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Mormonism and church leadership/Criticisms/Paul H. Dunn's baseball and war stories
Paul H. Dunn's stories about baseball and World War IISummary: Elder Paul H. Dunn was a very popular speaker who told many faith-promoting stories about his days playing baseball and his service in World War II. It was eventually discovered that Elder Dunn had exaggerated and conflated elements of his stories.
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- Question: Who was Paul H. Dunn and what happened to him?
- Question: Many who listened to Elder Dunn's stories felt the spirit. Why would one feel the spirit upon hearing a story that was fabricated? Doesn't this confirm a lie?
- Question: Why did Elder Dunn exaggerate elements of these stories?
Question: Who was Paul H. Dunn and what happened to him?
Elder Paul H. Dunn was a very popular speaker who told many faith-promoting stories about his days playing baseball and his service in World War II
Elder Paul H. Dunn was a very popular speaker during the 1970's and 1980's who told many faith-promoting stories about his days playing baseball and his service in World War II. Many people were inspired by his stories, and he was in much demand as a speaker. It was eventually discovered that Elder Dunn had exaggerated and conflated elements of his stories. He was given emeritus status as a General Authority on October 1, 1989.
Question: Many who listened to Elder Dunn's stories felt the spirit. Why would one feel the spirit upon hearing a story that was fabricated? Doesn't this confirm a lie?
Simply receiving a warm feeling about a speech or article is not enough to call it revelation or a confirmation of the spirit
It should be noted that those who bring up this criticism frequently do not bring up accounts to be examined of these experiences. But given what we can know right now, the answer to this question is near identical to that given for why we might feel the spirit while we watched a movie or read a fictional work. Simply put, a spiritual revelation is both a inspiration or revelation to the mind and a phenomenon (not just a feeling or emotion) in the heart. Additionally, many can describe themselves as feeling the spirit in a passive way as an abiding peace when one is doing what is right or in the presence of something good. It’s not surprising. We may be feeling the Spirit that is supposed to be with us as we live up to sacrament covenants (Moroni 4,5). We are encouraged to seek after all good things (A of F 1:13) and all good things come from God (Moroni 7:12). Or, when one is trying to receive revelation, they can feel it in a more dynamic way. If those that felt the spirit from these events felt it in a dynamic way where it was giving them inspiration or revelation, then it could have been thoughts to the mind about the importance of courage, or other revelation tailored to their life. But the point is that confirmation from the spirit (as part of a more dynamic influence) is going to be something manifested as both knowledge and a phenomenon. Spiritual epistemology is something that involves all of our faculties (See also Alma 32:27). It is a complex interaction between and evaluation of the thoughts of our mind , the feelings of our heart, the health of our body, the light of Christ, everything that God has deemed good in the world, and the outside influence of the Holy Ghost. We need to be careful to evaluate those impressions carefully. The key is to pay attention to both our mind and our heart (D&C 8:2) when discerning the Spirit's influences.
Question: Why did Elder Dunn exaggerate elements of these stories?
Elder Dunn responded to this issue himself
Regarding Elder Dunn's stories: he was human, just like the rest of us. He can speak for himself on this issue: "Elder Dunn Offers Apology for Errors, Admits Censure", Deseret News, Oct. 27 1991.
In an open letter to LDS Church members, Elder Paul H. Dunn apologized Saturday for not having "always been accurate" in telling his popular war and baseball stories, and he acknowledged being disciplined for it by church authorities.
Elder Dunn, an emeritus member of the First Quorum of Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, asked the church's First Presidency and Council of the Twelve for the opportunity to send an open letter to church members. The letter was published in Saturday's issue of the Church News."I confess that I have not always been accurate in my public talks and writings," Elder Dunn wrote. "Furthermore, I have indulged in other activities inconsistent with the high and sacred office which I have held.
"For all of these I feel a deep sense of remorse, and ask forgiveness of any whom I may have offended."
A former Army private and minor-league baseball player, Elder Dunn told riveting accounts of his war and baseball experiences that made him one of the most popular speakers in the church. According to the Associated Press, he was author or co-author of 28 books and is featured on 23 inspirational tapes. He served in the presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy from 1976 to 1980.
In 1989, Elder Dunn was placed on emeritus status for "reasons of age and health," the church said. In February 1991, the Arizona Republic reported that Elder Dunn had made up or combined elements of many of his war and baseball stories.
In his open letter, Elder Dunn, 67, said general authorities of the church have conducted in-depth investigations of charges that he had engaged in activities unbecoming of a church member.
"They have weighed the evidence," he said. "They have censured me and placed a heavy penalty upon me.
"I accept their censure and the imposed penalty, and pledge to conduct my life in such a way as to merit their confidence and full fellowship."
Church spokesman Don LeFevre said Saturday that the nature of the penalty is "an internal matter, and we don't discuss such matters" publicly.
Elder Dunn has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment. He concluded his letter by pleading for the understanding of church members and assured them of his "determination so to live as to bring added respect to the cause I deeply love, and honor to the Lord who is my Redeemer."