Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Trip to Fayette references

Readers continue to ask me for the references regarding the trip from Harmony to Fayette, during which Joseph, Oliver and David met the divine messenger who was taking the abridged plates to Cumorah.

Rather than sending a separate file, I put the references in a link on my lettervii blog here:

Now you can easily refer people to these references. I'll update/add more as I get time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

M2C/SITH believers are poorly educated

Most people realize that you can't solve a problem if you can't discuss it honestly. And you can't have honest conversations when people don't share relevant knowledge about the topic. Most people are more concerned about confirming their biases than about making informed decisions.

In the Church today, you'll find lots of members who are convinced that M2C and SITH are "true." If you talk with them for just a few minutes, you'll discover they are poorly educated. It's "zeal without knowledge" in the worst sense.

By "poorly educated" I mean they are taught only selected facts, mingled with the theories of the M2C and SITH intellectuals. They are never taught all the relevant facts of Church history, let alone the relevant extrinsic evidence, but they think they are educated.

I know this personally because for decades, I relied on what the "experts" in CES and BYU had taught me. I had to educate myself because the M2C citation cartel is impervious to alternative interpretations and perspectives.

The worst of the lot, Book of Mormon Central, continues to censor anything that contradicts or even challenges M2C and SITH.

I'm not writing about those few Latter-day Saints who have made informed decisions. We can all believe whatever we want. People who make informed decisions based on identical facts can still completely disagree. That's a separate topic we will discuss later. Here, I'm discussing people who do not make informed decisions because they are uninformed, or misinformed.

Often, the more ignorant they are, the more strongly they are convinced they are right.

If you're among the many Latter-day Saints who

- accept M2C and SITH


- have never heard of Letter VII,
- don't realize the Gospel Topics Essays don't even quote what Joseph and Oliver taught, and
- think that Saints is accurate and complete history,

you ought to educate yourself so you can make informed decisions.

Today, much of this conversation takes place online, and the conversations are dominated by the most ignorant people in society, which are young people. That's not an insult; it's just a fact. All adults have been 20-something. By the time we're 40, we realize how ignorant we were when we were 20. As we age, we gain experience and knowledge.

College kids typically think they know a lot, but all they know is what their professors have told them and what they've read (which was written by someone else). Most of them stick with whatever they've been taught because they trust and admire their professors.  This seems to be especially true among LDS, whose teachers in CES and BYU have a special fiduciary responsibility that, in many cases, they breach by poorly educating their students.

I've discussed these issues with many Church members, all around the world. Most readers here have seen examples on online in social media, publications such as Meridian Magazine, etc. Let's look at some specific examples.

Many members are learning Church history from the Saints books. These books, particularly volume 1, were written to accommodate both M2C and SITH. The authors created fake history to achieve their objectives. Not only did they censor Cumorah, but they replaced the original language in source documents with new terms that reflect their revisionist history.

Here's one of many examples:

Consequently, current and future generations of members of the Church are indoctrinated into this revisionist history instead of learning the actual history.

The tragedy: Church historians are fully aware of these problems yet refuse to correct at least the digital versions of these books.

Based on the
Times and Seasons
M2C believers are likewise poorly educated. Apart from the handful of M2C scholars (and their employees) who have been promoting M2C and know better, their followers simply do not know the facts of Church history and relevant sciences.

The basic premise of M2C is that Joseph Smith was an ignorant speculator who misled the Church about the New York Cumorah until he read the Stephens and Catherwood travel books about Central America in 1841 and then wrote about them in anonymous editorials in the 1842 Times and Seasons.

These editorials led certain scholars to develop interpretations of the text that "fit" Mesoamerica. Then they scoured Mayan culture to find "correspondences" that "fit" the Book of Mormon text, but they usually make them fit only by changing the definition of Book of Mormon terms (e.g., a "horse" means a "tapir," a "tower" means a "massive stone pyramid," "north means "west," etc.).
Based on the
Times and Seasons

Ironically, the editorials say nothing about Cumorah. Letter VII was published by Joseph's brothers before and after these editorials were published. Numerous prophets and apostles have reaffirmed Letter VII's teaching of the New York Cumorah.

[If any readers here are ignorant of this, here's a summary:]

The only conflict between the anonymous editorials and the New York Cumorah is in the minds of the M2C scholars and their followers.

Consequently, M2C scholars have successfully kept their followers ignorant of Letter VII. They have employed the Academic Cycle and managed to de-correlate the New York Cumorah from recent Church publications, manuals, videos, etc.

Based on the Times and Seasons
The most fun example is the blatant revisionist history in Saints. The most colorful example is the fantasy map BYU uses to teach students that the Book of Mormon took place in a fictional setting, based on the M2C interpretation. There are plenty of examples to go around.

M2C believers are taught that these Times and Seasons articles outweigh the teachings of the prophets. They are never taught that Joseph never acknowledged, cited, or even referred to these articles. Lately, they are never taught that D&C 128:20 even exists.

Historians disagree about the extent to which Joseph participated in the Times and Seasons during 1842, and that's fine. Some of us think he was the nominal editor based on content and other evidence. Others think he was the active editor, based on the boilerplate at the end of each issue that said the paper was Edited, Printed and Published by Joseph Smith, Jr.

Everyone agrees that Joseph was merely the nominal printer, meaning he did not operate the printing press. Everyone agrees that throughout his life, Joseph wrote very little himself; even the "History of Joseph Smith" was written by his scribes, as was most of his own journal.

Nevertheless, the M2C intellectuals insist Joseph was the active editor of the Times and Seasons, personally writing the anonymous editorials and personally approving of everything published in the paper. Their followers accept this, having no idea about the facts the contradict this theory.

An awesome aspect of all of this is that even the M2C intellectuals disagree with some of the major points of these editorials.

Here's a passage from one of the anonymous editorials that no M2C intellectuals accept. If Lehi actually landed south of Panama, then M2C doesn't work.

When we read in the Book of Mormon that Jared and his brother came on to this continent from the confusion and scattering at the Tower, and lived here more than a thousand years, and covered the whole continent from sea to sea, with towns and cities; and that Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean, and crossed over to this land and landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien, and improved the country according to the word of the Lord, as a branch of the house of Israel, and then read such a goodly traditionary account, as the one below, we can not but think the Lord has a hand in bringing to pass his strange act, and proving the Book of Mormon true in the eyes of all the people.
(Times and Seasons III.22:922 ¶2)

More later.

Monday, July 6, 2020

The Millennium Probably To Dawn in America

It's July 6th. Over the weekend, Americans celebrated the 4th of July, which is our Independence Day.

This is a good time to consider what Jonathan Edwards wrote in 1758 about America and the "more glorious work that should be in the latter ages of the Christian church."

I posted it here:


Separately, here's a useful suggestion: turn off the news for a day or two.

The news industry has a business model that requires people to watch and read regularly. The more viewers and readers they get, the more money they get from advertisers. You are paying their salaries every time you tune in to their shows or click on their web pages.

The media knows people will watch and read more if they are alarmed, angry, upset, afraid, etc., so they focus on events that generate these emotions. In many cases, they create news to generate these emotions. The pundits do nothing but generate these emotions. They frame everything as a competition between left and right, anti- and pro-Trump, etc.

It's outrage theater and we're better off doing something other than paying for the performances.

Turn off the news, go exercise, and be grateful for all the blessings God has given you.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Moroni's America - the Prince of America

The 4th of July is a good time to review what Elder Orson Hyde taught about Moroni. Speaking on the 4th of July in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, Elder Hyde reiterated the teachings of the prophets that Moroni revealed to Joseph Smith "the history of the early inhabitants of this country."

An Address by Elder Orson Hyde, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, July 4, 1854.
(1854, OH Celebration • JD 6:367)

In those early and perilous times, our men were few, and our resources limited. 

Poverty was among the most potent enemies we had to encounter; yet our arms were successful; and it may not be amiss to ask here, by whose power victory so often perched on our banner? 

It was by the agency of that same angel of God that appeared unto Joseph Smith, and revealed to him the history of the early inhabitants of this country, whose mounds, bones, and remains of towns, cities, and fortifications speak from the dust in the ears of the living with the voice of undeniable truth. 

This same angel presides over the destinies of America, and feels a lively interest in all our doings. 

He was in the camp of Washington; and, by an invisible hand, led on our fathers to conquest and victory; and all this to open and prepare the way for the Church and kingdom of God to be established on the western hemisphere, for the redemption of Israel and the salvation of the world. ...

Under the guardianship of this same angel, or Prince of America, have the United States grown, increased, and flourished, like the sturdy oak by the rivers of water.

(Orson Hyde, JD 6:368)

For more information, here's a great resource:

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Persuasion by small steps

It's a small step to say Oliver Cowdery was just expressing his opinion in Letter VII when he wrote that it was a fact that the Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is the hill in western New York from which Joseph obtained the plates.

It's another small step to say Joseph Smith adopted a false tradition when he republished Letter VII and wrote D&C 128:20.

Then another small step to say the prophets who reaffirmed the New York Cumorah were merely expressing their private, incorrect opinions, including in General Conference.

Yet another step to say Joseph and Oliver were wrong about the translation of the Book of Mormon.

Another small steop to say Joseph never even used the plates.

And so it goes.

This is how persuasion works:

During the Korean War, captured American soldiers found themselves in POW camps run by Chinese Communists. The Chinese treated captives quite differently than their allies, the North Koreans, who favored savagery and harsh punishment to gain compliance
7:54 AM · Jun 14, 2020Twitter Web App
Replying to
The Red Chinese engaged in what they called “lenient policy,” which was a sophisticated psychological assault on their captives. After the war, American psychologists questioned the returning prisoners intensively, because of the unsettling success of the Chinese program
The Chinese were very effective in getting Americans to inform on one another, in contrast to the behavior of American POWs in WWII. For this reason, escape plans were quickly uncovered and escape attempts themselves were rarely successful.
When an escape did occur, the Chinese usually recovered the man easily by offering a mere bag of rice to anyone turning him in. In fact, nearly all American prisoners in the Chinese camps are said to have collaborated with the enemy in one form or another.
How did the Chinese get compliance from the American POWS? These men were trained to provide only name, rank, serial number. Short of torture, how could the captors hope to get such men to give military information, turn in fellow prisoners, or publicly denounce their country?
The Chinese answer was to start small and build. Prisoners were asked to make statements so mildly anti-American or pro-Communist as to seem inconsequential "The United States is not perfect." "In a Communist country, unemployment is not a problem."
Once they complied with these minor requests, the men were pushed to submit to more substantive ones. A man who had agreed that the United States is not perfect might be asked provide examples. He might then be asked to make a list of "problems with America" and sign his name
Later, he might be asked to read his list in a discussion group with other prisoners. “After all, it’s what you really believe, isn’t it?” Still later he might be asked to write an essay expanding on his list and discussing these problems in greater detail
The Chinese might then use his name and his essay in an anti-American radio broadcast beamed not only to the entire camp, but to other POW camps in North Korea, as well as to American forces in South Korea.
Suddenly he would find himself a "collaborator." Aware that he had written the essay without any threats or coercion, a man would change his image of himself to be consistent with the deed and with the new collaborator label, resulting in more extensive acts of collaboration
The majority collaborated by doing things which seemed trivial to them but which the Chinese were able to turn to their own advantage. This was particularly effective in eliciting confessions, self-criticism, and information during interrogation.
The majority of the men believed the Chinese story that the United States had used germ warfare, and many felt that their own forces had been the initial aggressors in starting the war. Similar inroads had been made in the political attitudes of the men:
Many expressed antipathy toward the Chinese Communists but at the same time praised them for "the fine job they have done in China." Others stated that "although communism won’t work in America, I think it’s a good thing for Asia."
Our best evidence of another man's true feelings and beliefs is their behavior, not their words. What the Chinese knew is that a man uses this same evidence to know what he himself is like. He observes his behavior to understand his own beliefs, values, and attitudes