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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

The Times and Seasons in Nauvoo

Yesterday we were in Nauvoo. I attended the commemoration ceremony at the graves of Joseph, Hyrum and Emma. It was a wonderful event with lots of period music and other presentations.

While there, I spent some time with Paul DeBarthe, an archaeologist who is part of the team at idignauvoo.


Paul has done some awesome work on Nauvoo. We visited several sites, including the Times and Seasons site at the corner of Bain and Water streets. He explained the latest findings that I don't have time to write about here, but I'll discuss in upcoming podcasts and presentations.

Here's a photo showing some of the discoveries from the latest dig:

This visit to Nauvoo reminded me of previous visits, as well as the Benjamin Winchester saga I wrote about many years ago. 


Some of the M2Cers are still going around telling people that Joseph Smith wrote the anonymous 1842 Times and Seasons articles that claimed ruins in Central America were left by Nephites. Hard to imagine that anyone still believes that, but people can believe whatever they want.

Of course, none of those articles repudiated the New York Cumorah. Letter VII was published in the Times and Seasons in 1841, and in D&C 128:20 Joseph explained that Moroni identified the hill as Cumorah before he even got the plates, but our M2Cers nevertheless reject the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah.

And that's fine--so long as they are clear about what they believe and teach!


Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Cumorah Academy

One bright spot of the Church in Eastern Europe is the Cumorah Academy.

The Cumorah Academy is located in the countryside south of Prague. We visited in May and were very impressed with everything going on there. If any readers here know people in Europe, encourage participation with this group.

I warmly applaud efforts such as this to bring positive, uplifting and enabling education to Latter-day Saints everywhere.

Here is a banner from their website. (click to enlarge)

We heard President Nelson teach this concept when we attended his regional conference in Singapore in 2019.

Monday, June 26, 2023

LDS mental health and M2C/SITH

In the pursuit of clarity, charity and understanding, let's look at the real-world impact of M2C and SITH (see definitions of acronyms here).

[See also https://nomorecontention.blogspot.com/2023/06/no-more-contention-over-book-of-mormon.html]

An article in the Deseret News discusses mental health among Latter-day Saints.


The article doesn't mention cognitive dissonance per se, but we all know it's a common psychological issue.

Among Latter-day Saints, one area of cognitive dissonance involves the all/some/none approach toward the teachings of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. 

Those who accept all or none of what they taught avoid cognitive dissonance.

But those who accept only some of what they taught exhibit cognitive dissonance, as we see among those promoting SITH and M2C.

We've looked at many examples of this M2C/SITH cognitive dissonance on this blog, but the biggest "tell" is how Book of Mormon Central continues to promote M2C exclusively, based on their adamant insistence that Joseph and Oliver (and their contemporaries and successors) were all "wrong" about the New York Cumorah.

Here's their Spanish-language website promoting M2C:


They wouldn't dare publish this in English because then all their rich American donors would realize how directly Book of Mormon Central rejects the Church's position of neutrality about geography.

Think of the degree of cognitive dissonance BMC exhibits when they post things in Spanish that they would never post in English. 

But they did once offer a cruise in support of M2C...


Thursday, June 15, 2023

Meso in Romania

We passed a "Meso" restaurant in Oradea, Romania. 

All the M2Cers would flock to it, no doubt.


Actually, this is part of a restaurant chain named "Mesopotamia."

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Photo of Joseph Smith

On a different topic, there is a fascinating podcast on Mormon Book Reviews about the locket. Check it out.


Monday, June 12, 2023

SITH analysis update

Because we'll be discussing SITH some more, I provided an updated version of my analysis of the Gospel Topics Essay on Book of Mormon Translation, now with numbered paragraphs, which you can access through this easy link.

The direct link is here:

This way, people can refer to specific paragraphs of the essay when we discuss the topic.


Friday, June 9, 2023

Glad tidings from Cumorah: then and now

I proposed a way to achieve "no more contention" about Book of Mormon geography by pursuing clarity, charity and understanding. Check it out.



Obviously, a major factor relating to the Book of Mormon is the location of Cumorah/Ramah. Some of us think it is in western New York. Some think it is anywhere other than New York. And some people don't care, whether because they think Cumorah is fictional, they don't care about the geography, they don't have time to think about it, or they don't want to deal with the cognitive dissonance (or any other reason). And that's all fine.

On this blog, we're focused on clarity, charity and understanding why there are differences of opinion.

Those who reject the New York Cumorah argue that the identification of the hill in New York as Cumorah did not originate with revelation (or personal experience), but instead was an assumption with murky origins that became widely accepted.

I've pointed out that Lucy Mack Smith specifically stated it was Moroni who identified the hill as Cumorah when he first met Joseph Smith, that other historical records corroborate this, and that this explanation is the most parsimonious and coherent.

Plus, I think Joseph reaffirmed this when he wrote the letter that became D&C 128, including verse 20.

20 And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets—the book to be revealed. 

(Doctrine and Covenants 128:20)

Here we see that Moroni declared "glad tidings from Cumorah" even before the book was revealed, exactly as Lucy Mack Smith reported.

I wrote an article about D&C 128:20 that was published in the June issue of Wayne May's magazine Land of Promise: Uncovering Ancient America (Vol. 1:2, June 2023). Those who have subscribed to his magazine can read it there, along with two of my paintings that illustrate some of the points.

I uploaded a version of it for general audiences here:


All that said, I'm fine with people who choose to disbelieve that Cumorah/Ramah is in New York. I've tried to accurately represent their views in my publications, including the table I mentioned at the outside of this post.

If anyone has suggestions for clarification and improved accuracy, email me at lostzarahemla@gmail.com and I'll incorporate them.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Delmarva and multiple working hypotheses

There's another model of Book of Mormon geography to consider: the Delmarva theory. 

Delmarva stands for Delaware, Maryland, Virginia. You can read an explanation here:

This theory recognizes Cumorah in New York, so it already makes more sense than all the models that claim Joseph and Oliver were wrong about Cumorah. 

(click to enlarge)

While there is a lot to like with the Delmarva model, I think it lacks some attributes I would like to see, but that doesn't matter. I'm adding the Delmarva model to the list of possibilities--the multiple working hypotheses--that corroborate what Joseph and Oliver taught about the New York Cumorah.

To learn more about the Delmarva model, watch the interviews on Gospel Tangents.


I like the Delmarva approach because it's based in the real world. The creators did not resort to the foolishness of starting with an abstract map based on the text.

I've previously discussed the futility of creating abstract maps because the text is vague and subject to innumerable interpretations.

I've also pointed out that the BYU abstract map is worse than no map at all, not only because it is based on the M2C interpretations, but because it frames the Book of Mormon as fictional.

I'm glad to see more people using real-world settings to understand the Book of Mormon. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

M2C clarification needed: Ancient treaty AD 353

In the interests of clarity, charity and understanding (http://nomorecontention.com/), from time to time we'll help the M2Cers clarify their positions.

The M2C proponents continue to find "parallels" or "correspondences" to make the narrative of the Book of Mormon "fit" the Mesoamerican setting. But they omit their underlying premise. They want their readers/followers to think past the sale.

Here's a recent one from Kirk Magleby (a great guy):

Ancient Treaty AD 353
Abstract: An alliance celebrated on February 26, AD 353 at the Maya site of Tortuguero in modern Tabasco may be the same treaty the Nephites entered into with the Lamanites and the Gadianton robbers ca. AD 350 as recorded in Mormon 2:28.

Kirk's explanation is fairly detailed, and he helpfully acknowledges his theory is based on a series of if/then conditionals, but he left out the key point that needs clarification.

Kirk and the other M2Cers claim they follow the text of the Book of Mormon. 

Of course, everyone who proposes a setting for the Book of Mormon events also claims to be following the text. Because the text is vague and subject to a variety of interpretations, people reach a variety of conclusions. (I call this multiple working hypotheses.)

There's one big problem for M2Cers that they should clarify every time they articulate one of their M2C "correspondences." 

The text never mentions Mesoamerica. 

The text doesn't mention America at all. It doesn't even mention the western hemisphere.

Clarification point: to justify their focus on Mesoamerica, the M2Cers have to start by going outside the text!

But that contradicts their claim that they rely on the text.

M2Cers justify going outside the text by relying on the teachings of the prophets about America--and the anonymous articles in the 1842 Times and Seasons about Central America.

But they simultaneously reject the teachings of those same prophets regarding the hill Cumorah!

M2Cers fit into the all/some/none paradigm this way:

Relative acceptance of what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery taught: America and Cumorah/Ramah




1. It is a fact that Book of Mormon events took place in America

2. It is a fact that Cumorah/Ramah is in western New York

1. It is a fact that Book of Mormon events took place in America

2. But it is not a fact that Cumorah/Ramah is not in western New York

1. Book of Mormon events did not take place in America (or anywhere else)

2. Cumorah/Ramah is not in western New York (or anywhere else)

The ALL and NONE positions are logical and consistent. The SOME position is purely and obviously bias confirmation. 

When looking for parallels and correspondences, we can find some all over the world.

I've previously pointed out that features such as a "narrow neck of land," a "small neck of land," and a "narrow neck" are ubiquitous. George Washington referred to several in the New York/Boston area. It would be difficult to find an area anywhere in the world that did not feature a neck of land or water.

The prevalence of political alliances and wars and treaties is also ubiquitous. Looking at circa 350 AD, for example, the Varman dynasty in India was founded. The Jin imperial dynasty retreated south of the River Huai, leaving the north to other kingdoms (presumably by agreement or treaty). European history is a series of alliances and treaties. 

Oddly, the site of Tortuguero is an unlikely place for a treaty giving the Nephites "the land northward" because from Tortuguero, the "land northward" is a small sliver bordering the Gulf of Mexico.

It's also one of the few places in the world where you'd be hard pressed to find a "narrow neck" of any sort.

But this is all fine. M2Cers can believe whatever they want.

They just need to clarify the inconsistency of (i) focusing on Mesoamerica because of anonymous articles in the Times and Seasons, while (ii) rejecting the explicit declaration from the prophets that it is a fact that Cumorah/Ramah is in New York.


Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Church history issues - resources

Because of the number and variety of questions people ask, I've collected several resources about Church history into one place on the mobom site (Museum of the Book of Mormon). Here's the link:


I add more from time to time as people pose questions and offer comments.

Monday, June 5, 2023

David Whitmer: SITH and M2C

In the pursuit of clarity and understanding, we'll use this format when we discuss issues related to the Book of Mormon.

Relative acceptance of what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery taught: Cumorah/Ramah




Cumorah/Ramah is in western New York

Cumorah/Ramah is in Mesoamerica (or anyplace in the world other than New York)

Cumorah/Ramah doesn’t exist because it’s fictional

As always, see this link for explanation of acronyms (SITH and M2C).



By now, readers here know that the current iteration of SITH (the stone-in-the-hat theory) was first set out in Mormonism Unvailed in 1834. Decades later, David Whitmer related SITH in various interviews, as well as his booklet An Address to All Believers in Christ.*

Now it turns out that Whitmer also has a connection to M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory). 

A few decades after David died, the Whitmerite church published an edition of the Book of Mormon that included the M2C maps first published by RLDS scholar L.E. Hills.

You can see a video presentation about this here:


This means the Whitmerite edition of the Book of Mormon was the first edition to publish an M2C map.

This was about 100 years ago, long before John Sorenson, Jack Welch, and Dan Peterson published their own derivative articles and maps.

For a modern version of the Hills M2C map, go to BYU Studies and look at the map published there by Jack Welch.


Needless to say, Jack Welch gave Hills no credit for developing M2C (although he did mention him once in a presentation, so he knew about Hills).

Most of the M2C believers know nothing about L.E. Hills. Even Dan recently claimed he'd never heard of him, as if Dan was oblivious to what his associates Jack and John were publishing at FARMS.

When he published his Source Book, John Sorenson at least recognized Hills as the first to put Cumorah in Mesoamerica.

Now, a handful of influential LDS scholars/academics (the Interpreters) have embraced the L.E. Hills map as the foundation for the theories they spend millions of dollars promoting through Book of Mormon Central.

Here is the L.E. Hills map showing Cumorah in southern Mexico:

Here is the Jack Welch map from BYU Studies, which moved Cumorah a little east and claimed this was all based on extensive research by BYU experts.

And here's how Book of Mormon Central currently portrays Cumorah to Spanish-language readers and followers:



* It's strange to see so many modern LDS scholars embrace David Whitmer's account of SITH on its face, especially because they have to reject what Joseph and Oliver said to accept Whitmer's account. 

Here is the passage that modern SITH scholars quote as accurate:

I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat. and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man


The SITH sayers quote this passage, but they don't tell their followers about the rest of the claims David made in this pamphlet, such as his claim that Joseph was not called to establish the church.

Now I hope you understand me. I am not persecuting Brother Joseph, and never did persecute him. Because he erred is no reason why I should not love him. God called him to translate his sacred word by the power and gift of God; but he was not called to set up and establish the church any more thin any of us Elders were. This I will prove conclusively later on, from evidence which you are bound to accept.


David wrote lots of things about Joseph Smith that the faithful SITH sayers reject.

Remember this matter brethren ; it is very important. Farther on I will give you references of scripture on this point, showing that this is God's way of dealing with His people. Now is it wisdom to put your trust in Joseph Smith, and believe all his revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants to be of God ? Every one who does not desire to be of Paul, or of Apollos, or of Joseph, but desires to be of Christ will say that it is not wisdom to put our trust in him and believe his revelations as if from God's own mouth I I will say here, that I could tell you other false revelations that came through Brother Joseph as mouthpiece, (not through the stone) but this will suffice. Many of Brother Joseph's revelations were never printed.


Friday, June 2, 2023

Awe of credentials? Mike Parker and Gerrit Dirkmaat

It was nice spending 3 weeks in Eastern Europe, far from the contention emanating from LDS apologists in Utah. However, when I was in Europe, someone sent me a screenshot of a post by Mike Parker.* 

Because I favor recognition of multiple working hypotheses and I seek clarity and understanding, I've taken a few moments here to address the points Mike raised.

Mike's post may offer an explanation for everything he's written.

Basically, he's in awe of credentials. 

Understanding this may help defuse some of the contention as we seek "no more contention."

And this episode helps us understand how and why some Church historians manipulate the historical evidence to promote their own narratives instead of helping Latter-day Saints understand the complete historical record.

(*Mike Parker is aka Peter Pan (the boy who doesn't grow up), aka Richard Nygren (the racist, fake Black apologist)


In his post, Mike promotes a podcast by Gerrit Dirkmaat called "The Standard of Truth." Mike explains that Gerrit "has a PhD in American history and worked on the Joseph Smith Papers Project as a historian and writer." 

These are valid, relevant credentials. And Gerrit is undoubtedly a fine scholar, a faithful Latter-day Saint who is exemplary and articulate. But lots of people have lots of credentials, and they are just as prone to differences of opinion, confirmation bias, and cognitive dissonance as anyone else.

In my view, Mike Parker's awe of credentials has led him (and other like-minded M2C/SITH* proponents) to suspend rational thought in deference to the scholars he so admires. 

*for an explanation of acronyms, see 



The credentialed class (the "Interpreters") encourage this type of deference. They get paid for their expertise, after all. And no doubt, some people seem to feel "smart" by agreeing with and parroting experts. 

The logical fallacy, of course, is that when we defer to credentialed experts, we're merely confirming our own biases by choosing which experts to follow. As any trial lawyer knows, there are experts on every side of most issues. That's why lawyers can hire experts to support either side of a case.

Mike Parker has chosen to follow the experts who confirm his biases. Nothing wrong with that; we all rely on experts in areas we don't have time to pursue ourselves. 

And, as I've explained before, I used to do the same thing. I used to follow the FARMS publications. I thought Jack Welch and Dan Peterson were awesome. Too busy with life to do my own research, I deferred to them because I thought they were open and honest and dependable. So I'm empathetic with Mike Parker and the other Interpreters.

Mike's post helped me realize that for some people it is important to cling to their experts. This is why he gets offended on their behalf and spends so much time trying to defend them. 

But at some point, people should accept responsibility by making informed decisions instead of relying on an expert who confirms their bias.

When they become disillusioned upon realizing how Jack, Dan and other apologists promote agendas, some people lose their faith and become critics. 

Others (like me) take another look at the evidence and discover a different narrative that is more faith-affirming than what Jack and Dan promoted. Obviously, this is all subjective; we can all reach different conclusions based on the same evidence. But that is why, IMO, it's important to recognize multiple working hypotheses and why it is inexcusable for Jack and Dan to refuse to do so.

By now, everyone interested in these issues can see that the Interpreters are promoting an agenda that consists, apparently, of preserving their reputations and the narratives they've taught for decades to thousands of Latter-day Saints. That's why they perpetuate false stereotypes about Heartlanders, for example.

(For another fun example of the credentialed class, look at how Book of Mormon Central promotes their credentials on their M2C-promoting, Spanish-language "Book of Mormon Geography" page, here:



Back to Mike's post. After citing Gerrit's credentials, Mike says "He is, in my estimation, better acquainted with the life and teachings of Joseph Smith than just about any other living historian."

With this "estimation," it's no wonder that Mike is in awe of Gerrit's credentials. 

Let's set aside the absurdity of Mike deciding which living historian is best "acquainted with the life and teachings of Joseph Smith." It's unlikely--let's say, impossible--that Gerrit Dirkmaat has access to any secret teachings of Joseph Smith that no one else has. IOW, we're all dealing with the same historical evidence. 

It's not a question of being acquainted with historical evidence. It's a question of what we do with that evidence, as we'll discuss below.

For purposes of this blog, though, let's assume that Gerrit does know more about Joseph Smith than anyone else.

That makes his manipulation of the evidence all the more inexcusable.


BTW, if you find it difficult to believe that anyone would actually write such a statement, here's part of the screen shot of Mike's blog post that was sent to me (click to enlarge):


The historians and other experts at the Joseph Smith Papers have produced an outstanding reference. I encourage everyone to use it.


As I've discussed before, The Joseph Smith Papers project is exemplary in the way it has compiled, organized, and presented historical documents. We are all grateful to everyone who participated in that project.

However, the editorial commentary is not so exemplary. While mostly factual, the editors slipped in numerous examples of editorial bias to promote their interpretive agenda. I discussed some of these before.


Part of that agenda is M2C, but another part is SITH.

I think it is inexcusable for these experts to use their editorial commentary to manipulate the historical evidence the way they have. I'd like to see revisions that are more factually correct. (I'd like to see similar improvements to accuracy in the Saints books and the Gospel Topics Essays, too.)

This leads directly to Mike's blog post. Here's another part of the screen shot (click to enlarge):


Mike says Dirkmaat discussed "a rising trend/movement among Church members [who] adamantly reject that Joseph Smith used seer stones placed into a hat (in order to block out the light) to translate the Book of Mormon."

[The subtext is whether Joseph translated the plates with the Urim and Thummim, as he claimed, or whether he actually used the stone-in-the-hat (SITH) instead of the plates and the U&T.]

According to Mike, Dirkmaat was referring to the book by the Stoddards as well as my books.

For purposes of this post, let's assume Mike correctly represented what Gerrit said.

I won't comment on the Stoddards' book. I don't agree with some of their conclusions, but that's the nature of historical analysis. There is a large element of subjectivity in reading historical documents. 

If someone polled all the historians/experts who have assessed the life of Joseph Smith, we'd find a full spectrum of conclusions, driven largely by their respective biases. Using exactly the same evidence,, nonbelieving scholars would reach different conclusions than believing scholars would. Among believing scholars there would be a range of views.

All of that is normal.

But for Gerrit Dirkmaat to claim there is a "rising trend/movement" in favor of U&T over SITH is a misleading and contradicts the historical record.

Until a few years ago, there was nearly universal acceptance among Latter-day Saints of U&T over SITH.

Thanks to the efforts of scholars such as Gerrit Dirkmaat and the Interpreters who follow them, there is a "rising trend," but that trend is the promotion of SITH among young Latter-day Saints and the rejection of the traditional U&T narrative in favor of SITH.

Still, if Gerrit perceives there is a "rising trend" in favor of U&T, then that's great news. It means more people are learning what Joseph and Oliver actually said. It means more people are seeing through the spin provided by the SITH sayers who prefer David Whitmer's "An Address to All Believers in Christ" over the Wentworth letter.


To be clear, I'm fine with the Interpreters disagreeing with my conclusions.* 

I'm also fine with them promoting SITH (as well as M2C). 

I just ask that they provide clarity instead of obfuscation, understanding instead of acrimony, and openness instead of censorship.

Last year I discussed the book Gerrit co-authored that's at the core of the SITH promotion. In that book, the authors simply omitted the historical evidence that contradict their thesis. Last I checked, they haven't revised the book.


It's easy to promote a historical narrative when you simply omit contrary historical information. That's why in my books, I try to include all the evidence. I cite people who disagree with me because I favor clarity and understanding. I encourage people to make informed decisions.

That's why I keep talking about multiple working hypotheses.

Let's hope that Mike Parker's post leads to greater clarity and understanding, which will in turn lead to no more contention.


*It is funny, though, that the Interpreters are so insecure about their own positions that they resort to manipulative tactics. For example, when Mike Parker and his fellow Interpreters wrote two long critiques of my books last summer, they didn't give me any notice or a chance to respond. When I contacted an editor at the Interpreter, he agreed to let me respond within a word count restraint that was far shorter than the original articles. And then they delayed publication of my response until Mike and his fellow Interpreters could prepare a rejoinder to publish alongside my response, in which they raised issues I hadn't addressed. When I asked to respond to the rejoinder, the editors refused, saying I could make comments if I wanted. Online comments are not part of the journal, leaving readers of the Interpreter with a series of misleading and unanswered criticisms. 

Which readers of the Interpreter are used to, actually, given the pattern established by Dan Peterson (Slander Dan) over many years.

All of this is the opposite of seeking clarity and understanding, which is (or should be) the point of authentic academic exchanges. 

But this all passes as "scholarship" among LDS apologists.