Monday, July 4, 2016

The battle Between Mesoamerica and the Great Lakes - Part I

A reader sent me this very extensive article written on the “Book of Mormon Wars” website.
    First of all, let me say not only have I seen this sight before and always cringed when reading the title, thinking that people consider a war going on between LDS members over the geography of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise. How sad that this is. It is one thing to have an opinion and be willing to express it, but it is quite another to be antagonistic and overly aggressive about it.
    Knowing where the events of the scriptural record took place can be helpful, just as knowing where the events of the Bible took place are helpful in better understanding those events. Yet, when the Bible first appeared, those locations were very much in question—today, they are far more understood, but still leave some doubts about certain facts.
The location of the Nephite Nation should never evoke out and out arguing and contention for that is neither the intent of the scriptural record nor the Lord’s way of achieving results. Neither should it be for one to shut their mind off to learning more about the meaning of the scriptural record but rather be involved in constant study, pondering, and prayerful evaluation.
    As has always been the stance of this blog and those involved in its writing, publishing and research, what the scriptures say is what matters. While some think the scriptural record is ambiguous, such as the author of that website article when he writes regarding the scriptural record: “particularly where they are vague (such as what the text means by "northward" or "narrow neck of land").”
    Neither these two areas, nor any others throughout the scriptural record, are vague nor do they have divergent or opposing meanings. While it is true that almost all scripture has meanings far deeper than most people see or understand when reading the Book of Mormon, those deeper meanings are not separate or in conflict—they are just deeper meanings.
    As an example, when Helaman spoke to his sons he told them, “Remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation” (Helaman 5:12), however, while that is understood by almost all, there is a deeper meaning involved since in the time of the scriptural occurrence, people did not build foundations as we do today, i.e., leveling ground, building a frame, pouring it with cement, then putting down a bottom plate, vertical studs, top plate, etc.
Buildings anciently had to be built on (red arrow) bedrock for their stability. When they people on sand dirt, subsoil, or topsoil, which is easier and simpler, cheaper and quicker, the foundation fails in almost any type of weather especially one where rains can wash away the soil
    Anciently, to make sure of stability of the type Helaman was describing, builders dug down to the  bedrock (that area of the lithified rock that lies under the loose softer material or regolith)--the solid base of the earth, by removing the dirt and reaching the solid rock subsurface. They then secured their foundation upon that solid rock and built from there, which is partially described in Luke 6:48).
Yellow Arrow: Some bedrock is at the surface; but (white arrow) most is not and requires deep excavation to reach
    Since accessing the bedrock, in most cases, requires significant excavation of soils (sand, clay, etc.) overlying the bedrock, but because building the foundation upon bedrock is necessary given the extremely large loads associated with important construction, the understanding is of great effort—thus in building one’s life upon a rock takes hard work, understanding, and a willingness not to settle for less. It is a deeper meaning, especially to those who have dug down to solid bedrock and not just lay a cement pad over the ground.
    The point is, whether you take the surface meaning of having a solid foundation or the deeper meaning of reaching bedrock, the concept of the scripture is the same, one simply gives you greater insight into the meaning or process needed than the other. Thus, the symbology of Helaman 5:12 paints a clear picture of what is needed to be secure and stable, no matter what age or what culture to which people belong.
    In this article being discussed here, the author takes to task John E. Clark, archaeologist at BYU and former anthropology dean John L. Sorenson for their statements about how the Book of Mormon over the last 50 years is converging (coming together) with the Mesoamerican theory regarding the location of the Land of Promise.
    While we can applaud the author’s resistance to such an idea, we have to point out that his stance that the Great Lakes is the location of the Land of Promise is equally inaccurate and untenable. After reading this extensive article, the problem, as it always is regarding the different theories promoted by well-meaning but hard-headed views is that they try to bend the scriptural record to mean what they want it to mean. This is true of Mesoamericanists, Great Lakes, and the author of the website article, and the many other theorists who insist on this point or that point, but ignore the points of which they disagree.
    As an example, the author states: “Other text-based claims, such as finding mountains throughout the text where they don't appear,” is interesting, since there are mountains in Mesoamerica, but not in the Great Lakes area.
The author harps on the fact that Mesoamericanists use the term volcanoes regarding their mountains, and volcanoes are not mentioned in the scriptural record. The fact that the word “volcano” from the “Vulcan,” god of fire in Roman mythology, would not have been known to Mormon or any other writer of the scriptural record. At the same time, the author forgets that in Nephi, Helaman and 3 Nephi, we have three distinct descriptions of mountains “crumbling” and falling to form valleys and others rising, as Samuel the Lamanite said, “whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23). Samuel goes on to say “the angel said unto me that many shall see greater things than these, to the intent that they might believe that these signs and these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land, to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men” (Helaman 14:28).
That is, these signs and wonders, mountains tumbling into level valleys, level valleys rising into mountains, whose height is great, would be for the people to see with the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men. Now, throughout the Land of Promise, i.e., from the Land of Nephi to the Land of Desolation and Land of Many Waters, these mountains would fall and rise so that all within the Land of Promise could see them and believe in the signs so there would be no unbelief among them. Common sense tells us that this would not be possible unless the signs were so wide-spread as to allow basically everyone throughout the Land of Promise to both see them and understand their nature, so they would know it was God who did the tumbling and rising of mountains, among other things.
    The problem lies in the author only seeing that the word “volcano” does not appear in the scripture, missing all the factors involved to show him that the Great Lakes region, which has no mountains of any height and hardly a single hill, discounts his vociferous claim that he knows where the Land of Promise is located.

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