Thursday, May 16, 2013

Jacob 6: Badly in Need of a Retcon

Jacob Mixes his Metaphors
Our current protagonist just got finished relating a very complicated vineyard allegory in which the prophets were servants in the vineyard and the people (both Israelites and Gentiles) were represented by various branches of various trees.  But before moving on to another topic, he makes this statement in verse 3:
And how blessed are they who have labored diligently in his vineyard
Wait—based on the allegory he's referring to, those who labored in the vineyard were God's prophets.  Is he telling his people "your prophets are blessed because of their work?"   Because that doesn't seem very useful, considering he spends this chapter trying to scare people out of Hell.  He must be referring to his people when he refers to laborers, which flies in the face of the detailed illustration of God's plan he provided in the previous chapter.

Jacob Forgets The Hands-Off Approach
The prophet makes some interesting amnesiac comments about God across several verses.
He [God] stretches forth his hands unto them [Israel] all the day long
...cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. have been nourished by the good word of God all the day long 
But this everpresent, relentlessly nurturing God is the same one who disappeared twice in the middle of the Allegory of the Olive Tree and was happy to give up and burn stuff if his servants didn't talk him out of it.  Clearly, Jacob has as selective memory.   Because the god he described in the previous chapter doesn't stretch his hand forth all the day long, doesn't cleave unto his children and doesn't nourish us with his word all the day long.


  1. You make some great points.

    In church, a few days ago, a woman spoke of her mother who didn't have a burning in the bosom testimony but rather served out of a sense of duty. Her mother was still a very strong member who loved to magnify her callings. I guess she is cleaving unto god even though he isn't there to answer her and despite her faithful service. I wonder what percent of active members are the same, they don't "know" yet they go out of duty to their ancestors or family. I know my wife and I fit into that category to a certain extent.

    1. I was like that for almost the entire time I was in the church, I just didn't realize it. I didn't know, but I thought I was supposed to know, so I fell in to this weird "fake it 'til you make it and don't let your parents down" kind of role.

      I know I'm far from the only one like that. I wish there were some kind of effective way to take a poll of active members and find out exactly how many of them thought they'd had a burning in the bosom experience.

  2. 15 years ago, I remember expressing a disbelief in the church and a dislike of the temple. I was advised to fake it. That hasn't work for me. In fact, I think if my wife and I had talked more openly about our disbelief at the time, we would be in a better position today. Also, on many occasions, I've heard people testify, mostly men, that they know the church is true, but even if it wasn't true, they would still go. They think it still teaches good principles for their family, etc. I think that statement right there shows that they don't "know." It has doubt built into it.

    Now back to your comments on Jacob. About a year ago, in fast and testimony meeting, a woman got up and told how grateful she was that god "micromanages" every detail of her life. At the time, I heard that and thought, wow, like pretty much every member of the church, this woman doesn't understand free agency. In reality the only way for people to truly have free agency is for god to leave us alone to make our own choices without immediate "blessings" that TBMs constantly seek. But I regress, we do make our own choices, and there is no "Lord of vineyard" and the servants are making it up as they go.

    1. Your bishop gave you a "fake it 'til you make it" speech? Ridiculous.

      I've definitely heard my share of "even if it's not true, it's still a good way to live" testimonies. Maybe it's unfair of me, but I consider that position to be kind of...for the weak. The church may teach some good things (family, preparedness, financial stability) but you don't need those goals and priorities to come from an outside source. If you want to have a strong family, you shouldn't need to go to a church and give it ten percent of your money to have one.

      And I agree with you that it seems like a pat on the back to people who are terrified of how little faith they might have. It's kind of a Mormon version of Pascal's wager--"even if the church isn't true, you still made a good call because it teaches good principles, so you might as well stay in just in case."

  3. No. It wasn't the bishop. It was a trainer at a self-improvement seminar run by LDS members but not affiliated with the church. He was a gentleman, probably in his upper 50's at the time.