Saturday, November 18, 2017

The “I’m Not Changing Scripture” Game - Mesoamerica

In a typical Mesoamerican view of the scriptures, the following statement is submitted by John E. Clark (FARMS Review 16/2, 2004, p1-54, of Review of Sacred Sites: Searching for Book of Mormon Lands, by Joseph L. Allen, 2003; and A New Model for Book of Mormon Geography, by James Warr, 2001) as a defense of John L. Sorenson and his treatment of directions in the Book of Mormon scriptural record. Regarding those critical of Sorenson's work, Clark claims:
    “The specific claim of interest is that "some literature" alters directions in the Book of Mormon or on Mesoamerican maps. This is demonstrably untrue. Sorenson's geography is the real target here. He has preserved the orientation of Mesoamerica in all of his arguments, and he has not, to my knowledge, altered even a single scripture to say that north was west or south was east. What Allen's loose accusations appear to be trying to convey is that Sorenson does not assume that "northward" in the Book of Mormon is obvious, so it is not something that can be taken at "face value." The problem resides neither in the manipulation of modern maps nor in ancient scripture but in the rapprochement of the two.”
    One can only wonder how an intelligent individual can make such a claim. First of all, the word used here is “rapprochement.” While it is taken from the French “rapprocher,” meaning “to approach,” from Late Latin “appropiare” which is “to approach.” Originally the French word was used to signify “to approach with intensive force.” In public groups it was sometimes used for “reunion, reconciliation,” and literally means “a bringing near,” it is used today “in public relations and international groups” who have been enemies” to have “friendlier relations.” Even in 1809, the word was meant to “establish cordial relations.” In fact, its meaning is listed as the opposite (antonyms), such as “alienation, disaffection, disgruntlement, estrangement, coldness, cold shoulder, distance, iciness, animosity, antagonism, antipathy, bitterness, enmity, hostility ,jaundice, rancor, spite.”
    Hardly an appropriate word to use in this case, but since it is used, we can assume that what Clark meant is that combining both Sorenson’s map, which shows a 90º tilt from true north-south directions, and the difference between it and “ancient scripture,” i.e., the Book of Mormon, is in harmony. 
    However, there is no possibility of this being true unless one changes the intent of either the existing maps or the directional wordage in “ancient scripture.” To be clear, Sorenson does not come out and say “the scripture is wrong,” nor does he write, “We need to change this scripture to read,” etc. But what he does is ignore the scripture because it does not fit his pre-determined shape and compass orientation of his Land of Promise, which he claims is Mesoamerica. And when one looks at Mesoamerica—not Central America, which are to entirely different things—we find a land form that runs basically east and west, in fact, almost due east and due west!
Mesoamerica, meaning “middle America” is that area of land beginning a little above Mexico City and extending a little beyond Guatemala, including the area of southern Mexico, the Yucatan, Guatemala, Belize, and the western portion of Honduras and El Salvador. It lies between North America and Central America in theory and ancient usage

However, if one goes beyond Mesoamerica lines, then one can bring in that there is a northwest orientation through upper Mexico, and a southeast orientation from Nicaragua southward. In fact, if we take the entire land mass from the United States southern border, including all of Mexico to the Panama border with Colombia in South America, then we can see a definite northwest to southeast direction of the land going from north to south.
The actual lay of the land of Mexico, Mesoamerica and Central America

The problem lies in the fact that Mesoamerica, or Middle America, or the land that Mesoamerican theorists claim is the Land of Promise of the Jaredites, Nephites, and Lamanites, actually runs from about Mexico City through western Honduras, including Guatemala, Belize the Yucatan and southern Mexico. At best, because of the slight curve of southern Mexico, one can say that Mesoamerica is about 90º off kilter from the north-south orientation of both Mexico and Central America, which is inarguably the direction of the Land of Promise as Mormon so clearly describes it.
When the rest of the land is removed from Mesoamerica, you get a very different picture. That area inside the red lines is the actual location of ancient ruins, southern Mexico, Yucatan, Guatemala, Belize and some of Honduras. As one can see, it basically runs east and west

So how on earth is it possible to make any claim at all that Mormon’s north-south descriptions are not being changed when you introduce a map of the Land of Promise that runs basically east and west, when you label the Gulf of Mexico, at the north of the narrow neck of land, as the Sea East, and the Pacific Ocean, as it runs along the narrow neck of land to the south as the Sea West? 
    How is that not changing the scriptural record?
    To say Sorenson does not come out and change any scripture is a blatant falsehood—since he is changing the basic meaning of the scripture even though he tries to do so without appearing to do so. 
    In the early days of verbal manipulation, it was called a “sleigh of hand,” a “silver-tongue” a “selling of snake oil.” Today it is called “The Word Game,” a psychological technique of using words to make it sound positive when discussing a negative idea, or stating a positive sound in order to cover up a negative approach. More specifically, using words that are positive in their individual meanings in a context that is, in and of itself, representing a movement, theory, idea or ideology that is fundamentally negative to those receiving the information.
During the Cold War of the 1960s through 1990s, the Soviet Union developed numerous front organizations to hide their infamous internal organizations bent on the destruction of the American Way of Life. In all cases, they used names and titles that, on the surface, sound like great ideas and organizations, yet in reality, represented organizations bent on the overthrow and destruction of the United States

So one can say Sorenson is not changing scripture; however, when you take a map and change its directions from those Mormon described in clear and precise language, you are changing scripture and it is not a game! Neither is taking locations of lands Mormon gave us and putting them on a map out of order, in the wrong direction, and not in relationship one to another as Mormon laid them out. 
    If that is not changing the meaning of scripture, then we would like to know what is!
    In fact, our third book Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican and Other Theorists, in which more than half of the book is devoted to all the claims that Sorenson makes about the scriptural record that is wrong, altered, changed, or misleading, i.e., changing what the scriptural record states in the clear and previse language Mormon uses, shows this constant tendency.
Sorenson’s Map of Mesoamerica as he Land of Promise (Map 5, Page 37)

In addition, when looking at Sorenson’s map of his Land of Promise, not only are the directions skewed from Mormon’s clear and precise language, but so are the placement of locations within the Land of Promise. Take, for instance, Sorenson’s distance between the Land of Many Waters and the land and hill Cumorah, that distance is approximately 400 miles, yet Mormon describes Cumorah being within the Land of Many waters as he so states: “And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites” (Mormon 6:4).
    Also in looking at the map of Sorenson’s Land of Promise, he has the land of Bountiful (using his directions) east of Zarahemla, and east of Nephi (north on a regular map); the Sea East to the north, and the Sea West to the south, Desolation due west of Bountiful, and the Land Northward due west of the Land Southward.
    One cannot defend changing scripture in order to make the scripture sound like it means something else—which is no different than claiming the scripture means something else if you think you know what Mormon meant to say, but did not, or should have said, or said differently than was meant. One can play a word game, but the end result is that the meaning and intent of the scripture is changed! And John E. Clark, a professor of Archaeology at BYU, who has published, according to his bio, over 177 works, should know that.
    Clarke goes on to say: “We may be tempted to think automatically that "northward" and "southward" label directions that are the same as "north" and "south." But "northward" signals a different concept than does "north," something like "in a general northerly direction."
    The problem with this is, theorists think they can change the meaning of words in order to make the scriptural record say what they want it to say. As an example, “north” means “being in the north,” and “being that point of the horizon which is directly opposite to the sun in the meridian, on the left hand when we stand with the face to the east.” And northward, as we have written many times, means “being toward the north,” or “nearer the north than to the east and west points.”
    Thus, we have two words, “north” and “northward” which pretty much mean the same thing, i.e., "in the north” and “toward the north.” It cannot be said that “northward signals a different concept than does north,” in that both point to the same basic direction, with northward having a little more leeway in degree latitude—but does not signify a “different concept.”
    Clark then goes on: “By their frequency of using the -ward suffix, we can infer that Mormon and his ancestors used a somewhat different cultural scheme for directions than we do.”
    How on earth anyone can draw that conclusion is beyond irresponsibility, it is downright fallacious! Mormon and his ancestors used north just as we do today, i.e., placing lands and places to the “north” and to the “northward,” or stated in definition terms, placing lands and places “to the north,” and “toward the north.”
    Lastly, this theorist concludes: “However, we cannot tell from the Book of Mormon text exactly how their concepts differed from ours, because all we have to work with is the English translation provided through Joseph Smith.”
    It is near impossible to understand such thinking. We can certainly tell from the Book of Mormon text exactly what Mormon’s concept was and that it was not different from ours despite how much this author and other theorist want it to be, so it would validate their model and thinking. And because we have the English translation provided through Joseph Smith, by the Spirit, we know exactly what Mormon meant!
    Thus we can easily see that in order for these Mesoamerican and other theorists in their desperate attempt to make the scriptural record say what they want it to say and not what Mormon actually said, they do have to change the meaning of the scriptural record! They must cloud the issue, introduce doubt and problems that do not exist, and throw a cloud over both the writing and the translation of the original prophets on the plates. The only reason to do that is to try and prove their own message, their own location of the Land of Promise, and their own beliefs that obviously do not agree with the scriptural record—if it did agree with the scriptural record, then all this subterfuge would not be necessary on their part!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Are These the Waters of Mormon?

It has never been our nature here to speculate on locations of such fleeting areas as rivers, lakes, cities where limited information in the scriptural record does not provide sufficient descriptive information to provide more than just an educated guess. However, in regard to this particular area, the Waters of Mormon, has provided sufficient information after lengthy study to allow us to suggest at least a strong possibility. 
   Though we have tried every possibility to disprove this possible location, it is interesting that a turn of events worked its way into our grasp with answers falling into place almost of their own accord, and the possibility seems sufficiently strong to offer our opinion on this. After all, there just might be a chance to pinpoint the Waters of Mormon in the Peruvian landscape outside Cuzco, the City of Nephi.
“Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light... if this be the desire of your heart, what have ye against being baptized in the name of the Lord?” (Mosiah 18:8, 10)
  
First of all, we know very little about the Waters of Mormon, and typically not enough to say this is where the Waters of Mormon were located; however, what we do know is quite consistent with an area in south-central Peru, a little north of Cuzco.
    In suggesting these might be the Waters of Mormon, we need to review what is known about those waters:
1. In the borders of the land (Alma 5:3)
2. In a land called Mormon (Alma 5:3)
3. The waters were so configured, that a large number of baptisms took place there in a short time (Mosiah 18:16; Alma 5:3)
4. It had a fountain of pure water (Mosiah 18:5)
5. There was a thicket of small trees near the water (Mosiah 18:5)
6. The natural cover of the thicket was sufficient for Alma to hide in during the day from searches by the king’s guard (Mosiah 18:5)
7. The overall area was called Mormon, a name given it by the king (Mosiah 18:4)
8. It was located in the borders of the land having been infested, by times or at seasons, with wild beasts (Mormon 18:4)
9. The waters were by a forest, called the forest of Mormon
10. The area was large enough to sustain 450 people in the final days before they left.
    So the area had a large enough pool or lake to be named, a small enough area of water fed by a fountain of pure water (probably meaning mountain water from a spring) that was separate enough for the water not to be mixed or influenced by the lake water; had a small stand of trees near where the baptisms took place, plus a forest of some size in which 450 people could hide and live.
    It also had to be a place where this number of people could sustain themselves, either through hunting or some type of planted groves; where people could move in an out without drawing attention to themselves; where their movements were well enough masked by undergrowth that when the king’s army searched for them, there was no trace of them.
    Now, since we know what we are looking for, we also have to consider that this area existed prior to the destruction signaled by the crucifixion, where mountains tumbled to the ground, and flat areas rose into mountains, whose height was great. If the lake or waters survived, they might not look exactly like what they had before, on the other hand, when Mormon introduced himself around 25 A.D., he does so by saying, “I am called Mormon, being called after the land of Mormon, the land in which Alma did establish the church among the people…” (3 Nephi 5:12), which sounds like the area of Mormon was still in existence and had not changed much, if at all. Still, Mormon’s father was also called Mormon (Mormon 1:5), so we don’t know if he was named after his father, or both of them named after the land.
    According to Mormon’s words, the people Alma baptized, assembled together as often as it was in their power to do so (Mosiah 18:25), suggesting they not only traveled from the City of Nephi to the Waters of Mormon to be preached to by Alma and then baptized, by him afterward, as often as they could manage it, they traveled there to assemble together and hear more about God, for all of this was done in the land of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, and the forest of Mormon (Mosiah 18:30). And by the time the king discovered them so meeting and sent his army, they numbered 450 people (Mosiah 18:35).
    So has been discussed in earlier articles on this subject, the distance from the City of Nephi to the Waters of Mormon should have been within a one to two-day journey—for they did take their tents and overnight stays are evident (Mosiah 18:34).
    Typically, historians have placed this area to either the north or northwest of the City of Nephi. While we have no confirmation of this in the scriptural record, we have found a lake to the north of Cuzco, the City of Nephi. That lake is 18 miles distance (shorter as the crow flies), which means it would take about a day and a half to travel there over the type of mountainous terrain existing in the area. It might also be assumed that the converts would have left at night when unobserved, and likely pitched their tents when a few hours from the city, for travel over uneven ground at night is very difficult, especially with women and children.
Puray Lake, with the yellow arrows showing the lengthy forest stretching out for miles along the lake front, and impassable mountains beyond low-lying hills. It is a haven for birds much of the year

Consequently, about a day or day and a half journey north of the City of Nephi in the Sacred Valley of Peru, lies a lake at 13°25’48.98" S  71°59’58.30" W, called Puray Lake (Laguna Piuray), at an elevation of 12,877 feet, about 8 miles southeast of Chincero.
    This is a forested area with sparsely-covered, low lying hills, and barren mountains jutting up behind. Between the hills and the lake is a long, wide forest running the entire length of the water. To the northeast along the lake shore, the forests have long been removed and terraced planting installed, as well as along the east shore and hills as well.
    Within the forest are several waterways, mostly fed by the Puray Falls, where fountains of pure water exist higher up and spill over into the pools deep in the forest completely secluded from exterior view.
    Lake Puray is 18 miles to the north of Cuzco deep in the Sacred Valley, surrounded by the Andes on three sides, with a large forest between the lake and the mountains in which are found the Puray Falls, and perfect pools of water for baptizing. The Falls flow more heavily in the winter, and less in the summer, providing a perfect, pleasant pool collection where baptisms could easily be conducted. Today, this area is used as a swimming pool, where kids jump off the rocks above into the deeper end of the pool. However, most of the pool is about waist-high in depth, with river rock on the bottom and allow for easy walking in and out.
Left: Puray Falls back from the lake and within the forest of trees drops into a pool of pure water and provides a perfect place for baptism; Right: Today this area is used as a local swimming hole

This is a very isolated region, even today a couple of small villages with only a couple of dozen families live around the lake, with Chincera about eight miles away. Much of these highlands are fed by natural spring water.
Isolated Lake Puray showing the forest around it and how difficult it would have been for Noah’s army to find people hiding there
 
While this area may not be the Waters of Mormon, given the location of the City of Nephi and the land of Shilom, it fits in with the scriptural record descriptions, complete with being in the borders of the Land of Nephi and Shilom, a perfect location for baptisms in an isolated pool of fresh, pure water, where thickets of small trees grow nearby—new growth of the forest beside the area, and the natural cover would have provided security for more than four hundred people.
The boulder-rimmed pool of pure water around Puray Falls, which would have been ideal for baptism, containing pure water from the falls, and before people began swimming in it, you could have drunk this mountain water without hesitation

Again, while this is all assumptive and we are not suggesting this is definitely the area of the Waters of Mormon, it certainly meets the requirements of the location specified, though briefly, in the scriptural account.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Strength of the Book of Mormon – Part II

Continuing from the previous post, regarding the accuracy of the scriptural record and its direct ties to its Hebrew origins. Much has been written disparagingly of the LDS Church and its Book of Mormon, but as the years pass, more and more information comes forward and is discovered to verify the accuracy and authenticity of the scriptural record. In fact, the finding of more and more typically “Christian” institutions among pre-Christian Jews who had fled from Jerusalem because of their faith in the Messiah and their disapproval of the wickedness of that city answers what have been in the past the most powerful arguments against the Book of Mormon.
    Since Hugh Nibley’s lesson manual first appeared, there have been hundreds of books and articles written in the pursuit of examining the nature of that “strange Church in the Wilderness” or “Church of Anticipation” that was first brought to light by the Dead Sea Scrolls.
 
The community to which the Dead Sea Scrolls apparently belonged occupied Qumran around 130 B.C. to 70 A.D., and possibly lived also in other places in the region. The site of Qumran, now a series of ruins, located on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea along the west bank, sitting on a dry plateau about one mile from the shore, near the kibbutz (collective community) of Kalya (from Latin for Kalium, a potassium chemical found in abundance in the region). Qumran was originally constructed during the reign of John Hyrcanus (134-104 B.C.) until destroyed by the Romans around 68 B.C. Nearby were caves in the sheer desert cliffs and beneath, in the marlstone terrace. The site of Qumran ruins (Khirbet Qumran) had been occupied at various times in antiquity. At a low level were found the remains of walls and pottery from of the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. A deep circular cistern also belonging to this period existed which, centuries later, was incorporated in an elaborate system of aqueducts and reservoirs, and likely was the site known as the Biblical "Ir ha-Melah"—City of Salt.
    The name "Dead Sea Sect" was given to the people because the main knowledge of the sect derives from these manuscripts, and were an extremist offshoot of the Jewish apocalyptic movement, whose basic doctrine was the expectation of the soon end of days. According to them, when that time comes, the wicked would be destroyed, and Israel freed from the yoke of the nations. Before this, God would raise for Himself a community of elect who were destined to be saved from the divine visitation, and who were the nucleus of the society of the future.
    The Dead Sea Sect carried these views to extremes specific to itself. They believed that God had decreed not only the end but also the division of mankind into two antagonistic camps called "the sons of light and the sons of darkness," lead by superhuman "prince of light" and "angel of darkness" respectively. Reference is also made to "the spirit of truth" and "the spirit of perverseness" which are given to mankind. Of these, each person receives his portion, in accordance with which he is either righteous or wicked. Between these two categories God has set "eternal enmity" which would cease only in the end of days, with the destruction of the spirit of perversion and the purification of the righteous from its influence. Then "the sons of the spirit of truth" would receive their reward.
    It is not difficult to see in this group the same type of fervor that has marked other groups who separated from the main body of Israel and moved or fled to a distant area from the main community in Jerusalem. A fact that Hugh Nibley has used to show the likelihood of Lehi’s separation and his fleeing into the wilderness to establish a very distant Land of Promise of his own.
    As for the Qumran Scrolls, it is also understood today that those Scrolls were not hidden in haste anticipating some emergency, but were “deliberately laid away, at a time when the authors knew that their society was on the verge of extinction, carefully buried in ‘a solemn communal interment’ to come forth in a later dispensation.” It was Nibley who had suggested this in his manual and mentioned a writing known as the “Assumption of Moses” as evidence, and among the Scrolls a fragment of this very writing was found (Matthew Black, The Scrolls and Christian Origins, Scribner, New York, 1961, pp11—12).
    It is now generally accepted, moreover, that the organization and ordinances of the Church in the Wilderness not only resemble those of the later Christian Church very closely, but that there is a definite connection between them.

Left: One of the caves of Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found; Right: Cave #4, where 90% of the scrolls were found 

Scholars today understand that Qumran represented a movement by refugees that mirrored such ancient movements dating back to the time of Lehi. In fact, Lehi’s behavior to take his family into the wilderness is nothing more than following the path that had been well established by the tradition of the time (John M. Allegro, The Treasure of the Copper Scroll, Doubleday, Garden City, 1960, p62).
In the same year in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, an equally valuable find was made in Egypt—that of the early Christian library of Nag Hammadi—codices that had lain buried in a large jar and forgotten under a cliff of the Jabal al-Tarif in rural Egypt until two Bedouin shepherds found them in 1945, close to the upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi. This library was a collection of thirteen ancient books (called "codices") containing over fifty texts, and was discovered in upper Egypt in 1945. This immensely important discovery includes a large number of primary "Gnostic Gospels," that is, texts once thought to have been entirely destroyed during the early Christian struggle to define "orthodoxy, including scriptures such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Truth. The discovery and translation of the Nag Hammadi library, initially completed in the 1970's, has provided impetus to a major re-evaluation of early sectarian Christian history and the nature of Gnosticism, i.e., the prominent movement of the 2nd-century Christian Church, partly of pre-Christian origin.
    The publication of the Hammadi library (also known as the Chenoboskion Manuscripts, referring to the early center of Christianity in the Thebaid, Roman Egypt (see above map), a site frequented by Desert Fathers [and mothers]—hermits, ascetics, and monks who lived in the Scetes desert and monasteries of Egypt—from the 3rd century) translations were originally slow, and the first texts became available only since the appearance of Nibley’s manual. What became readily understandable was the teachings of the Lord to his disciples after the resurrection.
    While Nibley’s manual paid little attention to 3rd and 4th Nephi, these two books in view of the discoveries, should now perhaps be considered some of the most significant parts of the scriptural record, by comparison and in alignment with the Nag Hammadi discoveries. In fact, Nibley considered the “patternism” of these scholars’ works on the library translations fully supportive of his own patterns of the Near Eastern mindset. Patternism is a method of comparing the teachings of the religions of the Ancient Near East whereby the similarities between these religions are assumed to constitute an overarching pattern—thus showing that through these patterns the religions of the ancient near east are related.
    As Nibley stated: “A year after the manual appeared, those Cambridge scholars who first brought “patternism” to light issued an important volume summarizing the work of the past two decades and bringing their conclusions up to date” which literally supports Nibley’s stand on the subject.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Strength of the Book of Mormon – Part I

In An Approach to the Book of Mormon Melchizedek Priesthood manual (revised in 1964), Hugh Nibley stated: “These lessons are dedicated to the proposition that no one can know too much about the Book of Mormon” (“Introduction to an Unknown Book”). As vital and timely as these lessons were in that era, it might be said today that the “basic theme of the wise commentaries of Mormon and Moroni, the problem of survival, has suddenly become an issue of the day.” Certainly, the more we understand in the scriptural record, the more clearly we see the events that unfold around us currently.
Throughout, the Book of Mormon speaks zealously of pending disasters, though not the final destruction of the earth, but about the many man-caused destructions of both the Jaredites and Nephites, both of which suggest a close tie-in to today’s world events. In the nineteenth century, most people laughed at such dire consequences of mankind, but nobody is laughing as such depictions today.
    Take the "end of the world" psychology of the Jaredites in their last desperate years--what some call their “fallout-shelter psychology”: “Wherefore every man did cleave unto that which was his own, with his hands, and would not borrow neither would he lend; and every man kept the hilt of his sword in his right hand, in the defense of his property and his own life and of his wives and children” (Ether 14:2). It was a terrifying image in the 1830s and later, and no one at the time would have considered we would come to understand its meaning as we do today.  After all, no other work states in such an open, honest and direct manner about the very fundamental issues of our day that is caused by the misuse of power and the attempt to acquire it.
Not until the bombing and destruction of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by atomic weapons in August of 1945, the proliferation of nuclear weapons during the ensuring Cold War of the 20th Century, and the crazed appeal of fallout shelters that followed, has such mentality been so widespread. One would have had to go long and far during the widening spread of the Book of Mormon to find another work even remotely suggestive of a comparable passionate commentary on such an irreversible point of no return. Such vices of national destruction that overtook the Nephites  actually are threatening our own age with the same fate.
    Such vices as the passion and struggle for wealth, power and success which, we are now being warned, have become something like a national obsession with a people who are displaying the twin Nephite weaknesses of attributing their own success to their own superiority—as Korihor preached to the Nephites who ridiculed prophecy, calling it “foolish traditions,” and “the effect of a frenzied mind because of the traditions of their fathers“ and that there “could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime” (Alma 30:16-17). He also told the Nephites that “their setbacks and defeats to the evil machinations of other people” were due simply to a people “who had a different way of thinking.” After all, the Lamanites were wicked.
    It was Dr. Karl Jaspers, the German-Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher, who had a strong influence on modern theology, psychiatry, and philosophy, who wrote influentially about the period surrounding 600 B.C., calling it Achsenzeit, “the Axial Period,” which was that “period when, roughly at the same time around most of the inhabited world, the great intellectual, philosophical, and religious systems that came to shape subsequent human society and culture emerged.”
    Jaspers also proclaimed: “In this age were born the fundamental categories within which we still think today, and the beginnings of the world religions, by which human beings still live, were created. The step into universality was taken in every sense” (Karl Jaspers, The Origin and Goal of History, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1953).
    As Cyrus Herzl Gordon, scholar of Near Eastern cultures and ancient languages, a fellow of American Schools of Oriental Research, and leading expert on ancient languages, pointed out (regarding this age surrounding Lehi): “was the most perfectly calculated moment and the Eastern Mediterranean the most suitable point of departure for the launching of a new offshoot civilization in far places. It was that same age also which saw, as we have since discovered, the definitive split between those “Sophic” and “Mantic” ways of thinking,” that is changing from oral to written tradition.
    As Hugh Nibley adds of these two ways of thinking, they are “so vividly set forth in the Book of Mormon accounts of the vast controversies stirred up by such ambitious intellectuals as Nehor and Zoram. The Book of Mormon even tells us how these conflicting schools of thought were transplanted from their Near Eastern home as part of Lehi’s family baggage and a source of perpetual trouble in his afflicted household.”
    Nibley also added, “Even if one does not choose to go with Professor Gordon all the way, few will dispute the common elements of Near Eastern civilization which made Lehi “a representative man” of 600 B.C.”
    In fact, it might be added that “in this age were born the fundamental categories within which we still think today, and the beginnings of the world religions, by which human beings still live, were created. The step into universality was taken in every sense.”
    It was Nibley who first used the phrase “churches of anticipation” with regards to Alma and other back in the 1950s. This is seen and understood through Alma’s preaching with a strong sense of anticipation. He is always telling his audience to look forward to Christ (Alma 4:14; 5:15; 7:6; 13:2,16; 25:15; 32:40-41). Obviously, Alma had a strong sense of anticipation regarding the gospel he taught.
    As Bruce Webster wrote: "there was, of course, a curious religious transition that occurred among the Nephites about a century before the birth of Christ. Up until then, the Nephites appear to have been following the law of Moses, in spite of a clear and unprecedented Christology introduced by Lehi, Nephi and Jacob in the 5th century B.C. and re-emphasized by King Benjamin around 124 B.C. just before turning leadership over to his son Mosiah. And even though Nephi clearly indicated the need for baptism in following the Savior’s (future) example, there is no record of baptism being practiced for roughly half a millennium afterwards. Instead, the Nephite civilization during that time appears to be a continual kingship with prophets calling the people to repentance. Yet, when Nephi was still alive, he stated “he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God” (2 Nephi 9:23).
    Thus, we might conclude that baptism was had among the Nephites, though no mention of it is given before Alma baptized in the waters of Sidon (Alma 4:4). Certainly the Nephites knew that baptism was a requirement, for they had Nephi’s words and his condemnation of those who failed to be baptized when he added, “And if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has spoken it” (2 Nephi 9:24). On the other hand, perhaps as a result of Zeniff who took numerous Nephites back to the city of Nephi from Zarahemla, and not feeling he had the power to baptize, or perhaps because of king Noah removing the legitimate priests and replacing them with his evil followers, the right and authority to baptize was lost among the Nephites, or at least those in the city of Nephi, for we learn in Mosiah that “Limhi and many of his people were desirous to be baptized; but there was none in the land that had authority from God” (Mosiah 21:33), and even Ammon, who came from Zarahemla, “declined to do so considering himself an unworthy servant.”
(See the next post, “The Strength of the Book of Mormon – Part II, for more information regarding the accuracy of the scriptural record and its direct ties to its Hebrew origins)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Understanding Lehi’s Promise – Part II

Continuing with the promise the Lord made to Lehi that makes up the first chapter of 2 Nephi, regarding the Land of Promise being promised to Lehi and his descendants as long as they lived righteously. In the previous post, we covered the first nine verses, in which we found that the Land of Promise would be “kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever” (2 Nephi 1:9).
For those who remained valiant in their righteousness, Lehi stands at the head of a vast people who will inherit the Land of Promise given to them through Lehi, in the promise he outlines in the first chapter of Second Nephi. Certainly the Land of Promise was given to and will be inherited by Lehi and Sariah, Nephi and his righteous family, Sam and his righteous family, and Zoram and his righteous family. It was also inherited by Jacob, Joseph, Nephi’s sisters, Enos, Benjamin and Mosiah, as well as the righteous judges and prophets who guided the Nephites, such as Alma, Abinadi, Capt. Moroni, Samuel the Lamanite, and the sons of Mosiah. There were also the numerous righteous individuals who lived upon the land, including those tens of thousands or more who lived during the 200Years of the Golden Period following the Savior’s advent, including the disciples. There were also the Lamanite stripling warriors, the Anti-Antis, the converted king and Lamanites, and, of course, Mormon and his son, Moroni.
    Just because in the latter days the living Nephites had lost their day of grace (Mormon 2:15), and subsequently their battles and the war to the Lamanites, and those earlier Nephites who rejected Christ of whom Mormon said, “it would be better for them if they had not been born” (3 Nephi 28:35), and most likely those defectors of whom Mormon wrote, will not receive their inheritance in the Land of Promise, does not mean that the promise was withdrawn from the millions of righteous Nephites who lived upon the land during their thousand years there.
    The promise made by the Lord to Lehi was far reaching, including not only all his descendants who remained righteous, but Zoram’s posterity, Mulek’s posterity, and the other Jewish posterities that came with him that joined the Nephites and remained righteous.
    Indeed, it was a Land of Promise to them, and a promise from the Lord that cannot be broken, which included countless individuals who earned their part of the land as an inheritance. Obviously, for those who hold to the iron rod and live out their lives in righteousness, they will inherit the Land of Promise given to Lehi and those Gentiles who came here (1 Nephi 13:3) and who inherited the land (1 Nephi 13:13) and remained righteous from Columbus on down (1 Nephi 13:16-19, 20), including those living today and have yet to arrive on this land. They all share in that promise providing they live out their lives in such a manner as to obtain that promise for themselves (1 Nephi 13:30, 37).
    These were those to whom the promise the Lord gave to Nephi was forever binding, providing they lived righteous and served the Lord. As Lehi said of those who did not: “But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord—having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise—behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them” (2 Nephi 1:10).
    Lehi went on to prophesy: “Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten” (2 Nephi 1:11).
Beginning with Spain, the Lord brought Gentiles to the Land of Promise who took away the rights to the lands from the indigenous people there. Then came the English and French (and other European nations) and battles were fought, who later inherited the land—particularly the English. Thus, Lehi’s immediate posterity will inherit the land as well as the Gentiles who the Lord would send; however, those of Lehi’s posterity who do not live righteous, they will lose that inheritance, and they will be scattered and driven upon the land. An obvious occurrence when the Spanish arrived in Mexico, Central and South America. The cruelty of the Spanish was duplicated nowhere else in history and even today, especially in Andean South America, Lehi’s descendants have been driven into the back country and have held no voice in their land for a more than 500 years.
Lehi also prophesied: “Yea, as one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodsheds, and great visitations among them; wherefore, my sons, I would that ye would remember; yea, I would that ye would hearken unto my words” (2 Nephi 1:12).
    Since the fall of the Nephite nation in 385 A.D., there has been continual war among Lehi’s descendants, particularly in Andean South America where peaceful solutions did not surface for about 1500 years (385 to 1885 A.D.)
    In the next six verses, Lehi lamants for his family, specifically for Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael (who were married to his daughters), and their descendants (his grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc.), that they would lose their inheritance through their rebellious attitudes and natures, that “God should come out in the fulness of his wrath upon you, that ye be cut off and destroyed forever” (2 Nephi 1:17).
    It is interesting that in his final moments speaking to his sons, of which there were his own six sons, plus the sons of Ishmael, and Zoram whom he addressed, that he spent some time setting the record straight for Laman to fully understand that it was Nephi who the Lord had set up as the rightful heir to all that Lehi owned and possessed (2 Nephi 1:24-29), not in this case, Laman or Lemuel, the oldest and older brothers (such as under the law of primogeniture). It is also interesting, that more than 500 years later, after generations of Laman and Lemuel’s descendants continuing to spread the lie that Nephi had stolen the birthright from Laman, it was this issue that the Lamanites held against the Nephites, for their ancestors having stolen the right to the land, the right to the government, the right to the wealth, from Laman (Alma 20;17; 54:17; also Mosiah 10:15-16).
    As Lehi concluded: “Wherefore, if ye shall keep the commandments of the Lord, the Lord hath consecrated this land for the security of thy seed with the seed of my son” (2 Nephi 1:34)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Understanding Lehi’s Promise – Part I

There has been much written about the promise of the Lord given to Lehi, and much of this by theorists who are trying to make a point not found in the scriptural record—and that is Lehi and his people were not alone in the Land of Promise despite everything in the entire scriptural record suggesting the contrary. Beginning with M. Wells Jakeman, who founded the Department of Archaeology at Brigham Young University in 1946, and often referred to as the “father of Book of Mormon Archaeology” by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, it has been believed that there were numerous other people besides the Jaredites, Mulekites and Lamanites in the Land of Promise before, during and after the Nephites.
Like all Mesoamericanists, Jakeman saw no problem with his map of the Land of Promise being nearly 90º skewed from the descriptions Mormon left us in the Book of Mormon. The location of Izapa, Mexico, is where the stone was found, and it is said to have been inhabited since 1400 B.C. and became a major settlement 300 to 50 B.C., which was the time frame of the Stela 5

It was Jakeman who developed the idea of “Lehi’s Vision of the Tree of Life,” from a carving on a stone called Stela 5 found at Izapa, near Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala, and placed a development stage not far from where Lehi is claimed by Mesoamericanists to have landed, as early as 1400 B.C.
    The reason for the insertion of all these different peoples and cultures by Mesoamerican theorists is that Mesoamerica is accepted by other ancient writings such as the Popol Vuh (1554 A.D.) by an unknown author, and Ixtlilxochitl (1600 A.D.), a direct descendant of Ixtlilxochitl I and II who had been tlatoque (rulers) of Cuitlahuac, the penultimate Aztec ruler of Tenachtitlan, to have had cultures dating back before the Nephites.
    Besides Jakeman, John L. Sorenson was also part of the University Archaeological Society, the forerunner of the Ancient America Foundation, where Jakeman, Sorenson, Ross T. Christensen, and others, were part of the cadre at B.Y.U. archaeology that centered on Mesoamerica and insisted that though the scriptural record is silent about the issue, claims there were other people in the Land of Promise.
    As Sorenson was fond of saying when he introduced something that was not in the scriptural record nor part of LDS thinking on the subject—such as (p146) “The Lamanties in the original immigrant group became dominant over a native population of folk already scattered on the land when Lehi arrived”—and adding, “Latter-day Saints are not used to the idea that other people than Lehi’s immediate descendants were on the Book of Mormon scene,” and suggesting, “Abundant evidence from archaeological and linguistic studies assures us that such people were indeed present.”  He also states: “Many Latter-day Saints will have to change their thinking markedly to adjust to [this].”
    In addition, it was Hugh Nibley, speaking of other people in the Land of Promise, and stating that Jaredite survivors intermingled with Mulekites, Nephites and Lamanites. As he wrote: “Many Latter-day Saints had oversimplified how complete the ‘destruction’ of the Jaredites was” (Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaraedites, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, 1952, pp238-247).
    So given all that, and many similar comments that claim there were others in the land, we need to look at the actual scriptural record and see what Lehi tells us regarding anyone else in the Land of Promise, either before, during or after he arrived to see if we are oversimplifying and misunderstanding and need to get used to other concepts.
    Picking up the record with Nephi’s second book, we find that Nephi had taught his brothers, then ended and Lehi began teaching them. Verse 3 begins with “And he also spake unto them concerning the land of promise, which they had obtained—how merciful the Lord had been in warning us that we should flee out of the land of Jerusalem” (2 Nephi 1:3).
    After reminding them of the fate of those at Jerusalem, he states: “notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed” (2 Nephi 1:4-5).
    Lehi reminds his wayward sons and the sons of Ishmael and their families, both wives and children, that the Land of Promise was for all of them—Lehi’s children and descendants. At this point, he inserts a parenthetical future-tense-comment that others would come to the Land of Promise from other countries by the hand of the Lord.
    Far too many theorists want to point to this and claim other people were both in the land and coming to the Land of Promise, but that is not what is said here. In fact, we have an explanation from Nephi earlier describing this later event, i.e., others being led to the Land of Promise in Nephi’s visions, whose vision was the same as Lehi’s had been (1 Nephi 11:1, 7-8). He then goes on to describe the “coming from other countries” when he describes seeing in the vision “a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land (1 Nephi 13:12)” and he saw “many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise” (1 Nephi 13:14).
These were the Gentiles, of course, that came out of Europe, first with Columbus, then the Spaniards, then the English, etc. Speaking of these, Nephi says: “And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them” (1 Nephi 13:16) and “were driven out of the hands of all other nations” (1 Nephi 13:19).
    These Gentiles that the Lord brought to the Land of Promise were those who were to inherit the land, a far future event from when Lehi is speaking to his children, and telling them of this land that is theirs if they live righteously. He goes on to say, “Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord” (2 Nephi 1:5, emphasis added—note its future tense).
    When the Lord makes a covenant, it is always in effect with him as long as the recipient(s) remain worthy to receive it. The Lord made this covenant that the Land of Promise would always be for Lehi “and his children forever,” and also the Lord, knowing Lehi’s seed would not remain valiant to this promise, promised the land to the Gentiles that would later replace them.
    So we have a double promise here—to Lehi’s seed that remained valiant, and there were many down through the nearly 1000 years of their existence in the land, and especially those who lived during the 200 years of the Nephite Golden Age following the Savior’s crucifixion and appearance.
    But note there is no mention of anyone besides these two groups inheriting the land! At the time of Lehi, he and his family were all that were there. Much later, of course, after the Nephites were gone and the Gentiles came to take claim of their inheritance, the second part of this land promise took effect—and we are in that stage of the promise at this very moment.
    Lehi then goes on to make it crystal clear that this land was to be for his children until the Gentiles came to take over, and, as he states in the future tense: “that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord” (2 Nephi 1:6), which would come in due time with the Gentiles.
    Therefore, as Lehi states, “this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever” (2 Nephi 1:7).
    Again, this is a “forever” blessing and promise. And now, for those who want to bring people there during the time of the Nephites, Lehi goes on to make it quite clear that this Land of Promise was to be protected from other groups at all times. “And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:8, emphasis added).
    Lehi then goes on to clinch the discussion and make it quite understandable that this Land of Promise was, indeed, choice above all other lands—specifically to those who would reap the blessings of it, i.e., Lehi’s descendants, and those of the Gentiles the Lord later brought. He says, “Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land” (2 Nephi 1:9).
    Again, those being referred to are those two groups: 1) Lehi’s group (which would later include the Mulekites), and 2) the Gentiles he would lead to the land following Columbus and more specifically, the English (or Europeans) who came to settle and inherit the land.
    To these the Lord has promised the land. No one else!
    By “English,” or Europeans, is meant the same connections as those who joined the Nephites—for it was to the Nephites anciently that the land was promised, so the Muleites became Nephites, and it was also in current times that the land was promised to those who settled here and joined together to form one basic people—not one in nationality, but one in purpose!
(See the next post, “Understanding Lehi’s Promise – Part II,” in which we see that no other people could have been in the Land of Promise prior to Lehi’s landing (other than the Jaredites), and certainly no one there at the time of his landing (the Jaredites had been annihilated), and none came after except those the Lord brought here as shown in Nephi’s vision)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Mississippi River – The Head of a River

Since there is so much effort by theorists to use the River Sidon as a jumping off point in defining and supporting their pre-detrmined land of promise locations, a lot of misinformation has resulted. Especially in theorists attempting to claim the head of a river, or its headwaters, means something other than it does. 
   The simple fact is, the word “head” or “headwaters” has one specific meaning and none other. It is the beginning or source of a river, typically up in the mountains. The head of a river in 1828 Webster’s is defined as “To originate; to spring; to have its source, as a river. Properly, the spring or fountain from which a stream of water proceeds, or any collection of water within the earth or upon its surface, in which a stream originates. This is called also the head of the stream” (emphasis added).
The River Source, at the beginning of a river. It may have additional tributaries from that point downstream, but every river has one source, called the “head” or “headwaters,” from which it flows downhill to its “mouth”

It is also interesting how many people have such an incorrect view of the Sidon River. As an example, those who champion the heartland, as some of our readers proclaim, erroneously want to use the Mississippi River as the Sidon River, however, the problem is that the Mississippi River, which runs for 2552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico from its source in northwest Minnesota, runs from the north to the south and actually has no descriptive part that matches the criteria of the Sidon River as Mormon describes it in the scriptural record.
    One of the important facts is that the head or headwaters of the Mississippi River is about 1000 miles north of the area of Iowa and Illinois considered by some to be in the heartland of the United States Land of Promise.
    However, before one starts to consider the Sidon River as being the Mississippi, we need to consider that the Sidon River has four specific directions from Zarahemla that cannot be overlooked and do not agree with the Mississippi:
1. The head or headwaters (beginning source) of the River Sidon was to the south of Zarahemla. According to Mormon’s description, the Sidon River began in the southern wilderness—that narrow strip of wilderness that separated the Land of Nephi from the Land of Zarahemla and ran from the Sea East to the Sea West (Alma 22:27), and ran north, through the Land of Zarahemla or along its borders with the Valley of Gideon (Alma 6:7).
2. The Valley of Gideon was to the east of the Land of Zarahemla, as seen in “he departed from them yea from the church which was in the city of Zarahemla and went over upon the east of the river Sidon into the valley of Gideon there having been a city built which was called the city of Gideon which was in the valley that was called Gideon” (Alma 6:7).
3. Manti was south of Gideon, as seen in “And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward away to the land of Manti" (Alma 17:1).
4. The headwaters of the Sidon River was in the Land of Manti in the narrow strip of wilderness to the south of Zarahemla, where the river ran “through the borders of Manti by the head of the river Sidon” (Alma 22:27). Also, “and they took their journey round about in the wilderness away by the head of the river Sidon that they might come into the land of Manti and take possession of the land” (Alma 43:22).
The source or headwaters of the Mississippi River is in Itasca state Park, Minnesota: Top: Lake Itasca in the background, the mouth of the Mississippi River in the foreground as it moves toward the lower right; Bottom: The Mississippi River one mile downstream from Lake Itasca in Minnesota

Thus, the Sidon River began (had its headwaters) in the south wilderness, south of the Land of Zarahemla, then flowed northward through the Land of Zarahemla, evidently between the Land of Zarahemla and the Valley of Gideon, toward the sea.
    In the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, we find “Head,” a verb intransitive meaning “To originate; to spring; to have its source, as a river.” This is no different from dictionary definitions today: “Head of a River: The source or headwaters of a river or stream is the furthest place in that river or stream from its estuary or confluence with another river, as measured along the course of the river.”
    We can also suggest that not only do we have a dictionary definition of head or headwaters, but it states clearly in the scriptural record that “head” of a river, means its beginning, as stated in Lehi’s dream: “And as I cast my eyes round about that perhaps I might discover my family also I beheld a river of water and it ran along and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit. And I looked to behold from whence it came and I saw the head thereof a little way off and at the head thereof I beheld your mother Sariah and Sam and Nephi and they stood as if they knew not whither they should go” (1 Nephi 8:13-14).
    Thus, when it says, “and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon” (Alma 22:27, emphasis added), it is referring to its source or beginning. Obviously, then the "head" of a river in the Book of Mormon meant its source, not its mouth. That is why the armies would travel to the head so they could cross on dry land to get from one side of the river to the other and into the Land of Manti (Alma 43:22).
    In addition, we need only look at a resolution topo map of the United States, which should end speculation and irresponsible comments since it shows the land fall of how it actually is and not what someone claims. In the map below, we see a central depression area down the Mississippi Valley from Lake Michigan to the Gulf of Mexio, a continual fall in elevation from 577’ at Lake Michigan to sea level at the Gulf of Mexico.
Top: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology Resolution Topo Map of U.S., showing the Heartland Depression of the Mississippi Waterway (between the white arrows) from Lake Michigan to the Gulf of Mexico. The only hills or low mountains are those on either side (yellow arrows)—The closest true mountains are those in the Rocky Mountains beginning in Colorado to the West—to the east (far right yellow arrow) are the Appalachians which barely reach 6000 feet; Bottom: Mount Mitchell at 6683 feet in North Carolina, is the highest point in the United States east of the Mississippi—actually east of the Rocky Mountains—not really a mountain, but a dome-topped hill

According to the Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Process, Coastal Sediments Proceedings Sixth International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science, Ports, Harbors and Rivers, Institute of ASCE, 2007, “Only barges can access the Illinois Waterway system providing access to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. Larger and deeper bottomed vessels can only operate within the Great Lakes themselves and cannot access the various rivers that lead into the lakes.”
The Mississippi Draining Area, covering all or part of 22 states

This entire Mississippi Draining Area is basically a downhill drain or run, from north to south, and all rivers, streams, etc., in the area run in that direction for the majority of their length. Yet, in the scriptural record, the area to the south of Zarahemla, including most of the Land of Nephi, is at an elevated level well above that of Zarahemla, which would be to the Heartland people in the Keokuk, Iowa, to the Nauvoo, Illinois, area toward the top of the central light yellow area on the above map. Again, this is contrary to the scriptural record, and shows that the Mississippi River could not possibly be the Nephite Sidon River.
    With all the technology we have today, with NASA satellite images, maps, etc., with an understanding of reading clay and mud deposits along riverbeds, etc., there is no way people can any longer make up something that sounds good to them or they think supports their views—we live in the information age and information on everything is available to almost anyone—any claim, view, or belief can be researched and determined on its merits.
    Therefore, the Heartland Theory, the Mississippi River as the Sidon River, simply cannot be justified when one looks at the truth of the matter and not someone’s emotional pre-determined views. They can no longer say, “The river was not wide two thousand years ago,” or “Nobody knows how the Mississippi river looked 2000 years ago,” because we do know exactly how it was configured, how deep it was, where it flowed, etc.
    Consequently, it’s time that theorists stopped relying on their beliefs and personal views, and begin understanding facts surrounding their models and recognize that they do not match the scriptural record and that record cannot be altered by them to match their views.