Announcing the 1st Semiannual LDS Friends & Foes Rendezvous

This year marks the 10th year that I’ve been involved with LDS blogging. TEN YEARS! Back then it was all new. Nobody knew if you were a dog. I was a guest blogger at the Feminist Mormon Housewives blog. Me!

Since then I have attracted a few Internet antagonists and I have written things that have antagonized others.

While I do not regret my honest, though sometimes clumsy, efforts to stand up for what I believe online, 10 years of watching LDS Internet battles has saddened me.

Between the effects of cyber-disinhibition, which lead people to say things online that they would never say in a face-to-face conversation, and the tendency of Internet discussion to super-size Wiio’s Laws of Communication, we have managed to dehumanize and demean each other in all kinds of ways.

Our online foes are often not real people to us but human-shaped containers into which we have poured all of our Internet-distorted perceptions and disagreements.

And that is why I am inviting you all to the 1st Semiannual LDS Friends & Foes Rendezvous. Continue reading

The Mormon Intellectuals’ Trojan Horses

[The Millennial Star is pleased to welcome Jeff G. as a guest blogger with a fantastic post that should be shared and read widely.]

“When the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions…

“Those professors were all corrupt… “they draw near to [God] with their lips, but their hearts are far from [Him], they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts [source]

Personal Intro

As many of you in the bloggernacle might remember, about 8 years ago I left the church for intellectual reasons. While the exact arguments for my departure are not terribly important to this particular essay what is important is that I had gradually built up and reinforced several intellectual principles and values to a point where intellectual arguments could undermine my faith. I felt, at the time, that I was doing the right thing in following the arguments where they clearly (or so they seemed to me) led, all the while being upfront, honest and clear about my reasons for leaving. I have since realized, however, that my decision was a mistake which I will unfortunately never be able to take back. Furthermore, I can now see with the relative clarity of hindsight many of the ways in which I subconsciously allowed intellectual values to infect, transform and eventually undermine my faith. My deconversion was similar to a chess match wherein earlier, seemingly innocuous moves are later seen to be crucial stage-setting for a masterful killing stroke. In this essay I wish to expose some of these seemingly innocuous, stage-setting moves – these intellectual Trojan Horses, as I will call them – for what they are. Continue reading

The Light of Christ: Are We Human or Are We Energy?

In the above TED talk by MIT-trained artist, scientist and engineer, Jeff Lieberman, shares his ideas on the origin and nature of human beings. He talks about how we are not simply a single physical entity, but are made up of a community of trillions of cells which are, in turn, composed of trillions of atoms. Taking it down to the sub-atomic level, Lieberman suggests that the atoms that make up our body are composed of energy. That energy, he posits, came from a single source — the single, undifferentiated energy that led to the Big Bang. Everything in the Universe, including us, came from this one source and shares this energy in common. He goes into a lot more than this, but this is what I wanted to focus on in this post.

Watch the video and let me know how much you think it has in common with what I am going to say now.

I recently led a discussion on Doctrine and Covenants, section 88 in which we talked about the Light of Christ as described in that section. When I later saw this TED video, I was amazed by how many parallels between the two philosophies jumped out at me. For your convenience, I’ll quote D&C 88:6-13 here.

6 He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;

7 Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.

8 As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made;

9 As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made;

10 And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand.

11 And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;

12 Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—

13 The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.

Notice how Lieberman’s ideas approximate what is said here. The light (or “energy”) of Christ originates at one source and then goes forth to fill the immensity of space. Everything in the universe is made from and composed of this light, including the Earth — I think we can assume that the inference is that we, ourselves, are also made up of this light. The scripture explicitly states that this light enlightens our eyes and quickens our understanding and it is this light that is in all things and gives life to all things. The light is equated with the governing law of the Universe and with God’s own power.

I don’t agree with everything that Lieberman says in the video, but a lot of it makes perfect sense. I know that there is some discrepancy still among scientists regarding the exact nature of the particles (electrons, photons, neutrinos, quarks, etc.) that make up atoms, but some studies that I have read indicate that the smallest particles at the most fundamental level may be made up of what is, essentially, light. If we accept that notion, then although our body seems to us to be very physical and solid, we are actually just a big bundle of light moving around very quickly. I am no scientist, but this makes a lot of sense to me.

If we are made up of light/energy that all comes from a single source at the beginning of the Universe, then, as Lieberman argues, we have reason to feel a sense of commonality between our selves and every living being — everything in the Universe. There is something that we share that binds us all together. We should treat our neighbor as ourself!

This also gives us some insight into the type of intuition or communal consciousness and understanding that we should be able to tap into. If this light is in all of us — in all of our cells and our very molecules and atoms — then we share in this same light that created us and of which we are composed. As the scriptures says, this light illumines our eyes and “quickens” our understanding. This illumination is, by the way the scriptures defines it, available to all of us — to every living thing.

This could lead us into many other interesting discussions — but for now, what do you think of these ideas? What did you think of the video? Are Lieberman’s ideas really compatible with what I’ve quoted from D&C 88? Does he take too much from the idea of our eternal individual identity? If you have thoughts on this, please leave them in the comments below!

(This article is cross-posted from the blog Planting Mind Seeds. If you would like to see more like this, check out www.plantingmindseeds.com.)

The Parable of the Offensive Remedy

[ Cross posted from Sixteen Small Stones ]

For the kingdom of heaven is likened unto an hospital. And behold great plagues came upon the land, and the people were brought low by all manner of sickness; some with the pox, some with fevers, some with the palsy.

Théodule-Augustin-Ribot-The-Good-Samaritan

Therefore with great lore and wortcunning the master physician prepared remedies of bitter herbs and strong tonics. And so great was the number of the sick that the master physician called servants and sent them forth to carry the prescribed elixirs unto the sick that they might be healed. Continue reading

Rejecting the Living Prophets by Following Future Prophets

[Cross posted from Sixteen Small Stones]

kept-my-cupOne of the key doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that we have living prophets and apostles today who are authorized by God to receive revelations for the church and for the world. The scriptures are full of stories of how the people of the church rejected the messages of the living prophets, often justifying themselves by appealing to the words of previous prophets. Even Jesus was rejected by appealing to Moses or Abraham.

As President of the Twelve Apostles, Ezra Taft Benson warned: “Beware of those who would set up the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.” (Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, 1980)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained further: “…the most important difference between dead prophets and living ones is that those who are dead are not here to receive and declare the Lord’s latest words to his people. If they were, there would be no differences among the messages of the prophets.” (Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall, 1992)

I’ve noticed a troubling parallel among some progressive members of the church: Rejecting living prophets in favor of what they anticipate future prophets will do*. Continue reading