Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, History and Doctrine, Quetions and Issues

I’m troubled by improbable, indeed seemingly impossible, issues in the history and doctrine of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints.  My previous posts: “August 30, 2003 letter to Church President Gordon B. Hinckley,” “Swords and Spears,” “ An Apostate’s Dilemma,” “Too Big To Fai,” “ A Weighty Tome Indeed,” “Matthew 22:21” and “My Quandary,” express some concerns. 

If resolve and energy hold, I hope to post on issues such as: Joseph Smith Jr.’s seeing and speaking with angels, Jesus and God Himself, identical Book of Mormon and Bible formats and passages, genetics of pre-Columbus Western Hemisphere indigenous.   I will post these as “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, History and Doctrine, Questions and Issus, Part I, II, III, IV, etc.”

My concerns regarding the LDS, religion in general, revolve around faith and fact.  Religion demands faith in things that which cannot be proven.  Science’s un-provable axioms and assumptions falls back on faith.  Still, for now I go with what seems to me “facts.”

This said, I like to point out that a father of science René Descartes conclude there are two aspects to human experience, physical or material and metaphysical or spiritual.  Science scoffed at the latter half of Descartes’s postulate as “the ghost in the machine.”  Concluding The Second Creation Makers of the Revolution in Twentieth-Century Physics, Physicists Robert P. Crease and Charles C. Mann give this rebuttal a Quantum twist.  It seems Descartes may indeed have been mistaken, not because there is no ghost, but because there is no machine!

Similarly, after studying the workings within a biological cell, J.B.H. Haldane concluded, “There are things there not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine!”  There is, of course, far more that I cannot imagine than I canStill, when faith and fact seem to disagree I’m compelled  to proceed from what is observable and verifiable.  I may have faith this PC keyboard is a ham sandwich, but however hungry I am, however fervent may my faith, I will not take a bite from this keyboard.

Likewise, The Book of Mormon is rooted in Iron Age folks inhabiting  the Western Hemisphere prior to Columbus.  Five centuries’ accumulation of Stone Age artifacts fill warehouses and museum shelves, but so much as one rusty iron pin has been unearthed.  Keyboard or a stone spear point, I have to go with the obvious.

Again, I emphasize my love and respect for Mormon People.  I hope no one will interpret my indiscretions personally.

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Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
History and Doctrine
Questions and Issues
Part I: Chosen

So much!  Where to begin?

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
Alice In Wonderland, Chapter 12
Lewis Carroll

Throughout Judaic/Christian history, many have heard and seen God. What Does the Bible Say About Hearing God? (openbible.info) lists folks who heard the Divine.  People in Scripture Who Saw God: Appendix 5 of Immanuel a Practicum | Immanuel approach is a compendium of many who saw the Almighty.  These accounts tend toward snippets.  I will refer to this later.

The Fist Council of Nicaea, AD 325, began the canonization of Christian scripture.  Subsequent accounts of any who may have heard and saw God seem impossible to come by.  Until the early nineteenth century when an upstate New York, country boy saw and spoke with angels, Jesus Christ and The Big Guy Himself!

The spring of 1820, in the woods near his home, fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith Jr., “saw two Personages, (Jesus Christ and God Himself) whose brightness and glory defy all description.”  When Joseph asked which of the many Christian sects was God’s true church, God answered, “all the religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines” and wait for further guidance.

September 22, 1827 the angel Maroni handed Joseph a book of gold plates chronicling a Western Hemisphere culture predating Columbus by over fifteen centuries.  Employing, variously, a “urim and thummim” or “seer stone,” twenty-one-year-old Smith translated these writings as The Book of Mormon.  April 6, 1830 Joseph Smith Jr. and others founded The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints.  June 27, 1844 Joseph and his brother Hyrum were murdered in the Carthage Illinois jail.    

Joseph Smith Jr. was a prolific writer.  In addition to the Book of Mormon, he wrote journals and “translated” various Egyptian writings, notably the Book of Abraham, whichEgyptologists agree do not accord with the hieroglyphs.  His Pearl of Great Price includes seemingly inspired writing on Moses, Abraham and Matthew.  In 1843, to test Joseph’s translational veracity, Wilburn Fugate and Robert Wiley of Kinderhook, Illinois, fabricated six, bell-shaped, metal “Kinderhook” plates, regarding which the History of the Church quotes Smith, “I have translated a portion of [the plates] and find they contain  .  .  .  a descent of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt  .  .  .  .”   

The two hundred and ninety-one pages, The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints documents a century-and-a-half of Joseph Smith Jr’s, and later Church Presidents’ revelations from God Himself.  If you will, The Handbook for Mormons.

Notably, the Doctrine and Covenants precepts are not irrefutable.  Section 132, Verse 4, recorded July 12, 1843, is clear, “For behold , I (God) reveal unto you a new and everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, (plural marriage) then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.” (my emphasis)

When Utah’s statehood hinged on the Church’s practice of polygamy, “Official Declaration I” reversed course. “After receiving revelation, President Wilford Woodruff issued the following Manifesto, which was accepted by the Church as authoritative and binding on October 6, 1890.  This led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church.”

Likewise, on the heels of America’s Civil Rights upheaval, “Official Declaration 2” backtracked on, since its inception, the Church’s placing stringent restrictions on black people in Church functions and black men holding the Priesthood, “(a) revelation came to Church President Spencer W. Kimball and was affirmed to other Church leaders in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1, 1978 (which) removed all restrictions with regard to race that once applied to the priesthood.”

Back to what I called the “snippet” nature of Biblical accounts of folks seeing and hearing God.  Beside perhaps the Prophets, Apostles and Jesus Christ Himself, Joseph Smith Jr.’s long-term, face-to-face relationship with the Almighty seems unrivaled!

The Introduction to The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints makes clear that Joseph Smith Jr. heard, paraphrased and quoted the voice of God! 

“The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of divine revelations and inspired declarations given for the establishment and regulation of the kingdom of God on the earth in the last days. Although most of the sections are directed to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the messages, warnings, and exhortations are for the benefit of all mankind and contain an invitation to all people everywhere to hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking to them for their temporal well-being and their everlasting salvation.

Most of the revelations in this compilation were received through Joseph Smith Jr., the first prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Others were issued through some of his successors in the Presidency (see headings to D&C 135136, and 138, and Official Declarations 1 and 2).

The book of Doctrine and Covenants is one of the standard works of the Church in company with the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Pearl of Great Price. However, the Doctrine and Covenants is unique because it is not a translation of an ancient document, but is of modern origin and was given of God through His chosen prophets for the restoration of His holy work and the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth in these days. In the revelations, one hears the tender but firm voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking anew in the dispensation of the fullness of times; and the work that is initiated herein is preparatory to His Second Coming, in fulfillment of and in concert with the words of all the holy prophets since the world began.”  (emphasis added)

Joseph Smith Jr.’s relationship with God seems unique in Judaic/Christian history.  I am astonished that Latter Day Saints seem really not to appreciate the profound significance of this longstanding, immediate communion with the Almighty!  We are talking Revelations folks!  A man seeing and hearing God!
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Joe, “Hey . . . God.”
God, “’sup Joe?”
Joe, “I been thinkin’.”
God, “I know.”
Joe, “In the Old Testament Solomon was your prophet, right?”
God, “Okay?
Joe, “Now I’m Your Man.”
God, “So?”
Joe, “Solomon, he had all those wives, whose conkebines”.
God, “You want to fornicate.”
Joe, “Well  .  .  .  I mean  .  .  .”
God, “I see you eyeing the sweeties.  You want to fornicate, Joe.”
Joe, “Hey deliverin’ Your word is a lonesome job.  People criticizin’,
        even threatenin’.”
God, “I hear ya Joe.  You’d feel less alone if you had more companionship.
        Hopping in the sack with one of My Handmaidens would help ease the
        stress.”
Joe, “Right!”
God, “Go ahead Joe.  Fornicate all you want.”
Joe, “Thanks  .  .  .  But there’s a problem.”
God, “Emma.”
Joe, “Yeah.”
God, “You tell little Emma, keep her knickers on.  This is man
         business.”
Joe, “Right!”
God, “You, and the Brethren too, can fornicate with something like, oh say
         ten virgins, and not sin.  Tell ‘em it’s My ‘everlasting covenant.’  Break
         it you’re sunk!  Write it up Joe.  Say I said so.”
Joe, “Thanks God.  Thanks a lot!”
God, “ Anytime Joe.”

My Quandary

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance
when the need for illusion is great.
Saul Bellow

I preface this reaffirming my love and respect for Mormon people.

The corpus of rationale pointing to fallacies and dearth of artifacts supporting the Book of Mormon, throws validity of Joseph Smith Jr.’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints into serious question.  Given this, I’m puzzled that Ph.D.s, M.D.s, MBAs and LLDs., really smart folks, and even a handful who aren’t that smart, choose not to consider these facts.

All I can come up with—and it troubles me—is the personal consequence of, in Ex-Mormon Social Media vernacular “Going down the rabbit hole” are so huge and far-reaching.  Like “Coming Out” LGBTQ,will I alienate family and friends?  Will I lose my job, career, BYU Professorship?  In “Too Big To Fail,” I considered the larger cultural and economic devastation that formal dissolution of The Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter Day Saints would trigger.  Personally, I’m sorry not feeling free dispassionately to discuss, with Mormons, issues which seem to question LDS precepts.

For those in the Closet, but feeling curiosity and courage to glance toward the Rabbit Hole, you’re not alone.  Googling “exmormon” can prove bewildering.  Going to paper and ink, historian and niece of Church President David O. McKay, Faun Brodi’s No Man Knows My History is seminal.  A Brigham Young M.A. with 34 years in the Church Education System (CES), former Director of the LDS Institute of Religion in Whittier, California and Historian Grant H. Palmer’s An Insider View of Mormon Origins is carefully documented and meticulous.  Covering all the bases with photos and illustrations, former missionary Jeremy Runnells’ CES letter is instructive and entertaining.

Matthew 22:21

Matthew 22:21
“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,
 and unto God the things that are God’s.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are fine people.  I love my Mormon family and friends.

During this fractious and divisive Presidential election, through Facebook it became evident a majority of my LDS family and friends support President Trump.  I wonder, does their Church influence members politics and vote? 

No doubt most would answer, “No.”  Certainly, politics is never promoted from the pulpit nor in the myriad of Church organization, meeting and publications.  Nonetheless, it seem to me impossible to extricate religion, any religion, from politics.

Caveat:  “Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.”  I see that of Utah’s 3.2 million residents, 2.1 million, 66%, are LDS.  The current U.S. electoral map gives 58.4% of Utah’s votes to Trump.

With two of three Utah residents being LDS and six of ten voting for Trump, I wonder?  Given the Church’s billions-of-dollars invested in Capitalism it will never happen, but, if word trickled down that the Prophet’s political course had turned hard Left, might Utah’s (and Idaho’s) electoral map colors transform from red to blue? 

A Weighty Tome Indeed

I am puzzled that Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints General Authorities, Stake Presidents, Bishops, Ph. D.s, LL. D.s, M.D.s, professors and members, folks I admire and love, refuse to consider the plethora of troublesome “facts” and blatant impossibilities in The Book of Mormon.

For a young man who tagged behind his father through the woods and across the fields of upstate New York, search for buried treasure, Joseph Smith Jr.’s choice of gold as material for his book is understandable but lousy writing material.  If bullion and doubloons lay secreted in the hills south of Lake Ontario—not that Dad found any—why not a gold book?

Gold is hard to come by, fragile in thin sheets, and heavy!  Each page of The Book of Mormon had to be hammered smooth and trimmed to a uniform size.  According to the LDS website, witnesses described the book resembling a three-ring binder with pages about 6 by 8 inches, stacked 5 inches high.  At 640 cubic inches and 0.7 pounds per cubic inch, Joseph’s Book would tip the scale at 168 pounds!  The pages would not have been as dense as a gold brick.  Nevertheless, it seems fair to assume the volume would tip the scales upward of 100 pounds.  In transferring this burden from the Hill Cumorah to home, Joseph does not mention a  conveyance such wheel borrow or wagon.  As an adult Joseph Jr. was a larger than average man.  Toting this load, like Heliman’s soldiers young Joe must have  been a “stripling” lad.  (Borrow a pair of 50 pound hand weights from the gym; lug them around the block.  You get the idea.)

Without considering the type size and word count of today’s Book of Mormon, “printing” of the gold pages raises challenges.  Even with five or six times the volume of today’s Book, crowding the text into available space would demand scribes with the craftsmanship and precision of a jeweler.  This is especially astonishing when viewed alongside the only other known native North American “writing,” pictographs and petro glyphs.  How were the plates inscribed?  Were the characters scratched, embossed, stamped, stenciled?  Regarding “books,” prior to Columbus none of the form recognized in Europe and Asia after Gutenberg has been found in the Western Hemisphere.

According to The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummmim  .  .  .  were what constituted ‘seer’ stones in ancient or former times  .  .  .  for the purpose of translating the book.”  Today I’m told Joseph translated from a “peep stone” in the crown of his hat, like a “crawler” at the bottom of a TV screen?  Which was it Joe, Urim and Thummmim, peep stone or keen intellect and florid imagination?

The book of “Mormon” 9:32: “We have written this record  .  .  .  in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian.”  Nephi 1:2, “Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the language of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.” (My emphasis)  According to Wikipedia “Reformed Egyptian” does not appear in standard ancient languages references.  The language which was Romanized as “Hebrew” was “historically the language of the Israelites and their ancestors.”

So, Father Lehi’s native tongue was Hebrew, one of humankind’s most ancient and sophisticated spoken and written languages.  How and why he wrote in Egyptian is a puzzle.  Moreover, how and why, a mere forty generations after Lehi, was all memory of his native Hebrew forgotten?

Historian Fawn M. Brodie’s No Man Knows My History may offer a clue.  A niece of Church President David O. McKay’s, who was excommunicated after the fact, Historian Brodie writes, “Joseph told Josiah Quincy in 1844 that his mother purchased them (four Egyptian mummies and several papyri) ‘with her own money at the cost of six thousand dollars.’”  These, even the Church must concede, Joseph erroneously “translated” as the Book of Abraham.  (Divine inspiration?)

It is argued that, without divine guidance a poor upstate New York farm kid could not have written the book of Mormon.  Youthful writers are a dime a dozen.  At twenty-three we hit our mental and physical peak.  Right now a million fifteen to twenty-five-year-old, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Dickinson, Eliot, Poe and Shakespeares wannabe are scratching away with ballpoint pens or, today, tapping on keyboards, composing the novel, story, poem, essay, play and screen play certain to be shelved beside the classics.  Only the tiniest fraction of one percent of these will receive an editor’s blessing and be stacked on Barnes and Noble’s tables.

Young Joseph’s book went to press because Martin Harris mortgaged and later sold 151 acres of his farm to pay for publication.  My guess is that Book of Mormon sales (Amazon paperback $18.98) are predominately to Church members and organizations.

According to Church’s website, Maroni buried the Book of Mormon in 421 A.D.  Between the third and eighth centuries A.D., councils of Nicea consolidated Near and Middle East writings into the Christian Bible which was divided by chapters in the thirteenth and verses in the sixteenth century.

1 Nephi, 2 Nephi, Jacob, Enos; Matthew, Mark, Luke, John:  It is beyond curious that the Book of Mormon is arranged by book, chapter and verse and in idiom identical—For me idiom really tips the scale!—to Joseph Smith Jr.’s King James Bible, composed on the obverse side of Earth beginning around the time Moroni buried his Book.  Grand H. Palmer cites ten instances where excerpts from the Book of Mormon and young Joe’s Bible are identical or paraphrased.  Palmer’s scholarship in examining the BOM must be read to be appreciated.

Other issues which question the Book of Mormon’s veracity include the absolute dearth of physical items explicit in its text: Iron Age implements, the wheel, horses, writing and money—Yes money!  BOM includes 14 references!—and proof the genetic signature of folks who greeted Columbus was written not in the Near East but Asia!

I hypothesize that, born into mysticism, superstition, spirituality, buried treasure and things Egyptian, swept up in a religious revival, experiencing the power of loquacious preaching, young Joseph harnessed a keen intellect and robust libido, conflating Mom’s artifacts, Dad’s treasure hunting and mounting evidence pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere were not ignorant savages into The Book of Mormon and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Too Big To Fail

I considered titling this “Too Big to Fail?” But no, with billions in assets, millions tithing ten percent, and catastrophic cultural implications, like Chase Manhattan and Goldman Sacks, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is too big to fail.

While fiscal failure of the Mormon church portends economic shockwaves beyond reckoning, such a collapse would be dollars in the pockets of rank-and-file members: No more ten percent to the Prophet. No more $10,000 to bankroll offspring on two-year missions. No more thousands for Church-related programs.

Nevertheless, for millions of faithful, collapse of their Church would trigger emotional and cultural devastation to beggar economics. Hearing their “Prophet Seer and Revelator” denounce Joseph Smith’s story and Book as frauds, Mormons and Mormonism would experience personal and societal shockwaves akin to Catholics hearing the Pope denounce God.

Despite disastrous economic and cultural implications, twenty-first century technology and inquiry throw Church validity into serious question. Historical research, absence of any artifact to support the Book of Mormon–metal implements, the wheel, a scrap parchment, a rusty pin–and genetic proof Native American roots lie not in the Near East but Asia, convince “Ex-Mos” and others that Joseph Smith’s Church is bogus as the clichéd three-dollar bill. Challenged by fact and social media what stratagem might the General Authorities employ to preclude a meltdown of Mormonism?

Not to worry. Facing a growing cacophony of inquiry and challenge, with bottomless pockets, and a legion of attorneys, bankers, and MBA’s minding the store, the Board of Directors will never allow LDS Inc. to go under. So how might The Elders keep Mormonism afloat?

With past as prolog, query and critique from outside The Fold receive a boiler-plate response: Silence.

Members with questions–members in general–are nurtured like mushrooms: Feed ’em manure and keep ’em in the dark. Those stubborn or foolhardy enough to persist with pesky questions are called before a Bishop, preferably head bowed hat in hand, like a truant third grader. When intimidation fails, Mormons who refuse to recant are booted out!

No Man Knows My History, a researched inquiry into Joseph Smith’s and the Book of Mormon‘s roots led to–an historian and niece of Church President David O. McKay–Fawn Brodie’s excommunicated. Recently, for An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins a member with impeccable credentials Grant H. Palmer was likewise sanctioned. With Ex-Mo presses rolling and shelves of heretical publications expanding, excommunication tribunals would seem at hazard of becoming overtaxed.

Surely General Authorities, Stake Presidents, Bishops, and BYU professors, see the writing on their desk- and lap-tops. But how to respond? Can nineteenth century stonewalling and intimidation hold against twenty-fist century technology and inquiry?

Religions change over time. Mormonism not excepted. From incremental grassroots shifts to stunning reversal of Doctrine, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints adapts and adjusts.

At the prosaic level, when I was a lad face-cards in Mormon households were anathema. The Sabbath was for Sunday School , Sacrament Meeting, and Fireside Chats. Apart from “Sunday Funnies” in the Salt Lake Tribune Sunday entertainment was verboten. My observation is, today, except for the most straight-laced Saints, face-cards, Sunday movies and TV watching are far from uncommon in LDS homes.

The Word of Wisdom counsels members to avoid strong drinks. For decades this sanction extended to cola drinks, on the assumption I presume that caffeine is the culprit. Recently this restriction lifted. Did Coke and Pepsi stocks find their way into the Church’s portfolio?

At the institutional level, folks who have been “through the Temple” report ceremonies sacrosanct since the Prophet Joseph’s time have changed or been dropped.

Dramatic shifts in doctrine are documented in Church canon:

Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132, Verse 4, recorded July 12, 1843,
“For behold , I (God) reveal unto you a new and everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.” (my emphasis)

After exhaustive rambling, Verse 61 gets to the “covenant”: “if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another . . . he cannot commit adultery.”

While Verse 62 extends the number of virgins to ten. With the Prophet leading, Mormon Elders expanded their priestly prerogative to as many virgins (non-virgins?) as practicality allowed.

Fast forward 47 years: When Utah’s statehood hinged on the issue of polygamy, Doctrine and Covenants, “Official Declaration I” reversed course:
“After receiving revelation, President Wilford Woodruff issued the following Manifesto, which was accepted by the Church as authoritative and binding on October 6, 1890. This led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church”

Further on the President fesses up. Persisting with plural marriage would lead to,
“imprisonment of the First Presidency and Twelve and the heads of families in the Church, and the confiscation of personal property of the people.” Did The Big Guy Up Stairs change His mind? Or, did the Elders trade being “damned” and barred from “my glory” for political clout and to dodge the Slammer?

In any case, January 4, 1896 Utah became the 45th State. The “everlasting covenant” lasted less than a half-century.

A second surprising instance of Mormonism adapting and adjusting revolves on the Church’s view of dark-skinned people. From its inception black men were barred from the Priesthood. In Sunday School I was taught black people are descendents of Cain and/or angels who straddled the fence in a celestial war between God and Satan.
The Book and of Mormon‘s and hence the Church’s position regarding dark-skinned folks is unequivocal:

1 Nephi 12/23,
“they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.”

Alma 3:6,
“And the skins of the Lamanites (Native Americans) were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren . . .”

Mormon 5:15,
“for this people shall be scattered, and shall become a dark, a filthy, and a loathsome people . . .”

Do such scurrilous indictments reflect Divine wisdom or nineteenth century American ignorance and bigotry?

According to its Introduction, The Book of Mormon:
“is a record of God’s dealings with ancient inhabitants of the Americas . . . written by ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation . . . on plates (which) were delivered to Joseph Smith, who translated by the gift and power of God.” (my emphasis)

Further on, “Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

Such assurance, backed by references to “Jesus Christ,” “God, the Eternal Father,” and “the Holy Ghost,” make it clear Nephi, Alma, and Mormon speak for Almighty God Himself!

Fast forward again: Doctrine and Covenants “Official Declaration 2” announces:
“(a) revelation came to Church President Spencer W. Kimball and was affirmed to other Church leaders in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1, 1978 (which) removed all restrictions with regard to race that once applied to the priesthood.

Did God again change his mind? Or, with Civil Rights hounds at their heels, did the Elders make another politically savvy call?

Regarding gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transvestites, the Church’s position is clear–think California Proposition 8. At least one in twenty-five Americans–probably many more–experience non-heterosexual feelings. If Mormons fall in the range of normal, with a reported fifteen-million-plus members, over half-a-million do not have heterosexual feelings. With twenty-nine thousand Wards (congregations), at the average Sunday School, Priesthood, and Relief Society meeting straight men, women, and children sit, sing, and pray alongside twenty family and friends who do not share their sexual proclivities.

With Civil Rights and sexual closet doors bursting, legislators, jurists, and the grass-roots recognize the injustice in forcing second-class citizenship to folks who, through no fault of their own, experience–some would argue God given–minority sexual interests. In America, pressure for moral and legal change regarding attitudes around personal sexual preference can only increase. Faced with this ground-swell, will the Church continue forcing men and women to choose between acting on their feelings and excommunication?

With the Elders seeking more politically favorable ground could “Official Declaration III” be in the offing? Out of the question! Like the notion a few decades back of black men blessing the sacrament.

Pragmatic implications demand the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints not fail.   A the same time twenty-first century technology, investigation, and communication pose dilemmas for the General Authorities to cross Solomon’s eyes:

A cosmos of investigation refutes the black hole of physical evidence to support the Book of Mormon. Science proves that Lamanite or Native America genes derive not from the Near East but Asia! A growing chorus of argument challenges the validity of “Church History” and Doctrine.

In short, evidence and rationale that Joseph Smith’s story and Book are a lie seem irrefutable.

What to do? Stonewall? Doublespeak? Adjust? Adapt? Retire Shepherd Joe while somehow keeping his flock penned? Grant H. Palmer suggests that Mormonism might morph into a less problematic Christian model. Not ’til the old guard dies off!

For the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ours are interesting times.

An Apostate’s Dilemma

I face a dilemma. As you know, a dilemma involves choice between undesirable options. Mine: Hold my tongue regarding certainty that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is bogus, or speak up and risk hurting and loosing the love and respect of people I love and respect. Despite LDS and Constitutional precepts guarantying freedom of religion and speech.

I love my Mormon family and friends and respect their right to believe as they do. At the same time, I hold my tongue out of fear that, hearing my conviction that the LDS Church was fabricated by the most successful Con Man in American history, people I love and respect would cease to reciprocate.

It’s not fair. The First Amendment to The Constitution of the Untied States of America states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free expression thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech . . .” The Eleventh Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints affords this same guarantee: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. ” (My emphasis.) Implicit here is the understanding what while I may disagree profoundly with what you say, I respect you as a person.

Officially, of course, the Church must support these guarantees. In practice, questioning Church doctrine is heresy–excommunication! The most cursory glance at anything which might threaten that faith is anathema, forbidden! To survive, Mormonism demands blind faith.

Faith isn’t a problem. Blind faith is. Even science depends on faith. Faith is one thing, fact another. My friend Kathleen points out, it seems better that investigation and fact precede, or at the very least proceed hand-in-hand with faith. Blind faith opens the door to snake-oil peddlers like young Joe Smith.

Swords and Spears

Over a decade I’ve been hung-up on the dearth of physical evidence, particularly Iron Age artifacts, supporting the Book of Mormon. Recently I had a mini-enlightenment: swords and spears do not grow on trees; they do not fall as manna from Heaven. Swords and spears are made, by men.

Without pretending to know more than I do about mining and metallurgy, as I understand, iron implements are the product of a complex, labor-intensive process. Their genesis lies in rock, hard rock, hematite, magnetite, picked, hacked, gouged, blasted from the earth. Picture a Pittsburg, Pennsylvania or Gary Indiana steel mill. Iron ore was crushed and dumped into a furnace. Around 2282° Fahrenheit iron melts. The dross or slag is skimmed and molten iron poured into molds or ingots.

Lacking advanced metallurgy, in Book of Mormon times, after mining and smelting, raw iron would be shaped and pounded into spear points and arrow heads, sharpened and fitted to wooden shafts. Swords and knives might have been formed in molds or wrought, reheated and reshaped, annealed, sharpened, polished and fitted to iron, wood, or bone handles.

Over five centuries, from the Rockies to the Appalachians, from the Gulf to the Arctic, virtually every square meter has been denuded, tilled, plowed, planted and harvested a hundred times over. And not just the Midwest. Pacific to Atlantic, Mexico to Canada, earth has been drilled down, dug up, built on, and paved over. Five centuries of exploration and exploitation leave museums and warehouses overrun with millennias-old Stone Age artifacts, but not one single Iron Age implement–Copper or Bronze Age for that matter!

Among myriad uses, the value of metal to an army can’t be overstated. In “Heleman Leads an Army of 2060 Ammonite Youth” artist Arnold Friberg makes this apparent. At the painting’s center, amid a forest of metal-tipped spears, pointed skyward in the grip of 2060 “stripling” warriors, in polished metal helmet and full war regalia, commander Heleman strides a steed with Spartan-like, polished-metal, head-piece–Paleontologists tell us in the Miocene Era, three-quarters of a millennia before Columbus, Hipparion, the last American stallion, kicked up his hooves.

With admiration for his skill and appreciation for artistic license, besides metal implements Mr. Friberg’s painting points to the immensity and complexity of equipping an army: shields, headgear, clothing, shoes, boots by the thousand. Not to mention logistics: workers, wagons, tents, bedding! Imagine feeding this gang three squares a day!

The Book of Mormon mentions “sword” 157 times; “brass,” “iron,” “copper,” even “steel” 68 times. But no metal implement–of war or otherwise–predating Columbus has ever been unearthed in the Western Hemisphere, not one rusty pin!

Where is the evidence? Where are the mines, mills, foundries, furnaces, slag heaps, blacksmith shops, forges, anvils, hammers and tongs? After the battles, where are the swords, spears and armor, all the equipment? After the “slewing” where are the corpses, the skeletons?

Regarding the Book of Mormon, I’m compelled to look at facts, evidence–or absence thereof.

Introduction

This site (https://myex-mo.com) is limited to thoughts on The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints. Mormons are wonderful people. I love my Mormon family and friends. There are, however, Church history and doctrine which I find troubling, even impossible to believe. If you have no interest in Mormonism or are not okay with having LDS precepts examined, don’t go here. If it’s worth a read please tell your friends.