honorentheos wrote:As noted earlier, it's convenient to blame a couple of individuals when seeking to protect the institution on the one hand, and then blame the institution when seeking to protect the behavior of select individuals who are merely acting out their beliefs as provided by the institution.
Well, in this case, the facts are that it was not the "leadership" who excised that account and put it in Joseph Fielding Smith's safe.
Whether by my voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same.
honorentheos wrote:I don't believe Dehlin said anything about handling the history the way academic historians might, or that the issue is one of professional ethics.
What other kind of history represents the ideal of dealing forthrightly and expertly with the facts? Academic history sets the standard. It is clear that he has always promoted scholarly history in preference to devotional history.
Here's what he said as quoted in the OP -
"There’s this massive amount of decisions that you make, you know in a finite life, and to base that life on a narrative, when not only the narrative isn’t what it claims to be, when leaders know the narrative isn’t what it claims to be, and intentionally - for as long as they could - withheld the information that would allow people to make an informed decision about how they spend their finite time and resources –that’s profoundly immoral."
Based on his own words, the context of the discussion didn't start with academic handling of history nor did it bend that way. That occurred in this thread. I don't believe it really has any bearing on the underlying moral question as it redirects the concern from the moral behavior of the leadership as directed towards the membership to the ethical treatment of historical materials. That's an entirely different subject. Granted, one that professional trained historians certainly are not only better qualified to judge but perhaps uniquely qualified to judge. But since we are discussing the way the LDS leadership uses the narrative from which their apparent authority is derived to control the membership in ways that infantilizes them, that redirection seems to send us off into an unproductive pothole where there is no room for discussion in this forum. It's also meaningless given the individual narratives of experiences with the subject of the OP are neither illuminated nor expanded on by that diversion.
honorentheos wrote:By manipulating it's history, it's asserting it knows better than the layperson in the Church what is best for them and infantilizes them by doing so.
You see, this is where you have it absolutely backward. The history did not start out as the facts that someone deviously twisted. The history started out as the story of the faith. It was constructed as that from the very beginning. Scholarly history tells a different kind of story of the past. But it was never the case that there was a pristine factual narrative. If anything there was a story of the faith that was later challenged and edited according to the influence of scholarly history.
But the details in how one choses to describe the object "history" is meaningless in this context. We're discussing its effects. It's mass is what matters when we are discussing gravity. It's color or the fine contours of it's shape are largely irrelevant.
honorentheos wrote:Arguing that this should be permissible because religious history is in a class deserving special protection is in effect agreeing that the church knows better than the lay membership what is in their best interest. That's pretty arrogant.
It is not permissible or impermissible. It is. There is a story of the faith, and it has traditionally been the narrative members were converted by and placed faith in. So there really is nothing "arrogant" about it. It is instead arrogant and ignorant not to recognize and acknowledge the actual relationship between these narratives. The influence of scholarly or academic history will change that story over time.
Again, we're not talking about history as object, but the effects of how the narrative is used to establish authority on the membership. Everything just "is". Fetchface seems to be groping in that direction, recognizing that the LDS concept of agency is flawed because free will is an illusion. Behind every action and apparent causal decision were innumerable background factors that led to that action occurring. These influenced the subject leading to the action to such a degree most of us, on examination of those factors, would question how realistic it may have been that the person would have "chosen" to do anything else without first having to change the influences themselves. Whether we are discussing a child trying to hide the fact they broke something from their parents to a world leader taking actions that lead to the deaths of thousands, the choice doesn't stand isolated from the influencing factors that give rise to that action occurring. If neuroscience is correct, the best we can do is work on influencers such that when we are in the moment making "decisions", the twig was already bent in the direction we would ideally wish the tree to grow. At some point, when grappling with the implications of this fact of existence, a person has to come to some realization that moral systems still have to operate for societies to be viable. We can't just assume everything is permissible because no one is completely responsible for their decisions in the black and white way Mormonism portrayed it when we were taught that our agency is what allows God to judge us justly. We agree that there is complexity involved to a large degree. But that doesn't then demand acceptance of an outcome because the inputs were complex and drive the leadership to maintain a narrative and behavior that has an effect we ought (yup, ought) to recognize should give way to behavior that is more enabling of the membership.
So whether or not we accept the behavior of the Church in how it deceptively presents the narrative influences how it will continue to do so. Having a permissible attitude about it, allowing the kid to not learn to take responsibility for their actions, leads that child to grow up to become the world leader who would sacrifice thousands of lives to protect their own selfish interests. I stand by my original statement. Arguing that the abuse of narrative to protect authority and infantilize the membership should be permissible because religious history is in a class deserving special protection is in effect agreeing that the church knows better than the lay membership what is in their best interest. It's enabling the immoral actions of the leadership. And they are immoral because the underlying ethical issues aren't ambiguous. Arguing for special pleading on behalf of religion isn't helping but rather enabling the abuses of that narrative and placing the value of the institution over that of membership itself.
In the meantime we can talk about how immoral it is that the story is not changing quickly enough to suit us.
What makes it immoral is the effects it has on the membership. So while I agree with this sentence, it seems to miss that moral reasoning first demands a moral foundation from which to build. On what moral foundation does this then build if not the premise that manipulating history to the Church's advantage at the expense of the membership is itself an immoral act such that changing the narrative approach shifts the moral judgement with it?