Tuesday, March 6, 2012

1 Nephi 12: Generalized Characterization

Joseph Smith Doesn't Know People
In Nephi's sweeping vision of the future of his posterity on the American continent, there's this little part about how Jesus comes down and visits his descendants (I'll get to that later...like, Third Nephi later). And then Nephi says that after Jesus visits the people and establishes church leadership (twelve apostles), three generations "pass away in righteousness." This is simply impossible.

Come on. It's a full-blown society that's been thriving and growing on the continent for six hundred years, so there's thousands upon thousands of people (minus the deaths from the catastrophes signalling Jesus' crucifixion). And those people, who are all converted upon Jesus's arrival, later have grandchildren who don't depart from the beliefs of their elders? No dissent whatsoever until the fourth generation?

Human nature, pal. Maybe the majority will stick with the status quo, but there's always those people that want to be different, or want to rebel, or need to question what they've been taught. Unless Jesus is there to reign personally (which, of course, he wasn't), I don't think you're going to get three solid generations of righteous believers. That's just silly. It sounds like a happily-ever-after-fairy tale in which everything is an extreme--the female lead is the most beautiful, the male lead is the most honorable, the antagonist is pure evil, and everything else is appropriately exaggerated.

Hey, Look! Racism!
You know it's not real Mormonism until you're quashing the status of a supposedly inferior group of people! In Nephi's future-vision, he witnesses his descendants get wiped out by the descendants of his brothers (Laman and Lemuel, the non-believers). And then, after all the Nephites have been eradicated, Nephi witnesses the Lamanites become "a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations." So, from this Book of Mormon passage, we learn that Native Americans are, in fact, filthy, loathsome and abominable. Nice.

Because the white guys that came by several hundred years later, kicked them out of their homes, tricked them into signing treaties, gave them small pox and slaughtered them...those guys weren't loathsome at all.

On a related note--weren't the people in Joseph Smith's day a little less enlightened than we are about racial issues and the equality of people as human beings and stuff? Wasn't it normal to consider the Native Americans to be savages, second class citizens, or a lower form of humanity? I'm sure saying bad stuff about the Native Americans didn't create too many waves back then, but considering Mormons believe in a god who loves all his children, that kind of bigotry just doesn't seem to jive with the church's modern image. It's like the religion is founded by a book that was entirely fabricated in the mid-nineteenth century or something.

...Also, More Visions.
The Book of Mormon is like Inception. When you're watching Inception, you're trying to figure out how much of the movie is actually happening in real-time, how much of it is a flashback, and how much of it is a dream or a dream within a dream.

When you're reading the Book of Mormon, you're trying to figure out how much of the book is actually happening in real-time, how much of it is an editor's note by Mormon, and how much of it is a vision or a vision about someone else's earlier vision.

No comments:

Post a Comment