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About mapman

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    Senior Member: Divides Heaven & Earth

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  1. I reported it a couple hours ago. It seems like the mods haven't been as involved as much recently and take longer to take action (just my impression, I could be wrong). I definitely feel the same way about the topic as you, but I don't think this is the right board to discuss it unless we are talking about a quote from a church leader or something. This thread has been pretty much devoid of any mention of the church so it seems off-topic.
  2. What's with the spamming of political stuff that doesn't have anything to do with Mormonism?
  3. Getting recommendations from seminary teachers has been a thing for a long time, at least since 2011 when I applied. When I was a student I had a job where I helped prospective students calling in asking about the application and we would occasionally get questions about whether seminary was a requirement to get in. We were told to tell them that it wasn't a requirement and that they would take into account their whole situation (like if they were a non-member or recent convert) and that if they wanted to there was a section of the application where they can explain their situation. It's interesting that they would be emphasizing it more now, like others here have said I'm not actually sure that it corresponds so well to qualified students as they think. It's also worth noting that if you have (I think 12) credits from another university, you fill out a different application and you don't have to submit anything from high school including seminary.
  4. As others have mentioned, if you were to write the symbols small enough there would be enough room to fit the Book of Mormon in Hebrew on the golden plates based off of the witnesses descriptions. Obviously no one knows how all of this worked for sure, but I think there is another possibility: that the BoM wasn't a literal translation of the plates, and that it is longer than what was actually written on the ancient record. Consider Mormon 9:32-33: "And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record." The meaning of this passage is ambiguous, but it implies that Reformed Egyptian was significantly more compact than Hebrew. I'm not positive what was meant that writing in Hebrew would make it perfect, but I think it could mean that the literal meaning of the words would have been written down in Hebrew, allowing for direct translation instead of translating through revelation in a seer stone. Before knowledge of the translation of the Rosetta Stone became widespread, it was commonly believed (especially among those of an esoteric or mystical bent) to regard hieroglyphics as emblems that contained ancient wisdom hidden within them. Their meanings were discerned through revelation, intuition, or mystical methods, and then formulated into common language. Thus one symbol was taken to represent a whole set of ideas. For example, Athanasius Kircher translated the symbols that modern Egyptologists read as dd Wsr, "Osiris says," as "The treachery of Typhon ends at the throne of Isis, the moisture of nature is guarded by the vigilance of Anubis." This understanding of hieroglyphics is demonstrated in the Kirtland Egyptian papers, where individual symbols are sometimes interpreted as whole paragraphs of text. The symbols are interpreted in different ways in different "degrees", and not in the way that Egyptologists have discovered they mean, suggesting that these interpretations were received by inspiration and are not literal translations. I don't know that this is actually how the Book of Mormon was revealed to Joseph Smith (and the doctrines of the book are more important anyways), but it is an interesting idea to me. It does leave us with the question of what was actually written on the golden plates.
  5. It's interesting how similar the uncertainty expressed by Elder Ballard over this is to the repeated insistence of "we don't know" with how the priesthood ban began. This despite that we've known for a while now how the priesthood ban began, and I would assume it wouldn't be too hard to find the origins of this either. In any case, the important thing is that it is something that was taught by the leaders of the church. Perhaps if Elder Oaks weren't so insistent that the church never apologizes we wouldn't have all these lame attempts to divert responsibility from the leaders of the church. It sounds like they are trying to reform some of the bad practices in the mission, which I wholeheartedly welcome. The thing that bothered me the most on my mission was when other missionaries treated baptism flippantly like something that belongs to them, or something they can stick on their resume for being advanced in leadership. I felt like I was blessed to be able to play a part in their baptism, a sacred and life-transforming event in their lives. I wonder if some returned missionaries now feel regret for being too pushy with people.
  6. 8/9 of my immediate family (including me) are active members still. The other one had his name removed, but from what I understand will still occasionally go to church things if invited. On my mom's side of the family, my grandparents are very active, and I think that something like 3/4 of my aunts and uncles on that side are active members. The majority of my cousins are active as well as far as I know, though its probably more like 2/3 of them. My mom's family has been in the church for many generations, some of the lines going back to the 1830s. Generally speaking, this side of the family is either very conservative or wants nothing to do with Utah or the church. On my dad's side, my grandparents are active, as well as all of their kids as far as I'm aware. I think almost all of my cousins are active. There's only one of them that I know is inactive, maybe two others as well, so like 95% active (I have a lot of cousins). My grandparents are converts. I've noticed that generally on my dad's side people don't care as much about cultural traditions and aren't as dogmatic in their views, which might explain why more of them are still active members. Back in the 70s several of my great-uncles joined a polygamist group and tried to get my grandpa and my dad to join them by showing them various statements by Brigham Young about polygamy. I think they had to figure out what they believed about the church and came out on the side of sticking with it, but a little more nuanced.
  7. He is saying that he is absolutely sure that a religion is "false." He sounds like a fundamentalist to me. Plenty of members and ex-mormons are fundamentalists, they just latch on to different simplistic worldviews. The rest of us can be more nuanced knowing that there is still a lot to learn and that no religion or philosophy is pure truth or pure falsehood. Ultimately, the question of the truth of our religion is whether the principles of the Gospel described in the Book of Mormon lead us back to God or not, and you can't know that from reading books. Anyways, he is obviously completely oblivious to how history works. I don't know if there is ever a point where you can say we know everything about a subject, and even if there is, we are definitely nowhere close to being there when it comes to the origins of Mormonism. The origins of Mormonism has actually got to be one of the most ambiguous episodes in the history of religion in America, and is an active area of research, so I don't even know what he's on about. I agree with him that leaders of the church and curriculum have taught a lot of bad history, but it doesn't make Joseph Smith a charlatan that things got sugar-coated and twisted.
  8. There's an uncanonized revelation of Joseph Smith that lays out a process for the church body to try members of the first presidency for "transgression." Back then there was the stake of Zion in Missouri with the high council, and then various stakes and branches of the church in different locations. According to this revelation, the high council can put the first presidency on trial, present three witnesses to testify against them, and then vote whether to remove them. Then it would go to the rest of the church for a vote, and We no longer have a central stake, so this process wouldn't work any more. If there is some sort of updated process put in place for us to try the president of the church, they haven't told us what it is. Edited to add: From what I understand, I think that the quorum of the twelve is understood to be a high council when it comes to church discipline, something like the Supreme Court. So maybe discipline against the first presidency would have to start with the apostles.
  9. It seems to me that resources are better spent on reaching out to people more likely to be open-minded. Arguments could be made that the subreddit provides a space for venting or whatever, but from what I've seen it is more of cesspool that just tends to make people angry instead of working through their pain. The community seems pretty similar to the atheism subreddit in a lot of ways, and neither are particularly interested in considering alternative views that contradict their narratives. r/latterdaysaints actually has some pretty good discussions, and a variety of viewpoints represented, so maybe they would be better (r/dankchristianmemes is my favorite religion-themed sub though).
  10. I forgot to add that I don't think there is any way to tell whether the hieroglyphics or the BoA text were placed on the early manuscripts first. I think you could conclude that the first thing they did was draw a line down it, so I think it shows that they were at least planning on putting both characters and text before they started writing it out. I think it was Gee who suggested that the characters could just be decoration, but that seems pretty implausible to me. Yeah, the first three verses from what I understand are the only ones which share exact phrasing with the "alphabet" documents. There obviously are lots of similar themes and concepts shared with the rest of the BoA, but there is no obvious textual dependence. The first three verses are also noticeably more complex and repetitive compared to the rest of the text. The three oldest BoA manuscripts (the ones with the characters written in a column on the side) also show that the first three verses were produced separately first. The oldest one only goes through verse three (until another scribe added on more afterwards), and the other two start on verse 4. I'm convinced that the Egyptian alphabets precede these first three verses, and that these verses are based off of the alphabets. What I disagree with Christopher Smith is that the GAEL precedes the first three verses as well. The GAEL is an expansion of the previous alphabet documents, but if you look at the order of the words, they are the same except that the characters and words associated with the first three verses are moved to the top of the list, which to me means that the GAEL actually postdates the first three verses. The GAEL probably precedes the rest of the BoA, but like I said, I don't think there are any direct textual connections between the rest of the GAEL and the rest of the BoA. From what I can gather, the Egyptian alphabet documents were meant to be something of a dictionary as part of the on-going project of restoring the "pure language" of Adam, and so they were a related but separate project from the BoA translation. They are divided into five "parts," of which the first part is apparently based on the documents related to Katumin that were from a separate papyrus roll, the second part incorporates stuff from previous revelations on the pure language and don't even come from the papyrus, and the rest of the characters come from the part of the papyrus immediately to the right of Facsimile 1. I imagine if they had the chance they would have added explanations from the rolls thought to contain the writings of Joseph, etc.
  11. The best paper I've read on the topic is "The Dependence of Abraham 1:1-3 on the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar" by Christopher Smith. It doesn't get into the tedious debates about how long scrolls were and stuff, just attempts to show that the first three verses are dependent on the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar. From my personal research, I actually disagree with his interpretation, but I think it's a pretty good paper. I think the polemics around the Book of Abraham have tended towards over-simplified explanations. People tend to either want to prove that the Book of Abraham text was received before any of the Egyptian alphabet stuff, while other people want to make it seem like the whole Book of Abraham is based off of the alphabet stuff. In my opinion, they were parallel projects that influenced each other. I'm happy to explain further if you're interested. In any case, from Joseph Smith's journals you can see that he was entirely on board with the whole Egyptian alphabet project, and the papers demonstrate that they believed that at least the beginning of the Book of Abraham text came from the papyrus immediately to the left of "Facsimile 1" which still exists.
  12. I was thinking of the people that buy into the escaping and recovering from Mormonism idea that congregate at places like the exmormon subreddit who join a community instead of just stop going to church like most people. But you're right that's a more accurate comparison. There are communities of Latter-day Saints that are very knowledgeable about the history as well.
  13. I've only read the treasure seeking article, but at least in that case the author definitely seems to depend heavily on a couple of authors that wrote on the topic back in the 80s and 90s (Mike Quinn and Dan Vogel). There's nothing wrong with those authors, both have done very useful research, but it seems to indicate a lack of depth in understanding and comes off as unprofessional as there have been numerous books and articles written on the topic since then. I got a degree in history, so maybe I expect too much of people, but I feel like if you are going to pretend like you are promoting more accurate history than what the church has made, then you need to get an actual historian to write the articles. In my opinion the Gospel Topics essays aren't the most amazing things ever either, but they are much better than what Dehlin's come up with. It disturbs me that people are so easily convinced that one particular book or article has the "true" history of what happened. It's always a good idea to read multiple takes on a topic. I think this is especially true in the realm of religious history. While your average ex-Mormon might be aware of more historical facts than your average church member, I don't think there's any reason to think that they are any better at doing history. It's seems like a lot of people just switch from wholehearted belief in one narrative to wholehearted belief in another. To be fair, not everyone has the time or resources to do lots of historical research. But I'm convinced that a lot of our historical narratives are going to be revised by historians in the future, and it probably won't look like neither the church's current narratives or the anti-Mormon narratives.
  14. What I don't get is how Elder Oaks seems to think these kids should've known better. How could they have known better if it's not in the handbook and not ever taught in general conference or in church publications? He's got to be aware that it's not actually an official policy, right? I want to be charitable, but lately Elder Oaks just seems to be in an entirely different universe from my reality sometimes.
  15. Masonic histories that were available in the early 1800s often included these stories. Like this book, for example. It makes me wonder how much of the Masonic myths Joseph Smith was aware of. From what I understand all of the medieval Masonic manuscripts trace their origins back to Egypt. The Egyptian mysteries were traced back to the antediluvian stone pillars that were supposed to have been rediscovered by the Egyptians and were written by Enoch in some versions of the story. That's a really old story and shows up in Josephus and lots of other places. Alchemy and hermeticism also traditionally traced their origins to this same story. Whether there is any truth to it, it's hard to say. I'm doubtful whether any of the specific rituals can be traced back that far, but some aspects of the general esoteric worldview and cosmology can be plausibly traced back to antiquity.
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