Jeff G. has posted a response of sorts to a certain strain of argument that seems to carry the day among a certain class of Mormons.
I’m not going to repeat his arguments. Instead, I have a different take, because I think people can be fooled by these arguments, since they seem so warm, fuzzy, and compassionate. However, these arguments are actually quite pernicious, and their ultimate end point is to undermine the gospel.
To illustrate, I’m going to just reword part of one argument:
In The Art of War, Sun Tzu offers some very relevant advice on retreating.
Paraphrased, he states that when attacking an enemy, you should leave them a way to retreat. This has two advantages – if planned right, you can set up an ambush on the retreat path. However, if you can’t do that, it’s best to allow them some means of escape, lest the enemy, knowing they must either fight or die, rise to heroic actions and do serious damage.
Similarly, if your army is hemmed in with no mean of retreat, let your soldiers know this, so that they might rise to heroic actions and perhaps even pull off a win.
It seems to me these principles have relevance to several current battles in the “culture wars.”
(the following doesn’t quite scan, compared to the original. This is on purpose).
Take up the Liberal Mormon’s burden, Send forth the best with degrees
Go risk your fates to excommunication, to serve your lessers’ needs;
To wait in heavy harness, On un-nuanced folk and mild–
Your orthodox, hide-bound Mormons, Half-devil and half-child.
Take up the Liberal Mormon’s burden, In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of Peterson And check his show of pride;
By open speech and academic, An hundred times made nuanced
To seek progressive profit, And work against the prophet
The Mormon blog sphere (I’ve decided there’s no real “Bloggernacle” anymore, it’s too divided and Balkanized to have such a unifying name anymore) has been abuzz about the recent changes at BYU for the religious class requirements. Generally, the consensus has been that this is a bad thing – even those not totally shocked have only offered a very qualified “wait and see” approach.
I, however, think the changes are (probably, likely) a good thing.
For those who came in late: Continue reading
Title: How Do I Know If I Know?
Author: John Bytheway
Publisher: Deseret Book
Number of pages: 138
Reviewed by Ivan Wolfe for the Association for Mormon Letters
John Bytheway has made a fairly nice niche for himself writing books aimed at Mormon youth that do quite a few things well: He doesn’t talk down to them, he avoids overly complicated language, and he presents the ideas straightforwardly.
I could see a complaint that his writing is too simplistic in handling controversial aspects of the gospel (his work is not at all like Adam Miller’s recent “Letters to a Young Mormon” which does tackle hard issues). However, such a criticism would be missing the point. Continue reading