Popular Television and Book of Mormon Place Names

Popular Television and Book of Mormon Place Names November 17, 2021


Blue Bloods image
The cover for the DVD of the eighth season of “Blue Bloods” (fair use)




The latest installment of Kyler Rasmussen’s series of Bayesian explorations went up on the Interpreter Foundation’s website earlier today:


Estimating the Evidence Episode 20: On Place-Name Plagiarism

[Editor’s Note: This is the twentieth in a series of 23 essays summarizing and evaluating Book of Mormon-related evidence from a Bayesian statistical perspective. See the FAQ at the end of the introductory episode for details on methodology.]

It seems unlikely that Book of Mormon place names would be so similar to places in the area around Palmyra.

In the early 1990s, a map presented by Vernal Holley purported to show place names in a broad area around Palmyra that were present in an altered fashion within the Book of Mormon. I demonstrate that, even with limited tools, it’s almost certain that one would find a false set of correspondences similar to Vernal’s given an area of similar size. Vernal’s map is essentially meaningless, and of zero use to those attempting to discern whether the Book of Mormon is authentic.


By the way, I was fascinated the other day to read an anonymous anti-Mormon’s claim that Dr. Rasmussen has given up his job with the government of the Province of Alberta in order to work for the Interpreter Foundation.  That was news to me.  We’ve never had an actual full-time employee before, so this represents a major step for us.  As do, also, the facts (1) that I have a pink unicorn in my backyard, (2) that my neighbors were recently abducted by aliens, and (3) that Elvis Presley and a now-Black John F. Kennedy Jr. are hiding out in a nursing home in eastern Texas, where they are heroically fighting to defeat a revivified ancient Egyptian mummy.




Occasionally, when I’m working on something on my computer that is fairly mundane and routine or rote and that, consequently, requires little concentration, I’ll turn a television on in the background.  I scarcely pay attention except intermittently, but it makes the task at hand just a bit less boring.  By that means, I’ve caught more than a few daytime re-runs of the legal and police drama series Blue Bloods, with its ensemble cast.  (I’ve never seen a new episode.)


I rather like it.  I like the absolute integrity of the patriarchal figure — the police commissioner of New York City — played by Tom Selleck.  (Of course, I enjoyed Selleck when he was young, too, when he was playing the original Magnum PI.  And it didn’t hurt my feelings to learn that, like me, he was and perhaps still is a subscriber to National Review, for which he used to do television commercials.)


One of the elements of Blue Bloods that I especially like, though, is the Reagan family’s Catholic religiosity.  Virtually every episode, if not indeed every single episode without exception, includes a more or less lengthy scene of the clan sitting for their regular Sunday dinner.  These are occasions for good discussions around the table, sometimes about very serious issues (and not always reflecting, umm, shall we say, perfect unity).  And, notably, they always begin with prayer.


I appreciate that.  After all, how often do you see religious belief portrayed in television dramas?  And, if you see it, how often is it portrayed sympathetically?  Or, at least, not as a kind of pathology or brazen hypocrisy?  (I can’t count the number of movies that I’ve seen in which the pastor or the priest turns out to be a pious-sounding pedophile or adulterer or murderer or something of that sort.)  And, frankly, I just plain like the portrayal of a flawed but loving family seated around a table for a good meal and good conversation.  Such gatherings are apparently increasingly rare, at least in American society.  And yet they’re very important to both families and, derivatively, communities and societies.


Bravo to those who created Blue Bloods.


I’ve caught re-runs of some other series, as well.  Chicago PD, for example.  I really dislike the main character in that one precisely because he doesn’t have Frank Reagan’s integrity.  It’s been interesting for me — and informative — to take a peek again into American popular culture; for many years, I watched no television at all except the news.




Here’s an interesting Meridian Magazine article by Terryl Givens, with a link to a longer version of it in case you wish to read more of his views on the topic:


“How Limited is Post-Mortal Progression?”


I’ve said here many times that I’m very much inclined to a kind of quasi-universalism.  So that means that I’m sympathetic to what Terryl Givens is attempting in these articles.




I completely agree with this piece by the estimable Hal Boyd of the Deseret News:


“‘Let’s go Brandon’ chants don’t belong at BYU games: The principles of true Christianity demand better politics”


And here’s an article on a closely related matter:


“Vulgarly Reawakening America”




You’re probably familiar with the eye-catching little items that often appear alongside of websites that you’re reading and that invite you to go through forty or fifty or seemingly two thousand images of “Hollywood’s Worst Actors” or “Stupidest Car Accidents” or whatever.  Reading on CNN the other day, I noticed one bearing the title “Facts About Mormons That Will Positively Fascinate You.”  Naturally, that caught my interest.  I was also intrigued by the fact that the photograph that had been chosen to accompany it showed six or eight women from the back, all with identical hairstyles and all of them clad in pastel dresses.  All of them, that is, members of Warren Jeffs’s FLDS polygamous sect.  That didn’t seem to bode well for the accuracy of the “Facts” that would be on offer — and my expectations weren’t disappointed.  My favorite among the “Facts” comes pretty early, and you might enjoy it, too:  It’s about the Hill Cumorah Pageant.  Obviously, Michelle Ranken has really done her research!




Here’s something that many of you will enjoy and for which you’ll want to mark your calendars:


“Theater release for ‘The Chosen’ Christmas special breaks records: ‘The Chosen,’ a series on the life of Jesus Christ available via a free app, has become a global phenomenon since its release in 2019, with more than 300 million views in over 190 countries.”




Finally, I recently found these two articles while I was browsing in the Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File© and, even though Halloween is over and done with, I thought that some of you might still find them deliciously terrifying:


“The Kindness of Strangers: Social Trust in Utah”


“Utah ranked as the top state for charitable giving”


Posted from Salt Lake City, Utah



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