Wednesday, October 20, 2021

JS letter to OC, Oct 1829, and visiting with M2C/SITH scholars

The earliest extant sample of Joseph Smith's writing is a letter he wrote to Oliver Cowdery in October 1829. It includes this wonderful passage:

the people are all friendly to <​us​> except a few who are in opposition to evry thing unless it is something that is axactly like themselves

The passage reminds me of what it is like when I visit with M2C/SITH scholars. [BTW, if you're reading this post on Amazon,, or another site, you're missing the additional resources, including explanations of acronyms, on the original blog, here:]

We all love our critics, but it's sad to see how they still resist new ideas--especially new faithful ideas. After all, their education was supposed to give them confidence and competence instead of defensiveness and intransigence. 

Serious scholars would readily and happily spell out all the facts and then compare multiple working hypotheses. But our M2C/SITH scholars continue to refuse to do that. Within the last month I met with several of them and the answer is still the same: no. 

They are obsessed with trying to persuade people to agree with their theories. The last thing they want is for Latter-day Saints to make fully informed decisions.

It's the same with CES Letter, John Dehlin, and other critics. They delude their followers by pretending to seek "the truth" when in reality they share the approach of our M2C/SITH scholars; i.e., they support their personal theories with selective quotations and logical and factual fallacies instead of putting out all the evidence and showing multiple working hypotheses so fully informed people can make good decisions.

Both sides rely on lazy learners who defer to their respective "expertise."

I prefer the approach President Nelson encourages. "Good inspiration is based upon good information." 


The October 1829 letter obviously contradicts Emma's famous claim that Joseph couldn't write or dictate a letter (unless he attended an intense writing school during July-Sept 1829 when he was arranging the publication of the Book of Mormon).

The source note explains that this is a copy of the original letter, so it isn't necessarily an exact copy of Joseph's spelling. "JS, Letter, Harmony Township, Susquehanna Co., PA, to Oliver Cowdery, [Palmyra Township, NY], 22 Oct. 1829. Featured version copied [between ca. 27 Nov. 1832 and ca. Jan. 1833] in JS Letterbook 1, p. 9; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams; JS Collection, CHL."


The letter also contains considerable non-biblical, non-Book of Mormon terminology and phrasing, another indication of the sources of Joseph's lexicon. I agree with those who still believe Joseph Smith translated the engravings on the plates "after the manner of his language."  

I've annotated the letter here: 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Midnight Mormons, Heartland, and the M2C citation cartel

Yesterday, Midnight Mormons discussed the Heartland theory of Book of Mormon geography/historicity.

The Midnight Mormons are good guys, trying to do something positive. We respect that. But they don't live up to their motto, as described on twitter:

We aren’t apologists, we are radio hosts who call out B.S. when we see it.

You can't call out B.S. from a position of ignorance. 

They need to up their game, because everyone can see that CESLetter and John Dehlin are lapping Midnight Mormons (and the M2C citation cartel*) when it comes to informed discussions of Church history, Book of Mormon historicity, and other issues. That explains the disparity in views and subscribers, not to mention outcomes. 

Faithful Latter-day Saints should be the best-informed people in the world on these issues, but that's impossible if they rely on the M2C citation cartel for their information. 

To his credit, at least Kwaku has a somewhat open mind and has looked into a few things. He explained that his M2C bias comes from his friends. The other two, not so much. 

Cardon Ellis asked "what was the narrow neck of land that shows up in like 20 different books." (Actually, it shows up only once, in Ether 10:20**). 

Brad Witbeck admitted he's not "super familiar" with the issues (as if that's a feature, not a bug) and yet he acted as the authority on the show, spouting the talking points he's learned from FairLatterdaysaints and the rest of the M2C citation cartel.

Before Midnight Mormons discuss the Book of Mormon, they need to graduate from elementary Letter VII school. They can start here:

Then they can attend Cumorah school, starting here:

Naturally, they'll consult their friends at Book of Mormon Central, FairLatterdaysaints, the Interpreter, and the rest of the M2C citation cartel. We'll save them some time, because the cartel has one answer:

Midnight Mormons' display of ignorance was shocking, but not surprising. The Midnight Mormons are victims of the M2C citation cartel that uses "disinformation by omission" to keep their readers, students, followers, and donors in ignorance. Midnight Mormons trotted out all the superficial caricatures that the M2C citation cartel has imprinted on the minds of their followers. 

Take Book of Mormon Central as an example. They continue to promote M2C as the only acceptable interpretation of the Book of Mormon. They expressly repudiate the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, to the point where Midnight Mormons don't even mention Cumorah, which is the key the prophets have given to understand the setting of the Book of Mormon.


This should be a wake-up call for anyone who still doesn't understand what is happening to the younger generations of the Church.

Thanks to the M2C citation cartel, they are dwindling in unbelief and ignorance. 

Or, as Paul explained, they are "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:7) Watch the way Midnight Mormons stumbled through various speculation about geography, focusing on the "narrow neck" and "snow" instead of the core Cumorah issue.

Let's liken the scriptures unto us, starting with Mosiah 26:1-2.

1 Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, their contemporaries and successors, being little children at the time they spake unto their people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.

 2 They did not believe what had been said concerning the New York Cumorah, neither did they believe concerning the translation of the Book of Mormon from the plates with the Urim and Thummim.

Those of us who are "seasoned" members of the Church are still familiar with the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah. They were in our Institute and Seminary manuals. We learned Church history before the New York Cumorah was "de-correlated" by the Saints book. We still read the original documents in the Joseph Smith Papers so we can see how the Saints book promoted a specific agenda instead of accurately representing what historical figures actually thought.

The M2C citation cartel has managed to create a situation in which faithful Latter-day Saints who want to know what the prophets have taught about Cumorah turn to critics of the Church such as CES Letter and MormonStories.

That should change. Immediately.

Midnight Mormons should help educate the "rising generation" instead of encouraging ignorance.


*M2C = Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory, which teaches that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled everyone about the New York Cumorah until modern LDS scholars figured out that the "real" Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is somewhere in southern Mexico.

**The "narrow neck of land" in Ether 10:20 is a reference from a different civilization and different time than the Nephite references to a different "small neck" and a "narrow neck" which, because it didn't mention land, was likely a waterway. M2C scholars conflate the three features to make their geography work. Common usage of the term "narrow neck" by early Americans, including George Washington, show that the term can apply to any number of ordinary geographical features.  

Friday, October 15, 2021

More disinformation from the Interpreter

For years, I've been advocating an approach to Church history and Book of Mormon historicity that focuses on established facts accompanied by multiple working hypotheses (interpretations) of those facts. This is a normal, expected academic/scientific approach to any topic. It leads to truth because everyone can see the facts for themselves and then follow the logic and assumptions of the alternative hypotheses. People can reach different conclusions, but at least everyone is making informed decisions.

To date, our M2C scholars and their citation cartel (Book of Mormon Central, FairLatterdaySaints, the Interpreter, BYU Studies, Meridian Magazine, etc.) have refused to agree with this approach. 

Instead, they deliberately keep their students and their followers (and donors) uninformed, misinformed, and disinformed. 

They don't want Latter-day Saints to even know what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah, let alone know about the extrinsic evidence that corroborates and supports what the prophets have taught. 

These scholars have invested their careers into M2C, and they fear most Latter-day Saints would reject M2C if they knew all the facts and compared M2C to the alternatives that vindicate the teachings of the prophets. 

IOW, they don't trust Latter-day Saints to make informed decisions because they know most informed Latter-day Saints would reject M2C.

It's a self-defeating approach because, thanks to the de-correlation of the New York Cumorah, more and more Latter-day Saints (and prospective Latter-day Saints) are learning what the prophets have taught from critical sources who frame the issue in a negative way that, as Joseph Fielding Smith predicted, causes members to "become confused and disturbed in their faith."

It would be far healthier and productive for Latter-day Saints to learn in Church and CES/BYU materials what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah. Back when the Church was growing rapidly, Seminary and Institute manuals did still teach what the prophets have taught.

Nevertheless, our M2C scholars persist in censoring the New York Cumorah. I've pointed out many examples of how the M2C citation cartel does this. Today we'll look at another one published recently in the Interpreter.


Readers here will not be surprised to learn that the Interpreter continues to publish disinformation about Book of Mormon historicity/geography issues. I discussed a recent example here:

Next week, we'll look at another example from the 2021 Joseph Smith Papers Conference.

When M2C scholars resort to disinformation to maintain the illusion that M2C makes sense, they expose their own insecurity.

The graphic below explains that the difference between misinformation and disinformation is a matter of intention. (click to enlarge).


The Interpreter article is part of a series of articles that purport to use sophisticated statistical analysis to support the Book of Mormon as an ancient text. It's a transparent exercise in confirmation bias, which is fine; people enjoy having their biases confirmed, regardless of the validity of the argument. 

This article focuses on the resolution of alleged anachronisms in the text, which is also fine.

The disinformation arises from the article's gratuitous and deceitful claim that a geography model based on what Joseph and Oliver taught about the New York Cumorah does not resolve the alleged anachronisms in the text. 

At first glance, readers might assume the claim was based on excusable (but regrettable) ignorance; i.e., misinformation. After all, anyone who relies on the Interpreter for information about Church history and Book of Mormon historicity gets a steady diet of biased disinformation about the New York Cumorah and related topics.

But because the claim is one of the major premises of the article, and because the author purports to be objective and fact-based, it's difficult to excuse the errors on mere mistake.  

Here's an excerpt from my analysis of the Interpreter article, which refers to another article about anachronisms.

The article lists criticisms of the Book of Mormon based on alleged anachronisms, starting with those in Mormonism Unvailed. However, the anachronisms were a bit of a red herring. Even in the 1830s, people knew the Bible contained anachronisms (e.g., candles instead of lamps), but anachronisms that arise from translation are understandable, even expected. Translators use their own lexicon and culture to translate; otherwise, their work wouldn't be a translation. Anachronisms didn't prove the Bible was false.

The overriding objection to the Book of Mormon was that it was not a translation.

Which, perversely, is what LDS scholars are trying to prove today! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Inspiration for Dune and M2C

I didn't realize that Frank Herbert was inspired to write Dune after visiting the sand dunes on the Oregon coast near where I live. 

We've been there many times.

How ‘Dune’ was inspired by the Oregon coast, at the beautiful Oregon Dunes (

Because while the world imagined in classic sci-fi novel “Dune” may be entirely alien, Pacific Northwest author Frank Herbert first dreamed it up on a visit to the Oregon Dunes just outside Florence.

Coincidentally, some of the Book of Mormon videos were filmed along the Oregon coast as well.


Although there are still some Latter-day Saints who believe what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah, most Latter-day Saints have been taught to repudiate those teachings in favor of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory (M2C), which claims the "real Cumorah" is somewhere in southern Mexico.

Just as Frank Herbert imagined an entire dune world based on his visit to the Oregon dunes, our friends who promote M2C have imagined an entire setting for the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica, based on the ideas of L.E. Hills whose 1917 map generated the M2C theory.

Ever since, they've been reinterpreting the text of the Book of Mormon to conform to whatever discoveries are made about Mayan culture in Mesoamerica


More recently, CES and BYU teachers have taught an even more fanciful setting for the Book of Mormon. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Getting offended

Some of our M2C* and SITH** friends continue to get offended when we discuss the topics of Book of Mormon historicity and translation from a faithful perspective that supports and corroborates the teachings of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, their contemporaries and successors, all of whom taught the New York Cumorah and the translation of the plates with the Nephite interpreters. 

Getting offended is an emotional approach that obscures and prevents rational analysis of facts, scriptures, teachings of the prophets, etc. It's far more productive to share views and information and let people make their own informed decisions.

Offended people get defensive and resort to logical and factual fallacies. 

We see frequent examples on the web sites of Fairlatterdaysaints, CESLetter, the InterpreterFoundation, mormonstories, and everyone else who accepts M2C and SITH. 

None of these organizations want people to make informed decisions. They all keep people focused on their M2C and SITH narratives because they know that once people understand there are alternatives, they will no longer depend on these organizations to tell them what to think.

Naval explained why people get offended when they confront alternatives to their worldview.

"You’re offended when you fear that it might be true."

_____* M2C = Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory that Joseph and Oliver misled everyone about the Hill Cumorah in New York.**SITH = stone-in-the-hat theory that Joseph and Oliver misled everyone because Joseph never really translated the plates and didn't use the Nephite interpreters