BofM – the “new” new model

Anyone else catch this article in the SL Tribune noting that there is a movement among the apologentsia to suggest that the Book of Mormon took place exclusively in North America (east of the Mississippi)? According to the article, this movement is gaining some traction among Mormons. As if Mormons need any more reason to advocate their own version of “Manifest Destiny,” to believe that the BofM is a North American book will only encourage this. Ughh!

Of course, the part that I really like about this – it shows just how ridiculous trying to locate the Book of Mormon really is. Why, you ask? My in-laws went on a Book of Mormon lands tour in Central America a few years ago. They spent thousands of dollars to be guided around southern Mexico and Guatemala by some Mormon hack who reinterpreted everything actual scientists had unearthed in Book of Mormon language. And now, Mormon tour guides are going to be setting up tours to Kentucky and Ohio to see the “Book of Mormon lands.” At what point do the every-day Mormons stop and ask themselves, “Why do I keep paying these hacks to feed me B.S.?”

The strongest position the apologentsia can take on the BofM is simple: “We don’t know where it happened and there is no way to know.” Why? It’s non-falsifiable, just like faith. Et voila, no more science to disprove the ridiculous truth claims.


I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

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12 Responses

  1. Chino Blanco says:

    How can settling for the non-falsifiable not be unsatisfying for a rank-and-file raised on the certainty of the Mormon “I know”?

    Anyways, I caught the article. Nice to see a few Mormons catching some of that old-time religion. Growing up, I wasn’t aware of any apologentsia. What I do remember is plenty of speculation (Kon-Tiki?), loads of LDS entrepeneurs/tour guides/firesides-with-slide-shows, and lots of testimonies borne regarding the latest Mormon reinterpretation.

    Good times.

  2. Chino Blanco says:

    Oh, and the Trib article reminded me of a line from that Haaretz link in my drunken trainwreck of a Petraeus post:

    Rather than being removed from the American ethos – one that portrayed a nation as being subject to divine guidance while carrying out God’s will – the Mormons were the radical embodiment of that ethos.

    In which case, I wonder if part of the appeal of this latest Mormon reinterpretation might be down to how it realigns Mormonism with where the rest of the country seems to be headed. If it looks like the country is turning inward, the Mormon impulse is going to be to try to get there faster than everyone else.

  3. kuri says:

    One thing that’s always interested me is the way some LDS, despite the church’s limited number of paid clergy and its scriptures’ warnings against “priestcraft,” are so quick to look for ways to make money off their religion. Not just the tours, but the kitsch household decorations, jewelry, food storage and “preparedness” goods, journaling aids, genealogy products, and on and on.

    In my devout days, I was quick to judge such people’s actions as at least bordering on “priestcraft.” That mindset was so alien to me. If I’d produced some sort of valuable religious insights, I’d have felt obligated to give them away. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to try to make money off them.

    Nowadays, though, I don’t really care. I guess it’s the nature of most people to look to the main chance, and there’s no reason Mormons should be any different. But it’s still interesting to me.

  4. Hellmut says:

    Didn’t you ever watch Ancient America Speaks, Chino? In Europe, we watched that movie all the time.

    Don’t you know that Quetzacoatl is really Jesus?

    Unfortunately, there appears to be no translation of Tom Trail.

  5. Steve EM says:

    Um, I don’t think there’s much of a following among LDS for this USA heartland setting for the BofM. Its hardly new. Much of it’s based on JS’s interpretation of the BofM and since JS claimed it wasn’t his book, his interpretation carries little weight. That said, most active LDS put a lot of stock in BofM historicity, whatever the settling, for reasons I dont entirely grasp. In the end its a matter of faith alone.

  6. Chino Blanco says:

    @3: Shouldn’t we be applauding Mormons who strive to follow the Prophet’s example?

    In Nauvoo, Joseph Smith turned over the mummies and papyri to his mother, Lucy Mack Smith, to free himself from the obligation of exhibiting the papyri and to provide his widowed mother with means to support herself. She kept the mummies and papyri for the rest of her life, exhibiting them to interested visitors for twenty-five cents a person.

    @4: My personal fave was always Machu Picchu, mostly because it was kinda fun to say.

    @5: Dude, there are 600+ comments under that Trib article, and what looks to be some real contention. I for one would love to see at least a half-dozen competing Book-of-Mormonland tour outfits, each accusing the others of leading folks astray. I’m not getting any younger, and would appreciate the chance to see some authentic schismatic action before I check out.

  7. Hellmut says:

    That’s probably right, Steve. On the other hand, many Mormons will believe whatever President Monson tells them to believe.

  8. Chino Blanco says:

    BREAKING: Utah’s LDS geography competition

    They call it the “heartland” model of Book of Mormon lands. Within the movement, phrases like “Joseph Smith knew” are almost holy mantras and the word “Mesoamerica” is a cussword.

    The name and face of this geographic theory is Rodney Meldrum, the founder and president of a for-profit organization called the Foundation for Indigenous Research and Mormonism, or simply the FIRM Foundation.

    Nice to see Michael De Groote stepping up and mining the drama for all it’s worth while also filing a solid report.

  9. Goldarn says:

    I like the idea of an BoM homeland in borders of the United States. For starters, it cheaper to fly there; also, the US gets American television. Tourists from Utah won’t have nearly as much culture shock. Plus, you could do a combined tour with early Mormon historical sites!

    I’m surprised someone didn’t come up with this idea a long time ago.

  10. OhNo says:

    As a Native American, I find this crap really fricking annoying. We have our own stories about our histories (that look nothin’ like BoM no matter what these yahoos say) and real archaeology. I’ll stick with that, thanks. Sigh.

  11. Hellmut says:

    Good to meet you, OhNo. I can see how that is annoying.

    Unfortunately, we have the tendency to believe that our impositions are doing other people a favor.

  12. Seth R. says:

    I’m late to this particular discussion.

    But for what it’s worth, most of the guys I know from FAIR find this “heartland model” craze fueled by Porter and Meldrum to be just as annoying as you guys do.

    Most of the FAIR stuff I’ve read takes the position that “we don’t know where, and it’s best to keep all the options open and on the table.”

    Meldrum really pissed off people in that circle when he basically said “if you don’t agree with my model, then you’re disagreeing with the clear word of Joseph Smith” – which is rubbish, incidentally (Joseph’s views were all over the place and evolving).

    I’ll just say there’s a lot of eye-rolling about all these seminars and promotionals Meldrum is throwing.

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