Mormon Stories - LDS

URGENT: Dr. Ritner is facing kidney failure and is in need of a living donor to secure his life and continued research. If you can help, please contact Dana McClain, Northwestern Medicine Transplant Coordinator, 312-695-0828. Living donors save lives!

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For more than a century Joseph Smith's Book of Abraham "translation" has been revered as holy scripture by devout Mormons, and denounced by all credible Egyptologists as a 100% erroneous translation -- a combination of Joseph Smith's imagination and some plagiarism (much like the Book of Mormon, the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, and the Mormon temple ceremony.

The first major scholarly analysis and critique of the Book of Abraham by world-class Egyptologists came in 1912 and was published in the New York Times.  Of course this article was neither appropriately considered nor adequately addressed by LDS church leadership, and ultimately the issue faded from LDS church membership consciousness for several more decades.

Beginning in 1966 with the rediscovery of the core Book of Abraham papyri fragments found in the archives of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (that were thought to have been lost in the 1871 Great Chicago Fire), Mormon apologists such as Hugh Nibley, John Gee, Daniel C. Peterson, Kerry Muhlestein, Michael D. Rhodes, and Brian Hauglid have attempted to employ apologetic tactics to rescue the Book of Abraham from a total loss of credibility - once credible translations of the papyrus demonstrated undeniably that Joseph Smith's "translation" was 100% inaccurate, and in fact, had nothing to do with Abraham at all.  In fact, the papyri were dated to be written over 1500 years after the time Abraham would have lived.

For decades questioning, doubting, and non-believing Mormons have engaged with Mormon apologists like Nibley, Gee, Muhlestein, and Rhodes to determine the historicity and legitimacy of the Book of Abraham - with the credibility of Joseph Smith and the LDS church restoration hanging in the balance.  In spite of the LDS church's century-long efforts to either hide or convolute the issues surrounding the Book of Abraham, many Mormons have lost their faith and left the church over the Book of Abraham, as it is often listed as one of the primary reasons that Mormons lose their faith.

While many orthodox, doubting, and post-Mormons have heard the opinions of pseudo-Egyptologists/Book of Abraham apologists like John Gee, Kerry Muhlestein, and Michael D. Rhodes, few Mormons or post-Mormons have actually heard the opinions of a legitimate, world-class Egyptologist about the historicity and credibility of the Book of Abraham - until today.

Today, as a joint production of Mormon Stories Podcast and Radio Free Mormon podcast, we interview Dr. Robert Ritner.  Dr. Ritner is Professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and was from 1991-1996 the first Marilyn M. Simpson Assistant Professor of Egyptology at Yale University.  Dr. Ritner is the author of over 100 publications on Egyptian religion, magic, medicine, language and literature, as well as social and political history. He has lectured extensively on each of these topics throughout the United States, Europe and Egypt.  Ritner has led Oriental Institute tours of Egypt for 30 years.  He is also the author of The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, and an essay entitled “Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham” — A Response - written as a response to the LDS church's gospel topics essay on the Book of Abraham, which is deeply problematic according to Dr. Ritner.

In today's sit-down with Dr. Ritner, we will discuss his upbringing in Houston, Texas, his scholarly background and the events that led to him becoming interested in the Book of Abraham.  We will provide a contextualizing history to the Book of Abraham story, and discuss in-depth Joseph Smith's completely erroneous translation of Facsimile 1 from the Book of Abraham.  We end this episode by beginning our exploration of some of the seemingly unscholarly, and disingenuous tactics used by Book of Abraham apologists John Gee and Terry Muhlestein to try to bloster belief in the Book of Abraham.  This episode represents the first in a series of interviews with Dr. Ritner.  In future episodes we will discuss the other Facsimillies, the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, the "cataylist" theory for the Book of Abraham, and finally a more in-depth look at the history of unscholarly, disingenuous, and utterly wasteful Book of Abraham apologetics by John Gee, Kerry Muhlestein, and Michael D. Rhodes.  We also plan to coordinate a direct discussion between Dr. John Gee and Dr. Robert Ritner (if John Gee accepts the invitation...if not...we have other plans).

Finally, a HUGE thanks to Bruce MacArthur for making this interview possible. Also, a MASSIVE thanks to RFM for co-hosting, Bill Reel for all of his great work over the years, along with all of the amazing scholars who helped me/us prepare for this interview, including: Mike Brown of the Mormon Stories Truth Claims essays, Dan Vogel, Brent Metcalfe, MormonThink, Jeremy Runnells and the CES Letter, Letter for my Wife, MormonInfoGraphics.com, this super cool video, and much much more content than I could ever fully list here.

URGENT: Dr. Ritner is facing kidney failure and is in need of a living donor to secure his life and continued research. If you can help, please contact Dana McClain, Northwestern Medicine Transplant Coordinator, 312-695-0828. Living donors save lives!

Direct download: MormonStories-1339-RobertRitnerPt1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:58pm MDT

Over the past several decades. credible Mormon-themed scholarship has determined beyond any reasonable doubt that Joseph Smith's claim have special powers to "translate" ancient languages was not true, and that Joseph often relied on plagiarism to produce his "revelations."  Up until recently, at least three clear instances of false translation by Joseph Smith were widely known: the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, and the Kinderhook Plates.

In the summer of 2015, something truly remarkable happened.  A BYU undergraduate, along with her professor, discovered a fourth example of false translation, and yet another example of plagiarism on the part of Joseph Smith - this time in the canonized "Joseph Smith Translation" of the Holy Bible (found in modern LDS scripture)

Join me and scholar Haley Wilson Lemmón today as we discuss this groundbreaking research she conducted at BYU, along side professor Thomas A. Wayment -- as together they discovered literally hundreds of instances where Joseph Smith plagiarized portions of the Joseph Smith "Translation" of the Bible directly from Adam Clarke's Bible Commentary.

Today's story includes:

  • Haley's early years growing up as a highly devout Mormon girl and young woman who struggled significantly with undiagnosed religious anxiety (possibly scrupulosity).
  • Haley's LDS mission to Panama.
  • Haley's discovery of Joseph Smith's plagiarism, as she was working as a BYU undergraduate research assistant under Dr. Thomas A. Wayment.
  • Haley's deep struggle with her Mormon faith once she began studying the authenticity of Mormon scripture and other truth claims.
  • Haley's troubling brush with the BYU Honor Code Office, which almost resulted in her being expelled from BYU.
  • How Haley's name was almost removed from the publishing of her research with Dr. Wayment.
  • A review of Haley's current views on LDS Church truth claims.

As a part of this interview, we will be discussing in-depth the article/chapter "A Recently Recovered Source: The Use of Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary in Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation" that she co-authored with Thomas A. Wayment, which recently appeared in the newly released book "Producing Ancient Scripture: Joseph Smith's Translation Projects in the Development of Mormon Christianity," edited by Michael MacKay, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Brian M. Hauglid.

Direct download: MormonStories-1338-HaleyWilsonLemmon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:34pm MDT

How does a Mormon wife and mother become a groundbreaking historian?

Join us today on Mormon Stories Podcast as Shannon Caldwell Montez shares with us her journey to become a historian after living an orthodox Mormon life for decades.

Shannon recently obtained a Master's degree in history from the University of Nevada, Reno. Her Master's thesis is entitled "The Secret Mormon Meetings of 1922" - which chronicles how Mormon General Authority B.H. Roberts lost his faith in the historicity of the Book of Mormon, called a multi-day meeting with all of the top LDS Church leadership to inform them of the many, credible scientific problems with the Book of Mormon.

Shannon's Master's thesis can be downloaded here: https://scholarworks.unr.edu/handle/11714/6712

Shannon's previous Mormon Stories Podcast interview about the life of B. H. Roberts can be found here.

Direct download: MormonStories-1337-ShannonCaldwellMontez.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:17pm MDT

Have you ever wondered how much the top-level Mormon church leaders know about the problems with LDS Church truth claims, and for how long they have known about these problems?

Long before Mormon General Authority F. Enzio Busche lost his testimony in the Mormon church…

Long before Mormon Area Authority Hans Mattsson lost his testimony in the Mormon church....

Long before the CES Letter…
Long before Mormon Stories Podcast...
Long before Grant Palmer....
Long before the Leonard Arrington church history years…
Long before Fawn Brodie wrote “No Man Knows My History”....

….did you know that a high-level Mormon General Authority lost his faith in the historicity of the Book of Mormon -- in the early 1900s - after an in-depth study of the scientific problems with the Book of Mormon (e.g., archaeological, anthropological, linguistic, geographic)?

More significantly, did you know that this same General Authority notified the LDS First Presidency of the scientific problems with the Book of Mormon via three separate manuscripts, and in 1922 led a two-day emergency meeting in Salt Lake City with all the top Mormon church leadership -- the LDS First Presidency, the Quorum of 12 Apostles, and the Quorum of the Seventy -- to candidly discuss what to do about these problems with the Book of Mormon?

Did you know that soon after this General Authority led this meeting with all the top Mormon church leadership, he was sent on a mission -- far, far away from LDS Church headquarters?

Did you know that these three, in-depth manuscripts -- outlining in great detail the credible scientific problems with Book of Mormon historicity - were intentionally hid from LDS Church membership for over 60 years?  Did you also know that after this General Authority died, top LDS Church leaders intentionally did all they could to erase from church membership the memory of this thoughtful, honest, and courageous General Authority?

Did you know that the only reason we know any of this is because progressive Mormon church members quietly delivered copies of these manuscripts to Mormon scholars, and that these manuscripts were eventually published - against the Mormon church’s will - by the University of Illinois Press in the 1980s (and eventually by Signature Books)?

Today’s Mormon Stories Podcast episode covers the rise and fall of Mormon General Authority Brigham Henry (B.H.) Roberts.  You will not want to miss this story.

Our interviewee is Mormon historian Shannon Caldwell Montez - who recently completed a Master’s Thesis at the University of Nevada - Reno entitled: “The Secret Mormon Meetings of 1922.”

The song for today’s podcast bumper is called “All is Well” by The Sabre Rattlers.

Direct download: MormonStories-1336-BHRoberts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:13pm MDT

Today we interview Ed Decker -- ex-Mormon, Evangelical Christian, career "Anti-Mormon," and creator of the controversial 80's "anti-Mormon" movie called “The God Makers.”  Today’s interview focuses on four main areas:

Part 1: Ed’s conversion to Mormonism, his life as a Mormon, his loss of faith, and his excommunication.

Part 2: Ed’s “calling” to minister to Mormons, and the making of “The Godmakers.”

Part 3: A discussion about the impact of and controversies surrounding “The God Makers.”

Part 4: Ed’s unfortunate involvement in “The God Makers 2,” the negative fallout, and Ed’s life from then until now.

Direct download: MormonStories-EdDecker-Full.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:37pm MDT

Today we interview Ed Decker -- ex-Mormon, Evangelical Christian, career "Anti-Mormon," and creator of the controversial 80's "anti-Mormon" movie called “The God Makers.”  Today’s interview focuses on four main areas:

Part 1: Ed’s conversion to Mormonism, his life as a Mormon, his loss of faith, and his excommunication.

Part 2: Ed’s “calling” to minister to Mormons, and the making of “The Godmakers.”

Part 3: A discussion about the impact of and controversies surrounding “The God Makers.”

Part 4: Ed’s unfortunate involvement in “The God Makers 2,” the negative fallout, and Ed’s life from then until now.

Direct download: MormonStories-1335-EdDeckerPt4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:32pm MDT

Today we interview Ed Decker -- ex-Mormon, Evangelical Christian, career "Anti-Mormon," and creator of the controversial 80's "anti-Mormon" movie called “The God Makers.”  Today’s interview focuses on four main areas:

Part 1: Ed’s conversion to Mormonism, his life as a Mormon, his loss of faith, and his excommunication.

Part 2: Ed’s “calling” to minister to Mormons, and the making of “The Godmakers.”

Part 3: A discussion about the impact of and controversies surrounding “The God Makers.”

Part 4: Ed’s unfortunate involvement in “The God Makers 2,” the negative fallout, and Ed’s life from then until now.

Direct download: MormonStories-1334-EdDeckerPt3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:31pm MDT

Today we interview Ed Decker -- ex-Mormon, Evangelical Christian, career "Anti-Mormon," and creator of the controversial 80's "anti-Mormon" movie called “The God Makers.”  Today’s interview focuses on four main areas:

Part 1: Ed’s conversion to Mormonism, his life as a Mormon, his loss of faith, and his excommunication.

Part 2: Ed’s “calling” to minister to Mormons, and the making of “The Godmakers.”

Part 3: A discussion about the impact of and controversies surrounding “The God Makers.”

Part 4: Ed’s unfortunate involvement in “The God Makers 2,” the negative fallout, and Ed’s life from then until now.

Direct download: MormonStories-1333-EdDeckerPt2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30pm MDT

Today we interview Ed Decker -- ex-Mormon, Evangelical Christian, career "Anti-Mormon," and creator of the controversial 80's "anti-Mormon" movie called “The God Makers.”  Today’s interview focuses on four main areas:

Part 1: Ed’s conversion to Mormonism, his life as a Mormon, his loss of faith, and his excommunication.

Part 2: Ed’s “calling” to minister to Mormons, and the making of “The Godmakers.”

Part 3: A discussion about the impact of and controversies surrounding “The God Makers.”

Part 4: Ed’s unfortunate involvement in “The God Makers 2,” the negative fallout, and Ed’s life from then until now.

Direct download: MormonStories-1332-EdDeckerPt1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:28pm MDT

When someone loses their faith in Mormonism, there are several paths  often followed.  One is to become agnostic or atheist, and never to rejoin a religion again.  One is to re-join a Christian church.  One is to follow a more fundamentalist Mormon path (e.g. Denver Snuffer, Preppers, Julie Rowe).  And one is to become susceptible to new age beliefs and other gurus or cult leaders.  Today we will be talking about the last option.

Teal Swan (born Mary Teal Bosworth) is described on her web site as an American spiritual teacher, author, and social media personality.  She was raised in Logan, UT, and as a teenager was connected to controversial Mormon therapist Barbara Snow, who was at the center of the Satanic Ritual Abuse panic in the 1990s and 2000s.  After a very turbulent childhood, which involved self harm and suicidality, Teal pursued modeling for a time, and eventually began pursuing the path of becoming a spiritual guide.

Teal's teachings on how to manage mental health issues have often been described as unconventional and she has received criticism for how she attracts fans, with some critics nicknaming her "The Suicide Catalyst".  At present she has 700,000 followers and has been covered by the BBC, and in several documentaries, including a recent documentary on Netflix.

Her history of work is highly controversial because it incorporates various super controversial and problematic ideologies and practices such as:

  • The cultivation of repressed/recovered (false) memories.
  • Claims of Satanic ritual abuse.
  • Energy healing.
  • Clairvoyance.
  • Numerology.
  • The Law of Attraction.
  • A belief in a "Third Eye."
  • The usage of crystals to "raise your vibration or frequency."
  • A belief in multiple lives.
  • A belief that she is an alien from another planet.
  • A belief in spiritual projections/possessions.
  • When dealing with suicidal clients, referring to suicide as "pushing the reset button" for a future life.
  • Communal living.

Jared Dobson was raised LDS, served an LDS mission, got married and divorced, became suicidal, and started searching for answers in New Age Spirituality.  He came across Teal Swan, and became a follower in her movement (a "Tealer") for 2 years.  He ended up moving in with Teal and became a part of her communal family in Park City, Utah.  They were romantically involved for 5-6 months, were set to have a child together, and as the relationship began to fray, Jared was kicked out of the commune and checked himself into a psychiatric ward (UNI at the University of Utah).

He has been recovering ever since.

This is Jared's story of his experiences with Teal Swan.  This story also has important connections to other cult-like phenomena occurring in recent times, including the Lori Vallow/Chad Daybell/Julie Rowe/Prepper phenomena.  It also is an insider's view into the emergence of a modern cult.

Direct download: MormonStories-1331TealSwanJaredDobson-Pt4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:24pm MDT

When someone loses their faith in Mormonism, there are several paths  often followed.  One is to become agnostic or atheist, and never to rejoin a religion again.  One is to re-join a Christian church.  One is to follow a more fundamentalist Mormon path (e.g. Denver Snuffer, Preppers, Julie Rowe).  And one is to become susceptible to new age beliefs and other gurus or cult leaders.  Today we will be talking about the last option.

Teal Swan (born Mary Teal Bosworth) is described on her web site as an American spiritual teacher, author, and social media personality.  She was raised in Logan, UT, and as a teenager was connected to controversial Mormon therapist Barbara Snow, who was at the center of the Satanic Ritual Abuse panic in the 1990s and 2000s.  After a very turbulent childhood, which involved self harm and suicidality, Teal pursued modeling for a time, and eventually began pursuing the path of becoming a spiritual guide.

Teal's teachings on how to manage mental health issues have often been described as unconventional and she has received criticism for how she attracts fans, with some critics nicknaming her "The Suicide Catalyst".  At present she has 700,000 followers and has been covered by the BBC, and in several documentaries, including a recent documentary on Netflix.

Her history of work is highly controversial because it incorporates various super controversial and problematic ideologies and practices such as:

  • The cultivation of repressed/recovered (false) memories.
  • Claims of Satanic ritual abuse.
  • Energy healing.
  • Clairvoyance.
  • Numerology.
  • The Law of Attraction.
  • A belief in a "Third Eye."
  • The usage of crystals to "raise your vibration or frequency."
  • A belief in multiple lives.
  • A belief that she is an alien from another planet.
  • A belief in spiritual projections/possessions.
  • When dealing with suicidal clients, referring to suicide as "pushing the reset button" for a future life.
  • Communal living.

Jared Dobson was raised LDS, served an LDS mission, got married and divorced, became suicidal, and started searching for answers in New Age Spirituality.  He came across Teal Swan, and became a follower in her movement (a "Tealer") for 2 years.  He ended up moving in with Teal and became a part of her communal family in Park City, Utah.  They were romantically involved for 5-6 months, were set to have a child together, and as the relationship began to fray, Jared was kicked out of the commune and checked himself into a psychiatric ward (UNI at the University of Utah).

He has been recovering ever since.

This is Jared's story of his experiences with Teal Swan.  This story also has important connections to other cult-like phenomena occurring in recent times, including the Lori Vallow/Chad Daybell/Julie Rowe/Prepper phenomena.  It also is an insider's view into the emergence of a modern cult.

Direct download: MormonStories-1330TealSwanJaredDobson-Pt3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:23pm MDT

When someone loses their faith in Mormonism, there are several paths  often followed.  One is to become agnostic or atheist, and never to rejoin a religion again.  One is to re-join a Christian church.  One is to follow a more fundamentalist Mormon path (e.g. Denver Snuffer, Preppers, Julie Rowe).  And one is to become susceptible to new age beliefs and other gurus or cult leaders.  Today we will be talking about the last option.

Teal Swan (born Mary Teal Bosworth) is described on her web site as an American spiritual teacher, author, and social media personality.  She was raised in Logan, UT, and as a teenager was connected to controversial Mormon therapist Barbara Snow, who was at the center of the Satanic Ritual Abuse panic in the 1990s and 2000s.  After a very turbulent childhood, which involved self harm and suicidality, Teal pursued modeling for a time, and eventually began pursuing the path of becoming a spiritual guide.

Teal's teachings on how to manage mental health issues have often been described as unconventional and she has received criticism for how she attracts fans, with some critics nicknaming her "The Suicide Catalyst".  At present she has 700,000 followers and has been covered by the BBC, and in several documentaries, including a recent documentary on Netflix.

Her history of work is highly controversial because it incorporates various super controversial and problematic ideologies and practices such as:

  • The cultivation of repressed/recovered (false) memories.
  • Claims of Satanic ritual abuse.
  • Energy healing.
  • Clairvoyance.
  • Numerology.
  • The Law of Attraction.
  • A belief in a "Third Eye."
  • The usage of crystals to "raise your vibration or frequency."
  • A belief in multiple lives.
  • A belief that she is an alien from another planet.
  • A belief in spiritual projections/possessions.
  • When dealing with suicidal clients, referring to suicide as "pushing the reset button" for a future life.
  • Communal living.

Jared Dobson was raised LDS, served an LDS mission, got married and divorced, became suicidal, and started searching for answers in New Age Spirituality.  He came across Teal Swan, and became a follower in her movement (a "Tealer") for 2 years.  He ended up moving in with Teal and became a part of her communal family in Park City, Utah.  They were romantically involved for 5-6 months, were set to have a child together, and as the relationship began to fray, Jared was kicked out of the commune and checked himself into a psychiatric ward (UNI at the University of Utah).

He has been recovering ever since.

This is Jared's story of his experiences with Teal Swan.  This story also has important connections to other cult-like phenomena occurring in recent times, including the Lori Vallow/Chad Daybell/Julie Rowe/Prepper phenomena.  It also is an insider's view into the emergence of a modern cult.

Direct download: MormonStories-1329TealSwanJaredDobson-Pt2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:21pm MDT

When someone loses their faith in Mormonism, there are several paths  often followed.  One is to become agnostic or atheist, and never to rejoin a religion again.  One is to re-join a Christian church.  One is to follow a more fundamentalist Mormon path (e.g. Denver Snuffer, Preppers, Julie Rowe).  And one is to become susceptible to new age beliefs and other gurus or cult leaders.  Today we will be talking about the last option.

Teal Swan (born Mary Teal Bosworth) is described on her web site as an American spiritual teacher, author, and social media personality.  She was raised in Logan, UT, and as a teenager was connected to controversial Mormon therapist Barbara Snow, who was at the center of the Satanic Ritual Abuse panic in the 1990s and 2000s.  After a very turbulent childhood, which involved self harm and suicidality, Teal pursued modeling for a time, and eventually began pursuing the path of becoming a spiritual guide.

Teal's teachings on how to manage mental health issues have often been described as unconventional and she has received criticism for how she attracts fans, with some critics nicknaming her "The Suicide Catalyst".  At present she has 700,000 followers and has been covered by the BBC, and in several documentaries, including a recent documentary on Netflix.

Her history of work is highly controversial because it incorporates various super controversial and problematic ideologies and practices such as:

  • The cultivation of repressed/recovered (false) memories.
  • Claims of Satanic ritual abuse.
  • Energy healing.
  • Clairvoyance.
  • Numerology.
  • The Law of Attraction.
  • A belief in a "Third Eye."
  • The usage of crystals to "raise your vibration or frequency."
  • A belief in multiple lives.
  • A belief that she is an alien from another planet.
  • A belief in spiritual projections/possessions.
  • When dealing with suicidal clients, referring to suicide as "pushing the reset button" for a future life.
  • Communal living.

Jared Dobson was raised LDS, served an LDS mission, got married and divorced, became suicidal, and started searching for answers in New Age Spirituality.  He came across Teal Swan, and became a follower in her movement (a "Tealer") for 2 years.  He ended up moving in with Teal and became a part of her communal family in Park City, Utah.  They were romantically involved for 5-6 months, were set to have a child together, and as the relationship began to fray, Jared was kicked out of the commune and checked himself into a psychiatric ward (UNI at the University of Utah).

He has been recovering ever since.

This is Jared's story of his experiences with Teal Swan.  This story also has important connections to other cult-like phenomena occurring in recent times, including the Lori Vallow/Chad Daybell/Julie Rowe/Prepper phenomena.  It also is an insider's view into the emergence of a modern cult.

Direct download: MormonStories-1328TealSwanJaredDobson-Pt1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:19pm MDT

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