Comments about ‘Mormons opening up in an Internet world’

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Published: Wednesday, Feb. 1 2012 12:05 a.m. MST

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Blowing in the Wind
Pleasant Grove, UT

The talk of opening up archives and directly addressing their history is great, and I would like to see that happen. But are they willing to accept what will come with that... namely, admitting to their deception and hypocrisy.

For example, growing up I recall seeing paintings of Joseph Smith translating the plates (he was sitting there, pointing his finger at the glyphs while a scribe sat on the other side of the desk writing. This depiction is completely inaccurate according to the records the church has. Where are the seer stones? Why isn't Joseph looking into a hat? Knowing the real history wouldn't scare me away. What's the big deal? So Joseph needed a dark place to look. Seems like a little bit of improvisation to me to put the stones in a hat. But for the church, it might be unseemly to represent that as part of the official story, so what do they do? They lie to us.

The deception may have worked before where there was no access to the historical information, but we live in different world now. I think the only way the church will survive is if they earnestly give some "mea culpas" and start opening up the journals and history books (along with the financial records) and owning up to the fact that they have been less than forthcoming. Otherwise, they will dwindle into a group of zealots who cannot accept anything but the infallibility myth that is perpetuated now. The salt has lost its savor indeed.

crunchem
Cedar City, Utah

@Blowing... Really? The picture of Joseph translating as you describe wasn't painted by the prophet, for goodness sake. Look, a lot of the Freiberg paintings are probably inaccurate as well. So what? When we find out where BOM stuff took place and no one wore purple feathers there, does that make his work invalid? Does it mean we were lied to? A painting is just a way of having everyone, young and old, visualize a scene. It's not intended to be DOCTRINE. Even paintings of Jesus, show variations in appearance, made by various artists, and there are a variety in approved church publications.

To somehow say that the church is "hiding or suppressing" the truth of the translation process by allowing one depiction of it be more prominent is a stretch, I think. It's not inordinately relevant, for the seeker and learner, to have everything presented all at once exactly as it was done. To know that the BOM was an ancient record, hidden up and preserved, translated by the gift of God, for us, is good enough. If we find out later that Emma scribed in a blue dress and not the white one, big whoopie. If the manuals next year come out and show hats and thummims it won't change anything, for the believer or the unbeliever.

Blowing in the Wind
Pleasant Grove, UT

@crunchem: That was just a simple example, but your response typifies the kind of reaction the church and her defenders give. Believe me, there are MANY people who have left and are leaving because of such "stretches." Go ahead and blow me off if you like, while you watch the congregations dwindle and the tithing receipts diminish.

You insinuate that if the "prophet" would have painted the picture, then it would be considered the final say and "doctrine." This is part the whole problem, I think. We mythologize the truth and make it out of reach to the earnest humble seeker. We put the "prophet" up on a pedestal of infallibility so that when minor issues like the one I presented come up, it's MY fault for even asking the question. Rather than accepting the consequences of hiding our history (which is resulting in a "great apostasy" according to Elder Jensen), we promote the cult of personality, worshiping those men "at the top."

I say "we" because I still go to church and have come to terms with the propaganda and misinformation that has come from SLC for years (not without a gut-wrenching struggle, though). My experience is that people are very forgiving. If the church were to open up its vaults of the history, as well as its financial books for scrutiny, I believe it would be taken as a goodwill offering, and any errors discovered would be forgiven by most as part of the human experience. But hiding and denying just repel those who would otherwise accept the beautiful simplicity of the Gospel.

Uncle Charles
Where freedom and liberty reign, utah

@Blowing: Honestly, I don't understand people like you or Carrie Sheffield who wrote a disingenuous op-ed in a DC paper this week regarding her former LDS church.

What is it that you are looking for?
What hiding do you think is being done?
What denying is going on?
Who has ever said that the prophet, not "prophet" is infallible?
What financials do you want to see and what would that do for you? Interesting that you make the comment that "tithing receipts [would] diminish". Is money an issue for you? Why?

What a miraculous plan our God put forth to us. One where we would come to earth to get a body and a chance to show our obedience in growing. He knew that only a small percentage of us would actually choose to return to His presence.

I guess for me, all your insinuations and questions regarding the church have nothing to do with me returning to my Heavenly Father. I have a testimony that the BofM is true, Joseph is a prophet, gospel is restored and priesthood is on the earth.

The gospel is simple and true.

Sneaky Jimmy
Bay Area, CA

If you have to worry about defending what you believe maybe you should find something else to believe. I really could care less about accusations made on the internet. What I do know is that Marlin K Jensen is one of the finest, most honest men you will ever meet. I don't know that I can say that about some of his cohorts.

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

Blowing: You make some strong insinuations but give absolutely nothing to say why. Everything is available on the internet. I refuse to go to anything outside of the LDS circles because my experience has shown they are full of half-truths and mostly lies. The same thing you accuse the church of. First off, the money you make is not yours, it is the Lord's especially if you have been endowed in the temple. You are only being ASKED to give 10% to the Church. The other donations are those an individual freely gives.

The picture you describe is an artists perception, nothing more, nothing less. To try and say it is anything else is a complete and total frabication of the artists rendition. Many members are not even aware that each ward/branch/stake goes through an audit semiannually. That is right twice a year. Did you know more individuals are excommunicated for misusing the funds than for anything else? The funds of the Church are taken very seriously. Maybe individuals need to take a great understanding of things before they start spouting off something they know nothing about.

Robbie512
PROVO, UT

Let's not pretend the bias isn't two-sided. Members have just as much to lose from the Church being false as ex-members have to lose from it being true. Both groups could easily be pursuing their own happiness at the expense of the truth.

Uncle Charles
Where freedom and liberty reign, utah

@Robbie: I don't know that any is pretending anything. Either the LDS church is the Lord's church on the earth or it isn't. Either the "insert the name of any other church here" is the Lord's church on the earth or it isn't. I don't know of any church that doesn't claim to be the Lord's church and teaching the way to salvation. If they don't, why are there doors open?

For me, following the gospel as taught in the LDS church brings me great happiness. I don't know of one doctrine that makes me unhappy. That's what's always so interesting about those who leave the LDS church, what doctrine that is taught that makes you unhappy?

What scripture in the Book of Mormon wouldn't you follow?
How doesn't every page on the BofM lead one to Christ?

If I die today and find that the LDS church isn't the Lord's church on the earth, I'm still a better man for following the teachings of the gospel in the LDS church and have no issues.

The path is straight, narrow and FEW be that find it. Even the very elect will be deceived. Peaceful is how I feel.

raybies
Layton, UT

The other day in a very technical forum, a number of very technical people started a tangent conversation about how mormons were weird. It was spawned by an article written that tried to compare mitt romney to a robot, but in the course of the discussion the topic turned to how weird mormons were.

I posted a comment, "I'm a mormon and I don't feel weird; though, Sometimes I'm accused of being an optimist."

I got a positive response by simply stating the truth that I was mormon. The whole premise of being wierder than other religions was dispelled because I was a fellow reader/user of this technical avenue.

I think people tend to create bubbles around themselves no matter who they are. They assume everyone that agrees with their perspective must be exactly like them. In that mindset it's easy to develop an US vs. THEM mentality, and unfairly condemn whole groups of people with whom we may actually be able to build bridges of commonality.

It helps just to let people know who you are. Let them judge from who you are and the good you do. Just don't hide it, and be open and up front. I think people appreciate that.

RanchHand
Huntsville, UT

It's really, really hard to hide from the truth or keep the truth from coming out in the end.

Allen
Salt Lake valley, UT

The thing that works for me is to wear two hats. When I go to church I wear my religious hat, and I'm comfortable with the story of the ark and flood, with the tower of Babel, Adam and Eve eating the fruit, and similar stories.

When I read scientific articles, I wear my science hat. I believe in evolution, because it's that best explanation that science has come up with. I also believe the earth was created in a physical but immortal form. I believe the mortal earth and evolution didn't come existence until after Adam and Eve ate the fruit. I don't believe the flood was a global flood that covered the whole earth. I don't believe the ark contained pairs of every species that existed on the earth at that time. I do believe the flood might have been a regional flood and that the ark might have contained animals and birds that existed in the area where Noah lived. I don't believe that Adam was the first mortal to exist, because science tells us there have been humans for hundreds of thousands of years, if not millions of years. I believe Adam was the first man, not to exist, but the first to make covenants with God.

Someday my two hats will merge into one hat, and I'm looking forward to that time, perhaps as a mortal and perhaps as a resurrected person. I think the Internet is a wonderful place to exchange information and ideas with others, to find out what kind and number of hats others wear.

Robbie512
PROVO, UT

Pretending in the sense that all those who don't believe in the Church can't be trusted, because they have an obvious bias, whereas those in the church do not. It think the bias can go both ways.

This, of course, rejects the assumption that the Church, true or not, must be good. The church requires a great deal from people, promising them grace, mercy and eternal happiness in return. If it's true, then it's absolutely wonderful, of course. But if it's not, then it's a terrible thing to be making such claims. Besides that, there's the question of whether or not your happiness comes from living in harmony with your beliefs (whatever they are), or from the substance of the beliefs themselves. That being said, I don't have any qualms with most church teachings, more so with their inability to say exactly what must be done to be saved. Sure, there are general principles, but no hard line, and this leads some (including myself) to seek security by pushing ourselves too hard. I think many members feel the same way, as evidence by books such as "Believing Christ," "The Continuous Atonement," "Weakness is not Sin," "Forgiving Ourselves," etc.

Searching . . .
Orem, UT

Uncle Charles, Regarding the painting:

The issue isn't that the painting was an artists interpretation of the events, but that the painting was commissioned by the church and inserted into educational materials with a purpose in mind. Church authorities obviously felt that members would be better off with this visual in mind when thinking of the translation process rather than one of Joseph Smith leaning over with his head in a hat, which would lead to some probing questions:

Why was his head in a hat? He was (allegedly) reading from a peep stone.

What is a peep stone? A common instrument used in Mr. Smith's era and culture for accessing spiritualistic information.

Did God give it to him with the Golden Plates? Mr. Smith found it while digging a well; you can make your own interpretations from that.

Did Joseph use it to gain access to God's will? He used it originally and a device for finding treasure for profit and was convicted in court of running a scam using the same stone.

Why would God have him use a stone so strongly connected to superstition and fraud when He had already provided the Urim and Thummim for translation?

Does that explain better how a picture could be used to divert attention away from other facts? Most people who read the BoM or study history rely on such pictures to visualize the scene. And each is worth a thousand words. It goes far beyond artistic license.

RanchHand
Huntsville, UT

@raybies;

"I'm a mormon and I don't feel weird; though, Sometimes I'm accused of being an optimist."

--

That is the best comment I've read all day. Thanks for making me smile.

Allen
Salt Lake valley, UT

Concerning topics in which new discoveries and understandings are being made, I think it is foolish to draw conclusions, especially those that seem to be sunk in "concrete", about those topics. Science is that way. The Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham are that way. LDS history is that way. I think it foolish for church members and non-members to make specific conclusions about science and about LDS history. There is always the possibility that new discoveries and interpretations may surface that disagree with our conclusions. Much better, I think, to accept scientific things and historical information on faith and prayer and leave the door open for future understandings and interpretations of those things.

We have a lot of information about Joseph Smith practicing polygamy, for example, but there are a lot of questions about that that remain unanswered. I accept on faith and prayer that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and I look for the good points of his life. I await future revelations about him that historians may give.

We all would like more specific guidance about the church and about our salvation, but I believe that type of guidance won't come until the Millennium. Until then, we have to live by faith and prayer in religious matters and keep an open mind about the future. I've been a runner for 39 years and I've learned to pace myself to avoid doing too much and burning out. I'm learning to pace myself about life, too.

atl134
Salt Lake City, UT

@Bill in Nebraska
"You are only being ASKED to give 10% to the Church."

You are only being ASKED to pay taxes too but people pay taxes to the gov't because they don't like the alternative.

@Uncle Charles
"I don't know of any church that doesn't claim to be the Lord's church and teaching the way to salvation. If they don't, why are there doors open?"

The United Methodist church doesn't. Heh okay let me clarify, the Methodist church doesn't believe it has sole authority of truth and that it doesn't matter if you belong to other denominations and as such it doesn't claim to be the "one true church".

"That's what's always so interesting about those who leave the LDS church, what doctrine that is taught that makes you unhappy?"

I left because there are doctrines I don't think are true. For instance, I don't believe the Book of Mormon is scripture but I wouldn't classify that doctrine on a happy-unhappy basis other than I guess maybe the notion that I was unhappy being tied to a covenant that I didn't believe.

sharrona
layton, UT

Re:Allen,I believe in evolution.

Evolution is in conflict with the teachings of Christ. He should not have healed the lame and the sick if progress is made by Survival of the Fittest. He taught self-sacrifice ,but evolution is necessarily based on self-preservation in the struggle for existence. Evolution is the basic premise of all humanistic and atheistic religions. Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism and other such faith are all essentially based on some form of evolution(pre-existence,accepting space-time cosmos as the ultimate eternal reality and denying any real transcendent Creator of the Cosmos. Judeo-Christianity is based on an uncreated creator of the universe or Aseity. For science Google, Reasons to Believe.
@Allen, guidance won't come until the Millennium?
a- "no", Amillennialism is held in the Eastern and Orthodox Churches , the Roman Catholic Church, which generally embraces an Augustinian eschatology ." Amillennialism(realized millennium) is also among Protestant denominations; Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, and Methodist .

Allen
Salt Lake valley, UT

Hi Sharrona,

Everyone who has studied genetics knows that DNA isn't passed perfectly from parent to child. Occasionally, distortions in the DNA occur, and these distortions may help hinder the survival of the person/animal/plant. There is nothing in the laws of science that would prohibit outside forces from modifying the passage of DNA, as long as those forces were laws of nature. I believe that God does cause outside forces to influence the passage of DNA.

You said "Evolution is in conflict with the teachings of Christ". I would be interested to hear of scriptures where the teachings of Christ conflict with evolution. The examples you gave of Christ healing the sick don't prohibit evolution. They are examples of Christ bringing other laws of nature into effect and causing the healing.

This is my fourth post, and I won't be able to discuss this further with you. My blog on science and Mormonism discusses evolution in great detail, and you are invited to continue our discussion there.

zoar63
Mesa, AZ

As a Church the LDS have quite an extensive written history to base its founding on but we still do not know the entire story. Contrast that to Christianity in general. They base their faith on a book that dates only to the third century A.D., a two hundred year gap from when Christ made his first appearance. I am sure that those later Christians that were gathering the materials that would be their handbook for their faith were all upstanding and perfect individuals without any sins or skeletons in their closets right. Political and religious motives never even crossed their minds, really? I wonder what ideas and events were altered, changed, suppressed back then.

sharrona
layton, UT

@Allen, I would be interested to hear scriptures where the teachings of Christ(God)conflict with evolution. OK
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the*prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe(aion =time,G.165).(Hebrews 1:1-2 )

In (2Tim 1:9 & Titus 1:2)God existed before time, implying he created time.

⦠God who gives life to the dead and Calls into Being things that were not.(Romans 4:17 NIV).

For in him we live and move and have our Being...(Acts 17:28)Creation is dependent on God for itâs very existence.
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.(Ecc 12:7).

*The office of the prophet ended.(Mt 11:13) *For all the prophets and the law prophesied Until John.
When God created the Universe, He made no use of pre-existing materials, Nor did he make the world out of His own being or essence(pantheism).

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