Brother Jake Summarizes the Book of Mormon

By: Bro. Jake
August 20, 2013

brother jake

So, I decided to summarize the Book of Mormon.

Let me start out with a disclaimer: the purpose of this video was not to present a balanced overview of the Book of Mormon as a whole.  Rather, I wanted to demonstrate that many of the Book of Mormon “greatest hits” we often recite have pretty disturbing subtexts, and we should be more mindful of that.

Sure, the story of Nephi emphasizes the importance of obedience and faith. But what about the “it’s ok to kill people when God tells you to” message it also carries?  Or the “using violence against the enemies of the savages to impress them is a great missionary tool” kinda feeling in the story of Ammon? Or the “making sure sinners go to hell is more important to God than saving the lives of the innocent” vibe in the adventures of Alma and Amulek?

Honestly, I like the Book of Mormon. I do. I think it has a great story arc (birth and death of a nation, etc.), some fascinating characters (I mean, Amalikiah? Dissenter who becomes king of the archenemy? That’s straight up Shakespearian!), and is pretty theologically rich (2nd Nephi 2’s interpretation of the Adam and Eve narrative seems particularly forward-thinking).

But I wonder—are the Book of Mormon stories we commonly repeat to children and new converts and investigators really promoting the values we think they are? And if not, how should we approach them differently?

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61 Responses to Brother Jake Summarizes the Book of Mormon

  1. rickm on August 20, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    Oh..my..goodness. That was seriously, over-the-top awesome.

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  2. hawkgrrrl on August 20, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    It keeps buffering somewhere around 2nd Nephi.

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  3. Mike S on August 20, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    This. Is. Awesome.

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  4. LDS Anarchist on August 20, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    This. Is. A hit piece.

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  5. Hugo on August 20, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Bravo! I posted it on my FB wall.

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  6. daniel parkinson on August 20, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    Once again a brilliant success! Can you please send me an autographed copy and I will save it forever!

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  7. Anon on August 20, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    I kept waiting for it to get funny but it never did.

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  8. Brian on August 20, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    This video rings true to me on the Book of Mormon. Holland’s talk, on the other hand, just makes me mad.

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  9. LDS Anarchist on August 20, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    This post set off major red flags about Brother Jake. Looking over other posts of his on Wheat & Tares, it is apparent to me he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. His purpose seems to be to destroy faith while claiming he is just having a little fun. I’m not sure if W&T considers itself a faith-promoting blog or a faith destroying blog, but I’ve always assumed this blog was not anti-Mormon. The fact that Brother Jake is allowed to post this trash here makes me wonder if my initial assessment of the motives of this blog might have been wrong, or perhaps the blog’s purposes have changed since its inception. On my own blog admin pages, the Wheat & Tares blog is listed as owned by Andrew S, who I assume is one who started this blog as the chief admin. Perhaps Andrew S is perfectly okay with faith destroying material promoted on his blog–given his status with the church, that may be expected–but for the believing LDS, which includes me, this stuff would immediately be labelled as “anti,” despite the feigned innocence. I recommend that Brother Jake be dismissed from the W&T roster, along with his posts, and affirmation given that this blog doesn’t have as its object the destruction and ridicule of faith. I no longer have the confidence I once had that this blog is “faith-friendly.” Such actions would restore my confidence in W&T and keep me reading and commenting here.

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  10. hawkgrrrl on August 20, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    LDSA, our object is not faith destroying. Why do you conclude Bro Jake is out to destroy faith? I thought his recap was actually fairly straightforward. Some of his other posts have been more critical. What did you object to specifically about this one?

    Also, we are a group blog and most of us share equal admin rights.

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  11. kd on August 20, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    I’m curious as to what Bro Jake would have us change in how we address the book of mormon, vis a vis the less than family friendly stories which he addresses. For example, the alma, amulek, martyr story addresses a serious theological problem about the existence of evil in the world. In reality, alma and amulek wouldn’t even have to be present to save the people, because God would save them if He wanted to. Then again, God could save every innocent person ever assaulted, raped, murdered, etc in all of time and He doesn’t. How could a benevolent God manage to stay uninvolved (or even cause it…second coming anyone?) when all this death and tragedy is occurring is something that I would say Mormonism uniquely addresses, both by its own experience and through doctrine. I would even go so far that it is what spawned the restoration in the first place. I think somehow changing narratives would cheapen this profound point that is perhaps the toughest thing to understand regarding a belief in a omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent God.

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  12. The Brother of Jared on August 20, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    hawkgrrrl, I think the issues is at 5:56 when Bro Jake says that Moroni puts in “the part where if we prayed to ask if the BoM was true and believed hard enough while we were asking, God would make us feel like it was”. That strikes me as a pretty good slam on the stupidity of the whole faith in the Book of Mormon thing.

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  13. Bro. Jake on August 20, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    kd,
    I think you bring up a really interesting point, and I’m not sure if I have an answer for you. On one hand, I completely agree–the martyrs being burned feeds into the concept of reconciling the pain and suffering we see in everyday life without discarding the idea of a benevolent, loving God, and it is an idea that Mormon theology addresses in a way I find pretty compelling.

    So, I don’t necessarily think that simply censoring the more morally ambiguous parts of the Book of Mormon is the right course of action. I mean, we live in a world full of morally ambiguous choices that we have to make every day. But maybe the next time I tell my niece or nephew about Nephi and Laban, I don’t say “See how Nephi was so obedient that he beheaded a man when God told him to? That’s how you should be!” and opt for something more along the lines of “Sometimes we have make hard choices, but we should trust in ourselves and in God so we can make the right one.” I dunno. Maybe that goes over the kid’s head–I’m kind of spitballing here. But I think we can be more mindful of the broader implications of the stories in the Book of Mormon.

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  14. hawkgrrrl on August 20, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    Actually, one of the most compelling things about the BOM is that it does tee up some very morally ambiguous stories. The fact that some have reduced these to black & white morality tales is problematic. Shouldn’t we be discussing the paradoxes inherent in stories like Nephi & Laban or the martyrs in the auto-da-fe. The other thing I find interesting in the BOM is the unreliable narrator. Several of the stories strain credulity (the arms being cut off, Shiz raising up on his arms, etc.). That doesn’t mean it’s not historical, but I have often reflected that it’s a case for the book’s authenticity. Journal-writers and historians alike have a hard time avoiding embellishment; as we say, “history is written by the victors.”

    Brother of Jared – “when Bro Jake says that Moroni puts in “the part where if we prayed to ask if the BoM was true and believed hard enough while we were asking, God would make us feel like it was”. That strikes me as a pretty good slam on the stupidity of the whole faith in the Book of Mormon thing.” I can’t say whether I’m right or wrong on this. Only Bro. Jake can speak for his own OPs. The way I take it, he’s portraying the “gospel according to everymormon,” and in this, yes, there is an element of satire or pointing out that the way some members explain things is not very good logic or sounds pretty silly to outsiders. That’s a cultural observation on a certain type of member, one that is not very thoughtful, one that may not have had much exposure to the world outside the Mormon bubble, perhaps a member with a touch of the Tobias Funke disorder. I don’t personally interpret this as a slam on the gospel itself, religion in general, or the church in specific, just on the bad logic some members use which reflects poorly on all of us.

    I would characterize Bro. Jake as a sheep in wolf clothing, not the other way around. His bark is not that bad, and he has no intention of biting. He simply likes to poke fun at the cultural Mormonism he sees regularly. Again, that’s my interpretation, but up to him to state his own intentions.

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  15. seadit on August 21, 2013 at 12:03 AM

    Let’s see, the prophets say we should read the Book of Mormon, and brother Jake says maybe we shouldn’t because, what, it’s too offensive, too strong? Yeah, pretty sure the prophets of God know more than brother Jake. Maybe brother Jake needs to reassess who he’s listening to? Oh yeah, and get a spine.

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  16. hawkgrrrl on August 21, 2013 at 12:53 AM

    Where did he say not to read the Book of Mormon?

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  17. LDS Anarchist on August 21, 2013 at 2:41 AM

    hawkgrrrl, can you not see that Jake’s work is religious satire aimed at Mormonism? Based on his level of understanding of LDS beliefs, he either is a former, lifelong LDS member who has left the church or been ex-d, or is currently a LDS who has departed from his former beliefs but has opted to not publicly come out against the church using his real name, preferring to make these presentations ridiculing LDS beliefs under a false name. Perhaps he is even one of the New Order Mormons. Either way, his object is to hold up Mormonism for ridicule and scorn, to expose and discredit it, all under the guise of having a little lighthearted fun.

    But there is nothing lighthearted or funny about it. It’s devious in that some LDS people, such as yourself, cannot see through his facade, thinking that “he simply likes to poke fun at cultural Mormonism,” but that is not Jake’s target. His target is Mormonism, not the Mormon culture. His deception apparently has worked on some people, but it’s not all that clever and subtle, since he uses the same pattern over and over again, namely: say that Mormonism is not X, and then show that it really is. So, you get a video stating that the Mormon gospel is simple, and then he throws in every bit of doctrine he can to make it seem as convoluted as possible. Or a video saying that Mormonism is not sexist, and then showing that it is. Or that Mormonism is not racist, and then showing that it is. Etc.

    A believer does not use satire on his own religious beliefs. Satire is used to mock things in which you do not believe. Jake, though, must put everyone at ease, as this is a Mormon blog, and so he says,

    Sure, the story of Nephi emphasizes the importance of obedience and faith. But what about the “it’s ok to kill people when God tells you to” message it also carries?

    and he says,

    Honestly, I like the Book of Mormon. I do. I think it has a great story arc (birth and death of a nation, etc.), some fascinating characters (I mean, Amalikiah? Dissenter who becomes king of the archenemy? That’s straight up Shakespearian!), and is pretty theologically rich (2nd Nephi 2’s interpretation of the Adam and Eve narrative seems particularly forward-thinking).

    But I wonder—are the Book of Mormon stories we commonly repeat to children and new converts and investigators really promoting the values we think they are?

    There is a saying that applies to what he wrote above: “But” means everything said before it was a lie. Everything Jake wrote before “but” was designed to put people at ease, so that they can more readily accept the doubts that Jake wants implanted in people’s hearts. It’s like saying, “Hey, listen to me, ’cause I like the Book of Mormon.” Jake likes it as a piece of 19th century literature, a (non-inspired) fictional story, but he doesn’t believe it is truly the word of God. He says the story of Nephi emphasizes the importance of obedience and faith, but he believes it does so erroneously, meaning in the wrong way. And so on and so forth.

    Is there no discernment on this blog, that you multiple admins let this stuff pass?

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  18. Bro. Jake on August 21, 2013 at 6:22 AM

    LDS Anarchist,
    This fixation with having me labelled “anti” is exactly the type of Mormon cultural attitude I think is so damaging. It’s this idea that the world is binary, and if we can just figure out which of two categories someone fits into, that can tell us everything we need to know about what they’re saying. I get the appeal–it’s nice and simple, and it lets you dismiss anything someone who fits in the “bad” category says without having to actually listen to what they’re saying. Which is why I think it’s so telling that you’ve only been willing to address the content of what I say in the context of convincing people that I’m a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    Personally, I do think it is possible for someone to be critical of something without having only the mindset to destroy it. Take your own blog, for example (which I picked through this morning and LOVED, by the way). There are many instances in which you are critical of member’s interpretation of certain church guidelines and even suggest things that would be in direct conflict of statements given in manuals/general conference.

    I’m not trying to say that what you say is wrong–far from it. I’m just pointing out that one can be critical without being an archenemy. My approach is a little different than yours, granted, but I think that satire is a powerful tool for fostering self-awareness. I believe the things we hold most dear are those most worthy of our criticism, since they shape our entire worldview.

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  19. Jeff Spector on August 21, 2013 at 6:52 AM

    I am certainly a strong proponent of satire and I can take it even if I consider it rather harsh, as I do this piece. But you could do exactly the same thing with Abraham Lincoln, MLK, JFK, Reagan or Gandhi and make an equally biting satire that would have some people question the way that some worship those guys.

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  20. hawkgrrrl on August 21, 2013 at 6:59 AM

    LDS Anarchist: “Jake likes it as a piece of 19th century literature, a (non-inspired) fictional story, but he doesn’t believe it is truly the word of God. He says the story of Nephi emphasizes the importance of obedience and faith, but he believes it does so erroneously, meaning in the wrong way. And so on and so forth.” In this example, I have a different take on it. You can see it as ancient in origin yet misinterpreted by many members as I do. You can see it as a complex, even Shakespearean narrative, but one that has been cherry picked for simplistic messages when the reality of it is more complex and nuanced than that. The fact that so many members are willing to hold to the simplistic interpretations indicates to me that they don’t really read it or try to understand it. In my view, this criticism is about those interpretations that are reductive to the point of being nonsensical.

    As to the claim that Mormonism is not sexist or racist, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this point. There are racist themes in the Book of Mormon as it is presented. While there is another non-racist interpretation available (urban folk are whiter than rural folk, therefore people have lighter or darker skin according to their profession and economic choices), the priesthood ban was based on race with racist statements made to uphold it. Obviously, that was racist (based on race), so for members to claim it wasn’t racist is simply indefensible. There are many sexist views in the church, although they are “benevolent” in their sexism (women are incredible, so long as they stay in their designated motherhood sphere doing this specific list of things; we have a heavenly mother, but we never never never talk about her or remember she exists). Is God sexist? I don’t believe so, any more than I believe they (heavenly parents) are racist. But sexist attitudes originating in the minds of men pervade. So for members to try to “prove” we’re not sexist, that’s going to end in convoluted logic. Yet many members do just that, often taking to the internet to claim it. They look naive in the process.

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  21. Will on August 21, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    I found this satire being somewhere on the scale between trifling with sacred things and outright blasphemy.

    The Book of Mormon has influenced millions for good throughout the world. I happen to find it to be the most correct book on earth and agree you will get nearer to God by reading and abiding by it’s concepts than by any other book.

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  22. anon on August 21, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    I think Will that the point was to show that the concepts that we find in the Book of Mormon aren’t always as straightforward, clear, or easily understood as one would like. The satire is meant to bring this into the forefront of discussion. Thus while I too have been a better person by following its concepts, the concepts I have found in it seem to differ [at times greatly so] from many right-wing gun-toting (to pick one example) readers of the exact same book.

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  23. willkw1966@live.com on August 21, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Right-wing gun (S)-toting

    that would be me

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  24. kd on August 21, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Jake, thank you for the response. I agree that we need to examine more closely the implications of the Book of Mormon, because it is indeed far more complicated than we sometimes first consider. However, my next question is how binding do you think those implications should be on our own thought processes? For example, there are very strong narratives in the Book of Mormon which if taken as a whole seem to refute the entire idea of a consumer-capitalist society and instead advocates a communitarian type society. Yet there are many libertarian mormons in spite of this. They might be attempted to couch Book of Mormon stories in much the same way one would be careful in explaining Nephi killing Laban. The question is should they, or rather anyone, reemphasize the stories to promote the type of values which they think are the most important? In doing so is it possible for the integrity of the moral system of the Book of Mormon to actually be preserved,or does it become a footnote to the person’s preconceived ideas of right and wrong?

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  25. Thomas Parkin on August 21, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    I like the message that we don’t examine closely what is in the scriptures. We tame them, and learn very little. As if they were nothing more than a ‘wholesome family time’ thing. Part of the safe ground on which we are meant to huddle together, of a kind with The Waltons and My Friend Flicka. But the scriptures are not safe. An even passively close reading will reveal that.

    That said, I don’t think that this video is effective in demonstrating that there is more to the BoM than meets the eye. Rather than give an encouragement to look closer and question more, it gives the impression that the book and be easily summed up by the same handful of stories that we commonly tell, only inverted so that they become silly rather than merely typical. I chuckled a couple of times.

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  26. Hedgehog on August 21, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Yikes! Well LDSA as appears to be my lot currently, I certainly got your #4 backwards. I thought you really liked it, and that your #9 was similarly satirical. Apparently I got that wrong!

    On the subject of taking a closer reading of the BoM, as a family we are currently sttudying the Korihor section, rather slowly day by day. We’ve covered the legal situation at the time. discussed whether the people of Ammon may have had their own laws that allowed them to take action against his preaching, and wondered why he wasn’t released once he was out of their jurisdiction. There is definite narrator bias in the description of the people of Ammon as being ‘wiser’ in taking the action they did.

    Otherwise, on the effectiveness of the video in delivering the message, I’m with Thomas #25.

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  27. LDS Anarchist on August 21, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    Lol, Hedgehog. A hit piece is “an attempt to turn public opinion against someone/something through the appearance of objective reporting or editorializing.” Even though Jake claims in the OP that “Let me start out with a disclaimer: the purpose of this video was not to present a balanced overview of the Book of Mormon as a whole”, it’s still a hit piece.

    If you look at his videos on Youtube (which contain no such disclaimers), and read the comments, you’ll see that those who understand the videos as satire, who are against Mormonism, rejoice over the videos. They understand that the videos are meant to keep (non-Mormon) people away from Mormonism, by showing how ridiculous and fabulous it is, or to put doubts in the minds of Mormons.

    For those against Mormonism, who do not understand that the videos are satire, they get upset at them at how the videos can make the preposterous defenses that they are making, until some other poster explains to them that it’s satire. Then they understand that it’s a hit piece.

    For Mormons who do not understand that the videos are satire, they think they are great because of the production values and talent which went into making them, and do not see them as any threat because they contain many correct views of Mormonism. Such Mormons are used to having “anti” material consist of baseless lies, distortions of the actual truth, etc., and so when they see these videos, their minds cannot process that the intent of the videos is to make a mockery of the religion in the eyes of the public. Instead, they are hoodwinked into thinking that Jake is simply raising awareness of certain issues in a lighthearted manner.

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  28. LDS Anarchist on August 21, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    #18, Jake,

    I agree “that one can be critical without being an archenemy” and I’m glad to hear that you like my own blog, but you and I both know that your claim of simply using satire to foster awareness of something you “hold most dear” is bull$#i+. You say that your approach is different than mine, and it is, in that my writings promote the faith, while your videos mock it. That is the difference between being “critical without being an archenemy” and being an enemy critic. I call bull$#i+ when I see it, while still calling everyone into the religion. You just mock it with satire, lending support to its enemies. Although the content may be the same in both, the context of the one is as a friendly supporter, while the context of the other is as enemy opposition.

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  29. Andrew S on August 21, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    LDS Anarchist,

    I sent you an email; did you receive it? Please let me know.

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  30. LDS Anarchist on August 21, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    Yes, Andrew (#29), I got your email. Please see #’s 17, 27 and 28 for more info on “where I’m coming from” in my assessment of Jake.

    Although you say that “Bro. Jake is certainly not on the ex-, disaffected, post-, or anti- part of the spectrum at all“, he is, nevertheless, an unbeliever presenting himself as a believer. His intention is to use this deceit both to influence non-Mormon unbelievers against Mormonism and to plant doubts in the hearts of believing Mormons. You can intellectualize his methods all you want, but at the end of the day, the effect of his work is the same: stopping the birth of faith in non-Mormons and causing Mormons to doubt. In other words, faith destruction. That Jacob put so much time and effort into these videos shows that this isn’t some whimsical farce or having a bit of fun, but a real effort on his part to influence the Mormon and non-Mormon public. That you and the other admins could not see through the deception, just shows that you’ve got no discernment. But now that I’ve pointed it out to you, you ought to make a reassessment, both among you admins, which you say do things as a group, and also poll the readership, whose input on the material you put out ought to be a concern to you admins, as to what, if any, actions to take. It is one thing to have lots of different contributors offering all different kinds of views, and quite another to allow one’s Mormon blog to become a forum in which one or more contributors can promote the mockery of Mormonism. Mocking Mormonism isn’t “just another point of view.” That is considered an attack. Wheat & Tares, or any Mormon-themed blog, should be a place of safety, where Mormons and non-Mormons, can go to discuss Mormonism without having their religion attacked or mocked. If you allow such material to exist on your blog, you are openly saying, “Any viewpoint, whether it attacks or mocks Mormonism or not, is acceptable on our blog.” In the minds of believing Mormons, even if one contributor is allowed to promote an anti-Mormon attack, the entire blog is anti-Mormon. That’s because as the admins, although you are not responsible for the content of the particular contributors, by allowing such material on your blog, you also contribute in its promotion.

    Now, if your policy is that you simply don’t care what your readership thinks of the stuff on your blog, and to hell with their opinions, that the admins have the final say and that if you end up promoting anti- material, then people can simply stop coming to your blog, or just skip over those particular posts, then you ought to say so. I am sure that believing Mormons would like to know that Wheat & Tares doesn’t give a damn what the readership’s opinions of their posts are and that the W&T admins will post whatever they damn well please, regardless of how subversive it is to the W&T’s audience’s religion. But, if you actually do care about not offending your target audience, why don’t you poll your readership as to whether Jake’s videos is religious satire, making a mockery of Mormonism, and if the readership feels that these videos do, in fact, ridicule the religion, why don’t you ask them whether they vote to remove Jake from the roster? Such a poll may go either way, but at least you are taking your readership into the equation. They may end up having more discernment than you admins. Or, they may say keep him on. Regardless, the matter is settled. But if they say remove him, despite the fact that you admins want to keep him, you might want to ask yourself the question before ignoring your readership’s wishes, “What is more important to your blog, offending your target audience, or offending a contributor that offends your target audience?”

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  31. LDS Anarchist on August 21, 2013 at 7:05 PM

    Arrgh! Can some admin please fix the bold text? Only “faith destruction” should be in bold type.

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  32. Andrew S on August 21, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    re 31

    Fixed.

    re 30,

    LDS Anarchist,

    OK, I guess it’s OK to keep this conversation here, although it’s kinda rude to Jake, but I’m sure he’ll understand. (Everyone, I apologize for the length of this)

    Although you say that “Bro. Jake is certainly not on the ex-, disaffected, post-, or anti- part of the spectrum at all“, he is, nevertheless, an unbeliever presenting himself as a believer.

    This is probably something that could probably have posts and posts written about it, but my thought is that the church and its members shouldn’t be in the business of trying to take people who voluntarily associate with the church (attend, participate, etc.,) and then alienate or otherize them simply because they don’t believe the same way you do. I think one thing that needs to happen is that people need to realize that conservative/traditional/culturally accepted belief positions aren’t the only legitimate way to be Mormon.

    His intention is to use this deceit both to influence non-Mormon unbelievers against Mormonism and to plant doubts in the hearts of believing Mormons.

    It’s good to know that you have credentials as a mindreader (in case you didn’t catch it, I’ll spell out that the previous was written with sarcasm), but let me try to mind read it back: I think Jake’s intention is to make humorous videos based on stuff that’s true to his life, true to his experience. It’s not that he is trying to influence non-Mormons against Mormonism (Mormonism itself does a good enough job of this…this is why the videos work. Because Jake isn’t mentioning anything that is untrue, sensational, obscure, etc.,) and he’s also not trying to plant doubts (again: this is already stuff that’s in Mormonism.)

    As I mentioned in the email, I would say that to the extent this plants doubts in the hearts of believing Mormons, that says more about the (lack of) robustness of those Mormons’ belief than anything else.

    In the minds of believing Mormons, even if one contributor is allowed to promote an anti-Mormon attack, the entire blog is anti-Mormon.

    It’s good to know that you also speak for all believing Mormons (in case you didn’t catch it, I’ll spell out again that the previous was written sarcastically). But you know, isn’t it normally an ex- or anti-Mormon stereotype to assume that all believing Mormons think the same way?

    I would say that for the believing Mormons who do think that this is an anti-Mormon attack are perfectly free not to read Jake’s posts or watch his videos, and for those who believe that the entire blog is intolerably anti-Mormon because of it, you are certainly free to visit other blogs, or even submit guest posts if you want to see posts of different tones or topics.

    Now, if your policy is that you simply don’t care what your readership thinks of the stuff on your blog, and to hell with their opinions, that the admins have the final say and that if you end up promoting anti- material, then people can simply stop coming to your blog, or just skip over those particular posts, then you ought to say so.

    Well, here’s the strange thing…That’s how basically every medium in the world operates without anyone having to say it. Maybe you didn’t get that, so you need it spelled out…but I’ll explain, since I took some business classes in school: The producers of any given medium (whether it is a blog, magazine, website, movie, video, TV show, etc., but also services, products, etc.,) decide what they want to produce, what direction it is, etc., At their discretion, they will decide if and when they want to do market analysis, consumer surveys, etc., but ultimately it is their decision to decide positioning, strategy, etc., Because resources are limited, it is generally accepted that niche strategies are accepted and acceptable.

    Then consumers voluntarily decide what media they want to consume. The consumers understand (but I guess this doesn’t apply to all consumers…) that they don’t have to consume all offerings, and neither are they expected to.

    Normal people recognize that not everything is for everyone.

    Sometimes, the media producers will poll for suggestions (especially if they sense that their products are not being well received by their target audiences), but otherwise, it would be strange for consumers to believe they can dictate what the producers do.

    But here’s another thing

    Sometimes a content producer can producer a variety of products (say: different magazines, or even different bloggers) to reach different target audiences. This is the strength of a group blog, for example — we can have different writers who produce for their target audiences.

    That’s why I said in the email: if you don’t like Bro. Jake’s stuff, then there are other writers at W&T you can read instead. Even more, we do offer guest writing spots to people, if you want to make a guest post. Or, even more, since you have your own blog, you are entirely free to write a post there about whatever you want (including your chastisement of us or our direction), and maybe, if it’s interesting enough, we’ll have a few cross posts back and forth.

    But, if you actually do care about not offending your target audience, why don’t you poll your readership as to whether Jake’s videos is religious satire, making a mockery of Mormonism, and if the readership feels that these videos do, in fact, ridicule the religion, why don’t you ask them whether they vote to remove Jake from the roster? Such a poll may go either way, but at least you are taking your readership into the equation. They may end up having more discernment than you admins. Or, they may say keep him on. Regardless, the matter is settled.

    Let me share you something else from the world of business. Consumer interest can be measured in many ways other than a poll. For example, we can note interest in a topic by things like traffic, shares, likes on Facebook discussion generated on Twitter, reddit, etc., And here’s something — businesses are typically not required to share that information with consumers. To the extent that a business seeks capital in the markets, then they may report some of this information via their financial statements, but strictly speaking, it is not required.

    I don’t know if you are aware, but Bro. Jake’s videos are pretty well received, and well-liked.

    And I am well aware that different niches will have different levels of appreciation. But hey…that’s why Bro. Jake doesn’t write for LDS Anarchy, and LDS Anarchy doesn’t post his videos. Here’s the secret: it’s OK for LDS Anarchy and Wheat & Tares to be two different sites with different niches.

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  33. N. on August 21, 2013 at 10:17 PM

    I’ve watched two of Bro. Jake’s previous videos, and decided to forego any others. I can’t really describe my reaction to them without falling into ad hominem attacks, so I’ll only say that I already saw what LDS Anarchist has pointed out and started ignoring Jake’s posts and slowly sorrowing for W&T.

    The Master said to judge a tree by its fruits. I stopped participating in Delhin-Enterprises’ blogs and podcasts because of his fruits and the cheering section he garnered and fed. As much as he claimed to be trying to strengthen people and relieve suffering, his fruit didn’t match up; anti-mormon podcasts ate him up; he gleefully had antagonists on and lobbed softballs for them and gave them a platform, etc. I started reading this blog because I saw an exodus of people that I believed saw him clearly and also got away from rotten fruit.

    A couple of years before, I was fascinated by Sunstone/Dialog until (almost) every inactive and antagonistic person on my Home Teaching route tried to give me copies of one or the other and have me “open my mind to the truth” and try and use the articles as support for their position on antagonism toward the church. Those magazines left my life as well. When I found out more about the people on the editorial board and got acquainted with their online writings, I have not regretted leaving them alone.

    I’m going to have to quit reading this blog (and Modern Mormon Men, another blog Jake contributes to) for the same reason. The fruit is rotting. I see and read unbelievers in Mormonism mock and point and use Bro Jake as one of their own, wether or not he identifies with them or merely gives them aid and comfort. NOW, with the number of admins backing Jake up and not seeing the faith-damage and shiny-happy-but-actually-mean-spirited mockery in the videos, I have no choice to conclude that they are too far gone and past feeling on this as well.

    I know, [sarcasm]BIG LOSS[/sarcasm]: one fewer reader, nobody special or influential or participatory for sure. I’m positive you won’t notice or care. I won’t let the door smack me in the butt on the way out.

    I just thought you should know that not *all* your readers think “this. is. awesome.” And we aren’t wet-eyed babes who are easily offended. We aren’t holier-than-thou people looking for motes in others’ eyes. We can just tell the difference between laughing with and laughing at people, discussing difficult issues and using those issues as ammunition.

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  34. hawkgrrrl on August 21, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    Granted, my personal threshold for mockery is certainly low. I tend to think we are wiser to make hamburgers out of sacred cows than to let them run loose in the streets, stopping up traffic. I’ve been accused of mockery myself although it wasn’t my intent.

    As a group blog, we don’t desire group think, and knowing the rest of the team, we really don’t have it. We each have different perspectives presented for discussion. I don’t think anyone is defending Jake because we have the identical viewpoint he has. We are each individuals. I’m glad he’s willing to engage with his critics, which is something we value in our authors. Having said that, if Jake’s not your thing, I say avoid Jake. Personally, I neither see Jake’s videos as knee-slappingly hilarious “awesome” forward it fifty times fare nor as the flaxen cord that leads straight to hell. I watch them and ask myself what the subtext is and why we should be thinking about that topic differently if we want to be objective. Not everyone likes George Carlin either. But he makes some salient points.

    LDSA’s comment record looks like he has pet interests. He usually comments in contradiction to others, particularly on the threads associated with sexism and homosexuality. I appreciate having diverse viewpoints presented, including his. I find your comments to be generally contradictory but respectful. You are free to criticize any posts or comments you don’t like. That’s part of the dialogue. If you don’t express your opinion, the “median” viewpoint shifts as a result, which IMO is a shame.

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  35. Brian on August 21, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    Anarchist says, “That you and the other admins could not see through the deception, just shows that you’ve got no discernment.” Somebody needs a timeout.

    I have been a reader of W&T and its predecessor Mormon Matters for a number of years now. I love the differences of viewpoints here. I think the audience here is well left of center but generally believing. Probably not your blog’s audience, Anarchist.

    I have enjoyed Bro Jake’s videos. This one was certainly mild compared to the previous ones. There are many things Mormon that deserve both praise and ridicule. I have long since quit trying to understand the faith of others. For instance, I don’t understand how some are comfortable, as believers, with the inspired fiction idea of the Book of Mormon when it seems that the official church position is that the book is history, period. But there are many people much smarter than me who happily live with this seeming contradiction.

    At face value, I would not think Bro Jake is a believer, but stranger things have happened.

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  36. h_nu on August 21, 2013 at 11:23 PM

    LDSA,
    Welcome to the right side of the wrong blog.

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  37. Hedgehog on August 22, 2013 at 1:56 AM

    LDSA #27 etc. In Britain we have a long and proud history of political satire, be that in print cartoon, or radio and TV comedy. I have never seen satire as something “used to mock things in which you do not believe” (#17), rather I have seen it used to both to laugh at ourselves and point out where we may be taking things to an extreme, or taking things too seriously. As such, I believe it has sometimes been an important modifying influence in pointing out how things can look from a different perspective, and I do believe we should be aware of different perspectives. Of course those opposed to something also enjoy the satire. Why wouldn’t they? In some sense it can then bring everyone together.

    On the other hand, I have myself on occasion completely misread a blog post, entirely missing the ‘fun’, which is why I appreciated Jake pointing out his aims with the piece in his OP (though as I wrote I don’t think this piece was especially successful in meeting those aims), rather than leaving it with no explanation.

    You’ve mentioned he has no such explanation up on YouTube itself, and I see there are also more videos there than have appeared on blog posts here. I’ve only been aware of his videos here. It is something to think about, but I don’t know we’d reach the same conclusions. The jury is out for me at the moment.

    That said, I like that W&T allows for a wide variety of views (yours included), and doesn’t have a ‘group think’. I would be sad to lose some of those voices from the comments.

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  38. Justin on August 22, 2013 at 5:59 AM

    I’ve pretty much done the same thing as N [#33]:

    I’ve watched two of Bro. Jake’s previous videos, and decided to forego any others. I can’t really describe my reaction to them without falling into ad hominem attacks, so I’ll only say that I already saw what LDS Anarchist has pointed out and started ignoring Jake’s posts and slowly sorrowing for W&T.

    I didn’t even watch this one — and didn’t pay any attention to its comments until I saw LDSA was posting on it. I’ve just found no value in his mocking presentations of Mormon history/beliefs — and have been simply “not consuming” the “product”, choosing instead to “consume” writers I do find value in.

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  39. Justin on August 22, 2013 at 6:05 AM

    Oh — I said I

    pretty much [did] the same thing as N”

    except I blockquoted “slowly sorrowing for W&T“, but I haven’t been doing that — just the rest [ignoring Jake's videos because they strike me as mockery].

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  40. Jeff Spector on August 22, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    I’d like to turn our attention to some things that Hawkgrrrl has mentioned in the comments which I think put this whole thing into perspective. I, like her, enjoy satire and even mockery to some extend. And while I tend to think Brother Jake’s videos are well over the top, they point to something very important about Mormon belief and culture.

    Some folks take a very superficial view of the Gospel, mainly centered around the stories, Bible and Book of Mormon. This is largely what Brother Jake’s video says to me. When taken as a whole, it may sound ridiculous to some. Heck, religion taken to an extreme secular logical conclusion appears crazy to some people who lack simple faith to believe.

    While it might be a problem for a weak or new member to see such a video, it points out that we all need to better know what is behind the stories and not just the nice moral behind them.

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  41. brjones on August 22, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    LDS Anarchist, your position, which is essentially that voices of dissent should be silenced, is disappointing, and, frankly, rather pedantic. The majority of people who actively participate in this site are educated, thoughtful and reasoned in their approach to issues surrounding the mormon church. I can’t speak for the admins, but my personal advice to you would be that if you don’t like the voices that are given a forum here, and if your particular brand of faith isn’t able to withstand voices of dissent and even abject criticism, then find another blog to participate in. There are plenty of sites out there that only present one sanitized, mainstream point of view. You could start with lds.org.

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  42. nate on August 22, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Just watched the video.
    It was a quick but thorough summary in casual English, with pop culture iconography to illustrate it, iconography which I can imagine almost any hip seminary teacher using. It was actually correct in its doctrine, and didn’t resort to any exaggeration or distortion that I could see.

    It makes the Book of Mormon seem absurd, but that is because the Book of Mormon IS absurd, when viewed through the People Magazine cultural lense.

    That absurdity is one of it’s essential qualities. God could have made it less absurd for our day, but He didn’t, so we have to deal with it. It, like Christ, is a stumblingblock, a stone the builders reject to become the cornerstone of our religion.

    The Book of Mormon is obviously out of place within our fast-paced, cynical, and skeptical twitterverse. “The Gentiles will mock us” it prophesies. This video demonstrates just how out of place it sounds coming from the tongue of one skilled in the language of our age.

    I know the Book of Mormon comes from God, because God revealed that to me. But I also can see how absurd it seems, and so for me, the Book of Mormon is not only an inspiring book of scripture, but a cross to bear as well, to bring me to humility and submission to “the foolishness of God, which is greater than the wisdom of men.”

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  43. Dan S on August 22, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    Why is liking disabled on some comments?! Seems like there’s some manipulation of opinion going on here…

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  44. Jeff Spector on August 22, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    It’s not. If you liked it once, you cannot like it again. Except in your heart.

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  45. LDS Anarchist on August 22, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    I am all for differences of opinion, but I draw the line at sin. Mocking the servants of God, the word of God, the works of God, or any of His things, including God Himself, is a sin. Jake has sinned in that he mocks the BOM prophets (the Lord’s servants), the Book of Mormon itself (the word of God), etc. The admins of this blog allow him to continue to freely commit these sins, and in fact celebrate his evil works as clever, and so become guilty parties themselves.

    And it was because of the pride of their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, yea, it was because of their oppression to the poor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, committing adultery, rising up in great contentions, and deserting away into the land of Nephi, among the Lamanites— (Hel. 4:12)

    And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing;…and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words. And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn (Ether 12:23,25-26)

    for I, the Lord, am God, and cannot be mocked in any of these things (D&C 124:71)

    For I, the Lord, am not to be mocked in the last days…Wherefore, let the church repent of their sins, and I, the Lord, will own them; otherwise they shall be cut off. Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit; and in this there is no condemnation, and ye receive the Spirit through prayer; wherefore, without this there remaineth condemnation. (D&C 63:58,63-64)

    For I, the Lord, am not to be mocked in these things— (D&C 104:6)

    But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy. (2 Chron. 36:16)

    And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth. And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit. (1 Ne. 8:27)

    And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions? Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved! (Alma 5:30-31)

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  46. Brian on August 22, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    Nate-I filed the Book of Mormon into the unbelievable category a long time ago, but I really liked your comments above.

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  47. hawkgrrrl on August 22, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    Who leaked the Evil Doers’ Celebration? Now we have to change the location. Thanks a lot, nerds.

    LDSA, I cannot agree with where you draw the line. All believers sin. All require the atonement. The point of the parable of the wheat & tares is that can’t as humans tell the wheat & tares from one another. The parable invites us to defer judgment. Only when the wheat & tares are fully mature will the final judgment happen. Not here and now. I suspect part of the issue is that Americans in general and church members in particular struggle with satire which is more common in places like England. Additionally, when someone does only satire and does it under a pseudonym, it’s difficult to see where they are coming from or to assess their intentions.

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  48. brjones on August 22, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    His evil works are manifestly clever. I’m not sure what the controversy is. There are plenty of contributors here who are “sinners” even by your incredibly broad definition, and I don’t recall anyone else demanding that posters be banned. The point is, this blog belongs to the admins. If you are offended by the content, you can choose not to participate, and let the rest of us enjoy our clever sinning in peace.

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  49. Thomas Parkin on August 22, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    I recall a really fine Sacrament Meeting talk a few years in back in which the speaker listed a number of reasons why the Wheat isn’t to try to remove the Tares. The gist was that it is impossible to finally say, with confidence, who will prove to be Wheat and who Tares. (My personal opinion is that there are no essential tares, only temporary problems.) But the one specific thing I recall is the speaker’s suggestion that the process necessary to gather the tares would destroy the purity of the wheat.

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  50. Andrew S on August 22, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    Thomas,

    yep, that’s my understanding as well.

    …or, in other words, this is the discussion where everyone realizes the level of discernment that the admins had all the way back when deciding on a *name* for the blog.

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  51. Jeff Spector on August 22, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    Now who is over the top….. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone…..”

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  52. brjones on August 22, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    Well said, Jeff.

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  53. LDS Anarchist on August 22, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    hawkgrrrl,

    The parable invites us to defer judgment.

    No, of course not. You have misunderstood the parable, as you have misunderstood the sin of clearing the way that another may more freely sin. The parable in no way, shape or form tells us to defer judgment until the harvest. If so, church courts, disfellowship and excommunication (cutting off a person from the body of the church) would all be unrighteous principles. But they are not unrighteous principles, but are based upon the principle of pruning which is to occur from time to time as fruit is seen to spoil on the vine. We are to judge righteous judgment, not defer all judgment to the end. Anyone that sins in this church, and does not repent, is to be cut off.

    Thou knowest my laws concerning these things are given in my scriptures; he that sinneth and repenteth not shall be cast out. (D&C 42:28)

    Everything is jurisdictional, so this blog is your jurisdiction and you will be held responsible for what is promoted here once you become aware of its content. Merely washing one’s hands like Pilate and saying, “Well, I didn’t write that, so I’m not responsible for what that man does,” does not eliminate the responsibility you have, according to your jurisdiction, to do all in your power to make sure that the Lord’s gospel is promoted and/or is not mocked. If you know of someone mocking, and you have the power to make it stop, according to your jurisdiction (meaning you have the right to make it stop), and you do nothing, the sin transfers to you. It is seen the same as you mocking the things of God. Your non-action becomes a sin of omission, which is how the salt loses its savor.

    But inasmuch as they keep not my commandments, and hearken not to observe all my words, the kingdoms of the world shall prevail against them. For they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men; and inasmuch as they are not the saviors of men, they are as salt that has lost its savor, and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. (D&C 103:8-10)

    When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men; they are called to be the savor of men; therefore, if that salt of the earth lose its savor, behold, it is thenceforth good for nothing only to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men. (D&C 101:39-40)

    So, even our actions or in-actions on a silly blog like this one has power to bring us under condemnation and eventually get us cast out (as tares), if we do not repent. In other words, not resisting sin, when it is in our power to do so, is tare behavior.

    Finally, addressing Andrew’s comment about the level of discernment for the title of this blog–based upon the admin comments and justifications used to excuse Jake’s posts, including using the business model to bolster the actions of a religious blog, I’d say there was a lack of discernment from the very beginning. Wheat & Tares might have been more aptly named, Tares and Only Tares.

    So long, folks.

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  54. Brian on August 23, 2013 at 12:02 AM

    The wicked have been denounced. The righteous move on to save those who will listen. So be it. Amen.

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  55. hawkgrrrl on August 23, 2013 at 12:34 AM

    So say we all.

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  56. Roger on August 24, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Sorry to join in late…. I had taken a W&T hiatus, not out of offense but rather due to creeping ennui. Bro Jake remedied that, for sure. I’ve seen three of his videos; I enjoy them just as I occasionally enjoy the political send-ups on SNL. The creativity of using the Steve McQueen Great Escape photo and Charleton Heston to represent the last survivor (from Planet of the Apes) has to be appreciated and acknowledged.

    I am disappointed (but not surprised, necessarily) to read how LDS Anarchist and Will want Jake read out of the Blog (and I guess, the Church) for the potential effect on the little children in the faith. Folks, there are seminary teachers, BYU religion professors (see Reid Bankhead) and elders quorum instructors who without any intended satire who have wreaked havoc on the testimonies of the uninitiated.

    I usually take vigorous exception to the opinions of Will and LDS Anarchist–but they still have the right to express them–

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  57. J. Madson on August 26, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    Nothing like a self proclaimed anarchist running around demanding others be censured and doing so on the basis of appeals to authority. The shtick is getting a bit old no? Isn’t it time your moniker be changed to LDS Authoritarian.

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  58. B.O.B. on August 26, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    This comment is mostly for LDSA… and though I’m sure he’s moved on from this conversation, I hope it helps somewhere along the line. I would’ve responded sooner, but vacations take precedence over the silencing I’ve seen going on here.

    When we focus on the deviancy of others, when we take a hardline approach to situations we find ourselves entering a very dangerous and very slippery area. I likewise find your language and judgments offensive, incorrect and entirely misguided.

    Joseph Smith once famously stated that (paraphrasing) what most people are apt to call a sin, isn’t really a sin. That we’d be surprised at what happens between now, death and the next life and who would end up where. That calling men out publicly for doctrinal errors was as evil as it was wrong. The problem, it seems, with mortality is one of incredible shortsightedness. Incredible lack of tolerance. Incredible arrogance.

    I get that you think your viewpoint is correct, that you’re without fault in this argument and that everyone should agree with you – read any of your posts here on W&T over the past year and anyone with a rudimentary education would be able to glean that much. And, even with that being said, your viewpoint may be correct, but your inability to persuade and love someone to your side of the argument (see D&C 121 for some instruction on this angle) is a glaring weakness you demonstrate time and again, at least in your ability to use the written word to so win someone over.

    I’ve enjoyed lots of what you’ve written, but your arrogance and inability to see the other side to any/b> pancake led me away from you and your site.

    As for me, any discussion on the cultural meanings imbued through the BOM are, in my mind, quite necessary and welcome.

    The totems we worship tell us little about who we are, but our demons, they sing.

    Source.

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  59. wanpakudrew on August 26, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    This is great. Would love to see a video on the Word of Wisdom or Book of Abraham.

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  60. Bishop Rick on August 29, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    How can you read 3rd Nephi and still believe the BoM was written 2000 years ago?
    This is a sincere question.

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  61. Brother Jake Explains Himself - Rational Faiths on September 30, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    […] a little disappointed that critics overwhelmingly opt for ad-hominem attacks (check out this scorched earth comment thread on Wheat and Tares), it’s understandable—after all, my videos are satirical, so I can’t say […]

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