Thursday, March 29, 2018

The path to clarity

There are easy ways forward to reach unity and clarity on Book of Mormon geography/historicity. 

The fastest, surest way would be clear direction from Church leaders, but they didn't cause the problem. They have consistently and persistently taught that there is one Cumorah and it is in New York.

It is the M2C* intellectuals who have repudiated the teachings of the prophets and have thereby caused the confusion in the Church. It is up to the intellectuals (especially the M2C intellectuals at BYU, CES and the Correlation Department) to change course and align themselves with the prophets, not the other way around.

They can do this in three easy steps:

1. Accept the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

2. Stop trying to vindicate the anonymous articles in the 1842 Times and Seasons, which are the foundation for the Mesoamerican limited geography theory in the first place.

3. Instead of inventing interpretations of the Book of Mormon that are designed to fit M2C, re-read the text and see how it vindicates the teachings of the prophets and is consistent with the archaeology, anthropology, geology and geography of North America, culminating at the New York Cumorah.
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These three steps would be easy but for the decades-long promotion of M2C which has imprinted Mesoamerica on the minds of the Latter-day Saints. 

Not that the intellectuals have bad intentions; they were trying to reconcile what they perceived to be two inconsistent teachings: (i) the New York Cumorah and (ii) the anonymous articles in the 1842 Times and Seasons about Central America.

The intellectuals chose the latter, developed M2C  and rationalized their repudiation of the prophets by claiming the prophets were merely expressing their opinions, and they were wrong.**

To persuade other Church members to reject the prophets, the M2C intellectuals interpreted the text to fit their Mesoamerican geography to exclude New York from consideration.

Then they found a series of illusory "correspondences" between Mayan and Nephite culture, and voila, we end up with Mormon's Codex: An Ancient American Book, along with the entire M2C citation cartel supporting it.

Here are some of the M2C interpretations of the text that have no basis in the actual text, but instead are merely a description of ancient Mesoamerican culture designed by the M2C intellectuals to buttress the illusory "correspondences" the continue to cite.

1. Millions of people. M2C intellectuals insist the Book of Mormon culture involved millions of people. That's because we know there were millions of people in ancient Mesoamerica, so they make these large numbers a "requirement" of the text.

But nothing in the Book of Mormon refers to millions of people except Ether 15:2. Even there, Coriantumr was looking back at an indeterminate time frame:

He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.

Nothing in the text states or implies that these "two millions" were killed at once. Coriantumr saw that two million of his people had been "slain by the sword," but the Jaredite records of war went back 30+ generations. Even if Coriantumr was thinking only of those who died in his own lifetime (and there's no reason to conclude that), if he lived 50 years, that would be an average of 40,000 killed per year.

There are two places in the Book of Ether where specific numbers are given. First, we have a battle described as "exceedingly sore." Yet only "many thousands" were killed. Moroni doesn't even the common term "tens of thousands."

Ether 14:4 - And it came to pass that the brother of Shared did give battle unto him in the wilderness of Akish; and the battle became exceedingly sore, and many thousands fell by the sword.

Presumably there were other battles that were "sore" but not "exceedingly sore." Otherwise, the term "exceedingly" would be meaningless. Granted, Moroni uses the term "exceedingly" far more than other writers, but it still means something that exceeds something else.

The second placed where specific numbers are given is during the final week-long battle at Ramah (Cumorah). There were 59 men left on the last day and 121 the day before, which means that about 50% of the men were killed between those two days. A 50% kill rate extrapolated backwards means there were fewer than 10,000 people involved from the outset.

There are lots of ways to interpret these passages, but one way is to interpret it to be consistent with what the prophets have taught, including President Cowdery in Letter VII.

The point here is that nothing in the text requires millions of people. I've discussed this in more detail here:
http://www.lettervii.com/2017/08/question-about-numbers-at-cumorah.html

2. Extensive ancient writing. M2C intellectuals lately have insisted that there must be evidence of extensive ancient writing dating to Book of Mormon time periods. Again, this "requirement" was invented to justify M2C, but it's not a requirement in the text. If anything, the text contradicts this requirement because (i) the surviving Lamanites sought to destroy records, (ii) the only engraved stone mentioned in the text was so unusual that the illiterate people of Zarahamla brought it forth to be translated, and (iii) the writing in Mesoamerica is anything but Hebrew/reformed Egyptian. The M2C argument is like saying evidence of writing in ancient Shanghai means the Bible took place in Shanghai because the Bible refers to writing.

I've addressed that in more detail here:
http://bookofmormonconsensus.blogspot.com/2018/03/evidence-of-ancient-writing-in-america.html

3. Extensive stone cities. M2C intellectuals always insist the Nephites built extensive stone cities and massive temples because the text refers in one chapter to some Nephites building with cement (Helaman 3). But the text says people built with cement and wood, not with stone. The only stone structure mentioned anywhere in the text is a stone wall (Alma 48:8). The Nephites fought with stones, they decorated with stones, they punished people with stones, and they translated with stones, but they didn't build with stones.

According to the text, the last thing we should expect to find are buildings made of stone. Yet that's what M2C intellectuals insist we find.

I've addressed this in more detail here:
http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2016/11/cement.html

4. Joseph mistranslated the text. M2C intellectuals teach that Joseph mistranslated the text, by dictating terms such as horse instead of tapir, sheep for an undetermined Mayan animal, etc. Joseph must have mistranslated because he never mentioned the big three Js (jade, jaguars, and jungles) or the other indicia of Mesoamerica (volcanoes, Mayans, pyramids, etc.).

Instead, the text refers to things common among the Moundbuilders of North America--the very mounds that Joseph himself constituted evidence of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

Things such as when Captain Moroni in Alma 50 caused the people that "they should commence in digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities, throughout all the land which was possessed by the Nephites. And upon the top of these ridges of earth he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man, round about the cities. And he caused that upon those works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers round about; and they were strong and high. And he caused towers to be erected that overlooked those works of pickets, and he caused places of security to be built upon those towers, that the stones and the arrows of the Lamanites could not hurt them."

Notice, nothing about stone buildings or pyramids, but merely descriptions of exactly what archaeologists find throughout the Midwestern United States, dating to Book of Mormon times.
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Book of Mormon geography is challenging because there are so many possibilities that fit when we put Cumorah in New York. Right in the Midwest where Joseph identified them, there are thousands of ancient Nephite mound sites that match the description in the text; the challenge is choosing among them.

Which leaves us with this choice between the prophets and the intellectuals:

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*M2C is the acronym for the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.

** Church members who pay attention know what President Ezra Taft Benson taught about this type of rationalization:

"The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them, otherwise the prophet is just giving his opinion—speaking as a man." 

https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-of-presidents-of-the-church-ezra-taft-benson/chapter-11-follow-the-living-prophet?lang=eng

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Benjamin Winchester Award 2017 - Gold Cup

The Benjamin Winchester Award recognizes individuals or groups who have done the most to promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory. In the future, we will limit consideration to work produced during a single calendar year (starting with 2018). Because this is the first year of the award, we looked at the entire body of work of various individuals and groups and have selected three winners.

The Bronze Cup went to Book of Mormon Central.
The Silver Cup went to Chris Heimerdinger.

Before we announce the winner of the Gold Cup, we need to discuss some doctrinal background. This is a little long, but it's important to establish the merits of the award.
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There is plenty of precedent for people rejecting the prophets. All the standard works address the problem. Sometimes people stone the prophets; sometimes they ignore them. But in today's Church, there is another rationalization.

The M2C intellectuals, including BYU professors teaching Book of Mormon classes, teach that the words of the prophets about the New York Cumorah were merely their "opinions." 

This is precisely what President Benson warned against when he observed that "The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them, otherwise the prophet is just giving his opinion—speaking as a man." 

https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-of-presidents-of-the-church-ezra-taft-benson/chapter-11-follow-the-living-prophet?lang=eng

This selective repudiation of the prophets has been discussed throughout the scriptures.

Letter VII teaches in "words of plainness" that the Hill Cumorah is in New York. But the M2C intellectuals despise Letter VII.

For those willing to liken the scriptures to themselves, Jacob warned about this in Chapter 4:14 But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand.
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Other times, people think they understand when they don't.

The Savior gave an example in 3 Nephi 15:3 And behold, this is the land of your inheritance; and the Father hath given it unto you.

14 And not at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell it unto your brethren at Jerusalem.

The question of Book of Mormon geography is the same question; i.e., where is the land of the inheritance of Lehi's descendants? Apart from Cumorah, the Lord hasn't told us specifically. Now let's look at the reasons.

15 Neither at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell unto them concerning the other tribes of the house of Israel, whom the Father hath led away out of the land.

16 This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them:

17 That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

18 And now, because of stiffneckedness and unbelief they understood not my word; therefore I was commanded to say no more of the Father concerning this thing unto them...

Now we see why the Lord did not reveal more. What He did reveal was a test of their faith. But instead of believing what the Lord taught, the people "supposed" that they understood, and their understanding was wrong. The Lord let them languish in their confusion and misunderstanding.

That's the same way we ended up with M2C intellectuals rejecting the plain words and instead "supposing" that there are really two Cumorahs.

22 And they understood me not, for they supposed it had been the Gentiles; for they understood not that the Gentiles should be converted through their preaching.

23 And they understood me not that I said they shall hear my voice; and they understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice—that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost.

The Lord had clearly taught the people in Jerusalem that He would personally visit His other sheep, which meant they could not be Gentiles, but the people nevertheless misunderstood, and the Christian world has been confused about this ever since.

Likewise, the prophets have clearly taught that the Hill Cumorah is in New York, but our M2C intellectuals nevertheless misunderstood and members of the Church are confused, just as Joseph Fielding Smith said they would be if M2C continued to be taught.
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Alma explained an important principle in Alma 12:

9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries.

Let's apply this to the New York Cumorah vs. M2C.*

[Note: this post does not address the futile semantic debates or the relative merits of arguments based on geography, geology, anthropology, archaeology, etc. M2C fails in all those areas, but because we're awarding the Benjamin Winchester Cup, we are focused on activities that have injured the Church by repudiating the prophets.]
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Letter VII definitively established the New York setting for Cumorah.

President Cowdery declared it was a fact that the final battles of the Jaredites and Nephites took place in the mile-wide valley west of the hill in New York from which Joseph obtained the plates hid up by Moroni. http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1834-1836/90

President Cowdery's letter was partly a response to claims the Book of Mormon was fiction, but it was also a formal affirmation of a well-known truth among his contemporaries. See examples at the end of this post.**

Joseph Smith endorsed Letter VII multiple times, as have all of the modern prophets and apostles who have spoken or written about the issue. Not a single one has ever repudiated Letter VII.

But the recipient of today's Gold Cup has.

That's where Alma 12:9-11 comes into play.
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Apart from the New York Cumorah, Book of Mormon geography has never been specifically and unambiguously identified by Church leaders. Yet everyone who reads the book wants to know where these events took place.

Many wonder why the Lord has not revealed the geography more specifically. I think Alma 12:9-11 is one answer.

Alma explains that the Lord reveals his word "according to the heed and diligence which" his people give unto him. When people harden their hearts, they get "the lesser portion of the word, until they know nothing concerning his mysteries."

That perfectly describes M2C.

The M2C intellectuals have hardened their hearts against the New York Cumorah. Now they are left knowing nothing about Book of Mormon geography. Having rejected what the prophets have taught, they even participate in futile searches for the "real" Cumorah in southern Mexico.

Incredibly, the M2C intellectuals project their confusion and ignorance onto Joseph Smith himself. One wrote, "To put the matter clearly: Joseph Smith did not fully understand the Book of Mormon." They actually believe (and teach) that Joseph was so unsure about Book of Mormon geography that he embraced a travel book about Central America as the answer.

The rejection of Joseph Smith started even when Joseph was alive. Joseph gave them instructions, but many early Church writers did not heed them.

For example, while traversing Ohio, Indiana and Illinois during Zion's Camp, Joseph Smith explained to the Brethren that they were crossing the plains of the Nephites. He wrote to Emma, describing what he was seeing: "The whole of our journey, in the midst of so large a company of social honest men and sincere men, wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionaly [sic] the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity."
http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letterbook-2/62

These plains are mentioned three times in the text: i.e., "meet them upon the plains between the two cities" (Alma 52:20); "pitch their tents in the plains of Nephihah" (Alma 62:18) and "battle against them, upon the plains" (Alma 62:19). The Jaredites referred to the "plains of Agosh" (Ether 14:15-16) and the "plains of Heshlon" (Ether 13:28-29).

Some early members of the Church, despite knowing Cumorah was in New York, speculated about the other locations. Although they participated on Zion's Camp, the Pratt brothers (Parley and Orson) famously taught that North America was the land northward, South America was the land southward, and Panama was the "narrow neck." Benjamin Winchester, another Zion's Camp participant, wrote the anonymous articles in the Times and Seasons that placed Zarahemla in Guatemala (the origin of M2C).

We don't know whether the Pratts and Winchester heard Joseph's recounting of Book of Mormon history during Zion's Camp--there were over 100 men on the journey--but we do know that Joseph Smith expressed frustration with these three men for not heeding his counsel. Joseph said Winchester had a rotten heart and would injure the Church as much as he could. When he wrote the Wentworth letter, Joseph edited out Orson Pratt's hemispheric theory and replaced it with the simple statement that "The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country."

http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/church-history-1-march-1842/2

Because of today's Gold Cup winner, members of the Church will never learn about this.
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Alma is not the only one who taught that the Lord gives a little to test the faith and diligence of His people.

Mormon wanted to write more of the teachings of Christ to the Nephites, but he was forbidden.

3 Nephi 26:9 And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.

10 And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation.

11 Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people.

12 Therefore I, Mormon, do write the things which have been commanded me of the Lord.

When we don't accept the things we have been given, the Lord withholds greater things.

The New York Cumorah is the barest minimum that the Lord could have provided to test our faith, and yet our M2C intellectuals have completely rejected it. Thanks to today's Gold Cup winner, fewer and fewer members of the Church even know what the prophets have taught. The rising generation will never learn about it.

Mormon observed a similar problem in the days of King Benjamin:

Mosiah 26:1  Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.

In the same way, the rising generation in the Church cannot understand the words of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. M2C has been imprinted on their minds from their earliest childhood right through CES/BYU and the MTC.
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In 1 Nephi 15, Nephi's brothers "were disputing one with another concerning the things which [their] father had spoken unto them." Nephi was grieved because of the hardness of their hearts. He asked the cause of their disputations.

7 And they said: Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken...

8 And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?

9 And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.

The M2C intellectuals insist that the Lord has never revealed the location of any Book of Mormon locations, including Cumorah.

To reach this conclusion, they teach
(i) that President Cowdery was uninspired when he wrote Letter VII,
(ii) that either President Cowdery lied or Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, and Heber C. Kimball misunderstood Oliver's statements that he and Joseph had actually visited Mormon's depository of records in the Hill Cumorah;
(iii) that David Whitmer and Lucy Mack Smith had faulty memories,
(iv) that Joseph was not referring to the New York Cumorah in D&C 128 (even though Letter VII had been published in the Times and Seasons a year before he wrote D&C 128),
(v) that the Wentworth letter was referring to Indians in Central America (even though he had met with the Sac and Fox tribe just six months previously and had told them the Book of Mormon was the record of their fathers)
(vi) that Joseph adopted a false tradition about Cumorah that misled the Church until they, the intellectuals, figured out the "real" Cumorah is in Mexico.
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You probably get the idea by now. I could go on, and I'm sure you can think of many more examples from the scriptures that apply. It's fascinating to observe the prophetic warnings being played out in our day.

So now we come to the point: the winner of the 2017 Benjamin Winchester Gold Cup is the Correlation Department of the Church.

We emphasize: the Department is entirely distinct from the Correlation Committee. Not a single member of the Quorum of the Twelve or the First Presidency has ever repudiated the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

But the Correlation Department definitely has.

For that reason, we award the Gold Cup to Church employees who promote M2C from within the Church.

The award isn't limited to those in the Correlation Department, but the Correlation Department really controls what is said, written, and depicted throughout the Church.

We won't take the time to discuss correlation generally. There is an excellent explanation of Correlation here: http://www.truthwillprevail.xyz/2016/01/who-why-and-what-is-church-correlation.html

The parameters of the Correlation Department were set out in a 1978 letter:

The Correlation Department has been given responsibility to ensure more effective correlation of activities and programs of the various priesthood and auxiliary organizations and church departments.

            This department is responsible to review proposed activities, programs, handbooks, curricula, policies, procedures, practices, plans, terminology, training and leadership materials, and other materials intended for use throughout the Church for content, doctrine, and correlation.  Thus, such proposed items prepared by general Church departments and organizations should be submitted to the Correlation Department for review.

            The Correlation Department is not an origination nor implementing organization, but it will ensure that the policies approved by the First Presidency and the Twelve are consistently and uniformly applied.

Certainly the Correlation Department does an excellent job ensuring that Church policies are consistently and uniformly applied. But the Correlation Department has also taken its own initiative to originate and implement M2C, gradually and subtly at first, but openly now.

On this blog, we've discussed five specific techniques used by M2C intellectuals to promote M2C throughout the Church. E.g., http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2018/03/m2c-technique-1-suppressing-and.html

Without the participation of the Correlation Department, though, these techniques could not have prevailed. Without the M2C agenda of the Correlation Department, we would not have the Visitors Center on Temple Square teaching the two-Cumorahs theory.

For that matter, we would not have the Visitor Center at the Hill Cumorah in New York teaching the two-Cumorahs theory!
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A good example of the work of the Correlation Department is the April issue of the Ensign.

On the inside back cover is Minerva Teichert's painting, "Christ Visits the Nephites." This depicts Christ appearing at a Mayan temple, complete with the Mayan temple of the feathered serpent from Teotihuacan.

The painting is found in the Church History web page, here:
https://history.lds.org/exhibit/-christ-in-the-americas-exhibit?lang=eng#mv9

Incredibly, the web page assigns this title: "Christ Blesses the Nephites at the Bountiful Temple," with a reference to 3 Nephi 11:7. Thanks to the Correlation Department, we have a direct identification of the Nephite Bountiful Temple as a Mayan temple.

For more M2C art, go here: https://history.lds.org/exhibit/-christ-in-the-americas-exhibit?lang=eng

Also in this issue is Chapter 3 of Saints, the new Church history book published by the Church History department. This is a wonderful new book, and it's great that the book at least cites Letters IV, VII and VIII. But the notes refer to "LDS Messenger and Advocate," a source few Church members are familiar with or know how to look up. They could have cited Joseph Smith's History 1834-1836 right in the Joseph Smith papers themselves, as they do with other references in the notes.

Even if you look at the chapter online, the reference goes to the first page of the archive.org edition of the Messenger and Advocate instead of to the actual page where these letters are found. It would have been much easier for people to go to the copy in the Joseph Smith Papers (or the Times and Seasons, Millennial Star or Improvement Era, which also published these letters and are more familiar to Church members).

This may sound like quibbling but it's a question of accessibility and credibility.

Note 9 cites Oliver Cowdery, Letter IV, but lists pages 65-67, which are actually W.W. Phelps' Letter 4. Oliver's letter, which refers to the Urim and Thummim, starts on page 77.

In fact, if you go to the online version and look at footnote 13, which references Letter VII, the link actually lists Letter IV twice, not Letter VII. And it goes to the first page of the Messenger and Advocate, not the page where these letters are actually found.

Go to https://lds.org/languages/eng/content/history/saints-v1/03-plates-of-gold and click on note 13.

Here's where Letter IV starts:
https://archive.org/stream/latterdaysaintsm01unse#page/76/mode/2up/search/Letter+IV

Here's where Letter VII starts:
https://archive.org/stream/latterdaysaintsm01unse#page/n159/mode/2up

That's all technical stuff. Here's what I consider to be M2C influence, originating with the Correlation Department (and/or the History department, but either way, it is Church employees promoting M2C from within).

From Saints:

Moroni spoke of gold plates buried in a nearby hill. On the plates was etched the record of an ancient people who once lived in the Americas. The record told of their origins and gave an account of Jesus Christ visiting them and teaching the fullness of His gospel.8 Buried with the plates, Moroni said, were two seer stones, which Joseph later called the Urim and Thummim, or interpreters.

From Letter IV:

He then proceeded and gave a general account of the promises made to the fathers, and also gave a history of the aborigines of this country, and said they were literal descendants of Abraham. He represented them as once being an enlightened and intelligent people, possessing a correct knowledge of the gospel, and the plan of restoration and redemption. He said this history was written and deposited not far from that place, and that it was our brother's privilege, if obedient to the commandments of the Lord, to obtain, and translate the same by the means of the Urim and Thummim, which were deposited for that purpose with the record.

Do you see the difference?

Our Gold Cup winner, the Correlation Department, transforms President Cowdery's language "a history of the aborigines of this country" into the M2C version: "the record of an ancient people who once lived in the Americas." 

IOW, Moroni referred to "the aborigines of this country" but Church members are being told he said "an ancient people who once lived in the Americas."

It's unbelievable, isn't it?

The Correlation Department knows that few if any readers will look up the original sources. Doing so is deliberately made more difficult by the citation to the Messenger and Advocate instead of the Joseph Smith Papers, the online link to the first page of the archive.org version of the Messenger and Advocate, and the citation to the wrong letter on the wrong page.

Plus, there is the additional problem of these original sources being available only in English, while Saints is translated into 14 languages (print version) and over 40 languages online.

This means that very few, if any, members of the Church will learn what Moroni actually told Joseph Smith!

Notice two other points. Moroni told Joseph that "this history was written and deposited not far from that place," meaning Joseph's home near Palmyra. It was not written in Mesoamerica and hauled 3400 miles to Palmyra. But the M2C version of history we are getting in Saints skips right over this.

Next, notice that in Letter IV, Oliver has Moroni calling the interpreters the Urim and Thummim. Recall that Joseph helped write these letters; in fact, Oliver notes that he could only have gotten this information from Joseph.

There's a widespread assumption among Church historians that it was W.W. Phelps, not Joseph, who identified the interpreters as the Urim and Thummim. According to them, Joseph later adopted Phelps' term. The reason is that Phelps was the first to put this in writing (in the Evening and Morning Star). It's possible that Joseph did adopt Phelps' term, which plays in the M2C narrative that Joseph also adopted others' false ideas about the New York Cumorah.

However, Oliver was using documents no longer extant (which I think include his notebook in which he recorded what Joseph told him when they were translating the plates in Harmony in 1829). Between such sources and Joseph's own memory, why should we say, as a fact, that Joseph later called these the Urim and Thummim instead of reflecting what Moroni said as reported in Letter IV?
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I realize this is a lot of detail, but this example from the Ensign is really the tip of the iceberg of what the Correlation Department has been doing to rewrite history and suppress what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah, the identification of the descendants of Lehi, etc.

We've seen M2C promoted throughout Church curriculum, visitors centers, media, etc. Before we address the rationales they give, let's remember an important fact.

No member of the Twelve or First Presidency has ever repudiated the teachings of their predecessors about the New York Cumorah.

M2C is purely an invention of M2C intellectuals and the Church employees (including CES/BYU educators) who follow them.
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Two rationales from the Correlation Department:

1. There are people working in the Correlation Department who claim the Church has never taught the New York Cumorah.

This is the M2C tactic we identified here:
http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2018/03/technique-3-causing-confusion-by.html

In reality, as far back as the 1930s, Joseph Fielding Smith observed that the New York Cumorah had been taught by the Church for over 100 years. He was concerned about M2C because he knew it would cause members of the Church to become confused and disturbed in their faith. He reiterated his warning when he was President of the Quorum of the Twelve, but the M2C intellectuals rejected him.

The Church itself published James E. Talmage's Articles of Faith, which teaches that the New York Cumorah was the scene of the final battles of the Jaredites and the Nephites.

In 1975, when M2C was gaining adherents among scholars, President Marion G. Romney gave his talk in General Conference about America's Destiny, in which he reaffirmed, in no uncertain terms, that the hill Cumorah in New York was the site of the final battles of the Jaredites and the Nephites. First the M2C intellectuals rejected President Romney's testimony, and now the Correlation Department has followed suit.

A 1990 letter endorsed by each member of the First Presidency--Ezra Taft Benson, Gordon B. Hinckley, and Thomas S. Monson--observed that "The Church has long maintained, as attested to by references in the writings of General Authorities, that the Hill Cumorah in western New York state is the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon." The letter was widely circulated but our M2C intellectuals have rejected it, along with the Correlation Department.

2. There are people working in the Correlation Department who claim the New York Cumorah is not important.

FairMormon and the Correlation Department both circulate collections of out-of-context statements by some Church leaders that supposedly shows it doesn't matter where the Book of Mormon took place. I've addressed these throughout my blogs.

We stipulate that the spiritual messages of the Book of Mormon are more important than its setting. That's axiomatic. But that doesn't mean the setting is unimportant.

The "unimportant" argument is akin to saying the Word of Wisdom is unimportant because the Atonement is more important.

Joseph Smith himself wrote about "recounting occasionaly [sic] the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity."

Joseph's contemporaries often used the phrase "divine authenticity" that he used in this letter to Emma. They cited physical evidence to the best of their knowledge, but the only facts they cited were those set forth in Letter VII, which emphasized the fact that the Hill Cumorah was in New York to counter the arguments that the Book of Mormon was fiction.

Joseph made sure Letter VII was widely published for the Saints of his day, but also for the world at large, by having it reprinted in the major media centers of his day: Philadelphia, New York City, Edinburgh, and Liverpool.

Today, most of the world, if they think about the Book of Mormon at all, think of it as a work of 19th Century fiction. 

The teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah are a powerful, direct refutation of the claim that the Book of Mormon is fiction. But because M2C has replaced the teachings of the prophets, Church members and missionaries are left with the ineffective M2C response that, as the critics know, repudiates the prophets.

Plus, M2C fails the plausibility test on the archaeology, anthropology, geography, geology, and simple interpretation of the text.

Worst of all, members of the Church are being led to conclude the Book of Mormon is fiction because they are being taught to think of it as taking place in a fantasy world, thanks to the fantasy maps developed and taught by CES/BYU. And this is all approved by the Correlation Department.

There has never been a time in the history of the Church when it was more important to heed the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah than now.

But the Correlation Department is moving full steam ahead on promoting M2C throughout the Church.

For that reason,

Tip your hats and give a round of applause to 
The Correlation Department 
the 2017 Winner of the Gold Trophy of the Benjamin Winchester Award!








_____
* M2C is the acronym for the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorah's theory.

** Even before he obtained the plates, Joseph referred to the hill as Cumorah. His mother quoted him: "I passed by the hill of Cumorah, where the plates are, the angel of the Lord met me and said, that I had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord; that the time had come for the record to <​be​> brought forth." Online here: http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1845/111

Parley P. Pratt recorded Elder Cowdery's speech to the Lamanites in 1831, including this comment: "This Book, which contained these things, was hid in the earth by Moroni, in a hill called by him Cumorah, which hill is now in the state of New York, near the village of Palmyra, in Ontario County." (Autobiography of P.P. Pratt p 56-61, online here.)

David Whitmer said Joseph Smith "told me that he first found the plates in the year 1823; that during the fall of 1827 [sic] he had a vision, an angel appearing to him three times in one night and telling him that there was a record of an ancient people deposited in a hill near his father's house, called by the ancients 'Cumorah,' situated in the township of Manchester, Ontario county, N. Y." (online here).

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Benjamin Winchester Award 2017 - Silver Cup

Today we award the Silver Cup for the 2017 Benjamin Winchester Award.

As a reminder, these awards recognize a body of work. They are not personal in nature and do not constitute or imply personal criticism in any way. Every person considered for these awards is an awesome, faithful member of the Church, and every organization considered consists of such individuals. The awards are determined solely on the basis of whether the body of work supports or repudiates the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.
_____

More background. Benjamin Winchester was a zealous missionary who, with the encouragement of Joseph Smith, started his own newspaper in Philadelphia named the Gospel Reflector.

Winchester was a prolific author who, during 1841-1842, worked for the Times and Seasons in Nauvoo. His zeal caused trouble, though; he was fired from the paper and he returned to Philadelphia, where he worked on his Concordance of the Scriptures and other books. While in Philadelphia, he sent articles to Nauvoo, as he had done before. (The very first issue of the Times and Seasons contains a long letter from Winchester about his missionary efforts in the Eastern States, which you can read here, about half way down near the bottom of page 9: http://www.centerplace.org/history/ts/v1n01.htm).

During 1842, William Smith (Joseph's brother) was editing and publishing a newspaper in Nauvoo titled the Wasp (which you can see here: https://archive.org/details/TheWasp18421843). In my view, the historical evidence shows William was also the acting editor and publisher of the Times and Seasons, although Joseph was listed as the nominal editor. William published Winchester's articles anonymously and over the signature Ed. for editor.

The most infamous of these anonymous articles were the ones published in September and October 1842 that declared Zarahemla was in Guatemala (http://www.centerplace.org/history/ts/v3n23.htm) and that "these wonderful ruins of Palenque are among the mighty works of the Nephites" (http://www.centerplace.org/history/ts/v3n22.htm, p. 814). These anonymous articles were based on a popular travel book by Stephens and Catherwood, documenting their travels in Central America.

Because William Smith published Winchester's anonymous articles in the Times and Seasons, and Joseph Smith was listed as the nominal editor of that newspaper, these articles have been attributed to Joseph ever since. That mistaken attribution led to the development of the theory that the entire Book of Mormon took place in a limited area of Mesoamerica. Because of Winchester's anonymous articles, LDS scholars decided that Cumorah must be in Mesoamerica, which led them to conclude that the prophets and apostles are wrong about the New York Cumorah.

These scholars rationalized their repudiation of the prophets by claiming there are really "two Cumorahs." Hence, M2C (Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory).

This is why, although Benjamin Winchester himself accepted Joseph's teaching about the New York Cumorah, his anonymous articles led to M2C and

Joseph Smith prophesied that Benjamin Winchester would injure the Church as much as he could, and it's difficult to think how anything has injured the Church more than M2C. 

Because of M2C, we have CES/BYU teaching the youth that the prophets are wrong. It's actually worse than that, as we'll see tomorrow when we award the Gold Cup.

We name the award after Winchester because when he wrote these anonymous articles, he was an awesome, faithful member of the Church who thought he was doing the right thing. Like our award winners, he probably had no idea that his body of work would lead other faithful members to rationalize their rejection of the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, a rejection that opens the door to rejecting the prophets about whatever other topic one desires.
_____

When we considered the candidates for the Silver Cup, we thought of one whose influence as an author has made a major contribution to the successful implementation of M2C.

The choice is obvious. The Silver Cup goes to Chris Heimerdinger, author of the book series Tennis Shoes among the Nephites.

Brother Heimerdinger has sold over a million copies of his books.

Some may think that these books have helped young people "get into" the Book of Mormon. Not just young people, either; adults also have read or listened to Brother Heimerdinger's books.

There's no doubt these books are entertaining and popular. Normally, we would applaud anything that would encourage people to study the Book of Mormon, especially fun books that youth enjoy reading.

But in this case, we have a popular book series that is teaching the youth that the prophets are wrong.

I don't know if Brother Heimerdinger's books directly influenced CES/BYU or vice versa. Maybe they were independently inspired by the M2C intellectuals at FARMS.

Regardless of the genealogy of M2C, Brother Heimerdinger and the M2C citation cartel work well together.

Regarding Cumorah specifically, look at this book:

One vendor describes the plot this way:

When Becky and Josh Plimpton are kidnapped by Todd Finlay, Megan and her two suitors, Ryan and Apollus, attempt to rescue them, but through the mysterious powers of the Rainbow Room, one group ends up in nineteenth-century Jerusalem and the other in central America hundreds of years after the visitation of the Savior to the Nephites.

The entire series promotes M2C.

Imagine that you are growing up in the Church. You read these popular books about the Book of Mormon. You attend seminary and your teachers confirm the Mesoamerican setting you learned from Tennis Shoes among the Nephites. You learn that the "hill in New York" is not the "real" Cumorah; instead, there are "two Cumorahs."

Then you attend BYU and learn the same thing.

You go on a mission and at the MTC, you learn the same thing.

Then, on your mission (or afterwards) someone tells you the truth about the New York Cumorah. For the first time in your life, you learn what the prophets have taught and you think back to all the awesome teachers you had in Church who were telling you that the prophets were wrong. You wonder what else your teachers weren't telling you. We all know what comes next.

Some years ago there was a board game based on the Tennis Shoes series. The board game includes a map that adopts the Sorenson translation of the Book of Mormon and embraces M2C by having kids move through Book of Mormon lands in Mesoamerica.

It shows the "real" Cumorah in southern Mexico, where our friends at Book of Mormon Central continue to search for it.

This is very effective persuasion. Between this and the fantasy maps taught by CES/BYU, kids are so thoroughly indoctrinated in M2C that they cannot accept the teachings of the prophets when they eventually learn about them.



















The Tennis Shoes among the Nephites books are worthy successors to Benjamin Winchester's anonymous articles, but that's not the only reason we award Brother Heimerdinger the Silver Cup. In fact, other candidates we considered have come to reject M2C and embrace the teachings of the prophets. Had Brother Heimerdinger done so, he wouldn't have qualified for the 2017 Benjamin Winchester Award.

However, he has earned this recognition in large part because of his ongoing advocacy of M2C. I've addressed this previously here, but recently Brother Heimerdinger has contributed articles to Book of Mormon Central (the winner of the Bronze Cup). He continues to promote M2C and to teach people that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah.




Tip your hats and give a round of applause to 
Chris Heimerdinger, 
the 2017 Winner of the SilverTrophy of the Benjamin Winchester Award!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Benjamin Winchester Award 2017

Each year we will commemorate the great success that Benjamin Winchester had in injuring the Church as Joseph Smith prophesied.

The award recognizes individuals or groups who have contributed to Winchester's success.

Because this is the first year of the award, and because there are so many deserving nominees, we decided to recognize three World Cup winners this year: bronze, silver and gold.
_____

First, some background.

Benjamin Winchester was a prolific early Mormon author and a zealous missionary for many years. He was a close friend of Joseph Smith's. He went on Zion's Camp when he was only 16 years old, along with his father. He was present when the original Quorum of the Twelve were called and ordained. He went on missions and vigorously defended the Church. He started his own newspaper in Philadelphia, the Gospel Reflector, and he moved to Nauvoo in 1841 to work at the Times and Seasons.

However, he resisted authority. He eventually turned against the Church.

A month before he died at Carthage, Joseph Smith said that Winchester had a rotten heart and would "injure the Church as much as he could."

Few members of the Church today have ever heard of Benjamin Winchester. Even fewer know of Joseph's prophecy about him.

Because that's the case, how could Joseph's prophecy be fulfilled?
_____

My research into Church history led me to conclude that Joseph's prophecy about Winchester was fulfilled by the development of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory (M2C).

I think Benjamin Winchester wrote certain anonymous articles that were published in the Times and Seasons in 1842 that the Book of Mormon took place in Central America and that Zarahemla was in Guatemala. Because Joseph Smith was the nominal editor of the newspaper, people have attributed these anonymous articles to him. But in reality he had nothing to do with these articles. Joseph never once changed his mind about Book of Mormon geography, he never deviated from the New York Cumorah, and he never once linked the Book of Mormon to Central (or South) America.

Nevertheless, relying on Winchester's anonymous articles, RLDS scholars developed the limited Mesoamerican geography. Over the objection of Joseph Fielding Smith, LDS scholars picked up the theory and developed M2C. By now, these M2C intellectuals in the Church have managed to repudiate the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah and have instead arranged to have Winchester's M2C dogma infiltrate the Church.
_____

There were plenty of deserving nominees for the 2017 award. After careful review of the accomplishments of the various nominees, we have narrowed the field to the top three contenders.

This year's Bronze Trophy for the Benjamin Winchester award goes to Book of Mormon Central.

Book of Mormon Central is doing more to confuse Church members and investigators than we ever thought possible. They are actively teaching people to disbelieve the prophets, solely because of their fixation on, or obsession with, M2C.

Kee-o-kuk, Chief of the Fox, wearing
a red loincloth, 1835
They publish a series of commentaries they call "Kno-Wise." Many of them are excellent.

However, many are infected with Mesomania as they attempt to establish M2C throughout the Church. These I call "no-wise."

A fine example is how they tried to find "correspondences" between Mayans and the Lamanites who wore a lamb skin about their loins, stained with blood. What BOMC won't tell people is that the Indian chief with whom Joseph Smith met in August 1841 was himself wearing a red loincloth! 

Joseph Smith "instructed them in many things which the Lord had revealed unto me concerning their Fathers, and the promises that were made concerning them in the Book of Mormon." 

Good luck to BOMC showing that the Mayan were the Fathers of the Sac and Fox tribes.

I discussed this here:
http://www.bookofmormoncentralamerica.com/2018/03/no-wise-191-robbers-and-lamb-skin.html
_____

Accepting the teachings of Joseph Smith is apparently too difficult for M2C scholars. That's why they are teaching everyone to disbelieve the prophets. 

Why?

Because of Benjamin Winchester's anonymous articles in the 1842 Times and Seasons, which is the entire and sole foundation for M2C.

Many readers probably expected Book of Mormon Central to win the gold for 2017. Based on their activities in 2018 so far, they are on a course to win the gold for 2018. But the 2017 award, being the first year of the Benjamin Winchester award, recognizes a body of work in addition to the nominee's activity during 2017.

Some might think we should have attributed the long, faithful work of FARMS and BMAF to Book of Mormon Central. There's no doubt that FARMS and BMAF have made major contributions to the success Benjamin Winchester has had in persuading members of the Church to repudiate the prophets. But we are recognizing the nominees for their own work, not that of their predecessors and affiliates.

On that basis, Book of Mormon Central, as effective as it has been in promoting the Winchester dogma, still has not accomplished as much as the nominees who have won the Silver and Gold.

We will announce those winners in the next few days.
_____

Tip your hats and give a round of applause to 
Book of Mormon Central, 
the 2017 Winner of the Bronze Trophy of the Benjamin Winchester Award!







No-Wise #191 - robbers and Lamb skin - illusory correspondence

Book of Mormon Central (BOMC) recently put an old no-wise on Facebook. This one asks, "Why Did the Gadianton Robbers Wear a Lamb Skin?" You can see the original here:
https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/why-did-the-gadianton-robbers-wear-a-lamb-skin

The no-wise focuses on 3 Nephi 4:7

"Behold, great and terrible was the day that they did come up to battle; and they were girded about after the manner of robbers; and they had a lamb-skin about their loins, and they were dyed in blood"

As usual, BOMC desperately tried to explain how Mayan Nephites would have used another animal and call it a "lamb." Or else Joseph Smith mis-translated the plates again.

BOMC resorts to another illusory "correspondence" based on this logical argument:

Nephites had loincloths
Mayans had loincloths
Therefore, Nephites were Mayans.

This is illusory because it is more difficult to find an ancient human society that did not have loincloths, aprons, girdles, etc. than to find one that did. They are standard apparel at Indian Pow-Wows even today: http://forums.powwows.com/f13/breechcloth-aprons-50190/

We don't have to search for "correspondences" in Mesoamerica if we simply believe what Joseph Smith taught.

Here's a typically ridiculous BOMC rationalization with its illustration of Aztec warriors:

The shock-factor of the lamb-skin is heightened when put in the context of Mesoamerican intimidation tactics. The donning of animal pelts was intended to create a fearful spectacle,11 so it may have been unexpected for the Gadianton robbers to appear in the skins of a non-aggressive herbivore—like a lamb. Brant Gardner explained, “Mesoamericans were well known to wear animal skins, though the animal would typically be a ferocious jaguar, not a peaceful ‘lamb.’”12

These so-called "Mesoamerican intimidation tactics" are ubiquitous in human cultures. They are standard apparel

Compare this with an example from another culture: 

Notice how this one is actually dyed in blood (or in red paint that simulates blood) and wears a white loincloth also dyed in blood (or in red paint that simulated blood).

This is a painting by George Catlin titled "Cáh-he-ga-shín-ga, Little Chief," 1834, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr., 1985.66.45

https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/cah-he-ga-shin-ga-little-chief-4209

Luce Center Label
“The Osages have been formerly, and until quite recently, a powerful and warlike tribe: carrying their arms fearlessly through all of these realms; and ready to cope with foes of any kind that they were liable to meet. At present, the case is quite different; they have been repeatedly moved and jostled along, from the head waters of the White river, and even from the shores of the Mississippi, to where they now are; and reduced by every war and every move.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 38, 1841; reprint 1973)

Or another one, again with the loincloth and red staining:


George Catlin, Ah-móu-a, The Whale, One of Kee-o-kúk's Principal Braves, 1835, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr., 1985.66.9


Luce Center Label
George Catlin painted this portrait at a Sac and Fox village in 1835. He described the subject as “holding a handsome war-club in his hand.” (Catlin, 1848 Catalogue, Catlin’s Indian Gallery, SAAM online exhibition

https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/ah-mou-whale-one-kee-o-kuks-principal-braves-4452




If you read only the publications of BOMC and the rest of the M2C citation cartel, you won't recognize these paintings. But maybe you'll recognize this one:
Joseph Smith preaching to the Sac and Fox
This is the tribe with whom Joseph Smith met in August 1841, not long after Catlin painted these paintings. Notice the loincloths worn by the Lamanites in this painting.

Notice I said Lamanites. The current Church History department wants us to think this was a quaint folk belief on the part of "early members of the Church," but let's look at what Joseph Smith himself said, which you can read in the Joseph Smith papers here:
http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1838-1856-volume-c-1-addenda/10

Kee-o-kuk, Chief of the Fox, wearing
a red loincloth 1835
 12 August 1841
<​12th​> Thursday. A considerable number of the Sac & Fox Indians have been for several days encamped in the neighborhood of Montrose. The ferryman this morning brought over a great number on the Ferry boat and two Flat boats for the purpose of visiting me. <​The Military band, and a detachment of Invincibles were on shore ready to receive & escort them to the grove, but they refused to come on shore until I went down.​> I accordingly went down, and met “Keokuk,” “Kish-ku-Kosh,” “Appenoose,” and about 100 Chiefs and Braves of those tribes with their families at the landing, introduced my brother Hyrum [Smith]  to them, and after the usual salutations, conducted them to the meeting ground in the grove, and instructed them in many things which the Lord had revealed unto me concerning their Fathers, and the promises that were made concerning them in the Book of Mormon; and advised them to cease killing each other and warring with other tribes, and keep peace with the whites; which was interpreted to them. Keokuk replied he had a Book of Mormon at his Wickaup which I had given him some years before. “I believe,” said he, “you are a great and good man; I look rough, but I also am a Son of the Great Spirit. I’ve heard your advice— we intend to quit fighting and follow the good talk you have given us.” After the conversation they were feasted on the green with good food, dainties, and melons by the brethren; and they entertained the spectators with a specimen of their dancing.

Here's what he wrote in the Wentworth letter, published in March 1842, about 6 months after he taught the Sac and Fox:

Sac and Fox dancing with red loincloths
I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, and shown who they were, and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people was made known unto me: I was also told where there was deposited some plates on which were engraven an abridgement [abridgment] of the records of the ancient prophets that had existed on this continent….

The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country. 

Thanks to the M2C influences in the Church History, Correlation and Curriculum departments, members of the Church will never learn about this.

In 1833, Joseph had written a letter to The American Revivalist which was never published, but here's what he wrote:

The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians… By it, we learn that our western tribes of Indians, are descendants from that Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and that the land of America is a promised land unto them.

After this letter was not published in its entirety, Joseph Smith sent a second letter to N. E. Seaton, Rochester:

“Dear sir,

I was somewhat disappointed on the receiving my paper with only a part of my letter inserted in it. The letter which I wrote you for publication I wrote by the commandment of God.” (History of the Church 1: 326)

Lots more images of actual Lamanites who are red-stained and wearing loincloth (or apron or girdle) are available.

https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/we-chush-ta-doo-ta-red-man-distinguished-ball-player-4332

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e5/cf/05/e5cf05857fc86c94b01b60aa73dcc394.jpg

https://www.georgecatlin.org/Dance-To-The-Berdache-Sac-And-Fox.html

https://www.georgecatlin.org/Tul-Lock-Ch%C3%ADsh-Ko-Drinks-The-Juice-Of-The-Stone.html

https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/kee-o-kuk-watchful-fox-chief-tribe-4189

https://www.georgecatlin.org/Kee-O-Kuk-The-Running-Fox.html

https://www.georgecatlin.org/The-War-Dance-By-Ojibbeway-Indians.html

https://www.georgecatlin.org/Sioux-Ball-Player-Ah-No-Je-Nange-He-Who-Stands-On-Both-Sides.html

https://www.georgecatlin.org/Sioux-Buffalo-Dance.html

https://www.georgecatlin.org/Mandan-Medicine-Man-Mah-To-Hah-Old-Bear-1832-39.html

https://www.georgecatlin.org/Three-Osage-Braves-1841.html

https://www.georgecatlin.org/Ball-Players.html

https://www.georgecatlin.org/Tul-Lock-Chish-Ko-Drinks-The-Juice-Of-The-Stone-In-Ball-Players-Dress-1834.html

https://www.georgecatlin.org/Hunting-Buffalo-Camouflaged-With-Wolf-Skins-C.1832.html

https://www.georgecatlin.org/Comanche-Warrior-With-A-Shield-Lance-And-Bow-And-Arrows-C.1835.html

https://henrithibodeau.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/an-echo-from-the-past-amazing-painting-of-sa-ga-yeath-qua-pieth-tow-early-18th-century-iroquois-leader/

Friday, March 23, 2018

M2C Technique 5. Dressing the new idea (M2C) in old habits to make it easier to accept.

Technique 5. Dressing the new idea (M2C) in old habits to make it easier to accept.

It is well known in the corporate world that people avoid new products unless there is something familiar about them. The book The Power of Habit explains how companies dress new ideas in old habits to make them easier to accept.

M2C intellectuals have been working hard for decades to make M2C a habit. By now, it has become a well-established habit. But bad habits can still be overcome with enough effort.

For the Millennials, M2C is not a problem. It is what they have grown up with in Seminary, Institute, BYU, the MTC, and all the M2C inspired artwork, media, displays, etc.

George Q. Cannon recognized the power of early impressions:  "If our children be permitted to conceive incorrect ideas concerning the location of the lands inhabited by the Nephites and the sites of their cities, it will be difficult to eradicate them." "Editorial," Juvenile Instructor, 22/4 (1887): p. 221

President Cannon's comments point out the problem with teaching M2C to the youth, but also explain why, with older generations, M2C intellectuals face a bigger challenge. Some of "seasoned" members of the Church still remember the New York Cumorah being taught in General Conference in the 1970s. Some people in their 30s or 40s may have read Articles of Faith and/or A Marvelous Work and a Wonder. Some of them might even read the Joseph Smith Papers and discover Letter VII on their own (although the editors of the JSP certainly don't bring it to anyone's attention).

So how does M2C prevail over the memory of these older generations?

The M2C intellectuals know well the proverb that "science advances one funeral at a time," and they count on the older generation who believed the prophets dying off before they influence the youth.

However, to a large degree, M2C promoters don't care what older members of the Church remember. The M2C intellectuals are experts at educational technology. They have been targeting the youth of the Church for decades. By now, M2C is firmly imprinted on the minds of the Millennials and younger generations, as we saw in previous posts.
_____

We've seen how the Missionary Department is helping to promulgate M2C at the MTC. M2C is found in Preach My Gospel as well.

The Church History department is doing its part to promote M2C by including it in the notes in the Joseph Smith Papers and by presenting it in the visitors centers and museums. The Church History department lately claims it has been open and transparent about Church history, but there's a big exception: Letter VII, which is now probably the biggest secret in Church history. I'll have more to say about that soon.

All that said, M2C has been sophisticated enough to spread M2C even among "seasoned" members of the Church by dressing it in old, familiar habits.

Perhaps the most familiar "habit" is reading Church magazines, the Deseret News, and publications from BYU and Deseret Book. M2C has effectively co-opted all of these.

I've previously shown how M2C appeared in the Ensign.
http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2018/02/cumorah-8b-m2c-in-ensign.html

The Deseret News has long been a promoter of M2C. For example, you will see coverage of the M2C conference sponsored by Book of Mormon Central, but you won't see coverage of the conference sponsored by the FIRM Foundation. This pattern has been going on for years.

The Deseret News has published plenty of M2C articles over the years, but they've never allowed an article defending the prophets' teachings on the New York Cumorah to be published. Here's an example: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/705386883/Cumorah-claims-cant-sustain-Great-Lakes-model.html. By now, readers can spot the logical fallacies throughout that article. And notice the complete absence of any discussion of Letter VII.

Brother Ash's biography at FairMormon describes him as "a veteran staff member of the FAIR, former weekly columnist for the Mormon Times, and current columnist for Meridian Magazine. He has presented at six of the past fourteen FAIR Conferences and has written more than 200 articles defending the faith. He has been published in the FARMS Review, Sunstone, Dialogue, and the Ensign, and appears in the FAIR DVDs on the Book of Abraham as well as one addressing DNA and the Book of Mormon."

IOW, Brother Ash is a certified member of the M2C citation cartel. When it comes to M2C, reading the Deseret News is like reading Pravda about Putin.

We've seen how BYU Studies, the self-proclaimed "premier Mormon academic journal since 1959," is essentially an M2C advocacy journal. The Editor-in-Chief, Brother John W. Welch, founded FARMS and is the co-founder and Chairman of Book of Mormon Central. Regarding Cumorah, there are no greater opponents to the prophets than FARMS, Book of Mormon Central and BYU Studies.



Deseret Book has published lots of M2C books, including BYU Professor John Sorenson's Mormon's Codex.

They bolstered the credibility and acceptance of that book by having Terryl Givens write the Foreword, including this praise: "John Sorenson has again upped the ante with what will immediately serve as the high-water mark of scholarship on the Book of Mormon."

To its credit, Deseret Book as a retailer offers a variety of books that represent multiple perspectives. They even distribute Letter VII. But as a publisher, Deseret Book (and its subsidiary Covenant Books) will only publish books about the Book of Mormon if they support M2C.

_____


M2C intellectuals have also cleverly mixed M2C with other, legitimate scholarship about the Book of Mormon. A good example is the 1991 book titled Rediscovering the Book of Mormon: Insights you may have missed before. It was published by Deseret Book.

Here is the description from the Deseret Book web page.

Did you know battles in the Book of Mormon were fought according to seasons?

Did you know Nephi patterned his record after the exodus?

You'll find new insights into things you may have wondered about in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, a unique volume for all students of the scriptures. It offers twenty-four essays on such topics as war, repentance, politics, culture, and poetry.

Scholars of the Book of Mormon share fresh insights on these topics that appeal to a broad, general audience of Latter-day Saint adults. John L. Sorenson discusses Seasons of War, Seasons of Peace in the Book of Mormon, Richard Dilworth Rust presents poetry found in the ancient record, and John W. Welch writes about what he calls A Masterpiece: Alma 36.

You will find presentations on Book of Mormon imagery, warfare, Isaiah, the stealing of the Lamanite daughters, and Hebrew backgrounds. Other contributors include Eugene England, Stephen D. Ricks, Alan Goff, Robert L. Millet, and Catherine Thomas.

Most of the material is geography neutral, but the article on war specifically focuses on Mesoamerica.

Back in 1991, M2C was not as widely accepted as it is now. The youth had not yet been groomed to accept M2C. After all, in 1990 the office of the First Presidency sent out a letter, approved by the entire First Presidency, that included this statement:

"The Church has long maintained, as attested to by references in the writings of General Authorities, that the Hill Cumorah in western New York state is the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon."

It has taken several years of careful indoctrination to reach the point where we are today. Now M2C is widely accepted even among "seasoned" members of the Church.

But it is not universally accepted. There are still some members of the Church who believe in the prophets's teachings about the New York Cumorah.

As long time readers know, I think M2C is the fruition of the work of Benjamin Winchester. Joseph Smith said Winchester was rotten at heart and would injure the Church as much as he could. Winchester has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

Which is why we will recognize the 2017 recipient of the Benjamin Winchester award next week.