About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/04/dna-mormons/ and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009 http://theredbrickstore.com/sunstone/becoming-hong-meis-mother/.

The Mystery of the Kinderhook Plates, Solved!

Kinderhook plate

Kinderhook plate

In April 1843, in the small village of Kinderhook, Illinois, Robert Wiley dug a deep shaft into the center of a nearby Indian mound ( to read the previous post about mounds click here). Wiley claimed to have had dreams in which valuable treasure was hidden in the mound. At first, Wiley dug the hole alone, but after a few days, Wilbur Fugate, Bridge Whitten, WP Harris, and few other men came to assist him. Soon after the men commenced digging they “found” six small bell shaped plates of copper held together by a ring. Also unearthed was a skeleton of a nine foot man.  WP Harris took the plates home to wash them with sulphuric acid. Once the plates were cleaned, strange markings were revealed which appeared to be Egyptian hieroglyphics.

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How Manifest Destiny Destroyed Book of Mormon Evidence

Egyptian Temple Clinch River East Tennessee

Newspaper photo graph of the Hopewell Temple site on the Clinch River East Tennessee see: https://www.facebook.com/189002950786/photos/a.245201745786.136786.189002950786/10151201763965787/ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ancient-American-Magazine-Archeology-of-the-Americas-Before-Columbus/189002950786?fref=photo


In 1934, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), was constructing a dam which would flood a portion of the Clinch River in East Tennessee. Because the area to be flooded included a Hopewell Native American mound, a group of archeologists were called in to excavate the site. The archeologists came upon an amazing discovery when they uncovered the ruins of a large stone and wood structure. So unlike any other find found at a Hopewell site, British Egyptologist, James Rendel Harris from the London Museum, was consulted. At the site, Harris identified the structure as an “Egyptian Temple”. A single newspaper article documents this account.

I know! Amazing! An Egyptian temple in East Tennessee of all places, AND why is this fact not widely known??!! I’ll tell you why, Dear Reader, our ignorance of the Egyptian temple ruins in East Tennessee is the consequence of Manifest Destiny.

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Temple Institute in Jerusalem “Sons of Aaron Prepare an Offering to the Lord”- The Dress Rehearsal

Animal sacrifice Temple Institute

Sons of Aaron being instructed on the ceremony of animal sacrifice

“…For  the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed”  D&C 84:31

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Every Child Deserves a Family



In 2007 on our adoption trip to the Peoples Republic of China, we toured our newly adopted 3-year-old daughter Hong Mei’s orphanage. We had considered Chinese adoption for many years and had seen many photos, a documentary, and videos of what we might encounter in a Chinese orphanage. Despite my preparation, I found myself completely overwhelmed by the experience.

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Nobody’s Perfect: Excellence Instead of Perfection

By Joanna Benson and Lara Jackson

Guest Blogger Lara Jackson

Lara Branscomb Jackson has her BA in psychology, her master’s in counseling and is completing her PhD in counseling. Lara has a private practice and works at a Wellness Center that focuses on eating disorders, addiction, diabetes, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.  She grew up in North Carolina in the LDS faith and is an active member in the  LDS church. An interesting aspect of Lara’s experience is that her parents were converts to the church from the Baptist faith. Her parents were the only converts to the LDS faith of her extensive family. Lara has been in numerous callings in the church including multiple opportunities with the Young Women’s program.



If I had access to a time machine, I would go back 20 + years in my life and change a moment that took 5+ years out of my life. I was a young working wife and mother trying the best of my ability to live the gospel.  Having grown up in the Mormon culture, I was well acquainted with shaming perfectionistic standards.  While sitting in a lesson in Sunday school, a lengthy to-do list to obtain a place in the Celestial Kingdom was passed out to the class.

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