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He was a B-24 pilot. The name of his plane was the Yard Bird.

See here for a talk that mentions some of his experiences.

I failed to read the link all the way through. That was his brother Leon not him... he was in the South Pacific and later stationed in Tokyo but the rest of the details escape me at the moment.

I think the mock and jest bit is quite true. And it happens both within and without the church. Reminds me of Nephi's vision. It's an effective rhetorical tool. You don't need to refute someone's principles or ethics. Just make fun of them. It's a common and sad tendency of the so-called "postmodern" generation where everything is irony.

Thanks for the link, Jon. It sounds like Elder Packer was a B-17 co-pilot and flew in and out of Japan during the postwar occupation by Allied forces. His brother flew the B-24 Liberator, a very difficult plane to fly. Stephen Ambrose wrote a book about the B-24 and its pilots, The Wild Blue, among whose number was none other than George McGovern.

Everyone knows there is nothing to mock in religion.

But Dave, don't you have a book in your bookstore that chronicles the decline of atheism?

And since you know atheists are already rare -- and if on top of that they're on the decline -- how could they possibly pose a serious threat to the church?

CL, there is some ambiguity in Elder Packer's identification: on the one hand he refers to "atheists and agnostics"; on the other hand he implies that some of the noise (probably the more worrisome portion of it) comes from inside the Church, which is an entirely different group of people largely devoid of self-identifying atheists and agnostics.

One must remember that Elder Packer is on the conservative end of the already conservative Mormon theological spectrum. Some in that category classify entire disciplines and anyone associated with them (history, biology, philosophy) as somehow atheistic. That's obviously not how LDS leadership as a whole views things. So it may be that Elder Packer's use of the terms "atheists and agnostics" is just a swipe at intellectual disciplines he disagrees with.

Dave, as a curiosity, why are you so antagonistic to Elder Packer?

Antagonistic? Matt, it's hard to see how I could be more complimentary. I called Spiritual Croc 1.0 a "classic," gave straight quotes from articles on his recent talk, and higlighted and praised his service as a pilot in WWII. Noting that his doctrinal views are at the conservative end of the spectrum is not a criticism, just an observation. There is a spectrum, you know.

Uh, maybe you're just upset that I mentioned George McGovern.

"intellectual disciplines he disagrees with"

"that might be the nicest thing I've ever read about him"

These seem antagonistic to me.

I am widely aware of the spectrum of what is considered doctrine. Is it because you disagree with his end of the spectrum or see him disagreeing with your end of the spectrum that you are antagonistic toward him?

I don't even know who George McGovern is. Is that a Utah thing?

Matt, that seems like a strained reading of what are complimentary or, at worst, objective remarks; they're hardly antagonistic.

If you want to see me a little antagonistic, try here or here. That's not my natural style. I have to try really hard to be antagonistic.

Fair enough, I can accept it if I am misreading you.

I don't even know who George McGovern is...

Matt, you're showing your age!

Yeah, I was born in 77. Having just wiki'd the Guy, I am surprised he isn't just some sort of funny pseudonym. A man named McGovern in Politics sounds like a McDonald's Parody to me....

Ah, good.

If you don't feel threatened by self-identifying atheists, then link to me in your solo blogs!!! :D

Everybody knows that atheists are cute and cuddly!!! ;-)

Atheists aside, Packer also trained on a B-24 testing out early versions of airborne radar in 1943.

The MP3 version of President Packer's talk is now available for free download.

I'm pretty sure my father would not appreciate much of the good-natured self-mocking of belief and religious practice that even some of the most conservative (not in a political sense) participants in the bloggernacle use on a frequent basis.

He would frequently take me to task for "making light of sacred things." And I'm sure he would feel the same about much of the dialogue within the bloggernacle.

To be honest, I'm still unsure whether he's right or wrong. Perhaps we are too flippant about our religion.

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