Thursday, October 25, 2012

2 Nephi 24: Isaiah, Alternate Ending

There is a section in this chapter that makes a few interesting statements about Lucifer.

Verses 12 through 16:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  Art thou cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!
For thou has said in thy heart:  I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and shall consider thee, and shall say:  Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?
The chapter summary describes this section by saying that "Lucifer was cast out of heaven for rebellion."  This seems like equating a claim to becoming "like the Most High" to rebellion against God.  Does that mean that Joseph Smith's later doctrine of eternal progression--the idea that exalted men can become gods themselves in the same way that our God became God--is rebellion on a comparable level to Lucifer's?

I don't know if there is a god, but if there is one I certainly hope he has a good sense of irony.  Because if he does, you can bet he'll have Joseph Smith in a cage for all eternity so that people can walk by, squint at him and say, "Is this the little guy that caused all that trouble?"

Friday, October 12, 2012

2 Nephi 23: Isaiah, Production Notes

As Nephi continues to quote Isaiah (chapter 13), he actually manages to make a few changes of greater importance than simple punctuation.

In verse 3, he alters a few words to clarify that God's "mighty ones" and those that "rejoice in [his] highness" are exempt from his anger.  I suppose that's a fair thing to point out, as the King James version of this verse does make it sound a little weird, but it's hardly earth-shattering revelation.

In verse 8, Nephi removes the phrase "they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth," which simply amounts to extracting a bit of imagery. 

In verse 15, Nephi adds a little specificity.  He amends Isaiah's comment about people being "thrust through" and "falling by the sword" to point out that these people will be those who are "proud" or "joined to the wicked."  Helpful, I suppose, but nothing to build a testimony on.

And in verse 22, Nephi adds a closing statement to the chapter:  "For I will destroy [Babylon] speedily; yea, for I will be merciful unto my people, but the wicked shall perish."  The destruction of Babylon has been prophesied roughly a bajillion times, and God's proclamations of destroying the wicked and preserving "his people" are just as plentiful throughout the scriptures. 

For a book that is claimed to have the "fullness of the gospel" and the preserved "plain and precious truths" that have been removed from the Bible, the Book of Mormon's quotations from the Bible are pretty sparse on the precious doctrines.  There are some differences between Isaiah and Second Nephi, but I've seen nothing so far that is important enough to merit including a dozen chapters of Isaiah (in their entirety).

I think I only have two Isaiah-quoting chapters left.  Are we there yet? 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Scammer Tactics

So the big topic that has the Mormon and ex-Mormon blogospheres similarly abuzz is the shocking announcement at General Conference that missionary ages are being lowered.  That's right--young men may serve as early as 18 and young women as early as 19.

Juicy stuff.

In light of this development, I'd like to add my own spin to the zillions of other opinions swirling around on the internet.  I'd like to talk about dirty sales tactics (or scammer tactics) and how they apply to the church's decision to get the mishies out early.  This is not about the tactics the missionaries will use on the unsuspecting public to lure them into a seemingly harmless but secretly destructive religious organization--this is about the tactics that religious organization is using on the missionaries.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I'll Go to Your Church if You Go to Mine

This is just another memory of how much of an arrogant prick I was when I was a fully-brainwashed member of the church.

I had this close friend from maybe third grade through eighth grade who was a hardcore evangelical Christian.  He was caught up in the whole Christian pop-culture thing, too (you know, showing kids that church is hip and cool and your only avenue to heaven).  He was a pretty cool guy, I guess, but he was pretty pushy when it came to religion.

Monday, October 1, 2012

2 Nephi 22: Isaiah, Director's Cut

This is another copy of Isaiah.  These are not the most interesting chapters to read or to comment on.

It's only six verses and it almost exactly mirrors Isaiah chapter 12, with a few differences in punctuation.  My favorite difference is at the end of the first verse, when the already odd-sounding, archaic "comfortedst" is altered to "comfortedest."  This seems to be simply a misspelling of an early modern English verb form.  It's interesting, though, that the only real differences in so many of these Isaiah chapters are punctuation and spelling.

As far as I can tell, the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew.  Around 600 BC, Nephi's family took a copy of the Hebrew scriptures with them to the Americas.  Somewhere over the next thousand years and a few abridgments, Nephi's copies of Isaiah chapters got translated into some language called "Reformed Egyptian," which Joseph Smith then translated into English.  I guess the closeness to the established book of Isaiah after all that time and those translations could be faith-promoting for a believing Mormon.

But unfortunately, Mormonism teaches that one of the reasons we need the Book of Mormon so much is because, over the centuries, evil men had altered or removed the "plain and precious truths" from the scriptures, rendering the King James Bible flawed and incomplete.  But considering that what became the King James Bible was translated piecemeal from various translations and with an ear to established scriptural traditions (meaning the translators' choices were sometimes practical instead of inspired) and prone to those evil conspiring men messing it all up, it seems very suspicious to me that two versions of the same text took very different linguistic journeys in distinct civilizations on opposite sides of the globe only to result in minute punctuation differences.

That isn't evidence that the Book of Mormon is true.  It's evidence that Joseph Smith simply copied large sections of the Old Testament.

Actually, sitting down and thinking about this for more than a minute makes me disappointed with my own reasoning skills for not working this out much, much earlier in life.