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Author of Prophecies and Promises


David Bokovoy

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On another LDS themed message board, a poster drew attention to a quote written by Bruce H. Porter, co-author of the now infamous book, Prophecies and Promises - The Book of Mormon and the United States of America. In Porter's statement, he offers the following comment concerning those who support a Mesoamerican link with the Book of Mormon:

"It will be a long and tedious fight to get those who have spent, and earned so much money on the Central America theories... to give credit to Joseph Smith"

I have to wonder, to whom precisely does Porter refer to as the individuals who have "earned so much money on the Central American theories" and therefore refuse to "give credit to Joseph Smith"? Brant Gardner? John Sorenson?

As one who has had a bit of exposure to scholarly research and publication with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute, I have a hard time believing that these individuals have earned much of anything off of their sincere efforts to advance their scholarly research on Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon. It just doesn't happen, folks. In fact, the only way that people can make money in this field is by leading tours to Book of Mormon lands. Though I've never directed one personally, I know for a fact that LDS tours of this nature can and do bring in a significant amount of money.

I find the fact fascinating therefore that in the introduction to the same quote, Porter, i.e. co-author of the infamous book in question, tells us that today, he "now [makes his living] lead[ing] LDS scripture tours mostly to the middle east and church history sites."

In terms of leading tours to Book of Mormon sites, you can find his business advertised here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKjH5ftAEWc

In other words, Porter is making money advancing his specific geographic model.

Now, I have no problem with anyone earning money leading LDS tours. Some of my closest friends have done so. I do have a serious problem, however, with individuals who are making quite a bit of money promoting a specific geographic model for the Book of Mormon turning around and criticizing those who for academic reasons do not accept their ideas as valid with a statement that suggests that those who promote a Central American theory have "earned so much money" off of their work. Unless they're directing tours, they haven't "earned so much money" advancing a Mesoamerican model. Making money is what tour guides such as Porter and his ilk are doing, and it personally makes me a bit ill to see the pot calling the kettle black, especially in areas pertaining to religious faith and academic research.

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Here's the full quote which I find so offense from a man who unlike LDS scholars who advocate a Mesoamerican connection with the Book of Mormon, literally earns his living promoting his specific, highly questionable geographic model for the Book of Mormon:

"If I may introduce myself, my name is [name withheld] and live in the Mesa Arizona area, and would like you to know how much I appreciate the work you've done on DNA in the Book of Mormon,... I have been an Institute director and teacher, worked for BYU in the Religion Dept. and in the Religious Study Center, and worked for the church doing specialized scripture research, and now lead LDS scripture tours mostly to the middle east and church history sites. 25 years ago I realized that the statements of Joseph Smith did not jive with the standard theories about the Book of Mormon lands, and I refused to teach those traditions and theories. In working for the Church I was told to use for research only: 1) the scriptures 2) Joseph Smith and 3) the words of the Prophets, while they were prophets. All else was to be considered opinion. This is why I couldn't go along with the traditional sites of Book of Mormon Lands, as well as numerous textual evidences within the Book itself. My fields of study were ancient languages and religions of the Ancient Near East, and have degrees in Hebrew, Egyptology, The History of Religion, and others. Many years ago I had a paper published in a book honoring Hugh Nibley called "By Study and Also by Faith" vol. 1, after viewing your DVD I remembered an article in the same volume by Cyrus Gordon, then the foremost scholar in Semitic languages in the world. Gordon spoke of the mounds in the river valleys in the United States and the Hebrew wittings there, oceanic migrations to there and even old Middle Eastern coins found in some of these mounds. Another note on the textural evidence has something to do with the Semitic way of writing and that is a phrase that should not be over looked which is "this land" in the Book of Mormon that phrase means "where I/we stand" i.e. "this is the place" along with the statements about the New Jerusalem by Christ and Moroni it always uses the phrase "this land" the statement "the land" is more general but "this land" is important with the modern prophecies. Like so many other things science has again proved that Joseph Smith is a prophet and did know what he talked about. ; It will be a long and tedious fight to get those who have spent, and earned so much money on the Central America theories as well as their reputations and books, to give credit to Joseph Smith and the DNA evidence. The truth will prevail."

In addition, please note that via this quote from Bruce Porter, both he and Meldrum have specifically violated Church policy. CES employees sign a contract that specifically prohibits them or anyone else from using the employee's present and/or former affiliation with CES as a means to endorse a financial product, including the promotion of lectures, book, and tours. The fact that these men have done so while pointing their fingers at those who really aren't making money off of their scholarship is more than despicable!

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If you're willing to organize a trip with a least 5 people here's an offer from Bruce Porter's company to get a free ticket:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbeHaADxjCU

And here's another personal scene advertising Bruce Porter, i.e. the man who suggests that LDS scholars who advance a Mesoamerican model for the Book of Mormon have simply earned too much money from their work to turn back and accept his and Meldrum's model:

Here's the full quote which I find so offense from a man who unlike LDS scholars who advocate a Mesoamerican connection with the Book of Mormon, literally earns his living promoting his specific, highly questionable geographic model for the Book of Mormon:

"If I may introduce myself, my name is [name withheld] and live in the Mesa Arizona area, and would like you to know how much I appreciate the work you've done on DNA in the Book of Mormon,... I have been an Institute director and teacher, worked for BYU in the Religion Dept. and in the Religious Study Center, and worked for the church doing specialized scripture research, and now lead LDS scripture tours mostly to the middle east and church history sites. 25 years ago I realized that the statements of Joseph Smith did not jive with the standard theories about the Book of Mormon lands, and I refused to teach those traditions and theories. In working for the Church I was told to use for research only: 1) the scriptures 2) Joseph Smith and 3) the words of the Prophets, while they were prophets. All else was to be considered opinion. This is why I couldn't go along with the traditional sites of Book of Mormon Lands, as well as numerous textual evidences within the Book itself. My fields of study were ancient languages and religions of the Ancient Near East, and have degrees in Hebrew, Egyptology, The History of Religion, and others. Many years ago I had a paper published in a book honoring Hugh Nibley called "By Study and Also by Faith" vol. 1, after viewing your DVD I remembered an article in the same volume by Cyrus Gordon, then the foremost scholar in Semitic languages in the world. Gordon spoke of the mounds in the river valleys in the United States and the Hebrew wittings there, oceanic migrations to there and even old Middle Eastern coins found in some of these mounds. Another note on the textural evidence has something to do with the Semitic way of writing and that is a phrase that should not be over looked which is "this land" in the Book of Mormon that phrase means "where I/we stand" i.e. "this is the place" along with the statements about the New Jerusalem by Christ and Moroni it always uses the phrase "this land" the statement "the land" is more general but "this land" is important with the modern prophecies. Like so many other things science has again proved that Joseph Smith is a prophet and did know what he talked about. ; It will be a long and tedious fight to get those who have spent, and earned so much money on the Central America theories as well as their reputations and books, to give credit to Joseph Smith and the DNA evidence. The truth will prevail."

In addition, please note that via this quote from Bruce Porter, both he and Meldrum have specifically violated Church policy. CES employees sign a contract that specifically prohibits them or anyone else from using the employee's present and/or former affiliation with CES as a means to endorse a financial product, including the promotion of lectures, book, and tours. The fact that these men have done so while pointing their fingers at those who really aren't making money off of their scholarship is more than despicable!

Ouch!

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Ouch!

Indeed! I think people need to realize why so many folks are up in arms about these people. It's not simply a concern regarding the promotion of bad scholarship which flies in the face of advanced theories presented by LDS scholars with backgrounds in Mesoamerican studies. It's the way they've gone about their financial efforts in order to make a name and money for themselves that many rightfully find offensive.

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David,

I have noticed a trend as of late that really does concern me. I have observed numerous occurrences in which supporters of a North American/non-Mesoamerican Book of Mormon geography will vociferously criticize and attack not merely the LGT/Mesoamerican geography position, but the actual scholars or organizations or individuals who take such a position. The example that you quoted pertaining to an accusation of profit-motivated behavior amongst scholars who take the Mesoamerican position is an example of this.

However, what concerns me even more than that is how faithful members of the Church seem to have their faith and membership-standing in question if they take the Mesoamerican position, because there seems to be an implication by certain individuals that such members are rejecting the scriptures and Joseph Smith.

The second-to-last sentence of the larger quotation that you posted has a familiar ring to it as some of the message board posts and comments I have come across from others. While I personally take the LGT/Mesoamerican position on Book of Mormon geography, I do not belittle or question the faithfulness or character of anyone who disagrees with it--and I certainly do not do so with some sort of zeal about the "truth prevailing."

It is difficult to be united as a Church in one heart and one mind when such divisiveness and tones of criticism are present.

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Going on and giving tours not bad, not bad at all.

Using your experience as a CES instructor to validate your tours is not good (not terrible either in my eyes), but is a conflict of interest. It smacks of the logical fallacy of an argument from authority.

What is plainly wrong and despicable is a couple of things such as making the member who does not subscribe to their views feel as if they are speaking evil of the Lords Anointed. This happens when they point to a general authority such as Hartman Rector Jr or an obscure quote from a past leader ignoring all else said from the very same leaders they quote. They give firesides and at these firesides they will promote their books and DVDs and sell them in the foyers of church buildings and criticize those who feel differently from them. They use ringers in their audience to say the answers they want to hear such as the quote "from the east to the rocky mountains, now brothers and sisters what body of water would that be referring to?" and before anyone can say something the inside sister says "Lake Ontario" and they say "yes exactly" and go on from there as if all has been answered.

Nothing wrong with the tours and nothing wrong in giving tours IMO just dont use the church to say your right and others are wrong or as a means to build up money rather than building up faith.

I really, really, respect Mark Wright in this way. He sells no books, he sells no DVDs, he does not say others are wrong, He only asks for a place to stay and reimbursement for his traveling to get to wherever his fireside is. He promotes not a single thing that will add to his wallet. His main purpose in his firesides are to bring people to a greater love for the Book of Mormon to build their faith and to show interesting facts about Mesoamerica that could fit well within that Holy and Inspired book. He lets you make up your own mind and it doesn't offend him if they do not match with his own ideas.

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David,

You are obviously just one of those over-paid FARMS hacks that feels the need to de-emphasize the great contributions of Joseph Smith Jr. :P America must be the promised land because it is OUR promised land and the Book of Mormon says several times that it was written for US! ;)

- SlackTime :crazy::fool::)

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Going on and giving tours not bad, not bad at all.

Using your experience as a CES instructor to validate your tours is not good (not terrible either in my eyes), but is a conflict of interest. It smacks of the logical fallacy of an argument from authority.

What is plainly wrong and despicable is a couple of things such as making the member who does not subscribe to their views feel as if they are speaking evil of the Lords Anointed. This happens when they point to a general authority such as Hartman Rector Jr or an obscure quote from a past leader ignoring all else said from the very same leaders they quote. They give firesides and at these firesides they will promote their books and DVDs and sell them in the foyers of church buildings and criticize those who feel differently from them. They use ringers in their audience to say the answers they want to hear such as the quote "from the east to the rocky mountains, now brothers and sisters what body of water would that be referring to?" and before anyone can say something the inside sister says "Lake Ontario" and they say "yes exactly" and go on from there as if all has been answered.

Nothing wrong with the tours and nothing wrong in giving tours IMO just dont use the church to say your right and others are wrong or as a means to build up money rather than building up faith.

I really, really, respect Mark Wright in this way. He sells no books, he sells no DVDs, he does not say others are wrong, He only asks for a place to stay and reimbursement for his traveling to get to wherever his fireside is. He promotes not a single thing that will add to his wallet. His main purpose in his firesides are to bring people to a greater love for the Book of Mormon to build their faith and to show interesting facts about Mesoamerica that could fit well within that Holy and Inspired book. He lets you make up your own mind and it doesn't offend him if they do not match with his own ideas.

No doubt Mark Wright is clearly the Mesoamerican Bomb! He has acquired an expertise and should be, in my opinion, handsomely rewarded for his efforts. I have no problem with scholars, lecturers, authors, tour guides, etc. earning a living by sharing what they love with the public.

If, however, Mark was to make his living this way while attacking other Latter-day Saints who disagree with his ideas as individuals who are unwilling to give credit to the Prophet Joseph Smith because they were making too much money off of their views, when in truth only Mark and not those who disagreed with him was really earning "so much money," I would have a major problem with Mark's approach.

Fortunately for those of us who admire Mark, it's the authors of the now infamous LDS snake oil book that opt for this hypocritical approach, not Mark Wright.

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And here's another personal scene advertising Bruce Porter, i.e. the man who suggests that LDS scholars who advance a Mesoamerican model for the Book of Mormon have simply earned too much money from their work to turn back and accept his and Meldrum's model:

Wow. Looks like he's really pushing a Middle Eastern/Israel geography for the New Testament too.

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David,

I have noticed a trend as of late that really does concern me. I have observed numerous occurrences in which supporters of a North American/non-Mesoamerican Book of Mormon geography will vociferously criticize and attack not merely the LGT/Mesoamerican geography position, but the actual scholars or organizations or individuals who take such a position. The example that you quoted pertaining to an accusation of profit-motivated behavior amongst scholars who take the Mesoamerican position is an example of this.

However, what concerns me even more than that is how faithful members of the Church seem to have their faith and membership-standing in question if they take the Mesoamerican position, because there seems to be an implication by certain individuals that such members are rejecting the scriptures and Joseph Smith.

The second-to-last sentence of the larger quotation that you posted has a familiar ring to it as some of the message board posts and comments I have come across from others. While I personally take the LGT/Mesoamerican position on Book of Mormon geography, I do not belittle or question the faithfulness or character of anyone who disagrees with it--and I certainly do not do so with some sort of zeal about the "truth prevailing."

It is difficult to be united as a Church in one heart and one mind when such divisiveness and tones of criticism are present.

I couldn't agree more. I'm honestly beginning to believe that there is an unholy desire connected with fortune and fame that lies at the root of these divisive efforts. I too was disturbed by the line:

"In working for the Church I was told to use for research only: 1) the scriptures 2) Joseph Smith and 3) the words of the Prophets, while they were prophets."

I work for the Church and have never, EVER in my entire life been told to use only the scriptures, Joseph Smith, and the words of the living Prophets for my research. Such a stance would directly violate the Lord's mandate to seek words of wisdom out of all of the best books. Moreover, I'm bothered by the implicit suggestion that believing scholars who adhere to a Mesoamerican geographic model somehow do not use these things in their research.

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I couldn't agree more. I'm honestly beginning to believe that there is an unholy desire connected with fortune and fame that lies at the root of these divisive efforts. I too was disturbed by the line:

"In working for the Church I was told to use for research only: 1) the scriptures 2) Joseph Smith and 3) the words of the Prophets, while they were prophets."

I work for the Church and have never, EVER in my entire life been told to use only the scriptures, Joseph Smith, and the word of the living Prophets for my research. Such a stance would directly violate the Lord's mandate to seek words of wisdom out of the best books. Moreover, I'm bothered by the implicit suggestion that believing scholars who adhere to a Mesoamerican geographic model somehow do not use these things in their research.

I thought that even the Bible Dictionary used sources other than just the scriptures.

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No doubt Mark Wright is clearly the Mesoamerican Bomb! He has acquired an expertise and should be, in my opinion, handsomely rewarded for his efforts. I have no problem with scholars, lecturers, authors, tour guides, etc. earning a living by sharing what they love with the public.

If, however, Mark was to make his living this way while attacking other Latter-day Saints who disagree with his ideas as individuals who are unwilling to give credit to the Prophet Joseph Smith because they were making too much money off of their views, when in truth only Mark and not those who disagreed with him was really earning "so much money," I would have a major problem with Mark's approach.

Fortunately for those of us who admire Mark, it's the authors of the now infamous LDS snake oil book that opt for this hypocritical approach, not Mark Wright.

Yes that is what I meant. I have no problem with scholars selling their books. In fact I have one of yours and six of Brother Gardners and about a hundred others... I like to see the authors at Deseret Book or some other book store so I can have a signed copy. But I think it is wrong to have them being sold from a church gym or foyer for ones own profit, IMO it looks bad, (some fund raisers like bake sales are okay). I have no problem with brother Meldrum or Porter or anyone else selling their stuff from a secular place. I still however have major problems like the ones you mentioned in the OP on their tactics.

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David,

FWIW, when I read Bruce Porter's statement, I immediately sensed that he was talking about those he views as competitors, chiefly, those who lead tours in Central America. I assume

he has designs on or does lead BofM tours in North America. I never felt he was going after LDS scholars per se, just those who were profiting directly from leading tours. Certainly,however, it would be to his advantage if prominent LDS scholars espoused Porter's views. Mesoamerica tour leaders I suppose have that "endorsement", if you want to use that term.

Yes, it is business, but I don't see it as a negative unless he has agreed to something specific in his employment preventing him from marketing his claims. Perhaps he has done that. I wouldn't know.

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David,

FWIW, when I read Bruce Porter's statement, I immediately sensed that he was talking about those he views as competitors, chiefly, those who lead tours in Central America. I assume he has designs on or does lead BofM tours in North America. I never felt he was going after LDS scholars per se, just those who were profiting directly from leading tours.

Meldrum, Porter's co-author, certainly has gone after any and all who disagreed. He cited material from Sorenson, Matt Roper, and Jeff Lindsay and then juxtaposed it with a quote from Pres Hinckley about rejecting the fruit of the gospel, etc.

See here:

http://www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/MisguidedF.html

Roper and Lindsay certainly aren't making money of Mesoamerica, or leading tours there. I doubt that Sorenson does either. Sorenson's written a few books, but I doubt he's made much money on them, especially considering that he was circulating these ideas since the mid 1950s--pretty lousy income stream if you wait until 1985 to write your first book. :-) Is that even minimum wage? :-)

There's also Porter quotes on the the new 5 disc DVD which make it very clear that the net is pretty broad, and not limited to those who are leading tours. If you don't agree that Joseph knew where the Book of Mormon happened AND that Meldrum and Porter got it right, then you're dismissing and rejecting Joseph's prophetic call.

GLS

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Persoanlly, I would never lead or design a BoM tourr, not in North America, not in South America. I would not feel right taking people's money to show them a complete hypothetical.

Guiding tours is something I've been doing on an amateur basis for years back home in Israel, and had nearly taken the course to become licensed, before my plans changed. For me, if I take someone somewhere it has to be honest on my part, providing them with the very best for their money, so to speak.

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One thing i don't like is how they claim the Lord has told us were it all is.

I like what Bill Hamblin likes to say:

George Q. Cannon, a member of the First Presidency, wrote in 1890, "The First Presidency have often been asked to prepare some suggestive map illustrative of Nephite geography, but have never consented to do so. Nor are we acquainted with any of the Twelve Apostles who would undertake such a task. The reason is, that without further information they are not prepared even to suggest(39)."
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This is one of the major techniques employed by Meldrum and his associates. They actively cast doubt on the motivations of people who make arguments in opposition to them. This is usually done in two ways. First, as seen in the discussion above, they argue that people cannot back down from their positions because it will hurt them financially. Second, they argue that scholars have built their entire careers on a position, and that they cannot reverse their arguments without invalidating their life's work.

These kind of song-and-dance moves reveal the weakness of their position and their lack of consideration for the maintenance of a research-oriented dialog. If their position was that strong, they could simply focus on it and let the argument stand on its own. Unfortunately for them, their position is not strong, and they feel the need to supplement their arguments with these kinds of superficial props.

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