If you’re too high for Kolob

 

“Stop reading it,” they say. But I CAN’T stop. I mean, where else is so much sheer entertainment to be had without the aid of chemistry?

 

Why do I keep looking in on that one particular ex- and anti-Mormon website?  Partly because it’s just plain continually fascinating.  I mean, consistently.  And it’s way cheaper than going to Fantasyland.

 

 

  • Loran

    Although I’ve done it probably a dozen times or more in as many
    years, I’ve finally packed my bags and left the Trailerpark for good.
    Normally I say my goodbyes, take a parting shot or to, and then cut out
    for a few weeks (almost three months some years ago). This time I’ve
    just stopped posting and disappeared. There’s no need to go into what
    the camel’s straw was but suffice it to say its now become so ugly, so
    malignant, and so overwrought that for both spiritual and psychological
    reasons (as well as far too much time over the years being spent there
    when I have a vast amount of stuff to read here in my own personal
    library, lots of intellectual/philosophical interests, and other people
    to talk to about the gospel/church without having to go into a
    discussion in full body armor) I finally just burned out.

    What’s
    really interesting (and dispiriting) is the people there that I’ve
    watched deteriorate over the years as their apostasy has matured. I’m
    thinking of one person right now (who I don’t actually know, of course,
    most of these folks just being screen names to me) who, just a few years
    ago I referred to as a “cafeteria” Mormon, which he took in stride but
    was sure that he was, essentially, a faithful LDS with a few doubts that
    had given him pause. He felt, as do so many, that a process of sifting
    church teachings into bins marked “true,” “maybe,” and “politically
    incorrect” was essentially harmless and was indicative of his personal
    integrity and intellectual strength.

    Now, he’s as
    visceral in his hostility and alienation from the church as any of the
    most fervid there. I actually got my own “dogpile” thread there just, I
    think, a little over a week ago, and something just told me that
    there’s just no reason to go down with the ship.

    I love apologetics and the intellectual skills it requires and polishes. I
    love the exploration of ideas other than my own and to test my arguments
    in the marketplace of ideas. I Like the cut and thrust of civil,
    concentrated, point-counterpoint debate. I began to realize a long time
    ago, however, that what I was spending more and more and more time
    there doing was not debating arguments, beliefs, and concepts but
    defending my personal integrity and name from incessant calumny. Much
    of the rest of the time was being spent defending Joseph Smith, Thomas
    Monson, Boyd Packer, David Bednar etc. from the same. If the Southern
    Poverty Law Center knew about this place they’d probably be tempted to
    label it a hate group.

    There are other people I want to get to know, ideas I want to share, brains I want to pick, and debates I’d like to have that don’t include feeling like Charlie Brown
    taking another try at Lucy’s football.

    It does have an odd, addictive quality to it, however. I’ve always described it as, in
    an intellectual sense, sort of like the strange fascination one feels when
    driving by a gory car accident. You don’t want to look, but it can be
    difficult to keep your eyes averted.

    • DanielPeterson

      I commend you for taking this step, and hope that you’ll be able to keep your resolution. The folks there feed off of the few believing Latter-day Saints who still post there, and I just don’t think that we owe them the gratification.

      Your description and diagnosis of the place is precisely accurate. Issues are seldom discussed there; it almost inevitably comes down to character assassination and personal mockery.

      I think you’ll like The World Table when it goes online. There will still be plenty of room for disagreement and debate — that’s essentially what it’s intended for — but civility and substance will be at a premium and, I trust, the kinds of people who prefer personal insults and derision will find it a very uncongenial venue and will quickly flee back to the toxic swamps where they feel more at home and more at liberty to be themselves.

      • Jason G.

        Dan,
        It’s Jason.
        I would respectfully, and in the strongest terms possible, disagree with your assesment of the “trailer park”. I’ve always treated you with respect and fairness. Both when you were an active and willing participant and when you decided to leave.
        I’m just a little disappointed that you would disparage an entire internet forum with such a broad stroke. I think if you’re honest, you would have to agree that there is much at the “trailer park” that is praiseworthy and educational, whatever your religious beliefs.

        • DanielPeterson

          The comment from Dr. Shades here now leaves me a bit puzzled as to the identity of “Jason G.,” but I’ll respond anyway. (Dr. Shades has, in fact, typically treated me with respect and fairness, and I appreciate that. Not knowing who “Jason G.” is if he isn’t Dr. Shades, I can’t comment on him.)

          I agree that there are a few people on that particular message board who don’t usually (or ever) participate in the lynch mob mentality that I’ve observed there for years. But a substantial proportion of them do. Certainly most don’t object. And some there are, and have consistently been, deeply and continuously involved in derision, defamation, and false accusations of the most objectionable kind.

          I can speak with some authority on this because I’ve been — for something like seven years now — the principal target. Despite the fact that I stopped posting on the board at least two years ago, I think, I’m still a perpetual target. It never ends. At any given moment (I haven’t looked today, but it’s likely to be true right now, too) there will probably be, on the board’s first page, 3-5 threads devoted to attacking or mocking me and/or things with which I’m deeply involved. And sometimes there are more than that.

          Several of the folks there — and, of course, one in particular — are given to a weirdly obsessive fascination with me in which they go over almost everything I write, searching for comments that they then typically twist and distort or for which they create ridiculous motivations that have never crossed my mind. They get what they call “intel” from “secret informants” — some of it accurate, but far and away most of it hysterically wrong — and spin vast hostile fictions out of it, on which they will later construct still more elaborate fictions, constructing an entire strange alternate universe in the process.

          In most cases, of course, they could simply ask me “Is this true?” and I could save them a lot of deluded silliness. But they seem to enjoy the silliness and, anyway, they’ve now apparently come to believe their own caricature of me as somebody who always lies, and always has disreputable and psychologically suspect motives. Thus, they don’t ask.

          I see precious little on the site that is “praiseworthy and educational.” I see very few serious and substantive discussions there, and, anyway, the place has long since taken on the character of an unusually obnoxious echo chamber, since dissenting voices have been repulsed by the personal viciousness that they have to endure there. It is, unfortunately, a pretty clear illustration of the fact that, on the internet, largely unmoderated discussions will very soon be taken over by the lowest elements, while those who wanted serious, substantial discussion flee.

          • kiwi57

            DanielPeterson:

            “The comment from Dr. Shades here now leaves me a bit puzzled as to the identity of ‘Jason G.,’”
            My guess: it’s your good friend and Malevolent Stalker’s Apprentice, Lance Peters.

          • DanielPeterson

            Could well be. S/he has used at least six or ten different pseudonyms that I’m aware of — though the trademark boastfulness and obscenity of his/her comments (which are lacking in this one) typically give him/her away. One more wouldn’t be a surprise.

    • Alter Idiem

      Loran,
      Are you talking about Kerry Shirts?

    • Ray Agostini

      Loran wrote:

      “What’s really interesting (and dispiriting) is the people there that I’ve watched deteriorate over the years as their apostasy has matured. I’m thinking of one person right now (who I don’t actually know, of course,
      most of these folks just being screen names to me) who, just a few years
      ago I referred to as a “cafeteria” Mormon, which he took in stride but
      was sure that he was, essentially, a faithful LDS with a few doubts that
      had given him pause. He felt, as do so many, that a process of sifting
      church teachings into bins marked “true,” “maybe,” and “politically
      incorrect” was essentially harmless and was indicative of his personal
      integrity and intellectual strength. Now, he’s as
      visceral in his hostility and alienation from the church as any of the
      most fervid there.”

      It’s toxic. I was caught in it, and then some things happened that brought me other realisations. I’d even go as far as to say it’s “demonic”. There’s no place on the Internet that better demonstrates Isaiah’s warning about those who “call good evil, and evil good”. In this regard, I still feel that Dan’s essay is as relevant as ever: “Reflections on Secular Anti-Mormonism”: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=17&num=2&id=591

      “But this does not exhaust the pleasures of that message board. It is
      rife with personal abuse and bloodcurdling hostility, not uncommonly
      obscene, directed against people the posters do not know and have not
      met—against President Hinckley, Joseph Smith, the Brethren, the general
      membership of the church, and even, somewhat obsessively, against one
      particular rather insignificant BYU professor. Ordinary members of the
      church—Morgbots or Morons or Sheeple, in the
      mocking jargon of the board—are routinely stereotyped as insane,
      ignorant, tyrannical, emotionally impoverished, cheap, bigoted,
      ill-mannered, irrational, sexually repressed, stupid, dishonest, greedy,
      foolish, rude, sick, brain-dead, and uncultured. There was once even a
      thread—and I am not making this up—devoted to discussing how Mormons noisily slurp their soup in restaurants. Posts frequently lament the stupidity and gullibility of church leaders, neighbors, parents,
      spouses, siblings, and even offspring—who may be wholly unaware of the anonymous poster’s secret double life of contemptuous disbelief. It is a splendid cyber illustration of the finger-pointing and mocking found in
      the “great and spacious building” of 1 Nephi. Whenever the poisonous
      culture of the place is criticized, however, its defenders take refuge
      in the culture of victimhood, deploying a supposed need for therapeutic
      self-expression as their all-encompassing excuse.

      “Contemplating a depressing number of the posters on that board, I
      have thought to myself, “If this is what liberation from the Mormon
      ‘myth’ makes you—a vulgar and sometimes duplicitous crank, cackling with malice and spite—then I would prefer to spend the few brief years left to me (before I dissolve into the irreversible and never-ending oblivion many of the board’s atheistic contributors prophesy for me and all humankind) with people who have not been liberated.” I think of the
      apostates of Ammonihah, mocking Alma and Amulek in prison, “gnashing
      their teeth upon them, and spitting upon them, and saying: How shall we
      look when we are damned?” (Alma 14:21). Surely the damned will not look much different from this.”

      • DanielPeterson

        I tend not to think in such terms, usually, but I have to admit, Ray, that the adjective “demonic” has occurred forcibly to my mind on a number of occasions when reading a couple of these boards. I can’t help but think that even some of the participants themselves, if they could back away and give a lucid, calm look to “conversations” in which they’ve been involved, would be appalled. But they can’t seem to step back.

  • Stephen Smoot

    Right now there’s a wild conspiracy being generated in Fantasyland as to why my blog post “The Imperative for a Historical Book of Mormon” was taken down from the Interpreter website after it was posted.

    The reality behind why it was taken down (to appear again in some time) is not nearly as fun or exciting as the conspiracy woven by your Malevolent Stalker. (The reason is fairly mundane, actually.) But that silly little thing called “reality” hasn’t stopped your Stalker from conjuring wild theories in the past, so why would it stop him now?

    You’re right, though, Dan, that such antics from these people are highly amusing.

    • DanielPeterson

      They are. Sad, but oddly amusing.

      Thanks for your blog post. I’m pretty much the guy responsible for the delay, and that has nothing to do with the merits of what you wrote. My apologies.

  • Barbara Parker

    May i ask what website in particular you are referring to as there seems to be so many of them popping up.

    • DanielPeterson

      I don’t even particularly want to give it any publicity. There are others like the particular one to which I refer; it’s just a place that I pay some attention to, whereas I seldom if ever look at most of the others of its type.

  • JamesJ

    I spent a little time exploring one of the sites where you seem to figure quite prominently as a topic for discussion. This brief perusal indicated the following to me:

    1. It appears that destroying your character & work may be *the* sole purpose in life for many of the most prolific participants. It looks like some of them expend *enormous* amounts of time & energy on this website in speculating about your actions/motives and/or attacking your person. So much vitriolic attention, frankly it is amazing (and spooky)–and you’re not even a politician!

    2. In the discussions I reviewed, you are regularly vilified in the meanest terms for, well, being mean! The irony couldn’t be more stark. Again, amazing.

    3. The imminent failure & irrelevance of Interpreter was touted, and yet Interpreter articles are apparently regular topics of discussions? Isn’t irrelevancy generally ignored instead of discussed? More irony.

    An, umm, interesting study… but man, it gave me a headache!

    • DanielPeterson

      It’s a genuinely weird place. Which is why I still look in on it. It’s a waste of time, I know, but . . . well, you know what people say about train wrecks.

      • JamesJ

        It’s understandable why an individual might want to keep tabs on a group apparently devoted to frequently making them the target of emotionally-charged, invective-laden personal attacks. I’m sure such vehement groupthink would be disconcerting to anyone on the receiving end. Apparently (and I’m sure you’re already aware of this), it’s not simply that they express their disagreement/dislike (in quite unpleasant terms), but at least one participant claims to have “informants” employed in obtaining “intel” on you. Spies? Stalkers? Leaked (private) correspondence & information? Really? The word that immediately comes to mind: “unethical” (at best). I don’t envy you. It is all so surreal, creepy, bizarre.

        • DanielPeterson

          It is, indeed.

  • joe_2000

    Those anti-mormon sites are proof that satan is hard at work in these the latter-days. I fear my faith is not strong enough to withstand the full assault of wickedness and pure evil that those sites would throw at me. I am thankful to strong members like Dr. Peterson for being able to withstand the fiery darts of the adversary by venturing into these dark places and then returning and reporting on the activities of satan’s minions. You are a stronger man than me. I once had an institute teacher tell me that the only thing that came close to the power of the gospel was the power of the media. Satan knows this and uses the media to destroy the church. This lesson stuck with me, and this was before the Internet. With the internet as a tool in the arsenal of the adversary, I fear for those who are weak in faith. I plead with everyone I know to be very careful when using the internet, and don’t let your kids use the internet unmonitored. There is too much at stake with porn and anti-mormons, you are sailing in shark infested waters.

    • Lucy Mcgee

      “The activities of Satan’s minions”? Surely you jest? You do realize you are talking about people here, with families and friends and who are a part of the fabric of this nation.

      Dr. Peterson, please help.

      • JamesJ

        Wouldn’t said people do well to spend more time with their families and friends, or in redirecting more of their energy strengthening the fabric of this nation, instead of employing a seemingly endless round of personal attacks against Dr. Peterson?

        I don’t believe I know any of the participants I recently observed engaged in this behavior. Do you know if they ever note that this excessive attention or even obsession with Dr. Peterson is more than just a little over the top? Not just the attacks, but “informants” gathering “intel”, speculations, insinuations, rumors, on & on. Maybe this is just par for the course and uninteresting to the initiated, but it’s quite outré to those who are not.

  • DanielPeterson

    The sad thing about others, noel, is that they seem to feel completely comfortable and at home in these places.

  • Ray Agostini

    I was actually banned, but after a private discussion with Shades, reinstated. Having access to the archives is handy, and the PMs I have there, which is not a lot but still useful. Some interesting discussions also take place in Off-Topic.

    You’ll also note that I carefully select which threads I post on in the main forum, and I don’t post anywhere near as much as I used to. There are posters there I also like, in spite of our differences, and I’ve had a long email correspondence with a couple of them (more than a couple over the years). I’m always hoping too that a shift will take place, to make the discussions more even, as they were in the early days of MDB, when it was a much more interesting and balanced board. I’m not holding my breath.

    • noel

      I kinda feel like you always have this devotional approach to the BOM. You are never quite at home in either board. There has been some very interesting stuff on the “trailer park” board by Chris Smith, Andrew Cook and Jo Geisner, nothing like I would ever see on the other board. I suggest Droopy take BSpace and whyme with him. Their obsession with Obama and anything left of centre is getting boring.

      • DanielPeterson

        No serious academic “apologist” views message boards as real venues for publication, so I doubt that you’re going to see substantial apologetics on MDDB or anywhere else.

        You’re right. In that sense, my home isn’t MDDB. And it certainly isn’t YOUR board.

        • noel

          BTW, I ordered that issue of EPS journal on neuroscience and the soul. There seems to be a growing consensus that we have no soul (sorry Plato). RayA or his brother are into discussing NDEs.Here is an article on the guy who wrote Proof of Heaven http://www.salon.com/2012/11/26/dr_eben_alexanders_so_called_after_life/ People from Fuller like Nancy Murphy and Joel Green seems to reject dualism.

          • DanielPeterson

            Many people reject dualism. That’s long been true. (Think Aristotle.) But many people don’t. (Think, recently, to choose just one example, Mario Beauregard.)


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