The recent uploading of the Moura “Joseph Smith” Daguerreotype has brought a lot of attention (and criticism) to this blog, especially from intellectual quarters. Intellectuals and myself are like water and oil: we don’t mix, at all. In order to explain why I’ll have to get a little personal…
When I was just a kid, my scores were so much higher than my classmates that my teacher decided to split our class into three sections: A, B and C. Virtually all of my friends were in the middle and lower sections. I was in the highest section with Jill, the only other high scoring classmate.
I was both happy and unhappy with this arrangement. On the one hand, Jill was the prettiest girl in class, so I was happy to spend all my time alone with her. On the other hand, as all my friends were in the middle to lower sections, I now couldn’t spend time with them. This ticked me off. It also caused a lot of tension and fights as those in the “lower class” resented those in the “upper class,” especially my friend Ryan, who had the hots for Jill, and who was insanely jealous of my “luck.”
Later, a change of schools brought me into what was termed the Gifted and Talented Program. Once again, I was separated from my friends and put into a different class, with different people. These kids were from other schools, except for myself and Jennifer, another high scorer. I noticed that they were mostly nerds and prideful, arrogant children that thought they were better than everyone else and that judged others based upon their knowledge. It made me sick to be there, as it was so anti-gospel. (By this time I had converted to Mormonism.)
At some point there came the letter that most parents would get giddy over: an invitation from MENSA to join their organization. My mother left it up to me to decide. It was a no-brainer. I tore up the letter and chucked it into the garbage. I have never regretted my decision.
Since my childhood, my experiences with intellectuals have inevitably been the same, with but few exceptions: They like to use big words. “And [Sherem, an Anti-Christ] was learned [he was an intellectual], that he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people; wherefore, he could use much flattery, and much power of speech, according to the power of the devil.” (Jacob 7: 4) They love to quote other “authorities.” They like to presume they know whereof they are talking about and that you don’t. They like to use sarcasm. They can’t stand being corrected. They like to argue. They do not engage in edifying conversation. (See D&C 50.) They feel that their degrees and studies at a University demonstrate that they actually know something. And they judge everyone based upon what they don’t know and based upon their lack of knowledge of what the “experts” have said. “And many more such things did [Korihor, an Anti-Christ] say unto them, telling them that…every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius [intellectual power].” (Alma 30: 17)
The possession of, type of and amount of knowledge is the ruler that intellectuals use to measure others. In my early days, I was being trained as an intellectual and would have done the same thing, had God not given me an early introduction to the gospel of Jesus Christ and taught me to discard that ruler as a measuring stick. A man is not saved by knowledge. A man is saved by faith. (See my continuing series of articles on faith as I expound upon this principle.) I learned that when judging others, if one were to judge them, faith must be the measuring stick, not knowledge. But intellectuals do not agree with this assessment.
Throughout my life, I’ve come across two classes of intellectuals: LDS and non-LDS. One would think that the addition of the letters “LDS” would make a world of difference between the two, but in my experience the difference is merely in degrees. The non-LDS intellectuals are, by and large, atheists, having no faith and thus no spiritual experiences whatsoever. The LDS intellectuals have little faith and thus minimal spiritual experiences. In other words, the thread that binds them both to each other is a general lack of faith.
My experience is that LDS intellectuals get, at best, “feelings.” (Many of the non-intellectuals do, too.) Revelations (the type that you can write down) seem to be rare among LDS and even rarer (as in non-existent) among intellectual LDS. Prophecies, visions, dreams, angels? Forget it. Gift of tongues and interpretation? Lower manifestations that only happen during the mission. Administrations, operations, discerning of spirits, miracles, audible voices, etc. are all scarce among intellectuals.
I have also observed that when RM intellectuals are telling of spiritual manifestations that have happened to them, they almost always give an experience from their mission. It’s like for two years the Lord is able to humble them sufficiently to get some small measure of spiritual experience under their belts, and then upon returning home they resume their intellectual studies and spiritual mediocrity. But I emphasize that the experience was usually of small measure. Granted, small is better than nothing.
As a society we’ve come to glamorize knowledge and college degrees. An intellectual, therefore, is someone special, superior even. Many people are intimidated by them. And they try to maintain that public image and fear factor. Yet, in my own experience with them, I have found them to be the group most likely to be devoid of, or severely lacking in, faith (with but few exceptions.) Because of this, when I come across an intellectual my expectations of the encounter are usually pretty low.
I am not alone in this assessment. The Lord himself speaks of them in the harshest of terms.
Jacob said, “When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.” (2 Ne. 9: 28 )
The Lord despises intellectuals “who are puffed up because of their learning and their wisdom,” and “save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.” (See 2 Ne. 9: 42.)
Intellectuals “contend with one another” and “teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance.” (See 2 Ne. 28: 4.) If you look over the Internet discussions that are occurring in intellectual circles over my recent posting of the Moura Daguerreotype, which looks like Joseph Smith’s death mask, you’ll see plenty of contention generated when anyone has a contradictory opinion. You’ll also notice the general attempt to get the Holy Ghost and all spiritual manifestations out of the discussion.
Intellectuals that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts “shall be thrust down to hell.” (See 2 Ne. 28: 15.)
The world (and the church) have generally adopted the Nephite educational model: “And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning; yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches.” (3 Ne. 6: 12)
Intellectuals are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (See 2 Timothy 3: 7)
So, I welcome to this blog all the intellectual, teach-me-nothing know-it-alls: the scholars, the academics, the experts, the authorities, the wannabes and their worshipers. Yes, I still think you are all one taco short of a combination plate and incapable of spiritual enlargement. (You all probably think the same of me.) Yet, although I don’t believe you’ll actually learn anything here, it’s nice to know that after all these years I’m still irritating your kind.