Yes, Joseph Smith Really Did Use a Seer Stone in the Translation of the Book of Mormon

Last week I attended part of the 22nd International Book of Mormon Evidences Conference hosted by the FIRM Foundation. One of the presentations on Friday morning was delivered by James F. and L. Hannah Stoddard of the Joseph Smith Foundation. The title of the presentation was “Urim & Thummim or the Seer Stone & Hat?” … Read more

Book Review: “We’ll Sing and We’ll Shout: The Life and Times of W. W. Phelps”

Review of Bruce A. Van Orden. We’ll Sing and We’ll Shout: The Life and Times of W. W. Phelps. Provo and Salt Lake City, UT. Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University and Deseret Book. 2018. 509pp. + index. ‎$31.99.  William Wines Phelps (1792–1872) is without a doubt one of the most colorful and fascinating figures in … Read more

Seven Reasons Why Letter VII Is Not A Heartlander Silver Bullet

The so-called Heartland model for the geography of the Book of Mormon is built on a foundation of fraud. Fraudulent artifacts, fraudulent science, fraudulent theology, and fraudulent history secured in place by racist ethno-nationalism are the four cornerstones of Heartlanderism. (By Heartlanderism I do not mean general belief in a North American setting for the … Read more

Fun Fact: Zelph on the Shelf Doesn’t Know What They Are Talking About

Zelph on the Shelf is the name of a blog run by Samantha Shelley and Tanner Gilliland, two millennial ex-Mormons who are, sadly, afflicted with the handicap of thinking that Twitter hot takes and edgy memes are suitable substitutes for sound historical scholarship and critical thinking. Take, for instance, the “fun facts” which Zelph recently … Read more

Vicarious Performative Wokeness: The White Ex-Mormon’s Burden

[This post contains explicit language.] Last week saw the unfolding of what my friend Tarik LaCour has called Streetergate. To summarize the incident, on Thursday, May 17, 2018, just as LDS Church leaders were meeting with leaders from the NAACP, an ex-Mormon blogger named Jonathan Streeter created a website parodying the Church’s official newsroom and … Read more

“Believing Women” Includes Believing Joseph Smith’s Plural Wives

The recent news concerning Joseph L. Bishop, the former president of the Provo Missionary Training Center (1983–1986) who admitted to sexual misconduct with one sister missionary and is accused of attempted rape of another, has rightly outraged many. So “serious and deeply disturbing” are the allegations that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints … Read more

A Note on Book of Mormon “Trinitarianism”

One exercise I have found interesting is looking at the criticisms Joseph Smith’s contemporaries made against the Book of Mormon. The granddaddy of Book of Mormon skeptics is without a doubt Alexander Campbell (1788–1866), the learned Christian divine who spearheaded, along with his father Thomas, the Restorationist movement of Christianity. Campbell published the first substantive … Read more