The Irrelevancy of Lavina Anderson and LDS Intellectuals

Note: This commentary is a part of my “Saints Who Swear” series wherein I challenge attacks from apostates and haters of the LDS Church. I have chosen to use very salty language. I swear, a lot. If swear words offend you in the slightest, please do not read on.

I suppose I’m next going to be told by apostates to comment on another bag of bullshit, the “CES Letter,” but first have been asked to read an ancient commentary from the equally ancient Dialogue journal — its pages seized by apostates ages ago — authored by the pre-ancient Lavinia Anderson who, in the minds of many apostates, represents the best in LDS thinking.

Anderson’s 1993 commentary, “The LDS Intellectual Community and Church Leadership: A Contemporary Chronology,” is a chronological litany of examples she refers to as a “search for knowledge” from a heart of a “troubled and painful relationship” with LDS leaders while “deliberately disclosing information that is negative, potentially disruptive, and embarrassing.”

And like all faux intellectuals, she takes a moment to express her objectivity — “I received the calling of a witness in the household of faith. I am not an accuser. I am not a judge.” Such bullshit.

Anderson begins her chronological condemnation in 1972. Why she chose that year as her springboard is actually a sign of restraint because, as she is well aware, there is so much more for apostates to condemn beginning in 1820. Perhaps there were word limits imposed by Dialogue. Nevertheless, 1972 is where she begins her history of horribles.

In sum, she doesn’t like it a) when the LDS Church changes historians, b) books she enjoys do not get reprinted (enough times) or are allowed to go out of print, c) when LDS General Authorities step on the necks of her friends for spouting unauthorized Church histories as if the existence of their mere intellects is suffcient for publication, d) for opposing International Women’s Year in 1977, e) when her friends get released from their callings, f) when her friends are refused callings after those friends have supported public causes antithetical to LDS Church doctrine (whether the Equal Rights Amendment or same-sex marriage or a slew of other causes), g) for excommunicating nut-ball Sonia Johnson, h) for senior LDS apostles invoking prophetic priority over secular knowledge, especially at LDS Church-owned institutions, i) for Mark Hoffman’s successful fraud under the noses of inspired LDS leaders and experts, j) for criticisms of apostate garbage published in Sunstone (e.g., Richard Poll’s bullshit), k) for BYU killing the 7th East Press student newspaper that enjoyed perpetuating the myth of “Adam/God Theory” as official doctrine, l) for getting fired from Ensign magazine, and m-z) as the list goes on and on.

All in all, 146 grievances. Wow. That many? And, if that many, surely there are hundreds more she could have cited! Good god, we get the point: Anderson hates authority, loves her causes, and uses her friends as fodder for her apostasy. Again, in Anderson’s mind, she and her friends are victims — not free-will actors, only victims. Her enemies are neanderthal white males barely born in the 20th century who dismiss modernity, science, history, and, most importantly, facts. God help us without our facts!

Where to begin? How about here: My chronology overlaps Anderson’s. I am aware of most of what she writes about and maybe more in some instances. I am an adult convert (20) baptized on September 30, 1978 (a proud day in between sessions of General Conference whereat members sustained the blessing of the priesthood upon all worthy males). I attended BYU from 1980-1984. While at BYU, I co-published an independent student newspaper, The Western Scholar, at the precise time the 7th East Press was pissing off administrators.

I was a conservative activist at BYU overlapping with many of Anderson’s complaints. I helped to start BYU chapters of Young Americans for Freedom and, more my speed, Intercollegiate Studies Institute. I applauded when LDS apostles would chastise smug assholes such as Eugene England, Omar Kader, and homosexual D. Michael Quinn, among others. Yes, some decent people, such as George Pace, were called to the mat — but he was wrong about worshipping Jesus and Elder McConkie was right about worshipping Heavenly Father.

My faculty friends were few: Richard Vetterli, Reid Bankhead, Ray Beckham, and Reed Benson. The Western Scholar got wiped from BYU in the jet wash of the 7th East Press whereupon my crew wrote to President Jeffrey R. Holland about why the Scholar should be held accountable for the Press’s sins. After all, we defended our Church and orthodoxy. President Ezra Taft Benson wrote a personal note to President Holland asking “Why not?” on behalf of our plaintiff cry — but to no avail.

When the Press was writing about closeted gays at BYU, cheered on by the utterly pretentious Sunstone crowd, I was writing affirmatively about “Oneness and LDS Political Philosophy,” “Peacekeepers or Peacemakers?: An LDS Perspective on War and Peace,” and “An Open Letter,” wherein I challenged both the Left,

In the final analysis, I take comfort in the fact that religion classes are required for all to graduate from BYU, while Keynesian economics is not.

and the Far Right,

You remind me of a faithful but confused version of Abraham who upon receiving the word of the Lord faithfully placed his son upon the alter, raised his dagger, and, instead of heeding further revelation, stabbed his son in the heart.

Would it surprise Anderson and her acolytes that my friends and I invited and ran commentaries by BYU professor of Russian, Gary Browning, and BYU professor of English, Eugene England? The 7th East turd-bowl and high-brow but low-faith Sunstone never invited me or any of my friends to contribute commentaries.

All to say, I was there and Anderson not only sees each experience differently, but she also fails to nail the truth. Anderson thinks “facts” equal truth — perhaps the biggest and most common heresy among self-proclaimed LDS intellectuals. Robert Louis Stevenson had it correctly, “To tell the truth, rightly understood, is not just to state the true facts, but to convey a true impression.” Anderson admits early on that perhaps her thoughts are lacking a complete picture. Maybe. But what her thoughts really lack is truth and the personal integrity and commitment to seek the truth. Instead, she made her apostate bed years ago and truth has no part in apostasy. Victims love facts. Justice loves truth.

By the end of her 56 pages of complaining, lamenting, self-justifying, and excusing every apostate instinct developed over decades of spiritual deprivation, Anderson shares seven proposals in answer to her own question, what can we do about it?

1) Speak up (dear god, at least something new), 2) protest injustice, unrighteousness, and wrong (Anderson’s contribution = shut-the-fuck-up), 3) defend each other (yes, please, drag others down with you), 4) protest, expose, and work against an internal espionage
system that creates and maintains secret files on members of the church (please, please, please let my name by in that file so I don’t have to have a calling or speak or talk to anybody), 5) be more assertive with LDS Church leaders (how is that working for you so far?), 6) support, encourage, and sustain leaders who value honesty, integrity, and nurturing (read: the disobedient Saints who forget the First Great Commandment and shed buckets of tears over the Second Great Commandment), and 7) seek humility (impossible because humility would lead Anderson to follow the Prophet).

Anderson concludes her tome with this commitment: “I consider myself to be simultaneously a loyal Latter-day Saint, an intellectual, and a feminist. My identity involves all three elements. I cannot truncate my life by excising one or more elements in a misguided search for simplicity.” By “simplicity”, she means truth.

Here’s the deal. Mrs. Anderson cannot be a “loyal” Saint, as she defines loyal, an “intellectual” as she defines intellectual, or a “feminist” as she defines feminist. Not possible. Loyal to who? Intellectual regarding facts or truth? And feminist as in prepare and pass the sacrament? You are delusional, Mrs. Anderson. And I am speaking uncharacteristically subdued. If I was speaking unadulterated I would simply say your ideas are fucking crazy.

That any current apostate would cite Anderson as an inspiration speaks volumes to the emptiness of their hearts, minds, and souls. Anderson is held up as a profile in courage. She’s out of the Kingdom of God. How is that anywhere close to courageous? Paraphrasing the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob, “Fuck you and adieu.”




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