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!