Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Orson Hyde, July 4, 1854, and Moroni's America

Orson Hyde taught something about Moroni that few Latter-day Saints know about today. For that matter, few Latter-day Saints know much about Orson Hyde.

For example, he was President of the Quorum of the Twelve from December 27, 1847, to April 10, 1875. That makes him by far the longest-serving President of the Quorum.

In my view, Orson Hyde has far more credibility than our modern politically correct M2C advocates who falsely accuse the "Heartlanders" of being motivated primarily by "nationalism."

See what you think.

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Orson Hyde
Orson Hyde joined the Church in Kirtland, Ohio, in October 1831. He served several missions, marched with Zion's Camp, participated in Church leadership in Kirtland, and was ordained an Apostle in February, 1835, as one of the original members of the Quorum of the Twelve.

The Joseph Smith Papers has a short biography here: 

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/person/orson-hyde

Wikipedia also has a short biography here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orson_Hyde

(click to enlarge)
He is well known in Church history as the Apostle who dedicated Israel for the ingathering of the Jews in October, 1841. 

The Orson Hyde Memorial Garden in Jerusalem commemorates the event. 

When I first visited Jerusalem many years ago, the garden featured a metal plaque inscribed with Hyde's prayer in both English and Hebrew. The last few times I visited there the plaque was gone because it had been vandalized. 

The stone marker that explains the name of the park still stands, however. It is written in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. (Unfortunately, there's a typo in the engraving that you can see if you enlarge the photo.)

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At a July 4th celebration in 1854, Orson Hyde spoke about Moroni. This was seven years before the Civil War began.

He reviewed American history briefly and noted the role Moroni played.

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. 

...

Would to God that we could forget this part of our experience in the land of our fathers! But we cannot forget it. It is incorporated in our being. We shall carry it to our graves, and in the resurrection it will rise with us. Had the United States been as faithful a guardian to the Latter-day Saints as the angel of God has been to them, she would never know dissolution, nor be humbled in dishonor by the decrees of any foreign powers.

I ask no earthly being to endorse this my testimony, or to adopt it as his own sentiment. A little time will prove whether Orson Hyde alone has declared it, or whether the heavenly powers will back up this testimony in the face of all the world.

When Justice is satisfied, and the blood of martyrs atoned for, the guardian angel of America will return to his station, resume his charge, and restore the Constitution of our country to the respect and veneration of the people; for it was given by the inspiration of our God.


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The full text:

CELEBRATION OF THE FOURTH OF JULY.

An Address by Elder Orson Hyde, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, July 4, 1854.

Reported by Unknown.

Respected Friends and Fellow Citizens—I am called upon, by the wishes and voice of many persons, to be one of your speakers on this ever memorable day. While I congratulate myself upon the honor which you have done me by this selection, I sincerely regret that I am not more amply qualified to answer your expectations. But humble as my efforts may be on this occasion, they are the more freely offered, knowing that the ears and hearts of a generous people will make every allowance for any deficiency that may appear in the style and subject matter of my discourse.

The bursts of eloquence that have thundered from this stand this morning cannot fail to have awakened in the minds of the audience notions and views so enlarged, that it becomes a very difficult task for your present speaker to sustain and carry forward the interest and excitement with which your minds have already been fired by the speakers that have preceded me.

We are met, fellow citizens, to celebrate one of the most important events that ever embellished the pages of political history—an event of which every American heart is proud to boast, in whatever land or country he perchance may roam—I mean the bold, manly, and daring act of our fathers in the Declaration of the Independence and Sovereignty of these United States—an act worthy to be engraven in letters of living light upon the tablets of our memory, and to be transmitted to our children, with the sacred charge that they teach it to their children, and to their children’s children, till the “stripes and stars” float over every land, and are mirrored on the crest of every passing billow. They had not only the moral courage to sign the Declaration of our nation’s Independence, but hearts of iron and nerves of steel to defend it by force of arms against the fearful odds arrayed against them—the well-disciplined armies and mercenary allies of the foolish and tyrannical George the III, King of Great Britain.

The progressive spirit of the times, on the one hand, and the chains of cruelty and oppression, on the other, inspired the apostles of American freedom to raise the standard of liberty, and unfurl its banner to the world as a warning to oppressors, and as the star of hope to the oppressed. The very name of America causes a thrill of patriotic devotion to her best interests to quiver in the heart of every citizen of Utah, with a zeal and a pride for the welfare of our country that does honor to the memory of those departed heroes whose ashes are mingled in our soil, and made rich and dear to us by their own blood.

Remember Lexington, and Bunker Hill, and lastly Yorktown, with all the intermediate scenes as narrated in the history of the American Revolution! Remember the immortal Washington, chosen to lead our infant armies through the perils and hardships of an unequal contest, to the climax of victory and the pinnacle of fame! His name, embalmed in the never-dying sympathies of his grateful countrymen, will be heralded in the melody of song, “while the earth bears a plant or the ocean rolls a wave.” While Columbia’s sons and daughters regret and mourn his exit hence in accents like the following—

“Cold is the heart where valor reigned,

Mute is the tongue that joy inspired,

Still is the arm that conquest gained,

And dim the eye that glory fired,”

They will comfort themselves and quiet the pangs of their bereaved hearts by chanting like this—

“Too mean for him a world like this;

He’s landed on the happy shore,

Where all the brave partake of bliss,

And heroes meet to part no more.”

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.

This same angel was with Columbus, and gave him deep impressions, by dreams and by visions, respecting this New World. Trammeled by poverty and by an unpopular cause, yet his persevering and unyielding heart would not allow an obstacle in his way too great for him to overcome; and the angel of God helped him—was with him on the stormy deep, calmed the troubled elements, and guided his frail vessel to the desired haven. 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.

To what point have the American arms been directed since the Declaration of our National Independence, and proven unsuccessful? Not one!

The peculiar respect that high Heaven has for this country, on account of the promises made to the fathers, and on account of its being the land where the mustard seed of truth was planted and destined to grow in the last days, accounts for all this good fortune to our beloved America.

But since the Prophets have been slain, the Saints persecuted, despoiled of their goods, banished from their homes, and no earthly arm to interpose for their rescue, what will be the future destiny of this highly-favored country? Should I tell the truth as it clearly passes before my mind’s eye, my friends might censure me, and I might be regarded as an enemy to my country. If I should not tell the truth, but withhold it to please men, or to avoid giving offense to any, I might be regarded, by the powers celestial, as the enemy of God. What shall I do under these circumstances? Shall I be guilty of the crime of hesitating for a moment? No. Neither time nor place to hesitate now.

Were I called upon to give evidence before a court of justice in a case to which my own father was a party litigant, the foolish might regard me as opposed to my father, if conscience, justice, and truth directed me to testify against his interest; but the wise would regard me as possessing that integrity that kindred ties could not swerve nor decoy from the truth and facts in the case. My testimony in relation to the country that gave me birth, that gave birth to my father and my father’s father, is given upon the same principle, and prompted by a similar motive.

So sure and certain as the great water courses wend their way to the ocean, and there find their level—so sure as the passing thundercloud hovers around yonder Twin Peaks of the Wasatch Mountains, and upon their grey and barren rocks pours the fury of its storm, just so sure and certain will the guardian angel of these United States fly to a remote distance from their borders, and the anger of the Almighty wax hot against them in causing them to drink from the cup of bitterness and division, and the very dregs, stirred up by the hands of foreign powers, in a manner more cruel and fierce than the enemies of the Saints in the day of their greatest distress and anguish; and all this because they laid not to heart the martyrdom of the Saints and Prophets, avenged not their blood by punishing the murderers, neither succored nor aided the Saints after they were despoiled of their goods and homes.

Would to God that we could forget this part of our experience in the land of our fathers! But we cannot forget it. It is incorporated in our being. We shall carry it to our graves, and in the resurrection it will rise with us. Had the United States been as faithful a guardian to the Latter-day Saints as the angel of God has been to them, she would never know dissolution, nor be humbled in dishonor by the decrees of any foreign powers.

I ask no earthly being to endorse this my testimony, or to adopt it as his own sentiment. A little time will prove whether Orson Hyde alone has declared it, or whether the heavenly powers will back up this testimony in the face of all the world.

When Justice is satisfied, and the blood of martyrs atoned for, the guardian angel of America will return to his station, resume his charge, and restore the Constitution of our country to the respect and veneration of the people; for it was given by the inspiration of our God.

One positive decree of Jehovah, respecting this land, is, that no king shall ever be raised up here, and that whosoever seeketh to raise up a king upon this land shall perish. The spirit of this decree is that no king shall bear rule in this country. And the islands contiguous to this land belong unto it by promise, for they are a part and parcel of the land of Joseph, and they geographically belong to it—belong to it by the covenants of the fathers: they also philosophically  incline to this nearer and greater land.

Europe may look with a jealous eye upon the movements of this country, and contemplate the settlement and adjustment of a “Western question.” But at present there is an Eastern question pending; and it may be wisdom and policy for the United States’ Government to press the adjustment of the Western question simultaneously with that of the Eastern question. If the Western question is settled at all, now is the time for the United States to settle it to the best advantage.

In case of a general war, nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, which we have every reason to expect, it will be remembered that we have an extensive coast to defend, not only east and southerly, but also in the west. The transportation of troops will be unavoidable; and the sad and melancholy fate of many destined for the western coast by sea, around the southern cape, should admonish the Government to spare no pains or expense to construct a railroad with all dispatch across the continent, passing through the head and center of Utah Territory; particularly as the transportation of soldiers and the munitions of war are among the less weighty reasons why a railroad should be constructed, connecting the Missouri River with the Pacific coast.

But to confine ourselves for a moment to things within our own Basin. Since the celebration, last year, of our nation’s birth, two of our great and good men have fallen by the hand of death—Doctor Willard Richards and Patriarch John Smith. In them the citizens of Utah have lost true and devoted friends; the country, patriots; the Church, able advocates and defenders; and large families, kind and affectionate husbands and fathers; also several most excellent men shot down by the hostile savage from his ambush. Much suffering has been occasioned by the Indian war. Many of our crops went to waste last year, by reason of it, which has occasioned rather a scanty supply of food. But thanks be to God, never have the fields of the valleys smiled with such glowing prospects of abundant harvest as at the present time.

It is true that some of our settlements lost almost every head of stock they had, by the Indians, last summer, and have been compelled to cultivate their lands with few horses and oxen; yet the extensive fields of wheat now waving in the breeze and fast ripening in the sun are almost incredible.

Praise and thanksgiving be unto our God! This year we have had peace with the red men, and plenty is about to crown the labors of the husbandman.

If the United States are dissatisfied with the expenditure of the twenty thousand dollars appropriated for the building of a State House in this Territory, because a house was purchased that was already built, instead of building one, I have no hesitancy in expressing my conviction that a Government draft on us for the amount would be duly honored ten days from sight, or ten minutes, perhaps. Our Indian wars and other necessary and indispensable drafts upon our time and money in this new country have prevented us from building a house; and we, therefore, have been under the necessity of purchasing a very good and commodious one, built before our Indian troubles were so serious. My voice would be to pay back the twenty thousand dollars! And as the expenses of the war have been wholly borne by us, without a dime’s appropriation for that purpose having yet reached us, we may expect to rely wholly on our own resources and upon the arm of our God.

If we are deemed abundantly able to foot the bill of the entire expenses of the war, pay back the twenty thousand dollars to the Government, build our own State House, or occupy the one already built, and even then support whole omnibuses full of wives and children, though proscribed as we are from the benefits of the Land Bill, the people of the United States must allow that we far excel all other portions of their population in real smartness.

God and our country, now and forever, one and inseparable!

(1850s1854, OH Celebration–OH Celebration ¶25 • JD 6:367–JD 6:371)


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Institute, circa 1981: the New York Cumorah

My review of Real vs. Rumor continues with an assessment of the book's embrace of SITH, here:

http://www.ldshistoricalnarratives.com/2022/05/real-vs-rumor-part-6-sith.html

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In 1981, back when the Church was still growing rapidly and we expected that to continue, Seminary and Institute students learned what the prophets had taught about the New York Cumorah. 

It makes sense that people responded to a message that supported and corroborated the teachings of the prophets, as well as the historicity of the Book of Mormon. 

The New York Cumorah was the single unambiguous connection between the real world and the text of the Book of Mormon. That's why Oliver Cowdery spelled it out as a fact in Letter VII in response to claims that Joseph copied the text from Solomon Spalding's novel. Anyone can read this right in Joseph Smith's own history in the Joseph Smith Papers: http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1834-1836/90

After all, Joseph learned the name of the hill from Moroni himself the first night they met. 

You can see for yourself what the 1981 Institute manual taught.

https://archive.org/details/bookofmormonstud00salt/page/460/mode/2up




There is plenty of additional evidence from Church history that President Smith didn't mention, as well as abundant extrinsic scientific evidence, to corroborate the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

But today, young Latter-day Saints and new converts (as well as "friends") never learn what the prophets have taught. 

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In our day, thanks to the work of our M2C scholars, Latter-day Saints are not only not taught about the New York Cumorah, but they are taught that the prophets were wrong.

Instead of supporting and corroborating the teachings of the prophets, our modern M2C scholars continue to repudiate the teachings of the prophets.

Somehow, these scholars think it builds faith to teach the youth that the prophets were wrong and that they should rely, instead, on credentialed scholars who know more than Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, etc.

The results are there for everyone to see.






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M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory) started when RLDS scholar L.E. Hills published a map showing Cumorah in southern Mexico. This was back in 1917.

L.E. Hills' 1917 map

Eventually LDS scholars, including John Sorenson and John W. Welch, embraced the Hills' theory about the "two Cumorahs" and adjusted the setting a few miles east from where Hills had put it.


John Sorenson/Jack Welch/BYU Studies map

Lately, BYU scholars dressed up M2C by creating a complete fantasy land.

BYU fantasy map of the Book of Mormon

The current Institute manual teaches a modified fantasy land for the setting of the Book of Mormon, based on M2C.

Seminary/Institute fantasy map of the Book of Mormon

The M2C logo taints dozens of books, articles, videos, and other media. The logo is a declaration that the prophets were wrong about Cumorah. Anywhere you see this logo, you know the material has been screened so it supports M2C.



And, of course, the logo of the corporate owner of Book of Mormon Central features a Mayan temple.



Monday, May 23, 2022

More thoughts on Church history


On another blog, I'm continuing the series on the Real vs. Rumor book. It's important because people should know how and why the narratives about Church history have been changes in recent years, and the tactics our scholars use to implement those changes.

Today we look at a few inexplicable errors. Tomorrow we'll look at SITH specifically. 

http://www.ldshistoricalnarratives.com/2022/05/real-vs-rumor-part-5-inexplicable-errors.html

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It's all good to have multiple working hypotheses. People should be aware of the way both critics and apologists interpret the historical evidence. That helps people make informed decisions--provided they look at the actual evidence and not merely the spin provided by the critics and apologists.

A few decades ago, LDS scholars embraced a new approach to history that was developed in the secular world. The change was labeled "New Mormon History." You can read a good summary on wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Mormon_history

The New Mormon History has both positive and negative elements. Perhaps the most negative is the way the New Mormon Historians substituted a "new" consensus interpretation to replace the "old" consensus interpretation. Basically, they revised Church history in such as way as to undermine the credibility and reliability of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, particularly on the translation and historicity of the Book of Mormon, including Cumorah.

Because the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion, we'll look more in upcoming days at the impact of the New Mormon History, which includes M2C and SITH. 


Thursday, May 19, 2022

Clarifying Church history and Church growth

Issues of Church history and Book of Mormon historicity involve a combination of historical facts, assumptions, interpretations, theories and hypotheses. Apart from the facts, these elements are highly subjective. 

Some people embrace the concept of multiple working hypotheses; i.e., they recognize there are multiple ways to interpret a given set of historical facts. They set out the facts and then explain how they derived their hypotheses so everyone can see them and make informed decisions. That's the ideal approach. It's what most people want. We want to make informed decisions and don't want people to hide or obscure or twist historical facts and related evidence.

However, critics and apologists tend to orbit their respective spheres of groupthink. They advance their respective beliefs, hoping to persuade others.

This leads many such advocates to focus more on persuasion than on explanation. 

For example, MormonStories has repeatedly cited informal comments made years ago by Richard Bushman about Church history. Richard is one of the most open and forthright LDS scholars. He is open to multiple working hypotheses.

In a recent interview on Gospel Tangents, Richard clarified (again) what he meant and asked these critics to stop misrepresenting what he said. 

I discussed this interview on my blog that reviews MormonStories, here:

https://mormonstoriesreviewed.blogspot.com/2022/05/richard-bushman-clarifies-his-comments.html

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In my book about the golden plates, I wrote this:

How do we know the history of the Church?

We are fortunate to have lots of records, including journals, documents, correspondence, newspaper reports, and official histories. But none of these tells a complete story unless put in context, which introduces subjectivity....

The evidence is ambiguous or even contradictory, and we end up with multiple theories about what happened and why. 

The ideal approach would be for everyone to agree on the facts, then state their assumptions, explain their interpretations, describe their theories (explanations), and finally articulate their hypotheses. (This is the FAITH model I discuss in my book, The Rational Restoration, out soon).

Critics and apologists alike ought to trust people to make informed decisions. If they did, they would adopt the multiple working hypotheses approach. Everyone should be able to agree on objective facts. Then we can each assess the extrinsic evidence by applying the FAITH model.

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Separately, the always useful blog LDSchurchgrowth posted its April 2022 newsletter here:

https://ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com/2022/05/april-2022-monthly-newsletter.html 

He also did an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, here:

‘Mormon Land’: How, where and why LDS membership is booming in some places and shrinking in others (sltrib.com)

Monday, May 16, 2022

New readers and various topics

There are many new readers of this blog, so I'm reviewing a few topics today.

Cumorah circa 2022. Update on the changes at the Hill Cumorah near Palmyra, New York. 

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Witnesses movie. People ask what I think about the Witnesses movie from the Interpreter Foundation. I wrote my review last summer, which is here:


Summary: Witnesses is a movie that E.D. Howe would have made, or at least admired, because he basically wrote the script in 1834.

[Note: E.D. Howe wrote the 1834 book Mormonism Unvailed which discussed SITH (the stone-in-the-hat theory) just the way Witnesses portrays--except Howe ridiculed the idea, while Witnesses portrays it as historical fact.]

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Book of Mormon decision tree. Lots of people, both LDS and otherwise, wonder about Book of Mormon geography. Here's a decision tree that is easy to follow.

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Topic pages. The sidebar on this blog includes several topic pages, including these:

Acronyms used in this blog
Answers to common M2C claims
Oliver was truthful except...
The Two Sets of Plates schematic
A/B test on explaining Cumorah
Confirmation bias and evidence
Delusion of forming opinions based on "the evidenc...
Where bias originates
Curing confirmation bias
Tolstoy on M2C and SITH
Translation theories summary
Video summary of SITH and New Mormon History

I added a new one on the Wentworth letter, here:


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Museum of the Book of Mormon (MOBOM)

There are innumerable websites that discuss the Book of Mormon. Most take one approach, whether faithful or critical. Within each category, there is a wide range of belief and advocacy.  

MOBOM is intended to be an online museum that simply presents facts for consideration. The overall editorial approach is that the Book of Mormon is for the entire world, regardless of one's religious beliefs or background. While MOBOM has a generally faithful approach, it also recognizes critical perspectives. 

It's a work in progress with frequent additions and revisions. 


Friday, May 13, 2022

Burying M2C along with Benjamin Winchester

Six years ago, I discussed an error in the editorial content in the Joseph Smith Papers. 

Here's the gist. In his 1840 pamphlet, Orson Pratt speculated about a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon. 

In the Wentworth letter, Joseph adopted much of Orson's explanation, but he specifically deleted Orson's speculation about Central America.

Instead, Joseph explained that, contrary to what Orson wrote, "The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country."

Most Latter-day Saints today don't know that Joseph wrote that in the Wentworth letter because that passage was deleted from the lesson manual Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith

It was also omitted from the Saints book and other curriculum.

As I've pointed out before, when Joseph wrote the Wentworth letter, he started by writing "As Mr. Bastow has taken the proper steps to obtain correct information all that I shall ask at his hands, is, that he publish the account entire, ungarnished, and without misrepresentation."

It turns out, Joseph didn't need to worry about Mr. Bastow.

It is the Curriculum Department, the Correlation Department, and the Church History Department that have refused to "publish the account entire, ungarnished and without misrepresentation."

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Here was my original post:

https://www.bookofmormoncentralamerica.com/2016/08/error-in-joseph-smith-papers.html

When I wrote that comment, I cited the printed book. Here's a link to the online comment now, which retains the errors I discussed:

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/appendix-orson-pratt-an-interesting-account-of-several-remarkable-visions-1840/1#historical-intro

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Two years ago I visited Benjamin Winchester's grave in Iowa. I wrote about it here:

https://www.bookofmormoncentralamerica.com/2020/05/visit-to-benjamin-winchesters-grave.html

Winchester's legacy endures.

We'd all be better off if our M2C scholars would bury M2C...

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Intellectual wrecking crews

This reminded me of our LDS intellectuals who teach M2C and SITH.


The more I study the history of intellectuals, the more they seem like a wrecking crew, dismantling civilization bit by bit — replacing what works with what sounds good.