Thursday, August 27, 2015

Helaman 2: The Rise of Gadianton

Although the Lamanite threat is seemingly neutralized for the time being, the Nephites now face some internal problems in the form of Kishkumen and his new friend, the infamous Gadianton

How Does This Plan Work?
Gadianton's namesake, the Gadianton Robbers, are basically a pre-Columbian mafia gang illuminati terrorist organization.  In this chapter, their first big move since becoming associated with the name Gadianton is to murder Helaman Junior because he's recently been elected to the position of chief judge.

Kishkumen is given the impression that, if he commits this murder, he will be given Helaman's job.  I have no idea why anybody thinks that this is a realistic possibility.  Kishkumen's already murdered one chief judge, and all that happened was another election.  Why is there any reason to think that things will happen differently the second time around?  And why is there any chance that Kishkumen will be elected and/or installed as chief judge?

So basically none of this makes any sense.  As usual.

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Laws
Verse 6 begins a little story about a servant of Helaman who has previously disguised himself and infiltrated Gadianton's band. This verse uses the word "as" to imply that something else was taking place while Kishkumen was sneaking in to carry out the murder, but gets so caught up in explaining, mid-sentence, the backstory of this servant of Helaman that it never gets around to specifying the second of the two concurrent events.

But worse than this book's grasp of narrative fluidity and proper grammar is the servant's actions.  Instead of alerting the guards that there was a plot to kill Helaman prior to the assassin's entrance into the building and instead of telling Helaman to flee the judgment seat and instead of calling the guards while Kishkumen was already inside and instead of doing any number of other smarter, safer, and more practical things, this servant takes it upon himself to use the secret methods of communications he's learned from his infiltration efforts to give Kishkumen a false sense of security before stabbing him in the heart.


So much for the rule of law and due process and all of that bullhockey.  While I realize that this servant was trying to accomplish something good by saving the leader of his people, he still murdered someone.  There were plenty of other ways for him to try to save Helaman that wouldn't involve him taking the law into his own hands or stabbing anyone in the heart.

What's even more shocking is Helaman's reaction.  When his servant bursts in and explains all the awful, illegal and violent stuff he just did, Helaman immediately sends his troops out to catch Gadianton and his cronies "that they might be executed according to the law."  No mention of what Helaman decided to do with his servant.

If sending a bunch of guys out to capture Gadianton's Robbers was an option, why didn't the servant tell Helaman about this sooner, while he was sneaking into the group and learning their plans and their secrets?  So much of his behavior is completely unacceptable.  Why is there no discussion of the servant's execution?  Surely if a group of people who conspired to murder someone are presumed guilty on the word of one man and sentenced to execution, then a man who confesses to committing murder himself should have a similar fate.

God is a Bad Editor
The last two verses of the chapter make me chuckle:
And behold, in the end of this book ye shall see that this Gadianton did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi.
Behold I do not mean the end of the book of Helaman, but I mean the end of the book of Nephi, from which I have taken all the account which I have written. 
That reaaaaally sounds like someone dictated it on the fly.  If those prophets were really that inspired as they were writing all this down and if Joseph Smith were really that inspired when he translated it, you'd think this could have been dropped neatly into one sentence without the instant correction.  Instead of "this book" it could have just read "the book of Nephi."  Problem solved.  14th verse unnecessary.

Unless someone was making this up as he went along, of course.


  1. Do you really think it's appropriate to wake up our kids early in the morning everyday to read this Gadianton Robber, secret combination, stab in the heart murder stuff to our children from the time they're born? No way! I refuse!

    1. Hey, at least there's no scalping scene in this chapter.

      I still can't wrap my brain around my sister's desperate search for children's poetry that doesn't talk about death...even though she reads her kids a chapter of this violent book every night.

    2. I know, right? I don't get it. I really don't. The Book of Mormon is so violent. What parent, any parent, would allow their children to watch a movie or TV show with even a small percentage of the violence of the Book of Mormon? They wouldn't. We're disgusted when we watch the news about militants in the middle east who cut off people's heads, burn people alive, mass murder groups of people, kidnap and rape women and girls, etc. We shield our children from hearing about those things going on in the world. Yet, Mormons read it to their kids everyday right out of the Book of Mormon, and they think it's inspiring and uplifting.

    3. I mean, to be fair, it's a lot less traumatizing to read about violence in faux-King-James-Bible English than it is to actually see somebody get beheaded on TV.

      But on the other hand, hearing about this Book of Mormon stuff as a kid makes you think it's okay because the people are "righteous" and you grow up thinking it's inspiring and uplifting because your parents tell you it is. So maybe the Book of Mormon is less damaging short-term than a violent TV show, but in the long run it can really mess with your head.