« Looking Back on the McKay Era | Main | Misquoting Jesus »

Comments

Watching that thread develop was like watching a slow motion train wreck. It was sickening, but I couldn't turn away.

I agree with you - Midgely scored some points and his arguments carried the day, at least for me, although those arguments could have been about 90% more succinct. But I knew, just knew, that he couldn't just let the arguments speak for themselves and stop there. Instead we had to get the silly rant (since withdrawn by Midgely himself but repeated and amplified by others, including The Iron Rod himself) about RT's apostacy and faithlessness.

I'm glad FARMS exists. I find much (> 80%) of what they do useful and helpful. Much of the criticism of the church is based on silly arguments, and FARMS does a decent job of knocking down the straw men. They would do themselves and the rest of us a favor if they stopped there, and they usually do. But now and then somebody sets the straw man on fire with a flamethrower, pulverizes the ashes, and sows salt in the field where the straw was grown.

Thanks, Mark -- I didn't see the comment thread happen in real time, just the wreckage after the event. I'm not sure you can blame Midgley for thinking RT is disaffected. His blog logo and title don't really convey "I'm an active Mormon," and his willingness to criticize FARMS signals "tool of Satan" to anyone affiliated with FARMS. They seem to view the category "liberal Mormon" as a contradiction in terms. In fact, that sounds like a good topic for a future blog post.

i have no idea if midgley made any good points; my internet attention span tops out at about 2,000 words. one of the greatest displays of logorrhea i've witnessed since "prying into palmer!"

"I'm not sure you can blame Midgley for thinking RT is disaffected."

I disagree.

(1) RT's post focused solely on the substance of the arguments made in Lou's review. That fact should at least have given Lou pause. That is, after all, one of his main criticisms of his critics -- that all they do is call him mean and nasty, never discussing the facts. So how does he respond when a critic takes him on purely on substance? He wraps up his extended rant with an explicit and unfounded attack on RT's faith.

(2) The fact that RT may be disaffected with FARMS and with Lou's review surely does not make him a disaffected Mormon, even in Lou's mind. So what was Lou thinking? Was it reasonable for Lou to wonder what RT's agenda was? Sure. Does that justify jumping to the conclusion that RT is an apostate obsessed with justifying his "unfaith"? No way.

(3) And the name of RT's blog doesn't get Lou off the hook here. Like most blog names, it is at most ambiguous. In any event, were this the source for Lou's assumptions, he might have taken a moment out of writing his 11,000 word treatise to look into what might be behind the name "Latter-Day Liberation Front." In so doing, he might have stumbled across RT's inaugural post, which explains:

"A point of clarification about our title is necessary. I want to make it as clear as possible that we aren’t interested in liberating people from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I myself am a faithful member of the church, as is my wife. I think the church has a great deal to offer; in particular, the church plays a central role in bringing many people to Jesus Christ. This is, I think, invaluable."

RT continues:

"So this site isn’t about liberation from the LDS church. Rather, it’s about liberation and the LDS church. I want a place to share my thoughts and feelings about political issues (from an LDS perspective), explorations regarding theological ideas, and frustrations with social problems that I encounter (both within the LDS community and in the broader world). In general, my belief is that Christ always intends to set us free, a topic deserving further discussion at a later date. For this reason, my bias is toward finding liberating ways to think about issues and liberating approaches to problems."

(4) But even if Lou could not help himself in leaping to baseless conclusions about RT's status, and even if he could not be bothered to make any effort to see if these assumptions had any merit, the ensuing "trainwreck" still could have been avoided had he simply followed RT's example and kept the debate focused on substance. Do I blame Lou for initiating this public bout name-calling? Absolutely. I see no way around it.

Frankly, as much as I love FARMS and a lot of Mormon Apologetics, Midgley has been among my least favorite of the group. He argues too much against the person and not enough the substance (or lack thereof) of the writer's works. He isn't especially mean, as what he says is arguable facts. It's just that I would rather know what was wrong with the original arguments made by the critics. That is why, as much as I like "Iron Rod" and detest the so-called "An Insider's View of Mormon Origins," I am not going to spend much time reading the response.

For what it's worth, I'll give a future Son of Perdition's view on the whole thing (or at least that's where I'll end up if Mr Iron Rod is correct).

It was extremely painful to me to watch other Mormons attack a man who I've come to see as one of the most reasoned defenders of the faith to be found in cyberspace. RT is a class act, and has never hidden the fact that he believes in the LDS Church.

This idea that anyone straying from the BR McConkie/JF Smith line is a tare among the wheat is disgusting.

On most days, I'm happily resigned to the fact that my wife and kids, and probably grandkids, will be members of the LDS Church. After reading that feeding frenzy, I'm not happy about that situation at all.

I know the Iron Rod rather well. He is a good man, but is much like Lou in many ways, in that they tend to see things solely in black and white terms. Either you are for them or against them.

While many of us occasionally quote JFS and BRM, we tend to choose living prophets to follow. But there are many that still live in the shadows of powerful speakers, and JFS and BRM were definitely very powerful and influential in their day. It bothers many Iron Rodders to see that influence wane, as the Church moves to emphasize different aspects of the gospel today than they did 30 years ago.

A man cannot attack the historical root of the Mormon faith, which is the honesty of Joseph Smith in his telling of the First Vision and the gold plates, without attacking the truth, truth that may only be known by a divine witness to each person. Grant Palmer clearly throws doubt upon the honesty and integrity of Joseph Smith and his successors as leaders of the Church. How can RT claim to have a testimony and help Grant Palmer do this by attacking his critics? It doesn't make any sense at all. I don't care how much RT comes across as "one of the most reasoned defenders of the faith to be found in cyberspace." Choosing to defend Palmer by attacking his critics is not defending the faith. It is helping Palmer attack the faith.

As for straying from the "BR McConkie/JF Smith line," why would anyone with a testimony do this as long as the living prophets do not? And I have never seen any unbiased or convincing evidence that they have, merely the ungrounded assertions of various worldly sophisticates that they have.

I will respond to each comment. I am honored to have all this attention far away from the orginal site. I gave primary attention to Palmer's claims about Hoffmann's bizarre tale because it is his only original contribution to Mormon studies. In addition, it is the key to his understanding of Joseph Smith. The other portions of his book merely set out the views of a few others who have tried to explain away Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. They are not, however, as he claims, the views of professional Mormon historians generally. His critics include all of those once associated with the Smith Institute, Richard Bushman, James Allen, Davis Bitton and so forth. Those who like the book do so despite the fact that professional LDS historians see it as deeply flawed.

1. Mark IV - my surname is Midgley. Arguments do not speak for themselves, nor does evidence. Try sitting there before your computer and just let an argument speak for itself. Ok, what you meant is that I provided far too much detail. I am not sure if you had in mind "Prying into Palmer" or my response to Roasted. The reason I could not cut my original essay down to a page or two is that I was doing what is called intellectual history--tracing motivations, sources and so forth. And I was dealing with claims about Hoffmann's fairy tale that are false. I thought it necessary to set out the evidence for my conclusion in detail. And I liked having Roasted respond to my essay. I was trying to honor him by taking him seriously. A one-page response would have merely been opining. I see what I do as a serious intellectual endeavor. I am not doing what is often done on blogs, boards and lists. The internet is not often the place for serious scholarship.

2. The mistake I made about Roasted did not flow from not understanding his webpage. I just mixed him up, very unfortunately, with someone else. I cannot figure out how this happened. I certainly regret it. I am troubled by signs that others want to make the same mistake about Roasted. Those who are not fond of Palmer's book should be cautious about those who, as Roasted has explained, merely want to trash my essay. Doing that obviously does not put such a one in Palmer's camp. I suspect that Roasted holds opinions similar to mine about the merits of Palmer's book. He objections were to "Prying into Palmer." If I got something wrong in that essay, I want to know about it. But I am not happy to be subjected to insults and ridicule or to be lambasted by the false claim that I am attacking the person and not dealing with arguments. When I go into detail about argument, I seem to have troubled people who want slogans and bald assertions. I clearly made a mistake in "Prying" by identifying Anne Royall as the editor of Paul Pry's Weekly Bulletin. It really did please me that Roasted figured that out. Doing that impressed me and indicated that, unlike almost all the criticisms I have seen, Roasted took my essay seriously. I really do like that. So I tried to take his criticism seriously. But please notice that those with deep ideological commitments just were not interested in a serious intellectual exchange.

3. Mike, you should not boast about having a short attention span. (See comments above.) When launching an insult, work on ways of not wounding yourself in the process. You can do better. Smile, relax, and realize that this is a game. Learn to play by academic rules and not what you see on blogs, boards and lists.

4. Randy B. needs to provide a series of examples of the complaint he makes. These should be taken from my essays. Please send these to me at [email protected] If Randy is right, then I have a problem that I need to work on. But I wonder if Randy has examples, since he makes it clear, I believe, that he will not even bother to read my response to Roasted--it would take too much time. I am sort of amused by those who know I am a monster but boast of not being willing to read what I have written. Take a page from Roasted. Try to find real problems. Doing that would be a real contribution.

5. Jetboy clearly does not like what I write, but I am not clear why. He should try setting out his reasons and then he should send them to me in private and not in a public theater like a blog. I am serious.

6. Capt Jack should not blame Mormons in general for my stupid remark about Roasted. Mormons are not responsible for my offensive mistake. I am that one who is responsible. I think that I have already admitted my error. I was sick when Nate Oman brought it to my attention. I expressed my regret for having made it. He must know all of this. Can we not now move on? Is it not possible for Capt Jack to attend to all the rest of what I posted or some of the essays I have published? Or does a silly and offensive mistake on my part render everything else worthless? If I had not made that deplorable mistake, would ye old Captain now hold a different opinion? Or did he focus on something about which he could complain? What say ye, CJ?

I await both public more public spankings. And I look forward to some private, productive exchanges.

Nice of you to host Prof. Midgley's response and the resulting discussion at your weblog, John. You are certainly free to disagree with RT, but it's not like Palmer is a "marked man" such that all other members of the Church are precluded from discussing his book or from speaking in favor of some of his ideas. The LDS Church does not maintain an index of prohibited books or prohibited persons. Nor do I think RT was really "attacking" Palmer's critics, just disagreeing with some points. One can disagree without attacking and that seems to me to be what RT was doing.

Rats. I thought I had just posted the last word. Gerald Smith may know John Redelfs well. John is an internet friend from way back. I have never met him, though I once spent two weeks having a look around the Inside Passage and then an additional three or four days in Ketchikan. I did not know John lived there or I would have looked him up.

Gerald may know John Redelfs really well. But I do not think that Gerald knows me at all well. If you have encountered people like Dan Peterson, Kevin Barney, Nate Oman, Jim Faulconer, or Richard Bushman, then you may have some idea where I fit in the Church. Try reading the FARMS Review. In the forthcoming issue, I will have provided the editor's introduction. Read this and see what you think.

Of course, like each of the above, I insist that Joseph Smith was telling the truth about certain crucial things. No one should have even a slight doubt about this matter. To deny this, I have argued in many essays, is to cut the heart out of the faith of the Saints. This should explain my interest in Grant Palmer's book. But I do not like being shoved into a corner or put in a box. If someone in my Ward insists on quoting Cleon Skousen, I just groan inside and try hard to keep my mouth shut. Then I blow some steam when I get home. I have never given Elder McConkie's writings any attention. Why? I always had a feeling that I would not agree with some things. I am not about to pick a fight with an Apostle. Sorry, that is just the way I am. So I avoided reading Mormon Doctrine. Ok, I glanced at it in a bookstore and decided it would be better not to read it. Does this give you an idea of where I stand? I hope so. If not, open the Encyclopedia of Mormonism and turn to the essay on "Theology." I wrote that essay. That essay may help you to understand me better.

Dave, I disagree. Roasted was attacking my essay. So what? I have no problem with that. If I really goofed, I want to know about it. I am not hung up on the word attack. I do not get in a knot over attacks. I sort of enjoy them and I often learn from them, just as I learn from reading even or especially the most passionate critics of things I hold sacred. But there is, of course, a sense in which Roasted was not attacking. He was not mean spirited or nasty. There was nothing personally insulting. That is, he was not in any sense doing what I am constantly and, I believe, wrongly accused of doing by those who cannot engage and argument or who do not have a real response to what I have written. In that sense Roasted was not attacking me at all. Did I not say that I enjoyed seeing what Roasted had written? I think I did.

Just to add a bit of a tangent. I was going to write a post on this but Dave's comments here are much better.

It seems to me that there are two interesting aspects of criticism of Mormon history and theology. The first, which most focus on, is the arguments themselves. But the seoond is the sociology and history of the act of criticizing.

I can fully understand those who wish to only deal with limited arguments. That's fair. But I think it unfortunate when other aspects are examined that this is inexorably seen as inappropriate ad homen. Further this "meta-discussion" of the whole genre of criticism seems to be conducted in an astounding form of hypocrisy.

One can, for instance, discuss the history of BYU and others actions towards critics. One can analyze the reasons for these actions and even form theories as to why. One can conduct blog discussions, essays, and radio shows on the subject. It's fair to draw parallels to everything from McCarthy to Galileo's persecutors to Spinoza's excommunicators. One can even go Freudian and compare the Church Office Buidling to a giant phallus. But if folks try to analyze in the opposite direction, for good or bad, it is somehow out of bounds.

Now I'm not going to say that most of the analysis of the meta-issues is always good. It seems, on average, to be neither better nor worse than the more narrow discussions and arguments. But surely it shouldn't be out of bounds.

What galls me though is a lot of the hypocrisy in this. Just because one is engaging with these meta-issues and just because one is trying to understand them via connection with other historical events doesn't mean one is engaging in ad homen reasoning nor does it mean one is being academically illegitimate. Far from it.

Now sometimes folks on either side will cross the line in terms of good manners. But it seems to me that those making the short quips saying how bad it all is often are the ones engaging in the most ad homen.

I've certainly read some of Midgley's articles that while not directly engaging the arguments were still powerfully thoughtful. His one on the liberal Protestant theologian Tillich still sticks with me. (At least I think that was Midgley - forgive me if I've confused authors.)

What bothers me isn't the debate about whether good manners are in order. I'm fully agreed there and think there's plenty of blame to go around there. What worries me is the insinuation often made that meta-discussions are themselves off limits.

Thanks, Clark, I've now learned a new fifty-cent term: meta-discussion. I'd agree meta-discussion of the author of a book or text is relevant: I always read the jacket blurb about the author of a book to get a sense of her credentials and perspective on the topic at hand. I find it frustrating to read something that seems to be enlightening on a topic without knowing who wrote it or what their background is.

While I tend to think arguments ought to be discussed on their merits separate from considerations relating to the author, I recognize that as a practical matter bracketing the author from the text is difficult. It may not even be desirable as a theoretical matter when it appears authors are hiding a strong bias or even misrepresenting data or arguments. In such a case objectively evaluating the text may be impossible without discussing the author's motivations and background.

I suppose it's worth noting (using this terminology) that a large percentage of non-LDS discussion of the Book of Mormon is really meta-discussion about authorship, etc., rather than actual discussion of the text.

Kudos to Bro. Midgley for making it clear that he made a mistake regarding who RT is and what his motivations are/were. Inaccurate claims about my friend RT were the only thing that really bugged me about this kerfuffle. Lou's willingingness to apologize for an honest mistake reflects very well on him I think.

It is nothing against Midgley as a person. If it was that then I would certainly write privately in an e-mail where there is less public spectacle. As is, his works are public and my disagreements with Midgley's works are equally public as they are about them - and not the author as an individual.

To be honest, I am not familiar with all Midgley's works. This might be because of the few I have read have been the most publicized. Those I have read are a disappointment to me.

Two other examples I have read both had to do with "No Man Knows My History" by F.M. Brodie. Just like the current "Prying into Palmer," it had less to do with the work than it did the author. In the case of Brodie, it examined the history of the book's production and the reception of mostly secular critics. It was interesting and certainly explored the development of text and viewpoint. Yet, I found the approach of secondary importance to the textual criticism itself.

I guess what I want is to know why something is right or wrong. Where are the agreements and disagreements of the work that has caused controversy? Otherwise the criticism borders on ad homen, although it doesn't cross the line. I guess I am one of those people Clark said would rather deal with "limited arguments," and see "genre of criticism" as background noise for the "meaty" arguments.

Maybe this Midgley dude has grown. G-d knows I’m not perfect. But I still find most LDS apologists embarrass the heck out of me as a freethinking LDS person.

Lou,

Let me first say that I agree with Geoff that you are to be commended for explaining how this mixup started, and for cautioning those who seem not to have gotten the message. That this was an honest case of mistaken identity does much to allay my concerns.

I hope you have not taken my comments here and elsewhere as an attack on you and your life's work generally. I did not intend them that way. I am not charging you with being a serial offender, and I certainly am not calling you a "monster." Still, your charges against RT in this instance were offensive, undeserved, and out of order. I came to his defense as no one else had, and because RT is someone for whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration. In retrospect, however, I think it fair to say that I (like many others) did not do a particularly good job of following the model set out in D&C 121:43 in making my criticisms. For that, you have my apologies.

By the way, I did read your post before I commented. As I've noted elsewhere, I think you make a number of interesting substantive points. On the relative merits of this debate, however, I am merely a spectator, having not read either Palmer's book or the historical materials regarding Paul Pry. Had your post stopped there, I would have been happy to simply watch the debate unfold from the sidelines.

Best wishes.

Clark, I appreciate your comments. I think that the essay on Paul Tillich that you have in mind might have been a thing I did called "Religion and Ultimate Concern: An Encounter with Paul Tillich's Theology," Dialogue Vol. 1, No. 2 (Summer 1966): 55-71. That essay got me mentioned in Time magazine. Back then Dialogue drew a bit of attention. It was reported in Time that I had provided an "unusually sympathetic account of Paul Tillich's theology" or something like that. That remark got me into a lot of trouble with people in Religious Education at BYU. They thought that what this meant was that I was not a believer.

Well, I also got into difficulties because I was the only one who would not keep silent about the utter nonsense being paraded around by Cleon Skousen. I was the first to object to his nonsense. And I also objected to those who wanted to push the John Birch line in the Church and at BYU. This got me into deep trouble with powerful people, including the then BYU President.

It was only much later that a Vice President at BYU talked Religious Education into having me address that group. (One must remember that it is not a college, though it has a Dean. There is actually a reason behind this.) I scolded those folks for not taking an interest in critics of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. The fact is that none of them had give any attention to the kinds of criticisms that were then just appearing on the horizon. Instead, they were pushing their favorite Apostle's dogmatic theology. I do not want to explain what I mean by that remark other than to point out that it is silly to like Dan, me and...well I have already gone too far. What I want to say is that, other than holding that the faith of the Saints rests on events that in some crucial ways must have actually taken place, though I am not sure how divine beings appear to human beings, and hence also that there was a real Lehi colony that somehow ended up somewhere in the Americas, I am, I guess, what some would have once identified as a "liberal." By that I do not mean what I call a cultural Mormon, however.

I am not at all bothered by the obvious fact that, though our faith is in several ways historical, our way of telling that story has its flaws. I would love to see some of these sorted out. And I think that our enemies have forced us to do some of this. I have said in print that I think that it is possible that our enemies, however one understands that term, are providential.

But, since I do not like what people call sanitized history, I do not like that sort of thing being done by Grant Palmer, his publisher or publicist. My aversion to hagiography thus extends to efforts to turn that fellow into a heroic figure. This is simply not the case. Since there are both mercenary and ideological reasons for pushing a tall tale about Palmer, I have become a kind of Paul Pry sniffing out bits of nonsense in that tale. This has, much like my objections to Skousen and the Birch Society, gotten me into trouble. I think that the truth about these things is worth the trouble. Who would have known that Palmer started that book while on CES probation and that he either knowingly or unknowingly circulated the initial crude manuscript under a pseudonym, if I have not somehow turned up these facts? And I have believed that the truth about this matter is worth having in print, even if I am blasted for having brought it to the attention of anyone who might wish to know.

Now it seems that Dan Peterson and I have become the most dangerous folks in Mormondom. Can that be possible? I hope not. I think that there are other explanations for those kinds of charges. To understand such matters, it is necessary to contextualize a debate that rages just beneath the surface. The issues turn out not to be the soundness of any given bit of speculation about the Mormon past, but they are political in the larger sense of that word. The reason is, as all kinds of people are now saying, that every human undertaking has a contextual, political setting. I have tried to explain and defend that perspective for people who have never heard of postmodern philosophy. I probably have not done this well, but I think it a project worth working on.

Please forgive typos. I just type these things and fire away.

Lou,

Wow, thank you for the context. I think your personal story would be shocking to many of your detractors. I now feel guilty of what others have accused you of, namely rushing to judgement about motivations. I think you showed a great deal of character in your apology.

I still think discussing the ideas first and the motivations second would be a stronger approach simply because of the realization that people are human and if something resonates with them for whatever reason, they get defensive about it.

You make a good argument about the fairness of using background. Too often it appears we are only allowed to question the motivations of those dead and unable to defend themselves from the attack of the historian.

Yes, if someone really believes that a valid approach then they should "buck up" when it is used in the same manner against one of their own. Being human, I am left unsure about how often we can be sure we ever fully understand and contextualize another's motivations.

It just seems to me there is a fine line that is walked between fighting hagiography and "gossip". You did your homework, I grant you (no pun intended). But at what point are we becoming the enemy we fight? It seems to me the Lord's Church should be able to take the higher ground.

Anyway, thank you and allow me to bury the sword.

Hi, all--I haven't had too much time in recent weeks to participate in the various conversations that have spiraled out of my post on Midgley's review of Palmer. This has been an extraordinarily busy professional period for me--even to the point that I've had to abandon my traditional pressure valve of participating in the LDS blogs.

Even today, I don't have the time for much of a discussion. Let me quickly say that I fully accept and very much appreciate Lou Midgley's apology and retraction of his mistaken remarks about my belief status.

My motivation in writing the original post was to make the minor contribution that I'm able to make toward improving the intellectual quality of our Mormon discourse. I'm heartened that Midgley has interpreted my remarks in that vein.

Mark, Randy, Geoff, and Capt. Jack--thanks for your kind words. I'm truly moved to find that I have friends like all of you.

I'm also only an observer as to the underlying substance of the dispute about Palmer's work and Midgley's essay (having not actually read them).

However, I did read RT's essay and really feel the need to address the following statement from John Redelfs:

How can RT claim to have a testimony and help Grant Palmer do this by attacking his critics? It doesn't make any sense at all. I don't care how much RT comes across as "one of the most reasoned defenders of the faith to be found in cyberspace." Choosing to defend Palmer by attacking his critics is not defending the faith. It is helping Palmer attack the faith.

This is both false and dangerous. I am an absolute believer in the historicity of the Book of Mormon, that Joseph Smith did actually see God the Father and Jesus Christ, that Joseph did have the "gold" plates and translated them by the power of god. I say this to make clear that I completely disagree with Palmer (or anyone else) who attempts to undermine the historicity of the Book of Mormon or the credibility of the Prophet Joseph.

HOWEVER, I believe it is totally appropriate to require that LDS apologists get their facts and their arguments right when "they defend the faith." I believe LDS apologists do a very important work, but their credibilty depends on their making good arguments. In this general dust-up Bro. Midgley has been fairly open about inviting scrutiny of his work to help ensure accuracy. This is exactly what LDS apologists need.

John Redelfs' claim that RT/JNS is helping Palmer attack our faith is completely false. In fact the opposite is true, he's defending the faith by challenging an LDS apologist to get his facts straight and his arguments right. Nowhere did RT/JNS agree with Palmer on the merits re Book of Mormon authenticity, Joseph's credibility, etc. Challenging Bro. Midgley to do his job correctly is certainly not an attack on our faith.

To put it another way, if I had the time and inclination to read Palmer's work and Midgley's review and felt there were problems, I would be willing to do just what RT/JNS did because I believe that the work our apologists do is too important (both for the good and bad it can do). And I have a burning testimony that the Book of Mormon is exactly what it claims to be.

Jettboy, I'd be sympathetic to your criticism were there not typically several reviews of the same book. How can one take fault for one meta-analysis when there are several essays (typically rarely mentioned in the blogs) that do address the key arguments? Instead everyone takes up arms on the meta-discussion, ignores the actual discussion, takes the meta-discussion to be typical of FARMs and then blasts them for not having any real discussion.

I think there are valid criticisms to be made of FARMS. I just wish people would make them instead of the rather silly ones that often come up. (Not meaning you - just that this is a frequent discussion on mailing lists and blogs and has been for a few years.)

I don't think it was the Dialogue article. As I recall you used a discussion of Tillich and his "interesting" sexual interests as a kind of metadiscussion of many approaches to religion. I suspect one could put it as the question of how practical our religion is. I could have sworn it was in one of the FARMS Reviews of Books from the late 90's. Searching FARMS website though I can't seem to find it.

Perhaps I'm mistaken and it was Dan Peterson. He has this essay which seems fairly close to what I recalled. But thank you for the link to that essay in Dialogue. I've only read a few short works by Tillich but am quite influenced by Heidegger, Levinas and others. I admit I always found Tillich wanting in my readings of him although it's been so long since I have read him that a hard time recalling why.

I should add, in advance, that anyone criticizing this track should realize that in the Academy similar metadiscussions of thinkers have been done and been accepted. For instance there are some famous analyses of the philosopher Michael Foucault in terms of his obsession with S&M in the San Francisco gay culture of the late 70's. Did this reflect on his approach to Nietzsche? Does it illuminate his writings on sexuality and power relations? Does it raise the question of nihilism in his thought? Sometimes the author and text can't be separated the way some wish. The very meanings within the text expose the life and the life the text.

Lou's a class act. One who (like aloe history's myrrh effective advocators) doesn't let his learning curve paralyze him from his effective advocacies.

I've read throught this thread, and I'm glad peace has been found. OTOH, I was very ... amazed that someone I only know over the internet (Lou Midgley), but whom I now know for some years, was painted as a kind of scowling dog in the first place (not only on this blog, but on others as well), and how someone whom I know to not only be intellectually honest, but also actually VERY kind, fair and who is not in the least a "black and white thinker", can be seen as narrow-minded and someone who knows no colors or shades between white and grey.

I wonder how this misperception, whatever its reason, colors the way people read Lou's texts, and I do think that this is a big issue.

The same can be said for MMM (Dan Peterson), a man of great learning and friendly humor.

If you don't know those guys, and if you are biased by thinking they are kind of humorless persecutors of those who disagree with them, you will probably misunderstand all they write.

Likewise, the same can be said of anyone writing anything. And that's the reason why I really am glad Lou shares his often very personal knowledge about persons, and his readiness to give out the "meta- information".

To those who thought that Lou went against "the man" too much, instead of engaging the "argument", did it occur to you that the vast majority of the blog posts about Lou do not deal with the argument, but with the person, clearly being ad hominem per se?

This whole fiasco has been quite interesting. I must admit that I'm fairly unfamiliar with Midgley's work. I know he has a reputation for being an attack dog, but I'm way too unacquainted with what he's actually written to pass judgment. I will say that of the few things I've read, I thoroughly enjoyed the tongue-lashing he served to Skousen and his cohorts in his Dialogue review of The Naked Capitalist -- classic, classic stuff, though I must admit that the meanspiritedness of the piece was a big part of my enjoyment. But I also remember being very impressed by the thoroughness of the scholarship, above and beyond the nastiness. I must also admit that, while I'm pleased and impressed that genuine, substantive dialogue seems to have taken place between RT and LM, and while my estimation of both scholars has only improved during the past few days, I'm honestly quite satisfied by the fact that [edited].

From all of which I've learned that I'm not immune from thoughtless presumptions about the quality of character of certain "kinds" of my fellow saints. [edited].

Guess a whole lot comes down to just WHO one sees the tares as.

"How can RT claim to have a testimony and help Grant Palmer do this by attacking his critics? It doesn't make any sense at all."

Even if we start with the assumption that Palmer is an enemy of the Church, why should we follow with the assumption that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" type of logic?

If we feel that some one either lies, uses poor scholarship, is rude, etc., why shouldn't we be critical even if they are on "our side"?

Steve EM: "I still find most LDS apologists embarrass the heck out of me as a freethinking LDS person."

I see statements like this occasionally, and they make me curious.

Steve EM, would you care to identify specific articles or arguments by LDS apologists that embarrass the heck out of you?

Since you make a pretty blanket statement, I don't think that just one or two specimens will do the job. Here are some representative apologists whom, presumably, you find embarrassing. Perhaps this list will help you to think of some illustrations:

John Welch
John Sorenson
William Hamblin
Matthew Roper
David Paulsen
John Gee
Mark Ashurst-McGee
Michael Jibson
John Clark
Stephen Ricks
Richard Lloyd Anderson
Blake Ostler

Thanks in advance.

Yesterday I was only able to glance at this blog. Now I have time to comment. I will number my remarks.

1. After making a fool out of myself with that stupid comment about Roasted, I very much appreciate his response. It brings some relief to me while I am trying to recover from that self-inflicted wound. I feel that I can now just about see the top of the hole I dug for myself. Also, someone pointed me to Roasted's remarks on T&S and I was very impressed. Well, one thing troubled me--I was the one who made that necessary. I like Roasted. I am almost inclined to point out that, whatever you might have imagined, we political scientists are not all that bad a lot, it seems.

2. I think that the exchange on this blog have been productive. This pleases me.

3. Clark was right. It was Dan Peterson who mentioned Paul Tillich in one of his introductions. I provided that information. If anyone is at all interested, I might post something later on about Tillich, Heidegger and various others. There are some strange erotic links.

4. Someone said that I appeared to be a kind of "attack dog." I was not offended by that remark. I am sure that I have here and there earned that kind of reputation. We project ourselves as well or as badly as we can, it seems.

I have many more things that I would like to comment on. But I am sure that there are those begging for this to end. Now let me give and example of what I have in mind. Dave (or someone somewhere, it is hard to keep these things sorted out) asked about what goes on in the editing of the FARMS Review. I am willing to describe that in detail, if there is any interest. Doing that may help clear up some misunderstandings. Since Grant Palmer's book and those essays on it continue to be an issue, I would love to explain exactly how we came to publish five essays on An Insider's View and that statement by the then Smith Insitute. I think that knowing what actually happened would open some eyes. These kinds of things may not be of interest to anyone. But if there is some interest, I am willing to blab.

Oh, I just noticed the comment by "Mike A." I agree fully with his comment. I have no objection to someone taking me to the wood shed over something I have written. I will listen to objections to my tone and style even though or because these are the most difficult matters to deal with or modify. I very much want to know exactly what competent (or incompent) people think about what I have written. I can take criticism. I would be an even bigger fool if I simply would not listen to criticism. If any of you know the people who were in my department who taught political philosophy (Alma Don Sorenson, Noel Reynolds, Ralph Hancock, David Bohn) and hence were not aware of the pounding I got regularly from these fellows, you simply are not aware of the wonderful community in which I was fortunate to be able to enjoy for all those years. Oh Don Sorenson beat me to a pulp regularly. If you had been there, you would have loved to witness it. That is what real friends do, I believe. So bring it on. And in dealing with Mormon things and defending the faith, I want to do the best I can, given whatever gifts I have. I know that I need help, and good friends--true friends--will not hold back. And, as hard as it is to get trashed, it is, in the end, a blessing.

But now just consider the kinds of criticisms that focus entirely on things like tone or style and just ignore the substance of arguments. What is one to make of that? And yet it happens. I am just a tad bit annoyed when people sort through something I have written looking for a word or a phrase so that they can bawl about how nasty I am or how I am engaged in what they like to call a personal attack (which they confuse with the the fallacy known as an ad hominem).

But, for reasons that I do not understand, Dave's blog seems to me to have been interesting, useful--even productive. Well, at least I have enjoyed it. So thanks one and all.

Prof Midgley:

I wasn't thinking of your comments on RT when I made my post, but rather the discussion that followed it in the comments.

Capt Jack: I understand.

Dan and Lou: Steven EM's comments don't merit any kind of response and it would be inappropriatge to dialogue with him in my view. In fact, that he would have the gall to say that apologists embarrass him has to be the finest example of the pot calling the kettle black I have seen. On the Mormon Stories blog, Steven E.M. stated:

[edited]

So he simply says that all apologists are dishonest clowns -- no examples, no specifics, no justification, and to boot what he is complaining about is somehow dishonest methods!

So no matter how bad you've been Lou, you just cannot hold a candle to the kinds of histrionics and statements made on ex-mo ex-believer blogs.

That said, Lou -- the only thing that matters is the substance of the evidence or argument. Who cares if the commenter is a monkey tapping on a typewriter if he gives us Hamlet? On the other hand, if he gives us gibberish, that is what is worthy of comment, not that it is a monkey at the keyboard.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Now Reading

Blog powered by Typepad

General Books 09-12

General Books 06-08

General Books 04-05

About This Site

Mormon Books 2013-14

Mormon Books 2012

Science Books

Bible Books

Mormon Books 09-11

Mormon Books 2008

Mormon Books 2007

Mormon Books 2006

Mormon Books 2005

Religion Books 09-12

Religion Books 2008

Religion Books 2004-07