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Of Media, Media Suppression, QAnon, and Book of Mormon Authorship

Of Media, Media Suppression, QAnon, and Book of Mormon Authorship May 29, 2021

 

Cole, "Garden of Eden"
Thomas Cole (1801-1848), “The Garden of Eden”
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

 

***

 

I’m pleased beyond expression that the new Interpreter Foundation film Witnesses will now be available in forty of the fifty United States of America.  (What’s up, I wonder, with the other ten?)  In many of these locations, Witnesses will be prominently displayed on the theater marquee, advertised by theatrical posters, and on the regular schedule of the movie house.  In others, and particularly in areas where the Latter-day Saint audience is relatively small, the film will be available but may best be accessed via arrangements for private party screenings.  I hope that wards and stakes, elders quorums, Young Men and Young Women organizations, and family groups will consider such a possibility.  (The instructions for doing so are available on the website.  It’s my understanding that the costs for such private screenings are not prohibitive.)  In my judgment, too, Witnesses is appropriate for bringing non-member friends.  It will, I believe, provide missionary opportunities and spark interesting discussions.  Having said all that, I probably need to assure you once again that not a single penny from this effort will go into my pocket, neither directly nor indirectly.  Nor will anybody else at Interpreter be earning royalties.  I do not want anybody to be under the impression that, in promoting Witnesses, anyone at the Interpreter Foundation is looking to feather his or her own nest.

 

In the meantime, you might enjoy this interview with Camrey Bagley Fox, who plays Emma Smith in the film.  Her interview was broadcast on KSL-TV in Salt Lake City yesterday (Friday):

 

“New Film Follows the Faith Journeys of Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon”

 

For whatever it’s worth, I myself will be on the Interpreter Radio Show with Martin Tanner and Terry Hutchinson between 7 PM and 9 PM (Utah time) on this coming Sunday night.  One hour of the two-hour program — probably the second hour, but I’m not certain of that — will be devoted to a discussion of Doctrine and Covenants 76, which is the account of their magnificent vision of the three degrees of glory written by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon.  The other hour will focus — big surprise! — on the Witnesses film, which officially premieres at Thanksgiving Point, in Lehi, Utah, on Wednesday, 2 June.

 

The Interpreter Radio Show can be heard each week, including this week, on Sunday evenings from 7 to 9 PM (MDT), on K-TALK, AM 1640 — my impression is that reception may be sketchy beyond Salt Lake County — or you can listen live on the Internet (the option that I generally choose, and that I have chosen from places like Arizona, California, Virginia, and Hawaii) at ktalkmedia.com.

 

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Newly posted on the Interpreter Foundation’s website:

 

Book of Moses Essays #57: Moses Sees the Garden of Eden (Moses 3):God Instructs Adam and Eve (Moses 3:15–17)

 

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Are culturally conservative and/or religious voices being silenced and/or targeted by media hegemons?  Here are four articles that might interest you on that question:

 

“New podcast: New York Times still ignoring religion ghosts in ‘demographic winter’ trends”

 

“Another trial by media: In defense of Mother Teresa and why she is a saint, not a ‘cult leader'”

 

“Are religious and culturally conservative groups silenced on the Internet?”

 

“Still thinking about (trigger alert) a scary Twitter topic – Elizabeth Bruenig and motherhood”

 

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But I’m not critical only of censorious secularizers.

 

I would like to humbly suggest to my fellow Latter-day Saints that seeing the world through the lens of QAnon is, perhaps, not the best of the options available.  (I will keep private and unexpressed my horror at the thought that more than a few of my fellow-believers seem to have fallen for the abject reality-defying nonsense that QAnon both represents and promulgates.)

 

“Polls find most Republicans say 2020 election was stolen and roughly one-quarter embrace QAnon conspiracies”

 

Poll suggests QAnon as popular in US as some major religions”

 

Supporter defends Marjorie Taylor Greene: A lot of people didn’t like Jesus Christ”

“Survey: White evangelicals, Hispanic Protestants, Mormons most likely to believe in QAnon: The groups are also the most likely to consume far-right media, which researchers noted is ‘by far the strongest independent predictor of QAnon beliefs.'”

 

Seriously, folks.  This does us no good.  It doesn’t build or defend the Kingdom.  It will cause few if any outsiders to want to consider the claims of the Restoration.  It makes us look . . . umm, bad.  QAnon is a kind of substitute religion.  It is madness.  Please note that it isn’t being taught by the Lord’s chosen apostles and prophets.  If you’re personally into QAnon, please come up for air.  If somebody you know is into it, please consider mounting an intervention of some sort.  I know.  I know.  The folks who are enmeshed in this stuff are often very tightly bound.  They’re hard to save.  I’ve had my own encounters with them, and I know.  But their souls are precious and they’re worth saving.  So is America.

 

***

 

I don’t think that the argument outlined here is conclusive.  It doesn’t provide definitive proof, and it doesn’t claim to do so.  Nonetheless, I think that Angela Hallstrom makes a very serious point that needs to be considered — one that resonates with me personally and particularly:

 

“Some think the Book of Mormon is a piece of fiction. Here’s why 1 creative writer and historian believes otherwise”

 

I, too, find it virtually impossible to believe that Joseph Smith could have composed the Book of Mormon — created it from scratch and via dictation — over the course of just two or three months.  I’m also struck by the fact that, if this was really a “rough draft” — as, taken together, the available evidence coupled with an assumption of Joseph as the author would pretty much require it to be — it lacks the “plot holes,” the inconsistencies, the “point of view problems,” the dead ends, the structural flaws, and other infelicities that we would expect from a rough, first draft of fiction penned by even a skilled and educated writer.  I’m struck by Sister Hallstrom’s point about “staying in a stable verb tense.”  I hadn’t thought of that one before, but it’s a good point.  I can testify, after decades of reading student papers, that more than a few college undergraduates — people, in other words, with far more years of education than Joseph Smith had, and who are writing their papers on computer word processors, which allow for easy corrections — have a very hard time pulling that off.

 

Says Sister Hallstrom,

 

“I am . . . impressed by the fact that this book features three major narrators—Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni—each with a particular voice, style, and purpose in writing. The ability to create a distinctive narrative voice that is maintained throughout a long piece is one of the hallmarks of a talented, experienced fiction writer. Whether Joseph was a talented writer can be debated, but he was certainly inexperienced. To me, the reason Nephi’s, Mormon’s, and Moroni’s narrative voices are so consistent is because their portions of the book were in fact written by three separate people.”

 

She cites Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader’sGuide (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), in support of her point.  I strongly agree.

 

 

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