Saturday, June 18, 2016

Through the Great Lakes Lens – Part II

It is interesting that the author of the website Book of Mormon Wars not only named his website about “Wars” between Book of Mormon theorists, spends almost all his time writing critical articles about the Mesoamerican model, yet begins his latest web article just sent to me by one of our readers, with the following: 
Most people just want to live peaceful lives. They want to do their thing without a lot of conflict. They tend to avoid arguments. A well-known phrase attributed to Joseph Smith but more likely written by W.W. Phelps is this: "By proving contrarieties truth frequently appears.” In the next sentence, Phelps wrote an insightful application: "So with the religion of Jesus, its beauties and glories often shine, when its revilers are endeavoring to expose what they may denominate, its deformities." In this sense, discussion, debate, analysis, and even argument can be productive, so long as the discourse is friendly, collaborative, cooperative, etc. Let's all keep that in mind when we discuss Book of Mormon topics (or any topic).”
    I find that such a remarkable introduction to a website entitled Book of Mormon Wars, in which the author, a Great Lakes theorists, spends his time ridiculing Mesoamerican theorists. And then uses a phrase from the Times and Seasons out of context to justify his approach.
    Let’s face it, discourse between people of opposite views (meaning of contrarieties), is simply not likely to be “friendly, collaborative, or cooperative,” even if it starts out that way, over any length of a discussion where opposite views are  held by strong-minded people who are unwilling to budge from their view, even long enough to hear an opposing view. In addition, that was not the meaning of the phrase as used by Phelps in the article quoted.
As used, Phelps (left) wrote; “By proving contrarieties truth frequently appears. So with the religion of Jesus, its beauties and glories often shine, when its revilers are endeavoring to expose what they may denominate, its deformities.” This statement means: “That is, when critics attempt to prove their contrary (opposing) views, which they think are truths, in regard to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the truth of Jesus Christ “frequently appears,” i.e., is shown in opposition to the opposing, critical views. Phelps then goes on to quote some opposing views that have been raised by critics of the Church, including the Boston Globe, then concludes with a support of Joseph Smith “did he not have visions and revelations? who but a man divinely inspired, could at a time when the whole work was deluged with vain and contradictory teachings, have conceived this one sublime faith and worship?” (Times and Seasons, “Truth Will Prevail,” Vol III No 21, Nauvoo, Sept 1, 1842).
    This is hardly the role and approach taken by the Book of Mormon website.
    Once again, “contrariety,” means “contrary opposition,” or “the quality of state of being contrary.” Contrary with what? The website is contrary to Mesoamerica. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but when taking that approach, it is also not likely everyone is going to get along regarding that view, or the contradictory view. “Contrariety” is the “state of being contrary.” In this sense, “contrary” means “incompatible, irreconcilable” or “perversely inclined to disagree or to do the opposite of what is expected or desired.”
    It is like the author saying, “Most people just want to live peaceful lives. They want to do their thing without a lot of conflict. They tend to avoid arguments,” then walking up to a person and slapping them hard in the face and then saying, “Come on, let’s get along.”
    It is one thing to disagree with someone who flagrantly disregards the scriptural record when writing about the geography of the Book of Mormon lands when Mormon spent so much time correctly describing them to us. It is something else entirely, to promote such a stance when your own views are just as skewed from the facts and scriptural record as theirs.
    Take, as an example, one of the stances taken on the Book of Mormon Wars website and views: “Also, cement was only used in the Land Northward and so far, no modeler has ever shown this distinguishment as to why cement was not used in the Land Southward in their proposed BoM lands. Only in western New York is this distinguished.
    This statement is wrong on several points: 1) We have covered this in several posts over the years, using the scriptural record as the answer, i.e., they had no lumber in the Land of Desolation and dwelled in tents and houses of cement, the Nephites “they did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up upon the face of the land that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities, and their temples, and their synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings” (Helaman 3:9) and also “Timber was exceedingly scarce in the land northward they did send forth much by the way of shipping” (Helaman 3:10); 2) There was no need to use cement in the land southward since the land southward had trees; 3) We do not know if cement was worked in the land southward in one way or another since it is not mentioned until Helaman regarding the land northward; there could have been experts in the working of cement in the land southward who went into the land northward who became the ones mentioned working with cement—“nevertheless the people who went forth became exceedingly expert in the working of cement; therefore they did build houses of cement, in the which they did dwell” (Helaman 3:7).
    Great Lakes people claim that the Nephites built out of wattle and daub, and claiming anything glutinous was considered cement. However, we are looking at two different things:
Wattle and Daub: “Wattle and daub is a composite  building material used for making walls, in which a woven lattice of wooden strips called wattle is daubed with a stick material usually made of some combination of wet soil, clay, sand, animal dung and straw. Daub is usually created from a mixture of certain ingredients from three categories: 1) binders, 2) aggregates and 3) reinforcement. Binders hold the mix together and can include clay, lime, chalk dust and limestone dust. Aggregates give the mix its bulk and dimensional stability through materials such as earth, sand, crushed chalk and crushed stone.
Reinforcement is provided by straw, hair, hay or other fibrous materials, and helps to hold the mix together as well as to control shrinkage and provide flexibility. The daub may be mixed by hand, or by treading – either by humans or livestock. It is then applied to the wattle and allowed to dry, and often then whitewashed to increase its resistance to rain. As a reference, the author refers to Ezekiel 13:10-15; 22L28), but what is untempered daub?
    Untempered Daub (called untempered mortar in Ezekiel): Used in Ezekiel 13:10-15; 22:28) more correctly referred to as “Taphel,” תָּפֵל, meaning mortar made with clay instead of slaked lime that is then whitewashed as a cover, and typically applied to false prophets since the wall itself is weak and unstasble, but looks good with the whitewash. In Palestine and Syria (Palestinians, not Jews), the small, interior walls of huts are commonly built of small stones or mud bricks, and then smeared over with clay mortar. The surface is rubbed smooth and is attractive in appearance. This coating prolongs the life of the wall but requires yearly attention if the wall is to stand. Ezekiel uses the practice to typify the work of false prophets. They build up stories and make them plausible by an outward semblance to truth, while, in fact, they are flimsy, unreliable prophecies, resembling the walls described above, which can be broken down by a push or a heavy rain storm.
    This practice was used among the poor in the surrounding areas of Israel, but not in Israel itself, for the Jews built with stone, which evidently the website author is unaware, and not the poor substitutes used by the inferior builders of non-Jewish tribes surrounding Jerusalem  (this is also seen in the rest of Ezekiel where false prophets who claim to save people do nothing but present lies and meaningless words).
Buildings in ancient Israel and especially in Jerusalem were made of stone as anyone who has ever been to the Holy Land can easily testify
    Again, discussion between people of differing views has no value unless at least one has the truth, then such discussion will allow the truth to be exposed and the error to fall away.
(See the next post, “Through the Great Lakes Lens – Part III,” for more of the type of information the site claims is based on the scriptural record, which when checking does not)

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