Episode 116: Pure Mormonism

John Larsen is joined by Zilpha and Cody to discuss Rock Waterman’s views on “Pure Mormonism”.

Pure Mormonism

Episode 116

67 comments on “Episode 116: Pure Mormonism”

  1. JackUK Reply

    Rock’s blog has been on my favourites list for a long time now. I’m looking forward to hearing this one…

  2. Rock Waterman Reply

    I now remember the that quote from Paul Toscano that had slipped my mind! Here it is:

    “Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, in a BYU assembly, told thousands of students not to worship Jesus Christ, or even seek a personal relationship with him. The rest of the apostles did not publicly denounce this heresy because they were more concerned with avoiding embarrassment and appearing united than with proclaiming Jesus as Lord.”

    In a few days, when I can get to it, I’ll provide a few more additions and clarifications over at my blog, so I hope those who have listened to this podcast will check in soon at http://PureMormonism.blogspot.com

    Thanks for listening!

    Rock

  3. The Seagull Has Landed Reply

    Hi Rock: I really enjoy your blog. But is Elder McConkie’s instruction really heresy? The talk (“Our Relationship With the Lord”, 1982) is still available in several formats at the BYU Speeches website (www.speeches.byu.edu). Also, a couple of months back there was a poll on the Mormon Apologetics and Discussion board about whether Mormons worship Jesus. As I recall, about 15% said no. I suspect that McConkie’s view isn’t heresy, but really more of a minority position. Either way, this is one of the things that would tend to freak out traditional Christians if they were aware of it.

    • Truth Hurts Reply

      That talk – “Our Relationship With the Lord” – is even more heinous if one realizes what led up to the talk and who McConkie stomped on to give it. McConkie gave that talk in his effort to refute “pure sectarian nonsense,” but have you actually looked into what he was referring to?

      I’d recommend a google search of “George W. Pace”. He, likewise, gave a devotional at BYU, and I might recommend cross referencing those two talks.

      Here is the link to Pace’s talk: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1135&tid=7

      And, to give you a head start on researching Pace, I’d start with reading his son’s description of the event and how it was felt by them, personally: http://www.sethpayne.com/?p=409

      It’s not only that McConkie told them to give up their idea of a “personal relationship” with the Savior (in favor of a “reverential barrier” – McConkie’s own words), it’s that he did so in strikingly dogmatic ways. Anyone disagreeing with McConkie’s talk was told, in no uncertain terms, that they (1) won’t “inherit eternal life,” (2) are rejecting the expounded “doctrine of the Church,” (3) do not “understand the scriptures,” (4) are not “in tune with the Holy Spirit,” (5) are spiritually unsound, (6) do not have “the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” (7) do not have a “sound understanding of the doctrines,” (8) have rejected the “mainstream of the church,” and (9) need to “repent and believe the accepted verities as [Bruce R. McConkie] set them forth.

      Not only did no one come out to repudiate any of his comments, but no one would publically support Pace and what happened. The guy was released from the devotional “circuit” and as a stake president in a matter of days, all because McConkie had issues with the way Pace felt about Christ. And, not only that, but McConkie likewise failed to discuss those issues privately with Pace…instead chose the venue of the Marriott Center and some 20000 students.

      As one of my friends stated, who happened to be there that night:

      “I was in the meeting you refer to above, in fact I was sitting on the stage with my father in seats reserved for BYU faculty and church leaders (my father was both) and a few seats down from us was Bro. Pace, a close personal friend of my father’s. After the address and while walking home with my father, he said, “I can’t understand why Elder McConkie didn’t tell George (Bro. Pace) what he was going to do, didn’t give him some forewarning. He should have forewarned him.” He said this because Bro. Pace, all during the actual address and after, had been or appeared to be in a state of shock, as you can well imagine. There were 20,000 people, at least, in the audience.

      I couldn’t then and I can’t now understand what it was about Bro. Pace’s book that bothered Elder McConkie so (and I don’t think my father could either). At the time Bro. Pace was a very popular religion teacher, fireside speaker and also BYU stake president, a position he was promptly released from in the days that followed. Sadly, in addition to other fallout, one of Bro. Pace’s sons who was serving a mission at the time and heard about the talk, this son was so disturbed by the whole affair…well I think it has something, maybe a lot, to do with his being out of the church today.”

      • Rock Waterman Reply

        I think you hit on the reason for McConkie’s petulance when you report that George Pace was a very popular religion teacher. Though he had created for himself a reputation as the pre-eminent authority on Mormon doctrine, McConkie was personally an unlikeable man. As witness his attempt to undermine the influence of another popular teacher, Eugene England, McConkie could not abide the favorable attention these men received when he couldn’t garner that kind of adulation. So he did the only thing he knew how to do: he used his office and position to to ruin them. McConkie had an ego as fat as his book.

        • calimom Reply

          I’m pretty excited to listen to this tonight – so much for getting to bed early! I highly recommend Rock’s blog – its one of my all-times favorites too!

          P.S. We miss you Truth Hurts!!! (I’m assuming you are the Truth Hurts who used to write another blog I really loved, that has since disappeared 🙂

        • Brian Reply

          One of the first things I want to do in the afterlife (after I see exactly what OJ really did) is to kick McConkie in the shin. That’s not where I want to kick him, but he’s too tall, so I will settle for the shin.

      • Truth Hurts Reply

        P.S. Perhaps the greatest of ironies of that McConkie talk is how a discourse that purports to be the only “true” doctrine on developing (or not) a “personal relationship with the Savior” somehow served as a backdrop to a real life beat down and humiliation to someone.

    • Seth Leigh Reply

      In my TBM days I would have agreed that Mormons do not “worship” Jesus. I would have said that Mormons worship Elohim, the Father, *through* Jesus, whatever that means. Recall that in the pre-existence, Jesus is said to have stated that he would do what he did, and all the glory would be the Father’s, and that it was Satan, as part of his plan, who wanted to keep the glory for himself.

      With all the glory belonging to the Father, it’s pretty easy to see why McConkie would claim that we do not “worship” Jesus. If by “worship” you mean acknowledgment of glory. If you mean something else by “worship”, such as mention of praise, then by that definition Mormons would in fact “worship” Jesus every time they praised him for the role he played.

      It’s all word games, really. It’s kind of sad that a nice guy like George Pace would get the smackdown from a guy like McConkie over a word game like this. It’s worse than sad, though – it’s downright silly.

      When I was a TBM I was not familiar with the unpleasant part of McConkie. To the extent I knew much about him at all, it was his reputation in the church as a scriptorian and “authority” on LDS theology. I really ate up his speeches and statements and pronouncements. His “7 Deadly Heresies” is a talk I had on tape on my mission, and I listened to it probably hundreds of times. Oh how times change.

      I’m really thankful that I no longer feel it necessary to believe what a guy says, and work it into my very understanding of how the universe works, just because of a title, or a claim to a grant of knowledge and “authority” from the Creator of the Entire Universe that it was not my right to dispute or question, or even understand.

  4. Buffalo Reply

    Pure Mormonism is probably the most interesting Mo-Blog I’ve ever read. Personally I think his swallowing of the idea that “Joseph fought polygamy” is pure wishful thinking, but still, he has some fascinating ideas.

    • Rock Waterman Reply

      Thanks for the nice compliment, Buffalo. For the record, I haven’t swallowed the idea of Joseph Smith fighting polygamy (I mention in the podcast that I’m not married to the theory). But until someone will address the inconsistencies and offer some real evidence, I remain agnostic on the subject.

      One thing is clear, while growing up in the church I NEVER heard anything of Smith’s constant and vigorous opposition to the practice in Nauvoo. Nor did I know about how his journals were changed under the direction of Brigham Young before his words were published in the DHC. I think that’s pretty shady, to doctor a dead man’s journals in order to bring them into conformity with the current dogma.

      • Jay Bryner Reply

        I would be interested in a podcast on this subject alone. I found myself wanting more of a debate / open forum on this subject, and wishing the conversation would have tarried on this subject.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Tons of interesting stuff on there — especially his smackdown on Corporate Mormonism. But I’m with you — he lost me on the “Joe didn’t go poly.” But, whatever — to each his own.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Tons of interesting stuff on there — especially his smackdown on Corporate Mormonism. But I’m with you — he lost me on the “Joe didn’t go poly.” But, whatever — to each his own.

  5. Eric Reply

    I’m not really sure what Rock is even talking about. It’s not religious, it’s not secular. It sounds like something I’d hear on George Noory’s Coast to Coast show at 2am.

    • Rock Waterman Reply

      You’re right, Eric, it’s not religious. Religion is usually manifest as a set of rules which demand obedience from the acolytes. Theology, on the other hand, is the study of the attributes of God. It sounds foreign to you because “pure” LDS theology is never discussed in today’s LDS Churches.

  6. Buffalo Reply

    The idea of elements having intelligences is interesting – humans have always tried to anthropomorphize things from animals to inanimate objects to abstract ideas. I guess that’s just a part of evolving a consciousness. Because we are capable of reasoning and thought and discussion we ascribe those characteristics to bear and buffalo and trees and stars and fate. Oh, and gods too.

    • Seth Leigh Reply

      There’s more to this than you might know. I only eventually got a minor in it, but I started at BYU studying physics, and when you get to quantum theory, if you’re a thoughtful, believing Mormon, it’s very possible to make up some very, very interesting “explanations” for things. Believe me, I did it too. The fact that a particle of some sort can do one thing, or another thing, and both are allowed, and all we get at the macro level is some sort of probability that the particle will do one or the other, it’s extremly easy to view this as a sort of “free agency” thing, where everything in the universe, down to the tiniest particle, is given its own agency within a particular sphere of existence. It’s easy to come up with doctrines such as that the universe obeys God not because he has magic power of the elements, but because the elements themselves have their agency, and “choose” to obey God. Rock pretty much revealed his own version of this cosmology during the podcast, and it’s one that was very familiar to me, having thought along much the same lines while I was studying physics.

      This is a perfect example of what I mentioned in a comment further up the page. The smarter and cleverer the human being, the smarter and cleverer the made-up BS becomes when a bad epistemology and worldview is used as the basis for the answers to the complexity that smart person perceives in the universe and in human life. That’s why Rock ascribes choice and agency to the elements, while Nightlion sees faces in Mt. Olympus.

      • Rock Waterman Reply

        I think what we’re talking about here is not physics, but quantum physics, which is concerned with why and how matter sometimes doesn’t obey the laws of physics. It’s given a good treatment in the documentary films “What The Bleep Do We Know” and “Down The Rabbit Hole,” both available in full on Youtube.

        As for elements possessing intelligence, I would refer you to Skousen’s famous talk in which he cites dozens of scripture references that, when the pieces of the puzzle are put together, make a pretty complete picture of how that happens to be. That talk is also available on Youtube here:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqwlIP6-6gE

        Of course, conclusions arrived at through the Book of Mormon will only be of use to believing Mormons, which is why the above two documentaries might prove useful to anyone caring to go down that freaky rabbit hole.

        I also found interesting this short animation which tells how scientists found matter defying the laws of physics and acting out of character, but when equipment was set up to measure and observe this anomaly, the elements did not cooperate, going back to behaving the way matter should. “The electron ‘decided’ to act differently as if it was aware it was being watched.”

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpSqrb3VK3c&feature=fvst

        • Randy Snyder Reply

          Wow, Rock. I really was going to give a glowing review of this podcast. In reality, you and I would get along just fine because you have good natural instincts when it comes to morality. In fact. you would make a fantastic humanist. Your values are right along the same lines.

          Where you lose me is your fatuous world view in regards to metaphysics. I mean, you cite “What the Bleep Do We Know” and Cleon Skousen as your inspirations for the view of reality you ascribe to. Seriously???? These are crackpots and have absolutely no validity in the scientific world. You also claim that quantum physics somehow exists outside the realm of physics. Just because we don’t understand all that we have observed in quantum physics and how we can reconcile it with relativity doesn’t mean people are now open to posit any ridiculous bullsh** to fill in the gaps. That is as blatant an argument from ignorance as there is.

          Again, I didn’t want to come as strong as I just did because the reality is, beyond the theology that you ascribe to, we would really get along swimmingly with most moral issues and I really enjoyed listening to your podcast. But to cite “What the Bleep Do We Know” really betrays a lack of overall understanding of what quality epistemology and empiricism is.

          • Rock Waterman

            Randy, you seem to assume that quantum physics is a discipline that has discovered all the answers. That’s not the way I see it. It’s not empirical at all. It can’t be. It deals with things we just can’t understand.

            Like astronomy, all these guys can do is say, “this shouldn’t be happening like this, but it seems to be, and we don’t really know why.” Astronomy in particular is a science that has to just come up with unlikely theories for how the universe works, because behavior is noted, but rational, physical explanations cannot account for those behaviors. Black holes, String Theory, cosmic dust, all attest to how much we don’t really understand about the universe.

            As for Skousen’s talk, I would advise going through it and following the scriptural clues, rather than dismissing the messenger. He is not advancing his opinion, he is outlining his journey as suggested by John Widstoe. Again, when you gather up little bits of hints from the scriptures, the puzzle begins to form a more coherent picture. Remember, Skousen’s original concern was why would Jesus have to die? How does that help anything? The journey of clues along the way is what I found fascinating. I realized that much of the hidden gems in the scriptures had been going right past me.

            .

          • Seth Leigh

            Here’s the thing, Rock. You’re simply misunderstanding the level of understanding and comprehension that scientists have of quantum physics. Most of the stuff you’re talking about is actually quite well understood.

            Let me expand on this a little, if it will help. The mathematics of quantum physics are fairly well established and understood. It is not this great big woo-woo mystery that you seem to believe it is. There *is* something hard to grasp and to understand about quantum physics, but it’s not the physics itself, or the mathematical models of the behavior and nature of atoms and their constituents. No, what is hard for humans to grasp is an intuitive understanding of how these things relate to things we understand from our own experience.

            Let me give some examples. Kids taking physics or chemistry in high school will typically learn that electrons “orbit” the nucleus of the atom like planets in our solar system orbit the sun. This makes sense on an intuitive level, because by then we’re used to the idea of bodies orbiting other bodies. We have all looked at an orrery before – a mechanical devise that will show a ball representing the sun being orbited by a bunch of other balls representing the planets. An orbit like this can be seen, touched, felt, and understood by us, because the planets more or less behave like other objects we’re used to experiencing at our macroscopic level.

            Well, here’s the deal. Electrons don’t “orbit” the nucleus of an atom at all, in any way that resembles the planets orbiting the sun. They do something else entirely. It’s very hard to explain what it is they do because there’s no analogue to it in our life experiences. We can’t make a simple mechanical devise and set it on a table and watch it work, like we can watch an orrery simulating the orbit of the planets. But that doesn’t mean that electron orbitals aren’t understood. On the contrary, they are exceedingly well understood by physicists and chemists (which is really applied physics…). Because the intuitive model just isn’t there, atomic orbitals are described mathematically instead.

            Here’s another example. For the sake of argument, I’m going to make this up, but the principle holds, so let’s go with it. Let’s say I stated to you that we actually exist in not just three dimensions plus time, but we actually exist in 7 dimensions.

            Would that make any sense to you? I will freely admit that it doesn’t make much sense to me. The reason is that my intuition about space only covers three dimensions. I know what a cube or a sphere look like in three dimensions. What does a 7-dimensional object “look like”? Doesn’t it make your head spin just trying to figure out what that would mean? It’s so totally foreign to our experience living in a universe where only three dimensions are made accessible to our sense organs, that we might be tempted to say it’s poorly understood and nobody could say anything firm about it.

            And you’d be totally wrong. The mathematics of operating in 7 dimensions would be easy to anyone trained in math. Mathematically, there’s really nothing mysterious about it at all. The woo-woo noises would all be coming from the man on the street, or perhaps the guys making Youtube videos trying to impress the public with how awesome and mysterious it all was. Meanwhile the actual scientists would be very comfortable working with 7 dimensions mathematically.

            That’s the way in which quantum physics is poorly understood. It’s not poorly understood at the level of physics and mathematics at all. It’s poorly understood by us at the “intuitive” level where we try to make sense of things by making analogies and comparisons between things at the quantum level and things at our macroscopic level where we have all of our life experience – analogies like that an electron is like a marble but smaller, or that an electron orbits a nucleus like the Moon orbits the Earth.

            Here’s on last mind-blower for you. I’m not just throwing this in here gratuitously, but rather I hope these things are helping you gain a better grasp of the problems with trying to understand everything by analogizing it all to things we experience in our lives.

            What does an electron look like? Pretty simple question, right? Well, it’s actually a trick question. It doesn’t really look like anything at all, if what you mean by “look like” is the same thing you mean when you ask what a naked lady looks like. In the case of the woman, photons of light from a source, as mention in a previous comment of mine, propagate through space until they encounter the woman’s bare skin, then interact with it in ways that result in those photons being scattered back into space, some of which eventually interact with tissues in your eyes and nervous system until, in the end, your brain has this subjective experience of the sensation of vision.

            And here’s the problem. An electron doesn’t really have “size” in the sense that a marble has size that we can measure with a ruler. But let’s simplify and fudge a bit and say that an electron really does have size, so we can compare it to the wavelength of visible light. About the smallest visible wavelength of light is 390nm, or 3.90×10^-7 meters. I will now offer up the following quote from a physics professor trying to answer the question of “size” with regard to electrons. http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/phy00/phy00494.htm

            “The ‘size’ of atomic and sub-atomic particles loses its meaning, because these ‘particles’ behave as though they are waves, or wave packets. So ‘size’ becomes kind of ‘squishy’. However, with that caveat, the ‘classical’ radius of a ‘free’ electron is taken to be about 3×10^-15 meters…”

            Ok, so a photon of the shortest wavelength of light we can see as humans, way up in the high blue end of the spectrum, is something like 100 million times longer than the size of an electron. In other words, an electron is so small that you can’t “see” one by bouncing a photon off it and then receiving that photon into our optical tissues, which is the way we typically “see” things as humans. Our very intuition of what “seeing” and “looks like” means is in fact useless in visualizing things at this scale. An electron, by our intuitive understanding of appearance and “looks like”, doesn’t “look like” anything at all!

            But does that mean we don’t understand electrons? Not at all. It just means that we can’t necessarily understand electrons the same way we understand marbles and baseballs and ships and cars and naked women. Rather than think of things at the atomic scale in terms of visuals, color, size, and so forth, physicists think of them mathematically, and in terms of behaviours and so forth.

            Back to religion for a moment here. What does this have to do with anything? Oh yeah, Skousen and Widtsoe and the others. There was a time when I would have eaten that stuff up. As a TBM I would have agreed with every word Skousen said in that talk. In fact I pretty *did* have my own version of that same understanding that he discussed about the nature of things. I too came to “understand” God’s power over the elements as one of obedience of the particles to God’s requests as the exercise of agency on the part of God’s creation. Every single particle of the universe, by this understanding, has some degree of intelligence, and corresponding degrees of agency given to it, to act in its own sphere. Like I said, I totally get this.

            But it’s all just hand-waving exercises. It’s all false analogies, invented by Mormons who knew enough physics to see the opportunity there to insert our intuitive understandings of agency and intelligence into our attempts to understand the universe around us.

            I cannot prove this mathematically, so you can feel free to shrug this all off and drive on with whatever you want to believe, but I’m going to just say there is very little reason to conclude that the particles that make up our universe are in fact governed by intelligences, and that quantum behaviors are explained by these intelligences exercising free agency in the limited spheres of existence in which they find themselves, and that the “miracles” portrayed in the scriptures are explainable by the particles of matter choosing to obey the requests of God, Jesus, or their authorized deputies on Earth, transmuting themselves, for instance, from water to wine as Skousen glibly noted.

            I recognize that the analogies are pleasing to our minds, and attractive on many levels within the context of Mormon theology. But the analogies are every bit as insidious and false as the idea of an electron as a tiny marble.

          • Randy Snyder

            Rock, where in my post could you even remotely conclude that I think quantum physics has it “all figured out”??? I mentioned your critical thinking and understanding of empiricism in that you, like woo woo gurus of the likes of Deepak Chopra, have used the apparent counter-intuitive “weirdness” of quantum physics to justify positing all kinds of very specific and unsupported woo like angels knitting broken bones and your consciousness affecting matter you observe. I mean, are you a fan of The Secret too?

            Seth has already thoroughly addressed the same problems I have with your misuse of quantum theory to bolster your pet theories on “spirituality” so I’ll spare being repetitive. But I think it is quite apparent and overwhelmingly more likely that the historical Jesus was little more than an apocalyptic revolutionary preacher that garnered enough of a following for a legend to grow around his story. Like most legends seeded by some historical figure, the story got better and better over time. So, when a crackpot that I actually despise wants to pontificate on the hidden mysteries of a mythological “atonement,” I have about as much interest in that as listening to Kent Hovind pontificating on how humans were able to interact successfully with dinosaurs or reading a dissertation on unicorn breeding. In other words, there’s better stuff out there to be concerned with.

            I hate getting snarky with you but this quantum consciousness thing really is a pet peeve of mine. The fact of the matter is I really like you and when you talk about things like how we should be engaged with our fellow man or the love and compassion you have, I am right there with you. At any rate, you certainly are an interesting person. But, no need to feel like it’s a shame that some of us ex-Mo’s become atheists. You painted sort of a straw man explanation of how we might choose this path making us sound like rigid black and white thinkers that decide it’s “all false.” That’s absurd. Most atheists I know realize the world is incredibly complex and simply employ a superior epistemology than what we were taught and have chosen the position that the evidence for a personal god is simply not compelling enough to believe in its existence.

          • Rock Waterman

            I certainly didn’t intend to offend you, Randy, and it’s not my desire to convert anyone to my way of thinking. I was expressing my current beliefs and opinions on this podcast, and I think I made it clear that I have no desire to persuade anyone who has chosen to leave the LDS church that they should return. I honestly don’t care what others believe, and I don’t see it as my place to influence them. If I have any kind of “mission” it’s merely to remind my fellow Saints that there was a time when “Mormonism” meant something other than what it has come to mean today.

            I have nothing but respect for those of you who have chosen to follow your own paths, and I certainly don’t think there’s anything black or white about it. People should do what works for them.

            I do know, however, some Post Mormons who are so anxious to wash every thing “Mormon” off themselves that they will, in the example I gave, rid themselves of all emergency food supply simply because that was a recommendation of the Church when they were in it. I do think that’s a shame when something had such a devilish hold on them that they can’t wait to shake off any good or common sensical that was once attached.

            I guess I do think it’s unfortunate that some people throw away a belief in God, but what I mean by that is it’s a shame the Church was such a negative thing for them that as they left they discarded the one constant that I believe is useful and true, Mormon or not. No need to take offense. I have friends who also think it’s a shame that I still believe in a Diety, but I don’t take offense at that. We have different worldviews, but we still respect each other’s beliefs. They don’t try to change me, and I don’t try to change them.

            I apologize for misunderstanding you when I thought you were stating that quantum physics has it all figured out. I clearly misread your point. I do appreciate your compliments, and I’m glad we have a meeting of the minds in some areas.

            I recognize that some of my beliefs and experiences can seem ridiculous to others. I don’t, however, see the value in ridiculing those beliefs and experiences I shared simply because they don’t conform with your own.

          • Randy Snyder

            I don’t ridicule What the Bleep Do We Know “simply because they don’t conform with my own beliefs.” I ridicule it because it is demonstrably an example of poor critical thinking and I think this is an epidemic in America today. We are taught things in our education system but we are not systematically taught how to think. I wasn’t and I completed post graduate training.

            Anytime I see anyone promoting that video and I have a voice to give dissent, I will take that chance every time.

            But the crack about your wife’s experience with her hip fracture was below the belt and poor form and I apologize for that.

          • Rock Waterman

            No offense taken about the hip crack (pun!). And remember, I am not responsible for the contents of the film, nor do I endorse it completely nor base my religion upon it. But I do find it of interest. I understand it’s controversial.

            I do believe in mysterious forces beyond my comprehension, and if memory serves (it’s been some time since I viewed it) What The Bleep Do We Know is all about the mysteries of the universe. I’m not certain they are advancing a point of view or trying to prove anything; just sharing what we do or do not know about the great quantum world below. I think the gist of the thing is that science doesn’t know why some things happen. Anyway, I do believe there’s something to the power of thought. That is, after all, how those of us who believe in prayer assume our prayers are “heard”. I think it’s interesting to speculate about exactly how our thoughts can travel across the universe and into the ear of God. Of course I realize none of this has meaning to unbelievers, but I’m not really addressing the unbeliever. I’m speculating, and sharing the speculations of others, to those who do believe.

        • Seth Leigh Reply

          “I think what we’re talking about here is not physics, but quantum physics, which is concerned with why and how matter sometimes doesn’t obey the laws of physics.”

          No, I’m just talking about physics. Quantum physics isn’t different than physics – it is physics. It’s the physics of really small things, or things at the scale of the smallest units of matter, space, and so forth. I watched the video you linked to, and there are several reasons to bemoan the approach taken. I can see why the author wrote that thing in the way they did – it’s written to be understood by the common man. In doing so, the authors took liberties with the science which, when looked at by pedants and physicists, are really just awful.

          I had this whole, multi-page treatise written out to paste in here to elaborate further on this, but I have decided against it for once, and will simply say that the video claims that the electron is like a small marble in its nature, and that is simply not true at all. An electron isn’t simple either a particle or a wave – analogues to things we experience in our macroscopic world about which we have certain intuitions. It’s really something else, but explaining that is either not possible, or not very understandable, because it’s not like things we observe in our daily lives at all. Physicists don’t even really try describing what an electron really “is” at all nowadays. It’s not really that important. Instead, they describe how it behaves, which can be made sense of in terms of wave functions and other mathematical models.

          The second major criticism of the video is that they anthropomorphize the electron as somehow “knowing” that it’s being observed, with the implication that this is somehow magical or mysterious. They imply that “merely” observing the electron shouldn’t change it at all, which is just completely wrong. You cannot “merely” observe an electron unless you interact with it in some way, just like you can’t “merely” observe a naked woman unless at some point photons propagate through space from some light source, interact at the quantum level with the atoms of her skin, and then fly off into space again, eventually landing on and interacting with, and changing, the tissues that make up your retina, and causing a cascade of other chemical and electrical changes in your body that culminate in your brain cells perceiving the sensation of vision, and in the form of a naked woman.

          In other words, you cannot “merely” observe an electron. To observe it, you must interact with it somehow. And to interact with it imposes constraints on its wave function which result in the change of behavior illustrated in the video.

          In other words, the problem with a video like this is that it leaves a person not trained in physics thinking that they really understand what’s going on, when in fact they’ve been fed an oversimplied, and even deliberately falsified, version of physics in order to induce an “oh, wow!” sense of wonder and awe.

          Where this gets dangerous is when a smart guy like you picks up on this stuff, and then combines it with the speculations of a Cleon Skousen character, and extrapolates from it a whole view of the universe and how it operates which comes to make sense in your mind, but which is still really just a product of your own imagination and creativity.

          Skousen has anthropomorphized atoms in the same kind of way that the video producers did. They “know” and “choose” things, and things can do one thing, or another, based on choice and obedience. Since we human beings “know” and “choose” things, and we have some sort of intuition about what this means, these explanations are very harmonious to our ears. This explanation of matter, intelligence, obedience of particles to God’s will through exercise of choice and agency, etc. is exactly the kind of stuff I believed as a TBM familiar with physics. Trust me when I say I understand where this theology is coming from. I really do. But it’s all just a product of the human mind – a way to make sense of things that accords with the particular theology of Mormonism. But just as an electron isn’t really a little marble being shot out of a cannon at that slit, the “intelligent agency of particles” model you and Skousen (and I back in the day) have understood is really just an attempt to analogize what’s really going on with things we’re already familiar with – in this case with concepts from Mormon theology.

          By the way, as a courtesy I listened to that whole Skousen video too, so I’d know to what you were referring.

          • Seth Leigh

            God damnit, I ended up posting a nearly multi-page wall of text on this stuff anyhow. LOL. Oh well, I yam what I yam.

          • Rock Waterman

            Quoting Seth: “Where this gets dangerous is when a smart guy like you picks up on this stuff…and extrapolates from it a whole view of the universe and how it operates which comes to make sense in your mind.”

            If I’ve given the impression that I understand how the universe works or that any of it makes sense, I have given the wrong impression. I don’t “get” any of it, I’m just aware through my own experience and that of others that things I don’t understand do occur, and the scriptures I believe in indicate that some intelligence or bunches of intelligences are somehow operating outside my ability to discern how. It could be, for all I know, the collective consciousness of mankind.

            Martin Luther King was no quantum physicist, but I believe him when he said, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. It bends towards justice, but here is the thing: it does not bend on its own. It bends because each of us in our own ways put our hand on that arc and we bend it in the direction of justice….”

            The sources I cited are saying in effect “There’s a lot of freaky stuff happening that we don’t understand, but it does seem to be happening.”

            No one that I know of claims to have figured it all out. Did you not notice the title of the film I linked to? It’s called “What the Bleep Do We Know?” The answer the filmmakers offer seems to be: “Not much.”

            I’ve said it before to you, Seth, and I’ll say it again. I don’t know anything, and I don’t claim to.

  7. Hermes Reply

    I really like Rock. He is exactly what I was before I became convinced (as he has not) that Joseph Smith and other early church leaders supplemented interesting and open-ended philosophizing with some sexual deviancy that they would not come clean about. (My respect for them might have remained untarnished if they were honest and open about the reality of celestial marriage; as things stand, I just cannot help seeing them as duplicitous. There is just too much smoke for me not to conclude fire, Rock.)

    I agree that the corporate culture of the church is currently suffocating it. The disparity between Joseph Smith and Thomas Monson as prophets is ridiculous: at some point, everyone is going to realize that our current leaders are nothing like their predecessors (who were also not cut from a single mold, either), and that not all the comparisons have the early guys coming off worse. At least Joseph had the guts to put some real skin in the game, allowing open doctrinal dissent and encouraging people to think for themselves (even as he tried to put one over on their wives and daughters: maybe he was just a more interesting version of Bill Clinton?). I am glad the church leadership has ceased trying to bed all the sisters clandestinely, but I am sorry we have lost the freedom to ask the big questions without feeling obligated to give pat answers (that are often frankly pathetic to anyone who has tried to apply them with any kind of intellectual rigor or charitable introspection: God lets millions starve to death in Africa but can’t brook your wearing more than one pair of earrings? Give me a freakin’ break.).

  8. Goto10 Reply

    An hour was way too little time for this interview. John is usually able to corral the discussion and keep it moving in some sort of a coherent manner, but that seemed impossible with Rock giving answers to questions that had not been answered, and forgetting his point before he could arrive at it because of a tangent. It was like he just wanted to get EVERYTHING out there at once which is, of course, impossible.

    I enjoy exploring Rock’s opinions (in the written word) because they are well-researched, powerful, and sincere. I found it telling that he is such a Paul Toscano fan, who is so earnest and confident in his dissent, that I want to agree with him, no matter how different his opinions are from my own.

    The “Joseph may not have been a polygamist” thing has a ring of denying history to me. I’m not saying he’s wrong. I only learned about polyandry 6 months ago, so I don’t consider myself an expert, and the unanswered questions he brings up deserve scholarly attention at the very least.

    Keep writing, Rock. Your efforts are appreciated.

    • Rock Waterman Reply

      Goto10,
      You seem to have stumbled upon my secret interview strategy: Yammer, stammer, ramble, then cough. Repeat this pattern until the listener wants to scream “Answer the freakin’ question, already!”

      Also, I like to keep the microphone real close to my mouth so it sounds like I’m slurping air.

      • Anonymous Reply

        Don’t short change yourself. You did a great job. One of the better podcasts, imo. You appear to have a great attitude about religion and Mormonism in particular.

  9. Brian Reply

    Favorite conference moment”

    October 2001, Pres Hinckley, “I do not know what the future holds.” As soon as that came out of his mouth, I leaned to my wife (after I quit laughing), and said, “I guess that won’t be the Deseret News headline from conference.”

  10. Jasmes Reply

    That felt like “the Bishop” podcast again, with my reaction to the podcast going from “WTF?” to “wow, he nails is” over and over again.

    Can’t follow Rock on the intelligences theory, seems crazy to me but no more crazy than any other theory in the Mormons-R-Gods school of thought, so to each their own. But the discussions on tithing, war, prophecy, revelation – yes!!

    And polygamy – it’s a double edge sword! It’s damning either way you approach it. But the polygamy issue, if we are to believe that JS was against it (and personally I don’t buy that) still does little to redeem JS in my eyes. Too many other problems from start to finish for the man.

    But I do enjoy Rock’s blog. Always meaty and though provoking.

    Fun podcast.

  11. kia Reply

    Rock was pedal to the metal the whole interview. It was like you were going for top speed at the boneville salt flats. Let John get some questions in there. John, Podcasts are always better when its more a discussion, back and forth.

  12. Seth Leigh Reply

    Rock is obviously a very smart man. Which is why he makes a good poster-child for the dangers of bad thinking. I don’t mean bad as in evil, I mean bad as in “you’re doing it wrong.”

    I’m talking about the concept he mentioned at least a couple times during the podcast, that his spirit really knows pretty much anything and everything, because his spirit is the spirit of a god, if he can only part the veil a little (my words, not his) and gain access to it. He mentioned “tapping into his inner knowing”, and just going with what he knew inwardly.

    This is, plain and simple, bad thinking. It doesn’t take too much looking around to see why. So many people think they inwardly “know” stuff that is totally at odds with what others are inwardly “knowing”. Unless truth really can contradict itself depending on the person perceiving it, we can safely assume that since they can’t all be right, and all these people “knowing” these things are saying things that contradict each other, the most likely explanation is that they’re just making it up in their own heads. The “tapping into their inner knowing” is just the license they write themselves to feel confident in their conclusions for all the wrong reasons.

    Where does Rock think all the New Age, energy-crystal bullshit comes from? Where do all the gurus come from who start up these whacky cults and amass followers? Someone thinks something like this up, it makes sense when judged from the context of their own made-up worldview, and they feel like it must be true, interpret this as accessing truth through their inner spirit or whatever (pretty much what Rock claims for himself), and then convince themselves that, by God, they’re really on to something!

    If you don’t believe me, let me bring up an example from the Mormondiscussions.com forum, namely the poster who goes by Nightlion. This guy “knows” that he’s the only true Mormon left (sort of like Rock, but with a few more screws loose). He “knows” this whole body of theology in his mind. It all makes perfect sense to him. He even sees various prophets or prophecies or whatever (I never quite followed him here…) manifest in Mt. Olympus in Utah. It’s all as plain as day to him. He has learned to part the veil and tap into his inner knowing, and he’s 100% convinced that what he believes is cosmic, eternal, Godly truth, unalloyed with the falsehoods that bedevil the rest of us.

    What’s the difference between Rock and Nightlion? I would argue that Rock is a smart, thoughtful, articulate guy who has accepted a very bad epistemology and convinced himself that he’s tapping into his inner god-knowing, and is really on to something. I would argue that Nightlion is a man who is perhaps not quite as smart and thoughtful and articulate as Rock, probably has a few more screws loose, and so forth, who has also tapped into his inner god-knowing and is 100% convinced that he’s really on to something.

    In other words, Rock is what happens when you get a person who is not as crazy as a Nightlion, who nevertheless adopts the epistemology of a Nightlion. The same underlying approach to truth taints the mental products of both minds.

    The smarter they are, the harder they fall when they learn to think badly, because they’re smart enough to think of all kinds of clever and interesting ways to explain all kinds of interesting and relevant problems we face in humanity. It’s all made up in their own minds, but they mask that fact from themselves under the illusion of tapping into their inner knowing.

    I’ve read a bunch of Rock’s blog entries. I really liked some of them. In a lot of ways, he really is on to something. But in the areas where I think he really is on to something, it’s because he’s seeing things that any rational human mind could see if they took the time to notice. In other words, he’s a human being, and achieves some of the greatness of which human beings are capable.

    And in other areas I think he’s operating under a false worldview, and making conclusions which might be justifiable under such a worldview, but are not justifiable under what I consider a more objective reality.

    Of course, I’m a person too, and my own mind is subject to all the same failings as everyone else’s. The areas where I disagree with Rock may well just be me pitting my own inner “knowing” against his, ie: he’s wrong because he disagrees with me, and I think I’m probably right, so he must be wrong. In the end we’re both just doing our best to get along in life, and to try to figure some things out to make sense of it all.

    For the sake of transparency, I will state for the record that I am an officer in the Army National Guard, and feel very strongly about the role our military plays, and about my involvement in it. I’m trying to say “I’m proud” without all the baggage the word “pride” involves. I disagree in the strongest possible terms with Rock’s body-slam against the military and military service. If someone thinks I am disagreeing with Rock’s approach to things in reaction to his anti-military stance, that is something I would deny, but cannot prove is not a factor, subconsciously or whatever. Anyhow, just putting that out there. I could be wrong.

    • Rock Waterman Reply

      Seth, apparently I did not make myself clear (no surprise, given my penchant for rambling) if you took away the impression that my opinions have been gleaned from “new age gurus.” My intent was to convey that the teachings Skousen learned through John Widstoe (who in turn got them from the teachings of Joseph Smith) might seem to resemble, to some people, some kind of new age nonsense.

      To the typical latter-day Saint who has not been exposed to the deeper mysteries as taught by Joseph Smith -and that would probably be most of us- these things might seem far removed from the earthbound “Mormonism” they are familiar with. I’m not advocating any outside gurus, though some “gentiles” who have open minds seem to have caught on to some of it. That may be because many truths been in existence (albeit often in corrupted form) in many ancient cultures.

      Do I think my inner spirit knows more than my ego mind? Yep. I do. That doesn’t mean I think I know everything. Precisely the opposite; I KNOW I don’t know anything. But somebody in there does. Call it that little “I Am” or whatever. Now and then I learn something through the spirit that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Those little bits of knowledge are not likely to empower me to take over the world.

      I know nothing of this fellow, NighLion, but I assure you I don’t consider myself the last true Mormon. I’m motivated primarily by the belief that the founder of our religion is the most reliable authority on that religion, and those who would make changes to his doctrines owe us the courtesy of telling us by what authority they made those changes. I don’t accept “because I said so” from anyone but my mother.

      Anyone who has dipped into a few articles on my blog can tell I barely know what I’m talking about. I don’t think I have ever declared anything with a sense of certainty. Unlike everybody else, I don’t “know” the church is true, I don’t “know” Joseph Smith was a prophet, I don’t “know” anything. I have my beliefs, but those beliefs are constantly subject to change as knew information comes available. If I “know” anything, it’s that self-assured certainty is one of the surest ways to prevent arriving at the truth of anything.

      What I do is simply share my discoveries and opinions. Oh, and I have no ambitions to start my own church, in case you were wondering.

      As long as I have someone in the military on the line, Seth, could you please tell me how you justify the ambitions of empire in today’s military in light of D&C 98:33? Do you believe Jesus simply did not foresee the problems of today that would require a member of the church to rationalize ignoring this quintessential commandment? What is there to be proud of about an institution that consistently defies God? Does a Godly nation name its weapons “Predator” and “Reaper”? Those names are inspired of darkness, not light, and their use is certainly not defensive, which is the only kind of warfare God allows.

      To your credit, I note that you are in the National Guard, which, when not misused to promote empire overseas, is, along with the Coast Guard, the only legitimate branches of the military I see currently operating. The job of both is to guard our nation and our coasts, which, if you note the lessons of the many wars in the Book of Mormon, are proper to the defense of a people.

      But I get from you that you don’t differentiate between your branch, which is defensive, and the other armed forces which have been lately prostituted into the service of an empire that this nation was never meant to become.

      If you believe all of today’s military is somehow defending my rights, as many claim, could you please walk me through that process? How does that work? All I see today is a government hellbent on destroying my rights and sending its armies overseas to conquer others.

      • Seth Leigh Reply

        It’s in my nature to reply to you line by line, but I must restrain myself. I will try to hit some important points at least.

        “As long as I have someone in the military on the line, Seth, could you please tell me how you justify the ambitions of empire in today’s military in light of D&C 98:33?”

        I don’t. D&C 98:33 means nothing to me. These words are not really the words of an omnipotent Creator of the Entire Universe to the inhabitants of the Earth, given through Joseph Smith the womanizer and peepstone treasure hunter.

        And, really, I don’t think even the concepts expressed in D&C 98:33 should be admired by you either. This is situational ethics at its worst. We must remember that this is the same God who will command us to go to war, who commanded the Israelites to go into the land of the Amalekites and Caananites and the Whoeverwhatites and annihilate them. Literally, to slaughter every single adult man and woman, and all of the male children, but they were allowed to keep the virgin girls for themselves.

        This is the same situational ethics Joseph Smith expressed in his letter to Nancy Rigdon when he alluded to the fact that sex between a married man such as himself and a young, unmarried woman such as her would ordinarily be viewed as horribly sinful, but in this case, since the Lord smiled on it, it was just fine (my words, of course, but that’s the gist of it). According to Joseph Smith, almost anything we might ordinarily condemn as evil was in fact good if God ordered it. And thus Joseph Smith was “commanded” to go behind Emma’s back and marry up a bunch of already married women, young women and girls, and so forth, and to meet them clandestinely for sex, I mean, for the consummation of their secret faux marriages. And Nephi was ordered to commit cold-blooded murder of a drunk, passed-out man lying unconscious in the gutter, so that he (Nephi) could enter the man’s home and steal his property. That’s right, Nephi was just fine killing Laban in order to take Laban’s property, which should repel us, until we understand that it was really just fine because Elohim said to.

        Yeah, this is the same God who would command (through Joseph, of course, as usual, or his successor) the people to go to war, and it would be just fine. This setup obviously grants Joseph Smith an awful lot of power. He not only has an entire people doing his bidding, including submitting to sexual liaisons they would ordinarily judge to be abhorrent, but in fact he has the *ultimate* power – what he says actually determines right and wrong, since the Lord can command literally anything and it will be considered right and good, and the Lord doesn’t command anything except through his henchman on Earth, Joseph Smith!

        Yeah, this is the system you sign up for when you consider D&C 98:33 and then use that as the basis for judging the actions of the United States. If Joseph Smith the Philanderer in Chief ordered the invasion of Iraq, you’d be just fine with it – indeed, you’d have to be – but since it was just the President of the US, instead it’s this horrible, awful, abominable empire-building fraud and sham.

        According to D&C 98:33, if the US had done the *exact same thing* they really did over the last 8 years, but Gordon B. Hinckley had given W the “thumbs up” on it from the Lord, you’d have to be A-OK with it! Is that what you really believe? Really?

        As it happens, I view events in an entirely humanistic framework. What was done was done clumsily in many ways, and with a pretext (the WMD) that came back to bite us in the ass, and a lot of individual events that happened, many of which were caused by our own troops, have had very unfortunate consequences, including the deaths of people who didn’t deserve to die. That really sucks. I would just like to remind you that the Iraqi people, and their neighbors, and through their relationship with us through oil, the entire rest of the world, were suffering not only under a system which we had at times helped and propped up, but were also suffering under a sanctions regime which was exceedingly damaging to the Iraqi people for at least the whole previous decade. Something had to be done, or else the status quo would still have represented clear and present danger to us, as well as many more Iraqies would have suffered, even died, under the sanctions regime that devastated their economy, and thus degraded education, healthcare, access to food, livelihoods, etc. It’s not like choosing not to invade Iraq in 2003 would have left the Iraqi people enjoying Paradise on Earth.

        We chose between two evils. As one might expect, some great evil has resulted. Great evil was going to happen either way, so that not doing anything at all was not obviously the more virtuous choice. What do we do? Well, we should do our human best to avoid doing evil in all of this, and try to steer things in as good a direction as we can. That’s really all we can do. I’m just proud that, as a whole, the actions of the professionals in the US Military were far more virtuous, and less damaging of non-combatants, than really in any other war ever fought, anywhere on Earth, at any time in the history of human conflict.

        • Rock Waterman Reply

          Seth, I’ve learned that those who see the US military as a force for good in the world have a different worldview than I do. I understand that worldview because that worldview was once my own. That’s why I know that arguments with those who are convinced they are participating in the cause of righteousness almost always go nowhere. “My country, right or wrong” was once my mantra, and I didn’t want to hear about anything wrong.

          So I will not continue in that vein with you other than to say you neglected to mention that the sanctions you correctly decry as harmful to the Iraqi people were the result of US sanctions. For ten years prior to the invasion, and all through the Clinton administration, the US government was bombing the infrastructure of Iraq in an effort to weaken Hussein. It was, of course, the people who were hurt by those bombings and sanctions while Hussein was protected in his palace.

          Moving on, it’s apparent you did not listen closely to the podcast because you assert that I would have supported Hinckley had he given the thumbs up on the attack of Iraq. As the four of us discussed here, Hinckley in effect did give his tacit approval, and I’m pretty sure I was quite vocal in my disgust for what he called his “opinion.”

          It was clear as glass to me AT THE TIME that Hinckley was dead wrong, as I was somewhat familiar with the situation in the mideast because, unlike Hinckley, I had been reading the real expert’s warnings against an invasion.

          Hinckley, rather than seek the opinions of those experts who warned against the attack, or even to ask God about his thoughts on the subject (there’s a novel idea!) instead sided with the politicians, telling us that they should be trusted because they knew more about these things, and after all, no one can foretell the future.

          That conference talk was pretty much the last straw for me. I do not sustain as prophets men who habitually declare that they cannot see into the future.

          You are not familiar with my writings, since you cite the so-called Nancy Rigdon letter which I previously demonstrated both Nancy and her father declared a fraud. Joseph Smith affirmed that it was not from him, and Nancy said she knew the man it was from. Everybody at the time knew the letter was the construction of John C. Bennett.

          Those words you cite purporting to be Joseph Smith justifying an activity he constantly declared abhorrent were declared NOT to be his words by all the principals involved, yet you cite them to bolster your assumption of what I believe! Wow.

          You can read my discussion of it here:

          http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-mormon-history-is-not-what-they-say.html

          My discussion of the incident is very brief, but I link there to the source of a fuller analysis.

          I know members of the Church who accept on faith every single thing they’ve ever been told about Joseph Smith. Their faith in the truth of those stories is matched only by people like you who also swallow uncritically every little legend and rumor. I’d like to see both Mormons and PostMormons question their sources a bit. When I read a book, I also read the footnotes to see if they lead anywhere. Very often they don’t.

          It doesn’t matter to me whether you accept God’s word in the Doctrine and Covenants, but it seems odd then that you would turn out to be one of those folks who accepts every word of the bible to be absolutely true. A great number of biblical scholars have concluded that those passages in the bible where God seems to have commanded his people to slaughter their enemies are merely examples of history being written by the victors. Many ancient cultures attributed their victories to their gods, and the ancient Israelites were not much different. Justifying murder because “God told me to” is as old as history. The ancient Israelites were often no different than Americans like you who rationalize mass murder as something that had to be done to advance the cause of righteousness.

          You might recall that God finally allowed Israel to be conquered by her enemies. Why? What great sins was Israel committing? I submit that claiming Jehovah’s authority to kill their neighbors every damn time they had a beef was one of the biggies.

          You seem positive that I would condone any evil as long as it can be shown that Joseph Smith ordered it and God approved of it. Three times now, Seth, you have launched into lengthy diatribes arguing against positions that I have not set forth. I enjoy a healthy give and take, but you are making assumptions about me that are not in evidence.

          • Seth Leigh

            I recall your disgust with Hinckley’s approach to the war, but unless I misunderstood you, you were disgusted that Hinckley chose to forego any prophetic statement, and instead just defer to Bush and the other politicians. I registered that.

            But let’s ask, instead, what if Hinckley had stood up in conference and stated, boldly and proudly, “I have inquired of the Lord, and the voice of the Lord unto me was that Saddam Hussein is a blight on humanity that must be removed, and the Lord commands us to support the US invasion to remove him.”

            This would have fulfilled the justifications and requirements of D&C 98. By your own standard, you would have been forced (theologically if not physically) to support the war. The facts on the ground may have been exactly as they really were, but if Hinckley had declared the Lord’s support of the war, that would have changed *everything* about the morality of that war, by your very theology.

            That’s why I say that theology is situational ethics at its worst. It would change the very moral basis of the war from one you find abominable and immoral in the extreme to one that was righteous and good, and even necessary, just because of what some 90-year old white guy in Salt Lake City says.

            Going back to your most recent reply to me, I must state that my attitude toward the military isn’t precisely “my country, right or wrong”. I don’t know how I would, in fact, characterize my approach intellectually to my military service, and my attitude about US military activities around the world. What I can say is that I view our human activities, our countries, our politics, our wars, our peace, etc. as 100% entirely human enterprises. And we humans really do exist, all solipsistic arguments notwithstanding.

            So, while I do not believe that Elohim actually exists somewhere near the star Kolob, beaming his authoritative whims and commands into the minds of the 90 year old white men in Salt Lake City to determine what is right and wrong, I do believe that Saddam Hussein existed, and really did represent a clear and present danger not only to the people of Iraq, but through location and capability, and the economic importance of the region’s oil exports and our dependence on them, and so forth, represented a clera and present danger to the rest of the civilized world as well.

            Was taking him out the way we did the only correct option? Undoubtedly not. Was Saddam even the worst of the dangers that faced us? I don’t know, and possibly not. I freely admit that we’re quick to intervene when our oil is threatened, but not when savages in non-oil-producing countries are hacking apart their countrymen in tribal or religious bloodbaths. I recognize the contradictions, the weaknesses, and so forth. I don’t claim that humanity is being guided by some glorified dude from the Celestial Kingdom, who created all of this stuff for our benefit and is pulling all the strings to make some grand vision of his come to pass. No, we’re just 7 billion people doing our own thing on this spinning ball of dust orbiting a huge ball of flaming (fusion, not combustion) hydrogen in a particle corner of one of hundreds of billions of galaxies that exist in our known universe.

            We’re probably “doing it wrong” in some cosmic sense. I get that, and own up to it. But, whereas all the holy men and shaman aren’t able to deliver anything remotely justifiable as “Truth” to us, we’re stuck having to figure things out in the best way we can as human animals. That’s the game we’re all playing here. I may not view the United States as some divine favorite of the Sky Daddy in the same way that some Christian Dominionists do, but the United States is in fact where I was born, and raised, and the United States has given me very many great opportunities, and I love much of what the United States as stood for historically, and I am stuck, like the rest of us, trying to make my way through life the best I can, given what hand I was dealt. That hand includes having been born American. It currently includes the opportunity to play a role as an officer in the Army National Guard, and I am committed to supporting my unit now, and whatever unit I have the privelege of serving in in the future, to the best of my ability.

            In lieu of a credible plan from Sky Daddy, it’s the best alternative I’ve yet thought of. It may, in the end, be wrong in some way. But I’m playing the hand I’m dealt, which as human beings I think is all any of us can do.

          • Rock Waterman

            Seth, you bring up a good question, but again you’ve made incorrect assumptions about my beliefs. Suppose, as you posit, President Hinckley had declared in that conference a revelation that God commanded us to support the invasion of Iraq.

            “By your own standard,” you write, “you would have been forced…to support the war.”

            “If Hinckley had declared the Lord’s support of the war, that would have changed *everything* about the morality of that war, by your very theology.”

            You really should get to know me better before insisting you know what my theology is, Seth.

            What you are declaring is the insidious and completely false modern doctrine of “Follow the Prophet.” This is not my theology, and it certainly isn’t Mormon theology, though it is believed by a great many Mormons today.

            D&C 98:33 contains those key words “unless I the Lord command them.” The Prophet is not the Lord, and if he pretends to speak for the Lord, that’s not the final say, that’s just the beginning of the responsibilities on the members to find out the truth of the matter. The members are required, INDIVIDUALLY, to seek a witness from the Holy Ghost that what the prophet declares actually came from the Lord, and that the president is not just faking it.

            Would most members today make that effort? I highly doubt it. Why pray about something if the Prophet has just declared it? Not worth the effort. (Choosing to follow the prophet and ignore the contrary promptings of the spirit when the Holy Ghost is right at hand may very well be what is actually meant by “denying the Holy Ghost.”) Most members have been so indoctrinated to follow the prophet that they would allow themselves to be led straight into hell. Or into Iraq.

            But I Gol-Darn guarantee you that I would seek the witness of the Holy Ghost, and I also Gol- Darn guarantee that the answer I got would be a resounding NO! Why? I’ll give you just two reasons. There are plenty more.

            1. That revelation would contradict a whole passel of previous revelations and scripture. A prophet cannot contradict previous prophecies, no matter how much the current leadership insists that a living prophet trumps the words of a dead prophet.

            2. It would mean that God has reversed himself on the Constitution, which he says was his idea (D&C 101:80), and declared that any deviation from that document “cometh of evil.” (98:7) He seems to be a real stickler about His people not deviating from this.

            In short, if Hinckley had declared he had received a revelation from God in support of that invasion, he would have been outed in front of the whole world as a false prophet.

            I tuned in to conference that day hoping to hear Hinckley denounce the actions of the US government, not that I really expected much from him, what with his background in PR and all.

            You seem to think that I was ready to hear and accept his pronouncement either way. Nope. Had Hinckley made any declaration even closely resembling your hypothetical one, I would have been out of that church and denouncing that man even more than I currently do.

            I realize that when you were in the Church, you may have believe that unscriptural hogwash about how the prophet can never lead the church astray. Well, we don’t all believe that crap.

            Like to know more of my feelings on the matter? Here ya go:

            http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2009/10/follow-prophet-true-or-false.html

            .

          • Seth Leigh

            So that whole D&C 98 thing was just, what, a red herring right from the get-go? I guess I should have seen it coming, since though I haven’t read your whole site, I have read a good handful of your articles so far. I assumed that when you asked for my take on this military stuff in light of D&C 98 that you still took the idea of the Lord issuing his commands through his designated henchman on Earth seriously. I was mistaken, and I do admit, this should have been obvious to me from the very first article of yours that I read, and definitely from this podcast.

            I am aware that I may come across in print differently than I’d hope to, so just to be clear, I don’t dislike you as a person, and I would agree that we might well get along well if we knew each other personally. Obviously I don’t share your views on the military, and I think your epistemology is in need of a total overhaul. I don’t mean to attack you as a person, however. Just wanted to get that out there.

          • Rock Waterman

            I’m sure we’d have a better give and take in person, Seth, and I don’t get the impression you don’t like me. I think you just don’t “get” me. Believe me, you aren’t alone. I don’t fault those who look at the LDS Church (TM) of today and cry “enough!” It’s getting to be very near an abomination, but many haven’t caught on. Those who have usually walk away, and who can blame them?

            I look at what I see as the core theologies, and find them of value. It has nothing to do with staying in the Church. It only has to do with embracing that which is good and letting the rest go. I suppose where most get confused is in thinking that I’m still “in the Church.” Well, I know a whole lot of PostMo’s who still attend weekly to keep up appearances. I’ve been three times in three years. I believe what I consider some of the stuff about Mormonism. That doesn’t mean I support the corporation that has taken my church over, nor do I sustain men who CALL themselves prophets, seers and revelators, yet who never prophecy, never reveal anything, and who can’t see Jack.

            Had Hinckley stepped up to the pulpit that day and denounced that unscriptural and unconstitutional invasion, I would have been pleased, because it would have told me that the President of the Church was at least standing in the gap and speaking truth to power as was a primary duty of prophets of old.

            But he didn’t. He hemmed and he hawed and he vacillated to the point that you couldn’t tell where he stood. In the end, he gave us, not the word of the Lord, but his OPINION, of all things! Who in hell tunes into conference to get the Prophet’s opinion?! I thought he was supposed to relay the will of the Lord. (I noticed that he quoted from the beginning of section 98, but he made no mention of verse 33, which was the very verse salient to the situation).

            Had Hinckley’s opinion been contrary to the written word of God, he would have tipped his hand as a fraud. But he was too cowardly to stand against the political establishment. So in the end he said nothing. That was one of the most useless conference talks of all time.

            Here’s why I don’t think you and I are connecting on this section 98 thing. It’s clear we are both looking at D&C 98:33 from a completely different point of view You seem to see it as a loophole, i.e. God’s people can go war anytime God feels like it. What I see it as is a reiteration of His position that He will pretty much never allow his people to take the battle into the enemy lands.

            It was always thus. In all the wars of the Book of Mormon, it was clear that the people had a duty to defend their lands, homes, and families from attack or invasion. But they had to strictly limit their actions to defensive. If they themselves became the invader by taking the battle to the enemy’s homeland, there was hell to pay. They were absolutely prohibited from doing so.

            The entire section 98 could be considered God’s Rules for War. In ti, he tells us we are to renounce war, and if we have to go to war we are cautioned to be very careful to abide by the constitutional procedure in doing so. Why is that? Because the constitution does not allow any president to make the decision to send the country to war on his own; much like the protections in our scriptures prevents a prophet from telling us it’s okay just because he says so.

            So no, D&C 98 is not a red herring, it’s the quintessential guide. It’s a place one can go to get all the warnings and prohibitions that the scriptures teach about war condensed all in one place.

            A lot of members, you may have noticed, can read the entire Book of Mormon and miss the lessons of war. Oh, they’ll tell you there’s sure a lot of wars in the Book of Mormon, but they couldn’t tell you why. Those of us who see that book as scripture would ask ourselves why that is, why fill the thing with so many accounts of wars? D&C 98 is for those who didn’t get the message.

            When you fight defensively, you kill only those who have come against you. It could be justifiably said that they are asking for it. But when you follow your enemy home and take the battle inside his borders, you end up killing many who did not come against you. Our government calls that collateral damage; God calls it innocent blood.

          • Rock Waterman

            Seth, you bring up a good question, but again you’ve made incorrect assumptions about my beliefs. Suppose, as you posit, President Hinckley had declared in that conference a revelation that God commanded us to support the invasion of Iraq.

            “By your own standard,” you write, “you would have been forced…to support the war.”

            “If Hinckley had declared the Lord’s support of the war, that would have changed *everything* about the morality of that war, by your very theology.”

            You really should get to know me better before insisting you know what my theology is, Seth.

            What you are declaring is the insidious and completely false modern doctrine of “Follow the Prophet.” This is not my theology, and it certainly isn’t Mormon theology, though it is believed by a great many Mormons today.

            D&C 98:33 contains those key words “unless I the Lord command them.” The Prophet is not the Lord, and if he pretends to speak for the Lord, that’s not the final say, that’s just the beginning of the responsibilities on the members to find out the truth of the matter. The members are required, INDIVIDUALLY, to seek a witness from the Holy Ghost that what the prophet declares actually came from the Lord, and that the president is not just faking it.

            Would most members today make that effort? I highly doubt it. Why pray about something if the Prophet has just declared it? Not worth the effort. (Choosing to follow the prophet and ignore the contrary promptings of the spirit when the Holy Ghost is right at hand may very well be what is actually meant by “denying the Holy Ghost.”) Most members have been so indoctrinated to follow the prophet that they would allow themselves to be led straight into hell. Or into Iraq.

            But I Gol-Darn guarantee you that I would seek the witness of the Holy Ghost, and I also Gol- Darn guarantee that the answer I got would be a resounding NO! Why? I’ll give you just two reasons. There are plenty more.

            1. That revelation would contradict a whole passel of previous revelations and scripture. A prophet cannot contradict previous prophecies, no matter how much the current leadership insists that a living prophet trumps the words of a dead prophet.

            2. It would mean that God has reversed himself on the Constitution, which he says was his idea (D&C 101:80), and declared that any deviation from that document “cometh of evil.” (98:7) He seems to be a real stickler about His people not deviating from this.

            In short, if Hinckley had declared he had received a revelation from God in support of that invasion, he would have been outed in front of the whole world as a false prophet.

            I tuned in to conference that day hoping to hear Hinckley denounce the actions of the US government, not that I really expected much from him, what with his background in PR and all.

            You seem to think that I was ready to hear and accept his pronouncement either way. Nope. Had Hinckley made any declaration even closely resembling your hypothetical one, I would have been out of that church and denouncing that man even more than I currently do.

            I realize that when you were in the Church, you may have believe that unscriptural hogwash about how the prophet can never lead the church astray. Well, we don’t all believe that crap.

            Like to know more of my feelings on the matter? Here ya go:

            http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2009/10/follow-prophet-true-or-false.html

            .

  13. kia Reply

    I’ve been enjoying the Seth vs.Rock throwdown. Ive read your posts on the nancy rigdon thing and you seem to be relying on the book by the Price’s. You seem to put this source above other books such as, In Sacred Loneliness by Compton, and the “Sidney Ridon” biography and “Mormon Polygamy” books, both by VanWagoner. I will grant with regard to nancy rigdon its difficult to know what happened but according to VanWagoner the incident caused a rift between Sidney Rigdon and Joseph. According to this Sidney seemed to believe it was Joseph who propositioned his daughter. In addition, I look at the pattern of Smith and all the other women. There was a pattern of him doing this, thus it’s not to far fetched that it could have happened with nancy rigdon as well. But this is just one incident. There are so so many others by which to judge Joseph Smith. Fair minded people can study his life and disagree I guess.

    As to using scripture to bolster you point, in my opinion its all suspect. For your anti-war stance you hang on DC 93, Seth referred to the Old Testament massacres. I read all scripture with a grain of salt. The D&C was changed from the original book of commandments. Joseph seemed to produce or change a revelation whenever it seemed prudent. So, it’s just as likely Joseph’s opinion as much as God’s opinion. As for the Old Testament, biblical scholars believe the Torah was not written by Moses but came from 5 different sources written after King Solomon referred to as a J and E source, D source, P source and R or redactor source. The differing stories reflect the cultural bias of the writers. Just google Who wrote the Bible or read writings by biblical scholar Richard Friedman. Ditto for the New Testament. As for the Book of Mormon, just three words; Guns, Germs, and Steel. Beneficial reading, yes, historical, not a chance. Pearl of Great Price, don’t even go there. So where does this leave us? PureMormonism or Current Mormonism? Neither is Pure, both have good and bad, I just choose the parts that work best for my life in the 21st century combine it with the scientific world in which we live and make the best of it.

  14. Anonymous Reply

    Rock,

    This discussion has become so long I will probably miss something important or interesting. I wanted to convey that I appreciate your thoughtful discussion. Thank you.

    I disagree with the point-of-view that mormonism is worthwhile, pure or corrupted. I continue to see damage being caused to families and individuals by LDS Inc. and many other groups which trace their path through Joseph Smith Jr.

    Can you (or have you already) express concisely why a person should want to hold some form of Mormon belief?

    Nathan

    • Rock Waterman Reply

      Nathan, my piece “What Do I Mean By ‘Pure’ Mormonism” gives what I think is an idea why I embrace the core teachings. It’s my observation that it isn’t the philosophy of Mormonism that has done damage to some members, it’s the Church(TM), and what the Church has become that’s driving people away from what good there once was.

      • Glenn Reply

        Nathan,

        My take-away response to this was simple: gratitude. When Rock talked about gratitude as the great secret behind “this is my work and my glory….” I just had a big smile on my face, and it wasn’t all giggles. I personally can’t quite completely commit to a literal belief in a God that evolved from “intelligence” to learn how to “control” the elements of the universe by showing gratitude/love/appreciation for them, although it does have a definite appeal to me — but if that is a take-away message for “pure mormonism” I will happily sustain it. I really enjoyed this Rock.

  15. Chelsea Reply

    This might be my favorite M.E. yet. Incredibly thoughtful and thought-provoking. Thank you Rock, John, Zilpha and Cody!

  16. FWAnson Reply

    I completely disagree with Rock on virtually every point except that the LdS Church is in a state of apostasy and has become a repressive, man-worshiping, idolatrous Mind Control Cult.

    YET I could listen to him for hours! I love how his “out of the box” thinking challenges and inspires me.

    Thank you for this amazing, thought provoking interview.

  17. FWAnson Reply

    BTW, the three of you were commenting on how different Mormon meetings have been since around the David O. McKay era relative to how they were conducted before then. The facts that you gave were right but the analysis was a little “off” relative to the historical record.

    The behavior that you saw before O. McKay started molding the LdS Church more into the mainstream Evangelical model away from the 19th Century Protestant Restorationist model was reflective of the Pentecostalism that came out of the Caine Ridge Revival – which is where 19th Century Restorationism originated.

    Though one would never know based on the why that modern Mormons eschew anything that smacks of Pentecostalism, Mormonism was originally Pentecostal. Please consider the following original source quotations from Mormon friendly sources:

    “….my wife…was waiting for me, and she started to lecture me, saying that I was breaking the Word of Wisdom. She suddenly stopped, and by the gift of tongues she gave me a most remarkable and wonderful blessing and promised me that I should live to pay off all my debts, which I did live to do….Unless the gift of tongues and the interpretation thereof are enjoyed by the Saints in our day, then we are lacking one of the evidences of the true faith.­­YWJ [Young Woman’s Journal], 16:128.”
    (Gospel Standards, page 11-12 by President Heber J. Grant)

    “The above incident is thus related by President Brigham Young in his own history:­­In September, 1832, Brother Heber C. Kimball took his horse and wagon, Brother Joseph Young and myself accompanying him, and started for Kirtland to see the Prophet Joseph. We visited many friends on the way and some branches of the Church. We exhorted them and prayed with them, and I [Brigham young] spoke in tongues Some pronounced it genuine and from the Lord, and others pronounced it of the devil We proceeded to Kirtland and stopped at John P. Greene’s, who had just arrived there with his family. We rested a few minutes,….In the evening, a few of the brethren came in, and we conversed upon the things of the kingdom. He called upon me to pray: in my prayer I spoke in tongues As soon as we arose from our knees, the brethren flocked around him, and asked his opinion concerning the gift of tongues that was upon me. He [Joseph Smith] told them it was the pure Adamic language. Some said to him they expected he would condemn the gift Brother Brigham had, but he said “No, it is of God.”­­Millennial Star, vol. xxv, p. 439….The gift of tongues here spoken of was first exercised in one of the Pennsylvania branches: next at Mendon, where the Youngs and Kimballs resided then in the branches between Mendon and Kirtland, then in Kirtland under the circumstances above related and shortly afterwards it was a gift quite generally exercised by the Saints in Ohio. `And it came to pass,’ writes John Whitmer in his history of the Church (chap. x), `that in the fall of 1832, the disciples in Ohio received the gift of tongues, and in June, 1833, we received the gift of tongues in Zion.'”
    (History of the Church 1:297, Footnotes, September 1832: article in the Western Monitor, printed at Fayette, Missouri, the proceedings of the mob, on Jackson County troubles )

    And so on and so forth, I could literally fill a website with original source references to Pentecostal practices from 19th and early 20th Century Mormonism (and maybe some day I will) . But in the mean time you’ll have to content yourself with my article on the Kirtland Temple dedication, “Mormons: Pentecostals Gone Bad!” ( http://www.concernedchristians.com/index.php?option=com_fireboard&Itemid=42&func=view&id=76819&catid=10 ) , John Farkas, superb article on Mormon Tongues Speaking ( http://www.concernedchristians.com/index.php?option=com_fireboard&Itemid=42&func=view&id=82704&catid=10 ); as well as the work that other Mormon Studies Scholars have done in this area.

    And, in all fairness and in deference to our mutual friend John Hamer, I would point out that the RLDS/CoC has never fully abandoned classic Caine Ridge Pentecostalism – it is still practiced and accepted in their congregations.

    So if the apostate and modern LdS Church REALLY wants to put some life back into it’s services it need only get back to it’s roots and reintroduce tongues speaking and the other Pentecostal practices that you all glossed on in this podcast.

    [NOTE to the ME Team: I would dearly love to see you all do an episode on the correlation (deliberation choice of words) between The Caine Ridge Revival, the 19th Century Restortationist Movement, and the Early Mormonism of Joseph Smith)]

    • Rock Waterman Reply

      The absence of the gift of tongues in the modern church is a further sign to me that the gifts of the spirit are all but dead now. Of course, you only have to attend a typical Sacrament meeting to notice how absent the spirit is in the room.

      We are so far removed from our pentecostal roots today that if someone did suddenly launch into glossolalia during fast and testimony meeting, he would be quietly ushered out the door and the entire congregation would be embarrassed for him.

      To add to your links above, I would mention that a few years ago the Journal of Mormon History had a thorough article on glossolalia in the early LDS church, but I don’t remember the year or the name of the author.

      • FWAnson Reply

        Thank you for your wonderful response Rock. I apologize for my delay in responding.

        You wouldn’t believe that INCREDIBLE denial that I’ve gotten from TBMs regarding the obvious fact that Mormonism up to about the David O. McKay era (a little earlier actually but who’s quibbling) was more equivalent to the local Assemblies of God or Four Square Church than they were the Baptists, Lutherans, or Presbyterians relative to the practice of Caine Ridge style charismata.
        (and since I keep referring to it I should probably provide these links as a “jump start” for the curious http://www.caneridge.org/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cane_Ridge,_Kentucky )

        The idea that Mormons were (gasp!) tongue speakin’, hands layin’, prophecyin’, chandelier swingin’, “holy rollers” blows a fuse and evokes an angry response from today’s average TBM (especially the Chapel Mormons).

        Yet all they need do is open up the copy of McConkie’s “Mormon Doctrine” that they have gathering dust in their den and they’ll find this tidbit:

        “Tongues and their interpretation are classed among the signs and miracles which always attend the faithful and which stand as evidences of the divinity of the Lord’s work. (See Mormon 9:24; Mark 16:17; Acts 10:46; 19:6.)”
        ( Teachings of Joseph Smith, pp. 148-149, as quoted by Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, Second edition, p. 801 )

        Rather they regurgitate tripe like this to justify their apostate state:

        “In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the gift of tongues is manifested every day among the thousands of missionaries serving around the world. Missionaries learn foreign languages and the interpretation thereof with astonishing ease, and words come to them that they have not mastered. The gift of tongues has also been manifest in other, singular events, such as at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. But speaking in tongues is not a part of normal church meetings, such as sacrament meeting or testimony meeting..”
        ( http://www.mormonwiki.com/Speaking_in_Tongues )

        And then they wonder why their meetings are so damn boring!
        Sad isn’t it?

        • Rock Waterman Reply

          I was never quite able to swallow that stuff about speaking in tongues being manifest by how quickly the missionaries are able to learn a foreign language. Seemed like a real copout.

          That particular gift is not longer apparent in the church, so they just pick something that sounds like it could pass for the gift of tongues, and try to sell that hogwash. Not a’buyin’ it. Thanks for the links.

          • FWAnson

            Well it comforts me to know that at least one Mormon sees through the spin. Rock you inspire me and give me hope!

            Thank you.

            And I hope that you enjoy the links as much as I did. Once you fit the coming of Joseph Smith and Mormonism into the greater historical context of the Second Great Awakening, Caine Ridge, and the 19th Century Restorationist Movement a whole lotta things begin to fall into place.

            And if you happen to run across that Mormon History Association article please relay the information to me so I can get a copy and add it to my research archives.

  18. chrisalmond Reply

    Wow! This guy is the king of tangents! This entire podcast was just a few fairly simple questions with the longest, all encompassing answer I could imagine. WHich isn’t necessarily a complaint. Towards the end when there were certain issues I wish would be addressed but time couldn’t allow I felt a bit frustrated by it, but perhaps that was more a frustration that there wasn’t more time allotted than with Rock himself. His take on mormonism and what he emphasizes reminds me a lot of how I approached the church in my believing days and it really reminded me of what I liked about the church and how much I sometimes miss those aspects. So kudos in that regard. And one thumb up for having insanely long tangents and one thumb sideways.

  19. Blvr Reply

    My name is john dehlin and I have a message for the mormon expressions audience. It is very important and I’m announcing it here first to get a feel for your reaction before I announce it on my podcast, so let me know what you guys thing. The announcement is: I love boobs

  20. Matthew Reply

    My reaction to Rock was basically what John and Zilpha’s was when they both said “your views are cool buy why Mormonism, which seems pretty far removed from what you are talking about.” Still, anyone who engages in this much thought and introspection and articulates his conclusions so well and in such and entertaining way is well worth the listen.

    Rock, where did the figure of $6 per person spent on humanitarian aid come from? This is a big gripe of mine and I would love to be able to substantiate that little tidbit for use in conversation. TIA.

    • Rock Waterman Reply

      There have been several attempts at analyzing the actual amount that the Church spends on humanitarian efforts, and my six dollar figure is high by most accounts. I base that not on the number of people the Church claims as members, but on the more likely number of active tithe payers, which is probably closer to one fourth or one third of the official 13 million number.

      There was a discussion thread on the subject over at PostMormon.org last year, led by username PoodleDoodleDude, who broke it down based on the Church’s own membership numbers divided by a claim on KSL by the Church that it had spent 1.1 Billion dollars on humanitarian aid over the past 25 years. According to the author:

      “1.1 billion 25 years ago….

      “for the sake of math, we’ll just round it off to 1 BILLION dollars…k, fine….

      “so, 1 billion for 25 years

      “500 million for 12.5 years

      “250 million for 6.25 years

      “125 million for 3.12 years

      “62.5 million for 1.56 years

      “so, roughly, every year and a half, they’ve given 62.5 million dollars

      “fine…

      “so, they have 13 MILLION members on their books, right? give or take…

      “so, 62.5 million dollars DIVIDED BY 13 million members:

      “4.77 per member per year and a half!!!!

      “yes, 4.77 PER MEMBER PER YEAR and a half!!!!!!

      “am i doing the math wrong on this?? that means, they are giving LESS THAN 5.00 per member PER YEAR!!

      “Good grief,” the writer concludes, “And yet, they can drop 3 BILLION dollars on a mall in 3 years and not even bat an eye….”

      The full thread discussion can be found here, along with links to Church stats and other sources:

      http://www.postmormon.org/exp_e/index.php/discussions/viewthread/21217/

      Someone else calculates that the Church is spending fifty times more on the City Creek Mall alone than on charity.

      Username WesManLV points out that if the Church leaders followed God’s plan and just gave 10% of the money they take in to the poor, they would still get to keep 90% for themselves and their hotels, malls, temples, and whatnot.

      According to his calculations of what the Church takes in, if it paid out 10%, WesMan says “The church should be contributing $750 million PER YEAR to humanitarian causes.”

  21. Anonymous Reply

    Thanks, Rock Waterman, for sharing your story and your fascinating religious views. I am perplexed, like many others, why you still hold to Mormonism. Even though early mormonism was indeed very different from the modern Brighamite manifestation of it, I still think that it is not too similar to your own views.

  22. Anonymous Reply

    I like rock’s premise that the church is not necessarily ALL true or ALL false. very reasonable to me now, on the outside.

    But how do you find middle ground when Hinckley himself preached that there IS no middle ground, and it’s either the Lord’s church or a huge fraud?

    The church’s leaders (who represent God) can’t find a middle ground, so where is the doctrinal basis?

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