Peggy Fletcher Stack reads BCC

So, if you’re a journalist angling for Mormon attitudes to the Pope where would you look? Why, right here at BCC of course. Where else? (Kudos to Mr. Fowles; note, however, Ms. Stack’s little dig in the last line)

Comments

  1. I’d like to congratulate John Fowles for being the official voice of BCC! :o)

  2. Somehow, I think journalists should distinguish between what is written as a *post* at a blog, by the principals, and *comments*, which can be posted by anyone. It would be unfair for me to write (quoting from some letter to the editor): “As Joe Schmoe of the Salt Lake Tribune wrote last week, …”

    If mainstream journalists are going to quote blogs, they should develop a more responsible way of citing them. A proper way to cite John’s comment would have been: “John Fowles, who runs the A Bird’s Eye View weblog, commented last week at another blog, By Common Consent, that …” or something like that. A shorter but more correct attribution would be: “John Fowles, in a comment recorded at the blog By Common Consent, wrote that …”

  3. “the right choices in the spirit world”?

    What blindered ignorance. I am ashamed for you.

  4. I agree with Dave. I would add that online papers ought to keep up with the times and do a better job of linking. They could have linked to the permalink of John’s post so readers from the online version could go right to the comment in its own thread.

    This would also allow people like SallyM to make their remarks in the original thread after having read the full quote in context.

    And I still haven’t figured out what exactly John is ignorant of.

  5. “‘I am confident that he will make the right choices in the spirit world.’(John Fowles)
    In other words, join the LDS Church.” – from the SLT article.

    That was the intent of your comment, right John?

    If not, I retract. If so, my original comment stands.

  6. I agree with Dave. It is simple enough. Comment is comment, post is post (nod to Shirley Valentine).

  7. SallyM,
    You still didn’t address Eric’s point. What does John saying “I am confident that he will make the right choices in the spirit world” have to do with ignorance? John wasn’t the one that made the leap to “in other words, join the LDS Church,” that was Flack.

  8. Babushka says:

    Maybe the choice John was referring to was (the Pope’s) marrying Mother Teresa. Then someone could do their ordinances for them here and they would have to accept the gospel on the otherside in order to be exalted.

  9. Steve Evans says:

    Easy there, Sally M. John may have made the comment, but that wasn’t the gist of the post. John isn’t a blogger here, but a reader, like you.

  10. Does the general public know what the difference between a comment or a post at a blog?

    Imagine seeing you here Steve.

  11. Steve Evans says:

    Stapley! What, are you blogging in your car!? I just left you a few minutes ago.

    I think the general public can discern between a blog post or article and comments thereto. At least, they should, if they hope to avoid devastating and well-earned scorn.

  12. C’mon, we’re just jealous that when BCC gets noticed by the outside world it’s not a permablogger who can bask in the glory.

    Of course Stack is not dishing out glory: she was obviously just trolling for a cute way to end her story, viz., that Mormon “love” for the Pope still envisions his conversion in the Afterlife, that Mormons can’t help being Mormons. What fools!

  13. 6 miles from downtown.

    All of my inlaws who read the paper (and don’t blog) would have no idea between a comment and a post. E.g.:

    A comment over at BCC described…

    or

    A post of at BCC described…

    They would not be able to tell the difference (from my conversations with them). I realize that more and more people are blogging, but it is still a small fraction of newspaper readership (guessing).

  14. Most people don’t know Slovakia from Slovenia, either, but that’s no excuse for getting them confused in a news story.

    There are many millions of people who don’t read BCC but do know the difference between a post and a comment. The distinction would be for their benefit.

  15. I have an idea. Someone at the blogs who tend to get quoted by the press (ie, BCC & T&S) should write a permanent note to the press as a post delineating proper citation techniques, etc. It could be a link on the right or left margin, near the “comment policy” information.

    I’m serious!

  16. Dear Ms. Stack,

    Nice article on the Pope and the LDS Community in SLC. I don’t live in SLC but regularly read The Tribune. I’m sending you this email with a link to a minor furor over at BCC because of a perceived citation faux pax. I’m wondering if they can’t see the forest from the trees. Nevertheless I enjoyed the article.

    Regards,

    Guy W. Murray

  17. Rusty said:

    “You still didn’t address Eric’s point. What does John saying ‘I am confident that he will make the right choices in the spirit world’ have to do with ignorance?” -

    If you can’t see the presumption, arrogance, myopia, and ignorance of other’s faith in that statement, then attempting to enlighten you is likely to fail.

  18. Journalists often have a hard time with accurate attributions. For example, if a professor at Harvard publishes a paper that is represents entirely his own views, the press is likely to report it as “A Harvard University study found….” But at least in that case, unlike this one, the professor has some official connection with the institution in question.

    (I don’t think anyone here means to pick on Ms. Stack personally, since such misleading attributions are pervasive.)

  19. ed, You are absolutely correct. In pointing out the lack of comprehension, I was asserting that it might be a good thing to find more communicative language for the broader readership. While media is to inform, it is also to educate.

    That said, I have no idea about what language might do the trick. Sticking with the current simple delineation might consequently be the most prudent.

  20. john fowles says:

    How interesting that the SL Tribune would cite me for BCC! Sorry y’all.

    SallyM, I did mean that comment relatively in the way that Stack supplied. Still, her formulation reveals a misunderstanding of what Latter-day Saints believe about accepting certain truths and ordinances in the afterlife. For example, I am not hopeful that the Pope will become a member of the Church for the sake of such membership, but simply that he accepts authoritative ordinances once they are offered to him. I fully understand if that clarification still upsets you; but it is basically no more, really, than saying that “this is the true Church.”

    Anyway, if you are interested in what I really think about the Pope and my appreciation for him, go check out a couple of posts about it on my own blog, here and here.

  21. john fowles says:

    Go to the second link first–that one is more directly related to my personal feelings about the Pope.

  22. Sally, your response might be taken as evidence of your own “ignorance of other’s faith.” Even assuming John meant what you are assuming he meant, what is wrong with a Mormon expressing hope in one of the tenets of his faith, namely, the redemption of the dead? John’s comment was admiring of the Pope and his contributions. To other LDS, I think it is fair to say that it expresses recognition of the goodness of the Pope’s soul. Aren’t you expressing ignorance of other’s faith yourself when you deny a person’s expression of one of the tenets of their faith as ignorance, arrogance and myopia? What you perceive as myopia and narcissism is in fact an expression of faith by a someone who sincerely believes in the truth of their faith. Accordingly, in some ways, John’s comment might be the highest compliment he could have paid. To assert the truth of one’s faith and the hope that others will embrace that truth is not necessarily narcissistic, but rather conviction. For you to dismiss an expression of that conviction shows that you dismiss the sincerity of John’s faith. Also, I don’t think your comments to Rusty or here in general are conducive to rational, deliberate discourse that leads to understanding. Invective like that, in my experience, tends to lead to shouting matches and angry feelings. It might be better to give John (and even Rusty) the benefit of the doubt and seek understanding before judging. This is especially true since I think Rusty, myself and others that frequent this site would very much like to hear your ideas — different points of view like yours are often the exact reason that people like us frequent this site. At least, it is my reason. None of us is as smart as all of us, so please don’t be offended so quickly. I can only speak for myself, but I imagine that all of us would very much like to understand where you’re coming from and get your perspective.

  23. Daniel,
    Very well said.

  24. SallyM: If you can’t see the presumption, arrogance, myopia, and ignorance of other’s faith in that statement, then attempting to enlighten you is likely to fail.

    SallyM, even if we take John’s statement at face value and out of context (as Ms. Stack did), I do not see how it reflects presumption, arrogance, myopia, or ignorance of “other’s faith” (sic.).

    According to both the LDS and the Catholic conceptual schemes, there is an afterlife and there are certain conditions for getting into heaven. The difference lies in the conditions that the LDS and Catholics each stipulate, and these conditions are mutually exclusive. It immediately follows from this that when Mormons talk about the fate of Catholics (and vice versa) they are bound to say things that strike members of the other church as patently incorrect.

    The truth at the bottom of it all—as uncomfortable as you may find it—is that Mormons earnestly believe that Catholics are wrong, and vice versa. That’s just the way it is, and it’s frankly unreasonable to expect religions to change core beliefs (or pretend that core beliefs do not exist) merely to accommodate the sensibilities of those in other religions. And there is something feeble, and a little contemptible, about insisting that religionists who disagree about such issues cannot do so without being disrespectful, not to mention presumptuous or arrogant or myopic or ignorant.

  25. Pardon my comments but now we’ve gone from arrogance and myopia to condescension.

    Daniel said:

    “in some ways, John’s comment might be the highest compliment he could have paid. To assert the truth of one’s faith and the hope that others will embrace that truth is not necessarily narcissistic, but rather conviction.” -

    Ah, so expressing confidence that the Pope will renounce his life’s work and personal journey and come to his senses after his death is somehow a compliment.

    And we shouldn’t criticize those holding such views because they are expressing their convictions.

    I read condescension and contempt for non-Mormons in this worldview, and I don’t think it should stand unanswered.

    We didn’t convert him in this life, but, not to worry, we’ll get him in the spirit world.

  26. Interested bystander says:

    I think part of the problem comes from believing that one must:

    1. be baptized
    2. be married/sealed

    in order to “live in the presence of Heavenly Father.” So no matter what, all devout Mormons will wish for others to join the Church in life or in death. Otherwise they’re (the non-Mormons) in a version of hell–away from God forever.

  27. Arturo said:

    “According to both the LDS and the Catholic conceptual schemes, there is an afterlife and there are certain conditions for getting into heaven” -

    Let’s be specific. What are the order of operations here – must John Paul II 1) receive a proxy baptism in the temple, 2) accept the restored gospel as true, 3)display the signs and tokens to pass through the gates. And 4) per the early prophets, must he also have to answer to Joseph.

    If this sequence is accurate, does he qualify for the celestial kingdom? Or can we know this?

  28. The other half of your last question, Sally, is what must a Mormon do to get to heaven from the Catholic perspective? I honestly don’t know and would be interested to find out.

  29. SallyM,
    And another one you forgot: be judged by Jesus Christ.

  30. Bob Caswell says:

    “…so expressing confidence that the Pope will renounce his life’s work…”

    SallyM,

    Those are very much your words and not John Fowles’. Do you honestly think that ANY Mormon thinks the Pope must “renounce his life’s work” to live with God? There may be a difference of opinion as to the requirements, but renouncing one’s life work of service? I’m not sure either Catholics or Mormons would think God requires that as one of the prerequistes.

    It’s a gross misrepresentation of both John Fowles’ views and/or Mormonistic views in general.

  31. Geoff

    I expect it would be to accept God’s grace.

    But that truly isn’t the issue here; it is the sentiment behind John Fowles’ comments which has support here, namely, that the dead pope has to go through the ordinances to be saved, and he will be given a choice to, in effect, renounce his life’s work as a man of God and admit his errors.

    And that it is perfectly appropriate to weave that sentiment into our daily outlook.

    It’s no wonder that the Jews are furious about proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims.

  32. Sally,

    Catholics don’t even believe we’re Christians. Are those who reject Christianity going to be saved according to Catholic tradition? I don’t think so.

    How are their beliefs any different than ours?

  33. Bob said:

    “Do you honestly think that ANY Mormon thinks the Pope must “renounce his life’s work” to live with God?”

    Then what choice was Fowles referring to? The pope’s whole life was a choice. But now he is being given a “choice” in the afterlife to right that wrong.

    And I still want to understand the sequence of operations per #27. Anybody?

    Eric said:

    “How are their beliefs any different than ours?”

    I don’t recall comments from other faiths on the death of Hunter suggesting that he would now be given a choice to convert to their respective faiths in the afterlife.

  34. I’m honestly curious, since I found Peggy’s attribution to be how I would have read John Fowles’s comments, what do Mormons expect of the Pope in the spirit world, if not to accept the “true gospel” and join the Church?

    Any bets on whether or not someone’s already tried to have his temple work done? Although I think Sally’s been unfair and a bit strident in her comments, I see bloggers upset over Peggy’s portrayal because it’s essentially true but not the politically correct way we’re used to hearing it from President Hinckley.

    We have lots of nice ways of spinning it and sounding as PC as possible, but at the end of the day, we believe that people need to join our Church and become like us – period. No matter how good of a person the Pope may have been, Latter-day Saints will tell you that if he doesn’t accept Mormonism in the next life, he won’t be in the Celestial Kingdom with God. Kinder and gentler interpretations aside, I don’t see anyway around those current beliefs.

  35. Isn’t part of the problem here our understanding of “joining the Church after death”? I mean, John H, I understand what you’re saying, but do we believe “Mormonism” in the next life is going to be like it is here, as if we’re going to be a “member” or “non-member”? We seem to be projecting our earthly experience of the churchiness of our church onto the afterlife.

    In other words, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I think the Pope will accept the true Gospel of Jesus Christ in whatever way it is presented to him in the spirit world. I also think God is grateful for the wonderful work the Pope has done here on this earth and will count it unto him for righteousness.” Sally’s suggestion that “accepting the true Gospel of Jesus Christ” and “renouncing his life’s work” as mutually exclusive seems incredibly silly.

  36. John H,

    I for one don’t have any problem with the facts. It is incorrect the baggage SallyM and surely many others want to sneak in that has me a little concerned.

    Fact: God said to Joseph Smith that the creeds of all those other churches are an abomination in his sight.

    Baggage: Because of this SallyM insists the Pope would have to “in effect, renounce his life’s work as a man of God and admit his errors”. What does SallyM mean by this? We do not believe he would have to renounce any of the kind, Christ-like things he did in this life. He need not renounce any of the truths he learned or taught in life. He would have to make some adjustments to some doctrinal opinions he had that are incorrect — but that will probably happen to all of us. Yes, becoming a celestial being does require certain ordinances and covenants that are only found in the Church on earth right now, but we believe in a just God and that all will receive not only the reward punishment we deserve, but in the end we receive what we want.

    So it is understandable to believe the restored gospel is arrogant. This of course is a sword that cuts both ways, though. How are we any more arrogant than any other religion that believes its tenants are true?

    SallyM:I don’t recall comments from other faiths on the death of Hunter suggesting that he would now be given a choice to convert to their respective faiths in the afterlife.

    Don’t you think that might have something to do with the fact that they don’t believe there are chances to repent after this life? Are you implying it is better for many of them to simply believe president Hunter is going directly to hell as a result of being a non-Christian?

  37. John H, I think some might be mildly frustrated that Ms. Stack’s quote attributed John F’s statement to BCC. I say “mildly” because (1) neither BCC or even blogging in general probably registers for most SL Trib readers; (2) she did get the names right, a small triumph in itself; and (3) John F is a regular commenter and runs a solo blog so he is at least a Bloggernacle regular and has “earned” his quote. But someone must explain to mainstream media types that it is improper to pull any ‘ole comment out of the queue and attribute it to the sponsoring weblog. We get some pretty wacky comments here, you know.

    As for the substance of the tag added by Ms. Stack suggesting John F’s quote means Mormons think JPII is going to become a Mormon in the spirit world, I wonder what rank-and-file Catholics think will happen to Pres. Hinckley after his passing? If she’s going to quote a popular LDS view in order to make it look narrow or obscurantist, she ought to quote a Catholic view as well to make it clear that, in fact, the LDS view of the fate of non-LDS in the afterlife is fairly charitable compared to everyone else’s view of what happens to non-believers. Or maybe that’s just expecting too much.

  38. Bob Caswell says:

    “Sally’s suggestion that “accepting the true Gospel of Jesus Christ” and “renouncing his life’s work” as mutually exclusive seems incredibly silly.”

    Exactly.

    John H., what you and SallyM seem to be talking about is different, if only slightly [to some]. SallyM’s simplistic view (or her simplistic interpretation of someone else’s view, whichever) of the afterlife (i.e. “he is being given a “choice” in the afterlife to right that wrong”) is not helpful.

    We may want people to eventually “become like us”, which most are willing to discuss (and which, incidentally, I’m not all too comfortable with, but which I haven’t been able to discuss as of yet due to the need to get past SallyM’s accusations). But renouncing any past good in one’s life to do so? As Rusty pointed out, that’s just silly.

  39. I think SallyM took offense at John’s comment and some of us in turn took offense to hers because we all failed to see a difference between disagreeing about who’s right versus what is right. All religions tend to view the other side’s views with suspicion because they equate their own views with THE right way. John’s comment reflects an expression of faith that because JPII was such a great man, it is likely that he will continue to accept truth as he finds it after this life. A fundamental tenet of Mormon belief is eternal progression, and naturally, that progression includes embracing the truths of Catholicism, as well as the truths of Mormonism. SallyM may not believe those truths are truths, yet to Mormons they are, just as surely as the opposite is true. Likewise, Mormon’s do not accept the Catholic doctrine of damnation without baptism during life. However, even with these differing beliefs, it still seems wise to me for all of us to refrain from personal attacks and seek to listen. Another teaching of Mormonism, and I assume of good people everywhere, is to take truth wherever it is found. To echo Elder Scott’s phrase, we ask that everyone bring their truth with them. Mormons, it is fair to say, even in their own doctrine do not claim to have a corner on the truth, and I imagine SallyM would acknowledge that neither does she. Let’s give SallyM the benefit of the doubt and assume that she took it wrong — which is what I believe probably happened, or else understood and reacted viscerally first, which we’ve all done at one time or another. Most people have good motives and want to be good, and as humans we are far too quick to assume the opposite. Having said that, I would be VERY interested to hear from SallyM her take on the afterlife, for I know far too little about the Catholic view.

    I think your post on #27, SallyM, is fairly accurate. To answer your question, we have no way of knowing. Only the Savior can judge. I only wish to correct one of your statements that might lead to misunderstanding, namely that Joseph will judge. That is generally true, but only insofar as Joseph receives authority from Jesus Christ (I believe Catholics have a similar doctrine with regards to St. Peter). In other words, we revere Joseph (but do not worship him) for how he helped us come to a greater understanding of Christ. Also, it is important to point out that Joseph will not be the Joseph that was here on earth — he has progressed and will be more perfect and therefore more capable of judging and will do so under the direction of Christ, therefore, his judgments are more likely to be accurate. I do not know how the logistics are going to work exactly, thought I do understand the idea of delegating authority with specific guidelines as to how to fulfill a task. I guess we’ll see.

    How does Catholicism view the final judgment, SallyM? I’m confessedly ignorant on this matter and would love to hear from you.

  40. SallyM: If this sequence [baptism, conversion, endowment, answering to Joseph] is accurate, does he qualify for the celestial kingdom?

    These are necessary, but not sufficient conditions. You’ve left out a few things, and you’ve gotten the order wrong.

    You’ve left out his confirmation, his ordination to the Melchizedek priesthood, and his washing & anointing before the endowment. Also, at some point he find a spouse and be be sealed to her for eternity; presumably he can do this during the millennium. Then, as Rusty mentioned, he must be judged. There may be more–we just aren’t told that much about how afterlife conversion works.

    The temple work (baptism through endowment) can be done at any point before judgment day, but the Pope will have to convert in order for them to have any efficacy at all. Again, we don’t know a lot about when or how this occurs.

    As far as his “answering to Joseph,” I suppose he’ll have to accept Joseph’s prophetic authority (as he does Moses’s or Abraham’s) in some way as part of his conversion. To the extant that he has to answer to Joseph, it will be as a representative of Jesus; Joseph has no authority apart from Jesus. Nevertheless, we have very few specifics about this type of thing. The early prophets said a lot of stuff, much of it in much more intimate circumstances than is afforded in today’s culture of mass media. Nowadays, this kind of thing is viewed as speculation.

    At any rate, SallyM, I’m happy to be as specific as you want about the LDS conceptual scheme. Nevertheless, I do not see what it has to do your characterization of statements that reflect doctrinal divergences between Mormonism and Catholicism as presumptuous, arrogant, myopic, or ignorant. Nor do I see that your question responds to my charge that there is something feeble, and a little contemptible about your criticism of this interfaith disagreement.

  41. I wholeheartedly agree that the Church would not expect the Pope to renounce his life’s work in the spirit world. Indeed, with the possible exception of the thundering Brigham Young, I doubt any Mormon prophet from Joseph Smith on down would take exception to the Pope and his work. For someone to imply that’s what Mormons teach is oversimplifying the doctrine.

    “We seem to be projecting our earthly experience of the churchiness of our church onto the afterlife.”

    Here, I disagree. It’s difficult not to project temporal Mormonism on the spirit world. Again, regardless of how it will be in the next life, Mormons believe that it’s everyone else who has to be baptized – not them. It’s everyone else who has to accept the gospel, regardless of what that might entail. And of course, it’ll be dead Mormons who’ll be passing that gospel on, acting as missionaries. I consistently remain stunned that some of us can’t see why others might not think that’s the most progressive view of the world.

    Dave, I think the Mormon view of the afterlife is largely very charitable. But there’s still a hierarchy, which implies one form of salvation is better than another. I’ve always loved the Mormon concept that hell is temporary and that a portion of glory is available for everyone. However, we’ve gotten pretty good at still using the telestial kingdom as a threat: you won’t be with your family if you don’t accept the gospel. It’s a bit like telling someone they’ll get dessert after dinner – no matter what. But those who tow the line will get a big slice of chocolate cake and ice cream with hot fudge (I’m projecting my own view of heaven here) while those who don’t will get a small brownie.

    As for other religions who claim to be the only true Church, I have just as much problem with those exclusivity claims. The difference is, I’m a Mormon, not a Catholic. It’s similar to when I criticize America, as an American. I get that all countries have problems and shortcomings of their own. But only by focusing on our own mistakes and missteps can we correct them.

  42. Why exactly are we assuming that SallyM is Catholic?

  43. John H,
    I understand the issue that you take with all exclusivity claims by religions. But you are a member of a church that makes such an exclusivity claim and means it. How do you rectify that?

  44. Geoff said:

    “Fact: God said to Joseph Smith that the creeds of all those other churches are an abomination in his sight.”

    “becoming a celestial being does require certain ordinances and covenants that are only found in the Church on earth right now.”…

    …and yet I am described as being simplistic in my interpretation of the remarks at hand. Many of your comments attempt to soften the core doctrine, including signs, tokens, covenants, that we have all been taught, and when it is applied to someone like JPII it makes people uncomfortable. And when it surfaces in public comments we get rationalizations filled with nuance and equivocation.

    I am not Catholic, but from what I have seen, read, and studied, JPII was a great man. I believe he will rest with the fullness of God.

    Smugly asserting that he will be required to choose to accept/follow Mormon rituals and doctrine for salvation (which was Fowles intent, and which pre-supposes that his life in and of itself wasn’t yet worthy of being saved) remains worthy of criticism, and is indicative of an organizational mindset that discounts those who are not one of us.

  45. Smugly asserting that he will be required to choose to accept/follow Mormon rituals and doctrine for salvation (which was Fowles intent, and which pre-supposes that his life in and of itself wasn’t yet worthy of being saved) remains worthy of criticism, and is indicative of an organizational mindset that discounts those who are not one of us.

    Are you criticizing the assertion because it maintains the idea of Mormon priesthood exclusivity? If you are LDS, how do you justify the need for a restoration? If you are not, is it the church itself that earns your ire or just a mindset that John F. represents?

  46. But John wasn’t asserting that the gospel is true and JPII will have to accept it because “we are Mormons and we have all the truth,” SallyM. He is saying that Christ has said that one must participate in those ordinances to receive exaltation. At core, these requirements are not requirements the Mormons lay on the world, but rather requirements that Christ lays on all of us, along with the necessary justification and sanctification, without which all of the ordinances mentioned are dead works. If you have a problem with John’s statement, maybe it is a problem with whether or not you believe that those ordinances are actually required to inherit the fulness of God’s glory. I personally believe they are. To say that God requires this of great men like JPII just as much as he requires it of a common scoundrel does not diminish the greatness of JPII, it just emphasizes God’s justice AND His mercy, as well as the way in which He orders the universe. JPII will rest with a fulness of God’s glory just like the rest of us will: to the extent he accepts and complies with God’s truth and commandments. That doesn’t diminish JPII, it just places him below and subject to Christ, as we all are.

  47. “you are a member of a church that makes such an exclusivity claim and means it. How do you rectify that?”

    A great question that I honestly don’t have much of an answer to beyond, “it makes me uncomfortable.” It’s not that I have a huge problem with the exclusivity claim itself, so much as I have a problem with the way it’s used and sometimes abused.

    We have so many wonderful doctrines and teachings to share with the world. I believe our focus should be on helping people right here, right now. The reality is, our staunch beliefs notwithstanding, none of us *knows* what the next life will be like. We believe, we have faith – incredibly strong faith. But we don’t know, despite what you hear in testimony meeting.

    It therefore makes sense to me to focus on what we do know. I know that the Church’s focus on family makes me a better husband and father. Our focus on family and belief in eternal families can be a benefit to families in the here and now. Largely, that’s what the Church focuses on and I think that’s a good thing. But there’s also focus on the hereafter, and that focus too often involves holding families hostage by asserting they’ll be split up if someone doesn’t do their part. Such a focus seems to do little good to me, even if our teachings imply negative consequences as well as positive. People aren’t idiots – they can figure those out on their own. We don’t need to keep spelling it out for them.

    It seems with reference to the Pope, our focus ought to be on his life and teachings; we ought to embrace that which is true and reject that which is false – much like I do with our own leaders. What good does it do to make reference to the spirit world by essentially saying, “He’s a good man, he’ll therefore see the light like I have and do what I’ve already been smart enough to do.” How does such a focus make us more Christlike? How does it help? The reality is, it does nothing more than reinforce the correctness of our worldview and ensconce us in our perspective, closing our minds to the possibility of wider vistas and different interpretations.

  48. “At core, these requirements are not requirements the Mormons lay on the world, but rather requirements that Christ lays on all of us, along with the necessary justification and sanctification, without which all of the ordinances mentioned are dead works.”

    But don’t you find it shockingly convenient that it is Mormonism that has those necessary works? We’re essentially saying, “God has told us what we need to do to be saved, and by some amazing, remarkably lucky coincidence, I know what those are. You don’t, so lemme bring you up to speed.” We absolve ourselves of responsibility by raising our hands above our heads and crying out, “Don’t shoot the messenger; this is what Christ told us to do.” But we have exactly as much evidence for that claim as Catholics have for their own exclusivity claims. Since we’re dealing with issues of faith, why not do what I suggest above, and focus on the here and know and the benefits of faith to lives being lived, not lives that are since gone? How does it help someone to say, “You gotta go for a quick dunk with our Priesthood – yours doesn’t cut it.”

  49. One last thought on the “Pope renouncing his life’s work” assertion. Again, I think Sally is being pretty unfair to Mormon doctrine and claims, and putting as negative of a spin as is possible on it. That said, we are asking the Pope to renounce a lot. Not his help of the poor, his proclamation of Christ as the Savior of the world, etc. But we’d expect him to be married in the next life to make it to the Third Floor of the Celestial Kingdom. That’s a pretty big renunciation of a life lived in celebacy. In short, we’re expecting that he would renounce some of his most cherished beliefs about the Trinity, marriage, priesthood, etc. These aren’t small issues; it’s not like saying, “You got almost everything right except the little hat you wear – our design is the correct one. Other than that, nice try.”

  50. Bob Caswell says:

    Thanks, John H., especially for your last comment. This is where I’m a bit uncomfortable agreeing with “Mormon Speculation 101″… I do believe for myself that certain things must be done under the right authority (faithfully hoping we’ve got it), but otherwise, I’m not one to know the dynamics of the Pope’s salvation / exaltation (or anyone’s). Is anyone? It’d be nice if it were spelled out for us, but then again, it wouldn’t be nice at all…

  51. John H,

    I think you’re being unfair in your assumption of the motivation for what constitutes John Fowles’ comment and our belief. You assume arrogance when that is not necessarily the case.

    We see the Pope, a good wonderful man, and we want to believe that his state will be well in the next life. We assume that he will enter into the necessary ordinances out of love – not arrogance.

    Considering the fact that other religions believe that Mormons are going to hell for not being Christian, it’s actually quite charitable for Mormons to say that we believe that he will indeed make the choices that lead him to salvation.

    As for your other comments, I would recommend contacting representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in your area. I believe they now address many of your concerns in the first discussion.

  52. “It’s actually quite charitable for Mormons to say that we believe that he will indeed make the choices that lead him to salvation.”

    Sigh. Quite charitable from our perspective, sure. “Hey, those other religions say you’re going to hell. We don’t believe that. We only believe you’re going to hell if you don’t become like us. With Mormonism, you’ve got a choice.” It doesn’t take much to see it isn’t really a choice at all.

    Sure, I know we don’t mean it like that, but is it that hard to see why other people might take it that way? So far, no one has been able to adequately address why our exclusivity claims are so great. Instead the responses have been, “Hey, at least we aren’t as bad as those other religions.” The “if you think I’m bad then look at what the other guy is doing” hasn’t ever been a great defense for one’s behavior.

    “As for your other comments, I would recommend contacting representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in your area. I believe they now address many of your concerns in the first discussion.”

    Call me an idiot, but I don’t get it. Is this a joke, or is it serious? I kinda hope it’s a joke, because then I can feel stupid for not getting it. If it’s serious, then I have *got* to read these new discussions that will magically erase 23 years of doubts, questions, and skepticism.

  53. Bob Caswell says:

    “Considering the fact that other religions believe that Mormons are going to hell for not being Christian, it’s actually quite charitable…”

    Eric,

    I can’t speak for others, but I must say that I RARELY consider the charity others show toward me when evaluating the charity I show them. It kinda defeats the purpose, don’t you think?

  54. It’s not that I have a huge problem with the exclusivity claim itself, I have a problem with the way it’s used and sometimes abused.

    Fair enough. We can certainly be smug about our faith claims on occasion. Ideally, this sort of attitude is leavened by humility, but its hard to be humble when you’re right (or blockheaded).

    What good does it do to make reference to the spirit world by essentially saying, “He’s a good man, he’ll therefore see the light like I have and do what I’ve already been smart enough to do.” How does such a focus make us more Christlike? How does it help? The reality is, it does nothing more than reinforce the correctness of our worldview and ensconce us in our perspective, closing our minds to the possibility of wider vistas and different interpretations

    How does it help someone to say, “You gotta go for a quick dunk with our Priesthood – yours doesn’t cut it.”

    It’s right around here that you lose me. We can examine all truth as we find it, test it in whatever way we deem best, and keep whatever sticks. I don’t mind turning to other religions to find wider vistas and different interpretations. But the ordinances really are important, at least if we believe what the scriptures say Christ said. The church’s exclusivity claims make the humble assertion that a Catholic baptism (or that of any other domination) doesn’t cut it an act of love and an extension of hope, not the arrogant act of navel-gazers who can’t look outside themselves. If we believe the exclusivity claims, then we have to tell people about them. You are right, we have to focus on what we know and we know this.

  55. But don’t you find it shockingly convenient that it is Mormonism that has those necessary works? [We're essentially saying, "God has told us what we need to do to be saved, and by some amazing, remarkably lucky coincidence, I know what those are. . . ." But we have exactly as much evidence for that claim as Catholics have for their own exclusivity claims.]

    John H, I appreciate your honesty. I think your concerns boil down to the question whether there is one right answer or not. I am in the camp of those that say that there is one right answer and that truth is not relative. God does have a plan, and as He started things, all of His children on earth were members of the true Church of Christ. Unfortunately, some people, through the wonderful gift of agency, chose badly and distanced themselves from the truth. Their descendants, through no personal fault, now lack the gospel and knowledge of the redeeming ordinances that God requires of us as stepping-stones to return to His pure presence. Fortunately, God restored the gospel of Christ through a prophet of God, as He has always done. That prophet was Joseph Smith. I personally know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that God and Jesus Christ appeared personally before the boy Joseph and began the restoration of the true gospel. Having such a knowledge does not make me better than another (indeed, I can hardly claim anything for myself since I was fortunate to have been born into it), though because I received that knowledge from God Himself, it does have arguably more exclusivity than the knowledge a Catholic has or some other religion. Just because others are confused as to the answer, does not mean that there is not one right answer. It is in no way a put-down to other sincere believers in other churches to say that I know God has One True Church in which may be found the correct authority, doctrines, and ordinances of the gospel of Christ. If anything, it means that I have a greater responsibility to live so that others can know the gospel. It doesn’t make me better, for God is no respecter of persons.

    I sense that your question at root is a question as to the importance of ordinances. Jesus made it clear to Nicodemus that “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can in nowise enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” I don’t know all of the reasons why ordinances are required, and so if that is your question, I think it is a good one, yet those ordinances follow from the knowledge I expressed above, so I obey, without knowing why, but continuing to try to understand. In then end, however, it comes down to my personal witness that it is true. It is no disservice to others to say that this Church is true because that is not my statement, it is Christ’s. And I am not special in that respect, since Christ has promised that all who seek to know, WITH TRUE INTENT, can also so know.

  56. “Don’t you find it shockingly convenient that it is Mormonism that has those necessary works?” and “So far, no one has been able to adequately address why our exclusivity claims are so great.”

    I’m afraid the joke is on me. I don’t get it at all. I didn’t think it would to come down to this, but here you go.

    On May 15, 1829 John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood, giving them authority to administer certain ordinances. We believe that these ordinances must be performed with this authority of God in order to return fully to his presence.

    This is why we claim absolute exclusivity. This is why we do temple work. This is why we do missionary work. And this is why the Pope cannot yet inherit exaltation.

    If it is bad to believe this, then call us bad; call us evil, arrogant, myopic, and uncharitable. That’s fine. But it’s still true, so we’re still going to believe it – and we’re still going to preach it.

  57. “You are right, we have to focus on what we know and we know this.”

    This is ultimately where we disagree. I’d submit that we don’t know this; we believe it. We believe it because of the culture we were either born into or accepted as investigators. We believe it for precisely the same reasons that Saudi Muslims believe that there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet – because we believe those who told us this. We believe it because we are conditioned to, and since we’re conditioned to believe it, we find the evidence for it in the scriptures, even in everyday life.

    I was just watching Groundhog Day on AMC, and they had it in widescreen, and at the bottom of the screen they had trivia to read as the movie played. What was fun was how many religious groups interpreted the movie as being a spiritual statement in favor of their religion. Buddhists, Jews, and Christians all believed it had been made to show an aspect of their specific faith. Why? Because they were conditioned to find it. The filmmakers denied putting any spiritual message in the movie, yet people still find it.

  58. Call me crazy, but I actually agree with Sally M that it was a presumptuous and arrogant comment.

    It assumes first of all that JPII didn’t choose during his mortal existence to discount and deem as false Mormonism’s tenets and claims. It presumes a knowledge of JPII’s thoughts and convictions in this life and beyond that none of us have or can be confident about.

    In order to be converted to Mormonism JPII may not have to renounce his life’s work, but he would have to renounce his own claim to authority as a Pope and that of the Catholic faith as a whole–claims I am certain he took seriously and thought long and hard about. He would also have to renounce doctrines such as infant baptism, worship of Saints, the role of Mary, the Catholic concept of God…the list could go on. The assumption that he could discard these firmly held believes that I imagine he had, to use a Mormon term, “a testimony” of is based on a confidence which does border on arrogance.

    The truth is the only indication we have that even suggests JPII would accept Mormonism in the afterlife (assuming he didn’t reject it during his mortal life) is the fact he was a good man and a great Christian leader. That’s it. It may not compute in the minds of many Mormons that one can be a good Christian and reject Mormonism, but that is the case. It happens every day all around the world. If JPII wasn’t such a well-known and well-loved figure I believe our confidence in his post-mortal choices would not be nearly as high.

    Having said that, I don’t condemn John Fowles for making the comment. I take it for the good-natured wishful thinking I believe it was, but come on guys, let’s be honest, it is both presumptuous and arrogant.

  59. “But it’s still true, so we’re still going to believe it – and we’re still going to preach it.”

    If only it were that simple, I’d be on board in a heartbeat. But this entire claim rests on one very simple assumption: That Joseph Smith was telling the truth. I’m not here to call Joseph a liar; I don’t believe he was. But I’d raise what strikes me as a simple question: Why accept what Joseph Smith says and reject what other religious figures say about their own experiences? Aren’t you just choosing to trust one religious figure over others? And I’ll ask it again, isn’t it extremely convenient that the religious figure you choose to trust is the religious figure who founded the religion you happened to be born into? At least, that’s the question I have to ask myself, since I was born into the Church and am not a convert, like you or others may be.

    I won’t go into the whole history of the priesthood in Mormonism, but suffice it to say it isn’t nearly this simple. If priesthood restoration is as important as we say it is today, we might ask ourselves why no one – not a soul – in the Church knew about the visit of John the Baptist or Peter James and John until four or five years later. Only much later did Joseph Smith share his experiences, and there were many Church members at the time who were concerned that he was simply making it up or pulling it out of thin air.

    None of this means the experiences didn’t happen. But it certainly leaves room for some questions. Why wait several years to share the experience? Since he didn’t record the experience on paper until years after the fact, we have to trust that he remembered it correctly, didn’t subconsciously embellish it, etc. It’s similar to the First Vision, really. I believe something happened to Joseph when he went to pray. But I’m hesitant to accept every single detail, given that he didn’t record the event until 12 years later and that there are discrepancies between the four main accounts. Those discrepancies don’t mean it didn’t happen, as some like to argue, but it does suggest he didn’t remember the experience exactly as it may have happened.

  60. John H. You raise some great points. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak as to personal experience, so please allow me to distinguish between knowledge and belief in my own life:

    At one time in my life, I believed the Church was true; I could see its positive effects in my life and in my family’s life, but I could also see the same things that you are talking about with regards to other believers. I think that your diagnosis is largely correct with regard to them, though I might point out that the Spirit of Christ is given to all men that they might know good from evil, so to the extent that they encounter truth in their traditions, they may choose to follow it because they receive a personal witness that such is the case. By the same token, I reached a point in my life when I could no longer rely merely on my belief — I wanted to know. However, it is not until we are willing to act accordingly that God will reveal the truth to us, lest we receive knowledge to our greater condemnation by knowing yet not obeying. I took it upon myself to ask God if these things were true, and in a series of experiences, I came to know in a way that I knew was not of my own making, nor a creation of my own mind or the workings of my own emotions that they were. This is the difference between knowledge and mere belief. I came to know. It is not something that I can describe, but I nonetheless know it, and I know it in the only way that I imagine a loving Father would have me learn — by personal, peaceful reassurance from Him and Him alone. I need no longer rely on anyone else’s word. I am not convinced that there is any other religious system on the face of the earth that makes that same claim. If there is, I am not aware of it. The rest are, as you say, social constructs that leave people to believe according as their environment shaped them. However, just because some are that way does not in any way detract from the fact that I know and that there is nonetheless ONE true way in the end, though there may be many different ways that God leads people to that one true way, and though many of us may move at different speeds on that way.

  61. SallyM: Smugly asserting that he will be required to choose to accept/follow Mormon rituals and doctrine for salvation (which was Fowles intent, and which pre-supposes that his life in and of itself wasn’t yet worthy of being saved) remains worthy of criticism, and is indicative of an organizational mindset that discounts those who are not one of us.

    Actually, the question of whether one should lay aside the Mormon conceptual scheme is one that is external to the Mormon conceptual scheme. It is the question of whether certain rituals are necessary by virtue of Mormon doctrines that is internal to the conceptual schemes.

    Therefore, just asserting that Pope John Paul II will be required to satisfy the Mormon conditions indicates a Mormon conceptual outlook, no more. Since comparative religion isn’t the topic here, the question of whether Mormons should lay aside belief in essential ordinances in certain instances isn’t relevant. There is no question of an “organizational mindset.” You’ve simply made a category mistake; viz., you’ve conflated the role of questions that are internal to a conceptual scheme with the role of questions that are external to a conceptual scheme.

  62. Daniel says:

    “I don’t know all of the reasons why ordinances are required, and so if that is your question, I think it is a good one, yet those ordinances follow from the knowledge I expressed above, so I obey, without knowing why, but continuing to try to understand.”

    So we are to obey,without knowing why, under the subtext of an exclusivity of revealed Truth, with the result that we view others who do not partake of those ordinances as unsaved, eg JPII.

    The execution of ritual and cant is elevated to the status of Divine Knowledge; our path to salvation is focused away from inclusion and towards exclusion (what, no temple recommend?), and presumptive comments about great men seep into our common discourse to justify our approach.

    I believe the comments that spawned this thread are a result of this culture of exclusion/exclusivity; it’s ironic that the Catholic church’s difficulties with similar issues led to Mr. Luther and a Reformation. Perhaps that’s in the cards here as well.

  63. Arturo said:

    “You’ve simply made a category mistake; viz., you’ve conflated the role of questions that are internal to a conceptual scheme with the role of questions that are external to a conceptual scheme.”

    I see. Mormon orthodoxy as has been defined is relevant in and of itself only; attempting to see how it fits into the wider world is somehow a non sequitur.

  64. Just passing thru says:

    What I find hard to believe is that in order to live in the presence of God, a righteous man who lived 80+ years without wanting a wife now has to date, choose, and marry a woman. Otherwise he can’t be exalted. Does this sound silly to anyone else but me?

  65. SallyM: I see. Mormon orthodoxy as has been defined is relevant in and of itself only; attempting to see how it fits into the wider world is somehow a non sequitur.

    What did I say that discounts the importance of questions that are external to a conceptual scheme? Didn’t my last comment simply say that such questions play a different role? Don’t I simply assert that this role is categorically different from the role of internal questions like, “what might happen to the Pope from the point of view of the Mormon conceptual scheme?”

    SallyM, your apparent determination to misconstrue everybody’s statements as exclusionary and disrespectful is silly. There’s nothing broadminded or sophisticated about it. On the contrary, there remains something feeble and a little contemptible about your anxiousness to label the divergent opinions held by different faiths as provincial shortsightedness.

  66. Just passing thru, nobody knows exactly what post-mortal courting is like (I don’t even think that it’s touched upon in the Journal of Discourses), and nobody is forced to be exalted.

  67. Just passing thru says:

    Regardless of what we know about “post-mortal courting” we do know that:

    1. Exaltation= living with God forever

    2. We must be married to be exalted, and that goes for priests/the Pope who were celibate on earth, gay men and women, people who don’t marry in life, etc. etc. etc.

  68. Seth Rogers says:

    Sally, you’re right. This religion does hold that this is the ONLY church on the face of the earth that can offer the necessary ordinances to make it into the highest level of Heaven.

    So sue us.

    Perhaps you’d be happier if we just admitted that we don’t know what we’re talking about, that this whole Mormon doctrine thing is just speculation anyway, and that any religion or no religion will get you into Heaven just fine. Maybe you’d be happier if we just abandoned the delusion that there is a right or a wrong way of doing things in life. Maybe we should just back off and let everyone do whatever they want without criticism.

    In short, maybe you’d be happier if the Mormon church ceased to exist in any meaningful sense.

    Sorry I can’t accomodate you.

  69. What about context guys. John’s original comment was in the context of a discussion among believing members of our own Church, all who reasonably believe we have the keys to the kingdom. What would have been an acceptable way for John to phrase it? If I’m talking to my friends who have gone on missions about a mission, do I need to keep in mind that there are people in the world that haven’t gone on missions (yet, none are in this conversation with me)? I don’t think so. It’s presumptious to hope John would keep in mind everyone OUTSIDE of the conversation in mind when conversing with likeminded people.

    Additionally, what does this say about journalism? That someone like Peggy Flack can go in and lift a comment from a blog (not even from the author of the post, no less) and insert it into her piece. That’s a little scary. There are a LOT of things that many of us have said that if taken out of context could sound presumptious, arrogant, and myopic as well. I’m sure if we take stuff Sally has said out of context she could sound terrible as well. It’s ridiculous.

  70. Seth Rogers says:

    Just passing thru

    It’s only silly if you don’t understand how central marriage is in the Mormon religious scheme.

    Our faith holds that God Himself has a Wife. The entire scheme of Mormon theology casts mortal existence as our attempt to be like God and live with our heavenly parents again. To do this, you MUST be married. You cannot be as God is without joining with the oppposite gender.

    This is a fundamental Mormon doctrine. Dismissing it as silly comes close to ridiculing the Mormon faith itself as “silly.”

    I don’t dismiss Catholic beliefs I disagree with as “silly.” I would request that others do likewise regarding my beliefs.

  71. “Why accept what Joseph Smith says and reject what other religious figures say about their own experiences?”

    C’mon, John. I have to assume you’re just messing with us now. Why do we believe that Joseph was a prophet? Do you really want an answer to that? Do we need a bloggernacle testimony meeting? (actually, that would be kind of fun now that I think about it). I think you know as well as any what we believe about obtaining a conviction of the truth.

    You are right in that historical inconsistencies do not mean that they did not happen, but I would add that they also do not mean that we don’t need to believe them. What I mean is, and I’m not talking about you personally, but the feeling I often get from the sunstone crowd is that minor historical inaccuracies or inconsistencies constitute a major wall between them and the assurance of the truth.

    A reason to second-guess, to contemplate, even to hesitate? Sure. But it seems unfortunate that they appear so prominent in the continuance of doubt. They just don’t seem worth it.

  72. Arturo says:

    “On the contrary, there remains something feeble and a little contemptible about your anxiousness to label the divergent opinions held by different faiths as provincial shortsightedness.”

    I’d apply the same language to your attempt to obfuscate the issues at hand.

  73. John H, Brian G, SallyM,

    Is it presumptuous and arrogant if it is true?

    That may sound flippant but it is a sincere question. If the Church really is the “only true and living church on the face of the earth”; if God really thinks the creeds of all other churches are abominations; if it is true that “a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof”; are we being presumptuous and arrogant in hoping a good man like JPII will see and accept that in the eternities to come?

    Isn’t it only arrogant if it is false?

    If you do say it is arrogant even if it is true then who was more arrogant on the earth than Jesus Christ himself who went as far as to say “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the father, but by me”?

  74. Seth said:

    “Maybe you’d be happier if we just abandoned the delusion that there is a right or a wrong way of doing things in life. Maybe we should just back off and let everyone do whatever they want without criticism.”

    From your comment I take it that you believe JPII will not be saved unless 1) he is baptized in proxy, 2) he chooses to accept the Mormon gospel as true, 3)he displays the signs and tokens to pass through the gates, 4) he answers to Joseph Smith, and then Jesus Christ, and 5) he gets married.

    Is this correct?

  75. People, people, why can’t we just be happy that PFS quoted John Fowles as being from BCC rather than quoting Ed Enochs? Or AT? Or me?

    She has used material from blogs before. Six months ago it seemed to me that she used a comment of mine on T&S to say that people online were clamoring for more diverse apostles. At least this time she made a direct quote and an attempt at attribution so that we know exactly what she was referencing. Maybe next time she’ll get the whole thing right.

  76. Rosalynde says:

    John H.:

    I don’t think Joseph’s claims for exclusive priesthood authority started nearly as late as you claim. The current BYU Studies has a fascinating photographic reproduction of one of the ten handwritten licenses to exercise the priesthood distributed at the April 1830 conference: these documents were signed by both Joseph and Oliver, in their capacities as Apostles and First and Second Elders of the nascent church, and gave the bearer “license liberty power and authority” to exercise the priesthood to which he had been ordained. Many tenets of Mormon doctrine as we understand it developed over time, but I don’t think priesthood exclusivity was one of those.

    As for one’s personal conviction of exclusive religious claims: no, of course spiritual experiences are not generally self-authenticating–earnest testimonies like Daniel’s notwithstanding, personal experience becomes religious belief in the context of shared social practices. After all, if spiritual experiences interpreted and explained themselves, we wouldn’t need missionaries to identify and interpret the whisperings of the Spirit to investigators. And yes, of course communicants in other faiths have spiritual experiences which, in the context of the social practices of their faith, convey personal conviction. (And yes, Daniel, a great number of religious traditions encourage their adherents to seek personal witnesses.) But this is merely to recognize that spiritual communication, like other kinds of communication, requires an interpretive community–not to deny the utility or possibility of authoritative claims.

  77. Geoff, c’mon, it’s arrogant and presumptuous if we simply don’t know, and the original quote didn’t reflect a wishful hope that JPII will convert to Mormonism in the afterlife, it expressed confidence that he will. No one on this thread knows what JPII thought about, or will think about Mormon doctrine. Seriously, do you know? You have to presume. You have to presume JPII a) didn’t reject Mormonism in his mortal life and b) will accept Mormonism after death, although there’s been no indication whatsoever in his mortal life that he would ever do that. We just don’t know.

    It’s not an issue of whether the Mormon Church’s claims to be the one true church and the only church with authority are true. I believe they are true, but that still doesn’t give me omniscient insight into the heart and mind of Pope John Paul II. We don’t know. Feel free to hope, but we don’t know.

    When you don’t know something, and in fact can’t know something, but won’t admit it, yeah, that’s arrogance.

  78. SallyM:From your comment I take it that you believe JPII will not be saved unless 1) he is baptized in proxy, 2) he chooses to accept the Mormon gospel as true, 3)he displays the signs and tokens to pass through the gates, 4) he answers to Joseph Smith, and then Jesus Christ, and 5) he gets married.

    No Sally, everyone is saved. If you mean exalted (ie become a god), then yes (except for the Joseph Smith part, which is a doctrine I have only heard from you and therefore must plead ignorance about (also, the chronological order you propose is purely speculative, as I am sure you know (since you proposed it), so I don’t know why you find it important)). People must be married in the temple and live up to the covenants made there in order to enter into the third degree of glory in the celestial kingdom.

    But, is the third degree of glory the right place for everyone to end up? Certainly, from an LDS perspective it is. But for people raised in a religious tradition that emphasizes that people remain eternally single before God and that families are a temporal concern, that celibacy truly is greater than family life, it may be hard to want to live the standard of the third degree of glory. Well and good, (speculatively) to the second degree of celestial glory to you JPII (not that I am any judge)! Enjoy the heaven that you believed in.

  79. Geoff, I agree with you. I’m happy to see a reasonable Mormon point of view published. I just think that SallyM trying to appear open minded by offering muddled opinions.

    SallyM: I’d apply the same language [of feebleness and contempt] to your attempt to obfuscate the issues at hand.

    I may find this less disingenuous if you actually offered an argument that I am obfuscating. If you do not understand my analysis based on the character of conceptual schemes, you might ask for specific clarification. As it is, this seems merely convenient response to being put into a bind.

    John H, I believe that Rosalynde is right about the authority claims. Though it did take a little while to nail down the exact method of authority transfer (e.g., a face value reading of the Book of Mormon has people like Alma arising as church leaders, prophesying, and baptizing with merely charismatic authority), one of Joseph’s earliest obstacles was getting people to be baptized again. The issue was that their original baptisms weren’t done with authority, and when Joseph was just starting out, he had a hard time getting people to understand why their original baptism didn’t count (if I remember correctly, this was one of Hyrum’s very early hang-ups before he joined).

  80. Seth Rogers says:

    RE: Sally’s comment number 74:

    No, this is not correct.

    I believe even Hitler will be “saved” to at least some extent (although final judgments are for God and not me) regardless of whether he accepts Mormon ordinances.

    It is possible to attain the second and third levels of Heaven without participating in LDS ordinances. As I understand it, the LDS second level of Heaven is very similar to the Catholic and Protestant concepts of Heaven.

    However, the highest degree of glory in Heaven cannot be acheived without participating in the required ordinances. We believe our church is the only church with authority to perform these ordinances.

    So your reading of my post was only partially correct.

  81. Okay folks…while there are some interesting conversations going on here about comparative religious beliefs re: the afterlife and testimony of belief of exclusivity–all interesting topics–we seem to have veered into some pretty disrespectful territory. Please refrain from abusive comments about other posters–this is not a thesaurus contest to see who can come up with the most creative negative adjectives. We try to create a tone of respectful discussion here. If you feel the need to fight something out in a mean-spirited way, take it somewhere else.

  82. Karen: If you feel the need to fight something out in a mean-spirited way, take it somewhere else.

    Any suggestions?

  83. Arturo said:

    “If you do not understand my analysis based on the character of conceptual schemes, you might ask for specific clarification.”

    Let’s see – you’ve addressed my comments with “silly”, “feeble”, “muddled”, and “contemptible” – asking you for further input will simply add fuel to the poseur that you are.

    Why don’t you try again to take a position or advance the discussion, or comment on Fowles original intent.

  84. So only Mormons (on earth or joined-the-church-in-heaven) can live with their families forever, right? Unless someone converts now or later, he or she is forever separated from family from death?

  85. Shawn Bailey says:

    “…asking you for further input will simply add fuel to the poseur that you are.”

    What happens when one adds fuel to a poseur? Does it make the poseur go? Burn? Get a rash? I hate to say it, SallyM, but this botched cliche seems to match your arguments quite well.

    AT is right: you can choose not to believe Mormon theology regarding life after death. But for a Mormon to take this theology seriously and discuss it in concrete terms is not necessarily presumptuous, arrogant, myopic, or ignorant. I agree with you to the extent that you are saying Mormons should engage in such discussions with sensitivity to the recently deceased and charity for others in general. But you seem to want to foreclose such discussions entirely. In my humble opinion, you are not likely to succeed in either silencing mormons or persuading them to abandon their beliefs. So why not learn to view mormons (even if you vehemently disagree with them) with sympathy rather than scorn. Having such tolerance is the Christian thing to do; I think John Paul II would have encouraged such sympathy.

  86. You are right, SallyM. I’m trying to be somebody I’m not. And I’m not just lying to myself; I’m lying to you and to everybody whose bothered to read my comments. I owe you all a tremendous apology, and I am deeply sorry.

  87. “The current BYU Studies has a fascinating photographic reproduction of one of the ten handwritten licenses to exercise the priesthood distributed at the April 1830 conference: these documents were signed by both Joseph and Oliver, in their capacities as Apostles and First and Second Elders of the nascent church, and gave the bearer “license liberty power and authority” to exercise the priesthood to which he had been ordained.”

    The early church naturally believed in authority and priesthood. But like many protestant churches, they believed authority came from the Holy Ghost.

    Rosalynde, the reality is, the priesthood restoration story isn’t as simple as we make it out to be. Oliver Cowdery spoke of restoration before Joseph Smith, sometime in 1834 – five years after the fact. At that time, he only mentioned the visit of John the Baptist. The version of the story about the priesthood restoration that’s now section 13 of the Doctrine and Covenants was published in 1842. Most of it comes from Cowdery’s statement published in 1834, however, part of it was altered and other parts added to make it sound like the John the Baptist visit was a prelude to something greater; the original Cowdery account suggested only the visit from John the Baptist was necessary and made no mention of Peter, James, and John.

    As for the Melchizedek priesthood, there’s definitely some interesting news there. No evidence of it appeared until 1835, when the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was published. The problem is, the revelation mentioning the Melchizedek priesthood was changed to include a reference to it; that revelation (D&C 27) did not include information about priesthood when it was first published in the Evening and Morning Star and the Book of Commandments a year later; only in 1835 did Joseph add the information on priesthood.

    Retroactively changing revelations is a topic for another day, but suffice it to say, once again, the story isn’t as simple as everyone likes to make it out to be. I want to keep stressing, I don’t think these historical issues make the claims false or make Joseph out to be a liar. But certainly, reasonable people can see why some of us might raise an eyebrow here and there.

    Eric Russell pointed out that the Sunstone crowd likes to get upset over “minor” historical issues. Changing a revelation from God doesn’t strike me as minor, nor do many of the other dilemmas Church history might present (like who Jesus is, for example).

  88. john fowles says:

    John H., of course we have our regular disagreements about priesthood authority, the role of prophets and apostles, faith in history vs. faith in prophecy/orthodoxy, all of which might certainly be informing your and SallyM’s denunciation of my comment (which, to be honest, I thought was completely benign). But setting those aside, I just have a few responses.

    John H wrote:

    (1) I consistently remain stunned that some of us can’t see why others might not think that’s the most progressive view of the world.

    It’s true that someone with different beliefs certainly might not think it very charitable to contend that one must be a beneficiary of ordinances performed by proper authority to gain exaltation, especially when the authority is claimed to be in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But from a purely comparative standpoint–could we say objectively speaking–wouldn’t you agree that it’s hard to see why others don’t agree that the LDS concept is the most progressive of Christian views of the afterlife? (Remember I am speaking from a purely comparative standpoint here.) After all, the “Christian” alternative is that President Hinckley, millions of Latter-day Saints, past, present, and future, as well as billions upon billions of other people, including billions innocent babies and children who died without baptism, will burn for eternity in a merciless hell. In what way is the LDS concept not more charitable/progressive than that? Thus, my comment (if put into this purely comparative framework) was not only complimentary of the Pope (I thought I was implying with my comment that he will not have to accept the Gospel, or renounce anything in his life’s work, but rather merely accept ordinances performed by priesthood authority), but certainly far less arrogant than some on this thread are making it seem. At least I didn’t say that no matter how good the Pope’s life and work was, he will certainly burn in hell for eternity like the billions of babies who have died without baptism, which is what I would have had to say if Latter-day Saints understood salvation in the way that other Christians do; that would indeed have been arrogant.

    (2) It seems with reference to the Pope, our focus ought to be on his life and teachings; we ought to embrace that which is true and reject that which is false – much like I do with our own leaders.

    I understand, John H., if you have some revulsion against reading my blog, but if you are honest about this comment, you should certainly go to my post that reveals in more detail my appreciation for the Pope and his life’s work here

    Have you read that post?

    (3) What good does it do to make reference to the spirit world by essentially saying, “He’s a good man, he’ll therefore see the light like I have and do what I’ve already been smart enough to do.” How does such a focus make us more Christlike? How does it help?

    a. This really and truly is not what I said. You have completely supplied the arrogance to any vestige of my sentiment that has survived your paraphrasal.

    b. What makes us Christlike is accepting Christ’s Gospel, his Church and true prophets, including Joseph Smith, admiring the Pope and respecting him as we do with all of God’s children, and placing our hope in Christ that the Pope, because we love him, will also be exalted, which by itself implies, if I am to be true to my beliefs in the Restored Gospel, that he eventually also accept authoritative ordinances.

    c. This is also why my comment, properly understood and without the arrogance that you, SallyM, and PFS have added in, helps. It helps because it shows that Latter-day Saints want the Pope to be exalted, want to be with him “over there,” know of his devotion to Christ and thus of the likelihood that he will be open-minded when the additional truths that were restored to Joseph Smith are presented to him, and generally reveals a belief that God is no respecter of persons and will not let an individual bypass the necessary ordinances simply based on a position of prominence held during this life.

    Of course, any adherent of any other (Christian) religion will likely fundamentally disagree with such claims to authority. For them, God is also no respecter of persons, and Joseph Smith and President Hinckley will therefore burn in hell for all of eternity, regardless of any good they did in their lives or any position of prominence that they held. But how exactly is that the issue here? As Rusty pointed out, I wasn’t speaking to those people, really. I was just discussing the Pope with other Latter-day Saints who I presumed shared some of my own personal basic assumptions about religious authority claims. To say that my comment was arrogant and myopic is really to say that any expression of anyone’s faith that happens to exclude other truth claims is similarly arrogant and myopic. I understand that is certainly the angle SallyM is taking (which is why her comment about Luther, Catholicism, and a hopeful reformation within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is so curious), and I assume that it also informs your objections.

    (4) The reality is, it does nothing more than reinforce the correctness of our worldview and ensconce us in our perspective, closing our minds to the possibility of wider vistas and different interpretations.

    Well, I just disagree with this; so no need to spill lots of ink explaining why. I will just say that my beliefs in the truthfulness of my own system of beliefs (i.e. the Restored Gospel) does not necessarily imply a closed mind to that which others believe. To be true to myself, I still believe the Pope will have to accept authoritative ordinances before receiving a full exaltation, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t understand that Catholics don’t believe that.

    Brian G. wrote Having said that, I don’t condemn John Fowles for making the comment. I take it for the good-natured wishful thinking I believe it was, but come on guys, let’s be honest, it is both presumptuous and arrogant.

    Being honest, I don’t agree that it was presumptuous and arrogant. That’s because I know my own intentions when I wrote them. Have you read my post about the Pope at my own blog? True, it is a long post, and likely poorly written, but you will at least get an idea of my feelings about the Pope if you give it a chance.

    SallyM it’s ironic that the Catholic church’s difficulties with similar issues led to Mr. Luther and a Reformation. Perhaps that’s in the cards here as well.

    Hmmm. Good strategy: counter alleged arrogance and myopia with blatant arrogance and myopia.

  89. john fowles says:

    To take issue with Ronan’s title of this thread, I think the fact that PFS quoted me for BCC reveals that she does not read BCC.

    Furthermore, all of this discussion of arrogance and myopia (by the way, SallyM, I’m far-sighted, not short-sighted) is nice, but the real question is, how did PFS know that I am from Salt Lake City??? That is the really scary part. It also perhaps reveals that, although PFS certainly can’t be described as reading BCC (if she attributed my comment to BCC the way she did), she might be reading some blogs periodically. I have mentioned that I live in SLC over at T&S some time ago. . . .

  90. Wait, John, you didn’t tell her that?

    (Cue ominous music).

    Hmm. Perhaps her brother D. — a definite BCC reader, and didn’t he meet you in SLC? — pointed out your comment to her, and she worked it into the story.

  91. john fowles says:

    That seems logical.

  92. John F.: For them, God is also no respecter of persons, and Joseph Smith and President Hinckley will therefore burn in hell for all of eternity, regardless of any good they did in their lives or any position of prominence that they held.

    Doesn’t God’s grace extend to everyone in traditional Lutheran belief?

    (which is why her comment about Luther, Catholicism, and a hopeful reformation within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is so curious)

    I too was interested in this aside. Should we ever meet in person, I’ll tell you about the time when, on my mission, an investigator foresaw me forming my own church, meaning it as a compliment.

  93. John Fowles:

    Thanks for your comments. My comments weren’t specifically directed at you. I was speaking about our belief in general in the spirit world and where I think our focus ought to be. I hadn’t read your blog and therefore wasn’t referring to it.

    I see you as making a fairly innocuous statement that spurred further discussion and I decided to chime in – nothing more.

  94. John H,
    If a prophet changes a revelation, how do we know that the change wasn’t revealed?

  95. John H, we’re in agreement over the vagaries of the priesthood history. For my part, it seems to me that Peter, James, and John bestowed the keys of apostleship, and the Melchizedek priesthood was received at the Witmer farm. Even so, the claim of a new and different authority was already settled upon before the founding of the church, even if a lot of the details weren’t worked out until later. (And this is really me speaking here, John. I mean me as the authentic me, not me as the inauthentic poseur me that was so recently uncovered–much to my shame–by the sagacious SallyM.)

    At any rate, SallyM has been busy unleashing scorn at Mormons for being insensitive (that’s so 90s). In the meantime, the Pope was booed at a soccer game in Scotland when they tried to have a moment of silence. Once again, our luxurious freedom from genuine problems has compelled people to invent fake ones of their own. (I seem to recall something to this effect occurring in a thread where modesty came up.)

  96. “If a prophet changes a revelation, how do we know that the change wasn’t revealed?”

    We don’t – no question about it. However, we can make educated guesses by examining context, possible motive, etc. With the issue of the priesthood, one has to ask why something that seems so important – priesthood authority – is largely neglected until 1834-35? If Joseph was visited, then why wasn’t it mentioned in previous revelations?

    I’ll keep saying: My point isn’t to convince everyone that Joseph Smith is a big, fat liar. I don’t believe that. It’s just part of my continuing quest to show people that those of us who are skeptical have legitimate reasons for being so, whether we are ultimately right or wrong.

    I’ll confess, it was Eric Russell’s comment that kind of set me off, though I’m sure he didn’t intend any offense. To say I just need to hear the first discussion about priesthood restoration, as if I haven’t given it any thought beyond what that could solve, was a bit insulting. I gave the missionary discussions 10 years ago. I’m more than familiar with the Church’s explanations, and I’m familiar with the dilemmas. I’m not here to dismiss either side, I’m trying to see if there’s a way they can co-exist. Sometimes I think it can work, othertimes I’m not so sure…

  97. Adam Greenwood says:

    The problem with “comment” is that it has a technical meaning when associated with blogs, but that it has a larger, general meaning that overwhelms the technical meaning. I catch myself all the time talking about someone’s ‘comment’ when I mean their ‘post.’

    What the dear journalist should have done is call it a ‘reader’s comment,’ as in “John Fowles, in a reader’s comment at the blog BCC, etc.”

  98. John H,

    Apologies. I wasn’t trying to say that you hadn’t thought about it. In fact, I’m sure you have thought about it more than many of us. What I meant to say was that the idea that the church holds the only true restored priesthood is a basic, fundamental belief.

    I mean, why not struggle with how it’s possible that Jesus Christ performed an infinite atonement – that seems a lot more difficult to grasp than why we don’t have better records of the events surrounding the restoration of the priesthood. The question of whether or not the church does indeed posses the true priesthood is not a question that is resolvable through historical inquiry.

    I’m not saying we don’t need to study our history. But the nature of your question wasn’t asking how we can reconcile historical incongruities with our faith. Your question was of the form of “how do we know that any of this is true in the first place”. That’s a question that can only be answered by going back to the beginning. By receiving a personal witness of the spirit.

  99. Rosalynde, I appreciated your comments. Thanks for explaining. However, I might respectfully disagree with some of what you said: “spiritual experiences are not generally self-authenticating . . . personal experience becomes religious belief in the context of shared social practices.”

    I respectfully disagree. While it may be true (and that is probably why you qualified you statement as ‘generally’) that spiritual experiences are not ‘generally’ self-authenticating, there are nonetheless plenty of times when they are. My most important spiritual experiences have been self-authenticating, that is, I did not need “shared social practices” to know the meaning of the communication I had received. Personal communication from God as the only way to truly know something is at the core of my belief. That is what I find so remarkable about our Church, and why I have such confidence that it is The True Church, the good in other churches notwithstanding. We often supply logical reasons for why something is true after we’ve received an answer from God to explain perhaps why God gave us that answer. Sometimes over time, those logical reasons supersede the confirmation we initially received. As 1 Corinthians says, the things of the Spirit cannot be understood by man, they are indescribable. I think we often grope for logical reasons (and by logical, I mean able to be articulated using our imperfect language and faulty human reasoning) after receiving a witness, and those logical reasons soon replace in our consciousness the feelings we had and confirmation we received.

    Further, while other churches may invite their believers to gain a personal witness of Christ, of God’s love, etc., I have never seen another church that invited their believers to ask God for a personal witness whether this was the only true church, meaning the Church of Christ. If we don’t believe that is the case, then I think we don’t truly have a testimony, rather, we are relying on the social authentication that you spoke of above. Indeed, personal testimony can be the only lasting well-spring of experience. I believe the Church movie, “How Rare a Possession” illustrates this concept well, as the individual in that movie did not need some kind of outer confirmation (meaning coming from other people) to confirm to him that the Book of Mormon was true. He knew because God told him. And that was enough.

    Please don’t misunderstand. I do believe that some people need assistance along the way to understand what it is they are feeling, but on the other hand, there are plenty of individuals, including many I met on my mission, that, beyond an introduction to the truth, did not need my companion or I to know that the Church was true and Christ’s, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the Book of Mormon was God’s word.

    “After all, if spiritual experiences interpreted and explained themselves, we wouldn’t need missionaries to identify and interpret the whisperings of the Spirit to investigators.”

    This is simply not true. Missionaries’ first purpose is primarily to introduce people to the truth so they can find out for themselves. Their work to help others recognize God’s confirmation of that truth is a distant second. Your definition is not missionary work as I understand it, or as I hope to practice it.

    “But this is merely to recognize that spiritual communication, like other kinds of communication, requires an interpretive community–not to deny the utility or possibility of authoritative claims.”

    Again, as I state above, spiritual communication does not require an interpretive community beyond myself and God. That is the glory of God’s intensely personal plan. Each person can and indeed must know for themselves. We cannot perpetually live on borrowed light. Please do not misunderstand — we need the community of Saints, but for different reasons than knowing something is true.

    This seems so fundamental to me that it honestly surprises me that we’re discussing it. I personally don’t believe that God needs us to turn to anyone else after talking to Him to confirm what it was that He told us. Indeed, I think that we do just that far too often in the Church, which is the reason that we are not as strong as we might be. Joseph Smith’s experience in the Sacred Grove, I might add, defies completely your definition. “I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it.”

    If I’ve misinterpreted your remarks (it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done something similar), please explain to me what you meant.

  100. AT,

    I am sure you are aware of the standard reasoning of why Alma had authority to perform baptisms. For those who are not, it is that Alma, as a priest in the court of King Noah, had been properly ordained, and that his authority could be traced back to the original righteous group that left Zarahemla. This raises a question of when is authority to confer the priesthood lost through sin, but it doesn’t seem to me that one has to resort to the Holy Ghost providing authority for Alma’s work to be authorized.

  101. D. Fletcher says:

    Wow, a lot of sturm and drung, here, over a quotation in a local newspaper. My viewpoint may not be considered objective here, since Peggy is my sister. But I don’t see that she has done anything wrong. She has picked up a public quote, published in this public forum, given it proper attribution, and interpreted it precisely as it was intended, to give punctuation to her story about Mormons and Catholics, and the death of the Pope. There is… no precedent or protocol about designating a quotation as coming from a “poster” or a “commenter.” And I don’t think the quote itself is inappropriate, either — John Fowles said what he thinks, and it worked well in the Tribune story.

    P.S. Curiously, isn’t this what we all desire more than anything, that our ideas will be read, understood, and publicized? If that isn’t your wish, I suggest you not blog anymore.

  102. HL Rogers says:

    But you see what we desire more than anything is to be read, understood, publicized _AND_ cited correctly. We have very high standards and demands but after all isn’t that why we’re here at BCC instead of some fly by night operation! (cough T&S, cough MStar)

  103. D. Fletcher says:

    But HL, are you saying that John Fowles was cited incorrectly? I don’t see that…

  104. HL Rogers says:

    Well “cited incorrectly” may not be specific enough, which is of course the issue. I don’t think people here are complaining that Peggy Fletcher Stack made any mistake or did anything incorrectly (and others feel free to correct me if that sum up is incorrect, as I’m sure you will) but that the industry is citing to blogs the wrong way. That in order for there to be clarity of intent and content a reporter should make the distinction between someone posting and someone commenting. I think eventually style giudes will include this protocol (or something similar). Until then all of us bloggers will simply feel offended and rejected.

  105. D. Fletcher says:

    I don’t know about the whole “citing” thing, though I think Peggy will have definite opinions about it. Remember, our names, and certainly our online names, aren’t us. John Fowles might be himself, or he might be Arturo Toscanini, or a random John, or anybody. I myself am Deester on a number of threads. The most important citation, it seems to me, is BCC, so Peggy’s readers will know that she didn’t make this up, that somebody really did post it. But perhaps, this is what you’re suggesting, that there be a difference between a real post, which is presumably backed up by a profile of a real person, and a comment, which might be completely anonymous.

  106. Steve Evans says:

    For the record, this is how I see it:

    1. Peggy’s a great journalist and knows what she’s doing;

    2. JF may not have been cited the way I’d ideally prefer, but it’s close enough for me and I refuse to get in a snit about it;

    3. It was a good story and worked well for all — and there is no such thing as bad publicity.

    So, there you go. Controversy over IMHO. I love Peggy, she loves us, all is as it should be.

    And once I get back from vacation, I will have plenty of snarky posts for you all and will post at BT a scathing Zeitgeist. Fasten seatbelts, you dutch oven-cooking cousin-marrying knuckleheads.

    p.s. Can’t we all be a little nicer to each other around here? This is a friendly blog, not a debate message board.

  107. D., I agree with you about the attribution being just so much trivial detail (or as Elder Packer would say, “Unhelpful truths”). It seems to me that much of what has been going on here is mostly speculation about the Pope’s career in the afterlife mixed in with derision at the ability of Mormons to offer up ideas that are entirely consistent with their faith. Oh, and I was exposed as a poseur by the sagacious SallyM–we mustn’t forget that.

  108. john fowles says:

    D., I admitted much earlier that I did mean my comment more or less in the way PFS described. I also don’t have any problem with being quoted–like you said, it’s nice to get your name in the paper quoting you. But I do think that it does misrepresent BCC a little bit, but only, I guess, in the minds of people who are aware of any difference between my comments and the substance of permanent bloggers here. It is just a little ironic, is all.

  109. HL Rogers says:

    Steve sounds so lovey-dovey. Have you been inducted into a brainwashing love cult!?!

    I agree that Ms. Stack’s story was well-done. I don’t think what I see as a style guide issue is her issue. And John, I don’t see the irony …

  110. D. Fletcher says:

    I suppose what John is referring to, is that he believes he is not representative of BCC, in that his viewpoint is more traditional Church member (read: conservative) as opposed to the viewpoints of most of the BCC group (read: alternative/progressive), so it is ironic that he was quoted from here, as opposed to his own blog. Someone reading the Tribune story might think of BCC in a different light because John Fowles posts here. (Please understand, I’m just analyzing the “irony,” not trying to draw conclusions about anybody here.)

    Contrary to what Steve has said, I do think much of BCC’s value is the quality of the debate, in which case, John, you’re as valuable a participant here as anyone. I certainly value your posts, because they make me think about what I believe, and what I care to articulate about what I believe.

  111. john fowles says:

    D., yes, that’s what I meant. Thank you though for the encouragement.

    The silver lining here for BCC is simply that the URL was given in the newspaper. Anyone interested and following the URL will very quickly see that my myopic and politically incorrect comment really is not representative of BCC’s permanent bloggers and agenda.

  112. Have the visitor stats jumped at all since the article?

  113. Steve Evans says:

    Ben, not really; it’s hard to make a dent in the thousands of hourly visitors.

  114. 500 of those are me, if I am on a bad conference call.

  115. Rosalynde says:

    John H: I’m terribly late in responding; sorry. I’m with you on the complexity of the unfolding restoration, and I’m not untroubled by some of the chronology. My point was only that, whatever the bibliographic record of priesthood restoration, it seems to me that Joseph’s *actions* indicate his conviction of an exclusive priesthood authority from the beginning. (Basically what DKL said.)

  116. Rosalynde says:

    Hi Daniel–Thanks for your respectful tone, and sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. Let me emphasize my belief that spiritual experiences, although socially mediated, are not mere psychological delusion nor social conditioning, and do provide a valid basis for religious faith. They can yield real knowledge. My own testimony of the restoration rests on spiritual experiences.

    But they’re almost always authenticated through a shared (external) episteme–a certain way of knowing. Take Elder Bednar’s GC talk, in which he encouraged us to see coincident events in our lives as spiritual experiences, the “tender mercies” of the Lord. Well, life is full of coincidences, and, furthermore, the human mind is wired to supply significance and narrative to disparate elements–so how am I to know which instances of coincident timing are spiritual experiences? They don’t announce themselves as such, after all. I can recognize the Lord’s tender mercies in sequences of events that confirm gospel principles, that reveal relationships with Deity, that strengthen faithfulness. That is, I recognize those spiritual experience by their conformity with our shared ways of knowing our doctrine, our nature, our destiny.

    I’ve recently had a series of “coincidences” in my life that, without too much difficulty, I could interpret as a sign that I should do something that would be, shall we say, not gospel-friendly. How do I know that’s not a communication from the Lord? Because it doesn’t conform to those external standards of faithful behavior that I accept. So I write it off as mere coincidence, and ignore it–or I could go further and think of it as the handiwork of Satan (though I don’t).

    Or think about the experience of praying and not receiving an answer. When that happens, we interpret it as a “stupor of thought”–that is, as indicating that the Lord is answering “no.” In other words, we interpret silence as a substantive communication. But without D&C 9:9 to validate this interpretation, I’d be just as likely to conclude that God doesn’t exist, or that prayer is ineffective.

    Again, my point is not that spiritual experiences are fabricated or inauthentic–merely that they are not self-authenticating. They require an interpretive framework to yield meaning.

  117. Rosalynde: (Basically what DKL said.)

    What? Who?

  118. Rosalynde,
    On one level, I agree with you completely. There are often spiritual promptings that come that I do not recognize as such until much later, and others that I suspect may be spiritual, but on further reflection turn out to be coincidences. I also agree that the community of the Saints often helps us to better understand what it is we are feeling.

    Having said that, I do not agree that they must “almost always be socially mediated” or authenticated through a shared episteme. “The light of Christ is given to every man.” I think you’re taking worldly epistemological concepts and trying to apply them to spiritual knowing, and the two are simply not compatible. The Spirit is universal and speaks a universal language that ANY man or woman can recognize without the aid of anyone outside themselves or any system of knowing taught by man (and for that matter, it can’t be taught by man. Aided, perhaps, but not taught). I’m not saying that interaction with others doesn’t confirm those feelings (and sometimes serves as a crutch), only that interaction with others is not necessary. I’m explicitly not talking about spiritual confirmation of peripheral ideas (including such important subjects as marriage, careers, etc.). I am talking about the ability of someone to know the core doctrines of the gospel of Christ — namely, that this is His Church, that Joseph was His prophet, that Gordon Hinckley is His prophet, that Book of Mormon is true, and that Christ is the Redeemer–without any shared knowledge base or system of signifiers. I submit that those are things that require absolutely NO outside confirmation for one to know they are true. They do not depend on any episteme, insofar as the definition of that concept does not include the communications of the spirit that are independent of language, semantics, and even human reasoning. I am saying, quite simply, that the Spirit communicates in a way wholly different from any epistemological construct. And by placing it in such a construct, I think you cheapen it. I’m pretty sure that we agree on this, but I feel it is important to clarify. God speaks to man through his Spirit in a way that does not rely on our faulty language or faulty understanding or false concepts of learning to understand. The spirit’s form of communication is entirely different from the communication of anything else on earth, so applying concepts of learning associated with this mortal earth is wholly inadequate to its richness. It is (almost?) next-dimensional in its communication. Actually, I think that most of the time our epistemological constructs actually get in the way. It was for this reason that the Lord chose an unlearned, and almost completely uneducated farm boy to restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. He didn’t have any epistemes to get in his way.

    Does that make sense? I agree with you that the majority of answers are not this way, and that even when we ask the right questions, we don’t necessarily always receive such an answer. I am saying, however, that whenever whatever variables necessary for such an answer are aligned, that answer will be perfect, complete, and whole, without regards to whether it fits into a form of learning defined and bounded by this earth, and, necessarily, by our polluted, imperfect, faulty, and wholly inadequate language. Perhaps if we spoke Adamic, that would not be the case, but for purposes of this earth life, language just doesn’t cut it. (The PoGP talks much about language and its importance. I have long believed that we often lose the most important parts of our spiritual experiences because they don’t fit into these rough-hewn boxes of words with which we must work. As a result, the subtleties and wonderfully bright edges of such promptings are crushed, stained, mangled, and finally lost as we cram them into these imperfect epistemological boxes).

  119. Rosalynde says:

    Oops, sorry, Arturo. It’s just that your blinding intelligence, crippling wit and devastating good looks remind me so much of DKL…

    Daniel, I think I understand your position, and I think we will have to agree to disagree. I find it hard to imagine how the kind of knowledge you describe could be processed, articulated, or conveyed, nor do I see any evidence of that kind of knowledge in the scriptures or prophetic utterance. But of course I can’t refute your personal experience of that sort of communication. And both ways of knowing appear to be sufficient to bind us to our covenants. I think God is pleased with that.

  120. Rosalynde,
    Thanks for your wonderful responses and for the chance to think about this again. I really appreciate it. I’m not convinced that you understand (because if you understand then you would agree. :)), but you probably do.

    The scriptures abound with exactly this sort of teaching. They say this over and over — I kind of thought it was accepted fact. If I didn’t have a hearing the rest of the week, I’d respond sooner. As it is, I will put together a list of scriptures that I think convey this and get it to you sometime in the distant future. I am curious, however, about how you explain the experience of Vincenzo di Francesca in the Book of Mormon movie produced by the church. I’m not sure that he had anyone with whom he could mediate his new knowledge socially. He simply felt the Spirit and knew it was true. How do you reconcile that with what you said above? I’m honestly trying to understand, and I’m really curious. Maybe there is something I’m not seeing.

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