Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Are We Really Serious about the Book of Mormon?

Many members of the Church are reading the whole Book of Mormon again before the end of the year, which is great. But I am convinced that the Church as a whole still takes it "lightly" as described in Doctrine and Covenants 84:
49 And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin.

50 And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me.

51 For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin.

52 And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me.

53 And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now.

54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received�

55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.

56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.

57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.
This is a call for action, not just reading. Until we live by the teachings of the Book of Mormon, we are still taking it lightly.

One example of how lightly we take it involves the issue of "secret combinations." This topic is one of the most frequently discussed topics in the text. The editors wanted to press upon our minds that power-hungry secret combinations among the elite and powerful caused the utter destruction of two different civilizations, and would be a critical threat to the liberty of all lands and nations in our day. Yet this topic, more than any other in the text, is treated with supreme superficiality. Esteemed commentaries on the Book gloss over the issue with a vague reference to evil in general. Sunday School discussions briefly mention the Mafia as bad actors to avoid, and then move on (the class will nod in agreement - yeah, those secret combination Mafia guys sure are nasty). Members have been trained to think of anything touching upon "conspiracy theories" as the work of nut cases, and instantly shift gears to some other topic.

But what is the threat to liberty in our days? What are the things that we are supposed to use every means to root out? Are there secret societies and combinations in our world our nation that should cause us grief? This is an off-limits topic - a sign of our unwillingness to take the Book of Mormon as seriously as its editors did, or as seriously as we are commanded to, IMO.

To me, one of the most powerful evidences of the divinity of the Book of Mormon is its amazingly prophetic nature. It was edited for our day, and it is becoming more relevant as we move forward in time, not less. The role of secret combinations, the usurpation of power, the intrigues among the movers and shakers of society, the rise of exorbitant taxes and corrupted political structures, the menace of elite and atheistic "dissenters" who aid external enemies and corrupt internal politics, the networks of lawyers and merchants seeking gain and pleasure at the expense of others, the suppression of religious liberties, the guerrilla tactics of external enemies, and many other details in the Book of Mormon are much more relevant in this century than they were in 1830. These prophetic elements are so accurately described as to be far beyond anything Joseph could have synthesized out of his environment. The book has profound implications for our day and the dangers we face. If we ignore it, we will lose our liberties and suffer greatly in the future. If we listen to its message, then there is a chance that we can fulfill the mandate in Ether 8. But ignorance and inaction will cost us dearly.

So what do all the warnings about secret combinations really mean? Well, the answer is -- oh, dinner time, got to run.

36 comments:

RoastedTomatoes said...

The answer to your title question is: yes.

Eric said...

Ether 8 is what solidified my testimony in the Book of Mormon. I believe Moroni was absolutly serious about his warnings to us about secret combinations. This isn't organized crime like the mafia, but bona-fied secret societies such as Skull and Bones.

America certaintly was a rightious nation, like the nations of the Nephites, and at the epitomy of its prosperity secret combinations have risen up to unintentionally destroy it from within, just like the Gadianton Robbers did the Nephites.

Some conspiracy theories are entirely off the wall, but many are far from theoretical and founded upon strong evidence. I'd like to suggest that we all take it up to investigate these 'theories'. Forget CNN, Fox, and other mainstream news networks, dig around the independent news sources and see what you find.

Here are two news sites to get started with:

http://www.indymedia.org/en/index.shtml
http://www.prisonplanet.tv

While I'm not sure how much any grass roots movement could effect change on the present course of events, we can at least become educated in different points of view and discuss possibilities. I think Doctrine and Covenants nicely says:

"79) Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things hwich are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms-- 80) That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you and the mission with which I have commissioned you. 81) Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who has been warned to warn his neighbor."

We are commanded to learn of all things, and to testify and warn of all things so as to magnify our calling. In Ether 8:24, the Lord commands us that "when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall aware to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up." We each have been called to learn of the secret combination that will seek to destroy our freedoms. I agree with Jeff, lets get serious about all topics in the Book of Mormon.

Jared* said...

Pardon me if I sound a little like George Bush here, but the problem with secret combinations is that they are secret.

But more to your point, I think the nation does take such things seriously. There are constant calls for transparency in our government and calls for independent investigations. Then there are the corporate shake-ups of late. I think these are good signs.

Schuyler said...

We have become numb in many ways to the secret combinations that abound. What is scary is many brazenly flaunt their intentions and we ignore them. Consider what is of most importance to us. Most will answer, "our children." Yet think of the power organizations will have if they can control a whole generation of young minds? Are there secret combinations plotting to decide what your children should be taught, how they should think, act and behave?

I recently read a history text one of my children was studying. I kept seeing dates like 60 B.C.E and 1776 C.E. I knew what BC and AD stood for, but out of ignorance I finally asked my son what BCE and CE stood for. He said "Before Common Era" and "Common Era." I just about flipped! I didn't realize how serious the establishment was about taking Christ out of society. (He is a pretty scary guy, you know.) So it looks like the first objective is to take Christ out of everything. Next, I listen to "child advocates" promote the idea of allowing our teenaged daughters to have abortions without their parent's knowledge. So first they take away the moral anchor, promote sin-laden behaviors, then when diseases appear as a result, work to teach how to avoid disease while continuing the behavior that propagates it, and then help them end pregancies when all else fails. Meanwhile, young men are not taught responsibility and end up a mess; and young women feel used, debased and guilty or become hardened also ending up a mess. Next, another arm of the secret combination comes to the rescue these poor suffering teenagers enhancing their power and position. The next generation, provided they survived abortion attempts are really screwed up because they didn't know their father (oh, of course, its the state) and their mother...well we needn't go there.

Of course there are other secret combinations such as DuPont, freon and the ozone layer; Natural gas, the non-green-house gas producing energy source (not); Terrorist of all kinds; and of course, the ACLU the promoter of all liberties. (oh, that felt good to write!)

What to do? One of our state senators begged members to regularly contact elected official to voice their opinion because right now they hear only from fringe elements. So, the first thing I recommend is bookmarking you city, county, state and national elected official. Write them often about issues that concern you, but don't use or count on 'canned' emails. I visited my congressman, Tom Udall's office when I was is Washington, DC this past summer. I asked them if they read every email they receive. They said, 'yes,' after a program screens out all of the canned emails.

Vote. Only 10% of registered voters voted in last week's election to elect Albuquerque's mayor, their city counselors, and to decide issues and bonds. It looks like there is plent of room for the righteous to make a difference.

The only way to destroy these secret combinations is for the people (ie. silent majority) to make a stand to let sunshine act as a disinfectant against that which diseases society. Unless the majority are wicked, we can win.

Dan said...

There's something to be said for having a positive outlook on life and seeing the good in those around us. But, as mentioned, the Book of Mormon does provide us with many warnings that we must heed. So how we do we know when it's time to try and see the brighter side of things and when it's time to fight? I think we can look to our leaders for guidance. Our prophets' instructions seem to be the opposite of the attitude taken in the post with the exception of rooting out the secret combinations in the media. While we don't have to wait for the prophet's call in order to be "anxiously engaged," he does provide us with a good reality check to make sure our passions don't get the best of us.

AlexG said...

To me secret combinations can have different connotations. On a larger societal scale, there are configuration of interests, such as groups lobbying in the Congress, that could be classified as such. But on a smaller and potentially more damaging are all of us that network infrequently against the Lord. When we decide to go against what the Lord has counsel through his prophets, and find the forum in where we can further discuss it, we are not so far of being part of a 'secret combination.' When we back bite, when we criticise we are leading our selves into those things that are contrary to what the Book of Mormon teaches.

To take the book of Mormon seriously is to understand how we can avoid all the pitfalls experienced by the Nephites. Are we self righteous because we belong to the Church? Then we should go back to see what happened to the Zoramites. Their pride in believing that they were 'more righteous' and their disregard to the law that they had, perverting the ordinances and so forth makes them an example of what we might become if we begin to think ourselves better than others. 3 Nephi 8 conditions can prevail when we turn from that which the Lord has taught. It is not sufficient that we have a 'testimony' but that we are converted. Alma 34:28 - 31 gives the necessary steps to realise the this. Similar statements are done through out the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin also comes to mind. Do we "quake and tremble" with the thought of our neighbors and relatives that have not heard the gospel like the son of Mosiah?

In any case, we should not only read and pray about a testimony of the Book of Mormon, but actually DO what it teaches. As Jeff states D&C 84:57 is a clear commandment from the Lord.

Curtis said...

Couldn't refrain from this topic. The Church general membership misses this topic entirely in my estimation. In Ether 8 Moroni speaks of movement with the purpose of taking away the freedom of all lands, nations and countries. This secret combination will be among us. The Book of Mormon says that these combinations will be among us in the Church! Mormon 8:35-41. Read all about it. We apparently build up secret abominations to get gain and the sword of vengeance hangs over us.

A few years back there was a secret trade agreement that Clinton was supportive of called the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). It made all nations responsible for the reimbursement of profits the company could have made if that nation had laws like everywhere else. These laws would include minimum wage, environmental, labor laws etc. Nothing would be sacred. If a governing body was even thinking of making a law that would hurt a corporation's profitablity, they could be sued up front. NAFTA provides a little insight into how that would work. The freedom of nations and governments to make their own laws would have been abolished.

Fortunately, this back room dealing was brought to light and entire city councils across northern america enacted resolutions condemning the MAI and it died.

Unfortunately, the movement still continues in the form of making corporations filthy rich at the expense of life, more so in 3rd world countries, but even in our own country. Money is more sacred than life in this secret combination. This is embodied in the economic system we live in. We are like the Nephites of the 'Terrible book of Helaman', who were all card carrying members of the Gadianton society but were essentially oblivious to it. That is the way we are now.
Great massacres of humanity, wars, poverty and all of Satan's promises in the Garden of Eden, are among us now because man loves money and suffers the humble and afflicted to pass him by and notices him not.

One example (among numberless examples). United Fruit Co. in the 1950's didn't like the popular government of Guatemala was enacting and therefore lobbied in congress to have the government of Guatemala overthrown. We did and installed a murderous military dictatorship which killed 200,000 people and kept it's people in terror for a few decades. All in the name of making a profit.

These are the same types of combinations that prospered in the Book of Mormon. 4 Nephi is very educational on this point. Verse 46: "And it came to pass that the robbers of Gadianton did spread over all the face of the land; and there were none that were righteous save it were the disciples of Jesus. And gold and silver did they lay up in store in abundance, and did traffic in all manner of traffic."
The chief characteristic of S.C.'s mentioned here? Free trade and the ability to get filthy rich.

Read the scriptures. This pattern is all over the place, starting with the father of secret combinations, Cain, who said, "Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain."

Jared* said...

I would also add that it seems to me that part of taking the Book of Mormon seriously is being careful in using the label of "secret combination." If applied indiscriminately to any political, economic, or social movement one happens to disagree with, it becomes a useless term.

The Book of Mormon describes certain characteristics that secret combinations have, including murder and stealing. We should maintaining and enforce laws against such.

Curtis said...

Good point Jared.

Now, to truly get to the purpose behind the Lord's pronouncement in section 84 though, I think those verses need to be taken in context. The context shows the antidote for the condemnation we are under. The Lord says:

61 For I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment—that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you.

Preaching the Gospel is the key here. In fact the entire rest of the section speaks about missionary work. And, if you think about it, the Book of Mormon is like a big missionary text. It teaches us the how and the why and the what and is full of examples. You can hardly open the book without reading about missionary work. Christ accused the Pharisees of not really being the Children of Abraham because they didn't do Abraham's works. Everywhere Abraham went, he went with the souls he had won in that place. He was a great missionary. Will we be the Children of Abraham?

On the other hand, the preceeding verses speak of hearkening to the voice of the Spirit and says the Word of God we are to cling to is the Light of Christ. Our minds were darkened in the past because of treating lightly the things the Spirit had given us. Do we follow well the light of Christ? It would probably lead us to do missionary work. The preceeding verses also speak of the oath and covenant of the priesthood. Following the Light of Christ will teach us how to magnify our calling and receive all the Lord promises there.

Bookslinger said...

"61 For I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment—that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you.

Preaching the Gospel is the key here. In fact the entire rest of the section speaks about missionary work. And, if you think about it, the Book of Mormon is like a big missionary text."


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Tigersue said...

I have often had a hard time with this topic. I love the Book of Mormon, but I love the other standard works as well, and I often find that I end up setting those aside to read the Book of Mormon, nearly constantly. I think as a church we teach the stories of the BOM to our children pretty well, but how well do they know the stories in the New Testament, and even more so in the Old Testament. How hard it is to find balance in reading and studying them all.
We must not wrest the scriptures, we must love them, cherish them, and constantly strive to learn from them.
Secret Combinations are all over, but I think the bigger lesson is to watch, be prepared, and never leave the path the Lord has set for us. The minute we do that problems set in and we can be caught unaware. We must be vigilant, and protective, not apathetic, and lazy. We must always cherish our freedoms, and defend all of them. Defend what is RIGHT, and what is TRUE. When we let morals decline, we let ourselves become more like society, and less like God.

Walker said...

In regards to tigersue's comments on my most wholeheartedly agree, and I would even take it one step further. While I'm definitely no wild-eyed conspiracy theorist (Benjamin Franklin said that the only way to get two Americans to keep the same secret is to shoot one--a little extreme, but mostly true), as long as people seek money over loving human relationships, combinations will exist. Note President Benson: I testify that wickedness is rapidly expanding in every segment of our society. (See D&C 1:14–16; D&C 84:49–53.) It is more highly organized, more cleverly disguised, and more powerfully promoted than ever before. Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing. A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world. (See Ether 8:18–25.)

Curtis said...

Here's what the latest Nobel Laurette for literature, Harold Pinter said about the current situation. Sounds like he's describing secret combinations to me.

As war in Iraq loomed, Pinter said he believed that "Mr. Bush and his gang do know what they're doing, and Blair, unless he really is the deluded idiot he often appears to be, also knows what they're doing."

"They are determined, quite simply, to control the world and the world's resources. And they don't give a damn how many people they murder on the way. And Blair goes along with it," he said.

Richard said...

Great post. I agree that we're seeing everything that was prophesied in the Book of Mormon. Watching the antagonists in the movie "Testaments" (in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in SLC) reminds me perfectly of all these modern perils.

Daniel Peterson said...

Harold Pinter is an idiot.

Curtis said...

How so Daniel?

Daniel Peterson said...

Here are just a few items garnered from about three minutes of searching on the web:

In a recent issue of the UK magazine Granta, in symposium on "What We Think of America," Pinter delivers himself of his view that the United States "is now the most dangerous power the world has ever known--the authentic `rogue state,'" which "has effectively declared war on the world. It knows only one language--bombs and death." The American-led NATO struggle to stop the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo "was in itself illegal, a bandit act, waged outside all recognized parameters of International Law, in defiance of the United Nations, even contravening NATO's own charter." Pinter also declares that the American prison system can accurately be described as "a vast gulag--two million prisoners in fact--a remarkable portion of them black. Rape of young prisoners, both male and female, is commonplace. So is the use of weapons of torture as defined by Amnesty International--stun guns, stun belts, restraint chairs."

In a speech at Hyde Park on 15 February 2003, Pinter declared that "The United States is a monster out of control. Unless we challenge it with absolute determination American barbarism will destroy the world. The country is run by a bunch of criminal lunatics, with Blair as their hired Christian thug. The planned attack on Iraq is an act of premeditated mass murder."

America, he says, is "the greatest source of terrorism on earth."

This is, to put the best face on it, silliness.

I don't doubt that Pinter's absurd anti-Americanism (he refuses to set foot in my fascist country any more) helped him to win the recent Nobel Prize for Literature, just as the otherwise mystifying choice of the amusing minor Italian playwright Dario Fo for a Nobel Prize, a few years back, was probably not unrelated to his extreme Leftism.

The committee that grants the Nobel Prize for Literature has embarrassed itself frequently over its history, from its repeated refusal to give an award to either Emile Zola or Leo Tolstoy (while conferring it upon such luminaries as Selma Lagerlöf, Paul J. L. Heyse, Karl A. Gjellerup, Verner Heidenstam, Frans A. Sillenpää, and Wladyslaw S. Reymont) to its more recent failure (probably for, respectively, political, religious, and religious reasons) to award the Prize to Jorge Luis Borges, Shusako Endo, and Graham Greene. (Instead, in modern times, the Literature Prize has gone to folks like Eyvind Johnson, Harry E. Martinson, and Patrick White.)

Curtis said...

The award of the peace prize to El Baradai was a kick in the shins of sorts to the USA as well.

Well Daniel, it sounds like you don't have much to argue against Pinter besides calling him an idiot and saying his arguements are silliness.

It may be instructive to look at the USA as intellectuals from foreign countries see us for once.

The points he argues are difficult to counter. Our wars in Iraq and Yugoslavia were illegal wars of aggression by all international standards and laws. Do you disagree? The UN Charter, of which we are signators of, expressly prohibits the kinds of wars we waged on those two countries. Yugoslavia was against the NATO charter as well. We have consistently acted like a lunatic power out of control the past few years, giving lipservice to diplomacy but showing a different philosophy with our guns. Our wars have been foolishness, creating misery and destruction and sending many innocent souls to meet their maker.
Surely the scene Pinter depicts is one brought about by a by a secret combination. Whether he speaks the truth or not is for us to research, which would be wiser than to call names and dismiss as sillines.

Ben said...

Pres. Benson has spoken about secret combinations, but so too has one of our current apostles, Elder Ballard.

"The Book of Mormon teaches that secret combinations engaged in crime present a serious challenge, not just to individuals and families but to entire civilizations. Among today’s secret combinations are gangs, drug cartels, and organized crime families. The secret combinations of our day function much like the Gadianton robbers of the Book of Mormon times. They have secret signs and code words. They participate in secret rites and initiation ceremonies. Among their purposes are to “murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country and also the laws of their God.”

"If we are not careful, today’s secret combinations can obtain power and influence just as quickly and just as completely as they did in Book of Mormon times. Do you remember the pattern? The secret combinations began among the “more wicked part” of society, but eventually “seduced the more part of the righteous” until the whole society was polluted"

I believe there are other secret combinations in the world, but it is always good to pay heed to what the prophets have labeled as secret combinations.

Daniel Peterson said...

curtis: "The award of the peace prize to El Baradai was a kick in the shins of sorts to the USA as well."

Probably true, as was the bestowal of the Prize on Mikhail Gorbachev for improvements in relations between the Soviets and the West while passing over Ronald Reagan. I'm not sure that I see the justification for giving the Prize to ElBaradei and the IAEA. Neither he nor his operation have proven particularly effective. Where is their Nobel-worthy achievement? Preventing A. Q. Khan from selling Pakistan's nuclear secrets to the highest bidder? No. They didn't. And he did. Thwarting Kim Jong Il's nuclear ambitions? Nope. Containing Iran's nuclear plans? Hardly. That certainly hasn't happened yet. Putting a stop to Colonel Qaddafi's projects to produce weapons of mass destruction? No, although he did give up those projects. (Hint: It was US and British pressure that made the difference there -- and, very possibly, Qaddafi's observation of what was happening to Saddam's regime in Iraq at the time.)

The Peace Prize has an even sorrier record than does the Literature Prize, in some regards, with laureates including such stellar individuals as Yasser Arafat (who continued until his death, in spite of his own massive corruption, to encourage the targeting of civilians for mass murder), Le Duc Tho (while he was planning the complete conquest of South Vietnam and the construction of the infamous "reeducation camps") and the fraudulent Rigoberta Menchu.

curtis: "Well Daniel, it sounds like you don't have much to argue against Pinter besides calling him an idiot and saying his arguements are silliness."

I regard his comments as self-evidently absurd and historically illiterate. I probably have little to say to anybody who doesn't recognize their silliness and absurd extravagance at first glance.

Incidentally, if he offered actual "arguments" -- i.e., evidence and logical analysis of evidence -- I must have missed it.

curtis: "It may be instructive to look at the USA as intellectuals from foreign countries see us for once."

And your reason for believing that I haven't done and do not do this, frequently if not almost daily, is . . . what, exactly?

curtis: "The points he argues are difficult to counter. Our wars in Iraq and Yugoslavia were illegal wars of aggression by all international standards and laws. Do you disagree?"

Yes.

curtis: "The UN Charter, of which we are signators of, expressly prohibits the kinds of wars we waged on those two countries. Yugoslavia was against the NATO charter as well."

Your claims are, at best, debatable.

curtis: "We have consistently acted like a lunatic power out of control the past few years, giving lipservice to diplomacy but showing a different philosophy with our guns. Our wars have been foolishness, creating misery and destruction and sending many innocent souls to meet their maker."

I can see why you would approve of Mr. Pinter's statements, and think I can understand why you imagine them to constitute "arguments."

curtis: "Surely the scene Pinter depicts is one brought about by a by a secret combination."

The use of terms like surely, certainly,of course, and obviously in hopes of neutralizing objections to wild assertions that are anything but "sure," "certain," or "obvious" has limited rhetorical value, perhaps, but absolutely no logical force.

curtis: "Whether he speaks the truth or not is for us to research, which would be wiser than to call names and dismiss as sillines."

Some things are worth arguing about. Others are not. The claims of the Flat Earth Society, for example, are not. Nor are those of people who believe that the NASA moon landings were faked on a Houston sound stage.

I'm not at all opposed to strategic arguments about the intervention in Iraq or about broader issues in American foreign policy, particularly as it focuses on the Near East. Good grief. As an Arabist, I'm involved in such discussions on a routine basis. I have my own views on such subjects, and am fully aware of the complexities, of differing opinions, and of errors and wrongs in past decisions.

But Pinter's statements strike me as simply over the top, so exaggerated and ridiculous as not to constitute serious discourse with which one can engage on the basis of evidence and rational analysis. They don't represent serious thought.
 

Curtis said...

There are plenty of good choices for candidates for the peace prize. El Baradei was a peace proponent in that he refused to bow to pressure from Washington to find evidence of a nuclear program in Iraq when there wasn't one. This led to the push by the USA, led by John Bolton, who was undersecretary for disarmament at the time, to get el Baradei fired. We even bugged his telephone. Our effort was not supported by any other countries.
In this day and age, when the USA is seeking to proliferate our nuclear weapons and hypocritically denounce Iran's plans, be they for weapons or for energy (probably for weapons in my opinion) while upholding the 200 nuclear warheads everyone knows Israel holds, the IAEA has been a constant voice in support of a nuclear weapons free middle east. el Baradei has also resisted pressure by the USA to find evidence of a weapons program in Iran despite considerable pressure by the USA to do so.

His reward was definately a kick in the shins to the USA.

I don't know how you can say the US Iraq war of 2003 wasn't illegal. You seem to be a learned man. Are you not familiar with the UN Charter? It expressly prohibits wars that are not undertaken in self-defense. Are you trying to say this was a war of self-defense? Was Yugoslavia a war of self-defense?

Walker said...

To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law would be to lose the law itself...thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means...the line of discrimination between cases may be difficult; but the good officer is bound to draw it at his own peril and throw himself on the justice of his country and the rectitude of his motives--Thomas Jefferson

To what degree is the United States bound to the U.N. charter? Is it antiquated? Food for thought.

Daniel Peterson said...

Scattered comments:

I'm fascinated, but not surprised, to see that John Bolton plays a prominent role in your demonology.

The notion that the United States is seeking to "proliferate" nuclear weapons is another plain absurdity.

How are we "upholding" Israel's nuclear stockpile? They have it. That's a fact. There's not a great deal we can do about it. Pakistan and India have nuclear stockpiles, too, and we seem to be "upholding" them as well, in the sense that we haven't managed, nor even attempted, to make their weapons go away. How could we?

Surely you must be aware of the many long and complex arguments about the legality of the Balkan and Iraq interventions. You can't simply brush them off.

Moreover, I'm rather pleased that our intervention in the Balkans interfered with "ethnic cleansing" there, and that it appears, among other things, to have saved the lives of more than a few Muslims in the region, who might, otherwise, have been filling even more mass graves. This strikes me as a rather unambiguously good thing, and far superior to the ineffectual dithering of the EU on the matter.

I can see that you're pleased at the thought of a Nobel Prize being given as a jab in the American eye. That seems to me rather unworthy of the concept of the Prize, but, alas, not atypical of its history and not foreign to its practical reality.

You think the US would not prefer a nuclear-free Middle East?

That said, I would much prefer, if anybody in the region is going to have a nuclear stockpile, that it be the Israelis than, say, the Syrians, the Libyans, or Baathist Iraq. And the Israelis seem, to me, to have a more plausible reason for wanting one. Nobody in the region is calling for the elimination of any Arab state or people; the same cannot be said about Israel and Israelis.

And I'm deeply sympathetic to many Arab/Palestinian complaints about Zionism.

Daniel Peterson said...

Oh yes. Speaking of the Nobel Peace Prize, I forgot to mention the obscenity of giving it, in 2001, to Kofi Annan and the corrupt and ineffectual United Nations.

All one has to do in order to grasp at least something of the fecklessness of the UN in recent years is to watch the film Hotel Rwanda.

So much promise. So little to show for it.

Curtis said...

Whatever the ticky tack arguements may be for or against the war, It is just morally not anywhere close to being justified in my book (speaking of the Iraq war here). Iraq was nowhere close to being a threat to anyone in the slightest. We have gone into the country and destroyed the lives of probably 100,000 people or more, the majority of whom are women, children or elderly. Retrospectively we say we needed to remove Saddam (after all other reasons for invasion evaporated) and that is why we went to war (which would be better named massacre). So who will relieve us of our evil leader?
We are now trying to ram a constitution down their throats, even producing our own version a constitution to them (constitutions are almost never changed after a war, under an occupation while there is still violent struggle in country) that will legitimize our occupation. The constitution is the entire focus of a government that should be instead dealing with 50% unemployment, violence day after day, a horrible utilities situation etc.
We are currently purging the Sunni areas of insurgents, killing countless people (countless because for one thing we don't do body counts and for another, no jounalists are allowed in the area). We take out hospitals, cut off utilities and water supplies and in general act very bullish. The insurgency is 95% Iraqi and so in wiping out the insurgency, we are not fighting against terrorism, we are fighting against the very people we profess to be helping.
If terrorism is defined as using fear of violence to push a political agenda then how are we not terrorists?
If we truly like to fight terrorists, why do we not turn over our own terrorists? Terrorists who have common cause with the USA, such as Jose Posada Carriles, who blew up a Cuban airliner and killed 72 people, whom we are not extraditing to Venezuela despite our treaty with them.
Our ideologically expressed love for freedom, hatred for terrorism etc. is pure lipservice. At the same time that we strive to show ourselves as pillars of righteousness in the world community, in actuality, the soul of our government is a graveyard, full of dead men's bones.
I concur with J. Reuben Clark when he said, “The commandment ’Thou shalt not kill…’ is binding upon every one of God’s children. It speaks to them as individuals; it commands them as associated together in nations… it embraces the mass slaughter of war… It forecast the Master’s law of love and forgiveness… To Peter, striking off with his sword the ear of Malchus, the High Priest’s servant, at the moment of the Savior’s arrest, Jesus said: ’They that take the sword shall perish with the sword,’ and lastly, ’Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,’ which James called the Royal Law, which Jesus declared was one of the two commandments upon which hung all the law and the prophets.”
I also concur with John who said, “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.”
Again, J. Reuben Clard said, “The love of liberty is a fairly universal passion of humanity when free to express itself. But liberty was never implanted in the hearts of a people from the point of a bayonet, nor will it ever be from the nose of an air bomb. Can we keep a straight face and say that bombers and occupying armies are to bring subjection without fear,--that they will give freedom from fear through fear?”
And lastly, I most definitely concur with J. Reuben Clark when he said, “Moral force is far more potent than physical force in international relations. I believe that America should again turn to the promotion of peaceful adjustment of international disputes.”

Curtis said...

As far as your complaint of the UN goes, it is only as powerful as it's members allow it to be. There are many good things that come out of the UN as far as member states allow. One good thing that has been worked on for years for example, is FISSBAN, a measure that is sought to ban fissile material for nuclear weapons production. This resolution was widely popular and the general assembly vote on it last November was 147-1 with 2 abstentions. Britain abstained and said the resolution was good but too divisive. Of course, the sole no vote was from the USA. Of course, FISSBAN will probably fizzle out without the support of the USA. Good things could happen at the UN were it not for the powerful veto holding nations. In a general assembly vote, our no vote is not a veto officially, but in practice it is a veto.
Anan himself by the way, though he usually avoids direct confrontation with the USA, mentioned recently that the war against Iraq was illegal. However, as I mentioned earlier, whether it is legal or not, it is not moral by any stretch of the imagination and should be condemned as such.

Daniel Peterson said...

curtis: "Whatever the ticky tack arguements may be for or against the war, It is just morally not anywhere close to being justified in my book (speaking of the Iraq war here)."

Whatever. Even that is a far more moderate statement than those I quoted from the unfortunate Mr. Pinter.

As far as "ticky tack arguments" go, they is the stuff of law, international and otherwise.

curtis: "Iraq was nowhere close to being a threat to anyone in the slightest."

That is flatly untrue. At a minimum, Iraq was a significant regional threat. Try convincing the Kuwaitis and the Saudis and the Qataris of your claim. Run it past the Iranians. Ask the Israelis.

curtis: "So who will relieve us of our evil leader?"

To insinuate that George Bush is in the same category, or even close to being in the same category, as Saddam Hussein is to forfeit any pretense of seriousness.

curtis: "We are now trying to ram a constitution down their throats"

Hogwash.

curtis: "The constitution is the entire focus of a government that should be instead dealing with 50% unemployment, violence day after day, a horrible utilities situation etc."

If there were a government there attempting to deal with such problems without a constitutional or legal framework and without making any effort to construct one, I suspect you would be complaining about that.

curtis: "We are currently purging the Sunni areas of insurgents, killing countless people (countless because for one thing we don't do body counts and for another, no jounalists are allowed in the area). We take out hospitals, cut off utilities and water supplies and in general act very bullish."

You are remarkably well informed, given that no journalists are allowed in the area. The reports that I hear from friends who are there and who have been there in the military don't seem to tally with yours.

curtis: "The insurgency is 95% Iraqi and so in wiping out the insurgency, we are not fighting against terrorism, we are fighting against the very people we profess to be helping."

Even were I to grant your claim that the insurgency is 95% Iraqi, that would not, by any stretch of the imagination, establish that 95% of Iraqis are involved in the insurgency. And, in fact, we know for a fact that they are not. The Iraqi Shi‘ite majority are targets of the Jordanian Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi's insurgency, as is the large Kurdish minority. And there is no reason to believe that anything remotely close to 95% of the Sunni minority is involved.

If terrorism is defined as using fear of violence to push a political agenda then how are we not terrorists?

That definition is far too vague to be useful, except as a propaganda tool.

curtis: "Our ideologically expressed love for freedom, hatred for terrorism etc. is pure lipservice."

I find the rhetoric of the hard left endlessly fascinating.

curtis: "At the same time that we strive to show ourselves as pillars of righteousness in the world community, in actuality, the soul of our government is a graveyard, full of dead men's bones."

Ditto.

Incidentally, I'm favorably inclined toward modern prophets and apostles, too. Please don't try to convince me that respecting them obliges me to buy into Howard Zinn's view of American history and Noam Chomsky's reading of American foreign policy.

Curtis said...

How can you explain legalities to 100,000 corpses?
This is my contention on this thread, that we have acted in the interests of the multinational corporations around the world, in order to enrichen the very rich further, at the expense of life. This exactly what has happened in Iraq.

This is practically the definition of secret combinations. So there is a huge secret combination among us right now, that we don't see clearly, just as those Nephites in the Book of Helaman were largely unaware that they were card holding members of the Gadianton Society, that is threatening the freedom of all nations (See the case of Venezuela and Haiti as current examples).
How's that?

Curtis said...

Daniel: "At a minimum, Iraq was a significant regional threat. Try convincing the Kuwaitis and the Saudis and the Qataris of your claim. Run it past the Iranians. Ask the Israelis."

We couldn't even get the Kuwaitis behind our war this time! Obviously they have been crippled by years of sanctions and the previous wars decimation of their military. Anyone who considers them some sort of threat in the region needs to ask the surrounding countries themselves if they felt threatened.

So it is hogwash that we are trying to ram a constitution down their throats? The fact of the matter is... THEY DON'T NEED A NEW CONSTITUTION. The previous constitution was secular and predated Saddam. They could have governed perfectly well from their old constitution.

Daniel: "You are remarkably well informed, given that no journalists are allowed in the area. The reports that I hear from friends who are there and who have been there in the military don't seem to tally with yours."

My information is not referring to the current purging. It is what happened in Fallujah. Who knows what is happening in the current purging. If you'd like to get some idea of the horrors we are dishing out over there currently, please refer to this letter, headed by Hans Von Sponek, previous UN Human Rights coordinator for Iraq, at:

http://dahrjamailiraq.com/weblog/archives/dispatches/000298.php#more

Daniel: "Even were I to grant your claim that the insurgency is 95% Iraqi, that would not, by any stretch of the imagination, establish that 95% of Iraqis are involved in the insurgency."

You misunderstood me here. Of the insurgency, US military numbers and independant study numbers show that the composition is 4-6% foreign and the rest is Iraqi. I did not mean to infer that 95% of Iraqis are part of the insurgency. The above numbers are taken straight from a recent NYTimes article. If you want the link I'll hunt it down.

Daniel: "That definition is far too vague to be useful, except as a propaganda tool."

What is a useful definition of terrorism then?

Daniel: "I find the rhetoric of the hard left endlessly fascinating."

In what way?

Daniel: "Incidentally, I'm favorably inclined toward modern prophets and apostles, too. Please don't try to convince me that respecting them obliges me to buy into Howard Zinn's view of American history and Noam Chomsky's reading of American foreign policy."

I don't quite know what you are getting at here. Sorry to hear you don't like Chomsky's teachings. Have you read one of his well documented books? He has the little non-footnoted books, but if you look at one of his well researched books like, "Deterring Democracy," it's hard to argue with.

Curtis said...

That link should have a:

000298.php#more

at the end of it.

Curtis said...

Daniel: "To insinuate that George Bush is in the same category, or even close to being in the same category, as Saddam Hussein is to forfeit any pretense of seriousness."

The point I was trying to make was that when we give a single government the power to remove another sovereign government for it's transgressions, where does it stop? We currently think that Chavez of Venezuela is worthy of removal in our judgement. Who will consider Bush worthy of removal in their judgement? It is similar to the doctrine of preemption. Syria, Iran and others would be justified under the premise of that doctrine to attack us and stop the threat of a future attack against them.
For that matter, Japan, would have been justified in attacking Pearl Harbor under the doctrine of preemption.
What goes around comes around. It would be prudent to get out of the business of regime removal. Sooner or later we will be bitten.

Mormanity said...

Whoa, this has gotten out of control. Sorry. Let's cool it on this topic and spend some time pondering what the Book of Mormon means.

Curtis said...

In that case, I repost what I think is the heart of the matter of the condemnation we are under in D&C 84.

Now, to truly get to the purpose behind the Lord's pronouncement in section 84 though, I think those verses need to be taken in context. The context shows the antidote for the condemnation we are under. The Lord says:

61 For I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment—that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you.

Preaching the Gospel is the key here. In fact the entire rest of the section speaks about missionary work. And, if you think about it, the Book of Mormon is like a big missionary text. It teaches us the how and the why and the what and is full of examples. You can hardly open the book without reading about missionary work. Christ accused the Pharisees of not really being the Children of Abraham because they didn't do Abraham's works. Everywhere Abraham went, he went with the souls he had won in that place. He was a great missionary. Will we be the Children of Abraham?

On the other hand, the preceeding verses speak of hearkening to the voice of the Spirit and says the Word of God we are to cling to is the Light of Christ. Our minds were darkened in the past because of treating lightly the things the Spirit had given us. Do we follow well the light of Christ? It would probably lead us to do missionary work. The preceeding verses also speak of the oath and covenant of the priesthood. Following the Light of Christ will teach us how to magnify our calling and receive all the Lord promises there.

Daniel Peterson said...

Thank you, Jeff, for intervening to rein this in.

I don't have much patience for extreme leftist positions -- Noam Chomsky's views are difficult to argue with? (am I on "Candid Camera"?) -- and would rather not discuss them here.

Curtis said...

Well Daniel, thanks for putting up with my "extremist leftist" viewpoints. May God bless you in your search of truth.

Daniel Peterson said...

And you in yours.