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.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Terryl Givens interview: "A disciple’s plea for openness and inclusion"

Over Thanksgiving, I took a break from blogging, partly because we were very busy in Australia and New Zealand. After all, the weather was perfect for golf. Plus, we did a lot of visiting, meeting new people, etc.

And I've thought of taking December off from blogging to have more time for the many other projects I'm working on.

But the material continues to pile up. People are contacting me daily with more issues and developments to discuss. I could blog for a year just by focusing on the logical fallacies, distortions, sophistry, and confirmation bias at FairMormon, Book of Mormon Central [America], BYU Studies, the Interpreter, BMAF, etc. I've provided examples in my blogs so readers can spot this stuff for themselves, but not everyone has time to go through all of it, and people tell me it's helpful for me to point it out.

In fact, just yesterday while doing something else, I came across a couple more examples that were breathtaking. I'll schedule those for next week.

On top of that, I could address the way some of our LDS intellectuals are trying to discredit me by labeling me as a "fundamentalist" because I'm pointing out how they are repudiating the prophets; how some are trying to intervene to prevent me from giving firesides; how these intellectuals (and Church staff people) have misled Church leaders by not presenting all the facts, let alone perspectives and points of view contrary to their pet theories; how our youth, missionaries, mature members, and investigators are experiencing cognitive dissonance because of the work of these intellectuals; and much more.

And then there are all the books. I have marked up many popular and influential books on Church history and the Book of Mormon, showing examples of agenda-driven bias confirmation that misleads readers through clever editing of original sources that few if any readers will catch. For that matter, I have written dozens of posts that I haven't published in the interests of comity and being nice. I'm still naively hoping that our intellectuals will come around to supporting and sustaining the prophets and apostles instead of asserting intellectual superiority over them.

Obviously that hasn't happened so far, but I still hope it will.

As an entirely separate issue, there are cases in which our intellectuals are misleading one another.

Which leads me to this Terry Givens interview:


For people interested in Book of Mormon historicity/geography, Terryl Givens is well-known as the author of the Foreword to Mormon's Codex, BYU Professor John L. Sorenson's infamous 826-page book in which he ridicules Church members who believe Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.*

Brother Givens is s strong supporter of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory that continues to be promoted by LDS intellectuals. In his foreword, Brother Givens explains, "So influential has Sorenson's work on Book of Mormon geography been that there is widespread consensus among believing scholars in support of what is now called the "Sorenson model," which identifies the scripture's setting with a Mesoamerican locale... John Sorenson has again upped the ante with what will immediately serve as the high-water mark of scholarship on the Book of Mormon."

Someday I'll write about my own encounter with Brother Givens on this topic, but for now, let's look at this interview which purports to be a "plea for openness and inclusion."

The interview with Elder Marlin Jensen is interesting in many ways. Elder Jensen is awesome and has done a tremendous amount of good for the Church, particularly in the Church History Department.

But here, I'll comment on a bit of irony. Here are two bullet points from the introduction to the interview:

- The challenges and the fruits of complete openness and transparency in telling the history of the church.

- The urgent need to embrace those who are different or “don’t meet the norm” in the church.

Toward the end of the interview, Elder Jensen makes this important point:

 Elder Jensen: This goes back to my youth. I don’t think we do well by those that don’t fit our norms. The young man who doesn’t serve a mission or who comes home early; the person struggling with same-gender attraction; the divorced woman — those who are different. I think if you meet the norm, if you’re striving for the ideal, and you’re coming close to it, I think Mormonism is a glorious place to be. If you’re not — if you’re in some in-between state where you don’t quite fit — I don’t think we’ve learned yet quite how to bring that person in.

Terryl Given: Is that an institutional or a personal feeling?

Elder Jensen: I think it’s both. I really do think it’s both.

Here's the irony: Elder Jensen is speaking with Terryl Givens, one of the intellectuals who participates in the demeaning and ostracism of those members of the Church who still believe what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery taught about the Hill Cumorah.

The intellectuals like to express concern about same-gender attraction, "the divorced woman," racial minorities, etc. They seek "to embrace" them. But they can't tolerate members of the Church who disagree with their Mesomania.

Far from being open and transparent in telling the history of the Church, they don't want members to even know about Letter VII, let alone all the other faith-affirming aspects of Church history that I've discussed in my blogs, books, and presentations.

The reason? Purely because they are more obsessed with their own academic record and legacy than they are with openly seeking the truth.

As I mentioned at the outset of this post, I have lots of examples. This interview was striking because of the link between Brother Givens and the idea of "openness and inclusion."

I hope readers will let me know if/when Brother Givens offers "openness and inclusion" to those who reject Mesomania.

Or when any of the proponents of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory reject Brother Sorenson's ridicule of those who still believe the prophets and apostles on the issue of Cumorah.

*On page 688, Brother Sorenson writes, "There remain Latter-day Saints who insist that the final destruction of the Nephites took place in New York, but any such idea is manifestly absurd. Hundreds of thousands of Nephites traipsing across the Mississippi Valley to New York, pursued (why?) by hundreds of thousands of Lamanites, is a scenario worthy only of a witless sci-fi movie, not of history."

Here a well-known BYU Professor teaches that if you're among the "remaining Latter-day Saints" who still believe the prophets and apostles, your belief is "manifestly absurd." Brother Sorenson's view is shared by every proponent of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.

On page 694, Brother Sorenson writes, "Joseph Smith became convinced in the last years of his life that the lands of the Nephites were in Mesoamerica." IMO, this blatant falsehood is bias confirmation at its worst. Joseph never once connected the Book of Mormon to Mesoamerica, but our intellectuals keep repeating this mantra.

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