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 Post subject: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:25 am 
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https://www.plonialmonimormon.com/2019/ ... gress.html

Smoot recently published an allegory, or mashup of what he claims to be real world ex-Mormon exit narratives.

The post itself is problematic on a number of levels. Then, the damage is exponentially compounded through his responses to the comments section.

The content of this post and comments is a masterful case study in victim blaming and re-traumatizing individuals in pain.

What is your goal here Stephen?

Is your ego really so threatened by the existence of exmormon reddit, Bill Reel’s podcasts, and the CES Letter that you need to insult people who would look into those resources?

Or are you, immaturely, projecting a larger doubt, that sincere truth seekers can and do opt to leave the church for the very reason that they value integrity and honesty?

If a person does find Bill Reel’s years of podcasts to be a helpful resource, why do you feel the need to derisively label that person “a disciple of Bill Reel?” We can both disagree with some of Bill’s arguments without villainizing him or those who appreciate his approach to study and inquiry.

If a person is disturbed by the CES Letter, and subsequently struggles with faith and how to participate in the church while sorting those struggles, does that necessarily mean that person is shallow, deceptive, and unwilling to study writings of apologetic authors and FAIRMormon? No, it doesn’t, as your allegory strongly suggests. In fact, many DO make at least an equal study of those sources, and come away more confused and less convinced that the church has a truthful narrative underpinning the doctrines of the restoration. How mean spirited do you have to be not to see that or allow for it in your own writings?

If a person finds some solace in exmormon reddit, however temporary or shallow, who cares? The pain is real. The anger is real. The feeling of despair and confusion is real. Would you rob others of a resource to vent that with others who are feeling the same feelings? Why does the existence of exmormon reddit give you perpetual license to inflict harmful shame on others?

Also, how is it irrelevant what people feel after reading FAIRMormon? Last time I checked, the entire foundation of the church is based on each person experiencing spiritual feelings as they study. If FAIR isn’t helping folks to consistently feel the spirit, perhaps something is wrong with the approach or the material.

You’re a public figure Stephen. Good people are asking you to walk a mile with them. How about walking two, rather than giving folks a kick in the a$$ instead. Unless you enjoy kicking people when they’re down. It appears you do.

Your online behavior at the blog linked above is textbook victim blaming, mean spirited bullying and entirely antithetical to the teachings of the master you claim to defend. Ironically, it belies your own doubts and disbelief.


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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:02 pm 
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Wow Dr. Moore! This is a fascinating comments post. I will take a look at Stephen's article tonight after work. What you say appears to be spot on based on other comments Smoot has made in the past.

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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:15 pm 
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Thanks for getting me to read that nonsense.

Sadly there are plenty of people who leave the faith who have read all the authors he attributes to Jim's dada as reading. I agree with him, if he's trying to suggest as much anyway, it has far less to do with who has read the most and far more to do with the conclusions people have drawn. I noticed in his efforts he dismisses any certain criticisms and instead tries to paint a picture that all concerns and criticisms are dealt with, as if anyone who disagrees with him have given it a lesser effort. Kind of a lame us vs them type of scenario.

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If a person finds some solace in exmormon reddit, however temporary or shallow, who cares? The pain is real. The anger is real. The feeling of despair and confusion is real. Would you rob others of a resource to vent that with others who are feeling the same feelings? Why does the existence of exmormon reddit give you perpetual license to inflict harmful shame on others?


Not to give him credit nor a pass, but I think that's part of his point, isn't it? he's trying to say that exmormon reddit is so bad that it's giving "each other perpetual license to inflict harmful shame on others".

I think his analogy falls apart on it's simplicity. Seeing so many families and friends parting ways because of the effects of faith transition/crises I don't know that remaining believers are all at fault. There's efforts to inflict shame going both ways.

I hate to say it because I'm squarely on the outside looking in these days and want my side to look good....but it's ugly stuff.

I don't say this to validate his stupid analogy though. I think he's causing the problem as much as the exmormon reddit regular who mocks his/her grandma for her belief.


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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:20 pm 
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On the one hand, I can understand how hard it is to feel compassion for those who mock and ridicule the beliefs that one holds sacred. On the other, that’s when compassion is most needed. Smoot strikes me as a troubled soul.

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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:44 pm 
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From the comments:
Quote:
Mark Steele
August 27, 2019 at 1:27 pm | Reply


It was striking how you equated your blog post with the reddit exmormon site. (You will stop writing stuff like this when it ceases to exist.) I found your comparison apt, since I found the same spirit or attitude prevalent in both. Becoming a mirror image of them is possibly not what you were hoping for.


This was fascinating. I don’t know any adult I interact with who doesn’t view the exmormon subreddit as the ill-behaved kid sibling of more thoughtful subreddits, where substantial conversations take place. It’s funny and fun, but it is also obviously a place to act out and cut up, and get some aggressions worked through. No one takes it seriously. Except, apparently, for Smoot, who seems to be at a similar maturity level.

Smoot is tilting at some imagined windmill defined exclusively as coming from this intentionally snarky, obviously immature subreddit where posts involving acting out and relieving pain through outrageousness are the order of the day. Why? Does he see that type of behavior as the counterpart to his approach?

When he grows up, there are better comparisons to make.


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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:47 pm 
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Well said Lemmie!


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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:56 pm 
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Stephen “Woke as ____” Smoot ripping off A Pilgrim’s Progress. Cool.

- Doc

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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:12 pm 
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Smoot responds:

Quote:
I’ll stop writing these articles when r/exmormon stops existing.

Yah...apparently he just wants to be upset and get back at r/exmormon reddit people who has upset him. don't think it worked. I think he just upset other people who expected more from him.


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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:18 pm 
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Does anyone think Smoot might be doing this to impress the Midge, a man who recently disparaged Smoot's sexuality? Midge loves in your face attack Mormonism and young Smoot is giving it to him.

http://www.mormondiscussions.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?t=51534

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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:37 pm 
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First time reading The Pilgrim’s Progress, fascinating.

The parallels to Lehi’s dream practically scream from the pages.

“Dreamed a dream”
Host holding a book
“Forbidden paths”
“The way”
People in building calling to stop moving forward
Field
Reward of celestial / life eternal at the top of the hill
Dream interpreter at length, piece by piece

Many more themes and key phrases from Lehi’s dream and Nephi’s interpretation

Wow.

Surely someone has written on this already...???


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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:56 pm 
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Dr Moore wrote:
First time reading The Pilgrim’s Progress, fascinating.

The parallels to Lehi’s dream practically scream from the pages.

“Dreamed a dream”
Host holding a book
“Forbidden paths”
“The way”
People in building calling to stop moving forward
Field
Reward of celestial / life eternal at the top of the hill
Dream interpreter at length, piece by piece

Many more themes and key phrases from Lehi’s dream and Nephi’s interpretation

Wow.

Surely someone has written on this already...???


http://mormondiscussions.com/phpBB3/vie ... =1&t=50620

From the OP link in the above thread:
Quote:
Parallels between Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) and the Book of Mormon have not gone entirely unnoticed. As early as 1831, Eber Howe, in his anti-Mormon book Mormonism Unvailed, noted the use of names — “Desolation” and “Bountiful” from Pilgrim’s Progress reappear in the Book of Mormon — but most observations have been similarly limited in scope or suffered from lack of a systematic methodology. Bunyan wrote upwards of 60 books, tracts, and pamphlets, including Grace Abounding, A Few Sighs from Hell, Holy War and The Life and Death of Mr. Badman, and these texts provide extensive narrative parallels to the Book of Mormon, often containing unique characteristics shared only by Bunyan and Smith.


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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:17 pm 
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On the r/Mormon subreddit, a discussion of Smoot and the Interpreter group between moderators:

Quote:
So I guess his audience is just his echo chamber of other apologists who read each other’s work and pat each other on the back?

Quote:
Yes, the Interpreter crew (a group of ousted former FARMs people and hangers on who run their own vanity press now), who are kind of famous for their crude jokes and mean-spirited attacks.

:ugeek:


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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:47 pm 
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Thank you Dr. Moore for bringing this to our attention, it's psychologically fascinating. I hope Mr. Smoot, who only holds a Master's degree (I caught your drift, LOL!) listens to you, a real Ph.D..

Smoot more than anything appears to be attacking Chapel Mormonism:

Quote:
Every Monday night, Sue and Jim would hold Family Home Evening where they would take turns reading their favorite scriptures and then indulge their sweet tooth with root beer floats.


While father's collection of church books sat collecting dust.

One would think, just maybe, that if deep gospel study was the way to protect the Saints, then just maybe Rusty the Tin Man and company would have encouraged such a thing at some point withing the last 30 years, or even now.

My FARMS collection as a teenager is ultimately what did me in. Not everybody is so crippled with rage when contradicted that they dedicate their lives to burying their heads in the sand. The vindictive spirit of FARMS is what resonates with certain people, not the quality of arguments. I got into that a little bit -- not that I had any idea who these people were that Nibley trounced in Tinkling Symbols and Sounding Brass, but I could laugh along with him. It's easy to be impressed when you have no idea whatsoever what real scholarship looks like, or any kind of context to evaluate what you're reading about.

Smoot says his couple were BYU students. If that's the case, they had to take something like 16 credits of religion classes. How is it, Steve, that they were taking institute classes at BYU, and yet totally unprepared for such a silly list of problems? I can answer that one: because I took all those classes and absolutely nothing that would prepare one for the CES letter was ever discussed. Shouldn't BYU know to educate their students properly?

When I went on my mission, my Bishop gently encouraged me to get rid of my FARMS library. He had this practiced story about a friend of his who did just that.

If gospel education worked the way Steve imagines it, sure, those active members who had studied all of these scholarly materials would probably not be fazed by the CES letter, however, since the other 90% who had studied the same materials had apostatized, it's a hollow victory.

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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:39 pm 
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It's interesting to me that Smoot consistency targets the exmo Reddit and the CES Letter, and yet, I (and I'm sure others) would argue that this board has arguably had a greater impact on Mopologetics. Is there some reason why he seems afraid to take us on? I mean, even DCP was exchanging comments with me on FPR recently. C'mon, Steve: we're not scary.

In any event, I laughed out loud at this:

Smoot wrote:
You see, Jim’s father happened to have an extensive collection of books on Mormon history, doctrine, and scripture. Stuff he’d collected over decades of study. Names like Richard Bushman, Leonard Arrington, James Allen, Hugh Nibley, Milton Backman, Davis Bitton, Truman Madsen, John Welch, and John Sorenson were printed on the spines. (Jim vaguely remembered seeing the books on the shelf when he was young, but had never been curious enough to so much as even thumb through any of them.) When Jim tried to red-pill his father with the CES Letter, he wouldn’t have it. He went through it point by point and explained to Jim how these issues had been resolved in his mind, and how the CES Letter was misleading or inaccurate in a number of details. To make matters worse, Jim’s father triggered him by saying he wasn’t as informed on these matters as he perhaps thought he was and asking him if he would take some time to read a website called FairMormon, which, he said, had extensive rebuttals to the claims made in the CES Letter. (Needless to say, Jim was outraged at his father’s gaslighting and complete lack of empathy.)


It has always felt like something of a red herring: "We have rebuttals! We have rebuttals!" This phrase is a classic: "these issues had been resolved in his mind" (emphasis mine). Interesting choice of words there, Bro. Smoot. Not "definitively proven" or "supplied irrefutable evidence"; it's all "in his mind." Of course it is. So much of the Mopologetic material generated by FAIR Mormon is meant as a kind of distraction, and you can understand this when you acknowledge the somewhat weird relationship that the FAIRMormon Mopologists have historically had with the FARMS Mopologists. FAIR is mostly a volunteer organization run by laypeople. "Classic FARMS," though, were "the real deal": credentialed people who actually had PhDs and were "experts" in the field, as it were. So, the only "definitive" material is going to emerge from the keyboards of the FARMS Mopologists: *they* are the ones who determine Mopologetic doctrine. Smoot knows this, obviously, which is why he pursued a graduate education in Egyptology (and why your barb about his "mere" MA is quite apropos, Dean Robbers), and which is why his paragraph about reading FAIR materials is disingenuous. The "Jim's father" character is clearly a caricature: there is no way that the FAIR people legitimately think that the FAIR response to the CES letter is "solid." It may be that way "in their minds," but look: it's very telling that Smoot did not list out any of the "point by point" explanations. If the FAIR response is so convincing, why not quote from it verbatim?

We all know the answer.

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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:40 pm 
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Exiled wrote:
Does anyone think Smoot might be doing this to impress the Midge...


Not directly. Smoot is trying to impress the same guy with his aggression that the Midge is trying to impress with his aggression.

Is it working?

Yes; with qualifications. The guy at the top knows the extremes are embarrassing, which is why he conscientiously (not because he isn't paying attention or doesn't have time, it's well thought out) refrains from upvoting many of these comments. Only Kiwi57 upvotes the worst of the worst, on purpose, to provoke his adversaries, even if he doesn't really believe what he's upvoting. However, comments over the edge and an embarrassment, are still positive, because they show loyalty, which can't be rivaled, and so in a secondary way, these extreme comments are still impressive for the guy at the top.

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FARMS refuted:

"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero


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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:17 pm 
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Quote:
Dr. Scratch said:

It's interesting to me that Smoot consistency targets the exmo Reddit and the CES Letter, and yet, I (and I'm sure others) would argue that this board has arguably had a greater impact on Mopologetics. Is there some reason why he seems afraid to take us on? I mean, even DCP was exchanging comments with me on FPR recently. C'mon, Steve: we're not scary. 

I wonder why he doesn't take this board on, too. I think it would be entertaining to see how young Smoot maneuvers through the many questionable areas in Mormonism. Perhaps he could debate the CES letter here? Grindael is probably more than willing to go through it point by point and perhaps Mr. Runnells would come here as well to discuss his letter? Smoot would be able to show the world his prowess and maybe he'll convince someone to return to the flock?

So, what do you say Mr. Smoot?

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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:07 am 
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I was surprised by young Elder Smoot's description of those left behind in Mormonism:
Quote:
They were emotionally and intellectually crippled by their psychological need for their silly, magical worldview to be true, no matter what. (And this was to say nothing about paid apologists like Tapir Dan.)

I will make the assumption that Tapir Dan is a nickname, sort of like the name "Indiana" for famous anthropology professor Henry Jones, Jr.

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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:25 am 
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Just when I thought I had lost all interest in Mopologetics. . . .

Dean Robbers has offered the most insightful analysis of Smoot’s blog entry. The key to understanding Smoot’s point of view is, I believe, his Denys Turner quote, and once you parse the relationship between this quote and Smoot’s fiction, you will see the deep disdain in which Smoot holds many of his co-religionists (and, sorry to say, ultimately himself).

Quote:
[S]ince narrowly Catholic or Methodist or Anglican atheisms are no more absorbing than narrowly Catholic, Methodist or Anglican theisms, they do not exactly amount to an over-rich diet for the theologian.


Sue and Jim are two-dimensional Mormon caricatures that bear a striking resemblance to real, earnest Mormons we all know and have a fair measure of sympathy and affection for. Indeed, in many ways, they are exemplary Mormons. But Smoot finds them shallow and insipid. They are reddit-reading, Dehlin-loving ex-Mormons waiting to be born (almost inevitably). The truth is that Smoot despises them as active, believing, and dedicated Mormons almost as much as he hates them as ex-Mormon stereotypes.

The only safe harbor in this scenario is to be found in the third narcissistic stereotype known as the faithful Mormon scholar. He is every bit as two dimensional and unsympathetic as his benighted opponents. Once again Doctor Scratch strikes gold in noticing the key words “resolved in his mind.” Smoot here unintentionally reveals his intellectual arrogance. Just as Turner laments how both narrow atheisms and their mirror opposites, narrow theisms, are thin gruel for the “theologian,” the amateur FARMS scholar is unaffected by run-of-the-mill ex-Mo arguments. He has quieted his misgivings with the armor of his intellect and faithful scholarship.

But this all rings terribly hollow. Who here has a deep, solid faith that not only inspires but pulls people through the dark night of the soul? Sue and Jim had a very brittle faith, but it was exactly the faith that the LDS Church advocates. They are easily turned into ex-Mos. Jim’s father is barely holding on to a faith marginally more robust than his now faithless son had recently enjoyed. All he has is the resolve of his intellect as buttressed by the words of faithful LDS scholars, a diet paltry in comparison with the great spiritual classics of the world.

I have to say that this is all unbearably sad and empty. Reading this makes me sorrow for the author and the people whose spiritual suffering he apparently holds in great contempt. Indeed, Smoot’s post is an exercise in holding profound self-contempt at bay by both lavishing in contempt for others and constructing self-serving, narcissistic fantasies.

Be kinder to yourself, Smoot. Chapel Mormons are too decent and worthy of compassion for you to indulge in this. You should be kind to them too. Have sympathy for those who lost their faith! Consider how they got to a place where they could throw all they once cherished into the bin. That must have been painful! Did they get there on their own? Might we not ask where their faith community might have failed them? Or is it the unique challenges of our age? Let’s reflect on these things too! Jim’s dad just isn’t the answer. Not a sufficient one at least. He’s a security blanket at best. If you really care, Steve, do truly better than your opponents. Don’t simply out-snark and out-snide them. I want to see better from you.


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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:58 am 
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After the couple concludes the church is not what is claims to be and is not what they were hoping it to be, they got too scared to read anything that might critique their favorite critique?

So he starts out by describing a couple scared to read anything critical and turns them into people who are scared to read anything critical of the critical. What does he imagine these folks who are leaving are thinking? Does he not realize that if the CES letter poses problems for their faith, that they also likely have known about FAIRMormon's response? As if leavers when confronted aren't trying to find ways to stay by seeking answers to their new found concerns? He doesn't imagine that these faithful people won't at some point say to themselves, "wait a minute...this is anti-Mormon and I should know that there are real answers to these issues...that's what I've been told. So where can I find these answers?"


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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:14 am 
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Exactly, stem. For example, reading In Sacred Loneliness bothered me but didn't undemine my testimony. I believed the Church was what it claimed to be still. So I assumed whatever the explanation was, it was a valid one. It was from reading FARMS responses to the book that I began to think there was a real possibility there were problems.

Ironically, I think my participation on this message board is indirectly the result of bad apologetics which the Rommelator put out related to the first vision on the old MAD board. First Vision issues were among the key problems for me in that it undermined the premise of the restoration. While I was participating in Church despite my questions, a post on another board directed me to something he had put up at MAD that supposedly addressed those issues. I admit, I was still in enough at that point that I felt actual relief at the suggestion there were answers. It has the distinction of being the last time I ever entertained the possibility the Church might still be what it claimed to be. Turned out the Rommelator was relying on bad faith arguments on top of being a jerk. His claim relied on late attestations of saints claiming to have heard the first vision story as early as 1831 while the testimonies stating this dated between the 1850s to the 1900s. Not only did it prove unhelpful, it took away any possibility I held onto that there was something true if obscured in the origin story of the Church.

Bad defense is worse than no defense.

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 Post subject: Re: Stephen Smoot’s Masterclass in Victim Blaming
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:23 am 
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honorentheos wrote:
Exactly, stem. For example, reading In Sacred Loneliness bothered me but didn't undemine my testimony. I believed the Church was what it claimed to be still. So I assumed whatever the explanation was, it was a valid one. It was from reading FARMS responses to the book that I began to think there was a real possibility there were problems.

Ironically, I think my participation on this message board is indirectly the result of bad apologetics which the Rommelator put out related to the first vision on the old MAD board. First Vision issues were among the key problems for me in that it undermined the premise of the restoration. While I was participating in Church despite my questions, a post on another board directed me to something he had put up at MAD that supposedly addressed those issues. I admit, I was still in enough at that point that I felt actual relief at the suggestion there were answers. It has the distinction of being the last time I ever entertained the possibility the Church might still be what it claimed to be. Turned out the Rommelator was relying on bad faith arguments on top of being a jerk. His claim relied on late attestations of saints claiming to have heard the first vision story as early as 1831 while the testimonies stating this dated between the 1850s to the 1900s. Not only did it prove unhelpful, it took away any possibility I held onto that there was something true if obscured in the origin story of the Church.

Bad defense is worse than no defense.


hah...Thanks for that. I remember the name Rommelator. I feel like I"m denser than most people here. I didn't catch on very quickly. But, yes, it's not that someone out there is not answering questions. It's more that the answers are bad. It's not that Fair didn't offer a critique of the CES Letter its that their critique is ineffective, even if they raise a good point or two along the way.


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