Why Don't They Know?

Posted by: Andee / Category: ,


Today I was reading and saw an account of a young woman responding to the news that Joseph Smith translated the plates with the use of a seer stone in a hat instead of the blanket between tables as taught by the church.

She was immediately put off and claimed that the person giving the news was an over-zealous Anti-Mormon that wanted to bring the church down. She even used the words (I quote loosely,) "you are being misled by Satan,"

As most of you know this is one of the major issues I have with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. How many Mormons don't know about this little tidbit of information? How many would research the church further when or if they found out? Is that why the church doesn't openly talk about it?

It's shocking, in my opinion, how little most Mormons know about the history of the church. They take everything they know about it at face value. They believe what they are told. Why? Because the people in charge supposedly hold a kind of priesthood, and they are holy and would never lead them astray. The leaders, in their world, would never lie about stuff like this... and by lying, I mean lying by omission. Not giving the complete truth is pretty much lying... and I learned that *in* the church.

How wrong they are...

I am sure that if you asked your current bishop or stake president you would learn the truth about the translation. The men would reluctantly explain how it really happened... but in my opinion, that shouldn't have to be the case.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints should be morally obligated to teach the full and complete truth to it's members and investigators. The decision to join the Mormon church is a huge commitment, and the people making that kind of commitment should be given the whole story.

Why is that so hard to understand?


8 comments:

  1. Shaun Says:

    Your article is completely ridiculous. Most Mormons won't research further into whether J. Smith used a curtain or a hat while translating because, quite frankly, it's a non-issue. Who cares? And to be honest, having majored in religion I can tell you that Mormons know more about their history, and the Mormon church is more open about their history than anyone. You may not like it and may disagree with it, but at least stop using stupid fallacies in your arguments. It just makes you look incompetent.

  1. Sydney Says:

    The article isn't ridiculous. You are blowing right past the point. Mormons shouldn't HAVE to do tons of research (and hide doing it) to learn the truth about the translation. Period.

    Many people care how it happened, because it lends to the credibility of the whole story? Would investigators believe the story if they mentioned he used a stone in a top hat? Probably not... and that is why the truth isn't shared.

    I have never lied on this blog. Never. Prove to me where I lied.

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Shaun, whether Joseph Smith put his face in a hat or translated behind a curtain is not the problem. It's well-documented that Joseph Smith put his face in a hat in the translation process. If it's not an issue, then why do all the paintings show Joseph, quill in hand, with the gold plates in front of him? Therein lies the problem.

    Sydney is pointing out one concrete example -and there are certainly more- of how the LDS church is more image-based than anything. Church members are repeatedly exhorted to live with honesty and integrity. Yet the church does not hold itself to the same standard, and instead promotes its own appearance at the expense of being open and honest.

    Your vitriolic comments hold no weight because you are not backing them up with examples of how Mormons know their church history better than anyone and how the church is open with its history.

    While you are certainly not obligated to do so, it's interesting how you don't mention the university where you studied and majored in religion. My suspicion is that you studied at BYU, a school which has been and continues to remain on the AAUP's list of censured administrations for violating principles of academic freedom and tenure.

    Studying religion, and more specifically, LDS church history at BYU, does not provide a thorough and objective educational experience. What you learned was "faith-promoting history." It may have seemed like you learned a lot about church history and had access to a host of archival documents, but for every piece of information you had access to, there was likely a piece of information or an idea that wasn't made accessible or visible.

    If you rhetorically read any church history manuals or other church-sanctioned materials, it's abundantly evident they are not written for the purpose of stimulating discussion or engaging in deep inquiry. They reflect what educator Paulo Freire would refer to as "the banking concept of education," wherein the teacher deposits knowledge in students' heads, and there is little to no possibility for transference of ideas, questioning, or genuine dialogue. It doesn't allow for building on existing knowledge, making new meaning, or a generative learning experience.

    Who cares? A lot of people care. To be told the church is the "one true church," only to find out it is not forthright with its members and investigators is NOT okay.

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Sorry if I just sent my comment three times. It didn't seem like it was coming through, so I tried again, and then on the last time, I think it went.

    -Alice

  1. Sydney Says:

    Anonymous, thank you for the reply. I love it when folks leave comments that clearly state what I am trying to get across. I am definitely not the best writer in the world, and you explained things beautifully.

    Alice, no worries about posting too many times. All computers have glitches and blogger always has it's share of them as well. You don't need to apologize at all. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment!

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Sydney,

    Your writing is just fine! You write with clarity, but as tends to be the case when the subject is beliefs or ideologies, people have knee jerk reactions. You ask genuine questions, but seem to get responses (some quite hostile) that don't include answers. It bothers me to see that, and since I have a big mouth and an equally big metaphorical pencil, I feel compelled to buzz in. :)

    It's hard to figure out how to approach having conversations about the church. Emotions run high on both ends - for those who are members as well as those who have left or are in the process of leaving - e.g. me, which is why I post anonymously.

    I really want to have those conversations, as I sense you do based on your blog. I grew up in the church, have family and friends still in the church, and do not consider myself anti-Mormon. It frustrates me to know that my identity as someone who has left the church is already pre-packaged: I'm critical, I'm transgressive, I'm offended, I'm not willing to put forth the effort.

    But I'm none of those things.

    It's not being critical to ask questions and expect honest answers. Is it critical when a bishop asks me questions in a temple recommend interview and I'm expected to answer honestly? No, nor is it when I have questions about confusing doctrines or contradictory accounts of church history.

    I don't have unresolved sin in my life. If anything, I think I've become a more open and kinder person. I've devoted more time to serving my fellow human beings as I've been transitioning out of the church than I ever did while a member of the church. I've become a more compassionate person. I used to lack much empathy when people made what seemed to be really stupid mistakes, an attitude connected to "you can make a choice, but you can't choose the consequences." Now, I recognize (or try to - it takes time to undo that kind of thinking!) that someone who made a bad choice and ended up with an undesirable result is already suffering enough. Why should I revel in their misery?

    I still live my life in many ways as I did when I was a believing member of the church. Losing one's faith does not equate with losing one's morals, as much as the church would like you to believe it does.

    As for being offended, well, that's part of being human. And why would someone leave the church over being offended? If it was true and your eternal family and salvation was riding on it, no one would leave over being offended. I've been offended by lots of people - LDS or otherwise. So throwing that one down as a reason why people leave the church just doesn't hold water.

    I've found that the more I'm able to openly communicate with someone who has offended me, the easier it is to minimize the offense. Open communication and dialogue is one of the things I wish was more possible in the church.

    It's telling when you have questions that you don't bother asking because you already know the canned answer or answers you will receive: you need to pray harder; Satan is trying to deceive you; you're filled with a spirit of contention; I could keep going with the list, but I won't.

    It's telling when you squelch your intuition that a certain doctrine doesn't seem ethical or right, and silence yourself from speaking out about it at church because you are afraid of the repercussions and/or you've internalized it as you being the one with the problem.

    To say these things does not, in my mind, make me "anti-Mormon." I don't want to engage in verbal battle; I just want to have an honest conversation. Yet when I read something inflammatory or that calls people like you and me to repentance when we have nothing to repent for, I find it difficult not to get angry and respond in kind.

    The fact that I can't exit the church quietly and gracefully, evidenced by my anonymity, suggests the conversations you're trying to open up in your blog are conversations that really need to be had.

    I just wish they COULD be had, you know?

  1. Sydney Says:

    Anonymous,

    I have a feeling that the two of us would get along very well in the "real world." We both seem to agree on the real issues at hand here, and we both seem to realize that there is a big difference between someone who left Mormonism or has issues with the church and it's doctrine, and being labeled an "anti-Mormon."

    The term Anti-Mormon makes my blood pressure rise... it really does. When I raise questions about the term, I picture myself as one of those super-arrogant-out-of-control teens on the Maury Povitch show screaming, "You don't know me!" to the TBM's in the audience. They see what they want to see. They say the same things about us, don't they?

    I, too, don't have any unresolved sin in my life. I have actually led a very boring and dull life... most of my friends refer to me as a goody-goody. I certainly didn't leave the church because I wanted to sin, or because I wasn't good enough to stay there. It's arrogant for the church to say things like that.

    I find that living your life with morals because you WANT to is very different from living with morals because you HAVE to. I know many TBMs who did horrible things and never once came clean about it or made things better. It's about appearances to these specific people, and it gives the good Mormons a bad name.

    After losing my Grandmother, Father, and best friend in the span of one year, I wanted nothing more than to believe I was in the religion that could solve all my problems and help me be with them again. It's sad that I wanted to believe it so much that I didn't investigate sooner.

    It's not the good Mormons I have a problem with, although I do get upset when they make excuses for the horrible things the church has done in the past... it's the church leaders who know what the issues really are, yet tell the believers to not read this material and pray. They are being lied to, and they can't see it.

    It's frustrating, however it's worth it when I actually am able to reach out and help somebody. I don't keep up this blog because I am a bad person, I do it to help those who are dealing with the same issues I have. Most TBM's don't realize that and take the things I talk about personally (because they are taught to).

    Thank you for the wonderful replies, you are not only kind, but smart! Your writing style is much better than mine, I hope you write for a living because you are damn good at it!!!!

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I have no doubt we'd get along well in the real world!

    I love the distinctions you make - someone who leaves the church versus someone who is "anti-Mormon." Labels are one of the issues that kept coming apart when I was still desperately trying to glue my belief system back together and make it work. It bothered me how people who didn't belong to the church were referred to as "non-members," creating an us vs. them mentality. I now love being able to see people as people, and not as potential converts (loved your "every member a missionary" entry, by the way).

    LOL imagining you on Maury! I have a fantasy of singing "You Don't Own Me" in the church parking lot on the last Sunday I attend...

    I also love the distinction you make about morals and living them because you want to versus living them because you have to. In my mind, that's also what agency is and should be about.

    Otherwise, it's like being told as a kid you have a choice to clean your room or you can't play outside. It's a hot summer day, and the neighbor has just filled up the pool and invited you over for a swim. Well, is there a choice there? Of course you're going to clean your room, whether you want to or not.

    That's what "agency" as the church defined it started to feel like to me. I wanted to figure out what my morals and values were based on what resonated with me, not based on what I was told they should be.

    Like you, I've always been considered a goody-goody. As it turns out, some of my morals and values are the same as those I had while a TBM. Others are not, but I'm living authentically, and I'm happier. As a result, I feel like I'm putting more good into the world because I'm not preoccupied with trying so hard to live in ways that go against my grain.

    I'm incredibly sorry you've experienced so many losses in such a short period of time. Clearly, you wouldn't walk away from what potentially would offer you the great comfort of knowing you would see those you love and be with them for eternity. It's unfortunate that some can't recognize that.

    It's lovely that you're tapping into your own sadness to help others who may be struggling with similar issues. I recently stumbled onto your blog, so I haven't read a lot of entries yet to know your whole story. But I must say, I really like how you weave your questions, research, and reflections on the church with cool photos and funny, random things. It's very inviting, great for people who are questioning and may be afraid and still convinced that people who have left are inherently evil.

    Then again, the dolls are kind of evil looking. LOL, because I used to be convinced that one of my friends' dolls was possessed and was going to kill us in the middle of the night (and this was in high school).

    Thanks for the compliment! Words are, in fact, my profession. And your blog has provided a nice distraction from a big writing project I'm supposed to be working on tonight. It's also been reassuring to read your blog on a day when I was feeling irked about the church issue.