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Author Topic: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism  (Read 3595 times)

pnr

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Re: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism
« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2019, 04:10:25 pm »
The thing is that the church curriculum writers often don't know what informed members know about things.   And sure, you can wonder how they missed that huge thing (including quoting that president's words), but sometimes that happens. 

Thank goodness for those members who wrote in concern to those who could fix it.   IME they've quickly corrected several such curriculum mistakes (like citations that are circular).
Nauvoo 1270, Feb 2005
 
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Taalcon

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Re: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism
« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2019, 11:40:31 am »
So, separated from some time, I'm in the process of revisiting the conference talks. While I still feel my initial reaction to aspects of the presentation of Oaks' talks are valid, it has been helpful to be able to approach the talk later, aware of my concerns with aspects of how the message was delivered, bracket them, and focus on the broader intent of the message itself.

In doing so, this paragraph stood out as very good counsel:

Quote
We can all wonder privately about circumstances in the spirit world or even discuss these or other unanswered questions in family or other intimate settings. But let us not teach or use as official doctrine what does not meet the standards of official doctrine. To do so does not further the work of the Lord and may even discourage individuals from seeking their own comfort or edification through the personal revelation the Lord’s plan provides for each of us. Excessive reliance on personal teachings or speculations may even draw us aside from concentrating on learning and efforts that will further our understanding and help us go forward on the covenant path.

Trust in the Lord is a familiar and true teaching in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That was Joseph Smith’s teaching when the early Saints experienced severe persecutions and seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  That is still the best principle we can use when our efforts to learn or our attempts to find comfort encounter obstacles in matters not yet revealed or not adopted as the official doctrine of the Church.

I appreciate the validation of personal revelation and experiences and perspectives that bring peace and calm, with the caveat that declaring them or teaching them as definitive might halt others from seeking their own insight, and gaining the comfort they need.

I appreciate the suggestion that discussing such things in intimate settings is not discouraged. I very much consider this specific board an intimate setting. I value being aware of what has been "adopted as the official doctrine of the church", and tensions and questions that arise in light of that at times. I value the perspectives and insights and honest questions raised by those here.

I also value that at times the Spirit might help us as individuals see a picture that helps us to navigate problems that cause us distress. I recognize sometimes we might interpret that picture to extremes where it was not meant to go, and out of the context of our own personal experiences might not necessisarilly convey the same message to others when 'translated'.

It might be a key reason why we are counseled to keep aspects of personal revelation private. Because nuance of spiritual communications almost always lose something in translation when we try to describe them.

While I'm convinced the same thing happens even in canonized scriptural accounts, those get the mark of approval for being worthwhile for everyone to grapple with together.

Anyway - the first takeaway most relevant to this thread was that part of the value of revisiting these talks (and scriptures in general) is being able to have different reactions through different circumstances. I think I gained insights from both times I approached this message, and while they were wildly different, I believe they were both valid experiences, leading to good questions, good inspiration, and good insight.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2019, 12:24:17 pm by Taalcon »
 
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The Folk Prophet

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Re: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2020, 08:53:26 pm »
I didn't much like the overall content of President Oaks' talk. Having said that, I think the problem with the opening was the congregation laughing at the opening letter's question. Neither my wife, or I, laughed in our very small congregation. I don't believe he expected it to be funny, and was caught off guard.

Whilst I appreciated what President Oaks was trying to do, I believe it somewhat undermined many people's personal held beliefs. Not least of all his apparent dismissing of everything I thought I knew about where the Spirit World is located.

His talk may have been helpful for those struggling. But, like so much that has come out recently, it did nothing to help solidify those with testimonies.

If you have not been worried by previous church issues, and then you see/hear the church trying hard to disavow them, lessen the reality of what you held as part of your orthodoxy and generally tell you "it will all be OK", it doesn't do much to help strengthen a testimony.

I would dare say that the core problem of strengthened testimonies is rooted in something other than the way General Authorities present messages. I think it would do all well to address that core problem, both personally and publicly. Therefore I will now:

Testimony comes from the Spirit of God. It comes as a promise in response to study, prayer, humility, faith, and obedience.
 

The Folk Prophet

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Re: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism
« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2020, 08:56:29 pm »

"Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse."


I believe the word "is" is very important here.
 

Roper

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Re: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism
« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2020, 09:13:56 pm »
Meaning...?
All grown-ups were once children...but only few of them remember it. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince."
 

Taalcon

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Re: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism
« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2020, 09:15:11 pm »

"Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse."


I believe the word "is" is very important here.

So is the 'theories advanced in the past' part. 'Is' to those who perpetuated those theories is 'Was' to us now.

IE, you don't disavow a statement from the past if you are affirming was correct then. You add a clarifier, like they often do with Plural Marriage. Trying to find a grammatical out here to justify a continued belief is quite disingenuous, or suggests th leaders are attempting to be as such.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2020, 09:22:35 pm by Taalcon »
 
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The Folk Prophet

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Re: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism
« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2020, 11:01:53 am »

"Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse."


I believe the word "is" is very important here.

So is the 'theories advanced in the past' part. 'Is' to those who perpetuated those theories is 'Was' to us now.

IE, you don't disavow a statement from the past if you are affirming was correct then. You add a clarifier, like they often do with Plural Marriage. Trying to find a grammatical out here to justify a continued belief is quite disingenuous, or suggests th leaders are attempting to be as such.

I do not disavow what is pretty plain in the Book of Mormon -- that in the time of the Book of Mormon the skin color of the Lamanites was, most definitely, a sign of a curse (or, semantically, a curse itself*).

This seems pretty straight forward to me. The color of one's skin is not a sign of anything. But it most definitely was a sign of something in the Book of Mormon. That much is plainly undeniable to me.

The way of indicating a curse in ancient times isn't indicative of that thing itself inherently having any de facto meaning. The sign of the curse could have been hairiness, baldness, hair color, green skin, blue eyes, pointy ears, extra height, shortness, fatness, thinness, big noses, small noses, elongated canine teeth, etc., etc... -- as long as the indication did what it was meant to do, which was (among other things) to differ the "cursed" from the faithful as a warning against enticement to abandon proper, God-given traditions for false ones.

*In fact the usage of the word "curse" seems more the source of consternation to me, and what should really be clarified with a semantic/grammar out. Stepping back and looking at the Lamanite situation as a whole it reads as follows to me: In ancient times a group of people turned their backs on God, so God marked them so it would be clear they had done so, and so it would be plain that any interaction with them needed to be from that perspective.

Once again, that was the case in the Book of Mormon times. It is not the case now re skin color, hair color, or tooth length.

Of course the other grammatical out is the use of the word "black", whereas the Lamanites weren't exactly "black", per se, and the quote above may well be strictly concerning (as the article's title suggests) race and the priesthood, and whereas those of African decent (aka "black") were the one's denied the priesthood, the disavowal may be strictly concerning the theories surrounding the priesthood restriction.

I'm afraid you're going to have to be more clear on how any of this thinking is disingenuous.
 

Roper

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Re: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism
« Reply #22 on: January 02, 2020, 11:53:08 am »
Several LDS scholars have argued that "skin of blackness" was metaphorical and had nothing to do with human skin pigmentation. Similarly, "scales of darkness fell from their eyes" doesn't mean that people actually had dark-colored snake-like scales covering their eyes, and were physically unable to see until they had the light of the Gospel.  White/black and light/dark are extensively used as metaphors in the scriptures.
All grown-ups were once children...but only few of them remember it. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince."
 

AndrewR

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Re: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism
« Reply #23 on: January 02, 2020, 11:56:00 am »
Several LDS Scholars do not a Prophet, Seer and Revelator make.
Don't ask me, I only live here.
Nauvoodle since March 2005 #1412
 
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The Folk Prophet

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Re: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism
« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2020, 12:01:37 pm »
Several LDS scholars have argued that "skin of blackness" was metaphorical and had nothing to do with human skin pigmentation. Similarly, "scales of darkness fell from their eyes" doesn't mean that people actually had dark-colored snake-like scales covering their eyes, and were physically unable to see until they had the light of the Gospel.  White/black and light/dark are extensively used as metaphors in the scriptures.

And do you believe the references in the Book of Mormon to skin are metaphorical? Because of the various backflippy stretches I've heard throughout the years, this particular idea strikes me as perhaps one of the backflippiest stretchiest I've ever heard.
 
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Taalcon

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Re: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism
« Reply #25 on: January 02, 2020, 12:09:52 pm »
I find it useful to recognize that in the Book of Mormon
1) Nephi reports this change as having happened 'off camera' decades after he left the Lamanites
2) No text contains witnesses a change of skin tone (including Nephi)
3) No reports contain seeing an individual who used to look one way being another way
4) Any change in this theory would have been absolutely useless because Jacob's book already has him saying physical appearance is irrelevant to righteousness

According to what is presented as the timeline in the text, such a change doesn't serve any practical need.

You could accept a) a different understanding of what Nephi said (along the lines of what Roper has suggested) OR b) consider that Nephi had this position but was wrong and nothing at all changes about the Book of Mormon narrative.

Nephi, who never appears to be a witness of any change but just declares it, can conceivably be one of those whose from the past whose theories have been disavowed.

Or, consider culture and context for another possibility of what the text intended.

The current Church leadership has disavowed the idea of skin color being a sign used by God for curses, without exceptions. The latest manual update explicitly removed an endorsement of the idea of a physical skin change using the specific language that was disavowed to a much longer piece to place it in doubt, and to suggest other possibilities.

You can hold hard and fast to your belief that God has changed people's skin color to mark them as cursed. But you can't in good faith suggest this is still the position of the Church, let alone the only possible one.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 12:26:29 pm by Taalcon »
 
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Taalcon

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Re: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism
« Reply #26 on: January 02, 2020, 12:18:32 pm »
Quote
And do you believe the references in the Book of Mormon to skin are metaphorical? Because of the various backflippy stretches I've heard throughout the years, this particular idea strikes me as perhaps one of the backflippiest stretchiest I've ever heard.

If you're interested in understanding the perspective behind this , this is a good examination of it:
https://www.fairmormon.org/archive/publications/what-does-the-book-of-mormon-mean-by-skin-of-blackness

If one takes the Book of Mormon seriously as an ancient text, this context is particularly helpful.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 12:24:58 pm by Taalcon »
 

Roper

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Re: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism
« Reply #27 on: January 02, 2020, 12:37:59 pm »
Several LDS Scholars do not a Prophet, Seer and Revelator make.
They're showing that "skin of blackness" is a cultural metaphor. If your intention is to argue that the words in scripture  are literal here (and that's an interpretation), and are more authoritative, then I'll go back to our authoritative source of modern prophets, seers, and revelators with the full teaching:

"Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form."

Now, I suppose that some could argue that "theories advanced in the past" applies only to certain time periods or certain authors, and that particular phrase excludes a literal reading of ancient scripture. Gordon B. Hinckley, speaking in his capacity as a prophet, made no such distinction and included no disclaimers. That would indeed be a "backflippy" stretch.  So, if we're going to insist on prophetic authority, let's just go with a plain reading of a modern prophet's words.
All grown-ups were once children...but only few of them remember it. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince."
 

The Folk Prophet

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Re: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism
« Reply #28 on: January 02, 2020, 12:56:22 pm »
Quote
And do you believe the references in the Book of Mormon to skin are metaphorical? Because of the various backflippy stretches I've heard throughout the years, this particular idea strikes me as perhaps one of the backflippiest stretchiest I've ever heard.

If you're interested in understanding the perspective behind this , this is a good examination of it:
https://www.fairmormon.org/archive/publications/what-does-the-book-of-mormon-mean-by-skin-of-blackness

If one takes the Book of Mormon seriously as an ancient text, this context is particularly helpful.

I understand the perspective.
 
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Re: Elder Oaks, Polygamy, and Public Criticism
« Reply #29 on: January 02, 2020, 01:13:54 pm »
Several LDS Scholars do not a Prophet, Seer and Revelator make.
They're showing that "skin of blackness" is a cultural metaphor. If your intention is to argue that the words in scripture  are literal here (and that's an interpretation), and are more authoritative, then I'll go back to our authoritative source of modern prophets, seers, and revelators with the full teaching:

"Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form."

Now, I suppose that some could argue that "theories advanced in the past" applies only to certain time periods or certain authors, and that particular phrase excludes a literal reading of ancient scripture. Gordon B. Hinckley, speaking in his capacity as a prophet, made no such distinction and included no disclaimers. That would indeed be a "backflippy" stretch.  So, if we're going to insist on prophetic authority, let's just go with a plain reading of a modern prophet's words.

I think it's more common for people to read extra meaning into what is being proclaimed in the above church statement than it is for people to disregard plain meaning. The plain meaning of disavow, for example, is to no longer support or take responsibility for. It does not proclaim all related theories false (as many are wont to prescribe to it). The plain meaning of racism, for example, is to look on another race as inferior. Would this apply in any way to the Lamanites? They were the same race as the Nephites. They were clearly, through a myriad of examples in the Book of Mormon, not inferior based on their race.
 
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