Sunday, September 30, 2012

2 Nephi 21: Isaiah, Deleted Scenes

This is, word for word, a copy of Isaiah chapter 11.

The biggest differences (which, of course, hold no spiritual value) are that "cockatrice' den" in Isaiah was changed to "cockatrice's den," "dryshod" was changed to "dry shod" and "an highway" was changed to "a highway."

So God had the omniscient foresight to make sure that there were two versions of Nephi's story so that the first one could be lost by Martin Harris without losing important teachings, but he didn't have the foresight to have Nephi, Mormon, Moroni, or Joseph Smith omit doctrinally (if not gramatically) identical copies of scripture that would be widely available in the modern society for which the Book of Mormon was produced?

That doesn't make any sense.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rereading the Book of Mormon

My mother recently finished reading the Book of Mormon.  Again.

She remarked in her family email today, "I really do see something new every time I read it."  This is a common claim in Mormon culture (one that I thought my mother was better than) that really, really gets under my skin.  I've heard many people bear their testimonies about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon based on the idea that they learn something new each time they read the book. I guess there's a simple fact that these people have overlooked:  The Book of Mormon is long.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Funereal Recruitment

My parents attended a funeral for a member of their ward over the weekend.  He included a paragraph about the service in the weekly email that he sends out to the family.  Among other things, he said:
After the funeral, the daughter-in-law told [ward member] that she really likes all that she feels as she hears about the Church and wanted to know how she can learn more about the Church.  [Ward member] was able to help her out!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What it Means to Be Mormon

Growing up as a Mormon kid in an overwhelmingly non-Mormon part of the country, I got a lot of questions whenever I brought up my religion...or anything related to my religion.

Age 8:  "You have to go to church for three hours? Every week?"
Age 9:  "What do you mean, 'What's communion?'"
Age 10:  "Your mom says you can't play soccer this year because the games are on Sundays?"
Age 11:  "You mean you've never had Coke?  Ever?"
Age 12:  "Aren't Mormons the ones with like ten wives?"
Age 13:  "Wait...did you just say your sister lives in Spain?"
Age 14:  "How can you call yourself Christian if you don't even believe in the Bible?"
Age 15:  "How many wives does your dad have?"
Age 16:  "You're a priest?  Seriously?"
Age 17:  "So what's the deal with the magic underwear?"
Age 18:  "Utah?  What a random place to apply for college."
Age 19:  "You can get expelled for drinking?  It's a college, right?"
Age 20:  "So does your family practice polygamy?"
Age 21:  "You're still a virgin?"

What did it mean to be Mormon?  It meant fielding a lot of questions from friends and acquaintances...and desperately trying to downplay how weird the answers were.

Monday, September 3, 2012

2 Nephi 20: Isaiah, Interactive Maps

More Isaiah--only with extra useless sauce.

Here, Joseph (I mean Nephi) has made a second copy of Isaiah's endless namedropping.  It kicks off in verse 9 with some comparisons of ancient cities:
Is not Calno as Carchemish?  Is not Hamath as Arpad?  Is not Samaria as Damascus?
My favorite part is later, when Isaiah goes on a five-verse name-spouting rampage.  Starting in verse 28:
He is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages.
They are gone over the passage; they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramath is afraid; Gibeah of Saul is fled.
Lift up the voice, O daughter of Gallim; cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anathoth.
Madmenah is removed; the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee.
As yet shall he remain at Nob that day; he shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem. 
Anybody following this?  No?  Then allow me to mention a central teaching of Mormonism--the claim that the book was written specifically "for our day."  In the October 1986 General Conference, President of the Church Ezra Taft Benson stated boldly:
The second great reason why we must make the Book of Mormon a center focus of study is that it was written for our day.  The Nephites never had the book; neither did the Lamanites of ancient times.  It was meant for us.  Mormon wrote near the end of the Nephite civilization.  Under the inspiration of God, who sees all things from the beginning, he abridged centuries of records, choosing the stories, speeches, and events that would be most helpful to us.
So this means that God carefully engineered the Book of Mormon to target a modern-day audience.  This also means that God intended for this chapter, full of references to people, places and events that a modern-day audience will not have knowledge of nor identify with.  And apparently God forgot that he had already made the same irrelevant information available in the book of Isaiah in his Bible.


Sunday, September 2, 2012


When I was maybe fourteen, my family and I went to Hill Cumorah Pageant in New York.  As we were pulling into the empty field that served as a makeshift parking lot, I was shocked to see a surprisingly large group of people with surprisingly large signs shouting surprisingly rude claims at an unsurprisingly unresponsive group of pageant attendees.

When we got out of the car and headed toward the pageant itself, we walked past a seemingly endless row of hecklers, most of whom were under some deluded impression that they could get us to change our religions by screaming about how we were all sinners.  It was a bizarre experience.