Saturday, December 08, 2007

Orson Scott Card - You do not speak for me!

Today in the Deseret News, Orson Scott Card wrote a classic straw man argument in his defense of Mormonism and critique of Christianity (He actually makes his straw man talk). These kinds of arguments are made by all sides. We all do it, often without realizing it. Our thoughts seem so self evident, to us, that we cannot anticipate how it will be heard on the other side of the aisle.

Click to read the article here.

I wrote a response in the blog section of the article. Here it is:

The article, though well written, only convinces the convinced. He constructs what Christians believe, and then deconstructs it. Anti-Mormons do this all the time with Mormon theology. As a Christian, I have been told countless times by (some) Mormons what I believe.

For example:

-You don't believe in modern revelation-

Yes I do, I was raised charismatic!

-You believe God is made of 3 people-

No I don't, I have always known they are three distinct persons.

-You believe God does not have a body-

No, I don't CARE whether or not he has a body.

-You follow the Nicene Creed-

Nope again, have never read it, never seen it, and hardly heard of it till I moved out here.

-You are a product of Platonism-

Goodness gracious, the simplest of web searches will show that major chunks of Christianity not only reject this, but aggressively fight it.

I am glad Mr. Card's article gives a shot in the arm to (some of) his Mormon brothers. However, it does not fly outside the Mormon circle for the same reason anti-Mormon stuff doesn’t fly with Mormons.

"The main point of disagreement between Mormons and traditional Christianity is that we believe in the biblical God — the God in whose image we were made, the resurrected Christ with a perfect body of flesh and bone — and they don't." - Orson Scott Card

Spoken like a true Anti!

I can sympathize with Mormons who resent being painted with blunt broad strokes by Antis – It is not pleasant on our end either.

I have always felt it is unwise for a Christian to go to another Christian to learn about Mormon theology. I equally believe a Mormon will get an incorrect view of Christianity if they seek out a Mormon for their information.


Adam Gonnerman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Stoker said...

I agree that it is a very strange article and not one I am particularly fond of representing Mormonism, myself a Mormon. I will point out that your quote ending "and they don't" is taken a bit out of context as he says in the next line that he is speaking about the official doctrine on the books as discussed by the theologians and not about what lay practitioners individually believe. Even still, why he went this direction is puzzling to me, considering the article started in reference to the Romney speech, a speech that has been praised for the fact that he didn't try to defend doctrine or theology. The way Card plays with words like "traditional" and "Biblical" can only lead to making people upset and feeling misrepresented. Thirdly, this is not the kind of material that can be covered appropriately in a newspaper editorial (like he mentions in the article that this is a topic for a book)-- he should have taken his own advice.

I suppose it is what it is, something to bring people to the website for good numbers to show to the advertisers. Let's just all be grateful that Mr. Card is not a speech writer for Mr. Romney nor the Mormon Church.

Andrew said...

Well, and fairly, said David.

I agree that this article seemed out of place in reference to the Romney speech. In fact, I think one could say that an article like this would work AGAINST Romney. Perhaps Card is not a fan.

SocietyVs said...

I have no clue who Card is - seems a little misguided in his rhetoric - that's life though. I can't see a Mormon and a Christian agreeing on all theology - but who cares - that kind of stuff is totally unimportant anyways.

Does God have a body? What does that have to do with loving your neighbor or feeding the poor?

I have raised some very string obejections this with this kind of stuff in my own faith - but the problem truly is what you believe is not as important as what you do with those beliefs. You can believe God has a physical body - but what does that do at all? Nothing - it's one of those beliefs that either is or isn't true and nothing more. In some sense - I am starting to see stuff like that as 'non-beliefs' now - since there is nothing to the statement required of you - accept mere acceptance of it.

Andrew said...

Society- That is a good way to think of it - "non-belief". I have been noticing that more and more over the years. So many religious folks are willing to go to the mat over a point of belief that takes you absolutely nowhere.

I find myself heading in the opposite direction. Most of my beliefs rest in an open hand. I shrug over most points of contention.

This attitude irritates some. They would rather have you against them, than taking a "I really don't care" stance.

Orson Scott Card said...

As a no-talent hack, at least I don't have the delusion that, as a believer in an extremely nonstandard version of Christianity, any statement about Christianity in general should apply to my specific, nonstandard beliefs. If you don't accept the Nicene creed, then obviously you're not one of the Christians I was talking about. Most Christian denominations, however, representing the vast majority of Christians, do. Read a book now and then, and you'll find out what mainline Christianity believes.

As to Memory of Earth - you certainly have the privilege of disliking the book, but the fact that I took the plot from the book of Mormon was well known to the publisher, in advance (that's how I sold the book), and for those who believe the Book of Mormon is what it purports to be, it is impossible to plagiarize it because you can't plagiarize history. You merely adapt it as needed.

I find it fascinating, however, that you can dismiss my entire career because of one book; and since "hack" has a specific meaning (writer for hire) and all my novels are licensed by me - I am the rights holder - I am curious how you, who are obviously committed to detailed, specific accuracy, could make such a wild and inappropriate charge.

David said...

While I disagree with Mr Card's religion, I couldn't care less about the differences between Mormons and "traditional" Christians. Maybe it's because, as a Jew, I'm neither.
I do, however, respect his views, and his career. If OSC is a "no talent hack", then by all means, let the man keep swinging the ax. I have another shelf to fill up, and frankly, after a good two dozen of his books, I've yet to find one I disliked.

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