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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

2 Cumorahs? 1 Cumorah? Which Cumorah?

Going back to the topic of the Book of Mormon, the question is raised regarding the location of the Hill Cumorah in Upstate, NY and if it is the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon, where 2 major battles took place.

There was always only one hill Cumorah

Every prophet from Joseph Smith to Gordon B. Hinckley has always taught that the hill Cumorah in Upstate, NY was the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon. In fact, as recently as 1990, the secretary of the first presidency reasserted this claim in a letter that states very clearly that according to the first presidency, there is only one hill Cumorah.
2 Cumorahs? Huh?

The first time I have ever heard of the theory that there are 2 hill Cumorahs was on my mission. I went on a mission in Latin America and as a missionary, I met an American living there that worked for the church-funded New World Archaeological Foundation. While on my mission, he told me in a dinner conversation that if the Book of Mormon lands occurred in Mesoamerica, it was impossible and unreasonable to believe that both major battles took place 3,000 miles away in Upstate, NY. He went on to say that they were looking for the "real" hill Cumorah in Mesoamerica. So the way he explained it was that the hill Cumorah in Upstate, NY was where the gold plates were deposited, but the battles in the Book of Mormon took place in another hill Cumorah in Mesoamerica. This is the first time I have ever heard of the idea that there might be 2 hill Cumorahs.

My companion and I both had the same reaction: "2 hill Cumorahs? Huh?" I told the other companionships that were living in our apartment. They all had the same response. We were all surprised and completely taken back, as this is the first time we had ever heard such a thing. Looking back, I can see how the cognitive dissonance was working its magic as we all started doing our little mental gymnastics. As it always does, a few weeks went by, and we put it out of our mind and didn't think much of it (selective retention). However, this experience was one of many that happened on my mission that planted seeds of doubt that ultimately led to my disillusionment 7 years later.

It is important to note that the overall consensus among LDS scholars and apologists is that there must have been 2 hill Cumorahs, which contradicts the teachings and long held established position of the LDS church.

Why did Moroni travel 4,000 miles?

One would ask why Moroni had to travel all the way from Mesoamerica to upstate, NY carrying the plates by himself. Did he really have to travel that far to get away from the Lamanites? Not only that, but according to Brigham Young, Moroni made a quick stop to Utah on the way to dedicate the site of the Mani temple. That is quite a walk for someone lugging around those heavy metal plates. Not just that, but why would he feel he needed to climb up the rocky mountains with the plates just to dedicate a site, hike back down the rocky mountains and go all the way to Upstate, NY? I suppose that "anywhere is walking distance if you have the time"(Steven Wright). I guess Moroni must have had quite a bit of time on his hands, but maybe he had some help from the 3 Nephites.

Moroni walked the same distance it would take to get to the core of the Earth. I guess Moroni wasn't very bright, as he made a 3,000 mile journey into a 4,000 mile journey by making that stop in Utah to dedicate the Manti temple site. I guess after 3,000 miles, what is another 1,000? But then again, that extra 1,000 mile journey included the rocky mountains. He also could have left the plates somewhere closer to Mesoamerica and make Joseph Smith make the 3,000 mile journey from Upstate, NY. Instead, Moroni was nice enough to deposit them just over a mile from where Joseph Smith lived at the time.

The Paradox

The paradox is that on one hand, you have the official first presidency of the church claiming there is only one hill Cumorah. On the other hand, you have LDS apologists and scholars claiming there are 2 Cumorahs. According to the church, it is best to side with the brethren because they are men from God and to rely on reason and logic is to rely on man's wisdom and not God's wisdom. Therefore, it seems that people that say there are 2 hill Cumorahs are apostates.

Really, none of it makes any sense at all. I think more likely Joseph Smith made it up. I don't think there ever were any gold plates. Perhaps Joseph Smith made plates out of common tin and used it as a "prop". Nobody besides Joseph Smith ever actually saw the gold plates with their physical eyes. It was either spiritually or felt through a sack cloth, but never directly.

And what about Brigham Young's comments about Moroni dedicating the Manti temple site? Once again, was Brigham Young just "speaking as a man"? It seems that the early prophets were wrong on just about everything they have ever said. That also begs the question if they were wrong about so many things, why would God call them as prophets in the first place?

Mormon Challenge

Now, I would like to turn the tables on defenders of the LDS church. Since I have provided a source for the official statement regarding the single hill Cumorah, I would like to know if you can find a single source where a prophet or apostle has said that there are 2 hill Cumorahs.

The really funny thing is that the first presidency has been really hush-hush about the hill Cumorah thing. Notice on the website they mention the hill Cumorah as a a part of the history of early Mormonism, but fail to mention anything about the Book of Mormon battles. What has happened is that there have been SOO many LDS apologists that have come up with the 2 Cumorahs theory that the first presidency has become overwhelmed and have had to change their position from an official "one hill Cumorah" to an official "we don't know how many Cumorahs there are" position. It seems that the church is run from the bottom up, not from the top down. It begs the question again, why do we need prophets?

Not just that, but most people today understand that there are 2 hill Cumorahs. The worst part is that people somehow believe that it was always taught this way, which is absurd.

Disillusioned Mormon

68 comments:

NM said...

I have to say, this is pretty compelling stuff. I've put your case forward to Mr. Lindsay at Mormanity to see how they reply to your assertions Zelph...

Russell said...

Not that compelling, NM--esp. given that MOrmonskeptic has not included key information (for reasons of which I am not sure; maybe simply unaware of it?). Watson would later clarify that this response was an off-the-cuff one, one he believed he was safe in making. In 1993, Watson would pen a letter stating:

"The Church emphasizes the doctrinal and historical value of the Book of Mormon, not its geography. While some Latter-day Saints have looked for possible locations and explanations [for Book of Mormon geography] because the New York Hill Cumorah does not readily fit the Book of Mormon description of Cumorah, there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site."

Granted, other prophets have indeed ascribed various geographical locations to BOM landmarks; however, given the limited circulation of these comments (institute conferences, women's conferences), I refuse to accept them as doctrinal dictums, esp. when they haven't even been translated into the languages of major church centers (like French, German--some of them not even into Spanish). If the Church really did claim that the NY Cumorah was THE cumorah--that would be big news for Latin American peoples. Yet the Church has CONSISTENTLY disputed that there is any official BOM geography. James E. Talmage, Joseph F. Smith, George Q. Cannon (if I remember correctly) and more have said so.

I urge you that, even as a supposed "Mormon intellectual" that you be more concerned about gathering facts and less concerned about questioning merelyfor its own.

Elder Joseph said...

The two Cumorah thing ! hahahha

Its another way of deflecting and shelving the inevitable fact that its all a Con conceived and conspired of Joe Smith and probably Oliver Cowdery too .

When the second Hill Cumorah deception has run its course over the years to come and its shown that it is faulty too , then they will simply have a third Hill Cumorah probably under water somewhere. So you know now when it happens where they plageurised that idea from !

Who is running the church anyway ? So called Apostles and Prophets or BYU apologists who don't speak for the church according to themselves, so why should anyone even listen to them or take them seriously.....

Big bunch of liars and Deceivers the whole lot of them ... responsible for continuing a Sham which should have been disolved at the start.

But if people are duped then they have to accept some responsibility themsleves although most are just sincere people wanting to do the right thing and this is fertile ground for con men like Smith and Co.

Elder Joseph said...

russel

you said "The Church emphasizes the doctrinal and historical value of the Book of Mormon, not its geography ..... "

What Historical value ? It never occured anywhere and all the characters are fictitious .The American Indians are not Lamenites decended of Israelites ...

It has no Historical Value whatsover ....

A pure folly and the disgusting thing about that is Women/Teen girls were held in Polygamy over this by a few self Righteous OLD Bigots !

Those Scoundrels held power and authority they didn't earn or deserve.

tatabug said...

Zelph,

I can't believe it but you have me completely baffled on this one. However, I am thankful for Russell's comments which help shed some possible light on the issue. This is one that I will have to think about and do some research on.

Anyway, I thought this post was going to be about the peep stone in the hat and other issues surrounding the whole translation hoax. I even emailed Elder Joseph to tell him your next post would be dedicated to him. What's up with that? I was armed and ready for you. Now here you go pulling a fast one on me. I guess next time I better not give you a heads up. LOL!

Zelph said...

Russel,

Thank you for that information, I would like to see that letter as well. I have never heard of it before, so this is the first I am hearing of the later letter.

I think that it backs up my position. I find it convenient that 3 years later he back pedals on his position, probably after much ridicule from LDS apologists. As I said, it seems the church is run from the bottom up, not from the top down.

So Watson later says his original response was off-the-cuff? Funny, that is not what the original letter says.

"The church has long maintained, as attested to by references in the writings of General Authorities, that the Hill Cumorah in western New York state is the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon".

Sure sounds like a confident statement from someone after doing research on the subject to me.

Once again, I would like to see a single source where a prophet, apostle or any other general authority has said there are 2 hill Cumorahs.

I disagree with you that the only statements regarding the single Hill Cumorah theory were in limited circulation and minor comments.

The church has disputed official Book of Mormon landmarks with the exception of the Hill Cumorah. The Hill Cumorah has always been the only official church location for the Book of Mormon, and now that position is changing.

One thing I will agree with is when Watson made the statement "there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site.". That is because the Book of Mormon text is just that- text and nothing else. It is not a true story, it is fictional. That is why we will never find connections between the Book of Mormon text and any physical site.

How can one emphasize the historical value of the Book of Mormon and devalue the geography? The geography IS the historical value.

The church establishes visitor's centers and memorial buildings and monuments for every historical Mormon site they can get their hands on. Now, when they can't find a single location for the Book of Mormon, suddenly the geography is "not emphasized".

Zelph said...

Tatabug,

Yes, the translation process is coming, and was supposed to be this one. However, I want to be sure to read the article you sent me, which I have not done yet. Don't worry, it is coming.

paranoidfr33k said...

Interesting stuff. I've not researched the validity of the Hill Cumorah claims myself, but I do have a thing or two to say about the Book or Mormon in general... I think the whole things is a scam. I haven't been able to figure it all out yet, but I'm working on it.

You touch on a huge problem, and that is that nobody actually saw the golden plates. And that fact that Joseph Smith didn't actually need the plates to translate, he actually used rocks in a hat, so the idea of Gold Plates is just a prop in an elabrate scheme. Its a physical aspect to the Book of Mormon that helps build the story of how we got it, but it actually wasn't needed.

I'm actually working on a post myself on that subject, so I hope you stop by in the next few weeks and check it out.

/paranoidfr33k

Stance For Truth said...

Zelph, I have been out of town for the last few weeks as I read this, I am reminded that I have to update my blog.

Let me first start by saying that I understand why so many people it seems are leaving the church and starting blogs about why they left the church. people feel betrayed and lied to.

However, look deeper within yourself and you will see that the story of the Book of Mormon does not have to be literal for it to be a message from God.

I went through the same thing you are going through. I struggled with many things, the Hill Cumorah is one of them, lack of any evidence to authenticate the Book of Mormon was another. However, I emerged from this inner struggle with a deeper understanding of the meaning and symbolism of the stories in the Book of Mormon.

When people search frantically for evidence of the physical journey of the characters in the Book of Mormon, they will never be satisfied. They will just keep looking forever. However, when people understand that the Book of Mormon is a spiritual journey, they can stop looking for physical artifacts that do not exist and focus on the self, which is the main purpose of the Book of Mormon.

Bishop Rick said...

Stance for truth,

Your assessment might be valid if the majority of the BofM is about war and strategy with the peaceful times glossed over.

Bishop Rick said...

If you read Ether 15:11, it states that the great battle of the Jaradites takes place on the same hill where Mormon hides the plates.

So either there is only 1 hill cumorah and it is in NY, or the plates where hidden in a different hill cumorah than the one in NY, and then disapparated to NY.

Zelph said...

Russell, I thought I would point out a few choice quotes by some of the people you mentioned about what they have to say regarding the Hill Cumorah.

"The hill, which was known by one division of the ancient peoples as Cumorah, by another as Ramah, is situated near Palmyra in the State of New York." (Apostle James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith , chapter 14)

"The Prophet Joseph Smith himself is on record, definitely declaring the present hill called Cumorah to be the exact hill spoken of in the Book of Mormon." (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation , Vol.3, p.232)

There are dozens more quotes if you would like to visit this website.

Once again, I would like to see where an apostle or prophet said that there are 2 hill Cumorahs, so far I have provided 3 sources that indicate very clearly that there is only one hill Cumorah.

Zelph said...

Bishop Rick, Couple Ether 15:11 with this quote:

"It was in this hill (the hill Cumorah) that Mormon deposited all of the sacred records which had been entrusted to his care by Ammaron, except the abridgment which he had made from the plates of Nephi, which were delivered into the hands of his son, Moroni. We know positively that it was in this hill that Moroni deposited the abridgment made by his father, and his own abridgment of the record of the Jaredites, and that it was from this hill that Joseph Smith obtained possession of them." (President Anthony W. Ivins, Conference Report, April 1928-Morning Session He was first counselor in the First Presidency when he gave this talk)

I can pull out a million more quotes, the point is that it was taught and well established for over 150 years that there was only 1 hill Cumorah. Only recently, as in 15 years ago has the church done a complete 180 on the subject.

Bishop Rick said...

tatabug,

Here is an article written by Marion G. Romney, second counselor in the First Presidency. It is called America's Destiny in the November 1975 Ensign.

In it he states that the Hill Cumorah in NY is the same Cumorah where the great battle of the Jaradites takes place as well as the great battle of the Nephites and Lamanites.

Zelph said...

Just one more quote then I am going to bed.

"Both the Nephite and Jaredite civilizations fought their final great wars of extinction at and near the Hill Cumorah (or Ramah as the Jaredites termed it), which hill is located between Palmyra and Manchester in the western part of the State of New York. Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and many of the early brethren, who were familiar with all the circumstances attending the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in this dispensation, have left us a pointed testimony as to the identity and location of Cumorah or Ramah."(Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, page 174-175)

When you read all those quotes, they are not speculating, they are not giving their opinion, they are stating very firmly a fact that there is only one hill Cumorah. Even the letter, which the secretary back-pedaled 3 years later is very firm and secure. I wonder what went on in the mind of the secretary of the first presidency when after doing extensive research finding dozens of quotes by early prophets assuring that there is only one hill Cumorah, then being pounced by LDS apologists.

Bishop Rick said...

It is obvious that the 2 Cumorahs theory is recent and contradicts teachings of Prophets and Apostles throughout the history of the church.

Not even Jeff Lindsay or any other apologist can deny this.

Elder Joseph said...

I've looked at this Cumorah thing over and over and it only makes sense when you realise the church isn't what it claims to be . How long will they keep the Limited Geography Theory going?

There is more than a 'coincidence' that the Island of Comoros off the coast of Africa happens to have the capital city called Moroni and is the setting for Captain Kidd Treasure Hunting Stories which probably captivated the mind of Joseph Smith .I haven't been able to verify exactly when the capital city was named though but its likely that here is just another piece of the whole BofM puzzle .

tatabug said...

It may have indeed been taught by some that there was only 1 Hill Cumorah, but I have a hard time buying that interpretation. It is certainly possible, however difficult, but what little I know, points to two. It seems evident to me that there is no established doctrine and that Church leaders have made claims as if they "know" it for a fact. I think this may have been rash and a bit presumptuous of them. But I do know that these men are not infallible. They are after all only human. I do, however, wish they would be more careful about how they put forth such claims. I still intend to study this one when I have more time.

But anyway, my interpretation is that part of the records were buried by Mormon, and the remainder were taken by Moroni (See Mormon 6:6), perhaps to take them elsewhere. I can't see why Mormon would bury part of the records, and leave part with Moroni only to have him bury the remaining records in the same place later. Moroni is, after all, wandering to get away from those who are trying to kill him.

Bishop Rick,

Thank you for the link and I will check it out.

Jeremy said...

Stance For Truth: "...you will see that the story of the Book of Mormon does not have to be literal for it to be a message from God."

BUT the book has always been taught to be a history not a story.

paranoidfr33k: "he actually used rocks in a hat"

He used one rock, a "seer stone" that he found digging a well with his brother.

Tatabug: "It may have indeed been taught by some that there was only 1 Hill Cumorah, but I have a hard time buying that interpretation."

From what I have seen, read and been taught, it's not interpretation, it has been taught as historical "fact".

This is one of those things that I feel most members "can't see the forest through all the trees". Everything is right here in front of them but it's just too hard to see it.

TBM Mike said...

You guys have it all wrong, and you should listen to Russell. I have prayed about this very thing, and had an answer whispered to my heart by the Holy Ghost.

There is indeed only one Hill Cumorah. This is what the Holy Ghost has revealed to me. Here is what happened: The Hill Cumorah (or Ramah, as called by the Jaredites, who I know were a true and bee-keeping people) was a hill near the narrow neck of land connecting the American continents. The Jaredites perished there during a great battle. Mormon hid the records he received from Ammaron there. And Moroni his his golden compilation of these records there, in middle America.

So how did Joseph Smith find the plates in the hill near his home in Palmyra? Well, after the Spirit had revealed to me that there really only was one Hill Cumorah, I asked this question. After much fasting and prayer, I received a burning in my bosom that this was the answer. I know that it was from God because I took some rolaids, which did not help, and some pepto, but still I burned.

As revealed to me by the Spirit, Joseph found the plates in the hill near his house, which was THE SAME HILL THEY WERE BURIED IN FROM MIDDLE AMERICA. During the great apostasy, that hill was teleported from Middle America to upstate New York by a beam shot out from the flaming swords of the Cherubim, the very blessed beings who were called to guard the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.

In fact, during the millenium those same Cherubim will teleport the Tigris and Euphrates rivers from ancient Babylon to Adam-Ondi-Ahman in Missouri to recreate there the Garden of Eden where it originally was prior to the telestization of the earth, during which time the Lord placed dinosaur bones throughout the Earth to confuse man and cause them to live by faith.

It all makes perfect sense. Just pray about it.

Jeremy said...

So all I have to do to make sure the burning in the chest is from God is keep some Rolaids near by?

TBM Mike said...

Ask and you shall receive, Jeremy. Just make sure you didn't eat Mexican that night.

Bishop Rick said...

tatabug,

If you read Mormon 6:6 carefully, along with the books of Ether and Moroni, it would appear that Mormon sealed up all the plates except those used to abridge the Book of Jared and finish the book of Mormon.

Then apparently Moroni read the plates of Jared and sealed them up, then finished abridging the book of Jared from memory, then sealed it up. Then later, since he was still alive, decided to write the book of Moroni, and then sealed it up.

It does not appear that Moroni had the all the plates comprising the book of Mormon, only those needed to finish the books of Mormon and Jared, and few blanks to write the book of Moroni.

On a side note, no one rejects the teachings of the prophets and apostles of the LDS church more than LDS apologists. Has anyone noticed that? All of these guys are fallible and can't be trusted in anything they say that is outside the canon. Makes me wonder what their purpose is, because they surely are not capable of fulfilling the "...and will yet reveal many marvelous things..." prophecy.

tatabug said...

TBM Mike,

You really had me going there for a minute. I was so waiting for some amazing explanation. Funny, real funny.

Bishop Rick,

Good analysis of the scriptures. Anyway, apologists make clear that they are not speaking for the church, and they are fallible, but I think overall they do a great job, especially considering how difficult a task they undertake, to try and explain the seeming unexplainable. Come on, give em a break.

Jeremy,

I wasn't saying that I'm not buying that it hasn't been taught as fact, I'm saying I'm just not sure that I believe that there was only 1 Cumorah. But I'm still working on that one, and I'll get back to it next week when I return. However, my faith is not shaken.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

It's impossible to believe there is only one Hill Cumorah in NY and say the BofM is true in the same breath.

If this were true, then you'd see evidence of the armies that fell, with their swords, breastplates, and shields.

Nada.

Nowhere in that area of New York do you find evidence of any of that. Hmmm. And if the BofM states that hundreds of thousands of warriors were slain at the Hill Cumorah (see Mormon 6) who had used swords, breastplates, and shields, yet there is no evidence of even ONE sword from that area...and it is "the most correct of any book on earth"...then something doesn't jive.

joshsuth said...

you guys are entertaining. I taked with Elder Joseph in detail today, the ironic thing is, he is ver unfamiliar with the bible and doctrine. But spends alot of time on mormon history. Does not know if he has a testimony of Jesus Christ, yet knows for a fact JS was not a prophet. It does not make sense. Is everyone here on the same boat? No belief in God, just hate for mormons? Or are some here believers in Christ?

Jeremy said...

joshsuth,

One doesn't have to have a testimony in Jesus Christ, God or even Santa Clause to believe or not believe Joseph Smith.

Zelph said...

Joshsuth-

First of all, welcome to this blog and I look forward to more responses from you. How about you go first so we can understand where you are coming from. Are you Mormon? From your post, it sounds like you are Mormon, but it isn't 100% clear.

I would like to respond to your post by saying that most Mormons know very little regarding church history, at least the true history based on reality.

Zelph said...

Joshsuth-

Jeremy brings up an excellent point. Josh, do you believe in the prophet Mohammad? How can you say Mohammad was a false prophet if you don't even believe in the Qur'an?

You are unqualified to say if Mohammad was a false prophet or not, because you don't believe in the Qur'an. Only people that believe in the Qur'an can say whether or not Mohammad was a false prophet.

joshsuth said...

I believe in Christ and the bible. So of course I do not believe that he was a prophet.
I am mormon, I was talking with Sam the Utahnite, interesting guy, his blog is a little to vulgar for me, but I have talked with Elder a couple of times, he seems like a nice guy. One thing I have noticed on these blogs is that its alot of opinion. And quoting 2 sentences out of a 25 page sermon that was delivered in 1850. And background is never given concerning what was happening to the mormons at that time, what the topic of conversation was, and who it was delivered to. All I usually see is "..............blacks are not allowed to carry the priesthood.................." Journal of discourses, Vol 1 page 3
Usually followed by proving how the mormons are wrong in some way shape or form. Just my thoughts

Zelph said...

Joshsuth-

O.K. now that I know where you are coming from, I think I understand your point. I have tried to give entire discourses, like Brigham Young's discourses on polygamy, however I have found that it draws very little interest and zero response. I also think that whenever a quote is given, the knee-jerk reation is always the default "that was taken out of context!" so, I ask, O.K., then what was the context and what is meant by that statement. I usually don't get a response from that.

Most blogs are opinion. Once again, if someone made a blog that only provided historical documents with no commentary, nobody would read it. The idea is that I have an opinion, and you have an opinion so we have a way to talk about our differences in a community forum. We don't even have to agree, and that is the magical thing.

As far as this specific post, it is obvious that it was taught as fact that the hill Cumorah in New York was the same one as referenced in the Book of Mormon by every prophet from Joseph Smith to Gordon B. Hinckley. The problem I have is that now that pretty much every LDS apologist has disputed that fact, one has to reconcile that at least the prophets were wrong about that.

This blog is more of an explanation of things that have led to my disillusionment.

NateDredge said...

No matter how many times its explained to me I can never buy there being just one Cumorah.

NateDredge said...

Where'd you get the cool offical Church letter?

Elder Joseph said...

Josh ,
This blog is more calmer than SamtheUtahnites ....lol
The worst 'antimormon' is me so hopefully its not to bad and I'm learning to calm down as I go along .

The Official Letter is very interesting as I have decided to write a similar one myself concerning the location of Hill Cumorah in the next few days and perhaps address it to Dallin Oaks as I attended one of his visits here in England.

But what will he say ? Its almost predictable that he will say we should concern ourselves more with that we know and not what we don't know etc .

But I don't believe the things 'we know' are reliable anyway because no leader really knows what they are talking about in this church . Just look at the track record .

Just out of interest I have written to Gregory Dodge about the number of resignations/excommunications as I've heard that its running at about 100,000 anually .

Will he reply ? probably not , or at least I don't expect he will reveal the figures .Cults never really want to disclose things which may look shaky on the 'organisation' .Its what I experienced as a youth with the JW's . They teach us honesty while witholding vital information themselves which would give us a more informed choice about whether we want to be in the faith and in their case outright lying to us.

Elder Joseph said...

Just a quick correction on one point on my recent post .The term 'Antimormon'.

I'm not Antimormon , I love Mormons , I've spent nearly two years with them so far . I meant to say I'm anti LDS leaders teaching things which are untrue and to claim they are inspired and to be followed is really arrogant and foolish of them.

Zelph said...

EJ,

I also don't consider myself "anti-Mormon". I am Mormon. I think you are actually the most pro-Mormon because you are helping people see the truth behind the myth.

Elder Joseph said...

The most disturbing aspect of Hill Cumorah is the fact that the church Prophets and Apostles remain silent and daren't allow a dig for artifacts because they already know themselves there is nothing there .This shows how little faith they have in their own book while all the time giving assertive arrogant statements about the Book of Mormon being exactly what it purports to be .

Then they let BYU apologists spin excuses of another Hill Cumorah irrespective of what Joseph Smith and other Prophets taught about Hill Cumorah in New York.

Furthermore these BYU apolgists declare that they don't speak for the church. Hence hedging their bets because they already know they are ultimately wrong also.

So who speaks for the church ?

How tatabug is dealing with all this is difficult for me to understand .

Bishop Rick said...

According to the book of Alma, the land of Cumorah was part of the Land of Desolation, north of Zarahemla.

Does this sound more like Mezoamerica or New York?

Russell said...

I'm late in the game, Zelph--I've had much more to do than blog these days, like moving and preparing for grad. school in history (though I'm sure that sounds "convenient" to a 'skeptic' like yourself).

I'm not inclined to delve into minutiae nor inclined to play General Authority poker with you (I'll see your Talmage and raise you a Brother Joseph!). But I do know that the General Authorities have been viewed as (certainly according the secular left) somewhat antagonistic to the LDS intelligensia. Why, then, would the Church back off when this very crew would object?

Furthermore, I simply do not believe that Joseph knew the exact geography of the Book of Mormon. Joseph allowed for a central American geography in 1844 when the John Lloyd Stephens book came out. James E. Talmage said similarly during the revisions of the 1921 BOM that "it did not matter to me where this city or that camp was located." Widtsoe comfirmed that Joseph "did not say where, on the American continent, Book of Mormon activities occurred. Perhaps he did not know."

Yes, whatever Watson's research--however lengthy--it amounts to an off-the-cuff response when compared to Church authority.

If you wish to engage in blind skepticism (the irony--and it is I who is often accused of "blind faith"), that is your choice. However, don't think that educated Latter Day Saints are just going to roll over as you caricaturize minor pieces of evidence so that you can perpetuate a kind of false insecurity in the faith.

Russell said...

TBM Mike:

If you think that your snide remarks that caricaturize our belief represent an intelligent response, think again. Remarks like that reveal far to us more about yourself than about anything relevant to the topic. at hand.

tatabug said...

Well, I've had a little time to read up on this 1 or 2 Cumorah's thing, and it seems apparent to me that there is NO official position regarding it, even by Joseph Smith himself. There have been all sorts of theories floating around, even during his time, and he even seemed to be open to scholarly opinion in the matter. So, with what I've read, I am still compelled to believe in two Hill Cumorah's and not feel apostate in doing so.

Zelph said...

Tatabug- I am glad that you have taken the time to read up on the subject and have reached that conclusion, although I have come to a different conclusion.

Bishop Rick said...

tatabug,

The BIG flaw in the 2 cumorahs theory is that it doesn't explain how the plates are buried near the hill where the great battle took place, and then were magically disapparated (just finished latest HP book) to the 2nd hill cumorah.

Keep in mind, that JOSEPH HIMSELF said that the hill was filled with wagon loads of gold plates and the sword of Laban, and other precious things. I don't think Moroni was able to hook a few tapirs to his wagon and transport TONS of gold for 4,000 miles over mountainous terrain, all the while protecting them from the Chinese inhabitants.

This just doesn't make sense. What does make sense is that he would have buried them alongside the plates buried by his father, which were buried at the scene of the last great battle.

That means there would only be 1 hill cumorah, and it would have to be in NY.

The problem here of course, is that ALL evidence of these great civilizations and wars have vanished into thin air, making this highly improbable as well.

Bottom line: it doesn't really matter whether you believe in 1 or 2 cumorahs. Both cases are indefensible.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

BR,

What you forget is that people who believe in the literal truth of the church are able to maintain that all things are "defensible" if one has prayed and gotten a warm feeling, because to them this confirms that the thing they want to believe is indeed true. Facts/logic/evidence doesn't matter one whit then.

Russell said...

Sister Mary Lisa:

I disagree with your assessment of how Mormons find spiritual knowledge. As Joseph himself said: Mormonism encompasses all truth. God gave us the ability to reason, to think for a good purpose. Austin Farrar said that while rational debate does not create conviction, it creates an environment in which it may flourish.

Also, I disagree with Rick's description of the 2 cumorahs theory. Look at Sorenson's work for his research on how individuals have traversed continents solo. The Mississippi river would have worked nicely. Just some thoughts.

Bishop Rick said...

Russell,

I did not say it was impossible, just highly improbable.

Why would Moroni bury his set of plates in a different location than Mormon? That makes no sense. Plus the Mississippi river does not run from mezoamerica to NY, and does not flow south to north. I'm sorry this is not feasible either.

The only thing that really makes sense is that Moroni would have buried his set (really subset) of plates alongside the ones that Mormon buried. That means 1 Cumorah.

But as long as we are talking about possible scenarios, I'll play along. Here is one that might work:

Moroni goes back and digs up Mormon's plates, packs them on a tapir-drawn wagon, takes the wagon to the Gulf of Mexico, floats the wagon (powered by swimming tapirs) to the mouth of the Mississippi river and continues up the river. (FYI-tapirs are strong swimmers), Then connects to exactly the right river system at the right time to get close enough to NY, then has the tapirs land and pull the wagon to NY where he can bury the plates, the urim and thumum, the sword of Laban, and all the other precious things, into the side of Hill Cumorah II, so they can be found conveniently by JS.

If he only knew that JS would never use any of these things, he might be a little pissed after his herculean efforts - not to mention those of the tapirs.

Bishop Rick said...

You see folks, when you apply logic to mormonism, everything breaks down. In order to make all this stuff seem feasible, you have to apply nonsensical remedies to everything. After a couple hundred nonsensical remedies, you start to have a bit of pause.

Everything breaks down.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Or, BR, you pray about it, saying you think it's true but you need confirmation, and you get a burning in your bosom. Therefore it's true! Rest assured, though, that you'll find out in the next life all the mysteries that make no sense in this one.

What good is proving your faith if it's handed to you on a sensical silver platter? It has to NOT make sense in order for faith to be the miracle that saves you.

Duh.

Bishop Rick said...

I know, the stupid, "if we knew, we wouldn't need faith" argument is rediculous and only shows that there is no other real response, nonsensical or otherwise.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Russell ~

You disagree with my assessment of how Mormons find spiritual knowledge.

The following is taken from the Ensign » 1994 » April

Moroni’s Promise
By Elder Gene R. Cook
Of the Seventy

Moroni 10:5

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

Thus, while a first-time reader and ponderer may receive the needed confirmation of the book’s divine origin, members who long ago passed that milestone may have other new truths added to their spiritual store as they search the scriptures and follow the process described in Moroni 10:3–5 [Moro. 10:3–5]. The promise is extended to confirming “the truth of all things” (emphasis added); there is no restriction on the amount of truth we may receive through this process.


I think I got it spot on.

Russell said...

Sister Mary Lisa (thanks to her civil tone and willingness to engage the issue):

The statement I disagreed with was the following:

"Facts/logic/evidence doesn't matter one whit then."

Elder Cook's statement says nothing about the role of the mind in the acquisition of knowledge. The Church has a strong tradition of attorneys, scholars and "evidence-based" professionals in the faith (Holland, Maxwell, Faust and Oaks in particular).

In other words, I see rationality, evidence, and spiritual witness as all parts of one great whole.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Hi Russell ~

The reason I used the words facts/logic/evidence don't matter one whit on the Hill(s) Cumorah issue is because there is no actual evidence that suggests there was a great battle or plates buried or anything, in NY or otherwise. That's why you need the other method (praying) of determining "truth" and why so many Mormons are convinced that the Book of Mormon is literally true as Joseph Smith professed.

This is a tricky method, however. What about those faithful believers who never feel such a burning in their bosom? What about those who see the DNA research information that spells out the native American peoples came from Asia, not Israel, yet they felt the spiritual witness that the Book of Mormon was true?

You can perhaps see why confusion or skepticism abounds.

For me, skepticism also abounds because of the countless people throughout the ages who also felt the same spiritual witness about the god(s) of their religions, and about the truthfulness of their one and only true religion on earth. This makes me doubt my own past "spiritual witness" feelings.

Russell said...

I can see how confusion can indeed exist. Of course, reasonable people can disagree about the existence of evidence at any site (I would bet that this would be the case with us). But this distracts, I suppose, from a larger issue...

What relationship does evidence/rationality have with spiritual growth? For me, the two are inseparably intertwined. And I say this having examined the evidence in question. I believe that rational inquiry can produce results compatible with (even if not outright supportive of) traditional Mormon claims. Even if Cumorah is without evidence, that does not mean that the BOM is without evidence. There's been enough to convince me of PLAUSIBILITY, even though not absolute veracity (but that's how it is with ancient history anyway--we still can't even agree on the Bible's historical claims like the Exodus even)

And ultimately, if we are to delegitimize Mormon spiritual "feelings" because of others' religions (I really hate that word--carries with it baggage that isn't mine), we can also do the reverse. This process leaves us no choice but to delegitimize the very idea of higher power. But can this method of thinking withstand its own scrutiny? Can empirical methods prove empiricism?

For this reason, I have no choice but to believe that the LDS faith isn't just good (even the idea of "good" is itself a supernatural concept) but correct. For me, the alternative of believing that there is NOTHING is simply too terrible, too depressing...and needlessly so.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I can certainly understand feeling that the idea of NOTHING is too terrible, too needlessly depressing. Belief in God gives people direction, and is a comforting thing to many people, and it was to me my entire life as well. (I can't deny that religion also added stress and fear and needless worry to my life as well, but that's for another post).

For me, though, the realization that I can't look at the LDS religion as gospel truth anymore has been simply amazing. I've never felt more peaceful, more alive, more loving, more in control and actually steering my own ship as I have since ending my relationship with the church. It's been an amazing journey to say the least.

I find myself doubting the legitimacy of any higher power, especially the one the Mormon church believes in. That kind of God is not one I can respect (no offense intended toward you or anyone else who believes in him) nor would I choose to emulate him. I would never aspire to being like him, not in a million years. Which is rather a moot point since I doubt he exists anyway.

Good night, Russell. I'll check in tomorrow.

Russell said...

Sister Mary Lisa:

I understand quite well the people who make such arguments, even more so than those of differing Christian denominations. Incidentally, I've gone through similar and (and while I can't be sure of the nature of your journey) perhaps tamer version. I was "active" (so to speak) in the Church all my life--served a mission, the whole nine yards.

I'm not saying I just believe Mormonism because, well, you might as well believe in something. That would be foolishness; I respect and knowledgable about dozens of belief systems that I might follow and live a high quality life.

So this begs the question. EVERYONE has a paradigm, a belief system about how the world is--even if that belief is hard-rock empiricism. My question to you: What DO you emulate/follow if not the idea of a higher power?

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Good question. I am still learning and untangling myself from those mindsets I feel are unhealthy that I harbored my whole life as an LDS woman (I left the church in September of last year), and that takes some time and is not as simple as one might assume.

I don't think I want to emulate or follow anymore. I think I want to practice loving kindness toward all people, regardless of who, what, where, or why they are who they are. I know you will immediately jump on that and say, But I believe that too just as the LDS Church teaches! But it seems to me from experience that it doesn't quite work that way in the LDS faith.

I want to be able to be openly accepting of others even if they are different from me. I want to recognize that the man I know who is covered in tattoos and long hair with various piercings all over his body is a very decent and admirable human being. I want to tell my gay and lesbian friends and brother that they are every bit as deserving of finding love and meaning in their lives as I am, and that they are every bit as deserving of exaltation in the next life as I am (even though I don't believe in life after death anymore). I want to be able to be open to the idea that homosexuality is not about "perverse" sex, it's about love and intimacy and quality of life as my marriage is to me. I want them to be treated ethically at church, not being told they are getting fair treatment because they are able to marry just as I am: meaning marry a person of the opposite sex only. That's not right. I would hate any religion or person telling me that my attraction to and love for my husband is invalid and a sin, so why on earth would I ever do that to another person? I want to be able to be considered as valid and important as you, Russell, regardless of whether or not I'm male. I want to be able to follow my dreams, and not be told that the only valid dream I'm allowed by God to dream is motherhood and being a good wife in Zion. I want to not be required to get written permission from my non-member husband to take out my endowments, in other words I want to be treated as more than a child who's incapable of making adult decisions about her salvation. I want to be able to see my sisters who are never asked to marry feel like they are still worthy human beings with something to offer in THIS life. I want to be able to love my atheist friends and not assume they are automatically bound for hell because they don't adhere to the idea of a God. I want to be able to not look at my very good non-LDS relatives and know that they are better people than me, not judge them because of what they drink, or what church they belong to or not, but to view them favorably because they help others and are genuinely the most giving, non-judgemental people I know on this earth.

I think I appreciate the Buddhist philosophy more and more, the more I read about it. I think we all have good and bad inside us, and that we all have capacity for good and evil, but that good is inherently what most of us strive to act on.

Basically, I want to be able to live my life as I see fit, being careful to not hurt others, as this is unethical, and I want to be able to live my life without apology. This to me is the very essence of happiness.

I want to do good things not because someone told me to, but rather because it's the right thing to do. And I don't want to treat others well in order to secure my reward in the next life. I feel like being good to others is its own reward.

Does that answer your question? I ramble, but again, I'm still extricating myself from the more harmful mindset I was raised with.

Jeremy said...

Russell,

I must say, I appreciate your comments in this post a lot more compared to those in the translation post. I connect with what you are saying better here.

SML,

I really like how you expressed what you want in life. I feel that too many people leave the LDS church over something completely ridiculous such as their Bishop didn't say hi to them or just because they need an excuse to go out and do the things that church teaches against. For the record, none of those are the reason why I left.

My feelings are similar to yours in the sense that I too would like to see people outside the walls of a religion for who they are, not look at them and think that they are bad people for what they are doing. From my personal experience I have found that people often judge you based off of your worthiness status in the church, it may not be intentional but sadly it happens, Some of you may want to argue with me about that but there is no doubt it happens.

Since I left the church I felt a sense of liberation from those stereotypes and mind games. Surprisingly (to me anyway) I feel more tolerant of other people and religions, what people do, what people think, how people act, etc. Where as before I wasn't, I felt like I was better for being a member of the church but now I see that I was being very arrogant, and I'm not saying that to anger any current members or even say that every member is that way but that's truly what I felt. However now that I don't participate in the church or surround myself with the people of the church I have never felt better. I don't think less of people who are TBM, I only get annoyed at them when they begin to judge me for what I've decided to do and when they tell me I'm wrong for doing it. That's where my frustration begins.

Anyway, I don't know why I began to ramble there like SML did. But it's certainly something that I feel strongly about and wanted to only add my 2 cents.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Jeremy,

Your thoughts are similar to what I feel too. I noticed the same thing with myself upon leaving the church: I'm much more tolerant and open and loving than I ever felt before while striving to follow the religion.

Russell said...

Jeremy:

Yes, we're talking about more personal things here, things that are less "scientific" and quantifiable and, frankly, more significant and more pleasant (being told one's logic is circular without ever being told way can be oftimes irksome :) It's much stickier in pointing to "evidence" about the purpose of one's life, about the destiny of the soul unless you share certain assumptions. In the other post, I assumed we shared SOME assumptions about the issues, but I was off a bit. In these matters, the lack of empirical issues makes room for more understanding and communication.

Mary Lisa--You are right; I agree with (almost) every one of your desires, in spirit if not in letter. And I think you ARE following SOMETHING, even if that something is a disparate set of assumptions and desires that you eloquently elucidated. Elder Maxwell once remarked that absolute truth demands absolute love and absolute patience. Granted, I have not met many homosexuals in my life, but of those I have met, I have met some who seem to live high quality lives otherwise.

I regret that both of you have had the experiences you have had. I can only say that as Mormon living in the heartland of Mormondom, your experiences do not represent mine at all. Our Elders Quorum Presidents, Relief Society Presidents seemed (from my frequent interactions with them) utterly bereft of any judgmental attitudes. I have seen the women treated as nothing other than treasures in the kingdom; I know some call this "benevolent sexism," but whatever you call it, I wouldn't mind having a little of it come my way during those intense priesthood meetings.

As far as being open to other ideas, religion, I'm a strong believer in G.K. Chesterton's axiom (a Catholic writer, incidentally): the more we know WHAT GOOD IS, the more we will be able to find good in EVERYTHING. For me, that's what I love about the gospel--it's free-wheeling, free-thinking (contrary to some people's lived experience and popular depiction), and all-encompassing. I can appreciate Islam more, Hinduism more. The gospel makes me thirst to learn more about other religions; for me, it encourages thoughtful inquiry and invites us into the fray of the marketplace of ideas.

Again, sorry for wordiness. I just wanted to address both comments specifically.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Russell,

If the church finds all people good, why does it require such conformity in order to accept people? Why can't it allow for people to be good and still be as they are?

A good man who wishes to serve a mission may not do so with facial hair. What?? A good man who seeks to marry the man he loves and is fully committed to may not do so and still be accepted in the church. What?? A good girl who seeks to become a research scientist to cure cancer is considered a sinner for not sacrificing her dream and becoming a mother in Zion. What?? A good man who enjoys drinking a caramel latte first thing in the morning is not considered good enough to be worthy to attend the temple. What?? A good young man (a priest) who wears a blue shirt and tie to Sacrament Meeting is looked at askance and judged for not wearing the proper white shirt and tie. What?? A good girl who gets pregnant as a teen is judged at church, considered a sinner, a morally loose woman. Yet the good girl is loathe to share the details of the rape she endured by her uncle, the High Priest Group Leader everyone looks up to at church as a pillar of righteousness. What?? A good woman who chooses to don shorts that have a 6" inseam and a sleeveless shirt to mow the lawn on a 105 degree day (thereby not wearing her garments for two hours) is judged by her neighbor as a sinner. What?? A good woman who falls in love with a good man who is not LDS is likely to be judged by many at church as having not been in the right "spiritual place" when she chose to marry him. What??

I could go on and on. I only wish the church leaders and the membership were free-wheeling, free-thinking, and all-encompassing. Some few select members are, but that's seriously rare, Russell.

Bishop Rick said...

I too live in the heart of Mormondom and will readily admit that all the Wards I have been a member of in UT County are filled with good meaning people. Many are judgemental as described by SML, but only do so because they think that is the correct way of thinking. In so doing, they unwittingly become "spiritual" elitist to a degree.

The primary teacher that teaches the 10-11 year old boys class (which my son attends) disciplines the kids for not wearing a suit and tie to church. He is preparing them to be priesthood holders at the age of 12. He is dead serious. The first offense is mentioned 1 on 1. Repeat offenses are reprimanded in front of the class.

I know he means well, but I can't help but think back to the days of Jesus and think, Jesus could care less what these kids wear, or if someone has a beard or drinks coffee. The LDS church is too restrictive and has no room for non-believers. If you are a non-believer (or non-member for that matter), you are shunned. You cannot baptize or ordain or even stand in. You cannot go to the temple to witness a loved one's wedding. You are left on the outside looking in. This is tragic and I can't help but feel that Jesus would not sanction this segregation. To fit into the Mormon world (church), you have to be a TBM. There is too much pressure to bear your testimony as if you worked for Amway. Everything you do requires that you bear your testimony, whether its home teaching, teaching a class, giving a talk, and alot of times just attending a class...I just don't believe in that. I didn't agree with it even when I believed the LDS church was "true". Its too much.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

BR ~

I'm curious if you did anything like talk to your son's teacher about the suit thing, and if so, what did the teacher say?

Russell said...

Sister Mary Lisa:

Many of the things you mentioned, I agree, should never happen, esp. your talk of women being castigated for pursuing their dreams and people looking down on folks for wearing particular kinds of clothes. I can only imagine if some sins were represented by the clothing we wear. Non-tithe payers, wife-beaters, embezzlers--all would look horrific.

That said, if a Church is to make any claim to an ideology (as all organizations must), it would be self-defeating to simply say that anything goes. They would cease to function as an ideologically-based organization and become a glorified Lion's Club with a really neato foundation myth and a few interesting ordinances. The Church cannot adopt the stance you take without giving up their very assumptions and premises--that is, that it is the true church and that God is at the helm.

But, as I said before, I agree with much of your concern. Too much judgment and not enough love. Perhaps a little cliche--but cliche s lived can do a lot for the world.

And Rick, while we disagree on much, I agree with you that this teacher would do well to be more Christ-like in his approach to teaching (D&C 121). Reprimanding in public is seldom, if ever, a proper course in my mind. Often, it is too much. But even still, I can count on my one hand the number of "pscyho" Latter Day Saints whom I would be skiddish about introducing to my non-member friends.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I'm not suggesting an "anything goes" practice, but the importance being placed on conforming and "looking" righteous is out of control, in my humble opinion.

My personal theory on why the general authorities and first presidencies are focusing so much on non-important things like how many earrings a girl has in one ear, or how long a man's hair is below his collar stems from the fact that no real revelation has been happening. They know people need something tangible from their prophets...but ours seem too busy running their financial empire to give us actual revelation from God. Or so it seems to me.

Russell said...

Sister Mary Lisa:

One thing I happen to know (because of family members being in certain positions in the Church) is that some of the apostles do not need the stipend they receive, yet take it anyway to avoid the perception of inequality amongst the brethren. Hardly makes for an image of capitalists, does it? Of course, if the Perpetual Education Fund and humanitarian work qualifies as their financial empire (I do happen to know that most of the brethren receive, I would be definitely be supportive of expansion and growth.

It sounds like you have lived in a very (if I may make the comparison)--"PLeasantville-esque" ward. I've seen men with long hair and beards in the temple (a temple in the heartland of Mormondom at that). The brethren, from my experience actually, seem remarkably unconcerned with earrings and hair length. I've heard much more talk about the gospel work expanding across the earth, about repentance, and about the importance of temples.

Upon looking at the most recent conference address, mostly young men women are instructed in this matter. Why? Because it is most relevant to them and in a sense, it is the most "tangible" way to teach them obedience--they have a hard time handling abstract concepts like repentance, obedience without such a modus operandi. I think any emphasis is more representative of the age group's need for a law of Moses than any real claim to grand revelations.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Yes, obedience is key in the religion, no doubt about it. Without it, the leaders are impotent.

Bishop Rick said...

The church has no place in teaching obedience. I'm sure this was not the intention, but that statement sounded a little hitler-youthish to me.

James Brian Marshall said...

I've known about the Hill Cumorah in south America ever since I was a boy. The RLDS Church has known about South American Hill Cumorah because RLDS priesthood teaches this.

I don't know what the LDS is teaching you folks, but you're days late and dollors short.

Sincerely

James Brian Marshall