“The Queer Philosophies of Men Mingled with Scripture,” and Other Matters

“The Queer Philosophies of Men Mingled with Scripture,” and Other Matters June 3, 2022

 

On the Garonne River at Dusk
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)

 

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Three new articles appeared this afternoon (Utah time) in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship:

 

“Interpreting Interpreter: Believing All the Words,” by Kyler Rasmussen

This post is a summary of the article ““Believe All the Words”: A Key to Spiritual Outpouring” by Mark Campbell in Volume 51 of Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship.

An introduction to the Interpreting Interpreter series is available at https://interpreterfoundation.org/interpreting-interpreter-on-abstracting-thought/.

The Takeaway:  Campbell identifies nine examples of a pattern in the Book of Mormon that suggests that belief in “all the words” given by God or his prophets prepares the way for further revelation. In terms of scripture, this intertextual pattern appears to be unique to the Book of Mormon, and is reinforced by the words of both ancient and modern prophets.

 

“The Queer Philosophies of Men Mingled with Scripture,” by Daniel Ortner

Review of Blaire Ostler, Queer Mormon Theology: An Introduction (Newburgh, IN: By Common Consent Press, 2021). 152 pages. $10.95 (paperback).

Abstract: Blaire Ostler attempts to show how “Mormon theology is inherently queer” and may be expanded to be fully “inclusive” of LGBTQ+ members. Unfortunately, Ostler conflates God’s love with indulgence for behavior that he has described as sinful. She offers a pantheistic/panentheistic conception of deity that collapses any differences between men and woman in sharp contrast to the Latter-day Saint understanding that men and women are complementary and require one another for exaltation and eternal life. Many of this book’s arguments are sophistry and the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. None of it is compatible with revealed truth contained in The Family: A Proclamation to the World and consistently taught by prophets, seers, and revelators.

 

““Believe All the Words”: A Key to Spiritual Outpouring,” by Mark Campbell

Abstract: In the Book of Mormon, many people received a remarkable spiritual outpouring following a declaration or demonstration of full belief in what they had already received or were about to receive. This paper examines nine examples of this that exhibit strong similarities in both language and substance. These examples demonstrate that the key to receiving a spiritual outpouring is to “believe all the words” of God that one has already received or is about to receive, after which great blessings will follow. However, such full belief must be thoughtful and inspired, not merely credulous. The findings of this paper provide another example of the rich narrative and doctrinal patterns in the Book of Mormon.

 

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If I’m not mistaken, this Facebook post from late April was the inimitable Jim Bennett’s first substantial take on the FX/Hulu miniseries Under the  Banner of Heaven (in which, unfortunately, the accomplished actor Andrew Garfield is seriously implicated).  My sharing it here — which I do with Jim Bennett’s kind permission  no doubt demonstrates the wrathful obsession with the miniseries with which I’ve been charged.  As does the reference in my immediately previous blog entry to a recent discussion of it by Bruce Webster, Mike Parker, and Kris Frederickson on the Interpreter Radio Show.  And as does the passing reference in that same post to the Pyrenees mountain range, which is plainly a subliminal memory of Elder Detective Jubilation T. Cornpone Pyre (or whatever Mr. Garfield’s character is called).  Anyway, here is Jim Bennett’s first installment:

 

Sorry, folks. “Under the Banner of Heaven” is unwatchably bad.
Right from the outset, we have problems. The first thing we see are Garfield’s daughters wearing Little House on the Prairie dresses, suggesting a level of familial fundamentalism that is foreign to mainstream Mormons. Immediately, it’s clear that we’re going to see a lot of lazy stereotypes that don’t match the lived experience of those on the inside. Yes, there is a throwaway line that these are “costumes,” but it’s hard to believe that the obvious association with modern polygamist couture is unintentional. When we see the Laffertys at a picnic later in the episode, the young girls and even adult women are similarly attired, reinforcing the deliberate choice to paint Mormons as weirder than we actually are.
In fact, all the Mormon cultural references are weird and jarring, even the small ones. When Garfield says that he’s going to take the lead on the investigation and speak to the suspect “Mormon to Mormon,” he says it with the confidence of someone who assumes this is a normal thing for a Mormon to say. As an active Mormon for 53+ years, I can confidently say that it really isn’t, although I can’t quite put my finger on why. Yes, Garfield speaks his tin-eared dialogue with grace and conviction, but when he’s forced to deliver clunkers like “the Church vigorously discourages beards,” it’s not really his fault that none of it rings true. And when he bursts into the interrogation room quoting the Doctrine and Covenants from memory and barking questions about covenants and altars and temple recommends, it finally shifts from awkward to laughable.
Then we get a flashback where Brenda Lafferty talks about how much our Savior hates Democrats and how she can’t go to the ungodly cities of New York and Chicago and how Jesus wants her at BYU in Salt Lake City, despite the fact that BYU isn’t in Salt Lake City. At this point, the Simpsons episode where Bart gets married in Utah got more things right than this show does. There’s absolutely no way Church members are going to see themselves in this increasingly ludicrous narrative.
And it just doesn’t let up. “Heavenly Father knows you can’t turn an upside down cake to save your life,” Garfield tells his wife. Who talks like that? In or out of the Church? The Attack of the Clones monologue about the evils of sand sounds almost Shakespearean in comparison. In the next flashback, Brenda meets her future in-laws [who] immediately tell her that “gossip is the devil’s playground” and she responds by saying “President Kimball said ‘stand ye in holy places,’ and BYU is a far better fit for those who want to live gospel standards.” It’s as if they lifted all the dialogue from New Era MormonAds.
The problems here, then, have little or nothing to do with the Church. It isn’t just that these characters aren’t authentic Mormons; they’re not authentic human beings. It’s impossible to care about what happens to these stilted cardboard cutouts. No human being has ever asked another human being “Do you all abide by the Word of Wisdom at BYU?” In fact, no human being has used the word “abide” in casual conversation since 1896. Given that Brenda Lafferty was a very real person, it’s sad that her death is being used as agitprop in a weirdly disturbing melodrama that is entirely disconnected from reality.
We get a bizarre lemonade party Book of Mormon reading, and then Brenda causes a scandal for leaving the womenfolk at the lemonade stand to do unwomanly manual labor. Did someone decide that the best way to research Mormon social gatherings was to watch an Amish barn raising? And why couldn’t they be bothered to get simple details right? When Ammon Lafferty announces that he’s going to serve a senior mission for two years, every member of the Church who served a mission in the 1980s knows that senior missions back then were only 18 months long. Not that it matters in terms of the plot, but it matters if they’re trying to convince me that my church is inherently violent and terrible. Why should I take them seriously when they couldn’t be bothered to do even the most casual research to figure out how my church actually works?
The first Joseph Smith flashback makes no sense at all. It shows a prepubescent Joseph wooing a prepubuscent Emma with tales of his vision of God, strongly implying that he’s making it up to impress her. But Joseph didn’t meet Emma until he was 19, five years after the first vision was supposed to have taken place. That’s not a meaningless detail like the length of a senior mission. It’s a significant misrepresentation that demonstrates how fast and loose they’re willing to play with the historical record. This series has exhausted all claims to credibility in its first episode.
I’m in no hurry to watch the rest.

 

Fortunately, as we’ve already seen, he did watch it.

 

I, alas, haven’t watched it.  Not necessarily out of principle — though that would be a good and sufficient reason by itself — nor even (altogether) out of a lack of interest, but because I haven’t been in North America much lately and haven’t had much time when I have been.  Also (and rather curiously, given my alleged obsession with the miniseries), I haven’t actually posted any of my own thoughts about it.  I suffer from a weird reluctance to comment on things about which I have no actual knowledge.

 

Posted from the Garonne River, heading toward the Atlantic from Bordeaux, France

 

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