Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The implausibility of M2C in real life

Recently, 7 stakes and 53 wards/branches were discontinued in Mexico.
http://ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com/2018/07/seven-stakes-and-53-wardsbranches.html

Some, perhaps most, of this could be attributed to the migration of Mexican LDS to America.

But think about that a moment.

Are they migrating to or from the choice land of the Jaredites, the promised land of the Nephites, the "mighty nation among the Gentiles" foretold by Nephi in 1 Nephi 22:7?
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We love the people who live in Central America, including Mesoamerica. Among them are wonderful, faithful Saints. We wish they could be more prosperous and free. Many of us donate time and money to help them, but when we travel there, we see how difficult life is and how deep the problems are.

Now think about M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory) from their perspective.

They see generations of young Mormon missionaries from the United States come to their countries to share the gospel. Because they have been taught M2C, these missionaries tell the people that they live in the promised land of the Nephites, the choice land of the Jaredites, etc.

But what do the missionaries do when their missions are completed?

They return to the U.S., most of them never to return to what they taught was the promised land, the choice land.

The Saints (and investigators) in Central America observe this. They know the United States offers the blessings of liberty and prosperity described in the Book of Mormon, while their own countries, thanks largely to the corruption of their governments and the criminal organizations that prevail, do not.

They recognize that the missionaries are saying far more with their actions than they are with their words.

Even the M2C intellectuals who promote Mesoamerica as the promised and choice land of the Nephites and Jaredites choose instead to live in the United States.
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When missionaries teach something that contradicts the obvious facts, how does that build faith? 

Imagine you live in Guatemala. Your home is protected by bars on the windows. You don't go out at night. If you have a business, you are likely to be robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight.

Like everyone you know, you are Catholic or Evangelical, and your faith makes life bearable despite the political and economic conditions. Many of your relatives have escaped to the United States, legally or not. You have thought about it, maybe even made plans, but it seems dangerous and difficult and expensive.

Then Mormon missionaries from the United States knock on your door. They give you a Book of Mormon and tell you that you live in the promise land of the Nephites. You live in the choice land, choice above all other lands.

You sit there, wondering if these rich Americans actually believe what they are saying.

Maybe you join the Church anyway, because the power of the Holy Ghost tells you the Book of Mormon is true even if you don't believe what the missionaries tell you about the promised land. Or maybe you like the idea that you live in the promised land and you ignore the cognitive dissonance that the idea generates.

Here's something to consider. Sacrament meeting attendance for the Central American region was around 117,000 in March of 2015. This includes all of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. According to http://cumorah.com/index.php, these countries reported a combined total of about 743,000 members in 2015. This suggests an activity rate of about 16%, which is consistent with other statistics I've seen from that area (as well as my own anecdotal experiences).

None of this diminishes the wonderful vitality of faithful members of the Church in those areas. Zion is where the pure in heart are, and every land is a gathering point for the people who live there. The stakes of Zion are a refuge no matter where they are located.

But maybe if the American missionaries stopped teaching the people in Central America that they lived in the promised land of the Book of Mormon, investigators (and members) would find their message more credible.
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People from all over the world seek to come to the United States because it remains the mighty nation among the Gentiles that offers liberty and freedom and opportunity and prosperity, thanks to the Constitution that was established by God.

This may sound nationalistic to some, but these are facts within everyone's knowledge and experience.

It's time to get real.

I think the M2C intellectuals are condescending to the people of Mesoamerica. To satisfy their selfish intellectual needs, they teach their students an inexcusable falsehood that nobody living in the real world actually believes.

I've even seen examples of M2C intellectuals claiming that the New York Cumorah is an attempt to steal the heritage of the Saints in Central America.

We don't know everything about migrations after 421 A.D., but it seems likely that Lamanites in North America intermarried with people throughout the Americas. In that sense, it would be true that the indigenous people throughout the Americas are descendants of Lehi as well as many other ancient explorers who came to the Americas.

But none of that means the Book of Mormon events took place in Latin America.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Watching BYU/CES


I frequently hear from students in classes at BYU/CES who tell me their teachers are still promoting M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory) without also telling the students what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah.

A minimum standard of integrity would require that every BYU/CES teacher tell students what the prophets have taught about Cumorah and then let the students decide whether to believe the prophets or the M2C intellectuals.

This fall we're going to observe what is being taught by BYU/CES, especially the introductory Book of Mormon classes at BYU. If the professors continue to teach M2C without also teaching Letter VII and the other teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, we'll publicize it.

If the professors want to also tell students that the prophets are wrong, that's on them. But we want students to at least have the option of choosing to follow the prophets or the M2C intellectuals.
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This is not merely a problem at BYU/CES.

Letter VII is nowhere to be found in the curriculum. Nor are any of the other teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. The M2C citation cartel has successfully suppressed all of these things in academic writings. The Correlation Department has cooperated by making sure Church artwork, videos, and visitors centers promote M2C.

Lately, revisionist historians in the Church History Department are censoring all mention of the New York Cumorah in the new book Saints. They are actually re-writing Church history by omitting historical references and replacing them with M2C euphemisms.

I think repudiating and censoring the teachings of the prophets will have disastrous consequences in the future. 

The prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah for good reasons. Among them is the historicity of the Book of Mormon itself. The New York Cumorah is not idle speculation; it's a core anchor, a touchstone between the Book of Mormon and the real world.

BYU fantasy map of
the Book of Mormon
Eliminate that, and we end up with the Book of Mormon in a fantasy world, the way it is being taught at BYU/CES right now.

BYU/CES are teaching the youth to believe the Book of Mormon is a true history that took place in a fantasy land. Does anyone really think this will lead to enduring faith?

The answer should be obvious.



Monday, July 16, 2018

Followup on controversial post "Jack Welch tells the prophets they are wrong"

My June 26 post titled "Jack Welch tells the prophets they are wrong," generated some unintended controversy so I want to clarify it by making two points.

First, I greatly admire and respect Brother Welch. I recognized and praised his contributions in my book Moroni's America and elsewhere. He's awesome and has done immensely important research and writing on many aspects of the Restoration. His work has built and fortified faith.

Second, his influence and credibility is probably the single most important factor for the perpetuation of M2C.

In other words, I think if Brother Welch decided to accept the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, M2C would vanish. Maybe not immediately, because too many people have too much invested into M2C for them to change their minds, but gradually, and inevitably, members of the Church would unite behind the prophets at least regarding the location of Cumorah.

(By this I mean the Cumorah of Mormon 6:6; i.e., there is one Cumorah and it is in New York.)

The New York Cumorah doesn't resolve the rest of the geography issues, of course; the prophets have been just as clear about that as they have been about the location of Cumorah in New York. But clarity and unity about Cumorah is even more important today than it was in 1835 when President Cowdery wrote Letter VII in response to attacks against the historicity of the Book of Mormon.
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I like to imagine what it would be like if all our LDS scholars would align themselves with the prophets, at least on the topic of the New York Cumorah. 

- They would teach their students that the prophets are correct instead of teaching their students that the prophets merely express their own opinions and are wrong whenever they disagree with the intellectuals.

- They would teach their students that President Oliver Cowdery was reliable and credible instead of attacking him as an ignorant speculator who misled the Church when he wrote Letter VII.

- They would teach their students that Joseph Smith was actually taught by Moroni about Cumorah instead of criticizing him as an ignorant speculator who misled the Church when he endorsed Letter VII and referred to Cumorah in D&C 128:20.

- They would teach the words of the prophets instead of the words of the intellectuals. For example, compare these two:

President Marion G. Romney:

In the western part of the state of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the “hill Cumorah.” (Morm. 6:6.) On July twenty-fifth of this year, as I stood on the crest of that hill admiring with awe the breathtaking panorama which stretched out before me on every hand, my mind reverted to the events which occurred in that vicinity some twenty-five centuries ago—events which brought to an end the great Jaredite nation....the Nephites, flourished in America between 600 B.C. and A.D. 400. Their civilization came to an end for the same reason, at the same place, and in the same manner as did the Jaredites’. 

BYU Professor John L. Sorenson, Mormon's Codex (Deseret Book, 2015), p. 688:

“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.”






 - They would stop teaching their students that Cumorah is in Mesoamerica (BYU Studies, Book of Mormon Central, and the rest of the M2C citation cartel).
BYU Studies map that teaches the prophets are wrong
- They would stop teaching their students that Cumorah is in a fantasy world (BYU/CES).

BYU fantasy map that teaches the prophets are wrong











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People often ask me why the LDS intellectuals, as well as the employees at BYU, CES, and COB, continue promoting M2C.

No one knows what others are thinking or what motivates them unless they tell us what they are thinking, the way Brother Sorenson did in the quotation above. But it doesn't really matter why the M2C intellectuals are doing what they are doing.

What matters is that they are teaching the youth in the Church, as well as investigators and long-time members, to disbelieve the prophets. 

In some cases, I think they are doing this unintentionally. That is, they simply don't know what the prophets have taught. It continues to astonish me how few members of the Church have ever heard of Letter VII. Few if any mission presidents, stake presidents, temple presidents (or their wives) have ever heard of it. Most are stunned when they find out that President Cowdery identified the New York Cumorah as a fact, and are even more stunned when they find out how ubiquitous Letter VII was during Joseph Smith's lifetime.

This is understandable because the M2C citation cartel has deliberately suppressed Letter VII and the teachings of the prophets, as I've documented many times on this blog and elsewhere.

But there are some M2C intellectuals who know perfectly well what the prophets have taught.

They simply think the prophets are wrong. Then they take it upon themselves to teach this to their students, often by simply not telling the students what the prophets have taught.

That's the topic of tomorrow's post.
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Back to the controversial post.

It included this graphic:
"But you were all ignorant speculators who misled the Church," 
the lawyer insists.
I don't think the prophets depicted in this graphic as Supreme Court Justices were wrong about Cumorah. Had it been only one or two, and had the New York Cumorah been taught as speculation, fine. That would have left the door open for M2C.

But these prophets taught the New York Cumorah specifically and consistently and persistently over generations, often in General Conference.

President Cowdery, who had actually visited the depository of Nephite records in the New York hill, declared it was a fact that the final battles took place there.

When any latter-day intellectual claims that these prophets were wrong, he/she better be absolutely positive and confident, because no matter who the lawyer is who represents him/her, I don't think the Justices are going to be persuaded.

Friday, July 13, 2018

M2C circular reasoning-no-wise #245

Everything we read from the M2C citation cartel consists of circular reasoning driven by confirmation bias. This is understandable because these intellectuals suffer from severe cognitive dissonance and the only way they can cope psychologically is to develop these bizarre, irrational arguments for M2C.

If someone has an example of an M2C argument that is not confirmation bias, I'd like to see it ASAP. Send it to lostzarahemla@gmail.com.

We love the people who promote M2C as brothers and sisters. But that's all the more reason for us to encourage them to change course and embrace the prophets instead of repudiating them.

Book of Mormon Central America is the most prolific purveyor of M2C nonsense lately. People send me links of the things they post on Facebook, which typically consist of another no-wise from the past.

From time to time I comment on the no-wise. I don't have time to address most of them, but sometimes I hear enough comments that I feel there's a need.

Here's a recent example:

http://www.bookofmormoncentralamerica.com/2018/07/no-wise-245.html

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Where the evidence takes us

First, many people have asked about the Oliver Cowdery Memorial in Palmyra. I posted photos on the Letter VII blog, here: http://www.lettervii.com/2018/07/oliver-cowdery-memorial-palmyra.html.

Second, we need to address an argument made by the M2C* intellectuals. The argument we consider today is the claim by M2C intellectuals that "we go where the evidence takes us."

Two problems immediately come to mind.

First, the M2C intellectuals reject the evidence provided by the prophets. President Cowdery declared it was a fact that the final battles took place in the mile-wide valley west of the hill Cumorah in New York. Joseph Smith embraced this declaration multiple times, as have all the prophets and apostles who have ever addressed the topic, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference.

President Cowdery was an eye-witness to Mormon's depository of Nephite records in the New York Cumorah, as was Joseph Smith and at least some of Joseph's brothers. Eye witness testimony is strong evidence, especially when it comes from someone credible and reliable--someone such as President Cowdery.

It is laughable to watch the current M2C intellectuals declare President Cowdery wrong.

And yet, it is a very serious matter because they are teaching M2C throughout CES and BYU.

Second, instead of going "where the evidence takes them," the M2C intellectuals are selectively choosing evidence that confirms their biases.

It is axiomatic that everyone thinks his/her opinions are correct; otherwise, they would change their opinions. Opinions are manifestations of deep biases, driven largely by upbringing, environment, and peers (and possibly DNA). Everyone seeks to confirm their biases.

In most cases, facts don't matter. Confirmation bias is a filter that enables us to reject facts that contradict our biases, while we accept facts that confirm our biases.

The M2C is a textbook example of confirmation bias.

I discussed this somewhat in my short book Mesomania. I'd expand that book with much more detail, but we're only dealing with a dozen or so M2C intellectuals, and they are much too deeply invested in their M2C ideology to change their minds, no matter how many contradictory facts they confront.

After all, these are faithful, dedicated members of the Church who openly repudiate the prophets because of their M2C ideology. It's difficult to imagine a more serious example of confirmation bias.

We are talking about BYU professors who teach their first-year Book of Mormon students that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah.

But their repudiation of the prophetic evidence is not the only problem.

They use circular reasoning to develop the "evidence" that they claim takes them to Mesoamerica.

The technique goes like this:

1. The Book of Mormon events took place in Mesoamerica (because of the anonymous Times and Seasons articles).

2. Mesoamerica has volcanoes.

3. The Nephites must have experienced volcanoes because they lived in Mesoamerica.

4. Therefore, the destruction in 3 Nephi must have been caused by volcanoes.

5. Mormon just forgot to mention volcanoes, so we, the M2C intellectuals, need to fix his mistake and declare the Book of Mormon describes volcanoes.

6. The existence of volcanoes in Mesoamerica therefore leads us to Mesoamerica as the setting for the Book of Mormon.

You can see how foolish this line of reasoning is. It starts with the premise that the M2C intellectuals want to "prove," so they create these requirements that are satisfied only in Mesoamerica and then claim the evidence "took" them there.

They do this with cement cities, the north-flowing River Sidon, the written language, Mayan banners, Mayan warfare, massive populations, etc.

Literally everything you read about M2C is circular reasoning.

One of the best examples is BYU Professor John Sorenson's massive book, Mormon's Codex. The entire book is absurd once you understand the circular reasoning behind it.
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Another way to consider the logical fallacy of the M2C approach is that everyone uses the exact same rationale, but reaches different conclusions.

Think about critics of the Book of Mormon. They also claim they follow the evidence where it takes them, but of course it leads them to conclude the Book of Mormon is fiction.

In all cases, people follow "the evidence" to the place where they wanted it to take them.

No one should be fooled by the M2C intellectuals. They have fooled themselves, but that doesn't mean we should let them continue to fool faithful members of the Church.

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*For new readers, M2C is the acronym for the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory, which is the idea that the hill in New York is not the "real Cumorah" of Mormon 6:6; instead, the "real Cumorah" is in southern Mexico or somewhere else in the world. Of course, this contradicts the consistent and persistent teachings of the prophets, but the M2C intellectuals openly repudiate the prophets so they don't care. Plus, they are teaching M2C at BYU and CES, so if your kids are going to seminary and institute, they are learning M2C.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

M2C intellectuals need you to disbelieve the prophets

Whenever you read about Book of Mormon geography published by the citation cartel (BYU Studies, Interpreter, Book of Mormon Central, Meridian Magazine, FairMormon, etc.), you need to realize they are still trying to persuade Church members that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah.

Everything they write and say about the topic assumes the prophets are wrong.

This includes BYU/CES teachers who teach the Book of Mormon itself.

The M2C intellectuals and their followers don't care what the text of the Book of Mormon says. They are focused on their interpretation of the text instead.

They will express all kinds of reasons why their Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory is correct, but their whole theory is confirmation bias and circular reasoning; i.e., because there are volcanoes in Mesoamerica, they claim the Nephites lived among volcanoes, even though no volcanoes are mentioned in the text.

It's the same with their circular reasoning about population sizes (they claim millions of Nephites because there were millions of Mayans), "cement cities" because the Mayans had big cities built of stone and cement (even though the text refers to buildings made of wood and cement, and then only as an exception to the normal use of wood to build buildings), and all the other tired arguments.

The last thing the M2C scholars want you to believe is what the prophets have taught about Cumorah in New York.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

July 4th and Captain Moroni

The saga of Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty is far more meaningful when we consider it taking place in the latter-day land of liberty.

Alma 46:12 explains that "he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.


13 And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land—"
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Certain LDS intellectuals don't think the Book of Mormon took place in North America because they think such an idea stems from nationalism.

They want believers in the Book of Mormon to think Captain Moroni was operating in the jungles of Central America, or in the imaginary lands currently being taught by the abstract maps at BYU/CES. According to the intellectuals who teach M2C, anyone who believes Cumorah is in New York is a nationalist.

Even if they live in another country.

And yet, most if not all of these intellectuals choose to live in the U.S.
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This 4th of July, think about the liberties you enjoy wherever you live in the world. Then remember what the Lord said about the U.S. Constitution:

80 And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.