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Author Topic: Church Statement: Stop Teaching Racist False Doctrine
Taalcon
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roper66,

No, there is no revelation recorded anywhere restricting the Priesthood to men. I also think that is very significant, but, while somewhat related, discussions concerning 'gender' in the Church is a different complicated discussion for a different thread.

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JennaDean
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I'm telling you, roper, don't stir the pot. I couldn't handle the ramifications.
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Taalcon
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quote:
Do you believe the priesthood ban for all israelites from Moses time to the time of Chirst was scripturally sound?

If it was, in what way was it different?

Calling the Old Testament system as a ban isn't helpful, or describe the situation.

The concept and designation of "priesthood" throughout the scriptures is complicated, and not at all consistent.

In the OT, the term 'Priesthood' is understand very differently than we use it in the Church today. Today, we tend to use the term to be equal with "The Power and Authority of God". In the OT, Priesthood means, "you hold the vocation of a priest". Levites did not "hold the priesthood" - they were Levites, not "Priests". Those designated as the Sons of Aaron, likewise, did not "hold the priesthood", they were Priests. And then there was the chief Priest, referred to as the "High Priest".

Traditionally, The Levite clan was given a specific caste-like responsibility to look after the structure of the tabernacle/temple, and to fascilitate the deliverance of offerings, sacrifices, and other kingly rituals.

While the history of the idea of the Aaronid priesthood is fascinating and complicated from an historical perspective (especially as it contrasted and clashed and merged with the resident aboriginal Jebusite priesthood), in the OT, the concept of priesthood is not related to "the power of God" - but rather as acting in one specific role of maaintenance. It wasn't a matter of being able to bless one's wives and children, or to baptize and confirm, or to be authorized as iternerant missionaries, or to lead "The Church". - it was a caste vocation that we set up to be a symbol. Levites and Priests were not understood as having or being granted any supernatural "power of God" - they served God, and made sure he recieved the offerings, and maintained the balance of symbolic purity in the nation. The Exodus story explanation of this role being given to the Levites tells that because they were willing to kill everyone who worshipped the idol and blasphemed Jehovah, that family would be set apart for serving the Temple, and would not recieve any land in the future conquest, because the temple itself would be their inheritence.

There is much evidence in the accounts of the Monarchy that there is a constant battle of supremacy between the kingly-oriented Jebusite/Zadokite priesthood caste that was native to Canaan, and the Aaronid.

The Book of Mormon doesn't have any concept of lineage-based temple responsibility. It simply was not relevant at all, and wasn't brought over into the Nephite colony. In the Book of Mormon, Priests and Teachers do not "hold the priesthood", but hold responsibilities of teachers and priests. The High Priesthood is the chief priest.

In the early original sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, "Priesthood" means the office of Priest, and "High Priesthood" means the office of High Priest. These were later further designated as the Lesser/Aaronic Priesthood (again, the office of Priest), and the Higher/Melchizedek Priesthood (the office of High Priest). Only post-D&C were the terms used the way we do today as designating 'divisions of the power of God', mainly as systematized by Joseph F. Smith.

Development and understanding of concepts of Priesthood in LDS thought are substantially complicated.

I guess the short answer is, while the concept of one family/clan with a small geogaphical nation/Kingdom being given responsibility over the Temple precincts is found in the Old Testament, the concept of "The Power and Authority to Act In The Name of God" being restricted from everyone but one family is not sound, nor to be found. And even if it were the case, comparing it to a worldwide Church where all men in the world but Black Africans are invited to exercise the Power of God is like comparing apples with ceiling fans.

Eventually, the power to act in the name of God was also given the term Priesthood, and then mixed and merged with the idea of priesthood-as-vocation. We now read both concepts into all appearances of the words, even though not even Joseph Smith in the D&C meant it originally as we generally speak of today.

For an indepth history of the modern development of the ideas and understanding of the term and concept of Priesthood as can be seen in the Doctrine and Covenants, there's a fantastic 13-part series starting here: D&C 107. Part 1: Background.

When it comes down to it, in both the New Testament Church, and in the Book of Mormon, there is no indication of power of God or blessings being restricted to any tribe, race, nation, or people who was willing to accept it. While we use the term 'Aaronic Priesthood' today as a general term for a portion of "The Power of God", and as an umbrella term for the offices of Deacon, Teacher, and Lesser Priesthood, it is anachronistic to read that concept back into the OT record of Levitical temple servants and Aaronid priests.

[ March 08, 2012, 09:07 AM: Message edited by: Taalcon ]

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jana at jade house
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quote:
Is there a specific recorded revelation disallowing women to hold and exercise the priesthood? If so, where does one find it? Is there an official statement from the church giving a rationale for the practice?

If there is something related and specific, it would be related to the period when the Sisters routinely blessed the sick, and then were asked to stop. I don't remember enough offhand to point in the right year even. But if you accessed the FAIR website, I am almost positive there is research materials for you to read.
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Taalcon
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quote:
If there is something related and specific, it would be related to the period when the Sisters routinely blessed the sick, and then were asked to stop. I don't remember enough offhand to point in the right year even. But if you accessed the FAIR website, I am almost positive there is research materials for you to read.
The entire history of that can be read here: Ritual Female Healing in Mormonism, as well as a very insightful podcast companion here.

EDIT: Links fixed

[ March 08, 2012, 09:26 AM: Message edited by: Taalcon ]

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AndrewR
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quote:
Calling the Old Testament system as a ban isn't helpful, or describe the situation.

I have to confess that I am beginning to think I need to remove myself from this forum.

Your entire post seems to indicate to me that you belief each gospel dispensation to be different. Almost as if the elements that ensure eternal progression are different.

This is the dispensation of the fulness of times.

The gospel would have been dispensed to the israelites as we have it if they had been able to accept it. But it wasn't.

What you say about priesthood is clearly not entirely correct - Moses ordained Aaron and his sons.

When I talk about the priesthood the fundemental element is what it does for us - ie the ordinances and covenants.

The ordinances of Salvation and Exaltation were held from the israelites as they were the Blacks for a time in this dispensation.

Actually holding the priesthood is part of those ordinances for a man. For men and women it includes the ordinances of the temple.

Priesthood restriction was more about access to the ordinances than being able to give someone a blessing.


Andrew R.

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Taalcon
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AndrewR,

I'll be the first to aknowledge that what I presented isn't 'doctrinal', inasmuch as it's not represented in the official publications and teachings of the Church. It is, however, what appears to me to be historical.

I don't think one is more important than the other, as I do believe there is important and sacred worth and truth behind the 'doctrinal' storyline.

I think the problem comes when prooftexts from the "doctrinal/scriptural story" are used to justify historical precedent for "how God works" - when there's a good case to be made that God didn't in fact work that way at all.

There's been a strong past tradition in the Church of ignoring or mocking non-LDS Biblical scholarship, and trumping it with Tradition. I think more and more, it is being seen how this is not necessary, and that by putting as much study into Biblical history as we put into the Book of Mormon reveals powerful insights about the nature of God, and the nature of revelation in general. It does necessitate a major paradigm shift. Some feel that if it turns out Moses didn't actually pen the Penteteuch, then there goes everything! It's all false, then!

That's the false dichotomy - that if the traditional scriptural narrative isn't historically accurate, then none of it is really worthwhile, or worth studying at all, and it's all 'False'.

All scripture is written for a purpose, and with an intent in mind by the writer, a message get across. The genre of the text is essential to take into consideration when interpreting it, or taking statements at face value.

This does not diminish scripture, but gives it a stronger dynamic.

You're right - I don't accept the standard narrative as being historically accurate. I do feel there is power and truths communicated by telling it that way, but I also feel that we can stretch it WAY too far, and use it to place restrictions and qualifications and motivations on God that are not necessary, and do not take into consideration the principle of further light and knowledge/revelation. A profession of accepting New Revelation means nothing if a declaration in a 3000 year old text must be viewed as, well, set in stone.

IE, "It's okay for God to keep stuff from the blacks in the 20th Century, because this polemic nationalistic history from 3000 years ago said God set up only one family to work in the Temple."

I believe very strongly that God works with what he has, that humanity in general is progressing in a powerful way, which is able to be used by the Lord in the preparation for us to receive and accept and act on further light and knowledge.

[ March 08, 2012, 11:11 AM: Message edited by: Taalcon ]

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Taalcon
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And again: Any statement that earlier prophets held racist ideas is not saying they were substantially wicked, nor especially even comparatively more wicked than the General Population. Very much to the contrary. As I've said many times before, I don't see any malicious intent - simply neutral cultural assumption.

It just aknowledges that their thoughts were in line with the majority of Americans during most of this on that subject, and saw no strong reason to question it, seeing as there was already sitting there a scriptural justification for it.

I find the racism held among most Americans from 1800s-20th century (and especially that remaining today) as terrible, and greatly unfortunate. But we as humanity are moving past it together. The prophets were moving past it along with society.

To say they held racist ideas is just saying that they were Americans during that time, and not adding any further value statement on that. Some, like on all things, happened to be more vocal in explaining their scriptural justification for those ideas. Many probably wouldn't have held those ideas if they hadn't thought, by tradition, that the scriptures mandated it!

[ March 08, 2012, 11:12 AM: Message edited by: Taalcon ]

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Taalcon
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quote:
The church has not repudiated the policy as de facto racist.
Roper,

Whether one feels the ban was justified by God or not, value assignments aside, the terms of the ban itself are by definition racist. It functionally discriminates based solely on one's race/ethnicity/lineage.

[ March 08, 2012, 11:51 AM: Message edited by: Taalcon ]

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PaddingtonBear
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Sorry for the delay.
quote:
Have you looked into the matter? Have you read the resources? It is completely indefensible for anyone who has.
Yes, I've read your links, and I already told you, I agree with you. But come on, dude, there's very little in this world about which I'm not willing to say "hey, I could be wrong." That's all.

I've also found, as a corollary, that it's easier to have discussions with people when your position is not expressed (either explicitly or implicitly) as "only an idiot or a liar could disagree with me!" It's one of the features of political discussions that make me detest the whole necessity.

But, you know, I could be wrong about that.

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Taalcon
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Paddington, I'm as sure about Curse of Cain/Ham being bunk in regards to a curse on blacks as I am that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

But, you know, I could be wrong about that, too.

But I don't consider that issue up for debate. You can argue that the Earth doesn't revolve around the sun - and use scripture, too! - but that doesn't mean I'm going to find the argument credible or somehow not ill-informed. It's not really a subject conducive to debate, if the evidence is actually addressed.

[ March 08, 2012, 12:37 PM: Message edited by: Taalcon ]

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panamajones
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A few observations that may help (or just muddy the water):
  • Prophets speak primarily to their own people in their own times and will do so in according to their own understanding. This was true in Isaiah's day and it is true in Thomas S. Monsons' day.
  • All scripture will not harmonize. We believe in further light and knowledge, and there are many, many examples of new revelation contradicting previous revelation. This is one of the greatest teachings of the Restoration.
  • There are absolutes in terms of doctrine, but they are few. Look to the questions for a Temple recommend as the primary foundation of what truly matters. We believe in a God who never changes, and he doesn't--he loves us and seeks to bless us. But how we understand his word and how it is carried out changes all the time--the recent Temple changes being an example.

Whether it's the priesthood ban (or what priesthood even is) or the Word of Wisdom or whatever, the prophets do their best to get it right, and we are blessed to support and sustain them. At the same time, we are the Church (it means assembly or group and not an institutional organization) and within proper channels we should speak up if we feel something is amiss.

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Taalcon
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There's a reason there's a provision in the D&C for the Church President to be tried and removed by the body of the church [Wink] It's generally assumed when it says the Lord would remove a president if he leads the Church astray, that it means he would die, or be divinely pulled away, where it could mean the Lord would work through the body of the Church to remove him from the office after the properly divinely established order.

While this was put into practice with Joseph, it obviously didn't end with his removal. I have seen no indication that any of the Presidents since Joseph did anything so egregious that would or should have required such action. I think fallibility is acceptable. Forceably using the Church to manipulate and further one's own selfish means and desires is another matter entirely. I don't believe in any way that any of the Church presidents have done this. Apostles and 70s and First Presidency members have, however, and they were removed.

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panamajones
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An excellent talk by Bro. Blake Ostler from a FAIR conference a few years ago addresses the fallacy of fundamentalist assumptions. We tend to think of "fundamentalist" evangelicals but many members of the Church think along the same lines and does a lot of harm. I hope this is helpful.
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Taalcon
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You're right, of course. There just happens to be a lot more evidence indicating towards the perpetuation of culture than there is that there was a divinely mandated revelation of the subject, 's all.

[ March 08, 2012, 02:33 PM: Message edited by: Taalcon ]

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Jean Valjean
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quote:
Some feel that if it turns out Moses didn't actually pen the Penteteuch, then there goes everything! It's all false, then!
Kind of a tangent, but this touches on something I've been pondering for a while. Nephi apparently had heard of the five books of Moses before he secured the Brass Plates, but there are hints they were not widely available among the Jews and Nephi and Lehi had not actually had access to copies of all five books prior to obtaining the Plates. Indeed, that seems to have been much of the motivation for obtaining the Plates.

What I'm getting at is that the Jews in exile after the destruction of Jerusalem may no longer have had Moses' original five books at all. The legend persisted, and five books attributed to Moses emerged in the post-Exilic era -- books that combined some truth with some historical legends and a lot of Babylonian legal philosophy.

Meanwhile Nephi had a more faithful copy of the original, perhaps the last reasonably faithful copy in existence.

There are futher hints in the Book of Mormon that the original Pentateuch was quite a bit different from what we got from the Jews. For example, Nephi stresses that his people lived the law of Moses. So do his successors. Yet the only death penalty among the Nephites appears to have been for murder. There's one chapter -- I don't recall off-hand which -- which gives a long list of crimes for which the Nephite judges imposed punishment, including dishonesty and adultery, but only murder is mentioned as being punished unto death. This is rather at odds with the books of Moses we now have, which impose the death penalty at the drop of a hat.

Whether there were ever five books of Moses, or whether the five books in the brass plates were themselves pseudepigrapha, is a separate question. I don't believe Nephi ever actually quotes the books of Moses from the brass plates, which is itself an interesting fact -- he is happy to quote Isaiah and other prophets, but he barely quotes Moses at all. It seems the story of the brazen serpent was included in Nephi's copies of the books, as well as the prophecy of Moses, but that's about it.

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Taalcon
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FWIW, the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon does not state “five books of Moses” (1 Ne 5:11), but just “the book of Moses,” suggesting perhaps that the word “five” was added later by Joseph Smith, not necessarily as an inspired recovery, but simply because in light of his understanding of the Bible he had at the time, it made grammatical sense.

But that's neither here nor there.

I do like your insight, however, Jean Valjean [Smile]

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Taalcon
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Love this that is placed on the Newsroom FAQ, and think it's relevant:

quote:
Do Latter-day Saints believe that the apostles receive revelations from God?
Yes. When Latter-day Saints speak to God, they call it prayer. When God responds through the influence of the Holy Spirit, members refer to this as revelation. Revelation, in its broad meaning, is divine guidance or inspiration; it is the communication of truth and knowledge from God to His children on earth, suited to their language and understanding. It simply means to uncover something not yet known. The Bible illustrates different types of revelation, ranging from dramatic visions to gentle feelings — from the “burning bush” to the “still, small voice.” Mormons generally believe that divine guidance comes quietly, taking the form of impressions, thoughts and feelings carried by the Spirit of God.

Most often, revelation unfolds as an ongoing, prayerful dialogue with God: A problem arises, its dimensions are studied out, a question is asked, and if we have sufficient faith, God leads us to answers, either partial or full. Though ultimately a spiritual experience, revelation also requires careful thought. God does not simply hand down information. He expects us to figure things out through prayerful searching and sound thinking.

The First Presidency (consisting of the president or prophet of the Church and his two counselors) and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles receive inspiration to guide the Church as a whole. Individuals are also inspired with revelation regarding how to conduct their lives and help serve others.


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scruffydog
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M Valjean, I think that you are onto something there. When the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt, in Nehemiah 8, the book of the law of Moses is read to the people by Ezra. The sense of this seems to me to be that they did not have access to the book of the law of Moses normally. The information that they find in the scriptures appears to be things that they didn't know before. There is a strong sense of scripture having been lost or ignored for generations. Obviously, this is long after the Nephites had left for the New World but it may indicate that the Jews had not been using the scriptures for a long time.
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Zeta-Flux
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Taalcon,

quote:
I suggest you check out papers such as Lester Bush's 1973 Mormonism's Negro Doctrine and Edward Kimball's Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood (both written by faithful members, the latter by President Kimball's son, and recently re=promoted by BYU Studies) - you will see both did fantastic jobs in showing the evidence how the past scriptural and folkloric explanations are completely untenable. And, in Edward Kimball's paper, it is shown how church leaders leading up to the 1978 revelation agreed with that. This is not simply a matter of opinion, it is a matter of record.

Have you read them? Are you willing to?

see also the review of , "Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery".

I believe I had read the first one previously, and a large portion of the second link. But I reread them again just to refresh my memory.

I think you may need to reread them also. Here are a few of quotations from the first article which mirror what I was saying earlier:

"That such statements exist and have not appeared in previous discussions of this problem, either within the Church or without, is an unfortunate commentary on the superficiality with which this subject traditionally has been approached."

"Though it is now popular among Mormons to argue that the basis for the priesthood denial to Negroes is unknown, no uncertainty was evident in the discourses of Brigham Young. From the initial remark in 1849 throughout his presidency, every known discussion of this subject by Young (or any other leading Mormon) invoked the connection with Cain as the justification for denying the priesthood to blacks. “Any man having one drop of the seed of Cain in him cannot receive the priesthood.” (1852);87 “When all the other children of Adam have had the privilege of receiving the Priesthood…. it will be time enough to remove the curse from Cain and his posterity”(1854);88 “Until the last ones of the residue of Adam’s children are brought up to that favourable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood” (1859);89 “When all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the Holy Priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain” (1886)."

"As relieved as the educated Mormon may be at not having to stand squarely behind the curse on Cain or a non sequitur from the Pearl of Great Price, nor ultimately to defend a specific role for blacks in the preexistence (e.g., “indifferent,” “not valiant”), there is little comfort to be taken in the realization that the entire history of this subject has been effectively declared irrelevant. For if the priesthood restriction now stands independently of the rationales that justified its original existence, the demonstration that these rationales may have been in error becomes an academic exercise."

You also said:

quote:

Curse of Cain/Ham is bad scriptural interpretation, and even worse history.

and

quote:
Curse of Cain, Curse of Ham as something that has anything to do with 19th-20th Century black Africans is completely indefensible. Period. Even (and perhaps especially) for those who hold a very literal and fundamentalist view of ancient scripture.
By what authority are you thrusting this down our throats? What makes you able to speak for the church when the church has not spoken on this issue?

Again, you need to reread that link you sent me. If you are merely arguing that the scriptures do not directly speak of the curse of Cain as being a curse on priesthood, you are correct. I agree with you there.

If, however, you are trying to argue that prophets, in their roles as prophets, did not teach it (independent of the scriptures), you are incorrect. If you are trying to argue that the scriptures never mention priesthood bans on lineages, you are definitely incorrect. Simply look for the phrase "right of priesthood".

But ignoring all of that, I frankly see no difference between the curse of Cain stuff (as I view it) and the Darius Gray private revelation about this all being a test and a calling. If a white man would say it (and, Br. Bott said something very similar) it is viewed as racist. The Book of Mormon says about the say thing about Adam's curse and the curse on the Lamanites.

So, anyway, stop trying to set yourself up as an authority on this topic and condemning others for not being so sure. Quit misrepresenting things as indefensible when they, frankly, are. Quit accusing others of being fundamentalist when they are simply doing what you yourself are doing; trying to come to an understanding.

[ March 08, 2012, 08:32 PM: Message edited by: Zeta-Flux ]

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Zeta-Flux
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The_Monk,

You said: "Taalcon is right on this. You can't find it in the scriptures unless you try to read it into them."

If by "it" you mean "the curse of Cain was a priesthood restriction" then you are correct. That was taught (at least initially) independently of the scriptures.

If by "it" you mean "any mention of a priesthood ban" then you are incorrect. For example Abraham 1:26-27 (the whole chapter talks about the right of priesthood):

Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.

Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry;

[ March 08, 2012, 08:39 PM: Message edited by: Zeta-Flux ]

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Jacaré
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Yes, but to draw a link between Pharaoh's priesthood ban and all black Africans and their descendents requires one to connect dots that aren't there.

[ March 08, 2012, 08:44 PM: Message edited by: Jacaré ]

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Zeta-Flux
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Josh,

quote:
my brain is fried surgery was not fun.....


So its not known where the ban came from, yet people have tried to excuse it over the years before and after the ban was lifted. The Church statement basically says stop teaching the excuses, and we don't know how and why the ban came into existence.

I am all good so far, its just I have issues with individuals calling the prophets that ignored or attempted to excuse the ban racist.

Sorry about your surgery.

You almost got it right. It is not known the precise reasons for the ban, but the historical reasons are clear. Brigham Young started it.

Many false teachings arose to try and explain it, such as less valiance in the premortal world. These have been specifically invalidated, and the church's official stance is that God has not revealed why God authorized it (and/or just permitted it).

Cheers,
Zeta-Flux

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Zeta-Flux
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Jacare,

quote:
Yes, but to draw a link between Pharaoh's priesthood ban and all black Africans and their descendents requires one to connect dots that aren't there.
I agree. It was one of the nice things I came to understand after spending 2 hours reading the links Taalcon provided. Thank you for pointing that out. (The other big nice thing was reading about how Pres. Kimball presented the revelation to the General Authorities.)

I just wanted to point out that when people claim that there is no scriptural precedent for a ban on priesthood on a lineage, this is incorrect. (Personally, I agree with them when they say that the priesthood being restricted to the Levites does not count. That is not a ban.)

[ March 08, 2012, 08:53 PM: Message edited by: Zeta-Flux ]

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AndrewR
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quote:
(Personally, I agree with them when they say that the priesthood being restricted to the Levites does not count. That is not a ban.)


Really? You can find scriptural evidence that the Israelites had access to the Endowment, and being sealed for time and all eternity?

Of course it was a ban. They failed to have the higher law. The blessings (and it is the blessings that matter) of the priesthood were withdrawn (banned) from Israel.

Let's not try to rewrite too much history.

Andrew R.

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The_Monk
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Pharaoh was not a "ban." Hugh Nibley convincingly argued that priesthood came through paternal lines, but Pharaoh tried to claim it through his maternal line.

Regarding Levites, there's a huge difference between 1 in 12 tribes being granted priesthood (the one special kid in the room) vs everyone-having-priesthood-but-you, 1 in 12 being disallowed.

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Taalcon
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It has resurfaced in the public eye. And frankly, I think that was just what was needed. Many of us have been concerned about it for a while. The Church coming out and saying something publicly about it was a big catalyst for many in talking about the Elephant In The Room.

This is why it's very important, and personal, to me.

I'm in the process of preparing to adopt. We made clear that race and gender is not an issue at all for what child we will take, love, and make Our Child. Statistics show that because of our openness in options, there's a very good chance we'll get a black child. I'm thrilled.

The child will encounter racism in the world. That's a fact. I would hate for Church, a safe place, to be a place where he encountered it, with people still holding on to beliefs in racist doctrinal justifications, where people still believe that he looks the way he does because he is a carrying the mark of a curse of the descendant of The First Murder, and that his ancestors were cursed for thousands of years and held accountable for what those mythical people did.

I don't want him to grow up in a Church where still people are still permitted to believe that it was divine that even in the Restoration of All Things, a massive reboot on everything, the Gospel restored to all the world - God still felt the need to intentionally keep blessings away from just Black People, without explaining why, and letting his Prophets' racist comments and explanations stand uncontested with the implicit, "they might have been true, we just don't really exactly know".

I know some of you probably faithfully believed what was taught, and perhaps defended it on your missions, or to others, and may have even shared solemn testimony to someone that you knew the restriction was God's will. I can understand the heartbreaking ramification of realizing that perhaps you were wrong, and were teaching and bearing witness to an unfortunate and harmful falsehood. All while trying, deeply, to defend the Lord and His Church.

I am grateful I both grew up and joined the Church long after the Ban ended, and never felt the need to defend or justify it. I know that is not the case for many of you - you have felt the need to justify and defend it.

I'm sure Saul felt somewhat the same way when he had his Road to Damascus encounter. But then he got up, most likely re-read the scriptures with the new light and knowledge he had, and moved on, giving up most (but probably not all) of his past misconceptions.

I think a full official denouncement of the concept of divine inspiration for the Ban, if it comes, would be a Damascus experience for several.

To mix my analogies, it would cause many to choose to become either become Valjean or Javert (the literary characters, not any poster here [Wink] .

[ March 09, 2012, 11:09 AM: Message edited by: Taalcon ]

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Pink Floyd
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quote:
I don't want him to grow up in a Church where still people are still permitted to believe that it was divine that even in the Restoration of All Things, a massive reboot on everything, the Gospel restored to all the world - God still felt the need to intentionally keep blessings away from just Black People, without explaining why, and letting his Prophets' racist comments and explanations stand uncontested with the implicit, "they might have been true, we just don't really exactly know".
I really think you need to stop, Taalcon. I find your entire post deeply and personally offensive.

I live with your anticipated possible reality every day. Two years ago Pink Klark adopted a beautiful and very black daughter from Ethiopia. Last year I was given the very deep honor of holding her at the alter while she was sealed to him and thus to me. Please don't look down upon me as some person who needs "awakening," because I look at the teachings of the church on this matter differently than you do.

Believe it or not, I like you, am very grateful that my very beautiful Pink grandchild with a beautiful African name is part of my family because of the ordinances now available to her in the temple. Forever part of my family.

Don't you dare think I need any "Damascus" moment. I had it long ago. Like 1978.

[ March 09, 2012, 11:46 AM: Message edited by: Pink Floyd ]

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JennaDean
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There are lots of examples in the scriptures of the Lord saying that people would be blessed or cursed because of the actions of their ancestors -- for generations. I have never understood that, thought it to be unfair.
quote:
I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,
Deuteronomy 5:9, see also Mosiah 13:13, Exodus 20:5

I, the Lord, will avenge thee of thine enemy an hundred-fold;
And upon his children, and upon his children’s children of all them that hate me, unto the third and fourth generation.
D&C 98:45-46 see also D&C 105:30

And then if thou wilt spare him, thou shalt be rewarded for thy righteousness; and also thy children and thy children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.
D&C 98:30

The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
Numbers 14:18

Wherefore, for this cause hath the Lord God promised unto me that these things which I write shall be kept and preserved, and handed down unto my seed, from generation to generation, that the promise may be fulfilled unto Joseph, that his seed should never perish as long as the earth should stand.
2 Nephi 25:21

I point these out because it seems unfair to me to punish or reward people based on the actions, beliefs or faithfulness of their ancestors several generations back, but it seems that the Lord has set precedent by doing just that. The Lord promised Joseph that his seed would never perish. He promised to avenge the enemies of the saints for generations. These promises (and curses) were not based on people's faithfulness, but on the faithfulness or wickedness of their ancestors.

For those of you who don't believe the priesthood ban was of God because God would not punish whole generations of people for things they did not individually do -- what do we think of these verses? We cannot say they are not scriptural, and we cannot discount them as just ancient Old Testament weirdness; they are from all the books -- Bible, Book of Mormon, D&C. What do they say about God?

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Taalcon
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And then there's Ezekiel 18, which declares that only those who sin are accountable in terms of divine judgment for their own sins:

quote:
14 ¶Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not asuch like,

15 That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife,

16 Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment,

17 That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.

18 As for his father, because he acruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.

19 ¶Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.

20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bbear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

There is a huge difference in having someone necessarily living with and dealing with the consequences of someone's actions, and having a divine judgment enforced on you because of what an ancestor did. The first is a truth of nature. The last is despicable to me.
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Taalcon
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quote:
Don't you dare think I need any "Damascus" moment. I had it long ago. Like 1978.
Bro. Floyd, I never said that you needed one. I did not direct the post towards you. I did say, however, that such a firm pronouncement, very likely, "would be a Damascus experience for several."

I think you very much misinterpreted my intention and thoughts, and ask for you to re-read it, and then perhaps to clarify what you feel was offensive and uncalled for about what or how something was said.

[ March 09, 2012, 07:07 PM: Message edited by: Taalcon ]

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EDGJanitor
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quote:
I'm still scratching my head about everyone getting all up in arms over a restriction on a minority based on race (a restriction that has been lifted) and not about a restriction on a majority based on gender (a restriction that still exists.)

If we're truly about ending discrimination in this area, then we should be equally outraged by both.

Because many of us female types most emphatically DO NOT want the priesthood. My to do list keeps me up at night already thank you very much.

Now a janitorial note-
Several pages back I asked that we honor these statements. The discussion continued in the same vein.

I will say it again. STOP. The statements make it clear that we do not know why there was a ban. In fact, the one thing that we do know is that we do not.

Stop. Stop filling in the gaps with old debunked doctrine, new academic theories, or anything else.

We do not know. The church leadership released a statement that they do not know. I feel confident saying that no one here knows either.

Stop filling in the gaps. And most assuredly let's not fill in the gaps but being critical others or suggesting less than gracious things about others.

I don't know why there was a ban. I know that the day it ended, the little suburban mormon cul-de-sac where I lived erupted in a spontaneous party. We had root beer floats and the kids road up and day the middle of the road on their big wheels.

That was the experience of a lot of us who had lived with the ban.

And having lived with the ban, we are now asked to live with the understanding that we don't know why it happened.

We can do that.

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JennaDean
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That was my experience, too, Grace -- although on a much smaller scale, as we were the only Mormons in our neighborhood. I remember my father loudly cheering, and I asked about it, and was shocked to discover that the priesthood had not ALWAYS been available to all worthy men. I liked what the article said that was linked to a few pages ago -- that most Mormons rejoiced when the ban was lifted, which showed that most were really not racist, they were really following it just because they thought it was the Lord's will.

Perhaps my last post was unclear -- I am not trying to give any reasons for the ban, I just want to know how people reconcile scriptures like those in my post with scriptures in Taalcon's post following mine. I have never understood things like that.

Taalcon -- to be sure I understand you, let me share what I'm hearing you say:

  • You believe that the priesthood ban was not of God, it was instituted by fallible men.
  • You believe that other prophets continued the ban because they had inherited this tradition and assumed it was the Lord's will.
  • You believe the Lord allowed the ban to continue until a time when there had been enough concern and prayer about it that the apostles could reach unanimity, and then it was the Lord's will to end it.
So if these things are right, this is where my thoughts go from there:
  • It is easy to follow the prophets in matters that resonate with me, that I understand, and that just feel "right". But I have concerns about other doctrines that I do not understand, that do not just naturally feel "right", and that I currently accept not because I have faith in those particular doctrines but because I have faith that the church is led by Prophets who lead us according to the Lord's will.
  • Since the prophets have led us astray in the past, I cannot assume they are leading us right in these matters.
  • If I pray about these matters and cannot become convinced that they are right for any reason other than "follow the prophet, he knows the way," then it's possible the teachings are actually wrong, because the prophets are fallible and have in the past been wrong about at least one pretty important doctrine.
  • How long does one pray and ask, trying to get the answer that something is right that feels wrong, if one can't trust the answer to trust the prophet? When does one give up and say, "Nope, they're wrong, I don't have to follow them on this."
  • If the doctrines are wrong, then I have to either teach incorrect doctrine myself, or teach what my personal wisdom tells me is right, despite the fact that it is not what the church teaches, with all the risks of losing a calling and a temple recommend that entails.
  • If the prophets are teaching us incorrect doctrines, leading us to make choices that are not God's will, then it will make no difference what church I belong to -- because, as Joseph said, "they are all wrong together". Our church wouldn't have any more claim on having authority from God than any of the others.
Just a hypothetical here, because I don't believe this is what they are doing, but: How far do we follow the prophets if they completely reverse themselves and say that what was right is now wrong, and in fact has been wrong all along, and what was wrong is now right?
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Jim Clay
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JennaDean,
quote:
It is easy to follow the prophets in matters that resonate with me, that I understand, and that just feel "right". But I have concerns about other doctrines that I do not understand, that do not just naturally feel "right", and that I currently accept not because I have faith in those particular doctrines but because I have faith that the church is led by Prophets who lead us according to the Lord's will.
Okay.
quote:
Since the prophets have led us astray in the past, I cannot assume they are leading us right in these matters.
Yes.
quote:
If I pray about these matters and cannot become convinced that they are right for any reason other than "follow the prophet, he knows the way," then it's possible the teachings are actually wrong, because the prophets are fallible and have in the past been wrong about at least one pretty important doctrine.
Yes. Of course, we knew that to be true even before the priesthood ban.
quote:
How long does one pray and ask, trying to get the answer that something is right that feels wrong, if one can't trust the answer to trust the prophet? When does one give up and say, "Nope, they're wrong, I don't have to follow them on this."
You don't "have" to do anything. I think it is wisdom to follow the Prophet even if you believe he is wrong for a few reasons:
1) You may be wrong.
2) Unity is important.
3) If it matters, the Church will eventually get it right.

quote:
If the doctrines are wrong, then I have to either teach incorrect doctrine myself, or teach what my personal wisdom tells me is right, despite the fact that it is not what the church teaches, with all the risks of losing a calling and a temple recommend that entails.
I would suggest tact, careful wording, and teaching the official doctrine for the reasons outlined in my previous comment.
quote:
If the prophets are teaching us incorrect doctrines, leading us to make choices that are not God's will, then it will make no difference what church I belong to -- because, as Joseph said, "they are all wrong together". Our church wouldn't have any more claim on having authority from God than any of the others.
That seems like an incorrect conclusion to me. Authority does not imply being correct on every issue. Also, "degrees of correctness" matter.

Perhaps an analogy. Suppose you need to walk to a destination. Suppose in scenario "A" you get an initial look at the destination, and then for the rest of the journey you have to keep your eyes closed. That is religion without continuing revelation.

Scenario "B" is you get your initial glimpse and every 10 minutes you get to take another quick glimpse. That is religion with occasional doctrinal revelation, which is what we appear to have. Granted you are still going to hit trees and go somewhat astray at times, but you will eventually get there.

[ March 09, 2012, 03:06 PM: Message edited by: Jim Clay ]

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Taalcon
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There's a difference in actively doing something we are specifically instructed not to do, and not doing something we are instructed we are permitted to do.

For example, I never would have suggested that, under the official institutional ban, a Stake President, or Bishop, against policy, ordain someone they were specifically instructed not to.

If I didn't believe the Word of Wisdom was generally interpreted poorly, I wouldn't expect or advocate one to go against the standard taught and explained rules associated with it today, and expect to validly hold a Temple Recommend.

If, however, I was instructed to proactively do something, and I felt a strong moral conviction not to do that, I would need to take it to the Lord in prayer, and be obligated not to do such a thing until I received a confirmation that this direction was correct.

There are many traditional beliefs that are and have been repeated by GAs that I don't feel obligated to believe - there are no associated Temple Recommend or worthiness questions that take such details as those into consideration.

When I am instructed to teach a lesson from a manual that contains some ideas or examples that are suspect to me, I focus on teaching the material I do have a conviction for, and choose not to emphasize those things I do not feel I could honestly express that are in line with the assigned curriculum.

The point is, it's incredibly important to strive to gain a conviction - or testimony - of principles that are taught, by independent confirmation. While I can express my conviction that a leader is called of God, I can't always express a conviction that every idea out of their mouth is The Word of God. I strive very hard to work out and contemplate what is said, to understand, and to see how I can work it into what I already know and understand, and how I may have to readjust some assumptions. This has happened. Other times, I don't feel any compulsion to alter a belief based on a particular statement in a single talk.

I don't advocate 'going rogue', or 'rebelling'. I do, however, advocate studying, pondering, and seeking confirmation of all that is heard.

I don't think 'That doesn't make sense' is a valid reason to reject instruction, but a very strong and deep moral conviction that, even when approached with sincere questioning and prayer isn't overturned by the spirit of confirmation, is a valid and proper reason to hesitate. Which again, is different than acting proactively contrary to the counsel.

Using the earlier analogy, do all you can to stay in the car. You may not like the ride, but as long as you know the Car is the best way to get where you want to be, you're going to have to stay along with the car and its authorized driver. Even when he makes wrong turns, and at time may make you want to hurl out the window. You don't always have to agree with the driver, but you do what you need to do to stay in the car. Because of faith that even with all its troubles and bumps and scrapes, the car won't get stuck in the ditch.

[ March 09, 2012, 03:09 PM: Message edited by: Taalcon ]

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FlyByNight
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quote:
what do we think of these verses?
I have thought about the mechanism by which such a curse would come about. My thinking is that the fathers so thoroughly turned the back on God, that their children learned to hate God from their fathers, and so on for as many generations as they would keep up that tradition. I see that happening today.

Also, we all know that every person on the Earth can be prompted by the holy spirit. My wife served a mission in a part of the Ohio valley. I don't know the details but Joseph Smith "dusted his feet" when leaving that area. And while my wife was on her mission Hinckley came and lifted that curse. I believe that curse was put in effect by the removal of the Holy Ghost from that area, unless a person in that area had the gift of the Holy Ghost. My wife said that interest spiked right after that curse was removed.

So, a child taught by the wandering parent, coupled with the presence of the Holy Ghost being removed would easily accomplish that curse.

However, just as in that Santa movie, people eventually forget why the Burger MeisterBurger banned the toys. And they find the traditions of their fathers to be without merit.

However, just as my wife had the occasional baptism in her mission area before the curse was removed. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if someone in the area sought God, God accepted them. The scriptures are also filled with scriptures like unto "yet my arm is extended."

So, when I read of a curse like that, I imagine a situation like this where as a group God's presence is hard to find. However, if an individual in that group sought God, God would accept him.

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Taalcon
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I wouldn't be surprised if a big part of President Hinckley 'removing the Curse' in your mission story was so Missionaries, local leaders, etc wouldn't be all, "What's the point in trying here? We're taught this place is cursed, so what's the point?" - sometimes there's powerful psychological value in publicly announcing the removal of something that may not even actually have been there to begin with, just because people believed it was there, and adjusted or restrained their actions and expectations accordingly.

[ March 09, 2012, 03:41 PM: Message edited by: Taalcon ]

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FlyByNight
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If a people behave as if they are cursed are they less cursed?

Or to put it another way: Does it matter how the curse is implemented?

[ March 09, 2012, 03:45 PM: Message edited by: FlyByNight ]

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scruffydog
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Jenna, pure speculation on my part (sorry, O glorious EDJ-lady) but to me the way it works is that if you follow the Prophet and it was wrong, the fault lies with him. If you don't follow the Prophet and what you do is wrong, then the fault lies with you. You always have the choice of not following the Prophet, but if you make that choice, you need to be aware that you are taking any faults upon yourself.

Following the Prophet is a safe way to live our lives, and it works for most people. When we look at the Church today, that choice hasn't worked out too badly. Obviously, there may have been things that some of us wish had been different in the past, but all in all, the Church as it is today seems to be a pretty darned wonderful institution.

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Taalcon
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In other words, it's better to be in a position where you say, "Yep, driver, you really did take a wrong turn there back in Cincinatti, and it took us longer than it could have, but at least we're back on track now", than to have jumped ship at the first sign of a wrong path, and now be left alone in your own uninsured car...
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