Alas, the wonderful FAIR Conference has come to an end. I really enjoyed myself this year. I got to meet a lot of people, make new friends, and visit with/get to know some of the presenters whom I look up to, such as Brant Gardner, Daniel Peterson (whom I would say is the Jimmer Fredette of LDS apologetics), and Don Bradley. I also made friends with some of the younger folk, closer to my age, such as Stephen Smoot, Hales Swift, and Ed Goble. It was good to get to know some like-minded peers. Here are some of the highlights from the Conference:
- FAIR President Scott Gordon announced the new website for the Mormon Defense League, a FAIR sponsored organization intended to address issues and a respond to questions from the media. To check out the website, go to mdl.org
- My favorite presentations from day one were those from Stephen D. Ricks, Brant Gardner, and Steven C. Harper. Gardner’s was clearly the talk of the day. In his presentation, he talked about how seer stones function, and proposed a model for how Joseph could have translated the Book of Mormon using a seer stone. This is elaborated more fully in his newly released book, The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon, which was sold out before the end of the day. I believe more will be available come Monday. For those interested, I think you can order your own copy at the FAIR Bookstore.
- Day two’s top presentations (in my view) were those given by Rodger Nicholson, Don Bradley, and Paul Fields. Bradley really stole the show, and his presentation will likely be remembered as the best, most important one given at the conference. Bradley presented research showing that Joseph did in fact attempt to translate the Kinderhook plates, but that it was not an inspired translation, and he never claimed it to be. Instead, Joseph made use of the GAEL (in the KEP), where one prominent symbol found on the plates can be found to have basically the same meaning as what William Clayton said was Joseph’s “translation” of a “portion” of the plates. Bradley used an eyewitness account to demonstrate that Joseph compared the plates to the GAEL. Bradley will be co-publishing the full details of this research with Mark Ashurst-McGee. Fields wordprint study was also very good – Fields clearly demonstrated that the 2008 wordprint analysis by Jockers, Whetten, and Criddle was seriously flawed, and that his own analysis confirms the large variety of authorship, and that none of the nineteenth century candidates are even close in style.
- In addition to all that, I scored several new books. I was one of the lucky few to get a copy of Gardner’s new book, which I got signed, and I also got several more from the Bookstore. In addition to those, I was able to score mass amounts of back issues of the FARMS Review and Journal of Book of Mormon Studies from the auction on used books they had their. This makes my collection of the Review very near complete, and this also means that there will be many, many more “Reviewing the Review” posts in the near future.
So, that is my brief report on my experience at the FAIR Conference this year. I had a blast, and look forward to going again next year.