“How the Culture Wars Shrink Both Religion and Reason”

 

 

This was, for many years, effectively the motto of FARMS and of its successor organization, the Maxwell Institute.

 

I don’t believe that I’ve called attention yet to this significant and provocative piece by my friend and colleague Professor Ralph Hancock:

 

http://www.ldsmag.com/article/1/13976

 

Well, on second thought, I guess I have.

 

 

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  • peredehuit

    Great article! Thank you for sharing.

  • Brock Lesnar

    “You can please some of the people some of the time all of the people some of the time some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” Abraham Lincoln

    Obviously, Ralph is disgruntled at the direction the Maxwell Institute is possibly heading. However, BYU, the Church and numerous LDS seem to be very pleased at the direction the Maxwell Institute is heading.

    This about sums it up. I hope Ralph can now move on and write about other, more relevant topics.

    • DanielPeterson

      That scarcely “sums it up,” Mr. Lesnar.

      It’s not even accurate.

      I can assure you that the Maxwell Institute isn’t Professor Hancock’s principal concern, let alone his sole issue.

      And, while some at BYU may well be “very pleased at the direction the Maxwell Institute is heading” — I know of at least half a dozen, and there may be quite a few more — and while “numerous LDS” (depending on what you mean by “numerous”) may be in transports of ecstasy over it, I’m aware of absolutely no evidence to suggest that “the Church” has endorsed it. Rather the contrary, in fact.

      Try not to go so far beyond the limits of your knowledge. It’s embarrassing.

      • Brock Lesnar

        Dan wrote: “Try not to go so far beyond the limits of your knowledge. It’s embarrassing.”

        Was that really necessary Dan? It’s a little hard to sympathize and believe your claims that you’re constantly under personal attack, when you respond like this.

        You’re a better man than this.

        • DanielPeterson

          It was wrong of you to declare, in effect, that the leaders of my Church disapprove of me.

          You can have no genuine basis for that personally damaging allegation.

          And I have direct personal knowledge (reconfirmed quite plainly as recently as two days ago) that your claim is false.

          • Brock Lesnar

            Dan wrote : “It was wrong of you to declare, in effect, that the leaders of my Church disapprove of me.”

            For the love of Pete, Dan! Where did I ever say that?!

          • kiwi57

            It’s rather difficult to read “BYU, the Church and numerous LDS seem to be very pleased at the direction the Maxwell Institute is heading” without concluding, at minimum, that “BYU, the Church and numerous LDS seem to be very pleased that the Maxwell Institute got rid of Dan Peterson,” since that is one of the key events without which it could not now be “heading” in the “direction” of merely academic “Mormon studies.”

          • Brock Lesnar

            kiwi57, according to your logic, ANYTHING said about the Maxwell Institute, can now be attributed to be directed at Dan.

            This is beyond ridiculous. You and Dan are both smarter than this.

          • DanielPeterson

            You’re smarter than this, Mr. Lesnar.

            The pivotal relevant moment in 2012, the signal marker of the Maxwell Institute’s “new course,” was my expulsion from the Institute.

            But even if you leave me altogether out, you still have no evidence — because none exists — that “the Church . . . [is] very pleased at the direction the Maxwell Institute is heading.”

            You went considerably beyond what you know.

          • Brock Lesnar

            Dan wrote: “The pivotal relevant moment in 2012, the signal marker of the Maxwell Institute’s “new course,” was my expulsion from the Institute…..But even if you leave me altogether out, you still have no evidence — because none exists — that “the Church . . . [is] very pleased at the direction the Maxwell Institute is heading.”

            Do you have evidence the Church isn’t pleased with the direction of the MI? I find your assertion highly unlikely. If the Brethren were displeased, I can’t imagine they would let it continue to operate at the Church’s flagship.

            Now I’m curious as to why you feel an incident that happened two years ago, was the signal marker of the MI’s new course?

            What new course? I’m sure people come and go from the MI all the time. It’s no big deal. In the real world, it’s called business as usual.

            No offense was intended Dan.

          • DanielPeterson

            BL: “Do you have evidence the Church isn’t pleased with the direction of the MI?”

            Yup.

            BL: “If the Brethren were displeased, I can’t imagine they would let it continue to operate at the Church’s flagship.”

            I have direct personal knowledge, while you have your imagination.

            I’m entirely comfortable with that.

            BL: “Now I’m curious as to why you feel an incident that happened two years ago, was the signal marker of the MI’s new course? What new course? I’m sure people come and go from the MI all the time. It’s no big deal. In the real world, it’s called business as usual.”

            Good grief. I thought you had at least some idea of what had gone on.

            BL: “No offense was intended Dan.”

            Perhaps not, but it was certainly given.

          • Brock Lesnar

            Dan wrote: “And I have direct personal knowledge (reconfirmed quite plainly as recently as two days ago) that your claim is false.”

            Excuse me if I’m a bit skeptical. I know how these things work. The Church would not be contacting you to inform you of their displeasure with the current direction of the MI.

            If they were displeased, they would mandate an immediate change at the MI or would cease its operations. That’s how the Church leadership operates.

            They don’t engage in whispering, gossiping or backbiting.

          • DanielPeterson

            Be as skeptical as you like, Mr. Lesnar. I don’t particularly care.

            I know more about this topic than you do, and more than I feel authorized to say. I’ve made no serious public use of what I know — not for more than eighteen months — and I’m not going to start now.

            You’re simply wrong. But that’s your right.

          • Brock Lesnar

            Dan wrote: “I know more about this topic than you do….You’re simply wrong. But that’s your right.”

            I guess time will tell who was speaking with greater light and knowledge.

            Until then, I will graciously bow out, slip out the back and go home early!! Yeah!!

          • DanielPeterson

            YOU may have to wait for time to tell YOU, but, as a matter of fact, I don’t.

            That’s one of the characteristics of direct personal knowledge: I’m not guessing, speculating, inferring, or extrapolating. I actually know.

          • Brock Lesnar

            Dan,

            If you’re correct, the Church will not allow the MI to proceed on its current course much longer.

            If I’m correct, the MI will be allowed to continue on its course, just like it has done since 2012, and your “expulsion.”

            I would say based upon the fact that the Church and BYU have allowed the MI to proceed in its new direction without interference since 2012, it certainly looks like I’m correct.

            But only time will tell.

          • DanielPeterson

            BL: “If you’re correct, the Church will not allow the MI to proceed on its current course much longer.”

            You presume not only to know to what degree “the Church” micromanages BYU, but the timeline upon which “the Church” does this.

            How do you know such things?

            BL: “If I’m correct, the MI will be allowed to continue on its course, just like it has done since 2012, and your ‘expulsion.’”

            And, even though I’m correct, that may still happen.

            BL: “I would say based upon the fact that the Church and BYU have allowed the MI to proceed in its new direction without interference since 2012, it certainly looks like I’m correct.”

            Your confidence in your own timetable is impressive, but I don’t share it.

            BL: “But only time will tell.”

            Wrong. I already know.

          • RG

            Dan, Am I right to assume that your crusade against the secularization of MI now extends to BYU more generally?

          • DanielPeterson

            No.

            Because there is no “crusade.”

          • Brock Lesnar

            Dan wrote: “No. Because there is no “crusade.”

            I’m glad to hear it, both as an alumnus and as a Mormon. If anyone was stupid enough to attempt such a misguided and ridiculous crusade, it would be shot down immediately.

          • DanielPeterson

            A “crusade” might or might not be stupid, depending on the facts of the situation. A refusal to pay any attention, based on the complacent confidence that nothing could conceivably ever go wrong, would be blitheringly foolish.

            Backseat driving is irritating, but a lack of concern about whether the driver is drunk, unconscious, or absorbed with his iPad would be lethal.

          • Brock Lesnar

            Yes, I agree.

            Even more doltish than someone with inane complacent confidence, it’s imbecilic bone-headedness to think one knows more than the Bretheren when it comes to running the Church’s flagship.

            Only a babbling, irrational, cretinous dimwit would try to steady the ark at BYU.

            On this we are in agreement, Dan.

          • DanielPeterson

            No, we’re not in agreement. Your rhetoric is getting aggressive and out of hand.

            I’m disappointed.

            Stop it or leave.

          • Brock Lesnar

            Dan,
            Maybe it’s you that needs to take a break for a while.

            Can you point to even one of my posts where I’ve shown “aggressive rhetoric”?

            I’m trying hard to figure out exactly where your coming from. Maybe there’s a book at Barnes & Noble called “Dan is From Venus and Brock is From Mars” that will help me figure this out.

            I’ve been cordial and patient and have endured attack after attack from you and kiwi57. Not cool. Not cool at all.

          • DanielPeterson

            On this very thread.

            The schtick isn’t funny, BL. The pose has worn thin.

          • kiwi57

            Brock Lesnar: “Dan,
            Maybe it’s you that needs to take a break for a while.”

            From his own blog?

            Just how enormous is your sense of self-importance? Are you really that far out of touch with reality?

            Brock Lesnar: “I’m trying hard to figure out exactly where your coming from…. I’ve been cordial and patient…”

            Really? Wasn’t it you who wrote this?

            “Only a babbling, irrational, cretinous dimwit would try to steady the ark at BYU.”

            But of course, why would anyone imagine you were thinking of Dan when you wrote that?

            Do you think passive-aggression is endearing, do you?

          • kiwi57

            Brock Lesnar: “Only a babbling, irrational, cretinous dimwit would try to steady the ark at BYU.”

            Really?

            Well, if it is the case that “Only a babbling, irrational, cretinous dimwit would try to steady the ark at BYU” — i.e. second-guess the leaders of the Church in the way they choose to manage an at least partly secular institution — then what kind of “babbling, irrational, cretinous dimwit would try to steady the ark” when it comes to those self-same leaders teaching the Saints in matters of faith and morals?

            The management of BYU, while important, is a relatively peripheral part of the Church’s mission, and is not strictly an ecclesiastical matter.

            OTOH, teaching the Lord’s Standard of Morality to the members of the Church is absolutely an ecclesiastical matter, and is a core element of the Church’s mission, and of the ministry of a Church leader.

            So I ask again: what kind of “babbling, irrational, cretinous dimwit would try to steady the ark” in that regard?

          • RG

            Sorry. Am I right to assume that your war against the secularization of MI now extends to BYU more generally?

          • DanielPeterson

            No.

            I’ve launched no “war” against the secularization of the Maxwell Institute, so I’m unable to expand that nonexistent war.

          • Brock Lesnar

            I’m glad you’ve launched no “war” because any such misguided attempt would make Custard’s Last Stand look like the Storming of Inchon.

          • RG

            So in a blog post that invokes the image of “war,” where the article linked to likewise invokes the image of war, wherein BYU and MSR are given as examples of ways in which such a war is now occurring in what was previously non-secularized territory, you want to hold to the claim that you’re not involved in any war?

          • DanielPeterson

            I’m not involved in any war.

          • RG

            Ok. Then please refrain from using war imagery when talking about MI and BYU. Thank you.

          • DanielPeterson

            I’ll continue to do so. Thanks.

          • kiwi57

            Brock Lesnar: “If you’re correct, the Church will not allow the MI to proceed on its current course much longer.”

            And this from the fellow who thinks he knows what logic is.
            Brock, you really should stop badgering Dan on his own blog.

            It’s not clear to me that it’s appropriate for Church leadership to overstep the management of BYU in that way.

            Nor, for that matter, is there anything actually wrong with academic “Mormon Studies.”

            What is wrong is that there used to be a vehicle for scholarly defenses of the faith located at BYU, and now there is not.

            This gives certain rather smug anti-Mormon “oracles” the opportunity to jeer that the Church has surrendered on that front. I do not believe that the leaders of the Church are actually pleased with either of these developments.

            If I am right, then whatever the leadership of the Church chooses to do or not do about the former Neal A. Maxwell Institute, we should expect to see a replacement vehicle emerge.


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