Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

A Heart on Fire: The Inhumanity of Neglecting Black Lives that Matter

Black lives matter. Of course they do. Sadly, the pains and sorrows faced by the victims of violence and inhumanity among black Americans is not adequately addressed by slogans and virtue signaling, or by giving support to any group or person that encourages or tolerate violence against blacks. The horror of violence from some bad cops is bad enough, but there is also brutality and inhumanity far more widespread in the violence that permeates too many communities across our country. The lives of those being shot and murdered everyday in largely black neighborhoods across America matter and deserve far more attention and compassion than they have received. Let's begin with the story of the murder of a young man, Horace Lorenzo Anderson Jr., who was murdered in Seattle. The story is told by a man with his heart on fire, a man who has been treated with callous inhumanity by the government in Washington. His story resonates with me, not because I have faced pain anywhere close to his, but because of what happened to him when he wanted to see his son at a hospital.


Watch at least the first 10 minutes of this interview with the father. The interview is part of the story, "Father of CHOP shooting victim speaks out in emotional 'Hannity' interview: 'All I know is my son is dead.'" It was written by Yael Halon on July 1, 2020 for Fox News. The video is an interview of Horace Lorenzo Anderson, Sr. and his friend, Andre Taylor, two remarkable and eloquent men who share perspectives that could help the entire nation move toward healing. They are sharing views aimed at building our future, at bringing our country together, and having more humanity. It's a healing message in the end and may we all learn from it. But the father's story may also leave your heart on fire as you realize what terribly inhumanity and stupidity has been heaped upon some precious black lives in our midst.

The inhumanity in this story is found not only by the callous neglect of irresponsible government leaders, blinded by their extremist ideology out of touch with reality, who allowed his son and others to be victimized and even killed without the basic protection of citizens that is the fundamental duty of the leaders of government to provide, the fundamental reason why we have government in the first place, but is also found in the neglect of the grieving father, by a system that did not inform him of his son's death and even refused to let the grieving father see his son at the hospital. When he went to the hospital that had his dead son, he was not allowed to go in to see his boy and at least confirm that it was really him. He was not given any information about how and when he died. He was turned away in what appears to be an expression of the brutal inhumanity that many of our hospitals have unwittingly adopted in their cruel overreaction to COVID fears.

I can slightly relate to his hospital experience. In June, I visited my 88-year-old father in Salt Lake City and the day before I was to return to Wisconsin, had the opportunity to take him to see a doctor for a check up. She noted that his blood pressure was low, probably due to dehydration from an imbalance in his complicated medications dealing with the many problems he has, so she recommended that he be given an IV for a couple of hours to get him rehydrated and stabilized. For this, I had to take him to the emergency area. While we were chatting, a medical worker came to take him away for his IV, and told me that I could not accompany him due to COVID-19 policies. But he's be done in about 3 hours, so I could come back then. And no, I could not wait in the waiting room of the emergency area but would have to leave the building and wait in the parking lot or somewhere else. They would call me when he was finished, they said, to let me know when I could come back. I would never get that call. In fact, I have not seen him since that day.

My father is still alive and I shall be going back soon to see him again this month, if all goes well. After giving him an IV, they decided he needed further care and admitted him without letting me know and without giving me a chance to see him and at least say good-bye. He spent several days there and returned home, but in the meantime I had to return home without knowing if I would ever see him again. This hospital and many others refuse to let family members come visit patients due to COVID-19 fears, but surely there are ways to manage that and keep risks low. They could show up in a hazmat suit surrounded by a plastic bubble and still not be allowed to visit a drying relative. Inflexible bureaucratic rules contribute to the inhumanity of the world. A friend of my sister in Salt Lake is grieving over the death of her father who died alone in a Salt Lake City hospital that refused to allow family members to visit her declining father. He was forced to die alone when he could have been surrounded by children who loved him.

These rules that keep family members away have some serious downsides. For a mother delivering a baby, keeping the father away strikes me as not just inhumane but also dangerous. Not only does the mother need that support, and should have the right to have that support during one of the most difficult and painful moments of her life, but for the protection of the baby, it is often vital that the father be there to ensure that the baby is properly cared for, not given unwanted or improper treatments without informed parental consent, not misidentified and confused for another baby later -- problems that are highly unlikely but still have happened, making it reasonable that both parents should be there to help watch over their child and reduce the risks of neglect or harm in a world where bad things happen every now and thing. There may also be the need to oversee treatments given to the mother and to help her with needs that medical workers may not be able to do.

Let's turn back to Mr. Anderson, the grieving father and his son, two black lives that didn't seem to matter to some aspects of Seattle's government and health care system. Who shot his son? Why? Is the murdered being pursued? What is known about the crime? Does anyone in Seattle care? Why can't a father identify the corpse of his murdered son? What COVID fears justify keeping family away from the dead? The father still doesn't have answers. I suspect that if it weren't for the interview with Sean Hannity, that man's voice and his son's story would be swept under the rug, neglected and ignored because it doesn't fit the narrative of the Revolution supported by most of our media and their wealthy Silicon Valley friends. And the healing non-political message on the importance of family, love, accountability, and safety in our communities shared by Andre Taylor and Horace Lorenzo Anderson, Sr. would not be heard. God bless these good men. 

The son was a victim of a disastrous experiment with chaos and the neglect of black lives and many other lives by callous officials. The failed experiment, of course, was CHOP, the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, formerly known as CHAZ, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, the lawless region embraced and tolerated by the Governor of Washington and the Mayor of Seattle, where the police were ordered to back down and leave a large swath of downtown Seattle in the hands of chaos since, in the bizarre mindset of those  leaders, a community without police would be some kind of "summer of love" utopia with power to the people, vegan snacks to the people, everything to the people. Power to the people, of course, seemed to quickly became power to some of the people with guns, the local thugs with muscle. The extremist ideal of America without borders was quickly replaced with a fence and with guards, keeping out police and making it extremely difficult or impossible to respond to 911 calls. Disaster.

Fortunately, the Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, after weeks of actually supporting the experiment in chaos, showed that she does strongly object to lawlessness -- but clear action seemed to only come after her own house was surrounded by protesters. But on the day the Horace Lorenzo Anderson was killed, she continued her support and Tweeted that "We have had some incredibly peaceful demonstrations." In spite of the violence with several being being shot and many others suffering from crimes and living in fear without the protection that should have been provided, she continued her support. James Altucher caught the gist of what happened in this Tweet:
After people began to threaten her very expensive home (how do so many public servants manage to get such expensive homes?), action was swift. Those demonstrators were driven out and then the order was given that caused CHOP to come down. Perspectives on the Mayor's actions are offered by The Federalist and by Jason Rantz. I can sympathize with the Mayor: if a potentially dangerous mob was gathering around my home or my vehicle, for that matter (thinking of the white "peaceful protester" who shot a driver in Provo, Utah recently when a mob surrounded his vehicle at University Avenue and Center Street), I'd be scared and would want the protection of armed police, even though some police are bad people. I'd turn to the police. But that instinct, according to the white women leading the Minneapolis City Council, is just an expression of white privilege. How do so many whites imagine that blacks don't want that kind of protection also from criminals that might approach them in their home, in a vehicle, or on the street?

Why is it so hard for elite white people to understand that black neighborhoods need and want protection also? I recommend a powerful essay from Charles Love, a black man who has explored what's up with the "wokeness" that is sweeping some parts of white society. His essay, "White Wokeness: It’s the new factor in our national life," was published in City Journal on June 25, 2020, and has since been adapted and used in other forums such as the New York Post in "What ‘woke’ whites get wrong about blacks’ priorities," June 28, 2020. Please read it.

Mr. Love was surprised by what he found and by how seriously wrong perceptions are among woke whites about life for black people in America. Those misguided perceptions are causing more harm than good, he feels, especially with the extreme notion of defunding the police.

As for what folks in Harlem think about the idea of defunding the police in their neighborhood, see Ami Horowitz's contrasting interviews of folks in a high-end New York neighborhood and those in Harlem. (I heard an interview of Ami about this survey. Of about 30 people he spoke to one the street in Harlem, all but 1 were clearly supportive of having police. The video only captures a handful.) Where violence is real, scheduling a social worker as a response to emergency 911 calls may not be the answer. We need more compassion, not neglect and virtue signaling, for those who face violence in their neighborhoods. Some can come from bad cops, but the vast majority of police are seeking to protect neighborhoods, not traumatize them.

Two good men in grief over the unnecessary loss of a young boy, a boy born at 25 weeks who struggled with developmental disorders and was among the truly disadvantaged in our society, among those who are most in need of our protection, was neglected and killed, and then his family was neglected as well. There is brutality and inhumanity that needs our national attention. There is also hope if we take action. The many issues involved here are complex, painful, and clearly beyond me in many ways. Still, there are things I think we can to help beyond slogans and fruitless anger.

For members of my faith and who are asked to be "ministering brothers" and "ministering sisters" to others, along with people of all faiths seeking to do good, this may be a good time to put expand our circles of influence and to minister as friends and neighbors more broadly. Looking to the example of Christ and others in the scriptures, the concept of ministering in all its forms can help us to reach out more to those around us, regardless of color and regardless of religion. There are too many who are neglected and too many without enough friends to help in times of trouble. Single parents with special needs children have overwhelming burdens and when things go wrong, face overwhelming pain. Staying close to them can make a huge difference.

For the millions in need with burdens of all kinds, I fear that big bureaucratic programs driven by failed ideologies aren't going to help, but loving neighbors and friends often can. Local government leaders also can if they fulfill their duties to protect their citizens and work for police reform and accountability but not the elimination of protection that is so desperately needed in high-crime neighborhoods. Health care leaders can when they fight to make sure their programs and policies are  humane and loving (some institutions and especially many health care workers individually do inspiring work in this regard), and to make sure that grieving family members are not coldly turned away when they need to see a boy who has been shot, or when a family member needs support. Citizens can also help by simply standing up to oppose dereliction and insanity from local government and demanding that resources be increased to aggressively promote safety in high-crime areas and that violence not be ignored. The children, the teenagers, the young people and old who are dying from violence deserve attention. Those lives matter, too, and need our help, not our neglect. I also offer my opinion that we must oppose some of the insane ideas from privileged  politicians who may have armed guards and live in secure gated communities and yet claim that turning the security of poor neighborhoods over to local gangs and occasional social workers will bring utopia. It's time to care more, to love more, and to stand up for sanity. We can do this. 

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

It must have been so much easier when one could simply dismiss black people’s ill-treatment as a divine curse.

— OK

Jeff Lindsay said...

One of the foundational truths of the Gospel can, when properly digested, help all of us overcome the selfish tendency to look down as those not part of our group. Bias related to race, nationality, political affiliation, religion, etc., is hard to sustain when reading and carefully pondering these words of Nephi:

[God] doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. (2 Nephi 26:33 in the Book of Mormon)

The Nephites still had trouble with racism and national bigotry, as have most societies and certainly Latter-day Saints, both before 1978 and still to this day as we remain imperfect and in need of ongoing growth and repentance. We are repenting and have more repenting to do, but as we learn the teachings of Jesus Christ, a fundamental truth is reinforced in so many ways: we are all children of God, and He has provided a way for all to receive of His richest blessings and greatest joy. Not just Americans, not just whites, not just those who were lucky enough to be born in a Christian country, not just those who were born after Christ came, but ALL of mankind will be treated fairly and be given a chance to receive and accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Knowing that is just the beginning. Understanding the humanity of others who suffer abuse, poverty, crime, genocide, and endless trouble in so many places must move us to do more, to love more, to not abandon them. For every Horace Lorenzo Anderson, Jr. who was abandoned by callous politicians, whose father was denied information and even the right to see his deceased son by an uncaring bureaucracy, who violently torn away from his family in this terrible and needless way, there are many others we never hear about and more to come unless we can better help. There is a great need to reform our systems and increase the compassion of our leaders so that black lives as well as Hmong lives (if you want to talk to many people whose family members literally have been hunted down and killed in genocidal hysteria, talk to some of my Hmong friends!), Mexican lives, Iranian lives, and others in our cities and states can be better protected, better helped, better loved. To think that taking away the protection they depend on will make them better off, and to make that decision without relying on input from them, is disastrous arrogance.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear about all the repenting and stuff, Jeff, and I think we can all admire the idea expressed by Nephi. It’s a lot better than the racist Hamitic theory found in the books of Abraham and Moses.

I was wondering, though, why someone like Nephi, an Israelite writing in ancient America, would juxtapose “black and white, bond and free.” That sure sounds a lot like the language of the antebellum United States!

— OK

Anonymous said...

More Caucasians are killed by police than any other race.

An 8 year old Black girl was killed by the anarchist thugs of Black Lives Matter in Chitcago. The dead girl was with her mother going to a store. The BLM anarchist thugs were not happy that the Black female driver would not bow to their demands,so they shot up the car killing the girl.

The Communist Democrats saw the opportunity to "never let a crisis go to waste".....they used the death of George Floyd who was full of alcohol, meth and fentanyl along with horrible cardiovascular health to launch their Communist revolution.
AntiFa is also a Communist organization.
Black lives do not matter to the Black anarchists and AntiFa. It is a slogan to achieve legitimacy to riot, loot, burn, murder, ignore the Rule of Law and make Caucasians and Christians the Jews of the 21st Century. Democrats are protecting and funding them as are NGOs and Moslem terrorist groups. And too many so called Republican politicians are also supporting the anarchy.....like that corrupt SOB Mittens Romney.

Democrats are the party of slavery, KKK, Jim Crow laws, segregation.

President LBJ and the Democrats started the destruction of Black families and life in general for Blacks.

The corrupt politicians from federal government to state governments has brought the country to this destruction... because the People elected an outsider. How dare the people choose the President....how dare the President make decisions....the unelected bureaucrats are supposed to control the USA.....a few people that have testified to the corrupt Congress and Senate actually said that the President has no right to govern and make decisions!!!

Now that the mainstream media has become the official whore propaganda outlet of the Communist Democrats, and has been for some time, the evil Commie Dems have been able to divide and are trying to conquer.

Anonymous said...

Actually, these sentiments — black or white, bond or free — are found close together in Tyndale's 1533 translation of Erasmus of Rotterdam's Enchiridion militis Christiani (1503). So the ideas and expressions were around in the 15c and perhaps earlier.

Anonymous said...

"More Caucasians are killed by police than any other race."

That's because 76% of the population is white.

But blacks commit crime at disproportionately high rates. Even black cops are sensitive to this. Because human psychology is what it is, this leads to persistent, occasional abuse / overreaction by law enforcement, no matter the race of the cops. This is being used to impose Marxist ideology on the populace, which can only lead to misery and death on a large scale, caused by the gov't.

Anonymous said...

"It must have been so much easier when one could simply dismiss black people’s ill-treatment as a divine curse."

Within the LDS church, the divine curse mentality of black skin has been the result of cultural prejudice and naive misreadings of scripture. The Canaanites, a Semitic people, are known not to have had 'black' skin. The blackness mentioned in Moses 7:8 is contextually paired with heat and geographical barrenness, so the most likely reading is sun exposure causing the "blackness", which should be read, because of the nature of this scriptural language, with a typical earlier meaning of "little darker than many Europeans" (OED, def. 1c).

Outside the LDS tradition, political / academic motivations lead to deliberately skewed readings, as exemplified by OK's frequent prejudiced comments.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hey, anon @3:56, thanks proving anon @1:04 right.

Anonymous said...

Hey anon @7:32, you can shove it too.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:46 writes, “these sentiments — black or white, bond or free — are found close together in Tyndale's 1533 translation of Erasmus of Rotterdam's Enchiridion militis Christiani (1503).”

“Close together”?

A quick word search of this text turns up one usage of the phrase “black or white,” which is separated by some 82 lines of text (about 800 words) from the one usage of ”bond or free.”

When someone writes “black and white, bond and free” — yoking the four key terms together in a single, parallel-structured phrase — one is implicitly associating blackness with bondness, whiteness with freedom, an association that would come easily to a 19th-century American. This is not the case with Tyndale, since the terms are so widely separated in the text. This all makes sense, since the racist ideology holding black skin to be a divine curse justifying bondage was developed long after 1533. It was a part of Smith’s conceptual repertoire but not Tyndale’s.

In any event, the idea that Smith borrowed phrasing introduced in the 1500s hardly helps make the case that the BoM is ancient.

Let’s all remember one of the key sophistries of LDS apologetics: when confronted with obvious evidence of the LDS scriptures’ modern origins, the apologist will ransack the archive for something that, if one doesn’t think about it too much, can kinda sorta serve as a refutation. We see variants of this not just with Jeff but also with Carmack, Stubbs, Gee, etc.

— OK

Anonymous said...

We can see another example of white or black, bond or free in another Erasmus text translated/published in 1529. Less than 200 words apart. In other words, the phraseology expresses somewhat timeless or universal human sentiments.

Anonymous said...

Well alright then, Anon 9:43. A Dutch humanist, writing 2,000 years after Nephi, used those two phrases within *200* words of each other. It still seems much, much more reasonable to imagine a line of transmission of this construction from Erasmus to Smith than from Nephi to Smith — that is, it still sounds much more like modern than ancient writing — so I’m not sure what your argument is. And while yes, some sentiments are indeed “somewhat universal,” the exact phrases used to express those sentiments generally are not. Maybe Erasmus introduced the phrases into our discourse, and then his many intellectual descendants kept it alive over the centuries for Smith to pick up in 1829. That’s *way* less speculative than Jeff’s musings about goggles and skulls.

— OK

Anonymous said...

Jeff, in a reply above you wrote something that strikes me as extremely problematic in light of the Church’s practices and theology:

Bias related to race, nationality, political affiliation, religion, etc., is hard to sustain when reading and carefully pondering these words of Nephi:

“[God] doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”


I have two questions.

(1) How can Nephi’s words be squared with the Church’s race-based priesthood ban? Remember, the Church holds that this ban was not a mistake made by fallible men speaking as men rather than prophets. The Church holds that the ban was indeed ordained by God himself, for reasons known only to him. If this is so, then, for the duration of the ban, black and white were very much *not* “alike unto God.” (Also, if the reasons for the ban are so mysterious, one cannot very well say that “God doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men.”)

(2) How can Nephi’s statement be reconciled with a theology in which God uses religious belief as a basis for segregating people for eternity into three separate-and-decidedly-unequal heavenly kingdoms? Faithful, obedient Mormons live forever in the Celestial Kingdom, while other Christians, and possibly Jews and Muslims, must settle for an eternity in a lesser kingdom. That’s hardly consistent with claim that “all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”

I suppose you could say that Nephi’s statement of equality refers only to God’s openness about who may “come unto him.” Maybe it means only that all are equally free to join his church. But if that is so, then we can hardly take it as a general statement about “bias related to race, nationality, political affiliation, religion, etc.” In this case it could simply mean that, as long as everyone remains free to choose Christ, then separate drinking fountains and whites-only lunch counters are just fine.

Anyway, to me the most obvious response to all this is that these contradictory notions *can’t* be reconciled and are best explained simply as changes in Joseph’s ever-evolving beliefs, rather than as eternal truths.

— OK

Anonymous said...

It was a mistake by a prophet and a good example of the fallibility of prophets.

But they don't want to undermine their authority, so church leadership won't come out and say it.

I don't think Jeff will publicly state that, however, even though he might think it.

Anonymous said...

Lets take 2 Nephi 26:33 in its complete context:

"For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile."

According to you, black and white, bond and free represent a nice antebellum parallel with black equating to bond and white equating to free. Let's walk this dog a little bit further. That would also mean that black = bond = male and white = free = female. While some of us may feel like the male half of the species are indeed in bondage, I would wager a bet that this is not the case nor does it make sense to read the verse in this way.

A reading of the verse that makes more sense is to consider the wording as opposites or at the ends of a spectrum. Black being at one end and white at the other and everything included in between. Likewise for the bond and free and for the male and female. This reading is less clumsy then trying to shoe horn a parallelism that doesn't exist in this case.

But, if you were already inclined to interpret a reading that fits your bias then you would probably disagree.

Steve

Anonymous said...

Good point, Steve. Pretty obvious once you look at the larger context, laying bare, once again, OK's ends-oriented approach: trash LDS scripture and the LDS church, no matter what.

Anonymous said...

Steve, Anon 6:18, have you even *considered* the possibility that Joseph simply took the familiar New Testament phrase — “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female” — and substituted black/white for Jew/Greek? That would make perfect sense for a 19th-century American writer for whom black and white were far more meaningful social categories than Jew and Greek.

As for Steve’s objection that it makes no sense to parallel maleness with bondage, please take that up with the Apostle Paul, not me.

If you guys really want to make the case that this transparently modern text is actually ancient you’ll have to try harder than this.

— OK

Anonymous said...

I think one might have a more difficult time squaring your claims, Jeff, to the BoM to itself:

“and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile."

Alma 3

“6 And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.

7 And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women.

8 And this was done that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their destruction.

9 And it came to pass that whosoever did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites did bring the same curse upon his seed.”

2 Nephi 5

20 Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.

21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.

24 And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.

Jacob 3

3 But, wo, wo, unto you that are not pure in heart, that are filthy this day before God; for except ye repent the land is cursed for your sakes; and the Lamanites, which are not filthy like unto you, nevertheless they are cursed with a sore cursing, shall scourge you even unto destruction.

4 And the time speedily cometh, that except ye repent they shall possess the land of your inheritance, and the Lord God will lead away the righteous out from among you.

5 Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you”

Alma 23

18 And they began to be a very industrious people; yea, and they were friendly with the Nephites; therefore, they did open a correspondence with them, and the curse of God did no more follow them.

3 Nephi 2

“14 And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites;

15 And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;

16 And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites. And thus ended the thirteenth year.”

The BoM makes a clear connection between dark skin and God’s curse. Although “he denieth none that come unto him,” those with dark skin are marked as wicked and cursed. A symbol of their acceptance once they have “come unto him” is that they turn the right color.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Hey guys, thanks for the comments. OK, you always liven things up a bit and make some interesting comments as you pursue your sad goal of tearing down the Church. I hope you'll grow past that some day. But thank you for your remarks that challenge us to reconsider a few things. But the Book of Mormon is ancient, miraculous, and authentic, with more evidence than ever that calls for respect.

OK, please remember that even with the painful restriction on the priesthood, it was still clear that the blessings of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life was available to all, regardless of race or gender. This broad claim involves the work for the dead and the idea of ongoing ministry initiated by Christ among those who dead to give the whole world the opportunity to hear and accept the Gospel. Don't forget this crucial part of our faith.

The opportunity/responsibility involved with the Priesthood has long had limitations of various kinds. Originally it was just Jewish men of the tribe of Levi. Did that mean God didn't love the tribe of Reuben as much, or didn't love the Gentiles? Since 1978, we are past whatever lead to the policy that limited the priesthood based on ancestry (not skin color per se), but it's still limited based on gender. Some see that as unfair, but in our theology it does not mean that God loves women less than men or that the blessings of salvation and eternal life are not open to all of us.

Anon at 12:25, are you familiar with the analysis from Ethan Sproat regarding what Alma 3 is actually telling us? It's an important topic that we need to discuss further soon. Out of time tonight, but Ethan Sproat's work needs further attention. His analysis brings a greater unity to the Book of Mormon and a more intelligent reading. Give it some thought and let's discuss later.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Jeff, in ancient Israel the priesthood was open only to male Levites. But then again the ancient Israelites never made egalitarian claims to the contrary.

It’s always comical to read obfuscations like “whatever led to the policy that limited the priesthood.” Gee, whatever could it have been? It’s not that big a mystery, Jeff. Any number of Church officials, including prophets themselves, explained it again and again and again: it was because black people inherited the Mark of Cain via the Curse of Ham and because they were neutral in the War in Heaven. Now that such explanations are seen even by the Church itself as obviously racist pretexts, these earlier prophets, seers, and revelators have been thrown under the bus and we’re all supposed to believe it’s just an inscrutable mystery. That’s just silly: it was racism dressed up as divine revelation. Everyone knows it. In your heart of hearts you know it, too.

It was a great example of this thing called “sin.” In a truly Christian church, the leadership would own up to it, apologize for it, and move on. But the LDS brass just can’t seem to do that, so they continue to pin the responsibility on God instead.

— OK

Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing me to Sproat. His read was entertaining, if extremely misguided. I especially enjoy how he calls the most sensible reading of the text a “traditional” reading, as if it is old and outdated.

“the assertion that the text of the Book of Mormon describes a literal change in flesh pigmentation lacks any explicit internal textual support”

Yeah, if you ignore that the text mentions that the trait is heritable.

2 Nephi 5
“23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing.”

Alma 3
“8 And this was done that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve his people, that they might not mix.”

More to follow. . .

Anonymous said...

Sproat’s assertion also ignores much connotation regarding skin color and the understanding of what a Lamanite is/was. It is and was understood that the Lamanites were [the principal] among the ancestors of the American Indians. When missionaries were called to preach to Native Americans, they were called to preach to the Lamanites, whose skin color is definitely not white. Note this “revelation” from the D&C which specifically equates Native Americans with Lamanites:

“8 And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them”

Keep in mind also that besides skin color, the BoM seeks to provide source reasoning for traditional “Lamanitish” practices such as burying the hatchet and scalping. Skin color is textually and contextually not on an island.

Anonymous said...

Sproat claims that “Alma 3, . . . contains the Book of Mormon’s most thorough explanation of the Lamanite curse and the curse’s relationship to skins.” It could be easily argued that 2 Nephi 5 contains a more thorough explanation of the curse and its relationship to skin color. This chapter also indicates that the curse was physical, not symbolic, and not just limited to skin color:

“24 And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.”

Another problem with this passage:

“Skousen’s comparison of Enos 1:20; Alma 43:20; and 3 Nephi 4:7 would appear to suggest that when the text of the Book of Mormon describes ‘a skin of blackness’ in 2 Nephi 5:21, it is referring to something made of animal skin”

What he fails to show is a textual basis to support this assertion. According to BoM chronology, 2 Nephi occurred many years before Alma—Nephi can’t be referring to Alma because it hadn’t happened yet. Interestingly, Sproat’s footnote at the end of the quote proceeds to throw Skousens’ other scholarship under the bus because it doesn’t agree with his “non-traditional” reading (cynics may be tempted to call it an “inspred” reading).

Another great erroneous leap is this:

“the mark of the Lamanite curse would seem to be self-administered, removable, and inherited”

It would only seem this way if one ignores the text. The curse is portrayed as a forced punishment from God:

“the mark which was set upon their fathers

the Lord God set a mark upon them”

“he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity”

the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them”

Its removal is also described as involuntary:

“And their curse was taken from them and their skin became white”

Anonymous said...

I like that he points out an inconsistency in the narrative of the BoM and tries to use that as proof of his point of view. In speaking of a trick played on one military leader on another in Alma 55 he notes:

“If flesh pigmentation were the cultural determiner in this narrative, then the mission should fail right when the Lamanite guards see Laman’s Nephite companions—who, traditional racial interpretations suggest, supposedly have paler flesh pigmentation than the Lamanites. Instead, the ruse succeeds based on how Laman speaks to the Lamanite guards (Alma 55:9)—not on how Laman looks.”

Thanks Sproat for pointing out that inconsistency.

Anonymous said...

What’s ultimately missing in Sproat’s argument is ironically, what’s missing. He tries to make a convincing case that skin can be interpreted as a vestment which can have metaphoric and symbolic significance to righteousness. He even goes so far as to claim that it is a practical temple garment. What he fails to show, and doesn’t acknowledge, is there is no reference to Nephites wearing skins as a garment. If the “skin of darkness” is a symbolic sullying of traditional garb, why are the Lamanites the only ones portrayed as wearing this garb?

Sproat expects us to torture the reading of one passage that mentions Lamanites wearing animal skins as loincloths, and conflate that with a later description of Lamanite skin color and the reason provided for it being that way. This one unreasonable conflation results in 29 pages of horrible apologetic drivel.

Anonymous said...

Good job OK. It looks you struck one of Jeff's nerve. Unable to honor his covenants to be honest with his fellow man he lost his temper. It is abundantly obvious the reason for the priesthood ban, but to Jeff acknowledging reality is "tearing down the church". Such equation exposes his belief that the Church is not true. For Jeff it is merely his social club that needs more members to increase its power. Official LDS doctrine of a global flood is embarrassing and hurts his goal of more converts, so he has no problem rejecting it and call himself LDS at the same time. Acknowledging the patently obvious racist priesthood ban hurts the potential for converts, so abuse anyone who has the courage to acknowledge it. Jeff's cold calculated strategy of hating truth tellers such as OK.

Anonymous said...

How did that world wide Covid-19 fast go? Is it time for another one?

Jeff Lindsay said...

Anon @8:23, you must live in a very peaceful part of the world if losing one's temper means thanking somebody for their remarks, in spite of disagreeing with them. Curious to know which tranquil village you're living in. But from my culture, no, I don't think I lost my temper. If I had, I might have said something stronger or just deleted OK's barb. But he remains welcome here, in spite of my apparently volatile temper when others disagree. Guess I need to chill out in your part of the world -- perhaps somewhere on the tundra of north-easteern Manitoba?

Jeff Lindsay said...

For the person who posted many critiques of Sproat, step back and ask if you've considered his thesis and the Book of Mormon text fairly, or are using your assumed knowledge of what it must be to attack the evidence he presents? When you declare that the story in Alma 55 is an "inconsistency" rather than evidence from the text itself about the nature of the Lamanites, this conclusion of yours is simply because Alma 55 does not fit your presupposition about what is meant by "Lamanites" in the text. So you discard the evidence as an "inconsistency."

The more reasonable and open-minded approach is to consider the text as a whole and give it a chance to tell us its story, rather than forcing your story upon it. The story in Alma 55 suggests that Lamanites and Nephites could look pretty much the same, but had very different accents.

Alma 55 tells of Moroni trying to take back captured prisoners. To do so, he sends a Lamanite found among his men to lead a group of his men to the city where prisoners of war are being held, and to trick the guards there into getting drunk. It's a very clever ploy that sounds like something straight out of The Art of War or the Romance of the Three Kingdoms (not that I am suggesting that Joseph "plagiarized" from ancient Chinese writings):

[2] And he said: Behold, I will not exchange prisoners with Ammoron save he will withdraw his purpose, as I have stated in my epistle; for I will not grant unto him that he shall have any more power than what he hath got.

[3] Behold, I know the place where the Lamanites do guard my people whom they have taken prisoners; and as Ammoron would not grant unto me mine epistle, behold, I will give unto him according to my words; yea, I will seek death among them until they shall sue for peace.

[4] And now it came to pass that when Moroni had said these words, he caused that a search should be made among his men, that perhaps he might find a man who was a descendant of Laman among them.

[5] And it came to pass that they found one, whose name was Laman; and he was one of the servants of the king who was murdered by Amalickiah.

[6] Now Moroni caused that Laman and a small number of his men should go forth unto the guards who were over the Nephites.

[7] Now the Nephites were guarded in the city of Gid; therefore Moroni appointed Laman and caused that a small number of men should go with him.

[8] And when it was evening Laman went to the guards who were over the Nephites, and behold, they saw him coming and they hailed him; but he saith unto them: Fear not; behold, I am a Lamanite. Behold, we have escaped from the Nephites, and they sleep; and behold we have taken of their wine and brought with us.

[9] Now when the Lamanites heard these words they received him with joy; and they said unto him: Give us of your wine, that we may drink; we are glad that ye have thus taken wine with you for we are weary.

[10] But Laman said unto them: Let us keep of our wine till we go against the Nephites to battle. But this saying only made them more desirous to drink of the wine;

[11] For, said they: We are weary, therefore let us take of the wine, and by and by we shall receive wine for our rations, which will strengthen us to go against the Nephites.

[12] And Laman said unto them: You may do according to your desires.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Continuing from Alma 55:
[13] And it came to pass that they did take of the wine freely; and it was pleasant to their taste, therefore they took of it more freely; and it was strong, having been prepared in its strength.

[14] And it came to pass they did drink and were merry, and by and by they were all drunken.

[15] And now when Laman and his men saw that they were all drunken, and were in a deep sleep, they returned to Moroni and told him all the things that had happened.

[16] And now this was according to the design of Moroni. And Moroni had prepared his men with weapons of war; and he went to the city Gid, while the Lamanites were in a deep sleep and drunken, and cast in weapons of war unto the prisoners, insomuch that they were all armed;

[17] Yea, even to their women, and all those of their children, as many as were able to use a weapon of war, when Moroni had armed all those prisoners; and all those things were done in a profound silence.

[18] But had they awakened the Lamanites, behold they were drunken and the Nephites could have slain them.

[19] But behold, this was not the desire of Moroni; he did not delight in murder or bloodshed, but he delighted in the saving of his people from destruction; and for this cause he might not bring upon him injustice, he would not fall upon the Lamanites and destroy them in their drunkenness.

[20] But he had obtained his desires; for he had armed those prisoners of the Nephites who were within the wall of the city, and had given them power to gain possession of those parts which were within the walls.

[21] And then he caused the men who were with him to withdraw a pace from them, and surround the armies of the Lamanites.

[22] Now behold this was done in the night-time, so that when the Lamanites awoke in the morning they beheld that they were surrounded by the Nephites without, and that their prisoners were armed within.

[23] And thus they saw that the Nephites had power over them; and in these circumstances they found that it was not expedient that they should fight with the Nephites; therefore their chief captains demanded their weapons of war, and they brought them forth and cast them at the feet of the Nephites, pleading for mercy.

[24] Now behold, this was the desire of Moroni. He took them prisoners of war, and took possession of the city, and caused that all the prisoners should be liberated, who were Nephites; and they did join the army of Moroni, and were a great strength to his army.

Yes, it was evening, but the guards could see them coming, and the men had to get very close to turn over the wine to the guards. There had to be light from the evening sun or from torches. The Lamanite guards never noticed that the men accompanying the Lamanite speaker were Nephites.

Jeff Lindsay said...

But your criticisms raise fair questions. For now let me address the issue of whether Nephi's wording should have any relationship to Alma's. Let's first look at the introduction of Sproat's argument, pp. 139-141:

{Begin quote}
Alma 3:5–6 is comprised of two sentences, in each of which the word skin(s) appears. Commentaries handle the two sentences in one of three ways: (1) by treating both of them independently, as if two very different things were at issue; (2) by commenting on only the second of the two sentences, remaining silent about the first; or (3) by failing to comment on either sentence. All three of these approaches miss the fact that, when read in context, the use of skins in the second sentence appears to form part of a historical explanation of the use of skin in the first sentence. Here is the text:

Now the heads of the Lamanites were shorn; and they were naked, save it were skin which was girded about their loins, and also their armor, which was girded about them, and their bows, and their arrows, and their stones, and their slings, and so forth. And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men. (Alma 3:5–6)

According to a reading I will defend in the course of this article, this passage suggests the possibility that "the skins of the Lamanites" are to be understood as articles of clothing, the notable girdle of skin that these particular Lamanites wear to cover their nakedness. Significantly, these are the only two references to skins in Alma 3, which contains the Book of Mormon's most thorough explanation of the Lamanite curse and the curse's relationship to skins. Thus situated, Alma 3:5–6 might serve as an interpretive Rosetta stone. If both instances of skins in Alma 3:5–6 refer to clothing, then the other five references to various-colored or cursed skins in the Book of Mormon could also refer to clothing and not—as traditionally assumed—to human flesh pigmentation.

Such a nontraditional interpretation garners additional support from the critical textual work of Royal Skousen. In his nigh-exhaustive Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon, Skousen claims that the Book of Mormon uses the indefinite article a with the singular skin to refer to animal skins. Skousen specifically points to the use of the indefinite article a in Enos 1:20 ("a short skin"), Alma 43:20 ("a skin"), and 3 Nephi 4:7 ("a lamb-skin"). Intriguingly, this same syntactical pattern also holds true in the KJV, in which the only passages using the indefinite article a with skin are unambiguous references to clothing (see Leviticus 13:48, 51; Mark 1:6). However, Skousen fails to note that other than those three Book of Mormon passages he cites, the only other instance of the indefinite article a preceding skin in the Book of Mormon appears in 2 Nephi 5:21 in which "the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon [the Lamanites]." Skousen's comparison of Enos 1:20; Alma 43:20; and 3 Nephi 4:7 would appear to suggest that when the text of the Book of Mormon describes "a skin of blackness" in 2 Nephi 5:21, it is referring to something made of animal skin.
{continued...}

Jeff Lindsay said...

{continuing quote from Sproat}

In light of these textual observations, I find myself asking a beguilingly simple question: what might be discovered if we follow the contextual lead of Alma 3:5–6—and the syntactical hint in 2 Nephi 5:21—and assume that the other four references to various-colored or cursed skins in the Book of Mormon narrative also refer to certain types of clothing made of animal skin and not to flesh pigmentation at all? It turns out we can discover quite a bit. In this article, I will argue that if the various-colored skins in the Book of Mormon can be understood coherently as certain types of clothing, then two other interpretive observations follow. First, the various-colored skins in the Book of Mormon can be interpreted as a type of garment associated with the Nephite temple. Second, the mark of the Lamanite curse would seem to be self-administered, removable, and inherited in the same way that covenantal vestments in the KJV are self-administered, removable, and inherited.
{end quote}

The question you ask is whether Nephi's wording would be guided by Alma's usage of terminology since Alma came later. Fair question.

One thing to note about the Book of Mormon is the remarkable consistency in its language. Different writers have distinct styles and may use different words (Alma, for example, uses "state" a lot compared to everyone else and Jacob writes with much more emphasis on feelings and the human heart, and Mormon, of course, is keenly interested in military details and often draws moral lessons from events with "and thus we see"), but many formulas persist across generations and the many commonalities in language unite the text. The unity of the text, in spite of clear differences in style and voice between writers, can come from several sources. For those who reject the Book of Mormon, you can say it's all Joseph Smith and the differences in voice and style are just his effort to fake different voices and styles. But if we give the text a chance with an open mind, if we consider the possibility that this might be a real ancient record, then the unity in the usage of many terms may be due to:
(1) unity in the original ancient sources of the text that comes from (a) writers using a common language and scribal techniques passed on from father to son or one writer to another and/or (b) familiarity with and reliance on the foundational scriptural writings of the Nephites, including the brass plates and the writings of previous Nephite writers,
(2) unity in redacted text provided by Mormon and Moroni in their efforts, conscious or otherwise, to unify and clarify the edited record,
(3) unity in the English translation either (a) as revealed to Joseph Smith or (b) based on Joseph's choice of wording or rewording in response to whatever he saw or received in the divine translation process and (relatively minor) subsequent editorial work.

So there's no need to assume that Sproat's argument relies on Nephi being magically influenced by Alma's terminology. At most, it assumes that there is a unity in the text either from the influence of Hebrew, of scribal practices and norms, of later Nephite editorial work, or of the translation work into English. In any case, assuming consistency in the text is the most reasonable approach to understand its intricacies and to decode its clues about meaning. Sproat is stepping back from the assumptions we have been imposing on the text for decades and asking what the text might actually be telling us. It's a fair approach with a surprising tentative conclusion.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, if the “skin of blackness” is a bit of clothing that Lamanites can wear or not, as they please, then it sure doesn’t seem like much of a curse. Nor does it seem likely to accomplish its purpose of making Lamanites sexually unattractive to Nephites. It still makes much more sense to see the curse as exactly what it sounds like, exactly what the Church itself and its prophets have so long held it to be: a dark skin like that of Native Americans.

I would add that the text’s use of the indefinite article “a,” while consistent with Sproat’s reading, is also completely consistent with the traditional racial interpretation. The “pattern” Sproat detects is nothing more than English grammar.

— OK

Anonymous said...

"The more reasonable and open-minded approach is to consider the text as a whole and give it a chance to tell us its story, rather than forcing your story upon it. "

The "critics" said that first Jeff.

Anonymous said...

Precisely, Anon 11:36. Taken as a whole, the text screams out “I am a 19th-century American’s attempt to integrate my beloved country into my equally beloved Christian mythos while also, as a sort of bonus, solving the mystery of Native American origins.”

— OK

Anonymous said...

There are people that take the blue pill, then there is Jeff, a blue pill manufacturer. Following Oak's formula, as along as an apologist's mouth moves in retort, no matter how off the wall, bizarre, and deceitful it is, then "plausibility" must exist, even if its improbability radically reconstructs the nature of God into a deceiver. Of course, merely moving the mouth does not a retort make, but the people taking the blue pill just desperately want a blue pill, its potency is irrelevant. The gas-lighting is just so unethical .... prophet Jeff is constantly receiving epiphanies of what the text really meant all along, mass producing those blue pills like pulp fiction.

Jeff Lindsay said...

OK, consider the text:

Alma 3:6: "And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren...."

The "skins," whether literal and genetic or a symbol of apostasy and loss of temple blessings, are not the curse itself, but "according to" ("consistent with"?) the "mark" (sign or distinguishing feature, per the Hebrew for "mark" used in the OT, Strong's H226) which was "a curse" (perhaps one of many) for the rebellion of the Lamanites.

Here the nature of "marks" and "skins" can be better understood in context, following Royal Skousen's The Earliest Text which seeks to provide the Book of Mormon as originally dictated with punctuation added to be consistent meaning:

4 And the Amlicites were distinguished from the Nephites,
for they had marked themselves with red in their foreheads after the manner of the Lamanites;
nevertheless they had not shorn their heads like unto the Lamanites.

5 Now the heads of the Lamanites were shorn;
and they were naked, save it were a skin which was girded about their loins--
and also their armor which was girded about them, and their bows and their arrows and their stones and their slings, etc.


6 And the skins of the Lamanites were dark,
according to the mark which was set upon their fathers,
which was a curse upon them
because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren,
which consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, which were just and holy men;

7 and their brethren sought to destroy them.
Therefore they were cursed,
and the Lord God set a mark upon them,
yea, upon Laman and Lemuel,
and also the sons of Ishmael and Ishmaelitish women.

8 And this was done
that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren,
that thereby the Lord God might preserve his people,
that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions,
which would prove their destruction.

9 And it came to pass that
whosoever did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites
did bring the same curse upon his seed.

10 Therefore whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites were called under that head, and there was a mark set upon him.


11 And it came to pass that
whosoever would not believe in the tradition of the Lamanites,
but believed those records which were brought out of the land of Jerusalem,
and also in the tradition of their fathers, which were correct,
which believed in the commandments of God and kept them,
were called the Nephites or the people of Nephi
from that time forth.

12 And it is they which have kept the records which are true,
of their people and also of the people of the Lamanites.

Here the mark upon the Amlicites is something they apply. After reading of the self-inflicted "mark" of disobedience, we next read about what the Lamanites wore, including skins. And then we read that the skins of the Lamanites were dark, serving as a mark, for those who opposed righteous Nephites were cursed and marked.

Who got the mark? It was "upon Laman and Lemuel,
and also the sons of Ishmael and Ishmaelitish women." Not the daughters of Lehi who married sons of Ishmael. Not the wives of Laman or Lemuel. "Ishmaelitish women" is in the phrase "and also the sons of Ishmael and Ishmaelitish women." The mark of "dark skins" was on men, the likely priesthood holders in Lamanite religion, whose attire at least in religious settings would appear dark and apostate to faithful Nephites. Based on the context and wording, we learn that the "mark" can be put on voluntarily, that it's upon males and not necessarily all, and that it can come upon those who accept Lamanite religion, not just upon their offspring, as if the mark were more related to belief and behavior than genes.

Jeff Lindsay said...

2 Nephi 5 also needs to be considered.

For their rebellion and attempts to kill Nephi, they were cursed in vs. 20 with being "cut off from the presence of the Lord" (though the word "curse" is not used in this verse, what is described is a curse in a covenant context: a punishment given as stipulated by the terms of a covenant and previous commandment). If some aspects of the cursing for disobedience are conveyed by a wearable priestly symbol of rebellion, "a skin of blackness" as a sign of anathema for religious apostasy, then to those who valued their faith, that symbol of rebellion and lack of priestly authority would be a reminder of the curse and the loss of blessings that might come to one's posterity by marrying outside the faith. The symbols of a false priesthood can serve as warning to the Nephites to not mingle with the apostates.

If you are a deep-blue liberal Democrat, how attracted would you be to an otherwise attractive person who was wearing a MAGA cap or had a prominent "I love Trump" tattoo? "Marks" with clear ideological/religious meaning can have a profound influence on someone steeped in an opposing tradition, much more so than a slight difference in skin pigmentation. (The Nephites from the Middle East may have had a beautiful olive-toned skin, not all that much lighter than modern Native Americans.)

Consistent with Sproat's analysis of Alma 3:5-7, note that the context around 2 Nephi 5:21, namely the passage in 2 Nephi 5:16-26, begins and ends with reference to the temple and priestly ministry, a point I don't think Sproat mentioned but which strengthens his argument. It also involves the issue of who has the right to rule and preside, which are related issues. Here I'm just using the version from the older but online the Univ. of Michigan source to save time (a quick scan of Skousen's text didn't reveal any noteworthy changes that I should add, but I may be missing something). Text to follow.

Jeff Lindsay said...

2 Nephi 5:16-26:

[16] And I, Nephi, did build a temple....

[17] And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands.

[18] And it came to pass that they would that I should be their king. But I, Nephi, was desirous that they should have no king; nevertheless, I did for them according to that which was in my power.

[19] And behold, the words of the Lord had been fulfilled unto my brethren, which he spake concerning them, that I should be their ruler and their teacher. Wherefore, I had been their ruler and their teacher, according to the commandments of the Lord, until the time they sought to take away my life.

[20] Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.

[21] And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

[22] And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

[23] And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.

[24] And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.

[25] And the Lord God said unto me: They shall be a scourge unto thy seed....

[26] And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did consecrate Jacob and Joseph, that they should be priests and teachers over the land of my people.

Note here that the manifestation of the cursing need not be genetic, but behavioral: "idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey" -- factors that to the religious, hard-working agrarian Nephites apparently were appalling. And again, joining the Lamanites brought this curse directly upon any Nephite apostate, not just upon posterity. The contrast that is meant to keep Nephites with their own faith and culture may simply be one of behavior and religious belief and practice, not an improved skin tone (here applying my personal bias) for the Lamanites.

Big contrasts are shown here: the Nephites have the legitimate temple and priesthood, and the proper authority to rule. They have the truth, while their rebellious cousins have been cut off from the presence of the Lord and have a false priesthood. The Nephites labor with their own hands, while the curse on the Lamanites is expressed through their laziness and mischief and hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Understanding the skins worn by Lamanite men as repulsive symbols of their heresy and apostate priesthood and unseemly behavior makes good sense, especially in light of the wording of Alma 3.

This is something that is hard for many to accept who have assumed all these years that these passages reflect traditional racism and the idea of enhanced skin tone being a divine curse. But if we drop that presupposition, a careful reading of the text shows we all may have been making some unjustified assumptions all along. When we drop the racial assumptions, we can understand why Alma 55 shows us that Moroni had to have people do a careful search to see if there were any Lamanites in his army, and why that Lamanite man accompanied by Nephites could fool Lamanite guards into thinking they were a group of fellow Lamanites. Alma 55 isn't a grave inconsistency, but one of several clues that help us drop old errant assumptions about the text and read it more carefully.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Naturally, I understand that many commenters have not had time or motivation to read much less carefully consider Sproat's article. But here's one more portion I'll extract for your consideration, but hope you'll read the full article, including the discussion of the Nephite temple.

{begin quote}
But more importantly than any ethical motivation, I find a traditional racial interpretation unsatisfying for a simple textual reason: nothing in the text of the Book of Mormon itself positively or unambiguously indicates that the various-colored or cursed skins are definitely human flesh.[11] Instead, a racial interpretation apparently relies on the textual ambiguity that it is possible for the term skins to refer to human flesh (as opposed to clothing or animal hide). At most, some surrounding passages indicate that a curse can be generationally perpetuated through mingling or mixing seed (see, for example, 2 Nephi 5:23; Alma 3:9, 14–15). But to read descriptions of transgenerational curses and then conclude that the associated skins are descriptions of human flesh is to rely on the inference that transgenerational curses can be interpreted racially (as opposed to culturally or ideologically).

Such inference was perhaps ostensibly sensible and self-explanatory to the Book of Mormon’s initial Euro-American, nineteenth-century audience....

The dilemma is that a long-held and widely circulated inference is still only an inference—not a definitive observation. While most any textual interpretation (including my own) incorporates inferences, some interpretive inferences have more textual support than others. A striking aspect of racial interpretations of the various-colored skins in the Book of Mormon is the absence of any definitive internal textual support. I am not suggesting that the immediate context for every ambiguous passage contradicts traditional racial interpretations. But without more exploration into the contextual evidence, traditional racial interpretations seem to proceed from the subtle but significant assumption that the various-colored skins refer to human flesh.

Traditional racial interpretations thus face a textual burden that is at least threefold. First, should we assume that the skin referenced in Alma 3:5 be interpreted differently from the skins referenced in the very next sentence in Alma 3:6? Second, should we assume that the use of the indefinite article a with skin in 2 Nephi 5:21 be interpreted differently from all other similar uses in the Book of Mormon and KJV, including Enos 1:20; Alma 43:20; 3 Nephi 4:7; Leviticus 13:48, 51; and Mark 1:6? And third, should we assume that the other four ambiguous references refer to flesh pigmentation without examining their contextual implications beyond the assumptions of nineteenth-century readers of the Book of Mormon? In the end, although a wealth of secondary literature and scholarship spanning from 1830 to 2015 assumes a racial interpretation of the Book of Mormon’s talk of skins, I see nothing in the text itself that privileges a racial interpretation.


Footnote 11. It should be noted how frequently skins refers to animal skins in the Book of Mormon and the KJV. In addition to already-cited Book of Mormon passages referring to animal skins used as clothing, the word skins refers to the animal hide used to make a bellows (see 1 Nephi 17:11). In the KJV (excluding Leviticus 13, which addresses how to treat diseases of the skin—such as leprosy), twenty-four of the forty-four uses of the word skin(s) refer to clothing of some sort. Interestingly, in the three Book of Mormon references to skins where human flesh is unambiguously meant (see Mosiah 17:13; Alma 20:29; 44:18), it is always within the context of an injury to the flesh.
{end quote}

Anonymous said...

What if the "old errant assumptions" aren't actual errant, but accurate? Would there be something wrong with that? It is neat that can construct pet theories and all, but what is your motive?

Anonymous said...

So now the mark distinguishing the Lamanites from the Nephites is nothing more than a MAGA cap. Good grief. Such a piffling God.

And yes, let’s consider the text: “And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers.” The most obvious reading here is still that the Lamanites inherited a dark skin (epidermis, flesh) from their fathers. Smith and his readers would of course have been perfectly familiar with the heritability of skin color. The idea of a heritable clothing style, by contrast, would have struck both them — and the ancient Israelites! — as pretty strange, as would the idea of a curse being indicated by that clothing style. The association of a curse and a black skin would be very familiar, of course, as part of American racial ideology. So, in order to avoid believing that Joseph did something very typical of his time, we are to believe that God did something completely atypical in the long history of his people. Sure, Jeff.

What you are describing seems less Iike a curse than a sumptuary law (a law that, among other things, tries to reinforce social divisions by dictating the kinds of clothing worn by different classes of people). Which brings me to this: ”And it came to pass that
whosoever did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites did bring the same curse upon his seed.” Notice that this is a perfect expression of the “one drop” rule of Joseph Smith’s America. Hmmm. But if it doesn’t involve dark flesh, but only loincloths, how exactly do you suppose this “curse” was enforced? Did God delegate some angel to walk around Lamanite cities looking for Lamanites not wearing the right color loincloths, like a BYU dean prowling the campus making sure no man’s hair touches his collar? Seems most impractical! It seems it would be a lot more sensible to make adherence involuntary by just genetically altering the Lamanites’ epidermis.

And thank you for providing us all with this additional evidence of the Book of Mormon’s 19th-century origins: “for they had marked themselves with red in their foreheads after the manner of the Lamanites; nevertheless they had not shorn their heads like unto the Lamanites. Now the heads of the Lamanites were shorn; and they were naked, save it were a skin which was girded about their loins....” This sounds very much like Native American practices in Joseph Smith’s time and place. Images like this one, of Native Americans sporting shaved heads and loincloths, were ubiquitous in Smith’s world: https://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large-5/warriors-randy-steele.jpg

In any event, the text says the Amlicites marked themselves. It doesn’t say God causes a mark to ”come upon them,” as in the case of the original Lamanite marking. One is divine, the other not. One is associated with a curse, the other not. One is genetically transmissible, the other not. You might as well argue that my decision to wear a black suit has some bearing on my neighbor’s black skin.

— OK

Anonymous said...

Excellent question, Anon 3:12.

There’s a story that used to be told in English classes about contexts, assumptions, and the interpretation of texts. It’s been a long time since I was in school, but I remember it something like this:

Imagine a sign at the bottom of an escalator that says, “Dogs must be carried on escalators.” Now, we all know what that means: if you have a dog with you, and you are planning to go up the escalator with said dog, you must carry it as you ride up.

But of course, strictly as a matter of semantics, the sign could mean something different. It could mean that only people carrying dogs may ride the escalators, so that if you’re planning to go up, and you don’t have a dog, well by golly you’ll need to go out and obtain one. Or it could be some kind of metaphysical statement about the need to carry dogs up escalators, a statement in the same spirit, perhaps, as “One must always walk in the light of the Lord” or “Choose the right.”

The text could probably mean other things as well. But we nonetheless know that it doesn’t really mean those things, and the reason is that we understand it in the proper context. We understand certain relevant particulars of escalator-riding. We know that a dog’s claws could get caught in the mechanism, it could get underfoot and cause someone to fall and be injured, etc. And we assume there’s no religion so absurd as to require the carrying of dogs on escalators.

Ah, but wait! What if all those things are just old, errant ASSUMPTIONS?

What if someone has spirited the sign away from its original home at the First Church of Canine Truth and Light and posted it, no doubt with a sly grin, at the foot of the escalator? Then our initial reading, which had seemed so obvious and so sensible, would turn out to have been wrong! The sign was really making a metaphysical statement all along!

The point is that “the text itself” is always polysemous, capable of conveying more than one meaning. In most ordinary uses of language we get the correct one because we understand the context, share basic assumptions with the author, etc. But if for some reason one wants to, one can always argue for some other meaning simply by arguing for a different context and assumptions, as Jeff is doing here by seizing on the ambiguity between skin-as-flesh and skin-as-clothing. The idea that God would curse people and have a loincloth of blackness “come upon them” is not quite as absurd as that of a First Church of Canine Truth and Light, but it’s close.

— OK

Anonymous said...

“ask if you've considered his thesis and the Book of Mormon text fairly, or are using your assumed knowledge of what it must be to attack the evidence he presents? When you declare that the story in Alma 55 is an "inconsistency" rather than evidence from the text itself about the nature of the Lamanites”

I have considered his thesis fairly and enumerated several reasons why it is hogwash. Because it is hogwash, the story in Alma 55 cannot support it.

This story seems to be an inconsistency based on what I know about the text and its origins. There may be some other explanation within the text that I am unaware of which could demonstrate how two visibly different races could mistake one for another, but I have yet to see it. Care to pull it out of your hat? Otherwise, this seems to be an inconsistency in the narrative—someone forgot about the cursed skins.

Anonymous said...

“There had to be light from the evening sun or from torches. The Lamanite guards never noticed that the men accompanying the Lamanite speaker were Nephites.”

Precisely. And based on what we know about the curse from multiple mentions (ie : this was done that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren), we have an unexplained inconsistency in the narrative.

Anonymous said...

Who is "tearing down the Church"? Jeff is the only one telling Mormons their dearly held beliefs are errant.

Anonymous said...

“Sproat is stepping back from the assumptions we have been imposing on the text for decades and asking what the text might actually be telling us.”

As I have shown above, he’s most definitely not doing this. He is using an unsupportable reading of the text to concoct a theory that makes his beloved Book of Mormon and religion seem less racist.

Anonymous said...

“Who got the mark? It was ‘upon Laman and Lemuel,
and also the sons of Ishmael and Ishmaelitish women.’ Not the daughters of Lehi who married sons of Ishmael. Not the wives of Laman or Lemuel. ‘Ishmaelitish women’ is in the phrase ‘and also the sons of Ishmael and Ishmaelitish women.’ The mark of "dark skins" was on men”

You realize how lame that reasoning is, correct? Just because the list of those cursed wasn’t exhaustive doesn’t mean it excluded people. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume it did. The mark was also on Ishmaelitish women, not just men. We are also told it was passed on to their seed. So even if Laman and Lemuel’s wives avoided the curse, we are told their progeny did not.

Anonymous said...

“a point I don't think Sproat mentioned”

This is a point Sproat raised in the latter portion of his essay (temple, not priesthood). He insists the curse portions are “bookended” by temple talk. In this instance, Nephi mentions he built a temple (see your quote below), after he lists other things he did and made (swords, buildings, and precious things*). Once he describes the temple he built, he continues to list other things he did, like making his people be industrious (making them labor with their hands), refusing to be king (how American of him!), being a ruler (but not king!) and teacher. There is no textual nor narrative link between the temple and the curse. They are related only by relative proximity within the text, not by the theme nor the context of the rest of the chapter.

As for consecrating Jacob and Joseph, again, there is no textual, nor contextual link between that action and the curse. The only link is proximity within the text. He seems to be continuing a list of accomplishments, or better, an accounting of what has happened with his family and people since their arrival in the promised land.

I didn’t address this in my first response because it seemed a weak and truly unsupportable argument.

*I find it funny that in verse 15, Nephi says he taught his people to “work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance.” And in the next verse disclaims that their temple, though patterned after Solomon’s, was “not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land.”

Anonymous said...

“Note here that the manifestation of the cursing need not be genetic, but behavioral”

I think you’d find some psychologists, especially those who work with addiction, who would take issue with this statement.

Anonymous said...

OK 6:30

Well put.

Anonymous said...

"Also the sons of Ishmael and Ishmaelitish women" can be read naturally as the sons of the both Ishmael and the sons of the Ishmaelitish women.

Jeff Lindsay said...

One problem, though, is that my reading related to the (sons?) of the Ishmaelitish women is that it's not decisive and can also be read as meaning the Ishmaelitish women had a mark as well under the curse. But the real curse is the curse of being cut off from the presence of God. The mark is an indicator or symptom, and it can be self-imposed. Likewise, those who repent can be freed from the curse.

The curse would come upon those who rebelled and accepted Lamanite beliefs. The mark to distinguish the Lamanites from Nephites was there as a barrier, "that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their destruction" (Alma 3:8). Preventing apostate belief, not kids with Lamanite genes, was the purpose. But of course, once someone leaves their faith and aligns with an opposing tradition, the children will be raised outside the faith and that will persist for generation after generation unless extraordinary things happen. But the "mark" didn't wait for kids to be born. Those who were led away by the Lamanites and joined them in their rebellion had the mark upon them as well (Alma 3:10), just as we saw with the Amlicites and their clearly non-genetic mark. An inconsistency or a clue?

So yes, the descendants of those who rebelled would normally remain under the curse/mark, but this was not a matter of genetics. The self-imposed mark of the rebellious Amlicites was expressly declared to be a fulfillment of the declaration that the mark would be upon rebels and their seed unless they repent (see Alma 3:14). It's clearly talking about the beliefs, traditions, and a curse that can also be removed simply by repenting. From Alma 3:

[13] Now we will return again to the Amlicites, for they also had a mark set upon them; yea, they set the mark upon themselves, yea, even a mark of red upon their foreheads.

[14] Thus the word of God is fulfilled, for these are the words which he said to Nephi: Behold, the Lamanites have I cursed, and I will set a mark on them that they and their seed may be separated from thee and thy seed, from this time henceforth and forever, except they repent of their wickedness and turn to me that I may have mercy upon them.

[15] And again: I will set a mark upon him that mingleth his seed with thy brethren, that they may be cursed also.

[16] And again: I will set a mark upon him that fighteth against thee and thy seed.

[17] And again, I say he that departeth from thee shall no more be called thy seed; and I will bless thee, and whomsoever shall be called thy seed, henceforth and forever; and these were the promises of the Lord unto Nephi and to his seed.

[18] Now the Amlicites knew not that they were fulfilling the words of God when they began to mark themselves in their foreheads; nevertheless they had come out in open rebellion against God; therefore it was expedient that the curse should fall upon them.

[19] Now I would that ye should see that they brought upon themselves the curse; and even so doth every man that is cursed bring upon himself his own condemnation.

It was open rebellion against God that brought the curse (being cut off from the presence of God) and a distinguishing mark upon the Amlicites, one that would certainly affect their children not by genetics but be the traditions and beliefs they were given.

Jeff Lindsay said...

On the other hand, those who rejected the traditions of the Lamanites were called Nephites (Alma 3:10) -- and while this was originally a matter of lineage, it clearly becomes a social, political, and religious matter in the Book of Mormon as Lamanites who accept the Gospel are numbered among the Nephites.

The warning against "mixing" with the Lamanites is linked to the risk of accepting their traditions, which would lead to destruction (Alma 3:8). This is followed much later in Alma (Alma 35:10) by the example of the formerly Nephite Zoramites, who rebel and "began to mix with the Lamanites." The result is immediate danger and the threat of destruction for the Nephite people as the Zoramites stir the Lamanites up to war (Alma 35:10,11). Later we read that the Zoramites "became Lamanites" and launched a war against the Nephites (Alma 43:4). There's no mention of any children or genetic mixing, just the fact that they had rebelled and were now seeking the destruction and bondage of the Nephites (Alma 43:8). (A mark is not mentioned.)

If you begin with the belief that Joseph is making all this up based upon the racism of the 19th century, then of course you'll see all of this as just ordinary racial bigotry and points that don't fit are ignored or called inconsistencies. But if you give the Book of Mormon a chance and ask if it actually declares that these references to skin actually refer to pigmented human skin, you'll see that Sproat has a reasonable point. Understanding how the ancient Near East used "black" and "white" symbolically and the role of vestments and temple worship, then we can see that the Book of Mormon might be telling a more nuanced story about the Lamanites and Nephites than we have assumed, and that alleged inconsistencies are part of a consistent record after all. We may have been imposing our views on a text that isn't actually saying what we think.

Anonymous said...

Not much time to respond right now, Jeff, but I’d like to mention two things.

First, consider this key quote:

“... wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”

Previously, the Lamanites “were white.” The text doesn’t say the Lamanites wore white loincloths, it says they were white. If the sign of the curse were a black loincloth rather than dark flesh, the structure of the passage would make no sense. The structure would be relating something innate to something mutable and superficial. It would be like saying, “Previously she had high cheekbones and sparkling eyes, but now she wears green dresses.”

Second, even if one grants the plausibility of your reading, the fact remains that the Book of Mormon is describing the curse using the conceptual vocabulary used in Smith’s day to discuss matters of slavery, miscegenation, and racial origins. Do you really expect us to believe that’s just a coincidence?

— OK

Anonymous said...

"But if you give the Book of Mormon a chance" So now Brigham Young and folks just didn't give the Book of Mormon a chance. Thank God we have a modern, living progressive society to guide us through stumbling blocks such as the Book of Mormon. Thanks for giving it a chance Jeff.

Anonymous said...

This is an example of apologetics going wrong, Jeff. Many LDS want to bowdlerize the text, and some adopt strained readings to do so, like Sproat. Alma 3:6 doesn't refer to animal skins. It's human skin, which is quite clear once you consider the relevant verses with skin(s) in them and see that human possession of skin is human skin. Don't get it wrong by trying to clean up textual readings in order to make it read more acceptably for us today.

Anonymous said...

“Sproat is stepping back from the assumptions we have been imposing on the text for decades and asking what the text might actually be telling us.”

Sproat steps back and imposes a whole new set of assumptions on the text that require us to ignore the actual language and context present in the text. Forcing the concept that “skins” were meant to be a temple garment is a much bigger ask of the text than a “traditional” reading would be.

I’ve mentioned this before in other posts, but it bears mentioning again. Why is it these pet theories of yours require us to suspend disbelief or read a text in an unorthodox, or sometimes outright nonsensical way? As has been pointed out, mere plausibility is a very weak point from which to argue. If your theories consistently require active imagination to make sense, it may be time to reevaluate your adherence to them.

Anonymous said...

“Those who were led away by the Lamanites and joined them in their rebellion had the mark upon them as well (Alma 3:10), just as we saw with the Amlicites and their clearly non-genetic mark.”

This is an assumption based on reading Alma 10 without its proper context. If you would have included verse 9 as well you would have shown that the “mark set upon him” was a result of “mingl[ing] his seed with that of the Lamanites:”

9 And it came to pass that whosoever did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites did bring the same curse upon his seed.

10 Therefore, whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites was called under that head, and there was a mark set upon him.

Anonymous said...

You see how the Mormons are. Anyone that does not play the wink, wink game pretending like reality is not there is attacked as a bitter, hostile force that does not give the Book of Mormon a chance and is just tearing down the Church. No wonder people are leaving the Church, it is not the history, it is the current attitude.

Anonymous said...

The epicanthic fold and skin pigmentation variation have in fact separated humanity for at least thousands of years. Long standing Mormon belief explained this undisputed fact neatly, even if uncomfortably by today's moral universe. If all humanity is descended from perfectly designed and previously immortal Adam and Eve, how did clockwork adaption without divine intervention occur in a mere 7000 years? Jeff declares it "unfounded human fantasy that it all happened by chance". If he is to suddenly reject previous orthodoxy, doesn't he need a replacement explanation for that which was previously explained? If the races did not just randomly come into existence as a matter of chance in a merely 1000 years after Adam and God did not do it, then how? If God did do it, then why wouldn't the previous orthodox reading the Book of Mormon be highly probable.

Jeff Lindsay said...

When presentism reigns, some degree of active imagination may be needed to see an ancient account for what it is. We read something about skins and color, and instantly assume 19th-century racism is at play, and any other explanation is just "mental gymnastics." But Sproat is right to at least ask if human skin is necessarily meant.

As with many issues, this one may be more complicated than expected based on either our instincts or Sproat's reconsideration. In other words, it's still possible that there was a human skin aspect involved in some cases, as well as a ritualistic/religious aspect related to priestly robes, as well as the metaphorical meanings that some have argued for and Sproat argues against. As for actual human skin, yes, it's still possible there were some genetic differences from mingling with various local peoples, but another possibility is that the Lamanites, like the Amlicites, had a self-imposed mark as well. The story of the Amlicites in Alma 3 indicates that the marking made by the Amlicites was like what the Lamanites did, for they "had marked themselves with red in their foreheads after the manner of the Lamanites" (Alma 3:4). This need not have been just a little paint that washes off.

Anonymous said...

Here’s how the aforementioned key passage reads in the Sproat-Lindsay translation:

“... wherefore, as they were in the habit of wearing white clothes, which made them exceedingly well dressed and delightsome, that they might not no longer get dates to the prom the Lord God did cause them to mark themselves with black loincloths.”

— OK

Anonymous said...

“If the races did not just randomly come into existence as a matter of chance in a merely 1000 years after Adam and God did not do it, then how? If God did do it, then why wouldn't the previous orthodox reading the Book of Mormon be highly probable.”

This is a great point. Traditions of the development of the races all tend to have a racist bent because they were developed in a period when knowledge was extremely limited. Concepts of God (gods), behavior, creation, etc, were originated, for the most part, by superstitious natives. Is the tower of Babel truly the best (believable) explanation for language dispersion and development?

The BoM, from the beginning, explained the origins of the Native Americans Joseph and his compatriots were familiar with. This was well accepted and understood. It was meant to be the origin story of the American Indians. It conveniently explained how the tradition that Indians were descendants of the lost tribes was correct. It highlighted the tradition that America was a promised land reserved for the righteous. It explained the earthen works discovered by early American explorers (still present and visible in Joseph’s day) and the other evidences of a more advanced society that had collapsed. The book should be viewed within its proper historical context. When one does that, a 19th century explanation of how race came to be, as a result of a curse of God, is easily the clearest reading here. The language matches. The attitudes match. The theories match.

Anonymous said...

Yes and only one language (the Jaredite language) was the Adamic language. God physically altered neurons, radically changing a person's identity (language) [massive agency questions there]. The same for DNA. Did Adam and Eve, made in the God's image, have the epicanthic fold? Were they black, white, or in between? Jeff can play Amalekite distractor games all day, but they are still just distractors. The impulse to engage in them counters the argument that the Church possesses a revelation ability the rest of humanity lacks. On such fundamental questions of identity, origin, etc, we are told the Church is neutral (agnostic???). Questions are dismissed as trivial and not meriting a need for revelation. How convenient. The revelation is no revelation required, you are defective soul if you had the naughty thought that revelation tool should be applied here.

Anonymous said...

If the Mormon's had the revelation they claim they have this blog would not be necessary.

Anonymous said...

Apologetics is nonsense cloaked in the language and trappings of scholarship.