anti-gays, last days, and non-traditional Mormons

7/17 - 9/18 Messages

The most recent messages can be found here.

received 9/18/99 (This was two messages and two responses. I've put them together here for the sake of clarity.)
Hugh B. Brown maintain that the Church ought to recognize homosexuality as a legitimate "lifestyle" as the intellectual world has done?

He may have realized that people are born with certain characteristics beyond their control. Hence, his wish for blacks to get the priesthood long before they were granted such status.

This presupposes that [homosexuals being born that way] is true, which is by no means foregone.

I have about half a dozen friends who are gay. Not one of them would have 'chosen' to become gay. Their lives have become hell because of the sexual orientation they were born with. They've lost far more friends and family members because of their sexuality than they have gained. If you asked any one of them if they'd rather have been born heterosexual they would all say yes. In current society, a person would have to enjoy being hated, descrimitated against, and losing friends to ignore their natural instincts and 'choose' to be gay. As Bishop Tutu stated,

"Someone has said that if this sexual orientation were indeed a matter of personal choice, the homosexual persons must be the craziest coots around to choose a way of life that exposes them to so much hostility, discrimination, loss and suffering."
From this page in which we read about a young man who committed suicide because he was born gay:
"This is not my choice [being gay]. This is not forced upon me. This just is."
There is far too much evidence that homosexuality is a product of choice. For one thing, like many other mental/emotional dysfunctions, it can be cured.

I've seen these 'cures' attempted on others. It never worked even though they were willing participants. It isn't any easier to turn a homosexual hetero than it is to turn a hetero homo. Sure some can fake being one or the other for whatever reason, but that isn't a cure. See for example this page.

Would Hugh B. Brown insist that radical thought totally contradicting Church teachings ought to be put on an equal footing with more conventional thought at BYU?

He was for freedom of thought. BYU isn't a university. It is a seminary.

I submit he was for truth. "Freedom of thought" as it is currently defined simply seeks to overturn the applecart, and set radical thought in the place of what was previously accepted. In fact, the trend has been AWAY from truth, when it is not politically expedient. BYU is rather unique only in that it hasn't changed from what it always taught. The rest of "academia" moved in a radically different direction, away from truth, to embrace error. That is inevitable in these latter days, but what I find to be a sad thing is folks like you who are willing to substitute error for truth when you should know better.

What you are (I hope innocently) failing to recognize is that Hugh B. Brown lived in a vastly different time. "Mormon" values were not no different from the values espoused publicly by political and relgious leaders. In fact, you can find the current writings and ideas of such men in the talks of not only Hugh B. Brown, but David O. McKay and many others back in the 40s and 50s.

I agree. The church has, in many cases, moved towards a form of rigid neo-orthodoxy in the last few decades. People like Packer and Benson were some of the leaders of this charge.

Wrong. "The world" has moved toward a radical, humanistic and error-riven view of the world and man's place in it. The Church has not, and the widening rift "embarrasses" the so-called "intellectuals" of the Church who don't want to miss the way-cool, bleeding-edge "bus" they think is leaving the Church behind.

Now, however, our "leaders" consist of men of such noble and virtuous character as Bill Clinton and Chris Rock. Our public life in these United States has become a vast moral and ethical wasteland.

You preferred Nixon I take it? His style was similar to that of Paul H. Dunn and Gordon B. Hinckley after all. I'm not a fan of Clinton myself and know nothing about Chris Rock.

Actually, I preferred Abraham Lincoln.

How ironic given some of Lincoln's views.

I'm not much of a fan of anyone from Roosevelt onward, except for Ronald Reagan.

I hope you are not being disingenuous, but I believe you are the fellow who tried to draw a parallel between the Church's opposition to same-sex marriage, and opposition to Plural Marriage by the Church's enemies in the 1870s and 80s. With that sort of thinking, I'm not sure you would "get" the points I've made above.

And I'm not sure you would get the point that Mormons weren't forcing others into polygamy a hundred years ago just as those born gay aren't forcing others into homosexuality.

I disagree with your statement. Gays are actively infiltrating and recruiting at even the elementary school level. They make no secret of their agenda. This is not a case of "live and let live," it is the case of moving in a direction where one day, the sodomites will be at your door, demanding that you surrender the guests in your house for their amusement.

Homosexuality has always been decadent, decrepit, nihilistic and destructive. When it is not socially accepted, its evil effect is not so apparent. When it moves into the mainstream, it eventually destroys the society that permits it.

This, too, is "truth," though you may shrink from it, because (believe it or not) you are orthodox, and I (and the Church) am a radical. I believe the truth and don't believe it ever changed just so some few intellectuals could feel confident of being on the "A" list for invitations to intellectual gatherings in New York City and Southern California.

I have no idea what you are referring to here. My views certainly weren't created in order to receive a pat on the back or an invitiation to some gathering (that I've never even heard of). You sound pretty angry (and more than a bit fanatical to think what you do about gays "infiltrating and recruiting" in elementary schools and sodomizing anyone and everyone).

Again, I'm not asking that you become gay or even change your opinion that gays are "decadent, decrepit, nihilistic and destructive". You are free to hate anyone you want for whatever reason so long as you respect the rights they do enjoy under law.

I wish for you nothing but happiness.

received 9/2/99
It is unfortunate that I am lacking in the ability to use descriptive adjectives, for now would be the opportune time in which to use one. Would it be too vague or insulting to say that your website was one of the best sites I have ever read? Thank you.

Until I saw the word "best" I was certain this would be another one of those messages I receive on a daily basis condemning me to hell. ;)

received 8/29/99
Look up
Gustave LeBon, a French physician whose hobby was Sociology. His perspective comes from the physical illness of people at a time, early 1900's, when infection and bacteria were the new frontier. He siad people in groups act differantly, than as indivduals. Three elements are needed to form a group or crowd: belief system, enemy, and charismatic leader. The idea or belief, whether religious or political is all the same. It's the effect on the crowd mind that's important. Ideas spread like contagion, and those that can least stand the light of reason and intelligence, often have the most tenacious hold on the popular mind. Every day I look at behavior around me and see if its individual or group effect. Crowd/group psychology is as important as indivual and is underemphasized in our culture. Gustave was a no nonsense man. The behaviors he described in his French Revolution happened exactly the same way under Hitler. He said the crowd behavior patterns are cross cultural and constant throughout History. Just watch the evening news. His book is hard to find, but if you were in LDS, you'll sure understand Gustave. I quit organized Episcopal religion, in 1988. My twin boys are Gay. I had them leave Dallas for California. I loved that intellectual liberal Church until they swung to the right. I am not "ranting"... this is not my opinion or belief. LeBon's work is essentialy a text book observation and not easy to read, but worth every effort. It will let you see History in a totally new way and you will see behaviors explained that puzzled you till now.
received 8/20/99
In case you haven't seen it, the 8/23/99 issue of Time magazine has several articles about human evolution, including a commentary by
Gould addressing the state of Kansas promoting the teaching of creationism.
received 8/20/99
I'd like to comment about your WHOLE page in's delightful really My only wish is that I could read extraordinarily fast...or simply eat the books on your list They're truly food for the brain :)

Our wishes aren't far apart. ;)

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson hasn't made it on your list yet and it's a VERY good book It's sci-fi/fantasy Have ya read it? If so...why's it not on the list?

I haven't read it or even heard of it. I'll look into it. Thanks for the suggestion.

received 8/10/99
How the Mind Works exceeds The Language Instinct by light years!

How so?

Put it back on top of your list.

The 23 Feb. 1998 issue of New Republic review entitled "The Know-It-All" sounds like How the Mind Works is The Language Instinct Part II. Pinker's dogmatic writing style was the worst part of The Language Instinct for me. I'll pass on reading anything more from Pinker unless you can come up with some compelling reasons why I'm missing out.

received 7/23/99
Hi! I enjoyed
your reviews of astronomy books. I am currently reading Blind Watchers of the Sky and agree with you totally; it's an excellent book and Rocky Kolb has a gift.

Two things: one is that Ken Croswell has a book coming out called Magnificent Universe, due out in the fall, I think. It is a gee-whiz type book, *loaded* with pictures, and is aimed at people who really know almost no astronomy. You may find it a bit low-level, but I have been assured the images are dynamite.

Second: I have astronomy-based movie reviews at my website, and I plan on adding books as well. I will put in a link to your site when I set up those pages, hopefully by summer's end.

Your credo ("What is this site about?") makes an excellent summary of how I feel about critical thinking as well. My website (Bad Astronomy) is light-hearted, but carries the same message as on your webpage. I too have written articles about thinking critically, and I hope to make that point over and over in the future.

Thanks for having such a good site!

received 7/17/99
I have enjoyed reading much of the impressive material you've assembled, and the rather active dialogue you have undertaken with respondents. I can appreciate the care and effort you have brought to this task. This e-mail is not a response to a specific issue, but I hope you will not mind if I share one or two general comments.

I believe I am what James Coates referred to as an "intellectual Mormon" - one who does not shy away from criticism, but who nonetheless maintains an association with the LDS church. I find my position to be most bizarre. Often, particularly after I have given lessons or talks at church, other members, the Bishop, even stake leaders have praised me for my "knowledge of the Gospel." While I am not hypocritical, meaning that I have not born testimony where none exists, I nevertheless feel isolated because I do not share the simple, accepting faith of the others in any great degree. I have not ever been able to accept religious "fact" - LDS or otherwise - blindly. Rather, I champion the cause of such men as Paul Johnson, who wrote a number of years ago (and I paraphrase) that Christianity should not shun any amount or degree of scrutiny if it is true. Great faith, then, arises out of questioning, and in fact it demands it.

The isolation I feel (and I know this to be felt by others) arises from the fact that, following intellectual scrutiny, my "faith" and "knowledge of the Gospel" praised by my peers and church leaders is in reality backed up by a philosophical conundrum not only not scriptural in its sources, but of such a nature that, if it were widely shared, would either be wholly misunderstood or sufficient evidence to brand me an "anti-Mormon." I have shared much of this personal dogma with a very few others - my wife, for one, cannot understand more than a scrap of it.

Are you familiar with Sunstone? I imagine you are, but in case you aren't, I think you'd fit right in and be able to find others in your shoes to commune with.

I can understand the hesitation you've expressed towards formulating such a mess. Faith should be simply gathered, and simply expressed. And yet, my formulation, the faith it supports and the resulting testimony has arisen from and led to what for me are undeniable experiences which solidify its truth. I cannot reproduce these experiences for you or anyone else; should I try, they would no doubt fail the test of scientific scrutiny you have so rigorously - and correctly - employed.

The two facets of my faith, leading to this point, have been testimony and experience. They are produced by and feed off one another. I see the two as inseparable parts of a process. You are correct in your identification of the circular argument in this - that one must believe (the Bible or the BOM or God or whatever) before one can pray and have the experience (such as promised in Moroni 10), and yet the belief rests upon the experience being prayed for. (Instantaneous conversions such as that Paul experienced are addmittably rare, and suspect to others when they occur.) But, by understanding the two halves of the formula (our prayer and belief, and the resulting experiences when they occur) as an ongoing process, rather than as an instantaneous event, it may be possible to see how any experience, even one resulting from chance, can lead to a further grain of belief, and more experience, and so on and so forth. The process is by no means perfect, and - this being a crucial point - it generally does not result in reproducible experiences nor those which would withstand scientific scrutiny - but by my experience this is the way in which testimonies are produced and how they flourish.

I agree with you that this is how testimonies are produced and how they flourish. However, nearly any faith-based system regardless of how much it contradicts other systems which similarly flourish can be built upon such a methodology.

I do not know specifically why God does not answer you when you pray. As you have said in many responses, you would like someone like me to "send God your way." I cannot look inside you to see how the spirit (or the experience) is being "derailed." I can tell you, however, that it is most unlikely that you will ever have any religious experience which doubt and skepticism cannot cause to immediately vanish. It is like trying to light a fire underwater - the spirit simply does not dwell in an atmosphere of doubt. The reason stated for this is that God demands of us faith, not belief based upon proof.

And this is the crux of the problem with faith-based methodology. Psychics have the same problem. They lose their powers when skeptics are nearby. God is a strange creature to demand faith. Why should a god demand faith? Why should anyone or any system demand faith? The only reason I can imagine is that they (the people who claim to speak for God) have nothing which they must pretend to make look like something. It is the Wizard of Oz syndrome. Faith can certainly move people to do and/or think things that they wouldn't otherwise do and/or think. That is the power of mythology. However, it still doesn't make the myths any more 'real' or the little man behind the curtain any more wizardlike in any objective sense.

Conversely, from the scientific and rational standpoint, the faithful who are embarked on the process I have described appear to be lost in a higher and higher state of delusion, both to others, and sometimes to themselves. It is not a rational position they have attained, no matter how much happiness their belief nets them - a point made by William James in an old essay (The Will to Believe).

Accordingly, when I am challenged for my beliefs, either from Fundamentalists (for the fact that Mormon doctrine "contradicts" the Bible), or from the Humanist/Scientific camp (for the fact that The Book of Mormon cannot withstand scientific observation and criticism), the challenge has the curious effect of actually bolstering my beliefs! Since I am challenged on both ends for the sake of rational shortcomings, and my faith has no clearly rational bases, I am comforted only by further divorcing myself from rationality - at least in that one department of my intellect. Generally, I've been rewarded almost immediately in such cases by further experiences of a "spiritual" nature, which serve as reinforcement for my convictions - almost a sort of cheap conditioned response. Truly, in the words of Tertullian, "I believe because it is absurd."

I know the feeling having been there. I get similar feelings in other aspects of my life. The difficulty here is that "spirituality", to me, now and in the past, has always felt more or less the same regardless of what it was in reference to. In fact, the biggest chills I've had in my life to this point didn't come while attending the Mormon temple, when hearing a faith-promoting story, or when doing anything considered 'religious'. They have tended to occur when I was listening to secular music, experiencing the great outdoors, or reading secular literature.

This must seem to be the sorriest possible state of affairs for people like yourselves, who have embraced rationality and the scientific method as our best, if not sole source of "truth." It seems, taken from the rational light, that I am not only delusional, yet in possession of the worst possible unmoving dogma. Yet this formulation allows me to avoid the inaccuracies and plain lies spouted by certain groups in order to foster "proof" - either the FARMS group, for the Book of Mormon, or the Fundamentalists, who claim infallibility of Biblical texts. I can honestly explore Mormonism in an objective light, and can freely admit to the various failures you have gathered. I can participate in dialogues which openly challenge the church - much to the dismay of the Fundamentalists or rationalists who engage me in them - while my faith is safe in a virtually unassailable haven of irrationality. It allows me the opportunity of free discourse, and of tolerance towards others beliefs - not generally qualities to be found associated with dogmatic positions.

It is good that you are tolerant. The orthodox folks seem to have a problem with others believing or doing things different from them. I have no problem with the beliefs of others as long as their beliefs don't cause actions that adversely affect others. Regardless of how much I disbelieve in their theology, I hope they find happiness in it should they choose to stick with their faith.

My hope is that somehow the truth of the church will be manifested to its membership to the point where a majority of Mormons can fearlessly enter into challenging dialogues, either in the formulation I've achieved or by some other means. I do see some progress in this area, but it is very slow - such blows handed down by the leadership as suppressing Brent Lee Metcalf's book shows that the general membership, and indeed the world at large, is ill-prepared to accept it. I feel there are many others like myself, who have found some way to maintain testimonies in spite of possessing objective reasoning at some level. Unfortunately, for the time being, we exist in isolation, ironically being praised for our "excellent testimonies" and "in-depth knowledge" by those with whom we can share so little, other than in a superficial sphere.

You are probably right. There are many in your shoes. I get similar email all the time. The internet is helping to form communities of people who were previously isolated. Hopefully, you can find others to share your 'enlightened Mormon' views. There are few things I'd want more than for the church to move toward a more open, honest, tolerant, and intellectual environment. After all, doesn't the D&C still say (despite some other verses which can be interpreted to the contrary) that the glory of God is intelligence?

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