Nathan (vovat) wrote,
Nathan
vovat

Thursdays with Moroni, Part 4: Those Dang-Blasted Injuns!

You know, even if the idea that there was a lost civilization in America descended from pre-exilic Jews is an odd basis for a religion, you'd think it would at least be an interesting fictional premise, right? I mean, Joseph Smith had the opportunity to invent an entire history for these people. Unfortunately, what he came up with was kind of boring and hard to follow.

In the Book of Mosiah, which covers a fair amount of Smith's invented history (Smithstory?), King Benjamin builds a tower at the temple, and the words of God emerge from it. And, um, I think King Noah also builds a tower in the same place? I don't know; this book is confusing, and skips back and forth through time. It would be one thing if there were other references to give a better sense of time. We do, however, learn that the book covers up through 509 years after Lehi left Jerusalem, which means we're getting closer to when Jesus walked the Earth. Not that it really matters for the Nephites, who somehow knew all about Jesus centuries ahead of time.

Anyway, this King Noah is said to have done a lot of bad stuff, including having many wives and concubines (unlike the author of this book...oh, wait) and levying a 20% tax on his subjects. Yeah, the flat tax IS a dumb idea, if that's what this is about. Noah also puts one preacher of Jesus (Abinadi) to death, and wants the followers of another one (Alma) destroyed. He never gets a chance to carry out this latter goal, though, due to troubles with the Lamanites. These guys are described as "a very cunning people; delighting in all manner of wickedness and plunder." They're also pathetic drunks, whom Noah's successor Limhi and his subjects manage to escape by getting them drunk on the firewater. Yeah, Joe, we get it. You don't like the Indians.

This confusing narrative also makes reference to several places, including Helam, Amulon, Shemlon, Shilon, Valley of Alma, and Zarahemla. Were these places supposed to be identified with ones in the nineteenth century United States, or did Smith just hedge his bets by making up locations that could have been anywhere?
Tags: mormonism, religion
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