In Beowulf Territory

In Beowulf Territory June 14, 2024


Sweden's temple
An evening view of the Stockholm Sweden Temple before its recent closure for a substantial expansion. (

Two new articles went up today on the website of the Interpreter Foundation:

“An Analysis of the Financial Incentives in Attacking the Restoration,” written by Ron C. Rhodes

Abstract: With the popularity of social media growing exponentially, prominent critics of the Church are leveraging the platforms, particularly YouTube, as a key resource to produce thousands of negative videos about the Church. The accusations made in the videos about Church history, leadership, doctrine, and culture are so numerous that it could take months or even years to research fully, all while the flood of new content continues. It is easy for those exposed to the accusations to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume and, therefore, assume at least some of it must be true. This could place at least some members on a path to a faith crisis. While many members understand the need to seek information from reliable sources to cope with such accusations, for some it may also be of value to consider the financial incentives for the extensive hostile content being created. In this paper the business models and apparent revenue of several influential organizations are considered, which may help explain why the content, especially video content, is being produced in such volume. Financial incentives, of course, do not necessarily call a work into question but can be of interest in seeking to understand behaviors and the relationship between business models and organizational output and success.

“Interpreting Interpreter: The Incentives of Apostasy,” written by Kyler Rasmussen

This post is a summary of the article ““An Analysis of the Financial Incentives in Attacking the Restoration” by Matthew L. Bowen in Volume 61 of Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship. All of the Interpreting Interpreter articles may be seen at An introduction to the Interpreting Interpreterseries is available at

The Takeaway:  Rhodes provides financial context for the work of popular online organizations that are critical of the Church, suggesting that there are key monetary incentives for creating critical content that may help explain their prolific output.

Enjoying a nice little Viking duel
Egill Skallagrímsson — hero of the saga that bears his name — engages in a duel or “holmgang” with Berg-Önundr, as painted by Johannes Flintoe. (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

It’s Pride Month in Sweden — as it is around much of the world right now, though perhaps not in Gaza — and rainbow flags are much, much more visible here than are the flags of Sweden and the European Union.  They fly from buses and trams and hang as banners in the huge Nordstan shopping center near us (where there is also a very large LGBTQ+ display and information center.  They adorn public squares and major buildings and hotel reception desks, and the like.  A new religion has swept over Sweden: In hoc signo vinces.  Which makes all the more striking the news about gender-reassignment surgery that has been coming of Sweden for the past year or two, and to which this statement from the Deseret News editorial board alludes:  “Opinion: Europe’s example on gender treatment.”

j cijcij idk djm ki idd
A view from one of the islands off of Göteborg (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

My wife and I went out today on a boat to and around the southern archipelago or island group that lies off the coast of Göteborg (or Gothenburg).  These islands figure (as the Elfarsker or the “river islets”) in several of the Old Norse sagas, including the Laxdæla sagaand probably in the Anglo-Saxon poems Widsith and Beowulf.  Among other things, too, they were evidently popular locations for holmgangar, or duels, during the Viking Age, which were a legally recognized way of settling a dispute.  (See the image above.  The term holmgang literally means “holm-going” or “island-going.”)

It was raining when we walked over to the wharf and even when we boarded the boat, and most of the passengers fought for inside seats and stayed within, but we went up to the outside deck and found a place sheltered from the wind.  The rain stopped as soon as we sat down and we had a very pleasant time for the whole cruise.

The Stockholm Sweden Temple
The Stockholm Sweden Temple, as it appeared before it was recently closed for a substantial expansion.  (LDS Media Library)

I briefly introduced Louis Herrey here two or three days ago.  (He’s the organizer of our conference here in Sweden.)  Since then, happily, a reader of this blog who calls himself “mormonfray” was able to locate the video that I was seeking of “The Herreys” — Louis and his older brothers Per and Richard — in a live performance of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.”

He and a senior missionary couple picked me and Scott Gordon and Keith Erekson up this evening and took us over to the chapel where we’ll be holding our conference tomorrow.  He recorded a brief interview with each of us that he intends to use online.  And Keith was also interviewed for something that will go out on the Swedish Seminaries and Institutes channel.  I believe that the other participants in our conference will be interviewed tomorrow

I’m expecting that the audience tomorrow will be considerably smaller than it was eight or nine years ago, when we had a large turnout at a conference center.  There are apparently several competing events happening and schools are on summer break, so many students are away.  Moreover, I’ve been told, local ecclesiastical authorities have been wary of lending their support to an “unofficial” venture such as this.  They were wary last time, too, but President M. Russell Ballard apparently dialed them up and gave us his stamp of approval.  Unfortunately, President Ballard wasn’t available to endorse this year’s conference, and it’s a new crop of ecclesiastical leaders.  Still, happily, tomorrow’s proceedings will be both live-streamed and recorded for future use.

One interesting side benefit of this trip is that I’ve had serious conversations with well-positioned local people in each of our respective conference locations about making the Interpreter Foundation film Witnesses (and probably also its accompanying docudrama Undaunted: Witnesses of the Book of Mormon) available for Church Educational System use and for Church use generally in Italy, Sweden (and perhaps Scandinavia more broadly), and the German-speaking countries — and about having German and Italian subtitles provided.  (I don’t know yet whether they would even want or need that done in Swedish.)  There is real interest, and I’m very pleased at the prospect.

Posted from Göteborg, Sweden



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