I updated my post about Mormonism Unvailed to include some references to the works of the SITH-saying Interpreters.
President Nelson taught, "Good inspiration is based upon good information." In this blog, we share good information from original sources. Many Latter-day Saints still believe what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah. This blog discusses corroborating evidence. We support the Church's policy of neutrality regarding Book of Mormon geography and other issues. That policy promotes unity by recognizing multiple working hypotheses. We encourage all interested parties to do the same.
I updated my post about Mormonism Unvailed to include some references to the works of the SITH-saying Interpreters.
In the last 3 weeks, we visited a dozen countries in Eastern Europe. We visited missionaries and branches of the Church in most of those countries. Lots of interesting things to discuss, obviously, but in this post I'll mention a famous painting that is still in use in Romania.
The 1999 painting by Simon Dewey was on the cover of the Ensign in February, 2001.
This painting was featured in an article by Jana Riess about the shift away from the Urim and Thummim toward the stone-in-the-hat (SITH) narrative. Her caption to the photo claims
In her article, she cited "a Gospel Topics essay on the issue in December 2013 that conceded that:
1. Joseph Smith also used his seer stone to seek buried treasure, and
2. He translated much of the Book of Mormon by placing the seer stone in a hat to block out the ambient light, then proceeded to simply recite whatever words appeared on the stone."
It's clever rhetoric to frame these claims as a "concession," but the so-called "concession" directly contradicts what Joseph and Oliver themselves said.
Which is no surprise because the Gospel Topics Essay itself never quotes what Joseph and Oliver said, except for a misleading, truncated quotation, as I've discussed before.
The SITH narrative as taught by Dan Peterson, Jack Welch, and other LDS scholars, was first articulated in Mormonism Unvailed back in 1834.
The translation finally commenced. They were found to contain a language not now known upon the earth, which they termed "reformed Egyptian characters." The plates, therefore, which had been so much talked of, were found to be of no manner of use. After all, the Lord showed and communicated to him every word and letter of the Book. Instead of looking at the characters inscribed upon the plates, the prophet was obliged to resort to the old ''peep stone," which he formerly used in money-digging. This he placed in a hat, or box, into which he also thrust his face. Through the stone he could then discover a single word at a time, which he repeated aloud to his amanuensis, who committed it to paper, when another word would immediately appear, and thus the performance continued to the end of the book.
Notice that, apart from the term "old 'peep stone'," this description from Mormonism Unvailed is essentially what the Interpreters advocate today. Dan Peterson even made a movie teaching this to the world.
In response to the SITH narrative, Joseph and Oliver both denounced Mormonism Unvailed and explained clearly and unambiguously that Joseph translated the plates with the Urim and Thummim that came with the plates--not with any seer stone.
Jonathan Turley has an excellent piece about the "state media" and the blackout on Biden corruption.
The entire article is worth reading. Excerpt:
Despite showing nine Biden family members allegedly receiving funds from corrupt figures in Romania, China and other countries, The New Republic quickly ran a story headlined “Republicans Finally Admit They Have No Incriminating Evidence on Joe Biden.”
For many of us, it was otherworldly. A decade ago, when then-Vice President Joe Biden was denouncing corruption in Romania and Ukraine and promising action by the United States, massive payments were flowing to his son Hunter Biden and a variety of family members, including Biden grandchildren.
This reminds me of the citation cartels because they also refuse to cover the stories about M2C and SITH, as I've discussed many times on this blog. Naturally, the same Interpreters wrote the anonymous content in the Gospel Topics Essays and the Saints books. Then they use the material they wrote to convert their theories and interpretations into official Church doctrine by attributing their agenda to Church leaders.
Think about the reality that the Gospel Topics Essay on Book of Mormon Translation never even quotes (or cites) what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery said about the translation?
Or that the Saints book censored all original historical sources about Cumorah?
It's no wonder that so many Latter-day Saints are confused and disturbed in their faith.
People have been asking about my current trip through Eastern Europe. I've posted a few times on Facebook if you're interested.
I use Facebook for items of personal interest unrelated to religious or other topics.
But I do recognize the relevance of Eastern Europe to some of the topics I cover on this blog, such as here:
It's quite the phenomenon that the Albanians and Macedonians can share a meal but our M2C and SITH apologists refuse to even have a lunch with Heartlanders...
The joys of dealing with LDS apologists...
I've been in several of these in recent years.
During this meeting, one brother brought up the point that all of his grandchildren were returned missionaries who married in the temple but who had recently left the Church, claiming the Church had lied about its history.
Others reported similar experiences in their families for the same reasons.
The reality, IMO, is not that the Church has lied about its history.
It's that critics and LDS scholars alike are changing the narratives to make it appear that the Church has lied, when all along the Church was honest and truthful.
The narrative behind this faith crisis is that Joseph Smith never really translated the plates but instead read words that appeared on the stone in the hat (SITH).
That's the narrative promoted by the CES Letter, Mormon Stories, as well as by FAIRLDS, Book of Mormon Central, and the Interpreter.
Thanks to these organizations, the rising generation doesn't have a fair chance.
Even older generations are confused and disturbed in their faith. They know that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery both repeatedly claimed that Joseph translated the plates by means of the Urim and Thummim that came with the plates.
But thanks to the SITH-sayers, the rising generation never learns what Joseph and Oliver claimed.
The rising generation, like everyone else, would benefit from being taught the truth, directly from Joseph and Oliver.
Instead, they get a steady diet of David Whitmer's SITH claims. And if they look up the references provided by the SITH-sayers, they learn that David also claimed lots of other things that contradict what Joseph and Oliver claimed, including the restoration of the Priesthood.
The SITH narrative follows the same trajectory as the M2C narrative. The LDS Interpreters decide that what Joseph and Oliver taught is not credible, so it was merely their opinion, so the Interpreters, by virtue of their superior credentials and collective wisdom, decide what the truth is and enforce their interpretations.
And if anyone dares to talk about what Joseph and Oliver actually said, our own LDS Interpreters are on the lookout to attack.
|Lake Bled, Slovenia|
I've discussed the futility of contention before. I'm hopeful that the approach of seeking clarity and understanding instead of compliance and conformity will help to eliminate contention.
Recently there have been some promising steps in that direction, as I've discussed on the NoMoreContention blog.
In the interest of clarity, I've posted reviews of some of the major contention generating websites, including the following. Always lots more work to do, but at least here's a start.
For clarity and understanding purposes, I've revised my three classifications.
Believe what Joseph and Oliver claimed
Believe what Joseph and Oliver claimed about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon
Believe some, but not all, of what Joseph and Oliver claimed about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon
Disbelieve what Joseph and Oliver claimed about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon
I had a delightful conversation with the Backyard Professor, Kerry Shirts, recently. The video is here:
Among other things, we discussed the No More Contention website (https://nomorecontention.blogspot.com/).
Both of us find this approach of seeking understanding and clarity far more enjoyable and productive than the old model of apologists and critics arguing over stuff, playing gatekeepers, and all the other shenanigans we saw in the Peter Pan fiasco.
At one point, we gave an example of how we completely disagree about a specific topic (a short video by President Oaks), but by discussing our different perspectives we gained a better understanding of one another with zero animosity, offense, defensiveness, etc.
Some of the Interpreters even object to the NoMoreContention page!
I mentioned that some of the Interpreters had objected that I went on Kerry's channel in the first place and also objected that on this blog I had included a link to Bill Reel's video about Peter Pan. They "warned" me against these critics, saying they would use me to attack the Church somehow.
I pointed out that none of the Interpreters have ever invited me to be on their podcasts or radio shows, although they have discussed me there. They've never invited me to speak at any of their events or even to their small groups.
By contrast, Heartlanders have invited some of the Interpreters to speak at their conference. Heartlanders are interested in understanding other points of view. They are interested in clarity. They recognize the value of multiple working hypotheses that help people make informed decisions.
The Interpreters reject all of these values. They don't want their audiences to know what I actually think. Instead, they filter and misrepresent what I've said and written to keep their audiences and followers in line with their M2C and SITH agendas.
It's pathetic, really. I can't tell whether the Interpreters don't trust their audiences or they are so insecure about their own beliefs that they have to control the narrative. Probably a combination.
But it doesn't matter anyway. Thanks to the Peter Pan disaster that Dan Peterson promoted so heavily, fair-minded people, regardless of their beliefs, can see that the Interpreters' brand of apologetics is unpersuasive, uncharitable, and undesirable.
Worse, it does nothing for clarity and mutual understanding.
I look forward to more conversations based on No More Contention.
I hope some of the Interpreters will join the effort. It would be a welcome change in direction.
But meanwhile, we'll keep moving forward in a positive direction toward unity in diversity, mutual understanding, clarity, and finding common ground wherever we can as we all strive to make the world a better place and contribute to the progress of the Restoration and all that entails.
To clarify some confusion that exists, when I refer to people (not the Urim and Thummim) as Interpreters, I'm not referring to everyone who proposes interpretations of Church history, the Book of Mormon, the teachings of the prophets, etc. Quite the opposite.
Everyone has the right and responsibility to do study and interpret for themselves, as the scriptures, Church leaders (and common sense) explain.
The term Interpreters as applied to individuals is also not pejorative, argumentative or contentious. It is merely descriptive. I use the term Interpreters to promote clarity and understanding, not to generate controversy or argument. It is an easy shorthand way to describe the underlying philosophy and agenda of those who fit the description.
I use the term Interpreters to designate a mentality or worldview shared by those who claim the privilege of interpreting for others and acting as gatekeepers based on their claims of superior knowledge by virtue of their credentials, their good intentions, their allegiance to consensus, and (in some cases) their positions of employment in positions of trust (such as teaching at BYU or for CES).*
Thus, the term Interpreters is not contentious, but their approach to apologetics is inherently contentious.
Although the term originated with the Interpreter Foundation, it does not refer to everyone associated with that organization and is not limited to those associated with that organization. Nor does it apply to everyone involved with the Book of Mormon Central, FAIRLDS, or any other group.
This graphic explains the concept.
Interpreters are found within these organizations (especially at the leadership and editorship levels), but many people affiliated with them are not Interpreters.
For example, Book of Mormon Central hosts many Interpreters.
Here is an outstanding example of the Interpreter mentality embedded in the title of a Kno-Why:
How Are Oliver Cowdery’s Messenger and Advocate Letters to Be Understood and Used?
The article, which is replete with misdirection and errors, purports to tell the world how to understand and use the teachings of a member of the First Presidency, actually the Assistant President of the Church, Oliver Cowdery.
The audacity of the anonymous authors of this piece is breathtaking.
That's what makes them Interpreters. And, naturally, the article features the M2C logo, the telltale sign that the article will do everything possible to promote and defend M2C at the expense of accuracy and reason.
The opposite approach is encouraging people to make informed decisions for themselves, based on good information and consideration of multiple working hypotheses. As President Nelson has taught, "good inspiration is based upon good information."
Gatekeeping organizations such as the Interpreter, Book of Mormon Central, and FAIRLDS oppose presenting a variety of faithful interpretations. That's what makes them organizational Interpreters.
At NoMoreContention.com, we will use examples of the Interpreter mentality to demonstrate a better way to avoid and eliminate contention for the benefit of everyone.
*Obviously this does not mean duly called and sustained Church officers acting within the scope of their responsibilities.