Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Another day at the office

Despite our best efforts to prevent anyone from learning about the false tradition Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery started when they wrote and published Letter VII so many times, the word is getting out.

We've made it clear that the prophets and apostles who have republished and quoted from Letter VII over the years, and who have stated in General Conference that the real Hill Cumorah is in New York, are all perpetuating this false tradition.

Nevertheless, more and more people are learning about the ridiculous Heartland and Moroni's America ideas about Book of Mormon geography. It's exasperating.

To give you an idea of what it's like to maintain control of the situation, here's a webcam from our office on a typical day:

Please help us prevent members of the Church from thinking that Cumorah is in New York. Emphasize the two-Cumorahs theory whenever you get a chance.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Moses Was a Mayan

We don't know how many people noticed this, but we can now announce that Moses--the Moses of the Ten Commandments, who wrote the Book of Genesis--was a Mayan.

Remember back on September 9, 2016, we published a fantastic no-wise that proved Samuel the Lamanite was a Mayan because he prophesied in terms of one baktun--the Mesoamerican measure of 400 years. Here's the link:

We even provided a new translation:

As Clark put it, “Samuel the Lamanite warned the Nephites that one baktun ‘shall not pass away before … they [would] be smitten’ (Helaman 13:9).”8

We didn't mention this at the time, but Moses, too, recorded a prophecy in terms of 400 years:

Genesis 15:13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;

This can now be translated this way: "And they shall afflict them one baktun."

We've come full circle.

Genesis itself is a Mesoamerican codex!

Note: There are some people out there who think the Nephites were of Semitic origin and therefore would have been familiar with Genesis and the significance of the children of Israel being in bondage to the Egyptians for 400 years. But Samuel the Lamanite was not referencing Genesis; he didn't even mention Moses! It's clear from our own translation that he was referencing Mayan mythology and calendars.

Just because Nephi, Jacob, and King Limhi referred to the Children of Israel being brought of out the land of Egypt doesn't mean Samuel the Lamanite knew that history. It's far better to realize that Moses, when he wrote Genesis, was referencing Mayan mythology and calendars.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Another absurd No-Wise to be proud of

We're happy to announce we've come up with another No-Wise you should read. Meridian Magazine re-published it here:

It's one of our best ones yet. You'll be impressed that we managed to bring up volcanoes again! This time it's in connection with the Jaredites. You see, birds won't fly away in times of drought. No, it's better if volcanoes kill them.

That makes a lot more sense, because there are volcanoes in Mesoamerica. See, we even showed a map of volcanoes in Mesoamerica to prove the volcanoes killed the birds, which let snakes reproduce wildly, etc., etc.

Now, check out our awesome Jaredite serpents map. See how easy it is for snakes to set up a 120-mile wide roadblock through the jungle? Exactly how the Book of Ether describes it.

Complete with the volcanoes the Jaredites constantly contended with.

We actually cited an article from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a city located on the Susquehanna River, as evidence that the serpents in Ether 9 were in Mesoamerica!

Pretty sweet, huh?

Here's what the articles says: "The hot, dry summer has drawn an unusual number of rattlesnakes out of their mountain lairs and into the valleys."

The article includes a photo of a rattler with this caption: "A venomous Timber Rattlesnake shown here from Clyde Peeling's Reptiland is common to this area."

But that's in Pennsylvania, and we obviously don't want to show a map of Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, some careful readers might notice.

Therefore, we have to provide a

**Trigger warning.**

Hopefully you haven't read Moroni's America, but if you have, we need to warn you that we're going to address the ridiculous ideas in that book so you know we're not coming anywhere near it. We're continuing to censor any reference to it on this web page, except to warn you about anyone who perpetuates the false tradition started by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery about the New York Hill Cumorah.

You'll recall that, according to the ideas in Moroni's America, the Susquehanna River leads directly to the small neck of land. Which is not far from the hill Ramah, which the Nephites called Cumorah. But we know that hill is in southern Mexico, and we would have cited an article from Mexico if we could have found one, but the one in Pennsylvania, along the Susquehanna River, is the best one we could find. Don't infer from this citation that we think there are poisonous serpents in North America near the false tradition of Cumorah.

Here's a related map that we wouldn't want our followers to see, so keep it to yourselves.

You also recall that according to Moroni's America, the Jaredite lands were north of the land of Zarahemla, which made Zarahemla the land southward to the Jaredites. This map shows the historcial range of poisonous serpents exactly where Moroni's America says they would be, and they block the passage to the south. 

But because we know Moroni's America is based on that false tradition started by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, if anyone questions you about this, just explain that LDS scholars, including the Council of Springville, have determined that there is less than a 2% chance that Moroni's America has any validity.

In other words, anyone who tells you that Cumorah is in New York is lying, even if they're in the First Presidency and they say it in General Conference. 

Because we should trust the scholars, not the prophets and apostles.

You also recall that according to Moroni's America, the rivers function as borders between the land northward and southward. Never fear. We apologize to you, our readers, but we had to acknowledge the biological reality that snakes would stop at a river border. "If a river or otherwise wet habitat lay between the Jaredites and the land southward, then a large population of snakes would settle there and “hedge up the way” to the land southward."

Don't be concerned, though. We just mentioned this as a possibility. We're not saying rivers actually were borders in the Book of Mormon.

Now, repeat after us the Springville Creed:

Never doubt us.
The Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica,
Cumorah is in southern Mexico, and anyone who says otherwise is perpetuating a false tradition.

Because we're scholars.


Here's the Pennsylvania article in its entirety in case that link doesn't work.

August 18, 2005 

A venomous Timber Rattlesnake shown here from Clyde Peeling's Reptiland is common to this area.
Photo by Michael Bavero/The Daily Item

Heat and drought bringing
snakes out of their dens

By Eric Mayes
The Daily Item

HARRISBURG — The hot, dry summer has drawn an unusual number of rattlesnakes out of their mountain lairs and into the valleys.
Rattlesnake sightings seem to be higher than normal this year, said Dan Tredinnick, press secretary to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Although lacking hard statistics on either the population of rattlers in Pennsylvania or the number of humans who have encountered them this summer, he said his office is getting more calls about them than normal.
"We don’t have any quantitative data," said Mr. Tredinnick. "But anecdotally, that is being reported all over Pennsylvania."
The combination of heat and little rainfall is probably the cause, he said.
"If people are seeing snakes and other reptiles that (lack of water) is very likely the reason," he said. "Just like us, they need water."
Areas where they might traditionally slake their thirst may have dried up, he said, leaving the snakes no other choice but to go looking for new watering holes.
"They will go and seek other areas and the type of habitat they need," he said.
There may be other causes depending on the location. Human activity such as lumbering or clearing land for new homes could drive snakes into new areas but widespread sightings this year seem to point to a lack of water.
His advice for anyone who encounters a rattlesnake is "leave it alone."
"Certainly don’t kill it," he said. "As much as it sounds like a cliche, the snake has more to fear from you than you do the snake. Frankly, they want to avoid us. You give a snake a wide berth, it’s certainly not going to pursue you and that applies to venomous and non-venomous snakes."
A snake census is under way that should help officials track snake populations of all types throughout the state, Mr. Tredinnick said.
Rattlesnakes are scarce, which is why they should not be killed.
"They are considered to be a candidate species," he said. "They’re not quite endangered; they’re on the cusp."
And man continues to intrude on their territory.
"Because of habitat fragmentation, they are not found in most areas of the state," he said. "They are looking for heavily wooded areas or rock fields for denning and basking sights. They rely on heat from the sun and radiant heat the rocks provide." 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Scholars are right

There has been a bit of discussion around the Internet about this Letter VII (7) nonsense and its connection to the Hill Cumorah.

We here at BookofMormonCentralAmerica know Cumorah is not in New York.

Letter VII (7) is the product of pure speculation by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. They were wrong, and they misled the Saints as a result. They misled many leaders of the Church. We would prefer that no member of the Church read letter VII, but if you do, realize that LDS scholars agree Cumorah cannot be in New York. It can be lots of other places, but just not in New York!

To clarify our position, we put together this table of authorities to help explain whom you should trust.

People who perpetuate a false tradition about Cumorah being in New York
People who teach the truth about Cumorah not being in New York
Joseph Smith
LDS scholars who promote a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon
Oliver Cowdery
LDS scholars who promote a Baja Californian setting for the Book of Mormon
David Whitmer
LDS scholars who promote a Panamanian setting for the Book of Mormon
Lucy Mack Smith
LDS scholars who promote a Peruvian setting for the Book of Mormon
Brigham Young
LDS scholars who promote a Chilean setting for the Book of Mormon
John Taylor 

Heber C. Kimball

Wilford Woodruff

Orson Pratt

Parley P. Pratt

Joseph F. Smith

Heber J. Grant

George Albert Smith

Joseph Fielding Smith

Marion G. Romney

Mark E. Peterson

True, there are some disagreements among LDS scholars in the right column, but they all agree on one thing: The Hill Cumorah cannot be in New York!

The best way for you to steer clear of the people in the left column is to stick with Book of Mormon Central. They run a wonderful website that frequently reinforces the non-New York Cumorah. Here's the link:

Be sure to read the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine,, FairMormon, the Maxwell Institute, BYU Studies, and other web pages affiliated with Book of Mormon Central. Don't read anything that contradicts or challenges the consensus of LDS scholars and educators who have been properly trained in the Mesoamerican ministry.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

All nations, kindreds, tongues and people

The other day I read a blog post that claimed Mesoamerica had to be the setting for the Book of Mormon because "an ideal location would be in the New World for the blood of Israel and Christ's influence to spread over much of the earth in ancient times."

Of course, the text says nothing of the sort. For the Nephties, it was a big deal just to have a few missionaries go to the Lamanites. Nothing is ever mentioned about going to "much of the earth."

The rationale in the blog was that in the Old World, Israel was the crossroad of civilizations so the Gospel could spread from that point. "The formulaic phrase 'all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people' occurs 16 times in the text exclusive of the testimonies of the witnesses and Moroni's instructions to the prophet Joseph. The Book of Mormon writers cared about wide dissemination. In pre-Colombian times Mesoamerica was the crossroads of the western hemisphere."

However, it's an inapt comparison. To the extent the Book of Mormon writers "cared about wide dissemination," it was in reference to the latter days when the gospel would be restored and Israel gathered.

I've listed these references below so you can see they were primarily in relation to the last days, not the ancient days, and they are being fulfilled in our day, as prophesied, primarily from the promised land where Nephi lived and wrote these prophesies; i.e., the United States of America. The exceptions, noted below, had nothing to do with the Nephites taking the gospel to all the world.

Think about this carefully. The Book of Mormon writers did care about taking the gospel to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people--but they knew it was not going to happen in their day. Instead, they saw it happening in the future, after the gospel would be restored.

Where was the gospel restored? In the United States.

From where is the gospel being taken to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people? From the United States.

No one can seriously claim that Mesoamerica is sending the gospel to all the world. As wonderful as the missionaries from that area are, they are relatively few in number and mostly supported by the Saints in the United States anyway.

Another assertion in the blog post is the idea that the "blood of Israel" was spread out from Mesoamerica or Central America. We all know that the indigenous people in Mesoamerica, according to the DNA, are Asians. The only recognizable "blood of Israel" in the ancient Americas, according to DNA, was among the indigenous people in North America, primarily around the Great Lakes and New York area. While I agree we cannot prove or disprove the Book of Mormon by DNA, there is no evidence to support the claim that the "blood of Israel" was ever found in Mesoamerica. To claim it spread out from there is, well, you figure it out. To the extent the "blood of Israel" exists at all in ancient Mesoamerica, it would have been brought back after the Mayans returned to Mesoamerica following their migration northward after Mayan civilizations collapsed around 800 A.D. If I understand correctly, the Central American theory claims that Lehi landed in the midst of Mayan civilization (never mentioned in the text), that the Nephites were completely absorbed into the larger culture (also never mentioned in the text) so that their "blood of Israel" was diluted to the point where it is no longer detectable. That's not an irrational explanation; in fact, it's the only explanation that can be made if one believes in the Central American setting.

Back to the text. From the Book of Mormon, we have a string of prophecies about the gospel being taken to the world in the latter day:

1 Nephi 5:18
18 That these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed.

1 Nephi 11:36
36 And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

1 Nephi 14:11
11 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.

1 Nephi 19:17
17 Yea, and all the earth shall see the salvation of the Lord, saith the prophet; every nation, kindred, tongue and people shall be blessed.

1 Nephi 22:28
28 But, behold, all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people shall dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel if it so be that they will repent.

2 Nephi 26:13
13 And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith.

2 Nephi 30:8
8 And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth.

Mosiah 16:1
1 And now, it came to pass that after Abinadi had spoken these words he stretched forth his hand and said: The time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgments are just.

Mosiah 27:25
25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; [this refers to the universal nature of the gospel, not missionary work]

Alma 9:20
20 Yea, after having been such a highly favored people of the Lord; yea, after having been favored above every other nation, kindred, tongue, or people; after having had all things made known unto them, according to their desires, and their faith, and prayers, of that which has been, and which is, and which is to come; [this refers to how the Nephites were blessed above every other nation and has nothing to do with missionary work]

3 Nephi 26:4
4 And even unto the great and last day, when all people, and all kindreds, and all nations and tongues shall stand before God, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—

3 Nephi 28:29
29 And it shall come to pass, when the Lord seeth fit in his wisdom that they shall minister unto all the scattered tribes of Israel, and unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, and shall bring out of them unto Jesus many souls, that their desire may be fulfilled, and also because of the convincing power of God which is in them.

The other scriptures also use the phrase in this context about the latter days:

Doctrine and Covenants 10:51
51 Yea, that it might be free unto all of whatsoever nation, kindred, tongue, or people they may be.
[This one is critical. The Lord tells Joseph that the Book of Mormon was the fulfillment of the promise to the prophets and disciples who prayed that the gospel would come unto their brethren the Lamanites in the future. "Now, this is not all--their faith in their prayers was that this gospel should be made known also, if it were possible that other nations should possess this land; and thus they did leave a blessing upon this land in their prayers, that whosoever should believe in this gospel in this land might have eternal life; yeah, that it might be free unto all of whatsoever nation, kindred, tongue or people they may be." This revelation was given in Harmony, Pennsylvania, not Quirigua or Tikal. Other nations have possessed the land Nephi referred to, including the Indian nations, the British, the French, the Spanish, and eventually the United States. No land in all the world is a melting pot like the United States. As the revelation describes it, "this land" was to be "free" unto "whatsoever nation, kindred, tongue or people they may be."]

Doctrine and Covenants 42:58
58 And I give unto you a commandment that then ye shall teach them unto all men; for they shall be taught unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people.

Doctrine and Covenants 112:1
1 Verily thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Thomas: I have heard thy prayers; and thine alms have come up as a memorial before me, in behalf of those, thy brethren, who were chosen to bear testimony of my name and to send it abroad among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, and ordained through the instrumentality of my servants.

Revelation 7:9
9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

Revelation 13:7
7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

The testimonies of Joseph Smith and the witnesses verify the realization of the prophecies in the latter days. The gospel was restored in the United States and from there it is being taken to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people.

Joseph Smith—History 1:33
33 He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.

The Testimony of Eight Witnesses
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many ...

The Testimony of Three Witnesses
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of ...

When we read the text, we can read it through any of several filters, but ideally we would read it without a particular lens over our eyes and minds. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Why Central America?

If you ask a proponent of Book of Mormon Central America (Mesoamerica) why he/she is looking in Central America, you probably won't get a straight answer. In this post, I'm explaining my understanding, based on what I've read and heard. I want to be accurate and fair.

A short (and correct) answer for why people look in Central America is because of the long-held belief that Joseph Smith wrote the articles in the 1842 Times and Seasons that linked the Book of Mormon to Central America, even flat-out claiming that Zarahemla was Quigua, Guatemala. Some scholars have hedged on that, claiming instead that Joseph, as the acting editor, merely approved the articles. Others have sought to prove Joseph wrote the articles.

It's a reasonable assumption, so I can see why people have stuck with it for all these decades. However, I think most historians agree that recently uncovered historical evidence about those articles, points to Benjamin Winchester, William Smith, and W.W. Phelps as authors/editors of those articles. Joseph didn't know about them until after they were published in the newspaper.

To their credit, some Mesoamerican advocates are saying those articles have nothing to do with the Mesoamerican theory. This is a welcome change. Anyone can read the seminal books and articles citing those articles and observe the ongoing presentations by Mesoamerican scholars claiming Joseph wrote the articles, but presumably that rationale is fading into oblivion.

So let's set aside the Times and Seasons articles. Why else would any Latter-day Saint look to Central America to find the setting for the Book of Mormon?

One obvious answer is the same one that motivated Winchester, et al, to write the articles in the Times and Seasons; i.e., to answer anti-Mormon arguments. In the early days, anti-Mormons claimed Joseph copied the Book of Mormon from View of the Hebrews or the Spaulding manuscript. Moving the setting of the Book of Mormon to a limited geography in Mesoamerica refuted those allegations.

Again, this is a reasonable response to the critics. It may be a major, but largely unstated, motivation still today. But since it's unstated, I can't address it here.

What other reasons are there?

As near as I can tell, the limited geography Central American theory originated with RLDS scholars in the 1920s. Eventually LDS scholars embraced it. The rationale had to do with assumptions about distances and culture.

Tomorrow I've scheduled a post about expectations based on the text, but for now, let's look at a typical rationale for Central America. This one is from fairmormon and it is a fair summary, no pun intended. I think it makes sense if you accept the underlying rationale. It's as good an explanation as I've found, and I have no problem with people believing this. It's definitely one way to view the world.


Why Mesoamerica?
Following are some of the geographic criteria from the Book of Mormon text and how those criteria are met by Mesoamerica:

• Mapping the internal geography of the Book of Mormon requires that the land be hourglass shaped.

• Writings. Mesoamerica is the only place that appears to have had a sophisticated writing system during Book of Mormon times.

• Advanced cities and fortifications. Archaeology confirms such cities in Mesoamerica in Book of Mormon times.

• Rivers must be the right size and in the right portions of the land (we find such correlation in Mesoamerica).

• The Book of Mormon suggests a temperate climate (for growing such things as “wheat” and “barley”) and never mentions snow or cold in a New World setting.

• Both Book of Mormon cultures and Mesoamerican cultures had developed agriculture and commerce.

• Volcanic activity and earthquake zones.

At first glance there appears to be a problem with Book of Mormon directions and the layout of Mesoamerica. Whereas the Nephites generally used terms such as “northward” and “southward,” the hourglass shape of Mesoamerica runs northwest and southeast. How could an intelligent people like
the Nephites get cardinal directions wrong?

In both Mayan and Hebrew, north means on “the left hand” and south means “on the right.” Studies indicate that some people in Mesoamerica called the Pacific Ocean the “west sea” and the Gulf Coast the “east sea,” just as done in the Book of Mormon. Even some European conquerors used directions
similar to those used in the Book of Mormon when they wrote about their travels in Mesoamerica.
Systems for labeling directions in ancient times varied by thousands of different schemes and were generally arbitrary systems designed by individual groups to deal with their unique geographical and linguistic situations.

To put it simply, the directional systems of some ancient cultures were not based on the same cultural principals as ours. Thus, a Mesoamerican geography for the Book of Mormon is not problematic when considering cardinal directions.

If anyone has a better explanation for why people are looking in Mesoamerica, I'd love to know about it so I could add it here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Illusion of neutrality and polarized light

One of the most effective tools of persuasion is to start by claiming neutrality and then, by a process of research, objective analysis, and dialog, reach a conclusion that was the same conclusion you started out with before you claimed neutrality.

The major media in the United States have done a nice job with this over the years.

We're seeing this at play right now regarding Book of Mormon geography issues.

One way to tell whether neutrality is real or an illusion is to look at the participants.

A code of ethics for journalists includes the principle that journalists should "Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant." However, time and space are limited, so not every aspect of every view can be represented. Journalism involves editorial choices; complete and pure objectivity is probably impossible. But neutrality is still a goal.

What happens in reality?

Reporters, editors, and staff are influenced by their personal views. Those who disagree with those views would call it bias; those who agree with those views would call it seeking truth. And from their different perspectives, both sides are right.

In the major media, for example, the vast majority of the reporters, editors, and staff are liberal in their views. Most are Democrats, or at least contribute to Democrat candidates. They see the world through Democrat/liberal/progressive lenses. The lenses filter every news story; information enters their brains through that filter, and they report and edit accordingly.

Years ago I worked in the entertainment industry. One of our projects was 3D movies and technology, which involved polarizing light. If you go to a 3D movie and wear the glasses, each eye sees a different image because projectors are projecting images through polarized lenses. The images on the screen are polarized, so they reflect polarized light back to the audience. (Special screens are required to retain the polarization.) Only lenses with the correct polarization can see the polarized light.

One eye literally can't see what the other eye sees because of the lenses.

If you replaced the right eye lens on your pair of glasses with the lens off the left eye of another pair of glasses, both of your eyes would see the same image. It would be flat, like an ordinary movie.

If you take off the glasses, you'll see two images on the screen. Without the filters, you see clearly, but because two images are projected, it looks like you're seeing double.

What happens to reporters and polarized light also happens to scholars. Since we're discussing Central America, consider the case of the Book of Mormon Central web page. At first glance, you might think it is a page dedicated to Book of Mormon scholarship of all kinds. You might think it is dedicated to the journalistic principle of supporting the open and civil exchange of views. But if you look closer, you'll see that the web page is pre-filtered.

Everyone involved with Book of Mormon Central espouses the Mesoamerican geography. This is good news for Mesoamerican supporters; you don't have to worry about Book of Mormon Central. You can read the KnoWhys and the archive items with no problem.

Those who support an alternative geography can still benefit from Book of Mormon Central because there is a lot of good material there that doesn't involve geography. Besides, you already expect the information about geography to be filtered the same way most of the material published by LDS scholars on that topic is filtered.

True, when you're not wearing a Mesoamerican filter, the images are confusing, just like looking at a 3D movie screen without filtered glasses. Maybe it was because he was not wearing this filter that Joseph Fielding Smith said the two-Cumorah theory was causing members of the Church to become confused and disturbed in their faith of the Book of Mormon.

The point to remember is that neutrality is in the eye of the beholder--in this case, literally--because we all see things through lenses. Fortunately, when we're aware of the lenses, we can take them off and see more clearly. We can switch lenses, maybe borrow some from someone else so we can see what they're seeing. If we switch lenses often enough, and take them off altogether sometimes, maybe we can move toward the journalistic ideal of supporting the open and civil exchange of views, even on a web page as deeply dedicated to one point of view as Book of Mormon Central is.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Pick your logo - Book of Mormon Central

Logos can tell a lot about an organization's objectives and purpose.

One example is Book of Mormon Central, a web page that purports to be neutral regarding Book of Mormon geography. Its logos (and content) tell another story. is the web page of a nonprofit named Ancient America Foundation, which was chartered in Utah in 1983. To the right is its logo.

It's a Mayan pyramid, of course. That's because Ancient America Foundation is 100% focused on Mesoamerica.

The history of AAF is spelled out here. [In case they delete/modify it, I posted it at the end of this post.]

You can see it consists exclusively of Mesoamerican proponents (although some of the early people had a more hemispheric concept at times).

Next, let's look at a "division" of Book of Mormon Central. It's called Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum. It, too, is exclusively focused on Mesoamerica.

Check out these logos.

At least this one has one thing actually mentioned in the text of the Book of Mormon: it has a depiction of metal plates. But you can read the text as many times as you want and you won't find any mention of pyramids, or buildings made of stone.

BMAF recently updated logo to show how BMAF is a "division" of Book of Mormon Central. They are so closely linked that they share content. They certainly share ideology.

Next we have the logo for Book of Mormon Central itself. This is basically the old FARMS logo, showing Greek, Hebrew, Egyptian, and Mayan glyphs or characters. No ambiguity there.

You can look at the other "affiliates" of Book of Mormon Central and see that they are all unabashedly focused on Mesoamerica.

These logos tell us that Book of Mormon Central and its affiliates have these other things they have in common:

1. the two-Cumorah theory (meaning, they insist the "real" Cumorah is in Mexico somewhere).

2. They reject Oliver Cowdery's Letter VII.

3. They think the storehouse of records that Joseph, Oliver and others visited on multiple occasions was actually in Mexico, and that Joseph and Oliver merely saw it in vision.

4. They think Joseph didn't know much about the Book of Mormon, that he speculated about where the Nephites lived, and that he relied on scholarship to solve the question.

5. They think the entire Western Hemisphere is the land of promise and the nation that Nephi prophesied would be the site of the Restoration, etc.

Just to be clear, this is all fine. People can believe whatever they want, of course, and I have no problem with that.

Let's just be clear that, far from being neutral about the geography issue, Book of Mormon Central promotes the Mesoamerican theory of Book of Mormon geography.

The Council of Springville

Last week, Book of Mormon Central announced a news item:

"Book of Mormon Scholars Meet to discuss Controversial Passages." The link went to a page titled "Textual Progress." The first line: "Book of Mormon Central convened a working group to consider the sense of meaning of a number of passages in the text whose interpretations have proven controversial." This is really great news for Mesoamerican supporters.

Mesoamerican supporters will be relieved to know the Mesoamerican scholars still agree with the Mesoamerican theory. Which is perfectly fine with me.

The first thing I thought of was a council that convened in
the year 325 for a similar purpose. The emperor Constantine 1 convened the first ecumenical council of the Christian church in ancient Nicaea. One summary of the council describes it this way:

"This first ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, although previous councils, including the first Church council, the Council of Jerusalem, had met before to settle matters of dispute. It was presided over by Hosius, bishop of Corduba who was in communion with the Pope.

"Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the nature of the Son of God and his relationship to God the Father, the construction of the first part of the Creed of Nicaea, establishing uniform observance of the date of Easter, and promulgation of early canon law."

Another perhaps cynical source points out that "Constantine was more interested in unity than in getting the correct doctrine of the trinity."

I'm calling this latest effort the Council of Springville. The conclave (their term) represented one faction of Book of Mormon geography proponents who support the limited geography Mesoamerican theory, and convened to attain consensus about how to interpret certain Book of Mormon geography passages.

Lest anyone jump to the conclusion I'm being critical, I'm not. Each of the scholars who participated in this latest conclave is a perfectly respectable, serious scholar. There is nothing wrong with the idea of a scholarly working group convened to interpret the scriptures. A lot of people admire the Nicene Council, too. After all, it produced one of the most influential documents in Christianity. Prominent LDS scholars have produced the most influential theory of Book of Mormon geography as well.


Those who support the Mesoamerican theory will appreciate that the scholars concluded that "The notion that River Sidon flows from north to south is not supported in the text. River Sidon flows from south to north just as Book of Mormon scholars have been saying since the 1800s." This is an excellent example of how to confirm one's biases. Again, not being critical. Just observing that if you take a group of scholars who already agree with a given proposition, and ask if they still agree with that proposition, the likelihood that they will affirm their previous beliefs is probably close to 100%.

(In the interest of full disclosure, there is another view, not represented at the conclave, that the text does not support a south to north flowing Sidon. But that view relies on the text, not the opinions of scholars, so it should be discounted accordingly.)

Mesoamerican supporters will also be glad to know that the scholars set out a hierarchy of classes of evidence. "In a relative hierarchy of classes of evidence, the text itself, subject to interpretation, must be primary. There has been no authoritative revelation on Book of Mormon geography in this dispensation. Revelation to the current Prophet could trump the text, but only if it carried the same degree of certainty as the words Joseph received through the seer stone."

It's reassuring to know that the current prophets, seers and revelators are bound by the limits imposed by the Council of Springville.

The conclave did not provide notes or a transcript, so it's not known whether actual experience--e.g., Joseph and Oliver physically visiting Mormon's records repository (Mormon 6:6) in the New York hill--would qualify as evidence. That possibility does not appear to have been considered by the conclave.

The scholars managed "to reach general agreement on some key points" in addition to the hierarchy of evidence and north-flowing river Sidon. Rest assured that each of the key points reaffirms the limited-geography Mesoamerican theory.


Someone asked me, "Why the Council of Springville? What's in Springville?"

Answer: Headquarters of Book of Mormon Central.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Introductory Post

There are many proposed settings for the Book of Mormon. This blog focuses on Central America, not from a critical perspective, but from a full disclosure perspective. Why Central America? I'll answer that in the last section of this post.

I think it's great that so many people, in so many places, have figured out ways to make the text meaningful to them. Surely that's one of the purposes of the Book of Mormon; i.e., the Lord wants us to apply the scriptures to ourselves. We can do this by relating to the stories and teachings in the scriptures.

We don't have to live in Israel to understand the parable of the sower because people sow seeds everywhere in the world.

In that sense, the setting for the Book of Mormon doesn't matter. We can learn from the lessons of Ammon and the king's flocks whether we live in Panama, Chile, China, or Nigeria.

As beneficial as that is, however, there is a risk that people might take the Book of Mormon as nothing more than a parable. In fact, many people--including active members of the Church--do consider the Book of Mormon as a work of inspired fiction. A book-length parable, but not authentic history.

The thesis of this blog is that the Book of Mormon is not merely a parable, but it is an actual history of actual ancient people who lived on this planet Earth. This means it took place in a real place.

Among those who accept the actual history concept, there are two schools of thought about geography. Some think there is one point of convergence between the text and the modern world: i.e., the Hill Cumorah in New York.

Others think there are no points of convergence between the text and the modern world; i.e., the Hill Cumorah is not in New York.

The saying goes, the un-examined life is not worth living. The corollary I explore here is, the un-examined geography is not worth believing. Although this blog focuses on Central America, I want to outline the basic parameters we're dealing with.

Cumorah in New York 

Among those who agree the Hill Cumorah is in New York, there are variations. Some people think the entire history of the Book of Mormon took place in:

- New York.
- North America (not including Central America).
- North America (including Central America).
- the Western Hemisphere (including North, Central, and South America).

Cumorah not in New York

Among those who agree the Hill Cumorah is not in New York, there are variations. Some people think the entire history of the Book of Mormon took place in:

- Baja California.
- Mesoamerica (Central America)
- Panama
- Peru
- Colombia
- Chile
- Malaysia
- Africa
- many others

Proponents of the various views have published books, articles, web pages, blogs, DVDs, PowerPoints, etc. The end result: there are two major theories of geography that seem to have generated the most discussion and analysis. These are:

The Mesoamerican theory

The North American theory (also called the Heartland and Moroni's America).

This blog focuses on Central America because it has become the consensus among some LDS scholars. Although the Church is officially neutral on the question of Book of Mormon geography, Church media, manuals, and instruction have focused primarily on the Mesoamerican theory for decades.

The latest evidence of this is the creation of a web page titled Book of Mormon Central. The people there are fantastic, dedicated and sincere. No problem with them at all. However, the page is a front for the Ancient American Foundation, a long-time promoter of the Mesoamerican theory.  The page purports to be neutral, but as I'll show in subsequent posts, it strongly promotes the Mesoamerican theory to the exclusion (and denigration) of others.

Consider this blog to be the other side of the story.

Again, I emphasize this blog is not critical of the Central American or Mesoamerican theory. If people want to believe that theory, I have no problem with it.

To the extent I have a problem, it is with web pages that profess neutrality while pressing their thumbs squarely on the scales for the theory embraced by their management and funding sources.

Related to that, I think people who promote a theory need to be open about all the assumptions behind that theory and its implications, and own those.

So here goes.