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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:36 pm 
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Maksutov wrote:
Why did Mormonism grow so big? Because it was an integral part of a colonial movement that became rooted and unusually powerful in the absence of countervailing powers in the Western USA. Logistics, politics and economics, not supernatural phenomena, account for this.


OK. I agree. The isolation in the American West did a lot to help the religion expand.

On another point: Was anyone here arguing that supernatural phenomena were responsible?

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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:36 pm 
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Maksutov wrote:
Why did Mormonism grow so big? Because it was an integral part of a colonial movement that became rooted and unusually powerful in the absence of countervailing powers in the Western USA. Logistics, politics and economics, not supernatural phenomena, account for this.


Couple that with early bait n' switch missionary efforts to Europe and you pretty much nailed it, Mak.

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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:12 pm 
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Kishkumen wrote:
Maksutov wrote:
Why did Mormonism grow so big? Because it was an integral part of a colonial movement that became rooted and unusually powerful in the absence of countervailing powers in the Western USA. Logistics, politics and economics, not supernatural phenomena, account for this.


OK. I agree. The isolation in the American West did a lot to help the religion expand.

On another point: Was anyone here arguing that supernatural phenomena were responsible?


No one in this nest of apostate vipers. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:59 pm 
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Kishkumen wrote:
Physics Guy wrote:
Mormonism is a remote outlier on the Christian scatter plot. The JWs are also an outlier, but they merely interpret the Bible differently from everyone else. Not even the Jehovah's Witnesses have gone as far as creating whole new Scriptures in which a figure named "Jesus Christ" appears, quotes the New Testament verbatim, and then goes wildly out of character. Or declaring that various New Testament figures appeared in the flesh to authorize their founder.

What other religious movements would you say have a relationship with Christianity whose bogosity equals that of Mormonism? What more would a religion have to do for you, beyond what Mormonism has done, to have a uniquely bogus relationship with Christianity?


I would say JWs and Unitarians. Neither one is Trinitarian. Unitarian Universalists are barely even Christian in any recognizable sense. The JWs are stranger than you let on, with their idiosyncratic, poorly regarded translation of the Bible, popularly known as "The Green Dragon."

This is what I find ironic. You argue for the strangeness of JWs, but you have defined Mormons as a "moral, clean-cut, Sunday going church" group. You seem to be advocating for a normalcy that is simply not there, while applying a different standard to other groups.
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For those who are more casual and pragmatic in their church needs, Mormonism seems at first glance to be a wholesome church and a reasonable option. Lots of people who have joined did not care that much about “the one true church” or “primitive Christianity.” They wanted a decent church and a nice, friendly community. The fact that Mormons appeared to tick the box of Christian surely helped them feel OK about joining.

I don’t believe that we at MormonDiscussions.com represent that view well at all.

I would hope so, especially since some of us (well, me, as I don't want to speak for others) at MormonDiscussions.com feel that view is not true. One could make the same argument for JWs, "at first glance."


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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:10 pm 
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Kishkumen wrote:
Lemmie wrote:
And I would say that you are so familiar with Mormonism that you don't realize parts of it stand out as being every bit as weird as wooden buttons and buggy wheels. :cool:


Sure.
:rolleyes:

I think you missed my point, but ok, sure.
:rolleyes:


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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 7:54 am 
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Lemmie wrote:
This is what I find ironic. You argue for the strangeness of JWs, but you have defined Mormons as a "moral, clean-cut, Sunday going church" group. You seem to be advocating for a normalcy that is simply not there, while applying a different standard to other groups.


You are making up a contradiction that does not exist. I think the JWs and Mormons are quite alike in a number of ways and are also treated very similarly by other Christians. The double standard you are seeing is not really one in which I see JWs differently from Mormons. To the contrary. I think they are similarly wholesome appearing and similarly weird. They are, indeed, similarly "othered" by the larger Christian community. The fierce polemics against them are part of that othering process.


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I would hope so, especially since some of us (well, me, as I don't want to speak for others) at MormonDiscussions.com feel that view is not true. One could make the same argument for JWs, "at first glance."


If you could be more specific about what you are referring to as "that view," that would be helpful to me. And your comments about JWs wrongly attribute a dichotomy to me that I do not hold to.

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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:24 am 
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Kishkumen wrote:
Lemmie wrote:
This is what I find ironic. You argue for the strangeness of JWs, but you have defined Mormons as a "moral, clean-cut, Sunday going church" group. You seem to be advocating for a normalcy that is simply not there, while applying a different standard to other groups.


You are making up a contradiction that does not exist. I think the JWs and Mormons are quite alike in a number of ways and are also treated very similarly by other Christians. The double standard you are seeing is not really one in which I see JWs differently from Mormons. To the contrary. I think they are similarly wholesome appearing and similarly weird. They are, indeed, similarly "othered" by the larger Christian community. The fierce polemics against them are part of that othering process.

Actually, I am not making up a contradiction, you are making a new statement now that you see them as similarly wholesome, when you've only talked about how different Mormons are from groups like that throughout this thread, and in the post I was commenting on, you specifically argued for the strangeness of JWs. I would never have thought that you considered JWs as wholesome appearing as Mormons, so thanks for the clarification as reading minds isn't possible.


lemmie wrote:
I would hope so, especially since some of us (well, me, as I don't want to speak for others) at MormonDiscussions.com feel that view is not true. One could make the same argument for JWs, "at first glance."

kish wrote:

If you could be more specific about what you are referring to as "that view," that would be helpful to me. And your comments about JWs wrongly attribute a dichotomy to me that I do not hold to.

? I was responding to "that view" as YOU used the term, and as I quoted you, directly above my use of "that view":
kish wrote:
For those who are more casual and pragmatic in their church needs, Mormonism seems at first glance to be a wholesome church and a reasonable option. Lots of people who have joined did not care that much about “the one true church” or “primitive Christianity.” They wanted a decent church and a nice, friendly community. The fact that Mormons appeared to tick the box of Christian surely helped them feel OK about joining.

I don’t believe that we at MormonDiscussions.com represent that view well at all.

Since you've corrected my impression of your opinion of JWs, I retract that last part of my statement about "that view".

:


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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:52 pm 
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Lemmie wrote:
Actually, I am not making up a contradiction, you are making a new statement now that you see them as similarly wholesome, when you've only talked about how different Mormons are from groups like that throughout this thread, and in the post I was commenting on, you specifically argued for the strangeness of JWs. I would never have thought that you considered JWs as wholesome appearing as Mormons, so thanks for the clarification as reading minds isn't possible.


I am glad we are understanding each other better now.

Here are some statements from this thread that tend to show I am not trying to make the JWs out to be especially weirder than the Mormons:

Quote:
Listen to Dehlin's recent interviews of the ex-JW who explains the period in which esotericism was washed out of the JWs. It had been the case that the pyramids were important to their calculation of End Times prophecy at one point.


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I think JWs have an edge over Scientology among the vast majority of people who have a very basic level of Biblical literacy. In some ways, JWs are much more plausible than Mormonism and they have a much better system for guiding people to conversion.


Quote:
In fact, I mentioned the JWs above as being even closer and hence more threatening to Christians than Mormons.


Now, in other places I discuss things that may make them appear weird, but not really weirder than Mormons, just weird in a way that is similar to Mormon weirdness. Not the same, mind you, but similar.

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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 4:19 pm 
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Kishkumen wrote:
I am glad we are understanding each other better now.

Here are some statements from this thread that tend to show I am not trying to make the JWs out to be especially weirder than the Mormons:


Thank you, it's a long thread so I appreciate you pulling those out for me. So among the outliers ( JWs included!), Mormonism grew considerably, and I wanted to go back to Maks' point on that:

Maksutov wrote:
Why did Mormonism grow so big? Because it was an integral part of a colonial movement that became rooted and unusually powerful in the absence of countervailing powers in the Western USA. Logistics, politics and economics, not supernatural phenomena, account for this.

And that colonial movement spread prodigiously, sending believing and often polygamous families into what would become the states surrounding Utah, founding, colonizing and governing town after town. I had no idea how widespread this was until my father started sending me family histories, his newest hobby. Every story details the beginnings of at least one or two towns founded by incredibly hard-working and devoted Mormons.


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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:18 am 
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Kishkumen wrote:
Physics Guy wrote:
What other religious movements would you say have a relationship with Christianity whose bogosity equals that of Mormonism?


I would say JWs and Unitarians. Neither one is Trinitarian. Unitarian Universalists are barely even Christian in any recognizable sense. The JWs are stranger than you let on, with their idiosyncratic, poorly regarded translation of the Bible, popularly known as "The Green Dragon."


If we really get to disputing the meaning of "bogosity" then the discussion will have become too subjective to be worthwhile. At least for me, however, the issue in this thread was not just whether Mormonism was different from any other religious movements, but whether it appeared fake, made-up, or bogus.

In taking different interpretations of the Bible and other Christian traditions, the Unitarians and the JWs seem to me to be differing from other Christian denominations in the same basic way that they all differ from each other, just to greater degrees. The degrees are indeed great—I'd agree that UUs are barely Christian and JWs are strange. As far as I can see, though, it's really only Mormonism that adds a whole bunch of new, 19th-century scripture and tradition that emphatically claims to feature the same Jewish heritage, and the same Jesus Christ, as traditional Christianity.

Other religious movements, like Christian Science and Seventh Day Adventism, have certainly claimed to have new modern scriptures; but the ones that I know have not tried to pretend that the new bits weren't new. The Mormon claim that new things are actually old things seems uniquely bogus. It's obviously not true, and yet the pretense is too elaborate for an honest mistake. Smith didn't just claim to have been inspired with some new ideas. He claimed to be translating golden plates in reformed Egyptian using Urim and Thummim—and those claims seem to still be maintained as important by most Mormons today.

Perhaps that's the main reason it all seems so fake. The bogus thing about the Restoration is the Restoration.


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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:41 am 
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Great analysis Physics Guy, and thank you Rev for keeping on him to answer.

Your first filter = social norms (quite consistent with heuristic-based decision making per Interpreter)
second filter = Trilemma: lunatic, liar or lord, with "liar" assumed to be the more obvious of the bad alternatives as "made up".

While I broadly agreed with Exile's initial point that on DCP's request to use heuristic's, that Mormonism will probably loose, I didn't realize how terribly bad until now. He put two bullets squarely within his own foot considering nobody has argued more emphatically to apply the trilemma to Joseph Smith than he. A heuristic approach + trilemma = certain death for Joseph Smith.

this part stood out in PG's analysis: out of all the crazy claims out there, few have sealed off the alternative to "lunatic" with greater precision than Joseph Smith, if we believe the trilemma holds.

Even Vogel says "pious fraud" -- while that might soften the blow morally, it doesn't help with credibility.

The ways out seem to be dispute liar is more obvious than lunatic, dispute the trilemma, or dispute filter 1. I have a hard time seeing an effective argument here, assuming DCPs framework of heuristics in Interpreter plus his trilemma insistence elsewhere are correct.

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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:37 pm 
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Physics Guy wrote:
If we really get to disputing the meaning of "bogosity" then the discussion will have become too subjective to be worthwhile. At least for me, however, the issue in this thread was not just whether Mormonism was different from any other religious movements, but whether it appeared fake, made-up, or bogus.

In taking different interpretations of the Bible and other Christian traditions, the Unitarians and the JWs seem to me to be differing from other Christian denominations in the same basic way that they all differ from each other, just to greater degrees. The degrees are indeed great—I'd agree that UUs are barely Christian and JWs are strange. As far as I can see, though, it's really only Mormonism that adds a whole bunch of new, 19th-century scripture and tradition that emphatically claims to feature the same Jewish heritage, and the same Jesus Christ, as traditional Christianity.

Other religious movements, like Christian Science and Seventh Day Adventism, have certainly claimed to have new modern scriptures; but the ones that I know have not tried to pretend that the new bits weren't new. The Mormon claim that new things are actually old things seems uniquely bogus. It's obviously not true, and yet the pretense is too elaborate for an honest mistake. Smith didn't just claim to have been inspired with some new ideas. He claimed to be translating golden plates in reformed Egyptian using Urim and Thummim—and those claims seem to still be maintained as important by most Mormons today.

Perhaps that's the main reason it all seems so fake. The bogus thing about the Restoration is the Restoration.


Of course, I had already stipulated that JWs have the advantage over Mormons. I don't think that UUs are really even in the running any longer, and it is not a mistake that they do not draw much attention from anti-cult ministries. Why bother?

But let's get back to Scientology vs. Mormonism. Scientology claims to have a very ancient tradition that has nothing to do with the Bible at all. It is one thing to say that Jews found their way to America, something that there might be a very slight chance of being true, but it is another thing to say that Xenu used jetliners to drop people in volcanoes millions of years ago, thereby creating thetans. The latter reads like obvious science fiction. Not a good UFO abduction story, but something completely out of the realm of a readily identifiable non-fictional cultural context.

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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:42 pm 
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Gadianton wrote:
Your first filter = social norms (quite consistent with heuristic-based decision making per Interpreter)
second filter = Trilemma: lunatic, liar or lord, with "liar" assumed to be the more obvious of the bad alternatives as "made up."


So, the trilemma is ____. I don't agree with that at all. There is also an ancient tradition of revelation/sacred text production in which people believe they have received messages from the past or framed their message in an ancient context. The Bible is chock full of these, many oracles and prophecies from antiquity are, and these things continue to be produced.

I think it is lazy to rely on a construct that only allows for three options where this is concerned. Is every author of an oracle, revelation, or sacred text set in an ancient context insane, lying, or in touch with the divine?

How would we know? If we can't know, what good does it do to impugn people we can't rigorously evaluate?

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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:11 pm 
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About Scientology: the OTIII story is at least as obviously made up as anything in Mormonism. But Scientology doesn't stand or fall on Xenu the way that Mormonism seems to stand or fall on the Book of Mormon. The last thing Scientologists are going to do is challenge anyone to read about Xenu. It's a heavily (though ineffectively) guarded secret that most Scientologists have never heard from inside their religion.

There also seems to be a substantial thread in Scientology of ignoring the literal accuracy of "whole track" stories and just focusing on whether the stories seem to "blow charge". When ex-Scientologists who had reached OTIII tell about the experience, most of them emphasize that they didn't take it seriously even at the time—but some of them nonetheless claim to have found it "effective" or something.

Back to Mormonism: the problem I have with Smith being sincere is that his pretenses of restoring ancient doctrine and practices were just too elaborate. He didn't merely claim to have channeled an ancient prophet or something. He concocted gimmick plates and printed out witness statements; he wrote a big long book in bogus Bible-ese; he stuck hard to the story that it was all translated. He didn't just put 19th-century words into the mouths of ancient prophets: he went far out of his way to do that, and to an enormous amount of effort.

He worked harder on his frame than he did on his canvas. There was just way too much fraud involved, and too little pious, for it all to be a pious fraud.


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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:24 pm 
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Physics Guy wrote:
Back to Mormonism: the problem I have with Smith being sincere is that his pretenses of restoring ancient doctrine and practices were just too elaborate. He didn't merely claim to have channeled an ancient prophet or something. He concocted gimmick plates and printed out witness statements; he wrote a big long book in bogus Bible-ese; he stuck hard to the story that it was all translated. He didn't just put 19th-century words into the mouths of ancient prophets: he went far out of his way to do that, and to an enormous amount of effort.

He worked harder on his frame than he did on his canvas. There was just way too much fraud involved, and too little pious, for it all to be a pious fraud.


You know, there is another alternative. :wink:

Your list of sacrifices and trials Joseph Smith experienced is the tip of the iceberg. I suppose people will always be asking why he persevered through it all. Granted, there are the old standbys...wealth, power, women, etc. Some might ask, however, if there was something else that drove him. He seems to think there was..even up to his death.

He was definitely an enigma.

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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:35 pm 
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mentalgymnast wrote:
Some might ask, however, if there was something else that drove him. He seems to think there was..even up to his death.


It's pretty clear from studying Joseph's history (from his treasure digging, perpetuating a massive fraud with the Kirtland Saftey Society, polygamy, etc.) that Joseph's motives were pretty clear - sex, power and money.


mentalgymnast wrote:
He was definitely an enigma.


Not really. Joseph was driven by the same desires and motives as thousands of other cult leaders -- sex, power and money.

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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:35 pm 
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Physics Guy wrote:
About Scientology: the OTIII story is at least as obviously made up as anything in Mormonism. But Scientology doesn't stand or fall on Xenu the way that Mormonism seems to stand or fall on the Book of Mormon. The last thing Scientologists are going to do is challenge anyone to read about Xenu. It's a heavily (though ineffectively) guarded secret that most Scientologists have never heard from inside their religion.


I disagree. The OTIII story is a lot more obviously made up than the Book of Mormon. First of all, it was written by a science fiction author who was already established as a science fiction writer. How much more obvious can it get? The Book of Mormon does not withstand scrutiny, but the basic premise--that Hebrews may have migrated to America in antiquity--is not, on its face, utterly implausible.

And, to be clear, the thetans are on the public Scientology website. So, I am to understand that the explanation for the origin of the thetans that are a very public part of Scientology's message can have a ridiculous origin story and this makes no difference? Uh, no.

Physics Guy wrote:
There also seems to be a substantial thread in Scientology of ignoring the literal accuracy of "whole track" stories and just focusing on whether the stories seem to "blow charge". When ex-Scientologists who had reached OTIII tell about the experience, most of them emphasize that they didn't take it seriously even at the time—but some of them nonetheless claim to have found it "effective" or something.


There are also progressive Mormons.

Physics Guy wrote:
Back to Mormonism: the problem I have with Smith being sincere is that his pretenses of restoring ancient doctrine and practices were just too elaborate. He didn't merely claim to have channeled an ancient prophet or something. He concocted gimmick plates and printed out witness statements; he wrote a big long book in bogus Bible-ese; he stuck hard to the story that it was all translated. He didn't just put 19th-century words into the mouths of ancient prophets: he went far out of his way to do that, and to an enormous amount of effort.

He worked harder on his frame than he did on his canvas. There was just way too much fraud involved, and too little pious, for it all to be a pious fraud.


Yes, that is the common, prejudicial way of framing the issue. Another way of understanding it, which is perfectly rational and in line with a more "Religious Studies" view, is that he was doing what other religious founders of the past did. There is a long history of such people doing what Smith did, and you can find evidence of similar things in many traditions, including the Biblical tradition.

The degree to which Smith stands out from the pack on this is, in my view, coextensive with widespread illiteracy regarding religion and the predominance of post-Protestant assumptions. The better you understand religion, the less unusual Smith looks. The more beholden one is to popular post-Protestant assumptions, the more prejudiced one is against Mormonism.

That said, I can't gainsay the fact that you are among a large group of people who see this as fraud. That is an ancient tradition too. We can read it in Lucian's account of Alexander the False Prophet, written in the second century AD. There have always been such religious founders and they have had their critics.

Still, I think the case for Scientology is more difficult to make, and that its basically plausibility suffers as a result.

Of Joseph Smith it cannot be said that he opined, "You don't get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, start a religion."

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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:52 pm 
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It's pretty clear from studying Joseph's history (from his treasure digging, perpetuating a massive fraud with the Kirtland Saftey Society, polygamy, etc.) that Joseph's motives were pretty clear - sex, power and money.


mentalgymnast wrote:
He was definitely an enigma.


Not really. Joseph was driven by the same desires and motives as thousands of other cult leaders -- sex, power and money.


And we no longer have to waste our money finding all this "gossip and lies" about Joseph Smith in any anti-Mormon source these days. We have it all and fully expounded from the Joseph Smith Papers....

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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:37 am 
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The OTIII Xenu story is not the origin of thetans in Scientology. "Thetan" is simply Hubbard's neologism for "soul". The claim that human beings are really immortal thetans, who are just currently stuck in their bodies, is indeed something Scientology pushes openly on the public.

The Xenu story is the origin of "body thetans", which are ancient souls that have forgotten that they are supposed to be independent spirits and are instead infesting various points around your body. Body thetans are Hubbard's answer to what to do next after you've attained the promised state of Clear but still aren't happy. You're Clear when you've gotten rid of your own "reactive mind", but you still have all these other thetans on your body, see? Gotta get rid of them, too.

The Xenu story is carefully concealed. It's literally supposed to give you pneumonia if you read it without being ready. Body thetans are never mentioned until you hit OTIII, which takes years to attain—and lots of dollars in auditing fees. And of course all of that is incredibly hokey, and obviously just the gibberings of a pulp writer falling back on the only thing he actually knew. It really isn't what Scientology offers to the public, though. The public pitch is using this highly efficient, machine-assisted talk therapy to rid yourself of inefficient instincts that are holding you back in life. That's nowhere near as obviously made-up as Xenu. It's nowhere near as obviously made-up as the Book of Mormon.

As to Joseph Smith's antics being just like those of every religious founder: I dunno. As long as you keep it vague I'm sure you can lump him into broad categories of people who stretched things, but really, when you come down to detail, are there any other actual cases of such extensive pretense of authenticity? His stack of lead plates or whatever it was didn't innocently emerge as a myth from collective experience.

I don't profess to be an expert on new religious movements, but I've been an interested amateur for quite a few years. There are certainly other people in the running with Smith. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, for instance, with her pages drifting down from the ceiling and her plagiarized book. For examples of fakery as extensive as Smith's that are the sole basis of a movement, however, I have to look at a handful of psychics and UFO gurus, all with small followings. I can't think of anything else big enough to count as a religion the way Mormonism does.


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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 1:47 pm 
Deacon
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Physics Guy wrote:
I don't profess to be an expert on new religious movements, but I've been an interested amateur for quite a few years. There are certainly other people in the running with Smith. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, for instance, with her pages drifting down from the ceiling and her plagiarized book. For examples of fakery as extensive as Smith's that are the sole basis of a movement, however, I have to look at a handful of psychics and UFO gurus, all with small followings. I can't think of anything else big enough to count as a religion the way Mormonism does.


Bahá'í.


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 Post subject: Re: New Interpreter Article a flop: Don't bother reading it
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:30 pm 
God
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Very interesting discussion!.

I do not find the Xenu story any more ridiculous than Kolob.

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What Joseph Smith should have said: "No man knows my hagiography."
What Jane Manning did say: "I am white except for the color of my skin."


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