In a previous blog post I mentioned how Simon Southerton “has been trying to polarize apologists and others who promote various theories about the Book of Mormon.” An astounding example of that very avocation recently appeared under Dr. Southerton’s nom de plume on the Recovery from Mormonism message board.
An interesting “news” piece has appeared on the Signature Books website in the last few days. The undated piece, entitled Fair-weather Friends at FARMS and FAIR,” is interesting and somewhat amusing. Most interesting is why it would even appear as “news” on the website of a book publisher. It is not about one of their books or one of their authors; it is not about any of their employees; it is not about the company; it is not about the company’s financiers. What, then, makes a mention about FAIR’s analysis of a recent Book of Mormon geography publication news worthy?
Recently a small controversy ignited on Wikipedia over an article presumtively entitled “1831 polygamy revelation.” The original article doesn’t exist anymore (it’s since been merged into “Origin of Latter Day Saint polygamy“), but it raises an interesting and important question: When, exactly, did Joseph Smith start teaching plural marriage?
The trouble is that there are no contemporary first- or second-hand accounts of Joseph advocating polygamy [edit: in the early 1830s]. By that I mean there are no documents written by Joseph Smith himself (first hand), or by someone who personally heard Joseph say something (second hand) and wrote it down at the time (contemporary), that advocate the restoration of polygamy.
When it comes to verifying historical events, these criteria are important. Late reminiscences (things written from memory years later) and third-hand reports (“I heard Sidney Gilbert say that Joseph told him…”) are and should be treated with extreme suspicion. Memory is pliant and frequently influenced by later impressions and feelings, and stories passed from one person to another all too often take on a character remarkably unlike the original. One clear example of this is a late remembrance of W. W. Phelps of a supposed polygamy revelation received by Joseph Smith in 1831. [Read more…] about On the origins of polygamy (or, What did Joseph know, and when did he know it?)
Much has been said in the last few days about FAIR’s publication of our concerns regarding Rod Meldrum’s scientific and theologic errors in the Book of Mormon DVD he is selling. As more material appears, doubtless more will be said.
I had the opportunity to spend several hours reviewing the material. As I did so, I found one over-riding error that is probably responsible for 95% of the other errors which I found. [Read more…] about Advice from a Nobel Prize Winner
FAIR provides an “Ask the Apologist” service to which people send questions. In recent months many well-meaning individuals have asked why FAIR has not endorsed DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography, a DVD created and promoted by Rodney Meldrum.
As almost anyone not living in a cave is aware, the California Supreme Court recently ruled that the statute which limited “marriage” to a man and a woman was in violation of the state’s constitution, thus opening the door for thousands of gay people to enter into legally sanctioned marriages.
Even more recently, a voter petition to amend the California constitution was approved in California and will be on the ballot this fall. If approved, the constitution will be amended to state that marriage in California is between a man and woman. It would effectively override the ruling of the California Supreme Court.
The LDS Church has issued a letter to the Saints in California, seeking their active participation in getting the amendment approved by the voters. The letter represents a real threat to supporters of same sex marriage in California because, as was the case a few years back when a similar voter initiative was on the ballot, LDS members in California are numerous, organized, and have to the potential to swing the vote in favor of the amendment.
I have been involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints all my life. I was raised into it, nurtured by it, and used it as a crutch to lean on when things in life became difficult. And things were often difficult. My childhood was spent in the small Santa Cruz mountain town of Boulder Creek, California. Population 8,000 where true civilization is miles away and there are more tattoo parlors and tie dye shops than grocery stores, drug stores and gas stations combined. [Read more…] about Real Life as a Teenage Mormon
John Gee started his presentation on the Book of Abraham by detailing the provenance of the collection of some mummies and papyri taken as spoils in Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt. The items were shipped to America and put in a traveling pay-per-view show. Various buyers bought pieces of the collection, most notably the father of John Wilkes Booth. The Mormons in Kirtland also purchased a number of scrolls and mummies. Part of the Mormon collection ended up being burned in the 1871 Chicago fire and some of it ended up in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met knew what they had. Dr. Gee showed us a 1948 publication that associated their collection with Joseph Smith. Not wanting to caught in the cross hairs of a religious controversy, the Met officials arranged for the papyrus to be turned over to the Church of Jesus Christ. You can read about this transferal in Gee’s latest article in the FARMS Review.
Last evening there was a fireside in the Tabernacle, on Temple Square, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the announcement of the revelation extending the priesthood to all worthy males. This was a joyous time for most people in attendance. Many there remember that day 30 years ago, as do I. Many remember the feelings of joy that the will of the Lord had been revealed to those we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators.
Today a panel of the US Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals (Denver Colorado) issued a ruling that is of special interest to FAIR and this writer. In a unanimous decision, the court upheld the earlier ruling of the District Court relative to the case originally brought by Utah Lighthouse Ministry against me, my company, my wife, FAIR, and FAIR’s president.