Refuting the errors of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland hoax

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Oliver Cowdery and Lehi’s landing site

According to Heartlanders like Jonathan Neville, Oliver Cowdery is the most important general authority in the history of the Church. After all, it was Oliver who wrote the infamous “Letter VII” that (supposedly) confirms that the hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon is in western New York state.

Neville and other Heartlanders have set up a kiosk on Main Street in Palmyra, New York, area, dedicated not to Joseph Smith, nor to Moroni, nor to the Book of Mormon, but as a memorial to Oliver Cowdery. The kiosk (naturally) includes excepts from Letter VII and was erected, according to Neville, to combat the falsehoods taught in the nearby Hill Cumorah Visitors Center operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has succumbed to the evil machinations of “revisionist Church historians who are systematically erasing Church history to accommodate the M2C* intellectuals.” Because of this kiosk, Neville explains, “visitors to Palmyra can at least learn the truth about what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah,” truths they won’t learn from Church missionaries whom Neville asserts are teaching falsehoods.

Neville may even believe that Oliver Cowdery’s Letter VII is more reliable than Joseph Smith’s 1838 history, portions of which are canonized as Joseph Smith—History in the Pearl of Great Price. Oliver wrote Letter VII himself, while the 1838 history, according to Neville, “was not written by, and probably not dictated by, Joseph Smith. Instead, it was compiled by his scribes beginning in 1838.” (Neville is mistaken about this, of course.)

Neville is quick to gainsay any teaching, old or new, that he believes is contrary to the teachings of Oliver Cowdery. One example of this is the early Latter-day Saint belief that the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi landed on the coast of modern-day Chile. (Neville teaches that Lehi landed in the Florida panhandle near present-day Tallahassee.) Neville claims that the idea of the Chile landing site originated with a mistaken comment by Frederick G. Williams that was promulgated by Orson Pratt.

The Frederick G. Williams origin theory of the Chile landing site was plausible thirty years ago, but Neville hasn’t kept up with the scholarship. There’s an even earlier claim that Lehi landed in Chile, and it happens to be connected to…[wait for it]…Oliver Cowdery.

On November 18, 1830, the Observer and Telegraph newspaper of Hudson, Ohio, reported about the first Mormon missionaries who were teaching in the area. Oliver Cowdery, Ziba Peterson, Parley P. Pratt, and Peter Whitmer Jr. had stopped in Kirtland, Ohio, on their way to Missouri to preach to the Native Americas (the “Lamanite Mission”—see D&C 28:8; 32:1–5). In October and November 1830, the four missionaries baptized about 130 converts in northeast Ohio.

The Observer and Telegraph article reports that the missionary group was comprised of “four individuals,” but it mentions only Oliver Cowdery by name. The tone of the article is sarcastic and dismissive of the missionaries’ testimony, and it does garble some facts concerning the translation of the Book of Mormon. It does, however, provide a statement so specific that it could only have come from Oliver Cowdery or one of his companions:
According to the narrative given by one of these disciples—Oliver Cowdery—at their late exhibition in Kirtland, this pretended Revelation was written on golden plates, or something resembling golden plates, of the thickness of tin—7 inches in length, 6 inches in breadth, and a pile about 6 inches deep. None among the most learned in the United States could read, and interpret the hand-writing, (save one, and he could decipher but a few lines correctly,) excepting this ignoramus, Joseph Smith, Jr. To him, they say, was given the spirit of interpretation; but he was ignorant of the art of writing, he employed this Oliver Cowdery and others to write, while he read, interpreted, and translated this mighty Revelation.…

This new Revelation, they say is especially designed for the benefit, or rather for the christianizing of the Aborigines of America; who, as they affirm, are a part of the tribe of Manasseh, and whose ancestors landed on the coast of Chili 600 years before the coming of Christ, and from them descended all the Indians of America.
Observer and Telegraph, Hudson, Ohio, November 18, 1830, Book of Mormon, Oliver Cowdery, Chile
(Images and a transcription of this newspaper article are available in BYU’s archive of 19th-century publications about the Book of Mormon.)

Since Oliver Cowdery’s witness, testimony, and knowledge are so critical to the beliefs of Jonathan Neville and other Heartlanders, I wonder if he would be willing to accept a South American landing site for Lehi, since that teaching is closely connected Oliver’s preaching in Ohio on his way to teach the Lamanites.

Personally, I don’t believe Lehi landed in Chile. I also don’t believe that any revelation has been received that reveals the locations of Book of Mormon sites (including the hill Cumorah). As the Church’s Gospel Topics essay on Book of Mormon geography affirms:
Since the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830, members and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have expressed numerous opinions about the specific locations of the events discussed in the book.… Although Church members continue to discuss such theories today, the Church’s only position is that the events the Book of Mormon describes took place in the ancient Americas.
Jonathan Neville, on the other hand, continues to insist—without evidence and contrary to official Church teachings—that Oliver Cowdery had divine knowledge of the location of the hill Cumorah. He insists that anyone who disagrees with him “rejects the teachings of the prophets,” but it is he who is rejecting the teachings of living prophets.

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Those who live in glass houses, pt. 9

(Part nine of a series.)

Jonathan Neville invites us to contemplate:
Imagine how much stronger the Church would be, and how much more united Latter-day Saints would be, if our scholars decided to support and corroborate the prophets on such basic topics as the truthfulness of the scriptures, the translation of the Book of Mormon and the New York Cumorah.
A glass houseThis, coming from the man who doesn’t support President Russell M. Nelson, the living prophet, on such a basic topic as the translation of the Book of Mormon.

This, coming from the man whose pet theory about the identity of the angel who appeared to Mary Whitmer contradicts the public teaching of Elder Gerrit W. Gong in October 2020 General Conference.

This, coming from the man who has implied that prophets, seers, and revelators who speak in General Conference have strayed from teaching doctrinal and historical truths since 2008.

This, coming from the man who apparently believes that the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are dupes who don’t understand supposedly basic doctrines of the Restoration.

Happy 2021, everyone! It sadly appears that we’re in for another year of Jonathan Neville rejecting the teachings of the prophets.

—Peter Pan

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Neville-Neville Land 2020 year in review

2020 Hill Cumorah2020 was the second year of operation for this humble blog. This year we published 74 posts (75, including this one) examining the heterodox beliefs and assertions of Jonathan Neville and his comrades in the Heartland Book of Mormon movement.

Among the most significant developments this year, I would include the following:

In keeping with the tradition set last year, here are the top ten Neville-Neville Land posts for 2020 by number of views:

  1. FIRM Foundation accuses the Church of deceiving the elect (February 18, 2020)
  2. Jonathan Neville still doesn’t get it (March 3, 2019)
  3. When Heartlanders are unintentionally hilarious (February 29, 2020)
  4. My latest example of “outrage theater” (May 15, 2020)
  5. A response to Opie regarding Wayne May (July 26, 2020)
  6. Jonathan Neville vs. Royal Skousen (January 19, 2020)
  7. Wayne May and the apostasy of the Heartlanders (July 11, 2020)
  8. President M. Russell Ballard, M2C/SITH intellectual (April 20, 2020)
  9. Come, Follow Me 2021 doesn’t care about Jonathan Neville’s opinions (July 21, 2020)
  10. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, SITH intellectual (April 21, 2020)

Hopefully, 2021 will see Jonathan Neville back away from his extremist views and bring himself more in line with the teachings of the prophets regarding the Book of Mormon and how the Prophet Joseph Smith translated it.

—Peter Pan

Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Church warns against “energy healing”

For years Rodney Meldrum and the FIRM Foundation he operates have promoted so-called “energy healing.” Here are just a few examples:

This advertisement was in the PDF program for Meldrum’s April 2017 Book of Mormon Expo:

FIRM Foundation Book of Mormon Expo, April 2017, energy healing, page 14

Tamara Laing, whose book was promoted in that advertisement, gave presentations at Meldrum’s Book of Mormon Expo in April 2019 (PDF program, video clip) and in September 2020 (speaker biography). In this video presentation, Laing purports to answer questions like “Do prophets speak about life force energy?” and “Are auras and chakras in the Bible?” (1:06).

Other FIRM Foundation expos have featured Angie Christensen, a “certified neurofeedback and energy healer” (April 2017 PDF program). Meldrum’s podcast recently featured Lori Bean Henderson, a “certified energy healing practitioner and nutrition specialist” (December 2020). The FAQ for the Joseph Smith Foundation, which is closely connected to Meldrum, includes an answer to the question “What have LDS Church [sic] leaders taught concerning Christ-centered energy healing?” [Please see Anneʼs comment, below, clarifying this. — Peter]

Like most of the activities connected to Rod Meldrum, energy healing is big business. KUTV Salt Lake City reported in 2016 that Latter-day Saint practitioners of “energy healing” charge as much as $90 per hour. In their report, KUTV quoted Church spokesman Eric Hawkins, who said, “We urge Church members to be cautious about participating in any group that promises—in exchange for money—miraculous healings or that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of properly ordained priesthood holders.”

Yesterday (December 18, 2020), Church leaders came out more explictly and forcefully against “energy healing.” The General Handbook published by the Church that gives guidance to leaders and members now includes the following under the section “Medical and Health Policies”:
Members should not use or promote medical or health practices that are ethically, spiritually, or legally questionable. Those who have health problems should consult with competent medical professionals who are licensed in the areas where they practice.

In addition to seeking competent medical help, members of the Church are encouraged to follow the scriptural injunction in James 5:14 to “call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” Priesthood blessings of healing are given by those who hold the necessary priesthood office. They are given when requested and at no charge (see 18.13).

Church members are discouraged from seeking miraculous or supernatural healing from an individual or group that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of prayer and properly performed priesthood blessings. These practices are often referred to as “energy healing.” Other names are also used. Such promises for healing are often given in exchange for money.

(“Medical and Health Care,” 38.7.8)
The Church’s December 18th news release about the updated manual also mentioned this policy.

This is yet another example of how the Heartland movement is at odds with established doctrine and policy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rodney Meldrum and other Heartlanders promote fringe theories of questionable legitimacy that also happen to be quite profitable. This is not surprising, for Heartlanderism is, at its core, a moneymaking operation that preys on gullible and uninformed Latter-day Saints.

—Peter Pan

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

An excellent review of Nevilleʼs recent posts

Iʼve been unusually busy and dealing with an illness, both of which have kept me from blogging as much as I would like to have.

Fortunately, Spencer Kraus—whom I do not know personally—has posted a wonderful review of and response to Nevilleʼs recent activity and claims.

A brief except:
Neville [has] made it clear: he would rather stand with known critics of the Church and defend them than he would defend the Church itself over a petty squabble of “not everyone agrees with me.”

Make no mistake: Jonathan Neville is a critic of the Church. His unorthodox views would be forgivable if he did not make them unofficial articles of faith for the Church and attack those who disagree with him incessantly while trying to claim he respects them.

—Peter Pan

Friday, November 27, 2020

President Russell M. Nelson, SITH intellectual

It’s been rather quiet on this blog for the last month, mostly because Jonathan Neville has been posting deeply unfunny (and often inaccurate) memes instead of making actual claims that can be examined.

Today a friend of mine pointed me to this video on the Church’s website, which appears to have been posted last May and overlooked by me at the time. President Russell M. Nelson and Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President, discussed the translation of the Book of Mormon at the site in Pennsylvania where Joseph Smith translated it:
Note this interesting comment from President Nelson, beginning at timestamp 3:30:
We have a lot of suggestions about how it [the translation of the Book of Mormon] was done. We know that they [Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery] had a table like this. We know they had the golden plates, covered usually, and Joseph used these—the Urim and Thummim, seer stones—in the hat, and it was easier for him to see the light [from the stones] when he’d take that position [placing the hat to his face].
President Russell M. Nelson at Harmony, PennsylvaniaAfter this, President Nelson compared Joseph’s use of the stones in a hat to President Nelson’s use of a mobile phone to receive messages that only he can see. (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, another confirmed SITH intellectual, used the same analogy in a June 2016 Facebook post.)

And so we have yet another example of how Jonathan Neville’s insistent, repeated assertion that Joseph Smith never used a stone in a hat to translate the Book of Mormon is completely contrary to the teachings of living prophets and apostles, and how what Neville calls “the stone in the hat theory” (or “SITH”) isn’t simply part of some conspiracy by “intellectuals” to lead members of the Church astray.

My friend commented, tongue firmly in cheek, “Can a prophet be led astray? Yes, if the people leading him astray are the M2C* citation cartel and the fine young scholars at Book of Mormon Central. Neville should write to his stake president to express how he thinks President Nelson has been deceived.”

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Those who live in glass houses, pt. 8

(Part eight of a series.)

Jonathan Neville writes:
In Joseph Smith’s translation of the Book of Mormon, there are zero accounts of people building massive stone temple, pyramids, or other structures. Yet the M2C* citation cartel has retranslated the text to describe these and other features of Mayan culture.
Setting aside his misrepresentations of Mesoamericanist arguments for a moment, Neville is in no position to criticize “M2C” Book of Mormon believers on this matter when his own writings on the Book of Mormon are filled with conjecture and downright fantasy about the Nephites and Lamanites.

Here are just a few examples from his book Moroni’s America. (Page numbers here refer to the Moroni’s America – Maps Edition volume he edited.)
Jonathan Neville's Lands of the Book of Mormon fantasy map
Jonathan Neville’s fantasy map of the Book of Mormon
  • According to Neville, the term “wilderness” means “river,” and the “narrow strip of wilderness” was “a water barrier that acted as a border—effectively a fence.” (pp. 2, 9)
  • According to Neville, the Book of Mormon’s references to the “narrow pass,” “narrow passage,” “narrow neck,” “narrow neck of land,” and “small neck of land” were not references to a single, narrow passage in a narrow neck of land, but five different passes, passages, and necks spread out across a distance of nearly 500 miles. (p. 4)
  • According to Neville, the sea west was actually two seas, one south of Nephite lands (the Mississippi River delta) and one northeast of Nephite lands (Lake Michigan). (pp. 12–13)
  • According to Neville, the narrow neck between the land Bountiful and the land of Desolation was a passage between the Grand Kankakee Marsh and the Great Black Swamp. Neither the terms marsh nor swamp appear anywhere in the Book of Mormon. (p. 16)
  • According to Neville, Lehi’s prophecy that the Lord “will take away from [the descendants of the Lamanites] the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten” (2 Nephi 1:10–11) was fulfilled “at the beginning of the 1830s, [when] nearly 125,000 Native Americans” were forced the by federal government of the United States to relocate to modern-day Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. (p. 29–30) Neville ignores the important context of Lehi’s prophecy, written by Nephi in the preceding chapter: “The Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land; and by them shall our seed be scattered. And after our seed is scattered the Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the Gentiles, which shall be of great worth unto our seed.” (1 Nephi 22:7–8; emphasis added). Nephi informs us that the scattering of the descendants of the Lamanites will take place before the Lord’s “marvelous work” in restoring the gospel to the earth—in other words, prior to the 1830s. Lehi’s prophecy, therefore, cannot refer to the Trail of Tears.
  • According to Neville, the peoples of the Book of Mormon used rivers (which are wildernesses?) to travel extensively throughout their lands. (pp. 37, 38, 40, 88, 89) There is not a single account in the Book of Mormon of anyone traveling by boat using rivers.
  • According to Neville, Hagoth the shipbuilder sailed his “exceedingly large ship” (Alma 63:5) between the Great Lakes and eventually out the St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean. (p. 73) Before the modern invention of locks, neither the rivers and rapids that connect the Great Lakes nor the St. Lawrence River could not be navigated by boats of any size.
  • According to Neville, the Nephites fortified Bountiful (Helaman 4:7) by building a massive earth-and-wood wall from Lake Michigan, down into southern Ohio,and then up to western New York. (p. 75) This wall would have been nearly 600 miles long. Needless to say, there is absolutely zero archaeological evidence of such an enormous structure.
  • According to Neville, the Nephites had “lambs, sheep, [and] rams,” which they sacrificied according to the law of Moses. (p. 85) Sheep—domesticated or wild—did not exist anciently in the eastern part of North America; they were introduced to the continent by the Spaniards. Sheep are mentioned twenty-five times in the Book of Mormon, all but once in a metaphorical context. The single passage that refers to the existence of sheep was during Jaredite times (Ether 9:18); the Nephites are never described as possessing sheep, nor using them for sacrifice.

Despite these and many other inaccuracies in Neville’s Book of Mormon claims, he feels free to criticize believers in a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon for things they never claimed in the first place.

Glass houses, indeed.

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Jonathan Neville at the summit of confirmation bias

It requires a breathtaking lack of self-awareness for Jonathan Neville to write:
Once you realize that M2C* advocates think of themselves as priests policing heresy rather than investigators seeking truth, the M2C logo and the censorship by the M2C citation cartel will make a lot more sense.
Priests policing heresy. This, coming from the very man who has claimed hundreds of times that his intellectual opponents are “repudiating the teachings of the prophets.”

M2C in the dock at the Salem witch trialsThe simple fact that Neville is unwilling or unable to comprehend is that Latter-day Saint scholars and other Church members who believe that the Book of Mormon took place mostly in Mesoamerica could not care less if anyone has a difference of opinion about that matter. Everyone is free to express his or her own beliefs and put forth evidence in support of those beliefs. There will be (and should be and has been) vigorous debate over these evidences. Since there is no revelation on this matter, it is open for discussion.

So why does Neville perceive that there is a conflict? This goes back nearly thirteen years to Rodney Meldrum’s presentation at the inception of the “Heartland” movement. In his presentation, Meldrum used a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley about anti-Mormons and twisted its meaning to assert that Latter-day Saint scholars “disdain” the Prophet Joseph Smith by teaching a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon.

Since that time, Heartlanders like Meldrum and Neville have been self-appointed heretic hunters, calling out “M2C” for being opposed to “the teachings of the prophets” and asserting that the Heartland theory is the only view that is supported by prophetic teaching (and making quite a bit of money at it along the way). Their claims have received widespread attention and not a small number of followers. Their accusations have become so strident that the First Presidency was motivated to issue the following counsel:
Individuals may have their own opinions regarding Book of Mormon geography and other such matters about which the Lord has not spoken. However, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles urge leaders and members not to advocate those personal theories in any setting or manner that would imply either prophetic or Church support for those theories. All parties should strive to avoid contention on these matters.
And yet, because he is firmly entrapped in his own web of confirmation bias, Jonathan Neville continues to insist that it is Mesoamericanists who are “policing heresy.” (And he’s spilled no small amount of ink disparaging the First Presidency’s counsel, above, in an attempt to justify his shameful behavior.)

Neville doesn’t like that I’ve claimed his actions place him on the road to eventual apostasy. The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi responded to such objections in 1 Nephi 16:2.

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Jonathan Neville’s passive-aggressive personality

In a post the other day, I mentioned Jonathan Neville’s “continual posting of passive-aggressive statements.” He dropped another blog post today that perfectly reflects this, so I thought I’d use that as an example of his style.

For those who aren’t familiar with the term or are are uncertain of the definition of passive-aggressive:
Passive-aggressive behavior is when you express negative feelings indirectly instead of openly talking about them.…

Someone who uses passive aggression may feel angry, resentful, or frustrated, but they act neutral, pleasant, or even cheerful. They then find indirect ways to show how they really feel.
Examples of passive aggression show up in most of Neville’s blog posts. Most often, they’re reflected in how he refers to those who disagree with Heartlander views of Book of Mormon geography and the hill Cumorah.

In his October 19, 2020, blog post “Logos and perspective,” he criticizes Book of Mormon Central’s use of a Mayan glyph in their logo. (This is the same logo that was formerly used by the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies.)
Logo of Book of Mormon Central
In this post, Neville tells us:
Those who read my blogs know that I have great respect and fondness for the members of the M2C* citation cartel. All those I’ve met are great people, sincere, dedicated, smart, etc.

While I disagree with their interpretations of the text and the relevant extrinsic evidence, it doesn’t bother me in the least that other people have different opinions.
Despite his supposed “respect and fondness” for these “great people” with whom he disagrees, he persists in referring to them as “the M2C citation cartel.” That term that is not just inaccurate; one can also reasonably infer from its use that he is comparing his opponents to an international crime syndicate.

Neville responded to that concern back on September 3rd, not by apologizing and changing his terminology, but by making any offense taken at the use of the term “cartel” the fault of those who interpreted it in a negative light (!):
Apparently some of the members of the M2C citation cartel…consider the acronym “M2C” pejorative, and they think the term “citation cartel” invokes images of drug cartels in Latin America.

Such paranoia is a good example of how members (and employees) of a citation cartel think and operate. The credentialed class all too often take personal offense to differences of opinion, resort to academic bullying, and employ censorship to protect their intellectual cartels.
So, according to Neville, the problem isn’t his choice to use potentially offensive words; the problem is those who take offense, because they are “paranoid,” “resort to academic bullying, and employ censorship”—a textbook example of blame-shifting.

Back to his October 19th post:

After expressing his “respect and fondness” for these “great people” with whom he disagrees—as well as claiming that the matter is “a simple difference of perspective” and accepting “diversity of thought”—he then proceeds to belittle and disparage these “great people”:

  • He claims that, for people such as himself, the Book of Mormon Central logo “represents completely closed minds and bias confirmation presented in the guise of scholarship.”
  • He claims “this logo is the antithesis of the Church’s position of neutrality.” (A subject that he completely misunderstands or continually misrepresents.)
  • He calls the “great people” who work for Book of Mormon Central “hirelings,” a defamatory term that refers to “a person who works only for pay, especially in a menial or boring job, with little or no concern for the value of the work.” (These “hirelings” are the same people he has referred to as “fine young scholars” nearly seventy times in other passive-aggressive posts.)
  • These “hirelings,” he tells us, “spend their time trying to convince Church members that the prophets are wrong,” and Book of Mormon Central’s logo “represents a deliberate choice to repudiate the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.” Yet this completely contradicts his earlier claim that these same people are “sincere” and “dedicated”!

“Once those who identify themselves with this M2C logo understand how the rest of us perceive it,” Neville concludes, ”maybe they will be a little more understanding of our point of view.”

Absolutely incredible. Neville longs for people who are part of the “M2C citation cartel” to understand how he and other Heartlanders perceive its meaning, yet he himself is completely unaware of how deeply insulting he is—over, and over, and over again—toward them.

“Unlike some of my critics,” he writes, “I don’t resort to name-calling, accusations of apostasy, etc.” Yet he calls those with whom he disagrees “hirelings” in the very same post.

When I claim that Neville and his cohorts are flirting with apostasy, I’m not “resorting” to anything—I mean it. For evidence of this, look no further than his other post today on one of his other blogs where he criticizes Saints, the Church’s new official history with a foreword by the First Presidency: In that post he clearly implies that the Church historians who wrote Saints are like employees of the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The Church’s General Handbook defines apostasy as “repeatedly acting in clear and deliberate public opposition to the Church, its doctrine, its policies, or its leaders.” If Neville’s continual public opposition to the way the Church’s leaders and historians describe its history isn’t apostasy, then I don’t know what else one could legitimately call it.

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

Friday, October 16, 2020

On close-mindedness and trolling

As I’ve pointed out many, many times on this blog, Jonathan Neville gives the appearance of lacking even a shred of self-awareness. The criticisms he levels at his “M2C”* ideological opponents apply at least as much—and often more so—to himself and other Heartlanders.

Here’s just the latest example: After quoting statistician Nate Silver, who wrote, “One thing I’m [sic] noticed is that once someone gets a PhD, it become [sic] 10x harder to convince them they’re wrong” (which itself is amusing, considering how wrong Silver called virtually every outcome in the 2016 U.S. presidential election), Neville writes:
To this I would add, once someone is hired by a PhD, it becomes 20x harder to convince them they’re wrong.

And if they’re working on PhD [sic] themselves, it becomes 30x harder to convince them they’re wrong.

Exhibit A: the employees of Book of Mormon Central who troll faithful LDS [sic] who happen to disagree with M2C because they still believe the prophets.
I have three observations about Neville’s comment:

  1. My experience in engaging with Heartlanders has been that they are among the most closed-minded and obstinate of individuals. Not one that I have spoken to has been even so much as willing to consider that their interpretation of D&C 125:3 is an enormous stretch without any historical or contextual standing. They have been, to a person, thoroughly convinced that the United States is the only possible setting for the Book of Mormon and that “M2C” is a vast conspiracy operating at all levels of the Church. Few of them have any academic credentials in the fields of anthropology or archaeology, and yet they’re at least the equal of the “20x” and “30x” groups Neville mentions.
  2. Which employees of Book of Mormon are “trolling” faithful Latter-day Saints, Brother Neville? And, since “trolling” does have a specific definition, please point to how and where these employees are doing said trolling. And please demonstrate with actual evidence that this disagreement is because Heartlanders “still believe the prophets” and not because Heartlanders base their beliefs on “inaccuracies, embellishments, fallacies, dubious and unsubstantiated claims, selective use of evidence, parallelomania, presentism, false claims, and pseudo-scientific and pseudo-scholarly claims.”
  3. And since you brought up “trolling,” Brother Neville, may I point out your continual posting of passive-aggressive statements, like your claim the other day that Book of Mormon Central hires “fine young scholars and pay[s] them to flood the Internet with M2C and attacks on faithful LDS members who still believe the teachings of the prophets”?
Napalm attack by an A-1 aircraft in Vietnam with saracastic phrase
If Jonathan Neville wants to know the source of the animosity between Heartlanders and non-Heartlanders, he should look no further than his own writings. His constant attacks on, disparagement of, and passive-aggressive and backhanded compliments toward those with whom he disagrees has been the blogging equivalent of dropping napalm while simultaneously wondering why there are so many forest fires raging in the area.

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

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