Book Review: Exploring the Apocrypha by Jared Ludlow

Book Review: Exploring the Apocrypha from a Latter-day Saint Perspective, by Jared W. Ludlow

While making his translation of the Bible, Joseph Smith asked the Lord whether he should include the Apocrypha in his translation.  The Lord responded that there were many good and true things in the Apocrypha, but also many interpolations of men, and so Joseph was not to translate it (D&C 91). Instead, the Lord said that a person guided by the Spirit could gain much value out of reading the Apocrypha.

In Exploring the Apocrypha, Ludlow discusses the history of the Apocrypha and gives an overview of each of the books. Continue reading

Pres. Nelson meets with NAACP leadership

This morning Pres. Nelson and other church leaders met with the leadership of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Watch the press conference from this morning HERE.

Pres. Nelson spoke about this meeting today on his Facebook page. He said,

“It was my pleasure today to meet with national officials of the NAACP to affirm the fundamental doctrine—and heartfelt conviction—of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that all people are God’s precious children and are therefore brothers and sisters. Nearly a quarter century ago, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles proclaimed that “all human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”

Today, in unity with such capable and impressive leaders as the national officials of the NAACP, we are impressed to call on people of this nation and, indeed, the entire world to demonstrate greater civility, racial and ethnic harmony, and mutual respect. In meetings this morning, we have begun to explore ways—such as education and humanitarian service—in which our respective members and others can serve and move forward together, lifting our brothers and sisters who need our help, just as our Savior, Jesus Christ, would have us do. These are His words: “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27).

Together we invite all people, organizations, and governments to work with greater civility, eliminating prejudice of all kinds, and focusing more on the many areas and interests that we all have in common. As we lead our people to work cooperatively, we will all achieve the respect, regard, and blessings that God seeks for all of His children.

Considering the toxic environment of most social media, the online public square and the real public square, this is good council for all people to follow. Latter-day Saints can and should lead the way in promoting civility. Let’s get to it!

All Flowers Remind Me

Happy Mother’s Day to all who inspire us on this wonderful day!

May your day be blessed, May those you love rise up and honor you.

And if we are disappointed at times, let us remember that mother who learned after some days of travel that she’d left her son behind in the city. Even the best of mothers sometime have moments that aren’t Facebook perfect.

As we think of how we love and are loved by our mortal parents, let us think on how we are loved by our Heavenly parents.

A “Heartland” Book of Mormon Exploration


Those who believe that The Book of Mormon events took place in North America often quote:

In the almost complete absence of written records, one must be permitted to guess, because there is nothing else to do; and when guessing is the only method of determination, one man’s skill is almost as good as another’s. An informed guess is a contradiction of terms, so our initial shock of nondiscovery was tempered by a warm glow of complacency, on finding that the rankest amateur in our party was able to pontificate on the identity and nature of most objects as well as anybody else.

. . . Counterparts to the great ritual complexes of Central America once dotted the entire eastern United States, the most notable being the Hopewell culture centering in Ohio and spreading out for hundreds of miles along the entire length of the Mississippi River. These are now believed to be definitely related to corresponding centers in Mesoamerica.

— Hugh Nibley, The Prophetic Book of Mormon, “Ancient Temples: What do they Signify?”

Unlike what “Heartland” supporters imply, he wasn’t in agreement with them. The use of the quotation is not problematic, but the interpretation assigned is far from the mark. The late and legendary Hugh Nibley was fascinated by the Hopewell tradition, but he didn’t believe they were part of the Nephite civilization. To him they represented the transfer of Nephite cultural ideas to others before getting wiped out in wars. An argument could be made that he was wrong and the “Heartland” theory represents the main Nephite culture before spreading south. There is not a way at this point to know. One thing that Mesoamerican and “Heartland” supporters can agree on is that a competent New World historical picture is generally out of reach. A lot has been discovered, but what has not been written cannot be read. What has been translated is of a later date with most of the past having been lost or destroyed.

At the time of the publication of The Book of Mormon it was immediately presented as a religious history. Both internal and external documentationleft little room for classifying it as literary invention. That meant that history and geography was of huge importance. The first place proposed was starting at the New York area where Joseph Smith said he found (more accurately was shown) the location of the plates. From there North and South America were assumed to be Book of Mormon lands, with Central America the narrow neck of land. With all the traveling in the narrative such short distances, there was no way such a large area could be the background. Locations were shifted to the immediate New York area while leaving all other places alone. That made comments and discoveries by Joseph Smith in other areas of the country hard to understand except as anomalies. Then the Central American theory become popular and many textual and historical things started making sense to the point there really was no other realistic candidate. All anomalies of extra-narrative had been relegated to curiosities. That is until now. A new approach to the old geography seems rather hopeful. There is some promise to the re-examination, even if some old problems remain. Continue reading

A Meditation on the Rank of Eagle Scout

This is a guest post by Mormontarian, who describes himself as a small-town Midwest transplant, who grew up on the west coast but managed to flee without turning into a pillar of salt. He is a compulsive communicator, though it helps to read his work as though you were all hanging out at a diner, chatting over greasy-spoon steak and eggs on a slow Saturday morning.

My grandfather was an Eagle Scout. His two sons (my father and uncle) are Eagle Scouts. I (and my three brothers) are all Eagle Scouts. One might call this a family tradition.

My son is not an Eagle Scout. This caused my father some concern. In a moment of “family tradition”-motivated panic, he went so far as to offer my son $1000 if he would earn his Eagle. That was when a series of realizations finally crystallized for me.

The rank itself is burdened with superfluous meaning that has been layered on for a long time. But it was clearly very important to my father, and I admit that I was pretty proud of myself when I got mine back in the day. Was I robbing my son by not pushing him to do this? I wasn’t sure.

So I sat down and took a good hard look at Eagle, breaking it down to the fundamental lessons it seems designed to teach. This required setting aside a volume of mystique and tradition. Is Eagle important because you learn first aid? How to pitch a tent? Who your elected representatives are? Those things are fine and good to know, and having a structure in place to learn those things is useful, but are they the fundamental lessons? Are they the things Eagle teaches?

Ultimately, no. In searching for those, I found three concepts that might be described as pearls of great price.

Lesson the First: Delayed Gratification Continue reading