About me

Welcome to seerstone, a blog I created to document my literary journey through the Book of Mormon.

I’m not a Mormon, an ex-Mormon, or connected to the LDS church in any way, I’m just an amateur theologian who’s fascinated by textual analysis.  While I also love to critically study other sacred texts of the world’s religions, like Baha’i scriptures, the Qur’an, the Baghavad Gita, and the Bible, the Book of Mormon appeals to me because it was originally written in my language, English.

If you haven’t figured it out, this blog will NOT follow the official LDS version of Mormon textual history.  While much is written about the Book of Mormon all over the internet, from commentaries to polemic, I’ve found the available materials lacking in the type of literary analysis I prefer.  The LDS church only seems interested in the literary qualities of the Book of Mormon to try to prove it as an authentic ancient scripture, and the opposition finds little to no value in the book.  My intent is not to recycle the content that’s already out there, but provide a fresh, new look at the Book of Mormon as literature.  To understand it from this perspective, it will be necessary to accept it as later than its source material and a product  of the editing and redaction within it, both of which point unequivocally to Joseph Smith or/and his 19th Century contemporaries.

This position may be difficult for Mormons to accept, yet I don’t want any readers to feel this is a decidedly anti-Mormon blog; these are merely the logical conclusions from literary analysis.  It is my hope that everyone, from Mormons to atheists, can come to learn about the Book of Mormon and its literary value from this journey.  Feel free to provide your feedback, good or bad, just keep it civil.

4 responses to “About me

  1. JT


    Have you read Joseph Smith: The make Believe Martyr, Why the Book of Mormon is America’s Best Fiction?


  2. no, I’ll check it out thanks!

  3. JT

    FYI, This is an exerpt from a letter I wrote to a knowledgeable person about this book

    I am currently reading Joseph Smith, The Make-Believe Martyr by Lofte Payne (apparently a pseudonym) and was wondering if you know of it.

    Payne attempts a literary/ historical critical reading of the Book of Mormon, which he describes as the “7th literary wonder of world” that has gone unrecognized for its “prosaic” surface features and biased reading due to its purported provenance. However, his analysis narrowly serves a somewhat perverse theory that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon to accomplish a covert impious agenda – that of ultimately liberating people from theism altogether. He refers to the Book of Mormon’s “second channel” filled with muted biblical and theological parody and satire, as well as coded blueprint for Joseph’s life course – a self-fulfilling prophecy ending in his self-orchestrated martyrdom…

    Part of what I find intriguing about this book, whether or not it was actually Joseph’s intent, is that the Book of Mormon and Joseph’s behavior have led to this outcome for many. If I were inclined toward post-modernism I could “groove” on this reading, ignoring objective standards of context-sensitive evidence in the service of self-serving wants and biases. But I am not so inclined.

    After a bit of Internet digging I discovered this book is connected to a 1980s book titled The Best Kept Secrets of the Book of Mormon by Loftes Tryk. This I deduced from the similar first name and Daniel Peterson’s FARMS review that mentioned common elements. However, significant differences suggested that it is a major rewrite, either by the same ex-convict (http://www.shields-research.org/Critics/Trykback.htm and http://www.homefacts.com/offender-detail/CA1869408319211/Loftes-Tryk.html) or, perhaps, a different anonymous author.

    Peterson’s review was so filled with pompous sarcasm and dismissive ridicule that I was left wondering if there might be some merit to it. That he devoted 10,000+ words to his screed added to this possibility. And while “Make Believe Martyr” definitely seems overreaching in many places, and at times downright implausible, I have found it interesting, amusing, and in places insightful. Payne – this pseudonym may play homage to Thomas Paine who the author claims influenced Joseph through his Uncle Jesse – writes very well. However, his scholarly references are narrow – he mainly appeals to the scriptures, the Documentary History of the Church, the Journal of Discourses, and Lucy Mack Smith’s biography of Joseph. Still, I sense that there are kernels of substance in his analysis even if it ultimately jumps off the rails.

  4. I built a new website that will be more succinct and direct. Try looking at bookofmormonlit.com.

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