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Sorry dave, but your comment "Given that any real-world religious institution is going to have some aspects of regional culture leaking into it, the American option seems like the best (or least harmful) of the lot" cries out for a response. Not because you are necessarily wrong but because of the way you feel you can say it and not need any justification. As a British member my view is that the increased Americanisation of the church is the greatest obstacle to church growth that we face. American members tend to feel that they do not need to make any allowances for other cultures but that in the interest of oneness other cultures must make allowances for any Americanisation of the gospel. Your comment seems to emphasis that last point.

I thought it was a given that Mormonism was Americanised.

I think Africanization of the Church in Africa wouldn't be bad. The problem with correlation (by Americans) and standard plans (by Americans) is that it does not--cannot--take into account non-American needs.

Possible threadjack: A paragraph in the Tribune article made me sad, "In places other than Utah, Mormons are largely tolerant of others and don't push their religion on their neighbors" (emphasis added, to show the disturbing part).

It's the old "how much should we fit in vs. stand out" problem. Fit in with modern society too well and we're sell-outs. Stand out too much and we're religious zealots and freaks. We don't want either of those so we attempt to quietly find a spot somewhere in between.

I tend to disagree with Potter on some of those. I strongly disagree that they are disappearing although some speculation on them is. (Although to be fair there is a new branch of theology such as from Blake Ostler that puts a larger gap between God and man than has been traditional.) But while I've not heard Dennis' paper, just some of his comments at KUER's RadioWest, I tend to be skeptical.

The church still teaches all those doctrines, in one form or another - the implementation is merely delayed. There are other doctrines (the mysteries) which are not taught because the conclusion has been reached that we do not understand them well enough to avoid making serious errors. And then when the errors get corrected or cease to be taught, often a whole cohort will leave the Church. A/G and the belief in necessary polygamy are excellent examples.

I don't quite buy it. We are stil pretty peculiar.

"In places other than Utah, Mormons are largely tolerant of others and don't push their religion on their neighbors"

I thought that was a weird statement from the Trib. Are Latter-day Saints in Utah pushing their religion on their neighbors? I don't think that is the case in Salt Lake City, anyway.

For those who haven't seen the now infamous South Park episode, the episode depicts the Joseph Smith story from the first vision to the translating of the BofM in music with a chorus affirming that the story is "Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb".

On several occasions after watching this episode with Mormon friends, my friends would say, "Haha, that was pretty funny. But they got some things totally wrong. Joseph didn't use a hat to translate. That was just dumb!" (I had a mission president say the same thing while critiquing FARMS). Here you have a Mormon affirming the South Park chorus in saying that the story was dumb. I feel confident that the same reply could be made about a myriad of Mormon 'doctrines' that were once well known and openly advocated as distinctly Mormon.

In another session, Scot Denhalter used HG Frankfurt's "On Bullshit" to discuss truth-telling in Mormonism. It seems clear to most everyone that the Church has delibertly been institutionally bullshitting it's history and theology in order to make itself more palatable for the American publice (he used Pres. Hinckley's total downplaying of deification as a prime example).

Will I get lynched if I say that if it were not for the "Americanization" of the church that it would not be doing as well as it is?

Jack:

I don't know about being lynched, but I think the question that has to be asked is if downplaying (and often losing) certain "fundamental" aspects of Mormonism, in order to increase membership, is 'doing well.'

I think it's true that the Church is abandoning some of its more radical theology. I can't remember the last time I heard about Kolob in Sunday School, General Conference, etc. Or what about the Garden of Eden being in MO? I remember hearing it more growing up, but now it's like we just pretend it's not there, kind of like polygamy. Do I think it's a bad thing? No.

Loyd,

The downplaying of fundamental aspects seems (to me) to be viewed as both a blessing and a curse depending upon one's subjectivity. For example, there are many today who, no doubt, are grateful for the demise of polygamy--an effect of americanization.

Brett, I've heard about Kolob every time we study the Pearl of Great Price as part of our study. And I hear about it in Sacrament every time "If I Could Hie To Kolob" is sung. (You must admit that's one of the more popular songs in the Church and belays some of the claims of repression that are made.)

It's often hard to quantify exactly what's being downplayed or not. Just because something isn't mentioned in Sacrament or Conference doesn't mean it's being downplayed. A lot depends upon what people discuss outside of those situations.

Take Calling and Election being made sure. I can't recall ever hearing that discussed in conference. Yet Pres. Hinkley gave a talk about 10 years ago for 2.5 hours on it in a Stake Conference. But since that was one talk out of hundreds of Stakes, how do we quantify it all? And what of the internet and all the books (both theological and historical) that are out? People read them. How do we quantify this?

It's hard to even figure out what the question means.

Now if the Church says a doctrine isn't right (say, like A/G) then I can see that as an abandonment. But most of the claims simply aren't in that category.

Clark-
I guess we've had different experiences. Even when I've studied the Pearl of Great Price in Sunday School no one mentions Kolob. It just gets skipped over.

Really? Interesting. Of course it's not as if there is a whole lot to say about it.

BTW - I think Mormons outside of Utah are about as tolerant as those inside Utah. It's just that there are a lot of Mormons inside Utah. So even a small minority can be noticable. Given the large population folks are more sensitive as well. But there are plenty of idiot Mormons offending others outside of Utah. I think some of the stereotypes of "Utah Mormons" are most unfortunate.

#16. Clark, I think you've summarized the point here. There really is not a whole lot to say about these issues because all we can do (absent continuing revelation) is speculate about what Joseph Smith meant.

Now if we were in a situation where our leaders were answering doctrinal questions, or revealing new truths, we would likely be as distinctive as the Saints were in the time of Joseph Smith. What Potter sees as surrender I see as simply the result of not really knowing any more than the culture around us, so why not take the best of what the culture has to offer?

Now if we were in a situation where our leaders were answering doctrinal questions, or revealing new truths, we would likely be as distinctive as the Saints were in the time of Joseph Smith.

Which then leads to the next question... When people get up in testimony meetings and proclaim that they are "so thankful that we have a prophet alive today," what are they thankful for?

The church's shift from emphasis on prophecy to an emphasis on authority is nothing new. Is the appeal to modern prophets a post-Americanization remnant?

I don't think the appeal to modern prophets has any relationship to Americanization, but maybe the sense of satisfaction with the status quo does reflect Americanization.

It is a worldwide desire to seek divine guidance. The shift from prophecy toward authority is a common occurrence in religious organizations everywhere. We see it in traditional Christianity, Islam, and to some extent in Hinduism, although some Hindus still have swamis who receive revelation for their followers. In theory, based on our Articles of Faith, we are different because we are not "stuck" with a fixed canon, but in practice, it seems like we as a church merely rehash the standard works and leave questions unanswered.

Jonathan (#18), I don't even mean that we can only speculate on it. Kolob is simply the closest world to God and perhaps the center planet in the allegory in Abraham 3. Speculation might be say whether this is the star Siris which had similar speculation in the ancient world, especially do to its relationship in a geocentric astronomy. (Moreso a few thousand years ago Siris didn't tend to rotate relative to the earth)

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