Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2011, March 3

“Book of Mormon: Do the Cardinal Point Directions (North-South-East-West) References in the Book of Mormon Follow a Pattern?” by grego

“Book of Mormon: Do the Cardinal Point Directions (North-South-East-West) References in the Book of Mormon Follow a Pattern?”

grego
(c)2010

So, what are the references to multiple cardinal points/ directions in the Book of Mormon, and is there any pattern in their mention?
(I have numbered the following to match up the summaries at the end.)

1. 2 Nephi 29:11 For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.

2. Mosiah 27:6 And there began to be much peace again in the land; and the people began to be very numerous, and began to scatter abroad upon the face of the earth, yea, on the north and on the south, on the east and on the west, building large cities and villages in all quarters of the land.

3. Alma 22:27 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 west—and thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided.

4. Alma 22:29 And also there were many Lamanites on the east by the seashore, whither the Nephites had driven them. And thus the Nephites were nearly surrounded by the Lamanites; nevertheless the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon, from the east to the west, round about on the wilderness side; on the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful.

5. Alma 22:32 And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward.

6. Alma 22:33 And it came to pass that the Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea, and thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward.

7. Alma 43:53 Therefore when Zerahemnah saw the men of Lehi on the east of the river Sidon, and the armies of Moroni on the west of the river Sidon, that they were encircled about by the Nephites, they were struck with terror.

8. Alma 46:17 And it came to pass that when he had poured out his soul to God, he named all the land which was south of the land Desolation, yea, and in fine, all the land, both on the north and on the south—A chosen land, and the land of liberty.

9. Alma 50:8 And the land of Nephi did run in a straight course from the east sea to the west.

10. Alma 50:11 And thus he cut off all the strongholds of the Lamanites in the east wilderness, yea, and also on the west, fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites, between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi, from the west sea, running by the head of the river Sidon—the Nephites possessing all the land northward, yea, even all the land which was northward of the land Bountiful, according to their pleasure.

11. Alma 50:34 And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east.

12. Helaman 1:31 And now, behold, the Lamanites could not retreat either way, neither on the north, nor on the south, nor on the east, nor on the west, for they were surrounded on every hand by the Nephites.

13. Helaman 3:8 And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east.

14. Helaman 4:7 And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east; it being a day’s journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country.

15. Helaman 6:9 And it came to pass that they became exceedingly rich, both the Lamanites and the Nephites; and they did have an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north.

16. Helaman 6:10 Now the land south was called Lehi, and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south.

17. Helaman 6:12 They did raise grain in abundance, both in the north and in the south; and they did flourish exceedingly, both in the north and in the south. And they did multiply and wax exceedingly strong in the land. And they did raise many flocks and herds, yea, many fatlings.

18. 3 Nephi 1:17 And they began to know that the Son of God must shortly appear; yea, in fine, all the people upon the face of the whole earth from the west to the east, both in the land north and in the land south, were so exceedingly astonished that they fell to the earth.

19. 3 Nephi 4:1 And it came to pass that in the latter end of the eighteenth year those armies of robbers had prepared for battle, and began to come down and to sally forth from the hills, and out of the mountains, and the wilderness, and their strongholds, and their secret places, and began to take possession of the lands, both which were in the land south and which were in the land north, and began to take possession of all the lands which had been deserted by the Nephites, and the cities which had been left desolate.

20. 3 Nephi 6:2 And it came to pass that they had not eaten up all their provisions; therefore they did take with them all that they had not devoured, of all their grain of every kind, and their gold, and their silver, and all their precious things, and they did return to their own lands and their possessions, both on the north and on the south, both on the land northward and on the land southward.

21. 3 Nephi 20:13 And then shall the remnants, which shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, be gathered in from the east and from the west, and from the south and from the north; and they shall be brought to the knowledge of the Lord their God, who hath redeemed them.

Here’s a summary of the directions:
1. the east… west… north… south
2. on the north… south… east… west.
3. on the east… west… from the sea east… sea west (… north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west.)
4. (on the east by the seashore… all the northern parts…) from the east… west (…; … on the north…)
5. from the east to the west sea; … between the land northward… southward.
6. from the east unto… west sea; (… on the south… no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward.)
(7. on the east of the river Sidon, and the armies of Moroni on the west…)
8. all the land which was south… both on the north and on the south…
9. from the east sea to the west.
10. the east wilderness… west… from the west sea
11. on the west… east.
12. neither on the north… south… east… west
13. (from the land southward to the land northward)… (from the sea south to the sea north), from the sea west to the sea east.
14. from the west sea… east
15. both in the land south… land north.
16. the land south… the land north; …land north… land south
17. both in the north… south; both in the north… south
18. from the west… east, both in the land north… south
19. both which were in the land south… land north
20. both on the north… south, both on the land northward… southward
21. from the east and from the west, and from the south and from the north

Well, it looks like the opposite directions are usually grouped (east/ west; north/ south). East/ west both come first in examples, and north/ south both come first in examples. This is not clearly “north/ south/ east/ west”.

-=
In contrast, take a look at the cardinal points in the Doctrine and Covenants:

1. Doctrine and Covenants 42:63 And behold, it shall come to pass that my servants shall be sent forth to the east and to the west, to the north and to the south.

2. Doctrine and Covenants 44:1 Behold, thus saith the Lord unto you my servants, it is expedient in me that the elders of my church should be called together, from the east and from the west, and from the north and from the south, by letter or some other way.

3. Doctrine and Covenants 75:26 And let all such as can obtain places for their families, and support of the church for them, not fail to go into the world, whether to the east or to the west, or to the north, or to the south.

4. Doctrine and Covenants 80:3 Wherefore, go ye and preach my gospel, whether to the north or to the south, to the east or to the west, it mattereth not, for ye cannot go amiss.

5. Doctrine and Covenants 125:4 And let all those who come from the east, and the west, and the north, and the south, that have desires to dwell therein, take up their inheritance in the same, as well as in the city of Nashville, or in the city of Nauvoo, and in all the stakes which I have appointed, saith the Lord.

(6. Doctrine and Covenants 43:22 Yea, and again, when the lightnings shall streak forth from the east unto the west, and shall utter forth their voices unto all that live, and make the ears of all tingle that hear, saying these words—Repent ye, for the great day of the Lord is come?)

1. to the east… west… north… south
2. from the east… west… north… south
3. to the east… west… north… south
4. north or to the south… east… west
5. from the east…west… north… south
(6. east unto the west)

Most are “east/ west/ north/ south”.

-=
Let’s take a look at the New Testament:

1. Matthew 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

(2. Matthew 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.)

3. Luke 13:29 And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.

4. Revelation 21:13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

1. from the east and west
(2. east… unto the west)
3. from the east… west… north… south
4. On the east… north… south… west.

Ok, east/ west, north/ south, and for variety (?!), east/ north/ south/ west.

-=
Was there an established way of saying the directions it in the 1820’s? Whatever it might have been (if so), the Book of Mormon doesn’t follow it all the time, nor does it match the Doctrine and Covenants, nor the New Testament.

2009, March 4

Book of Mormon: Ammon’s Cataplexy

Well, I just found out, to the best of my research, what Ammon in the Book of Mormon experienced twice: cataplexy. Simply, it’s where your emotions overcome your body, making the muscles relax. (I wonder if there’s another form not mentioned in the literature I’ve read, because I know two children who, with one pinch, suffer immediate total collapse/ are on the floor, and a few others that are close but not that bad. In other words, it seems the cause is not just emotional/ psychological.) By the way, if you know something better, sound off on the comments.

Here it is in the Book of Mormon:
Alma 19:14 Now Ammon seeing the Spirit of the Lord poured out according to his prayers upon the Lamanites, his brethren, who had been the cause of so much mourning among the Nephites, or among all the people of God because of their iniquities and their traditions, he fell upon his knees, and began to pour out his soul in prayer and thanksgiving to God for what he had done for his brethren; and he was also overpowered with joy; and thus they all three had sunk to the earth.

Alma 27:17 Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth.
Alma 27:18 Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.
Alma 27:19 Now the joy of Alma in meeting his brethren was truly great, and also the joy of Aaron, of Omner, and Himni; but behold their joy was not that to exceed their strength.

Is it possible that Joseph Smith had cataplexy, and that this condition is how he had the First Vision? (For example, one ex-Mormon critic I know believed that the First Vision came by way of Joseph Smith suffering narcoleptic attack, then having a hypnagogic hallucination/ sleep paralysis, then having an epileptic seizure including a drawn-out participatory visual and auditory hallucination; and, in fact, his other visions were similar. In his own words: “Couldn’t a person with an unusual brain learn to induce such a state more or less at will? Unsual and surprising isn’t the same thing as impossible and why shouldn’t we give a naturalistic account a chance for something like this?” I guess he could also use his powerful mind control brainwaves to induce the same conditions in others that shared his visions and experiences, along with their own… Ok…)

Nope. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, there is nothing about Joseph Smith having any of the other accompanying principal signs or symptoms. Besides, “hynagogic hallucinations” are never positive, “sleep paralysis” doesn’t allow one to move and speak as Joseph did, and for Joseph–a person of a jovial nature–to have never had a previous cataplectic attack, nor one afterwards, seems to be extremely unnatural.

From @ikipedia:
“Cataplexy is a medical condition which often affects people who have narcolepsy, a disorder whose principal signs are EDS (Excessive Daytime Sleepiness), sleep attacks, sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations[1] and disturbed night-time sleep.”

From Scholarpedia:
“Emotions that may trigger attacks include laughter, fear, anger, frustration, annoyance, nervousness, embarrassment, and sadness. Positive emotions, specifically laughter, are most predictive of triggering a cataplectic event. Data from the Stanford University Sleep Disorders Clinic of 200 patients with cataplexy showed that 100 percent of these patients reported laughter as the most common trigger, followed by a feeling of amusement, or surprise with happiness and joy [2]. A study by Anic-Labat et al reported that emotions arising from “hearing or telling a joke,” “laughing,” or “when angry,” were most predictive of the loss of muscle function in clear-cut cataplexy [3].”

Note that the experiences of cataplexy in the Book of Mormon are not normal in that the person experiencing them doesn’t have the disorder, just a one- or two-time experience. There is also another difference with usual cataplexy: during at least one episode, Ammon lost consciousness. Compare that to this typical definition of cataplexy: “a medical condition in which strong emotion or laughter causes a person to suffer sudden physical collapse though remaining conscious.”

So when was cataplexy first reported, and how aware of it would Joseph Smith have been? (Or are fainting spells close enough that they count?)

From http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2564780:
“To publish the first English translations, with commentary, of the original reports describing narcolepsy and cataplexy by Westphal in German (1877) and by Gélineau in French (1880).”
“Results: Both Westphal and Gélineau correctly identified and described the new clinical entities of cataplexy and narcolepsy, with recurrent, self-limited sleep attacks and/or cataplectic attacks affecting 2 otherwise healthy people. Narcolepsy was named by Gélineau (and cataplexy was named by Henneberg in 1916)…”

So, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon predate medical literature by many years. It is possible, of course, that Joseph Smith had known or heard of someone with cataplexy or having a cataplectic attack.

Ammon is not the only one; Lamoni, his wife, and his father all experience it or something similar.

I know from personal experience similar to that of Ammon’s that his experience as written in the Book of Mormon is absolutely possible. (Hey, I doubt I was as righteous or faithful as him, and it wasn’t 14 years separation for me.)


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2008, December 25

“Joseph Smith on the Sun (from the Book of Abraham)” by grego

“Joseph Smith on the Sun (from the Book of Abraham)”
by grego

From the description of Facsimile 2 (found at http://scriptures.lds.org/en/abr/fac_2 )
“Fig. 5. Is called in Egyptian Enish-go-on-dosh; this is one of the governing planets also, and is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in other words, the governing power, which governs fifteen other fixed planets or stars, as also Floeese or the Moon, the Earth and the Sun in their annual revolutions. This planet receives its power through the medium of Kli-flos-is-es, or Hah-ko-kau-beam, the stars represented by numbers 22 and 23, receiving light from the revolutions of Kolob.”

I have heard many people ridicule this as just absolute nonsense and stupidity. “Everyone knows the sun is self-powered, and the earth has no power at all, and no relationship with another celestial body–other than gravity, which is an external force.” Of course, that might not be the truth, but that is what is taught in basic science education… Then, I was reading a little, and found just a few interesting quotes from a few books about science (and mythology). There is much more I’m not putting in here, but I have listed sources for those interested in finding out more. Here are some exerpts.

From “The Healing Sun Code” by William Henry (some very interesting and/or cooky stuff much of the time, in my opinion, but this is scientific reporting here):
“In 1932, Karl Jansky, a Bell Telephone Laboratories engineer, was investigating sources of interference to recently opened trans-Atlantic short wave radiotelephone circuits… Noise always increased when Jansky pointed his rod at the stars. By using a star map, he discovered that the waves came from the center of our Milky Way Galaxy at 26 degrees of Sagittarius.
What lurks at the center of our galaxy that produced the hiss that caught Jansky’s ear? From the vantage point of some 23 thousand light years away it is difficult to determine. A cloud of dust obscures the Core, making it invisible to the human eye and even to optical telescopes. But not to Jansky’s radio telescope.
During the early 1960’s astronomers began to realize that the massive object that forms the core of our Milky Way Galaxy periodically becomes active.3 The cores of all spiral galaxies cycle through a similar phase. During its active period, our galactic core is a cauldron of chaos. It spews out fierce quasar-like barrages of cosmic rays, with a total energy output equal to hundreds of thousands of supernova explosions.4 In 1965 A.A. Penzias and R.W. Wilson were conducting radio astronomy experiments with the ultrasensitive horn antenna at Crawford Hill, New Jersey but were frustrated by a noise in its receiving system, a background noise that remained constant no matter which direction they scanned. This made no sense and they suspected that it came from bird droppings on the antenna, but after a careful cleaning the noise remained. They then realized that the noise corresponded exactly with the “background radiation” posited by cosmologists who favored the Big Bang theory of creation. Penzias and Wilson had discovered the “afterglow” of the cosmic Big Bang. They had heard the Echo of Creation, and were awarded a Nobel Prize for their discovery.
Today radio astronomers monitor the activity of the Galactic Core on a daily basis. They also study explosions from the cores of neighboring galaxies. Galactic Core outbursts are the most energetic phenomenon taking place in the universe.8
The active, quasar-like core of spiral galaxy PG 0052+251, for example, is seen to radiate 7 times as much energy as comes from all of the galaxy’s stars. Most of this is emitted in the form of high energy cosmic ray electrons accompanied by electromagnetic radiation ranging from radio wave frequencies on up to X ray and gamma ray frequencies.
When Karl Jansky discovered that the Galactic Core ‘hissed’ he was affirming a belief long held by ancient mystics and shamans that our galaxy was an egg surrounded by a serpent. This egg has a heart, a Central Sun that beats and sends divine vibrations that spread through the galaxy. In other words it hisses. In a league of their own apart from the X-ray and gamma ray radiations, these cosmic vibrations were considered to be a tremendous source of vital spiritual energy that could heal the body and soul and bring immortality. The Central Sun or Spiritual Sun, said these medicine people, is, in fact, the Healing Sun.”

Then, this, from David Wilcock’s “The Divine Cosmos” ( http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~sai/torscons.htm):
“9.1  EVERY ATOM IS A TORSION GENERATOR
Kozyrev’s work and others have shown us that all matter harnesses torsion waves to sustain its existence… Again, the key is that these geometric forms are being created by vibration. In order for this vibration to occur, an atom must be constantly absorbing and radiating aetheric energy at the same time… 
This is another valuable piece of data, as it shows us that the center of the galaxy is actually our primary source of instreaming torsion wave energy. In this case, the torsion waves appear to be propagating in tandem with the X-ray wavelengths of the electromagnetic energy spectrum. Even though the activity of the Sun can increase or decrease the strength of torsion waves coming into the Earth, without the input from the Galactic Center we will have much less energy available to us.

 9.8.8  ENERGY STREAM BETWEEN SUN AND ORION’S BELT
 Parr found that this sudden increase of energy leading to pinch-off would occur most reliably every year on Dec. 13-16, and his measurements were taken over a 13-year period. Eventually, Parr discovered that at this time, the Earth’s orbital path was intersecting an imaginary line that could be drawn between the Sun and the belt stars of Orion. This led Parr to conclude that an active energy conduit of some sort exists between the Sun and the stars of Orion’s belt. This also falls in line with our expectations related to torsion fields, as there will be streams of aetheric energy connecting all the stars together and flowing between them. The closer we are to a star, the stronger the stream will be, and in the case of Orion’s belt we have three central stars in close proximity with four other close stars surrounding them in a giant “X” shape. Thus, the shape of the stars in the Orion constellation forms a passive torsion generator in its own right.”

Seems like he’s there again, that ol’ Joseph Smith, getting there earlier than he should have! Is there more, from any others, that give credence to what Joseph Smith wrote?


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2008, November 24

“Book of Mormon: Alma Uses NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Such as AVK (Audio-Visual-Kinesthetic) to Talk to His Sons” by grego

Book of Mormon: Alma Uses NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Such as AVK (Audio-Visual-Kinesthetic) to Talk to His Sons

grego
(c) 2008

I wrote a little about this before, but I got requests to flesh it out, so I have done so. I hardly claim to be a pro, but the more I got into it Alma’s discussions and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), the more I discovered–there really is a lot. In fact, there was so much that grew, both in method and in learning, that I have kept waiting to put this up, and it’s still far from done. But here’s where I am now; though, it’s hardly a finished topic.

— —
In another post, I wrote the following (but I’ve added short comments in parentheses after):

“In Alma’s counsel to Helaman, it is interesting to note that Alma touches on a few things that might let us understand a little about Helaman and his personality; in addition, his letter tells us a little more about him…

I understand that:
1. Helaman must hear things over and over for them to take effect.
(Notice how many times the similar thing or similar things are repeated.)

2. He is “lazy”/ “asleep” in the gospel (and likely other areas of life).
(Alma is pretty forceful and direct with him, and the topics are very central and important, but it seems not to him. Note the topics of scriptures, reading, praying–it seems he has problems with the basics.)

3. Helaman doesn’t really believe in miracles.
(From the counsel about the plates, the counsel about God fulfilling his word, the list of miracles Helaman is aware of.)

4. He doesn’t really have a relationship with God.
(Lack of trust, lack of reading, lack of counseling, lack of faith.)

5. Helaman has a hard time either keeping the commandments or believing that one will prosper by keeping the commandments (maybe linked to his laziness or lack of faith in miracles).
(Specific counsel in these matters.)

6. He doesn’t take his commitments seriously.
(Why does a church leader need to continually hear “keep the commandments” and counsel on basic gospel living?)

7. He has a hard time seeing how anything he does really matters or makes a real difference in the lives of others.

8. Helaman was likely scared for himself and the sons of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies.
(His strong unwillingness to enter into battle.)

9. He isn’t very diligent in listening to his father.
(His father doesn’t really trust him.)

— —

And earlier, this:

“Alma has three sons: Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton. They are different…they all have different situations and need different counsel. He speaks to them directly. He wants to make sure his message gets across to them, so he personalizes the message and communicates it according to their communication style.

You’ve heard of NLP (neuro-lingustic programming)? Or… “AVK” learning styles? Auditory, visual, kinesthetic (feeling)?

Helaman is a visual learner. Alma speaks of records, images, directions, stories. He also learns by “repetition”, and is somewhat “low-key” person. He needs to hear something a few times for it to mean something to him (count how many times “keep the commandments” is in his counsel…).

Shiblon is a kinesthetic learner, and a “high-intensity” person. He needs to hear it hard and fast, strong and powerful. Once is enough, though. Alma speaks of bodily feelings. (See how many you can pick out… ;) )

Corianton is an auditory learner. He is a “hesitator”. Alma speaks of things auditory: words, sounds, hearing, speaking, saying, etc. (Note how many times Alma says, “I say…” to Corianton and compare it to the others.)…

(There’s more. Look for the two motivation types–does Alma persuade his sons to move away from something, or to go towards something…?”

-=-=-=

Ok now, here’s some of the “more” part. I’m just going to present all this in “notes” form, and allow readers to see things. There is no particular order, and I won’t necessarily draw conclusions from every part. Note that these chapters are not about covert persuasion or propaganda; they are about NLP, mainly meta-programs/ submodalities/ filters (of which AVK is a part). This is also incomplete because it is a written record and not spoken; this disallows us the possibility of considering many parts of NLP.

Once more, these few chapters alone should make every person consider (or reconsider) Book of Mormon complexity, richness, and deepness. Each conversation is unique on multiple facets; just planning these few chapters would have taken considerable time, even for an intelligent guy, to ensure consistency. Those who maintain that Joseph Smith “invented” the Book of Mormon must realize that if so, he was over 140 years before Grinder and Bandler even started NLP. Not only that, Alma uses these techniques in very ethical/ moral ways to teach and persuade his children to obey the commandments and do good. In these few chapters, Alma’s communication is so unique that Joseph Smith, once more, had to have been not just an excellent communicator, but a true genius. But was this greatness in communication and speaking found in Joseph Smith—outside of the Book of Mormon—during the same time period? The Joseph Smith papers should be very helpful here, as all will be able to see.

NOTE: If anyone can find any other source Joseph Smith could have copied, used, or studied in this particular way, or even any example of unique NLP communication—used by one character in different conversations in a “fiction” book by any author (especially a literary genius)—please, let me know!!

Alma’s counsel to his sons looks like this (all references are in the book of Alma, so just chapter and verse are given):

Helaman:
Length of speech (total lines, including partials, in columned book): 543
Tempo: slow and drawn out, repetitive
“Follow my example”: 3 times (37:1, 2 x2)
“I command you”: 4 times (37:1, 2, 20, 27)
“Keep the commandments”: 5 times (37:15 (warn not to transgress), 16 x2, 20, 35)
“Keep the commandments and prosper”: 3 times (36:1, 30, 37:13)
Number of questions asked: 2 times
Way questions are used: to summarize and nail Alma’s conclusion
How much Alma relates the content to Helaman’s personal experiences and testimony: 0 times
Main topics: “mysteries” of God, “wisdom” of God: 17 times (37:2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 21, 35, 38, 39, 40, 41)
Alma needs to paint the big picture, in great detail, for Helaman; philosophical/ intellectual in many aspects
Learning style: visual. Alma speaks of records, images, directions, stories.
Other: Helaman also learns by “repetition”—he needs to hear something over and over, and is somewhat a “low-key” person. Fascinated with thinking, he is a very non-action person. He is, however, a believer.

-=-=-=

Shiblon:
Length of speech (total lines, including partials, in columned book): 102
Tempo: fast and hard, one-time
“Follow my example”: 0 times
“I command you”: 0 times
“Keep the commandments”: 0 times Instead, Alma “offers suggestions”, basically: 12 times (1. “I hope that”: 38:2 2. “I trust that”: 38:2 3. “I would that”: 38:6, 10 x2 4. “See that”: 38:11 x2, 12 x2 5. “Balance”: 38:11, 12 6. “May the Lord”: 38:15)
“Keep the commandments and prosper”: 1 time (38:1)
Number of questions: 0
How much Alma relates the content to Shiblon’s personal experiences and testimony: the majority of the time: 38:2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 13, 14; then, Alma’s experience in 38:6, 7, 8, 9
Main topics: continue your course, “do”: 38:2.
Learning style: kinesthetic–it’s mainly about bodily feelings and action.
Other: Shiblon is a “high-intensity” person. He hears it hard and fast, strong and powerful; once is enough; very little is repeated in any form. Yet, Alma is very suggestful, no confrontation, doesn’t discuss Shiblon’s current weaknesses; he feels no need to prove anything or convince Shiblon of anything; doesn’t need to come out and clearly say things; no need to paint the “big picture” or detail it.

-=-=-=

Corianton:
Length of speech (total lines, including partials, in columned book): 641
Tempo: normal
“Follow my example”: 0 times (But, in 39:1, Shiblon’s example)
“I command you”: 3 times (39:10, 12 x2)
“Keep the commandments”: 0 times (Alma speaks of not following his brother’s good example in keeping the commandments at the very start; after that, of some of his sins; obeying Alma first, then God; etc.—everything *but* “keep the commandments”)
“Keep the commandments and prosper”: 0 times
Number of questions: 14 (39:1 x2, 5, 17, 18, 19; 40:7; 41:12; 42:17 x3, 19, 21, 25)
Way questions are used: to initiate and support a conversational topic.
How much Alma relates the content to Corianton’s personal experiences and testimony: Alma relates the majority of the topics to Corianton’s worries and problems, but most of the content is theological and from the outside.
Main topics: doctrinal, that have to do with Corianton’s sins (the majority).
Learning style: auditory. Alma speaks of words, sounds, hearing, speaking, saying, etc.
“I say…”: 12-15 times (39:1, 15, 17; 40:1, 2×2, 18, (19 x2), (20), 21 x2; 41:1, 2; 42:25)
Other: Corianton is a “hesitator”.
Topics are more about “doing”, not “being”.

-=-=-=

Other things to think about:
*Alma uses Shiblon, not Helaman, as the example that Corianton should follow (39:1, 2).
*Alma gives the plates to Helaman only after Nephihah refuses to accept them (Alma 50:38).
*Even though the stripling warriors testify they are protected, Helaman refuses to lead them into battle until they convince him that it really would be better to fight (57:39, 40, 43-49); earlier, Helaman feels that without extra help from the Lord, they would have perished, notwithstanding the promise (56:19).
UPDATE:
*When talking about the missionaries to the Zoramites, we read:
Alma 31:6 Therefore [Alma] took Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner; and Himni he did leave in the church in Zarahemla; but the former three he took with him, and also Amulek and Zeezrom, who were at Melek; and he also took two of his sons.
Alma 31:7 Now the eldest of his sons he took not with him, and his name was Helaman; but the names of those whom he took with him were Shiblon and Corianton; and these are the names of those who went with him among the Zoramites, to preach unto them the word.
Notice how Himni is “left in the church”, but Helaman is just left—while his brothers go to preach.


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2008, November 10

Will the REAL Christian(TM) Jesus Please Stand Up?

Will the REAL Christian(TM) Jesus Please Stand Up?
by grego

Do Mormons believe in the real God, the real Jesus? “No, they don’t!” say many Christians(TM). “The real Christian(TM) Jesus is not the Mormon Jesus!” What do I say?

I have one question first, that is *necessary* to answer before being able to answer that question: WHICH Christian Jesus is the *real* Jesus? The one that taught that baptism was necessary for salvation, or the one that taught that baptism was not necessary for salvation? The one that taught predestination and election, or the one that taught free will? The one that taught resurrection with a physical body, or the done that didn’t? The one that taught that he and his Father were one, or the one that taught they weren’t? The one who left all his words in the Bible to make it complete, or the one who spoke so many good words and did so many good works that they weren’t all written down? The one who can still communicate with man, or the one who has been silenced? The one whose work is done, or the one who still hasn’t finished his work?

Christians might better understand this question relating it to Jesus asking the Sadducees and the Pharisees which God they belived in–the one that taught the resurrection, or the one that didn’t? The one that believed the traditions of the elders, or the one that rejected them and relied on the original law of Moses? Which way to perform the temple ordinances? The one that taught that there were spirit beings, or that the spirit died with the body? The God that gave rewards and punishments in the next life, or the God that didn’t provide a next life? Or were both the Sadducees and the Pharisees, um, maybe… both not quite right on all the points, and that’s why Jesus was there, teaching and establishing a church?

So, which Christian(TM) Jesus is the real Jesus that one must believe in to be saved? After hundreds of years, and Christians(TM) still can’t come to a conclusion about the real Jesus.

Had all Christians been decided on the same Jesus, there likely would have been little turmoil in Joseph Smith’s mind and heart over this matter. But they weren’t, and it led to Joseph Smith seeing and hearing Jesus (the *real* Jesus, for LDS, of course–not one known through interpretation of written words only).

So until Christians can unite and decide which of all the Christian(TM) Jesuses is the *real* Jesus, it’s useless to ask this question and pretend to compare the Christian(TM) Jesus with the LDS Jesus, and it’s impossible for LDS/ Mormons to answer the question.

In essence, it is the same Jesus; but the difference is in what I would say is, knowing Him.


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2008, October 26

Book of Mormon: “BUT Joseph Smith Could Have Copied…!” by grego

Book of Mormon: “BUT Joseph Smith Could Have Copied…!”
by grego

I find it very interesting that much of what Joseph Smith wrote was not necessarily the first time something had been written about, and how this is used as a “con” against him and the Book of Mormon.

Just today I ran into a website that said this:
“•Judith [and] Nephi
One of Nephi’s exploits is remarkably similar to an incident found in the book of Judith, in the Apocrypha of the Catholic Bible, which Joseph Smith was familiar with. The story in the Apocrypha goes like this:
Judith was a devoted servant of God. She was opposed by Holofernes, who was evil. She sought help from the Lord. She went to the city where Holofernes lived, entering the city by night, and found him asleep, drunk with wine. She unsheathed his sword, then grabbed him by the hair, and then using his own sword, cut off his head. She then departed, taking some of his possessions. When she rejoined her people there was great rejoicing, and burnt offerings were offered to the Lord.
Now, if you go back over the preceding paragraph, and substitute the name Nephi for Judith, and Laban for Holofernes, and “he” for “she,” you have the story of Nephi and Laban. There are other details, of course, which don’t correspond, but the similarities are sufficient to make one wonder if the similarities might be a result of something other than coincidence.”
Which makes me wonder, was Joseph familiar with the Apocrypha in the Catholic Bible, and what are the chances that he would use this story?1

Here’s another section:
“• Alma [and] The Westminster Confession
In 1729 the Presbyterian Church in America adopted a statement of beliefs called The Westminster Confession. Many phrases from the Confession are similar to phrases in the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon. For example:
Westminster: “before the tribunal of Christ” (Confession 33:1)
Alma: “before the tribunal of God” (Alma 5:18)
Westminster: “our first parents” (Confession 6:1)
Alma: “our first parents” (Alma 42:2)
Westminster: “the souls of the wicked…remain in darkness: (32:1)
Alma: “the souls of the wicked…yea, in darkness…remain in this state” (40:14)
Westminster: “their souls…return to God who gave them.” (32:1)
Alma: “the spirits…are taken home to that God who gave them life.” (Alma 40:11)
Westminster: “bodies…shall be united again to their souls.” (32:2)
Alma: “the souls and bodies are re-united.” (Alma 40:20)
Westminster: “The souls of the righteous.are received into the highest heavens” (32:1)
Alma: “The spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness.” (Alma 40:12)
Westminster: “The souls of the wicked are cast into hell…and utter darkness.” (Confession 32:1)
Alma: “The spirits of the wicked…shall be cast out into outer darkness.” (40:13)
Other Book of Mormon prophets besides Alma used terms that also occur in the Westminster Confession. For example, Nephi uses the term ‘carnal security’. That strange term is never found in the Bible, but it is found in chapter 33 of the Confession. There is no doubt that Joseph Smith had access to a copy of the Confession, since his mother and three of his siblings had joined the Presbyterian church prior to his writing of the Book of Mormon. Again, it could be argued that the similarities are coincidental, but they do seem rather remarkable.”1
Once more, I wonder if they really had a copy of the Confession just because they were Presbyterian…
Possible? Maybe. But was it probable?2

What about Nahom, in Arabia? Is that a direct hit, a sure sign of prophecy? Well… not really. Yet, as found here3: the odds are extremely high.

Other similar comments bring me to a certain belief that “impossible” is almost never the keyword in these discussions, but it all comes down to a question of probability.

In comments like this, I have three considerations:

*Was It Available to Joseph Smith?
Among apologists who frequently run into this type of argument, there is the joke that the local library in the little frontier town of Palmyra or Manchester was akin to the Library of Congress, and that Joseph Smith lived in the library most of the time as a youth (Out working in the fields supporting his poor family? Yeah, whatever! Obviously just a front.), up until the writing of the Book of Mormon; and that no matter how rare or old or difficult to obtain the book/ map/ ancient document, or how late the records might show, the local library had it; and no matter what Smith or his mother or relatives or neighbors or anyone said about his lack of schooling and desire to read, he had read it, preparing for the Book of Mormon! Add to that, some of these materials were only available in foreign languages, which means that Joseph Smith either read them or had someone in Palmyra who could read them and would take the time to read them to him and wait while he took notes.
If nothing else, the possibility that a wandering Jew came through town and stopped and talked to Joseph Smith and gave him lessons in Hebrew, or someone teaching him about something that couldn’t really have been gotten in any other way, is always there…

*How Did Joseph Smith Compile It?
Smith would have had to pull so many fragments of rare material that didn’t conflict from so many rare sources in such a short time, that just the feat of compiling the Book of Mormon–instead of bringing it forth as he said–still stands to be something incredible.
Anyone doing even a 10-page research paper can attest to the problems of time, sources, footnotes, borrowing and originality, internal conflict (think deconstructionism), etc. What are the odds that Joseph Smith, in his state of education, really did that?

*How Did Joseph Smith Know What to Choose?
We are aware that many things that used to be true, aren’t now; and vice-versa. The Book of Mormon contains many examples of things that “weren’t true” then, but now are. The incredible thing is, out of all the things Smith could have chosen, how did he know what to choose, that wouldn’t later be proven wrong? What are the chances he would choose so many unknown/ unsupported/ “wrong” things, only to have them verified later–maybe even 178 years later? The list of “facts” that confront the Book of Mormon is dwindling incredibly fast, as more and more understanding is attained and continues to whittle it down.

I’m not old, but I’m not really young, either; I’m not Catholic, but probably unlike Joseph Smith, I’ve had Catholic friends and spent two years among 98% Catholics or such; I’ve studied languages more than Joseph Smith did, and definitely spent more time in the local library (literally hundreds of hours as a youth, though it wasn’t always in the religion/ history/ rare collections sections); I have a university degree (and actually attended 13 years of school prior to that); etc. What made the story of Judith interesting to me was, I had never heard it before. And yet, of course, it’s so obvious. Now, that reflects bad on me, I guess. But then if so, more so on the critics… I haven’t heard it, even from a critic, and I had been in apologetics heavily for about two years! Which makes me wonder even more, why is it that it takes the critics years and years to do what they accuse Joseph Smith of having done in a few short years as a young man in an obscure town?

Is it impossible? No.
Is it improbable? Yes. Probably somewhere in the odds of a monkey at the typewriter writing one of my 10-page research papers… (No doubt many critics are laughing about right now, yes, that’s about what it was, “a monkey at the typewriter” ha ha ha ha!!)

1. http://www.mormonism-proandcon.org/id10.html
2. Here’s an explanation that spreads a little light: http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon/Plagiarism_accusations/Westminster_Confession
3. http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2001_Arabia_and_the_Book_of_Mormon.html


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2008, September 3

Inconsistent Stories in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s First Vision

Inconsistent Stories in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s First Vision

Much has been written about inconsistent stories in the Book of Mormon and the First Vision, and something recently put it into better perspective for me. 

I have recently been helping a student apply to college.  Doing so has involved helping translate a recommendation letter from her high school teacher; writing a “what can I offer” essay; ticking off somewhat generic boxes of “activities I’ve done”; and writing a 300-word autobiography, a goals essay, and leadership/ service essay. 

Wow!  You’d think, by it all, that these are all different people (though sometimes closely related) writing.  In addition, in one essay she even made the mistake of writing that she graduated in the top ten of her class, then in the top three of her class.

What makes this different than the inconsistent stories in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s First Vision accounts is that her audience is always the same in these writings, and there is ample time for both the author and me to double-check, make changes, and clarify–all in writing. Not that it will necessarily be perfect anyway…

2008, July 20

Book of Mormon: Did Korihor Preach Evolution?

Book of Mormon: Did Korihor Preach Evolution?

From wikipedia.org:
“The theory of evolution by natural selection was proposed at about the same time by both Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, and was set out in detail in Darwin’s 1859 book On the Origin of Species.[5] It encountered initial resistance from religious authorities who believed humans were divinely set apart from the animal kingdom…Darwin investigated the transmutation of species and conceived his theory of natural selection in 1838.”

So how far (or not) was Joseph Smith ahead of his times?

Korihor never stated evolution or any such thing.

Korihor starts out saying no one can know things that can’t be seen, that no one can know Christ will come:

Alma 30:15 How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ.

It isn’t until later that we know that he says he preaches there is no God:
Alma 30:28 Yea, they durst not make use of that which is their own lest they should offend their priests, who do yoke them according to their desires, and have brought them to believe, by their traditions and their dreams and their whims and their visions and their pretended mysteries, that they should, if they did not do according to their words, offend some unknown being, who they say is God–a being who never has been seen or known, who never was nor ever will be.
Alma 30:37 And then Alma said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God?
Alma 30:38 And he answered, Nay.

Alma makes it a point to talk about a Supreme Creator:
Alma 30:44 But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.
Alma 30:45 And yet do ye go about, leading away the hearts of this people, testifying unto them there is no God? And yet will ye deny against all these witnesses? And he said: Yea, I will deny, except ye shall show me a sign.

(BTW, John Pratt the astronomer has a very interesting article on the motions of the planets witnessing a Supreme Creator–see http://www.johnpratt.com.)

In other words, ordered, created things testify of a creator.

So if there was no creator, where did man come from?

Putting this together with what else Korihor says:
Alma 30:17 And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime.

It seems to me a great possibility that he was going for evolution.

Interestingly, Alma replies:
Alma 30:40 And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only.

No matter how much evidence/ proof there is of evolution, it’s not evidence that there is no God, nor that there is no Christ. However, if religious statements can be shown (however correct or not) to be wrong in the face of evolution (“science”), such as a 6,000 year-old earth, or such—though evolution doesn’t prove anything of its own—it can be used as a weapon to show that religion is wrong; and if religion is wrong on one point, by golly, then it must be wrong on other points, too. And the biggest one is the creation of Adam and Eve.

And, interestingly, one point in Korihor’s doctrine is:
Alma 30:25 Ye say that this people is a guilty and a fallen people, because of the transgression of a parent. Behold, I say that a child is not guilty because of its parents.

Whether Korihor was preaching no Fall, or no Fall because no Creation, or what, I don’t really know; but personally, I have an inkling of an idea…

It’s pretty interesting to me that the Book of Mormon came out just a bit before Darwin and Marx, and included similar, if not the same, arguments that their thoughts would be used to create shortly afterwards.

Once more, to me it’s either scripture that God prepared for our day, or Joseph Smith sure was a genius and prophet/ foreteller.

2008, July 14

Book of Mormon: Correct on the Effect of Korihor’s Preaching

What happens when women–who are more affected by social mores and norms than men–are freed from them?:
Alma 30:18 And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms–telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof.

Critics, anyone, am I wrong or did this research not exist back in the 1820’s? Or is this just one more thing that Joseph Smith got right in his “guessing”? You know, one of those “everyone already knows that/ common sense stuff”?…


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