Miscellaneous Thoughts on Religion

The following are comments made by others that I thought were thought provoking.  In addition to these thoughts, no one is provoked enough without visiting the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research and the FARMS sites.  

I can also recommend the Shields site at http://www.shields-research.org/TannrIn2.htm for example.  The following is an excerpt.

I explained to Sandra that Foster had correctly argued that the Tanners are entirely unwilling to subject their own faith and its foundations to the kinds of demands that they make of Latter-day Saints.  To this Sandra replied that Foster was right.  I tried to explain that there is something wrong with insisting that we satisfy her demands for what she calls proof and for consistency, when she does not require that Evangelicals satisfy those same standards.  Her reply was that her evangelical faith was true and hence did not need to satisfy any standards of proof.  And Latter-day Saint faith is false and hence must satisfy her really demanding standards.  Like what, I asked?  We have no "proof" for the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon.  What might constitute such "proof," I asked?  Artifacts that showed that Nephites lived in meso-America?  Yes, exactly, was her reply.  Would you, if I could show you such an artifact--say, something in stone with Nephi's name on it, agree that the Book of Mormon is authentic history?  No, she replied.  That would only be a matter for further discussion.  She could not think of anything that would convince her that there actually were Nephites.

She then argued that the Bible has the backing of the kinds of "proof" she demands from Latter-day Saints on the Book of Mormon.

I asked Sandra what was the core or crucial or fundamental historical element in her faith.  She replied: "the resurrection of Jesus."  Then I asked her what "proof" there was for the resurrection.  Which artifact "proves" that Jesus was resurrected.  She was silent.  Then she began to say that the followers of Jesus believed that he was and some claimed to have actually seen the resurrected Jesus.  But, I argued, the mere fact that people believed something does not make it true.  After all, lots of Latter-day Saints believe things that she does not accept as true.  At this point she was reduced to telling us about her positive "feelings" about Jesus and her negative "feelings" about Joseph Smith.  She abandoned her talk about "proof" entirely.

Incidently, Foster now argues that Joseph Smith can be explained in psychological terms--he was bi-polar.  But so was Jesus and just about every large figure in the history of religion.  If we had only had lithium, we would not be troubled with religion.  What an idiot.  And it turns out that Sandra Tanner denies that Foster is Christian.  Why?  He denies the resurrection.  Why, I asked, is that an issue.  Because, she insisted, the acceptance or rejection of the resurrection is the issue upon which a distinction can and must be made between being Christian and not being Christian.  I asked her over and over if that is the issue upon which one classifies people.  She insisted that it was the sole issue separating Christians and non-Christians.  Now you can see where I was headed, I hope.  I then asked Sandra if she would admit that Latter-day Saints are Christians, since we insist on the resurrection.  She was caught in her own little trap and changed the subject.

Subject: Re: History
Date: Sun, May 3, 1998 11:49 EDT
From: Pistas3
Message-id: <1998050315495500.LAA23416@ladder03.news.aol.com>

Stephen...found this in the Evening and Morning Star by Cowdery...could this be part of what you are referring to? This is pretty amazing stuff to be saying in that time period!

Evening and Morning Star (Feb 1834) Oliver Cowdery "Outrage," p.129 (emphasis added)

These men say in their secret constitution, that, "We believe it a duty we owe ourselves, to our wives and children, to the cause of public morals, to remove them from among us as we are not prepared to give up our pleasant places, and goodly possessions to them, or to receive into the bosoms of our families, as fit companions for our wives and daughters, the degraded and corrupted free negroes and mulattoes, that are now invighted to settle among us."

In other words, the anti-LDS were complaining of Cowdrey's invitation to all Free Men of Color to come and settle among the LDS.

Degraded and corrupted! What a pity, that a society, who are endeavoring by every possible means to abuse and defile the virtuous even by condescending to stimulate negroes to go under cover of darkness and commit the basest crimes, should be corrupted and degraded! It would appear to us as consistent, as it would for Lucifer to accuse one of his angels of being unholy! The cause of public morals! If a people are sunk so low as to be guilty of deeds of this magnitude, we are at a loss to know what they could imagine could be introduced among them to make them any more degraded.

For of all things which have ever been charged against any people recorded in the sacred volume, who were cut off from the face of the earth for their wickedness, we know not of many that exceeded them. God destroyed the old world because of their wickedness, and not listening to the preaching of Noah. He overthrew Sodom, Gomorrah, and the cities about them, because they were proud and filled with bread. He also dispersed the Jews for rejecting the Messiah, and scattered them to the four winds; but here is a set of men in danger of having their public morals corrupted, who make a pretence to religion, and are so far beneath every thing heretofore extant on earth in the form of wickedness, that they will set their Afric colored population to steal into the dwellings of peaceable neighbors and defile the virtuous!

I.e. they are attacking the LDS claiming that the people of color they are inviting into their society will defile the virtuous in the non-LDS community.

They said, "We will ravish your women!" No promise of mercy, ever so solemnly made, has been observed a moment when they saw an opportunity to abuse the persons of their hatred. But on the other side, every act of abuse which they swore to commit, when ever a possibility presented, it was done or attempted. An attempt was made by a gang of these lawless miscreants to abuse a lady who was in the most delicate situation in life, when a part were pursuing her husband to take his life, and others were engaged in pulling down his dwelling round her in the dead hour of the night! These are facts which will stand recorded upon the pages of the history of the inhabitants of the nineteenth century!

Cowdrey is referring to an anti-LDS mob that tore down a house, attempted to murder the man, and rape the pregant wife.  This particular mob was objecting the thought that the LDS might allow persons of color in the community.

A century proud of its liberal laws, and its advance in science and religion! Which is entitled to the appelation, Civilized? We talk in our country of savages, whose customs and habits, we say, are such that it is necessary that missionaries should be sent immediately to convert them from their idolatry, and teach them the blessings of civilized life. Is it color that constitutes a savage, or is it the acts of men that appear disgustful, and awake in our breasts feelings of pity and compassion for them?

You know what is interesting in this...you can put any "target" for hatred in this instead of those of the "Afic colored population". He could be talking about that hate filled person who follows us about from folder to folder to vent his bigotry....he could have written the last sentence about HIM: Is it color that constitutes a savage, or is it the acts of men that appear disgustful, and awake in our breasts feelings of pity and compassion for them?

Pistas3 agrees that it is not race that makes someone a savage, but how they act.

Questions for anti-Mormon hatemongers:

1. Does prejudice make me feel an importance and worth I would not otherwise feel, by drawing sharp contrasts between myself and others whom I have deemed unworthy?

2. Does prejudice make me feel powerful, when I would otherwise feel powerless and vulnerable? Does prejudice permit me to feel the defensive power of the stockade and the aggressive power of dominating other's lives?

3. Does prejudice make me feel a winner by letting me arrange my world so that I come out on top when I would otherwise feel a loser?

4. Does prejudice make me feel that I really belong to a group of people, when I would otherwise feel keenly my isolation and loneliness? Does prejudice enable me to build a sense of group solidarity, by huddling with my fellows in prejudice, and by making our closeness seem artificially great by contrast with the separation we impose on others?

5. Does prejudice make me feel that I have a place in the universe after all, when I would otherwise feel a wandering fugitve? Does prejudice stabilize an otherwise turbulent world by marking out clear though artificial boundaries?

6. Does prejudice help me to cope with tthe terrifying world by making the world much, much smaller and enclosed? Does prejudice help me to cope with a terrifying world by imposing on it a rigid grid?

7. Does prejudice make me to feel that I can save myself by damning others?

(excerpted from: James Dittes Bias and the Pious. Augsburg Publishing House, 1973.)

A wonderful quote from Richard P. McBrien "What is the Kingdom of God? -- A Theologian Explains the Key Image of the Gospel" Catholic Update (1980), p. 2

(after all, both Brigham Young and Joseph Smith stated that one could find truth in other religious viewpoints ...)

"It [the kingdom of God] exists wherever God's will is at work.
And God's will is at work wherever people are faithful to the
command that we love one another ... We can define the king-
dom of God as the redemptive presence of God. This redemptive
(or saving) presence of God can be found in everyday personal
experiences... When we pray, "Thy kingdom come," we are
hoping also for the inbreaking of God's power -- right now --
in our daily lives.  Our God is a living God.  God's power is a
present power."


Also, from Joseph Frankovic's The Kingdom of Heaven (from the Jerusalem Bible Class Series, HaKesher, Inc.) at pages 31-32.

"The kingdom of heaven resembles a concept in rabbinic Judaism
called tikun ha-olam, which literally means "mending the world."
When one enters (or joins) the kingdom of heaven, one becomes
a partner with God in spreading redemption throughout a hurting
world.  That person goes out and feeds the hungry; clothes the
naked; visits those who are in the hospital and prison; prays for
the sick and defends the rights of the orphan and widow.  A per-
son who has entered the kingdom of heaven gets involved in
people's lives.  He or she pursues a lifestyle characterized by
mending our world; where there is hatred, he or she sows love;
where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where
there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light' and where
there is sadness, joy."

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