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 Post subject: A Scholarly Hand
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 1:47 pm 
Endowed Chair of Historical Innovation
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I found a sticky note, sandwiched between sheaves of old course material, while completing my office move this weekend from the affectionately known "Bunker" basement office at Cassius. I am pleased -- no, giddy, and almost embarrassingly so -- to be operating at full speed on several new research projects from my new home, office 201 of the Historical Sciences Building.

Employed to accommodate the University's meteoric growth, the Bunker offers its lone occupant not one, not two, but three peculiar features. First, it is free of any ventilation, having been designed -- at the height of the cold war -- as a fallout shelter. Second, layered steel and concrete walls on all sides, five feet thick, attenuate campus wifi completely and prevent drilling for modern CAT6 wiring. As a result, a single twisted copper pair of telephone wiring, courtesy of the manufacturer's communication continuity feature foresight, comprises the Bunker's only means of communication. Equipped with a modern full duplex modem, up to 65 kbps sustained download speeds are possible -- rendering pages on this message board in under 20 seconds! And third, a five thousand pound blast door, swinging on heavily rusted hinges, serves as a constant reminder that the full mind and body of a professor should at all times be engaged in Sisyphean endeavors. Anything less robs the student and cheapens our distinguished institution. I hope to bring this same drive and determination to my work, redoubled, in the venerated HSB.

Back to the sticky note. I jotted the reminder, prompted by good Dr. Midgley some weeks ago, to investigate Elder Holland's scolding of the Maxwell Institute. Like all of you, no doubt, I have heard audio clips from the presentation. But contained in the video was a precious gem.

Toward the end, Holland resuscitates the basketball analogy, referencing Maxwell's "no more slam dunks" admonition. As he does so, the Power Point flips to a new slide while he talks. Here is a link to the segment:

https://youtu.be/qpUN29orJmM?t=1830

And here is the slide:

Image

I couldn't pinpoint exactly why in the moment, but this slide rubbed me entirely the wrong way. In fact, it bothered me deeply, and not only as a reflection of my feeble basketball abilities. No, something more. The photo, together with the voiced over urge to keep a scholarly hand, fully in the face of those who oppose us, and the basketball analogy - with all of its constituent parts: coach, fans, points, opponents, rules, dunks, winners/losers.

It struck me that basketball is not remotely a relevant analogy for scholarship. But it is a terrific analogy for battle. Mormons are very well versed in battle stories.

Others in this forum, I expect, will have already expressed views on the principles of scholarship. I won't address that here.

Instead, I draw attention again to the photo.

The defender - what is he doing?
He is shoving his hand squarely and firmly in the face of the opponent. It's a foul. But more. It is, quite clearly, an intentional flagrant foul. Depending on the referee, the first, certainly the second, instance of this behavior would result in ejection from the game. Fines and/or suspension can also be levied against the offending player. Players should never do this, period. It is wholly unsportsmanlike.

The defender - what is he NOT doing?
He is NOT playing good defense. He is not even playing bad defense. Heck, he is not even cheating - cheaters have a chance at getting away with it. No, what he's doing is simply attacking the other player. The applied skill is zero. What is evident, alarmingly so, is the applied malicious intent (or shocking stupidity). Either way, no coach would condone it. No fans would tolerate it. No players, on either team, would rightly support it. For any reason. He has turned the game -- a sport -- into an unsafe street fight. A battle without rules. That defender should never be allowed on court, ever.

Is it possible that Elder Holland didn't mean to suggest that the hand be so firmly shoved into the opponent's face? Possibly. He did say "a scholarly hand, fully in the face...", suggesting he meant it to be "fully in the face."

But he's speaking to scholars, not street thugs or front line infantrymen. What is going on here?

I fully acknowledge that Elder Holland leads this portion of his narrative with a "faith first" model. Put faith first, then scholarship. That is entirely in-bounds for a religious institution. Yes, the mandate limits scope of study to topics that don't lessen faith. But it's the church's school, church has the right to restrict academic freedom. Sure. Granted. Don't love it, don't go there. Easy.

But Elder Holland doesn't stop there.

His directive, simply put, is to break the rules of the game -- the scholarship game -- by sticking a hand in the face of other scholars. Just shove a firm hand, right there. Just shove it right up, fully in that face, covering the nose, mouth and eyes. Leave no room for forward progress. That's it, break the rules, fully in the face.

And so he shows his true belief. Apologetics -- and BYU scholarship -- it isn't a game. It's a street fight. It's battle. The opponents are... scholars. Experts in their fields of study, whose conclusions differ from the faith-based, but absolutely literal, narratives of the Mormon church.

I think in this speech, Elder Holland has folded a card or two and shown part of his hand.

(a) It's not a game, it's war.
(b) The game (war) is not winnable by following the rules.
(c) Breaking the rules is OK (because, our higher authority justifies it).
(d) The coach (God?) and the fans (Q15? TBMs?) want to see you do it.

Is this consistent with the spirit of good scholarship? Of course not.

As a final thought, I was curious, what alternative images might Elder Holland have had at his disposal for this rousing speech in front of the best, or among the best, scholars that the church has to offer?

After all, perhaps the basketball photo was simply poorly chosen. Perhaps an underling, or a secretary, acting entirely on his/her own (like church artists?) dutifully, but blindly, went online and found a stock photo of a basketball defender. Perhaps in a moment of confusion, this underling searched keywords: "intentional flagrant foul"?

As alternatives, I submit top results for two Google image searches on "scholarly hands" and "academic hands".

Resoundingly, these images portray what, in my mind, comprises the essence of good scholarship. Collaboration. Curiosity. Openness. Rigor. Building bridges. Humility. New frontiers. The magic on the other side of "I don't know."

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

One last called Hands Across the Divide. Link to a write up on the sculpture below.

Image

http://www.rigidroguesgallery.com/hands ... he-divide/


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 Post subject: Re: A Scholarly Hand
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 3:01 pm 
God
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I just noticed this post after posting on Hollands same talk. Seems you and me are inspired today!


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 Post subject: Re: A Scholarly Hand
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 3:10 pm 
Endowed Chair of Historical Innovation
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RockSlider wrote:
I just noticed this post after posting on Hollands same talk. Seems you and me are inspired today!

Indeed! What are the chances?


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 Post subject: Re: A Scholarly Hand
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 4:31 pm 
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Dr Moore wrote:
RockSlider wrote:
I just noticed this post after posting on Hollands same talk. Seems you and me are inspired today!

Indeed! What are the chances?


Well, if you're one of the Dales it's a 0.000000001 chance, “even odds” (1:1), that you and Rockslider coincidentally arrived at the same topic today. So your topic is true.

- Doc

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 Post subject: Re: A Scholarly Hand
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 5:34 pm 
God
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Outstanding! I can see they most definitely put in the correct heir apparent to the chair in Cassius University. I really, REALLY enjoyed your article.

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Is Midgely serious? Peterson's blog is a patty-cake, surface only, all too frequently plagiarized bit of ephemeral nonsense. Why would anyone suppose avatars must be real? Midgley has lost his tiny little mind. Maybe he can go over to never-neverland and harass Peter Pan for not really knowing how to fly. -Lemmie-


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 Post subject: Re: A Scholarly Hand
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 5:37 pm 
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Dr. Moore wrote:
Equipped with a modern full duplex modem, up to 65 kbps sustained download speeds are possible


If that's true, professor, then I'm insanely jealous, as my single-channel ISDN line only gets 64k. I thought we had outfitted your office with a 56k modem, although, with the Cat3 we used, good luck.

Dr. Moore wrote:
The photo, together with the voiced over urge to keep a scholarly hand, fully in the face of those who oppose us, and the basketball analogy - with all of its constituent parts: coach, fans, points, opponents, rules, dunks, winners/losers.


Thank you for the summary, professor, I had not watched the presentation and I didn't know he used a slide like that. I'm stunned. I thought I was practicing old-fashioned hyperbole with this post here a while back. Good heavens, with the apologists, I'm making a real habit on erring on the side of charity when I think I'm being provocative.

Your post did make me think of something I hadn't considered before. This is really a horrible tactical error. It only looks good to their team, everyone else is laughing at them, and not everyone on their team is down with it, anyway. What they need to do is be pests, and push their bankrupt ideas as they do, but they need to provoke heavy-handed responses from critics, and then respond graciously. That way, they appear as the victim and the underdog. In a war of ideas they are doomed to lose, they need to make the war about tone. As it happens, their bankrupt scholarship isn't even the worst part of their efforts.

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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: A Scholarly Hand
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 6:01 pm 
Endowed Chair of Historical Innovation
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Dean Robbers,

Please forgive my defective research. Had I searched this board thoroughly, as protocol insists, surely I would have found your magnificent post and duly cited it. Sorrow in this folly is overcome only through grateful cognition that my work validated, and indeed built upon, your intuited reactions. How fortunate we are to be guided by your leadership!

My heart skipped a beat or two at seeing your flagrant foul photo, and another beat as I read your prescient observations.

On further reflection, perhaps all of this boils down to an unfortunate misreading of the business classic, First, Break All The Rules

Sincerely yours,
Dr. Moore


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 Post subject: Re: A Scholarly Hand
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 9:15 pm 
B.H. Roberts Chair of Mopologetic Studies
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This is groundbreaking, absolutely devastating research. I had no idea that these sorts of visuals were being presented at Holland's talk. (What can I say: I have been overwhelmed with travel and other scholarly tasks.) All I can say about the video and PowerPoint is: Now I completely understand why Midgley described Holland's talk as a "spanking" of the Maxwell Institute. All of the Old Guard, classic-FARMS people have, all along, understood the Brethren's directives to be one of ongoing hostility and warfare, and looking at this, you can't help but understand why. And so they see this, and they view it as an explicit critique of the "new" MI's decision to pursue a scholarly path: they thought all along that the Brethren expected them to go to war. And who knows what the Brethren truly thought? It may be that *some* of the Brethren at *some* point in time *did* want them to go full-blown gladiator on some party or another.

But what this fundamentally communicates is how unhinged the whole thing is: it suggests that the Mopologists are not truly in the "inner circle," but are instead left to guess at the Brethren's meaning, or rather, that they are doing so in the midst of a maelstrom of confusion. I mean, here is the same guy who ordered them to torpedo the John Dehlin "hit piece," and now he's telling them to commit the basketball equivalent of a flagrant foul? Well, all that means is that the Mopologists were confronted with an ambiguity, and they made the choice on how to respond and act.

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 Post subject: Re: A Scholarly Hand
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 10:21 pm 
Hermit
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You know, it's funny you bring up that management book, because Mr. Midgley was blasting positive thinking the other day, as if it were competition to his serious religious worldview. I'm thinking the apologists could probably use one of those management books more than pretty much any other.

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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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