Month: March 2020

Book of Mormon Translation Process: Did Joseph Smith use a Seerstone or the Urim and Thummim?

Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith through the power of God. How this happened is a subject of some debate as the historical record of the process and the translation story taught to Mormons and church investigators differ considerably.

In a strange twist that seems like it belongs more to an alternate dimension, the translation process depicted in the South Park episode All About Mormons tells a more accurate story of the Book of Mormon’s creation than the faith-promoting version of the translation process taught by the Mormon church.

The Faithful Version

One thing is not in dispute between the official and the more historically accurate version of the translation of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith claimed to have been visited by an angel who revealed to him the location of golden plates an a nearby hill. It would be four years before the angel who visited Smith would let him take the plates for translation. The first Mormon prophet would return to the site every year until he was allowed to take the plates from the HIll Cummorah.

The version of the Book of Mormon translation story that the church teaches has Joseph Smith using a device called the Urim and Thummim. The Urim and Thummim was a pair of glasses with diamond lenses attached to a jewel encrusted breastplate. Joseph Smith looked into the lensesand he would see the text in English. The words the prophet saw would be read aloud and the scribe working with Smith committed the words to paper.

The Seer Stone – the More Historically Accurate Version

The actual translation process worked a little differently. Viewers of South Park may remember Joseph Smith putting a seer stone into a hat and reading off the words that appeared on the seer stone, according to The Mormon Times.

Daniel C. Peterson, one of the leading apologists for the Mormon church and a professor of Islam and Arabic studies at Brigham Young University, confirms that Joseph Smith used a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon. Peterson states that only the seer stone that belonged to the prophet resulted in a successful translation. The Brigham Young University professor relates the story where Martin Harris, one of Smith’s scribes, replaced the prophet’s seer stone with a similar looking rock. The translation process could not proceed until Smith’s seer stone was placed back in the hat.

Other Book of Mormon Translation Theories

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other Restorationist groups have long maintained that the Book of Mormon could not have been produced by an uneducated farm boy. One of the most common alternate theories for how the Book of Mormon was produced is that the text was copied or plagiarized from another manuscript called Views of the Hebrews.

The Views of the Hebrews theory has never been proven and the question of whether Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon or if the text was the product of an imaginative but uneducated farm boy continues to be debated.

Driving Route One through Big Sur, California: Highlights along One of America's Most Famous Roadways

The stretch of coastline, loosely referred to as Big Sur, has something for everyone. Some highlights are featured here from south to north.

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is a National Historic Landmark and destination for one million visitors annually. Built for William Randolph Hearst beginning in 1919, major construction continued until the middle of the century. In 1957, Hearst Castle was donated to the State and is currently maintained as a state historic park with tours available.

Elephant Seal Rookery

The elephant seal rookery located on the ocean side of Route 1 near San Simeon is the largest on the West Coast of the United States. It is free to visit.

Piedras Blancas Light Station

Piedras Blancas Light Station is located at the northern entrance to San Simeon Bay. First activated in 1875, the light was automated one hundred years later. The station has been unmanned ever since. The property is now maintained by the United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management. Docent-led tours focus on everything from the history of the light to the natural history of the surrounding land.

Salmon Creek Falls

Salmon Creek Falls is located near the community of Gorda. It is a 120 foot waterfall, which is easily reached by way of a path on the inland side of Route 1.


Henry Miller Library

Henry Miller stated: “It was here in Big Sur I first learned to say Amen!” The Henry Miller Library is the repository of both books and artwork by Henry Miller, including an impressive collection of first editions. There is a peaceful lawn and sculpture garden where tech savvy travelers can even take advantage of free WiFi.


Nepenthe is a restaurant with spectacular views of the coastline. Once owned by Orson Wells, the property became a restaurant in 1949. Lunch is served every day, and dinner is available year round except Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is also a café called Café Kevah, as well as a shop called the Phoenix Shop.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is maintained by California State Parks. The main attraction is McWay Falls, a waterfall which plunges 80 feet directly into the Pacific. This is the only perennial waterfall in California which falls directly into the Ocean.

Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn

Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn was founded by Helmuth and Helen Haight Deetjen. Administered today by the Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn Preservation Foundation, the property is operated on a non-profit basis. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and guests can stay in cabin-like rooms tucked beneath soaring redwoods. There is an excellent restaurant.

Point Sur Lighthouse

Point Sur Lighthouse is the only complete turn-of-the-century California lighthouse open to the public. Completed in 1889, the light sits atop a 361-foot tall rock. The light was automated in 1972. The property was transferred to California State Parks in 2004, and three-hour, docent-led walking tours are offered.

Bixby Bridge

Bixby Creek Bridge opened Big Sur to automobile traffic in 1932. It is 714 feet long and 24 feet wide. At its highest, it is over 280 feet high. The main span is 320 feet long, and the bridge is one of the most photographed sites in Big Sur.

Point Lobos

Point Lobos was called “the greatest meeting of land and water in the world” by early California painter Francis McComas. Today it is considered to be the crown Jewel of the California State Park System. The Park is a destination in-and-of-itself and may be explored at length.

Audi A5 Review – Winter Driving

The Audi A5 coupe comes in an all wheel drive version that can handle winter weather conditions. Audi has made a car capable of driving in snow and ice.

The Audi A5 is a 2-door sports coupe that is designed to achieve both stylish luxury and high performance. Buying into the hype, this writer purchased a fully loaded pitch black A5 in the early part of 2010. In contrast to most car articles that list performance specs, options and technical data, this is a true story of how the Audi A5 performed in some of the worst driving conditions this writer has ever seen.

Audi Dealership

There is always some aspect of apprehension when purchasing a new car, especially when switching to a new automaker. As many people already know, the feelings when purchasing a new can fluctuate between excitement, anxiety, doubt, and skepticism.

One recommendation is to find a dealership and sales associate that you are comfortable working with. The dealership where my car was purchased was not the first Audi dealership I visited and I did not even begin the buying process until I found a sales associate I was comfortable with. In a strange way, when you meet the right sales associate, you just know. If there is any doubt, they are not the right one for you.


As with any major purchase, there is a negotiating and bargaining process that is to be expected. Did I believe I got away with some great steal? Probably not. Did I think the dealership made some pretty good money off my purchase? Probably. Do I believe that I received a good deal and a great car? Absolutely. Of course I checked, filtering through endless forums for prices being paid by consumers across the country, before even stepping foot into a dealership.

Audi A5

Like most people, I do not proclaim to be an automobile expert, but I can appreciate a nice car. When initially purchasing the A5, I’ll admit I was drawn to the flashy day running lights that are so obviously emphasized in the commercials. However, I also knew that I wanted a coupe, and that it absolutely had to be all wheel drive. Fortunately, the A5 is available in an all wheel drive version.

Winter Driving

Growing up in the Midwest, I learned to respect winter weather while driving. Of course this lesson was only learned after multiple accidents. From personal experience, front wheel drive cars tend to do fairly well provided the driver uses common sense and safe driving practices. However, I will admit that every time it snowed or rained in the wintertime, getting into a rear wheel drive car felt like stepping into a death trap.

I cannot count the number of times my rear wheel drive car seemed to slip right out from under me, in what appeared to be clear conditions, except for maybe a little snow and ice. I have vowed never to purchase a rear wheel drive car again, so long as I live in an area that receives significant amounts of snowfall.

How the Audi A5 Handles in the Winter

On the night of November 20th 2010, rain started to drizzle down on the twin cities. By the early morning hours of November 21st, the rain had become a sheet of ice covering almost every hard surface. Unfortunately, I had gone out earlier in the evening when the weather was still clear. I remember walking on the sidewalk was nearly impossible, managing only a few steps before slipping and sliding. I remember thinking to myself that driving home was going to be an ordeal. In normal conditions, it may take me 15 minutes to drive home from where I was that night. Although it ended up taking upwards of 2 hours, I fared much better than most people.

According to the Savage Pacer News Site, there were 438 reported crashes on roads throughout the state. Please keep in mind that all these occurred within a timeframe of a few hours. I can only describe what I saw, which were 5 to 7 car pileups, countless scattered accidents, cars pulled over on the side of the road, and semi trucks as well as city busses stopped in their tracks.

Numerous exit ramps onto interstates were completely blocked off. The ice did not discriminate by make or model, as both compact cars and SUV’s slid off the road. I can only assume that most of the drivers were not driving recklessly and were even cautious due to the weather conditions.

Aside from the occasional slip when braking, the A5 was able to handle roads too icy for people to walk on. Although I had initial apprehensions about my decision to purchase the Audi A5, I knew I made the right decision as I drove past countless accidents. I know I am not an expert on cars nor am I a car salesman.

All I know is that I got home safe that night.