Friday, December 30, 2016

3 Nephi 26: Haven't We Been Here Before

Jesus is still expounding upon the gospel, as Jesus is apparently wont to do.

Some Kind of Convoluted Wisdom
If a careful reading of verse 2 doesn't make you scratch your head, you must have a very high tolerance for nonsense:
And he saith: These scriptures, which ye had not with you, the Father commanded that I should give unto you; for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations.
So, Jesus gave these scriptures to the ancient Americans because God wanted the modern church to have them?  Let's analyze God's "wisdom" here....

Wouldn't it have been easiernay, wiser—for God to have made these scriptures available in the modern day through the use of his modern prophets?  I mean, unless the scriptures are meant for both the ancient era and the modern day, but I'm not sure if that's true either considering that Jesus expounded upon obsolete doctrine in the previous chapter, so maybe these scriptures are meant for, you know, a whole bunch of dead people.

Jesus does seem to imply that he's sharing these scriptures with the Nephites because the Nephites don't have access to them, but if that's why he's doing it, why couldn't God have done it sooner, before the Mosiac Law had become passé, and while all the doctrines would have actually done the ancient Americans some good?

But these scriptures lifted from the Bible are largely identical to the Biblical versions so widely available during—and ever since—the restoration of the church.  The number of changes made that aren't merely grammatical is staggeringly low when compared against the quantity of Biblical material borrowed.

And then when you consider the fact that almost two millennia later, Joseph Smith will go through the Bible and make "corrected" translations that will, in some cases, not match the supposedly perfect translations in the Book of Mormon, none of this makes any sense.  If God could have had Joseph Smith provide the modern era with these scriptures, why did he bother to make sure this part of the ancient records were preserved for us?  And if Joseph was inspired to write different words than what Christ himself said, which version of the translation is technically the correct word of God?

So basically, God's strategy here is way too confused to be considered as anything which remotely approaches wisdom.

The Reliable Excuse
I'm getting pretty tired of the Book of Mormon using this particular cop-out (verses 6 and 7):
And now there cannot be written in this book even a hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people; 
But behold the plates of Nephi do contain the more part of the things which he taught the people.
If you can't even fit one percent of the speech of the savior of the freaking world into your little book, then why would you bother to include so much other stuff that doesn't matter?  Get rid of Jarom, Omni, and the Words of Mormon.  Cut out most of the Isaiah quotes.  Pare down the war chapters to be less about military strategy and more about gospel stuff.  And then maybe we can hear more about the most important event in the entirety of this centuries-long history book.

But, rest assured, dear readers, Jesus said plenty of stuff, but it's only unlockable as downloadable content if you pay an exorbitant secondary fee. But it's totally there.

This reminds me of the various members of the Quorum of the Twelve assuring the church that answers to their questions exist—but neglecting to answer or directly acknowledge the most important questions.  It's useless.

But it gets worse.  This chapter takes that old cop-out and raises it to an unprecedented level.  In verse 11, Nephi states that he Lord "forbade" him from writing down everything Jesus said.  In verse 14, the Nephite children teach many unspecified "great and marvelous things, even greater than [Jesus] had revealed unto the people."  In verse 16, the children again taught "marvelous things" on which God also issued a gag order.  And finally, in verse 18, many of the people baptized by the disciples "saw and heard unspeakable things, which are not lawful to be written."

I think we're beating this to death here.  Are these things sacred, are they secret, or had Joseph Smith simply not made up enough of his deeper doctrines at the time of this chapter's supposed translation?

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Little Update

I haven't been doing very well lately.

Things have been a struggle in most aspects of my life.  With my job, with my family, with my crippling lack of a social life...although I guess financially I'm doing okay, which is something to be grateful for.  And I'm still healthy, which is fantastic.  But the point is that, overall, 2016 has been my worst year, hands down, since the year I came to the slow realization that the religion I'd built my whole life around was a lie.

It's been fun.

But what's different about being miserable this time around is that I feel infinitely better equipped to change my circumstances and adjust my attitude.  As comforting as it used to be to say a prayer at night asking for everything to work out okay, I think that habit fed my sense of helplessness.  I'm sure it wasn't the same for everyone, but when I was in high school and everything was awful (at least it was in my eyes) and it was too exhausting to try to fix things on my own, it was a relief to feel like I was allowed to push that responsibility off onto a benevolent deity rather than hunker down on my own.  I think being a religious person enabled my natural tendency to resign myself to my fate.  It's a tendency I still fight, but I think I'm far, far better at it these days.

What I struggle with the most right now is the fact that I have very little to call a safety net.  I mean, my parents are good people—if I totally crashed and burned, they would let me move back in with them.  But that would be indescribably uncomfortable.  My family is more of a last resort than a safety net.  They're the metaphorical equivalent of dialing 911 while you're lying on the ground with two broken legs because there was no safety net.  Perhaps it's childish and prideful, but I despise the thought of accepting any support from them, whether it's emotional, professional, financial, or whatever.  So I feel like I'm pretty much on my own, which makes me terrified and anxious, but it also makes me prouder of my small victories.

One of the positive aspects of the church is absolutely the community.  The built-in safety net.  I mean, I could argue all day about the ineffectiveness of priesthood blessings, the insincerity of assigned home teachers, and the I-made-this-underprivileged-family-in-the-ward-a-casserole humblebragging and all the cultural snarls that come with it, but in Mormonism, the safety net is there.  It may come at a price and it may be frustrating, but it's there.  It would be nice to have that again.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going back.  I don't want that kind of safety net.  But it's certainly daunting to face a variety of problems without feeling like any person or any organization, no matter how flawed, has your back.

And I guess I don't know what to do about that, but I know I can do something.  I don't know how to walk the rope without the net, but there is a certain twisted thrill in learning by making it all up as you go.  Life by trial and error is much more exhilarating than life by rote.  And at least I know they're my trials and my errors instead of someone else's treasure map to eternal salvation.

So I guess I'll see how this whole life thing works.