The prevalence of a spirit of contention amongst a people is a certain sign of deadness with respect to the things of religion. When men's spirits are hot with contention, they are cold to religion. - Jonathan Edwards “The Book of Mormon does not supplant the Bible. It expands, extends, clarifies, and amplifies our knowledge of the Savior. Surely, this second witness should be cause for great rejoicing by all Christians.” - Joseph B. Wirthlin

Monday, August 16, 2021

Unity vs the narcissism of small differences

Last night I attended a wonderful fireside with outstanding music and talks. Here's the program.

Everything about the evening was enjoyable, uplifting and inspiring. It couldn't have been better. 

This type of event is the reason why I endorse 90% of what Book of Mormon Central (BOMC) does. I respect, admire, and personally like everyone involved with BOMC . 

I was happy to greet and see several of the participants and those who wore the BOMC name tags (that surprisingly looked quite a bit like my own missionary name tag,* except with the BOMC logo instead of the Church's logo).

As readers here know, I don't mind that BOMC teaches M2C and SITH. People can believe whatever they want.

My only problem with BOMC is their refusal to acknowledge, let alone accommodate, other faithful interpretations of the scriptures and Church history. BOMC is an intellectual dead end in these areas, as evidenced by its Mayan logo.

Worse, BOMC employees and supporters aggressively attack other faithful members of the Church who don't accept their interpretations. It's inexplicable to me, except for the narcissism of small differences.

Here's a common description:

The narcissism of small differences is the thesis that communities with adjoining territories and close relationships are especially likely to engage in feuds and mutual ridicule because of hypersensitivity to details of differentiation.

Unlike BOMC, those of us who still believe what Joseph and Oliver taught about setting, historicity and origins of the text continue to recognize and accommodate alternative faithful interpretations, because we're fine with people believing whatever they want. I regularly link to their material. I want people to know what they believe and teach. We adopt the practice of recognizing multiple working hypotheses because the healthiest approach is to have everyone agree on all the facts and then consider a variety of interpretations while we all await new information. 

Unity results from mutual respect, not from enforcing only one of multiple working hypotheses.

I continue to hope that BOMC, its employees and supporters, will someday recognize that what unites us--our shared love for the Book of Mormon and our desire to share it with the world--is far more important than our differences of opinion about the setting, historicity, and origins. 

We'll know if and when that happens because BOMC will change its logo to replace the Mayan glyph with the actual language of the Book of Mormon--English. And BOMC will recognize and accommodate alternative faithful interpretations.

Will that ever happen?

Probably not.

But meanwhile, we continue to love and appreciate our M2C friends and colleagues and hope we can encourage them to do likewise.


*For those who don't know, my wife and I are currently serving a service mission.

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