MarginOfError

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Everything posted by MarginOfError

  1. MarginOfError

    Liberals in the Church

    This would be a really interesting race to run. We'd need to agree to an endpoint that defines "failure of the state." I propose when citizens resort to cannibalism.
  2. MarginOfError

    Liberals in the Church

    It wasn't just you, but there were moments that if you had been in the same room I might have broken your nose. You've been better since I've returned to the group, as evidenced that I'm actually willing to engage in discussion with you. I won't claim I'm perfect, nor will I claim I've never acted with animosity towards others here. I've been learning a lot of patience. Apologies are probably in order toward you as well, and you may consider this my apology. Replying to Carb and scotty, I actually did take a three year or so hiatus from the forum beginning in 2015.
  3. MarginOfError

    Liberals in the Church

    I came to the realization that people join the Church because they develop a testimony. People stay in the Church because of their social connections. We can debate the merits of that ad nauseum, and I'll concede upfront that the covenants are more important than that. But I'm also a realist and a pragmatist. People who become socially disconnected from the Church are the highest risk for leaving the Church. And it takes a remarkably strong testimony to stick with it if you feel no social connection. I have dealt with people that insist that they are right and if you disagree you need to repent. It's toxic. It's especially toxic when people with this attitude utilize it within leadership positions. I'm certain my perception isn't flawed. There are certain positions in Church leadership that give you instant credibility. You're right that I've never seen someone just outright be kicked out. The process is much more subtle. It's the "you can't be a good member if...." or "I don't know how anyone that believes [whatever] can hold a temple recommend." It starts with the social bonds at church being poisoned. And when it's too socially uncomfortable to keep going back, exodus isn't far away. My rambling didn't do a good job of making that clear. I'm not going to dwell on much of that. That portion of the post was anecdotal, and the intent was to illustrate how quickly one's comfort level at church can change when leadership changes. I can tell you that I was not the only person who felt that shift. Perhaps it is an inappropriate swipe, but envision for a minute what going to Church would be like for me if Grunt were called as my bishop, based on his previous response in this thread. But tying it back, the reason it matters is that when people become socially disconnected, it becomes much more difficult to maintain their activity. I used to do that. It would typically stop the discussion on that day. But then it would end up coming up again. And the ultimate effect was that the conservative viewpoint was getting the last word. Many people interpret the last word as "having won the debate." (another absurd conclusion) I've found that offering the counter-view, especially when I've been in a position of authority, has done more to suppress the injection of politics into church discussions while making those in disagreement feel a little more comfortable. Theoretically, you're right. It should be enough. My pragmatism tends to get the better of me. That's out of the scope of this thread. Probably sounds like a dodge. I've personally heard people make such statements. It doesn't usually come along as "repent or get out," but more like, "if you think women should hold priesthood, you should go to another church." It poisons the social waters, which is a dangerous thing. And it shouldn't be tolerated. Again, a discussion out of the scope of of this thread. And one I won't engage in on open forums. Nothing (and I mean nothing) has been more toxic to my relationship with the Church than engaging in these topics on public forums on this site. If you really wish to discuss, I welcome you to send private messages. On the other hand, I've known plenty of conservatives that will attempt to shut down any conversation with appeals to statements of the Apostles in a way that practically assumes infallibility. On the whole, I'd say that very few in the church, conservative or liberal, have much of an idea of how doctrinal development can, will, or should take place. You will never, ever hear me claim that I am not a hypocrite. At best, I'm a self aware hypocrite. I actually admit to my hypocrisies somewhat regularly at church, specifically in the hope that others will call me out on them when I get out of line (and there are a handful of people in the ward that do, thankfully). I have a lot of repenting to do. I don't say that to excuse my behavior. I say it because I believe that willingness to admit it strengthens the bonds between myself and my fellow church-goers and makes repentance more likely to happen. So ultimately, I'll join you in denouncing any liberal who does anything to make a conservative less comfortable at church. It's unacceptable. I denounce my own hypocrisy. At the same time, I will stand in defense of any liberal who is under threat of social ostracism for their beliefs.
  4. MarginOfError

    Liberals in the Church

    I don't think this is a objectively verifiable statement. I will agree that there is a time and a place for such discussions. I was willing to do it in Institute, where I was teaching college age adults who were living in an environment that was somewhat hostile to their beliefs. It was a setting where it felt justified to move beyond the basics and introduce them to some of the challenges to their faith that they were likely to encounter at some point anyway. It seems a flawed line of reasoning to think you can't introduce and discuss challenging topics and alternative view points while also teaching the gospel and the teachings of the prophets. And again, choosing your setting is important. I don't go into Gospel Doctrine and make of asking hard questions. The audience is too varied to manage that discussion effectively. I also don't do it in Primary, nor would I do it in Seminary. (with a caveat of if student(s) ask the question themselves). In those settings, about the only time I bring up alternative viewpoints are when someone is pushing that one viewpoint is the only acceptable viewpoint. Usually, it's pushing a conservative viewpoint, but I've had to challenge some more liberal viewpoints as well.
  5. MarginOfError

    Texas: Contagion and Masks

    On top of that, even if having had the disease gives you any immunity against it, that only means that you are less likely to become ill. You are still perfectly capable of spreading the thing. If you have some immunity, the strength of the virus may be reduced, but humans don't have a natural immunity to this. Help protect those around you and wear a mask.
  6. MarginOfError

    Liberals in the Church

    I'm sorry I left you with the impression. It's actually quite the opposite. and like Mr. Shorty, I'm political liberalness is heavily informed by my religious beliefs. Which is kind of my point.
  7. MarginOfError

    Liberals in the Church

    I'm probably going to end up kicking up a hornet's nest here, and starting a fight I don't have the will power to finish. But this is an issue that strikes very close to home. Let's get some of the basics out up front. I am what pretty much everyone would consider a "liberal in the Church." I vote liberal politically, and a number of my personal beliefs with respect to our religion fall outside of the orthodox views. I have multiple friends that share many of these views that have left the Church. I also have multiple friends who share my views that have remained in the Church. The Personal Experiences (skip if you don't want to read the novel) The most succinct thing I can say about being a liberal in the Church is that the risk of social ostracism is very high. And the vast majority of my friends who have left the Church have done so more because of the social ostracism than because of a failing testimony. Perhaps the most keen example of this is a friend of mine who joined the Church as an adult convert while attending MIT. I name-drop the school primarily to give a perspective of this being a person who was intelligent, motivated, and capable. It's important to note that as an adult convert, many of her political opinions and preferences were fairly established before she joined the Church. She met and married her husband while in college, and they went to Utah for his medical residency. While in Utah, she was on the receiving end of a lot of subtle and some not-so-subtle reminders of "the role of women at home." Some people even outright asked her what was the point in her getting her Master's degree. She wasn't going to use it once she had kids anyway (spoiler, she wasn't able to have kids, not that it should matter). In fairness, I suspect the people perpetuating this nonsense were the minority, but it was enough to make participation at church uncomfortable. After about 15 years and a few moves, they ended up settling in New England. Her Relief Society presidency took it upon themselves to cure her of all of her liberal political beliefs. Their approach: asking her to teach lessons on "the evils of abortion," and "the evils of same sex marriage." They were overt in their intentions that if she would just prepare a lesson on the subject, she would start to see things the Correct Way (TM). She eventually stopped going to church because she was tired of being a target and a pet project. So let me make this clear: It is a real challenge to attend Church and be spiritually fed when you're wondering when the next attack is going to come. From my own experience, I have been exceptionally lucky. Coming off of a mission and entering college, I was about as straight laced and orthodox as a person can be. Believe it or not, at the time, I would have been considered a biblical literalist. My course of studies led me to start questioning some of the assumptions behind my beliefs. I had incredibly supportive family and bishops that encouraged me to explore and study these questions. They discussed issues with me. And while they were free with their own opinions--that often differed from the ones I was developing--they never told me that I couldn't disagree with them. I was also very lucky to be called into semi-prominent positions of service early on. But that can be a crap shoot for liberal Mormons. In the first ward I attended after finishing college, there was no scout troop. I chose to volunteer with a community based troop because I wanted to do something valuable with all the free time I had come into (I had been studying 12-14 hours a day for months leading up to my thesis defense). About two months later, the bishop of that ward asked me to comment on a plan he was devising to have the young men of three wards in the area meet once a month as a troop, once a month as patrols (in separate buildings) and then the other two weeks would be non-scout oriented activities. I suspect he was trying to ease into calling me to help run the program. Instead, I excoriated his idea, and said if he was going to run a scout troop, he should commit to it. But running half a program wasn't going to be of any benefit to anyone. He hardly ever spoke to me after that (but that vision of a scout program never developed). A few months later, he was released. The new bishop chose to retain the same two counselors who had been privy to my review of the scout troop idea. Apparently, those two had more appreciation for my willingness to offer criticism and honest feedback, and soon after I was called to be the ward clerk. And honestly, that calling as clerk is probably the reason I have been able to remain comfortable in the Church and be as liberal as I am. Because whatever bizzarro, unorthodox, or out-of-the-mainstream ideas I was spitting on any given day, I always had implicit status of "worthy" because I was in that inner leadership circle. I missed church about once a month to go lead scout activities. Any chance I could get to Church, I would, but it usually meant I showed up in grungy -- sometimes smelly -- camping clothes. And while I knew there were people that questioned whether I was keeping the Sabbath holy, no one ever questioned the strength of my testimony or worthiness because I held a semi-prominent position. That's an absurd conclusion, and I won't defend it. But nonetheless, I was challenged less for my unorthodox beliefs because of the leadership position I held. That changed soon after I was released as the clerk in that ward. The sequence of events occurred as such. First, I asked to be released so that my spouse could continue to serve as Young Women president after our second child was born. We just couldn't handle both being on the ward council at the time. A few months later, Brother X moved into the ward. And then a few months later, Brother X became Bishop X. Bishop X had no history with me, and was a very different kind of bishop than the one I had clerked for. At one point, I made a statement about gender discrepant language in the temple ceremonies, trying to illustrate and explain to people why that bothers some people in the Church. I got called in to meet with the bishop where he threatened to take my temple recommend away for violating my covenants to not reveal what happens in the temple. I had to argue with him that nothing I had said violated any sort of covenant, and if he'd be more comfortable understanding why I believed that, perhaps we should go to the temple and have a discussion about it in a setting that he was comfortable discussing it. He didn't accept the invitation. He also didn't pull my temple recommend, but I was very clearly on the outs with him. For the rest of the time he was bishop, Church was hard, because there were regular instances where my commitment to my faith was challenged because of the things I believed. It wasn't just me, either. Most of the liberal leaning members, especially women, would describe discomfort with Church activities because there were consistent swipes at the illegitimacy of liberal beliefs. One of the more amusing stories from that time frame was during the run up to the 2012 election. The ward ran a listserv for members to e-mail play date invitations, or list furniture they were selling/throwing out. One day, an e-mail came across asking for support for a Romney campaign something-or-other. I sent an e-mail to the bishopric expressing my discomfort with political activities taking place over a listserv for the ward. The response was pretty dismissive. They didn't see any problem with it. So I promptly sent an e-mail out over the listserv asking if anyone was interested in purchasing a "Mormons for Obama" bumper sticker. I'd place the order and pay the shipping, and so anyone that wanted one just needed to pay for the sticker. Almost immediately, a notice was put out that political discussions were not appropriate on the listserv. Antagonizing the bishop like that probably didn't help my cause, but it was totally worth it. Blessedly, Bishop X wasn't bishop very long. 18 months and then took a job overseas. Although I didn't hold any prominent callings under the new bishop, he was a lot more accepting of divergent viewpoints himself, and it started to be much more comfortable to be at church again. When I moved to my current ward, a little more than five years ago, I was almost immediately called to be a clerk. I've also taught Gospel Principles and Institute in that time. And again, being in that semi-prominent position has come with the side benefit that very few people question my commitment to my faith, regardless of how crazy any of the things I say are. Again, I've been blessed with great bishops (I'm on my third in this ward) and a good stake president. I've had at least two sets of missionaries complain about some of the things I've taught in Institute*. The bishops and stake president have always been backed me up and said that me offering challenging questions or alternate interpretations isn't a problem if I'm trying to genuinely help the students explore their faith and develop a familiarity with receiving their own revelation. But here's that catch. While it has been great the past five years, I get really anxious when a new bishop is being called. Even though I've had bishops that are supportive, I can name a few men in the ward that, if they were to become bishop, would probably make church very uncomfortable for me. Being an election year, we're currently dealing with heightened political feelings, and there have been some instances of members saying "you can't be a member in good standing and support abortion." When you get those kinds of statements coming from people in leadership positions. And here's the thing: it's completely unnecessary. * every Institute class I taught started with a disclaimer that I am very much exploring the content, and ideas I spout off on any given night may or may not be good ideas. And anything that I believe today may be something I don't believe five years from now. I've always tried to encourage the ability to safely explore and learn over dictating what I perceive to be true. For the most, it seems to have worked, as my students never seemed to be uncomfortable saying "I disagree with you." I Guess This is My Thesis (yeah yeah, it should be near the top) The Atonement of Jesus Christ is apolitical (probably a liberal idea, but I stand by it). The teachings of the Church should likewise be apolitical. Repent of your sins and come unto Christ. There is extremely wide latitude for political and social disagreement within that spectrum. There is extremely wise latitude for disagreement in how we interpret scripture and the guidance from our prophets. I do not consider homogeneity and conformity of thought a virtue in the Church (also probably a liberal idea, but I stand by it). Unity and disagreement are not mutually exclusive. And so I try (and sometimes fail) to respect opinions and ideas from members that I disagree with. More often than not, I want them to feel comfortable saying what the believe, and if possible, why they believe it. I have things to learn from them, and we are a better community when we understand and accept each other, regardless of the things we disagree or agree on. Regarding Liberals Attempting to Change the Church I believe firmly that there is room for questioning some of the things we purport to believe. I even more firmly believe that there is room to question some of our practices. But I also believe that those questions should follow a process of study, discussion, and prayer. I would be considered a liberal mormon, because I support the idea of allowing women to hold priesthood. But I don't support that idea because "EQUALITY." I honestly just can't see any reason they don't other than "because we never have." I know there are other arguments, but I don't find them compelling (and I'm not willing to discuss it in this thread**). Importantly though, I have reached this position after years of careful consideration. Changes to the church should not be made simply to fit the popular social issues of the time. So even as a liberal mormon, I hold that conservative approach. But that doesn't mean the Church can't or shouldn't change. It can and it should. And it will. Sometimes in ways that I favor, and sometimes in ways that I don't. ** I've spent too much time on this subject as it is, and if I don't get two weeks of work done before the end of next week, I won't be able to go to Scout Camp. Regarding Conservatives Attempting to Change the Church This is one that we should be wary of as well. As I mentioned before, taking stances like "No one can be a member in good standing and support abortion" is an attempt to change the Church into a homogeneous thought pool. The message that comes across is "Repent or get out." Those kinds of attitudes need to be rooted out in the Church. It's Genuinely Harder to Be Liberal in the Church That it is to be Conservative I'm just going to state this as fact. In the 20th century, Mormon culture took a hard conservative turn that intermingled with political conservatism. As political tensions increase, the fact that there are more conservatives in the Church will inherently make it more hostile to liberals in the Church. As far as doctrinal conservatism vs doctrinal liberalism, conservatives will typically be more hostile to liberals than liberals will be to conservatives. I'm excluding from this discussion elitist jerks that are convinced that if you don't agree with them, then you're a blithering idiot. But we have to understand that doctrinal liberalism is an existential threat to doctrinal conservatism. For example, if you are a biblical literalist, evolution is a direct route to atheism. On the other hand, doctrinal conservatism is merely an annoyance to doctrinal liberalism. Those facing an existential threat will always react more aggressively. As Liberals Gain More Influence in the Church, They Must Wield Their Influence Responsibly And this is hard to do. We often want to call into leadership people who agree with us, or who are like minded. But we cannot afford to do that. It would be a tragedy of incomprehensible magnitude for liberals to wield their influence to turn ostracism onto conservatives in the way we have felt it. Church is a place to be uplifted. And I struggle with this one. A lot. There are an unspecified number of individuals in my ward that are very conservative. And when we consider leadership openings, I regularly find myself advocating against calling them. I've often had to take several days to try and sort out if my advocacy is legitimate or born out of my own biases. I've been lucky so far in that any time one of these individuals has come up as a possibility, the bishopric is generally unanimous in choosing not to call them. But I still feel great discomfort at the possibility that I may be excluding people in the way that I felt excluded in times past. I've definitely lost track of where I was going with all of this. But let me just close by saying that we need to be very careful pitting "liberal" vs. "conservative." We cannot afford to allow ourselves to become opponents. We are on the same team and need to learn to work as a team.
  8. MarginOfError

    BoM Is Abolitionist

    So it's this approach.....how noble
  9. MarginOfError

    BoM Is Abolitionist

    I can get that. Fortunately, the movement seems to be making strides there, and we're kind of the bleeding edge of developing the language to talk about it. I've really only noticed anti-racist come into the mainstream vernacular this year. Kendi's book on the matter was published in August of 2019. And he, in particular, is also trying to separate the problem as not being an issue of bad people, but of bad policy. Again, I think you'll find a lot of value in that approach.
  10. MarginOfError

    BoM Is Abolitionist

    Well played. Although I think you're still caught on words, not on message. I've tried to demonstrate that those people that are saying it seriously have more nuance to it than those people saying it sarcastically. Clearly, I've failed to articulate that.
  11. MarginOfError

    BoM Is Abolitionist

    I thought this was a veiled reference to being Romulan. I was way off
  12. MarginOfError

    BoM Is Abolitionist

    "Racism got us into this mess. Anti-racism is the only thing that will get us out of it." Link isn't opening for me. "Functionally, yes. If you’re white (or part of any dominant group tbh), you’ll be more helpful by assuming you are and trying to learn about and fight off these instinctive urges and biases, than by expending time and energy explaining why this can’t be true." "First off, I'll say for something like this you should really defer to non-white people to give a good answer. To give a white person take on it, it's kind of the default state considering we're all brought up with institutions that favor us and white privilege, and the vast, vast majority of us do nothing about it, so at the very least we help perpetuate racism which isn't much better" Since this that link is to a discussion thread, it's hard to pull quotes, but there is a lot of discussion aimed at teasing out systemic/institutional racism and privilege versus overt racism. "Racism is what happens when you back one group's racial bias with legal authority and institutional control. ... When you back one group's collective bias with that kind of power, it is transformed into a far-reaching system. It becomes the default. It's automatic. It's not dependent on your agreement or belief or approval. It's circulating 24/7, 365. Racism is the foundation of the society we are in. And to simply carry on with absolutely no active interruption of that system is to be complicit with it. And in that way, we can say that nice, white people who really aren't doing anything other than being nice people are racist. We are complicit with that system. There is no neutral place." All four of these links drive toward the same concept I described from Kendi of the assimilationist and the anti-racist. This seems to be a case where being stuck on the words prevents one from understanding the message* * Which, in fairness, is a flaw in the message. This is one of the reasons I admire Kendi's work as much as I do; it attempts to change the language in a way that makes it easier to understand the message. I really recommend reading some of his work. In particular, both of these books are in the mainstream right now and quite thought provoking. https://www.amazon.com/Stamped-Beginning-Definitive-History-National/dp/1568585985/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=ibram+kendi&qid=1593799033&sr=8-2 https://www.amazon.com/How-Be-Antiracist-Ibram-Kendi-ebook/dp/B07D2364N5/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=ibram+kendi&qid=1593799033&sr=8-1
  13. MarginOfError

    BoM Is Abolitionist

    It's hard to know where to place me. I rather abhor the sarcastic and/or ironic declaration of "we all know that if you're white, you're automatically a racist" because the only people I've ever heard make such a statement are white people, and it's always done in a way that mocks anti-racist efforts. In reality, I know very few overtly racist white people. However, the majority of white people that I know would be what I've sometimes called unintentionally racist or non-maliciously racist. I include myself in that category. Kendi's current work uses the terms racist, assimilationist, and anti-racist to get at the same idea. An assimilationist may not overtly hate people of other races, but isn't actively engaged in overcoming racism either. And yes, I would classify most whites into that assimilationist category. I guess what I don't like about the whole "we all know that if you're white, you're automatically a racist" mockery is that it, to me, is trying to stake out a position of "I'm not contributing the problem," without acknowledging that you aren't exactly contributing to the solution, either. So no, I don't believe you're a racist because you're white (I don't even know if you are white). At the same times, the thematic consistency of your comments on this forum would lead me to classify you as an assimilationist. Like I said, I fall into that group as well, though I've been trying to move toward anti-racist. I'd welcome your company on that journey.
  14. MarginOfError

    BoM Is Abolitionist

    It seems to me that this level of snark is uncalled for. Consider: You opened a thread titled "BoM is Abolitionist" You started your post with "Critics are so quick to point out the supposedly racist words used in the Book of Mormon" After quoting portions of the Book of Mormon that speak against slavery, you say "People tend to simply gloss over it because of presentism, just as they tend to claim racism based on presentism." You imply the thesis that the Book of Mormon isn't racist because it is abolitionist. For that thesis to hold under scrutiny, racism and abolitionism have to be mutually exclusive. I have no objection to the hypothesis that the Book of Mormon is abolitionist. But that alone won't dispel concerns about racism. Perhaps I've interpreted an implication you didn't intend to make. If so, I would be obliged if you would clarify.
  15. MarginOfError

    BoM Is Abolitionist

    It seems fair to point out that "abolitionist" and "racist" are not mutually exclusive terms.
  16. MarginOfError

    Safely Passing The Sacrament These Days

    Reminds me of one of my favorite news headlines of all time: Severe sleep apnea sufferers more likely to die http://www.nbcnews.com/id/25952469/ns/health-health_care/t/severe-sleep-apnea-sufferers-more-likely-die/#.XvSdSii6PIU
  17. MarginOfError

    Book of Mormon white supremacy??

    This question entirely misses the point. Skin color is irrelevant. Any indication in the scriptures that it is may be attributed to either cultural factors (such as dark being paired with filthy, white is paired with purity), or the flaws of man.
  18. MarginOfError

    Brigham Young statue vandalized

    No. The Soviets definitely used the Titanium (Search, for instance, Alfa Class submarine). They could afford it, since they had control of some of the richest titanium deposits in the world (in Sibera). There may be differences in characteristics between small, sea exploration submarines and large submarines carrying nuclear reactors and warheads.
  19. MarginOfError

    Brigham Young statue vandalized

    I'm pretty sure it isn't just the water, but the mixture of the carbons we deal with. I couldn't tell you the exact chemistry. I'm a math guy, not a chemist. Again, you're in properties that I don't fully understand. My brother served on a boomer and most of what I know I've learned from him.
  20. Posted to wrong place. sorry.

  21. MarginOfError

    Brigham Young statue vandalized

    Fun thing about titanium: We have a super critical water oxidizer (SCWO) reactor at work to treat some toxic byproducts of our primary process. The SCWO sits in a titanium sleeve, and the chemical process reduces the toxic organics into salt water. The process happens inside a titanium sleeve. The process is corrosive enough that we have to replace the 12' long titanium sleeve every 100 hours of operation. Another fun thing about titanium: U.S. Submarines are made from steel. When they descend to their crush depth, the steel compresses and the submarine gets smaller. But upon ascending, the steel expands again into it's original size. U.S. submarines may descend to this crush depth repeatedly. Russian submarines are made from titanium. When the descend to their crush depth, the titanium compresses and the submarine gets smaller. But upon ascending, the titanium does not expand to its original size. Russian submarines may only descend to their crush depth once, and then they can never go that deep again. But the Russian submarine crush depth is much, much deeper than the U.S. submarine crush depth.
  22. MarginOfError

    Brigham Young statue vandalized

    Doesn't this just become an epic game of dodgeball at this point?
  23. MarginOfError

    Book of Mormon white supremacy??

    This seems tone deaf to me. It isn't at all hard for a faithful and well intentioned member of the Church to stumble across some of the verses in the Book of Mormon and generate honest and sincere questions about whether it promotes racial supremacy. You don't have to have ulterior motives for it to happen. And it can be very disturbing to some people when they encounter it. Waving a hand and classifying everyone who sees these issues as having 'ulterior motives' is factually wrong. This is an issue that, like most issues, is best addressed by more information. Furthermore, as demonstrated above, generating the requisite evidence to demonstrate that racial supremacy is rejected by the Book of Mormon required not only a full reading of the Book of Mormon, but cultural context of Israelite custom and religion as well. It's taken me nearly 40 years to come to understand and articulate everything I articulated above. Perhaps we should be a little more charitable when people ask the question and have a real discussion with them* * I'm willing to concede that Queolby may not be one asking in sincerity. But alas, my response was not targeted at him, but at any others who may stumble across it.
  24. MarginOfError

    Brigham Young statue vandalized

    I'm partially in agreement with you. Though I'd prefer to take them down and put them in a museum to be contextualized.
  25. MarginOfError

    Book of Mormon white supremacy??

    When I was teaching Institue, I came across a theory that Mormon was a Lamanite. He identifies as a "descendant of Nephi" in his own writing, but by 300 AD, it wouldn't be unreasonable to have both Lamanite and Nephite heritage. Mormon also features the Anti-Nephi-Lehis, a group of Lamanite converts, very heavily in his abridgement. He also features the people of Limhi, who desired to live among he Nephites, in his abridgement. Whether it is factually correct or not, I don't know. But it was in intriguing thought. And so, when my ward's young men decided to hold a Book of Mormon marathon (they attempted to read the entirety of the Book of Mormon in 24 hours), I decided to participate and that I would try to read and interpret the text from the perspective of Mormon being a Lamanite. I observed something in the process, and will try to explain and quantify it here. In this particular reading, one word started to stand out to me. That word was 'filthy' (and its variants) There are 34 occurrences of 'filth' in the Book of Mormon (via a text search at http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/17/pg17.txt). These can be categorized into 30 uses (some phrases use the term twice, such as in 'he who filthy shall be filthy still' 10 uses by Nephi 1 use by Isaiah 7 uses by Jacob 3 uses by Alma 2 uses by Mormon quoting/paraphrasing Limhi 1 use by Mormon 2 uses by Moroni In six uses, filthy is used to describe the Lamanites. Once by Nephi, three times by Jacob, once by Enos, and once by Mormon The six uses to describe the Lamanites are what interest me the most. I'm going to go ahead and post all of those verses here: From the context of all of these, it's reasonable to conclude that 'filthy' was a pretty heavy hitting term. Perhaps even close to what we might consider a slur. In the context of Nephi's culture (specifically, cultural Jew from Jerusalem), the word 'filthy' could probably be replaced with 'unclean.' Which was also pretty serious. (See also Alma 32:3 for a pejorative use of 'filthy') Now, let's also consider that there is a certain likelihood that the Lamanites joined forces with other indigenous peoples in the area. These people wouldn't have been Israelites, and so would have been seen as outsiders to the Nephites. Israel wasn't exactly what we would call a tolerant society, so it shouldn't surprise us if there was a touch of racism directed toward those outsiders. As a parallel, consider the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans--the Samaritans were cultural Jews who intermingled their religion with some of the pagan religions in the area, and they were heavily despised by the 'pure' Jews for it. Most of the references don't make an explicit tie to skin color. Nephi and Mormon both use the term 'dark', which may have reference to skin color. In all honesty, it probably does. It's the references by Enos and Jacob that are really informative though. Enos gives a description of the Lamanites that is broad and perhaps promotes a stereotype of the Lamanites. It's a caricature, and I'm inclined to take it with a grain of salt. In fairness, Nephi was barely old enough to be Enos' grandfather, so the wounds and intercultural strifes between the Nephites and the Lamanites at this point in time are pretty raw still. If you add in unfamiliar cultures from any of the indigenous peoples the Lamanites may have joined, the stereotyping hypothesis becomes a little more plausible. Jacob is the really interesting speaker in all of this, though. He actually goes to great length to separate 'filthiness' from 'skin'. This is important--in one respect, this strengthens the hypothesis that 'filthy' was a type of slur. More importantly, Jacob makes it explicit that 'filthiness' is a spiritual condition, and goes so far as to state that Nephites are the filthier race because their wickedness is greater than that of the Lamanites. In other words, Jacob explicitly rejects the link between skin color and supremacy. Ultimately, the conclusion I've come to at this phase of my study is that there did exist a certain amount of racism and classism among the Nephites against the Lamanites. Mormon himself seemed to harbor some of these biases. In 3 Nephi 2:15-16, he describes converted Lamanites as having their skin become "white like unto the Nephites" and that their sons and daughters became "exceedingly fair." Given Mormon's general reticence to use 'filthy' to describe anything other than a spiritual condition, I'm inclined to believe that he is describing their physical attractiveness. In other words, the Nephite culture and those of Mormon's culture seem to have determined lighter skin to be the standard of beauty. The question that follows that conclusion is "how could prophets of God harbor those biases?" Well, they were still human, and still suffered from the imperfections of man. Moroni explicitly states this. And so if we read the right bits and pieces, it isn't difficult to paint a picture for "white supremacy in the Book of Mormon." However, if you read the broader teachings contained in that scripture, it becomes clear that filthiness--as used by the Book of Mormon authors--is strictly a spiritual condition that is not tied to skin color. Jacob makes that point inarguable. I recommend we follow Moroni's plea. Let us learn to be more wise than they have been and reject racial supremacy. Instead, let's recognize the beautiful truths of the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and all other scripture that teach that all men are children of God and that he desires all of them to return to his presence.