My next book is titled The Rational Restoration.
It will be released May 15, 2022, along with a website that will be my main focus going forward.
I can't wait to tell you all about it.
I did an interview with Gospel Tangents to discuss all of this which you can see on youtube here:
These interviews are live and unscripted, so if you have any questions or problems with what I've said, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll clarify.
Here are some popular M2C memes:
Gospel Tangents is posting a series based on an interview we had in December. Here is a link to the first in the series:
Two weeks ago I was in Salalah, Oman, to take a look at one of the candidates for Lehi's land Bountiful in Arabia.
The discussion on wikipedia is an excellent summary:
I discussed this on the Mormon Book Reviews youtube channel, here:
I think Khor Rori makes the most sense, but reasonable people can reach different conclusions. The area around Salalah and Khor Rori has plenty of water and abundant honey, fruit, etc. Even when we visited in February, well into the dry season, waterfalls were running.
Nephi explained that "Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men." (1 Nephi 18:2)
It's also interesting that, ss the wikipedia page on Khor Rori explains, the site was not known to the western world until it was discovered in 1895.
The explanation at the visitor's center is a nice depiction of how I see Lehi's ship departing:
|(click to enlarge photos)
The cliffs on both sides of the harbor are natural, as you can see in some of the other photos I showed in the video on Mormon Book Reviews:
|Wadi Darbat in the mountains north of Khor Rori, the source for the river the flows out to the sea.
|Khor Rori viewed from the mountains
|The ruins at Khor Rori
|Ruins in the foreground
|Display of ship
|It's easy to see how Lehi would have sailed south
along the east coast of Africa before sailing west to America,
as Isaiah described in Isaiah 18:1.
Scott Gordon is the head of FAIRLDS. He's a great guy, faithful, hard-working, etc. But he's also a long-time promoter of M2C and SITH, among other things.
A few days ago I received his email update, which included this section.
It has always seemed strange to me that CES never responded to Jeremy Runnels' questions.
Jeremy was entitled to answers to his questions (at least, to his original, non-snarky questions).
Instead, he gets silence from CES and a torrent of sophistry from FAIRLDS and other apologists.
There are simple answers, after all. I started offering some on my blog (https://cesanswers.blogspot.com/) but I soon realized the problem is not the CES Letter.
The problem resides with the LDS apologists who have generated the confusion by repudiating the teachings of the prophets in favor of their academic speculations.
It serves little purpose for me to offer simple answers based on the teachings of the prophets when our LDS scholars themselves are repudiating what the prophets have taught. (It's even more fun that many of the apologists mischaracterize what I write so they can implement their typical straw man and ad hominem attacks.)
Throughout the CES Letter, Jeremy's questions boil down to this: why do modern LDS scholars repudiate what the prophets have taught?
The CES Letter is the inevitable product of someone who accepted the modern scholars as the authority.
Looking at it from the opposite perspective, LDS apologists agree with the faulty premises of the CES Letter. They then resort to nuances and sophistry to try to lead people through the thickets of their theories. But it doesn't work well. Their theories are so full of snags that people get stuck at every turn.
By touting themselves as the "Interpreters" to claim superiority over the mere prophets, they've pushed Latter-day Saints (and prospective Latter-day Saints) who have questions toward the CES Letter and similar sources. And by comparison, the CES Letter is clearer and more rational.
The teachings of the prophets are even more clear and rational.
Yet FAIRLDS sticks with the sophistry of the scholars instead.
A good example is the FAIRLDS response to the translation issues.
CES Letter (Jeremy) makes a straightforward observation:
Unlike the story I’ve been taught in Sunday School, Priesthood, General Conferences, Seminary, EFY, Ensigns, Church history tour, Missionary Training Center, and BYU…Joseph Smith used a rock in a hat for translating the Book of Mormon.
The FAIRLDS response by Sarah Allen is nearly 6,000 words of self-contradictory, confusing, and speculative rhetoric that never once even quotes what Joseph and Oliver said on the topic. It's literally unbelievable.
Sarah starts by questioning whether Jeremy was honest or clear about what he was taught. Maybe that's because Jeremy was taught to believe the scriptures.
Sarah writes as though she never heard of such basic scriptures as these (which she never cites or quotes):
34 He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;
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. (Joseph Smith—History 1:34–35)
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. (Joseph Smith—History 1:62)
* 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.’(Joseph Smith—History, Note, 1)
It would not be surprising that Sarah is unaware of these scriptures, given her affiliation with FAIRLDS. The book Saints, Volume 1, doesn't quote these passages. The Gospel Topics Essay doesn't quote them, either. These verses are part of the "plain and precious things" that our scholars are systematically taking away from Church history.
Those who promote the SITH (stone-in-the-hat) narrative avoid these scriptures, except when they resort to sophistry to explain away their plain meaning.
These passages from Joseph Smith-History are not the only times when Joseph and Oliver explained that Joseph translated the plates with the Urim and Thummim that came with the plates, but you won't find those accounts in the SITH narratives either.
Bottom line: Joseph and Oliver were consistent and reliable. Neither of them ever once suggested or implied, let alone taught, that Joseph used a seer stone he found in a well to produce the Book of Mormon. Neither of them ever suggested, implied, or taught that Joseph didn't use the plates.
Why, then, does Jeremy assert that "Joseph Smith used a rock in a hat for translating the Book of Mormon" in his letter?
Because of the work of our LDS apologists and the revisionist historians.
As we saw at the outset, Jeremy's question is legitimate. What he's really asking is, why do modern LDS scholars repudiate what the prophets have taught?
It's a good question that Sarah doesn't even address. Instead, as she's been trained to do by FAIRLDS and the rest of the SITH citation cartel, she tries to pretend the prophets (and the scriptures) never taught what we can all see they did, actually, teach.
The SITH narrative arose from what others (the SITH sayers, such as David Whitmer) claimed.
Some people think the SITH sayers were all liars.
Others, such as Sarah and FAIRLDS, think the SITH sayers were honest and accurate, even though they contradicted what Joseph and Oliver said about the Urim and Thummim.
The scholars Sarah and FAIRLDS rely upon have tried to reconcile the apparent conflict between the two narratives (SITH vs U&T) by claiming the stone Joseph found in the well was actually the Urim and Thummim to which Joseph and Oliver referred. As Sarah shows in her article, the scholars have successfully persuaded their gullible followers to accept SITH by omitting the scriptures and other contemporary sources, such as Mormonism Unvailed, which unambiguously distinguished between the "peep stone" and the Urim and Thummim.
Despite the efforts of the SITH apologists, there is no need to ignore or reject the scriptures to reconcile the historical accounts. In my view, for all the reasons I've explained elsewhere, the SITH sayers probably told the truth about what they observed, but as witnesses commonly do, they mingled their observations with their own assumptions and inferences. In other words, whatever Joseph did with the stone in the hat, it was not translating the Book of Mormon. That should be clear from the scriptures and from the testimonies of Joseph's contemporaries and successors in Church leadership.
After all, Joseph was expressly commanded not to display the plates or the Urim and Thummim until after the translation was completed (at which point he showed the items to the designated witnesses). That commandment was superfluous if Joseph didn't use the plates or U&T to produce the Book of Mormon. There would have been no reason for Joseph to even relate that commandment in the first place except to explain why no one (other than his scribes behind a curtain or screen) saw him translate.
This is a fairly straightforward example of the problem that arises from LDS apologists rejecting the teachings of the prophets in favor of their own theories.
The most notorious example is the way FAIRLDS and the rest of the M2C citation cartel has repudiated the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. That has led to all kinds of mischief and confusion, not the least of which is the CES Letter.
As I wrote above, Jeremy was entitled to answers to his questions.
Instead, he gets silence from CES and a torrent of sophistry from FAIRLDS and other apologists.
A few months ago I visited Scott Gordon at the new offices of FAIRLDS. Apparently they needed to have a physical location to qualify as an organization that can have missionaries assigned to help out. Which is another topic to discuss someday.
I told Scott I'd like to work with him to upgrade FAIRLDS. While I can't realistically expect them to jettison years of apologetic efforts to promote M2C and SITH, I do expect them to represent the full range of faithful views.
So far, Scott has refused to do that.
As a result, we end up with these convoluted, confused responses to the CES Letter.
So I'll ask again, and anyone who knows Scott can relay the message.
How about expanding FAIRLDS to include all faithful approaches to the issues?
How about making FAIRLDS inclusive instead of exclusive?
And how about finding a way for FAIRLDS to corroborate, rather than repudiate, the teachings of the prophets?
The M2C citation cartel continues to stigmatize Heartlanders as right-wing nationalists. It's a patently ridiculous claim, but it's typical of the way many M2C apologists have operated for years. Rather than engage the issues on the merits, or even have a civil, respectful dialog, they resort to ad hominem and other logical fallacies, obfuscate the facts and mislead their followers.
We'll focus on this more in upcoming posts, but an editorial in the Wall St. Journal made an apt observation that applies to the latest crop of M2C apologists.
From the WSJ:
Suddenly, when our political debate is characterized by so much moral posturing, manufactured outrage and sanctimonious preening, it’s illuminating to see what real honor in the face of real adversity looks like.
Our polarized and angry domestic politics are dominated by virtue-signaling egoists. In Ukraine, the virtue doesn’t need to be signaled.
While privileged young people in America express their outrage at microaggressions in the workplace because someone used the wrong pronoun, the youth of Kyiv are gathering in bunkers to make Molotov cocktails in a last, desperate act to defend their beleaguered city—street by street if necessary—against the most violently macro of aggressions.