Sunday in Outer Blogness: Don’t Apologize Edition!

Apologetics Sunday in Outer Blogness

This past week we were treated to what is possibly the most delicious new apologetic argument since the tapir! Take it away, Meg Stout:

It all boils down to the one admission from Emily, where she responded “Yes sir.” when asked if she had engaged in carnal intercourse with Joseph Smith.

[…]

Carnal refers to meat. Intercourse refers to commerce or trade (ever visited Intercourse, PA?). Therefore “carnal intercourse” would also be a legitimate description of passing Joseph a platter of turkey or chicken or mutton or beef at a meal, an activity the young Emily had almost certainly engaged in.

Yes, that’s the same Meg Stout whose faithful Joseph series has brought us so much mirthhere‘s her latest. The above quote was posted on Runtu’s Rincon — Runtu also posted a discussion of the big picture in apologetics, a discussion of transparency, and he’ll be doing an “ask me anything” on Reddit this Wednesday!

John C made a brave attempt at creative apologetics as well, claiming “that God mixes up geology, that God hides artifacts, and that God alters the course of heavenly bodies”, hence coming to the following logical conclusion:

The more you believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon, the more you should embrace the lack of evidence for it. Shout it from the hilltops: There is remarkably little evidence to demonstrate that the events described in the Book of Mormon took place in the Americas and therefore I, as a rational person, must embrace the Book of Mormon as being an empirically true and accurate record of events in the Americas.

Pizzafreak22 noticed that the articles in the latest Ensign are starting to look desperate. Atheists have been promoted to public enemy #1. Kate Kelly is still kicked out — maybe she’ll join the party instead.

It could be worse — if the faithful followed the Bible they’d be killing the unbelievers (thank heavens for heretics). Other scripture lessons this week include the end of Alma, abandoning foreign wives and children, and some confusing messages:

Okay, not only has Moroni had a hand in plenty of unnecessary slaughter over the last few chapters, but he’s about to follow up his condemnation of Ammoron’s murderous ways by…

…threatening to kill him (verse 10)

We also have highlights from how to see that the Sermon on the Mount was cobbled together from other sources. That lesson contains some interesting analysis of the good and bad advice in the sermon, and of how well Christians follow different parts — with a little help from the Satanists:

And when there are Ten Commandments monuments on public land, they’re there to erect a statue to the god Baphomet. Won’t this look grand?

What I love about this is that it’s surgical. The only people who will be freaked out by this are those who are the intended target; everyone else will laugh up their sleeve. I don’t care much for Satanism, but I’m happy to throw them some dough if they’ll keep up their antics.

In history, Thinker of Thoughts has started a series putting the Nauvoo Expositor in context.

How does Mormon culture deal with changes like the death of dating? Or with people who are gay:

Being gay is a big no no, obviously. Saying you’re gay is perfectly fine though. Hence why I stayed in the closet at BYU (and was so suicidal). I could have been kicked out for even the slightest of “acting on” my sexuality. Obviously, in the religion pre-marital sex is a big fat NO (whatever sexuality you are). However, heterosexual people can still have physical expressions of their love and attractions as long as they are not risqué. Homosexuals doing this is considered “immorality”. Makes sense right? I know if I were still in the church, I would love to be out and not be allowed to actually BE myself. Refusing all of my attraction and being a robot sounds incredibly exciting!

I truly believe that denying someone their right to love and express their love is simply cruel. In my sometimes-not-so-humble opinion, this is a basic human right. Nobody has the right, authority, or divine role to tell someone who to love or how to love.

The hit song “Let it Go” can be taken as an anthem of freeing yourself from harmful beliefs. But don’t get me wrong — I agree with Andrew S on this point:

I see a lot of the ills in the world as being amplified by religion (although I resist saying that they are caused by religion. I wouldn’t say homophobia or sexism are caused by religion, but that these are natural human issues. But what I would say is that it doesn’t seem that religion has a great track record on helping people rise above human nature on these issues.)

On the positive side, at least the CoCJoL-dS tells parents to get their kids vaccinated.

Here‘s an amusing interfaith interaction, and a new perspective on the CoC. In life journeys, Mormon Hurt described leaving the church as follows:

it felt like the entire world embraced me and said, “Welcome to the human race.”

In not-Mormon-related, we must sadly say goodbye to Mr. Spock. He was one of my all-time favorite fictional characters. As someone who would like to be totally logical and above it all (but isn’t really), I could relate to Spock. Of course Mr. Spock isn’t really dead because he never really existed, but Leonard Nimoy, who created this wonderful character, is gone.

In recipes, the Highchair Travelers have offered us Hamantaschen for Purim. Heather also posted some recipes I really want to try, like these Mini Spinach Quinoa Fritatas — I love spinach, and I’m always interested in finding new uses for quinoa — and these greek veggie burgers that didn’t work, put on a pita! 😀

OK, now to get back to trying to get my other computer working again, plus homework and programming projects with the kids. Have a great week!

9 thoughts on “Sunday in Outer Blogness: Don’t Apologize Edition!

  1. I don’t want to sound too dismissive but it’s painfully obvious when you read John C’s post that he’s mocking historicity-obsessed apologetics, not engaging in them…

  2. My read of the original John C article combined with most of the subsequent comments there has me leaning much more towards it not being sarcasm/trolling. If it was sarcastic, then it sure brought many of the likewise is thinking folks out of the woodworks.

  3. Bob, there’s no doubt John C is a believer, but the piece was aimed right at FARMS apologists like Dan Peterson and especially William Hamblin. There are inside baseball Mormon Studies reasons why, so I’m not surprised hardcore Defenders of the Faith and some folks outside the church missed that in the comments. Anyway, I like the author and want to make sure he’s interpreted properly. YMMV 🙂

  4. After @3 and @4 mentioned the interesting comments thread, I went back and read a chunk of it to see what they’re talking about. I would like to highlight an interesting exchange. Log wrote:

    if the Book of Mormon is not truth, then the ahistoricist who declares it yet true is one to be avoided, since apparently their definition of true includes things which are not truth. One cannot be sure such an one is not lying, as some would define lying.

    To which john f replied:

    Job can be a parable-poem and Jonah a satire — and both be completely true. The Silmarillion absolutely presents truth, beautiful, deep truths about good and evil and righteousness, even though it is admittedly a fictionalized mythology and history.

    This is further indication that debating whether holy books are “true” (or worse: “literally true”) is so ambiguous as to be practically pointless. Because of the fact that fiction can contain various types of truths (about life, human nature, etc.), you’re certainly going to get mired in an unhelpful discussion of semantics.

    If we’re debating whether the BoM is fiction vs. non-fiction, I think it is clearer to stick to those terms (or perhaps use “historical/ahistorical” — which appears to be equivalent and equally unambiguous in this context).

    We could debate whether the BoM is “true” in the sense of being an accurate description of real-life events (i.e. non-fiction) or whether it is “true” in the sense of containing profound insights — but they’re two separate questions. It’s easy to get the two jumbled together, though, especially considering that the BoM appears to be neither one…

  5. My stance on the truthiness of the BOM (historicism vs fiction vs profundity) is that if the mythos is harmful (say, overwriting Native American history, and replacing it literally with white American exceptionalism + odd Biblical borrowings), then I question its “holiness”–or intended purpose to do good in the world. Compare this to say, the Mahabharata, which although full of gods and other supernatural things difficult for those not raised Hindu to “believe,” the text still strikes me as more “true” because Hinduism is a legit system of morality with internal flexibility due to being taken up by a great spectrum of personalities over centuries. The problem with Christianity is that it stamps out multiple truths, and Mormonism is that much worse with its correlation obsession.

    An argument I read years ago stated that monotheistic faiths like Christianity, Islam, Judiasm “win” against native traditions because they’re not place-dependant (instead of a spirit for a particular mountain, or the sun, etc, God is everywhere, and so Christianity can travel). But Mormonism shows just how costly this process is. I think in the end, faiths like Hinduism or Japanese Shintoism that are far more accommodationist of local truths in a global perspective will succeed. For example, Shintoism can accommodate a sun-goddess for ancient Japan, but also an IT- (information technology) god for modern Japan, as well as the Christian God inside/outside Japan. Mormonism has the problem of inherently being unable to accommodate multiple truths, but so obviously also localized as 19th-c America. It’s not gonna last, IMO, and the only way to make its “truth” last is to keep throwing money into it (now that the days of colonize and Christianize are over…although the Church is still treating Africa like it’s up for grabs).

  6. Regarding Pizzafreak22 seeing the Ensign full of desperate articles. I agree and remind ourselves that the ensign is months in the making. This issue was planned and edited several months ago. The thinking behind it is not a flash in the pan, no, retention is something the church trying to address.
    Also, I’ve always thought the ensign had a continuous theme of anxiety running through it from issue to issue.

  7. if the mythos is harmful (say, overwriting Native American history, and replacing it literally with white American exceptionalism + odd Biblical borrowings), then I question its “holiness”–or intended purpose to do good in the world.

    That’s a good point. I want to be sympathetic to people’s belief that the BoM is profound and holy, but revering this book isn’t really a neutral or harmless position.

    @7 So you think the theme of anxiety has been more pronounced in the last few years, or that it’s always been that way?

  8. Hi Chanson,
    I’ve always thought the Ensign theme was anxiety. Many stories have conflict and resolution, I see the Ensign as having anxiety and resolution. Resolution is found by being obedient and holding to the rod.
    I’ve never read a story that was sublime, awe inspiring or had any depth.
    I also see the Bretheren at their “wits end” as they try to address retention. Hollands recent talk showed him at his “wits end” trying to address people leaving the church. So I guess the anxiety is with him now.

Leave a Reply

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