Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

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Res Ipsa
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Res Ipsa »

Free Ranger wrote:
Sun Jun 25, 2023 8:20 pm
By the way, the board rules for this forum states:

RULES FOR THE CELESTIAL FORUM ...:
"... No personal attacks allowed whatsoever. ...
No disrespectful communications allowed. Address the ideas, not the person who posts them."

Is it not disrespectful to accuse me of a "disingenuous message. Apologetics are so deceptive"? Isn't accussing me of deceptive apologetic tactics not only false but a personal attack?

Is that not breaking the rule of "Address the ideas, not the person who posts them"?

Anytime anyone posts something that does not fit someone else's narrative, must they be immediately disrepsected and personally attacked rather than their ideas discussed respectfully and rationally?

The banner of this site and the rules of this forum says all are welcome. Is that really true? Because this doesn't feel welcoming so far. Am I welcome on this board to express my thoughts without being disrespected, falsely accused, and personally attacked?
Hi Free Ranger. I think you raise two different issues: the policy of the site and enforcement of the site rules. The official policy is set by the founder and administrator, Dr. Shades. And that policy is everyone is welcome.

When it comes to interaction between members, this site handles the inevitable conflicts and personality clashes a little differently than most sites. If they so choose, individual members can act disrespectfully toward and personally attack each other -- as long as they do it in the appropriate "kingdom." In Celestial, where you started your thread, the rules require respectful communication.

The quickest way to call the moderator team's attention to a post that you think violates the rules is to click the report button. That way, you can have rule violations addressed without distracting from the topic of your thread.
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Free Ranger »

Dr. Shades wrote:
Mon Jun 26, 2023 9:45 am
Free Ranger wrote:
Sun Jun 25, 2023 8:20 pm
Am I welcome on this board to express my thoughts without being disrespected, falsely accused, and personally attacked?
Yes, you are. Some people simply have a difficult time switching to "Celestial" mode, sadly.
I highly recommend starting with this short YouTube video that makes a convincing case that talk of "dark skin" in The Book of Mormon is likely a metaphor for "spiritual darkness," not skin color.
So the word "skin" doesn't actually mean "skin?" If it doesn't mean that, why does it say it?
Thank you Dr. Shades. I appreciate that.

As to your question about skin, that is indeed a legitimate question.

In my opinion, after studying the issue on and off for years now as an ex-Mormon atheist and now a nuanced Christian pragmatist of sorts, I truly think that when Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon himself he did not mean those words that mention "skin" to be racist, but that he was actually trying to counteract the racism of his day. It was a never-Mormon named Peter Coviello who led me to this conclusion. Coviello's book Make Yourselves Gods, led me to rethink things. I wrote a document analyzing all the verses on skin in the Book of Mormon, which I might provide a link to sometime but I'm still editing it. But in brief, my own opinion is that Joseph Smith was writing a kind of midrash and combining several ideas. I think he had a kind of photographic memory and knew the New Testament like the back of his hand. I think what he was doing is he was taking the racism of his day, where many or most Protestants believed that Native Americans were savage red skin people (othering them as "Other"), and Smith also may have been thinking in terms of their tattoos that often covered their whole bodies so that they appeared to have a "skin of blackness," on their face included. See:

https://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/ne ... popup=true

https://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/ne ... popup=true

https://www.larskrutak.com/blog-post-1/

https://misterroadtripper.files.wordpre ... ree-23.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_u63pVkkok

Some white people had these tattoos as well:

https://octaviasvintage.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/1773/

Note, I am not 100% committed to the theory that the "skins of blackness" was tattoos, but reading the article that makes this case (which I linked to my original post above) leads me to think it is a plausible theory. I'm about thirty percent of the way through the article which is like a hundred pages. But whether or not the tattoo theory is correct, does not change my comments here.

I think Joseph Smith was a true Christian, as Dan Vogel argues, and he really believed that Protestants should not treat Native Americans as savages. I think he either truly believed that they (Native Americans) were actually Israelites, or he believed that giving them this noble identity would reverse the racism he was seeing among Protestants. As Vogel argues, Joseph Smith would create a dramatic story for the greater good of promoting "Christ," which was thus always good in his mind. Remember, Joseph was all about equity and "esteeming your neighbor/brother as yourself," a theme he repeats all throughout his revelations.

I think that when Joseph Smith had read New Testament passages like by their fruits you shall know them, and let your light shine, that these verses inspired him to create a story about a tree that produces bright shining fruit and the fruit's skins/peeling had an aura/ambience of purity/holiness. This shining fruit metaphor, early on in the Book of Mormon, became the basis for discussing the "skins" of others. I think he intended the words skin(s) to be thought of synonymously with fruit peeling and inner spiritual transformation. When a Christian had the "baptism of fire," Joseph reasoned that their inner nature becomes a pure bright white-lighted spirit-body, which Paul talks about but in terms of putting on/wearing the "pneumatic-body." This pure/holy pneumatic-body is often described in the Gospels as shining bright like a light (or "white") in appearance. Joseph read these Pauline passages on a glorified body within the converted Christian, and Gospel metaphors of a Vine, fruit, and shining disciples, and spoke instead in terms of skin(s) becoming holy/pure/white and one's countenance metaphorically shines bright like this shining fruit in the Book of Mormon. This is why Jesus' countenance shines upon his disciples and he appears like bright white-light (signifying his purity and holiness), in the Book of Mormon. This is why I think Joseph Smith changed the word "white" to purity in a later edition of the Book of Mormon. I think he did that because he realized other Mormons, who most often converted from Protestantism, were not getting the message.

So I think Smith combined these metaphors as a religious genius, as Harold Bloom considered Smith. He used the Protestant's racist language against them by using ambiguous language like "skins," to get them to stop thinking in terms of literal skin and to move toward thinking of skins as a metaphor for one's countenance being like fruit peeling, either ripe (full of Life, see John 10:10), or dwindling in unbelief, with scales of darkness/blindness or being like "chaff" (outer skin of corn or grain) mentioned in the Book of Mormon (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaff).
So the Book of Mormon, was Joseph Smith trying to use these New Testament metaphors to unconsciously change the mind of white Protestants so that what they saw as "red skin" ("non-white" skin) among the Native Americans (or plausibly black tattoos that covered their bodies giving them the appearance of a "skin of blackness"), would be thought of as a result of their past wicked traditions (breaking the Law of Moses as Israelites), and that ultimately, even though these racist ideas were deeply ingrained in their consciousness, that they should move beyond it and not judge the Native Americans if they are true Christians. I think the stories about the Lamanites' "skin" becoming "white" may have had an intended ambiguous dual meaning, as Joseph was dealing with their racism that caused white Protestants to exclude Native Americans from the Christian fold. So the language of skins, on the surface, is a message to white Protestants who are basically being played by the Nephites who at certain points judge the Lamanites based on the appearance of their skins. Joseph is then intending to convince the white Protestants to no longer think in terms of "red skins," and they are more pure "white people," by having the Protestant reader unconsciously identify with the seemingly "righteous" Nephites who themselves are scolded for their judgment of the appearance of the Lamanites; and the Nephites' pride, un-equity, and racism ultimately gets them annihilated, thus it's a cautionary tale.

In the end the Book of Mormon message is anti-racism, with ideally no "manner of -ites," and neither "white nor black," a verse Marvin Perkins argues persuasively means neither "pure/holy nor wicked." So that Joseph is imbedding unconsciously in the reader an anti-racist narrative, intended to cause the white Protestant reader to stop thinking of skin color (red skins or blackened skin from tattoos) as a permanent sign of un-Christian "wicked" traditions, and that they as Protestants are more pure (holy/set-apart), but to instead focus on one's inner transformation through the "baptism of fire," and undergoing a process of inner purification and transformation toward a peeling that resembles God's image/personage. As it says in Alma 5:19:

"I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?"

Note that the original doctrine published in 1835, in the fifth Lecture on Faith, basically explains that the Son (Jesus) as a personage of tabernacle is the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father. This emphasis on appearance and likeness could further support the interpretation of the Book of Mormon talk of skins and countenance as meaning developing this inner spiritual transformation and having the Mind/Spirit (Pneuma) of the Father, as a way of developing the Pauline pneumatic-body within, so that you appear in the same likeness as the personage/image of the Father and Son as as an equally bright image-bearer, as if you have an outer fruit peeling of glowing white/pure light from the Light of Christ (see D&C 88) that is illuminating the bright tree a white-lighted fruit in the Book of Mormon.

So the language of skins is ultimately meant to replace the racist tropes of the day with the metaphorical meaning of skins as one's outward skin/peeling, that is either dwindling/rotting toward a dark and gloomy countenance (as if having scales/chaff of spiritual blindness), or Christ dwelt bright white-lighted fruit-like countenance of healthy ripe life, purity and goodness.

The end message is that of not judging superficial appearances (dark and gloomy countenances) caused by wicked traditions passed on from fathers and mothers to sons and daughters causing "negative generational contagion," but that what really matters is that anyone can instantly become pure/holy through Christ, and one can instantly reverse the generational trajectory by planting the fruit-like seed of Christ (Logos/Word) to sprout "positive generational contagion" and skin-peelings/countenances like the bright "white"lighted fruit tree at the beginning of the Book of Mormon. So in short, stop judging and start thinking of one's skins/peeling as either Christ-infused brightness having the immortal-Life giving nature of Christ, and "partaking of the divine nature," or dwindling/degenerating in unbelief and having chaff/scales of rotting spiritual blindness, as if a "skin of blackness" like the skins of rotting fruit peelings as the "Life" of the fruit slips away and they dwindle into blackened peelings.

So the underlying message of the Book of Mormon regarding "skins" is that like the metaphors in the New Testament of the immortal-Life-giving True Vine and the branches (Christians) bearing "fruit," no matter one's outward appearance, what matters is that one have a shining bright countenance and a demeanor or skin/peeling of goodness.

In other words, I think Joseph's "riffing" on the New Testament ideas of Christians being branches on a Vine and bearing fruit, and visions of heavenly beings appearing and glowing "white" signifying holiness and purity, as he transformed these New Testament passages into a message about Native Americans being capable of becoming just as Christian and bright and fruitful as the Protestants of his area. This is why the Book of Mormon has a message of not judging the outward appearance of others because the true "skins" are your outer peeling/countenance.

Anyway this is a super short summary of how I see it. I wrote a long 100 page document that goes into more detail. By the way there are never-Mormon scholars who have also come to this or a similar conclusion.
Last edited by Free Ranger on Tue Jun 27, 2023 10:25 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Free Ranger »

Res Ipsa wrote:
Mon Jun 26, 2023 7:56 pm
Free Ranger wrote:
Sun Jun 25, 2023 8:20 pm
...
The banner of this site and the rules of this forum says all are welcome. Is that really true? Because this doesn't feel welcoming so far. Am I welcome on this board to express my thoughts without being disrespected, falsely accused, and personally attacked?
Hi Free Ranger. I think you raise two different issues: the policy of the site and enforcement of the site rules. The official policy is set by the founder and administrator, Dr. Shades. And that policy is everyone is welcome.

When it comes to interaction between members, this site handles the inevitable conflicts and personality clashes a little differently than most sites. If they so choose, individual members can act disrespectfully toward and personally attack each other -- as long as they do it in the appropriate "kingdom." In Celestial, where you started your thread, the rules require respectful communication.

The quickest way to call the moderator team's attention to a post that you think violates the rules is to click the report button. That way, you can have rule violations addressed without distracting from the topic of your thread.
Thanks, that was helpful. Where is the report button? Is it an icon or does it say "report," cuz I don't see it.
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Res Ipsa »

Free Ranger wrote:
Mon Jun 26, 2023 8:58 pm
Res Ipsa wrote:
Mon Jun 26, 2023 7:56 pm


Hi Free Ranger. I think you raise two different issues: the policy of the site and enforcement of the site rules. The official policy is set by the founder and administrator, Dr. Shades. And that policy is everyone is welcome.

When it comes to interaction between members, this site handles the inevitable conflicts and personality clashes a little differently than most sites. If they so choose, individual members can act disrespectfully toward and personally attack each other -- as long as they do it in the appropriate "kingdom." In Celestial, where you started your thread, the rules require respectful communication.

The quickest way to call the moderator team's attention to a post that you think violates the rules is to click the report button. That way, you can have rule violations addressed without distracting from the topic of your thread.
Thanks, that was helpful. Where is the report button? Is it an icon or does it say "report," cuz I don't see it.
It's the exclamation point in the upper right of each post.
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Free Ranger »

Thanks! Appreciate the information Res Ipsa.
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Free Ranger »

By the way, the missionary I mentioned at the beginning of this thread emailed me and thanked me for the links and said he appreciates it. A nuanced/inactive Mormon friend said it might just be a standard reply but at least he replied. I'm hoping he forwards it to his companion which he said he would.

Again, my intentions are pragmatic and ethical, if this missionary can spread these different interpretations then other missionaries will do likewise and the Beighamite Mormon Church and culture will be less racially toxic like it was when I grew up in the 1980s/90s, when the "seed of Cain" was still the official doctrine. In my resignation letter one of the things I mentioned is the racist doctrines that at that time in the early 2000s were still official doctrine based on the First Presidency letters of the 1950s-60s.

I served my mission in both Brazil and Independence Missouri due to being reassigned to Missouri after returning home to the US after a knee injury and also losing my faith midway through my mission because of the racism in LDS culture/traditions, but was able to complete my mission due to my interpreting Mormon scripture in non-racist ways, which is a longer story. But I can still remember the shock as a teenager reading Mormon Doctrine in a Mormon family's home and reading about the cursed "seed of Cain."

Being in Missouri I gained a life long interest in the other "Mormon" sects, and learned that the RLDS had a different policy regarding blacks and the priesthood than the Brighamite Church. This led me to realize that it was after Brigham Young that the racism really started, but Joseph Smith was in my view anti-racist.

So if I can in any way improve Mormon culture then I feel like that's a noble cause.

I am also strongly against the shame-and-tame Purity Culture in Mormonism, and would like to see that change which is also something I cover in my blog, see the link to my "Sex, Gods, & Zion: A Blog Series," at:

http://emergentmormon.blogspot.com
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Dr. Shades »

Free Ranger wrote:
Mon Jun 26, 2023 8:41 pm
Some white people had these tattoos as well:

https://octaviasvintage.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/1773/
Actually, no, she's the only white person who had that tattoo. She didn't get it of her own free will; her native captors made her get it.
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Free Ranger »

Dr. Shades wrote:
Tue Jun 27, 2023 6:11 am
Free Ranger wrote:
Mon Jun 26, 2023 8:41 pm
Some white people had these tattoos as well:

https://octaviasvintage.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/1773/
Actually, no, she's the only white person who had that tattoo. She didn't get it of her own free will; her native captors made her get it.
You are absolutely right Dr. Shades.

I was aware that she had this tattoo by force and I did not mean to imply with my clumsy wording that she voluntarily chose to get it. Perhaps I did not choose my words carefully enough as I was rushing to complete what I had to say in a timely manner.

I did not know however that she was the only white person who had that particular type of tattoo. Thank you for the correction. I came to my view innocently after seeing her (Olive Oatman) with the tatoo and then seeing that some woman called Eva with a similar face tatoo on a TV show, see:

https://youtu.be/kfIVsvpaZ98

I only saw "Eva" in the video clip title and had not carefully read the description that explains that Eva is supposed to be Olive Oatman. So I assumed that there might be other white people who were forced to get it.

Thank you for the correction. I always want to be historically accurate and that is why I like forums because it's kind of a form of teamwork in ferreting out what is most accurate.
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Free Ranger »

Dr. Shades wrote:
Tue Jun 27, 2023 6:11 am
Free Ranger wrote:
Mon Jun 26, 2023 8:41 pm
Some white people had these tattoos as well:

https://octaviasvintage.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/1773/
Actually, no, she's the only white person who had that tattoo. She didn't get it of her own free will; her native captors made her get it.
Hey Dr. Shades,

Your comments made me do some resaerch and I came across this on wikipedia:

"Another thing that suggests Olive and Mary Ann were not held in forced captivity by the Mohave is that both girls were tattooed on their chins and arms,[14][15] in keeping with the tribal custom. Oatman later claimed (in Stratton's book and in her lectures) that she was tattooed to mark her as a slave, but this is not consistent with the Mohave tradition, where such marks were given only to their own people to ensure that they would enter the land of the dead and be recognized there by their ancestors as members of the Mohave tribe.[5]: 78  The tribe did not care if their slaves could reach the land of the dead, however, so they did not tattoo them. It has also been suggested that the evenness of Olive’s facial markings may indicate her compliance with the procedure.[5]: 78  ...

... Olive later spoke with fondness of the Mohaves, who she said treated her better than her first captors. She most likely considered herself assimilated.[17]

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_Oatman

Wikipedia is not always reliable so I don't know how accurate this is. I am putting together a document on the subject as I mentioned, so I was wondering if you could share where you learned that "she didn't get it of her own free will; her native captors made her get it."

Perhaps the above paragraph is just speculation?
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by yellowstone123 »

Hey Free Ranger. Just wondering if you’re interested in the thoughts of John Marshall Harlan who was the lone dessenter in a Supreme Court case called Plessy vs. Ferguson. He had a brother who he cared greatly about who would be considered half-black. He argued in 1896 that the Constitution was color-blind. One might take a look in the next few years into his life and thoughts.
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