Update 9-11-13: Denver Snuffer has been excommunicated. You can read it on his blog.
A reader asked my opinion of a recent post about Denver Snuffer by Russell Stevenson over on Rational Faiths. Somehow I missed it even though I go there often. It’s entitled, “Housewife Danites: Denver Snuffer and the Suburban Underground” dated August 27, 2013. I had to laugh at the title and at much of the content. I like Russell’s style. So now we’re Facebook friends.
We’re going to see a lot more posts about Denver in the next few days and weeks. I suspect his disciplinary council on Sunday will not be attended by the most important person – Denver. I may be totally wrong, but the fact is we know he is starting his lecture tour on Tuesday. That’s a big clue he won’t be doing as the Stake President asked, so why show up? It’s a done deal, folks.
Update: I’ve been advised in the comments by one who knows that Denver will attend his council. As I wrote in the comment. I assume too much. To me, that’s a true sign of humility. Please forgive my arrogance for assuming otherwise. Also, remember, as the Stake President wrote in the summons, there are two options: disfellowshipment or excommunication.
Update2: There are those on the private email lists who have stated they will be fasting and praying for Denver. I feel to do the same. I was too quick to think that his case was open and closed – too quick to make him a martyr for the cause of free thought and dissent. Take what I write here with a grain of salt. Mine are only observations from afar. I do not know the man.
Russell writes about the Mormon underground which confused some of his readers. Not sure why the headline calls it the Suburban Underground, maybe someone else wrote that. Anyway, you’re going to have to wade through a lot of stuff to get to some of the meat of his comments about Denver, his appeal, why he matters and will continue to matter in at least the near future.
Confidence in the Face of Excommunication
Many people are fascinated by Denver Snuffer. I’m one of them. Yet I know I couldn’t do what he’s doing. God bless him and his family as he goes through this. Maybe it’s not a big deal because he’s expected it for so long. Perhaps the big day for Denver is not Sunday, but Tuesday. He might lose his church membership on Sunday but will teach things on Tuesday that are in his heart.
As I wrote in my last blog entry, if my Stake President said take down your blog or at least stop writing about Denver Snuffer, I would do as he asked. I expressed how much I need the temple and the Sacrament each week. Think of it. If he is excommunicated, Denver will no longer have access to those, nor the right, according to the church, to exercise his priesthood or to even wear the temple garments.
Since it is a commandment to pay tithing, if he desires to do so, it must be paid through another family member. There is the stigma in our LDS community of being shunned, even though it is a time when former members need the most love. There is the possible loss of income from former business associates who choose not to be associated with a man who has been excommunicated.
Something Different About Denver
You’ve got to ask yourself why he would be willing to give all this up. In his latest posts he hints at some of his conversations with his stake president, how he has tried to comply and yet how he cannot or will not give up the publishing contracts. Did you know that he donates all proceeds from the sale of his books to the church missionary fund? He does not promote them by the way.
There is something different about Denver Snuffer and everyone who writes about him both sees it and writes about it. We who have been following this saga over the past year or two since the release of Passing the Heavenly Gift see there are mainly two camps: those who love him and those who hate him [See my comment in response to Ray below]. Russell Stevenson writes in his post about The-Church-in-Waiting.
Denver referred to this idea a couple of posts ago on his blog, pointing out that the establishment of Zion is not and will not be brought about by an institution such as the LDS Church. That’s quite a claim, but actually quite tame compared to some of the things folks have been quoting in the many (138 now) comments on my post from the day Denver announced his summons to the world.
Something for Both Camps
I know this may seem like I’m wandering a little bit, but stick with me. It’s late, I’ve had a tough week and I’m tired. But I feel it’s important to get this posted tonight so folks will see it before this weekend. You can discount me because I’m a California Mormon but Russell Stevenson hit on something very important in his post: Denver Snuffer appeals to all kinds of Mormon folks.
I hate labels or groups, especially when it comes to people but we all do it. Take a look at what Russell is saying: He points out clearly that Denver appeals to conservative and liberal Mormons. He appeals to both men and women. He appeals to those who are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the church as well as those who are working to build the church up.
I get the impression Russell may have only recently been introduced to Denver’s writings, and had a lot of catching up to do in order to post his article with some credibility. But Stevenson does have credibility in Mormon history. Therefore I paid attention to his main point: Denver has appeal. That’s the bottom line. The man has charisma; he has confidence and exudes authority.
Wish I Could Be There Tuesday
Maybe that’s because he’s an attorney, or maybe it’s because of his claim to have met with the Savior. Not many people can or have made that claim. Denver has gone to great pains to make sure his picture is not posted in his books or on flyers advertising when he is going to speak. He has explained many times it’s because he wants to draw attention to his message, not himself.
I wish I could be there in Boise next week but I’ve got a certification class for work I can’t miss. I’m looking forward to listening to the talk I’ve already preordered from Doug Mendenhall. In many ways I envy my friends on the private discussion groups who will be there. I believe it will be an electrifying moment. Denver has a message he or someone who inspired him wants heard.
I can just see some of the opposing comments to this post now: “Yeah, we know that someone who inspired him is the devil.” Yep, some of the comments are that bad and worse, but for the most part, I’m grateful for my readers who are willingly and deliberately civil even though they disagree. I am fairly certain some from the SCMC have been adding their comments as well.
My conclusion on Denver’s Appeal
So what is that appeal of Denver Snuffer? He must be excruciatingly annoying to those who are able to poke holes in his arguments. They do a pretty good job too. Even some of his supporters have asked questions that make you wonder if he has contradicted himself or dramatically changed his beliefs or teachings between the time of his first book and his last one – PtHG.
The appeal is that he has not self-imploded like so many apostates have over the years. Note that I used the word apostate. Yes, if he is excommunicated, he can be considered an apostate from the LDS Church. In the minds of some people, that changes everything. To me, it does not make one bit of difference. I don’t see Denver as fighting against the Church but maybe I’m wrong.
Denver appeals to people who find something lacking in the LDS Church. I think Stevensen mailed it when he wrote about the idea of The Church-in-Waiting with one exception. We’re not looking to leave the church. We want the things the Lord has promised – to be taught by angels and to be invited to be a part of the Church of the Firstborn – obviously not an earthly institution.
Invitation to Dialog
Does any of this scare you? What are your thoughts? I love to read your comments. Thanks for visiting my blog and thanks for sharing what you think. You help me grow. That’s why I blog. And Richard, did I answer your question? I told you I might make it public if it got too long. In short, I loved Russell’s post. It made me think. I didn’t find it offensive, I found it humorous.