To avoid getting on a hobby horse, I always keep in mind what Joseph Smith said in 1839.
"We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object."
We used to talk about the three missions of the Church. Then President Monson added a fourth. I've suggested a fifth mission that incorporates the other four. The fifth mission--the establishment of Zion--is a cause that people throughout the world aspire to. They just don't know how to do it or where to find it if it exists.
In that same 1839 sermon, Joseph said, "When wars come we shall have to flee to Zion, the cry is to make haste. The last revelation says ye shall not have time to have gone over the earth until these things come. I will come as did the cholera, war and fires, burning, earthquakes, one pestilence after another &c until the Ancient of Days come, then judgment will be given to the Saints."
That passage seems pertinent to the present day, doesn't it?
The establishment of Zion requires a firm foundation. The hymn to that effect, which was included in the 1835 hymnal, includes this stanza:
"What more can he say than to you he hath said?"
In my view, "he hath said" plenty regarding the translation and historicity of the Book of Mormon, but certain scholars, along with their employees and their followers, have largely rejected those teachings in favor of their own theories. And that is fine--everyone can believe whatever they want--so long as they don't impose their opinions on others or withhold important facts necessary to make informed decisions.
Related to the establishment of Zion, I think of an agenda item in a meeting of the High Council in Far West in 1837: "8. Shall any intelligence relative to the building up of Zion be withheld from the Council of Zion."
My purpose in writing these blogs is to compensate for the withholding of "intelligence relative to the building up of Zion." In my view, members of the Church cannot make informed decisions about the foundation of the Church--Church history and the historicity of the Book of Mormon--because critical, relevant information is being withheld.
Today I'll use the Gospel Topics Essay on Translation as an example. It is relevant to this blog because SITH--the stone in the hat theory--is the intellectual progeny of M2C, as we've discussed before.
Two quotations to frame the problem.
Old Soviet dissident saying: the future is known, it's the past that is always changing.
Unknown origin, but frequently cited
Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.
Lately there has been a lot of focus on the translation. The Gospel Topics Essay is at the core, so I'll start there.
The following is my review of the Gospel Topics Essay on Translation. It's in the appendix of the second edition of my book titled A Man that Can Translate: Joseph Smith and the Nephite Interpreters. In the book I propose a revised essay, but we can't see the need for a revision until we see the problems with the existing one.
On this blog, the original essay is shown in blue. I've retained the original footnotes but renumbered them to incorporate my own footnotes. My comments are subject to revision as I get more input and information, so I welcome comments (email to firstname.lastname@example.org).