Seeking Truth

By: Hedgehog
February 14, 2013

Today’s post is by new perma and longtime commenter, Hedgehog.  On 10 January, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf addressed young single adults at the firstCES devotional of the year.  The title of his address is ‘What is truth?’.  This has also been addressed by David Taymon who was rather quick off the mark.

Truth, as a topic, is one of my favourites, and I usually enjoy the talks given by President Uchtdorf  (this was no exception), so I was surprised when I read online comments made by some that expressed their disappointment.

President Uchtdorf, presented what seemed to me to be a very carefully crafted talk, beginning with the impossibility of our ever seeing the whole picture on earth, using the well-known tale of the blind men examining an elephant to illustrate his point.  He posed three questions:

  • What is truth?
  • Is it really possible to know the truth?
  • How should we react to things which contradict truths we have learned previously?

He talks about the vast array of information to which we, in this day, have ready access, and the consequent importance of our being able to discern truth.  Like David, this talk seemed to me, to be very much a continuation of Uchtdorf’s view expressed in a meeting given at a worldwide training session in February 2012 (the difference being, that whilst that address was to current leaders, this address is to those he hopes will become the future leaders):

“Brothers and sisters, as good as our previous experience may be, if we stop asking questions, stop thinking, stop pondering, we can thwart the revelations of the Spirit. Remember, it was the questions young Joseph asked that opened the door for the restoration of all things. We can block the growth and knowledge our Heavenly Father intends for us. How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell us something we needed to know but couldn’t get past the massive iron gate of what we thought we already knew?”

He gives examples of things many believed they already knew in the past: the earth is flat; stars revolve around the earth; tomatoes are poisonous.

He warns of our tendency to be susceptible to stereotypes, giving as examples the stereotyped view the Nephites had of the Lamanites, and vice versa.  He warns of the tendency to confuse belief for truth, and said:

“When the opinions of the truth of others contradict our own, instead of considering the possibility that there could be information that might be helpful and augment or compliment what we know, we often jump to conclusions or make assumptions that the other person is misinformed, mentally challenged, or even knowingly trying to deceive”. (punctuation mine)

He describes the failure of the medical profession to accept the results of Ignaz Semmelweiss which demonstrated the importance of hand-washing. This failure resulted in unnecessary deaths for many, many more years.

It is at this point that President Uchtdorf begins to address absolute truth, and how we can can go about finding it.  He said:

“I believe that our Father in Heaven is pleased with his children when they use their talents and mental faculties to earnestly discover truth.”

He warns us about Satan’s strategies: truth is relative; all ‘truths’ are equally valid; that there is an absolute truth, but that is impossible to find; to sow seeds of doubt.

Then we reach the section that appears to have caused much of the upset:

“For example, he has caused many members of the church to stumble when they discover information about the church that seems to contradict what they had learned previously… remember in this age of information there are many who create doubt about anything and everything at any time and every place.  You will find those who still claim that they have evidence that the earth is flat, that the moon is a hologram (it looks like it a little bit, right?), and that certain movie stars are really aliens from another planet.  And it is always good to keep in mind that just because something is printed on paper, appears on the internet, is frequently repeated, or has a powerful group of followers, doesn’t make it true.  Sometimes untrue claims or information are presented in such a way that they appear quite credible.  However, when you are confronted with information which is in conflict with the revealed word of God, remember that the blind men in the parable of the elephant would never be able to accurately describe the full truth.  We simply don’t know all things.  We can’t see everything.  What may seem contradictory now may seem perfectly understandable as we search for and receive more trustworthy information.” (punctuation mine)

And I suppose it is easy to get into a blame game of whose fault it is that this information wasn’t taught in church, arguments about whether or not we have been intentionally deceived or misdirected, and to feel aggrieved that this wasn’t acknowledged. We do have access to more information, and are able to see the messiness of early church history that we perhaps hadn’t considered before. President Uchtdorf isn’t telling us not to look, or search.  He is asking that we simply bear in mind that we still do not have the full picture. I like the way Galdralag phrased it, when thinking on early church history:

“The sources, though plentiful, are all so incredibly biased – whether toward apologetics or toward nasty and vengeful indictments of early leaders – that recovering any sort of coherent narrative of early LDS history, let alone attempting an accurate one, is phenomenally difficult. And I say this with the added acknowledgement that “accuracy” in history is a very thorny idea indeed.”

President Uchtdorf points us to the source of truth:

“…there is one source of truth that is complete, correct and incorruptible.  That source is our infinitely wise and all knowing Heavenly Father.  He knows truth as it was, as it is, and as it yet will be.” (punctuation mine)

He tells us we can find this truth in the gospel of Jesus Christ who is “the way, the truth and the life”.  He also talks of the necessity of our knowing this truth for ourselves:

“The invitation to trust the Lord does not relieve us of responsibility to know for ourselves.  This is not an opportunity, it is an obligation… Latterday Saints are not asked to politely accept everything they hear.  We are encouraged to think, and discover truth for ourselves.  We are expected to ponder, search and evaluate, and thereby come to a personal knowledge of the truth.” (punctuation mine)

he quotes Brigham Young:

“I’m afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not enquire of themselves of God, whether they are led by him.  I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security.  Let every man and woman know by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates.” (punctuation mine)

President Uchtdorf says:

“We seek for truth wherever we may find it.”

and that:

“Yes, we do have the fullness of the everlasting gospel, but that does not mean that we know everything.  One principle of our restored gospel is our belief that God will yet reveal many great and important things.” (punctuation mine)

Of all the lessons I have ever had to teach, the one I most enjoyed was the lesson about truth in ToPotC John Taylor. Some of my favourite quotes from that lesson are as follows:

“If any person in the religious world, or the political world, or the scientific world, will present to me a principle that is true, I am prepared to receive it, no matter where it comes from.”
“A man in search of truth has no peculiar system to sustain, no peculiar dogma to defend or theory to uphold. He embraces all truth, and that truth, like the sun in the firmament, shines forth and spreads its effulgent rays over all creation. If men will divest themselves of bias and prejudice, and prayerfully and conscientiously search after truth, they will find it wherever they turn their attention.”
“If there is any truth in heaven, earth, or hell, I want to embrace it; I care not what shape it comes in to me, who brings it, or who believes in it; whether it is popular or unpopular, truth, eternal truth, I wish to float in and enjoy.”

President Uchtdorf speaks of searching for truth from wholesome sources, which may perhaps be rather more cautious than John Taylor appeared to be.  John Taylor was not faced with the internet age however.

In the closing part of his talk, President Uchtdorf talks about the role of the Holy Ghost in assisting us as we “navigate the often troubling waters of confusion and contradiction.” He asks us to be sincere in our search for truth, reminding us that “contention is completely inconsistent with the Spirit on whom we depend in our search for truth.”

I found much to celebrate in this address: that we need to be seeking truth “earnestly and unceasingly”; that we shouldn’t simply be accepting what our leaders tell us; the acknowledgement that we don’t yet have all truth; and finally the perhaps implicit acknowledgement, in the use of the examples of the flat earth and Ignaz Semmelweiss, that sometimes institutions are themselves slow to accept truth.

  • How would you answer President Uchtdorf’s three questions?
  • What are some of the things that help you in your search for truth?

Discuss.

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43 Responses to Seeking Truth

  1. LDS Anarchist on February 14, 2013 at 5:02 AM

    1. Anything that comes from the HG.
    2. Yes, through the HG.
    3. Take all things with a grain of salt, unless they come through the HG.

    The HG is the only thing that has helped me in my search for truth. Everything else has been an unhelpful hindrance.

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  2. hawkgrrrl on February 14, 2013 at 5:28 AM

    HG = Hawkgrrrl, right?

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  3. Howard on February 14, 2013 at 6:01 AM

    Defensive games are being used in this talk to play the plausible deniability card for the semi comatose LDS base with the apparent goal of putting them back to sleep with the comforting belief that all is well in Zion; For example, he (Satan) has caused many members of the church to stumble when they discover information about the church that seems to contradict what they had learned previously… Generally Satan has nothing to do with it. These sincere but concerned members are not stumbling onto some non-truth that they are confusing with the truth or substituting for the truth. Through the process of studying it out in their minds they are stumbling on to the fact that the church has ironically been deceptive and as a result they feel used, foolish and betrayed!

    I agree with LDS Anarchist the Spirit is the source of truth but I would caution that the Spirit is highly nuanced, he is far more knowledgeable and therefore far more nuanced than any of us. As a result we must work to increase our relationship and communication with the him in order to be able to parse our questions and parse his answers to more fully understand what his spiritual conformations actually mean. If the Spirit only speaks the truth a naive non-nuanced blanket black and white question like: Is the church true? cannot be categorically answered yes because it is both true and not true (flawed) at the same time! But many receive a spiritual conformation to this question. What does this hot or cold conformation actually mean? I believe it means something like continue in this direction, on this path or continue in this line of questioning. Many members are so awed by receiving an answer they never take it any farther and they never look back they just blindly follow. “Let’s go shopping!” Okay, if the prophet says go shopping, I’ll go, it must be good for me and what God wants.

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  4. mapman on February 14, 2013 at 7:43 AM

    This talk, as well as this one: http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/63231/Elder-Paul-V-Johnson-Embracing-change.html seem to indicate to me that the GAs are trying to get members to stop seeing change as always being bad.

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  5. Howard on February 14, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    That’s interesting mapman! Thanks for the comment and link.

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  6. Hedgehog on February 14, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    #1 LDS Anarchist
    President Uchtdorf put a lot of emphasis on being guided by the Holy Ghost I think.
    I like your answer to 3 particularly: healthy scepticism.

    In what way have you found other things to be a hindrance?

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  7. Hedgehog on February 14, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    Howard #2: “Defensive games are being used in this talk to play the plausible deniability card for the semi comatose LDS base with the apparent goal of putting them back to sleep with the comforting belief that all is well in Zion”
    I’m not sure how telling members we need to be putting in our own efforts, and not simply taking our leaders’ word for it serves in putting us back to sleep, unless you don’t believe he means what he is saying. We are of course invited to put that to the the test too, which would be doing as he asks in any case. This interpretation has me turning ever decreasing circles.

    “For example, he (Satan) has caused many members of the church to stumble when they discover information about the church that seems to contradict what they had learned previously… Generally Satan has nothing to do with it. These sincere but concerned members are not stumbling onto some non-truth that they are confusing with the truth or substituting for the truth. Through the process of studying it out in their minds they are stumbling on to the fact that the church has ironically been deceptive and as a result they feel used, foolish and betrayed!”
    I am conscious of their pain Howard. I think it should be acknowledged. President Uchtdorf isn’t doing that in this talk, it is not addressed to that group specifically It would be nice if they could be addressed. This address however, is to the CES students. I think he is trying to point out that though more information is available, we still do not have the whole picture. Even those living at the time aren’t going to have had the whole picture. It’s a fair comment I think. More information is not necessarily better information or more accurate information. It is simply a more textured but still imperfect image. I think he is accepting, even expecting that the students will be looking at that information. I think Satan comes into it, from an orthodox perspective, in having those who stumble across the information, believe that this gives them the full picture. That’s what I took from what he said anyway.

    I did get the sense that President Uchtdorf was treading very carefully with what he said. I didn’t see it as a defensive game.

    On your further remarks regarding spiritual confirmation, I think we often need to take more care in the way we phrase the questions we ask, put more thought in first. I certainly agree with you that it shouldn’t be a case of asking only one question. Which questions would you recommend for someone beginning on that path?

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  8. Hedgehog on February 14, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    Howard #3. (not 2) Sorry

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  9. jmb275 on February 14, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    Re Hedgehog #7

    I am conscious of their pain Howard. I think it should be acknowledged. President Uchtdorf isn’t doing that in this talk, it is not addressed to that group specifically It would be nice if they could be addressed. This address however, is to the CES students.

    I think this is a good point, but the easy follow on question is when does that group get addressed? Seems to me they almost never get addressed. And as near as I can tell that’s a good part of the problem. That task appears to be left to FAIR, FARMS, Teryl Givens, Richard Bushman, etc.

    Nevertheless, Uchtdorf is one of my faves and I really did appreciate this talk. He’s so good at making his point by couching it in real-life problems and dilemmas. It’s all very refreshing.

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  10. Howard on February 14, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Hedgehog,
    I’m an Uchtdorf fan, I love his talks and I think this is mostly a great talk! The church is a conservative (meaning exclusive) organization facing an increasing loss of members which is beginning to force them to become more inclusive and less opaque to slow that outflow. As W&T knows it isn’t easy to be inclusive without offending one side or the other. I think attempting to walk that fine line is what is going here because the brethren are currently marinating on John Dehlin’s study of why committed Mormons leave the church. If you are unfamiliar with this study’s conclusions or the fact that it has been presented to the brethren please watch this video:

    You wrote; I’m not sure how telling members we need to be putting in our own efforts, and not simply taking our leaders’ word for it serves in putting us back to sleep, unless… Well, yes this seems in congruent because you’re missing my point regarding this nearly subconscious subtlety; which is when believing members hear rumors about this outflow of people referring to them as stumbling due to Satan by the 1P excuses and releases those members from paying much more attention to the issue in a “move along…these aren’t the droids you’re looking for” affirmation kind of a way.

    You’re correct the talk isn’t being given to that group, he’s speaking CES students. But if he isn’t speaking about that group, which group IS he speaking about that were tricked by Satan?

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  11. Howard on February 14, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Which questions would you recommend for someone beginning on that path? For me and everyone I have heard from on the issue communication with the Spirit begins with hot or cold kind of confirmations. That is a feeling, thought etc. or nothing at all. This is to be differentiated from a binary yes or no which it is not. With practice and concentrated meditation it grows in ease of hearing and sophistication of communication. If one is at the beginning with hot or cold answers your cold questions can be further parsed by inverting them or asking them in the negative to invite a hot answer. Beyond that meditation concentrated on maintaining a connection with the Spirit’s signal for longer and longer periods of time will lead to more and more sophisticated conversations. And don’t psych yourself out with worthiness worries, the Spirit will converse with anyone who knows how to hear him and is willing listen.

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  12. Jared on February 14, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Question: “What are some of the things that help you in your search for truth?”

    Answer: the doctrine of Christ

    The prophet Joseph Smith taught that there are at least three levels of truth and rewards: Telestial, Terrestrial, and Celestial.

    Through the prophet the Lord gave humankind a handbook (Book of Mormon) to help us navigate our way to the celestial glory.

    However, few are interested. Even those who join His church in our day (LDS) don’t appear to grasp the doctrine of Christ to the extent that they should. This is evident by the anemic gifts of the Spirit on display each month in our fast and testimony meetings.

    I’m not being critical in the least. I’m calling it the way I see it. Of course, that is not a popular message and anyone who holds this view is marginalized; especially in the Bloggernacle.

    I prepared a ten question quiz on the doctrine of Christ. Nearly 400 people have taken the quiz. The average scored is about 50%.

    None are perfect, but one can be near perfect in seeking to come to Christ by repenting and seeking for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    The Lord rewards those who seek with real intent with a greater degree of the manifestations of the Spirit than those who lack interest.

    The doctrine of Christ is the most important doctrine revealed, and yet it is among the least blogged about.

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  13. Hedgehog on February 14, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    #4 Mapman
    That could be one reading. The religious and medical institutions of their respective days, did albeit slowly move towards change. The talk could be seen as an indication that that may be happening with the church institution too.

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  14. Hedgehog on February 14, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    #9 jmb275
    Yes. I think a great many institutions fail in the acknowledging problems and apologising department.

    Part of the problem of course, is that our leaders are not themselves historians, and at this point in time, more than likely unfamiliar with some of the new material themselves. Could it be in part, their lack of knowledge that creates the defensiveness?

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  15. Hedgehog on February 14, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    #10 Howard
    “which is when believing members hear rumors about this outflow of people referring to them as stumbling due to Satan by the 1P excuses and releases those members from paying much more attention to the issue in a “move along…these aren’t the droids you’re looking for” affirmation kind of a way.”

    So if I’m understanding you right this time around you think this is a subtle way of telling the CES students they don’t need to worry about those disaffected members because those members were deceived? Certainly that reading would pass me by, having only heard those rumours on the blogs, and not at all discussed at church amongst the general membership(but on the other hand I’ve never been ‘in the loop’ as they say so…). Personally I don’t feel that was his intent. More that it is a warning, that since it has happened to many members, it could happen to you too, and that this is why he is addressing the subject.

    “But if he isn’t speaking about that group, which group IS he speaking about that were tricked by Satan?”
    I guess I can see that that group could feel he was talking about them.

    Thank you for the link, I’ll take a look.

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  16. jmb275 on February 14, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    Re Hedgehog #14
    Well, to be clear I’ve no interest in the church apologizing or anything. I’m just making an observation that speaking to these people is being left to unofficial organizations and individuals. The leaders are trying to strengthen the core membership but it’s a double-edged sword since it’s the way they’re trying to strengthen that is in part driving people out (while also not addressing those at the fringes).

    I have a lot of respect for the Brethren, and I know they’re doing their best. So I’m not really complaining, but I think Howard has a good point. As Jonathan Haidt said it in The Righteous Mind

    The social psychologist Tom Gilovich studies the cognitive mechanisms of strange beliefs. His simple formulation is that when we want to believe something, we ask ourselves, “Can I believe it?” Then (as Kuhn and Perkins found), we search for supporting evidence, and if we find even a single piece of pseudo-evidence, we can stop thinking. We now have permission to believe. We have a justification, in case anyone asks.

    In contrast, when we don’t want to believe something, we ask ourselves, “Must I believe it?” Then we search for contrary evidence, and if we find a single reason to doubt the claim, we can dismiss it. You only need one key to unlock the handcuffs of must.

    For the “comotose LDS” (as Howard says), they need a shred of justification to stay comotose, and only a half-baked reason to dismiss those on the fringes. Uchtdorf does both of those things well in the talk.

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  17. Hedgehog on February 14, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    #11 Howard
    Maybe I’m being a bit dense here, but could you explain what you mean by hot and cold in this context. I have in mind the children’s game where you’re told, you’re getting colder or warmer. Are you referring to this, or an actual warm v. cold feeling (and indeed might this be where the game comes from…)?

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  18. Howard on February 14, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    Hedgehog,
    jmb275 offers more articulate illumination in 16. Thanks jmb275!

    …since it has happened to many members, it could happen to you too Yes that is implied as well and so is the dismissal of the group he is speaking of, they obviously got it wrong, were deceived. But I strongly doubt they see it that way so it is discounting to them.

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  19. Howard on February 14, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    #17 Hedgehog,
    Yes I used an example that refers to the children’s game to give people something to relate to. Confirmation is hot, no response at all is cold. Sometimes after gaining more experience some people report confirmation variations like mild confirmation (warm) and strong confirmation (hot) etc. So hot and cold communication can be used to guide you if you are tenacious.

    The warm and cold feeling can actually be experienced as well but usually for different reasons and purposes not offered as a means of communication. It often occurs with the eastern enlightenment manifestation of the Holy Ghost called kundalini awakening.

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  20. KT on February 14, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    •What is truth?
    •Is it really possible to know the truth?
    •How should we react to things which contradict truths we have learned previously?

    Depends on what kind of truth one is speaking of. There is absolute truth, but by it’s nature, it requires the agreement of all, like gravity.
    Some would argue that there is no absolute truth, but that all truth is situational – dependent on the moment, the situation and whose point of view somethig is being seen from.
    Of course anyone in Church leadership wants to continually point out that ‘we don’t have the whole truth here on earth’ line… And, I do agree to a certain extent. However, I think this line is over used in the Church as a get out of jail free card. We often have enough truth to make judgments. That’s why we have our minds and why we have been blessed (if you believe that) with the power of critical and analytical thinking.

    In my opinion, asking questions, like those 3 questions is just a ploy to make it seem as though truth could really be anything. As though truth isn’t concrete, but is really just shifting and changing and we can’t really pin down what ‘TRUTH’ is. And, if you’re coming from the Church’s perspective, that’s about how I’d be trying to spin it about now too.

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  21. ji on February 14, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    In my my mind, truth comes in two ways: (1) by the Holy Ghost, who testifies to truth; and (2) by those who are sent to teach truth. No one receives the Father unless he first receives the Son, and no one receives the Son unless he first receives those the Son has sent. Those who are sent by the Son are humans, our friends and neighbors, and they do the best they can and they sometimes make errors. They are not “THE CHURCH” but they are our stake presidents and home teachers and so forth. Receiving the Lord’s servants does not mean abandoning one’s judgment.

    What helps me in my search for truth? faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, and charity in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    The following two blurbs resonate with me as something that I have believed to be true since I joined the Church thirty-two years ago:

    What may seem contradictory now may seem perfectly understandable as we search for and receive more trustworthy information.

    The invitation to trust the Lord does not relieve us of responsibility to know for ourselves. This is not an opportunity, it is an obligation… Latter-day Saints are not asked to politely accept everything they hear. We are encouraged to think, and discover truth for ourselves. We are expected to ponder, search and evaluate, and thereby come to a personal knowledge of the truth.

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  22. hawkgrrrl on February 14, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    Pres. Uchtdorf is talking about intuitive truth; in the church we also call it discernment. I am also an intuitive thinker, so it resonates for me. Many people are not intuitive. They require a sequential thought process where they can see all the connections. However, both are prone to confirmation bias and prejudice.

    Haidt does a decent job unboxing that kind of thinking in the quote jmb275 gives above. Haidt also uses the metaphor of a rider and an elephant. We are the rider, and the elephant leans a certain way. If an elephant is in a herd going in a specific direction, it will probably go that way too. The rider thinks s/he is in control, but really the rider becomes the PR person explaining why the elephant went where it did (and why that was the right decision). We identify with the rider, but the elephant is really the source of our opinions and preferences and beliefs. We just explain it after the fact.

    When Uchtdorf uses hyperbolic examples like people believing the moon is a hologram or the earth is flat, then contrasts those with learning contradictory information about the church, he’s probably reaching. History is complex and contextual. We can’t truly know the motives of other people. There isn’t really a “truth” about people and most historical events. There are facts, or in the case of history, contradictory evidence. But we still have to make a judgment call. I think he’s just telling the CES folks to go slowly and question their own assumptions (the 5 blind men and the elephant), which is excellent advice.

    There’s far more good to this talk than bad.

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  23. Hedgehog on February 15, 2013 at 1:29 AM

    jmb275 #16, Howard #18
    I did see your comment last night jmb, just as I posted my #17 response to Howard, sorry for the delay in responding, it was getting late for me.
    jmb: “I’m just making an observation that speaking to these people is being left to unofficial organizations and individuals. The leaders are trying to strengthen the core membership but it’s a double-edged sword since it’s the way they’re trying to strengthen that is in part driving people out (while also not addressing those at the fringes).”
    Howard: “Yes that is implied as well and so is the dismissal of the group he is speaking of, they obviously got it wrong, were deceived. But I strongly doubt they see it that way so it is discounting to them.”

    Well, I suppose President Uchtdorf could have a left it at simply, there is a lot of information out there that could deceive. I do think the mentioning that many people have been deceived (from the orthodox viewpoint) does emphasize what he feels to be the severity of the issue he’s addressing, and thus the potential danger to those he is addressing. No doubt the group he describes as being deceived don’t feel they have been now (but had been by the church leaders previously). As I indicated previously, it is a shame that there is no official response addressing this group at the moment. It does create that imbalance. I do think they feel they are firefighting at the moment, and I guess a first stage is to try to stop the spread before attacking the blaze, to use that as a metaphor.

    jmb: “For the “comotose LDS” (as Howard says), they need a shred of justification to stay comotose, and only a half-baked reason to dismiss those on the fringes. Uchtdorf does both of those things well in the talk.”

    I still don’t think President Uchtdorf was intending to lull the comotose. From your remark, and from the Haidt quote you give, I would be more likely to say that the comotose, if wishing to stay that way, would grasp at anything he said and interpret that way, if that is all they were looking for. It would be difficult for any speaker to avoid that criticism, the way you seem to be framing it, short of delivering a fire and brimstone style sermon. I thought the talk was carefully structured, taking a logical progression through the not seeing the whole picture, things we thought we knew changing – including institutions being slow to respond to discoveries outside themselves causing damage but coming round to change, warning and pitfalls to avoid, and a very passionate presentation on our being required to put in some effort ourselves, and that we have the Holy Ghost to help us in that journey. From my perspective, the comotose would need to be determinedly so, to take the message you are suggesting is there. I don’t believe the CES Institute audience is comotose, at least not in my experience, though I don’t doubt there are those who are comotose in the general membership.

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  24. Hedgehog on February 15, 2013 at 1:40 AM

    Howard #19
    Thank you for that clarification. It makes sense to me that we’d get an indication that we’re headed in the right direction or not.

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  25. Hedgehog on February 15, 2013 at 1:59 AM

    Jared #12,
    Thank you for your contribution.
    Possibly one of the problems for many, may be that that which is believed to be doctrine appears to have shifted over time, within the church. There are things the early prophets taught that are seen as simply as speculative today. I am interested to know how you identify what are those doctrines of Christ. I haven’t seen your quiz, is there a link for that?
    For me the core doctrines would those very basic things we hear about: loving God; loving one another (charity); faith & works; repentance, the atonement & grace. I do think the Book of Mormon does a lot to explain those concepts.

    “The Lord rewards those who seek with real intent with a greater degree of the manifestations of the Spirit than those who lack interest.”

    Absolutely.

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  26. Hedgehog on February 15, 2013 at 3:18 AM

    KT #20
    President Uchtdorf did address the different kinds of truth in more detail than I gave in my post.

    “Of course anyone in Church leadership wants to continually point out that ‘we don’t have the whole truth here on earth’ line… And, I do agree to a certain extent. However, I think this line is over used in the Church as a get out of jail free card.”

    I’ve only heard it used recently, and mostly in the one context, so for me it doesn’t look like a get out of jail free card, or overused. I think previously, the message many have been getting is that we have the fullness of truth here (as opposed to those other religions, who have some truths but not all). We may have more truth, but I don’t believe we have all truth, not yet at any rate, so I find it refreshing that the emphasis has moved (however much it may have been forced by circumstance), and think it a pity that that particular message didn’t seem to be getting through or wasn’t emphasized earlier in a lot of cases.

    “We often have enough truth to make judgements. That’s why we have our minds and why we have been blessed (if you believe that) with the power of critical and analytical thinking.”

    We can make judgements based upon what we know. I do believe we are expected to use our critical faculties. President Uchtdorf states as much. The role of the Holy Ghost is also important. But in any event, I personally believe that those doing their best to search out truth, and conduct their lives according to the best conclusions they are able to reach will be judged more favourably, and will have learnt more from their earthly experience than those comatose persons others have mentioned, who simply want to be told what to do.

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  27. Hedgehog on February 15, 2013 at 3:45 AM

    ji #21
    “Those who are sent by the Son are humans, our friends and neighbors, and they do the best they can and they sometimes make errors. They are not “THE CHURCH” but they are our stake presidents and home teachers and so forth.”

    Yes. I believe it is a mistake to expect infallibility. I think we should peak more in terms of how we are all on this journey together, learning together. The heirarchical structure can sometimes obscure that for many of us. We need to remember that few of our leaders have had the ecclesiastical training, study of scripture and its origins and many other things that would be of help to them. I think many forget in the tossing around of phrases like ‘whom the Lord calls he qualifies’ doesn’t endow them with that training and knowledge accumulated over years of study in those fields, and they are left to those spiritual processes we ourselves should also be employing much of the time. I think the phrase ‘the church’ is a useful shorthand when discussing the institution as whole, but it is good to be reminded that the institution is made up of individuals.

    “Receiving the Lord’s servants does not mean abandoning one’s judgment.”

    Certainly. We all need to be able to discern: when they are speaking for the Lord, and when for themselves; and when we need to lend our support in spite of disagreement and when to stand up and voice our objections. And sometimes we will be required to lend our support even at times when they may not be ‘speaking for the Lord’, and at others to object but then support and so on, according to circumstance, I believe. Those who are in tune with the spirit will be able to walk that line. I have seen and appreciate this in both my father and my husband.

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  28. Howard on February 15, 2013 at 7:09 AM

    Hedgehog,
    …they are firefighting at the moment, and I guess a first stage is to try to stop the spread before attacking the blaze Yes, we are in complete agreement here but remain in disagreement here; I still don’t think President Uchtdorf was intending to lull… With the exception of occasional fundamentalist hell, fire and brimstone outburst the language of the brethren is very, very subtle causing the conference analyzers to hang on every word and nuance to track trends. As a group they cannot be unaware of the power of their indoctrination methods and their voice which keep millions donating $Billions to an organization who’s premises are openly refuted by science and logic and scoffed by many making this a very tricky and often fragile belief requiring much reinforcement to maintain in those who have little direct access to the Spirit, thus the policy of overwhelming members with church activities, make work and to do lists that fill up their lives in the face of; Be still and KNOW that I am God. If you watched the video, fear of this unraveling by the exodus stream becoming a river (which is where it currently appears to be headed) is why they are firefighting right now and they know if they say the wrong thing or even the right thing in the wrong way it could easily happen. The church has always damned and shunned those who leave as a way to circle the wagons and stop the spread. As I take in the brethren, President Uchtdorf is by far the most alert and awake and least sheeple of the group, situational awareness is a necessary survival skill for pilots.

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  29. Hedgehog on February 15, 2013 at 7:51 AM

    Howard #28:
    “With the exception of occasional fundamentalist hell, fire and brimstone outburst the language of the brethren is very, very subtle causing the conference analyzers to hang on every word and nuance to track trends. As a group they cannot be unaware of the power of their indoctrination methods”

    It all sounds a bit too conspiracy theory to me Howard. Really, really subtle but somehow immediately grasped by the comatose, and there just for them. I imagine they are aware they are being analysed, but I really do think it is possible both to over-analyse, and to find something that would back a particular interpretation, whether or not it was intended. Still, it is interesting to read other points of view.

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  30. Howard on February 15, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    #29 “Conspiracy theory” isn’t usually thought of or offered as a flattering term Hedgehog did you mean it as a discount?

    You wrote: …really subtle but somehow immediately grasped by the comatose This twists what I presented and makes it sound illogical, are you attempting to follow me? #3 received 8 likes so far, so apparently others are following the basic idea. I would say something more like; really subtle but semi consciously grasped by many of the semi comatose as Mormon speak code for; relax…nothing to see here..move along…just some misled apostates out processing…nothing to be concerned about…no threat to your belief, they were wrong, misled.

    So, I guess we’ll just agree to disagree then?

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  31. jmb275 on February 15, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    Re Hedgehog #23

    I still don’t think President Uchtdorf was intending to lull the comotose…

    Well, I think I’m doing a bad job of communicating here. I agree with Hawk (#22), there is more good than bad in this talk. I, along with you, applaud it, it’s a great step in a good direction. I’m really not trying to just pick on it or him. I’m just pointing out that it’s still not quite where *I* think it needs to be to address the problems. And who am I?…well…nobody.

    I really did enjoy your post!

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  32. ji on February 15, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    I’m nobody, too, but I see only good in the talk — a friend and neighbor is giving good teachings to help us on our journey — every word and sentence is completely honest. Comfort for some, caution for others. A great and timely sermon, from a good and honorable man.

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  33. Hedgehog on February 15, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    Howard #30, jmb275 #31,
    Sorry Howard, the conspiracy theory quip was not meant in any perjorative sense (it’s usually used good naturedly in Britain, perhaps not in the US?), and I was trying to follow you.

    Howard & jmb, perhaps the difficulties in communication come down to culture, differences in use of language, and differences at church between Britain and the US. I don’t see the comatose or semi-comatose as at all likely to even be listening to the broadcast. Perhaps we will have to agree to disagree Howard, on this one.

    Howard, I did watch the video. I had read that information elsewhere also previously, but it did serve to highlight why the depiction of the disaffected as being deceived by Satan could act as a red flag to that group, and why others would be upset on their behalf.

    jmb: “I agree with Hawk (#22), there is more good than bad in this talk. I, along with you, applaud it, it’s a great step in a good direction. I’m really not trying to just pick on it or him. I’m just pointing out that it’s still not quite where *I* think it needs to be to address the problems.”

    Personally, I think the balance was right for the intended audience. That’s not say I wouldn’t like more to be done in another forum or setting. But really, I think it likely they are still trying to get to grips with it themselves.

    “I really did enjoy your post!”

    Thank you. And I have enjoyed the discussion too, both of you. I’m sorry if it has left anything to be desired at my end.

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  34. Jared on February 15, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    #25 Hedgehog

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

    Here is the link to the quiz on the doctrine of Christ.

    I hope to hear from anyone who takes the quiz.

    http://www.ldsaliveinchrist.com/2012/01/ten-question-gospel-doctrine-quiz/

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  35. Howard on February 15, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    Hedgehog,
    Thanks for clearing that up. Peace!

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  36. Howard on February 15, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    By way of clarification my use of “semi-comatose” was not meant to be taken literally like say a medical diagnosis, it was inaccurate hyperbole used as shorthand to emphasize and exaggerate a point. Sheeple more accurately suggests what I am getting at but that is too course and pejorative as well. I’m really bringing up “awareness naivete” where some are content or don’t know they are operating at a fraction of the awakeness and awareness of others.

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  37. jmb275 on February 15, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    Re Hedgehog-
    Thanks for the reply. I think we agree more than disagree. I was about to write something like what Howard (#36) wrote. I think the use of “comotose” is meant to imply those who cry “all is well in Zion, we have all the truth, our story is bullet-proof, etc.” Such people would definitely be listening to the talk, but might be completely missing all the good stuff you write about in your OP. In fairness, perhaps you’ve never been to Utah County!

    Anyway, nothing left desiring on my end. Great discussion.

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  38. Howard on February 15, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    By the way, no conspiracy or evil design or specific intent would be required to arrive at this subtle formula for managing and maintaining fragile belief productively inside the fold, 180 years of trial and error would have found the sweet spot nicely. What recently changed and is now threatening the balance is the just a mouse click away easy access to the church’s skeletons which used to be safely hidden away in dusty archives.

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  39. Roger on February 15, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    Jared. Even though on the outside looking in for almost 40 years I scored a 70 % convergence with your answer key. I could blame my incongruence with your answer key to excessive exposure to the Bloggernacle. I don’t know whether to consider myself comatose or deceived.

    All jocularity aside, I appreciate you pointing out this presentation by Prez U, Hedgehog. I would have missed it otherwise and even my stone cold soul resonated with his comments.

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  40. Hedgehog on February 16, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    Howard #36 & 38, jmb275 #37
    I haven’t ever been to Utah, so I guess that could be one reason for the disconnect. I think maintaining active membership in a minority (and foreign) religion leads to a very different outlook in the membership than is perhaps the norm in Utah.

    I am quite literal sometimes Howard, but I did work out comotose didn’t refer to a medical condition in this context :-). Still, I think we probably did have different characteristics in mind for that group.

    jmb, yes more agreement than disagreement.

    Thanks again.

    Roger #39
    Thank you.

    Jared #34
    I took the quiz. Only 60% (sigh). Not sure if this was due to semantic difficulties or doctrinal disagreement.

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  41. Jared on February 16, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Hedgehog-

    I prepared the test without providing documentation for the answers. I wanted to see how many were interested enough to challenge or ask me to explain how I arrived at the answers. Out of nearly 400 individual who took the test only 5 people contacted me.

    I am preparing a detailed answer to each question on the quiz and will put it on my blog soon.

    If you’re interested give me your email and I will send you a link.

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  42. Geoff - A on February 17, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    I like Uchtdorf. I like talks that discuss a principle like this does.

    In Australia we had a stake conference broadcast from SLC on Sunday. The prophet spoke and his whole talk was a series of stories, about lost batalions of soldiers etc. His message was, I think, rescuing, but no discussion of why or how or anything inspiring.

    Give me Uchtdorf discussion truth any day.

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  43. […] hawkgrrrl, commenting on Hedgehog’s post “Seeking Truth” at W&T: […]

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