Ironic: Current Anti-Mormons Just Copying Anti-Mormons in Book of Mormon

One of my favorite things about the Book of Mormon is how fully it presents the emotional depth of mature life experiences.  It profoundly describes, for example, both the crushing frustration and the soaring ecstasy of missionary work (Alma 31 and Alma 26, respectively), the anguish of parents who worry about straying children (2 Nephi 1, Alma 39), and the utter loneliness of those whose devotion to God has made them outcasts among their own people (Jacob 7:26, Ether 13:13-14, Moroni 1:1-3).

It seems unreasonable to me to think that undereducated, 23-year-old farm laborer Joseph Smith could have fathomed these extreme feelings, much less could have imagined them in rich detail.

Another example: there are three characters in the Book of Mormon who make it their professional business to publicly oppose the work of the Church, arguing that the beliefs of the Saints are wrong (Jacob 7, Alma 1, Alma 30).  By far the most fully developed of these is Korihor, the Nietzsche wanna-be in Alma 30.  The Book of Mormon presents his rhetoric in ample, sophisticated texture.  The prophet Alma ultimately engages him and responds to each attack with withering, syllogistic precision.  Their dialogue is worthy of Aristotle’s tales of Socrates.  And we’re supposed to believe that this, also, was written by the unlettered and inexperienced Smith?

But most impressive to me of all this, these days, is just how presciently Korihor prefigures the current spate of elite Anti-Mormon commentators who seek to enlighten the unwashed masses about the insane, conniving cultists from Utah in this cultural “Mormon moment.”  Continue reading

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It’s Just Hitch Being Hitch…

International columnist and atheist advocate Christopher Hitchens has a new syndicated column in Slate, which also ran in my local Las Vegas Review Journal today.  As always, his writing is passionate, clever, and lucid.  And, also like much of his writing, it is very, very wrong. 

Now, I actually agree with his ultimate thesis: that the freedom of religion, like freedom of speech, is not an absolute: speech is limited by not being able to yell, “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and religion is limited by, for example, not being able to deny emergency medical care to children (one example that Hitchens uses).  Hitchens discusses this to make his main point in the article: that Islam, as it comes into increased contact with the West, must reform some of its aspects, such as its hostility to criticism.  If it doesn’t happen voluntarily, Hitchens implies (referring to the first half of the article), it must be done by force.   

Well, sure, this is an important conversation to have now, and many others have already said as much.  The general agreement that as new cultures increasingly interact, there must be adaptation, is so common, in fact, that one wonders why Hitch feels compelled to repeat it.  It’s not like him to be unoriginal. 

But the first half of the article is where he shines, and where his heart clearly is.  This article is just a platform for him to do his favorite thing in the world: bash religion. 

However, Hitch reveals his own lazy prejudices when he does this: his evidence and arguments against religion are sloppy, to say the least. 

Consider the religion that takes more heat in the article than any other, even Islam itself: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Yes, Hitch has some opinions about the Mormons.  Continue reading

Christmas Is For Christians (And Their Friends)

I just re-read a thundering post I put up a year ago about a major concern of mine this time of year.  The mainstream culture’s war on Christmas has me wanting to mount a backlash.  In light of the economic meltdown and bailouts, a lot has been said this year about Ayn Rand and striking against the system.  I wonder if it’s time for Christians to “strike,” at least in terms of taking back their holiday from the secular mainstream that has watered it down and now wants to deny the validity of the original completely. 

The language in my original may have been a little harsh–I don’t really think that only Christians should celebrate Christmas.  It’s important to be able to share our traditions and beliefs with others, and certainly I don’t mean to deny the celebration of Christmas to anyone just because they may not exactly be devout.  However, yes, it does bother me when that growing body of society that denigrates Christians, that belittles God, and that wants to flout the Western world’s–and especially America’s–Christian heritage, or strip our public realm of it entirely, still wants to put up a tree and get presents. 

If atheist warriors like Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins want to put up lights or a tree this year, they’d better face a huge groundswell of protest from outraged Christians. 

Continue reading