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The SL Trib article makes the following statement:

"In the charges, Adams said that Insider's View had damaged others' faith."

According to the True to the Faith article, apostasy isn't one of the "serious transgressions" worthy of discipline....

The debate returns to whether aggressively pushing limits or gentle nudging are more effective in changing accepted social/academic/religious norms. I tend to side with the 'make haste slowly' team. This morning it feels like one more scale has fallen from the eyes of the beast. I hope this gives unpopular thinkers courage.

I think the statement that Dave referred to is quite telling: "In the charges, Adams said that Insider's View had damaged others' faith.". I don't see that Palmer damaged faith, it was the reaction to warty church history that damaged faith. In other words, the lack of discourse with regards to these issues within church and the subsequent surprise and sometimes disgust that comes with learning about them damages faith. If one knows about these things, then they are better able to deal with them when they arise. If Palmer did not lie with reagrds to facts(interpretations or hypotheses are not lies), then he is blameless.

I have to disagree strongly. While there are warts in church history, how one presents them counts. To bring up the old example, if I meet a person inquiring about their appearance, how I answer is as important as the content of my answer. Some might wish that this wasn't so, that one can say anything, let the chips fall where they will, and it not matter. However I think it is hard to justify such a position ethically.

Further, as Palmer's reference to his "testimony" in the text suggests, there was far more going on in the text.

"And what did they talk about for six hours?"

You said yourself that the Stake leadership was probably ill-informed and ill-equipped to assess what, exactly, Palmer's book said, so I'm sure that a large part of it was going over aspects of his book with him.

I just hope there was a potty break in there somewhere.

One of the comments I saw in a news story was that Insider's View only sold 3,000 copies. That sounds low to me, but if true it means the book really couldn't have done much harm. For a bona fide "the book hurt me" claim, someone would have to (1) read the book and (2) suffer a harm that (3) would not have happened had the person not read the book. The claim I've seen alluded to that some lady investigating the Church read Palmer's book then did not join the Church doesn't cut it because she would likely not have joined even in the absence of Palmer's book (there are plenty of similar books out there). Furthermore, she would probably not claim she was harmed by Palmer's book and might even be grateful she read it. So I view the "people were harmed by Palmer's book" line as a hollow charge, just another way to say "we don't like what you say in your book."

If the book really damaged people's faith, I assume the next set of Church courts will be against Deseret Book managers who elected to stock the book for two years? Are the distributors any less culpable than the author? Which leads to an interesting inquiry: where did you buy your copy of Insider's View? I ordered mine direct from Signature.

I know at least one person in the DaMU who referenced Palmer's book in her resignation letter. If that happened not just once, but several times, the people who handle that sort of thing may have made the information known higher up the food chain. I think that people leaving, and citing the book, could certainly be viewed by the hierarchy as "people being hurt," even if the people themselves are not sad about leaving.

You also hit on the piece of this that is the most sore spot for me: the church sold the book, for quite some time.

I will refrain from making any of the cynical and snarky comments that bubble up in my brain as a result of this. Suffice it to say, that if the book was a problem, it was a problem immediately, not two years later, and the church should not have sold the book if it was problematic. They certainly review other books to see if they are in line with church teachings; the title and publisher alone should have given someone pause about the contents.

If heads roll at Deseret Book as a result of this, then it will at least make sense. But we probably won't ever know if that's the case, unless Sherri Dew steps down.

Dave, isn't your argument about the relative success of the danger akin to someone defending shooting their firearm in a residential area because no one got hit?

If it is the general class of action and not the success or competence of any particular actor, then it seems Palmer ought be judged upon what he did and not how well he did it.

Suffice it to say, that if the book was a problem, it was a problem immediately, not two years later, and the church should not have sold the book if it was problematic.

I'm very sympathetic to this view, although one can perhaps say that Dew's constriction of what is available at DB is a reflection of this problem. But, to be frank, no bookstore can possibly read every book it sells. It can at best go by the overviews provided and then customer response.

In either case this raises and interesting question regarding a possible double standard for authors and bookstores. Are bookstore owners responsible for what they sell in the same way an author is responsible for what they write? For instance is a used bookstore that sells anti-Mormon material so that apologists can obtain hard to obtain materials guilty? What about one who sells a philosophy book defending atheism?

It's a hard line to draw, but I tend to think a bookstore is responsible in a different way from an author. On the other hand DB's recent moves to restrict sales to what is acceptable within the Mormon community might make things different.

But, to be frank, no bookstore can possibly read every book it sells. It can at best go by the overviews provided and then customer response.

I would agree, but if it were an (potentially) excommunicable offense to write it, I would expect that the organization taking offense to not sell it. Seems to make sense to me. But then again if DB never sold the book, it would have been accused of censorship by the DAMU (not that DB cares much about them, since they presumably don't buy many books there). DB is in a no-win situation for many folks.

Regarding your earlier response, I don't think the presentation of the data in Palmer's case warranted a "nasty attack" label ala Ed Decker. On the contrary, one of the things Peterson found particularly damaging was its non-confrontational tone.

I'm afraid I didn't quite understand Peterson's whole point, unless it was the "a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down" worry. But in any cases I don't think I said anything about nasty attack. Indeed on most of the blogs I've commented on I've suggested that focusing on how well Palmer wrote rhetorically and how successful he was ought not matter too much.

Of course, I'm not really criticizing Deseret Book -- good for them for carrying the book. The irony is that a book that's been sitting on the shelves of DB can then be redefined as heretical or faith-threatening and its author tried for his membership. If DB, in the business of selling Mormon books and quite deferential to the sentiments of LDS leaders, didn't know enough to not stock Insider's View, how could anyone have known?

What would be an improvement? One could avoid this kind of ad hoc adjudication in one of several ways: (1) set up an index of prohibited books run by The Committee; (2) publish clear guidelines on what content or tone would make a book unacceptable for DB and make its author subject to church discipline; or (3) get out of the heretical book business, based perhaps on the fact that it does the Church's image more harm than good.

If DB, in the business of selling Mormon books and quite deferential to the sentiments of LDS leaders, didn't know enough to not stock Insider's View, how could anyone have known?

Dave, aren't you in fact providing a justification for the church's actions? That it was necessary to raise the issue of what is or isn't acceptable theologically?

The issue is raised but not clearly resolved. And it would seem like a memo to Deseret Book management would be a more efficient response. Church courts are not policymaking bodies, they are local adjudicatory councils. The Committee would seem to be the operational source of policy, but it wasn't even publicly acknowledged for the first five years it operated, it isn't talked about even now, and it doesn't issue public statements. No wonder people are left guessing.

Dave the issue is letting the body know what is inappropriate. And often you only know what is inappropriate when you encounter it. My point was to agree that if DB didn't know, how could anyone else? Someone had to raise the issue. The issue wasn't just DB selling it but letting the body of the church know the positions espouse were out of keeping with the church.

I'd agree things aren't clearly resolved, but then I don't think one can clearly resolve such issues.

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