Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mormon 3: Down the Toilet Bowl

During a decade-long hiatus to the slaughter,  Mormon tries to protect his people against the likelihood of another Lamanite attack. 

Are You There, God?  It's Us, Everybody
In verse 2, God finally does something about the rampant wickedness:
And it came to pass that the Lord did say unto me: Cry unto this people—Repent ye, and come unto me, and be ye baptized, and build up again my church, and ye shall be spared.
Well, what the hell took you so long?  These people are beating each other's brains out while sinning up a storm in their downtime, and now you decide to send one solitary missionary out to call them to repentance?  It's been years.

The next verse explains that it didn't work anyway.  Apparently God wasn't feeling merciful enough to soften their hearts.  So bang-up job there.  Although that begs the question of why God commanded Mormon to preach in the first place if he wasn't going to make any headway.  Is God really not prescient after all, or was he just giving his servant some pointless busywork?

Mormon is an Idiot
In a strangely civilized move, the King of the Lamanites sends Mormon a letter in which he states his intent to stage a military attack on the Nephite nation.  So what does Mormon do?  Look at verses 5 and 6:
And it came to pass that I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward. 
And there we did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands; therefore we did fortify against them with all our force.
Okay, that's great and all, but...

In verse 1, Mormon explains that he was directing his people in "preparing their lands and their arms against the time of battle."  How is it that nobody said, "Hey, guys, since the treaty with the Lamanites gave us the land northward and them the land southward, and those two regions are separated by a narrow neck of land, why don't we make sure we have a strong military presence somewhere down there?  You know, since it's the most direct avenue of attack and a pretty handy choke point to boot?"

In ten years, nobody came up with this appallingly fundamental strategy.  It's only after a declaration of war that Mormon says, "Oh, crap, let's make sure we fortify the border we share with a belligerent nation which has historically been hell-bent on annihilating us."  I know there are lots of stupid characters in the Book of Mormon, but Mormon himself is giving them all a run for their money here.  Say what you want about Captain Moroni—he may have been a monster and a war criminal, but even he wouldn't have made a blunder this egregious.

However...the Lamanite King is about to march directly into this rather obvious setup not once but twice without considering an investment in some boats for his army to circumvent the choke point, so...I guess we'll add him to the list of morons, too.

Hissyfits Galore
Frustrated with his army's wickedness and boastfulness, Mormon resigns his post in disgust.  Why?   He begins in verse 12:
Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts.
Mormon loves his soldiers so much that he's going to remove himself from the equation, leaving them without a righteous, inspired leader, and thereby dramatically increasing the probability that they will all die in battle.  If that's love, I hope everyone hates me.

But that's not even as harsh as God's temper tantrum of explicit violence in verse 15:
Vengeance is mine, and I will repay; and because this people repented not after I had delivered them, behold, they shall be cut off from the face of the earth.

Damn, son. Not only is that harsh, but, given God's identity thus far as a weak communicator, I'm betting he didn't give the Nephites much of a reason to think that their victories in war were not merely the result of their own strength or perhaps of Mormon's leadership. Apparently, they just should have known. But since they didn't, it's time to sprinkle on a dash of death and two tablespoons of destruction.

Standing Idly By
Before ending the chapter with an impassioned plea for repentance aimed at just about everyone except for these two self-immolating societies, Mormon describes himself as "an idle witness" to the inevitable eradication of his people.  This brings to mind the famous quote that "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

But it wasn't just Mormon doing nothing.  God was sanctioning his inaction and thereby suborning the triumph of evil.  Which is immeasurably worse, I think.

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