long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Can ordinary members rescue Book of Mormon Central?

We usually come to New Zealand in the winter for a few weeks. The golfing is great...

We visit local wards wherever we go. It's fascinating to meet Heartlanders around the world. This week we met more who had watched YouTube videos during covid and learned, for the first time, about the North American setting of the Book of Mormon, with Cumorah in New York. They told us that this makes much more sense than the "Mexico theory" (as they put it). 

They also watch Taylor and Tyler and wonder why they and Book of Mormon Central continues to push the Mesoamerican theory without even acknowledging alternative settings that corroborate and support the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.


By analogy, the article below from the WSJ asking whether readers can save the NY Times is relevant. James Freeman points out that readers are more reasonable than the "expert" journalists at that newspaper.

In my experience around the world, everyday Latter-day Saints are more reasonable than the "experts" at Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, etc. Not that those experts aren't awesome people. They are. We continue to hope that someday, these experts will promote inclusivity instead of exclusivity, charity instead of arrogance, and understanding instead of condemnation of others' perspectives.

In the meantime, the pursuit of "no more contention" through clarity, charity, and understanding, we start with clarity.

Everyday Latter-day Saints still believe what Joseph and Oliver taught about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon, and they find it more productive to corroborate those teachings instead of repudiating those teachings.

We can all read the original documents from Church history. We can all read the teachings of the prophets in the General Conference reports.

Well, not all of us. Most of these resources are only available in English.

Non-English speakers have to rely upon translated versions of the Saints books, the Gospel Topics Essays, and materials from Book of Mormon Central, all of which promote/accommodate SITH and M2C.

But ultimately truth cannot be suppressed.

Here are excerpts from the article from the WSJ, with my emphasis in bold.


In the context of the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon, the "experts" might consider their audience instead of their academic peers in the M2C/SITH bubble.


Can Readers Save the New York Times?

There’s fresh evidence that the newspaper’s customers are more reasonable than its writers.

James Freeman

Jan. 26, 2024 6:00 pm 


Some consumers looking for traditional standards of journalism have given up on the New York Times, but reform is still possible at the newspaper. That’s because the Gray Lady’s modern habit of catering to a fiercely ideological slice of the reading public seems to be driven more by its employees than by its customers. This week brings another in a series of recent examples in which readers are trying valiantly to pull the Times toward the reasonable center. Why such readers are still subscribing is a question for another day, but as long as they’re paid up they might be able to exert a positive influence.

The latest issue involves violent crime and accountability. “Some readers were very unhappy with me over the weekend,” writes columnist Nicholas Kristof in the paper’s Opinion Today email newsletter. He explains:

wrote a column about an old friend, Bill Beard, who died recently after long struggles with drugs and crime. I said he was “a good man,” and then wrote about how he had brutalized a young woman who worked at a convenience store that he tried to rob. I used the column to explore how pain is transitive — hurt people hurt people. Millions of Americans who have been left behind not only suffer greatly but also sometimes inflict great suffering on others...
Many readers were offended at what they saw as me writing a sympathetic portrait of a man who had committed an atrocious crime... Some thought my focus should have been on Betty Gerhardt, the woman whom Bill attacked (who also died recently).

In the column Mr. Kristof had attempted to put the attack in a larger context:

If the federal minimum wage of 1968 had kept pace with inflation and productivity, it would now be more than $25 an hour. Instead, it’s stuck at $7.25.
The Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton popularized the term “deaths of despair” for the tumbling life expectancy among working-class Americans since 2010, but the tragedy goes far beyond the staggering mortality. For each person who dies from drugs, alcohol and suicide, many others are mired in addiction and heap pain on their families. Gerhardt told me that she had been addicted to heroin for years, underscoring how widespread this malady is: Perpetrator and victim shared a parallel suffering, and both died before the age of 65.

This last phrase could perhaps make it sound like they were in this together, but it was the perpetrator who inflicted enormous suffering on Betty Gerhardt with an attack that left her bloody and unconscious on the shop floor .. .—and then haunted with fear for the rest of her life.

Perhaps ironically, even Mr. Kristof’s old friend the perpetrator had tried to warn him off the idea that society is responsible when individuals commit such crimes. The Timesman quotes his old friend: “Nobody else made me do it. How can you blame anybody else?”

A number of readers have been asking the same question, and it may take some time for them to win over the columnist. In this week’s email after the reader furor, Mr. Kristof writes:

It’s fair to insist on personal responsibility for people like Bill, and to hold him accountable... But I believe we also have to have a difficult conversation about our collective responsibility when so many lives like Bill’s go off the rails — and about how we as a society can do better.

Fortunately there are still some Times readers who don’t believe in collective guilt. Last fall they reacted to a Times column about Boston University’s troubled Center for Antiracist Research, led by Ibram X. Kendi, who specializes in wholesale denunciations of American society. Times columnist Michelle Goldberg wrote that “it’s important to understand that the center’s apparent implosion is more the result of a failed funding model than a failed ideology. It exemplifies the lamentable tendency among left-leaning donors to chase fads and celebrities rather than build sustainable institutions.”

As your humble correspondent noted at the time, Times readers might have been struggling to recall a time when the newspaper was dismissing Mr. Kendi’s claims of systemic racism as a celebrity-driven fad. Still, one might have expected the paper’s customers to share Ms. Goldberg’s reluctance to blame his ideology. But numerous Times readers were having none of it, and took to the comments section to critique Mr. Kendi’s work. One Times reader commented:

no, Michelle, it’s not simply a failed funding model. It’s a failing set of ideas, and maybe the realization that the religious model (a set of unprovable beliefs, evildoers, victims, martyrs, etc) is not a great foundation for an academic center. Liberals and moderates have had a few years now to take a look at all of this and formulate a reasonable reply, and it is mostly, “NO.”

In a similar vein, another commented:

The problem is that a University should not build research centers around ideologies, failed or otherwise. Centers like this are not trying to understand what is or why in an objective manner. They are trying to promote a social and political agenda. Efforts like this have no place on campus.

Let’s hope that readers continue to initiate the difficult conversations needed to reform the troubled institution called the New York Times. But of course they have neither an individual nor a collective responsibility to subscribe.

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