long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Monday, June 6, 2016

A new direction

I haven't posted anything for a few days because I've been out of town. Now I'm happy to announce a new direction for the blog.

As I've explained, this blog started out as my own notes about my thoughts and research on Book of Mormon geography. It was handy because I could access it anywhere. I haven't promoted it on Facebook, youtube, twitter, etc. It has grown organically, to the point where hundreds of people seem to be following it and discussing it. Gradually, it became a way for me to comment on what I saw going on in the academic world, with the hope of changing some biases and provoking some reconsideration of what has been published on this topic.

There are many different ideas about Book of Mormon geography. I've seen estimates of 150+ maps. Obviously, I can't address them all, nor would it be wise to do so. Up to this point, I've focused on the North American setting, and sometimes I've contrasted it to the Mesoamerican setting. Recently people have been commenting on other settings.

Going forward, I'm going to focus on explaining the North American setting without contrasting it to other ideas. Here are some of the reasons:

1) There is much more to say about North America. I've barely started.
2) All I'm doing on this blog is explaining why I think the things I do. IMO, only the North American setting harmonizes Church history, the text itself, and all relevant geography, geology, anthropology, archaeology, etc. This seems self-evident to me, starting with Letter VII, but I realize others see things differently and I'm fine with that (see #7 below).
3) The other models can speak for themselves.
4) I trust people to make up their own minds.
5) All I've wanted from the academic world is fair representation the North American setting (instead of suppression and opposition). Lately I've been assured that this is imminent.
6) Other Book of Mormon scholars have also assured me they will adopt the same approach; i.e., explain their reasoning for their beliefs and stop criticizing others. Most of us agree that the main purpose for even discussing this topic is to increase understanding of the text and motivate people to read the Book of Mormon, with all that entails.
7) I think it's great when people find their own meaning in the Book of Mormon. If someone in Chile, or Peru, or Colombia, or Guatemala, or Mexico, or Baja, or Malaysia, or Eritrea, or anywhere else wants to believe the Book of Mormon events occurred in their area, that's great. I have no compulsion or need to persuade them otherwise. Up to this point, I have contrasted the Mesoamerican setting because of the decades of academic support it has attracted. I've had to "level the playing field" a little by pointing out a few fundamental issues (as everyone knows, I think the Mesoamerican model is based on a mistake in Church history). My position has been well enough established that I don't need to keep blogging about it, unless people ask questions.

Speaking of that, many of the people following this blog have made requests, including these:

1) Organize the posts by subject matter.
2) Change the name so it sounds more peaceful, academic, fun [pick your own adjective].
3) Speak to specific topics [i.e., I get individual requests and questions]

To address all of these objectives, I'm going to announce new blogs in the near future that will be organized by topic. The material from this blog will be archived (so long as the material it addresses is archived), but I have lots of new material.

Stay tuned.


  1. Hopefully, this North American setting isn't too hard to "swallow" if your "neck" is too "narrow!"

    Ha! See what I did there? Jokes! Humor! Get it? "Narrow neck?" Hard to swallow? Puns!

    But seriously folks, this sounds like a fun change. I've noticed that, "... the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the [Book of Mormon]". I inserted that "Book of Mormon," because man, that's what's happening with the geography stuff. Am I right or am I right or am I right?

    Apart from the direction we get to inquire, where the Lord can only teach an inquiring mind, I feel it important to gather as much knowledge as there is available. You've been an amazing influence to learn how to ask questions, and how to think outside the box in terms of Book of Mormon.

    I like this quote I found by Dallin H. Oaks: "The scriptures do not set forth these doctrinal subjects in a comprehensive, organized list of rules, like the Internal Revenue Code or [Robert’s] Rules of Order. For the most part, the scriptural teachings on the various doctrines of the gospel must be gleaned from a number of sources, each containing a less than complete account of the subject..."

    Like Hugh Nibley always says, there are hints everywhere, you just have to keep your eyes open.

    The land in the Book of Mormon just so happens to have important doctrines associated with it, and I'm seeing hints all over too.

    I love this stuff. Bring it on!

  2. I wish I had thought of that passage before I changed my approach here. I could have had a lot of fun with it!


    Great observations, as always.