Ep 136 – The Problem Makers

Written by on December 7, 2014

Randy, Alison, Glenn, and John Hamer join Mike Bohn to discuss his Listener Essay – The Problem Makers.



Comments
  1. Orrin Dayne   On   December 7, 2014 at 7:06 am

    The “too sacred to share” line is absurd. Joseph Smith didn’t feel the First Vision was too sacred to share (at least beginning in 1835 or so) nor was “the angel with a flaming sword” too sacred to share (at least with the ladies).
    But I’ll say this: whoever came up with the “too sacred to share line” was brilliant because it serves its purpose well.

  2. Sam   On   December 7, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    I really appreciate hearing John and Allison on this episode. I enjoyed the essay Mike.
    Good job Randy. Thank you Glenn for not editing out a lot discussion, it gives me alot out of things to think about and consider.
    So Allison what did you want to discuss in the comments?

  3. carabellie   On   December 8, 2014 at 12:00 am

    Regarding The Problem Makers Podcase: Here is the likely source for strange doctrine taught by BK Packer and others which claims salvation for all wayward children if they are sealed: D&C 132:26 Verily, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the holy spirit of promise, according to mine appointed, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan, unto the day of redemption saith the Lord.
    Notice, the only way you don’t make it to super VIP heaven is to commit “murder wherein you shed innocent blood.” Keep in mind the importance of the word “innocent” in this sentence in that it excludes murder of the person with “guilty” blood-provided that blood can indeed be guilty of something. Perhaps Gov Boggs had “guilty” blood.
    Infants, you are well beyond your years! Many thanks for the great work.

    • Mike B.   On   December 8, 2014 at 4:29 am

      carabellie, I agree that these guys are doing awesome stuff! I enjoyed this discussion. Yes, that D&C section could be a factor in a lot of those teachings. While we were talking about this, during the recording, I looked it up and found this: “..the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return.” It is from a quote that Packer used in 1992. Here’s the link: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1992/04/our-moral-environment?lang=eng
      And that was Orson Whitney quoting Joseph Smith. That’s like a triple-deep quote. I heard this concept taught among Seminary and Institute teachers and what I was thinking about during that part of the podcast discussion.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Allison   On   December 8, 2014 at 12:30 am

    My observation of people who believe in a higher power is that they do it because they “get something” out of it. It serves them in some way; comforts them; gives them community (which is a big reason that Mike talked about). There are endless ways that it could offer some positive reinforcement. I think that there really isn’t much that we humans do unless we get positively reinforced for it somehow.
    I’m curious if John and Mike agree with this, and if so, what else do you get out of your religion or your relationship with the divine?

    • John Hamer   On   December 8, 2014 at 1:55 am

      The question — “what do I think is the value proposition for my form of organized religion?” — is too broad for a comment thread and should probably be the subject of a completely different podcast. I want to make the point, however, that in no way do I think people must be part of an organized religion to be fulfilled in life. In my view, a person can be completely fulfilled on their own completely different path whatever that path might be.
      However, with that proviso, I do think that the value proposition for my form of organized religion is very substantial; it’s not just one little thing, it’s a long list of important things. Here’s a couple of them briefly summarized:
      (1) Reclaiming the entire Western cultural, literary, artistic, musical, architectural, philosophical, and intellectual inheritance. (2) Giving people who do not have the resources or inclination for sophisticated personal philosophical study a powerful alternative to literalistic religions. (3) Claiming the ability to speak with religious conviction and authority against the teachings of religions rooted in bigotry. (4) Giving children a strong philosophical grounding so that they are less susceptible to conversion to fundamentalism. (5) Leveraging the capacity to do charity through institutional power beyond what an individual can do alone. (6) Rebuilding the fabric of society which historically consists of intermediate institutions that once existed between the increasingly detached and disenfranchised individual and today’s massive government and megacorporations. (7) Experiencing close human connection with human community at every stage in the life cycle and doing important connective things like singing together that are otherwise almost all but lost. (8) Having a forum for introspection, the exchange of ideas, and dialogue in shared commitment to life-long learning.

      • Bob Caswell   On   December 8, 2014 at 2:33 am

        The irony is that this is sooo close to something I could see myself participating in. It makes me wonder about the fine line between “religion” (and all the baggage that comes with that term) and “community” (and all the apathy that comes with that term… relative to religion, at least).
        Meaning, I would love to do a follow up recording with both of you (Allison and John) to discuss the fine line between what John is participating in and what post Mormon non-believers (like myself) haven’t seemed to find as they drift about in their merry and detached individualized experience. πŸ™‚

      • Allison   On   December 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm

        Agreed. Follow up question: do you believe that Jesus is a savior? Does he offer salvation, or can it be found through him? (Your opinion on this may have been discussed in a previous podcast- forgive my forgetfulness).

      • John Hamer   On   December 8, 2014 at 2:49 pm

        Churches are filled with church-specific jargon which I think constitutes a bunch of the “baggage” Bob is complaining about. (Some of the rest is misplaced commitment to out-of-date social norms and customs which are wrongly viewed as divinely ordained.) The words “savior” and “salvation” are church jargon. Is salvation something you’re worried about in your life? If so, what does it mean to you? Can we define the idea in a way that doesn’t rely on church-related jargon? If not, isn’t this one of the non-problem “problems” we’re talking about in this podcast?

      • Allison   On   December 8, 2014 at 3:09 pm

        Yes. Which is why I wanted to know if you believed that people need to be saved by Jesus. Isn’t this “jargon” in the scriptures, though?

      • John Hamer   On   December 8, 2014 at 3:42 pm

        I presume by “yes” you mean that the question of salvation is a non-problem/problem? (Sorry: I asked too many questions above; at first I thought you were answering “yes” that salvation was something you’re worried about in your life which seemed odd to me.)
        In answer to your different questions about the necessity of “salvation”: I don’t think a person needs to believe in Jesus or Christ or Jesus Christ and I don’t think a person needs to be “saved”. Christianity is not the one and only true religion (there is no monopoly on truth). As I said above, I believe a person can lead a completely fulfilled and meaningful life (which I’m trying to use as one possible non-jargon way to express or phrase what salvation might mean) as a member of a different religion or without connection to organized religion through individual spirituality, or as a wholly secular person who does not see value in the concept of spirituality.
        Lots of authors of scripture were very concerned with “salvation” (or a similar word in Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic), but they definitely had lots of different, competing ideas about what they thought it meant, as have theologians and philosophers down to the present. So yes, the word appears in scripture. Anywhere any theological concept appears in scripture, the author is making a theological proposition which can and should be responsibly interpreted and weighed for its utility or lack thereof.

      • Allison   On   December 9, 2014 at 4:52 am

        I think yours and Mike’s viewpoints are great on all of this. I am still not sure I will ever fully understand how people who have found all the falsities and faults in Mormonism can go on to another belief system that requires faith, but I definitely understand *why* they would.
        Even though I lack that understanding, I think you’re right. We are so much more similar than different. And even if that weren’t true, I think it’s good. It’s vital for me, if I don’t want to end up once again entrenched in my own narrow ways of thinking, to surround myself with people that think and reason differently than I do. They/you all teach me things. I appreciate that tremendously. That’s one of the (few?) things I’m not skeptical about. πŸ™‚

      • Mike B.   On   December 8, 2014 at 6:15 pm

        John’s response resonates with me. The more I hear from John, the more I think we are very lined up theologically and our approach to Christianity is much the same.
        I love your question about salvation, Allison. This is something I’ve wrestled with for the past couple of years. Because of this podcast, you know that I am not a fan of created problems and I can see so many fallacies and issues with the typical Christian salvation narrative.
        Here’s my take on it (keep in mind that I’m still learning and have only been out of my TBM mindframe for a year and some change). In the Old and New Testament, God is referred to using hundreds of what we call names. In biblical Hebrew and Greek, names were more about descriptions, rather than a label. Savior, Redeemer, etc. were used to describe the type of God we have. My most favorite description is ‘Prince of Peace’ because I value that feeling in a world of unrest and chaos. Anyways, I feel like the dogma associated with damnation and redemption, within Christianity, has always been more of a control mechanism for men to convince people to follow THEIR brand of Christianity. This approach creates a serious problem, where they, using the name of Christ, provide the only solution. When I step back and look at the practical big picture of this world, I view the redemption of Christ, as a universal mercy and unearned grace for all people, because, as humans, we fall short. Being imperfect, messing up, failing, falling short, in life, are not created problems. They are real and something we all experience. Christ comes in and introduces unconditional love. (Men, over the years, have tried to make His Love conditional.) The New Testament stories are full of examples of Jesus extending unconditional love and healing. He extends mercy and grace and redeems us from eternally feeling like we are ‘not good enough’. Not because He had too or we all go to hell, but, because He chose to in order to offer Heaven to all of us. Mormonism makes no sense, within this Christian theology because you have to earn it yourself through good works, worthiness, and ordinances. That is unjust. We did not ask God to create us and put us in this fallen world. So, it is only just to offer redemption from the pain and suffering, in our imperfect lives, free of charge. Unearned grace. It’s much more personal, practical, and merciful. It is freeing, to me, to know that it’s ok to mess up and I am ‘good enough’, no matter what. Redemption is a solution to a core human problem. Ok, that was LONG! I will stop now. Hope that clears it up a little. πŸ™‚

      • Bob Caswell   On   December 8, 2014 at 6:43 pm

        This discussion is why we need a follow up. I think the reality is that we have more in common than we think we do by simply labeling ourselves as “atheists” and “believers.” But I’m not convinced that it’s as high as the 90% Mike suggested.
        For example, the idea of “scriptures” now is just super silly to me. What does that even mean? And why should the Old or New Testament (leave aside the BOM) be held on a pedestal to be reviewed and studied over and over again as compared to any other books?
        I assume that both Mike and John don’t think of “scriptures” in the same way as believing Mormons. But the point is, for many post-Mormon non-believers like myself, there’s little value in peeling off Mormonism and then trying to deconstruct and then reconstruct some foundational religious framework that reinterprets all these baggage-laden topics so that I have a reason to be a good person and help other people.
        Perhaps that comes across as super cynical and disrespectful (hope not) and maybe we’re just doing the potato, poTAto sort of thing here… But for me personally, it’s hard to accept anything that starts from the top of religion and whittles it down to a new form of religion. I’m more a fan of the start over approach: reject it all / start from the bottom and build upon universal values in a way that helps humanity progress independent of a council that needs to meet to determine what to “believe” specifically about antiquated concepts like God, Jesus, salvation, religion, prophets, scriptures, etc. etc.

      • Mike B.   On   December 10, 2014 at 5:07 am

        Bob, I agree with you on pretty much all of these points. Since I have listened to all of the IoT podcasts, I’ve heard your perspective, along with all the others’ perspectives, on numerous topics. The vast majority of these podcasts resonate with me, on multiple levels, as a former Mormon. Maybe my random “90% agreement” comment was a little high and too generally vague. I was mainly thinking about how similar most of our ‘exit from Mormonism’ stories are and the similarities in how we all deconstructed the intense brainwashing. So, when I said we are mostly on the same page, I was referring to that.
        Your last comment here reminded me of when I first left the church. I actually completely started over. I rejected everything and decided to believe in nothing and only accept scientific empirical data. It was following the pattern you just mentioned that enabled me to construct an authentic life. Eventually I was able to consider myself a Christian (albeit very non-traditional). There is a lot more to discuss, but, I enjoy engaging in all of this. I appreciate the opportunity you all gave me to be on a couple of podcasts. Also, I’m still learning and keeping my mind wide open. Keep the podcasts coming! Thanks!

      • Bob Caswell   On   December 12, 2014 at 11:43 pm

        Mike, I appreciate the follow up and have to say that sometimes I have to check myself and not make all sorts of assumptions when someone identifies as a believer (like yourself). It’s just such a loaded term with so much baggage, but that’s not your fault.
        Who knows, maybe that 10% difference is all there is, but I’m admittedly skeptical because, I think, there would be little reason to believe if fundamentally there is such a small difference in belief and non-belief. Religious belief of any kind, in my experience/opinion, doesn’t last in the non-traditional, casual, almost agnostic or atheist, secular humanist way… because otherwise it’d be, uh, secular humanism and no longer religion. πŸ™‚
        This is why I think it’d be good to explore the value in that difference (be it whatever percentage) because the concept of the metaphysical or deity, etc. don’t feel relevant/required anymore to the concept of living a good life unless you (the general you) really need a reward/punishment metaphysical model to get out of bed.
        Again, these are assumptions I have associated with believers, probably bad, I know, and we haven’t even talked about the atonement yet (spoiler alert: something that makes no sense to me anymore :-)).

      • Mike B.   On   December 15, 2014 at 11:35 pm

        Bob, I think there is a tendency, among atheists, to lump all ‘believers’ in one generalized box and equally there is a tendency for theists to lump all ‘atheists’ in one generalized box. In the exMormon community, I particularly find this disappointing because we still have an important common ground. And there seems to be a MUCH larger atheist/agnostic group than those who become Christian, among exMos. So, the many atheists will feel like exMormon Christians really aren’t anything like them. This creates an unnecessary chasm between the two groups and it includes a ton of these false assumptions.
        Unfortunately, this can create a feeling of ‘no man’s land’ for exMo Christians. And, as a result, exMo atheists can come across as taking the ‘black and white’ Mormon thinking to the opposite side (from TBM to True NON believing Atheists) and that comes across as equally extreme to some. Additionally, exMo Christians often feel shunned by both their TBM friends and their exMo atheist friends.
        This is something that would be interesting to discuss deeper. And I would challenge the exMo atheists to take the time to understand how it is possible for exMo Christians to think very much like them and still believe in God, in a way that is not even close to a Mormon belief in God. Does that make sense?

      • Bob Caswell   On   December 16, 2014 at 4:07 am

        You’re right that I (and probably a good chunk of postMo non-believers… see what I did there? I didn’t identify myself, strictly speaking, as an atheist :-)) could do better in not perpetuating the stereotype of there being only one type of believer.
        That said, fundamentally, you closed your last comment with a reference to an unorthodox belief in God. And my insensitive knee-jerk response is that I think that’s still a lazy placeholder/framework for something that sounds benign and agreeable in that form… but sounds more dubious and problematic when rephrased as thus: you believe in metaphysics enough to let that impact your life in a meaningful way.
        Now, I know this next statement will get me in trouble because it’s unfair and technically inaccurate… it’s more perception than a reality, but… that impactful belief you have in metaphysics has me wanting to characterize you more like them and less like us (recognizing fully there’s a spectrum, lest I fall into the the black and white caricature trap).

      • Mike B.   On   December 16, 2014 at 7:47 am

        I’m glad you responded with authenticity and honesty. And, yes, you continue to stereotype, but, that’s fine with me because we all do it. One issue we are dealing with is that I have yet to generalize you or any other postMo ‘non-believers’. Yet, most generalize and stereotype me, without taking the necessary time to understand how belief in God can coincide with science, when the ‘lens of Mormonism’ is removed and the dogmatic view of belief is challenged. I’ve spent most of my time responding to the generalizations pointed at me and other ‘believers’.
        Keep in mind that I have listened to every single IoT podcast and the vast majority of what you all say, I completely resonate with and see the layers/gray areas promulgated among all 6 of you. I would never dream of generalizing anything each of you say, as individuals. However, your last comment is problematic. Not because it ‘gets you into trouble’, as you said, but, because your perception needs a reality check. When I talk with, in detail, to any postMo, no matter what they believe or do not believe, we are almost always on the same page. Whenever, I talk, in detail, to any TBM, we are never on the same page, when it comes to reality. That should tell you something about your perception of people like me or John Hamer.
        I know several people who do not believe in God, yet believe in a metaphysical. They, like me, know that it cannot be proven or disproven. Anyways, I’m gathering that you do not except anything metaphysical. I totally respect that and do not feel any need to convince you otherwise.
        For me, it simply comes down to mathematical probability. None of us observed the creation of this universe. Yet, all of us have observed creation on a micro level. There is a cause and effect, beginning and end to everything we see, on a micro level. Since science cannot prove or disprove macro creation, we are all living with some sort of faith. You have faith in theories that do not include a Creator and I get that.
        For me, I have faith in some sort of Creator because of the mathematical probability of this earth being on its axis in just the right angle and rotation, to enable life to thrive. And the fact that humans are intelligent beings and that we are consciously aware of our existence, leads me towards some sort of Creator, rather than away. I find it more difficult to believe in a creation that is random and accidental.
        Beyond that, I bet you and I would see this world from a VERY similar perspective. You ‘cherry pick’ from philosophers and scientists. I do the same, along with opening the door to cherry picking from the theological world. We are all just trying to figure out this mess called life. The bottom line, for me, is that I feel no need to defend the probability of God. The burden of proof is on God. He has never spoken to me, therefore, I see no problem in cherry picking what makes sense to my worldview. This is the opposite of laziness. I do not reject the metaphysical, in order to create a black and white dichotomy between material and metaphysical. I work hard to keep an open mind and if the material undeniably refutes any claim, I am not willing to make a metaphysical ‘faith appeal’. That is what Mormons and fundamentalists do. This makes me much more similar to someone like you, than any TBM.

      • Bob Caswell   On   December 16, 2014 at 8:51 am

        I knew I’d get in trouble. πŸ™‚ And I do think we are similar in lots of ways. And I’m not sure there’s any value in arguing that our differences outweigh those similarities. It’s ultimately only quantifiable arbitrarily, and I’m self-conscious about it being a dick move… Here you are willing to explain and explore, and I’m going to push you away? That’s not my goal, but I could see how I might come across that way. The truth is, I don’t know how similar or different we are. But I think you are probably right that perhaps we are more similar as both compared relatively to a TBM.
        Perhaps it’s just that progressive religion is difficult for me to understand. Because all the benefits you or John have articulated can be achieved without all the constructs of God, Jesus, scriptures, salvation, hell, heaven, etc. etc. But then, what’s left? Specifically. And whatever it is, what does it provide / how does it motivate in a way that secular humanism can’t?
        Is it the finality of death? The insignificance of existence? Is there a non-selfish / non-in-denial reason that religion provides that can’t be found elsewhere? Sorry, that’s not directed toward you personally, but an honest — even if rude sounding — question.
        Is hope not enough? I’m not religious but that doesn’t mean that I don’t hope for more beyond this life (for example).
        And I don’t know so many things. And I wish we could just live without religion so that “I don’t know” and “I hope” could replace “I know” and “I believe.”
        I kind of hate the concept of belief in the religious context because it implies that I subscribe to something someone else has constructed. It’s no coincidence that most religious beliefs I hear aren’t original thoughts…
        Anyway, I don’t know where this leaves me in my understanding of this topic. But I am glad we can talk about it.

      • SachmoJoe   On   December 9, 2014 at 5:32 am

        I totally agree with Bob in the sense of John really making the Community of Christ paradigm sound appealing. Dare I say “almost thou convinceth me”?
        I can’t wait to hear a follow-up episode guys. Thanks Infants, for a great podcast, and thanks for your contributions John.

      • Thomas Moore   On   December 16, 2014 at 1:40 am

        John, although I appreciate your thoughts on God. I have to admit, as an atheist, I get offended sometimes that people think we want to rid the world of Christian culture, music, art, etc… Actually to me it’s just the opposite. We’re the ones who want these things saved and preserved for archeological, historical, philosophical reasons. Also we do worry about the future and how we live our lives. Because to be honest, the only way that we atheist or anyone for that matter is going to live on after death is through the memories, histories we leave to our fellow man and family. So we struggle with trying to help our environmental and social problems. Unfortunately we tend to step on a lot of religious toes when we try to help end things like domestic violence, human trafficking, starvation, population / birth control.

      • John Hamer   On   December 16, 2014 at 2:13 am

        Thomas,
        I’m sorry if my shorthand value proposition for my form of organized religion implied otherwise to you, but I hope I’ve remembered to explain in a few places that I see nothing at all wrong with atheism: that I believe it’s a perfectly defensible philosophical position, and further that I think on average atheists are more ethical than the average Christians (for various reasons). For that reason, I think it’s a complete waste of time for people like Karen Armstrong to spend time arguing against atheism, when the real problem is fundamentalism. That said, I do think my expression of theism has value and I will explain its value proposition when asked. In explaining that a particular path has value, I do not mean to imply that other paths do not have value.
        Regarding the important social issues you mention — to get anything done politically and culturally, in my opinion, it’s necessary for atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, etc., who form a minority in the US to ally with liberal theists, who are likewise a minority. It is my wish that we can erase the insignificant line between us and draw it instead where it makes a difference: between where I’m at and where the fundamentalists are.

    • Mike B.   On   December 8, 2014 at 4:59 am

      Allison, thanks for this follow up question for me and John. I just read John’s answer and agree with the majority of what he is saying there. Additionally, I agree that it could be a good follow up podcast discussion. And it sounds like Bob wants to bring you and John back on for a follow-up, so, I look forward to hearing what you all discuss and learning from more insights!
      On a personal level, I don’t believe in a higher power simply to ‘get something’ out of it. I honestly cannot say that I am able to discern whether or not I am feeling comfort from God or not. I believe in God because, for me, it all boils down to the theories of how it all began. Since none of us actually observed the creation of the universe and this planet, it takes a form of faith to believe in any origin narrative (whether the theory is atheist or theist). As of now, for me, I find it more difficult to believe in a cosmic ‘accident’ than some form of Creator. That is the extent of my belief in God. I no longer feel the need to try and figure out the nature of God and find all the theistic answers.
      I am a humanitarian and have a heart to help the poor, needy, homeless, families, and communities. The non-profit I run, serves 6,000 people, a year, in the roughest areas of south and west Dallas. I partner with a ton of organizations, locally, and nationally. The thing is, I have found that it is a lot harder to rally people around these crucial causes, to make the world a better place, when people are not part of some sort of service-reinforcing community. Most Christian Fellowship Bible Churches encourage and provide numerous, daily opportunities to help people. So, honestly, it’s not about me ‘getting something’, it is about me being able to join hands with people who want to give something, consistently.
      I don’t believe that everyone should join a religion. I have atheist friends who are fantastic humanitarians and give a lot to suffering people of the world. However, in my experience, the non-denominational Christian world, allows me to not join a church institution and does not require me to blindly follow an authority. Yet, I am able to simply increase opportunities of community service, on a level that fits my value system of social justice and community and global service, in addressing the problem of suffering. I find a large number of like-minded humanitarians, more so, in these groups, as a whole. Does that make sense? I’m happy to elaborate on anything more specific.

      • Allison   On   December 8, 2014 at 2:25 pm

        I really admire what you’re doing with community service. And yeah, those of us who have maybe felt a little dejected about organized religion can be kind of hard to…organize for a good cause. At least I personally am. I shouldn’t speak for all post mormons.
        I guess more what I meant by my question was, as you make observations about your beliefs and relationship with a diety, what positive things come out of that? I didn’t mean that the only reason you are a Christian is simply because you get something out of it. More like, positive reinforcement of some kind might be a by-product that could keep you motivated to continue being a believer.

      • Allison   On   December 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm

        I should add, my original question definitely sounded like I was saying the only reason you’d have a faith is because you’re getting something out of it. There are lots of other reasons, among that one. Hope I cleared that up. πŸ™‚

      • Mike B.   On   December 8, 2014 at 5:46 pm

        Thank you, and, I share in your dejection about organized religion. Leaving Mormonism was a terrible road and the residual emotional effect leads to a desire to avoid all organized religion. In fact, I want to pause real quick and establish that all of us, as post Mormons, have WAY more in common than we do otherwise. I’ve noticed a false assumption with some of my post Mormon friends, who forget that we are probably on the same page with over 90% of things, regardless of them being atheist and me Christian. It’s hard to get out of the black and white Mormon thinking! Anyways, a purposeful tangent because sometimes I feel a line of demarcation drawn between Christians and atheists, in discussions like these. When, there is a much more poignant connection-the mutual understanding and experience of leaving Mormonism.
        So, to answer this follow up question. Honestly, my theological beliefs really are not a source of positive reinforcement. As I mentioned, in the podcast, my Christianity is much more about daily life and a practical approach. I feel like current mainstream Christianity has the best collective answer for the problem of suffering, in the world. I resonate with the more open-minded Christians, who are not dogmatic nor are they cynical or bitter. I see a higher percentage of cynicism and bitterness among my non-Christian friends. Not all of them, just a higher percentage. And, nothing is black and white. There are a ton of non-Christians doing amazing things in this world. For my own reality, the positive reinforcement does not come from theology or belief, it comes from consistently joining with like-minded Christians, in all the causes I believe make the world a better place, as I mentioned above.

  5. Orrin Dayne   On   December 8, 2014 at 6:57 am

    I loved Randy’s analysis that Mormonism works great as long as everyone is active, not gay, not a feminist, etc. Once a family member is inactive, gay or a feminist, Mormonism creates a problem for people.
    During a priesthood lesson a few months ago, someone, whom I love and respect, lamented that time he had recently spent with his inactive son was a wasted opportunity because he didn’t attempt to bring him back to the fold. It seemed so sad to me that I spoke up. I said that, by spending time with his son, he was loving him. And loving his son could never be a wasted opportunity.
    What was sad to me was that his son’s inactivity was a problem, thanks to Mormonism, and because of it, he viewed spending time with his son without trying to get him to come back to church as bad parenting — instead of just enjoying his time with his son.

  6. Mike   On   December 8, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    John’s comments about God are thought provoking. A conceivable anthropomorphic god is one that is simply not all powerful or all knowing. A “god” embodied in some form is conceivable even as evil exists because “god” doesn’t have the power of recourse or intervention. Hence the need for the “created” to avoid and overcome evil on their own. The question arises with a “god” like this as to whether you worship such a being or even what worship means. Replace worship with awe and I could go there. A belief in such a being would promote a religion more in line with a secular humanist perspective with a great respect and possibly a sense of worship for humanity and its potential. In this scenario nothing could be predestined or predetermined. Sci-fi movies such as Prometheus or Interstellar come to mind. While I don’t adhere to this idea personally, from a philosophical perspective it is a plausible case for an anthropomorphic advanced being.

    • BO   On   December 11, 2014 at 3:58 am

      I completely agree Mike. John’s comments about God at about the 2hour 6 minute mark, were brilliant. If and when I have the time I want to transcribe that portion. Great stuff John Hamer. I have been trying to articulate that exact thing for along time.
      If you are taking subject suggestions I would love to hear a discussion about what God is not and God may possibly be.
      Example, In the movie Interstellar could Michael Cain in , although dead,be considered a God to the colony he conceptualized and put in motion. Michael Shermer talks a bit about this. Yeah, I’m into dumb shit like that.

  7. Levi Phillips   On   December 8, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Infants, please consider doing an full discussion episode on one of the tangents you went on in this episode regarding church leaders lying, or dodging questions, etc. I would love to here a discussion of the “Lying for the Lord” from the beginnings of the church and how that has evolved into the white lies, lies of ommission, or bold-faced lies that we see in the church today which “protect” God and sacred things.

  8. Jared   On   December 8, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    The question about why we feel as if there is a problem in the world, or in our own personal life was discussed but not really answered. I believe the problem is just nature itself; just being born or becoming incarnate, creates a ‘veil’ between the physical and the spiritual; that being the unseen and the seen. We learn in the LDS endowment, that Adam was fine until ‘he ate’ from the tree of knowledge, which opened his eyes. That’s when he started perceiving that his world was broken. (a false assumption or an illusion; the world is not broken, but our perception of it is). So, just by being born, we feel like things are broken, we rely on our own carnal senses or intuition, following others’ morals, etc., when, the world is not broken, but the illusion is so powerful that we believe many things in order to make sense, because we are out of the comfort of our true nature, which is the unseen, or God. And so we then try to do whatever it takes, to fix our world; and then we get war, judgement, class distinction, etc….and create every possible scenario of brokenness, when in reality, it is all perfect, but our own perception is broken.

  9. Tim   On   December 9, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    In this episode, Mike pointed out how absurd the Joseph Smith narrative now seems to him. Yet Mike also believes in the literal resurrection of Jesus. I am genuinely interested in knowing why resurrection is more plausible to Mike than translation via a rock in a hat.

    • Mike B.   On   December 9, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Tim, this is a very fair question for me. If a person starts with the presupposition that anything metaphysical or not empirical, is invalid, then these two examples (resurrection of Jesus and translation via a rock in hat) are equally absurd. However, I am coming from the presupposition that metaphysics and God are plausible. With that presupposition in mind, these two examples are quite different. Joseph used multiple methods to ‘trick’ people into following him (whether it’s rock in the hat, visions, angel Moroni, Urim/Thummim, etc). These methods are in the category of deceit. Original records indicate that only Joseph could see this stuff, even if someone was in the same room. Plus, there is no practicality to these methods.
      With the resurrection of Jesus, unfortunately, we do not have original records. The copies we have, from the New Testament, describe it as open to numerous people. No deceit described. And, this resurrection is intended to demonstrate God’s power over the universal suffering all mankind experience, with death. If the resurrection did happen, it’s the most practical and amazing demonstration of God’s power, in an area that every human being experiences suffering from – death. So, deceit for personal gain and creation of a small ‘super VIP club’ called Mormonism (Joseph) VS. demonstration of power over the finality and pain of death to give hope to all mankind (Jesus).
      Let me know if you would like me to clarify anything. Thanks for asking!

  10. David   On   December 10, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Another great episode everyone and thanks for the essay, Mike. My favorite part was the ~20 minute tangent you all went on at about the 1 hour mark. I would love to hear more of the experiences Mike had with the leadership of the church. In fact, you could dedicate a whole podcast on that subject; I find it fascinating listening to everyone’s experiences and theories on how the Q15 function and believe.
    I’m in contact with a current mission president who is good friends with my parents (to help me get back on the straight and narrow). One subject we talked about is if the Q15 and Jesus have meetings–say every quarter to make sure the organization is going how the Big Man really wants it to. My argument is: why not? Why wouldn’t the Guy who every Mormon believes runs this church visit the guys who claim speak with him? Why wouldn’t Jesus have lunch with Tom Monson or maybe grab a slushy with his friend, Boyd, every once in a while?
    Interestingly, the mission president said he doesn’t believe that actual, physical meetings occur with the Q15 and Jesus. The leaders know God’s will because of the Spirit. That remark lead our conversation down the road of “yeah, but how does one distinguish between the ‘spirit’ and our own thoughts”?
    Anyway, I just found that tangent really interesting. Thanks for the great work, everyone. I love the panel and look forward to your conversation with John Dehlin. Also, I’ve noticed that Tom is a little “inactive” on the podcast. Let me just throw out the standard mormon phrase: Hey Tom, we sure missed you on the podcast last Sunday, hope you can make it next Sunday!

  11. ClosetNOM   On   December 11, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Mike B! I know you from Heritage Ward in TX….great to hear your Essay – very well said! I really enjoyed it.

    • Mike B.   On   December 12, 2014 at 3:12 am

      Thanks! And given the fact that you are going by ‘ClosetNOM’ you might be keeping me forever curious regarding your identity. πŸ™‚ I would love to chat with you, whenever you come out of the NOM-closet!

      • Mike B.   On   February 11, 2015 at 8:26 pm

        No, he does not. And, he is one of the few who has taken the time to listen to my positions, among my active Mormon family. We enjoy a deep friendship, that has always transcended our differences and we mutually respect each other. Thanks for asking!

  12. Jay   On   December 14, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    I just want to point out that the Harvard study on Filipinos being gullible is from a satire news website like The Onion. Ironically, some Filipino journalists fell for it.
    The original article even mentioned that Troy (of the Trojan War fame) was the second most gullible.

    • Allison   On   December 14, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      I thought it was apparent that the whole conversation was pointing out the irony of all of our inherent gullibility. I figured the study was totally made up when it was mentioned in the context of people being gullible. But I guess that might have gone over the head of some listeners. Good call pointing it out.
      Anyway, everybody knows that Canadians are the most gullible of all.

  13. Pink-lead   On   December 15, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    The credulity issue. This subject makes me think of my dad. In his case the credulity arises from a willingness/desire to believe the best of people. An attitude very much fostered by the Church. Additionally it reflects his honesty. Esp in regards to church leadership it’s almost impossible for him to conceive of any willful deception in them because there’s no way he’d do that himself.
    I think the MLM successes also feed off of this. The thought process is, “I’m trying to be righteous, I have a temple recommend. The scriptures tell me I’ll prosper if I’m righteous, so maybe this is one of those ways I will prosper.”

  14. Allison   On   December 20, 2014 at 5:44 am

    Found this little gem today: https://www.lds.org/church/news/five-ways-to-detect-and-avoid-doctrinal-deception?lang=eng
    Neil said: β€œIt never ceases to amaze me how gullible the Latter-day Saints can be.”
    Is this the best example of paradox I’ve ever seen? Or the pot calling the kettle black? Or the most unknowingly truthful thing a GA has ever said? Or maybe a magical menagerie of all of these? Whatever it is, what I said is now corroborated by an apostle, SOOoooo… THAT MEANS I… win…? No, that doesn’t seem quite right.

    • Craig Keeling   On   December 20, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      This is pure gold.
      Maxwell’s criticism of the people’s “lack of doctrinal sophistication” is so disturbing and disingenuous.
      Wow–if only there were some curriculum, institute, seminary, class, instruction, or block meetings that were required and regularly attended by these people… perhaps that could fix this “lack of doctrinal sophistication”?
      Maybe if the church had more resources, buildings, and full-time employees in a huge office building, it could accomplish this monumental task of educating people?

  15. IdahoTam   On   January 8, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    Um. I don’t think anyone else actually caught on to the “gullibility isn’t actually a word” joke.

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