Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Jacob 7: Sherem and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Now that we've gotten some boring preaching out of the way, let's get back to some story.  In this chapter, we meet Sherem, the first in a series of silvertongued, anti-church, anti-Christ demagogues.  The illustrious Jacob, prophet of God and brother of the even more illustrious Nephi, crosses verbal swords with him.

Jacob Fails to Relate to the Everyman
After getting a number of Jacob's people to leave the church, Sherem tries to get Jacob to abandon his faith as well.  Here is Jacob's oh-so-humble commentary on that attempt:
And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me.  And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken.
This, of course, is useless to the average, everyday, non-prophet member of the church, both in Jacob's time and in our time.  Thanks, Jacob, for letting us know that the way to withstand being led away from the church is by receiving the ministering of angels and hearing God's actual voice.  Those aren't exactly tools available to the masses who haven't been chosen as the Lord's mouthpiece on the earth, so it just seems like gloating when you say that these kinds of things are what made you immune to Sherem's evil lies.

I think it's also worth noting that Jacob seems to base his testimony on miraculous events, which flies in the face of the common Mormon teaching that faith is not built on miracles.  After all, Laman and Lemuel were visited by an angel, and they continued to be conniving, murderous dicks.  If he were a good Mormon, Jacob's testimony would be based on personal confirmation from the Holy Ghost.

Sherem's Brilliant Argument
This evil mastermind who'd led away so many precious Nephite faithful decides to bring out the big guns when arguing with Jacob—the crux of his argument is that nobody knows the future (verse 7--"no man knoweth such things; for he cannot tell of things to come") therefore teaching the people to worship a savior who won't come for hundreds of years is blasphemous.

Jacob's fiendishly clever response is to ask Sherem if he denies the Christ.  Sherem, like a complete idiot, responds:
If there should be a Christ, I would not deny him;  but I know that there is no Christ, neither has been, nor ever will be.
So, immediately after condemning Jacob for claiming to know of a future event, Sherem makes the even bolder claim that he knows this future event will never happen.  In true Mormon fashion, however, instead of addressing the contradictory nature of Sherem's argument, Jacob—wait for it—bears his testimony.  Because saying you believe something bunches and bunches always trumps an appeal to logic.

The Four Most Powerful Words in the Book of Mormon
In verse 13, Sherem asks Jacob to "show me a sign" that all that stuff Jacob's been saying about Christ is true.  This is as sure a way to get yourself killed in the Book of Mormon as it is to have sex in the dark in a slasher movie.

Jacob throws a little fit about how stupid it is for God to show him a sign of "the thing which thou knowest to be true."  Because obviously anyone who preaches against the church actually knows that it's true but is simply working for the devil.  But then God smites the crap out of Sherem, who apparently spends several days unconscious.  When he wakes up he asks to address the people before he dies.  So Sherem tells everybody that he was deceived by the devil and that he lied and that the scriptures were true...and then he dies.

Ridiculous.  This story is written at barely a fourth grade level.  It's too easy and too neat and too perfect and too vindicating for the protagonist.  It doesn't ring of truth and the plot sucks.  Not to mention the characters are all one-dimensional.

But it gets better.

Happily Ever After
Verses 21 and 23 convey an even more sickeningly fictitious ending:
And when the multitude had witnessed that he spake these things as he was about to give up the ghost, they were astonished exceedingly; insomuch that the power of God came down upon them, and they were overcome that they fell to the earth.
And it came to pass that peace and the love of God was restored again among the people and they searched the scriptures and hearkened no more to the words of this wicked man.
...and the kingdom rejoiced in the marriage of the prince and princess and they ruled together for many years and the people loved them and the kingdom was prosperous and the bad guy got his comeuppance and everybody but him lived happily ever after.

Also, there's two subjects in the first sentence of verse 23 despite the use of a singular verb.  And there's the added problem of not hearkening unto the words of a man who at two different times preached completely opposite things.  Which words weren't they hearkening unto?  The words when he was denying Christ or the words when he was confirming the scriptures?

This crap is worse than Twilight.  Joseph Smith could have benefited greatly from an editor.  You know, someone to say, "Hey, your book sucks, I'm not publishing it."

The last word of the chapter, which Joseph translated from Reformed Egyptian into English, is a French word with a direct English translation.  Why?

It's not proof that the Book of Mormon is a fraud or anything, but it's unnecessary and illogical.

Seriously, what's the point of that?

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