BoM Reading Project Vol3Beta.3 and Vol.5 excerpt

Third installment of volume three: Beta Waves, in the ongoing Reading Project of the Cultural History of the Book of Mormon:



Also, if you have completed any of the volumes, from 1 all the way to 5, I’d love to hear what you’ve learned, and if what you’ve learned has changed how you practice/think about “Mormonism.” Again, I’m interested in hearing from those who’ve only finished Volume 1, to those all the way through Volume 5. I have no plans to use your words as advertisements, by the way; it would be nice to hear from readers, however. One can begin to doubt the value of one’s books, when a value other than monetary is of interest. You can reply to this post as a “comment,” or if you’d prefer to send something privately, send to

Finally, I’m providing this excerpt from Volume Five: Book Fantasia, drawn from a chapter discussing Nephi’s Vision and Prophecy.




  1. I have to say, first of all, that I didn’t intend to read any of these books. I read The Book of Mammon and enjoyed it, but I was afraid this Cultural History might prove tedious. Besides, I have a lot of stuff to read already, and I’ve never been much interested in things related to “church history.” My concerns with Mormonism have more to do with what happens than with what may have happened.

    I belong to an audience of skeptics. I’m not sure if that is the sort of audience you hope for. While my experience with the Cultural History has given clarity to the reasons why I doubt, the most interesting effect so far has been to make me consider what remains when I strip away all of the nonsense. And the interesting thing is to find that something does remain: The Book of Mormon. Your Cultural History demands that I look more closely at it. I think skeptics have the tendency to notice only the steaming, fetid swill of soiled bathwater, and we usually fail to see the baby that still languishes in it. So we throw the lot out at once.

    The Cultural History is like one who opens a present. On my daughter’s second birthday, for example, I gave her a birthday present with bright wrapping paper on it, and she was very satisfied with that pretty thing for almost a whole minute. She never once thought to do anything with it except to admire it until it became boring to her. After that, I had to point out the seams in the paper and start tearing it away before her interest in the present was rekindled.

    I am the two-year-old, and the Cultural History rekindles my interest in that gilded mediocrity of Mormonism. It does so by tearing down the seemingness of it and revealing something surprising underneath. Is it a good gift, worthy of faith? I still don’t know, but at least it is something more than what it was.

    So, the Cultural History is a kind of tearing down. But it is the unwrapping of a birthday present rather than the deliberate tearing of a fine tapestry. It is the sort of demolition that precedes something new, not the sort of demolition that leaves behind waste and disillusion. It can give hope to the disaffected, if they desire hope.

    I’m afraid that those who have come to expect what Neil Maxwell called “faithful scholarship” will not see it this way. They will only see the tearing down, but not what emerges afterward. I think yours are books for those whose sleep has already exhausted itself and who have grown impatient. Or sometimes their waking is accidental, as they notice some scene that isn’t quite right and remember that it is, after all, only a dream.

    Since beginning my reading of the Cultural History, not much has changed in my practice except that I have taken up the Book of Mormon once more.

  2. Well I hate to write something after a comment like pmccombs, but I am trying to read volume 2b because i want to know the origination of that endowment ceremony nonsense I saw on a utube video. Can u cut to the chase and tell me what pages i can read about that? I have a busy couple of weeks ahead of me what with the holiday and swimming lessons. Would really like to read this tonite or tomorrow so i know what the deal with that temple ceremony. Also, i bought ur book on amazon so i am a paying customer if that makes any diff.

  3. Daymon,
    My husband and I continue to download weekly and read. In between putting in a garden and work/work and housework and etc. So much to be done.
    But this book/these books are that important to us. Pmccombs said what we have been feeling. We are deeply concerned that the “gospel” of Jesus Christ has been completely obliterated in the modern church (LDS) and in all other Christian denominations as well. One of us was heavily involved in others for years before becoming LDS and has no great respect for that.
    We HAVE been asleep. SO FAST asleep. The Book of Mormon makes all the difference. And it is the hidden treasure. My husband and I, on our own, with no encouragement from anyone other than our own hearts (and years of reading Hugh Nibley, all right, all right, regards to Hugh)–
    began setting the Bible and all the other scriptures aside and reading only the Book of Mormon about five years or so ago.
    And then your book comes along.
    Culture is so hard to see when one is ‘inside’ it. How ethnocentric and arrogant *we* are.
    Anyway, I’ve certainly said enough, but we can’t wait for the next installment. My husband is re-grouting our shower, and he just said, “find the next download”–
    My husband and I are very much senior citizens; our peers at church are happily secure and have time on their hands, and we are not; we regularly put in 12-14 hour days of work, including paying work. Always worked hard, never earned as much as others; busy taking care of children with special needs. We are deeply self-sustaining; we’ve never asked anyone for help. But we’ve often felt like outcasts, even though we work extra hard to make everything shiny when we got out around others. Somehow we missed the boat in terms of our present prosperous LDS culture. Well, we adopted special needs children (one from a European country) instead of getting ‘secure’. We did what God asked us to do, and, as we did it, we were pushed more and more out of ‘the gospel tent’. And more and more into the Book of Mormon.
    And now we are feeling it deeply. This is good, but it’s not THAT good. Better we had learned humility without having to be humble?
    Yes, indeed. Thank you for the free downloads. Another person said they are a ‘paying’ customer. I wanted you to know that borderline impoverished (but independent) senior citizens are reading your books and thanking you for your generosity. We now have a substantial reason to understand why the Book of Mormon has been so maligned, so forgotten, so pushed aside. Things are fitting together. God won’t let us fall if we lean on Him and not on man. But that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate gifts from Godly people.
    Did I already say “thank you”?
    P.S. I know you aren’t trying to ‘malign’ Brigham Young, but I never liked the fellow, and now I feel validated. 🙂

    1. Well, there are ways to pay which are far more important than money. Spending time to read, and doing it out of deep concern to come to knowledge, is the only real form of payment (if that doesn’t make such a good thing too crass) that matters. It was for folks like you guys that I posted these PDFs, hoping that they would find good homes and be cared for by loving readers.

  4. It’s easy for doubts to abound, even when working very carefully.

    Things learned? That what two dudes suspected a couple years ago in an upper room is probably correct. Nice that someone with the wherewithal came along and laid it all out in a very thorough and transparent way. The power of voice, and its captivating nature. I never “believed” in magic spells until now. Now I almost fear to speak for conjuring up something unintended! Best of all, I think I am finally able to read the BoM without my mind “klunking” back into that old, frustrating groove.

    Like pmccombs , little has changed in my “practice”, but for probably very different reasons than his I suspect, and the history told in your books has given explanation to what is before me at church and in my home. I have decided that whatever the new imagined world is, it must come with space to include those whom I have grown very attached to over the years, but that may not see everything I would imagine up. So many loved ones who might consider me disloyal somehow, or disobedient, or a so-called covenant breaker, or perhaps as one shirking duty, or just plain bat-shit crazy. The way out (or through) must comprehend their being as well.

  5. Daymon,
    I cannot so eloquently state my thoughts as the others, but I would have to say that unlike Chuck and pmccombs, my practices have changed dramatically.

    The big realization and discovery from your books is that life is a story. It can belong to me or I can try to act my life out based on another’s imagination. I think this is what happens with metatext. Someone else (Satan, maybe?) attempts to claim authorship of my book, by means of “authority,” “command(ment),” and yes, even a magic spell or two. You see, if I will believe him and deny the influence of the true Author, then I am bound in chains.

    I remember sitting down with a good friend not too long ago and saying to each other, “If I get some input into what the story of my life is, why would I make it such drivel as those who sit in their high priestly seats would have me perform? Why not make it epic, full of texture, laughter, color, art, crazy experiments and mistakes, and even redemption? Couldn’t it be a symphony following the rhythm that God drums? Can my heart be aligned with His cadence instead of a corporation which only looks at me as a tithing receipt or a means to fill some sort of “calling?”

    That being said, my story must be adaptive to accommodate the tales told by others. There indeed may be times that I play roles in order to fit into the script of individuals who cross my path. This is different than giving in to the orders of kings. It is more along the lines of walking a mile with those who would keep my company.

    I also have come to look at the Book of Mormon as the great Muse of my life, for in it contains the formula for joy given by the Creator of Life Himself. Your Volume 5 (Fantasia) especially has inspired me to see the potential of the book, which translates to the potential of my own life and eventually the lives of all others.

    What is the value of these revelations? I’ll let you make that assessment. But “thank you” could never be sufficient on my part to express what a gem your books have been to me. I think the word “priceless” comes to mind.

  6. I just finished the first volume. I spent some time on it, reading and re-reading parts that were incomprehensible.
    I am inspired and appreciate the effort you put into the history researched and analytic work done to draw out a more correct understanding of the minds and actions of those who first received the Book of Mormon. It is obvious that such effort came only through a strong mental exercise of comparing and compiling. All of this makes clear why the Lord put us under condemnation for the way we treat the Book of Mormon. A gift we claim to be divine and all we have done with it is use it to justify the position that we found ourselves in before encountering its presence.

    If getting a wish from a bottle inhabiting genie/daemon were possible one thing that I would wish for is I would like you to give a more clear discursive effort on the last chapter of the first volume. There were things that I understood, and others that no matter how many times I read them, I couldn’t get a grasp of the point you were drawing from Foucault’s work.
    So if you ever have a time where you need to fill in information on some podcast: you have my wish to hear another attempt at explaining the points made in that chapter.

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