Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Alma 26: Ammon Bloviates

Ammon, Aaron, Omner and Himni are considering their success as missionaries in the land of the Lamanites.

Ammon Humblebrags
In a manner to be imitated by thousands of Mormon missionaries centuries hence, Ammon reviews the glories of his own achievements while pretending to credit them to God.  Until, of course, Aaron calls him on it:
And it came to pass that when Ammon had said these words, his brother Aaron rebuked him, saying: Ammon, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting.
To which Ammon swiftly replies:
I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.
Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.
It might have been a convincing correction to his earlier appearance of pride had he not continued for twenty-five more verses in a dramatic, grandstanding mini-sermon to his missionary brothers.

Ammon Doesn't Understand God
Our favorite righteous psychopath makes some specious claims about his Father in Heaven during his lengthy speech:
Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord?  Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men?  Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.
Who could have supposed that our God would have been so merciful as to have snatched us from our awful, sinful, and polluted state? 
Okay, first of all, genius, God is the one who put us in our awful, sinful and polluted state.  It was part of his ineffective and unnecessarily complicated plan for us.  And secondly, look at all the unmerciful, unforgiving  things he's done to your civilization in the last few hundred years.  Look at how much death and destruction has been perpetrated among the Nephites and Lamanites that was either done in his name or credited to him.  He's not a very nice guy.  He doesn't deserve your verbose accolades.

And just you wait until he uses the wicked Lamanites to destroy your people in five hundred years or so.

Self-Sacrifice Isn't Inherently Good
Ammon praises the virtues of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies and their willingness to die rather than fight against their murderous kin.
...and we know that they have gone to their God, because of their love and of their hatred to sin.
It seems silly that it needs to be said, but let me be clear anyway:  A person's willingness to die for his beliefs is only an indicator of the level of his convictions.  It does not mean that his motives are pure.  The Anti-Nephi-Lehies' pacifism doesn't mean they were all wonderful people who abhorred sin and loved their fellow man.  Ammon seems to think that sacrificing one's life is a true and irrefutable sign of godliness.  But it's only a sign of a willingness to sacrifice one's life.

And often, I think it's a sign of being duped.  These people became convinced by Ammon and his brothers that their lives were less important than their pacifism and that it was better to die than to justifiably defend themselves.  I see nothing good in that.  Ammon, however, sees only good in that.

But then, Ammon isn't exactly the model of righteousness what with his wanton violence, so what does he know?

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