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After actually reading the essay, I added the quotes and commentary. The essay, of course, is a transcription of a speech by McCullough to an audience of college students and faculty.

"It seems to me that the official LDS view of its own history is that everything had to happen the way it happened; there is no big-picture contigency allowed. In that sense, the LDS view of history is unhistorical. It assumes that things simply couldn't have happened differently."

You may be right. But I do not share this view. Take Missouri for example.

The D&C makes it pretty clear that the Saints were driven out of Missouri for, among other things, unrighteousness.

Everyone likes to draw the obvious comparisons between Moses and Brigham Young and the Mormon and Israelite Exodus. But they draw the wrong comparisons.

Missouri, not Utah, is the "Promised Land" for Mormons. We were not allowed to remain in the promised land because of unrighteousness. In a sense, we are still wandering in the wilderness. Like Moses, Brigham Young never led the Mormons into "Caanan."

But Mormon culture often ignores these comparisons. Instead, they like to make silly comparisons with the Sea of Galilea and the Dead Sea connected by the River Jordan, with Utah Lake and the Great Salt Lake connected by the River Jordan.

But in my view, the Mormons never reached the Promised Land. They are still wandering in the wilderness. But I think such a status would make many Mormons uncomfortable since it implies that we are still acting like the murmuring Israelites. Mormons I know (myself included) tend to enjoy self-congratulation more than calls to repentance.

I suspect this contracting of the amount of history taught is a natural result of the correlation effort that has become necessary as we have become a worldwide church. The historical "meat" is still available -- in fact there is more of it available and at our fingertips than ever before -- but the church-distributed materials of necessity focus on the "milk". It is now more up to us as individuals to study historical meat. The church will not spoon feed us.

Having said that, I don't think anyone will stop any of us from teaching more details in Gospel Doctrine or wherever if it seems appropriate.

Dave, I'm not sure that (2) is something I could agree with. It seems to me that the LDS view of history is very contingent, with God knowing those contingencies. (A sort of halfway position between what you say here and Blake Ostler's strong Libertarianism) Take the 116 pages. Did Joseph have to give them? What about the activities of the Mormons during the Illinois and Missouri Wars? Couldn't they have followed the revelations regarding such matters? Would that have affected the building of the temple in Missouri? I think one could give ennumerable examples of this sort.

Geoff, I think the one thing the church really needs to grapple with is the whole milk/meat issue. I think that part of the reason many find church boring is that it is always targeting people who don't know much about church. That is, new members or less committed ones. But those who are interested and do study, tend to have heard the things over and over again.

I'm not sure what the answers are to the problem. The current model though, seems oriented around strong members sacrificing by being bored out of the gourd. That's not to say hearing the same old things can't occasionally be important. We all neglect the basics at times. But sometimes hearing old things in new perspectives is helpful.

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