Saturday, June 13, 2015

Alma 61: Pahoran is an Idiot

Pahoran crafts his thoughtful reply to Moroni's angry rant.

Cool Story...But Why the Radio Silence?
Pahoran patiently explains that the king-men faction has overthrown the legitimate government in Zarahemla and kicked Pahoran and his legitimate co-governors out of the city.  The good guys were forced to flee to the land of Gideon and attempt to mount a resistance in exile while the bad guys made a deal with the Lamanites to allow Nephite territory to fall into Lamanite control.

We keep hearing excuses from Pahoran here, but what we don't hear is an acceptable explanation for why he couldn't be bothered to send Moroni a letter sooner to explain what was going on.  He managed to send out a proclamation to his supporters in his neck of the woods, but he couldn't spare a single courier to keep his chief military commander apprised?  I don't know about you, but if a government I was in charge of got overthrown while my biggest, baddest army dude was out of town with a whole bunch of troops, the very first thing I would do is contact that biggest, baddest army dude for help.

Pahoran Wrote this Letter When he was Drunk
Our favorite chief judge might not be the quickest curelom in the pack, but he makes up for his lack of intelligence by being a real swell guy (verse 9):
And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart.
Whoa, what?  Full stop.  The greatness of Moroni's heart?  Where are you getting this from?  Based on the letter he sent you, you should be discussing the blindness of his violent rage, not the greatness of his heart. To further confuse matters, that same verse concludes with this statement:
My soul standeth fast in that liberty in the which God hath made us free.
Okay, so he was just talking about how he wants to retake the judgment seat because he wants to preserve the rights and liberty of his people.  But what he's talking about now sounds like agency, meaning the freedom to choose as opposed to political freedoms.  And I'm guessing "my soul standeth fast" means that he's somehow motivated and anchored by one or both kinds of freedom.  But the confusion about which he's referring to, combined with the bizarre, extra-clunky phrasing ("in that liberty in the which") and the aforementioned complete misinterpretation of Moroni's anger all make me think that the stress of being forcibly removed from power finally got to him and he wrote the epistle in a state of severe inebriation.

Pacifism, Only Not
In verses 10 through 13, Pahoran makes several haughty statements about war in which he pretends that he and his people are pacifists.
  • They wouldn't shed the blood of the Lamanites if they would stay in their own land
  • They wouldn't shed the blood of their brethren if they would not rise up in rebellion
  • They would subject themselves to the yoke of bondage if God would command them to
  • God doesn't command this, only that they have faith in him unto deliverance
Okay, first of all, Pahoran, don't act like you're above this war business.  Look back on the last five hundred years of your civilization.  You guys fight wars all the time.  You can play the victim all you want, but the Nephites have delivered just as much hurt over the years as the Lamanites.

And secondly, you mention that God has not commanded you to be subject to your enemies, only to put your trust in him so he can deliver you.  If you were really a pacifist (and not just pretending), you wouldn't take up arms in the first place.  You'd negotiate peacefully and place your trust in God like he commands so that he can deliver you from war with some kind of, I don't know, peace agreement.  You know, those things that pacifists like.

Then we get to the part of Pahoran's response where he lays out an action plan (verse 15):
Therefore, come unto me speedily with a few of your men, and leave the remainder in the charge of Lehi and Teancum; give unto them power to conduct the war in that part of the land, according to the Spirit of God, which is also the spirit of freedom which is in them.
Okay, first of all, can we stop equating political freedom with righteousness?  Religion and politics, guys, it's apples and oranges.  But secondly, didn't Moroni just write a letter begging Pahoran for reinforcements?  Because it sounds like Pahoran is asking Moroni's already dwindling army to come reinforce him.  That's the exact opposite of what Moroni requested.

And what was the other thing Moroni wanted?  Provisions for his troops.  Look at Pahoran's response (verse 16):
Behold, I have sent a few provisions unto them, that they may not perish until ye can come to me.
If you can send provisions, why didn't you do it sooner?  If Moroni hadn't mentioned to you that your troops were wasting away out there, would they have just starved to death because you forgot about them?  Oh, no, I get it, you were just so busy with your civil war that you couldn't squeeze it into your busy schedule.  But now that you're planning to retake the city of Zarahemla, you just have so much free time and extra resources?

Something fishy is going on here.  If I were Moroni, I would probably think that going to the land of Gideon to rescue Pahoran was a trap.


  1. Love the Curelom reference!

    While studying this chapter, I stumbled across this quote at

    "One might wonder why Mormon took the time to give us the detail of Moroni's long epistle and Pahoran's reply. His purpose, assuredly, was not to show that Moroni made a mistake in his hasty accusations. Rather, it was to show what Pahoran termed 'the greatness of [his] heart.' The recurring theme of the war section of Alma is that Moroni was a great man, for if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever (Alma 48:17). So we should emulate Moroni in all respects and be thankful for the details given by Mormon which demonstrate that amidst all of his greatness, Moroni was only human."

    They don't read the story of Moroni the same way I do! And no, I will not be teaching my kids to "emulate Moroni in all respects." It's amazing how easily TBM's can mentally filter out and disregard facts and arguments that don't support their conclusions, in this case, the war crimes of Moroni.

    1. Yeah. If all men had been, and were, and would ever be like unto Moroni, our species would have annihilated itself long ago.

  2. Your'e not very nice

    1. Heh, that's one of the nicest negative comments I've gotten in a long time.

      No, sometimes I'm not very nice, but neither was Captain Moroni, so I guess none of us is perfect, right?