LATIN – apologeticus GREEK – apologetikos Apologetics: “The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2009).
- MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT. FAIR President Scott Gordon recaps this year’s conference and comments on the recently released movie “September Dawn.”
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. The recent release of “September Dawn” has been overwhelmingly rejected by critics as inaccurate, biased, and polemic in nature and tone.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. Laurie Maffly-Kipp discusses how Mormon doctrines and attitudes affect LDS approaches to political issues.
- ASK THE APOLOGIST. Got a question you are dying to ask? Here’s how.
- FAIR TOPICAL GUIDE. The Topical Guide on the FAIR Web site is one of the most popular resources offered. Learn what is available and help us expand our references.
- FAIR WIKI. The FAIR Wiki is an excellent resource for someone looking for a summary of an issue and for pointers to more detailed information.
- FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE. Expand your libary with this month’s specials in the FAIR Bookstore.
- ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS. Interested in writing for FAIR? Learn how you can have your apologetics work published.
- PUBLISHING NOTES. Learn how you can become more involved in FAIR and how you can reuse the material we publish.
- FAIR JOURNAL ARCHIVES. All of the FAIR Journal issues since October 2001 are on the FAIR web site.
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
We completed another FAIR Conference with record attendance and a wonderful group of speakers. The Church News covered the conference in its August 11 edition with excellent summaries of a few of the talks.
FAIR volunteers put in many hours to ensure everything went as planned. Now they are working trying to put the talks into a format that can be shared over the Internet.
We had many returning visitors to the conference. This was the second year in a row that Clive Glenister came from the UK to attend, and there were many more like Clive. The pattern seems to be that once people attend the FAIR Conference they want to come back. Several people at the conference were on a first-name basis even though they live thousands of miles away and see each other only once a year. We had conference attendees from England, France, Sweden, Canada, and many different states in the US.
One first-year attendee reported, “The FAIR Conference is better than BYU Education Week, because it isn’t just light stuff. It goes beyond what you would find in a Sunday School manual.”
You can read the Deseret News article on the FAIR Conference.
You can read the Deseret news article on the video “Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons” that was shown at the FAIR Conference.
The Daily Herald’s article on the FAIR Conference can be read.
We have already started working towards next year’s conference, so mark your calendars. We are planning the 2008 FAIR Conference for the first Thursday and Friday in August, August 7 and 8. It will be well worth your time.
–Scott Gordon President
FAIR is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, so if you are in the United States, your donation is tax deductible. Without your donations, FAIR would cease to exist. Thank you for your support.
You can also contact FAIR via the U.S. Postal Service using the following address. (NOTE: This is a new mailing address for FAIR.)
FAIR P.O. Box 491677 Redding, CA 96049-1677
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: CRITICS RESPOND TO “SEPTEMBER DAWN”
September Dawn, the long-promised movie which uses the Mountain Meadows Massacre as a backdrop, was finally released into theaters this past week, and the majority of the reviews are not kind.
“Zero stars” says Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid (24 August 2007). “If the Western genre is struggling, it’s because of terrible movies like this one.”
Jack Matthews of the New York Daily News (24 August 2007) writes,”…disturbingly awful… ‘September Dawn,’ written by an evangelical Christian, may be the worst historical drama ever made.”
Richard Nielson of The Arizona Republic (24 August 2007) writes, “Mormons no doubt will feel personally attacked, and they should.”
Brett Register of the Orlando Weekly (23 August 2007) writes, “The jarring MTV-style filmmaking is so distracting and the ‘messaging’ so unsubtle that after two long hours you find yourself leaving the theater with a massive headache, wondering when you started to hate Mormons.”
The film review Web site Rotten Tomatoes includes the following comments by critics.
[Director Cain] stops short of calling Osama bin Laden a Mormon sympathizer, but maybe that’ll be on the DVD. (Adam Graham, Detroit News) September Dawn has the ham-fisted lyricism of political ads and pharmaceutical commercials. (J. Hoberman, Village Voice) It’s a toss-up as to whether September Dawn is more offensive as history, as allegory or simply as lousy self-important filmmaking. (Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress) Cain has co-written and directed a film that only the most bigoted of Mormon detractors could enjoy. Most viewers, if any are willing to part with their money or time, will simply laugh derisively. (Dan Lybarger, Efilmcritic.com) It has the chilling certitude of the self-righteous. (Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel) Forget Grindhouse. September Dawn is the year’s first honest-to-goodness exploitation flick. (Nick Schager, Slant Magazine)
The film’s badness has given critics a wonderful target for humorous jabs and jeers. Roger Ebert exercises his considerable wit with comments such as the following.
“The Mormons are presented in no better light than Nazis and Japanese were in Hollywood’s World War II films. Wasn’t there a more thoughtful and insightful way to consider this historical event? Or how about a different event altogether? What about the Donner Party? They may have been cannibals, but at least they were nondenominational.”
Ebert’s entire review can be read at:
Roger Ebert, “September Dawn”, Chicago Sun-Times, August 24, 2007
If you would like to read more comments on the film, or if you need a place to show your neighbors what the world thinks of the film, you can see it on our FAIR wiki, here:
September Dawn—”When an independent film company produced a grossly distorted version of the Mountain Meadows Massacre two years ago, the Church ignored it. Perhaps partly as a result of that refusal to engender the controversy that the producers hoped for, the movie flopped at the box office and lost millions.” (The Publicity Dilemma, LDS Newsroom, March 9, 2009.) (Link)
In recent days we have seen a flustered author of the film suggest that the overwhelming rejection and ridiculing of September Dawn must be part of an official Mormon conspiracy to control and manipulate the American movie critic industry. Although this amusing conspiracy theory has been picked up and discussed by some disgruntled critics of the Church, it remains to be seen if it will garner the critical mass needed to sustain it as an enduring urban legend along side of other silly accusations such as the Mormon church owning Coca Cola or the Washington Temple having a replica of the Oval Office in preparation for a Mormon takeover of the US government.
This new conspiracy theory has been greeted with amusement by most LDS. When hearing about this conspiracy theory, one LDS wrote jokingly (referring to the film’s terrible 16% approval rating on one Web site),
Brother Ebert is a reliable foot soldier in our war against the Gentiles. When, in a conference call with all of our movie critics, President Hinckley issued the order, “Mormons, do your duty!” and 84% answered, “We hear and obey!” Brother Ebert’s voice was the loudest and the most resolute. In the coming revolution, I suspect he’ll be given more than the usual number of Gentile houses and concubines. Truly, his reward shall be great.
The film director claims no anti-Mormon bias, but it seems that one organization by the name of “WingClips” offers clips from the movie to “use in your church, school or other non-profit organization for FREE.” Along with these allegedly inspirational clips they write,
“The film is primarily driven by a Romeo and Juliet-type love story, which helps to better understand the disparity in values and ideals between the Mormons and the Christian settlers. The filmmakers pull no punches in exposing the violent and immoral foundation that the Mormon religion was built upon.”
If you would like to get a taste of what is described as “Movie clips that illustrate and inspire” you can view them here, but be forewarned that you will be watching an example of anti-Mormon bigotry.
The Mountain Meadows massacre was a terrible thing. And no one should make excuses for what happened. But if you want more accurate information about the event and to be better informed, you can find the information on the FAIR wiki page.
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: “A MORMON PRESIDENT? THE LDS DIFFERENCE”
This year we have seen a flood of articles about Mormons and politics. These articles have appeared because Mitt Romney’s bid for the White House has spark an intense discussion of how the religious views of an LDS politician affect his or her position on criticals issues.
Dr. Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, a member of the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has written a particularly insightful essay that seems to capture the nuances and complexities of LDS teachings and practices. Maffly-Kipp focuses on three critical areas: religious authority, moral values, and attitudes concerning church and state. Within these areas she explores the wide range of beliefs and practices among Latter-day Saints that inevitably arises from the LDS emphasis on moral agency.
“In 1845, Mormons left the U.S. for the western territories so that they could practice their religion freely. America followed them, annexed the territories and once again persecuted them on religious grounds. Now, in the early 21st century, Mormons are part of the American mainstream as educators, bankers, businesspeople and politicians. Have we moved beyond the questions forced on Senator Reed Smoot? Or do we still interpret Mormon insularity and secrecy, so understandable given LDS history, as a mark of disloyalty, disrespect or ill intent? Mitt Romney’s candidacy is testing these boundaries once again.”
Read the article:
Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, A Mormon president? The LDS difference, The Christian Century, Aug 21, 2007.
ASK THE APOLOGIST
FAIR invites the public to submit questions relating to LDS beliefs, practices, and history. Some questions are asked sincerely by members and investigators, others are clearly hostile questions challenging the veracity of the Church and its teachings. Many of these responses may end up on the Web site as a FAIR paper or brochure. If you have a question, you may submit it through the FAIR web site.
Questions sent to FAIR will be shared with members of FAIR, so it is not uncommon to receive several responses that approach the issue from different angles.
FAIR TOPICAL GUIDE
The Topical Guide is one of the most important LDS apologetic resources available. If you aren’t familiar with this part of FAIR’s Web site, check it out at
The following are the Topical Guide updates for the month.
Warren P. Aston, “Newly Found Altars from Nahom,” JBMS 10:2 (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2001), 57-61
Aston reports on his examination of the ancient NHM altars and how they relate to Book of Mormon archaeology.
Various FAIR wiki editors “FAIR Wiki on the First Vision”
The FAIR wiki page has been updated to include many additional links that respond to nearly every aspect and criticism relating to the First Vision.
Richard E. Turley, Jr., “The Mountain Meadows Massacre,” Ensign, September 2007, 14-21
In a recent Ensign article, professional historian Richard Turley talks about the events and environment that led to the Mountain Meadows Massacre. He talks about who was involved as well as who was not.
“The Mountain Meadows Massacre,” LDS.org
A press release on the Mountain Meadows Massacre was recently posted on the Church’s web site (note that this is the same as the Ensign article).
Diane E. Wirth, “Queztlcoatl, the Maya Maize God, and Jesus Christ,” JBMS 11:1 (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2002), 4-15
Wirth looks at the early American traditions about Quetzlcoatl and how this deity may correlate to the Book of Mormon’s event regarding the appearance of Jesus Christ to the inhabitants of the New World.
Ehab Abunuwara, “Into the Desert: An Arab View of the Book of Mormon,” JBMS 11:1 (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2002), 60-65
As an Arab convert to the Church, Abunuwara talks about how the Book of Mormon’s Lehite journey matches the culture of his ancestors.
The FAIR Wiki project was started in 2006 to provide a more flexible and searchable resource for Latter-day Saints and others to get answers to Gospel questions. The Wiki is by design always a “work in progress,” with many editors at FAIR contributing to articles on a daily basis. You can access the FAIR Wiki at:
This month we would like to highlight the recent changes to the article on the First Vision. Joseph Smith’s First Vision is one of the most frequently attacked events in LDS history. From that single event Latter-day Saints derive doctrines relating to the Great Apostacy, the Restoration, continuing revelation, and the nature of God. Over the years critics have tried every tactic to attack the First Vision, including denying its historicity, claiming satanic origins, and attacking specific doctrines that derive from it.
The FAIR Wiki article on the First Vision now includes three additional sections. Each section represents a general class of issues or topics. Within each section there is a list of specific issues and a link to a FAIR Wiki article that responds to that issue. Those wiki articles in turn will give an overview of the arguments and responses related to that topic and will provide many links to online and in-print resources.
The three new sections of the wiki article are: Specific First Vision issues: 18 topics 1832 account issues: 11 topics Other individuals’ accounts of the First Vision: 15 topics
Check out this page and other resources on the FAIR wiki.
FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE
Take a look at this month’s specials and take advantage of these great savings!
People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture
Dr. Terryl Givens, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007, 6×9″ hardbound, 432 pages.
Terryl Givens traces the rise and development of Mormon Culture from the days of Joseph Smith in upstate New York, through Brigham Young’s founding of the Territory of Deseret on the shores of Great Salt Lake, to the spread of the Latter-day Saints around the globe. Mormonism has never been more prominent in public life. But there is a rich inner life beneath the public surface, one deftly captured in this sympathetic, nuanced account by a leading authority on Mormon history and thought.
You can purchase this book for $23.96, 20% off its retail price. (It is regularly $29.95.)
The Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Edition
Edited by Grant Hardy, University of Illinois Press, 2005, softbound, 736 pages.
This great reader-friendly version of our familiar scripture reformats the complete, unchanged 1920 text in the manner of modern translations of the Bible, with paragraphs, quotations marks, poetic forms, topical headings, multichapter headings, indention of quoted documents, italicized reworkings of biblical prophecies, and minimized verse numbers. The book has charts, maps, and a glossary of names. If you’ve never seen this book before, it will provide you with new insights into the Book of Mormon.
You can purchase this book for $17.47, 30% off its retail price. (It is regularly $24.95.)
Latter-day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament
Ellis T. Rasmussen, Salt Lake City: Desert Book Company, 1993, softbound, 718 pages.
Encountering a certain Ethiopian who was reading from the scroll of Isaiah, Philip asked, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” The man replied, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” (Acts 8:30-31).
Who hasn’t yearned for a reliable guide while exploring the scriptures–especially when lost in the bewildering landscape of the Old Testament, where there is much to wonder about? In this classic commentary, now available in this paperback edition, Ellis T. Rasmussen ably guides us through a reading of the Old Testament. His explanations will be welcomed by those taking a tentative first step into the ancient writings. But they will also be welcomed by more seasoned travelers–those already familiar with the terrain–who seek added meaning, deeper insights, and broader applications in their study of the Old Testament.
You can purchase this book for $15.37, 30% off its retail price. (It is regularly $21.95.)
We want to help you find what you need in the FAIR Bookstore!
–FAIR Bookstore Volunteers
We welcome article submissions for the FAIR Web site. If you would like to submit an article, please review the editing guidelines at:
Submit your article to the FAIR Journal Editor. An appropriate article would be one that affirms the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
While LDS apologetics (in the broadest sense) deals with refuting critics of the Church, articles don’t necessarily have to deal with anti-Mormonism, but may deal with some new evidence of the Book of Mormon, some interesting scripture interpretation, a viewpoint or quote from the early Christian Fathers or other historical figure, an interesting lesson idea, an inspiring missionary story, Church history, or your view on a current event related to the Church or a piece from a historical journal.
We may also accept articles from people who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that may not necessarily meet the guidelines of supporting the church if it is a topic of general interest to people involved in apologetics.
A submission may range in length from several pages to a single paragraph.
FAIR is not owned, controlled by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All research and opinions provided in the FAIR Journal and on the FAIR Web site (http://www.fairlds.org) are the sole responsibility of FAIR, and should not be interpreted as official statements of LDS doctrine, belief or practice.
If someone has forwarded this e-journal to you and you would like to join you should go to www.fairlds.org and click on the FAIR Publications link.
If you are very interested in apologetics and would like to actively participate in FAIR you should consider joining our apologetics e-mail list. Visit www.fairlds.org and click on the Join FAIR link to join this list.
If you manage your own e-mail list, and wish to include some of these thoughts or articles on your list, contact us through our Web site, at this page: www.fairlds.org/contact.psp. We have a fairly liberal policy of using our material so long as you contact us first to gain permission and clearly identify that your source was FAIR and by adding a link to the FAIR Web site (www.fairlds.org).
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To return to the index of past FAIR Journal issues, click here.