Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, June 20

Persuasion in the Book of Mormon, and Other Things

Persuasion in the Book of Mormon, and Other Things
by grego
(c)2008

I was reading a blog post the other day on a blog that is frequented by “intellectuals”: PhD’s, lawyers, professors, etc. It was a post with over 240 comments, and most of those comments shared the same style.

It was appalling. So much so that I can say I’ve rarely been more appalled by anything else “LDS”. It wasn’t just what they were talking about; it was mostly the way they were doing it.

Sure, there were concerns, but they could have treated it very differently; I have rarely seen a post full of brainwashed comments; people who thought they were too smart for it.

It reminded me of a typical tirade session in an anti-Mormon discussion.

Anyone familiar with propaganda and logical fallacies would have a field day with the post and the comments. (I’m hardly the expert, but even I started to. Then I figured, it wouldn’t be worth it.) From the first sentence of the post—which was a generalization (somewhat hidden, as it didn’t use the word “all”)—to the last sentence of the post, which used “poisoned words”—at least every section of the somewhat long post had at least one problem with logic. Most of the comments did, too–from poisoning the well in the first comment, to the last, which contained one of those disparaging “[sic]”‘s.

Since everyone was on the bandwagon, it didn’t seem to matter.

To someone not on the bandwagon, however, it was pretty easy to see that most of the arguments were full of problems and that for most participants, the right side of the brain had completely oppressed the left side. In other words, many of the people commenting on the blog had been brainwashed.

Then, a day or two before that, I had run across an article by Devvy Kidd (http://www.newswithviews.com/Devvy/kidd149.htm) which contained this quote:
“Teddy Roosevelt said it the best: ‘The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.'”

That quote—no new idea for true freedom lovers, but important because of timing—really stuck because of the “Captain Moroni was such a bad, bad man; poor Pahoran” and “we need to support our government leaders” chatter I used to hear so much, and that continues to be heard from many American LDS. Many readers have turned away in fury without even reading past the introduction in some of my articles/ posts because “they’re not patriotic”, which to them means “you don’t support everything our government is and does 100%”. Me? Well, really, most of it is the Book of Mormon, not me. It’s like, forget what the book says, forget what prophets have said. Yeah. I don’t wonder so much any more why many—paraphrasing and interpreting Pres. Benson—look down with haughtiness and spite at the politics and liberty and blood in the Book of Mormon. (And *I’m* the one that gets called nuts…) The government is clearly winning the propaganda war with the saints. Once more, LDS should be at the front, and once more, LDS are near the back. And unfortunately, most not only don’t know it, they angrily deny it. Not just me saying that. After 9/11, I had many foreigners—New Zealanders, Canadians, Taiwanese—who were very hesitant to talk to me about all their reservations about the official story, because previous Americans had been almost bellicose when asked.

Somehow, the next day, my Sunday School lesson wasn’t going well. In fact, it seemed to be going horribly. (It probably wasn’t that bad, but that’s how it felt. Just when you had thought you couldn’t do worse than that other time before…) And somehow, at the end of the time limit, talking about king Mosiah and Amlici and persuasion in the same lesson (not to mention Alma the chief judge and great high priest/ prophet praying for strength to kill Amlici, good heavens!) led to a completely unprepared and surprise public chastizing of proud yet stupid LDS. And yes, especially (forgive me) Americans. (Of course, I had to throw a Pres. Benson quote in while doing so!) As LDS, we should be at the front of understanding these things, even if we find them appalling and don’t use them unless absolutely necessary. But, as usual, LDS are at the back of the line—again. And thus, we ourselves become appalling. Or at least we sometimes make appalling public posts and comments.

And that’s what made the post that started this all so much more appalling. These weren’t idiots writing and commenting on youtube.com; they were LDS cream of the crop on an intellectual blog. Being brainwashed.

Have you ever seen a “subliminal” video, or a “Derren Brown” show or video, such as on http://www.youtube.com? Wow. Amazing stuff. If you read many of the comments, though, you’ll see that there’s a lot of unbelief. Most people I introduce it to, don’t believe any of it is true. Much of the unbelief stems from pride and arrogance. Of course, ignorance is in full form. I’ve noticed more and more how well they often go together…

By trying really hard to not be gullible, they become… gullible. It’s the great Satan trick–the best way to get people to believe in me is to tell them I don’t exist, I’m not real; don’t believe in me.

Derren Brown is clear that it doesn’t work all the time, especially when people might be expecting it. But it sure works enough of the time, and on people that even might be expecting it, especially after multiple exposures, that it’s clearly evident that this is something to understand and learn.

My tirade in Sunday School was met by a very few surprised faces (or at least blank), but mostly faces that were open to learning and reality. It seemed I could see the words sink into them. Unfortunately, few of the class members were American. Ok, none of them were proud brainwashed American LDS. None of them were even American. But somehow, THEY got it. I don’t think any of them hold any advanced degrees. Many never went to college. Of the ones I’ve talked to, none of them are smooth talkers. But they listened, and they realized that yes, the Book of Mormon is full of examples of people using persuasion—for good or for bad—and that since it was in there so many times, and Pres. Benson specifically mentioned propaganda in that day and I can’t imagine it being better now than then; hey, you know, it probably *was* something that God wanted us to understand and learn. They didn’t know much about it, and they knew they didn’t know. They luckily hadn’t been around the intellectual circles who shut out Pres. Benson and his counsel, and they actually believed the Book of Mormon to be the word of God and useful and pragmatic for our days in many ways, not just in an intellectual or completely spiritual way.

Refreshing.

Anyway, that’s what really kicked in my thinking about persuasion in the Book of Mormon.

To start off, I will say that having been a leader of various degrees” and “positions”, I have never received any type of “brainwashing/ persuasion” teaching. The closest is teacher training, which touches on typical mainstream teaching ideas. Even counseling presentations to bishops deal with mainstream counseling/ psychology ideas.

I don’t remember ever seeing any type of what would be called overt and known (by the person using it) “covert persuasion” in the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/ LDS Church by any member, anywhere I’ve been. That includes even very basic things like voice tonality.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a missionary use covert persuasion, either, other than voice tonality. That includes all the missionaries before my mission, on my mission, as a stake missionary, or otherwise. (I have seen one or two use overt pressure. Especially an Elder Duffin who made me think I’d rather listen to five desperate MLM presentations or be in the ring with a WWF wrestler than take a discussion from him. I actually cheered inside when the investigator left and never came back. Though I hope he came back after Elder Duffin left.)

The lack of covert persuasion speaks very much so against claims of the LDS church being a cult.

On the other hand, I have seen covert persuasion used by many preachers on TV. (For a look at more about this, search for “The Battle for Your Mind” on the internet.)

There is overt persuasion in the gospel and in the Church. There is emotion. But I have never seen covert persuasion or “brainwashing”. (One cult brainwasher, J.K. Ellis/ Dantalion Jones, accused the Church of brainswashing, but when I pressed for examples and asked for two-way discussion on a fair debate board, he backed off—I had imagined because he was really empty-handed.)

I have seen a few examples of propaganda. It seems most of it is started by the Church or Church leaders. Offhand, I recall most of it was logical fallacies and based on unstable evidence. Other than that, there’s not much in that area, either. Or at least, so much for my memory…

How important and central is persuasion to the gospel? Remember, the great war in heaven was caused by it. And God’s plan is based on it. Even Christ and the Holy Ghost persuade us to repent and do good. Look at Doctrine and Covenants 19, where Christ uses non-beautiful overt persuasion to call to repentance.

So, on to the Book of Mormon. How much is there about overt persuasion, covert persuasion, and propaganda?

A lot. So much I can’t cover it all here, but will just leave a few thoughts and some references.

Most examples are of overt persuasion—be it beautiful or not. (Most attacks I’ve seen of LDS critics talking of brainwashing seem to be based on the “not-beautiful” examples of overt persuasion. However, that doesn’t make it covert persuasion, nor does it make it brainwashing.) Nephi clearly says he wants to write things that persuade people to come unto Christ, and that the other writers should do so, too. Moroni, who often acts as the second witness to Nephi, also says so.

Some examples of persuasion being used by/ for the good occur here (very incomplete list and even references left open/ incomplete, out, or maybe even wrong!):
Lehi persuades his family to leave: 1 Nephi 2:2-4
Lord persuades Nephi to believe Lehi: 1 Nephi 2:16
Nephi persuades Sam to believe: 1 Nephi 2:17
Nephi fails to persuade Laman and Lemuel to believe: 1 Nephi 2:18
Nephi persuades his brothers to get the plates: 1 Nephi 3:21, 4:1-3
Spirit persuades Nephi to slay Laban: 1 Nephi 4:10-13
Nephi persuades Zoram to remain with them: 1 Nephi 4:32-34
Nephi persuades others to belive in Christ: 1 Nephi 6:4, 1 Nephi 19:18, 1 Nephi 19:23, 2 Nephi 25:23
Lehi’s sons perusade Ishmael and family to go with them: 1 Nephi 7:4
Nephi tries to persuade rebels to not return to Jerusalem: 1 Nephi 7
Others persuade Laman and Lemuel to not kill Nephi: 1 Nephi 7:19
Lehi tries to persuade Laman and Lemuel to repent: 1 Nephi 8:37, 10:2
Nephi teaches and persuades his brothers to do good: 1 Nephi 15
Nephi persuades family to repent: 1 Nephi 16:24
Lord persuades Laman and Lemuel to repent: 1 Nephi 16:39
Nephi persuades his brothers to help him build a ship: 1 Nephi 17
Lehi persuades his family to be good: 2 Nephi 1-4
Nephi persuades believers to follow him and leave: 2 Nephi 5:6
Jacob persuades repentance: 2 Nephi 9
Jews shall be persuaded to believe in Christ: 2 Nephi 25:16
Jesus commands his people to persuade others to repent: 2 Nephi 26:27
Nephi persuades others to pray: 2 Nephi 32
Nephi persuades others to do good: 2 Nephi 33:4
Jacob and Joseph persuade others to come to Christ: Jacob 1:7, 8
Jacob persuades repentance: Jacob 2-3
Mosiah 1 persuades others to leave land of Nephi: Omni 1:12
Prophets persuade Nephites to repent:
King Benjamin persuades people to repent, be converted: Mosiah 2-5
Zeniff persuades others to not kill Lamanites: Mosiah 9:1-2
Abinadi persuades Alma to repent: Mosiah 12-17
Young women persuade Lamanites to not kill their families: Mosiah 19:13-15
Gideon persuades Limhi to listen to his counsel: Mosiah 22:3-9
King Mosiah persuades people to have judges: Mosiah 29
Gideon withstands words of Nehor with words of God: Alma 1:7
Alma the Younger persuades members to repent: Alma 4-7
Alma and Amulek persuade the Ammonihahites to repent: Alma 8-14
Ammon persuades servants to be of good cheer, gather sheep: Alma 17:31
Ammon persuades Lamoni to listen and repent: Alma 18
Abish persuades the people to come see the king’s conversion: Alma 19:17
Lamoni will use flattery to get Nephite missionary prisoners released: Alma 20:4
Aaron persuades the king to pray: Alma 22
Ammon, Aaron, et. al. Persuade Lamanites to repent: Alma 17-25
Ammon persuades Lamanites to leave: Alma 27
Alma persuades his sons to do good: Alma 36-42?
Captain Moroni, the covenant, and the Title of Liberty: Alma 46
Captain Moroni persuades men to fight better many times:
Helaman and others persuade the Anti-Nephi-Lehies not to break their covenant: Alma 53:13-15; 56:7-8
Captain Moroni persuades Pahoran to repent: Alma 60
Abinadad persuades the Lamanites to pray: Helaman 5
Nephi persuades the people to think: Helaman 10?
Mormon writes to persuade all to repent: Mormon 3:22
The Book of Mormon is to persuade men to believe in Jesus, etc.: Mormon 5:14
The Book of Mormon persuades men to do good: Ether 4:11
All that persuades men to do good is of Christ: Ether 4:12
Moroni hopes man will be persuaded to do good continually: Ether 8:26
That which persuades to believe in Christ, is of Christ: Moroni 7:16

In addition, there are a few articles on this blog about Alma and his sons, and NLP.

Some examples of persuasion being used by/ for the bad occur here:
Laman and Lemuel persuade some of Ishmael’s family to rebel: 1 Nephi 7
Men persuade others to believe false doctrine: 2 Nephi 28:5-9
Devil flatters people to sin: 2 Nephi 28:22
Sherem uses flattery and power of speech to overthrow doctrine of Christ: Jacob 7:2, 4
King Noah and priests use vain and flattering words to persuade people to do evil: Mosiah 11:7
Nonbelievers persuade members to do evil: Mosiah 26:6
Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah use words and flattery to lead members to do evil: Mosiah 27:8
Nehor persuades others to sin: Alma 1(:7)
Nehorites persuade others to believe them: Alma 1:15-16
Amlici persuades people to follow him: Alma 2:1, 2
Amlici persuades his followers to fight against the Nephites: Alma 2
Korihor persuades others to believe him: Alma 30:47
Amalickiah persuades people to follow him: Alma 46:5, 7, 10
Amalickiah “persuades” the Lamanite king to give him the army: Alma 47:3-4
Amalickiah persuades Lehonti to come down, follow his evil plan: Alma 47
Amalickiah persuades the army that the king’s servants killed him: Alma 47:27
Amalickiah persuades the queen that the king’s servants killed him: Alma 47:33-34
Amalickiah and Ammoron persuade the Lamanites to fight the Nephites: Alma 48-62, scattered
Morianton persuades his people to flee and fight Nephites: Alma 50:29, 35
Kingmen use flattery to win people over: Alma 61:4
Paanchi persuades rebellion: Helaman 1:7
Gadianton flatters others to make him #1 in the band: Helaman 2:5
Zoramites persuade Lamanite children to leave the Church, become Gadianton robbers: 3 Nephi 1:29
Jacob the Lamanite flatters others to flee and wait for dissenters: 3 Nephi 7:12
Jared persuades others with flattery and cunning to rebel: Ether 8:2
Satan persuades to do evil: Moroni 7:17

Those of you who are familiar with my articles “Moroni the Man, Pahoran the Propagandist” and “9/11 and the Book of Mormon”, on www.bookofmormonmusings.blogspot.com, also have two prime examples of propaganda and covert persuasion.

So, please be aware that persuasion does exist, it’s real, both God and Satan and their servants use it, and you will either learn it, or live by someone else’s will. Reading the scriptures and having the Spirit will negate much negative persuasion, but rarely will those things stop or cure it. Most likely you will need to learn and also change your lifestyle, especially to counter negative covert persuasion; for example, turn off the TV.

I’m going to give you a list of topics now that doing a search on will bring all kinds of information. You must be aware of things like “propaganda techniques”, “covert persuasion”, “NLP (neuro-linguistic programming)”, “conversational hypnosis”, “seduction”, “mind control”, etc. Yes, there’s lots out there, and there are some “interesting” things–both truthful and not. There’s lots of misinformation (a part of propaganda–when the truth is told, open the floodgates of untruth—from very different to the truth, to very similar to the truth—to confuse and throw everyone off as to the real truth). But generally, you’ll start to see things. And you will especially see how they work, on you, your family, and those around you. You can also look at these topics on videos on youtube.com and other places. I suggest to start with “Derren Brown” to look at negative possibilities, and “Salad NLP” for positive possibilities.


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