All the pdfs I’ve posted this year have been removed. If you are missing some part of the cultural history, let me know. I’ll not entertain, “can you send me the whole thing?” sort of requests, but if you’ve been reading along, and missed one, I will send that.
Let me give just a few thoughts and responses to questions, drawing on a request quoted below:
“…would you please do YOUR version of the ‘articles of faith’ (kind of) to set the record straight as to the many BoM intricacies ie:
-joseph a prophet/seer or not?
-d&c true or false, or which parts are specifically?
-d&c 76 bogus? Rigdon didnt really see the vision?
-sect 124 true?
-who the heck are the lamanites?
-all accounts of healings and angelic visits in e as rly lds history bogus?
– etc etc”
Good questions. Answers?
I’m not going to explain why I believe what I write below to be true, because I’ve written nearly 2000 pages, and freely distributed them, giving in these writings what evidence I find reasonable.
The first answer I give, as I see it:
Yes, Joseph was a prophet/seer, as I understand the term. How do I decide in his favor? The Book of Mormon is evidence enough for me…add to that his other sermons and generally ridiculous way of living and dying, and he comes out more than a prophet and seer. If you have questions about the Book of Mormon, (“what about this or that, steel, or Indian DNA?”), I say, read what I’ve written, and then we’ll talk.
Does that mean everything someone says Joseph said, is really true and inspired? No. Aside the problem of accuracy in reporting, infallibility is not something we can attribute to him. Moreover, Joseph prefaced his entire career as the on-going prophet of the Church of Christ with his reading of Ezekiel 14.
It seems to me the question about Joseph, this question is asking something like, “Do you believe there are still puzzles, or has mankind discovered and explained everything already, (i.e., the universe will suck in on itself and nothingness alone will be, just as it is after death, if nothingness can be)?”
Do the atheists have it right, or, Should we believe in Gods, this late in the history of the world?
They are old, and tired, but still around. The Gods, I mean.
Not the atheists, who more often than not are young, energetic and ambitious.
I think the spirit lives after the body dies, and that darkmatter is bullshit.
Re: Science. If you want to see what scientists are really firm on, in terms of the nature of things, read some scientific journals. Try it. You’ll learn quickly that very little is as definite and settled as it is portrayed in popular science writings, or worse when it comes to simplification, in PBS or FOX specials. This is true for physics, biology, genetics, archaeology, food science, medicine, and so on.
If you come away in despair from your reading of the ongoing and ever present disputes in science journals — how it seems no one really “knows” anything, at least, not without facing equally reasonable doubts among most of their peers — if this discourages you, it may be because you are looking for religion in the wrong place. If you come away pleased that the world is not so narrow as you’d been told, you have the right to wonder about it.
The universe wasn’t created, and it isn’t going away, I’m guessing. If we are condemned to exist always, we might as well start doing what we really want to do, and that might as well be good, rather than evil. No one can kill me, and I am not my body of flesh. We are, that we might have joy. Whatever we are, it is “ontologically” found in what we sometimes call “joy.” Or light.
Now, if something being created will be destroyed, what do we make of our resurrected bodies? Apparently, either temporary things; or they are “made” from what is eternal about us, “restored” in the image of the body’s primordial creation in the Beginning. Just another puzzle to wonder about.
That takes us, I suppose, to D&C.
I would say anything purporting to be “revelation” received or given before 1832 should be treated as an apple from an old, long nosed, wrinkly hag. Maybe it’s just an apple, maybe a magic one, and maybe that magic is good. Or it will put you into spiritual sleep, to be looked after, and over, by seven homely dwarves (or is it twelve, plus three)?
If we look into D&C 76, we can begin to discern more reliable from less reliable “revelations,” on principles having nothing to do with “what is said.”
First, if written from someone’s perspective, a vision, for example, such a writing must be read as being written from someone’s perspective. In the case of D&C 76, it is clearly Rigdon’s, and clearly run through Campbellite restorationist dogma. Does that mean he didn’t see anything? Not at all. I think D&C 138, for instance, reports a real vision, but that Joseph F. Smith saw it through a cracked lens. It seems rare that we do as Joseph Smith, the Original (junior), taught: if we receive a vision, ask for the interpretation, as well. And then write it down, without interpretation by you, or in an attempt to prove some notion or belief is really correct.
Second, if one hears the Voice, and feels that light which comes with it, and the Voice speaks in clear English (maybe even complete sentences), I would say the report of that Voice’s saying is probably accurate. The interpretation? Well…
Second-and-a-half: No, the strange visions and miracles of the early church of Christ weren’t all bogus, but they weren’t all legitimate, either. There were liars then, as there are liars today, from top to bottom and to the side. And people then, as today, used their words in ways that allowed for others to interpret what they said as saying something miraculous happened, when maybe it wasn’t really quite so concretely miraculous.
Where does a “vision” start, where the “voice of the Lord” begin, as something distinct from ordinary vision and hearing? Maybe there’s a big neon sign that says, “You are having a vision, starting now!” Or, “Hey Daymon, it’s Jesus here, can we talk for a minute?” But it seems that one can call anything a “vision,” or a “revelation,” and just (silently) redefine what one means by these terms.
Until we have clear boundaries, of what we mean by terms like “vision” or “revelation” or “second comforter,” we might as well wander into minefields, meadows, or minds without concerning ourselves with the practical differences.
Perhaps our language has built into us a measure of unbelief? Where did we learn to speak of visions distinct from vision, of some feelings being “special,” or some voices not being our own? This is the sort of question that in answering, would require greater knowledge than I can even begin to outline.
Third, if one says, “I was told to say, ‘such and such,’ and now I have,” one can treat this as either a true message or not; reported accurately or not. Moreover, if the messenger fails to distinguish between his/her message or interpretation of the message, and the message he or she was to give, I would say, that is not a reliable messenger. If they don’t draw clear open-and-close-quotes, I mean. Not evil; but like a mailman or postman who takes your letters home and adds his own content, without clearly marking it as such. Maybe he did so with good intent. In the case of material published in D&C, we don’t have too many passages clearly reporting the Voice’s message, as signed off by Joseph Smith, falling outside the warning of Ezekiel 14.
What about D&C 124? I think this is one of the rare, reliable ones. But the traditional interpretation of what is being said is not correct. How to avoid the plain facts: Mormons were driven from their place, did not receive the priesthood removed anciently? (By “priesthood” I mean, a group of priests; as a neighborhood is a group of neighbors.) Again, we cannot think without being aware of our words.
We stumble around the darkness when we talk of “priesthood” as a sort of mojo one has or does not have. The mojo, such as it is, seems to consist in one’s trust among other priests. If there is a power one might “have,” we can call that, “faith.” And by “Faith,” I don’t mean, “belief plus action.” These other priests may have power, because they have faith. Nobody “has” or “holds” the priesthood. Faith comes by hearing the Word; I’d say, that Word is something like the story of the world. And knowing how that story is to play out, would indeed give one a measure of “power,” if only because one could be patient, not mislead or be misled, nor be drifting about at every wind of doctrine.
This brings us to the “Lamanites.” Recall that no one left alive in the Book of Mormon after Christ has descended is really, “ethnically” Lamanite. After a few generations, some folks call themselves “Lamanites,” but apparently the lines of Nephi and Laman were mingled during Zion’s brief golden age. So, who did all the killing in the fourth century? People calling themselves “Lamanites.” Do they have a promise? No. They did not dwindle in unbelief, but willfully rebelled against the light, and are sons and daughters of perdition, I’m afraid.
Who are the Remnant, then? That piece of carpet, as it were, given the land as an inheritance by Jesus, when he came and taught them. I don’t mean their descendants…whatever Indian tribe you have in mind. I mean, them: the people at Bountiful. You do the math, and go back and read Third Nephi. And Helaman. And Alma. Not all of them remained alive, of course, but some few did, and this land is their land, collectively. Which land?
Well, I don’t know how the boundaries are drawn on the maps in Heaven. But, I would say, since I can guess and there’s no harm in being wrong here, that the events of the Book of Mormon took place in what we’d call California. Southern, mostly. Some parts have since been swept into the sea, or buried, or whatever, but I’d say that’s where I’d like to live, assuming they get rain at some point in the future. I don’t understand how millions of Mormon can talk of the Yucatan, or Peru, or Michigan as being the Promised Land, and not have any desire whatsoever to move there. Seriously, imagine California as just land and sea…who wouldn’t want to live there, at some point in their lives?
What evidence there may be for my fantasy, I give in the Cultural History, mostly Volume Five.
Finally, as concerns current events: It is this Remnant alone I would listen to, if anyone comes around talking about “Restoring Zion.” At least three are reportedly still around, and probably a few more, as well, from that “second generation from Christ.”
Really finally: Do I need to explain why the recent, semi-annual ass-kissing WrinkleCon 2014 is our Mormon dark-matter? Restoration, priesthood, Ezekiel 14…