Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Uto-Aztecan and Its Connection to Near Eastern Languages, Part 1: A Credible Proposal from Brian Stubbs?

In a previous post, "Bigger Than Nahom?," I mentioned that the "next big thing" in LDS apologetics could well be the thoroughly documented discovery of Brian D. Stubbs that there is a significant amount of Semitic and Egyptian influence in the Uto-Aztecan language family. Stubbs' work is provided in two recent books, one for LDS audiences and one for linguists. They are, respectively, Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now (Blanding, UT: Four Corners Digital Design, 2016) and Exploring the Explanatory Power of Semitic and Egyptian in Uto-Aztecan (Provo, UT: Grover Publications, 2015).

Is Stubbs' Work Credible?

Brian Stubbs is a linguist whose credential and skills cannot be lightly dismissed. He is among a handful of specialists in Uto-Aztecan who has published significant works in the field (e.g., Brian D. Stubbs, “More Palatable Reconstructions for Uto-Aztecan Palatals,” International Journal of American Linguistics 66/1 (Jan. 2000): 125-137)  that appear to have been well received among linguists,  particularly his significant scholarly work, Uto-Aztecan: A Comparative Vocabulary (Blanding, UT: Rocky Mountain Books and Publications, 2011),  with over 400 pages of analysis exploring 2700 cognate sets among the Uto-Aztecan languages. In his review of Stubbs’ work for the International Journal of American Linguistics, fellow Uto-Aztecan specialist Kenneth C. Hill described it as “a monumental contribution, raising comparative UA to a new level” (see Kenneth C. Hill, “Uto-aztecan: A Comparative Vocabulary by Stubbs,” International Journal of American Linguistics 78/4 (October 2012): 591-592). 

Stubbs earned an M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Utah and completed coursework and comprehensive exams (ABD) toward a Ph.D. in Near Eastern languages and linguistics at the University of Utah. He has studied Hebrew, Arabic, Egyptian, Aramaic and many Native American languages. While he does not have a Ph.D., he is among key publishers of articles on the Uto-Aztecan language family in linguistic journals. His book Uto-Aztecan: A Comparative Vocabulary is the largest in the field, doubling the size of previous works on comparative Uto-Aztecan studies. He recently retired from teaching at the College of Eastern Utah.

The “elephant in the room” for critics, at least, is why this recent work linking the Near East and the New World has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Based on personal correspondence with Brian Stubbs, peer-review is his goal. His work, inherently controversial since it clearly supports Book of Mormon claims, has been sent to his fellow Uto-Aztecan specialists, with no public but several private comments so far, and eventually will be ready for the challenges and pains of the peer review process, but this takes time and faces some practical and political considerations.

One must recognize that this work is highly controversial and easy to dismiss without serious consideration, based not just on its ties to the Book of Mormon but also on the centuries of past abuse from amateurs claiming linguistic connection between Native American languages and Hebrew. This abuse is reflected in a statement on the Native American Languages (Native-languages.org) website:

Q: Are Amerindian languages descended from Hebrew, Ancient Egyptian, Scandinavian or Celtic languages?
A: No. The people who claim this are trying to prove that American Indians arrived in the Americas very recently…. I have seen many websites claiming to "prove" that Amerindian languages are descended from Semitic or Germanic languages. 90% of these websites are deliberately lying, making up nonexistant "Algonquian" words that resemble words from Semitic languages. A quick glance at a dictionary of the Amerindian language in question will reveal these websites for what they are. The other 10% are using linguistically unsound methods--searching two languages for any two vocabulary words that begin with the same letter, essentially, and presenting them as evidence. Using this method, English can be "proved" to descend from Japanese--English "mistake" sounds a little like Japanese "machigai". In fact, if you randomly generate some vocabulary with a computer program, you will be able to find a few words with surface resemblance to any language you want. Real linguistic analysis requires dozens of vocabulary relationships which are regular and predictable, as well as similarities in phonology and syntax, to show that one language is related to another…. No linguist has ever shown a relationship between any Amerindian language family and a Semitic, Germanic or Celtic language.
Naturally, with or without a favorable review from other scholars, the critics will have plenty of opportunities to cry foul. Already critics have dismissed his work by mischaracterizing it as merely compiling a list of random hits, and they justify their dismissal by pointing to a handful of examples of chance coincidences that can occur in any language. Some anti-Mormon forums, for example, cite a few random coincidences or point to a list of “Amazing Coincidences” among languages to show how chance can lead to apparent correspondences.  That list does illustrate how chance can lead to a interesting parallels between two unrelated languages, and also reflects the very small number of such correspondences, a mere handful, that one tends to find between any specific pair of unrelated languages. As stated in the quotation from the Native American Languages site above, “Real linguistic analysis requires dozens of vocabulary relationships which are regular and predictable” (emphasis added) — dozens, not a handful. Perhaps 1500 might be considered a good start.

Is 1500 genuinely significant? Relative to the 2700 cognates in UA languages published by Stubbs  in his well regarded scholarly work, Uto-Aztecan: A Comparative Vocabulary,  his 1500 cognates with Near Eastern languages may involve roughly 30% of the 2700 entries in his Comparative Vocabulary (some of the 1500 Near Eastern words are reflected in UA words that don’t belong to the set of 2700 or sometimes a single Proto-UA (PUA) cognate may have related UA words that are connected to multiple items on the Near Eastern list, so the ratio is not simple 1500/2700). That percentage may be shifted up or down with future work and peer review, but this is a level of relationship that far exceeds the minimal criteria to establish a legitimate linguistic relationship.

However, critics can also argue that combing through three languages to find cognates for the 30 languages of the UA family will unfairly inflate the odds of finding random hits to proclaim as amazing successes. But the body of cognates for all three Near Eastern languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Egyptian are each independently large enough (hundreds, not just dozens, and vastly more than chance would explain) to demand respect. Further, the hits reported by Stubbs are frequently cognates to PUA with many related descendants among the 30 individual languages.

Further still, the consistent patterns of sound changes are a vital issue that show meaningful relationships beyond random chance. Indeed, it is the explanatory power of Stubbs’ work that demands particular attention and further scholarship, perhaps several lifetimes of scholarship, for that is the level of commitment that such challenges tend to require of those who bring major breakthroughs in understanding language.


Laying a Linguistic Foundation
While some readers will want to dive into the “wow” factors in the evidence right away, Stubbs properly demands more patience from his readers, particularly in Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now, where a basic foundation is laid regarding the approach linguists take in exploring the changes in languages over time and the methodologies requires to establish plausible connections between languages. I found these sections engaging and interesting without being overly technical, and should be enlightening to lay students of languages. 

Stubbs offers many words of caution in presenting his work, and recognizes that linguists will look dimly at his proposal, at least initially. Over the past 3 centuries, they have grown weary of amateurish attempts in the past to link Egyptian or Hebrew to New World languages. “Most such claims have been bogus to borderline or amateurish at best, … void of sound methodology” and “lacking what linguists have found to be established principles and patterns for verifying language relatedness: rules of sound change that create consistent sound correspondence, hundreds of vocabulary matches consistent with those sound correspondences, and some grammatical and morphological alignments, which sum constitute the comparative method. Thus, the language similarities in this work are presented within such a framework of sound correspondences, etc. In fact, the Semitic of Egyptian forms proposed to underlie the UA forms often answer questions and explain puzzles in UA that Uto-Aztecanists have not yet been able to explain, and explanatory power is a cherished quest among linguists.”  Nevertheless, many details remain to be worked out. Stubbs is cautious in presenting his work as an initial effort that may yet require lifetimes of further research, just a many decades of work were required to unravel sound shifts in Germanic and other languages.

Let us now turn to the details in these recent works of Stubbs.

Abbreviations and Other Notes

Several abbreviations will be used here, following Stubbs. UA = Uto-Aztecan, PUA = Proto-Uto-Aztecan, a proto-language that is reconstructed from the evidence available from related languages and hypothesized to have existed as an ancient  parent language, like Proto Indo-European for the Indo-European language group.

A capital C denotes an unspecified consonant and a capital V denotes an unspecified vowel. Thus –Cr– denotes a word with a consonant before an “r.” Capital N denotes a nasal consonant: n, m, or ŋ.

An asterisk denotes a proto-language that is reconstructed and hypothesized to have existed as a parent language, like Proto Indo-European. Thus PUA *p represents the p sound in Proto-Uto-Aztecan, a proto-language that is reconstructed from the evidence available.

Inequality signs denote the direction of change: > means the preceding word or sound changed to or became another as in b > kw, and < means the preceding word or sound changed from or derived from the following word or sound.

Some abbreviations of UA languages:
Ca Cahuilla; Ch Chemehuevi; Cm Comanche; CN Classical Nahuatl; Cp Cupeño; Cr Cora; CU Colorado Ute; EU Eudeve; HP Hopi; KTN Kitanemuk; KW Kawaiisu; LS Luiseño; LP Lower Pima; MN Mono; NP Northern Paiute; NT Northern Tepehuan; NU Northern Ute; NUA Northern Uto-Aztecan; NV Nevome; OP Opata; SH Shoshoni; SP Southern Paiute; SR Serrano; ST Southern Tepehuan; SUA Southern Uto-Aztecan; TB Tübatülabal; TBR Tubar, TO Tohono O’odham, in Arizona; TR Tarahumara; UA Uto-Aztecan; UP Upper Pima; WC Huichol; WMU White Mesa Ute; YQ Yaqui.
Today we'll look at some data for one infusion, Semitic-p, and in later posts will review some of the data for the other two infusions considered.

The Semitic-p Infusion

The Semitic-p infusion into Uto-Aztecan includes words where Semitic b became p in Proto-Uto-Aztecan, a concept written as Semitic b > Uto-Aztecan *p. Examples below are listed with the cognate number from Stubbs’ 2015 technical publication, Explanatory Power:

(527) baraq ‘lightning’ > UA *pïrok; MY berok ‘lightning’

(528) byt / bayit / beet ‘house, spend the night’
> UA *pïtï; TR bete ‘house’
> UA *pïtï ‘lie down, spend night’; Numic *payïC ‘go home’ [recall that the “C” denotes an unknown consonant]

(528) Semitic bytu / bat-uu ‘spend the night, pl’
> UA *pïtu ‘lie down, spend the night, pl’

(531) Hebrew boo’ ‘coming (used as ‘way to’)’
> UA *pooC ‘road, way, path’

(534) Hebrew batt ‘daughter’ > UA *pattï ‘daughter’
(550) Aramaic bǝsár ‘flesh, penis’ > UA *pisa ‘penis’
(559) Semitic *bakay; Syriac baka’ ‘cry’ > UA *paka’ ‘cry’

Just as b changes to p, the other voiced stops also tend to devoice in this infusion. Thus, Semitic b, d, g > UA p, t, k; also Semitic q > k. Several examples include:

(606) dubur ‘buttocks, rear’ > UA *tupur ‘hip, buttocks’

(607) dobɛr ‘pasture, vegetation’ > UA *tupi ‘grass, vegetation’

(1484) dwr / duur ‘go round, turn, revolve’ > UA *tur ‘whirl, roll, twist’

(1103) dakka ‘make flat, stamp, crush’ > UA *takka ‘flat’

(1279) Aramaic *yagar ‘hill, heap of stones’ > UA *yakaR / *yakaC ‘nose, point, ridge’

(608) gdʕ ‘cut off’ > UA *katu’ ‘cut, wound’

(57) *siggoob ‘squirrel’ > UA *sikkuC ‘squirrel’

(1014) qədaal ‘neck, nape of neck’ > UA *kutaC.

Another characteristic of this infusion is that “Proto-Semitic *đ (> Arabic đ, Aramaic d, Hebrew z), corresponds to UA *t (note that UA t best matches Aramaic d (> t) and the vowelings also match Aramaic).”  Examples:

Aramaic dakar ‘male’ > UA *taka ‘man, person’

Aramaic diqn-aa ‘beard / chin-the’
> UA *tï’na ‘mouth’ (not Hebrew zaaqaan)

Aramaic di’b-aa ‘wolf-the’ > UA *tï’pa ‘wolf’ (not Hebrew hazzǝ’eb)

Semitic *đabboot(eey) ‘flies’ > UA *tïpputi ‘flea’

Another sound change here is Semitic ’aleph or glottal stop ’ > w in UA (also known in Arabic), or other times a glottal stop and round vowels occur (o, u). A few of Stubbs’ many examples include:

(566) Hebrew ’ariy / ’arii ‘lion’ > UA *wari ‘mountain lion’

(567) Hebrew ya’amiin-o ‘he believes him/it’ > UA *yawamin-(o) ‘believe (him/it)’

(569) Hebrew ’egooz ‘nut tree’ > UA *wokoC ‘pine tree’

(571) Semitic ya’ya’ / yaa’ayaa’ ‘(be) beautiful’ > LS yawáywa, SR yï’aayï’a’n ‘be pretty, beautiful’

(572) Hebrew ’iiš ‘man, person’ > UA *wïsi ‘person’

(574) Hebrew ’išaa / ’ešɛt / ’išt- ‘woman, wife of’ > UA *wïCti ‘woman, wife’ (reminder: C = unknown consonant; V = unknown vowel)

(577) ’aas- ‘myrtle willow’ > UA *wasV ‘willow’

(579) pa’r- ‘mouse’ > UA *pu’wi(N) ‘mouse’

(1333) Hebrew m’n / *me’’an ‘refuse’ > Hp meewan- ‘forbid, warn’

Another common and logical sound change is Semitic initial r- > t- in UA:

(600) r’y / raa’aa ‘see, v’ > UA *tïwa ‘find, see’

(603) Aramaic rima / rimǝ-taa ‘large stone-the’ > UA *tïmï-ta ‘rock’

(604) Aramaic rə’emaan-aa / reemaan-aa ‘antelope-the’ > UA *tïmïna ‘antelope’

(99) Semitic rakb-uu ‘they mounted, climbed’ > UA *tï’pu / *tïppu ‘climb up’

Other readily understandable sound changes include the loss of a final -r, as in:

(565) makar ‘sell’ > UA *maka ‘give, sell’

(616) dakar ‘male’ > UA *taka ‘man, person’

and the Semitic initial voiceless pharyngeal ђ > UA *hu, or w/o/u, and non-initially ђ > w/o/u, as in:

(672) ђbq ‘break wind’ > UA *hupak- ‘stink’ (*q > k)

(673) ђnk ‘train, dedicate’; Hebrew ђanukkaa ‘dedication, consecration’ > UA/CA huneke ‘to take an Indian bath’; YQ húnak-te ‘show, direct, raise (young)’

(671) ђmm ‘heat, bathe, wash’ > UA *huma ‘wash, bathe’

But many sounds remain much the same, such as such as t, k, p, s, m, n. Examples include:

(52) Hebrew mukkɛ ‘smitten’ > UA *mukki ‘die, be sick, smitten’

(769) *taqipa (sg), *taqipuu (pl) ‘overpower’ > UA *takipu ‘push’ (*q > k)

(755) Hebrew kutónet ‘shirt-like tunic’ > UA *kutun ‘shirt’

(754) Hebrew participle pone ‘turn to, look’ > UA *puni ‘turn, look, see’

(851) Hebrew panaa-w ‘face-his’ > UA *pana ‘cheek, face’

(852) pl. construct paneey- (< *panii) ‘face, surface of’ > UA *pani ‘on, on surface of’

(1339) šippaa ‘make smooth’ > UA *sipa / *sippa ‘scrape, shave’

(56) šεkεm / šikm-, Samaritan šekam ‘shoulder’ > UA *sïka ‘shoulder, arm’, Numic *sikum ‘shoulder’

(563) sapat ‘lip’ > UA *sapal ‘lip’

(879) šwy / šawaa ‘broil, roast’ > UA *sawa ‘boil, apply heat, melt’…

(1105) kali / kulyaa ‘kidney’ > UA *kali ‘kidney’

(1409) Aramaic kuuky-aa’ ‘spider-the’ > UA *kuukyaŋw ‘spider’

An interesting subtlety is that Semitic-p apparently distinguishes between two H sounds in Proto-Semitic, written as *x and *ђ, that merged in Hebrew after the Exile and were merged much earlier in Phoenician. Thus, while ђ > UA *hu or w/o/u, Semitic *x > UA k:

(630) *xole ‘be sick, hurting’ > UA *koli ‘to hurt, be sick’

(631) xmr ‘to ferment’; *xamar ‘wine’; Arabic ximiir ‘drunkard’ > UA *kamaC ‘drunk’

(632) *xnk ‘put around the neck’ > UA konaka ‘necklace, string of beads’

Impressive Depth

The entries in Exploring the Explanatory Power are far more than the amateur list of stray parallels that some critics are imagining from Stubbs. I’ve been impressed with how consistently deep and expansive Stubbs’ analysis is, though I speak as a non-expert. To let readers judge for themselves, I provide a couple of his 1500 entries.

824 Hebrew hayyownaa / hayyoonat ‘dove’:  UA *hayowi ‘dove’.

Note loss of -n- also in Ktn[Kitanemuk] payo' ‘handkerchief’ < Spanish paño; similarly, Sapir claims that single *-n- disappears and only geminated *-nn- survived in SP:

UAcv-696 *hayowi 'dove': M88-h03; KH.NUA; KH/M06-h03: Two languages (Hp, Tb) agree with *howi: HP höwi, pl: höwìit 'dove, mourning dove, white-winged dove'; Tb 'owii-t 'dove'. In contrast, three Numic languages show hewi: Mn heewi' 'mourning dove'; TSh heewi-cci 'dove'; Sh heewi 'dove'. Numic forms showing hewi (Mn, TSh, Sh) leveled the V 's from -ai- / -ay- in *hayowi > heewi, o shortened to be perceived as part of-w-; so as CU 'ayövi and Wc haïmï suggest the first vowel was a. Kw hoyo-vi 'mourning dove'; CU 'ayövi 'dove'; Ch(L) hiyovi; and Sapir's SP iyovi- 'mourning dove' with the final syllable as part of the stem, as in CNum, all show -y-. Kw and CU seem to have reinterpreted the final -vi as an absolutive suffix, but Ch, SP, and CNum suggest otherwise, and we again see -w- > -v- in Num. Most of NUA suggest *hayowi. NP ihobi 'dove' transposed the h.
*hayowi     > hewi (Sh, Mn, TSh)
> hayo    >     'ayö- (CU), iyovi (SP)
> hoyo- (Kw), hiyo(vi) (Ch) > ihobi (NP)
> *howi    > höwi (Hp)
> 'owii-t (Tb)

Only the -n- is missing. Wc haïmï/’áïmï 'dove' and the -howa- of Tr čohówari / čohóbari 'turtle dove' are probably related as well. Wc ï could be a leveling of -yow- (*hayow > haï). TO hoohi 'mourning dove' is probably related in some way, perhaps with preservative consonant harmony (*howi > hoohi), and TO does keep PUA *h sometimes.

[TO keeps  *h; wN>m in wc?, -n- > ∅] [1h,2y,3w,4n] [NUA: Num, Hp, Tb; SUA: Tep, TrC, CrC]
Having recently discussed the significance of several Hebrew words related to dust-motifs in the Book of Mormon, particularly ’pl related to darkness and obscurity, where an interesting wordplay may occur with the word ’pr meaning “dust” in 2 Nephi 1:23, I wished to look at the details Stubbs had uncovered regarding a  relevant term:
871 Hebrew 'pl 'be dark'; Hebrew 'opεl 'darkness'; Hebrew 'aapel 'dark'; Hebrew 'apelaa 'darkness'; Arabic 'afala (< *'apala) 'go down, set (of stars)'; like 'set' and 'go down', this Semitic root also means 'be late, in the day or in the season'; a causative Hebrew form in Jastrow's Aramaic(J) is later Hebrew hε'εpiil 'make dark' with unattested impfv ya'piil (m.) and ta'piil (f.). The unattested huqtal 3rd sg masc and fem passive of the above root would be Hebrew *yu'pal and *tu'pal 'become dark, be gone down (light)' aligning perfectly with UA *yu'pa(l) and *tu'pa(l) in the sets below; in UA *cuppa, the palatalization t- > c- due to the high vowel u, and the cluster doubles the -pp-: Semitic *tu'pal > cuppa:
UAcv-891 *cuppa 'fire go out': M67-171 *cupa 'fire go out'; 236 'go out (of fire)'; M88-cu9; KH/M06-co21:
Tb cupat, ’ucup 'be out (of fire)' ; Tb(H) cuppat 'fire to be out, go out'; Wr co'a 'put out fire'; Wr co'i 'be out (of fire)' ; Tr čo'á-ri- 'have another put out fire’; Tr čo'wi 'dark'; NV tubanu 'bajar de lo alto [go down from high up)'. …

In the following, the semantic tie goes from 'set, go down, end (day)' to 'end (of whatever)':
UA cv-871a *cuCpa/i / *cuppa 'finish, be end of s.th.': I.Num258 *cu/*co 'disappear'; M88-cu1 'finish'; KH/M06-cul: Mn cúppa 'disappear'; NP coppa 's.th. sinking'; My cúppe 'terminarse, vi'; My cúppa 'terminar, vt';
AYq čupa 'finish, complete, fulfill (vow)'; AYq hi(t)čuppa 'completing, fulfilling (vow), harvesting', AYq čupe 'get completed, finished, married, ripe'; AYq čupia 'be complete'; Yq čúpa 'terminar (bien)'; Wr cu'piba-ni 'acabar'; Sr 'ičo'kin 'make, fix, finish'; Wc sïï 'finish'. Note Mn 'disappear' and NP 'sinking' reflect 'sun going down'. The over-lapping semantics (finish/harvest) in Cah (My, AYq) may have us keep in mind *cuppV 'gather, close eyes'. Does Sr ‘ičo-kin 'make, fix, finish' have hi- prefix or is it from Hebrew ya-suup 'come to an end'?

UAcv-871b *copa / *cupa 'braid, finish weaving': Tr čobå/čóba- 'trenzarse, hacerse la trenza', Tb tadzuub 'braid it'; CN copa 'finish weaving/constructing s.th.'; CN copi 'piece of weaving or construction to get finished'…. [NUA: Num, Tak, Tb; SUA: TrC, CrC, Azt] 

Other groups of UA words related in different ways to Hebrew *yu'pal and *tu'pal  include, in the abbreviated format from Changes in Languages:

(872) ’pl / *yu’pal ‘be dark, go down, m’ > UA *yu’pa > *yuppa ‘be dark, black, (fire) go out’

(873) ’pl / *yu’pal ‘be dark, go down, m’ > UA *yu’pa(l) > Aztecan *yowal, CN yowal-li ‘night, n’  (The Aztecan branch regularly loses a single -p-)

Several other dust-related correspondences include item 591, Hebrew ’adaama and UA *tïma, “earth”;  item 150, Egyptian t’, “earth, land, ground, country,” cf. Coptic to, and UA *tiwa, “sand, dust,” and also UA *to’o, “dust”;  item 162 Egyptian šʕy ‘sand’ (Coptic šoo) > UA *siwa(l) ‘sand’;  and item 665, Aramaic ђirgaa’, “dust,” and UA *huCkuN (C again means an unknown consonant and N is a nasal sound), “dust”. 

The richness of linkages in the vocabulary related to dirt, dust, earth, and sand is reflected in many other areas, ranging from body parts and functions, animals, pronouns, numerous details of daily life, etc.

Overall, these two new works are impressive contributions not just to the study of language in the Americas but also to the study of the Book of Mormon. In terms of Book of Mormon evidence, what Stubbs has begun here may be one of the most significant advances in our ability to relate the Book of Mormon to New World data. Stubbs conclusions were driven by data and unexpected discoveries, not by a desire to prove anything or see something that isn’t really there. It can only be hoped that others will consider the data as well and the impressive case it makes for Old World infusions into the New.  


There is much more to explore in following posts, including the explanatory power of his finds.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Ambulance Never Came

I usually walk or ride my bike to and from work, but on a cool rainy night recently, I tried taking a bus instead. Ended up taking much longer than just walking. Part of the problem was a busy road (Gubei Road near Gubei's elegant pedestrian street) was partly blocked by a traffic accident. As we drove by the scene, I saw a car and a little motorcycle-powered three-wheeled rig for a restaurant delivery service. There was a woman pacing next to the car talking to someone on a cell phone. And then I saw two feet pointed upwards on the ground. A man was lying on the asphalt near the car that had struck his little vehicle. Cars were passing near him. It was raining on him. Nobody seemed to be looking after the victim, with hundreds of cars steadily moving on both sides. Why was nobody helping?

It seemed beyond my ability to do anything about it, but I got off at the next stop and thought I should at least walk back to the accident site and see if things were OK. I debated internally as I pondered all the things I needed to do and the shear improbability of making a difference because things were probably under control by then. But I felt drawn and so I went back. As I approached the scene, I was relieved to see two police officers had shown up. Things were under control. Still, I crossed the street near them to get a peak at the victim, whom I assumed would now be receiving some kind of help. He was still lying in the same place, rain falling on him, with no protection. Then I realized that, perhaps for the first time ever, I had two umbrellas with me that day. I had grabbed one when I went to work, forgetting that I already had one in the bag I carry. I had two, and since the officers didn't seem to have any, I could offer them one to help them at least keep the victim dry until an ambulance showed up.

The officer I spoke to recognized that an umbrella would be useful, but he was busy directing traffic and said if I wanted to, I could hold it for the victim. Well, OK, the ambulance would be here any minute and so sure, I could help out a bit. I recognized that people passing by might think that I had been the driver of the vehicle that struck the man, but hoped that I would be doing more good than harm by being the volunteer umbrella holder. The woman driver who had been standing around doing nothing said something like, "Oh, right, good idea" when I started trying to protect the victim. But she didn't offer to take over that role.  I was disappointed that the driver didn't seem very worried about the delivery man she had struck. He was about 50 years old and had a lot to say about the allegedly reckless driver who struck him while he was driving properly and carefully. Proper driving isn't all that common here, so I can't judge who was at fault. He worked for one of Shanghai's best and healthiest restaurants, Element Fresh, which I would learn provides good health care coverage for their employees.

The man was in pain but it didn't appear critical, but I was worried about the possibility of internal bleeding and wanted the ambulance to get there ASAP. After about 10 minutes I asked if  ambulance was coming. "Yes, I called for one." After about 20 minutes I asked again and she then said that the ambulance service she called had said all the ambulances were busy and that they would call her when one became free. Huh? I talked to the police and suggested that we should give up on this no-show ambulance and take him to the hospital in a taxi. There were taxis coming by all the time. Why not use one of them?

The police reminded me that the man was injured and it would be dangerous to move him ourselves. By then, though, the man was really sick of lying on the road and said he was going to sit up, and would we help him. So the police helped him to sit up. And then he said that this was a bad place to be waiting and that he wanted to talk over to the curb where it would be safer and more comfortable, and could we please help him walk over there? So the police helped him as I held my two umbrellas above us, and continued holding both for the man and me as we waited. And waited. I again raised the possibility of a taxi. After about 40 minutes of waiting, the police saw that as a good idea and agreed. So I waved down a taxi and wondered if I would be needed to take the man to the hospital, but was relieved to see that the police arranged for the woman to take the man there and that I would not be needed.

The ambulance never came. A poor man struck by a car laid on the road for perhaps an hour or so waiting for am ambulance that never came. A Taiwanese friend of mine later suggested that the woman may have lied and never called the ambulance because in China it is the person who calls the ambulance that pays for it. Perhaps. But later another friend at lunch shared an even more painful story of a stroke victim he was helping in Shanghai, where it took an hour to get an ambulance and then when they came, the team had rough street people who moved the victim like one moves a bag of potatoes. In any case, in this, one of the most advanced and modern cities in the world, when you need it, the ambulance might not come for a very long time. This is a problem that can happen anywhere, especially in times of crisis, not just in rush hour.

By the way, I was able to reach the man later to check up on him. He's doing well and is taking a month off from work to recover from the injury to his side. No surgery needed. He was quite upbeat. Element Fresh provides good health care benefits it seems and the responsible driver paid for the medical care. I also was impressed that the leaders at the Element Fresh restaurant at Yili Road/Yanan Road were aware of the man's situation and care about him and helped me contact him to check on his status. To thank Element Fresh (and more selfishly, to enjoy delicious, healthy dining), my wife and I dined there last night and had a wonderful meal.

More and more, it seems that we need to be increasingly prepared to take care of ourselves and reduce our dependency on others. When it comes to health, we need to be doing more to reduce our future reliance on services that might not be there or whose quality might be far below what we need. Now is the time to exercise, lose weight, stop smoking, eat wisely with plenty of plants in our diet, and to reduce behaviors that put us at risk.

As I reflect upon the many things I am grateful for, the gift of physical health is high on the list. Each day as I experience the fascinating sights and sounds of China, most commonly on my way to and from work by walking or riding my bike through the always intriguing streets of Shanghai, I ponder on what a blessing it is to be able to walk or ride.

A couple years ago I had a near-miss with a bad surgeon at a good hospital here who was going to "fix" a knee problem (he said he would repair my meniscus), but after I had checked in for the surgery, a comment from one of the staff about "removing the meniscus" raised my suspicions and I decided to just get up and walk away. I've been walking ever since. Had I succumbed to the recommended surgery, I think my mobility might have been impaired.

After I walked away, I called a physical therapist I knew for a second opinion. He said the way to check to see if I really needed surgery would be to go to another reputable hospital and meet with a surgeon there and show them my MRI scan, but tell them that if I needed surgery, I would not do it there so they would have no profit motive to sell their surgery to me. Surgery is the solution for everything in China, he explained, because that's where the profit is. Something like 70% of all babies born are delivered with C-section. And I suppose a lot of knees get repaired unnecessarily as well.

I took a taxi to another hospital and minutes later was meeting with a surgeon. He checked my knee, looked at the MRI, and said this was not a case where surgery was needed. "Try physical therapy." I went to that physical therapist and after the first treatment, my problem was significantly reduced, and ten treatments later, I was pretty much back to normal. There is a damaged meniscus, but better  damaged one than none at all. I came so close to reducing my long-term mobility, and I remain grateful every day that I can walk or ride. It's exhilarating to move and to be independent. I will greatly miss this freedom when it is gone or limited someday. But for now, my mobility is one of my most cherished gifts, and I recognize it all the more as a gift since that near miss, and from some accidents that could easily have given me a broken bone or worse, where I am just so grateful to have been able to walk away.

Our health is so precious, and it is up to us to protect it. With the strains on the healthcare system and the increasing difficulty of paying for medical insurance, coupled with the decreasing quality of coverage in many places, it is imperative that we do more to preserve our health and to be able to cope with our problems on our own or with our own resources. We can't always assume that the help we expect to get will be available. And when we do get it, even from good doctors at good clinics, things can go wrong. Prevention must be our first line of defense. Being prepared to render first aid and take care of basic problems is also vital. For more serious things, doing our own research so we understand the issues can make us less dependent on one person's opinion and can often increase our ability to guide outcomes in the right direction.

Special thanks to those of you who are going into the the medical profession. We need more good doctors, nurses, and other experts. Thank you!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Dusting Off the Chiasmus in Alma 36: The "Loose" Parts May Have More Structure Than We Thought

Part 3 of my series on dust-related themes in the Book of Mormon has just published:  "'Arise from the Dust': Insights from Dust-Related Themes in the Book of Mormon (Part 3: Dusting Off a Famous Chiasmus, Alma 36)," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 22 (2016): 295-318. This applies the lessons from Parts 1 and 2 to the debate about Alma 36 as a deliberate chiasmus. Yes, there is a debate, in spite of widespread recognition among LDS scholars (and even a few non-LDS scholars) of Alma 36 as a masterpiece and key example of the Book of Mormon's many brilliant displays of chiasmus, for some parts of it become rather sloppy. In a couple of spots, many words spanning more than a single verse provide just one small concept in the chiasmus, allowing critics to claim that the chiastic structure reflects clever cherry picking by modern LDS scholars (John Welch) rather than clever drafting of Semitic poetry by an ancient author.

The arguments against Alma 36 are weak as a whole, in my opinion, though they do raise some legitimate concerns. However, once we understand how the theme of rising from the dust permeates the Book of Mormon and what the related complex of motifs mean, we can see that the weak portions of Alma 36 are actually imbued with more parallelism that previously recognized.

For example, once we know that falling to the dust/earth can be a symbol of physical as well as spiritual death, the three statements about Alma falling to the ground in the "sloppy" portion first half of the chiasmus are nicely balanced with the most appropriate opposite concept: being born again, which is mentioned three times in a sloppy portion of the second half. In fact, there is much more going on in these seemingly sloppy sections. By looking at dust-related themes, we can recognize that, in fact, there are a series of intertwined parallel structures that can be looked at as "strands" in the poem. The ones I isolate may be unintended and, yes, the result of my imagination, but there are enough interesting elements strengthening this chiasmus, including another possible wordplay near the pivot point, that at a minimum I suggest it deserves further work and more attention.

I would welcome your comments, both here and over at The Interpreter

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bigger Than Nahom? The Surprising Link Between Semitic Languages and the Uto-Aztecan Language Family

When asked what the most impressive evidence is for Book of Mormon authenticity, serious students of the Book of Mormon often point to one of a small handful of items: the finding of candidates for Bountiful, Nahom, and the River Laman in the Arabian Peninsula (particularly Warren Aston’s Lehi and Sariah in Arabia and In the Footsteps of Lehi); the existence of chiasmus and Hebraisms, particularly Hebraic wordplays; the diverse and consistent testimony of the witnesses of the gold plates (see Richard Lloyd Anderson’s works); and the strength of numerous cultural and geographical correspondences between Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon (e.g., John Sorenson’s Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon and Mormon’s Codex, Brant Gardner’s Traditions of Our Fathers, etc.). Of these, I think the Arabian evidence has the most easily appreciated “wow” factor. The evidence related to Nahom, including archaeological confirmation that that tribal name was in the right spot in Lehi's day, and its precisely plausible location relative to the leading and amazing candidate for Bountiful. It takes serious effort and a great deal of advanced scholarship to minimize the growing body of evidence from Arabia — and so far those failed efforts have only helped to highlight how improbable it was that Joseph could have fabricated the details of Lehi’s trail. So Nahom and the Arabian evidence are often considered at the top of the list for impressive Book of Mormon evidence.

While the attacks of critics have failed to diminish the luster of the Arabian evidence, a new work from an LDS scholar may actually achieve that unintended effect — not by attacking past scholarship, but by uncovering what may be an even more exciting line of evidence for the Book of Mormon which one day may displace Arabia as the “go-to” topic for Book of Mormon defenders. LDS linguist Brian Stubbs, through his decades of exploration of the Uto-Aztecan language family (spanning southwestern Mexico to the Western United States with languages like Nahuatl, Shoshone, Navajo, and Hopi), has uncovered a very big surprise. It was not something he was expecting to find. He resisted it for years until the data became overwhelming and demanded some kind of treatment. But his research points to strong influence from Semitic languages in Uto-Aztecan that are consistent with two major infusions from the Near East into the ancient New World. In fact, there is evidence for an infusion bringing Egyptian language and one flavor of Hebrew, with another infusion bringing a different flavor of Hebrew (different set of behaviors in how sounds like "b" in Hebrew shifted in UA).

The challenge, however, is that his evidence is far more technical than, say, showing photographs of the proposed Bountiful site at Khar Kharfot in Oman and listing how perfectly the leading candidate accords with Nephi’s text. The strong and compelling evidence of ancient Semitic elements in Uto-Aztecan from a skilled linguist, thoroughly aware of what it takes to establish relationships between languages, demands a good deal from reader to appreciate the linguistic data that now exists, and may take decades before it’s explanatory power is widely recognized in the Church and among other hesitant scholars. But what has been achieved already is so remarkable and so interesting that it may well deserve to be the next big thing in LDS apologetics.

Let me jump to the big picture and put it in context: Stubbs has documented 1500 correspondences between Uto-Aztecan and ancient Semitic languages, particularly Hebrew, Aramaic, and Egyptian. The Semitic influence identified shows patterns consistent with two different infusions, an infusion of one type of Hebrew/Aramaic along with Egyptian, as if from the entry of Lehi and his group, and another infusion of a different dialect of Hebrew that evolved in slightly different ways, as if it were the Hebrew/Phoenician from Mulekites.

The level of Semitic presence in Uto-Aztecan turns out to be much greater than the level of Hebrew in the Yiddish language, which is well known to have developed from Hebrew speakers coming to Europe. Similar changes and adaptation of local languages may have happened with both the Nephites and Mulekites, but the result has left us with much more easily identified remnants of Semitic influence than we find in Yiddish This is a level far beyond mere chance and highly contrived pattern seeking.

In many New World languages, 100 to 200 such cognates are what was required to show a legitimate connection and establish a language family. Cognates and parallels in words and grammar happen by chance all the time in languages. But when they are due to chance, you’ll find a few handfuls, as we sometimes do between Chinese and English. Some, like “mama” for mother may point to common ancient roots shared by many languages, while others are just random and don’t fit any kind of meaningful pattern. In related languages like German and English, however, numerous cognates can be found and they often reflect sound changes that follow some common patterns, like the hard “H” sound of German’s buch becoming the k in book and in many other cognates (e.g., kuchen and cook, suchen and seek). Offering far more than just 100 or 200 cognrates, Stubbs so far has found and published over 1500 cognates and identified many intriguing patterns that point to a strong relationship between these languages. His work, inherently highly controversial since it clearly supports Book of Mormon claims, has been sent to his fellow Uto-Aztecan specialists, with no public but several private comments so far, and eventually will be ready for a fair peer review process, but this takes time and faces some practical and political considerations.

Stubbs’ work is in two volumes, one intended for LDS readers and one intended for linguists. The lighter work for LDS audiences is Brian D. Stubbs, Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now (Blanding, UT: Four Corners Digital Design, 2016). This 210-page book includes useful background material on the evolution of languages and the relationships that link languages, as well as some background on the Book of Mormon. The meat of the book are the large sections exploring patterns of relationships with many specific examples creating impressive cases for relationships between Uto-Aztecan and Semitic languages, including Hebrew and Egyptian.

Stubbs’ larger, more technical volume is Exploring the Explanatory Power of Semitic and Egyptian in Uto-Aztecan (Provo, UT: Grover Publications, 2015). This book has 436 large pages and plenty of small print with extensive technical detail, offering 1500 detailed examples of parallels.

In subsequent posts, I'll discuss some specific examples and the interesting trends he uncovers. To me, there are some really amazing finds that go far beyond what one might expect from chance. Some of these were shared in Brian Stubbs' 2016 FairMormon Conference presentation, but there is much more to discuss and ponder.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Part 2 of the Dust-Related Publication is Now at MormonInterpreter.com

I'm happy to announce that Part 2 of my three-part series on dust-related themes in the Book of Mormon has published at The Interpreter (MormonInterpreter.com). This one is actually my favorite of the series and I hope you'll take a look. The article is "'Arise from the Dust': Insights from Dust-Related Themes in the Book of Mormon (Part 2: Enthronement, Resurrection, and Other Ancient Motifs from the 'Voice from the Dust')."



Sunday, November 13, 2016

How Mormon Women Party in Shanghai: Liberating Girls in Africa with a "Days for Girls" Service Project

When Mormon women party in Shanghai, the world becomes a better place. Especially parts of the world like Africa where women face roadblocks to education due to lack of feminine hygiene supplies. It may sound like an unusual topic for a party, but the bustling, intense party of Mormon women  that I crashed yesterday was actually an inspiring service project in collaboration with Days for Girls International. The many hours of selfless labor by these expat women in assembling and sewing kits of washable feminine hygiene products will advance education and self-reliance of women in Africa by dramatically reduce absenteeism in school and helping women become more independent and free from exploitation.

Women without education in many parts of the world are much more likely to end up being exploited by men. Days for Girls provides not just kits for coping with physical needs, but provides encouragement and information to girls to stand up for themselves and to recognize and flee from abuse. It gives them the power to say no and be free. In fact, part of the inspiration for Days for Girls came when some great women recognized the need to help African girls free themselves from exploitation linked to the challenge of feminine hygiene:
The girls were radiant when we shared what we had come with. 500 young women in the slums near Kibera, Kenya received DFGI kits and learned about health, hygiene and safety. According to one report from the World Health Organization 74% of African girls are sexually exploited before age 12, so we discussed not only hygiene and how to use kits, but also about their worth and encouragement to stand up for each other and against abuse. Nicole* (Not her real name to protect her identity) was one who came forward with huge gratitude. She explained that many of the girls were exploited in exchange for hygiene before we came. She said if they wanted to leave their rooms or attend class, they had to agree to have "relations" with the director of their school who would only offer them funds for hygiene if they did. Her testimony was not alone. Many others confirmed her story. When we realized how great the ramifications are for those that go without - and the power a simple solution has, we knew we had to help more. That was the day our program was born.  [Source: "Their Own Stories," Daysforgirls.org.]
The impact of Days for Girls is far more than just economic. A simple gift with much needed encouragement and teaching can break a variety of chains that enslave women.

So much depends on education. Education is a liberating force, but available education doesn't help much unless students can attend school. And to receive the economic benefits of education, they need to attend, pass exams, and graduate. For some women, menstruation means not just missing school, but lengthy forced isolation from home and society. Simple products can free them and keep them in school or at work.

Interestingly, the disposable feminine care products that I used to work with during some of my many years at Kimberly-Clark Corporation and that I still work with to some degree here in China may not be the best solution for some parts of the world, even if provided for free. These products, unfortunately, can cause plumbing problems where there is plumbing, or serious pollution when used products are discarded improperly in ditches, canals, etc. When they are purchased, there is a tendency for low-income users to use a single product far too long, which can result in poor performance and even some health issues. For millions seeking to rise from poverty, reusable, washable products appear to be a sound, practical solution. Such products are included in the kits made by hand by Days for Girls volunteers, like the large group of women in Shanghai yesterday who spent one of the year's most beautiful Saturdays in humble service to liberate girls in Africa.

It was a very active and busy party, also known as a Women's Conference, organized by the District Relief Society Presidency of the Shanghai International District of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with a lot of help from a wonderful advocate of Days for Girls in Shanghai. Women not just from Shanghai but also from Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and other areas came, some coming the night before and staying overnight or for the weekend to be able to participate in service as well as learning in some classes also held throughout the day. I think there were also a few non-LDS friends (also foreign passport holders only, as required for our religious activities).

For the record, the activity was held in careful compliance with regulations from the government in China.

Of course, there are written regulations and then there are the sometimes more important unwritten rules, one of which seems to be that all major activities in China need to include delicious food. Check! The professionally made pies were awesome, and I also was pleased to be handed a tasty Subway sandwich when I arrived, quite hungry (after having skipped lunch while returning that day from a business trip on beautiful Hainan Island, choosing not to eat the food on my flight). No, there was not much in the way of Chinese food this time, unless cheesecake or apple pie actually has Chinese origins. Given the riches of China's ancient inventions in some many areas, I wouldn't be completely surprised.

Many thanks to the kind women of the Shanghai International District and their friends for their service. And while we do have openings for you here in the branches of Shanghai, you don't have to move to China to get involved in the same worthy cause. You can actually just go right over to Daysforgirls.org and make a donation, as my wife and I did today, or perhaps support related projects in your neighborhood.

I wasn't supposed to even be in town to be able to drop in on this event, but thanks to an unexpected incident that required me to return early from a long business trip, I was able to drop in for a while shortly after I landed in Shanghai. So glad I could. Had no idea this event would be so cool.

Here are some photos:








Monday, November 07, 2016

New Book of Mormon Insights at the Interpreter

A new article of mine just published over at the Interpreter (MormonInterpreter.com). My earlier exploration of dust-related themes in the Book of Mormon has been refined, expanded, and revised through further work and through the peer review process, so I hope it will be more valuable to some of you now. That work has become a three-part series, beginning with the new publication, "'Arise from the Dust': Insights from Dust-Related Themes in the Book of Mormon (Part 1: Tracks from the Book of Moses)" by Jeff Lindsay in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 22 (2016): 179-232. It's also available as a PDF file and a voice recording. 

This first part identifies a variety of new elements that support Noel Reynolds' hypothesis about the Book of Moses material having influenced the Book of Mormon writers most familiar with the brass plates. To me, that's plenty interesting in its own right. Finding a potential Hebraic wordplay or two in some of the sections that draw upon Book of Moses themes and dust-related motifs was another surprise for me. The sophistication of the Book of Mormon's deployment of the ancient motifs related to dust was also quite interesting to me, especially its use of Isaiah's "rise from the dust" theme (explored more in Part 2 coming this Friday). There's a good reason why the Book of Mormon serves as a "voice from the dust."

But there has been much more happening at the Interpreter in recent articles. For example, the new wordplays identified by Matthew Bowen in several different articles ought to raise a few eyebrows. Take a look at the recent works there and then do the world a favor by making a generous donation to keep the Interpreter going.

The Winds of War

As we approach this election, I'm concerned that America will remain mired in no-win foreign wars which engorge the coffers of the elite few while sacrificing the well-being and some of the lives of the rest of us. I admit that I speak with great bias, for I have eight grandchildren and the prospect of seeing any of them dragged into war terrifies me.

Both candidates for America's next autocrat can be trusted to spend trillions to meet the needs of the military-industrial complex. One candidate seems intent on provoking a foolhardy war with Russia by enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria, another country where we are involved without a constitutionally sound basis.  The same candidate was the author of the "Pivot to Asia" policy that, as adapted by President Obama, already has our military here in Asia provoking China. The winds of war are blowing, even if we ignore the rise of Isis and trouble in other spots in the world.

War has changed a lot from the good old days of blood and gore on the front lines. There will always be that, but in a war involving Russia or China, there could be some bitter surprises for all of us, and I'm not talking about nuclear weapons. If a serious but non-nuclear war with other superpowers were to occur, I predict that on Day One or shortly thereafter, we will find just how much damage the world's best hackers actually can do when needed. Imagine banks being shut down, accounts closed, and ATMs run dry. It would not be difficult to have power plants shut down, water purification systems fail, much of the grid brought down, and many portions of the Internet brought down. None of these are going to improve our flagging economy. Any one of these could have dramatic effects on your personal life and well-being. The food you have stored and the cash you have on hand at home may be all you can access for a period of time. Are you prepared?

This would be a good time to review the wise words of a great prophet of God, Spencer W. Kimball, in "The False Gods We Worship" (Ensign, June 1976):
In spite of our delight in defining ourselves as modern, and our tendency to think we possess a sophistication that no people in the past ever had—in spite of these things, we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people—a condition most repugnant to the Lord.

We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:44–45.)

We forget that if we are righteous the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us—and this is the special promise to the inhabitants of the land of the Americas (see 2 Ne. 1:7)—or he will fight our battles for us (Ex. 14:14; D&C 98:37, to name only two references of many). This he is able to do, for as he said at the time of his betrayal, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53.) We can imagine what fearsome soldiers they would be. King Jehoshaphat and his people were delivered by such a troop (see 2 Chr. 20), and when Elisha’s life was threatened, he comforted his servant by saying, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kgs. 6:16). The Lord then opened the eyes of the servant, “And he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Kgs. 6:17.)

Enoch, too, was a man of great faith who would not be distracted from his duties by the enemy: “And so great was the faith of Enoch, that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch.” (Moses 7:13.)

What are we to fear when the Lord is with us? Can we not take the Lord at his word and exercise a particle of faith in him? Our assignment is affirmative: to forsake the things of the world as ends in themselves; to leave off idolatry and press forward in faith; to carry the gospel to our enemies, that they might no longer be our enemies.

We must leave off the worship of modern-day idols and a reliance on the “arm of flesh,” for the Lord has said to all the world in our day, “I will not spare any that remain in Babylon.” (D&C 64:24.)

When Peter preached such a message as this to the people on the day of Pentecost, many of them “were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37.)

And Peter answered: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and … receive the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38.)

As we near the year 2,000, our message is the same as that which Peter gave. And further, that which the Lord himself gave “unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear:

“Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh.” (D&C 1:11–12.)

We believe that the way for each person and each family to prepare as the Lord has directed is to begin to exercise greater faith, to repent, and to enter into the work of his kingdom on earth, which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It may seem a little difficult at first, but when a person begins to catch a vision of the true work, when he begins to see something of eternity in its true perspective, the blessings begin to far outweigh the cost of leaving “the world” behind.

Herein lies the only true happiness, and therefore we invite and welcome all men, everywhere, to join in this work. For those who are determined to serve the Lord at all costs, this is the way to eternal life. All else is but a means to that end.
May be avoid war and proclaim peace.  May we regain the rule of Constitutional law in our land and learn to apply the checks and balances meant to restrain the ruthless ambition of modern Gaddiantons or scoundrels who cannot be trusted with unlimited power and the dreadful machines of modern war.