Last week I did an interview on various topics on the youtube channel Mormon Book Reviews (MBR).
Steve Pynakker, the host, is a remarkable interviewer who is well-informed on the issues, eager to understand what people think and why they think it, and happy to let people explain themselves in the spirit of creating unity from diversity.
He is building bridges of understanding and empathy among:
(i) various Restoration groups/movements
(ii) traditional Christians and Restoration groups
(iii) LDS with different opinions/perspectives
(iv) believers and critics.
He's demonstrating that we don't all need to think and believe alike to understand and empathize with one another. Instead, we can enjoy the diversity while we find common ground and unity of purpose as we aspire for and work toward a better world.
MBR is a refreshing, much-needed venue that everyone should be familiar with.
It is a stark contrast to the LDS apologists who consider themselves "Interpreters" for the rest of us.*
During this interview, we discussed these topics, among others:
- How M2Cers use charges of nationalism to deflect from their repudiation of the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah
- The utility of a Cumorah-centric analysis of Book of Mormon setting (culture, geography, etc.)
- The 1990 Watson letter about Cumorah
- The role of assumptions in filtering evidence
- How critics are making a living by blaming the Church for human problems that are found throughout the world and throughout history
- The FAITH model of belief (mechanics of confirmation bias)
- The ultimate goal of establishing Zion
In a wide-ranging interview, we can't cover all the topics in depth. For those interested, I've written/spoken about these topics in depth elsewhere, and will continue to do so.
As I've said repeatedly, I'm fine with people believing whatever they want. Ideally, people make informed decisions so they are not threatened by what others think. But that requires a little effort and some mind expansion, as well as empathy, mutual respect, and understanding.
Some of the comments on youtube reflect the basic psychology that people feel threatened by alternative perspectives. MBR is all about dialog, not debate. No one is trying to convince or convert anyone else.
Many people are unwilling (or unable) to see things from different perspectives, but for those who are, MBR is awesome.
* Many LDS and Christian apologists have produced some tremendously effective arguments and evidence (even when they don't all concur). For example, I think Jonathan Edwards was amazing. C.S. Lewis, awesome. Neal Maxwell, great.
In recent decades, though, certain LDS apologists (the Interpreters) have labored under a siege mentality as they have sought to defend the faith with narrow, twisty logic, manipulated "correspondences," and arrogant delusions of superiority. That mentality has led them to attack not only critics of the Church, but faithful alternatives to their own theories such as M2C and SITH.
MBR is what FAIRLDS, the Interpreter Foundation, and Book of Mormon Central would be if they were legitimate academic endeavors, or legitimate defenders of the faith, or even just followed the Church's policies of neutrality on these issues.
Instead, these organizations are facades for the M2C citation cartel that seeks to convince the Latter-day Saints that the prophets, starting with Joseph and Oliver, were wrong about fundamental truth claims.
And I'm fine with them presenting their ideas.
I actually agree with much of what they teach on several topics, but whether or not I agree doesn't matter. The First Amendment freedom of speech should apply to everyone in the world. We need more speech, not less speech. Cancel culture is intellectual cowardice, both in society at large and within the Restoration.
I think the LDS intellectuals who spend millions of dollars promoting their own views while excluding alternative faithful views are doing a disservice not only to the Latter-day Saints but to everyone in the world who might be interested in learning more about the Restoration.