Who Are the Ignoranti?

Just when you think all is well in Zion, an internet essay comes to your attention that promptly disabuses you of your naive sense of safety. I just read “Who are the Signaturi?”, in which the author attempts to identify a deadly cancer within the LDS community, and save all of us from falling prey to its malignant influence. Apparently, there is a dangerous dissident movement in the Church today, made all the more sinister by the refusal of its members to reveal their true feelings and intentions. Who are these wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing? Is my Elders Quorum instructor one of them? My hometeacher? My fellow bloggers? This beastly clique of Satan’s minions masquerades as a group of faithful Churchmembers, but don’t be fooled … they are biding their time until they have the numbers and strength to wreak havoc on the righteous!. Personally, I would have named them the “Gadiantoni,” or the “neo-Gadianton Robbers,” but I guess “Signaturi” will do.

Some of you may have read this essay before, but I just discovered it for the first time. (It has apparently been a “most discussed document” in the Bloggernacle). It has compelled me to scour my friends and acquaintances to see if any of them are secret members of the Signaturi cabal. I hope they’re not, but I really can’t be sure. Or maybe I can be … I hear that if you tie them up and drop them in a lake, the Signaturi will float, whereas faithful members will sink! I’m going to put this claim to the test this weekend with some of my co-bloggers. Steve, Jonathan … meet me at Lake Union this Friday night at 7:00 pm sharp! Don’t be late!

This piece is so inspiring that I find myself wanting to build on its valiant efforts, and identify other sub-species of dangerous Mormon. Those Godless evolutionists are always claiming to identify “new species,” so I see no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do the same right here among my fellow Churchgoers! Here goes…

(Play ominous music here …)

Brothers and Sisters, there is a particularly vile and deadly species of Mormon that sometimes infests our wards and seminaries. If I were the Prophet, I’d tell everyone to put down their Books of Mormon already and dedicate themselves singlemindedly to removing this infestation from the flock. But I’m not, so I guess I’ll have to wait ’til I get promoted. In the meantime, I exhort you all to keep your children close, maintain an ever-vigilant eye on your fellow Churchmembers, and be prepared to run screaming to the mini-van, kids in tow, in the event that these vile and sinister Mormons show you their true colors.

Who are these dreaded Church members? They are …. the “Ignoranti”!!! Read further, if you dare, to learn about their chilling characters and qualities:

1) The Ignoranti will only read or discuss LDS-themed books published by Deseret Book or Bookcraft. They claim to know that anything published elsewhere is by definition apostate and/or faith-destroying. They see no reason to try to sift the wheat from the chaff in what they read; better to assume that everything is all-wheat or all-chaff.

2) The Ignoranti are happy to discuss articles they’ve read in THE ENSIGN or BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY STUDIES. They can’t discuss the articles in SUNSTONE or DIALOGUE since they’ve never read them. Even if they had read them, there’d be nothing to discuss, since they know that those publications are authored by the Devil.

3) The Ignoranti have never attended the Sunstone Symposium, but they have read about it somewhere, or they have a friend whose dad’s brother’s cousin has a roommate who once went to Sunstone and apparently had a wild time. They are confident that what they heard about that symposium session twelfth-hand is (a) true; (b) representative of everything that goes on at Sunstone; and (c) disgusting.

4) The Ignoranti are confident that anything produced by CES is 100% historically accurate. They grudgingly acknowledge that “a prophet is only a prophet when acting as such,” but are quick to point out that Joseph never said “CES is only a prophet when acting as such,” so there! They are sure that any historical information that comes from sources outside the approved manuals is either (a) false; or (b) irrelevant to a deeper, richer understanding of Mormon doctrine, policy, practices, historical figures, etc. (Thus, they must know that Richard Bushman’s “Rough Stone Rolling” is part of a diabolical conspiracy to destroy Joseph Smith’s reputation and the faith of all Churchmembers).

5) The Ignoranti use the words “intellectual” and “pseudo-intellectual” interchangeably. In fact, they’ve forgotten what the prefix “pseudo-” even means. Isn’t the “pseudo-” part redundant? The only exception to this is when they’re using “intellectual” in its highly technical sense of “smart-guy-who-agrees-with-my-preferred-doctrinal-interpretations.”

6) The Ignoranti are sure that any concerns voiced by Church members about this or that excommunication are, by definition, part of a larger concerted effort to deny the Church its right to determine the boundaries of its own membership. They are confident that any such concerns are, in essence, legal arguments-in-embryo against the scope of the Church’s rights of free speech and association. They cannot imagine that internal critiques or concerns about the propriety of certain excommunications could be anything other than elements in this nefarious plot. And of course, since they cannot imagine it, it can’t be true!

7) The Ignoranti know that everything ever penned or said by Joseph Fielding Smith, Bruce R. McConkie, or Ezra Taft Benson is Gospel truth. They know this, in large measure, because Smith, McConkie and Benson have said so! They know that when other Church leaders have taken positions at odds with the views of these Brethren, the other leaders didn’t really mean what they said … But if they did, they were confused … And that confusion has no implications for how we should understand the teachings or writings of other Church leaders — like Smith, McConkie or Benson — generally, for reasons that they apparently understand, even if they can’t seem to articulate them.

8a) The Ignoranti are not fooled for a second by the seemingly moderate claims of most LDS “feminists.” They know that if you give these uppity woman an inch, they’ll try to take a mile. They know that any acknowledgement of women’s concerns about, say, how young women are treated in Church culture, is a step down the slippery slope to male emasculation, lesbianism and unisex bathrooms!

8b) Ditto for the gays. Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!

9) The Ignoranti know that prophetic revelations, by definition, cannot be better understood in any way by looking at their historical context. That the theological justifications offered by some Church leaders to rationalize the Priesthood Ban were unscriptural is of no moment (but see #10 below). That the justifications offered by Church leaders for the Ban were so often accompanied by “culturally induced racial prejudice and bigotry” that even the most conservative LDS member today would reject, can in no way shed light on how we might think about the Ban’s historical significance or meaning.

10) The Ignoranti know that Ezra Taft Benson’s “Fourteen Fundamentals of Following the Prophet” is the best, most authoritative discourse on the nature of prophetic authority ever (never mind the fact that it was given by a non-”prophet,” in the relevant sense of that word). President Benson’s claim that the living Prophet always trumps the scriptures is particularly important and true (except with respect to certain prophetic spins on the King Follett Discourse, and 101 other areas where it’s no longer fashionable to apply this principle with consistency). As a corollary, they obviously believe FARMS is of the Devil, since many in that organization have promoted understandings of Book of Mormon geography that contradict the assumptions and certain statements of the Prophets over the last 150+ years.

11) The Ignoranti know that the Book of Mormon is “true,” by which they mean that any and all questions about its meaning, historicity, interpretation and terminology are not only knowable, but in fact “known” by them. They know that the line between what must be understood “literally” or authentically ancient, and what might be prophetic interpolations or “the mistakes of men,” must be drawn correctly. Naturally, they always know exactly how and where to draw it.

12) The Ignoranti know that the appropriate response to unduly excessive promotion of “tolerance” and “diversity” in the Church is to be as intolerant and intellectually rigid as possible. Indiscriminate, overblown judgmentalness is the best antidote to combat these worldly tendencies. (These Latter-day Saints practice a variant of Mormonism heavily influenced by something other than Jesus’ life and teachings).

And there you have it. BEWARE THE IGNORANTI!

I must say that categorizing and pigeonholing my fellow Saints has become a confusing, laborious chore of late. I’ve actually created a matrix to help me better understand the various sub-species of Mormon: “Sunstoners,” “Signaturi,” “Iron Rodders,” “Liahonas,” the “Neo-Orthodox,” the “McConkie-ites,” etc. But it only raises more questions than it answers. Do any of these categories overlap? If so, by how much and in what ways? And which type of Mormon is more numerous? More dangerous? How should I prioritize my time in combating them? What methods are required, allowed, prohibited?

This is just so overwhelming. At times, I feel like throwing up my hands in despair and abandoning the whole project. But then I remind myself that my doing battle with the Adversary is God’s will. And you know what Nephi says:

“I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Nephi 3:7)

Like Nephi of old, I will go and do the things the Lord has commanded. I will annihilate my ideological and doctrinal opponents, with the unwavering knowledge that my cause is just. Join me, brothers and sisters, in my righteous cause!

Aaron B

Comments

  1. And what happens when a Signaturi and an Ignoranti get together to multiply and replenish the earth? Is it like “crossing the streams” in Ghostbusters?

  2. Yes. And all their children are Stay-Puft Marshmellow men. But from what I hear, they rarely get together. The Signaturi are too busy plotting the imminent downfall of God’s Kingdom, while the Ignoranti are sharpening their swords and breaking out the big guns for the impending apocalypse. Ain’t much time for multiplying and replenishing amidst all the war games.

    Indeed, they are like Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer in Ladyhawke … around each other all day, day after day, yet never quite able to meet and do the deed.

    Aaron B

  3. Whoa. I mean, whoa.

    This is destined to be a Classic – passed on from generation to generation.

  4. Steve Evans says:

    You had me at Gadiantoni.

  5. It was nice of you to leave the author of “Signaturi” anonymous. Personally, I find “liberal” and “conservative,” as generic descriptions of contrasting approaches to religion, to be the best non-pejorative terms for describing us and them.

  6. Eric Russell says:

    P.S. Aaron,

    Speaking of people who are categorizing and pigeonholing their fellow Saints, what are your thoughts on whoever created Prudence McPrude? What is the rhetorical difference between the creation of the “signaturi” category and the creation of Prudence? (Aside from the fact that one is obviously harmless because it’s just humor.)

  7. Eric Russell says:

    Aaron, pardon my apparent ignorance, but I’m left confused as to the argument here.

    There are indeed people in the church who generally fit you description of “ignoranti” just as there really are people in the church who generally fit the description of “signaturi” even though your term is somewhat more condescending and your description, perhaps for humor’s sake, is somewhat more extreme.

    But even though neither description perfectly describes any individual, both descriptions immediately evoke an image, and I think we all recognize people we know who fit either description. Although, of course, the vast majority are somewhere in between.

    But I think both descriptions are a fair warning of the dangers that come with entertaining a single scope mindset towards the church. Is that what you are saying? Are you saying that both descriptions are generally valid or that neither description is valid at all? Or are you saying that one description is valid but the other is not?

    My impression seems to be that you are concerned with the use of labels for such groups. And while, of course, no one fits any specific label perfectly, these two different mindsets are there. You can call them “ignoranti” and “signaturi” or, as Dave points out, “very conservative” or “very liberal,” but whatever you call them, and whether you call them anything or not, the different mindsets are still there. Admittedly, there is no good accomplished in labeling these groups, but I do think there is some good accomplished in recognizing the existence of such mindsets and making sure we’re being honest with ourselves.

  8. Holy cow, this is so old the last time I heard it I fell off my dinosaur. This was originally written years and years ago, back before anyone ever even heard of or even invented a blog, like in the early 1990s sometime, maybe even the late 1980s. Back when mormon-l and the ELWC e-mail lists were big gathering spots for the left leaning and highly critical. Like before the WWW became the internet. The original issuing of his treatise was via e-mail, not HTML.

    Redelfs is dead right that it was highly discussed, as it and he were immediately attacked ad nauseum by people who liked to call BKP “Bored K. Packer” and thought it was funny. Redelfs was very active in a lot of right leaning lists and was a regular firebrand, and the left hated him. Probably as much as good ol BKP. I recall he was much vilified by a core group of lefties who had formed their own little clique that privately operated a closed subscription list, who then seeded the larger open lists with rants against him.

    Prudence, if anyone qualifies as ignorant at this point, it is clearly you. Your hackneyed attempt at lampooning this ancient detritus has been done so many times by so many like-minded lefties that anyone over the age of 30 who paid attention to Mormons on the internet has read something like it at least a dozen times. Yawn.

  9. Well, Dorito, I am closer to 20 than to 30, so maybe that’s why I’ve never ready anything else like this post or the text it parodies.

    But the scary thing is–I’m not sure which is funnier.

  10. Dorito, I just turned 30 so count me among those who didn’t know about the Redelfian Treatise. Has anyone written a “history” of the early Mormon forays on the internet?

  11. Steve Evans says:

    “Prudence, if anyone qualifies as ignorant at this point, it is clearly you.”

    ED, you can do better than just hackneyed name-calling. You’re a smart guy.

  12. Cool Ranch Dorito says:

    People often have no control over whom gushes over them.

    I know this statement is true. Grammatically awkward, perhaps (whom gushes??!), but true.

  13. Ronan, I am not aware of any. It wouldnt be all that hard to compile that history, as there are a number of old timers floating around.

    Here is my 2 minute summary:

    An e-mail listserv started up at BYU for general mormon discussion ended up too “liberal” so it got kicked off and restarted by a gal and turned into a haven for lefties, called mormon-l. For those whom that was not left enough was started the Electronic Latter-day Women’s Caucus (aka the ward from hell), which was supposed to be secret and by invitation only, but it grew large and unwieldly, eventually letting on some men and becoming ELWC-plus, but it was infiltrated from time and to time and shut down and restarted. Smaller private clique lists were spun off from these two. I have no idea if any of them still exist.

    Around the same time a mess of other listservs with every imagineable subject topic sprung into existence, most of which no longer exist. Some of them spawned WWW home pages and archives, but most have probably fallen into the obscurity of 6 track reel to reel backup tapes resting peacefully in landfills in various California landfills.

    Then web became cool and hip and people like Jeff Lindsey did their stuff, and e-mail listservs ended up pretty uncool because its not all flashy JPGs and spinny java applets. Then blogs came along.

    Clark Goble used to do a FAQ where he kept up to date on the various listservs and new web pages, so he could flesh it out some more if he chose to.

  14. Steve, but hackneyed name calling is so fun. Aaron clearly enjoys it and he is a smart young man capable of doing more than lampooning stuff so old Ronan would have difficulty translating it from the original autographed manuscript.

  15. I think that this document on the Ignoranti is an example of the pigeonhole paradox (which is I formulated as, “one cannot object to people pigeonholing others without pigeonholing those people as pigeonholers”).

  16. DKL – So true.

    Dorito — I’m not going to apologize for or be embarrassed about the fact that I didn’t know this was an ancient document. It was brought to my attention on an email list as if it was new, it reads as if it could be new, and it has copyright 2005 written at the bottom of the page. Thus, it is probably fair to conclude that it contains both ancient and 21st Century elements.

    Maybe Blake Ostler will analyze it for us in a Dialogue article, pointing out which portions are authentically ancient, and which are modern expansions…

    Aaron B

  17. I interpreted this whole post as a missive against such categorizations. I mean, reading it, you realize how ludicrous such an endeavor is…am I being completely dense and missing something here?

  18. No, Stapley, you got it.

    Except I would add that some sort of categorization project is probably inevitable, since we human beings always need some sort of shorthand label to apply to those who seem to possess a bundle of qualities that we’d like to be able to refer to succinctly. What is ludicrous, in my view, is the obsessive preoccupation with defining certain categories in such a way as to conveniently include all our ideological opponents and each and every pet peeve we have about other members of the Church within the category. And of course, there’s the silliness inherent in convincing ourselves that The Adversary must be directly motivating all our … adversaries. Etc.

    Aaron B

  19. Funny stuff, Aaron. You are right to point out that labeling is fraught with problems. Very few people fit the “Signaturi” label very well, just as your humorous response “Ignoranti” does not. Indeed, the degree to which any individual corresponds to the characteristics of either label marks only a small part of who that person is. I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the myriad small ways in which people defy my expectations.

    I have read Redelfs’ little bit on the ‘Signaturi’, a term that was coined by none other than Dr. William Hamblin of BYU, Medieval historian and Mormon apologist. Thus it seems to arise out of the sometimes bitter conflict between apologists and those ‘critics’ who come from within the ranks of the Church. It has been claimed on at least one occasion that there is no such thing as a ‘loyal opposition’, and this idea now seems to have been broadened to suggest there is no such thing as a profitable difference of opinion.

    The simple truth is that there is a great deal of difference of opinion, even between the apostles. Elder Packer appears to be a real lightening rod for inter-quorum tensions, so I hear. It does reassure me to know that this is the case. The apostles disagree with each other, but they also strive to work together and arrive at some consensus. While the average member of the Church does not have the same weight of responsibility, we too should learn how to disagree without getting bitter and apocalyptic about the whole thing.

    What really bothers me about Redelfs’ piece is its use of apocalyptic tropes about apostates and false prophets in the fold. While this rhetorical pose has an august past, coming directly out of certain NT epistles, it goes far beyond the past counsel of the General Authorities to avoid certain publications and meetings all the way to stigmatizing individuals who have the air of the ‘liberal’ about them. It suggests that they are the demonic forces preceding the end times. In short, intentional or not, this piece is an invitation to dehumanize and to demonize members of the Church who hold views at variance with the author’s doctrinal allegiances.

    How productive can this possibly be?

  20. So, in order to be considered “not ignoranti” you have to attend and read Sunstone?

    Huh?

  21. Does the SLM committee have files on those who comment behind a handle? Will that group die when BKP goes on to his reward? I think the heart of this debate is growth/antigrowth. At a certain critical mass, no organization can function under a rigid common belief system.

  22. Dorito,

    Would you mind giving us your personal email address so that we might be able to run all of our posts by you so that we can avoid posting any “old” material?

    Give me a break.

  23. Aaron, it seems you have touched quite the nerve, as some people don’t seem to be getting it. Is this a Mormon thing or just a human thing?

    On a side note, I really quite like Redelfs…Signaturati opus aside. He says what he is and I find him refreshingly authentic. I think he is also less rigid than the essay portrays him.

  24. Seth R. — Not exactly. I would refer you to a certain paragraph in “Who Are the Signaturi?”, which also applied to the Ignoranti:

    “Now, possessing one or several of these characteristics does not by itself mean that a person is necessarily one of the [Ignoranti], that distinction belongs only to those who are members of this clique which may in fact be a secret combination within the Church. Nor must one possess all of these characteristics to be a[n] [Ignoranti]. Indeed, some of the best disguised [Ignoranti] are so adept at masquerading as faithful saints, they possess none of these qualities. Therefore this list should be thought of more as a profile than a definition.”

    Aaron B

  25. Aaron,

    That was pretty much the best post ever! You’ve got to submit it for publication somewhere.

  26. I think Seth has asked an interesting question.

  27. John, I think Aaron already provided an answer.

  28. “Therefore this list should be thought of more as a profile than a definition.”

    Ah, I get it: doctrinal profiling. So, when I hear something that could be construed as falling within the characteristics listed in the profile, I should make a mental note of the person who said it. I should be vigilant because this person very well may be in this *possible* secret combination within the Church.

    Whew! Now I am on my guard. Thanks. ;-)

  29. Kevin Barney says:

    J. Stapley, FWIW I agree with you about Redelfs.

  30. Jeff G —

    Thanks. FYI, the Ensign is inundating me with calls this morning, asking if they can publish it, but I told them that I needed to fit a certain profile, so as to maintain my street cred with my chums in a certain secret combination I subscribe to. Thus, maybe I’ll have to pitch it to the collective dark forces at Sunstone. :)

    Aaron B

  31. How many people are there in the whole world who read BYU Studies but not Dialogue? Maybe 50? 60?

  32. Probably, but there are quite a few who read BYU Studies, but not Sun Stone (like me).

  33. a random John says:

    Given that I have a chance of getting a response here, I still want to know if Prudence is taking the pledge. Anyone?

  34. J., I don’t really read too much of Sunstone, either. Not on principle or anything; just life’s too short. But I will read relevant academic material from the magazine, if it’s cited or recommended…

  35. J., I’m going to tie you to a chair and read Sunstone to you! You’ll like it!

  36. J., how many people out there read “Sun Stone”? I imagine it’s the same number who read the Book of Mor-Mon.

  37. Aaron, Like you would ever apologize for anything anyway. Next youre going to start cracking Sinatra/Martin/Davis jokes and insist its fair play because they all died before you hit puberty.

    Ian, Write up all your posts and then send them to me by doing this “mv * /dev/null” and I will get right back to you on my editoral comments.

    Ronan, I do not like them here or there, I do not like them anywhere, I do not like them in a chair.

    Steve, I’ll read Sunstone if you BCC’rs start reading the conference editions of the Ensign.

  38. Steve Evans says:

    ED, I read them as part of cutting out the talks and pasting them into my scriptures.

  39. That was hilarious, Aaron.

    It is kind of sad that one has to talk about any of this. I did not experience these kind of pressures when I grew up in the Church in Germany.

  40. Whoa there Mr. Dorito – I may not read the conf. edition of the Ensign, but it is on my iTunes and I read it on-line. Let’s just take a step back now…

  41. Glad to see that ED is not buying into any stereotypes like: no BCCer reads the Conference talks in the Ensign.

  42. What the heck is the Ensign?

  43. Eric Russell —

    1. I agree that the term “Ignoranti” is more condescending than “Signaturi”, but I don’t think I agree that my descriptions are any more “extreme” than those in the linked article.

    2. I agree with much else that you say, but I would add that, regardless of the accuracy of the categories as applied to this or that person, I think to impute sinister motives and intentions to those with any of these qualities is totally silly. And that’s what motivated this post as much as anything.

    3. You asked:

    “What is the rhetorical difference between the creation of the “signaturi” category and the creation of Prudence? (Aside from the fact that one is obviously harmless because it’s just humor.)”

    You answered your own question.

    Aaron B

  44. Ah… It was kind of cold this morning. But now I get to bask in the warm glow of Mr. Dorito’s hatred…

  45. Prudence McPrude says:

    arJ — Prudence sees no reason to pledge herself to anything, other than to spreading righteousness, by any and all means necessary. Prudence knows it is God’s will that she call a spade a spade, even if some find her words hard to bear, and she will not be constrained by the Pledges of Men.

  46. #43, Ronan,

    You’re British, so obviously you shouldn’t be expected to know that Ensign is a rank in the United States Navy.

    What blows me away about Aaron’s post is his assertion that Rough Stone Rolling is about Joseph Smith. Cany anyone verify that? All this time, I thought it was about Mick Jagger.

  47. Wow, while all of you guys are a bunch of confirmed certifiable lefties, it pretty plain to discern which ones of you are humor challenged and which arent. Couple of guys here need more fiber in their diet.

  48. This was an amusing recent response to something quite old — I haven’t heard John talk about the Signaturi in a very long time. He’s a very good guy who backs down quite readily when he’s crossed the line if you point it out gently — you can almost see him blush.

    John is hard-core, but benevolent about it. Red, OTOH, could get particularly nasty with those he disagreed with — it was fun watching him bash with Ed Decker on LDS-NET for a little while.

    38 — Red? Is that you?

  49. J. Stapley writes:

    “Probably, but there are quite a few who read BYU Studies, but not Sun Stone (like me).”

    J., I’ve told you this before — your little rants won’t change the fact that you’re just not the only game in town with a two word title, both beginning with S, and one of which is “sun.”

    I recommend that you try coping with this reality, not fighting it. For example, you could propose a collaboration. Who wouldn’t want to read Splendid Sun Stone, after all?

  50. Problems with initials–

    When ELWC showed up the first time, I’d have sworn that it was the good ol’ Ernest L. Wilkinson Center.

  51. And “Dr. William Hamblin”??

    I know it’s 30+ years on, but I still remember Bill as a doofy adolescent, firing bottle rockets by remote control from the bluff behind his home in Indian Hills.

    You want to put a “Dr.” in front of that?

  52. Steve EM says:

    Mark B., I thought the same when I saw the ED abreviation. But, I know Doritos and he’s a horn dog and a half. The last thing he needs is Viagra.

  53. Keith B. says:

    I have always wondered if the name “Signaturi” was a take off on the “Illuminati”. I know Redelfs is a big supporter of the John Birch Society, which promotes various conspiracy theories. I don’t know anything about Dr. William Hamblin.

  54. Mor-Mon is He-Man’s third cousin, twice removed.

  55. AB – what are you a lawyer? you sound like you write briefs for a living (or at least write blogs in your briefs)

  56. 54 — His Jamaican cousin. A very manly mon.

  57. Just in case anyone didn’t know this already: ED is incorrect. I and plenty here are not “a bunch of confirmed certifiable lefties.”

    I officially invoke all the powers of the DKL paradox and would like to pigeonhole the obvious pigeonholer as, uh, you guessed it, a pigeonholer. And no touchbacks either!

  58. Steve EM says:

    “I know Redelfs is a big supporter of the John Birch Society”

    With only a handful of commies left in the world, didn’t the Birchers declare victory and close-up shop? I can’t imagine there are are any active Birchers left. What would they talk about?

  59. You guys, I got this book from the library yesterday that is awesome. It’s called Proving Contraries, a collection of writings in honor of Eugene England. I don’t know who he is, but I’ll look it up. But the essays are really awesome. Along the lines of the conversation here.

  60. Mark IV (#46)

    The US got most of their naval terminology from ….

    THE BRITISH NAVY!

    Which includes the term “Ensign” by the way.

    Just another case of an American who thinks we invented “talking good.”

  61. Seth:

    Is that “Ensign” with a long “i” as in flag, or “Ensign” with a schwa “i” as in lowest commissioned officer?

    Besides, why wouldn’t we get naval terminology from the English. The US is, mas o menos, an English speaking country.

  62. Who the heck edited my ED comment out of #50? Steve EM obviously saw it, since his comment 52 refers back to it.

    I wonder if I posted a comment about the Erector Set I had when I was a kid, would that get chewed up and spat out unceremoniously too?

  63. To lawyers everywhere, just to demonstrate that I have done my due diligence and am therefore 100% NOT guilty:

    I looked up U.S. Navy ranks here, and I looked up Her Majesty’s Navy ranks there.

    Even though this is Friday and St. Patricks’s day, don’t well all have to put in some billable time?

  64. Mark B, You’ll learn overtime, the posts aside, this is a very PC orthodox site comment wise.

    When I was at BYU, a very large crane marked “Scott Erection”, with “Erection” in bold, was always good for free entertainment in getting the Joe/Molly Mormons worked up.

  65. Mark IV, your second link doesn’t work, but there ain’t no Ensigns in the Royal Navy, except for the long “i” ensigns flying from the mast–or wherever they hang flags these days.

    In the US Navy, they could have hung Ensigns from the yardarm, in the olden days, but it’d be tough these days–no masts, no yards, no yardarms.

  66. I, for one, am sick of Republican elites like Aaron Brown calling those with whom they disagree ignorant.

  67. John Mansfield says:

    The British Navy has never had ensigns. The U.S. Navy began using the rank in 1862 and named it based on the lowest officer rank in the French Navy, enseigne de vaisseau.

  68. Hahahaha, Aaron, this is fantastic.

    (ok, ok, so maybe BCC did deserve another chance…)

  69. Well, I’ve read quite a few thought-provoking threads here on BCC without ever letting my presence be known, but today you’ve actually managed to draw me out for the first time. In response to the initial post and 12. above, the line:

    People often have no control over whom gushes over them.

    I’m surprised and delighted to see this construction referred to as “grammatically awkward” rather than “wrong.” This is a case of something which is found routinely in Attic (and, I believe several other ancient varieties) of Greek and known as “case-attraction.” The relative pronoun [who(m)] acts as the subject of the lower clause (“He gushes over X”), but the object of the higher clause (“Control over him“), so we have conflicting instincts about how to mark it grammatically. Of course in English (and “good” Greek) theoretically always mark a relative according to its role in the embedded clause, so technically [who] is the “correct” form.
    But “correctness” aside, I’m very impressed with anyone who thought about their writing long enough to make that sort of error and equally so with anyone who paused long enough in reading it to wonder why it sounded funny.
    I wonder whether making a comment like that qualifies one as an “intellectual” and thus a signaturus? I don’t fancy myself an intellectual… even so, maybe I should up my dose of Deseret Book reading matter and throw away my Koine NT just to be sure?

  70. Sweet. Welcome aboard, SJP.

  71. Lovely. Anyone who brings up case-attraction in Greek is the kind of person whose posts I want to read more often. Of course, it requires that he post more often. Keep ‘em coming, SJP.

  72. Wait, make that ‘he or she’. I have no idea about the gender behind those initials.

  73. Even though this is Friday and St. Patricks’s day, don’t we all have to put in some billable time?

    I sure did.

    Interesting stuff.

  74. Reply to 61:
    The Ensign used to actually have a blurb of its pronunciation on the first page next to the publishing info. Basically it said it is pronounced enzIne not ensuhn.

    I believe that Ensign in the context of the magazine means a flag, standard or banner and is not related to the naval term Ensign (Ensuhn).

  75. Nice, SJP :)

    As an avowed (but sloppy) language nazi, I’d always wondered how that was supposed to work in English. Prescriptive grammarians unite!

  76. Ben S.:

    Careful saying things like that! As an aspiring linguist with other LDS linguist friends who read this blog from time to time, I could be effectively tarred and feathered for that sort of thing! Well, probably not. Even so, it’s fair to say that though I appreciate perspicuity as much as the next guy, I’ll never get on anyone’s case for what I will affectionately refer to as ‘linguistic innovation.’ I, for one, welcome the encroachment of case-attraction (and the persuant morphological and syntactic chaos) on our oh-so-confusing system of relative markers!

    (Technically, case-attraction in English is probably a hypercorrection, rather than a legitimate syntactic reanalysis. Alas!)

  77. Sorry to get in on this so late. I peruse the bloggernacle less than I would like and am usually a few days behind.

    My problem with this post is that it both accepts the cliches that it satirizes and comes up with its own straw men to tear down.

    An example of the former is that the “ignorati” read BYU Studies but not Sunstone or Dialogue. The fact is that only a miniscule percentage of church members have ever read BYU Studies and they are probably some of the most educated and open minded. Just the other day I read an exceptionally researched article about one of my ancestors and had to walk away admitting that the actual circumstances of his conversion are possibly not what popular lore has long maintained.

    An example of the latter (straw man) is creating an “ignorati” who thinks that Bushman’s “Rough Stone Rolling” is a part of the evil cabal. I have yet to meet anyone critical of “Rough Stone Rolling” or to denounce Bushman as a Sherem or a Korihor. And yet there is much pretense in the bloggernacle that those of us who own and/or have read it are much more enlightened than the rest of the Church membership who only see Joseph Smith as a mere Prophet of God and Restorer of God’s priesthood.

    Personally, I am grateful for my “chances for learning” (3 Ne. 6:12) but feel that my chances for baptism, the Spirit and the Priesthood are greater.

    I have known those of the type who wrote the “Signaturi” and they are just as likely (and probably more so) to look for error’s “creeping” into the Ensign or BYU Studies, or for the sheep-clothed wolf who is employed by CES than to rail against the folks down at Sunstone who they know little of and have totally written off anyway.

    As for the cliches about certain church figures: it is true that some zealots misuse (or only use) the teachings of certain figures. But for the rest of us to scoff at or discount the teachings of doctrinal giants because the “ignorati” love them is only a disservice to ourselves.

    After all, if you want writings that are bold and that push the envelope, just read the works of Elder McConkie, President Joseph Fielding Smith and President Benson. My shelves contain their words and those of Richard Bushman. But I would be the last to say that Bushman’s contribution (important tho’ it is) is more important than that of the brethren mentioned above.

  78. Here is the original 1994 version of “Who Are the Signaturi” which I put up on the Internet about the same time I created my email discussion list, Zion, in November of 1993. I made a few minor changes in 2005. Hence, the difference in the copywrite notice. I am still active on the Mormon-L list, and have been since the summer of 1992. Most of the radical leftists, have left for more secretive climes.

    Who are the Signaturi:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20021009063354/http://www.zionsbest.com/signatur.html

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