Thursday, March 09, 2006

Insider's View of Mormon Origins is a Stupid Book

Why mince words? Grant H. Palmer's book An Insider's View of Mormon Origins killed a tree. And the tree contained more wisdom.

A few examples of the wit and wisdom of Insider's View:
  • "[D]iscussions at church rarely rise above the seminary level." No kidding? Look around! We have meetings chock fulla newbies who barely know how to pull up their own socks. So engage in discussions outside of church, like the rest of us do. That's why God invented friends.
  • "Our discussions are usually an inch deep...We seem to have a lingering desire for simple religion." Speak for yourself, bucko. Ever been to a place called The Internet, where we like our discussion a mile deep and an inch wide? How 'bout a bookstore? The Scriptures? The Temple? Prayer? Those of us who need intellectual stimulation somehow manage to find it without resorting to evil-speaking our fellow Saints.
  • "We never learn in church that..." (..followed by a list of minor controversies that have nothing whatsoever to do with salvation or Jesus Christ.) So? We also never learn in church that red clashes with orange, or that long-haired cats get nasty hairballs. Church meetings have a function. We grownups get that, and use the other 165 hours each week contemplating, praying over, studying, discussing and writing about minutae such as limited BOM geography, the multiplicity of First Vision accounts, and sterilization methods for mountain streamwater.
  • "I have two purposes in writing. One is to introduce church members who have not followed the developments in church history during the last thirty years..." Yeah, THAT'S who's going to pick up your book!
  • "Second, I would like church members to understand historians and religion teachers like myself. When we talk, we tend to avoid superlatives..." blah-blah-blah. In other words, "I'm a pompous twit who is intellectually superior to you gullible fools."
Then comes 260+ pages of nattering on, in the most obtuse way, about things well understood, long understood, by every Saint with an IQ over 89. Nothing new. Nothing that hasn't been asked -- and answered -- a hundred times by a hundred different intelligent scholars. Nothing more than a yawn-inducing rant about how some of the pictures we show in Junior Sunday School contain historical inaccuracies. My oh my!

Yeah, so?

Then comes the topper. After doing everything possible to destroy the faith of new and prospective Latter-day Saints (without even touching on the vastly more numerous faith-killers that must needs be swallowed by mainstream Christianity), Brother Palmer has the audicity to write:
  • "I cherish Joseph Smith's teaching on many topics...[But] the issue of his credibility in differentiating between history and allegory [makes me want to write books telling the Saints they're stupider than me.]" Please.
If Brother Palmer had been a faithful Saint, his book would have covered the same material, and suggested ways of reconciling apparent discrepencies.

It's clear, though, that his primary motivation was to create a generation of Mormons who stop embarrassing him with their faith.

Dude. You've already left the church spiritually and intellectually. Cut the strings! You certainly don't wanna be surrounded by folks whom you consider your intellectual inferiors. So buh-bye already!

-- The Practical Mormon

Addendum (20 Mar 2006): Just ran across this excellent review by Louis Midgley, which makes many of the same points with much more finesse.

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