Friday, 7 February 2014

Book of Mormon Translation

Published 30th December 2013 http://www.lds.org/topics/book-of-mormon-translation?lang=eng



The beginning of this essay is standard information about Joseph Smith and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. But then it gets bizarre!

Joseph Smith and his scribes wrote of two instruments used in translating the Book of Mormon. According to witnesses of the translation, when Joseph looked into the instruments, the words of scripture appeared in English. One instrument, called in the Book of Mormon the “interpreters,” is better known to Latter-day Saints today as the “Urim and Thummim.” Joseph found the interpreters buried in the hill with the plates. Those who saw the interpreters described them as a clear pair of stones bound together with a metal rim. The Book of Mormon referred to this instrument, together with its breastplate, as a device “kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord” and “handed down from generation to generation, for the purpose of interpreting languages.” The other instrument, which Joseph Smith discovered in the ground years before he retrieved the gold plates, was a small oval stone, or “seer stone.” As a young man during the 1820s, Joseph Smith, like others in his day, used a seer stone to look for lost objects and buried treasure. As Joseph grew to understand his prophetic calling, he learned that he could use this stone for the higher purpose of translating scripture. - Hang on a second Joseph already had an 'interperator', a 'seer stone' that he found long before his prophetic calling? He used it as a young man to look for lost treasure? He is not special, other people had 'seer stones' as well? Does this mean they are everywhere?
Apparently for convenience, Joseph often translated with the single seer stone rather than the two stones bound together to form the interpreters. These two instruments—the interpreters and the seer stone—were apparently interchangeable and worked in much the same way. - An instrument given by the hands of an Angel worked the same as a rock he picked up off the ground? and he liked the stone he found better?
Nevertheless, the scribes and others who observed the translation left numerous accounts that give insight into the process. Some accounts indicate that Joseph studied the characters on the plates. Most of the accounts speak of Joseph’s use of the Urim and Thummim (either the interpreters or the seer stone), and many accounts refer to his use of a single stone. According to these accounts, Joseph placed either the interpreters or the seer stone in a hat, pressed his face into the hat to block out extraneous light, and read aloud the English words that appeared on the instrument. - He looked into a hat with the stone in it and that was how most of the Book of Mormon was translated!? 
The scribes who assisted with the translation unquestionably believed that Joseph translated by divine power. Joseph’s wife Emma explained that she “frequently wrote day after day” at a small table in their house in Harmony, Pennsylvania. She described Joseph “sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.” According to Emma, the plates “often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen table cloth.” - He didn't need the plates at all? What was the use of the plates?
I have watched several inspirational church movies about Joseph Smith. I have seen a lot of pictures of him translating the Book of Mormon. I have even read plenty of accounts describing Emma Smith, Martin Harris and Oliver Cowdrey scribing as Joseph translated. This was never the information given!

Is it just me or are we just telling a nice story, one we want to hear - not one that has truth attached to it?
Concluding Observations:
  • Joseph participated in the spurious practises of treasure seeking as a youth
  • He had 'seer stone(s)' that he used to find buried treasure
  • He later used these stones to translate the Book of Mormon
  • The process involved burying his head into a hat
  • Nobody at the time thought this was unusual
  • This information has not been given to the general church membership
  • A completely different story is promoted in the church

If this information is readily available to the church why is this not been taught?

47 comments:

  1. Hi Ganesh,

    I empathise.

    As a serving bishop I faced my own epiphany 3 years ago.

    If you need to chat any time in available.

    bloorsteve@gmail.com

    Best regards,
    Steve

    http://stevebloor.wordpress.com

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    1. Thanks Steve. I have read a couple of your blogs. I like you perspective. Will be in contact. :)

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    2. Ganesh: If you like Bloor's perspective, haven't you already really made up your mind? I am asking for transparency and honesty here.

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    3. I think I have been pretty clear that I believe the church has been dishonest. What to do about that dishonesty is another matter. I have a lot invested with my involvement in the church, and understanding who, and why this is the situation will be key to figuring out how to move forward. I welcome anyones thoughts on that including yours. :)

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    4. Ganesh,

      I am a Utah physician who will be doing a 1 year sabbatical in Palmerston North starting in July. One of the main reasons why I wanted to go to NZ was to have my kids experience the Church outside of Utah. Unfortunately, I have recently come across the following document, which has gone viral in the US, that caused me to look further and I have resigned from the Church along with my entire family. People are leaving the church in droves in Utah and the leadership has been unable to stop the hemorrhage.
      Here is the document:
      http://cesletter.com/Letter-to-a-CES-Director.pdf

      I would encourage all NZ members to read it and do so objectively and with the bias of wanting the church to be true.

      Cam Torres, MD
      camilotorres1@me.com

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    5. Hi Cam, come visit us we are just down the road in Wellington and can show you around.

      The CES letter is great - thanks for posting.

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  3. The hope with the Open Letter to Thomas S. Monson is that it will create a way for many to express the challenges they are facing with the issues you describe. A way for people to respectfully share how hard this has been and what they hope the church will do to help facilitate healing for many families. The need for transparency is great and real and it's affecting a lot of people.

    http://www.mormonopenletter.com/

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  4. You ask some very good questions. I hope you can find answers. Even more, I hope you can find answers that meet your need to know the truth.

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  5. I am finding it hard to believe that you were ever a bishop or high priest with such a lack of understanding of both the gospel and the history of the church. None of this information has been withheld from anyone - especially church members. I learned these things in seminary as a teenager over 35 years ago. The information is available for all who seek and nothing has ever been deliberately hidden. Your entire commentary is skewed and biased implying some type of deception or cover-up. Perhaps you should have spent more time reading and studying the gospel rather than trying to profit from a self -contrived controversy.

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    1. You are probably right Stewart. I ask myself the same question - how could I have missed this. I think it was a combination of things, I was busy doing my callings, raising a family, pursueing a career, and I relied on my Sunday school lessons to inform me. My earliest experiences with Anti- Mormon literature were unbelieveable and I repeated that bias for the next 20 years. Since I taught Seminary aswell - I can assure you there is nothing in the manuals on any of these subjects!

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    2. Stewart, you may have had a good experience, but that does not mean your experience is universalizable, especially if you grew up in the inter-mountain west here in America. I will agree that the information was there to be had. (I found it myself.) I will also agree that the information was harder to find than it ought to have been, so we should be sympathetic to those just discovering that information now. Your comment is unhelpfully judgmental.

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  6. Deep: I don''t know how to address your claim that this is all new to you without sounding a bit, well, surprised. My 11th grade seminary teacher taught all of these things in 1975. I live in Utah so perhaps that accounts for the lack of resources -- except he used only church publications as sources (going back as far as 1912 in articles by B. H. Roberts. One of the best sources was an interview with William Smith regarding the fact that he haw Joseph put on the large breastplate and saw the "spectacles" that consisted of two rim in which stones were set. He used the "urim and thummim" or, as they were called at that time, the interpreters, to translate the first part of the Book of Mormon. He stopped using it because it hurt his eyes and was too big for him according to William.

    Really I published regarding every issue you raise in 1984 and had know it for 10 years before that. You can read it on my blog blakeostler.com that has been up for over 10 years. I trust that you will not blame others for one's own failure to research an look when this information has been quite available for a very long time. It is not new. The Church has not white-washed it. The first vision accounts were all published an discussed back in the 1980 when the 1832 version was made public after historians pointed it out in the archives.

    Please feel free to contact me through my website blakeostler.com -- I would love to assist you through the transition to an informed and faithful Latter-day Saint if you would like.

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    1. I was quite surprised by this information. Although not a stranger to controversy with church history. This one had elluded me. I wondered if it was my lack of study so did a quick search on LDS.org and found one small reference from 1993. While I was encouraged to see this - the date made me ponder if it was reaction to events of the time with academics who had published contrary information to the official story.

      If we believe in abosolute truth but we are selective in the truths we tell are we not working against ourselves?

      Anyway will check out your blog.

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  7. Hello Ganesh

    I disagree with other posters on this thread; I think you have every reason to wonder about Mormonism given the recent essays. It is also simply not true that all of the information found in the recent essays has been widely available to church members over the years. It was not in church manuals; it was not in conference talks; it was not in The Ensign. That is why members have never heard that, for example, Joseph Smith dictated much of the Book of Mormon while staring at a rock in a hat.

    Back to your wonderings...one LDS doctrine, found in the canonized Doctrine and Covenants, is that "the Lord will not permit the president of the church to lead the stray". Yet the recent essay on blacks and the priesthood found on www.lds.org essentially claims that the priesthood ban for blacks was a mistake made by President Brigham Young. In other words, in order to spin away a legacy of racism, they have undermined a core doctrine, and thus, undermined everyone else's ability to take their authority claims seriously.

    In any case, please feel free to shoot me an email. I have been through the same process as you have. (I'm also a huge Andre Taylor fan, and am looking forward to a great Super 15 season!).

    Best,

    Talmage

    tcrbachman@gmail.com

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    1. Yes I agree with your reasoning on that. I said the same thing in the 'Race and the Priesthood' post on this blog.

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  8. This appears to be a return to the information I grew up with and have sorely missed in church teachings in recent years...

    Growing up in the "70's in Utah, I have to agree with those who find this familiar. It has been a heart ache to see this information removed from church teachings over the years. As the church expanded, a simplification of information seemed to be the direction of "growth". This felt like moving back a grade in the school of life and being told that I could no longer reference the information I had repeatedly learned as a child. I understand that basics were the focus and I am relived to find out that a return to advanced knowledge is being made public and can now be openly discussed. I wonder if the Salt Lake Temple will ever be restored to it's original presentation of symbols. This removal was disturbing to me as it seemed an outward denial of our sacred past.

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    1. Great perspective KuJo... thanks for sharing.

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  9. Ganesh

    I appreciate that, were you not familiar with the issues raised in the essays, their publishing may come as a surprise. I am posting here as opposed to Gina's blog as Gina is my foster sister and she gets a bit sensitive to things I post because we disagree on some church matters.

    I have spent a lifetime studying the many vexing issues in church history. It's hard to know where to begin this all of the issues but I suggest that a good start is www.fairlds.org. There are a number of excellent apologetic scholars' material there and they link and reference to much more. The Neal A Maxwell Institute has a huge resource of material particularly on the Book of Mormon.

    To me the essays were a genuine attempt to bring these issues into sharper focus to perhaps prompt church members to do some digging and to get up to speed. The material and the robust debate between the apologetics and anti Mormons (both of the evangelical Christian and ex Mormon variety) are there for all to see. The church concentrates on its core mission of preaching the gospel, perfecting the Saints and redeeming the dead and feels that the official material that it produces ought to concentrate on those fundementals leaving individual members to do their own research.

    Bottom line is this - when you borrow deep enough, when you thresh out the arguments, when you get a handle on the nuances and detail of the history especially from reputable LDS historians who are strong in the faith every anti Mormon argument has been thoroughly rebutted.

    Many in the church are content to glide over all of this and live in faith and that works for them. Coming from an academic background that wasn't enough for me. I needed to be able to confront the critics of the church head on and argue from a solid foundation of fact and research and I now have reached a point where it doesn't matter what of the many hundreds of issues anti Mormons throw at us there is not one that I cannot refute quickly, succinctly and with a good array of solid research to back it up. If you want help in drilling down to a particular issue that might be of more concern to you than others then email me on jeff.mcintyre@bcgasrecovery.com

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    1. I appreciate your input Jeff.

      I was a brief subscriber to FARMS which I found fun at the time, then life got busy and something had to give.

      As I have got older though, I have been less excited about apologetics. I feel that if it is true it should be self evident. I can come up with an arguement for and against a particular line of thinking. I now want for the humble and the simple which brings understanding entails being not tied to a particular outcome.

      With that in mind I welcome your wisdom and your perspective to the discussion. :)

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  10. FAIR LDS has a history of blatant spinning which, I must say, should be completely unnecessary if Mormonism is what it claims to be. Sure, go there - but if truth is the goal (not just "continuing to believe"), other resources are far more conscientious.

    If I may, I should like to suggest to Ganesh a book written by a three-time LDS Institute director. To me, it is the most impartial discussion of controversies in Mormon truth claims.

    It can be ordered here: http://www.amazon.com/An-Insiders-View-Mormon-Origins/dp/1560851570/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1392241701&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=an+insider%27s+view+of+mormon+origins

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    1. I watched a Grant Palmer video the other day. He was very dry! Which I found awesome.... he had such a different way of examining than I do and I appreciated greatly the information he came up with. I was also impressed that he did not speculate even when asked to share his opinion..... I always speculate even if I know nothing.... I like to be rebutted, the embarrassment is a great motivator to my learning.

      So bring on your critical thoughts Talmage.... you seem like a thinking individual. I would like to hear them.

      :)

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    2. I disagree with you regarding FAIR Tal. It is somewhat uneven because it is a collection by numerous different authors -- but your attempt to poison the well is just not justified. The fact that some of the essays and research reaches a different conclusion than you did does not mean it is a spin. In the end, it comes down to focusing on particular issues carefully and thoughtfully rather than the kind of generalizations regarding a very broad range of studies that you purport to give.

      I also disagree with you about Grant Palmer. I generally disagree with his various conclusions because he lacks knowledge of the historical melieu with which he purports to deal -- and his conclusions are basically uninformed by a broad knowledge of the relevant sources. His conclusions are tendentious and always aimed at a particular conclusion -- justification for his rejection of Joseph Smith as a prophet. There was nothing in his book showing any original research and nothing that was not demonstrably just a warmed-over argument from the earlier generation of anti-Mormon works from which he culled his sources without giving attribution.

      Ganesh, I am like you in at least one respect. I am never shy about giving an opinion with the expectation that it will generate dialog and hopefully further learning. However, I do not understand why it is so hard to accept that Joseph would use a stone in a hat but somehow more acceptable and easier to believe that used two stones set in a rim of a breastplate. (He used both of these BTW) Please feel free to check out my books on my website.

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    3. I would also like to state my reservations about Grant Palmer. I find his scholarship to be quite shoddy. FAIR is okay, but to get the more interesting stuff, FARMS/Maxwell Institute is where you will find the cream of the crop as far as believing scholarship on the church. Even then, not all FARMS/MI articles or books are equally as good or as useful.

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  11. Talmage

    If your baseline position is that the claims of the church are untrue then of course FAIR will come across as spinning.

    As to the self evident truth comments made by you and Ganesh, apologetics is a time honoured part of the Christian tradition and is vital given that beliefs are under constant and relentless attack by those who oppose the fullness of the gospel or even the basic Christian message as preached by non LDS Christians. The scriptures are full of this intellectual war for the mind and hearts of men. Alma and Amulek, Paul and Peter took on their contemporary opponents of the truth and never blithe fully sat back assuming the truth was so self evident that it would simply prevail. This is an extension of the war in heaven which as we know was a war of words.

    In the immediate era after the death of the apostles there was a blizzard of false, confusing and conflicting claims about not only the truth of God but of the true nature of the gospel Jesus taught. Satan has used obfuscation, shades of truth, loud denunciation and outright lies and deceit as his tools of the trade for centuries. Christian apologetics of various faiths wage a vigourous war of words with the sneering atheists of this world like Richard Dawkins and his ilk.

    The last point I would like to make is that a parallel to the apologetics is the larger and more academically robust explosion of research that brings broad and deep linguistic, archeological and cultural support for the core contention of the LDS faith - that of the divinity of the Book of Mormon. There is a mountain of original research on this front that, by the admission of prominent evangelical anti Mormon scholars, they have been unable to effectively rebut. The same is true for the ex (or effectively ex) Mormon critics who dwell mostly in the issues of contention in LDS history space and largely avoid the growing list of publications from LDS scholars now credentialed at leading non LDS institutions.

    My suggestion Ganesh is to rather than dwell in generalities is to perhaps engage on a particular topic and since this is your blog then it can be whatever troubles you the most. If it is the translation methods of the Book of Mormon then lets start there.

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    1. You make some good points Jeff. My conflict is not with the translation process though, its the difference between the story that we tell and the reality that the historical account gives us. Can you help me with understanding how we got to this point?

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    2. Ganesh: I can help you understand how we got here. First, there was an intense amount of historical research in 1970s and 1980s. Much of it was published in BYU Studies (that had an entire issue dedicated to the various First Vision accounts and their implications) and an issue regarding money digging and translation with seer stones. The Church leaders were still sorting out the best way to disseminate evidence and conclusions where the most knowledgeable scholars often disagreed.

      There are thousands upon thousands of documents in the Church archives and in other research libraries that take a long time to collate digest and place in some historical narrative. I have had access to the archives and there are still many documents that we haven't really research well. I researched and wrote about the translation process in my 1984 article that you can find on my website. I was pulling much of the evidence together at that time and doing my best to make some sense of it. I discussed much of it with several leaders of the Church (70s and members of the 12) at that time. Some of them knew about it; others did not. The exact method of translation was something that required a good deal of research to pin down -- and we are still working it (despite the fact that you appear to think you have it all figured out and have a sufficient grasp of all of the evidence to assess it for others as this blog attests).

      The new perspectives came out of a process of historical scholarship putting the narratives together. The research by Lester Bush and others that was published in Dialogue in 1973 was important in the developments regarding the priesthood. I did a forward to a book of Sterling McMurrin's essays where McMurrin states that the early 1960s David O McKay told him that he knew the practice of withholding the priesthood from Blacks was not doctrinal and that a great deal of research was being conducted to determine the basis for the practice. They wanted unanimity in the quorum and all but 2 members voted in the late 1960s to lift the ban -- but without unanimity they were not willing to make the change until the prophet received a revelation.

      As new evidence has been found or existing evidence reassessed in light of new evidence, the Church decided to take the position that it would encourage church members to publish in scholarly journals where those who were interested and had the ability and education to assess the evidence would be able to access it; but those who were not really capable of assessing the evidence because thy lack the background would not readily be exposed it. In addition, the church had legitimate concern that historical records about matter it deemed sacred such as the temple endowment, second sealings, and so forth would not be promulgated by the Church.

      With the internet this approach changed. Now anyone who can click a button can access whether they have the background an ability to assess it or not. I find folks who have no understanding of ancient documents, languages, history or related issues pontificating about matters they know little about except what they got on some website. They reach conclusions based upon a such a little information but not education to assess and place the new information into a narrative that makes any sense of it.

      Much of the research on plural marriage and Joseph introduction of it has occurred in the last decade, with the beginning only really in the 1980s with serious research having access to documents. Brian Hales recently published what I regard as the most comprehensive assessment of that issue just this year.

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  12. Ganesh,

    I was baptized in midwest USA as a teenager. While I have been a member for 45+ years, I only found out about these things in the last 10 years or so via the Internet.

    Perhaps we should just acknowledge that some of the things we've been taught are wrong, and search to find and verify what is the truth of these matters.

    Steve

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    1. Yes - I agree.... my big questions is why did we get taught things that were wrong?

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    2. We are taught things that are wrong because we live in an age where we need imagery. The keys we all have been given are so simple...study things out in your mind and ask GOD. The handbooks of the Church are great guidelines for helping a person not be overwhelmed on so many topics. The movies though are from someone's view of how a certain event happened. Think for a moment of a basketball game. Depending on your seat will determine what you remember of that game. For TV, they will have multiple cameras to give the viewer the best view of the game...or the view they want you to focus on. So that is what people then remember. Then we read later about shoving that was going on under a basket, or how a player was sick and throwing up on the bench or in a locker room...or many other sub story lines that could be pivotal in telling the whole story. I think of the Sacred Grove...I have been there...in early spring...and early spring...no leaves on the tree....then whey does every photo show this green forest? When if we read the actual account, Joseph knelt and looked around to make sure he was alone. Why would he need to do that if the trees and bushes had leaves...but he would do that if there were no leaves on the tree. So is this the important part of the story? No, the fact is that he went, he prayed and saw and heard many things. How does that matter to me...well, I don't need to go to the sacred grove to have a vision. I can go anywhere I choose for privacy and call upon our Heavenly Father...24 hours a day, 365 days a year...He has no security guards or office hours...He is there for us...if we will ask Him with a sincere heart. That is the message...not if there are leaves on a tree. Could the story be made to be more accurate...probably but people like things green. Whatever...doesn't really matter....I am just happy for what was learned there...that anyone can call upon Heavenly Father in prayer. Now when we pray, do we do as my grandmother who joined the Jehovah's Witness because they were the most Anti Mormon organization in the town she lived in....and she joined and prayer saying "okay, I am suppose to pray so I know the mormon church is false and unless you give me a sign I can recognize, I will continue to disbelieve". Do you think she really wanted to do as Moroni said which was basically to study this out...and then ask if the are true. Consider all that the Church represents....all that the teachings speak about...that is what we get a testimony of...not if there are leaves on a tree in a movie becuase some art director wanted leaves. Then when people become teachers..instead of just teaching the simple truths that are in manuals, teachers want the wow factors fo trying to find some tidbit that no one knew to look like they are some gospel scholar...when in reality, the best material for the lesson is in the scriptures themselves....they just don't trust the message. Anyways, I could go on and on and glad to chat with you about any point of doctrine so long as you are sincere and not wanting to chat as my grandmother would.

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    3. Thanks Mohrman Family. I appreciate the story nature of history and rhetoric and I agree. However there are a few things that we should consider. 1. The church kept impeccable records so it is not a matter of remembering it differently later, and multiple viewpoints can be referenced against each other for clarity. 2. A nice story wont save you... we believe in absolute truth so our artist licence can only extend so far (e.g Paul H Dunn) 3. A manual that only tells the uplifting idea (simple truth) can then be used to justify unchristlike behaviour (e.g we are the true church therefore Jehovah's Witnesses are 'less' )

      There are no simple truths..... truth by definition is profound and it has far reaching implications. It is not enough to want the church to be true it needs to stand up to some consistency and some reasonable measure.

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    4. Hello...in response...1. Yes the Church does have some really good records...nothing like what they have today. Even the records from 20 years ago lack dramatically to what we have today. However, histories are still the viewpoint of one person...as for perception from multiple sources...think of a sporting event...how many different views are there for the same event. Sports writers are the best at saying they are neutral yet so very biased. 2. A nice story can save you...(e.g. Paul H. Dunn) I knew him...I felt bad for him...felt bad that he felt he needed to embellish stories...but was he doing it to get a point across or simply for fame and glory...here again people can make many assumptions...and that is between him and the Lord. As for the stories themselves....wow, some are so very cool...and for me, I just read it all like parables...doesn't matter if the event occurred...what was he trying to say. As for saving people...well, actually, one of his books in particular, Look at your world, was filled with stories that inspired me personally. I grew up in the southern states of the US and it would have been so easy to try various things which was against the standards I had been taught. That book spoke to me of real thoughts...and I credit it with making me think. 3. I don't really get your third point and I NEVER said Jehovah's Witnesses were less...I related a story of my grandmother who selected to attend them because in her words, they disliked the mormon church the most. So be it. I don't condone attacking any religion and think it is by far more productive and hard enough to just stay true to the principals found in the ten commandments...or the two commandments that the Savior stated in the new testament. Do I love God first and foremost? If so, am I feeding the sheep and trying to lift them even if some people understand things better with fluffy stories and others like the doctrines straight and to the point. In regards to no simple truths...not being a smart mouth but of source there are simple truths...speaking of the basics...one plus one will ALWAYS equal two...that is a basic truth. As for this subject, it is a very basic truth that we can find a private spot and pray...and open a heart and say whatever we want about any subject. If a person thinks they are only talking to a wall, then there prayer will probably feel that way....however, I know...I will repeat, this is a simple truth...I KNOW HE is there and hears prayers. That is a simple truth...and the more we spend time pondering His life, his teachings, the scenarios etc...wow, the more our hearts feel open and love and appreciation fill our minds. I don't think we have enough time in our life to really KNOW Him as we keep learning...yet hmmmm I wonder who would rather people ignore this simple truth of learning of Him and would rather sidetrack people. Again, I can be mocked...that is fine...I am fine though with simple truths. The Church has nothing to prove...that is what is interesting about all of this...they tell everyone to simply pray about it...so if a person doesn't like it, okay...but if you really want to know about it, then you follow the formula. Anyways...best wishes.

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  13. BTW, did not Joseph use the seer stone because the Urim and Thumim had been retrieved by the angel after the Martin Harris affair and had not been returned?

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    1. I have heard this stated.... can you find a reliable source please and post.

      Many thanks

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  14. Hello, a friend sent me a link to some of your postings and if you really are sincere in what you are searching for, then despite the fact that this post will be mocked, I will share a comment or two. A common thread exists between those who begin to alienate themselves from the Church, which is their right. As I read of people who feel betrayed about a history that we do not know the exactness of...I wonder to myself, what does it really matter? For my own life, I have been amazed how friends and families remember the same event so many different ways as time has gone on through the years. IF in my own family, history is rewritten, then why should I be surprised about the Church history since NONE of us were there for any of this. I like the phrase, the gospel is beautifully simple and simply beautiful...not that I think a person needs to be naive, yet I think people tend to forget the basics. What basics, well, simply this...did you ever pray to Heavenly Father and feel an answer in your heart and mind? Have you ever given a person a blessing and felt your mind filled wiht thoughts? Have you ever been talking when you are able to perceive truth...the list goes on and on...things that cannot be written about nor proved but they can be mocked. Have you ever seen a miracle and given thanks instead of questioning the thing you asked for in the beginning? You see that is what the problem is...we worry so much about what we were not told or what we think we were misled with when we fail to remember and credit ourselves wiht the ability to think and feel for ourselves. Let me ask you this also...How do you think the Savior would act or write about a Church that tries to help the poor and needy and while the people are not perfect, nor are any people, the organization itself tries to help others and build. One may not agree with everything but do we agree with everything that anyone tells us? Then why the double standard for religion? The advantage religion has is that teh Savior promised us the Holy Ghost and that gift alone, helps us to find peace no matter how loud people can make noise. You see it doesn't matter about the history...it matters about the teachings and are those teachings to edify or crucify and then what are our actions then? In the last days in the Lord's vineyard there will be a pruning ...what do you think it will be about...perhaps those that know how to pray and follow the Savior. Reread sometime 2 Nephi 28:14. There is so much to say but I seriously feel sad for you and any other leader who had an opportunity to feed the Lord's sheep as hopefully your desire has been to serve the Lord and help people. That is what the Savior teaches. He also taught very plainly about commandments in the Bible as well. You want answers...then go to the source, not disgruntled people who has a goal to destroy instead of build. If a person does not like the Church, then take the good and move on...but to belittle things we do not know. that doesn't sound like the actions of a true disciple of Christ. As for the Book of Mormon...I have seen the original manuscript...or at least some of the pages that remain. I could tell you many things of my impressions but the simple fact is that nothing compares to simply reading the book, thinking of the message and then asking God if it is true. I wish you and all other active truthseekers to the best and to simple reflect back on the numerous times the Lord has sent His spirit to answer your questions.

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    1. Mohrman Family your desire for the simple is my desire also. The challenge is that all of this is very complex - if I want to believe; I have to put aside consistency, I have to put aside history, I have to put aside personal accounts, and I have to put aside logic and rely wholey on my feelings and emotions. I am not sure that I can trust myself to be impartial as I desire a certain outcome.

      If I was really being honest I would have to acknowledge that I have had great witnesses about things that later turned out be completely fiction. But actually that is not unusual, I have often been moved to tears in a movie even though I know that it is based on a novel. Some of my favourite scripts that I quote daily (Princess Bride & Groundhog Day) have played out in my life in spectacular fashion. Now we could point to underlying truths in these stories that we felt the Spirit about, or understanding that we are empathetic creatures that love, connect and seek belonging. Perhaps it is both of those things. But this church does not have a monopoly on the Spirit or even a valid claim that we have it more abundantly.... but we do have a good script.

      :)

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    2. I absolutely agree the Mormon Church does not have a monopoly on truth. Why do you think it is that you can be moved to tears from a movie based on a novel. Could it be that in reality, the principals found therein are truths..some things as simple as just being nice. You say you would have to put aside history, I counter by saying that we don't know the history...I have seen the original manuscripts..I have my opinion about them but how many have actually seen them? I can speak of a knowledge of what the paper looks like...the color of ink, a protective covering that was placed on each page...but I can not tell you the conditions that existed while they were being written. Yes records were kept...by others...in their own views. How is it that you can place the standards of record keeping on the people back then. I could go on and on about this but the reality is that NO ONE was there. Just like no one is around today that lived during the Bible. AS I read the Bible...does it matter if there is a story about Jonah and Whale? Or is the moral of the story what will carry the spirit of truth? To get get caught up on exact details of a story that we just don't know, is focusing on the wrong thing. Yes you can disagree but I still know that if a person wants truth...go to the source...not people. I can not deny personal events...you say you would have to put aside personal accounts...what about your own personal accounts that you now say is based on something that may not be true. You are missing what the Spirit was testifying of. You are missing the gift from the Spirit. By the way, you never read where I said that the Church had a monopoly on truth...but I do believe simple things like in 3 Nephi 11 where He said to stop the disputations...why is that so important? Whenever man thinks they know more than the spirit of any religion, they educate themselves away from feeling the Spirit and ironically, they do not see miracles. As for the Church writing the positives of the history, even to the point of being inaccurate, yes I think that is not good but I am looking at the message, and not really caring about man's imperfection. Why is it that the Savior helped people...where do you read about Him picking apart the religion of the time? Oh He ripped on certain people...yes I get that...but He taught simple principals...as simple as people in the old testament that just needed to look at a stick to be saved yet they couldn't. I can tell you the more you take Savior out of the equation and look for and search for any fault you can in people and situations, the more you will forget your own personal accounts and basically turn your back on miracles you have seen and will end up dismissing them. Again, if you want to know truth, go to the source...honestly....we do not need to go on top of a mountain or find a grove of trees to know truth...but when we get it, even though we don't know all things, are we confident enough to know what we know and then keep building on that, or push it aside because we can't have everything now. Best wishes....

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  15. Ganesh, is there a way to send you a personal email?

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  16. Hello, Ganesh. Please know that there is a very supportive online community for members trying to decide how they feel about the church, given new information. It's called the "New Order Mormon Forum" and is accessible at: http://forum.newordermormon.org/viewforum.php?f=1&sid=f689db6bdbf8c58be3914d6918d5e077

    Your essays are very powerful. You "get it"--that current doctrines could later be thrown out by future church leaders, which means that trying to determine true doctrine is like "trying to hamer [gelatine] to a wall," per an eloquent friend of mine.

    You may email me with any concerns you have: shaunalei@codepoet.org

    My husband and I were invited to participate in the iamanexmormon project. I invite you to watch our video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr3JYFX1Czg

    "Life with your eyes wide open. It gets better . . ."

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    1. Great thanks Shaunalei - will check that all out!

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  17. Much has been written on the subject from an intellectual basis. How did you feel when you read D&C 132 ? Is this something you would openly share in the public with non-members ? How did you feel when Lucifer asked you to put on your aprons ? How did you feel when you went thru the motions of having your throat slit ? How did you feel when Adam was calling on God and who showed up ? How did you feel with the parting words of Lucifer to you? Was Love present ? Was God present in these proceeding ? Never mind the history to which we were not present, this is something you were physically present to participate. God Blesses

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  18. HI Ganesh, I personally don't see a problem, the lord used what Joseph was already comfortable, what does it matter what the words appeared on. I was shocked at first when I found out abit this a few years ago, my faith WAS shaken, but I hav now found peace with allthe issues that have been raised. I suggest having a look at the FAIR LDS site a very good MOrmon apologetics sit and FARMS.

    On this issue of the seer stone see http://en.fairmormon.org/Joseph_Smith/Seer_stones


    BTW for general issues. This book is fantastic at cutting through anti-mormon drivel..

    http://www.shakenfaithsyndrome.com/

    Kirk Brocas

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  19. Ganesh

    Here are some mainstream LDS sources (like the Ensign etc) where material on this subject has been published

    * “‘By the Gift and Power of God,’” Ensign, Jan. 1997, 36–41; Russell M. Nelson, “A Treasured Testament,”
    * Ensign, July 1993, 61–63; Richard Lloyd Anderson, “‘By the Gift and Power of God,’”
    * Ensign, Sept. 1977, 78–85; and Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, xxix–xxxii.)
    * "Book of Mormon Translation," Gospel Topics on lds.org
    * Gerrit Dirkmaat (Church History Department), "Great and Marvelous Are the Revelations of God," Ensign, January 2013
    * Kenneth W. Godfrey, "A New Prophet and a New Scripture: The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon," Ensign (Jan 1988)

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    1. Likewise Jeff, these references are also poor. There is one reference [Peter Whitmer] used twice which indicates 'seer stones' and 'hat' - otherwise you could have been forgiven for mixing up the Urim & Thummim for seer stones and not understood the difference or implication.

      Again the amount of references and quality are more of a confirmation that this information was being kept unexpressed.

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