"Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly." – G. K. Chesterton

Posts tagged ‘Mormonism’

A Tale of Two Presidential Candidates

So the Iowa Caucuses have come and gone.  Mitt Romney has cruised to victory by the whomping total of eight votes, while Ron Paul sank to third place.  Coming in second was Rick Santorum, who I haven’t written about and actually know very little about.  If he manages to win some primaries, I may have to start paying attention to him.  Ron Paul is a loony, as I’ve pointed out before, so I imagine Romney will win.  Then again I’ve predicted victories for both Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich during this election cycle, and you can see how well those turned out.  Perhaps I’d do better to stay out of the prediction game.

Instead I’ll focus on a curious instance of hypocricy involving Mr. Paul and Mr. Romney.  It’s no secret that Paul published a string of racist newsletters during the 80’s and 90’s and that he’s know claiming that he had no relationship to them, even thought they have his name in large type across the top, even though he owned the company that published them, even though he puts his signature on this piece of paper:

Most people agree that it was atrocious for Ron Paul to write and do these things, and that the excuses he’s served up to justify it are rather thin.

Now let’s look at Mitt Romney.  He also has a long history of association with a racist organization, namely the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, hereinafter the LDS Church.  While everyone knows that this organization once promotoed polygamy and that they wear funny underwear, fewer people are aware of their racist history.  First they banned blacks from the priesthood until 1978 and only changed that policy when it became clear they’d lose their tax-exempt status if they didn’t.  Second, their leaders have a history of saying things like this:

The reason that one would lose his blessings by marrying a Negro is due to the restriction placed upon them. “No person having the least particle of Negro blood can hold the Priesthood” (Brigham Young). It does not matter if they are one-sixth Negro or one-hundred and sixth, the curse of no Priesthood is the same. … The Lord segregated the people both as to blood and place of residence. At least in the cases of the Lamanites and the Negro we have the definite word of the Lord Himself that he placed a dark skin upon them as a curse — as a punishment and as a sign to all others. He forbade intermarriage with them under threat of extension of the curse. – Apostle Mark Peterson

I think I have read enough to give you an idea of what the Negro is after. He is not just seeking the opportunity of sitting down in a cafe where white people eat. He isn’t just trying to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car with white people. It isn’t that he just desires to go to the same theater as the white people. From this, and other interviews I have read, it appears that the Negro seeks absorption with the white race. He will not be satisfied until he achieves it by intermarriage. That is his objective and we must face it. We must not allow our feelings to carry us away, nor must we feel so sorry for Negroes that we will open our arms and embrace them with everything we have.  – Apostle Mark Peterson

Negroes … are merely the unfortunate group that has been selected by professional Communist agitators to be used as the primary source of cannon fodder. Not one in a thousand Americans — black or white — really understands the full implications of today’s civil rights agitation. The planning, direction, and leadership come from the Communists, and most of those are white men who fully intend to destroy America by spilling Negro blood, rather than their own.  – LDS President Ezra Taft Benson

Yet while everyone agrees that it was wrong for Paul to hobnot with racists, not everyone agrees that it was wrong for Romeny to do so.  In fact, the majority opinion among the chattering classes seems to be that even mentioning Romney’s Mormonism is a type of bigotry.

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Chesterton on Mormonism

With the topic of Mitt Romney’s Mormonism erupting on my blog and elsewhere, it seemed worthwhile to ask G. K. Chesterton whether he had any thoughts on the topic.  He did, not surprisingly.  (Is there any topic on which Chesterton didn’t have thoughts?)  Here they are.

THERE is inevitably something comic (comic in the broad and vulgar style which all men ought to appreciate in its place) about the panic aroused by the presence of the Mormons and their supposed polygamous campaign in this country.

It calls up the absurd image of an enormous omnibus, packed inside with captive English ladies, with an Elder on the box, controlling his horses with the same patriarchal gravity as his wives, and another Elder as conductor calling out “Higher up,” with an exalted and allegorical intonation. And there is something highly fantastic to the ordinary healthy mind in the idea of any precaution being proposed; in the idea of locking the Duchess in the boudoir and the governess in the nursery, lest they should make a dash for Utah, and become the ninety-third Mrs. Abraham Nye, or the hundredth Mrs. Hiram Boke.

But these frankly vulgar jokes, like most vulgar jokes, cover a popular prejudice which is but the bristly hide of a living principle. Elder Ward, recently speaking at Nottingham, strongly protested against these rumours, and asserted absolutely that polygamy had never been practised with the consent of the Mormon Church since 1890. I think it only just that this disclaimer should be circulated; but though it is most probably sincere, I do not find it very soothing. The year 1890 is not very long ago, and a society that could have practised so recently a custom so alien to Christendom must surely have a moral attitude which might be repellent to use in many other respects. Moreover, the phrase about the consent of the Church (if correctly reported) has a little the air of an official repudiating responsibility for unofficial excesses. It sounds almost as if Mr. Abraham Nye might, on his own account, come into church with a hundred and fourteen wives, but people were supposed not to notice them. It might amount to little more than this, that the Chief Elder may allow the hundred and fourteen wives to walk down the street like a girls’ school, but he is not officially expected to take off his hat to each of them in turn. Seriously speaking, however, I have little doubt that Elder Ward speaks the substantial truth, and that polygamy is dying, or has died, among the Mormons. My reason for thinking this is simple; it is that polygamy always tends to die out. Even in the east I believe that, counting heads, it is by this time the exception rather than the rule. Like slavery, it is always being started, because of its obvious conveniences. It has only one small inconvenience, which is that it is intolerable.

Our real error in such a case is that we do not know or care about the creed itself, from which a people’s customs, good or bad, will necessarily flow. We talk much about “respecting” this or that person’s religion; but the way to respect a religion is to treat it as a religion: to ask what are its tenets and what are their consequences. But modern tolerance is deafer than intolerance. The old religious authorities, at least, defined a heresy before they condemned it, and read a book before they burned it. But we are always saying to a Mormon or a Moslem–”Never mind about your religion, come to my arms.” To which he naturally replies–”But I do mind about my religion, and I advise you to mind your eye.”

About half the history now taught in schools and colleges is made windy and barren by this narrow notion of leaving out the theological theories. The wars and Parliaments of the Puritans made absolutely no sense if we leave out the fact that Calvinism appeared to them to be the absolute metaphysical truth, unanswerable, unreplaceable, and the only thing worth having in the world. The Crusades and dynastic quarrels of the Norman and Angevin Kings make absolutely no sense if we leave out the fact that these men (with all their vices) were enthusiastic for the doctrine, discipline, and endowment of Catholicism. Yet I have read a history of the Puritans by a modern Nonconformist in which the name of Calvin was not even mentioned, which is like writing a history of the Jews without mentioning either Abraham or Moses. And I have never read any popular or educational history of England that gave the slightest hint of the motives in the human mind that covered England with abbeys and Palestine with banners. Historians seem to have completely forgotten the two facts– first, that men act from ideas; and second, that it might, therefore, be as well to discover which ideas. The medievals did not believe primarily in “chivalry,” but in Catholicism, as producing chivalry among other things. The Puritans did not believe primarily in “righteousness,” but in Calvinism, as producing righteousness among other things. It was the creed that held the coarse or cunning men of the world at both epochs. William the Conqueror was in some ways a cynical and brutal soldier, but he did attach importance to the fact that the Church upheld his enterprise; that Harold had sworn falsely on the bones of saints, and that the banner above his own lances had been blessed by the Pope. Cromwell was in some ways a cynical and brutal soldier; but he did attach importance to the fact that he had gained assurance from on high in the Calvinistic scheme; that the Bible seemed to support him– in short, the most important moment in his own life, for him, was not when Charles I lost his head, but when Oliver Cromwell did not lose his soul. If you leave these things out of the story, you are leaving out the story itself. If William Rufus was only a red-haired man who liked hunting, why did he force Anselm’s head under a mitre, instead of forcing his head under a headsman’s axe? If John Bunyan only cared for “righteousness,” why was he in terror of being damned, when he knew he was rationally righteous? We shall never make anything of moral and religious movements in history until we begin to look at their theory as well as their practice. For their practice (as in the case of the Mormons) is often so unfamiliar and frantic that it is quite unintelligible without their theory.

I have not the space, even if I had the knowledge, to describe the fundamental theories of Mormonism about the universe. But they are extraordinarily interesting; and a proper understanding of them would certainly enable us to see daylight through the more perplexing or menacing customs of this community; and therefore to judge how far polygamy was in their scheme a permanent and self-renewing principle or (as is quite probably) a personal and unscrupulous accident. The basic Mormon belief is one that comes out of the morning of the earth, from the most primitive and even infantile attitude. Their chief dogma is that God is material, not that He was materialized once, as all Christians believe; nor that He is materialized specially, as all Catholics believe; but that He was materially embodied from all time; that He has a local habitation as well as a name. Under the influence of this barbaric but violently vivid conception, these people crossed a great desert with their guns and oxen, patiently, persistently, and courageously, as if they were following a vast and visible giant who was striding across the plains. In other words this strange sect, by soaking itself solely in the Hebrew Scriptures, had really managed to reproduce the atmosphere of those Scriptures as they are felt by Hebrews rather than by Christians. A number of dull, earnest, ignorant, black-coated men with chimney-pot hats, chin beards or mutton-chop whiskers, managed to reproduce in their own souls the richness and the peril of an ancient Oriental experience. If we think from this end we may possibly guess how it was that they added polygamy.

– G. K. Chesterton, The Uses of Diversity

Mitt Romney

Amazingly enough, it now seems that either Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for President.  The idea that Gingrich could win almost 15 years after he resigned from the House in disgrace boggles the mind.  As for Mitt Romney, he’s got no end of problems.  One of those problems is that he’s a Mormon.

This fact has sparked a deal of controversy, dealing less with whether it’s appropriate for a Mormon to be President than with whether it’s appropriate to ask whether it’s appropriate for a Mormon to be President.  Some popular opinion-makers have suggested that it’s not okay to even ask questions about Romney’s religion.  The typical argument goes like this.  Mitt Romney is running for President.  We should judge him by qualities that will affect his performance in that job.  His religious beliefs won’t affect anything he does as President.  Thus we shouldn’t even ask him anything about his religious beliefs.

If you objected to third sentence in that four-sentence argument, then you think about this much as I do.  It’s absurd to suggest that personal religious beliefs don’t affect anyone’s readiness to be President.  Personal religious beliefs are the most important thing to look at when judging someone’s readiness to be President.

Of course it’s important to know where a candidate stands on political issues.  We have many means to find that out, at least for a presidential candidate.  We have campaign speeches, debates, interviews,  books the candidate authored, past political record, and so forth.  While it’s good to peruse such things, they don’t tell us everything.  They are inadequate for two particular reasons.

First, we don’t know what issues a President will have to focus on while in office.  During the 2000 campaign, nobody knew that the winner would have to determine the nation’s response to the biggest terrorist attack in history.  Likewise, no one knows today what major events will occur between 2012 and 2016, and therefore we can’t ask a candidate how he’ll respond to those events.

Second, it’s possible for a candidate to lie.  I know this may be shocking to some, but politicians have been known to say things which aren’t actually true.

So when judging a candidate for office, we need to plunge deeper than merely what they say about political issues.  The best way to do that is to plumb their personal beliefs.  “Personal beliefs” are many in number, but religious beliefs or the absense thereof are certainly primary among them.  And there is no dividing line that separates religious beliefs from important beliefs.  That idea springs from the assumption that religion is trivial, an assumption which does not stand up to scrutiny.

In fact a person’s religion generally shapes that person’s politics.  It is true now and always has been.  My religion determines my values: what I call right and wrong, what I call important and unimportant.  To pretend otherwise is rank foolishness.

So what about Mitt Romney and Mormonism?  I’ve already made plain my feelings about the Mormon religion in this post.  If Mitt Romney truly believes all that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches, then he believes an enormous amount of nutty stuff, which should certainly color our judgment of his readiness for high office.  If he claims to be a Mormon but doesn’t believe that stuff, that also should color our judgment of his readiness for high office.  But, in addition to the silly stuff, there’s also the bad stuff.  For instance, there’s the fact that the LDS Church taught for over a century that black people were morally inferior and banned them from the priesthood based on this.  They reversed course on this issue in 1978, suspiciously close after they learned that they’d lose their tax-exempt status if they didn’t start admitting blacks.  Mitt Romeny claims to be a lifelong Mormon.  How did he feel about this prior to 1977?  We deserve to know.

Who is G. K. Chesterton? (Part 4)

(Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.)

Part 3 dealt with Chesterton’s religion.  Before going on to other topics, we must say a little bit more about this one.  We’ve already noted that Chesterton had a rational faith in Christianity.  He found that Christianity corresponded with all the basic facts that he could observe in the world around him.  He was excellent with logic and had a keen ability to reduce an argument to its fundamentals and then point out it flaws.  In this way he sliced through the arguments of lesser thinkers like a hot knife through butter.  One of Chesterton’s two top influences was Saint Thomas Aquinas, the great medieval monk whose philosophy treatises gave the logical underpinnings for Christian dogma.

But if Chesterton was sure and thorough in providing reasons for his beliefs, he also knew that strict logic alone was not the answer to human existence.  He lived at a time–the late 19th and early 20th century–when doubt and skepticism were rampant in the intellectual world.  Bold, brainy men were promoting Marxism, Freudianism, social Darwinism, postmodernism, and more other -isms than anyone could count.  Chesterton was aware of them all and tackled them one by one.  However, he didn’t just crush their results but investigated their philosophical underpinning.  Beneath each one he found the same rotten foundation, namely an absolute rejection of tradition and religion coupled with total dedication to materialist thinking.  If so many bad ideas emerged from the same source, it was reasonable to conclude that the source itself had a problem.  As he put it:

Let us begin, then, with the mad-house; from this evil and fantastic inn let us set forth on our intellectual journey. Now, if we are to glance at the philosophy of sanity, the first thing to do in the matter is to blot out one big and common mistake. There is a notion adrift everywhere that imagination, especially mystical imagination, is dangerous to man’s mental balance. Poets are commonly spoken of as psychologically unreliable; and generally there is a vague association between wreathing laurels in your hair and sticking straws in it. Facts and history utterly contradict this view. Most of the very great poets have been not only sane, but extremely business-like; and if Shakespeare ever really held horses, it was because he was much the safest man to hold them. Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination. Artistic paternity is as wholesome as physical paternity.

Having thus identified the problem, Chesterton offered a solution with an -ism of his own.

Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity. The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. He has permitted the twilight. He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland. He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of to-day) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that. Thus he has always believed that there was such a thing as fate, but such a thing as free will also. Thus he believed that children were indeed the kingdom of heaven, but nevertheless ought to be obedient to the kingdom of earth. He admired youth because it was young and age because it was not. It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man. The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid.

Here, in one masterful stroke, Chesterton defeats the charge that religion is irrational.  Strict, dogmatic adherence to logic while excluding all else is illogical.  True rationality means acknowledging that the world is just slightly too complicated to be squeezed into a strict logical scheme.  In this way, Chesterton married rational faith to mysticism, and the creative tension that results from these two underpins everything that Chesterton believed.
In these quotes, both taken from the first chapter of Orthodoxy, we see Chesterton defending “religion”, and one might get the impression that he was a fan of all religions as long as they opposed the destructive force of materialism.  This would be entirely wrong.  The abstract concept of “religious tolerance”, the notion that all religions are fundamentally alike, was among his favorite targets for attack.

We talk much about “respecting” this or that person’s religion; but the way to respect a religion is to treat it as a religion: to ask what are its tenets and what are their consequences. But modern tolerance is deafer than intolerance. The old religious authorities, at least, defined a heresy before they condemned it, and read a book before they burned it. But we are always saying to a Mormon or a Moslem–”Never mind about your religion, come to my arms.” To which he naturally replies–”But I do mind about my religion, and I advise you to mind your eye.”

And  he also noted:

Historians seem to have completely forgotten the two facts– first, that men act from ideas; and second, that it might, therefore, be as well to discover which ideas.

Recall that Chesterton was a big fan of common sense.  That all religions are the same, or close to the same, or the same in their major points, or that they teach the same morals, is obviously nonsense.  Different religions teach vastly different things: different theologies, but different morals as well.  Chesterton was not afraid to right about religion.  He looked carefully at what the various religions believed and responded to them.  In some cases he was not afraid to label ridiculous claims as such.  If Christian Scientists insisted that all disease was purely spiritual and thus shouldn’t be treated with medicine, that’s crazy and Chesterton said as much.  If Mormons claimed that God favored polygamy until the year 1890 and then changed His mind, that’s absurd and Chesterton said so.  He also didn’t hesitate to connect the dots between religious beliefs and visible results.  If Hinduism caused millions to suffer under the caste system or Islam produced a large number of violent fanatics, he made the connection bluntly.

In addition, Chesterton had strong opinions about the correct interpretation of Christianity.  Some churches he opposed.  Calvinism was one another of his favorite targets; he viewed Calvinist belief in an all-powerful God and a helpless humanity as cruel and dehumanizing.  He was keenly aware of Christian history and knew exactly when, where, and why each tenet of Orthodox Christianity came from.  He also understood their implications.  Just as he could draw the lines between other religions and their results social effects, he also knew why the unique aspects of western society were inexorably woven together with Christian beliefs.  Hence Chesterton’s religious standpoint was inseparable from his social, political, economic, and even artistic mores.

10 funny facts about Mormonism.

Today I will give a shout-out to a different religion.  I am not a Mormon, have never been a Mormon, and have no connections to Mormonism at all, other than that I once briefly dated a young women who was Mormon. (Very briefly.)  So I don’t have a dog in this fight.  (Or as Joseph Smith would say, I don’t have a goat in this fight.)  But they’ve been in the news lately due to the release of the Book of Mormon musical, which sounds to me as vulgar and stupid as anything else that Trey Parker and Matt Stone have ever done.  In a way, when someone devotes an entire Broadway musical to attacking you, you know that your religion has arrived and become relevant.  No one has ever gone after the Hutterites in a Broadway musical, for instance, and I doubt anyone ever will.  But what distresses me is that any pop culture mention of Mormonism focuses only on the issue of polygamy.  First of all, the early Mormons technically practiced polygyny, not polygamy.  More importantly, why obsess over something that they haven’t done for 121 years when there’s so many other fun things to poke at?  Lately, a few “anti-mos” have expanded there repertoire to topics such as the LDS Church’s long history of racism and the Temple Garments, but even so that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  If you want to converse about Mormonism at parties, I offer the following list as a way to get the discussion rolling.

1. Oops!  We’d better change that.

The fundamental claim of Mormonism is that Jospeh Smith received a genuine revelation from God on a set of golden plates, which he translated with divine assistance and a “seer stone” (see #4 below).  The Book of Mormon, as originally published, contained thousands of errors, and later editions had to be changed to correct this, which isn’t too convenient for a church trying to claim that God gave the words directly to Smith.  The Church claims that all of the changes are of grammar and spelling errors in the original.  In truth, most are, but some are due to major errors in continuity.  Characters would die and then inexplicably show up again. or they’d be mentioned and discussed before they first appeared, and so forth.  The process of editing the Book of Mormon continues to this day, with the latest changes occuring in 1981.

(Citation)

2.  Quakers on the Moon.

Oliver Huntington, an early Mormon convert, said the following in a Mormon publication called Young Women’s Journal in 1892:

“As far back as 1837, I know that he said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do — that they live generally to near the age of 1000 years.
“He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style.
“In my Patriarchal blessing, given by the father of Joseph the Prophet, in Kirtland, 1837, I was told that I should preach the gospel before I was 21 years of age; that I should preach the gospel to the inhabitants upon the islands of the sea, and to the inhabitants of the moon, even the planet you can now behold with your eyes.”


And what does the modern-day LDS Church have to say about this?  Well, according to Steven Gibson in the book One-Minute Answers to Anti-Mormon Questions:

At the present time, man has no scientific or revealed knowledge of whether or not there are inhabitants on the earth’s moon. The fact that a handful of astronauts didn’t see any inhabitants in the tiny area they viewed when they landed on the moon decades ago certainly gives no definitive information, any more than visitors to earth who might land in barren Death Valley would have any idea of the billions of inhabitants elsewhere.

One wonders what the two-minute answer would be?

3. Worshipping beer – Pay Lay Ale

At the Great Endowment Ceremony, participants chant the phrase “Pay Lay Ale” while holding their hands above their head and then bowing down three times.  According to Joseph Smith, these words mean “Lord, hear the words of my mouth” in the language spoken in the Graden of Eden.  Then, in 1991, the LDS Church abruptly changed it to the English phrase.  While they don’t give any official reason, it probably has something to do with the fact that many people simply got confused and thought they were chanting “pale ale”.  It seems that thousands, perhaps millions, of Mormons spent their life thinking that they were supposed to chant the name of a beer at that point in the ceremony.

4. The seer stone.

Few people even among church members know what profession Joseph Smith was before ‘finding’ the famous golden plates.  He was a professional con artist who tried a variety of means for suckering people out of their money.  One of his favorite tricks was to show up in town with a magic ‘seer stone’ and claim that he would use it to find buried treasure.  Gulible locals would buy in for a share of the treasure, after which he’d find nothing and try to make off with the money.  In 1826 he was put on trial for this and other crimes, and the trial records are the best documents we have of his early life.  Among other things, it appears that the stone he used for the phony treasure hunt was the same one he used to ‘translate’ the Book of Mormon.

(Citation)
5. The Journal of Discourses.

The Journal of Discourses is a book from the early years of Mormonism containing the text of every sermon gives by the Prophets and Apostles from the first forty years or so in Mormon history.  According to Mormon doctrine, these church leaders are infallible while giving relevations from God.  (Not infallible at all times, but certainly while claiming to be speaking for God.  Brigham Young, Joseph Smith’s successor, handled the problem nicely by saying that all his sermons were revelations from God.)  Some of the material in this book is a bit embarrassing to the LDS Church.  How embarrassing?  Well, in the early 20th century, church authorities ordered all the copies to be turned in, so they could be destroyed.

Unfortunately for them, a few slipped through.

(Citation)

6. Law of Adoption – sealing man to man.

The LDS Church has been active in fighting against gay marriage in recent years.  What few people know is that in addition to polygyny, the church in its early years practiced something that certainly looks a lot like gay marriage.  They used the term “sealing” to indicate special marriages performed in the Temple in a ceremony supposedly received from God by Joseph Smith.  While Mormon leaders, including Smith, generally had dozens of wives “sealed” to them, there was also a ceremony for “sealing” men to other men.  This was called the “Law of Adoption” and one manned was called the father while the other was called the son.  However, the two men were usually of the same age.  One has to wonder.
(Citation)
7. And on the next day, God created vampires.

It is a part of Mormon teaching that prior to the Fall, neither Adam nor Eve nor any of the animals in the Garden of Eden had blood in their veins.  Exactly why they had veins when there was no blood to flow through them is not explained.

8. Kinderhook Plates

Even during his lifetime, people living near Jospeh Smith speculated that he was merely spinning tales off the top of his head based on anything he found that looked like an ancient artifact.  In 1843 some local farmers created a forged set of brass plates, decorated with faux-Chinese characters copied from a tea box.  Joseph Smith took the bait and composed an elaborate fake history to explain the existence of the plates.

(Citation)

9. Nephi or Moroni

Central to Mormonism is the claim that the angle Moroni first lead Joseph Smith to the golden plates and then, after he’d translated them, received the plates back and carried them to Heaven.  Oddly enough, Smith himself didn’t say that.  He said that a different character, Nephi, appeared to him and showed him the plates.  (In Smith’s theology, all angels are former humans; both Moroni and Nephi are characters in the Book of Mormon.)  Later generations of church leaders apparently decided that it made more sense for Moroni appear to Smith than Nephi, and they changed the name in all relevant church documents.

10. “Come un into”

As I began this list with the fact that thousands of changes have been made since the original printing of the Book of Mormon, I’ll conclude with something that probably ought to have been changed but wasn’t.  In the King James Bible, the phrase “come in unto” is a euphanism for sex.  For instance:

“And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.” [Gen 30:16]

It seems safe to say that Joseph Smith did not know this, since the Book of Mormon has verses such as:

“Now the queen having heard of the fame of Ammon, therefore she sent and desired that he should come in unto her.” [Alma 19:2]

These are the humorous reasons for not taking Mormon claims seriously.  There are serious reasons, too.   This post on Dale Husband’s blog is a bit aggressive, but it’s also, in my opinion, entirely true.

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