Monday, January 4, 2016

Why is it hard?

I don't think it will be difficult for most LDS to reach a consensus about Book of Mormon geography, but I suspect it will be difficult for a few individuals, so I want to explore that here.

From the time I shared early drafts of The Lost City of Zarahemla a year ago (some under the title Who can Hinder?), I've received a range of responses. Some readily agreed with my conclusions about Benjamin Winchester and the Times and Seasons. Some told me it never made sense to think that Joseph Smith could have acted as editor, publisher and author for the Times and Seasons while doing everything else he had to do, so they were glad there was good explanation for the historical events that made sense and was supported by evidence. Others, particularly at the Maxwell Institute and the Interpreter, opposed my conclusions, not because of the evidence but to defend their personal beliefs.

Here's an excerpt from my book, Brought to Light, which will be available next Tuesday (January 11, 2016).

"I realize some people will never accept evidence that contradicts their long-held opinions, particularly where they’ve published those opinions, and particularly where they’ve published those opinions their entire careers. But I also realize that many people who are not so deeply invested want to know the truth and appreciate different perspectives on history."

Hugh Nibley made this observation on this topic: "You cannot prove the genuineness of any document to one who has decided not to accept it... When a man asks for proof we can be pretty sure that proof is the last thing in the world he really wants. His request is thrown out as a challenge, and the chances are that he has no intention of being shown up."

Those interested in reaching a consensus need to recognize it may be difficult, but they must be committed to honestly and objectively considering all the evidence before insisting on a particular conclusion.
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