Boat, Bible; Ship, Scripture

*follow-up to this.

Three vociferous cheers for Old Joe and his Indian Bible notwithstanding, a lot of what the Book of Mormon says about colonization and colonialization is liable to make current readers squeamish. After all, it has been some time since the president of the United States, for instance, was systematically removing Native Americans to west of the Mississippi. Today there is actually concern about the loss of Native American languages, if not religions.

It doesn’t matter much whether 1 Nephi 13:12 is to be understood as referring to Columbus himself, another explorer or conquistador. God was behind Gentile discovery and colonialization of the Americas, according to the Nephite record. The Gentiles’ crossing of the many waters, Bible in hand, was divinely inspired. Which should come as no surprise in a book of holy writ that features other providential voyages of boats and bibles, ships and scriptures.

Among other things, the story of the Book of Mormon is one of ongoing colonialization, beginning with attempts to Christianize Lamanites through the use of the Brass Plates centuries before the Spanish arrived in the New World and ending with prophecy of widespread Lamanite conversion post-1829 due to the instrumentality of the Book of Mormon itself. Still, some of what the Book of Mormon says about colonialization is fairly critical.

To make the parallelism clear, in Nephi’s vision of Gentile colonialization, the Gentiles are said to be white like the Nephites, and the Bible that the Gentiles will bring with them across the many waters is identified with the record of the Jews that the Spirit had earlier constrained Nephi to kill for. No sooner does his vision of Gentile colonialization end than Nephi is commanded by God to build a ship that will transport his family and the Brass Plates to the New World.

While the cursed Lamanite side of the family slips into indolence and idolatry without the Brass Plates, in time the Nephite side of the family encounters another group sans sacred record. Under Mosiah, the Nephites colonialize the Mulekites. They replace the “corrupted” Mulekite language with their own, which does however allow for Mulekite oral history to be preserved, and they teach them Nephite belief in the biblical Creator, all by way of the Brass Plates (Omni 1:17-19).

Mosiah’s son Benjamin later explains to his own sons that if it weren’t for the Brass Plates, “even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct (Mosiah 1:5).” Indeed, this was the justification for killing in order to get the Brass Plates in the first place: “It is better than one man perish that that a nation dwindle and perish in unbelief (1 Nephi 4:13).”

As Benjamin indicates, up to that point Nephite attempts to convert Lamanites had failed. Before they ever left the Old World, Nephi had used the record of the Jews, Isaiah in particular, to try to Christianize Laman and Lemuel, but he was not successful (1 Nephi 19:22-23). Nephi’s descendants would enjoy success. Eventually. Though not until after several more failed attempts.

Nephi’s brother Jacob reports that “many means were devised to reclaim and restore the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth; but it was all in vain (Jacob 7:24).” Likewise, Jacob’s son: “our strugglings were vain in restoring them to the true faith. And they swore in their wrath that, if it were possible, they would destroy our records, and us, and all the traditions of our fathers (Enos 1:14).”

During the reign of King Mosiah, colonializer of the Mulekites, Zeniff and some other Nephites set out to get their promised land (back) from the Lamanites by force. Admirably, though spying for this Nephite army poised to destroy the Lamanites, when Zeniff sees “that which was good among them,” he does not want them to be destroyed. Instead, he wants his commander to negotiate a treaty. But the Nephite commander is “bloodthirsty,” and the only way to prevent the destruction of the Lamanites is Nephite civil war (Mosaiah 9:1-2).

As critical of violent conquest as Zeniff is, and despite the good that he sees among them, the peaceful treaty with the Lamanites turns into battle anyway. And it would appear to be the treacherous Lamanites’ fault. However, this group of Nephites was on the brink of apostasy …

Once more in the city of the colonialized Mulekites, after a half century, Alma the younger and the grandsons of King Benjamin set out, not to get their promised land (back) from the Lamanites, but to convert them to Christianity using (copies of) the Brass Plates as well as other Nephite records.

Notably, Ammon converts Lamoni by rehearsing and laying before him “the records and the holy scriptures of the people, which had been spoken of by the prophets, even down to the time that their father, Lehi, left Jerusalem ,” and “all the records and scriptures from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem down to the present time (Alma 18:36-38).” Then Aaron converts Lamoni’s obstinate father by “reading the scriptures” to him (Alma 22:12-14).

These Nephite missionaries did not need to teach the Lamanites their language in order to convert them to Christianity, as the apostate priests of Zeniff’s son had already taught them the Nephite language (Mosiah 24:4); without the Brass Plates, the Lamanites’ language had become ‘corrupted’ just as the Mulekites’ had.

Mission accomplished, Alma reflects on the instrumentality of the Brass Plates and other sacred records in converting the Lamanites to Christianity: “were it not for these things that these records do contain, which are upon these plates, Ammon and his brethren could not have convinced so many thousands of the Lamanites of the incorrect traditions of their fathers; yea, these records and their words brought them to repentance; that is, they brought them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and to rejoice in Jesus Christ their Redeemer (Alma 37:9).”

In short, alphabetic Christian culture saves, according to the Book of Mormon. Without it, languages are corrupted and people dwindle in unbelief.

There is indeed the significant prophecy of Samuel the Lamanite. Yet his message is that of white Nephite Christianity, spoken and recorded in their language not his. Speaking of his brethren the Lamanites, Samuel is supposed to say, “But behold, salvation hath come unto them through the preaching of the Nephites (Helaman 15:4).”

  • RT

    Insightful reading, gwesley. So how would you suggest that Mormons revalorize the implicit colonializing message of the Book of Mormon? Or in other words, what can be done about it?

  • g.wesley

    RT,

    That is a really good and important question. Unfortunately I don’t have a decent answer.

    I think that when it was published, the Book of Mormon was well ahead of the curve in many ways.

    That said, it is hard to imagine what our ever increasing proselytizing efforts would look like without the colonializing message of the Book of Mormon and the supercessionist message of the Restoration. As I hear it, there is little room for religious pluralism in the hymn ‘Called to Serve.’

    More service for the sake of service alone and less triumphalism might be a way to go, as more and more missionaries are sent out. On the other hand, to the extent that humans are innately competitive, it is quite possible that backing too far away from claims to be on the winning team would result not only in less converts but also a decrease in church membership.

    Personally, I am happy to talk about the church with others and am glad to see those who find it appealing and decide to join. But I can not think of very many cases in which I would be able to tell others that their traditions are false, let alone that they must join the church to be saved.

    Some thoughts anyway.

  • RT

    “More service for the sake of service alone and less triumphalism might be a way to go, as more and more missionaries are sent out. On the other hand, to the extent that humans are innately competitive, it is quite possible that backing too far away from claims to be on the winning team would result not only in less converts but also a decrease in church membership.”

    Both very good thoughts. I think the first is right on the money (I believe it’s been suggested by Greg Prince relatively recently). Yet I also think that the belief that we are part of a community that is special, different, with higher standards can be (of course, need not be) a means of inculcating those higher standards of behavior and morality and thus should not simply be jettisoned.

  • g.wesley

    Yes, to say that “we are part of a community that is special, different, with higher standards” (higher, that is, depending on the specific comparison being made) might strike a nice balance between an essentially exclusive claim to truth/authority/salvation and on the other hand claims to nothing much. I like it!

  • g.wesley

    … and the practicality of it too, in terms of inculcating standards, as you point out.

  • Mark Ashurst-McGee

    Thanks gWesley. I tried to cover similar ground in my dissertation, investigatng the Book of Mormon’s presentation of the brass plates, the Bible, and the Book of Mormon as civic texts (borrowing from Francois Furstenberg’s In the Name of the Father). “Zion Rising: Joseph Smith’s Early Social and Political Thought,” ch. 4.

  • g.wesley

    Thanks for the comment, Mark.

    I’ve read your MA thesis and have wanted to read your dissertation. Now I have another reason to do so.

  • Darren

    “Yet his message is that of white Nephite Christianity”

    Well now that we got to the gist of the “problem”, that ‘white’ religion is responsible for all the good in the the Book of Mormon, how has the ‘white Christianity’ blessed the world, gwesley?

    “Personally, I am happy to talk about the church with others and am glad to see those who find it appealing and decide to join. But I can not think of very many cases in which I would be able to tell others that their traditions are false, let alone that they must join the church to be saved. ”

    Agreed telling people “hey, I’m right and you’re wrong” is not the best approach in terms of affectively sharing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with others. However, that is precsiely what you are saying by invoking “restoration” in your message. As members of God’s kingdom it is incumbant to be of service to others as well as to bare testmony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s only true church upon the face ofthe earth. That it is guided by living prophets, the priesthood is restored, and that the Book of Mormon is the true word of God.

    What i’m getting from your post, gwesley, is that we need ot sort of “water down” the message. That we need to be sensative, (and I even sense guilt) for the “white supremist” view of the Book of Mormon. I say share the message and let the Spirit in to testify of it.

    As for the corruptability of language, that wasa perfectly acceptable use of terms until only recently. While implying a lack of virtue, linguistically-speaking “corruption” simply means an “alteration” from an original source. In this sense all languages are corrupt. Wit hregards tothe Brass Plates this, to me, would mean that the meaning of words lost their spiritual sense. We see this even today. The LDS sense of being “sons of God” is not always the same as an Evangelical sense of the term. While both believe in “sons of God ” as including becoming spiritually closer ot God and ultimate salvation, the LDS also embrace the literal offspring sense of the term (which is compatible to the Greek word genus). We (the LDS) can say, therefore, and essentially we do, that the language of the Bible has become corrupt for the lack of not having all the records necessary to preserve original meaning of words and terms.

    “might strike a nice balance between an essentially exclusive claim to truth/authority/salvation and on the other hand claims to nothing much. ”

    What’s wrong with making an exclusive claim to salvation? Isn’t that what Jesus taught?

  • TT

    Darren, I could be reading you wrong, but what do you mean by your question, “‘white’ religion is responsible for all the good in the the Book of Mormon, how has the ‘white Christianity’ blessed the world, gwesley?” And, are you saying, “share the message [of white supremacy] and let the Spirit testify of [white Christianity]“?

  • Darren

    TT;

    gwesley promotes the Book of Mormon story as declaring God’s righteous people white and that the gospe of Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon was a “white religioun”. That the Lamanites needed ot repent and accept this “white religion”. So, I ask, since Christianity is a religion which was accepted initially by a bunch of white people, how has Christianity blessed the world? I’m basically throwing gwesley’s aruments back at him and asking him to show how a “white religion” blesses people.

    For the record, I hate racial supremecy of any stripe and I do not view the Book of Mormon story as whites are better than non whites. But gwesley seems a bit sensative towards the “whiteness” of the Book of Mormon so why not the whiteness in historic Christianity?

  • g.wesley

    Darren,
    You raise some difficult issues. I’ll try to respond as best I can.

    I said:
    “Yet his [Samuel’s] message is that of white Nephite Christianity”

    You said:
    Well now that we got to the gist of the “problem”, that ‘white’ religion is responsible for all the good in the the Book of Mormon, how has the ‘white Christianity’ blessed the world, gwesley?

    My response:
    If I understand, you are suggesting that it has blessed the world. And I would agree with that, as I am sure many Christians would, including many Christians who happen to be of non-white, non-European descent. At the same time, together with the package of colonialization, Christianity has also been the undoing of other religions and cultures, such as those of Native Americans.

    I said:
    “Personally, I am happy to talk about the church with others and am glad to see those who find it appealing and decide to join. But I can not think of very many cases in which I would be able to tell others that their traditions are false, let alone that they must join the church to be saved. ”

    You said:
    Agreed telling people “hey, I’m right and you’re wrong” is not the best approach in terms of affectively sharing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with others. However, that is precsiely what you are saying by invoking “restoration” in your message. As members of God’s kingdom it is incumbant to be of service to others as well as to bare testmony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s only true church upon the face ofthe earth. That it is guided by living prophets, the priesthood is restored, and that the Book of Mormon is the true word of God.

    My response:
    Thanks for acknowledging some common ground between us.

    About invoking the Restoration, it was indeed a critical reference on my part. Let me attempt to explain. You may have had the experience of being told that you are not Christian because you are LDS. I know that this has made me rather upset in the past when I have been excluded from Christianity. So I have a hard time doing the same thing to other Christians and to people of whatever other religion or no religion categorically. I have a hard time telling them that they are going to be excluded from God’s team if they don’t get (re-)baptized by someone in the only religion with divine authority, e.g. not the religion that they may belong to now.

    You said:
    What i’m getting from your post, gwesley, is that we need ot sort of “water down” the message. That we need to be sensative, (and I even sense guilt) for the “white supremist” view of the Book of Mormon. I say share the message and let the Spirit in to testify of it.

    My response:
    I can definitely see how it would seem watered down. And frankly, it *is* watered down from a certain point of view. If Brigham Young, for instance, were brought back to life today, I think it likely that he would view several of the changes since his time as a watering down of things. From another perspective, however, it might be seen as representative of positive change. Anyhow, things change all the time, whatever valence we give them.

    About a “‘white supremist’ view of the Book of Mormon,” that is not and would not be my word choice at all. Along with supremacist and supremacy, it is highly loaded. For that reason I don’t think it is a fitting description of the Book of Mormon or Mormonism. I once argued against their use here:

    http://www.juvenileinstructor.org/guest-post-edward-blum-historicizing-mormon-racism-a-response-to-john-turner/#comment-218844

    The closest thing that I have said is supercessionist, but I hope that is not readily confusable with supremist/supremacist. An example of a supercessionist for me would be a Christian who thinks that Judaism as a religion has been superceded. An example of a supremacist for me would be a Christian who thinks that not only has Judaism as a religion been superceded, Jewish people are racially inferior. It could be argued, with plenty of anachronism, that the apostle Paul, for one, was a supercessionist (supercession tending to be indistinguishable from the fulfillment of what is supposed to have been planned all along). But Paul, himself a Jew, was certainly not a supremacist.

    About guilt, I personally don’t know how anyone living in the US who is not a Native American can read US history and not feel some. I think the Book of Mormon itself shares this feeling of guilt or at least empathy, which is why for instance the Lamanites are referred to as Israelites, albeit apostates, while Christians in Europe and the US are called Gentiles. It may also have something to do with the prominent place of Samuel the Lamanite in the Book of Mormon.

    But I am not trying to play on white guilt/shame. A critique of post-colonial studies (which is not the kind of study that I do but is certainly part of current academic experience in humanities) is precisely that it can be driven by white guilt/shame. I was once at a job talk in which a white student asked a Latino candidate whether he did post-colonial studies. He curtly said that the subaltern can speak for itself, thank you very much. (The irony is not lost on me that I should not have written this post then.)

    You said:
    As for the corruptability of language, that wasa perfectly acceptable use of terms until only recently. While implying a lack of virtue, linguistically-speaking “corruption” simply means an “alteration” from an original source. In this sense all languages are corrupt.

    My response:
    I actually don’t think that the term corruption should be off limits, and I was thinking of it in the linguistic rather than moral sense.

    Where I have concerns is when it comes to positing an original biblical (or Egyptian) language behind the language/s of Native Americans. It just isn’t so for one thing, at least not in the case of any Native American language that I have heard of; and for another thing it is all too convenient for subjecting native peoples. There is then the risk of subjection being passed off as restoration—and Restoration with a capital R too, given that language and culture, including religion, are inseparable.

    You said:
    Wit hregards tothe Brass Plates this, to me, would mean that the meaning of words lost their spiritual sense. We see this even today. The LDS sense of being “sons of God” is not always the same as an Evangelical sense of the term. While both believe in “sons of God ” as including becoming spiritually closer ot God and ultimate salvation, the LDS also embrace the literal offspring sense of the term (which is compatible to the Greek word genus). We (the LDS) can say, therefore, and essentially we do, that the language of the Bible has become corrupt for the lack of not having all the records necessary to preserve original meaning of words and terms.

    My response:
    For what it’s worth, I do not think that LDS belief in a pre-mortal life as literal children of God can be found in the Bible, not because the Bible has been corrupted (which it definitely has in terms of textual criticism), but because such a belief does not seem to have been there in the first place. From what I have seen, the ‘sons of God’ refer to angels. Angels may masquerade on earth as humans. Aside from a few writings like the Prayer of Joseph, however, humans are not angels in disguise and do not pre-exist. That is my understanding of the Bible anyhow.

    I said:
    “might strike a nice balance between an essentially exclusive claim to truth/authority/salvation and on the other hand claims to nothing much. ”

    You said:
    What’s wrong with making an exclusive claim to salvation? Isn’t that what Jesus taught?

    My response:
    Let me say that for its exclusivity, Mormonism is also rather universalist, which I like. But all can be saved only if they convert to Mormonism sooner or later, which I don’t like as much. So there’s that.

    Knowing what Jesus taught some centuries ago I find to be a difficult thing. I am wary of any argument, from any side, be it far left, far right, or anywhere in between, that is based on what Jesus is supposed to have taught. So I won’t make one. Jesus is like a trump card that can be used with any hand.

  • Darren

    “My response:
    If I understand, you are suggesting that it has blessed the world. And I would agree with that, as I am sure many Christians would, including many Christians who happen to be of non-white, non-European descent. At the same time, together with the package of colonialization, Christianity has also been the undoing of other religions and cultures, such as those of Native Americans. ”

    Christianity had nothing to do with colonization except for the unique situation of the English pilgrims traveling ot the Americas for freedom of religion. I propose that that is the source of imense blessings not only to the modern-day United States but to the entire world. When Christianity accompanied colonization by and large it offered service to the natives being colonized. Except where theocracies dominated, Christianity has proven iteself to be the world’s brother’s keeper.

    I sense your being disheartebned by the displacement of Native American religion with that of Christianity. Why so? Native american eschtology has not done nearly so much for the world as has Christianity. When Christianity is offered freely and based upon one’s free will and choice, there is no better path to follow in the world, period. And all that “whiteness’ which is what initially embraced Christianity has proven to be the source of true freedom for all. Freedom, even civil rights freedom, comes from God, not man and no other group in the world better understands this than does the Christian.

    “You may have had the experience of being told that you are not Christian because you are LDS.”

    Boy, have I ever. And in all those situations, it boils down to the gudance of the Holy Spirit. What does that perfect being of the Godhead tell the children of the Most High God? (*ALL* of God’s children, even Native Americans)? That the father sent His Only Begotten in the flesh to not only die and suffer for all but that He held the priesthood authority which He have to mortal man to administer on His behalf. for a time the authroity to use this priesthood power was taken from the earth but in God’s own due time, has been restored. This is a point of joy an rejoicing. I have found it best to share these truths and invite all to partake. No matter what others decide, we are to be their brothers in Christ and love them as Christ would love them. What I gather is that you feel a sense of shame to tell others about the restoration. I think this can be best overcome by rendering your service to God and others. To glorify your God by serving Him and others and to bare simple and plain testimony of the divine truth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. And to bare it often. The key, I think, is to open yourself up to the Holy Spirit and to live by its promptings.

    I have come across quite a lot of people who believe what they believe is correct. That’s fine. As LDs you adhire to the following: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” I find great comfort in this to know that it is the very will of God that all man be free to worship him according to their conscience. i tell people plainly that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is te only true church on the face ofthe earth. I’vve yet ot meet anyone who is offended by hearing that for no matter what they choose to do from that point on, it will not alter our friendship or trust in any way. I fail to see why it would except, perhaps, a few extreme cases which I’ve yet to encounter. for those who are openly hostile to my faith, I simply don’t hang around them nor make them any part of my core friendship. I blog regularly with people of various Christian faiths and overall the level of respect for one another’s faith is very high. Why should it not be?

  • Darren

    (con’t)

    “Where I have concerns is when it comes to positing an original biblical (or Egyptian) language behind the language/s of Native Americans. It just isn’t so for one thing, at least not in the case of any Native American language that I have heard of; and for another thing it is all too convenient for subjecting native peoples. There is then the risk of subjection being passed off as restoration—and Restoration with a capital R too, given that language and culture, including religion, are inseparable. ”

    I think that’s a valid concern. First off, I do not believe that the Book of Mormon is a record of all Native american people. Quite ot the contrary, I firmly believe in a limited geographical model when visualizing the Book of Mormon. Any supposition regarding the Book of mormon covering all the Americas is just that, supposition. There is not textual support for it nor has the LDS Church said any such thing. John L. Sorensen has mnasterfully placed together an argument of the Book of mormon taking place in Mesoamerica in an area not larger than Idaho. His lastest and most likely his last work on the subject is due to be published this September and it will be called Mormon’s Codex. Sorensen will over 420 archeological evidences to support his claims and footnotes over 90 pages of his sources. I also strongly recommend watching Brian P. Stubbs presenting at a FAIR Conference linguistic links between the Uto-Aztecan Indian language fanily and tat of Hebrew, Arabic, and Egyptian. His research is p[henominal. Stubbs is currently part of a team to reconstruct the Uto-Aztecan language family which covers around 30 Native American dialiects ranging from northern Mexico to the Utes in Utah. The following is a link which may be helpful as well:

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/authors/?authorID=58

    I agree it is unreasonable to assume that all Native american tribes originally spoke Hebrew. There’s simpy way too much linguistic evidence to even come close to such a conclusion, and, frankly, no LDS scholar thinks any such thing.

    “For what it’s worth, I do not think that LDS belief in a pre-mortal life as literal children of God can be found in the Bible, not because the Bible has been corrupted (which it definitely has in terms of textual criticism), but because such a belief does not seem to have been there in the first place. From what I have seen, the ‘sons of God’ refer to angels. Angels may masquerade on earth as humans. Aside from a few writings like the Prayer of Joseph, however, humans are not angels in disguise and do not pre-exist. That is my understanding of the Bible anyhow. ”

    Don’t forget that the “sons of God” also procreated with the daughters of man as per Genesis 6. that closes the gap significantly between the gods and man being species-unique. Also, Acts 17 declares man to be the offsprig of God. The greek word “genos” means family, kind, or ‘descendents of a common ancestor’.

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=19&num=1&id=644

    When coming across a blind person, apostles of Jesus Christ asked, “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?”. why would that even begin to make any sense unless there was preknowledge of that man having existed before mortal conception? This and a couple other biblical passages make far more sense knowing the pre-mortal existence as restored to man via Joseph Smith.

    “Let me say that for its exclusivity, Mormonism is also rather universalist, which I like. But all can be saved only if they convert to Mormonism sooner or later, which I don’t like as much. So there’s that. ”

    and I say that being mormon has *nothing* to do with salvation. It is a matter of what the lord god wants man to do and has opened up for man to do for his salvation by divine grace. The Holy One of Israel (jesus Christ) has always required his people to enter into covenant with Him and keep those covenants. God (Jesus Christ) appeared to Abraham and covenanted with him that all who receive his gospel shall become as Abraham’s seed. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a fulfillment of this covenant. Even traditional Christianity understands that coming unto Christ is essentially a return to Israel. So it is not “being a Mormon” which saves. Not one iota but what covenant one enters into and keep which accesses man to God’s infinite grace which saves through the blood of the Lamb of God. These covenants are found in part via the form of baptism and martial sealings done by the priesthood of the Son of God which Joseph Smith received.

    “Knowing what Jesus taught some centuries ago I find to be a difficult thing. I am wary of any argument, from any side, be it far left, far right, or anywhere in between, that is based on what Jesus is supposed to have taught. So I won’t make one. Jesus is like a trump card that can be used with any hand.”

    By being prayerful and using the resources in front of you, ergo, the holy scriptures, you may very well learn what Jesus taught centuries ago. The Holy Spirit is as alive today as He was when appeared in the form of a dove to testify of the Only Begotten whom the Father sent to glorify His name. God has preserved the scriptures specifically for you, gwesley to read and study. God had gwesley in mind when He sent His prophets to declare and record His word. To choose to squander it will not only leave you aloft but will guarantee lifelong confusion and though I absolutely render no judgement upon you (I have myself to worry about and that’s it) but I fail to see how forlorning holy writ will help you in your eternal sojourn.

  • TT

    Darren, so after reading your last response it is unclear to me why you don’t think you believe in white supremacy.

    “Christianity had nothing to do with colonization except for the unique situation of the English pilgrims traveling ot the Americas for freedom of religion. ”

    I think you’re skipping a few things in this summary of history.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

    #12 may be more irony than I can handle in one morning. Stepping away.

  • g.wesley

    Darren,

    You are clearly passionate about your views, and thanks for what I perceive to be some amicable and sincere recommendations for me in your last comments. Don’t take it personally if, as the Fox does to Badger, I hear what you’re saying, and you’re concerns are valid, but I ignore your advice.

    There are several things that we will disagree on I suspect. Rather than try to debate them, let me just summarize my thoughts in this post and the two prior posts that I linked to, with a bit of background. I give three cheers for Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, but a lot of what it says about colonization and colonialization makes me squeamish. I wrote this post after reading some of the Oxford Very Short Introductions on the topics of Native Americans, etc., which I highly recommend if you’re like my and would enjoy knowing more about the topic but it will never be a forte. Also, this post is a follow-up to another post on John Sorensen’s FAIR presentation re: Mormon’s Codex, where I have some thoughts about his bold and intriguing proposition.

  • Darren

    “I give three cheers for Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon”

    Sweet, so do I. ;>)

    “but I ignore your advice.”

    It’s your decision to do what you think is best. All the best to you.

    “but a lot of what it says about colonization and colonialization makes me squeamish”

    Much of how colonization makes me squeam as well. No doubt much pain and suffering came from it. You do realize that God condemns the American colonists and the suffering they inflicted upon the Native Amercans, correct? I think the overall presentation that the Book of Mormon is one of colonization and forced religion is grossly erroneous.

    “Also, this post is a follow-up to another post on John Sorensen’s FAIR presentation re: Mormon’s Codex, where I have some thoughts about his bold and intriguing proposition.”

    I’d be very interested in your thoughts. Is there a link?

  • Darren

    Chris;

    “#12 may be more irony than I can handle in one morning. Stepping away.”

    Oh, come on. Pop the cap off an IBC root beer and enjoy the presentation.

  • Darren

    TT;

    “I think you’re skipping a few things in this summary of history.”

    Such as…

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  • TT

    “Such as…”

    Well, if we want to ignore the whole process of the christianization of Europe and just focus on the past 500 years, it is a bit more extensive than you suggest, including not only North America, but South America, Africa, India, south east Asia, Australia, and almost every where else. This article is pretty weak, but is a start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_colonialism

  • g.wesley

    Thanks Darren.

    There are hyper-links to the earlier posts in this post above. I’ll watch for any comments you may leave.

    Again, I appreciate the common ground here, when you say:

    “Much of how colonization makes me squeam as well. No doubt much pain and suffering came from it. You do realize that God condemns the American colonists and the suffering they inflicted upon the Native Amercans, correct? I think the overall presentation that the Book of Mormon is one of colonization and forced religion is grossly erroneous.”

    I do think that some of what the Book of Mormon says about coloni(ali)zation is critical. Besides the story of Zeniff that I mentioned above (still there is the issue of Lamanite land somehow belonging to him), I have in mind for instance the Nephite law against slavery (Alma 27:9), which would have been ahead of its time even in the nineteenth century US. And there is no doubt that the Book of Mormon is wonderfully shocking in whom it calls Gentiles and whom it calls Israelites.

    About God condemning “the American colonists and the suffering they inflicted upon the Native Amercans,” as you put it, my worry is that the Book of Mormon actually says Native Americans had it coming for their supposed apostasy from Christianity. Such as this passage in 1 Nephi 13:

    “ 12 And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.
    13 And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.
    14 And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.”

    OK, this does not just worry me. And it is not just this passage. To say that Native Americans “were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten” according to God’s wrath is simply messed up. I don’t see any way around it. Perhaps the euphemism of ‘scattering’ makes it so that it does not leap out to all readers as wrong, but in a sense that makes it more pernicious.

    Now, about “forced religion,” to quote you once more, I would agree that it is not an apt summary of the Book of Mormon. Off the top of my head I cannot think of anyone in the Book of Mormon being forced to convert to Christianity. But Christianization does not have to be forced to be problematic.

  • Darren

    TT;

    From your link via the omniscient Wikipedia:

    “Christianity and colonialism are often closely associated because Catholicism and Protestantism were the religions of the European colonial powers[1] and acted in many ways as the “religious arm” of those powers.[2] According to Edward Andrews, Christian missionaries were initially portrayed as “visible saints, exemplars of ideal piety in a sea of persistent savagery”. However, by the time the colonial era drew to a close in the last half of the twentieth century, missionaries became viewed as “ideological shock troops for colonial invasion whose zealotry blinded them”,[3] colonialism’s “agent, scribe and moral alibi.”[4]”

    Is not that what I said? That Christianity when accompanied colonization served as rendering service to the natived who were colonized and except for teholocratic situations, the Christianity has proven itself to be their brother’s keeper.

  • TT

    Darren,
    Christians and Christianity were agents of slavery, slaughter, and oppression in colonialism far beyond theocratic situations, whatever exactly you mean by that. The “services” to the “natives” was of course justified by your same logic, of making them better off. Colonialism’s past and present history is not so great, and unfortunately Christianity has played a central role in justifying and promoting this colonial agenda. I’m afraid the “natives” were not always so appreciative as they were dying or in chains.
    This is not to say that this history is not complicated, and that Christianity’s scorecard is solely in the negative column. Heck, scholars are as guilty in colonialism as churches. Rather, it is to say that it is by no means unequivocally in the positive column, as you believe.

  • Darren

    “To say that Native Americans “were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten” according to God’s wrath is simply messed up.”

    I would concure that this is perhaps difficult for us to counderstand why God would pour out His wratch upon an entire race of people. Truth be told, if people don’t reject God they don’t get God’s wrath. Of course this is not the fault of future descendents of for their ancestors rejecting God and I do not pretend to know in full why this is just but to me it’s alike parents making bad decisions and thus their children and future decendents suffer. You can all this God’s wrath or nature. Either way it doesn’t really make a difference to me. And don’t forget the wrath of God killed the white race in the Book of Mormon as well. It s also impossible for finite beings to obtain an infinite understanding of the eternities. God has things planned out and it is all for the ultimate salvation of all His children.

    ” 31 Neither will he suffer that the Gentiles shall destroy the seed of thy brethren.” (1 Nephi 13). The way I see it, like the Jews, descendents of Lehi (the Jaradites too) had the fulness of the gospel, rejected it, and thus it was given otothers to return the descendents into the Lord’s covenant. Exactly why this requires so much suffering I don’t know but it has happaened and we are seeing the end game of the Jews and the Lamanites.
    ” 41 And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth. 42 And the time cometh that he shall manifest himself unto all nations, both unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles; and after he has manifested himself unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles, then he shall manifest himself unto the Gentiles and also unto the Jews, and the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.”

  • Darren

    TT;

    “Christians and Christianity were agents of slavery, slaughter, and oppression in colonialism far beyond theocratic situations, whatever exactly you mean by that. ”

    True. That’s what theocracies do. We’re blessed not to have one. And by that I’d liketo include not having an atheistic government. Those are the worse of them all. By in large christianity was NOT the means to enslave and kill people, to the contrary, it was the inspiration for liberation millions upon millions upon milions. ALL modern-day (mjor) democracies were created by Christian nations and countries like India and Japan hasd democracies forced upon them which they later came ot accept and continue on their own volition. Countries like South Korea were heavily influenced by Christian nations like the US as well as Christian groups, North Korea rejected such influence. Christianity heavily influenced the emancipation of slaves in the US as well as spur the civil rights movement. More than any other people on earth, Christians know the true source of freedm and that is God, not society or government.

    “The “services” to the “natives” was of course justified by your same logic, of making them better off.”

    Now I think you’re skipping portions of history. Christianity which accopmanied colonization for wealth and political power, served as bettering the natives. This was done seflessly and things like Manifest Destiny were perversions of Christianity. It was political, not religious. Christianity set up missions and made available lots of resources to serve others.

    “I’m afraid the “natives” were not always so appreciative as they were dying or in chains.”

    What Christian church placed natives in chains and made them die? You mean the Mormons who allowed slavery in Utah? The Church did not do that, the voice of the peole did that and the conscience of the people governed the creation of vast legal protections on behalf of the slaves. Abraham lincolcn’s conscience before the Christian God would not permit him to allow blacks to return to slavery and thus he broke his promise not to use the Civil War to war in order to free the slaves. Christianity as a whole was and still is power force for freedom.

  • Darren

    For the record, I do not like how colonization was executed but nor do I ignore the great blessings it offered to the natives. I don’t know of any Native American cause for industrialization and thus able to type posts on Patheos from two different parts of the world. Go figure.

  • Darren

    gwesley;

    “There are hyper-links to the earlier posts in this post above. I’ll watch for any comments you may leave.

    I stll cant find the hyperlink. Could you repost on below and / or provide a title? I don’t mind at all Binging the article you’re referring to. I already tried FAIR’s website but cannot seem to locate a John L Sorensen presentation in blogging form. Then again, I’m really not the most computer savy person on the planet. In fact, I’m far from it. I’m no Al Gore. ;>)

  • g.wesley

    It’s not so much that I have a hard time understanding as I just plain don’t believe that God poured out his wrath on an entire race. In fact, I think that such belief can be extremely dangerous. Believing that divine wrath is behind past conquest or war or violence enacted by humans against humans is liable to lead to more of the same.

  • Darren

    ” In fact, I think that such belief can be extremely dangerous. ”

    I agree it can be taken to very dangerous levels. Thus the blessing of having *living* prophets to guide us.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

    I agree with Darren, if genocide can result in things like the Internet…maybe genocide is not so bad.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

    Is the purpose of prophets to let us know when it is okay to oppressed, butcher, and enslave? Such things are ALWAYS evil. No matter what.

  • g.wesley
  • Darren

    “Is the purpose of prophets to let us know when it is okay to oppressed, butcher, and enslave?”

    ???

    Could you even remotely begin to show who said such a thing?

    “Such things are ALWAYS evil. No matter what.”

    Guess I’ll start substituting “Chris Henrichsen” for “Heavenly Father”. Chris obviously knows more than God.

  • Darren

    gewesley;

    Duh, it was your cheers link above. Told ya’ I wasn’t the most computer savy person online.

    Thanks for the links.

  • Clark

    (Note: I’ve not read the comments yet)

    An other way to read the text is to see it as a text about the *failure* of colonialism and its flaws. For instance one could and probably should read the Lamanites as colonists who were absorbed by the local inhabitants. Ditto the muelikites who more or less lose their identity (assuming they weren’t just feeding the Nephites a loose and fast one). Even the Nephites according to the text itself are a minority who end up destroyed because of their own wickedness – often because of how they treat the Lamanites.

    When the Gentiles show up on the scene, they are initially triumphant but (according to the text) primarily due to the problems of the “lamanites.” Yet the Gentiles end up falling prey to the same problems the Nephites did and are actually overthrown and destroyed according to the text. Indeed that’s the main message of the text.

    Even when we take passages like Mos 24:4-6 what does that mean? Is “language of Nephi” literally the language (i.e. grammar and dictionary) of the Nephites? Or is it the ability to write? I think the latter makes more sense than the former. Although it may also reflect a priestly language, much like priests in the Catholic church were taught Latin so they could understand the religious teachings but (outside of Mass) the people were communicated with in their own language. After all Mosiah 24 indicates they weren’t really taught religion but were given the ability to “keep their record and that they might write one to another.” This doesn’t seem a broad sense of language to the people. Further it’s main use seems to be in trade.

    All that said I think the text does indicate the importance of writing as a way of preserving religious culture (even though in practice I’m sure it changed significantly over time)

  • Ruby

    DARREN- the systematic destruction of MY people(which is called genocied) by the white man REALLY, REALLY happened. What’s worse is that the white man did it in THE NAME OF GOD. You can reference your warm fuzzies all you want but to say that Christianity had no play in this is complete and utter ignorance. Who gave the caucasians the right to come into a country that was inhabited by many people the right to destroy them? To kill them? To rape their women and snatch their children? Can we please look at history and see what happened. I am at a LOSS for what happened to my ancestors. Yet, here you are, justifying everything that was done because that’s how it was supposed to turn out. You are the worst of racist because you don’t see how flawed you are in your arguments. Did you study American history at all?? Manifest Destiny was used to as an iron fist to rule the natives. You quoted something Chris said (hi professor! it’s me again!) and say “where did this happen?” UM- America. The same country you and I live in. They oppressed. They butchered. They lied. They deceived. Should we see what Teddy Roosevelt did to the Filipino kids while we were taking over? He allowed children to be killed. Should we take a look at irreverent Andrew Jackson?? The guy who caused the Trail of Tears? Should we look at good ol’ Thomas Jefferson, TJ as I like to call him, how he encouraged the natives to mix with whites to purify their future generations?? (or the fact that it has been proven that he had children with his slave Sally Hemings). It’s time you take the blinders off buddy. It’s time you start to look at our history, every single piece included. I can’t be completely hateful towards the white man because his blood also flows through my veins. I became a part of the family when my great great grandfather took my great great grandmother as a piece of property and forced her to have his children. That’s a great legacy to leave behind, don’t you think? You are so self righteous that you make me literally sick. The fact that there are people who believe like you in our church just goes to show how much love God really has for all of His children because I definitely don’t have to like you or agree with you yet I’ll let you take up some space in my church in the hope that your mind may be opened, your heart softened, and your racist ways diminished.

  • TT

    Thank you Ruby!

  • Darren

    Ruby;

    “DARREN- the systematic destruction of MY people(which is called genocied) by the white man REALLY, REALLY happened”

    Who denies that the Native Americans were unjustly attacked by the White man? Not only have I not said anything ofthe such but I have stated more than once that I do not agree with how colonialism took place. You must consider that before reproving me with istorical facts. By not doing it you’re only telling me what I already know and condemn.

    “What’s worse is that the white man did it in THE NAME OF GOD. ”

    Yes, and, again, Ruby, what did I say regarding Manifest Destiny? – “and things like Manifest Destiny were perversions of Christianity. It was political, not religious. Christianity set up missions and made available lots of resources to serve others. ” (post #25) – So, please, spare me the barage of moral lecturies, I’m on your side with this, Ruby.

    “You can reference your warm fuzzies all you want but to say that Christianity had no play in this is complete and utter ignorance. ”

    Again READ-WHAT-I-WROTE: “Christianity had nothing to do with colonization except for the unique situation of the English pilgrims traveling ot the Americas for freedom of religion. I propose that that is the source of imense blessings not only to the modern-day United States but to the entire world. When Christianity accompanied colonization by and large it offered service to the natives being colonized. Except where theocracies dominated, Christianity has proven iteself to be the world’s brother’s keeper. ” (post #12) – I explicitly made exceptions for American colonization and theocracies. But beyond that, I stand by what I said that Christianity had nothing to do with colonization. If it did, please show me how but don’t give me moral guilt by talking how your people was killed by whites. That’s pointless as it results in nothing in discussion.

    “Can we please look at history and see what happened.”

    Absolutely

    “Yet, here you are, justifying everything that was done because that’s how it was supposed to turn out. ‘

    Obviously you have not included the history of what I’ve posted. You can start there. It’s not that hard to reread my posts in this thread, you know.

    “Manifest Destiny was used to as an iron fist to rule the natives.”

    Gee, whose that Darren poster who condemned Manifest Destiny? Let me know when you find out, I like his posts.

    ““where did this happen?” UM- America”

    You see, reflecting upon your story how how your people were destroyed has do absolutely nothing to further any discussion. You say “America”. Great, any examples beyond what I’ve already condemned? Your prejudgment has clearly left you cold and blind to my arguments.

    “Should we see what Teddy Roosevelt did to the Filipino kids while we were taking over? ”

    I severy dislike Teddy Rosevelt. He was a Progressive who tend to disdain the US Constitution and thus you see the result of oppression and butchery. Franklin, also a Progressive, sent the Japanese to prison camp just for being Japanese. Now, just where does Christianity play in this? Teddy was on a Crusade in the Filipines? Nope, nor in Cuba. Franklin imprisioned the Japanese because Franklin was christian? Nope. All their motives were political; not religious. So, what role did Christianity play in killing Filipinos and enslaving Japanese Amercans?

    “Should we take a look at irreverent Andrew Jackson??”

    Absolutely disgusting moment in US history. But, again, what role did Christianity play in that? Anything? You’ve cited, to this point…absolutely nothing.

    “Should we look at good ol’ Thomas Jefferson, TJ as I like to call him, how he encouraged the natives to mix with whites to purify their future generations?? (or the fact that it has been proven that he had children with his slave Sally Hemings)”

    Absolutely not true that “it was proven” he had a child with a female slave and I’ve no idea what you’re talking about regarding purifying the Indian race. Even if he did, what role did Christianity play in either of this?

    “I can’t be completely hateful towards the white man because his blood also flows through my veins.”

    Indian blood flows through the veins of my wife and thus our five children but that’s not why I don’t hate them. Seems to me you got some deep-seeded detestation to work on. D owhat you gotta do but projecting it on me won’t help. That much I can guarantee.

    “You are so self righteous that you make me literally sick.”

    LoL – Look in the mirror, lady. If we ever meet I’ll give you a really big hug. Hope that’ll help.

    “yet I’ll let you take up some space in my church in the hope that your mind may be opened, your heart softened, and your racist ways diminished”

    Ruby, you’re utterly prejudgemental fallacies have proven nothing. Not a thing. I don’t need your permission to take up space in the LDS Church nor do I remotely care to seek any such permission. Nor do I care for patronizing me and my soul. Spare me. I think between you and I we’ve seen vitriol and hate and it ain’t from me, lady.

  • Darren

    TT;

    “Thank you Ruby!”

    Yeah, what a post that was.

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