Monday, May 25, 2009

Wouldn't know a scholar if he beat you with his Harvard PhD

So I decided that I would finally comment over at that love shack known as CARM. I decided to re post one of my responses over here because I believe it shows several things. First, it details some steps for how you can tell if a scholar is credible (what press published their book, looking at a C.V., endorsements etc). Second, it references an article that details how Mormon scholars are perceived, which relates with trying to broaden the audience interested in Book of Mormon warfare. Third, I toot my horn a little bit and I never get to play, so this is a brief window into my academic pedigree. I also included the rather pathetic response. (I will not link to it because most of those people are so lame you can refer to the title of this post) Without further ado:

SVU is neither owned, operated, or funded by the Church of Jesus Christ. If you are going to make snide remarks about my education you should know the facts first. For instance, SVU does not have any history faculty that are LDS. My advisor is a Catholic that used to teach at Yale after getting his PhD from Harvard.

My graduate advisor works at the National archives. Dr. John Broom, a former professor at the U.S. Army War College reviewed and approved of my paper on a Mormon topic that was later published. My advisor in military theory is the head of research for the U.S Army's Strategic Studies Institute and is arguably the top Clausewitzean scholar in the world. His name is Anutlio Echevarria II, you can find his books on Clausewitz in any decent university library. He has his PhD from Princeton, and was happy to write a letter of rec for me and recommend my paper on Clausewitzean theory that was later published.

If you want to look up Hamblin you can easily find his C.V. It is very long and filled with many non Mormon publications. You can look up his book "Warfare in the Ancient Near East", its published by a non Mormon (and quite respected) printing press. I found a very positive review on Amazon in about 5 seconds. The cover of the book has positive reviews from a professor at Vanderbilt.

You can look up the editor of the series, Jeremy Black. His C.V. made my jaw drop, and Jeremy Black put his name on Hamblin's research. No scholar would do that for a crack pot they don't respect. Hamblin also used to teach at the University of Southern Mississippi, a school with a well regarded PhD program in military history.

Kelly Devries' CV is very easy to find. (I think its even linked to on wikipedia for crying out loud) He has published Hamblin's research as well. (you can find it on Again, no scholar would put their name or touch somebody with a ten foot pole that they did not respect. The academic world is all about dropping names or making a name, so getting somebody to associate himself with your work is a sign that a scholar respects you. A basic example of this principle is getting a prestigious scholar to write a foreword for your book.

All of this is fairly simple stuff that I should not have to explain. I only wrote this long aside to show that many MANY people, far more respected in their fields than you, respect our research. We don't suddenly become crackpots in their minds because we publish about the Book of Mormon. And in many cases, as detailed in an article by John Tvedtness called "scholarship in Mormonism and M in scholarship", they applaud our work even if they don't agree with our conclusions.

In short: burying your heads in the sand and declaring that we and our research does not count laughs in the face of many respected scholars who say that it does matter.[This is from another post but predicts the response very well] Unfortunately, I doubt you will even read [my blog], let alone engage mine or others research. Its far easier to simply ridicule us for daring to believe in the historicity of the Book and hi five the others that do the same or claim its "God's way" to mock those who disagree with you.

The response was typical, and ignored the basic fact that SVU is not operated by the LDS church and that we have credible scholars producing respected work in support of the BoM:
Oh, come now! To quote Sunstone, "All of the school's [Southern Virginia University] top administrators and all but three of its trustees are LDS."

That doesn't happen by osmosis, morgan.

And, frankly, scholarship re the Book of Mormon or the Book of Abraham does not exist outside of Mormon scholarship. Nobody else takes it seriously. A google search simply brings up pages and pages of [useless] Mormon apologetic sites because Mormonism has flooded the field lest people read anything that might question the required "follow the prophet" response. And Mormon apologists confuse their readers by substituting volume for quality. The usual Mormon sees so much material available and concludes that such extensive "documentation" would surely not exist unless it "proved" Mormonism historicity to be true. Wrong!

The fact remains that there is no association whatever between the Book of Abraham text and the Mormon published documents/"translations." All hopes for any type of historicity are based entirely on the claim that "the scrolls are missing." In fact, ALL Mormon scholarship is dependent upon non-existent "missing" documents. If real "evidence" exists, it contradicts Mormonism.

And even inside the camp, the division is currently very explosive, which gives me a bit of hope that some of the Mormon people may be recovering some of their God-given reasoning abilities.

When it comes to the Book of Mormon, Sunstone [again] did one terrific job of exposing the horrendous problems for the Mormon faithful in their recent article, Mapping Book of Mormon Historicity Debates—Part 1 . Part 2 is available to the Sunstone subscriber [recommended], but I have not seen it online yet.

I should also add that having Liberal Mormons make her argument belies that claim the we are all brainwashted and it personfies the "losing and not knowing it" argument that Mosser and Owens have made.


Tim Malone said...

CARM...been there, done that. It was frustrating to say the least. Circular logic at it's worst. One of their "scholars" has been engaging me in ongoing dialog on the Book of Abraham and several other topics about which I wrote in some of my earlier essays. I finally decided to drop the conversation because it was getting nowhere. There was no interest in seeing another's point of view, only in doing everything to prove us wrong so they could dismiss us. You just can’t do that with good people like you proving that scholarship is alive and well among faithful LDS members.

Morgan Deane said...

Thanks Tim. At the risk of sounding very arrogant I think they have avoided my site because my research is original and from an unlikely field. For instance, somebody would have to know alot of Clausewitz in order to dispute my analysis of Captian Moroni's Genius. I posted a few of these ideas on "apologetic implications" and they seem to be true. That's why they tried to attack my school, its all they could find from this blog that they could latch onto.

Anyways, thanks for the encouragement, I try my best and its nice to get positive feedback.