The challenge of the Book of Mormon

The challenge of the Book of Mormon September 28, 2017

 

Knaphus Moroni
Torleif Knaphus’s statue of the Angel Moroni stands atop the Hill Cumorah near Palmyra, New York.
(Wikimedia Commons)

 

It’s Thursday, so another of my mean-spirited, rage-fueled columns has appeared in the Deseret News:

 

“‘Joseph Smith, American Prophet’ shares story of Restoration, to air on PBS”

 

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If you’re in the area(s), you might find this of interest:

 

“BYU Creates a Full-Sized Tabernacle of Moses You Can Tour”

 

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Here’s some additional fodder for your already bulging Christopher Hitchens Memorial “Religion Poisons Everything” file:

 

“Latter-day Saints Provide Famine Relief in Africa, Middle East: LDS Charities partners with global relief organizations”

 

“Mormon apostle’s visit requested by Peruvian president”

 

“Mormons Around the World Country Newsroom Websites September 22, 2017”

 

You can learn more about such things here:  https://www.lds.org/topics/humanitarian-service?lang=eng&old=true.

 

Also here:  https://www.ldscharities.org

 

If you wish to join in this wickedness, I give you, once again, a link where you can contribute:  https://ldsphilanthropies.org

 

Or, on a more local basis, consider this:  https://www.justserve.org

 

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Some of you may find this article helpful:

 

“When I Heard My Deceased Daughter’s Voice: The Profound Lesson She Shared”

 

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Some will get a kick out of this:

 

“269 Words: The Shortest Talk in the History of General Conference?”

 

Watch the video of the talk.  It’s clearly a parable, and a good one.

 

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Finally, from another of my several manuscripts-in-process:

 

For years, Professor Nibley gave an assignment to students in his Book of Mormon classes which would earn them an “A” grade in the course. It went essentially as follows:

Since Joseph Smith was younger than most of you and not nearly so experienced or well-educated as any of you at the time he copyrighted the Book of Mormon, it should not be too much to ask you to hand in by the end of the semester (which will give you more time than he had) a paper of, say, five to six hundred pages in length. Call it a sacred book if you will, and give it the form of a history. Tell of a community of wandering Jews in ancient times; have all sorts of characters in your story, and involve them in all sorts of public and private vicissitudes; give them names—hundreds of them—pretending that they are real Hebrew and Egyptian names of circa 600 B.C.; be lavish with cultural and technical details—manners and customs, arts and industries, political and religious institutions, rites, and traditions, include long and complicated military and economic histories; have your narrative cover a thousand years without any large gaps; keep a number of interrelated local histories going at once; feel free to introduce religious controversy and philosophical discussion, but always in a plausible setting; observe the appropriate literary conventions and explain the derivation and transmission of your varied historical materials. Above all, do not ever contradict yourself! For now we come to the really hard part of this little assignment. You and I know that you are making this all up—we have our little joke—but just the same you are going to be required to have your paper published when you finish it, not as fiction or romance, but as a true history! After you have handed it in you may make no changes in it (in this class we always use the first edition of the Book of Mormon); what is more, you are to invite any and all scholars to read and criticize your work freely, explaining to them that it is a sacred book on a par with the Bible. If they seem over-skeptical, you might tell them that you translated the book from original records by the aid of the Urim and Thummim—they will love that! Further to allay their misgivings, you might tell them that the original manuscript was on golden plates, and that you got the plates from an angel. Now go to work and good luck!

He reports that, for some reason, no student ever took him up on that assignment.[1]

 

[1] Hugh Nibley, “The Book of Mormon: True or False?” in Hugh Nibley, The Prophetic Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1989), 221-222.

 

 

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