He thought I was kidding.
I assured him I was not. I asked if he'd ever attended the Hill Cumorah pageant. He hadn't, so I described the set and costumes. They have actually recreated Mayan temples on the Hill Cumorah in New York.
I wish I was kidding.
Here is what I was talking about.
Note: these photos are directly off of lds.org. You can see them here.
Maybe creating a Mayan temple in New York is someone's idea of neutrality regarding Book of Mormon geography... This makes as much sense as a pageant in southern Mexico showing Joseph Smith obtaining the plates from the Cerro Vigia (where Mormon's record repository lays in wait, of course.)
Lest I be accused of criticizing the Cumorah Pageant, let me be clear that I don't attribute any of the Mesoamerican theory to the fine, creative people who put on the pageant, paint the paintings, produce the movies, print the manuals, etc. In my opinion it's the scholars perpetuating the theory who need to reassess their views in the face of the historical, geological, and geographical evidence.
John Sorenson set forth an important principle for evaluating Book of Mormon geography. “We need instead to use the entire scripture, without exception . . . We must understand, interpret and deal successfully with every statement in the text, not just what is convenient or interesting to us.”[i] I agree with him--which is why I don't use the Sorenson translation of the text.
In my view, a Mayan temple in New York is a good example of the conceptual underbrush that needs to be chopped away.