Ask no man

No More Contention is the pursuit of clarity, charity and understanding. Contention arises from the compulsion to have others agree with us. Seeking understanding in an environment of clarity and charity produces no more contention. As Joseph Smith said, "I will ask no man to believe as I do."

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Three broad categories

In a sense, contention is inevitable and unavoidable because every individual is unique, and no two people agree on everything.  Ideally, we...

Friday, May 5, 2023

Futility of contention - the Italian front

Two days ago we visited Kobarid, Slovenia, which has an outstanding war museum focusing on the 1917 Battle of Caporetto. Ernest Hemingway wrote about this in his novel A Farewell to Arms

Manuscript pages from A Farewell to Arms

The Italian Front in World War I, sometimes called the "war in the mountains," pitted the Italians on the south and the Austro-Hungarians on the north. They fought for nearly 3 1/2 years over high mountain terrain in the Alps. The Italians had around 650,000 casualties, much of them a result of the bitter cold and supply chain problems. It was a horrific war that devastated families and communities on both sides.

Soldier's journal - only good news allowed

We drove through the mountain passes in Slovenia where the two armies held positions as they fired mortars at each other. Eventually the two sides signed an Armistice.

The whole episode reminded me of the intellectual battles over Church history and doctrine between the Interpreters and the critics. 

Ten years after the CES Letter was originally published, the Interpreters and the critics are no closer to understanding one another. Their battles continue to rage without an end in sight.

It's also strange how they agree on certain aspects of Church history as given facts. For example, Both the CES Letter and the Interpreters agree that Joseph Smith didn't really translate the plates. They agree that instead, Joseph read words off a stone in the hat (SITH), just as the 1834 book Mormonism Unvailed claimed. Dan Peterson's movie Witnesses could have been produced by E.D. Howe or Jeremy Runnels just as easily as by the Interpreter Foundation, yet they continue to fight from their trenches.

The Interpreters and the critics differ mainly over how much of what Joseph and Oliver taught they reject.

Because I disagree with the SITH premise, I have critics from both the Interpreters and the critics. Which is fine with me. In the all, some, none framework, I find the "all" approach to be the most rational and fact-based.

At any rate, I hope to see an end to the futile "Italian Front" of the SITH war. Through the process of clarity and understanding, everyone can explain how they fit in the All, Some, None framework and move on to more productive endeavors, hopefully working together to accomplish some good instead of insisting that others must agree with them.

For clarity and understanding purposes, I've revised my three classifications.

Believe what Joseph and Oliver claimed




Believe what Joseph and Oliver claimed about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon

Believe some, but not all, of what Joseph and Oliver claimed about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon

Disbelieve what Joseph and Oliver claimed about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon


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