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:

 

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=22&num=1&id=793

 

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=22&num=2&id=806

 

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.

 

 

  • 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

    I
    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.

    Just
    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?

    • The Oracle

      Gregory – Maybe next you can do a paper on how the Mormon Church can claim to be more concerned about the Gospel than on its public image, yet won’t boot out John Dehlin, a worm-like apostate if there ever was one, and in fact, in a conflict, sided with *him* against *you*.

      • kiwi57

        The self-styled Oracle: “the Mormon Church … sided with *him* against *you*.”

        You really missed your calling. You should have written conspiracy-theory fiction, like Dan Brown.

  • 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.”

    http://radiowest.kuer.org/post/reflections-lds-general-conference

  • 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.

      • Stan Barker

        But, you have no hesitancy in judging everyone else, especially Dr. Peterson and Gregory Smith. Can you not see how hypocritical that comes across as?

  • 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:

        http://seesangelsinthearchitecture.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/rollo-review-introduction/

        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.

          • The Oracle

            Greg – This wasn’t Dehlin’s fault. He complained, that’s all. It was the fault of those who quashed your story. You sound like a woman whose husband cheated on her, but who blames the other woman, not her husband.

            You were sold out by church leaders, not John Dehlin.

          • kiwi57

            The self-styled Oracle: “You were sold out by church leaders, not John Dehlin.”

            You’ve slipped back into your habit of lying again.

            You’ve also attempted a Proverbs 6:19 tactic. Well, your sort are usually attempting to sow discord and distrust.

            Mister Dehlin told a tissue of lies about an article he’d never read, and convinced a trusting individual that publication should be put on hold.

            Believing the representations of someone one has no reason to distrust isn’t selling anyone out.

            Your falsehood has failed to reach its target.

          • The Oracle

            Kiwi – What you say makes no sense. John Dehlin might be a liar. In fact, as far as I can see, John Dehlin is a stomach-churning, passive-aggressive weasel which any self-respecting religion would have booted out long ago.

            But John Dehlin’s personality doesn’t change the fact that John Dehlin did not spike Gregory Smith’s article, nor did John Dehlin dismiss Daniel Peterson. Others did, with the complicity no doubt of their superiors. Your ire should be directed at them, if anyone.

          • Stan Barker

            But, if Dehlin hadn’t whined, like a little boy who wanted to play with fire and then got burned and cried, then nothing else would have happened, would it? Yes, Dehlin was most definitely culpable (and again, he hadn’t even read it!). My name is out there because of SHIELDS. I’ve had plenty of critics, but I don’t whine and run to General Authorities about it… and yes, some of my critics have been LDS.

          • The Oracle

            I’m not saying John Dehlin isn’t an intolerable little puke. I’m pointing out that John Dehlin did not spike Smith’s piece. Nor did Dehlin dismiss Peterson.

          • Stan Barker

            You seem to have missed the point of Dr. Peterson’s article above. Perhaps I missed were Dr. Peterson blamed Dehlin (same for Gregory Smith) for everything? When I read it, it was consistent with what I already knew of the story from the earliest stages. A great deal of the blame goes to Jerry Bradford… oh wait, that is what Dr. Peterson seems to have said. And yes, that doesn’t remove Dehlin from being a little boy whiner.

          • The Oracle

            I didn’t miss the point of Peterson’s article. I was replying to the others on here who, for reasons I am unable to fathom, continue to blame this entire thing on John Dehlin, instead of on a GA, BYU President Samuelson, and Gerald Bradford, who were the actual decision-makers.

          • DanielPeterson

            Who blames it on John Dehlin? He continually tries to take credit for it, but who believes him?

            And it can’t be blamed on the General Authorities. They didn’t make the decision. They had nothing to do with it.

            Nor is there any evidence whatever that any single General Authority made the decision, nor that President Samuelson made the decision.

            Nor was there a single decision.

            However, the prime responsibility for the chain of decisions that make up this story rests with M. Gerald Bradford.

          • The Oracle

            Daniel:

            1.) Halfwit posters on this very blog are blaming it on John Dehlin. That’s who. I’m glad to see you are not in their company, since Dehlin is obviously not responsible for your dismissal;

            2.) I can’t imagine why anyone would show any regard to John Dehlin. He is pathetic;

            3.) It is likely, as you say, that no General Authority requested your dismissal. It is also likely that at least one GA signed off on it once Bradford flew it up the flagpole. And what is certain is that no General Authority intervened on your behalf to reverse that decision – but one GA did intervene on a weasel apostate’s behalf.

            I admire you trying to avoid speaking ill of one of “the Lord’s anointed” (a GA). But you don’t have to speak ill of him, because his actions say it all.

          • DanielPeterson

            1) You act as if this is some new admission of mine, Orbunkle. But it’s what I’ve always said. Including in the very blog post to which you’re allegedly responding here.

            3) There is absolutely no reason to believe that any General Authority “signed off” on my dismissal as editor of the “Mormon Studies Review.” There is no evidence of which I’m aware to suggest any such thing.

            You’re making this up, Orbunkle, and I’m not amused.

            The fictional “actions” that you’ve invented and attributed to an unidentified General Authority don’t “say it all.” They simply say that you like to invent defamatory stories in order to make public attacks on strangers.

          • The Oracle

            Daniel – You are not hearing me. Let me try again.

            Let’s suppose that no GA signed off on your dismissal ahead of time, and that it took every GA by total surprise.

            The fact would remain that NO GA did *anything* to reverse that decision. They did *not* intervene on your behalf. BUT, by your own admission, a GA *did* intervene on behalf a pathetic egomaniac apostate weasel to “protect” him from a piece you intended to publish. They protected Dehlin, but did jack squat for you.

            Please tell us what you think observers are supposed to make of that fact.

          • DanielPeterson

            You need to re-read (or, perhaps, to read for the first time) the blog post to which you’ve allegedly been responding here.

            I’ve not “admitted” that any General Authority intervened in order to protect John Dehlin. I have no evidence that that is so. I don’t know what the General Authority said.

            And, as a matter of fact, I do know (because he told me so) that President Samuelson had no objection to the sheer publication of the article. (In other words, he wasn’t trying in any way to “protect” John Dehlin.)

            There are many easily conceivable reasons why, thus far at least, no General Authority has publicly stepped forward to criticize, let alone to overturn, a decision made by a fairly low-level bureaucrat at BYU. Even you could probably think of a few, if you put your mind to it.

          • The Oracle

            So, let me get this straight:

            John Dehlin calls a GA to complain about a forthcoming “hit piece” (supposedly his words) to be published by you; the GA then takes the time to call Samuelson about it; Samuelson then takes the time to call Bradford about it; Bradford then calls you in to ask you to withdraw the piece; yet, despite that sequence of events, you claim to have “no evidence” that the GA communicated reservations about the piece to Samuelson. Nothing circumstantial, nothing. In your mind, it could very well just be *100% pure coincidence* that Bradford asked you to withdraw the piece right after a phone call from Samuelson about the piece, who’d received a call from a GA about the piece.

            Does that not strike you, even in some vague way, as the wrong inference to draw?

            By the way, in your original blog post, you wrote this:

            “I asked (Bradford) whether more information
            regarding the matter might be forthcoming…Had the General Authority actually asked that the article not be published? Had President Samuelson actually asked that it not be published?…*No answers to these questions were available*.”

            However, you now reveal that Samuelson had “no objection” to you publishing the article. (Maybe he told you that later).

            So, here are the possible scenarios:

            1.) Samuelson called up Bradford and said, “I just got a call from a GA about your forthcoming piece on Dehlin. I just want to let you know that, despite Dehlin’s objections, the GA and I have ‘no objection’ at all to you publishing the piece”;

            2.) Samuelson called up Bradford and said, “I just got a call from a GA about your forthcoming piece on Dehlin. I just want to let you know that while I personally have ‘no objection’ to you publishing the piece, the GA is concerned about the tone and nature of this piece. Just wanted to let you know”.

            3.) Samuelson called up Bradford and said, “I just got a call from a GA about your forthcoming piece on Dehlin. I just want to let you know that we both are concerned about the tone and nature of this piece”.

            Question: Given what happened next (Bradford asks you to withdraw the piece), which of these scenarios is most likely?

            I think all would agree that (2) and (3) are most likely.

            Now let’s suppose that Samuelson did not parse the truth when he told you that he had “no objection” to you publishing the piece. That leaves (2) as the most likely, and by any rational calculation, far more likely than (1).

            So let’s consider, starting with (2), what each possible scenario tells us about your superiors.

            If (2), a GA intervened to protect Dehlin – basically an apostate – from a piece *he hadn’t even read yet*. Further, when Bradford dismisses you a few weeks later, that same GA does not intervene to protect you. Conclusion: Apostate Dehlin’s feelings (or the church’s image) are more important to the GA than you and your job.

            If (1), then even though Samuelson and the GA think you’re going a good job, they do nothing to stop or reverse Bradford when he spikes the piece, dismisses you, and completely changes the nature of the organization you started. Conclusion: the GA and Samuelson are spineless weasels.

            If (3), Samuelson didn’t tell you the truth when he told you he had “no objections” to the Dehlin piece being published. Conclusion: Samuelson is a liar.

            As far as I can see, any scenario makes the GA and/or Samuelson look at least as bad as Bradford in this, and to my mind, definitely worse.

            Lastly, you assert that there are “many easily conceivable reasons” why a GA who took the time to call the BYU president about a piece on an apostate weasel, wouldn’t take the time to criticize or overturn a decision by a “low level bureaucrat” to terminate the guy who started FARMS/NMI. Since there are “many”, why not list just three?

            I ask, because the only “conceivable reasons” to my mind are that he assented to the decision, or he was too spineless to stick up for you, even though he stuck up for Dehlin.

            What do you think are the other possibilities?

          • DanielPeterson

            Garfunkel: “So, let me get this straight:”

            Are you STILL obsessing with this?

            Should you be taking so much time away from your project of amassing evidence to prove me vicious, mean-spirited, small-minded, and morally depraved?

            Garfunkel: “John Dehlin calls a GA to complain about a forthcoming “hit piece” (supposedly his words) to be published by you; the GA then takes the time to call Samuelson about it;”

            I have no particular reason to believe that the call was ONLY about the Dehlin essay. Do you?

            Garfunkel: “Samuelson then takes the time to call Bradford about it;[”

            Samuelson and Bradford are neighbors; Bradford is Samuelson’s home teacher. This needn’t have been a big deal.

            Garfunkel: “Bradford then calls you in to ask you to withdraw the piece;”

            Bradford and I routinely met about many things. In this particular meeting, the Dehlin essay was only one of several things that we discussed. It took, perhaps, five minutes or so.

            Garfunkel: “yet, despite that sequence of events, you claim to have “no evidence” that the GA communicated reservations about the piece to Samuelson. Nothing circumstantial, nothing.”

            You’re shifting the goal posts. Previously, you’ve been claiming that the unammed General Authority “intervened on John Dehlin’s behalf.” Expressing reservations (e.g., “Cece, could you check into this?”) is a rather different matter.

            Garfunkel: “In your mind, it could very well just be *100% pure coincidence* that Bradford asked you to withdraw the piece right after a phone call from Samuelson about the piece, who’d received a call from a GA about the piece. Does that not strike you, even in some vague way, as the wrong inference to draw?”

            Of course it does, and I don’t draw it.

            I suspect that your reading and reasoning skills are better than this, so please stop wasting my time.

            Why don’t you get to work on your grand exposé? Don’t let this sort of silliness continue to distract you.

            Do you really think that you’re likely to convince me? You seem to have forgotten that I’ve been intimately involved in this episode from the beginning, and that I’ve had many conversations of which you know absolutely nothing — including conversations with very senior General Authorities.

            I know what I’m talking about. You don’t.

            Come on. You have a chance here to prove me a soulless villain. Don’t squander your energies on futile nonsense such as THIS.

            Garfunkel: “However, you now reveal that Samuelson had “no objection” to you publishing the article. (Maybe he told you that later).”

            He told me that in late August. My last conversation with Jerry Bradford had taken place in late May — three months earlier. And the conversation with Bradford about the Dehlin article was nearly a month before THAT.

            Garfunkel: “So, here are the possible scenarios:

            There are many more than three possible scenarios, with virtually infinite shades of nuance.

            Garfunkel: “I think all would agree that (2) and (3) are most likely.”

            In some form or other, yes.

            But I have no way of knowing which of the two is the most likely. Nor do you. And then there are those pesky but critically important nuances.

            Garfunkel: “Now let’s suppose that Samuelson did not parse the truth when he told you that he had “no objection” to you publishing the piece.”

            To be precise, he said that he had no objection to the piece being published.

            That is what he said. That is what Cecil Samuelson said. He said that he had no objection to the piece being published.

            You will know, of course, precisely what to make of that. However, being much more familiar with the matter, I don’t.

            Garfunkel: “So let’s consider, starting with (2), what each possible scenario tells us about your superiors. If (2), a GA intervened to protect Dehlin – basically an apostate – from a piece *he hadn’t even read yet*.”

            Nope. You’re reading a great deal into (2) that isn’t in evidence and isn’t necessary to distinguish (2) from (3).

            There is no reason to believe that any General Authority “intervened to protect Dehlin.”

            You keep asserting that — it’s foundational to your myth making — but I deny it. I’ve denied it several times before, and I deny it again.

            And I’m growing impatient.

            Garfunkel: “Further, when Bradford dismisses you a few weeks later, that same GA does not intervene to protect you.”

            There is no reason to believe that the General Authority has ever intervened to protect ANYONE in the matter or ANYONE at BYU.

            Garfunkel: “Conclusion: Apostate Dehlin’s feelings (or the church’s image) are more important to the GA than you and your job.”

            Dubious premise > dubious conclusion. Or, in other words, garbage in, garbage out.

            Garfunkel: “If (1), then even though Samuelson and the GA think you’re going a good job, they do nothing to stop or reverse Bradford when he spikes the piece, dismisses you, and completely changes the nature of the organization you started. Conclusion: the GA and Samuelson are spineless weasels.”

            Many other explanations/conclusions are possible and, in my opinion, much more likely.

            Garfunkel: “If (3), Samuelson didn’t tell you the truth when he told you he had “no objections” to the Dehlin piece being published. Conclusion: Samuelson is a liar.”

            I believe that Samuelson told me the truth.

            Garfunkel: “As far as I can see, any scenario makes the GA and/or Samuelson look at least as bad as Bradford in this, and to my mind, definitely worse.”

            Your near-sightedness needs major correction. There are plenty of variations possible on your scenarios, and many of them don’t put the General Authority in an unfavorable light.

            Garfunkel: “Lastly, you assert that there are “many easily conceivable reasons” why a GA who took the time to call the BYU president about a piece on an apostate weasel, wouldn’t take the time to criticize or overturn a decision by a “low level bureaucrat” to terminate the guy who started FARMS/NMI. Since there are “many”, why not list just three?”

            Because the topic bores me, because I’m not particularly interested in publishing speculative fiction on the matter, because I know more about the specific facts than I feel at liberty to disclose, and so forth.

            But you yourself could, if you were so inclined, easily come up with alternatives. They’re not hard to think of.

            Garfunkel: “I ask, because the only “conceivable reasons” to my mind are that he assented to the decision, or he was too spineless to stick up for you, even though he stuck up for Dehlin.”

            There’s no reason to conclude that he “stuck up for Dehlin,” nor that he “assented to the decision” (or would have any standing to assent to or dissent from it), let alone that he’s “spineless.”

            Garfunkel: “What do you think are the other possibilities?”

            Your question could be better phrased as follows: “What do you know about this matter that I, being largely clueless, don’t?”

            The answer is, Lots.

            I’m tired of this, Garfunkel. And I’m specifically tired of going the rounds with YOU on it.

            You simply don’t know enough to have an opinion worth engaging, and I’ve wasted more than enough time on it.

            Concentrate, from now on, on proving me a depraved, small-minded, mean-spirited, vicious swine. Restrict your posting to THAT noble goal. Further posts setting out your fantasies about my departure from the Maxwell Institute will not be welcome.

            Get to work.

          • The Oracle

            1.) I’ve never used the phrase “morally depraved” to describe you. In fact, I have specifically and repeatedly allowed that the image you have created for yourself over the years through your writing might be unrepresentative of how you behave in private life.

            2.) Whether that was the “only” thing mentioned by the GA or not, a GA still spoke to Samuelson about your piece. The mental gymnastics you are employing to try to blame this entirely on Gerald Bradford are remarkable.

            3.) I’m not shifting any goal posts. The fact of the matter is that however you want to describe the expression of concern made by the GA, *he expressed concern over your piece*; and if he had not said whatever it was he said, *the piece most likely would never have been withdrawn*. You can deny that if you want, but your personal denial does not change the fact that it is almost certainly true.

            And if the GA hadn’t have expressed that concern (over an article he’d never even read, just because some two-bit apostate whined about it), the air might not have been just that much more poisoned, and Bradford might not have felt he could dismiss you.

            Why you are defending these guys, and in partcular the GA, is beyond me. And your claim that you don’t know of the GA ever intervening to protect anyone is completely absurd *in light of the fact that he called Samuelson after Dehlin called him*. What clearer example could you possibly want? Did he call Bradford to complain after Bradford dumped you? No (or not that we know of). Did he call you to express his condolences? No. Did he call to thank you after your dismissal for all the hard work you’d put in building the organization that those guys moved in and took from you? No.

            But did he call the flipping BYU president to express his concern about a piece on John Dehlin, after Dehlin called him? YES. How in the world can you defend this guy? I realize that temple vows require not speaking ill of the Lord’s anointed; but these guys – not just Bradford – knifed you, or acquiesced to the knifing, or did nothing to reverse the knifing. I’m not saying Bradford doesn’t share blame; I’m saying that blaming Bradford exclusively *only* because of the temple vow means you are willfully misapprehending what almost certainly occurred here.

            4.) I have no desire to prove that you are a “swine”. Your inflated language smacks of creating a straw man. You have described your image as a church defender as a “carefully constructed lie” or something. Actually, it’s not. I’ll find a few examples for you to – well, to dismiss with glib cliches, and never take seriously, so you can keep on believing that your image as a church defender struck one and all as patient, warm, welcoming, open, genial, and the epitome of Christian charity.

          • DanielPeterson

            Good grief. You seem obsessed. Do you really have nothing else to do with your days?

            I certainly do.

            And I don’t think you’ve grasped yet how serious I am that I’m tired of this exchange, and that I’m not going to permit you to use my blog as a platform from which to promulgate your defamatory speculations about me, about my separation from the Maxwell Institute, and about my reputation with the leaders of my church.

            Set up your own blog or website, if you must, to pursue this passion of yours.

            I told you that further posts from you on the subject wouldn’t be welcome. I won’t allow you to post uncontradicted attacks on me, and I’m not willing to devote the hours to responding to your assertions that your frenetic activity demands. Anyway, at this point, we’re pretty much repeating ourselves. You keep restating your airy speculations, and I keep saying that you simply don’t know enough to speculate intelligently – and that I’m handicapped, in some ways, by knowing things that I won’t make public.

            From now on, since my telling you that further expressions of your fixation on this topic would be unwelcome has failed to deter you, I’ll simply delete them.

            Just get on with your bigger mission of proving me to be a small-minded, mean-spirited, and vicious person.

            The Debacle: “I’ve never used the phrase “morally depraved” to describe you. . . . I have no desire to prove that you are a “swine.”

            Let’s not quibble about words.

            The Debacle: “The mental gymnastics you are
            employing to try to blame this entirely on Gerald Bradford are remarkable.”

            What is it, exactly, that I’m supposedly trying to “blame . . . entirely on Gerald Bradford”?

            Please be very precise. I think you’re misunderstanding the situation, and what I’ve said about it, even more severely than I had realized. Please note, too, that, while I’ve granted you permission to answer this specific question, that doesn’t constitute a permit to roll out Iteration 2472 of your speculations. Just answer the question.

            The Debacle: “I’m not shifting any goal posts.”

            You clearly are.

            You’ve done it several times. This particular case just happened to be unusually clear.

            I’m not even sure that you’re conscious of it.

            The Debacle: “The fact of the matter is that however you want to describe the expression of concern made by the GA, *he expressed concern over your piece*; and if he had not said whatever it was he said, *the piece most likely would never have been withdrawn*. You can deny that if you want, but your personal denial does not change the fact that it is almost certainly true.”

            I haven’t denied it.

            You need to read more carefully.

            The Debacle: “And if the GA hadn’t have
            expressed that concern (over an article he’d never even read, just because some two-bit apostate whined about it), the air might not have been just that much more poisoned, and Bradford might not have felt he could dismiss you.”

            Very possibly. I do think that Jerry Bradford
            saw the occasion as an opportunity, and took it.

            I’ve always thought so, and have never denied it.

            Several of my alleged positions on this matter are actually your inventions, you know. That’s one of the reasons this has become so very tiresome.

            The Debacle: “Why you are defending these guys, and in partcular the GA, is beyond me.”

            I’m not defending anybody. I’m simply pointing out the distinction between what you know and what you don’t actually know, and between what I know and what you know.

            The Debacle: “And your claim that you don’t know of the GA ever intervening to protect anyone is completely absurd *in light of the fact that he called
            Samuelson after Dehlin called him*. What clearer example could you possibly want?”

            The example is scarcely clear at ALL. The fact that
            he called after Dehlin contacted him doesn’t, by any stretch, prove that he called in order to defend Dehlin. You’re going beyond what you actually know, as is, plainly, your habit and preference. I don’t believe, as a matter, of fact, that that was his focus.

            The Debacle: “this guy . . . these guys”

            I suspect that you didn’t even notice your slip from denouncing a single General Authority on the basis of your speculations to denouncing an indeterminate
            GROUP of them. Still, it’s rather revealing.

            You regularly go beyond what you actually know, but you don’t know it.

            The Debacle: “I’m saying that blaming Bradford exclusively *only* because of the temple vow”

            Sheer insulting and baseless nonsense. Your
            militant ignorance is rapidly becoming even more offensive than it already was. I would probably ban you altogether if it weren’t that I’m still waiting for your promised proof that I’m a vicious, mean-spirited, small-minded stench in the nostrils of the leaders of my church.

            The Debacle: “a straw man. . . you can keep on believing that your image as a church defender struck one and all as patient, warm, welcoming, open, genial, and the epitome of Christian charity.”

            Yes, a straw man.

            I’ve never made any such claim. I’m entirely aware
            that, while many people like Movie Star A or Politician X, many others don’t, and that, while Mr. B may be very popular in some circles, there will be people
            who dislike him. Some will regard Miss Y as the most beautiful woman alive, and others won’t even think she’s pretty. Most people regard Mother Teresa
            as a great twentieth-century saint; a few have denounced her very harshly. Of all American presidents, Lyndon Johnson received the highest percentage of the popular vote – 61.5% — and yet well over a third of the voters, nearly four out of ten, cast their ballots against him.

            I have no illusions that anybody, ever, is universally liked, admired, and respected – especially anybody
            involved in controversies — and I’m surprised to learn that you do.

            My claim is that the image of me as a small-minded, vicious, and mean-spirited polemicist is false and unjust, essentially a lie.

            But I’m giving you the opportunity to demonstrate, by means of a reasonably representative sampling of specimens of small-minded, mean-spirited viciousness culled from the many thousands of pages of materials that I’ve published over the years, that I’m the damnable villain you’ve dedicated yourself to unveiling for public denunciation.

            Have at it!

            Just don’t post any more of your ignorant speculations about my parting from the Maxwell Institute and my relationship with the leaders of my church. Not on my blog.

            PS — I notice that you’ve appealed, in your search for devastating evidence against me, to the denizens of at least one virulently hostile ex-Mormon message board, and that, thus far, beyond a few misremembered second-hand accounts and distorted paraphrases, they’ve provided essentially nothing useful for you. This is precisely the way previous efforts like yours have played out, without even a single exception. There’s simply no there there. If you’re interested in my horrifying exchange with SusieQ#1, though, I can supply the link to the full thing. All you have to do is ask!

          • The Oracle

            Hello Daniel

            For many years, Mormons and non-Mormons alike have tried to communicate to you that the argumentative, polemical nature of your writings can come across as unfeeling, vindictive, petty, unwelcoming, and far more about you vanquishing your perceived enemies than about helping others come unto Christ.

            Your responses to this observation have fallen into two (seemingly mutually exclusive) categories:

            1.) Deny the image, or at least, deny validity to that image by labeling it a “lie”;

            or

            2.) Acknowledge this image, and its basis, but express no concern about it, and even sometimes defend its basis.

            Let me give two quick examples of each type of response.

            An example of (1) you gave in your post immediately above. You wrote:

            “My claim is that the image of me as a small-minded, vicious, and mean-spirited polemicist is false and unjust, essentially a lie.”

            An example of (2) comes from your 1994 essay, “Of Polemics”. You wrote:

            “Why, I and others associated with this Review have been asked on a number of occasions, do you have to be so polemical, so argumentative? The question is often put with some feeling, and sometimes even with a kind of sadness. Not infrequently, it comes from people who are, roughly speaking, ‘on our side’…”.

            You then go on say that “the negative work of criticism, and, occasionally, of demolition, is something we approach with genuine reluctance”; yet you argue that this “negative work of criticism” and occasional “demolition” is a “matter of duty” (a quote from James Neuchterlein which you endorse in the essay). (For full essay, see: http://publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/6/2/S00001-51b10aa68d9441Peterson.pdf
            ).

            In other words, in (1) you denied any validity to the image I am describing, but in (2) you outrightly acknowledged its basis: a style so “argumentative” and “polemical”, that even members of the Mormon church object to it with “feeling” and “a kind of sadness”. With this concession, you have validated the very image whose validity you, at other times, deny.

            Given your concession that your approach was troubling even to faithful church members as far back as twenty years ago, I might rest my case right there, but I’d like to continue.

            In order to frame my forthcoming comments and posts, and with your claim of “duty” in mind, I want to ask you a sincere and serious question to begin with:

            Are you able to emotionally grasp any reason why church members might object with “feeling” and “a kind of sadness” to your “argumentative” and “polemical” tone?

            Here are a few reasons:

            1.) It is inherently off-putting to most people, including most church members;

            2.) Church members believe in the Book of Mormon, which quotes Jesus Christ himself as saying, “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me , but is of the devil, who is the father of contention’” (III Nephi 11: 29-30).

            3.) Church members believe in the Doctrine and Covenants, which quotes Jesus Christ as saying, “And thou shalt declare glad tidings…And thou shalt do it with all humility, trusting in me, reviling not against revilers”. (Section 19: 29-30).

            4.) Church members believe in Latter-day prophets and apostles, who teach things like this in General Conference:

            “Recently a group of bright, faithful young Latter-day Saints wrote down some of the most pressing questions on their minds. One sister asked, ‘Why doesn’t the Church defend itself more actively when accusations are made against it?’…

            “In such moments, we may want to respond aggressively—to ‘put up our dukes.’ But these are important opportunities to step back, pray, and follow the Savior’s example…

            “When we do not retaliate—when we turn the other cheek and resist feelings of anger—we too stand with the Savior. We show forth His love, which is the only power that can subdue the adversary and answer our accusers without accusing them in return. That is not weakness. That is Christian courage…” (http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/10/christian-courage-the-price-of-discipleship?lang=eng&query=turn+the+other+cheek).

            Contrast the message in these passages with your defense of being “argumentative” and “polemical” in “Of Polemics”, and your statement there that “we did not pick this fight with the Church’s critics, but we will not withdraw from it”, or your quote of Neuchterlein that religious polemics is a “’dirty business from which no one emerges with entirely clean hands’”, which you then describe as “precisely my attitude”.

            Are you starting to get this, Daniel? Can you begin to see why your (and FARMS) writings over the years have struck faithful members, struggling members, former Mormons, never-Mormons, lots of people, as troubling and problematic? And here, I am not even getting into specifics. I am only addressing the general approach that you yourself have acknowledged in “Of Polemics”. Can you feel what I’m trying to get across to you?

            You might object that even if your “argumentative”, “polemical” approach were troubling to people, it should not have been. Didn’t Christ throw the moneychangers out of the temple, call people “vipers”, and tell his disciples to carry a sword?

            I agree that those are valid points. Unfortunately for you, most average church members would not grant validity to those points. Perhaps the most important reason is that current church leaders (with the waning exception of Packer) avoid combative language, and encourage the approach Russell Nelson describes above. Most church members will view Christ’s behaviour at the temple as anomalous, or as okay just because he is Christ (that is, they will not see Christ’s behaviour as license for you to employ an “argumentative”, “polemical” approach). They, like many other Christians, will remain primarily in thrall to the Jesus who advocated “turning the other cheek”, who told us to “love our enemies”, and who kept silent when accused by Pilate. And they will continue to feel instinctively put off by your approach, and continue to see it as being in contradiction to the teachings of the scriptures and current leaders, and therefore, wrong.

            Can you begin to feel why so many, even in the church, have been put off by your writings?

            In this post, I have only addressed your general approach, showing how even if we only described it as “argumentative” and “polemical”, it would still strike many people (as you concede) as troubling.

            In the next post, I’ll go into more detail about how your writings have put people off Mormonism, and contributed to your negative image.

          • kiwi57

            The self-styled Oracle: “For many years, Mormons and non-Mormons alike have tried to communicate to you that the argumentative, polemical nature of your writings can come across as unfeeling, vindictive, petty, unwelcoming, and far more about you vanquishing your perceived enemies than about helping others come unto Christ. ”

            Have they?

            Then why don’t your citations support that claim?

            The reality is that you have taken two things that are essentially unlike and, by judiciously manipulating the details, you are trying to quite deliberately misrepresent them as being the same.

            Opinions are not evidence, and appealing to opinion does not establish your argument. All it really does is demonstrate that your own opinion is entirely a derivative one, formed without even a vestige of independent thought.

            Early in the FARMS era, many members were unused to the idea of intellectual defence of the faith. It looked to them too much like contention, and they protested it on that basis, largely without consideration of the actual content of that defence.

            On the other hand, anti-Mormons quickly found their favourite arguments confronted by rigorous, scholarly defences which they were quite unable to answer. They found the only way to deal with this inability was to distract attention from it; hence arose the standard “FARMS is mean to people” legend.

            I note that you express deep (and possibly not wholly undeserved) contempt for John Dehlin, but his approach is almost identical to yours, as when he declares that he doesn’t read FARMS material because it’s full of “ad hominem,” which is of course itself an ad hominem argument.

            I also note that you have gone the same route he went: when confronted by those who know that the facts don’t match the legend, he scurried off to internet message boards pleading for evidence to bolster his (already formed) opinion.

            This was at least an admission that his opinion was not based upon the evidence, and that when he made those statements he was bearing false witness, although perhaps inadvertently.

            Just as your own actions admit the same things.

            You’ll never admit them explicitly, of course. But actions speak louder than words.

          • DanielPeterson

            1) You’re right. Your response lacks specifics.

            2) I’m fully aware that many people, including many Mormons, shrink from arguments — even serious ones, civilly conducted.

            3) I acknowledge that, in certain quarters, I have the image that you attribute to me.

            4) You’ve offered nothing, thus far, to demonstrate that I’m actually mean-spirited, small-minded, and vicious.

            5) But that is the task that you voluntarily assumed.

            6) Stick to it.

            7) Are you going to put together a representative sample of comments from your own board, or would you prefer that I do it?

          • The Oracle

            My response to your points:

            1.) Indeed. In my last post, I only attempted to establish that there was a real basis for your image (that it was not just a “lie” or “carefully constructed” anti-Mormon “fabrication, as you have before alleged). Interestingly, that real basis is one that you yourself admit to: an “argumentative” and “polemical” approach which has put off members and non-members alike.

            2.) As you yourself admitted in your 1994 essay, the explanation for your image entails more than people “shrinking from arguments”. It entails your approach or style, which you have already conceded is “argumentative” and “polemical”.

            3.) Thank you.

            4.) That is strictly true, yes; I have only so far presented your own acknowledgement that your “argumentative” and “polemical” style, even as far back as twenty years ago, was off-putting to people, including some church members, and tried to explain why.

            Moreover, I should like to point out that I can’t demonstrate anything about you *as a human being*. I can only, in these posts, try to get across to you why your writings have struck people as nasty, cold, off-putting, etc. (thereby creating the image we are discussing).

            You might object that someone who conveys compassion, magnanimity, patience, warmth, and love in real life (perhaps like you), could never come across as small, unfeeling, uncaring, unnecessarily contentious, etc., in his writings.

            But that is not so. Even the opposite can be true. The great poet Robert Frost was reportedly a terrible crank in real life; yet one would never get that from his beautiful writing. I happen to know of one athlete who, in real life, is a perfect and sincere gentleman; yet once he steps into his role as a football player, his actions change. He takes cheap shots intended to injure players (including eye-gouging), he says the most vile, disgusting things on the field to opposing players, and is by all accounts, ruthless.

            So my point here is not to try to convince you, or anyone, that you are a bad person. It is try to get across to you why so many people *have come to see you* in the terms you describe, *through your writings*.

            I am about to leave on a business trip for a few days, so I will return to this next week and go over a few specific examples.

            Talk to you soon

          • DanielPeterson

            I don’t have the time to deal with lengthy essays here.

            My only interest is in seeing whether you can supply actual evidence at the level of a representative sample from my own writing and the writings that I’ve edited for publication, to show that a reasonable person, familiar with my writing but not personally acquainted with me and not necessarily disposed to personal or ideological hostility toward me, would judge me to be, as you say I am, mean-spirited, small-minded, and vicious.

            Moreover, as the saying goes, “contrast is the mother of clarity.” With that in mind, I’ve asked you to supply a sampling of the background against which, or of the context within which, I’ve been writing over the past three decades. And, to make the task easy and congenial for you, I’ve suggested that you draw your comparative material from just 24 hours of activity on three threads at the place where you appealed for help in gathering materials to demonstrate my vicious mean-spiritedness and small-mindedness. Clearly, this is a place where you trust people to recognize such things. My viciousness, smallness of mind, and meanness of spirit should show up very clearly against such a background.

            If you find it too onerous to supply that material for comparison, of course, I’ll be happy to do it for you. Please advise.

          • The Oracle

            Hello Daniel

            I would be happy to address your remarks.

            I would like to begin by pointing out that your own concessions have already adequately established my basic point: that your “argumentative” and “polemical” tone (your words) have put off members and non-members alike over the years, even leaving members feeling “a kind of sadness”. I am not sure at all that I need to press the point; you have already made it for me, in essence (but I will elaborate below anyway).

            I would secondly like to point out something which I think might clarify this whole situation. (I say “clarify”, because you are in a muddle. That muddle is this: you at once concede that your approach has been “argumentative” and “polemical” to the point where it leaves even church members feeling “a kind of sadness”, while also denying that any “reasonable”, non-prejudiced person could infer from your writings that you were not a nice person. This position of yours indicates confusion and compartmentalization. After all, it is the very “argumentative” and “polemical” approach you concede which leaves members and non-members alike supposing you are not a nice person. What, in that simple connection, can you not understand?).

            Anyway, back to what I wanted to point out in the second place. Your muddled comments raise a question, the answer to which might help clarify this whole issue. That question is this:

            Do you *care* that your “argumentative” and “polemical” tone has left even members feeling “a kind of sadness”, and helped drive some of them away from the religion you claim to cherish?

            What is your answer? Your writings over the years, and even on this thread, indicate that the answer is, no.

            You have never expressed, to my knowledge, even the slightest remorse for the consequences of your “argumentative”, “polemical” approach. You *concede* those consequences, but you cannot *feel* them, or feel remorse for them. What you do seem to care about is labeling those who feel “a kind of sadness”, or who would infer you were not a very nice person, as being “unreasonable” and in thrall to ideological prejudice.

            But it is not “ideological prejudice” or “unreasonableness” which provokes people to feel “a kind of sadness”, or to feel put off, by an “argumentative” and “polemical” tone, or to infer that the person employing that “argumentative” and “polemical” approach is not nice. It is common sense; reason; experience. It is what most humans would feel. But you can’t feel that. Why not?

            Let me give a quick example brought to my attention by someone on the Recovery from Mormonism board. It serves as well as any as an example of what I’m trying to get across to you. I know you are very familiar with criticism of your performance on this thread, but hear me out for one second.

            Many Jewish leaders over the years have expressed their upset that Mormons should vicariously baptize their ancestors in Mormon temples. You weighed in on this conversation on “Tracing the Tribe”, a blog run by a Jewish woman named Schelly Dardashti (http://tracingthetribe.blogspot.ca/2006/12/anger-over-baptism-of-simon-wiesenthal.html).

            Let me openly acknowledge that several of your points throughout are well taken. For example, it *is* a fundamental Christian belief, as you mentioned, that everyone requires the Atonement to receive “God’s eternal blessings”. And you were right that many of the people upset by Mormon vicarious baptisms do not understand that Mormons believe only that a vicarious baptism provides the dead with an *opportunity* to accept that baptism, and do not believe that that baptism necessarily turns someone into a Mormon.

            There are other well-taken points, but it is something else altogether which makes your comments there so off-putting in a basic human sense, and so unflattering to the religion you claim to cherish – and no, *no one* needs ideological prejudice or unreason to view them that way.

            That “something else altogether” is that at NO point in that entire conversation do you ever indicate *any* ability to comprehend, let alone *empathize* with, Jewish objections to Mormon vicarious baptisms. Your approach, instead, is dismissive, callous, and “flippant” (your word).

            What sort of person is “flippant” in a discussion about such an emotionally-charged subject? What sort of person cannot feel what it might be like to be the son or daughter of a beloved parent who was murdered *only* because of their Jewishness, and who then finds out that their parent has been vicariously baptized into a (seemingly bizarre [to them]) offshoot of Christianity (a religion which they view as having been partly responsible for the anti-Semitism which drove the Holocaust)?

            Is there a difference between a doctor who walks in, smirks, and says to a sick patient, “Guess what? You went and got yourself cancer with your smoking – and now you’re a dead man. Ha ha ha!”, and one who walks in and says, “Dave…I am so sorry to have to tell you this, but we have detected lung cancer. I want to walk you through what this means, and I want to reassure you I and my whole staff will be here with you every step of the way…”? Most people would say there is. The message might be the same; the way it is put across is very different. The first doctor has a valid point; the way he expressed it is very off-putting. We would say the first doctor is not a nice person, because he expresses no empathy, no emotional understanding, and is flippant. Just like you in this thread, and as I have seen you be in other conversations over the years.

            I am suggesting to you that no normal – no non-emotionally-impaired – person would ever say the sorts of things you said on that blog. When others tried to point out to you how inappropriate your comments were in that context, you replied that many of your interlocutors weren’t Jewish. But that is irrelevant. You were on a Jewish woman’s blog speaking in the most “flippant” (your word) and dismissive manner about an issue of great emotional sensitivity to thousands of people descended from Holocaust victims. And you seemed completely uncaring about the fact that their sacred memories are infused with, completely inextricable from, Jewish identity, and that Mormon temple work strikes them as intruding on that, as though Mormonism were laying some sort of claim on their loved ones and their memories. You seem unable to *feel* why that would be upsetting, just like you seem unable to feel what it might be like to be a *Mormon*, and feel “a kind of sadness” encountering your “argumentative” and “polemical” approach. In the end, you seemed completely unaware of, or incapable of emotionally understanding, how upsetting your comments would be NOT just to former Mormons, or Jews, but almost to anyone.

            This is just one example, but suffice it to say there is a persistent “humanity gap” in your writings, which more than anything, has helped create your image as a mean-spirited person. You might be the warmest, most empathetic person in real life; if so, this does not at all come across in your writings.

            That you can openly concede that your approach has made even church members feel “a kind of sadness”, and yet feel no remorse for that; that you can know perfectly well that that approach has helped drive some of those very members away from Mormonism, and yet feel no remorse for that; that you can wade into the most serious, emotionally-delicate conversations about sacred, sorrowful memories of loved ones slain, while maintaining a “flippant” attitude, betraying total inability to emotionally resonate with any response to the issue; these and so many more examples signal a “humanity gap” which leaves many people cold, and often bewildered or even appalled. It is inherently off-putting to people. It does not draw them to you, or the religion you belong to. It repels them. But seemingly, from the fact that you yourself cannot feel how others feel, you invalidly infer that others should *not* feel as they do; that it could only be anti-Mormon animus, or irrationality, which would leave them feeling “a kind of sadness”, or feeling upset, or put off, or assuming that you are a mean-spirited person.

            That inference is a huge mistake. It is *you* who is missing the whole point; not everyone else – you, and a few others, who cannot feel what so many others, Mormon and non-Mormon alike, feel when they read such words.

            The “argumentative” and “polemical” tone which even you acknowledge, the curious and persistent lack of empathy, the “humanity gap” evident in so many of your comments, have *hurt* people. They have driven people away – not just from you, or FARMS, but from Mormonism. And they have left people feeling that you are not a nice person, because in real life, nice people don’t speak or behave that way.

            Do you care? If you do, apologize and be kinder and more empathetic in the future. If you don’t, then…I doubt there is anything I – or anyone – could say to enable you to feel what others feel.

          • DanielPeterson

            I acknowledged, Debacle, only that some people have objected to my writing or to what they imagine my writing to be. Your portrayal of that as an admission that a reasonable reader could, having surveyed my publications, reasonably conclude that the materials I’ve written and published were, to any even remotely significant degree, “small-minded,” “mean-spirited,” and “vicious” is, however, quite illegitimate.

            I do not concede that the reaction of those people is either widely shared or fair.

            At least two weeks ago, you promised to supply a representative sample of my publications that would demonstrate your charge of small-minded, mean-spirited
            viciousness to be just and true.

            You’ve failed to do that, and now you’re trying to obfuscate your failure.

            Just supply the damning specimens.

            Thus, far, you’ve provided the hidden, unpublished, twenty-year-old “Butthead” acrostic created by Bill Hamblin (and removed by me) and, now, you offer a case in which you judge me to have been insufficiently empathetic quite a number of years ago on a Jewish board.

            This is very weak stuff.

            Especially when it’s compared to the things routinely said – and to the things specifically said about me, including things said about me in direct response to your request for help in amassing specimens of my villainy – on the board where you sought ammunition with which to condemn me. (You want to condemn me in a vacuum, by measuring me against your ideal standard of empathetic understanding, and you’re plainly reluctant to supply materials for comparison from the board where you seek help.) And yet, even taken in the worst possible way (as you and your hostile informants choose to take them), my comments on that Jewish board were scarcely “vicious.”

            Unbelievably, though, you proceed, on that basis, to pronounce me “emotionally-impaired” and repeatedly claim that I’m separated from other people by a “humanity-gap” – harsh pop-psychological put-downs that I would never, ever, say to anybody in any publication or in any online exchange. (Words like “blindness,” “lack of self-awareness,” and “hypocrisy” come readily to mind.)

            Supply some actual specimens of my supposed “mean-spiritedness,” “small-mindedness,” and “viciousness,” or, barring that, fade humbly into the appropriate silence. Stop obfuscating. Stop trying to distract from your manifest failure to provide what you promised to provide, and what you made such effort to find.

          • The Oracle

            Daniel:

            Hear me out here for a few minutes – not for me, but
            maybe, for you. I can’t say I am your friend, but my sincere intention is to try to help you see something new which might help you in your endeavours, and maybe even in your life.

            There is an old rule that aspiring writers have: if they hear the same criticism of their submission from three different sources, they should take it as gospel.

            With regards to your apologetic approach, far more than three people have tried to tell you for over two decades how off-putting it is. The number is probably in the hundreds, if not thousands. It includes Mormons as
            well as non-Mormons. Yet, you continue to deny any possible validity to this opinion, saying that only ideological prejudice, unreason, or unfairness could motivate it.

            My first question to you is:

            Which is more likely: (A) that so many people, from devout Mormon to devout atheist ex- or never-Mormon and in between, should share the identical opinion of your writings (or those you have published) despite it having no basis in reality; or that (B) it has at least a basis in reality which you might not be able to see, and which might be valid?

            I believe that most reasonable people would say (B). And just for a moment, consider that possibility.

            So, the next question is:

            If there is a valid basis for that view, what is it?

            Let me quickly recap before elaborating.

            In my previous post, I mentioned your performance on a blog discussion about Mormon temple baptisms for Holocaust victims as one example
            (http://tracingthetribe.blogspot.ca/2006/12/anger-over-baptism-of-simon-wiesenthal.html).

            In that discussion, you had a perfect opportunity to make Mormonism look good by showing Christ-like compassion, understanding, and kindness to those struggling with the feeling that an outside religious
            organization was trying to lay spiritual claim to their cherished ancestors, who were murdered only for their Jewishness.

            Instead, you were callous and flippant, in post after post. Not one in a thousand people would disagree with that assessment. The result is, you came across as a jerk. As in, “mean-spirited”. Are you a mean-spirited jerk
            in real life? I don’t know. What I do know is that almost everyone reading that who wasn’t also a committed Mormon apologist of a very unique type would think you were. That you might not be able to see that does not mean it is not so. It is so.

            When I cited this example to you in my previous post, you immediately dismissed it on grounds the discussion was from “quite a few years ago”. That is not a valid basis for dismissal. You have been a Mormon apologist for – what, three decades? Your reputation has been in the making that long. So whether a example is three decades old, or three minutes old, it is still relevant to your work, and to the impression it creates, and to how it
            makes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appear.

            Your all-too-predictable response to this example raises the spectre of a potential “game” here, in which I float up example after example to try to get you to see what so many others have tried to get you to see, each of which you then reflexively dismiss, after which I cite more
            examples, which you then reflexively dismiss again, forever.

            But I don’t want to play any such game. If you can’t, or won’t, see how the examples I cite highlight what I’m trying to say to you, there’s nothing I can do about that, and I will be happy to leave you to pursue whatever course you think best. I would only say that, in my life
            experience, we catch far more flies with honey than with vinegar, and I do not think it is at all a coincidence, or only Gerald Bradford’s doing, that the LDS church has basically shut down its apologetics arm. As Marlin Jensen noted recently, the church is hemmorhaging members like
            never before; and whether you, and Will Schryver, and Hamblin, and all the other guys want to admit it or not, your approach had far too much vinegar, to the point where John Dehlin (as much as he seems personally
            like a weasel) was spot-on in his comments in his emails about how the combative FARMS-style apologetic approach has pushed members away.

            So, are there more examples of where you have come across as “mean-spirited”? Of course – although I honestly think the mere fact that *even members, as
            far back as twenty years ago, were already telling you they were upset at your “argumentative” and “polemical” style, should be more than enough to convince you that this persistent observation has some validity. I also think the Jewish blog example is enough. On that blog, you came across as a jerk, and made Mormonism look bad, when you could have made it look good.

            But, a few more examples. The old MAD board used to be a veritable treasure trove of them, but I was surprised
            to discover that all of your posts on there have been deleted. So, I read a couple of your blog entries, and zipped over to the Neal Maxwell site to read through a few “Editor’s Introduction”s.

            1.) In a blog post from last October, you compare “certain critics of Mormonism” to “apes”, and imply they are “hollow headed” (http://www.ldsmag.com/article/1/13360).

            Impression Left: not particularly nice.

            2.) Despite you sometimes endorsing, or publishing as an editor, apologetic pieces written by those without scholarly credentials, you criticize T. S. Ferguson, a trained lawyer, for not having a scholarly temperament,
            and then say:

            “Let us, however, accept the possibility that Ferguson may indeed have lost his faith in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon for a time..(T)he question that frankly comes to our minds when we consider the claim that
            Thomas Ferguson lost his faith is ‘So what?’” http://publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1458&index=11

            Contrast your attitude here to Christ’s attitude toward those who have left the fold:

            “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.” (Luke 15: 4-6).

            Impression Left: Unfair, uncaring, and unchristian.

            3.) In one place, you write:

            “For one thing, some of us—mostly men, I think—can waste hours fighting with hostile critics solely because we like to win. Moreover, when the church has been attacked, or when we ourselves have been personally
            attacked (I know something about this), it’s impossible not to want to respond, and it’s very difficult not to do so. But it seldom does any good. Mostly, it only generates what the Book of Mormon condemns as ‘the spirit of
            contention.’ And it’s not about you (or me) anyway. “. http://publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1467&index=1

            True enough. In fact, in essence, that’s what I, John Dehlin, and about 15 zillion other people have been trying to explain to Mormon apologists for years.

            Yet, despite this moment of clarity, you write thousands, and thousands – and thousands – of words, throughout your career as a FARMS Review editor and writer, railing against the likes of Ed Decker, Bob McKay, Bill McKeever, Eric Johnson, Loftes Tryk, Marian Bodine, John Ankerberg, etc. Their pieces, you say, are “worthless”, and “soporific”, and “sophomoric”. They themselves are often “dishonest”. They can’t spell. They can’t punctuate. They can’t get their facts straight. They think Bruce R. McConkie as a “seventy”. They confuse Joseph F. Smith with Joseph Fielding Smith. They are the enemies. They have attacked; now they must be attacked in return.

            But…why? You yourself write that they “scarcely have the firepower (or the intellectual candlepower), in and of themselves, to do much damage to the claims of the restored church”. http://publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1438&index=1

            So, if that is the case, why contradict your own moment of clarity by going on to write thousands upon thousands of words, throughout multiple FARMS Reviews, trying to do a “demolition” job on them? (“Demolition” is your word, from your essay “Of Polemics”). Only conceivable answer: because, in the end, despite your moment of clarity, it really *was* often because you “like to win”, and it often really *was* “about you”.

            Impression Left: Daniel Peterson is gratuitously contentious. He is also confused, and/or hypocritical.

            4.) In Joseph Smith’s letter to John Wentworth, available on the church’s official website ( https://www.lds.org/ensign/2002/07/the-wentworth-letter?lang=eng), he
            writes:

            “In this important and interesting book (the Book of Mormon) the history of ancient America is unfolded, from *its first settlement* by a colony that came from the
            Tower of Babel at the confusion of languages to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era…The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem…The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. *The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit
            this country.*”

            In one of your editorial pieces, you dismiss this teaching of Joseph Smith, reiterated so many times subsequently by sitting church presidents and apostles, taught in so many church manuals and periodicals, and affirmed by the Book of Mormon text itself, as a “folk belief”. This is very misleading language, in that it falsely implies this was never Mormon doctrine, when of course it was.

            But leaving that aside, my original point here was that in response to Thomas Murphy’s original article on this issue, you went after Murphy personally in ways that would strike almost everyone as irrelevant to the real issue. The “real issue” is that DNA testing shows North
            American natives to have Asian, not Israelite, ancestry, and this would strike almost anyone as undermining claims that the Book of Mormon is historical. So, the issue is *not* how many people work in the anthropology department where Murphy works, or whether he’s still on the church record books, or whether he’s active or inactive, or any of the other personal stuff you mentioned. It just looked like you were killing the messenger, instead of dealing forthrightly with what appeared to be a big, problematic message – one that can’t be dismissed by a glib re-characterization of a Mormon doctrine as “folk belief”, or by snarky comments about Thomas Murphy personally.

            You might object that you did get to evidentiary arguments. My response is, by then, what persuasive force they might have had was blunted, if not entirely
            neutralized, by your decision to waste so much ink upfront on issues entirely irrelevant to the real problem.

            Impression Left: Mean-spirited, misses the point, seems almost deliberately misleading.

            (More later)

          • Ron Gould

            I’m entering the discussion here with a bit of trepidation because there are aspects of it that I don’t want to be involved in; but if examples of Dan’s writing being open to rightful accusations of mean-spiritedness is up for discussion, here are a couple of examples:

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2013/12/aieeeeeeee-or-on-women-wearing-pants-to-church.html

            Here’s perhaps the most relevant comment (from me):
            Take your post:

            “I think I’m going to resolve to notice whether any women wear pants to my ward’s sacrament meeting on Sunday.(This coming Sunday is evidently International Defiantly Wear Pants to Latter-day Saint Church Meetings and Strike a Blow Against Oppressive Patriarchy Day, or something like that.)

            But, first, I need to resolve to care.

            And that, I think, is going to be very difficult.

            I’ll almost certainly forget to notice.”

            Taking it on its own, it can be interpreted a number of ways:

            1) I’m going to try to notice women wearing pants on Sunday. It’s a part of some event, afterall. But first I need to resolve to care about what people wear to church. I’ll almost certainly forget because I don’t care what people wear to church.

            2) I’m going to try to notice women wearing pants on Sunday. It’s a part of some event. But first I need to resolve to care about the event. I’ll almost certainly forget because I don’t care about the event.

            3) I’m going to try to notice women wearing pants on Sunday. It’s a part of some event where some women feel oppressed by the supposed church patriarchy. But first I need to resolve to care about these women. I’ll certainly forget because I don’t care about them.

            4) I’m going to try to notice women wearing pants on Sunday. It’s a part of some event, afterall. But first I need to resolve to notice what people are wearing because I tend to focus on things other than clothing.

            Now, suppose someone doesn’t know much about you and visits this post. They might not know which of these readings to go with (and of course more than one is always possible). It seems that Stephanie’s first comment is trying to figure out which is the right reading(s). Her first comment is an attempt to explore 2 and 3. To me it says, “I don’t want to believe 2 and 3, but you seem apathetic.”

            Your response is that her misreading is “miraculous.” As if how in the world could she misread you?

            At which point she retaliates by calling you a “coward” etc. And you retaliate by picking her statement apart.

            Now, we all bring our biases to bear in the act of reading, but if we allow for the same kind of charitable reading that you seem to expect from a reasonable reader, then in granting Stephanie that same charity we should take that first paragraph into account, which expresses a willingness to dismiss readings 2 and 3. Yet your response provides no reasons to foster that willingness.

            If you want an example of your supposed meanness then here it is. It works as follows:

            A) Make a vague statement open to multiple readings.

            B) When people question which reading you intend by inquiring into the more nefarious ones, accuse them of misreading you in a way that belittles them.

            C) When they respond to your meanness with meanness, use it as further evidence of their original intent to smear your.

            Now, I say this as someone who has experienced this precise meanness here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/d

            But also as someone who is fully active in the church and who knows other active members who have been offended by your supposed meanness.

            Can you resolve to care about your likely misreadings?

            More recently, see this:

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2014/01/how-mlks-faith-influenced-his-public-life.html

          • Ron Gould

            I also made the following comment some time ago, which Dan did not respond to:

            This leads me to a more general point. When people object to your so-called rudeness (objections, IMO, that often have tones far worse than anything you’re accused of), my sense is that they are objecting to your mode of discussion in threads such as the MLK thread that I participated in (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/d…. In one discussion you imply that I can’t read (“One of the principal things that has irritated a few here is, in my judgment, their own inability to read. But I’m not responsible for that. It’s our inadequate public schools.” And “If so, I hope that they can read more accurately and with less acute Pavlovian responses than a number of the commenters here have shown.” Also, “You could start by reading and understanding what I’ve already said.”), that I’m not worthy of your time (“I’m massively bored by what I regard as a pointless and futile discussion” and “I think it’s silly and a waste of time…” ), that I’m in line with Stalin (” You’ve already sided with Stalin….” And “You’re to reflect on the interesting fact that you come down on the side of Josef Stalin rather than that of Abraham Lincoln.” Also “I’m with Abraham Lincoln on this one; I regard him as a good companion (certainly better than Comrade Stalin) in questions of morality and ethics.” Lastly, “Welcome to the Gulag.”), and that I’m geared to smear you as a racist (“I’m neither a racist nor insensitive to oppression, and I haven’t appreciated your determined attempt to make me appear so.”).

            That’s quite a bit for one anonymous interaction. Can you explain this behavior as anything other than demeaning?

          • DanielPeterson

            Yes. I can explain it as a genuinely weary reaction to an overlong conversation with somebody who seemed, and continues to seem, weirdly fixated on personally and publicly criticizing me — somebody who has sought me out, rather than vice versa — and whose criticisms are typically, in my judgment, unfair.

            Dozens of posts relentlessly, implacably critical. Seldom if ever addressing any other issue. Suggestions, even, that I’m somehow morally unauthorized to address certain topics that others can freely discuss.

            Charitably, I’ve chosen to view you as a tendentious misreader (e.g., “I’m in line with Stalin”) rather than as deliberately and aggressively perverse.

          • Ron Gould

            Ok, in an effort not to go another 20 rounds, let’s cut to the chase here. That MLK post was the first thread I commented on. Go back to it and show me in that post where I treated you with the contempt that you treated me.

          • DanielPeterson

            That post simply didn’t deserve any charge of racism, nor even any hint that it might justify anybody else’s charge of racism.

            That’s a serious, grave, and, in our society, potentially lethal accusation. And you kept at it. And have returned to it.

            I don’t find it even slightly amusing.

            In fact, I’m sorely tempted, any time anybody accuses me of racism, to simply decline to converse with that person ever again. The accusation is that repulsive to me.

          • Ron Gould

            Then you should write in a way that avoids even the possibility of the accusation.

            I’m happy to pick up the conversation where it left off. You haven’t responded to this:

            Dan, I can see why you would want to stay clear of any accusation of racism. And for the sake of the discussion, let me reiterate that I do not think you are racist. While we all bring our biases to bear in the act of reading, let me explain why I think a reasonable reader could come to the conclusion that your post is based on bias toward or ignorance of a particular community, not because of slopping reading, personal dislike, etc. that you lay out; but rather because of what you say. Note that I’ve backed down from using the term “racism” in regard to the reasonable reader. Here’s my explanation:

            I do not think that a reasonable person could say that many leaders of the Mormon community lack moral courage. A reasonable person might disagree with aspects of the Mormon community, say our insistence that the Word of Wisdom leads to health; but I don’t see how this disagreement would lead to the conclusion that many leaders of the Mormon community lack the moral courage to advocate for a glass of wine after dinner, for instance. As such, I could see how you would disagree with the ways in which individuals such as Al Sharpton would advocate for things, or even disagree about the very things they advocate for. I wouldn’t say that Al Sharpton lacks moral courage though (of course you don’t specificy this, so I’m not sure he would make your list, but if not perhaps you could name names).

            Going back to the Mormon example, if someone were to claim that many leaders of the Mormon community lack moral courage, I would wonder why this person would hold such an opinion. The only things I can think of are the likelihoods that such an opinion is rooted in ignorance of and/or bias toward the Mormon community. My sense is that the same thing holds for the Black community. Now, there are many reasons someone may be bias or ignorant, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that this person is a bad person; just that their opinions are rooted in ill-formed or problematic assumptions.

            In my opinion, making such a claim about the Black community or the Mormon community reveals ignorance of or bias toward those communities; and there often is a double standard where making these kinds of statements about Mormons is tolerated but making these statements about the Black community is not. I would say, though, that both statements are likely to be equally disturbing, and neither should be a part of reasonable discourse.

          • The Oracle

            Daniel – RG is a member. He is speaking to you with perfect civility. He is making well-substantiated points, as I am trying to do. Neither of us has any ulterior motive. We are trying show you that the reputation you have created for yourself is attributable to your own writings. Amongst other things, they often express entirely gratuitous personal contempt toward anyone who dares disagree with you. This makes you seem like a mean-spirited person. This in turn makes Mormonism look bad.

            You seem to think that personal nastiness is morally unobjectionable as long as it is expressed within an apologetic religious context. Most people would disagree. Maybe more importantly, personal nastiness within the context of apologetics makes that apologetics ineffective, and in fact, often counterproductive.

            What would an effective Christian apologist look like? One suggestion: C. S. Lewis. I have read every single C. S. Lewis book, including his autobiography. I have never seen a hint of your brand of demeaning, insulting invective in his writings. By contrast, they are as genial as they are incisive. As a result, they make people *want* to believe as he does. Your writings often do just the opposite, and for just the reasons that RG, I, and so many others, have tried to communicate to you.

          • DanielPeterson

            I’m going to be charitable to you, The Obstacle, and assume that, when you posted this, you hadn’t seen the comment limit that, for my own sanity and for the sake of giving you your life back, I’ve felt obliged to impose on you.

            You’re permitted two more posts between now and 16 March. Perhaps you’ll be authorized to write some more after that.

            The Obstacle: “We are trying show you that the reputation you have created for yourself is attributable to your own writings.”

            Of COURSE the reputation that I have in some circles but, unfortunately for your claims — comparative data, The Obstacle! comparative data! — not in others, comes from my writing. It could scarcely have come from my career with the Boston Celtics. It doesn’t come from my moviegoing, surely, nor from my guitar playing.

            The Obstacle: “We are trying show you that the reputation you hAmongst other things, they often express entirely gratuitous personal contempt toward anyone who dares disagree with you.”

            “Often”! And yet you’ve been able, even with the help of a large number of people who hold me in disdain, to come up with no more than a small handful of weak and dubious examples, culled from thousands and thousands of pages of material published over three decades.

            The Obstacle: “You seem to think that personal nastiness is morally unobjectionable as long as it is expressed within an apologetic religious context.”

            Nope.

            The Obstacle: “Most people would disagree.”

            Of course they would!

            The Obstacle: “Maybe more importantly, personal nastiness within the context of apologetics makes that apologetics ineffective, and in fact, often counterproductive.”

            Quite so.

            The Obstacle: “What would an effective Christian apologist look like? One suggestion: C. S. Lewis. I have read every single C. S. Lewis book, including his autobiography.”

            As have I. Multiple times.

            The Obstacle: “I have never seen a hint of your brand of demeaning, insulting invective in his writings.”

            That isn’t my “brand,” The Obstacle.

            If it were, you wouldn’t have failed so spectacularly to demonstrate it.

            Mr. Lewis, of whom I’ve been a life-long and very serious fan, didn’t have to deal with Internet stalkers.

            You have two more posts between now and the dawn of 16 March. Use them wisely.

            No more rambling obfuscation. (That’s my suggestion, anyway. But it’s up to you.)

            PS — By the way: You write as if you may KNOW RG. In one of your two posts, please clarify. Do you? Or perhaps RG will want to clarify. Is this some sort of wearisome tag-team sport?

          • Ron Gould

            I have no idea who the Oracle is. This is one of the reasons I said I was apprehensive about entering this discussion. Because of the awkwardness of the commenting software I haven’t read all the comments; and I don’t have a sense of what the Oracle is up to.

          • Ron Gould

            I’m guessing the Oracle knows I’m a member since I say so in one of the comments I copied and pasted. I’ve also said it a few times on the threads I’ve linked to.

          • Kent

            RG, there’s something to the need to be extraordinarily careful in speaking of some issues, but you aren’t being fair. Dan didn’t say black leaders lack moral courage. He said they lacked MLK’s moral courage, a very high standard, and clearly meant that only in a particular context. Sure, some people could misunderstand that, but I think more was made of it than it merited. If you think he’s wrong, just give counterexamples. But what he said is very mild compared to what, say, Bill Cosby says about this.

          • DanielPeterson

            And I don’t, by any means, believe that ALL black leaders lack moral courage.

            I had a specific class of black leaders in mind, on a specific issue.

          • Ron Gould

            Kent, I encourage you to read the conversation in its entirety. Here’s the relevant part:

            RG: This isn’t a question of _my_ interpretation, it’s a question of how reasonable others _could_ read your post.

            Take this phrase, for instance: There is still very much to do, and it seems to me that many leaders of the Black community have lacked Martin Luther King’s moral courage and, consequently, have not addressed the vast problems facing those for whom Dr. King gave his life.

            Why isn’t it reasonable to read this as, “Dan is saying that many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage?”

            Dan: That’s precisely what I mean to say.

            Kent, if you read the rest of the conversation you’ll see that I provide three reasons Dan shouldn’t post about MLK/race. He’s demonstrated repeated poor judgment on the topic.
            And if Bill Cosby was seen as a Mormon public intellectual, I’d probably be putting up an even bigger fuss.

          • DanielPeterson

            There are certain opinions, Kent, that should not be held, and that, if they’re held, should not be expressed.

            They needn’t be argued about. They may even be true — as mine on this matter very arguably is — but they should be suppressed.

            And if your opinion on a matter has offended RG in the past, you should never voice an opinion on that matter, ever again, in the future.

            And RG will patiently explain this to you over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until you finally get it through your thick skull.

          • Ron Gould

            Dan, why don’t you actually respond to the argument?

          • DanielPeterson

            I’ve responded to it.

            Multiple times.

            For many weeks.

            Then you repeat it again.

          • Kent

            RG, I read the exchange before I commented, and I think you’re making too much of what he said. Again, if you think he’s wrong, then give counter evidence. Show most black leaders, or some prominent, representative examples, do show moral courage in addressing the problems Dan refers to. I think Obama does, and most Americans outside the black community are unaware of it. Trying to make Dan’s view illegitimate by mere assertion doesn’t advance anything. (My point about Cosby is that he isn’t widely viewed as racist. I don’t think he would be even if he were LDS.)

          • DanielPeterson

            Of course, demonstrating that some black leaders show moral courage on this issue, or even that most do, wouldn’t refute my allegation that some don’t.

            “Some X are Y” is entirely compatible with “Some X are not Y.”

            Thus, the proposition that some Americans are of Scandinavian origin is perfectly consistent with the fact that many Americans are not.

          • Kent

            You said “many,” still compatible with the view that it’s only a minority of them, but suggesting a general problem. In any case, some evidence about the point would be an improvement over the unsupported claims on each side.

          • DanielPeterson

            But, of course, “many” might mean, say, 98 black leaders or 98% of black leaders.

            The former is closer to my intent.

            It’s an impression, not a conclusion drawn from a comprehensive survey.

          • Ron Gould

            Kent, let me make 3 points here:

            1) Dan is the one making the claim that many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage, so if I were to provide counterexamples of this I would need Dan to define the following terms: most, Black community, lack, and moral courage. I can’t refute a claim without more detail (and besides that my interest lies primarily with point 3).

            2) “Show many black leaders… addressing the problems Dan refers to.” This relates back to the example I used regarding the WoW. Someone might reasonably disagree with some claim such as “the WoW leads to physical health,” but this doesn’t mean this person would be right to say that most leaders of the LDS community lack moral courage because they don’t advocate a glass of wine after dinner. If Dan disagrees with the priorities of certain leaders of the Black community, that’s one thing. But it doesn’t follow that disagreement over priorities makes those one disagrees with moral cowards.

            3) I don’t think this particular point is a big deal in the sense of a smoking gun to prove Dan’s racist. I’ve said _several_ times that I don’t think Dan is racist. My point is quite simple: If you cannot write in a way that avoids the possibility of reasonable people reading you as racist then you shouldn’t write about race. All that I’m trying to prove is that a reasonable person could read Dan’s statement as being rooted in ignorance and/or bias about the Black community.

            Do you disagree with any of the following:

            If someone made the above remarks about the Mormon community, I would think he were misinformed with regrads to the community. I would give him the benefit of the doubt, thinking that perhaps he simply based his opinion on bad information, or that maybe he hasn’t clearly conveyed what he was trying to say. If I ask whether he means to say that many leaders of the Mormon community lack moral courage, and he responds with, “Indeed I do,” it would then strenghthen the likelihood that such an opinion is rooted in ignorance and/or bias. Ignorance isn’t a grand evil, we’re all ignorant of some things. The problem is when we put our ignorance on display, seeming to be unaware of such ignorance. Now, I think this is a reasonable reading of the Mormon example above, as well as a reasonable reading of Dan’s post. If you do not think it is a reasonable reading, then you need to show _why_ it is not reasonable.

          • Kent

            You’re laboring too hard over this. Of course a reasonable person could think Dan’s view is rooted in ignorance. Reasonable people can disagree about such things. I don’t think a reasonable person could infer that his view is racist, though, which is what you originally expressed concern about. At most a careless person could misread it to imply that.

            I don’t think the proper response to thinking someone’s view may be based in ignorance or that some careless person could misread it is to tell them to stop writing about it, especially without having shown the slightest error in it or that anyone has inferred it’s racist.

            It isn’t that hard to figure out roughly what Dan was talking about. Some black leaders tend, or seem, to blame problems in the black community on external factors and don’t preach responsibility within the community. I think that was probably more common a decade ago than it is now, and even before was based largely on what black leaders were saying in response to criticism of blacks. Conservative media has sometimes made an issue of this, sometimes based on misinformation, at least where Obama is concerned. But I haven’t looked into it much and couldn’t say very confidently how much of a problem it really is.

          • Chuck Pawboto

            Let me make a major point and a minor point:

            Minor point:

            What do you see as the difference between ignorance and racism?

            Major point:

            If Dan’s intention is to say, “Some black leaders tend, or seem, to blame problems in the black community on external factors and don’t preach responsibility within the community” then that is how he should write. The reason I ask Dan to stop writing on race/MLK is because he has demonstrated repeated poor judgment in expressing his intent on these issues. I’m sure you know about the lynching fiasco last year. I do not believe that Dan intended anything racist by it. It is quite clear though that many reasonable people saw his actions as racist. He very well may intend well, but is not careful. If someone keeps publicly fumbling through the expression of his or her intent on a particular topic, I think it is better that such a person avoid this topic publicly. The primary reason I care here is because what Dan says reflects on our community.

            The logic is pretty simple. People should be careful when talking about sensitive topics like race. People should be all the more careful when making statements about another race. They should be all the more careful when speaking about a race that happens to have been historically suppressed by their race. They should be all the more careful when they happen to be a member of an organization that has struggled with issues of race. They should be all the more careful after writing an MLK post on MLK day that begins by listing his “inequities.” They should be all the more careful after unintentionally posting a picture of a lynching as a kind of joke. Do you disagree that there comes a point in all of this where you have to say that Dan is not careful? It’s not as if there aren’t LDS who can carefully talk about race. Armand Mauss and Patrick Mason come to mind (the latter of which coincidentally wrote the entry for “lynching” in _The Encyclopedia of African American History_).

          • DanielPeterson

            Good grief. ANOTHER lengthy post?

            RG: “He very well may intend well, but is not careful. If someone keeps publicly fumbling through the expression of his or her intent on a particular topic, I think it is better that such a person avoid this topic publicly.”

            The lynching thing was an unfortunate error — but not a moral error. (I thought the people in the photo were white.) The two MLK posts weren’t errors and weren’t racist. They were legitimate expressions of legitimate opinions, opinions shared with many other legitimate people who haven’t yet been detained by the Thought Police, and they don’t justify your hubristic call for me to take a vow of perpetual silence on racial matters.

            RG: “Do you disagree that there comes a point in all of this where you have to say that Dan is not careful?”

            It would come after a series of careless acts. There has been no such series. There wasn’t even a first such act, in the sense you imagine.

            (“All Indians walk in single file lines. At least, the one I saw did.”)

            If you want to improve the image of our community, RG, stop belaboring this issue. Use the time to go out and do some good somewhere.

          • DanielPeterson

            I can’t believe that RG is still going on this. He’s like the Energizer Bunny, only not nearly as amusing.

            RG: “1) Dan is the one making the claim that many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage, so if I were to provide counterexamples of this I would need Dan to define the following terms: most,”

            Fascinating, how RG glides effortlessly from “many” to “most.”

            By “many,” I intended an indeterminate group somewhere between half a dozen and, perhaps, a hundred or so.

            RG: “Black community, lack, and moral courage.”

            I use those terms in their standard meanings.

            RG: “This relates back to the example I used regarding the WoW. Someone might reasonably disagree with some claim such as “the WoW leads to physical health,” but this doesn’t mean this person would be right to say that most leaders of the LDS community lack moral courage because they don’t advocate a glass of wine after dinner.”

            Not a good comparison at all.

            My assertion — and I’m scarcely alone in it or the first to say it — is that most of the most urgently pressing problems facing the American black community today have little if anything to do with racism or racial discrimination, but, very obviously and beyond serious dispute, a very great deal to do with the collapse of black families, the feminization of black poverty, rotten and dysfunctional schools, and the (often black-on-black) violent crime that predictably results from such things. Yet many of the Old Guard of the Civil Rights movement continue to act as if it were still the 1950s, and as if we’re all still living in Mississippi.

            Even Barack Obama has acknowledged that “African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.”

            It’s scarcely racist to point this out, and hardly bigoted to suggest that the leadership of the civil rights movement has been surprisingly uninterested in the matter, except to suggest that it’s the result of white racism.

            Here are some voices with whom I’m pretty much on the same page regarding this cluster of issues:

            http://townhall.com/columnists/walterewilliams/2013/05/08/honest-examination-of-race-n1588213/page/full

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pound_Cake_speech

            http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/337678/liberalism-versus-blacks-thomas-sowell

            http://www.chathamrepublicans.com/archive/2013/07/todays-failed-black-leadership-selling-r.shtml

            http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/72153.Enough

            http://patriotupdate.com/articles/black-leaders-undermining-civil-rights-movement/

            http://lonelyconservative.com/2011/01/walter-williams-its-the-welfare-state-that-killed-the-black-family/

            http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2013/07/09/who-is-racist-n1636228/page/full

            http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/07/shelby-steele-on-the-decline-corruption-and-irrelevance-of-todays-civil-rights-leadership-living-off-fumes-of-the-past/

            http://www.yourblackworld.net/2013/03/black-news/the-black-family-is-worse-off-today-than-in-the-1960s-report-shows/

            http://blogs.ajc.com/cynthia-tucker/2010/09/17/a-new-task-for-civil-rights-activists-educate-black-boys/

            http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v13/v13n2p37_stanwood.html

            http://city-journal.org/html/15_3_black_family.html

            http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1258

            http://dropoutnation.net/2013/06/24/best-of-dropout-nation-when-black-civil-rights-groups-hurt-black-children/

            http://www.nationalcenter.org/P21NVMartinScam1203.html

            http://spectator.org/articles/36920/new-civil-rights-leaders

            http://www.istook.com/2013/08/26/civil-rights-movement-drifts-away-from-core-principles/

            http://dailycaller.com/2011/06/04/walter-e-williams-on-welfare-as-govt-plays-father-black-males-have-become-dispensable/

            http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-on-the-right/102113-675986-success-of-immigrants-should-be-lesson-for-young-minorities.htm

            I decided to stop at twenty links. When RG has read through and refuted these items (and, I hope, taken a pause from pestering me in order to devote a few months to badgering their authors!), I’ll provide twenty more. And perhaps, at that point, I’ll add full-length books to his reading list.

            Even now, though, with only twenty such links, he can hardly persist in his supposition that my viewpoint represents some sort of weird and arguably racist ideological outlier.

            RG: “If you cannot write in a way that avoids the possibility of reasonable people reading you as racist then you shouldn’t write about race.”

            I’ve said this before to RG, but he plainly likes repetition:

            No reasonable person can read my blog entry in a reasonable way and reasonably allege that I’m racist. Anybody reading that column and concluding from it that I’m a racist is, virtually by definition, unreasonable.

            RG: “All that I’m trying to prove is that a reasonable person could read Dan’s statement as being rooted in ignorance and/or bias about the Black community.”

            RG has come nowhere NEAR proving this.

            And, in view of the links I provided above, can any reasonable person reasonably read, say, Walter Williams, Shelby Steele, Thomas Sowell, or Juan Williams as ignorant and biased against the Black community?

            RG: “If someone made the above remarks about the Mormon community, I would think he were misinformed with regrads to the community.”

            So would I, because I don’t think it’s true with regard to the Mormon community. It’s profoundly sad that, to a greater or lesser degree, it IS true regarding the black community today. I pray that this will change.

          • Chuck Pawboto

            Dan, thank you for a thoughtful response. If you can find three more of these in the previous thread, I think it’s fair to conclude that I’m being stubborn in persisting that you haven’t really addressed the argument; but this is to my knowledge one of the few times you actually do.

            Let me first say that I did catch the “many” to “most” in my comment about 10 minutes after I posted it. I actually changed it before I saw your response. Many is indeed in question and not most; however, my point was never to say that there aren’t problems among African Americans, or that leaders in the Black community shouldn’t be pursuing alternative avenues for these issues. It’s been with your label of lacking moral courage. I think I’ve been crystal clear that this is at the root of the problem.

            If you could kindly provide me 20 links that demonstrate that many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage that would actually go a lot further than 20 links that explain problems among the Black community. I get it that you think many leaders of the Black community should revisit their priorities; that in and of it self doesn’t open a big door to ignorance or racism. Saying that they lack moral courage, however, does.

            If you’re using moral courage in its standard sense (whatever that means), I imagine you mean something like many leaders of the Black community are afraid to stand up for their values. I don’t see many leaders of the Black community afraid to stand up for their values. I see them as perhaps prioritizing their values in a way that you do not agree with, or pursuing values that you do agree with in a way that you do not agree with. I do not see any fear, however.

            And this is where the Mormon example comes in. People may disagree with our values or the way in which we pursue shared values, but I don’t see any legitimate claim to be made with regard to many leaders of the LDS community lacking moral courage. I’m glad you agree with my statement in this regard. With the more you say, however, it’s becoming clearer that the two situations are relevant parallels. To destroy the parallel you’d have to demonstrate that you’re not simply disagreeing with the Black community’s prioritizing of values or the ways in which they pursue shared values, but that many of them actually lack moral courage.

            You say that I’ve come no where near proving that a reasonable person could read your statement about moral courage as rooted in ignorance or bias, so would you say that Kent is not reasonable? He stated upthread that indeed a reasonable person could read it as rooted in ignorance. Not only that, note that Kiwi, one of your biggest defenders dropped out of the pervious conversation after being unable to refute the points I’ve raised. Similar story with David6.

            Lastly, let me state again that I’m not accusing you of some moral error. I’m accusing you of using poor judgment in expressing your intent. You were not careful in posting the lynching photo. That is beyond debate. None of the other posts rise to that level. But how many careless acts does it take before someone should think twice before posting on such a topic?

          • DanielPeterson

            RG: “If you could kindly provide me 20 links that demonstrate that many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage that would actually go a lot further than 20 links that explain problems among the Black community.”

            I suspect that you didn’t read all twenty links, because some make essentially that point. They may not use my precise language, but they’re at least as harsh and equally negative.

            RG: “I get it that you think many leaders of the Black community should revisit their priorities; that in and of it self doesn’t open a big door to ignorance or racism. Saying that they lack moral courage, however, does.”

            Why?

            I don’t treat black people — politicians, or anybody else — any differently than I treat non-black people. That, I think, is a matter of showing them simple respect.

            RG: “If you’re using moral courage in its standard sense (whatever that means), I imagine you mean something like many leaders of the Black community are afraid to stand up for their values. I don’t see many leaders of the Black community afraid to stand up for their values. I see them as perhaps prioritizing their values in a way that you do not agree with, or pursuing values that you do agree with in a way that you do not agree with. I do not see any fear, however.”

            Fine. You disagree with me. What does any of that have to do with racism or lack of racism?

            It’s a matter that can be discussed without race, as such, playing any role. The people in question happen to be black, but that’s essentially irrelevant.

            RG: “With the more you say, however, it’s becoming clearer that the two situations are relevant parallels.”

            I see no great relevance.

            You’ve been trying this tack for a long time. It’s plainly not working. I’m sure you’re familiar with the definition of “insanity” as “doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results”?

            RG: “To destroy the parallel you’d have to demonstrate that you’re not simply disagreeing with the Black community’s prioritizing of values or the ways in which they pursue shared values, but that many of them actually lack moral courage.”

            How am I supposed to demonstrate that to your satisfaction? Is there a spectroscopic test that might settle it for you? A mathematical proof that would lay the matter to rest?

            We disagree. That’s all. It has nothing to do with race.

            RG: “You say that I’ve come no where near proving that a reasonable person could read your statement about moral courage as rooted in ignorance or bias,”

            I believe that I’ve said that no reasonable person could read my statement as racist.

            A person disagreeing with me could obviously conclude that I simply don’t know what I’m talking about, but that’s a quite different matter.

            RG: “so would you say that Kent is not reasonable? He stated upthread that indeed a reasonable person could read it as rooted in ignorance.”

            No, i wouldn’t. But his statement is entirely consistent with mine.

            RG: “Not only that, note that Kiwi, one of your biggest defenders dropped out of the pervious conversation after being unable to refute the points I’ve raised.”

            He may have grown bored. This is very tedious. It savors of obsession on your part. It will, likely, soon savor of deleted comments. (I really don’t have the time to continue with this for more than a few more decades.)

            RG: “Similar story with David6.”

            I haven’t followed that one. I haven’t followed most of the posts here of late. I’ve got too many other things to do. This is an old entry. I’ve posted many since this one. I’ve moved on, and recommend the same course to YOU.

            RG: “I’m accusing you of using poor judgment in expressing your intent.”

            And I’m still rejecting your accusation.

            And it’s exceedingly unlikely that I’m going to stop doing so.

            RG: “You were not careful in posting the lynching photo. That is beyond debate.”

            True. I thought the victims in the photo (which was very small at the site where I found it) were white.

            When I realized what had happened, I removed the photo and apologized. There’s really not much more to be said about it, and, no, I won’t allow you to gag me in perpetuity, because of it, from ever commenting on any topic connected with black people.

            RG: “None of the other posts rise to that level.”

            That’s putting it very, very mildly.

            RG: “But how many careless acts does it take before someone should think twice before posting on such a topic?”

            It ought to be . . . just thinking out loud here . . . lessee . . . more than ONE?

            You might as well give it up, RG. I’m simply not ever going to take the vow of silence that you’ve so kindly sought to impose on me. Never. Not ever. Period.

          • Chuck Pawboto

            If there is such an abundance of evidence that demonstrates that many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage, let’s see it. I’ve looked through the links you’ve provided, and while I haven’t read them all very closely I don’t see evidence that many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage. I see quite a few people that agree with you regarding leaders of the Black community needing to re-prioritize their values or pursue shared values in a different way, but I do not see evidence that many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage. I also did not see any of these authors making such an accusation; but even if some did, that wouldn’t constitute evidence that many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage. It would only mean that such a view is held by as many people that make the claim (do any of them even claim that many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage?).

            Dan, this isn’t a case of the two of us agreeing to disagree. I may even agree with you regarding the need of leaders of the Black community to revisit the way they pursue shared values; but that issue is not on the table. The issue on the table (the same issue that has always been on the table) is whether or not many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage. To date you have not been able to provide one shred of evidence for this. Everything else you’ve said, and the evidence you’ve provided, suggest that you believe that leaders of the Black community need to revisit their priorities or rethink they way they pursue their values. If that is your intent, then that’s fine. But that doesn’t match up with your language of lacking moral courage.

            So you’re left with providing enough evidence to substantiate the claim about lacking moral courage or owning up to the fact that you choose your words poorly.

            If (or more likely when) you fail to substantiate such a claim, we’re back to the question of whether or not a reasonable person could see the claim about lacking moral courage as rooted in ignorance/bias (or possibly racism). If no good argument can be made for many leaders of the Black community lacking moral courage, I think it’s quite reasonable for a reasonable reader to assume that such a claim is in fact rooted in ignorance, bias, and possibly racism (where else could it come from?).

            Now, I believe you chose your words poorly, which means that you didn’t intend any expression of ignorance, bias, let alone racism; but if you’re unable to prove that in fact many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage, then the reasonable reader could certainly misunderstand your intent. And if this is the case, then this is clearly another example of your poor judgment in expressing your intent. So in the end I’m glad you agree that someone should think twice about posting on the topic of race if there has been more than one careless act.

          • DanielPeterson

            Thank you, RG. Yes, I’ve been having a wonderful sabbath.

            But now to your latest tome:

            RG: “If there is such an abundance of evidence that demonstrates that many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage, let’s see it.”

            In my judgment, you’ve seen it.

            You simply don’t view it the way I do.

            I’m fine with that. I won’t even seek to bind you with a perpetual vow of silence on the topic merely because I think you’re wrong. (I’m probably going to deprive you of your platform here fairly soon, though. 2,422,737 posts on the topic is probably about enough.)

            RG: “Dan, this isn’t a case of the two of us agreeing to disagree.”

            That’s correct. It’s a case of my agreeing to disagree and your refusal to do so.

            RG: “To date you have not been able to provide one shred of evidence for this.”

            I think it transparently obvious.

            If you prefer to use different language, that’s up to you.

            RG: “So you’re left with providing enough evidence to substantiate the claim about lacking moral courage or owning up to the fact that you choose your words poorly.”

            Those are scarcely the only two options.

            RG: “If (or more likely when) you fail to substantiate such a claim, we’re back to the question of whether or not a reasonable person could see the claim about lacking moral courage as rooted in ignorance/bias (or possibly racism).”

            Drop the “ignorance” gambit. It’s obvious that that’s a pretty common way for explaining why others don’t see what one thinks obvious.

            Racism is the real issue here.

            If no good argument can be made for many leaders of the Black community lacking moral courage, I think it’s quite reasonable for a reasonable reader to assume that such a claim is in fact rooted in ignorance, bias, and possibly racism (where else could it come from?).

            RG: “if you’re unable to prove that in fact many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage,”

            I have literally no idea how you expect me to “prove” such a proposition to your satisfaction. Using algebra? A litmus test? Geological samples? Newly deciphered cuneiform texts? DNA?

            How can one “prove” such a thing?

            RG: “I’m glad you agree that someone should think twice about posting on the topic of race if there has been more than one careless act.”

            It’s scarcely a novel or controversial thought.

          • Chuck Pawboto

            Dan, I’ll never mention this particular issue again if you can go back to the OP and find 3 substantive reponses you made to me (i.e., responses in line with the one you offered here listing those websites). Take it back; if you can find 2 substantive responses you made to me, I’ll never bring this issue up again. Should be pretty easy, because surely you’d respond substantively somewhere during my 2,422,737 comments on the topic.
            If you can’t find at least 2 substantive responses, I think you need to revisit how you make your arguments. Particularly, you want to hold to the claim that many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage. You provide some information about problems among the Black community and people’s interpretations of that data explaining that leaders of the Black community need to revisit the way they pursue their values. This isn’t a matter of interpreting the information differently because you’ve provided _no_ argument for an interpretation. If your interpretation is so self evident, surely you can at least find commentators that make a similar interpretation (not that this would make your argument, but at least it would establish the fact that you aren’t totally out on a limb here). Do you really believe that many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage? Or do you really believe that many leaders of the Black community should revisit they way in which they pursue their values (or perhaps they should adopt new values, reprioritize old values, etc.)? Further, you’ve failed to demonstrate how the claim “many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage” could be rooted in anything other than ignorance of or bias toward the Black community. While this may not prove racism, it certainly doesn’t do anything to close that door.
            Look Dan, here’s the larger issue. You’re obviously free to post on anything you want. I’d gladly ignore your posts if I knew that there weren’t other peole who’d see them and think less of the LDS (intellectual) community. This isn’t a plea from some ex-Mormon trying to destroy the faith, or even from some fringe member trying to assert a political agenda; I’m a fully active temple-recommend-holding LDS who sees that sometimes you exercise poor judgment in expressing your intent. We all do. It’s not a big deal. It becomes a big deal, however, when we do this repeatedly, in public, on the same issue. It becomes even worse when you want to hold to your guns, and demean just about anyone that disagrees with you. If you’d like evidence of the way in which you demean people, go back to my comment about the MLK post you did in 2013. You claim that you made those comments after a long and tedious converstation, but you started making those accusations after my 3rd comment; and even though I likewise felt the converstation to have become tedious I never treated you with less respect than another person deserves.

          • kiwi57

            RG: “Not only that, note that Kiwi, one of your biggest defenders dropped out of the pervious conversation after being unable to refute the points I’ve raised.”

            Did I? I hadn’t noticed.

          • Chuck Pawboto

            How unlike yourself.

          • DanielPeterson

            RG: “How unlike yourself.”

            To whom is this addressed. To what is it referring?

          • Chuck Pawboto

            It is a response to Kiwi; referring to the fact that he doesn’t usually not notice dropping out of converstations he’s entered into.

          • DanielPeterson

            RG: “Dan is the one making the claim that many leaders of the Black community lack moral courage, so if I were to provide counterexamples of this . . . ”

            Counterexamples won’t be enough, RG. Logically speaking, “Many X are Y” is entirely compatible with “Many X are not-Y.”

            The fact that many humans are female doesn’t disprove the claim that many humans AREN’T female.

            That many dogs are German shepherds doesn’t falsify the proposition that many dogs are beagles.

            You have a very big task ahead of you. So, at a minimum, you should be clear about how to define it in terms of logic.

          • Kent

            Oracle, it may be unfair for me to criticize you at this point, since Dan has restricted your ability to respond, but the details of your charges don’t rise to the level of requiring the detailed responses Dan has given. You’ve clearly failed to substantiate your original claims, or even your scaled back present ones.

            I think you overestimate your own virtue, and consequently aren’t as suited to pulling the mote out of Dan’s eye as you imagine. You believe you’re speaking to him with respect, and giving him the benefit of the doubt, but you stretch what he says, take it out of context, and generally read it in a more uncharitable way than necessary. That’s the opposite of respect and benefit of the doubt. Your certainty that almost everyone would agree with your view of your examples shows you lack the clear view you think you have. Rather you’re exhibiting what you oppose.

            That isn’t to say there isn’t an important issue here. How should charity operate in discussions like these? I don’t claim to know, but it’s clearly a problem. Conventionally, different contexts require different tones, and the level of pugilism appropriate for internet comment boards is very different from that called for in the Ensign, or even Deseret News columns. Jesus’s teachings about how to treat others may not comfortably fit what’s conventional, though. Should people only write like C.S. Lewis. would that really be effective? Should there be a division of labor? When you have it figured out, I’ll be glad to learn from you about it.

          • DanielPeterson

            I thought it was pretty clear that I intended (1). I still think so. And others recognized that.

            If it wasn’t clear, though, I spelled it out clearly, beyond reasonable doubt, in the comments that followed.

            And you haven’t given the full flavor of Stephanie’s comment, to which I responded. She wasn’t merely inquiring. She accused me of not caring about people, and of being the antithesis of the Savior in that regard.

            You seem to expect that, having been justly accused by somebody who’s never met me, I should have conceded my unchristian attitudes and behavior. But I wasn’t the only person who felt that she had gone far beyond what she knew, and far beyond the noncommittal questions that you ascribe to her.

            As for your suggestion that, because of my alleged sins, I should subject myself to a permanent ban from ever publicly commenting on Martin Luther King . . . well, I found that impertinent and offensive. And I still do.

            Note, by the way, that your examples of my meanness of spirit all involve my responses to people who have publicly attacked or criticized me. It reminds of the French saying: “Cet animal est très méchant. Quand on l’attaque il se défend.”

            We’re not going to discuss this for another twenty rounds. I realize that you’ll chalk this up as yet another specimen of my viciousness, but, nonetheless, I really don’t have the time, and I really do find the topic boring.

          • Ron Gould

            “And you haven’t given the full flavor of Stephanie’s comment, to which I responded. She wasn’t merely inquiring. She accused me of not caring about people, and of being the antithesis of the Savior in that regard.”

            Here is more of her comment:

            “I don’t think you are an evil apologist, a political reactionary, and an all-around reactionary troglodyte (I just copied and pasted that, hence the font change.) And I imagine you do care, in general, about women and their well-being. I don’t know you well enough to say much about you, and honestly, the only thing I’ve read from you is this post.

            But I am a little concerned with how proud you are of your apathy, since that is the antithesis of what the Savior taught, and the antithesis for our purpose here on earth.”

            If I were you I would have responded by saying:

            “I’m glad you don’t think I’m evil; and you’re right that I do care. I think you misunderstood my post. I am not apathetic at all. Rather….”

            Instead you responded by saying:

            “It strikes me as virtually miraculous that you can take a post in which I say that I really don’t care whether women wear pants to church or not, transmogrify it into an admission on my part that I’m so apathetic that I don’t notice people who are hurting and that I disdain people who need help or might vary from my rigid and heartless orthodoxy, and then, right after acknowledging that you don’t know me and haven’t read anything else from me, proceed to lecture me on my supposed character defects.

            Good grief.”
            This is precisely what I’m talking about; and is a prime example of your supposed meanness. She then responds in kind; and now you’ve created an enemy.
            Now, you say:

            “You seem to expect that, having been justly accused by somebody who’s never met me, I should have conceded my unchristian attitudes and behavior.”
            Not at all. I think you should have corrected her, seeing how her misreading was possible given your vague OP.
            If you’d like to get into the other examples as well, I can do that since neither you, nor Kiwi, nor David6 was able to prove that your statement about the black community could not be read as rooted in ignorance and/or bias.

          • DanielPeterson

            If that’s the worst you can come up with, read as negatively as you’re reading it, I think there are other crusades out there that need your lance.

          • Ron Gould

            Dan, you’ve wondered about why people charge you with being mean; and I’m trying to tell you why. You have a tendency to treat people that disagree with you indecently. The nice thing about Disqus is that you can scroll through every comment someone has made. How many comments can you find that I’ve made where I treat you as anything less than an individual worthy of respect? Because I can find quite a few where you do not treat me as such.

          • DanielPeterson

            “Indecently”?

            Come on.

            And do you really not realize how personally and persistently insulting your hints of racism were?

          • DanielPeterson

            The Obstacle: “Hear me out here for a few minutes – not for me, but 
maybe, for you.”

            Aww, shucks.

            The Obstacle: “I can’t say I am your friend,”

            No, you can’t. If you were even remotely friendly, you wouldn’t have (vainly) sought ammunition for your criticisms of me at a board whose routine treatment of me – including, again, within the past twenty four hours — is, by several light years, far worse than the worst you’ve accused me of.

            The Obstacle: “but my sincere intention is to try to help you see something new which might help you in your endeavors, and maybe even in your life.”

            Uh huh.

            This is obfuscation.

            You have literally thousands and thousands of pages to draw from—from things that I’ve written, and things that I’ve published from others, over three decades—in
            order to demonstrate that “mean-spiritedness,” “small-mindedness,” and “viciousness” are dominant or representative traits of my publications. You’ve even enlisted the help of others who hate me, imploring them to assist you in mounting your case.

            Others have done this before you. With the same results.

            And now you’re trying to direct attention away from your failure to produce the evidence you apparently imagined would be so easy to locate.

            The Obstacle: “There is an old rule that aspiring
            writers have: if they hear the same criticism of their submission from three different sources, they should take it as gospel.”

            Anybody who writes on controversial topics is going to have at least three readers who strongly object to or dislike her writing. Your rule has some merit in certain respects. But it would entirely silence any and all controversial writing on either politics or religion.

            The Obstacle: “With regards to your apologetic approach, far more than three people have tried to tell you for over two decades how off-putting it is.”

            Yes.

            The Obstacle: “The number is probably in the hundreds, if not thousands.”

            Actually, no, it’s not. Perhaps twenty or a dozen.

            I’ve heard positive things from FAR more people.

            The Obstacle: “It includes Mormons as 
well as non-Mormons.”

            I’ve received positive and negative comments from both. I think all of the non-Mormons have been ex-Mormons. Perhaps there have been a few exceptions to that, but not a significant number.

            The Obstacle: “Yet, you continue to deny any possible validity to this opinion, saying that only ideological prejudice, unreason, or unfairness could motivate it.”

            I think differences in taste also play a role. Some people – perhaps a slightly disproportionate number among Mormons, who tend to be very nice – simply dislike and avoid clashes or controversy.

            But your failure to produce a significant and representative sample of “mean-spirited,” “small-minded,” and “vicious” things from me tends rather strongly, I think, to reinforce my claim that such accusations are indeed baseless. And that very many of them rest upon ideological prejudice, unreason, and/or unfairness. And the fact that you went to the highly ideological message board that you did in order to seek help in your campaign certainly reinforces my view. So does your manifest willingness, in your zeal to expose my supposed misdeeds, to overlook their rhetoric, which is routinely far more “vicious,” “mean-spirited,” and “small-minded” than even the worst episodes of which you’ve accused me.

            The Obstacle: “My first question to you is: Which is more likely: (A) that so many people, from devout Mormon to devout atheist ex- or never-Mormon and in between, should share the identical opinion of your writings (or those you have published) despite it having no basis in reality; or that (B) it has at least a basis in reality which you might not be able to see, and which might be valid?”

            Undoubtedly (B).

            But you’ve provided no actual number to suggest how many your “so many people” represent. And you’ve provided no numbers for comparison. How many people like and approve of the things I’ve published? How many ordinary folks, unacquainted with me AND with the board to which you so comfortably went for assistance, would judge me more “vicious,” “small-minded,” and “mean-spirited” than that message board? What do you think the believing Mormons who’ve expressed discomfort with my style would say, if they were to be exposed to the rhetoric in the place where you hang out and look for allies?

            I can understand why you’re so plainly reluctant to put together a comparative sampling from your message board.

            The Obstacle: “I believe that most reasonable people would say (B). And just for a moment, consider that possibility. So, the next question is: If there is a valid basis for that view, what is it?”

            I’ve already suggested a few things: Ideological enmity, dislike of strife, unfairness, the momentum of a reputation that they haven’t really examined, and so forth.

            Clearly, as your failure to produce relevant evidence has demonstrated yet again, there’s little or no objective basis for the notion that I’m typically “mean-spirited,” “small-minded,” and “vicious.”

            The Obstacle: “Let me quickly recap before elaborating.”

            You again bring up my discussion with (mostly if not entirely) aggressive ex-Mormons on a Jewish blog. (Why this old example again? Are you already repeating yourself?) You judge me to have been insufficiently empathetic. I think you’re wrong. But let’s, for purposes of argument, say that — although I’ve actually, in real life, lived in Israel, and visited Israel many times, and spent a great deal of time making repeated pilgrimages to Nazi concentration camps, and to the national Holocaust Museum, and to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, and to academic conferences on the Holocaust, and although my father was directly involved in the liberation of the extermination camps at Mauthausen and Gusen – I mysteriously lack empathetic understanding of the Holocaust. That still fails to prove me “small-minded” and “mean-spirited,” let alone “vicious.”

            The Obstacle: “you were callous and flippant, in post after post. Not one in a thousand people would disagree with
            that assessment.”

            And you know that . . . how, exactly?

            Do you also have figures on how your focus group would respond to the actual people with whom I was interacting? I wasn’t, you know, posting in a vacuum.

            The Obstacle: “The result is, you came across as a jerk. As in, ‘mean-spirited’. Are you a mean-spirited jerk 
in real life? I don’t know. What I do know is that almost everyone reading that who wasn’t also a committed Mormon apologist of a very unique type would think you were.”

            And you know that . . . how, exactly?

            The Obstacle: “That you might not be able to see that does not mean it is not so. It is so.”

            Sounds like a declaration from Mount Sinai.

            The Obstacle: “When I cited this example to you in my previous post, you immediately dismissed it on grounds the discussion was from ‘quite a few years ago’. That is not a valid basis for dismissal.”

            It’s a very valid reason for suggesting that you lack adequate evidence to demonstrate me to be “vicious,” “mean-spirited,” and “small-minded.”

            The fact that you had to reach so far back, to a dubious and rather weak example culled from an obscure discussion in the comments section of a Jewish blog – and that you had to depend on others to point even this specimen out to you – suggests that “viciousness,” “mean-spiritedness,” and “small-mindedness” aren’t the characteristic hallmarks of my writing and publishing that you pretend them to be. I publish at least one newspaper column every week. I post several blog entries a day. The e-journal that I edit puts out an entire book-length issue nearly every two months.
            We’ve just published a very large hardcover book. If your claim had any real merit, you wouldn’t have to invoke the aid of a viciously hostile message board and, even then, to reach many years back, in order to come up with damning examples of my crimes. They should be everywhere.

            The Obstacle: “You have been a Mormon apologist for -what, three decades?”

            Precisely. A long time.

            So why are your examples so weak and so sparse?

            The Obstacle: “Your all-too-predictable response to this example raises the spectre of a potential “game” here, in which I float up example after example to try to get you to see what so many others have tried to get you to see, each of which you then reflexively dismiss, after which I cite more 
examples, which you then reflexively dismiss again, forever.”

            You can’t come up any substantial number of solid examples. Out of thousands and thousands of pages over
            three decades. You know it, and you’re doing damage control. (And offering up insults: “”all too predictable,” “reflexively,” “reflexively.”)

            The Obstacle: “But I don’t want to play any such game.”

            Of course you don’t.

            And I don’t want to play defensive lineman in the NFL, or compete for the Heavyweight Championship of the World.

            Fortunately, as it happens, I don’t want to go on playing your game, either.

            Put up, as the saying goes, or shut up.

            The Obstacle: “But, a few more examples. The old MAD board used to be a veritable treasure trove of them, but I was surprised
to discover that all of your posts on there have been deleted.”

            I’m surprised to hear it, and wonder whether it’s true.

            The Obstacle: “1.) In a blog post from lastOctober, you compare “certain critics of Mormonism” to “apes”, and imply they are “hollow headed (http://www.ldsmag.com/article/…. Impression Left: not particularly nice.”

            But far nicer, even read as negatively as possible, than the stuff routinely said about me and others on the board to which you turned for help in constructing your case against me. It’s pretty obvious why you don’t supply comparative materials.

            Your link doesn’t seem to work, but I found the post to which you refer. The “ape” and “hollow” images occur in
            aphorisms from the eighteenth-century German satirist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg. You seem to lack a sense of humor.

            The Obstacle: “2.) Despite you sometimes endorsing, or publishing as an editor, apologetic pieces written by those
            without scholarly credentials, you criticize T. S. Ferguson, a trained lawyer, for not having a scholarly temperament,”

            That’s right. Legal training doesn’t necessarily make someone a scholar, just as scholarship doesn’t make one a lawyer or a plumber.

            And we said what we did on the basis of, among other things, very specific comments from his longtime friend Professor John Sorenson, who, as a young man, spent weeks with Ferguson doing an archaeological survey of pre-Classic sites in the Chiapas Depression.

            It was a book review. Reviews are sometimes negative. That doesn’t necessarily make them “vicious,” “mean-spirited,” or “small-minded.”

            The Obstacle: “‘Let us, however, accept the possibility that Ferguson may indeed have lost his faith in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon for a time..(T)he question that frankly comes to our minds when we consider the claim that
Thomas Ferguson lost his faith is “So what?”’ http://publications.maxwellins…”

            Yup. Why is it particularly significant that Thomas Stuart Ferguson may have lost his faith? Why would his particular loss of faith merit a book? Why have so many critics seen special importance in his possible apostasy? His reasons for unbelief don’t seem particularly impressive.

            M. Wells Jakeman didn’t lose HIS faith. But he gets no book. Why?

            Ross Christensen didn’t lose his faith. But he gets no book. Why?

            Bruce Warren didn’t lose his faith. But he gets no book. Why?

            Perhaps even more appropriately, Paul Cheesman and Milton R. Hunter didn’t lose THEIR faith. But they get no biographical studies, either. Why?

            The Obstacle: “Contrast your attitude here to Christ’s attitude toward those who have left the fold:”

            You utterly miss the point. I care about T. S. Ferguson’s soul as much as I care about anybody else’s. I find his story deeply sad.

            But I don’t regard him as a significant scholar of either archaeology or the Book of Mormon. Certainly no more significant than Jakeman, Christensen, Warren, Cheesman, or Hunter. Why, then, have so many critics of Mormonism tried to infuse his particular story with such symbolic importance?

            The Obstacle: “Impression Left: Unfair, uncaring, and unchristian.”

            An unjust and misguided impression.

            The Obstacle: “3.) In one place, you write: ‘For one thing, some of us—mostly men, I think—can waste hours fighting with hostile critics solely because we like to win. Moreover, when the church has been attacked, or when we ourselves have been personally
attacked (I know something about this), it’s impossible not to want to respond, and it’s very difficult not to do so. But it seldom does any good. Mostly, it only generates what the Book of Mormon condemns as “the spirit of
 contention.” And it’s not about you (or me) anyway.’ http://publications.maxwellins… True enough.”

            Yes. I’m acutely aware of the spiritual dangers in apologetics.

            Which rather works against your claim that I lack self-awareness and need your help.

            The Obstacle: “Yet, despite this moment of clarity, you write thousands, and thousands – and thousands – of words, throughout your career as a FARMS Review editor and writer,”

            From which you can scarcely come up with anything at all, however weak, to justify your claim that what I publish is characteristically “vicious,” “mean-spirited,” and “small-minded.”

            The Obstacle: “railing against the likes of Ed Decker, Bob McKay, Bill McKeever, Eric Johnson, Loftes Tryk, Marian Bodine, John Ankerberg, etc. Their pieces, you say, are ‘worthless’, and ‘soporific’, and ‘sophomoric’. They themselves are often ‘dishonest’. They can’t spell. They can’t punctuate. They can’t get their facts straight. They think Bruce R. McConkie as a ‘seventy’. They confuse
            Joseph F. Smith with Joseph Fielding Smith.”

            Hardly a fair summary of my “thousands, and thousands – and thousands – of words.”

            Though even your distilled, slanted, and unrepresentative distillation shows me to be far more gentle than the message board to which you went for help in your campaign against me.

            Which is, obviously, why you decline to provide comparative materials.

            The Obstacle: “They are the enemies. They have attacked; now they must be attacked in return.”

            Their claims needed response.

            Are you opposed to responding to claims? Why, if so, are you writing to me?

            The Obstacle: “But…why? You yourself write that they ‘scarcely have the firepower (or the intellectual candlepower), in and of themselves, to do much damage to the claims of the restored church’. http://publications.maxwellins… So, if that is the case, why contradict your own moment of clarity by going on to write thousands upon thousands of words, throughout multiple FARMS Reviews, trying to do a ‘demolition’ job on them? (‘Demolition’ is your word, from your essay ‘Of Polemics’). Only conceivable answer: because, in the end, despite your moment of clarity, it really *was* often because you ‘like to win’, and it often really *was* ‘about you’.”

            Thank you for dropping the mask of personal solicitude and allowing your personal disdain to show more plainly. I don’t know whether or how many other people may be watching this exchange, but I think they’ll understand you better now. (Though, if they have any idea of the nature of the message board where you sought help in your mission, they’ll already have taken your measure pretty accurately.)

            My concern with the works of Decker and the others wasn’t because they represented good scholarship, but because they were selling well in Evangelical bookstores, setting the image of Mormons and Mormonism for perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent Protestants.

            I feel the same way with regard to sensationalist anti-Islamic writing.

            The Obstacle: “Impression Left: Daniel Peterson is gratuitously contentious. He is also confused, and/or hypocritical.”

            A solid example of the unfair and ideologically motivated character of much of the criticism aimed at me in this regard. Thanks for providing it.

            The Obstacle: “4.) In Joseph Smith’s letter to John Wentworth, available on the church’s official website (https://www.lds.org/ensign/200…, he 
writes:”

            You’re losing focus now, slipping into a different talking-point. I flatly deny your claims in any case, regarding both Joseph Smith and DNA.

            The Obstacle: “(More later)”

            Maybe.

            This has taken too much of my time.

            Come up with something solid, or don’t bother – because I’ll just remove it.

            You’ve shown, thus far, that you have nothing that really demonstrates my publications to be characteristically “vicious,” “mean-spirited,” or “small-minded.”

            Do I engage in controversy? Yes. Is everybody happy with that, or with the specific positions that I defend? No. Am I, rhetorically speaking, anywhere near the worst on the Web, or among writers on Mormonism? No. Not by thousands of miles. Am I within light years of your friends on the message board where you sought help? Demonstrably not.

            Get serious. Or drop this quixotic little effort of yours. It hasn’t gone well thus far, and there’s little promise of improvement.

          • The Oracle

            Daniel:

            Your objections make little sense. Allow me to respond to each as concisely as I can, below.

            1.) Your initial “aw shucks” comment is itself an example of a boorishness, bordering on personal animosity, entirely unmerited by anything I have said to you in our exchanges here. I have spoken to you with respect; I am speaking in all sincerity; I have repeatedly given you the benefit of the doubt by saying that the offputting aspects of your writing might not reflect how you really are in person; I have even expressed sympathy for the way Bradford et al threw you under the bus; and in return, you have repeatedly addressed me in a sarcastic, derisive way. That alone should give you an indication of why people are put off by you.

            2.) That RFM posters have lashed out at you in the past 24 hours has absolutely nothing to do with me, and does not invalidate your own history of belittling, scorning, and mocking others, all (bizarrely) while ostensibly trying to
            represent and defend a religion claiming to be run by Jesus Christ himself.

            3.) I am not disputing that some people on the Recovery from Mormonism have spoken harshly of you. I am also not defending that fact. But that is not the issue we’re discussing here. We’re discussing your assertion that only unfairness, unreason, or ideological prejudice could ever lead someone (including Mormons) to view your writings as “argumentative”, “polemical”, “rude”, “mean-spirited”, “cold”, etc. That assertion is simply not true. The fairest, most reasonable, and most objective people imaginable would (and have) view many of your comments in just that way, as they would if *anyone* else,
            regardless of what religion they belonged to, had made them.

            4.) I took a second to solicit examples from the RFM board for a few reasons. One is that, over the years, you have hurt some of the people over there, so I thought a few of their experiences might help you understand that your unfortunate reputation has a valid basis. Another is that I don’t have a lot of time these days, so I thought it would save me some time. Another is that many of your more notorious chat board exchange are no longer around, that I can see. Another is that reading through 6000 word essays about how stupid evangelical anti-Mormons are, or why the Hill Cumorah might be in Mexico (or whatever the latest suggestion is – isn’t it Malaysia now?), or defending the “dirty business” of polemical apologetics, is tedious, as even you concede:

            “As long as I remain editor, the ‘Editor’s Introduction’ will continue to be a place where I offer my observations on passing phenomena germane to Mormonism to an audience that, by and large, probably wishes I would keep them to myself.”
            http://publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1438&index=1

            Well, yeah – not even Shakespeare could make a 6000 word review of some stupid evangelical anti-Mormon book less than tedious.

            In any case, yes, I sought to save myself some headache.

            5.) Your “uh huh” comment is a gratuitous insinuation of insincerity, and a personal sleight. Why do you think that’s necessary? Is your imagination so impoverished, or so paranoid, that you cannot conceive of the possibility of any but nefarious motives for my comments?

            I’m only doing this because I think you’re probably a well-meaning guy who, for whatever reason, is completely incapable of seeing how you often come across to others, and as a result of that, *hurt them*, and helped turn them off Mormonism, for no good reason. I have a low opinion of John Dehlin, but when he mentioned to his GA friend how offputting the approach you defend in “Of Polemics” is (remember your word, “demolition”?), he is spot on. Hell, even *you* admitted, in a moment of clarity, that that
            approach usually didn’t work. And you – and Dehlin – and I – are right: other than impressing a handful of Mormon guys, it’s pretty much useless. No wonder Bradford et al wanted to move in a different direction.

            On that note, I have to wonder how long it will be until the Neal Maxwell Institute website removes the archived FARMS Reviews. Why, with but a few keystrokes, they could effectively wipe from existence your own thirty year body of work. No doubt you would blame that entirely on Gerald Bradford, too, or whoever is running the show by then; but the truth is that quite a lot of your (and FARMS) stuff is *totally offputting to people*, including sincere, fair, reasonable people (including members), with no particular ideological axe to grind. If they took the FARMS stuff off the website, which they probably will eventually, it will be because of that.

            Now, I have no idea how old you are, but I assume you probably have a good decade or two left. This world can be a cold and lonely place. Many people would love, and be benefited by, membership in a faith community. That includes Mormonism. Why don’t you use your talents to *draw people in* to a community based on the teachings of Jesus Christ? Why not stop lashing out, knock off the
            black-white enemy-friend business, and instead of trying to destroy darkness with light (so often, a futile endeavour), simply make the light shine more brightly? If it shines more brightly, more people will come to it; and like two of my close relatives, might really benefit by their membership in Mormonism.

            I intended to respond to your various points in this email, but got off track. I’ll come back to finish up later.

          • DanielPeterson

            The Spectacle: “Your initial “aw shucks” comment is itself an example of a boorishness, bordering on personal animosity, entirely unmerited by anything I have said to you in our exchanges here.”

            Good grief. One of your problems seems to be that you apparently have absolutely no sense of humor.

            “Boorishness”? “Personal animosity”?

            Really quite unbelievable.

            And yet you felt perfectly comfortable going to your board, where the denizens continually malign me in language that makes my “aw shucks” look something out of a refined British high tea with friends, to seek ammunition against me from people whom you implicitly regard as morally and rhetorically my superiors.

            That in itself speaks eloquent volumes.

            The Spectacle: “2.) That RFM posters have lashed out at you in the past 24 hours has absolutely nothing to do with me,”

            True. It simply illustrates the nature of the place where you sought help. But one of the three threads from last week came in direct response to your request for their assistance, and the other two were in indirect response.

            The Spectacle: “and does not invalidate your own history of belittling, scorning, and mocking others”

            I have no such history, as your failure to demonstrate that “small-mindedness,” “meanness of spirit,” and “viciousness” are principal characteristics of my writing and publishing plainly reveals. And your attempts at misdirection, at changing the subject, aren’t working.

            The Spectacle: “We’re discussing your assertion that only unfairness, unreason, or ideological prejudice could ever lead someone (including Mormons) to view your writings as “argumentative”, “polemical”, “rude”, “mean-spirited”, “cold”, etc. That assertion is simply not true.”

            And it’s not an assertion that I’ve made. Misrepresenting me doesn’t actually advance your case, either.

            The Spectacle: “I took a second to solicit examples from the RFM board for a few reasons. One is that, over the years, you have hurt some of the people over there,”

            I’ve never done anything remotely in the same league of crudity, insult, obscenity, cruelty, contempt, and defamation that they’ve routinely directed my way. I’ve paid that place and those people very little attention over the years. During that time, though, probably no week has passed in which I haven’t been the object of their sneers and derision.

            This illustrates with revealing clarity the specious nature of your enterprise, and the glaringly, embarrassingly, obvious double standard upon which it rests.

            (I pass over in silence yet another demonstration that you conspicuously lack a sense of humor.)

            The Spectacle: “Your “uh huh” comment is a gratuitous insinuation of insincerity, and a personal sleight.”

            Given the flagrant double standard under which you operate and the hostile ideological indicators you’ve been giving, I have no strong reason to believe you to be fair or genuinely well-intentioned.

            The Spectacle: “Is your imagination so impoverished, or so paranoid, that you cannot conceive of the possibility of any but nefarious motives for my comments?”

            No.

            I simply think you’re a fairly obvious fraud.

            The Spectacle: “I intended to respond to your various points in this email, but got off track. I’ll come back to finish up later.”

            Good luck.

            I’ve tired of reading and responding to your epic comments, particularly since they’ve done little or nothing to advance your claim that my publications are, to any significant degree, “vicious,” “small-minded,” and “mean-spirited.”

            In closing:

            I’ve warned you that it won’t go on forever like this, but that hasn’t slowed you down. So here’s the new policy:

            I’ll allow you two posts, long or short, through 15 March. (After that, we’ll see.) So choose well what you want to devote them to.

            Any third post from you, through 15 March, will be summarily deleted, unread.

            You seem to have unlimited time for this sort of thing, but I don’t.

            And I won’t permit you to criticize and malign me at Tolstoyan length without response. This is, actually, my blog, not yours.

          • i_hate_disqus

            someone should ask dan if HE asked a GA to intercede on his behalf, and if so, what the response was.

          • DanielPeterson

            I know! Let’s pretend that somebody DID ask!

            No, I didn’t ask a General Authority to intervene on my behalf. I’ve never done so.

            I’m aware that that myth is circulating, but it’s false.

          • i_hate_disqus

            also, why didn’t dan tell the oracle that he DIDN’T start FARMS? the oracle said more than once that Dan started FARMS but he didn’t. John W. Welch and a few others started it.

          • DanielPeterson

            Correcting ALL of The Obstacle’s errors would take far more time than I can afford.

            I don’t even recall noticing the one to which you call attention, but I have never claimed to have started FARMS. I was in Egypt when it was launched, in the days before email (and, in Cairo, even before reliable snail mail and reasonable telephone access).

          • i_hate_disqus

            Perhaps your attitude toward the executive director of the Institute, your former boss, treating him as a “a fairly low-level bureaucrat at BYU,” helps account for your being removed as editor of the FARMS Review.

          • DanielPeterson

            I treated the executive director of the Institute as a friend and a colleague. We never clashed, so far as I’m aware, and we never had a spat.

            But the fact remains that he isn’t a senior administrator at BYU. He doesn’t have an an office in the Administration Building, he’s not a dean or a department chair, he doesn’t lead a large number of employees or staff, he reports to people in the Administration Building, he doesn’t hold a faculty appointment, and etc., and etc.

            I’d put him at about mid-level, perhaps. Nowhere near setting policy for the university at large nor for any of its major academic units. That’s not an insult; I don’t hold senior administrators in any particular awe. That’s just the fact of the matter.

          • i_hate_disqus

            Some of your apologist friends do precisely that, though. (Whine and run to GA’s, that is.)

          • DanielPeterson

            You may think that you know what you’re talking about, IHD, but I certainly have no idea. Care to be specific?

        • 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.

          • Stan Barker

            Actually Dan did comment. Read his article. (sigh)

        • The Oracle

          Steve Lowther is correct when he says that many people antagonistic to Mormonism wanted Daniel Peterson to stay. For the reasons Steve eloquently outlined, he drove many people away from Mormonism who, frankly, were desperate to keep on believing, and would have kept on if their questions had been accepted with love, compassion, understanding, and reason.

          That guys like Kiwi, and Peterson himself, can’t see that, must make this whole situation even more bewildering and painful to them. Yet it remains true – most people who think Mormonism is not true would far prefer to have Peterson in there, rather than a genial chap like Bradford, because Peterson’s self-absorption, score-settling, sarcasm, pedantry, personal attacks, etc., drove people out. Cuddly guys like Bradford will help keep people in.

          • DanielPeterson

            I love the description of Jerry Bradford as “cuddly.”

            I can’t imagine anyone who actually knows him, friend or foe, describing him that way.

            I note that you have absolutely no data to support your claim, just pure assertion.

            In that light, I suppose it would be a waste of time to ask you for actual evidence supporting the idea of my vicious and callous nature.

          • The Oracle

            “Cuddly” was meant as something of a rhetorical flourish : ). I only meant to say that Bradford not wanting to do full-on slamming “confrontational” apologetics, and instead publish (completely boring) pieces with titles like “Alma on Faith” and “Joseph Smith’s Vision of the Godhead” (that’s my prediction, anyway) lend him a much more genial *public* persona than the one you have created for yourself over the years.

            What he’s like in person, I have no idea (although I’m sure the seemingly brain-damaged Kiwi will be on here shortly saying things like, “AS YOU WELL KNOW, YOU ARE LYING WHEN YOU SAY YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT BRADFORD IS LIKE IN PERSON”).

            In any case, private behaviour and public persona don’t necessarily correlate. For example, one person once told me that in person you were very genial, and as a host, had treated him very politely in your home. I believed him. But no one would ever get that impression reading the stuff you have written over the years – on chat boards, blogs, websites, etc. That language has created a much different public impression – I’m sure not only amongst former Mormons, but seemingly, amongst some high ranking Mormons who, perhaps for that very reason, thought it better for Bradford to run the show (publishing soporifics no one will ever read).

          • DanielPeterson

            I have never treated my critics anywhere near as badly as they routinely treat me.’

            And when I ask for examples of my mean-spiritedness online, as I’ve repeatedly done, for years, very few examples are forthcoming — and those few that do are weak and, at worst, disputable.

            A carefully crafted lie has been created about my online persona. It’s taken on a life of its own, now, and people like you push it. But it remains a fiction, a lie.

          • The Oracle

            Daniel – If it really means that much to you, I’ll try to gather a few examples of your mean-spiritedness for you; but I honestly wonder if you would even be able to see how you have come across even when it is presented right to you. My guess is you would only continue to cast yourself as a victim, as you have done in the post above, when in reality, as a representative of a religion which claims to be Jesus Christ’s only authorized religion, you should have been a lot better than your critics. Christ told his followers to turn the other cheek in Matthew 5. He often met antagonists with calm, penetrating reason. He didn’t so much fight darkness with light as simply let his light shine more brightly (as John implies in the beautiful preamble to his gospel).

            But you didn’t do those things – and yes, I have read many of your exchanges on chat boards over the years, as
            well as many apologetic articles published under your authority, or
            written by you. Your reputation is not baseless. You and other FARMS writers turned many people off of a religion they might very well have stayed in, if they had found in you all a compassionate ear and a patient, non-judgmental, non-mocking, non-sarcastic tone.

          • DanielPeterson

            Actually, in point of fact, I HAVE been a lot better than most of my critics.

            That’s not much of a boast, of course, since they’ve set the bar so very, very low.

            Feel free to spend your time dredging up examples of my supposed viciousness. I don’t care that much, because I know myself and, in that regard at least, I’m rather comfortable with what I see. But you plainly care very much, since you’ve come here of your own free will to attack and criticize me.

          • The Oracle

            Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you have been a lot better than your critics. A few questions remain: Were you *good enough*? For example, was your overall approach as a public defender consistent with the image the LDS church tries to present?

            Consider the tone of the church’s TV commercials. Consider “The Ensign” articles. Consider Hinckley’s overall approach in his TV and radio interviews. Consider the visitor’s center movies, the press releases, and the books written by apostles. Almost invariably those attempt to be conciliatory, inviting, welcoming.

            Your public writings were often not like that at all. A hundred personal put-downs on chat boards, a hundred snarky, thought-terminating responses, a hundred snappy evasions to direct and sincere questions, a hundred attempts at just trying to prove you’re right and “win” an exchange, instead of trying to conscientiously resolve an interlocutor’s (or audience’s) concern, all testify to that fact. And that you now openly admit that you wouldn’t even care to see examples is all too telling. It indicates that in the end, for you, this is, and probably always has been, about how you want to see yourself, rather than a question of whether you’ve done the right things, or whether there might be a few apologies you owe to people. No – you wouldn’t even want to hear about those. That tells us all we should ever need to know about you.

            Let me put it another way. The Atonement story is fundamentally a story about mercy: through the willingly shed blood of Christ, all may be reconciled to God. Through it, otherwise lost individuals can find redemption, and become one here on earth, joined in the family of Christ. Through it, they can find everlasting life with their Creator. That is a beautiful and powerful story. The spirit of that story might be represented by you in private life; it was often nowhere to be felt in your public offerings. The infamous Metcalfe “butthead” incident was a very long time ago, but it is just one example amongst many of that terrible discrepancy.

          • Stan Barker

            “were you good enough?” And just who are you? Tell us your true name that we may worship appropriately!
            BTW, you are OBVIOUSLY ignorant on the “butthead” story (sigh). Yet, you are so quick to condemn… doing the very thing that you accuse Dan of. You really need to get look in the mirror and consider a few things. There will always be false accusers. On which side do you stand?

          • The Oracle

            I am familiar with the butthead story, including William Hamblin’s telling apology:

            “I am writing to apologize for my private practical
            joke. Whenever I write a paper Dan Petersen [Daniel C. Peterson] will be editing, I always include a joke or two for his enjoyment — fake footnotes, comments about space aliens and the golden plates, etc. The acrostic was simply a light-hearted joke for Dan’s amusement….”.

            Are private jokes the end of the world? No. Can anyone imagine that serious, conscientious followers of Christ, intent on defending his life and mission of love and redemption, would spend their time inserting crude, frat-boy acrostics into their supposedly Christian messages? No.

            This is only one (very small) incident in a FARMS history replete with examples of intellectual crudity; and I wonder sometimes if, partly because of that history, the fix on FARMS was already in from the moment the church moved in to transform it into the Neal Maxwell Institute.

            I mean, think about it. Peterson and his buddies invent FARMS. They attract a hardcore following. Some of the GA’s rely on their stuff, even. But as the years go by, and more and more problems arise – like, say, FARMS actually blatantly disregarding the teachings of LDS prophets and scriptures in order to defend Mormon claims about things like the Book of Mormon, and ongoing “tone” issues completely at odds with the tone of every other Mormon ad, talk, movie, or press release, and letters pouring into GA offices from people leaving Mormonism, citing the most absurdly implausible arguments from FARMS as being crucial to their new conclusions – more and more church leaders start to see FARMS as a problem.

            What can they do? They can’t just shut FARMS down – it’s independent. Besides, trying to do so would alienate all those hardcore fans, and besides, church critics might see that effort as the church tacitly conceding its truth claims can’t survive rational scrutiny. But, they also can’t openly endorse FARMS – that would make the church accountable for their often nasty tone, their unfair accusations, etc. What can they do?

            One possibility for the church: smilingly convince FARMS directors to agree to FARMS becoming part of the university/church, perhaps through promises of increased funding, flattery, and the prospect of their apologetic writings gaining a new level of attention, credibility, and authority. A name change is part of the deal. Why? Maybe because it effectively wipes the “FARMS” brand out of existence.

            Then, the new administrators of the newly-christened Neal Maxwell Institute begin to form relationships with FARMS’s primary sponsors and funding sources. Peterson, who once did most of the fundraising, thereby becomes less and less integral. Once that ball is rolling, the new administrators begin to change the whole nature and mission of the organization from within, as per the whole idea in the first place. One guy in particular will preside over that change – a guy who will increasingly stifle certain apologetic essays, telling Peterson what he can and can’t publish, etc., all because, again, that’s kind of the whole point. (And that guy, along with a General Authority and the BYU president, will even go so far as to quash an article they’ve never read only because they are afraid will be another FARMS-style hit piece).

            Once all the pieces are in place, the hardcore followers are sold on the change, and enough momentum has built up – get rid of Peterson and his loyalists. After all, they’re no longer useful. In fact, they’re anachronisms in a church which clearly no longer has the belly for any kind of combat. The dismissal of Peterson and his loyalists marginalizes, and in some respects, effectively stigmatizes them. The impression is: they fell short of the Lord’s standards for The Neal Maxwell Institute.

            The result? FARMS is now dead. Its previous purveyors are tainted. The threat of embarrassment to the church is now gone, as is the constant requirement for church leaders to try to explain away ad hoc FARMS arguments which rely on subverting canonized LDS scriptures. And the church has a new arm for its conciliatory “outreach” policies. All the problems are now solved, and it only took a few years.

            Did that sort of cynical planning happen? Actually, I have no idea. Could it have happened? If it did, it would explain what seems to have happened here. And if it didn’t…the result remains the same, anyway, which church leaders obviously favour, since if they hadn’t, they would presumably have reversed the decision to dismiss Peterson, and restored the original mission of FARMS.

            And I suggest that in the end, that they didn’t tell us is all we really need to know.

          • kiwi57

            The self-styled Oracle: “This is only one (very small) incident in a FARMS history replete with examples of intellectual crudity; ”

            And clearly it’s the very best one anyone can think of, because you and your ilk keep harping on it.

            It wasn’t even published, but it’s still the best you’ve got.

            Funny, that.

          • DanielPeterson

            The Barnacle: “Can anyone imagine that serious,
            conscientious followers of Christ, intent on defending his life and mission of love and redemption, would spend their time inserting crude, frat-boy acrostics
            into their supposedly Christian messages? No.”

            1) What proportion of Professor Hamblin’s life do you think went into creating that acrostic? 90% 95%? 98.7? Higher still?

            2) Do you really imagine that Christ was utterly without a sense of humor, and that Christians must be absolutely devoid of one, as well?

            The Barnacle: “This is only one (very small) incident in a FARMS history replete with examples of intellectual crudity.”

            You’re right. It’s “very small.” Very VERY small. Ridiculously small.

            Color me unimpressed that, as your parade example of my mean-spirited viciousness and of the depravity of FARMS, you drag out The Usual Suspect: a twenty-year-old hidden acrostic, formulated by Bill Hamblin, that FARMS never actually distributed and that I removed.

            If you actually had real evidence of an entire “FARMS history replete with examples of intellectual crudity,” you wouldn’t be reduced to the one utterly predictable
            and trivial example you’ve used, followed by (as we shall see) baseless fiction.

            The Barnacle: “But as the years go by, and
            more and more problems arise – like, say, FARMS actually blatantly disregarding the teachings of LDS prophets and scriptures in order to defend Mormon claims about things like the Book of Mormon”

            A dubious claim from the anti-Mormon handbook that everybody connected with FARMS (including me) would vigorously deny and which I doubt any living General Authority would endorse.

            The Barnacle: “letters pouring into GA offices from people leaving Mormonism, citing the most absurdly implausible arguments from FARMS as being crucial to their new conclusions”

            This is your own self-serving fiction. It doesn’t count as evidence.

            The Barnacle: “more and more church leaders start to see FARMS as a problem.”

            Again, mere self-serving assertion. Where is your
            evidence?

            I have personal evidence to the contrary.

            The Barnacle: “What can they do? They can’t just shut FARMS down – it’s independent.”

            You don’t know what you’re talking about. From its
            establishment, the bylaws of FARMS stipulated that the General Authorities COULD shut it down, and that its funds would then revert to the general missionary fund of the Church.

            The Barnacle: “Besides, trying to do so would alienate all those hardcore fans”

            The “new course” that was imposed in 2012 has done precisely that.

            The Barnacle: “besides, church critics might see that effort as the church tacitly conceding its truth claims can’t survive rational scrutiny.”

            You have a fertile little brain, but this is stuff from some sort of parallel universe.

            The Barnacle: “FARMS . . . their often nasty tone, their unfair accusations, etc”

            For which—just in case you’ve forgotten—you’ve supplied no evidence.

            The Barnacle: “One possibility for the church: smilingly convince FARMS directors to agree to FARMS becoming part of the university/church, perhaps through promises of increased funding, flattery, and the prospect of their apologetic writings gaining a new level of attention, credibility, and authority.”

            I was chairman of the board at the time, and centrally involved in the process. Your fantasy is nowhere near
            the truth.

            The Barnacle: “A name change is part of the deal.”

            Except that it wasn’t.

            The Barnacle: “Then, the new administrators
            of the newly-christened Neal Maxwell Institute begin to form relationships with FARMS’s primary sponsors and funding sources. Peterson, who once did most of
            the fundraising, thereby becomes less and less integral.”

            LOL. This part of your mythology is ESPECIALLY far
            from the truth. You REALLY don’t know what you’re talking about.

            The Barnacle: “Once all the pieces are in
            place, the hardcore followers are sold on the change”

            Except that, by all evidence, they HAVEN’T been.

            The Barnacle: “the constant requirement for
            church leaders to try to explain away ad hoc FARMS arguments which rely on subverting canonized LDS scriptures.”

            A “constant requirement” that you’ve invented out of thin air.

            The Barnacle: “Did that sort of cynical
            planning happen? Actually, I have no idea.”

            I do. It didn’t.

            The Barnacle: “Could it have happened? If it did, it would explain what seems to have happened here. And if it didn’t…the result remains the same, anyway, which church leaders obviously favour, since if they hadn’t, they would presumably have reversed the decision to dismiss Peterson, and restored the original mission of FARMS.”

            “Presumably”? You’re being presumptuous. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

            The Barnacle: “And I suggest that in the end, that they didn’t tell us is all we really need to know.”

            That’s right. Your historical method works best with ignorance of the actual facts. I don’t have that luxury.

            I’m growing very weary of your insulting nonsense here. If you continue to invent stories designed to defame me, I’ll block your posts. You can publish them elsewhere, if that’s what floats your boat, but I see no reason why I should provide you with a public platform for you to create hostile fictions about me.

            I’ve tolerated this long enough.

          • The Oracle

            Just one quick reply for now:

            I assume Jesus had a sense of humour, since almost all humans do. I would also like to respectfully suggest that, given what we know of that extraordinary man, and how seriously he took his religious mission, he would most likely regard “butthead” acrostics inserted into what are supposed to be treatises on holy scripture as out of place. Call it a wild hunch.

            However, as you say, that is one (microscopic) example from a long time ago. I can go along with that. The problem is that when I offered to present a few more important examples from writings you authored or published, you made it clear you were not interested in seeing them.

            In other words, you dismiss as trivial and ancient an example (for understandable reasons), deny that FARMS material has ever been sarcastic or off-putting or vicious, but then also close the door to any evidence to the contrary – and even threaten to ban me. You have completely insulated yourself, or more accurately, your editorship and authorship, from any criticism, *even where it might illustrate how you have alienated the very people you were supposed to be helping come unto Christ*.

            I mean…that IS what the ultimate point of FARMS was supposed to be, right? Not crude in-jokes, or “winning contests”, or to see who can make the most sly or sarcastic insinuations against anti-Mormons……right?

          • DanielPeterson

            Garfunkel: “The problem is that when I offered to present a few more important examples from writings you authored or published, you made it clear you were not interested in seeing them.”

            No I didn’t.

            Don’t use me as the excuse for your failure.

            Garfunkel: “you dismiss as trivial and ancient an example (for understandable reasons),”

            Yup. Because it’s trivial and ancient. And because it wasn’t from me. And because it wasn’t very public. And because FARMS didn’t distribute it. And because I actually deleted it.

            As evidence of my depravity and of a general pattern of wickedness on the part of FARMS generally, it’s an extraordinarily weak specimen.

            Garfunkel: “deny that FARMS material has ever been sarcastic”

            Where, exactly, did I make that denial?

            I prefer the term “ironic,” though. That’s how I see it.

            Garfunkel: “or off-putting”

            Again, where did I make that denial?

            Plainly, some people have been “put off” by this or that. At least, a number of claimed to be. Whether they had serious, legitimate grounds for being “put off” is another matter, though.

            Garfunkel: “or vicious,”

            Yes. I deny the charge of “viciousness.” Absolutely.

            Garfunkel: “but then also close the door to any evidence to the contrary”

            Flatly false. I haven’t done that. On the contrary, I’ve invited you to give it your best shot.

            The trouble is — and I suspect that you realize it — that you probably already HAVE.

            Garfunkel: “and even threaten to ban me.”

            Not for posting facts. For using my blog as a platform on which to post malicious, counterfactual, utterly arbitrary just-so stories about me.

            Nobody can reasonably be expected to put up with such behavior forever.

          • The Oracle

            If you would actually care to see a few examples of off-putting material either authored or published by you over the years – as in, you’re sincerely interested to know whether how you have always seen yourself might be at odds with how many others, including church members, have seen you – I’ll gather a few. Just let me know.

          • DanielPeterson

            I’ve invited you to do so. More than once.

            But I won’t beg. I just think that you have an ethical obligation to back up your criticisms — and that, thus far, you’ve signally failed to do it.

          • Stan Barker

            The fact is, from everything I’ve ever read of Dan Peterson’s treatment of critics, he is FAR better than they have treated him. I’ve often wondered how he puts up with the daily beatings he receives. But, then, you may not be aware of all of these. Of course, that fact has not stopped you from referring to him as seeing himself as a victim. Your comments are just plain mean spirited, judgmental, and ignorant.

          • DanielPeterson

            Incidentally, Carbuncle, you might want to take a brief pause from denouncing me for my alleged viciousness in order to consider the salient fact that I have never, ever, pronounced somebody with whom I had a disagreement “seemingly brain-damaged.”

          • The Oracle

            True – but I actually sincerely wonder about Kiwi. His writings are full of obsessive repetitions, and he can’t seem to grasp or address relevant points, etc.

            In any case, allow me to replace “seemingly brain-damaged” with “irrational”.

          • DanielPeterson

            You might want to devote your time to finding actual specimens of my supposed “viciousness” rather than to coming up with less brazenly offensive personal insults that might sneak in under my radar.

            You’re on borrowed time here, Particle.

          • The Oracle

            If you’re actually sincere about wanting to see examples, I’ll put some time in, sure. Just let me know.

          • DanielPeterson

            I’ve invited you to do it. More than once.

            I feel no obligation to beg.

          • Stan Barker

            This “Oracle” person, hiding behind a pseudonym just isn’t worth responding to Dan. He has his little opinion and the world is entitled to it. But it doesn’t make it worth anything. Just a thought. Ignore him.

          • kiwi57

            The self-styled Oracle: “Steve Lowther is correct when he says that many people antagonistic to Mormonism wanted Daniel Peterson to stay.”

            As you perfectly well know (or would if you had any grasp upon reality at all) Steve Lowther is lying his head off when he claims that he and his fellow haters wanted Dan to stay. The reality is that the Peterson-haters are all, without exception, manically obsessed anti-Mormons.

            His claim is a typical piece of anti-Mormon propaganda, in the grand tradition of the “big lie,” calculated to sow doubt and discord.

            Which is entirely sufficient to explain why you endorse it.

          • The Oracle

            Kiwi: Your habit of constantly announcing what you think everyone “knows” is, in a word, stupid. I am perfectly happy to tell you exactly what I know, exactly what I don’t know, and exactly what I guess.

            And here is one thing I do know for certain: there are many people antagonistic to Mormonism who feel great animosity toward Mr. Peterson because of how they feel he dealt with them, and others, who sincerely wondered about Mormonism. There is no question about that. It is also true that many of those same people actually wanted him to stay at FARMS precisely because he was such an alienating force, and they had come to feel Mormonism was a destructive force, and thought people should leave.

            I honestly could not possibly care less if you don’t believe me. Peterson is gone now regardless. I am only stating as a matter of fact that over the years, I have chatted via email, in person, or on the phone, with many people (maybe conservatively between two or three dozen, probably more) with bitter feelings toward the Mormon Church who thought that Peterson, or Peterson-style apologetics was a valuable asset in helping people realize that Mormonism wasn’t what it pretended to be, because that was their own experience. As I said, don’t believe me if you don’t want. I couldn’t care less.

          • DanielPeterson

            There may well be people out there who imagine such things about me, but (a) my personal viciousness is a complete myth (I’m tempted to call it, flatly, a lie) and (b) I’ve heard from hundreds of people over the years who have thought that “my” style of apologetics helped them and others to strengthen their faith.

            Finally, however much some may wish it, I’m not “gone.”

          • The Oracle

            As I think I made clear, viciousness in real life is one thing; coming across as nasty, small, vindictive, self-absorbed, etc., through what you write is quite another. I for one am perfectly happy to contemplate you might be as sunny as a July day in person. However, many of your writings, and writings you have essentially endorsed through choosing to publish them, have left many others with a different impression.

            I also know for certain that there are many people who admire your talents, and who would say they have had their faith bolstered by pieces written by you and other FARMS writers. There are also many other people who say the opposite. Hence, my observation that you are a polarizing figure (one reason perhaps you were replaced by a man known [if he is known for anything at all] for unremitting blandness).

            Lastly, of course you are not “gone”, in the sense that you are still alive, and are still posting on your blog, and still doing your other projects. But you are gone from the organization you basically invented. You are gone from that large stage. Your former position added weight to your views, but that weight is gone now, for many.

          • DanielPeterson

            Again, you don’t know what you’re talking about. But, when I point out that I’m hardly “gone,” I DO know what I’m talking about.

            Wait and see.

            “Nasty, small, vindictive, self-absorbed, etc.”?

            It’s a myth and a lie, Coracle. But one that, clearly, you’re happy to endorse and to spread.

            How shameful.

          • The Oracle

            That is *not* a lie. It is a *fact* that many people see you and FARMS writers as small, vindictive, etc., and they cite the tone and content of FARMS output (and chat board exchanges) over the years as the basis of that perception.

          • DanielPeterson

            It’s a lie that I AM the person you describe, and that other FARMS writers are the people you describe.

            That some have come to believe the lie is indisputable and unfortunate. That it’s untrue, however, is simple reality.

          • Stan Barker

            Now here we have the stuff that myths are made of!

      • 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.

          • Stan Barker

            And exactly why aren’t you calling The Oracle out on the same thing? Is this a case of double standard?

        • The Oracle

          The evidence that they don’t want him in is that *they did NOTHING to intervene to stop that decision, or reverse it once it was made, when they DID intervene to stop a piece on John Dehlin, of all people. Duh. What more evidence could you possibly want??

          • DanielPeterson

            Do you specifically know what the General Authority who mentioned Dehlin’s piece to President Samuelson said?

            I don’t.

            And, unless you’re better positioned than I am, you’re going far past your evidence when, based on the fact that Jerry Bradford asked me not to run the Smith/Dehlin essay that he had not read, after President Samuelson (who hadn’t read the essay) had said something about it to him, after an unnamed General Authority (who hadn’t read th essay) had said something about it to President Samuelson, after John Dehlin (who hadn’t read the essay) had said something about it to the unnamed General Authority, you conclude that the General Authorities (“they,” plural) “intervened” in order to stop publication of the essay.

          • The Oracle

            So, let me get this straight, Daniel.

            A GA calls Samuelson about the piece; Samuelson calls Bradford about the piece; and then Bradford calls you to request you withdraw the piece – and you think it’s somehow unclear what the thrust of the GA’s message to Samuelson was?

            The way you are tap-dancing around the screamingly obvious on this is absurd.

          • DanielPeterson

            A General Authority mentions the piece, perhaps expressing caution. President Samuelson calls Jerry Bradford, perhaps expressing caution or even reservations. Jerry Bradford asks me to withdraw the article from the issue of the Review that’s about to go to press. (None of them has so much as laid eyes on the article.) I respond “No problem,” and immediately do so.

            That is, in fact, how I think it went down. And you have absolutely no evidence to indicate the contrary.

          • kiwi57

            The self-styled Oracle: you are SHOUTING again, as you did when you tried to LIE about FRAUD.

            One GA intervened on behalf of Mister Dehlin because Mister Dehlin was kciking up a ruckus, and said GA presumably wanted to ensure that everyone had time to be sure they wanted to publish the review.

            Nobody intervened on behalf of Professor Peterson, presumably because Professor Peterson *didn’t* kick up a ruckus.

            The squeaky wheel, you see.

          • The Oracle

            Kiwi – Let’s say that’s true. What does that say about the GA?

          • DanielPeterson

            Not much. But I suspect that that won’t prevent you from saying quite a bit.

      • Stan Barker

        I’ll bet you criticized the Savior when he cleaned out the Temple, among many other “nasty” things.

    • 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.

      • The Oracle

        GUYS – Daniel, Kiwi, and others –

        You can *not* possibly believe that Gerald Bradford dismissed FARMS founder Daniel Peterson, and the entire FARMS editorial staff, without the okay from his superior.

        • DanielPeterson

          Nobody dismissed “the entire FARMS editorial staff.” There was no such dismissal.

          You have no idea what you’re talking about.

          • The Oracle

            Let’s leave out the whole staff then, and just focus on you.

            You guys cannot seriously believe that Gerald Bradford didn’t run his pending decision to fire you past Samuelson and a GA or two first.

          • DanielPeterson

            He may have run it past President Samuelson, whom he home teaches. It’s more likely that he ran it past a vice president.

            But I have no certain knowledge that he did that in either case.

            As to running it past a General Authority? I’m virtually certain that he didn’t.

        • Stan Barker

          Care to name this “superior?” Or is this an argument from innuendo?

  • 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:

            http://seesangelsinthearchitecture.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/claim-8/

            Sorenson’s paper is here:

            http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/an-open-letter-to-dr-michael-coe/

            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.

          • Stan Barker

            Steve, do you have a life, or does your photo belie a retired old man with nothing to do but troll? Why are you so bitter? Why is all of this so very, very important to you? Perhaps it is the way you spend your vacation? You keep throwing around comments about being Christ-like, but your posts certainly don’t exhibit those endearing qualities. Would Christ be doing what you are doing? Or would he be about his Father’s work? Or is it that you really don’t care about that and you just want to attack people and get your own vengeance for some supposed wrong? All in all, Steve, your posts are very unbecoming of any human being, no matter what they believe. Surely you can be a better man?

          • Stan Barker

            What I am not surprised about is that everything Dan says you have a snarky remark for. Perhaps it is time for you to adopt a pseudonym: “Snarky”

          • 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.

          • Stan Barker

            (DEEP SIGH). You now have the opportunity or fully argue your evidence to someone who is qualified to look at legal arguments. Do so, or take your ball and go home.

          • DanielPeterson

            So all this happened because I’m emotionally defective?

            The great thing about pop-psychologizing complete strangers is that no training is required and no certification is expected. I suppose that’s what attracts practitioners like Mr. Lowther. That and, of course, the sheer pleasure of sneering at others.

          • 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.

            Thanks!

          • 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

            ROFLMAO!

            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.

          • Stan Barker

            You “think” that? And your thinking that makes it so? Hmmm. For me that is a gigantic leap of logic!

          • RT

            Stan: I see no gigantic leap of logic here. It’s all very simple. If someone’s going to support and defend a “religion” as an insider, they have to do more than simply issue an academic argument in its favor; they have to walk the walk and talk the talk. Religion is not something fundamentally empirical, like it can and should be examined in a petri dish, separate from it’s injunctions toward certain moral behaviors and epistemologies. It’s a larger package that demands that the believer show by his/her example the nature of the faith that is within him/her.

            And when someone places him/herself in the public spotlight as such a defender, then the responsibility to represent the faith well becomes all the more important and relevant.

          • Stan Barker

            It is quite easy to categorize when you are on the outside (which I presume you are — and we know nothing about whether or not you are behaving to the best of your personal beliefs — which leaves you at a distinct advantage). You seem to wish to place anyone who would “defend the faith” all in the same box, yet as a long time apologist, I have discovered that for as many defenders of the faith that there are, there are that many personalities and reasons why people wish to “defend the faith.” Putting everyone into your box is a straw-man approach which makes it easy to then launch a “superior moral position” attack. Very convenient, but in my opinion very disingenuous.
            Aside from all of that I’ve read and followed Dan for many, many years. I’m also friends with Dan and know his personality and I think he is far superior to those who continuously attack his character. They simply do NOT know him. They may not like what he says, but I’ve usually found it spot on. Now, of course, that provides fodder to go after my character (which has been done by bigger and better critics than you). You folks somehow seem to think that giving Dan his daily beatings is just something that you have a moral responsibility for. You don’t. Does what he say directly affect you in some way? If not, why is Dan such a looming issue on your horizon? Are you one of these people who just feel the need to attack people? Or perhaps you are the new Don Quixote who is riding in to save the world from Dan Peterson? IOW, get a life! Take a chill-pill.
            I personally feel that Dan is exemplary in his life both as an apologist and regular member of the Lord’s Church. I suspect that you folks don’t like him because he will not simply roll over to some progressive agenda you may have. Too bad. Not that I’m comparing Dan to The Savior, but He didn’t roll over every time he or his doctrine and faith were criticized either. He taught higher principles that man should live by, but there are times when it is right to stand for the truth and repel that which maligns others. I see Dan doing just that. The Apostle Paul did that as well.

          • Stan Barker

            By the same token, when someone places themselves in the public spotlight as a critic (read yourself), they should expect and deserve the same. They too are expected to live by the same high standards they are demanding that others live by. Are you? Why we don’t even know who you are. You are living in the shadows behind a pseudonym. Step out and be a man (or woman). Otherwise, your criticisms are just so much opinion and as such really aren’t worth much of anything.
            I remember many years ago, when I was a teen ager in AZ, a banker came in to collect money owed by the company I worked for. As he and I stood there waiting for the manager to get the money together, the banker proceeded to tell me that he knew all about me and my family because of the information they had on their computers at Valley Bank. He knew that I was a “Mormon” for example. He then proceeded to launch into a tirade against some Mormon neighbors he had who were not living up to their religion. I asked him if he was religious. He said he was. I then asked him if he was fully living up to his religion. He admitted that he was not and the discussion abruptly ended there.
            Open up. Let us have a look at your life. After all, you came on here, uninvited I presume, and launched an attack against Dan. You must have had a purpose. Are you living up to your personal beliefs in every respect? If not, do as instructed in the Bible and “set your own house in order.”
            Note: I’m being a defender here, not an attacker. Are you able to perceive the difference?

          • RT

            “when someone places themselves in the public spotlight as a critic (read yourself), they should expect and deserve the same.”

            Actually, I’m not claiming to represent a defender of a religious faith or the LDS faith in particular, so I don’t see how that means that I am required to live up to the exact standards that the LDS faith demands of its adherents. I do believe, however, that I should should try and be charitable and follow ethical principles (I know I come short there, just like everyone else).

            “Why we don’t even know who you are. You are living in the shadows behind a pseudonym. Step out and be a man (or woman).”

            That’s not a pseudonym, just my initials, and for the record, I’m a male.

            “Otherwise, your criticisms are just so much opinion and as such really aren’t worth much of anything.”

            I think my criticisms are worth something, despite your not personally knowing me, otherwise I wouldn’t have given them.

            “Open up. Let us have a look at your life. After all, you came on here, uninvited I presume, and launched an attack against Dan. You must have had a purpose. Are you living up to your personal beliefs in every respect? If not, do as instructed in the Bible and “set your own house in order.”

            Well, that’s kind of forward isn’t it? “Let us have a look at your life”? I don’t think you have a right to demand any such thing, as though you were in a position to judge me. If you would like to learn about my background and purpose, then that’s fine, but do so respectfully.

            FWIW, I grew up LDS, still identify as Mormon in some sense because of upbringing, culture, tribe and such, and find value in aspects of Mormonism. But I think Mormonism as it is currently configured and understood is hurting lots of people, because of its regressive stance on all sorts of intellectual, social, and cultural issues.

            Am I living up to my personal beliefs? I try my best. And your are completely mistaken in your assumption that I came on here uninvited and launched an attack against Dan. This is a public blog, so invitation to participate is inherent to the platform. Moreover, I decided to comment here (mostly against my better judgement) because I cannot stand to see him bully people with his hurtful rhetoric and engage in scorched earth cultural warfare and at the same time present himself as a faithful apologist to a church that I have some affection for.

            I’m sure Dan is a good guy and has some fine attributes (he’s smart, rhetorically gifted, and has made scholarly contributions over his career to Arabic-Islamic and Mormon studies), so don’t take this to mean that I’m just personally averse to him.

          • Stan Barker

            This will be my last reply (I see this as a massive waste of my time) because you seem to miss the points. I didn’t say anything about you being a defender of a faith, did I? Not even by insinuation. I didn’t even say you had to live up to LDS standards, now did I? You see, you missed the point. That was why I told the little story. I didn’t even say this fellow was a believer in Christ. That wasn’t the point. So, please re-read. I’m not going to try and explain what seems to me to be my obvious point (which you skirted around).
            RT. That is a pseudonym, whether they are your initials or not. Does Dan go by his initials? No. Do I go by my initials? No. I can be looked up on the Internet quite easily, and I know that. I’m not ashamed of who I am, nor am I trying to hide anything. Enough said.
            Opinions: We all believe our opinions are worth something. That doesn’t make them so. Only a demonstration which proves a point has any real value. I have the opinion that you have blue hair. What is that opinion worth to you? Nothing. What is it worth to me? It places a point of reference in my mind upon which to build an argument about you.
            “Demand” you open up your life: I never “demanded” any such thing. Putting words into someone’s mouth, when you are engaging a conversation, is a silly attempt to build a straw-man that you can then argue against. I have no patience for that kind of nonsense. You are criticizing Dan for his actions, etc. My point is (and I’ll try to carefully explain it) that if you are going to be critical of someone, then don’t hide who you are. Be open to criticism yourself (and this is spoken for all of the critics. At least Lowther [if that is his true name - and I have no reason to doubt that it is]) is willing to not hide. I’ll give him kudos for that. Don’t you demand of someone else what you do not live up to. THAT is the point. Since we don’t know who you are and how you behave all of the time, we can only guess that you have something to hide. Therefore, your “opinions” are not worth much to many of the rest of us.
            So, it appears that you are a “cultural Mormon.” I’ll have to say that in my opinion, I have not met one of those ilk that I have much respect for. They just don’t seem to get it that this truly is God’s Church and He is the one to run it; not people with varying “opinions.” And you can cry about all of the supposed people who we “apologists” have hurt, but you have no idea of how much email and personal contact we have had with people praising us for what we have said and done that helped them to stay in the Church and be faithful to Christ and his Kingdom.
            “You can’t stand to see him ‘bully’ people?” Again, that is a matter of perspective and opinion. I have not seen him bully anyone. I have seen him defend himself quite well against those trying to bully him and bring forth false accusations. If you were landslide everyday by people criticizing everything they think you do, you would at some point wish to defend yourself against such calumny. You are not taking the higher road. And you are not people’s moral compass, even though you MAY have that opinion of yourself.
            Thank you for your final paragraph. Dan certainly doesn’t need my help to defend himself. I merely find myself increasingly growing weary of these constant nonsense assaults on him for things he really didn’t do, just because he tries to defend himself.

          • RT

            If you feel talking to me is a massive waste of time, then I won’t bother you any longer. Next time when you’re talking to someone who sees something differently from you, try not demeaning them at every chance you get.

          • DanielPeterson

            And the best thing about it, in your eyes, seems to be that it gives you an opportunity to publicly condemn others!

          • RT

            Yes, Dan, I know you take delight in trying to read insidious motivations in anyone who criticizes you, but no, standing up against a bully is nothing like looking for an opportunity to publicly condemn others.

          • DanielPeterson

            RT: “you take delight in trying to read insidious motivations in anyone who criticizes you”

            Actually, I don’t. As anybody who actually knows me would instantly confirm.

            RT: “standing up against a bully”

            Am I right in assuming that, in your curious demonology, I’m that “bully” against whom you’re so courageously “standing up”?

          • RT

            Some people who know you may be able to confirm that, but I’m more interested in what you actually do, such as in the case above, suggesting that I was anxiously looking for an opportunity to publicly condemn others, which is preposterous and completely unfounded. It’s an attempt to try and change the micro-narrative here into a focus on me and my supposed inferior moral qualities.

            I’m just not interested in debating this at all.

            “Am I right in assuming that, in your curious demonology, I’m that “bully” against whom you’re so courageously “standing up”?”

            You are correct only with regard to the identification of the bully. As for the rest, I have no interest in demonizing you, but it is par for the course for you to bring black and white “demonology” into the discussion, since that allows you to paint me more blackly. I just cannot believe that a professional educator cannot see how much spin you put on virtually every apologetic conversation you have. And FWIW I do not view myself as couragous. Just like back in schoolyard days, people do not generally stick up to bullies because of their bravery. They do it often without thinking just because that’s what sometimes needs to be done.

          • DanielPeterson

            Your labeling of me as a “bully” — when it’s YOU who’ve come here to attack ME, over and over and over and over again — coupled with your high-minded claim that you have no wish to make yourself the issue here, is, on top of being a false calumny, so richly ironic that it’s almost painfully embarrassing to contemplate.

            So I’m going to spare both you and me additional discomfort, by barring your comments from my blog.

            Unless and until you have something to offer beyond wearisome personal attacks, don’t bother posting.

            I’m not a bully, and never have been, and there’s no serious evidence to the contrary.

            The lie is irritating. It’s also tiresome.

          • 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.”

            Seriously.

          • 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.

          • Stan Barker

            “There is a world of difference between sarcasm and criticism.”
            This is the same argument critics of the Church use. I.e., “I’m not a critic, I’m just telling the truth.” They rarely ever see how insulting they are. “After all,” they argue, “I’m not like that.”

  • 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

    Dan,

    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.”

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUJa4MoYnHE

      “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.

      • Stan Barker

        If you are not a Christian, why does it matter to you at all? And again, you never answered my comments about Christ clearing the Temple, the two-edged sword, etc., or was the Oracle… I really can’t remember, but it is all the same, isn’t it. You are using the straw-man argument technique and seem to really have a burr under your saddle for Dan. How has he so maligned you personally? Or are you arguing on behalf of all “thinking” humanity? May I suggest a “chill-pill?”

  • 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.”

        Really?

  • 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

    Lowther:

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

    Really?

    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:

        “Really?

        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?

          • Stan Barker

            Why is answering you missing a perfect opportunity? Dan does have a life and much more to do than troll boards. And that is not to mention the fact that Dan did answer the issue. You just choose to not believe them. That, then is your problem.

          • DanielPeterson

            There was only one superior involved. Jerry Bradford. And he dismissed me from only one thing: editing the “Mormon Studies Review.”

            He said that he was doing so in order to pursue a “new direction” with the Maxwell Institute.

          • 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

            Lowther:

            “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

    Lowther:

    “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.

    • i_hate_disqus

      You spend more time talking about yourself than any public figure I’ve ever been aware of. The length of this thread alone. It’s remarkable how much you care about yourself being perceived in a certain way. Most people don’t like to be framed in a negative way, no question. But the sheer amount of time,combined with your unawareness that your arguing only feeds the fire–it’s simply remarkable. The sheer amount of wasted time, defending yourself. I can’t imagine.

      • DanielPeterson

        You plainly like to talk about me, as well.

  • 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

      LOL.

      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.

  • The Oracle

    My best guess about the change:

    1.) To state the obvious (and to put it charitably), Peterson is a “polarizing” figure in an era when the church is not at all interested in being polarizing. The strange truth is that the worm-like nature of Dehlin is actually more in line with the church’s current nature than Peterson’s approach. The proof is in the pudding – although it wasn’t “the reason” for the dismissal, as just one example, in a conflict between Dehlin and a FARMS piece targeting him, Dehlin won. What does that tell us?;

    2.) As leaders like Marlin Jensen and Jeffrey Holland have more and more conversed with disaffected Mormons, they have to have become increasingly aware that FARMS, and Peterson personally, turned far more people away from Mormonism, than kept them in. There is nothing like trying to find answers to sincere questions in a FARMS piece, but finding no real answers at all – only a lot of attitude and gratuitous sarcasm, personal shots at “church enemies”, blatantly fallacious reasoning, and distraction maneouvres. For many sincere wonderers, that was more devastating to their faith than any supposed “anti-Mormon” piece;

    3.) I have a hunch (though it’s only a hunch) this change was motivated by something deeper, too: a growing recognition amongst church leaders, including Jensen, that in a rational, evidence-based discussion about Mormonism’s claims, Mormonism simply cannot win. And if it simply cannot win in such a forum, why have guys regularly trying to compete in that forum, getting their faces metaphorically kicked in, thereby making Mormonism look even worse? Better to simply withdraw them from that forum altogether. New plan: eviscerate Mormon apologetics, and instead focus on “Mormon Studies”. Publish pieces about what the Book of Mormon says about the Atonement, or the Fall. Talk about “the family”, or the King Follett discourse. While it is not described as such, the new approach amounts to tactical, necessary retreat.

    Just a guess.

    • kiwi57

      The self-styled Oracle: “1.) To state the obvious (and to put it charitably), Peterson is a ‘polarizing’ figure in an era when the church is not at all interested in being polarizing.”

      Yes. He is “polarizing” in that there are those who hate him.

      However, they primarily hate him because he defends the Church — and does so effectively. If it wasn’t him, it would be someone else.

      The self-styled Oracle: “The strange truth is that the worm-like nature of Dehlin is actually more in line with the church’s current nature than Peterson’s approach. The proof is in the pudding – although it wasn’t ‘the reason’ for the dismissal, as just one example, in a conflict between Dehlin and a FARMS piece targeting him, Dehlin won. What does that tell us?;”

      Nothing at all about the views of any Church leaders, since, as you perfectly well know (or would know if you consulted the evidence instead of your prejudices) they hadn’t seen the article.

      And, just BTW: the article was ultimately published, and in a forum more accessible to more people than the presently defunct MSR. So just who actually “won?”

      The self-styled Oracle: “2.) As leaders like Marlin Jensen and Jeffrey Holland have more and more conversed with disaffected Mormons, they have to have become increasingly aware that FARMS, and Peterson personally, turned far more people away from Mormonism, than kept them in.”

      I’m sure they’ve heard that industry-standard, shrink-wrapped, off-the-shelf piece of anti-Mormon propaganda many times. Whether they are gullible enough to simply swallow it is less certain.

      The self-styled Oracle: “There is nothing like trying to find answers to sincere questions in a FARMS piece, but finding no real answers at all – only a lot of attitude and gratuitous sarcasm, personal shots at ‘church enemies’, blatantly fallacious reasoning, and distraction maneouvres. For many sincere wonderers, that was more devastating to their faith than any supposed ‘anti-Mormon’ piece;

      Again, you are merely toeing the anti-Mormon party line with that tissue of falsehoods.

      As, of course, you would.

      The self-styled Oracle: “3.) I have a hunch (though it’s only a hunch) this change was motivated by something deeper, too: a growing recognition amongst church leaders, including Jensen, that in a rational, evidence-based discussion about Mormonism’s claims, Mormonism simply cannot win.”

      It is natural that you should believe such a thing; it is, after all, yet another piece of industry-standard, shrink-wrapped, off-the-shelf anti-Mormon propaganda. Not only that, it is a rather smug, self-serving bit of wishful thinking, so of course someone as unreflective as you would believe it.

      But as you pefectly well know (or would, if you were any less bigoted towards Mormons than Hitler was towards Jews) it’s a rather unremarkable and non-controversial fact that those who believe in the truth claims of the Church naturally reject that silly assumption.

      The self-styled Oracle: “And if it simply cannot win in such a forum, why have guys regularly trying to compete in that forum, getting their faces metaphorically kicked in, thereby making Mormonism look even worse?”

      Except, as you perfectly well know (or would if you actually bothered to acquaint yourself with the facts) the defenders of the Church aren’t the ones “getting their faces metaphorically kicked in.”

      The self-styled Oracle: “Better to simply withdraw them from that forum altogether. New plan: eviscerate Mormon apologetics, and instead focus on ‘Mormon Studies’. Publish pieces about what the Book of Mormon says about the Atonement, or the Fall. Talk about ‘the family’, or the King Follett discourse. While it is not described as such, the new approach amounts to tactical, necessary retreat.”

      There’s an anti-Mormon’s masturbatory fantasy. And don’t you just wish it were true!

      The reality is that Gerald Bradford’s agenda is his own, and has nothing to do with any “plan” of the leaders of the Church.

      But don’t let that disturb your, um, solitary recreation.

      • The Oracle

        1.) If his superiors regarded him as that “effective”, then why was he booted out?;

        2.) Actually, you make my point about the current Dehlin/worm-like nature of the church even more strongly by pointing out that church leaders *spiked an article they had not even read yet*, only because John Dehlin fussed about it. What does that tell you about current church leaders and their priorities?;

        3.) I’ve noticed you enjoy invoking Nazism (of course), so allow me to draw a parallel: to think that the Neal Maxwell Institute is only operating according to the vision of one man, Gerald Bradford, with *no* direction from above, reminds me of the complaint of ordinary Germans a couple of generations ago about how “if only the Fuhrer knew what the Gauleiter was doing, he’d be very upset”.

        That Bradford, who reports to church leaders, has operated without any encouragement or authorization from those leaders, is entirely unbelievable.

        With regards to my final comment, a situation exists which I have attempted to explain. You have not attempted to at all. The situation is that the LDS church has moved away from association with FARMS-style apologetics. Instead, as Mr. Peterson himself noted in his essay here, they have chosen instead to focus on “Mormon Studies”. The question is, why? I suggest that it’s because FARMS-style apologetics made the church look bad, and because Mormon real-world claims cannot compete in the world of reason and evidence. If you have a better explanation – perhaps mere moral cowardice, or something else – go ahead and post it.

        • kiwi57

          The self-styled Oracle: “1.) If his superiors regarded him as that ‘effective’, then why was he booted out?;”

          Try reading a little more. All the evidence before you shows that the decision was not made by any Church leaders, but by Gerald R. Bradford. It also shows that Mr Bradford is interested in “Mormon Studies” as a purely academic discipline, and thinks it beneath his academic dignity to publish for the edification of the great unwashed.

          The self-styled Oracle: “2.) Actually, you make my point about the current Dehlin/worm-like nature of the church even more strongly by pointing out that church leaders *spiked an article they had not even read yet*, only because John Dehlin fussed about it. What does that tell you about current church leaders and their priorities?;”

          Nothing that any reasonable person would describe as “worm-like.”

          Someone viscerally hostile to the Church of Jesus Christ might, but I was talking about reasonable people.

          As Greg Smith wrote:

          “As I told many who wrote or phoned me in the following days and weeks following the leaks, if someone did request the hold on publication, they had done exactly what I would have done in their place: one can always later publish something that has merit if concern was unnecessary, but it is difficult to recall an unwise review from
          circulation.”

          Did you get that? They did exactly what Greg would have done in their place.

          The self-styled Oracle: “3.) I’ve noticed you enjoy invoking Nazism (of course), so allow me to draw a parallel: to think that the Neal Maxwell Institute is only operating according to the vision of one man, Gerald Bradford, with *no* direction from above, reminds me of the complaint of ordinary Germans a couple of generations ago about how ‘if only the Fuhrer knew what the Gauleiter was doing, he’d be very upset’.”

          Who are you quoting there? That sentiment could be expressed by anyone about any hierarchical organisation, from the local scout troop to the American IRS. By contrast, the resemblance between your attitude towards Mormons and the attitude of 20th century German anti-Semites towards Jews is close and meaningful.

          The self-styled Oracle: “That Bradford, who reports to church leaders, has operated without any encouragement or authorization from those leaders, is entirely unbelievable.”

          IOW, you have no evidence that General Authorities micro-manage every department within BYU, so you simply refuse to believe that they don’t.

          The self-styled Oracle: “With regards to my final comment, a situation exists which I have attempted to explain. You have not attempted to at all. The situation is that the LDS church has moved away from association with FARMS-style apologetics.”

          He sighed, dreamily.

          No, that is not the situation.

          The situation is that the Neal A. Maxwell Institute, a department within BYU, has moved away from any style of LDS apologetics.

          Sorry to disappoint you.

          The self-styled Oracle: “Instead, as Mr. Peterson himself noted in his essay here, they have chosen instead to focus on “Mormon Studies”. The question is, why? I suggest that it’s because FARMS-style apologetics made the church look bad, and because Mormon real-world claims cannot compete in the world of reason and evidence. If you have a better explanation – perhaps mere moral cowardice, or something else – go ahead and post it.”

          I already have.

          See above.

          • The Oracle

            Kiwi:

            Stick to the facts. See if you can follow me here for a second:

            1.) Daniel Peterson wrote above that Gerald Bradford told him an “unidentified GA” had contacted BYU President Cecil Samuelson about the piece on Dehlin. What we therefore know for a fact is that at least one General Authority very much *did* feel at liberty to intervene in the affairs of the Neal Maxwell Institute, including issues relating to Peterson and his job performance;

            2.) A few weeks later, Bradford fired Peterson;

            3.) Bradford reports to Samuelson; Samuelson reports to the Board of Trustees, BYU’s highest governing body. Who is on the Board? Amongst others, the First Presidency, three apostles, and the member of the Presidency of the Seventy in charge of Utah. No doubt it was one of those three apostles, or that Seventy, who contacted Samuelson.

            Conclusion: Given these facts, it is unlikely that Bradford did not discuss the possible termination of Peterson with Samuelson, and perhaps even the GA in question, prior to the firing. Additionally, it is unlikely that Bradford would have made that decision if Samuelson, or the GA in question, had objected during that discussion. In other words, it is likely that Bradford’s decision was approved at least by Samuelson, and probably by the GA in question, and perhaps even by other board members (since they meet once a week, and would have had ample time to discuss the situation).

            Now, is there some smoking gun email around which shows the Board all approved of the firing? Or even one or two? No – but the dynamics are such, that it is basically impossible to believe that this was not a decision approved of by Bradford’s superior(s), including at least the one GA.

            But…for argument’s sake, let’s say that Bradford in fact acted as a rogue agent, and without ever consulting with any of his superiors, fired an apologist whose style and output were highly valued by Samuelson and the GA in question (and other GA’s on the Board).

            In that case, Kiwi, what you are saying is that none of the apostles, none of the First Presidency members, not the GA, and not Samuelson, did one single thing to reverse a decision they all supposedly disagreed with. You’re asking us to believe that the same two guys (Samuelson and the GA) who took the time to quash an article about John Dehlin, didn’t take the time to reverse the firing of a guy they never wanted fired. That is extremely implausible; but let’s say you’re right. Then the question is: what kind of men do your comments paint those Board members to be?

            Why don’t you answer that question?

          • kiwi57

            You’re relying rather heavily upon circular argument.

            Nobody is suggesting that Bradford is a “rogue agent” — which, just BTW, presupposes your rather idiotic assumption that the GA’s micromanage BYU right down to the department level.

            He is, however, a department head (or equivalent) with his own agenda, and the authority to carry it out.

            It is a well-known (and rather undisputed) fact that Bradford was working to implement his agenda long before Mister Dehlin started whining about non-existent “hatchet jobs.” So that part of your argument relies upon the Post Hoc fallacy.

            Relying, as it does, upon your own assumptions and the circular argument you have tried to adduce, the rest of your argument is moot.

            Care to try again?

            BTW, you asked: “what kind of men do your comments paint those Board members to be?”

            Better than you are.

          • The Oracle

            I’m not “assuming” that a GA intervened in the operation of the Neal Maxwell Institute. I am accepting it as a fact which I learned from Dan Peterson himself, on this blog, who reported that Bradford told him that he was requesting withdrawal of the Dehlin piece after a GA had called Samuelson about it, and Samuelson had called him. That incident alone shows that at least one GA would very easily intervene into the affairs of the Neal Maxwell Institute.

            So, you are on here asking me and others to believe that the same two guys – a GA and the BYU President – who intervened into the operation of the Neal Maxwell Institute to crush a piece on a guy who should have been excommunicated long ago, but who did NOT intervene to keep Peterson on the job even though they thought he should stay, are great guys?

            You can’t have it both ways, Kiwi. Either the GA and Samuelson wanted Peterson on the job, or they didn’t. If they wanted him on the job, but did nothing to keep him on the job after Bradford fired him, it means they intervened to protect a weasel who should have been excommunicated years ago (Dehlin), but did not intervene to protect Peterson after twenty years of fundraising and service – meaning that they are spineless, misguided twerps.

            But if they did *not* want him on the job, it means…they did not want him on the job. So, either they’re spineless, misguided twerps, or, like Bradford, they didn’t want him on the job anymore. Which is it?

            If you can find any flaw in my reasoning there, please lay it out, because I think those are your only two choices: Samuelson and the GA are loathsome twerps, or they wanted Peterson gone.

          • DanielPeterson

            You don’t know what you’re talking about, Coracle, and you’re grossly misreading what I’ve said about the case.

          • The Oracle

            It is very easy to simply announce that someone has created a “false” dichotomy. It only takes a few keystrokes over a few seconds.

            I invite you to make a few additional keystrokes over a few additional seconds to explain how that dichotomy is false.

          • The Oracle

            By the way, on this thread, you objected to the claim that your writings were extremely off-putting over the years to those struggling with Mormon faith. Your “false dichotomy” post here is one small example of why – it is dumb assertion where *explanation* is required. You don’t have to write a 10,000 word thesis. You simply have to employ *reason*, instead of trying to shut reason down through brute assertion.

            Explain how the following is a “false” dichotomy:

            “Either the GA and Samuelson wanted Peterson on the job, or they didn’t. If they wanted him on the job, but did nothing to keep him on the job after Bradford fired him, it means they intervened to protect a weasel who should have been excommunicated years ago (Dehlin), but did not intervene to protect Peterson after twenty years of fundraising and service – meaning that they are spineless, misguided twerps.

            “But if they did *not* want him on the job, it means…they did not want him on the job. So, either they’re spineless, misguided twerps, or, like Bradford, they didn’t want him on the job anymore. Which is it?”

            Where is the falsity in that?

          • DanielPeterson

            If my remark about a “false dichotomy” seems to you a good example of my terrible online persona, somebody needs to introduce you to the Web and to the world of message boards.

            Your complaint seems to me rather like somebody who, having encountered a ripple in his bathtub, imagines that he’s just survived the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004.

            Your dichotomy is false because, among other things, it presumes that a General Authority and President Samuelson “intervened” on John Dehlin’s behalf (a proposition for which there exists precisely no evidence), it presumes that I was “fired” (a presumption that I expressly addressed in the blog entry above), and it presumes a single act of dismissal (rather than the complex of varied events explicitly outlined in the blog entry above).

            And that’s just for starters.

            If you’re going to ignore what I’ve written about this matter and, instead, give priority to your own fantasies about it, there’s really not much point in my conversing with you, is there?

          • DanielPeterson

            That’s a ridiculous false dichotomy, Coracle. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • DanielPeterson

      You’re completely wrong, Coracle. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • The Oracle

        1.) Do you think you are not a polarizing figure?

        2.) Whether the GA’s realized it or not (that was a guess on my part, of course), you have helped drive many people, who were sincerely struggling with questions, away from Mormonism;

        3.) If it is not true that the LDS church is moving away from FARMS-style apologetics…where are the church-sponsored FARMS-style apologetics these days?

        • kiwi57

          The self-styled Oracle: “1.) Do you think you are not a polarizing figure?”

          Dan, of course, can speak for himself in that regard. However, no reasonable person can blame Dan if there are those who have fits of apoplexy at the mere mention of his name.

          You and your fellow anti-Mormons can, of course; but no reasonable person can.

          The self-styled Oracle: “2.) Whether the GA’s realized it or not (that was a guess on my part, of course), you have helped drive many people, who were sincerely struggling with questions, away from Mormonism;”

          That’s a boilerplate piece of the anti-Mormon legendarium. Which is to say, it’s an outright lie.

          But that won’t slow you down from repeating it. If anything, it will merely encourage you.

    • Kent

      I don’t know how polarizing Dan is, but he apparently got under the skin of a lot of opponents of the Church, who are still following him around trying to get another shot at him. Same way they are about the Church, just can’t quite get on with whatever it is they’ve discovered that’s so much better.

      • The Oracle

        Kent – Obviously, Peterson got “under the skin” not just of former Mormons, but of Mormons, too. If he hadn’t, some apostle, some Seventy, someone on the Board of Trustees, or Samuelson himself, would have intervened to have him reinstated after Bradford dismissed him. By the way, I would bet that not one single Board of Trustees member so much as called Peterson to tell him he disagreed with that decision, let alone tried to reverse it.

        Secondly, your comment about “finding something better” indicates that for you, questions about Mormonism come down to pragmatism – which life path is “better”? – versus “is Mormonism what it claims to be?”

        That’s a valid approach. It is just that not everyone is like you. No matter how great Mormonism, or Catholicism, or anything else, is, as a “life path”, some people don’t want to follow movements which are not what they claim to be. It’s that simple.

        • Kent

          My comment was about you and others still following Dan and the Church around to take shots at them. Your further guesses about what Church leaders think about Dan aren’t relevant to that. I didn’t define “better,” but apparently however you define it, it isn’t enough for you.

          • The Oracle

            I don’t “follow Dan around”. I’m participating on a couple of threads on this blog after coming across an entry on the prosecution against Monson for fraud.

            If you define “better” as “truer”, then I’ll put you in the true category.

        • DanielPeterson

          Coracle: “Obviously, Peterson got “under the skin” not just of former Mormons, but of Mormons, too. If he hadn’t, some apostle, some Seventy, someone on the Board of Trustees, or Samuelson himself, would have intervened to have him reinstated after Bradford dismissed him.”

          How in the world is that “obvious”?

          Coracle: “By the way, I would bet that not one single Board of Trustees member so much as called Peterson to tell him he disagreed with that decision, let alone tried to reverse it.”

          You don’t know much about the role of the BYU Board of Trustees. And you don’t know anything about the communications that I’ve had, or haven ‘t had, with members of the Board and with other General Authorities.

          In other words, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • Stan Barker

    And you can show specific examples of dishonesty? Please do so.

  • Stan Barker

    (snicker) Opinion is opinion. Yours just happens to be wrong.

  • DanielPeterson

    For any who might still be following this comment thread, I’m pleased to announce that someone calling himself “The Oracle” is the latest person who has volunteered to demonstrate, on the basis of what I’ve written and/or published, that I’m a vicious, vindictive, small-minded, and mean-spirited disgrace to Christianity.

    I eagerly await his discoveries. (He’ll be presenting them here.)

    His task should be greatly eased by the fact that others have undertaken this task previously, albeit with minimal success. Thus, much of the spadework has already been done by earlier and equally zealous volunteers, and “The Oracle’s” findings should be all the more impressive.

    He has abundant material with which to work. I’ve been posting online for years, and have also published at least three hundred newspaper columns, several books, and scores and scores of reviews and articles. Since he also proposes to demonstrate my lack of character and decency on the basis of things that I’ve not written myself but have edited, he has many thousands of pages of additional literature from which he can likewise cull his devastating revelations, including not only the “FARMS Review” but the volumes of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative and a number of other books.

    He’ll need to present quite a number of blood-curdling examples in order to ensure that they’re representative.

    I doubt that he’ll attempt to provide much context for his selections. At least, he hasn’t volunteered to do so and doesn’t appear to be so inclined. Thus, whatever I was responding to on message boards — typically, incendiary attacks on my faith and, very frequently, defamations of my character — will presumably be omitted. It will be as if the American bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were to be presented in a vacuum, with no reference to anything like the Rape of Nanking, Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Death March, the samurai code of bushido, or kamikaze pilots. Just America killing Japanese people, out of the clear blue sky.

    One can always hope for better things, of course.

    One can always hope.

    • DanielPeterson

      As I noted in the comment just above, someone who considers himself “The Oracle” has announced that he’s undertaken the task of demonstrating me, on the basis of things that I’ve written and published, to be vicious, mean-spirited, and small-minded.

      Others have taken up this crusade in the past, with unimpressive results.

      Fortunately for him, though, he has literally thousands of pages of material on which to draw, including books and articles and edited books and articles written by others but published by me and hundreds of newspaper columns and (sadly) thousands of message board posts. I’ve been writing for publication for roughly three decades now.

      And he has those others, his predecessors, who have done their best before him to select and highlight the most damning illustrations of my small-minded and mean-spirited viciousness.

      In fact, he’s now appealed directly to them for help in his undertaking, on at least one message board.

      Here’s where I have a suggestion for him: I think it would be very useful to compare my viciousness with the gentility shown to me by others. That would put my wickedness into especially stark contrast.

      And what better place to go for comparisons than to the very place where he sought for help in gathering examples of my bad behavior? Those people — many of them, no doubt, innocent victims of my callousness and cruelty — would provide an excellent contrast.

      Since he appealed for their assistance yesterday morning, at least two other threads dedicated to discussing me have appeared on that message board. Not wanting to overwhelm him with additional work, I propose that he simply excerpt some specimens of their comments there, which can then be compared with my vicious, small-minded meanness of spirit. Say, twenty-four hours’ worth. Or, even, just the first twelve hours after he sought their help. Or, if he’s too overburdened to add that little refinement to his project, I can gather a representative sample for him.

  • JL99

    I appreciate Dan’s explanation of why he was booted. I only had to listen to Dehlin’s program once to know I was in the wrong pew. I forget now what the subject was but I think it had something to do with a new “approach” to homosexuality or maybe it was same sex attraction or something. What ever the subject it was way too nutty for my taste. In fact at the time I wondered if the program was all about unrepentant disaffected Mormons – something I am too old and, maybe, just too tired to care about. I have not tuned in since.

    What is interesting to me are historical things and new discoveries. I guess that is why I am addicted to all things D.C. Peterson. But as an old guard Mormon my patience wears thin with whiney, self absorbed “poor me” types. In fact, I have pretty much had a belly full of them – hetero or homosexual.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X