Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mosiah 28: Backdoor Pilot

Now that Alma the Younger and the Four Sons of Mosiah have been forcibly rehabilitated, they join the good guys and decide to become missionaries.

This is How Mission Calls Are Received?
The first eight verses of this chapter tell a story that is lots of fun to contrast with the modern church's method for handling prospective missionaries.  Here are the key differences:
  • The sons of Mosiah volunteered because of the strength of their testimonies, not out of family pressure or cultural duty.  
  • They chose their own destination (the land of Nephi, where the Lamanites were) instead of letting some oft-touted committee of church higher-ups assign them one.
  • They chose their own companions instead of letting a mission president assign them at his whims.
  • Instead of bringing their desire to serve a mission to the ecclesiastical leader, Alma, they went to the secular ruler, King Mosiah.  This seems to be a recurring problem.  (See "Church and State" and "More Problems with Authority")
Sometimes it really seems like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints bears very little resemblance to the church described in its defining book of scripture.

A Slow News Day in Zarahemla
After the departure of his sons, King Mosiah uses some seer stones (presumed to be the Urim and Thummim which Joseph Smith later possessed) to translate the records of the Jaredites.  Smith talks it up pretty well by describing how excited the people were to learn about the history of the Jaredites and by analyzing their reactions once the records were shared:
And this he did [translated the records] because of the great anxiety of his people; for they were desirous beyond measure to know concerning those people who had been destroyed.
...Now this account did cause the people of Mosiah to mourn exceedingly, yea, they were filled with sorrow; nevertheless it gave them much knowledge, in the which they did rejoice.
Which, in modern language, equates to something like this:
The highly anticipated and critically acclaimed Book of Ether is the event of the summer!  You'll laugh!  You'll cry!  You won't want to miss a single episode!  Fridays at nine, eight central on ABC!
Yep.  The Book of Mosiah contains a backdoor pilot and a commercial for the Book of Ether.

So the Urim and Thummim are What Now?
Here is God's brilliant description of Mosiah's seer stones—by which I mean the mortal Smith's flawed description of Mosiah's seer stones:
And now he [Mosiah] translated them [the Jaredite records] by the means of those two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow.
So now you know exactly what he was talking about, right?

Not to overuse the why-would-they-carve-such-unnecessary-detail-into-metal-plates argument, but why would they carve such unnecessary detail into metal plates?  Especially considering how useless this description is?  Do we even need to know what the seer stones look like so long as we know that they were tools provided by the Lord for the interpretation of languages?  What practical purpose does this verse serve other than to make every attentive reader pause, struggle to picture it, and then read on in confusion?


  1. Do you think Mosiah's translation of the Book of Ether is as accurate as Joseph's Myth's translation of the Book of Abraham? Too bad we don't have the actual record of the Jaredites to verify it.

    That description of the seer stones in the bow always confused me, because I imagine them attached to Nephi's steel bow. I never, ever imagined them as some sort of spectacles, if that's even what they looked like.

    1. I found some quote somewhere on the internet that was attributed to one of Joseph's relatives long after Joseph died that tried to explain exactly what the "fastened into the two rims of a bow" thing was supposed to mean. The bow was apparently bent into a figure eight? It wasn't really helpful. This is the most correct book on the face of the earth but it utterly botches a simple description of a physical object?

    2. Wouldn't it be interestion if the church would actually show the membership the actual stones they possess and explain how Joseph claims to have used them? I went to Google Images and searched Joseph Smith seer stone. It show drawings of the "bow" as well as the other stones. This is all so freaking weird.

    3. I think the reason they're not showing us the stones, other than because they don't exist, is because it would be too embarrassing. Despite all the mysticism in the church's founding, I think the modern church realizes that most of that stuff is looked upon by current standards as hokey magic. They can't necessarily wipe the Urim and Thummim from church history, but I think they do what they can to downplay it and its silly magical properties.

      At least that's my theory.

    4. I understand they actually do have Joseph's stone but not the Book of Mormon ones, of course since they don't exist. I found this quote.

      "We have been taught since the days of the Prophet that the Urim and Thummim were returned with the plates to the angel. We have no record of the Prophet having the Urim and Thummim after the organization of the church. Statements of translations by the Urim and Thummim after that date are evidently ERRORS. The statement has been made that the Urim and Thummim was on the altar in the Manti Temple when that building was dedicated. The Urim and Thummim so spoken of, however, was the seer stone which was in the possession of the Prophet Joseph Smith in early days. This seer stone is now in the possession of the church."---"Doctrines of Salvation," vol. lll, Joseph Fielding Smith, p. 225.

    5. Interesting. It sure would be fun to see all the weird crap the church has hidden away in its archives.

    6. Michael Quinn saw a lot of the weird writings in the Church archives, wrote about them, and then got excommunicated. So much for "we believe in being honest."

    7. Yeah, well, they believe in being chaste, too, but the guy who wrote that had a lot of trouble keeping it in his pants, so....