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"slanders quashed and settled"

Feb 07, 2002 06:44 AM
by kpauljohnson

--- In theos-talk@y..., <dalval14@e...> wrote:
> So far. as I read those posts, they have on the main, repeated
> slanders that were quashed and settled years ago. 

This phrase is telling, and provides an opportunity to discuss 
principles without reference to personalities. What Dallas 
calls "slanders that were quashed and settled years ago" I and many 
others would call "questions that remain unresolved despite a hundred 
years of Theosophical and anti-Theosophical polemics, and which are 
now receiving long overdue historical examination." Is this a matter 
of fact, or of opinion? Are there not objective criteria that would 
determine whether an issue has really been settled years ago or not? 
Dallas may wish that these "slanders" had been "quashed" but even a 
cursory glance at recent writings on HPB shows that the issues in 
question remain quite alive.

The temptation to *pretend* that a controversy had been settled years 
ago, even when it is abundantly clear that it had not, is 
understandable. It allows believers to file the most hot-button 
issues away in a drawer marked "not even worth thinking about."
For example, some Mormons would claim that anyone who says that the 
Book of Mormon is not an ancient document but rather a 19th century 
production is slandering Joseph Smith. Christian Scientists would 
say that anyone who says that Mrs. Eddy got a great deal of her 
system from P.P. Quimby is slandering her. And so on down the line. 
Some Mormons have written works that purport to prove the historicity 
of the Book of Mormon. Some Christian Scientists have written 
biographies that attempt to dismiss the influence of Quimby on Eddy.
And some members of these groups would say that any non-Mormon or non-
CS who raises these issues from the POV of historical scholarship is 
merely repeating slanders that were quashed and settled years ago. I 
think that word "quashed" speaks volumes about the mindset of such 
believers. Dallas goes on to say:

On the basis
> of fairness and accuracy in reporting, I have always understood
> that true scholarship was impersonal. Hence in the service of
> accuracy, such true scholarship reveals every side of a question
> as a matter of course. 

Which means that religious believers who declare the topics explored 
by historical researchers "slanders quashed and settled years ago" 
(despite abundant evidence to the contrary) lack the impersonality 
required for true scholarship.

If this is not done, then the research is
> either fragmentary and unfinished, or it is opinionated, and as
> such, it does not yet deserve the designation of "history."
All historical research is fragmentary and unfinished. All 
historical works include opinion. There is not a finite number 
of "sides" past which we can say there aren't any more left; people 
will keep looking at new sides as long as the subject in question 
attracts new historical research.


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