Monday, September 8, 2014

Crucible of Doubt

A kind and well-intentioned couple, Terry and Fiona Givens, both scholars and both active, believing members of the LDS Church, has written a book for me. It comes several years too late, but I'm still a little bit interested. Mormonism is so completely shattered, in my opinion, that when I hear a claim that I can once again fit all the pieces together again my morbid curiosity is piqued. Additionally I've heard enough positive things about the Givens that I felt it only polite to listen to their 3 hour and 15 minute sales pitch.

Unfortunately I couldn't buy the Givens' arguments and won't be buying the book, which was the result of a recent fireside tour, which was the result of reasonable success from a previous book they had written.

After having listened to the entire Mormon Stories interview my main questions are:

1. If prophets are just like the rest of us then why should we look to them for answers concerning God's will? (I love how they insist on ignoring John Dehlin's question about whether or not it's okay to criticize our upper management.)

2. How do we have any trust in the Gospel text as being valid Jesus material? If we're going to undermine the spoken and written words of imperfect prophets what are we to do with the teachings of Mr. Perfect? Do we take them with a grain of salt because they were written by a bunch of assholes and corrupted over time? Do we only accept the teachings and events described by at least two of the Gospel writers (you know, that whole "by the mouth of two or three witnesses" thing)?

3. In all Fiona's admonishing against hero worship she fails to mention even once our worship of a heroic character named Jesus. How is she so sure that we haven't overblown the case for Jesus the same way we have for our various prophets, especially in light of the fact that our basis for turning Jesus into a mighty hero worthy of our worship are the less than reliable words of prophets, who are pretty much just like us?

4. Why should anyone take the Givens' approach seriously when it directly contradicts our Mormon canon?

5. Terryl Givens bases his entire argument on some kind of bizarre dichotomy between "the heart" and "the intellect". How is anyone supposed to take that seriously? We are not divided up between this mysterious heart and a non-mysterious, logical brain. "The heart" works for Terry the same way the sky worked for early belief in God. It's the only place to hide (as long as you continue to ignore science).

So the book comes out soon. Maybe it has answers to all of these questions, but admittedly I have my doubts.

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