The Bloggernacle as Public Sphere – pt. 1

July 22, 2014    By: Jeff G @ 2:57 pm   Category: Bloggernacle,Mormon Culture/Practices,orthodox,Truth

I worry that the bloggernacle is a crucial cog within a cultural machine that takes prophetic religions and transforms them into secular and therefore apostate institutions.  I worry that the same mechanisms by which modern intellectuals overthrew feudal society are also attempting to secularize the church today.  (I have a strong suspicion that a very similar process characterized the transition from apostles and prophets to theologians and state authorities in the early church.)  I will follow Jurgen Habermas in calling this mechanism, “the public sphere.”  Let me first give a very brief description of the role that the public sphere played in the overthrow of feudal society before I articulate the rather obvious parallels which I see in the bloggernacle.  (All references are from The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Jurgen Habermas)

The public sphere can roughly be characterized as any forum in which 1) participation is open to all, 2) all participant are considered equal, and 3) any issue can be raised for rational debate.  A public sphere emerges and operates within and in opposition to some context in which some institutionalized authority has, or is perceived to have control over the media as it relates to itself.  Critically, this institutionalized authority does not use the “press and broadcast media” to provide “public information and debate,” but rather uses it “as technologies for managing consensus and promoting [its own] culture” – that culture which serves and forwards its own interests rather than those of the general public. (p. xii)  Whereas the public sphere in the contemporary world is (ideally) meant to check and undermine both state as well as capitalist attempts at using the media in such ways, its rise in the 17th and 18th centuries was primarily an expression of capitalist attempts at checking and undermining such uses of the media by the absolutist state within feudal society:

“In its clash with the arcane and bureaucratic practices of the absolutist state, the emergent bourgeoisie gradually replaced a public sphere in which the ruler’s power was merely represented before the people with a sphere in which state authority was publicly monitored through informed and critical discourse by the people.” (p. xi)

Habermas sees the public sphere as the critical mechanism whereby democratic sovereignty came to replace monarchical sovereignty in the west.  He also suggests that the compromise of the public sphere by contemporary capitalist influences is exactly what undermines the prospects for democratic societies today.  In both cases, it is the creation and demise of uncensored, critical reason within the public sphere that is responsible for the respective creation and demise of democratic society:

“While the historical structures of the liberal public sphere reflected the particular constellation of interests that gave rise to it, the idea it claimed to embody – that of rationalizing public authority under the institutionalized influence of informed discussion and reasoned argument – remains central to democratic theory.” (p. xii)

Habermas gives the following account of struggle in which the early capitalists used reasoned publications within the public sphere to wrest authority away from, monitor and to some extent delegitimize state authority while the state authority tried to contain and censor such attacks – for attacks are exactly what these publications were:

“In the guise of the so-called learned article, critical reasoning made its way into the daily press.  When, from 1729 on, the Hallenser Intelligenzblatt… published learned articles, book reviews, and occasionally ‘a historical report sketched by a professor and relevant to current events,’ the Prussian King was moved to take the development into his own hands.  Even the use of one’s own reason as such was subjected to regulation… In general ‘the scholars were to inform the public of useful truths.’  In this instance the bourgeois writers still made use of their reason at the behest of the territorial ruler; [but] soon they were to think their own thoughts, directed against the authorities.  In a rescript of Fredrick II from 1784 one reads: ‘A private person has no right to pass public and perhaps even disapproving judgment on the actions, procedures, laws, regulations, and ordinances of sovereigns and courts ,their officials, assemblies, and courts of law, or to promulgate or publish in print pertinent reports that he manages to obtain.  For a private person is not at all capable of making such judgment, because he lacks complete knowledge of circumstances and motives.’… The inhibited judgments were called ‘public’ in view of a public sphere that without question had counted as a sphere of public [stately] authority, but was now casting itself loose as a forum in which the private people, come together to form a public, readied themselves to compel public [stately] authority to legitimate itself before public opinion.” (p. 25)

In this account we see criticism of the institutional authorities being published under the guise of academic research.  There is a subtle transition in which the publishing and reasoning that are encouraged by the institutional authorities gradually become publishing and reasoning against these same authorities.  The institutional authorities responded in turn with a degree of censorship, by encouraging scholars to focus on more “useful truths” and insisting that the non-institutional public is in no position to pass negative judgment on its policies and dealings.  The triumph of democracy was thus marked the demise of stately authority as the “people’s public use of their reason … claimed the public sphere regulated from above against the public authorities themselves.” (p. 27)

I hope this sounds at least somewhat familiar, since the “people’s use of reason” against our church authorities has played out in almost the exact same manner, down to the verbiage.  Early Mormon studies were originally pursued at the behest of the church authorities, the latter insisting that we seek all forms of learning from the best books.  These learned articles soon brought to light information which fueled, if not functioned as a criticism of the contemporary church and its authorities.  The church then pushes back by censoring and disciplining various scholars and disallowing easy access to revelant information while insisting that “some things that are true are not very useful.”  Soon after this, many of these scholars and intellectuals flee the public light to the privacy of various online and private mailing groups.  These mailing groups eventually become the direct precursors to the public blogs that would later form the heart of the bloggernacle.  This online forum soon becomes the very epitome of the public sphere – a forum in which all people have equal access and legitimacy to problematize any aspect of Mormonism such that gospel discussion comes to be no longer regulated from above by priesthood authority but is instead brought against the priesthood authorities themselves.  This forum then becomes the primary recruiting pool for various social movements which unambiguously and directly call for church authorities to answer to the public use of reason.  When the heads of such movements are brought before various church courts, the general and public membership is again reminded that they are in no position to pass judgment on the proceedings of these courts.  The parallels in the conflicts between the bourgeoisie and the feudal state and the conflicts between the bloggernacle and the priesthood authorities couldn’t be more striking.

Up until this point, many readers will construe my account as itself being an indictment of the church and its authorities, but such a thing is the exact opposite of what I intend.  There are two points which serve to put my account in its intended perspective:

1)      The public’s use of reason is the very heart of democratic society and as such is used to check and undermine all authority: stately, corporate and ecclesiastical.

2)      The church is not and was never meant to be a democracy whose heart is the public’s use of reason.

These two points highlight the contradictions which exist between the church and the democratic world around it.  It seems clear to me that we as faithful members of the church within a larger democratic society are under an obligation to bring the public use of reason against all forms of authority except the authority of God that functions within the church.  Accordingly, faithful bloggers are meant to bring their publishing and reasoning under priesthood authority rather than against it.  It will be remembered that institutionalized authority is used to manage consensus and promote its own culture, a culture which serves and furthers its own interests.

The question, then, becomes this: Do we have a testimony of the authorities, culture and interests of the church?   If so, then we too should object to the ways in which the public’s use of reason is brought against the church and its authorities within the bloggernacle and will likely sustain the institution’s efforts to protect itself against such attacks.  If not, then we too should object to the institution’s attacks upon the public sphere of which the bloggernacle is a part and will instead support the ways in which the public use of reason is brought against the church and its authorities.  The contradictions between the church and the democratic world around it present a zero-sum battle in which support for one side constitutes an attack to the other.

Thus, I see the bloggernacle as a critical battle ground in the war of the church against the democratic world.  It is the place where the seamless and unconscious transition is made in which public reason ceases to be a representation of church authority and becomes instead a constraint upon church authority.  In the exact same way that democratic values and practices functioned to undermine and replace feudal institutions and authorities, those same democratic values and practices function to undermine and replace the church and its priesthood authorities and the interests that they represent.  No doubt, there are those within the bloggernacle who disagree with my diagnosis, but the onus is upon them to demonstrate how the relationship between the bloggernacle and the church is significantly different from that which existed between the bourgeoisie and the feudal state.

35 Comments »

  1. J. Reuben Clark:

    If we have the truth, [it] cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.

    Comment by Howard — July 22, 2014 @ 3:46 pm

  2. Again, you are going to have to do more than drop a one-liner quote without any attempt at providing any kind of context before your point of view is taken seriously.

    The idea that any human institution shouldn’t feel threatened or attacked by any form of reasoning, by any person with any agenda whatsoever is naive at best. The fact that I can’t find any source for that quote outside of an intellectual’s publication is also highly suspect.

    Comment by Jeff G — July 22, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

  3. According to Howard, then, Jacob was unrighteous for not facilitating Sherem’s reasoning, Alma was unrighteous for not facilitating Korihor and Nehor’s reasoning, and let’s not get started about the gnostics and platonists (the fact that they helped bring about an apostasy through reasoning must be memory-holed at all costs).

    We have the truth, and the trust will not be harmed by investigation. But the testimony of those who are struggling to know the truth can be harmed by wolves in sheep’s clothing pretending to worship the Creator while instead worshiping reason and the creation.

    Comment by Jonathan Cavender — July 22, 2014 @ 4:42 pm

  4. So, you not only want to fight the last war, you want to fight for the losing side?

    Comment by Martin James — July 22, 2014 @ 5:15 pm

  5. The church was never going to win the war against the world until Jesus conquers it Himself. In other words, the fact that the world is winning this is no excuse for us to be on its side.

    Comment by Jeff G — July 22, 2014 @ 5:30 pm

  6. George Albert Smith

    If a faith will not bear to be investigated: if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.

    Journal Of Discourses, v 14, page 216)

    Comment by Howard — July 22, 2014 @ 6:23 pm

  7. But we used to champion the public sphere to get missionaries access to more areas of the world.

    We used to think secret societies were the problem.

    I don’t think the values issue is driven by human reason in a way that the public sphere accentuates.

    It’s a distraction and nuisance not the values is driver.

    It’s the message not the medium.

    Comment by Martin James — July 22, 2014 @ 6:25 pm

  8. Howard,

    You are doing exactly what the post describes. You are taking scattered statements delivered underneath priesthood authority before the rise of the public sphere within Mormonism and turning them against priesthood authority. Since the rise of Mormon studies and other such manifestations of the public sphere the tendency among the brethren has not been one of unequivocal endorsement of such things.

    Again I ask, how is that different from what the bourgeoisie did to feudal authorities?

    Comment by Jeff G — July 22, 2014 @ 7:41 pm

  9. If we have the truth, [it] cannot be harmed by investigation except within the public sphere because we cannot control the discussion there!

    Comment by Howard — July 22, 2014 @ 7:50 pm

  10. Since I am the only person on the bloggernacle who knows what you are talking about, it is a good thing that I am not allow to comment here. Of course, you let Howard comment because he is a moron who makes you look clever. Well played, Geoff and Jeff.

    Comment by Chris Henrichsen — July 22, 2014 @ 9:15 pm

  11. Also, I am surprised that somebody who claims to have read Habermas (I do not believe you) would label the world as democratic. We clearly live in different worlds…which might not be a bad thing.

    Comment by Chris Henrichsen — July 22, 2014 @ 9:21 pm

  12. Public reason, in a Rawlsian sense (and mine), does not apply to the Church. Neither do the demands of social justice.

    Comment by Chris Henrichsen — July 22, 2014 @ 9:23 pm

  13. While y’all scramble to erase my comments…one more thing.

    “The contradictions between the church and the democratic world around it present a zero-sum battle in which support for one side constitutes an attack to the other.”

    Many people view it this way, but it is not the case. simplistic dichotomous thinking is a post about Habermas. Go. Figure.

    Comment by Chris Henrichsen — July 22, 2014 @ 9:25 pm

  14. Jeff, after reading your latest missive, I was led to think of it as a Mormon Fahrenheit 451. You are Captain Beatty telling the Montags of the World about the danger of books (the bloggernacle). It is as if you see two realities: the Blacks and Stonemans who simply do as they are told and the Grangers who read and write on the web. In terms of religion, your heart seems to belong to the former.

    As someone who grew up during the age of McCarthy, I always find Bradbury.s book a chilling reminder of the danger of anti-intellectualism. I may be over reaching in this case, but the fear still remains.

    No matter what, Do not get near a flame thrower.

    Comment by Stan Beale — July 23, 2014 @ 1:15 am

  15. How anti-intellectual Jeff’s position is depends on how anti-intellectual the authorities are.

    Thinking Jeff is a book burning power freak means that one has a very dim view of the authorities.

    I think the opposite is the case. I think the authorities themselves have told is to be wary of authoritarian impulses.

    He can’t put the weight of authority behind his position unless he is an authority so we don’t really have a reason to believe him based on his own hierarchy of reliance.

    Comment by Martin James — July 23, 2014 @ 9:29 am

  16. OK, I’ll make an attempt at a response. Jeff, your argument fails on multiple levels, to wit:

    1. It is a highly speculative argument which only holds together when it doesn’t have to deal with facts as they are. For instance, this: “The church then pushes back by censoring and disciplining various scholars and disallowing easy access to revelant information while insisting that “some things that are true are not very useful.” EXCEPT, that is not a fair summary of what has happened since 1993. The church has been more open than ever. Everybody — believer, non-believer, member, non-member, except, apparently, you — agrees on this. The CHL now functions (mostly) as a professional research library, the archives are open and getting more so, and the JSPP project has produced a veritable avalanche of documents and critical analysis. This is all at the church’s instigation. If this is what you call censorship, the word has no meaning at all.

    2. You seem to think that secular democracy is some kind of language that is God’s kryptonite. But D&C 1 tells us that God speaks to us “after the manner of our language AND UNDERSTANDING.” So what if this is the language people speak today? Do you really think that God is not powerful enough to make himself heard in this medium? He was able to get through to people who believed that cutting the beating heart out of a live virgin was necessary to appease the Corn God and assure a bountiful harvest, so to suggest that God can’t figure out how to communicate with people in this idiom today is to make God very small indeed, and borders on blasphemy.

    You have created an imaginary world which contains two entities named “the church” and “the bloggernacle”. But the church is not the bogeyman of the bloggernacle, and the bloggernacle is not the bogeyman for the church, except to you. These different ways of approaching questions exist among the highest councils of our church. There are apostles who speak fluent secularism and those who don’t. Big deal.

    To sum it up, I don’t think your project can stand up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. it comes apart at the first encounter with facts on the ground, and it needs to undergo some major revision to be taken seriously.

    Comment by Mark Brown — July 23, 2014 @ 1:57 pm

  17. Chris (#10),

    Not sure what you are talking about — your comments are not being moderated. (You have a good point about Howard, though. Maybe I should drop him in the troll jail.)

    Comment by Geoff J — July 23, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

  18. “No matter what, Do not get near a flame thrower.”

    This is a rhetorical question: When Joseph claimed to have seen in vision what would happen if he did not destroy the Expositor press, do you think he really did? When Nephi claimed that God told him to kill Laban, do you think He really did? I don’t want to turn this into a discussion on the destruction of the press or Nephi/Laban, but I want to make the point that time and time again in both the scriptures and church history that God has a knack of asking people to break their own personal “No matter whats” in favour of His own.

    This is potentially the most inflammatory comment I ever make because of it’s implications, but this point seems to me to hang over all the discussions about Jeff’s chain of posts on this topic.

    Comment by Fraggle — July 23, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

  19. A flamethrower comment is inflammatory? Not to mention incendiary. More heat than light in these combustible comments.

    Comment by Dave — July 23, 2014 @ 4:19 pm

  20. Fraggle, you asked a couple of questions. Are both rhetorical? Since a rhetorical question is a question to which no answer is expected, how is anyone to see your comment as inflammatory? How do you see them as inflammatory comment?

    Those are not rhetorical questions.

    Comment by wreddyornot — July 23, 2014 @ 5:07 pm

  21. Geoff,

    They have been on other posts for the last couple weeks. Glad to hear that is not the case.

    Carry on. I am off to YM’s. My bishop knows I am a bloggernacle blogger. I cannot wait until he finds out that this means I am an agent of Satan. It would totally free up my Wednesday nights.

    Comment by Chris Henrichsen — July 23, 2014 @ 5:53 pm

  22. Sorry for being MIA yesterday.

    Martin,

    All organizations champion the public sphere inasmuch as it does not work against them. This is exactly what happened with the bourgeoisie who championed the public sphere as a way of subverting feudal authority until they found themselves in power – and as such the public target of criticism – at which point they began to manipulate and compromise the public sphere. I have little doubt that the Lord cares more about the health of His Kingdom than He does about the health of the public sphere.

    Chris,

    I have never moderated any of your comments – although I have pulled quite a few out of moderation. I actually assumed that Geoff had put them there, but now I think you probably just posted too many comments within too short of time.

    Comment by Jeff G — July 24, 2014 @ 10:31 am

  23. Chris again,

    Like I told you, I’m starting on a Habermas bend of sorts, so your feedback is definitely appreciated. I would agree that Habermas does not call this world democratic – and I would also agree. The claim that I am committed to, however, is that much of the criticism of the church (especially that from within) is morally motivated by democratic values and ideals – values and ideals that Habermas articulates quite clearly.

    Since I’m just starting out with his least philosophical book, I must confess that his views of public reason and social justice escape me at this point. Care to enlighten me?

    In this post I was simply discussing a sociological phenomenon in which public forums of reason first emerge in service and subordinate to institutional authority but then gradually come to turn on that that institutional authority. Would you agree that this is what Habermas sees happening during the Enlightenment? If so, would you agree that this is not a totally inaccurate depiction of what tends to happen within the bloggernacle?

    For the record, I don’t feel like your posts have fallen in the latter category, for the most part. Your posts, if memory serves, do not directly address the institutional church or its authority figures.

    Comment by Jeff G — July 24, 2014 @ 10:40 am

  24. Stan,

    I completely agree that government enforced, compulsory anti-intellectualism is extremely dangerous. But anti-intellectualism within a voluntary organization that continual asks its members to pray about it can hardly be lumped in the same category.

    Comment by Jeff G — July 24, 2014 @ 10:47 am

  25. Mark,

    I appreciate you taking the time to address the argument rather than simply mock it or guilt it by association to other positions.

    1) First, if the church is so much more open, then why the increasing cries against censorship? Either the church is pushing back against public reason or it isn’t, but either way it’s not too fatal to my main point. (BTW, I was referring more to the church restricting access to documents before 1993.)

    2) I have no clue what your objection is here. I never said that democracy was a language which God was incapable of speaking. All I’m saying is that there are certain tensions and contradictions between democratic and Mormon values. I also say elsewhere that how a person understands and prioritizes any given value will depend upon which world view you are looking at it from.

    Comment by Jeff G — July 24, 2014 @ 10:56 am

  26. Fraggle,

    Joseph’s destruction of the press is a perfect example of the tension at play here. Thank you for bringing that up! I think Alma striking Korihor mute is another fantastic example. Even Alma’s reason for doing so sounds familiar:

    But behold, it is better that thy soul should be lost than that thou shouldst be the means of bringing many souls down to destruction, by thy lying and by thy flattering words; therefore if thou shalt deny again, behold God shall smite thee, that thou shalt become dumb, that thou shalt never open thy mouth any more, that thou shalt not deceive this people any more.

    Comment by Jeff G — July 24, 2014 @ 10:59 am

  27. Jeff,

    I guess I would need for you to be more specific. Which blogs or posts are you talking about? In sociology, even in social theory, there are appeals to data or concrete examples.

    “The claim that I am committed to, however, is that much of the criticism of the church (especially that from within) is morally motivated by democratic values and ideals – values and ideals that Habermas articulates quite clearly.”

    Again, give me examples. I am not saying “Prove it!” It is just not clear what you are referring to. I think you can see evidence of this in arguments made by Kate Kelly. But you are largely speaking of the bloggernacle as a generality. This is leading to confusion on my part.

    I think the bloggernacle is a bit too small to constitute a public sphere. But, again, that depends on how we define it. If we included sites like LDS Living (which I read) and Meridian (which…yeah, no) we could say that there is a Mormon online public sphere. But is mostly dominated by conservative voices and those conservatives voice get much larger traffic than any liberal one. Additionally, look at venues like Mormon Stories or even Times and Seasons. They are either on the verge of death or they are much weaker versions of their former selves.

    Comment by Chris Henrichsen — July 24, 2014 @ 1:42 pm

  28. Well my primary aim isn’t to proof any kind of sociological hypothesis. Rather, I’m simply floating the idea that blogging that serves to represent and promote the church and its authority to blogging that checks and undermines the church and its authority are not at all that different. This transition is exactly what public spheres such as the bloggernacle are built to facilitate.

    My evidence would consist in that list of bloggers such as myself who entered the bloggernacle in order to find solidarity with other faithful members who had an interest in various intellectual issues but then gradually fell into a pattern in which the intellectual issues which were originally tackled within a faithful context were then turned against the faithfulness of that context.

    Thus, my own story is the evidence that I find most compelling. Is see several others following similar paths over at FMH, Mormon Mentality and other bloggers who suddenly feel that they don’t belong at church due to the issues which have been tossed around in the ‘nacle.

    I’m not condemning the bloggernacle in general, although I am sharing a concerned warning with the bloggernacle in general. The ideas that I want to explore in this series (however long it is) is that the rules that govern public spheres such as the bloggernacle serve to rationalize and thus corrupt and even turn against the gospel.

    Comment by Jeff G — July 25, 2014 @ 1:34 pm

  29. My earlier comment about the flamethrower was a bad attempt at humor. I thought most people would have read Fahrenheit 451. I seem to be wrong. In the book,The “hero” Montag used a flame thrower to incinerate the “villain, Captain Beatty”

    Comment by Stan Beale — July 25, 2014 @ 9:45 pm

  30. “Well my primary aim isn’t to proof any kind of sociological hypothesis. Rather, I’m simply floating the idea that blogging that serves to represent and promote the church and its authority to blogging that checks and undermines the church and its authority are not at all that different. This transition is exactly what public spheres such as the bloggernacle are built to facilitate.

    My evidence would consist in that list of bloggers such as myself who entered the bloggernacle in order to find solidarity with other faithful members who had an interest in various intellectual issues but then gradually fell into a pattern in which the intellectual issues which were originally tackled within a faithful context were then turned against the faithfulness of that context.”

    Yeah…then there will be no real communication. I still have no idea as to what the hell you are talking about. So I will bow out.

    “I’m not condemning the bloggernacle in general…”

    Okay. I am obviously misreading your posts, because you claim that in the comments, but your posts appear to be saying the exact opposite. I am clearly not your audience…much in the way that Kate Kelly’s appeal letter to her Stake President is clearly aimed for another audience than here SP. Your posts drawing upon Habermas are not aimed at those interested in chatting about Habermas.

    I enjoy discussing postmodern theory, but I do not enjoy postmodern games and that is what you seem to be up to. You are the perfect counter-weight to OW in that manner.

    Good luck to you Jeff.

    Comment by Chris Henrichsen — July 25, 2014 @ 9:55 pm

  31. Even though you are not my target of criticism you and the rest of the bloggernacle very much are my target audience. I truly am interested in your perspective in the original public sphere and the function it served in modern society. I am even more interested in whether you see the bloggernacle as serving a similar function within Mormon society today.

    Comment by Jeff G — July 26, 2014 @ 1:47 pm

  32. Jeff G.,

    I agree with your main point that the bloggernacle essentially functions like Habermas’ public sphere. I also must say (to the naysayers) that I don’t think that Jeff G. is necessarily criticizing the bloggernacle on the whole, just the people who claim to be faithfuls but use the bloggernacle to critique the LDS church’s authoritative claims.

    I will say that there is a bit of a difference between the bourgeoisie/feudal state relationship and bloggernacle/LDS church relationship, which is that the bourgeoisie could not easily extricate themselves out from under the feudal state’s influence (to do so would have required moving long distances and great physical and financial risk). However, members of the bloggernacle who grow impatient with LDS church authority can opt out of the church with relative ease, albeit with some social penalty likely imposed on them (especially if their social network and family is deeply rooted in the LDS church).

    One last point (which is probably a topic for a different discussion) is that you emphasize a reason/authority distinction. I think that the reason/authority distinction applies in the context of state authority, in which leaders establish their authority by threat of detainment at best and physical harm at worst. However, religious authority in the US has mostly been established by reasoning, has it not? Joseph Smith essentially made a reasoned argument that he was called of God and that evidence of this was his gift to translate the Book of Mormon and that people could know truth by praying and asking God.

    Comment by Steve Smith — July 27, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

  33. Wow! An actual response that actually engages the post! Thank you Steve.

    1) You’re pretty close about my intentions. I don’t want to condemn the entire ‘nacle by a long shot and I do want to condemn those who criticize the church within it. Mostly, however, I want to warn the entire ‘nacle that there is a lot of gray area between those two camps and that it is very easy to unintentionally and perhaps unconsciously slide from one camp into the other. (I speak from personal experience on that one.)

    2) That is a very important difference which I have not fully thought through. I personally see the voluntary nature of the church (guided as always by personal revelation) rather than (human) reason within the public sphere as being the Lord’s ordained mechanism for constraining priesthood authority in this mortal life. In other words, the difference you point out makes criticism of the church within the ‘nacle look all the worse. How about you, what do you think are the consequences of this difference that you point out?

    3) I would agree that all other forms of christian religion have been established or transformed by the human reason… and this is exactly why they are false. JS-H, to me, is a narrative which is meant to undermine rather than embody (let alone reinforce) human reason. Scribes and preachers arguing over doctrine and the like is the exact wrong way to practice religion – that’s my reading of JS’s story anyways.

    Comment by Jeff G — July 28, 2014 @ 2:11 pm

  34. In response to 2, I would say that since the LDS church is voluntary (which means it is not allied with state power and the state could not enforce any hypothetical force exerted by LDS church leaders to force members to do what they say), the LDS church has to essentially compete on the marketplace of ideas and work within market forces. If there are members who want to remain attached to it but disagree with some of the LDS leaders’ propositions about truth and doctrine, there is not too much it can do. If local leaders deem someone’s action to be damaging to other members’ attachments to the church, then there is disciplinary council. But even then, an exed member can come back to church, and are even invited to do so.

    As for number 3, I think that a lot of other religious people feel the same about their religions as you do about the LDS church. They also feel the same way about other religions as you do. Mormons are merely participants in arguing over doctrine with other Christians, are they not? Mormons, both members and leaders, also argue over the very doctrine of the Mormon church.

    Comment by Steve Smith — July 28, 2014 @ 8:42 pm

  35. There are a great many Mormons and other Christians…I’d say most…who don’t argue over doctrine. Rather, they spend most of their energy and time in trying to learn it, minister to others, and develop charity.

    Which is why the Bloggernacle is such a minority, and its needs (while examined) are not central to the conduct of the Church.

    Comment by SilverRain — July 29, 2014 @ 8:38 am

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