Friday, May 2, 2014

Alma 21: Aaron's Side Quest

Mosiah's son Aaron travels to a city named Jerusalem, which is populated by Lamanites, Amalekites and Amulonites.

Aaron is One Classy Guy
For one reason or another, Aaron decides to preach to the Amalekites first.  Verses 3 describes the Amalekites as even more hardhearted than the Lamanites and verse 4 mentions that many of the Amalekites were still followers of Nehor.  So what does Aaron do?
Therefore, as Aaron entered into one of their synagogues to preach unto the people, and as he was speaking unto them, behold, there arose an Amalekite and began to contend with him...
It doesn't matter what religion you're targetingif you walk into their place of worship and start preaching your own religion to them, you can count on not getting a warm reception.  What was Aaron thinking?  This is an insensitive invasion of privacy.

Nehor's Followers Are Pretty Chill
Not only did the Amalekites in the synagogue not beat Aaron to death for his audacity, but they actually have a pretty cool relationship with their god.  The man who argued with Aaron represented the Nehor sect's beliefs like this:
Behold, we have built sanctuaries, and we do assemble ourselves together to worship God.  We do believe that God will save all men.
They believe that God will save everybody...but they still opt to spend their time building synagogues in his honor for the purpose of worshiping him?  That's pretty commendable.  Instead of taking God's love for granted, they express regular, non-mandated gratitude.  They don't serve God out of fear or out of desire to become eligible for an eternal reward.  They worship because they want to.  How many modern Christians are really that pure of heart?

Lamoni's Enlightenment
So eventually Aaron gives up in Jerusalem, hooks up with this brothers in Ani-Anti, and then gets thrown into prison with them in Middoni, which is where they're rescued by Lamoni and Ammon.  With Lamoni's influence, however, the missionary work continues and starts to see success.

This chapter ends with several verses describing how awesome everything is.  The Lamanites built synagogues, they were free from the "oppressions" of Lamoni's father, Ammon and Lamoni remained best buds, et cetera, et cetera.  But this is my favorite part (verse 22):
And [Lamoni] also declared unto them that they might have the liberty of worshipping the Lord their God according to their desires, in whatsoever place they were in, if it were in the land which was under the reign of king Lamoni.
Two things jump out at me here:
  • King Lamoni feels the need to point out that his decree only applies to his kingdom.  That's like telling an American citizen that his freedom of the press will not be valid in Cuba.  Who needs that reminder?
  • Lamoni also tells his people that they're free to worship "the Lord their God."  That doesn't really sound like true freedom of religion.  He's being pretty specific about what can be worshiped.  Sounds like a no-paganism, no-atheism stance to me.  So he's pretty much saying, "You have the freedom to do exactly what I tell you," which of course, isn't freedom.
Other than that, though, Lamoni's kingdom is undergoing a cultural revolution, so good for them.


  1. Again, it's so unreasonable, and unbelievable, for much of this unnecessary detail to make it into the "original" plates, but why would Mormon abridge it into his final plates to give to Joseph? This kind of stuff happens all over the Book of Mormon, and it makes no sense at all.

    Your exactly right on this one:

    "Behold, we have built sanctuaries, and we do assemble ourselves together to worship God. We do believe that God will save all men."

    I wonder how he could call them the most hard-hearted. The only thing I can think of is that they are very set in their religious beliefs in the "wrong" church and aren't open to change. It's stories like this that turn our missionaries and members into bold, ignorant, bastards when dealing with people of other faiths. Can't we be civil and respectful.

    To be perfectly honest, I don't believe anyone on the earth is even close to having the right answers about who we are, where we come from, why we're here, and where we might be going after this life. These are mysteries for which thousands of gods have been created to try to explain. Can't we just be kind to each other, live good lives, love our families and neighbors, leave the world better than we found it, etc?

    1. Amen to that! I completely agree.

    2. Lamoni letting his people worship reminds me of Free Agency and the church. I've always been curious about the doctrine of Free Agency. We are taught that we have the right to choose, but in reality, as kids we really have no choice. This is what free agency is really like in the church. It's a story about Apostle Bruce R. McConkie.

      "It was an unusual Sunday that found Dad without a conference assignment and hence at home. It was on one of those Sundays when I was in my early teens that I took occasion to see how the doctrine of agency worked. When it came time to leave for church, I announced that I had decided to exercise my agency and not attend church that day. Dad assured me that I had agency, which in our family meant that I could go to church willingly or I could go unwillingly. The choice, he said, was mine. Then he added, "Now get your coat on. You don't want to be late."

    3. Haha, wow! Sad but true, I guess,