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February 21, 2024

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LelanderNovember 30, 2014

I applaud this effort, but I see some difficulties which may be hard to overcome. I fear that this effort could easily be seen as trying to get ahead of the brethren, adding definition and detail and vigor which goes beyond what the leaders are willing to say themselves. From my viewpoint as a highly opinionated senior citizen, it appears that the Church leaders are highly aware of the constraints of political correctness and mostly operate within those boundaries. Their condemnations of incorrect thinking and action in this society may simply come out as vague statements or hints or allusions, not direct confrontations, where specific practices are described and condemned. These subtleties apparently keep them out of trouble and out of the news, but leave a host of issues that Church members must deduce and expand for themselves, leaving us with anything but a unified front. When the Church leaders very carefully stay away from any politically relevant moral commentary, they also, by implication, seem to say that religious questions only have private application, and have nothing to do with the much larger public world. That is the exact goal of the far left forces in our country -- to push all signs of religion out of public view, perhaps stopping just short of criminalizing them, although criminalizing them would be the desired outcome. As long as Church leaders seem to think they have good reasons for staying out of these fights, that is going to encourage everyone else to stay even further away from these ideological struggles.

Robert SlavenNovember 30, 2014

I too hope this will be a welcoming and civil place to discuss all manner of things relevant to the gospel. There is a tendency among some to think that "their way of thinking" is "the One and Only True Way", and that having a different perspective or considering other possibilities is somehow apostate. Often, this belief is based on unfounded assumptions. Brother Hancock even alludes to this when he says that much of the discussion out on the "Bloggernacle" "almost always based upon ideological commitments that conflict with teachings on morality and on the family". In fact, in my experience, while most such discussions are based on some attitudes and opinions that DIFFER from those of the "One True Way" persuasion, they do NOT conflict with core teachings on morality and on the family. They MAY conflict with some of the errors of fact that sometimes accompany teachings on morality and on the family; but when such errors of fact are found, surely they should be corrected quickly, no matter where the correction may come from. I'm looking forward to the development of this initiative.

Rita MillerNovember 30, 2014

I hope this new feature is not limited to those with academic degrees in philosophy and religion. There are many of us among the body of the Church who, while not card-carrying members of academia, nevertheless have a deep and abiding desire to participate in philosophical and intellectual discussion that is grounded in the gospel.

Old ManNovember 28, 2014

Long ago, while a student at BYU, a history professor declared that the greatest challenge to many students' testimonies would be the growing influence of atheistic existentialism and related ideologies. I was rather shocked, because this professor was very open-minded, and at least by BYU's standards, considered quite liberal. The ideas of Sartre and Camus, and their offspring, have influenced us for several generations, and the effects have not been very positive for religion and traditional morality. They have influenced both liberal and conservative political thinkers. They have inflamed a culture war over the last decades. To free ourselves from the effects of current trendy philosophies and ideologies, it will take discussions of not merely what we believe but how and why we believe it. It will require us to analyze, question and reject core political and philosophical concepts that many of us hold dear. I hope that the thinkers and writers are up to the task. I hope the readership is up to the job as well.

Sandy MunroNovember 28, 2014

I applaud the stand against moral relativism. In doing so, my hope and caution to myself and others is that we take care to stand where our Church leaders stand, and that we not be so 'overzealous' in the cause of the Lord that we go beyond the mark. My object is to follow where the prophets and apostles lead, and not to lead out ahead of those who have the right of leadership. I imagine that I might as easily take too much upon myself as the next man, which I don't want to do. I don't want to be Zeniff, and I don't want to be Uzza, trying inappropriately to steady the ark. It's tempting to be as Peter, and take up the sword, but I remember the Lord's response in that situation... “Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? “But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:51–54). Balancing this is the command that we take seriously the charge to 'be anxiously engaged' and do many good things of our 'own free will', I look forward to future posts, thank you!

John DoeNovember 27, 2014

So, how does the forum work? Does the reader post questions? If so, how do they do that? Through this comment section? If so, what if the question or topic is not related to the articles posted? Or, is it just a submission of artlices to Brother Hancock? Not sure how the forum works.

NateNovember 13, 2014

Bro. Hancock, it sounds like this new effort will definitely fill a needed void. But I think its success will depend upon whether its orientation is defensive or offensive. Are we defending our unique and peculiar beliefs against those who would have us conform to majority values in the world? Or are we judging and condemning "those who do not share our covenant obligations" or seeking politically to enforce our particular beliefs upon them as universal? For quite a few years, the rhetoric of the church has been on the offensive, seeking to mobilize political influence against SSM etc: "we warn, we encourage, we hope" regarding political events among Gentiles. But this seems to be subtly changing. We lost the crusade against SSM and the church has changed its rhetoric to "Respectful coexistence is possible with those with differing values" with no attempt to exercise political influence in its latest public statement on SSM. In Elder Oak's landmark talk on contention this past conference, he differentiated between disagreements with Gentiles which are universal and self-evident, i.e. terrorism and murder, and disagreements which are "controversial," like co-habitation and SSM. On controversial disagreements, Elder Oaks said we can be respectful and agree to disagree. He suggested we not be so quick to judge those who "do not share our covenant obligations," and who have differing opinions on controversial issues. So will your discussions of moral issues frame Mormonism as "inspired uniqueness," "a peculiar people," freely exercising their right to believe as they wish in a pluralistic society? Or will it focus upon tearing down the honest beliefs of those "who do not share our covenant obligations" in order to prop up our own perceptions of LDS exceptionalism? I sincerely hope we can adopt the new spirit of the church's latest official statement on SSM, and Elder Oak's talk on living non-contentiously as members of a pluralistic society. We should stand up for our own rights to believe and practice as we choose, and stand up for the rights of others as well, even if they believe differently. This strengthens our own freedoms. Anything less contributes to the deterioration of that freedom upon which our democracy was founded.

Good ReasonNovember 11, 2014

I am glad to see this initiative. Even so, there is not a "void" for this type of faithful work. Consider the online journal SquareTwo, which has endeavored to provide just such a forum for faithful LDS scholarship on contemporary world issues. Hancock, as a member of that editorial board, must know of it.

NathanielNovember 11, 2014

This effort is very timely. I was struck during October General Conference by how many of the talks could be loosely categorized as either "historical apologetics" or "moral apologetics." And, while the former has been faithfully taken on for many years by organizations such as FARMS, FAIR Mormon, and Interpreter, the latter has been left almost exclusively to the apostles and prophets to assume. It makes sense to my mind and feels right to my heart that we, as members, should also indeed be anxiously engaged in this effort.

KathythebraveNovember 11, 2014

Thank you Meridian, and for Brother Hancock for this wonderful post and endeavor! I am one of those who read, study and try to stay informed, inspired and prepared to make a difference for good and truth but have been so dismayed often by the very thing you describe of a certain moral relativism among intellectuals in the church that it makes my heart feel sad for the great losses this stance will bring. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of my heroes as he understood this difference in intellectual honesty and acknowledgement of the great author of all truth in the discussion. I long to be more like him with his courage and I long to know more people like him in our day. God bless this worthy endeavor.

Dave MooreNovember 11, 2014

I look forward to this 'grand conversation' with great anticipation...and two cautions: 1. that the effort not focus so highly on the 'intellectual' aspect of the discussion that it becomes inaccessible or off putting to we 'average' members, and 2. that this effort will be continuously motivated by and informed by the Spirit so that it does not degenerate into partisan argument (religious or political).



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