Symmachus wrote: ↑
Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:25 pm
The thrust of his attack on the Jana Riess model (which I also think is deficient but for different reasons) is a waste of time, then, if understanding is his goal—but of course that is not his goal. Who is the audience of this book and what is its intended function? It seems to exist to provide what Gee imagines will be comfort for committed believers with uncommitted or leaving family members and friends. "Your friends and family who leave are losers who didn't do their homework—maybe you didn't do enough to get them to do it—because the Church is even more perfect than the Gospel is" seems like a great angle, and there must be a market for it. Wish I'd thought of it.
Anyway, of course this is also a bunch of barely disguised circular logic from Gee. "Mormons I approve of are good because they do what I want them to, and because they do what I want them to, they are good, and therefore I approve of them. Our job is to get people to become good by doing what I want them to in order to win my approval. Jana Riess is the devil. And so is Brian Hauglid. I have a Ph.D.. Buy my book."
I don't think I disagree with any of this. From what little I know about both books, I am unlikely to be all that interested in either. I more interested in the meta-discussion about interactions between Mormons of all kinds and former Mormons of all kinds. Most testimony-driven pseudo-arguments are circular, at least the ones that I have recently wasted any of my time on, such as Brian Hales' article about naturalistic theories of Book of Mormon translation, which literally concludes with his testimony.
I suppose when I see these arguments between believers and non-believers, however, and how they tend to play out, I tend to look for the claims that seem at least generally credible or at least reasonable on any side. Or, in other words, I am trying to understand how things look from that party's perspective. Yes, of course, these books are written primarily to validate a particular perspective. For those who don't share that perspective, they easily provoke criticism. I don't see anything fundamentally different about this version of Gee than his other stuff. He has the same apologetic biases he has always had.
And, honestly, while I don't share Gee's perspective, I think that to those who are spiritually committed to Mormonism as it is taught to them in the LDS Church it is perfectly reasonable, from their point of view, to conclude that a number of leave-takers don't get it. Indeed, I would say that their reasoning on this is perfectly consistent with the internal logic of LDS Mormonism. For them there is something to know, according to their spiritual epistemology that depends on spiritual feelings, and knowing that thing leads to the conviction that helps one make covenants, obey leaders, and endure to the end. Those who claim to know at one time but lose the plot somehow will become suspect regarding their knowledge, faithfulness, etc.
Many others are reevaluating the validity of these views because, hey, they don't seem to be working out so well for an increasing number of people, and they will be willing to look to a person like Jana Riess for a different understanding of what is happening, but the Mopologists have consistently circled back to those explanations that maintain the status quo as much as possible. Should we be surprised that Gee has done so here as he has consistently done elsewhere? Gee may be living in a museum worshiping relics of faith, but it is worth noting that what he is doing is in line with what they have done, and generally found reasonable success in, for a very long time.
We can complain about what he has done, but I don't know that what he has done does not apply equally well to most of LDSism at this point. They have been doing this, they will continue to do this, and from the outside it sure looks hella redundant and a waste of time.
“God came to me in a dream last night and showed me the future. He took me to heaven and I saw Donald Trump seated at the right hand of our Lord.” ~ Pat Robertson
“He says he has eyes to see things that are not . . . and that the angel of the Lord . . . has put him in possession of great wealth, gold, silver, precious stones.” ~ Jesse Smith