Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2010, May 10

“Book of Mormon | UPDATE: Glass Windows in Ether?” by grego

I commented earlier on John Tvedtnes’ article “Heavenly Light” found at http://www.meridianmagazine.com/bookofmormon/080227misunderstanding.html here.

Hugh Nibley showed that glass was very likely already in existence at the time, and there wouldn’t be any problems with “glass windows”.

I have a few additional comments:

I prefer Nibley’s explanation of the windows actually being glass! To me, it beats the pants off of FAIR and Tvedtnes’ explanations as the windows *not* being made of glass.

I guess FAIR and Tvedtnes’ window explanation is possible, but I have a hard time imagining that the Lord would say, “don’t use open holes, because the waves might break the barges”; instead of “open holes in barges = you’ll drown, eh!”.

Noah’s ark was huge–and I’m sure the window(s) were much higher up on the huge (tall) boat, than the windows on the barges that the Jaredites were on; I mean, I don’t envision barges that were the length of a tree, also being taller than a tree; does anyone?

The windows’ main purpose was to provide air, but by being glass, they would also provide light at all times, not just when opened up all the way–which would be hard to do with shutters/ covers. If so, the brother of Jared was trying to kill two birds with one stone in his design.

Though the antecedent problem (however strong… or weak it might be) is an explanation, there’s this verse, in Ether 3:1:
“1 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared, (now the number of the vessels which had been prepared was eight) went forth unto the mount, which they called the mount Shelem, because of its exceeding height, and did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as *TRANSPARENT GLASS*; and he did carry them in his hands upon the top of the mount, and cried again unto the Lord…”

It seems the Jaredites either had glass, or something similar that Ether/ Mormon/ JS (take your pick) used “transparent glass” to describe. Now, if it was the same, well, glass! If it wasn’t glass, but it was *just* “white and clear, even as transparent glass”, is it possible that… well…? close enough? Maybe a window or such from something…? ;)

2009, August 26

“Critique of FAIR Website’s Book of Mormon Article: ‘Lamanite Curse'” by grego

“Critique of FAIR Website’s Book of Mormon Article: ‘Lamanite Curse'”

grego
(c)2009

This is a critique of the FAIR website’s article, “Lamanite curse”, found at: http://en.fairmormon.org/Lamanite_curse .

FAIR Article:
“Criticism
* Critics claim that the Church believed that Lamanites who accepted the Gospel would become light-skinned.
* “Mormon folklore” claims that Native Americans and Polynesians carry a curse based upon “misdeeds on the part of their ancestors.”

grego: Well, I also don’t believe either of those, but the article doesn’t answer them as much as it tries to do other things…

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “The Book of Mormon, however, sometimes does call the mark a curse, as shown in Alma 3:6-7.
And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men. And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women. Alma 3:6-7 (emphasis added)

Although this passage refers to the mark as the curse, it later makes a distinction between the curse and the mark. These passages also indicate that the curse was applied prior to the mark. [2]”

grego: Whoops, one passage is not “sometimes”. However, if other references had been given, that would be “sometimes”.

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “What is the curse?

Tvedtnes suggests that curse applied to the Lamanites was that they were cut off from the presence of the Lord. Nephi states:

Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence. 2 Nephi 5:20

A group of Nephites who joined the Lamanites illustrates. Their skin color was not changed because of their rejection of the Gospel but the curse was applied to them. Hugh Nibley describes the situation of the Amlicites:

Thus we are told (Alma 3:13-14,Alma 2:18) that while the fallen people “set the mark upon themselves,” it was none the less God who was marking them: “I will set a mark upon them,” etc. So natural and human was the process that it suggested nothing miraculous to the ordinary observer, and “the Amlicites knew not that they were fulfilling the words of God when they began to mark themselves; . . . it was expedient that the curse should fall upon them” (Alma 3:18). Here God places his mark on people as a curse, yet it is an artificial mark which they actually place upon themselves. The mark was not a racial thing but was acquired by “whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites” (Alma 3:10);[3] (emphasis added)”

grego: Notice this part carefully, because it is a “hook”: “So natural and human was the process (note this is talking about the mark on the Amlicites, not the Lamanites) that it suggested nothing miraculous to the ordinary observer, and ‘the Amlicites knew not that they were fulfilling the words of God when they began to mark themselves’. Here God places his mark on people as a curse, yet it is an artificial mark…”
We will see this nice illusory transition in the next section—be prepared, or you will miss it!
We suddenly have a conclusion that the mark was not racial, though it’s uncertain if this refers to the Amlicites or to the Lamanites. Perhaps the confusion is intended?

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “What was the mark?

As shown above, the mark may vary from group to group. The Amlicites marked themselves, and this was taken by the Nephites as a sign of divine “marking.”

Many LDS have traditionally assumed that the “mark” was a literal change in racial skin color.”

grego: There it is!! Did you see the magic trick? From the marking of the Amlicites, to others, to the marking of the Lamanites—even though there is no connection between the two in the Book of Mormon, the author (Brant Gardner, I guess, right?) wants you to imagine that there is one, even if it is just based on “common sense” type imagining.

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “There are certainly verses which can be read from this perspective. A key question, however, is whether modern members read the Book of Mormon’s ideas through their own society’s preoccupations and perspectives. American society was (and, to an extent, continues to be) convulsed over issues regarding race, especially black slavery and its consequences.

As a result, nineteenth- and twentieth-century members may have read as literal passages which were far less literal to the Nephites.”

grego: This is the ultimate cop-out that FAIR uses for some explanations: “presentism”. What it often actually means is, “Since the interpretation given doesn’t suit my purposes, I will find a reason to nullify it, and then present *my* (modern-day—but don’t remember that!!) interpretation in its stead.
It also has what I’ll refer to as Americanism. How do people in other societies *other than America* interpret the passages? If you guessed, “Literally”, “racially”, or something similarly, you would be pretty correct.
So much for that line of reasoning…

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “Douglas Campbell has completed an exhaustive review of all such references in the Book of Mormon.[4] He found that there were twenty-eight usages of the word “white” or “whiteness” in the Book of Mormon. He divided them into several categories:
1. Clothing: symbols of purity or cleanness
2. Fruit (of tree of life): luminosity or holiness
3. Stone (clear and white): literally white stones are not clear, they are opaque. Thus, white is again a term for holiness or luminosity
4. Hair (black or white): a single mention (based on the KJV Sermon on the Mount) uses the term as an allegory or symbol
5. Jesus, his mother Mary, or those made pure by him: exquisite, radiant, awe-inspiring
6. Gentiles: all Gentiles, thus not about skin color but beautiful, pure, and righteous
7. The saved: pure, holy, without spot
8. As a pair of contrasts (black and white, bond and free): sets of opposites
9. Nephites: See below

Thus, virtually all other uses of the white/black terminology reflects symbolic or spiritual states, not literal color.”

grego: This is an example of what I would call extreme playing with semantics—reading and interpreting the meanings so that they fit a predetermined, boxed, structure.
Let’s see…
1. White clothing—while symbolizing purity—is what color? White. Good.
2. What color is the fruit? White. Good.
3. The definition here for “white stone” is forced. I have seen white clear stones (in fact, I own one). It is clear, and it is white, but it is not holy (I’ve tried, but I can’t see anything… ;) )
4. Hair is what color here? Black (younger), white (aged). Good.
5. I’m glad FAIR has confirmed that Mary did not have white skin, but was very dark. (Can I order that vision too? Which page is that in the Church catalog?)
6. So by that reasoning, all Gentiles are “beautiful, pure, and righteous”?? Clear problem here…
8. So, as a pair of contrasts, Nephi just indiscriminately picked “black and white” to go along with and “bond and free” and “male and female” ? Are “bond and free” and “male and female” *also* completely symbolic?

Let me add something here that might be helpful to see and remember, from http://anthropology.si.edu/goddard/redskin.pdf:
“For example, both James Madison and Black Thunder, who used red and white as racial terms (see below), also used red (or bloody) and white to symbolize war and peace, clearly intending no linkage between the two idioms (Stagg et al. 2004: 175–177; Boilvin 1816).”

Ok, my research wasn’t quite “exhaustive”, but it did take a minute or two.

Here’s another thing: the mark follows many of the above examples, in that not only was it symbolic, it was *also* a physical color:
2 Nephi 5:21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
Try making sense of *that* verse when thinking “skin of blackness” is a metaphor!

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “It is likely that Nephites would not have had the modern American “preoccupation” with skin color, and so would not be burdened with our tendency to see references about skin to automatically imply race.”

grego: And here is a presentist interpretation about skin color and the Nephites, just like I warned about a few paragraphs ago.
Why would it be “likely”? Is there anything FAIR knows about the Nephites that allows that comment? Because I can’t see that in the Book of Mormon, and in fact, I find verses to the contrary (I show them below.) References, please, FAIR, to back up this statement?

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “Thus, concludes Campbell:

White-skinned Nephites and black-skinned Lamanites are metaphors for cultures, not for skin colour.”

grego: Nice conclusion; many have concluded many things from the Book of Mormon. While conclusions are nice, I really prefer evidence and proof. Which, unfortunately, are missing from the argument.

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “The church teaches that the descendants of the Lamanites inhabited the Americas when Columbus arrived. But Lamanites are not black-skinned; they are not even red-skinned.”

grego: First, is anyone sure that is Columbus?
Second, where are the descendants of the Lamanites in the Americas?
Third, I would like to know how one assumes that the Lamanites met by Columbus (is that what was inferred?) looked the same as the ones that were from close to 600BC.
Fourth, I would like to know if they were the same color as the Lamanites in 231 AD, and 400(+ -) AD; and that those from 400(+ -) AD had the same dark skin mark as those of 580(+ -) BC. Keep in mind the conversion of the Lamanites (Helaman 5+), the remaining of the people after the great destruction before the coming of Christ, the numerous Nephite dissenters and deniers among them and their intermixing, etc.
References, FAIR?

Next, I will plead a case of presentism and Americanism: “black” does not necessarily mean “black”, but means “dark”. “Blacks”—in America—usually doesn’t refer to people who are the color of pitch-dark black, or even black; most I know are a much lighter shade; even brown. It would have made, and would make, much more sense—for smart modern advanced Western Americans—to call them “Browns” instead, but… didn’t happen, eh? Is it possible something similar happened to the Lamanites, too? Does the Book of Mormon ever state after 3 Nephi, for example, that the Lamanites had “skins of blackness”?
As another example, Chinese say they have “black eyes”—when in fact, they have brown eyes.
See also Jacob 3:9, Alma 3:6.
And yes, many people in the Americas Indians were dark-skinned.

If Indians aren’t red-skinned, why did they call themselves “red-skinned” (http://anthropology.si.edu/goddard/redskin.pdf, p.3)? And, as you see in that reference, why did one use “Whites” and “Black”? Or, are you talking about other Indians that are just dark-skinned?:
“As an example Robert Vézina (pers.comm., 20 February 2005) cites Jean-Bernard Bossu (1768: 60), who quotes a Natchez elder as referring to ‘tous les hommes rouges,’ explaining that, ‘C’est ainsi que ces Sauvages s’appellent pour se distinguer des Européens qui sont blancs, & des Africains qui sont noirs.’ In the translation of Seymour Feiler (Bossu 1962: 39) this is ‘all the red men,’ with a note: ‘This is what the Indians call themselves to distinguish themselves from the Europeans who are white and the Africans who are black.'”

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “As the ‘skin of blackness’ is a metaphor, so too is the white skin of the Nephites.”

grego: Woah!! Where in the FAIR article was it ever shown that “‘skin of blackness’ is a metaphor”??
And where did that linked conclusion come from?

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “Perhaps 3 Nephi 2:15-16, in which the Lamanites have the curse taken from them, fulfills 2 Nephi 30:6. In these verses the Lamanite has become ‘white and delightsome’ not ‘pure and delightsome.'”

grego: Yes, no doubt Jesus prophesied a prophecy that a past occurrence already fulfilled… Get a clue, folks! ;)

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “I do not believe the Lord changed their physical skin to white in the twinkling of an eye. These Lamanites…became cultural Nephites.”

grego: Your belief has no bearing on this. We are looking at the text, and maybe even more, but we are not tapping into your belief, to find out what really happened.
I missed “twinkling of an eye” in my Book of Mormon—can FAIR provide a verse, please?
Yes, they likely did become cultural Nephites. And…?

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “Some things better explained by this model

There are also instances in which skin color does not play a role, when it should—if the skin color change is literal and noticeable. This should suggest that the literal skin model may be inadequate, since it makes nonsense of a few textual passages.

For example, Captain Moroni wanted to portray his men as being ‘Lamanites’.”

grego: This example was already explained away and shown to be wanting in a few different ways on the FAIR discussion board (mormonapologetics.org; search “Lamanite skin color”). I wonder why those same arguments are not mentioned and countered here for purposes of building credibility for the FAIR article? Is it very scholarly, or honest: to ignore known (and public!) credible counter-arguments that obliterate your point of view?

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “He searched among his troops for someone descended from Laman, and found someone. Moroni sent this man with a troop of Nephite soldiers, and he was able to deceive the Lamanites:”

grego: The writer would have you believe that “a troop of Nephite soldiers” means “white men”, while the text never says that. Not only that, one writer on the discussion board thread already noted that the Book of Mormon is unclear that the antecedent to “his” is Moroni; it could very well be Laman.

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “Now the Nephites were guarded in the city of Gid; therefore Moroni appointed Laman and caused that a small number of men should go with him. And when it was evening Laman went to the guards who were over the Nephites, and behold, they saw him coming and they hailed him; but he saith unto them: Fear not; behold, I am a Lamanite. Behold, we have escaped from the Nephites, and they sleep; and behold we have taken of their wine and brought with us. Now when the Lamanites heard these words they received him with joy…(Alma 55:7-9.)

If skin color is the issue, then a single Lamanite with a group of Nephites should be easy to spot. But, in this case, it is not. Why, then, the need for a Lamanite at all in Moroni’s plan?

A “native” Lamanite was probably needed because there were differences in language or pronunciation between cultural Nephites and Lamanites (compare between Ephraim and others’ ‘shibboleth, Jud. 12:6). Note that the Book of Mormon says that “when the Lamanites heard these words,” they relaxed and accepted the Lamanite decoy with his Nephite troops. What they could see had not changed, and surely if a dark-skinned Lamanite shows up with a white-skinned bunch of Nephites, they would be suspicious not matter what he says. But, if Nephites and Lamanites are indistinguishable on physical grounds if dressed properly, then their sudden reassurance when a native Lamanite speaks is understandable.

This fact was probably obvious to Mormon and Captain Moroni. The text does not spell it out for us (since it was obvious to the writers), but the clues are all there for the careful reader.

This passage is nonsensical if literal skin color is the issue. It makes perfect sense, however, if Nephites and Lamanites are often physically indistinguishable, but have some differences in language which are difficult to “fake” for a non-(cultural)-Lamanite.”

grego: So… why is it “nonsensical”, and where are all those “clues” for the “careful reader”? What a loaded sentence! How about this: “The text does often spell out Lamanite skin color for us (and it was obvious to the writers), and the clues are all there for the non-careful and the careful reader”.

I see many problems with this interpretation of events, and in fact, a literal skin color interpretation seems to make more sense.

What is happening here is that the article writer is ignoring clear cases of the text, in favor of one episode that, through contrived personal interpretation and reasoning, provides evidence to the contrary. Hmmm… Trying to figure out which one I’ll be persuaded more by…

So, let’s see if there is any other way to read this…
Laman says, “I’m a Lamanite”—the native language being the important thing, especially since the setting is not bright daylight anymore. When Laman gets there, and interacts with the Lamanites, they see that he *is* a Lamanite.

What about the others with Laman, then? Perhaps they are all dark-skinned Lamanites (which the reading allows just as much, if not more, than the proposed interpretation by the article writer).
But, there are still other options. Has no one at FAIR seen “7 Years in Tibet”? The others could very easily be painted in coal, mud, clay, berries, etc., and/or be wrapped up.
Or yet, they were rebel Nephites (like Amlicites, Amalickiahites), where at most a temporary mark on the forehead would do the trick.
Note that Laman never says, “*We* are Lamanites”. He says, “*I* am a Lamanite. Behold, *we* have escaped…” Why the change in sentence subject?

Besides, the main thing is, they have wine! Note also that while FAIR would have you believe the Lamanites relax after hearing “I am a Lamanite” (here is the quote: “Note that the Book of Mormon says that ‘when the Lamanites heard these words,’ they relaxed and accepted the Lamanite decoy with his Nephite troops.”) that is not necessarily true. Take a look:
Alma 55:8: And when it was evening Laman went to the guards who were over the Nephites, and behold, they saw him coming and they hailed him; but he saith unto them: Fear not; behold, I am a Lamanite. Behold, we have escaped from the Nephites, and they sleep; and behold we have taken of their wine and brought with us.
Alma 55:9 Now when the Lamanites heard these words they received him with joy; and they said unto him: Give us of your wine, that we may drink; we are glad that ye have thus taken wine with you for we are weary.

What words made the Lamanite guards “[relax] and [accept] the Lamanite decoy? Was it, “I am a Lamanite”? Or was it, perhaps, “[the Nephites sleep and we] have taken of their wine and brought with us”?
Verse 9 would have me believe it was the latter, *not* the former.

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “Is the lifting of the curse associated with a change in skin color?

The Lamanites are promised that if they return to Christ, that “the scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes:”

And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers.
And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.2 Nephi 30:5-6

At the time that this statement was made by Elder Kimball, the Book of Mormon did indeed say “white and delightsome.” This passage is often quoted relative to the lifting of the curse since the phrase “white and delightsome” was changed to “pure and delightsome” in the 1840 (and again in the 1981) editions of the Book of Mormon. The edit made by Joseph Smith in 1840 in which this phrase was changed to “pure and delightsome” had been omitted from subsequent editions, which were actually based upon the 1837 edition rather than the 1840 edition. …

It seems evident from the passage in 2 Nephi that the lifting of the curse of the Lamanites was the removal of the “scales of darkness” for their eyes.”

grego: They shall also be a “pure and delightsome” people. Why cut “scales’ apart from “pure and delightsome”, then choose just one? Is that because it fits in with what the article writer would want us to believe?

There is no Book of Mormon reference noted in this FAIR article that says the “scales of darkness” or anything else mentioned is the lifting of the mark or curse.
Any references to make this “evident”, would be appreciated.

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “It is sometimes indicated that Lamanites who had converted to the Gospel and thus had the curse lifted also had the mark removed. If the mark was more in the eyes of the Nephites than in a physical thing like actual skin color, its removal is even more easily understood.

And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites; And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites. And thus ended the thirteenth year. 3 Nephi 2:15-16”

grego: First of all, “sometimes indicated” is not true. The removal of the mark is recorded only once. It is not recorded when the Anti-Nephi-Lehites join, nor about their sons who fight with Helaman, nor in Helaman 5 when so many Lamanites are converted and more righteous, as a people, than the Nephites, nor anywhere else—only in 3 Nephi 2.

Whether something is easier to understand or not, doesn’t make it truer or not, right? Is someone limiting God’s ability to work a miracle?

“If the mark was more in the eyes of the Nephites than in a physical thing…” Are we to also understand that the mark of the Amlicites upon their foreheads was “more in the eyes of the Nephites than is a physical thing”? Once more, this metaphorical thinking brings many problems with it…

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “As with the invocation of the curse followed by the application of the mark, this passage indicates that the curse was revoked and the mark was removed when the Lamanites’ skin “became white like unto the Nephites.” The Book of Mormon makes no mention of any change in skin color as the result of the conversion of Helaman’s 2000 warriors, yet these Lamanites and their parents had committed themselves to the Lord, and were often more righteous than the Nephites were.

Thus, although a change in skin color is sometimes mentioned in conjunction with the lifting of the curse, it does not appear to always have been the case.”

grego: As mentioned above, it wasn’t the case, other than in this case.

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “And, as discussed above, it may well be that Nephite ideas about skin were more symbolic or rhetorical than literal/racial. This perspective harmonizes all the textual data, and explains some things (like the native Lamanite and his band of Nephite troops deceiving the Lamanites) that a literal view of the skin color mark does not.”

grego: Once more, this is given as a way to “[explain] some things”. I would like to ask, FAIR, *what* “things”, exactly, are explained by this way of reasoning?
Once more, there is only one example given—Laman, in Alma 55—not many. (And that’s a bad example…)

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “Chapter headings modified in the 2006 Doubleday edition of the Book of Mormon

This perspective is perhaps reinforced by some recent changes in the Book of Mormon’s modern chapter headings.

These headings are not part of the translated text and were never present in the 1830 edition. The most significant expansion of chapter headings occurred in the 1981 edition of all of the Standard Works. Changes made in the chapter headings of the 2006 Doubleday edition reflect the view of the curse being a separation from the presence of the Lord, rather than a “skin of blackness.”

Note the following two changes to the chapter headings between the 1981 and 2006 (Doubleday) editions (emphasis added):
Chapter 2 Nephi 5
1981 (Official LDS Church Edition) Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites are cursed, receive a skin of blackness, and become a scourge unto the Nephites.
2006 (Doubleday Edition) Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites are cut off from the presence of the Lord, are cursed, and become a scourge unto the Nephites.

Mormon 5
1981 (Official LDS Church Edition) The Lamanites shall be a dark, filthy, and loathsome people
2006 (Doubleday Edition) Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites will be scattered, and the Spirit will cease to strive with them”

grego: “Changes” might “reflect the view”, but the text already explains it.
I’m not sure how this whole section supports anything, really.

-=-=-=

FAIR Article: “Conclusion

Although the curse of the Lamanites is often associated directly with their skin color, it may be that this was intended in a far more symbolic sense than modern American members traditionally assumed.

The curse itself came upon them as a result of their rejection of the Gospel. It was possible to be subject to the curse, and to be given a mark, without it being associated with a change in skin color, as demonstrated in the case of the Amlicites. The curse is apparently a separation from the Lord. A close reading of the Book of Mormon text makes it untenable to consider that literal skin color was ever the “curse.” At most, the skin color was seen as a mark, and it may well have been that these labels were far more symbolic and cultural than they were literal.”

grego: A much better closing. Overall, though, the article seems disoriented, loose, and in need of much revision.
“Symbolic”? No, it’s actually real. “Black” translated as meaning pitch-dark black for the entire existence of the Lamanites? Ok, I can see problems with that—and it’s been shown.

-=-=-=
grego: The first part of my critique is done.

Here’s another question: How would intermarrying with natives (as Brant Garnder and many FAIR members believe happened) affect the skin and physical features, especially 1,000 years later? Would that affect episodes such as Laman’s?

Now, let’s look at a few verses that FAIR didn’t manage to put in this article…

***
2 Nephi 5:20 Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.

2 Nephi 5:21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

2 Nephi 5:22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

grego: Being cut off is the curse, and they were cursed, “because of their iniquity”. Then, it follows, “wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome”. If were to read this solely symbolically, as FAIR does, what do we make of that? I can’t make anything of that symbolically, because how could they be “righteous” (FAIR’s symbolic interpretation) after “their iniquity”? Were the Lamanites righteous before the separation and complete cursing? The” loathsome” part is due to the curse, yet we will see in other parts of the Book of Mormon that some of the Nephites connected the skin color to it.

***
Jacob 3:3 But, wo, wo, unto you that are not pure in heart, that are filthy this day before God; for except ye repent the land is cursed for your sakes; and the Lamanites, which are not filthy like unto you, nevertheless they are cursed with a sore cursing, shall scourge you even unto destruction.

grego:
Some of the Nephites are not “pure in heart” (righteous), but are “filthy” (symbolic of wicked); the curse is recalled; the Lamanites are not “filthy like unto you” (“filthy to you on the outside, but not filthy like you on the inside due to clearly choosing deep sin”), even though they are under the curse of being cut off from the Lord.

***

Jacob 3:5 Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you [due to fidelity];

Jacob 3:7 …and their unbelief and their hatred towards you is because of the iniquity of their fathers…

Jacob 3:8 O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.

Jacob 3:9 Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.

Jacob 3:10 … remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day.

grego: Jacob ties in outer filthiness of the Lamanites to the inner filthiness of the Nephites.
He also ties in the physical colors of the Nephite vs. Lamanite skins, with a symbolic color of their skin at the judgment day.
Neither construction is pure symbolism.

Lamanite iniquity, cursing, filthiness, and black (read “dark”) skin mark—all literal/ seen by the natural eye—are from their ancestors.
Nephite iniquity, cursing, and white skin that is symbolically black (read “light to the physical eye, but symbolically dark/ wicked”)—all seen by the prophetic eye—is from themselves.

Jacob was basically chastizing the Nephites for hypocrisy. They judged the Lamanites on outward appearances, but ignored that inwardly, they appeared worse.

***
Alma 3:6 And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.

grego: A verse that supports “black” to be read as “dark”, not literally pure black. Clearly, the dark skin is the mark of the curse.

***
Alma 3:7 And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women.

grego: After the cursing, the mark was put on everyone, not just the fighting men.

***
Alma 3:8 And this was done that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their destruction.

Alma 3:9 And it came to pass that whosoever did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites did bring the same curse upon his seed.

Alma 3:10 Therefore, whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites was called under that head, and there was a mark set upon him.

Alma 3:13 Now we will return again to the Amlicites, for they also had a mark set upon them; yea, they set the mark upon themselves, yea, even a mark of red upon their foreheads.

Alma 3:14 Thus the word of God is fulfilled, for these are the words which he said to Nephi: Behold, the Lamanites have I cursed, and I will set a mark on them that they and their seed may be separated from thee and thy seed, from this time henceforth and forever, except they repent of their wickedness and turn to me that I may have mercy upon them.

Alma 3:15 And again: I will set a mark upon him that mingleth his seed with thy brethren, that they may be cursed also.

Alma 3:16 And again: I will set a mark upon him that fighteth against thee and thy seed.

grego: Mingling with the Lamanites made one called a Lamanite, being cut off from the Lord, and having a mark set upon oneself. However, it seems that the marks are different for the original Lamanites and “additional” Lamanites.

***
3 Nephi 2:15 And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;

grego: The curse was removed, *and* the skin became white. This is the only instance. If the mark were only symbolic of the curse, why didn’t it happen with the Anti-Nephi-Lehites? Why didn’t it happen with other converted Lamanites, at other times?

Summary:
*Is “darkness” symbolic in the Book of Mormon? Usually.

*Is it possible that the Lamanite mark was symbolic? No.

*Was a literal dark skin the mark for all the Lamanites? No.

*Was light skin a mark for a Lamanite who had the curse removed? Rarely (only one recorded instance).

*In that one recorded instance, was there also a cultural and political joining of Lamanites to Nephites that had never seemed to happen to the same extent before? Yes, there was.

*Was a literal dark skin pigmentation the mark for the original Lamanites? Likely. To say the least, there was surely some physical, not symbolic, mark on the Lamanite skin.

*Could the original dark skin Lamanite mark have come from intermarriage? No, definitely not. There are many reasons:
1. The mark came upon the first generation, not just the future ones (Alma 3:7 And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women.).
2. Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael were already married (see: 1 Nephi 16:7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, took one of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also, my brethren took of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also Zoram took the eldest daughter of Ishmael to wife. 1 Nephi 18:9 And after we had been driven forth before the wind for the space of many days, behold, my brethren and the sons of Ishmael and also their wives began to make themselves merry, insomuch that they began to dance, and to sing, and to speak with much rudeness, yea, even that they did forget by what power they had been brought thither; yea, they were lifted up unto exceeding rudeness.).
3. Jacob preached that the Lamanites were monogamous and faithful.

*Could the skin color have come from some other physical source/ reason? Ah, good question…

These additional unmentioned verses sustain the conclusion that the mark was not metaphorical/ spiritual, but literal/ physical.

2009, August 11

grego’s Critique of FAIR’s Critique of Mr. Meldrum, Part 2

Filed under: Book of Mormon — grego @ 12:28 am
Tags: , ,

grego’s Critique of FAIR’s Critique of Mr. Meldrum, Part 2
by grego
(c) 2009

Well, there’s a whole mess being made, and I don’t really understand it. A man believes in a Book of Mormon geography, and FAIR is up in arms about it. I’m not even really sure what the problems are, but I think it would be wise for FAIR to step back and b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Following are a few excerpts, gleaned from different areas.

-=-=-=

From :
“To be clear, FAIR advocates no particular theory of Book of Mormon geography. Some of our members subscribe to one or the other, but refrain from imposing their opinions on Latter-day Saints as matters of testimony.”

grego: Hmmm… Ok, FAIR, on the boards and articles I have yet to hear of anyone who doesn’t go for the LGT—not that there might not be any. But it’s pretty well known to all that LGT theory rules at FAIR. And I’ve heard many, probably most, imposing their opinions about this topic on others (along with “Others in the land”), though to their credit, as far as I can remember, not as “matters of testimony”. How many articles/ papers/ books by FAIR support the LGT, compared to other theories?

-=-=-=

From http://www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/MisguidedF.html I read:
“It is apparent that Mr. Meldrum, rather than approach FARMS directly with his research, decided–after much prayer–to leave FARMS alone. It would be troubling enough that a researcher would choose to sequester himself from what has historically been an important center of LDS scholarship, but that is not the only troubling thing about Mr. Meldrum’s solution.”

grego: This is somewhat interesting. FAIR and FARMS have continually mentioned that they are loose organizations of individuals, and in essence, there is no real way to “approach… directly”. So why that comment, I don’t know.

I don’t see Meldrum sequestering himself, and Meldrum hasn’t said it that way. Especially if he felt that way after prayer, goodness.

I, however, do have many experiences with “[approaching] FARMS (and FAIR) with [my] research” in more than one way, and I can tell you that you might just as well sequester yourself for all the good that would do! Wait, that’s not completely true… One FARMS member (if it really was him) complained once about one of three critical critiques of his work. Wow.

I imagine if FARMS or FAIR have issues, they can “unsequester” themselves from other scholarship—such as what FAIR has done with these anti-Mr. Meldrum articles. (This does not imply that I agree with Mr. Meldrum.)

There is, of course, another approach: sequester the person themself from FAIR, FARMS, etc. Fitting right in, such is the approach that FAIR (whoops, it’s now www.mormonapologetics.org, not FAIR) took with me when they restricted my access to the apologetics discussion board—a long time after my last post. I’m still trying to view this as irony or hypocrisy…

-=-=-=

Continuing from the FAIR article:
Mr. Meldrum avoids scholarly dialogue by claiming that his ideas are approved by God. He claims that God has told him not to try to “convert FARMS.” Yet, this is exactly what we must do if we have a new idea–we must try to persuade other people, by the evidence, that it is plausible. His revelations, while appropriate for personal evidence, should not be used as evidence for anyone else.

Dr. Nibley points out that this is a key part of examining secular ideas:
A professor is not one who knows, but one who professes to know, and [thus] is constantly in the position of inviting challenge.
He professes publicly where everyone is invited to come and challenge, [and] at any time he must be willing and able to defend it openly against all comers… A scholar [cannot] hide behind in safe immunity from any challenge.40

Mr. Meldrum should, therefore, present his ideas in a forum in which other knowledgeable people can examine them. They could help him by pointing out areas in which his argument is weak.

grego: Yeah, I know exactly how well that works out in reality…

How many scholars “present their ideas in a forum”? How often have any of the FAIR or FARMS scholars done that? I might be missing something, but I haven’t seen many do that on the few boards I’ve seen. By the time they get on boards to discuss something, the time for “presenting” is over…

Anyway, after reading those paragraphs by FAIR, I am very happy to have this blog where I am free to present ideas, point out areas in others’ arguments that I feel are weak, allow others the opportunity to respond (interesting… I unannouncedly get kicked off the forum, yet no one from FAIR has tried to help me by “pointing out areas in which [my] argument is weak”—what’s up with that, is this just lip-service or more?), and not have to worry about whether I’ll get kicked off/ restricted or not because I touched sacred cows (be they topics or people) politically-incorrectly.

Ok, I had said I wasn’t sure if it’s irony or hypocrisy; I think it’s clearer now…
It’s even greater when one remembers the special protective treatment given to certain personages (I’d say scholars, but after Nibley’s comments, “scholars” doesn’t seem to fit) on the discussion board (even when it was a part of FAIR or otherwise).

-=-=-=

Continuing:
Does this mean that one must be an expert, “a scholar,” or have university degrees to “prove all things and hold fast to that which is good?” Of course not. They can be helpful as they help one become knowledgeable with the body of work in a certain discipline and help one gain a certain amount of rigor in one’s research, but anyone with sufficient interest, ability, humility, and grounding is not only able but encouraged to contribute. As Dr. Nibley noted, “What on earth have a man’s name, degree, academic position, and, of all things, opinions, to do with whether a thing is true or not?”41 All that matters is the evidence.

grego: This seems like a really nice place to ask: FAIR, why the heck do you repeatedly use “Mr.” before Meldrum, instead of “Rodney” (his given name) or “Bro.” or just “Meldrum”? Obviously it’s not for formality or for respect; is it to remind people that he is not a “Dr.”? You know, as in this sentence: “However, in an August 2007 conversation with Dr. (!) Louis Midgley Mr. (!) Meldrum disclosed that”…? What’s up?

-=-=-=

From http://www.fairlds.org/DNA_Evidence_for_Book_of_Mormon_Geography/DEBMG03F.html:
Meldrum first makes much of the fact that he is being fair and balanced by presenting both sides of the story. This is like the magician who first assures us that “there’s nothing up my sleeve”:
But there is some confusion because there have been several things attributed to Joseph Smith that he believed that it [the Book of Mormon geography] was in Central America.
Now, I bring this up because I’ve had several people say, “Well, Brother Meldrum, you’re only showing one side of the story and that’s not good research.” I had already done the research, so I already knew the answer, but I left it out originally because it’s a little on the negative side and so forth. But people do have a lot of questions about this and so I decided to go ahead and put it back in.51
This portion of the presentation seems to downplay the importance of what can be seen as disconfirming evidence—he’s only added it to his presentation because people have asked about it, and even implies that bringing it up might be slightly unworthy: “it’s a little on the negative side.” He has thus set the stage and prepared his audience—faithful Latter-day Saints who do not like contention or negativity—to brush the matter off quickly. And, he’s conditioned us to think that this is “no big deal”—he’s only bringing it up because of nitpickers.

grego: Compare that with the introductions FAIR gives as to why they are responding to Meldrum, and you have a very good match-up. Irony, or hypocrisy?

-=-=-=

From Rodney’s blog:
As you know, Rod, as a courtesy to you as a LDS FAIR agreed to enter into a contract with you. The contract provided that FAIR would lock its blog on your material, provide you with its work to date, and withhold publication until September–a date selected at your request. You’re part of the contract was to read the FAIR material, and before FAIR’s publication date you would tell FAIR what you believed FAIR had wrong, and why. FAIR would review that, and make any appropriate changes.

grego: Well, dang! He finally found a way to make FAIR respond, I guess. Kudos! I’ve been trying that for years, with no success… (I guess I just needed to start selling $16 DVD’s that cut into FAIR’s profits or something?)

There’s much more, but it’s pretty much the same: a bunch of emotional responses from FAIR usually lacking in substance; and some pretty grounded replies. Without touching the topic much, Rodney is surely ahead in my book. I’m still not sure exactly what the strong arguments against him are, though maybe sometime I’ll find out. It seems, though, that whatever they throw at him, gets thrown back better, including some of the premises and principles in the arguments. Ok, I’ll put it more clearly: the more I read the exchange, the more Meldrum is mopping the floor with FAIR and especially Robert White. NOT what I had expected… at least from the whole group. FAIR et. al.: really, step back, take a break, and b-r-e-a-t-h-e. It seems like you’re trying to tie your shoelaces and run at the same time, and the result is a lot of loose bows, knots, and falling over. And it’s unfortunate, because if only the strong arguments were paid attention to, it would be clear that Meldrum has some very large problems in his theory.

I suggest that if FAIR wants to win, they cut their resopnses down to about 1/3 of what they are now, with the strongest points first, and cut out much of the talk about Meldrum himself.

Still, in conclusion, I don’t know why so many problems with the LGT (such as the narrow neck of land, journey of 1.5 days) are glossed over/ forgotten/ gaggingly explained, yet a problem or two in another theory is blown up into proof of its impossibleness. FAIR? Anyone?

P.S. Hoping to learn more, I googled the term/ phrase “naked lady gambit”, but it can be found only twice—both times, at FAIR. Duplicates, at that.

2009, August 10

“LDS Apologetics FAIR Says: ‘Absolutely Forbidden by Scripture’–Which Scripture?” by grego

Filed under: Uncategorized — grego @ 11:59 pm
Tags: , , , ,

“LDS Apologetics FAIR Says: ‘Absolutely Forbidden by Scripture’—Which Scripture?”
by grego
(c) 2009

Reading on a FAIR apologetics page, I noticed this (from http://www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/MisguidedF.html):

“Mr. Meldrum insists that the blessing affirms ‘the validity [of] the…work.’ Most Latter-day Saints know that the recitation of the contents of a blessing to others with the intention of convincing them that one’s course is in harmony with the powers of heaven is absolutely forbidden by scripture.”

Ok, does anyone have a scripture reference(s) that “absolutely [forbids]” this?

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