From the Mormon Times Monday January 25, 2010:
"Readers have no way of knowing which critical claims have already been discredited, and the anti-Mormon sponsors are certainly not going to tell them right there on the site," he said.
The democratization of ideas sometimes confuses the reader as to what is true and what is not, as all ideas are presented horizontally and as fact, thus positioning the blogger's flippant opinion alongside the scholar's well-researched dissertation.
Elder Hafen said there is much discussion out there regarding the methods through which Joseph Smith translated ancient scripture such as the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price and the Bible. That's all fine and good so long as the questioner is mainly focused on the works themselves, the great mountains of eternal knowledge they contain, and what that knowledge means in the lives of God's children rather than on the specifics of the revelatory process.
"How (Joseph Smith) received it doesn't ultimately matter to us very much," he said.
Elder Hafen said the "mountain" that is of most importance is the fact that all people are children of a loving, concerned father in heaven.
So long as a person has that tenant down pat, they'll be able to explore more challenging ideas, and even deal with unanswered questions.
The above excerpt of a summary of a fireside speech given by Bruce C. Hafen struck me as funny...not as in a ha ha but a strange sort of way. I, as a flippant blogger, struggle with the amount of cognitive dissonance that is required here to suspend disbelief. While Elder Hafen encourages study; he discourages examining the facts on their own. Instead he suggests the examiner defer to the writings of the scholars who I assume would mean FAIR or FARMS. I have read the summarizing and distortion of history on the scholar’s sites and am left questioning “what the definition of is…is”
The reality here is that Elder Hafen, as a General Authority, should be in a position to speak with authority regarding the doctrinal issues surrounding the translation of the “sacred texts” and what the methods therein mean to the veracity of those texts. Instead, according to the summary of his speech, he obfuscates. He does not address for the member and especially for the member who is in question what the truth is. Members and seekers alike who research this material by using the apologist sites offered by the “scholars” are in many cases left with a WTF response to the convoluted distortions.
The facts are:
• Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, not by reading the plates or and translating them character by character but by burying his head in his hat with two seer stones (urmin and thummin) inside the hat.
• He didn’t have to “write the story” he “told the story” to his scribes. In many cases the “plates” were not in the room. Of all the scribes only three died as members of the church. The rest either left or were excommunicated.
• The seer stones were the same stones he used to hunt treasure with.
This photo is the one the LDS church uses to illustrate the process. Indeed this is a misrepresentation of historical facts and accounts surrounding the actual events.
Elder Hafen suggests the reader should be interested in the works and their content not the way the content came to be. This double bind is common in cognitive dissonance. If you don't get it it's your fault....try harder! It has also been postulated that the character of the man is not as important as the restoration of the gospel. However, a "flippant blogger" is discredited based upon character...why shouldn't a supposed prophet? My offense is sarcasm and skepticism. The man in question here was convicted of treasure hunting, married 30+ women (many of whom were already married), took child brides, engaged in willful destruction of a printing press, and consumed alcohol all after having been selected by god to restore the gospel.
I am of the opinion that character matters and the method at which our works are delivered are of significant importance. To attempt to separate the two creates a psychosis and an unresolvable double bind.