Sunday, May 4, 2014

Alma 22: Here We Go Again

Now Aaron sets his sights on the big boss battlehe decides to convert Lamoni's father, king of all the Lamanites.

Aaron Exposes God's Cons
Aaron outlines the Plan of Salvation for the king, laying out life, the universe and everything:
And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.
So Aaron explains that because of the fall of manwhich was part of God's plan from the beginningwe are unable to earn our own salvation.  And he also points out that Christ's atonement will give us victory over deathwhich we're prone to only because of the fall of man, which (again) was part of God's plan from the beginning.  Which means that Aaron is praising God for his wonderful solutions to problems he created intentionally.

This is reminiscent of Professor Harold Hill going into River City, convincing the people that there's some imaginary behavioral problem with their children, and then selling them a product to remedy the situation. That's how a con man acts, not how a perfected deity acts.

Haven't We Been Here Before?
Lamoni's father believes Aaron and heeds his call to repentance.  As soon as Lamoni has finished begging the Lord for forgiveness, unfortunately, he falls unconscious and everybody thinks he's dead.

Joseph is recycling an already-recycled plot device.  This happened to Lamoni and his entire household a few chapters ago and it happened to Alma the Younger in Mosiah chapter 27.  Although this phenomenon keeps cropping up in the Book of Mormon, I'm struggling to think of an example of it in modern church history.  Which makes sense, I guess, because church history actually happened and the events of the Book of Mormon didn't.

Miracle Precedes the Faith?
There's a slightly different spin on this version of the new-convert-goes-catatonic story this time, however.  The queen thinks that Aaron and his brothers have killed her husband, so she orders the servants of her household to kill them.  The servants are scared of the sons of Mosiah, however, and are hesitant to obey.  So in a bizarre moment of desperation, the queen orders them in verse 21 to go out and rile up the citizens so that they can kill the missionaries as a mob.

Aaron solves the problem by miraculously bringing the king back from the not-quite-dead.  The entire household promptly converts to the gospel based on this one experience.

Ask a Mormon why Laman and Lemuel remained wicked after being visited by an angel and the response will probably be something along the lines of "miracles can strengthen testimonies, but they can't form the basis of a strong testimony."  Then ask a Mormon why all of Lamoni's father's household converted after his miraculous recovery.  

Unnecessary Detail, Five Yard Penalty
It appears that Mormon butts in for a while at the end of this chapter to explain the geographical relationships between the Nephite and Lamanite nations.  For eight verses, from 27 to 34, nothing of doctrinal significance is discussed.  It's only vague descriptions of topography and climate and a little bit about military borders.  I see no reason why those verses were required to be preserved for our day.

Everyone Loves a Run-On!
And we also have another unresolved thought (similar to Witnessing a Convoluted Sentence).  Check out verse 27:
And it came to pass that the king sent a proclamation throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west, and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the westand thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided.
That's all one sentence.  It starts off talking about the king's proclamation and ends up talking about the borders between Lamanite-land and Nephite-topia.  And we never find out what this important proclamation is about.  But for some reason we needed to know that there was a proclamation.

The Book of Mormon is terribly written.  Anyone who says otherwise hasn't read it closely enough.


  1. Holy crap! That sentence is all over the place. And just think, someone had to carve that into plates.

    1. I'm imagining my high school English teacher grading that sentence and it's making me chuckle. So much red pen.

  2. You are missing the point of this sentence painstakingly etched due to its importance to future readers who would be reading this in the future to know that the person delivering the proclamation by pony express (which was really a Llama or Tapir) had to go to the divided nations of the Lamanites and Nephites in all the regions round about in a circular fashion, uphill both ways, bordering every wilderness and all the seas and also the seashores in all directions, and also every city to the North then back to the East, over to the West and back South passing all border security at the rivers without stopping for directions taking the time to smell the flowers blooming on the mountains on the East face collecting --so the proclamation.

  3. Just found this site and am loving the notion of a literary review of the Book of Mormon -- as well as any other observations you may have about the sacred text. Well done, Alex!

    1. Thanks, Donna! It's good to see a familiar name/face around here. I've enjoyed Ward Gossip as well, although I haven't gotten around to reading your books yet.