In Memory of the Truly Fallen

John Gee is an Egyptologist and expert on ancient things.  He can be pretty good in his field at times, and share those insights on his blog.  But this weekend, he drifted far afield of his area of expertise in ruminating on his memorializing a list of those “fallen”.  None of his group are dead, at least not in the sense of having departed this life.  Of this I’m rather certain, since I read Daniel Peterson’s blog all the time.  Instead, he has a list of “fallen” those that were once at the top of BYU’s power elite, who have fallen from grace over the last year.

Reality has it that few stay on top for very long.  Even though Daniel Peterson and others now drift around in a form of persona non grata with the Maxwell Institute, they still have lots of power and persuasion in their own fields and among LDS.

My post here regards two issues with Gee’s post.  First, it is time to stop beating a dead horse.  John, you are no longer a front runner in the Maxwell Institute. Get over it and move on.

Second, and this is my more important issue: I’m saddened and shocked that he would memorialize such a group, rather than the truly fallen, on Memorial Day. That Daniel Peterson and others have been affected by choices at BYU is well known now.  To compare them with the truly fallen is an outrage.  These people still collect paychecks. These people still go home each night to their families. I still read on Daniel’s blog of him attending concerts and traveling.  There is very little that has changed in the world because of the changes last year. The gospel is still true, and there will continue to be blogs, FAIR and Mormon Interpreter, etc., to feed the egos of those that may still feel sleighted.

OTOH, I spent 20 years in the military. I have had friends and acquaintances who truly are fallen.  They will never go home to their families.  They will never see concerts, travel the world, or write a blog post. Some families still wait for fathers and brothers to return from Vietnam, still Missing in Action after 4 decades.  Others do return home, but leave a piece of them on the battlefield. A leg here, an arm there.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder plagues our military today in ways that the armchair elite just cannot understand.

The world and the Church can survive without FARMS, Maxwell Institute, or Mormon Interpreter.  All of the LDS scholars are expendable.  This is proven every day by tens of thousands of 19 year old men and women, who preach the gospel. But the destruction of Fascism, Nazism, Socialism, Radicalism and Totalitarianism are a truly costly and dangerous enterprise that few outside the military have experienced here in the USA.  I’m sure John Gee wasn’t thinking of Shiloh, Gettysburg, Flanders’ Field, the Western Front, the Battle of the Bulge, the USS Arizona, Guam, Porkchop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, The Tet Offensive, etc.  

Gee  obviously wasn’t thinking about my own son in a caravan of Humvees in Afghanistan, where roadside explosive devices destroyed the vehicles in front of him and tipped his over, leaving several casualties.  I’m thankful to still have my son, but am thoughtful of those parents whose sons did not survive that day.

It is a moment like this that I look at my intellectual friends and hope that they can wake up and realize that what they are doing is beans compared to what the true heroes do. I spent 20 years in the military, but do not consider myself a hero. I never saw combat. I never was in a position of grave danger. My job was to support the true heroes that do risk their lives in war.  I am sure that Daniel Peterson also would not count himself as one of the “fallen”, especially on Memorial Day – a day set aside to honor those who gave everything to their country, so that we may have the freedoms and blessings we have today.  I just hope that John Gee and others will get their priorities straight, and realize that what they are doing is not as important as they think.  Nor are they as important as those who really do make a difference.

33 thoughts on “In Memory of the Truly Fallen

  1. Rame, your points are valid, but I’m not sure it falls in the category of “outrage.” It seems that Gee was just being ironic. Nobody doubts the important service of people in the military. It is clear that Gee did not intend to take a swipe at them.

  2. I’m an active duty member of the military. I follow John Gee’s post. I thought it was good. I am not offended in the least.

    I think we as Americans get “outraged” way too often. A little less political correctness, a little less “outrage”, would be good for our culture.

  3. My problem is, there are 364 other days of the year for him to to commiserate his group of fallen. Memorial Day was set aside for a specific purpose. As with the term “marriage”, when we broaden the definition too far, it becomes meaningless. I do not want him to steal the meaning from Memorial Day. Otherwise, there will be no difference between those who make the ultimate sacrifice, and others who did not.
    I am outraged when people try to change truly important things to mean anything and everything, therefore changing the sacred into something less. Gee has posted many times on the MI event last year. Why pick an important event like Memorial Day to bring it up again, and then in using terms like “fallen” bring a comparison between his group and the truly fallen?
    I’ll give him the other 364 days for mourning his “lost” comrades. He should be sensitive enough not to diminish our fallen servicemen on the one day we set aside for them.

  4. Rame, I will grant you this: your post is another reminder of the importance of empathy. I don’t have that much exposure to the military in my life, and therefore I don’t necessarily understand the feelings of those who do. So, your post is a good reminder that people often react to things very differently given their histories and their experiences. I am OK with you being outraged about this (although I am not outraged). :)

  5. I don’t use the words “righteous indignation”. I prefer “self-righteous indignation”. I feel it is more descriptive…

  6. There is no reason to be outraged at Gee’s post, unless one has something approaching a religious devotion to the idea of military service — that it is a holy calling similar to entering into a monastic order. (And, in fact, there are quite a few Americans and Mormons who are part of what I’ll call the Cult of the Armed Forces.)

    One can legitimately honor and respect the dead who died in military service without going to such extremes that it becomes impossible to use a public holiday as a metaphor for other significant losses.

    In other words: Relax.

  7. Perhaps “outrage” was a poor choice of words. That said, keeping the sacred sacred is an important issue. Do we feel that Santa and toys replacing Christ is a good thing, or something to over “relax” about? How about the Easter Bunny replacing the Atonement and Resurrection? How about gay marriage or sexual promiscuity replacing traditional marriage? Mike, would you have me “relax” on those issues, too?
    There is no religious devotion for the military. In fact, I’m all for reducing our military. But I am for a special remembrance of the dead. John Gee used this special remembrance for his own personal politics – a jab at the Maxwell Institute. Suggesting that his icons are worth calling the “fallen” on a day specifically set aside for remembering our truly fallen, was probably more of a poke in the eye to the MI than it was anything else. He could have made this list on any other day, and I would have been fine with it.
    Again, when we give all kids straight ‘A’s or say all marriages or relationships are the same, then we demean the sacredness of it. And those who died in battle for righteous causes are mourned in the Book of Mormon. Mormon gives special consideration for war heroes, like the fallen Teancum and Capt Moroni. I do not remember him praising the Jewish scholars of his day in the same way….
    We need to create and maintain sacred space as holy space. The parsimonious use of special celebrations does harm society. Or do you think that people forgetting Christ on Christmas and Easter is okay, as long as they are celebrating something?
    That our nation has trumpeted freedom and freed millions of people from totalitarianism, opening up the doors of many nations to the gospel, IS something that many LDS military consider significant, and yes, a holy calling. I see temples in Japan, Korea, Russia, Eastern Europe, and many other places that would not be there if it weren’t for our military.
    Now, I do not mind people using Memorial Day to remember their passed loved ones. Nor do I mind them remembering dead people that made a difference in their lives. However, Gee chose a special day and politicized it. He could have appreciated living people on his blog on any other day. Or, he could have personally sent them a note. But all those “fallen” on his list were people that were pushed out of BYU power by the new hegemony. This is something that happened about a year ago, yet he still clings to it, as one who lost power in the shift. To use this special day for political purposes is lame. I would be happy to read about his dead grandparents, who crossed the Great Plains in the Willie/Martin handcart companies on this day. I would welcome something about his Dad, who never went to war, but made a difference and then died peacefully in his sleep. But this was not about anything remotely close to Memorial Day. It was Gee playing politics, still seeking to jab a dagger into the hearts of those at Maxwell Institute and BYU. Sadly, in doing so, he has diminished an important day of real remembrance.

  8. I just read the post, and I find no reason whatsoever to take offense. I find this reaction somewhat silly and childish.

  9. From the title, I thought this would be about those who are not only dead, but damned.

  10. Just out of curiosity, rameumptom, what did you do yesterday to observe Memorial Day?
    I trust it was something more meaningful than heading down to the lake and having a barbeque. Sacred and holy and all that.

  11. I don’t disagree with Rame’s feelings. It is perfectly legitimate for him to feel the way that he does. He’s expressing his feelings appropriately.

    But I can also agree with John Gee’s post at the same time. I guess I just try to see that people are, most of the time, motivated out of good desires. In John Gee’s case, he has known those men for a quarter of a century, fought (figuratively) in the trenches with them all those years. I think he’s entitled to feel strongly about his friends.

    I can also see Rame’s point of view. Two impassioned men who care deeply about their interests.

  12. Mike,
    Friday, I attended a memorial at the local VFW post. I spent quite a bit of time this weekend thinking about the military dead. I posted several things on Facebook to remind others regardng it. Although I live in Indianapolis, I did not go see the 500 or any other race. After some memorial events on Monday morning, I did go out with family on a picnic. However, I did NOT try to politicize the day by trying to take over its meaning for my own purposes. Gee is free to do whatever he will on any day of the year, BECAUSE some died for him to have those freedoms. It is sad that he would choose to be the Easter Bunny of the event.

    And Mike, have you never felt upset because some people choose to replace something important to you with something of much lesser value, or worse, to politicize it?

  13. Oh, probably. It’s just that I don’t see what Gee did as being an affront to all that is good and decent in the world.

    And I happen to like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, and see them as perfectly compatable within the larger understanding of Christmas and Easter.

    I also don’t have a problem with the legalization of gay marriage.

    So, three cheers for Memorial Day, but don’t take it so seriously that it can’t be used as a concept or springboard for other ideas.

  14. And thanks for your Memorial Day observances. At least you put your money where your mouth is, so to speak.

    If you’d spent Memorial Day wondering how to cook a brat so that it was perfectly done on the inside without bursting and spilling all its juices, then I’d be concerned about your original post. ;-)

  15. “And Mike, have you never felt upset because some people choose to replace something important to you with something of much lesser value, or worse, to politicize it?”

    Just don’t ask Mike Parker about the new Star Trek, which definitely IS AN OUTRAGE.

  16. This is a classic martyr complex. Gee sees himself and his comrades as heroic warriors in the lost battle for the direction of church education at the Maxwell Institude. Saluting himself and others with “in memory of the fallen,” seems at first blush, grandiose and immature.

    But it’s really not so unexpeted. Gee has dedicated his life to aggressive warfare in the apologetic arena. He is God’s mighty warrior. Any great warrior who is put out to pasture by the new guard is going to struggle with resentment. It’s difficult to be humble as you watch your impassioned legacy and sacrifice being trampled on by your new leadship.

    Getting over yourself takes time.

  17. Geoff B.: “Just don’t ask Mike Parker about the new Star Trek, which definitely IS AN OUTRAGE.”

    Geoff is referring to Star Trek Into Darkness, which is the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel.

  18. Thank God that many honorable people do have a “religious devotion to the idea of military service”. The military of a righteous nation brings or maintains temporal salvation to those who are conquered or threatened by evil.

    I’m currently reading the war chapters of Alma. I would say that Captain Moroni, Lehi, Teancum, Pahoran, et. al, all had “religious devotion to the idea of military service”.

    Fer cryin, out loud, remember what was on the Title of Liberty that was used to rally the people to join the Nephite army to defend themselves!

    Alma and Moroni were clear that temporal salvation was requisite part of their liberty to worship and to practice their religion. Therefore, temporal salvation is a prerequisite for the spiritual salvation of a society.

    Look at the majoir military threats of the 20th and 21st centuries since the Second World War: Communism and radical Islam. Both of those prevent (and actually have prevented) the free exercise of religion among the people in the societies that they control.

    So yes, it IS both an apt phrase and VERY appropriate to have a “religious devotion to the idea of military service”.

    It’s been over 30 years since I wore a uniform and took an oath. I’ve come to think that those who have never worn a uniform just don’t “get it.” Our recent Democrat presidents who never wore a uniform (Clinton and Obama) obviously didn’t and don’t “get it.”

    Ram gets it. He’s right.

  19. “Fer cryin, out loud, remember what was on the Title of Liberty that was used to rally the people to join the Nephite army to defend themselves!”

    I read this as quite the opposite. It was a rallying cry to remember their covenants with God, and to return to God from their errant ways, in hopes that He might send forth His mighty arm and spare them from their enemies. I don’t see it as a battle cry at all, but an effort — like Alma giving up his judgment seat — to incline the hearts of the people towards their commitments to God in a moment of great peril, in hopes that doing so might forestall the need for war in the first place.

  20. LDSP, you may be partially right in your view on this. But it was very common in the ancient near east for troops to be gathered in the way Capt Moroni did. It became a rallying around the flag, calling forth men to battle. The banner exclaimed the purposes of that battle, yes, but it was a call to arms, nonetheless. While they hoped God would help them fight the battles, they still had to fight, and many had to die in that bloody 14 year long conflict.
    The Ammonites also had a covenant to bury their weapons of war for peace. Yet they were willing to renounce the oath, in order to assist the Nephites against such a great enemy. Only Helaman kept them from breaking the covenant, and so they sent their stripling warrior sons, instead. The point here is, they were ready to go to battle FOR the concepts espoused by Moroni. He not only inspired the free men, but also the pacifists to pick up arms!
    The key here, once again, is that there were hundreds of other days for Gee to choose to post a political blog, which is exactly what it was. He could have written a post to those who inspire him, and I would not have objected, even on Memorial Day. Instead, he chose to politicize it, by calling them “the fallen.”
    As for Mike not having a problem with sharing Christmas with imaginary men in red suits and animals handing out eggs, the difference is, he isn’t trying to co-opt Christ’s birth for another purpose. However, what would one feel about an atheist promoting an atheist version of Christmas to do INSTEAD of Christ’s birth? And that is what Gee is doing, only he is ALSO politicizing the event. This isn’t about honoring friends, but about complaining in a subtle way about those who were tossed out of the MI. Otherwise, why call them the “fallen”? As far as I’m concerned, Daniel Peterson is not fallen. He’s still blogging from Park City today, which is a very ritzy and nice place. I can’t really see that as being a major tribulation for anyone!
    So, John Gee, the next time you want to honor people, that’s fine. You can do it any day you’d like. But before you politicize it, make sure you realize that you are diminishing something important to others.

    Finally, I am sad that most Americans are not directly affected by war. In WWII, Americans gave up rubber, gasoline and so much more, so that the troops would have what they need. Today, we only think about them when a bomb goes off at the Boston Marathon, and then only until we are distracted again by the next Lindsay Lohan scandal. For people to be so unthankful and callous, or at least disinterested, to the point that they do not really take the time to consider what is truly important (life, liberty, etc), then they deserve the heroes they have. Me? I’ll take Capt Moroni and the American soldier as heroes over BYU intellectuals any day. And I’m not politicizing any of it.

  21. rameumptom: “As for Mike not having a problem with sharing Christmas with imaginary men in red suits and animals handing out eggs….”

    Do you have kids? Christmas morning must be a blast at your house!

  22. All my kids are grown. We still have a blast on Christmas morning, without having to overuse the Santa meme. We do give presents, etc. We explained to our kids and now to grandkids that Santa is a symbol of Christmas or the spirit of Christmas – one of kindness and giving. However, we emphasize that Christmas is about the great gift that Christ has given to all of us, and that is why we celebrate his birth.
    You are definitely welcome to celebrate as you wish in your home. I’m sure you spend time sharing the Christ story with your kids, as we did when ours were young.
    However, there are those who want to replace Christ with something else, or worse, politicize Christmas to create a stage for their own agenda. Do you think atheists really think they are going to stop Christmas by putting signs on buses or on Facebook recommending people celebrate something else? Of course not, but it gets them noticed, and perhaps they will get some to consider their political position for a moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t at least part of John Gee’s intention on calling his living friends the “fallen” on Memorial Day.

  23. While dismissing what others do as insignificant — and I freely grant that what I do doesn’t count for much when ranked against D-Day and Gettysburg (but then, that’s true of what most people do, and it’s true of what all people do most of the time) — it seems odd to express outrage over what was, after all, a harmless little blog post, even a kind one. Millions of Americans didn’t spend Memorial Day solemnly reflecting on the sacrifices at Utah Beach and Khe Sanh and Ramadi, but, rather, picnicking with their families, water skiing, camping, cycling, and barbecuing. John Gee probably spent his Memorial Day pretty well, I’m guessing. He doesn’t deserve damnation.

  24. It seems that Rame has either not read D&C 123 or has forgotten what it says. Simple fact is, we are all engaged in a war with far more eternal consequences. Yes, my brother was in Viet Nam, my cousin in the Tet Offensive, a cousin killed in Korea, et. al. So, while you (Rame) are free to express your opinion, don’t expect that we are all going to agree with you regarding the changes at the Maxwell Institute that has moved it from its original direction and purpose of founding, to a much more lame approach. It isn’t defending the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is what Peterson, Midgley, Roper, Gee, Hamblin, et. al. were doing. They were anxiously involved in the cause of the war of defending the faith. In my opinion, souls lost eternally are a far more serious problem than those lost for mortality only. But, that is just my opinion.

  25. Stan, I actually support Daniel Peterson and the others when it came to the actions done at MI. I think there could have been a better way of doing things, especially in how Daniel was fired while overseas, etc. That said, it is a war that continues with Mormon Interpreter and at FAIR. It isn’t dead, but I expect the new defenders will flourish in the wild as they did for several decades before BYU absorbed FARMS.

    As I said, I read John Gee’s posts, many are worthwhile. I just think he took an important day and tried to play politics with it. Had he just posted it without calling them the “fallen”, I would not have had a problem with it. Sometimes even the good guys need to be called out when they do something that could have been done in a better way. I wouldn’t want the Maxwell Institute to have trumpeted their victories over their “frenemies” on that day, either. I hope that all can learn to get along, even though there are new structures now in place that are not going to go away any time soon. The sooner we all accept that and move forward, and forgive the actions of the past, we can begin to provide quality apologetic information to the world again.

  26. I guess it is a matter of perception. What has been done, while apologetics continue, was, IMO, very damaging to the great work of Gee, Peterson, et. al. And I think it deserves to be called out. Blair Hodges, even though he proclaims to allow all to post on the NAMI blog, cut me off and from posting there at all, simply because I asked a simple question (luckily I kept the proof of the incident). I guess I’m not convinced that things will just go on as they are currently constituted at NAMI. As was said earlier, those who are at the head of any organization won’t last forever. And you are right, apologetics are not dead, but while you may have an understanding of what happened and hold it as a bad action on the current leaderships part, there are many who do not know or understand what has happened. I think Gee’s post was spot on and in a very real sense, “they” are the fallen, or at least it appears so to many people. If you don’t like what you feel is Gee’s politicizing of the event, that is okay, and you are even entitled to call what you feel as outrage. I’m merely pointing out that not all of us agree with that assessment and there is a larger picture here than just those fallen in mortal war. For myself, I’ve had too much of the “time to move on and forget” attitude. What happened is outrageous. Since I have not been following you I don’t know if you have ever called what the current group at NAMI did as “outrageous.” If not, I think you should have. Again, I re-iterate D&C 123 and make the point that the issues here are larger than fallen mortals. Perhaps we will just have to agree to disagree.

  27. Actually, “Interpreter” — there IS no “Mormon Interpreter” — is not at war with the Maxwell Institute. “Interpreter” has, so far as I’m aware, posted notice on its website of every Maxwell Institute event and publication since “Interpreter” was launched. (The Maxwell Institute hasn’t reciprocated, but I don’t expect it to do so.)

  28. I hope I haven’t given the impression that I thought there was a war between Interpreter and Maxwell Institute. That is not what I was referring to. To clarify, I was merely pointing out that whereas FARMS/Maxwell Institute were founded with the idea of providing data to help members and non members alike in the “war of souls,” the Maxwell Institute seems to have moved away from the original agenda and that the war for eternal salvation of souls is far more important than wars that end someone’s mortal life.

  29. Daniel, If I gave the impression that there is a war between Interpreter and MI, then my apology. I think the Interpreter is a very valuable tool, and I applaud all that have made it what it is.
    I also applaud John Gee for much of his blogging. I just felt that he stepped over a line on this one.
    I also fear that as long as some people seek to keep a war or enmity going between the two factions, there will never be a healing. And I also fear that some members and non-members will focus more on the division than on the more important aspects of the gospel. It is now a distraction. We shouldn’t ask people to choose between Interpreter and MI (and I’m certain you do not want this, either).

    Interpreter is providing some excellent articles and podcasts. MI is becoming a powerhouse through acquisition of SaltPress and Kirk Caudle’s podcast. Both have some excellent people on their boards and writing for them. There is room for both. I definitely think Gerald Bradshaw handled things poorly. That said, I want to see both groups move forward. I don’t think that can happen if one group is viewed as fallen or as eternal victims, especially when insiders are thinking in those terms.
    But again, I think Gee politicize what is a very important holiday for me. I know several who have given their lives for our country. They and their families do not see them as victims nor as “fallen” (except in the sense of physical death). They see them as heroes that have positively impacted the success of the nation and freedom’s cause.
    When I read your blogs or articles, I do not think, “Gee, it is too bad that Daniel Peterson is still a fallen victim, out of sorts with BYU and everyone else.” Instead, I thank God that there is a Daniel Peterson that continues to provide such great research and thought. I think the same of all those on John Gee’s list. They are not fallen. They should not be compared to those who have died. Nor are they victims in the sense that they cannot rise up and do new and wonderful things, such as you have done with Interpreter, etc.

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