Review: An Imperfect Book: What the Book of Mormon Tells Us about Itself

An Imperfect Book: What the Book of Mormon Tells Us about Itself
An Imperfect Book: What the Book of Mormon Tells Us about Itself by Earl M. Wunderli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I highly recommend reading An Imperfect Book, by Earl Wunderli, to anyone interested in focusing in on what the text of the Book of Mormon says about its own origins.

Wunderli uses the text of the Book of Mormon itself as his evidence to explore its origins by looking at character/place names, word-use distribution, idioms, prophesies, subject matter, concepts, etc. He also does a great job at surveying the extensive history of scholarship on the Book of Mormon’s authorship, geography, translation, and historicity, comparing it to what the BoM text actually says; letting the evidence speak for itself in relation to both apologists and critics alike, with little need for additional commentary.

While this book covers a lot of the typical questions regarding the Book of Mormon, it is by no means comprehensive. Wunderli notes that in making this book, his editor asked him to cut his content in half. This has allowed for a very concise book that focuses on the essentials and engages a wider reading audience without belabouring his points. Personally, I would have welcomed another hundred pages or so —because of my intense interest in the subject matter— but alas, I will have to track down and read his previous essays for a more detailed analysis.

His writing style and approach is very easy to read, academic, and neutral, in that his tone shouldn’t offend or discourage anyone with an open mind to the evidence. If you are a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who is willing to take your study of the Book of Mormon to a deeper level, you too will come to understand what makes it An Imperfect Book.

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3 Meetings with an LDS General Authority, 2012/2013 ~ Grant H. Palmer

This blog post purports to be written by Grant Palmer, and discloses some rather damning insight into the current General Authorities and their beliefs toward the truthfulness of Mormonism and the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

While this blog post does align with statements made by Grant Palmer at the 2012 ExMormon Foundation Conference, which I attended, I’d be grateful if someone could help to authenticate this post and it’s claims!

journeyofloyaldissent

The following very interesting memorandum was received on 5th April 2013 from Grant H. Palmer, and  is shared here with his permission.

grant palmer

Grant is a renowned LDS historian, and is author of “An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins”, which is referred to in the following memorandum. Further details of that book may be found here:

http://signaturebooks.com/2010/02/an-insiders-view-of-mormon-origins-2/

Three Meetings with a LDS General Authority, 2012- 2013

Grant H. Palmer

 

In mid-October 2012, a returned LDS Mission President contacted me to arrange a meeting. Several days later, he called again and said that a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy also wished to attend. He said the General Authority would attend on condition that I not name him or repeat any stories that would identify him. He explained that neither of them, including the GA’s wife, believed the founding claims of the restoration were true. He clarified that they…

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Protect the Children: Overview

Dallin H. Oaks

Dallin H. Oaks

Elder Dallin H. Oaks recently gave a talk titled, “Protect the Children”, during the Saturday session of the October 2012 General Conference broadcast. In this talk, Oaks described many ways children suffer abuses around the world, and how these abuses are the result of “selfish adult interests.”

Oaks touched on the tragic situations common among children in third-world nations, such as high infant mortality rates due to malnutrition and preventable or treatable disease, and children being forced to fight in wars as soldiers or exploited in prostitution and pornography. He even addressed wealthier nations’ children, some of whom suffer both physically and mentally from neglect, prenatal damage, insufficient health care, poor education, and dangerous living conditions. However, in what could have been a wide-scale call to action for humanitarian aid — as the Church has done for political campaigns — he chose to associate these kinds of epidemic abuses with the “disadvantages” of children born into or raised by non-traditional families.

While the subject matter (the welfare of children worldwide) is a worthy cause for greater awareness and concern, this is ultimately not the focus of Oaks’ talk. He shamefully used this subject as a means of reinforcing the presumed importance of heterosexual marriages and nuclear families, by claiming that any other family arrangement can have devastating consequences to child welfare and development. In first presenting humanistic concerns for the dire conditions in third-world nations, he bridged the general suffering of these children with the assumed suffering of those in non-traditional families. He conflated the severity and type of suffering as being equal across all non-ideal living situations. This gives his audience the impression that children raised by single or gay parents are being victimized or otherwise disadvantaged to the same extent as those who are starving in Africa or being trafficked into slavery.

Oaks began his talk with two overt logical fallacies in an attempt at manipulating his audience to unquestioningly accept his position. The first is an appeal to emotion where he said, “We can all remember our feelings when a little child cried out and reached up to us for help… Please recall those feelings as I speak about our responsibility to protect and act for the well-being of children.“ Invoking   compassion and empathy in this way has the effect of encouraging his listeners to feel, rather than think about what he’s saying.

He immediately followed this with a second fallacy, an appeal to authority. Oaks reminded his audience that his position as an “Apostle is responsible to witness to the entire world” and that he speaks “from the perspective of the gospel of Jesus Christ, including His plan of salvation.” Later in the talk, he also mentioned his “service on the Utah Supreme Court.” However, none of his authoritative positions qualified him to speak on child welfare, childhood development, social services, sociology, psychology, statistics, economics, history, medicine, or scientific research of any kind. Yet, by appealing to his assumed existential authority, he presented himself as a knowledgeable and trusted source, and proceeded to touch on every one of the aforementioned fields of study.

Oaks tried to mitigate some potential backlash by claiming not to “speak in terms of politics or public policy” but he “cannot speak for the welfare of children without implications for the choices being made by citizens, public officials, and workers in private organizations.” While this would normally be seen as an honest and forthright acknowledgement of the implications of his talk, it is undermined by his later criticism of specific laws and policies that he deems immoral or promoting immorality. What is a true believing Mormon to do when a leader of the Church, who claims authority to speak for a perfectly moral and loving god, condemns such laws and policies? Oaks’ attempt at distancing himself from politically charged rhetoric seems disingenuous.

Throughout his talk, Oaks referred to adult selfishness as being the underlying cause of children’s suffering. Whether it be the exploitation of children, abortion, or divorce, among others. Though this is by no means a new theme, Oaks capitalizes on the audience’s emotions on another level: guilt and shame. By demonizing any action that puts the needs of the parent ahead of the immediate needs of the child, one is left with the impression that staying in an emotionally neglectful or combative marriage is preferred over filing for divorce, for the sake of the children. This attitude toward the needs of the parent(s) ignores the potential for the longterm benefits of having two separated-but-emotionally-stable parents for the sake of a marriage certificate.

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Special thanks to go my wife and partner, Eileah, for her continual support, encouragement and her critical mind.

Though I originally read this a week ago, I find myself amazed at how well-writen this open letter to the LDS Church’s presidency is. Because of this, I’ve decided to reblog this on my own site. I hope you enjoy.

Steve Bloor's Blog

An Open Letter to Europe Area Presidency by Chris Ralph.

In two parts:
Initial Open Letter (below) sent 28th August 2012
Second (Follow-up) Open Letter sent 5th October 2012 ( http://stevebloor.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/a-second-open-letter-to-the-europe-area-presidency/)

Initial Open Letter
Posted on August 28, 2012

(Please Re-Post, Tweet, Share & Re-Blog to help us reach as many General Authorities, Priesthood Leaders & members as possible.)

The following letter was sent by the Europe Area Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to its Stake Presidents and Bishops, and various other leaders in April 2012. It was sent in response to the increase in levels of disaffection of members who were encountering the problematic history of the church through the medium of the internet. The letter was soon afterwards leaked to rank and file members and ex-members, and became a public document. It is here reproduced, together with my response in the form…

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Walking the [Gay] and Narrow Path

Last week, a blogger by the name of Josh Weed, posted a personal story that quickly went viral. Why? Because Josh Weed came out as a gay Mormon man who is happily married to a woman. I’ve decided to write a response to Weed’s story, not so much because of what he said, but mainly for what was not said: his omissions and the implications of his story on the wider LDS and LGBT communities.

You can read his story on his blog, The Weed, here: Club Unicorn: In which I come out of the closet on our ten year anniversary.

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Superstition, Rationality, and the Merits of Religion: A Facebook Debate

Last month, I was engaged in yet another Facebook debate — this time with an old work colleague of mine, who’s non-LDS. It turned out to be a great example of the kind of debate in which I wish I could engage my family and close friends, since I found it to be both intellectually challenging and amicable. Unfortunately these days, my family and friends rarely engage me in anything other than idle chit-chat, fearing that I’ll bring something up that will make them “uncomfortable”; but I digress.

The debate started off discussing whether irrationality and/or superstition is a requirement to do others harm; branched into a debate on whether Hitler was a theist or not; then came to a comparison of definitions of religion & other philosophies.

With permission from the other parties, I have decided to include the entire debate below; I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

[Note: due to Facebook’s limited abilities, I’ve taken the liberty of re-formatting the text of the debate for my blog. I’ve modified paragraph & line breaks, fixed typos, added emphasis, etc. Other than this, the debate remains unedited in terms of content. I’ve also colour-coded each speaker to make it easier to follow the conversation: I (Tom) am red, Travis is blue, and Jason is green.]

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The 2011 Brodie Awards!

The 2011 Brodie Award nominations are in, and I’m in two categories! If you have enjoyed reading my blog, you can vote for me in the following two categories:
Best New Blog: Progressive ExMormon
Most Poignant Personal Story: “Life After Death

The third annual Brodie Awards are to highlight excellent work from all over the LDS-interest internet (both critical and apologetic views). The awards are named after Fawn M. Brodie, who authored one of the first comprehensive (and critical) biography on Joseph Smith entitled, “No Man Knows My History”.

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UPDATE:
Unfortunately, I didn’t win the Brodie Award in either category, but would like to congratulate all those who won. You can click here to see the list of the winners.

Review: An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins

An Insider's View of Mormon Origins
An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins by Grant H. Palmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, by Grant H. Palmer, is a solid overview of the documented facts surrounding Joseph Smith Jr., the Book of Mormon, and the beginnings of the Mormon religion. With Palmer being a practicing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a three-time director of the LDS Institutes of Religion, a former LDS seminary teacher, and a member of the Mormon History Association, I was fully expecting his book to be an apologetic view of Mormon origins, which I’m pleased to say was not the case. Palmer lays out a very well researched and referenced exposé of the foundational aspects of Mormonism that would make any ‘anti-Mormon’ proud.

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Life After Death

I had just celebrated my thirteenth birthday, by having a typical sleep-over party with a few of my friends. We stayed up all night playing NBA Jam on my Sega Genesis, eating junk food, and talking about our lives as eighth-graders. I had no way of knowing that I was a mere nine days from the most devastating and life-changing event of my life; I was about to face reality in a way I never imagined possible.

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Review: Tell it All, A Woman’s Life in Polygamy

Tell it All: A Woman's Life in Polygamy
Tell it All: A Woman’s Life in Polygamy by Fanny Stenhouse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tell It All is the heartbreaking autobiography of Fanny Stenhouse. Her story begins with her as a young woman returning home to England, after spending some time in France, to discover that her family had converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While investigating her family’s new-found faith, she became the object of one of the Elders’ affections. They were soon married and subsequently ‘counseled’ to serve a mission for the Church while in impoverished conditions. It was only after years of whispered rumours (and public denials by apostles) of polygamy being practiced among their American counterparts, that Joseph Smith’s polygamic ‘revelation’ was finally disclosed in England. Her adventures only truly began when she and her husband were later ‘counseled’ to emigrate to the ‘promised land’ of Utah, where she learned, first-hand, the detrimental effects of Brigham Young’s institutionalized polygamy.

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