I’m amused to report that the first “review” of the Interpreter Foundation’s theatrical film Witnesses has been posted. (I’m quite sure that other, similarly negative, reviews have already been written — it saves time! — and that their authors are simply waiting for the movie to actually appear.). “Peter Pan,” the principal figure behind the valuable Neville-Neville Land blog — whose identity I do not know, although I wouldn’t be surprised if s/he were someone with whom I’m acquainted — contacted me by email late last night to tell me that Mr. Jonathan Neville has posted an entry about the film on one of his approximately 3,437 blogs. I’ve now had a look at what Mr. Neville has written. Here are some selections:
Such a film could have presented a complete, historically accurate account of the witnesses and what they said, which would be awesome.
I haven’t seen the film yet, but people who have tell me it’s another affirmation of the latest intellectual fads from the M2C and SITH citation cartels, which means important testimony from the Three Witnesses is omitted because it contradicts M2C, while statements about SITH are emphasized.
I’m withholding judgment until I see the film.
For the uninitiated, the phrase M2C citation cartel refers, in Nevillese, to a conspiracy made up of those inclined toward a Mesoamerican geographical model for the Book of Mormon. It includes such people as John Sorenson, Brant Gardner, John Clark, and (although I’ve personally published next to nothing on Book of Mormon geographical issues) me. We are alleged to be misleading Church historians and curriculum writers, as well as the Lord’s chosen prophets and apostles and the Latter-day Saints generally, by suppressing information that would reveal the Truth that is known to Mr. Neville and several of his associates. The formula M2C — not to be confused with Albert Einstein’s more famous E = mc2 — refers to a thesis of ours about the hill known as “Cumorah.” Our suggestion is that the site of the final Jaredite and Nephite battles was located in Mesoamerica, and that it is thus distinct from the hill in which Moroni buried the plates and from which Joseph Smith received them. Thus, there are, in a sense, two Cumorahs. M2C. Get it? According to Nevillism, it is one of the most fundamental principles of orthodox faith in the Restoration that the final Jaredite and Nephite battles occurred in upstate New York, near Palmyra. And the Nevillese acronym SITH refers to the “stone in the hat” — the notion, firmly rooted in multiple primary historical sources from friendly associates of Joseph Smith, accepted by every serious historian who has written on the subject, and publicly shared by President Russell M. Nelson, among others, that at least part of the translation of the Book of Mormon was accomplished by means of a seer stone placed in a hat rather than via the Urim and Thummim. Mr. Neville regards this idea as a terrible and even heretical falsehood. Hence, his adoption of a term from the universe of Star Wars to refer to it: “The Sith, also referred to as the Sith Order, was an ancient religious order of Force-wielders devoted to the dark side of the Force. Driven by their emotions, including hate, anger, and greed, the Sith were deceptive and obsessed with gaining power no matter the cost.” (See https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Sith.)
But back to Mr. Neville:
One of the things to look for is the treatment of the encounter David Whitmer had with the messenger who was taking the abridged plates from Harmony (where he had received them from Joseph) to Cumorah.
Surely the filmmakers will not omit this event, which involved David, Oliver and Joseph.
As a matter of fact, though, we did omit that event. In a film with four protagonists, covering a complex story that extends over a decade, not everything can be included.
Mr. Neville then shifts his criticism to our alleged treatment of the experience with the plates that Mary Whitmer had in her barn. That story is also not depicted in the dramatic film, though it will appear in the accompanying docudrama that we’re finishing up now and that will appear, we anticipate, a few months after the theatrical premiere of Witnesses. He faults our new website, Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, for supposedly privileging David Whitmer’s “direct testimony” account of her experience over the “hearsay” account given by her grandson John C. Whitmer.
This, by the way, is an odd error for Mr. Neville to have made, since he is reputedly a lawyer by training: David Whitmer heard about the experience directly from his mother, true. But John C. Whitmer himself also heard it directly from her. Mr. Neville’s own little article — this very one — cites John C. Whitmer as saying “I have heard my grandmother say on several occasions that she was shown the plates of the Book of Mormon by a holy angel.” If John C. Whitmer’s testimony is “hearsay,” so is David Whitmer’s. If David Whitmer’s testimony isn’t “hearsay,” neither is John’s.
But why, exactly, do we conspirators promote John C. Whitmer’s testimony and try to suppress David’s?
My primary answer would be that we don’t. And that we’re not conspirators. But Mr. Neville has an explanation ready to hand. He feels that it is important to his argument for a single Cumorah, located in New York, that the person who showed the plates to Mary Whitmer was not Moroni but, rather, some other person (probably one of the Three Nephites). And the M2C citation cartel simply cannot permit that:
Why does [sic] the M2C citation cartel members continue to promote the fake Moroni/Mary Whitmer story?
M2C trumps everything else.
They absolutely cannot allow Church members to learn that . . .
M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory) is a hoax perpetrated by a handful of LDS scholars who stole the idea . . .
It’s a lot of fun to see the way our famous LDS intellectuals manipulate historical evidence. . . . [T]he M2C citation cartel has not only repudiated the teachings of the prophets but has misled generations of LDS students.
Curiously, though, since I’m one of the wicked leaders of the M2C citation cartel, I feel no urgency whatever over the identity of the person who showed the plates to Mary Whitmer. Indeed, I’ve long been inclined to the view that it wasn’t Moroni. (Sorry to disappoint!)
And Witnesses has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of geographical models for the Book of Mormon.
For some recent entries on the Neville-Neville Land blog, see these links:
And, finally and on a more positive note, here are three new entries on the Book of Mormon Central site that are directly relevant to the Witnesses film, which opens in theaters next week: