that their claims are indeed incredible.

    And I will just add that I find it irritating and irresponsible to publish even a blog post that states, “I’m thinking on my feet, this is all very rudimentary, but let me brainstorm a few hypotheses.” Wait a few hours, dude, and see if your ideas get any better! That’s part of the beauty of being the person who gets to hit the publish button on the OP: you can think about it for longer than in the comment section.

  13. One other thing: this

    I understand why the developments discussed in this story are important for liberalish Mormons who are trying to promote new discourses within their movement, new ways of discussing Mormon history or defining the bounds of institutionally acceptable Mormon belief.

    rather painfully ignores the fact that so many people who JC describes as “liberalish Mormons” didn’t start out that way but were instead TBMs. It’s not like most people originally come at this problem in some way that is “liberalish.” They tend to be become liberalish as they confront the problem, because a more “conservativish” approach doesn’t work.

  14. btw, did people see the Meridian response? It was pretty hysterical. The author actually suggests that the absolute absence of any doctrinal basis for the ban on black men holding the priesthood is somehow anything but an embarrassment and an insult to everyone who ever trusted that the “doctrines” of the church were actually based in, you know, doctrine. When really it means that for over 100 years, the church had a completely wrong, racist doctrine that all sorts of people were saying was god’s eternal will even though 1) no one could explain where it came from, 2) it caused all sorts of heartache, and 3) made the church look bad. Is that really what you expect from a bunch of men with the powers of prophecy who talk directly to god?

    The Meridian piece prompted this response on Rational Faiths, pointing out that South Park gets church history more accurate than the church itself.

    And finally, I found this subtitled video of Hitler learning about church history pretty darn funny.

  15. So a story discussing what happens when at least some of them get online and encounter thorough debunkings of ideas they’ve based their lives on? And that some of them managed to rise to very high levels of leadership without knowing fundamental elements of church history? And that once they learn this stuff, rather than dig in their heels and persist in the way they behaved in their 20s and just believing what they were told, they go, “Oh, wow. This really does sound like nonsense”? And that they’re not just disgusted with themselves for having been duped, but angry at the church for deceiving them? And that they write letters to church authorities and get meetings with high-level authorities who can’t provide good answers? And that with all this going on, the church STILL claims to have 14,000,000 members?

    Yeah. I’d say that’s news.

    me too.

  16. the church STILL claims to have 14,000,000 members?

    I don’t know whether there truly is an exodus from the Church, or whether things are relatively stable. I think an opinion on that kind of determines how one reads the article.

    If you look at the comments below the article, I can kinda see where JCD is coming from in his yawning. So many comments are basically like, “Sure there are these historical issues, but we don’t care cuz Mormonism is a good force in the world.” Or “the doubt can be resolved with better personal study” (AKA the leadership is not at fault).

    This particular comment made me think to myself, “Nothing’s different than before”:

    The fact that Brother Mattson and his Wife have not left the Church, even with all the doubt, is indicative that maybe there is something there.

    When Christ was on the earth, He preached unique principles, performed miracles, loved even His enemies… and yet He was so hated that He was tortured and put to death.

    We need to be careful persecuting the religious beliefs of a people whose works are so impressive that if the whole world lived them, there would be peace, happiness, success, harmony, and overall well-being.

  17. Basically, I’m not sure that Mormon history can bring down Mormonism. The faith is unique in its emphasis on 19th c. history, sure, but in the end, I don’t know that the history is the base holding up the structure. Particularly, if we look at the faith overseas… things like JS’s polygamy or the ban on black male ordination just become “Oh, that’s just American context stuff….bumps in the road. Now the faith is international and more perfect.” Or even in the US, I think it gets read this way. A progress narrative that feeds the faith.

  18. I don’t know whether there truly is an exodus from the Church

    Marlin Jensen says there is.

    or whether things are relatively stable.

    Regardless of any stability, most observers agree that the claim of 14,000,000 is inflated. Estimates vary as to what the number of active members actually is, with some people suggesting it’s around 5,000,000 and others suggesting that 7,000,000 is realistic. But basically only people who believe that Joseph Smith actually translated the BOM also accept the 14,000,000 number as an accurate reflection of how many people accept the church’s truth claims.

    I can kinda see where JCD is coming from in his yawning.

    Sure. I can see where he’s coming from. I just think both where he’s coming from and where he ends up are wrong. I think it’s borne of the same impulse that prompts this comment:

    We need to be careful persecuting the religious beliefs of a people whose works are so impressive that if the whole world lived them, there would be peace, happiness, success, harmony, and overall well-being.

    As so often happens, criticism is conflated with persecution. Mormons feel SO persecuted and can’t understand why everyone doesn’t want to be just like them. I think JC is expressing at least in part the very Mormon sense that any discussion of Mormon that isn’t flattering must be somehow persecutory in its impulse–hence the fact that the first hypothesis he comes up with is that “the story function[s] to marginalize Mormonism culturally by reminding readers of an elite newspaper how incredible Mormon claims are.”

    Basically, I’m not sure that Mormon history can bring down Mormonism.

    Well, OK…. who says it can? Where has that argument been made, that church history will or even can destroy the cojcolds?

    Frankly I rather doubt that it can myself. And in fact part of what people are saying is that it’s not the history itself that is so very troubling, but the church’s misrepresentations and coverups of the history.

    Coverups are a separate problem from whatever it is they’re covering up. See: Watergate. In fact, they can render something that was fairly innocent a crime. A guy dies at home of a heart attack, and rather than report it to the police, someone dumps his body in a river. That’s bad. That’s lying. That’s criminal.

    People don’t like being lied to. I think yawning at that is pretty damn naive, pretty damn condescending–and pretty damn Mormon.

    Or even in the US, I think it gets read this way. A progress narrative that feeds the faith.

    Right. That’s certainly the goal of the church. And people are suggesting that this would happen more easily for more people if the church did not lie so often and so extensively about its history.

  19. also, this:

    Particularly, if we look at the faith overseas… things like JS’s polygamy or the ban on black male ordination just become “Oh, that’s just American context stuff….bumps in the road. Now the faith is international and more perfect.”

    That may be true for a small minority. But let’s not forget that censuses indicate that about three fourths of the people who join overseas go inactive–often pretty darn quickly. The exceedingly low retention rate was one of the things we struggled with in my mission. This has always been a problem, and anything that could exacerbate it is very bad news. It was always depressing to baptize someone and have them stop coming to church within about six weeks, but it happened over and over and over again–often before the new members found out anything at all about church history. The church didn’t even offer them enough in terms of meaningful spirituality or social interactions that they would stick around long enough to study the history.

  20. Coverups are a separate problem from whatever it is they’re covering up.

    Actually, now that I think about it, what’s remarkable about JCD’s post is that there’s really no discussion of the Church’s ethics at all, as if the NYT’s article doesn’t touch that topic — like the “doubt” is not caused by bad ethics, but must be at its source a question of the truth or falsity of the theology itself. Basically, the hierarchy’s actions are not an important question for him… maybe this is because he might not agree with the description of the Church as engaging in a “coverup?” I dunno.

    I noticed in the comments of the article were a number of Mormons who were surprised about the ignorance of polygamy. A lot of Mormons are in the know of their ancestors’ polygamy and almost embrace it as a kind of ancestral quirkiness. So, when they read about someone’s doubt on the matter, they don’t think of the Church as “lying.”

    Maybe it was around the 1960s or so (?) that enough people had died off that polygamy was no longer strongly in collective memory and the Church could change the curriculum to un-teach it as “Mormon” history. And now this choice is coming back to haunt them in the digital age. But to call this policy choice “lying”…it seems more folks say, “Well, we’re not polygamous anymore, so why concentrate on that? Other faiths don’t teach what they believed in the 19th century. So, why should we?”

    IOW, neither the actual history or the un-teaching of it (or “lying”) seems to affect people that much, unfortunately. Those who are affected, even leave over such things aren’t seen as only spiritual weaklings, but also lacking common sense. Jensen tells the story of his daughter asking him: “Why didn’t you teach me about JS’s polygamy?!” and he simply answers, “I didn’t really think it was that important.”

    The effect is that the daughter learns from the father that it’s just “not really that important.” And because it’s not that important, the “lie” is instantly forgiven.

    The exceedingly low retention rate was one of the things we struggled with in my mission.

    I just wish there were hard numbers on rates by country. The Lamanite mythology makes Mormonism appealing in the Americas, but elsewhere, free English (paired with the economic appeal of English) is the biggest pull. Every year temples are built south of the US border, but the mythology of the BoM is, IMO, destined to implode eventually because it’s inherently unethical.

  21. Actually, now that I think about it, what’s remarkable about JCD’s post is that there’s really no discussion of the Church’s ethics at all, as if the NYT’s article doesn’t touch that topic

    Yes, this is a good point. It’s part of why I say I think he doesn’t get how important the “liberalish” stance he dismisses really is.

    I noticed in the comments of the article were a number of Mormons who were surprised about the ignorance of polygamy. A lot of Mormons are in the know of their ancestors’ polygamy and almost embrace it as a kind of ancestral quirkiness. So, when they read about someone’s doubt on the matter, they don’t think of the Church as “lying.”

    Maybe…. I made a comment about that, @1…. But just because I am surprised that others–including Marlin Jensen’s daughter–managed to grow up in the church and not know about polygamy doesn’t mean that I can’t tell that the church lies about polygamy–and yes, I do think it’s lying. Brigham Young’s marital status is pretty thoroughly whitewashed in the tours at the Lion House, or in the little graveyard on First Avenue not too far from the temple where he and several of his wives are buried.

    But to call this policy choice “lying”…it seems more folks say, “Well, we’re not polygamous anymore, so why concentrate on that? Other faiths don’t teach what they believed in the 19th century. So, why should we?”

    Alan, one of the points feminists make about the problems with gender in the church is that polygamy is still an official doctrine. It’s not like the church has renounced D&C 132. And there’s the difference between a sealing cancellation, or temple divorce, which is what women have to get before they can be sealed in the temple to a second husband, while all men have to get is a sealing clearance, or permission for a second sealing that leaves the first one intact. And the idea of the sealing clearance for men didn’t come along until the 1990s or so–before that, all a man needed to have as many women sealed to him as would agree to it was a temple recommend.

    So while the church might not practice polygamy, the doctrine of it is still very much alive, in that men can be sealed to multiple women with the expectation that they will be married to all of them in the next life. However, the church wants to pretend that that’s not the case, that polygamy is entirely a thing of the past. Instead, it’s very much alive. And I think deliberately issuing misleading statements on that topic is lying.

    IOW, neither the actual history or the un-teaching of it (or “lying”) seems to affect people that much, unfortunately.

    Where on earth are you getting this? Half the North American membership of the church has gone inactive and a bunch more have had their names removed from the records of the church and many of these people say that this dishonesty is a problem, and your response is that it doesn’t “seem to affect people that much, unfortunately”?

    The effect is that the daughter learns from the father that it’s just “not really that important.” And because it’s not that important, the “lie” is instantly forgiven.

    Huh?
    You’re assuming that Jensen’s answer was a sufficient explanation for her. Do you have any reason for doing so? In the Q&A where he tells the story, he gives no indication of what her response was. Do you have any evidence at all, perhaps gathered elsewhere, that this was her response?

    IF not, I don’t think such an assumption is safe, especially since the point of the NY Times article, after all, is that such an answer is often NOT sufficient, that people DO feel deceived, and that the lie is perceived as such and is NOT forgiven.

    I just wish there were hard numbers on rates by country. The Lamanite mythology makes Mormonism appealing in the Americas, but elsewhere, free English (paired with the economic appeal of English) is the biggest pull.

    And your source for this information in the second sentence is…what?

    I don’t have numbers for my mission, but I did spend hours and hours and days and days and weeks and weeks and months and months trying to track down inactive members. There were A LOT of them, and my mission had only been opened for, oh, maybe 30 years? Maybe 25? It’s not like it was an especially high-baptizing mission to begin with.

    And I actually taught English classes, and quite enjoyed it–until our mission president shut them down, in part because he thought we should be out tracting in the evening and in part because the wards resented having to pay the electric bill to keep the chapel open twice a week for the classes. I know that his successor didn’t reinstate them.

    Also, there are many missions where there are relatively few non-native speakers, where even if English might be a draw, there aren’t that many people who speak it. I know plenty of people who served even in the 1980s who had relatively few North American companions, because the mission they served in was staffed almost entirely by natives. I’m sure it’s even more frequent now.

    And you do realize also that the church sends missionaries to a lot of countries where they already speaking English, right? Uganda, Trinidad, Ghana? And places where the US doesn’t have that much economic appeal–western Europe, parts of Asia?

    So before we got specific numbers of retention rates in individual countries, just getting an accurate grasp on what actually goes on in the mission field could be very useful for you.

  22. Looking at all the angst displayed by many women who comment on polygamy posts in the Bloggancle, I’m guessing that what many daughters learn from their fathers is the importance of burying the eternal spectral of polygamy deep within them.
    D&C 132 is canonized and many men, including current apostles, are sealed to more than one woman.
    Having a doctrine that cements the subordinate position of women to men is important.
    And Church leaders and/or culture requiring quiet acquiescence does not mean things are forgotten or forgiven.

  23. @22: Amen.
    Similarly, just because women decide for various reasons to stay in the church after hearing their fathers and husbands go on and on about how husbands and wives are equal partners in God’s eternal plan, yada yada freaking la di da, all while these men are quietly protecting and participating in the doctrine of eternal polygamy, doesn’t mean women don’t feel they’ve been deliberately deceived and deeply betrayed. Many do.

  24. and yes, I do think it’s lying

    I do, too. I think http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/ is important for “acknowledging and remembering largely forgotten women” who somewhere along the way became inconvenient for the Church. It’s an omission that becomes a lie: e.g., any situation that celebrates JS’s marriage to Emma while failing to mention his other wives, any depiction of early Mormon families that paints a false picture.

    But still, I don’t think a large majority feels this way on the matter — that it’s a “lie” — certainly not half of the North American membership who is inactive (more on this number below). If they know about the polygamy, many likely see it as a reasonable omission given that the practice ended officially (leaving residual doctrine, which I’m sure many don’t know about) in 1890.

    You’re assuming that Jensen’s answer was a sufficient explanation for her. Do you have any reason for doing so?

    Child psychology. If you tell a 10-year-old that Joseph Smith used a “peep stone” to translate the Book of Mormon, s/he’ll think that’s neat. But if someone finds out online at age 50, they’ll wonder why they were lied to. Jensen’s daughter was young enough that I doubt polygamy will break her faith. If you think man+woman marriage is an eternal principle, polygamy will bother you at any age (particularly if the founder of your religion practiced it), but if you’re open to the fact that marriage has taken different forms at different eras, then it’s not hard to imagine that marriage took a different form for some people 150 years ago (even the founder of one’s religion).

    I don’t have much else to say on the retention matter, except that what you say about the situation overseas, that Mormonism doesn’t offer folks meaningful spirituality or social interaction (to the extent that they don’t even delve into the history), probably goes a long way to explain the retention rates in the US, too — probably more than the “lies.” For JS’s polygamy to qualify as a “lie,” a person would have to be invested enough for it to hurt.

  25. But still, I don’t think a large majority feels this way on the matter — that it’s a “lie” — certainly not half of the North American membership who is inactive

    And your reason for thinking this is….what? Anything at all besides conjecture?

    First of all, I have plenty of relatives who are very faithful TBMs who feel the church is less than honest in its approach to history. Some of them have felt that way for decades. They might not be upset enough to leave, all things considered, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t see the deception as lies or that it doesn’t piss them off and undermine their faith.

    Second, give people time, Alan. Remember, this is a situation and a process, not an event. I remember this guy showed up on my blog in the fall of 2007, commenting about how much he loved the temple, blah blah, announcing his Mormonness in his online name itself.

    And three years later, he left the church. He told me later after the fact that he was leaving all sorts of faithful comments on various blogs as a way to stave off his faith crisis, but couldn’t stop reading things like my blog. And yes, the deception of the church was a factor. Who knows what percentage of the church will be inactive in 2020, or have had their names removed? Who knows how many people who currently appear to be TBM are actually very bugged themselves by all this history business, to the point where they will leave or consider leaving in the next few years?

    Third, why are you even arguing this perverse position of yours? Many people are saying, “I left the church because I felt deceived about church history,” even church officials are acknowledging that this is a major problem, and you’re saying, “Nah, I don’t think it’s really a big problem after all”?

    Seriously: what do you know about this situation that the people themselves or the GAs don’t?

    If they know about the polygamy, many likely see it as a reasonable omission given that the practice ended officially (leaving residual doctrine, which I’m sure many don’t know about) in 1890.

    And you justify this opinion…how?
    Lots of people have read D&C 132 and thought through its implications. You clearly hadn’t, but what makes you assume others understand as little about it as you?

    You’re assuming that Jensen’s answer was a sufficient explanation for her. Do you have any reason for doing so?

    Child psychology. If you tell a 10-year-old that Joseph Smith used a “peep stone” to translate the Book of Mormon, s/he’ll think that’s neat.

    First of all, what? Kids are told weird shit all the time and think it’s bizarre and stupid, not neat.

    Second, your reason for assuming that child psychology is relevant to Jensen’s relationship with his daughter when she asked this question is….?

    Have you met Jensen or his daughters?

    I have not, but I did bother to look up enough stuff to learn this: Jensen was born in 1942. He married in 1967. He and his wife have eight children, two sons and six daughters. How old do you think his daughters are? Even assuming that he’s talking about his youngest child (and I wonder if you have any reason for doing so?), who was born in 1988 or 89, how old would that make her now? How do you think one of his daughters, even the youngest, when she was 10, would have found out that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy?

    But if someone finds out online at age 50, they’ll wonder why they were lied to. Jensen’s daughter was young enough that I doubt polygamy will break her faith.

    Again, what makes you say that? Do you know of a surety how old Jensen’s daughter was when the event in question occurred? If not, how do you feel comfortable assuming what her age was?After all, Jensen could easily have a daughter born in 1968; he most likely has at least a couple who are now over 40.

    If you think man+woman marriage is an eternal principle, polygamy will bother you at any age (particularly if the founder of your religion practiced it), but if you’re open to the fact that marriage has taken different forms at different eras, then it’s not hard to imagine that marriage took a different form for some people 150 years ago (even the founder of one’s religion).

    OK! Finally you say something that shows that you might be able to get what’s going on! So. Here’s the thing. 1) The church currently teaches that man+woman marriage is an eternal principle. 2) The church tries to hide the fact that JS practiced polygamy. 3) Learning of this deception and hypocrisy bothers a lot of people.

    But you say elsewhere that it probably doesn’t and won’t bother most people.

    Why?

    that Mormonism doesn’t offer folks meaningful spirituality or social interaction (to the extent that they don’t even delve into the history), probably goes a long way to explain the retention rates in the US, too — probably more than the “lies.”

    Two things. First, the church is a very different institution in places where it has only existed for 15 or 30 or 50 years than in places where it has existed for 183 or 166. That’s not hard to figure out, right? A branch with 16 people is a different social and spiritual experience than a ward with 150 people. (Seriously, Alan: can you imagine at all what a mission outside North and South America is like?)

    Second, many North Americans who leave cite the lies as a reason for their departure.

    But maybe they’re just confused about why they left. Maybe you can mansplain them into seeing that they left for some other reason.

  26. One thing I missed:

    For JS’s polygamy to qualify as a “lie,” a person would have to be invested enough for it to hurt.

    No. Absolutely not. I know plenty of people who just quit attending church who, when they hear about this stuff, say, “Oh, wow, the church I grew up in/spent a couple years as a member of is sure full of crap! Glad I got out when I did.” Their lack of investment renders them somewhat more objective, not utterly indifferent. They can see it quite clearly for what it is and don’t need to put any spin on it at all.

  27. Lots of people have read D&C 132

    Yes, it’s unfortunate how Mormons read their scripture and still don’t know about JS’ polygamy, even though it’s right there.

    I imagine for many it cannot qualify as a lie when it’s right there in the material they supposedly should be reading and studying, but if/when they piece it together/find out, it qualifies as an underemphasis/removal from church curriculum that is irritating (“less than honest” but understandable) — not malicious.

    Why are you fighting this very logical possibility? It’s just like the 1001 passages in the Bible that are underemphasized because they no longer apply to modern day practices. (Though as you said, they do apply.)

    Many people are saying, “I left the church because I felt deceived about church history,” even church officials are acknowledging that this is a major problem, and you’re saying, “Nah, I don’t think it’s really a big problem after all”?

    Two things. First, the church is a very different institution in places where it has only existed for 15 or 30 or 50 years than in places where it has existed for 183 or 166.

    In the long run the history hiccups caused by bad policy choices leading to a culture of “deception” in the digital age will be less important than whether the Church can offer a sustained spiritual milieu at all. The Church exists in a lot more places where it has only existed for a short time. Arguably, the numbers now are that there are more Mormons in these places. And in these places, it’s not just a matter of differing social interactions, but also different reads of Mormon history. So, when I say it’s “not a big problem,” I’m suggesting that even as North Americans cite “history lies” for departing, an Amerocentrism in explaining why Mormons come, stay and/or leave is not good enough.

    Perhaps what is most interesting about the NYT article is this feeling of deception in the Swedish context. But honestly, this feeling of deception is not as important as the Church’s lack of ability to root itself internationally generally.

    Seriously, Alan: can you imagine at all what a mission outside North and South America is like?

    I attended church in Germany for 8 years. Got a sense of the weirdness that is an Americentric church in a foreign country, if that counts.

    Do you know of a surety how old Jensen’s daughter was when the event in question occurred?

    I skimmed here that it was his youngest daughter, which admittedly is not a sure source or a sure age.

    Have you met Jensen or his daughters?

    Have you? It seems you’re pigeonholing her question into a faith crisis, when her tone could’ve been light [as light as his response to her]: “Hey, Dad, just wondering…how come you never told us about JS’ polygamy?”

  28. Why are you fighting this very logical possibility? I

    I am NOT fighting this possibility. Where do I say that it’s impossible or unlikely that people manage to clear the church of any wrong-doing in this matter?

    I readily acknowledge that there are many people who dismiss polygamy as an insignificant artifact.

    But the fact that there are many such people does not change the fact that there are also many people who are extremely troubled by polygamy and the way the church has lied about it.

    Does it?

    I am asking for clarification on your position, Alan, and your reasons for making certain assertions. You offer no evidence. It’s true that I offer anecdotal evidence, but you don’t manage to find even that.

    I’ll ask again: Many people are saying, “I left the church because I felt deceived about church history,” even church officials are acknowledging that this is a major problem, and you’re saying, “Nah, I don’t think it’s really a big problem after all”?

    Seriously: what do you know about this situation that the people themselves or the GAs don’t?

    In the long run the history hiccups caused by bad policy choices leading to a culture of “deception” will be less important than whether the Church can offer a sustained spiritual milieu at all.

    What makes you think that a “culture of ‘deception/” is something separate from “a sustained spiritual milieu”?

    What many people are saying, Alan, is that for them, the “culture of ‘deception'” makes a “sustained spiritual milieu” impossible. It’s not that one is less or more important than the other. It’s that they become the same issue.

    See?

    So, when I say it’s “not a big problem,” I’m suggesting that even as North Americans cite “history lies” for departing, an Amerocentrism in explaining why Mormons come, stay and/or leave is not good enough.

    First, where has anyone but you in this conversation tried to explain why people join the church?

    YOU claimed to know what the appeal was for people outside the US…. And you offered reasons that were pretty “Amerocentric.” No one else here, however, is quite so sure they know the answer to that. So what’s your point about that, really, Alan?

    As for why they leave…. OK, right. So, you ARE going to try to convince people that they haven’t actually left over history lies, even when they say it’s a factor. Well, good luck with that.

    But honestly, this feeling of deception is not as important as the Church’s lack of ability to grow internationally generally.

    What makes you so sure that this sense that the LDS church is not honest about its origins and its past is not a contributing factor in “the church’s lack of ability to grow internationally generally”?

    Have you met Jensen or his daughters?

    Have you?

    Gee, Alan! Why don’t you actually read my comment?

    It seems you’re pigeonholing her question into a faith crisis, when her tone could’ve been light [as light as his response to her]: “Hey, Dad, just wondering…how come you never told us about JS’ polygamy?”

    Precisely how do I “pigeonhole” her question? Where do I characterize it any sort of way at all?

    On the contrary: It is precisely because I can see how fatuous are your attempts to insist that it must have occurred any particular way that I refrain from doing so myself. We cannot assume much about it at all: the age of the daughter when she asked it, her tone when she asked it, how she responded to Jensen’s answer. Thus, offering as you did some bullshit nonsense about how she had to have been OK with his answer because of “child psychology” is an insulting waste of time to everyone here, so kindly refrain from doing something like it again.

  29. Oh, and this:

    I attended church in Germany for 8 years. Got a sense of the weirdness that is an Americentric church in a foreign country, if that counts.

    Were services conducted in English or German? Having been involved in both expat and local communities, I can say that they are very different animals. You often don’t learn much at all about one from the other.

    In other words, if it’s still Americans practicing an American version of the religion somewhere outside North America, it might not count.

  30. ” It’s just like the 1001 passages in the Bible that are underemphasized because they no longer apply to modern day practices.”

    Yeah, but “families are forever” is the current shtick. And temple marriage is stressed, for the living and the dead.
    People do actually read D&C 132.

    Imagine a Christianity that celebrated the atonement and resurrection. Now suppose John 20:17 read, “Go ahead and touch me here and now because there is no redemption. This is it.” and you weren’t allowed to talk about that verse. Not to your spouse, your children and not at church.
    Still think it’s underemphasized?

  31. I would appreciate if you explained why you responded so differently to the following:

    @20, I said:

    The effect is that the daughter learns from the father that it’s just “not really that important.” And because it’s not that important, the “lie” is instantly forgiven.

    You start questioning me about the age of Jensen’s daughter, and that I’m making an assumption about her response, when really, I was using the Jensen example to illustrate a point of what fathers do to “alleviate” the polygamy problem and try to instill indifference. They say it’s “not that important” in order to have the “lie forgiven.”

    @22, Susanne says:

    I’m guessing that what many daughters learn from their fathers is the importance of burying the eternal spectral of polygamy deep within them.

    You say to her: “Amen.” You do not question her about why she “assumes” that daughters learn this, even though it’s the same process that I’m talking about @20 !!!!!!!!!

    The child psychology comment is in response to your question of how can I make an assumption that daughters learn from their fathers how to be indifferent to problematic facts. And you respond, “No, kids are told weird shit all the time and think it’s bizarre and stupid, not neat.” So, basically, YEAH, I do think you keep fighting the possibility of people clearing the church of any wrong-doing. Cuz every time I bring it up, you keep coming back to people in opposition or troubled as if this fact was not already established by the NYT article and you have to keep saying it over and over and over.

    What makes you so sure that this sense that the LDS church is not honest about its origins and its past is not a contributing factor in “the church’s lack of ability to grow internationally generally”?

    Uh, because as you said, most people don’t stay long enough to give much care to the history of the Church.

  32. re: a whole bunch of stuff @31: here’s the problem: You invoked a real, specific example involving real human beings, and asserted that “Jensen’s daughter was young enough that I doubt polygamy will break her faith.”

    You were, in all likelihood, factually wrong. In any event, you did not have firm enough evidence for the assumptions you made.

    when really, I was using the Jensen example to illustrate a point of what fathers do to “alleviate” the polygamy problem and try to instill indifference. They say it’s “not that important” in order to have the “lie forgiven.”

    Yeah. And My point is that you should have used an example that actually supported the point you wanted to make. You don’t know enough about Jensen or his daughter to assert anything at all about how that went down, but the fact that you somehow imagined that you did is pretty instructive–or rather, it would be, if it weren’t par for the course with you.

    You say to her: “AMEN!” You do not question her about why she “assumes” that daughters learn this, even though it’s the same process that I’m talking about @20 !!!!!!!!!

    part of that, Alan, is that Suzanne is more observant and better at logic than you and so comes to more reasonable conclusions than you do. She actually talks about a lot of angst by a lot of women posting in the bloggernacle, not just one father-daughter exchange that she doesn’t know diddly squat about.

    And you respond, “No, kids are told weird shit all the time and think it’s bizarre and stupid, not neat.” So, basically, YEAH, I do think you keep fighting the possibility of people clearing the church of any wrong-doing.

    Oh, god, Alan. This binary thinking of yours is just so tedious and inadequate.

    Really?

    Yeah, kids do sometimes go, “Oh, OK, when their parents explain things. They also go, “That’s stupid!”

    it doesn’t always happen one way or the other.

    So, once again, for the record:

    I readily acknowledge that there are many people who dismiss polygamy as an insignificant artifact.

    But the fact that there are many such people does not change the fact that there are also many people who are extremely troubled by polygamy and the way the church has lied about it.

    Cuz every time I bring it up, you keep coming back to people in opposition or troubled as if this fact was not already established by the NYT article and you have to keep saying it over and over and over.

    Well, you know, maybe we could get past this problem if you would stop saying things like, “But still, I don’t think a large majority feels this way on the matter — that it’s a ‘lie’.”

    What makes you so sure that this sense that the LDS church is not honest about its origins and its past is not a contributing factor in “the church’s lack of ability to grow internationally generally”?

    Uh, because as you said, most people don’t stay long enough to give much care to the history of the Church.

    OK, first of all, I did NOT say that “most people don’t stay long enough to give much care to the history of the Church.” I wrote, “It was always depressing to baptize someone and have them stop coming to church within about six weeks, but it happened over and over and over again–often before the new members found out anything at all about church history. The church didn’t even offer them enough in terms of meaningful spirituality or social interactions that they would stick around long enough to study the history.”

    Precisely where do I say that this was true for most of the people who left? You may have read that into my comment, but that doesn’t mean you were justified in doing so.

    And how you do know that an overall aura of untrustworthiness or dishonesty doesn’t help people decide, “Huh, I made a mistake in joining this weirdo church” or inhibit people from investigating the church in the first place?

    I had investigators drop out right before a baptism was scheduled because they’d learned some unsavory fact about the church. I had new converts tell us to stop bugging them after they learned about some troubling doctrine in the after-baptismal discussions we taught. I can think of three women in particular who felt very deceived by the lessons–but not in ways that had to do with things like history or polygamy. Though I’m fairly sure that if they had heard about that, they would have said, “Yeah. Figures. You guys are basically liars anyway.”

    And I’ll underscore another point I made earlier that you have tried to elide: for many people, the problem isn’t that the church whitewashes its history and prefers to omit some of the things it has outgrown, like the United Order. No one gets really upset about the United Order. It really is an irrelevant historical relic.

    People get upset about polygamy because it’s NOT just “history”–it’s still part of current doctrine. People get upset about how JS actually translated the BOM not because the matter is simply left to history, but because current teachings contradict reality.

    You want to draw this big distinction between the church’s past and the present–more of your inadequate binary thinking. And what I am saying is that for the people who care about this, the problem is that the history–the story the church tells NOW, TODAY about its past–is not distinct from the present. They are all wrapped up in each other, and for many people, the church’s dishonesty in current teachings about historical matters makes it untrustworthy and unable to offer any sort of meaningful spiritual experience.

  33. p.s. There was more to Suzanne’s comment @22 than you quoted that I said “Amen” to. Once again, you fail to consider a larger context. This is another of the serious problems with the way you attempt to analyze and argue.

  34. You don’t know enough about Jensen or his daughter to assert anything at all about how that went down

    There was more to Suzanne’s comment @22 than you quoted that I said “Amen” to. Once again, you fail to consider a larger context.

    Speaking of failing to consider a larger context, I did have enough to recognize that it was an instance of a father trying to get his daughter to be indifferent to the past, which is precisely the original conclusion that I drew from it.

    UNTIL you twisted my conclusion into something it wasn’t….something about needing to know a woman’s age/response before recognizing her father’s bad behavior. *scratches head*

    My point of “Oh, she’s probably young enough that it won’t break her faith” — I gave the example of a 10-year-old versus a 50-year-old, and I’m pretty dang sure her age lies between those two numbers. That particular comment falls into the context of this ego-contest between us — a binary we are both are guilty of sustaining.

    Oh, god, Alan. This binary thinking of yours is just so tedious and inadequate. […]
    Yeah, kids do sometimes go, “Oh, OK, when their parents explain things. They also go, “That’s stupid!”

    Well, if that’s true, then why couldn’t you work with the fact that sometimes kids say “OK,” and instead had to insist that the starting point be that they say “That’s stupid”? Well, O-binary-thinking one?

    You want to draw this big distinction between the church’s past and the present–more of your inadequate binary thinking.

    This is too exhausting of a way to engage in discourse, btw. You might think it’s fun, but to me, it begins to get pointless when it devolves this far.

  35. Speaking of failing to consider a larger context, I did have enough to recognize that it was an instance of a father trying to get his daughter to be indifferent to the past, which is precisely the original conclusion that I drew from it.

    UNTIL you twisted my conclusion into something it wasn’t….something about needing to know a woman’s age/response before recognizing her father’s bad behavior. *scratches head*

    Oh, Jesus H. Christ, Alan.

    I WISH that “it was an instance of a father trying to get his daughter to be indifferent to the past” was “precisely the original conclusion that [you] drew from” your use of Jensen and his daughter.

    Instead, you drew the conclusion THAT HIS ATTEMPT WORKED. I quote:

    Jensen tells the story of his daughter asking him: “Why didn’t you teach me about JS’s polygamy?!” and he simply answers, “I didn’t really think it was that important.”

    The effect is that the daughter learns from the father that it’s just “not really that important.” And because it’s not that important, the “lie” is instantly forgiven.

    You have absolutely no basis for concluding that in this particular instance the daughter learned the lesson the father wanted to teach or that all was forgiven, either instantly or otherwise.

    It’s the basic stuff of evidence and argument, Alan, and you need to learn it.

    My point of “Oh, she’s probably young enough that it won’t break her faith” — I gave the example of a 10-year-old versus a 50-year-old, and I’m pretty dang sure her age lies between those two numbers.

    So, at what point between 10 and 50 does one cease to be young enough that such a revelation won’t break one’s faith? Do you have any basis at all in fact for guessing where the daughter was on A) the age continuum itself or B) the continuum of not being susceptible to faith-breakage? How is this anything but utterly unsubstantiated conjecture?

    Yeah, kids do sometimes go, “Oh, OK, when their parents explain things. They also go, “That’s stupid!”

    Well, if that’s true, then why couldn’t you work with the fact that sometimes kids say “OK,” and instead had to insist that the starting point be that they say “That’s stupid”? Well, O-binary-thinking one?

    You mean, aside from the fact that you didn’t provide enough relevant complexity and meaningful context for it to be possible or valuable to work with the point you made?

    Second, how do I insist that their saying, “That’s stupid!” has to be the starting point? Just because I counter YOUR point, how do I insist that something else must be the starting point?

    I mean, look at the difference in our rhetoric. You write,

    “Child psychology. If you tell a 10-year-old that Joseph Smith used a “peep stone” to translate the Book of Mormon, s/he’ll think that’s neat.”

    You posit this as “If A, then B.”

    Whereas I write, “First of all, what? Kids are told weird shit all the time and think it’s bizarre and stupid, not neat.”

    I don’t posit it as an automatic cause and effect, just a frequent occurrence. I’m going for “If A, then maybe B, or maybe C. And who knows? there might even be a D and an E.”

    See the difference, Alan?

    This is too exhausting of a way to engage in discourse, btw. You might think it’s fun, but to me, it begins to get pointless when it devolves this far.

    Honestly, Alan, I find it difficult to imagine that you believe anyone finds it fun to talk to you about much of anything.

  36. and in case you want to defend your recent claim that you “did have enough to recognize that [Jensen’s exchange with his daughter] was an instance of a father trying to get his daughter to be indifferent to the past,[you] which is precisely the original conclusion that drew from it” rather than, as I pointed out, that the original conclusion you drew from it was that the attempt worked, let me remind you of this @24

    You’re assuming that Jensen’s answer was a sufficient explanation for her. Do you have any reason for doing so?

    Child psychology. If you tell a 10-year-old that Joseph Smith used a “peep stone” to translate the Book of Mormon, s/he’ll think that’s neat. But if someone finds out online at age 50, they’ll wonder why they were lied to. Jensen’s daughter was young enough that I doubt polygamy will break her faith.

    I didn’t “twist your conclusion” into anything. You acknowledged that you had indeed made the unjustified assumption I called you on, and then you compounded the problem by offering a reason for doing so that you could not possibly know was applicable.

    Like I said, offering as you did some bullshit nonsense about how she had to have been OK with his answer because of “child psychology” is an insulting waste of time to everyone here, so kindly refrain from doing something like it again.

  37. THAT HIS ATTEMPT WORKED.

    “If you tell a 10-year-old that Joseph Smith used a “peep stone” to translate the Book of Mormon, s/he’ll think that’s neat.” […]

    You posit this as “If A, then B.”

    This is a very narrow read of my words. You can’t possibly think this is the only possible read, do you?

    Basic English: the article “a” — as in “a 10-year-old” — does not necessarily apply to ALL, but to a particular.

    Alan: “If you see a snake, that’s a bad omen.”
    Holly: “No, a snake could be a good omen.”
    Alan: “Yes…it could. But in the hypothetical instance I’m talking about, a snake is a bad omen.”

    The basic principle is that young people are more easily swayed than older people. The basic principle IS NOT that ALL 10-year-olds will think peep stones are neat, and that therefore someone needs to step in and remind everyone that sometimes kids think peep stones are stupid. That would be necessary if I said, “If you tell any 10-year-old that Joseph Smith used a “peep stone” to translate the Book of Mormon, s/he’ll think that’s neat.”

    This issue of you universalizing my particulars, or concretizing my abstracts affects many/most of the issues above, I think. For example, RE: Jensen’s daughter:

    The effect is that the daughter learns from the father

    The article “the” sometimes points to a previously mentioned antecedent (in this case, “Jensen” “his daughter” and the “conversation between the two”) but is also often used to refer to a class, which is how I used it.

    Example: “I saw a blue whale yesterday. It is the largest animal ever to have lived.”

    This could be read that the whale the speaker saw was the largest animal ever, which would be hard to verify and one might ask for evidence. But the speaker could have also meant that blue whales generally as an animal are the largest.

    Now, if someone were to insist adamantly to the speaker that they asserted that the blue whale they saw yesterday was indeed the largest animal ever, they very well might bite and respond: “Well, it was the largest ever!” This is what happened in terms of my statement that Jensen’s daughter is young enough that she’s not in crisis of faith over polygamy. You insisted that I made an assumption that I did not. I bit your assumption, and now you won’t let it go.

  38. You can’t possibly think this is the only possible read, do you?

    Here’s the thing, Alan: I asked you all sorts of questions in order to ascertain just how narrowly your words should be read. I gave you the benefit of the doubt at first; I thought, “He can’t possibly mean this completely stupid thing he seems to be saying.” So I asked for clarification. Remember? Remember all those questions about your reasoning and your evidence? The ones you resented so much?

    And rather than saying something right away like, “Well, the thing is, I’m not really talking about particulars, and I know next to nothing about Jensen or his daughter and probably shouldn’t be using their specific example to try to make my point, but here’s what I really want to say,” you doubled down.

    Must be that ego problem of yours that makes you unable to say something that would have contributed to an expanded reading of your words rather than a “very narrow” one.

    Alan: “If you see a snake, that’s a bad omen.”
    Holly: “No, a snake could be a good omen.”
    Alan: “Yes…it could. But in the hypothetical instance I’m talking about, a snake is a bad omen.”

    But you weren’t talking about a hypothetical instance, were you? No, Alan, you weren’t. You were talking about Jensen and his daughter, real people, and a real conversation they had. And you kept pulling bullshit out of your ass and defending it as fact.

    It’s a problem that you mix up factual instances with hypothetical ones. Please try to tell the difference, both for your sake and the sake of others.

    The basic principle is that young people are more easily swayed than older people. The basic principle IS NOT that ALL 10-year-olds will think peep stones are neat, and that therefore someone needs to step in and remind everyone that sometimes kids think peep stones are stupid.

    So…. precisely who needed you to step in and remind everyone that kids are more easily swayed than older people? How was that ever in doubt? You know, how kids will believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy and made up stuff like that? Did you think this was something that other people didn’t know, so you had to come mansplain it for them?

    Cuz if that’s what’s going on, you can just save yourself the trouble next time. People here are aware of something that basic.

    Seriously? That’s it? That’s the reason you said all that stuff about Jensen’s daughter–to make THAT point that everyone already accepted?

    You poor thing. No wonder you find discourse so difficult and exhausting.

    This issue of you universalizing my particulars, or concretizing my abstracts affects many/most of the issues above, I think. For example, RE: Jensen’s daughter:

    Umm, no. No, cuz I asked you why you were making certain assertions about Jensen and his daughter precisely so I would know how much YOU were concretizing them, and as I mentioned, you doubled down. YOU, Alan, YOU! insisted on universalizing your particulars–and particularizing your universals. You used one measly little conversation between one man and his daughter as evidence of universal reactions. And then, you did the reverse, @24, when you went from “If you tell a 10-year-old that Joseph Smith used a ‘peep stone’ to translate the Book of Mormon, s/he’ll think that’s neat. But if someone finds out online at age 50, they’ll wonder why they were lied to” to “Jensen’s daughter was young enough that I doubt polygamy will break her faith.”

    I don’t know why I’m the least bit surprised that you lack the intelligence to argue more precisely in the first place, the awareness to see what you’re doing,or the courage and honesty to admit you’ve messed up.

    But then, you have defended propositions equally as stupid, if not more so–like when you insisted that there was no reason to consider what actual lesbians had to say when you were holding forth about Mormon lesbian sexuality.

    This is what happened in terms of my statement that Jensen’s daughter is young enough that she’s not in crisis of faith over polygamy. You insisted that I made an assumption that I did not.

    Alan, you poor thing, all I insisted in this particular instance was that you assumed “that Jensen’s daughter is young enough that she’s not in crisis of faith over polygamy.” You have absolutely no basis in fact for asserting this claim. You absolutely cannot know. You should not have made the assertion in the first place, and having made it, should never have defended it. It’s foolish and embarrassing of you not to admit this and to withdraw the statement.

    It is indeed interesting, in a pathetic, appalling way, to watch you flail. By all means, if you feel so inclined, do try to keep it up.

  39. In other words, Alan, to use your snake analogy,
    the conversation went like this:
    *

    Alan: this one guy’s daughter wasn’t at all scared when she saw a snake.
    Holly: Um, how do you know that?
    Alan: Because snakes are good omens.
    Holly: Not always. Sometimes they’re really bad omens. How do you justify this assertion about this daughter you know nothing about?
    Alan: Child psychology.

    Utterly illogical on your part, but you can’t admit it. You’d rather extend an experience you say you find exhausting and unpleasant than admit to a single flaw in your profoundly flawed thinking.

    Huh. How Mormon of you. How very, very Mormon. No wonder you dismiss crises of faith. You seem singularly impervious to them yourself.

  40. No, the conversation went like this:

    Alan: This one guy told his daughter that snakes are bad. *sigh* It’s unfortunate that daughters learn from their fathers that snakes are bad.
    Holly: Um, why do you conclude she thinks badly about snakes?
    Alan: Oh, children are easily swayed to what their parents think.
    Holly: How do you justify this assertion?
    Alan: Child psychology.
    Holly: That’s stupid.
    Alan: Well, so was your assumption that I concluded that she thinks badly about snakes.
    Holly: You’re stupid.
    Alan: So are you.

  41. You used one measly little conversation between one man and his daughter as evidence of universal reactions.

    Actually, I used one measly little conversation between one man and his daughter as evidence of the process of aiming to turn polygamy into an insignificant artifact. And I’m pretty sure it works as evidence to that effect.

    no reason to consider what actual lesbians had to say

    Ah, so I see you still confuse me not agreeing with you (who does not happen to be a Mormon lesbian, but in that thread insisted on wearing the crown) with me not listening to lesbians, when I fully demonstrated that my position came from lesbian thinkers. Perhaps we should revisit your insistence that you somehow knew what people’s viewpoints and intentions are better than they did themselves (which there amounted to racism), since, by the looks of this thread, it doesn’t seem like you’ve learned much.

  42. Good morning, Alan!

    @37:

    If you tell a 10-year-old that Joseph Smith used a “peep stone” to translate the Book of Mormon, s/he’ll think that’s neat.” […]

    You posit this as “If A, then B.”

    This is a very narrow read of my words. You can’t possibly think this is the only possible read, do you?

    Basic English: the article “a” — as in “a 10-year-old” — does not necessarily apply to ALL, but to a particular.

    Alan @41:

    Perhaps we should revisit your insistence that you somehow knew what people’s viewpoints and intentions are better than they did themselves

    So, here’s the thing! The “very narrow read” of your words I came up with is accurate–and I can prove it! I DO know better than you what your intentions are! It’s pretty sad that you’re so unaware of them, but hey, I’m trying to help you learn. 🙂

    So. Here’s how it works. I asked you, “How do you think you know this?”

    When someone asks a question like that, there are several ways to respond. You could say, for instance, “Well, come to think of it, I don’t.” Or, “I have a burning in my bosom.” Or, “Because of this logical proposition.”

    I asked, “You’re assuming that Jensen’s answer was a sufficient explanation for her. Do you have any reason for doing so?”

    You offered this as justification: “Child psychology. If you tell a 10-year-old that Joseph Smith used a “peep stone” to translate the Book of Mormon, s/he’ll think that’s neat.”

    You DID posit that as an “If A, then B” situation, because you use it to assert the legitimacy of your basis for assuming that something for which you had no other evidence was true. And to do so, you need conclusive evidence and/or logical proof. You need “If A, then B.” it’s what fits into the slot you plugged the statement into.

    It’s not adequate justification for asserting a proposition and maintaining an assertion after it’s questioned if you’re saying, “Well, in this hypothetical situation I’m making up, sometimes if A happens, then sometimes B happens too.”

    It’s very sad that you’re not sophisticated enough to have seen on your own what you were doing or honest enough to admit it, but hey. You’ve demonstrated repeatedly that you’d rather die on the hill of your error than ever admit to one.

    I mean, in this thread, I managed to concede (see @21) when you had a good point. I managed to say, “OK, I should clarify that I don’t disagree with this basic proposition you’ve offered.”

    You? All you seem to be saying is, “I”m not wrong! Don’t ever say I’m wrong!”

    Which moves you beyond the realm of mere stupidity into being an outright joke. You like that status? Seems like you must, given how hard you work to maintain it.

    Actually, I used one measly little conversation between one man and his daughter as evidence of the process of aiming to turn polygamy into an insignificant artifact. And I’m pretty sure it works as evidence to that effect.

    Oh! So now it’s just about the process of aiming

    You won’t come right out and admit that you had no business assuming you could guess how Jensen’s daughter reacted, even though you maintained for a bunch of comments that you were justified in concluding not just how the the process of aiming worked, but also the result the process produced in one particular instance. But now, one of the the very point I tried to get you to cop to early on is built into how you talk about the situation.

    Interesting. Well, even if I can’t get you to admit you made a mistake,and even if you haven’t learned to avoid the basic category of mistake, at least you’re trying not to replicate that exact mistake.

    Yeah. That counts for something. Thanks, Alan!

    Ah, so I see you still confuse me not agreeing with you (who does not happen to be a Mormon lesbian, but in that thread insisted on wearing the crown) with me not listening to lesbians,

    You mean the way you wouldn’t listen to Suzanne, even though she A) participated in that thread and B) told you you were full of shit C) is a Mormon lesbian?

    when I fully demonstrated that my position came from lesbian thinkers.

    No, little man! No no no! You didn’t mention one lesbian thinker in your OP, except in a tacked-on note at the end, a complete after-thought! Otherwise, you focused on dudes! You, a pompous mansplainer who routinely dismisses women when they talk about women stuff, talked about what dudes had to say-about lesbians! That was the point of contention! You didn’t demonstrate jack (or jill) shit!

    Perhaps we should revisit your insistence that you somehow knew what people’s viewpoints and intentions are better than they did themselves (which there amounted to racism), since, by the looks of this thread, it doesn’t seem like you’ve learned much.

    And yet, as little as I’ve seemed to learn, I still know way more than you–even about what you’re actually saying.

    that must burn.

    Oh, and the racism thing? I’ll remind you yet again: a whole bunch of women offered to take on the challenge of exploring that charge if you would take on the charge of exploring your absolutely blatant misogyny, a challenge you absolutely refused. What, too afraid of all you’d reveal?

    And though I’ve refrained from doing so up to now, I’ll point out that you demonstrate a bit of misogyny here, as when you can’t be bothered to think about the extent to which polygamy is still a living doctrine Mormon women grapple with regularly.

    @40: OK, now you’ve made this fun. Seeing that you’re so angry that you can’t even produce any content at all? That’s fun.

  43. Ha! check this out! Even in his silly paraphrase @40, Alan got something right–again, without realizing it!

    Holly: Um, why do you conclude she thinks badly about snakes?
    Alan: Oh, children are easily swayed to what their parents think.

    Holly: How do you justify this assertion?
    Alan: Child psychology.
    Holly: That’s stupid.
    Alan: Well, so was your assumption that I concluded that she thinks badly about snakes.

    He has me asking why he concludes the daughter thinks badly of snakes, offers an explanation of how he reached that conclusion, and then accuses me of stupidity for “assuming that [he] concluded that she thinks badly about snakes”–even though it’s there, only five lines of dialogue up, where he explains WHY he reached that precise conclusion. He didn’t say, “I didn’t conclude that;” he said, “Here’s why I concluded that.”

    So, hopefully now the contradictions have been stated obviously enough and in close enough proximity to each other by Alan himself that he’ll admit that the stupidity was HIS, in A) trying to justify the faulty conclusion in the first place and then B) trying to insist he hadn’t actually made it!

    Oh yes, Alan! This is VERY fun! What a laugh you’ve given me. It’s better than coffee. Please, give me more! I can watch you reveal yourself like this all day!

  44. Alan got something right–again, without realizing it!

    It was my very intention to “get right” your view of this conversation. Your suggestion that I “don’t realize it” when I was the one who wrote it? Yeah, kinda ridiculous.

    The more you keep saying, “Alan’s stupid, Alan’s stupid,” the stupider you’re gonna seem. You should keep that in mind.

    You didn’t mention one lesbian thinker in your OP!

    a whole bunch of women offered to take on the challenge of exploring that charge if you would take on the charge of exploring your absolutely blatant misogyny, a challenge you absolutely refused. What, too afraid of all you’d reveal?

    Just because a Mormon lesbian speaks does not mean I’m compelled to agree with her. I mentioned many women (some lesbian) thinkers that influenced both my thinking altogether and the OP — Butler, Gopinath, Chân Không. You not only dismissed me as stupid for “failing to explain them” but then when it became clearer that you were beginning to understand their viewpoints, you dismissed them as stupid. And then, you dismissed the woman on the thread who sided with me as stupid.

    Fact: You’re too stuck in white 2nd-wave feminism to understand that there’s more than one way to do feminist politics.

    Another fact: The entire thread that you usurped was an exploration of my misogyny, so it’s very unfortunate that you predicate an exploration of your racism on an “exploration of my misogyny.” It just means you’re sitting on your hands when there’s something about yourself that you severely need to fix.

    When you didn’t like what was found during the exploration of my misogyny, you threw a racist fit because your problematic point-of-view became remotely marginalized. So, go right on ahead exploring my misogyny. I would say, “Just let me know when you’re interested in exploring your racism,” but…I’m not sure that I have the patience for it. See…there’s this thing when people behave the way you did, but show no interest in changing (or predicate their change on someone else changing) that makes one think,”They’re never gonna change.”

  45. It was my very intention to “get right” your view of this conversation. Your suggestion that I “don’t realize it” when I was the one who wrote it? Yeah, kinda ridiculous.

    Alan, sweetie, you poor thing! You know why you could get my view of the conversation right? Because my view is right, If you think what you wrote doesn’t indict you…. Oh, you poor boy.

    The more you keep saying, “Alan’s stupid, Alan’s stupid,” the stupider you’re gonna seem. You should keep that in mind.

    Sure. I realize that being willing to engage with someone as dumb as you isn’t exactly a mark in my favor. No one should engage with you–you’re a waste of time. You make that really clear, over and over and over. You pull stuff out of your ass and defend it as fact. So you are, in point of fact, stupid. But yeah, it’s probably stupid to make that point, since you’re too stupid to realize it. Part of that “never gonna change thing” you talk about below.

    I mentioned many women (some lesbian) thinkers that influenced both my thinking altogether and the OP — Butler, Gopinath, Chân Không

    So? You felt no need to mention them in the OP. In the OP, you were focused on dudes. You said you wanted to make women’s voices paramount–without ever actually letting them be heard. You could coopt them, but not express them. Which makes you not just misogynist, but an exploitative SOB.

    Just because a Mormon lesbian speaks does not mean I’m compelled to agree with her.

    Just because a pompous tool who claims feminism for himself after reading a few books by queer feminists speaks doesn’t mean I’m compelled to agree with him. Does it now?

    Fact: You’re too stuck in white 2nd-wave feminism to understand that there’s more than one way to do feminist politics.

    Sure. There are many ways to do feminism. Doesn’t mean that you aren’t super shitty at the way you try to do it.

    Another fact: The entire thread that you usurped was an exploration of my misogyny,

    Sure. But you weren’t the one exploring your misogyny. You were the one going, “La la la I’m not misogynist.” You were the one enacting your misogyny even as you denied it, so that everyone else could explore it. Which we did.

    (btw: I “usurped” your thread? Ohh…. Poor boy, who can’t keep control of his discourse and make people agree with him!)

    so it’s very unfortunate that you predicate an exploration of your racism on an “exploration of my misogyny.” It just means you’re sitting on your hands when there’s something about yourself that you severely need to fix.

    Well, Alan, once again–once again–you are assuming facts not in evidence. You have no idea about how much I have interrogated my own racism and white privilege in the time since that thread. After all, I did not say that I would not think about the topic until/unless you addressed your own misogyny in this forum. I did not predicate my changing on your changing first. I merely offered to discuss the charge you leveled and the ways I was guilty of it if YOU would admit to at least a few of the ways you were guilty of misogyny. It was the discussion that was in question.

    See the difference? No. You don’t.

    you threw a racist fit because your problematic point-of-view became remotely marginalized.

    Um, no. I’m reading the thread right now in another winow. That’s not what happened. I’d ask you for evidence that I “threw a racist fit,” but you couldn’t provide it.

    So, go right on ahead exploring my misogyny.

    I take it that means you’re not going to quit displaying it. Unfortunately. And also that you’re not going to cop to or admit it in any meaningful way. Figures.

    I would say, “Just let me know when you’re interested in exploring your racism,” but…I’m not sure that I have the patience for it.

    *I* am sure you don’t have the patience–because you would first have to discuss your misogyny here–not just watch it be discussed by others. There’s no way you have the patience for that.

    See…there’s this thing when people behave the way you did, but show no interest in changing (or predicate their change on someone else changing) that makes one think,”They’re never gonna change.”

    Alan, I am sure that you know A LOT about behaving in a way that makes one (and maybe EVERYONE) think, “They’re never gonna change.” Certainly no one here really expects you to be less of a misogynist, mansplaining asshole.

    Like I said, I do enjoy seeing you froth this badly. And I do mean badly. While it’s pretty much never fun listening to you or reading you, it’s been a lot of fun taking every last statement you’ve made and showing how utterly full of shit every last word you write is. So show me what other vitriol and bile you want to vent. Can’t wait!

  46. I have interrogated my own racism and white privilege in the time since that thread.

    Whew. That’s a relief.

    If you think what you wrote doesn’t indict you

    Yes, I’m indicted in the Court of Holly.

  47. @46: Oh, it totally did. For some reason Alan seemed to be bothered by the fact that I didn’t agree with John-Charles’s blog post, and raised all sorts of silly objections to my critique–I thought this strange statement @16 “I don’t know whether there truly is an exodus from the Church, or whether things are relatively stable. I think an opinion on that kind of determines how one reads the article” was pretty remarkable, since there are statements from both insiders and outsiders verifying the exodus, statements that have been very widely discussed in Mormon and ex-Mormon forums.

    Who knows what’s really going on with him. For all the ways in which Alan reveals himself, there’s another in which his pigheaded determination to keep defending inaccuracy and error is utterly inscrutable.

  48. Lol, chanson. Yes, you’re right. Hopefully both Holly and I can agree not to take this to your “The trouble with answering questions” post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *