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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Palmyra - Oliver Cowdery Memorial

One of the displays at the
Oliver Cowdery Memorial, Palmyra, NY
We just returned from Palmyra, NY. My next- door neighbor told me a lot of people stop at the Oliver Cowdery Memorial. We keep running out of handouts, too.

Fortunately, local Church memberskeep it well stocked.

All of this means a lot of people are learning about Letter VII and what the prophets have taught about Cumorah.

Right now, visitors to Church history sites in New York are inundated with images of Mesoamerica.

They never learn what the prophets have taught about the Hill Cumorah--except at the Oliver Cowdery Memorial.

Someday, hopefully in the near future, people who visit the Hill Cumorah Visitors Center will actually learn what the prophets have taught about the Hill Cumorah.

I have a lot of meetings and backed-up work so I don't plan to post anything else this week, but as a reminder, I'm speaking at the conference this Friday and Saturday.

They've asked me to do Q&A during lunchtime, so this is your chance to ask any questions you'd like.


My topics will be:

What You Need to Know about the Church's New Saints Book.


New Insights on the Translation of the Book of Mormon.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

September 22, 1828

September 22, 1828

Today is the 190th anniversary of the day when Joseph obtained the Harmony plates from Moroni for the second time. This was after Martin Harris lost the 116 pages.

Exactly one year previously, Joseph opened the stone box on the Hill Cumorah in western New York. This was in a department of the hill separate from the depository of Nephite records (Mormon 6:6).

Joseph took the plates to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to translate them. He translated all of them, except a sealed portion, when he was in Harmony. Then, as indicated by D&C 10, he went to Fayette and translated the second set of plates; i.e., the plates of Nephi that the messenger brought to him from the hill Cumorah.

Maybe by the 200th anniversary, in 2027, everyone in the Church will accept what Joseph and Oliver taught about Cumorah in Letter VII.

Actually, I hope that day arrives sooner. Maybe in 2023, the 200th anniversary of the date when Joseph first saw the plates?

Or 2020, the 200th anniversary of the First Vision?

But why wait? How about this year, in 2018?

Think of what a difference it would make in the Church and in the world if all of our LDS scholars and educators decided, finally, to embrace what Joseph and Oliver and all of their successors taught?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

M2C citation cartel maps

People have wondered about the maps used in BYU Professor Tyler Griffin's presentation that FairlyMormon posted the other day, which I commented about in yesterday's post and video.

"Variations on the Heartland model"
Because I suspect we'll be seeing a lot more of these in the future, I thought it's worth a blog post.

The map Brother Griffin described as "variations on the Heartland model" is unrecognizable to anyone who has studied the Heartland models.

In fact, I don't know of a single person who has advocated this map.

In previous presentations, such as Education Week 2017, Brother Griffin illustrated his presentation with maps prepared by the proponents of the various models themselves.

The "Heartland" map you won't see
from the M2C citation cartel
In fact, he showed my Moroni's America map, among several others prepared by actual proponents.

Doesn't it seem more accurate to show maps prepared by proponents instead of generic maps that misrepresent what proponents actually say?

Not if you're trying to promote M2C.

In the FairlyMormon presentation, he mentioned Heartland briefly, but he spent more time on the African model, which is understandable, I suppose, given his audience.

FairlyMormon opposes the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, so they don't want their audiences even knowing there are models (and abundant evidence) that supports the teachings of the prophets.

The maps Brother Griffin used in his presentation come from here:


I like this source, even if it's a little quirky, because it has facsimiles of historic editions of the Book of Mormon so you can compare them easily.


The web page was created by KC Kern. About a year ago I wrote to Brother Kern to request changes to his Heartland map, or at least an expansion to show more alternatives. He declined.

It's no surprise that Brother Griffin used these maps because he is a collaborator with Book of Mormon Central Censor, and they are collaborating with this web page. You can see the influence by the content.

For example, if you go to the map page above and click on "Mesoamerica" you get this commentary:

A Mesoamerican setting for the Promised Land geography, subscribed to by most mainstream LDS scholars at BYU and the Maxwell Institute.

I don't know if anyone has actually polled "LDS scholars at BYU and the Maxwell Institute." If someone has seen such a poll or survey, please let me know.

Definitely, the M2C scholars in the M2C citation cartel promote M2C. They formed and enforce the citation cartel precisely to give the false impression of unanimity.

But I know of several BYU scholars who still believe what the prophets teach, including the consistent and persistent teaching that there is one Cumorah and it is in New York.

If you click on the "Internal" map, you get this one, which is basically the same as BYU's M2C fantasy map.

The caption reads:

Internal map of Promised Land geography based on John Sorenson's Mormons Map.

Of course, this so-called "internal map" is purely a product of an M2C-driven interpretation of the text.

The M2C scholars decided the prophets were wrong about Cumorah and that Joseph Smith learned about Book of Mormon geography/historicity from a popular 1841 travel book about Central America. Then they interpreted the text to fit their theory.

BYU's M2C fantasy map
Brother Griffin and his collaborators at Book of Mormon Central Censor seek to enforce this interpretation of the text everywhere they can.

Hence, their M2C fantasy map that they teach to every BYU student.

It's basically the same as the CES M2C fantasy map.

Hopefully this map will never appear in the missionary editions of the Book of Mormon (perhaps in the 2020 edition).

But the artwork already teaches M2C, and since every missionary is trained by CES and/or BYU, all the youth are learning that the Book of Mormon describes a fantasy land and that the prophets are all wrong about Cumorah in New York.


The M2C theme is found throughout the web page.

If you search in the places tab for "Hill Cumorah" you get a photo of a mountain in Central America.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

BYU's M2C fantasy map explained

FairlyMormon recently uploaded a video presentation about BYU's M2C fantasy map. I did a quick video review of the presentation that you can see here:


[Note: people complained about the audio levels in the FairlyMormon video. I didn't narrate my review because I didn't want to mess with the audio levels.]

The presentation was given by BYU Professor and M2C advocate Tyler Griffin. He teaches the introductory Book of Mormon class to thousands of BYU students.

Brother Griffin is an outstanding teacher and a great guy. I really like what he teaches about the doctrine and lessons of the Book of Mormon.

But as you see in this video, he talks all about geography without once mentioning what the prophets have taught.

Instead, he relies on "decades of research" by intellectual "giants." He specifically names John Sorenson, Jack Welch, and Kirk Magleby, all of whom have advocated M2C for decades.

Naturally, Brother Griffin is a consultant for Book of Mormon Central, so we are not surprised that he developed the BYU fantasy map based on the M2C interpretation of the text.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Meet your censors

I've been discussing the censorship in Saints, but I want to clarify that I don't think the historians want to censor anything. As a rule, all the historians I've met want to be accurate and complete.

And I emphasize again that I greatly admire and respect all the faithful scholars involved with Saints and throughout the Church, including those in the M2C citation cartel. They're all great people, and everyone has differences of opinions.

I object to censorship, not to differences of opinion.

In my view, censorship is driven by condescension; i.e., the censors think readers can't handle the truth. But I think readers can handle the truth. They can handle differences of opinion and make good choices--but only when those choices are fully informed.

The purpose of censorship is to prevent people from making informed choices.

Constraints of space drive many editorial decisions, of course, but as I've shown, Saints goes out of its way to avoid educating readers about the New York Cumorah. The book even uses a phony story about Mary Whitmer to avoid educating readers what Joseph Smith said about that messenger.

The pretext, of course, is being "neutral" about Book of Mormon geography. But how is it "neutral" to revise Church history and censor the teachings of the prophets?

True neutrality would let members of the Church know what the original documents say. Censorship, especially when targeted at specific subject matter, is the opposite of neutrality.

To understand the censorship in Saints, we need to consult the experts at censorship: the M2C citation cartel, especially at Book of Mormon Central, which I call Book of Mormon Central Censor.

I have a blog about it, here: http://bookofmormoncensor.blogspot.com/

You might ask, why does Book of Mormon Central Censor engage in censorship?

It's an easy answer once you understand their mission.

One of the major goals of Book of Mormon Central Censor is "to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex.*" This means that there must be two Cumorahs; i.e., the "false tradition" Cumorah in New York, and the "actual, true" Cumorah somewhere in Mexico. Hence, M2C.**

They can't effectively accomplish this goal if they let members of the Church find out there are alternatives to M2C.

Actually, they can't effectively accomplish this goal if they let members of the Church find out what the prophets have taught.

Hence, the censorship.

One would think that if Book of Mormon Central Censor was confident in M2C, they would welcome alternative views, if only to let their readers see how much more persuasive M2C is.

But the opposite is true.

The people at Book of Mormon Central Censor know that most members of the Church would reject M2C if they knew what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah.

The only alternative they have is censorship.

I have a post coming next week on the reasons why our M2C intellectuals persist with M2C. I hope you find it useful.


* A lot of people have donated a lot if time and money to Book of Mormon Central Censor in the belief that the organization is dedicated to accumulating and disseminating faithful material about the Book of Mormon. Donors believe this stated policy:

Book of Mormon Central at this time is officially geography neutral. 

Except the statement is not true. 

Book of Mormon Central Censor has an editorial policy of promoting M2C and rejecting alternative interpretations of the Book of Mormon--including the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

If you're a donor to Book of Mormon Central Censor, you might wonder why the organization doesn't follow its purported policy.

You might wonder, do I really want to contribute to a group that actively teaches the prophets are wrong?

Here is the reality.

"The legal organization behind Book of Mormon Central is the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum, Inc., a 501 (c) 3 non-profit public charity chartered in the state of Utah in 2004."

You can go to the web page of this legal organization and see what the true goals are.


Our goals are 
(1) to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex, 
(2) to correlate and publish works of LDS and CofC scholars, 
(3) to help promote unity and cooperation among scholars and students of the Book of Mormon, and 
(4) to provide a forum where responsible scholars can present current ideas and discoveries. 

BMAF/BOMC corporate mission

Book of Mormon Central Censor does a good job achieving its goal of convincing Church members that the Book of Mormon is an ancient Mesoamerican codex.

And actually, I'm fine with that. Or, I would be if they were honest about it.

I really like the people at Book of Mormon Central Censor. They're all sincere, doing what they think is right.

Furthermore, I share their goals of accumulating and disseminating information about the Book of Mormon.

I just disagree about their censorship policy.

I think Book of Mormon Central should be open to all faithful members of the Church when it comes to the Book of Mormon. After all, they purport to be the "center" of Book of Mormon studies.

**FWIW, I don't think the New York Cumorah forecloses any geography beyond the New York Cumorah. It's the M2C intellectuals who have insisted that Cumorah cannot be in New York because of their obsession with Mesoamerica.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Saints mole strikes again

The mole is awesome. He/she managed to insert a footnote that leads careful readers directly to what Joseph said about the "plains of the Nephites," an important quotation which, of course, the editors of Saints censored because of M2C.

[Note: I'm concerned that the censors in the Church History Department are undoing the mole's work, so please don't tell them about this post. The Gospel Library version doesn't give hyperlinks to the Joseph Smith Papers now. I thought it did before. The links on my desktop Kindle stopped working yesterday after I posted about the mole, but the links on my phone's Kindle still work. Try this yourself and see what your electronic version does. If the censors "fix" the mole's links, it will be even more difficult for members of the Church to learn what the prophets have taught.]

Go to Chapter 17 in Saints, "The Camp of Israel." In digital versions, you can search for "our numbers" and you'll go right to the passage. Footnote 21 is the one we're going to look at.

Here is the paragraph:

"Camp is in as good a situation as could be expected," he wrote Emma while sitting on the riverbank, "but our numbers and means are altogether too small." 21

Note 21 reads:

Joseph Smith to Emma Smith, June 4, 1834, in JSP, D4:52-59; "The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri," The Evening and the Morning Star, June 1834, [8].

Here is the hyperlink:


The passage quoted in Saints is from page 57 in the Joseph Smith Papers, but the hyperlink instead takes you to page 58.

This is awesome because page 58 starts with the passage that Saints has censored because it contradicts M2C.

Here is the top of page 58 that the link takes you to:

occasionaly 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,14* and gazing upon a country the fertility, the splendour and the goodness so indescribable, all serves to pass away time unnoticed,

You can see why the editors of Saints censored this passage. This is Joseph Smith writing a personal letter to Emma, specifically identifying Ohio, Indiana and Illinois as the plains of the Nephites. He explained that the mounds and artifacts in the area are proof of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. He related this to his companions during Zion's camp.

The last thing the M2C intellectuals at BYU and CES want is for members of the Church to know what Joseph actually taught. The Correlation Department will never allow Joseph's teachings to appear in Church materials, and especially not in Saints.

But the mole has directed readers specifically to this passage. 

It's awesome.

[Note: I have a comment on note 14 below because it's also very significant.]

Also, to be fair, Note 21 actually references Joseph's entire letter. But very few people have access to the printed copies of the Joseph Smith Papers, and they're available only in English.

Without a hyperlink, Note 21 is useless for most readers. Like other examples of censorship in Saints, without hyperlinks these notes do little more than convey a sense of completeness and accuracy, which I consider misleading and even dishonest because of the censorship.

Here are the two pages from Joseph's letter so you can see what the censors tried to do and how the mole thwarted them.

The passage quoted in Saints is in red below. It's on page 57. The link in note 21 does not go to page 57. Instead, it goes to page 58, which starts with the passage (in bold) that is always censored because of M2C.

p. 57 [http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-to-emma-smith-4-june-1834/2]

considerable fever in consequence of taking cold—1 and bro Foster who came from Genseeo2 who was taken last evening with the Typhus Fever, but are both better to day, and we are in hopes will be able to proceed on their journey to morrow, I have been able to endur[e] the fatigue of the journey far beyond my most sanguine expectations, except have been troubled some with lameness,3 have had my feet blistered, but are now well, and have also had a little touch of my side complaint,4 Bro Harper [Harpin] Riggs is now able to travel all day & his health is improving very fast, as is the case with all the weakly ones, Addison Wren5 has been an exceeding good boy and has been very obedient to me in all things, as much so as tho I was his own father, and is healthy and able to travel all day. William [Smith] has been some unwell, but is now enjoying good health George [A. Smith] has been afflicted with his eyes, but they are getting better,6 and in fine, all the Camp is in as good a situation as could be expected; but our numbers and means are altogether too small for the accomplishment of such a great enterprise, but they are falling daily7 and our only hope is that whilst we deter the enemy, and terrify them for a little season (for we learn by the means of some spies we send out for that purpose that they are greatly terrified) notwithstanding they are endeavoring to make a formidable stand, and their numbers amount to several hundred,8 and the Lord shows us to good advantage in the eyes of their spies,9 for in counting us the[y] make of our 170 men from five to seven hundred and the reports of the people are not a little calculated [to] frighten and strike terror through their ranks for the general report is that four or five hundred Mormons are traveling through the Country well-armed, and disciplined; and that five hundred more has gone a south west [course?] and expect to meet us, and also another company are on a rout[e] North of us, all these things serve to help us, and we believe the hand of the Lord is in it, Now is the time for the Church abroad to come to Zion. It is our prayer day and night that God will open the heart of the Churches to pour in men and means to assist us, for the redemption of Zion and upbuilding of Zion. We want the Elders in Kirtland to use every exertion to influence the Church to come speedily to our relief.10 Let them come pitching their tents by the way,11 remembering to keep the sabbath day according to the articles and covenants12 the same as at home, buying flour and cooking their own provision which they can do, with little trouble, and the expence will be trifling. We have our company divided into messes of 12 or 13— each having a cook and cooking utensils, all that is necessary; so that we are not obliged to trouble any mans house, and we buy necessaries such as butter, sugar and honey, so that we live as well as heart can wish. After we left the eastern part of the State of Ohio we could get provision on an average as follows; flour by the hundred $1.50, bacon from 4½ to 6 dollar per Hundred butter from 6 to 8 cents pr pound, honey from 3 to 4 shilling the gallon,13 new milk from 3 4 to 6 ct per gallon. 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

p. 58, where the mole's link goes [http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-to-emma-smith-4-june-1834/3]

occasionaly 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,14 and gazing upon a country the fertility, the splendour and the goodness so indescribable, all serves to pass away time unnoticed, and in short were it not at every now and then our thoughts linger with inexpressible anxiety for our wives and our children our kindred according to the flesh who are entwined around our hearts; And also our brethren and friends; our whole journey would be as a dream, and this would be the happiest period of all our lives. We learn this journey how to travel, and we look with pleasing anticipation for the time to come, when we shall retrace our steps, and take this journey again in the enjoyment and embrace of that society we so much love, which society can only cause us to have any desire or lingering thoughts of that which is below. We have not as yet heard any thing from Lyman [Wight] and Hyrum [Smith] and do not expect to till we get to salt river Church, which is only fifty miles from this place.15 Tell Father Smith [Joseph Smith Sr.] and all the family, and brother Oliver [Cowdery] to be comforted and look forward to the day when the trials and tribulations of this life will be at an end, and we all enjoy the fruits of our labour if we hold out faithful to the end which I pray may be the happy lot of us all.
From your’s in the bonds of affliction.
Joseph Smith Jr.

N.B. The enclosed bill we could not get changed and is of no use to us now,16 and we send to you & sister [Rebecca Swain] Williams to be divided between you, that you may be able to procure such necessaries as you need &c.

17 I embrace this opportunity to fill up this sheet to you, my beloved companion, not that I have anything important to communicate, but remembering your request to write to you while on the road, but as I write every week to brother Oliver, you will know all the particulars of our journey.18 In consequence of my being away from the encampment last sunday (the cause you will see in my next to Oliver)19 did not write to him as usual but shall now embrace the first opportunity to bring up my journal which you will find some what more interesting, than any previous to it—
I want you to make use of the money I send you in wisdom, for such things as you need, and make yourselves as comfortable and contented as you can and continue to pray to the Lord to hasten the day when we shall be permitted to behold each other’s face again and enjoy the blessing of the family circle in peace and in righteousness, and be prepared to meet every event that awaits us in life.
Tell the children to remember that passage of scripture which says, “children obey your parents in all things”,20 for this is right, and God will bless them. I [p. 58]


*Note 14. Let's take a moment and look at note 14 in the Joseph Smith Papers. This is a good example of how the editors try to accommodate M2C. The note deals with the story of Zelph.

You'll notice that Zelph appears nowhere in Saints, a completely predictable result of M2C-inspired censorship.

Note 14 reads:

On 3 June, the Camp of Israel passed through the vicinity of what is now Valley City, Illinois, where several members of the camp climbed a large mound. At the top, they uncovered the skeletal remains of an individual JS reportedly identified as Zelph, a “white Lamanite.” Archeologists have since identified the mound as Naples–Russell Mound #8 and have classified it as a Hopewell burial mound of the Middle Woodland period of the North American pre-Columbian era (roughly 50 BC to AD 250). (Godfrey, “The Zelph Story,” 31, 34; Farnsworth, “Lamanitish Arrows,” 25–48.)  

Comprehensive Works Cited

Faulring, Scott H. “Early Marriages Performed by the Latter-day Saint Elders in Jackson County, Missouri, 1832–1834.” Mormon Historical Studies 2 (Fall 2001): 197–210.Godfrey, Matthew C. “‘Seeking after Monarchal Power and Authority’: Joseph Smith and Leadership in the Church of Christ, 1831–1832.” Mormon Historical Studies 13 (Spring/Fall 2012): 15–37.

Farnsworth, Kenneth W. “Lamanitish Arrows and Eagles with Lead Eyes: Tales of the First Recorded Explorations in an Illinois Valley Hopewell Mound.” Illinois Archaeology 22 (2010): 25–48.

Notice all the errors in this note. The first paragraph cites Godfrey and Farnsworth, but in the "Comprehensive Works Cited," we see instead a reference to an irrelevant article by Scott Faulring and a jumbled reference to another irrelevant article. There is no reference to Godfrey's article.

IOW, readers cannot find Godfrey's article.

We might think this is just a "clerical error," but it could be the work of the mole. 

Here's why.

The Godfrey article is the M2C citation cartel's best effort to explain away the Zelph account. Because the note doesn't give the correct citation, readers will likely give up searching for it. This means they will have Joseph Smith's own teaching without the M2C spin.

Definitely a good outcome.

Great work, mole.

But, if readers search the Internet to find Godfrey's article, they may come across alternative interpretations of Zelph that support what Joseph taught instead of contradicting it the way Godfrey's article does. E.g., an article by Donald Q. Cannon titled "Zelph Revisited," which you can find here:

It's not a surprise that the Joseph Smith Papers would cite Brother Godfrey's article. At the time it was published, Brother Godfrey was the northern Utah area director of the LDS Church Education System, which means he was a follower of M2C.

The article was published by BYU Studies, meaning it complies with the M2C dogma that the Church History Department enforces.

The dead giveaway is note 5 in the article:

5. All primary documents are gratefully used here by permission of the Historical Department of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I also acknowledge the work of John W. Welch, Tim
Rathbone, John L. Sorenson, James Treadway, and Brenda Miles at F.A.R.M.S. in helping to prepare this article for publication, and I express gratitude to the Church Educational System for sponsoring my research on this project.

IOW, all the usual suspects were involved with this article. It's full M2C, sponsored by CES no less. Brother Welch is the Editor-in-Chief of BYU Studies and the Chairman of Book of Mormon Central Censor, and Brother Sorenson is the author of Mormon's Codex and other M2C books.

You can download the article here:

I have commented on Zelph several times, including here:

It's fun to see how Brother Godfrey's article does everything it can to support M2C. Here's the summary from the website:

When the twenty men who formed the vanguard of Zion's Camp left Kirtland, Ohio, on 1 May 1834, they could not know that one of their most lasting and intriguing contributions to Latter-day Saint history would take place, not on a Missouri battlefield but rather on top of a large mound in Illinois. There, on 3 June 1834, members of Zion's Camp located a few bones, including a broken femur and an arrowhead, approximately a foot below the earth's surface, and these remains became the catalyst for revelation to Joseph Smith regarding the skeleton's identity. Joseph called the land "the plains of the Nephites." They believed that the mounds had belonged to "that once beloved people," and they interpreted the mere fact that skulls and bones were readily found as evidence of the divine authenticity of the book.

Notice how the rhetoric undermines the credibility of what Joseph taught.
- Joseph called the land, instead of Joseph identified the land, as the plains of the Nephites.
- They believed the mounds belonged, instead of Joseph said the mounds belonged to the Nephites.
- They interpreted the mere fact instead of Joseph declared the bones were evidence of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

Here's a passage from the opening paragraph that shows the dilemma faced by the M2C intellectuals:

Subsequently, the information recorded by several of the camp's members would be used by historians, geographers, and other scholars as evidence that Book of Mormon events, especially those reported in its closing chapters, took place in the northeastern part of the United States. 3

This is obviously a problem for M2C. The foundation of M2C is the guiding principle that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah. The Zelph account affirms the New York Cumorah, so how do the M2C intellectuals handle Zelph?

Recall that the M2C intellectuals teach that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were wrong about the New York Cumorah because they were ignorant speculators who misled the Church by adopting a false tradition.

We've already looked at part of this passage, but in context look at how condescending Brother Godfrey's description is:

The ghostly mounds of former inhabitants, however, reminded Joseph and his camp that the land had once been occupied. As they went they naturally talked about the Book of Mormon. Joseph called the land "the plains of the Nephites." They believed that the mounds had belonged to "that once beloved people," and they interpreted the mere fact that skulls and bones were readily found as evidence of the divine authenticity of the book. Evidently they were most impressed by the evidence that a prior civilization had been destroyed from off the face of this land, for the Book of Mormon similarly reports the destruction of a large group of people on this continent. Simple confirmation of the fact that destructions had taken place was evidence enough for these adventurers that the Book of Mormon was true....

These records are generally consistent with one another but they leave a number of details in doubt. Who was Zelph? Was he a Nephite or a Lamanite? When did he die? What army was he in? As will be seen the answers to these questions cannot be given with certainty from the complex historical sources that resulted from this event.

This is a ridiculous approach, IMO. No historical account gives every detail. No one can describe in detail exactly what they did yesterday, even if we could remember ever detail for 24 hours. All historical accounts have gaps that leave open questions. There is no such thing as historical certainty, yet Brother Godfrey implies that the Zelph account is questionable because it falls short of his imaginary standard.

I won't get into the details here, but there are 7 accounts, including one from Wilford Woodruff. For many key events in Church history, Woodruff left the only account, thanks to his diligence in keeping a journal.

Brother Godfrey questions Woodruff's account here because it varies in some respects from the other six accounts.

What he doesn't say is that every word in Woodruff's journal could be questioned on this basis because no two people can record the same event identically.

When you read Woodruff's account, you see why Godfrey attacks its credibility.

while on our travels we visited many of the mounds which were flung up by the ancient inhabitants of this continent, probably by the Nephites & Lamanites. We visited one of those Mounds and several
of the brethren dug into it and took from it the bones of a man. Brother Joseph had a vission respecting the person he said he was a white Lamanite, the curse was taken from him or at least in part, he was killed in battle with an arrow, the arrow was found among his ribs, one of his thigh bones was broken, this was done by a stone flung from a sling in battle years before his death, his name was Zelph. Some of his bones were brought into the camp and the thigh bone which was broken was put into my waggon and I carried it to Missouri. Zelph was a large thick set man and a man of God, he was a warrior under the great prophet <Onandagus> that was known from the hill Cumorah <on East sea> to the Rocky mountains the above knowledge Joseph receieved in a vision

Archaeologists have verified that artifacts in this mound came from around North America (and none came from Central America).

IOW, Joseph learned by vision that Zelph (or Onandagus) was known from the hill Cumorah to the Rocky Mountains; i.e., Cumorah was in New York.

Recall that Joseph had this vision before he and Oliver wrote Letter VII, but after he and Oliver had entered Mormon's depository of Nephite records in the hill Cumorah.

The Zelph account completely destroys the claim that there are "two Cumorahs," unless you accept the claim of the M2C intellectuals that Joseph was simply wrong.

I've discussed Zelph before. You can search this blog for my comments, but here are a couple:



Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The inside mole working on Saints

Recently I pointed out the work of the mole at the Ensign, who managed to get an article by Elder Mark E. Petersen into the September Ensign. That was awesome work, albeit subtle, but at least it gives people who read carefully a chance to learn what the prophets have actually said about the New York Cumorah. Elder Petersen was the last Apostle to declare, in General Conference, that Cumorah is in New York. That was in 1978, 40 years ago.

Now I'm happy to report there's also a mole working on the Saints book.

We've seen how the authors and editors of Saints have deliberately censored and revised Church history to eliminate any mention of the New York Cumorah. They have written Saints to accommodate the M2C intellectuals who insist the prophets are wrong. Of course, that's an inexcusable tragedy, in my opinion as well as in the opinion of thousands of readers.

But there is a mole working from the inside to alert careful readers to what is going on. 

I don't know who the person is, but I'm very grateful for his/her work. (Hopefully this post doesn't case him/her any problems. Also, I hope the editors of Saints don't undo the work of the mole, so don't tell any of the editors about this post.)

I've written before about the disastrous version of the Mary Whitmer story in Saints. I infer there was an internal debate that went something like this:

Ensign illustration of "Moroni"
showing the plates to Mary
Editor 1: We need to include the Mary Whitmer story. Everyone loves the unofficial witness of the plates, especially because she's female. We'll even illustrate it in the Ensign. The question is, do we use the phony story that it was Moroni who showed her the plates, or do we stick with the authentic story that it was one of the three Nephites?

Editor 2 (the mole): Don't we want to keep the history accurate?

Editor 3: Yes, to a point. But we all realize the implications of the authentic story.

Editor 1: You mean, we don't want to get into the Three Nephites?

Editor 3: For sure, but even more important, we have to avoid the Cumorah problem. We've got Jack Welch and the other M2C scholars at BYU and CES breathing down our necks on this.

Editor 2 (the mole): How does Mary Whitmer involve Cumorah?

Editor 3: David said the messenger who showed the plates to his mother was the same one who took the Harmony plates to Cumorah.

Editor 1: The messenger that Joseph identified as one of the Nephites...

Mary Whitmer and "Moroni"
by Robert T. Pack
Editor 3: Exactly. That story has been banned by the Correlation Department. Jack censored it from Opening the Heavens and replaced it with the narrative that it was Moroni who carried the plates directly from Harmony to Fayette. The Church films on Harmony and Fayette censored the story.

Editor 2 (the mole): The films being shown in the Visitors Centers?

Editor 1: Yes. Book of Mormon Central even commissioned a painting to cement Jack's narrative about Moroni by imprinting it on the minds of Church members.

Editor 3: We have to play along.

Editor 2 (the mole): Wait a minute. You're saying we're going to deliberately insert a false story into Saints just to accommodate the M2C scholars?

Editor 1: We've been doing it all along. Why are you objecting now?

Editor 2 (the mole): Censoring the New York Cumorah is one thing, but using a false story is a step too far.

Editor 3: It's not a big deal. Look. It's mostly true. More importantly, the Correlation Department will never approve the actual history because of M2C, so why try?

Editor 2 (the mole): Maybe we should let the Brethren decide. Present them with the true account and the false one and let them...

Editor 3: Absolutely not. They've hired us to guide the Church about these things. They don't have time to micromanage this project.

Editor 1: Okay, done deal. We go with the phony Moroni story. Next issue?

Editor 2 (the mole), thinking: We'll see about this.

Fortunately for Latter-day Saints everywhere, the mole took matters into his/her own hands.

This is a thing of beauty worth checking out.

Go to Saints. Look at footnote 17 in Chapter 7.  Here it is in context:

Saints, Chapter 7, Kindle version
Saints, note 17

If you're reading an electronic version of Saints, click on the link. If you're reading a print version, you can click the link here:


It goes to this page in the Church History Library:

Here's where the mole did everyone in the world an enormous favor.

At first, you might think, why did they link to a handwritten document that is difficult to read? Certainly non-English speakers will get nothing out of this.

Plus, it's in cursive. Many young people can't read cursive.

This link is opaque to both groups. There are printed versions of this same account that are easy to read and translate, but Saints did not link to them.

At first, I thought this was an effort to obscure the original source. Or maybe it was just a mistaken link.

But now I think it's the work of the mole.

Here's why.

The image here is #44.

This page has nothing to do with the paragraph that cites it!

The actual page of the original document that relates to the paragraph about Mary and her hard work is image #46.

So why do we get a link to image #44?

I think the mole linked to image #44 so people could read the entire account.

IOW, people who go to the link start reading image #44 and realize there's nothing there about Mary Whitmer. Naturally, they keep reading.

When they read image #45, they get the actual history that the editors of Saints censored.

I also think the mole didn't link to a printed version because then his/her work would be too obvious. Whoever did the copy editing probably clicked on the link, saw it was a handwritten document, and figured it was all good. No need to read it to make sure it actually related to the paragraph that cited it.

The mole counted on this.

Below is the printed version of the handwritten document. The excerpt starts at the bottom of image #44 (the link from note 17) and ends with the top of image #47.

You see that image # 46 is the one Note 17 should link to, based on the content of the paragraph in Saints. But instead, the mole linked to #44 so careful readers will discover what is on image #45. 

When you read this, you see why the M2C intellectuals have worked so hard to censor this account. They don't want people to know about the New York Cumorah or the two sets of plates, and the editors of Saints are collaborating with them to make sure no one learns about this.

Also, notice how David's description of the messenger contradicts the description of Moroni that we have from Joseph and Oliver.

Plus, be sure to read at the end of this post how Joseph identified the messenger as one of the Nephites. Mary Whitmer herself said the messenger identified himself as "Brother Nephi." The Three Nephites were among the 12 disciples that Christ chose, one of whom was named Nephi.

Mary was telling the truth. Saints is not.

We can all be grateful to the mole!

Printed version:*

[Bottom of image #44]
When I was returning to Fayette with Joseph and Oliver, all of us riding in the wagon, Oliver and I on an old fashioned 
[image #45]
wooden spring seat and Joseph behind us, we were suddenly approached by a very pleasant, nice looking old man in a clear open place, who saluted us with 'Good morning, it is very warm,' at the same instant wiping his face or forehead with his hand. We returned the salutation and by a sign from Joseph I invited him to ride if he was going our way, but he said very pleasantly, 'No, I am going to Cumorah.' This was something new to me, I did not know what Cumorah meant, and as I looked enquiringly at Joseph, the old man instantly disappeared so that I did not see him again." 

Joseph F. Smith: "Did you notice his appearance?" 

David Whitmer: "I should think I did. He was, I should think, about 5 feet 9 or 10 inches and heavy set, about such a man as James Vancleave, there, but heavier. His face was as large. He was dressed in a suit of brown, woolen clothes; his hair and beard were white, about like Brother Pratt's, but his beard was not so heavy. I also remember that he had a sort of knapsack on his back, and something was in it which was shaped like a book. It was the messenger who had the plates. 

    "Soon after our arrival home, 
[image #46, the one note 17 should have linked to]
I saw something which led me to the belief that the plates were placed or concealed in my father's barn. I frankly asked Joseph if my supposition was right, and he told me it was. 

"Sometime after this my mother was going to milk the cows when she was met out near the barn by this same old man, (as I suppose from her description of him) who said to her `you have been very faithful and diligent in your labours but you are tried because of the increase of your toil, it is proper therefore that you should receive a witness, that your faith may be strengthened' and thereupon he showed her the plates. My Father and Mother had a large family of their own. The addition to it therefore of Joseph, Emma and Oliver very greatly increased the toil and anxiety of my mother and altho she had never complained she had sometimes felt that her labor was too much or at least she was beginning to feel so. This circumstance however completely removed all such feelings and nerved her up for her increased responsibilities." 

Orson Pratt: "Have you any idea when the records will be brought forth?" 

David Whitmer: "When we see things in the Spirit and by the power of God they seem to be right here present. The signs of the times indicate the near approach of the coming forth of the other plates, but when it will be, I cannot tell. 

[image #47]
The Three Nephites are at work among the lost tribes and elsewhere. John the Revelator is at work, and I believe the time will come suddenly, before we are prepared for it." 

David Whitmer related this account several times, as I've discussed before on this blog. On one occasion, he was interviewed by Edward Stevenson.

I obtained a copy of Stevenson's journal and here's what his entry says:
Page from Stevenson journal
"I wish to mention an Item of conversation with David Whitmer in regard to Seeing one of the Nephites, Zina Young, Desired me to ask about it. David Said, Oliver, & The Prophet, & I were riding in a wagon, & an aged man about 5 feet 10, heavey Set & on his back, an old fashioned Armey knapsack Straped over his Shoulders & Something Square in it, & he walked alongside of the Wagon & Wiped the Sweat off his face, Smileing very Pleasant David asked him to ride and he replied I am going across to the hill Cumorah. Soon after they Passed they felt Strangeley and Stoped, but could see nothing of him all around was clean and they asked the Lord about it. He Said that the Prophet Looked as White as a Sheet & Said that it was one of the Nephites & that he had the plates."**


Edward Stevenson was a general authority (one of the seven presidents of the Seventy). He was a well-known missionary (one of the MTC buildings is named after him). There's no reason to doubt the credibility of his interview with David Whitmer.

What I find fascinating is that Zina Young asked Stevenson to ask David Whitmer about seeing one of the Nephites. That was the focus of the interview, not the Cumorah question.

* You can google a phrase from the account and find lots of printed versions. One I like is here:
Just go to the page and in your browser, search for "suddenly approached."

**You can find printed versions of this account in these references, although not transcribed exactly: "Edward Stevenson Interview (1) 22-23 December 1877, Richmond, Missouri Diary of Edward Stevenson," LDS Church Archives, Lyndon W. Cook, ed., David Whitmer Interviews, 1993, p. 13; also Dan Vogel, ed., Early Mormon Documents, 2003, vol. v, p. 30.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Why Saints censors key history

I'm very enthusiastic about the renewed emphasis on Church history. Everyone is reading Saints, which is awesome.

But there is another aspect of the tragedy of Saints to consider.

Because the book censors all references to the New York Cumorah, it reinforces skepticism about Church history.

Think about this: a book titled "The Standard of Truth" deliberately censors a key teaching of the founding prophets, their contemporaries and their successors.

Fortunately, there is still plenty of time to correct this censorship in the digital editions, but that correction will not happen as long as M2C* prevails.

Imagine how much more powerful the book Saints would be if it educated the Latter-day Saints about these historical facts instead of censoring them.

Remember that the top two reasons Millennials give for leaving the Church are

- “I felt judged or misunderstood.”
- [tied for first] “I did not trust the Church leadership to tell the truth surrounding controversial or historical issues.”


Saints is making the problem even worse by reinforcing the perception that the Church doesn't tell the truth about its history.

As a result of the pervasive censorship about the New York Cumorah, critics of the Church know more about this problem than most members do. E.g., http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/cumorah.htm

Imagine what the youth of the Church (and investigators) think when they learn the truth about the New York Cumorah from critics instead of their CES/BYU teachers (and the missionaries).

Thanks to our M2C intellectuals, we have Visitors Centers, Institute and Seminary manuals, BYU/CES, and the Church History Department all teaching that Cumorah cannot be in New York. Instead, they tell people that there are "two Cumorahs." They say the "real Cumorah" is in Mexico, while the "hill in New York" was falsely named Cumorah by early Church members, thereby creating a false tradition that Joseph Smith passively adopted.

And now Saints solidifies M2C by censoring all references to the New York Cumorah.

The M2C promoters don't even tell students that the prophets and apostles have taught the New York Cumorah consistently for 180 years, including in General Conference. When a student finds out and asks about it, their BYU/CES teachers claim the prophets and apostles were wrong.

It's a double-whammy.

First, through their censorship of Letter VII and the New York Cumorah generally, the M2C intellectuals (and Saints) don't tell the truth about what prior Church leaders have taught, thereby reinforcing the main reason why Millennials leave the Church.

Second, the M2C intellectuals claim the prophets and apostles are wrong, which, if true, leads people to wonder why we have prophets and apostles in the first place. What can possibly be more destructive to faith than having BYU/CES teachers telling students the prophets and apostles are wrong?


Here is a table of examples of censorship in the first volume of Saints. There are more examples, and there will be more in the next three volumes, but this gives you an idea of the magnitude of the problem.

Treatment in Saints
Justification by M2C intellectuals
During his first visit to Joseph, Moroni “proceeded and gave a general account of the promises made to the fathers, and also gave a history of the aborigenes of this country… He said this history was written and deposited not far from that place” [meaning Joseph’s home].


Saints changed all references to “this country” and “this continent” to the generic term “the Americas” to accommodate M2C. 

None of the original documents used the term “the Americas” in connection with the Book of Mormon.
Oliver and Joseph were wrong. 

They either didn’t quote Moroni correctly, or when Moroni said “this country” he really meant Mesoamerica. 

Also, Moroni didn’t mean the record was written not far from Joseph’s home; it was actually written in Mesoamerica.
Moroni told Joseph the hill was named Cumorah even before Joseph got the plates.

Lucy Mack Smith described an event that occurred when Joseph was returning from Manchester in 1827, before he got the plates. He was late coming home, and his parents questioned him about where he was. He explained he’d had a sever chastisement and his father became angry, wanting to know who had harassed Joseph. Lucy reported Joseph’s response in a direct quotation.

“Stop, father, Stop.” said Joseph, “it was the angel of the Lord— as 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…”

Note: In the Joseph Smith Papers, this passage isn’t even indexed under “Cumorah” so readers can’t find it when they search for Cumorah.
Lucy Mack Smith was wrong. 

She must have been confused, or she conflated her account with the false tradition about the New York Cumorah started by Oliver Cowdery or someone else.
When David Whitmer was taking Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery from Harmony, PA, to Fayette, NY, he met a divine messenger who said he was taking the plates to Cumorah.

During the interview, Whitmer said he, Oliver and Joseph were riding in a wagon on the way to Fayette when a man appeared next to the wagon. "I invited him to ride if he was going our way. But he said very pleasantly, “No, I am going to Cumorah.’ This name was something new to me, I did not know what Cumorah meant. We all gazed at him and at each other, and as I looked round enquiringly of Joseph the old man instantly disappeared, so that I did not see him again....It was the messenger who had the plates, who had taken them from Joseph just prior to our starting from Harmony."

Millennial Star (Vol. 40, No. 49, Dec. 9, 1878, p. 769, online here, scroll down to Dec. 9 and open the first file) titled “Report of Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith.”

another example of censorship of this account is here:

This account was also censored in the recent Church films about Harmony and Fayette. 

It was also censored and even changed in the book Opening the Heavens, edited by brother John W. Welch, who is also Editor-in-Chief of BYU Studies and Chairman of Book of Mormon Central.

David Whitmer was wrong. 

Although he repeated this account multiple times with a lot of detail, David was either mistaken, confused, or conflated this account with the false tradition about the New York Cumorah.

This account was given in a formal and public report to the Quorum of the Twelve by two Apostles, but Church members today should not ever be told about it.
During the mission to the Lamanites, Oliver Cowdery explained that it was Moroni who named the hill in New York Cumorah.

"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 Parley P. Pratt, p. 57
By the way, Saints doesn't even quote the revelations that called Oliver, Parley and others (D&C 28, 30, 32) on the mission to the Lamanites. Instead, Saints substitutes "American Indians" for "Lamanites" in this passage: "The revelation then called Oliver to go nearly a thousand miles to the western edge of the United States to preach the restored gospel to American Indians, who were remnants of the house of Israel.... The Lord called Peter Whitmer, Jr., Ziba Peterson, and Parley Pratt to join Oliver on the mission to the west.

The Joseph Smith Papers goes so far as to use quotation marks to distance the intellectuals from the revelations: The link between the Book of Mormon peoples and the American Indians appears in connection with the mission of Oliver Cowdery and others to preach to the “Lamanites” in 1830–1831."


Parley P. Pratt was wrong. 

He either mis-remembered when he wrote his journal, or he was repeating the false tradition.

Speaking of the mission to the Lamanites, notice how Saints and the Joseph Smith Papers change the terminology of the revelations to American Indians instead of Lamanites

Why this change? The American Indians are genetically distinct from the Mayans, so the revelations contradict M2C.

President Cowdery explained it was a fact that the Hill Cumorah in New York is the same one Mormon described in Mormon 6:6. This account was published in the Messenger and Advocate, the Millennial Star, the Times and Seasons, the Prophet and the Gospel Reflector. Joseph had his scribes copy it into his own history, where we can read it today in the Joseph Smith Papers.

“At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed....

[Mormon], by divine appointment, abridged from those records, in his own style and language, a short account of the more important and prominent items, from the days of Lehi to his own time, after which he deposited, as he says, on the 529th page, all the records in this same hill, Cumorah and after gave his small record to his son Moroni, who, as appears from the same, finished, after witnessing the extinction of his people as a nation.

This hill, by the Jaredites, was called Ramah: by it, or around it pitched the famous army of Coriantumr their tents.

In this same spot, in full view from the top of this same hill, one may gaze with astonishment upon the ground which was twice covered with the dead and dying of our fellow men. Here may be seen where once sunk to nought the pride and strength of two mighty nations; and here may be contemplated, in solitude, while nothing but the faithful record of Mormon and Moroni is now extant to inform us of the fact...

In this vale lie commingled, in one mass of ruin the ashes of thousands, and in this vale was destined to consume the fair forms and vigerous systems of tens of thousands of the human race—blood mixed with blood, flesh with flesh, bones with bones and dust with dust!”

President Cowdery was wrong. He was elaborating on the false tradition.

Joseph Smith was wrong when he passively adopted this false tradition when he made sure this account was republished throughout the Church while he was alive.

Every apostle and prophet who has taught this was wrong.

No prophet or apostle has ever questioned or repudiated his predecessors’ teaching about the New York Cumorah.

Only the M2C intellectuals, who have been hired to guide the Church, know the truth; i.e., that the real Cumorah is in Mesoamerica.

* M2C is the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.