Are You An Individual Or An LDS Avatar?

General Musings

Recently, Jordan Peterson was interviewed by Dennis Prager at the PragerU Summit. (Available at the following link: The exchange is well worth the watch. The following is a particularly telling section of the interview which I transcribed. 

(This is all Jordan Peterson. See if you can identify the parts where he sounds  suspiciously like Joseph Smith. Emphasis is mine. My comments in [ ].)

"One of the things that bothers me about the modern university, is the absolute lack of gratitude that characterizes its teachings. It’s half the story. People are oppressed by nature, and people are oppressed by culture, and people are oppressed by their own, dark side. That’s an existential reality. But you have to balance that. 

"You have to understand that nature has its benevolent element. That’s what has given you life. You have to be grateful for your culture, for everything that it has provided to you. You have to understand that people can be good as well as adversarial and malevolent and you have to be grateful for that. 

"There’s a damnable shortage of gratitude in the modern academy. And that’s based on a naiveté or a resentment and a willful blindness [can you spell froward?] to the reality of history that’s so deep that it’s almost incomprehensible.

"There are debates about free speech on campus, about who should talk and who shouldn't and people think that's what the debate is about—who should talk and who shouldn't—but that's not what the debate is about. The debate on campus is about whether or not a human being has the capacity to communicate intelligibly as an individual or not. 

"And the answer for the post-modernist collective types is that there is no such thing as an individual and therefore the very notion of free speech is absurd because free speech is predicated on the idea that each of us have something to say that's ours, that's a consequence of our unique individuality not our group identity or the multiplicity of our group identities. 

It's something that we have that speaks from our spirit that can speak to the spirit of another and produce a negotiated peace and that's what's being debated. That's the war that's going on philosophically or theological. It is far deeper than you think. Though the entire notion of the reality of the individual which is, I think, also the entire notion of the idea that human beings are made in the image of God. Most fundamentally, that is what's being attacked. 

"If you don't have the idea of the sovereignty of the individual because there's no individual, then there's no free speech. All you are is an avatar of your group interests and if I'm not in your group it's not in my interest to let you speak. There's nothing that we have to say to one another. There's nothing but power. It's a Hobbesian Nightmare* of group against group and that's the postmodern doctrine. [LDS institution, are you listening?]

*[“The Hobbesian Nightmare is herein used to mean a chaotic, conflict-torn society where social strata are engrossed in a self-centered perpetual antagonism that escalates to wide scale violence...” Gumbo B (2014) The Hobbesian Nightmare in the Arab League: A Collision of Identity Politics and National Interests in Middle East Conflicts. J Pol Sci Pub Aff 2:133. doi: 10.4172/2332-0761.1000133]

"And so to call it appalling is to barely scrape the surface. It is truly an assault on the most fundamental principles by which the West is governed it's not surface level philosophy it goes all the way to the bottom. This is partly why I've been concentrating on religious themes in my lectures because the argument goes all the way down to first principles. Is the idea of the sovereignty of the individual correct? The Western answer is that's the most fundamental truth. That is exactly what's under assault at the universities. 

"I think further that they do not wish to shoulder the unbearable responsibility of being a sovereign individual. And that accounts for the cowardice and for the attempts to weaken the spirit of the people that they're teaching by over protecting them. They're not willing to take on the responsibility, and that the fault has to lie elsewhere. 

"I think that's a good judge of someone's character in general. Well the world is in a messy state, let's say, and the question is whose fault is it? And the answer is: it’s yours. That's the right answer it's not the patriarchy it's not some identifiable group it's not some structure that's gone wrong even though those things can go wrong. That's the other fundamental truth of the West is that things would be a lot better if you were a lot better and you have to decide if you're willing to accept that. You have every reason not to. It's a terrible thought. 

"Solzhenitsyn, I think said, and this is a paraphrase but it's close enough, he said that one person who stopped lying could bring down a tyranny. When I first read that I thought that can't possibly be true. And as I understood it I thought, that can't possibly NOT be true because the only thing that can break the spine of a tyranny is the truth. And the only way that the truth can be told is that some individual tells it. So it's necessarily the case that tyranny is broken by the truth of the individual. 

"But then the question is, well, is it going to be you that's going to do that? It's no trivial thing you know. People come and tell me very frequently and they write me and they say, well, you know I agree with what you say and this terrible thing is happening in my workplace and I don't know what to do about it and I don't want you to make my story public because of the potential for repercussions. 

"I understand your position, it's no joke—it's no joke! Stand up when the amateur totalitarians are knocking on your office door but if you don't, then sooner than you think, it'll be the professional totalitarians."

I think a significant salient issue in the above Jordan Peterson quote is aptly juxtaposed with the 11th Article of Faith: 

"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

Peterson describes the war between group-think and individualism. And not just Ayan Rand individualism, (BTW, Atlas Shrugged is high on my favorite-books list), but "made in the image of God" individualism--an important distinction. The modern LDS institution philosophizes about our being children of God seeking individual knowledge, but then turns right around and requires the practice of group-think.

It appears that the brethren would suggest that "our own conscience" actually means "the conscience of the church and its leaders." "Our own conscience" then becomes, "our own collective conscience." I do not believe for an instant that Joseph Smith thought anything of the kind when he wrote his Wentworth letter.

His statement that too much reliance on him would darken minds is informative. Joseph, apparently, thought each of us has an individual opportunity to connect with the mind of God. This negates any necessity for group-think among mortals. However, the brethren would, thereby, lose all control of LDS members. And, of course, we can't have that.

In May of 1842, Joseph counselled with the sisters of the Relief Society. The pen of Eliza R. Snow recorded this: "Prest. J. Smith rose, read the 14th Chap. of Ezekiel— said the Lord had declar’d by the prophet that the people should each one stand for himself and depend on no man or men…that they were depending on the prophet hence were darkened in their minds from neglect of themselves— envious toward the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy."

It's no wonder we ignore the teaching of Joseph Smith. Or Ezekiel. The 14th chapter of Ezekiel recounts an a visit to Ezekiel by "certain of the elders of Israel":

"And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face; should I be inquired of at all by them?

"Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh, according to the multitude of his idols;" (JST Ezekiel 14:2-4)

There is so much more to Ezekiel 14 that it deserves a post of it's own but suffice it to say that the Lord is not pleased with men who have false hearts. The Lord stands ready to inform any who ask and upbraids not. Who can deny that the Lord, through Ezekiel, has declared that "follow the prophet" is the heart of blasphemy? Then further, who can deny that the Lord loves those who think for themselves and seek after Him? Group-think is a tactic of any "...which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart..." (Ezekiel 14:7) 

James Talmage wrote in his book, Articles of Faith, the following: "Knowledge, therefore, is essential to worship; man cannot adequately serve God in ignorance; and the greater his knowledge of the divine personality, the fuller and truer will be his adoration. He may learn to know the Father, and the Son who was sent; and such knowledge is man's guaranty to eternal life."

Oh the horror! It's a good thing Bro. Talmage has passed. He would surely be ex'ed for publishing such a refutation of the authority and coercive arrogance of the modern brethren. His assertion that we can actually "know" the Father and the Son is known as apostasy today. The further assertion that the knowledge of God is the path to eternal life negates the argument of the brethren that following THEM is the only path that is a "guaranty to eternal life."

That the world would banish the very thought that we are sovereign, (meaning agents unto ourselves), individual children of God, is not surprising. That the modern LDS institution would join in that fight and insist that we all join hands around the campfire singing Kumbaya while we dissolve our individuality into modern Mormon group-think, is, in my view, further evidence of its apostasy. 

In modern Mormon group-think, there is no place for individual conscience. And if there is no place for individual conscience, there is no room for God. Shafts of envy, indeed.

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