Monday, April 5, 2021

Notice: A new FAKE Mormon prophet in Brazil

Recently I was thinking about the handful of prophets I regard as epoch-making -- Moses, David, Jesus, Joseph Smith -- and I fell to wondering who the next one would be. A comment I had read on the Junior Ganymede blog kept coming back to me: "Does the restoration need restoring?" ("Restoration" referring to the work of Joseph Smith.)

Someone sent me a link to an article arguing that the Resurrection had occurred on April 5, 33. I didn't click the link or read the article; instead, my immediate reaction was, "John Pratt made a strong case for April 6." (John Pratt is a Mormon who has written extensively about astronomy and chronology. I read a lot of his work in the past, but it's been many years.) I recall Pratt arguing that Jesus was born on April 6, not that the Resurrection occurred on that date, but nevertheless I felt an urgent need to visit his website.

It turns out that John Pratt is now a believer in Mauricio Berger, a Brazilian man who claims to have been visited by the angel Moroni, to have the Golden Plates, and to have unsealed and translated part of the sealed portion of those plates, published as the Sealed Book of Mormon (PDF). Mr. Pratt, an honest and highly intelligent man, considers the book to be genuine based on its content. He has also (with other witnesses) seen, touched, and examined the plates themselves. He also points to a premonition of his son's, which occurred in 1979 when the son was seven, that the sealed portion of the plates would be translated by someone named Mauricio "Burger" from Brazil.

At this point I have not yet read the Sealed Book and am not endorsing it -- merely passing on some potentially important news that is not yet generally known. My hunch is that this may well turn out to be entirely genuine.

Update: I apparently gave Mr. Pratt too much credit, thinking him much too intelligent to be taken in by an obvious fake. However, an obvious fake is precisely what Mr. Berger's plates turn out to be, as documented here: PDF.

As for the "translated" text supposedly derived from them, Mr. Berger claims that the English and Portuguese translations were both revealed to him by miraculous means even though he himself does not speak English. In fact, the English text was very obviously created from the Portuguese using Google Translate or some similar software.

For example, it twice refers to certain angels as belonging to "the order of the stars d'alva" or "the order of the star D'alva" -- a half-English expression obviously deriving from Estrela d'Alva, the Portuguese term for the Morning Star (Venus). Google Translate currently renders a ordem da estrela d'alva as "the order of the star of the morning" if alva is not capitalized; if it is written d'Alva, the translation is "the order of the star d'Alva."

It is also easy to see Google's fingerprints on the bit that retells the story of the "Watchers" from the Book of Enoch. These angelic beings -- called vigias or vigilantes in Portuguese -- are in the English text indiscriminately called watchers, watchmen, and vigilantes. These are all possible translations of the Portuguese, but to call the Enochian watchers "vigilantes" in English is completely absurd.

Verdict: This is very, very obvious baloney, and it has permanently damaged John Pratt's credibility in my eyes.


Bruce Charlton said...

That's an surprising story - which is entirely new to me.

I have a rather negative, grudging feeling that, if it is all valid, nonetheless scripture or revelation of this type will not be helpful at these times; since it seems to invite the kind of detailed scholarly study which is by now so corrupt and always turns-out to be not what is needed anyway...

But I'd be very interested to see what you make of the content of the Sealed BoM - which is, I suppose, the crux of the matter.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I don’t think “valid but useless” is a reasonable possibility, Bruce. If it is real, God chose to reveal it at the right time, when it is needed.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - Well, I tend to think that the usefulness of revelation is nearly always much more restricted in scope than commonly supposed; much as is the usefulness of miracles.

In other words, if this revelation is valid may be useful/ vital for some particular people - perhaps especially those active in the Mormon churches; but not necessarily for me, or The West, or mankind generally.

For example - if this was valid, and given that it has not been recognized officially; then it might reasonably lead to re-evaluation of the way that church authority is operating currently. Or, more generally, indicate the need for a restoration of the restoration.

But I can't imagine that a restoration in 2021 would much resemble that of the 1820s. It might be a quite different sort of thing - for instance it might not be 'a church' in the usually recognized way.

I think the validity of the lost plates would be (as the original BoM) more of the nature of a sign than in terms of the specific content. The content would probably serve, I suppose (as with the original BoM at the time), mainly as the bottom-line intuitive/ personal revelatory confirmation of its validity, and a sign of God's new large-scale intervention - rather than its containing some radical new (and unthought) instructions or interpretations.

Ben Pratt said...

I've been following John's work for two solid decades. He's a distant cousin, and my brother has met him. I believe John is on to something very good with his sacred calendars. Thus it took me by surprise when he went first after Denver Snuffer and now after Berger, both of whom strongly anti-resonate with me whenever I try to look more deeply at them.

No Longer Reading said...

Very interesting. Pratt's article about dating Easter is very detailed and thorough. Both articles say that the year is 33 AD, so it must be a difference between converting 14 Nisan to a day on our calendar. Since Pratt is a trained astronomer, I suppose April 6 is the more accurate date.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I am about a third of the way through the SBoM and have so far been underwhelmed, but I will hold off judgment until I have read the whole thing.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - Thanks for going into this, which was worth a look.

Dr Pratt would probably have been rejected by me on-sight for being an elderly man with long hair and an ethnic hairband; which means he is basically un-sound. (These 'fashion' statements seem to have been adopted in recent years - significant?)

Yet, when we have felt some attraction or compulsion to investigate, in my experience some such people may well have something important for us (as individuals here and now) to learn. For example, maybe you need to find out about the steps by which Dr Pratt was led to this error?

(It is as easy to reject potentially personally/narrowly-useful things because they lack general applicability; just as it is easy to assume the applicability of valid things is wider and more-general than it truly is. I think that is why I spend a lot of time studying people I regard as fundamentally wrong. Sometimes we do this in service of the dead, sometimes in service of the living.)

So, if you were originally attracted to make this investigation by some intuition, it may be that there is something which you would benefit from learning; and you may find your intuition keeping you 'on the job' for a while, and until you have learned it.

Mr. Andrew said...

I think Christians are highly at risk of being taken in by our sins during these times. More or less good people appear easily deceived where their failing lies as evidenced during the birdemic. Mr. Pratt seems taken in by the strong anti-racist element within the church and the borderline idolatry towards Natives/Indians as one recent outcropping of those who take the BoM seriously. He was overexcited to have his bias/failing confirmed.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

@Bruce - Yes, that was a red flag for me as well. I had read a lot of Mr. Pratt's work in the past, before he grew out his hair and started wearing a headband, so my (mostly positive) impressions of him had already been formed, but it was a bit of a shock to see what he looks like now.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

@Ben - I'd never heard of Denver Snuffer; it sounds like a nickname of the "Boston Strangler" type!

Ben Pratt said...

@Wm Jas - That is a great observation. His work has snuffed out the light in some of my loved ones.

It's interesting that the name Denver comes from a place in Norfolk and literally means, according to, ' "ford or passage used by the Danes," from Old English Dena (genitive plural) + fær "journey, road, passage, expedition...." ' Thus "Denver Snuffer" could then resolve to something like "one who stops the journey of the people."

Of course I would go down this rabbit hole after watching Asha Logos' video series about the history of Germanics and Gothics. Thank you, synchronicity fairies.

Francis Berger said...

Never trust anyone with the surname Berger. That's one of my main rules in life.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

@Frank - This is from John P. Pratt's page about his son John C. Pratt's premonitions:

He felt a strong need to be on the lookout for any sign of the sealed plates coming forth!

One day while he was pondering this, his inner voice asked him, "What if his name is Mauricio? What if he lives in Brazil?"

He felt he would accept the translation even if it were done by someone who was named Mauricio, who lived in Brazil. But then the voice pushed him over the edge of credibility: "What if his last name were Burger?" To him, "burger" was short for "hamburger" and he felt that no one would have that for a name, so in his own words, that was "unacceptable".

So, a guy named Mauricio from Brazil miraculously translating inscriptions engraved on golden plates in a language he doesn't understand -- perfectly reasonable. But a guy having the last name of Berger -- as in hamburger?? Haha, just how gullible do you think I am? (One can only imagine what little Johnny would have made of someone claiming to named Frank Berger.)

Francis Berger said...

Exactly. Perfectly confirms my rule about not trusting guys named Berger (or burger)!

Funny thing - the name Berger does not carry any such connotations here in Central Europe. To begin with, it's not pronounced "burger", but something more akin to "bear-gehr".

In Hungary the name means nothing, but across the border in Austria the name is quite common and denotes exactly what it is meant to denote in the mind of German speakers - berger = of the mountain or someone from a mountain. And they got the Alps in Austria, so it all makes sense to them over there!

I have had a few Austrian students named Berger or something similar like Kirchberger, Salzberger, Radelberger, etc.

Mauricio sounds like he might be the illegitimate child of an ex-German spy and Benito Mussolini's administrative assistant, who both presumably fled to Brazil after WWII for "safety" reasons. Of course, he's too young for to be such a love-child, but you never know.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

German names are apparently common in Brazil, perhaps for the reasons you indicate. I once had a Brazilian colleague who did not look at all European but was named Felipe Johannes, with a very German surname.

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