Friday, August 30, 2019

The De-correlation Department

I'm optimistic about the future. Things always get better.

That said, I think many of our intellectuals have been carried off to Babylon to promote their theories in a manner pleasing to the world (i.e., they agree with the critics), but I think that will prove temporary. Eventually they will return to the teachings of the prophets.

Maybe it will happen in the next 10 months.*

Or maybe the problems will have to get much worse first. We'll see. But I wanted my final pre-hiatus post to summarize one of the most serious problems we face.
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For some time now, I've documented specific examples of what I used to call revisionist Church historians creating false historical narratives and deleting certain events, terminology and teachings from the current narratives. We've looked at how the M2C citation cartel censors the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, etc.

The effort is coordinated across many departments and groups. I'm lumping them all together as the "De-Correlation Department."

The De-Correlation Department decides what information and teachings from Church history need to be featured, emphasized, and promoted, and what information and teachings need to be to suppressed, ignored, and rationalized away.

To the extent they engage in this activity, the M2C citation cartel is part of the De-Correlation Department. The revisionist Church historians are part of the De-Correlation Department. The creators of media, visitors center displays, lesson manuals, web pages, and the Gospel Topics Essays are part of the De-Correlation Department.

I posted the latest example to my Saintsreview blog, here:

https://saintsreview.blogspot.com/2019/08/rewriting-d-28-30-32.html

New readers here may be unaware of how effective the De-Correlation Department has been. For example, have you heard of Letter VII or the rest of the first published history of the Church, written by Oliver Cowdery?

Probably not, if you rely on the De-Correlation Department. See http://www.lettervii.com/.

During Joseph Smith's lifetime, he made sure that all the members had access to Letter VII and the other essays on Church history. Now you can read them in Joseph's own journal in the Joseph Smith Papers. Here is where Moroni told Joseph that the record was written and deposited not far from his house:

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1834-1836/69

These essays were published in the Gospel Reflector, the Times and Seasons, the Millennial Star, the Prophet, and the Improvement Era. But they have never been published in the Ensign. The rising generation will never heard about them.

Just as readers of Saints never learned about the New York Cumorah, the mission to the Lamanites, etc.

It would be wonderful if the De-Correlation Department decided to "re-correlate" these important teachings. But I suspect a lot more people will become confused about Church history and Book of Mormon historicity before the De-Correlation Department returns to the teachings of the prophets.

(My team may publish some of my legacy posts and previously unpublished posts while I'm gone.)

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* As many readers know, I've accepted an assignment outside the U.S. and won't be blogging for 10 months, although there are plenty of legacy blogs to recycle and nearly 150 I've written but never posted.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Peep stones - part 8 - "de-correlated information"

Most people today are naturally skeptical of any information that is carefully controlled ("correlated" is a euphemism for "controlled," "censored," etc.), whether it comes from government, from a politician, from a business, from an academic institution, or from a church. We all recognize that organizations are self-serving; they have to be. We get that.

That doesn't mean their information is false, of course. We are willing believe what they say, but we follow the adage, "Trust, but verify."

Some people, including critics and LDS intellectuals, apply that adage only to information provided by the Church. 

I apply it to the teachings of LDS intellectuals and find that in most cases, the teachings of the prophets make much more sense and are better supported by the evidence than the teachings of the intellectuals.

We have to give the intellectuals credit for being clever and persistent. The M2C citation cartel and the revisionist Church historians have been successful, in a sense.

Lately, we have a new tactic to consider. We are seeing a process of "de-correlation."
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The other day I mentioned the "Faith Crisis" study from 2013 that contributed to the development of the Gospel Topics Essays. Here is a summary found on page 13 of the study.

PRIMARY FACTORS DRIVING FAITH CRISIS 

Understanding the disruptive technology that facilitates Faith Crisis is valuable prior to analyzing this document’s specific Faith Crisis data. Our research team identified four primary factors that drive Faith Crisis: 

1) Unprecedented Access To Uncorrelated Information 

2) Continual Access to Uncorrelated Information 

3) Unprecedented Content Creation and Consumption 

4) The Mormon Moment 

Following a description of these factors, a Faith Crisis example is provided to illustrate the speed and ease in which many of our members are exposed to uncorrelated information that can trigger a Faith Crisis. 

We could spend an entire post just discussing those factors, but by now, six years after the report was submitted, these factors seem self-evident. Everyone knows what "uncorrelated information" is and where you can find it.

But in a strange twist, today "uncorrelated information" includes some of the basic teachings of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery!

I call this "de-correlated information."

One example of "de-correlated information" is the Wentworth letter. Many readers here will find this unbelievable, but it's true.

Joseph Smith wrote the Wentworth letter in 1842 to summarize the origins of the Church, the Book of Mormon, etc. The letter contains the 13 Articles of Faith. Joseph asked Mr. Wentworth to publish it complete. But Joseph didn't need to worry about Mr. Wentworth. He needed to worry about the Correlation Department.

The Correlation Department censored part of the Wentworth letter in the lesson manual, Teachings of the Prophets: Joseph Smith, discussed here:

http://www.bookofmormoncentralamerica.com/2017/07/editing-wentworth-letter.html

Of course, the censorship was driven by the desire to accommodate M2C. That was the same rational the Church History Department used to "de-correlate information" about the New York Cumorah from Saints, Volume 1, discussed here:

https://saintsreview.blogspot.com/2018/10/the-historians-explain-censorship-in.html

It's astonishing that the well-known New York Cumorah and important parts of the Wentworth letter are "uncorrelated information" today, but that's the reality.

A third category of "de-correlated information" today is what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery taught about the translation of the Book of Mormon.
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The term "disruptive technology" in the Faith Crisis study is borrowed from Clayton Christensen's book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, which the study discusses on p. 12, including the following excerpt: 

Although the Church is—in many defining ways—clearly differentiated from a business, it also has numerous parallels to a large, well-run corporation. While this provides the membership (and the world) many needed benefits, it also results in a Church structure that is slow to change. 

For the first time in our history, the Church can no longer control its own message—and, therefore, its own narrative—to its membership. For a religion focused so heavily on its history, the uncorrelated presentation of Church history via the Internet and social media are proving to be a “disruption”for today’s Church. 

Considering the parallels the institutional Church has with a highly structured and efficient business organization (which comes with inherent resistance to change) combined with the disruption caused by an uncorrelated history on the Internet and Social Media, our Faith Crisis research team believes the long-term health and vitality of the institutional Church are at risk. Immediate, bold, and innovative action is needed to address the threat posed by Faith Crisis. [emphasis added]

The Gospel Topics Essays were one example of this "bold and innovative action."
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I suppose everyone agrees that it was important for the Church to provide reference pages for members to consult when they encounter "uncorrelated information" on the Internet or from friends and family. The challenge is deciding what such reference pages should contain.

In retrospect, it seems obvious that these essays have caused many people to lose their faith.

IOW, the Gospel Topics essays have contributed to the "faith crisis." 

Was it because of the "uncorrelated information" the essays contained, or was it because of the approach and framing used in the essays to "de-correlate" the teachings of the prophets?

What do you think?

Most of us who are faithful, believing Latter-day Saints have long known about all the "uncorrelated information" that exists. It strikes me as incredibly naive for the scholars who wrote this study to say "for the first time in our history, the Church can no longer control its own message." Did they never hear of Mormonism Unvailed, published in 1834?

Long before the Internet, you would have to be living in a cave to be unaware of anti-Mormon arguments and information. Much of Church-related literature (not to mention General Conference addresses) involved responses to critics.

This is why I say,

The Internet is not the problem.* 

The problem is the way LDS intellectuals have embraced the arguments of the critics and rejected the teachings of the prophets, and then used the Academic Cycle so that their theories have permeated LDS culture.
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It's very simple.

The table below sets out two scenarios, A and B.

For about 150 years, Church leaders taught Scenario A, with full knowledge of all the information behind Scenario B (which had been set out in the 1834 book Mormonism Unvailed and promoted by critics ever since). In the 1980s, though, Scenario B began to be taught by LDS intellectuals.

Now the information that supports Scenario A has been largely "de-correlated" in favor of the information that supports scenario B. Scenario B is being taught throughout the Church in preference to scenario A, as exemplified by the Gospel Topics Essay.

Which scenario is more believable, A or B?

A. What Joseph and Oliver taught
B. What others taught
Joseph Smith translated the characters on the plates using the Nephite interpreters that had been prepared for that purpose and placed with the plates in the stone box. 

Joseph Smith didn't use the plates or the Nephite interpreters but instead read words that appeared on a stone he found in a well, which he placed into a hat to block the light. He didn't use the plates, which were under a cloth or outside the entire time.
Moroni said the record had been "written and deposited not far from" Joseph's home in Palmyra and that in was Joseph’s privilege, if obedient, “to obtain and translate the same by the means of the Urim and Thummim, which were deposited for that purpose with the record.”

Moroni never said what Joseph and Oliver claimed he said. This statement was Oliver speculating and Joseph accepting that speculation.
The record was actually written in Mesoamerica, thousands of miles away from Joseph’s home in Palmyra. Joseph did obtain the record but he didn’t translate it with the Urim and Thummim that were deposited with the record.
For 1,000 years, Nephite prophets had carefully written and preserved their history. Jaredite prophets had kept their record before that. Mormon abridged the Nephite history and gave the abridgment to Moroni, who added the Jaredite abridgment and his own writings.

For 1,000 years, Nephite prophets had carefully written and preserved their history. Jaredite prophets had kept their record before that. Mormon abridged the Nephite history and gave the abridgment to Moroni, who added the Jaredite abridgment and his own writings.

They did all of this so the future prophet could translate their engravings into English.
They did all of this so the future prophet could use the plates as a talisman while he read words off the stone he found in a well.
Moroni deposited the abridged record in the hill Cumorah near Joseph's home.
Moroni hauled the plates, along with the sword of Laban, the Liahona, and the breastplate and Nephite interpreters, thousands of miles from Central America to an obscure, nameless hill in western New York.
Joseph showed the plates he had translated to the witnesses as proof that he actually translated ancient engravings. 
Joseph showed the plates he never used to the witnesses as proof that what he read off the stone in a hat was true. 

Scenario A
This is where the framing is so important.

We all recognize that there is historical data to support both scenarios. But the historical information also shows that these were alternative scenarios, not different ways of saying the same thing.**

Today, our intellectuals (mainly the M2C citation cartel and the revisionist historians) are trying to persuade people to replace Scenario A with Scenario B.




The youth in the Church, as well as the world at large, are being taught Scenario B. Thanks to "de-correlation" of the New York Cumorah and the Urim and Thummim, younger generations will never even learn scenario A.
Scenario B

Long experience has shown that those who accepted scenario B tended to be critics from outside the Church. That seems natural to me; scenario B is simply unbelievable. Plus, it has the added feature of casting doubt on the teachings of the prophets, starting with Joseph and Oliver.

Do I have to spell out where all of this is headed?

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The Gospel Topics Essay on Book of Mormon Translation is a fascinating document. People ask about it all the time. I have an entire chapter on it in my upcoming book.

Two features of the Gospel Topics Essays stand out:

1. These essays are all anonymous.

2. They are subject to change without notice and without an edit record so readers can see what was changed and when.)

The most striking thing about the translation essay is the absence of what Joseph and Oliver claimed. Their teachings have been largely "de-correlated."

Look at this paragraph:

Latter-day Saints later understood the term “Urim and Thummim” to refer exclusively to the interpreters. Joseph Smith and others, however, seem to have understood the term more as a descriptive category of instruments for obtaining divine revelations and less as the name of a specific instrument.

"Latter-day Saints later understood?" From the outset, Joseph and Oliver consistently described the Urim and Thummim as the Nephite interpreters that came with the plates. They never once referred to any seer stone Joseph found in a well.

Instead, they consistently and persistently said Joseph translated with the specific Urim and Thummim.

But this is now "de-correlated information."

Consider this: the Gospel Topics Essay on Translation cites Joseph Smith—History exactly once!

And it cites verses 33–34 (see note 3).

Any guess what is found in verse 35?

Yep. the "de-correlated" verse 35 explains Scenario A and contradicts Scenario B.

35 Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted “seers” in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.

This verse is never quoted in the essay. One would think that in a Gospel Topics Essay on Translation, published on the Church's website, we would see Joseph Smith-History not only cited in a footnote, but quoted prominently.

But we don't.

Here are some more verses that were "de-correlated" (censored) from the essay. Each of these is highly relevant to the question of translation and making sense of all the evidence.

42 Again, he told me, that when I got those plates of which he had spoken—for the time that they should be obtained was not yet fulfilled—I should not show them to any person; neither the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim; only to those to whom I should be commanded to show them; if I did I should be destroyed.

52 Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger.

62 By this timely aid was I enabled to reach the place of my destination in Pennsylvania; and immediately after my arrival there I commenced copying the characters off the plates. I copied a considerable number of them, and by means of the Urim and Thummim I translated some of them, which I did between the time I arrived at the house of my wife’s father, in the month of December, and the February following.

Oliver Cowdery describes these events thus: “These were days never to be forgotten—to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, ‘Interpreters,’ the history or record called ‘The Book of Mormon.

Why do you think the essay de-correlates these verses from the Pearl of Great Price? Why do you think the essay fails to quote or even cite any of the teachings of the prophets that support Scenario A?

Why do you think the essay instead quotes extensively from Emma Smith's "Last Testimony" and from various writings of the intellectuals who are pushing Scenario B?
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Here's another example. The Elders' Journal published this Q&A.

Question 4th. How, and where did you obtain the book of Mormon?

Answer. Moroni, the person who deposited the plates, from whence the book of Mormon was translated, in a hill in Manchester, Ontario County New York, being dead; and raised again therefrom, appeared unto me, and told me where they were; and gave me directions how to obtain them. I obtained them, and the Urim and Thummim with them; by the means of which, I translated the plates; and thus came the book of Mormon.

(Joseph Smith, Elders’ Journal 1 (July 1838): 42-43, The Joseph Smith Papers,
https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/elders-journal-july-1838/10

The essay doesn't provide this quotation, or even a reference to it, but it does cite the Elders' Journal on the topic of treasure seeking (note 19).

Joseph's statement here has been "de-correlated."

I could go on, but you can do your own research and see what's going on here.
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Let's summarize.

The Internet is not the problem.

"Uncorrelated information" is not the problem.

The problem is "de-correlated information" and the promotion of the theories of intellectuals instead of the teachings of the prophets.

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*If the "Faith Crisis" study is correct--if the Internet has had this dramatic impact--there must have been a lot of Church members who, prior to the Internet, never considered religious material outside of what the Church and its affiliates produced.

How can such an attitude constitute a search for truth?

Come to think of it, I encounter such Church members even today. They typically believe M2C and have no idea what the prophets have taught because M2C intellectuals carefully control and correlate their materials, censoring information that contradicts M2C.

Eventually, though, most people discover "uncorrelated information" on their own, including the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah and the translation of the Book of Mormon.

** The obvious explanation for the two scenarios is that Joseph and Oliver described the translation, while the others described demonstrations of the technique. Joseph couldn't show anyone the plates or the Urim and Thummim, but to satisfy curiosity, he used the stone in a hat to convey the concept. People inferred they were watching the actual translation.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Babylon and M2C

The Church is awesome.

Social scientists, psychologists, and everyday experience all tell us how important it is to have close social connections. The Church, through the system of wards and stakes, provides that.

People around the world seek solutions to economic inequality, poverty, ignorance, etc. The Church provides that (although we don't implement it as fully as we know we should).

Everyone has problems in their lives, makes mistakes, etc. The Atonement of Jesus Christ has answers.

Zion, the pure in heart
Really, everything necessary for a healthy, productive society of happy people living in peace is available freely to everyone in the world through the gospel and the organization of the Church, which has set up systems that assist individuals to bring about such an amazing society, which we call Zion.

As the scriptures describe it, And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift... and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.

And yet, few people in the world today know about it, and most those who do know about it don't accept or implement it.

There are lots of reasons why; everyone who thinks about this topic has opinions. But when you look at it from a broad perspective, how would the adversary best prevent people from learning about and accepting these ideals and systems that could, if implemented, bring about the ideal society that everyone wants and is looking for?

One effective way would be to focus attention on the origins of the Church in such as way as to cause people to become confused and disturbed in their faith. Another would be to cast doubt on the teachings of the early prophets to make it easier for people to reject all the prophets.

IOW, the message gets obscured by the teachings of some of our LDS intellectuals, which have permeated Church culture through the Academic cycle.
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I've mentioned before that there seems to have been a tipping point around 1980 when the theories of the intellectuals overtook the plain and simple teachings of the prophets on a few core issues that have now become obstacles to faith. There is a metaphorical precedent for this.

The Jewish captivity in Babylon is a type or shadow of what we're seeing unfold today with M2C, stone-in-a-hat, and related issues.

Tissot - the Flight of the Prisoners
In 597 BC, wheNebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, he ordered Jehoiachin, the king, "and the elite citizens of Judah" deported to Babylon. 

2 Kings 24:14 And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land.

15 And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king’s mother, and the king’s wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.

16 And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths a thousand, all that were strong and apt for war, even them the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon.

Why did Nebuchadnezzar remove the elites only? He could have just killed them; after all, hauling off 10,000 captives is no easy task, and then he had to keep them alive and under control. The poorer people, less educated and less politically active, presumably would have made easier captives and better workers.

But if you're going to conquer a nation, you want to control their intellectuals. You can turn their talents for your own purposes.
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Babylon has been used as a symbol for lots of different things, both in the scriptures and in various commentaries. According to the Bible Dictionary, "In D&C 1:16, Babylon means 'the world.'"

For today's post, I'm using Babylon as a type or symbol for adopting worldly values, such as preferring intellectuals over prophets.

There are very simple, straightforward debates in the Church today over several issues; this blog focuses on just a few. By now, readers here know that M2C is a hoax that repudiates the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah and that the stone-in-a-hat narrative is an explicit repudiation of what Joseph and Oliver consistently and persistently taught.

These and other issues create obstacles and barriers to belief. They are "friendly fire" that, as Joseph Fielding Smith warned nearly 100 years ago, cause people to become confused and disturbed in their faith.

It's true that many faithful members of the Church believe these things, and that's fine. A few weeks ago when I sat in the audience during part of the FairMormon conference, the few hundred people in attendance were surely true believers. They applauded the M2C presentations. They were thrilled at how ScripturePlus will usurp the neutral Gospel Library and indoctrinate users to believe M2C. They were excited by the advertising campaign underway by Book of Mormon Central, promoting M2C throughout the world.

There's always a lot of energy when people are having their biases confirmed. And, as I've always said, I have no problem with them believing what they believe. 

But they live in a bubble and they don't seem to realize that thousands of Church members, as well as most of the world's population, don't live in that bubble. We see M2C as a the hoax. It seems obvious to us (even to those such as me who believed if for many years because we didn't have all the facts). So while these theories work for some people, M2C, the stone-in-a-hat, and other issues make it even more difficult for people outside these bubbles to take the gospel seriously.

Yes, I realize the M2C scholars keep referring to credentials and expertise, but as we've seen before on this blog, they're merely confirming their biases. No matter what actual archaeologists discover in Mesoamerica, the M2C intellectuals adjust their interpretations of the Book of Mormon to match. The origins of M2C and the methodology used to perpetuate it both expose it as a hoax.

(BTW, I stopped pointing out the logical fallacies of M2C because I don't want people to use this as an excuse to disbelieve the Book of Mormon, and because I trust people to reach their own informed decisions. Anyone who reads Mormon's Codex with an open mind can spot the logical fallacies in the opening chapters. You don't even have to read the parts in which Brother Sorenson openly ridicules those who still believe the prophets.)
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The Babylon metaphor is ultimately hopeful. The people did eventually return and rebuild Jerusalem. They returned to their roots.

I'm hopeful that in the near future, our LDS intellectuals will also return to their roots. I hope the day comes when they embrace, instead of repudiate, Letter VII and the teachings of Joseph and Oliver about the translation.

But if not, no one has to follow the intellectuals.
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Choosing M2C over the teachings of the prophets is like the choice the dog makes in this video from Twitter.






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“The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight; we are the favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day glory”

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2008/10/come-to-zion?lang=eng



Monday, August 26, 2019

The M2C gauntlet

I keep hearing that M2C intellectuals such as Dan "the Interpreter" and their followers are reading this blog. There are anonymous trolls who purport to criticize what we say here, etc.

It's easy to see why. Here, we discuss issues that they censor and oppose. They want us to go away. But this blog is for people who value informed decisions. It's for people who still believe the teachings of the prophets (despite the expiration date assigned by the M2C intellectuals).

These categories do not include the M2C intellectuals, their employees and followers. They can't engage in a rational, calm discussion because that would require an exchange of views and information, something M2C will not tolerate.
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Once upon a time, there was a Gospel Topics Essay on Book of Mormon Geography. Among other things, it said that "the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles urge leaders and members not to advocate those personal theories in any setting or manner that would imply either prophetic or Church support for those theories."

But our M2C citation cartel freely and openly defies this policy, just as freely and openly as they defy the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

"Scriptures Plus" M2C indoctrination video
A dramatic case in point was the FairMormon conference earlier this month. Two of our favorite M2C citation cartel members, Book of Mormon Central and FairMormon, announced new initiatives to promote M2C throughout the Church and to the world generally.

They're going to push M2C onto Church members everywhere, starting with English speakers, then Spanish, and eventually everyone.
Mormon exiting the real Hill Cumorah in Mesoamerica

So much for so-called neutrality.

To be clear, I'm fine with people believing whatever they want. I have no problem with people believing M2C. Differences of opinion and beliefs are part of the human condition. We enjoy them, actually.

The difference here is that Book of Mormon Central and FairMormon now overtly and proudly claim Church support for their M2C theory of Book of Mormon geography.
Moroni writing the Title Page in fantasy Maya land

They introduced "ScripturePlus," a "free" app that will imprint M2C on every member of the Church who uses it. It includes M2C videos and commentary including the images in this post.

Here's the link:
http://www.scriptureplus.org/home

One wonders, scripture plus what?

It's a digital form of the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.

ScripturePlus is designed to entice Church members away from the Church's relatively neutral Gospel Library and immerse them in a carefully designed indoctrination program. Hence, it's not "free" in any non-monetary sense of the world. It is as tightly controlled as any totalitarian media we can think of, and it forces uses to think only one way about important issues.

Fantasy map taught to the youth of the Church

It's "free" only in the monetary sense, but it extracts a huge fee in terms of your ability to think for yourself and learn about the teachings of the prophets.

It's yet another manifestation of what I call the M2C gauntlet.

These are all beautiful images, certainly. But they directly violate the Church's announced policy on Book of Mormon geography because they are presented in a setting that implies Church support.

Worse, these images teach the same thing that the BYU fantasy map teaches; i.e., that the best way to understand the Book of Mormon is in a fantasy world.
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Put yourself in the position of a youth in the Church, or an investigator.

You open your ScripturePlus app. You click on an illustration or video and watch these fantasy images that reinforce the fantasy map you've learned in seminary, institute, or BYU.

When you eventually learn that all of these contradict the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, what are you going to conclude?
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IOW, our M2C intellectuals, their employees and followers, are preparing to force other Church members through the M2C gauntlet.

Book of Mormon Central forms one column of the gauntlet. The other consists of FairMormon, Dan "the Interpreter," and various key intellectuals.

If you announce you agree with M2C, you can stroll right through. But if you still believe the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah and the Urim and Thummim, they're going to give you a solid thrashing until you either succumb or escape to a place where you can accept the teachings of the prophets in safety.

And we wonder why people are having the well-publicized "faith crises" everywhere.

Informed decisions: why not?

There is a lot of talk lately about a "faith crisis," both within the Church and in society as a whole. Here's a graphic depicting a recent values survey by the WSJ.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/americans-have-shifted-dramatically-on-what-values-matter-most-11566738001

People propose lots of ideas about why younger generations think differently. Everyone has his/her own theory, experience, anecdotes, etc., but there is a general consensus that young people don't like being told what to think. This leads them to truly hate censorship and being lied to.

They want to make up their own minds. They want to make informed decisions.

I do, too. Most people do, or at least claim they want to.

For decades, I delegated my inquiries about Book of Mormon historicity and Church history to LDS scholars. I thought they had evaluated all the relevant evidence and reached solid conclusions. I accepted M2C on that basis. I was busy with my career, family, etc. We can't research everything.

But eventually, problems with M2C led me to seek more information. I discovered I had been misled by these LDS scholars, who had suppressed important information (and continue to do so). I sought information from a variety of sources to make informed decisions. That's what led me to reject M2C after 30 years of relying on these influential LDS scholars.

I suspect that many people, once they discover the ongoing censorship from M2C intellectuals, become disillusioned and don't look further. That's an understandable reaction. It is the approach taken by the M2C citation cartel that is inexcusable.
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I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. I believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by true Prophets and Apostles. I believe the Book of Mormon is the word of God and relates an authentic history.

The entire world deserves to know about these things. People everywhere deserve the opportunity to make informed decisions about the claims of the Church.

And so do the members.

This is why I object to the ongoing practice of so many LDS intellectuals to portray their own opinions at the only truth. They are especially arrogant and unjustified to teach people to repudiate the teachings of the prophets just because they disagree with them or think they've expired.

Obviously, they're free to believe whatever they want. They're free to teach whatever they want. But IMO they have a duty to provide their students, followers, and employees with all the facts so people can make informed decisions.

The specific examples we focus on in this blog are M2C and the peep stone-in-a-hat theories. This week we'll look in more depth on how those ideas have been promoted and will be promoted like never before in the next few months.

All I've ever asked of these intellectuals is to allow members to learn about all the facts so they can make their own informed decisions. Side-by-side comparisons are especially helpful, but the M2C intellectuals and revisionist Church historians refuse to allow that.

No one expects everyone to agree about specific interpretations, and we don't have to. We can all build Zion together even when we disagree about specific issues that, really, are peripheral to the larger effort to build Zion. We have far, far more in common than our differences, etc.

But we should all be able to agree that full disclosure is the only way people can make informed decisions that endure.

Instead, we have an M2C citation cartel that censors everything except M2C. We have revisionist Church historians who have embraced the peep stone-in-a-hat narrative and impose it on everyone else.

Members of the Church, as well as people everywhere, deserve to know that there are still many members who believe the teachings of the prophets, starting with Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, regarding such basic ideas as the New York Cumorah and the translation of the plates. These aren't crazy "fundamentalists" as some LDS intellectuals claim (such as one of the speakers at the recent FairMormon conference), but these are rational, faithful, spiritual people who are well informed and have made decisions based on all the facts.
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There's a highly ironic article in Meridian Magazine, a member of the M2C citation cartel.

https://latterdaysaintmag.com/dealing-with-friendly-fire-on-the-book-of-abraham/

Jeff Lindsay makes some good points in the article. What he wrote here about the Book of Abraham also applies to M2C, but he seems oblivious to that because he is an influential proponent of M2C.

There are many times when the proclamations of scholars clash with religious belief. Sometimes good scholarship leads the way to revising old misunderstandings, and other times when questionable scholarship undermines faith improperly. In this case, there may be some unfortunate biases that have influenced the work and teachings of two prominent scholars. Their particular perspectives should not be viewed as definitive or endorsed by the Church. It’s possible for since [sincere] and devout members of the Church to hold their particular viewpoints, but it’s important for members to recognize the gaps in their work in order to leave room for other possibilities.
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I just read a review of a book titled Disenchanted Lives: Apostasy and Ex-Mormonism among the Latter-day Saints
Author: E. Marshall Brooks
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Genre: Sociology, Psychology, Religion
Year Published: 2018
Number of Pages: 245
Binding: Paper or hardback
ISBN10:   0813592186
ISBN13:  9780813592183 (paper)
Price: $34.95 (paper) $70.30 (hardback)

(If you're not on Mormon-Library@yahoogroups.com, you should be.)

The review mentioned something important so I'll quote it here:

It is interesting that Brooks' conclusions corroborate a highly confidential report put together by an anonymous group of Mormon scholars in 2013 for the General Authorities titled "LDS Personal Faith Crisis." Although that report is not generally available, I was able to obtain a copy, and the similarities with Brooks' conclusions are 
striking. A lengthy summary of that report may be found here: 
https://www.ldsdiscussions.com/blog-faith-crisis-report#


Since the General Authorities have not chosen to make that report available even to members, this book by Brooks may serve as a more accessible answer to those Mormons and non-Mormons who ask why a devout Mormon would leave the church.

http://associationmormonletters.org/blog/brooks-disenchanted-lives-apostasy-and-ex-mormonism-among-the-latter-day-saints-reviewed-by-richard-packham/


I also have a copy of the "LDS Personal Faith Crisis" study, which was a factor in the development of the Gospel Topics essays. It includes about 40 pages of case studies that are similar to the personal experiences people write to me about all the time.

I think it's apparent to everyone by now that the Gospel Topics Essays have, by and large, failed to fortify faith. Instead, they have caused many people to lose their faith. IMO, the primary reason is not because they're "revealing" anything new, but because of their equivocal approach to the issues.

We'll discuss that more later this week.   

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Peep Stones in federal court - Part 7

Apparently Dan "the Interpreter" keeps mentioning me on his blog, by name, which is his typical ad hominem approach to things dating back to the FARMS days. It does have the effect of bringing more attention to these issues, at least. Twitter's even getting into it.

Separately, I'm told that Education Week speakers focused on the stone-in-a-hat narrative and M2C. We saw M2C being pushed big time at the FairMormon conference, which we'll discuss next week.

So let's get real.

It's time we had this conversation as members of the Church everywhere, not just between a few thin-skinned academics and a handful of faithful critics of their work.
_____

What the M2C citation cartel and revisionist historians are doing has real-world consequences.

Previously I mentioned a federal lawsuit. It's a public record, so anyone can read it. I'm not going to discuss the merits of the lawsuit, its chances for surviving a motion to dismiss, etc., but it's important to look at the claims see how they line up with what these M2C intellectuals and revisionist historians are teaching.

Setting aside the litigation, what is expressed in the claims is a common reaction among Church members to the revisionist history we're reading everywhere now.

Had our intellectuals stuck with the teachings of the prophets, starting with Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, a lawsuit such as this would never have been filed. Nor would CES Letter, the Tanners, and other detractors have much influence.

But because these intellectuals have persuaded people that Joseph and Oliver were wrong, artwork and articles have been published to support M2C and the stone-in-a-hat narrative. As a result, people throughout the Church are becoming confused and disturbed in their faith, just as Joseph Fielding Smith warned and as this lawsuit describes.

For today's post, I'm focusing only on section ii. The Origin of the Book of Mormon.

Notice how it starts with claim 76:

The orthodox yet false narrative tells that Smith translated what became the Book of Mormon
directly from gold plates which had been inscribed in reformed Egyptian by ancient
Americans with Hebraic DNA.

"The orthodox yet false narrative?"

That sounds outrageous to many Church members, but it is exactly what our M2C intellectuals and revisionist historians are teaching our youth (and the world as a whole). They claim Joseph didn't even use the plates and that he didn't even translate them anyway, that the New York Cumorah was a false tradition, etc.

Notice how this section ends with claim 91:

Whether using spectacles, or not, translating from the ancient writings of American prophets engraved on gold plates is a radically different method of creating the Book of Mormon than dictating the manuscript while looking at a stone with one’s head in hat.

That claim seems self-evident to me; it's the difference between translating (as Joseph said) and transmitting from a supernatural teleprompter (as our intellectuals teach today).

If you take the time to go through the claims of this lawsuit, you will see that, for the most part, it contrasts the teachings of the prophets against the teachings of today's LDS intellectuals.

The problem: Some members of the Church still believe the prophets instead of the intellectuals. But the intellectuals have persuaded many members of the Church, apparently including the plaintiff in this lawsuit, that the prophets were wrong.

These intellectuals (including a speaker at the FairMormon conference) even refer to those of us who still believe the teachings of the prophets as "fundamentalists," a term they consider pejorative.  

It's a travesty, and, to paraphrase Dan the Interpreter, it has to stop.

Well, it never should have started in the first place. And now maybe it's too late to stop. These intellectuals have imprinted M2C and the stone-in-the-hat so effectively that many members of the Church now believe both theories.

Especially the younger generation.

Which we'll discuss in an upcoming post when we take another look at the Gospel Topics essays.
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Here's the link to the lawsuit, followed by the relevant claims.

https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Mormons.pdf

































































































































































The end.


Friday, August 23, 2019

Peep stones-FairMormon makes things worse-part 6

We love everyone at FairMormon, Book of Mormon Central, BYU Studies, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, etc. We appreciate the good work they do in many fields. They're awesome people, faithful Church members, have good intentions, etc.

But when it comes to a few issues, they're making a hash of things, such as what they're doing with the peep stone and the New York Cumorah.

We all know how they collectively and individually have repudiated the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

On my other blog, I posted a short note on a related gem from Dan "the Interpreter."
https://interpreterpeerreviews.blogspot.com/2019/08/dan-interpreter-says-we-shouldnt.html

Wait until next week when we'll look at even more specifics.

And yes, I know the M2C scholars and their employees and followers keep saying they prefer the living prophets over the dead prophets, but can someone please inform them that the living prophets are silent on the issue, leaving the consistent, persistent teachings of the "dead prophets" in force?
When do the teachings of the prophets expire?

Do the teachings of the prophets have an expiration date? How long is it?

As soon as our M2C intellectuals tell us the expiration date of the teachings of the prophets, we can throw out all kinds of things. There are lots of teachings, scriptures, etc. that haven't been reiterated in General Conference in x number of years.

Once the scholars let us know what the expiration date is, we can jettison everything prior to that.

(Some of them have told me the expiration date is 30 years, but they haven't published that yet, so far as I know.)

Of course, this is an impossible standard. Church leaders cannot reiterate every teaching every conference. Instead, the tell us to study the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets and apostles.
_____

The latest development is the recent FairMormon conference. The leader of FairMormon gave a fine presentation, which you can read here:

https://www.fairmormon.org/conference/august-2019/ces-letter-proof-or-propaganda

He focused on the first few claims of the CES Letter. Overall, he did a nice job. We all know that the CES Letter is one of the biggest challenges for Church members and investigators, especially English-speaking people who consult the Internet for everything.

(CES Letter has been translated into other languages, but not all that well, and many of the sources cited aren't available except in English anyway.)

He made one comment I'd like to focus on.

"The CES Letter is an attempt to create an alternate narrative for the truth claims of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

When I read that, I thought, isn't that exactly what FairMormon, Book of Mormon Central, and the rest of the M2C citation cartel are? 

They are all attempts to create an alternate narrative for the truth claims about the New York Cumorah, the translation of the Book of Mormon, and other issues.

Was it a Freudian slip?

Maybe.

Because it turns out, FairMormon and Book of Mormon Central have embraced the alternate narrative promoted by CES Letter.
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Sometime I'll discuss the FairMormon approach to the language of the Book of Mormon, but because this post is part of a series, let's look at the peep stone-in-a-hat problem.

CES Letter made a big deal about this, claiming the Church had not provided "a clear source in educating members on how the Book of Mormon was actually translated."

By "actually translated," CES Letter means the peep stone-in-a-hat narrative.

So how did FairMormon respond? 

BY COMPLETELY AGREEING WITH CES LETTER!

You can see this graphically on the CES Letter web page.

https://cesletter.org/debunking-fairmormon/book-of-mormon-translation.html#1

I'm still waiting for someone to explain how replacing the clear, consistent and persistent teachings of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery with the teachings of William McLellin and other critics is a good idea.

Well, I know how it's a good idea for CES Letter and other modern detractors. The peep stone-in-a-hat works just as well today as it did for McLellin and other detractors starting back in the 1830s.

It's yet another hurdle for youth, investigators, and even long-term members to jump to gain or retain faith.

There could be no worse response to these critics than to say, as FairMormon does, "You're right. All the prophets were wrong. Instead, the people who watched a demonstration and later claimed they witnessed the translation were correct. Joseph and Oliver misled the Church, as did all the leaders who reaffirmed what they taught."

Here's the solid response FairMormon should use: "CES Letter, you're misleading your readers. True, some people observed a demonstration and inferred they witnessed the translation, but Joseph and Oliver specifically and clearly testified throughout their lives that Joseph translated the engravings on the plates with the Urim and Thummim that came with the plates."
_____

The graphic below from CES Letter shows the problem. What CES Letter puts in quotations (honesty and transparency) is correct, and what CES Letter characterizes as "what really happened" is based on what some observers said, not what Joseph and Oliver said.

Don't forget, Joseph was specifically forbidden to show people the Urim and Thummim and the plates. He couldn't allow people to observe the actual translation. If all he did was read words that appeared on a peep stone in a hat, while the plates sat uselessly nearby, covered with a cloth, none of what Joseph said makes sense.

Yet FairMormon (as well as the rest of the M2C citation cartel and the revisionist LDS historians) agree with CES Letter, not Joseph and Oliver!

The Church’s “honesty” and “transparency” on display:
What really happened:

_____

The "alternative narrative" for the truth claims has become the narrative given to us by Joseph and Oliver.

The narrative of their critics and detractors has become mainstream.

FairMormon did a good job pointing out some of the errors in the CES Letter, but they're straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Peep Stones vs. Urim and Thummim - part 5 M2C

People are wondering what happened to part 5 that discusses the connection between the peep stones and M2C. Here it is.

I postponed it because of the other issues I've blogged about for the last three weeks. You can see parts 1-4 in the Blog Archive under July and August, but because it has been three weeks since I posted part 4, here's a quick review.
_____

There has been a big change in recent years regarding the treatment of the translation of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and all of their contemporaries and successors as Church leaders taught that Joseph translated the engravings on the Nephite plates using the Urim and Thummim (or Nephite interpreters) that Joseph found in Moroni's stone box with the plates.

These were the interpreters specifically designated by Moroni (and the Lord) for the interpretation of the plates. "Wherefore the Lord hath commanded me to write them; and I have written them. And he commanded me that I should seal them up; and he also hath commanded that I should seal up the interpretation thereof; wherefore I have sealed up the interpreters, according to the commandment of the Lord." (Ether 4:5)

There were several hearsay accounts from people who believed they witnessed the translation, but the original first-person account was published in Oliver Cowdery's Letter I, found in the Messenger and Advocate, October 1834, which Joseph had copied into his personal history here:

https://archive.org/stream/latterdaysaintsm01unse#page/14/mode/2up

Today, a portion of Letter I is found in JS-H as a footnote. You can read it here:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/pgp/js-h/1?lang=eng

Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, ‘Interpreters,’ the history or record called ‘The Book of Mormon.’

As I pointed out in a Letter VII post, Joseph copied the characters and translated them using the Urim and Thummim for a couple of months before Martin Harris arrived to act as scribe.

http://www.lettervii.com/2019/08/omissions-from-joseph-smith-history.html

In the 1842 Wentworth letter, Joseph again explained what he did:

These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold. Each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long, and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings, in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume as the leaves of a book, with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters on the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction and much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found a curious instrument, which the ancients called “Urim and Thummim,” which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rims of a bow fastened to a breastplate. Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God.

These and other accounts from Joseph and Oliver might appear straightforward enough. They consistently and persistently taught exactly the same thing.

But sophistry can turn any words into any meaning.

Our revisionist Church historians now say that when he worked with Oliver, Joseph didn't actually use the plates (they were covered with a cloth) nor did he actually use the Nephite interpreters but instead took a seer stone (called a peep stone by critics) that he found while digging a well, put it in a hat, and then read the words that appeared on the stone, which functioned as a metaphysical teleprompter with the words supplied by an unknown intermediary.

In doing so, these historians rely on accounts by others who claimed to have observed the translation.

I've suggested elsewhere that those witnesses were mostly telling the truth about what they saw (or heard), but they didn't see the translation. Joseph merely demonstrated the process to satisfy their curiosity so he and Oliver could translate in peace.

Think about it. After being chastised for losing the 116 pages, was Joseph going to show the Urim and Thummim or the plates to people who were not authorized to see them?

Of course not.

The revisionist historians seek to reconcile the two different narratives by claiming Joseph and Oliver really meant the peep stone when they wrote "Urim and Thummim," but that's patently ridiculous because the 1834 anti-Mormon book that Oliver was responding to made the distinction clear.

Everyone knew the difference, including Joseph and Oliver. That's why they both specified Joseph used the Urim and Thummim that came with the plates. I wrote about all of this in parts 1-4, as well as the incoherence of Emma's "Last Testimony" that was published six months after her death (and two months after Brigham Young died).

I also discussed this on the SaintsReview blog:

https://saintsreview.blogspot.com/2019/08/peep-stone-vs-urim-and-thummim-in-saints.html

It's stunning how much the revisionist historians rely on that "Last Testimony." It's an obviously self-serving statement published by Joseph Smith III to bolster his claims in his disputes with the LDS Church in Utah. In it, Emma insists Joseph never practiced polygamy, but you don't see the historians mentioning that part when they cite her testimony about the translation as if it's the gospel truth.

BTW, if you want to see a fun example of the ongoing dispute between Joseph Smith III and Joseph F. Smith, which centered on polygamy but extended to other issues as well, read this awesome 1869 letter from George A. Smith to Joseph Smith III.
https://archive.org/details/GeorgeASmithToJosephSmithIII9Oct1869/page/n7
_____

Let's look at an example of what our historians have done. Go to Saints, Vol. 1, chapter 6, p. 61, or go to this link:
https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/saints-v1/06-the-gift-and-power-of-god?lang=eng.

Here's what we're supposed to believe now, according to Saints, vol. 1:

Meanwhile, Joseph and Oliver started translating. They worked well together, weeks on end, frequently with Emma in the same room going about her daily work.24 Sometimes Joseph translated by looking through the interpreters and reading in English the characters on the plates.

Often he found a single seer stone to be more convenient. He would put the seer stone in his hat, place his face into the hat to block out the light, and peer at the stone. Light from the stone would shine in the darkness, revealing words that Joseph dictated as Oliver rapidly copied them down.25

The part in bold is all theory, taught here as fact.

South Park, 2003
Of course, neither Joseph nor Oliver said anything remotely like this peep stone narrative, as we just saw above.

If the Saints version sounds familiar, and you're old enough, you might remember it from the South Park episode that first aired on November 19, 2003.

Book of Mormon Central recently produced a video explaining their peep stone-in-a-hat narrative. They could have saved some time by just licensing the South Park episode.

Back to the Saints excerpt. Look at notes 24 and 25. They both cite Emma's "Last Testimony."

Actually, Saints, vol. 1, cites Emma's "Last Testimony" 15 times without ever pointing out the obvious problems with its credibility.

One of the most astonishing references to Emma's "Last Testimony" is on the next to the last page of Saints, vol. 1 (p. 585). The narrative reads:

Emma and the children were not going west. Her struggle to accept plural marriage, as well as ongoing disputes over property, continued to complicate her relationship with the church and the Twelve. She still believed in the Book of Mormon and had a powerful testimony of her husband’s prophetic call. But rather than follow the apostles, she had chosen to stay in Nauvoo with other members of the Smith family.48

Note 48 cites Emma's "Last Testimony." If you read it, you'll see that Emma did not "struggle to accept plural marriage." She flatly denied that Joseph ever taught or practiced it. 

Do the historians think we're not going to look up these references? Or are they telling us to disbelieve everything Emma said about plural marriage, but to believe everything she said about the translation, even though her account is inconsistent and makes no sense? 

Here's another beauty from Chapter 5 that relies solely on Emma's "Last Testimony."
South Park, 2003

With peace restored, Joseph and Martin translated quickly. Joseph was growing into his divine role as a seer and revelator. Looking into the interpreters or another seer stone, he was able to translate whether the plates were in front of him or wrapped in one of Emma’s linen cloths on the table.28

Naturally, most people wonder why Joseph went to so much trouble to take care of the plates if he didn't need them.

Even more so, people wonder why Mormon and Moroni went to all their trouble.

The obvious answer is that Joseph translated the engravings on the plates, just as he said he did, but our revisionist historians don't accept that.

Now we come to the question, why? And what does it have to do with M2C?
_____

We can't read the minds of the revisionist historians, so there's no point trying to guess. But as I've said before, academics have to publish, and they have to have new material, which is not always easy for historians. From the outside, it looks like they found the old Mormonism Unvailed materials and resurrected the peep stone story so they could write about it (and depict it in paintings). They have sold lots of books, spoken at lots of conferences, etc.

Basically, the same academic motivation behind M2C.

These are career-making developments. Between the stone-in-the-hat and M2C, there is always something new to write and speak about, depict in media, teach to students, etc. Just look at all the material Book of Mormon Central has produced on these topics, not to mention the rest of the M2C citation cartel.

But there are two more important ramifications behind the peep stone-in-a-hat narrative.

First, one of the basic premises of M2C is that Joseph Smith didn't know that much about the Book of Mormon. He was an ignorant farm boy who knew nothing about Mesoamerica, so he didn't use the Mesoamerican terminology; i.e., he said "horses" when he should had said "tapirs," he said "tower" when he should have said "pyramid," etc.

Plus, he only learned about the Book of Mormon when he studied the Stephens and Catherwood books in 1841-1842 and then wrote about them (anonymously) in the Times and Seasons.

This line of reasoning is as obviously self-serving for our M2C scholars as Emma's "Last Testimony" was for Joseph Smith III. It frames Joseph as dependent on experts and scholars, just like our M2C intellectuals want Church members today to be dependent on them to understand the Book of Mormon. Hence, their favorite journal is named The Interpreter. Seriously, could there be a more arrogant name than that? It fits right in with their claim that they're above criticism because they've been hired by the prophets to guide the Church.

As an alternative, you could read what Joseph said in the Wentworth letter, or what his mother said about his familiarity with the ancient Nephites: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/new-era/2002/12/a-mothers-testimony?lang=eng
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The second ramification involves the Hill Cumorah.

Cumorah in fantasy Mexico
It is crucial for M2C that the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 cannot be in New York. That's what M2C stands for: Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory. The M2C intellectuals insist that the "real Cumorah" is in Mexico, while the "hill in New York" was named Cumorah because of a false tradition that Joseph Smith passively (or ignorantly) adopted.

According to M2C intellectuals, all the prophets and apostles who have reaffirmed the New York Cumorah have misled the Church by teaching their own false opinions, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference.

Consequently, there is a lot riding on the New York Cumorah.

The stone-in-the-hat narrative is important to downplay the significance of the plates because if, as more and more people believe, there were really two sets of plates, then Mormon's depository of Nephite records really is in New York, as Oliver Cowdery and others declared.

If you don't know about the two sets of plates, there's a diagram here:
http://www.lettervii.com/p/the-two-sets-of-plates-schematic.html. Here are the key points:

1. The Title Page, which was the last leaf of the plates Joseph got from Moroni, describes the contents as two abridgments (Nephite and Jaredite). It doesn't mention any original plates. The plates of Nephi were original plates so could not have been included.

2. Joseph translated all of the plates he got from Moroni (except the sealed portion) when he was in Harmony. He reached the last leaf, which was the Title Page, and had the translation printed for the copyright application (probably in Binghamton).

3. In D&C 9, the Lord promised Oliver he had other records he would assist to translate. In D&C 10, the Lord identified these other records as the "plates of Nephi" which Joseph didn't have in Harmony.

4. Before leaving Harmony, Joseph gave the original plates to a divine messenger that he later identified as one of the three Nephites. He, Oliver and David encountered this messenger on the road to Fayette. The messenger said he was going to Cumorah. Obviously, he was taking the Harmony plates back to the depository so he could pick up the plates of Nephi and bring them to Fayette for Joseph to translate.

5. Before giving the plates of Nephi to Joseph, the messenger showed them to David's mother. She said his name was Nephi, which fits with 3 Nephi 11. Then the messenger met Joseph in the garden and gave him the plates.

[Note: now you see why the M2C intellectuals and revisionist Church historians insist it was a shape-shifting Moroni who showed the plates to David's mother, contrary to the testimony of David and his mother. I've discussed this in several places, but the most convenient is probably here:
https://saintsreview.blogspot.com/2018/09/the-mary-whitmer-problem.html]

6. Martin Harris said only he, Joseph, Oliver and David ever saw the Harmony plates. For that and other reasons, we can tell the Eight Witnesses saw the plates of Nephi, not the original plates. That's why none of them said there was a sealed portion, even though they handled the plates.

There's lots more, but now you see why the M2C scholars love the stone-in-a-hat narrative. If Joseph didn't use the plates anyway, all the discrepancies from the traditional narrative of one set of plates kind of fade away.

Clearly, the discrepancies don't fade away for those who know the details and can't make sense of them except within the two-sets-of-plates explanation. But from all appearances, it doesn't look like our friends at Book of Mormon Central and other M2C intellectuals and revisionist Church historians care much about how their claims appear to people outside their bubbles.

_____

The most bizarre aspect of all of this is that the teachings of the prophets, starting with Joseph and Oliver, are the simplest, most direct, clearest, and most logical of all. Yet our intellectuals repudiate what the prophets have taught in favor of M2C and the stone-in-a-hat.

It's fine that people believe whatever they want; that's one of our Articles of Faith. I have no problem with anyone else's beliefs.

As I've said all along, my problem is with the ongoing censorship being practiced by Book of Mormon Central and the rest of the citation cartel, as well as the revisionist historians.

Because that doesn't appear likely to change, we'll continue to offer a faithful alternative that, to us, makes more sense and supports the teachings of the prophets.

_____