Saturday, December 8, 2018

"Consensus" is not a great cause

From a speech by Margaret Thatcher:

When I asked one of my Commonwealth colleagues at this Conference why he kept saying that there was a “consensus” on a certain matter, another replied in a flash “consensus is the word you use when you can't get agreement” ! 
To me consensus seems to be —the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no-one believes, but to which no-one objects. —the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead.
What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner “I stand for consensus”?

Thursday, December 6, 2018

How consensus persists, even when wrong

I saw this on twitter:

How consensus works :

Scientist A believes something because he thinks scientist B believes it.
Scientist B believes something because he thinks scientist C believes it.
Scientist C believes something because he thinks scientist A believes it.

repeat loop endlessly .....


This describes the way the M2C "consensus" operates. It's another version of the academic cycle:

One way to break the cycle is for people to think for themselves. But to do that, they need accurate and complete information.

So long as the M2C citation cartel engages in censorship, people will not be able to make informed decisions and thereby break the endless consensus loop.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Why does M2C continue to refuse unity?

The other night we went out with the missionaries to visit a family. I let everyone out of the car because I have to park right next to the wall on the narrow street so cars can pass by. While the missionaries were waiting for me to park, a many walked up and asked if they were Mormon missionaries. They said they were. He explained he was a member but had not been to Church in years. He wanted to come back and asked if they had a Book of Mormon. They didn't have a physical one, but promised to bring him one to Church. He said he would come this Sunday. He didn't have a phone, and had apparently moved long ago, so his Church records were not up to date. The missionaries accompanied him to his house down the street and had a good visit before returning for our previously scheduled appointment.

This is just the latest example of how the Lord works with his missionaries. It's no coincidence that we arrived at this street just at the moment when this long-lost member of the Church happened to be walking by. In fact, we were a little late for our appointment because google maps had taken us through narrow, windy, unlit streets at night in an area where I had never driven before. And, of course, I'm driving a stick-shift car on the left side of the road.

This is also an example of how the Lord works with those who serve him. These wonderful Elders were in the right place at the right time, despite the many obstacles that would have made it easier to not go there that night.

Plus, our scheduled visit was awesome.

The point is, I think the Lord wants to bless everyone involved with sharing and testifying about the Book of Mormon.

For years, I have sought to work with the M2C advocates, including the M2C citation cartel. I think it's counterproductive to have online debates, but they refuse to meet and discuss these things privately. They refuse to inform members of the Church about alternatives to M2C.

In my view, they are more concerned about defending their M2C agenda than anything else.

I'm told some of them are offended by my blog posts and books, but they know perfectly well that I have always wanted to work with them and sort out all these issues. We can agree to disagree, but we can work together anyway.

If they want to.

I appeal to them, once again, to work as colleagues on the issues of the Book of Mormon geography and historicity.

The battle M2C wants

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Why doesn't the world know?

Last week on a missionary split here in Africa we visited an awesome man who is investigating the Church and who made some profound statements. Our entire conversation was in French, but I'll summarize the key points.

The missionaries found this individual by doing door-to-door contacting.

He said he had been interested in religion a long time. He had studied the Bible and gone to several churches. But in his entire life, he had never heard that there is a prophet alive today. He had never heard of the Book of Mormon.

He also said that he thinks there are many people in this country who would be excited to learn about this and who would join the Church.

Then he asked, "Why aren't you telling people? Why doesn't the world know?"

I explained that the Elder I was with had come on his mission specifically to tell people about it.

"But I'm just one person who happened to be home when the missionaries knocked on my door. What about the rest of the world? Why aren't you telling everyone about this?"

I've wondered about that question for a long time, but when this investigator posed it, it caused me to reflect some more.

Why does such important information remain unknown to most people on Earth?*

One reason is that members of the Church are reluctant to talk about their beliefs. There are as many reasons as there are individuals, but one common reason is hesitation about the Book of Mormon.

BYU's fantasy map of the
Book of Mormon
There is a lot of confusion about the Book of Mormon among Church members. Current generations have been taught at BYU and CES to think of the Book of Mormon in terms of a fantasy world. Older generations, such as mine, were taught to think of it in terms of Mesoamerica.

Prior generations also considered a variety of alternatives, but they had one common pin in the map: the New York Cumorah. They were united in accepting what the prophets and apostles had taught about the Hill Cumorah in western New York.

Today's Church members don't know what to think. 

Do we believe the prophets and apostles? Do we believe the M2C scholars? Do we believe the fantasy maps of CES and BYU?

Is insisting that it doesn't matter the only option, when obviously it does matter to most people in the world?

This uncertainty has a serious impact on missionary work.

Every missionary knows that one of the most common questions posed by people who are introduced to the Book of Mormon is, "Where did these events take place?"

As it stands right now, missionaries and members can only say, "Somewhere in the Americas, but we don't know where."

That is such an implausible response that I'm always amazed when people continue investigating anyway.

Not amazed, really. The Spirit will bear witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon even when people are skeptical about it's historicity. But skepticism is a serious hurdle, as we can tell from the tiny percentage of people who join the Church and remain faithful.

Worse, of course, is the response our M2C intellectuals advocate; i.e., that the Book of Mormon events took place in Central America. Any investigator with access to the Internet is going to discover in less than five minutes such web pages as this:

M2C is not only implausible because it's based on illusory evidence and confirmation bias, but because it contradicts the teachings of the very prophets and apostles whom the missionaries are encouraging the investigators to accept. Most people will wonder why they should accept the teachings of the prophets and apostles when intellectuals in the Church repudiate them.

Contrast this to the early days of the Church, when Apostles went on their mission to England and converted more people (5,000) than they had copies of the Book of Mormon (3,000). Elder Lorenzo Snow gave a copy of the Book of Mormon to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1841. By 1850, there were more Church members in Britain than in the U.S., even after 7,500 people had emigrated to the U.S. from the U.K.

There are many reasons for this missionary success, but one surely was the way the Apostles grounded the Book of Mormon in the real world. They explained that Cumorah was in New York and that there was plenty of evidence of ancient civilizations in the New World.**

First volume of the
Millennial Star
Beginning with the second issue of the Millennial Star in 1840, Parley P. Pratt published President Cowdery's historical essays under the heading, "A Remarkable Vision."

You can read a digital copy of Letter VII in the October 1840 issue of the Millennial Star here:

Go to that link and scroll down to record 16, which is page 152, to read about the New York Cumorah.

In response to strong demand for President Cowdery's letters, early Church leaders in England published a pamphlet that consisted entirely of Oliver's eight letters.

In Nauvoo, New York City, and Philadelphia, Church newspapers republished Letter VII so everyone, both members and non-members, at least learned about the New York Cumorah.

When he wrote Letter VII, President Cowdery was responding to claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction. He knew the truth because he, Joseph and others had actually visited Mormon's depository of Nephite records in that hill in New York where Joseph found the plates in Moroni's stone box. That should have resolved this question long ago.

Imagine how much more effective the message of the Restoration would be if the entire Church were united on accepting the clear, consistent, and persistent teachings of the prophets and apostles about the New York Cumorah. 

*When we lived in Utah, we had the sense that everyone knew about the Church, the Book of Mormon, etc. Everywhere I've lived in the U.S. (California, Washington, Arizona, Utah, Illinois, Tennessee, New York) is about the same. Most Americans know at least something about "Mormons" if only from their study of American history and the settlement of the west.

I've lived in Europe for 8 years and in Asia for nearly 2 years. Now I live in Africa. I've visited 70 countries and every continent, and I've worked in a dozen or more countries. Outside the U.S., the story is the same. Few people have heard of Mormons, unless it's because of polygamy or unless they happen to know a member of the Church. Thanks to the Broadway show, many people in major cities know about the Book of Mormon. But far, far fewer have any idea of the existence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And almost nobody knows there is a living prophet today. That is changing thanks to media coverage of President Nelson's visits in many countries, but as he said, he can't go everywhere. And the message has difficult breaking through.

Right here where we live, we constantly see banners featuring images of religious leaders who are visiting town, holding conferences, selling books, etc. They all profess to represent God in some way, whether they are Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or something else.

**The Pratt brothers, Orson and Parley, often said that the indigenous people throughout Latin America were descendants of Lehi, which led to the widespread adoption of this notion. What most Church members forget is that Joseph Smith edited out those theories when he wrote the Wentworth letter. His declaration in that letter that the remnant of Lehi's people are the Indians that now (1842) live in this country (the U.S.) should have ended the speculation, but historians and scholars have ignored what he said. In fact, some M2C intellectuals have insisted that when Joseph wrote "this country" he was actually referring to Central America!

Worse, the Correlation Department edited the Wentworth letter to remove Joseph's identification of the remnant of Lehi's descendants. Current members of the Church and future generations will never learn what the Prophet Joseph Smith taught on this important topic, solely because of the influence of the M2C intellectuals.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Correcting an error

In Canada recently, President Nelson made this comment about the name of the Church:

“We’re correcting an error that has crept in over the ages.”

When I read that I thought, "Wouldn't it be awesome to correct another error that has crept in? The error being the repudiation by the M2C intellectuals of the prophets' consistent and persistent teaching that the Hill Cumorah is in New York."

We'll see.

There's still time for the M2C intellectuals to correct the error, but they don't seem to be inclined to do so.

Monday, August 20, 2018

In our hearts first

In my passport I noticed this quotation from Dwight D. Eisenhower:

Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.

I'd like to paraphrase that for the Church.

Whatever Latter-day Saints hope to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of the Latter-day Saints. 

This applies to every aspect of establishing Zion. Because this blog focuses on the Book of Mormon, I'll narrow the quotation even more: If we expect the world to accept the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon, we Latter-day Saints better accept its divine authenticity first. 

Because I think we have to accept the prophets to establish the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon, this means we as Latter-day Saints should all embrace the teachings of the prophets that Cumorah is in New York.

Also, because the M2C intellectuals repudiate the prophets regarding the New York Cumorah, I think M2C is impeding our efforts to take the Book of Mormon to the world.

Imagine if every member of the Church was aligned with the prophets on the Cumorah question. That would be one connection between the Book of Mormon and the actual New World that would unify our message to the world about the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

M2C in the Joseph Smith Papers - maps

One obstacle to consensus is lack of awareness of bias.

M2C is so pervasive that most LDS scholars don't even realize how deeply it has permeated their worldview. Like a fish that doesn't know what water is until it is caught and yanked into the atmosphere, LDS scholars take M2C for granted and never challenge their assumptions.

I've shown examples of this from the Joseph Smith Papers before, but it's been a while so it's time to look at them again, along with some new examples.

The first one is a map. You can see it here:

This is the map and explanation:

Notice the heading: "Mission to the Indians."

The headings to D&C 28, 30, and 32, which were the revelations calling these brethren on their mission, reflect the language used in the revelations.

We don't read about a mission to the Indians. Instead, we read this:

D&C 28 -  8–10, Oliver Cowdery is to preach to the Lamanites;

D&C 30 - 5–8, Peter Whitmer Jr. is to accompany Oliver Cowdery on a mission to the Lamanites

D&C 32 - 1–3, Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson are called to preach to the Lamanites and to accompany Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer Jr.

The heading to D&C 32 even says this:

Great interest and desires were felt by the elders respecting the Lamanites, of whose predicted blessings the Church had learned from the Book of Mormon. 

According to M2C, the "real" Lamanites are the Mayans, who have little genetic or anthropological connection to the tribes in the Northeastern U.S.

Yet the Lord designated the tribes in New York, Ohio and the Midwest as Lamanites. To this day, these are the only people formally designated by revelation as Lamanites.

Notice how, in the explanation of the map, the editors of the Joseph Smith Papers decided to put the scriptural language in quotations. This frames it as a folk tradition, as if to say, the so-called Lamanites. Meanwhile, the heading, in much larger print, identifies the people simply as Indians.

I realize this may seem a subtle, nit-picking complaint, but it is typical of how the editors of the Joseph Smith Papers are rewriting Church history to accommodate M2C.