Friday, April 9, 2010

Some LDS "Intellectuals" Consider The Restored Gospel Of Jesus Christ To Be Nothing More Than "High-Fructose Correlated Corn Syrup"

While the glory of God is intelligence, the curse of God sometimes can be intellectuals. Yes, I have become somewhat anti-intellectual, but not because I envy them their superior brainpower or academic accomplishments.

The problem is intellectual arrogance. Once intellectuals become thoroughly steeped in academia, some become so exclusively associated with other intellectuals that they lose sight on the thoughts, hopes, and feelings of others. They begin to look down upon those with lesser academic credentials, becoming lifted up in the pride of the hearts just as the Nephites did on so many occasions as documented in the Book of Mormon. They begin to express doubt about Church doctrine and history, not so much for the sake of leavening and uplifting the faith, but opposition merely for the sake of opposition. They glorify being in opposition.

An example of this problem is manifested on the LDSScience blog. In this post, Jared introduces readers to the Mormon Scholars Testify website, an online collection of essays by LDS scholars of various types who explain why they believe in the Restored Gospel. However, Jared appears particularly enamored with those who express "doubts"; specifically, with one Grant Hardy, who is quoted as saying "I am still bothered by a number of things—the lack of direct archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, its anachronistic quotations from Second Isaiah, polygamy, the Mountain Meadows massacre, our exclusive reliance on the King James Bible, our tendency to mythologize our history, our preference for sentimentality over substance, our quickness to label honest disagreements as anti-Mormonism, our devotion to the Boy Scouts, and my own impatience when the church doesn’t speak out more forcefully on moral issues such as torture or access to healthcare". Jared says he would like to hear more testimonies like this at a typical fast & testimony meeting.

More disturbingly, Jared seems to characterize the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ as little more than "high-fructose correlated corn syrup".

"High-fructose correlated corn syrup"? I'd like to see Jared tell those pioneers who pulled handcarts across the Great Plains and the Rockies that they struggled, suffered, and died for nothing more than "high-fructose correlated corn syrup". I would like to see Jared tell a tarred-and-feathered Joseph Smith that the Father and the Son only handed out "high-fructose correlated corn syrup" during the First Vision. And I would like to see Jared tell those 50,000+ missionaries who wear holes in their Rockports bringing the fulness of the Gospel to people worldwide that they are pushing nothing more than "high-fructose correlated corn syrup". This is the type of intellectual arrogance that produces grist for the propaganda mills of people like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin; they mine the resultant backlash and transform it into a political force that on rare occasion, can be expressed malevolently, as it was when Senator Harry Reid was scheduled to appear at a Fireside in Southern Nevada.

Jared also fails to realize that the majority of people who attend a fast & testimony meeting do not go to have their faith challenged, but to have their faith affirmed and strengthened. They don't want to hear some "valuable intellectual property" get up and express whiny doubts about Church doctrine and history. Of course, worshippers also grow quickly weary of those who merely get up and regurgitate that they "know the Church is true, that Jesus is the Christ, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet, yada, yada, yada", then abruptly sit back down; the latter is a manifestation of the Rameumpton Syndrome. Instead, the majority of worshippers want to hear humble but inspiring testimonies about why people joined the Church, why they remain members, and how the Gospel has positively impacted their lives.

By the way, there is a logical reason for "correlation". It's to ensure that regardless of whether you visit a ward in New York, Nigeria, or Nauru, you will hear the SAME Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ being preached the SAME way. Correlation combats confusion; if the trumpet giveth an uncertain sound, who shall join the battle?

These "valuable intellectual properties" can wallow in all the intellectual angst they want OUTSIDE the Church environment. It is not too much to ask them to respect the desire of the majority of worshippers to have their faith RE-AFFIRMED and STRENGTHENED while they are in Church.


Jared* said...

Hi Jack,

That's quite the spanking you gave me. I almost agree with you.

Just for the record:

-I don't think the Restored Gospel is little more than "high fructose correlated corn syrup." I think the way some people talk about it, and our history, is.

-I disagree that I am enamored by doubt. I think it is refreshing and faith-promoting when someone can look intellectual problems in the face, but still express a compelling faith.

-I did say I would like to hear more of such testimonies (the full versions, not just the bits I quoted), but I also said, "Perhaps it would not be appropriate--particularly because they would be misunderstood by some..." I think you've validated my concern.

-Overall, I think correlation is a good thing. But I also think it has some drawbacks.

Anyway, thanks for the link; I hope you'll continue to read the blog.

Jack Mormon said...

Actually, Jared, I didn't intend for it to be a "spanking"; I tried to keep the syntax civil. But I saw an opportunity to address a problem that I believe is taking root, particularly in the more progressive part of the Bloggernacle.

I agree that it can be faith-promoting for someone to have intellectual problems and still maintain faith in the Gospel. But there are times and places to express that doubt. Fast and testimony meeting, since it includes the passing of the Sacramental emblems, doesn't seem to be the best time and place.

Thanks for stopping by and clarifying your discourse.