Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Ether 14: Countdown to Extinction

We're witnessing the death throes of the Jaredite civilization, folks.  

Ain't Happy Without a Good Curse
The chapter begins with a description of a curse that befalls the people.  This is one of the more peculiar ones I've heard of (verse 1):
And now there began to be a great curse upon all the land because of the iniquity of the people, in which, if a man should lay his tool or his sword upon his shelf, or upon the place whither he would keep it, behold, upon the morrow, he could not find it, so great was the curse upon the land.
The people were so wicked that they kept losing things?  It makes more sense to me that they'd become so wicked and so violent that they slept with their hands on their weapons out of a necessary paranoia.  And maybe people would steal the good weapons and tools from their sleeping neighbors.  Or maybe it was a mystical curse.  I guess that works too.


Not As Good As Vantage Point
Here's a verse, that, quite honestly, requires no context (verse 9):
And it came to pass that his high priest murdered him as he sat upon his throne.
Again!?  I'm starting to think that if the FBI developed a time machine and used it to track American crime statistics back a few thousand years, they'd discover that about 80% of all homicides in this country prior to European invasion took place on either a throne or a judgment seat.  It's literally the most dangerous place for any character of the Book of Mormon to be at any given time.

Or maybe Joseph Smith just wasn't that creative when it came to dreaming up scenarios for the assassination of government officials (luckily for Lilburn Boggs).

The Great Schism
After a whole lot of fighting and killing, apparently every single person in Jaredite society chooses a side—either Coriantumr or Shiz.  Nobody strikes out on his own.  Every single Jaredite is now a member of an army.  This makes perfect sense to me.  The phenomenon likely shares a sociological explanation with why it's common to see elections in which only two candidates receive votes and no eligible voter abstains from the process.

Blood for the Blood God
In verse 25, we get a nice, straightforward, told-you-so just to make sure we understand that these people got what was coming to them:
And thus we see that the Lord did visit them in the fulness of his wrath, and their wickedness and abominations had prepared a way for their everlasting destruction.
Okay, so the moral of the story is pretty roughly shoved down the reader's throat.  But there's a serious lack of self-awareness in this chapter.  Because just three verses earlier, we were taught this:
And so swift and speedy was the war that there was none left to bury the dead, but they did march forth from the shedding of blood to the shedding of blood, leaving the bodies of both men, women, and children strewed upon the face of the land, to become a prey to the worms of the flesh.
Being punished with destruction for wickedness is something that I don't necessarily agree with, but I can understand the cold logic behind it—at least when it applies to able-minded adults.  But what exactly did those children do to deserve this brutal vengeance from God?  This chapter goes from gruesome depictions of child corpses to gloating about God's execution of justice with frightening speed.  Why did God deem it necessary to punish children for crimes they should not have been accountable for?  Why is it so important to God to use senseless violence as a teaching tool?

And thus we see that God is a bloodthirsty asshole.


  1. This brings to mind the Mountain Meadows Massacre. They supposedly only spared the children young enough to not remember. It's belief in stuff like this that mentally prepared the Mormons to carry out that deed and to cover it up.

    1. I think I need to read up on the Mountain Meadows Massacre. That's a deplorably merciful tactic. You have to have a simultaneous respect and disregard for human life to do that.

    2. This book was written by John D Lee, the only guy punished for his part in the massacre. It's fascinating. He wrote it while waiting in prison for his execution. He describes his role as well as the roles of church leadership. It's called Mormonism Unveiled: Life & Confession of John D Lee. It's free on Google Books.


    3. I think you recommended that one to me a few years ago, actually. I started it but I must have gotten sidetracked. Maybe this time I'll finish it!

    4. The entire book is interesting, but if you just want to read about the Massacre, start at page 212.

    5. For people who want to read a shorter official description of it from the church's website, go here: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2007/09/the-mountain-meadows-massacre?lang=eng&_r=1