Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Consensus between LDS scholars and their critics: SITH and M2C

In my view, most people in the world seek a Zion-like society, with freedom and opportunity that enables life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Everyone should have a good education, medical care, meaningful employment, and opportunities for family life, recreation, travel, etc.

People don't know where to turn for such a society, though. Societies throughout the world are politically divided. World conditions are continually improving, but divisions endure. Part of the problem is we're all dealing with the weaknesses of human nature (the natural man) that makes it difficult for us to live by our own ideals.

I think the best way to establish Zion in the world is through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because no other voluntary organization has the infrastructure, organization, and teachings that can lead to a Zion society. That said, the goal of Zion has been obscured by debates over doctrinal and social issues. I think people can "do Zion" regardless of their doctrinal beliefs. Hence my blog https://howtozion.blogspot.com/.  

A major obstacle to establishing Zion are debates with critics over the theories of LDS intellectuals.

LDS apologetics has been problematic for a long time. Too often, LDS apologists have resorted to logical and factual fallacies, including ad hominem attacks. Of course, I disagree with much of what they say because they discount and even repudiate the teachings of the prophets in favor of their own theories. 

Specifically, LDS intellectuals have come to agree with long-time critics and unbelievers about the translation and geography issues. They have reached a "consensus" with critics and unbelievers about SITH and the New York Cumorah (M2C).

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Lately, the web page MormonStories.org has focused on LDS apologetics with three podcasts. 

One focused on finances, pointing out that the M2C citation cartel (Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, FairMormon, etc.) have raised $28 million in recent years. It's appalling to me that these organizations have spent so much money to promote both SITH and M2C, while censoring faithful interpretations of Church history that contradicts SITH and M2C.

Another podcast focused on the different generations affected by apologetics. Boomers, Millennials, Gen X and Gen Z grew up with different conditioning and cultures, leading to different assumptions about the world and different expectations. That's a great topic for another discussion. 

A third podcast was an interview with Zelph on the Shelf, a name that epitomizes the problem with M2C. M2C forces faithful LDS to put "Zelph on the shelf" meaning they cannot reconcile M2C with what Joseph said about Zelph. The best effort I'm aware of is the "hinterlands" theory that Zelph lived in an area far from the main environment of the Nephites in Mesoamerica and that the various accounts are unreliable anyway because they refer to Cumorah in New York.

I think MormonStories does a good job promoting its narrative as a home for "post-Mormons" who deal with "faith transition." John Dehlin expresses empathy and understanding for people who, like him, do not believe the narratives promoted by LDS intellectuals, which he also attributes to LDS Church leaders. However, he seems oblivious to the alternative interpretations of LDS history and the Book of Mormon that corroborate the teachings of the prophets with external evidence.

This leads to another strange consensus between the M2C citation cartel and MormonStories: both groups resist alternative ideas and interpretations.

Consequently, we see Dehlin and other critics going back and forth with LDS apologists, promoting and debunking one another's assumptions. Both sides are simply confirming their biases. 

Meanwhile, many faithful LDS such as me think both sides are resorting to straw man arguments. 

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Although I've spent a lot of time focusing on the fallacies of the M2C citation cartel, the same fallacies are found throughout MormonStories.  

MormonStories basically takes the teachings of LDS intellectuals as a given, then points out how irrational they are, how much they contradict the teachings of the prophets, etc. It's an effective strategy. The recent antics of the FairMormon videos and the fine young LDS scholars associated with the M2C citation cartel display a defensiveness that lends credibility to the MormonStories narrative. Many faithful LDS lose confidence after consulting the work of the LDS apologists and intellectuals.

Most of the interviews on MormonStories involve LDS or former LDS who, like LDS intellectuals, have chosen to repudiate the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah and the translation of the Book of Mormon. Instead, accept the assumptions of the M2C citation cartel that:

(i) Joseph Smith did not translate the plates with the Urim and Thummim and

(ii) the Hill Cumorah is not in New York.

Because I disagree with both of those conclusions, I decided to start a new blog to review Mormon Stories.

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I assume that both LDs intellectuals and critics have sincere intentions, given their assumptions and beliefs. I'm fully in favor of freedom of choice, but I also encourage people to make informed decisions. I think both MormonStories and the LDS citation cartel discourage people from making informed decisions.

My blog on MormonStories is in early stages, but here's a link to the page on Cumorah. 

https://mormonstoriesreviewed.blogspot.com/p/hill-cumorah.html

I'm following the same technique I have for the M2C citation cartel and Church historians. I'll post their articles in blue, with my comments in red, so you can see exactly who is saying what. 

I think that's the clearest way to help people make informed decisions.

You can see examples of this at 

http://interpreterpeerreviews.blogspot.com/

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