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PHOBIA BY ANY OTHER NAMEFLASHBACK PARSIMONY AGAIN YEA YEA NAY NAY

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PHOBIA BY ANY OTHER NAMEFLASHBACK PARSIMONY AGAIN YEA YEA NAY NAY Powered By Docstoc
					                                                                          S   U    N   S   T   O    N   E




                                                                               YEA, YEA                                       N AY, N AY

                       Founded in 1974
                                                                      PHOBIA BY ANY OTHER                                 That said, I still found the articles very in-
                                                                                                                      teresting. But, particularly interesting to me
                 SCOTT KENNEY 1974–1978
               ALLEN D. ROBERTS 1978–1980
                                                                       NAME—FLASHBACK                                 was Ralph A. Olsen’s article, “A Malay Site for
                PEGGY FLETCHER 1978–1986
               DANIEL H. RECTOR 1986–1991                                                                             Book of Mormon Events.” One reason for this

                                                                  A
          LINDA JEAN STEPHENSON 1991–1992
             ELBERT EUGENE PECK 1986–2001
                                                                         H, YES: THE 2004 COMMENT OF                  is that, several years ago, I independently put
                             Editor                                      Sheri Dew, president of Deseret Book         forth the same idea myself. I didn’t do the ex-
                   DAN WOTHERSPOON
                           Publisher
                                                                  Company and best-selling biographer of              tensive research that Olsen has apparently
                    WILLIAM STANFORD                              Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, that           done, but I find his logic and data quite com-
                       Associate Editor
                      CAROL B. QUIST                              she could barely stomach (i.e., felt nauseated      pelling. He certainly makes a much better case
                       Managing Editor                            at) seeing a photograph of a returned LDS           for his argument than any of the apologists at
                        JOHN HATCH
                         Section Editors
                                                                  missionary and his male partner being civilly       FARMS do for theirs. As a proponent of
                PHYLLIS BAKER, fiction contest                    married in San Francisco, each holding one          Occam’s Razor (which Olsen cites in his end-
               SCOT DENHALTER, Cybersaints
     ALAN AND VICKIE EASTMAN, Righteous Dominion                  of their adopted daughters (SUNSTONE,               notes), I find Olsen’s proposition is far more
                 HUGO OLAIZ, News/Update                          March 2004, 73).                                    “parsimonious” than the convoluted mental
                  DIXIE PARTRIDGE, poetry
         MARY ELLEN ROBERTSON, women’s studies                        And yet, after expressing comments such         gymnastics required to accept a New World
         MICHAEL SCHOENFELD, Sunstone Gallery
         DARRON SMITH, The Long-Promised Day?                     as this publicly and privately, social conserv-     location for the Book of Mormon. Olsen refers
              ALISON TAKENAKA, Margin Notes
             BRAD WOODWORTH, book reviews
                                                                  atives bristle today when they are called “ho-      to himself as “an old chemist meddling in hal-
                      Editorial Assistants                        mophobic” by “so-called liberals,” and insist:      lowed ground.” I must say that as an old geog-
          NATHAN BANG, JOHN-CHARLES DUFFY                         “It is part of the radical gay agenda to call       rapher with a specialty in Polynesia, I find his
       ERIC JONES, HUGO OLAIZ, WILLIAM B. QUIST
                    Contributing Columnists                       normal people ‘homophobic’ merely because           proposition very interesting. If I were to ac-
            MICHAEL AUSTIN, D. JEFF BURTON
               MICHAEL NIELSEN, JANA RIESS
                                                                  good Christians criticize the claim of gays         cept, as Olsen does, that “the Book of Mormon
               Photographer and Taping Engineer                   that they have the right to marry. We love gay      is a genuine record of actual peoples and
                      STEVE MAYFIELD
                          Cartoonists
                                                                  people, but hate their homosexuality and            events and not merely a metaphorical or spiri-
KYLE ANDERSON, JEANETTE ATWOOD, JEFF HALE, MACADE                 lifestyle.”                                         tual record,” then his proposition is the most
                  Much-Appreciated Volunteers
ADRIANE ANDERSEN, SUSAN ANDERSEN, DEVERY ANDERSON                     FLASHBACK TO 1954: A white Southern             reasonable I have seen so far. However, I still
  PHYLLIS BAKER, DEBRA DICKAMORE, DON GUSTAVSON                   Baptist woman of prominence looks at a              have extreme difficulty accepting the Book of
  BARBARA HAUGSOEN, LEANN HILLAM, BEVERLY HOPPE
      CHRIS KEMP, STEVE MAYFIELD, KATHY WILSON                    photo of a black man being civilly married to       Mormon as “a genuine record.”
                                                                  a white woman in Boston and says publicly                                          PRESTON BISSELL
                                                                  that the photo makes her feel nauseated.                                       Eau Claire, Wisconsin
     THE SUNSTONE EDUCATION                                       Criticized by “so-called liberals,” she replies:
           FOUNDATION                                             “It is part of the radical Negro agenda to call                       AGAIN!
    The mission of The Sunstone Education Foundation is to        decent people ‘racist’ or ‘Negrophobic’ merely
    sponsor open forums of Mormon thought and experience.
    Under the motto, “Faith Seeking Understanding,” we ex-
    amine and express the rich spiritual, intellectual, social,
    and artistic qualities of Mormon history and contempo-
    rary life. We encourage humanitarian service, honest in-
    quiry, and responsible interchange of ideas that is
                                                                  because good Christians criticize the claim of
                                                                  Negroes that they have the right of misce-
                                                                  genation. We love Negro people but hate
                                                                                                                      G     OD BLESS THE THINKERS. THEY
                                                                                                                            keep handing such dilemmas to those
                                                                                                                      who shudder and stammer and scratch their
    respectful of all people and what they hold sacred.           their blackness and race-mixing.”                   heads over what to do with this little book
                        Executive Director
                     DAN WOTHERSPOON                                  Different target, same disgust, same fears      called the Book of Mormon. (See SUNSTONE,
                         Board of Directors                       of allowing a despised group the rights of the      March 2004.) After all, its contents certainly
             J. FREDERICK (TOBY) PINGREE, chair
     BILL BRADSHAW, D. JEFF BURTON, JULIE K. CURTIS               dominant group, same denials.                       must be accepted only with a wink or an as-
        CHARLOTTE H. ENGLAND, NADINE R. HANSEN                                                D. MICHAEL QUINN        terisk until the book itself passes a real think-
       JORDAN KIMBALL, ROBERT KIRBY, KIM MCCALL
        J. BONNER RITCHIE, MARY ELLEN ROBERTSON                                             Los Angeles, California   ing man’s test. For goodness sakes, how can
           MICHAEL J. STEVENS, EARL M. WUNDERLI
                    Publisher/Business Manager
                                                                                                                      we accept teachings on love and obeying the
                     WILLIAM STANFORD
                                                                               PARSIMONY                              commandments of God and that Jesus Christ
            Sunstone Mercantile Director/Office Manager
                        CAROL B. QUIST                                                                                is our Savior until we dig up bones of at least
                      Symposium Organizers
                  MOLLY BENNION, Northwest
          MARY ELLEN ROBERTSON, JULIE K. CURTIS,
              MICHELE OLESON, Symposium West
                                                                  I  FOUND SEVERAL ARTICLES IN THE
                                                                     “Reframing The Book of Mormon” section
                                                                  (SUNSTONE, March 2004) to be quite interest-
                                                                                                                      one pre-Columbian horse?
                                                                                                                          So, year after year, we struggle to follow
                                                                                                                      the promptings of the thinkers. But it takes
                     STEVE ECCLES, Dallas
                  JOHN HATCH, Salt Lake City                      ing and enlightening. I commend SUNSTONE            so much faith.
                     National Advisory Board
       ALAN ACKROYD, IRENE BATES, MOLLY BENNION
                                                                  for having the courage to admit that tradi-             They told us that all native peoples
  CARLAN BRADSHAW, BELLAMY BROWN, RENEE CARLSON                   tional LDS views of the Book of Mormon need         poured across the Bering Strait, apparently
  BLAINE CARLTON, PAUL CARPENTER, DOUGLAS CONDIE
       JOHN COX, D. JAMES CROFT, ROBERT FILLERUP                  to be re-examined. I must admit up front that       bumping into one another as they hastened
  KENT FROGLEY, SHELDON GREAVES, MARK GUSTAVSON                   I am one of those who has, as Trent D.              to take advantage of a fairly brief environ-
   LIONEL GRADY, NANCY HARWARD, DIETRICH KEMPSKI
  GREG KOFFORD, SHUNICHI KUWAHATA, GLEN LAMBERT                   Stephens describes, adopted the first reaction      mental opening. Then they told us that settle-
   PATRICK MCKENZIE, CARRIE MILES, RONALD L. MOLEN
           MARY ANN MORGAN, MARJORIE NEWTON                       to the latest data on the Book of Mormon. I         ments in New Mexico showed up before
        ALICE ALLRED POTTMYER, MARGARET REISER                    happen to believe that “the data refute the his-    those travelers could get so far south unless
 CHRIS SEXTON, RICHARD SHERLOCK, GEORGE D. SMITH, JR.
           NICHOLAS SMITH, RICHARD SOUTHWICK                      toric authenticity of the Book of Mormon,”          they took Interstate 5 through California.
     MARSHA S. STEWART, LORIE WINDER STROMBERG
      JOHN TARJAN, JANET TARJAN, NOLA W. WALLACE
                                                                  and that “therefore, belief in the book is un-      Then, they told us that, while, yes, Central
          HARTMUT WEISSMANN, MARK J. WILLIAMS                     founded and should be abandoned.”                   and South America were home to ancient civ-


PAGE 2                                                                                                                                                        MAY 2004
                                                         S   U   N   S   T   O   N   E




ilizations, none existed at the times suggested        THE REAL CONFLICT                         which amounts to the same thing. To escape
in the Book of Mormon. Now they report dis-                                                      the implications of DNA and other evidence,
coveries placing people in Central America
exactly during Book of Mormon times.            I    N HIS ATTEMPT TO GRAPPLE WITH Stephens uncritically relies on the Limited
                                                     problems DNA evidence poses for Book of Tehuantepec Theory of Book of Mormon ge-
    Now we have DNA testing. And we are Mormon historicity (SUNSTONE, March ography, which asserts that the vast majority
told that all peoples native to North, Central, 2004), Trent D. Stephens incorrectly frames of Native Americans are not Lamanites and
and South America were made in China. Oh, the issue as “metaphysics” vs. science. The that Book of Mormon events took place in
bother. I don’t know what that does to the simple fact is that the Book of Mormon the small region of Central America sur-
trade deficit, but I do know one thing for cer- makes historical claims that can be tested. rounding the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. As
tain. There goes the Book of Mormon. Again. We are not talking about one house and one Brent Lee Metcalfe and I explain in the intro-
All those teachings down the drain of disbe- family, as Stephens hyperbolizes. The duction to American Apocrypha (Signature
lief. Until some technician pokes a needle Nephites ruled over and dominated the re- Books, 2003), this theory is nothing more
into a kid in Chile and pulls out a Middle gion, if not the continent. A whole nation as than an ad hoc hypothesis designed to shield
Eastern connection. But not to worry. There described in the Book of Mormon does not the Book of Mormon from negative evidence.
will always be those horses.                      simply disappear. So unless the Nephites and It only exists to save the Book of Mormon
    Heaven help us if we put the Bible to such Lamanites lived in a fourth dimension, some and has no other merits.
tests before we accept its authenticity. Of kind of incontrovertible evidence should                Stephens’s willingness to undermine the
course we believe in Paul’s conversion story. have appeared by now.                              Book of Mormon’s prophetic spirit in order to
Both versions. The creation story? You bet.          Stephens’s reference to the lack of evi- save its historicity will no doubt trouble
Story A or Story B? Judas certainly came to dence that large numbers of Israelites occu- many believers. According to Stephens (and
an untimely ending. But was it Ending A or pied ancient Egypt is irrelevant because that other apologists), Lehi’s prophecy in 2 Nephi
B? We have Abraham’s family riding camels portion of the Bible may indeed be based on 1:6-11—that America would be preserved
before camels were domesticated, Israelites myth. Stephens seems to be telling readers: if exclusively for those of Israelite blood until a
popping up where they were not, Mary and you believe the biblical account of the future time of apostasy—was false, for at that
Joseph struggling to get to Bethlehem to fol- Exodus and it can’t be proven, then you must time, the Amerasians already occupied the
low a Roman edict that didn’t exist. Oh my. accept my argument about the Book of New World. Stephens’s suggestion that Lehi
    Of course one difference between the two Mormon. This line of reasoning works only uttered this false prophecy because he had
books is that Joseph Smith said he translated with those similarly situated and proves no “real concept of the vastness of the area of
everything correctly. We have no such claims nothing to those who do not share his bias. which he spoke” is hardly reassuring.
for the Bible. I suggest, however, a basis for       While Stephens criticizes creationists as Stephens then equivocates on the meaning of
possible error even if Smith translated per- “religious fanatics” because they reject the “this land,” but in the end, he can give no
fectly. It’s not uncommon for generals to ex- scientific data for evolution, he is guilty of ig- other reason for this line of questioning than
pand a bit on the truth when                      noring the implications of Amerindian DNA, his need to defend the Book of Mormon.
recounting heroics or when esti-
mating enemy casualties. And be-
fore the advent of precision
instruments and precise geographi-
cal boundaries, distances and land-
marks tended to be in the eye of the
beholder.
    I’m not suggesting that books of
faith need not answer to some rea-
son and logic, and I welcome each
new scientific wrinkle as much as I
welcome those working at the iron-
ing board. But most Latter-day
Saints are too busy to stand around
in the laundry room to watch. In
other words, despite the “oh-the-
sky-certainly-is-falling-this-time-
for-sure” rhetoric, the Church will
go on. Babies will still disrupt sacra-
ment meetings. Odd chemical com-
binations will still show up at ward
dinners.       Faithful     priesthood
brethren will still wear white shirts.
                                                                                                                                                  JEANETTE ATWOOD




And only elderly women will be al-
lowed facial hair at Brigham Young
University.
                     GARY RUMMLER
                 Milwaukee, Wisconsin         You can quote most of Isaiah, but it’s too hard to engrave the name of your wife?

MAY 2004                                                                                                                                PAGE 3
                                                            S   U   N    S   T   O    N   E




    As usual when Mormons find the evi-            Nephites ruled over and dominated the re-            nate in specific areas of the human brain and
dence is not in their favor, Stephens invokes      gion, if not the continent.” But consider the        can be triggered through meditation, prayer,
Moroni’s promise that sincere prayer will be       actual text, which says (476 years after the         and ritual.” One might note how similar
rewarded by a spiritual witness (Moroni            original colonization), “My son, I would that        Vogel’s list and conclusion is to that of the
10:4–5). But, in light of his previous discus-     ye should make a proclamation throughout all         Book of Mormon’s Korihor: “dreams . . .
sion undermining the ability of prophets to        this land among all this people, or the people       whims . . . visions and . . . pretended myster-
interpret “the workings of the spirit,” how        of Zarahemla, and the people of Mosiah who           ies . . . [claimed by believers to originate
confident is Stephens about his own testi-         dwell in the land, that thereby they may be          from] some unknown being, who they say is
mony? If history teaches anything, it teaches      gathered together . . . on the morrow” (Mosiah       God—a being who never has been seen or
us not be overly confident about ecstatic reli-    1:10). The whole land must have had a radius         known, who never was nor ever will be”
gious experience. While Mormons tend to            of not much more than twenty miles for a             (Alma 30: 28).
think their spiritual experiences are some-        proclamation to go out for everyone to meet              Vogel asks, “Stephens seeks to harmonize
how different, mystical and spiritual states       one day hence. Vogel also writes, “According         religion and science. But why should we?”
are ancient, cross-cultural, and rooted in bi-     to Stephens . . . Lehi’s prophecy in 2 Nephi         My answer to that question is the same as it is
ology. Whether we’re talking about Nirvana,        1:6–11—that America would be preserved . .           for any of my other scientific and intellectual
Brahman, Tao, Unio Mystica, Absolute               . was false.” But the prophecy’s reference to        pursuits: I don’t know. I simply feel driven by
Unitary Being, or lesser mystical states such      “this land” does not have to be an allusion to       intellectual curiosity to do so. I find it fulfill-
as divine presence, born-again, burning in         America as a whole. It is Vogel who is reading       ing. And it’s a heck of a lot of fun—which, as
the bosom, and religious awe, all originate in     “America” into the text.                             it turns out, is also a limbic function. Vogel
specific areas of the human brain and can be           In my essay, I suggested four paths one          asks me a specific question, “How confident
triggered through meditation, prayer, and rit-     might take in light of the new DNA data con-         is Stephens about his own testimony?” My
ual. Scientists are now discovering more           cerning Native American origins: “One: [One          answer: Very. Do I think the experience of
about the nature of mystical and spiritual ex-     may conclude that] belief in the [Book of            testimony is unique to Mormons? No. Do I
periences, which originate in the lower part       Mormon] is unfounded and should be aban-             find having a testimony confining, forcing a
of the brain, the limbic system and, to some       doned. Two: The data may be ignored. . . .           choice of conformity? Not as much as think-
extent, the frontal and parietal lobes.            Three: People may take a wait and see atti-          ing my own limbic lobe is the only creative
Spiritual experiences are part of being hu-        tude. . . . Four: The Book of Mormon story is        force in the universe.
man, but they are far from infallible guides to    still true . . . [but] Middle Eastern coloniza-                                 TRENT D. STEPHENS
truth. Moreover, they are subject to manipu-       tion in the Americas may have been very                                                Pocatello, Idaho
lation, cultural bias, and—unlike science          small compared to the remainder of the pop-
and reason—they are not self-correcting.           ulation.” I did not suggest which path some-          INVESTIGATOR-FRIENDLY
    Like many believers, Stephens seeks to         one should take. In fact, I stated that,
harmonize religion and science. But why
should we? What is it about religion that
causes us to want to bend reality to save it? If
                                                   “rejecting the authenticity of the Book of
                                                   Mormon because its story is not supported
                                                   by scientific evidence may be the most prac-
                                                                                                        I   FOUND MYSELF BRISTLING AS I READ
                                                                                                            the editorial, “On Being Investigator-Safe”
                                                                                                        in the recent issue of SUNSTONE (March
the truth makes us free, why do we choose          tical and most rational choice.” I have no ar-       2004). I wasn’t distressed about the overall
conformity? Obviously religion fulfills an         gument with anyone who chooses this                  point that editor, Dan Wotherspoon, was try-
emotional need so powerful that it becomes         course, and I understand that position.              ing to make (I actually think we agree about
impervious to reason. Scientific method was            I then stated, “The last conclusion, not to      many points) so much as it was about the
invented to override emotional biases and          reject the Book of Mormon story, but to mod-         concept of “investigator-safe” itself, to which
help us overcome our tendency to make sub-         ify interpretations of that story in light of sci-   he was reacting. This worry about needing
jective judgments. Those who use scientific        entific data, seems a reasonable compromise          to watch everything we say out of fear we’ll
and other scholarly methods had better be          for anyone who attempts to espouse both sci-         somehow hurt the chances that someone will
prepared to have their false notions chal-         ence and Mormon theology.” This is the ap-           join the Church seems to me to be just an-
lenged. But isn’t that the whole purpose of        proach I have chosen. Having spent the past          other spin-off of the general Mormon moral
using such tools? It seems to me that the real     thirty-five or more years of my life in the bio-     and intellectual superiority complex: we as-
conflict is not between science and religion,      logical sciences and, at the same time, having       sume investigators and non-member friends
but rather between our emotional attach-           chosen to follow a religious life, I find such       are not able to understand or accept the more
ment to tradition and our inability to em-         compromise a part of my everyday life.               controversial areas of our religion. This atti-
brace change as inevitable and beneficial.             It appears that, for whatever reason, Vogel      tude is based on the false assumption that
                                  DAN VOGEL        is not willing to tolerate such a position.          people outside of the Mormon faith are chil-
                              Westerville, Ohio    Apparently, in his mind, the choice is black         dren who can’t sort through issues in an in-
                                                   and white: one must reject the Book of               telligent and understanding way. Did anyone
Trent D. Stephens responds:                        Mormon because of the data, or reject the            ever stop to think of how investigator-un-
                                                   data. My options three and four are appar-           friendly this attitude might be?

D                 ’S
      AN VOGEL LETTER HELPS PROVE
      one of the main points of my SUNSTONE
essay: the apparent conflict between science
                                                   ently out of the question.
                                                       According to Vogel, all religious experi-
                                                   ence is limbic and therefore, by implication,
                                                                                                             I firmly reject the paradigm that a person
                                                                                                        evolves from innocent babe to naïve tender
                                                                                                        investigator to zealous, “true believer
and religion comes from the interpretation of      self-originating. He states, “Whether we’re          Mormon” and then into erudite reader of
texts and data rather than from the texts and      talking about Nirvana . . . or . . . burning in      SUNSTONE magazine. That model is simplis-
data themselves. Vogel claims that “the            the bosom and religious awe, they all origi-         tic on both ends of the equation—more ap-


PAGE 4                                                                                                                                          MAY 2004
                                                              S    U   N   S   T   O   N    E




propriate for a Flintstones episode than for to-      unintentionally refutes most of the false pro-     is gone. From the day he and I first met at the
day’s postmodern, information-driven age.             paganda about Mormons that some evangeli-          University of Utah in 1960 and formed a
    Most investigators are seeking something          cals try to pawn onto the public. Although he      small, five-person “dialogue” study group, his
better after having been exposed to a wide ar-        might not personally agree with most of what       impact on me was powerful and indelible.
ray of religious ideas. Little published in           was in the magazine, he wishes his church          Gene was easily my most challenging and se-
SUNSTONE will seem very radical to someone            had a few courageous souls willing to write        vere critic, but also one of my most faithful,
who has been exploring the big picture of re-         like this. His respect for us was boosted by       loving, and generous friends. Thank God he
ligious diversity. In my experience, most suc-        SUNSTONE more than by anything else he had         left us a legacy of Dialogue: a Journal of
cessful investigators have been better                ever encountered. He said that a cult does not     Mormon Thought, and its inspired offspring—
informed than the average, comfortable                generate or tolerate material like this.           SUNSTONE, the Association for Mormon
member of the Church who is happily doing                 I think we underestimate the potential of      Letters—as well as his personal example of
all his or her duties. What might be per-             SUNSTONE magazine as a missionary tool, es-        purity, integrity, and commitment.
ceived as outrageous by the parochial corri-          pecially for people not reached by traditional         Although I’ve not met the new editor, Dan
dor ostrich is rarely going to scare anyone off       approaches. We Mormons are largely toler-          Wotherspoon, he feels like a long lost brother
who has rummaged round the fringes of reli-           ated now: no mobs burning us out. We are           when, in his “State of the Body” editorial, he
gious thought to any extent. “Investigator-           respected by some and admired by a few. Yet        expresses his hope that “the Church can be a
safe” implies an enormous arrogance and a             tolerance is far from admiration, and most         true home.” By “Church,” I hope he means
profound cluelessness about what most intel-          Mormons don’t seem to understand this dis-         the greater community of Christ in contrast
ligent people think and know outside of the           tinction. In the past, conversion to               to ecclesiastical scaffolding.
center of this one relatively small church.           Mormonism required an explosive leap                   Rebecca Chandler, another whom I have
    In fact, some of the mainstream LDS mate-         across this entire spectrum. As we become          not yet met, surely rang my bell with her
rial comes across to me as potentially more           better respected and even admired, the leap is     teaching metaphors and disclosures of the
investigator-unsafe than anything that comes          shorter and can happen more methodically.          true and varied nature of her birth family.
out of SUNSTONE and its associated forums,            SUNSTONE can appeal to those investigators         And, Rebecca, your “wish list” is a treasure!
symposiums, website, and general rabble-              who are already closer to the admiration end       Your wise old rabbi who responds to a reluc-
rousing. “Approved material” too often makes          of the continuum, because, like us, many are       tant prodigal by saying, “Bring him back as
Latter-day Saints come off sounding childish,         thinking/exploring people, not leapers.            far as he will come, and I will go to him,” is a
narrow, cultish, and mindlessly obedient.                 I would love to find a mission president       choice, to-be-wished-for example. That is
    Consider the recent general conference            who would try this experiment: Divide the          how I imagine Jesus would behave. Mormon
priesthood session in which a speaker                 mission into two equal halves, as far as possi-    ecclesiastics should be so wise!
showed pictures of a Latino Priesthood                ble. Instruct one half of the missionaries to          Then, of course, there are the tenth an-
leader visiting and ultimately chasing a reluc-       use the Ensign in standard door approaches         niversary stories of the “September Six” who
tant less-active teenager into the waves of the       and street meetings. Instruct the other half to    had been excommunicated en masse from the
ocean and physically dragging him back to             use SUNSTONE in a parallel manner. It would        Mormon ecclesiastical machine. Two are my
church. How “investigator-safe” is that? I            be interesting to see how many doors are           old friends Paul Toscano and Lavina Fielding
hope most conference participants, awake              opened and how much success each half ex-          Anderson. I have often wondered if their ral-
enough for this story to register, thought of it      periences, and how many missionaries               lying to aid me during my own excommuni-
more as a humorous allegory in service of the         would be forced to deepen their perspective        cation process a year earlier in 1992 in any
“never give up” principle than as a good              on the diversity and strengths of their own        way prepared them for theirs a year later.
model for re-activation.                              tradition as they teach the gospel. Ultimately,
    Story time. I have a friend at work who is
an evangelical Christian. He is intelligent, na-
tionally respected in his field, teaches college
                                                      my guess would be that the “SUNSTONE-
                                                      bred” investigators would have better reten-
                                                      tion five years after baptism, because as J.
                                                                                                         I  T FEELS LIKE coming home! Now speak
                                                                                                            those words in a faint Russian accent.
                                                                                                         That’s what my dad said to my brother and
courses, is married with a nice family, and           Golden Kimball said about conversion, “Easy        me in late 1961 when we announced our in-
likes to golf. He is politically conservative, car-   come, easy go.”                                    tention to change our name from Kregg to
ries a handgun, and listens to Rush Limbaugh              SUNSTONE is investigator-friendly, as far      Kovalenko.
on the radio. Yet for some reason he is mildly        as I am concerned. I recommend it as part of           My brother Virgil and I had always hated
curious about Mormonism. He has read part             the arsenal of some missionaries and mem-          our birth name because we knew it wasn’t
of the Book of Mormon and other literature,           ber-missionaries alike, if they are so inclined.   real. It was a concocted “American-sounding
and I would not be surprised to learn that he                                       MIKE HENINGER        name” to hide the true origin of an illegal
has taken a couple of the missionary lessons. I                                       Atlanta, Georgia   Russian/Ukrainian refugee.
doubt he is going to convert. He is dedicated                                                                I was in graduate school at the University
to his church but interested in us to a degree.                   COMING HOME                            of Utah, and my brother was an officer in the
By accident, I left an old copy of SUNSTONE                                                              U.S. Air Force in 1961 when Dad and Virgil
where he could read it.
    His response quite surprised me. He told
me that the magazine really opened his eyes
                                                      I  T FEELS LIKE COMING HOME! THAT’S
                                                         what I thought when I read the December
                                                      2003 SUNSTONE. Actually, it was the special
                                                                                                         came to visit me at the university. It was the
                                                                                                         first time we three had come together as
                                                                                                         adult men The first words out of my mouth
to the strength, depth, vitality, and diversity of    edition featuring the late Eugene England          when they walked through my door were,
Mormon religious thought. He said that a              (January 2002) that re-interested me in the        “Dad, what are we doing with this awful
faith has to be quite mature to spontaneously         Sunstone community after more than a               name? It has no meaning, no history, no her-
generate material like this and that SUNSTONE         decade of being away. I still can’t believe Gene   itage, and no roots. I hate it!”


MAY 2004                                                                                                                                          PAGE 5
                                                         S   U   N    S   T   O   N    E




    Virgil jumped into the fray with the same                    YEA, YEA                             , N AY, N AY
sentiments. Our dad exclaimed with surprise
and excitement, “Oh, my sons, I hate it, too!
But I was afraid to say anything because I
thought you would laugh at me.”
    “That settles it, Pop! We’re changing it                      ON WAGGING THE DOG
back to the original,” the two of us simulta-
neously announced. Not long after, Virgil
and I, independently, on the same day, in dif-                                        by Kevin Christensen
ferent cities in Utah and unknown to each
other, had our respective surnames changed
to our father’s birth name. It took Dad and
Mom in California months to catch up with
the same change.
    I remember the conservative presiding
Salt Lake City municipal judge trying to ar-
                                                 C         OMMENTS IN THE March 2004
                                                           SUNSTONE raised concerns about
                                                           whether the influential work of
                                                 FARMS and FAIR scholars with regard to
                                                 studies of Book of Mormon geography and
                                                                                                    area. . . . Thus a Church leader who seeks to
                                                                                                    wield his ecclesiastical authority in an area in
                                                                                                    which he has little or no expertise perhaps
                                                                                                    runs the risk of overstepping his bounds.”3
                                                                                                    Compton also cites the story of Levi Savage, a
gue me out of my decision—this being at the      culture is akin to “the tail wagging the dog.”     member of the Willie Handcart company, for
height of the Cold War—reminding me what         As the unsigned introduction to the                whom both events and Brigham Young con-
had happened to many people with German          “Reframing the Book of Mormon” section             firm that “with expertise in a limited area
names in our country during WWII. Finally,       puts it, “Are these LDS apologists, rather than    [he] was more inspired than an apostle
after wrangling with me for some time, the       Church leaders, creating new doctrine, and if      [Franklin D. Richards] out of his element.”4
judge threw up his hands and exclaimed,          so, by what right?”1                                   In his discussion of non-hierarchal revela-
“Well! Here’s a guy who really thinks they’re        As it happens, in an essay published in        tion, Compton also observes that “the coun-
going to take over!”                             SUNSTONE thirteen years ago, Todd                  selor offices in Church government implicitly
    My dad died in 1964, a little more than      Compton wrote a relevant article dealing           acknowledge this pattern of checking
two-and-a-half years later, not in his           with “Counter-Hierarchical Revelation,”2 by        leaders. If the prophet were infallible, if he
Ukrainian homeland (his “Rodina”), but with      which he means instances where the initial         received a steady, direct stream of revelation,
his true name restored. He would never have      inspiration for a teaching or Church program       and were entirely self-sufficient, he would
dreamed that thirty-plus years later, in 1995,   flows up the hierarchy, rather than coming         not need counselors.”5 Compton recognizes
his sons would find four generations of his      down through channels. Compton took his            the tension between “authoritarian wrong-
Ukrainian family alive and well and then visit   examples from scripture and from official          headed” leadership on the one hand, and
them in his own hometown! Nor would he           Church histories, taking particular notice of      “authoritarian wrong-headed critics” on the
have predicted that five years after that, a     the consistent patterns in the circumstances.      other. “But in none of my examples did the
Russian convert to the Church in Belarus,        He discusses the stories of Paul’s rebuke of       person leave the Church when they received
named Ivan Kovalenko, would be sent on an        Peter at Antioch, Nephi’s subtle rebuke of         their individual inspirations. . . . Counter-hi-
LDS mission to California, begin an American     Lehi, Emma Smith’s triggering the questions        erarchical revelation does not negate the hi-
family search, and find us, his relatives, in    that led to Joseph’s receiving the Word of         erarchy. . . . The people I have looked at are
Texas, Utah, and New Mexico! Nor would           Wisdom, Orson Pratt’s doctrinal conflicts          usually on good terms with the Church
Dad have believed that his oldest child,         with Brigham Young, and several others.            structure—either as a part of it or related to
Dorothy Kregg, the existence of whom his             In one example, Compton tells the story        it somehow.”6
sons knew nothing about, would initiate a                                           .
                                                 of a twenty-five-year-old Joseph F Smith’s re-         The LDS scriptures never describe Church
search on the Internet in 2003, looking for      fusing the counsel of two apostles who             leadership as infallible. To the contrary, the
any trace of her father whom she had always      wanted to take a freight boat to shore under       Doctrine and Covenants bluntly states that
loved and never forgotten. Dorothy found far     circumstances that Smith thought dangerous               these commandments are of me,
more than the gravesite she was looking for.     and unwise. Despite his being told, “Young               and were given unto my servants in
She found two younger brothers and a whole       man, you had better obey counsel,” Smith re-             their weakness, after the manner of
bunch of nephews and nieces—newly dis-           fused to board the boat, which soon over-                their language, that they might
covered first cousins to her four sons! All      turned and nearly came to tragedy for the                come to understanding. And inas-
this, to say nothing of other newly discov-      two apostles. Compton reports that “This ex-             much as they erred, it might be
ered relatives in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia,      ample shows a young man who simply had                   made known; and inasmuch as
Latvia, and Canada.                              more experience and knowledge in a limited               they sought wisdom, they might be
    To me, all these events—those published      area than men who, though they were apos-                instructed (D&C 1:24–26).
in the December SUNSTONE issue, as well as       tles and his ecclesiastical superiors, were        The scriptures do not describe revelation as
my own recent family discoveries—are lit-        newcomers to Hawaii and probably not well          passive nor as an all-at-once experience, but
eral examples of the fulfillment of Moroni’s     acquainted with seafaring, at least in the local   rather from “time to time” conditioned on
spin on Malachi 4:6 (JST 1:39). They are wit-
ness to, and further evidence of, a growing                   KEVIN CHRISTENSEN, B.A., English, is a technical writer living in Lawrence,
awareness that we all are in process of “com-                 Kansas. He has published several articles, including the recent, “The Temple, the
ing home.”                                                    Monarchy, and Wisdom: Lehi’s World and the Scholarship of Margaret Barker,” in
                         EUGENE KOVALENKO                     Glimpses of Lehi’s Jerusalem. His email is kskchris@sunflower.com.
                       Los Alamos, New Mexico


PAGE 6                                                                                                                                    MAY 2004
                                                            S   U   N   S   T   O    N   E




both expedience and seeking (D&C 1:28).             vation draweth nigh. . . . He doth sound these        prepared to receive the things of
We must take thought, and “study it out in          glad tidings among all his people . . . where-        God; but we frequently see some of
[our] mind” before we can expect revelation         fore they have come unto us. And they are             them, after suffering all they have
(see D&C 9). We are to study, to ponder, to         made known unto us in plain terms that we             for the work of God, will fly to
“seek out of the best books words of wisdom”        may understand. . .” (Alma 13:21–23). Not             pieces like glass as soon as anything
(D&C 88:118), with the expectation that by          everything, though, bears directly on the             comes that is contrary to their tra-
doing so we can always be instructed “more          glad tidings of salvation. Not everything in          ditions: they cannot stand the fire
perfectly” not just in the “law of the gospel”      revelation is plain, and not every tradition or       at all.10
but with respect to a “knowledge of countries       interpretation is authoritative. Some things
and kingdoms” (D&C 88: 78–79).
    Statements from the Book of Mormon in-
                                                    require more effort to learn, and on some
                                                    things relevant to the Book of Mormon and
                                                                                                                     Given the fact
dicate that understanding revelation requires
preparation and study. Nephi insists that
                                                    the peopling of the Americas, little effort had
                                                    been made, sometimes because preconcep-
                                                                                                             that there is conflict,
“none other people . . . understand the things
which were spoken unto the Jews . . . save it
                                                    tions interfere with the necessary inquiry. In
                                                    3 Nephi, for example, we have this warning:                we have to consider
be that they are taught after the manner of
the things of the Jews” (2 Nephi 25:5). When
                                                    “And now, because of stiffneckedness and
                                                    unbelief, they understood not my word;                      the grounds upon
                                                                                                                  which disputants
Jesus appears to the Nephites, he tells them,       therefore I was commanded to say no more
“I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot        of the Father concerning this thing unto

                                                                                                                make statements.
understand all my words. . . . Therefore go . . .   them. . . . And they understood me not, for
and ponder upon the things which I have             they supposed. . .” (3 Nephi 15:18, 22) The
said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that       uncritical presuppositions of the ancient dis-
ye may understand, and prepare your minds           ciples interfered with both inquiry and un-                 Which statements
for the morrow” (3 Nephi 17:2-3).                   derstanding.
    Alma’s experiences also seem to indicate           It is no different for us moderns. John                       involve careful
something other than easy omniscience               Sorenson has shown that the first serious at-
when it comes to knowing the exact things of        tempt to develop a comprehensive internal                     study, and which
God:                                                geography of Book of Mormon lands from
          Behold, I do not say that he will
      come among us at the time of his
                                                    the text did not appear until 1938, more than
                                                    one hundred years after the book’s publica-
                                                                                                                 involve uncritical
      dwelling in his mortal tabernacle;
      for behold, the Spirit hath not said
                                                    tion.7 No one had made the effort. On the
                                                    cultural side, Brant Gardner argues that suffi-
                                                                                                              presuppositions and
      unto me that this should be the
      case. Now as to this thing I do not
                                                    cient information on ancient Mesoamerica
                                                    has not been available until the past thirty
                                                                                                                    blind deference
      know; but this much I do know. . .”
      (Alma 7:8).
                                                    years.8
                                                       Joseph Smith obviously did not consider
                                                                                                                       to tradition?
          Now these mysteries are not yet           his visions and revelations as grounds to ex-
      fully made known unto me; there-              clude himself from the study of Hebrew, and                I cannot believe in any of the
      fore I shall forbear (Alma 37:11).            the enthusiasm with which John Lloyd                   creeds of the different denomina-
          Now, I unfold unto you a mys-             Stephen’s Incidents of Travel in Central               tions, because they all have some
      tery; nevertheless, there are many            America, Chiapas, and Yucatan was received in          things in them I cannot subscribe
      mysteries which are kept, that no             Nauvoo in 1841, shows that he saw new dis-             to, though all of them have some
      one knoweth save God himself. But             coveries worth his attention. Even with re-            truth. I want to come up into the
      I show unto you one thing which I             spect to his own understanding of the Book             presence of God, and learn all
      have inquired diligently of God               of Mormon in the Wentworth letter, which               things; but the creeds set up stakes,
      that I might know. . . (Alma 40:3).           heavily borrowed from a previous publica-              and say, “Hitherto shalt thou come,
          It sufficeth me to know that this         tion by Orson Pratt, he wrote, “For a more             and no further;” which I cannot
      is the case. . . (Alma 40:5).                 particular account, I would refer to the Book          subscribe to.11
          I have inquired diligently of the         of Mormon.”9                                         Certainly the long-emerging theories
      Lord to know; and this is the thing              With respect to the Saints’ tendency to        which propose that Book of Mormon events
      which I do know. . . Behold it has            uncritically take tradition as a guide, Joseph    took place in ancient Mesoamerica conflict
      been made known unto me by an                 remarked:                                         with many LDS traditions, but the traditional
      angel. . . (Alma 40:9, 11).                            But there has been a great diffi-        understandings about exclusive Hebrew an-
          But behold, I give it as my                    culty in getting anything into the           cestry and hemispheric geographies are
      opinion. . . (Alma 40:20).                         heads of this generation. It has             clearly pre-critical. Why should these ideas
    Clearly, according to the Book of Mormon             been like splitting hemlock knots            be considered binding? Why suppose that
itself, we ought to consider how prophets or             with a corn-dodger for a wedge,              we must set up stakes, rather than prepare
other leaders come to say what they say. If we           and a pumpkin for a beetle. Even             our minds to learn more? Arguing that inter-
take an eternal view, the most expedient mes-            the Saints are slow to understand.           pretations of certain revelations have been
sage of the prophets pertains to our salvation.              I have tried for a number of             flawed is not the same as arguing that the
“Now is the time to repent, for the day of sal-          years to get the minds of the Saints         revelations themselves are so flawed as to be


MAY 2004                                                                                                                                     PAGE 7
                                                          S   U   N   S   T   O    N   E




untrustworthy or false. The New Testament         leaders and scholars have for the past eighty     courage in the face of suffering, mortality,
itself contains examples of reinterpretation      years been urging the Saints to recognize the     death, and loss, as well as the power to
on matters such as the time of the second         Asiatic contribution to Amerindian an-            change destructive behaviors. Joseph Smith’s
coming and the Lord raising the temple in         cestry.13 Other Church leaders have resisted      first vision and Alma 36 offer accounts of
three days. It is one thing to theorize how       or ignored such arguments. Given the fact         such reorientation and reconciliation. These
God would or should do things and quite an-       that there is conflict, we have to consider the   experiences can lead in turn to deepened ex-
other to demonstrate the validity of those        grounds upon which disputants make state-         perience of moral obligation or awakened
theories from the evidence at hand.               ments. Which statements involve careful           conscience, and of what Martin Buber calls “I
    With respect to the widely held view of       study, and which involve uncritical presup-       and Thou,” the sense of life lived in the pres-
Asiatic ancestry for American populations,        positions and blind deference to tradition? If    ence of God, where God speaks through
the SUNSTONE introduction’s statement that        a careful, devotional approach by FARMS and       events, and we answer through actions.15
                                                  FAIR scholars (among others), is licensed by          The point is that there are many ways for
All religious                                     such scriptures as I have cited, and if such an   people to have the kinds of core religious ex-

communities share
                                                  approach is offered without compulsion, but       perience that Latter-day Saints associate with
                                                  as part of ongoing study and faith, why ob-       the restored gospel. Scriptures and rituals
in some measure                                   ject when many Church leaders begin to find
                                                  these things persuasive and worth the notice
                                                                                                    from a variety of traditions, even works of lit-
                                                                                                    erature, contain mythic patterns with gen-
the different kinds                               and attention of the Saints?                      uine power to guide us through life. The
                                                                                                    Book of Mormon can also, therefore, be prof-
of core experience,
but once we get to the
key historical events
                                                  W            ITH respect to the notion that
                                                               the Book of Mormon might be
                                                               read profitably as an ahistorical
                                                  work, notice that Alma says, “If ye will awake
                                                  and arouse your faculties, even to an experi-
                                                                                                    itably approached as myth.
                                                                                                        But something fundamentally important
                                                                                                    is missing from the mythic approach: the dis-
                                                                                                    covery of key historical events in which the
                                                                                                    work of God seems manifest. The recogni-
that define and bind                              ment upon my words . . . even until ye be-
                                                  lieve in a manner that ye can give place for a
                                                                                                    tion of such events gives a community a
                                                                                                    shared history—and shared history, more
communities, we start                             portion of my words” (Alma 32:27). Alma           than anything else, is what defines and binds

to see separation.                                does not specify which portion. That is left to
                                                  each individual. Whatever works for each is
                                                                                                    communities. The shared history of Jews
                                                                                                    centers on the Exodus. For Christians, it is
Mythic patterns may                               a good place to start.
                                                      With respect to core religious experiences
                                                                                                    the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And
                                                                                                    the shared history of the Latter-day Saints in-
point to universals,                              in general (in contrast to the doctrinal con-     cludes Joseph’s translation of the Book of

but a shared history
                                                  tainers we use to interpret and carry them),      Mormon.
                                                  there are “divers ways” that God manifests            All religious communities share in some
makes particular                                  “things unto the children of men, which [are]
                                                  good” (Moroni 7:24). Scholars of compara-
                                                                                                    measure the different kinds of core experi-
                                                                                                    ence, but once we get to the key historical
affirmations and                                  tive religion14 observe powerful, life-
                                                  changing responses to multiple kinds of
                                                                                                    events that define and bind communities, we
                                                                                                    start to see separation. Mythic patterns may
concrete demands.                                 experience. For example, many people have         point to universals, but a shared history
                                                  reported powerful impressions in response to      makes particular affirmations and concrete
“recent publicity over DNA studies . . . have     order and design in creation. Plato started       demands. Richard Bushman has observed
confirmed long-held scientific notions that       here, as well as Joseph Smith (according to       that what makes us Mormons is not philos-
Amerindians descend from Asian—not                the 1832 account of the First Vision). Many       ophy, but what we believe happened to real
Middle Eastern—peoples” is inaccurately           people in Western cultures report kinds of        people.16 “Is not this real?” Alma asks (Alma
qualified. Scientifically speaking, no DNA sci-   numinous experience, which involve a sense        32:35). Those who say “no” aren’t bound in
entist could possibly confirm that indigenous     of being seized by the Personal Other (as in      the same way as those who say “yes.”
peoples have exclusively descended from           Moses 1, for example). In the East, however,
Asiatic sources. And further, as David A.
McLellan writes, “According to the specifics
of the Book of Mormon story line, it may not
be possible to recover the genetic signature of
Lehi or Mulek. Too many influences would
                                                  reports of mystical experience predominate:
                                                  experiences of unity, serenity, loss of ego
                                                  boundary, and the impersonal oneness (as
                                                  described, for instance, by the Buddha).
                                                  Numinous encounters may also occur in
                                                                                                    G         RANTING that space was limited in
                                                                                                              the March 2004 “Reframing the
                                                                                                              Book of Mormon” issue of
                                                                                                    SUNSTONE, and that the focus of the authors
                                                                                                    was elsewhere, it is still important to observe
have resulted in too many violations of equi-     Eastern reports (as with Arjuna’s vision in the   that none of the essays discussed at all the
librium-preserving conditions.”12                 Bhagavadgita), and mystical experience can        Old World correlations in the Book of
    Nor is the SUNSTONE introduction accu-        occur in the West (as with Ralph Waldo            Mormon. This area of work has implications
rate in its suggestion that the recent DNA con-   Emerson’s transcendentalism).                     for approaching the Book of Mormon as his-
troversy has suddenly sent Latter-day Saint           Whatever the particular form they take,       torical. Starting with Hugh Nibley’s Lehi in the
scholars scrambling for a new way to under-       such encounters may lead to experiences of        Desert and adding the new Potter and
stand the Book of Mormon. Matt Roper’s ex-        reorientation and reconciliation (that is,        Wellington book Lehi in the Wilderness and
cellent essay, “Nephi’s Neighbors” in the         changes in both thinking and feeling), which      the recent compilation Glimpses of Lehi’s
FARMS Review demonstrates that many LDS           provide release from sin or guilt and offer       Jerusalem, we have an impressive body of


PAGE 8                                                                                                                                    MAY 2004
                                                             S    U    N    S   T   O    N    E




work, and a much more settled approach to               For individuals, if a mythic approach to             Mormon Events: A Source Book (Provo: FARMS, 1992),
geography and history than is possible with         the Book of Mormon keeps you here, fine. I               22–23.
                                                                                                                  8. Brant Gardner, email to author, 17 May 2004.
the New World portion of the book.17                think it’s a valid option, and the presence of
                                                                                                             For details, see his essays and Book of Mormon com-
    Methodist researcher Margaret Barker’s          such things is healthy both for a religious tra-         mentary at http://frontpage2000.nmia.com/~nahualli/
work on Christian origins and the temple            dition and for individuals, whether in the ex-           LDStopics.htm.
adds to the weight of all of this in an expo-       treme form C. Jess Groesbeck offers in the                    9. See this discussion in Matt Roper, “Nephi’s
nential fashion.18 Barker argues that “the          March 2004 SUNSTONE, or Ostler’s 1987 ap-                Neighbors” FARMS Review 15, no. 2 (2003): 97–99.
original gospel message was about the               proach via an “expanded” Book of Mormon                       10. Joseph Smith Jr., Teachings of the Prophet
temple, not the corrupted temple of Jesus’          with a partially compromised historicity,24 or                                    .
                                                                                                             Joseph Smith, Joseph F Smith, ed. (Salt Lake City:
                                                                                                             Deseret Book, 1973), 331.
own time, but the original temple which had         Nephi’s’ exemplary “likening” approach                        11. Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus
been destroyed some six hundred years ear-          which takes symbolic types from historical,              Christ of Latter-day Saints 1805–1847, 7 vols., ed. B.H.
lier.”19 One common criticism of the Book of        even biographical, models.                               Roberts (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978), 6:57.
Mormon is that it anachronistically projects            But to adopt a mythic approach as a re-                   12. David A. McLellan, “Lehi’s Genetic Signature,”
Christian ideas into the time of the Old            placement for, rather than a complement to,              FARMS Reivew 15, no. 2 (2003), 89.
Testament (as in Lehi’s preaching or Nephi’s        historicity, would be suicidal for our faith                  13. Roper, 99–113.
                                                                                                                  14. Ian Barbour, Myths, Models, and Paradigms: A
vision of the Savior). Barker’s efforts to re-      community. We’d fall apart. I am reminded of
                                                                                                             comparative Study of Science and Religion (New York:
cover an understanding of the first temple          Hugh Nibley’s description of “a real knock-              Harper and Row, 1974), 53–55.
may help to establish that the Book of              down, drag-out fight between the                              15. Ibid., 54–55.
Mormon’s Old Testament-era Christianity             ‘Allegorists’ and the ‘literalizers’ in the                   16. Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith and the
isn’t an anachronism after all.                     [Christian] Church, ending in a complete                 Beginnings of Mormonism (Urbana: University of
    I’m also personally very impressed with         victory for the intellectuals.”25 We should              Illinois Press, 1984). 187–88.
                                                                                                                  17. Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Deseret: The World of
Brant Gardner’s recent work on the                  take that history as a caution for ourselves.
                                                                                                             the Jaredites: There Were Jaredites (Salt Lake City and
Mesoamerican side of things—particularly                Revisionist critics such as Thomas W.                Provo: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1988). George Potter
his comment that for him, everything                Murphy and Brent Lee Metcalfe clearly lobby              and Richard Wellington, Lehi in the Wilderness
changed when, instead of “looking for the           for a re-framing of the Book of Mormon that              (Springville: Cedar Fort, 2003). John W. Welch,
Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica,” he started          consists of abandonment of any pretensions               David Rolph Seely, and Jo Ann H. Seely, eds, Glimpses
“looking for Mesoamerica in the Book of             to historicity. Capitulation to these scholars           of Lehi’s Jerusalem (Provo: FARMS, 2004).
Mormon.” He says this conceptual shift made         and their position would amount to their not                  18. William Hamblin, ed. FARMS Occasional
                                                                                                             Papers 2. Kevin Christensen, “Paradigms Regained: A
a huge difference in the nature and quality of      only wagging the dog, but also stuffing and              Survey of Margaret Barker’s Scholarship and Its
the correlations he has seen.20                     mounting it as well.                                     Significance for Mormon Studies” (Provo: FARMS,
    But, as Thomas Kuhn says, in paradigm                                                                    2001).
debates, we all get to decide for ourselves                                NOTES                                  19. Margaret Barker, Temple Theology: An
“which problems are more significant to have                                                                 Introduction (London: SPCK 2004).
solved.”21 It’s the unconstrained picking and           1. “Reframing the Book of Mormon,”                        20. Brant Gardner, email to Kevin Christensen, 22
                                                    SUNSTONE, March 2004, 19. The context for this           October 2002. Publication forthcoming.
                                                                                                                             .
choosing and weighing that makes for the            question is the issues raised in Brent Lee Metcalfe’s         21. Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific
chaos in Book of Mormon geographies. In his         essay, “Reinventing Lamanite Identity,” about why        Revolutions, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago
Book of Mormon sourcebook, Sorenson in-             “Joseph Smith’s revelation of the Book of Mormon is      Press, 1970), 110. For a lengthy discussion of para-
cludes a long checklist of requirements the         trustworthy enough to extract a detailed limited geog-   digm debates in LDS circles, see Kevin Christensen
Book of Mormon text demands that any po-            raphy, yet his revelations about Amerindian identity     “Paradigms Crossed” in Review of Books on the Book of
tential Book of Mormon geography would              and origin are flawed, if not erroneous, and why their   Mormon, vol. 7, no. 2 (1995), 144–218.
                                                    word should count more than that of LDS prophets on           22. Sorenson, 357–64.
have to solve.22 In the fourteen years since
                                                    one hand, and that of secular scholars on the other?”         23. Kuhn, 17–18.
then, various authors have proposed alternate       Brent Lee Metcalfe, “Reinventing Lamanite Identity,”          24. C. Jess Groesbeck, “The Book of Mormon as
geographies to Sorenson’s, but not one has          SUNSTONE, March 2004, 23.                                Symbolic History: A New Perspective on Its Place in
used the list. Why not? We prefer not to con-           2. Todd       Compton,       “Counter-Hierarchical   History and Religion,” SUNSTONE, March 2004,
strain our choice of which problems are more        Revelation,” SUNSTONE 82 (June 1991): 34–41.             35–45; Blake Ostler “The Book of Mormon as an
significant to have solved. For some, Nephite           3. Ibid., 37.                                        Expansion of an Ancient Source,” Dialogue: A Journal
                                                        4. Ibid.                                             of Mormon Thought, 20, no. 1 (Spring 1987): 66–124.
“north” must be precisely our north. For
                                                        5. Ibid., 38.                                             25. Hugh Nibley, The Ancient State: The Rulers and
those who like to believe the New York                  6. Ibid., 40.                                        The Ruled (Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book
Cumorah is the only one, traditions about the           7. John Sorenson, The Geography of Book of           and FARMS, 1991), 353.
New York hill anchor their approaches to ge-
ography. Gardner and Sorenson offer other
solutions, a very complex set all dependent
on a single correlation and time period. In all
cases, “To be accepted as a paradigm, a theory
must seem better than its competitors, but it
need not, and in fact, it never does, explain all
the facts with which it may be confronted.”23
My preference for the Sorenson model simply
                                                                                                                                                                        JOEL KAUFFMANN




says that I appreciate the problems that it
solves, and I expect that further solutions and
refinements will be forthcoming.


MAY 2004                                                                                                                                                    PAGE 9

				
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