Season 3 premieres Sunday at 4:30 and 6:30 on KJZZ channel 14

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Season Three is premiering this week and I’m really excited about the investigations we’re diving into. The first series investigates the hill Cumorah to determine if it was in fact the ancient battle field of the Nephites. I investigate the history, latest scholorship and archaeology to fill in the picture of Cumorahland and the events that took place there. We make some startling discoveries including undocumented ancient fortifications that have been hidden in the woods of western New York for thousands of years.

The program will be airing on KJZZ channel 14 over the next few months and DVD’s will be availible soon in the bookstore.

-Ryan Fisher

Book of Mormon research conference MESA, ARIZONA

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Next week I’m joining Bruce Porter and Wayne May for an all day Book of Mormon conference in Mesa, Arizona where we’ll be presenting the latest in Book of Mormon research. Everyone with an interest in these subjects is welcome. It’s going to be a great event.

Event Details:

A Prophetic Look at the Lands 2



A call to action


Here’s a link to the recent press conference calling for legislation that protects religious freedom. It lays out the same case we discussed in Season TWO of the program. Please pass this on to friends and family, we need to raise an army of constitutionally minded, well educated defenders of freedom! all the while maintaining compassion and tolerance for others with differing opinions. This may be the defining fight of our generation that will have major consequences for untold generations to come.

Growing our faith through Grief

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This is an article about a cousin of mine who has a special story that we all can benefit from. Each summer my family has a large family reunion in Southern Idaho at my great grandparents farm just west of Preston. We fill the weekend with fun games and activities. Brittney still attends in spite of fact she is confined to her wheelchair. While she may not be able to participate in some of the activities, the fact that she has kept her faith and testimony through just a traumatic experience is an inspiration to me and many others of our family.

With all the discussion and debates on Book of Mormon geography and the like, while I do believe that is important, this is a good reminder of what is the most important, faith in Christ.

Research presentation this weekend – St. George

I’m attending a presentation this weekend that will be given by Paul Taylor who has decoded some glyphs near St. George that may describe New Testament and Book of Mormon events. Paul will present his findings at the St. George East Stake Center:

6 PM Saturday Dec. 20th

St. George east stake center

(Just east of the Temple)

His research is very compelling and provides an incredibly valuable insight to events here in Utah territory around 350 AD. If you can’t attend than don’t worry, I’m working on incorporating his findings into a future Nephite Explorer episode. Here is the flyer for the event: Paul Taylor presentation
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The tipping point

family and flag

“Who is the enemy? There is no conflict in the Book of Mormon between the righteous and the wicked…it’s always when peoples are equally wicked that they collide.” – Hugh Nibley

One of the most important overarching questions that is on my mind and probably many others is, “what is the tipping point that the blessings we’ve enjoyed are turned to curses?” Basically how wicked does a nation need to be for judgments to be poured out upon the people? This question is one of the fundamental questions throughout scripture but I’m not going to pretend to know the answer to that. But that doesn’t mean we can’t identify things that move us toward (or beyond) the tipping point. In light of recent disturbing events I’ve been looking to scripture for these kinds of answers and I believe we can identify two more things that parallel the Nephites and what brought on their destruction. Two things that are very alarming.

The first issue is the morality of our military. I’ve spoken out about un just wars, wars of aggression that are clearly condemned in scripture but now lets look at the morality of the military itself, the soldiers. Before major battles during the revolutionary war, George Washington repeatedly called for days of fasting and prayer among the troops even counseling them to repent and ask for God’s forgiveness that we might gain his providential protection. General Washington understood that above all else, we needed God on our side to avoid destruction and it was that ability that tapped into the providential protection that achieved victory against all odds. It wasn’t simply the morality of the leaders but it also hinged on the morality of the soldiers themselves.

Now I believe that the majority of our soldiers are good moral people who deserve our deepest gratitude for their service. What concerns me isn’t them, it’s the minority that threatens to topple the whole complex. I refer to recent reports about the shocking widespread epidemic of sexual assaults. Here’s how wikipedia opens on the subject:

“There is an ongoing problem with sexual assault in the U.S. military which has received extensive media coverage in the past several years. A 2012 Pentagon survey found that approximately 26,000 women and men were sexually assaulted. Of those, only 3,374 cases were reported.”


That number 26,000  should put every American on their heels. That demonstrates to me a culture of immorality within and probably without the military that is very alarming. How does this affect the rest of Americans? Again, the scriptures have warned us of this very thing as we read in the book of Moroni. The situation at this time was the final last battle between the Lamanites and Nephites. This was the tipping point when the entire Nephite civilization was destroyed because they had turned away from God. This is what was going on in one part of their military:

“9 And notwithstanding this great abomination of the Lamanites, it doth not exceed that of our people in Moriantum. For behold, many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue—“

Mormon is detailing the things that caused great and terrible destructions to befall his people and one of those causes is rape perpetuated by the soldiers  in Moriantum. We know the end of this story, the entire annihilation of the Nephite armed forces and the destruction of their entire civilization. So their downfall must be taken seriously and the causes, each one, must be recognized if we are to avoid the same fate.

The other event that I believe also plays a role in affecting the tipping point is the recent senate report detailing the torture program the CIA has been running at Guantonomo Bay and elsewhere in the “global war on terror.”
This report is so disturbing; it’s taken me several days of processing before I can even discuss it without being nauseated. I’m not going to go into details of the torture but simply state that in-humane treatment, and extreme methods of coercion and torture we’re used on individuals to obtain information. This was done without due process of law or even the a charge of a crime and the senate report found that many dozens of these torture victims we’re wrongly incarcerated and some we’re even tortured unto death. What makes this even more disturbing is that many people in our government and on television are defending these acts stating that the means justify the ends. And by supporting those politicians that take this position we are supporting the torture itself and are creating a culture for these evil practices to continue and grow.

If we continue reading in Moroni 9, Mormon describes where this path of desensitization leads:

“10 And after they had done this thing, they did murder them in a most cruel manner, torturing their bodies even unto death; and after they have done this, they devour their flesh like unto wild beasts, because of the hardness of their hearts; and they do it for a token of bravery.

11 O my beloved son, how can a people like this, that are without civilization—

12 (And only a few years have passed away, and they were a civil and a delightsome people)

13 But O my son, how can a people like this, whose delight is in so much abomination—

14 How can we expect that God will stay his hand in judgment against us?

I fear that if we condone torture than it will continue until we are “without civilization.” We must be a people of laws, just laws and live in accordance with those laws or we are no better than the enemies we despise, gratifying our own pride, murdering to get gain and blaspheming the name of God in the process.

Whether it’s the Nephites, the Jeradites or the children of Israel, the same principals apply. Serve God or be swept off the land. In the case of the Nephites, only a few years passed between the time when they we’re a civil and delightsome people before becoming a cruel wicked people. That’s the chilling part, “only a few years have passed away…” We live on the same land as the Nephites and Mormon’s fear was written that we might know what hangs over our heads:

“13…how can a people like this, whose delight is in so much abomination—

14 How can we expect that God will stay his hand in judgment against us?” – Mormon



Ancient Temples: What Do They Signify? By Hugh Nibley

Here is an excellent article by Hugh Nibley published in the Ensign in 1972. He was no doubt “swimming against the current” back then among his peers but over 40 years later, we’re just beginning to realize how true his insights we’re. – Ryan Fisher

Gen 8312-9015 Hugh Nibley at home. December 1983 Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU

 Ancient Temples: What Do They Signify?  By Hugh Nibley

Professor of History and Religion Brigham Young University

“What most impressed me last summer on my first and only expedition to Central America was the complete lack of definite information about anything. Never was so little known about so much. We knew ahead of time that of the knowledge of the ancient cultures there wasn’t much to be expected, but we were quite unprepared for the poverty of information that confronted us on the guided tours of ruins, museums, and lecture halls. It was not that our gracious guides knew less than they should. It is just a fact of life that no one knows much at all about these oft-photographed and much-talked-about ruins.

In the almost complete absence of written records, one must be permitted to guess, because there is nothing else to do; and when guessing is the only method of determination, one man’s skill is almost as good as another’s. An informed guess is a contradiction of terms, so our initial shock of nondiscovery was tempered by a warm glow of complacency on finding that the rankest amateur in our party was able to pontificate on the identity and nature of most objects as well as anybody else.

One would suppose it to be a relatively easy thing to decide whether a given structure had served as a hospital, a monastery, a palace, a storeroom, a barracks, a temple, a tomb, or an office. But it is not easy at all, with everything stripped completely bare and all the interiors looking just alike. Usually, we do not even know who the builders were or what their names were or where they came from.

Stock phrases, such as, “We know as little about the history of the Mixtecs as we do about the Zapotecs,” may confirm a scientist’s integrity, but they hardly establish him as an authority. Admission of ignorance, though a constant refrain in guidebooks and articles, is really no substitute for knowledge. This writer is as ill-equipped as any ten-year-old to write about the people of ancient America, because he has never seen their records—but then who has?

The vast archives of the Old World civilizations that bring their identities and their histories to life simply do not exist for the New World, and so all we can do as we sit drinking lemonade in the shade is to gaze and emote and speculate and rest our weary feet.

There are two things, however, about ancient American ruins upon which everyone seems to agree: (1) the reliefs that adorn the walls of some of these structures with ritual games, sacrifices, processions, audiences, and well-known religious symbols leave little doubt that they were designed to be the scenes of religious activities; (2) some of these religious structures were laid out to harmonize with the structure and motion of the cosmos itself, as witness the perfectly straight axial ways that point directly to the place of the rising and setting sun at solstices and equinoxes or the total of 364 steps and 52 slabs to a side that adorn the great pyramid of Chichén Itzá.

It is an eloquent commentary on the bankruptcy of the modern mind, as Giorio de Santillana points out, that we can find so little purpose or meaning in the magnificent and peculiar structures erected by the ancients with such immense skill and obvious zeal and dedication. These great edifices are found throughout the entire world and seem to represent a common tradition; and if they do, then we have surely lost our way.

Counterparts to the great ritual complexes of Central America once dotted the entire eastern United States, the most notable being the Hopewell culture centering in Ohio and spreading out for hundreds of miles along the entire length of the Mississippi River. These are now believed to be definitely related to corresponding centers in Mesoamerica.

Ranging further abroad, we see a convincing resemblance when we visit the famous ritual complex sites of the Old World and find the same combination of oddities on the same awesome scale. Pyramids and towers first catch our eye whether in Asia or America, and closer inspection reveals the familiar processional ways, stone alignments and colonnades, ceremonial gates, labyrinthine subterranean passages and chambers with their massive sarcophagi for priests and kings, reliefs depicting processions and combats, images of kings, gods, priests, and dangerous carnivores and serpents in stone.

While those who dig in the ruins of both hemispheres discover many similarities in the use of gold, turquoise, seashells, feathers, cotton textiles, and abstract designs, such as key patterns, spirals, and swastikas, the Western experts doggedly defend their domain as New World specialists. They are unencumbered by extensive knowledge of the Old World and still insist that “there was absolutely no similarity in the details of development in America and the Mediterranean countries.” Then they mention similarity after similarity with, of course, the understanding that such likenesses are the result of mere coincidence.

As for the idea of possible contact between the hemispheres, a magisterial gesture toward the map has always been thought sufficient to explain everything, obviating the necessity of reading the rich and wonderful libraries of the ancients who could tell us a great deal about the real and possible intercourse over the waters if we would only give them our attention.

Whole rooms full of ancient writings have been found in the Old World at actual ruin sites with which they were contemporary, and from such we may learn the nature and purpose of the great buildings. Strangely enough, it is only in the present generation that really extensive comparative studies among these documents and ruins have been undertaken. Serious study of the Egyptian temples, with the aid of inscriptions found in and near them, is only now being systematically pursued for the first time.

Because of this neglect, it is not surprising that comparison of Old World ritual complexes with their counterparts in the New World has hardly even begun, though resemblances between the two have never failed to impress even the most casual observer of the past 150 years. However, such studies as have been undertaken invariably suggest emerging patterns common to both worlds. Without committing ourselves to any dogmatic position (it is still too early for that), we can still indulge like stout Cortez in a few wild surmises from a peak in Darien.

In his recent study of a primitive Egyptian temple complex, Egyptologist Philippe Derchain declares that “one can almost compare the ancient Egyptian temple to a powerhouse where diverse energies are converted into electric current or to a control room where, by the application of very little effort … one can safely produce and distribute energy as needed along the proper power lines.” (Le Papyrus Salt 5825 [Brussels: Memoirs of the Royal Academy], vol. 58 [1965], p. 14.) Such powerhouses were not confined to Egypt; we find them everywhere, in the Old World and the New.

The ruins of such centers of power and control still comprise by far the most impressive remnants of the human past. Today the great plants are broken down and deserted; the power has been shut off. They mean nothing to us any more, because we don’t understand how they worked.

The most sophisticated electronic gadget in perfect working order is nothing in the hands of one who has never heard of electricity, and it would only frustrate even an expert if he found no power outlet to plug into. Perhaps the old powerhouses were something like that. And did they ever really work?

A great many people went to a lot of trouble for an unusually long time to set up these mysterious dynamos all over the world. What could they possibly have derived from all this effort? They must have gotten something, to have kept at it so long and so enthusiastically. For that matter, some of the holy places still carry on: pilgrims still travel in vast numbers to Mecca, Jerusalem, Rome, and Benares, hoping to experience manifestations of supernatural power.

Countless reports are on record at those famous sites of ingenious attempts to duplicate by fraud certain miraculous displays during the pilgrimages, attesting the fading or fictive nature of the vaunted powers from on high.

It is remarkable that some principal centers of world power are still located at the ancient sites where the corporate life of the race was thought to be renewed in the great New Year’s rites presided over by the king as god on earth. These sacred centers flourished in the heart of Rome, at the Altar of the Sun in Peking, in the Kremlin, in Jerusalem, in Cairo (the ancient Memphis), in Mexico City, and elsewhere. Such pouring of new forces into fossil molds is what the philosopher Oswald Spengler calls “pseudomorphs,” endowing a new power structure with a specious authority in which no one any longer believes.

The idea that divine power can be conveyed to men and used by them through the implementation of tangible earthly contrivances and that these become mere antique oddities once the power is shut off is surprisingly confirmed and illustrated by the Book of Mormon. Thus the Liahona and the Urim and Thummim were kept among the national treasures of the Nephites long after they had ceased their miraculous functions.

Before the finger of the Lord touched the sixteen stones of the brother of Jared, they were mere pieces of glass, and they probably became so after they had fulfilled their purpose. And the gold plates had no message to deliver until a special line of communication was opened by supernatural power.

In themselves these objects were nothing; they did not work by magic, a power that resided in the objects themselves so that a person has only to get hold of the magical staff, seal, ring, robe, book of Moses or Solomon or Peter in order to become master of the world. The aids and implements that God gives to men work on no magic or automatic or mechanical principle, but only “according to the faith and diligence and heed which we … give unto them” (1 Ne. 16:28) and cease to work because of wickedness (see 1 Ne. 18:12).

Some have thought it strange that God should use any earthly implements and agents at all, when he could do all things himself just as easily. But even the Moslems, who protest that Christianity places needless intermediaries, notably Jesus and the Holy Ghost, between God and man, declare in their creed that they believe “in God and his Angels and his Prophets and his Books.” Does God need all of these to do his work with men? However we may rationalize, the fact is that he does make use of them.

But what about all these ancient powerhouses—what would happen if they were restored? Nothing, in my opinion. They might be repaired and put in working order, but that would no more make them work than setting up a Liahona or Urim and Thummim, with all of the working parts in order, would enable us to use them. Without power from above, nothing will happen, for this is not magic.

It is doubtful if any of the known powerhouses ever really worked, except for the temple at Jerusalem (of which duplicates were made all over the Christian world as centers of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages), where the key manifestations in the life of the Savior took place. But what of the others? If they enjoyed no real dispensations of heavenly power, they really did not need to justify their existence, with all the trouble and expense of building them or keeping them in operation as the focal centers of the world’s religious life.

The gesture of faith was not without its reward, however, and the by-products of the ancient temple were easily worth the time and effort that went into constructing and operating it, since the result was nothing less than civilization itself.

Ancient civilization was hierocentric, so that everything came from the temple. The Egyptians carried on for centuries like “a people searching in the dark for a key to truth,” as I. E. S. Edwards put it.

Abraham, while he pitied the futility of Pharaoh’s zeal, respected his sincerity: though “cursed … as pertaining to the Priesthood,” Pharaoh was nonetheless “a righteous man, … seeking earnestly to imitate the order … of the first patriarchal reign.” In return he was blessed “with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom …” (Abr. 1:26), and with the most stable, humane, and enlightened of civilizations.

If the Egyptian religion fed on its hopes, so do all the others; the Jews ever hoping for Jerusalem, the temple, and the Messiah; the Latter-day Saints still hoping for the fulfillment of the promises of the tenth Article of Faith.

One thing that leads us to suspect that most of the great powerhouses whose traces still remain were never anything more than pompous imitations or replicas is their sheer magnificence. The archaeologist finds virtually nothing of the remains of the primitive Christian church until the fourth century, because the true church was not interested in buildings and deliberately avoided the acquisition of lands and edifices that might bind it and its interests to this world.

The Book of Mormon is a history of a related primitive church, and one may well ask what kind of remains the Nephites would leave us from their more virtuous days. A closer approximation to the Book of Mormon picture of Nephite culture is seen in the earth and palisade structures of the Hopewell and Adena culture areas than in the later stately piles of stone in Mesoamerica.

C. Northcote Parkinson has demonstrated with withering insight how throughout history really ornate, tasteless, and pompous building programs have tended to come as the aftermath of civilization. After the vital powers are spent, then is the time for the super-buildings, the piling of stone upon stone for monuments of staggering mass and proportion. It was after the disciples of the early church decided to give up waiting for the Messiah and to go out for satisfaction here and now that the Christians of the fourth century took to staging festivals and erecting monuments in the grand manner, covering the whole Near East with structures of theatrical magnificence and questionable taste.

How unlike the building program of the Church today which can barely erect enough of our very functional, almost plain chapels to keep abreast of the growing needs of the Latter-day Saints.

Though such piles as the great pyramid-temple of Chichén Itzá yield to few buildings in the world in beauty of proportion and grandeur of conception, there is something disturbing about most of these overpowering ruins. Writers describing them through the years have ever confessed to feelings of sadness and oppression as they contemplate the moldy magnificence—the futility of it all: “They have all gone away from the house on the hill,” and today we don’t even know who they were.

Amid the ruins of the New World, as in Rome, we feel something of both the greatness and the misery, the genuine aspiration and the dull oppression, the idealism and the arrogance imposed by the heavy hand of priestcraft and kingcraft, and we wonder how the ruins of our own super buildings will look someday.

The great monuments do not represent what the Nephites stood for; rather, they stand for what their descendants, “mixed with the blood of their brethren,” descended to. But seen in the newer and wider perspective of comparative religious studies, they suggest to us not only the vanity of mankind and the futility of man’s unaided efforts, but also something nobler; the constant search of men to recapture a time when the powers of heaven were truly at the disposal of a righteous people.