Exchange with an Ex-Mormon
Following is an email sent to me and posted on exmormon.org and my response. I read and discussed this on my 30 September 2007 talk show. The author of the email called in and we pursued the points of his email and several others. This episode of the Mormon Miscellaneous Worldwide Talk Show can be heard on my podcast mormonmisc.podbean.com.
Van, you are the most "morbid" apologist there is....Let me explain.....
I never seen any other apologist twist history to his advantage like you. I listen to you since your days in KBBX, which is probably over 25yrs...I've heard no single rational criticism for the Church, your interviews were always farcical, with Tannners, Grant Palmer, Simon Sutherton, Bagley, many other prominent people. You'd always discount their findings, experiences steadfestly.
There is no middle ground for you, you will always defend the church like a puppet. Listen your interview with G.P and later listen John Dehlin's interview with him, see difference.
Frankly, you are beyond pathetic the way you defend your position. There's never a point that you give in, it is alweays your adversary is wrong.... Show me an example, give me a historical list what can be wrong with LDS Church that you can acknowledge like John Dehln honestly acknowledges. You are an intellectual Coward. I would hate to lead a life like yours which leads me to force myself to be "Right" at all times.
When Randy J., others attack you you think these guys are shooting from the hip, a "shotgun approach" as you say. You discount literal evidences, even peoples experiences about Temple oaths. Most of us have been through these Ceremonies and have first hand experience, what "Oaths' entail and what they did in 1850's from historical records.
You boast that "I never get any intervention from the Church on my broadcasts", Dude...Why would they intervene? Have you ever said anything negative about your church? You are the free advertisement for them, you just disclose their "Dirty laundry" in a non-speculative way. I have intellectual respect for the likes of John Dehlin, at least he admits shortcomings of his church in an honest cordial manner and lets his hosts talk about their experiences without putting his "two cents" in every other minute when something unpleasant was aired.
I could not find this on RFM. I thank you for sending it to me. I would like to respond to your comments, and if you do not know, the RFM will let anyone say anything about Van Hale on their board, except Van Hale.
You are mistaken about me. I have never defended the Church on any matter. I have many views which are the result of years of instensive study, thought and discussion. I defend my views, and my views only, which certainly could not be considered the views, on many points, of those of the general body of the Church, or its leaders, past and present.
I have freely and frequently acknowledged that there is no Mormon I have ever known with whom I agree on all points. I have stated many times, giving many examples, of views which have been held by various presidents of the Church which differ from mine. I have written a number of articles which have been published. In several I present the results of my research which has led me in a direction in my view at odds with some widely held Mormon views regarding the historicity of the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham; the belief that all spirits are the literal offspring of God; the stature of children in the resurrection; the prominent view that Jesus is Jehovah of the Old Testament; evolution, the universal flood, age of the earth and other issues related to the differences between the findings of science and common LDS belief; my strongly stated position that the KJV is vastly deficient compared to modern translations and LDS would find great advantage in Bible study if they were to use other translations. This is just to mention a few, I could make a very long list of my views with which members of my ward typically would disagree.
I have maintained many, many times that I believe that none of the Brethren past or present is perfect, that they have all made mistakes and all have and do hold views which are erroneous. Regarding the Church, I have frequently declared my belief that the Church is a work in progress, that it was not perfect when founded by JS and it is not perfect today, that many mistakes have been made. I have even talked about changes I would make if I were in charge.
I find it hard to believe that you have not heard me address these topics. Perhaps you do not notice that I have expressed these views because I do not call Church leaders past and present with whom I may differ on a point, liars, dishonest, stupid and the whole host of names used hundreds of times daily for anyone or anything Mormon. You and your RFM friends have created a whole denigrating vocabulary to offend and belittle anyone who is not willing to launch an all out attack on the Mormon Church, its leaders, past and present, all of its principles, beliefs and teachings and even humanitarian efforts, every point of history and all who call themselves Mormon.
Would you be willing to comment on the above paragraphs either by way of denial that I have presented and defended my own views listed above, or perhaps tender and apology for you blatant misrepresentation?
Church puppet? I have never received any counsel, advice, direction or criticism from any Church entity or authority. No Church authority has ever asked or directed me to say something, or not to say something. If I were a Church puppet, much of what I talk about and guests I invite and callers I allow, I suspect would be curtailed. I have never been employed by the Church, nor received any financial compensation for the great amount of time I have invested in my research, pondering and discussion of Church topics. In other words, I owe nothing to anyone and proceed without any constraint other than that of my own beliefs and conscience. I have never received a calling to do what I do. It is my hobby, and a rather expensive hobby at that. I do what I do entirely for personal reasons, to pursue a course which I have enjoyed now for more than 40 years.
I find it strange that someone would criticize a person for defending his beliefs. You seem to think that I should force myself to agree with those who think differently than I do. I respect those who rationally defend their own views, even if they disagree with me. I have made the comment and expanded upon it a number of times, tha I believe a rational, sincere person can study Mormonism in depth and not believe its basic claims. I believe there is room for rational discussion and differing conclusions. You mentioned the Tannners, Grant Palmer, Simon Sutherton and Bagley. All of these have expressed their appreciation to me for inviting them to discuss their views on my program. I have disagreed with them on many points, and believe I am correct on those points and that they are wrong. Is that not normal. I do not know many people who say, This is what I believe, but I know it is wrong. None of these has accepted an invitation to be on my program with the expectation that I would agree with them on every point. You might also acknowledge that they did not give up their beliefs on my program and adopt mine. I have never spoken disrespectfully of them. I have not called them "morbid," "puppets," "beyond pathetic" or "intellectual cowards."
You criticize me for not doing stories like John Dehlin on his podcast Mormon Stories. I have great respect for John and what he has done. I have done two stories on my program many years ago. I did not like it. I do not do stories. I discuss history, doctrine, scripture, commentary and do not hesitate to express my beliefs when they differ with that of my guest or callers. I actually prefer talking to those who disagree with me more than with those who agree with me. You have perhaps noticed that I have spent far more time talking with those with whom I disagree. You know that my policy has been to take calls from all perspectives. You may even have called in. I even accept personal attacks.
However, I do love stories. I spend some time daily watching stories on TV. In fact, I watch far more stories than I do news and politcal debate, but I do not criticize the channels which do not show stories. I switch to another channel. You have listened to my programs long enough to know what I do. I am not going to change.
You mention Randy, a sort of exmormon star on the RFM. You call me an "intellectual coward." I study and openly discuss, as you should be willing to admit, topics from many perspectives. I allow anyone to call in with his point of view and sources in support. I often, myself, present the sources and logic for views with which I do not agree. Randy will not even communicate with me. We had a few exchanges a year or two ago, and he would not so much as acknowledge sources which I raised. For him there is no room for discussion and not a chance that he would show any respect for someone who differs with him. He had the board administration deny me access to the board, eventhough I was only discussing history, using sources which he desperately did not want published on the RFM board. He is unwilling to consider or acknowledge any sources which would argue against his point. He belittles and disrespects, in a crude fashion, those who dare to present a source which he does not want anyone to know exists. Every time I would raise a point and present a source, he would call me a liar and a number of other names. He claimed I was defending Mormonism when I pointed out a historical source which did not fit his fanatical, completely one-sided, allegations. I have always contended that all relevant sources should be brought into the investigation of an issue. He vituperatively attacks anyone who even suggests such an approach.
I am an apologist, but not a Mormon apologist. I am a Van Hale apologist. I defend my views, and my views only. I am not like a defense attorney, whose only job is to defend his client, right or wrong. I appreciate the work of many students and scholars. More than half of my personal library is authored by non-Mormons. Much of my beliefs on many topics has been substantially shaped by these non-Mormon works. I study and quote from these sources regularly.
Having said all of this, I consider myself an enthusiastic mainstream Mormon, eventhough many of my views are in the minority, some perhaps even unique. I believe in the basic claims of Mormonism, and thoroughly enjoy my participation and association with those whom I consider my brothers and sisters, who take an interest in me and my well-being, and I in them. I am a high priest, have served a mission, held many ward and stake positions, wishing that I could give as much as I receive. I have raised my children under the umbrella of my faith and pursuit of truth wherever it may lead, and they have all chosen to be active, participating LDS. All five of my daughters chosen to be married in the temple. With all of the flaws and human shortcomings of the Church and all of its leaders, it would be hypocritical of me, in my imperfection, to demand perfection. The Church and its leaders has always shown respect for me and my family in so many ways that I cannot but reciprocate with respect. I cannot help but contrast that without the outrageous disrespect and abuse directed at me by those of your ilk on the RFM.
Since you posted your criticisms of me on the RFM, perhaps you might consider posting my response, since I am not allowed on the board. If you do, I am sure it will be quickly removed, but it might be worth a try.
I have decided to make your criticism and my response the main subjection of my talk show this Sunday. Of course you are welcome to call in or send an email.