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Sunday, April 23, 2017

In Mormondom, Context is Often as Important as Content

Church History Library across the street from Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
 © 2010 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. Accessed
April 23, 2017 from Mormon Newsroom.
As a guest blogger on Jana Riess's Religion News Service's (RNS) site, Flunking SainthoodMette Ivie Harrison argues with the long dead ghost of Bruce R. McConkie. The article entitled, "Do Mormons worship Jesus Christ?" picks apart an address given by McConkie on the campus of BYU back in 1982.

There is one glaring problem. The address was context specific and cannot be explained outside that context. Harrison tries, but fails miserably. If you were not on campus during this time period and didn't enroll in a particular class by a particular professor, you will likely wander in darkness trying to explain this address.

The Church warns against this sort of thing. Some addresses are specific to the intended audience and can easily be misconstrued if someone does not understand the background behind them.

Harrison turned 12 years old in 1982 and Riess was 13. I think we can safely say that neither was present on BYU's campus, either right before or right after McConkie gave his address. I was.

Harrison examines the address with a modern lens. Besides, did she think this address simply got by scholars, administrators, faculty and students at BYU at the time? It was likely viewed in real time by thousands.

Just about any analysis can get twisted because of a large time gap between when the event occurred and when it gets evaluated. From my existence on the planet, I'm old enough to see some really bizarre conclusions when content is evaluated outside its context.

I'm not going to elaborate on just what the context was of McConkie's address. There are a number of different facets and I don't think I can adequately explain them all now. There was some damage that resulted from it, but not necessarily from McConkie's actual words. It was inferences that caused the damage.

None of this needs to be rehashed or relived. The time has past and McConkie's address is no longer relevant or helpful to us now.

We have plenty of scripture and General Conference teachings of Jesus Christ. We don't need Harrison beating a long dead horse and trying to reinvigorate life that is better off left alone. She should have "kicked it to the curb" herself.

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