Instincts

The Church has long been governed by a fundamental, basic instinct, to restrict access to sources and to control information and thought that doesn’t match its preferred self-perception as the only true and living church on the face of the earth. That instinct served the institution pretty well for much of its history when information about the faith was not so easy to come by. But we now live in the internet age. And all of that stuff the Church wanted so badly to keep under wraps is but a mouse click away. And all of a sudden that deep-seated instinct to hide the ball is not serving the institution so well anymore. To its credit, the Church has endeavored to adjust to the new reality, with the Joseph Smith Papers Project being perhaps the leading evidence and example of a new approach. But the Church still has work to do to enter fully today’s information age.

Let me give you some fairly random examples of instincts that may have seemed sound in the past but, I would argue, no longer serve the institution well:

  1. I’ll start with one that’s personal to me. We long have liked to pretend that the JST reflects (in English) a restoration of the original text. There are some instances where that is the case, but those are a small minority of the revisions; for the most part other things are going on. I published an article articulating some of those other considerations that drive JST emendations back in the 80s. I considered my approach completely faithful, so I was dumbfounded when some BYU professors began to consider me the devil incarnate for pointing this out. (My work is now memorialized for all time and eternity in a negative fashion in a footnote to the introduction of the critical edition of the JST manuscripts.) Well, ok. But here’s the thing; the notion that the JST is overwhelmingly a textual restoration is completely indefensible. And by painting my work as somehow anti-Mormon, you’re painting yourself into a corner. Anyone who looks at this issue seriously will discover this. And in my view this doubling down on JST revisions being restorations of original text is completely unnecessary to support a faithful approach.
  2. In the early 80s I was in the same married student ward as Blake Ostler (he taught Sunday School and I taught Elders Quorum). When his “The Book of Mormon as a Modern Expansion of an Ancient Source” came out, I recall the heat he took for it. The BYU Religion Department invited him to a lion’s den of a forum to defend his thesis. I was not there, but it was a very hostile crowd. But here’s the thing; I don’t think I know of anyone today who accepts BoM historicity who doesn’t accept his thesis to at least some extent. Trying to argue for historicity without something like this thesis in your hip pocket is almost impossible. The instinct to preserve the Sunday School understanding of what the BoM is was at odds with what is actually defensible.
  3. For many decades you couldn’t do archival research at the LDS archives without having your notes examined and, more often than not, confiscated. Hugh Nibley and his research assistant came up with a work around: they kept their notes in Spanish written in Greek letters, and so of course their notes were never confiscated. If you’re worried about what Hugh freakin’ Nibley is going to write about the Church, you’re being overly defensive. (Fortunately the archives have been professionalized and this kind of thing has become less of a problem, although access decisions can still be a source of frustration.)
  4. For decades now publishing in Dialogue or Sunstone has meant an automatic rejection for employment at BYU. But guess where responsible treatments of challenging issues are? Not the Ensign. Signaling that scholarly engagement with difficult issues will not be tolerated means that people who value their employment with the church won’t touch such issues, thus limiting the responsible resources available when troubled students run into these things. I realize to some the Dialogue ban seems like it’s a way of saving and preserving faith, but in my view it accomplishes exactly the opposite.
  5. For many, many years you could take OT at BYU and not be exposed at all to the Documentary Hypothesis. These days you can be exposed to it in special courses with certain professors, but overall that situation hasn’t changed.

I’m sure you can multiply examples (and I encourage you to do so in the comments).

My point is that the Church’s instincts to try to protect faith by these kinds of actions and policies have turned out (in my view) to be counterproductive. And while I applaud the Church’s efforts to bring its policies into the 21st century, it hasn’t been enough, not by a long shot. We still haven’t quite figured out that these kinds of things are now only a click away, and the way to preserve faith is not to bury them in the back yard but to engage them responsibly.

Comments

  1. Happy Hubby says:

    The Joseph Smith papers are so voluminous that an average member is not going to read them. Maybe a few will buy them to put on a bookshelf to impress, but read – that would be scholarly. It almost feels like burying some things in plain sight mainly for the ability in the future to say, “we didn’t hide that.”
    I look at the treatment of the essays as proof the leaders only release information on ground they have already given up. They had a chance to include them in the Gospel Doctrine lessons for this year, but they way they slipstreamed them only into the online version has meant that not one item covered in the essays has made it into my ward’s Gospel Doctrine class.
    Only a few months ago I read Elder Ballard’s address to the CES that was published in the Ensign that talked about the essays. Not one of the High Priests had ever heard about them.

  2. Thanks for defending Mormon scholasticism, Kevin. Whenever I can, I bring academic views into my GD lessons (and my liberal bishopric lets it happen). I actually just used your JST article yesterday in lesson 13.

  3. Agree and find interesting all of your examples. Taking a slightly different tangent, an old instinct that now causes trouble is the attempt to keep Church discipline confidential. Apostasy excommunications are the most obvious problem, but in some circumstances disfellowshipment and even withholding a temple recommend can’t be kept quiet. Word gets out, the Streisand effect can be seen in full bloom, and differences of administration (the “lottery” some of us decry) are obvious and painful.

  4. Interesting, and I wonder if ultimately this instinct is going to pass away.

  5. Curious to learn more about #1 and #2. Henry Eyring is one of my very favorite church figures – long before the internet came around he encouraged the church to get the skeletons out of the closet. As a scientist he embraced all truth as part of the gospel.

  6. Does anyone else get the vibe that the Q15 sometimes takes certain stances to effectively say “You asked for X, but we’re doing the opposite (or nothing) so you know that we will not make changes just because you asked.” I feel like this is an instinct.

  7. While I don’t argue with the effects you describe, Kevin, I think you’ve overdrawn the motivations. Those early records were considered to be sacred by early generations of their custodians, and they were kept from “unholy hands” for that reason, in those early generations — not to conceal the truth or control the story, but to protect sacred records that were created because the Lord instructed they be created and preserved. At some point your description probably becomes more valid, but I’d limit that attitude to a few decades in the mid-20th century. Seriously. Restrictions now are as frustrating as ever, but there are well-thought-out purposes and limits to those restrictions. Disagree with them, fine; but those defined and announced limits don’t have anything to do with concealment or controlling the narrative. As somebody who has now spent 20 years mining those collections, and who no longer has any particular love for the bureaucracy there, I should have some credibility.

    Also, the description of conditions in the past is a bit overdrawn. The claim that notes were confiscated “more often than not” cannot be justified. No one would ever have tried, had they had so little confidence of being able to retain their notes. You only hear about the historians who were oh-so-clever in their outsmarting of the system — Hugh Nibley, and Sam Taylor, who made a carbon copy when he typed his notes, stuck the carbon in his pocket, and turned in the original for approval (supposedly he never went back for the original which he no longer needed).

    The Library/Archives/CHL (whatever its name at whatever period) is not a bogeyman out to thwart scholars merely because it can, or because it wants to hide the good stuff. I’ll say what I’ve said online a hundred times before: The Library’s reading room is virtually empty most of the time, day in, day out, year after year. I’ll take complaints about inaccessibility of records a lot more seriously when I see a lot more people making use of what *is* available.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled complaints.

  8. I suspect this instinct will be a very long time in passing away–and that is if it ever does. Some of the reasons for that:

    1. This is a Church that loves stories. We value story-telling so much that we invite people to do it every single week for multiple hours. We rarely have doctrinal sermons, but nearly always hear personal, faith-affirming experiences in sacrament meeting; priesthood and Relief Society and YM/YW classes are always long on personal anecdote; and even Sunday School is frequently an exercise in telling either scriptural or personal stories in the name of understanding our standard works. And the Church itself likes to control its own historical stories. It does not, and has not in my lifetime, been at all willing to share messy stories and allow members to take meaning from them. Rather, it wants to present history in the style of fables: story + moral. (Just look at the Gospel Doctrine manuals, which present a “purpose” for the lesson rather than simply engaging the text.) I think it will be a real sea change to see that modified.

    2. Correlation is deeply entrenched. Few other churches are as totally centrally controlled as the LDS Church is, and so successful in ensuring that teaching is consistent across the populace. Opening the door to real discussion puts that at risk. There is some real practicality to that approach: it keeps the risk of a schism low and ensures a common language, a set of experiences that tell people they are among friends/fellow believers. We have been taught for many years that any straying from “orthodoxy” is a sin and a sign of weakness, and therefore, most members would rather blandly repeat the same five answers to lesson questions than risk going outside the accepted boundaries. As such, when the Church controls information and meaning, it maintains the status quo here.

    3. We are not a church of seekers anymore. Like lots of big organizations, we moved away from our radical and independent roots long ago. We tell people to seek answers in prayer–but we also prescribe a pretty narrow set of answers that can be returned from such an inquiry. We give callings and change them often; we don’t let people find their calling (resulting in the common low quality of teaching and leadership in an average ward). We don’t really encourage people to seek out and find spiritual gifts, to blaze new spiritual trails of their own–we encourage them to tread in the same worn paths of those who came before. Seekers are open to any truth; we are only open to what’s already in the manual. Even spiritually, we want to control the message.

    4. A Church that is led by revelation finds it hard to change by any other mechanism. And furthermore, we find the prophet’s revelation to be FAR more valuable to any member’s. We are not set up for change to come from below since we want to see the prophet as the Lord’s only chosen mouthpiece. As such, there is commonly a high degree of skepticism from the membership about anything that doesn’t have recent General Conference backing. If the people that the only truly valid interpretation of anything comes from HQ, the instinct will continue to be to keep a tight grip on those means of interpretation.

    And the list could go on and on. There’s a lot of momentum in the direction of restricting and shaping and finessing our information rather than just giving it to the people and letting them work it out with God.

  9. From the original post: “its preferred self-perception as the only true and living church on the face of the earth”

    Given D&C 1:30 (“…the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually”) that preference and that perception are not only understandable, but absolutely necessary for the sake of honesty, fidelity, and authenticity, unless, of course, you don’t believe D&C 1:30 is inspired and the word of God.

  10. What if the fruit of the seeds you’re planting is not more faith, but more stunted growth and spoiled fruit?

    I can’t tell you where exactly life begins in the womb, but I know abortion is wrong. That doesn’t mean all sorts of confusing and valid objections about conception, implantation, miscarriage, body rights, etc. are raised which obfuscate the issue and create a huge “safe space” for people to actually support abortion.

    I don’t have a beef in the battles over apologetics. But I know from experience the church is true, the book of Mormon is true. Reading it and honoring the prophets, studying their words to get closer to God can actually bring miraculous testimony as you serve him through your fellow man.

    I view the questions and debates over translations, documents, etc. as being like the debate over abortion, life, rights. It’s very easy to raise objections and point out issues. But abortion, as practiced and supported, is still fundementally wrong and the broader discussions and rationales only detract from that knowledge.

    I realize I entered a minefield with connecting abortion to this argument, but it’s an equally strong issue that is outside the church and has all sorts of scientific and cultural weight thrown behind justifying it, just like some of these “church issues” here.

    I don’t believe the tree that’s planted from most of the seeds of non-traditional approach to faith are blossoming into multigenerational members. But will lead to more stunted trees of no growth filled with dead wood that will ultimately have to be pruned and new vibrant faith, untainted and similar to restoration era, grafted in its place.

  11. SayWhatNow says:

    Interesting. A lot of this is new to me. For example, my husband published an article in Dialogue a few years ago, and I had no idea that could be a consideration in my future employment options (heading on the academic job market next year and considering BYU…and I assume they’ll hold me accountable for his writing…which was excellent…).

    But really, also…what is the Documentary Hypothesis? What did you and Blake Ostler say about the JST and BoM in your writing? Could you provide some internal links? (I ask mid-Google…)

  12. Happy Hubby says:

    @MH – it does seem to me that the Q15 if ever prodded publicly will do ANYTHING BUT what someone is asking for. It seems to me to feel like a bit of a power trip – “We will show THEM who is boss.” It seems only until their backs are against the wall do they make a change (polygamy and church property being confiscated, priesthood/temple ban on Blacks and rumored loss of tax exempt status for BYU, science being so clear being gay isn’t a choice, etc.)

  13. Tiberius says:

    In general agree, but I don’t think that the Dialogue prohibition is a thing anymore. My understanding (which may be incorrect) is that it was brought to a head when a certain professor that the department really wanted was about to get the boot because of an otherwise orthodox Dialogue article, and he eventually retained his job.

    Also, I know a person who applied to BYU who not only had a Dialogue article on his CV but also had a paper on Gay Mormons. He made it through the GA/VP/Dean interviews and neither was brought up.

  14. Kevin Barney says:

    Ardis, in my number 3 I was indeed thinking of the mid-20th century. My last parenthetical was meant to acknowledge that there is now at least a professional standard for access decisions, even if in practice such decisions can remain frustrating. So I guess in part that example is one of encouraging progress. But note that is in the context of history, which is where the most progress (a la the JSPP) seems to have been made.

  15. @SayWhatNow: here’s a link to start with on the DH: https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/the-case-for-the-documentary-hypothesis-historical-criticism-and-the-latter-day-saints/
    I remember being appalled when the RS/Priesthood manual came out on some of the early prophets a few years ago and managed to somehow avoid any mention of their polygamous wives and teachings. They would’ve been horrified to think that we only wanted to learn about their words on honesty or tithing when their entire life and message was spent defending The Principle.

  16. Left Field says:

    If their “entire life and message was spent defending The Principle,” then how is it that they have any words at all on honesty or tithing for us to learn about?

  17. Ardis, I appreciate your viewpoint. It is a good reminder that motivations may be purer than results. While Kevin may have overdrawn the motivations by omitting the one you point out, it is difficult to believe that concealing the truth or controlling the story was not a significant part of the motivation. That difficulty arises as a natural reaction to the well-documented history of the early brethren lying about polygamy, from hiding Joseph Smith’s first version of the first vision (https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V47N02_210.pdf) apparently because it contradicts the canonized version (on a more important point than how many personages he reported seeing), holding the records of the posthumous reinstatement of Amasa Mason Lyman in the First Presidency’s office and not in the archives or in the Church historian’s office (my family-motivated inquiry to Leonard Arrington led him to unearth that record), etc. I think I would conclude that there were likely different motivations for different incidents of controlling the story or even multiple motivations for any single incident, just as there appear to be in most human interactions.

  18. It's Complicated says:

    Cqb, let’s briefly engage your analogy because while it could head off in the direction of a wildly inappropriate tangent if carefully handled it offers an opportunity to explain to the average Saint why instinct matters in the context of Church history.

    “I can’t tell you where exactly life begins in the womb, but I know abortion is wrong.”
    It is bright line statements like this that quickly get us into trouble. Because what is declared here is factually incorrect when it comes to Church policy and unfortunately wraps the question too quickly into a political/religious stance that is overly simplified in a very harmful fashion and leads to bad decision making if that single statement governs decision making by believers and especially by leaders responsible for guiding, counseling and teaching those believers.

    Abortion is a medical procedure that is neutral in character until context is applied. The Church takes a much more nuanced stance on this procedure as you will note from the official statement on abortion:

    http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/official-statement/abortion

    You will note that it calls out that we believe in the sanctity of life and we oppose elective abortion for personal or social convenience. What then follows is a list of circumstances which could be acceptable exceptions to the rule including violence to a woman resulting in pregnancy, situations where the mother’s health is in danger, and when the fetus has severe defects that would not be conducive to survival beyond birth. The closing paragraph then adds further context to these exceptions by further explaining that these are not automatic decisions but should be carefully and prayerfully considered. The text finishes by distancing the Church from specific political stances giving members the room to form their own views on legislation and decision making as far as it fits against the context of the detailed statement of beliefs.

    What you now have with the full context is a broad framework that is not easily turned into a slogan but is a healthy understanding for members to consider how we should perceive abortion as it is applied to various life scenarios and how legislation will support or deter the ability to make those decisions.

    How does this fit against Kevin’s concerns on instinct as to decision making by the Church with regards to history? Let’s take the easy example to keep things simple. How did Joseph translate the Book of Mormon?

    There’s a common belief that he translated the plates using the Urim and Thummim and as a Church we were fairly circumspect in what was taught to the general membership. For many years, prior to broad access to the internet, any mention of seer stones or peep stones and Joseph’s translation work would have been declared by most members as the machinations of anti-Mormon attacks. Why is this?

    Because those in charge had the instinct to pull back from anything that could cast the Church in a bad light or create opportunities to weaken the Saints or give ammunition to our critics. Also likely because many of our leaders did not fully understand the history themselves. The problem with this instinct is that it leaves the weakest of testimonies highly vulnerable to being blasted when truth is presented and seen as something the Church wanted to hide.

    And then in August 2015 the Church goes and publishes pictures of the brown seer stone that Joseph used and writes a lengthy article in the Ensign discussing how much of Joseph’s translation came through peering at the stone in his hat. This created a sense of whiplash for some, a sigh of relief for others, and frustrated muttering for others.

    By Common Consent post by Richard Bushman on the stones
    Washington Post article on the reaction to the Joseph Smith papers update on the stones

    This is the battle between transparency and control of information. As Ardis explains above things are changing. Transparency and access are opening up as we experienced around the topic of translation. Resulting from this is a more complex and nuanced understanding of the evolution of our faith. We recognize that there are elements of beautiful mysticism to our faith and that we have a rich materiality, to use Richard Bushman’s own word. We better understand the truth of all things as a result of being provided richer context. And ultimately that is critical for revelation because how are we supposed to study things out in our minds if we do not have the necessary context to understand what was previously taught.

    Does that mean everything that is true needs to be considered? There is the statement that just because it is true does not mean it is helpful as declared by President Packer and others. The only way forward is to understand that we are a complex religion and that we are led by men and women who struggled with what it means to understand God and that revelation comes line upon line and therefore what we first thought we understood in 1830 might adjust as further revelation is provided and deeper context is gained. That means things can get messy at times. The challenge is to work through the mess while also carefully building faith in young minds.

  19. Tiberius says:

    Also, on a more recent note, Pres. Hinckley more than likely personally squirrelled away one of the Hoffmann documents so that the Church PR people would have plausible deniability about them having it. Once that happened, it’s hard to trust that they wouldn’t impound any potentially damaging documents that they may have.

    That being said, the relative banality of the formerly squirreled away documents that have come to light (the McLellin Journals, the Q50 minutes, etc.), combined with the institutional supersensitivity about such documents, makes me strongly suspect that they’re just being overly sensitive with potential Church fallout, and that there isn’t some Warren Jeffs sex recording-type smoking gun in the First Presidency Vault. Of course, given everything that has become better-well known in the past ten years, the things that are in those documents are relatively quaint; as the OP suggested the sensitivity is a hold over from the past when the Church really could control the narrative.

  20. Brother Sky says:

    It’s complicated FTW.

  21. Kevin Barney says:

    An interesting illustration is Lester Bush, “Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview” published in Dialogue in 1973. Before publication a (very) senior church leader went to great lengths to try to quash it. Its thesis didn’t match the then current understanding of the issue (to the effect that Joseph himself was responsible for the policy of not ordaining blacks to the priesthood). Lester paid a steep price for going ahead with publication anyway, as you can read about in later anniversary retrospective articles (such as in JMH).

    I think the argument can be made that this was the most important scholarly article ever published in a Mormon journal, because it helped to grease the skids for the revelation a little over five years later.

    I would argue over the long haul, with the advantage of hindsight, the Church is far better off today for the publication of that article than it would have been if its publication had been stopped. That instinct to quash it seemed well grounded at the time, but in hindsight it was not in the long term interests of the Church.

  22. Tiberius, not sure which one you’re thinking of but if it’s the one I’m thinking of it was bought by the mission president of Nova Scotia on behalf of the church and was widely publicized. He actually made photocopies and distributed them throughout the mission area.

  23. Cqb,

    So, can we really call it faith if it is based on untruths, half truths, or myths? What the Church has preferred and, as far as I can tell, still prefers is to keep as many members as possible in the dark about the more difficult questions regarding the Church’s history and doctrine. It is a painful thing for me to sit through Gospel Doctrine lessons that keep perpetuating a simplistic and hopelessly incomplete (if not outright inaccurate) view of both history and scripture. I mostly just keep my mouth shut. This is what passes for “faithfulness” in today’s Mormonism. Don’t ask informed questions and do not bring up anything that might be construed as “difficult.” But to get back to my original question, what kind of faith is it that comes from our euphemistically “faithful” scholarship?

  24. Tiberius says:

    @Clark, admittedly I can’t quite recall. It was discussed in Turley’s “Victims” book about the whole matter. Throughout Turley kept quoting President Hinckley’s private journals, but when it came to why Hinckley kept the document he punted and said he didn’t know.

    If the Wikipedia article on Mark Hoffman is accurate on this point, the letter was a “Joseph Smith holograph purporting to confirm that Smith had been treasure hunting and practicing black magic five years after his First Vision.”

    That being said I do feel like it’s easy to fall for the “evil authoritarian institution manipulating honest inquiry” trope when it’s probably rare; the Q50 and other documents I noted are examples of how imaginations tend to run wild with things that are relatively boring. It of course doesn’t help things when the Church does things that tickle people’s imaginations about the First Presidency Vault (like their onerous archival requirements).

  25. Kevin Barney says:

    SayWhatNow, a lot of the problem with the BYU Dialogue policy is that it is completely unwritten unspoken and unpublicized, so it can easily trip up a young scholar (who naturally assumes that publications are good things to have on the CV.)

  26. Kevin–Thanks for an interesting and thought provoking article.

  27. What possible justification could there be for forcing visitors to hand over notes, to be reviewed before they’re allowed to leave? Is that standard practice for archival institutions?
    The only reason I could see would be to double check that someone isn’t walking off with an original document.

  28. There has always been a substantial publishing trade for books critical of the Church, from the very first, long predating the internet. What the internet does is create an inexpensive megaphone for opponents, critics and dissenters and a platform for entryism. while often providing relative anonymity.

    I know vastly more about the private and public lives of LDS leaders and the history of the Church than I know about BCC, its history, its leaders, its finances, and its agendas. I know about as much about the inner workings of BCC as I know about the inner workings of a foreign government. I will forbear making unflattering speculations about its instincts.

    Who, for example, gets to determine who becomes a permablogger and what are the criteria for admittance into this select group? Does BCC want to keep this information under wraps? If not, then spell it out.

  29. Tiberius says:

    I assume for privacy reasons. In the social science world at least it’s not uncommon to have restricted data that is only accessible on-site; you are only allowed to bring pencil and paper, and any sheets you print off are checked by staff to make sure that your cell sizes aren’t small enough to divulge any information about any one individual. (It’s a pain because you have to write your analysis code down on paper and you have to make sure that everything is perfect for publication in only a few visits.) Evil hegemonic conservative institutions aside, I really don’t think the Church archives are being completely disingenuous when they cite privacy concerns. President so and so of the Quorum of whatever probably wouldn’t want everybody knowing about his his son’s sexual habits.

  30. Kristine says:

    Tiberius, the Dialogue prohibition is still very much in effect. Alas.

  31. Leo,
    Why does BCC and it’s leaders, history, finances, and agenda matter in this discussion? Members’ alleged eternal salvation doesn’t depend on their allegiance and fidelity to BCC and their tithing dollars don’t go to it.

  32. Brent Metcalfe says:

    Many of us remember a forger and eventual murderer masquerading as an entrepreneur who exploited the concerns of some LDS hierarchy about nontraditional, uncorrelated narratives of Mormonism’s foundational era. Fewer of us saw this unfold firsthand.

    I applaud the steps toward historical transparency exemplified by the high-octane scholarship of the Joseph Smith Papers Project. I’m also grateful for the reinstatement of my access to the LDS Historical Library after decades of being persona non grata.

    Still, dear friends were interrogated and even excommunicated for the intellectual rigor they applied to their faith. I feel it would be a loss to the collective Mormon memory if they were forgotten.

  33. Amen, Brent. I’m also glad you’re back at the library.

    Leo: “I know vastly more about the private and public lives of LDS leaders and the history of the Church than I know about BCC, its history, its leaders, its finances, and its agendas. I know about as much about the inner workings of BCC as I know about the inner workings of a foreign government. I will forbear making unflattering speculations about its instincts.

    Who, for example, gets to determine who becomes a permablogger and what are the criteria for admittance into this select group? Does BCC want to keep this information under wraps? If not, then spell it out.”

    OK, here’s how it works. If you write something intelligent and good, we would probably ask you to be a guest, and if that works out well and people like you, then we might ask if you’d like to be a permablogger. If, however, you’re a jerk, we’d never ask you to participate.

    Also, BCC takes no money. Read about us on wikipedia. There’s not much to know. Thanks for your forbearance .

  34. @Hendrix
    If BCC wants complete openness and transparency, no surprises, and no rules that are unwritten, unspoken and unpublicized, then it should let us know its rules, policies, personnel, instincts, and agenda. This has nothing to do with tithing or salvation (except insofar as BCC might lead people away from salvation by well-intentioned but counter-productive policies). I am merely asking BCC to live up to the standards it demands of others. It is a matter of consistency, credibility, and ethos. Ethos is one of the classical elements of the credibility of the persuader.

    @Steve Evans
    OK. BCC works like a lot of blogs, thousands of them. I was once a permablogger for a blog advocating for some of the positions of the Democratic Party back in the days of President Bush.

    Still, who determines what is intelligent and good and who is a jerk and on what basis? It appears to be a self-perpetuating group of “we few.” The opinions of the posters seem to lean rather consistently to a liberal position. Nothing wrong with that unless you believe that is the sole repository of what is intelligent and good and those who disagree are jerks. There was a recent post calling for more debate, but the posters all seem to share a particular viewpoint. That can’t be coincidence. Your blog has an editorial viewpoint beyond merely anything that is “intelligent and good.” Please don’t be shy about spelling it out. The blog I posted on back in the day was quite clear about its agenda, and I don’t recall anyone who differed being called a jerk.

  35. Leo, I mean, it’s a blog. Blogs and multi-billion-dollar religious organizations can and should operate according to different rules and policies. If you feel we’re leading you away from salvation, by all means save yourself and stay away.

    Seriously. Meta-criticism of the site is a favorite pastime but if that’s all you bring to the table, you’re invited to withdraw.

  36. In Steve Evans we trust.

  37. Anonymous today says:

    Thank you Kevin Barney.

    Members feeling betrayed is the devastating consequence of leaders instincts to hide church history. I trusted and defended the church vigorously – for decades – to disaffected family members. I was sure the church would never lie to me. That trust was shattered when I learned the truth.

    There is undeniable proof that top leaders hid unfavorable documents, taught church members to teach only faith-promoting stories (actually threatened them with church discipline and/or eternal consequences if they didn’t), and even went so far as to deny (lie outright on camera) that they hid church history. (See Radio Free Mormon Podcasts: ‘The Great Mormon History Coverup’, October 23, 2016; ‘Hiding Church History’, Nov 27, 2016; and ‘Denying Church History’, January 21, 2017)

    The series outlines very precisely how calculated it all was and it sickens me.

    I don’t know if the church is just ignoring all this, hoping it will go away, or if they are stonewalling. Retrenchment, as others have noted, also seems to be their instinct.

    I want to make the church work – but short of the church coming clean, apologizing for the egregious lack of full disclosure, and treating members like the adults they are, I find it extremely difficult to keep the faith or place any confidence in their word going forward.

    The OP, imo, is just the tip of the iceberg to this massive problem. [Further data to bolster my claim: Research by Jana Riess and Benjamin Knoll listed “I did not trust the Church leadership to tell the truth surrounding controversial or historical issues” as the NUMBER ONE reason Mormons leave the church (tied for #1 with “felt judged or misunderstood”).]

  38. The Church’s instincts are correct. Full transparent engagement with the difficult issues would result in a faster falling away than what is already happening. Intellectuals who are able to maintain their complicated testimony are the exception and not the rule.

  39. Kevin Barney says:

    Consider my JST example. I just reread my presentation at the 2015 BYU NT Commentary Conference, assembled by Jack Welch. Folks can view a video of my presentation at the link below. I analyzed every JST revision to 1 Corinthians, and not a single one made any sense as a textual restoration. But they did make sense–a lot of sense–as other things (alternate translations without positing any change in underlying text, reactions to italics, assimilation, harmonization with modern revelation, and midrashic commentary.) I’ve taught this more nuanced approach in SS a couple of times, and it always goes over well. For an unlearned man, Joseph showed a fine sensitivity to the text. People can absorb this easily in a faithful environment. But if we persist in letting everyone assume that every JST change is a textual restoration, and they learn that is not the case from a hostile source, the reaction will be far worse and may indeed be damaging to faith. That is why I believe these kinds of things should be taught in a faithful environment, as opposed to just hoping people don’t stumble onto them themselves. But if we persist in our penchant for hiding the ball, I guess the Church is willing to absorb the risk of bad reactions of the faithful to these kinds of issues.

    http://www.byunewtestamentcommentary.com/conferences/conferencesmay-13-2015-conference/conference-videos/

  40. The JST example works better than other issues. There isn’t as much at stake in terms of how it challenges the overall narrative of the restoration. Most are willing to grant JS authority when it comes to expanding and interpreting. But when it comes to other things like polygamy, BOM and PofGP historicity, the Church is better off, from a strategic point of view, to avoid them, or bury them in places where they are accessible but not advertised. Grappling with complicated and nuanced issues is something intellectuals like to do. Most people are not intellectuals and, for better or worse, they look to church as a refuge from the ambiguities and complexities of the world. I agree with everything you say in terms of the indefensibility of past understandings. I just think most people don’t want to go there, even when they know that there is a “there” there. Dragging the big questions out in SS or the Ensign would have a dampening effect on faith. People would go home from church unsettled and disillusioned, instead of just bored, which is easier to cope with.

  41. David Day says:

    Brent Metcalfe, I’m not old enough to remember personally the events you describe, but I’ve read extensively on the subject. I’ll confess that I don’t exactly what Steve means when he says its good to have you back at the library, but I totally agree that its good to have you back. I like to think that we are now largely past some of what you describe, and hopefully still making progress.

  42. “Most people are not intellectuals and, for better or worse, they look to church as a refuge from the ambiguities and complexities of the world. I agree with everything you say in terms of the indefensibility of past understandings. I just think most people don’t want to go there, even when they know that there is a “there” there.”

    John L, I believe what you say is accurate but, whether you realize it or not, you have just leveled a searing indictment against the church.

    The reason the majority of members wish to cover their ears when they hear these inconvenient truths is because they have been conditioned, for generations, not to question what they are told or what they read in a manual. And should they have the temerity to suggest that perhaps the emperor is not fully clothed, they are accused of fomenting contention, as Angela and Sam Brunson have noted in their recent posts on “Arguing in Church.”

    In reality, what you are saying is that the Church, with its sanitized and distorted accounts of its doctrines and history and its proof-texting of the scriptures, has infantilized generation after generation of church members to the point that they exalt conformity over creativity and have no desire look beyond what they are spoon-fed from the pulpit.

    The real travesty of the church’s disingenuous portrayal of its history and the evolution of its doctrines, and its persistent decontextualization of the scriptures, is not that it has driven some members away. It’s that they have done it for so long that the majority simply do not care. They prefer a soothing fairy tale over the messy truth.

  43. Kevin Barney says:

    There are trade offs with any approach to these types of issues. I personally am a believer in inoculation and believe an openness on these issues can prevent people from being blindsided needlessly. In some areas the PTB seem to agree (Gospel Topics Essays, for example), and in others, not so much. It’s their right to set the course for the Church, and it might well indeed be a rational choice to be willing to accept X number of likely defections to prevent Y number of Saints from being exposed to certain issues. That’s our leaders’ call. But then no one should be surprised or complain about people losing faith when they discover these issues and feel blindsided by them (even if a more proactive approach would have prevented their loss of faith.).

  44. In my case, inoculation merely delayed my exit. Inoculation worked to have me avoid looking deeper into the issues. I wasn’t shocked to find out about polyandry because my mother told me about it when I was 7 or 8. I wasn’t shocked about the counsel of the 50 and the issues there because I had a history teacher in 7th grade that told us all about the skeletons in the mormon closet. In high school, Grant Palmer was my seminary teacher one year and further exposed us to the issues. I wasn’t shocked so I didn’t have the desire to look further. However, when I finally looked and investigated, I discovered there wasn’t any substance to the claimed magic. Maybe this is why the hierarchy is unsettled about inoculation?

  45. I too, have been inoculated years ago through life time subscriptions to Dialogue, Sunstone, “New Mormon History books,” etc. I have thought long and hard over my lifetime about the ambiguities of LDS doctrine and history. After more than 70 years, I still choose to be Mormon, because I love LDS members and would miss them, love and respect many of the doctrines, enjoy the hymns and the help and counsel I received growing up, and the opportunity to serve positions in my local ward. I even feel I have an obligation to pay tithes and contributions. I do not choose to attend temple sessions because I feel my understanding of the church is an outlier which disqualifies me.

  46. Can I just say that if my ward had you as Sunday School teacher and Blake Ostler as EQ Instructor I would gladly attend the entire 3-hour block?

  47. Thank you FarSide. You have described me. A regular female in the Mormon church except that I’m not from Utah. I have always been faithful. I have swallowed my questions. I have embraced the LDS narratives and put aside my questions. I was told NOT to read anything anti-Mormon, with the veiled idea that Sunstone, Dialogue and Richard Bushman were in opposition to the church. So I put them aside. In prayer for the past twenty years I have begged for answers to my many questions. Imagine my surprise when I came across those essays on lds.org. The things that people had tried to tell me for years were actually true. Those essays are contradictory and full of rationalizations but the more telling feature of those essays is the horrible black feeling that engulfed me. And still engulfs me after finally reading so many of the things that were considered anti-Mormon. I was lied to. I was deceived. How can I believe anything anymore?

    The person I was taught to be is in direct contradiction to what the church actually is. Lying and deception are of Satan. So why was this church founded on lies and deception? Why are they still lying? I have four sons, all who have left the church. All who came to me, their mother with troubling questions about Joseph Smith, and I testified to them that they were hearing lies perpetuated by Satan to bring down God’s true gospel. I feel like such a fool. I lost the trust of my children because I was an un-informed idiot, meekly and obediently swallowing everything from the pulpit and passing it along to my kids. But in academia, I encouraged them to be thinkers and to read and study. I guess I shouldn’t have done that because they applied that principle across the board but as teens were too immature to see that there could be some truth behind all the deception.

    Polygamy is evil and wrong. God did not “force” Joseph to take other people’s wives and young daughters. Joseph did it because he WANTED to. A church of God cannot be based on lies and my church seems to be founded on a bed of lies. Is that who God is? I can’t even figure out who or what God is because my faith upbringing has crippled me. Did God really create women just to be commodities for men? Why did all the early prophets lie in public forums? If truth is truth then it doesn’t need to be lied about. If you have to hide it, rationalize it, change it; it isn’t from a God of light and truth. But clearly Mormons don’t believe in a God of truth. We are far too busy trying to excuse all of our lies.

  48. Happy Hubby says:

    Ceci – I too wonder about my children and exactly what to tell them – with the added complexity of being in a mixed-faith marriage. But I just wrote about how I see the whitewashing continuing even today and it takes most of the wind out of my optimistic sails. https://wheatandtares.org/2017/04/19/is-whitewashing-continuing-today/

  49. You might be trading one black-and-white narrative for another, Ceci.

  50. Jimbob I never tried to trade anything. I’ve simply been living and serving and trying to raise children. I didn’t ask to be lied to. How could I be to blame for trusting and believing in my church? Everything I ever wanted now seems beyond reach. I wanted obedient sons that would serve missions. I didn’t ask for my church to misrepresent itself. It’s not a small misunderstanding. JS spent over a decade lying. John Taylor signed a paper in France declaring that Mormons did NOT teach or practice polygamy while he had something like 8 wives! WW lied in a court of a law about polygamy. This was very deliberate. When you lie often enough it becomes part of who you are.

    My trust has been misplaced and misused. My trust was abused by those who denied me the truth and the opportunity to be prepared for questions from my kids. I was denied the opportunity to ask questions and work through this. My trust was manipulated. I went to my Bishop and guess what?? He didn’t even know! No one really knows. I have a HUGE family and NOT ONE person knew the truth. You can’t say anything about the TRUTH at church because everyone thinks you are lying because they were taught from the same dumb manuals that I was. No one at church knows or talks about this stuff. There’s something so wrong and I’m so despondent that the wrongness comes from my church. My leaders. My faith is shattered.

  51. Ceci, my son, when he was about 30, left the church for much the same reason as your boys did: he discovered things about the church on his own that he believed had been deliberately concealed. It wasn’t so much the substance of what h learned that bothered him; rather, it was the fact the church had been disingenuous in what it taught in seminary and Sunday school about Mormon doctrine and history.

    Having said this, I believe jimbob’s caution about swapping one black and white narrative for another has merit. There is a temptation when you feel that you have been deceived by someone to doubt the veracity of everything they have said. Throwing the baby out with the bath water, however, is usually not a good idea.

    I do not pretend to minimize the mistakes the church has made—and continues to make—in its presentation of its history, the evolution of its doctrines, and reliance on scriptural literalism. But sometimes an apparently overt act of deception is, in reality, an honest or incomplete understanding of the topic being presented.

    While I continue to struggle, as you do, with these issues, I try not to lose sight of the benefit I derive my membership in the church. And as I have noted in my comments to other posts on this topic, I find it helpful to paraphrase and apply to the church what Winston Churchill once said about the merits of democracy as a form of government: “For me, the LDS Church is the worst religion on the face of the earth—except for all the rest.” (Please give due emphasis to the words “For me” in that sentence. It is not my intent to disparage any other faith, many of which I hold in very high esteem and believe can teach Mormons a thing or two.)

  52. Farside, yes there are many good things about Mormonism but what parts are from Christ and which parts are man-made? My eyes have been opened. I will never fit into that small box again. My mind is free to ask questions that I’ve always wanted to ask. I gave my trust and it was abused. The culture started by JS of deception appears to still be THE culture of the church. That bothers me. The pure light of Christ is knowledge and yet the church denies members full knowledge. Truth is light and transparency. I have prayed for YEARS to know why polygamy exists and that if it’s a principle that I should accept that I would be able to do that. Never have I had the feeling that polygamy was correct. Not once. Not ever. In fact, my questions just grew. There have been thousands of people praying to understand this wretched principle. I had the distinct feeling that my prayers were acknowledged and this information needed to come forth. I found out way more than I ever wanted to know but I discovered the secret, deceptive beginnings of this horrible practice. Nothing good came of the practice and church history reeks of the evilness of it. I do not believe a loving and just God would ever command polygamy. It is a vile practice that erodes relationships. JS desired other women so he instituted this practice in secrecy. He deceived everyone. He violated his marriage and when Emma complained JS wrote into “scripture” that the Lord would destroy Emma. Strange how the one destroyed was JS not Emma. Emma lived to be 75.

    I wish that my two youngest had not been teenagers when finding out about Joseph Smith. There are things that I wish they had experienced. (One is still in high school) but you never know when those skeletons will pop out of the closet. I wish I had known first, I resent it that they knew and I testified to them that this stuff wasn’t true because that’s what “faithful” members do. . I’m resentful that my kids see me as a dupe. I resent that the church teaches the OPPOSITE of what is true. I resent that I cannot find truth at church. I resent that the church leadership ever felt they had a right to manipulate the truth and therefore manipulate members. Will they now claim that God commanded them to lie to everyone? Just As JS claimed some angel commanded him to enter into extramarital relationships? (Wait a Minute! Aren’t we here to use our agency and not be commanded to do things?)

    Just some of my thoughts. (I have lots more with nowhere to vent!) I get where you are coming from. I don’t want this stuff to be real. I wish I felt the way I used to. I wish I didn’t have so many questions. I want to feel that church is my safe place but I don’t think I’ll ever feel that way again. So many absolutes are no longer absolutes. Sigh.

  53. @Ceci, you say that you have been actively lied to, and you also say that nobody and church knows anything and they never talk about anything. I don’t see it being possible for a subject to never be talked about, and some how you are lied to.

  54. Ceci –

    I just want to say that I get it. What you have experienced is real. It isn’t how everyone experiences the church, but so many people are on / have walked the same path as you that we make a mistake in disparaging your experience or pretending it isn’t real.

    I spend a good many years there and found peace. Like you, sometimes I wish my faith was the way it use to be but there isn’t any going back. There is a going forward. For me, it has been the path of the lone traveler, in the dark, with God as my flashlight (that I regularly forget to turn on).

  55. Ceci, to echo what Retx just said, I understand what you are going through and I wish you nothing but the best. And I want to thank you for being so open about your personal situation and having the courage to voice your frustrations. It resonates.

  56. Jader3rd,
    Were you taught growing up that Joseph Smith married other men’s wives? Were you taught that Joseph had 40 wives? Were you taught that he lied to Emma about those other wives? Were you taught that polygamy was NEVER legal in the US or Mexico? Were you taught that Joseph was in Carthage for breaking the law? (Or as church claims that he was being unfairly persecuted?) Were you taught that Joseph took a wife in 1835 before the speaking powers were restore? Were you taught that the temple originally excluded women? Were you taught that garments orginally signified other participants of polygamy? Were you taught that Joseph used the Secrecy approach with young women he wanted to marry—swearing them to secrecy, especially when it to Emma? Were you taught that the early prophets lied to law enforcement and proclaimed that polygamy was not practiced or taught? Were you taught that Wilfred Woodruff lied to the US senate about polygamy? Were you taught that most polygamous women were ignored and lived in poverty? Were you taught that Brigham Young when divorced by a plural wife, in court stated that since she wasn’t a legal wife he didn’t owe her money—and the court US court agreed with him. Polygamy was against the law. No one–none of them had plural wives, they were all extramarital affairs. I could go on. There’s lots more. I was NEVER taught any of those things at church and when I ask people in my ward or friends, they all get so upset and shocked…..so YES we have all been lied to about church history.

    I read the essays and then read the books listed on the site used to write the essays. None of the materials are considered anti-Mormon. These books were used to write the essays.

    I was taught about honesty. There are many GC talks about honesty. There’s one from Mark E Petersen that says that anyone with intent to deceive is one of Satan’s followers. That I was taught.

    My mother in law is a missionary at the conference center and when I brought up JS being a polygamist (yes with sexual relationships) and he lied to Emma, my MIL burst into tears and told me to stop bad mouthing the prophet. I told her to read lds org. My MIL is super active and always has been. She attends the temple multiple times per week. My FIL has been a bishop several times and they did NOT know this stuff. My own mother who is extremely educated and competent and one of the people I admire most in this world, did NOT know all this stuff. These are life long Uber active people. Everyone knows about Brigham but very few were taught about JS. Or all the lying to US law enforcement, members, spouses, courts…..etc. the presentation of JS is one that compares him to Christ. We worship him. We sing Praise to the Man. The reality of what is taught about JS and the truth are vastly different.

    If you want to know then you should read the reference books used fir the essays on lds org.

  57. Rex,
    Do you still attend church? I have a hard time listening to the false narratives. I can’t believe that the church isn’t more firth coming so that these things can be discussed. I can’t reach an accepting spot until there is transparency. The feeling Kees coming to me “why are they still trying to hide thus stuff?” My mind is going places and discovering new ideas. Polygamy is a form of keeping women where men want them. It’s white males trying to maintain control. Polygamy is not from God. It’s not commanded anywhere in any scripture. the more I read about the lasting atrocities of polygamy and the way those men treated their extramaritals, the more convinced I become that God would NEVER sanction this behavior. It’s evil. It’s destructive. Every single “rule” that JS wrote in section 132 about polygamy, he broke. He didn’t even follow his own guidelines. Btw the original section 101 that was in place for 25+ years said that marriage was between one man and one woman. Joseph wasn’t even following his own scripture. It was a huge manipulation. .
    Women are worth more than the way they have been treated in this church . I deserve better than this idea that it takes 5 or 10 or 57 of me to equal one man. I’m worth more than that. I am entitled to my eternal relationship with my spouse with no other men or women added in. I should not have to live under this cloud of Mormonism that teaches me that my reward for righteousness is that I will no longer have a sacred relationship with my husband, instead I lose my equal partner status and become just a part of a team. That’s a woman’s reward for righteousness? That is not God’s plan. That is man’s plan. It is an evil practice that is not from God. Would a just God punish half of his children this way? is that all the value that women hold in this church? They are replaceable? They are not entitled to the same blessings as Men? We are interchangeable? We have no individual worth? This whole polygamy in the next life….men being rewarded for righteousness with a team of wives is what Islamic religion teaches. It’s a false teaching whoever teaches it.

    Scriptures mingled with the words of men…..we were given the warning. Blind obedience to man is folly. Men get it wrong. We cling to the teachings of A man who got so many things wrong. Christ did not teach polygamy yet we double down on this teaching and insist that JS got it right. I prefer to place my trust in someone who never got it wrong and he never taught this nonsense.

  58. Anonymous Today quotes research which says: ““I did not trust the Church leadership to tell the truth surrounding controversial or historical issues” [was] the NUMBER ONE reason Mormons leave the church (tied for #1 with “felt judged or misunderstood”)”

    And James T. says: “However, when I finally looked and investigated, I discovered there wasn’t any substance to the claimed magic.”

    I don’t know. I mean, I tend to agree with Kevin B on inoculation – it’s one thing to have, or want, a spiritual confirmation but be driven out by the dishonest behavior of leaders, which is what Anonymous is describing, and a horse of an entirely different color to be able to live with that but not to get the witness – or “miss the magic,” if I understand James correctly. I’m still here even though 99+% of the things that drive people out of the Church are things I discovered when I was investigating (in the distant pre-Internet era, I might add). It was a huge surprise to me in the Bloggernacle over the last few years to find that so many members had been ignorant of basic history and criticism that has been extant for more than a century and a half. I don’t expect perfection from leadership, although at times the level of short-sightedness and lack of straightforward honesty disappoints me. I understand it, and like Ardis, tend to assume positive intent. But the reason I stay is because of spiritual experiences that I freely admit are personal and not completely explainable and rational, that convinced me that a 14-year-old boy went out into the woods one morning and saw God, and went on to do a great work. Human disappointments I can deal with – I disappoint myself, frequently. But I am convinced – reluctantly and unwillingly, at first – that there is substance to the magic, and so my lack of trust in Church leadership to tell the truth doesn’t affect my activity.

    That conviction, however, is never going to get me to smile, nod, and stop speaking up when something egregiously stupid is said in Sunday School. It simply isn’t in my character. :)

  59. @Ceci,
    That’s quite the list. Instead of going through each one I think I’ll tell you what I do remember. I do remember as an early teen reading D&C 132 where Joseph Smith teaches about plural marriage and figured that Joseph had multiple wives. After all the revelation was given to Joseph Smith, not Brigham Young. I remember as an early teen going to Nauvoo – this was before Pres. Hinckley had announced the restoration of the temple and it was just a depression in the ground still – and when visiting the different sites, part of what was discussed was all that was happening because of plural marriage. So I guess my brain never put up a wall that all of this was happening without Joseph Smith.
    So, did I know the details of the different plural marriages? No. But it’s not like it wasn’t there, staring me in the face in scriptures that we’d read during Sunday School.
    As for the rest of your list, most of that comes from post pioneer history, and we pretty much never talk about anything, post crossing the plains in church. So the fact that they’re not brought up, doesn’t make me feel lied to. I am bothered by the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church series where only one wife tends to be mentioned, but it’s not a testimony breaker.
    I’ve never been given a list of banned books. As far as guidelines go, I’ve always been taught by the church to read everything, unless the purpose of the book is erotic. How many times do you hear in class “We didn’t have time to go over everything, please go read it yourself.”? How many times are you encouraged to find and read about ancestors or pioneer experiences? I hear it, all of the time. I guess I don’t feel lied to by an organization which is constantly encouraging me to read more, and isn’t limiting what I should be learning.

  60. Ceci –

    I do attend church, although I spent a good 7-8 years white knuckling it. My kick-off issue was prop 8, but I’ve also struggled with pretty much every item you mentioned and don’t go anywhere near the temple because I can’t handle the sexism.

    I’ve had a long journey from the beginning to where I am today, and I’m really happy with where it led me. A couple of things finally brought me to letting go of the anger, etc. The first was 1 Cor 13 (whole chapter, but especially vs 8) where it says that prophecies will fail, knowledge will fail, charity won’t fail. That was a game changer for me. I let go of expecting the church and leadership to not-fail. And with that I began to see all the problems in the church as human failings that are found in every other organization of humans that I belong to. People make short-sighted, bad decisions. Period. I have to deal with it at work, in my hobbies, in our extended family, and church. And then once they’ve made a bad decision they justify it rather than admit the wrong. My problem (admittedly taught to me by the church) was to expect the church to somehow be different.

    I also put some boundaries in place so that I am defining my relationship with the church. I don’t attend the temple. I don’t attend social activities unless joining my spouse/kids (I’m an introvert). I don’t participate in the VT program. I teach (I’m a teacher) how the the spirit guides me rather than following the manual (I just lost a calling because of this for which I feel no distress as I was upfront about how I teach from day 1). I decide what of my life I want to share with other members of the church. I decide what doctrines I believe and go with following the promptings of God before following the leadership. I feel zero obligation to fall in line when asked to do so.

    With all that has come the ability to step back and look more impartially at the church leadership and church history. For the most part, I now see them as overall good people, trying to do the right thing, who pretty regularly see situations all wrong and then proceed to royally screw things up.

    That’s working for me (along with meditation and blogs) really well. Everyone’s journey is different though. I get why others choose to leave the church and am truly happy for those that find peace in other places.

  61. “I have a hard time listening to the false narratives.”

    Additional thought… I too struggle with this. But in doing so what I’ve discovered is that true/false isn’t always a useful distinction in understanding how the human brain processes and uses information/language/stories. “I know Joseph Smith translated the true history of transplanted Israelite from gold plates,” still makes me role my eyes a bit because its too simplistic a statement for me (and thus ‘false’). But that it is simplistic serves a function in a different usage than the one I use. I’m reading Steven Peck’s new book and he does a fabulous job of articulating the many layers of ‘what is true.’

    People and our brains and our language are too complex even for ourselves.

  62. Jader3rd, that stuff is NOT in the scriptures or any church manuals. Come on. You know that. I grew up with loving parents and I believed them! I believed my teachers in primary and YW. Isn’t that the reason for those institutions? I believed that JS was what the church manuals said: that little trusting boy that had leg surgery at 7 and refused alcohol (ironic now since now I know that JS did drink regularly and chewed tobacco.) and his worst sin was levity! I TAUGHT those lessons. I know what they say. I never knew there was more because all church material had excluded anything not faith promoting. I didn’t know that church leaders had created a utopia that wasn’t real. I didn’t look because I Believed! When hearing about polygamy as a teen (I’m not from Utah) I questioned everyone about how this could be…..but as you know, there’s no answers concerning that topic. Despite people claiming that they’ve always known, i have yet to find one of my family members or ward members or friends that ACTUALLY knew the real deal with JS. If they knew they were silenced. This information was not mainstream.

    Retx,
    You are amazing and a realist. You have strong power because you don’t deny the problems. Being released as a teacher because you didn’t (GASP) follow that correlated manual written to convince us all that everything is perfect!! I’m going to read that Steven Peck book. Thanks for the recommendation. Everything you say makes sense. I’m glad you were able to come to some peace with all these issues. Maybe I will be able to? Although I have a hard time with manipulation and lies. The actual damage comes from the deceit not the content. And I understand we all imperfect but a person acting in the name of Christ should have integrity and be forthcoming and humble enough to admit mistakes and work hard to make up for the wrong that they have done. That is NOT JS.

    A couple of years before I found out this information I had a personal experience where I was lied to, in a BIG way. I trusted these people and when I sensed things weren’t right I asked question after question and was given weird answers. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I knew something was wrong so I started on a journey that would take 3 years in discovering the truth and trying to fix the problem. It was a nightmare but I learned the power of a con man. The power of someone who manipulates a situation to their benefit. I have felt time and again that the timing was not an accident. Fraud/deception/misrepresentation hurts people. It’s wrong. I don’t care who it is.