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.

Friday, October 2, 2020

How to Zion

Yesterday I mentioned my pivot to my favorite topic: the establishment of Zion.

Readers here know that I've lived and worked and traveled all over the world. I've worked with and lived among people of many religions, languages, cultures, ethnicities, etc. Among them are all sorts of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

People everywhere (not just Americans or Latter-day Saints) yearn for the fulfillment of the powerful words, 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, 

that all men are created equal, 

that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, 

that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

The U.S. Constitution was a major step toward the realization of that aspiration, but it is inadequate. Other countries have developed systems for their respective cultures that also work, more or less, but all are inadequate. Societies everywhere have serious problems, and while in many respects live keeps getting better around the world, the same human weaknesses lead to the same social, economic, and moral failures.

What people everywhere seek is what Zion promises. But, as Joseph Smith taught, "they know not where to find it." (Doctrine and Covenants 123:12)


Most Latter-day Saints seek to establish Zion, one way or another. The Church has set up an awesome process that leads toward perfecting the Saints, but the concept of Zion seems a little vague. 

What Zion is and how it can be achieved is not vague at all in the scriptures and in the teachings of the prophets. Maybe we all know what we should do but just don't know how to do it. Or we don't have enough faith to do it.

That will be the focus on my new blog, https://howtozion.blogspot.com/ 

I decided to name the blog "How to Zion" because while Zion is both a place and a people, it ought to be a verb. "How to" books are a major category in the publishing field for a good reason. People want to know "how to" do lots of things.

A lot of people want to know how to establish Zion. By making it a verb, I hope to focus on action instead of theory.


It seems obvious to me that one of the impediments to the establishment of Zion is disunity among the Latter-day Saints on certain topics. There are some LDS who accept what the prophets have taught, some who reject what the prophets have taught, and some who don't care or know what the prophets have taught. (And some who claim the prophets never taught what they actually taught.)

As readers here know, I have spent a lot of time in the last few years on topics of Book of Mormon geography and Church history. This was partly a result of my long-term interest in these topics, and partly an experiment to understand the psychology of LDS apologists.

After years of following the debates, I got involved publicly because of what I saw as abuse by the credentialed class of other faithful Latter-day Saints. 

LDS apologetics have a well-deserved reputation for abrasiveness and counterproductivity. One survey of former LDS pointed to these apologetics backfiring as one of the reasons they left. For years I watched the type of rhetoric and tactics employed by well-known LDS apologists and I was curious how they would respond to a faithful alternative to their theories. 

The results are now obvious to everyone. (My book on LDS apologetics will come out early next year.) 

My overall objective was to see if it was possible to develop an approach that corroborates and supports the teachings of the prophets. I think the answer is yes. Many Church members find this approach useful.

In some cases, my approach challenges or contradicts the scholarly consensus. As I've explained in recent posts, much of what passes for "evidence based" scholarly study and publication in these areas is merely bias confirmation. That's why, to many Latter-day Saints and to people throughout the world,  it is both unpersuasive and unattractive.

An alternative to the illusory "evidence based" approached borrowed from academia, a faithful approach starts with the teachings of the prophets and finds evidence to support and corroborate those teachings. 

In my view, the only "way to Zion" is to accept the teachings of the prophets and unify behind them. 

Others disagree, and that's fine. We all make our own decisions and believe whatever we want. To me, none of this is personal. I sincerely like and respect everyone involved with these topics, regardless of what they think. 


As I pivot toward a focus on how to Zion, I invite readers to subscribe to the new web page and engage in the topics. 


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