Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Excommunication and Redaction

I don't keep my religion a secret at work.  I hope I don't shove religion down people's throat, but I do wear it on my sleeve.  When a prominent LDS general authority was excommunicated several weeks ago, several of my work colleagues wanted to know more about it.  They actually had heard about it before I had. While the LDS Church has rightly kept the details of the matter in confidence, I considered the situation a positive for the Church even if it was a tragic negative for the individual. It's good for the LDS Church to have an occasional  excommunication because it shows that its keeping its house clean and not sweaping dirt under the rug. 

Similarly,  Elder Jeffery R. Holland was very forthcoming in his redaction of an amazing missionary story that was shared at a leadership meeting.  Elder Holland shared a story about a miraculous prodigal conversion that went viral on social media. While the prodigal return did occur, it turns out that some of more spectacular details of the story were not accurate. When Elder Holland learned that many of details of the story were not accurate, he forthrightly made a public correction.  Making mistakes is human, but openly and publicly confessing mistakes and setting the record straight is divine. 

D&C 1:24-28 Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding. And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known; And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed; And inasmuch as they sinned they might be chastened, that they might repent; And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Reformed Egyptian Example

1Nephi 1:2 Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.

Mormon 9:32 And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.

Stefan Wimmer's 2008 book Palastinisches Hieratisch (Palestinian Hieratic) has dozens of examples of a writing system used in Israel about the time of Lehi that renders Hebrew vocabulary and syntax in Egyptian Hieratic script.

It turns out that there are many examples of the Aramaic and even the Hebrew language written in various Egyptian scripts.  Hieratic was used as a shorthand for business transactions and was known to be very efficient and compact. The compactness of Egyptian heiratic was precisely the reason Mormon gave as the reason why the script was used for the Book of Mormon.

Mormon 9: 33 And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew;

Using this and other sources, Jerry Grover has been able to make a translation of the available Book of Mormon characters recorded by Joseph Smith, John Whitmer, and Matin Harris from the Gold Plates. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Book of Mormon Insurgency

Dear Bro. -------- --------,

My name is David Brosnahan and I just finished listening to your talk at the 2016 FAIR conference about insurgency.  I write a blog at  I very much enjoyed your talk as it really got me pondering about your topic. 

It seems that this talk was a bit in reaction to "Even unto Bloodshed" which used the Book of Mormon to justify the current US war on terrorism. While I agree with your disaproval of that book and its conclusions, I don't think your disapproval took you in the right direction.  Your tone in the talk seemed slightly critical of certain aspects of the Book of Mormon as well as certain aspects of Church policy that might be viewed as harsh or might cause guilt (eg. talk on pornography). 

It seemed to me that you were more in favor of policies that show unconditional love in most circumstances and less supportive of policies that might "enlarge the wounds of those who are already wounded" (Jacob 2:9). This is, in fact, a major theme of the Book of Mormon.  Teaching according to the Holy Order in the Book of Mormon was compared and contrasted to Nehor, priestcraft, and the corrupt practice of only preaching a positive-only, "popular" doctrine.  The true prophets, on the other hand, were duty bound to call the people to repentance and as Nephi from his tower commented a bit sarcastically, "why have ye gathered yourselves together? That I may tell you of your iniquities?" (Hel 17:13).

The truth is, that abscesses like sins sometimes need to be painfully drained before healing salve applied. God instructs us to sometimes reprove each other, followed up by a demonstration of increased love.  

I think there may be a misunderstand about the nature of conspiracy and consequently a possible misunderstanding about what Captain Moroni and others like Lachonus were fighting against. 

We first need to understand the term robber vs. thief. The term robber is not being used in the Book of Mormon to vilify the socially and politically marginalized. Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute has explained that robbery in the Bible (hamas), was a great sin leading to the Great Flood.  "the whole world was filled with violence" (hamas = robbery).

Rabbi Richman goes on to explain the meaning of robbery using the following anecdote.  Imagine there is a bean-seller selling beans in the market. If one person stole all this man's beans, the bean-seller would be bankrupt and the law broken.  But if all the town conspired against the bean-seller to only steal one bean each, the bean-seller's business would still be destroyed but no law would be broken.  This conspiracy to destroy within the constraints of the law is the true meaning of robbery (hamas).  

Because we fail to understand the nature of secret combinations, works of darkness, and conspiracy in the Book of Mormon, many LDS and non-LDS are blind to the true nature and operation of conspiracy in the world around us today.  I agree with you in your disapproval of the seemingly endless wars in the Middle East, but I don't think that we need to criticize Captain Moroni or sympathize with the ISIS insurgency to arrive at this same conclusion.  In my opinion, the Book of Mormon does not justify the current preemptive US war on terror.  But if we really understood the warning of the Book of Mormon we would realize the secret combinations around us have already gotten above us (Ether 8).

So, what was really going on in the Book of Mormon?  The Gadiantons were not a picked-on ethnic minority. Although Gadianton-leaders no doubt recruited the marginalized.  Gadianton leaders were king-men whose main purpose, like the Lamanites, was to steal (legally or illegally) from the workers instead of producing for themselves.  The early Lamanites found it easier to steal from the industrious Nephites instead of learning to plant and cultivate their own fields.  This is why the Lamanites permitted the Nephites to return to the Land of Nephi fully intending to enslave them later.

Pretty soon, Nephites fell prey to the same greed to live off the sweat and productivity of others.  After establishing a Republic, the king men first tried to overcome via election. When that failed, they didn't give up but joined together with the Lamanites (Amlici, Amalikiah) seeking to enslave their own people and glut themselves off their labors.  But the king-men failed again and again.  

By the way, a king works solely for the interests of the king-men like a CEO works for the interests of the principle shareholders. Its the king-men and not the king that holds true power via hidden influence over perceived authority. If a king goes rogue, he is assassinated and replaced

After many failures, the king-men devise yet another strategy. Instead of openly confronting their opposition politically or militarily, they went underground forming secret combinations and infiltrating the government from within via the courts and corrupting the laws with endless loopholes that judge a king-man by the loophole letter and not provable intent. The Nephites built up these secret combinations by joining with them in their spoils. 

The reason why the free-men gave land to the king-men, was because these certain king-men had repented and finally covenanted to subsist on their own labors and not the labors of others. This is why Lachoneus' strategy was so brilliant.  By gathering in the center of the Nephite lands, the skill-less Gadiantons, who subsisted purely on pillaging (hired pillaging), couldn't provide for themselves. 

Isa 65:21-22 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.  They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

David Brosnahan MD