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« A. Cephalous, Anonymous No More! | Main | Ultra-Freudian Pre-Freudian Thought: Bosoms & The Aesthetic Faculty »

Friday, 03 June 2005


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Two comments, briefly. As much as I'd love to provide some of the book-length commenting you've generated over Valve-wise, between my own coursework, curriculum development, and writing, I'm swamped. I shouldn't even be writing this. Enough.

1. You post the same article both here and then at the Valve (that's what I get for being one of three people subscribed to your feed at bloglines), and then link to yourself here. Ignoring that it's pretty gauche to link to yourself, wouldn't you agree that this is an excellent demonstration of Freud's death drive? Aceph embraces thanatos!

2. Right after getting a pat on the back from a real, live historian, you go about praising a hack, pseudo-historian. If you're looking for anti-Mormon history, at least go with someone with real chops, like D. Michael Quinn. Whatever *your* particular reasons are for the book, I (as a critical and active Mormon) hope it doesn't go beyond analyzing his rhetoric. History-wise, you can find much, much better work out there, both apologetics and anti-.

A. Cephalous


I have a completely non-egocentric reason for reposting some of what I write at the Valve over here (as well as linking to it): for many of the people I hope to communicate with (including the Little Womedievalist to whom I'm married), I'm the only blog they in order to keep them up to date with what I'm thinking/writing/etc., I do the double- or triple-posting and -linking. I swear I'm only being redundant to save friendships and marriages!

As for your evaluation of Palmer, I'm interested to hear more about your opinion of him. As I mention--and that wasn't sarcasm in the least--the majority of my friends in graduate school have been Mormons, and I have an immense and intense respect for them as people and scholars; that's one of the reasons I've become interested in the religion. One of them actually recommended the Palmer as an "as close to objective as is humanly possible" treatment of Mormon history and scripture, so if you disagree, I'd love to hear why you think that. One of the things that fascinates me about Mormonism (and again, this is based on the Mormons I know) is its apparent intellectualy flexibility. Another way to say this is that I'm an atheist working on a dissertation on Darwin, and yet I've found that the Mormons I've befriended are some of the most intellectually responsible and honest people I've ever known, and because of a random confluence of life experience and intellectual interest, I'm now determined to figure out why that is. I hope that doesn't sound like an insult, because I certainly don't mean it as one...

John Phelan

This is an old post, so I'll just say two things:

1. Palmer was "disfellowshiped" - NOT "excommunicated." In essence, he's "on probation" - but he's still a member.

2. Palmer's book is interesting, well researched and fascinating. It also suffers from a huge dichotomy - all the problems he has with Mormon history and the Book of Mormon also apply to the Bible and Christian history in greater or lesser degrees.

3. Also, he gives no real good reason as to why he is staying LDS. His ultimate decision about the Book of Mormon makes it about as important as the Left Behind books. The book seems unsatisfactory because of that reason alone. The only reason he seems to have to stay Mormon is genetics. But - whatever makes him happy, I guess.

John Phelan

Hah! And then I posted three comments after saying I would only say two points. Math was never my strong point.

Scott Eric Kaufman


No worries about the math. If I concerned myself too much with it, I'd cringe every time I followed, "first of all" with "number B." As for your criticism of Palmer, I think the reason I find him interesting is precisely because his criticism not only came from someone within LDS, but from someone who believed in its moral values. His correction of the historical record doesn't invalidate his beliefs, or even weaken them; in this respect, he reminds me of fin de siècle utopian thinkers who valued the societies they could create (and had created) over the circumstances of their creation. There's an honesty and integrity to that I respect. He wants to distance himself (and the tradition he reveres) from the failings of its creators...while at the same time say that despite those originary failings, the tradition is not only worth preserving but is, in fact, superior to the alternatives. All of which is only to say that I hope you didn't think those factual and terminological errors ("excommunicated" instead of "disfellowshiped") made you think I attacked the LDS or Palmer's work.

That said, as you note, the criticism you say applies generally to the Bible and Christian history does apply in equal measure to the LDS; and since, if you tool around the site and see that I'm writing a dissertation on evolution, you can probably guess my opinion on both the former and the latter. Still, I think there's a place for faith in the world (What kind of evolutionist would I be if I didn't read William James?), and since that's the case, I prefer the intellectual honesty of Palmer above the dogmatism of those who would condemn him.

Those are my 19,492 points, and I'm sticking to them.

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