Thursday, March 1, 2012
I've recently had a few discussions about Mormonism and 'anti,' apologetics, and issues with the Church. One was a co-worker, another a person feeling 'in-between' on leaving the church or staying, a couple discussions in the Utah Valley atheist group, or on the Mormon Expression page. Tons of people always say they 'know' about the real problems, they recognize them, but maybe still believe or are in-between. I find there are two types of people who say this:
Those who think they know the actual issues but don't.
Those who know some issues but don't know much about others.
If I am ever involved in a debate or discussion with multiple people who have opposing polemic stances I usually favor the person in the middle who says, "See, I'm just not so sure." Not because they are unsure, not because they 'appear' unbiased, and not because they are trying to find an answer in the middle (there's no "middle" in a debate on if the Sun is closer than the moon), but because this person is likely to have looked at both extremes and is possibly seeing a bigger picture. They could be weighing both arguments more fairly. They could know more facts and have read up on more opinions to have reached a point of 'not being sure.'
Now some of you will have already noticed what I did. But let me make it clear: Joseph Smith was correct, there is no middle ground with Mormonism. At least not in belief. I love Mormon Expression, and I do have a level of respect for Mike and the TBMs who take part in the ME community and podcast. But often Mike has no actual answer to the big issues that get discussed there. He has 'his' answer, he has an apologetic answer, he has a way to throw possible 'doubt' on the issue, but most often he doesn't have answers to the big questions when they are questions against the truthfulness of the LDS church. Same with other people I talk with. Second hand. I should mention I have yet to discuss big issues with any Mormons directly. I simply have never felt the need and they never ask. They never do, and I understand that. Most are afraid. And for me that is one reason to stay away from the church. If you can't even question it, within yourself, then something is wrong with what you are stuck in.
With Mormonism, when you get a big picture either you will be like Mike or you become like me. If it is true then you will blind-side yourself to some of the big questions, recognizing you have no answers but ignoring it all the same, or it is false and all those straws form a nice big weight to tear it down. This has nothing to say on attitude towards the LDS church. The church's idea of ''anti'' is quite astounding once you are 'out' of the culture/belief system. Just the fact that questioning it is bad or means you are sinful says enough of the cult-like atmosphere left over as a remnant of the cult the church truly used to be. (and by cult I am referring to any religion that would make you think "1984").
With a couple of these discussions things could be mentioned, like polygamy, blacks and the Mormon priesthood, Book of Abraham. But usually nothing of even what Egyptian hieroglyphs actually are, the polyandry, Masonry, Richard Lyman, or the Kinderhook plates. So, to freshen my memory on these issues, and to expand my knowledge of 'things I do not know,' I plan on doing some reading and studying (like the best sections of Rough Stone Rolling, the Setting the Record Straight series, checking out No Man Knows my History, reading Written by his hand on papyrus), listening (go through more LDS podcasts, ME just came out with a Kinderhook episode which also spurred my motivation), and writing out notes and making big pictures for myself.
Now, I am not implying I am 'better' and know so much more. Knowing 'facts' doesn't make me a better person. It doesn't help me be more ethical or drive slowler (the speed limit). But I do get annoyed when people say 'oh, i know what you know, but ..." uh... No. You don't. If you do then you'd ask what I know, you have no idea what I know. And so far I've never met a person who said they did, and then knew some of things I brought up. It seems like only those people who have spent over 300 hours listening to podcasts taking critical looks into the LDS church and who had a year of being lazy on the mission and buying and reading nearly three dozen apologetics books by LDS scholars would know as much as I do. I've wasted a lot of my life on this. And thousands of others have wasted more. But so long as we have gone to the source on these things, we might as well tell others who do not know. That's what I love about ME. I do always learn something new, something I did not know that I did not know.
(Holy shit I spelled "Johari" right on my first try! I thought I would not be able to remember what it was, lol) I like the Johari Window construct from the field of psychology. Here's a picture, and I will explain:
For my purpose I am relating this to Mormonism, obviously. There are things you know that you know; these things are known to others. There are things you believe you know, but are not known to others and therefore may not be true, or at least are not objective. There are things known that you do not know: your Blind Spot. And last, and most relevant, there are things that you do not know that you do not know.
Book of Abraham. Most people, who are smart, know there are issues with it: arena. You might be aware that the facsimiles do NOT say what Joseph Smith said they do, while most Mormons are not aware (except Egyptologists like the ones at BYU who read The Pearl of Great Price): facade. There's thing you don't know but others do, like how many critics will point out how we have Joseph Smith's notes next to the hieroglyphs and he was NOT translating them correctly, AT ALL: blind spot. Lastly, the Unknown ... some new details I will hopefully learn soon.
The problem is this: #1 - for any TBMs they will say i just used 'anti.' No, i just used facts, and #2 - these are facts readily available to everyone. You can Google what hieroglyphs are and learn in 5 seconds how they are phonetic sounds, not sentences and paragraphs. I have the Egyptian 'alphabet' on papyrus, framed, at home. Joseph Smith's writings, journals from his scribes, and Times and Seasons are almost all publicly available, and that's where we have his incorrect translations. Lastly, the papyrus was found, experts looked at it, including people from BYU. They gave their 'opinions' on what it said and it was not the Book of Abraham. And that's just the tip of that one.
I have talked about a few of these things before but over the next month or so I will release more scholarly posts on what I'll deem the Big 5. Book of Abraham, Richard Lyman, and the Adam-God Doctrine will be on there. I feel these three things, put together are probably the biggest issues the church faces from a 'Aha!' standpoint. I'll make the rest of the list later, probably as I go along, who knows, maybe one of these will be replaced by another as I learn more.