Sunday, August 17, 2014

Who Do We Listen To?

We have been writing in these posts for some time now about the importance of eliminating one’s own personal bias, eliminating one’s pre-deterrmined beliefs, eliminating one’s prejudices, and using the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon as the basis for views and opinions regarding the location of the Jaredite and Nephite Land of Promise. That is, if it isn’t in the scriptural record, it cannot be added, and if it is in the scriptural record, it cannot be eliminated, twisted, changed or explained away.
“And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness” (Moses 7:13)
    To this end, there is an interesting passage in which Enoch, who had been directed by the Lord to preach to the people and “went forth in the land, among the people, standing upon the hills and the high places, and cried with a loud voice,” spoke to the people and said, “The Lord which spake with me, the same is the God of heaven, and he is my God, and your God and ye are my brethren, and why counsel ye yourselves, and deny the God of heaven?” (Moses 6:43).
    Now Enoch, who had been given insight by the Lord to see “things which were not visible to the natural eye” (Moses 6:36), and “thenceforth came the saying abroad in the land: A seer hath the Lord raised up unto his people.” But when Enoch “testified against their works…all people were offended because of him” (Moses 6:37).
    It is interesting, Enoch experienced the same thing thousands of years ago that we experience today. The Lord tells us things in the scriptural record, and people are offended by it” and this offense takes on an interesting twist. Even brilliant scholars and men with letters, and BYU professors find the words of Mormon “offensive,” that is, they would rather listen to themselves and believe in their own ideas rather than listen to the Lord’s prophets—specifically Nephi, Mormon, Moroni and Ether, who have given us a very clear picture of the Land of Promise, its location, descriptions, geography and makeup. So much so, that locating this land upon which the Jaredites, Nephites, Mulekites and Lamanites spent a combined 2500 years and left behind a very noticeable history of their existence, is clouded and confused by their inner-debates and non-scriptural claims.
Enoch preached to the people for over two hundred years, eventually bringing many who, under Enoch’s inspired leadership, the faithful achieved an extraordinary unity of heard and mind
    The question Enoch asked of his people, is the same question we should be asking today of all those who want to alter, change, explain away or otherwise ignore Mormon’s words, “Why counsel ye yourself, and deny the God of heaven?” Or, stated differently, “Why counsel among yourselves and deny the written descriptions Mormon so clearly states?”
    It is almost a feeding frenzy in the wild attacks that occur among those professors, scholars and writers, when someone comes up with an idea different from their own about the location of the Land of Promise. They all jump on the same bandwagon, shooting down other ideas without a moment’s hesitation, looking for any twist possible to the scriptural record to show the idea to be in error, and not just in error, but in “serious error.”
    It is almost fascinating to see, as an example, how far John L. Sorenson went in his work, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, when he explained away the fact that when Mormon inserted eight (8) verses containing 568 words to give us insight of the geographical layout and directions of the different lands in the Land of Promise, and in so doing using the term “north” or “northward” eight (8) times, the term “south” or “southward” four (4) times, the term “east” seven (7) times, and the term “west” nine (9) times, that Mormon really didn’t mean those directions at all. And how silly of us to think he did.
    In fact, Sorenson took the first thirty-six pages of his book to try and convince us that Mormon really meant “west” for “north,” “westward” for “northward,” “east” for “south,” and “eastward” for “southward,” as well as “east” meaning “north” (as in his East Sea really being to the north), and “south” as being “west” (as in his West Sea which is really to the “south”), as is seen on his first introduction of his Mesoamerican Map (Map 5) on page 37. And this, mind you after showing four maps (Maps 1-4) of a northward-southward land of promise.
Sorenson’s map of his Land of Promise. Note the Land Northward is to the west, his Land Southward is to the east, his East Sea is to the north, and his West Sea is to the south. Yet, thousands have bought into his rationale that the Nephites did not use the same compass directions as we do, despite Nephi using them correctly in his writing, and that all the prophets of the Book of Mormon had the liahona (being interpreted is a compass)
    It seems appropriate again to raise Enoch’s question: “and why counsel ye yourselves, and deny the God of heaven?” That is, why discuss and take counsel among yourselves rather than listen to God’s prophets?
    Or take his 12 ½ pages (p 288-299) to explain away that the animals written about in the scriptural record are all wrong. One example is his explanation of a “cow,” that is, an animal translated as “cow” by Joseph Smith, who lived his entire early life on a farm and obviously would have known what such animals were. Despite this, Sorenson writes: “But isn’t it obvious that the “cow” of the Book of Mormon was our familiar bovine, straight out without all this hedging?” Of course, one would think so, but not Sorenson, who answered his own questions with: “No, it is not at all obvious.”
    First of all, what makes Sorenson think Joseph Smith did not know what a cow was or that he chose the wrong interpretation, under the Spirit, to translate? But without rhyme or reason, Sorenson goes on: “First, we are trying to find out what the Book of Mormon really means by the words we have in English translation; we are not trying to either simplify or to complicate the matter, but only to be correct.” So, the obvious question, is what makes Sorenson think Joseph Smith’s translation is not correct? After all, it was done, as we said, under the direction and guidance of the Spirit.
    So what does Sorenson think the “cow” might have been? He thinks they might have been semi-domesitcated small deer, which had been observed by the Spanish in the 16th century. So Joseph Smith, and the Spirit, didn’t know that the word Mormon used meant “deer,” not “cow”?
    It is also interesting that Sorenson in his footnote on this cites a “personal communication from a Gareth Lowe, citing Anales del Museo Nacional David J. Guman 5, nos. 17-18 (1954), in an article, he says, "by historian Jorge Larde which I have been unable to see directly.”
    There is a reference to Guzman’s, Anales del Museo Nacional 49:75-92, San Salvador, published in 1976, but nothing in 1954; and for Jorje Lardé y Larin (1920 to 2001), of the 19 works credited to him, none are so listed, and nothing published in 1954, and the ten prior to 1954, none suggest a subject matter to include domestication of deers or their being corralled as indicated, though it could have been included. He did write a book called “El Salvador. History of its towns and ciudades” published in 1957, and several works in the 1970s about El Salvador (floods and fires, eruptions and terremotos [earthquakes]).
    There is a note in Fuentes y Guzman’s Etymlogy of Maçagua as deriving from a Nahua term meaning "the deer that flees" (Tomo II, p. 78, 1933). Thompson noted the importance of the animal to the religion of the people in the region ('48, pp. 9, 14), which is confirmed by the number of times its name is given to towns. Maçagua appears four times on the 1548 tribute list for the province of San Salvador: numbers 36, 39, 43, and 51. (It also appears twice on the tribute list of Santiago de Guatemala). The three syllables appear again in number 42 of the San Salvador list in the name Atempamaçagua, and in number 43, Comaçagua
    It seems imprudent to use a citing of an article one has never seen and cannot be found in the many search engines of today, however, let’s set that aside and give benefit to the doubt. Deer in El Salvador are the “white tailed deer” shown below:
If you can say with a straight face that this white-tailed deer could be mistaken for a “cow” by men who lived agrarian and pastoral lives in the 16th century, then go ahead. However, I have been around a lot of cows, such as these below, and none fit this description in any way
All cows are classified into the species Bos Taurus, and into the subspecies Bos Taurus primigenius, and Bos Taurus indicus, and range all over the world
    Just to make this point clear, Ether writes: “And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms,” and Sorenson then suggests that these two unknown animals to Joseph Smith in 1830, that were so useful to man, more so than horses and donkeys, were the Sloth and Tapir (p 299), two of the most useless animals in the wild one might find.
Left: Sloth; Right: Tapir. Neither have much value to man. In fact, sloths are seldom seen in the wild, weigh up to 17 pounds, they are weak, cannot move around much, and spend most of their time sleeping. The Tapir, which is really indigenous to Brazil, South America, are three feet high at the shoulder, spend a lot of time under water where available, but do have value of meat and hides
    It seems Enoch had a good handle on people—“The Lord which spake with me, the same is the God of heaven, and he is my God, and your God and ye are my brethren, and why counsel ye yourselves, and deny the God of heaven?” (Moses 6:43).
    Maybe we should have less counsel among academicians, scholars and historians, and more reading and following the scriptural record.

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