Friday, January 1, 2016

Essential Mormon Books of 2015 (And One From 2012)

Previously: The Hidden Reason For the Policy Change on Baptisms

Professional book reviewers tend to present their lists of favorite books in time for their readers to buy them as Christmas gifts. But professional reviewers are not as lazy as I am.  I was sleeping through most of December with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head -or I might have been, if I had any idea what sugar plums look like.  When I was awake, I spent most of my time reading, so presented below are the half dozen Mormon-themed books I found most compelling during those brief waking hours.

2015 was a year in which many strange changes took place within the LDS Church, all of them without even a pretense of having been initiated by revelation from God. Today the managing director of public relations for the Church has assumed the role of Church spokesman, where once we relied -at least nominally- on the president of the Church in that role. [2]
[1] The "clarification" last month of the Church's new policy barring certain children from being baptized is a recent example, as the head of the Church's public relations arm conducted a carefully crafted interview with an apostle so low in the hierarchy, that had it not been for the recent deaths of three higher-ranking apostles, he would still be second from the bottom in seniority today. Note also that while this baffling new policy completely overrides a clear commandment which Jesus revealed to the church in 1831, there is no mention in this interview -or anywhere else- of a revelation received in which the Lord changed his mind on that doctrine. We can be forgiven for wondering why such a momentous reversal wasn't announced by the president of the Church presenting a revelation from God, rather than by means of a staged interview between a PR flack and a junior apostle.

Antidote to Mediocrity
For more than half a century we have been spoon-fed a carefully managed narrative of our history and doctrines, with the result that much of Mormonism today is markedly different from what was introduced by our founding prophet. Occasionally I will get letters from members asking me to recommend books that tell the whole story of our religion, without the spin put out by the Church Correlation Committee.  I'm pleased, therefore, to present the first two books on my list as essential reading to anyone seeking to understand our religion as it was intended to be.

Preserving the Restoration, by Denver Snuffer
The first chapter of this remarkable book put me in mind of Apostle LeGrand Richards' classic A Marvelous Work and a Wonder. That book, first conceived in 1937 as The Mission of Mormonism, was an in-depth overview of Mormonism written well before the Church evolved into a global conglomerate of which religion is now only one of its many subsidiaries.  With the Board of Director's current focus on investing in high-rise office buildings, upper-class housing developments, and massive shopping malls, the Corporation has abandoned any pretense of a hope in the coming millennial reign of Christ.  Its investments are too long-term to abide the interruption.

In the early days of the church, the Saints were about building a Zion society. It was the crowning hope of our entire religion. Today there is absolutely no emphasis on Zion whatsoever. Our motto might as well be "We're Proudly Zero for Zion," for all it matters to the modern Church.

It was once understood that building Zion was the very reason the Lord restored his gospel on the earth in the first place. The presidency of Brigham Young represented the beginnings of a departure from that targeted goal, and things continued off track until the Saints began to simply refer to themselves as Zion.  Or was it Utah that was Zion? No one really knew anymore.  Was Zion a bank? The name of a dry cleaning establishment? A department store? A city center?  The name was up for grabs.

Our Mormon ancestors seem to have gotten derailed somewhere on the path until eventually we all gave up trying to figure it out and became content to put it into the hands of the leaders.  Denver Snuffer's book serves as a road map of sorts to put us back on track.  Adapted from Denver's famous series of 10 lectures in which he re-introduced the novel idea that we ought to be consulting our scriptures for answers, this insightful tome is nothing short of a godsend for believing Mormons actually wanting to live their religion.

Teaching For Doctrines The Commandments of Men: Tradition In Modern Mormonism,
by Robert Smith
This could be rightly considered the companion volume to Preserving the Restoration. This is a book I wish I had written, and I might have if I was about ten times smarter and knew how to write something without using snark and sarcasm.

I can't say enough good things about this book.  It is sorely needed in the church today.  This is the book you want to leave on your coffee table when the home teachers come over, because it will spark more conversations between believing Mormons than anything I can think of.  Brother Smith shows how our traditions have completely overshadowed -and in many cases completely replaced- the true doctrines Christ revealed to us in the early days of the church.

I don't like to overuse the phrase "I couldn't put it down," but I couldn't put this book down. We are losing tens of thousands of good members every year because our religion has been so watered down that there is very little substance to recommend it. The truths revealed in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants are mind-expanding, yet most of those truths are ignored as our religion's emphasis is now on the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.

I hadn't actually realized how serious the situation was until I saw the astounding number of false teachings Brother Smith catalogs in this book; false teachings that have all but replaced our reliance on the word of God. No wonder conversion rates are stagnant! We have become just another denomination among many. Our claim to being the only "true" church seems absurd to most outsiders who understandably can't tell the difference, except that our Sunday meetings are more insipid than theirs.  What does our church teach that is truly revolutionary anymore?  Why is the spirit of God not palpable in our meetings? Where is the joy in our worship services?

For that matter, where is the worship?

The scriptures charge us with obeying the commandments of Christ, yet very little of what we are taught in church and in general conference these days can be found in scripture or the revelations of Christ.  Just as the ancient Judeans over time replaced the scriptural Torah with the Talmud, we tend to elevate commentaries on the scriptures above the scriptures themselves.  Or we ignore the scriptures entirely and prefer our religion filtered through manuals, handbooks, and Church magazines.

Going to the source for our doctrine is virtually unknown in the Church today. We don't consult the scriptures for understanding; we look to the commentaries. Or we put our faith in men who quote each other quoting one another's commentaries, or who simply make stuff up on the fly. This has given us a rich tradition. But it is a tradition consisting of little but traditions. As author Robert Smith points out, tradition is sclerotic.
"Tradition has a way of being promoted to something more than it is; it becomes calcified and entrenched into the culture.  When it hardens in our cultural/collective memory, it becomes something more than it was originally intended.  Tradition almost always becomes policy, and policies almost always become commandments." (From the introduction, Pg 4)
 Or as Elder Ronald Poelman originally stated the problem in general conference,
"Sometimes traditions, customs, social practices, and personal preferences of individual Church members may, through repeated or common usage be misconstrued as Church procedures or policies. Occasionally, such traditions, customs, and practices may even be regarded by some as eternal gospel principles."
As most of us now know, that section of Elder Poelman's talk disappeared from the official record along with many other obvious truths he presented in conference that day.  Apparently someone higher-up preferred the teaching of false doctrines to true ones.

Robert Smith has written and edited a number of remarkable books, and this more than any other will wake up your friends and family members who don't yet recognize that we have a problem.  But Robert does a lousy job of self-promotion. At a hefty 387 pages, the book could easily sell for $25.00 or more, but he doesn't care to make any proceeds on it so he has priced it on Amazon for just over 13 dollars, the minimum cost to produce it.  He further encourages people to download the pdf version for free here, but I recommend buying the hard copy because it's a beautiful book and you'll find yourself paging back and forth in it for reference.

Oh, and if you didn't get the ramifications of the cover illustration, just think it through a bit. You may have heard of the painting of Christ on the wall of a church in Spain. (See the header illustration at the top of this page.) Over the decades the paint had been flaking off that painting, so the painting was "restored" by a woman whose tragic lack of ability was not recognized until it was too late. She did such a gosh-awful job of restoring the painting that photos of her abominable work circulated all over the internet, to both laughter and dismay.

So how does that woman's horrid attempt at retouching a classic artwork relate to tradition in Mormon thought?  It has to do with what happens when some people think they know better than the artist, and set out to try and "fix" the original. Through the limits of the window of experience, along with willful ignorance of scripture and history, our Church leaders see flaking paint and decide to "fix" the doctrines, turning the church into a grotesque, comical caricature of the original.

There Are Save Two Churches Only, Volume II, by D. Christian Markham
I've always felt it odd that so many members tenaciously cling to the belief that this Church is incapable of failing, in spite of Book of Mormon prophets asserting that very thing will happen in our day. Such opinions are remarkably similar to those who are convinced against all reason that God will always smile with approval on the United States of America.

Yet if we believe that both the Church and America were instituted at the hand of  God, doesn't it stand to reason that is precisely where Satan would focus his efforts at chipping away? God was clear that He was the one who laid the foundations of our government, but can anyone truly say our government has not been corrupted?  Didn't ancient Israel fall? Was not the first century Christian church infiltrated and its mission diverted? And does not the Book of Mormon prophecy that the church in the latter days would eventually be polluted?  How then can we smugly assume that Lucifer has no interest in corrupting this institution?

I reviewed Volume I shortly after it was published two years ago[2], and I was just about to contact the author to ask him if there ever was going to be a promised second volume, when the notice arrived in my email box earlier this month. I'm delighted to say it was worth the wait; volume II is even more remarkable than the first, and that's saying something. (I see I've used the word "remarkable" to describe every book here so far, but that seems to be the most fitting description for each of them.)  This book deals with corruption in both church and state, with a focus on para-politics and hidden history in every major institution, whether domestic or global.  I've been an avid student of this stuff for well over thirty years now, yet Christian Markham has presented information in this volume I had not before contemplated.  He's done a very thorough job of researching his topics, resulting in an A-1 publication that I won't hesitate to recommend as much as the previous two books above.  The past few months have been a banner year for Mormon truth seekers, and this book is a must-have as well.
[2] My review of the first volume can be found near the end of this post; scroll down to the subheading labeled "Christmas Books."

Unequally Yoked: How To Preserve The Restoration And Still Save Your Marriage, by Bret and Samantha Corbridge

The best way I know how to describe this important book is to quote from the introduction:
In Mormonism today, there exists a growing number of LDS couples who find themselves in a complicated situation.  Generally speaking, these men and women have been married in the temple, are active in the church, and are working to raise children in this dark and difficult world. 
Although every story is unique, the basic challenge these couples face is similar.  One spouse, and it can be either the husband or the wife, determines to search deeper into the gospel of Jesus Christ and the glories of the Kingdom. (D&C 42:61) He or she studies scripture and then compares the holy word of God to what the LDS Church is currently teaching.  Making this comparison results in a spiritual awakening, which includes a realization of how much light and truth has been lost since the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  This person may try to share their new understanding with those they love, only to find that others do not appreciate the additional perspective, and instead choose to stay in their religious traditions. (D&C 93:39)  
In general, the spouse in harmony with the mainstream believes in Jesus Christ, and that spiritual safety comes in following the prophet.  He or she is "active in the church."  Meanwhile, the spouse who desires to reclaim and preserve the Restoration believes in Jesus Christ, and that spiritual growth comes through following the Holy Spirit.  He or she is "active in the gospel."
In a day when many marriages have one spouse who has stopped believing in the Restoration altogether, it seems strange that there would be problems between two people who both continue to believe in the fundamentals of the gospel; but this odd and unfortunate situation is playing out all over the church right now.  Bret Corbridge, a marriage and family therapist in Colorado, is uniquely qualified to address this problem. This thin manual is essentially a Twelve Step Program for saving marriages between two people who have more in common than they often realize, and I'm happy to report that in most instances believing couples are easily finding that common ground.  They may feel at first as if they belong to separate religions (and in a sense, they do), but the Corbridges, who once found themselves at odds with one another over these very issues, eventually learned there was really nothing separating them except the desire to understand.  Each "step" in this wonderful little book fills about a page and a half with wise counsel geared to help bring couples back together in a godly marriage. Though one would think divisions on religious lines should be a non-issue among couples whose core religious values are virtually identical, the dichotomy is real enough for some couples.  For them, this little book will bring back the happiness.

I Knew Their Hearts: The Amazing True Story Of A Journey Beyond The Veil To Learn The Silent Language Of The Heart,
by Jeff Olsen
I've been meaning for some time to do a blog post about Near Death Experiences among latter-day Saints, but it looks like I won't get to that for some time, and I didn't want to postpone recommending this particular book any longer than I already have. (It was published in 2012, which shows you how long I've been sitting on it.)

The author fell asleep one day while driving, and the resulting accident killed his wife and youngest child, wiping out half his family in an instant.  He himself was seriously injured and clinically dead, at which time he found himself beyond the veil. To his surprise, he found himself face to face with his recently departed wife, who was just as surprised to see him, insisting he shouldn't be there and had to go back.

I won't go into his other experiences, because what has fascinated me about NDEs ever since I read the experience of Dannion Brinkley in Saved By The Light, is the personal transformation experienced by these people upon their return. Jeff reports having lost all fear; not just fear of death as one might expect, but all fear and anxiety over the day-to-day vicissitudes of life. Replacing that fear has been an overwhelming love and sense of connection to all other people.  I got a small taste of that "mighty change" myself following my baptism of fire in February of 2007, so I'm fascinated by how these feelings play out with those who actually had the experience of crossing over.

Although Jeff remains active in the church, he reports feelings quite similar to those of other Mormons who had near death experiences. In a Youtube snippet of an interview with Dan Wotherspoon at Mormon Matters, Jeff says "I have very little interest in 'religion' after my experience; I have an increased interest in truth, in light, and particularly in love."

Before he returned to his broken body, Jeff reports an encounter with Jesus Christ, who gave him two words of counsel: "choose joy."

The final set of books I wanted to mention here is the History of Joseph Smith And The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints, edited by Dan Vogel.

This is unusual for me, because the first thing I have to admit is I haven't read these books.  In fact, I'll be lucky if I ever even get to see them in my lifetime.  They were put on sale December 8th in a limited edition of only 250 sets total at $1,000.00 a set. They sold out the same day to folks who had a lot more money to spend on books than I do.

This is an exhaustively researched and annotated re-pressing of what we know today as the Documentary History of the Church, and the reason it's important is Dan Vogel has dug up everything there is to know on how these histories were compiled.  As we now know, after Joseph Smith's death the official histories were doctored under the direction of Brigham Young, who employed Willard Richards and others to present Joseph Smith as saying words he never spoke. (I first wrote about this unscrupulous practice here, where I included some examples of the forgeries.)

I would hope that at least some of these volumes were grabbed up by university libraries in Utah, so if you are interested in this sort of thing and want to see them, you might ask around. (Sadly, I live in California, so chances are slim these books will show up at the Sacramento Public Library.) Meanwhile, Signature Books has provided a lengthy excerpt from the introduction here.

Update January 2nd:I'm just informed that a handful of sets of these histories still remain available. As of this writing, Benchmark Books in Salt Lake City still has at least a couple of sets in stock, and Confetti Books in Spanish Fork is said to have six sets left.  So if you want these treasures and have an extra thousand bucks lying around, you'd better act fast.  (And if you have two thousand bucks lying around, pick me up a set too, will ya?)

Update Jaunuary 4th:
I've just learned that There Are Save Two Churches Only is available for free downloading in pdf format at the book's website, along with free multimedia material that includes audio samples from the book.  I also failed to note Brother Markham priced the softcover versions at Amazon's lowest price point, and in the book's description there are coupon codes that will take the price down to around $13.00.
Well, that wraps up another year of Pure Mormonism. I'm finishing this up just before midnight on New Year's Eve. This is how I celebrate holidays now, I guess.


Steven Lester said...

I was especially interested in the book about the NDE. It's always amazing to me how different reality appears to one who has visited Eternity and then returns imbued with a sight that looks out at our human world with an Eternal Perspective, which, of course, changes everything. There is no religion on the Otherside. It's only what is. One would think that once arrived one would not ever have to leave, but more and more, reincarnation to lives with others we knew before who lived in other roles seems to be the norm, if not the forced placement that so often disappoint those who die and then are returned to their earlier situation without any regard for one's "free agency" or the physical agony so many of them feel afterward. Apparently, pain is a moot point to the Otherside, since none of its residents ever feel it, or remember what it was like.

Mormondom is no longer my religion because I am gay and autistic and there is no place for me within that human institution. For 32 years it was a source of true frustration and pain for me until I learned about the NDE. Then, I read thousands of reports (no exaggeration) and found something that could not logically be denied, and it became my new faith. Once I had left I began to read your blog and found many reasons to back up the feelings of betrayal I had, and you have continued to provide those to the present day. Thank you, Rock, for that.

Rob said...

Thanks for the kind words, Rock. I hope others get as much out of "Teachings for Doctrines" as you did.

Rebecca C. said...

I guess it says something how I was so creeped out at the cover on the second book. I was thinking there's no way I'm putting that ugly thing on the "hot chocolate" table until you explained. Now I think I have to buy all these books. I hope the church didn't buy all the 1000 dollar sets to get them out of our hands. ;0)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Now there's a disconcerting thought, Rebecca.

Kendal Anderson said...

Been waiting for Markham's second book for a long time. Can't believe it was released almost two months ago. Volume 1 was mind blowing. Do you guys think that any PDFs of the $1000 sets will eventually be leaked?

Kendal Anderson said...

I started your book. It's awesome. And devastating to those who worship the brethren.

Good Will said...

A few years ago Rob Smith blew me away with his declaration to me that active membership in the Mormon Church actually deters one from coming unto Christ. The net effect is negative, he told me. "You are better off now not belonging to the LDS Church."

I couldn't believe him then! And even after I was unfairly excommunicated for "apostasy" (as Rock and others have been), I still couldn't believe it...until I started reading Rob's book.

The repercussion to the LDS Church (and to the membership thereof) of replacing the doctrine of Christ with the traditions of men is positively damning. To paraphrase David O. McKay, "No success can compensate for failure in the doctrine."

This is no insignificant book. In my view, it is the "A Marvelous Work And A Wonder" for our time. Inasmuch as LeGrand Richards explicated sixty six years ago the whys and wherefores of the Restored Gospel, thereby enticing countless souls to embrace "Mormonism," Robert Smith now demonstrates how the true doctrine of Christ has been extracted and ejected from the spinning wreckage that has become the modern LDS Church.

This book is as important to my salvation as any book I have read outside of the scriptures. It not only obliterates the tangled knots of false doctrine, "fuzzy" thinking, wicked practices and foolish rationalizations now pervading the apostatic LDS Church, but it establishes the TRUE doctrine of Christ. It "clears the ground" of falsehood in the hopes that we might have sufficient space and interest to build something sure, steadfast, immovable and everlasting.

My only concern now (regarding this book...other than to finish reading it!) is how to get it into as many Mormon hands as possible.

Greg said...

Rock, there are still sets of the Dan Vogel 8 volume history collection available for purchase at Confetti Antiques & Books, and perhaps at other locations too. I just called to verify with Confetti. They have 6 sets in stock still. So at least right now as of 1/2/2016 at 10:13 am anyone interested can purchase themselves a set if they so desire.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for that info, Greg. I've updated the post to reflect that information.

Unknown said...


Thank you for posting these, particularly "Preserving the Restoration." I think the author (and you) are exactly right that Mormonism began with the idea that original Christianity was concerned with creating a just society--the Kingdom of God on earth. And I'm afraid that the current corporate church has no interest in such things.

But it is deeply encouraging to find those ideals still alive on the fringes. This is a good thing, because if there is one thing that a whole lot of people agree on, it is that we need a more just society. I look forward to reading that book, and others, with great interest.

Sheldon Greaves

Frederickson said...

Bought all six of them. Will read them carefully. Thanks for the reviews and suggestions.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I just added another update at the end of the piece showing how you can get "There Are Save Two Churches Only" at reduced price, and free in pdf.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to get a set of Dan Vogel's books. I pre-ordered them while I was at the book store looking for another book that Rock had recommended. :) I'm so grateful that I have that volume set of all 8 books!

Unknown said...

Rock... Rock on!

Was a bit worried about you... And glad to see you still are trying to distill the truth!

Brotherly love,


Unknown said...

Fawn Brodie, the Tanners etc...

When will those apologies come?!

Late 2015, most members don't even know about church essays confirming what others were excommunicated over.

Sad. :(

Robin Hood said...

I bought Robert Smith's book "Teaching for Commandments the Doctrines of Men" on the strength of your recommendation Rock. I have long railed against tradition in the church. Came to verbal blows with a Stake President once over the issue, and walked out of the church and didn't return for 5 years. It's a subject dear to my heart so I was excited to open the Amazon package and read.

A question: Have you read this book Rock?

The reason I ask is that it is really quite poor. Both poorly written (grammer is obviously not the author's strong point.... but what about the proof reader!!!) and poorly presented. The positions he takes are both highly questionable and tenuous at times and I was left feeling very disappointed.

A very poor recommendation Rock. I'm glad I only wasted a few quid.

PNW_DPer said...

Yea, Robin Hood. I started to read the free PDF, and got the impression that while there might be some value in what Rob is saying, I might get more value from reading 300 pages of the Book of Mormon than from 300+ pages of his book.

It is from reading the Book of Mormon, combined with life experience, that I learned that the intersection of Mormon culture and the Gospel of Christ is quite a bit smaller than most Mormons think it is.

Actually I like a lot of what Rob says on his blog and in his comments, but I don't agree with everything he says.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

The unfortunate reality for those of us who self-publish books is that hiring someone else to proof read them would be prohibitive, so we have to do it ourselves. I must have combed through my own manuscript a dozen times looking for typos, yet at least three slipped through I didn't spot until I got my own hard copy. I also noticed a few typos in Rob's book, but I'm willing to overlook them because I do think the subject matter is one that has long needed addressing in the church. And of course I disagree with Robin Hood's assessment that the positions the author takes are highly tenuous and questionable. I think they are anything but. Brother Hood's opinion is fine with me, but I am coming to realize that Europeans are not seeing the extent of the problem in the church that is so obvious to us Americans. This book is creating a lot of buzz precisely because it is sorely needed at this time. I'm far from the only reader who was excited to see it produced.

I doubt Rob Smith would disagree with PNW_DPR on his preference for reading the Book of Mormon instead where he notices the discrepancies between the true gospel and what the Church is currently teaching. But that's pretty much Rob's thesis, and unfortunately the average member isn't reading the scriptures and comparing them to the current teachings, which is why Rob's book comes in real handy. Not everyone needs to have the obvious pointed out to them, but many of our brothers and sister could use a nudge. I'm glad Rob wrote this book because it calls attention to the false teachings that have substituted for the true gospel, and does it in a way that is hard to dispute.

Robin Hood said...

Thanks Rock.
I think you make an important point about the church outside the US. I certainly don't experience anything akin to the descriptions of ecclesiastical abuse etc I often encounter from malcontents on the internet. Sometimes, it's almost like we're members of different churches!
There's a forum called LDS Freedom which seems to be frequented mainly by ultra right-wing conservative gun slinging, Muslim hating, government loathing conspiracy theorists. I have to keep reminding myself that these people are members of the same church as me. We are world's apart and I don't know anybody in the church here in the UK or elsewhere in Europe who would have anything in common with these people, with the exception of their religious affiliation.
I find this a strange thing indeed.

The main problem with Smith's book, as far as I'm concerned, is that he is very, very selective in his source materials. He seems to favour the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and quotes frequently from it as if it is the repository of all wisdom and truth. I even found myself literally shouting at the book in my annoyance (fortunately I was alone at the time!) at his tendency to ignore well-known sources which either contradict or at least balance a position he has taken. And that's the crux of it I think. I had mistakenly assumed Smith was approaching this study objectively, when in reality he is justifying a pre-conception.
It's ok to do that, but it wasn't clear initially. Not in your recommendation either.
Now don't get me wrong, the book isn't entirely without merit. Very few books are. I am just surprised it made your recommended list Rock. But the fact that it did gives me hope that mine might do too one day! ;) (when I've written it of course).
By the way Rock, happy new year!

Rob said...

I'm glad to hear any complaints you might have. So far, the only one you've listed is your claim that I am "very, very selective" in my source materials. I'm not sure where you are getting that, as I freely quote from History of the Church, general conference talks, TPJS, WOJS, and (more than any other source) the scriptures. Not sure what sources you were hoping to see that were not included.

As far as favoring Joseph Smith's teachings, the book is quite plain in assuming the preeminence of Joseph Smith's teachings. In fact, there is an entire chapter with that exact title explaining why.

You are entitled to a different opinion than mine. However, I advise you to exercise more restraint in your review until you have actually thought about the contents of the book enough to provide an evidence for your opinion. It is quite unfair to paint such broad strokes with such little thought in response to a work that took thousands of hours to prepare, all without compensation. Please be more considerate.

Jared Livesey said...


It sounds like your experience with Rob's book mirrored my own. You, however, seem to have finished it; I couldn't compel myself to. Therefore I recuse myself from reviewing it.

Partisan hackery is invisible to those whose biases are mirrored by the hack's. It's when we don't share those biases that we see them clearly.

Jared Livesey said...

And Rob, you might understand Robin to be saying you failed to sell your values to him. You may not even be aware you were trying to. Instead of demanding Robin engage in an uncompensated and extensive project to illustrate and document your ... biased and selective use of evidence, shall we say ... why don't you consider that every claim you made which wasn't supported by citation or evidence is a questionable one, at best, and try to prove your points, accounting for the contrary evidence?

Jared Livesey said...

And, if the uncited source of your questionable claims is Denver Snuffer - as it was in the portions I read - go ahead, be honest and forthright, and cite him. Of course, that would prevent your book from being taken seriously by its target audience, but that's the price one pays for honesty and boldness and forthrightness.

Jared Livesey said...

Sometimes, I labor for a long time over the toilet to deliver a hot steaming crap - but I don't demand those who think it stank labor likewise to describe just how stinky it was to them. But, then, everyone craps, and everyone else's crap stinks.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Geez, Log, I'm surprised at you. You are being unusually harsh for reasons I can't begin to guess at.

Well, this appears to be one of those books that some of us are wildly enthusiastic about, while others just don't get it. To each his own, I guess.

Lester said...

I second your inclination to favor the Book of Mormon over Rob Smith’s book, PNW_DPer, but I believe Rock is clearer in his assessment when he calls for the primacy of the Book of Mormon over all other books.

My experience as a Gospel Doctrine teacher bears out your additional observation, Rock, that a great many practicing Mormons are much less familiar with the teachings of Christ through their own study of the scriptures than they believe. Over and over otherwise intelligent, good-natured folks in my class seem to conflate the teachings of Christ with a cruft of popular interpretations and practices that has sifted down through correlated lesson manuals, conference talks and Church News stories—that is, class members like to cite those sources for their insights instead of the scriptures. My conclusion is that many of us are functionally illiterate in the teachings of Christ while at the same time patting ourselves on the back for belonging to “the one true church” that rewards our cognitive biases that we are in the fast lane to salvation.

Begrudging Smith a few typos and moments of inelegant grammar in his presentation of a warning we meet repeatedly in scripture is curious, Robin Hood and Log. Being unpersuaded by his arguments is wonderful if they don’t speak to you. If you disagree with the warning against “teaching for commandments the doctrines of men" from scripture, however, come out and say so. If you agree, why carp at Smith’s efforts here?

Smith’s thesis and supporting evidence reminds me of a lovely metaphor by Catholic Benedictine monk and champion of interfaith dialog, David Steindl-Rast. During Link TV's Lunch With Bokara 2005 episode The Monk and the Rabbi, he stated: “The religions start from mysticism. There is no other way to start a religion. But, I compare this to a volcano that gushes forth ...and then ...the magma flows down the sides of the mountain and cools off. And when it reaches the bottom, it's just rocks. You'd never guess that there was fire in it. So after a couple of hundred years, or two thousand years or more, what was once alive is dead rock. Doctrine becomes doctrinaire. Morals become moralistic. Ritual becomes ritualistic. What do we do with it? We have to push through this crust and go to the fire that's within it.”

I applaud Rob Smith’s book. Thank you, Brother Smith. Compared against D&C 10:67-69 the Church™ indeed seems to have lost the fire of its founder. Thanks for the recommendation, Rock.

Jared Livesey said...

Hey Rock,

No offense, bro. It's not that I don't get the book, it's that the book was so unpleasant to slog through - I only attempted reading it at the ecstatic, enthusiastic, and exuberant recommendation of Good Will - that after multiple face-palmings and wanting to crack my brains out on a wall rather than read another word, I finally deleted it and decided I wasn't going to review it.

Someone doesn't need to explain to a chef what exactly he did to produce a dish not to their taste - it suffices to say they didn't like it. Many of the delusional failing business owners on Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares just could not accept the idea that not everything they did was golden. Everything the owners were doing was right, of course, and the customers simply had it out for them.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about.

I find the idea that none should dare to express an opinion on the book save they give forth sufficient evidence to satisfy Rob that their opinion is justified in his eyes to be more than a little problematic on its own terms.

And if God hasn't compensated Rob for a work that was presumably done on His behalf, then maybe it wasn't actually done on His behalf. And if He has compensated Rob, then whence Rob's unseemly reaction to Robin's opinion?

Jared Livesey said...


Suffice it to say I can agree with a thesis, and at the same time hold the opinion that a mass of words produced with the aim of establishing the thesis to be a pile of hot, steaming crap.

That's because I do not applaud everything that agrees with stuff I agree with.

Neither did they in the New Testament.

16 ¶And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.

18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

You see, Lester, you're kinda in the position of someone who would say to Paul, "Paul, if you don't agree you are a servant of the Most High God who shows to us the way of salvation, why don't you come out and say so? If you do agree, why do you carp at her efforts?"

SB said...

30 And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions?

31 Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved!

Why must we make sport of our brothers? Though Rob's writing may not resonate with all, perhaps it will resonate with who it is intended. May we rejoice in the kaleidoscope of each other's efforts.

Jared Livesey said...

Who's making sport? If none, why bring it up? If any, make the accusation openly.

After all, if we sin openly, shall we not be rebuked openly?

Therefore, as Joseph taught, "Be honest, open, and frank in all your intercourse with mankind." That is to say, eschew passive-aggression.

"We would say, beware of pride also; for well and truly hath the wise man said, that pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. And again, outward appearance is not always a criterion by which to judge our fellow man; but the lips betray the haughty and overbearing imaginations of the heart; by his words and his deeds let him be judged. Flattery is also a deadly poison. A frank and open rebuke provoketh a good man to emulation; and in the hour of trouble he will be your best friend; but on the other hand, it will draw out all the corruptions of corrupt hearts, and lying and the poison of asps is under their tongues; and they do cause the pure in heart to be cast into prison, because they want them out of their way."

So, consider: either I am un-self-reflective, or I am in fact self-aware. Which do you think it is?

SB said...

Please forgive me log. I don't intend to argue the point. But why not just bless a brother, or just leave it alone. It may serve someone (maybe not you) well.

Jared Livesey said...


Do you think I speak for some other reason than to bless a brother - or even several, at once?

I've given constructive criticism for Rob, if he wants to take it. I have explained, hopefully to the satisfaction of all, that his reaction to Robin Hood was a red flag, and why. I have explained to Lester that agreeing with a proposition does not mean that one had ought to agree with all arguments marshalled in support of that proposition. Indeed, agreeing with the proposition might blind us to bad arguments and methods being marshalled in support of a proposition - after all, many (sigh) use teams as a proxy for truth: if you're not with us, you're wrong; if you're with us, you're right. Anything goes so long as it supports what we know to be right, right? But for me, truth is valuable for its own sake - truth is not a partisan tool, useful only when it supports what we want to be real. That was Elder Packer's error. We either conform ourselves to the truth, or we are liars at the end.

Robin Hood and I don't see eye-to-eye in many things. But in one thing we seem to agree: we want impartial and full examinations of issues that examines all relevant evidence for propositions being advanced, not partisan hackery which shies away from disconfirming evidence.

Also, consider: is the sole effect of the Holy Ghost "pure intelligence?"

44 And Nephi and Lehi were in the midst of them; yea, they were encircled about; yea, they were as if in the midst of a flaming fire, yet it did harm them not, neither did it take hold upon the walls of the prison; and they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.

45 And behold, the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words.

I wonder.

Remember: it ain't true just because Joseph, Denver Snuffer, or even Log said it. All arguments from authority are fallacious.

PNW_DPer said...

If an "authority" uses logic and reason to come to a conclusion, then that authority might be right, not because of who they are, but because their position and experience gave them insight.

An example would be all of the General and Flag officers, including Eisenhower and Nimitz, who opposed the Atomic Bombings of Japan, based on their experience fighting against the Axis forces, and their knowledge of the fact that Japan was already militarily beaten and already actively trying to surrender.

0459803485-034 said...

You said, "Why is the spirit of God not palpable in our meetings? Where is the joy in our worship services? "

I have to say it was in my meetings! If you can't feel it then maybe this would apply:

Matthew 7:23

The church is an opportunity to serve the Lord, learn and practice discipleship and sweat, sweat and more sweat. Like a child watching a 4th of July firework show, you think of nothing but the wonderful sounds and colors of the celebration. You don't understand that the reason we celebrate that day is because others beforehand made the ultimate sacrifice for that show. Likewise, going to church and expecting a day of Pentacost each time is not only unrealistic but unproductive.

Put your shoulder to the wheel brother and quit squeakin!

Craig Morris said...

PNW_DPer, Log didn't say all conclusions from an authority are incorrect but that all arguments from authority are fallacious, a huge difference. The argument counts. One thing I can't abide is someone trying to defend something I believe in with a bogus argument. The more strongly I believe it, the more offensive a fallacious argument becomes.

Steak Presedent said...


I agree with you. I feel the Spirit in meetings, and learn from his guidance. I receive revelations at church, just like I can from reading the scriptures. It depends on what else I'm doing with my life and my attitude towards things. Sadly, I do feel a little less joy now, due to hearing "brethrenite" doctrine. But, that's not really a problem. It's good to be saddened by wrong things (or sometimes it's just an emphasis I don't go for anymore, not that it's necessarily wrong.)

Steak Presedent said...

I've been giving a lot of thought to the concept of GAs or any leader having to quote God if they give a commandment to the church, or reveal a new policy etc. Do they always have to? (I said I've been giving thought, not that I have come to conclusions about it all yet).

I can accept that a prophet doesn't always have to quote God in all his teachings. The scriptures contain a lot of teachings in the prophets' own words, whether God has told them to go and tell people to repent, or teach and expound something that has already been revealed. Some of these teachings are written down, but as the Book of Mormon states many times, not all of it is recorded.

When God revealed his doctrine and teachings of how to organise and establish the church, he did so to Joseph Smith (as He did to others before) through revelation and things were written down. I think God can change things if He wishes through later revelations. I take issue with things that are changed without a written revelation to give authority to it, or explain. I don't mind (though God might) matters such as adding a new type of seventy, an Area Seventy, to organise a wider area than stake. The church has grown and changes like these, need to be made. However, removing the need to reveal the financial ledgers of the church, to the members of the church, or telling people they need to wait a year after a civil wedding before they can be sealed in the temple, are alterations that I believe would require a revelation from the Lord. Only a written revelation can supersede a written revelation, especially ones that are to do with commanding others to do things. Only God can command others, not leaders or anyone else. The only exception I know of in scripture, is Nephi giving a commandment to his posterity to only record spiritual matters upon the plates. He didn't quote the Lord on that.

As well as the example with Nephi above, there are a few cases in scriptures when God isn't quoted, or when they were told something came from God. Then we have Joseph Smith saying all sorts of things, and even contradicting himself (e.g. slavery of the African people is ok, then it's not ok). I think it's alright though, because I believe God wants us to learn how to teach others. He doesn't want to tell everything to us and have us simply repeat him. We need to learn to become like Him and that means, learning wisdom and knowledge ourselves.

But it sometimes feels like a game of Simon says. We do the things when we are told Simon said it, but if Simon didn't say so, we are not supposed to. But some things are just good, wise teachings that make sense, such as Nephi's commandment above.

Gary Hunt said...


You stated "... All arguments from authority are fallacious." This is not correct. Please refer to the following link to get an excellent description of when arguing from authority (argumentum ad verecundiam) is valid and when it is not.

Wikipedia also does a excellent job.

Jared Livesey said...


I repeat: all arguments from authority are fallacious. The conclusion of any such argument does not necessarily follow from the premises.

You're free to disagree. Anyone is free to trust in man, or make flesh their arm if they so wish.

Gary Hunt said...


In regards to your first sentence, did you read the link I provided?

Your second sentence is a straw man argument. It is also an argument from authority. That authority being the scriptures.

Jared Livesey said...


I see that truth isn't enough for you.

Good luck in choosing your authorities, your leaders, your experts, as you suppose. You may certainly trust in men, and make flesh your arm. There's no commandment against it, but there are woes pronounced upon those who make that choice.

That's all there is to say about it.

Gary Hunt said...


You use many scriptures in your arguments. Why do you use the scriptures? Because you, and many others, consider the scriptures to be an authoritative source for arguing your points. The truth is, you are arguing from authority when you quote scriptures. Are your arguments fallacious because you argue from the authority of the scriptures?

Jared Livesey said...

Also, Gary, from your responses to me, it's unclear whether you read your own sources, or, if you have, whether you understood them:

Log: "[A]ll arguments from authority are fallacious. The conclusion of any such argument does not necessarily follow from the premises."

Wikipedia: "The argument is fallacious if one or more of the premises are false, or if it is claimed that the conclusion must be true on the basis of authority, rather than only probably true."

"Only probably true" is equivalent, in context, to "does not necessarily follow from the premises."

I'll even go farther and assert that the argument from authority is a subset of the fallacy of non sequitur. After all, if it's a probabilistic argument, then it falls under the "appeal to probability" fallacy.

Jared Livesey said...

"You use many scriptures in your arguments. Why do you use the scriptures?"

Because you say you accept them as authoritative. If you do, then you're stuck with the conclusions. If you don't, then the argument means nothing to you.

Gary Hunt said...


I assure you I have read and understand them. You're going way off on some tangent (red herring)and you did not answer my question. Here it is again. Are your arguments fallacious because you argue from the authority of the scriptures?

Jared Livesey said...

Wikipedia: Appeal to probability – is a statement that takes something for granted because it would probably be the case (or might be the case)

Wikipedia: The appeal to authority is a form of argument attempting to establish a statistical syllogism.

So damned close to an exact contradiction, isn't it? That's the point of bullshittery, right there.

The appeal to authority is simply an attempt to sidestep the process of demonstrating to someone that a claim is true by snowing them with an appeal to esoteric knowledge. I'm not impressed by claims to authority; I treat them as red-flags - a sign someone's bullshitting me, at best. And you know what? When I investigate, I find out they usually are bullshitting me. At best.

Jared Livesey said...

"Are your arguments fallacious because you argue from the authority of the scriptures?"

Here we go again with the answer, Gary: IF you accept the scriptures as authoritative, THEN you are stuck with the conclusions of the arguments based on their premises.

IF you do not, THEN the argument will be fallacious, to you, as the conclusion will not follow from premises you hold to be true.

My arguments are value propositions, Gary.

But why don't we look at an actual example, Gary? Why don't you put up an example of an argument of mine which is premised on the scriptures, and let's analyze it, to see if it is fallacious?

You see, Gary, if you agree X is true because the scriptures say X, and if X has necessary implication Y, then, Gary, you must logically agree Y is true, because you have agreed X is true.

That's not a fallacy, Gary. That's not even an appeal to authority, really. You say you believe X, therefore you must believe Y.

Jared Livesey said...

Here, Gary - an example to try out.

2 Nephi 28:31
31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

IF, therefore, you agree with the Book of Mormon that he that puts his trust in men, or makes flesh his arm, or shall listen to the instructions of men, unless their instructions are given by the power of the Holy Ghost, is cursed, then you must logically agree that IF you, Gary, put your trust in experts (authorities, leaders, whatever), then you, Gary, are cursed.

There's no fallacy here, is there, Gary? It's a pure hypothetical. Of course, if you disagree with the Book of Mormon and also put your trust in experts (authorities, leaders, whatever), then the Book of Mormon does not serve as persuasive evidence to you that you're cursed. To those who do accept it as authoritative, of course, they will be persuaded.

Gary Hunt said...


You left out the first sentence, the second paragraph and some other statements from the Wikipedia article. Here's a couple statements you left out.

"The Argument from authority (Latin: argumentum ad verecundiam) also appeal to authority, is a common argument form which can be fallacious, such as when an authority is cited on a topic outside their area of expertise, or when the authority cited is not a true expert.[1]"

"Fallacious examples of using the appeal include any appeal to authority used in the context of deductive reasoning or when the cited authority is stating a contentious or controversial position, speaking about issues unrelated to their expertise or if they are not a true expert at all.[3][4]"

What you are doing is using selective evidence (straw man) to try and prove your point. This is a logical fallacy.

It appears you are not going to answer the question, so I will leave it to other readers to evaluate the sources and come to their own conclusions.

Have a good rest of the day.

Jared Livesey said...

Or, in fine, my "arguments" are of the following form.

If you agree that X is true, and if X has necessary implication Y, then your agreement with X necessarily implies your agreement with Y.

Assuming you agree with X, and if X implies Y is sound, your disagreement with Y means you are not consistent - so you either made a mistake in agreeing with X, or you're a liar.

Again, this is not an argument from authority. Your belief that X is true might, itself, hinge upon your acceptance of a statement from authority, but that's not my problem, is it?

Jared Livesey said...

Gary, I have answered you fully and completely.

If you can't perceive the difference between me asserting something is true because an authority says it, and me saying if you agree something is true because an authority says it then you must agree with certain conclusions, then I can't help you.

Have a good day.

Jared Livesey said...

And, I have to stress, Gary, this is not a subtle distinction, which makes me wonder if you're sincere.

Argument from authority
Authority X says Y.
Therefore, Y is [probably] true.

Argument from Log
You agree with Authority X when he says Y.
Y logically entails Z.
Therefore you either agree with Z, or else you were mistaken or lying in claiming to agree with Y, or in taking X as an authority.

This isn't hard. There's no fallacy in my "argument."

Steak Presedent said...

The problem is, however, that people do not interpret church authorities as the "arm of flesh." People who think this are sort of half-right. If the counsel from the man in authority came from God, and we heed it, we are trusting in God. If it did not come from God, then we are trusting in the arm of flesh.

It's like a Schroginger's cat situation. If the authority delivers counsel, and it came from God, then he is right. But if it did not come from God, he is wrong. Since he won't reveal that it is the word of God, we won't know. So he is both right and wrong at the same time, until we find the answer to the question of divine origin to his statement, in which case we can then accept one of the two possibilities.

Or maybe I've been thinking a little too much about it.

Gary Hunt said...


Since my last comment you have posted five comments. Two before I finalized my post and three after. In argumentation it is customary to allow the opponent time to respond to the last comment before going on with more. What you are doing is argumentum ad infinitum, which is a logical fallacy and quite frankly is rude.

Let me put my argument as simply as possible. Arguing from authority can be legitimate if the following standards are used. These come from and are explained in greater detail on their website. You can substitute authority

1. The person has sufficient expertise in the subject matter in question.
2. The claim being made by the person is within her area(s) of expertise.
3. There is an adequate degree of agreement among the other experts in the subject in question.
4. The person in question is not significantly biased.
5. The area of expertise is a legitimate area or discipline.
6. The authority in question must be identified.

From what you have written, it is obvious to me that you misunderstand my premise. You think I am saying that something is true because an authority says it. This is false because even authorities can be wrong. All I am saying is, in argumentation it is valid to use authorities if the above six standards are followed.

This debate has gotten to the point of argumentum ad nauseam. This is my last comment on this subject.

Have a wonderful evening.

Jared Livesey said...


For me to accept Nizkor as an authority on the argument from authority would be for me to commit the fallacious appeal to authority, as well as begging the question, as you have done. That you don't see the delicious irony in your own position is interesting.

Once again: show me an example of me deploying the argument from authority.

If I haven't, then it's not me being rude, is it? And it's not me being insincere, is it?

Have an awesomely interesting evening.

Steak Presedent said...

If I could referee a little here, Log: Gary said it was rude to make five comments without him being able to respond, not that you were rude for not providing an example of deploying the argument from authority.

You were talking about Gary accepting an authority and so was he. The argument wasn't about you accepting an authority. Since Gary accepts Nizkor as an authority, he's being true to his argument. I would say it is a valid argument, but people on the internet these days seem to think an argument becomes invalid when it is proven wrong. I don't see why that is. I thought it would become invalid, if it clearly makes no sense or contradicts itself. Gary hasn't contradicted himself.

Since you find an appeal to authority to be fallacious, then you won't agree with his basis for seeing that an authority could be right. The key points in Gary's argument is that an authority can be wrong but it is valid to appeal to one as long as he fulfills those criteria. I see that when one fulfills these criteria he does not fall under the fallacious appeal to authority, according to the Wikipedia article you cited.

I wish you both a fantastic evening.

Steak Presedent said...

My comment above isn't in reference to authorities in the church, but those in general. Those in the church have to fulfill the criteria of not making stuff up.

Jared Livesey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jared Livesey said...

This is as simple as I can make it.

1. As a deductive argument, the argument from authority is invalid.
2. As an inductive argument, it is functionally an appeal to personal credulity, or an appeal to the bandwagon.

While the argument from authority may deploy probabilistic language in terms of "probably," "likely," "unlikely," and whatnot, it is strictly psuedo-statistical, not actually statistical - no concrete, calculable numbers attach to these descriptors - therefore characterizing the argument from authority as a statistical syllogism is a category error; the probabilistic language is simply an expression of bias or credulity on the part of the one making the argument.

You're free to accept such arguments. I reject them.

If one could find an authority X such that if X says Y, then Y is true, then appeals to that authority would technically be valid as deductive arguments. No mortal human, nor set thereof, fulfills that condition that I know of.

Steak Presedent said...

"If one could find an authority X such that if X says Y, then Y is true, then appeals to that authority would technically be valid as deductive arguments. No mortal human, nor set thereof, fulfills that condition that I know of."

The mortal human will fulfill that condition when he/she proves that what they're saying is correct. Once Y is proven correct, then authority X is correct. So appealing to X wouldn't be fallacious. That doesn't mean X won', in the future, say some other Y which will be incorrect.

But anyone can have a correct Y, whether they are an authority on the subject or not. I'm not an authority on mathematics but I know that 2 + 2 = 4. An authority on mathematics will know more than me. Sure they will make mistakes from time to time, but they can demonstrate that they are correct more often than an amateur.

An appeal to authority can be an appeal to someone who knows more on the subject and demonstrate their knowledge. It doesn't mean they're right because they are an authority.

Jared Livesey said...

I've been crunching on this for a little bit.

Inasmuch as the argument from authority is characterized as either a deductive or inductive argument, it is always and everywhere fallacious: deductively because the conclusion doesn't follow necessarily from the premises, and inductively because it is a matter of pure subjective, emotional whim as to argument "strength." As I mentioned, the probabilistic language deployed to manipulate an audience into accepting the "conclusion" has the form of numeric justification while denying the content thereof.

The proper, actual, and true form for the argument from authority is this:

X says Y is true.
Therefore, you have a social obligation to believe Y is true.

It is to be noted that's merely an implication of the leader principle.

Steak Presedent said...

Yeah, Log I agree with you there. It was just certain sentences of your's that I didn't agree with and I talked about them above. Any way, it seems you've had enough of it. Allow me to change the subject. How about books?

What I would like in a book, is that it would contain what I've been searching for online. That is, it details what was taught by the Lord through Joseph Smith, during the time of the restoration, versus what is taught today. Along with that would be, how the church was organised then, versus how it is now. Robert Smith's book, from what I hear in this blog, contains my first matter. Denver Snuffer's one might include the second one, or at least with his discussion on building a Zion society it has the essence and purpose of the church organisation. But I've been intrigued by what the Lord revealed in doctrine and covenants about how the different church authorities all have the same authority, instead of the apostles telling the seventy and the stake presidents and bishops what to do (how to run their meetings, what clothes must be worn for them, etc.) Who has elaborated on this and described how the church implemented this style of church governance?

Craig Morris said...

Gary's criteria for the validity of argument from authority:

1. The person has sufficient expertise in the subject matter in question.
2. The claim being made by the person is within her area(s) of expertise.
3. There is an adequate degree of agreement among the other experts in the subject in question.
4. The person in question is not significantly biased.
5. The area of expertise is a legitimate area or discipline.
6. The authority in question must be identified.

Let's take a concrete, actual example:

1. My mother's doctor is an expert in wound care.
2. The gash in my mother's leg was within the area of his expertise.
3. He was following the procedures taught to him at an accredited medical school.
4. He was not biased against my mother or her leg gash.
5. Wound care is a legitimate area of expertise.
6. My sister met him.

According to this authority my mother needed her leg amputated. My sister (not an authority) searched on line, found a would care salve and started applying it to my mother's leg. The leg got better, no amputation was needed.

The argument from authority would have been that amputation was necessary but it was obviously fallacious. Authorities, as Log says, are only probably (and I would down grade that to maybe) right.

Also, your claims about the validity of argument by authority are based not on logic (since there are counter examples) but on the authority of the Nizkor Project, and why should we trust that? Because it was written by an authority? It's turtles all the way down.

Jared Livesey said...

That's because the argument from authority is (nearly) always miscast as an informational argument, as a means to acquire knowledge of truth.

It's not.

It's a tool of manipulation, a method of applying social pressure on someone to adopt a position without having to demonstrate that the position is according to reality - the purpose is not to find truth, but produce conformity.

The reason for the "6 conditions" is to try to give a veneer of plausibility to the pronouncements of the authority, to mitigate the (correctly) perceived risk of otherwise blindly trusting anyone in matters one is not competent to know the truth for oneself in. In other words, these "6 conditions" are an attempt to mitigate the inherent insecurity one feels in accepting authoritative pronouncements.

Jared Livesey said...


Some interesting avenues of exploration you can perform on your own might be:

1. Contrast and compare the doctrines, beliefs, practices, and structure of the Nephite Church (both pre- and post-Advent) with those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

2. Contrast and compare the requirements for salvation as explicated in the Lectures on Faith with the professional backgrounds and temporal conditions of the United 15 Apostles, their assistants, the First Quorum of the 70, the Mission Presidents, and CES employees.

I could suggest a few more, but it is more meaningful if you do it yourself - that way, nobody's pressuring you or pushing bullshit arguments on you.

Rob said...

Log is entitled to his opinion. Though I disagree with it, I opt out of arguing with him because of past experience with him. From the feedback I've received from others, I assure those considering reading the book that his opinion is the extreme minority.

Log: It is one thing to state one's dissatisfaction with a meal. It is another to rail against a restaurant in an effort to persuade others to avoid it without offering any real reasons for discontent. I think it is fair to expect a review to be commensurate with the scope of the content reviewed. I expect most people would agree.

Jared Livesey said...


You're entitled to your opinion of what is fair.

However, neither Robin nor I are reviewing your book; for my own part, I'm simply expressing distaste for it, and that's how I take Robin's statements. Your "advis[ing]" Robin that he should expend sufficient effort to justify his feelings to your satisfaction to escape your censure in expressing his opinion seems unfair, therefore.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

I remember that both Amy and Sammy were assured that the negative opinions of their cooking were in the extreme minority. I also recall Sammy challenging a diner who expressed distaste for the meal by requiring him to explain exactly what was wrong with it to Sammy's satisfaction. I think he would agree with you.

Jared Livesey said...

Also, Rob:

Amy and Sammy were convinced it was malice that drove the negative Yelp reviews of their products. This is because, as far as Amy and Sammy were concerned, their food was perfect - the fault for any distaste lay in the diners.

If you would be so kind as to show where either Robin or I have made any efforts to persuade others to avoid your book, I would appreciate it. That, or a retraction of your implicit accusation of such would be appreciated, too.

For my part, I would not have said a word about my reaction to your book in public except for your interesting reaction to Robin's expressed negative reaction - not even a review - towards your book.

You may understand me to be saying "It's OK to not like Rob's book, and to say so publicly, without giving Rob a detailed review illustrating what you didn't like about it."

Just like a diner need not explain exactly how the cook has put something not to his taste in front of him. It doesn't matter to the diner how much effort the cook went through; their experience with the food reigns supreme in evaluating the meal.

Linda Gale said...

Sorry to hijack the thread, but I just couldn't help myself. So I am asking for forgiveness from all readers but especially from Rock, please forgive me.
This was just too unsettling for me to try to find the correct place to post my comment. So here goes:

Jackie Biskupski made history last week as the first openly gay or lesbian person sworn in as mayor of Salt Lake City....

“The LDS church continues to evolve as the world evolves,” she said.
“We have to remember, too, that the leadership of that Church is from a much different generation than I am from. I can only second guess what goes on. But I have to believe that as we are evolving in our world, and in our community, and in our country, that they’ll continue to evolve as well.
And that change will happen. It has been [happening]. When I was first got elected [to the state legislature in 1998] what was in the LDS handbook that we would get every two years as a legislator — the language was so different than it is today when it comes to people who identify as LGBT. So I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

What did she just say? That the Utah Legislature gets the LDS Church Handbook every 2 years? Huh? The majority of church members have never ever seen what is in the official handbook, and yet the legislators get to peruse the new one every 2 years? Church members are judged and counseled by what is in that secret handbook and yet we cannot have access to it, or even know what is contained in it? What’s up with that?

Steak Presedent said...

Yeah Linda, that does sound fishy. Why on earth would they need the handbook? By the way, I think it's only legislators who are LDS that will get the handbook. It's only handbook 1 that regular members are not allowed to see. So maybe she was referring to the first one. Another thing is that I remember in the 2000s a stake president would receive two handbooks: one which contained guidelines that could not be changed and another that contained those that could be adapted for local circumstances. So there was a different idea about handbooks back in 1998.

R. Metz said...

"Teaching for doctrines the commandments of men", by Roberts Smith, is a very good book. Especially the chapter "No poor among them" is inspired writing. Thanks for putting it on the internet to be downloaded for free. Wonderful.

Folkhard said...

Roots of the Bible: An Ancient View for a New OutlookJan 15, 2014
by Friedrich Weinreb

This book reconciled me with my religion.It openes a view of the ancient interpretation of the meaning of the stories and notions of the bible. for example: the arc also means the word of god, and the flood ( water ) the flow of time. So, if you stay in the word of god, you will not drawn in the "world" as we name it as members.
Realy a great book. I understood the Book of Mormon better, becouse as Nephi said,"1 I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father;" beeing most probably the things Friedrich Weireb ist talking about.

R. Metz said...

Again I want to thank you for drawing our attention to "Teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" by Robert Smith. It is a very much needed and inspired warning for our time, and a courageous effort to wake us up to the real Gospel of Jesus Christ. Also the many quotes and footnotes I found important and interesting.I have read it intensely and I am sure to read it again soon. Especially the last chapter I found impressive, almost emotional. Also thanks for this fine web-blog. Goodbye.

R. Metz said...

One last comment; proof that the LDS Church has definitely departed from the Lord:
Brother Smith was excommunicated per the 10th of february last.
From his web-blog Upward Thought, where he is writing about the trial, I quote:
"One exchange that occurred that I thought was of note: I declared that I had not apostatized from Christ or from the gospel. A high councilor said, "none of us think that you have. You are here for apostasy against the church and its leaders." Possibly the most condemnatory thing that occurred last night was that a group of 15 church leaders agreed that one can be cut off, so they suppose, from God's blessings without having done anything to offend him".
Must we not conclude here now that this church is in deep trouble?