The prevalence of a spirit of contention amongst a people is a certain sign of deadness with respect to the things of religion. When men's spirits are hot with contention, they are cold to religion. - Jonathan Edwards “The Book of Mormon does not supplant the Bible. It expands, extends, clarifies, and amplifies our knowledge of the Savior. Surely, this second witness should be cause for great rejoicing by all Christians.” - Joseph B. Wirthlin

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Bits of wisdom

John 8:32: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Moroni 10:4-5: if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

Brigham Young: "We talk a great deal about our religion. It is not now my intention to deliver a discourse on this subject, enumerating facts and producing evidences in my possession which are unanswerable, but I will merely give a text, or make a declaration, that our religion is simply the truth. It is all said in this one expression—it embraces all truth, wherever found, in all the works of God and man that are visible or invisible to mortal eye."


Elon Musk: "The truth is most people don't change their mind. They just die."

Naval Ravikant: "What we wish to be true clouds our perception of what is true. Suffering is that moment when we can no longer deny reality."

Ed Latimore: "Don't get jealous of people you should be learning from."

Naval: Everybody wants spirituality, no one wants the truth.


Doctrine and Covenants 50:24–25 That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

25 And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you;

Jonathan Edwards: Go on, therefore, and forgetting the things which are behind, be pressing forward towards those which are before, even towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God; and those afflictions will seem less and less to you, and your path will shine brighter and brighter , even till at length the night of this life shall be turned into perfect day, when God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes and there shall be no more death; neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things will then be passed

Jonathan Edwards: the spirit that works thus, operates as a spirit of truth: he represents things as they are indeed: he brings men to the light; for whatever makes truth manifest, is light; as the Apostle Paul observes, Ephesians 5:13, "But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light; for whatsoever doth make manifest is light." And therefore we may conclude that 'tis not the spirit of darkness, that doth thus discover, and make manifest the truth. Christ tells us that Satan is a liar, and the father of lies [df. John 8:44; 2 Ne. 9:9]; and his kingdom is a kingdom of darkness. 'Tis upheld and promoted only by darkness and error: Satan has all his power and dominion by darkness. 

Friday, May 27, 2022

Appeal for multiple working hypotheses and dialogue: New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern at Harvard

This post is yet another appeal for recognition of multiple working hypotheses, but first an introduction. 

Some readers of this blog know that my wife and I visit New Zealand often because two of our kids live there. It's actually the last country we visited before returning to the U.S. from China because of Covid in early 2020.

The 9th hole on the golf course I played in Dunedin has an ocean view nearly as nice as where we live in Oregon.

Moving on...

The Prime Minister of New Zealand spoke at Harvard yesterday. Her speech is an outstanding discussion of how to have civil dialog and exchanges of views.

As a reminder, "President Russell M. Nelson lauded Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as “a peacemaker, a policymaker, a consensus-giver.” “She’s courageous,” President Nelson said of Prime Minister Ardern. “The world will discover they’ve got a real leader here. It’s an unlikely scenario, a young mother leading a great nation. ... We’re very impressed with her, she will have a great future.“

Prime Minister Ardern is the niece of Elder Ian S. Ardern, a General Authority Seventy and member of the Pacific Area Presidency.

Some of her comments apply to discussions about Gospel topics, including those related to the Book of Mormon.

Everyone involved with religious discussions, particularly within the Church, should carefully consider her comments about how to exchange views and understand others.

I remain hopeful that the M2C and SITH citation cartels will, eventually, recognize multiple working hypotheses and engage in respectful dialogue so people can make informed decisions. So far, Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine and the rest have refused.

But hope springs eternal...

I realize many readers here will object to some of her political views, but in a way, that's the point. 

Some excerpts from her speech:

I doubt anyone has ever created a group titled “political views I disagree with, but choose to enter into respectful dialogue with to better understand alternative perspectives.”

As humans, we are naturally predisposed to reinforce our own views, to gather with people like us and avoid the dreaded sense of cognitive dissonance.  We seek validation, confirmation, reinforcement. And increasingly with the help of algorithms, what we seek, we are served, sometimes before we even know we’re looking.


what is important here is not just what our young people learn, but how.

In a disinformation age, we need to learn to analyse and critique information. That doesn’t mean teaching ‘mistrust’, but rather as my old history teacher, Mr Fountain extolled: “to understand the limitations of a single piece of information, and that there is always a range of perspectives on events and decisions.”

Our history shows us the importance of this. But so too does our present.

You are, and will always be surrounded by bias. You will continue to be exposed to disinformation. And overtime, the ‘noise’ you are surrounded by will probably only get worse.

And perhaps that is why, when your own constitution was adopted, Benjamin Franklin was asked what had been created and replied “A republic, if you can keep it.”

If YOU can keep it.

Yes, diversity of voice in mainstream media matters. The responsibility of social media matters. Teaching our kids to deal with disinformation and the role we play as leaders all matters. 

But so do you.

How you choose to engage with information, deal with conflict, or confront debate, how you choose to address being baited, or hated – it all matters.

In the overwhelming challenges that lay in front of us, in our constant efforts to reach into the systems, the structures, the power, don’t overlook the impact of simple steps that are right in front of us.

The impact that we each have as individuals.

To make a choice to treat difference with empathy and kindness

Those values that exist in the space between difference and division. The very things we teach our children, but then view as weakness in our leaders.

The issues we navigate as a society will only intensify. The disinformation will only increase. The pull into the comfort of our tribes will be magnified. But we have it within us to ensure that this doesn’t mean we fracture.

We are the richer for our difference, and poorer for our division. Through genuine debate and dialogue, through rebuilding trust in information and one another, through empathy – let us reclaim the space in between.

After all, there are some things in life that make the world feel small and connected, let kindness be one of them.

full text here:

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Why the Church progresses

When he spoke to the National Press Club in March, 2000, President Hinckley shared some of the church’s beliefs and his thoughts on why it was growing:

  • “Our desire everywhere is to make bad men good and good men better.”

  • “We teach, we train, we build, we educate, we provide opportunity for growth and development. We give hope to those without hope, and there is nothing greater you can give a man or a woman than hope.”

  • “The genius of our work is that we expect things of our people. They grow as they serve and there are numerous opportunities to challenge them.”

  • “We are a church in whose name is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We bear witness of him and it is his example and his teachings we try to follow. We give love. We bring peace.”

  • “We think we are improving people’s lives. We think that we are causing them to stand taller, straighter and be better people, and when all is said and done that is purpose of any religion. We are trying to do our part and trying to do it in a very aggressive but practical and hard-headed way, if you please, so that we build on a strong foundation for the future.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

I dig Nauvoo

There is an ongoing archaeological project in Nauvoo called I Dig Nauvoo. The website is here:

This summer they're focusing on the site of the original Times and Seasons printing shop.

Steve Pynakker at Mormon Book Reviews did a fascinating interview with Paul DeBarth, who explained the project.


Regular readers of this blog know the significance of the Times and Seasons in both Church history and the question of Book of Mormon historicity. In 1841, Joseph's brother Don Carlos was the editor of the Times and Seasons. Joseph gave him Oliver Cowdery's eight essays to republish, which Don Carlos did. The portion of Letter VII that explains the fact that the Hill Cumorah is in New York was published on April 15, 1841. It is available at this link or anywhere you can find the Times and Seasons (search for "Cumorah" on the page):

At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a

(page 378)

state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed.

By turning to the 529th and 530th pages of the book of Mormon you will read Mormon's account of the last great struggle of his people, as they were encamped round this hill Cumorah. [It is printed Camorah, which is an error.] In this valley fell the remaining strength and pride of a once powerful people, the Nephites-once so highly favored of the Lord, but at that time in darkness, doomed to suffer extermination by the hand of their barbarous and uncivilized brethren. From the top of this hill, Mormon, with a few others, after the battle, gazed with horror upon the mangled remains of those who the day before, were filled with anxiety, hope, or doubt.

In March 1842, Joseph published the Wentworth letter, which rejected Orson Pratt's speculation about Central America with the simple declaration that the remnant of Lehi "are the Indians that now inhabit this country."

In 1842, Joseph referred to the Hill Cumorah in a September letter that was later canonized as D&C 128:20.

Also in 1842, anonymous editorials in the Times and Seasons speculated that ruins in Central America were related to the Book of Mormon. These articles were attributed to Joseph Smith in one of the biggest mistakes in Church history. Joseph promptly resigned as the nominal editor of the newspaper.

Much later, RLDS scholar L.E. Hills developed the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory (M2C) to explain how the setting of the Book of Mormon fits in Mesoamerica. He simply ignored/rejected what Oliver and Joseph had taught about the New York Cumorah. Hills published his map in 1917.

Later LDS scholars, including John Sorenson and Jack Welch, agreed with Hills, rejected the New York Cumorah, embraced M2C and published similar maps.

Professor Welch incorporated M2C into the FARMS logo by using a Mayan glyph to represent the Book of Mormon. He brought the logo over to Book of Mormon Central, which spends millions of dollars to convince young Latter-day Saints that the prophets were wrong about Cumorah.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Tissot at BYU Museum of Art

Joseph interprets Pharaoh's dream

Tissot is one of my favorite artists. The BYU MOA has an exhibition of Tissot's Old Testament paintings right now. You can see it online here:

Friday, May 13, 2022

The happiest people

The happiest people in the world are the ones who:

• love what they're doing

• accept things that they can't change

• find pleasure in doing things

• continue to grow and evolve

• practice humility

• expect less

• enjoy and appreciate little things in life

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Spiritual Physics of Light - Book recommendation

This is a uniquely wonderful book: The Spiritual Physics of Light : how we see, feel, and know truth by Aaron D. Franklin.

"This book explores the connections between what scientists know about light empirically and what members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have learned about light doctrinally. Each chapter contains discussions on how we see, feel, and know truth (which is light) by relating and connecting physical principles of electromagnetic radiation to gospel truths about light"-- 

(Provided by publisher)

I'm particularly interested in this topic because of work I'm doing with some world-renowned physicists, but Brother Franklin has some tremendous insights into how spiritual light operates. His explanation of physical light expands our understanding of spiritual light. 

Here's an excerpt: 

Now that we have explored how spiritual matter--when combined with bodies to create souls--may enable more profound interactions with spiritual light, let us consider what it means to sense or detect spiritual light. To set the stage for the present discussion, I will return to a quote from President David O. McKay cited earlier in the book:

Every person is a recipient of radiation. The Savior was conscious of that. Whenever he came into the presence of an individual, he sensed that radiation... He was conscious of the radiation from the individual. And to a degree so are you, and so am I. It is what we are and what we radiate that affects the people around us.

As indicated in President McKay's statement, numerous examples could be given of how the Savior detected the radiation of spiritual light from individuals around him. It was not exclusive to the detection of the strong emission of spiritual light from righteous individuals; rather, it involved the detection of radiation from everyone, including those who were troubled, sad, or deep in sin.

I highly recommend this book!