It’s Wednesday. I clearly wasn’t set on posting this, but then I read James Norton’s The X2 Guide to US Foreign Policy and figured, what the heck. All that purely Revelations-based analysis of the latest End of The World was leaving me unsatisfied.
Not listening too closely to the sermon Sunday morning, I cracked open the ole Book of Mormon for a diverting read. (Just letting the Bible fall open’s far more unpredictable, what with those vast stretches of Old Testament, and that giant concordance and dictionary tacked on.)
[Background: Joseph Smith translated the BOM from golden plates unearthed by an angel in upstate New York. It’s the religious history of pre- and post-Christ-era believers in the western hemisphere. I’m sure there’s a more overtly persuasive description at Mormon.org.]
Anyway, the book fell open to Alma, ch. 51, smack in the middle of the long account of the wars between the Good (believing) tribe and the Evil (fallen) tribe (the Nephites and Lamanites, respectively, although < SPOILER ALERT > they switch places later on), a section I’d always imagined was there to encourage teenage boys to keep reading and make more enthusiastic missionaries.
It’s 67 BC, and there’s political turmoil afoot among the Nephites, which is filtered here through the all-knowing perspective of the AD 400 editor/abridger (Mormon) and the stiff 19th century prose of the translator (Smith). Still, it seemed annoyingly topical.
5 And it came to pass that those who were desirous that Pahoran should be dethroned from the judgment-seat were called king-men, for they were desirous that the law should be altered in a manner to overthrow the free government and to establish a king over the land.
6 And those who were desirous that Pahoran should remain chief judge over the land took upon them the name of freemen; and thus was the division among them, for the freemen had sworn or covenanted to maintain their rights and the privileges of their religion by a free government.
7 And it came to pass that this matter of their contention was settled by the voice of the people. And it came to pass that the voice of the people came in favor of the freemen, and Pahoran retained the judgment-seat, which caused much rejoicing among the brethren of Pahoran and also many of the people of liberty, who also put the king-men to silence, that they durst not oppose but were obliged to maintain the cause of freedom.
8 Now those who were in favor of kings were those of ahigh birth, and they sought to be kings; and they were supported by those who sought power and authority over the people.
9 But behold, this was a critical time for such contentions to be among the people of Nephi; for behold, Amalickiah had again stirred up the hearts of the people of the Lamanites against the people of the Nephites, and he was gathering together soldiers from all parts of his land, and arming them, and preparing for war with all diligence; for he had sworn to drink the blood of Moroni.