Sunday in Outer Blogness: See you in court edition!
I want to remind you that you only have a few more days to campaign and get in your votes for the Brodies. But Brodies’ season has been overshadowed by an astonishing bit of news: Thomas S. Monson — the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — has been summoned by a British court to answer charges of fraud!!
Others have already posted summaries, analyses of the merits of the case, and link round-ups, so let me just highlight some of the trending ideas. Some people have popped popcorn and are having fun with the story. After all, a prophet should be able to stand up to an Earthly court of law.
On the plus side, the case helps highlight the difference between an actual charity and a for-profit corporation (One clue: the money), and maybe what the CoJCoL-dS is doing really does constitute fraud, especially considering the UK government supplements charitable donations.
Another group that thinks trying to take Monson to court is a big mistake. It’s a problem for Tom Phillips to continue running the MormonThink website while pursuing legal action against the CoJCoL-dS. In general, it is advisable for people involved in a pending court case to stop making public statements about it (but if you want to hear from those involved, look here, here, and here), and the whole thing damages Mormon Think’s credibility:
The frustrating thing to me is that I like the MormonThink web site. Itâ€™s as fair and balanced as anything out there, and yet they will forever be associated with Tom Phillips, who is anything but objective about the LDS church. Fairly or not, Mormons will now dismiss MormonThink as the site run by the guy who wanted to put Monson in jail. And thatâ€™s a damned shame.
After Bill Nye (representing team Science) debated Ken Ham and the creationists, you might be curious to know what Mormons believe about problematic stories from Genesis. Does the CoJCoL-dS teach that the Noah’s Ark story really happened?
Apparently they do, judging from a recent article by the prophet Noah in the church’s official magazine, the Ensign. On the other hand, the anonymous-and-unpublicized topics articles on the official website contradict the Genesis-as-real-life-history belief. Daniel explained why this is a problem:
We’re at a weird point in LDS doctrine as of last week. That’s when the First Quorum of the Anonymous released its ‘Book of Mormon and DNA Studies’ essay, which uses sources that acknowledge that people immigrated to the American continent 10,000 years ago, which is a few thousand years before Adam and Eve. So what’s the story here; thousands of years, or millions?
What’s happened is that, because of the Church’s failure to clarify its own doctrine, two parallel streams of doctrine have grown up in the last several decades: a literal one that’s taught in Sunday School, and a figurative/metaphorical one that’s accepted in apologetic circles and on the Internet. The parallel approach has worked out well for the Church; they don’t have to go out on a limb officially, and everyone gets to believe what they want. It works for them, as long as â€” like we learned in Ghostbusters â€” you never cross the streams. Because crossing the streams is Bad. But in the DNA essay, what we saw is the Church crossing the streams.
In my years writing this blog, I’ve found that — while apologetic excuses can bolster the faith of those looking to have their faith bolstered — they often have the opposite effect on people who are really looking for answers. Before they “crossed the streams” people who were put off by the apologetics could just tell themselves “That’s just some speculation by some random guys at FAIR.” It should be interesting to see how this plays out.
Plus, we have a bunch of newly opened questions about the people who used to be “Lamanites” or the seed of Cain. The current edition of the Book of Mormon still has the stuff about the skin-darkening curse in it — is the CoJCoL-dS planning an edited version soon?
In Mormon reminiscences, Heather’s story continues with what she learned in the temple. Lizeverything recounted the shame about sex that she learned as a teen. (The Mormon shame around masturbation is not only creepy, but also has some doctrinal problems.) And this picture brings back some (not-Mormon-related) memories of growing up in the Twin Cities.
In random stuff, Knotty made a good case for taking Woody Allen’s side in the latest scandal eruption while Sara Katherine Staheli Hanks made a counter-argument about who should get the benefit of the doubt. And it turns out that his story has some big holes in it.
Have a great week, and don’t forget to vote!!!