Thursday, December 8, 2016

Everything is awesome

It's not just in the Lego movie that everything is awesome.



Think about this. We're nearing the end of 2016, when more people around the world have studied the Book of Mormon than ever before, thanks to Gospel Doctrine class. It is changing lives as people come to Christ and enjoy living the gospel more fully.

During 2016, more people have read Letter VII (Seven) than ever before, at least since the days when it was actually published, in its entirety, in Church magazines (The Improvement Era, Millennial Star, Times and Seasons, Gospel Reflector, and Messenger and Advocate).

Who knows? Maybe in 2017 when we study Church history in Gospel Doctrine class, the Ensign will finally join the list of official LDS publications and print Letter VII in its entirety.

That would be awesome.



So far, during 2016, many people have learned what Joseph and Oliver said about Cumorah being in New York. Which in turn means more people can appreciate how the Book of Mormon describes a North American setting, with everything that goes along with that.

While I've heard anecdotes about how some Gospel Doctrine teachers are still referring to Central America as the setting for the Book of Mormon, I hear far more about the Heartland.

Here are some awesome key points that more and more members of the Church are appreciating:

1. Joseph and Oliver said Cumorah was in New York, and this knowledge was universal in the Church, among members and leaders, until new ideas originating with scholars from the Reorganized Church crept in during the 1920s-1930s, over the objections of Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith.

2. The New York Cumorah makes sense in terms of geography, topography, anthropology, and archaeology.

3. Joseph Smith linked the Book of Mormon to North America when he described the Midwest as the "plains of the Nephites," when he said Zelph was known from the Rocky Mountains to the East Sea or Cumorah, and when he identified tribes living in these areas as Lamanites.

4. Joseph Smith never once linked the Book of Mormon to Central America. He repudiated Orson Pratt's hemispheric model when wrote the Wentworth letter.

5. The Lord identified the tribes living in New York, Ohio, and Missouri as Lamanites (D&C 28, 30 and 32).

6. Farmers near Cumorah in New York plowed up artifacts for years and sold them to tourists to get rid of them. Boxes full of artifacts, including weapons, were removed from the New York Cumorah during excavations of the road to the top.

7. Every modern prophet and apostle who has spoken about Cumorah identified the New York hill as the scene of the final battles, including in General Conference as recently as 1975 and 1978. Between 1879 and 1920, the official version of the Book of Mormon specifically identified Cumorah as the hill in New York.

8. More and more LDS are learning that the Mesoamerican theory--the idea that the Book of Mormon took place in southern Mexico and Guatemala--is based on a theory that there are "two Cumorahs." The theory goes like this. The hill in New York is merely the place where Moroni buried the plates. It was not Cumorah. The real Hill Cumorah is somewhere in southern Mexico. The idea that the hill in New York is the Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is a false tradition started by unknown persons which Joseph, Oliver, and all of their successors adopted and perpetrated.*

9. Joseph Fielding Smith twice warned the Saints that the two-Cumorahs theory would cause members to become confused and disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. The second time he was President of the Quorum of  the Twelve. The evidence of the fulfillment of that warning is all around us.

10. More and more LDS are rejecting the Mesoamerican theory as they learn about its implications. As people come to understand the origins of the Mesoamerican theory, they return to what Joseph and Oliver said in the first place and the Book of Mormon takes on a new meaning. The North American setting, often referred to as Heartland and Moroni's America, makes sense and reinforces the significance of the promised land and associated covenants.

As awesome as 2016 has been, 2017 will be even awesomer!

_______________________
*Every Mesoamerican proponent believes Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and the other prophets and apostles, including President Marion G. Romney in General Conference in 1975, were perpetuating a false tradition! They don't talk about this much because they don't want ordinary members of the Church to realize this is what they're saying. They go so far as to ridicule members of the Church who accept the New York Cumorah. The most well-known LDS scholar who promotes the Mesoamerican theory wrote, in a book titled Mormon's Codex (published by Deseret Book) that "There remain Latter-day Saints who insist that the final destruction of the Nephites took place in New York, but any such idea is manifestly absurd. Hundreds of thousands of Nephites traipsing across the Mississippi Valley to New York, pursued (why?) by hundreds of thousands of Lamanites, is a scenario worthy only of a witless sci-fi movie, not of history." Prominent LDS scholars have endorsed this book. I won't list them here, but you can find out for yourselves if you read the reviews and the Foreword in the book. IOW, every time you read something written by an LDS scholar who promotes Mesoamerica, you can be sure that they, too, think Joseph and Oliver and the other prophets and apostles are perpetuating a false tradition. The implications are obvious, and explain why Joseph Fielding Smith's warning to the Saints about the two-Cumorahs theory was so important. Too important to be ignored.





Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Temple Square vs Letter VII

Continuing from my previous post about Temple Square...

When we descended the escalator and turned left, we saw the wonderful exhibit about prophets through the ages. This is where you find the section about Joseph Smith that I discussed yesterday, with the unfortunate and confusing painting of Joseph translating the plates with no interpreter, with the plates sitting on the table between him and Oliver. The article in the Ensign pointed out the painting is historically inaccurate, but it's on display in the North Visitors Center on Temple Square anyway. With millions of people touring the center every year, I imagined a conversation I would have with an investigator that knows something about the Church.
The conversation between M (me) and I (investigator) concluded with the last two lines:

I:   "What else in here is false?"
M: "Come over here. I'll show you. But then let's look at all the great stuff on giving service."

I take Investigator over to an elaborate display about the Book of Mormon, including Helaman's young warriors:


and Moroni burying the plates in New York:


So far, so good.

But the major display is unbelievable.



Notice anything strange?

Why would Mormon be surrounded by Mayan-like glyphs?

Moroni told Joseph Smith the record was written and deposited not far from his home in New York. Joseph and Oliver visited the repository (Mormon 6:6) in the Hill Cumorah. They wrote Letter VII, in which they described the specific location of the final battles of the Nephites on the west side of the Hill Cumorah in New York.

So what is going on here in the Visitors Center?

Supposedly the Church is "neutral" on the issue of Book of Mormon geography, but when you see displays like this, in the most prominent Visitors Center in the Church, visited by millions of people each year, you have to conclude the Church is neutral only on where in Mesoamerica the Book of Mormon took place!

I'm not the only one who has noticed this. You can do a web search and find others.

On top of that, when you open the missionary edition of the Book of Mormon you see this illustration:



I continue my conversation with my investigator friend:

I:   "You didn't tell me the Nephites were Mayans."
M: "They weren't."
I:   "Are you looking at this display?"
M: "Yes. Those aren't, uh, necessarily Mayan glyphs. They represent ancient America. Generically."
I:   "Seriously?"
M: "Okay, they do look Mayan. No doubt. But the Church is neutral on the geography question."
I:   "Over there, Moroni is burying the plates in New York, right?"
M: "Yes."
I:   "How did he get there if he lived in Central America?"
M: "Our scholars say he walked."
I:   "He carried the gold plates that weighed 60 pounds, plus the breastplate and interpreters, all the way from southern Mexico to western New York."
M: "That's what they say."
I:   "Let me get this straight. You say the Hill Cumorah is in New York, right?"
M: "Yes. Moroni buried the plates there."
I:   "But you told me before that Mormon had a repository of records in the Hill Cumorah."
M: "That's right. It's in Mormon 6:6."
I:   "But your display shows Mormon writing the record in Mayan country."
M: "The scholars say there were two Cumorahs."
Investigator says nothing.
M: "I know it sounds crazy. I think the scholars are wrong. I think there's one Cumorah, and it is in New York. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery made that clear."
I:   "So your scholars disagree with Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery?"
M: "Yes."
Investigator looks at the display.
I:  "It looks like your Church agrees with the scholars."
M: "The Church is neutral, as I said."
I:   "You just gave me a Book of Mormon. It shows Christ visiting the Mayans."
M: "Yeah, but it's supposed to represent all of North and South America."
Investigator looks at me like I've lost my mind.
M: "I like to think the clouds represent North America."
I:   "So you're saying if I read your Book of Mormon, it will tell me about Mayans?"
M: "No. It never mentions pyramids, volcanoes, or anything about Central America. It doesn't even mention stone buildings."
I:   "What the?"
M: "I know. The paintings are a mistake. It didn't happen like this."
I:   "What about this display?"
M: "It's a mistake, too. It didn't happen like this."
Investigator hands me the copy of the Book of Mormon I gave him. 
I:  "Tell you what. When you get your story straight, maybe I'll read this."




Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Welcome to Russia

Lots of people are coming here from Russia lately. Welcome!

I've been to Russia several times and I love it there. Years ago I attended Church in Moscow. Long story, but quite interesting.

I  have high hopes for the LDS Church in Russia because the Russian people have always been interested in the well-being of one another, and of society as a whole. The Russians I met especially admired the focus on families and the Word of Wisdom.

Again, welcome to Russia!

Temple Square vs the Ensign

This post isn't directly related to Book of Mormon geography issues, but you'll see why it's here tomorrow.

Last week we visited Temple Square with some out-of-town non-LDS friends. The North Visitors Center had been remodeled since the last time we were there, particularly the bottom level. We noticed this exhibit about Joseph Smith:



Look at the painting on the far right.

I wondered, "Does the designer of this exhibit not read the Ensign?"

In the October 2015 Ensign (see article here, although you have to download the .pdf to see the painting itself), this painting was discussed. Here's what the article says on p. 55:

"Artist’s portrayal of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery working on the translation of the Book of Mormon. Unlike what is depicted here, Oliver Cowdery stated that he did not see the plates until after the translation was finished. Witnesses of the process reported that during the translation, the plates were shielded from view, such as by being covered with a linen cloth." (Emphasis mine)

Part of page 55 from the Ensign

Pretty clear. This painting is not supported by any historical account. In fact, in this painting, Joseph isn't even using a translator, whether a stone, urim and thummim, or anything else. (Note: the Ensign article is generating a lot of discussion about what actually happened, a topic for another day.)

Yet this incorrect painting is shown to the millions of people who visit Temple Square!

These three paintings are presumably part of a set, so for artistic purposes, maybe they go together. But why is the Visitors Center showing people a painting that not only is not supported by any historical account, but contradicts every account we have?

Fortunately, in this case, our visitors weren't with us for this exhibit. I don't like being in a position of explaining to non-members that exhibits in the Visitors Centers are wrong, but anyone who reads the Ensign (or the scriptures) knows this painting is misleading at best.

Is this painting on display because we don't have a historically accurate painting of Joseph translating the plates? If so, I know of some artists who would be happy to remedy that problem.

Is it on display because we don't want to show what our official Church magazine explains is the historical reality? I hope not.

Maybe you know of another reason why this painting is on display in the Visitors Center. If so, let me know. Mesomania is bad enough, but having historically inaccurate paintings in the most-visited Visitors Center in the Church is asking for confusion.

Sample dialog between M (me) and I (investigator) during a visit to Temple Square:

M: "Here are paintings showing Joseph's story."
I:   "What language were the plates written in?"
M: "Reformed Egyptian, apparently."
I:   "Where did Joseph Smith learn Reformed Egyptian?"
M: "He didn't."
I:   "Then how is he reading the plates?"
M: "He had a translator. Moroni gave it to him with the plates."
I:   "Where is it?"
M: "Moroni took it back when he retrieved the plates."
I:   "No, I mean in this painting."
M: "It's not in there."
I:   "But the scribe is writing."
M: "I know. The painting is a mistake. It didn't happen like this."
I:   "Who is the scribe?"
M: "Oliver Cowdery."
I:   "So he saw the plates? What about other people, like Joseph's wife?"
M: "Actually, Oliver didn't see the plates during the translation. They were covered with a cloth."
I:   "But they're sitting there on the table."
M: "I know. The painting is a mistake. It didn't happen like this."
I:   "Why do you have a false painting on display?"
M: "I have no idea."
I:   "I heard Mormons hide their history. Is there something you're not telling me?"
M: "Uh, no. It's all explained in the Ensign, our official magazine."
I:   "You're telling me you are not hiding your history, but you have a false painting of Joseph Smith translating the plates on display in your Visitors Centers, and I'm supposed to read your magazine to understand why the painting is false."
M: "I guess so."
I:   "What else in here is false?"
M: "Come over here. I'll show you. But then let's look at all the great stuff on giving service."

To be continued...




Monday, December 5, 2016

The changing cost structure for LDS educators

As we've seen, the LDS scholars who continue to promote the Mesoamerican theory are 1) relying on the two-Cumorahs theory and 2) expressly repudiating Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and every other prophet and apostle who has addressed the Cumorah question.

And yet, most members of the Church, when presented with those two propositions, reject them out of hand. Up to now, the view of the Mesoamerican scholars has prevailed because they haven't disclosed the two-Cumorahs theory and Letter VII (Seven).

The question is, why do LDS educators, by and large, continue to follow these LDS scholars?

It's an example of the non-expert problem.

There are only a dozen or so self-styled "experts" on Book of Mormon geography issues. Some of them have PhDs in relevant subjects, such as archaeology or linguistics. They have reached a consensus about the two-Cumorahs theory. By their own standards, no one else is an "expert" in this field.

This means the rest of us cannot independently evaluate their claims. We can't collect the data ourselves. We can't visit the sites or read the Mayan glyphs. We can't experiment. Even if we could, we're busy with our own lives. We don't have time to assess the credibility of these scholars, and anyway, they're faithful LDS people so our default position is to trust them.

Non-experts generally trust what experts tell them. We don't second-guess our doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc., especially when the majority of them tell us the same thing.

Educators are in nearly the same position the rest of us are. If they're teaching in CES, their main focus is on spiritual lessons. They might have a little more time and interest to assess Book of Mormon geography than the rest of us do, but they also have more incentive to stick with the so-called consensus.

Most of these educators were either trained by the LDS scholars at a BYU campus or in another CES setting. It's natural for students to adopt the ideas of the professors they revere, particularly in a quasi-ecclesiastical setting.

Most of these educators have read the groupthink publications that promote the Mesoamerican setting (e.g., FARMS, BYU Studies, Maxwell Institute, Interpreter, Book of Mormon Central, BMAF, etc.).

The social/economic pressures are high for anyone who bucks the consensus. The Mesoamerican advocates have thoroughly infiltrated the culture, as I've shown in the discussions of Mesomania. Church artwork strongly implies official endorsement of the Mesoamerican theory. The illustrations in the Book of Mormon itself reinforce the two-Cumorahs theory. Today I pointed out another example on my Mesomania blog, here: http://mormonmesomania.blogspot.com/2016/12/mesomania-video-on-ldsorg.html

For an LDS educator, the cost of disagreeing with the Mesoamerican theory has been high, while there have been no penalties for agreeing.

It's easy to see why LDS educators have gone along to get along.

But now that we are focusing on Letter VII (Seven) and the reality of the two-Cumorahs theory, the relative costs may be changing.

Now, adhering to a Mesoamerican theory means repudiating the prophets and apostles on the Cumorah question. As that realization dawns on more and more people, I think we'll see a rapid change in the cost structure.

Let's say you're an LDS educator and a student asks you about Letter VII (Seven). Is your response going to be the same as the LDS scholars who continue to promote the Mesoamerican setting? Are you really going to tell your student that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ignorant speculators who deceived the Church for over 100 years? That Joseph Fielding Smith was perpetrating a false tradition about Cumorah? That President Marion G. Romney misled the Saints during General Conference in 1975?

How far are you willing to go to salvage the Mesoamerican setting?

What if two students ask you?

What if the entire class asks you?

Are you really going to stand up in front of an entire seminary or Institute or BYU class and tell the students that Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and the others listed in the left column below were all wrong? And that only the LDS scholars are correct about Cumorah?

Are you going to show them this table and tell the students to believe only those in the right column?

People who perpetuate a false tradition about Cumorah being in New York
People who teach the truth about Cumorah not being in New York
Joseph Smith
LDS scholars who promote a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon
Oliver Cowdery
LDS scholars who promote a Baja Californian setting for the Book of Mormon
David Whitmer
LDS scholars who promote a Panamanian setting for the Book of Mormon
Lucy Mack Smith
LDS scholars who promote a Peruvian setting for the Book of Mormon
Brigham Young
LDS scholars who promote a Chilean setting for the Book of Mormon
John Taylor 

Heber C. Kimball

Wilford Woodruff

Orson Pratt

Parley P. Pratt

Joseph F. Smith

Heber J. Grant

George Albert Smith

Joseph Fielding Smith

Marion G. Romney

Mark E. Peterson




If you're an LDS educator and you're still promoting the Mesoamerican theory, this column is what you are teaching, whether you realize it or not. You are repudiating the people in the left column so you can embrace the people in the right column.

Plus, you have to tell the students that the people in the right column disagree among themselves. They only agree that the prophets and apostles were wrong.

In my view, the repudiation of Joseph and Oliver and their successors is inexcusable. I think most Church members who are aware of the question agree. And I think that's why the cost structure is changing, and eventually the Mesoamerican holdouts will be isolated to their corner of academia.
___________________

The irony of this is that the Mesoamerican scholars painted themselves into this corner. They could have remained faithful to what Joseph and Oliver and their successors taught about the New York Cumorah, but they made a choice, early on, to insist the New York Cumorah was inconsistent with their preferred Mesoamerican setting. Maybe some of them will rethink that choice and argue for a larger geography that accommodates the New York Cumorah.

I welcome that discussion.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Thinking past the sale to stone thrones

Yesterday I commented on the article about how Riplakish supposedly built a massive stone throne, even though the Book of Mormon text says nothing of the sort.

On my mesomania blog, I also commented on the concept of "thinking past the sale" which is the tactic used by LDS scholars and educators to keep the overall Mesoamerican setting alive.

The two posts are related because the Mesomania spin on the Riplakish account is an example of how to use the "thinking past the sale" tactic.
______________________

The article in Mesomania Magazine is titled "Why did Riplakish Construct a Beautiful Throne?" However, the article never answers that question!

Instead, the article explains why ancient Mesoamericans built massive thrones made of stone. But it is carefully crafted to prevent the reader from even realizing the switch.

The anonymous author doesn't explain a rationale for inferring that Riplakish had a throne carved out of stone. It just assumes that Riplakish lived in Mesoamerica. That's the sale, but the article doesn't go there because the author instead wants you to assume the Mesoamerican setting and think past that sale to the details of ancient Mesoamerican thrones.

The text (Ether 10:6) says merely that Riplakish "did erect him an exceedingly beautiful throne." The article instead describes at length ancient Mesoamerican stone thrones that are "massive" and "elaborate."

The anonymous author cleverly doesn't even cite Ether 10:7, which refers to fine work of gold. As I explained yesterday, that description lines up with the one in Mosiah about Noah's throne, which was specifically made of wood.

Not stone.

This is a common tactic that you will find often when you read Mesomania material.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Mesomania Magazine and the Sorenson translation resurfaces

You wouldn't believe how much material I have for this blog. Even if the Mesoamerican advocates stopped publishing altogether, I have a couple of years' worth of material already stacked up. But they continue to publish new stuff, and it's awesome. Obviously I can't cover everything, but sometimes, the material is so exquisite I can't pass it up.*

Yesterday, Mesomania Magazine (sometimes called Meridian Magazine) published a classic KnoWhy about the serpents in Jaredite times. I had some fun with this one at one of my other blogs. In case you missed it, go here.

Throughout 2016, Mesomania Magazine has been publishing these daily items on Book of Mormon topics. When they're not trying to foist Mesoamerica off onto members of the Church, they're pretty good. But they whenever possible, they promote Mesomania. That's why Mesomania Magazine republishes them.

It is not only Meridian that is completely devoted to Mesomania. So is Book of Mormon Central, the organization which generates these KnoWhys.

(For new readers, Book of Mormon Central is a front for the Ancient America Foundation, a long-time proponent of Mesoamerican theory. People have started referring to these daily entries as "no-wise" because of the contortions they go through to (i) cram the Book of Mormon into Mesoamerica and (ii) portray Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery as confused speculators who misled the Church about Cumorah.)

All year, I've offered to give an alternative perspective on the daily KnoWhy, but Book of Mormon Central has refused because it doesn't want its readers exposed to anything other than Mesomania. Book of Mormon Central purports to be a neutral scholarly site, but in reality it's a full-blown, 100% proponent of the two-Cumorahs theory and the Mesoamerica setting for the Book of Mormon. Consequently, for a while I commented on the most egregious examples of Mesomania, but readers of this blog now know how to spot them, so I let several pass without comment.

Yesterday's on serpents was just too absurd to ignore.

Today's is almost as good, as I discuss below.
_________________________

Yesterday I also posted an observation about the burden of proof on the Cumorah issue. This was on my consensus blog, here.

Sorry to give you these links, but I'm trying to keep the blogs organized by theme.
_________________________

Today's Mesomania KnoWhy appears in Mesomania Magazine here: http://ldsmag.com/why-did-riplakish-construct-a-beautiful-throne/This one pulls a fascinating sleight-of-hand you'll enjoy.

If you recall, early in this blog I identified one reason for Mesomania. LDS scholars and educators have been using the Sorenson translation of the Book of Mormon instead of the translation provided by Joseph Smith. Today's nowise is a great example of this.

Plus, it's a nice example of the illusory "correspondences" we see in all the Mesomania-inspired interpretation of the text.

The no-wise starts out by accurately quoting Ether 10:6, "And he did erect him an exceedingly beautiful throne." But in no time, this is retranslated as a "stone" throne. It's not even a subtle transition. Look at this paragraph:

Riplakish, the tenth Jaredite king, was a vain and wicked ruler who “did erect him an exceedingly beautiful throne” (Ether 10:6).[1] While it is difficult to determine the exact timing, it is safe to say that this story about an extravagant throne dates to very early on in pre-Columbian America.[2] LDS archaeologist John E. Clark confirms that: “The earliest civilization in Mesoamerica is known for its elaborate stone thrones.”

Unless you're reading through Mesomania lenses, the text says nothing about stone thrones. The Book of Mormon refers to a "throne" in 23 verses. Most of these are references to God's throne or generic thrones of various leaders. Only two thrones are described with adjectives.

Riplakish's throne in Ether 10:6 is "exceedingly beautiful."

Noah's throne in Mosiah 11:9 is part of the palace, described this way:
"And he also built him a spacious palace, and a throne in the midst thereof, all of which was of fine wood and was ornamented with gold and silver and with precious things."

So we have a throne and palace made of fine wood and ornamented with precious metals, and a throne that is "exceedingly beautiful."

That's it.

But in the Sorenson translation, as explained in today's no-wise, we have "thrones of stone... usually made out of a single, large, altar-like stone, ornamentally carved with three-dimensional depictions of the rulers themselves seated in cave-like openings... painted or otherwise adorned in 'brilliant colors.'"

The text says the throne was "exceedingly beautiful" but in the Sorenson translation, we have instead a "massive," "elaborate" throne that "depicted him as seated between the earth and the supernatural or divine realm." Here's what was involved with creating this throne: "The massive stones used to make these thrones and the Olmec’s colossal stone heads could weigh up to 40 tons, and were transported from as far as 90 km (about 56 miles)."

Not only that, but "To construct an 'exceedingly beautiful throne' required that Riplakish possess sufficient power to harness a massive labor force."

Wow. Later, I'll show what the text actually says about this "massive labor force," but for now, let's look at my favorite paragraph, the last one:

"The book of Ether’s overall portrayal of the construction of an elegant and elaborate throne very early in ancient American history is entirely correct, even though, as John E. Clark put it, “American prejudices against native tribes in Joseph’s day had no room for kings or their tyrannies.”21 This led Clark to ask, “How did Joseph Smith get this detail right?”22 However one wishes to answer that question, the study of early pre-Columbian thrones sheds considerable light on the story of Riplakish."

This would all be well and good except Joseph (or Moroni, or Ether) forgot to mention that Riplakish's throne was made out of stone. That's the detail that the Sorenson translation provides, as explained in this no-wise.

IOW, the "entirely correct" portrayal comes from Sorenson, not the Book of Mormon text. 

And you have to admire the conversion of the simple phrase "he did erect him an exceedingly beautiful throne" into "Ether’s overall portrayal of the construction of an elegant and elaborate throne very early in ancient American history."

There's no better example of Mesomania than this (although there is an overabundance of examples).
__________________

Now, regarding illusory correspondences.

I'm curious if there is any human society that did not feature a throne of some kind. Wikipedia notes that "Thrones were found throughout the canon of ancient furniture. The depiction of monarchs and deities as seated on chairs is a common topos in the iconography of the Ancient Near East."

The very first chapter of the Book of Mormon mentions thrones twice (1 Nephi 1:8, 14). The Isaiah passages in 2 Nephi refer to the throne of God and the throne of David. In Mosiah, we read about Noah's wooden throne. Additional thrones are mentioned in Alma and Ether.

I've pointed out before that the Mesomania-inspired arguments about correspondences follow this logic:

Nephites grew crops.
Mayans grew crops.
Therefore, Nephites were Mayans.

We're seeing the same thing here with thrones.

Jaredites had thrones.
Olmecs had thrones.
Therefore, Jaredites were Olmecs.

Except for one important point: the evidence of stone thrones in Mesoamerica contradicts what the text says, at least about Noah's wooden throne. 

Now, critics will say I shouldn't conflate the thrones of Noah and Riplakish. I'll address that below, but first, think about this. If you were Ether, or Moroni, how would you describe a stone throne that looked like the one depicted in the no-wise here:



What terms come to mind?

Massive? Definitely.
Colossal? Sure.
Elegant and elaborate? Maybe, but that's a stretch.

But "exceedingly beautiful?"
No way.
No way in a million years.

The no-wise itself says "Such thrones were usually made out of a single, large, altar-like stone, ornamentally carved with three-dimensional depictions of the rulers themselves seated in cave-like openings."

These Olmec "thrones of stone" were built for 350 years, according to the no-wise. Maybe some were painted, but of all the thrones mentioned in Ether, only this was "exceedingly beautiful." If you have Mesomania, it was more beautiful than all the similar thrones built over 350 years (or more).

It was exceptional.

What would Ether, or Moroni, find beautiful about such a stone throne? Would it be the image of Riplakish? Some other pagan depiction? Difficult to imagine. But it's not just beautiful, it's exceedingly beautiful. Something even Ether, or Moroni, would admire, despite the fact that Riplakish "did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord."

The text tells us.

It was the "fine work."

The throne is described in Ether 10:6, but look at Ether 10:7. "Wherefore he did obtain all his fine work, yea, even his fine gold he did cause to be refined in prison; and all manner of fine workmanship he did cause to be wrought in prison."

This is actually another link between the thrones of Noah and Riplakish.

Mosiah 11:10: "10 And he also caused that his workmen should work all manner of fine work within the walls of the temple, of fine wood, and of copper, and of brass."

So here, in the only two description of thrones in the entire Book of Mormon, we have two kings having their subjects produce "fine work."

In fact, the text refers to "fine work" only four times, all within the same passages that describes the thrones of Noah and Riplakish:

Mosiah 11:8
8 And it came to pass that king Noah built many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper;

Mosiah 11:10
10 And he also caused that his workmen should work all manner of fine work within the walls of the temple, of fine wood, and of copper, and of brass.

Ether 10:7
7 Wherefore he did obtain all his fine work, yea, even his fine gold he did cause to be refined in prison; and all manner of fine workmanship he did cause to be wrought in prison. And it came to pass that he did afflict the people with his whoredoms and abominations.

Ether 10:23
23 And they did work in all manner of ore, and they did make gold, and silver, and iron, and brass, and all manner of metals; and they did dig it out of the earth; wherefore, they did cast up mighty heaps of earth to get ore, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of copper. And they did work all manner of fine work.

Is it really unreasonable to infer from the Ether passages that the "fine work" related back to the "exceedingly beautiful" throne?

As used in the text, "fine work" involves wood and precious metals, all in connection with the only two thrones described in the text.

But according to the Sorenson translation, Joseph made a mistake. He should have explained that these were actually stone thrones, because... because Mesomania.

I suppose we can excuse Joseph for this oversight. After all, he made an even bigger mistake, because the Hill Cumorah is in southern Mexico, right?
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The most appalling aspect of these Mesomania no-wise is not that Mesomania Magazine republishes them under the url "ldsmag.com" right next to faith-sustaining articles on other topics, but that LDS scholars and educators continue to perpetuate the false narrative that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery misled the Church on such a fundamental question as the location of Cumorah. 






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*Obviously, if LDS scholars and educators ever decided to jettison their two-Cumorah theory to return to what the prophets and apostles have always said about Cumorah, I'd stop writing about this topic.