Apologetic Activism — Occupy Your Own Self

So even those of us who live under rocks have now heard that some sort of an Event has occurred out in Utah that apparently involves the potential demise of FARMS. This should be considered bad news by those who think themselves called to defend the Church because it means that the dirty laundry all organizations generate has now risen to such a level that even misanthropically inclined hermits such as me are now aware of it.

Worse still is some of the advice now posted by folks who purport to care about the welfare and progress of the church. In addition to clicking on those buttons that animate the Social Media Reality, folks who wish to see a FARMS-style apologetic presence at the Maxwell Institute are urged to contact various leaders who are part of the decision-making process. And among the targets of this activism are our very own general authorities:

If you have personal friendship or ties to any General Authorities, express your concern about the situation, and your appreciation for everything FARMS has done.
Contact BYU’s President Samuelson, and let him know how you feel.
Contact BYU’s administration, and let them know how you feel.
Contact the Maxwell Institute, and let them know how you feel.

That thing with the general authorities? Don’t do it. Just don’t.

If you have a personal relationship, you may be presumptuous. If you are part of The Nameless Importuning Horde, the cumulative effect may be thuggish.

Yes, I know that there are a selection of biblical texts that can serve as prooftexts for a more aggressive approach.  However, all such readings should be viewed through the twin lenses of love and wisdom.

Certain kinds of apologetic argument take some sophisticated approaches in order to be done well. Fortunately, there is a very powerful apologetic approach that takes nothing more than insight, inspiration, and initiative. All you have to do is sit down and articulate why the BoM is worth reading or the LDS lifestyle worth living. And if you have a web site, collect and publish such stories from your readers who do not themselves have your publishing platform. IOW, most of us need to just keep doing what we’re doing and we will be keeping the apologetic tradition alive and successful.

Back to my rock,

Mogs

  • http://www.templestudy.com Bryce Haymond

    A few comments, Mogs. We do not “wish to see a FARMS-style apologetic presence at the Maxwell Institute.” We want to see FARMS live on, but that will not necessarily be at the Institute. It may well be re-grouped as an independent organization once again.

    Why can’t members talk to General Authorities? Since General Authorities (i.e. President Hinckley) were involved in the merge of FARMS with BYU, they should at least be aware of its demise, and of those who are concerned about its future. We’re not suggesting people horde the Brethren, or harass them like paparazzi. We’re suggesting they talk to them about it, if they have personal acquaintances, as you note through “love and wisdom,” so they know what’s going on.

    Armchair bloggers are not sufficient for apologetic response in the Church. As Elder Packer has well noted, bloggers can do a tremendous work for the good of the Church on the Internet, but I do not think they are well-equipped to address the sophisticated claims and attacks by many of the Church’s most sly detractors and their organizations. What about them?

  • aliquis

    I think it’s ironic that the site you link to advocates the very kind of general-authority-petitioning that apparently got FARMS disbanded in the first place. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, I guess.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor/ Chris H.

    “…I do not think they are well-equipped to address the sophisticated claims and attacks by many of the Church’s most sly detractors and their organizations.”

    The problem is not the medium of blogs, but the hackish bloggers doing apologetics with the medium of blogging.

    Who are the enemies. John Dehlin? I do not believe he has ever made a sophisticated claim. I say this as somebody who has observed his secret community.

    By attacking the Tanners, Dehlin, or other DAMU voices you give them more attention than they deserve. I have made the same mistake before, but it is folly.

  • http://www.templestudy.com Bryce Haymond

    “Who are the enemies. John Dehlin? I do not believe he has ever made a sophisticated claim.”

    He doesn’t have to make a sophisticated claim to be damaging. On the other hand, the entire system he’s created and the following he’s engendered is certainly sophisticated. He’s a smart guy.

  • oudenos

    Bryce,

    I am trying to figure out how you can assert this: “We’re not suggesting people horde the Brethren, or harass them like paparazzi.”

    While being responsible for this: http://www.followtheprophet.net/about/

    But really, please take a step back and look at what Mogget is asking you to do. It is not outrageous and it will probably be more beneficial to your cause. Not that I care to help it.

  • Quickmere Graham

    Bryce, you’re freakin people out, srsly.

  • http://www.trevorprice.net Trevor

    As a supporter of John D’s work who’s never spent much time reading apologetics, I appreciate your words, Mogget. I think that simply empathy and a non-judgmental, personal approach can be just as effective at helping struggling Mormons as the best apologetic work.

  • http://www.followtheprophet.net Bryce Haymond

    oudenos, Thanks for pointing out FollowTheProphet.net, which I hope to begin writing for again soon. Of course we never encouraged anyone to harass the Prophet there either. It’s simply a place to find out what the Prophet’s been up to recently, after the fact. Indeed, my communication with Church headquarters was encouraging. Our Facebook Page is one of the most popular that I admin – http://www.facebook.com/followtheprophet

  • mogget

    First Bryce, I’d like to point out the ease with which your thoughts can be expressed here on FPR. Would that such courtesy were available in more places!

    Second, if FARMS is to be re-grouped as an independent organization, then you won’t be needing church permission unless the copyright details associated with the name are important or there are some other details. You can just call it “Whatever” and organize anywhere, I suspect, with any folks who find themselves interested.

    Third, my point is not that you can’t contact church leaders, but that you shouldn’t because it is a less than courteous approach. Now if you would like to Occupy the JS Building or whatever, please go right ahead. But serious folks with serious jobs need to room to do those jobs. Moreover, like Oudenous I find the expressed rationale behind your Follow the Prophet site to be a bit beyond the pale. And given that so many people voted for King Putt and still think he’s doing a good job, popularity cannot be considered evidence of good judgment.

    Finally, if Elder Packer is aware of the advantages of apologetic efforts then I think the matter is in good hands. Let us leave him and his fellows to guide things in their best judgment and return to doing what we can do.

    Mogs

  • http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ Stephen M (Ethesis)

    If you have a personal relationship, you may be presumptuous. If you are part of The Nameless Importuning Horde, the cumulative effect may be thuggish.

    I generally agree with that sort of thing … but … and … I’m not sure it matters here. Generally all that happens is that such contacts get lost in the background noise.

    Err, King Put?

    I’m lost in this conversation, though it starts with a place I tend to agree with, I’m lost by the end of the comments.
    I’m not sure why http://www.followtheprophet.net/ is beyond the pale? Could you explain that better?


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