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  1. I love these history podcasts. Fantastic. Under the general heading of “Mormon History and Lying”, I think it would be interesting to also discuss the role of forged documents in Mormon history. Mark Hoffman? How much historical fact do we still attribute to documents that were actually forged? Point being, “lies” sometimes flow both directions, I think.

  2. Thank you all for producing this great episode.

    I think we’re conflating two separate issues here. The first is whether the church, either as an institution or on the individual level, has engaged in deception relative to the disclosure of pertinent information. We frame this question as “did the church lie to me”? The second issue is whether and to what extent the ‘church’ had a motive for acting deceptively.

    I think most folks reacted negatively to Brian’s essay, because they perceived it — especially with the original title — as a rationalization to absolve the institution from any responsibility relative to the first issue. In other words, people thought Brian was trying to argue that the church had not acted deceptively. I don’t think that’s what he wants to argue here.

    Instead, I think the essay makes the case that, to the extent deception occurred, none of the church actors behaved according to some nefarious motive. Rather, leaders made marginal decisions here and there based on their views about how to best serve the church and its members. Over time, an official Mormon history emerged within the Mormon historical consciousness that integrated all of these inaccuracies. I think Brian wants to say that, neither the institution, nor any individual leader, masterminded this evolution. Rather, it developed over time, and the institution — through its negligence and not purposeful intention — failed to correct the record.

    I think the overwhelming majority of transitioners, ex-mos, NOMs, etc. can go along with the second argument — i.e., that the church didn’t mastermind a lie. But I think Brian ran into trouble because very few of these same folks could go along with the idea that the church never acted deceptively. No, the institution and its actors purposefully suppressed information, in some cases likely destroyed information, obfuscated the truth, severely discouraged independent inquiry, failed to correct the record when presented with evidence, and generally created a hostile environment for dissenting viewpoints.

    Like the U.S. govt during the run-up to the war in Vietnam, no one person or decision had a definitive influence on the outcome. But the collective consciousness propels itself forward. I think a big takeaway from this excellent discussion is how determined the church, the doctrine, and the leaders are by broader collective forces. We have this idea in Mormonism that the prophet knows all and sees all. And therefore his judgments are per se optimal. In reality, he’s along for the ride as much as the rank-and-file membership.

  3. First of all, excellent podcast! I want to say that Adam and Lisa were very good at offering an counterbalance to Brian and they made many points that I mention below. I listened for 45 minutes to Brian W. tell about church history over the last 185 years. As I listened, I heard a very clear telling of how the Church has deliberately and willfully misled their members and the world about their history. I’m sorry, but we can’t keep blaming every misstep of the church on “ignorance”. Pretty much every excuse from J.S. until today is founded on ignorance. From blacks and the priesthood to polygamy, to local matters at the stake level, every one is “ignorant, but they have a good heart”. Each misstep today is because these are unpaid clergy and so they are excused. The historians weren’t “true historians” so they are excused. The Prophets and leaders weren’t historians so they are excused. This cannot continue to stand. This works in very few other areas of life. If I were high up in a company and chose to ignore, or worse, bury evidence or stories that I didn’t want to believe because they didn’t fit my narrative, I would be in a lot of trouble, probably facing jail time. It seems also that Brian is attempting to bury the hundreds of examples of history and current teaching that is, at best, not telling the whole truth. From the blatant denial of polygamy by Joseph Smith to denial of Polygamy by the Apostle in Europe as he was trying to convert people. How about the continued mis-representation about the cause for the dissolution of the relief society? How about the fact that the church is literally re-writing the History of the Church to eliminate references to J.S. and others using tobacco and alcohol? Why must they do this? Another example, Adam/God DOCTRINE taught for years by Brigham Young and even inserted into the Temple ceremony. Also, the doctrine and Covenant revelations that were changed many times to insert the priesthood, etc. It is held and stated that these were never changes. There are hundreds of examples of previous and current untruths by the church. While I have appreciated the recent church essays on the first vision, the translation, etc, they are only hitting on the most glaring problems areas. The reality is that the church seems to be built on a very carefully correlated narrative that weaves carefully through the minefield laiden history. They then tell people to follow the prophet closely and don’t wander away into history or self-study of scriptures lest they be destroyed. They treat their members like little children. They have been aware of the troublesome history, there is no doubt about that. This is enough for some to seal the deal. I don’t want to be treated as a child. How will we be equipped to become reach exaltation if we have never learned to hear and walk for ourselves? One question for some is about their motivation. Even if they are acting like responsible parents, concerned for their children and withholding history like a PG13 movie, it leaves many people with more questions, but I find it troubling in the least. If you want to be treated like a child, receiving the “milk” for the rest of your life, stick around.

  4. At 1:10:00 or so in the interview, Dan makes a great point that I identify with. Why are the other leaders of the Church (and members) so seemingly afraid of “the 15” Apostles and First Presidency? Makes no sense to me.

    My daughter’s wedding in the Salt Lake temple was (at least to me) marred by the sealer telling us at the end of the ceremony to “be very quiet as you leave the temple today, because at this very moment some of the Brethren are officiating in other sealings, and we don’t want to interrupt them.”

    Oi! 🙁

    1. Ha! That’s such a great story. Crazy thing is I don’t think most of the 15 wanted to be treated like royalty but they are powerless to stop it.

      I too am tired of the fear of the 15 apostles/prophets. Or any church leader for that matter. I am tired of all the deference we give to bishops and stake presidents. I think many prefer that deference but I have seen a few that shun it.

  5. I can’t even express how much I loved this podcast. I especially loved Lisa’s prefessional take on lying and the need for validation. I found it very applicable to other areas of my life where the deceit of close family members has been crippling.

  6. I listened again. Very well done! There was much of coming to understanding between the various participants in the conversation. These are the kinds of discussions that will help make the LDS Church a more healthy organization. Thanks!

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