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 Post subject: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 6:48 pm 
2nd Quorum of Seventy

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Apparently, and mysteriously, the fax of the second Watson letter has now been found according to a Greg Smith at the Mad board. Some poster "Dan" seems to have gotten under everyones skin by asking logical questions. Peterson had just, a few days ago, given the history of how the letter was permanently lost some 15 yrs ago?

Don't know if this is just bs but it seems to have been found in the files of Sorenson. If this is not BS, it is quite interesting as to the timing and pressure these questions have generated. I can't link to the thread but it is one started by a Dangb.

Oh the irony!

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 7:02 pm 
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Who was Watson and why is this letter important. I guess there was a first letter. Briefly, what was that about?

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 7:17 pm 
Greg Smith's post.

Quote:
On the second Watson letter:

I have a contact at the FARMS office, who located a copy of the letter from John Sorenson's files (their offices moved fairly recently, and that's how it got mislaid). It is still on the original fax paper from the First Presidency's office, and it has a note on it discussing a bit more about the provenance.

My contact is snail-mailing me the copy, and I have permission to post it to the FAIR wiki when it arrives. It was mailed today; it will probably be up by early next week depending on the vagaries of the US and Canadian postal services.

The text is reportedly as printed in the FARMS Review article by Hamblin. It is also made clear by an annotation on the fax that the First Presidency wished to clarify the impression left by Bro. (now Elder) Watson's first letter.

But, doubters can soon see the text for themselves, it seems.

I will try to remember to post an announcement in this thread when it is up. I expect the FAIR blog or newsletter will also contain a mention.

Best,

Greg Smith
FAIR wiki managing editor


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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:03 pm 
B.H. Roberts Chair of Mopologetic Studies
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Wow. If I had seen this, I would have definitely considered putting it in my Top Ten list. This is very important, I think. I was stunned to learn from Scott Lloyd that the Brethren were actually consulted on this. I had previously been under the impression that Mopologetic doctrine on the matter was that the letter(s) were strictly the opinion of Bro. Watson. But, if Greg Smith's letter turns out to be legit, then it would seem that this is confirmation from the Brethren themselves that they side with the apologists on this issue.

All that said, I am far more interested in seeing the letter that Prof. Hamblin mailed (or faxed?) to Brother Watson. The fact that the letter is in the form of a fax means that there should be a copy. At base, I am far more interested in seeing just what, exactly, Bill Hamblin said to get the General Authorities to revise hundreds of years of Church doctrine.

In any event, I'll be looking forward to next week!

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:21 pm 
Has More Degrees Than Droopy
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Doctor Scratch wrote:
Wow. If I had seen this, I would have definitely considered putting it in my Top Ten list. This is very important, I think. I was stunned to learn from Scott Lloyd that the Brethren were actually consulted on this. I had previously been under the impression that Mopologetic doctrine on the matter was that the letter(s) were strictly the opinion of Bro. Watson. But, if Greg Smith's letter turns out to be legit, then it would seem that this is confirmation from the Brethren themselves that they side with the apologists on this issue.

All that said, I am far more interested in seeing the letter that Prof. Hamblin mailed (or faxed?) to Brother Watson. The fact that the letter is in the form of a fax means that there should be a copy. At base, I am far more interested in seeing just what, exactly, Bill Hamblin said to get the General Authorities to revise hundreds of years of Church doctrine.

In any event, I'll be looking forward to next week!


I submit a nomination for "Honorable mention". :)

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:48 pm 
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Oh it seems that it only gets better. There is a poster there who made the most intelligent and common sense suggesting f having all the parties to the second Watson letter merely show up on the board to discuss! Hadn't thought about that, but what a great idea for accountability and record. Now, his own fellow members are trying to get him banned from the board! You gotta the Mormon faithfull!

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:22 am 
God

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For those of us who don't keep up on a lot of goings on with this stuff, what is The Watson Letter? I don't remember it being in the Priesthood and Sunday School manuals...

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:32 am 
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For those who, for whatever reason -- laziness, intellectual neglect, intransigence, invincible ignorance, whatever -- are unfamiliar with the story of the Watson Letter(s), FAIR has a bare bones write-up of the contoversy:

http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon_geography:Statements:First_Presidency_Letter#Initial_letter

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:56 am 
God
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Hello Everyone,

The backpeddling by apologists on this matter would make Mr. Usain Bolt a little more than envious! Oh my! I must feel a little frisky this good morn' as I take a break from my speaking engagements here in the Middle East. That being said, I would hope the Powers that Be did not consult Mr. Rather when producing this "2nd Watson Letter". Please pardon my humor, this second cup of turkish coffee really does enliven one's consitution.

As a review is merited...

1) A goodly member of the Mormon church enquired from the First Presidency about the location of the Hill Cumorah.

2) The First Presidency, responding on official letterhead, said through their secretary:

Dear Bishop Brooks:

I have been asked to forward to you for acknowledgment and handling the enclosed copy of a letter to President Gordon B. Hinckley from Ronnie Sparks of your ward. Brother Sparks inquired about the location of the Hill Cumorah mentioned in the Book of Mormon, where the last battle between the Nephites and Lamanites took place.

The Church has long maintained, as attested to by references in the writings of General Authorities, that the Hill Cumorah in western New York state is the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon.

The Brethren ... asked that you convey to Brother Sparks their commendation for his gospel study.

Sincerely yours, (signed) F. Michael Watson Secretary to the First Presidency

3) Apologists insist the response was the sole action and opinion by said secretary.

4) Repeated requests by skeptics to said apologists to produce a written copy of the 1993 letter where said secretary says the initial letter was his opinion and his alone, and that he was not conveying a response by the First Presidency has been met with claims the letter was lost..

5) Now a claim has been made by a poster on the Mormon Apologetics and Discussion board that the "2nd Watson Letter" has been found.

Very Respectfully,

Doctor CamNC4Me

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 10:27 am 
God

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Doctor CamNC4Me wrote:
Hello Everyone,

The backpeddling by apologists on this matter would make Mr. Usain Bolt a little more than envious! Oh my! I must feel a little frisky this good morn' as I take a break from my speaking engagements here in the Middle East. That being said, I would hope the Powers that Be did not consult Mr. Rather when producing this "2nd Watson Letter". Please pardon my humor, this second cup of turkish coffee really does enliven one's consitution.

As a review is merited...

1) A goodly member of the Mormon church enquired from the First Presidency about the location of the Hill Cumorah.

2) The First Presidency, responding on official letterhead, said through their secretary:

Dear Bishop Brooks:

I have been asked to forward to you for acknowledgment and handling the enclosed copy of a letter to President Gordon B. Hinckley from Ronnie Sparks of your ward. Brother Sparks inquired about the location of the Hill Cumorah mentioned in the Book of Mormon, where the last battle between the Nephites and Lamanites took place.

The Church has long maintained, as attested to by references in the writings of General Authorities, that the Hill Cumorah in western New York state is the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon.

The Brethren ... asked that you convey to Brother Sparks their commendation for his gospel study.

Sincerely yours, (signed) F. Michael Watson Secretary to the First Presidency

3) Apologists insist the response was the sole action and opinion by said secretary.

4) Repeated requests by skeptics to said apologists to produce a written copy of the 1993 letter where said secretary says the initial letter was his opinion and his alone, and that he was not conveying a response by the First Presidency has been met with claims the letter was lost..

5) Now a claim has been made by a poster on the Mormon Apologetics and Discussion board that the "2nd Watson Letter" has been found.

Very Respectfully,

Doctor CamNC4Me


Well... that seems credible. Satisfyingly credible, in my opinion. Very credible. Almost, one might say... in-credible. Really.

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 4:12 pm 
B.H. Roberts Chair of Mopologetic Studies
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Greg Smith has posted an update:

greg smith wrote:
To answer a few of the questions in bulk:

* as I understand it, Hamblin's letter did not provoke the response being written. From what I was told, some anti-Mormons were making great hay out of the letter somewhere, some local leader wrote Salt Lake City to ask if this letter was indeed church doctrine (him having never heard this), and Watson indicated that the First Presidency wished to clarify his original letter. So, I _think_ Hamblin just received a copy of a letter that had already been sent.

* no, I do not have a copy of the Hamblin query letter; as I said, I don't think it impacted the letter's text since that had been written in response to a different issue.

* Sorenson was at FARMS (now the Maxwell Institute). Copies were made of the letter to Hamblin and circulated among a few FARMS folk when it came over the wire. Sorenson's interest in Book of Mormon geography made him something who obviously would have an interest in such things. Sorenson just handed his files over en masse when the MI moved to different digs on BYU, and they hadn't been sorted through until recently, upon which the letter turned up.

* Sorenson was one of the first serious treatments of Book of Mormon geo based on the text. If you haven't read him (start with Mormon's Map, then Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon) then you are about 30 years behind the times in LDS apologetics and scholarly discussion about such matters. Much of his work is available at the MI site (http://mi.BYU.edu).

Don't hold me to all this until I see the letter, but I'm about 95% sure I have the story straight.

GLS


I was going to wait until he posted the letter to FAIR, but I cannot help but weigh in on this. Given what he's said here---and notwithstanding his final "Don't hold me to all this" caveat---this is a powderkeg. For starters, this is the first time I think any of us has heard the story that the letter just sort of "appeared" in response to anti-Mormon criticism. In fact, I seem to recall being told repeatedly by the apologists that the Brethren/FP are virtually oblivious to what the antis are up to. (DCP has said something to that effect many, many times.) Secondly, I am fairly certain that Prof. Peterson has always maintained that Hamblin's copy was the *only* one in existence. I don't know how this will play out, but as of right now, the apologists don't have their stories straight.

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 7:29 pm 
2nd Quorum of Seventy

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There is some serious BS and/or lying going on here. I spent weeks in debate with both Peterson and Hamblin back in 2005 at the Fair board on this issue. They both said the the letter was sent to Hamblin at his request.

I think this Greg Smith is just digging a whole for someone here! Can't wait to see the good doctor get involved in this one again!!!

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 7:33 pm 
God

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Joey wrote:
There is some serious BS and/or lying going on here. I spent weeks in debate with both Peterson and Hamblin back in 2005 at the Fair board on this issue. They both said the the letter was sent to Hamblin at his request.

I think this Greg Smith is just digging a whole for someone here! Can't wait to see the good doctor get involved in this one again!!!


Maybe he's a Have Backhoe, Will Travel kinda guy?

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 7:52 pm 
God

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"For those who, for whatever reason -- laziness, intellectual neglect, intransigence, invincible ignorance, whatever"

Are you sure you aren't an active Mormon? With a response like this I would expect you to be a Stake High Counselor in our Stake... or somewhere in Utah.

Some of us work. The controversies that you look at are not generally discussed or even known to many in the wards and stakes as they just... are... not... taught. FAIR and FARMS aren't mentioned at all in our ward classes and meetings. I asked ten members picked at random after a meeting last evening what FAIR and FARMS were. None had an answer that referred to Church stuff at all.

Many who don't visit pages such as this know little of controversy. They are as I and others have been for some time, wondering about things that don't add up but looking in 'official' church publications and histories to try and find answers. It is only lately that I found this and some other sites. Still can't tell real ones from parody without a lot of looking and asking. Living in a town where a visit to the Public Library and asking for or checking out certain LDS/Anti or pro books somehow gets noticed by Bishops and Stake officers makes for repression.

Spending much time with work pursuits takes the bulk of my time and being a clerk takes the bulk of Church time. Asking questions in meetings causes problems. This especially if they are actually questions instead of parroting the lesson and its pre-planned canned questions.

So, I do visit here since discovering it. Discussion of topics I have questions on is interesting. It has seemed to be better than Google searches with 1-4 million pages to visit for information. Maybe that is a mistake and asking and reading here a waste of time?

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:14 pm 
God
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Doctor Scratch wrote:
Greg Smith has posted an update:

greg smith wrote:
To answer a few of the questions in bulk:

* as I understand it, Hamblin's letter did not provoke the response being written. From what I was told, some anti-Mormons were making great hay out of the letter somewhere, some local leader wrote Salt Lake City to ask if this letter was indeed church doctrine (him having never heard this), and Watson indicated that the First Presidency wished to clarify his original letter. So, I _think_ Hamblin just received a copy of a letter that had already been sent.

* no, I do not have a copy of the Hamblin query letter; as I said, I don't think it impacted the letter's text since that had been written in response to a different issue.

* Sorenson was at FARMS (now the Maxwell Institute). Copies were made of the letter to Hamblin and circulated among a few FARMS folk when it came over the wire. Sorenson's interest in Book of Mormon geography made him something who obviously would have an interest in such things. Sorenson just handed his files over en masse when the MI moved to different digs on BYU, and they hadn't been sorted through until recently, upon which the letter turned up.

* Sorenson was one of the first serious treatments of Book of Mormon geo based on the text. If you haven't read him (start with Mormon's Map, then Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon) then you are about 30 years behind the times in LDS apologetics and scholarly discussion about such matters. Much of his work is available at the MI site (http://mi.BYU.edu).

Don't hold me to all this until I see the letter, but I'm about 95% sure I have the story straight.

GLS


I was going to wait until he posted the letter to FAIR, but I cannot help but weigh in on this. Given what he's said here---and notwithstanding his final "Don't hold me to all this" caveat---this is a powderkeg. For starters, this is the first time I think any of us has heard the story that the letter just sort of "appeared" in response to anti-Mormon criticism. In fact, I seem to recall being told repeatedly by the apologists that the Brethren/FP are virtually oblivious to what the antis are up to. (DCP has said something to that effect many, many times.) Secondly, I am fairly certain that Prof. Peterson has always maintained that Hamblin's copy was the *only* one in existence. I don't know how this will play out, but as of right now, the apologists don't have their stories straight.

Am I missing something here? The para I bolded suggests to me that Sorensen:
- never heard of the controversy over the 2nd letter, or
- he had heard, but didn't think that the letter could possibly be in the files that he handed over
and so didn't get involved in the argument/didn't think that he had anything significant to add to the discussion
Or is it just that I missed the part where Sorensen said that he had had the 2nd letter and could no longer find it?

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:23 pm 
God

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zzyzx wrote:
Maybe that is a mistake and asking and reading here a waste of time?


NEVER! (Shades! Where's my grinning smilie?)

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:12 pm 
Joey wrote:
I think this Greg Smith is just digging a whole for someone here! Can't wait to see the good doctor get involved in this one again!!!


If you'll excuse my French, Greg Smith is an asshole apologist. DCP loves to build up his credentials (and everyone else's in favour of him and his Three Stooges verson of Book of Mormon "historicity"). Smith is what I would call the epitome of apologetic flatulence. All foul smell and no substance.


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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:18 pm 
Don't be surprised if this "copy" is totally manufactured. Nothing is beyond them.


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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:31 pm 
God

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Ray A wrote:
Don't be surprised if this "copy" is totally manufactured. Nothing is beyond them.


It's a possibility. And not beyond historical precedent.

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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 12:50 am 
The first Watson letter:

Quote:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Office of the First Presidency Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

October 16, 1990

Bishop Darrel L. Brooks Moore Ward Oklahoma City Oklahoma South Stake 1000 Windemere Moore, OK 73160

Dear Bishop Brooks:

I have been asked to forward to you for acknowledgment and handling the enclosed copy of a letter to President Gordon B. Hinckley from Ronnie Sparks of your ward. Brother Sparks inquired about the location of the Hill Cumorah mentioned in the Book of Mormon, where the last battle between the Nephites and Lamanites took place.

The Church has long maintained, as attested to by references in the writings of General Authorities, that the Hill Cumorah in western New York state is the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon.

The Brethren appreciate your assistance in responding to this inquiry, and asked that you convey to Brother Sparks their commendation for his gospel study.

Sincerely yours, (signed) F. Michael Watson Secretary to the First Presidency


According to FAIR:

Quote:
Bro. Watson seems to have been speaking on his own understanding of the matter, and not as an official declaration of Church policy. In 1993, he sent a clarification letter:

The Church emphasizes the doctrinal and historical value of the Book of Mormon, not its geography. While some Latter-day Saints have looked for possible locations and explanations [for Book of Mormon geography] because the New York Hill Cumorah does not readily fit the Book of Mormon description of Cumorah, there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site.


I have highlighted the discrepancy for those who may not understand the problem.

According to FAIR, Watson was speaking "on his own understanding of the matter".

But something is obvious, namely:

Watson, in the original letter, even if he was speaking "on his own understanding", reflected the views of numerous past presidents of the Church, and particularly Joseph Fielding Smith, who uncategorically denounced "modern theories" of Book of Mormon geography, "contrary to the revelations and the teachings of prophets".

The Golden Question: Why did the second Watson letter contradict the first? Was he (Watson) under pressure, and from who? The First Presidency? Or FARMS? (Via a Hamblin or Peterson letter?)

What brought about this "official" change of opinion from the Secretary to the FP, in a letter we are yet to see?

Even if the letter is produced, the question still remains - does FARMS have enormous sway with First Presidency opinion on Book of Mormon geography?

Was there indeed a "change of opinion"? Or did Hamblin rephrase what the second letter contained (if it existed)?


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 Post subject: Re: 2nd Watson Letter just found!'
PostPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 3:16 am 
zzyzx wrote:
"For those who, for whatever reason -- laziness, intellectual neglect, intransigence, invincible ignorance, whatever"

Are you sure you aren't an active Mormon? With a response like this I would expect you to be a Stake High Counselor in our Stake... or somewhere in Utah.

Some of us work. The controversies that you look at are not generally discussed or even known to many in the wards and stakes as they just... are... not... taught. FAIR and FARMS aren't mentioned at all in our ward classes and meetings. I asked ten members picked at random after a meeting last evening what FAIR and FARMS were. None had an answer that referred to Church stuff at all.

Many who don't visit pages such as this know little of controversy. They are as I and others have been for some time, wondering about things that don't add up but looking in 'official' church publications and histories to try and find answers. It is only lately that I found this and some other sites. Still can't tell real ones from parody without a lot of looking and asking. Living in a town where a visit to the Public Library and asking for or checking out certain LDS/Anti or pro books somehow gets noticed by Bishops and Stake officers makes for repression.

Spending much time with work pursuits takes the bulk of my time and being a clerk takes the bulk of Church time. Asking questions in meetings causes problems. This especially if they are actually questions instead of parroting the lesson and its pre-planned canned questions.

So, I do visit here since discovering it. Discussion of topics I have questions on is interesting. It has seemed to be better than Google searches with 1-4 million pages to visit for information. Maybe that is a mistake and asking and reading here a waste of time?


Hang on! you may have missed the satirical ref to Scott Lloyds last essay:
Scott Lloyd wrote:

On the other hand, we have Mormons who, for whatever reason -- laziness, intellectual neglect, intransigence, invincible ignorance, whatever -- cling to folk doctrine as though it were scripture. I shall call them folk Mormons.


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