Friday, April 21, 2017

Mesomania for the youth...

Last night I attended a presentation in Sandy by a well-meaning brother who wants to help the youth of the Church get and retain testimonies of the Book of Mormon.

But he's telling them things that aren't true.

That sounds harsh, and I'm sure he doesn't even realize it, but in two minutes on the Internet, kids will figure it out. There were around 120 people in the audience, of all ages. Grandparents with grandchildren, a YW group from a ward, etc.

On his web page, he solicits firesides and youth groups: http://bofmwitnesses.com/schedule-a-ward-or-stake-presentation

I really like the concept of public presentations about the Book of Mormon, geared toward the youth, but not if you're going to teach them the two-Cumorahs theory.

He promoted the event (one of a series) with this online ad:
 
The ad tells you all you need to know. This is full-blown, dogmatic Mesomania. The presenter listed the academics whose books he read, which become apparent during the presentation. They are the usual suspects who write for the citation cartel.
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One of his first slides told the audience that Joseph Smith himself said the "primary homeland of the Nephites was Central America."


Readers know that I've written three detailed books about this, showing Joseph had nothing to do with these articles and instead opposed the idea.

I'm not aware of anyone who has studied the issue who thinks Joseph actually wrote those articles (apart from those who believe in black-box stylometry that confirms the biases of the researchers who won't share their database, assumptions, or software). Even those who think Joseph was actually editing the Times and Seasons don't claim Joseph wrote these articles.

And, of course, following good Mesomania practice, the presenter said nothing about Joseph Smith's actual statements about Book of Mormon geography.

Then you also have this claim in line 3: "The vast majority of LDS and non-LDS Experts, Archaeologists, and Scholars agree on Meso-America." Aside from the appeal to authority fallacy, consider what a youth reading this will think. Then he/she will go to the Internet and quickly learn that not a single non-LDS person (expert or otherwise) thinks the Book of Mormon has anything to do with Mesoamerica.
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I won't go through all the slides, but look at this one:


The "early Saints" had plenty of extrinsic evidence of the Book of Mormon. During Zion's Camp, Joseph and the others crossed "the plains of the Nephites" and picked up the skulls and bones from the mounds they left behind. Zelph was the most famous example, but not the only one. The lost 116 pages described the mounds as well. In that day, thanks to what Joseph and Oliver taught, every member of the Church knew the final battles had taken place at Cumorah in New York. Critics complained that Joseph was merely writing about the moundbuilders, with which they were all familiar. The irony is, he was!
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Next, he told the audience that George Bancroft was writing about Mesoamerica.


The quote at the bottom of this slide appears to be from Bancroft's book, History of the Colonization of the United States, which you can see here. The slide says "In 1841, he states America was "an unproductive waste... destitute of highly organized civilizations, only peaceful tribal barbarians lived in North America." But the presenter told the audience Bancroft was referring to Mesoamerica.
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He told the audience that Joseph Smith was translating Mayan characters off the gold plates.



Once the kids check the Internet and discover Mayan has nothing to do with Hebrew or Egyptian, they will be "confused and disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon," just as Joseph Fielding Smith warned.

Then we had a discussion of cement.





It's always fun when Mesomania causes people to read the text ("both of wood and of cement") as "both of stone and of cement." To put the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica, you have to substitute terms like this. Audiences are supposed to be too mesmerized by the splendor of the Mayan (and Aztec, in some cases) civilization to notice that the text doesn't line up with what they're being shown.

Predictably, he went through the illusory "correspondences" between Mayans and the Book of Mormon, including Izapa Stella 5 (tree of life) and Quetzalcoatl, both of which even most Mesomania scholars reject.
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The presenter never mentioned Letter VII, of course. He never acknowledged that the New York Cumorah was universally accepted and understood during Joseph Smith's lifetime, including by all of his successors who lived during his lifetime. He never mentioned President Ivins or Romney who spoke about this in General Conference.

Anyone attending his presentation would have to wonder, at a minimum, how Moroni hauled the plates from Central America to New York, and returned to the repository in the "Mexican Cumorah" to get the Jaredite plates to translate, and then return again to get his father's records. (I realize the North Visitors Center portrays Moroni carrying these paper letters with him, along with the sword and Liahona. That's another post for another day.)
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I've written to this fine brother to offer a meeting. We'll see what happens. Hopefully he will continue these presentations with a different approach once he studies the issues a little more.