Sunday, March 23, 2008

COV for Sunday 24th March

Hello. Welcome to the COV for Sunday 24th March.

First off a contribution from Eric

A flashback to my Mormon days... Ode To Me, Ward Clerk.
A poem I wrote a few years ago for The Sugar Beet, an online Mormon satire magazine. I was a frustrated ward clerk in one of the most conservative wards in Happy Valley (my mustache/goatee was a constant source of contention in the stake, causing issues ranging from leading the young men astray to upsetting Jesus). I put some of my frustrations into this quick poem, which I submitted to be published in The Sugar Beet's printed edition. It never made it to the online or printed magazines, but eventually made it to The Sugar Beet's compendium of humor, The Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer.

My days as a ward clerk feel like a lifetime ago, but the emotions and frustrations are still as real today as they were then.

(MATT: Being a ward clerk sucks. About as much as being the Ward Exec Sec. All of the work, none of the benefits. (What benefits??))

And next from Runtu:

Here's my first contribution in over a year:

As for your tag line, try this:

Reality sucks. Try Mormonism!

(MATT: Thanks! A very thoughtful article. Mormonism DOES use fear to keep members down.

And maybe I could try that tagline! Sorry about the hyperlink not working. I can't figure out how to create hyperlinks in Firefox. Anyone got an idea, please?)

Here's one from Fr33kishly Paranoid.

An interesting post. He knows where the Golden Plates are!

And now we step over to South Bay Soliloquies where we read an interest post on running, running shoes and on how you can't stop in life.

And now here is mine (Without the hyperlink. Dang!)

I had a Mormon post a comment on my blog that Joseph Smith was a prophet even if physical reality told him it was not true.

I attempt in my post to examine Joseph Smith's false prophethood by comparing him to a fake doctor. (Actually a true story.)

Well, that's it for now. Easter is almost over for another year and I'll see you in another two weeks.

Why Joseph Smith is not a prophet

Joseph Smith is not a prophet. Why? Because he wasn't a prophet. It is as simple as that.

A practising Mormon called Andrew made the following point on my blog:
"Matt my friend,

Truth is found through prayer, fasting, and study, not through physical evidence.
I know Joseph Smith was a prophet because God Himself told me. He truly did. No amount of physical evidence, however persuasive, could convince me otherwise."

My reply was

"Andrew, my dear old mate, thank you for your comment.

I prayed. Long and hard. I fasted I prayed and I studied for a very long time.

And God told me that Joseph Smith was NOT his prophet. That the LDS church was NOT his church.

This came as something of a surprise, as I was firmly convinced that when I received an answer from God that it would confirm my testimony. But it did not.

Why did Joseph Smith NOT mention the several groups that did live in the Americas? Because he was not a prophet of God. It's that simple.

At times, I wondered if it would have been better to rely on the testimonies of others, not to do as I did to pray for my own, personal answer. Because the answer I got was a hard one. All I had been taught since my parents had converted to Mormonism was,God told me, wrong.

But as I grew older I came to accept the will of God more. If God had wanted me to have continued being a Mormon, he would have left me as one. He saved me."

How can I explain this? Let's suppose that instead of being a prophet, someone called Smith decided to pose as a Doctor of Medicine. He had a fake certificate printed up, that is such a good forgery that few think to ask any questions. Those that do question his status are regarded as being jealous. Because hasn't Doctor Smith got such a good bedside manner? Doesn't he really care for the older members of the community? Isn't he good with the children?

But eventually, other people start to ask questions. Dr Smith starts to prescribe some really bizarre treatments. The drugs he prescribes are often the wrong drug, or in the wrong dosages.

Or he prescribes two teaspoons of hair shampoo for an internal complaint.

He tells someone that there is nothing wrong with them, and it is found out when he collapses in the street that he has a cancer which, if Doctor Smith had referred him to hospital, would have been curable. But now it is too late.

Eventually the medical authorities step in and, at the outraged instigation of a pharmacist, they conduct an investigation. They discover that Smith had not attended medical college as he should have done, but had been asked to leave for various nefarious practices. He borrowed a genuine Doctor's certificate and has a perfect copy made but in his own name.

When this is discovered, many patients come forward with stories of how he failed to identify a wide variety of medical conditions. They had complained to the authorities but had been ignored as Dr Smith was such a popular doctor with the other doctors in the area.

The physical evidence that Smith was a fake Doctor was merely evidence that he was a fake medical practitioner. Not that his certificate was a fake.

Anyone can want to pretend to be a doctor, or an architect, or a police officer, or a general, or whatever. Only a man like Joseph Smith can desire to pretend to be something (in Smith's case, a prophet of God) and then to continue to put this desire into practice.

What about Frank Abagnale? He used falsehoods and faked papers to pretend to be a number of things. Including a teaching assistant at BYU.

Incidentally the story of the fake doctor who was spotted when he prescribed shampoo as an internal medication? It really did happen in Northern England, several years ago. And the local pharmacist, who had warned the medical authorities for several years about his suspicions that the doctor was a fake was eventually proved right.

Rather like when William Law published the Navoo Expositor in order to expose Joseph Smith as a fake prophet.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

COV for Sunday March 9

Hello and welcome to COV for this week. I am afraid you might have to copy and paste links this time. My version of Word will not work as I have not been able to register it, as it refuses to acknowlede that I am online using a wireless modem and Firefox. So much for modern technology. Unless I can fix it in another way!

This from Kita Kazoo:

Here's my submission - This post is an experiment, I am trying to politically stir up the progressive Utah Mormons by teaching them their religion.
(MATT: Looks like a cool idea)

This one is from Corn Child

The last week has been a total letdown. I have this overwhelming sense of dread and anxiety that I just can't seem to shake. I've been flying at 250 miles an hour for the last year and a half, working towards the big degree, and suddenly I'm done! Wham! There's no gradual descent back into reality. It's just over.

(MATT: This happens. The first semester I was a Mormon and finishing the exams left me feeling down for a couple of weeks. The next semester I was an ex-Mormon and we had a damn good party fuelled by much booze in the Student Union Bar, with the booze atradically discounted prices. And I had not a minute of post-exam depression.)

And Here's one form the archives of From The Ashes

The next blog entry is from South Bay Soliloquies.

"I added something to my morning routine today that I think will require a little extra coordination and some practice.

I tend to drink a lot of tea as my caffeine source, but sometimes I just have to have a cup of coffee. Especially since my exposure to using sweetened condensed milk as creamer."

(Condensed milk is great. Try whipping it. It whips up well.)

And last, here is mine.

See you next time! And please keep those blog posts flooding in!

How come Joe Smith never mentioned THIS?

Remote Ontario Lake Reveals Mysterious Ancient Structure


While divers were conducting a unique submarine project in MacDonald Lake at the Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve, they encountered an ancient stone structure revealing proof of life from Central Ontario ancestors.

The history of Eastern Canada is generally viewed in two stages: 1st - recent history, measured in decades and centuries, involving the early, white settlers and 2nd - the early history, measured in many centuries and millennia, represented by petroglyphs, stone mounds and arrow heads that takes us several hundred, sometimes a thousand or two years back into North America's native past.

A third stage may now have to be added: the ancient past, when the landscape hardly resembled the forest clad hills of today and the environment was just recovering from thousands of years of glaciation. Some ten thousand years ago, human populations were not measured in thousands or even millions like today, but dozens, or at best hundreds. Even this handful of ancestors managed to leave us proof of their existence. In a cold lake in remote Central Ontario a possible artifact has been recently discovered.

In the spring of 2005, diving was conducted in MacDonald Lake as part of a unique submarine project at the acclaimed Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve (

Haliburton Forest is a premiere Ontario attraction, well known for its commitment to education, wildlife and the environment. Repeatedly staff of Haliburton Forest would stumble upon an unusual stone structure, perched on top of a rock ledge at a depth of 40 feet below the present lake level. Initially the structure was considered a complex version of a “perched erratic†, those monstrous rocks, ferried by the glaciers thousands of years ago and dumped where they happened to melt at the end of one of the recent cold-freezes.

From across northern North America, examples of compound perched erratics are known, where 2 or even 3 rocks happened to land on top of each other, leaving behind a natural structure. Initially, this is what was considered to be the origin of the Haliburton Forest mystery rock formation. When several geologists and archaeologists saw images of this object - a 1,000 pound, elongated and south pointing rock sitting on baseball-sized stones at each end, which in turn, were resting on a massive, several thousand pound slab on top of the ledge, they expressed doubts about its natural origin. But could the structure be of human origin? If so, how could that be established?

Haliburton Forest engaged the services of an underwater archaeologist to examine the structure. Before diving, he explained that so far he had never encountered man-made rock-cairns, which were stabilised without the help of shim-stones. If he found these, it would convince him of the structure's man-made, not natural, origin.

After a 30 minute dive examining the rock assembly closely and carefully, taking pictures along the way, the expert emerged with his unequivocal conclusion: the existence of 3 shims was proof to him that the assembly of now seven rocks was the result of human activity and not a fluke of nature.

Subsequently, Haliburton Forest turned to the services of a statistician to calculate the probability of 7 rocks falling on top of each other creating a 'structure'. Albeit difficult to assess, he reported back that even 4 rocks creating a natural structure was almost unattainable, but that the probability of 7 rocks hitting at the right time and place was virtually impossible.

But who, and especially when was the structure erected? What was its purpose? Subsequent dives closely examined the structure for any signs of the use of tools, decorative images or other irregularities, to no avail. The thick layer of silt covering the vertical surfaces suggests that certainly within living memory no human has ever touched the structure.

Biologists and geologists weighed in to assist the puzzled archaeologists. The geologists pointed to a dramatic drought, which gripped Eastern North America between 9000 and 7000 BC. Conditions were so dry during that time that lake levels in the Great Lakes were up to 50 meters lower and inland lakes, like McDonald Lake, which were still fed by spring melt and summer rain water, were assumed several dozen feet lower than their present water levels.

And why then, at a time when so few humans roamed Ontario, would they pick remote MacDonald Lake for a stone cairn, especially such a large, elaborate one? Here is where the biologist pointed to the conclusion of his 30 years of research: McDonald Lake is home to an ancient, glacial relic lake trout, which had survived several bouts of glaciation and retained unique features, which allowed it to survive, where other fish had perished.

From his records, he could also add that McDonald Lake, in prehistoric times was not a lake, but part and north-westerly end-point of an ancient river system which, for millennia, funnelled glacial meltwater south into what was then mighty Lake Agassis.

Many visitors to Haliburton Forest who have seen images of the rock cairn have commented on its balanced, almost attractive appearance. The surface of the top rock is almost perfectly level. Many have pointed out the many similarities between the MacDonald Lake stone structure and an artic inukshuk.

The environment in the far north resembles what Central Ontario may have looked like after the retreat of the ice many thousands of years ago. The MacDonald Lake inukshuk sits at the edge of a deep ledge, pointing to the deepest hole in the entire chain of lakes, today some 150 feet deep. At times of dramatically lower lake levels, was this the pool where the ancient trout retreating to?

While many questions remain, it is very intriguing to imagine a small band of early humans, camped on the shores of a remote lake where today modern man camps and catches trout, just as his ancestors did thousands of years ago. The story of the MacDonald Lake stone structure adds a new dimension to resource use and stewardship in Ontario.

Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve features wilderness adventure activities including the Wolf Centre, the Walk in the Clouds forest canopy tour, groomed snowmobile trails, mountain biking, dogsledding, hiking, astronomy, wildlife observation, as well as wilderness camping and accommodations. For more information, please visit

Joe would have mentioned this, had he known about it? Well, yes. And that's the thing of it, isn't it? Joe only mentioned what he knew about. Sure sign of bieng a prophet! (NOT!)