Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Mystifying Rationale of Mesoamerican Directions – Part IV

Continuing with Brant A. Gardner’s rationale of John L. Sorenson’s skewed Land of Promise, along with our responses.
Gardner: “In spite of the many reasons that recommend this model, there is one major problem with the correlation. As anthropologist Deanne G. Matheny, of the University of Utah, states: “The most fundamental geographical problem associated with Sorenson’s model has to do with issues of directionality.”
Response: Thus, all the effort by Sorenson and numerous others to show why the scriptural record is wrong, why Mormon used north when he meant west, or south when he meant east, as they claim, and why Joseph Smith translated in incorrectly, and why the Spirit did not correct Joseph’s errors, are rendered useless. A east and west Land of Promise, such as Mesoamerica, simply does not and cannot match Mormon’s scriptural descriptions.
Gardner: Again quoting from Deanne G. Matheny, “In order for his model to fit the geography of Mesoamerica, one must assume that the Nephites had a system of directions with cardinal directions skewed “45 degrees or more” off of the usually observed cardinals.. In other words, the whole directional card must be shifted more than 60 degrees to the west for this model to fit the geography of the chosen area. Otherwise, as Vogel has pointed out, the land north will be on the west, and the south on the east, and so forth.”
As can plainly be seen, Mesoamerica runs east and west. If you go far enough into Mexico, obvious the land begins to turn northward, and if you go far enough into Nicaragua, the land begins to go southward—but in between, Mesoamerica runs east and west

Response: Actually, to be correct, the skewing is closer to 90º as any map will show, not 45ºor 60º, though those differences themselves are significant. Any of this skewing should be deal breaker and should never have been accepted by anyone with conscience as a Land of Promise location.
Gardner: “Making this shift in directions creates its own set of problems, however, because in such a Nephite directional system the sun would come up in the south and set in the north.”
The latitudes of both Mesoamerica and Jerusalem or nearly the same, which means the sun rises in the east and sets in the west of our current cardinal directions in both areas at about the same angle or direction

Response: That is exactly correct! With Mesoamerica under our current cardinal directions, the sun rising in the east would not have caused any problem for the immigrating Nephites, for it would have been rising in the east (almost due east) and setting in the west (almost due west).
    However, if we skew the cardinal directions to make the Land Northward in the west, and the Land Southward in the east, as Sorenson’s map shows, then the Sea East is in the north and the Sea West is in the south as Sorenson’s map clearly shows, we have the Sun rising in the South, and there is no way that would equate to the Hebrew orientation, no matter how much you want to play with the meaning of words as Sorenson does in his book when describing why the Hebrews did not use the same cardinal directions as we do—or at least the Nephites did not.
    Thus, Sorenson, in his book, launches into what he calls “Mormon north,” i.e., the fact that Mormon did not operate under the same cardinal directions that we do today, thus allowing for a skewing of the directions from what is written. First of all, the above directions of both Jerusalem and Mesoamerica should show the fallacy of such thinking and skewing with cardinal compass directions. Second, we have already addressed the fact many times in this blog that Nephi knew his cardinal, principal ordinal and the sixteen points of the compass since he used them in the directions he gave us (cardinal: east [1 Nephi 17:1], the principal or ordinal: southeast; and the sixteen wind directions: south-southeast [1 Nephi 17:13]). Third, if Nephi knew them, certainly they would have been known when they reached the Land of Promise since the only way Nephi could have known them when traveling in an area he had never been was through the Liahona, which he had in the Land of Promise as did other prophets.
    Fourth, what all of this does not address, and no Mesoamericanist has tried to answer, is if Mormon was using a different directional system (Nephite north) as Sorenson and other Mesoamericanists claim, then why did the Spirit agree with using an incorrect direction system to those who would read the Book of Mormon, when that book was written to future readers who would not have such a skewed directional system as the so-called “Mormon or Nephite north”? Why didn’t the Spirit simply correct the problem and eliminate all this controversy instead of showing Joseph Smith the “so-called” error as the correct answer—when scribes testified that this was how the Spirit worked on the words or wordage Joseph Smith saw via the seer stone when looking into the hat.
    This alone should shed the type of light on “Mormon north” as to discredit the entire idea. But undaunted, Sorenson continued with his explanations which showed Mormon was wrong in knowing he was writing to a future people, Joseph Smith was wrong in putting down a direction that is incorrect according to Mesoamericanists, and the Spirit allowed the error to flow into print. Maybe we stand alone on this, but that point of view simply cannot be justified in light of any other of the translation information we have on the plates, or any other work Joseph Smith labored on.
Gardner: “These are serious considerations. How could Nephites possibly think that the sun would come up in the south and set in the north? They couldn’t. Yet we have a geographic correlation that fits both real world geography and cultural history remarkably well–except when we come to the terms north, south, east, and west.”
Response: It is interesting that when any of these liberal agenda ideas, like Mesoamerica being the Land of Promise, promoted by Academia scholars and writers is shown to be simply untenable in the simplest of ways, they simply regroup and look for another way to answer the unanswerable.
In fact, in footnote #3 of Gardner’s article, a quote from (left) Douglas K. Christensen [Vice-President and webmaster of “Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum,” and founder of the Alma Success Academy in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, and a Mesoamericanist] posted to their website, Facebook: “Despite the differences, there is almost unanimous agreement among scholars that Sorensen’s so called “Nephite North” which is required in order to make his model work, unnecessarily muddies the picture. Joseph and Blake Allen [themselves hard-core Mesoamericanists] recently responded to an inquiry about the Sorenson model. Their answer is typical of the current thinking of most LDS scholars: “We don’t feel that there is any strength to the idea of a rotated map. Sorenson pursued the hourglass concept and then superimposed it on a Mesoamerican map, thereby proposing a shift in Nephite directions from the standard cardinal directions, rotating the map and calling the result by the name of “Nephite north.” This theory has received an abundant amount of negative criticism, as there is no evidence from either the Book of Mormon or Maya culture that hints at a directional shift.”
    However, in footnote #4, it states: “The cultural data have been sufficiently impressive that other LDS authors have attempted to retain the basic culture area, but find a way to correlate the geography with the cardinal directions rather than Sorenson’s necessary shift of the Nephite cultural north. One such is Dee Stoddard, “From the East to the West Sea” An Analysis of John L. Sorenson’s Book of Mormon Directional Statements,” 2009.
    The point is, however, that the cultural data they want to maintain itself seldom matches the scriptural record, including putting myriads of people and cultures into the Land of Promise both before and during Lehi’s time and that of the Nephites. Nor is the geography of Mesoamerica a good fit to the scriptural record without changing the meaning of Mormon’s statement—as their “narrow neck of land” being the Isthmus of Tehuantepec as one; no north and south seas being another, and the lack of Mesoamerica ever being an island another still and the list could go on.
(See the next post, “The Mystifying Rationale of Mesoamerican Directions – Part V,” and the continuation of Gardner’s rationale of Sorenson’s skewed Land of Promise, along with our responses)

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