What’s Eating Jeffrey Holland?

A lot of people have been talking about Jeffrey Holland’s broadcast, “An Evening with a General Authority.” Much has been said about the content, but I am going to talk about the tone, which I found a little unsettling. I’m sure some would say, “The guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center” (1 Nephi 16:2). But that’s not really it.

I’ve always liked Jeffrey Holland since my time at Brigham Young University, when he was the university’s president. I met him once during that time when I was working in the Reading/Writing Center in the Jesse Knight Building. A water pipe had burst in the ceiling above the area in which I was assigned to work, so I was sitting there studying and keeping watch over a bank of computers that were drying in front of fans. He came in to inspect the damage, and I had a brief but cordial conversation with him, not just about the damage to the computers but also about my studies and plans for the future. I enjoyed what was casually referred to as “The Pat and Jeff Show,” a joint devotional he and his wife would give at the beginning of every semester. I recall Sister Holland’s horror when the off-campus paper, The Student Review, followed her at a supermarket and published the contents of her grocery cart, which included a pint of coffee ice cream. I liked both of them because they seemed down to earth and quite comfortable being human, and they clearly cared about the student body. He spoke at my commencement when I received my bachelor’s degree and then a few years later, he spoke as an apostle at the commencement when I received my master’s degree. Over the years I’ve enjoyed the conference talks he has given as an apostle, as he is clearly well-read and always came across as thoughtful and caring.

I was really taken aback in 2009 when he gave a talk called “Safety for the Soul,” in which his intent appeared to be to deliver a stirring testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon. Let me quote from his talk:

May I refer to a modern “last days” testimony? When Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum started for Carthage to face what they knew would be an imminent martyrdom, Hyrum read these words to comfort the heart of his brother:

“Thou hast been faithful; wherefore … thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.

“And now I, Moroni, bid farewell … until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ.” 7

A few short verses from the 12th chapter of Ether in the Book of Mormon. Before closing the book, Hyrum turned down the corner of the page from which he had read, marking it as part of the everlasting testimony for which these two brothers were about to die. I hold in my hand that book, the very copy from which Hyrum read, the same corner of the page turned down, still visible. Later, when actually incarcerated in the jail, Joseph the Prophet turned to the guards who held him captive and bore a powerful testimony of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Shortly thereafter pistol and ball would take the lives of these two testators.

As one of a thousand elements of my own testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon, I submit this as yet one more evidence of its truthfulness. In this their greatest—and last—hour of need, I ask you: would these men blaspheme before God by continuing to fix their lives, their honor, and their own search for eternal salvation on a book (and by implication a church and a ministry) they had fictitiously created out of whole cloth?

The implication is clear and need not be stated: People who know they are at death’s door do not tend to reiterate their testimony of something they know is a fraud. Posing such a rhetorical question would have been clear and direct. Curiously, however, Elder Holland doesn’t leave the implication unsaid.

Never mind that their wives are about to be widows and their children fatherless. Never mind that their little band of followers will yet be “houseless, friendless and homeless” and that their children will leave footprints of blood across frozen rivers and an untamed prairie floor. Never mind that legions will die and other legions live declaring in the four quarters of this earth that they know the Book of Mormon and the Church which espouses it to be true. Disregard all of that, and tell me whether in this hour of death these two men would enter the presence of their Eternal Judge quoting from and finding solace in a book which, if not the very word of God, would brand them as imposters and charlatans until the end of time? They would not do that! They were willing to die rather than deny the divine origin and the eternal truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. (Emphasis in original)

It seems that he doesn’t trust his audience to understand his point. And to further underline, his voice rises in passion and what I can only describe as a mixture of anger, defensiveness, and contempt for critics:

For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history—perhaps like no other book in any religious history. And still it stands. Failed theories about its origins have been born and parroted and have died—from Ethan Smith to Solomon Spaulding to deranged paranoid to cunning genius. None of these frankly pathetic answers for this book has ever withstood examination because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young unlearned translator. In this I stand with my own great-grandfather, who said simply enough, “No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.”

I testify that one cannot come to full faith in this latter-day work—and thereby find the fullest measure of peace and comfort in these, our times—until he or she embraces the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it testifies. If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages—especially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers—if that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit. In that sense the book is what Christ Himself was said to be: “a stone of stumbling, … a rock of offence,” a barrier in the path of one who wishes not to believe in this work. Witnesses, even witnesses who were for a time hostile to Joseph, testified to their death that they had seen an angel and had handled the plates. “They have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man,” they declared. “Wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.” (Emphasis in original)

I thought this was downright strange and still do. He has abandoned bearing a positive testimony and instead has turned an accusing and angry eye to those who would dare question the book’s divinity. It’s no longer the book he is defending, but instead he is directly berating “anyone [who] is foolish enough or misled to reject” the Book of Mormon. He almost taunts those who have left the church for “crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit,” as if they were snakes or lizards furtively slithering their way to the door of the church. He leaves no question in his listeners’ minds: there are no legitimate grounds for disbelieving the Book of Mormon. Those who disbelieve, he tells us, are pathetic, foolish, misled, incapable of recognizing the book’s “literary and Semitic complexity” (OK, that made me chuckle), offended, deceived, and worse even than those who were hostile to Joseph Smith in his lifetime.

I know a lot of people who found Elder Holland’s remarks offensive and divisive. For me, the words and the tone were mystifying. They came across not as forceful and determined, as I’m sure he intended, but rather defensive and more than a little angry and contemptuous. I really didn’t know what to make of it.

Then I saw him later in an interview with the BBC in 2012, when at first he was pretty evasive when asked about the obvious mistranslation of the Egyptian papyri and Joseph Smith’s criminal record. His answers were about what I expected. As far as the Book of Abraham, he said, “All I’m saying is that what got translated, got translated into the word of God. The vehicle for that I do not understand and don’t claim to know and know no Egyptian.” That’s pretty much the only honest response that can be made, given the obvious mistranslations. When asked about Smith’s conviction for fraud (“juggling” and “glass-looking”), he said, “I have no idea. … There’s a good deal of difficulty in the early frontier life in America, but that’s an incidental matter to the character and integrity of the man.” This is just weird: He says he doesn’t know anything about such a conviction (somehow I doubt that) and then in the same breath says a conviction for fraud is a trivial matter and doesn’t have anything to do with Smith’s character. Really?

After my friend Jeff Ricks explained to the interviewer about the nature of the penalties involved in the temple endowment before 1990, the interviewer asked Holland a really blunt question:

As a Mormon, in the temple, I’ve been told [Mitt Romney] would have sworn an oath to say that he would not pass on what happens in the temple, lest he slit his throat. Is that true?

The truthful answer to this is, “Yes.” Mitt Romney received his endowment in the 1960s and would have repeated the ceremony many times, each time miming the slitting of his throat and saying, “I covenant that I will never reveal” the signs and tokens of the temple. “Rather than do so, I would suffer my life to be taken.” I did this countless times myself. Knowing this, I wondered how Holland would reply. Would he simply acknowledge it and move on, or would he say something about how Mormons don’t talk about sacred matters in public? What he said was startling.

That’s not true. That’s not true. We do not have penalties in the temple.

I wasn’t expecting that. The first two sentences are simply false, full stop. The third sentence is true in a Clintonesque (define the word “is”) sense, but is a misleading answer to the question posed. The look on Holland’s face tells me he has suddenly realized that he’s dealing with someone who knows a little more than the average reporter about the Mormon church. The interviewer is prepared enough to know Holland is not telling the truth.

You used to [have penalties in the temple].

Holland finally gives up:

We used to.

He goes on to say that this was more a matter of a member like Mitt Romney not telling anyone about “his personal pledge to God” than it is about keeping the temple ceremony secret, even though the endowment itself refers to these pledges as “obligation[s] of secrecy.” Holland continues by saying that the Strengthening the Church Membership Committee is designed to “protect predatory practices of polygamist groups … principally.” I’m fairly certain he knows the committee does much more than that. To be fair, when asked the same question, church PR spokesperson Michael Purdy flatly denied knowing anything about the committee before finally owning up to it.

But what struck me the most was Holland’s response when the interviewer said that some former members describe the church as a cult, like Scientology, only smarter.

We’re not a cult. I’m not an idiot. You know, I’ve read a couple of books and I’ve been to a pretty good school, and I have chosen to be in this church because of the faith that I feel and the inspiration that comes. … We are 14 million and growing, and I’d like to think that your respect for me would be enough to know that this man doesn’t seem like a dodo.

At that moment the earlier anger and defensiveness about the Book of Mormon made sense. These words do not sound like the words of someone who is confident in his faith. Rather, they sound like something you would say if it was vitally important for you to defend something, but, somewhere deep inside, you have doubts about the thing you’re defending. It reminds of me a conversation I had several years ago with my wife’s sister, who is a heavy smoker. We were watching an old movie starring Judy Holliday. My sister-in-law wondered what had become of Ms. Holliday. I mentioned that Ms. Holliday, a comedic actress in the 1950s, had died from lung cancer at an early age. My sister-in-law said, “How could she have gotten lung cancer?” Without thinking, I said, “Well, she was a pretty heavy smoker.”

My sister-in-law had the same expression on her face and tone of voice as Holland’s as she angrily said, “There’s no proof that smoking causes lung cancer! Whoever says so is lying!” Her rant went on for a couple of minutes, and it was eerily similar to Holland’s “defense” of the spiritual truths of Mormonism.

When people talk like that, it makes me think that, somewhere deep inside, they are afraid they are dead wrong, so they make up for it with emotion and forcefulness. I am not suggesting that Jeffrey Holland is going through a crisis of faith. What I am saying is that the effect of his words and tone is quite different than what I think he intends.

He is trying to look firm and steadfast and impassioned. But it comes across as weak and pathetic to me, but I’m sure some people out there found it a stirring apologia.

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115 Responses to What’s Eating Jeffrey Holland?

  1. Another brilliant piece from a guy who is no dodo!

  2. Scizzle says:

    I’m tired of the “Ethan Smith and Soloman Spaulding” arguments that are made in regard to the BoM. I agree that the tie-ins are not very compelling. To me, “The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain” by Gilbert Hunt is the most damning evidence that the BoM is a fraud. I wonder if Elder Holland is even aware of the book at all.

    https://archive.org/details/latewarbetweenun00inhunt

  3. CAB says:

    Holland is not the first probably decent man to become something else entirely after being called to be a GA.

  4. vikingz2000 says:

    Wasn’t there also something fraudulent or amiss when he said he was holding up “the very Book of Mormon,” or “ I hold in my hand…” while speaking at General Conference. Maybe it was at this same time that you are referencing your comments to. I read something about this, but can’t remember the details; perhaps you can.

  5. belaja says:

    I have had almost the exact trajectory you describe here in regards to Holland. I was at the Y when he was president and also enjoyed “The Pat and Jeff Show.” I remember one devotional talk he gave not long before I graduated where he got up and basically raked the whole student body over the coals for “law of chastity” laxness. His tone was just exasperated and fed up and “just do what I’m telling you to do!” I have been reminded of that tone in some of his recent talks, particularly. It’s just a sense of “stop bringing up this stuff and just do what I’m telling you!” I also was really taken aback by that 2009 talk. I remember being more bewildered than anything. I kept thinking, this is a guy with a Yale Ph.D. He should have better critical thinking skills than this. The logical fallacies he tried to propagate there were so completely basic, I had a hard time figuring out what was motivating him exactly. He couldn’t possibly buy them himself. He HAD to know what he was doing with those; it’s logic and argument 101. Did something in there just crumble and he decided to just go with it? Did he bank on the idea that most people haven’t taken Logic and Argument 101?

    And the idea that every criticism of the Book of Mormon and of Joseph has been refuted over and over and over. Well, not so. They keep on coming up after all these years because many of them *haven’t* been definitively refuted. They’ve come up with stock answers that are NOT refutations that they repeat constantly. But that’s not the same thing.

    I remember a lot of TBM chatter about how “powerful” his talk was. But to me it stank of a weak position. Of somebody scrambling to cover that weakness with a lot of sturm and drang. And now he’s made a number of defensive references to his own intelligence. That to me is also a sign of somebody who knows – at least at SOME level – that it’s all crumbling. “I’m not a dodo.” My goodness that was a telling moment. Because the fact is he’s not a stupid man by anybody’s yardstick. So he’s defending something that cannot be defended ultimately and that’s gotta be scary for somebody in his position. At that moment I almost – ALMOST – felt sorry for him, remembering that University president that I liked and respected. I still think of him (him in THOSE days) with respect and affection. His performance these days just makes me sad. I may be projecting somewhat, but it strikes me that he is writhing in a vat of corrosive cognitive dissonance and can’t or won’t just climb out of it.

  6. Add me to the list of people shocked by the change. I didn’t know Holland personally, but I tracted with his son in the Scotland Edinburgh Mission. His son was probably the best missionary and advert for the church I have ever known: I have nothing but praise for a man who could raise a son like that. His public speaking was consistent with that. Pre-apostle Holland was a good guy.

    But post-apostle Holland? A different person.

    I think the most revealing phrase in all Mormondom is “church broke.” Holland is the best example of church broke I have ever seen. At the beginning of a Mormon journey a person is full of hope, full of spirit. But As you get deeper, or higher, you have to make more and more excuses to yourself. Eventually you break. Holland reached the top table, and I think the last illusions fell from his educated mind. Mormonism is just a business, run by men. Jesus is a brand, no more, no less.

    Church broke refers to the state where a person can no longer leave. They are dependent financially and in every other way on the church, and no longer have the energy to fight it. The church has won. I am reminded of the final page of the book 1984. It could describe Holland, sitting at the apostles’ table, when he finally gave up fighting. Or perhaps, on reflection, Holland is still in the Ministry of Love, and this last page describes the final stage: the stage when the tired prophet succumbs to old age and just smiles and says “isn’t it wonderful?”

    >Under the table Winston’s feet made convulsive movements. He had not stirred from his seat, but in his mind he was running, swiftly running, he was with the crowds outside, cheering himself deaf. He looked up again at the portrait of Big Brother. The colossus that bestrode the world! The rock against which the hordes of Asia dashed themselves in vain! He thought how ten minutes ago — yes, only ten minutes — there had still been equivocation in his heart as he wondered whether the news from the front would be of victory or defeat. Ah, it was more than a Eurasian army that had perished! Much had changed in him since that first day in the Ministry of Love, but the final, indispensable, healing change had never happened, until this moment.

    >The voice from the telescreen was still pouring forth its tale of prisoners and booty and slaughter, but the shouting outside had died down a little. The waiters were turning back to their work. One of them approached with the gin bottle. Winston, sitting in a blissful dream, paid no attention as his glass was filled up. He was not running or cheering any longer. He was back in the Ministry of Love, with everything forgiven, his soul white as snow. He was in the public dock, confessing everything, implicating everybody. He was walking down the white-tiled corridor, with the feeling of walking in sunlight, and an armed guard at his back. The long hoped-for bullet was entering his brain.

    >He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

    • vikingz2000 says:

      Interesting comments.

      Maybe you are saying the same thing, but I understood ‘church broke’ to mean the same as ‘breaking a horse’. In other words it’s not about cognitive dissonance, or things like that, but that he’s been fully ‘converted’ (broke; broken in) with regard to the agendas of the church; he is no loner capable of seeing things any other way, i.e., ‘the church is 100% true; no ifs ands, or buts’.

      • tolworthy says:

        I think they are maybe the same thing. I think a broken horse genuinely wants to please its master. I don’t think Holland never had cog dis (my post was probably not well worded), but my guess is that he used to idealistic. That idealism was broken.

        I see Holland as an idealist who became a company man. Perhaps there was never a conscious change. Perhaps he slid seamlessly from the one state to the other. But as I see it, an idealist is not broken, whereas a company man is: in the sense that an idealist could (in theory if not in practice) take a stand on principle, whereas the complete company man must support his company right or wrong.

        Perhaps I am kidding myself, but I used to see Holland as a man of principle: a man who was a Mormon because he believed that Mormonism was good. Now I think it is the opposite way round: he believes it is good because he is a Mormon. He is so deep into the church, with no possible way out, that he can only function psychologically by believing in it.

        That is why I think Winston Smith is a good parallel. Smith wanted to join O’Brien’s group, to defeat the system from the inside. He then realised it was futile and he was willing to do and say anything the party wanted. But in that period a tiny part of him was still idealistic. The final stage was to deeply and genuinely love Big Brother: not to love idealism, but to love the party. I think idealists in the church are like the early Winston. Pragmatists and like the middle stage Winston, and church broke members are like the final stage Winston.

  7. Daved6 says:

    No offense Runtu, but I too have seen you come across as being a bit angry and defensive, even suggesting that you aren’t as confident in that which you are thinking suggests.

    We can all be that way. Weird that you hold Holland, seemingly, to a higher standard than yourself.

    It’s odd that someone wants to pick apart another person, who happens to be a big part of your former faith, in order to conclude “He is trying to look firm and steadfast and impassioned. But it comes across as weak and pathetic to me”.

    it almost seems like you aren’t realizing the obvious throwing rocks from a glass house sentiment in this.

    With that, I can agree with some of what you have said. And leave it at that.

    • runtu says:

      I’m not holding him to a higher standard, and I readily admit I can get prickly and defensive. I’m human, just as he is. I make no pretense of being absolutely sure of anything in this life.

      There’s a difference between saying, “Gee, he is coming across as awfully angry and defensive” and saying, “I would never do something like that.” I would and I have done that in my life.

      If that makes me hypocritical, I’m fine with being a hypocrite.

      I hope that doesn’t come across as hostile, as I am not at all offended by what you wrote.

      • Daved6 says:

        Well I appreciate your response.

        I wouldn’t say you’re a hypocrite for pointing out any defensiveness, but that defensiveness results in looking weak and pathetic or something. Why pick that out of someone when we can all be that way? Are we all weak and pathetic sometimes? Sure.

        it also doesn’t come off as fair to compare Holland’s remarks to your sister’s exception of smoking not causing lung cancer. if so then your own defensiveness can also be considered just as backwards.

      • runtu says:

        My own defensiveness is often just as backward and weak and pathetic. I will say in my defense that I rarely get as animated and red-faced as Elder Holland has recently. I can’t remember getting that riled up in many years. Maybe I’m just not very self-aware.

        The only reason I mentioned my sister-in-law was that, when I was watching Holland, her face popped into my head because it was so similar. Believe, that is the only thing about her that reminds me of Holland.

      • Daved6 says:

        It seems obvious to me. Elder Holland seems upset that people are leaving the faith and doesn’t know that there’s anyway to fix it other than to offer heartfelt pleas, some of which is condemnation. Doesn’t seem any more complicated than that. I don’t see how it is worth discussing beyond that.

      • runtu says:

        That’s basically my conclusion, too, for what it’s worth. It just took me a while to figure that out, hence my explanation of my thought process over several years. I really did not mean to insult Elder Holland, just to say that he may not be giving out the vibe he intended.

  8. James Sneak says:

    I think the smoker comparison is apt. We do have to remember that information (true and false) is being presented to us faster than anything Elder Holland, or any of us, could imagine a few years ago. I think there is a high level of frustration in the quorum because they are being asked questions by faithful members that have not been considered before. It’s human nature to “lash out” if you feel you are being badgered by people you thought were part of the family. I can’t imagine the pressure these men are under every day. Salesmen want to sell but sometimes you have to take off the hat and say this is what it is, you can leave it, keep complaining or help us make it better. I don’t think the the leadership cadre have reached that point yet, they are still selling and not doing a very good job of it, IMO.

  9. I thought it was a great talk.

    I was interviewed by the same British journalist. He was a hyper-aggressive jerk.

    There were no penalties in the temple ceremony.

    There. I’m in a hurry, but that should be enough to draw some angry and insulting responses. And I’m off to teach for the rest of the day and into the evening. But I stand by what I’ve just said.

    • runtu says:

      I’m not going to call you a name, Dan. I will say, however, that the endowment itself referred to names, signs, and penalties. So, if they didn’t exist, what was the endowment referring to?

      • They weren’t penalties, as that term is typically used. But proving that would require an exegesis (a pretty simple and straightforward one, which you could do yourself, were you so inclined) of the precise language, which I wouldn’t do outside of the temple and which I surely won’t do on your blog — even if I had the time. Which I don’t, because I need to get ready to head up to campus, where I teach essentially from noon until nearly 6 PM.

      • runtu says:

        I think it’s interesting that Elder Holland acknowledged that “we used to” have penalties.

        For the record, I never took the penalties as saying that, if I revealed the signs and tokens I would literally have my throat slashed, etc. My understanding is that in earlier versions of the endowment the wording suggested a more literal penalty.

        So, I understand your distinction of what constitutes a penalty, but strictly speaking, there were indeed penalties in the temple. Just ask Elder Holland. 🙂

      • Craig Paxton says:

        Remember…words have no meaning in Mormonism. Mr Peterson just added another word to that list. Horse does not mean horse, steel does not mean steel, translate does not mean translate and now penalty does not mean penalty…

      • Technically, Peterson is correct, if he is referring to the wording of the post 1930s endowment. Until 1990, what was called a “penalty” was just an oath by the participant that he/she would “never reveal” the tokens, signs and penalties (yes, “penalties”); “rather than do so, I would suffer my life to be taken.” This implies that the killing would be done by some evil person attempting to learn the details of the tokens, signs and penalties.
        So, technically, it was not a penalty, i.e., not a punishment for wrongdoing.
        However, before the 1930s, the wording WAS a penalty, a punishment. The members swore that if they should reveal the secrets, “we agree that our throats be cut from ear to ear and our tongues torn out by the roots.” That was the wording of the penatly for revealing the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood. The penalties for the two following tokens and signs were worded similarly, with just as graphic details.
        Once again, Mr. Peterson is not being completely honest.

      • runtu says:

        Richard, it’s nice to hear from you. I hope you’re well. Thank you for that quote. That is what I understood about the earlier penalties. I think earlier the secrecy was crucial because only the endowed were made aware of polygamy. The penalties make sense to me in that context.

      • runtu says:

        Someone sent me this quote from the Brahmajala Sutta, which seems appropriate:

        “Here, an ascetic or Brahmin is dull and stupid. Because of his dullness and stupidity, when he is questioned he resorts to evasive statements and wriggles like an eel: ‘If you ask me whether this is another world — if I thought so, I would say there is another world. But I don’t say so. And I don’t say otherwise. And I don’t say it is not, and I don’t not say it is not.’ … These are the … ways in which those ascetics and Brahmins who are Eel-Wrigglers resort to evasive statements.”

      • David Macfarlane says:

        From the common member’s perspective, I’m not sure that arguing semantics has any value. On my first temple visit, I was completely unprepared for these so-called signs and penalties, knew I would never keep the obligation I was supposedly making and found them to be more cult-ish than anything I had experienced in the church to that point. If I were one of few who felt that way, I doubt the church would have removed those parts of the ceremony.

      • runtu says:

        Definitely freaked me out. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who had a positive, spirit-warming response to the penalties, but I’m sure there is someone out there like that.

  10. Momo says:

    Holland seems to grow more angry and sanctimonious by the year. It’s like he fancies himself as the alpha-male apostle who can force his will upon people with aggression and derision for those who have left Mormonism. I suppose he considers his rants as righteous indignation, but to me they come across as a result of frustrated desperation borne of a knowledge that the church is largely powerless to stop the forces working against it. Some of those forces are unique to Mormonism (church history), but the bigger force is societal and the church is virtually powerless against the societal shift towards a less religious society. Google “nones on the rise” for the Pew study on this topic.

  11. Julie M. says:

    There were no penalties in the temple ceremony? That’s a blatant lie and you are old enough to know that, Daniel. How many times did it state: “with its accompanying name, sign, and penalty” during the endowment prior to 1990?

    Were these penalties ever carried out? Who knows? But they were certainly acted out by thousands of church members on a daily basis in every Mormon temple prior to these penalties being removed.

    Bro. Peterson, you just made yourself look incredibly dishonest and foolish.

  12. Steelhead says:

    To fully understand Mr. Peterson’s comment it is best to remember in Mormon parlance; north means west, tapir means horse, translate means something that isn’t translation, and penalty does not mean promising to slit your own throat and disembowel yourself. Once you understand that everything you know about English needs be discarded when engaging his ilk, you will feel less like you have taken a bus to crazy town.

  13. Geez, I was an ordinance worker and when I dragged my thumb across my throat, I thought it was associated with the penalty. It must have been just amusing ways to take my life, rather than the penalty. Thanks for clearing that up Bro. Peterson.

    • runtu says:

      You know what I find fascinating? The question wasn’t, “Are/were there penalties in the temple?” He was asked about whether Mitt Romney would have promised not to reveal temple details “lest he slit his own throat.” I can see a reasonable person explaining that this wasn’t a literal “penalty” but an illustration of the importance of the covenant, or some such thing. I suspect that’s how Brother Peterson would have answered it (and truthfully, when I was an amateur apologist, I probably would have answered it that way). It’s a little hairsplitting and Clintonesque, but you could make a case for it. In fact, later on Holland said pretty much that when he talked about a “personal pledge to God.”

      But what’s fascinating to me is that, asked that question, he went right to “We do not have penalties in the temple.” No one said anything about penalties, but when the covenant was mentioned, Holland immediately associated it with penalties.

      • Duke of Earl Grey says:

        Exactly. Holland could have explained how Romney did not promise to actually slit his own throat, but that answer would have needed to be rather nuanced. Holland certainly didn’t want to get any deeper into the subject than he had to, and he thought he could get away with flat out denying that the penalties are a thing at all [cough] …present tense… [/cough], because that’s not technically a lie. He thought he could.

  14. Steve55 says:

    Dan,

    I find your comment that there were no penalties in the temple ceremony puzzling. I took out my endowments in the early 1970’s, so I too experienced what I believed were clear instructions regarding the penalties.

    Perhaps you could explain a bit more.

    • Steve55 says:

      I see Dan posted a response while I was writing mine. Thanks Dan. I wonder what portions of the current ceremony will be reinterpreted by future generations so as to avoid acknowledging embarrassing current practices.Perhaps a future generation will perform a simple exegesis giving a whole new meaning to homosexual behavior.

  15. LOL. I’d be happy to explain what I mean to anybody who’ll meet me in the temple for it. My position’s quite straightforward and obvious, if one actually thinks about it. In the interim, though, the name-calling and insults will have to suffice, I guess.

    Gotta go.

    • Julie M. says:

      Is this your version of “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”?

    • runtu says:

      No insults from me, Dan. I think a reasonable case could be made by a believer that “penalty” does not mean what it sounds like. I have no problem with that. As I mentioned, I have had the same thought processes in the past. The question was asked about a specific penalty without mentioning that it was a penalty, and Elder Holland immediately started talking about penalties.

    • Steelhead says:

      How convenient. I can explain to you how the word penalty doesn’t mean penalty but only in the temple. Sorry Dan, I’ll pass. That org will not get another penny from me.

    • CameronMO says:

      Name calling? Since you posted here, Mr. Peterson, I’ve only seen people refer to you as: Dan, Mr. Peterson, Daniel, Bro. Peterson, Mr. Peterson, and Bro. Peterson.

      But, I guess for someone who says a penalty is not a penalty, Dan, Mr. Peterson, Daniel, Bro. Peterson, Mr. Peterson, and Bro. Peterson is indeed name-calling.

    • Yong Xi says:

      I would be happy to meet, but it would have to be at the Masonic Temple.

  16. Quick thought, though: You owe me, John. I seem to have driven the traffic up on your blog, at least for the moment.

    • Steelhead says:

      I don’t think John gets paid by the click like you do Dan…. What does he owe you again?

    • runtu says:

      I don’t know, Dan. It was getting a lot of hits before you showed up, and the rate hasn’t changed since then.

    • Justin says:

      Dan, you have no idea how many hits John was getting, so you have no idea if you drove up traffic or not. What you drove up was comments in response to your ludicrous assertion that the prospect of having your throat cut if you reveal the secret handshakes isn’t a penalty. Jeffrey Holland conceded in that interview that these were penalties, so if you think having your throat cut or being disembowled isn’t a penalty, your argument is with Holland.
      Speaking of that interview, a few years ago you posted at length on Mormon Discussions about your visit to check up on an inactive member as part of the SCMC, without disclosing to this person your capacity in that visit or why you were really there. According to your own account, it had absolutely nothing to do with “polygamous predations.” So again, your arguments are with Holland, since he’s the one contradicting you about the “primary purpose” of the SCMC.

      • runtu says:

        I haven’t noticed a spike in traffic, but I will say that there are a lot more comments since Dan posted his thoughts.

  17. yaanufs says:

    Oh Come on DCP! Of course there were penalties in the temple ceremony. Repeating it over and over that there wasn’t doesn’t make it true. I am old enough to have experienced the penalties and know very well that I promised to kill myself in various ways if I ever revealed the signs and tokens from the temple.
    Next you’ll be bearing your testimony to us that the ‘5 points of the fellowship’ that was blatantly copied from from Scottish Masons (that had nothing to do with Solomon) was never in there either.

  18. Julie M. says:

    I think there is quite a bit of evidence that supports how the penalties in the endowment were very literal in the early days of the church. Many were blood atoned by having their throats slit.

    I know they were not literal when I acted them out, but it sure felt creepy and wrong.

    Acting out these penalties upset a lot of people and this led to the leaders removing them from the endowment. I believe the church leaders were embarrassed when details about this became more public and they couldn’t deny this was taking place.

    Question for Daniel Peterson:
    Why do you think the church leaders removed the penalty parts of the endowment and the acting out of those penalties?

    • Craig Paxton says:

      Correction:
      Why do you think the church leaders removed the penalty parts (that weren’t really penalty parts) of the endowment and the acting out of those penalties (that weren’t actually penalties)?

  19. Steelhead says:

    I for one am incredibly grateful that Dr. Peterson has repeatedly taken time out of his self described completely full day to bless us with his non answers. Please sir, can I have another?

  20. runtu says:

    I have to say that, despite Brother Peterson’s prediction, I am grateful that commenters here have been polite and respectful. It’s true that I rarely censor comments, and there have been more than a few nasty things said to and about me and others here. But generally speaking, I write this blog because I can always count on thoughtful responses from readers. I learn a lot from you, and I appreciate the respect and kindness you show for me, even when you vehemently disagree with me.

    Thank you.

    • HumanPlus says:

      For all of his complaining that people are going to call him names, DCP was the only one who really stooped to it. In his first post:

      > I was interviewed by the same British journalist. He was a hyper-aggressive jerk.

      I think that he is projecting a bit.

      I also wonder how on purpose it was that he completely diverted the discussion from talking about Holland’s anger to talking about whether or not penalty means penalty when the church says it.

  21. Tim says:

    Thank heavens Dan seems to be growing out of his passive-aggressive nature…..wait…I was dreaming. Sorry for the interruption.

    • Justin says:

      I always enjoy it when a person who makes money shilling for Mormon truth claims questions other people’s motives.

      • Julie M. says:

        Lol. Well, he must have felt it was his duty to come on here and correct Elder Holland. Peterson obviously knows even more than an apostle knows about the word “penalties.”!!!

  22. Brilliant! Slow clap for Bro. Peterson. Where the focus of the post was on Holland’s apparent melt-downs, Bro. Peterson has now diverted the conversation to the existence of penalties in the pre 1990 temple endowment ceremony.

    I think Holland is shouting because his own conscience cannot bear to hear half truths and lies anymore. In order to get his message out, he is forced to use rants.

  23. CAB says:

    I can’t believe that Holland does not know by now that it’s all a lie. He is an intelligent, well-educated man. But he is now “owned” by the company and can’t leave. Yes, I think he is desperate and more than a little defensive.

  24. grindael says:

    On what were called and KNOWN as “penalties” in the Endowment,

    One of our brethren–a very good man, (I won’t mention his name)–wanted to know if his son.–a very good (p. 46) boy could have his endowments. I replied that under the circumstances I would not want my children to have their endowments. Why not? Because they would have to take upon themselves obligations and responsibilities which they might not be prepared to fill. Why not? I will show you one reason. Our youth are all the time subject to temptation and are liable to be led astray. If they should commit adultery or fornication as it may be called, what would be the result? The result would be that they would have to make acknowledgement before the Church and ask the forgiveness of the Church, and if they were forgiven after making their confession, they would pass, say for the first time; but for the second offense they must be cast out. That is the way I look upon people who have not entered into this covenant. When they have entered into the marriage covenant and commit adultery it is said they shall be destroyed. Now, I would not like to place my children in the position, under these circumstances. I would much rather they had a chance under the first arrangement of overcoming their weakness, and have a standing in the Church. I now speak of the laws of God being carried out and we are supposed to carry them out. I cannot feel in the least to have people who commit adultery continued members of this Church- -that is people who have entered into sacred covenants if there is anyway for their redemption it is not made manifest to me. Furthermore, the law says they shall be destroyed. I would not want to place responsibilities upon people until their minds and character were mature to enable them to act wisely, prudently, and intelligent, and to magnify their calling. What is meant then– I am among men who understand these matters–by the passage in the revelation where it says that “they that are sealed (p. 47) by the Holy Spirit of Promise, according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder, wherein they shed innocent blood– yet shall they come forth in the first resurrection and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered over to the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption”? Well, it is just on the same principle [illegible]er spoke of, to people of his day. He said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ which before was preached unto you: Now what would be the law of God if carried out?–What is it to be destroyed in the flesh? What does that mean? [Sign of the Priesthood] You all know. What does that mean [Another sign of the Priesthood] You all know. Now if that was carried out [.]
    Coun. Wells: Is that what is meant by being destroyed in the flesh?
    President Taylor: I think it would be pretty near.

    After citing another example of adultery Taylor then added,

    It is a thing we should be very careful about. But I did not make that revelation. I cannot change it. I am not authorized to change it. The law says they shall be destroyed; I cannot say they shall not. Unless the Lord manifests something to me about things of that sort, I do not feel authorized to go contrary to the word of God on these subjects. They are very important. As it is said, in times of men’s ignorance God winked at it. Now, he calls upon all people everywhere to repent. I look upon it that we are called upon to carry out the law and will and word of God, and we have no right to change either. Formerly we are told there were placed in the Church (p. 49) Apostles, Prophets, etc. for the perfecting of the Saints and the edifying of the body of Christ. But if these laws are not put into execution how is the Church to be perfected. If drunkards, sabbath-breakers, whoremongers, are allowed to carry on their wickedness, how is the Church to be purified? And who will be responsible for these things? Those who will permit them. The Church ought to be purified; we ought to be stepping forward in purity; and seeking to do the will of God on earth as it is done in Heaven.
    Joseph once said that in attending to the ordinances, as we have today, that if we violate our covenants we shall be delivered over to the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption. Prest. Taylor then spoke of the signs in the Endowments and asked what they meant,–have thought that the ancient Japanese understood something in regard to these matters in the Hari Kari–we do not interfere with the lives of men, those who violate their covenants, we leave them in the hands of God, and in many instances that you know he has visited signal judgments upon transgressors. In the cases of Whore–(p. 91) dom, harlots engage in those matters do not live to exceed five years, so the statistics say. Whoremongers and adulterers purge. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,–it requires the greatest care to properly control ourselves and those associated with us. (Salt Lake School of the Prophets Minute Book., pp. 90-91)

    Don’t listen to apologists like Daniel Peterson, folks, read it for yourself in the Historical Documents.

  25. Cinepro says:

    As someone who first went to the Temple in 1993, I never actually experienced the old version of the ceremony, so my understanding of it only comes from second-hand descriptions such as those in this discussion.

    That being said, I’m mystified at how the described “penalties” aren’t actually penalties. I can understand them not being literal (i.e. more of a “cross my heart – hope to die” expression), but it’s still a stretch to say they weren’t presented as a negative consequence to an undesired action (i.e. the definition of “penalty”).

    • runtu says:

      Yep, that’s how I understood them. I think it’s more than a bit misleading to say simply “there were no penalties in the temple” and leave it at that. A more accurate statement would be, “The endowment included elements that were referred to as ‘penalties,’ but we do not understand them to be penalties in the sens that most people define that word.”

  26. Julie M. says:

    it’s really too bad that Daniel Peterson couldn’t have instructed Elder Holland on what the word “penalty” actually means prior to his interview with the reporter.

    Things would have gone so much better for Holland if only knew the truth.

    He could have replied with:
    “Well, we’ve always called them penalties and that’s how they are always referred to in the temple, but we have a different definition for the word ‘penalties’. When we say ‘penalties’, we don’t really mean ‘penalties’. Is that clear?”

  27. grindael says:

    I went through the temple in 1978, and there were penalties just like they are described by many who have revealed them. For anyone to say there were not, they are simply lying.

  28. grindael says:

    Now, as for the enforcement of those penalties, read what John Taylor says above. By his time, things were changing. They days of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s “blood atonement” were over.

  29. Seth says:

    I didn’t like Holland’s 2009 talk either, and regarded it at the time as more of an attempt to head off believers from pursuing questions about the BoM than an attempt to genuinely address those questions. Ok, rather culty, but I understand his motivation.

    I’m more alarmed and disappointed that Holland would prevaricate in his reply about the penalties in the temple.

    The question clearly was whether Mitt Romney would have (in the past) made the penalty oaths, not whether he did it recently. The answer to the question was clearly “yes, but [insert apologetic explanation here].” He was unwilling to give that answer, so he spoke in a manner to deliberately mislead. That’s lying, by the church’s own definition.

    While I can understand the drive within him to “protect sacred information that this outsider couldn’t possibly understand correctly,” it should be a red flag to any intellectually honest person that lying to achieve this end is morally bankrupt.

    Very few people would condemn a person for lying to a Nazi about whether any Jews were hidden in their house during WWII – lying to save an unjustly persecuted person’s life is clearly morally justified.

    Is lying to keep uncomfortable truth from the unwashed masses in the same league? If so, why are the truths uncomfortable? And what does this say about how the reporter was viewed by Elder Holland?

  30. Robin DeSpain says:

    I’m not going to join the fray, but simply say I enjoyed the insight. I too have boggled a bit that Holland was becoming all “sinners in the hands of an angry god” and had not thought about there being a personal faith struggle behind it.

    I also think the culture of the church is turning more and more this way. Where once it was a badge of honor to be intellectual in the gospel – like Nibley, Elder Maxwell, sister Okazaki – now logic, reason, and honest questions are met with anger and calls of being faithless. I find it sad in a way that a church founded on the idea of questioning, of “ask and you shall receive”, has become so orthodox in its rigidity.

    Makes me think of something my father used to say, “Yell like hell the logic’s poor”.

  31. grindael says:

    Prest Young was filled with the spirit of God & revelation & said when we got our washings and anointings under the hands of the Prophet Joseph at Nauvoo we had only one room to work in with the exception of a little side room or office were [sic] we were washed and anointed had our garments placed upon us and received our New Name. and after he had performed these ceremonies. he gave the Key Words signs, togkens [sic] and PENALTIES. then after we went into the large room over the store in Nauvoo. Joseph divided up the room the best that he could hung up the veil, marked it gave us our instructions as we passed along from one department to another giving us signs. tokens. PENALTIES with the Key words pertaining to those signs and after we had got through. Bro Joseph turned to me (Press B. Young) and said Bro Brigham this is not arranged right but we have done the best we could under the circumstances in which we are placed, and I… wish you to take this matter in hand and organize and systematize all these ceremonies with the signs. tokens PENALTIES and Key words I did so and each time I got something more so that when we went through the Temple at Nauvoo I understood and Knew how to place them there. we had our ceremonies pretty correct (Diary of L. John Nuttall, 7 Feb. 1877).

  32. Ray Agostini says:

    Runtu taketh offense, where no offense should be taken. I started to have some respect for you when you stopped posting on that vile message board known as “Mormon Discussions”. But there’s Runtu, right back in the thick of anti-Mormonism with his “mates”. Feeding the disenchanted with anti-Mormonism, egging on the hungry lions waiting to consume Mormonism with their self-justification. And Runtu approves, and encourages. “Hey folks, only my opinion.” Let all the world know about the “coffee ice cream”, because it’s vitally important to our salvation!

    You’ll never learn, Runtu, and when and if you do, it will be too late.

    I’d love to have continuing respect for you, but with posts like this – it’s all distortion and downhill skiing.

    Sad.

    • runtu says:

      You know,I would feel bad that what I have written has offended you, but it seems to be a purely emotional response from you, so there’s nothing to respond to.

      I would worry about your respect but I know you have never respected me. Our friendship means very little to you such that you are willing to break confidences, call me names, and attack my character without care. I could understand if you were upholding some important principle, but it’s just based on your whim.

      So I’m sorry you are so angry, but I know enough that trying to earn respect from you is pointless.

      • Ray Agostini says:

        That’s a very revealing reply, Runtu. And no, you’ll never earn my respect while you continue to post nonsense like this. You don’t even have a clue how deluded you are. Not a single thing in this post of yours matches what I viewed in the video. Except from your skewed contra-Mormon viewpoint.

  33. Runtu. I appreciate your post wondering about Elder Hollands tone and delivery.

    Obviously none of us know what is really going on in his head, but I think there is validity in your observations. I know that there is much that can be understood about people by how they say things and even what they don’t say.

    When I initially heard his talk about Joseph Smith in carthage jail I was still a literal believer in mormonism. I loved the talk. But even then I could feel that something wasn’t quite completely above board. The emotions betrayed something else.

    Of course as a literal believer, I only assumed pure intent.

    Now that I have studied the book of mormon 7 times cover to cover over the past three years, I can now bear a firm testimony that it is not what the church teaches it to be.

    I appreciate Elder Hollands challenge.

    I didn’t have to crawl around it to learn the church isn’t true in the way it teaches that it is true. I went directly “through” it.

    The best evidence against the church is itself.

    Keep up the good work.

  34. Just one more comment.

    When I went through the temple pre 1990, I took the endowment seriously. When I made the covenants, I recognized that I was accepting a penalty.

    No. I didn’t think I would literally have my throat slit. But I also recognized my running my thumb across my throat symbolized something very serious would happen if I broke my covenant(s).

    So it doesn’t matter if others want to prevaricate and obfuscate. For me it was a penalty and clearly intended to be a penalty.

    Words to the contrary fly in the face of my lived experience.

    But I don’t have to defend the indefensible. That is up to others.

  35. Ray Agostini says:

    “I would worry about your respect but I know you have never respected me. Our friendship means very little to you such that you are willing to break confidences, call me names, and attack my character without care.”

    It’s completely false to say that I’ve “never respected” you. I respect you when you can post reasonably objective commentary, and you’ve shown in the past that you can do that. But there you are, going back to post on the sick Mormon Discussions anti Mormon message board, with no shame. Condemning all things Mormon. Mocking LDS leaders for “the praise of men”, and shuffling Joseph Smith into the category “fraudulent Americans” more than willing to rip off all and sundry, which is the result of your “false religion” hypothesis.

    You can do better, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • runtu says:

      I’m tired, Ray. I thought you knew me well enough to know that I never do anything “for the praise of men.” But I’m not going to argue with you. Respect means understanding that we don’t necessarily see things the same way, but we don’t assign bad motivations and call each other names. I know I’ve never done that to you. I’ve stood up for you when other people have said unkind things about you, and I’ve never betrayed your trust. That you haven’t reciprocated makes me wonder if I have been mistaken all along about our friendship. That makes me sad.

    • Steelhead says:

      Awww Ray, did some one hurt your feelings by posting things critical of mormonism? By calling Joseph Smith a fraud? It is not shameful to critically examine Hollands words. Shameful is taking wives behind your wife’s back while lying to the world about the practice, and having some of your plural wives sign affidavits attesting that you are not practicing polygamy…. what is the word for that again? Oh yeah, fraud.

      Funny that.

      Now to sit back and watch Ray have a melt down again.

    • cynth says:

      Sad that ray’s “respect” is taken away when others do things that are different from what he would do. That is frustrated narcissism he is feeling, not lack of respect. (or possibly dcp put out the ray signal because he was caught posting a lie and needed a diversion! ray to the rescue with insults.)

      runtu, thank you for your post, very interesting and thoughtful!

      • runtu says:

        Thank you. Ray and I go way back, so I am pretty sure Dan had nothing to do with Ray commenting.

      • Ray Agostini says:

        Runtu got it right. DCP doesn’t influence me to post anything. He’s never, on any occasion, asked me to “defend him”. Not ONCE. When I do so, it’s my own choice. Always has been. And I wasn’t defending DCP here. I felt, and still do, that Runtu has thrown a negative slant on Elder Holland that simply isn’t justified.

        Oh, “cynth” certainly rings a loud bell. lol. I’m sure you’re not biased in any way!

  36. yaanufs says:

    Ray, I thought it was a polite and rational opinion piece by Runtu, not a character assassination. If you have an alternative view of Holland’s talk, then you are free to post about your reasons for thinking it was a great talk from him. Then people can read two opinions and decide which one is more likely to be closer to reality.

  37. cynth says:

    Ray says, “He’s never, on any occasion, asked me to “defend him”. Not ONCE. When I do so, it’s my own choice.”.

    That’s a lot of explanation re: his work defending dcp when I only jokingly mentioned creating a diversion with insults. You’re protesting a little too much, Ray.

    Back to the topic, runtu, Holland was at BYU when I was there also, and I have been nonplussed in recent years by how different he seems, your piece was a fascinating look inside the passage of time and how his affect has ‘evolved.’

  38. cynth says:

    For those who are less familiar with the Mormon religion, Ray is a particularly nasty, mean-spirited example. Notice he has attacked runtu multiple times, apropos of nothing in the blog entry. Apparently there is a history, but nothing excuses this behavior in the present. Remember this person the next time a Mormon tries to tell you they are a Christian religion.

    • Ray Agostini says:

      I’d say that “mean-spirited” is placing a man in a totally negative light when there’s no justification for it, and calling it, “What’s Eating Jeffrey Holland”. Runtu really knows how to get a rise out of you people. That’s for sure.

      • James N. says:

        You sound rather unstable, Ray. I remember when you didn’t believe in Mormonism yourself. You were rather vocal about it on the MAD board.

  39. Steelhead says:

    First we get Daniel who is all self important bluster and no content, and now Ray who is all heat and no content. Do you reckon at some point one of the cadre of apologists for Mormondom will actually pitch a response here of any merit?

    • Ray Agostini says:

      In your eyes, no. But you’re exactly the sort of people Runtu attracts to his blog. Totally faithless, and without hope. Never inspiring, and ever willing to denigrate faith. Runtu is the magnet, and you’re the fly instantly attracted to it.

      • Steelhead says:

        Ray, I am critical of ideas, you are critical and denigrating of people. Jesus must be proud of you. Speaking of flies drawn to Runtu’s post, look at you buzz.

      • runtu says:

        Don’t worry about Ray. He doesn’t bother me. I made the mistake of letting him hurt me deeply once. He doesn’t care and never will, so I can’t be bothered anymore.

  40. sock puppet says:

    I guess I should have regarded the whole bit about no sexual intercourse except with someone to whom legally and lawfully wedded the same way the DCP regards the “penalties”–a bunch of hyperbolic LDS fluff in the temple.

  41. danielcpeterson says:

    For several reasons — foremost among them (but far from alone) the fact that I won’t discuss the details of temple ordinances on any message board or website, let alone on this one — I can’t see any point in attempting conversation here.

    I’ve read some of the responses, and they’ve been . . . interesting.

    Here, I suppose, is the burning (if, cosmically speaking, not very important) issue: What would possess me to come on such a site as this and deny something that virtually everybody here “knows” — and that I surely KNOW that they “know” — to be transparently and obviously true?

    I think the most common answer to that question has been that I’m a shameless liar, essentially to the point of dementia. (That’s dogma in some circles, of course, and this latest illustration must seem absurdly redundant to those who adhere to the dogma.)

    Now, I’ll obviously grant that the fact that the term “penalty/penalties” has been used to describe certain elements of the temple counts against my position.

    But not NEARLY so much as many here have assumed. In fact, I think it’s a curious misuse of the word.

    I stand by my statement.

    In fact, I’ll formulate it a bit more exactly: There have been no penalties contained in the temple endowment since I received my own endowment in 1972. None carried out. None called for. None described.

    And, in saying that, I rely on no eccentric redefinition of the word “penalty,” nor any other such disingenuous legerdemain. Quite the contrary. I insist on the ordinary meaning of the word. That’s the key, in fact.

    I would be happy to explain this, in the temple, to anybody who’s interested.

    It would take substantially less than a minute. And, once understood, there would be no question that I’m right on this matter. Very obviously and simply and indisputably right.

    Outside of the temple, though, I have nothing further to say. So, as there’s no conversation to be had here (and as I don’t much care for the atmosphere anyway), I won’t be back.

    Best wishes to all.

    • Rollo Tomasi says:

      Dan Peterson is a liar, at least with respect to “penalties” once in the endowment ceremony. He’s his own (and the LDS Church’s) worst enemy.

      • danielcpeterson says:

        Yet another vote for the “shameless liar, essentially to the point of dementia” option!

        Not very interesting.

        John, I clicked the other day in the box by “Notify me of new comments via email,” and I found myself “subscribed” to your blog. Is there anything in particular that I need to do in order to “unsubscribe”? Or will simply failing to check the “Notify me of new comments via email” box this time be enough to accomplish that?

        This place, to borrow your words, is just too dang “polite and respectful” for me.

      • runtu says:

        Well, thanks for coming by. I don’t care much for the circus you seem to bring with you, either, so it’s all good. I hope all is well with you.

    • steelhead says:

      “I can tell you, but only in the temple”……. Once again another content less drive by from the master, who now claims he won’t be back.

      Are you not entertained!?

  42. cynth says:

    Peterson says, “There have been no penalties contained in the temple endowment since I received my own endowment in 1972. None carried out. None called for. None described.”

    Peterson, stop breaking your temple vows and talking about it outside the temple! Didn’t you listen to the warnings? (also, you are wrong.)

    Peterson keeps telling us that there would be no question that if we heard his answer we would know that he is not only right, but “very obviously and simply and indisputably right.”

    We determine whether people are right by their words and works, not by their childish insistence over and over that they are right. Give it up, Peterson.

  43. Julie M. says:

    Peterson is not a serious poster here. He came to try and impress but failed miserably. I know he’s knowledgeable on certain topics, but this is obviously not one of them. He came here, tried to wow us with his deep understanding of the word “penalties” and then left looking like a fool. I honestly wonder if even HE believes his own drivel. No wonder he was fired by the Maxwell Institute! He hasn’t quite been the same since or had much influence at all.

  44. segmation says:

    Here is something I just found out about the Romney’s: Long before becoming politicians and business tycoons, the Romney family made its name in art. According to “The Ancestors of Mitt Romney,” George Romney (1734 – 1802) was the first cousin of Miles Romney, who is an ancestor of the two-time presidential candidate. Who would have thought?

  45. Marisa says:

    I didn’t read all the comments so I don’t know if this was said – in addition to your good points and the troublesome tone in Elder Holland’s address, something that stands out to me is the assumption that Joseph and Hyrum knew they were going to be murdered. I know the stories I’ve heard about the somber mood and John Taylor singing and all that, but Joseph got himself out of a lot of tricky situations and I’m not so sure that he didn’t know he was going home to flatter and deceive thousands more people to join the church. It seems to me that testifying of the BoM to the guards was just another day in the life of a con man.

    • runtu says:

      I recall reading a letter Joseph sent to a relative just before leaving for Carthage, in which he talks about looking forward to seeing the family again after the whole thing “blows over.” I suspect you may be right that he thought that, as always, he would get out of this scrape.

  46. […] blog Runtu’s Rincon published a blogpost title What’s Eating Elder Holland? (I wish I had thought of that title!) that discusses their concerns about the tone of his February […]

  47. richard says:

    Perhaps,Elder Holland’s vehement and passionate response comes exactly where he says it comes from, confusion and exasperation bout a truth that he sees but what other people don’t see. If you look at what he says and how he says it, it is like screaming at someone who is about to be run over by the train behind them. They can’t hear the train. Imagine how frightened the person is who is screaming the warning.
    Elder Holland believes in that train. Elder Holland absolutely and completely believes in that train. Whether you do or not is up to you, but give the man props for caring.

  48. northern boy says:

    I know this is a late response but just come across this post/blog. I recall a very close friend of mine who was on his mission in the Bristol UK mission in early 90s . Elder Holland rocked up at a mission wide meeting as a GA in the wake of some poor behaviour in the mission and told them that if this mission was a horse he would take it into a field and shoot it. Mmh, controlled and thoughtful Jeff, a bit of a rant again.

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