Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Alma 10: Rabble Rousing

Now Amulek gets up to speak to his native city of Ammonihah.

Seriously, Another Angel?
In verse 7, Amulek explains that he used to be a wicked man like the rest, but then he took an arrow to the knee was visited by an angel.  The angel explained that Amulek would cross paths with a prophet of God who needed some assistance and that it was Amulek's calling to provide that assistance.

But the important question here is why are so many angels appearing to non-believers?  So far in the Book of Mormon, we've got Laman, Lemuel, Alma the Younger and now Amulek.  I'm a non-believer.  Where the hell is my angel?

The wicked-guy-turning-righteous-due-to-a-heavenly-messenger shtick is starting to challenge the small-family-from-the-ancient-holy-land-travels-to-America-to-start-its-own-society shtick as Joseph Smith's favorite plot device.

Apparently Two is a Thousand Times Better Than One
Amulek doesn't really teach doctrine here.  His speech so far has pretty much amounted to "Alma's not making this stuff up, so whatever he said is totally legit."  The public response to his oration is a little strange, though:
And now, when Amulek had spoken these words the people began to be astonished, seeing there was more than one witness who testified of the things whereof they were accused, and also of the things which were to come, according to the spirit of prophecy which was in them.
More than one witness?  Not by much.  It's only two witnesses!

If you were to stand up on a street corner in New York City and start yelling about something that was universally regarded as ludicrous, probably nobody would believe you.  But if you got your buddy to stand up next to you and shout that everything you just said was true...probably nobody would believe you.  Get a hundred people with signs or a petition with a thousand signatures and maybe people will start to pay attention.  But if nobody's buying what you're selling in the first place, one additional witness is not going to make the entire crowd start to reconsider their outlook on life.

Amulek Makes a Common Facebook Argument
Because his audience clearly disagrees with him, Amulek appeals to the authority of a revered past leader—King Mosiah II.
Yea, well did Mosiah say...that if the time should come that the voice of this people should choose iniquity...they would be ripe for destruction.
This strikes me as being very similar to what I see on Facebook.  How many times have we seen someone post a picture of George Washington with a quote relating to a current political issue like that one sentence attributed to a Founding Father is somehow the end of the argument?
Facebook Person:  George Washington said:  "Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself.  They are the American people's liberty's teeth and keystone under independence."
 Me:  Yeah, well, he also owned slaves, so clearly he wasn't right about everything.
I imagine the people of Ammonihah responded a similar way.
Amulek:  King Mosiah said:  "If the time should come that the voice of this people should choose iniquity they would be ripe for destruction."
Tricksy Lawyer:  Yeah, well, that's the same hypocrite that pushed a different political structure on us because he said monarchy was so bad—even though he didn't actually give up the throne until he died.  So clearly he wasn't right about everything.
(It also bears mentioning that both quotes are fictional.  King Mosiah never existed and the George Washington quote is misattributed.)

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