The Top Ten Happenings in Mopologetics, 2019

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_Doctor Scratch
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The Top Ten Happenings in Mopologetics, 2019

Post by _Doctor Scratch »

My dear friends and colleagues: it seems that the year has gone by in the blink of an eye. I can hardly believe that an entire year has elapsed since we last got to behold the glorious and resplendent lighting of the Cassius University Christmas Tree. Dean Robbers, as always, did the honors in terms of throwing the switch. And what a sight to behold! A few small flakes of snow had begun to fall, and we all listened eagerly to the Dean's speech before retreating back to the Faculty Lounge for schnapps-spiked hot chocolate, along with a generous spread of turkeys and desserts.

It seems to me that the holiday season would be incomplete without food--and perhaps, even, if I may say so somewhat shamelessly--it wouldn't be right without at least a couple serious rounds of unabashed gluttony. (Perhaps you recall Allen Wyatt's tale of downing eleven pounds of M&M's in a two-day span?) Indeed, food (and okay, sure: gluttony) certainly plays a strange role in Mormonism more generally, and in Mopologetics more specifically. On that note, have you ever heard of the chef and television personality named Matty Matheson?

Image

Matheson is an apparently ex-LDS chef (he grew up in Canada, raised by Mormon parents), who, on account of a nasty cocaine habit, suffered a heart attack at the age of 29, and who, subsequently, vowed to turn his life around. (Hence the name of one of his TV shows: Dead Set on Life.) Matheson is covered from head to toe in tattoos (even his jowls sport ink), and his speaking voice is a unique blend of volume, squeakiness, oddball aggression, and enthusiasm.

Arguably his greatest achievement as a television personality is his half-hour cooking program, entitled It's Suppertime!, the first three seasons of which aired on the Viceland channel. Matheson is an energetic and affable host, though it can seem at times as if he's screaming at you. One of the unique things about It's Suppertime is that they have chosen *not* to edit out Matheson's mistakes and bloopers. For example, in the cassoulet episode, Matheson is fishing several hunks of pork belly out of the dutch over with a pair of tongs, when, suddenly, a frightening geyser of oil comes shooting out of the pot and very nearly singes Matheson's mustache: he flinches and says, softly, "Oh, God!" And in the "Pizza Party!" episode, he hoists the unbaked pan of pizza up near his head, tilting it slightly so the camera can see it, and the entire mass of dough begins to slide perilously off the pan. "Ope, easy! Almost lost it there!" he exclaims, quickly tilting it back.

The program is largely a one-man show, though occasionally members of the crew show up to try out the food he's prepared. One recurring character is a Vietnamese man whom Matheson calls "Master Rang" (his full name is Rang Nguyen): he helps Matheson to prepare a banh mi sandwich in an early episode, for example. Elsewhere in the show, Matheson hand-feeds bits of food to Master Rang. It's as if they share a strange, cozy, albeit oddly colonialist friendship (it is perhaps a bit reminiscent of Dr. Midgley's sourpuss relationship with New Zealand).

Perhaps the most "Mormon-y" episode is the one entitled, "Picture Perfect Glazed Ham," in which Matheson cooks a pineapple and maraschino cherry-studded ham, scalloped potatoes, and ambrosia salad: sort of an analog for classic, LDS jello salad. The caption for the episode says, "1974 called, they want you to cook Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, and Ambrosia Salad." Overall, the dishes Matheson makes on the show look plenty tasty (though I, personally, think that I would likely pass on the ham and ambrosia salad), and would very likely be stars of the show at your local ward potluck.

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Matheson, with his penchant for excess (Master Rang's affectionate nickname for him is "fat boy"), his loud speaking voice, and his sometimes reckless approach to cooking (among other things) thus makes him a perfect metaphor for Mopologetics. Indeed, that is the great gift that Mopologetics gives to us every holiday season: it is rich in metaphors of every variety, and 2019 gave us more than we could handle. This year was an unrelenting smorgasbord of treats from "Sic et Non," "Interpreter," and all the other Mopologetic venues. I hope you brought a healthy appetite!

Friends, it's time to loosen your belts and to tie a plastic bib around your neck. Go ahead and let out a hearty belch, and belly up to this feast-laden table. As the B.H. Roberts Chair of Mopologetic Studies, it gives me enormous pleasure to offer up The Top Ten Happenings in Mopologetics in the year of our Lord, 2019.



10. John Gee is "Fired" from the Maxwell Institute

Near the end of May, speculation began to swirl that John Gee's position at the Maxwell Institute (where, for many years, he occupied the Gay Research Chair) had been eliminated. At first, details were hard to come by, but it eventually emerged that Gee had not been "fired" per se; instead, he was "relocated" to another department--the same department as Dr. Peterson, in fact. Indeed, Peterson clarified some of the reasons for the move in a post on "SeN":

DCP wrote:The requirement of the Gay chair continues to be that its occupant will do “scholarship in fields of study directly related to ancient scripture study, such as Egyptology and other relevant ancient languages and disciplines and to contribute in a significant way to further knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the scriptural heritage of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” That has not been altered in any way. Neither Dr. Gee’s research focus nor his agenda have changed.

This is significant, since Dr. Gee’s research focus, approach, and agenda were out of sync with the interests of the post-2012 Maxwell Institute and were the cause of some discomfort and tension there. However, the BYU administration has plainly signaled that, in its view, the kind of research and writing pursued by Dr. Gee merits continuation.


Read what you may into the phrase "discomfort and tension there." Was this the result of differing views on professionalism? Personal conduct? Something else? It's tough to say. In the "Comments" section of the "SeN" posting, one commentator made this remark:

starsshine1942 wrote:Prof. Peterson is engaging in some very deceptive spin. Dr. Gee is not a full professor (highest academic rank), is not tenured (=Continuing Faculty Status at BYU), and does not still retain the Gay chair. Further, Gee's move to Asian and Near Eastern Languages (ANEL) was not a power move to escape the MI or its director, Spencer Fluhman. Gee was absolutely removed from his position, after previous probationary actions were taken against him by the university, and all of this was accomplished by proper channels and policies. Well before this recent announcement, Gee was compelled to go hat in hand to ask whether ANEL or other colleges and units on campus might take him on. All initially rebuffed him. Eventually a deal was worked out with ANEL and he found a temporary home there (again, he is not tenured and works on a contingent contract). As much as Peterson would like to have you think otherwise, Gee's departure was not at his request or to his benefit, though he may eventually come to like his new position more. It is understandable that Peterson would try to assist his long time friend in saving face, but his dishonesty in this effort is a disservice to everyone involved.


Meanwhile, Midgley alleged that he's seen a mysterious "memo" that (per him) would allow Gee to "escape from his [i.e., Spencer Fluhman, Director of the MI] control." Midgley claimed that he'd been told about the move by "one of the Brethren."

We may never know the full truth of what actually happened; still, the incident was remarkable--and historic--since it represents the departure of virtually the last supporter of "classic-FARMS" from the Maxwell Institute. Despite this personnel change, however, and Gee's "good news," the acrimony continues to smolder with an unrelenting passion: even 7+ years after the fact. Old grudges dies hard, it would seem.


9. Midgley Admits that the Mopologists Needed an Apostle's Death for the LGT

Apparently with nothing better to do with his time, Louis Midgley emerged this year as a tempestuous and pretty much non-stop presence in the "Comments" section of "Sic et Non." When he wasn't busy being vicious or cruel towards other posters (notably Gemli), he could generally be found "opining up a storm" on various topics, sometimes to the apparent detriment of Mopologetic causes. One such occasion occurred in late August, when Midgley dropped this particular bomb:

Midgley wrote:I submitted that essay to the Era many months before President McKay passed away. And there was much back and forth over the contents of my essay. Since what I had written was back then seen as both novel and sensitive, Jay Todd, then the editor, had to have it approved by those who both could and then did approve it.
When it was approved, I then received a call from Jay in which he indicated exactly what I said about President McKay's remarks. I asked Jay, if I should make additional changes because of what President McKay had said. I was a bit annoyed because I could see the approval process dragging on and on. Jay then explained that it had been approved as it was. This was a relief, since the editorial back and forth had raised the distint possibility that what I had written and then revised several time would never appear in print. I could have lived with that.

One must keep in mind that John Sorenson's two part essay setting out a limited geography for the Book of Mormon had to wait for the death of an Apostle before it appeared in the Era.
(emphasis added)

Many years ago, critics used to speculate about the apparently tense relationship between the authority of the Brethren and the often hot-headed Mopologists, and circa 2007 or 2008, the Mopologists used to protest vociferously that (a) they never did anything to undercut the General Authorities, and (b) that the General Authorities *never* "micromanaged" their work. By now, though, the Mopologists seem to have completely abandoned that particular charade, and instead, we now get Midgley openly admitting that, yes, in fact the Brethren *do* micromanage at least some of the Mopologists' work, and, yes, the Mopologists have sometimes been quite defiant of (some of) the Brethren's views.

Midgley, in 2019, was truly the gift that just kept giving.


8. The Witnesses Movie and Historical Accuracy

The hype is slowly but surely building over the Mopologists' signature "produce" for 2020: a series of films--including both documentary-style "talking head" clips and more narrative-driven re-enactment--centered on the "Witness," who, Dr. Peterson often reminds us, are "very impressive."

Already, though, the film is mired in controversy. As Executive Producer, Peterson had the task of raising $1 million in order to fund the dramatic portion of the movie. People wondered: How and in what ways will Peterson personally profit from this venture? And as Lemmie recently observed, financial disclosures pertaining to the movie still have not been published on Interpreter's website. Critics have also speculated about which supernatural elements of the tale will be depicted, and in what manner. And some are wondering about the "historical authenticity" of the film, and whether or not the actual witnesses' claims will be accurately represented. The movie, in other words, seems primed to be a disaster, though we continue to wait in anticipation.

Most of all, people seem to be wondering what the point is meant to be. Is the movie meant to serve as a Mopologetic argument? To "educate" Mormon rubes (in Parowan?) who don't know the story? Peterson swears up and down that he won't make a dime off the production, but what about the Interpreter foundation? Or is this all just pure, egomaniacal folly: making an expensive motion picture merely because you can?

Whatever the case may be, the Witnesses film is shaping up to be *the* most hotly anticipated Mopologetic event of 2020. All of us will be first in line when it debuts.


7. Blake Ostler Explodes on "Faith Promoting Rumor"

The well-coifed Mormon philosopher and cantankerous gadfly known as Blake Ostler made a blundering appearance on the blog "Faith Promoting Rumor" in early September. Drawn out, apparently, by criticisms of Dan Peterson, Ostler blundered into the comments section and caused a lot of head-scratching after he announced that Louis Midgley "has passed," which most took to mean that Midgley had died.

When it was pointed out to Ostler that this couldn't possibly be true, since, mere minutes earlier, Midgley had posted on "Sic et Non," Ostler flew into a rage:

Blake Ostler wrote:Really you are like a bunch of kids arguing over who has the best popsicle.

I meant that Midgley had passed from the scholarly scene at BYU; Not that he died. I can see how my statement was confusing.


Ostler wrote:Yakov — you are just full of crap to suggest that I am lying and did not know what I meant. Let me know who you are so that I can see who I am dealing with you coward. Telling DCP to let Midgely know that he is a terrible human being is beyond the pale. That you sanction such antics is truly sickening to me. I love how y’all act like 2 year olds to gang up on DCP and fuss over the kind of crap that really makes you look pathetic.


Ostler wrote:Yakov ben Coward: by the way I am well aware that Midgley did not die because I spoke with him recently. If you think that I was thinking of Tvedtnes then you are total dolt. Those of us doing philosophy have our disagreements, but I have never seen such childish antics among my peers.


Ostler thus joins Dan "You go to hell!" Peterson, Louis "Bokovoy!" Midgley, and all the other Mopologists who've let their anger-management issues get the better of them in public.


6. The Ongoing Battle with the Heartlanders

2019 saw the Mopologists ramping up their war with Rodney Meldrum, Jonathan Neville, and the so-called "Heartlanders." At the heart of the dispute is a bitter struggle over who is correct about the location of the Hill Cumorah. Did the events take place in the U.S., as the Heartlanders (and, for that matter, the Church's founding fathers) attest? Or, instead, is Zarahemla actually somewhere in MesoAmerica, as the Mopologists have argued? And, at the end of the day, does any of this matter? It would seem that it does, even to DCP, who has repeatedly claimed that he does not care about the issue, often while promoting the blog of "Peter Pan." Pan's blog is wholly devoted to personally attacking Jonathan Neville: the only content consists of post after post slamming Neville.

What this signals is that the war between the two factions has moved into a new phase, and it also represents a new level of malignant candor and obsessiveness on the part of the Mopologists. Once upon a time, they used to deny that they engaged in smear-tactics or aggressive targeting of individuals (such as Grant Palmer). Nowadays, though, they have dropped the pretense and are (anonymously, at least) embracing character assassination with gusto. Peterson gleefully posts links to Pan's blog on a fairly regular basis, signaling his approval of what "Peter Pan" is doing.

One wonders how long this infighting will be allowed to continue before the Brethren intervene. Along with the Witnesses movie, this will be worth paying attention to in the new year.


5. Midgley Admits to Physically Assaulting a Classmate

The Mopologists' belligerence and thirst for violence reached a new crescendo in 2019 when Louis "The Gift" Midgley announced with great relish on "SeN" that he had once physically assaulted and humiliated one of his junior high classmates:

Midgley wrote:In an art class in junior high school in Salt Lake City the entire class and also the very talented teacher were faced with a really nasty bully. His name was Dale Blunt. The things he did were disgusting and hurtful. I tolerated him and his antics for weeks. Then one day I just could not take it anymore. I punched him in the gut at hard as I could, and he doubled up. I continued pounding away until others pulled me away. He never again did the things he had previously done in that class.

Then, after my wife and I had returned from our wonderful experience as missionaries in New Zealand, I did a search and was stunned to discover that he had served as a Latter-day Saint missionary and had then been married in the Temple, and had raised a fine family. I was shocked, surprised and even stunned, and also very pleased. He was anything but the evil that I had feared. My memory of that sudden violent act on my part that had produced laughter and delight from everyone in the class, including the teacher, now seemed petty.

I can now only remember the names of a few close friends from that period of my life, except for Dale Blunt, about whom I now have a very different opinion.


People have referred to the Mopologists as "bullies" more than once, and in one fell stroke, Midgley confirmed beyond all doubt what everyone already knew to be true.


4. "Added Upon" is the Mopologists' Idealized Version of the Celestial Kingdom

One of the enduring mysteries of the Mopologists is their view on LDS theology--a topic they seldom discuss in public. Mormon heaven is clearly a crucial motivating factor for them, as Dr. Midgley has reminded us on many occasions. What do they think things will be like in the afterlife, though? Critics have speculated that, for instance, the Mopologists believe in Joseph Fielding Smith's speculations concerning the "TK Smoothie," but the Mopologists denied that they believe it, and, in fact, claimed that they'd never even heard of the concept. Still, one cannot help but wonder what they think: Will they live on their own planet? What will become of wayward friends and family members--those who've "gone missing," as Midgley would say?

Luckily for us, we were given front-row seats to the Mopologists' theological views this year thanks to a short novel called Added Upon. The book is a work of almost unrelenting awfulness--riddled with cliches; sloppily written, with lousy dialogue and unconvincing, hackneyed characters. Nonetheless, Dr. Peterson praises it:

DCP wrote:Added Upon depicts a small group of characters as they move from the premortal existence through this life (where they come in contact with the gospel), into the spirit world, and beyond, into the resurrection and the millennium. I must have heard of such things before, but I had never previously had any notion of the richness, the sheer sweep and grandeur, of what we call “the plan of salvation.” It was, I realized, the most exciting thing I had ever encountered, the most magnificent vision of human destiny imaginable.


It is anybody's guess why Peterson was so drawn to the book: Could it be its depiction of women? (Everybody Wang Chung describes the novel as "a misogynistic piece of dookie.") Perhaps its the elitist, stratified version of heaven that the book supports? Unsurprisingly, Dr. Robbers gave us the best explanation for the book's appeal to the Mopologists:

Dean Robbers wrote:The point is, the fittest who survive will also mingle fraternity style with the most important men of history!

Now, why did I say this is really scary? Can you see how this work has influenced the Mopologists? Where do you think I can find a thread where an elitist fraternity of men collectively boast of being married, having children, rubbing elbows with important people, and traveling extensively, and then making fun of the "losers" in the eugenics experiment, who (supposedly) aren't married, don't have children, don't have lots of important friends, and don't travel abroad constantly?


Indeed.


3. Critics Make Mincemeat out of "Scholarship" on Mormon Interpreter

2019 saw a few highly-touted pieces get published on the blog known as Mormon Interpreter: "Joseph Smith: The World's Greatest Guesser," by Bruce E. and Brian Dale, and "An American Indian Language Family with Middle Eastern Loanwords: Responding to a Recent Critique," by John S. Robertson.

In the case of the first piece, the Dales attempted to use Bayes theorem in an effort to defend Joseph Smith. However, in an epic thread that ran for 39 pages, Lemmie, Dr. W, Mr. Stakhanovite, and others took the Dales to the woodshed over their shoddy methodology. Simon Southerton even noted:

Southerton wrote:I posted this response at Interpreter. It was deleted within 20 min.

Let me see if I have this right. The level of overall support for the Book of Mormon is calculated by multiplying Bayesian values for each piece of evidence. The authors have 131 positive pieces of evidence (in favour of the Book of Mormon) and 18 negative pieces of evidence. If you multiply 131 numbers together OF COURSE you are going to get a FAR more significant value for support than you will get for negative evidence by multiply 18 values together! This is just mathematizing parallelomania. The whole analysis is flawed.

131 multiplied numbers vs 18 multiplied numbers. Of course 131 wins


The entire debacle was a farce from the get-go, and only served to underscore just how crappy "Interpreter"'s version of "scholarship" happens to be.

Meanwhile, there was Robertson's article, actually a defense of the apologetic linguistic work of Brian Stubbs that was written in response to a critical essay published by the "new" Maxwell Institute. This time, it was Dean Robbers, Symmachus, and others' turn to take a stick to the sad piñata known as Stubbs's "scholarship." What's interesting in this case, is that the Robertson piece is not even original scholarship: instead, it shows the Mopologists as insular and insecure--lashing out in an effort to defend themselves from the "new" MI.

Meanwhile, John Gee used "Interpreter"'s blogging features to vent his spleen in an article entitled, "The Joseph Smith Papers Project Stumbles." The article was widely seen as sour grapes on Gee's part--more specifically, him lashing out at the Mopologists' sworn enemy, Brian Hauglid, who has worked as an editor on the JSP project. Gee took a lot of heat for the article, including a lengthy rebuttal from the other editor, Robin Jensen. The criticism of Gee's criticism was assertive enough that the folks at "Interpreter" took the unprecedented step of actually editing Gee's article after publication:

Interpreter wrote:[Editor’s note: This review was edited by the author, after initial publication, to address multiple requests for clarification. In part, these clarifications came after a substantive conversation between the author and principal figures in the Joseph Smith Papers Project.]


What this shows, above all, is the extent to which the "Interpreter" crowd is becoming increasingly marginalized: hunkering down in a state of angry fear, and lashing out at the JSP and the Maxwell Institute, and failing to use a halfway decent peer-review process. With the leadership of the blog focused on other things (such as the Witnesses movie), perhaps it is understandable that even the pretense of serious scholarly practices would be abandoned.

2. The LGT was Allegedly Stolen from the RLDS

Accusations of plagiarism have beleaguered the Mopologists for years, but a devastating blow was dealt to them this year when the commentator known as "SReed" (whom DCP accuses of being a Jonathan Neville sock puppet) revealed on "Sic et Non" that the Mopologists' coveted theory--the Limited Geography Theory--had actually be (allegedly) lifted from the RLDS:

SReed wrote:Here in this 1924 book by RLDS Louise E Hills: https://babel.hathitrust.or...

It’s a total fraud created by the RLDS Church. Page 131, Hills mentions a Elder HA Stebbins, who was born in 1844, the year Joseph Smith was murdered. This is Stebbins autobiography: http://www.latterdaytruth.o...

See page 194 where Stebbins came up with his Central America theory from John Lloyd Stephens’s book. This was in 1894 or so. Stebbins Book of Mormon lectures are here wherein he mentions his Central America theory: https://babel.hathitrust.or...

Then the RLDS Church created a Committee on American Archaeology about the same year. This is its report: https://babel.hathitrust.or...
And the map from that report, created by a RLDS member residing in Michigan, based on Stebbins’s lectures, is here:
https://www.worthpoint.com/...

Then in the 1920s when the RLDS Church couldn’t afford to purchase the New York Hill Cumorah, RLDS Louise E Hills came up with the original Hill Cumorah in Mexico, noted in his 1924 book, p. 131
https://babel.hathitrust.or...

Thus the fraud, to keep the RLDS legit, since it also believed in The Book of Mormon but didn’t own the Hill.

Dr. John L. Sorenson mentioned RLDS Hills, in his 1991 publication: “The Geography of Book of Mormon Events, A Source Book,” noted in the archive below:

https://archive.bookofmormo...

Thus, Sorenson, Welch, Magleby, Peterson, know the source of the Mesoamerica Two-Cumorah geography theory for The Book of Mormon, is a RLDS fraud, but they promote it anyway.


It's easy enough to imagine the Mopologist leadership meeting surreptitiously in some boardroom somewhere, and conspiring to adopt this junk RLDS fraud as a legitimate theory. As Dr. Peterson kept insisting:

DCP wrote:I don't know whether an RLDS person originated the idea or not, and (as I've said to SReed several times before) I don't especially care.

I care whether the theory fits the facts. And, in my judgment, it does.

Its origin makes no difference to me at all. If I were to find out that the first person to assert that 2+2=4 was a mass-murdering Mesopotamian tyrant, I wouldn't abandon the idea.


Well, if that's true, then he shouldn't care if the Book of Mormon actually came from The Late War, right? It doesn't matter whether Moroni, or Nephi, or Joseph Smith "originated" the text, right?

Regardless, this was quite possibly the most devastating blow yet that's been delivered to the LGT, and the Mopologists still have not managed to drum up an adequate response to SReeds stunning investigative journalism.


This, of course, brings us to Number 1. 2019 was, I think I can say without exaggeration, the most exciting year in Mopologetics since 2012. One always hopes to encounter an event that crystalizes and adequately sums up the essence of the Mopologists behavior in any given year, and in 2019, it came in the form of a very unique offer.


1. The Mopologists Blow $10,000

In late August, the affable poster known as Dr. Moore extended a very generous deal to the Mopologists:

Dr. Moore wrote:As for the $10k donation deal, yes! Perhaps it’s overboard, but charitable giving hardly qualifies as a bad faith proposition. I laid out terms of that donation in a previous post, but let’s clarify now that we are talking about it.

The spirit of the deal is simply a goal to ratchet down the negative personal chatter. One can never control what others say online, but one can choose to let it go or even ignore it.

Who knows if this experiment will accomplish anything sustainable. I hope it does.

Shall we agree that the $10k is in your hands to distribute to worthy causes on fulfillment of the following terms?

1. No derogatory mention of Dr. Shades board, or its members, through end of Feb. 2020. By yourself, and as host of this site, by your good faith effort to moderate such comments by others here.

2. Nothing in the deal limits your range to express conviction on and debate issues of interest.

Dr. Moore


Simple enough, right? If the Mopologists could refrain from their usual vicious antics for a mere six months, then the coffers of "Mormon Interpreter" would be $10,000 richer. While Dr. Peterson himself didn't seem to have much difficulty reining in his worst impulses, the same could not be said for his closest pals--namely Louis Midgley and Kiwi57--and barely a month into the experiment, Kiwi/Pahoran couldn't hold back his vitriol any longer, and ruined the deal:

Kiwi57 to Dr. Shades wrote:Not at all. As a dedicated anti-Mormon hate propagandist, you always prefer to insert your spin at every opportunity.


Sadly, that put an end to Dr. Moore's noble gesture, but he was gracious nonetheless:

Dr. Moore wrote:The $10,000 deal, as formulated with Dr. Peterson, is canceled.

As the only judge, I accept partial credit for the failure. Poor experimental construction. Too subjective were the criteria to allow for integrity to the letter while at the same time encouraging a smooth transition from from a boiling ocean to glassy pond.

Does one violation break the "best faith moderation" covenant? Two? Three? By whom? How often? Must every offending comment be deleted? What words specifically constitute an offence? How to judge implied vs explicit derogatory references? In what time frame must moderation action be taken? The devil, as they say, is in the details.

Clearly enough violations trickled through that I can not with integrity say that the letter of the arrangement has been met. The deal must be voided.

And yet, Dr. Peterson and several of his compatriots have made an impressive effort. Progress has been made. It is healthy progress. I am encouraged by what could happen with continued emphasis to wrap content in civility.

As a fellow MormonDiscussions colleague wrote a few days ago:
Kishkumen wrote:We should always think of how we might do better by our opponents than they do by us. We may be wrong in imagining we have succeeded, but we will all be better off for trying



Therefore, while the current experiment has ended, I wish to make a parting gesture to invest in the future of civility on both sides of these heated conversations.

1) I will make a lesser donation to Interpreter Foundation, as a token of my good faith in Dr. Peterson, and admiration for his sincere effort in this exercise. Thank you, Dr. Peterson, for the past month and thank you in advance for future efforts.

2) I will also be making a donation to Radio Free Mormon, as a counterbalancing show of appreciation for the cost of continued research and articulated expression about challenging topics of interest to all of us.

Lastly, a word of appreciation to many who assisted with this experiment, and whose patience I have likely tried to the breaking point. Please PM me if anything I've done here offended you.


Who knows how much of an impact this ultimately made? Midgley is still being unrelentingly nasty towards others on a more or less daily basis. DCP et al. are still as vicious as ever towards Gemli and others. Censorship and bannings are still rampant on "Sic et Non." And what should we conclude from the fact that the Mopologists tossed away an opportunity for $10,000 just so they could keep acting like jerks? Business as usual?

Whatever the case may be, you have to admit that the incident speaks volumes about what the apologists value the most. Dr. Moore's experiment was brilliant precisely because it fused two of the Mopologists' key interests--viciousness and money--and put them into conversation with each other in a uniquely provocative way. The Mopologists were going to lose no matter what with this one, and yet they were blinded by their own greed--their own hubris.

And who knows what 2020 holds in store for us?

* * * * * * * * * *

And thus another Top Ten list comes to an end. This was a very rich year, though, with lots of incidents worthy of at least an honorable mention:

--Allegations swirl about DCP's "impending retirement"

--Mopologists Panic When Archive of Old FARMS Crap is Temporarily Taken Off-line

--Midgley Attacks McConkie

--The Mopologists Target an MI-Affiliated Grad Student

--A "Mormon Interpreter" Editor Goes Turncoat

--DCP Argues that MMM was Caused by "Anti-Mormons"

--DCP Compares LGBTQ+ Activists to Nazi Book-Burners

--Cruise Lady is Revealed to be an Official Sponsor of Interpreter


Whew! What a year it has been. The weather grows ever more cold, and the nights grow ever longer, but we can all take refuge in the warm glow of the fire in the Cassius Faculty Lounge. Dr. Everybody Wang Chung, I understand, will be furnishing us with the special fruitcake he makes each year (he learned to make it while serving as a bishop). Meanwhile, Dean Robbers is finalizing his shopping list for our annual holiday banquet.

All of which is to say: a very happy holiday season to you and yours! Give thanks, sup on turkeys and desserts, and let us pray that 2020 will be just as filled with adventure and intrigue as 2019 was.[/quote]
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14
_Philo Sofee
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Re: The Top Ten Happenings in Mopologetics, 2019

Post by _Philo Sofee »

I must say, without question, this is one of my very favorite annual posts. You always have a way of putting context into things and in order of their importance that are intriguing, educational, intuitive, searching and learning. Indeed 2019 is going to be a VERY hard year to beat in Mopologetics. I also must say, seeing this annual posting causes me to pray to the great Zeus, or I mean Thor, er, well, perhaps Muhtumba, oh well heck, Elohim, oh sheesh, you get he point, the heavens, that I am no longer saddled with the impossibility of being an apologist for organized religion. Spirituality is so vastly more enjoyable and attainable and joyful than organized religion ever can be. I thank my lucky stars for being able to be awakened to the awful state with which I was in. Being "saved" never felt so good.
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Re: The Top Ten Happenings in Mopologetics, 2019

Post by _Shulem »

Philo Sofee wrote:Spirituality is so vastly more enjoyable and attainable and joyful than organized religion ever can be. I thank my lucky stars for being able to be awakened to the awful state with which I was in. Being "saved" never felt so good.


Amen and amen.

Me too.
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Re: The Top Ten Happenings in Mopologetics, 2019

Post by _Kishkumen »

Congratulations on another rousing success, Doctor! Your yearly Top Ten is a global event now, drawing attention from every country and clime. I, too, found 2019 an unexpectedly eventful time for Mopologetics, but you have immortalized it with your usual panache and keen eye.

I am most eager, however, to see how Witnesses pans out. I have high hopes that it will be the most moving propagandistic falsification of history the Church has produced. I want it to be the kind of movie that will keep Baby Boomers in the pews to their dying day.

But what of younger generations? Here is where my curiosity and anticipation are almost unbearable. Will the kind of production that succeeded in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s work now with younger viewers? Or will they only enjoy it in an ironic way, as a goof of a way to waste an afternoon in SLC?
"Petition wasn’t meant to start a witch hunt as I’ve said 6000 times." ~ Hanna Seariac, LDS apologist
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Re: The Top Ten Happenings in Mopologetics, 2019

Post by _Res Ipsa »

Bravo!!
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Re: The Top Ten Happenings in Mopologetics, 2019

Post by _Tator »

Never disappoints. Thanxsgiving early.
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Re: The Top Ten Happenings in Mopologetics, 2019

Post by _Doctor Scratch »

Many thanks for the kind words! Reverend Kishkumen, I agree with you: I cannot wait for the Witnesses film. In fact, in terms of "Most Anticipated Movies of 2020," for me, it is beginning to seem like a toss-up between the Witnesses movie and Denis Villenueve's Dune. Yes: that's how serious I am about this.

But this remark of yours was striking to me:

Kishkumen wrote: I have high hopes that it will be the most moving propagandistic falsification of history the Church has produced.


Yes: what is the goal of this film? Is it "propaganda" is the sense that it's meant to persuade people that the LDS Church is true? Is the goal principally aesthetic, meaning that the filmmaker's chief aim is to make a moving, artful film? (Hint: the answer is "No.") Or, as I have speculated elsewhere, is the goal principally Mopologetic, meaning that the film is being made so that the Executive Producer can fill his own head with more hot air, can put "Film Producer" on his CV, can point to the film as supposedly "refuting" criticisms of the Church, and, possibly, benefit financially? Well, of course we will have to wait and see. These are exciting times we are living in--that's for sure.
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Re: The Top Ten Happenings in Mopologetics, 2019

Post by _Everybody Wang Chung »

Dr. Scratch,

Brilliant, insightful and witty as always!

Reading your annual Top 10 list is always a bittersweet experience for me knowing that we will have to wait another 12 months to read your next installment.

Occasionally, an intellectual giant comes along into the world and leaves footprints on our hearts and minds. We are never, ever the same.

Thank you Dr. Scratch! Merry Christmas and may God continue to bless you and your family!
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Re: The Top Ten Happenings in Mopologetics, 2019

Post by _DrW »

Dr. Scratch,

What a pleasure to awaken to your annual review of Mopologetics - a more exciting holiday event around here than Christmas morning. More than 4,500 page views over a single night is testament to the significance the community places on your work. Your selection for number 1 reflects deep insight into the Mopologetics problem.

Well done as always.

Thank you.
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DrW: "Mistakes in science are learning opportunities and are eventually corrected."
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Re: The Top Ten Happenings in Mopologetics, 2019

Post by _Kishkumen »

Doctor Scratch wrote:Many thanks for the kind words! Reverend Kishkumen, I agree with you: I cannot wait for the Witnesses film. In fact, in terms of "Most Anticipated Movies of 2020," for me, it is beginning to seem like a toss-up between the Witnesses movie and Denis Villenueve's Dune. Yes: that's how serious I am about this.


LDS folk at large have no idea about the freight train of burning bosoms that is about to slam into them. Truly this will be travels in hyper-reality! Eco would have been thrilled, had he still been alive to witness it.

And so, you see, this is the meta-poetic function of the title of the film. It exists to plant in its viewers the epiphany of the plates they could never otherwise have—it makes them witnesses to an event that never happened in the way it will now be splashed on the silver screen.

Kubrick understood all this—the cinematic epiphany—when he gave us the Monolith in his landmark sci-fi/art film 2001. Once again, your instincts are right on the mark, Doctor. Dune is another, less subtle version of the same (I confess to being more of a Lynch fan).

Perhaps we should be thinking of the non-linear reiterations and variations of Maya Deren. Each propaganda film produced by the fans of Mormonism adds to a kind of evolving master text (eternal progression) that brings us closer and closer to denying facts and indulging our fantasies, or denying our own powers of imagination to allow DCP to plant his visions in our minds.

But this remark of yours was striking to me:

Kishkumen wrote: I have high hopes that it will be the most moving propagandistic falsification of history the Church has produced.


Yes: what is the goal of this film? Is it "propaganda" is the sense that it's meant to persuade people that the LDS Church is true? Is the goal principally aesthetic, meaning that the filmmaker's chief aim is to make a moving, artful film? (Hint: the answer is "No.") Or, as I have speculated elsewhere, is the goal principally Mopologetic, meaning that the film is being made so that the Executive Producer can fill his own head with more hot air, can put "Film Producer" on his CV, can point to the film as supposedly "refuting" criticisms of the Church, and, possibly, benefit financially? Well, of course we will have to wait and see. These are exciting times we are living in--that's for sure.


Important questions, Doctor. I humbly speculate that the implicit goal is to subvert existing views of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and replace them with a Mopologetic fantasy that is better than real. We are seeing Mopologists embrace Debord here, finding a way to bury us in an avalanche of prefabricated visions so that the Mopologetic Gospel becomes THE LDS GOSPEL, and its purveyors join the ranks of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other auteurs of LDS revelation and spectacle.
"Petition wasn’t meant to start a witch hunt as I’ve said 6000 times." ~ Hanna Seariac, LDS apologist
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