Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Slanted Land of Promise Book Reviews – Part VII

Continuing with the last post on the FARMS review of Art Kocherhans’ book, “Lehi’s Isle of Promise,” showing the self-serving nature of such reviews and their tendency toward self-absorbed and self-advancing results. Earlier points and comments were discussed in the first six posts, more of Fleugel’s ill-advised comments are covered below beginning with the second of the last four points mentioned in the last post:
With its Mediterranean climate, white sandy beaches, pure air and tourist attractions, La Serena, Chile, and Valle del Elqui (Elqui Valley) with its fruit orchards and vegetable plantations, is the best climates along the entire coastal area of western South America
2. Climate. The scriptural record tells us that the Nephites brought seeds from Jerusalem and planted them in the Land of Promise and they grew exceedingly and they were blessed in abundance (1 Nephi 8:1; 18:6, 24). In 600 B.C., seeds from one locale had to be planted in the same soils, climate and precipitation to grow at all, let alone exceedingly. Thus, we have to conclude that the Land of Promise where the Nephites first landed had to have a similar climate to that of Jerusalemfor Lehi's seeds to have grown at all. Consequently, the Jersualem climate is called a Mediterranean Climate, of which there are only five in the world outside of the Mediterranean, and only two of these are in the Western Hemisphere—one in Southern California, and the other in La Serena area of Chile at 30º South Latitude. “Sadly” Fleugel either doesn’t know that, or considers it unimportant—yet, many people in history suffered terribly when moving from one climate to another before agriculture advanced with “modern techniques,” including the Pilgrims landing in New England in 1620 who nearly starved the first year because their crops failed in a different clime.
3. Natural Resources. One can only wonder what exactly Fleugel had in mind when he included this point. The 30º South Latitude (Bay of Coquimbo and La Serena in Chile) have wondrous natural resources, especially in agriculture. In fact, most of the winter vegetables and fruit we eat in the western U.S. is grown there and shipped to us. The climate, soils, soil groups, temperature, precipitation and vegetation in this area are identical with Jerusalem. In addition, the Andean area there is full of such resources described in the scriptural record as copper, gold, silver, and a plethora of other ores more so than anywhere else south of the United States, and even more than the U.S. in many categories. 
The food supply of fish and ocean nutrients along the west coast of Andean South America are among the best in the world because of the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current that it is a fisherman’s heaven. Only one or two other places in the entire world are better, and few others even close to the natural resources this current provides. And the islands off the coast provide bird guano in greater abundance than almost anywhere else in the world, so much so that wars were fought over its possession.
4. Isle of the Sea. We have already talked about this in this series of posts.
Fleugel’s parting comment that Kocherhans “limited personal familiarity with the subject matter” is by far the most ridiculous comment made. It should be clear to anyone reading this series that it is Fleugel’s limited familiarity with the subject matter Kocherhans introduces that is sadly stated. Nor has Fleugel made any attempt to try and present Kocherhans’ work in at least a neutral light. It is sad that he has spent so much effort trying to show how inaccurate or worthless Kocherhans’ work is and how unscholarly and erroneous it is.
For those who might not have read every post in this series, please keep in mind that these articles are not about Kocherhans’ book or his works, but about the way anyone with a different view from Mesoamerica is almost villainously attacked by FARMS in their reviews. In fact, they seem to delight in stating in one of their clarifications that they are not biased toward Mesoamerica: “In an effort to remedy this regrettable situation, the Review provides a venue for genuinely competent critical assessments of the growing shelf of speculation on Book of Mormon geography. For example, in the first issue of the Review, Richard Hauck's effort to locate a geography for the Lehites in a portion of Mesoamerica received trenchant criticism in an important essay by John Clark entitled "A Key for Evaluating Nephite Geographies."

To save you the time of looking up the word trenchant criticism, let me state that it means “cutting, sharp, biting, severe, scathing, acerbic—bitter, acid, caustic, sour, barbed, harsh and sarcastic.” I think you get the idea of the type of review it was—and it was of a Mesoamerican site championed by Richard Hauck, but, despite the comment seeming to sound like it was the same Mesoamerica model Fleugel and FARMS promotes, it was completely different from that of Sorenson—thus drawing such fire! In fact, reviewer William Hamblin put it this way: “A related problem is Hauck's failure to come to grips with John Sorenson's An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon.  If Hauck wishes his theories to receive serious attention he must not only present his ideas, but show where Sorenson's geographical correlations are flawed and his own are superior.  This he never does.  He seems to simply present his opinions as if in an intellectual vacuum." (Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, vol 1, 1989, F.A.R.M.S., Provo, p 72).
That is FARMS idea of being equal and neutral—if  you are to be taken seriously, you have to deal with Sorenson’s claim of a Mesoamerican Land of Promise. That is FARMS approach to reviewing the works of others—to attack anyone that doesn’t agree with their thinking, and that degrading a different Mesoamerican site is a fair example of their neutrality. As the reviewer of Hauck’s book stated. In his evaluation of Hauck’s work, Clark: “demonstrates the necessity of drawing on all of the many direct and subtle geographical clues found in the Book of Mormon to construct what he calls an "internal map." Only when this has been carefully fashioned should one begin looking for a real-world location for the Lehites.” Personally, I think an internal map is a great idea—too bad Sorenson’s Mesoamerica internal map cannot possibly agree with scripture, since it has to follow and east-west pattern and not north-south as the scripture record indicates.
An internal map shows the general location along a directional line of the various lands and places mentioned in then scriptural record. There may be other places that could be included, but this serves the purpose of such a map—one that Mesoamericanists cannot duplicate without twisting the directions or aligning their map in opposition to the land model they use
The idea of a “carefully fashioned” internal map is critically important to follow the flow and direction of the scriptural record. The one shown here is taken directly from Mormon’s directional description as indicated in Alma 22:27-34 and elsewhere, which shows, as Mormon writes, a north-south directional setting.
It is interesting that, though FARMS suggests it is necessary, any internal map they use of their Mesoamerican model is going to be skewed since their land is about 90º off the compass points of north and south. Because the scriptural record clearly states a north-south orientation (see Alma 22:27-34), Sorenson spends considerable time in his book trying to cloud the issue of directions to support his inaccurate model location.
(See the next post, “Slanted Land of Promise Book Reviews – Part VIII,” for the final points of Fleugel’s comments, and more information on the FARMS review that is far from accurate, and quite self-serving, as well as their attempts to create an east-west directional model and claim it is north-south)

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