Thursday, August 14, 2014

It was the still, small voice...

Recently I watched the new Russell Crowe movie, Noah.  It was an interesting adaptation of the Bible story of Noah and the flood.  I know that some Christians have given poor reviews of the film, especially the portrayal of the giants.  They were offended that the "watchers"  were made of rocks.  That aspect didn't bother me--although there was one part of the film that was disturbing and sparked my memory about another scriptural story.  This one isn't in the Bible, but in the Mormon scripture--the Book of Mormon.




Now to be fair, much of the  film is the director's own artistic interpretation.  There are many elements in the movie that do not have elements in the biblical story.  Basically it combines the Noah story with myth, fiction and references from other Old Testament stories.  That being said, there was one scene that reminded me of the story of Nephi--another story that combines Old Testament influence with myth and fiction.  I'm talking of the story of Nephi obtaining the  brass plates.

A little background, Nephi is told by his father that he must go and get the brass plates which contain the word of God.  This would ensure that Lehi and all his descendants wouldn't stray from God's ways.  I pick up where Nephi and his brothers have failed twice to get the holy plates.

And it was by night; and I caused that they should hide themselves without the walls. And after they had hid themselves, I, Nephi, crept into the city and went forth towards the house of Laban.
 And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.
 Nevertheless I went forth, and as I came near unto the house of Laban I beheld a man, and he had fallen to the earth before me, for he was drunken with wine.
 And when I came to him I found that it was Laban.
 And I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel.
 10 And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.
 11 And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and he also had taken away our property.
 12 And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands;
 13 Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.
 14 And now, when I, Nephi, had heard these words, I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that: Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise.
 15 Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law.
 16 And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass.
 17 And again, I knew that the Lord had delivered Laban into my hands for this cause—that I might obtain the records according to his commandments.
 18 Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword.



To members of the Mormon church this story shows the importance of obedience to God.  From the previous chaper, we learn  that  according to Nephi, God will;

 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

This story is similar to the movie of Noah, where both were faced with a difficult decision.  A decision to take the life of a defenseless individual.  It is similar to the story of Abraham and Isaac.  Abraham was commanded by God to kill his defenseless son, only to be stopped by an angel.  The moral of the story was obedience to God above all else.  In the movie, Noah's better judgement took over and he didn't kill his granddaughters.  In the story of Nephi, a different outcome occurred.  Nephi obeyed the voice and cut off Laban's head.   

There is an interesting post by a blogger that justified the killing of Laban based on 3 offenses.  1. False accusation, 2. Robbery, and 3. Attempted murder.    According to the Book of Mormon, Laban calls Nephi and his brothers thieves  (1 Nephi 3:13);

  13 And behold, it came to pass that Laban was angry, and thrust him out from his presence; and he would not that he should have the records. Wherefore, he said unto him: Behold thou art a robber, and I will slay thee.

Here Laban accuses Nephi's brother of stealing, then Laban threatened him with death.   The brothers escape.  Later on, maybe they were in disguise, because Laban didn't recognize them, Nephi and his brothers then decide to take their father's wealth and try to buy the plates;

  22 And it came to pass that we went down to the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold, and our silver, and our precious things.
 23 And after we had gathered these things together, we went up again unto the house of Laban.
 24 And it came to pass that we went in unto Laban, and desired him that he would give unto us the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, for which we would give unto him our gold, and our silver, and all our precious things.
 25 And it came to pass that when Laban saw our property, and that it was exceedingly great, he did lust after it, insomuch that he thrust us out, and sent his servants to slay us, that he might obtain our property.
 26 And it came to pass that we did flee before the servants of Laban, and we were obliged to leave behind our property, and it fell into the hands of Laban.

Here is where Laban robs them of their property.  

 22 And it came to pass that we went down to the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold, and our silver, and our precious things.
 23 And after we had gathered these things together, we went up again unto the house of Laban.
 24 And it came to pass that we went in unto Laban, and desired him that he would give unto us the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, for which we would give unto him our gold, and our silver, and all our precious things.
 25 And it came to pass that when Laban saw our property, and that it was exceedingly great, he did lust after it, insomuch that he thrust us out, and sent his servants to slay us, that he might obtain our property.
 26 And it came to pass that we did flee before the servants of Laban, and we were obliged to leave behind our property, and it fell into the hands of Laban.

A bothersome aspect of the story is the brutal manner in which Nephi killed Laban.  Why kill him why couldn't he take his clothes and go and steal the plates?  He could have still taken Laban's servant with him.   Why would killing Laban keep the Jews from tracking them down out in the wilderness.  It seems that by killing him, more people would be alarmed.  Killing Laban, being a prominent member of society, would raise red flags--leading to the hunting down of Lehi and his family.

 The most disturbing part of the story is the voice Nephi hears and  ultimately follows.  It is telling that Nephi has an internal struggle with the voice inside his head.  He knows what is moral in the beginning, but in the end throws out his rational thinking,  kills Laban, dresses in his clothes, pretends to be Laban and steals the plates. 

 I find it ironic that, according to the TBM blogger, Nephi was justified in killing Laban for 3 reasons--while Nephi is guilty of those same 3 offenses.

Nephi accuses Laban of being a wicked man (1 Nephi 4:13);


 13 Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.

Nephi also steals the plates from Laban's treasury after pretending to be Laban and fooling Laban's servant.


 20 And after I had done this, I went forth unto the treasury of Laban. And as I went forth towards the treasury of Laban, behold, I saw the servant of Laban who had the keys of the treasury. And I commanded him in the voice of Laban, that he should go with me into the treasury.
 21 And he supposed me to be his master, Laban, for he beheld the garments and also the sword girded about my loins.
 22 And he spake unto me concerning the elders of the Jews, he knowing that his master, Laban, had been out by night among them.
 23 And I spake unto him as if it had been Laban.
 24 And I also spake unto him that I should carry the engravings, which were upon the plates of brass, to my elder brethren, who were without the walls.
 25 And I also bade him that he should follow me.
 26 And he, supposing that I spake of the brethren of the church, and that I was truly that Laban whom I had slain, wherefore he did follow me.

And the most offensive act is that Nephi just didn't attempt to murder Laban, he brutally cut off his head while Laban was passed out.

18 Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword. 

Nephi is guilty of the same crimes as Laban, only he follows through with the killing of a defenseless man.  He has no moral stance.  No wonder his brothers were always tying him up and leaving him.  





I'm no psychologist, but Nephi's story sounds eerily similar to the Lafferty brother's experience with voices inside their heads.  I think every member of the Mormon church should read Jon Krakauer's book Under the Banner of Heaven:  A Story of Violent Faith.   (Wikipedia);


The book opens with news accounts of the 1984 murder of Brenda Lafferty and her infant daughter Erica. Brenda was married to the youngest Lafferty brother, Allen. Older brothers Dan and Ron targeted their sister-in-law because they believed she was the reason Ron's wife left him (after refusing to allow him to marry a plural/second wife). Both men's extremism reached new heights when they became members of the School of the Prophets founded and led by Robert Crossfield. After joining the school, Ron claimed that God had sent him revelations. Communication with God is a core belief of fundamentalist Mormonism as well as the mainstream LDS Church.[1] Ron showed the members of the School of Prophets a written "removal revelation" that allegedly called for the killing of Brenda and her baby. After other members of the School failed to honor Ron's removal revelation, the brothers quit the School.
The murders were particularly cruel, with Dan claiming that he slit the victims' throats. However, at trial, Chip Carnes, who was riding in the getaway car, testified that Ron said he had killed Brenda[2] and that Ron also thanked his brother for "doing the baby."

Having voices in one's head can be a debilitating condition.  

 

Voices In My Head & Depression

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I dont know what to do: I’m on here because of a few isuse. First, there is a voice in my head I can’t hear it as if someone was next to talking but I can here it. It is starting to dictate how I do things for example. I drop a piece of trash on the ground. The tells me if I don’t pick it up right then my car will break down. I’m only worried because the other night the same voice was telling me to harm my girl friend because she was going to become a demon and kill me. I was diagnost with depression a few years ago. They did an iq test which I got a 153 on and some other test that I’m not sure what they are. I’ve thought about. Killing myself from time to time but I know it would just cause more problems for everyone else. Thanks for listening.
A. This is a problem that needs to be investigated by a mental health professional. It is unusual to hear voices telling you to harm yourself or others. Some individuals who have schizophrenia, or other related psychotic disorders, have reported hearing voices telling them to harm themselves or others. It is a concern that you are hearing such voices.
There is medication that can decrease or eliminate the voices. Antipsychotic medication is designed to treat those symptoms, among others. Talk with a mental health professional about which medication would be most effective for you.
It is also concerning that you have thought about killing yourself. It is not normal to want to end your life. It’s unclear whether the motivation behind your suicidal thoughts are the voices. It may also be depression or a combination of the two. It is important that you see a mental health professional to address these problems. 

When is hearing voices in your head from God or yourself?  A member would say,  if you are a prophet or are doing the work of the Lord then it is from God.  If it is something that is not good then it is not God.  In the Book of Mormon we learn;

 13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
 14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.


What is the difference between the Lafferty brothers and Nephi?  Now I must state that Nephi wasn't really an actual person but  the story is the same.  Both Nephi and Ron and Dan, felt God was talking to them.  They were both told to perform horrific acts.  All felt they were righteous and doing the correct thing.  This is where religion gets dangerous.   Members of the Mormon church honor the story of Nephi.  He was God's chosen vessel.  The end justifies the means.  Rape, kill, pillage, steal, etc.. whatever it takes.  God is on our side.  He told me so.

CS 

 

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