September 24th, 2009



  • 00:20 RT @peeweeherman I'm back! Follow Pee-wee! Someone who RT's this gets a phone call from me tonight! #peewee #
  • 08:10 Photo: Of course, if it were up to Rand’s followers, there wouldn’t BE any trees anyway. bronz-age: #
  • 14:21 @TheRealTavie Why not just play Dungeons & Dragons? Then you can slay imaginary monsters, instead of just owning an imaginary team. #
  • 14:22 @TheRealTavie He's not JER Michael! He's MY Michael! #
  • 14:23 @3x1minus1</ a> Why even keep in the S, if it has nothing to do with Saturdays? #
  • 14:24 @MikeConway I always knew Snoopy had a sinister side. What kind of dog has no respect for his own human companion? #
  • 14:28 @SarahKSilverman The animals or the bulldozers? #
  • 14:41 Photo: trixietreats: #
  • 16:24 Photo: A map from “Masters of the Universe,” with some obvious similarities to Oz.  Who knew that Eternia had... #<
  • 16:31 I hate it when people claim to have common sense. I think that's another thing where, if you see the need to announce it, you don't have it. #
  • 16:50 Stop starting revolutions, and start bitching. #
  • 16:59 Did I just hear Oprah say that Mackenzie Phillips' incestuous relationship with her dad was "meant to be"? #
  • 17:00 Photo: bronz-age: #
  • 17:06 @rainnwilson The dictionary says it dates back to the early twentieth century, but I don't think I heard it before the Internet. #

  • 17:15 Photo: Wasn’t Mario also the referee in Punch-Out? samuraifrog: #
  • 23:20 According to @NowIsStrange, Miley Cyrus sounds like the Southern woman from "Trapped in the Closet." #
  • 23:26 I won't say I find Lady Gaga particularly attractive, but she's definitely intriguing. #
  • 23:31 Photo: Yes, this was from only 66 years ago!  And I get the impression that some people still abide by it.... #
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Thursdays with Moroni, Part 8: I Found the Star

While I don't think I'll be reading the entire Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith's alternative to all those discount pearls, I did make it through the books of Moses and Abraham. Unlike the Book of Mormon, these two are attributed to actual Biblical patriarchs.

The Book of Moses is largely just a retelling of the earlier part of Genesis, but with some added details. Smith was probably holding to the traditional (but almost certainly inaccurate) view that Moses was the author of the Torah/Pentateuch. There's something in it about Moses not wanting anyone to know the extra information, even though most of it isn't all that different from what's in the actual Bible. Satan plays a much larger role in Joe's retelling, having become an enemy of God when the big guy chose Lucifer's brother Jesus to redeem mankind instead of him. So he goes on to mess with mankind, possessing the snake that convinces Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, and making pacts with Cain and his descendant Lamech. We also learn that God told Adam about both Jesus and water baptism. (Speaking of which, I was wrong last week about Smith originally favoring infant baptism; he was actually always against it.) Joe Smith apparently hadn't yet come up with the idea of the Garden of Eden being in Missouri, or at least didn't choose to mention it in this book. He does, however, tell more about Enoch, whom God chose as a prophet and preacher, but Enoch objected due to being "slow of speech." Gee, that sounds familiar. But anyway, Enoch becomes a rather successful religious leader, moving mountains and making rivers change course with his words, as well as founding the city of Zion on some land that magically rose out of the sea. Like some Southern towns, Zion was whites-only, since, in the Mormon universe, darker skin indicates disobedience to God. Eventually, the city itself was taken up to Heaven, but another city of Zion would be founded later.

The Book of Abraham has a rather interesting back story. Smith and some friends of his bought some Egyptian papyri from a travelling exhibit. They turned out to actually be about funeral rites, but Joe claimed that they were written by Abraham, and told some details about God even crazier than what he'd come up with before. The pages had illustrations, but Smith completely misinterpreted them, taking a picture of embalming as an illustration of ritual human sacrifice. According to Joseph's supposed translation, God lives on a planet orbiting the star Kolob, and one of God's years is measured by one revolution of this planet around the star. He was hardly the only person in history to hold to the "God is an alien" idea (I'll have another post on that in the future), but it's really pretty far removed from the more traditional view of the Christian God that the Book of Mormon promotes. The book also shows Smith toying with polytheism, another radical departure from his earlier work. But the blatant racism is still there, with a mention that the first Pharaoh of Egypt couldn't be a priest because he was black.

Where Has All the Magic Gone?

Today, I finished reading The High King, the last book of the original Prydain Chronicles. It was definitely an epic conclusion, bringing in most of the characters from earlier books to play roles in the final battle against Arawn. It was kind of melancholy, though, what with all of the characters either dying or making other sacrifices. And many of the people who survived ended up sailing to the Summer Lands, and since they're described as a place of eternal life from which none of them can return, that's really not a whole lot different from dying, at least from Taran's perspective.

I had heard beforehand that the series ended with all of the magic departing from Prydain, and while this worked better than I feared it would, that's still not a trope that I particularly like. I think part of it ties into my distaste for the dismissal of the whimsical and imaginative as childish, and hence magic as incompatible with a civilized society. But the departure of magic is sometimes also used without the coming-of-age bit, like in Final Fantasy VI, with the disappearance of the magic-producing Espers. Another component is that I prefer when magic is something that operates on scientific principles, and that can be studied like any other academic discipline. Obviously, fantasy series differ in their treatment of magic. The Harry Potter books, for instance, make magic something learned, but it's only available to those who are genetically predisposed to be wizards. The Oz books largely operate on the idea that, as the Shaggy Man sings in Patchwork Girl, "magic is a science." The Wizard of Oz studies under Glinda, and grows from a humbug to a quite skilled magician. On the other hand, there are also cases of someone's ability or knowledge of magic being removed, and suggestions that magic is either less effective or flat-out ineffective in civilized places. I suppose that, if magic didn't have aspects that weren't explained, it wouldn't really BE magic. But I tend to prefer fictional takes that make it a natural part of the world, rather than an unnatural by-product of something, or a force tied in with religion. That doesn't mean a story involving magic HAS to work that way for me to enjoy it; it's just my general preference.