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Posted by: Tal Bachman ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 05:06AM

For many ex-Mormons, the name of Dan Peterson elicits contempt. Maybe this is unfair. Maybe Dan, in person, is a great guy. But Dan has created, and then nursed, a very off-putting public persona for many years. Mormon head-counters will never know how many people struggling with their faith might have returned to church if, instead of being sarcastically berated by this so-called "defender of the church" for merely raising a concern in an online forum, they were heard out, patiently, or sensitively engaged. But, that was not Dan's style, at least in public. His own need to fuel his vanity by belittling others was always far more important to him than, say, a Christian duty to lovingly regather the lost sheep. For Dan, no matter what he enjoyed telling himself, it was only ever about him, and his own desperate need to feel smart, important, and powerful, at the expense of others.

Maybe this is why, also, so many members viewed him, and his colleagues, with shock and embarrassment: there just didn't seem to be anything there reminiscent of the spirit of Christianity which Mormonism pretends to represent. Peterson may have been entirely genial in person. Online and in print, he came across as self-absorbed, vainglorious, rancorous, mean, obsessed with even trivial score-settling, and in some palpable, but kind of inexplicable way, sociopathic. If, by some chance, his recent career troubles have resulted from his superiors finally realizing how bad he has made their beloved church look for the last thirty years, all I can say is, what took them so long?

This public persona was off-putting enough for those wondering about their Mormon faith; but making it even worse was Peterson's tendency, like that of many other congenital bullies, to veer quickly, in bi-polar-like fashion, from verbal stomping (with a kind of cold, remorseless glee), on those he decided were his "enemies" (often, honest people sincerely wondering about the truth of their beliefs), to blubbering like a third grade drama queen about how someone or other was victimizing him, every time someone finally got sick of his bullying or his nonsense, and called him out. It was always a freakshow with Peterson.

Another issue, for thoughtful Mormons and former Mormons alike, was simply the sheer spectacle of a man who - for reasons it is difficult to fathom - spoke of himself as a legitimate intellectual, but who regularly constructed or published defenses of Mormonism so utterly ludicrous, that bright eighth-graders could have seen them for what they were: circular, or fundamentally dishonest (since clearly there was no desire to get to the truth, but only to "defend the paradigm"), or reliant on thought-terminating cliches or obfuscatory language, or full of deliberate distraction tricks, like any two-bit magician might employ. And often, the pieces were all of those things combined.

Of course, Peterson was not the only one to do this sort of thing. The "let's just say *anything* we need to, to keep this thing going, to all keep ourselves believing" culture is pervasive in Mormonism. You see it once a month at testimony meeting, and you certainly saw it with other high-profile apologists. But at least testimonies are pretty straightforward: "God answered my prayer, this strengthened by faith in the Gospel, the end".

Peterson and his crew, by contrast, took this sort of thing into the stratosphere. If testimony meeting was a cup of tea, your average high profile Mormon apologetic piece, starting with Nibley, was like a Timothy Leary acid trip washed down with a bottle of mescaline-laced tequila and a hit of nitrous oxide. For all the (almost sad) academic pretenses, there was clearly no depth of absurdity to which Peterson and his goon squad would not stoop in order to try to keep themselves, and others, believing in what is just...not true.

These depths included, but were by no means limited to, postmodern (radical skeptic) defenses of "one true historical truth" claims; "cannibalistic" Book of Mormon defenses which blatantly relied on *contradicting* the text in order to try to protect the integrity of the text, as with the two Cumorahs theory; false claims (also known as "lies") that Mormon doctrine never taught that the American natives descended from Lehi; claims that Nephite "horses" were actually tapirs, or that Joseph didn't *really* mean he "translated" the Breathing Permit of Hor, or that everyone should disregard every datum noted in "An Insider's View of Mormon Origins" on grounds that Grant Palmer didn't really qualify as an "insider", despite being a lifetime Mormon, 34 year CES veteran, three time LDS Institute president, and member of the Mormon History Association, or a hundred other things.

No - there was no argument too ludicrous to make, no mindgame too crazy to play, no low too low to stoop to, as long as it seemed to hold out even a tiny chance that it would enable Peterson, or his colleagues, any member reading it, to just...keep on believing. That was all that mattered in the end: keep on believing. Not whether it was true or not - just, keeping the thing going. Just because. Just because it would hurt too much to recognize it for what it is.

And...that, too, is off-putting for people who care about the truth, Mormon or not. That IS what Mormonism is *supposed* to be about, after all - The Truth. It's *not* suppposed to be about merely "defending a paradigm", like Midgley and so many of the others would say. It is *not* supposed to be about BYU profs who literally could not get hired at a community college, running around getting money from rich, but naive Mormon donors, to support them financially while they sit around in brainstorming sessions trying to come up with yet another way of spinning away the latest damning evidence that the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction, or planning more useless conferences (no matter how many conferences they had, the church still wasn't true), or sitting around combing through RFM threads looking for mentions of themselves. If the church had any sense, they would have shut these guys down long ago.

But...that is where the story of Dan Peterson, Arch-Defender of God's Only True Religion! shows a different aspect. Sure, it's the story of an off-putting, deluded fanatic and crank who alternately stomps on people, and then starts blubbering whenever someone calls him out on his nonsense. It is also the story of a deeply pitiable character who is simply incapable of the cognitive feat of seeing what we all saw a long time ago.

I don't mean seeing that Joseph Smith invented his stories, though there is that; I mean, seeing how off-putting his schtick was; and seeing that it was in the best interests of the church to shut him and FARMS down many years ago; and especially, seeing the nature of the church as an entirely man-made institution. He could not see, though we could all see, that in the moment the church perceived him as no longer useful, it would drop him in a heartbeat, unceremoniously. His thirty years of, um, "apologetic service" wouldn't matter anymore. There is no way a man as singularly incapable of detached, critical thought about Mormon truth claims as Peterson is, could ever have seen that. And now, from what I gather, it has happened.

And, he probably still can't see the nature of the church as an institution. My guess is that his hurt and resentment is directed toward a few individuals, who he now regards as "enemies" - not *the church*. That the church is an insitution which, in the end, does not care about any individual, or him, *except insofar as those individuals help it to survive and grow*, has probably entirely escaped him. He no doubt just keeps reminding himself that "the church is perfect; the people aren't".

Dan might be able to see that institutions, and especially, ideological institutions, develop a kind of will and mind of their own; and that all they care about in the end is their own survival and growth. But I doubt he would ever have been able to see that this includes the institution of the Mormon church, which, like the others, can make no legitimate claim to being anything other than completely man-made. And like those others, it unhesitatingly sacrifices any individual which impedes its ability to survive and grow. That the church might very well dump Dan Peterson with ease one day was something we even discussed on here, six or seven years ago. If Peterson had read it, he probably thought our vision was clouded by "ex-Mormon rage" or whatever. And yet, it was nothing but the truth.

Here is one excerpt from a post of mine on here, from six or seven years ago, that RFM poster 3X just sent me:

"And this is why the specter of DCP kind of being used appears in the backs of our minds...How long would he last, if the church for one nanosecond thought he wasn't useful anymore?... Would anyone at HQ think twice about leaving Dan Peterson there holding the bag, once they decide that the position he's been defending just isn't working anymore...?"

This was not exactly a remarkable insight. Virtually everyone on here knew that was true. It was completely obvious. The point is that, Dan Peterson couldn't see it, and that is pitiable indeed.

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Posted by: Raptor Jesus ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 05:48AM

"He had a lot to say
He had a lot of nothing to say
We'll miss him
We'll miss him
We're gonna miss him
We're gonna miss him

So long
We wish you well
You told us how you weren't afraid to die
Well then, so long
Don't cry.
Or feel too down
Not all martyrs see divinity
But at least you tried

Standing above the crowd,
He had a voice that was strong and loud
We'll miss him
We'll miss him
Ranting and pointing his finger
At everything but his heart
We'll miss him
We'll miss him
We're gonna miss him
We're gonna miss him

No way to recall
What it was that you had said to me,
Like I care at all

But it was so loud
You sure could yell
You took a stand on every little thing
And so loud

Standing above the crowd,
He had a voice so strong and loud and I
Swallowed his fa├žade 'cause I'm so
Eager to identify with
Someone above the ground,
Someone who seemed to feel the same,
Someone prepared to lead the way, with
Someone who would die for me

Will you? Will you now?
Would you die for me?
Don't you fucking lie

Don't you step out of line
Don't you step out of line
Don't you step out of line
Don't you fucking lie

You've claimed all this time that you would die for me
Why then are you so surprised when you hear your own eulogy?

You had a lot to say
You had a lot of nothing to say

Come down
Get off your fucking cross
We need the fucking space to nail the next fool martyr

To ascend you must die
You must be crucified
For our sins and our lies

- Reverend Maynard James Keenan

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/24/2012 05:49AM by Raptor Jesus.

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Posted by: Marcionite ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 07:55AM

Come you masters of lies
You that use such big words
You that build up your church
You that build up your ego
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.

You that never done nothin'
But write to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a book in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the truth starts to fly.

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A false church can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain.

You fashion all the rhetoric
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
While your lies pile higher
You hide in Provo
As young people's beliefs
Flow out of their bodies
And are mocked by your peers.

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to even question
Into the world
For threatening my friends
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins.

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm apostate
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do.

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good?
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your lies take their toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand over your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead.

Okay, I'm not wishing this on him-I suspect in real life he may be a great guy, but his whole modus operandi reminds me of Masters of War.

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Posted by: hello ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 09:42PM

number one with a bullet! Full metal Jacket!

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Posted by: Surrender Dorothy ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 08:14AM

Thanks for coming back to visit, Tal. I hope you stay a while. You have been missed.

Your writing is, not surprisingly, as lyrical as it always was and your observations as keen and insightful.

As I read the part of your post about how little TSCC values Dan, it brought to mind one of the most disturbing movie scenes I've ever watched. <cue "Dueling Banjos"> TheBrethren are to toothless hillbillies as DCP is to "Squeal like a pig."

TSCC has no problem using, abusing, and discarding those it deems no longer useful with no regard to the pain and long term scars that can result. DCP seemed to delight in causing as much public humiliation as possible to those who dared question with his most hostile vitriol directed at those with the highest profiles.

So, Dan, just so you know...
Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug.
Some days you're the hillbilly, some days you're Bobby (the Ned Beatty character in "Deliverance).

Wardrobe, please find Dan a pair of Beatty-sized tighty whities. TSCC isn't quite done with him yet.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/24/2012 08:16AM by Surrender Dorothy.

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Posted by: NoToJoe (unregistered) ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 10:07AM

In my humble opinion FARMs has been very good to the ex-mormon community. I never spent much time there but when I first started to question I desperately wanted to know what the cult's response was to all the horrific things I was discovering about Ol'Horney Joe.

I went to farms and spent about 30 minutes there scanning several articles. I was left speechless and dumbfounded. The FARMs site and articles from DCP and company showed me very quickly that the cult had NO meaningful response. It demonstrated that they were desperately grasping a straws and had no serious counter argument. FARMs helped me move forward and dump the insanity. I'm sure without FARMs I would have ended up in the same place but it probably would have taken me longer.

Maybe the boys in the concrete phallus finally figured this out, but I think the Exmo community is better off with the freak show performing in all three rings under the YBU big top.

(And btw, its really good to hear from you again Tal....great post.)

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Posted by: What is Wanted ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 10:22AM

Great post Tal!

It is said "The wicked will be burned at the coming of the son of man"... well it looks like COJCOLDS has started the BBQ a little early by FRYING DCP!

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Posted by: PapaKen ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 10:25AM

Danny may be gone, but he STILL reminds me of Chief Wiggum (The Simpsons) - eating donuts out in the pasture.

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Posted by: cludgie ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 10:30AM

Thanks, Tal. Good to see you back.

Two of my moments of pride came when Peterson attacked comments of mine in the Washington Post and then in some other periodical. I figured if my comment was Dan-worthy, then it was worthwhile. Even more meaningful was my ability to easily parry or deflect his comments using demonstrable facts, much of which came from having my nose pointed to them on this very board over the last few years.

If Peterson was their best canon against so-called "anti-Mormons" (we need another name, seriously), then he's firing with damp powder. It has become too easy to debunk Mormonism.

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Posted by: anagrammy ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 12:10PM

If anti-Abortionists reframed themselves as "pro-choice" then we anti-Mormons can reframe ourselves as "pro-think."


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Posted by: Dave the Atheist ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 10:45AM

nice to see Tal posting here again.

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Posted by: xtbm ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 11:32AM

Great post, Tal. I think one interesting aspect about this whole situation is considering how much damage this move did to DCP's credibility. Suddenly, he is the apologetic equivilant of "damaged goods".

This move will be perceived as a direct repudiation of DCP on the part of the organization he had spent countless hours defending over the years. The "authority" that he had to unofficially speak on behalf of Mormonism was - I thought - a big part of his persona. That "authority", built over the course of decades, was just stripped away in a sinlge day.

The next time he engages in a debate with an "anti", he will have to also deal with the reality that this segment of his persona not only evaporated, but even became a liability. "Why should I listen to your arguments, Dan? Even the very organization that you defended for 30 years didn't support you in the end. Why should I?"

It will be interesting to see how visible he tries to be on the apologetic scene going forward, but I think it will be very hard for him to overcome the damage that was just inflicted. Whatever supposed credibility he had just got thrown out the window - tossed to the curb and added to the heap of discredited former Mormon points of view that he himself helped create...

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Posted by: greenkat ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 11:50AM

Tal, you are so eloquent and knowledgeable, and that damn cult lost out when you discovered the truth. I "like" your contribution about the DCP firing, and welcome anything you write.

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Posted by: 3X ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 11:57AM

That has to be the most concise, cogent dismissal of mormonism and in particular, the shuck and jive of mormon apologetics, that I've seen. The deconstruction of the Peterson personna was the piece de resistance.

NB: the older RFM post Tal referred to can be seen at:

halfway down the page; another relevant post he authored is 1/3 of the way down the page.

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Posted by: GNPE ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 12:09PM

Could Dan's demise portend an UPGRADE in apologetics?

(In the Universe of possibilities) Is such a thing possible?

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Posted by: GNPE ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 12:09PM

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Posted by: Emma's Flaming Sword ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 12:10PM

I find this whole thing endlessly entertaining, but I do have some sympathy for the poor dude. Hope this is a watershed event in his life and releases him from years of servitude to corrupt institution.

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Posted by: agree ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 01:00PM

"years of servitude to corrupt institution"

He blogged about Blacks and good coming from their slavery. He should consider how that might apply to him. "This is the true alchemy, turning lead into gold."

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Posted by: anagrammy ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 12:35PM

Excellent post. Glad to see you back. Your commentary here will be read by naughty Mormon lurkers and people on the fence by the thousands.

To them I say that truth DOES matter. Not looking at truth does not make facts go away. Today you are looking at a triumph of truth as the church directed the members to go to their local bishops (your neighbor the hardware store owner) or apologists for their doctrinal "answers."

Did they think members would mistake their attacks on the questioners as answers?


Now Mormon leaders are acknowledging that logical fallacies and circular reasoning aren't working and they are going in a different direction. Why does the Lord need a different direction from his One True Church?

He doesn't. They do. They are not representing the Lord. This church is not his church--and never was.

Jesus doesn't need apologists and doesn't need to hide. He was an advocate of transparency. The Mormon church is right about one thing- they are closer to the first century than any other church in existence.

Unfortunately, the part they most closely resemble are the pharisees which Jesus condemned as hypocrites--praying in public where all could see, while lying and having corruption inside.

Thanks for a terrific post, Tal, and hope things are going well with you and your family.


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Posted by: A ANON ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 12:39PM

Mormonism has always been undependable. It will turn on a dime when its self-preservation is threatened. Anyone who cannot turn quickly enough is sacrificed...ask Bruce R. McConkie who told the (Mormon) truth too well, but he told the truth just as the winds were shifting another direction. He flipped and flopped like a fish. His book(s), "Mormon Doctrine" is now just pseudo-correct, a pick-and-choose relic from the past.

He joins the ranks of Joseph Fielding Smith whose books are also a catalog of past embarrassments.

A good sycophant has to be fast on his feet. And a good sycophant has to have a terrible memory. The only truth is the "current truth" - according to the "current Prophet" - this according to E. T. Benson, who himself has become largely discredited, thanks to his own rule.

The only consistency is found on the Outside. The Outside asks "whether the church is true". The Inside asks "why the church HAS to be true". One side has vital mobility, the other is stagnant.

Dan may want to consider changing sides.

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Posted by: Jeezus ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 12:47PM

Mormonism is just another problem with this toxic 2000 year old cult.

But I get your point with respect to DCPs hypocrisy vs being a 'good christian'. However he is just like most christians I've encountered: clueless, arrogant pricks.

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Posted by: rationalguy ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 12:50PM

He acted like a douche nozzle because he saw himself as a special sort of defender of the faith. Then as soon as he became a liability to the powers that be, he was thrown out like a dirty diaper. Poor deluded bastard. I pity him, and wish he'd jump ship and join us. That would be so perfect. I'm not holding my breath 'til that, though.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/24/2012 12:51PM by rationalguy.

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Posted by: toto ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 12:50PM

IF DCP reads your eulogy, really reads it, he'll be astounded at how well you picked his brain apart. How do you get that kind of insight? Man, oh man.

I agree that he'll look at his dismissal as the decision of a few individuals rather than the work of an institution. Sad to imagine that he won't see the stupidity of it all. But then, if he does realize the fallacy of the church as an institution, he'll also have to deal with the embarrassment of the massive public display of apologetic statements he made on behalf of the church. So many of us have gone through hell and have come through with flying colors in leaving the church but he'll have to deal with even more angst if he finally agrees the church is bunk.

Thanks for posting this spot-on insightful take on Daniel Peterson's life and death as an apologetic. Glad you're still reading and posting when you like because your opinions mean so much.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/24/2012 12:52PM by toto.

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Posted by: janeeliot ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 05:19PM

Nice post, Tal.

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Posted by: Don Bagley ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 06:17PM

Well thought out and erudite, Tal. Thank you for sharing your insights.

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Posted by: freetochoose ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 06:29PM

I wondered if you would weigh in on this since you've gone a few rounds with him yourself. Nice eulogy. Probably sux to be him right now.

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Posted by: Tall Man, Short Hair ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 06:36PM

Good to see you back, Tal. Great post.

I think we'll start seeing "dinosaur" used more and more to describe the apologists of DCP's era. The church cannot withstand the increased scrutiny of the media while embracing the sophomoric antics of so many current apologists.

And once we remove fallacious arguments from their bag of tricks, what will they be left with? Please move in an orderly fashion to the egress . . .

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Posted by: george ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 06:44PM

I doubt DCP will jump ship and join us. Rather I see him as possibly getting into bed with a fundamentalist branch of Mormonism (several different communities come to mind).

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 07:18PM

Nice to see you back, Tal. You gave a very insightful commentary. I agree with you that it was foolish of DP not to see this as a very possible outcome.

The church would be wise to quit defending the indefensible.

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Posted by: Uncle Dale ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 08:18PM

Tal Bachman Wrote:
> For many ex-Mormons, the name of Dan Peterson...

Good to see you back, Tal -- I hope you'll take the
time to offer folks here a bit more of your insight.

We are in uncharted waters now --

It will be interesting to see what the future brings.

A forthcoming split in the Church? -- Not impossible;
but unlikely to produce any viable results.

A forthcoming retreat to the Nibleyesque past? -- Again,
a possibility, but that will lead nowhere good.

Your predictions for what we'll be saying here, a
year from now.... ???

Dale R. Broadhurst

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Posted by: terangia ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 08:53PM

I think that with his ego continuously involved, Peterson is likely to blame the church rather than himself. Look for a dramatic apostasy and a powerful memoir, with himself at the center of events. He's actually far more an insider than Palmer ever was.

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Posted by: NormaRae ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 10:04PM

...The Book of Mormon as inspired parables, not actual historical events? Of course, leading to the eventual "we never said it was historical."

It's just long past being able to be defended as historical. There are mountains and mountains and mountains of evidence against that and what? One three-consanant word on a rock in Yemen that supposedly supports it? So when the Maxwell Institute guy says they're moving toward serious scripture discussion, will it be that they tell members to only discuss the scripture itself and not try to put it in a historical context?

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Posted by: Tal Bachman ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 10:34PM

Terangia - I don't think so. He will blame "enemies" who "betrayed him", not the church. He can't live without the church. He'll never leave it.

Maybe we should start a betting pool! :)

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Posted by: ozpoof ( )
Date: June 24, 2012 11:07PM

DCP like Packer are only useful in so much as they snap true believers out of their stupor. So ridiculous are the assertions of these men and their ilk, that even the most vacuous and bovine of TBMs stop and think, "wait a minute".

I can't believe Denial lasted this long, for he destroyed the beliefs of the church in order to explain away the anachronisms and geographical problems.

One would think someone with a PhD would avoid all the non-scientific pitfalls he fell into, and sought out, in order to explain the inexplicable and rationalize the irrational. The compartmentalism in this man's mind is astounding. It must chip away at sanity to have two tectonic plates - truth and testimony - smashing into each other for so long.

Of course he had to take this psychological distress out on all and sundry. His venom came from deep within. Quite sad really.

Let's hope he starts a podcast. It would make my commute fly by.

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Posted by: Matter Unorganized ( )
Date: June 25, 2012 12:24PM

Thanks, Tal!

I've been wondering about these things lately, but not in the context of this DCP story. The historicity of the BoM (or, more accurately, the lack thereof) has been in the front of my mind recently, as I try to contemplate how to deal with my TBM wife. The RLDS (Community of Christ) has downplayed the BoM in recent years, and I wonder if the Utah church could be far behind.

I seem to recall the "brethren" a few years ago telling members to read the BoM prayerfully, as an inspired work of scripture, and not as an historical record.

Tom Perry said in 2005 "How often we read the record primarily as a history of a fallen people, failing to remember that it was compiled by inspired prophets for the purpose of helping us come unto Christ. The major writers of the Book of Mormon did not intend it to be a history book at all..."

Russel Nelson said in 2010 "You can invite a friend to read the Book of Mormon. Explain that it is not a novel or a history book. It is another testament of Jesus Christ. Its very purpose is 'to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.' There is a power in this book that can touch the hearts and lift the lives of honest seekers of truth. Invite your friend to read the book prayerfully."

It may not seem like much, but the seeds are being planted.

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