Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Fence Sitter wrote:Hauglid and Jensen are doing public presentations on the volume where they say Joseph Smith couldn't actually translate Egyptian, we have the papyri from which Joseph Smith produced the Book of Abraham, and we as a church need to rethink what the word translation means in regards to Joseph Smith's work on the Book of Abraham.


I just finished watching that entire presentation. Very interesting. You can see how these two scholars can see the writing on the wall and that the writing is not favorable for the church, at, all.

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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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So Gee has spent 15 years of his life/career doing research funded by a member of the seventy which resulted in a Book Of Abraham apologetic that is now being completely refuted by the Church....do I have that right?
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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I have a question wrote:So Gee has spent 15 years of his life/career doing research funded by a member of the seventy which resulted in a Book Of Abraham apologetic that is now being completely refuted by the Church....do I have that right?


Not quite.

A lot of the work that Gee has done, like Nibley before him, is to show how there are ancient Abrahamic parallels in Egypt to the same Abraham we find in the Book of Abraham and then try and claim that this is information not available to Joseph Smith. Never mind they haven't done any actual investigation into the 19th century possible sources (I wish Metcalfe would publish what he has on this) for Joseph Smith on Abraham. So Gee and Muhlestein have thrown out a lot of widely scattered ancient Egyptian sources that reference Abraham and claim this is proof that the text Joseph Smith made up is actually based on a text that might of existed in ancient Egypt sometime somewhere. As long as no one produces evidence that everything that is found inside the Book of Abraham could be sourced to the 19th century, Gee can keep on throwing out this "you can't show how he could have known about this" parallel type of shoddy scholarship.

But his main hobby horse has been to claim that Joseph Smith could and did actually translate the Book of Abraham from the missing portion of the papyri, and that he did this (in part) before the KEP was created. He wants to demonstrate that the KEP was merely an ill-fated W.W.Phelp driven attempt to reverse engineer a translation of Egyptian using a no longer extant original translation of the Book of Abraham chapters 1-2:18 Distancing Joseph Smith from the KEP allows Gee to argue that Joseph Smith actually did translate the Book of Abraham from an Egyptian version on the missing papyri. That leaves the need for a faithful Egyptologist to reconstruct how that might of happened and is the basis for his Book of Abraham work.

What is taking a back seat now is the need for a LDS trained Egyptologist who can demonstrate how the missing portions of the papyri might of contained an Egyptian text version of the Book of Abraham. If Joseph Smith couldn't translate Egyptian, there is no need for an Egyptologist who can confirm a traditional translation effort. And, if 19th century sources can be produced covering all of the Abrahamic material in the PoGP, then they will have nothing left to do at all.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Fence Sitter,

Tom and Physics Guy brought to our attention that Gee has a more than solid publication record aside from any apologetics. How would you say the "chair" has divided his routine scholarship vs. apologetics, 70% - 30% ?
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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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Gadianton wrote:Fence Sitter,

Tom and Physics Guy brought to our attention that Gee has a more than solid publication record aside from any apologetics. How would you say the "chair" has divided his routine scholarship vs. apologetics, 70% - 30% ?

No idea Gad. Let me be clear about what I said regarding the emerging place of the Book of Abraham catalyst theory leaving him nothing to do. Obviously he can and will continue to publish in the field of Egyptology but his place as the LDS scholar expert on the BofA who the uninformed faithful point to, to use to prop up their testimonies, is fading and unfortunately for him, he is being pushed out by his own..
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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I wish John Gee all the best in his quest to further advance the science of Egyptology on a conventional level. His career in this field is wide open and he can do whatever he sets his mind to do. I wish him every success in this venture.

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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Gadianton wrote:
Fencesitter wrote:I suspect that the recent volume from the JSPP on the Book of Abraham is a strong clue why he is letting up. Not only does it not support his (following Nibley) theories on the creation of the Book of Abraham, it argues against it in support of people like Smith, Cook, Vogel & Metcalfe. While Gee may not care what non believers say about his work, it has to be a tough pill to swallow seeing a book come out which is produced by the Church's historian's office contradicting at the most fundamental level, his life's work on the Book of Abraham. His recent offering on the Book of Abraham, An Introduction to the Book of Abraham offered nothing new except feeble attempts to distance the Hor scroll from a missing scroll, attempts Vogel quickly put to rest. It is ironic how Gee, Bob Smith et al loudly condemn anyone who is not an Egyptologist for publishing on the Book of Abraham, yet when it comes to any their proffered arguments out of the field of Egyptology, they utter fail. See Gee's two inks fiaco, or his total failure at math in his length of the scroll papers. As a historian Gee is getting soundly thrashed by Vogel. In textual analysis Hauglid is also showing Gee his short comings.

Hauglid and Jensen are doing public presentations on the volume where they say Joseph Smith couldn't actually translate Egyptian, we have the papyri from which Joseph Smith produced the Book of Abraham, and we as a church need to rethink what the word translation means in regards to Joseph Smith's work on the Book of Abraham. Think about that, if the church changes it's views on this and switches to a catalyst theory for the production of the Book of Abraham, there won't be a whole lot of demand for faithful Mormon Egyptologists.


A fantastic contribution Fence Sitter, this has me rethinking this entire episode from the beginning. Doctor Scratch, what is your professional opinion here?


I think that Fence Sitter's remarks are spot-on. As best as I have been able to tell, Gee didn't really *want* to be the de facto "official" Book of Abraham apologist. I don't know why he went into Egyptology in the first place--whether it was purely a matter of his own interests, or whether he showed promise in certain other ways, and some "mentor" thought he'd be useful for this purpose....Who knows? But it has long been very easy to see his (very visible) discomfort in the role. And who can blame him? Being the "top" Mormon apologist for the Book of Abraham sounds like one of the worst jobs imaginable. All that said, Gee put in the effort--I think you at least have to give him that. He "tried." Some of what he did was pretty awful (cf. "two inks"), and his connection to "classic FARMS" Mopologetics has also been toxic for him, I think. (He is very wrong to see those guys as legitimate allies.) I'm sure he at first calculated that what is apparently a sinecure at BYU was worth "throwing in" on behalf of the Book of Abraham. (I wonder if Smoot is expecting--or badly hoping for--a similar deal?) But, I'm sure he never anticipated the toll that this would take on him. He's gone totally grey in the past few years--rather like what happens to Leland Palmer on Twin Peaks.

But the true focus of this thread, of course, has been the internal workings of Mopologetics, and I assume that's why you're calling upon my expertise, Dean Robbers. Candidly: I'm still not quite sure what's going on. Sure: I get that the Mopologists hate everyone at the Maxwell Institute with a white-hot fury, but does that explain all of this? Gee wants to get out just because DCP, Midgley, and others are sore over what happened seven years ago? I think there's more to it than that, including what Fence Sitter laid out. I bet that the hardcore Mopologists think that Hauglid and the other Maxwell Institute people are "apostates," and that their work on the Book of Abraham is Exhibit A in the case against them. We know that the Mopologists think that Rodney Meldrum and the "Heartland" people are apostates, due to their alternative views on the Book of Mormon. It makes sense that the Mopologists would *also* think that the Maxwell Institute and its personnel are *also* apostate due to their views on the Book of Abraham.

But, of course, this is an internecine conflict, and most of the parties seem to know that it is. If you are the Brethren, what do you do if the Interpreter people are complaining to you about the alleged "fact" that the Maxwell Institute is being run by closet apostates? It is very easy to laugh at this if you're an outsider, but seriously: imagine that things like this are really said. Imagine that Midgley has got the ear of some low-ranking GA, and is prattling on about how Brian Hauglid and others are trying to convince the Saints that the Book of Abraham was not true scripture? Strangely enough, when viewed in that light, I think that a lot of the recent events start to make more sense. I mean, how do you solve this? You've got one group of Mormon academics who are saying that the Book of Abraham is legitimate scripture, and one of their friends and allies has staked a major portion of his reputation upon that claim, and, meanwhile, you've got another group of Mormon academics--along with the entirety of the "gentile" academic community--saying that this is all bunk, and you've got people both in print (Metcalfe) and online who've provided pretty much irrefutable proof that the "friend's" claims are not only wrong, but probably dishonest. Shuffling people around is probably the best option: make each of them feel as if they've been "heard."

At the end of the day, I think it comes down to the war that the Mopologists are waging against the Maxwell Institute. This is a war that they absolutely cannot win, but they're still going to try to lay down a few final, desperate blows before the house burns down.

And don't forget about this thread. At the time, I assumed it was about Schryver. But what if the "unpublished refutation" was actually Gee's?
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Fence Sitter wrote:A lot of the work that Gee has done, like Nibley before him, is to show how there are ancient Abrahamic parallels in Egypt to the same Abraham we find in the Book of Abraham and then try and claim that this is information not available to Joseph Smith. Never mind they haven't done any actual investigation into the 19th century possible sources (I wish Metcalfe would publish what he has on this) for Joseph Smith on Abraham. So Gee and Muhlestein have thrown out a lot of widely scattered ancient Egyptian sources that reference Abraham and claim this is proof that the text Joseph Smith made up is actually based on a text that might of existed in ancient Egypt sometime somewhere. As long as no one produces evidence that everything that is found inside the Book of Abraham could be sourced to the 19th century, Gee can keep on throwing out this "you can't show how he could have known about this" parallel type of shoddy scholarship.

Perhaps the silver lining in the Dales' recent Bayesian paper is that it has highlighted a basic flaw in the "Smith couldn't have known" argument. The flaw is the assumption that the document in question must either have been based on accurate knowledge of whatever the target was (whether Mayan culture, late Egyptian Abraham legends, or something else) or else there must have been some fantastically lucky guessing by Smith.

The overlooked alternative is that Smith might have hit the target by an accident that didn't require much luck, because he was trying imitate something other than the thing that the apologists assume was the target (e.g. Maya), and that other thing (e.g. ancient Israel) just happens to resemble their target to some extent. Whether that resemblance is expected or fluky, it would have nothing to do with Smith and would not require any great luck on his part.

Have the Abraham apologists considered ways by which Smith might have hit on their genuinely Abrahamic features other than by (a) being right or (b) being very lucky?

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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Doctor Scratch wrote:I think that Fence Sitter's remarks are spot-on. As best as I have been able to tell, Gee didn't really *want* to be the de facto "official" Book of Abraham apologist. I don't know why he went into Egyptology in the first place--whether it was purely a matter of his own interests, or whether he showed promise in certain other ways, and some "mentor" thought he'd be useful for this purpose....Who knows? But it has long been very easy to see his (very visible) discomfort in the role.


Oh, I respectfully disagree, Doctor. Gee was a student of Nibley and was viewed by many as Nibley's heir apparent. Nibley took up Egyptology for the purpose of defending the Book of Abraham, but he came to this late in life. I don't doubt that Gee pursued this course of study in order to carry on the work to defend the Book of Abraham. That does not mean he was not intrinsically interested in antiquity or Egypt. I have no doubt but that he finds antiquity inherently fascinating. But like many of us he came to this material through Mormonism, and in his case Mormonism remains a primary motivator for his interest and study.

The problem is that his work on the Book of Abraham has for at least 20 years been deemed by dubious by some of his peers at BYU. This problem is compounded by the fact that Gee, like other wannabe Nibley successors, has lacked Nibley's charisma. I know the latter may sound surprising, but Nibley could be very charming and witty. He had a very dry sense of humor. I have yet to see one of his diadochoi who shared these attributes to the degree Nibley commanded them. People look to Gee for answers, but some of his answers just don't add up and he does not have the smooth tongue and charming personality to help him skate by.

What he does have is a great track record in Egyptology. He is a very intelligent and learned man. He probably ought to capitalize on those great attributes and leave the apologetics alone. I understand why that would be difficult, however.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Kishkumen wrote:What he does have is a great track record in Egyptology. He is a very intelligent and learned man. He probably ought to capitalize on those great attributes and leave the apologetics alone. I understand why that would be difficult, however.


I wholeheartedly agree. I would love to see him completely ditch Book of Abraham apologetics and seek employment elsewhere. He could still maintain his membership in the church and abide in the faith but by making some changes he could become a powerhouse in Egyptology among his peers.

In that last apologetic video wherein he more or less bluntly stated he wasn't interested in doing apologetics was very telling. He's done. He's had it. He wants to move on. I have a hard time understanding how this latest change is going to bring him fulfillment as an Egyptologist. He's got to get out of BYU. Employment in Egyptology is extremely limited but there certainly would be opportunities for him to relocate and start fresh. He's got background and experience. Why stay at BYU and wither away?

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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Physics Guy wrote:Perhaps the silver lining in the Dales' recent Bayesian paper is that it has highlighted a basic flaw in the "Smith couldn't have known" argument. The flaw is the assumption that the document in question must either have been based on accurate knowledge of whatever the target was (whether Mayan culture, late Egyptian Abraham legends, or something else) or else there must have been some fantastically lucky guessing by Smith.

The overlooked alternative is that Smith might have hit the target by an accident that didn't require much luck, because he was trying imitate something other than the thing that the apologists assume was the target (e.g. Maya), and that other thing (e.g. ancient Israel) just happens to resemble their target to some extent. Whether that resemblance is expected or fluky, it would have nothing to do with Smith and would not require any great luck on his part.

Have the Abraham apologists considered ways by which Smith might have hit on their genuinely Abrahamic features other than by (a) being right or (b) being very lucky?


There is a lot of Book of Abraham literature from the faithful side and admittedly I lost interest in the subject for a few years until recently so I cannot assess what alternatives beyond lucky guessing and being right because Joseph Smith was divinely guided, that are being proposed. I know the Egyptian side like Gee and other minor apologist like Bob Smith are hanging everything they have on just that dichotomy. Over on the other board Smith has had it pointed out to him that the fatal flaw in his research is that he has completely disregarded 19th sources. Gee recent milquetoast offering in the area An Introduction to the Book of Abraham also suffers from that same flaw.

Recently I asked a similar question to Robin Jensen, one of the editors to the JSPP volume on the Book of Abraham. I asked him if he thought of David Bokovoy's suggestion that our Book of Abraham must be pseudepigraphal in nature because of how it depends on 8th century sources? Robin gave me a long answer that basically ended with "how is that for dodging the question?" So there still may be some reluctance from the emerging catalyst theory side to outright come out and say "He just made it up but it is still inspired", but I think that is where they are headed.
I think the recent apologetic developments from faithful church employees is very interesting. We have people like Hauglid and Jensen openly claiming what the rest of the world has known; that Joseph Smith couldn't translate Egyptian. We have a BYU professor by the name of Wayment publicly claiming that the JST of the bible was cribbed from Clarke's Bible Commentary and promoting a different version of the bible other than KJV. One has to wonder how all of this is going to go over with a highly conservative geriatric group of theologically unsophisticated men who think God runs the church through their collective voices.

Interesting times for sure.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Shulem wrote:In that last apologetic video wherein he more or less bluntly stated he wasn't interested in doing apologetics was very telling. He's done. He's had it. He wants to move on.

Link?
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Fence Sitter wrote:
Shulem wrote:In that last apologetic video wherein he more or less bluntly stated he wasn't interested in doing apologetics was very telling. He's done. He's had it. He wants to move on.

Link?

I knew you'd ask and I was hoping you wouldn't because I can't find the damn thing. :mad:

Doctor Scratch knows.

I think this is it:

https://www.fairmormon.org/blog/2018/11/06/fairmormon-conference-podcast-17-john-gee-selling-our-birthright-for-a-mess-of-pottage-the-historical-authenticity-of-the-book-of-abraham

See last part of the video

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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

Post by Kishkumen »

I don't hear Gee saying he is dropping apologetics for the Book of Abraham in that recording, just that he has no intention of answering Ritner in particular.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Kishkumen wrote:I don't hear Gee saying he is dropping apologetics for the Book of Abraham in that recording, just that he has no intention of answering Ritner in particular.


Refusing to answer Ritner in particular is dropping apologetics because the questions go unanswered and an appeal to authority is ignored.

Gee looked and sounded miserable during that speech. In all appearances he seemed beaten and dejected.

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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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physics guy wrote:Perhaps the silver lining in the Dales' recent Bayesian paper is that it has highlighted a basic flaw in the "Smith couldn't have known" argument. The flaw is the assumption that the document in question must either have been based on accurate knowledge of whatever the target was (whether Mayan culture, late Egyptian Abraham legends, or something else) or else there must have been some fantastically lucky guessing by Smith.

A really good question that I'm going to keep in the back of my mind, and maybe revisit some interpreter articles.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Markk wrote:
DS wrote...You can see some of this in the "Comments" thread of the "Sic et Non" post, where Dr. Peterson is practically frothing at the mouth over getting to trash people he doesn't like.


Hey Doc...

I'm not sure which is more important to him.. trashing folks he does not care for, or exchanges like those in the comment section allowing him to play out his need to be a victim. But either way it has got to be hard for him to not be able to be the DCP he once was, leading his "army of apologists against the enemy."

Looking back over the years at Mopology, specifically FARM's, NMI, and all the "board wars"...what were the "victories" for them? Honestly the only one that I can think of, that I said to myself..."okay, I'll give you that one" is "adieu" being a french word only, and even then their work unwittingly proved it was a word that gave support to the Book of Mormon being a American 19th century work.

If you were to be objective, and you were hired to write DCP's resume, what would you list as his greatest accomplishments in regards to LDS apologenticts? I would love to read how his resume would read from your (or anyone else's) point of view, being as objective as you can? If this interests you maybe it deserves it's own thread.


That's a provocative and interesting request, Mark. First and foremost, it raises the question: What *at all* have the Mopologists accomplished? They published some stuff, held quite a few conferences, posted thousands of things on the Internet, and they've hosted a decent number of conferences. Have they produced any ideas or theories? Sort of. There is the LGT. There was Welch's stuff on chiasmus. There is--for better or worse--Gee's material on the Book of Abraham. There is also Skousen's ghost committee thing. So, yes: they were drumming up things like that.

As for DCP himself? I would argue that his greatest "accomplishment" is simply providing leadership for the movement. He's the one who always gives the keynotes at the FAIR Conference. He was the editor of FROB for a long time, and so on. Is that an "accomplishment"? I would say so. Managing to get elected president is a pretty big accomplishment, even if we acknowledge that there is a huge gulf between, e.g., Abraham Lincoln and Chester A. Arthur. What I'm saying is that he's been an influential leader--a figurehead.

Apart from that, I would argue that he's had a profound influence on the direction and tone of the movement. The snarkiness and sort of gossipy quality that a lot of Mopologetic writing has? I think that stems primarily from him: you can find hundreds (if not thousands) of pieces of evidence from him that illustrate what I'm talking about. (I recently linked to his old--1994, IIRC--FARMS essay called "Questions to Legal Answers," which is a good example, as are any number of email exchanges posted to SHIELDS.) I don't think that most people would label this an "accomplishment," but I nonetheless think there is something to be said about a person who was able to execute a vision in this way, even if the vision itself is pretty juvenile and evil. And I hasten to add that the entirety of the blame cannot be laid at his feet. As we know, there is really a whole coterie of people that have pitched in on this "vision," including Midgley, Greg Smith, Allen Wyatt, and lots of others.

I noticde, by the way, that you asked him about his accomplishments over in the comments on "Sic et Non," and I see that he's refusing to answer, and that he isn't doing so out of modesty--a trait he seems to have been born without. As Symmachus and others have pointed out, he doesn't seem to have any of the traditional academic accomplishments. You may remember several years back, during the Brian David Mitchell trial, when DCP's 80+ pg. CV was posted on the Trib's website, and the bulk of it was either FARMS publications, or service for the Church. So, there's nothing he can point to in that sense. Still, I'm disappointed that he's not willing to stand behind his Mopologetic work. I'd be curious to know if any of his FARMS articles stand out as a personal favorite.

For what it's worth, I think you should pose the same question to Midgley. To my mind, Midgley's primary contribution was his aggressive push to accuse EV ministries of being in it for the money. You see those same kinds of accusations to this day being leveled at, e.g., John Dehlin and the FIRM people. (Will the Mormon Transhumanists be next?). I think it also helps to explain why the Mopologists themselves--especially DCP--are so touchy on the subject. It's pure hypocrisy, but, hey: human nature is what it is.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Hey Doc,

He certainly was the leader of a short lived "movement", we have to give him credit for that.

What history has shown however, is that DCP, and by default FARM's/NMI, moved forward defending a preconceived doctrine and history, that in simple terms was a mess when exposed. As the truth about the church objectively came forth, contradicting the accepted truth...Mopology had no other real option but to turn to a ad hom SOP.

I agree with you that he set the tone, and the "clones" soon followed with Dan as their leader. But again, as the truth unraveled, and those objecting were not the EV's and Tanner's...but the tithe paying membership, like the John Dehlin's. Something had to be done, and they made a smart move by getting rid of the leader of it all.

The vision went from an "Neal Maxwell purpose driven" organized defense, to an embarrassing liability...and Dan being Dan, as the leader, could in no way see that. In fact, he still does not understand how much of a embarrassment he was, and more importantly how much attention he brought to the problems of the church. I bet Dan unwittingly encouraged more anti Mormon books and websites/blogs than anyone. My guess is besides the Tanners, he alone has fueled and brought more attention to LDS problems than anyone else.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Any true student of Mopologetics would ask: How long will the Mopologists be able to lay off with the gratuitous "Gotcha!"-style gloating and merry-making? I wonder: does this count?
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

Post by sunstoned »

I have a question wrote:So Gee has spent 15 years of his life/career doing research funded by a member of the seventy which resulted in a Book Of Abraham apologetic that is now being completely refuted by the Church....do I have that right?


Wow, when you look at it this way, it is a wasted career.

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moksha
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

Post by moksha »

Shulem wrote:I wish John Gee all the best in his quest to further advance the science of Egyptology on a conventional level. His career in this field is wide open and he can do whatever he sets his mind to do. I wish him every success in this venture.

I don't know about you, but I miss those in-house BYU musical productions from when KBYU was a PBS affiliate. Wonder if Dr. Gee could coordinate a production set in the CougarEat of BYU students spontaneously performing the Bangle's hit "Dance like an Egyptian" while garbed in Reformed Egyptian garments? At the very least he could be the technical coordinator making sure to pronounce words like Raukeeyang and Mahmackrah correctly during the performance.
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