DCP: God Doesn't Care About Academic Achievement

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Doctor Scratch
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DCP: God Doesn't Care About Academic Achievement

Post by Doctor Scratch »

A very interesting, and oddly schizophrenic article has appeared in the latest blog entry of "Mormon Interpreter. It's called "A Democratic Salvation," and it was authored by Professor Peterson. You may notice that the article--which is far, far shorter that the typical fare at Interpreter--reads rather like a Sacrament Meeting talk. Given the way that DCP recycles his writings in other venues, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it actually was.

But the article is very interesting for other reasons--namely, the way in which it offers up a glimpse into the current status of Mopologetics. Simply put, the article represents a retreat into Chapel Mormonism. Just look at the very last few lines, a portion of which quote from (who else?) Nibley:
Nibley wrote:So that’s why I don’t take this very seriously down here [on Earth]. We just are sort of dabbling around, playing around, being tested for our moral qualities — and, above all, the two things we can be good at, and no two other things can we do: we can forgive and we can repent.15
That is the intelligence that God seems to value. And it is available to all. Even to the elite.
I think some context is in order here. The idea of "elites" and "morality" seems to have been on Dr. Peterson's mind a lot lately. I mean, have you seen his blog entries on Napoleon lately, where he (DCP) is commenting on the idea that, sure, Napoleon was a great, historic figure, but *man* a lot of people sure died in the course of what he did! How can anybody not feel a sense of revulsion over that?

So, go ahead and do the math here: Napoleon = An Elite, but, no, Napoleon was not actually smart because he wasn't "smart" in the way "that God seems to value" (and you have to chuckle at that qualifier: "seems")--i.e., Napoleon didn't openly "forgive" or "repent," I guess.

But this is an awfully odd thing for a Mopologist to say, isn't it? Peterson spends the first portion of his very, very short article arguing that humans--and "so-called intellectuals" especially--tend to envision a God that suits their own interests:
There seems a powerful tendency among people who theorize about God — perhaps particularly in the absence of contradicting experience or revelation — to imagine Him in their own image. And this occurs even among those who try hard to avoid what they consider “crude” or “vulgar” or “primitive” anthropomorphism.
Hey, by any chance have you read a short novel called, Added Upon?

Sorry--I digress. Ahem. The whole point of the article, it would seem, is that "intelligence" or scholarly ability, etc. don't matter in the face of whatever it is that God actually wants: which, per Nibley, seems to mainly be an ability to "forgive" and/or "repent." I'll come back to that point in a moment, but I was struck by another of the passages in the article:
Many, many years back, among the men who sometimes worked for our family’s southern California construction company, was a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He wasn’t a well- educated man. His grammar was poor, and I have sometimes joked, in recalling him to my wife and kids, that he had no idea at all where to locate 2 Nephi in the Old Testament. But even as a rather young boy, I noticed that he was the first to arrive at service projects and the last to leave, and that he was at every single such project in which I ever participated and probably a great many besides. If there was a widow’s house to be fixed, he was there. Sometimes I was, too, but I had little to offer. I realized then that, while he was far from sophisticated or urbane and while I aspired in those days to be at least somewhat more sophisticated and urbane than I then was, he was worth at least two of me. I was convinced then and am confident now that he will occupy a wonderful place in the Celestial Kingdom.
It's important to note that the person in the anecdote goes unnamed. DCP admits that he "sometimes joked" about how much of an idiot that he thought this guy was: lousy grammar, and he apparently sucked at remembering all the details and minutia of the scriptures. And notice, too, that Peterson says that he "had little to offer." What is that supposed to mean? That he was a dick and refused to help out at service projects? Or that the unnamed "Noble Savage" had practical skills that young Peterson lacked? (Remember: DCP has, many times, tried to claim that he's got "blue collar" credentials from having worked in his family's construction business. Did he actually "work," or did he sit on his butt, "managing" the other workers while he read Karl Marx?) And I am just not buying that final line at all. *This* is what gets you into the Celestial Kingdom, and yet you're going to thumb your nose at that and spend the next 50 or so years of your life pursuing "sophistication" and scholarship?

At the end of the day, it's simply impossible to take this article seriously. DCP doesn't believe that the true measure of "intelligence" is "forgiveness" and "repentance." None of the Mopologists believes in those things. If they do, then where is the evidence? Has Greg Smith "forgiven" John Dehlin? Have the Mopologists "forgiven" Gerald Bradford or Jeremy Runnells? Has Dr. Peterson "repented" for telling Blair Hodges to "go to hell"? Has Louis Midgley repented for his behavior at the Tanner's bookstore?

I think that DCP fears that he has done too much to alienate whatever broader audience he imagines or wishes that he had, and that he's calculating that his own "book learning" and "stature" as an academic is the thing that is responsible for this. (Or maybe a Church PR person advised him in this way?) Tough to say. Regardless, the Mopologists ought to be very concerned that their erstwhile leader is leaving them in such a vulnerable position.

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Re: DCP: God Doesn't Care About Academic Achievement

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I supposed one of my biggest objections to the concept of God is the idea that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being would level some sort of permanent judgement on beings he created for something they did in a mortal life span.
Makes no sense except to those trying to justify their own views of human morality.

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Paloma
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Re: DCP: God Doesn't Care About Academic Achievement

Post by Paloma »

I think that once again, Professor Peterson wants to have his cake and eat it too, fancying himself: urbane and sophisticated while a humble 'salt of the earth' type; highly educated while valuing the simple essentials; witty and cutting while gracious and kind; aggressively polemical while displaying "fruit of the Spirit" Christian characteristics ... etc. etc. etc.

It seems to me that he's an odd fit for a kind, gentle, 'salt of the earth' Latter-day Saint. (And I have to wonder if he really wants to fit that mold.) I wonder if that's why he detests Angela Lansbury and dislikes Mr. Rogers. Are they too bland and milquetoast for him? Too much like a stereotype of good LDS folk? He likes to be humorous, spirited, rebellious, and even anarchical (he's been known to say during a 'talk' that he has a good bit of the anarachist in him). He enjoys a good fight.

I think it's altogether possible to be kind and gentle, and also fun-loving, witty and spirited ... even outrageous in a good way!. I know lots of people like that, and I expect we all do. Wonderful people!

But there's something about the way Dr. Peterson handles and digests his cake that belies his brilliant cultured benevolence. It's evident in His embrace of the words and actions of Progessor Midgley, (an even more striking example of jarring contrasts) who presents himself as a follower of Christ. Midgley said this of an evangelical with whom he had an adversarial relationship: "I am, however, very much aware of, and also pleased to know, that in his last sermon, just before he assumed ground temperature, he had me in mind."

That is just 'something else'! ... and not in a good way!

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Re: DCP: God Doesn't Care About Academic Achievement

Post by Tom »

I am reminded of Dr. Peterson’s post several years ago in which he reminisced about a ward member’s misuse of the word incomprehensible. Perhaps it’s the same man. If so, Dr. Peterson seems to really have it out for him.
Briefly, when I was a boy, there was a man in our southern California ward who had converted to Mormonism. (I seem to dimly recall that he was a former Catholic.) I can still see his face in my mind, and I remember that he spoke quite ungrammatically, which suggested that, while he was a kind and pleasant person, he wasn’t a well educated one.

I don’t recall his name, but I distinctly remember a talk that he once gave in sacrament meeting. It was a very unusual sacrament talk, in my experience, and, because it focused heavily on the errors of his previous denomination, a rather inappropriate one. (His choice of approach, I’m sure. Not by command of the bishop. I can’t think of another such talk in my ward. Ever.)

Anyway, he was speaking about the erroneous concept of God held by his former church, and he came to the concept of God as “incomprehensible.” Now this idea, he declared, is the most ridiculous of all: “How can he be God if he doesn’t comprehend anything?”

The speaker must have sensed movement in the audience — we were all shifting about in uncomfortable embarrassment — and, presumably inspired by that reaction, he expounded on the silly idea of God’s not comprehending anything for an unusually long time.

It was . . . awkward.
Speaking of talks that focus on the alleged errors of other denominations, I am reminded of Elder Oaks’ April 1995 conference address: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... n?lang=eng.

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Re: DCP: God Doesn't Care About Academic Achievement

Post by Gadianton »

Paloma wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 1:13 am
I think that once again, Professor Peterson wants to have his cake and eat it too, fancying himself: urbane and sophisticated while a humble 'salt of the earth' type; highly educated while valuing the simple essentials; witty and cutting while gracious and kind; aggressively polemical while displaying "fruit of the Spirit" Christian characteristics ... etc. etc. etc.

It seems to me that he's an odd fit for a kind, gentle, 'salt of the earth' Latter-day Saint. (And I have to wonder if he really wants to fit that mold.) I wonder if that's why he detests Angela Lansbury and dislikes Mr. Rogers. Are they too bland and milquetoast for him? Too much like a stereotype of good LDS folk? He likes to be humorous, spirited, rebellious, and even anarchical (he's been known to say during a 'talk' that he has a good bit of the anarachist in him). He enjoys a good fight.

I think it's altogether possible to be kind and gentle, and also fun-loving, witty and spirited ... even outrageous in a good way!. I know lots of people like that, and I expect we all do. Wonderful people!

But there's something about the way Dr. Peterson handles and digests his cake that belies his brilliant cultured benevolence. It's evident in His embrace of the words and actions of Progessor Midgley, (an even more striking example of jarring contrasts) who presents himself as a follower of Christ. Midgley said this of an evangelical with whom he had an adversarial relationship: "I am, however, very much aware of, and also pleased to know, that in his last sermon, just before he assumed ground temperature, he had me in mind."

That is just 'something else'! ... and not in a good way!
wow, that's quite an analysis. He rides the left hook "letters and honors" to put himself and his friends above his Internet audience that he assumes less education than himself, and therefore unqualified to criticize the Church. Over time, it is decreasingly the case that he and his buddies' formal education is greater than his detractors. However, his self-props from travel could still work, since clearly, very few people travel as much as he did and eat out as much. I say "did" because in the pandemic era, his world travels are a thing of the past. He will not feel safe ever venturing to the Middle East or Europe again. But while he leans on that left hook, he has a right upper-cut of individualism that trumps authority of letters anytime it's on the wrong side of his issues, which is pretty much all the time.

But you're right, there is no place for Mr. Rogers, and that's probably because Mr. Rogers was a spineless "liberal" whose land of make-believe was run by a King -- a dictator -- but King Friday was 'nice' and so that made it okay. "Niceness" and congeniality go with accepting the authority of government. I mean, that's all kind of weird because the main reason for personal liberty in his world is to voluntarily submit to a church, but this isn't a 'nicey-nice' submission, but one where spying on neighbors and keeping a tally on infractions defines honor.

Of course he appreciated the hard-working illiterate who built the empire the leisure class. Work hard, and don't ask questions! (as long as it's for the Church). Luckily he's no good with a wrench, so that he can be whisked here and there to give recycled talks and eat like royalty. He even mentioned recently, when thanking people, that his wife does pretty much everything for him so he more time to browse Wikipedia and speak his mind on his blog. So it's a pretty good life, except that here is another liberal, Hugh Nibley -- who has also been thrown under the bus for being liberal by FARMS -- who says we have to forgive. Wow. How does that work? Well, just as he's no good with a wrench, I'm pretty sure forgiveness really isn't his thing either, but it's good for other people! I mean, while he's never done anything wrong, surely if someone thinks he did something wrong he'd like to be subjectively forgiven, right?

Not too long ago, he was supporting an argument by a fellow right-wing religionist against "cheap" forgiveness. Of course, only the educated elite like he would have access to this power of forgiveness withholding, because only they understand the nuances behind it, but it's unlikely that he is required by scripture to forgive any slight unless he feels like it.

So far, all the requirements of the gospel by his own dictates he's personally exempted from. Pretty psychologically fascinating.

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Re: DCP: God Doesn't Care About Academic Achievement

Post by Lemmie »

Gad wrote:
...Work hard, and don't ask questions! (as long as it's for the Church). Luckily he's no good with a wrench, so that he can be whisked here and there to give recycled talks and eat like royalty. He even mentioned recently, when thanking people, that his wife does pretty much everything for him so he more time to browse Wikipedia and speak his mind on his blog.
What is it with these guys saying stuff like that? Midgley does the same.
Midgley wrote:
... his remarks reminded me that my home is actually what my wife made it. And everything in it, all in its place, was carefully put there by my wife.

...with what my wife had put in place to be ready for virtually anything, while I was allowed to go about the disorder that is always my office, and also yard.

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeters ... 4881804884
The one that horrified me the most was when Midgley said he couldn’t wait to see his wife in the afterlife...to thank her for her housekeeping, which allowed him to do his own thing.

I suppose it is part and parcel of this:
Paloma wrote:
But there's something about the way Dr. Peterson handles and digests his cake that belies his brilliant cultured benevolence. It's evident in His embrace of the words and actions of Progessor Midgley, (an even more striking example of jarring contrasts) who presents himself as a follower of Christ. Midgley said this of an evangelical with whom he had an adversarial relationship: "I am, however, very much aware of, and also pleased to know, that in his last sermon, just before he assumed ground temperature, he had me in mind."

That is just 'something else'! ... and not in a good way!
[bolding added]

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Paloma
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Re: DCP: God Doesn't Care About Academic Achievement

Post by Paloma »

My mind's really on a roll now thinking of the dichotomy seen in Dr. P's posting history. (I like Gad's "left hook/right upper cut" analogy.)

I say to myself: "Why on earth would I even think about this man and his cronies and their fascinating psychology?" As a non-LDS, I have no dog in this fight, or skin in this game.

But maybe a I do. Just a little bit. And it goes back to early roots in my awareness of these mopologists.

About 20 years ago, I spend time with Mormon missionaries. Badly wanting me to "see the light", they mentioned FAIR and FARMS and SHIELDS. I heard about 'chiasmus' and 'Quetzalcoatl". And I heard the names Daniel Peterson and William Hamblin (touted as star professors at BYU). These young missionaries practically worshipped Peterson and Hamblin.

I kept in touch with some of these missionaries when they returned home. I checked out FAIR and FARMS and SHIELDS.

I saw Peterson and Hamblin on a couple of message boards, where i participated a bit. Because i can appreciate some aspects of Mormonism and generally like the people (a lot!), I came across as a friendly and positive non-Mormon. I was welcomed and approved of by the BYU star professors. And I thought they were intelligent and decent.

Then I saw how they interacted with dissident and questioning Mormons ... including a young returned missionary who occupied a big spot in my heart. I knew the heartbreaking struggles this missionary was experiencing during this crisis of faith. And I was appalled at the mockery and heartlessness with which the mopologists treated this fragile individual.
I felt they could take their appreciation of me and stuff it! I felt like a mama bear who was sickened by the people who would smile at me while attacking my cubs.
Happily, this former missionary is no longer Mormon, and is living a happy, successful life ... with no interest in having anything to do with online forums and message boards. (It was painful and a long time coming ... but eventually very fulfilling.)

And, ironically, here I am still. I've heard Peterson say he can't stay away from this board because it fascinates him.

Hmmm ... somebody really needs to write a book about mopology ... talk about intriguing human behaviour!!

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Doctor Scratch
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Re: DCP: God Doesn't Care About Academic Achievement

Post by Doctor Scratch »

I'm a little surprised that no one has gone for the low-hanging fruit yet. I mean, why would a God who "doesn't care about academic achievement" be good news for the Mopologists? Does anyone want to take a stab at that one?

So, it's really a double-edged sword: good, because if you've squandered your professional years on hobbies and you've failed to achieve anything of note (okay: METI, sure. But is that it? Ah, ah, ah: don't even think about getting angry! Forgiveness, remember? That's the kind of intelligence that God favors!), but also both bad and good because repentance and forgiveness are both theoretically very doable and easy, and yet, those things are sometimes extremely difficult for certain personality types.

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Philo Sofee
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Re: DCP: God Doesn't Care About Academic Achievement

Post by Philo Sofee »

Well, I mean, even God won't forgive, but could only come up with the water boarding torture method of literally drowning the entire world instead of being patient and forgiving. And we are told he's going to go blitzoid batpoop Nazi crazy and burn the entire world soon! So if God has no forgiveness and no other way to accomplish his plans than gross all out total annihilation and murder, why expect less from his minions?

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Re: DCP: God Doesn't Care About Academic Achievement

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The Op is three words too long.

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