August 6, 2009

Robert White: On Being an Apologist- Imperatives, Predicaments, Perils, and Blessings



As my public ministry came to an end and I wondered what I would do with my time, I was very fortunate to be introduced to FAIR. And to encounter faithful LDS who are working without formal calling, but with a divine mandate, to defend the truth of the restored gospel. It has been a miracle to watch, and to feel the presence of the Spirit when people have spoken of things which can save souls. There is no place I would rather have been.

I apologize I am not wearning a tie, but I have waited 40 years to be able to speak to Saints without wearing one, and this country of yours is hot! [Applause]

[Talked a little about Canada/US relations, a few funny stories.]

A few thoiughts of mine serve only as seeds to greater thoughts of your own as you search further. We have been educated and touched by people who know what they have to say and that what they say is right. We can be certain, by what is apparent to the bretheren, that still, on the earth, among all nations, sects, parties and denominations, thousands and thousands are only kept from the truth because they do not know where to find it, and we know there is another bunch doing their utmost to stop them from finding it.

My family was part of the 1st Presbytyrian Church. That's where I heard of God. We were Scottish Presbyterians. I thank God for the Reverend J. MacBeth Miller, Who showed me that God is real, and that He loves me.

I asked him when the wings will grow on our backs and how will we get our clothes on. He said "Aye, Laddie, that's a mystery of God!"

I am aware as a LDS who does apologetics thatt here are very fine people who are not of our faith, and so I am not at all ashamed about being a LDS apologist. But how in the world did we ever get into this, what were we thinking? it is sometimes maligned even by members of the Church. Some want to know why we are even apologizing. Others think we should be forever apologizing to them. We know our conspiracy to take over the world is probably something to apologize. Well, we ought to apologize when we make mistakes. [Shows picture of Bill Maher flipping the bird. For reals.]

I believe we are mandated by heaven to be apologists. I believe there are 3 references in revelations that seem to address something only FAIR can do, and does.

1. "Confound thine enemies. Inasmuch as ye are faithful their shame shall be made manifest. Wherefore let them bring their strong reasons, no weapon formed against thee shall prosper..." (See D&C 71:7-11.)

Revelation from when JS went from Kirtland to Hiram about 60kms. (Or 35 miles since you don;t know the distances in the mother country). Many revelations and translation of the Bible was done in John Johnson home. They were told to do some apologetic work. Ezra Booth, joined church because of a miracle, and then quit because there weren't enough miracles, has the distinction of making the first anti-Mormon blog. He published in the Ohio Star. He was soon joined by Simonds Ryder, though I can't quite remember how to spell it. By the way there's a spelling error on his tombstone, I think that was inspired!) The church doesn't engage institutionally in confounding enemies but we can do it. We don't seek debates and fights, we provide answers. Let them bring their strong reasons. Their new book on the Spalding manuscript, (God help us...) George Smith's thing about polygamy, DNA that was supposed to be the end of the Church, Hofmann's salamander letter. I was bishop of student ward when it happened, some poor man and his wife said they were leaving the church at the time, and one of my counselors asked what we would do. I said it is very simple. If the letter is genuine the church isn;t true. He said that is bold. I said, well, the church is true, so we can consider the letter a fake.

The true defense is in ensuring people receive a testimony.

We are the line in the sand. We don't promulgate or declare doctrine, we are not officially assigned by the Church, we do not seek fights, but we are Latter-day Saints, true to the truth that our parents have cherished and true to the truth that for martyrs have perished. We put up a barrier that says this far, no further. And so in Elder Maxwell's memorable statement, we protect those fragile souls whose faith may falter.


2. "And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith." (D&C 88:118-119)

Second Mandate, after dedication of Kirtland Temple. This verse shows what we are learning for. "As all have not faith." These people have not brought their knowledge to show off, but to help those who have not faith, who can get to the point where they can have faith, because to some it is given to know and to some it is given to believe on their words.

I hope that you feel the Holy Spirit bear witness to you that you have been divinely mandated to do what you do and may God bless you in it.

3. "Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will and bring to pass much righteousness. For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good, they shall in no wise lose their reward. (D&C 58:27-28).

Third mandate, and all of us know what it is. Joseph in August of 1831 determined where Zion should be. The placement of a cornerstone of a temple there. People questioning him about everything so he went to the Lord and he received a revelation. No apologies for that.

As I made the transition from General Authority to try to pitch in however I can, I saw very quickly that the adversary knows he has to destroy you or lose the war, and that you stand between him and many of his objectives. That won't go to your heads because you wouldnb't be here if it did. But apologetics is extremely dangerous work. We can't do it just like CS Lewis did, and we love Lewis, "We quote him often, and even occasionally in context." Here'ssomething he said:

"I have found that nothing is more dangerous to one's own faith than the work of an apologist. No doctrine of that Faith seems to me so spectral, so unreal as one that I have just successfully defended in a public debate. For a moment, you see, it has seemed to rest on oneself: as a result, when you go away from that debate, it seems no stronger than that weak pillar. That is why we apologists take our lives in our hands and can be saved only by falling back continually from the web of our own arguments, as from our intellectual counters, into the Reality-- from Christian apologetics into Christ Himself. That also is why we need one another's continual help--oremus pro invincem." -CSL (The Joyful Christian: 127 Readings by C. S. Lewis, Simon & Schuster, pp. 184-185.)

We must not let apologestics become our faith, we must not let it stop us. We are first and foremost Latter-day Saints.

"For behold, God has said, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent, it profiteth him nothing."

The Lord wants us to test the fruit, taste and see. As good as it looks, if you taste it, you'll know. Be so very careful with where you go to learn. Some groups like to sit around at certain places and ridicule. How can they sit around and laugh about a talk about boys and factories and sit around and laugh, and theyve never had to counsel the boys and try to save souls. Instead we look for a club to sit around and complain about things all the time.

We must be courageous enough to enunciate our doubts and resolve them, as Brother Barney says.

I saw a blog talking about a mistake in one of the manuals. A dear young brother, who knows a lot, whipped out his phone and confirmed there was a mistake in the manual, so he texted his friend, and he texted another person, etc. And I worriede that all they took home was a mistake in the teachers manual. There's more to it, of course, referring to the Marsh story (maybe it makes him look better than it should!) but is that all they took home? 

Sometimes the intentions are good but the results arenot the best. So I wonder about this inoculation concept. How are we going to know what viruses we should inoculate against, and for whom? An inoculation that may be good for the first chap in line may not be good for the next fellow.

We need to appreciate the fact that our people begin to think that every expectation they have will be met. To think that we deserve to know the answers to all questions or that we do know them is dangerous ground. So I wonder, do the Latter-day Saints need inoculating? Or do they need transfusions?

The announcement has been made that Gospel Principles will be the next manual and I know there have been complaints. But we need to understand that what is happening is not inoculate, but to transfuse the basics back into the Saints.

When Saints see JS translated using a hat they wonder what the deal is. For one person it becomes a doubt, for another it becomes a question. What makes the difference? As thinking Laytter-day Saints they will want to settle the question, but it will not deprive them of their testimony of the truth.

Now I know some of you may be worried that I have fallen into the trap of the warm fuzzies. You know on the message boards we try to get people to join the church by warm fuzzies. Nothing could be further from the truth, because one must first hear the word from one who is truly sent and then act upon it. That leads to faith in Jesus Christ, not to an explanation to how the Book of Mormon was dictated, or why section 5 has two verses with the wording changed, or why the rod of nature became the rod of Aaron, or all the rest of it. It leads  them to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And experience shows if they have that faith they can get out of a boat in the middle of a storm and walk on water. Now of course there is some sinking, why didst thou doubt, but emeber the Lord reached out and grabbed his hand and brought him back.

FAIR stands as an example that we know these things and that we know there are answers or that it is ok./ And that is how FAIR is saving souls. Hopefully it leads to rependtance, to increased faith, to baptism, then the Holy Ghost, which most often settles gently, but does sometimes come with such a communitive joy that it feels as though our hearts are bruning, and sometimes it is a voice so stil and small.

Well, that's the process that appears to be the Lord's plan. And as we have confidence in the Church making available the things we heard of from Brother Barney, making research available to all, keep in mind the 3 mandates. It is another testimony to me that this organization has come together as by the hand of the Lord. It is spoken of with unreserved praise by the bretheren.

Well,I guess we do have warm fuzzy feelings. But it is so supernal that if one hasn;t experienced it, one can;t explain it.

Well, these are just some things to think about.

"The gift of the Holy Ghost comes after one repents and becomes worthy. The Holy Ghost bears witness of the truth and impresses upon the soul the reality of God and Christ so deeply that no earthly power or authority can separate him from that knowledge.e" -Pres. Faust, a little paraphrased, Ensign April 1996 p. 4.

Learn line upon line, and express gratitude for the men and women of FAIR who have learned and taught because all of us have not faith, and may we maintain a firm determination to help each other. Now I sit next to you as a brother in sacrament meeting. But when the end of my public ministry came the Lord did not erase from my mind that which had changed from a testimony to a witness. My beloved friends, I know that the Lord Jesus Christ lives and is our Savior. And that Joseph was his prohet and that Thomas S. Monson is. I know that. I bear witness of it in the name of the God of Israel, Amen.


Q: What do you think of academic works such as Brother Bushman's book?

A: What I think of it is altogether irrelevant. What is important is faith in the Lord, an abiding testimony.











28 comments:

Cameron said...

I was looking forward to the write up of his talk!I was not disappointed! Elder White came to our stake in 2004 as an Area Authority 70 and I remember that experience.

Cameron
Winnipeg

BHodges said...

Thanks, Cameron.

Christopher said...

Wow.

BHodges said...

For clarification, I don't believe Robert White was calling on all people to be "apologists" in the sense that many folks at FAIR are apologists. (Technically, I think anyone who defends a position or view of "best way to do something" is an apologist). His idea is that FAIR itself has an important role to play in the faith of some members of the Church.

Christopher said...

His idea is that FAIR itself has an important role to play in the faith of some members of the Church.

But according to your own notes, that is emphatically not what he said. He claimed FAIR had a divine mandate to "do what FAIR does" and that only FAIR could accomplish that (by taking snippets of certain revelations completely out of context, no less).

He then proceeded to arrogantly dismiss intellectuals in the church who are, get this, arrogant in the way they express themselves. He claims that "we do not seek fights" but still managed to sneak in a few jabs and back-handed compliments to those who aren't part of the blessed FAIR organization.

Here's the deal, Blair. I long ago concluded that FAIR was just not my group. I'm not bothered by that at all, and try to not harbor any animosity to the organization. There are even a few apologists who volunteer for FAIR that I know and respect (you and Kevin Barney come to mind). So if you're up to it, I'd really appreciate an honest answer to this question:

I keep hearing representatives of FAIR claim that their mission is "saving souls," resolving doubts of troubled Latter-day Saints, etc. Robert White made this point throughout his talk, as indicated by your summary here. I am still not convinced that such is truly the primary aim of the apologists I read from time to time. Certainly these are sincere individuals genuinely concerned to some degree with helping people resolve concerns. But all to often, they seem instead to thrive on the snark, the debate, and the argument. Based on your report here, Robert White seems to, certainly.

Which is fine, but not what they are claiming to do and who they are claiming to be. And occasionally, FAIR representatives will make jabs at those snobby academics and intellectuals who aren't interested in studying history, theology, etc. with the express intent to "defend the faith" like the folks at FAIR, who are sure that they fulfilling a constructed "divine mandate." "We are the line in the sand."?? Really? Ugh.

This brings me to my question(s). I'm curious as to to point of the FAIR conference in relation to all of this:

Is the purpose of the FAIR conference to save souls, to resolve concerns, etc? Or is it, as this paper seems to indicate, more of a gathering of apologists who can pat themselves on the back, take jabs at "critics" outside the church and more liberal "intellectuals" within the church, and assure themselves that all of their efforts are not only worthwhile, but divinely mandated? Is the purpose to provide apologists with more ammunition with which to defend the faith against enemies, both real and perceived?

Christopher said...

On a semi-unrelated note, I am genuinely interested in your take on his answer to the question posed. Was he short on time, or was that really the best answer he could come up with? Let's pretend that the person asking the question was someone who had read RSR and struggled with any number of things that Bushman tackles. Is telling that person that "it doesn't matter; just have faith" really the best apologia he could muster?

Jared T. said...

Great notes, Blair. My notes at the Juvenile Instructor that I just put up on this have some details that add to what Christopher is saying here.

Christopher said...

I forgot to thank you for posting the notes, Blair. This is a great service for those unable to attend.

BHodges said...

Christopher, I'll have to spend more time thinking about your questions, but my initial impression is that you view FAIR as a place where people get together and make some fun of intellectuals and so forth. I have to emphasize again that no single person speaks for FAIR, even at the conference. There were aspects of Bob's talk that really resonated with me and other aspects I didn't care for. When he talks about saving souls he speaks from personal experiences with real members of the church in real situations where a helping hand has been offered. I believe there is an important place for historians, theologists, apologists and regular old members of the church (and sometimes these boundaries are quite mixed). For none of the above do I think my views are adequately represented by a majority of people there in terms of approach and tone. At the same time I have to realize I too am imperfect.

The question you might ask yourself is why are guys like Kevin Barney involved in FAIR to begin with, and what might that indicate about FAIR?

BHodges said...

As for the answer to the RSR question, I got the impression he was saying his personal opinion on it was irrelevant. Time was short, and I don't believe he meant to disparage the book. I could be wrong, but that is my general impression.

Also, for other readers, Jared from JI took notes on this talk as well, and it would be beneficial to compare them because there are some additional details he picked up.

David said...

Christopher: "I am still not convinced that such [resolving doubts] is truly the primary aim of the apologists I read from time to time."

I think part of FAIR's light gets put under a bushel. Answering 100-150 questions that come in each month is what the organization does best. The general public doesn't get to see private and personal counseling that goes on. For me, I occassionally feel like I am doing the same type of work that I did as a missionary in resolving concerns of an investigator or empathetically listening to issues that less active members of the church confided in me with.

I can not say that this aspect is my entire reason for getting involved with apologetics. As an engineer I like to solve puzzles. The conundrums posed by critics of the Church intellectually stimulate me as does the art of presenting a persuasive synthesis of the available data to others.

As far as patting ourselves on the back, I think gratitude and praise is the only reward we get for fulfilling a role that seems like it needs to be done. So it seems important to give ourselves a pep talk once in awhile. I know I am going to leave the conference more motivated to get a couple of publications I have been dragging my feet on finished.

--Keller

Anonymous said...

For those who are determined to see everything in the worst of light it will not matter what we say. FAIR has a mission statment that sums up what we are about and it is accurate and truthful. I know I have lost the desire or need to convince skeptics otherwise. FAIR has been subjected to more ridicule and snark than anything one speaker might put out. I would find it embarrassing to condemn Dialogue or Sunstone because of a few words from one speaker but there seems to be an accepted attitude openly applauded by some to do just that if it happens to come from FAIR. It is even more ironic because we often share the same speakers and writers. But as a result, I'd say we have been innoculated and the ongoing negativity is losing its punch. We put on a variety of speakers. They will all have different takes on things and we don't screen comments. When some onlookers are so hypersensitive that they can't even let a couple of sentences go by I don't think the problem is with FAIR. We will continue to allow people to speak. We will also continue to try to understand and *tolerate* other viewpoints. But we will stand for anyone's right to have opinions and express them. That includes those who are so determined to dislike us for the least of offenses. But like those folk, when one of us has such an opinion, they will likely feel just as free to say it. I would suggest doing what most do, discard the comments that rankle and tend to the many others that enlighten. By the way, part of a talk is the experience of being there, especially when the speaker is charismatic. Did he "pat us on the back"? You bet. And I hope someone does that for Sunstone. The difference is that there is not one person involved with FAIR who would think of complaining about it. It would not even occur to us.
Juliann

Ben said...

"FAIR has been subjected to more ridicule and snark than anything one speaker might put out. I would find it embarrassing to condemn Dialogue or Sunstone because of a few words from one speaker but there seems to be an accepted attitude openly applauded by some to do just that if it happens to come from FAIR."

Persecution complex at its best. If you think the same amount of "ridicule and snark" hasn't been thrown at Dialogue or Sunstone, then you are grossly mistaken. And FAIR has not received this reputation from just one, two, or just a few speakers. Sadly, it is a common occurrence, and unfortunately overshadows the good presentations. FAIR has had some great presentations over the years, but there are always the others that are the problems.

But I'll stop there, since, as one wise person put it, "those who are determined to see everything in the worst of light it will not matter what we say."

BHodges said...

Persecution complex or not, Ben, it can be rather frustrating when the only time FAIR people really hear from some of the bloggers, etc. is when something occurs that bothers them. You note there have been many good presentations etc. from FAIR, but where can we read comments and blog posts on these good aspects (aside from the compliments supplemented by a big "BUT" that follows)?

Ben said...

Blair: I appreciate your response, and hope i am making it clear that I do not place all FAIR participants under this umbrella.

I wish I could find a better answer, but I can only come up with this: I can't think of a noteworthy FAIR or FARMS (I know it's not the same organization, but I usually group them together) publication recently that I would have desired to highlight. I know there must be something there, but I'm not thinking of one. Ron's was nice, but I'm looking for something new and noteworthy.

Again, I acknowledge that I am not their target audience, so it may just be me. I think we like to point out FAIR's flaws, however, because they represent what some of us see as major problems with this particular apologist paradigm.

BHodges said...

I think the problems you see may have more to do with a desire to see others do things as you want them done, or think certain things should be done according to your training. The problem is that is is not useful to simply complain publicly about things without providing any solid advice or information on what you'd like to see done differently. Further, there is a certain feeling that if you don't personally think something is worthwhile then no one should. I know you must not believe that, but it is the impression you give when you say there isn't anything you have seen that has interested you, and then note an overall "paradigm" problem. As you know, there are different apologists and different apologetic approaches. Terryl Givens has been called an apologist. Richard Bushman has been called an apologist. What are we to make of these things? My point is this: FAIR is trying to serve a need that you fellows at the JI are not trying to fill. And that is fine, no problem. But don't be surprised at negative reactions to your critiques when you come from the sidelines to complain and not help, because the negativity certainly isn't helping.

We'll have to talk in person to work through the discussion, talking through comments on a blog isn't going to do it much justice. And don't worry, I am not upset or rankled. We'll have to talk more about it.

Non-JI Ben said...

I haven't really seen any paradigmatic critiques, only statements that FAIR participants are snarky and mean. (Unless you're referring post-modern critiques leveled at Lou Midgely and such.)

And if FAIR's paradigm or materials are failing, then produce something better or help FAIR to refine their by contributing instead of sniping from the sidelines or the ivory tower.

Ben said...

I need to get back to work, but I will say this. I don't think apologetics are bad. I really don't. I subscribe to your definition of apologetics: anything that is defending a certain view. I bet my writing can at times be seen as apologetic. But, I think the best way to do apologetics is to merely present the history and contextualize it rather than being reactionary and combative. I see Ron's (and Brant's, for that matter), presentation as doing the former, and White's as the latter. I don't think we need to focus ourselves on insulting the "other side" and going to war with the "enemy"; lets just focus on our own history. I actually really appreciated the 2008 Bushman Seminar in this regard. I tried to get at this in my post on Brown's First Vision book a couple months back.

I also like Bushman's distinction from his Church History article a little while back: apologists want to make war with critics, historians want to take them out to lunch.

Allen Wyatt said...

"I also like Bushman's distinction from his Church History article a little while back: apologists want to make war with critics, historians want to take them out to lunch."

I must be a historian, then, since I just had lunch with a critic at the FAIR Conference today. I've also had many meals with people that other LDS seldom do (such as members of the Street Preacher's Fellowship).

The constant political posturing of using "apologist" as a pejorative gets tiresome. Such argument is often made from ignorance and not rarely made from malice.

-Allen

BHodges said...

It also seems to be a simplistic distinction that all "apologists" like to fight, whereas scholars like to eat. I don't think that is entirely accurate, and furthermore even Bushman has been called an "apologist." (Not that I agree with that label for him, but to point out one man's scholar is another man's apologist). I think it is crucial to get away from thinking "apologists" are fighty mean folks and scholars aren't. It's a false distinction.

nevo.redivivus said...

Here is the context of the Bushman quote:

"Although seeing themselves as collaborators in the cause of Mormon history, apologists and new Mormon historians occasionally snipe at one another. The apologists wonder why the historians do not spring to the defense of the faith when Joseph Smith comes under attack. The apologists want to war with the critics; the historians ask them out to lunch.

At Mormon History Association meetings you can hear a critic vehemently attack Joseph Smith in one session while in the next room a presenter lauds Smith’s character and achievements. The apologists insist that the historians fail to understand what is at stake. The historians for their part question the apologists’ polemical writing and special pleading. They think the apologists repel readers with their bellicose style and unwillingness to yield points. Though assembled on the same campus at Brigham Young University and acknowledging each other as brothers and sisters in the gospel, they live in different worlds."


(Richard Lyman Bushman, "What's New in Mormon History: A Response to Jan Shipps," Journal of American History 94, no. 2 [1997]: 518-19)

I think Bushman would probably agree that his characterization of "apologists" and "historians" here is overly broad, but I think he identifies a real tension between the two approaches to "defending the faith."

BHodges said...

I don't know that some people would even call the "historian" in the situation a "defender of the faith," and there is sometimes the impression that being a "defender of the faith" is a shameful thing to do in any academic setting.

BHodges said...

Ben- I consider myself to be an apologist in some of the writing I do. Where do I fit into the fight/dine, apologist/historian distinction?

nevo.redivivus said...

I don't know that some people would even call the "historian" in the situation a "defender of the faith."

That's true. I should have just left it at "two approaches to doing Mormon history" rather than "two approaches to 'defending the faith.'"

Bushman, for his part, seems to shy away from overt apologetics, but he is also critical of the "historian's" tendency to "avoid strain between keeping the peace with non-Mormons and showing their colors as believers."

"We will write better," he says, "if we are less defensive, more open to criticism, more exploratory and venturous, but even with our inhibitions and parochialisms, we should come to the table with our Mormonism intact. It would be a mistake, in my judgment, for Mormon historians to check their beliefs at the door when they write" (see Bushman, "A Response to Jan Shipps," 521).

BHodges said...

A good quote.

JonW said...

I thought a bit about this whole issue after reading Jared's version at JI. Then I read a different but similar review here.

To me one of the most difficult tight ropes to walk is as a Mormon Academic in history. Often there is a perception that Mormon Historians are critical too much. As Bushman said so eloquently in the earlier post.

I remember in the 1990s as I was doing my history degree I was genuinely worried about doing Mormon history specifically because of the perception that academics fill people with falsehoods.

The institute I attended had wonderful teachers that would say some outlandish, and down right stupid things about academics. These comments honestly made me nervous.

Years later as I returned to academia as an older person I was less afraid of what people might think. I found a website like FAIR and enjoyed how it supported some of the things I held as truth. I liked FARMS for how it researched Book of Mormon issues and tried to resolve questions about origins of the people of the Book.

Then through FAIR and my own blogging I found the Bloggernacle in full swing. There were stories about church history and philosophy that I had never heard before. It set me a blaze with a desire to learn and study more about issues I had little knowledge of.

So in the end when I wrote Essays I wrote from an academic standpoint. I could understand the world around me as a member of the Church through the eye of academia.

Thanks to apologetics and academics I found myself better prepared to analyze all issues and not simply accept the face value approach.

I think too often both sides, including the so-called liberal and conservative Mormons get caught out in presenting the better argument. Rather than presenting a good addition. Neither side is wrong, neither side is wholly right. It is just too simple.

Personally I like the FAIR conference, I think it has contributions that are of value and should be commented on just as much as the negative viewed issue.

I know some in the Bloggernacle have issues with tactics. I will be honest I live in Northern Alberta in a city of 800,000 with three stakes. Mormons here are less likely to care about whether you believe Joseph Smith looked in a hat or if Brigham Young liked Black people or hated them.

In fact most will not have any idea about those issues. Not being close to the concentrated areas of Mormonism means you focus less on your differences and more on your togetherness.

To me I would like both sides of the debate to do the same really. We need each other, we do not need to question anyone's faith or common sense. I know, "I'm a dreamer,

but I am not the only one."

;)

BHodges said...

JonW, I really appreciate your comments, thank you.

Thanks to apologetics and academics I found myself better prepared to analyze all issues and not simply accept the face value approach.

Seconded.

BHodges said...

And parenthetically, it was more often the "apologists" who first reached out to help me with my interest in looking closer at LDS history and theology. After a while I found many school-attending folks and published researchers who likewise have treated me with respect and encouragement. People who spend more time engaging in defending the faith by responding to criticism as well as people who are doing straight-up scholarship without paying as much attention to "defending" so to speak have been great to get to know.

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