Friday, June 17, 2016

Through the Great Lake Lens – Part I

We wrote earlier a series about seeing Mesoamerica through Mesoamerican Lens, so we thought we would included one about seeing Great Lakes through Great Lakes Lens. It is not that there is so much to say about these two Land of Promise models (Mesoamerica and Great Lakes), i.e., Great Lakes theorisits trying to convince people that the Nephite Land of Promise was in the Great Lakes area.
The problem is, like the Mesoamerica Lens, once someone sees the Book of Mormon through the Great Lakes Lens, they cannot unsee it! Or stated differently, though the Great Lakes ideas and theories do not stand up to the scriptural record, these theorists take the stance that modern-day prophets and church leaders, such as Oliver Cowdery, hold the key to the location of the Land of Promise.
    Obviously, Oliver believed that the Hill Cumorah in upstate western New York is the same hill as mentioned by Mormon and Moroni in the scriptural record, but since the Church has  made no stance on the subject, or even suggested that it was the same hill, we cannot just assume that Oliver’s ideas, or even Joseph Smith’s ideas about a location are either  Church sponsored, or factual. After all, Joseph never stated that the Book of Mormon took place anywhere other than in the Western Hemisphere. That he made comments about South America and Central America (Mesoameirca) as well as the northeastern U.S. does not translate into this is where the Nephites of the scriptural record lived and fought their battles; however when understanding that Joseph as well as numerous church leaders, past and present have for the most part spoken of the entire Western Hemisphere (both North and South America) as the Land of Promise, any comment made about anywhere would hold true. If the Nephites left the area of South America in Hagoth’s ships and went northward and settled in Mesoamerica, then his comments about Central America would hold true. If the Nephites and Lamanites traveled even further north into the United States area, as we have suggested here from the beginning, then Joseph’s comments about Zelph and Onandagus, as well as writing to his wife about there having been in the Plains of the Nephites is also true.
    When John L. Stephens wrote his book Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, which included Ferderick Catherwood’s numerous drawings of Mayan ruins, Joseph Smith said this was proof of the ancient Nephite civilization being in the Americas. He did not say that those were where the Book of Mormon scriptural record took place—many have combined those two atttudes, but Joseph Smith did not. He did, however, suggest that such showed Lehi must have landed to the south of there, and that some have attributed the comment “south of Darien” to him, though it seems unlikely that  Joseph Smith knew Panama by the term Darien at that time.
Do you see two faces or a vase? Do you see an Old Lady, a Young Woman, or a Bulldog?
   The point is, as there are with so many things, different ways to understand what one reads, sees, and hears. If you are looking at the Book of Mormon through Mesoamerican Lens, you see what is favorable to the Mesoamerican model. If, however, you are looking through Great Lakes Lens, you see what is favorable to the Great Lakes Model.
    Take Letter VII of Oliver Cowdery to William Wines Phelps, where Oliver obviously makes the connection between the hill Cumorah in New York and the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon. And frankly, it is totally understandable that he would do so. After all, it would seem obvious to him and to members and leaders of the early Church that such would naturally be the case. But that does not make it a fact, it only verifies that it was Oliver’s opinion. That Joseph Smith included Oliver’s letter in his history sounds like he verified Oliver’s statement; however, another, just as plausible rationale is available to us—Joseph was trying to finish his history at a time when he was being hunted, when he was in hiding, when his very life was in danger. In June 1844 Joseph Smith was jailed and killed—two years and nine months earlier Stephens finished his two-volume book set and a copy ended up in the hands of Joseph Smith. Between February and October 1842, roughly two years before Joseph’s death, several lengthy extracts from Stephen’s volumes were published in the Times and Seasons, while Joseph Smith was editor. While it can be claimed that Joseph Smith wrote or approved the publishing of the articles is very possible, but actually unknown and has to fall under the category of opinion, since there is no signature on the articles and no specific statement by Joseph in his private writings or in anyone’s journal that he wrote them.
    So if you look at this event through Mesoasmerican Lens, you feel this verifies that Joseph Smith thought the Nephite lands were in Mesoamerica. If you look at this through Great Lakes Lens, you see no proven connection.
    President George Q. Cannon wrote that: “There is a tendency, strongly manifested at the present time among some of the brethren, to study the geography of the Book of Mormon…but valuable as is the Book of Mormon both in doctrine and history, yet it is possible to put this sacred volume to uses for which it was never intended, uses which are detrimental rather than advantageous to the cause of truth, and consequently to the work of the Lord” (George Q. Cannon, “The Book of Mormon Geography,” The Juvenile Instructor, January 1, 1890, pp18–19).
    The point is, disagreement over opinions, even of those claimed to be stated by Joseph Smith, or those made by Church leaders of the time, unless supported by the Church and have scripture of that very fact behind them, can never be considered as facts, only as opinions.
    The point is, there is only one way to look at the information at hand and that is through scriptural record lens, i.e., does it match the Book of Mormon statements and descriptions set forth by Nephi and Jacob, and all the others whose work was abridged by Mormon and Moroni.
We don’t have a single Church doctrinal statement of fact that the two Cumorahs are the same or different. No amount of opinion will change that fact, and nowhere in the scriptural record can we verify there was one or two hills named Cumorah. In fact, we do not have any verification of the local that the Book of Mormon took place in the Great Lakes, and much to suggest it did not, including what we have suggested numerous times such as those scriptural descriptions that do not match the Great Lake location, such as not having:
• Mountains, whose height was great;
• 2 animals significant to man as the elephant and more so than the horse or ass, but unknown to the farmer Joseph Smith;
• 2 grains on the level of importance as Wheat and Barley that were unknown to the farmer Joseph Smith;
• An herb that cures killing fevers (malaria);
• 4 Seas, with the West Sea open to the ocean over which they sailed and landed;
• Winds and ocean currents that would push a sailing ship all the way to the Land of Promise to land along the West Sea southin the Land of Nephi;
• A climate matching that of Jerusalem where seeds from Jerusalem would have grown exceedingly and provided an abundant crop;
• A landing site where gold, silver and copper would have been found in abundance through walk-past observation;
• Ruins of all types of buildings, stone walls surrounding cities and the entire land; of temples, palaces, synagogues and homes;
• The Land of Promise as an island;
• Evidence of circumcision as part of the Law of Moses;
• A tower next to the temple;
• The ancient B.C. use of silks and fine-twined linen;
• Use of metallurgy dating to 2000 B.C.;
• Roads and highways that led from city to city, land to land, and place to place;
• Large forts and small forts (resorts);
• A Land Southward completely surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land;
• A sea that divides that land;
• All manner of ore throughout the Land of Promise;
• A defendable narrow pass that stretched for a day and a half travel;
• Somewhere worthwhile for Hagoth’s ships full of immigrants to go that was northward.
    Also, where Lehi landed from his ocean voyage that covered the distance from Arabia to the Land of Promise where they landed and where they immediately found a place to settle, pitch their tents, plant their seeds to match a Mediterranean Climate, a large forest, and gold, silver and copper, in the immediate vicinity.
None of these above areas are speculative, or opinions, since they are all spelled out in understandable detail within the scriptural record. Each must be looked at through the scriptural record lens—not the Mesoamerican lens, or the Great Lakes lens.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. When you and Ira finish pounding the last bit of stuffing out of the strawman you have been pummeling for the last month, you should read Neville's book and educate yourselves on what you are actually disagreeing with.

    Just a thought.

  3. Daniel, I don't need to read the book because it's all fiction. I've seen the maps of the NA model and they are easily disproved using the Book of Mormon. That is what Del has been doing for a long time. His work is correct. Try doing a little bit of research instead making such an ignorant comment. Ira