30 October 2012

Biblical Halloween Costumes: It's time to take it back from the pagans!

Here are some costume ideas from the Bible. (Re-post for Halloween.)
  1. God's Clever Talking Serpent
    Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said ....Genesis 3:1-5

  2. Lot and his daughters
    Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him ... Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. Genesis 19:30-38
    This is pretty simple. And old guy, two young women, and a jug of wine (Clothing optional).

  3. An abominable, four-legged, flying creeping thing.
    But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you. Leviticus 11:23

  4. Fiery Serpent
    And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Numbers 21:6

  5. Talking Donkey
    And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam .... Numbers 22:28-30

  6. An Evil Spirit from the Lord. (Judges 9:23; 1 Samuel 16:14-16, 16:23, 18:10, 19:9)
    The evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied. 18:10
    All evil spirits come from God, but I don't know what they look like. Maybe something like this.

  7. Jael
    And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. ... And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him. ... Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground. Judges 4:18-21
    Costume: Woman with hammer, tent stake, blanket, and cup of milk.

  8. Samson with the jawbone of an ass
    (Just try to keep the spirit of the Lord from coming upon you!)
    The spirit of the Lord came mightily upon Samson and he found a new jawbone of an ass ... and took it, and slew 1000 men therewith. Judges 15:14-15

  9. Jesus

    Forget all the stuff you've seen on TV. Jesus doesn't look like that anymore. To see what he looks like now you need to go to the Book of Revelation.
    ...the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, ... And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword. Revelation 1:13-16
    Costume: Long white robe, golden girdle, white face and hair, red eyes, brass feet, seven stars in hand, sword sticking out of mouth.

    And here's what he will look like when he gets into his planned mass killings at the end of the world.
    Behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. ... And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations. Revelation 19:11-15
    Costume: a bunch of crowns on your head, sword sticking out of your mouth, clothing dipped in blood

    There is one other possible Jesus costume, but it may be illegal in some places. You see Jesus had a special tattoo on his thigh (which is a biblical euphemism for testicles): "King of Kings" one on side and "Lord of Lord" on the other.
    And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. Revelation 19:15
    Costume: Tattooed thigh or scrotum

  10. Anything from the Book of Revelation
    (Just pick a verse pretty much anywhere, but the Whore of Babylon is always fun!)

Barrett Foa Does His Best Romney — Set To I Believe From Book Of Mormon!

And here, in case you haven't seen it, is the original from the Book of Mormon Musical.

29 October 2012

God helps Judas Machabeus destroy the wicked

After Matthathias died, his son, Judas Machabeus, replaced him as the leader of the Jewish terrorists  His first act was to burn "them that troubled his people" (with fire).
His [Mathathias'] son Judas, called Machabeus, rose up in his stead. 1 Machabees 3:1
And all his brethren helped him, and all they that had joined themselves to his father, and they fought with cheerfulness the battle of Israel. 2
He was like a lion, and like a lion's whelp roaring for his prey. 4
He pursued the wicked ... and them that troubled his people he burnt with fire. 5
Judah went through the cities of Judah, destroying the wicked, and making himself famous all over the world.
He went through the cities of Juda, and destroyed the wicked out of them ... And he was renowned even to the utmost part of the earth. 1 Machabees 3:8-9
He killed Apollonius and many of his soldiers, and he took the sword of Apollonius and fought with it for rest of his life.
Apollonius gathered together the Gentiles, and a numerous and great army from Samaria, to make war against Israel. 1 Machabees 3:10
Judas ... went forth to meet him: and he overthrew him, and killed him: and many fell down slain. 11
And he took their spoils, and Judas took the sword of Apollonius, and fought with it all his lifetime. 12
Seron, the captain of the Syrian army, heard about Judas (as had everyone on earth). He collected a large army of wicked men to fight Judas. When Judas' smaller army saw the Syrians, they were frightened. But Judas told them not to worry. Because success in war depends not on numbers, but on God. "The Lord himself will overthrow them."
Seron captain of the army of Syria heard that Judas had assembled a company of the faithful. 1 Machabees 3:13
He made himself ready: and the host of the wicked went up with him. 15
And Judas went forth to meet him, with a small company. 16
When they saw the army coming to meet them, they said to Judas: How shall we, being few, be able to fight against so great a multitude and so strong? 17
Judas said: It is an easy matter for many to be shut up in the hands of a few: and there is no difference in the sight of the God of heaven to deliver with a great multitude, or with a small company. 18
For the success of war is not in the multitude of the army, but strength cometh from heaven. 19
The Lord himself will overthrow them. 22
Immediately after his speech to his soldiers, Judas attacked Seron's army, killing 800 men.
As soon as he had made an end of speaking, he rushed suddenly upon them: and Seron and his host were overthrown before him ... and there fell of them eight hundred men. 1 Machabees 3:23-24
Which made Judas even more famous and feared.
The fear of Judas and of his brethren, and the dread of them fell upon all the nations round about them. 1 Machabees 3:25
His fame came to the king, and all nations told of the battles of Judas. 26
And Judas was just getting started.

OK, so how many have God and Judas killed so far? Here are some estimates.

  • 100 wicked troublemakers burned to death (1 Machabees 3:5)
  • 3000 wicked destroyed from cities of Judah (3:8-9)
  • Apollonius and 1000 of his men (3:10-12)
  • Seron and 800 of the host of the wicked (3:13-24)
Total: 4900

The same story (more or less) is told in 2 Machabees 8:5-6.

28 October 2012

Jarom writes a few words about the Lamanites (who love murder and drink the blood of beasts)

The fifteen-verse Book of Jarom was, as you might expect, written by Jarom, who was the son of Enos, who was the son of Jacob, who was the son of Lehi, who was a descendant of Joseph, who was the son of Jacob (aka "Israel" in the Bible). The purpose of Jarom's little book is to tell you about that.
Now behold, I, Jarom, write a few words according to the commandment of my father, Enos, that our genealogy may be kept. Jarom 1
Or at least that's what the first verse says.

But by the second verse, Jarom does a complete Romney, changing his mind. He's engraved his words on plates for the benefit of the Lamanites.
And as these plates are small, and as these things are written for the intent of the benefit of our brethren the Lamanites... 2a
Which was really nice of him.

He's not going to tell us about his prophesying or his revelations, though. Which was also nice of him. (If you've read any of the previous books of the Book of Mormon, you've heard it all many times over. Jesus will be born centuries in the future and everyone must believe in him--even before he exists--or go to hell.)
...wherefore, it must needs be that I write a little; but I shall not write the things of my prophesying, nor of my revelations. For what could I write more than my fathers have written? For have not they revealed the plan of salvation? I say unto you, Yea; and this sufficeth me. 2b
Jarom says that much needs to be done among his people, because of the hardness of their hearts, the deafness of their ears, the blindness of their minds, the stiffness of their necks, and the fullness of their bladders. But so far, at least, God has been exceedingly merciful to them by not killing them all.
Behold, it is expedient that much should be done among this people, because of the hardness of their hearts, and the deafness of their ears, and the blindness of their minds, and the stiffness of their necks; nevertheless, God is exceedingly merciful unto them, and has not as yet swept them off from the face of the land. 3
And yet not all Nephites were hard, deaf, blind, stiff, and full. There were many that received revelations and had communion with the Holy Spirit -- five or so centuries before the Holy Spirit was supposedly given to Christians at Pentecost.
And there are many among us who have many revelations, for they are not all stiffnecked. And as many as are not stiffnecked and have faith, have communion with the Holy Spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men, according to their faith. 4
I'm not sure what Jarom meant in verse 3, though. Because now, in verse 5, he says the Nephites are perfect, observing the sabbath, avoiding blasphemy, and obeying exceedingly strict laws.
And now, behold, two hundred years had passed away, and the people of Nephi had waxed strong in the land. They observed to keep the law of Moses and the sabbath day holy unto the Lord. And they profaned not; neither did they blaspheme. And the laws of the land were exceedingly strict. 5
Next Jarom tells us about the Lamanites (indigenous Americans) -- they loved murder and drank the blood of beasts.
And they were scattered upon much of the face of the land, and the Lamanites also. And they were exceedingly more numerous than were they of the Nephites; and they loved murder and would drink the blood of beasts. 6
"The Lamanites ... loved murder and would drink the blood of beasts." Jarom 6

But the Nephites were ready for them. Their kings and leaders were mighty men with faith in Jesus. And they fortified their cities (cities that left no evidence of their existence).
And it came to pass that they came many times against us, the Nephites, to battle. But our kings and our leaders were mighty men in the faith of the Lord; and they taught the people the ways of the Lord; wherefore, we withstood the Lamanites and swept them away out of our lands, and began to fortify our cities, or whatsoever place of our inheritance. 7
And the Nephites, like the good proto-Mormons that they were, multiplied exceedingly.
And we multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land. 8a
And became exceedingly rich, building up their military Romney style.
and became exceedingly rich in gold, and in silver, and in precious things, and in fine workmanship of wood, in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war -- yea, the sharp pointed arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin, and all preparations for war. 8b
But the Nephites were bad once again and needed to be threatened by the prophets. Pre-believe in Jesus or be destroyed.
And it came to pass that the prophets of the Lord did threaten the people of Nephi, according to the word of God, that if they did not keep the commandments, but should fall into transgression, they should be destroyed from off the face of the land. 10
Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was. And after this manner did they teach them. 11
And it came to pass that the Nephites made the right choice. They pricked their hearts with the word that had yet to be written, continually stirring up a bit of repentance.
And it came to pass that by so doing they kept them from being destroyed upon the face of the land; for they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance. 12
And it came to pass again after 238 years of all manner of wars and such like for the space of much time.
And it came to pass that two hundred and thirty and eight years had passed away -- after the manner of wars, and contentions, and dissensions, for the space of much of the time. 13
With that said, Jarom wrote no more, for the plates were small. (But be sure to check out the plates of Nephi at your local library. where you can read the writings of kings, or those which they caused be written or whatnot.)
And I, Jarom, do not write more, for the plates are small. But behold, my brethren, ye can go to the other plates of Nephi; for behold, upon them the records of our wars are engraven, according to the writings of the kings, or those which they caused to be written. 14
So Jarom delivered his plates to his son Omni, who will be writing the next exciting book in the Book of Mormon: The Book of Omni.
And I deliver these plates into the hands of my son Omni, that they may be kept according to the commandments of my fathers. 15
See you then.

27 October 2012

Mathathias and his friends slay the wicked sinners, circumcise the the uncircumcised, and yield not the horn to the sinner

The first killing from First Machabees was a terrorist attack, in which Mathathias murdered a Jew who was offering a sacrifice to an idol, along with an officer of the king who happened to be in the area at the time. The author of First Machabees praised Mathathias for the attack, comparing it to Phineas' double murder in Numbers 25.  

After the attack at the altar, Mathathias and his friends "gathered an army and slew the sinners in their wrath and the wicked men in their indignation."
Mathathias and his friends ... gathered an army, and slew the sinners in their wrath, and the wicked men in their indignation. 1 Machabees 2:44
(The text doesn't say who the wicked sinners were, but I suppose any Gentile or Jew who wasn't Jewish enough would do.)

Next Mathathias' mob threw down altars.
And Mathathias and his friends went round about, and they threw down the altars. 2:45
And valiantly circumcised all the uncircumcised children they could find.
And they circumcised all the children whom they found in the confines of Israel that were uncircumcised: and they did valiantly. 2:46
(According to the story in 1 Machabees, Antiochus had made circumcision illegal, so there were lots of uncircumcised boys running around. Mathathias and his merry men inspected every little penis in Israel to make sure it was properly circumcised, and if not, they cut off the offending foreskin themselves.)

So by slaying the wicked sinners and cutting off foreskins, Mathathias and his mob of terrorist  "yielded not the horn to the sinner."
They yielded not the horn to the sinner. 2:48
And that's the important thing. Never yield the horn to the sinner.

(The text doesn't say how many wicked sinners were killed by Mathathias' army, so I'll just add another 100 to God's total.)

26 October 2012

You've done an awesome job, Enos!

Guess what words the Book of Enos starts with.

I'll give you a hint. It's he same phrase that the previous two books of the Book of Mormon  (2 Nephi and Jacob) started with, and it is used (by my count anyway) 1424 times in the Book of Mormon.

That's right. It came to pass.
Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man -- for he taught me in his language.  Enos 1
So now we know that the little book of Enos was written by Enos ("I, Enos") in the language of his father, Jacob.

As I'm sure you'll recall, at the end of the last book (the Book of Jacob) Jacob ("I, Jacob") "began to be old" and gave his plates to his son Enos, before bidding us all "adieu."
And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old. ... And I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave; wherefore, I said unto my son Enos: Take these plates. ... And I make an end of my writing upon these plates, which writing has been small; and to the reader I bid farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words. Brethren, adieu. Jacob 7:26-27
Now you might get the impression from Jacob's use of the word "adieu" that Jacob spoke French, but he didn't. He spoke good, old-fashioned Reformed Egyptian like all other native Americans in 500 BCE. He just threw in the word "adieu" (which originated in late 14th century Europe) to impress you.

But back to the story (translated by Joseph Smith into 17th century English from the Reformed Egyptian).

One day Enos went out to hunt beasts in the forest when a voice in his head started talking to him.
Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests .. And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos.... Enos 1-5
Enos has a long conversation with the voice in his head that he believes to be God. The voice tells him that he is forgiven through his faith in Jesus. And that whatever he asks "in the name of Christ," he will receive (as a reward for believing in someone who wouldn't exist for another 500 years). God also "covenanted" with Enos, saying he'd preserve his plates with the Lamanites.

And I said: Lord, how is it done? And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh. Enos 5-8
Behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying: I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments. I have given unto them this land, and it is a holy land; and I curse it not save it be for the cause of iniquity; wherefore, I will visit thy brethren according as I have said; and their transgressions will I bring down with sorrow upon their own heads. 10
The Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith. 12
The Lord God ... said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it. 15
I did cry unto God that he would preserve the records; and he covenanted with me that he would bring them forth unto the Lamanites in his own due time. 16
And the Lord said unto me: Thy fathers have also required of me this thing; and it shall be done unto them according to their faith; for their faith was like unto thine. 18
After the voice in his head quieted down, Enos went prophesying to the Nephites about the evil, wild, ferocious, bloodthirsty, and filthy Lamanites  (Native Americans).
And now it came to pass that I, Enos, went about among the people of Nephi, prophesying. 19
And I bear record that ... the Lamanites ... were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a bloodthirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven. 20a
Enos tells us a remarkable fact about the Lamanites. They were especially skilled in using the cimeter. [A Cimeter (or scimitar) is a curved sword with the sharp edge on the convex side. This type of sword did not exist at the time Enos was supposedly written (ca. 500 BCE). Indeed there is no evidence that swords of any kind existed in pre-Columbian America.] And that they only ate raw meat.
Their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax. And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us. 20b
The Nephites, on the other hand, were civilized people. They cooked their food and grew "all manner of grain" and had "all manner of cattle ... and also many horses."  (Cattle, horses, and European grains were absent in pre-Columbian North America.)
The people of Nephi did till the land, and raise all manner of grain, and of fruit, and flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats, and also many horses. 21
It wasn't easy for Enos, though, to prophesy among the Nephites because there were exceedingly many other Nephite prophets. But he did his best, speaking with exceeding harshness.
There were exceedingly many prophets among us ... And there was nothing save it was exceeding harshness, preaching and prophesying of wars, and contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them of death, and the duration of eternity. 23a
Luckily he had read his dad's book so he knew how to talk with "exceedingly great plainness of speech," as you've no doubt already noticed.
Nothing short of ... exceedingly great plainness of speech would keep them from going down speedily to destruction. And after this manner do I write concerning them. 23b
Nephi ends his little booklet with this:
And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen. 27
Which reminds me of this verse from "You and me (but mostly me)" from my all-time favorite musical.
I've always had the hope,
That on the day I go to heaven.
Heavenly Father will shake my hand and say,
"You've done an awesome job, Kevin!"

The Book of Mormon is so danged inspiring!

24 October 2012

The first 1 Machabees killing: Mathathias' double murder

First Machabees was written in the latter part of the second century BCE. It is considered sacred scripture to  more than a billion Christians, members of the Catholic, Orthodox, and Coptic churches. Another billion or so Christians (the Protestants) consider it apocryphal. It's one of the many things that divides the followers of Jesus, contrary to Jesus' prayer in John 17:21.
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 
From which we can conclude two things: 
  1. Nothing fails like prayer (even when Jesus does the praying), and
  2. God didn't send Jesus.
But back to the story.

The first chapter of 1 Machabees tells about the trials and tribulations of the Jews after Alexander the Great conquered Judea. His successor in the region (a century and a half later), Antiochus, desecrated the temple in Jerusalem and forced the Jews to abandon their religious traditions.

That's when Mathathias shows up.

He and his sons were so upset by the whole thing that they did what all good biblical characters do in similar situations. They...
...rent their garments, and they covered themselves with haircloth, and made great lamentation. 1 Machabees 2:14
Then Mathathias got down to business -- God's business, that is. 

Mathathias saw a Jew sacrificing to idols and it grieved him -- so much in fact that his kidneys ("reins" in the Douay-Rheims Bible) began to tremble.  
There came a certain Jew in the sight of all to sacrifice to the idols upon the altar in the city of Modin, according to the king's commandment. Mathathias saw and was grieved, and his reins trembled. 2:23-24a
Which kindled his wrath, whereupon he ran up and murdered the Jew on the altar while he was offering sacrifice to his idols..
and his wrath was kindled according to the judgment of the law, and running upon him he slew him upon the altar: 2:24b
Along with one of Antiochus' officials.
Moreover the man whom king Antiochus had sent, who compelled them to sacrifice, he slew at the same time, and pulled down the altar. 2:25
That these murders were approved by God is made clear by the following verse.
And shewed zeal for the law, as Phinees did. 2:26
Mathathias was showing his zeal for the law, just like Phineas ("Phinees" in the Douay-Reims) did in  Numbers 25:7-8.

In Numbers 25, Phineas threw a spear through an interfaith couple while they were having sex, and the double murder pleased God so much that God stopped killing the Israelites with a plague (after killing 24,000). For being so "zealous for his God," Phineas was given God's "covenant of peace" and the "covenant of an everlasting priesthood."

Mathathias' double murder was as pleasing to God as Phineas'.

You just can't please God more than that.

20 October 2012

Jacob 6-7: The sign of Sherem

In chapter 6, Jacob tells us about Jesus, who will be coming 500 or so years in the future. He warns the Nephites that they must believe in Jesus (centuries before he was born) or they'll burn forever in hell. Of course, he and his older brother, Nephi, along with their dad, Lehi, have said this many times before. But since this is the Book of Mormon, he says it again. You just can't repeat stuff too often when you're engraving it on metal plates.
Will ye ... deny the good word of Christ, and the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and quench the Holy Spirit, and make a mock of the great plan of redemption, which hath been laid for you?
Know ye not that if ye will do these things ... ye must go away into that lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever, which lake of fire and brimstone is endless torment. Jacob 6:8-10
Jacob finally stops preaching and says goodbye, saying he won't see us again until the wicked are beaten with "the pleasing rod of God" (which is a strange thing to say since he returns in the next chapter).
O be wise; what can I say more? Finally, I bid you farewell, until I shall meet you before the pleasing bar of God, which bar striketh the wicked with awful dread and fear. Amen.  Jacob 6:11-12
In chapter 7, a guy named Sherem shows up from out of nowhere and begins to "preach many things" that "might overthrow the doctrine of Christ." Now you might think that there wouldn't be much "doctrine of Christ" in North America 500 years before Jesus was born. But if so, you haven't read (or don't entirely believe) the Book of Mormon.
There came a man ... whose name was Sherem. He began ... to declare unto them that there should be no Christ ... that he might overthrow the doctrine of Christ. Jacob 7:1-2
Sherem was a smooth talker with "perfect knowledge" and "the power of the devil." He said that Jacob had mislead the people "into the worship of a being which ... shall come many hundred years hence." But "no man knoweth of such things; for he cannot tell of things to come."
He was learned, that he had a perfect knowledge ... according to the power of the devil. And it came to pass that he came unto me ... saying: Brother Jacob ... thou goest about much, preaching that which ye call the gospel, or the doctrine of Christ. And ye have led away much of this people ... into the worship of a being which ye say shall come many hundred years hence ... this is blasphemy; for no man knoweth of such things; for he cannot tell of things to come. Jacob 7:4-7
Jacob asks Sherem if he denies that Christ will come. Sherem answers that although he doesn't believe it now, he could be convinced if Jacob could show him a sign. Jacob responds by saying, "Thou art the devil ... but if God shall smite thee, let that be a sign unto thee."
I said unto him: Deniest thou the Christ who shall come?
And he said: If there should be a Christ, I would not deny him; but I know that there is no Christ, neither has been, nor ever will be ... And it came to pass that he said unto me: Show me a sign.
And I said unto him ... thou art of the devil. Nevertheless, not my will be done; but if God shall smite thee, let that be a sign unto thee. Jacob 7:9-14
And (wouldn't you know it?) that's exactly what happens in the very next verse:
And it came to pass that when I, Jacob, had spoken these words, the power of the Lord came upon him, insomuch that he fell to the earth. Jacob 7:15
It took another five verses and three and-it-came-to-passes for God's sign to take effect, but in verse 20, Sherem finally gives up the ghost. (But not before he publicly "confessed the Christ, and the power of the Holy Ghost," admitted that he "had been deceived by the power of the devil," and said that he fully deserved and expected to go to hell.)
And it came to pass that he said unto the people ...  I desire to speak unto the people before I shall die. And it came to pass that ... he ... confessed the Christ, and the power of the Holy Ghost, and the ministering of angels. And ... that he had been deceived by the power of the devil. And he spake of hell, and of eternity, and of eternal punishment. And he said: I fear lest I have committed the unpardonable sin ... for I denied the Christ ... And it came to pass that when he had said these words he could say no more, and he gave up the ghost. Jacob 7:16-20
Jacob said that he was pleased with the whole thing, as was, no doubt, God. Hasa Diga Eebowai
Now, this thing was pleasing unto me, Jacob, for I had requested it of my Father who was in heaven; for he had heard my cry and answered my prayer. Jacob 7:22
You see, God doesn't mess around in the Book of Mormon. Believe whatever the church leaders tell you, without any evidence, without any sign. Because if you ask for a sign, God will give you one, all right. The sign of Sherem.

Challenge: How did Jacob respond to Sherem's skepticism?
Answer: By asking God to kill him. (Jacob 7:14)

After God killed Sherem, things got back to normal. The Nephites were righteous.
And it came to pass that peace and the love of God was restored again among the people; and they searched the scriptures, and hearkened no more to the words of this wicked man. Jacob 7:23
And the Lamanites were wicked.
And it came to pass that many means were devised to reclaim and restore the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth; but it all was vain, for they delighted in wars and bloodshed, and they had an eternal hatred against us, their brethren. And they sought by the power of their arms to destroy us continually. Jacob 7:24
So the Nephites built up their military to fight the Lamanites.
Wherefore, the people of Nephi did fortify against them with their arms, and with all their might, trusting in the God and rock of their salvation; wherefore, they became as yet, conquerors of their enemies. Jacob 7:25
And Jacob grew old, got ready to die, and gave his plates to his son Enos.  
And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old; and the record of this people being kept on the other plates of Nephi, wherefore, I conclude this record ... And I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave; wherefore, I said unto my son Enos, Take these platesJacob 26-27
The last word that Jacob engraved on his plates was a strange one for a 6th century BCE North American Israelite writing in reformed Egyptian to use: adieu.
And I make an end of my writing upon these plates, which writing has been small; and to the reader I bid ... adieu. Jacob 27
And that ends the Book of Jacob.

The next book in the Book of Mormon is the little book of Enos, which was written by Jacob's son.  I'll get to one that soon.

17 October 2012

Surah 96 (The Clot): Muhammad's first revelation

"The Clot" (Al-Alaq) was the first surah that Muhammad (I'll just call him "Mo") claimed to receive from Allah. Mo was about 40 years old at the time (ca. 610 CE).

Here's the story from the Hadith (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith - 6.478), as told by Aisha, who twelve years later became Mo's favorite wife. (Since Aisha was only nine years old when her marriage to the 52-year-old Mo was consummated, she wouldn't have yet been born when this story supposedly took place.)

File:Mohammed receiving revelation from the angel Gabriel.jpg
Mo receiving the first revelation from the angel Gabriel

While Mo was sleeping in the cave of Hira, an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him to read. Mo replied that he didn't know how to read. Then the angel forced him hard to the ground, so hard he could hardly stand it.
The commencement (of the Divine Inspiration) to Allah's Apostle was in the form of true dreams in his sleep, for he never had a dream but it turned out to be true and clear as the bright daylight.Then he began to like seclusions, so he used to go in seclusion in the cave of Hira where ... one day he received the Guidance while he was in the cave of Hira.
An Angel came to him and asked him to read. Allah's Apostle replied, "I do not know how to read." The Prophet added, 'then the Angel held me (forcibly) and pressed me so hard that I felt distressed.'
The angel released him and again told him to read. And Mo again told him that he didn't know how to read.
Then he released me and again asked me to read, and I replied, 'I do not know how to read.' Thereupon he held me again and pressed me for the second time till I felt distressed. He then released me and asked me to read, but again I replied. 'I do not know how to read.'
So the angel knocked him down a third time, pressing him so hard he could hardly stand it.
Thereupon he held me for the third time and pressed me till I got distressed, and then he released me and said, 'Read, in the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists), has created man out of a clot, Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen, has taught man that which he knew not.'
And the words in bold became the first five verses in the Quran (96:1-5).
Read: In the name of thy Lord Who createth,
Createth man from a clot.
Read: And thy Lord is the Most Bounteous,
Who teacheth by the pen,
Teacheth man that which he knew not.
When Mo woke up from his dream, he was afraid he was either a poet or possessed. (He hoped he was possessed, though, because he really hated poets.) He was so upset that he decided to commit suicide by throwing himself off a cliff. (Ibn Ishaq, p.106-7)
And I awoke from my sleep, and it was as though these words were written on my heart. Now none of God's creatures was more hateful to me than an (ecstatic) poet or a man possessed: I could not even look at them. I thought, Woe is me, poet or possessed ... I will go to the top of the mountain and throw myself down that I may kill myself and gain rest. 
So he went off to do that, but while he was climbing the mountain he heard a voice from the sky saying, "O Muhammad! Thou art the apostle of God and I am Gabriel."
So I went forth to do so and then when I was midway on the mountain, I heard a voice from heaven saying, "O Muhammad! thou art the apostle of God and I am Gabriel."
When he looked up he saw the angel Gabriel with one foot on each horizon. And no matter what direction Mo looked, there was Gabriel standing in front of him, with a foot on each horizon.
I raised my head towards heaven to see (who was speaking), and Lo, Gabriel in the form of a man with feet astride the horizon ... then I began to turn my face away from him, but towards whatever region of the sky I looked, I saw him as before. 
After the vision, Mo returned to Mecca, but he still wasn't sure whether the horizon-straddling sky guy was Gabriel or a satan. Luckily, Khadija (Mo's first wife) knew how to find out.

She told him that the next time the sky guy comes to visit, he should sit by her left thigh. So the next time he saw him, he sat by her left thigh. Then she asked Mo if he could still see him. He said that he could.

Next Khadija told Mo to turn around and sit on her right thigh. He did that, and she asked him, "Can you see him?" He said, "Yes, I can still see him."

Then she told him to sit on her lap. When he did that, she asked if he could still see him. And, once again, Mo said, "Yes."

Finally, Khadija threw off her veil and "disclosed her form" while Mo was sitting in her lap, and said, "Can you still see him?" This time Mo said, "No."

From this test, Khadija knew for sure that Mo's imaginary friend was an angel and not a a satan.
She [Khadija] said to the apostle of God, 'O son of my uncle, are you able to tell me about your visitant, when he comes to you?' He replied that he could, and she asked him to tell her when he came. So when Gabriel came to him, as he was wont, the apostle said to Khadija, 'This is Gabriel who has just come to me.' 'Get up, O son of my uncle, she said, 'and sit by my left thigh'. The apostle did so, and she said, 'Can you see him?' 'Yes,' he said. She said, 'Then turn round and sit on my right thigh.' He did so, and she said, 'Can you see him?' When he said that he could she asked him to move and sit in her lap. When he had done this she again asked if he could see him, and when he said yes, she disclosed her form and cast aside her veil whil the apostle was sitting in her lap. Then she said, 'Can you see him?' And he replied, 'No.' She said, 'O son of my uncle, rejoice and be of good heart, by God he is an angel and not a satan.'
Now those of you who have been corrupted by Western influences may not understand this test. So let me explain it to you.

You see, if Mo's friend was a satan, he wouldn't mind hanging around while a woman took off her veil and started messing around with a man. In fact, he'd enjoy it. But not an angel. The sight of an unveiled woman would be so disgusting to an angel, that he'd leave -- which is what Mo's friend did. Therefore, Mo's mysterious imaginary friend must be an angel. QED.

So now we know for sure that the Quran (or at least the first five verses) was revealed by an angel and not a satan.

And yet, strangely, for all of Allah, Gabriel, and Mo's shenanigans, there's not much in this surah.

Here's a summary:

Humans were created from a clot.
Thy Lord ... createth man from a clot. 96:1-2
If you deny Allah, he'll grab you by the forelock and throw you in hell.
If he denieth (Allah's guidance) ... We will seize him by the forelock - The lying, sinful forelock - [and] We will call the guards of hell. 96:13-18
(Note: The "forelock" that Allah refers to here is not what you think it is. It is, according to Muslim scholars, the prefrontal cortex. Allah will grab you by your lying, sinful prefrontal lobe and throw your ass into hell. You can read all about it here. It's just one of the many scientific miracles of the Quran.)
That's it. That's all Allah had to say in Surah 96. Maybe he'll do better in his next revelation.

16 October 2012

A question for Mitt Romney in tonight's debate: Is dark skin a punishment from God?

Brother Bri Bri's readings from the Book of Mormon:
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. And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people ... 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. 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. 2 Nephi 5:21-24
Their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white pure and delightsome people. 2 Nephi 30:6 
(Note: In the original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 30:6 read "white and delightsome", but this was later changed  to hide its obvious racism.)
It came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites; And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites; And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites. 3 Nephi 2:14-16

11 October 2012

SAB Book Pre-Orders Now Available

It's been a long time coming (more than 20 years), but it's finally here.

Okay, well, it's not really here, but at least it's to the printer. And if you pre-order it now, you can save 20% off the cover price while getting free shipping. Heck I'll even sign it for you.

Here's the link.

SAB Book Advance Pre-Order

07 October 2012

Jacob 5: A tale of two olive trees (and a new SAB category)

In the last chapter, Jacob told us (using many more words than was necessary) about the difficulty of engraving words on plates. Now he tells us about two olive trees.

This is the longest and most boring chapter in the most boring book ever written (The Book of Mormon). Thirty-one times it came to pass that the trees were cumbered, grafted, pruned, plucked, dunged, and digged about for no apparent purpose, except to waste 3733 words.  I've read it several times, but I have no idea what it is about. Someone should ask Mitt Romney.

Still, I'm glad I read it, because it inspired me to create a new SAB category: the boring stuff. Now I can give the genealogies in the Bible their proper emphasis, along with pretty much all of Ezra and Nehemiah. And then, of course, there are the 19 chapters of Isaiah that God and/or Joseph Smith used as filler in the Book of Mormon.

Unfortunately, the new category won't appear in the SAB book, which has been sent off to the printer. Oh well, maybe the next edition.

05 October 2012

Jacob 4: On the difficulty of engraving words upon plates

Jacob begins chapter 4 by using 150 words to tell us that he can't use many words because of the difficulty of engraving words on plates.
Now behold, it came to pass that I, Jacob, having ministered much unto my people in word, (and I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of engraving our words upon plates) and we know that the things which we write upon plates must remain; But whatsoever things we write upon anything save it be upon plates must perish and vanish away; but we can write a few words upon plates, which will give our children, and also our beloved brethren, a small degree of knowledge concerning us, or concerning their fathers --  Now in this thing we do rejoice; and we labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents. Jacob 4:1-3 
Still, he needs to engrave his words on plates so he can tell the Nephites about the birth of Jesus, which will happen 550 or so years in the future. Of course, all this is old news by now, as it has been announced many times before by Lehi, Nephi, and himself. (See 1 Nephi 1:8-11, 10:3-11, 11.1-36, 12:6-10, 14:7, 19:8-122 Nephi 9:3-54, 11:4-7, 33:10)

There is something new that he has to say, though. Well, it's new to me, anyway. Here it is:
All the holy prophets which were before us ... believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name. Jacob 4:4-5
Yep, that's right: All the prophets in the Hebrew scriptures (Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc.) believed in Jesus and worshiped God in Jesus' name -- hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

And here's something else you should know: Nephites (and I guess Mormons too) can command trees, mountains, and ocean waves to do whatever they want.
We truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea. Jacob 4:6
And then, once again, Jacob tells us about the evil Jews. (See 1 Nephi 1:19, 2:11-13, 19:13-14; 2 Nephi 10:3, 25:2 for previous insults to Jews.)
The Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness ... they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them ... God hath done it, that they may stumble. Jacob 4:14
Jews are "a stiffnecked people" who "despised the words of plainness," killed the prophets, and sought understanding. For this, God has blinded them and "taken away his plainness from them" so "that they may stumble."

It must have made the Jews sad when God took away his plainness from them. God's plainness is one of the things I like best about him.

01 October 2012

The book is even worse than the movie. Let's burn it.

In terms of its production quality, "The Innocence of Muslims" is an awful film, though its content was accurate enough. Muhammad was a fraud, pedophile, polygamist, and murderer. No other person in history has caused so much harm to human well-being.

But Muhammad's book (the Quran) is even worse than the man or the movie. It may in fact be the worst book ever written (although the Bible and the Book of Mormon are close competitors).

Last month, on September 11, U.S. Embassies and Consulates were attacked and four Americans were murdered because "The Innocence of Muslims" offended the sensibilities of Muslims. A week or so later, some naked Muhammad cartoons appeared that further offended them. And then on Saturday, Muslims in Bangladesh burned at least a dozen Buddhist temples and monasteries and more than 50 Buddhist homes.

But this time, it wasn't about the movie or the cartoons; it was about the book.

Someone posted a picture on Facebook of a burning Quran.  And the person who posted the picture was believed to be Buddhist. That's all it took.

Well, I think it's time that we all do what we can to offend the sensibilities of Muslims. 

Watch the god-awful movie. Post a naked Muhammad cartoon. Display the image of a burning Quran on your Facebook page or website. Or burn the damned book itself. The world would be a much better place without it.

Just be sure to burn an Arabic Quran. You probably can't read it anyway, but, according to Muslims, it's the only one that Allah can read. Because Allah, it turns out, is not only imaginary, he's also monolingual.

In any case, you can always read the Quran (in English, anyway -- I, unfortunately, am also monolingual)  at the SAQ. I promise to keep it up until the last English-speaking Muslim becomes an apostate.