Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Heartland Starter Pack


I’ve been asked occasionally about the Heartlander theory of Book of Mormon geography. I’m stumped by this answer, not because I’m unfamiliar with their research, but because I’m so familiar with it that I categorically reject that line of thinking. My first encounter with the Heartlanders was at the Mormon History Association conference in St. George around 2012. I talked to the representative of their press and when I disagreed with their geography I suddenly felt like a mongoose trapped in the corner by a chatty cobra. My short answer to these questions is that their scholarship is cringe worthy poor, their most frequent tactic is to criticize the faith of their opponents, and they should be avoided. Here are a few links that explain that summary.

Having a Form of Scholarship:

Historian Ardis Parshall visited the FIRM Foundation Conference led by Rodney Meldrum.  She provides good summaries of the presentations but an even better explanation of why they miss the mark and resemble conspiracists more than sincere believers or researchers. 

Poor Book of Mormon Scholarship:

One of the most erudite people I know, Stephen Smoot, provides an 8 part review of the Annotated Book of Mormon. It’s a shoddy work that consists of rampant errors, abuse of historical sources and DNA, reliance on forgeries, and unsubstantiated claims.  Brant Gardner, one of the leading scholars on the Book of Mormon reviewed two more books here.  I like this review because it provides detailed pictures and analysis about why key pieces of evidence are forgeries.

Abuse of DNA:

This one is longer, but its needed to show Rodeny Meldrum’s DNA evidence is really snake oil and strained proof texting.

Personal Behavior and Apostasy:

By making these claims so iron clad, they are making their own faith brittle, while at the same time clubbing those who disagree with them.  This post explains why their obsession will lead them out of the church. This series of posts explain why their geography theories are often no better, and many times worse, than what they peddle.

I could do many more posts about their atrocious behavior where their favorite tactic is misreading a source, making it binding doctrine (against the official church position) and then questioning the faithfulness of those that disagree.  They’ve strapped Joseph Smith to the hood of their demolition cars so often their logo should be a Mad Max car. Now you have a few resources that should help rigorously examine their often too good to be true claims.   


LL said...

I wasn't aware of this work, but it's weird and the claims to a scientific basis are exceptionally brittle (or just manufactured). This stripe of person emerges from time to time and then just vanishes from the scene. They usually self-destruct.

Bradly said...

Yes indeed. I'm glad this and other models exist, they are what drove me to investigate and conclude the likelihood of the Mesoamerican model, based not only on the evidence and arguments but also on the proponents of those arguments, both in number and in credentials.
Like you I've seen that the real problem with the Heartland movement is not their scholarly arguments (weak as they are) but the attitudes of self-righteousness and belief that they've found the true and living model and that all other models are false. This makes it impossible to have a healthy debate because all others are seen as opposing divine truth (based on their interpretations of scripture).
The unfortunate hypocrisy is that they appeal to prophetic authority (again based on their own interpretations of scripture, quotes of Joseph Smith, historical documents, etc) but end up having to reject the authority of current leadership when it says the geography has not been determined by revelation. Yeah, nowhere to go after that except out of the Church, and that makes me sad.