Who should get the credit for giving me the boot?


This is how it happened


Several people have either called my attention to a partial transcript of remarks made by John Dehlin on Doug Fabrizio’s KUER radio program following October LDS conference—Mr. Dehlin was “reviewing” conference speeches—or sent me copies of those remarks.  I feel that I probably ought to respond publicly, since the remarks concern me and were made publicly.  Here is what John Dehlin said:


“I actually believe that apologetics still has a very important place within Mormonism. If you look at the people who currently staff the Maxwell Institute today, if you look at Claudia and Richard Bushman, or Fiona and Terryl Givens, these are wonderful, insightful, thoughtful defenders of the faith. And I believe we need more of them, and that’s why we created a podcast called ‘A Thoughtful Faith’, to explore people who were thoughtful but also faithful. What we don’t need are apologists who are going to do exactly what President Uchtdorf urged us not to do, which is to judge and attack those who have sincere and earnest questions.

“The publication that Jonathan mentioned was a hundred plus page article that was being written about me, pulling quotes and comments from my facebook page and elsewhere to try and malign my character. I didn’t try and censor it. All I did is I made one General Authority aware of the publication. And he took it upon himself to go to the president of BYU, and to others, and to ask the question: is this the type of thing that the Church should be sponsoring? And I’m very pleased to say that these church leaders, and I understand that there was an apostle involved in the decision, they made the decision not only that that type of apologetics wasn’t welcome in the Church, but that the types of people who were sponsoring it probably needed to find new employment. And I think that’s a wonderful decision and I support it.”


I’ll let the first paragraph go essentially without comment.  I like the Bushmans and the Givenses, consider them friends, and I like and respect their work.  Still, I reject John Dehlin’s characterization of me—I’m plainly among his targets—as “judging” and “attacking those who have sincere and earnest questions,” though I’m impressed by the ease with which he wraps himself in the mantle of superior discipleship by implying his own closer alignment with a member of the First Presidency.  Deftly done.


But I’ll move on to the second transcribed paragraph, because it reiterates a myth about me that needs to be publicly contradicted.


It begins with mention of Dr. Gregory L. Smith’s “Dubious ‘Mormon’ Stories: A Twenty-First Century Construction of Exit Narratives,” which has now been posted (along with an accompanying paper entitled “The Return of the Unread Review”) on the website of The Interpreter Foundation.


I’m struck by Mr. Dehlin’s apparent conviction that a concatenation of public quotations from him would tend to “malign [his] character.”  But I’ll let that pass, too.


Mr. Dehlin believes that it was the Greg Smith paper that resulted in my dismissal as editor of the FARMS Review.  On 25 March 2012, long before that paper had even been edited, Mr. Dehlin copied an email to me that he had sent to Elder Marlin K. Jensen, then of the First Quorum of the Seventy, alerting him to rumors of a “hit piece” targeting him, Mr. Dehlin, and asking Elder Jensen to “please not allow this to happen.”  (The email was also copied to Richard Bushman, Terryl Givens, and Hans Mattsson.)  Mr. Dehlin further indicated that he might yet contact Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Council of the Twelve.


His email did not arrive at an opportune time.  My brother, my only sibling, had died suddenly and unexpectedly two days earlier in California, and I was off in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a lecture at Harvard University.  I was not in a particularly good mood, and I perceived Mr. Dehlin’s note as an attempt to intimidate me and silence Dr. Smith.  (I still do.)


Several weeks later, I was asked, during a meeting with the director of the Maxwell Institute, to withdraw the critique of Mr. Dehlin’s writing and broadcasts from the forthcoming issue of the FARMS Review.  He said that the president of BYU had been contacted by an unidentified General Authority regarding the matter, and that the president of BYU had, in turn, contacted him, which was why he was talking to me.  I immediately complied with his request, noting that we had another article that could easily be inserted in its stead.


I knew, however, that neither the Institute director nor President Samuelson nor any General Authority nor John Dehlin had seen the essay in question, let alone read it, so I asked whether more information regarding the matter might be forthcoming.  Was John Dehlin absolutely off limits in perpetuity?  Only temporarily?  Had the General Authority actually asked that the article not be published?  Had President Samuelson actually asked that it not be published?  Did anybody want to read it?  Would they be content if it were published elsewhere?  Or simply later?  No answers to these questions were available.


Toward the very end of May 2012, I had a lengthy meeting (roughly four hours long, perhaps a bit more) in his office with the director of the Maxwell Institute.  He indicated that he would like the Institute to focus on “Mormon studies.”  (He had himself received a Ph.D. in “religious studies” from the University of California at Santa Barbara.)  I replied that, if he meant by that altogether to replace expressly committed-LDS, faithful scriptural and apologetic scholarship, I could not in good conscience support such a change.  Such unabashedly Mormon writing had been the mainstay and raison d’être of FARMS, and of its successor organization the Maxwell Institute, since its founding in the late 1970s.  Replacing it with a more or less secular “religious studies” approach would, I told him, be a clear betrayal of the intentions of those who had established and built the organization and of the donors who had generously supported it.


We went back and forth on this matter, but, candidly, I had a difficult time understanding exactly what he proposed to do.  Finally, though, I concluded that he simply meant to add “Mormon studies” onto the already existing activities of the Institute.  I remarked that I could support this, that I saw distinct value in relatively neutral “Mormon studies,” that I favored a variety of methods and approaches, and that I would happily expand my fundraising to try to support this additional kind of publication.  I had always thought that a priority of the Institute ought to be generating materials for publication in non-LDS venues.


I left the following week for Israel, where I led a private tour of the Holy Land for a prosperous family whom I hoped to interest in supporting the Maxwell Institute.  I thought everything was in good shape back in Provo.  Toward the very end of that tour, however, on 14 June 2012, I received an email from the Institute’s director dismissing me as editor of the Review and suspending its publication (though inviting me to continue as a member of an “advisory board” that would perhaps play some vague and minor role in connection with an eventual repurposed revival of it).


I took his email—which expressly contrasted his “vision,” “direction,” “new course,” and “agenda” with the original FARMS approach that I represented—to mean that I had been wrong in imagining that he intended his new “religious studies” emphasis to coexist with the traditional priorities of FARMS and the Maxwell Institute.  If that had been his intent, I would have been on board for it, and there would have been no need to dismiss me—let alone to do so by email while I was, as he well knew, on an extended trip overseas.  (I wouldn’t return to the United States for at least another month.)  Rather, it seemed plain to me, he intended his “new course” to replace the old one altogether.


I declined his invitation to serve on an “advisory board” for his new journal.  Further, given what his email unmistakably signaled with respect to the Maxwell institute’s “new course,” I also resigned as the Institute’s “director of advancement.”  As I had discussed with him during our lengthy end-of-May meeting, I regarded the substantial if not total abandonment of our “old course” as a betrayal of our donors.  I did not feel that I could raise funds for the “new course,” both because I thought that few would find secular-trending “Mormon studies” particularly exciting on its own and because, given alternative causes such as neonatal resuscitation, clean-water and measles-prevention projects in Africa, wheelchair distribution, literacy campaigns, the Perpetual Education Fund, and the like, I myself could muster very little conviction that a substantially redesigned Maxwell Institute represented the best place for them to put their donations.  I would not, I believed, be a convincing, enthusiastic, or effective advocate.  And, if they asked me, I would have to be truthful with them about it.


Now, John Dehlin and others have claimed that “the Church” ordered my dismissal.  But I see very little room in the actual narrative for them to have done so, and, on the principle of Ockham’s Razor, I see no reason to invoke high ecclesiastical intervention as an explanation for what happened.


The director’s desire to turn the Maxwell Institute in a more neutral, “objective” direction—i.e., toward “Mormon studies”—was entirely consistent with his own academic background in the relatively secular non-confessional world of “religious studies.”  I have specific reasons, too, for believing that his dismissal of me as editor had nothing directly to do with the paper regarding John Dehlin.  Among those reasons is the fact that that issue had already effectively been settled.


And it seems highly unlikely to me, anyway, that the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve micromanage editorial assignments for small journals at BYU.  Moreover, I’ve received unsought-for but direct assurances from absolutely unimpeachable sources—than whom no better, no more relevant sources can possibly exist—that the Twelve as such played no part in this matter.  (I don’t feel that I can say more than that publicly.  But I continue, so far as I can tell, to have quite good relations with the leaders of the Church.)


But what of my dismissal as chief fundraiser for the Maxwell Institute?  There was none.  I resigned.  Entirely of my own volition.  Hence, no involvement of the Brethren is required to make sense of what happened on that point.


My offices within the Maxwell Institute at the time of last June’s Purge were three:  (1) I was the editor of the FARMS Review, (2) I was the Institute’s Director of Advancement, and (3) I was the editor-in-chief of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (METI).  I was dismissed from the first after twenty-three years of service, but there seems no reason to assume high ecclesiastical involvement in that, none has ever been mentioned to me by anybody actually connected with the matter, and I have strong reason to believe that there was none.  I resigned from the second role or office in June 2012.  But what of the third?


In my resignation letter, I wrote that I intended to remain as editor-in-chief of METI, and I was assured that I would do so.  I had, after all, conceived and founded the project, and, having established it first outside of what would become the Maxwell Institute, I was the person who had, freely and on his own initiative, brought it into the organization.  Unfortunately, though, in the wake of the politics of June 2012, it became clear that the situation regarding METI was unworkable.  My position as editor-in-chief was untenable.  The leadership of the Maxwell Institute disliked and distrusted me and had no real intention of working with me.  I thought, for a while, of forcing the issue, but then, upon reflection, concluded that I would find it unpalatable if not impossible to work with them.  I expected that I would win, but I also judged that it would be a Pyrrhic victory.  Accordingly, in mid-August 2013, I resigned as editor-in-chief of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, thus severing my last tenuous tie with the Maxwell Institute.


Again, there is no room here for ecclesiastical involvement, and no need to invoke such intervention to explain what occurred.  I resigned.  It was my decision.


So John Dehlin’s claim, regarding the leaders of the Church, that “they made the decision not only that that type of apologetics wasn’t welcome in the Church, but that the types of people who were sponsoring it probably needed to find new employment,” seems to rest on essentially nothing.  The Brethren don’t appear to have been involved to any significant extent, if they were involved at all, in the politics of June 2012.  And the “new course” seems to have little or nothing to do with Dr. Smith’s critique of Mr. Dehlin’s activities.   Moreover, although Mr. Dehlin seems to be delighted at what he imagines to have been my loss of a job—“I think that’s a wonderful decision and I support it”—I haven’t, in fact, been fired.  I still work at Brigham Young University, and my salary hasn’t taken a hit.  (Sorry to disappoint Mr. Dehlin and those who believe that the University and the Church would be benefited by becoming more like John Dehlin and less like the reprehensible Daniel Peterson.)


It turns out, though, that John Dehlin isn’t the only person eager to take credit for the Purge that ultimately led to my complete separation from the Maxwell Institute after a quarter of a century of intense involvement.  Rod Meldrum, CEO of the “Foundation for Indigenous Research and Mormonism Foundation,” who comes from quite a different direction than does Mr. Dehlin, insists that I was “fired” because I had allowed materials critical of his “heartland” model of Book of Mormon geography to be published in the FARMS Review.


But, as I’ve noted above, I wasn’t “fired.”  And I certainly wasn’t “fired” for daring to question the works of Rod Meldrum.  For one thing, the director of the Maxwell Institute apparently wasn’t even aware that we had published anything regarding Mr. Meldrum’s work until long after the Purge.  Moreover there is at least one person still working at the Maxwell Institute who was far more centrally involved in responding to Mr. Meldrum than I was or have been.  I’ve never found Mr. Meldrum’s ideas even remotely interesting and have never written anything regarding them.  But I did permit the publication of these two pieces, written by others, in the FARMS Review:






Mr. Meldrum is also apparently convinced that the Church came down on us because we advocated a Mesoamerican geography for the Book of Mormon.  But to the extent that it’s associated with any particular geographic model, the Maxwell Institute is still linked with Mesoamerica, as is plainly demonstrated by the fact that it’s just published John Sorenson’s major Mesoamerican statement, Mormon’s Codex.  The book was conceived and written under the aegis of FARMS and its successor organization, the Maxwell Institute, and, though it’s not obvious to me that the redesigned Maxwell Institute, now embarked on its “new course,” would have initiated such a project, the fact remains that it published the book.


So Mr. Meldrum’s attempt to exploit my separation from the Maxwell Institute in order to validate his own position fares no better than does Mr. Dehlin’s.


I’m tired of these matters, but I won’t willingly permit my history to be falsified, and I won’t stand by and watch as others claim that I’ve been condemned by my Church and rejected by its leaders.



"Bait and Switch: How Same-Sex Marriage Ends Marriage and Family Autonomy"
Jerusalem 4000 años en 5 Minutos
New Testament 189, 190
Another Hamblin/Jenkins fix
  • Loran

    Fascinating. Coincidentally, I was just going over my downloaded copies of both of Smith’s papers today, both the “hit piece” and his essay on the events, dates, and backstory surrounding the attempt to smother Smith’s study and, allegedly, the Church’s role in snubbing apologetics and NAMI.

    Dehlin emerges, in my own mind, from all this, as, I’m sorry, a deeply conflicted, ethically confused, and intellectually fragmented individual, adept at image creation, but not adept enough to effectively mask what can only be described as a core, driving agenda, which is, I’ve long been convinced, if I may take the position of the textbook mean, nasty, ad hominem-slinging apologist for a moment, the mediation or, if you will, shepherding of doubting/dissenting members out of the Church.

    I have never accepted his pose of objectivity and neutrality, but have, in perusing his podcasts, Facebook page, his past posts at the Trailerpark, and, most importantly for me, the testimonials and statements on his website by people who have been “helped,” as they see it, by Mormonstories, come to see him as what Greg Smith aptly described as “marginal members—those with profound disagreements with or alienation from at least part of their religion, though “they are also likely to believe that their movement—its beliefs,
    practices, or members—still has something to offer” who rapidly moved to the position of defector to what for LDS would be a classical apostate and “whistelblower” relative to the church – a self-proclaimed courageous maverick seeking to expose the “folk devils” within the Church, in this case, apologists and the entire apologetic movement per se.

    I’m not sure what his positive attitude regarding Givens and Bushman are indicative of. I’ve never read either, and am not familiar with their apologetic work, if any, but I’m not at all sure I’d feel comfortable being praised by John Dehlin and set off sharply against you or Hamblin, Rhodes, Gee, Midgley etc (let alone Nibley, who has come in for similar criticism from the same sources).

    I have deep suspicions regarding his claims regarding his relationship to the Brethren and the idea that the Brethren, especially after Gorden B. Hinckley’s, not to mention Neal Maxwell’s early and supportive words regarding FARMS and the apologetic project.

    I could use other language to describe that, but no need.

  • JamesJ

    Aren’t Mr. Dehlin’s 15 minutes of fame just about up? A particularly contentious corner of the internet is going to be all ablaze with countless scornful & derisive threads regarding you & this blog post in: 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…

    Well, I think you’re right to defend your name & character from libel & slander, wearisome as it may be. Speaking of, is the perpetuation of these myths even legal?

  • Tim Barker

    I’m sure it must have been, and perhaps continues to be, quite frustrating regarding the transformation of the Maxwell Institute and your dismissal from the Review. However, I’m sure glad that you posted such a candid explanation of the events that occurred for the benefit of public clarity.

  • David Wills

    Are we there yet?

    • Scott W. Clark

      Yes, because no matter where you go, there you are.

  • mike

    How wonderfully self-aggrandizing of John Dehlin to gleefully take credit for an employment decision to which he was not a party, and to proclaim without evidence that church leaders, including an apostle (as John “understands” it), called for such adverse action. If only we were in a court of law we could have such baseless statements stricken from the record as violative of the rules of evidence. Alas, we live in strange times when John Dehlin can tweet out and post statements undermining Church leaders one moment and then tell stories of the Brethren’s apparently coming to his rescue to protect his contrarian point of view.

  • Gregory Smith

    particularly like the bit when John D claims he wasn’t trying to
    “censor” my paper. I would have thought asking someone to block the
    publication of a paper (without having read it) was the very definition
    of censorship, but I guess censorship is something only bad people do,
    and so (by definition) Dehlin cannot be engaged in censorship.

    attempting to use levers of power and inside contacts to prevent the
    publication of a document that challenged his ideology and claims. But
    not censorship. No siree.

    • Steve Lowther

      No, Gregory, censorship is ordering a paper not to be published if you have the authority to stop publication. John Dehlin simply doesn’t have the authority to censor your paper.

      Your paper is quite obviously an attack piece. He objected to it, and the people in charge of publishing must have thought so as well.

      Your accusation amounts to nothing more than whining.

    • RogersDW

      I appreciate Daniel Peterson’s clarification on the John Dehlin matter. I read Greg’s “Dubious Stories” and it confirmed much of the suspicions I’ve had about Dehlin over the past couple of years in particular.

      A quote attributed to Churchill came to mind as I pondered Dehlin’s treatment of LDS faithful, faithless, and anything in between: “Trying to maintain good relations with a Communist is like wooing a crocodile. You do not know whether to tickle it under the chin or beat it over the head. When it opens its mouth, you cannot tell whether it is trying to smile or preparing to eat you up.”

      This guy Dehlin is a master at promulgating confusion and discord. One minute he seems to be a staunch member of the Church with a few doubts. The next he appears to be a flaming apostate wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. We don’t know whether to tickle him under the chin or beat him over the head. We don’t know whether he was trying to smile or preparing to eat us up.

      My suspicions over his starkly conflicting presentations were confirmed after reading Smith’s “Dubious Stories” piece.

      Next, I was going to start using names and descriptions such as “Korihor,” “treason,” and “Quisling.” But I’ll hold off with the hope that he might possibly shut down his doubt-feeding machine and replace it with a faith-promoting one instead.

      • Steve Lowther

        In this case Dehlin is the one trying to maintain the relationship with the crocodile. He his done violence to no one. Both the critics and the apologists have done violence to him.

        • kiwi57

          “Done violence?”

          In which alternate universe does disagreeing with someone’s opinions constitute “violence?”

          If disagreeing with Mister Dehlin’s claims is “violence,” then is not your campaign of attacking Dan Peterson on his blog similarly “violent?”

          And for exactly the same reasons?

          • Steve Lowther

            In no universe, Kiwi. Having problems interpreting hyperbole?

          • kiwi57

            Not at all. It’s just that when there’s nothing to actually exaggerate, “hyperbole” becomes a euphemism for “fabrication.”

          • Steve Lowther

            lol! Yes, I should follow your sterling example of standing up for what you believe and whining about semantics! What did you say your name is?

  • utex

    Whose John Dehlin?

    • Dr. Shades

      *MY* John Dehlin.

  • Gregory Smith

    The radio bit was worth it, though, if only because the Church was invited to participate with Dehlin and Co.

    The Church declined, and sent a reply which was read on-air:


    “The church is continually engaged in important conversations about our beliefs and practices including takeaways from general conference.
    “However, a group of critics known for their personal agendas does not provide a forum for a reasonable and balanced discussion.”


  • hthalljr

    This morning in our seminary class in Klagenfurt Austria, one of our students expressed great frustration with Laman and Lemuel, who tried to kill Nephi for about the umpteenth time, this time because they wanted nothing to do with Nephi’s “foolish” attempt to build a ship. “Why on earth did the Lord not strike them dead then and there?” The best answer I could offer was that perhaps the Lord needed them not only to help build the ship, but to continue to “bless” Nephi and his posterity with opposition, even in the promised land.

    I suppose that’s also why the Lord, who “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good” still lends breath to John Dehlin and his ilk: to “bless” a motley crew of Mormon apologists with opposition!

    3 Nephi 12:45 http://goo.gl/waiIHn;
    Mosiah 2:21 http://goo.gl/ZqNFOD;
    2 Nephi 2:11 http://goo.gl/5G4hNe

    PS: From Wikipedia: “Motley crews are, by definition, non-uniform and undisciplined as a group. They are characterised by containing characters of conflicting personality, varying backgrounds, and, usually to the benefit of the group, a wide array of methods for overcoming adversity. Traditionally, a motley crew who in the course of a story comes into conflict with an organised, uniform group of characters, will prevail. This is generally achieved through the narrative utilising the various specialties, traits and other personal advantages of each member to counterbalance the (often sole) speciality of a formal group of adversaries.”

    • Steve Lowther

      How very Christlike of you to judge John Dehlin, hthalljr. Setting a fine example for your seminary class.

      I rather see you as a Laman to John Dehlin’s Nephi. He is the one receiving opposition from both the apologists and the critics.

      • hthalljr

        I have good reason to hope that Dehlin’s pitiful little shadow shall never darken any seminary class in Europe. But in the unlikely event that a wisp thereof should blow over here, I shall fearlessly defend the innocence of my students’ faith against his Lordship’s pernicious sophistication.

        • Steve Lowther

          You are offended because the Church has some major problems revealing its major problems. Mr. Dehlin acknowledges these problems in the face of the collective Mormon Denial Mechanism.

          He wishes to build bridges between those who are all too aware of them and those who are sitting with their MDM at full throttle.

          Bridge builders historically suffer the wrath from both sides.

          But then I wonder why he is so devoted to helping an organization having a foundation of deceit and fraud. I suppose he thinks that acknowledging and dealing with that deceit and fraud will somehow stabilize the foundation.

          Really I don’t want Dehlin to succeed anymore than you do. I say let the Church continue to hemorrhage its membership. I say let the ex Mormon population continue to thrive and grow and oppose.

          I say let investigators read posts like yours.

  • Scott_Lloyd

    Dehlin’s perpetuation of these reckless claims puts the currently constituted Maxwell Institute in a bad light. If they are not going to go public with the real story, they should at least have someone contact Dehlin privately and ask him to cease.

  • Michael P.

    Thank you for sharing. Even beyond John Dehlin’s version of the events, I found the whole radio segment sickening. The guests were analyzing general conference talks like we had just watched a Presidential Debate or a session of the Supreme Court; inventing supposed schisms among the Twelve on this issue or that, looking for “signs of progress”.. Ugh.

  • DanielPeterson

    Greg: Your article, I’m happy to say, was extremely good, and I very much appreciated an honest look at this matter. It was refreshing.

    • Scott W. Clark

      I second that.

      • Gregory Smith

        Wayne: It is telling that the only critique (of which I’m aware) of my paper comes from an anonymous critic on a virulently anti-Mormon message board. I usually regard those who won’t sign their name to their work as intellectual cowards not really worth responding to. In this case I made an exception:


        You must not have been following this too closely. The final version of the paper addressed what issues there were (a few typos, and one case in which moving a section of text far away from another section made it appear I was trying to hide something.) Footnotes link to the relevant response in all cases.

        And, in some cases, what the anonymous apologist for Dehlin complained about actually strengthened my case. :-)

        If this is the “worst” Dehlin’s apologists can find, I did pretty well. And, I think there are better explanations that “dishonest” for those errors that were there.

        • Gregory Smith

          But of course, none of this has a thing to do with whether Dehlin is lying or not when he says he didn’t try to censor me. He demonstrably did–whether what he wanted to censor was good or bad is immaterial to that question. (And immaterial to whether he wanted it censored, since neither he or any of his informants had read the piece before he moved to quash it.)

          And, both his attempt and his denial are a matter of public record.

          It was attempted censorship–pure (well, not so pure) and simple.

          I wonder if Peterson had tried to censor Dehlin, would this fact be overlooked so casually and so often? I suspect not.

          • Steve Lowther

            Dehlin didn’t censor you. He doesn’t have that authority. He is not the one who decides what gets published. He apparently made his case against you. You lost.

        • Wayne

          Great news, Greg! Dan (and Scott) like your work! Congratulations! if only Rollo and all those anonymous Antis would come around. At least he gave you a free review that helped you straighten out a couple of footnotes. Typically I’m on your side: I’m not too crazy about Brother Dehlin and I’m especially apposed to shady internet anons, Cowardly no-name-signing types remind me of a story I once heard about this big, physically intimidating young fellow hid his identity by wearing the clothing of a man he had just killed in order to lay hold of some property that wasn’t his (later this murderer coerced the dead man’s servant into joining him). Pretty sick stuff.

          • DanielPeterson

            I think we’ve got a clever one here!

    • Steve Lowther

      Daniel, again I am embarrassed for you. I am the critic, and even I can see why the General Authorities of the Church don’t want you as an apologist.

      If you really believed that the Church was the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, you would realize that your writing represents the Savior. Your tone is the antithesis of the Gospel message of love. Your attitude does not build bridges; it burns them.

      Your demeanor is immature and snarky, and it is obvious that the General Authorities of the Church want a much more conciliatory and professional response. They are interested in missionary work. Your writing reeks of condescension, elitism, and oneupmanship.

      Now me, I say keep you in! You do more for the cause of the critics and to the detriment of the Church if you were given free rein.

      You have demonstrated a talent and capacity to craft apologetics. It is just your attitude sucks.

      So in a kind of strange, perverse way, I’m on your side! Damned leaders!

      However, I am feeling confident you don’t have the level of introspection nor humility to understand this, which is fine by me!

      • DanielPeterson

        I’m intrigued by your justifications, Steve Lowther, for the General Authorities’ disdain for me and their decision to give me the boot — since (a) they don’t seem to disdain me and (b) they made no such decision.

        Carry on, though!

        • Steve Lowther

          So you are saying your superior gave you the boot with absolutely no input from his higher ups? Sorry. I don’t buy it.

          • Darren

            “Sorry. I don’t buy it.”
            Even though it’s true?

          • kiwi57

            Of course. Why should Mr Lowther let the truth get in the way of his ideology?

            The notion that Dan was dismissed from the editorship of the Review at the behest of the leaders of the Church is a shared myth in Lowther’s ideological community. Which means, I suppose, that it has a kind of “truth” all its own, without regard to the facts of the matter.

          • Steve Lowther

            I noticed that Dan Peterson could have commented here but has thus far declined.

            Just what is my ideology to which you are referring, Kiwi? Do you have anything cogent at all to say, or do you just shoot in the dark?

          • DanielPeterson

            There’s nothing really worth commenting on, Steve Lowther, and, anyway, you don’t seem to need a conversation partner in order to write multiple comments. Carry on.

      • kiwi57

        Lowther: “Daniel, again I am embarrassed for you.”

        Mr Lowther, I wouldn’t worry about Dan if I were you. You have enough to be embarrassed about in your own right.

        Lowther: “I am the critic, and even I can see why the General Authorities of the Church don’t want you as an apologist. ”

        As you know, there is no evidence, anywhere, that “the General Authorities of the Church don’t want [Dan] as an apologist.” As you know, that is merely a popular recognition signal shared by participants in a certain rather disreputable ideology.

        • Steve Lowther

          Apparently someone doesn’t want him, Kiwi. I would even venture to say it was someone with some prominence in the Church that objected enough to fire him.

          Now tell, me. Why don’t you have the courage to sign your own name? Perhaps it is because of personal embarrassment?

          I don’t blame you. I would go by a pseudonym if I had written what you had.

          • kiwi57

            Yes, “someone” didn’t want Dan as editor of the Mormon Studies Review.

            That “someone” was Gerald R. Bradford, head of NAMIRS.

            His identity is known. His motivation is known. He wants to get involved in purely academic “Religious Studies” type of scholarship. He wants the entire conversation to take place in the rarefied scholarly atmosphere at the top of his great and spacious ivory tower. He thinks refuting anti-Mormon publications, and writing for Relief Society sisters in Parowan is beneath his solemn academic dignity. Unlike your idiotic assumptions, this is not mere speculation; Bradford even published an article to that effect in the Review a few years ago.

            Dr Bradford disapproves of apologetics per se. It wouldn’t have mattered how nice Dan’s “tone” was. The notion that Bradford was put off by Dan being “unchristlike” is a complete fabrication that has no basis in fact.

            To the extent that this constantly reiterated false accusation of yours is a personal attack on Dan — which, of course, is exactly what it is — it is therefore a manifestation of nothing but your own personal animosity.

            Because there is nothing else in it.

    • GrimGrinningGhost

      Extremely good, but evidently not good enough to make it officially into the “Interpreter,” but merely posted as some sort of blog update (as though there’s a substantial difference there anyway) presumably to allow for a silly degree of separation.

  • Wheatwoman

    I’m not a scholar, just a member who loves church history. I read the leaked emails and then read the article by Gregory Smith. I am convinced that the article by Smith was a perfect example of why a change was sought in the leadership at the Maxwell Institute. It sounded like it was written by a bratty, precocious BYU coed, not a scholar who is intelligently defending the faith. As I stated, I’m just a mom out in the midwest. But I read. Your own words make it very clear to me that the change at Maxwell Institute is a good one. I am tired of the defensive, sarcastic, divisive tone that dominates almost everything you people write – and this very article is no different.

    • DanielPeterson

      Your comment, Wheatwoman, is, I think, brattier, more insulting, and more sarcastic than anything I’ve ever published.

      Of course, my columns in the “Deseret News,” my articles on “Nephi and His Asherah” and “The Motif of the Weeping God” and Psalm 82, and my biography of Muhammad — which surely count as specimens of “almost everything you people write” — are notoriously nasty.

      You wear your righteous indignation well.

      • Gregory Smith

        I’d like to see evidence of the “sarcastic, divisive” tone in my work.

        • Lucy Mcgee

          I’ve listened to the Dehlin/Coe podcast several times and also read your analysis of this podcast where you describe several rhetorical techniques Dehlin uses to craft his message.

          Although I understand you were trying to cover a great deal of ground, there is much you’ve left out and reading your rebuttal or analysis seems a very lopsided presentation of the three hour discussion, which if properly analyzed, could be a paper in itself.

          My takeaway with the entire podcast was that Dr. Coe understands the Maya as well as most scientists and using his background and experience, in addition to his religious worldview, could never place the Book of Mormon in that landscape. He notes in the very beginning of the interview, his evolution from a true believing Christian, to a non-believer, although he mentions several times that he would never want to leave the tradition of his faith or the best aspects of biblical theology. Anyone listening to this podcast was made well aware of his bias from the beginning.

          I found the interview fascinating and obviously important enough that you would mention it and that Dr. Sorenson would respond with an “open letter”.

          Good stuff.

          • Gregory Smith

            Yes, it could be a paper in itself. And, in fact, it was–by John Sorenson. Sorenson’s paper was to be published immediately preceding mine, so we saw no reason to replow the same ground. My interest was slightly different – the formation of leavetaking narratives, etc. This is in the footnotes.

            The question was not Coe’s biases, but Dehlin’s–his clear giddy reaction elsewhere to having given believing Mormons “a tough pill to swallow,” and failing to do even basic preparation to allow Coe to engage with the actual data instead of a strawman version of it. (And, as I quote, Dehlin was later forced to admit that he had done little preparation, and had not presented even a small amount of the “LDS” side, which calls into question either his competence or his pretense to ‘objectivity’.)

            Again, those who check the footnotes will see further information discussing this very point here:


            Sorenson’s paper is here:


            But, I fail to see how this qualifies as being a “precocious coed” (a rather sexist remark–though I readily grant all BYU coeds much more attractive than me) or being either sarcastic or divisive tone.

          • Lucy Mcgee

            Too bad Mormon Stories couldn’t have interviewed both Doctors Coe and Sorenson together. That would have made for some lively debate. I read the “open letter” to which Dr. Coe never responded publicly. I’m pretty sure he can rest on his laurels. And besides, how many people in their 80′s could, without notes, recall the amount of information he did during the podcast? He was very thoughtful of the LDS belief system and the scholars he spoke of. You never once indicated anything from the plus side of his interview, did you? I would call the portion of your paper referring to Dr. Coe extremely lopsided. You certainly didn’t sell me.

          • DanielPeterson

            Lucy McGee, have you read Sorenson’s new book, “Mormon’s Codex”?

          • Lucy Mcgee

            I would like to read it and will when it arrives on the shelves of the Multnomah County Library. I read Dr. Coe’s “Final Report”, his autobiography. As it turns out, his grandfather once owned the beautiful ranch built by Buffalo Bill Cody, which was sold to Bill Gates for $9 million. When I was young, we used to “sneak” peeks at the place and always wanted to fish the lake. Dr. Coe spent his summers there in his youth.

        • DanielPeterson

          Don’t hold your breath, Greg.

          • Steve Lowther

            Yes, Greg, you may turn blue.

        • Steve Lowther

          Just turn of the denial mechanism and reread your posts, Gregory.

      • RT

        You wear your insecurity well, Dan. Always feel a need to punch someone back harder than any perceived slight you may receive.

        • DanielPeterson

          Thanks, RT, for demonstrating how a more charitable, kinder, superior post would look!

          • RT

            Dan, wow, really trying to prove my point, aren’t you? So defensive, all you can do is try and point the finger right back at some obvious failing in your conversation partner. The comment was just my diagnosis of a basic and recurring problem in your public tone and rhetorical stance when dealing with those who disagree with and/or criticize you, and it was offered with all the charity that I can muster in this context.

            I try to be charitable to those I disagree with and would defend you if you truly were in need of defending. But as you are so often the one treating people (many of whom are faithful members of the church) as rhetorical punching bags and with a belligerence unbecoming of any member of the church, all the while feigning ignorance of any wrongdoing on you part, I feel a need to say something. A fortiori because of your position of cultural authority and because you promote yourself as a defender of the faith and exemplary believer in Mormonism.

            Your version of Mormonism is not the only correct one, and your consistent over the top treatment of those who hold to or advocate a different form of Mormonism than your own or have sincerely derived religious/spiritual/ethical misgivings about your aggressive and divisive apologetic style is misplaced and does more harm than good.

            Maybe you just can’t help thinking that I’m some disaffected Mormon and thus that my comment is driven by some evil influence in the interest of discrediting you, but I think that would be a complete misreading of what I’m trying to do. I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want you to feel embarrassed or small. I may be offering criticism (and I understand, nobody likes criticism), but it is done with the intent that you would be a little introspective and try to see what so many others see and feel in your tone and rhetorical style.

          • DanielPeterson

            Thank you for your concern and your kindness, RT! Your exemplary charity is quite moving, even if wasted on such a one as I.

          • RT

            Somewhere in there I believe you have a soft heart, Dan, so I don’t think it’s a complete waste. Just planting seeds, planting seeds… ;)

          • DanielPeterson

            Seeds of self-righteous and hypocritically un-self-aware condemnation, RT.

          • Steve Lowther

            And such a Christlike response, Daniel! Devoid of the emotional maturity required for you to retain your position.

          • Steve Lowther

            Projecting yet again, Dan? Christ’s apologist! lol!

          • Steve Lowther

            Dan, you are very convincing that your fountain of snark is an artesian well! Unfortunately that indicates impeded emotional maturity.

          • Tim Barker

            A “different form of Mormonism”? Like what?

          • RT

            Anything to the left of Dan. Forms of Mormonism that see social, intellectual, and cultural progress as a positive thing.

          • DanielPeterson

            That’s right, RT. I absolutely oppose social, intellectual, and cultural progress.

            And it would be churlish and rude for me to deny it.

            Moreover, denying it would justly call down upon me the righteous indignation of RT and Carl Youngblood. How dare I resist their charitable attempts to save my depraved soul?

          • Steve Lowther

            More snark. Is anyone surprised?

          • kiwi57

            “Snark” is infinitely preferable to spite.

          • Steve Lowther

            Really? Do tell me the quantitative difference, Kiwi.

          • kiwi57

            RT: “Anything to the left of Dan.”

            So it’s impossible for anything to be too far to the left of Dan, I take it?

            I take it then that a “church” made to fit the ideology of, say, Leon Trotsky, would be hunky-dory for you because, forsooth, Trotsky was to the left of Dan!

          • RaymondSwenson

            I think you need a little more insight Into how self-righteous you come across, RT.

            I have been reading Prof Peterson’s writings for over a decade, and I have not seen him attack someone’s person in the way you have. I would much rather have him as my bishop than yourself.

          • RT

            Fine, I sound self-righteous. But that’s just my point. In our own respective cultural and ideological cocoons, we all think that we are charitable and just in our dealings with others, and so go on to no end to self-justify and rationalize. But we frequently don’t realize how uncharitable we actually are until seen from the other side.

            And if you cannot see anything unbecoming and belligerent in Dan’s rhetorical stance, then that just tells me that you live in the same ideological cocoon as he does.

            As for you knowing that you would rather not have me as your bishop after reading my very brief blog comment, I have nothing really to say, since I don’t think that demonstrates to anyone that you have an interest in fair-minded and unbiased judgment.

          • DanielPeterson

            RT, you might be more persuasive as an advocate of greater charity and mildness if you exhibited some.

          • RaymondSwenson

            As a former prosecutor, I have a profesional interest in fair-minded and unbiased judgment.

            My “ideological cocoon” includes university degrees in mathematics and law, twenty years of military service, speaking Japanese and living in Japan for five years of my adult life, being a member of the bar in three states, working in nuclear waste cleanup for fifteen years, and teaching university courses on environmental law and regulation in five states.

            And I am in utter awe of the intellectual productivity of Professor Peterson. I think he will make an awesome butterfly.

          • Steve Lowther

            Raymond, I agree Dan Peterson has much to offer academically. Emotionally, however, he isn’t there yet. Apparently his superiors thought so as well.

          • Steve Lowther

            It is not about RT, Raymond. It is about Daniel Peterson and why he was dismissed. If he is to handle a position so important to Church public relations and its missionary work, he has to learn to handle criticism without retaliation. He simply has demonstrated no capacity for it thus far. Seems he is, however, illustrating why the decision to dismiss him was spot on.

          • DanielPeterson

            Nice of you, RT, to describe what you imagine my interpretation of you must be, and then to refute it. It makes my life easier, as I don’t even have to bother thinking for myself.

            As a matter of fact, you’ve largely invented the Me that you’re criticizing. That takes some dedication.


          • Steve Lowther

            It takes no imagination and little insight to see what you are doing, Dan. You deal in snark. You don’t deal applying Christian ideals. Your superiors saw that and terminated your position. When are you going to figure it out?

          • kiwi57

            Quaere: Where and when has Dan ever promoted himself as an “exemplary believer in Mormonism?”

            Inquiring minds, and all that.

          • RT

            Never explicitly, and not much more than most other prominent LDS personalities, but implicitly in many different ways.

          • DanielPeterson

            And, thus, RT effectively (though rather grudgingly) admits that his accusation was false.

          • Steve Lowther

            Really? I guess we were all assuming you presumed to emulate Christ. Forgive us the error.

          • kiwi57

            Your assumption was only the first, and least, of your errors.
            All of us aspire (not “presume” ) to emulate Christ; and all of us do so imperfectly. Therefore, it becomes a trivially easy exercise to show that we fall short.

            But, being trivial, it is therefore rather unimportant. And not at all relevant to anything.

          • Steve Lowther

            So it is trivial that you don’t uphold the basic standards of Christ of simply being loving? You defined the very essence of hypocrisy and excuse your failure as being trivial.

            This is either a double scoop of hypocrisy, Kiwi, or you didn’t even put a modicum of thought in applying logic constructing that pitiful excuse.

            But then, by their fruits ye shall know them!

          • kiwi57

            Mr Lowther,

            As you know, you are intentionally misrepresenting what I wrote. I said that it is a trivially easy exercise to show that we fall short. Everyone falls short of their ideals, except perhaps those complete cynics who have none to begin with.

            As you said elsewhere, it takes no imagination or insight to do what you do.

            And you are certainly not over-qualified to do it.

          • Steve Lowther

            Thank you, Kiwi. I will accept your validation. Indeed, expounding on the obvious doesn’t take “imagination or insight”. Hypocrisy generates its own odor, and the hypocrisy of emulating Christ as you and other members do here while dressing it in snark provides the repugnant olfactory response difficult to miss.

          • kiwi57

            Lowther: “Hypocrisy generates its own odor”

            And your posts are rank with it.

          • Steve Lowther

            Once again, you are projecting your own faults onto others. I do not pretend to be a Christian. That is your standard. It is not hypocrisy of me to not adhere to a standard you espouse.

            You get angry when I point that out.

            More odiferous hypocrisy yet again, Kiwi… lol!

          • RT

            Hardly :) I think anyone who consciously engages in the business of Mormon apologetics de facto promotes themselves as exemplary of the faith.

          • DanielPeterson

            You may think that, but I don’t, and I can’t see any grounds for believing such a thing.

            In any event, you’re plainly now conceding, if only implicitly, that the claim to be an exemplar of the faith is one I’ve never made, but, instead, is one that you’ve sought to impose on me.

          • RT

            I’m not conceding anything, since I never meant “promote” in the sense you took it, as in public explicit statements.

          • DanielPeterson

            So, RT, your accusation was based on private and/or implicit non-statements. in other words, it’s pretty much baseless.

          • Steve Lowther

            I am curious who you are addressing here and what the hell you are talking about. Care to elucidate?

          • Steve Lowther

            Sorry. Must have missed something. Who called you “exemplar of the faith”?

            Clearly you are not living up to the standards of the Church as you have confessed.

            Or perhaps you are saying that is why you were dismissed?

          • kiwi57

            RT: “Hardly :) I think anyone who consciously engages in the business of Mormon apologetics de facto promotes themselves as exemplary of the faith.”

            That may indeed be what you think; but it has nothing whatever to do with what such people are actually trying to communicate.

            If someone seeks to defend, say, free market economics against people advancing marxist arguments, are they ipso facto “promoting themselves as exemplary of” capitalist success? Are only the superbly wealthy allowed to argue for free markets? If so, on what theory?

            Whoever said that only superlatively righteous people are allowed to argue for a historical Book of Mormon or an authentic First Vision? Where does it say that someone has to have a platinum-class Temple Recommend in order to defend the Church’s stance on same sex marriage?

            And how do I go about obtaining one?

            The notion that someone has to have particular moral/spiritual qualifications in order to make valid arguments about doctrinal and/or historical questions is palpably absurd. It looks like nothing more than a paper-thin excuse to make him a target of the ad hominem fallacy.

            Which is ironic, because that is what he is routinely, even monotonously, accused of doing himself.

            An accusation which looks increasingly hypocritical.

          • RT

            That you would equate defending the LDS church to arguing in favor of market economics is quite astonishing. I don’t see them as similar whatsoever.

            To defend a religious faith well, one needs to represent that faith well in themselves (at least as well as one reasonably can). And I think most people understand that, even those who are doing the defending. I would submit that to rely on pure reason and logical argument to support a faith tradition irrespective of how one lives his/her life in harmony with that faith tradition is a distortion of what apologetics should be.

          • DanielPeterson

            Wow. Reading what RT is now saying, he seems to regard me as something on the order of a child-molesting neo-Nazi serial killer rather than merely as a fairly standard-issue, commonplace, basically decent but fallible human being.

          • Steve Lowther

            So now you have delusions of persecution as well, Dan? A straw man ad hominem attack on yourself? Perhaps you are offering some insights we have overlooked? Or is this a confessional?

            What other emotional problems do you have that leak out in your postings, rendering you unfit as an apologist representing the Church?

          • kiwi57

            I cannot be responsible for what you refuse to see, RT.

            The fact remains that if Dan’s arguments re. LDS apologetics are valid, then they stand on their merits.

            But if they were not valid, then you wouldn’t need to resort to the ad hominem fallacy, would you?

            And in any event, I don’t see that Dan represents the faith any less than “reasonably well.”

            Please note that his rudest guest here has made a point of labelling him “unchristlike” without even bothering to consider that Jesus himself would be “unchristlike” by the hyper-critical hypocrite’s [double] standards.

            You see, Jesus said far meaner things about his opponents than Dan has about his.

            But apart from that, the main point here is that you have admitted that he has not tried to “promote himself as exemplary of the faith.”

            At least, not in any way that normal people would recognise such self-promotion.

            You had to invent a unique category of self-promotion in order to try to hang it on Dan.

            You failed.

            Time to give up, I think.

          • Steve Lowther


            Dan Peterson, Kiwi is defending you by trying to convince us as a Mormon and apologist, you are very mediocre!

            Love it!

          • kiwi57

            Mr Lowther,

            Your “braying jackass” schtick, which you have certainly mastered, is starting to grow old.

            I note with interest that while you purport to respond to my post, you have failed entirely to address the fact that your invented double standard is one by which even Christ would fail to be Christ-like; which makes it entirely useless, even if it were not a purely hypocritical excuse of a very personal ad hominem. Which, of course, it is.

            Instead, you had to resort to putting words in my mouth and attributing to me something I did not say.

            Did you perhaps hope that your braying jackassery would distract your readers long enough for your dishonesty to go unnoticed?

            If so, then I’m sorry to disappoint.

          • Steve Lowther

            LOL! Of course it is a double standard! I have no motivation to live up to the hypocritical standards of the LDS! I certainly do not want to emulate Dan’s conduct here nor yours.

            But you do get really pissed, I see, when I point out that you are not living up to your standards.

            Pretty typical.

          • kiwi57

            Translation: he’s never “promoted himself” as an “exemplary believer in Mormonism” at all. You merely wished to hang that label on him in order to make him an easier target.

            Thank you for that admission.

          • Steve Lowther

            Who are you quoting and directing your straw man argument?

          • Steve Lowther

            And of course you would be more charitable, kinder, and superior if other people would be! Way to turn the other cheek, Dan!

        • RogersDW

          Hit birds flutter.

          • kiwi57

            No doubt that explains the very energetic fluttering by Lowther, RT et al.

          • Steve Lowther

            LOL! What was that, Kiwi? Couldn’t read your post for all the fluttering! ;)

      • http://youngbloods.org Carl Youngblood

        Way to turn the other cheek Dan. Never one to avoid a confrontation.

        • DanielPeterson

          You’re never one, Carl Youngblood, to avoid a condemnation, are you?

          I contradicted her on a matter of fact: She claims that “almost everything you people write” — a category that surely includes my writing — is divisive, sarcastic, and divisive. I simply pointed out that her characterization is plainly and demonstrably untrue.

          I’m coming to understand that you would prefer to avoid disagreements about fact in order to concentrate, instead, on personal criticisms and public judgments of other people. But, really, you’ve got to allow for differences in taste.

      • Wheatwoman

        The tone of your response is exactly what I expected. I follow
        and read what you write, Mr. Peterson. I read your articles, I read your responses to other people’s articles, and I read your responses to criticism. It’s astounding to me that a scholar such as you bristles and reacts so swiftly to criticism – any criticism from any person. You become dismissive and overwrought. Even of someone like me – a harmless fuzzball you don’t even know. I responded to your article and the article you referenced by Greg Smith. There was nothing sarcastic in my comment. You can take or leave my opinions, but it seems leaving an opposing opinion is notoriously difficult for you.

        I happen to agree with many of the things you and Greg Smith say, but have serious reservations with your and his manner. I don’t live in Utah. I live in Detroit. Where I’m from, Mormons can’t afford to be insulting and dismissive of people who disagree with them. We try our level best to create connections with people we have literally nothing in common with. And when we are attacked publicly or in the newspaper, we don’t respond with sarcasm. We take them a plate of brownies and make peace. As the person in charge at the Maxwell Institute, how could you devote even one ounce of energy to publishing a paper that tears down another
        member of our church? It doesn’t make a particle of difference what you think of John Dehlin’s politics or his approach to the gospel. The idea of this kind of paper being published at the Maxwell Institute itself is offensive. Would to God that you had only published articles like the ones you referenced.

        As an aside, I read “Nephi and his Asherah” over and over and sent to it to my entire extended family. It is one of my very favorite
        articles. But, if I thought it was ridiculous and wrote to you saying I
        thought this, I can’t help wondering how you would respond. That is the issue.

        • DanielPeterson

          You don’t know me, Wheatwoman, and, plainly, you don’t understand me, because you misread me so completely. You’ve got me completely wrong. (Moreover, by the way, you don’t know the back story to the Smith/Dehlin piece. There’s absolutely no reason why you should, and I can’t tell it to you. But it would be relevant.)

          Yet you presume to judge me. And you complain because, although far less judgmental of you than you’ve been of me, I don’t seem to appreciate your condemnation enthusiastically enough. The irony is thick enough to cut with a knife. Nonetheless, I wish you all the best.

          • Wheatwoman

            You’re right. I don’t know you personally. I only have the articles you write (which I am not attacking and have always admired) and the way you respond to criticism (a growing body of mostly online words that may supercede the stellar academic work you’ve done.) As I wrote, I read what you write and have done so ever since you were my husband’s Middle Eastern Studies prof at BYU nearly 20 years ago. I had a very favorable opinion of you until I began to see the way you deal with criticism – literally any criticism from any person. How can you not see that your withering sarcasm is *the* problem?

          • DanielPeterson

            My “withering sarcasm”? Golly, Wheatwoman, you must lead a very sheltered life if you consider what I write “witheringly sarcastic.”


          • Wheatwoman

            “Golly, it’s so refreshing that you generously provide such concrete examples of your delightful sarcasm.” THAT is sarcasm.

          • h_nu

            Wheatwoman, upon reading your judgmental remarks and learning that you live near Detroit, my first fear was running into such a horrible person in the Temple. Upon further reflection, I remembered that such a person as yourself, probably won’t be found there.

          • DanielPeterson

            Yes. I’m reacting to you with humor because it’s not my nature or my habit to brutally assault people, even when I think what they’re saying is completely wrong and/or insulting.

            And I’m entirely serious. If you consider what I write “witheringly sarcastic,” you must live in a very sheltered world. Perhaps I should envy you that, but I’m simply not the hypersensitive, mean-spirited person you claim that I am, and there’s nothing in what I write to suggest that I am.

            And I really do wish you well. I simply think you’re wrong-headed on the point you’ve tried to make here.

          • Wheatwoman

            I’ve been chewing on these emails for the last three days, staying up late and feeling totally justified in saying the things I’ve said. But all day today, I just felt like crap. Bullying is such a trending topic right now. Everytime I open up CNN, there’s at least one new article talking about the problem of online bullying. The thing that’s been going through my head all day is the phrase “justified bullying” . Kids often feel like it’s ok to bully someone they perceive as being wrong and/or stronger. And then it hit me. I’ve been doing exactly that on this forum. Worse, I’ve been acting like a troll, and I hate trolls!

            I spent some time re-reading my comments and played a bit of role reversal. I really feel terrible about the things I’ve written and I would totally understand if any and all readers thought I was being insincere, but I couldn’t be more sincere. I just got caught up in the feeling that I was right, and then I used that feeling to justify acting like a jackass. I can’t say my feelings about Greg Smith’s article has changed, just that I’m sorry for the way I went about criticizing him. It really was rude and I’m very sorry. Best wishes.

          • DanielPeterson

            Thank you for your comment above, Wheatwoman. I hope you’ve had a pleasant Sabbath.

            I would say “No hard feelings,” but, since I don’t know who you are, that would have little practical point.

            Again, I wish you the best.

          • Steve Lowther

            Close but no cigar, Dan. You came so close to writing something charitable but fell flat on your face.

          • Steve Lowther

            I wonder if the Savior would call your sarcasm “humor”?

          • Steve Lowther

            Why of course it wasn’t sarcasm! Why your words could have come from the Savior’s mouth while he was teaching the Beatitudes!

            It’s your attitude that got you in trouble, Dan. It is your lack of Christlike demeanor, not owning up to your failings, and blaming others. And no, I am making absolutely no pretense of being Christlike. I am not the issue here.

          • RT

            Dan, the irony is completely in your words. And although she, in your view, has been “far more judgmental” of you than you have of her (ridiculous in itself: “brattier, more insulting, and more sarcastic than anything I’ve ever published”), you wish her all the best. How noble of you!

          • DanielPeterson

            Yes, it was rather nice of me. I didn’t have to do it and, having been publicly attacked by an anonymous stranger, couldn’t really have been blamed if I hadn’t, but I’m pleased that you noticed.

            You don’t seem, however, to have noticed that the terms that offend you in my response to her were comparative adjectives drawn from her opening post. That was deliberate.

          • Steve Lowther

            And again he revs up his Mormon Denial Mechanism. I don’t think Wheatwoman’s point could have been illustrated any better by you, Dan.

        • mike

          I am sorry wheatwoman, but I find your response hypocritical. You made a conscious decision to make accusations against Dan’s work and that of the Institute, to say nothing of the insinuations you make about brattiness and the like. And yet you go on to demand tolerance and civility from Dan while failing to present these same traits yourself? I see no problem in Dan defending his good name and his life’s work. And I say this as a fellow Midwesterner who believes in Midwest values.

        • Anyotheruser

          “There was nothing sarcastic in my comment.”

          “It sounded like it was written by a bratty, precocious BYU coed”

          You can surely see why some people might react to that?

          Incidentally, however imperfectly it was done in the past, it’s difficult to see how the present Maxwell Institute (with its seeming primary aim of now engaging in secular religious studies) is better equipped to ‘intelligently defend the faith’.

          • Wheatwoman

            There is a world of difference between sarcasm and criticism. I did criticise Greg Smith’s piece. I read it and it sounded to me like it was written by a bratty BYU coed and I said so. I realize you and others completely disagree with my criticism, but do you really not understand the difference?

            I’m neither a scholar nor an apologist. I’m a reader who has responded to an article that I think was poorly written. I disagree with the author’s conclusions. Attacking me for criticizing the author accomplishes two things – neither of them good for apologetics – it makes the author and editor seem insecure, and it casts a shadow on any other articles they might have in the works. I will probably never read another article by Greg Smith or Daniel Peterson again. It’s thoroughly demoralizing to observe their online behavior here and elsewhere on the internet.

            As to whether the present Maxwell Institute is better equipped; intelligently defending the faith requires more than just sound scholarship. To be effective, there has to be humility and respectful responses to people who disagree with or criticize your work.

          • DanielPeterson

            I understand the difference between sarcasm and criticism, and between insults and criticism.

            That’s why I responded to your sarcastic insults the way I did. (Do you really not understand how, from the very first, your choice of words — “defensive,” “sarcastic,” “divisive,” “bratty . . . BYU coed,” “not a scholar who is intelligently defending the faith,” “dismissive,” “demoralizing,” disrespectful, lacking “humility,” incapable of handling opinions that differ — comes across to at least some of us?)

            You could have argued that Dr. Smith’s evidence didn’t support his conclusions, or given specific examples of his alleged poor writing, and you could have done so without demeaning attacks. But you didn’t. Moreover, you reacted with easily demonstrable (but insulting) untruths (e.g., “the defensive, sarcastic, divisive tone that dominates almost everything you people write,” along with the accusation, though you don’t know me and have certainly never had any access to my inbox and probably don’t track the attacks on me that occur daily across various regions of the Web, that I plainly can’t handle criticism). And then, on top of that, you insinuate that the targets of your insults are behaving poorly and lack humility and respect — and suggest that, because of their horrible behavior, you probably won’t be able to read anything from either of them again.

            That seems quite disproportionate and over the top. But, of course, it’s your choice — and I continue to wish you well. Fortunately, reading the works of Greg Smith and Dan Peterson isn’t required for salvation.

  • Craig A Mills

    Dear John Dehlin,

    “The living prophets, if they seem monotonous, are simply reporting what they know from the living God. The fact that it is essentially the same message from dispensation to dispensation merely confirms the truth of such utterances. Monotony does not lessen verity. We may grow tired of hearing that the earth is round, but our boredom will not change its shape.” Neal A Maxwell

    • Steve Lowther

      Milk gets monotonous when meat is promised and never delivered.

  • Mormon


    I feel sorry for you. I know what it’s like to cultivate an organization and then have it turn on you. Few things cut as deeply, and so few people can relate.

    I think you’re going to publish yourself into even more of a corner if you keep writing stuff like this. Better to take a page from Given’s or Bushman’s book and become a more conciliatory thought-leader, no? Aaron didn’t have much success until he adopted Ammon’s tactics. Maybe there’s a lesson for you in that?

    Alternatively, maybe you could become the Glenn Beck of the bloggernacle? I’m not sure that will work, though. Unlike the Tea Party, far right Mormons are loyal to the church first and their ideology second. It’s a principle of discipleship. You’ve been stripped of your badge and gun, and far right Mormons don’t like outlaws.

    Far right Mormons are also dwindling in numbers, and I think the church understands this and is beginning to accept the need for faster evolution in response to changing Mormon demographics. There are those who oppose that approach, I’m sure, but the more pragmatic leaders are starting to realize that the church’s ability to maintain its monopoly over the communal aspects of Mormon life depends entirely on its ability to reengage cultural Mormons like me and other Dehlin-lovers who embrace and celebrate their Mormon identity while openly doubting or rejecting some or all of the foundational myths. What seems clear–particularly in light of your dismissal–is that the church is no longer interested in retreating further into increasingly pedantic debate over whether its truth claims are really true. That’s progress. There are far more important questions in the collective of Mormonism than whether it’s actually true.

    I believe I would probably return to fully tithed activity if the church got much more intentional about making me feel welcome. I see evidence that this is happening, and I find it encouraging. But it’s happening slower than I’d like, and it makes me wonder if it’s just so much PR or actually sincere. If the church doesn’t speed things up, folks like me are going to find a way to maintain the Mormon community and culture we love without LDS supplements. If the church fails to evolve before we figure that out, then I think the first major competitor of LDS religion–a reform Mormonism that emphasizes Mormon culture and lifestyle while de-emphasizing the mythology–will take root and spread quickly. Those of us that are trying to make that happen vacillate between actually trying to make it happen and wishing the church we were born into, raised in, and gave hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours to would evolve to meet our needs.

    Like Bushman and Givens, you could help accelerate the shift I hope to see in the church. I think most of the church wants this to happen. You would be celebrated and likely returned to a place of honor and respect if you shifted your tone. No one’s stopping you but you.

    Or you could keep doing what you’re doing. I’m sure you’re surrounded by a few lemmings and crazies who encourage you to keep fighting.

    You can always stop listening to them.

    I’m completely serious.

    Warm regards. And my best to your family. I’m sure they’ve struggled with you through this trying time.

    • DanielPeterson

      No need to feel sorry for me. I’m doing fine, and will soon be doing even better.

      Not, though, through selling out.

      But I’d be happy to welcome you back.

      • Steve Lowther

        Your superiors have no problem with your academics, Dan. They have a problem with your attitude.

      • Steve Lowther

        Well, now that you edited your response, it does come across as more congenial. I approve of the edits!

    • Bryce Haymond

      “What seems clear … is that the church is no longer interested in retreating further into increasingly pedantic debate over whether its truth claims are really true. That’s progress. There are far more important questions in the collective of Mormonism than whether it’s actually true.”

      Oh, that’s rich! lol

      • Steve Lowther

        I, agree, Bryce. The more one digs, the more difficult it is to defend, pedantic or not. The General Authorities of the Church have repeated over and over that the foundation of the Church depends wholly upon whether Joseph Smith did in fact do as he claimed.

        Now that the harvest of evidence is ever mounting that he was a fraud, there are basically only two tactics left for the critic: ad hominem attack and the pedant’s avalanche.

        Indeed those are the only two currently employed.

        • Bryce Haymond

          I think you misunderstood me, Steve. I was quoting the previous commenter, and was noting how ridiculous it was. There is nothing more important in Mormonism than its truth claims, for that is why it exists. Claiming that the church is backing away from its truth claims and focusing on other “more important questions” is absurd.

          • Steve Lowther

            Yet, the Church backing away from its truth claims seems to be precisely what it is doing.

            Ever notice that Native Americans today are rarely referred to as “Lamanites” even though Joseph Smith and successors used the reference freely?

            Even wonder why so much of Church history is an embarrassment?

            Perhaps one of those important questions is why does the Church historically set its anchor when society is trying to eliminate the evils of some of its social norms such as racism, misogyny, polygamy, slavery, and homophobia?

            Well, okay, polygamy was never the norm, but an acknowledged evil nonetheless.

            The question is would God’s True Church encourage or discourage these changes?

            By their fruits ye shall know them.

          • Bryce Haymond

            I don’t see the Church backing away from its truth claims at all. On the contrary, it has perhaps never before taught more potently than today the reality of the First Vision, the calling of the prophet Joseph Smith, the restoration of the fullness of the Gospel, the divine origin of the Book of Mormon, the authority of the priesthood of God restored on Earth, etc.

            Regarding the Native Americans as the Lamanites, you might be interested to read this recent paper in Interpreter: http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/written-to-the-lamanites-understanding-the-book-of-mormon-through-native-culture-and-religion/

            No, I don’t consider Church history an embarrassment. It is a rich history of the restoration of the Christ’s Gospel in the latter days, fulfilling prophecy dating back to Adam. As President Boyd K. Packer once said, “This is a supernal work. The mind of man could not have conceived it. It is true.”

            Can you give an example of how the Church has “set its anchor” with regards to eliminating racism, misogyny, polygamy, slavery, and homophobia? As far as I can see, the Church today has taken a lead in the world in each of these areas, in decrying belittlement and intolerance of any group of people.

            Yes, by their fruits yet shall know them, and those fruits are marvelous indeed.

      • Steve Lowther

        Perhaps one of those important questions is why does the Church historically set its anchor when society is trying to eliminate the evils of some of its social norms such as racism, misogyny, polygamy, slavery, and homophobia? Well, okay, polygamy was never the norm, but an acknowledged evil nonetheless.

        The question is would God’s True Church encourage or discourage these changes?

        By their fruits ye shall know them.

    • DanielPeterson

      No need to feel sorry for me, “Mormon.” I’m doing fine, and there are even better things on the horizon.

      And I didn’t have to suppress my beliefs for that to happen.

      Much of what you say above is, in my opinion, quite false. But I hope you find your way back into the Church.

    • Scott_Lloyd

      It’s clear that “Mormon” wants not just to be welcomed back into the Church but to hi-jack it and remake it to suit his preferences. If that doesn’t happen soon enough for his liking, he says, he and others will start some sort of competing group.

      If the threatened scenario does transpire, the result will merely be the latest variation in a long string of apostate splinter organizations that have emerged since the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith which, if they thrive or survive at all, are man-made structures devoid of authority to administer the saving principles and ordinances of the gospel.

      Meanwhile, the Church of Jesus Christ is harmed not at all but remains what the name denotes: the Church founded and governed by the Savior Himself through the instrumentality of prophets and apostles.

    • DanielPeterson

      Don’t be worried about me or my family. We’re doing fine, and even better things are on the horizon — without any need for me to jettison my faith or compromise my principles.

      Should you decide to return to the Church by conforming yourself to the Lord’s will and commandments, though, I’ll be delighted to welcome you.

  • Lucy Mcgee

    Actually, there is much that Dr. Sorenson didn’t cover in his “Open Letter”. In order to analyze the podcast in depth, one would need a written transcript of the thing in its entirety, then analyze each point; a large task.

    You have not fully covered this podcast in your critique of Dehlin and I would argue that Dr. Coe could defend his various positions given the overall breadth and depth of the archeological record which exists. The Book of Mormon simply doesn’t fit into what the vast majority of scientists know of these ancient cultures. Dr. Coe’s understanding is not out of date, far from it.

    The reason that you didn’t sell me, is simply a matter of looking at what the vast, vast majority of scientists understand about the ancient cultures of Mesoamerica and that none of them would place the Book of Mormon within that history. In other words, LDS findings aren’t corroborated.

    Today, scientists are using Lidar technology to map ancient architectural sites beneath jungle canopy. I’ve not read anything linking the LDS Church to an interest in this technology and its use in finding ancient BOM cities in Central America. For LDS archeologists this would seem to be a huge breakthrough.

    It should also be mentioned that Dr. Coe considers Joseph Smith to be one of the greatest men who ever lived, which wasn’t discussed. He believes this was shown in “No Man Knows My History”. Coe has massive respect for what Joseph Smith accomplished as an amazing leader with a huge intellect and believes that he was an anomalous human who after gathering a following, believed in what he was offering the world.

    Non of this, or the early history of the faith in the “burned over district”, with its similarities to other religions of the time, was ever discussed.

    Again, if you want to offer a fair critique of the Dehlin/Coe podcast, it is my sincere belief that much more work should be done. Doing less, never offering positive statements by Coe/Dehlin, isn’t a very in depth analysis at all. I wouldn’t call it scholarship.

    • DanielPeterson

      Dr. Sorenson’s more complete statement is in his book “Mormon’s Codex.” It’s not as if he hasn’t published anything on the topic.

    • Gregory Smith

      I can only again point out that I did not make the argument about an ancient setting, so am not surprised you were unpersuaded by an argument I did not make.

      I was interested in rhetorical tactics, not the science. (And I _do_ discuss the kind tone of both Coe and Dehlin. But, being told you manufacture evidence like Marxists do is the same claim whether said nicely or in a mean way.)

      Whether someone chooses to award the label of “scholarship” is immaterial to the validity of my argument or conclusions–and such debates over such labels are usually an effort to not engage those evidence or arguments. If unscholarly, rebutting should be easier. But, no one has done so.

      Many arguments could be made from the same data. I chose one. Sorenson made another.

  • Steve Lowther

    I am a critic of the Church. These comments, this infighting among the apologists, are indicative of the systemic problem: hypocrisy. In truth, one rarely sees the Christlike example one would expect from the apologists of the True Church, especially DCP’s comments. But then, it is sadly a rare event to ever see an exchange of differences of opinion involving LDS apologetics that one does not need to invoke “the Gospel is perfect but its members are not”.

    It seems to me the comments here as a whole are gilded evidence as to why the change in the Maxwell Institute was made. I am embarrassed for you.

    • DanielPeterson

      Thanks, Steve Lowther, for your very kind and charitable post. I realize that the temptation to pronounce judgment upon an unchristlike person such as I is almost overwhelming, but you resisted it!

    • Darren

      “I am a critic of the Church.”


      “I am embarrassed for you.”
      You should be embarrassed for Steve Lowther’s posts. They are really that stupid.

    • Darren

      Steve Lowther;

      “It seems to me the comments here as a whole are gilded evidence as to why the change in the Maxwell Institute was made.”

      Well, obviously you’re not christlike or charitable because that statement alone places you in the range of being completely oblivious to the Maxwell Institute shakeup to outright liar.

      • Steve Lowther

        Poor, Darren. Perhaps you should read a few of my posts before you make a total fool of yourself.

        “Well, obviously you’re not christlike or charitable because that
        statement alone places you in the range of being completely oblivious to
        the Maxwell Institute shakeup to outright liar.”

        Non sequitur. But I have to admit it is difficult to criticize babbling.

  • Michael Chevrier

    Daniel Peterson-Maybe your sarcasm wouldn’t scream insecurity to so many people if it was actually funny sometimes. Just a thought.

    • DanielPeterson

      Would you consider writing material for me, Mr. Chevrier?

      Perhaps that would help.

      • Steve Lowther

        You certainly need someone to do it, Dan. What are you offering in exchange?

        • kiwi57

          I think Dan should keep looking. All his hecklers tell him he should tone down the “snark,” not ramp it up to stratospheric heights.

  • Steve Lowther

    John Dehlin is a bridge builder. History has demonstrated that those who are building bridges and take a position in the middle will receive fire from both sides.

    Funny thing that people on both sides don’t see that he wants to do good, maybe even earn a bit of acknowledgement. But I am not much of a psychologist. Perhaps there is some other reason he is out there performing his act in no man’s land, a target closer than the opposite sides are from each other.

    I have seen the huge amount of flak he received from the
    critical side. I have seen the equal amount of flak from
    the apologetic side. Not sure I would have the stuff to survive that kind of abuse. John is probably questioning his own stamina at this point.

    I would never want to be in his position. I am sure he is paying a huge price in stress. But then the bridge builder is the one who earns the admiration of the historian and people who follow. Often the bridge builder unwittingly gets tagged with unwanted martyr status. That’s definitely happening from what I can see.

    It would be much, much easier if he were a rabid apologist like
    DCP. Or a rabid critic like me. But for some reason he sees himself as
    the guy who wants to bring people together.

    Funny how both sides will apply the same epithets to him. We both like to call him names like “traitor”.

    John Dehlin the traitor. Works for me! Does it work for you, Daniel Peterson?

    Okay, sad kind of funny.

    • DanielPeterson

      As someone who (a) has himself never been so much as criticized and who (b) is, anyway, “rabid,” I literally have no idea what it must feel like to be an unjustly attacked innocent like John Dehlin.

    • Stephen Smoot

      Dehlin is indeed a prodigious Pontifex. The problem is, he’s building a bridge to nowhere…

      • Steve Lowther

        I hope you are right. Even though the GAs are making an effort to reach out to the disaffected, I certainly don’t want them to succeed.

    • ClintonKing

      I’m just replying here, instead of any of the numerous posts below.
      I like Dan Peterson. I like his apologetics. I am a fully invested member of LDS church. I am a hypocrite. I’ve told numerous people, including complete strangers, of my appalling inability to live Christ-like standards.
      I’m happy to have Dan Peterson as a representative of my faith, and I have and will continue to direct those who have questions about my faith to his writings.

      • Steve Lowther

        The LDS Church is an organization that has historically reacted to civil rights as if setting an anchor to preserve the artifacts of barbarism with reassurances like “everyone was racist” or “everyone was sexist”.

        To me the True Church would lead the way in improving the civil rights for the oppressed, whether it be racism, sexism, or homophobia. When this entrenched mentality happens, you will get an organization that cannot help but promote elitism, denial, and hypocrisy.

        But then I rather like Dan Peterson, too, because I also want investigators who have questions about your faith to read his writings, especially his snarky, unchristlike responses to criticism.

        Elucidation has more than one wave length.

        • ClintonKing

          I guess we have very different ideas about what the True Church and God himself, for that matter, have (or would have) as priorities.

  • DanielPeterson

    Thanks, Steve Lowther, for this expression of love.

    • Steve Lowther

      Oh, now you have really hurt my feelings!! Love how you keep trying to hold me to Mormon standards. Doesn’t seem to work very well in a debate forum, does it?

  • DanielPeterson

    And so Steven Lowther couples the ever-useful tool of the double standard with the always helpful instrument of the false accusation in order to create a formidable weapon.

    • Steve Lowther

      Yeah, something like that. I sincerely hope you continue to snark to prove my point, Dan. You don’t disappoint.

    • Steve Lowther

      Christ was embracing living with a double standard when he taught to turn the other cheek, was he not? However, you seem to think otherwise, illustrating precisely why you were dismissed.

      Dan, compliments are great and even soul satisfying. But you are a fool not to learn from your critics who offer you something of much greater value.

      You learn it, you will advance. You play to your pride, you will stagnate.

    • Steve Lowther

      And of course you generalize, don’t substantiate, and resort to an ad hominem attack, Dan. Typical of your apologetic approach. Jesus would be proud.

      • kiwi57

        So, “ad hominem attacks” are something you don’t approve of, I take it?

        Then why is it that you never post anything else?

        • Steve Lowther

          Projecting is so useful when you can’t think of something useful, eh, Kiwi? All of my posts were about the tone and spirit of Peterson’s apologetics. His offensive tone is prima facie. I am describing said tone.

  • DanielPeterson

    Thanks, Steve Lowther, for yet another example of love that refuses to condescend!

    • Steve Lowther

      I thought it was obvious what I am saying that I am neither Christian nor turning the other cheek. I am the cheek slapper. If you claim to be a Christian, then why are you having such a difficult time comprehending this?

      Once again, I could not be more pleased that you respond the way you do. I proves my point.

      • kiwi57

        Mr Lowther,

        A self-proclaimed “cheek slapper” scolding others for not turning the other cheek is the very essence of hypocrisy. Something which you therefore have no grounds to criticise anyone else about.

        Actually when a “cheek slapper” demands that his target turn the other cheek — presumably to make his job easier — he is being nothing but a bully. Whining because the targets of your bullying are not giving you the entertainment you demand does not make anyone admire you.

        If — and only if — you are prepared to hold yourself to the same standard (turning the other cheek) you may then criticise someone else for not living up to it.

        But not otherwise.

  • DanielPeterson

    I’m just too stupid, Steve Lowther, to understand that, according to your explicit double standard, I’ve already been pronounced guilty of your false accusation.

    • Steve Lowther

      One more time, Dan. I will type this real slow so you can comprehend it: I am not the one who dismissed you. Your superiors did. THEY do not like that you are unchristlike. I like it! It keeps you from being effective. Keep them snarks a-rollin’!

      • kiwi57

        And you know that he was fired for being “unchristlike” how, exactly?

        Because Mister Dehlin says so?

  • DanielPeterson

    You’ve been very prolific of late, Steve Lowther. Thank you for so patiently modeling the way of Love and Christianity for me. I’m pretty dense, though, so you may have to write several dozen more expressions of uncondescending love before I really grasp it.

    • Steve Lowther

      Your denial mechanism is revved up even more than most apologists, Dan. I have repeated over and over I am not Christian. I actually WANT you to be snarky and continue to show that Mormonism is an organization of hypocrites.

      Yes, you are not impressive with how quickly you pick up on the obvious, Dan. Dense is definitely one term for it. Denial is another. Keep on snarking, my friend! It keeps your talent under a bushel!

  • DanielPeterson

    Spoken like Mr. Charity himself, Steve Lowther!

    • Steve Lowther

      So you awarded me the title of Mr. Charity? Why? I am not nor claim to be charitable. I do not hold to Christian ideals because I am not Christian. You do.

      Don’t transfer your ideals to me. They are your ideals that you are not living up to, and it is because you don’t observe them you were dismissed. However, I would be surprised that in your denial you would ever be able to understand this.

      You turn investigators off by your snarky comments. That’s fine with me. I want to do the same thing.

  • DanielPeterson

    I’m studying your many posts, Steven Lowther, in order to learn what grace and non-snarky charity look like.

    Thanks for sending so many of them today.

    • Steve Lowther

      Dan, I am not Christlike in most of my posts. I don’t claim to be. Neither do I claim to speak in support of Christian ideals nor Christ’s only true church restored in the last dispensation. You do. As such you fall far short of the mark. That is why you were dismissed. Instead of learning the obvious truth, you are participating in a self pity party.

      That’s fine by me.

      • Darren

        “Dan, I am not Christlike in most of my posts. I don’t claim to be. Neither do I claim to speak in support of Christian ideals nor Christ’s only true church restored in the last dispensation. ”

        WHAT???? Say it ain’t so!!!! ;>)

        Steve Lowther: “Darren, Dan never told you about me.”
        Darren: “He told me enough, he told you’re charitable.”
        Steve Lowther: “No, I am not christlike.”
        Darren: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUJa4MoYnHE

  • DanielPeterson

    So let me get this straight. You want me to keep offering my cheek so that you can keep slapping it, and, if I don’t, you’re going to have to condemn me — more in sorrow than in anger, of course — for my lack of character.

    Thank you for writing all these posts today. I hope that the next several hours will bring a couple of dozen more.

    • Steve Lowther

      Flunk. Got it wrong again. You embrace your own Christian standards, and when you fail to do that, you are embracing hypocrisy.

      Really very obvious, Dan.

  • Gregory Smith

    The ad hominem abusive fallacy, coupled with the style over substance fallacy, merged with a lack of citation to the paper.

    I realize in some circles it is not thought “charitable” or “nice” to speak the truth plainly, I’m not persuaded that this is true, however.

  • Steve Lowther

    You nailed it, Greg! You can request it, but you have no power of censorship. Seems you are beginning to understand the obvious.

    • Gregory Smith

      Happily, Pope Alexander III was a more subtle moral reasoner.

      • Steve Lowther

        Good for him. So you model your reasoning after the Borgia Pope. Good for you.

        • kiwi57

          Mr Lowther,

          It’s bad enough that you have to rely upon ad hominem arguments; it gets worse when you compound them with errors of fact.

          Pope Alexander III was the former Roland of Siena, i.e. an Italian. Rodrigo (or Roderic) Borgia, a Spaniard, was Pope Alexander VI. He lived 300 years later.

          Which merely highlights the fact that the ad hominem fallacy remains fallacious. It wouldn’t matter if the moral argument in question was formulated by Alexander III, Alexander VI or Tsar Alexander II; the argument has to be treated on its merits.

          What a pity you don’t know how to do that.

          • Steve Lowther

            Yep, I did make a mistake there. Missed my papal suffix!

            For penance, I’ll go eat a worm. LOL!

  • Steve Lowther

    I would be curious to know why you say he didn’t read your hit piece. Was it because no one read it? How did he know about it? Did he come to that conclusion because of your priors? Was he just completely unaware of your fair and balanced treatment? Silly of him to object, wasn’t it?!

    • Gregory Smith

      Someone told him about it, who had been leaked information from the Maxwell Institute. No one had read it.

      • kiwi57

        Let’s see.

        Mister Dehlin kicked up a mighty fuss that anyone would dare to examine his claims, and moved heaven and earth to try to stop the publication.

        Nevertheless, the review was published.

        But Greg “lost.”


  • Steve Lowther

    I suppose it was to his detriment that he objected to your hit piece. If he only had read it, he would have love it, right? John Dehlin is just so closed minded!!

    • Scott Clark

      If you say it over and over maybe that will make it true. I don’t think so but it looks like you might be up to giving it a try.

      Dehlin is out there making claims and he is just as subject to a critique as anyone else is out there making claims especially so as he is on the giving end of criticism of the church and its leaders.

      I didn’t find Greg Smith’s article a hit piece but you will have all sorts of reasons why I wouldn’t. So be it.

      • Steve Lowther

        As you wrote, “If you say it over and over maybe that will make it true.” Considering that I am not the only one restating.

        There are those from both the critic and apologetic sides that hate John Dehlin. He seems to be the only one exercising any Christlike qualities here.

        So be it.

        • kiwi57

          I don’t know anyone who hates Mr Dehlin; although I’m aware of some who are wary of his self-promotion and continual changes of position. I count myself among that number.

          When speaking to believers, Dehlin describes his “Mormon Stories” project as favourable to the Church; when speaking to anti-Mormons, he assures them that it is subversive of belief . You choose to characterise that as “bridge building.” To me, it doesn’t sound at all like “bridge building.” It sounds a lot more like talking out of both sides of his mouth.

          You claimed that Greg Smith’s article was “quite obviously an attack piece.” How that could be “obvious” before it was read is something that has yet to be explained.

          Your accusation is false, which appears to be how you like it.

          • Steve Lowther

            Kiwi, having seen only snark and hatred from you, your words are far from convincing. You are supposed to be the someone who emulates Christ and avoiding judgment of others, but I have yet to see a single post that even comes close to conforming to Christian ideals.

            But then I would only be stating the obvious.

  • RogersDW

    At least we can give Steve the benefit of having learned one word quite well in his life: “snark.”

    • Steve Lowther

      Yep. Too bad Dan hasn’t taken the term to heart! If he had, he wouldn’t have been dismissed!

  • DanielPeterson

    For those reading the comments here:

    Welcome to Lowtherworld!

    Feel free to respond to the prolific Mr. Lowther or not. Plainly, it makes little or no difference to HIM.

    • Steve Lowther

      Why did you grab and shoot off your flare gun, Dan? Need a little help? One-on-one getting a little overwhelming for you?

      But you are right, it does make little or no difference to me. Why should it?

      You have a major scotoma, and it is the nature of a spiritual scotoma to manifest itself in anger and helplessness.

  • Darren

    Goooooooooooooood grief [certain] people. Dan Peterson’s snarkiness / sarcasm is hilarious. Please, just laugh at it and to those taking offense by it, chill out, will you? God’s not togoing to drop the mighty hammer on Dan just because he responds sacrcastically. It’s a way to disagree without letting the dsagreement become a mental/emotional polemic issue.

    • DanielPeterson

      Precisely. You get it, Darren. I use irony precisely because I’m disinclined to use a meat axe. I try to use humor because I don’t think everything ought to be a grimly serious battle to the death.

      What’s oddly amusing is that many of my critics, in excoriating my supposed mean-spiritedness and lack of Christianity, treat me far, far more harshly than I have ever treated anybody or would ever dream of treating anybody.

      I’ll say this for the prolific Mr. Lowther: At least he openly avows his double standard.

      • Steve Lowther

        And I bet you feel better for stepping on a june bug rather than hitting it with a hammer. But I do suppose your efforts at sarcasm equate to some kind of attempt at humor. Do keep practicing, however. I am sure it helps in perpetuating the self-delusion that you are superior and better positioned for Christlike condescension. and winning converts for the Church. Right?

        And yes, I do not adhere to your standard of Christian behavior. Neither do you. Call it a double standard if it helps fuel your MDM.

        And I love your self-justifaction when you say “What’s oddly amusing is that many of my critics, in excoriating my supposed mean-spiritedness and lack of Christianity, treat me far, far more harshly than I have ever treated anybody or would ever dream of treating anybody.”

        Still not getting it, are you, Dan? It simply is irrelevant how people treat you in setting standards for Christlike behavior. Nevertheless, how you treat people is the primary factor in escalating the dissonance.

        And you remain remarkably clueless as to why your were dismissed. Love it!

    • Steve Lowther

      Nope. Dan is not in danger of a hammer dropping. He does seem to be in a state of confusion why it was already dropped by his superiors. He just can’t seem to figure out that his attitude does the Church more harm than good in public relations.

  • Anyotheruser

    Having read the article in question (and it’s the article by Gregory Smith, not this blog that we’re talking about), I’m not sure ‘spot on’ is an accurate description.

  • kiwi57

    Mr Lowther,

    Dan has not preached anything he hasn’t lived up to. The claim that he “represents the Church” is a false one, intended to set him up as a target. As you know.

    Likewise, your claim that “he was dismissed was because he doesn’t know how to turn the other cheek” is completely made up.

    Lastly, hypocrisy exists anytime anyone enjoins upon another a standard he has no intention of living himself. The people Jesus most consistently scolded for hypocrisy didn’t believe in him any more than you do. In the end, hypocrisy is a fundamental lack of integrity; one that you exhibit in every one of your personal attack posts.

    • Steve Lowther

      Why do you say that?

    • Steve Lowther

      Not preached anything he hasn’t lived up to, Kiwi? Sorry. I thought he was LDS. Or maybe he is the unchristlike form of LDS.

  • kiwi57


    “Your whole reason for being dimissed is because you are not charitable.”


    You have that from the horse’s mouth, do you?

    Or are you just making stuff up?

    • Steve Lowther

      Nope. Anyone not in denial mode can see it. Mr. Peterson loves to insult via condescension. Of course you wouldn’t be able to see that.

      • kiwi57

        Steve Lowther,

        you previously asserted:

        “Your whole reason for being dimissed is because you are not charitable.”

        To which I replied:


        You have that from the horse’s mouth, do you?

        Or are you just making stuff up?”

        In reply to which, you said:

        “Nope. Anyone not in denial mode can see it. Mr. Peterson loves to insult via condescension. Of course you wouldn’t be able to see that.”

        You realise, don’t you, that you’ve dodged the real question? As you know, I wasn’t asking you whether Dan was “insulting” people. As you know, I was asking if you had any basis for your claim that he was dismissed as editor of the Review for being “not charitable.”

        Of course, the notion is absurd on its face. Academic publications are edited by scholars, not philanthropists. But the point is that you have confidently, even dogmatically, asserted that claim in several posts.

        And now, when challenged to support it, all you can do is feebly whine that you feel insulted because of his “condescension” that is so apparent to you (and your ideological friends) but which has absolutely nothing to do with your claim.

        IOW, your claim is baseless.

        Thanks for clearing that up.

        • Steve Lowther

          I don’t feel insulted, but thanks for asking. In reading Dan’s posts, I think the reason is obvious to those who have even vestiges of commons sense. No, I have no proof as I am not privy to the inner workings of that organization. The evidence is strictly deductive. But if I were a leader in a church that claims to be disseminating principles emulating Christ, I would be horrified not at his academics, but the unchristlike way he treats those who disagree with him. It gives the Church a bad name.

          Which I think is fine. The Church has been the source of problems, psychological, social, and emotional, of a huge number of people I have met. It needs to change or shrivel up and die.

          And, by the way, Kiwi, I am delighted that your tone mirrors Dan’s! It is almost effortless to set you off!

          Missionary efforts are how the LDS meme grow, and Dan’s sarcasm and condescension (ooops, I mean humor) turns off investigators, at least the ones with whom I have corresponded.

          Dan’s lack of effort in refuting or at least denying my assertion is very telling.

          • DanielPeterson

            I deny your claims, of course, Steve Lowther. I just don’t feel any obligation to deny your assertions every time you post them, which has been fifteen to twenty times daily for several days now.

          • Steve Lowther

            Missed a perfect opportunity, Dan. Why did you superiors say they dismissed you?

          • Steve Lowther

            Engaging in a bit of hyperbole, Dan? Such is basis and the substance of your apologetics. Avoiding hypocrisy is beyond your capacity I see.

          • kiwi57

            Lowther: “The Church has been the source of problems, psychological, social, and emotional, of a huge number of people I have met. It needs to change or shrivel up and die.”

            Thank you for that bit of textbook anti-Mormon propaganda. Followed by an unexpectedly frank admission of your anti-Mormon agenda.

          • Steve Lowther

            ROFLMAO!! And I even admitted it! LOL!

            Maybe, Kiwi, you ought to take a deep breath and struggle to regain some sense of rationality.

          • kiwi57

            No wonder you have so much to say about “snark.” It’s what you do best.

            You admitted that you want the Church to “shrivel up and die.” If there was anything I wanted to “shrivel up and die,” I wouldn’t have the least problem admitting that I was “anti” that thing.

            But then, I’m not living in denial.

            As far as “rationality” goes, I admit that your posts are not exactly an abundant source.

            But they do make up for it with a plethora of “snark.” Indeed, I venture to say that there is more “snark” in evidence in an average Lowther post than in Dan’s entire corpus of published work.

          • Steve Lowther

            You are absolutely right! I should follow your sterling, Christlike example! But then I don’t pretend to as you do.

            You do believe in emulating Jesus, don’t you? Either way you are a hypocrit!

  • kiwi57

    “A little bird?” IOW, gossip.

    Since you are unwilling to provide a source for us to check, the claim is made on your authority.

    Which means that it has no credibility. At all.

    And of course, Mister Dehlin has no first-hand knowledge of the matter either.

    • Steve Lowther

      Nope. You got it wrong.

      But then, I couldn’t care less what you assume with no evidence.

      • kiwi57

        “No evidence?”

        I’ve read Bradford’s email. Have you?

        Just so you know: Bradford wanted to take the MI away from LDS apologetics and more into academic “religious studies” type of activities and he thought Dan was in the way. Dan being “unchristlike” didn’t figure into it.

        The only ones making assumptions based on “no evidence” are you and your ideological bedfellows when you blithely assume that Dan’s dismissal was ordered from the COB.

        And the motivation for that assumption is pure wishful thinking.

        • Steve Lowther

          So now you are jumping to Bradford’s email, something I haven’t addressed at all. Poor Kiwi. Participating in a cogent conversation can be quite challenging for you, I see.

          • kiwi57


            “So now you are jumping to Bradford’s email, something I haven’t addressed at all.”

            Indeed you have not. What you have done is waffle about “no evidence” when, as it turns out, it is your own constantly-repeated spiteful accusation against Dan thas is based upon no evidence.

            That ol’ double standard is like the Energiser Bunny with you, isn’t it?

          • Steve Lowther

            LOL! You do entangle yourself so easily, Kiwi! Sputtering and fluttering, and stepping on your own toes.

            First accusing me of addressing Bradford’s email, then accusing me of NOT addressing Bradford’s email. I bet Dan love’s being defended by you! LOL!

  • kiwi57

    Except that Dan doesn’t claim to “be representing the Church” to any greater extent than applies to any other member. (Including those self-described members who choose to attack him on his blog.) That claim is hung on him merely to make him an easier target.

    Which means that it’s fundamentally dishonest.

    Still, as a non-Christian, I suppose you can excuse yourself from any inconvenient expectations of honesty, along with all the other moral standards you enjoin upon others but disdain for yourself. Is that right?

    • Steve Lowther

      What did I write that was dishonest, Kiwi, or are you projecting?

      • kiwi57

        Every word you wrote, Mr Lowther. Including “and” and “the.”

        But apart from that, as I rather clearly explained, the claim that he is “supposed to be representing the Church,” any more than any other member, including those who try to curry favour by attacking him, is fundamentally dishonest.

        Because you do it only for rhetorical purposes, don’t you?

        • Steve Lowther

          LOL! Love it! Give you an opportunity to actually present some evidence, and you can’t do anything but sputter and put together an ad hominem attack.

          Thanks for proving my point.

          • kiwi57

            Mr Lowther,

            I explained — in detail, twice — what was dishonest about your claim. Are you genuinely too obtuse to get it, or are you just not honest enough to engage it?

  • kiwi57

    Greg, your article was, I’m happy to say, very good, but more importantly it was at all times entirely honest.

    The fact that only a little coterie of expert nit-pickers find any faults with it counts rather strongly in its favour.

  • Steve Lowther

    I have seen how you cite “admissions”, Greg. Not exactly credible. Forgive me if I don’t trust your assertions.

  • kiwi57

    Thank you, Mr Lowther, for rather predictably regurgitating this stock standard anti-Mormon talking point.

    Like all such points, it is a mixture of truth and falsehood. And the falsehood prevails.

    The notion that the rise of the limited geography (or local colonisation) model of the Book of Mormon represents some kind of “back-pedaling” in the face of “overwhelming” scientific evidence is a popular chestnut in certain circles. That notion is the result of a combination of ignorance and wishful thinking.

    The fact is that the local model is almost as old as the global one, being favourably referenced in Church publications in Joseph Smith’s lifetime. It began to gain ascendancy in LDS scholarly circles in the first third of the 20th century, when critical reading of relevant Book of Mormon passages showed that the major events took place in the same limited area that could be traversed on foot in a matter of days. It has probably been the dominant model in scholarly circles for the last 60 years at least.

    IOW, it long predates the rise of DNA science.

    I’m sorry to be the one to shatter such a cherished article of your unfaith.

    Or at least, I would be, if you were an even remotely pleasant conversation partner.

    • Steve Lowther

      Just dishing out what you are doing, Kiwi. Except you are supposed to be claiming to be following Christ. I’m not.

      Wonder who the hypocrite is here?

      • kiwi57

        Lowther: “Just dishing out what you are doing, Kiwi.”

        No. You are not.

        My standard of online behaviour is vastly better than yours.

        Lowther: “Except you are supposed to be claiming to be following Christ. I’m not.”

        Which doesn’t entitle you to rely upon a double standard. Sorry.

        Lowther: “Wonder who the hypocrite is here?”

        Oh, that’s easy: you are.

        As mentioned already, your invented double standard is one that Jesus himself would fail. Which would be fine if you were willing to hold yourself to it; but you’re not. You’re trying to impose it upon others while exempting yourself. That is the essence of hypocrisy.

        You alone (since RT took my advice and gave up) are trying to claim that your lack of principles entitles you to scold others for their bad behaviour when they are consistently behaving better than you.

        Look around, Steve: you’re not convincing anybody.
        Everyone participating in a common conversation is equally entitled to rely upon the same set of rules.

        Now, my post contained a number of substantive points. Care to address those?

        Or are you not able to?

  • Bryce Haymond

    I recommend a recent article in Interpreter by Gary Gillum on the Native Americans and the Book of Mormon: http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/written-to-the-lamanites-understanding-the-book-of-mormon-through-native-culture-and-religion/

  • kiwi57


    “That is not clear to me by any stretch of the imagination.”

    Then maybe you should try reading instead of merely assuming. “Mormon” is demanding that the Church “evolve to meet [his] needs.” His demand is backed up by a threat: that if the Church doesn’t do what he wants, he and his fellow fringies will start their own competing church that will, he confidently predicts, “take root and spread quickly.”

    Frankly I don’t share his confidence, but hey — if that’s what floats their boat, go for it, I say.

    • Steve Lowther

      So you are speaking for Mormon now? I bet he is relieved! LOL!

  • DanielPeterson

    I have to ask the question: Why is anybody here still attempting conversation with Steve Lowther?

    Mr. Lowther seems, candidly, a bit obsessive; he plainly doesn’t need stimulation from anybody else in order to post; and I don’t actually see any serious interaction going on.

    If we all just ignore him, he’ll probably post at least another fifty or sixty comments just the same. And, quite possibly, many, many more.

  • Gary Ford

    Daniel, I’m surprised that you would feel the need to respond. I think JS and Christ would have just said, “Let it go. Don’t let it bother you.” In every sentence, I read ego-fighting-back. It’s apparent that you still feel anger toward JD and your supervisor. Sincerely, maybe a little more introspection and humility is just what is needed to get over it. You really don’t want to live another 30 years with that kind of need to justify what you do.

    • DanielPeterson

      I appreciate your kind suggestion that I’m unchristlike, unreflective, and driven by ego, anger, and lack of humility. But you’ve got me wrong.

      First of all, I simply favor truth over falsehood and accuracy over inaccuracy. It’s a quirk of mine.

      Secondly, and more directly relevantly, the claim that I was “fired” by order of the Brethren because of my supposed defiance, etc., is not only false but defamatory. I am, on my minor scale, something of a public figure, and, even more precisely, I’m someone who writes for a Mormon audience and tries, more or less, to influence thinking within and about Mormonism. It is, therefore, perfectly understandable, I should think, that I try to keep my reputation intact, and to defend it against false, unjust, and/or malicious criticisms.

      Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
      Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
      Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
      ‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
      But he that filches from me my good name
      Robs me of that which not enriches him
      And makes me poor indeed.

      (Shakespeare, “Othello,” III.iii)

  • http://www.edwinfirmage.com Edwin Firmage, Jr.

    Well, whoever was responsible for seeing that Daniel got the boot gets kudos from me.

    • DanielPeterson


      I was already aware of your position on the matter. You’ve expressed it publicly before.

      By contrast, though, I wish you well. I like your photography, and hope it prospers.