Part 5: CES Letter Book of Mormon Questions [Section D]
by Sarah Allen
I originally thought I was done with the archaeology section, but while I was going through my sources to figure out which ones I wanted to use this week, I came across a presentation by Neal Rappleye from a FAIR Conference a few years ago that I’d forgotten existed. Neal Rappleye, for those who don’t know, is one of the hard-working team members at Book of Mormon Central, and his presentation is entitled “Put Away Childish Things: Learning to Read the Book of Mormon Using Mature Historical Thought”. I felt very strongly impressed that I should highlight this presentation and discuss it with you guys before moving on to the next questions in the Letter. I linked to both the video and the transcript of the presentation, so you can choose the medium that best suits your learning style.
This talk is all about grappling with and overcoming the more simplistic narratives you were taught as a child and learning to understand that history is messy and incomplete, and how new discoveries and understanding can shift your perspective if you allow it to. It’s something we all need to do as we grow older, or it can lead to problems down the line when our assumptions are challenged.
One of the main flaws in Jeremy’s perspective is that he doesn’t do this. He rigidly holds onto the idea that things have to be exactly what he thinks they are, or they can’t possibly be true. He never allows for the possibility that his assumptions about various things might be what’s wrong, rather than those things themselves. We saw that last week, in his belief that the Hill Cumorah had to be the hill in New York and couldn’t possibly have been anywhere else (which is ironic considering the upcoming Vernal Holley map section), and we’ll see it again and again and again throughout the rest of the Letter. It comes up during the Book of Mormon translation section, the section about prophetic abilities, the Book of Abraham section, etc. He refuses to allow for the possibility that his assumptions might be wrong, and seems to believe that anything that doesn’t conform to those assumptions must be proof that the Church isn’t true.