The banner of this blog states, "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."
It has been fascinating to see the response to this blog and my other blogs, which has been overwhelmingly positive. People write to me all the time and thank me for providing the original sources and references that corroborate the teachings of the prophets. I'm happy to help people make informed decisions because I trust people to handle truth appropriately.
My proposition for believers and critics alike:
let's all compare different interpretations of Church history and Book of Mormon issues, starting with FACTS everyone can agree upon, then clearly explaining our respective ASSUMPTIONS, INFERENCES, and THEORIES, all of which lead to our respective HYPOTHESES.
This FAITH model for comparison leads to clarity on all sides. It incorporates the value of charity because everyone involved deems other participants to be acting in good faith. And it results in understanding because no one feels compelled to persuade, convince, or coerce anyone else.
Clarity, charity and understanding.
Simple concepts that lead to no more contention.
It would be so easy to implement and so beneficial for all Latter-day Saints and their friends.
And yet, ever since I started this blog, certain LDS intellectuals and their followers have fought against all three values.
Critics of this blog consist mainly of a small group of LDS intellectuals and their followers who promote M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory) and SITH (the stone-in-the-hat theory). They are adamant that their own beliefs are sacrosanct and should not be challenged or even questioned. They have long acted as gatekeepers and resist any efforts to open (or circumvent) their gates.
We love these intellectuals and their followers, and we expect them to eventually embrace clarity, charity and understanding.
So far, however...
- Instead of clarity, they rely on obfuscation, sophistry, and censorship.
- Instead of charity, they resort to ad hominem attacks, innuendo, and taking offense.
- Instead of understanding, they misrepresent others' perspectives, insist on compliance with their own conclusions, and demand respect for their credentials.
It's inexplicable, in a way. But such tactics are reminiscent of another group in Church history.
In the 1830s, a group of LDS members who called themselves "Danites" assumed responsibility for what they thought was protecting the Church from dissenting influence. Historians have a variety of interpretations about the Danites. One article concluded that "Though the existence of the Danites was short-lived, it resulted in a longstanding and much-embellished myth about a secret society of Mormon vigilantes."
The term "Danites" is useful for describing overzealous Latter-day Saints who actively oppose the values of clarity, charity, and understanding.
I've heard criticism from both Heartlanders and M2Cers/SITHsayers.
Some Heartlanders say I'm too generous to the M2Cers/SITHsayers because I frequently reiterate that respect them, I personally like them, and I think they are acting in good faith. In my view, Heartlanders who object to extending charity to M2Cers/SITHsayers are modern Danites.
I understand where they are coming from; after all, M2Cers/SITHsayers have publicly accused Heartlanders of being racist, right-wing nationalists, and even subversive. But those false rhetorical attacks reflect insecurity and fear on the part of the M2Cers/SITHsayers who make them.
The vast majority of Heartlanders embrace the FAITH model and the pursuit of clarity, charity, and understanding.
Some M2Cers/SITHsayers object to these two acronyms. These are not pejorative, and I'm happy to consider alternatives if anyone has an idea.
M2C is a simple concept that I didn't invent. L.E. Hills published a map in 1917 that portrayed Cumorah in Mesoamerica. Sidney Sperry wrote an article in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies in 1995 titled "Were There Two Cumorahs?" It's available on Book of Mormon Central, as well as here:
Everyone recognizes that early Church members as well as modern Church leaders have taught that Cumorah is in New York. Everyone who promotes a Cumorah other than the one in New York implicitly embraces the view that there are two Cumorahs: the false traditional one in New York, and the "real" one wherever they claim it is. Because the Mesoamerican setting is the dominant one, I added the M for clarity. There is no rational reason to object to M2C, especially in the absence of an alternative acronym.
The SITHsayer term is an obvious acronym for those who promote the stone-in-the-hat theory. Some don't like the allusion to the Star Wars SITH lords, but if they have a better acronym, they haven't shared it with me.
Some M2Cers/SITHsayers say I'm too mean to them because I point out how (i) they act as gatekeepers, (ii) they refuse to participate in the FAITH model and (iii) they don't agree with the goal of no more contention. All of those objections could be easily resolved by them simply accepting clarity, charity, and understanding. As long as they refuse to do so, it is not only appropriate but necessary to point it out. It's nothing personal at all. I assume they're acting in good faith, they're fine scholars, solid Latter-day Saints, etc. They just don't accept the concept of multiple working hypotheses. By itself, that does not make them Danites.
In the next few days, we'll discuss some of the modern Danites in more detail.
Some M2Cers/SITHsayers say I've offended them. If I have, I readily apologize, but I've explained all along that if anyone takes offense at anything I've said, they should let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll edit or modify any offensive rhetoric. For example, some people complained to me about the nickname "FairlyMormon" so I stopped using it. Others complained about the term "citation cartel" so I stopped using that, even though that isn't a term I coined and it's used in other contexts.
Some unbelieving critics complain that I have a different take on Church history and the Book of Mormon than they do. I'm happy to engage with them pursuant to the FAITH model and in the context of multiple working hypotheses. I'm happy to share a meal, a podcast, or any other forum because I think it is counterproductive so shun others. Everyone would benefit from clarity, charity and understanding.